Jul 31, 2012

More Winners

Congratulations to ADAM of Windsor who has won this week's bonus prize of a Mathieu Performance and Passion Vélos double prize pack! Adam has won a BLACKBURN light, (c/o Mathieu Performance), a Passion Vélos TR T-shirt, and two water bottles. Congratulations Adam! Your prize will be shipped next Tuesday...I'm in Chicago getting ready for my next race: ELK GROVE.

There are more Mathieu Performance prizes to be won next week, along with a pair of OPTUM arm warmers!  Cool!  Follow me on Facebook to stay up to date on the winners.

Thanks for supporting World Bicycle Relief and the 2012 Season!

Félicitations à Adam de Windsor qui a gagné deux bidons (Passion Vélos et Mathieu Performance) une lumière Blackburn de Mathieu Performance, ainis qu'un T-shirt de chez Passion Vélos.  Merci Adam, et félicitations!

Encore d'autres prix Mathieu Performance à gagner la semaine prochaine, ainsi que des MANCHETTES OPTUM!   Visitez la boutique Mathieu Performance à Québec, ou la boutique Passion Vélos-TR à Trois-Rivières pour acheter vos billets. Merci, merci, merci de supporter la cause! :)

Jul 29, 2012

Prairie Classic, St. Charles IL

La course a été parfaite.  Nous sommes à St. Charles IL pour faire le critérium Prairie Classic.  Notre directrice d'équipe, Rachel l'a même fait avec nous!

La course est partie à bloc, ensuite nous avons lancé plusieurs attaques.  Elles ont toutes été couvertes et ramenées.  À un moment quand la vitesse a ralenti, je savais que c'était un bon moment pour essayer de faire mal aux autres de nouveau.  J'ai fait une bonne accélération et une fille colombienne m'a suivi, mais le peloton n'était pas loin.  Alors j'ai donné un autre coup et je nous ai fait un bon écart.  Je fait comprendre à la fille que je voulais travailler avec elle (elle ne parlais pas anglais).  Et c'est ce qu'on fait, augmentant l'écart entre nous et le peloton. 

Notre méchano, Adrian, qui était sur le bord de la route (dans la ''pit'') m'a signalé que ma co-équipière Jade voulait venir nous joindre.  Le peloton était une quarantaine de seconds en arrière de moi, mais j'ai essayé de maintenir une vitesse qui permettrait à Jade de venir nous joindre sans avoir à trop, trop forcer, tout en faisant que le peloton soit incapable de revenir sur nous.  Une deuxième Colombienne a suivi Jade  Quand elles se sont joindre à nous, Jade et moi avons lancé des attaques, une après l'autre.  Jade s'est échappée, et on a réussi à larguer une des deux filles.  Jade s'est rejointe au peloton de nouveau (elle a ''lappé'' le pack) et j'ai joué au chat et souris avec la Colombienne restante.  Je voulais rester en échappée sans brûler les cartouches qu'il me prendrait pour gagner au sprint pour avoir 2e place.  J'ai réussi, alors on a fait 1 et 2, (la Colombienne 3) et Leah a gagné le sprint du peloton pour avoir 4e place. 
Lex et Jade, 1 et 2 à la course Prairie Classic
Avec les bouquets de fleurs sur le podium, on nous a offert du blé d'inde.  Je l'ai mangé tout crû, délicieux.

Prochaine course: Elk Grove.

Herman Miller Classic: Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On Saturday July 28, 2012, Jade Wilcoxson, Leah Kirchmann and I raced the Herman MIller Classic Crtierium in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  After the expected slew of attacks and counters, Jade broke away with two other riders.  

Jade was just barely outsprinted by the American national criterium champion, Cliff-Ryan, and still managed to stand atop the 2nd step of the podium.  Hoping to round out the top 4 or 5 but only behind the break, I made one final attack with 1 lap to go.  I got caught just after exiting the final corner heading into the start finish. 

Great team racing, and an excellent first race for Leah who is back from her collarbone breaking crash at Nature Valley in MN.

Following our race, we watched the pro men race for their national crit champion title.  Optum ruled the race especially at the end where they took control with more than 5 laps to go.  The leadout train they gave Ken Hanson was perfect, and Ken delivered the goods, taking the national title.  I cheered so hard at the finish line that I had to sit down, very, very fast because I thought I was going to pass out. 

