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Friday, July 11, 2014

Two Cups of Canada

After last weekend's race the 2014 Canada Cup series is now 2/3 done.  The series kicked off at the end of May in Mt Tremblant, QC.  I always enjoy a visit out east as it gives me a chance to say hi to my supporters at OGC and experience a little of what eastern Canada has to offer.  The course at Tremblant is known for being very consistent from year to year and this year proved no different.  There were very few changes on the course which, in the end, I was thankful for.  Practice brought with it a lot of rain and many challenges.  I was very grateful for Marty and Etienne from OGC who were there helping the team out all weekend!

Sheldon, Etienne and B working on bike set up
So muddy and still so happy
B coming into the slick rock section, me following him
Riding down some slippery rocks and roots
I ended up getting very few practice runs in and went to bed Saturday night wondering if I was even going to be able to race Sunday.  A crash in practice on the infamous "slick rock" had landed me thumbs first on a wooden bridge and I couldn't zip up my jacket let alone hold onto my bars.  Thanks to some good essential oils, the max dose of anti inflammatories and a lot of determination I somehow managed to make it down the course in my race run on Sunday.  My hands blew off my bars a couple of times so it wasn't a clean run but in the end I was just happy I was able to race!  As a bonus I came in second place, and as a double bonus Bryden also came in second!  A pretty sweet way to end a challenging weekend.

The Team! Sheldon, myself and Mr. B

The extended team :)
Pro Women's Podium
Pro Men's Podium
A couple of second placers!
After that it was recovery time.  I took some time off the bike to let my thumbs heal and luckily had a month before my next race… which was last weekend: Canada Cup #2 in Panorama BC.  The exact opposite of Tremblant in terms of weather - dry, dusty, and hot.  Aaaaaahhh I love the sun. It was a fast and loose course that got more and more fun and more and more blown out as the weekend progressed.   This was our first race with our new team mechanic Nathan and he had his work cut out for him!  Not only did he take care of my bike, Bryden's bike and Sheldon's bike, he also helped out several other racers in his "down time", smiling all the while.  Lucky us to have such an amazing set up - thanks to OGC for making that happen!!  

Nathan working hard to keep us rolling
Course walk - with an amazing view
One of the two super steep sections
Steep and loose...
My race run was decent.  I had some close calls but kept it together in the top half of the course and then, right at the start of the uphill pedal, I snagged a tree with my handle bar and got knocked off my bike.  I guess I'm not as good at that uphill stuff. ;)  I pinned it to the bottom and managed to come away with a win and even take home the leader's jersey!  My 951 Evo is having a great season so far, and I also have to say I'm loving my new Troy Lee Design's kit! Super lightweight and comfortable - good job on that TLD!

Race run shot
Now for another hot dusty weekend - National Championships this weekend in Sun Peaks!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Intense 951 Evo: Slacker, Lighter, Faster

It's that wonderful time of year when new bikes and gear are making their way out to happy little kids... and grown up kids. My bright shiny new DH race bike - the 2014 Intense 951 Evo - recently arrived and I have to say, I think this is the most gorgeous looking race bike I've owned! When we picked the color - a matte fluorescent red - we knew it would be bright… but it almost glows.  I'd call it "sunset red" because depending on the angle and lighting it can look red, pink, or orange.

Once it was built up by my mechanic "Mr B, aka Big Rig" it was time to get testing done so we could dial in the suspension settings.  B and I headed to Vancouver Island to ride some of our favourite trails there - the old Hammerfest race course in Parksville, the race course in Port Alberni, and then I got to experience the awesomeness that is Forbidden Plateau in Courtenay with our friends Lee and Jacob.

I've been absolutely loving my M9's for the past few years so it was a bit of a gamble to change it up and try something different, but the moment I sat on the 951 Evo it felt like a true downhill race machine. Three things I noticed: with my previous M9's I'd had a 64+ degree head angle which was alway a little twitchy when I was over the front end of the bike, but the new 951 Evo has a 62.5 degree head angle which is far more relaxed and handles the steeper chutes noticeably better. The 27.5" wheels roll over everything much more smoothly and truly allow you to carry more momentum which for me means as long as I stay off the brakes I'm faster. And finally, somehow, despite the fact that it has bigger wheels and a slightly longer frame, it built up to be 2 pounds lighter than my M9 was last year with the same parts. For me having my bike lose 2 pounds is immediately noticeable which translates into me getting up to speed faster and better control of my bike in the rough stuff.

Practicing my uphill pavement pedalling technique
It is the lightest, brightest DH bike I've ever had the pleasure of owning and I'm looking forward to some fast fun on it this year!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Team Vega!

This year I am officially a member of Team Vega!  I'm very excited about this - I've been using Vega products for several years and have always been impressed by the way they make me feel, whether it be in my day to day routine, during a gym workout, or in the middle of a long ride.  Their products are all plant based and were created by Vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier (who also happens to be from Vancouver) = nutrient dense products designed with the high performance athlete in mind.  I love it!

I've tried a lot of different "sport" products over the years and Vega has won out over them all.  They feel "clean" in my body - it's hard to describe, but it feels good.  There are no bad textures or tastes, no sugar highs and lows, and no stomach cramps.  Time is precious, and so is health.  Getting the most out of my workouts, recovering quicker, and feeling good throughout it all is a wonderful thing.

