Aigle World Cup Preview

Ah, so nice to have Internet access…. Just sitting in the Ibis hotel in Thonon-Les-Bains, France. Had a great supper here at the hotel with my dad, Gabby Day and Greg Germmer. Not bad food and excellent conversation. Great way to unwind after a good solid day at the race course.

Well, we stopped up last night in the public parking lot in the RV…. It worked out fairly well and we both slept until 9 this morning. I think I’ve still got a bit of jet lag but nothing too terrible. We hit the road just before 10 with a couple places in mind. First up was the Decathlon sports store – excellent sports department store and then a quick hit in the grocery store and we were off.

It rained today. Steady. Not crazy hard – just enough to make the course wet and a bit greasy in spots. First surprise of the day was seeing Luc, his wife and friend Johnny! They came from Belgium in their RV to watch the race. So had a few words with them and they showed us how to get to the rider parking. Pulled in next to Jonathan Page and had a good chat with him. Then it was off with Gabby to check out the course. It took us a while to get on the course as we kept on bumping into people we knew! So nice to be back here with the European racing crowd.

So the course…. Well there are lots of steep ups and downs but nothing that needs more than a sprint and a solid burst of speed to get over. There is the tricky off-camber onto the road – I tried this numerous times with multiple lines and cannot get it 100 per cent. So my strategy is to commit to get off and run the part where I’m stalling. The bumps in the BMX park are a lot of fun. There is an intense sand pit – it is not long but it is not rideable. The sand is sooo deep and very very fine – even running it is challenging. After the sand it is a big sprint up a steepish grass climb, a ride across a very narrow ledge and an almost straight drop down. Then up and over some very large steps/stairs and with only a bike length of flat ground, onto the bike and down a very bump and steep descent. Onto the grass, over some double barriers, tight turns and then onto the pavement.

So the course has pretty much everything. Steep ups. Steep downs. Sand. Bumpy grass. Pavement. BMX bumps. Stairs. Barriers. “Catch your breath descents”. All in all, a very fun course.

I got in three good laps with Gabby. Super helpful to ride with her. We tried different lines and gave each other courage for the two intense descents. Many thanks to Greg for hosing off my bike for me. Got some tips on tire pressure from Nicole and Danny – apparently I’m running too much pressure! 18 psi is recommended! Then it was off to number pick-up and the manager’s meeting.

Now we’re just relaxing at the hotel. The room is a mess with my bikes, went soggy clothes and various other things scattered about. Pretty good room considering the price – not spacious by North American standards but good for European standards.

We are heading out at around 9 tomorrow morning so we can get some good parking. Definitely nice to have the RV at the race – plenty of room to relax in and to get changed in. The awning is great to keep the bikes out of the rain as well.

I’m racing at 1:30 so send me some fast vibes then. Looking forward to racing the first World Cup of the 2010-2011 season. I’m feeling good. Legs felt good today. I feel confident about the course – there isn’t anything that is stressing me out. Good times tomorrow.

Marc is just about to start his race in Toronto so think of him now and send him some speedy vibes. The trip so far has been great. Wish Marc could be here to experience these races.

(I know promised to post some photos… But it is almost 10 and I haven’t dug out the stuff I need to download the photos… Sorry! At least this way you have something to look forward to.)

No guarantees on when I’ll get a race report up… All depends on the Internet connection. At the very least I’ll try to get Marc to post something on his Facebook or on my Facebook.

Remember to send me those speedy vibes!

Thonon-Les-Bains, France

Well, now in Thonon-Les-Bains, France – just 45 kilometers from Aigle, Switzerland. After a bit of driving on Thursday night and then some more today we made it to Aigle at around 2:00.

