Dec 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Lex in front of Santa's house

Lex in Santa's sleigh

Lex cross country skiing in Albanel, QC
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!  I went to Santa's house, sat in his sleigh to test it out, and fed his reindeer.  Over the holidays I will be cross training on some beautiful cross country skiing trails.  What a great way to enjoy the outdoors.  I hope everyone was good this year and won't be getting greasy chains in their stockings...!

Best wishes,


Dec 22, 2012

Des pensées pour la famille Houle

En enfilant mon kit de ski de fond préféré (des couleurs de la Norvège, car ça m'arrive d'imaginer que je suis Marit Bjoergen, surtout quand les conditions sont belles et quand mes quand skis rouges glissent bien), je ne pouvais pas m'empêcher de penser au cycliste Québécois Hugo Houle et à sa famille.  Non plus pendant que je skiais sur les pistes de Mont Ste. Anne.

Hier soir j'ai appris l'inquiétante nouvelle que Hugo Houle et sa famille cherchaient Pierrick qui n'était pas revenu à la maison après avoir quitté pour faire de la course a pied.

En me levant, je suis allée chercher les infos pour savoir s'il a été retrouvé, et j'ai appris la très triste nouvelle que Pierrik a été heurté mortellement par une fourgonnette.

Je fais partie d'un très grand nombre de personnes qui pensent à la famille Houle, et j'offre mes condoléances les plus sincères.  Perdre quelqu'un proche de nous est vraiment difficile, surtout un frère ou une soeur...

Voici un petit reportage de Véloptimum :

Dec 17, 2012

Christmas Gifts

Here is a list of ''on-a-budget'' holiday gift ideas for the bike lovers in your life.  Or for those who you want to strongly encourage kindling a new love for bicycles ;). 

1. Bike jewelery made by Carlee.  There's no better way to a girl's heart than with jewlery.  And you don't need to sell a disc wheel to afford these earrings.  (Two pair for $25!).  They're made by a girl named Carlee and sold at Bikeland Barrie (Barrie, ON, Canada's best bike shop).  Call 705-726-7372 to order yours.  I have some :)

2.  Bike t-shirt Dark Cycle Clothing has an impressive collection of original cycling-themed t-shirt designs.  I have a whole closet full of prints of different animals riding an assortment of bicycles.  They're printed on American Apparel cotton t-shirts, and are available for women, men, and kiddies.
3. Gingerbread men.  Listen, there aren't any cyclists who don't like fresh cookies or pastries.  Gingerbread men will please any one of them.  I made a whole pile of them and this morning, shipped them off to some lucky recipients!
4. Race DVD.  In the winter, the majority of us rack up at least a few hours in front of the TV on our bikes.  There's nothing more motivating than having a bike race playing while you pedal along, and you can't have too many races in your DVD collection.  Suggestion: New World Disorder (Freeride DVDs)  and World Cycling Productions where you can even get the 2012 Giro D'Italia and relive Ryder Hesjedal's amazing feat!

5. Cycling Apparel : Champion Systems gives you the chance to offer your loved ones the chance to wear the colours of some of the best known teams in America!  You can offer the same gear that Optum Pro Cycling wears while training and racing as a gift that is bound to be adored!  Check it out here. (How about arm warmers, a cycling cap, or new gloves?)
6. Bike tubes : Listen, if you're really on a tight budget, a cyclist can't really have too many spare tubes (size : 700 x 23 cc and ask for a presta valve), for $5 each.  If you want to go full out, throw in a couple of 16g CO2 cartridges (same price).   Sometimes practical gifts are the best.

7.  Embrocation.  The only bad weather is weather that you're not properly dressed for.  An essential element in any cyclist's winter or spring pre-ride bag is embrocation : warming cream.  Chamois Butt'r is a company that makes a super balm that I really love and it's on sale right now at Competitive Cyclist for under $15!
8. Coffee.  A gift certificate for the best java shops in your favorite cyclist's region, a french press coffee maker (so easy to travel with) or a stove-top espresso pot are no-fail presents that are useful and fun.

9. Magazine subscriptionCanadain Cycling and Pedal, are a couple of magazines that can be delivered to whoever is on your list.  There is something for everyone in each edition, and it's a gift that truly does last all year long.

10.  Nailpolish.  Okay listen this might be less of a suggestion for you and your loved ones, and more of a personal wish. It's tough to have too many colours of nailpolish.  I'm hoping to find some new colours of high quality 'vernis à ongles' in my stocking this year... If you send me some, I'll feature a picture of the end result online :).