I have a lot of favourites but this one is at the top
Thank you Vega!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter Wonderlands - From Snow to Desert

This winter has brought with it some incredible riding not only here in my backyard but also in a few new and very beautiful places.  I've been spending a good deal of time on my Tracer 275 and I feel as though we've become fast friends.  It's nice to know you can rely on your bike be it on the technical climbs or while finding the funnest way back down the mountain.  December had some especially amazing days - sunny skies, crisp air and frozen extra grippy dirt.

The Tracer 275 in it's natural environment
Doesn't look like December does it?
Over the holidays B and I decided to go for a little drive and found ourselves in another mountain biking mecca of the world - Moab, UT. We celebrated a white Christmas there exploring some slick rock trails on our bikes and hiking in nearby Arches National Park.  The scenery there is incredible, completely different than anything I've ever seen, and we were able to enjoy it all without any of the usual crowds that occur during the peak season.  I'm going to let my pictures do the majority of the explaining from here on in (be forewarned, there are a lot of them!).

Soaking in some rays, enjoying the view on the Slickrock Trail
 Bryden getting ready to rock and roll
The white painted stripes on the rocks showing us where to go…
not to be confused with the many patches of snow

Merry Christmas!! :)
Boxing Day in Arches National Park:

Landscape Arch - spanning longer than a football field!
King of the castle
The Double Arches (on B's right)
Standing inside an arch looking out… almost a mirror effect
One of many amazing sunsets…

Then we hopped on our bikes again and spent a day exploring some more nearby trails…

We drove a long way to go riding in the snow!
Thankfully all the south facing areas were nice and dry
Top of the climb, time for some cliff exposure
A great big hole in the ground
Relaxing cliffside
A Bryden fly by
We thought this was exposed… we hadn't ridden in Sedona yet
After a few fun but chilly days in Moab we decided to continue on to our next destination, Sedona AZ. I had no idea how amazing Sedona is.  The trails, the views, the weather, the people, the mexican food… all just blew us away.  Our first stop was a local bike shop called Over the Edge where we got our trail map and the guys there marked out some of the best rides for us to check out.  Then we headed straight to the "most extreme" of them all - a trail called Hangover.  I am so glad we rode that trail because it was like nothing I've ever ridden before, but at the same time - I may have had a few mini heart attacks while making my way along the most exposed sections.  It was a steep climb to a crazy traverse alongside a butte where you do NOT want to make a mistake.  The views, if you dare to take your eyes off the trail to look at them, are spectacular!

Start of the ride
Halfway up the climb, enjoying the sun and the scenery
Riding along one of many ledges
B wheely excited to be almost at the top of the climb!
Descending along a very narrow trail
Interesting rock formations around every corner
Part way down, so much to see
Break time!
Day 2's ride, a little more user friendly
Difficult or Extreme?  We chose extreme
This is what extreme looks like
We watched quite a few sunsets while on our bikes
New Year's Eve day we went on a day trip to the Grand Canyon, a quick 2 hr drive away.  It really is massive, almost hard to grasp how big it is.  We toured around and enjoyed many of the viewpoints all by ourselves (it wasn't very busy), then picked our favourite spot and watched the sun set for the last time in 2013. 

Can you spot me out there?
Goodbye 2013
New Year's Day we were back on our bikes for what turned into our favourite ride of the trip.  A nice long loop that incorporated the trail Hiline - this trail had THE best views and the riding was a blast!

Start of the ride - cross the creek and head to the hills
The water was quite refreshing
Trails there are well marked
The beginning of Hiline
The trail gets a bit skinny but not so much that you don't enjoy yourself
Looked like a nice backdrop for a photo shoot
So beautiful there!
Top of the climb!  Ready to start our descent
This part was so fast and so flowy!
Having fun on a little rocky down
Sedona is a special place and it was hard to leave but it was time to continue on our travels.  Next stop: Laguna Beach, CA.  

We arrived just in time to catch the sunset on the beach 
We spent a solid afternoon riding the trails in Aliso Canyon.  The dirt was hard packed and rolled fast!  We got in several laps, each time making the steep climb back up to the top in the heat of the day.  I wasn't going to complain though… not after riding in snow just a few days earlier!

Smooth and fast
Car Wreck trail - one of the hardest trails in this area
B looking for bats (there was a cave in the side of the hill)
If you can't make a nice face, make a silly one
It just so happened to be the season opener for the Monster Energy Supercross series in Anaheim while we were there so of course we went.  It was pretty cool to see big names in motocross in real life, and very exciting to watch the race up close!

Eli Tomac heading out for practice
Finding our seats… the race is about to start!
And they're off!
Roczen takes the win
And so came the end to our amazing road trip.  It was one of the best trips of my life - so many beautiful places, so many incredible memories.  Actually… it wasn't quite over yet.  There was just enough time for one last memorable moment, one that turned out to be the most memorable one of all.  On the last morning of our trip we decided to get up early and watch our final sunrise of the trip on the beach before starting the drive back.  Bryden set up the camera to film it… and perfectly captured the most magical moment… 
I took this pic just before something amazing happened…


I couldn't imagine a better way to end such an incredible road trip. :)