Sep 26, 2012

The Unofficial, Unsanctioned Social Media Jersey competition

A month ago, the Unofficial, Unsanctioned Social Media Jersey competition was presented to the world by cycling fans Sarah and Dan.  They raised over $3500 in prize money, all donated by supporters of womens cycling from around the world.  Over 4500 individual votes were cast over a two week period, and 11 winners were named. 

I shot high for the victory, and thanks to over 1200 votes, landed in 2nd place, next to British rider Emma Trott. 

The whole concept of the jersey is neat.  Sarah and Dan started it and the fans made it happen.  Fans donated, fans chose, and a fun new way for everyone to participate in women's pro cycling was proven successful.  Watching the poll stats was exciting, and a little healthy and friendly competition between voters and candidates made the competition fun, meaningful, and interesting for everybody. 

Apart from the bragging rights and not-to-be-turned-down-because-we-all-need-to-eat prize money, the coolest thing about the competition was its repercussions.  The amount of added visibility that every rider gained, as well as the blogs, websites, fan pages and Twitter streams everyone discovered made the U.U.S.M. Jersey competition a win-win-win situation for everyone, and their cousin, and neighbour, and... 

Second place, in the race for the world's first ever Social Media Jersey.  Yeah, I'm stoked.  Thank you everyone!

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Sep 24, 2012

World Championship Road Race 2012

Alright, let's start with the important part: the winner, is Marianne Vos from the Netherlands.  The hometown girl crushed everyone and suprised no-one, and impressed all who followed the race.  Congratulations Marianne, the new World Champion.  Seriously.

The elite women started the 8 lap-130km race at14h30, after the U23 men.  We were the lucky ones.  We had watched the men race the course clad in armwarmers and some even with legwarmers, but the afternoon sun brought comfortable racing temperature for us.

Thousands of spectators lined the course as we were called on the stage to sign-in in front of bright flashes and rolling cameras.    The big moment that I had been aiming to ''peak'' for during the last couple of weeks was about to arrive.  The days and hours leading up to the race had seemed to drag on.  12 days earlier, I had learned I would be part of the team representing Canada.  I had done all I could to prepare for the moment...
The peloton was nervous from the start.  There were several close calls but at the end of the first lap there was a huge crash that swept across the road.  The pile-up was massive.  I was lucky, and managed to avoid being part of the carnage. I did get caught behind the tangled-up mess however.  I threw my bike over the barriers and told a man to grab a hold of it.  I hopped over and took my Orbea back, and threw it over the fence a second time, but, ahead of the small mountain of women and bikes.



I worked with some other ''survivors'' and got back to the main group.  Coming up to the 5th lap my legs didn't co-operate in the Cauberg.  They didn't have the punch they needed, that I wanted, and that I've known on better days.  I felt a bit like my toy robot Alfie when he was running out of batteries...I still worked, but I was a little sluggish.  Hey, it happens.  It's not so great on the day of the World Championships though.

I finished the race, working together with Miriam Bjørnsrud from Norway.  We got time cut.  Let's be honest, when you're off the back, it doesn't matter what your time is.  It's not a Gran-Fondo, it's not a pay $50 dollars and ''Come-and-do-our-Challenge'' event, even though those are great.  We finished because we felt like it, because it's a super opportunity to get to go to Worlds and represent our nations, and it feels great to be cheered on by the spectators.  It's not what I was aiming for, but it's okay.

The season is done and I'm lucky to have made some new Swiss friends who were kind enough to bring me to Switzerland where I'll visit with my Dad and explore the area around St. Gallen for a few days before heading back to Canada.  This has been a long season, with lots of ups and downs, and a season that I wouldn't have given up for practically anything.

Thank you to Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, all of our sponsors, Cycling Canada, Conseil du Sport de Haut Niveau de Québec, my coach Pascal Choquette, and the Canadian company, Nuheat for your support this year. 

I have a bit of time off, and then I'll be starting to gear up for 2013.  I've learned a lot this year, accumulated a lot more experience and know-how, and am totally pumped to make 2013 even greater.  Let's see what we can do...! :) :) :)

Sep 21, 2012

Maple Leaf: From Tielt-Winge to the Cauberg, a Team Effort

A couple of days ago, an idea was born, and I was given a task, some supplies, then left to get to work.

