Ossola Sport

Irena Ossola – Dedication and Determination

Tour de Kermesse

Yesterday finished up my Tour de Kermesse here in Belgium and The Netherlands.
17 races in 34 days

Finished up with 2 wins, 1- 3rd, 7- top 10 , 15th in a UCI 1.2 RR, and all but 2 top 20. The last couple felt like the end of a stage race, all money in the pain bank to get stronger. So much fun and such strong racing here. Pretty solid overall I think. And an incredible experience meeting new friends and racers.

Thank you to all those that helped me make this possible.

Heres a quick zoom through the past couple weeks in pictures

 

Netherlands

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Bike paradise, real life ginger bread, important recovery

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Back to Belgium

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Winning on Monday / 12 Aug

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3rd on Wednesday / 14 Aug

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Loving Life

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Cobble Stones and Chocolate, gotta love Belgium.  So sweet and yet so cruel

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Race day #17

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Racecation- Belgium and Netherlands

Over the past 20 days I’ve been in Belgium and The Netherlands solo racing.  Just me, my bike, and a rental car.  The first 3 days were a bit uncertain what would play out.  But I came up with a rough list of races and ran (or rode) with it.  Things came together with host housing over that first week. Through friends and connections, I am so grateful for those that let me stay with them during this time.
Once I started the first couple races I realized how much racing there is here and just wanted to do more.  I put together my map/list and got busy sending emails to preregister.  The process was a bit difficult not knowing Dutch, because the websites were all JUST in Dutch.  But figuring out that Weg means road (for the races), Vroumen is woman, and elite … well means elite.  I could get my way through the information to what I needed.  I learned that some races are invite only because they try to set up the race for a certain participant to win.  I was in one of these and interestingly enough she didn’t end up winning.
Most of my drives to get to a race are between 40min and 2 hrs.  Which the Belgians think is incredible to travel 2 hrs for a race.  When I told them in the US most people have to fly just to attend a 1 hr Crit their jaws dropped.

race maps

In these post Tour de France crits in the Netherlands last week I raced with some of the best in the world.  Marianne Vos, Annemiek Van Vleuten, Chantal Blaak, Anna Van der Breggen.

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And overall the level of racing in every race I’ve done is a step higher then that of the US.  So that dream of racing in Europe that most American cyclists have, we’ll it has some substance.  Cause this is the place that will make a good cyclist a great one.  And kick the shit out of a beginner.

-The speed is faster in the overall general time of the race
-There is more and constant attacking, so very little time to relax or recover or sit back.
-Much more aggressive riding as a pack and individuals.  If there is space to move into, it will be taken very fast
-Close riding and no/few crashes.  Lots of touching, elbows rubbing, and leaning on each other.
-Everywhere is free game, if there’s not a barrier you can ride there.  I can’t even count how many curbs I’ve jumped, sidewalks I’ve cut across, gutters I’ve ridden and trash cans I’ve avoided just to save myself in a race or to get in a better position and move up.

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My first week I spent with a host family in southern Belgium. Near Kortrijk, which is very close to the French border. They are really nice and their daughter, 14, is the Belgium junior cycling champion. I traveled out from their house to the races which were mostly road/circuit races.

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My second week I spent in The Netherlands with a friend/guy that my coach used to coach. He lives in Utretch which is a really nice city and good location for racing.   I had heard that the Netherlands was big for biking, bike paths, and commuting by bike. But didn’t know it was this incredible. Almost every road has a bike path or bike lane, and if it doesn’t then the road gives priority to bikes. Everywhere people are getting around by big cruiser granny bikes. Its amazing!! The weather doesn’t seem to bother them either, even if there is sideways wind and rain there were still people on the paths getting wherever they had to go.

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Bike parking in the Netherlands

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Racing this week was mostly crits, the short nascar style racing. But these were not the normal 1hr hard-easy-hard-easy- sprint kind of American crits. These were all out almost all the time, 1-1hr30min crits. Involving technical courses, cobbles, punchy little hills, and fans everywhere cheering. Also unlike the American crits, when a break gets away it actually has a chance of staying away. Most of the races I’ve done has a breakaway take it to the finish. This keeps the race really fast and aggressive. As I’ve established myself as a strong and aggressive rider that likes to break away, I’ve noticed now that when I attack either the top racers come with me or bridge up to me for the break. It was a lot easier not being known and just getting away solo and powering away for the finish.  But I guess this is a good thing that I’m being marked.

