Off Season Scramble

Once my headache cleared, I was more than ready to get back outside! The best part of the off season is getting out and playing in the mountains for however long you like – the only governor being daylight and energy levels. Here is a little of what we’ve been up to so far this fall.

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We’ve hung up the cross country bikes to be sold and stick to long (to us) travel rides. Dirt Surfer. Eagle, CO.


With no races coming up, there is always a reason to prolong your rides to catch the last light on dry dirt in between fall storms. Riddle. Eagle, CO.


With the pending snow soon to blanket the mountains, it’s always a gamble on each cruise through the alpine until it’s our last. Elkhorn Trail. Beaver Creek, CO.


With trail conditions being put on temporary pauses with the changing of seasons, lunch rides start to switch to the road. Cottonwood Pass. Gypsum, CO.


Mix and matching equipment and sport. Cottonwood Pass. Gypsum, CO.


Sometimes, we don’t mind hanging up the bikes to fulfill our hypoxic needs by climbing mountains. Peak One, 10-Mile Range. Summit County, CO.



I’m gradually learning that as important as it is to follow a structured plan – it’s equally as important to have bouts of flexibility. The off season is a time for a me to get out, immerse myself with all kinds of activity, and recharge for the season to come!

Keep playing, moving, and having fun!

2015 Bike/Life Season Wrap Up

The 2015 season marked my fourth year racing in the elite category, fifth year trying out this whole racing thing, and the most consistent year yet! My main goal every year is to maintain a good life, bike, and financially sustainable balance from start to finish – all while trying to build a career around this bike life. Year by year, it’s motivating to see how things are gradually coming together. 

The season started with a new partner – BH Bikes, racing and training on the Lynx4.8 and Ultimate hard tail gave me the best tools for the job throughout the whole season! Another new partner was Limar Helmets – knowing I have a tendency to test lines and lawn dart here or there, I was confident in this lid keeping me safe no matter what I put it through. Along with the continued support of Castelli Cycling Apparel, Ergon Bike, Continental Tire, Xpedo pedals, Pearl Izumi shoes, Osmo Hydration, Smith Optics, Handlebar Mustache socks/apparel, community support of Yoga off Broadway and Yetis Grind, as well as the guidance of LW Coaching – I was stoked and grateful for every bit of help. With this village, I could focus on the fun part – putting in the work, staying motivated, healthy, and most important have fun riding and racing my bike!


Once the bikes rolled in, we were off to the desert every chance possible to familiarize ourselves with riding trail after a winter of road rides, skiing, and (minimal) indoor riding.

Continually working on the bike/life balance – stars alined more than a few times where fun and work overlapped as Jeff and I got to travel together and work multiple bike festivals in warmer climates. Our first trip to Sedona was a great February escape to get to play on technical trails in the warm sun. We’ll return for the 2016 Sedona Mountain Bike Festival – and I’ll be sure to bring a dropper post this time.


St. George is beginning to be one of our favorite places to ride in the winter, and helps that my coach lives there and can show me all the lines!


The True Grit 100/50 has continued to be a great test to early season fitness. My second year racing the 50, and one step higher than the previous year. We definitely look forward to this March event and will return in 2016!


Come April, we continue our bike/life balance by traveling to California. This year, we worked the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival followed by Sea Otter. A real treat getting to train at sea level, work, and spend time together.


Morning work commutes are so fun with an abundance of oxygen.


Evening dinner dates along the beach were just the ticket to take full advantage of traveling together.


A few days after returning from California, we had a last minute decision to race the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series – Ridgeline Rampage, a 5 lap race on a 10 mile track.


As dizzy as we were with so many short laps, it was a great training opportunity and happy to have held onto third in a field of strong Colorado competition.

We are lucky to live in a valley with so many training opportunities – the Vail Recreation District puts on a Short Track series as well as a smoking fast XC Series. No doubt, the handful I was able to make helped rev the engine for my longer races throughout the season. Each race finishing 2nd and 3rd.


Linda Guerrette was out at all the races – catching great images of the painful fun we continually come back to.


In May, the Gunnison Growler was a little bit of a bummer for me with a race ending mechanical – a frayed cable locked me in my easiest gear. It was an extremely wet spring causing for a gamble when it came to trail conditions. I look forward to racing this one again next year for another shot!

June provided the first open window to ride high. This month was event work heavy with a rescheduled Firebird 40 – providing for great training blocks and local races. It’s also when I started figuring out a nasty breathing issue. Not letting it break my stride – I stayed focus on the races ahead and came out strong in July.



The Firecracker 50 was the first race where everything clicked, body, breathing, motivation – it was all there.


A finish I’m sure to remember for awhile.


Finishing second definitely felt like a win, especially with a podium kiss from the Race Director – Jeff Westcott.

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Keeping things rolling, Jeff and I joined our friend Yuki Ikeda in a three person team for the Breck 100. This format was really fun as each person took a 30′something mile TT pull. We raced our way to the first team to ever beat the open men’s finisher’s time! It would be fun to see more teams sign up next year, and it become a competitive field.


In 2014, I helped start a kids mountain bike program, Vail Valley Alternative Sports Academy. Going into 2015, I took the reigns in programming, managing, and building the program – and with an overwhelming amount of community support we sold out each session!


As much energy as this took, it was by far the highlight of the year – being a part of the growth and momentum of getting kids on bikes is a huge passion of mine, and seeing the affect it has had on our small community goes well beyond any podium finish of a race. The kids have a way of making it all come together – we talk very little to not at all when it comes to racing, but focus on the stewardship, fun, and empowering parts of the sport. Our goal is to cultivate riders, not racers – as we feel the ones who want to go onto racing will happen naturally.


August was probably the biggest event push, which actually went right into September this year with the Breck Epic, Interbike and our new event The Vail Outlier Offroad Festival. Keeping it all in check – I made sure I was present when it came to work and scheduled a couple races around working to keep things rolling.

My role changes a lot, but mostly comes down to media monkey – curating content, managing social media accounts, professional photo caption writing, coordinating results/images with the real media, etc. It’s a fun – time consuming job… and really takes 100% of my focus. Racing and working events just doesn’t work for me – something is bound to fall, either you’re not going to race your best or work your best. Considering, work pays my bills… I sway towards the working end of the spectrum – grateful that it still keeps me involved and on my bike!


