Nov 29, 2013

End of 2 Weeks at Track Camp with Team Canada

"Okay Lex, now touch the black line.  BLACK line.  BLACK LINE, Lex."  That was my first lap around the track as I rode on the flat apron, the evening that I arrived in LA.  Everyone else had flown in earlier, and were done for they day.  Rob Good (from the Forest City Vélodrome) coached me to ride up high in the bankings, one step at a time.  He's good at that one-step-at-a-time thing.

By day two, I was sitting on the back of the team (rode behind them) doing pursuit efforts.  And day three I was IN there doing the pursuit.  Then, I learned to do a standing start and flying laps.  Day four: heck, why not, my first ever track race: the team pursuit.  (It's a 16-lap or 4 km 4-person team time trial on the track).
Waiting for our start at the Los Angeles Grand Prix UCI track race.  We raced the team pursuit.
By week two I didn't get all panicky every time I started off on the track.  That was a welcome change.  Well earned too.

As the days went on we gradually hit higher and higher speeds for our 16 lap team pursuit.  The coaches tracked our pace on each lap, and I got used to their system of communicating the information with us.  If we were 1/10s slower than our target lap time, they would stand one step in front of the start line as we passed. - PICK IT UP! - If we were 7/10s faster than our target, they would stand 7 paces behind the start line. - STEADY - With 1 lap to go, the bell would ring, and we'd drill it to the finish.
By the end of the project, it felt like we were nailing our pursuit more often than not.  Super feeling. 
America's Only World Class Indoor Velodrome, Los Angeles, Velodrome, Track Cycling
I had a great time during this project, and gained some really valuable experience.   Thank you to everyone who helped get me to L.A..  I would like to be back on the track again soon.

The track is for everyone.  You don't even have to consider yourself a cyclist to give it a whirl.  Most places rent bikes and have intro sessions.  Forget going out to a restaurant, the movies, or BOWLING.  Go try the track. 
London, Ontario - Forest City Vélodrome
Burnaby, British Colombia - Burnaby Vélodrome
Los Angeles, California - Velo Sports Center LAVRA

Nov 21, 2013

Hotel Laundry Room

I have a special sense called Gym-Radar.  I developed it while I was in highschool.  It means I can sense where the nearest gym is in the area.  I'm kind of kidding, but kind of not. I found a gym hours after arriving at the hotel I'm living at in Los Angeles (during the Canadian National Team's track camp).
I ride my bike there every morning.  But it was pouring I readjusted my strategy.  I took over the hotel laundry room.  Perfect!  There was a even a table to use with my Travel Roller so I could get right into some hard-to-reach spots that I can't get at easily on the floor.  When I needed a mirror, I looked at my reflection in the vending machine
Morning myofascial release in the hotel laundry room.
Good thing nobody had to do their laundry this morning.

Nov 18, 2013

Quad Size - Not as Simple as I Thought.

I'm in LA with Cycling Canada.  My California-based NOW and Novartis for MS teammate, Beth Newell is also here at the track. 

Beth likes to talk about quad size.  She's actually an expert on it (she was quoted in the New York Times on the subject).  So, I like to listen to her quad talk, the girl knows what she's speaking about.  Beth said I needed to get my quads measured.  As she pulled out the measuring tape, I asked her how she knew where to measure the circumference from.  She said : "the biggest part!" as if it was obvious.  I'm new to this track thing though. 

I am now aware of the official quad measuring procedure. You might want to consult it for yourself.

My magic number: 48.5.  That's centimeters by the way.  We're in America.  I don't know why quad-size is measured in cm.  (Oh wait, there is a reason.  Read it HERE).  Beth says that my quads are going to get bigger while I'm at the track in LA.  We'll measure again in 2 weeks and see where I'm at. 
Beth Newell. US Track Cycling Champion. And, my NOW and Novartis for MS teammate.
I secretly hope that they don't get too much bigger... I don't want to have to replace all of my jeans.  Don't tell Beth.

Nov 16, 2013

One last day in Montréal

This is what I did on my last day in Montréal, before heading to L.A. with the Canadian National Cycling team to participate in their track program:

- I pulled the best shot of espresso that I had pulled all week.
Lex Albrecht, pro cycling, coffeeshop ride, espresso, Breville espresso
- I smashed a bottle of fast-drying orange nailpolish on the floor.  With a lot of elbow grease (I guess my elbows are greasier than I thought), I cleaned it up.  The only trace was the stench of solvent lingering in the apartment...

- I brought my track bike to PowerWatts to spin on the rollers.  I wanted to test my set-up that has been tweaked a few times in the past weeks one last time.  (I wanted to make sure the shifting was smooth and the brakes weren't rubbing know?)  Everything : A-ok

- I stopped by Martin Rooseboom's bike shop on Hochelaga, again, to pick up some spare gears.  Martin has helped me a lot this season, and especially with gearing up for the track.  Thanks.
Martin Rooseboom, bike, specialized, hochelaga
Martin working on my road bike this summer. 
- I packed two bikes in one box, and made my final selection of nailpolish colours to bring to LA.

- I went for a motorcycle ride, and stopped at Crudessence, bought a 1L bottle of RISE kombucha, and drank it cowboy-style, right in the restaurant. Delicious.  Life is good


Nov 13, 2013

Living in Montréal : Bixis and Espresso

In 2013, as a new Montréaler, I made some good decisions. During the race season, I'm on the road very often, all over North America.  I finished the season in Europe with the World Championships in Italy.  When I was home in Montréal though, two of these decisions really paid off!
Lex Albrecht : Montréal Canada Photo copyright : Nicolas Paquet

I chose to buy a Bixi membership. RIGHT CHOICE. 