Way to go OPTUM!

Jul 27, 2012

Mirrors, No Mirrors

Without making an absolute generalization, I can still report that the last few individuals that I've pedaled by who had mirrors on their helmets or their bikes, were ironically those who were the most nerve wracking to ride around, and the least aware of their surroundings. 

At the beginning of the week, I came home to Québec from Bend, OR to find that some dufus had ripped the driver's side mirror right off of my car.  I hope it was thrilling.  Because it sucks driving without side mirrors.

I'm not convinced yet that I need a mirror on my bike, but I still want them on my car.

I'm on my way to Grand Rapids MI for a weekend of criteriums with Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.  I'm looking forward to racing like always, and crusing around in one of Optum's Acura TSX Sportwagons with the mirrors still in tact...

Let's go tear up these crit courses the way we love to do, girls.

Jul 25, 2012

World Bicycle Relief Silent Auction

All of the riders for Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies are trying to do their part to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief.  I have a raffle going with excellent prizes, until September 17, 2012.  Click HERE for details.

Jade Wilcoxson organized a silent auction at Goodlife Micro-Brewery in Bend, OR.  There were awesome items up for bid, including Mavic shoes, Clif products, Park Tool products, a Landshark frame gift certificate, Colavita gift baskets, HED wheels, and even our Cascade Cycling Classic Leader’s jerseys. 
The night was a blast.  A lot of locals, and a lot of cyclists came out to have fun, bid on some cool stuff, and help a good cause.  Jade, big-ups to you for organizing such a cool event.

Jul 24, 2012

Cascade Cycling Classic 2012 Review: LEX ALBRECHT

Cascade Cycling Classic started off with an evening prologue: fast, fun, and short.  Every second counts, and every right and wrong move matter for those who are going for the win.  The brief, hard effort made  my throat feel raw for 3 days afterwards.

Stage 1 consisted of two long descents, and two long climbs, finishing uphill to the finish.  I initiated a break on the first uphill.  With the gap not big enough to my taste, I tried to drive it a bit harder, until the other girls started to cooperate.  Only two stuck on, Kristen McGrath (Exergy) and Katherin Donvan (FCS-Rouse).  We worked relatively well together.  With under 1km to go to the intermediate sprint (for Queen of the Mountain points) at the summit, Kristen attacked hard.  I was anticipating it, and jumped on her wheel.  Not long after, Donvan launched another attack, but we didn’t let her get away either.  Knowing my legs, and judging by the pitch of the ascent, I decided to sprint with 200m to go.  My plan worked and I scored the full 7 QOM points.  Carmen, Jade, Janel, and Miranda were in the group that caught our 3-woman break on the descent.   We fought it to the end and although we didn’t podium, I was awarded the climber’s jersey, the best young rider’s jersey, Jade the sprinter’s jersey, and Kristen Armstong  (Exergy) stood atop the leader’s podium with us in yellow.
In the break with Kristen McGrath

In the stage 2 day 3 time trial, Carmen climbed atop the podium for an impressive 3rd place finish.  None of the leader’s jerseys changed hands.  After a hard ride, I sank my legs into the cold river that runs through Bend for recovery to prepare for the next day.
Chilling out before the time trial, with my polka-dot skinsuit.  Thank you Cascade Cycling Classic and Champion Systems Clothing
Stage 3 was exciting for me.  It started and finished at a mountaintop ski resort.  Adrian had taped my bars red, and put on white hood covers to match my polka dot jersey.  Jade had green hood covers on to match the sprinter’s jersey.  Jeremy slathered our legs with embrocation, it was cold at the start.  My teammates attacked and we counter attacked, and I ended up initiating a break that stuck.  7 girls, including my teammate Courteney Lowe came with me.  We worked together until some of the other riders realized that strategically, they had to let up.  This left a small handful of us to do the pulling.  With the gap reaching over 4 minutes, it became evident that perhaps we would stay away until the finish.  Courteney started doing my share of the pulling, and hers, and probably a bit more.  The race finished with a relatively long climb.  After a couple of attacks, I was off the front, following Andrea Dvorak (Exergy) and Véronique Fortin (Tibco).  Dvorak tried to get a gap on us a few times (or put us in the hurt-tank, or both…) but didn’t succeed.  Véro put in a hard attack that might have burnt some of her final matches.  Not long after, she dropped off the back and it was up to Dvorak and I. 
Knowing she is a strong rider, had interest in staying away, and that her team had the yellow jersey, I tactically let her do the majority of the work, only coming out of her draft to pull a couple of times in the final kilometers.  Nearing the finish line I sprinted hard, not daring to look back.  Only after seeing the photos of my finish did I realize that I had actually created a 4 second gap.  I was ecstatic crossing the finish line, and made the A-OK sign with my right hand.  I wanted to signal the win with a tribute to my Opa, who passed away in January.  It was his birthday that day.  After one of his rough surgeries, he made the A-OK sign for a photo that was sent out to the family, letting everyone know he was doing alright.  This was a pretty special day for me to bring home the win.  Special thanks to Courteney for helping keep my legs fresh until the end.