Signing up for The Grand Traverse – Aspen to CB MTB race motivated a weekend bike packing adventure. Jeff and I rode from Aspen to CB – camped- then rode back CB to Aspen. A great way to tour the course and get a little bit of adventure spliced in.


Photo Credit Chris Miller

Photo Credit Chris Miller

The race itself was quite an adventure! A stunning course, 40′ish miles, 9,000ft of climbing – all through the high alpine backcountry.

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Colorado always brings out stellar competition – happy to have finished on the podium with these two hammers and friends.


In the Vail Outlier Offroad Festival‘s first year – I was allowed to take Sunday off work and jump into the RockShox Enduro race.


This race was such a blast being able to jump into a laid back race during an event working weekend.


Apparently, fun is fast as I was skirting off a podium spot until a mechanical stopped me in stage 3.

The final event for 2016 was Moab Rocks – a 3 day stage race put on by TransRockies Events.

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I felt the strongest all season, and was off to a great start. Unfortunately, a crash in stage 2 kept me from lining up in the final stage. Overall, a good lesson that sometimes slower is faster, and to maintain composure after trying to make up time after a mechanical.


So – as I close the book on 2015, I look forward to 2016! The past four years of racing have given me compounding lessons, experiences, and building fitness to keep progressing in the sport. I am so grateful for every success, set back, and everything in between as each experience continues to shape me along this bike life journey.

Thanks for following along, and cheers to 2016!

Keep smiling! :)


Moab Rocks: Save the Brains!

In contrast to previous years, my fire to race was still burning bright into October – health, motivation, and fitness were firing on all cylinders. That’s why when we were given an opportunity to race a three day stage race in Moab a week prior to go time, there was no hesitation. I was instantly on the phone with Coach Lynda and fine tuning the days leading up to the race.

Prior to deciding to do this race, I had taken a few weeks off any structured training to give full attention to work as well as immersing myself with the fall foliage and high alpine trails – no HR monitor, no governors, just my riding company and the flow of the trail. With a week to go until three, short, technical days of racing LW scheduled me a mix of rest and short, intense intervals. Seeing consistent numbers in the 300 & 400′s I was giddy to line up and see what this fall fitness had in store.


Moab Rocks is put on by the fine, Canadian group of TransRockies Events – who have a list of other events such as Singletrack6. This was the third running year of the Moab event and after experiencing their organization’s professionalism, kindness, and really felt their love for the sport – I’m confident it’ll just keep growing. From last year alone, they increased their entry by 40%! Read MTBR’s event production recap here.

Having worked the past three years of the Breck Epic, 6-day stage race in the high alpine of Breckenridge, Colorado – I was ecstatic to get my turn at stage racing. Reviewing the stages, they were all relatively short and somewhat familiar.

  • Stage 1: Porcupine Rim – 29 miles – 4,400 feet of elevation gain
  • Stage 2: Klondike Bluffs – 25 miles – 2,800 feet of elevation gain
  • Stage 3: Magnificent 7 – 29 miles – 2,800 feet of elevation gain

Lynda talked over a couple strategies for stage racing – and I went for the “just go hard everyday” route. I’m growing a better sense of what paces I can withstand, and my approach was to start fast and hold on for the amount of time I know I can hold it and then settle into a more steady state rhythm. I’m not one to worry about who else is racing, or waste time wondering what my competition will do – all I can control is myself, my effort, and my race. That being said, there were a handful of other strong and technically savvy women ready to rip for the weekend – Jaime Brede, KC Holley, Pepper Harlton, and others from all over the states were on the line.

Eddie Clark Media

Eddie Clark Media

The first stage, Porcupine Rim would propose a somewhat straight up, straight down profile leading up with a 4k climb and then a plummet down a rocky, demanding descent. It had been a few years sine I had ridden the full porcupine descent, so my strategy here was to gas it on the climb and ride steady on the descent – taking zero risks! The countdown was on, nerves were tingling with excitement, and we were on our neutral rollout to San Flats rd. Once we hit the steeper pitches of the road I followed the pace of the lead group of men until it got a little too snappy and then grabbed onto the chase group for the final steep pitches. Once we were to the SlickRock trailhead, I fell off that group and quickly realized it would be more efficient for me to latch onto the approaching group of three men who were on a good clip. Jumping on with them, we hung together for awhile – I helped bridge two gaps to a couple guys who were spit off the chase group. Once we hit a couple steeper pitches I was off again and now fairly solo as the road conditions were a mixture of soft, loose gravel and super steep – Costa Rica like paved sections. For the last 20 minutes of climbing, I caught onto a few guys and as much as we kept each other going – we kept it pretty conversational.

The turn off of the road to the timed descent was comical – it went straight up! A little past the start of the timed descent I tried to clean my glasses while riding a couple times until finally pulling over to give them a proper wipe down as they were covered with sweat stains. Now, was the fun part! It took awhile for me to get into a rhythm on the descent, but I clipped my way down – pushing the climbs and settling into the flow. More than a few times I got caught up on bad lines, and with no hesitation walked verses risking a nose wheelie. Finishing up the day, I felt great – first woman by 4 minutes and still feeling fresh.

Stage 2 was an unfamiliar stage for me. Having never ridden at Klondike Bluffs, Jeff and I did a quick ride on the first 10ish miles of the course before getting into town. This stage started with a 4 mile drag race on two track before diving into single track for the remainder of the stage. After warming up, my legs felt great – surprisingly, no perceived fatigue and they had that snap. During this start, I positioned myself again at the back of the lead group of men – except this time, I held it all the way to the single track! I even got to draft off Jeff’s power booty for a little bit on the rolling, sandy double track prior to the slick rock – life goals. ;) Once I hit the trail, I settled into my own pace and knew I would be fine if I just stayed steady. Well – the demanding terrain of Moab had it with me and I punctured 8 miles in. With a lodged valve plug, it took quite some time to get it fixed – Eric Davis, who had stopped to help another female pro, Jaime Brede the previous day with a serious crash, stopped again to help me fix my issue. It took Eric, myself, and three other guys to get the valve stem unstuck and me back rolling – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your help! The next series of events is where I did everything wrong. ( enter lessons learned here) After leaving Eric, I was determined to make up time – I went off, and “pinning it” wouldn’t even begin to describe my motivation to catch back up. After the stage, people talked of the “possessed woman” who was “hauling ass” – yikes! They assured me I was being safe while passing appropriately. This pace lasted for about 20 minutes until I had one inevitable bad placement of my front tire, sending me hitting the unforgiving slick rock. The remainder of the stage was me licking my wounds back to the finish line.

