Mar 28, 2013

I Thought I was Going to Toss my Cookies

I thought I was going to toss my cookies.  I mean, shark.

I'm staying at my teammate Alexis' house between the San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic in Ventura CA.  I can train outside on my S-Works Amira this way (it's still snowy at home in Québec, I hear) and I save a back-and-forth trip to and from Québec.

Today Alexis took me down alongside the Pacific Coast so I could do my sprint intervals.  I jumped in her draft to recover between each effort.  It worked out perfectly.  Both of us had a double-day, meaning that we were to train in the morning and the evening.  Later on, Alexis would go motor pacing behind her dad's Harley, and I'd go to Santa Barbara Crit Practice.
Taking a quick break after intervals on the Pacific Coast.
In between workouts we had a nice afternoon at the marina in Ventura.  I learned about the Channel Islands and went in some touristy shops.  I always check to see if there's a mug or a keychain or a pen with LEX written on it, and I still haven't found one.  Yeah I know those things are tacky, but I still want to find one...just because.  Most importantly, we found a place down there that sells shark tacos.  I had my first fish taco a couple of weeks ago in Santa Barbara with Olivia Dillon, and it was delish.  Shark tacos sounded even better.  So I bought one.  I ate it. Verdict: shark is bland.
Marina in Ventura, California.
Katie, and another bike racer, Dillon, picked me up to drive to "Crit Practice" in Santa Barbara.  Crit Practice means: un-official criterium.  There's not really a winner and the finish line isn't clearly defined, but the guys who ride this puppy really crank out the watts like it counts.  And hey, it does count.

I love travelling to race and train, but there are a couple of things that I miss and one of them is driving my boat-of-a-car the way I like to.  Dillon was one efficient driver and navigated the highway lanes on the way to Santa Barbara the way I like it.  It was a real pleasure to be a passenger.  I'm not kidding.  So when I started to feel a little funny in my gut it wasn't because of him.  I was ready to blame that shark taco though.

The crit practice was fun.  It was hard.  My average power was pretty high for a short little kid like me.  It didn't "tickle" holding those numbers (that means it was somewhat uncomfortable).  Most of all because my lunch was acting up.  20 minutes in to the 60 minute practice-race, I thought I was going to toss my cookies.  I mean shark taco.  40 minutes in I was sure I was going to ralph all over the road, and when there were 5 laps left I was convinced it was game-on for a full-on puke fest. 

What do you know, I kept everything down. 

I like Santa Barbara crit practice.  Thanks to all of the friendly riders for letting me join in tonight, it was a nice experience and a quality training ride!  I'd love to come back some day. 

Mar 25, 2013

San Dimas Stage Race 2013

That's just my game face.  (Photo credit: Phil Keoghan)
San Dimas Stage Race: Three days of racing. 
In 2011 I won the title of Best Young Rider at this race, my first title on the American racing scene.  This year, NOW and Novartis for MS came back for some more success.  San Dimas is one of my favorite races, and the perfect event for the beginning part of the race season because it's not too long, and just tough enough...  It makes for an excellent lead-up to Redlands Bicycle Classic as well, the first event on the National Race Calendar (NRC).
A view of the hill-climb prologue road course.  Not too shabby! (Photo: Lex Albrecht)
Stage 1 Uphill prologue on Glendora Mountain Road.  A grind up just over 4 miles of twisty climbing roads and beautiful scenery. One of my favorite hill climbs all year.  I like the gradient, I like the distance, I like the scenery...I like lots of things about it.  I finished in the top-10 with a 7th place, and three of my NOW and Novartis for MS teammates rounded out the remaining places.  If there was a Team General Classification here, we would be rocking it at this point.  (Mara Abbott won this stage, with Amber Neben and Tayler Wiles not far behind.)
Sneaking up the side to score full QOM points on this lap of the SDSR race.  Photo credit: Phil Keoghan
Stage 2 Road Race.  8 laps of 7 miles with lots of turns, ups-and-downs, Queen of the Mountain points and Sprint points on alternating laps.  This is a fun course with a lot of turns, a few obstacles (park-entrance barriers, cones on the road, potholes, elevated manhole covers, narrowing roads, a fast chicane.)  The best part is the punchy 13% gradient hill that leads up to the Queen of the Mountain sprint line.

