Dec 25, 2011

Merry Xmas From Lex

Merry Xmas!  I wish everyone health, love, oodles of epic rides, and...

Following a poll that was posted over a 5 day period on the Lex Albrecht Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lex-Albrecht/137026036359510 the three most popular gifts on a cyclist's wishlist are:

1.  0.5 watts/kg
2.  A new bike
3.  Clean water bottles

If you want number 1: work hard and you'll get it.
If you want number 2: you'd better have been a very very wise little boy or girl, or be extremely good buddies with a very generous gift-giver
If you want number 3: you're pretty easy to satisfy, and you probably can appreciate the greatness of one of my favorite appliances: the dishwasher.

May your holiday wishes come true!

Dec 18, 2011

Have You Noticed?

Hey, check it out, there's a new section on this page!  In the left-hand column, you'll now find a list of the top 5 most popular posts that have been published on my site.  They're updated as the statistics change.  Check them out!

Dec 17, 2011

Quand je suis à bloc sur le trainer.

J'étais sur mon trainer ce soir en train de pédaler comme une débile.  J'avais encore mal aux jambes de mon entraînement de la veille.  En plus, je faisais une nouvelle séries d'intervals que je n'avais jamais tenté auparavant.  Je savais que ça n'allait pas être facile.

Je partage quelques-uns de mes trucs avec vous:

1. J'écris mes intervals sur une feuille de papier et je la colle en bas de ma TV.  Comme ça, si je suis tellement à bloc que je perds la carte et je ne sais plus ce que je dois faire, j'ai seulement à regarder en bas de l'écran (où il y a une course de bike de diffusée, bien sûr).  Je n'ai pas encore été assez à bloc pour oublier la présence de mon papier d'urgence collé sur la TV- une chance.

2. Juste en bas des intervals, souvent je m'écris un message de motivation.  Ca s'avère utile pour des situations d'urgence aussi, car parfois ma tête ne dit pas les bonnes affaire à mes jambes et quand ça arrive, ça ne marche plus mon affaire.

Ce soir, ma tête avait dit "CÂLINE, je pense que mes jambes sont en train de SAIGNER, tellement que ça fait mal!!!"  Heureusement, j'avais le message de motivation en bas de ma feuille.  Je l'ai lu.  Ensuite ma tête a dit aux jambes "Voyons, c'est pas vrai, ça ne fait pas si mal, vous êtes capables, allez!" Et voilà, ça a marché.  J'ai pu terminer l'entraînement.

C'est impressionant comment une pensé negative peut tout scrapper, et comment une pensé positive peut rendre une foule d'affaires possible.  La meilleure preuve, c'est ce que ça peut faire quand je suis à bloc sur le trainer.

Dec 15, 2011

Jump Out and Kiss Me

My mom used to tell me ''What, are you expecting it to jump out and kiss you?'' when she felt that I wasn't making enough of an effort to find something.  For weeks and weeks I searched for a new place to live, by the end, wishing that one would just jump out and kiss me.   It was a plan that had been in the works for quite some time, and the moment had come to make it happen.  I wasn't asking for soo, so much in a new home:

*A place with room for my beloved dishwasher, so I won't have to wash my water bottles (that I fill with eload on every ride, of course) by hand.
*A place with a living room spacious enough so I won't feel boxed in while I put the pistons through just a little bit more than what they think they can do, everyday on the trainer.
*A place where I can install a washer and dryer...because there is no way on the face of this earth that I'm going to cart my Hincapie kits to a laundromat everyday!
*A place surrounded by a plethora of gorgeous places to ride my bicycle.
*A place safe and comfortable for my bikes and me.

I think I found it, and now it's time to start packing boxes! The Home Base of "Team Lex" is officially changing.

Dec 11, 2011

Third Shift, Fourth Shift, and SUCCESS!

At 6 am, after a short snooze, I was back on the bike pedaling with passion like always.  Lyne brought us muffins to fuel our early morning two-hour shift.

I had a break, and finished the 24h Tremblant off with a final 2 hour stretch from 10am until noon.  (My total: three 2 hour shifts + one 4 hour shift = 10 hours.)  The energy of the crowd, (many who were pretty sleep deprived) was impressive.  We were right in the middle of it all and having an excellent time.

Équipe 24h de Vélo de Tremblant, led by Lyne Bessette raised money for many worthy children's charities: The Fondation Centre de cancérologie Charles-Bruneau, the Sens Foundation, Fondation Martin-Matte and Fondation Tremblant

We had a lot of fun, rode hard, and most importantly, we thank EVERYONE who donated for their generous support. 

A special personal thank you to: Maria, Emils, Mike, Deb, Cindy, Karine, Barb & Manfred, Elke, Anne, Michaël and Christian for sponsoring me for this event.  Merci tout le monde!!!

Dec 10, 2011

Second Shift: 24h Tremblant

The second shift at the 24h Tremblant was a blast! 

I pedaled 4 hours alongside some of my 24h Tremblant teammates as the skiers and snowboarders ripped up and down the slopes.  There are shows going on on the stage in front of the tent we're pedaling under, and tons of people cheering us on.
The view from our spinning tent! Photo: Randy Ferguson

I wore wool socks inside of my S-Works shoes, and used my new hot-pads.  Lyne put a super heater in front of me during my shift, and my feet stayed relatively toasty. Most importantly, all of the toes are still there.

It's wicked to see so many enthusiastic people, having such a good time playing hard outside for a great cause: supporting sick children's charities!  We're almost at our collective team goal of $5000.  Please offer your support, and help us reach our goal! 
http://donation.24htremblant.com/Pages/Participants/Participant.aspx?partner=2&participant=1895

First Shift at The 24h Tremblant

I arrived in Tremblant at 2am.  I slept on the kitchen table in the condo that I'm sharing with 3 of my 24h teammates.  I didn't want to wake anybody up...and the table was just the right size for a snooze!

At noon, I filled my bottles with eload, and hopped on the bike for my first shift of 2h.  What a blast!  We've got a perfect view of the village and the stage where the performances will be put on this evening.  I have a 4h block of riding coming up at 6pm. 


Thank you Karine, Anne, Emils, Manfred & Barb, Elke, Deb, Michael, Maria, and Cindy for your generous donations!  Please click here to support our team pedaling at the bottom of the mountain, while the skiers ski!  http://donation.24htremblant.com/Pages/Participants/Participant.aspx?partner=2&participant=1895

A great cause to support some very worthy children's charities!

Dec 9, 2011

24h Tremblant

When I was 10 I had a brother.  I had a sister too.  Then my parents told me I was getting another one.

My new sister wasn't quite as fortunate as the rest of us.  She was sick when she was born.  She never learned to talk, to walk...even to swallow.  My sister needed pumps and medications and doctors trips, and nurses came to our house every single night so my parents could sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time.

Back then, my mom was a stay at home mother, which made taking care of my sister a heck of a lot easier than it could have been, had she been forced to work to support our family.  My dad had super health insurance coverage, which made my caring for my sister affordable.  There were a lot of challenges, but we could deal with them.

Not everybody has the same resources though, and I'm not sure how they manage to get through taking care of a very sick child.

