Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stage Two - Time Trial pains

Today's time trial was an event I was looking forward to. Generally when people detest time trials - I love 'em. The Race of Truth as they call it.

Anyhow, today was exciting. The course was challenging. A 10km slightly uphill start followed by 7km of rolling course. The headwind total was out of control on the last 7km. I misjudged my plan, going into the race I wanted to go strong for the first half (leave it all out on the hill) and then hold it steady for the last 7km (which seemed mostly downhill).

The headwind changed everything today - it was all I could do to survive after yesterday's tough effort.

The first part went super fast and before I knew it I was on the flat stretch. This is where I bonked. The headwind just about killed me...

All in all I was tired today. Day 2 of the 3 day stage race. I pushed as hard as I could. I think my time was alright compared to the 17.6km time trial I do with the Oakville Cycling Club.

I am pretty nervous about stage 3 - it looks like there are three 10km climbs. I am excited to be here racing and getting some amazing training in while doing so. Tomorrow's race I will race hard, try to stay with the pack as long as I can and then push hard right to the top of the mountain!

Stay tuned for the grand finale!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stage One - Done!

I probably look a little nervous here - and I was...more nervous than any other race this year. When we drove into Killington last night I was pretty intimidated by the hilly area...I mean - yeikes!

I was also a little nervous about the first 10km of the 30km lap - all downhill followed by a gradual 10km climb to the QOM (Queen of the Mountain Sprint). But, bike was working, body was working - so far, so good!

Here's today's 30km loop climbing profile:

37 women started today - a good sized field for a senior 3/4 women's race. The sky was full of grey clouds that let down a few drops here and there but nothing to cause a fuss over.

The race started off quite calmly - especially for a descent of 10km. Surprisingly a headwind on the way down actually slowed down the pack. There was a lot of chatter going on so I decided to mix things up a little and I launched an attack about 5km into the race. This attack strung out the field but the wind was so nasty that I didn't open up a gap or anything. I humbly slid back into the field and tried to conserve some energy. I truly enjoyed it though - riding in a pack is so exciting...I just love it!

At the bottom of the 10km descent we turned right onto a single lane bridge and into the start of the 10km "gradual climb". Things picked up a bit so I positioned myself nicely in about 10th or 13th spot. The field was pretty good. At one point I thought I was done for when the girl beside me overlapped a wheel and the hit the girl's wheel in front of her. She was able to keep her bike upright and when I commented "nice recovery!" she said "Must have been all that cyclocross I did last fall!"

I had a giggle (or was it a sigh of relief) and proceeded to mash in my 53-tooth big chain ring up this gradual climb.

The 5km mark came, the 1km to go mark came and I blew. Things were going so well - I just came off the back as the pace grew.

Alas - the race was not over - in my mind, it was put PLAN B into action. Chase, chase and go go!

I chased and chased. A girl caught me and we worked together for 10km, echeloning and pulling 10-20sec pulls and then rotating through. With 20km to go we caught three other riders. We then worked as a group of five. I stayed with these girls up the climb (but it hurt!).

The last 10km was excited, these girls were not giving up! They kept pushing the pace. With a kilometre to go I knew we had a sprint on our hands. I drafted a wheel and then jumped with 500 metres to go. I held it until about 200 metres to go and this lady passed me. I had someone on my left and she was inching towards passing me but I nipped her at the line.

I smiled as I crossed the line and this group of five gave each other a floating high five and congratulated each other on finishing.


It was tough - but it was so worth it. Results will be posted later today. Also - lots of Ontario girls out today - Stevens, 7th Groove/Reform and Nanoblur...will let you know how they did too!

Tomorrow's stage is the time trial - my favourite event. 17km of pure pain! The race of truth as they call it... stay tuned!

Killington Stage Race: Pre-race!

A few weeks ago I registered myself for the Killington Stage Race May 29, 30 and 31. I got a lot of strange reactions from people - mostly "Why are you doing that race?"

A lot of the reactions were followed by things like "there is a super killer climb in that race" to "those racers in Vermont are fast!" to "it's a tough, tough race."

I've never done this event. In fact, it was around in the nineties but this is the first year it's come back in ten years!!! Before it used to be a 5-day stage race during the Labour Day weekend - back in the days when Coors Light was racing. (I remember going to this race and watching my Dad do it and gushing over bumping into Roy Knickman and Alex Steida back at the condos while they unloaded their bikes!) I was a big fan and only 12 or 13 at the time...