I carefully measured out a giant Maple leaf on some sheets of cardboard, making sure to create them to be as symmetrical and proportioned as possible.  I took this challenge seriously.  It's the Maple Leaf, you don't mess with that kind of thing.

Bruno, one of our mechanics, helped trace my original version out on a second piece of cardboard and we cut it out.  Then I gave our creations away.  I didn't know where they were going, or who would take them...I just had faith in their destiny.  (Hokey?  No, this is the kind of stuff that got me high 90's in my 9th grade, and only religion class.)

The next morning I saw this outside.  And in the afternoon, I saw my leaves crushed up and smeared with red and white, waiting at the side of the road to be collected by the garbage men.  I was almost sad. But I suppose they lived out their lifespan. 
Now, after pre-riding the course, I think I know what mandate my special leaves had.  Check out what the Canadians, and the rest of the world will be riding over, on the legendary Cauberg climb in Valkenburg, Netherlands.

Talk about a DREAM COME TRUE.  My name, LEX and those of my teammates, in huge letters amongst tons of maple leaves, all in red and white.  At Worlds.  Wow.  I heard the paint isn't excatly washable either, so I don't think it will come off any time soon. 

This isn't me, but it's somebody who appreciates a good paint job when they see it
To whoever made this magic happen, thank you!

Sep 19, 2012

VOTEZ POUR LEX! Le maillot des médias sociaux

Le maillot des médias sociaux!

Suiviez vous mes mises-à-jour et photos Faceboook , Twitter (@lex_albrecht) et mon site web pendant le Tour de l'Ardèche? 

Votez ICI pour moi dans le concours pour le premier Maillot des médias sociaux de l'histoire!

C'est un concours fait par deux supporteurs du cyclisme féminin, Sarah et Dan.  Ils viennent de la Grande Bretagne, et le concours est ouvert à toutes les courreuses qui ont participé au Tour de l'Ardèche et 2 autres tours importants en Europe.  Tous les prix sont des dons des supporteurs du vélo féminin. 

J'aimerais bien le remporter, prenez un moment pour voter, et partager avec votre famille, vos amis et collegues!

Merci pour votre vote!  Wahoooo!!!!

Lex s'entraîne à Québec!

Lex et son ORBEA Orca en bonne compagnie dans les rues de Québec!
Je m'entraîne souvent à la Ville de Québec.  Les routes urbaines sont belles, et les routes de campagne ne sont pas loin.  Il y a du plat, il y a des bosses en masse, et il  y a toujours des gens partants pour aller rouler en gang!  Le Québec, c'est le paradis :)

Merci à Dominic Ogden pour le montage.  Je vous invite de consulter son profil LinkedIN. Voici un autre exemple de son travail: www.ideealiste.com/?langue=en

Sep 18, 2012

Skeptical That the Evening Ice Cream Business is Good

It's dark out, almost 9pm, the thermometer outside reads under 10 degrees celcius.  But the ice cream truck is still chiming away down the street in Tielt-Winge, Belgium.

The dogs next door are barking.  And barking.  And barking.  Nobody knows why.  But we're not worried because for the past 3 years since the Canadian National Cycing team has set up Euro-base here, the dogs have done the same.  It's just, ''normal''.  I'm not used to it yet though.

Earlier on today, after a long warm-up section of my ride, I tried taking a short cut to the spot where I wanted to do my intervals.  Short-cuts here rarely turn out short.  It was a long-cut.  I should have known.  The small roads are so twisty, and windy, and littered with intersections that it is easy to lose one's bearings.  I lost mine. 

My new favorite food is brussel sprouts.  I'm not sure how long this trend will last for but I have a feeling that it is far from going out.  An excellent way to work up a good appetite for them is by taking ''short-cuts'' through small Belgian roads.

I watched my teammates Joëlle and Rhae tear it up at the World Time Trial Championships today on the TV.  All of the juniors, the U23 men and the female elite athletes watched together in the living room of the base's ''appartment'', where a fire was burning in the woodstove.  It was kind of like a storybook setting.  Kind of.  But cooler.