This is part of the reason that I felt so adament about doing the 24h Tremblant.  Raising money for families in situations that I experienced first hand as a child is meaningful to me.  It makes a big difference when an organization is able to step in, and take pressure off of families dealing with sick children.

When I was 12, my sister passed away.  Sometimes when I ride my bike, I think about her, and how lucky I am that I'm healthy enough to mix my own eload, and spin on my Speedplay pedals.  She wasn't, and it is a good reminder of how fortunate I am.

Thanks for supporting me this weekend: http://donation.24htremblant.com/Pages/Participants/Participant.aspx?participant=1895

 As a part of a team of cyclists organized by Lyne Bessette, I will be pedaling 4 shifts of 2 hours each (for a total of 8 hours) at the bottom of Tremblant while the skiers ski this weekend!

Dec 6, 2011

Eload in the Mail

Not everything good grows on trees. California oranges and Honey Crisp apples do.  But french toast and eload do not.

My stash of eload was running dangerously low.  I had to take precautionary measures and order some.  Good thing I did, because I have about a scoop and half of eload left in my canister.  (How is your stash? http://www.medioncorp.com)

I got the message today.  My eload has arrived.  We're in the clear! 

I'll be training as per normal with eload in my bottles, and I'll have it with me to keep hydrated this weekend.  I think I'll choose lemon this time.  I will be pedaling with Lyne Bessette's group "Équipe 24h de Vélo de Tremblant" at the base of the mountain while the skiers ski at the 24h Tremblant this upcoming weekend.  The goal of the event is to raise money for sick children's charities.  I will keep the updates coming! 
Want to donate for a great cause?: http://donation.24htremblant.com/Pages/Participants/Participant.aspx?participant=1895

Dec 1, 2011

Things That I Have Grown Out Of.

It's funny to look back, on occasion, on old habits that we would probably never again revert to, but that we may have once sworn by.  Silly mistakes are cool to laugh at in retrospect as well.  I'll share some of mine.  Don't be too rough on me...

THEN: Going to the tanning salon with my bibshorts to get a head start on my tan lines.
NOW: I have bottles of 45 and 60 SPF sunscreen.

THEN: Carting around my Discman in my jersey pocket with my newest favorite CD.
NOW: Forget music, I like the smooth hum of a clean chain driving my Specialized Amira forward.


THEN: Never leaving to pedal without my CamelBak, even for my very first race
NOW: Never leaving to pedal without my water bottles with eload.

THEN: Underwear with the bibshorts. 
NOW: No underwear in my Hincapie shorts.  They're not made for that.  OK?

THEN: Taping the vents of my shoes shut for cold weather riding
NOW: I'm less cheap, and I use shoe covers.

THEN: Flying off of the rollers every once in a while because I rode them backwards, by mistake.
NOW: My downstairs neighbours despise the reverberations that my beloved rollers send through the floorboards, so the apparatus stays under my bed for now.  I know which way to ride them though.

THEN: Wearing my helmet for a few minutes inside of my apartment in the middle of winter, just to remind myself of the feeling of summer.
NOW:  Okay fine, I'll probably be sporting the Specialized Prevail on several, rare, but short and secret occasions this winter too.

Nov 21, 2011

Le Concept des Cartouches

Une cartouche peut être vue comme une unité de mesure.  Une cartouche est ce qui fuel les sorties de vélo, les courses de vélo, les entrainements de vélo.  Bref, c'est très important les cartouches.  Quand le reservoir en est plein, c'est le meilleur feeling qui existe.  Quand il est quasiment vide...ça peut être difficile à avaler.

Une journée avec assez de
cartouches pour être très contente
On ne sait pas exactement combien de cartouches qu'on a, avant qu'il nous en reste seulement deux.  Rendu là, on sait très bien qu'on se retrouve dans un territoire dangereux.  Quand il n'en reste plus, c'est FINI.

Débuter la journée avec deux cartouches est un peu comme sortir sous la pluie mal habillé quand il fait 5 degrées pour faire des intervals difficiles.  Bonne chance pour réussir un bon entrainement.  Ce n'est pas une tâche impossible, mais, il y a des fortes chances que ça va mal aller...


Débuter la journée avec plein de cartouches, et réussir à en bruler assez pour qu'il en reste rien que deux est moins grave.  C'est satisfaisant même.  Et quand on réussit à se rendre quasiment à zero (ce qui n'est pas forcément facile à faire) dans ce type de journée, le sens d'accomplissement et de satisfaction est au maximum.

Refaire le plein de cartouches est important.  Comment le faire?  Combien de temps que ça prend?  Je ne connais pas encore ces détails.  Gérer ses cartouches est un art.  Ca s'apprend.  Je suis toujours en train d'apprendre.  Et, c'est correct.  Je m'amuse.


Si vous avez une boîte de cartouches de spare qui traine quelquepart, contactez moi.  J'ai eu une journée la semaine passé ou je m'en serais servie.  Il y en aura d'autres journées de même, j'en suis certaine...comme tout le reste, ça fait partie du fun.

Nov 13, 2011

Une dernière ride en groupe pour l'année 2011.

C'est qui le boss chez nous? C'est moi.  (Je pourrais ajouter à ça que je demeure seule. Je ne sais pas si ça change grande chose...).  Mais parfois...j'avoue que c'est Pascal mon boss.  Pascal est mon coach.  Il dit que pour les prochaines semaines, le dimanches sont pour jouer dehors.  Alors, c'est ça que j'ai fait aujourd'hui.

On était quasiment une vingtaine à se rassembler aux statues sur le Mont Royal.  C'est une place idéale comme point de rencontre car c'est facile à trouver.  Tout le monde savent c'est où.  Je suis arrivée en retard car j'avais mal calculé mes affaires.  Je ne m'attendais pas à avoir un vent de face en partant de chez nous...

Nous sommes allés à St. Joseph du Lac (sur la rive nord de Laval, au nord de Montréal) pour faire une ''easy ride''. (On a le droit de l'appeler de même, car à Montréal pas mal tout est bilingue.)  Grace en partie à nos amis Alex, Martin, Alexi, Gervais...ce n'était pas toujours si easy que ça, mais ça faisait partie du fun.  Une chance que j'avais des gels eload avec moi pour m'empêcher de bonker sur mon Specialized S-Works Amira. Ca donnait des coups et ça faisait même un peu mal parfois, mais tout le monde se sont amusés.  AVOUEZ!  On aime ça épicé. 

Nous sommes arrêtés une fois à Laval, pour le crevaison à Jasmin, une fois pour un ''pee break'' à St. Joseph, et une fois à Deux Montagnes pour acheter de l'eau, des barres, des bonbons pour Mathieu, du Coke, et Laurent s'est acheté un sandwich au salami.  Il est sûrement toujours en train de le digérer d'ailleurs.  Alexi a gagné des sprints de pancarte, Véro jasait avec le monde comme si elle n'avait pas à forcer de tout, Audrey est disparue, éventuellement le grand Christian et Fred aussi, Vincent se fuelait avec sa bouteille de gel, Javier et Michaël représentaient les seuls triathlètes de la groupe à l'insu de la plupart des gens (voyez-vous, ce sont des amis aussi les triathlètes), Laurent-Charles qui est arrivé à la dernière minute a pris des relais comme s'il avait un moteur diesel qui faisait tourner ses jambes.  ...en tout cas, tout le monde qui étaient là ont fait en sorte que la ride était ce que c'était: très cool, puis un vrai plaisir.

