I've never ridden such a light nimble, 5" all-mountain bike. It's insane. I can't say enough about how much I love Stockli. Best skis in the world, AND best bikes in the world, as it turns out. Those Swiss just know what's up. We went on a big ride today that was mostly DH on a buffed out rolling trail through the woods at the base of Mt. Hood with serious flow. Our lovely coaches picked most of the team up way down the road toward Portland where the trail ended while my teammate Georgia... she's a machine, by the way... and I rode back up the highway toward Government Camp... yes, that's actually the name of the town we stay in. My new bike is so efficient, and the geometry has it set up so nicely for both climbing and downhilling that I felt like I needed more of a workout at the end of our big ride, and I was glad Georgia was keen to pedal up with me. And I was totally happy to let her lead (there was a bit of a headwind). ;)
My knee is feeling good... one day on, one day off, one day on...you get the gist. Everything has been progressing just as it should with my knee. Two days of skiing and it's feeling solid. I'll be fine to race this season. The goal is to get a good result at World Champs in Norway, in order to set myself up well going into the Olympic Season. Feels good to be back on snow, pulling starts, and getting my legs back!
My Mom and I had the pleasure of joining the lovely Eve Adams, one of our Canadian MPs on a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms, and the Houses of Parliament.
We even got to go in some of the typically glassed-off Churchill War Rooms, which sheltered the people at the heart of Britain's wartime government during the Blitz in the early 1940s, and they let me sit in the very chair that Winston Churchill ran the war cabinet from.
Once our touristy activities were done, we made our way back to Canada House to hit up the Proctor & Gamble Spa Room to get our hair done! Just as I was about to go in for some pampering, my new friend Rob from P&G offered us tickets to the Gold Medal Beach Volleyball happening just a few minutes later! So off we went, my Mom and I, to watch the Germans defeat Brazil. What an atmosphere! It was like a giant party at some tropical beach resort. They had these awesome dancers with all sorts of different routines and outfits between each set, and the DJs were throwing down. All of my favorite tracks were played... tracks that you would rarely hear in public scenarios here in North America with heavy basslines and remixed lyrics.
The highlight of our day, of course, was running into some Canadian friends: namely Brett Wilson (wow, what a cool guy, and what a cool WEBSITE) as well as our good friend Sean Wilson (from Whistler), and Vancouverite James Curleigh of Innovative Sports Limited (the company operating the auction for all London 2012 Memorabilia). They graciously invited us out for dinner with them. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant because it was incredible. That, along with the awe-inspiring, all-star line-up of dinner guests made for one of the best nights we had in London. We had Mark Oldershaw with his shiny new bronze medal in canoeing, and Annamay Pierse, Olympic swimmer, who just missed the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team, and 5 time Olympian Charmaine Crooks. I sat next to Mark and learned a bit about his family history. His grandfather, Bert Oldershaw, was a national canoeing champion and represented Canada at the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games. His father Scott, who is also his coach, paddled for Canada at the 1984 Olympic Games. His uncles, Reed and Dean, competed at the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games in canoe-kayak flatwater.
Other highlights included my favorite evening/latenight hangout... the Omega House in Soho. Omega are the official timekeepers of the Olympic Games and their timing systems have been used for ski and bike races throughout my whole life. They had a beautiful old mansion prettied up to host their athletes, partners and other guests every night for the duration of the Olympics, and my Mom and I couldn't seem to find any reason to go anywhere else! Their Sports Marketing Manager, Alain Zobrist took very good care of us, and the experience they provided was unparalleled.
Being at the Olympics as a spectator was obviously very different than competing in our Home Games. The biggest thing I took from it was that even though we are all out there trying to accomplish our own goals, it really is all about the bigger picture. I think I recognized this better than most athletes going into our last Olympics, and that contributed to my success, but watching from a relatively objective Canadian perspective reaffirmed that view...I barely even knew any of the athletes names. I just knew to cheer for the Canadians. And if a Canadian didn't have a good race or performance, I thought "oh well, on to the next". I didn't lose respect for them and their athletic abilities; I almost gained respect for how tough it was. It was just a shift of focus on to the next Canadian competing in the next event. When you realize you are just out there trying to accomplish a relatively small task in the grand scheme of things, it eases the pressure. It makes me realize that if you don't achieve your own goals, it's not going to derail the entire train or kill the momentum the team has as a whole, it just really helps when you can go out there and do your job. The job I had set out to do in our Winter Olympics didn't go much beyond inspiring our Nation's youth to get outside and lead a healthy, active lifestyle, and I knew that I had already won, whether I got a good result in the race or not.
I've put an interactive photo album together for you with some captions and comments along with the photos you see on the right. Just click PLAY below. If you click on the pictures within, they will each blow up so you may have a closer look. Enjoy!
Yesterday started with a fancy event with London High Commissioner Gordon Campbell and the Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast. I had the privilege being joined by Canadian hockey star Jayna Hefford and together we shared our Gold Medal stories with all of the business delegates, government officials, and other guests -meet and greet, and a LOT of photos! The event was put on by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and Financial Times to encourage guests to bring their business to Canada and I met a lot of lovely people. Later in the day I was back in the Larking Club for a less formal meet and greet with guests of the Larkin Club. We watched the women's soccer semifinal, where, unfortunately, the US beat our Canadians.