I’ve been pushed and stepped up my level of racing to read the race and what is going to happen based on the course, racers, conditions, and distance.   These are the key ingredients for how the race will play out.  I’ve learned so much over the past couple weeks and it’s incredible what this experience will do for my ability as a cyclist.  I’m living the dream and grateful for every day that I’m here and can go out to ride or race on these amazing roads in this amazing place.  Even through the wind, and rain, and crazy weather it’s beautiful out here and all the towns and cities are really unique.

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I’ve had the chance to do a little exploring.  I went to Amsterdam for a day and explored the small winding streets with so many canals, bridges and shops.  Since I stayed in Utretch, most people don’t know about this small city, but it is the perfect size to get out for a small ride or see the center, it’s kind of like a mini Amsterdam with less tourists.

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This upcoming week I’ll be back in Belgium, staying with the family again and racing in Belgium. I’ll have 6 races over the next 10 days. The races will be back to road race/ circuit style racing. And good too as I’ll have top world tour races coming up and need to be in 120km distance race shape, and not 60km race shape.

I’d like to thank Health Product Distributors for all their support and helping me to race so strong.  Using the Rejuvenate product and vitamin supplements I’ve been able to stay healthy, in top form, and recover so much better after races.  I feel the difference in fatigue and energy level using the Mayomag (magnesium supplement), and mix Rejuvenate in all of my recover drinks post race.  Thank you for being a part of this journey.

USA Pro Nationals and Europe

Quick Recap:

USA- Knoxville and Louisville

June 25th I raced USA Pro Nationals for Road Race.  I felt good and stayed with the front part of the group for the majority of the race.  Unfortunately, I missed the last move up the climb with 2 to go and was stuck in no-man’s land until the group caught me.  Finished 22nd, which I was wanting a better finish.  But I have to learn from the mistake and move on.

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July 2nd in Louisville, KY I raced USA Pro Nationals for Criterium.  I really like the course and felt good going into it.  The pace was fast and aggressive from the start.  When I missed the breakaway of Erica Allar and Lauren Stephens, I knew that was the one that could/would stick and I wasn’t going to make the mistake again.  So I worked hard to bridge early.  But that effort was futile as the main group was still going hard and the breakaway was also moving fast.  So I got caught, took a couple laps to regain energy and attacked again.  I was bridging up to the break when a crash caused a neutralization and stop of the race.  When we started again I was put 30 seconds after Erica and Lauren, and 15 seconds in front of the main pack.  With 6 laps to go.  So I knew it was now or never. So I gave it all I had and pushed those final laps with everything.  In the final lap I was getting so close to the break and half a lap to go I caught them. Using my speed I attacked around them, but they got on my wheel.  I was in full power mode and kept drilling it.  But they stayed on me and in the final turn Erica attacked for the win.  I gave it everything and finished with the Bronze.  I was really happy with this finish and a lot of people said how amazing I made that race to watch.  So exciting and never giving up.

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EUROPE

July 10 I flew to Brussels, Belgium to meet my SAS-Macogep team for our next race.

13-16 July we raced the BeNe Women’s Tour.  Starting in The Netherlands and finishing in Belgium it was a hard and fun race.

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Stages-

Prologo 1.9km- 70th – In such a short race I was just 18 seconds behind the leader, but many factors that add just 1 second and change a lot.

1- 127km Road Race- 40th-  Focused on positioning and had a lot of fun getting back into the feel of european racing.  Hard, fast, close and aggressive.  With strong wind and rain at a couple points it made for a hard race.  I stayed in the front group when the main pack split and finished in the sprint, but my legs didn’t have the kick I needed to be top 10.

2a- 98km Road Race – 23rd. Fun race and stayed in good positioning the whole time.  Just a small cobble section each lap but didn’t break up the group so it was a full group sprint finish.

2b- 10km Time Trial – not good because of a mechanical problem and my back wheel was rubbing on the bike frame the entire race.

3- 112km Circuit Race- 13th-  Very fun circuit and very technical.  Felt like an american crit race.  Always looking to move up and positioning.  I had fun going with attacks and my legs felt good.  In the final lap I focused on moving up and trying to position well.  Would have liked to work for my teammate for a good finish, but we didn’t communicate as well as we should have and I could only hope she was on my wheel and would pass me in the finish.  Next time.

