Team Mission and Vision

Terrascape is a bicycle racing club, based in Calgary, developing and supporting cycling and its moral values in the community at large.

To be recognized in the Alberta cycling community as a racing club which:
*Creates a team culture that supports each members’ goal attainment,
*Is dedicated to supporting our high performance racers, and establishing a team infrastructure that meets the training needs of the club, and
*Demonstrates commitment to the organization of superb cycling events, promoting fair play and sportsmanship throughout Alberta.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The race...

Picture this....
100m of asphalt for the start, to the first corner. I had some unfinished business, considering my gong-show of a start at Nationals. This time I practised my start gear, and was feeling confident. Thankfully the commissaire used a whistle, rather than a light or a gun - we're off! I had a great launch and start in a perfect gear. I am third wheel to the corner, but we are pretty much all together. Right hand rutted turn, and a lumpy, muddy, soft section across the top to the descent. Sluggish!!! I can't believe how slow my wheels are moving, gear down to keep momentum and get some speed before the descent. Left hand corner into the thick, sticky, rutted, off camber mud slope.
I'm not super smooth, so I end up one legging for the lower section, trying to keep my wheels rolling smooth and as fast as I can. As it starts to flatten, I clip my left foot back in, and get back up to speed just before a right hand muddy corner onto some pavement through the parking lot. 2 hairpin turns across the length of the parking lot. I am in second, then 3rd, now 4th... Curses! Too slow in those gravel 180's.
First place has made a bit of a gap, but 3 of us are pretty tight. Behind the clubhouse across the field to the pit, but the other girls don't switch bikes yet. I hear my nieces cheering, and Jeff tells me not to just sit in. I power past the first pit, then make the pass by 4th. Up a little slope and right hand onto a double track road. It's hard packed, so is a nice break from the energy sucking soft pasture. Legs feel ok, but powering through the soft wet ground has set them on fire a bit. I am sitting right behind 2nd, and after a little draft on the straight, I make the pass just before the next corner. This one takes us into some sweeping S turns - the first 2 are fine, but I take the 3rd one a bit wide and I am not set up well for the last tighter corner. And we come upon one of the women from 30-39, so I fumble a bit.

Back into 2nd, but not for long. Another couple of long straights, then around the back side of the course to another off camber section which is out of the sun, and therefore still frozen. I ride it well though, and am right on 2nd's wheel. A beautiful left hand corner that requires no brakes, so am able to take over 2nd again. Into the pit for my first bike change! The Rocky Mountain is heavy, but a clean drive train is worth it. Out of the pit, across the slowest softest section, and then onto another double track to the asphalt climb back to the start. Come through the start finish feeling good, and start the second lap strong.

2nd catches back up in the slow section across the top, but this time, I ride it smooth and fast. Well, relatively speaking. It was lumpy, rutted and I bounced all over the place, but maintained my speed and stayed upright. Good old Rocky. Around the corners, past the clubhouse again, and into the pit for another bike change -back on the Scott. Smooth transitions, and I don't lose much time. Thanks Jeff, Kali and Rae! Lap 2 was fairly solid, bit of a slip on the back half of the course, on the frozen section, but I get passed even though I'm back up right away. Decide to stay on the Scott for another half lap, since it's shifting well, and will be nice to have on the climb back up to the start finish. Come through just behind 2nd, down by 6 seconds with a 30 second gap on 4th.
I have got my speed, looks good -but my front wheel slides out 2/3rds of the way down.
I bounce back up but have to run a little bit. I am able to stay with the girls, but I lose a bit of time, as it takes me a bit to get clipped in - I seem to have picked up a LOT of mud with this little crash. Through the pits for bike change and now hard work to get back up there. 2nd is not far, and I am gaining on her. Wheels slip AGAIN on the muddy S turns, and all the work is for nothing. Back on the bike and now it's all out. I decide not to change my bike, and continue on the Rocky for the final section of the course.

I am gaining on 2nd, but she is still 20 seconds or more ahead. The problem is I don't have much distance left! Through the tough wet slow sections, and then on to the double track to the road climb. She is so close, but not close enough. I stand and go as hard as I can, but 3rd place is the best I got today. I cross the finish, and slump over the bars to reduce the oxygen needed for my muscles - I am done, nothing left in me!! I was super happy with my race, despite the mistakes I made.

1) Riding is not always the best choice - sometimes running will save your bike from collecting too much mud.
2) Always change back to your lightest bike for slow or climbing sections.
3) Train more.

What a great experience. A short interview - Check out 3:17, and don't mind my cryptic ESL English!

Thanks to my pit crew, husband and coach, awesome team, and network of supportive friends and family - without whom I wouldn't have even thought of going. Now I'm thinking about next year already....I'm pretty sure I need a new bike....

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Oh wait... WORLDS!!!