Today I realized that triathlon is one of my favorite sports to watch. It was SO exciting! The British Brownlee brothers, took gold and silver with Jonathan having to step to the side of the track to serve a 15 second penalty for hopping on his bike a tiny little bit too early in the transition. Simon Whitfield had a crash and pulled out of the race, and Brent McMahon and fellow Canadian Kyle Jones placed 27th and 25th respectively.
Click here to listen to today's interview with Mountain FM with regards to my trip - Checking in August 7th
What a great day! Our hotel has a great gym so I got a workout in this morning, and then went to lunch at the Four Seasons with 15 of Canada's top CEOs (friends of Bell and CTV's). They managed to find some spare tickets for the festivities this evening so my Mom and I got to watch the swimming live at Olympic Park. Phelps was amazing, as usual, winning his 21st Olympic medal, and I was particularly impressed with the DJ in the aquatics centre, who played one of my favorite tunes -Gold Dust- upon the completion of the women's 800m race, and then a bunch of dubstep. We finished the evening off at a beautiful boutique hotel on Kensington, all while getting insanely frustrated about the crappy internet and not wanting to use my data on my phone, and eventually storming off to a corner store to buy a SIM card that works in the UK. I now fully realize my dependance on my text messaging abilities, twitter, & everything else that connects me to the people I love!
Wow! Sensory overload!
My lovely mother, Marilyn, and I flew out at 6:30pm and I slept the whole way. Like 8 hours, I think. When we landed at 11am, I felt great and by the time we got to our hotel on the tube I was already feeling like I had adjusted to the time zone. Unfortunately, as it turns out, while we were deciphering the London Underground maps and figuring out how to buy our Oyster Cards that grant us access to the Tube - we were missing Prince Harry's visit to Canada Olympic House. Lucky for me, I've already found my prince charming, so I was only moderately disappointed. My Mom, on the other hand... not so moderate.
Walking around London is breathtaking, but needless to say, a bit of a change of pace from the shores of Nitinat Lake, BC. The history of the palaces and cathedrals and other spectacular buildings is so intriguing and the intricacies of the designs and construction are unbelievable. I honestly don't really feel like we're in the midst of the Olympic Games when we aren't right at the venues. It's not like Vancouver's city-wide buzz, with people showing their Nations' colours in their clothing, on signs, and even painted on their faces. I said in my interview with the Mike and Tare Show on Vancouver's QMFM today that, during our Games, I seriously felt like everyone in the whole city was partying except for me. Not here, really. In fairness, maybe it's too early for me to be forming that opinion. I'll try to get more into the scene in the next few days. I can say for sure, that it is really, really nice to be a part of the Olympics without the pressure of competing. I did a really good job of convincing myself that I wasn't under any pressure during our Games but looking back on it, I realize just how much work that required. Even hearing the Olympic song on CTV as I was packing for this trip, I got all stressed out momentarily. And then I remembered "it's okay, not this time, your Olympic work is done" ... for a little while. Sochi sure is coming up quickly though!
I spent the beginning of this week camping at Nitinat Lake on Vancouver Island. No cell service, no internet, no power or running water. It was amazing. I tried kiteboarding for my first time and learned that it is something I could seriously become obsessed with. Nitinat used to be a windsurfing mecca but as the sport lost popularity, the lake didn't see much action for a while. Now that everybody's switching to kiteboarding, the temporarily-sleepy campground is again bustling. We arrived on Sunday morning after spending a night at a lovely little spot along the river between Lake Cowichan and Nitinat, only to find that there was not one single flat spot to put a tent along the whole beach. It was packed. Even venturing off deep into the woods, we would have had to do some serious brushing to find the ground, as the scrub brush is as thick as West Coast rainforest gets.
By about 6pm, most of the spots had freed up - the weekend warriors had gone home! We set up a perfect base camp with a few of our friends and settled in for a few days of well deserved rest and recovery after a long, hard training camp in Whistler with my team. The problem I have is actually resting and recovering. I did pretty well, for the most part, only kiteboarding one afternoon. But... it being my first time, I did have one gnarly crash... I got picked up and slammed down on my face, after catching the toe edge of my board. It's insane how much power can be generated from those big kites. And it made me remember why I quit wakeboarding years ago... those toe-edge bails are so brutal! Whiplash.
Our crew finished the trip off with a quick little jaunt down the side of a ravine to one of the most beautiful waterfalls I've ever seen. We swam into the emerald green pool it lands in and crawled up the rocks behind it. I'm pretty sure everybody in our group found this to be an incredibly peaceful, holistic, even spiritual experience, really feeling 'at one with nature'. Turns out I'm totally freaked out of this kind of thing. I should have known from my super scary underground, underwater tunnel experience in Jamaica last winter. But the other day, I was pretty much in full panic mode by the time I got into the ice cold splash zone behind the main force of the falls. I clutched to my man and eventually managed to calm down, but as everybody dove back out through the falls, I couldn't stop envisioning getting pushed to the bottom of the seemingly bottomless pool in the impact zone and started panicking again. Ha! I'm such a wimp! I just can't handle water in my eyes and my mouth, especially ice cold water causing brain freeze! It still blows me away that there are waterfalls like the one we got to experience scattered all around our beautiful province of British Columbia with barely a beaten path to them.
We caught an evening ferry back to the mainland on Tuesday night, drove up to Whistler to welcome a few hundred lawyers to their Whistler conference the next morning, and were back on the road to Vancouver by 10am Wednesday to pack for London.