Sep 26, 2013

Nailpolish for Worlds 2013

I'm in Italy.  I'm staying at Il Borghetto Andrea Tafi (Tafi is an ex-pro cycling champion) in Italy, with the Canadian National Team.  Today we drove to Florence to pre-ride the Worlds race course.  It's not going to be anywhere near easy.  But, it is a really, really cool course.
2013 World Championships manicure
Before getting on the plane to Italy I went and got my nails done with my friend Véro (check out her site here).  Last year I painted Candian flags on every nail, this year I decided to leave the painting up to the pros.  It was good for my brain.  Check it out, the mani-pedi matches the new Cycling Canada team kits.  ;)

Sep 23, 2013

Princess in the Parc

I did my final ride in the hills of Westmount and on the Mont Royal before taking off from Montréal to Pisa, Italy for the World Championships.  The race is on Saturday, September 28.  Here is a link to watch live : http://www.cyclingfans.com/uci-road-world-championships/live

I feel lucky because for the past month, my travelling was limited and I was at home in my own element, training.

Along with a bunch of leg-busting workouts in Montréal and at PowerWatts, I trained in Lac. St. Jean, Cantons de l'Est, and the Mauricie.   I raced the Green Mountain Stage Race and the Québec Championships. I finished it all off with the Défi VéloMag, two days before my departure.

I love the Défi VéloMag.  (It's not a race, it's a ride, and I don't say that mockingly.  It's true.)  The Parc de la Mauricie is my most favorite place to ride in all of Québec, and the Défi itself is plain awesome.  Some guy called me a princess a few kilometers into the rolling 105km ride.  I didn't know if it was a compliment (yeah, highly unlikely), something to laugh at, an insult, or just some stupid thing he said after ramming his handlebars into my left buttcheek, because he was a little too far into the red-zone.  You know, I get like that sometimes.  Pounding it up steep hills in my training, sometimes I don't see straight anymore at the summit. And after I max out during efforts on the E-Motion Elite rollers at PowerWatts in Montréal, sometimes I say the most incoherant stuff.  I only realize it when I get one of those Uhh-What-Planet-Are-You-On looks.  So I'm just going to attribute the handlebar-ramming and the princess comment to a lack of oxygen.  It happens to all of us.

They say that when you're driving something like a Specialized S-Works Amira, you've got to look in the direction that you want to go and your bike will follow.  I think that's the same with thoughts .  When you think positively, positive stuff will happen.  I know that the World Championships are going to be flipping tough, but I'm stoked to be there, to represent Canada, to race my BIKE with the best, and I'm feeling positive about it.  You know which direction that means I'll be going in.

Sep 16, 2013

Grand Prix Cycliste Montréal 2013

I promised I would be out to cheer on the Canadian riders for every edition of the World Tour races in Québec City and Montréal, and only one thing could stop me: a World Championships selection.  I got stopped last year, and slowed this year, but nevertheless...

In 2012, I was in Europe already preparing for World Championships (The Netherlands).  This year I'm home in Montréal preparing for Worlds (Italy on September 28, 2013).  I decided to be wise, take it easy, save my matches for training and recovering for my own racing.  I didn't go to see the race in Québec.  In Montréal, I ran around lot less than usual and hooked myself up with a megaphone to save my voice.  Perfect solution, excellent compromise.

Lex & the megaphone at the Grand Prix Cycliste Montréal.  Photo Credit: B. Poirier
Thanks to all of the Canadian riders for representing us so well, putting on such a great show for us, riding hard, and inspiring fans here on our own roads in Montréal.  Awesome, awesome, awesome. 

Especially since my self-assigned passion-driven mandate was to cheer on all of the Canadian riders, a SPECIAL HUGE congratulations to Guillaume Boivin for his team's victory.  At the end of the day, one rider takes the win, but in bike racing it's a team effort to get there.  NICE WORK!  Big, big props to Zach Bell for representing Canada in the break that lasted most of the race. AND, of course, Ryder Hesjedal for his podium finish!


Just one thing: TOO STINKIN' BAD that the women's World Cup road cycling race on the Mont Royal had to stop after 2009.  I don't know if it's 'okay' to say that, but it's how I feel.  I want a women's pro race back here in Montréal so I can race on my own roads again. 

