Baby Clips, Scrunchies and Jnco Jeans

Remember in middle school when everyone got called into the gymnasium to go behind a curtain, take your shirt off, bend over and touch your toes? Scoliosis screening was something we all giggled about – but when I got called back for a second screening, the upwarn turn of my giggles neutralized to blank concern. Let’s face it, middle school is hard enough as it is. Throw in the fact that you have a deformity, well that just throws fuel to the fire of adoleschent insecurities.

So, there I was awkwardly looming my way through middle school with a monkey on my back. The monkey being a velvro strapped torchure contraption that, as I grew was suppose to cinch up my S curve. I went in and out of consistently wearing it. Not only was it uncomfortable, I was no longer able to fit into any of my clothes. Luckily, it was the 90′s and Jnco jeans and oversized Z-Cavarricci t-shirts were all the rage. I was a string bean with her hair pulled back in a baby clip, scrunchie, and oversized everything. What a time!


So, now I had a choice. I had been handed an extra obstacle in the game of life. Did I let it get me down? Did I feel sorry for myself? Did I run away from kids teasing? I honestly cannot remember. The fact that I cannot recall one moment when I felt singled out by my “deformity” is testiment enough that although I’m sure I fell into those moments of self pity, that it wasn’t enough to overtake who I was. What I do remember, is choosing to face it with a little humor. When kids started to make fun of me, I’d dare them to punch me as hard as they could in the stomach. Their teasing did not last long. Neither did my consistency of wearing that awful, uncomforable brace contraption.

Later on in life, I started to notice patterns. The more I moved, the better I felt. The less I moved, the more pain would creep in. After a handful of years of trying to find some kind of consistency as well as breaking my L5-S1, I knew I needed to take the health of my spine more seriously. Once one doctor mentioned the word “fushion”, that word surged like a cattle prod to PRIORITIZE this situation. He also added that even without the fushion I should never run, ski bumps, or any other kind of impact sports. As you can imagine, that wasn’t going to work for me.


So, what did I do? I researched alternative approaches to scoliosis. Everything I found came back to a combination of manual therapy, core strength, and yoga. So, from that part of my life on I focused on what I COULD do verses what doctors were telling me I coudl not do. The most helpful being yoga. Not only did a consistent practice start to shape my body to be both flexible and strong, it helped calm my monkey mind.

To let you know the severity of my curve, the last I had it checked in my early 20′s, I’m missing about two inches of height due to the snake of my spine. Considering I’m the same height now as I was then, I’d assume the degree of my curves have not changed. It’s not slowing me down any, either. Now, in my early 30′s as a professional endurance mtb athlete, I can confidently say I do not have back pain. I often forget I even have Scoliosis.


So, why do I bring this up? I received a phone call from a grandmother and mother who’s adolescent child is going through her first diagnosis and treatment decisions of Scoliosis. Through telling them my story it reminded me the important lesson of ‘choices’.

Choices. We all have choices. Do we choose to fall in line and let a diagnosis define us? Let a label tell us what we are and are not capable of? Or do we choose to learn how to take care of ourselves, how to love ourselves enough to take the appropriate steps in creating the best version of ourselves.

Choosing the later has brought me so much joy, and by sharing my story I hope it helps you choose the same.



Keep going… 2016 season wrap up!

Facebook has a way of reminding you how far you’ve come. Before I get into wrapping up my 2016 season, I’d like to share a post I made six years ago today:

Lot’s of “maybe’s” ….. Maybe I’ll have a job tomorrow, maybe I’ll have a ski pass this year, maybe I’ll have a little sponsorship for next year, maybe I’ll change out of my pj’s today…

All giggles aside, this really put things into perspective for me. Furthermore, here is an image that could really sum up my life 5 years ago.


Everything I owned jammed into my jeep – where I was fairly certain I was sharing the space with a small rodent. To no surprise, my life at the time mirrored the space around me and the thoughts in my head. A little uncertain, scattered, but with a good dose of humor and optimism. One thing was constant, and still is today – a little voice that kept reminding me, “keep going”.

As athletes I feel like we continuously look forwad. We forget to stop and take a glance behind our shoulder, and just give outselves a little pat on the back for how far we’ve come.

The results have been calculated, and I’m proud to say I was able to solidify an undefeated season as the 2016 National Ultra Endurance Marathon Champion. It was quite a trip that was a product of many years of ups and downs, hard work, stubborn nature, and a whole lot of fun! Without a doubt, having the support of Team Topeak-Ergon as well as LW Coaching at the helm helped propel me to smashing my goals. I am forever grateful for the support system I’ve accumulated over the years that have made these images become my reality.












Pierre's Hole 50/100 MTB Race at Grand Targhee Resort.

Pierre's Hole 50/100 MTB Race at Grand Targhee Resort.

Pierre's Hole 50/100 MTB Race at Grand Targhee Resort.