My car is not always ideal in the city.  And, as a cyclist I need an easy way to get around after my hard training rides.  Maximizing recovering each day is essential to be able to put the most into the next training session.  The Bixi seemed to do the trick for me, as long as I kept the cadence low ;).  

2014 memberships for the public bike sharing service in Montréal are on sale now, and this is why I am buying one again next year: 
  1. I'm not left with a bike to store through the winter
  2. I saved a whack of money on fuel and parking 
  3. I avoided hours of wasted time in traffic (no exaggeration!)
  4. I had extra freedom : Park a Bixi, walk a little while, and take a new one at a different location.
  5. The gearing is perfect, and the geometry is comfortable. The Bixi is pretty suitable for post-HARD training.  It doesn't demand a lot of effort.

I Became a Holder of The Indie Coffee Passport
Specialized S-Works Amira, Lex Albrecht, Professional Cyclist, Coffeeshop ride, Indie Coffee passport, Montreal, Espresso, Third wave espresso, professional cycling
Spy sunglasses, blue coffeecup, third wave espresso, recovery ride, cycling, coffeeshop, montreal quebecAn ex co-worker (pre-pro cycling life) told me about the Indie Coffee Passport.  I couldn't believe my ears. But it was true.  For $22, holders can try a coffee (I chose espresso) at 18 different independent and mostly Third-Wave coffee shops around Montréal.

This was a great way to discover some excellent coffee shops where I'm almost a regular now (espressos aren't cheap, so I supplement my coffee shop visits with home-pulled shots from my entry level machine, & small mugs of instant decaf coffee).

lapresse newspaper, journal lapresse, indie coffee passport montreal, black espresso cup, thridwave espresso, lex albrecht, professional cyclist, womens cycling, champion of quebecMost importantly: this gave me a destination for my coffe-shop rides.  There's nothing like spinning around enjoying the city at a slow pace, while scouting out a new coffeeshop address.  Then BAM, at 45 minutes into the ride : ESPRESSO.  Most of the times, it was delicious.  Sometimes, off-the-wall delicious.

I'll be participating in this again during 2014 too!

Nov 6, 2013

THIS was #inthebox !

#whatisinthebox answer: Louis Garneau 721 Course Snowshoes. THE BEST snowshoe I have ever tried!
In the winter, it's no secret that I spend hours every week at PowerWatts Premier Studio in Montréal, it's a great place train.  I compliment my training on the bike by getting outside to PLAY.  Nothing can replace fresh air and sunshine...

I cross-country ski.  I used to snowboard too, but that had to be wiped off of my list of activities after I whacked my head one-too-many times.  (I don't miss it.)  So, I added another activity to the menu : SNOWSHOEING - off-trail, and uphill.

In 2012 I was lucky enough to try a prototype of Louis Garneau's revolutionary Course 721 snowshoes.  It's 2013, and they're on the market now.  I wanted a pair of my own, "real bad".
That BOA dial...can be twisted with GLOVES on.  Ohhh yehhhhh!
WHY I "NEED" THEM:  Snowshoing is a super off-season crosstraining.  It's low impact, a great endurance workout, uses a lot of the same muscles solicited in cycling ... and it's a lot of fun.  I can go snowshoeing with any of my friends, even my Mom.  She's awesome, by the way.

Louis Garneau Limited Edition 721 Course snowshoe
WHY I WANT THESE : Because they're the best snowshoes out there! The LG Course 721 Snowshoes are super light : only 1.75lbs.  The exclusive BOA closure-system is a first in the industry.  The BOA bindings stay tight and are easy to micro-adjust.  Plus I don't have to take off my gloves to change the tension...

The snow hasn't started to fall in Montréal yet, but when it does, I'll be prepared with the best snowshoes that I have ever seen in my LIFE.  Who wants to come snowshoeing?

Nov 5, 2013


Purolator box, cardboard box, special delivery, #whatisinthebox, getting ready for winter, winter in Montreal
 I live in Montréal. The winters can be harsh, especially for a cyclist.  And, I love it like that.  The trick is being well prepared.   I got a special delivery yesterday with something that's going to be mighty useful for me this winter.  We're playing #whatisinthebox on Twitter.  Join in, and take a guess at what you think is in the box!

So far, nobody has guessed correctly!  (You can check out some of the answers that I retweeted).  Here's a clue to help you out:
Come on guys, I know that somebody can figure it out!

Nov 4, 2013

High Five at the World Championships

Even when...
         there aren't any more "matches left to burn",
        when there is no more "fuel in the legs"
         and when it feels like every last effort has been "laid out on the road"
 ... it's amazing what wringing out a wee bit of force for a HIGH-FIVE can do!
Lex Albrecht, women's pro cycling, UCI, World Cycling Championships 2013, Florence Italy, Specialized Bikes, High Five
I had a few sparks left to give this fan a high-five at the World Championships when I thought my legs were about to fall off.  His cheering and spirit definitely gave me some extra sunshine to an already amazing day.

Representing Canada for a second time at the World Championships was an honour, a extraordinary experience, and a feat that I'll be endeavouring to attack again next year.

Thanks to everyone who cheered me on in Italy, and from afar.  You're all SUPERSTARS!