And that, is about it.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning.  I'll be back on my Orbea to continue preparing for the World Championships in Valkenburg.

Hey, and don't forget to vote for me HERE, please! For the Social Media Jersey.

Sep 16, 2012

Kermesse of The Year

I did my first, and only, and last, kermesse of 2012 in Belgium.  I would have liked to have done more but the season is pretty much at its end.

A kermesse is a race based around a festival with foodstands, circus rides, and lots of cycling fans.  In Belgium, there are several every week.  Most kermesse courses are around 5km long, and we race many laps, so the spectators can have a decent show. 

Often times the roads are narrow, sometimes as narrow as a bikepath, sometimes there are cobble sections and sometimes there is ''road furniture'' (they love this stuff over here) scattered around the course.
Pretty wild decor hanging from the celing at the race registration spot.  (Which is of course, a bar.  It's a kermesse, afterall)
Sign in! A kermesse costs 10 Euros to enter, and 5 Euros are given back upon return of the race plate and bib number.  A concept we don't use back in America.
Today, I raced a 16 lap, 82km race with my Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies teammate Leah Kirchmann, and fellow Québécoise, Karol-Ann Canuel as a training in prepartion for the World Championships.  We decided not to race in Team Canada kits, to stay off the radar.

Karol-Ann, Lex, and Leah. -Bruno Forrestier
I was in an early move that didn't stay away for more than a full lap.  Shortly after, Leah got away and with one other rider.  In the meantime, I covered every attack I could, in case another small group would bridge up to my teammate.  It proved to be a tough task, but I managed.  It was also good positioning practice for me, because I knew I had to stay up at the front of the hyper dynamic group at all times. 

Lex Albrecht covering moves and taking care of business while Leah Kirchmann was off the front with another rider.  -Bruno Forrestier
On the final lap I decided to take the lead through the corners to control the pace and not get gapped by other riders.  Towards the end I let a couple of other girls taste the wind a bit, and I stuck behind in their draft.  But, Karol-Ann tried to rescue me as I lost my 3rd wheel position just before the finish, because the bunch sprint for 3rd was too much for me to handle and we both finished in the swarm of other racers.
Lex going first through the corners, peloton trailing behind. -Bruno Forrestier
Leah stayed away for the entire race, and just barely lost the cat-and-mouse sprint game to her breakaway companion.  Impressive 2nd place Leah. 
Leah Kirchman in second place at today's Kermess
Our soigneurs wiped our legs, arms, and faces, fed us, (I'd better not get used to this, or I'm going to be in trouble back at home) and we rode back home to flush out our legs. 
Congrats Leah!
I'd call today a sucess!

Sep 15, 2012

WBR Raffle update

Being selected to represent Canada in Europe for the final month of the road racing season is an  honour.  Next week I will compete as a member of the Canadian National team alongside 4 other teammates. 

However, being ''across the pond'' poses a few difficulties for the World Bicycle Relief raffle.  Tickets are awaiting back in Canada that would not be in any of the weekly bonus prize draws that I could make in Europe.  So, everything is on hold for one month.  The final draw will be on October 17 instead of September 17.

GOOD OR BAD?

It's good!  Because, this adds one more month of bonus prizes for everyone.  Upon my return to Québec City, 6 names will be drawn at once to cover the weeks I have been away.  You still have time to get your tickets at Passion Vélos in Trois-Rivières, Qc, Mathieu Performance in Québec, Qc, from Cindy at Sutton Realty in Barrie, ON, online HERE, and in person wherever you see me.

Remember, the grand prize is a Kurt Kinetic trainer valued at $379.  Thank you for supporting World Bicycle Relief and my 2012 season, the biggest, and the best yet.

Sep 13, 2012

World Championship Team Selection



Cycling Canada has announced its final selection for the women's roster for the 2012 World Championships race, which will be held in the Netherlands on September 22, 2012. 

I am proud to announce that I have been selected and will be racing against the best in the world for title of World Champion.  The full roster is:

Lex Albrecht
Joëlle Numainville
Leah Kirchmann
Karol-Ann Canuel
Véronique Labonté

Three of us ride for Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies, four of us are from Québec, and all of us have been out to pre-ride the course in Limburg, The Netherlands.  The race is a pretty big deal, and I'm stoked to be a part of it and am looking forward to representing my country, helping my teammates, and appreciating the overall experience- I know it's going to be a thrill
Part of Team Canada pre-riding the World Championship course on a chilly day. -Bart Hazen

The Social Media Jersey

Have you followed my Faceboook posts and picture updates , my Twitter feed (@lex_albrecht) and my website updates during the Tour of Ardèche? 

You can vote for me HERE for the Social Media Jersey.

The contest was set up by Sarah and Dan, two huge supporters and fans of women's cycling.  All of the prizes were collected through fan donations, and the whole contest is flattering, fun, and thrilling, regardless of who wins.  Thanks Sarah and Dan, for your support.

The internet connection was bad in France but we did our best to supply a constant flow of interesting ''insider'' photos and news.

Thanks for your vote!



Next project: WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS in The Netherlands.  Keep following for the latest and greatest.

Sep 9, 2012


The drive to the race starts are long, but scenic at the Tour of Ardèche. 
Denise Kelly, the Canadian National Team director and Michel L'Hoest, our super-soigneur drive smoothly though and we always arrive on time and in one piece.
I raced Ardèche in 2009 and met Guy Astier who picked up my team (Team Québec) from the train station in Lyon to drive us to the race accomodations.  Guy remembered us and kept the vest we gave him.  Guy even brought us nougat (a specialty from Montelimar) and crême de marrons de l'Ardèche, another local treat.  Thanks Guy!
The beauty of the region, the hospitality of the people, and the excellent organization of the race was well apprecaited.  I'm proud that Leah won the Best Young Rider jersey, that Joëlle won the finish points jersey, and had 3 podium finishes, including a stage victory.  What a super race, I hope to be back again soon.
The podium truck at the finish of one of the stages

Cracked in the Descents

The Tour of Ardèche is probably one of my favorite stage races.  The volunteers and organizers are über enthousiastic and the race courses are absolutely breathtaking.  And absolutely hilly.  Which I like.  Half-like.  The long and gruelling uphill climbs are AWESOME.

After too many crashes this year and maybe a bit of mental blockage, and perhaps the heavy number 13 that I was wearing on my jersey, I was embarassingly nervous in the descents, getting shot out the back of the pack every time my HED wheels wanted to spin at breathtaking speeds around the sharp, steep corners of the Ardèchois descents.  The HED wheels wanted to but my head didn't agree.
I was most disappointed because as I fought to bridge the huge gaps I made, that were sometimes in the ''minutes'' and not even ''seconds'', I felt in such good form and fitness.  I would have rathered to have burnt those matches fighting the race up at the front.  Priority number one, get home and get my descending guts back, because they were there once, and I don't know onto which piece of asphalt they got smeared, but I'm getting them back.

I've been in this situation before for other reasons, and whenever I've had a goal that I've been this adament about reaching, I've done it. 

I'll be going downhill like nobody's business again.  Like Pierre Elliott Trudeau once said, ''...just watch me.''

Big Day: Two Stages, and Some Big Results


Go big or go home.  There was no fooling around on the third day of the Tour Cyclist Feminin International de l’Ardèche (Tour of Ardèche for short).

We woke up early, got the coffee rolling, and headed out to the start of the time trial course.  Most of the girls opted to not even use a time trial bike.  The course was less than 4km long, beginning with a steep uphill section, and then a long, technical descent.  The winner would have to be able to crank  it hard on the uphill, but most importantly, be the one who would have the most guts in the descent.  The steep downhill part was on narrow, twisty, village roads where whatever was behind the next corner was pretty much a surprise. 

Joëlle Numainville and Leah Kirchmann got 8th and 9th place respectively out of the 100+ starters.  Nice handling, girls!

But things didn’t end there.  In the afternoon we took to the start line again for the second road race and the fourth start of the Tour.  Joëlle ended up on second place by no means of chance.