On the first lap there was a major crash where race leader Mara Abbott went down hard with a whack of other girls.  2nd place GC rider Amber Neben made the call to neutralize the race and wait for Mara to get back on to the peloton.  Taking advantage of a crash to win a race...just isn't cool.  Luckily once she got back in the pack, she didn't look too mangled.
First over the QOM line, and at the front of the pack going downhill.  Photo credit: Phil Keoghan
I felt good, and I managed to beat the rest of the peloton up to the top on 2 of the 3 QOM sprints.  I crossed the line in 3rd place on the other one.  My teammate Katie Donovan was on a solo-breakaway for 4 of the 8 laps, and Alexis Ryan scooped up oodles of intermediate sprint points.  Katie and Alexis were sitting 2nd and 3rd respectively in the sprint competition by the end of the day.  I had managed to lead the QOM competition, and secured the polka-dot jersey for NOW and Novartis for MS for the rest of the race.
Warming up on the Kinetic trainer, for the SDSR criterium.  Sporting the QOM polka dots.   (photo: K. Stockton)
Stage 3 Criterium in downtown San Dimas, with tons of spectators, and more intermediate sprint points to be won.  6 corners, none overly technical, but tight enough to make it fun and challenging course. 

I wasn't on my A-game for this stage.  Teammate Maura Kinsella was in several good moves, and Alexis Ryan scored extra sprint points but not enough to secure the jersey.  It was a fun race...on the bright side of things...but not one of NOW's finest.  Canadian Gillian Carleton won the stage.

Mara Abbott (Exergy-Twenty16) won the overall race, Tayler Wiles (Specialized-Lulu Lemon) was the Best Young Rider, Brianna Walle (Optum) the Best Sprinter, and I was proud to represent NOW and Novartis for MS in the Best Climber (Queen of the Mountains) polka dots. 

NOW and Novartis for MS kept 4 riders in the top 10.  I sat in 7th place overall.
Lex Albrecht (QOM), Mara Abbott (Leader), Tayler Wiles (BYR), Brianna Wale (Sprinter) (Photo: R. Heal)
After the race, I lost my In-N-Out Burger virginity (as we so eloquently put it), with my teammates Alexis and Katie.  This is how I like it: Protein Style, no cheese, no special sauce.  It's delicious.

I'll hang out and train with Alexis Ryan in California for 1.5 weeks before heading to the next race: REDLANDS BICYCLE CLASSIC in Redlands, CA.  And I'll make sure to go back to In-N-Out ;).

Mar 20, 2013

Leaving in The Snowstorm

We got hit with a big dumping of snow in Montréal, Québec in the past two days.  The entire province pretty much got their "fair share", or more than it, just in time for SPRING.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is what the first day of spring looks like this year in Montréal.  (Last year I should mention that on the same date it was almost 25 degrees celsius though.)
This, is part of the reason why it's so great that I love training indoors, especially at the PowerWatts facility in Montréal. options are a bit limited.

The other thing that is arriving just in time for such a wintery beginning to a new season, is my return to California for 3 weeks.  I've only been back "home" for one week since NOW and Novartis for MS' first stage race, and team camp.  But I fly out again to Los Angeles this morning.  In two days, I'll be racing the San Dimas Stage Race in San Dimas, CA for the third consecutive year.
What's in my carry-on backpack?  A book, my Travel Roller, a toothbrush and some earplugs.  Oh and my S-WORKS cycling shoes.  Just in case my checked bag doesn't make it.

Watch out balmy weather and clear roads, here I come.  Watch out San Dimas, NOW and NOVARTIS for MS wants to ROCK YOU! :)

Mar 14, 2013

De retour chez Power Watts

Depuis deux jours je suis de retour au Québec, après avoir passé 2 semaines en Californie.  J'y ai fait ma première course de la saison 2013 (Merco Cycling Classic) avec ma nouvelle équipe, NOW et Novartis for MS à Merced, CA.  Par la suite, nous nous sommes déplacées à Santa Barbara pour une dizaine de jours pour notre camp d'entraînement.
Ma nouvelle équipe (NOW and Novartis for MS) avec une de nos voitures : Ford C-Max hybride
Je passerai une semaine au Québec, pendant laquelle je partagerai mon temps entre Montréal et Québec.  Dépuis deux jours je m'entraîne de nouveau chez PowerWatts à Montréal. 