Sep 11, 2013

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2013

I am very excited and proud to officially announce that the Canadian National Team has released their roster for the World Cycling Championships to be held in Florence, Italy.  I have been selected to represent Canada along with 5 other athletes amongst the best women in the world at the World Championship race on September 28, 2013.

Lex Albrecht: Canadian National Team.  Photo copyright Nicolas Paquet - kipphoto.ca
I will spend the remaining period of time before the big event training in Montréal and at the PowerWatts Premier Studio.


THANK YOU TO :

 My team, NOW and Novartis for MS and all of our sponsors.
 Nuheat for your ongoing support, I am so proud to be a Nuheat sponsored athlete.
Global Relay Bridge the Gap fund for helping me achieve this ultimate goal for 2013, your support has made an enormous difference for me this year.
CSHNQ for supporting me with an amazing deal of valuable resources to help me train and prepare for my competitions.

Sep 10, 2013

Silver Medal at the 7th Jeux de la Francophonie

 I had the honour of representing Canada and Québec in Nice, France at the 7th Francophone Games (held every 4 years).  Nice (pronounced "niece" by the way) borders on the Mediterranean sea. I had been once before, but without my bike.  I was so happy to have had the opportunity to return, to RACE.
The day we arrived was long and difficult.  I like challenges, but only when my basic needs are met: sleep, food, and reasonable hygiene.  Priority #1: Getting our bikes built up, and riding.  I ended my ride with a swim in the Mediterranean ocean.  That was pleasant. Exhausted from jet lag and travel, we could not sleep until late at night due to meetings and ceremonies and events that we were happy to attend, but perhaps not in the best shape to get the most out of.
Waiting for a ceremony to begin... the energy tank is past empty, but the spirits are high.
We had one day to get over the travel and jet lag (6 hours time difference).  I did a warm-up ride with my teammates, and headed back home to do the real intervals on the stationary trainer.  Alain from ISM took care of my legs afterwards with an excellent massage that I was more than grateful for.
 
 We skipped the opening ceremonies of the Francophone Games that night.  It made me sad to hear the fireworks and see them flash through the trees of the campus where I was staying.  But I knew I was better off resting.  I was already sleep deprived and the race start was at 9 am the following morning.  
We started in a heavy rainfall on the Promenade des Anglais and headed out towards the hills.    With the 100 SPF sunscreen running down my face in the downpour, much too often I could only see out of one eye, even with my Spy sunglasses.  There were climbs, attacks, flats, and plenty of crashes on the extremely slippery roads out there.  Fortunately, even in Cyclops-mode, I had no such issues other than my wheel slipping across the pavement a few times.  

In the final kilometers, there were 7 of us up the road, ahead of the peloton.  One French rider attacked and got away, but I jumped on her wheel and went with her.  We sped down the road and as the finish line neared, we started playing a bit of cat-and-mouse.  I was on the front, and didn't want to be.  She attacked hard, and even though my legs were tired, I pounded on my Time Xpresso pedals and jumped in her draft.  HA! Now I was in the favorable position, and she just burnt half a match...  A large, blue, inflatable arch was coming into sight.  There was no red flag (or flamme rouge).  I was sure it was the finish.  Jumping off her wheel and crossing under it first was a mistake.  1km was left.  I felt silly for my mistake but determined to fight to the end.  I was now on the front, and she was in my draft.  With 275m to go, I stood up on my pedals and tried to start a long sprint, but the French rider used her momentum from riding behind me, and accelerated so fast out of my draft that I couldn't catch her before the line.  She won.  I got silver.  I was a bit disappointed.  But very happy at the same time.

Ministre de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport : Marie Malavoy et Lex Albrecht. Jeux de la Francophonie. Nice, France
What an honour to represent my team, my sport, my province, and my country on the podium at the 7e Jeux de la Francophonie.  The minister of Leisure, Education and Sport, Marie Malavoy came to congratulate me after the race.
Lex Albrecht et chef de mission et coordonnateur sport de l’équipe du Québec, Éric Pilote.
 It was a tough day, and a lot happened out on the road.  I'm proud of the work our team did together. The courage and strength of my teammates was exceptional.  What an honour to be a part of it all.
La plus belle médaille que j'ai eu à vie!  (Et du vernis à ongle qui s'agence avec l'uniform de l'équipe du Québec.. :) )

Sep 5, 2013

Jeux de la Francophonie

J'ai eu l'occasion de parler des médiaux sociaux, mon sport, et les Jeux de la Francophonie avec Cédrik de Unikeo Media à Montréal dernièrement...