Eddie Clark Media

Eddie Clark Media

Once across the finish line – I was a wreck, dazed, sore, and instant tears. All I wanted to do was sit down and close my eyes. The medic was extremely helpful and got me cleaned up. After some chatting as well as checking out my helmet – we found out I knocked my noggin’ explaining the headache, sore neck, and slight confusion. This is when I started to get a little concerned as I’ve dented my helmet two times prior to this case, all within the past month.

Other issues were not so much of an issue – my head was the biggest factor that needed to be taken seriously. That didn’t stop me from planning to race in the morning. Jeff switched my wheels (I dented the rim of the set I raced on that day) and did the normal race day check, my nutrition was ready, and my motivation was high. Stage 3 was the stage I knew the best, Mag7 – a route we ride every time we visit Moab. I was confident I was going to make up all the time I had lost by pushing the two bigger climbs and staying smooth on the trails.

Sunday’s night’s sleep was anything but restful – tossing and turning to the headache that wouldn’t let up. It pained me as I knew what was going on. As I woke up, I knew what the right decision was and chose to sit out the last stage. It crushed me, and I was an emotional wreck. A combination of hard work, passion and love for the sport – all had to be set aside for the safety of my brains.

Once Jeff finished up his race – which he consistently chipped away to a 3rd place overall finish – we headed out to find some shade and moseyed around a great little watering hole. A perfect place to relax and soak in all of the weekend’s happenings. A great way to put it into perspective – focus on everything good that happened throughout the weekend and not get so held up on not being able to compete the last day. Through pushing on after a bad crash, staying motivated and strong, as well as spending time with friends in a beautiful place – the weekend was quite a success! Most importantly, there will be plenty more to come.


In hindsight, it’s really astounding to see what competition does to us. At the time, I wanted nothing more than to be racing my bike – even if it risked a more serious head injury. It’s now four days after the crash and my first day waking up without a headache. Words are no longer blurry on my computer, I can get back to work, as well as riding my bike. There really is no knowing what would’ve happened if I had raced the final stage, but what I do know is that I have many more moons to line up, feel strong, and continue enjoying this crazy bike life.

Moral of the story: Save the brains and keep smiling!


Summer Grand Traverse – Aspen to CB

Although, I’m not quit ready to post up an end of season recap – I CAN put into words what the past weekend’s adventure entailed.

First thing, there were no lack of events this past weekend. In fact, there were so many great events going on it was hard to decide which to do. Many of my race choices come down to finding a good balance of affordability and course quality. Having not ridden in Aspen or CB over the past few years, my attention was drawn to The Summer Grand Traverse Aspen to CB race. It seemed to fit the bill being close to home – no lodging cost, a reasonable entry fee – $100, and the route appeared to be a rustic, challenging, yet absolutely stunning experience! I was sold.

After a month of event heavy work and absolutely zero racing, I was more than ready to toe the line with my favorite MTB lady friends/competition. That’s the beauty of Colorado – it is jam packed with talented women who challenge each other on the course, but are the first to congratulation one another at the finish. I have yet to line up to a race where there hasn’t been stout competition, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s helped shape me into the athlete I am today and continues to test my boundaries of what I feel I’m capable of.

A little more on the race – it was first set up as a Winter Grand Traverse, a ski touring event that follows an almost identical route from CB to Aspen. Last year, the organizers started a Summer Run/MTB format where on a Saturday runners set out on the route in one direction and the next day the MTB event heads back in the opposite direction. This year, the route ran CB to Aspen for the runners and Aspen to CB for the mountain bikers. This meant, our elevation profile resembled the mullet of all elevation profiles. 3500ft of business up front and a huge party of a descent in the back.


As we all lined up, I already knew the close front line would make it difficult for me to jump onto the steep start. Comically, my apprehension came to fruition as Brian Smith made a little fumble next to me as I also fumbled – it took me an additional fumble to finally get myself going up the first climb, setting me back 30 seconds right off the start. I stayed calm, remembered it was a long day and quickly positioned myself in second – where I stayed for the entirety of the 5 mile 3500ft elevation gain climb up Aspen Mountain.


Photo Credit Chris Miller

Throughout the first climb I seemed to have gotten stuck in one speed, not breathing hard, not able to kick it into sparkles, but just one steady pace. Staying positive, I chugged along at what my body was able to do. At the crest of Aspen Mountain, Jenny Smith got ahead of me while I remained in my one speed pace of the day. Amy Biesel took control of the day from the start, and that’s how we finished all separated by 8-10 minutes 1. Amy B. 2. Jenny Smith 3. Myself.

That may be how the “race” ended, but the route got really interesting after the trip up Aspen Mountain. As we began the “traverse” towards Taylor and Star Pass our trail conditions went from packed road to peanut butter slip-n-slides, false summits, hike a bikes, Tasmanian Devil road descents, high alpine single track, and views that made you forget you were racing. Our day had perfect weather conditions! The recent moisture made otherwise loose, sandy roads either hard packed and perfect or peanut butter. It was a gamble riding through puddles as some you could skim through and others would grab your tire and stop you in your tracks.

The first aid station was at Taylor Pass, the 15 mile mark. There were a few burly sections both up and down prior to getting there – all of which seemed MUCH easier on a race bike verses the loaded down bike packing set up Jeff and I had ridden the couple weeks prior. Getting into a group of a couple men kept me motivated and pushing the climbs, staying steady with them on the flats, and back to pushing the line on the descents. I led a couple through a rolling section before a steep, loose road descent. One of the men on a trail bike got around me before one of the last steep, loose descents before the final gradual climb/descent to the aid. I foolishly followed his speed and line – before I knew it my shoulder and neck hit the ground and bike and body proceeded to tumble down the road a few rolls. Taking a moment to do damage control – I was OK! Hopped back on and chugged along to ride out the kinks.