But even though I didn't race it I knew it was a tough race - just looking at the faces of those riders climbing the final climbs - it looked heinous!

So, I guess I am here for a bunch of reasons:

The first - to challenge myself. The second - to see what happens. The third - for good training.

To be honest, I was a little intimidated at first after the reactions I got. I mean - who I am? I am really in my first season back of racing. I've only got 3 races under my belt this season so far - the Good Friday (DNF), Calabogie (45km - 2nd place) and the Niagara Classic (46km - 15th place) - plus two time trials and 4 mid-week crits. But that's it!

Training has been going very well - considering the balance of life, work, team, writing and important loved ones - I seem to be holding it altogether and adapting to this huge transition of additional miles and time devoted to racing. (And it's been a huge transition I tell you - try racing a Tuesday nighter after 11 hours at work and six hours of sleep!)

Strangely/oddly enough - I was okay that there was going to be three stages:

Stage one: 60km circuit race
Stage two: 17km time trial (mostly up hill I believe!)
Stage three: 100 km road race (1 lap)

I was intimidated again when I finally got my hands on the race technical guide four days before the race. The recommended gearing for this race was a 39x27. Check out the last stage's lap profile for the 100km route. The last 40 km are all slightly uphill!!! Argh...

I started to freak out a little bit - I mean, I don't even have a cassette with that kind of gearing. I made a bunch of phone calls and finally a quick email to my favourite bike shop (GEARS BIKE SHOP) in Mississauga assured me they could help me out and get me all set up. It was true - ordering a cassette like this in a flat-area like Ontario (well, flat compared to Vermont) turned out to be more of a challenge - especially with all of this good weather - supplies are high in demand and low in quantities!

So - despite all these fears and obstacles, somehow I have managed to get myself to Killington, Vermont on Friday May 27 in 9 hours from the Toronto area (left at 8:15 arrived around 5:15 or so...).

I made it to registration. I went grocery shopping with my Mom, we drove the first stage's course and drove home on the final climb for Monday's race. We made my favourite pre-race dinner (Spaghetti!) and got to bed at a decent hour.

I was pretty nervous Friday night - but I was also excited...who knew what the weekend would hold? All I knew was that I was just going to do my best, believe in myself and look to the future. Everything helps you towards your next race...

Stay tuned for stage one's report...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Criteriums were my thing back in the day when I was at the top of my game, I just love them. I love the speed, I love the game, I love the distance, I love cornering, the skill, the technique, the tactics .... A criterium, by definition, is a circuit race on a course that is less than 1 km. It is usually a square, or something that looks similar to a square, but it can also have more than 4 corners and my favourite race had 8 corners and was shaped like an infinity sign with sharp edges, so we would make right and left hand turns. I think the reason I love them so much is that I have some sprint ability and there are so many things to think about during the race that I forget how hard I'm working; need to make it to the front, ok, just do it. Need to catch a wheel, ok, just do it. Feeling good, ok, attack.

Most cities have a weekly crit series for training and I recommend them for everyone. For starters, you will ride much faster than you think you can, secondly it will quickly improve your bike handling skills, thirdly, you will meet new friends and riding partners. Mississauga Midweek Club has a learn to ride series on Monday nights, a kids series on Thursday nights, and on Tuesdays they have two races, the early race for the "slower" riders who average around 36 km/hr, and the "faster" race which goes over 40.

Last night was my first time out to these races in over a year, maybe even two, and my memories of them were that the speeds weren't all that fast, but as I lost fitness I would not be able to adjust to the changes in acceleration - well, last night was a real eye opener for me, and testament to not having stuck to a racing plan - funny how work and travel get in the way. I suffered, got dropped, and felt like a bag of nails had exploded in my lungs. On the plus side, I can only get faster, I have the experience to know what to do, I just need to start working hard, sticking to the plan, and have the confidence and patience to know that my sprint legs will come back. Easier said than done?