Fat and sassy season is a long awaited time of year, when racing and training is done, and period of indulging in some decadent food and drink, and no specific workout program. Good or bad, mine was cut short not quite 2 weeks after Nationals when my colleague asked me if I was going to go to Master's Worlds, now that I had won Master's Nationals. Pfffff....what? Worlds? Why would I go to Worlds? It's for fast people, and I don't even know where or when it is. Hm. It happens to be in Gossau, Switzerland - 3 hrs south of my sister who lives in Germany. In 3 weeks. Why should I go? It's expensive, far, and the Euro competition is most likely to lap me. When however, will I get the chance again to race at Worlds Masters, with my family there to cheer, wearing the Canadian jersey.....? It took me another several days to think, decide, convince Jeff to come with me and coordinate a surprise visit through my brother in law.....but we bought the tickets, registered, and I started to wrap my head around this next race adventure. Wine and treats were out, and the workouts were back in. Christmas parties and -20, the bane of my existence. It was tough, but I made it through till Dec 24, my last day of work. Now I can focus on just training and resting.
On the way home....koff koff. Hmmm. Throat scratchy. Head stuffy. Feel awful. By 6 pm both Jeff and I were sniffling, mucousy messes, glued to the couch, buried in mounds of tissue. Nothing like a severe sinus cold to sap your energy and your stamina. Virus-1, race prep for Worlds-0. What terrible timing!!! I was already struggling with my loss of fitness, no races to help keep my skills sharp, and now I was out of commission for another week. Not exactly ideal. But really, I should be over the virus by Jan 4, and I am going for the experience and to do the best I can. Not much I can do about this virus now.
Tuning up my bike - seized bb. Not surprising given the wet conditions of my last few races. Am I taking a second bike? Nah, that seems too much work. Jeff decided he would work the pit, and was happy to drink beer instead of train. Am I taking a second bike? Hmmm, Jeff thinks it's needed, and since we have the room, I decide to pretty up my old Rocky Mountain Solo - lighter seat and post, carbon wheels, new bb and cables - shifting beautifully! And still 19 lbs. Yikes!! 3 lbs heavier than my Scott. Hopefully I don't need it! I do need another 11-28 Ultegra cassette, which I can't find, so I order one from Chain Reaction, to be delivered to Germany. I actually need 3 - and my good friend Steve lent me an 11-27 for my spare wheelset, since I was not excited to use my 11-25.

Dec 30. Packed and ready to go, forecast is for 6 degrees and raining. Perfect. Calgary-Heathrow-Frankfurt. Grab the rented car, and drive the hour to my sister's place. They are away until the next day, so we get a quiet New Year's Eve in Ettlingen and a relaxing Jan 1st before the get home. Put bikes together - including my 11-28 which has arrived, everything working well, short ride and workout, a little dinner.... and surprise!! My sister and nieces were so excited, and absolutely caught off guard. A day visiting before we pack up the Canada van and head to Switzerland. Unfortunately, I am now one wheel short - as I wheel my bike to the van, my wheel doesn't turn, something's jingling.....JEEEEFFFFFF!! Seems I have broken a spoke at the nipple, which is now tinkling inside Ray's tubular rim. Yes, the carbon rims with the PDX- my fave race wheel. AHHHHH! Oh well, nothing to be done, but continue packing the van. 6 people, 2 bikes, 1 wheel, and a dog. Go Canada go!
Goals: In truth, I had no idea if I would be lapped, or in the mix. It's so variable with who else shows up. I tried to look up results of the other riders, but with nothing to compare it to, it was not helpful. Goal #1: Better start than Nationals. I needed that to have a strong race. Goal #2: Ride as hard as I can, never let the wheel go. Goal #3: Podium.
Jan 3. Day before the race: Head to Gossau via Brent's (brother in law) GPS. Hmm, differs from my directions. The hotel is booked in St. Gallen, 5 m from Gossau. Wait a minute - there are 2 villages named Gossau!! At least the GPS sent us to the race site. No worries, see signs for the course and folks are there checking it out. Muddy, soft, wet....yikes. Flat and not super technical, but the conditions will be energy sucking!! Not exactly my strength. There is one off camber downhill, which I ride every lap (I am a mountain biker, after all) - all mud, rutted, but find a couple good lines. Wash up bikes, and now to drive another 100km to the OTHER Gossau, and to the hotel. Thankfully everyone else is just along for the ride, excited to be here, and are not stressed at all. Great hotel in the end, super nice owner Albert, and a great dinner.
Jan 4. Race day. Fantastic breakfast - more options than you could imagine, and the muesli, yogurt and kaffe mit milch was perfct for me. Quick drive to the course, to get ready for my race at 2pm. Pull up in the Canada van, and who do we see but Andre Sutton, here for his preride! Register, get my chip and time to check out the course. Same conditions, maybe muddier with all the preriding. Trying to find the best line on that descent today - front wheel washes out in the same place, as my wheel is sucked into the ruts. Hmmm. One more try. Riding across the top and pop! My wheel pops out, deraillieur hanger so bent but not broken! AHHHHH!! I had been unable to find a spare dh for my Scott in Calgary, and had ordered one from France - but had not arrived at my sister's house before we left. That's it. I'm done.