Je suis contente d'avoir pu profiter d'une très belle journée avec autant d'amis cyclistes.  Bientôt les rides de vélo se feront presque exclusivement sur le trainer dans le salon, et malgré que ça soit le fun, je fini toujours par m'ennuyer un petit peu de la compagnie de mes amis.

Merci pour la ride! :)

Oct 31, 2011

Bixi Bicycle Riding in Toronto Ontario

A view of Downtown Toronto from the Toronto Island. -Max Albrecht
Over the summer of 2011, Toronto, Ontario integrated the Bixi Bicycle System that first appeared in Montreal, Quebec.  My best brother Max, who lives in the T-dawt, and I pulled out our credit cards and started cruising.  It took me a few pedal strokes, and stops-and-starts at intersections to remember that I was no longer riding a fixed gear (direct drive) bike like I had been on all weekend at the Forest City Velodrome.

We took the ferry over to the Toronto Island and pedaled around.  It was freezing cold, and I took it as a good character training for cross country skiing.  (I have a feeling that I'll be pulling my red Pelotonens out sooner than expected this year.)

 
Lex Albrecht at Far Enough Farm, Centerville Island, Toronto Ontario.  -Max Albrecht

One of our destinations was the Far Enough Farm where we saw pigs, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, a peacock, horses, swans, and tons and tons of ducks.  I'd never seen so many ducks in my life.  I almost ran over a Canadian Goose.

We had coffee while watching a horrible outdoor karaoke show (there should probably be a bylaw against those), checked out a movie, learned all about Smart TVs from a guy named Jack, walked through a public labyrinth (Which is not a maze: a maze has many possible paths and lots of dead ends whereas a labyrinth only has one possible path and no dead ends.  Walking it is supposed to be meditative.  We didn't meditate.) and Max introduced me to a new kind of apple : HONEY CRISP.  They're twice the price of a Granny Smith, less tart, even crunchier, and very satisfying.

I'm on my way back to Montreal now where I'll be reacquainted with my Specialized S-Works Amira.  I've got my DeFeet compression socks on for the flight.  See you later, Ontario!

Oct 30, 2011

Forest City Velodrome

I spent the weekend at The Forest City Vélodrome, in London Ontario.  Rob Good was leading the Canadian National Team Junior Camp, and I jumped in on the track...when I could.  I looked like a bit of a dufus at times, but I took it all in stride and had an excellent time.  I was vocal.  First it was positive self talk : ''youcandoit youcandoit youcandoit'' as I was spinning around the track the first few laps.  Then it was ''blackline blackline blackline'' or ''blueline blueline blueline'' ...just to remind myself where I was supposed to ride.  Haha.  It was either that or sit around on a plastic chair all day long.  So, let's be honest, which one is more stupid?  I made the right choice.

Rob had a lot of tricks and drills up his sleeve to teach me as much as possible over the weekend that I was there.  The juniors were nice to me, and were also pretty darn impressive.  They've got some incredible piston power!
Claude Pinard
Check out how steep the track is.  When I first saw it, a group of masters were flying around.  Some were on the apron (the blue strip around the base of the track) others were on the bottom black line (the line that you're supposed to try to stick to in races because it's the shortest and fastest way around the track) others on the stayer (the blue line in the middle of the track) and sometimes guys would go up to the top yellow line (holy shit was that ever high on the steep, steep track).

One thing that I was really surprised about was how easy it is for anybody to start track riding.  At the Forest City Velodrome there are beginner courses (Track 1 and Track 2) that teach the basics of track riding at a really fair price.  There are bikes for rent, and a lot of very friendly people with a lot of patience and passion for cycling ready to help anybody learn.  Check it out at www.forestcityvelodrome.ca

I had a lot of fun at the track.  I learned a lot...and I've got to say that I'm proud of myself that I had the guts to try it out, and dare myself to ride on what my teammate Anne Guzman lovingly refers to as the ''Toilet Bowl'', because it's so darn steep. Hopefully some of what I learned will be carried out onto the road next year!  I'm going to keep it up...

Oct 27, 2011

Je n'ai aucune intention de devenir pistarde

J'avais mis mes bas de compression DeFeet pour le voyage.  Peu de temps après avoir décollé de Montréal, je check par la fenêtre et par hasard je vois le bloc appartement où je reste.  Je vois mes balcons.  Ma voiture.  C'était quand même cool.

Je suis arrivée à London aujourd'hui.  Qui l'aurait cru: le nom de la ville de London ON, on ne le traduit pas.  Pourtant, London, Angleterre, ça devient "Londres" en français...

C'est demain que je suis censée embarquer sur la piste au vélodrome "Forest City".  Je n'ai aucune intention de devenir pistarde.  Je le fais pour un peu la même raison que j'ai fait ma première course de bike, ma première course de vélo de montagne, ma première course de cyclocross... Car j'ai la chienne, et c'est drole oser faire de quoi quand on en a peur.  C'est encore plus hot quand on réussit.  Je voulais essayer à pédaler sur la piste aussi parce que apparement que ça m'aidera à être moins intimidée par les Hollondaises.  Je ne veux pas être comme elles, puis je ne veux pas oser l'essayer non plus.  Je veux juste être capable de me faufiller entre-elles à des vitesses extraordinaires dans les pelotons de course.

Oct 26, 2011

Faking it for 10 km.

I got a text message inviting me to go out for a ride this morning.  My night had been choppy and I felt like a royal chunk of dirt when I woke up.  Was I sick!?  I hardly ever get sick.  I filled my bottles with eload and stuck them onto the my Specialized S-Works Amira bike.  I figured, at the worst, I would turn around after 15 minutes and soft-pedal back home.  I wasn't feeling great, but I wasn't dying either. 

It passed.  The sun was out full force, the winds weren't gusty like they have been for the last few weeks, and Montréal looked beautiful.  Whatever struck me through the night was gone.  I had a great ride, and loved every minute of it, like I usually do when I'm on my Specialized bike.

This evening I stirred things up.  I grabbed my HeadSweats Podium Cap, and went for a run in the dark. I'm not a runner, so I faked it, and it worked.  I did my 10km loop and my knees held up the whole way, which is rare for the beginning of the fall.  I'll tell you what my trick was.  This past summer on a group sponsor ride I spoke with a gentleman who runs marathons.  He explained to me that real runners take smaller steps and run at a higher cadence than a lot of 'beginners'.  So, this evening, I faked being a real runner.  His advice worked wonders.  I'm off to a great start!

Oct 21, 2011

Practicing Barista Skills Instead.

I was in Trois-Rivières yesterday, my 'hometown'. 