Mes co-équipières démeurent quasiment toutes dans des régions chaudes, où elles peuvent rouler dehors confortablement presque à l'année longue.  Elles ne comprennent pas à 100% comment on peut faire pour arriver en forme au début de la saison sans avoir accumulé beaucoup de mileage dehors.  C'est un des affaires que j'aime de PowerWatts; avec les entraînements que mon coach me donne, et le suivi qu'il fait sur ma forme, je réussis à faire une bonne quantité de travail de haute qualité.  Puis en plus, l'environnement est trippant.  S'il y avait des PowerWatts chez elles, elles comprenneraient mieux ;).

De retour chez PowerWatts Premier Studio à Montréal
Aujourd'hui mes doigts me fassent un peu mal, grace aux nombreuses prises d'échantillons sanguins que mon coach à fait afin de mésurer mon taux de lactate pendant mes efforts.  Mais, ça vaut la peine.  C'est trippant de voir les chiffres, et de comprendre ce qui se passe dans mon corps. 

Il ne me reste que quelques jours au Québec avant de retourner en Californie pour une autre 3 semaines.  Les deux prochaines courses : San Dimas Stage Race et Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Mar 10, 2013

Climbing Gibraltar!

NOW and Novartis for MS Women's Pro Cycling team climbs Gibraltar on one of the 2013 Team Training Camp days in the Santa Barbara, California area.  A great day for fitness, and riding together on our new Specialized S-WORKS Amira road bikes.

Team director, Kurt Stockton, followed in the Ford C-Max hybrid team car.  Check it out!

I love fish.

I'm at training camp with NOW and Novartis for MS Womens' Pro Cycling Team. 

My life has been changed forever.  Okay I'm kidding.  But I tried something new.  A few years ago my dad told me that I "needed" to try a fish taco in California.  I'd never heard of a fish taco before, and it sounded like a greasy, deep-fried  fast food item on a value menu to me.  Had he not suggested I try one, I probably would have just stuck with eating pickled herring out of a jar.  Mmm.  My favorite.
So after riding, we took the FORD C-Max Hybrid team car and drove out to State Street Santa Barbara, and found me a fish taco.  I had been putting it off for 3 years, and that was long enough.
 So what's the verdict?  Ah, they're alright.  But they sure do not come close to beating NordSee's pickled herring sandwiches.  I hope franchises start opening up on this side of The Pond ... SOON!

Mar 6, 2013

Team Training Camp

Check out a few of the things I did at the beginning of NOW and Novarts for MS Pro Cycling's training camp in Santa Barbara, CA!

Mar 4, 2013

Merco Cycling Classic 2013. Stages 2, 3, and 4

Stage 2: Time Trial
- The Merco Cycling Classic Time Trial was an out-and-back non-technical course.  I rode that puppy trusting my legs that they would do their stuff.  TT-ing has never been my specialty but I'm slowly but surely dialing my pacing techniques in.  I was satisfied to finish out the top-10 of the day, especially for a first time riding my new Specialized SHIV.  I think we're going to become really good friends this year.
My teammate Alison Powers just barely missed the first step of the podium and Robin Farina was in the top-10 as well.

First TT on my new Specialized SHIV.  Photo Copyright : Brian Hodes
Stage 3: Criterium
It was a race to forget.  You win some, you lose some.  We lost this one.  But we took it as a learning experience.  We missed the break, we didn't get organized early enough to reel it back, and we were disappointed.  Robin Farina scored an intermediate prime sprint and won some cash that will more than pay for the Team Juicer Machine.  On the bright side of things, I was happy to get a first criterium under my belt for this year.  After the race I tweaked my bike position a bit, and am ready to tackle the next crit.  This type of race used to be my favorite...and it will be up there on my list again.
Bad news though: I started getting hit by a really bad headcold.  I felt like I was hit by a truck after the race.  I stayed in bed all evening, watched a bit of NASCAR, and turned out the lights early.