On stage 4, a downtown criterium in Bend, we learned the race leader, Kristen Armstrong (Exergy) had dropped out of the race and was on the road to London for the Olympics.  It was a surprise to most of us.  Carmen Small won this stage. Especially with the help of Carmen and Janel, Jade scored all of the maximum intermediate sprint points.  Only 4 seconds separated Carmen and Allison Powers (NOW-Novartis)
Sporting the polka dots with the red bar tape, and white hoods from Adrian.  -Brian Hodes

Stage 5 was a short (85km) circuit race, meaning we did 3 laps of a short course.  The weather was hot and the race was intense.  My legs were starting to be drained and my mind didn’t appreciate the descents.  I let flashes of my last crashes make me hesitate too much. and crawling back up through the pack on the ascents proved to be grueling.  I wasn’t proud.  We didn’t manage to win the race, or mount the podium. 

But in the overall classification, Jade kept the Green sprinter’s jersey, I wore the polka-dot climber’s jersey and the white Best Young Rider’s jersey, and Carmen finished 2nd overall.  There were four of us in the top 10, and we had our other 4 teammates to thank for it.

As for the men, they podiumed several times during the race, and Chad Haga and Jesse Anthony both brought back stage victories.

Cascade Cycling Classic: my first NRC stage win, and a successful race for Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.

Jul 22, 2012

Racing in Bend, OR at Cascade Cycling Classic

Day two, stage 1 leader's podium with Jade Wilcoxson, Kristen Armstrong, and me, Lex Albrecht
I am in Bend, Oregon at the Cascade Cycling Classic.  It is a six day stage race, including a prologue, three road stages, a criterium and an individual time trial.

I have one day left to race.  Things are looking good.  At the moment we have all of the leader's jerseys except one: the yellow one.  The yellow one is for the overeall leader.  And we want it.  My teammate Carmen Small is 4 seconds away from Alison Powers, the racer who is in the lead.  We want that yellow for OPTUM. 

I'll keep it short and sweet.  Jade Wilcoxson has the green sprinter's jersey (Carmen is the only one that this jersey could be transfered to in tomorrow's race, it stays in the team regardless), I have the polka-dot climber's jersey (that one is secured), and I have the white best young rider (under 26 years old) jersey by almost 4 minutes.

Here is a great report on yesterday's race from Cyclingnews.com : http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/cascade-cycling-classic-2012/stage-3/results

The rest of the details...(and they are good!) are yet to come, I have to rest up for tomorrow.  We have a yellow jersey to battle for.  YEAH OPTUM.

Jul 15, 2012

Une photo pour compenser une manque de vocabulaire.

J'ai presque du mal à expliquer jusqu'à quel point que j'ai HÂTE à être réunie avec mon Orbea Orca noir.  C'est car le noir, c'est mon vélo de course. Et j'ai hâte à rembarquer dans le peloton.  Mardi, je vais débuter la course Cascade Cycling Classic, à Bend, OR, avec mon équipe, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.  Cascade sera ma première course dépuis ma chute au championnats Canadiens le 22 juin.  Je croyais que cet accident allait terminer ma saison.