I lived there for around 4.5 years before moving to Laval, Québec for work.  I didn't go to kindergarten in Trois-Rivières, I didn't go on my first bike ride there either.  My family doesn't live there, and I can't say that I was there to witness the amalgamation of the 6 municipalities in 2001 that make up TR today.  I have a thick accent and bad grammar when I speak French, but I'm still Trifluvienne (that means: from Trois-Rivières) in my heart.  I'm not sure, but it might be like a transgender or phantom limb phenomenon: it's hard to understand...but it's the way it is.  I'm just convinced that I'm Trifluvienne.

Anyways, I took advantage of being 'home' yesterday to go to my old favorite gym in Trois-Rivières.  Today I'm stiff and sore as was expected.  The plan was to go on a really long easy-spin in the Montréal region today.  It only lasted 3 hours before I went home.  I didn't feel like riding.  It happens sometimes.  It's the off season...and in the off-season especially, when you don't want to ride- you just don't.

So, I came home, and made a coffee.  I'm getting really good at it.  You've got to pack the grinds just enough so the coffee doesn't get burnt from the hot water pushing its way through for too too long, reject the first bit of black coffee that comes through, and don't steam the milk for too long or it too will get burnt.  Put the milk in the fridge for a few seconds to let the foam set.  Pour it all like a pro...et voilà. 

I'll be on the trainer tomorrow in the living room.

Oct 18, 2011

Strength Building on The Bike

It's a little bit cold out and still very windy, but dressed properly, I can still ride very comfortably outside.  I don't like having cold feet, so I put on some wool DeFeet socks, and two layers of Hincapie shoe covers over my Specialized S-Works shoes to make sure they wouldn't be numb once I got back home.

I've been avoiding the gym so far this off season but will probably re-introduce it to my training shortly.  I've been doing some on-the-bike (Specialized S-Works Amira, of course) strength building exercises.  This approach has been pretty efficient for satisfying my desire to pedal, while getting the whole strength building job accomplished at the same time.  Today for instance, I climbed the Mont-Royal on my bike in a very, very big gear.  It took me nearly 7 or 8 minutes to get to the top every time.  I wasn't going fast but it was hurting!   I drank mandarin eload to keep the muscle cramps at bay and to keep myself well hydrated.

Don't you love bike riding! YEEHAW!

Oct 17, 2011

(S-Works Amira FOR SALE!) The Leaves are Yellow and the Wind is Strong!

The winds of change...are bringing on the real fall weather!  And it's windy alright.

I thought that the trees in the yard were going to come crashing down on my car, but they've proven to be well rooted, and tough.  If I was a tree, I bet I'd like to be bashed around by the wind every once in a while.  It must be boring to live an otherwise exclusively static life.

Regardless of the weather, I still got out to play on the Mont Royal, cranking it up the hill a few times in a big gear, and a really low cadence.  I've never gone up that hill so slowly, and with so much resistance; my legs are going to thank me for it.  I experienced more cyclocross, this time from a spectator's point of view, and rode a new course in the Cantons de l'Est, a destination that I rarely choose because it's a small trot from where I live (by car), but in the end, well worth it!

I sold my mountain bike to a very, very lucky girl- she got a good deal.  I hope she'll love that bike as much as I did.  I feel like there's a little empty space in my bike family now, and a little nostalgic feeling comes over me every time I go past its old place on the bike rack. 

I still have a road bike for sale.  Who wants to break my heart again?  It's a 48cm Specialized S-Works Amira...I love it.  Contact me by Facebook if you're interested!

Oct 12, 2011

Providence Cyclocross Festival Changed my Life




Last Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, I tackled my first weekend of cyclocross racing ever. I registered in the "Elite/Pro" category, simply for start time convenience. To be quite frank, I hope that there weren't too many people looking at me on the start line because I looked like a dork with a huge grin on my face. (Of all things, my FACE hurt that night from smiling so hard on the line). I felt like I did when I did the Montreal World Cup Race in 2008: "I don't know what the heck I'm getting myself into, but this is flipping COOL!". I had an awesome time and stayed up the entire race. That evening in the hotel lobby, a guy named Ferg told me that meant I didn't try hard enough.

I remediated the issue in Sunday's race. In my practice laps, I bowled into one barrier, and in the race I skidded out in a dirt corner...and later crashed into that same darn barrier. I pitted (or did my best, at least- I still have a bit to learn there) for the mens race still grimy and sweaty.

I slipped on my Defeet compression socks for recovery. I headed to the Boston Airport where I tended to my black and blue finger, and cleaned myself the best I could in the washroom. I ended up looking half presentable. I spent the night at the airport waiting for my flight to EWR (Newark) the next morning. I felt like a scuzzball, but was still having fun...and still running off the high of knowing that I did it, I did a cyclocross race, and I loved it. I think my life has been changed.

I'm in New York now, getting a great taste of the city with some new friends, and of course, with my Specialized Amira. In two more days I'll be back sweating up a storm in Montreal again...

Oct 6, 2011

Cyclocross.

I just thought I'd say...

I, Lex Albrecht, am registered for two cyclocross races in Providence, RI, U.S.A. this upcoming weekend.  I have never done cyclocross before in my life.  I didn't plan on doing cyclocross this year.  But I'm going to do it this weekend.  And, I'm going to have fun.  And, I'll probably get my keister kicked and look like a fooligan to anyone on the sidelines, and heck, anyone on the course, but that's A-okay. Yipeee-aye-oh! Woot, woot! :)

Sep 26, 2011

Boston TD Mayor's Criterium 2011

Michael Foley
In March 2011, Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda started out the season on the West Coast in Carlsbad, California.  In September 2011, Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda tied up the season on the East Coast in Boston, Massachusetts.  It makes me think of Terry Fox a little bit...the two oceans and all. 

Right after riding the 105km Défi VéloMag in the Parc de la Mauricie in Shawinigan (it's a tradition, it's my favorite place to ride, and there is no way that I would miss that event!) I packed up the Mazda5 team car and headed southbound, over 800 km, to Boston. My teammate Mary Zider did a primo job of organizing the details so we could rock it at the TD Mayor's Criterium.
Hugo Bergeron
I loved the race venue.   It was right in downtown Boston, on a 4 corner course.  Corner 1, after the start line, went into a downhill slope. Corner 2 led to the second intermediate sprint-line on the backside of the course.  There was a bit of an uphill kick going into and coming out of the corner 3...which was super fun.  Anybody who could gun it out of the 4th corner and hold it just long enough would get over the finish line first.
Michael Foley
The crowds clanging their black TD Bank cowbells were great, and the announcers did a superb job at getting everybody cranked up.  There were citizen rides and races, and a mascot race held the same day which just added to the excitement of the atmosphere in Boston. 

We attacked, we chased, we strategically sat on, and we raked in the sprint primes.  Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda raced a very active, exciting, and successful final road race in 2011.  We went in to the season the same way we're going out: hard, strong, and having a LOAD OF FUN!

After the race I jumped in a Mazda5 with my teammate Anne Guzman, and drove to Toronto.  (I'm damn lucky that our team cars are Mazda5s.  I've been doing a lot of driving in the past days...) I'll be spending a few days with my mom in Barrie, Ontario before heading back to La Belle Province.  I went out riding on some of my "old favorite" roads today...and am looking forward to ride on a few more of these roads that are apparently mine "TO DISCOVER" (as the license plates say here...!)

