A lot has changed since my last post. Not only is it a New Year, but I have a new team, a new training plan, and a new set of goals. Yes, a new team. It was a difficult decision to leave the great friends I made over the past four years that I rode for Xprezo, because they are so fabulous and supportive and they make such beautiful bikes, but we’re still buds and I will always keep a special place in my heart for the big “X” from Bromont.
So for those who didn’t know, my new team is (cue trumpets)… Giant and Liv/giant Canada! In addition to being a racer, my role with these guys and gals includes being an ambassador and helping promote the Liv/giant women’s brand and women’s cycling in general. This means I’ll have the opportunity to represent the company’s passion for cycling outside of the competitive realm in the form of demo events, rides, clinics, and more! I’m really excited about joining this awesome group of people – and their HQ is just across Indian Arm in North Vancouver, so I’m looking forward to some North Shore lunch rides!
Now with the logistics out of the way, I’m going to tell you a little about what’s been going on lately.
On New Year’s Eve, Ryan and I took our bikes to the skills park and practiced jumping, then we drove to Whistler to celebrate with friends, and on New Year’s Day, a bunch of us went for an epic snowshoe hike that saw us return at twilight.
Between then and now, there have been lots of the typical West Coast rainy winter days, but I’ve managed to deal with them, stay motivated, and train away. I’m feeling great. I’ve been riding my first full suspension bike since 2003 this winter – an extra-small Giant Anthem X, which I have enjoyed a lot. I immediately felt more confident aboard my new steed, which I’ve dubbed “The Friendly Giant”, and have been riding things I didn’t dare to ride on my hardtail (not that I couldn’t ride them on my hardtail, but the cushy bike does take the edge off). I’ve been following Steve (who is riding a 6-and-6 Giant Reign) off of some bigger jumps, which has been a blast.
I’ve also been doing lots of the requisite base road miles aboard my brand new Giant TCX W (also extra-small). This is Giant’s women’s specific ‘cross bike that I outfitted with durable road tires (Maxxis Re-Fuse) and full-coverage fenders (that pass fender police inspection). It’s the perfect bike for churning out those long road training rides – so comfy, I can easily spend all day on it. And when ‘cross season rolls around, I will just de-fender it, throw some knobbies on, and go!
In early February, I was invited to join a women’s road training camp in the Fraser Valley. I had participated last year and found it to be a great experience to ride with a bunch of super fun women and log some solid training. I jumped at the opportunity again this year and enjoyed two wonderful days of riding in the Fraser Valley. Sunday’s ride was a 117km epic that took us to Chilliwack and up into some gorgeous areas I’ve never seen before. I’ll never forget it and I am really glad I participated.
One of the reasons I am especially glad I took part in the camp was because it was the last time I would ever spend with an amazing coach and overall passionate cyclist whose contribution to the sport is incalculable. A week later, Jeremy Storie passed away suddenly. The Canadian cycling community has been rocked by this loss and although Jeremy and I were never close, I am surprised at how hard I have taken his passing. Other people who I’ve spoken with have shared similar experiences. Jeremy was enthusiastically coaching cycling when I first showed up on the scene in the late 90’s and he was a fixture in B.C. cycling already at that time. He coached the 2001 Canada Summer Games team of which I was a member, and more recently, he directed the Local Ride Racing women’s program for which I have had the privilege of guest riding. This is all on top of the pro cyclists and Olympic and World Championship medalists he coached during his career. Over the years, my respect for Jeremy increased as I recognized his vast knowledge of the sport, how much cycling meant to him, and how important it was for him to foster youth and women’s cycling in particular. Jeremy taught me many important things. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from him is that you have to be willing to take risks to win. I apply this to bike racing as well as to life in general. Thank you, Jeremy, for all you have contributed to the sport we love so much. Rest in Peace.
I had also been planning on escaping to the warm, sunny south for a training camp, but the week I was going to head to Palm Springs, I came down with the flu. Bummer! The flu hit me pretty hard, but I took care of myself and survived. As a consolation prize for missing the California camp, I dragged Ryan off to balmy Victoria for a week. Palm trees, high humidity, some sunshine… it was close enough. We spent the week riding the great roads of Victoria and also had the chance to check out some of the sweet trails at the Dump. And we even had time to go to the movies – twice!
In addition to a couple of quality camps, I have had some fantastic training partners right here at home. In addition to my trusty standbys, Ryan, Steve, and Jean Ann, Catharine has visited twice in order to ride the Wet Coast trails near my house, and last time she even brought Keith (my trusty coach). On Sunday, the bunch of us were checking out the trails in Ledgeview and it was all going well until I rode off a wooden bridge and smacked my kneecap super hard. I’ve smacked my knee before, and normally it kills for about five minutes, but then I can shake it off and get back to riding. I thought it would be the same this time around, but it wasn’t. Instead of fading, the pain sharpened and intensified, and my coach sent me back to the car while my riding buddies enjoyed another 2+ hours of singletrack. They assured me they didn’t have any fun whatsoever without me, but for some reason, I don’t believe them for a second.
So now I actually find myself with some time to catch up on my blog as I’m on the couch with my knee iced and elevated. My fabulous physio, Sue, at Golden Ears Physiotherapy in Maple Ridge assures me that with proper care, I should be back to regular training by next week. “Luckily” this incident happened right at the start of a scheduled recovery week, so things shouldn’t be thrown off too drastically on the training front.
Okay, I have a couple of great recipes to share with you. The first is basically porridge with crystallized ginger thrown in. (This one’s for you, Viper, if you haven’t already tried it!) The ginger adds some extra zip and the sugar sweetens things a little. I usually slice in some banana as I’m cooking it, which also adds sweetness. Cook up the oats and water, throw in whatever you like (I enjoy the crunch of walnuts and the spiciness of cinnamon, the salt is for flavour, but also for us sweaty athletes) until it’s to the consistency you prefer, top with fresh fruit and yogurt or whatever you like. Bam! Yumminess in a bowl.
Crystallized Ginger Porridge
1/3c large flake oats
2/3c water, or as needed for desired consistency
1/2 banana, sliced
6 walnut halves, chopped
4 chunks crystalized ginger, chopped
Dash of salt
Top with fresh fruit and yogurt.
Makes 1 serving.
The next one is a great dish to pre-make for lunches or a quick dinner…. Serve this flavourful curried lentil soup or stew with warm naan bread and it makes a hearty meal.
Coconut and Curry Red Lentil Soup
1T cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1-2t red pepper flakes (depending on taste)
3t fresh ginger, minced
1T curry powder
1 ½ c dried red lentils
1 400mL can diced tomatoes
2t vegetable bouillon
1 400mL can coconut milk
Salt to taste
t = teaspoon
T = Tablespoon
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the onion garlic and spices. Sauté until the onion and garlic are soft and the spices are fragrant, then add celery and carrots and sauté another couple of minutes before adding the water and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and add the bouillon and lentils. Simmer on low until the lentils are soft. Stir in the coconut milk. Salt to taste. Enjoy!