Alors, au lieu de m'exprimer avec des mots, je vous montre une photo que j'ai pris d'un spectacle extraordinaire de feux d'artifices que j'ai vu hier soir.  Mon ''hâte de faire de la compétition'' à l'air de ça:

Jul 13, 2012

Prizes Galore!

So far in the World Bicycle Relief/2012 Season Raffle we've given away tons of prizes, there are lots more to come.  It's all for a good cause: Getting the WBR Buffalo Bikes into the hands of those who need them most in Africa, and supporting women's pro-cycling. 

The WBR Buffalo Bike, (picture taken at Optum's pro cyclist CHAD HAGA's WBR Benefit Concert!)

Where can you get your tickets?
1. Online (click the WBR Raffle link on the top of this page and donate with PAYPAL)
2. In person (I always have tickets!)
3. Passion Vélos Trois-Rivières (495 rue Barkoff, Trois-Rivieres 819 375-0221)
4. Mathieu Performance (496 1ère Ave, Québec 418 524-2650)

The sooner you get your tickets, the more weekly bonus prize draws you will be eligible for!  Here's a look at some of the prizes to come:
Prize packs from Passion Vélos Trois-Rivières!

Performance Nutrition Plan from Nutrition Solutions Anne Guzman (An ex-pro, and MY NUTRTITIONIST!)

Mathieu Performance Bottles and Blackburn Cycling lights
Dark Cycle Clothing (www.darkcycleclothing.com) women's T-shirt and canvas bag
Of COURSE, at the end, the grand prize of a Kinetic Road Machine Trainer! (Worth $379!)

Jul 11, 2012

Bikes for everyone at the Old Port of Québec

My Orbea Orca is my favorite. I love my white training one and I'm always excited to be reunited with my black racing one.  But I like all bikes.  After my leg-killer of a training session this morning, I spun around Québec City to try to flush some lactic acid out of my muscles and, what do you know, there was a bike paradise at the Old Port.

There were bikes of all shapes and sizes and ages and styles, for people of all shapes and sizes and ages and styles.  I leaned my Orbea up against the fence that caged these special bikes in, and tried the bike that I took a picture of (below).  There's something different about this bike, can you tell what it is?

Jul 9, 2012

Festival d'été de Québec

Il reste moins qu'une semaine avant de repartir à l'extérieur pour faire des courses.  La prochaine destination: Cascade Cycling Classic à Bend, OR avec mon équipe Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.  C'est une course de 6 jours, et je profite de mes dernier jours chez nous pour paufiner ma forme. 

Hier j'ai fait une excellente sortie sur mon Orbea.  J'ai été surtout bien fière de moi même d'avoir réussi à suivre un parcours que je n'avais jamais navigué sans l'aide de quelqu'un familier avec le coin.  Le but du jour: me donner mal aux jambes.  Mission accomplie.

Avec les pistons légèrement (mais pas trop) ''rackés'', j'ai assisté au spectacle Jean LeLoup au Féstival d'été de Québec pour terminé la journée.  Parfois quand je suis loin de chez nous et je m'ennuie de la Belle Province, je mets du Jean LeLoup sur mon lecteur mp3, et ça me fait du bien.  Jean nous a fait un super spectacle.  C'était plus que pas pire comme activité ''après-vélo''.  Il y en aura sans doute plein d'autres à venir.

Jul 6, 2012

Achetez vos billets chez Passion Vélos Trois-Rivières!

Nouveau: La boutique Passion Vélos Trois-Rivières sur la rue Barkoff à Trois-Rivières, Québec a des billets pour le tirage World Bicycle Relief/Saision 2012.  Pour chaque don de $20 vous courez la chance de ganger un prix bonus (tirage chaque lundi) et le grand gagnant sera choisi le 17 septembre.  Le prix?  Une base d'entraînement KURT KINETIC ROAD MACHINE!  Ca vaut $380, pas pire comme prix ;)!

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies travaille avec World Bicycle Relief, un organisme à but non-lucratif, afin d'ammasser des fonds pour envoyer des vélos spécialisés en Afrique.  Je suis fière de faire ma partie, et je vous remercie de nous aider aussi!  Ça vaut la peine d'écouter les vidéos YOUTUBE qui décrivent d'avantage sur cette bonne cause. 

Fast Kids!