 

Belgium-

After the BeNe Women’s Tour my team went back to France and I have stayed in Belgium to keep racing.  I have a rental car and my phone and a list of races I want to do.  Initially it was a bit of a nervous adventure as I had no lodging and just an airbnb set up for 4 nights.  Now I have met some people and with contacts organized housing for the next couple weeks that I’ll be here.

 

18 July – Strijpen-Zottegem- 90km circuit of 8 laps-  1st

With just 1 day of rest between the tour and this race I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel.  But I stayed relaxed and in good position at the start.  There were a couple early attacks but nothing to go.  Then halfway through the first lap on an uphill I saw an opening and made a move.  Not thinking I would have a gap, but I did.  So I kept motoring and got more time.  If I stayed away it was going to be a long day.  So I passed the start/finish and with 7 laps to go thought, oh boy.  Each lap I just focused on my turns and staying aero in the wind.  At one point the car said I had 1’25″, so I thought I was gaining a lot of time.  Then with 2 laps to go the car said I had 55 seconds.  With this I thought the group was chasing and I had to put in a big effort.  So I pushed and knew if I could get to half a lap to go with that time I could make it.  Finally after the main hill/small climb the car came up and said “congratulations”.  This was a relief but I still powered until I saw the finish.  I raised my arms and felt this great victory and a victory to show how strong I am.

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19 July- GP Glineur- 7th or 8th

For this race I knew I would be marked from the start.  I also knew my legs were pretty tired from yesterday.  So I stayed patient and in good positioning. A couple solo attacks went but were brought back pretty soon after.  In the last half lap (of 4 laps total) a girl attacked hard where her team had been sitting in the whole time.  The team blocked for her at the front so the effort to catch didn’t succeed, she took it to the line almost getting caught at the finish.  The last 1.5km was a straight road slight uphill, about 4%.  I stayed patient, and in a good position for the sprint.  But when the sprint arrived and time to kick my legs wouldn’t surge. I finished solid in 7th or 8th but wanted better.

24 July- Boezinge- 40 laps-

A more competitive race with a couple of stronger racers and teams.  In particular, Jolien D’hoore, the Belgium national champion and world champion on the track was there.  The race was aggressive as there was a prime every lap of 10 euro. I attacked in the early laps and got a break.  I was solo for about 3-4 laps until I noticed someone with me and it was Jolien.  We worked together for the following 20 laps but the group brought us back.  In the pack there were more attacks, and I also stayed aggressive trying to get away again.  Then with about 12 to go a group of 3 got a way.  They got some time and distance.  With a lap to go they were getting closer.  I attacked with 1/2 lap to go to see if I could get a gap leading into the finish but the group was going very hard.  In the final turn a girl went very far wide and pushed me out almost into the wall.  I jumped onto the sidewalk and avoided a trash can before getting back on the course.  At that point I was too far back to make the sprint for 4th place.  The break ended up making it to the finish and taking the podium.  I wanted a better result and worked hard to get away.  But sometimes the risks and attempts just don’t come through. It was hard racing though and I feel myself getting so much stronger

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I’ll be in Belgium until the 31st July, then to The Netherlands until 10 August, then back to Belgium for more racing.  The next big team race will be Plouay on 26 August in France.

Yellow is host housing, orange was this week, blue is 30 July -8 August, red is 8 August – 20 August

Back to Racing

Since my cramping episode and recovery in Santa Fe I’ve been on the upswing and back at it full force.
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Gatineau, Canada

In May, once I recovered from the cramping and was back to riding I started feeling good again and training started to build.  I started with some easy rides and just built on time rather than intensity.  At the end of May my team had a race in Canada, Gatineau GP, so that became my next level for intensity.  Despite not being on the bike for about 1 month (mid april-mid may) I placed 19th.  And this was a hard international race (UCI).  So my coach, director and myself were pretty happy with this result and shows that my base and natural talent shine through even when my training is not able to be there.

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Mid May to Beginning June- Winston-Salem

After Canada, I went to race in North Carolina, Winston-Salem, where I wasn’t feeling as great for this race, but still finished and supported my team.  It was a good effort to push me but the tough hills and just being on a new bike with the wrong fit ended up causing me quite a bit of back pain.