Through most of the traverse I could always see Jenny’s pink jersey, and through the couple hike a bikes to Star Pass I started to see some gain being made. With my head down and not thinking too clearly distinguishing the red – wrong way ribbons and pink – route confirmation ribbons I followed the red ribbons right before the final push to Star Pass. I cruised along this amazing trail awhile until something felt wrong. As I looked up towards the pass I saw Jenny reaching the top and I yelled up “Am I going the wrong way!??!”. I looked behind me and saw my new friend, Dan who I had been riding most of the route with approaching the intersection. Awe, shoot – wrong turn! I turned around and back to the intersection where Dan and I shared a good laugh over my mistake.

Photo Credit Chris Miller

Photo Credit Chris Miller

From the top of Star Pass, we had a long descent ahead of us – trail 400, the last trail that local rider, and friend Will Olson lost his life on a few short weeks prior. As I started my descent I said out loud, “Come on Will, let’s ride!”. I kept it steady and made my way down smoothly. Thank you, Will.

Towards the bottom, my new friend Dan caught up with me where he proceeded to want to follow my line through the next couple sections of trail. He was loving life and kept me going steady. He got around me on one section where I lost my line and had to get off as he slide sideways down the rock face. Somehow, he pulled it off without a crash and kept rolling. I caught back up to him along the road and we chatted about the last section of trail. This part I had never ridden before – he stopped to fill his bottle and I carried on.

Right off of the road the trail just went up, and up, and up. It wasn’t terrible, and a lot more was rideable than I had thought my legs were able to handle at that point. Not knowing how long this section was, I was always anticipating more climbing. The trail mostly rolled after the initial grunt and as ready as I was to be done, it was actually quite beautiful. Rocks, roots, tourists, aspen groves – it kept you on your toes and entertained all the way to the final turn to the finish line. DCIM100GOPROG0093651.

I came across in 5:24 – 3rd place female, 10th place overall. Deep breath of relief and accomplishment, my ride was complete. Dan fell back a bit, but I waited to congratulate him at the finish and thank him for all his kind, encouraging words and enthusiasm he gave throughout the day. DCIM100GOPROGOPR3662.

Jeff was such a champ throughout the day – from driving me to the start line at 5am, driving another 3 hours to the finish, washed my bike, took photos/video, and then drove us another 3 hours home. THAT is way less fun than what I got to do – what a guy! Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 9.49.31 AM

Now, its time to put away my Castelli Cycling Apparel super suit and focus on a few end of the season work events. On tap are a few days of interbike followed by the Vail Outlier Offroad Festival Sept 25-27th – bringing back big time mountain bike racing to Vail Mountain. Something I hope you all take part in – XC, Enduro and large Demo right in Vail Village!




Pearl Pass: CB to Aspen


After making the gregarious trek to CB from Aspen, and then an added 10 miles towards our return route towards Pearl Pass, we happily soaked in a full nights rest. I’m not one to ever sleep well when camping, but after the day we had the day prior – I fell into a deep, dream filled slumber. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1881.

From our site, we were awoken by the first morning light and the sweet ballads of cows 50 yards from where we chose to stay for the night. Growing up on a small farm in Minnesota, I felt right at home.IMG_8122

In general, I enjoy slow mornings – which is amplified when immersed in The Great Outdoors. Slowly wake up when your body feels ready, enjoy a morning meditation and extra long gaze at the rising sun over the mountain side. A perfect way to recharge for our return trip to Aspen via Pearl Pass. IMG_8112

Breakfast in bed. Chivalry is not dead – or Jeff was just kindly hinting that I get moving. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1873. DSCN2155Enough dilly dallying around, it was time to squeeze back into a fresh chamois and not so fresh jersey to get rolling back to Aspen.DCIM100GOPROGOPR1888.Much like the start of yesterday’s ride, today we headed straight UP. I was not feeling very sparkly and struggled for the first hour until my body figured out what we were doing again. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1892.The road towards Pearl Pass went from steep, to rolling, to steep… like little punches with just enough time for you to catch your breath before another swing came rolling back at you. DSCN2159 DSCN2165As the trees became sparse, the views became grand – lessening any lingering fatigue. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1895.When the terrain would throw us off our lines, it always offered up great moments to stop and take it all in…. and enjoy a little reprieve of a loved one’s shoulder.  DSCN2173 IMG_8134We climbed and climbed and climbed some more. The road would go from completely buff to rock garden bobble town. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1910.So we pushed…DCIM100GOPROGOPR1922.…and rode…DCIM100GOPROGOPR1929. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1933.…and pushed some more. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1958.All the way to the TOP! We made it – 3500ft of pedaling, slogging, hiking, grunting, and commiserating our way to the top. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1961.Taking in the view and secretly hoping we DO NOT have to go over any more of those beautiful mountain ranges in the distance. For now, they are quite nice to just look at. Luckily, it was all downhill from there… a few rollers, but mostly downhill…DCIM100GOPROGOPR1979. DCIM100GOPROGOPR1983.The descent off of Pearl Pass towards Aspen was hair raising! We sat back, let off the brakes and allowed the bike sail over the random mess of rocks – with the thought in our heads, “Thank goodness we are going DOWN this and not UP it!”DCIM100GOPROGOPR1985.We came off of Pearl Pass and descended down to Ashcroft – the route went from gnarly and rocky to smooth pavement. Going from seeing no one, to see every Aspenite on their Sunday road ride up to the old nordic center. I’m fairly certain I saw Bradley Cooper pass us by with a big smile and a hello – yes, I’m sure of it. No, do not interject with a logical explanation to why it wasn’t him…just let me have this. IMG_8142Done. Cooked. Ready for a shower – my first bike packing experience was absolutely stunning. A hard earned kind of stunning that sticks with you longer than just stumbling upon it. To the people who do this on a regular basis, I tip my helmet to you out of sheer respect – you are a beautiful aspect of the sport that unfortunately many overlook. Maybe not people who are lucky enough to live around these parts, but in general – I’m not sure the majority of the biking population has felt this. It’s not found through intervals, a start line or that fancy new power meter. It’s not a part of a club, a team, or a gym membership – it’s completely inclusive and wants you to come find it. Go get it!