L'équipe Vélo Mauricie est un équipe pour jeunes cyclistes de la région de la Mauricie.  Les athlètes s'entraînent ensemble à la fin de la journée plusieurs fois par semaine, dans un environment très amicable.  Le but de l'équipe est de former la relève de cyclisme en vélo de route.

Hier, j'ai eu le plaisir de rouler avec Vélo Mauricie, et j'ai enfilé mon maillot bleu et vert pour l'occasion.  Je dois avouer que j'avais regretté de ne pas avoir mis du Cutex bleu ou vert comme quelques-unes des filles qui étaient là, mais je ferai un effort de ''fitter'' mes ongles avec le kit É.V.M. pour la prochaine fois. 

Yannick Bédard nous a fait faire quelques efforts dans des montées, et un sur le plat.  Ca se voit très bien que l'encadrage des entraineurs comme Yannick, et la volonté et bons attitudes des athlètes portent fruit.  Les athlètes sont forts, ils roulent super bien, (j'ai été impressioné par leur coup de pédale!) et c'est évident que tout le monde s'amuse. 

La majorité de l'équipe sera à Alma en fin de semaine pour une course par étape.  Bonne course tout le monde, et on se voit en bas de la côte des Forges une autre fois cet été, c'est certain!

Jul 4, 2012

Summer Training in Québec

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies has a full race calendar.  Every rider races the National Championships (the Canadians, the Americans, our British rider Emma Grant) except Courteney Lowe from New Zealand.  Her championships are in January.  A few weeks off of racing follows the ''Nationals Block'', but training doesn't stop!

For a girl who loves her Kurt Kinetic Trainer as much as I do, a few indoor interval sessions are inevitable if I want to keep myself satisfied.  I don't make it a habit to sweat buckets on my livingroom floor too often in the summertime, but I like to get my Orbea back on the green machine every once in a while.

I rode in the Parc de la Mauricie on several occasions this year, a national park in the Mauricie region of Quebec that has pristine pavement, oodles of lakes and forests, and gentle rolling terrain.  It's a safe place, a fun place, and a beautiful place to ride.  In the winter I go on a weekly basis for cross country skiing.  I'm in no rush to getting my skis out yet though...

I've been introduced to Les Équerres in Québec City, a reputable loop that everyone who lives in the Capital region of Québec knows.  Now I do to, and I understand why it's so popular.  There are some nice climbs, (longer and steeper than in the Parc) and lots of options to turn off course and add in extra pitches or kilometers. 

When I need an easy spin I head to the South Shore of Québec, to Lévis and ride the bike path that follows the shore of the St. Lawrence River and offers an excellent view of Québec City.  It makes for a 2 hour ride, and when I'm lucky I meet someone to chat with about bikes while I pedal.

In Montréal the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a classic place to do intervals.  The circuit is easily accessible, and half of the road is closed to cars so the loop safe.  It gets busy at the end of the afternoon and on weekends, so it's important to be careful to avoid crashing into roller bladers or riders who are recovering from their last set of efforts, or those who are just out to ''chill''.

Sometimes in the fall when I want a worry free longer-ride, I choose the Petit Train du Nord, a bike path that goes all the way up to Mont Tremblant.  Even though long parts are in gravel, it is more than hard enough to be perfectly suitable for a road bike.  There is no traffic, not a lot of people to navigate around, places to stop and fill up bottles, and of course, it's nice to ride amongst the forests that line the path!

Camilien Houde on the Mont Royal is another classic, it's where the old women's World Cup race used to climb up, and now the men's World Tour races up the ascention in their September race.  Lots of riders like to do repeats on this climb.  When Montréal's public bicycle rental system (Bixi) came into effect in 2009, my first priority was to check out how well they could climb and I took one out to do repeats on the Mont Royal.  Whoever chose the gearing on those 3 speed urban cruisers was wise, they climb like a charm.  A year later I remembered my test and took the bike out to see the Pro Tour racers attack Camilien Houde, because my legs were toast from running up and down the hill.

There are a lot of cool places to ride and train in Québec, it's not tough to find one perfectly suited to my mood or training plan.  My next race is in Bend, OR (Cascade Cycling Classic) but for now I'm going to ride all over La Belle Province!