Défi VéloMag 2011

Battenkill a été fuelé avec du pain doré. Le Défi VéloMag 2011 a été fuelé avec des gauffes de la mère à Antoine Matteau, le roi du Parc de la Mauricie. Deux recettes differentes, mais l'une marche aussi bien que l'autre.

On n'aurait pas pu démander de plus beaux temps pour la cinquième édition du Défi VéloMag. Il a fait chaud, le ciel était bleu, et il ne ventait pas trop.

J.S. Zahra m'a dit pendant le Défi que lui, c'était le doyen du Parc, et moi, la doyenne. Je dois avouer que je ne savais pas ce que ça voulait dire à 100% doyen et doyenne, et au moment quand j'écris ces mots, je ne suis pas branchée sur Internet donc je ne peux même pas aller chercher la définition. Alors, je ne sais toujours pas la signification du mot. Mais, ça sonne bien. Et je lui ai dit que j'étais d'accord avec ça. C'est toujours mon Parc par exemple, mais ça peut être le sien en même temps, et le votre aussi. Mais je pense que c'est moi qui l'aime le plus...

J'ai failli cramper une fois vers la 80e kilomètre car j'avais oublié de boire assez de mon eload. Quand le début de la crampe s'est poigné, j'ai bu plusieures bonnes gorgées de eload, et j'ai pris quelques gels eload, et finalment ça s'est bien passé.

Le Défi a été completé en temps record de nouveau cette année. Je crois que c'est surtout dû au fait que ça roulait quand même assez fort pendant l'aller. Il y en avait quelques-uns qui ont essayer de s'échaper, et d'autres qui s'amusaient à visser la pace. Puis dans le fond, c'est ça qu'on aime. Je ne me suis pas fait largué dans la côte de la Belvedère, en partie grace au fait que j'avais fait un peu de 'motor-pacing' en arrière du vélo du grand Denis Champagne, la veille. Je lui ai dit que j'étais pas mal certaine que ça allait m'aider pour le Défi...

Après le Défi, je suis embarquée dans la Mazda5 de l'équipe pour aller à Boston afin de rejoindre mes co-équipières de Juvéderm-Specialized pour notre dernière course de la saison. C'est loin Boston, surtout toute seule, mais je dois avouer que j'ai eu pas mal de plaisir à conduire le Mazda5, comme d'habitude.

J'aurais vraiment aimé avoir un peu plus de temps pour jaser avec tout le monde du bike je ne vois pas assez souvent. Il y a beaucoup de monde au Défi avec qui je roulais il y a plusieurs années quand je venais d'arriver au Québec (à Trois-Rivières) et je trouve ça toujours le fun quand on se revoit. Mais je vous dis tous et toutes, félicitations d'avoir complété le Défi cette année, et j'espère qu'on aura l'occasion de se revoir sur les routes du Parc avant que la neige tombe, puis ensuite, sur les pistes de ski de fond quand l'hiver sera arrivé! Profitez-en des dernières belles semaines qu'il reste pour rouler!

Sep 18, 2011

Sponsor Ride 2011

I took my Specialized S-Works Amira to ride in the Parc National de la Mauricie, my favorite place to ride in all of Québec, on Friday and Saturday.  I packed up the bike yet again, and headed back westbound on the Québec Highway #40 towards Montréal.

Today is Sunday and the sun is out shining in full force.  A perfect day for a sponsor ride with my Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda teammates.  A big crowd came out to ride about 50km in St. Eustache, Québec.  It was great to see my teammates once again, especially MoJo and Mary who live far away (Vancouver and Boston respectively).  Riding with many of the people who make our team possible was a real treat. 

Cycling is a team sport, and contribution from each member is imperative to the team's success.  Only one girl can cross the finish line first, and we all put our efforts toward supporting whichever individual that may be for any given race.  As much as we need a full team on the road, the team off of the road is just as important.  A cycling team cannot exist without strong backing from sponsors.  Race material, transportation, registration, publicity, mechanics, team directors, soigneurs...the list goes on, do not come free. 

Thank you, sincerely, to our sponsors for giving Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda the opportunity to show our colours at a level and to an extent that we can all be proud of. You're all a part of the team, just as much as those of us who are kitted up in blue, red, and white out on the road countless times over the summer.

Sep 12, 2011

Nutrition Solutions Anne Guzman

I was lucky to have Anne Guzman as a teammate this year.  She's a lot of fun, a great rider, and a nutritionist.  It can be easy to get overwhelmed with nutrition tricks, opinions and fad claims.  Anne always has clear and well founded ideas and tips for the girls on the team, and I definitely appreciated having her feedback and expertise.   

I get recipe ideas, and some interesting facts and tips in a feed from her FaceBook page.  I really recommend checking it out, and "Like" the page, to follow what she has to say as well! 
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550177826&ref=ts#!/pages/nutritionsolutionsanneguzmancom/196049807128056?sk=wall

Sep 5, 2011

Labour Day Weekend on my S-Works Amira.

Race season is pretty much over for me at this point, and I'm taking the opportunity to get some longer rides in (I love those), and just play around on the bike. 

Traffic was off the wall getting out of Montréal to head to Mauricie this weekend.  I made it though, with just enough time to ride a Century out and back into the Parc.  The leaves are slowly starting to change colour, and I could have sworn that the trees had gotten a bit redder as I doubled back on the path I took earlier in the day.  I was fueling off of eload gels for my 5.5 hour ride.

A picture I took once from the belvedere in the Parc National de la Mauricie.
The next day back in Laval, I got a flat on my training wheel.  It's moments like those that make me really, really miss my Roval race wheels.  It's a royal pain in the neck getting the tire dismounted from my training wheels.  I managed just fine though, after almost breaking another set of tire levers. 

On holiday Monday, I decided to ride up north on the Petit Train du Nord.  I'd heard about it in 2006, but had never been before.  (Next thing to check off my list: see the Bonhomme Carnival, it's been 15 years now that I've wanted to see him, good grief!)  I decided to swap the training wheel that I had flatted on for my race wheel, exceptionally. 

I managed to get another Century in the bank.  I was thinking about how unlucky it would be to get a flat and not have the right equipment to repair and get back home, that far away.  Lo and behold, at 140km I got a flat.  The valve stem on my spare tube was too short for me to inflate the tire on the deep-dish Roval race wheel though.  I put my McGuyver hat on and, went to the church that was across the street.  I wanted duct tape, but they had Scotch tape.  I taped the hole in my old tube, carefully.  I won't go into details, but I was wise about how I went about it.  It got me home.  And believe it or not, the tube is STILL holding air.  It's a miracle. 

I love bike riding. 

Sep 2, 2011

Ce n'était pas vraiment de l'amour, finalement.

