Feb 22, 2013

Lance Armstrong: Lance Isn't CYCLING.

Read Gene Pereira's article in the Feb. 22 2013 edition of the Barrie Examiner (online HERE ) to find out what Lex Albrecht has to say about the whole Armstrong affair. 

Feb 18, 2013

Experts at Training Camp

I just finished up with Canada's National Team spring training camp in South Carolina.  The weather was chillier than expected but whatever, I came prepared with a whack of clothes.  After a few years of trial-and-error, I'm getting good at this packing for bike trip deal.  Minimal casual clothes and one piece of clothing for every type of riding weather, good strong embrocation cream and you're (pretty much) set.

We had a lot of great resources to make this trip one of the most quality camps ever.

1. Trionne Moore, holistic nutritionist came from Toronto and stayed a few days to cook up some amazing recipes.  They were not only healthy and delicious, but EASY to make.  I like to ride my bike and need to stay strong and healthy to do it.  But I don't like cooking.  Trionne gave us some good ways to deal with this issue.
Trionne taught us new recipes and was a great inspiration to experiment with our own creations
2. Craig DeVeer, a super soigneur based out of Ottawa, Ontario took great care of us during camp.  I worked with Craig for the first time at the World Championships in 2012 in the Netherlands.  I was happy that he noticed the improvements that I made since then with my new Travel Roller.  I'm a lot less stiff! Thanks for noticing ;)
Myofascial release with my TravelRoller: I LOVE IT
3. Shawn Marshall was our mechanic and worked his magic fixing technical issues, and was also a great wheel to follow going down the twisty descents in South Carolina.  Shawn has a lot of riding and bike mechanics experience.  We used to work together at Bikeland, Barrie (Ontario, Canada) Barrie's coolest bike shop.  He now owns Velolab Cycle Works in Dartmouth (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Shawn getting the final touches taken care of on the bikes
4. Denise Kelly, Canada's women's National Team coach brought in a professional yoga instructor to lead us though some really beneficial stretching sessions 3 times through the camp.  The instructor was excellent.  In my books, yoga is for stretching and getting all "zen".  There wasn't any draining upper-body strength stuff, no frustratingly impossible poses, and she was hardly fazed when she sliced her hand open on some stray glass during one of the sessions.  10 points. Awesome.
Ready for yoga!
5. Jenny Trew, a previous teammate of mine who has become a coach, was an excellent part of the camp as well.  Jenny shared some "life lessons" with us girls, led an excellent sprint session (her expertise) and had plenty of feedback on and off the bike to help everyone improve.  Thanks for shuttling us back and forth from the grocery store too JT, it was great to be out on the road together again after 2 years!

Feb 11, 2013

What Else is Training Camp for?

Denise Kelly, National Team Women's Road Coach (Cycling Canada), asked the athletes in South Carolina what they learn at training camp.  Training camp is for a lot of different things like racking up volume and accumulating fitness before the race season starts.  Everyone knows that. But this another way I like to see it:

I'm a big fan of Toastmasters.  I was a member of St. Lawrence Toastmaster's Club in Montréal.  It's the place to practice public speaking.  You can try new things, mess up, and make a bit of a fool of yourself in front of everyone, and it's 100% okay. You're not presenting to your boss or a potential client.  You have nothing to lose if you choke-up or stutter, just a heck of a lot to gain.
Marie Paule Gagnon welcoming Lex as a new member of Toastmasters a few years ago (http://www.toastmastersmontreal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/lex-albrecht.jpg)
Training camp is very similar.

It isn't a championship race, you're not defending a teammate's jersey, and you don't have any UCI points on the line.  There is no podium and no results sheet. Training camp is the place to try out new things.  Pushing yourself a little hard, testing different climbing and pacing techniques, cornering, descending, working on team time trialing, lead-outs... and if something doesn't work, it's 100% okay.  Just like at Toastmasters.

It's also an ideal opportunity to benefit from the strengths and experiences of the other riders, and use their feedback to improve.  Just like fellow Toastmasters constructively evaluate eachothers' presentations, riders can offer other athletes the same type of valuable tips.

You often have to fail about a zillion times before you succeed.  Training camp is a great opportunity to trip up a little bit.  You can figure out what works and what doesn't, so that you'll be ready when it counts most.

Feb 10, 2013

Did I Just I Fall in Love With a Stem?

I had my white Specialized S-Works Amira training bike shipped to South Carolina where I'm at a training camp with the Canadian Cycling team.  The way the Amira was packed meant that I had to install the handlebars onto the stem of the bike.  (The stem connects the handlebars to the steerer tube of the fork)  I unscrewed all of the stem's bolts to release the clamp...but I still couldn't get the clamp open, and at first I thought this was a bad thing.

I reefed a little bit on the mysterious carbon fibre clip that was holding the clamp onto the stem, and it came loose - PHEWF.  I put my bars on the stem, and replaced the clamp and that mysterious clip.  That's when it all became clear.

That mysterious clip is an ingenious Specialized invention that holds the bars in place, leaving both hands free to align and dial in the bolts that secure the whole contraption!
 I've juggled with bars and stems so many times before and it's not a big issue, but it's not a pleasant activity either.  The Specialized stem with it's innovative carbon fibre clip made my job of putting my bike together that much more easy this morning.  What a COOL idea.

Feb 7, 2013

500% Inflation on the Price of Wishes.

In Canada this week, the cost of wishes rose by 500%.  I won't pretend to be an expert in economy.  I studied medical biology in university, worked in a lab, and race bikes.  But I scored an "A" in the sole economy class that I took to compliment my degree.  So I can at least make an educated guess that it's a good thing that we don't interpret the rate of inflation based soley on  the price of wishes...

I'm on a tight budget, so I came up with a couple of ways to get around the enormous price increase.  USA isn't far away and I spend a lot of time there.  Wishes still cost the same in America, and waiting to cross the border to make a wish is a feasable solution.  Another option is to stockpile now-outdated Canadian wishing currency for its original value while we still can.  And hopefully, the currency will remain functional for its purpose: wish making.

On February 4, 2013, the penny was officially eliminated from Canadian currency.  Wishes now have to be paid for in nickels in shopping mall fountains, goldfish ponds, sparkly streams, and wishing wells. 

Your grandkids, who will be used to casting 5-cents coins will be baffled by the idea that wishes once only cost 1 cent...

Feb 4, 2013

Blind Watts

Every other week I do a training block at PowerWatts' Premier Studio in Montréal Québec.  Those weeks, are my favorite ones.

This is one of those weeks.

Today part of my workout was a blind prologue effort.   A prologue is a very short time-trial that is often the first event of a multiple day stage race.  Blind means that I wasn't allowed to look at my power data.  In other words, how hard my Quarq powermeter said I was pushing.

The goal was to pace myself over 6 minutes at the correct power output.  All that I had to go by was the feeling in my legs though.  This is how the game worked: I could check my average power output after the first 2 minutes of the effort, and if at that point I hadn't hit the proper numbers, I would have to start over.

Two minutes into the first attempt I was 8% over my target power.  I was pushing too hard.  I had to start over.  The second attempt, I over-corrected myself and had pushed 14% LOWER than my target power.  I had to start over.  The third attempt, I was bang on, and pushed through the final 4 minutes.  And when I tried for a fourth time I was in the correct zone too.

This part of today's work out was a cool exercise for me to get better at understanding what it feels like to push a certain number of watts.

The rollers I chose to do my training on today at Power Watts' Premier Studio
The area of the Power Watts Premier Studio where I recovered with my Travel Roller after grabbing a quick bite