I'm down to 1 bike, and it's my pig of a commuter bike that has no business even being at Worlds!!! Thankfully, super calm Jeff wanders around, finds a helpful Brit riding a Scott, with a handful of spare dh's, and willing to sell. Back in business!! Whew!

Warm up, fuss about with layers, finally concede the decision to Jeff, reminding me that I always dress too warm and convinces me to go with my long sleeve Terrascape Jersey, my Canadian jersey on top, regular gloves, and my bib knickers. Gel at the start line, and time to meet the other women. All 4 of us. What? I had expected much larger fields, and am still not entirely sure why, being my first and only European cross race. Smaller women's fields? Because it's Masters? Too close to US Nationals? No one wanted to race this course? Who knows. They combined the 40+ and 45+, so we were racing a 40-49 category. We start 2 min behind the 30+. A few smiles at the line, then the count down.

Provincials.... Nationals......Worlds....!? Behind the scenes of Alana's last couple races

I guess it all started with the new bike. OK, maybe Jeff and I had decided prior to September that we would focus on cyclocross rather than mountain bike racing. Really, it was me designing my relaxing summer, 3 weeks in Europe drinking rose and eating soft cheese and baguettes. Granted the TR hurt my ego and legs a whole lot. I had decided to take out a Masters license this year, and was keen to race once the fall came around. With that, we ramped up the cross season with racing Midweek Mayhem, and every weekend double header in Alberta, adding in some skills, intensity and cross specific drills during the week. I got stronger and stronger. Then my new bike arrived. What a difference 4 lbs makes!! And I love my Scott. Some light carbon wheels arrived soon after - and my results continued to improve with my fitness and skills. I had a great battle during Provincials with Lesley Baldwin, but was able to make a dynamic pass just before the off camber downhill before the steep climb back up. I needed to get in front as I was riding the step-up as well as the log barriers. The Kid's advice of 'Never let the wheel go' was always in my head, pushing me to stay with who ever was ahead. Master 30+ Provincial Champ!! Super happy with my result.

Nationals was already on the program for a few of us, and Coach Jeff shaped my season and training to focus on that. I was looking forward to racing Master Women - not entirely where I would fit, but thinking that I would be in the mix. We booked a trip to Portland in between Provincials and Nationals to stay fresh and help keep our fitness and motivation. That proved to be a big helps as the Saturday race in Portland was a disaster in the mud, resulting in broken derailleurs and hangers for the Kid and I - but it was the first sticky sloppy smeary peanut buttery mud I had raced in all season.
The Sunday race in Portland was also very cool because of the sheer size of the fields - over 150 women!!
And the forecast for Nationals was 12 degrees and raining. Kristin and flew out Thursday eve, and ran in to Mical . Super fun course, 3 sand pits and some off camber corners just waiting for more victims. We were able to share a tent with Lance Adamson and his Cycle Smart crew, and a collection of Albertans - was great to have a home town crew out there. Even more amazing was our own Deadgoat Mani who drove wheels, trainers and more out, and cheered us on all weekend.

Race Day: Mud tires - thanks to Ray who loaned his carbon wheels with the tire of the day - the Clement PDX. Brakes rubbing - Jeff, Regan, Lance work some magic for me, and make the rub go away. One last tire pressure check - perfect. Start line: Long sleep jersey, and bib knickers. Perfect temp for racing. Grey, but not raining. What the...AHHHHH my front tire is flat!! 2 min to start, as they just fired the gun for the men. JEEEEFFFFFF!!! Jeff grabs a pumps and puts some air in - but will it hold? Do I have a slow leak? It still seems really soft!! Roll to start, look around, maybe I should add a gear.... and GO! Unfortunately, I should NOT have added a gear, and was turning my legs at 60 rpm in the soft sluggish wet ground. Find a better gear, but my feet can't find my pedals. Look up - I am many bike lengths behind the ENTIRE field. So that's it. Well, I was pretty fired up, and I knew I could catch a few girls, so I hammered to catch back on, and caught the field just after the first corner, was mid pack by the second corner, and was 5th or 6th wheel by the 3rd corner. Ok, I can make a race out of this. I'm still in it. Accordian into the first hairpin turn, and I make an aggressive pass to make it to second wheel - sorry for the elbow Kris! and now am chasing Janna Gillick, the 2012 Canadian Master Women champ. A good chase for another lap, but I focus on riding the sand smooth and hard, staying up right in the greasy muddy corners, and made the pass. Once I was in the lead I stayed hard on the gas, standing out of every corner and riding hard 2 out of the 3 sand pits, and running hard the other. Lots of cheering from the team and Jeff, and special thanks to Shantal for her splits, and positive coaching! We ended up doing one extra lap - so our race was over 50 minutes. Master 30+ Canadian Champ!! Super happy with my race and result, despite my gong-show of a start.

Wow what a season - I never thought I would have done so well. I felt so strong and smooth, peaking perfectly for Nationals. Now, it's fat and sassy season.