Tabor World Cup Pre-Ride

I just got back from pre-riding the Tabor World Cup cyclcocross course. It is similar to the course I raced on in 2010 but there are also some big changes. Changes that I think have made the course even more challenging. The start is flat and fast and quickly we enter a series of steep ups and flowing corners. Then it is up a draggy climb and a fast run up some very big stairs. The course continues to climb after the stairs and we then descend down the hill with a series of straight stretches combined with a bunch of corners. A quick zip by the pit and then onto the steep uphill barriers. This is where the real climbing begins and then after a climb that seems to last forever we hit a quick section and a short steep descent, a fast little ridge (in the world champs we descended this and then ran up the hill – second set of stairs) and then it is a big descent leading into some tricky corners and by the pit for the second time.

The course is definitely more technical than the course we raced on last weekend in Plzen. The corners are very crucial and maintaining speed and flow between them and the straight draggy sections will be important. The steep descent is pretty harmless though there are some big ruts already – but the section is wide so there is lots of room to choose a line that you’re comfortable with.

Overall, it is a fun and challenging course. It is all big ring except the section after the stairs and the barriers. Today during the pre-ride the current World Champion Zdnek Stybar was out pre-riding – we waited at the barriers to see if he would bunny-hop them but we couldn’t convince him to do it! It is very cool to see someone so smooth on his bike – he makes everything look effortless.

I’m feeling pretty good about the course. The key for me is to really let the bike go in the corners – this is something I struggle with, but if I can stay confident and calm I should be fine. It is interesting – Nancy said to me today “I think you pre-rode better today than you raced last Sunday”. This is an interesting comment since often during the pre-ride and day of warm-up I’m able to go easy on the brakes but during the race, I tend to over brake. Not sure what this is all about….

I must admit I’m feeling a bit stressed about the course. You see, I like the course – it is good for someone like me with a lot of power – but the flip side is that there are a lot of girls with lots of power as well. But all I can do is all I can do. I’ll go out and give it my all. I know where to really bury myself and I feel comfortable with all sections of the course. I just will go out and ride as hard as I can. Maybe stressed is the wrong word – but I guess I’m just feeling the typical day before nerves.

One thing that does help today is having Ignace here. He has done so much for me – it is amazing. The parking at the race is not the best so he has left his mobile home (camper) at the course so we’ll have a good spot for tomorrow. Complete with a tent, power washer, and a fridge full of Coke and Red Bull!

Tonight rather than going out I’ll connect with Nancy who has brought a portable burner and hotplate with her – this way I can make some of my own food and not have to find some good pre-race food. I find it is a bit challenging when I need to avoid gluten and dairy. Tonight I’ll have some rice with a bunch of veggies and also cook up some rice to eat before the race. A big thanks to Nancy and Andy for all of their help, support and friendship. Looks like I’ll be brining some extra maple syrup and Canada hoodies back with me to Belgium!

Alright, I’m going to watch some episodes of Modern Family and maybe the UFC from a few weeks ago. Thanks for the support, cheering, comments, emails and the belief. I really couldn’t do this without you guys backing me. Some days I wonder what I’m doing – but then I remember how low and sick I was last year and I’m super grateful to have this second chance.

If you see Marc this weekend – give him a big hug and kiss for me. Can’t wait to see him on Tuesday.


We’re heading out on Friday for the drive down to Gloucester, Mass. I’m really looking forward to this weekend of racing. It has been three years since I’ve raced at Gloucester – and back then I raced in the women’s 3/4 category. I remember watching the elite women race and wishing I could race with them – and now I am!

Gloucester is one of those race venues and weekends that really just encapsulates what cyclocross is about: top-notch venue, good crowds, lots and lots of racers, even more fans – there is a real sense of community and coming together at Gloucester. It is hard to explain but it really does capture all the really good aspects of our sport.

Not only is it fun to race at Gloucester but it is also fun to watch and cheer on the others racing. This weekend I’ll be cheering on Marc in the Masters race then getting sorted for my race. After that I’ll be able to watch the elite guys hit the course and I’ll be cheering super loudly for Conor and Evan as they duke it out. And if Ted King is racing – you can be sure I’ll be cheering for him!

This is our fourth weekend of travel in a row. For a bike racer or a cyclocross racer this really isn’t that big of a deal – but it I do have to say the travel is getting a bit tiresome. Soon enough I’ll be in Belgium where the longest drive I’ll have to do is 2 or maybe 3 hours – much friendlier than the eight hours on Friday and eight hours on Sunday.

Luckily this weekend we’re staying with friends – this takes a lot of the travel issues out of the picture. We’re super lucky to have friends who like bikes just as much as we do and are willing to let us invade their home for the weekend.