Grand Traverse Aspen to CB

Jeff has been wanting to go bike packing with me for years – and for years the timing just hasn’t quite worked out. Well, this past weekend everything seemed to fall into place and we were loading up our bikes for a little adventure. The route: Aspen -> CB -> Aspen – A two day, one night introduction to bike packing. The route choice fell in nicely with an upcoming race, The Grand Traverse – that starts in Aspen and finishes in CB. On paper, it looked fairly straight forward, a lot of road, not many miles, and a good amount of climbing. Piece of cake! So I thought…

DSCN2077We parked the van in the mythological place called free parking in Aspen – from there, we set off for the first climb of the day, Aspen Mountain via the service road. Holy BALLS! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a steep grunt… maybe it was the loaded down bike, the lack of a warm up, or the breeze… yeah, maybe it was the breeze. No, it wasn’t any of those – it was just a hard climb, 5 miles and 3500ft elevation gain up a steep, loose, sandy, did I mention loose service road. DSCN2078As many hard climbs go, the views along the way were well worth the effort. That’s if I remembered to look anywhere but the stem of my BH Bikes Ultimate hardtail. Which performed like a champ – the bike, not just the stem. I’m 5’4″ and 110 mighty lbs, so the efficiency and weight of a bike are big priorities. We turned my BH Bikes XC race whip into a bike packing machine by putting away the light weight wheels, adding something a little beefier equipped with 2.4 Continental Xking tires, 28T SRAM XX1 chainring, Ergon GS1 grips, & Revelate Designs bags. In my seat bag was my Big Agnes Fish Hawk 30 sleeping bag, and on my back was my Ergon BA3 Evo Enduro pack filled with many things I felt necessary (as well as helpful tips from much more experienced bike packers, like coach LW) for my first bike packing trip. It’s amazing to see what few items you truly need for a couple days removed from your daily routine.

We crested Aspen Mountain, breathed in a moment of relief as about half of our climbing was done for the day! Little did we know what challenging terrain we were about to hit with the remainder of the route. DSCN2083DSCN2091After Aspen Mountain, the route’s next check point was Taylor Pass. We were fooled many times with false summits thinking we were there… we were not. Great opportunities to remind yourself to STOP LOOKING AT YOUR STEM. DSCN2093 DSCN2099DSCN2100TAYLOR PASS! It DOES EXIST…we made it up and down demanding terrain that’ll forever wipe away my downplay of “it’s just road”. DSCN2105This guy. I can’t say thank you enough – from carrying most of the weight, flawlessly navigating, keeping us hydrated, being patient as I slid down a few hike a bikes, all while looking dapper in his spandex suit. I’m onto you, Jeff Kerkove – I know what you’re trying to do to me… DSCN2111As we say goodbye to Taylor Pass, we head on towards Star pass. DSCN2113 Oh look, another rock laden climb I cannot clear – but WOW, look what’s beyond my stem… Those mountains sure are magnetic! DSCN2115 DSCN2117 The one (or two or three) wrong turns we took over the weekend always provided great backdrops. DSCN2118 Our first section of single track served up breathtaking views and plenty more opportunities to push your bike! IMG_8084 Jeff nears the top of Star Pass.DSCN2129 From the Top of Star Pass to the ‘finish line’ was primarily all trail – which is awesome when you are cross eyed and start playing the “what will I eat first” game in your head. We took this descent REALLY easy, took breaks, enjoyed the view, kept it safe – as not too long ago a freak accident look the life of a fellow rider as he raced down this very same trail. Thoughts of his life gone too soon filled the space in between my ears as we flowed our way down. Rest in peace, Will. DSCN2131 As we continued on, we crossed a handful of streams – each one begging us to just have a seat and stay awhile. IMG_8085 We rolled into town, ran into a few friends, and ate…. a simple sandwhich that was just OH SO GOOD! Can I get some privacy please? DSCN2132 Fed, happy, and ready to roll out to find where we’ll sleep for the night. Actual ride time was 5:45 with 7800k of climbing – running time was about 6:30… accounting for at least 45 minutes of not looking at our stems. DSCN2144 We rode up our return route about 10 miles until I was done; time to set up camp! A quick splash in the river to rinse out a vapor locked chamois, and change into dry clothes. I packed a set of Patagonia capeline top and bottoms which kept me warm and cozy! DSCN2142 All the familiar parts of the day were done – now, Jeff took charge and set up camp. DSCN2145 Our shelter for the weekend was a Big Agnes light weight tent and sleeping bags & pads. DSCN2146 It was so nice that the sleeping pad had it’s own little sleeve within the sleeping bag so that it stayed still as you moved about throughout the night. Genius, comfy and cozy! IMG_8100 DSCN2149 Goodnight moon.DCIM100GOPROGOPR1861.There you have it – Day 1 in the books. 50 Total miles of pedaling, 8400ft of climbing made much more fun with a stead strong adventure partner.


Breck PR’s and a Telluride stall…

Days since the Firecracker 50 have been filled with many miles, smiles, work and trying to soak up as much summertime as possible before it’s gone.

After a couple days of rest, I was ready and motivated to start working on the next goal – The Telluride 100. 100 milers are not my favorite, but I like to try to schedule one a year to push myself out of my comfort zone. This race was right up my alley with giant climbs going over 12k that gave an ample supply of breathtaking views. Having my breathing under control and feeling stronger than ever – I was motivated and ready for it!

Leading up to the race, LW Coaching altered my training and race schedule a little to favor being fresh and ready for 100 miles and 15,000ft of climbing. Originally, I had a couple town series races scheduled, a team effort of the Breck 100 with Jeff and Yuki, and a 5 hour steady-moderate paced ride planned. Making some adjustments, Lynda took out the two town series races and put more focus on a little longer, slightly “easier” training efforts.

The weekend after the Firecracker 50, I mapped out a solo tour of all my favorite trails in Vail for a good, long day. Not getting up valley too often to ride I decided to just ride all my favorites in one day – which ended up looking like a bird by the time my route was done!

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It was a great solo day in the saddle in search of all the perfect places to spot the Gore Range – North Trail – Lost Lake – Buffher Creek – North Trail – Vail Mountain – Benchmark – The Ridge – Mid Vail Escape – Fred’s Lunch – Big Mamba – Hank’s Hideaway tallying up 47 miles and 8,000ft of climbing. Training made easy with such great trails and amazing views!




The next day I was lucky enough to be able to ride my bike for work! We have a new event coming up, The Vail Outlier – and I got to ride the mountain showing Jeff Frost the proposed routes. After that, it was a series of chill rides and opener intervals in preparation for the weekend’s Breck 100 relay.