Since it is too hard to take pictures while riding at my maximum speed I don't have any, so attached is a picture from Canada Games taken by Murray McComb

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This Spring has gotten off to a great start in meeting a bunch of new women riders and I've had the pleasure of helping with several clinics for beginner riders and cyclists looking to refresh their skills as we head outside and start riding with friends and new groups. I was with the Gears Girls this past Saturday and they did great! They rode through cones, practiced signaling, shoulder checking, and drinking from their bottles while riding. What impressed me most was how well they did in trying to pick up a water bottle that was on the grass while riding their bikes; job well done! As I headed home from the skills session I started questioning the last time I went through these drills and realized that it's been awhile. I have been riding for some 15 years and believe that it is always good to go back to basics, so if you are like me and haven't practiced weaving around water bottles, riding along a painted line with only one hand on the bars while riding in a straight line, riding no hands, picking up water bottles, holding hands with a partner, touching your partners shoulder etc. then I suggest you head out to a quiet residential street and practice, and if you plan to race then practice touching your partners wheel while staying erect. What have you got to lose? It will only help make you a more solid rider, more comfortable, for confident, and when you see me out on the road it means you can wave hello while riding in a solid straight line! See you on the road, Petrina.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I'm thinking of doing a cleanse; anyone out there done a cleanse? I know there are lots of options, the Wild Rose one that clears your system of gluten, the lemon juice and chilly pepper one that seems to last forever and quite frankly sounds scary, the juice cleanse that surprised me by tasting better than expected, and a whole slew of others. The only one I've ever actually followed through on from beginning to end is the Wild Rose one as it doesn't limit calories, follows a lot of the Eat Clean philosophies, and can be quite tasty once you get the hang of the foods you can eat.

This is why I'm thinking of doing a cleanse - energy. I am tired of feeling tired; it might be the grey and rainy days we've been having, it might be the salty snacks I've been eating that are contributing to feeling bloated, but whatever it is, I feel I need to "reboot" and a cleanse is a good way of doing it. I don't believe in them for weight loss, but they do help to cleanse and clear the pallet and help end the bad habits, leading to more focused and smarter eating habits.

So, can anyone recommend a cleanse?

PS: The picture is of me buying Banana Bread in Hawaii last year, not recommended for a cleanse, but it is the only picture I could find on my computer with food in it. I do definitely recommend riding in Maui and a stop at this road side stop for warm, fresh out of the oven Banana Bread. It was very yummy and I carried 3/4 of the loaf in my jersey pocket for over 60 km; may not have looked all that appetizing at the end of the ride, but still tasted great!

Race leaders for Mississauga Marathon

Eat-Clean riders Melina Crosby and Leigh Hargrove will be riding with the lead marathon runner on Sunday, May 16th at the Mississauga Marathon in Ontario this weekend! They will be joined by teammate Wendy Morley who will actually be running the half. Stay tuned for results and Wendy's report soon!

The marathon will have cyclists paving the way for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place runners in order to alert pedestrians of the upcoming racers and to clear a path for the runners during Sunday's event.

It is a great honour for the girls to be riding their bikes in and being involved with such a prestigious event. You may be able to catch Mel who is also volunteering her time in the 10km event on Saturday night for the 1st place woman.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cycling camp story - in the press!

The cycling camp was a success and and was there to cover it. Check out the story here. Photo gallery coming soon!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Eat-Clean in the media! posted a series of photos from this week's mid-week crit - Eat-Clean Diet women's rider Leigh Hargrove was in the mix - image #6 - check it out! Woohoo!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mel's report: Midweek Cycling Club LTR

Midweek Cycling Club Learn to Race Clinic update…1st night

Being the team novice, I knew I had to get some experience under my belt before attempting a real race. So I decided to do the Midweek Cycling Club Learn to Race clinic. I had heard good things about the LTR clinic and knew friends who had done it in the past so I decided to sign up. My first night was awesome!

Overall, it was a big group of men, junior cyclists, and women. But divided up into ability levels, groups were smaller and more easily managed. Our two coaches were amazing and really encouraging. I must admit, I was a bit nervous when we did our initial lap of the course, but I got over that pretty quickly. The coaches took us through the course and showed us how to take the corners.

It was a pretty steep learning curve – can’t say I’ve done a lot of tight cornering at 30+kms/hr, but I felt good. One of the coaches – who’s name I can’t remember…I think Steve – was funny. He was riding next to me for about a lap and a half pointing at the spot he wanted me to ride in – pointing and yelling - getting me closer and closer to the woman in front of me. There was a lot of yelling and pointing for about half a lap, but I got the hang of it. When I finally recovered enough to tell him that it was my first night he laughed and said that he thought I had been there last year. Jumping right into it does help with the learning though.