Alright, with this, I’m going to sign off and get some sleep. I’ve got some writing work to do in the morning, a ride to get in and then we’re piling into our van (we swapped cars with our neighbour) and hitting the open road. See you in Gloucester – I’ll be the one in purple!

All In

Well, it has happened. The inevitable desire and cravings are back in full force. The thing is that last winter and this past spring/early summer I wasn’t convinced that I really missed it. Sure I like competition and pushing myself but maybe my racing days truly were done? Maybe it was time to slow down a bit?

Good grief – I couldn’t have been further off the mark. Now after five races, I’m hooked again. I didn’t realize how much I missed and needed to race. Training and riding bikes is fun. But racing is what it’s all about.

That anxiety that comes a few days before when I’m thinking about the course and playing it through in my brain. The day before when I’m packing my bag and getting my race clothes ready. Day of when I get out for the pre-ride and scope out the bumps and grooves that are going to challenge and push me for 40 minutes. The one hour before the race when I’m on the trainer listening to some music and getting myself primed and ready to go. The 10 minutes before I’m called to the line when the nervous chatter starts and the dry mouth sets in with full force. Finally on the line, wishing the darn whistle would just go so I could get moving and racing. Then the race happens and it all happens: success, misses, triumphs, blood, sweat and elation. All in the span of 40 minutes or so. The post race feelings are always a mix of happiness, relief, misgivings, and joyfulness.

I guess back when I wasn’t able to race, it was easiest to convince myself that racing really wasn’t such a “big deal”. But now that I’m back in and part of the game again – I’ve recognized that it really is something special. I love it all. The racing. The travel. The hanging out with friends. Cheering on my training pals. Experiencing your triumphs and stories. All of it is part of the package. Really really happy to be doing it again.

(Here is a link to an article about focus – I found it useful – you might as well.)

Catamount Weekend Verge New England Series

I’m a bit late in writing about the second day of racing at the Verge New England Series in Williston, Vermont – but as the saying goes “better late than never”.

We closed off Saturday with a good and somewhat entertaining supper with the Ottawa young guns of cyclocross and my parents. It was a great way to chill out and relax after a long day at the races. And before we knew it, Sunday had arrived and it was time to load up the super Sequoia (thanks Ken) and make our way back out to the race course.

Marc was up first at 11:30 so we got there early so he could get in some warm-up laps and have time to relax before racing. This works well for me because it gives me a chance to pre-ride without the frenzy of the elite warm-up and I can also ride with the elite Masters men during their warm-up and see their lines. Marc had an awesome race and finished 5th! Super proud of him – he was so happy afterwards – very nice to see.

I raced at 2:00 so there was lots of time to relax and get ready. Last minute thoughts about tire selection and pressure and before I knew it I was off to the call-up. I’ve got my warm-up nailed now so this makes the day so much easier – I know what time I want to get on the trainer, what I’m going to do and it seems to be working out fairly well. I’ve written a race report for the second day of racing here.

But for those of you who want to know the details on this very webpage, here you go:
– terrible start – missed my pedal and floundered
– got busy passing and chasing
– duked it out with two other riders for a while
– attacked at the uphill barriers and kept the momentum going
– finished in 11th

Positives from this race:
– my technical skills are coming along
– I took a lot of risks with speed in the corners
– I did a good job of gearing
– found places to recover
– paid attention to the others in my group and noticed where I would be able to take control
– drilled myself really deep

Lessons to take from this race:
– need to get my start sorted out – messing up these starts is causing me to miss out on crucial selections and causing me to waste energy
– continue to take risks on descents, corners, and technical sections
– always sprint out of everything – no matter how tired you “think” you are, you can stand and sprint

Overall sensations:
– my form is coming along
– my confidence is returning
– I felt like a bike racer again

Yes, so a good day and weekend of racing. I won’t lie – I’m disappointed to have missed out on getting a top 10 on both days. But this will come. If I look back to a year ago, this weekend was night and day.

Apart from the racing it was so great to connect with lots of our good cyclocross friends, to hear words of encouragement from so many people and to hang out with cool folks out having fun on bikes. I have to say that seeing Marc smile and hear him be so super positive about my races makes me feel like a winner (yes, cheesy but it’s true).

I’ve still got a long way to go to get where I want. I have to remind myself that I’ve only been training for a couple of months so I will continue to get stronger. The key now is learning how to use this strength correctly…

My dad took a bunch of photos of both myself and Marc this weekend. Here are a couple of photos from the first day of racing:

(Poor barrier remounting technique caught on digital media…)