Mar 25, 2012

Stage 3 Criterium: 2012 Redlands Bicycle Classic

The criterium course at Redlands is known for it's CORNERS.  9 of them, on each mile-long lap.  The women's field raced for 60 minutes, and Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies tried to make the best of each second.  There are some cool pictures on the official team site for both the men's and women's races: Optum Pro Cycling Redlands Criterium Race Report and Photos

Pedaling through the corner with an "emergency" Clif Shot gel stashed away under my Champion Systems short band, just in case
We went into the race with Joëlle in the sprinter's jersey, and Jade in the climber's jersey.  There were no climber's points to be gained on the flat, speedy course.  (In fact, the average speed of the women's race was over 26mph, which is quite a bit considering how technical the course is relative to most other criteriums)

We raced well.  We attacked, we covered, we initiated breaks.  Halfway into the race, I attacked and pounded around the course for two laps solo.  When the field caught me, Denise Ramsden went off the front for over 7 laps with one other rider.  Courteney, Jade and Joëlle worked together to score points, and Anna and Kristen rode a great race too.

In the final lap there were two crashes, one somewhere behind me that I could only hear, and one in front of me, and everyone else.  Coming into the finish line, Joëlle was second wheel (the second rider from the front).  It was the girl in front of her who went down, and Joëlle managed to avoid going down with her, cranked up the speed again, and still managed to sprint to a super 1st place finish.

Excellent racing girls.  That was fun.

Mar 24, 2012

Redlands Bicycle Classic, 1st and 2nd Stage in The Bank

Stage 1: Uphill prologue.
5k and just over 11 minutes of speed and power was the plan for the day.  I put on my Champion Systems speedsuit (like a skinsuit, but even faster), my special Lazer time trial (TT) helmet, and my most aero Mavic shoe covers on.  I wasn't expecting to win the darn TT (hey, it's not my specialty), I just wanted to give it my best shot.
Out of the gate everything was going well.  Our mechanic Adrian set up my Orbea TT bike (outfitted with HED bars that I chose earlier in the season, and a set of HED wheels) perfectly.  I was keeping an aero position with my head down low, only looking a few feet ahead at a time.  I hugged the right side of the road.  I figured it was the best line. Then, BAM.  An orange fence appeared in front of me and I rode into it.  Embarassing, frustrating, disappointing?  I don't know. I just convinced myself not to let it get to me, to refocus, and keep going. Easier said than done.
The orange fence was a baracade that closed off the sides of the racecourse to cars and pedestrians.  At a certain point where I obvioulsy wasn't expecting it, the orange fence cut into the road, tapering the width of the course somewhat.  That's where it caught me, like a rodent trap.
Looking back I hope that somebody saw me and got a kick out of the whole deal.  At least I'd feel like it was somewhat worth it. haha.

Stage 2: City of Beaumont Circuit Race
Traditionally, this stage is heavily influenced by the winds in Beaumont, especially in the long, straight, flat, unsheltered sections.  In 2012 it wasn't windy.  Just breezy.

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies rode a super race.  We were agressive, attacking and counter attacking, and getting into every significant break attempt throughout the day.  We don't race with radios anymore, so halfway into the race, Denise dropped back to get some news from our director Rachel in the race caravan.  Denise brought all of us extra bottles.  It's easier to "feed" from the caravan sometimes than to grab a feed (a bottle!) in the feedzone on the course when all of the other riders are struggling to find their soigneurs posted at the side of the road, and grab their bottle as they whiz by.  It's a hectic area of the racecourse most times. 

It was important not to give up a good place in the peloton in the feed zone because shortly afterwards, the race went into it's most technical section.  There were a few twisty uphill pitches with a bit of narrow downhill roads thrown in which make me think of Europe.  It's best to be at the front of the pack at this point in the race.  Especially because the battle for the Queen of the Mountains (QOM) intermediate sprint points would happen at the top of the final ascent, so the pace would be cranked up significantly on the tough-ish climb.  Jade and Courteney scored all of the QOM points for the day, and we set up Joëlle on every lap to get her the maximum amount of points at the intermediate sprints.  The result was: Green Sprinter's jersey for Joëlle Numainville, and Red Queen of the Mountains jersey for Jade Wilcoxson.  I took a flyer at the end of the race, misinterpreting Jade's "GO Lex!" which meant, ramp up the pace, not crank it like a wildwoman.  I knew that I had a gap on the field, and it was taking a while for it to be filled.  I wondered if I would stay away, and wondered where Joëlle and Jade were too but I didn't dare look back, I wanted to keep the speed up.  Specialized-Lulu Lemon brought me back in the final corner with several hundred metres to go, with Joëlle and Jade on their wheels.  Joëlle just barely, barely missed the highest step of the podium for the day, crossing the line in second place. 

A super finish, two jerseys, and a great day.  There are two stages left, the downtown criterium and Sunset, another circut race...  We want orange EVERYWHERE.  Good job girls.