Allez voir les entrevues avec d'autres athlètes sur son site : UNIKEO Sport Digital

Sep 4, 2013

Green Mountain Stage Race

The Green Mountain Stage Race is a cycling race in Vermont, USA. An awesome 4 day race where the race isn't over 'till it's over.  The courses are fun, tough enough, and the time bonus structure is exciting.
Green Mountain Stage Race Criterium. Photo: C. Johnson
NOW and Novartis didn't have this race on their calendar, but I went alone.  I ended up having a BLAST.  This year, I was able to fit the 4 day event in my schedule as perfect preparation for upcoming European racing.  I couldn't believe how smoothly the GMSR was run, the exceptionally positive aura and atmosphere, the security of the courses, and the quality of the race circuits.
Stage 1 podium with my NUHEAT bottle and Rumble for recovery.  Photo: Gary Kessler
The first day I finished 2nd (by 7s) in the 5 mile time-trial, that started with a long steep uphill.  No TT bikes were allowed so I left my Specialized S-Works SHIV at home and went with my S-Works Amira.

In the Stage 2 road race, I planned to ride conservatively.  After sitting out the first intermediate sprint I thought "that's enough, I'm going for it", decided to go for all, and scooped up the remaining sprint and QOM (Queen of the Mountains) points.  I went for gold too, sprinting to a stage victory and taking the yellow leader's jersey while I was at it. I was feeling good.
Lex Albrecht, Specialized S-Works Amria, and Rolf tubular climbing wheels
I heard the next day's course finished with a brutal climb.  I took 2.5 hours to pre-drive the course in my boat-of-a-car.  (I wish I had a NOW and Novartis Ford C-MAX hybrid in Vermont with me...way smoother!).  I knew what was to come.  I did my own wrenching and put on a big (28 tooth) cassette. I wished I had a SRAM compact crankset to go along with it though.

Day 3 my job was only to protect the jersey.  My plans were otherwise though.  It wasn't "smart racing" attacking the field over and over from the gun, and I knew it.  But it hurt, and it's going to pay off.  I went for the QOM points and got them.  Towards the end of the 67mi stage with tired legs, I tried to hang on to Amy Bevilacqua's wheel as we dieseled up App-Gap, a 4km climb that ends with pitches with 20% gradient pitches.  With 2km to go..she stared slipping away.  I lost just over a minute in those final km as Amy pounded up the hill.  Seeing how strong she was made me feel good about only being 7s behind her in the TT at least.  I lost the yellow jersey for good to Amy that day (she deserved it, a LOT), but managed to secure the Queen of the Mountain jersey by scoring all of the points, except the ones at the finish that Amy earned fair and square.
 That Zenberry QOM jersey was mine to keep for the rest of the race!  Photo: Gary Kessler.

Stage 4 was a just-technical-enough criterium in Downtown Burlington, VT with my favorite thing : an uphill finish.  I wanted the Green sprinter's jersey to go with my Polka Dot climber's jersey.  So I went for all the sprints, and the win.  I got enough points to keep the jersey, and the victory was mine.  The screaming fans made it even sweeter, especially the crew from Trois-Rivières Québec (where I went to university and started racing!) who surprised me!
Burlington Criterium.  Photo: C. Johnson
THE FINAL SPRINT: (video J. Mathieu)

video


 Thanks to the awesome crowd for putting so much cash into the crowd-prime cup.  Hearing that bell for that prime made me sprint like there was no tomorrow.


At the 2013 GMSR, I became the Queen of the Mountains, Best Sprinter, had two victories, and two 2nd place podiums.  A race to remember.  And to return to. Thanks to Gary and Peter, the race organizers and all of the other staff and volunteers.  What an event.   If you weren't there this year, you should be next year.
Photo finish - Stage 4

Photo: C. Johnson