Je me suis quasiment perdue deux fois sur mon Specialized S-Works Amira cette semaine.  Ce n'est pas tellement grave, mais il fait noir de plus en plus tôt à ce temps-ci de l'année, et ces deux fois-là, je suis revenue à mon appartement à la noirceur, toute dégueulasse, ayant un peu soif, mais très contente.  (C'est ça que ça fait, des bonnes rides en vélo.)  Mais c'est quand même le temps pour sortir mes lumières de bike...

Depuis mon retour de l'Europe en début du mois d'aout, je n'ai pas acheté du café "régulier".  Ma machine à espresso n'a pas été allumée une seule fois.  C'est parce que quand j'étais là-bas (en Europe), je suis tombée en amour avec du café instantané.  C'est vrai.  Je niaise pas.

Alors, j'ai continué à en boire chez nous au Québec.  Mais là, on dirait que je me suis rendue compte que ce n'était pas vraiment de l'amour que j'avais pour le café instantané, mais plutôt une engouement.   Car maintenant, j'en suis tannée.  J'ai le droit de l'être- je crois en tout cas.

Demain on est samedi, et je sacre mon camp, comme à toutes les fins de semaine.  J'embarquerai de nouveau sur la 40E pour aller rouler dans le Parc de la Mauricie, et peut-être que je passerai le reste de ma fin de semaine au paradis, à Québec.  On verra.  MAIS, ce qui est certain, c'est que je vais arrêter prendre un BON, VRAI café au Café Morgane (je ne sais pas encore lequel ou lesquels) à Trois-Rivières au moins deux fois avant de recommencer une autre semaine de travail mardi prochain. 

Aug 30, 2011

Québec Road Cycling Championships, 2011

It was rainy and it was windy, but it wasn't the storm "Irene".  I refuse to agree with those who thought it was.  I saw a few images on TV of smashed homes and torn up trees.  That, was where Irene passed.  Up in Ste. Agathe, Québec there was just a lot of rain, and a good steady wind.

The woman's field rolled out at 14h30 behind the comissaire for a 14 km neutral start (meaning the riders are not allowed to go faster than the pace that the car sets in front of us).

I chose to take a risk and not dress lightly.  I say take a risk because being too hot on the bike is as bad, if not worse than being too cold.  I had a DeFeet sleeveless baselayer, my Hincapie Jersey, my Hincapie windvest, my Hincapie armwarmers, and my Hincapie long sleeved jersey.  I even put on my black (those ones are for the rain) Hincapie shoe covers.

The neutral start was a bit peculiar, not only because of the distance but because after 14 km, we had to unclip and wait a few minutes before actually going off to race. 

At a certain point I attacked, but was brought back.  Right afterwards, my teammate Joanie Caron broke away solo in a counter attack.  She was alone for almost 40 km, and had at least 2 minutes over the field.  I really started to think she would take the win!  A few girls went to the front of the pack to work on bringing Joanie back (or, catch up to her, in other words).  The Canadian Champion, Véro Fortin, didn't seem satisfied that their work would suffice, and broke away to do the job on her own.  I went with her for awhile.  To make a long story short, Fortin got away from me, caught up to Jo, and got away from her as well.  Joanie and I raced to the finish together and arrived just under two minutes after Fortin.  And that my friends, is how Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda took home 2nd and 3rd place in the 2011 Québec Road Cycling Championships.

Our other teammate, Véro Labonté (the newly crowned Québec Time Trial Champion) broke away from the field near the end of the race to scoop up 4th place on her own.  Unfortunately Val Crête had a nasty spill and rode to the finish in a van with some young aspiring firefighters.  The 5th Québécoise member of our team, Véro Drapeau Zgoralski came in with the peloton. 

No victory, but it was a good, satisfying race out in the wind, rain, and hills.  2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
Antoine Becotte

Peace out.

Aug 27, 2011

Véronique Labonté la nouvelle championne!

Félicitations à ma co-équipière Véronique Labonté pour sa victoire aux championnats Québecois en contre la montre à Ste. Agathe, Québec aujourd'hui.  Good job Véro, c'est une victoire bien méritée!  Félicitations à Véronique Drapeau-Zgorlaski, mon autre co-équipière Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda qui a également participé à la course. 
Véro Labonté and Lex Albrecht, Belgium, 2011
Demain, je monterai à Ste. Agathe avec Valérie Crête avec une de nos voitures d'équipe, la fameuse Mazda5!  On va rejoindre les deux Véros pour participer à la course sur route pour les championnats Québecois. Préparons nos bouteilles de eload, ça va être une autre belle course!

Aug 23, 2011

So, What's Next?

Since I've been back from Europe, I've been taking it easy on the bike. 

I've done a few specific interval sessions in my living room on my beloved trainer.  I don't have air conditioning and was happy to have my Headsweats headband on to keep the sweat out of my eyes, so I could actually see what went down in Milan-San Remo 2009. 

I've played on the Mont-Royal, been introduced to some new roads that I've never ridden on before in Montréal and have had a couple of excellent rides around Québec City.  I did one of the Wednesday night criteriums in Laval as well.  I also did the Québec Provincial Championships Team Time Trial with my teammates Joanie Caron and Véronique Drapeau-Zgoralski (or, Mini-Véro, as we like to call her!).

Next up is the Québec Provincial Championships Road Race this coming weekend.  I was burnt out for last year's race, and I'm hoping to feel a bit better this time around.  We'll be racing in St. Agathe, a ways north of Montréal.

Other than that, I'll race a few more Wednesday night crits, do my beloved Défi-VéloMag cyclosport ride, race a crit or two in the USA, and perhaps the Green Mountain Stage Race as well. 

The season is slowing down for me, but it definitely hasn't come to a complete halt yet, and I'm still loving riding my bicycle.  OF COURSE!

Aug 9, 2011

One Last Ride in Belgium

I went out on one final ride in Belgium the night before leaving for Canada, with my teammate Véro Labonté.  We got caught in the rain, and not just the regular Belgian mist, but a real downpour! 

I washed my Specialized S-Works Amira up nicely before packing it up into the bike box.  I made extra sure to get my crankset with my Quarq CinQo powermeter nice and clean.  You can see it peeking through from the other side of my bike...it's red, my favorite colour, and it goes well with the S-Works Amira paint scheme!

See you later, Belgium!

Team Nutella Taste Test

After learning that Nutella is different around the world, we decided to purchase various sorts of the Italian-invented hazlenut spread from throughout Europe to compare to the American version, as a fun little game at the end of our Euro project.

Wikipedia has an interesting chart that compares Nutella ingredients around the world. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutella) The main differences are cocoa content, milk content, and the type of oil used to make the spread. These variations inevitably lead to an assortment of nuances between flavors, smells, appearances, and viscosities.

In this test, we tried 5 types of Nutella from the following countries:
Belgium, Switzerland (Made in Austria), United States of America (Made in Canada), Germany, and Sweden.


8 subjects participated in the test, and were asked to evaluate each spread based on it's colour, scent, and flavor.  The Nutella was presented on numbered metal spoons. Each number corresponded to a country. The test subjects (us!) were unaware of the origin of each Nutella sample.