Mar 19, 2012

The Sun is Out and The Moutain Tops are Snowy in Redlands California

I'm happy to be in Redlands California.  The sun is back out, it's on the cool side, but the snow on the mountains is gorgeous.  The team arrived this morning.  We scouted out some lunch, and went grocery shopping for fuel for the next few days. 
After quickly settling in to our host houses and unpacking the our Thule luggage, five of us (Kristen, Joëlle, Jade, Courteney and I) kitted up and went for a spin.  We cruised around on a couple of the race courses this afternoon on our Orbeas.  Today is Monday and the Redlands Bicycle Classic  begins on Thursday.

Final Stage: Criterium at the 2012 San Dimas Stage Race

Today was unseasonably cold.  We woke up to see Mount Baldy dusted with snow.  Riding to the race we were pelted in the face with a bit of hail.  Once again, we were well dressed with the digs that Champion Systems outfitted us with.  I was pretty much decked out the same way I would have been for cross country skiing.  I was comfortable.

The rain held off for the race though.  My teammate Jade Wilcoxson rode in the break that peeled off from the field early in the race.  She sprinted across the line in 2nd place, just behind Ina Tuetenburg.  Nice podium!  Along with a great performace in the prologue, this earned Jade a 5th place overall in the San Dimas Stage Race.  My other teammate Joëlle kept her 3rd place in the general classification which she pulled off with a super time trial as well as an excellent day in the breakaway of the second stage road race.

The San Dimas Stage Race was a great way for me to kick off my 2012 season, and Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies brought home some impressive results.  I love seeing orange on the podium.  Good job girls!

We're off to Redlands tomorrow, and racing will start again on Thursday.

Thank you to all of our sponsors and supporters

Mar 17, 2012

Rainy Stage 2. San Dimas Stage Race 2012

They called for 100% chance of rain in the forecast, and they predicted correctly.  It was raining from the moment I woke up at 6am, and it's still coming down.  This is not typical southern California weather!  The office was open though; the race was still on, and we were ready.

To be honest, the rain didn't faze us.  Champion Systems has given us enough clothing to be comfortable in any type of condition, that's no exaggeration.  I hardly have room in my closet for all of it!  Today's combination for most of my teammates including myself was a Champion Systems jersey, winter arm warmers, sleeveless baselayer and a translucent rain jacket.  Those jackets are nice because the race numbers show through, meaning we don't have to take it off  before crossing the finish line.  I had my Mavic rain shoe covers over my yellow shoes as well.  I felt fine, and a bit like a warrior.  I always do when I'm well dressed for inclement weather.

Jeremy oiled up our legs before the race.  Oil is nice in the rain because it creates a barrier between the skin and the rain which helps keep warm, believe it or not.  The difference is huge. 

My teammate Joëlle (5th in GC at the beginning of the day) got off the front early in a break with three other riders: Kristen Armstrong (1st GC), Clara Hughes (2nd GC) and Alison Powers (7th GC).  This meant we didn't chase, we sat in the pack, hoping for the best outcome for Joëlle in the final sprint.

There were a few crashes today.  One time, I saw a pair of orange glasses fly across the road.  It made me sick to my stomach because they looked like our Lazer glasses.  I was sure that one of my teammates went down.  Later, I realized all of the Optum Pro Cycling girls had kept the rubber side down.  Thank you Challenge tires.  (What we were all most impressed with was our wheel and tire combination. Our Head Stinger carbon wheels with the Challenge tubular tires that our mechanic, Adrian, glued on a couple of days ago gripped the soaking corners without hesitation.  Adrian fine-tuned the pressure in the tires to suit today's conditions, and put a little less pressure than normal.)

The break ended up gaining over 5 minutes on the field.  The race officials decided that instead of 8 laps, the race would end at 7.   The message had been conveyed to field early enough so that all of the girls were aware of the change by 0.5 laps-to-go.  Except for the ones in the break...

The officials decided that the results for the 4 riders in the breakaway would be determined by the order that they crossed the finish line at lap 7 as well.  The only problem was that this decision was made when the riders had already began riding lap 8.  There was no real sprint, which is unfortunate for my teammate Joëlle, who's specialty is sprinting.  Joëlle was given 3rd place. 

So, the finish of the race was a bit confusing but we went home satisfied with how we handled the day, and proud of Joëlle's performance.  There is one more stage left tomorrow, the criterium which will be lots of fun.  Let's hope the weather clears up, but even if it doesn't, I'm confident that the Optum riders will be just fine.

Mar 15, 2012

Pedaling up Mount Baldy

I went out riding with my teammate Joëlle Numainville.  We threw a couple of Clif bars in our pockets and headed to Mount Baldy, just outisde of Upland, California for a little spin.  Check out where we were riding!  Today we will ride the prologue course for the San Dimas Stage Race.  The race begins tomorrow, and it will be good to be reaquainted with all of the pitches and the turns on the course.  The uphill climb is only about 15 minutes long, but in the prologue, every second will count.

Mar 13, 2012

For the second year in a row, the San Dimas Stage Race is the first event on my calendar.  I'll be flying in to Los Angeles, California tomorrow afternoon to meet up with some of my Optum Pro Cycling teammates.  Our roster is made up of 12 girls.  6 to 8 girls participate in each race.  Some of my teammates like Carmen and Janel are racing in Europe on National Team projects, so I'll see them again at another event later on instead.

