Aug 27, 2014

Champion of Québec

Two days after returning from a 1.5month training and racing block in Western USA, I am so happy to have defended my Champion of Québec (time trial, and road) titles at home in Québec.  I was up against great competition.  It felt good to bring home the titles after a scary and difficult mid-summer Bump in the Road (this is what happened).

2014 Québec Championships - Time trial podium. (1. Lex Albrecht -TWENTY16, 2, Alizée Brien - TIBCO, 3. Catherine Desserault - SAS Magocep).  Photo : Antoine Bécotte
The time trial course was an 18km race with some significant hills.  Before the race I questioned myself on how I should distribute my effort on this atypical sort of course.  My Quarq powermeter was a useful tool to help determine when I was going hard enough, and when it was time to ease up and save some energy.
Warming up for a time trial with E-Motion Rollers, one of my favourite training tools.  I always bring them in my car when I drive to races, and I train with them almost every day in the off-season.  They're a lot different than regular rollers!

Québec Championships time trial. Lex Albrecht and Felt DA2 with Zipp wheels.  Photo : Antoine Bécotte.
The road race course was also challenging, as it offered long climbs, and steep pitches throughout.  By the first 1/3 of the race, we had already created a selection of 8 riders.  Things were going well.  Coming into 2/3 of the race, I knew there was a good climb that would be difficult for other riders if the pace was high enough.  Some couldn't hang on, and we whittled the selection down again.  In the final quarter I recognized one more climb that I knew was to my advantage, and drilled it.  Kirsti Giroux (SAS Magocep) and Dafné Théroux Izquierdo (Espoirs Quilicot TRJ Télécom) were the only two who followed.  In the last 15km the three of us worked together to stay away, and tested eachother at certain points.  Coming into the finish in Amqui, Québec, Kirsti launched her sprint but I waited patiently in her draft, jumping off of her wheel when I knew it was the right moment.
Québec Cycling Championships - Final sprint.  (Photo : Antoine Bécotte)

2014 Québec Championships (road race podium) 1. Lex Albrecht, 2. Kirsti Giroux, 3. Catherine Desserault.  Photo: Antoine Bécotte
Congratulations to Alizée Brien, Kirsti Giroux, and Catherine Desserault who also brought home medals from the Championship races.  

Next stop : Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont.  I'll be heading there to represent TWENTY16 Pro Cycling on my own, to enjoy some good hard racing, which will hopefully translate into some great preparation for the final part of the season...

Ride safe, ride hard, have fun!

- 2014 Road Cycling
- 2014 Time Trial
- 2013 Road Cycling
- 2013 Time Trial
- 2012 Road Cycling
- 2010 Criterium
- 2010 Team Time Trial

Aug 11, 2014

Sneaky USAC

It's no secret that I like to start my day with a nice cup of coffee.  At home I pull myself a shot of espresso.  On the road, I like a good cup of drip coffee.

Another fact that those close to me know is : I despise washing dishes.  The dishwasher is on my list of favourite appliances, next to the microwave and washing machine for clothes.

Since I didn't run the dishwasher last night before going to bed the mug that I've grown attached to here in Tahoe was dirty.  I grabbed a navy blue one from the cupboard that would suffice for today, filled it, and sat down with a book on how longitude was discovered.  It's a good read.

I looked up from the pages to take a swig of the java, from the white mug with cyclists decked out in the Stars and Stripes.  Hm. Cool mug.  I went back to reading
I was ready for my oatmeal (that's how the morning routine works).  I got up and cooked it, in the microwave (a few feet from the trusty dishwasher).  I sat back down to the book and drank from the navy blue mug.  Wait... didn't I just have a white American cyclist mug?  I've got two mugs going.  Great news! Double the coffee.  Where's the other one?
I throw an egg and banana into my oatmeal sometimes, to make for better sustenance.
My book was too good. I couldn't be bothered to find the missing cup, it would show up later.  I refilled the blue mug to warm the coffee that was too cold.  Suddenly something remarkable happened.  Before my eyes, that darn blue mug turned white, and American cyclists appeared all over it.  A colour changing mug, who would have known!
I love the US, and my American friends, and teammates, but I am a very patriotic girl and will always remain true to my Canadian roots...I'm not sure I would have chosen the American mug because I'm pretty sure there was a crimson one sitting in that cupboard...  Sneaky USAC (Pronounced You-Sack, for USA Cycling), and their schemes to get Canadians to drink from their mugs ;).

