Monday, June 21, 2010

It was quite a TEST!

The Test of Metal! How to describe it???

As soon as I got to Squamish on Friday evening, we could feel the level of energy and excitement rising everywhere we went in town. I made my way to Brennan Park to pick up race plate and such and also met with friends to chat about the upcoming event! A lot of racers were coming and going some looking really serious, some with a large smile up on their face.

After a quick spin just to get the blood flowing in the legs and a thunderstorm later, it was time to make some last adjustments to the bike and get the hydration plan ready for the big event!

At 9:00 am, the cars were already lining up around Brennan Park. There was A LOT of people! It was great to pedal along that one paved road and chat away with friends, fellow racers as getting warmed up. Then, came time to line up the bike for the start. It was something to try to get around and position it for a good start… quite the challenge with close to 800 riders trying to do the same. The energy was really high and the atmosphere was like nothing I have experienced before…

After the national anthem, and the pipe bags, we were on our way for 67 kms of pure fun! The racecourse took us through the subdivisions of the Garibaldi Highlands just to spread out the pack as much as possible before entering the double and single tracks. I was told to get a good start and hammer as hard as possible for that first little while which I did and it worked out very well (Thx Ian!). It was amazing to see how the community of Squamish responded to the event as people were out with cowbells cheering and some also had the hoses out to cool down racers already sweating! What a rush!The race went all the way to Alice Lake provincial park from the Highlands, then took us to Roller Coaster, a nice twisty trail and then to Rock and Roll where a lot of the spectator gathered at the last impressive pitch to see the riders zoom by.

We then crossed over and down the Diamond Head to pass by the Power Plunge Feeding Zone were lots of friends gathered to cheer and feed racers. This was a great boost for what was coming up… the 9 miles hill. Personally, I pre-rode everything but… and I did not really know what I was getting into. I was wondering why people were slowing down that much. Things were going well on my side looking for shade wherever possible, hydrating along the way, having a time but I was far from knowing that the hill is really 9 miles in length and becomes steeper as you go. Fortunately, I did not bunk but I was really glad to get to the top! It was really rewarding since we then buzzed down the “Ring Creek Rip” a fast and refreshing single track (refreshing for the legs anyway…), then to the Power House Plunge, which is a bit more technical. It was a bit greasy from the rain on Friday night… nevertheless, it was challenging at this point in the course to keep a good focus and good balance. Then back through the Power House Feeding station where friends were waiting again with large smiles and nothing but amazing energy to give to racers! We were not done quite yet, a bit more climbing and some great single track with roost and rocks took us back to the pavement for a small section then through the Bluffs and back to Brennan Park! I crossed the finish Line with a big smile up on my face, with no mechanical issues, no cramping and no bunking. Since I was aiming for 3:30 and finished in 3:22 I was really happy (1st in my category and 8th overall women). Congratulations to Michael Robinson who also finished 1st in his category and had an amazing race. Congrats to Cros, Jed, Mike and all the great friends who also did the test! Thank you very much to Rose and Kevin for feeding us all and for cheering! Full Results and pictures at:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Iron Lung in beautiful Canmore

This weekend was Back-to-Back mountain biking event at the Nordic Center in Canmore. Both events were put together by one of the largest cycling team in the Bow Valley; Cyclemeisters. The event brought together many other race teams from Alberta for a total of 300 riders. Saturday was the XC race event with Sports, Novice, Elite and Expert Categories. This race was part of the Alberta Cup Series. Sunday was the Organ Grinder 5 hours enduro race. I only enter the Saturday race since there is a big event coming next weekend…I am so excited already… but more about this race first!

It’s always such a treat to go to Banff/ Canmore. Friday, as pre-riding the course, which was a bit soft not to say greasy, it was really hard for me to focus on the single track ahead. The mountains around the Nordic Centre and to view from across the valley were simply amazing. It’s funny how we often forget how lucky we are to live in such a gorgeous set up. I completed a few laps of the course with a local as the sun was setting on the strong and impressive rocky peaks.

Saturday, race day, each category had a different start time and of course, they kept the experts and elites last. We gathered at the start in the heat of the day (2:30pm) and it was hot!!! The Elite mans started with over 20 racers. Two minutes later, the expert mans were next with over 40 really competitive racers. Then the elite and expert woman followed. The laps were about 6 kilometers in length with a mix of double tracks, single tracks, steep ascents, a few technical sections in the descents… for the people who biked at the Nordic Center before, how fun is the Devonian Drop!!!! It’s just a bunch of dirt jumps and berms followed by a few sharp turns in a steep bank…loads of fun… and of course that’s where most of the spectators were so it was a bit of a no fall zone. They also had the racers go through a pretty good drop just before entering the stadium at the cross over point…another place where you definitively did not want to hit the ground! In all, it was a really fun 20 kms race. With such a short distance, it’s like a sprint for runners, no room for recovery… It was my first time doing a provincial race and I’ve never raced in Alberta before so it was all new to me. I have to say I was a bit intimidated by the head to toe sponsored racers lining up right next to me. But in the end, we were all there with the same goal in mind, … well maybe not but mine was to do my best, push the limits, have an amazing time and give it all and so I did! We all started the first climb really fast and then the pack started to spread out. 2 Girls took the lead but I managed to keep them close enough that I was able to pass then both on the descent and away I went. I kept the momentum all the way to the finish line knowing that a really experience rider was just at my tail. This was a great experience for sure and so much fun to ride somewhere different with different a crowd. Congrats to Marty who did his first race in a while and ranked 11th in Sport Category. Congrats to Don as well, great work with a 20th place in the most competitive category. Don also did great at a XC race in Merritt last weekend, coming in 3rd place. God I wish I could be that fast!

This was a leg warm up also for a totally different type of race going on next weekend in Squamish: Test of Metal, 67kms XC race. I have been looking forward to riding this event for at least 3 years so this should be a lot of fun!

Thank you very much to Skookum’s Steve and Adam who gave some well-deserved love to my light blue beast just a few days before the race. It made a great difference. Pictures of the race to come soon!

Full race results at: