Great Day

Today has been a most excellent day so far. (Well apart from when I fell down the stairs this morning…) But falling aside, this has just been a really good Thursday.

Kicked things off with a fun cyclo-cross practice session at Mooney’s Bay. I have to say – I really love helping people out and teaching them the skills I’ve learned over the years of racing and training for cyclo-cross. It is such a tremendous feeling to see people push their limits, learn a new skill, and simply smiling as they’re pedaling along. We had a really good session this morning. We worked on turning – including sweeping turns and tripoding and tight turns, then it was time to do some dismounts and mounts. Both Andrew and Sophie are looking good with their dismounts and mounts so it was time to push our boundaries a bit. We set up an uphill dismount that included a tricky downhill left corner into the barrier once up and over the barrier came a quick right turn down the hill. We played around with this, trying different techniques and testing ourselves. Soon enough they were cruising into the barrier, having only used their rear brake and with constant pedaling were keeping their rear wheels from slipping out. Next up was off-camber turning – again more focus on continually pedaling, looking ahead, light brake pressure and learning to modulate speed. To close off the session I set up a 5 by 4 grid on the face of the hill and we practiced uphill turning and downhill turning – I find this is a great drill since it allows you to practice so many key skills at once: looking ahead, constant pedal pressure, turning, learning to let your bike “fall”, and pushing your limits with downhill turning speed. All in all, an excellent session. Amazing what you can cover in 90 minutes. Thanks Andrew and Sophie for coming out – it truly was a great way to start my day. (I really do get a rush from teaching people and seeing them learn.)

To round out the day, it is also new bike day! Yay! Many thanks to Vince at The Cyclery and Stevens Bikes Canada for the new bike. I now have two brand spanking-new Stevens Carbon Team DA bikes in my garage. Pretty darn sweet. I’m stoked to race these bike this weekend. Already from the training I’ve done, I’ve found the bike to be super responsive and it turns really smoothly. Not to mention that is is nice and light – I barely notice it when I pick it up and put it on my shoulder. The paint job is sharp and the extra finishing touches just make the Stevens Carbon Team DA look super fast and smooth.

To close off the day, I’m hooking up with young Karl for some cyclo-cross skills action and some video taping action. Lets hope the rain holds off for a little bit. What a soggy week we’ve had. Amazing September rolls in and all of a sudden the sun, heat, and calm days are gone. Lets hope we get a bit more heat before the month is out!

Pretty excited to race this weekend. I’m not putting any pressure on myself for the races. I just want to go out and leave it all on the course. If I do this, I know a good performance and outcome will follow.

Alright, I best be off. I’m heading to the garage to put pedals on the new bike and to play around a bit. Fun on bikes – doesn’t get much better.

(Check back this weekend for race reports.)

Motoring Along

This morning I realized that I’m ready. Really ready. I got out for a ride behind the motorbike and the body sensations were good. (Can’t say much for the ridiculous wind…) But nonetheless it was an excellent ride. Nothing quite like the feeling of speed when sitting just off the back of the motorbike with the legs spinning at 115 rpm and the wattage numbers looking sharp. Does so much for the body, mind, and soul. Just what I need a few days out from my first race of the season.

Tomorrow is looking like another most excellent day of cyclo-cross action. I’ve got a cyclo-cross practice session in the morning. Followed by a spin on the ‘cross bike. Then in the evening I’m hooking up with Karl and maybe Marc and Evan for some ‘cross skills work and a little bit of videotaping. A good day indeed.

I find the hardest thing for me these days is to take it easy. I’m feeling so good and I just want to squeeze as much as I can out of every training ride. I’m so tempted to throw in extra work-outs and to extend every ride. I know – this is not the best way to do things. I’m trying really hard not to do “too much”. Yes, it is possible to do to much. I have to remember I’ve got some busy weeks of travel and racing coming up. I guess it is just because I’m feeling so good and I feel as though I’ve progressed so far this summer that I want to see what else I can get out of myself. All in due time I suppose.

Pretty much all the plans have come together now for the cyclo-cross season. I finalized a car lease today – thanks to AutoCar Europe for the outstanding assistance. I managed to lease a Peugeot Tepee at a very reasonable price. This is a big weight off my mind. The Las Vegas trip is all sorted now – thanks to uber-planner and sponsor Skip Williams of KingsBridge for helping make this trip possible.