Aug 8, 2014

Mid-Summer Racing and Training in California

Lex on the attack.  The San Rafael Twilight Criterium race started with 85 riders, and TWENTY16 made it so hard that 35 could finish ... Photo Credit : Garrett Lau
I've been on the road since early June, leaving Montreal to travel to Boise ID to cheer my teammates on as they raced and I recovered from being under the weather. We hit the road for Bend OR, to race the Cascade Cycling Classic. I ate my first and last Red Robin burger after that race. Never again. Then, my teammates and I trekked to Marin County, CA to race the San Rafael Twilight Criterium, where they blasted Notorious B.I.G.'s Hypnotize over the loudspeakers as they called me up to the line. With a welcome like that, I had to stick around longer.
Photo Credit : Garrett Lau
Marin County, on the opposite side of the Full House Bridge (the Golden Gate Bridge) relative to San Francisco California, is one of the world's road cycling paradises. As I sat outside of a grocery store one late afternoon, downing a bottle of ginger kombucha, I thought about how out of place I might feel in that particular instant had I not been a cyclist. Everybody either looks like a cyclist, is pedalling their bike at a given moment, or is cruising around with a bike rack hitched to their car.
Easy-day spin. Riding across the Full House Bridge with my teammate Allie Dragoo.  Because.  It's cool to be tourists.
And why shouldn't it be that way. Like I said, Marin County is a cycling paradise. The twisting roads offer ample climbing, and a good deal of spectacular views. Leaving the quaint town of Fairfax with its fair share of coffeeshops to climb up Mount Tam through the shady, humid forest of Redwood trees, across Seven Sisters' rolling golden hills (not yellow, golden, as I was corrected) that tower over a thick blanket of misty fog that often covers the Pacific Ocean at that area, before descending down the fast, curvy road to Stinson Beach, was one of my favourite rides. On Wednesday morning a large group of very fast, competent, and just-competitive-enough-for-a-group-ride road enthusiasts gathered to “drill it” for nearly 2 hours. It was a great training ride and a nice way to do some socializing. Two birds with one stone, you've got to love it. I was thankful they let me tag along.
The Golden hills of Seven Sisters, with the Pacific Ocean laying way down below, blanketed with a thick mist!
During my stay, I got pulled over by a cop for rolling through a few intersections in Ross, CA without stopping “enough” to his taste (I thought every state would adopt the Idaho Stop?), saw a few deer and wild turkeys, chatted with a Maserati dealer, drank enough kombucha at the grocery store patio that they were probably wondering when I was going to move in, and got motorpaced up a climb by Barry Bonds. I had to ease up because my Quarq Powermeter was telling me I was pushing more watts than what my coach wanted me to do. He's the boss, since he's pretty much always right.

Oh deer.  I saw this one in somebody's yard as I walked home from drinking a fresh kombucha on the grocery store patio.
Ross, CA is a good place to have an espresso...but if you're riding through, don't go skimpy on your stopping!  The cops are on the lookout ;)
Always looking to have fun, and ride hard!
And if that wasn't enough, instead of going home to Montreal right away, I hit the road to Tahoe, to explore some more new roads for a few weeks. I feel like I'm in a retreat. I have no cell access, have to pirate a wifi signal a few blocks away if I want to connect, and there's no TV to watch (my last resort for electronic entertainment). So between long hard rides, I've been reading (I'm on book #3), trying out new ride-food recipes, religiously taking an afternoon nap, and never neglecting my stretching and “foam rolling” with my Travel Roller. It's the perfect training environment ... and I haven't even told you about the awesome roads ... ;)!
Truckee River, Tahoe California.
The first view I have every morning when I roll out on my Felt road bike, ready to train hard on the roads of Tahoe.
I love riding my bike.  I matched my Modify Watches with the colour of the sky today ;)