I'm lucky because I don't have to haul my bike across the country for the 2012 season.  I have an Orbea Orca to train on at home, and the team keeps my race bikes (a time trial bike, and an Orbea Orca race bike set up identical to my training bike) with them.  I can leave my Kinetic trainers at home because the team will have a supply of them for us to use when we're warming up for prologues, time trials, and criteriums.

So what am I packing in my THULE luggage this time around?

-Riding gear for all weather, because even though I'll be going to California, it's still spring.  From Champion Systems legwarmers and arm warmers, to the ultra light summer jerseys...
-Lazer helmet and glasses. 
-Quarq powermeter (I want to make sure I get it installed on my new racebike that I have yet to be aquainted with) and my computer to make sure I have something to read the data on while I ride!
-Emergency food like smoked herring, magic oatmeal, and some almonds.  I know I'll always have fuel wherever I am.  I'll beat those pricy airport cafés at their own game...
-plastic container to store my cooked rice in.  Cooking rice takes a while, so I like doing it in batches.  I need a place to put it before my next meal though!
-magic coffee.  (Magic coffee = instant coffee.  It's mainly what I drink when I'm on the road for racing.  It makes me appreciate the rich crema on my espressos when I get home just that much more.)

My Mom is flying in to stay at my place for a few days while I'll be racing.  I'll be missing out on the RedBull Crashed Ice event in the Vieux Québec, but she'll be here to enjoy it!  Don't bring any strangers back home.  Anybody else have advice for house rules that I should post for her arrival?

Mar 6, 2012

I Bought a Magic Necklace

When I woke up, I made myself a bowl of magic oatmeal.  Years ago, I had to kick my habit of Post's Lucky's Charms breakfast cereal, and my magic oatmeal seems to be doing the trick just fine.

I drink my espressos (mainly decaf) from my magic espresso cups when I see fit.  The miracle today was the crema on the shots that I pulled.  Pat on the back, Lex.

I bought a magic necklace from the UK.  A girl named Lisa made it.  I didn't bother asking her how she got the magic in the necklace.  To be honest, she never even claimed in her product description that there were any mystical properties in the orange charms.  I just knew right away when I saw it.  I hope it ships out soon.  It's going to look sharp with my Optum gear. is Lisa's blog.

I have a pair of special socks that I wear when I want my Quarq powermeter to show me big numbers when I crank out the watts on my Orbea.

I have a favorite DVD of a recorded race that I pull out if I feel a little overwhelmed.  I have favorite songs to listen to, and favorite roads to ride when I want a little miracle in my heart.

I like magic.  I like miracles.  I like having fun.  
Magic is everywhere, miracles happen all of the time, and I pretty much always have fun.  Find the magic, be open to the miracles, and I can pretty much garuntee that you'll always have fun too.

Mar 4, 2012

Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic

In less than two weeks I will leave Québec City for California to begin my race season at the San Dimas Stage Race.  My flight is booked.  I'm scheduled for another early morning take-off (early, as in before-the-roosters-wake-up).  I heard that early flights will make me even, bring it on!

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies has already kicked off the race season.  Several of my teammates raced at the Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic.  I'm offering them big props, from over here in Québec, for their excellent performance.  What a great way to start 2012! 

Joëlle Numainville won the title of Best Young Rider, and brought back second place overall in the general classification.

Leah Kirchmann (who placed second in the Best Young Rider category), Janel Holcomb, and Jade Wilcoxen brought home 4th, 5th, and 6th places (respectively).  Denise Ramsden was 4th in the Best Young Rider classification.  Annie Ewart and Emma Grant did a super job at helping get Optum Orange on the podiums.

Great job girls.  I'm cranked to start racing!

Mar 2, 2012

Du (Kinetic!) Rock'n'Roll ce matin

J'ai laissé le pain doré de côté pour un petit peu, c'est avec du gruau magique et un bon espresso que je part ma journée aujourd'hui.  Sous peu, je me ferai un papier avec une liste d'intervals à faire, et j'embarquerai sur mon vélo sur le Kinetic Rock'n'Roll.  La première fois que j'ai vu ce modèle de trainer, j'étais chez Passion Vélos à Trois-Rivières Québec.  Pino me l'avait montré.  Le Rock'n'Roll est le mix idéale entre un trainer traditionel et le trois-rouleaux.  On peut forcer aussi facilement que sur un trainer, mais on a une sensation de liberté plus similaire à celle qu'on a sur le trois-rouleaux.  Le Rock'n'Roll est le meilleur trainer pour le cadre d'un vélo- ça n'exerce pas de force de torsion qui affaiblirait le cadre à la longue. Si vous ne savez pas encore ce que c'est, regardez ce vidéo YouTube:

Demain je serai au Parc de la Mauricie.  Pas pour skier, pas pour rouler, mais pour profiter de l'atmosphère du Défi Nordique.  Venez me dire bonjour si vous y serez aussi!  Bon Défi aux participants!