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Oklahoma

Post North Carolina, I went to Oklahoma and raced a 3 day race series (June 2,3,4).  I finished 5th, 7th, and then the last day put in a huge “go big or go home” effort to win by attacking and going solo for the first part of the race.  Unfortunately, I was caught by the bigger teams in the race, so I finished top 20.
This was a huge effort and showed my strength to stay away even without a team there to support me.  So in Oklahoma I really started feeling my race legs and strength again.  They were some good results and a launching for the rest of my season.

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Santa Fe

For the 2nd week of June, I was in Santa Fe, NM (home), for 1 week.  Where I was training hard and really getting ready for the races ahead.  I met with my newest sponsor, Verde Food/Juice, which is a local company that makes cold pressed juices and nutritious food.  I am really excited for this partnership as I can promote the quality product and use it while I am training to keep me fueled and going strong #fueledbyverde.  Since I do so much juicing and cleansing, this is something that will really help me going forward.

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Minneapolis, Minnesota- North Star GP

I left for Minneapolis, Minnesota June 13th and raced a 5 day stage race with a composite team. 14-18 June.  North Star Grand Prix is one of my favorite US stage races and it turned out to be a great event this year and I had so much fun with my composite team.  Here is a breakdown of my results and the stages each day:

14- Stage 1- St. Paul TT- 43rd – This year TT bikes were allowed for the 8mile flat out and back course.  This put me at a disadvantage since I couldn’t bring a TT bike.  I had to use my road bike, and despite putting in a good effort, still couldn’t compete with the aerodynamic power of the TT bikes.

Stage 2- St. Paul Crit- 6th- I had a lot of fun and went for some intermediate sprints, to contest the sprinters competition/jersey.

15- Stage 3- Cannon Falls Road Race – 100km- 6th.  I worked hard in the finishing circuit to be placed well and managed to hold onto 6th place.  The uphill finish was hard, but I felt good and legs are strong.

16- Stage 4- Uptown Crit-  12th- This is my favorite stage of the race, and probably favorite crit in the US.  I went for intermediate sprints and was sitting 5th place in the competition.  I didn’t have very good positioning in the final lap, so despite being capable of top 5 in this course I made a couple mistakes and paid the price.  Still solid with 12th though

17- Stage 5- Mankato Road Race- 100km- Circuit- 20th- The hill was tough but I positioned myself well and went up feeling good.  A break got away with about 30km to go and my teammate was in it, so I didn’t need to work to bring it back which was good.  We caught them at the top of the climb the last time through and just 1km from the finish.  My teammate finished 10th and I held 20th at the line.

18- Stage 6- Stillwater Crit- 30th-  This race is famous and so hard.  It is all about the first 2 laps, as this is where the selection is made and front group decided.  I warmed up and felt good.  When we went up the climb the first time I worked to get to the front, but was still hard to move around people and push myself up also.  The descent is so fast and tight that not much ground can be made up.  I didn’t make that front group selection unfortunately.  I still put in a tough fight, but also know my weaknesses and where I have to work harder and get stronger.

Overall finish at North Star GP: 27th GC, 6th place in Sprinter competition.  It was a great race and felt strong.

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Knoxville, TN- USA Pro Nationals

Now I’m in Knoxville, Tennessee getting ready for USA Pro Road Race Nationals on Sunday, June 25th.  This is a race where I can really shine and show what I have as a cyclist.
I’ll also race USA Pro Criterium Nationals on July 2nd in Louisville, KY.
Then after these 2 races I’ll be heading back to Europe for the second round of big euro racing. I’m happy to be coming back stronger and hungrier for the remainder of the season.  The past few months have been a big learning experience and I’m feeling great and super strong going forward
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Racing in Europe and Cramping

Over the past couple months I have been in Europe experiencing the infamous racing of the Spring Classics. Traveling between France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and finally to Germany from where I left to fly back to the USA. It was a challenging time of hard racing, travel and training, but I enjoyed it so much and experienced a lot that can not be experienced racing in the US. We raced in Women’s World Tour races, which are the highest level of professional racing for women. I was riding alongside world champions and national champions. The races were faster and the courses more difficult than anything I had ever experienced. But this was perfectly suited for me. I am an endurance rider through and through, so the faster, longer and harder the better.