The evaluations recorded by each subject are detailed in the three charts below, under “Appearnace”, “Scent”, and “Flavour”.  Here are the results:


Appearance


Lex Jo MoJo Mary Anne Denise Erik Mandy
Belgium Similar to USA (shiny) ? (3) Dark Dry Lightest (5) Lightest (1) Very oily (5)
Switzerland Most viscous looking Light Lightest (5) Milky Ok (2) (3) Better than 1 (3)
USA Similar to Belgium
(shiny)
Brown between (4) Medium dark Yum (4) (4) Slightly more than 1 (4)
Germany Matte brown Thick, dark (2) Dark Dry (3) (2) (2)
Sweden Darkest Dark Darkest (1) Very dark Looks luscious Darkest (1) (1) (1)

Scent


Lex Jo MoJo Mary Anne Denise Erik Mandy
Belgium Doesn't smell much No smell More nuts

Shit (5) (5) Weak (5)
Switzerland Little chocolate smell, mostly nuts Nutty



Some OK (2) (4) (3)
USA Light smell, chocolate and hazelnut No smell



Not great (4) (3) (4)
Germany Strong nut scent Slightly more scent than USA Second highest chocolate scent

OK (3) (2) (2)
Sweden Chocolately Chocolate scent Chocolatiest

Yum (1) (1) (1)

Flavour


Lex Jo MoJo Mary Anne Denise Erik Mandy
Belgium Not sweet (5) OK...but... Most nuts by taste and smell (4) Blah Not so hot (4) (4) (5)
Switzerland Similar to Germany, nutty, not too sweet FAV (1) Best (1) Least taste (american?) Strong and powerful hazelnuts (FAV) Tasteless (5) (5) (3)
USA Good! (4) Good mix choc & nut. (2) (3) Nutty and thick Tasteless (3) (3) (4)
Germany Very viscous, vanillay FAV (1) American (Wrong!)
No nut flavor. Not great
2nd best, 2nd darkest (2) Bland Second best, very sweet (2) (1) (2)
Sweden Very sweet & chocolatey, not much nut (3) Similar to Germany Best (Sweden?) RIGHT (1) Super chocolatey taste! (OTHER FAV) Amazing (1) (1) (2) (1)

We unanimously agreed that the Swedish Nutella was the darkest. The majority of us found it the most appealling, except for suject 1 who prefered the matte-brown colour of the German Nutella. All testers who commented on the scent also agreed that the Swedish Nutella smelled the chocolatiest.

Here's the most important part: Taste
Belgium: Didn't fare well. Ranked 4th and 5th place out of the 5 Nutellas, amongst all participants.
Switzerland: Mixed feelings! Several of us chose this one as their favorite, and several chose it as their least favorite
USA: Ranked mid-way between the 5 Nutellas
Germany: Relatively good results, several of 1st and 2nd places! One person found it bland though
Sweden: When the results are averaged, this is the favorite!

So here's the verdict:
American Nutella isn't as bad as lots of people make it out to be. Swedish Nutella is the most chocolately. and people who prefer a less sweet, and more nutty spread will tend to like German and Swiss Nutella the best, (although the German Nutella ranked better than the Swiss one). Belgian Nutella: of course, it's still Nutella, but it's the least favorite out of all 5 types tested. Belgium loses! But they win for their waffles...

Aug 7, 2011

Fans in The Driveway

I thought the SPAR grocery store in Tielt-Winge opened at 12:00 today.  I was waiting for noon to come as I sipped my morning decaf coffee.  By chance, my teammate mentioned that on Sunday it closes at noon, and doesn't open until noon the next day.  I have no food left.  No herring, no green apples...  Had I waited until noon today, I would have been screwed for another 24 hours.

When I came back from getting groceries on a cruiser, I noticed three men on bicycles pull into our driveway.  They started talking to our mechanic who had his head out of one of the house's windows.  They wanted pictures.  Postcards with rider photos and their stats on them are super popular here in Europe.  A reality that we're not at all used to in North America. 

I told the guys to hang tight, and I went in to get a few Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda rider cards.  The other girls brought some out as well.  The men were ecstatic.  They pulled out their disposable cameras and wanted pictures with all of us.  They asked questions, laughed, and wished us luck in Flemmish.  I'm not exactly sure of everything they said, but they were happy, and, so were we. 

Now where was I...?  Oh yeah, gotta go throw that pickled herring I just bought into the fridge.

Aug 4, 2011

It's a Sunny Day in Tielt-Winge

I had a great training ride with my teammate Joanie this morning, somewhere in Belgium.  We filled up our bottles with eload, and just rode and rode until we found the perfect places for our intervals.  Pretty fun. 


Now I'm just chilling outside under the sun, in the backyard of our temporary home-base in Belgium.  Our favorite mechanic, Erik Maresjo has a great playlist of smooth beats flowing from his laptop as he washes our Specialized S-Work Amira bikes. 

Yesterday was a bit of a different story, weather-wise.  It was extremely cloudy and humid all day, and there were some points when the rain came down pretty hard.  That's nothing out of the ordinary here in Belgium though.  I went out for a 3 hour solo-ride.  It's hard going for that long when you're not very familiar with the area, and the fact that the roads aren't in grid format makes keeping your barrings that much more of a challenge.  Luckily local cyclist groups have mapped out bike routes by spraying indicators on the road.  All you have to do is choose one of the symbols, and follow it.  I chose white arrows.  Then I lost track of them, and started following green ones.  Then...I figured I should head home and I followed road signs to big cities that I recognized: Leuven (the home of Stella Artois), then Aarschot, and then back to Tielt-Winge.  I ended up having a great day and got to ride on some new roads.  My chain was flipping dry and noisy once I got back though.  After all of that rain, there was no oil left on it!

Aug 2, 2011

Being a Tourist in Sweden

Travelling for bike racing is significantly different than going on vacation.  I haven't been on a "normal" vacation for a couple of years now, and I don't necessarily miss it either...

I had an extra day between my final bike race in Sweden and my flight back to Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda's temporary home base in Belgium.  Since my Specialized S-Works Amira road bike and my Specialized Tranisition time trial bike had been sent on their way back to Belgium already, I played the tourist game in Goteburg, Sweden.
 
Goteburg was established in the 1600's.  It used to be a fortified city, surrounded by a moat.  Though most of the fortifications that surrounded the old city limits have long been torn down, the moat still exists.  I took a cruise with a few teammates and our favorite mechanic through the old channels, and even out into the harbor of Goteburg on a tourist boat.  One of the most handsome Swedes that I had seen all day (and believe me, I saw a LOT of them) drove the boat.  I was more than impressed with they way he handled the vessel.  I like a man who can drive.

We also went on a big ferris wheel that cost a big amount of Kronor.  We got a great view of the city.

Next, in a restuarant on the quai, my teammates MoJo and Denise, (and special guest Jamie) ordered some whole shrimp that we dissected together.  I think shrimp brains are red.  And I know their eyes are hollow.

A few of us rented public bikes (similar to Bixis in Montréal, and pretty much the same as the Velibs in Paris) and cruised around other parts of Gotenburg.

By the end of the day I was wiped out.  After scoring a few green apples to bring back for the following morning, we hopped on bus #80 to head back to our very, very, very cheap hotel on the edge of the city.