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I won the lottery with teammates – Jeff, Yuki and I split up the 3 loop Breck 100 race and took it on as a relay. Jeff, being the high alpine, hike a bike’aholic that he is – we gave him the first loop – Wheeler Pass. Our fastest teammate, Yuki Ikeda took the 2nd loop – which had probably the best single track descents that you had to really work for. That left me with the last loop – Gold Dust. This loop went over Boreas Pass twice with some single track, but an ample amount of road climbing.

That hardest part of this format is waiting your turn. Jeff started at 6am and came in with the top few open 100 men, Yuki went out and put in a HUGE effort and came back with a 10 minute lead on the top 100 man. Then it was me – I was OFF… an odd feeling starting a race solo with no one with you or ahead of you. With LW’s voice in my head I kept a lid on it, stayed out of my anaerobic zone and just churned over a steady pace. I had the feeling of being chased, and expected to get caught going into the Gold Dust trail.


During the first few rocky sections, I flatted – I kept riding thinking it was just a small puncture and the Stans would fill the hole… kept riding, kept spewing, hissing… my heart sank. The first time I pulled over I just shot it with CO2 throwing my hat into the wind thinking it would work. No luck, I pulled over again in what seemed like the home of a million mosquitos and put a tube in as I had a large side wall cut. With 10 minutes of stopping I felt that I was sure to be caught… still no one. I kept chugging along, precariously maneuvering my way around the rockiest section of trail. I made it to Como, still solo – filled up my water and made my way up Boreas for the 2nd time. I was feeling strong, kept it steady and just focused on reaching the top. Making it to the top, still solo, no one in front, no one in sight I clicked it into my hardest gear and cranked the downhill as hard as I could. Once I reached the single track, I went back to conservatively railing in hopes of keeping all the air in my tires to the finish. I reached the pavement, still solo! There was a little confusion on the finish and I blew past the turn… I knew something wasn’t right so I turned back around to make the correct turn back into the finish line. This is where I could see the lead open 100 man coming down towards me. Head down I made it across the finish line 30 seconds ahead, securing an overall win in front of the entire field and wracked up a series of PR’s both uphill and downhill. Being someone who LOVES railing descents, it’s been a blast racing the BH Ultimate Hardtail and quite a shock seeing what it’s capable of eating up! As soon as I crossed the line, both Jeff and Yuki quickly informed me my front tire was still flat! YIKES, I was so lucky to make it in!

With a season of great training, racing and overall motivation at my back I was thrilled for the upcoming challenge; The Telluride 100. The week leading up, my energy was at an all time low, each day I was either riding with the kids that I coach or resting. Looking at the calendar, my heart knew what was in store – that monthly little party pooper with a painful label of ‘endometriosis’. I ignored the inevitable and carried on as if it wasn’t going to happen. Unfortunately, my timing was absolutely the worst and the night before the race I was up most of the night with fever chills and the typical slew of flu like symptoms. I called the race at 3am, which was the best decision as it would’ve been a 9 hour day with many mandatory body mechanical stops along the way.


Am I bummed? Yes. Do I dwell on it? Hells no! If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple years of racing its that, sh!t happens. There’s no use getting too worked up on mechanicals, both body and bike related as they are – for the most part – out of your control. What I can focus on is continuing to get stronger, smarter, and enjoy this beautiful life! There’s always next year. :)



Now – it’s a week completely off training, finally getting in with the allergy specialist, and a couple blocks of event work. There are plenty of races and adventures to be had this year – from bikepacking, to a 3 day stage race and a point 2 point backcountry adventure. For the next few weeks, I play, I work and plan for future adventures.


See you on the trails!



Firecracker 50

Having a race like this weekend’s Firecracker 50 (52 this year) has been running through my mind for years. That feeling of putting in the work, believing in yourself, and keeping it all together until the finish – with a few wavering dips in and out of the suffer tank, I did it! Every race has a story… here’s mine.

First of all, the back story of why this race is so special to me goes back to one of my very first mountain bike races and probably 10th time on a mountain bike, ever. Six years ago I drove over to Keystone to pre ride another, smaller Maverick Sports Promotions XC race, Tour de Trash. I finished riding/crashing/riding the course around dusk and was left with nothing but fear, feeling out of place, inadequate and flat out not ready. The race director, Jeff Westcott was putting the final touches on the course and persuaded me to just give it a shot. The next day, my naive self shook off the jitters, locked on my camel bak, and lined up. Through a few crashes I walked away with my first win and the confidence to keep trying this whole mountain bike racing journey. I owe a lot to my friends and Jeff who helped me get over that first step. Flash forward to this weekend’s Maverick Sports Promotions race, The Firecracker 50 – a completely different person than the young, inexperienced girl 6 years ago, ready and excited to take on this challenging course.


This race was most definitely an “A” race for me – 50 miles, 7,000ft of climbing on rugged roads and trails between 9,500-11,200ft. With the help of my coach Lynda Wallenfels, my fitness and head was right where it needed to be. However, leading up to this weekend was a scramble figuring out some recent, worsening breathing issues. I prioritized getting it under control, having a plan, and stuck to it – happily, I have had zero attacks since incorporating a handful of tricks keeping it under control until I can get in with a specialist. It’s truly amazing seeing how many people want to help you reach your potential – feeling that support has been extra motivating.


My body was ready, now it was all about choosing the gear for the day. The questions that run through most racers heads are, full suspension? hard tail? gearing? tire choice? – having a Flat-tire 50 last year, I went the extra mile with the help of High Gear Cycling to be sure my gear was running in top condition. I chose my BH Bikes Ultimate Hardtail, XX1 28T, Continental 2.2 XKing tire in front and 2.2 Race King in the rear – both with sidewall protection. Contact points – I went with the Ergon Bike GE1 Slims, SMR3 saddle, and HX2 gloves. It’s been a dream getting to ride on top notch gear that I have 100% confidence in.


With the recent course changes, I was predicting a 4:30-4:45 race. The tag line of this race is, “go light, go long”. I did just that – I started with enough food to get me through a lap and picked up a bottle at every aid station, alternating between OSMO/OSMO’like hydration and water. Friends from Japan were in town and offered help through the lap transitions. Getting a bottle of Osmo and encouragement from Saya & Yuki give me an extra kick in the pants.