Go big or go home.
  There are a couple of gifts that you're bound to be thanked rather profusely for.  The Compex electro-muscle stimulator has saved my legs time after time, and if I didn't have one, it would definitely be on my wish list.
The Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll trainer would also be high up on my list.  It's got the smoothest resistance unit in the industry and pivots with my bike so I have a more realistic feeling when I crank out my highest watts.  Plus, it doesn't strain my Orbea frame like a typical trainer would because it moves WITH it instead of against it.

Dec 12, 2012

Food Poisoning Adventure

If you don't follow on Facebook or Twitter, you missed being the first to see the news of the latest (not greatest, but not too shabby either) California adventure.  I went out West to meet some new riders and get some testing done at Athleticamps in Fulsom, CA.  We've got great facilities back at home, but why not explore a little bit when the opportunity presents itself.

I flew in to San Francisco, where apparently Rice-A-Roni isn't such a big deal anymore: street fare is the new hype. I wasn't hungry though and headed northbound and inland to NorCal where the next morning determined the fate of the rest of my stay.  I choose the breakfast panini over sugary, soupy oatmeal.  Bad choice.

Athleticamps gave me the opportunity to do a lactate threshold test.  They drew blood out of my earlobe at 3 minute intervals to measure and chart lactate concentration levels, while increasing the resistance that I had to pedal against.  Right up next, I was hooked up to a huge tube and a machine.  I wondered if I looked like Snuffy the Snuffalupagus, until I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror: nah, I just I looked like I was about to do a VO2 max test.
VO2 max testing at Athleticamps -Copyright: Alex Chiu 2012
It was during the Retul bike fit that signs of what was about to hit the fan started to show.  All I had to do was push 150 watts for a few seconds while the Retul camera picked up data from the sensors that were stuck all over my body.  The program mapped and measured my movents and the Athleticamps experts used the data to analyze and tweak my position.  But every effort between adjustments was harder and harder for me to complete, I was not feeling good.

At the end of the day, all of the ''evil'' came out of me, you know, the way it does when you have really bad food poisoning.  I spent the next days in bed.  Then, being as lucky as I am, I got 3 seats to myself so I could sleep comfortably on the whole flight home.  My first purchase in Québec: high quality probiotics to get my digestive system back on track.  I'm on the road to a full recovery now.  Going-going, back-back, to Cali-Cali wasn't exactly what I expected.  But it was another great experience to add to the bank.

Dec 5, 2012

Ready to get Back in the Air, Like Biggie Smalls.

Who likes Biggie Smalls?  Because: ''I'm goin', goin', back, back, to Cali, Cali'' in two days. 

I scored again this time because I have a connection through ORD, Chicago O'Hare.  It's on my list of favorite airports for 1 reason: the tunnel between the B and C concours.  I'll be frank: riding through it on the moving sidewalk is a trippy experience.  Good, clean fun and I'm all for it.
Chicago O'Hare Int'l Airport: The tunnel between the B and C concourses with flashing neon lights, mirros, and echo-y warning messages to watch your step
I still haven't hooked myself up with Blue Suede Shoes to wear when I fly (you know, like in Mark Cohn's song, Walking in Memphis).  I'll have my yellow Mavic shoes in my Thule carry-on bag though, along with some Look pedals, just in case my checked baggaged doesn't make the connection.  To do otherwise would be a serious beginner's mistake.

Dec 2, 2012

Happy Sunday: Get Ready for Monday!

It's that time of year: the snow has arrived in Québec.  Last weekend I hit the trails with my Orbea Occam 29er in Tremblant.  Snow was flying; it was one of those days where I could have ridden in the woods all morning, and then have swapped my mountain bike for my snowboard in the afternoon.  But I don't snowboard never know when you'll catch a darn edge that will send you crashing on your head, compromising the entire road-cycling race-season.  So I just ride my bike.

It's also the time of year where my coach gives me workouts that I can't do.  But that's okay, because every time I take a shot at one, I get better, and further into the training, and eventually I nail it on the head.  But to get there, I've got to give myself the time to recover between tries.  Like today, which is an easy day.  It's a day to give the pistons (and the head!) a break to get ready for another biggie tomorrow.  I pulled out my Compex electro-stimulator this morning as part of my recovery.  The Compex has served me pretty well in the past year.
My Compex Sport Elite electrostimulator gets the blood circulating and flushes out my legs without fatiguing them
Later on, I'll do one of my classic 'off-day' activities: length swimming.  One of the reasons cycling is so great is that you do it whenever you feel like it, whenever it works best for you.  Ideally, I'd be in that pool right now, but it's not open. Plus 3 points for cycling, minus 3 points for swimming.  In the meantime, I'm taking care of other business: New nailpolish job!
Lex's colour of the day: Gunmetal grey.  Everyone knows that pink is the best nail colour, but variety is a good thing.