Sweden is sweet.

Jul 31, 2011

Open de Suède Vargarda 2011 Road Race

CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net
Sunday July 31, 2011 was the big day: the Open de Suède Vargarda, the penultimate race in the 2011 UCI World Cup Women's Series.  It was the only World Cup race on Juvéderm Specialized Mazda's calendar for the 2011 season.

We knew the race wouldn't be easy.  The field was strong.  Most of the best riders in the world were in the pack trying to score more UCI and World Cup points, and to show their team colours.  The race consisted of 12 laps of an 11 km course for a total of just over 130 km.  There was plenty of road furniture on the course, and enough bends and corners to deem it somewhat technical.  There were a fair amount of crashes, and even more close calls.  A few guys with yellow flags and whistles to signal the upcoming hazards could have prevented some of the accidents, but everyone is still alive.

I only managed to stay with the main field for just a bit more than half of the race before getting permanently shelled off with a small group of girls in the same boat as me.  The race was won in just under 3 hours and 20 minutes (3:20:00) for an average speed slightly over 40km.  I finished just a bit over 9 minutes down from the winner, 28 year old Annemiek Van Vleuten (Team: Nederland Bloeit).

Despite being very, very sick during the race, my teammate Denise Ramsden stuck with the main field until just before the end, and she still managed to finish only two minutes down from the winning pack.  A very impressive and admirable feat for a girl who found herself in a situation where most would have automatically pulled the plug on the race without thinking twice. 

The rain started to come down pretty hard only minutes after we had come across the finish line, perfect timing.  It was a great opportunity to race a World Cup race, and I hope we'll have more on the calendar for next year.   We have one more day in Sweden, and we'll be playing "tourists" tomorrow before we go back to our Euro home-base in Belgium on Tuesday. 

Jul 30, 2011

Open De Suède Vargarda: UCI World Cup Team Time Trial

Juvéderm-Specialized Mazda rode the Open De Suède Vargarda UCI World Cup Team Time Trial (TTT) last night, July 29, 2011.  HTC Highroad took home the victory with 1:44 on the second place team, AA Drinks.  Garmin finalized the podium with a third place finish, only seconds ahead of the Australian National Team. 

Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda started and finished with 5 riders, all on Specialized Transition time trial bikes. We came in 16th out of 21 teams.  For a first team time trial, we did a pretty good job.  TTTs are neat team experiences.  Developing a strategy of how to approach the race course, how to best organize the order of the girls out on the course, deciding how to handle the technical parts of the course, as well as the less technical parts of the course, and how to communicate with eachother during the race are amongst the critical aspects of having a successful TTT.  It takes a while to perfect all of these elements to race as efficiently as possible.  For a first shot, I think we did pretty well, and we brought home some more UCI points for Canada.

We'll be out riding hard in the penultimate road race of the UCI Women's World Cup Series on Sunday!

Jul 28, 2011

Smokeless Cigarettes, Anyone?

Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda will be racing two UCI World Cup races in Sweden this weekend.  The first race is a team time trial, on Friday, and the second is a road race on Sunday.  We flew out of Belgium this morning and landed in the home of IKEA this afternoon.

It was my first time flying with a particular discount airline.  I was actually pleasantly surprised, it wasn't as bad as some people and some YouTube videos had made it out to be.  One thing that I found to be quite different from my other flying experiences however, was that the flight attendants were constantly coming over the loud speakers trying to sell things.  First hot drinks.  Then food.  Then perfume and toys.  Then lotto tickets.  Then smokeless cigarettes...the best part.  Let me explain:

The guy comes across the PA system with a sales pitch for these "smokeless cigarettes".  He was trying really hard.  You can tell he's new to this whole sales deal though.  He pushed the fact that you could smoke these cigarettes in areas that were normally "closed" to smokers, like cinemas, restaurants...and then he paused.  I could tell he was trying really hard to come up with another place where you're not allowed to smoke.  Finally he added: "and, helicopters".   I burst out laughing.  He looked at me a little sheepishly but I think he appreciated that I was at least was listening to his spiel...

There was no movie, but the in-flight entertainment wasn't so bad afterall. ;)

Jul 27, 2011

Thüringen-Rundfahrt der Frauen

Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda ist stolz, an der Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen 2011 teilgenommen zu haben.  Die gesamte Veranstaltung war sehr gut organisiert und wir Fahrerinnen haben uns gut aufgehoben gefühlt. Das Rennen selbst war eine Herausforderung, mit sehr attraktiven und anspruchsvollen Etappen, die zu fahren grossen Spass gemacht hat. Es ist ein Vergnügen, und immer eine besondere Motivation, vor so vielen Fans und Zuschauern im Start- und Zielbereich wie auch an der gesamten Strecke zu fahren.  
 
Seit ich ein kleines Mädchen bin, hatte ich den Wunsch Deutschland, die Heimat meines Vaters, zu besuchen. Das machte die Thüringen Rundfahrt zu einem besonderen Erlebnis für mich. Ich nehme viele angenehme Eindrücke mit und freue mich darauf an die Thüringen-Rundfahrt der Frauen 2012 zurückzukommen.
Vielen Dank an alle Fans, Freiwilligen, die Polizei, die Rennleitung und die Organisatoren für die fantastische Veranstaltung. Danke auch an mein Team Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda und unsere Sponsoren.
Ihr könnt mich auf Facebook weiter begleiten. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=hp#!/pages/Lex-Albrecht/137026036359510

Jul 25, 2011

Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen 2011

Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda was extremely happy to participate in the 2011 edition of the UCI Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen.  The 7 day, 6 stage (plus, a team time trial prologue) took place in the region of Thüringen.  The riders were housed at the 4 Star Altenburger hotel in Altenburg.  The race courses were very hilly, and the calibre of the peloton was high.  Many of the best female road cyclists in the world were on the start list.

I had never been to Germany before, and was very impressed by the quality of the roads, the beauty of the scenery, the enthusiasm of the race fans and spectators, and the hospitality and friendliness of the people who live in the area.  My father and his family are from Germany, so it was extra special for me to race the Thüringen Rundfahrt because I have wanted to visit Germany ever since I was a little girl.

I am getting used to racing in Europe again after having been away for a year.  I let myself get dropped off of the back a few too many times in the descents, which I normally enjoy riding.  I crashed on the second stage of the race, but luckily only mangled my elbow a bit.  It just became an issue on the final stage when we had to power over a relatively long cobbled section 4 times, and when I pre-rode it, the vibrations made my arm feel like it was being bashed by a baseball bat.  Our mechanic Erik helped me tape the arm up like a champ before the start, and it wasn't an issue. 

 There were a few very rainy days, and we ended up having to wash our own clothes in our hotel sink.  Our team didn't have a big team bus with a washer and dryer.  But that's just fine, it's all part of the adventure, right?
Denise Ramsden finished in 6th place on the second road stage after being a part of the winning break for the whole day.  She finished second place in the U23 competition as well.  Good job Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda! 



We're all back in Belgium now.  We'll leave in two days for our next stop: Two World Cup races in Sweden.