At the end of March we raced 3 races in Belgium, I learned so much and my 66th place at Gent-Wevelgem proved that I can hang with the big dogs.

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After the block of racing in Belgium, my team and I drove back across France to Bordeaux where my Costa Rican teammate and I stayed with my director. We had 3 weeks of training (which included lots of workouts and weekend races with junior men… very fast) before the next big race in Belgium.  I was feeling great for the first 2 weeks and crushing workouts and races.  The plan was that at the after this training block we would go to Belgium April 21st to race the 23rd and then travel to Czech Republic for a 4 day stage race.  After which I would fly back to Canada.

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However life did not go according to plan.

The 3 weeks of hard training became 2. The Saturday (1 week) before Liege-Bastogne-Liege- April 23rd (a women’s world tour race), I began having muscle cramping in my legs. My first thought was OH SHIT, because I am not a stranger to this feeling, and when it comes on I know its not good and will last more than just 1 or a couple days. So I quickly went into fix it mode and did my best to rest my legs, get hydrated, and eat super clean with no sugar or carbs at all.

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I was getting better and feeling recovered by Thursday, but the 14hr road trip on Friday to Belgium did not help my situation. I arrived that night tired and legs very fatigued.

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So unfortunately, despite all my efforts to feel good and race well on Sunday, it was not meant to be and I could not finish the race. I started and almost immediately started having cramping. I pushed and pushed and tried to get it to stop, but my body was done and telling me to rest. So at 25km (40min) I pulled over and got in our team car. It was a very difficult moment and quite heart breaking. Because I had worked so hard for the entire month and was so focused, but to end my race like this was so disappointing.

After the race, my director sat down with me and we decided the best option for me was to fly back home to New Mexico and recover and find the solution to this problem. He saw the difficulty I was going through all week and knew this was not the simple cramp that passes after a day. It was a week of struggle, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

So I got on a plane in Frankfurt Germany the next day and flew back to New Mexico.

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That was last Tuesday (April 24th). I immediately went to Urgent Care for testing and got to work contacting all the doctors or connections I knew to try and get advice or find a specialist that could help with this cramping issue. The first constructive piece of advice, and what I had already heard before, was to consider a muscle biopsy. This would give more indepth information into how my muscles work and if there could be any myopathies or diseases involved that cause me to go through this.

Over the course of the week I tried to get the best rest I could as my legs were still having some signs of cramping. I took 4 days completely off the bike and just doing some light swimming. And also doing a 3 day juice cleanse. This helped flush out my system and clean the toxins still left in my kidneys from racing and training. I really love doing juice cleanses (when I’m not in hard training) because I can get a reboost to my system and not have to think about my diet or food. Its all laid out for me and I just get to drink the amount I feel I need. I debated going for 5 days, but Sunday I began to feel a bit drained and for best muscle recovery after the cramping I needed some protein, so I began eating some avocado and fruits. That was also the first day I tried riding and it felt really great. Given, it was only 20 minutes, but still, sitting on the bike and pedaling was amazing!

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So of course just as my legs are starting to come back to normal I get news that my biopsy is scheduled. Well I should say starting to, as Monday I had a slight cramp while on the rollers, but it also became a good thing for the biopsy.

Yesterday I went in for surgery and the biopsy was completed along with a kidney ultrasound to see if there is any irregularity in my kidney size or function.

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Now I’m in recovery and taking it easy for a couple days as my muscle heals. It is quick recovery so I am looking forward to getting back to my active life of training and racing soon.

It has been a crazy couple weeks and as I lay in the hospital I couldn’t help but think how it was May 2nd and I was supposed to be in Paris. But instead I was in the hospital in New Mexico about to go into surgery. Crazy how life works and just when you think you’ve got it all planned out it all changes in a second. I’m grateful to be able to have this testing done though and hopefully get some answers. I’ve been having this problem off and on for about 3 years and still don’t know what causes it and why.

This is a big step forward for my career, and now that the test is over I can focus on my recovery and getting back to training for my next race.

Finding the Positive in the Negative; Cramps, Iron Deficiency, Fatigue

So many times in life something happens that we think it’s negative and will ruin the plan we have set for ourselves. When in reality, it actually is something positive. Where we don’t realize until after the dust settles and learned the lesson, that this event or change was something good for us.