Actually, this is the perfect time to say thank-you to all my sponsors. The season starts on Saturday and truly without their support, I don’t know what I’d be doing. So without further adieu – thanks to the fine companies and individuals who are making my cyclo-cross racing dreams and goals a real possibility and reality for me:

  • KingsBridge: what can I say about this company of fine people? KingsBridge helps me out with all the “behind the scenes” stuff needed to make a cyclo-cross racing season come together. Owner Skip Williams had never heard of cyclo-cross until he started sponsoring me – and now he’s coming down to Cross Vegas to take in the action! Check out the KingsBridge blog, follow KingsBridge on Twitter, and check out the Facebook page.
  • The Cyclery: each time I walk into The Cyclery I really am overwhelmed. Owner Vince Caceres and his staff really do go that extra mile for me. Whether it is ordering in new chainrings, helping me choose new shoes, answering endless questions about my gear, and helping me out of last minute jams. My Stevens Bikes are built and maintained at The Cyclery – and for this I’m so grateful for – I know that they are well-built and will run perfectly all season. Vince does so much for the Ottawa cycling community that really does go overlooked – it is not often you’ll find a business owner who is willing to do so much for others for so little in return. If you’re looking for a bike, a helmet, shoes, some snazzy Icebreaker clothing, or maybe you just want to look at some cool bikes – be sure to visit The Cyclery.
  • Stevens Bikes: the support that Stevens Bikes gives me really is more than I can have ever imagined. I’m super lucky to have two brand new Stevens Carbon Team DA cyclo-cross bikes to race on this season. I’ve been riding Stevens Bikes since 2008 and I really wouldn’t have it any other way. The bikes are super reliable, fast, they turn well, take a beating, and they look damn good. Can’t ask for much more out of a bike. Thanks so much to Stevens Bikes Canada for the amazing support – I feel pretty fortunate to be riding on such solid cyclo-cross bikes and to have the Stevens Bikes logo on my clothing. Be sure to check out the new line-up of Stevens Bikes and don’t forget to follow Stevens Bikes Canada on Twitter and to visit the Stevens Bikes Canada Facebook page.
  • Champion Systems Canada: thanks to this clothing company, my Ottawa Cross clothing looks darn sharp. Not only does it look good, it fits well and I’m well prepared for the cyclo-cross season. Snow, mud, rain, ice, and the cold won’t be an issue thanks to the warm, waterproof and resilient clothing. I’m literally covered from head to toe with skinsuits, base layers, jerseys, thermal vests, thermal jackets, bib tights and for off the bike, I’ve got a waterproof, windproof, three-in-one coat to keep me toasty. If you need clothing and you want it done right and on-time, do yourself a favor and contact Champions Systems Canada.
  • Clif Bar: mmm, Peanut Butter Crunch, Chocolate Mint, Double Expresso, Caramel Nut Brownie – can’t go wrong with these flavors in your jersey pocket. Clif Bar is one of these companies that really is rock solid. Not only do they make excellent products for bike racers like me, but the company itself is just top-notch. I like the product, I like the people, and I like what Clif Bar does for its community-at-large. Do yourself a favor, slide some Clif Shot Bloks (Tropical Punch is very tasty) and a Chocolate Mint Clif Bar into your jersey the next time you go for a ride. Believe me, you’ll be well-fueled and your taste buds will thank-you. Oh, and to learn more about nutrition and sports, be sure to listen to the ClifCast.
  • Bell Lap Coaching: Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching makes it all happen. This is the guy with the plan, the vision, the knowledge, the patience, and the wisdom to make my racing seasons come together. No challenge is to big for Steve – when I told him I wanted to race at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships, he didn’t blink – he just said that “we’d make it happen”. This guy keeps me from doing too much and for pushing me that extra bit when I need it. His advice and knowledge really make the difference between a coach and a trainer. Bell Lap Coaching is going to get you where you want to be.
  • Outdoor Gear Canada: thanks to Outdoor Gear Canada, I’m riding on and using the best equipment out there. Fast and reliable wheels? Thanks to OGC, I’ve got them. A flashy and rock-solid helmet? Yep – got one of these as well. Stiff shoes that can take a beating? Oh yah, I’ve got these. OGC fills in the blanks for me and makes sure that I’ve got all the pieces I need to keep me rolling along quickly, safely, and smoothly. And I’ve got to say, yellow shoes are pretty darn awesome!
  • Oakley: be fast and look good – this is easily done thanks to Oakley. I’ve got some pretty hot glasses to wear this season including my pick of lenses to suit any light and course conditions. I’ve got to say that having worn Oakley glasses, I don’t think I can go back to my dollar store specials. These glasses really are the bomb. Beyond glasses, Oakley can set you up with some solid and durable luggage and snazzy clothing. Oakley – really what else is there to say?

Thanks so much for the support this season. I’m looking forward to another great year with many good things to come. I’ve set the bar high again this year, because really there is no other way to race or live.