With all the prep behind me, there was only one thing left to do, the fun part – RACE BIKES! I try really hard not to focus on who else is racing – I find it wasted energy, really. The only person you can control is yourself – especially a race of this length and difficulty. ANYTHING can happen at any time.


It was within the first climb that the women’s field was sorted. Larissa Connors, an amazing talent, on the steps of most national Pro XCT battles was off on her own within the first surge of the lead men’s group. Feeling myself maybe pushing the pace a little too much for what was on tap for the day, I fell back, Jenny Smith passed me and I quickly positioned within a couple men who were keeping a steady pace. At this point, Jenny’s pink jersey was my target. She was alone. Knowing I had an advantage  saving energy within the group I bypassed the first aid station and put in an effort to get into the single track first. Excited to be feeling good, I kept a steady push over the next few false flat kicks. Staying calm, steady, and ready to rail some trail!

Trying not to look over my shoulder, I kept focussed ahead – making up some time on the descents and keeping a good pace to Little French. There is nothing about the Little French climb that is appealing. It’s loose, steep, high altitude, and even so much as a breeze can throw you off pushing your bike up. With encouragement of a few male racers, I cleared Little French for the first time in a race! (I paid for that later) – and kept trucking along.

This is where the “I wonder where Jenny is” feeling settled in. This feeling stayed with me all the way to the finish line. I was so bummed to hear that she wasn’t feeling well with lingering head injury symptoms, and had to pull out of the race. Getting to race with talent like hers only makes you better.

Rounding my way to the second lap, I had to scale it back… maybe too far back. I was afraid of pushing too much and fading – instead, I seemingly just faded into a slightly slower, yet steady pace. Reaching Little French for the second time did me in… I was off far sooner than I have ever been, feeling like I was crawling my way up. One foot in front of the other I kept singletrack thoughts in my mind and got on and off my bike until I was able to cross the little creek and get back to the flume.

I knew I was almost done, but needed a kick in the pants to push harder. Luckily, a lot of the categories were mixed up by now and I had a few friends give me moments of spark. As they’d come along, I would try to keep up – then fall back… and surprisingly moments of trying to keep up, and then staying ahead!

At this point, everything hurt… every rise, every pebble, everything. Thoughts of friends voices came through my head saying, “Keep pushing through the finish”… and I did just that.


I had done it! After 52 miles, 7,000 ft of climbing… I came across the line in 4:38 2nd Pro Female! Ecstatic, exhausted, elated, delirious… you name it, I had every emotion throwing a party through every single cell of my body.


A short 7 minutes later, friend, endurance hammer and local Summit County athlete Marlee Dixon came across the line – 3rd Place Pro Female.


Although, it may look like I’m about to pull Marlee in for a wet, slobbery kiss… I was really just so stoked for her great race as well! That’s the beautiful thing about our community of female endurance athletes – sharing moments like this.


I may not have been even close to Larissa’s pace for the day – but I sure scored with the podium love from race director Jeff Westcott.

Kudos to everyone who works so hard on putting this race together! I have gotten to know this group fairly well over the years, and it makes standing on the second step feel that much more special.

Now – a couple days later… I’m still thrashed – an endorphin crash, really. My body is feeling ok, but general mood is just a little ho-hum. I’ve noticed over the past couple years that after moments of intense highs, comes a day or two of feeling a little less than awesome. It’ll pass – and I’ll be onto working towards my next adventure!

Thanks for sticking along for the long haul of this post – it’s been awhile coming, and it feels oh so good!

The Joy of Riding

Over the years of following my passions I have learned more about my health, body and mind that I ever thought possible. I have pushed myself through negative thoughts, poor self esteem, injury, fatigue, & sickness. My initial coping mechanisms were found behind forced smiles, ignoring the problem, keeping myself extremely busy, and continually trying to push through a brick wall. It hasn’t been until the past few years that I’m learning to slow it down, focus on what I can do, and most importantly practice self kindness.

We are all handed bumps in the road. We can either let those bumps stop us, or find alternate ways over them.

Recently, I’ve been re-handed up a healthy dose of asthma coupled with what’s thought to be some sort of allergy. Realizing I have ignored daily symptoms, I have had a handful of bad attacks during hard race & training efforts. My throat closes up, body shuts down, and feel like I can only breathe at a quarter the capacity I’m use to. Frustrating, but I’m taking the steps to figure it out – starting out with an inhaler and then in the waiting line for an appointment at National Jewish Health for the allergy mystery.

I feel like anything below 9,000ft is trying to kill me – so, instead of sitting around twiddling my thumbs we took our adventure above 9k all weekend and kept efforts at or below threshold.


The weekend started with a double dip up and over and back up and over Independence Pass starting and finishing on the Leadville side.


Staying well hydrated downing multiple bottles of Osmo Hydration for Women - as well as water from kind campers as the well was dry where we had planned to refill.


Jeff stayed with me the entire time, keeping a watchful eye & ear on my breathing. As annoying as it may be in the moment, I am so grateful for him having my back. He really is my biggest supporter, encourager – the best adventure partner a girl could ask for!


This was the first ride with an inhaler. I definitely noticed an improvement in my breathing – although I still haven’t tried to go full gas, and noticed a considerable change in my breathing & airways as soon as we returned home.


The next day, we headed back to Leadville to ride another pass. Night and day difference from the day before as we had the mountain to ourselves on fat tires and 6″ of travel.



Rides like this provides so many great opportunities to catch your breath, enjoy the view, and take it all in.

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Snow snakes are still holding strong above 13k! YIKES! This one bit HARD – I’m OK! :)


Reaching the summit has always given me such a high! Being able to breathe clearly and confidently clear steep scree fields aboard the BH Lynx6 provided an extra shot of enthusiasm.


Although this was my first real test of the BH Lynx6, as soon as I pointed my Continental Mountain Kings downhill, the geometry was like a glass slipper and felt like we had been riding together for years.


Closing up on a couple great days on two wheels, the biggest lesson for me has been to learn my limits. That also means learning when it’s worth it as well as safe to be pushing those limits. It’s a gradual lesson that throws pop quizzes at me all the time, but I remind myself, “to slow it down, focus on what I can do, and most importantly practice self kindness” – it’s all relative. What works for one person will not work for another – it’s a personal journey.


This weekend proved to fulfill everything I love about riding – adventure, views, great descents, learning more about myself and sharing it with someone I love. The smiles at the end of the day say it all.

I hope you all were able to get out and enjoy the joy of riding – whether it’s a bike path spin, single track cruise, XC race throw down, downhill runs… whatever gives you joy.


Rainy Days & Squeezed Lungs

From the name of the post you’d think a lot hasn’t been going right this season, and that’s most definitely not the case. This season has probably been the best season yet where everything is really falling into place. I am the most balanced I have ever been physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, there have just been a couple hiccups along the way that have unfortunately just been the (bad) luck of the draw.

So, what’s the difference this year? In previous years, admittedly I haven’t been the most confident or kind to myself. Mix in an unhealthy dose of expectations, and each race was like the world was going to come crashing down onto me. The change? I remembered why I race, and no longer cared so much what anyone else thought about me, my performance, the races I choose to do, etc. Once I let all that go, I was myself again… happy.


Another change this year is that I have shifted a lot of my focus on running a kids MTB camp – Vail Valley Alternative Sports Academy. This program was created very last minute last year, and although the kids had a great time – I knew we could do better. Through a winter’s worth of planning, we are in our third week of camp and it has been such a joy to see everything fall into place. The program is centered around inspiring a new generation of trail stewards, teaching them the rules of the backcountry, riding skills, how to treat one another and other trail users, and most importantly how to share the stoke with others. These kids light me up, and I am lucky to get to work with them as well as the other coaches. I am working on keeping a good balance of putting my heart into this camp, racing, my other job, and my relationships/community. Hefty goals – but way more rewarding than letting something fall short.

Coming off a strong spring season it was time to focus in on some local races. I have committed to the Vail Town Series this year, gaining some high intensity training as well as helping the local shop with some points. This series is HIGHLY competitive, but really brings the community together to share the pain, suffering, & sting of short, cross-country races.

The first bigger local race was scheduled to be in May in our backyard, The Firebird 40. I work this event as well as race it – at times, very challenging… so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat relieved that it was rained out. It’s rescheduled for this weekend! Fingers crossed we will have the green light, and my lungs won’t shrink on me again – more on that later.

Leading up to the Firebird, the Vail Recreation District puts on a short track series. Basically, a circuit 20 min dirt-power test. The best way to get sharp… fast! This is when I first had a lung shrinking episode. The first race was in Wolcott, which is about 15 or so miles from where I live – a perfect warm up. I pedaled to the event, excited to get in a good hard effort, rode an easy lap, and then an opener lap on the course – then BAM… my body shut down. My throat closed up and gasping for air caused me to throw up what little I had in my stomach. Anytime I got back on my bike it would do it again. The race was at a ranch with horse poo everywhere, so I chalked it up to having poo in my lungs.


Over memorial day weekend, Jeff and I headed to Gunnison, CO for the Growler. Jeff did the full and I did the half – attempted to do the half that is. Leading up to this race I was so thrilled to get to race at Harman’s Rocks – the trails are SO MUCH FUN! They were either mind blowing fast and flowy or tricky and techy. Unfortunately, my race ended on the first climb as the half growlers were graced with bike breaking mud, and my cables had their last fit with the abuse I’ve been giving them over the season and frayed – I was stuck in my easiest gear and with a relatively flat and punchy course, I couldn’t bring myself to just ride it out. The next day, I went out and hammered myself on my other bike on the course in the best conditions EVER to dull the pain of not being able to finish on Saturday. Jeff had his own share of bad luck – in the finishing 9 miles of his 68 mile race he flatted, and flatted, and sliced his sidewall… ended up RUNNING his bike the remainder of the race. Bad luck for the Jarkoves that weekend – but that’s racing! How we handle adversity says much more about an athlete than how we handle victories.


The next race was the first town series event here in Eagle. The trails were immaculate – so fast, fun, and 100% on the gas the whole time. I felt great during this race and ended up second, close behind Gretchen Reeves – friend and forever hammer. Not much to say on this race as it was so short… and painfully fun.


The morning after this race I was off to a short visit with my family in Minnesota. One of my goals this year is staying more balanced – which means, more time with family. They may not fully understand my life, my choices, etc.. but I’ve learned that they don’t have to. They just have to love me and I just have to love them. Taking a week out of the busiest time of year for me is far more important than any work meeting, race or event. The photo below is my Aunt Audie – she has stories upon stories upon stories… one of the strongest women I know.



Back to the mountains – and back to the grind. A grind I love… working, riding, staying connected to my community! Why does “the grind” have to be associated with such a negative connotation? ;)

I opted out of the next race – The Go Pro Mountain Games. Frankly, I just wasn’t excited about it and was really craving some bigger loops vs lapped races. Exhibit A: Not caring what other people think, what you do, what you don’t do, etc. YOU know what’s best for YOU! By opting out of racing, I got in two big backcountry rides and supported my friend who was racing. Win/Win!

Now we are sitting here – this present moment, the day after my second lung squeezing episode. Last night was the second town series race – a course that I don’t mind, big climb, fast descent, big climb, fast descent, etc. Again, great training opportunity and time to connect with the community. Well – my race went to a screeching halt after the first lap… started out good, strong, felt ready to roll, started to create a gap on the climb… and with the first downhill my lungs shriveled, the wheezing started feeling like I was now breathing through a straw. I tried to ignore it, to fight it, to calm down my breath… but it wasn’t until up the midway second lap climb that I had to pull over as things started to go blotchy and I was about to topple over. Friends were there as well as a PT who got me calmed down. It took 10 minutes to regain my normal breath, but still with a high heart rate… feeling a little bit normal and knowing I would be by myself I decided to ride the last lap to just finish. The light was beautiful and I got to ride with some friends, offered encouragement, etc. I was frustrated, but happy to clip along at a non lung squeezing pace.

VRD_berrycreek2015-22-(ZF-7808-97695-1-001)This was a huge eye opener for me. I have been extremely stubborn with this issue over the past few months… on training rides I can just scale back and ignore it, but in races it puts me in a place of no return – it steals your fitness, your spark, your fire. I feel so fortunate to live in a community with so many people who genuinely care, offer support, advice, etc – Thank you. I have finally made the first steps and have an appointment for next week.

I couldn’t get in before this weekend’s Firebird 40, but decided I will still line up whether racing or riding… Long Live Big Loops!