We worked on cadence, sprinting, out of saddle stuff…all pretty cool. I felt good – really, good. Towards the end of the session we had one big group race – three laps all riding together. All 40 of us started together – the goal was to make your way from the back of the pack to the front of the pack. Of everything, that’s my biggest fear. Riding close front, back, and side to side…all squished together.

I was nervous the first lap, but by the second lap I made my way up about half way in the pack. Getting used to having someone pass by so closely will definitely take work. At one point, one of the coaches was working with someone else and yelled “that’s wide enough to fit a friggin’ house trailer through”. I thought they were talking about my butt; turns out they were talking about the amount of space between me and the rider next to me. Next thing I know, some young kid comes darting between the two of us. I just stared straight ahead and kept reminding myself to stay loose, breath, have fun, no white knuckles, etc.

One of the coaches (Rachel I think), rode next to me and had me get out of the pack and ride up to the front. Amazing how much the wind is blocked when you’re tucked away in the middle of the pack. But I was able to ride up the side and get to the front of the pack. Granted, we weren’t going that fast but it felt pretty cool making it to the front.

We ended the session with another race – this time there were 4 of us in my group. First lap was neutral, second was a race lap with a sprint finish. Once the race lap started, not knowing tactics, I started out on my own; but the coach corrected me and had me draft behind the front rider. It worked well because as we came into the final stretch I still had lots of energy to sprint to the finish and actually win the race. Granted, there were only 4 of us…and none of us were going that fast…but I felt like a rock star.

I had a great time last night and am super excited for next week. I can’t wait to see how I improve over the next 8 or 9 weeks. So cool…so cool!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Leigh: The time trial season begins!

The calm before the storm!

A training plan is important and meeting your daily and weekly and monthly training goals is just as important.

When the weather seems to disagree with your plan this often causes a dilemma. Do I train or not train? Do I go or just stay home and do my workout indoors? Do I skip my workout? Do I risk the weather?

Wednesday night's training called for the Oakville Cycling Club's first time trial event of the 2010 season. A time to go out and do a long, hard effort.

I looked out the window last night and the sky did not look promising. The forecast called for thunder storms and the wind was definitely a blowing.

I emailed the club organizers and they said they were going for it. I decided that perhaps the weather 50km away would be better than the weather in my neighbourhood. It turned out I was right - somewhat - and I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in Moffat, Ontario to a non-raining environment.

I arrived early enough to chat with club president Robert Narejko and actually sign up for my new club membership with the Oakville Cycling Club. I then had time to realize that my old-school time trials bars no longer work with my new bike set-up so I just got ready to do a "sans aero" time trial! Preparation is everything - it pays to come prepared - in every way. I admit, I wasn't as prepared as I could have been...

I got in a good warm up and headed over to the start line where I took this picture above! The steam was coming of the ground and the sky was turning an odd colour - the calm before the storm! Just as we lined up for the start it started to pour and the first 5 minutes of the race was done in an all-out downpour followed by a pretty wet experience of rain, rain and more rain!

Still - you must focus in a time trial and just do your thing and ignore everything else - focus on the effort. The Oakville CC's course is pretty nice - only four corners (all right-hand turns) and fairly flat with a few rollers on each stretch that mix things up pretty nicely.

Being the first time trial of the season I just wanted to go out and go hard! I kept my heart rate between 180-182 for 32 minutes and I was pretty happy to get my muscles warmed up to a hard continuous effort.

Pretty soon the pain was over and the deed was done - training goal met for the day!

I love the social part of club time trials - after a hard effort you get to chit chat with fellow cyclists and relish in your effort. After tonite's effort we hung out (soaked and somewhat chilled), read over the results, prizes were handed out and the night was over!

It was a good time. Oakville CC will be hosting them twice a month on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Their schedule can be found here and I believe the event is open to members and non-members!

I'm really looking forward to this summer and doing club events and rides with the Gears Girls as well as the Oakville Cycling Club time trials and doing some crits with the Midweek Cycling Club.

The Eat-Clean Diet Women's Cycling Team will be posting stories and blogs all season...stay tuned for more tales from the big ring...