Working together at the front of the mainfield in the criterium. Photo Copyright : Brian Hodes
Stage 4: Hilltop Road Race
A 130km race amongst Almond Groves.  I'd never seen almond trees before!  The white blossoms on the strong, stalky trees are beautiful! 
The race started out pretty slow in the first few kilometers, and we formed the intial break not long after.  It didn't last though.  There were attacks and counter attacks, and finally I got away with my teammate Beth Newell and Andrea Dvorak from EXERGY, fellow Canadian Annie Ewart from OPTUM, and Ally Stacher from SPECIALIZED-LULU LEMON bridged up to us a couple of seconds later.

We rode together well, getting over 3 minutes ahead of the main field.  Ewart and Stacher were instructed by their team directors to sit-on, and stop working with us.  I worked with my teammate Beth, and Dvorak.  Back in the main field, LULU and OPTUM were trying to bring us back.  When the gap was reduced to 1 minute, Stacher was "allowed" to work with us again.  She's a lot taller than me, and created a heck of a good draft.  I hear she makes some good bars too.  Anyway, we got caught eventually.  Attacks, covers, counterattacks...then my teammate Lauren Komanski escaped alone, and stayed away for quite some time. 

Beth got away with Alison Tetrick from EXERGY.  The duo caught up to Lauren who sat up to accept the help.  Eventually Beth and Alison took off from Lauren who we brought back into the peloton.   Despite Optum's efforts to bring them back, the two riders managed to stay away from the peloton, and BAM, BETH NEWELL WON!

Racing through the almond groves. -Photo Copyright: Tim Westmore

Good job! Alison Powers also remained in 2nd place in the overall general classification.

A fun first race for NOW and Novartis for MS Professional Cycling Team.  I wish I would have gotten to see Dr. Pob again though.  A very nice gentleman, who took some amazing pictures of all of the riders and who shared them with us, with a huge smile every time.  I hope to see Dr. Pob at Merco Cycling Classic next year. 

Now, we're in Santa Barbara until mid-March to train together.  Woot woot!  Now to kick this nasty, nasty cold.

Mar 1, 2013

Merco Cycling Classic '13 - Stage 1

Photo Credit : Brian Hodes
...that's me in with the arm warmers
Stage 1 at the Merco Cycling Classic : Alison Powers from NOW and Novartis fom MS is 3rd in the first stage of the Merco Cycling Classic, 1st in the points competition (she'll be wearing the green jersey!)

Maura Kinsella from NOW and Novartis for MS won the most passionate rider award today.

I should have taken my armwarmers all of the way off instead of racing around with them half-way rolled down for most of the race.  I have funny tanlines now.

This evening there was a supper put on by the race organisation.  Davis Phinney came and gave an excellent talk in front of everyone.  He not only spoke about the Davis Phinney Foundation that raises funds and awareness for Parkinson's disease (that he now lives with), but also
promoted women's cycling and donated an extra $2500 to our prizepurse! Like my teammate Robin Farina said : NOW that's support. Thanks Davis for your inspiring talk, excellent racing stories, and showing you back women's cycling.  It means a lot.

Stage two tomorrow: 19km time trial. Can't wait to try out my new Specialized SHIV time trial bike. I tweaked my position a little bit this some bibshorts and a cotton t-shirt.  You've got to be flexible in life.  