I experienced this just last month as I was finishing up my training in Tucson and getting ready to travel to Europe for racing. For a couple weeks I was feeling fatigued and tired in my cycling, I was having difficulty with intensity and pushing at a harder pace. Nothing had really changed in my routine, I was still taking my vitamins and rejuvenate, getting rest, and eating healthy. I had just finished a large block of training and so thought I was probably still tired from that. My last day in Tucson I tried to go for a hard group ride, but without surprise I couldn’t stay with them when it started to go faster. I was mad at myself and frustrated with the extreme tiredness I was feeling.

When I arrived in Santa Fe I began having some leg cramping and decided this was my body saying it needed rest. So I decided to take the rest of the week off the bike and have a blood test done. The test showed my Iron levels were extremely low (lower then I’ve ever had). My running coach from high school said this is almost certainly the reason for my fatigue. I’m not vegetarian, but I was eating almost no red meat over the winter. So I began taking a supplement for Iron, eating red meat everyday and only doing some light swimming to relieve the cramping.

By the end of the week I was feeling better and ready for my travels ahead.

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I arrived in Europe and only had some slight cramping, but was able to work it out quickly. Over the next couple weeks I had my team training camp in Spain and a big international level race of 4 days. The camp went amazing and I felt strong and revived. In the race I was the best for my team and improved my finish each day, arriving 18th on the 3rd day.

 

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When I arrived in Santa Fe I was nervous, scared, and frustrated with all that was going on with my body. I know I was eating more sugar than usual (because of the tiredness, my body was craving sugar), and this was one of the causes for the cramping. But besides that I was doing everything good for my body. This time of feeling down and tired felt so negative and like I wouldn’t be as strong as I know I should be. I was especially nervous for Spain and that I would begin riding with the team and in the race and struggle to keep up.

Now looking back, I feel this was a slap in the face and an awakening in so many ways.

-       The lack of intensity and tiredness telling me something was off internally.

-       The overall fatigue telling me to take it easy in training as I was potentially overtraining without adequate recovery.

-       The cramping telling me to rest and not keep digging.

I took the time to evaluate my problems and adjust what I was doing in order to come out better. And I have come out so much better. I am always having to remind myself that rest and recovery is so important. Sometimes it’s more important then actual training. Because as much as I know I can push myself, the body is also not a machine and needs rest and to be listened to.

Considering this period of turmoil, one thing that I was consistent with and know helped me to recover quickly is taking supplements and rejuvenate. I know if I had not been taking magnesium, essential fats, the mighty multi and most important the Rejuvenate, I would not have been able to recover in just a week from the fatigue. My body can feel depleted of energy and iron, but the base I have built by taking quality supplements allows my body to jump back quickly.

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There are so many elements and pieces to this puzzle in the life of a professional athlete. So that when just one piece is off the image can become skewed, but as long as the other pieces remain solid it doesn’t take much to make the picture complete.

Through this sport and through my life I am always learning and these are the lessons that at first I think will ruin me, but actually make me stronger.

 

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Italy and Belgium

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After Spain I traveled to Italy and spent the week training, visiting family and getting ready for traveling/racing in Belgium. On Sunday the 19th was Trofeo Binda. A Women’s World Tour race, and just 10km from my house. It was a top race and I saw the top women in the world riding on my home roads. I was disappointed to not be able to race it, but because my team did not come and was not listed for the race then I couldn’t either. Once a race is classified as UCI (international), it has to follow a whole other set of rules and thus becomes much more strict on who is able to race.

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The day after the race I traveled to France and my team director picked me up to go to our house for the week. We are staying just on the France side and less than 5km to the Belgium border. Everyday we have ridden to Belgium and on the race course for the race this coming Sunday.

 

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Wednesday was the first race here and a UCI race also, but not World Tour. On the levels of race status the top is World Tour, then UCI, then Continental/National.

I felt good and was excited to see what I could do in my first big Belgium spring classics race. The first part went very well, but on the first cobble stone climb, and also most important, I got pushed while going around someone and then blocked by another girl. So I found myself less than halfway up standing like a chicken on the chopping block. I got back on as fast as I could and pushed myself all the way up as hard as I could. But at that point the front of the race was so far ahead and not possible to jump across. So I was stuck behind with a slower group and not happy about my finish.