Emma Pooley who had escaped on her own, kilometers before the finish got the victory that afternoon but Leah Kirchmann gave Joëlle an awesome leadout, and Joëlle won the group sprint.  Talk about textbook perfect teamwork.  What's more is that Joëlle is now in the sprinter's jersey, and Leah in the Best Young Rider Jersey.

Stage 1

Stage one:  The sun is shining and the crowds of volunteers, race staff, riders, and fans are huge.  It's the Tour Cyclist Féminin International de l'Ardèche, so all of that is normal.  But what is not normal is that kilometers after we roll off of the start line, my dérailleur is all over the place and my brake is rubbing but I notice that part too late.  I can't manage to make the front group, I keep getting shuffled back while I fight with my bike.

Better luck in the next stage?

Leah Kirchmann is the top Canadian finisher, having raced in the front selection and finishing in the top 10.  She's only seconds behind the leader in the Best Young Rider classification.  Can we take it?



Sep 4, 2012

Prologue: TCFIA

The last Canadian off, Joëlle raced to a 4th place finish in the Tour de l'Ardèche prologue.  I rode in the front seat of the Canadian team car that followed my teammate.  Denise Kelly, our team director navigated the short and fast route, while our soigneur Michel cried out to Joëlle for the enitre 3:18 that it took her to cover the course from the backseat. 



Impressive.  Stage one is tomorrow.

Sep 3, 2012

Welcome to Ardèche

The international collection of teams has arrived in Ardèche.  Our accomodations are not typical, we're staying in a four-star campsite.  I'm sharing a fully-equipped cabin with my Canadian and Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies teammate, Joëlle.  There are plenty of activities for the campers here, a small water park, tennis courts and soccer fields and access to a river in the gorge for kayaking.  Our priorities are different though, we're here to race.

This morning, my Optum teammates, Joëlle and Leah, came out for a spin to ''open up the legs'' a little bit before our short prologue race that will kick off the 6 day event this evening. 
Leah on her Orbea TT bike
One of my favorite places to ride is alongside the gorges, going through a tunnel, way above the river.  Check out this short video of one of the scenic roads Leah and I rode on before the race!

video


We returned and our soigneur, the famous Michel from Belgium, had plenty of food for us to complement what we'll eat for the week.  I'm not sure about the 4.5lbs of butter, at least it will make our fridge look full...
I'll make sure the coffee gets put to good use but I'm questioning what we're going to do with the butter!
Optum-orange Lazer sunglasses look cool even with the maple leaf kit!

Sep 1, 2012

TCFIA

Le Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche fait partie des 3 plus grandes courses féminines par étape de France.  Du 3 au 9 septembre, j'y serai  présente avec l'équipe national du Canada.  Mes co-équipières pour ce projet seront Leah Kirchmann, Joëlle Numainville, et Véronique Labonté.

Ce sera ma deuxième participation à cette course, et ma première expérience en 2009 a été un vrai plaisir.  Les gens de l'Ardèche étaient vraiment acceuillants et les parcours étaient tellement beaux.  J'ai hâte d'y retourner avec l'équipe national du Canada et mon vélo Orbea.

Suivez le Tour sur Facebook ici: https://www.facebook.com/pages/TCFIA-Tour-Cycliste-F%C3%A9minin-International-de-lArd%C3%A8che/111999542162639

Et sur Twitter: https://twitter.com/TCFIA @TCFIA

****

Je metterai aussi des nouvelles sur Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lex-Albrecht/137026036359510?bookmark_t=page

ainsi que sur Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lex_Albrecht @Lex_Albrecht

Frédéric L. Agneessens

Look at who Leah Kirchmann, Joëlle Numainville, Véronique Labonté and I met on our last ride in Belgium! 

We're heading to France tomorrow to race the Tour de l'Ardèche.  We took a spin on our Orbea bikes through the Belgian roads, and stopped in Leuven for a coffee.  Clad in our maple leaf jerseys, it was no secret that we were Canadians, and several people stopped to take photos of us.

The person we were most suprised to meet however, was Mr. Frédéric Agneessens, a Belgian businessman who was named the Honorary Consul of Canada for Flanders in February 2012.  He wore a Canadian flag pin proudly on his jacket. 
Leah, Véro, Mr. Agneessens, Lex, and Joëlle