Today's results:
1. 463 WILES Tayler Team Specialized-lululemon 2.27'29"
2. 457 STEVENS Evelyn Specialized-lululemon 2.27'29"
3. 437 POWERS Alison NOW and Novartis for MS 2.27'44" 15"
4. 411 DVORAK Andera Exergy TWENTY16 2.29'14" 1'45"
5. 441 HALL Lauren Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 2.29'22" 1'53"
6. 443 WALLE Brianna Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 2.30'44" 3'15"
7. 442 KIRCHMANN Leah Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 2.30'44" ...
8. 436 NEWELL Elizabeth "Beth" NOW and Novartis for MS 2.30'44" ...
9. 464 KIESANOWSKI Joanne Team TIBCO 2.30'44" ...
10. 439 RYAN Alexis NOW and Novartis for MS 2.30'44" ...
11. 456 STACHER Ally Specialized-lululemon 2.30'44" ...
12. 408 OLIVEIRA Flavia DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.30'44" ...
13. 431 ALBRECHT Lex NOW and Novartis for MS 2.30'44" ...
14. 447 GRANT Emma Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 2.30'44" ...
15. 416 SANDERS Anna FCS/Zngine p/b Mr. Restore 2.30'44" ...
16. 459 DOEBEL-HICKOK Kristabel SPY GIANT RIDE 2.30'44" ...
17. 409 PERRY Anne DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.30'44" ...
18. 412 TAMAYO Lauren Exergy TWENTY16 2.30'44" ...
19. 450 THORNQUIST Amy Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 2.30'44" ...
20. 434 FARINA Robin NOW and Novartis for MS 2.30'44" ...
21. 458 TEUTENBERG Ina-Yoko Specialized-lululemon 2.30'44" ...
22. 414 ABBOTT Mara ExergyTWENTY16 2.30'44" ...
23. 446 GOMEZ Felicia Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 2.30'44" ...
24. 413 TETRICK Alison Exergy TWENTY16 2.30'44" ...
25. 440 GAFFNEY Amber Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 2.30'44" ...
26. 433 DONOVAN Kathryn NOW and Novartis for MS 2.30'44" ...
27. 438 RAUCK KOMANSKI Lauren NOW and Novartis for MS 2.34'51" 7'22"
28. 400 MCCULLOCH Joy CashCall Mortgage 2.34'51" ...
29. 407 NALDER Breanne DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.34'51" ... 20"
30. 466 MAROON Mary SB Racing 2.35'31" 8'02" 20"
31. 432 DILLON Olivia NOW and Novartis for MS 2.36'18" 8'49"
32. 417 MCGUIRE Amy FCS|Zngine powered by Mr. Restore 2.36'18" ...
33. 425 THURSTON Emily KENDA p/b RACC 2.37'32" 10'03"
34. 445 CLAFFERTY Sara Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 2.38'07" 10'38"
35. 420 TOWNSEND Sunshine Folsom Bike/Cervelo 2.38'07" ...
36. 444 EWART Annie Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies 2.38'07" ...
37. 415 BALBONI Rebecca ExergyTWENTY16 2.38'07" ...
38. 452 RIOS Jenny SC Velo/Incycle 2.38'07" ...
39. 418 MORGAN Claire Folsom Bike/Cervelo 2.38'07" ...
40. 460 LAROCHE Caitlin SPY GIANT RIDE 2.38'07" ...
41. 429 MUELLER Lisa Metromint Cycling 2.38'07" ...
42. 405 GIBSON Keri DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.38'07" ...
43. 435 KINSELLA Maura NOW and Novartis for MS 2.38'07" ...
44. 454 SIEGEL Becky SC Velo/Incycle 2.38'07" ...
45. 402 CIESLEWICZ Rachel DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.43'47" 16'18"
46. 465 BORELLI Rita Specialized 2.43'47" ...
47. 430 PREISLER Rikke Metromint Cycling 2.44'09" 16'40"
48. 422 MORGAN Josie Fremont Bank Cycling Team 2.44'09" ...
49. 451 ZIERKE Jennifer Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 2.44'09" ...
50. 455 BRECK Holly SC Velo/Incylce 2.44'09" ...
51. 449 SERR Rhonda Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 2.44'09" ...
52. 448 OLSON Juliette Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 2.44'09" ...
53. 426 MOKRES Lucia Los Gatos 2.44'09" ...
54. 421 PROKOPAKIS Kira Folsom Bike/Cervelo Women's Team 2.45'01" 17'32"
55. 461 AXELL Marissa Team Fremont Bank 2.47'51" 20'22"
56. 462 NIELSON Heather Team Fremont Bank 2.47'51" ...
57. 453 RODRIGUEZ Beatriz SC Velo/Incycle 2.48'55" 21'26"
58. 428 MAZZOCHETTE Eileen Metromint Cycling 2.55'23" 27'54"
59. 410 SCOTT Kaytie DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.55'23" ...
60. 406 HILL Megan DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.55'23" ...
61. 403 CLOWARD Megan DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.55'23" ...
62. 404 GARVIN Kemille DNA Cycling p/b Plan7 2.55'23" ...
63. 401 BELLIVEAU Adrienne 3.00'00" 32'31"