But as my director said, it’s my first experience and learning how Belgium racing works. It’s technical and tough. Not just about pushing up the climb, but being in front at the start of it and riding in the right spot too.

I am looking forward to Sunday and know I can do well.

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Tour de Valencia

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4 Days, 4 Stages.

This was the team’s first race of the year, and my first big race.

Day 1- Team Time Trial, 5km.

I was planning for an individual time trial, but found out the evening before that it was a Team.  We were not ready for this as only 2 girls (myself included) had time trial bikes.  The plan from our director basically put me and my teammate on the front pushing the majority of the time.  It was a hard effort on my part, but going against big 6 woman teams it was hard for us to contend.

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Day 2- 110km Road Race  – 31st.

A solid finish considering there were a couple tough mountain climbs and that is my weakness.  I finished in the 2nd group with a couple of the other top sprinters from other teams.  It was also 32 degrees/90 degrees, so a really hot day considering its just spring.

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Day 3- 87km Road Race-  18th.

Good top 20 finish.  The 2 climbs were not that hard and I was able to stay with the front group no problem.  The last 20km were a drag race for positioning and getting set up for the finish.  My sprint is strong but in the final 400m I was not in the best position and got pushed back, I always want to be better and know I could have been top 10.  Learning and have to shake off the cobbwebbs after a long winter of not racing.

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Day 4- 97km Circuit, 4 laps- ??

I’m not sure what my finishing place was.
The last stage was all flat and a great race for me. VERY FAST.  I felt great and was in great position for the finish.  Unfortunately, with 6km to go 2 girls crashed in front of me and as a result so did I.  I was not hurt so got up right away fast, but it was too close to the finish and so I couldnt get back in the race.

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Overall it was a good first step for the season and I am very positive for my fitness and how I feel.  It’s just the beginning of a long season ahead.  With a top 20 finish I am looking forward to what is to come.

 

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Also, during camp there was a camera crew and journalist shooting for a documentary.  The woman is working on a story to show the difficulty of a top UCI level women’s team to compete and succeed in a sport that is so divided from men’s cycling.  It will be shown on Radio Canada, one of the largest Canadian TV networks.

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End of Winter Training, Off to Europe

First off, I apologize for the delay in posting.  When training volume gets higher and then I have to travel a lot I don’t have much free time.  So here is a big post with lots of pictures and what I’ve been up to the past couple months.

 

Arizona

From the beginning of December until mid February I spent in Arizon training to be ready for this year. I took 2 weeks away over Christmas and New years. It was a great couple months and a lot of hard work.

My time in Arizona finished with a feeling of fatigue and a bit of delusion for why I didn’t have the spark I usually do. I was able to ride long amounts of endurance, but when in a group ride I really struggled when the pace picked up or with intensity.  When I went back to Santa Fe I got a blood test for my iron and discovered that it was incredibly low and the lowest I’ve ever had it.  So I immediately started taking an iron supplement.  Iron is so important, and since I don’t eat much red meat and was training at such a high level my iron continued to drop and I felt more and more fatigued. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before and the tired and lack of power in my body was quite worrisome.  But I’m glad I figured it out.

The weather was up and down all winter, and now as I was leaving it was holding out with some warm sunshine. I packed up all my stuff and headed back to Santa Fe on Feb 15th. It was a long drive, but I was also looking forward to upcoming travel that made me excited but also nervous. My legs are pretty much allergic to travel, so I always fear cramping when I go on long trips in a car or plane.

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Santa Fe

Arriving in Santa Fe I started having some cramping right away, so I knew this would be a week of rest and recovery before Europe. I was not worried for my fitness as I have a HUGE base from this winter’s training. So I took this time to swim, unpack my car, see friends/family, and pack my bags for a long 2.5 months in Europe.

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Europe

I left February 21st and began the LONG few days of travel. Going through Atlanta to Toronto, then spending the night there. The next day flying out of Toronto to Montreal and getting a flight from there to Paris. The overnight flight didn’t involve much sleeping, but I tried getting up and walking around as much as possible. Arriving in Paris our team soigneur (massage therapist, and overall helper) picked up me, Sarah, and Frederique (my teammates from Canada).