First stop was a bicycle store as I had a problem with my rear brake. Lucked out and found an excellent bike store called Dom Cycles and was treated to some amazing service by Stefan. Stefan fixed the brake problem, straightened my derailleur hangar, checked out my shifting, took my rear wheel apart and told me that the free hub was almost “kaput”, double-checked that I put the stem together properly and then did the same for my other bike. So both bikes are now in top condition with everything working properly. He definitely does not like the “lawyer tabs” on my front forks and offered to shave them off. Stefan showed me a special skewer nut that you can use if you don’t have the lawyer tabs – it still gives the security of the lawyer tabs but makes it easier to do wheel changes – though they don’t work well for cycle-cross (these skewer nuts were invented in France).

Got out for a great 60 minute ride today. Started at the UCI headquarters and jumped on some pretty awesome bicycle paths. The bicycle path system is comparable to that of the one in Holland. Had a great ride along a river with the mountains looming on either side. (Took some photos that I’ll post with the next post.) Took a quick look at the course – from what I can see it is going to be very challenging. Lots of off-camber corners/climbs. We ride on the BMX track over a part of the pump track. The elevation is pretty flat but there are very steep ups and downs (but short). Speed, acceleration and keeping a high cadence will be critical. It is super dry right now and I’m hoping it stays that way. I did see some guys running some of the cambered corner/climbs – hard to know what to do.

Planning on going to the course a bit early tomorrow so I can practice the key technical sections when it is not super busy. Took a poke around the UCI headquarters as well – the indoor velodrome is pretty swank. Lots going on with the velodrome, BMX course, cyclo-cross course, and the bicycle paths just behind it.

We are stopped for the night in the RV in a public parking lot with two other RVs. So far the RV is working out well. Plenty of space and it is super convenient to not have to worry about finding restaurants or hotels. Tomorrow night we’re staying in an Ibis hotel in Thonon-Les-Bains.

I’m feeling pretty good. The legs felt good today – I didn’t push it but I did a few accelerations to test out my body. So far so good. I think my body is responding to the iron infusions I had and the rest has helped as well.

Well, that’s it for now. (Sorry for the delay in posting but there is no free WiFi to be had and the SIM card I bought only works in the iPhone and not in my iPad. So you’ll get a bunch of posts at once – since we have WiFi at our hotel on Saturday… Again it might be a delay for a race report – but I’ll get Marc to post something on Facebook for me!)

Alright, time to shut this down and read a bit. Thanks again for all the encouragement and supportive emails. Looking forward to the race on on Sunday.


Just sitting here in the Frankfurt airport getting my bearings and waiting for my dad. Pretty easy flight. Had an entire row to myself so no complaints here. Tried to sleep but I find the Ottawa to Frankfurt a tough one to get any quality sleep on since you arrive basically at 12:30 a.m.

Nonetheless, the flight was uneventful. As usual I was tempted by the breakfast muffin. And as usual the muffin looked better than it tasted. Luckily I had a solid stash of Clif C bars in my carry-on so I didn’t have to soldier on with the muffin of unknown origins or flavor….

Bit chilly here in Frankfurt at 7:30 a.m. Around two degrees Celsius…

Just sitting here in the airport killing time. We had thought about going into Frankfurt but managing the train/bus combo is a bit much right now. So now we’re just kicking back for a bit. We can pick up the RV at 2:00 and then we’re hitting the open road, destination somewhere close to Thonon-Les-Bains, France. This is where we’re staying the night before the World Cup so to minimize too much travel/driving we’re hoping to get close to there today. Depends on fatigue, timing and driving conditions really.

Good news is that both of my bikes made it. Quite refreshing to see them waiting for me actually. None of that standing around and desperately hoping that the bikes magically appear from behind some big black locked door.

Not sure when I’ll get to post this. Hoping to post it tonight sometime. Definitely have to say I’m a fan of the iPad. I’ve got a handy little bluetooth keyboard which makes typing a breeze. Alright, next update will be tonight sometime I hope.

Pretty excited to be here. A little freaked out. I forget how big the World Cups are until I’m really close to racing one. But I’ve done it before and I know the drill. Go as hard as I can for 40 minutes.