We drove in a tight van 6 hrs to Bordeaux. There we arrived at our director’s house. It’s a small farmhouse in a VERY small town (like 5 houses), and beautiful countryside. The next couple days we relaxed, rode, and had a team presentation for the smaller national team, DN17, that we attended as well.

The first evening, I got a small massage from David and I think that helped with cramping. I still had some cramps after the massage, but the next day on a small ride I didn’t have any so I was positive. It was the following day on a longer ride that the cramps came in full blast. At first I held back and thought to do the relax thing for them. But soon realized that they were in the cramping “zone” where I have to “break” them. It’s a strange feeling, but the only way the cramp stops is if I do slow pedaling and really hard pushing (big gear). I also did some intervals and it makes them go away. The cramping traveled all over my legs, going from my glute (butt), to my quad, then the other quad. At home I relaxed but knew to really get the fatigue out I had to get back on the bike and spin. So I got on the rollers and sure enough my other glute cramped before all was complete. I knew that that was a turning point. Unfortunately I was once again feeling nervous for ANOTHER round of travel.

The next day we got in the car at 6:30am and drove all day (11hrs) to Peniscola, Spain. It’s a small town on the coast. It was a LONG drive, and unlike the plane, I couldn’t get up and stretch/walk as much. So as often as I could I got out for a little bit. But by the end I was feeling the drive fatigue and sitting. My legs were not happy and even started cramping a little in the last hr. So as soon as I arrived I asked to get on rollers, and to David for a little massage. I took it easy on the rollers and just listened to my legs. My quad started wanting to cramp at one point, but I just got off and stretched it and then after it was ok. With the little massage also, in combination, it was my saving cure for this trip. The next morning I got on rollers again and despite some interesting sensations from my legs, they never cramped. I was cautiously optimistic. In the team ride I took the first bit super easy, but then soon realized I was in the clear and began to have some real fun.

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Spain Team Camp

It has been amazing here. There are 2 teams, the DN17 developing girls team. And SAS-Macogep, the UCI pro women’s team. So about 16 girls in total. There is the director, Jean-Christophe, David, our siogneur, and a couple other people that are here helping out. It is an amazing set up and the support is so fantastic. I am very impressed and grateful to them all for the help. They are obviously experienced as the rides everyday are organized into times and efforts. I really like riding with this development team also, because these younger girls are very strong and growing in the sport. This big group makes the rides fun because we are all at different levels and specialties, so we push each other and have fun too.

The weather has been great. A bit cloudy the first 2 days and a little cool. And now 2 days with sun and warmer. Still wearing long sleeves everyday, but shorts haven’t been a problem.

I am feeling great and having so much fun. I feel my endurance and strength on the bike and have no problem with efforts or being with the group or guys. I am so excited to race next week and for the whole season. The first race for the team will be the Tour di Valencia. Here in Spain starting next week on the 8th, Wednesday.

Tour di Valencia- 4 Stages, 4 Days- TT, RR, RR, Circuit. I will post more information and about my results and how it goes.

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Eternal Summer, Training in Tucson

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For the past 3 weeks I’ve been in Tucson, AZ training and getting ready for the 2017 season.  My base miles are building and I feel stronger everyday.  It’s been a tough couple weeks but I also know it’s getting me ready to race hard.

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The weather has been pretty much perfect and I’ve been enjoying the short sleeve weather.  Mt. Lemmon is a great mountain for hill training.

I’ve also been using Redington pass for training, it’s a dirt road that goes up and over this 5 miles climb.  A tough ride, but my coach says it’s my weight training for strength.  As I ride up I sure feel that, and know there is no one doing this kind of training.IMG_1397IMG_1316

Last week I met with one of my personal sponsors to take pictures for their company and to use in marketing.  Integrated Health is an amazing company based out of Tucson.  They provide me with supplements that help me recover and keep training hard.  There is nothing else like it on the market and the quality is beyond anything in stores.

DSC_0323DSC_0223DSC_0127DSC_0294DSC_0100IMG_1386This Thursday I leave the winter paradise to spend 10 days in snowy and cold Canada.  I’ll spend my holiday there and have a little rest and trainer time.  Then beginning the new year I’ll head back to Tucson for the January/February portion of my training.  And it’s sure to be a challenge. ;)

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