These images summarize to results of a breakthrough year. Not only did I figure out how to line up with a healthy body and mind each and every time I raced my bike, but I truly believed I was in the space I was meant to be in, and whatever the outcome – good or bad, I would grow, learn, and be just fine. This not only translated to race results, but my work and my relationships as well. Results alone do not motivate me – what keeps me charging is maintaining a balanced perspective on how to continue this bike life, growing as an individual, and giving back.

So, no matter how beat up you feel…know you will get up, recover, and come out stronger – there are better days ahead, you just have to keep going.




Rambling Reminders

“Be the Change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi


This is probably one of the most used quotes we go back to in challenging times – it teaches us to:

  1. Take a challenging situation and stop the judgemental thoughts in our head of what other people are doing that stirs up wrongful feelings inside us.
  2. Instead of directing our thoughts as to what THEY are doing wrong, it makes us look within ourselves.
  3. Then, it finally gives us the idea to take action on what WE can do, how WE let ourselves feel, and what WE can do as a response – the one and only thing we have control over in this world is ourselves.

This quote is actually the summary of Gandhi’s real words.

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi


Being a passionate person who tends to get pulled by the fire in my belly, I like to go back to this quote…a LOT. It reminds me not only the three lessons I listed above, it also reminds me that no one has the power to take away my happiness. That if I go back to the three lessons, the world around me will be a reflection of the happiness, love, peace, and equality that I’ve instilled in my heart. The ultimate goal is to cultivate an unbreakable selfless love for the world around us. To send love to those who need it the most, and through the care for others we will be filled with light and joy.


Our time is short, and it is up to us what we do with that time.



NUE #4 – Pierre’s Hole 100k and the Glorification of ‘Busy’

To say that this race report is late would be an understatement. Did anyone notice? Highly doubtful, but apologetically flattering if by some reason my delay in recalling the rollercoaster of my final National Ultra Endurance Marathon race has left you somewhat empty. If you didn’t catch that, that was an attempt at comedic sarcasm. :) The truth, I’ve just been busy. That word. Busy. I despise it… so, let’s just say my days have been logistically filled to the brim and trying to find extra words for myself has been low on the totem pole. More on that later – but first, the race!

My maturity, or lack there of, cannot help but giggle every time the name “Pierre’s Hole” would come up in conversation. This set the tone leading up to the race. I couldn’t wait to see what lied within Pierre’s Hole. What would it present? Who would be in there? Etc. Etc. Etc. In all seriousness, I was most looking forward to this race of all the NUE marathon races. Like Tatanka, it would be completely new to me. Again, new to me trails, competition, and long travel.

After a full day in the van, we arrived to the Grand Targhee Resort surrounded by amazing views! I was in full on tourist mode leading up and during the race, face pressed up against the sprinter van window, gawking at glimpses of the Grand Tetons. The vistas were truly stunning, and the awe of this backdrop never changed throughout our stay.


We were lucky to arrive early and join our teammate Jeremiah Bishop for a pre-ride two days prior to the race, guided by a friend and local photographer Cody Downard. This gave us ample time to ride a good portion of the lap. Wanting to see the biggest part of the course that would potentially present a few surprises, we rode the first half of the lap, the biggest climb, and the biggest descent. Wanting to be sure I came with proper equipment, I asked around about gearing and bike choice. After much debate, I chose to run a dropper post on my Canyon 100mm FS Lux with a 30T SRAM front chainring. This was the safest, most fun set up having never ridden the trails and getting mixed reports as far as the technicality.



The course is set up as a 2 lap race for the 100k racers and 3 laps for the 100-mile racers, comprised nearly 100% of single track with bits of road thrown in to connect the great trails. I was blown away by the amount of trails this resort had. The trails were FAST, relatively smooth, nothing was too steep up or down, and most sections were quite flowy – with the exception of the longest descent of the day, 38 special. This trail is aptly named for its THIRTY EIGHT switchbacks!


I was bummed to see that there was not a large women’s field. However, this allowed me to play it relatively safe. From the first climb, I wanted to put in some good distance and get in a good position once we hit the single track. Within a few minutes, I found myself just off the tail end of the lead group – they apparently did not start racing until a ways into the climb when they went out of sight. Everything was feeling good, climbing, bike handling, communication with the men around me, etc. Once we neared the first descent, 38 special, I took one of the switchbacks too fast and caught a loose corner – quickly landing me on the ground! Crap, crashing does not aid to your overall speed.

Pierre's Hole 50/100 MTB Race at Grand Targhee Resort.

From that switchback on, I decided to cool it down – I was fine, there was no need to make any more silly mistakes. Keeping a steady pace, I came in through aid 1 with a six minute lead on second place. Friend and former Eagle resident Colleen Downard helped me with time splits and nutrition throughout the race. It was so nice having race support and not having to plan to stop. This kind of support at every race would be a dream!

Pierre's Hole 50/100 MTB Race at Grand Targhee Resort.

Catching a wheel here or there would motivate me to keep pushing as I tend to fall into a place all on my own during these marathon races – I’m usually just off the top 10 men and ahead of the rest. So, when someone comes around it gives me a pep in my step. The extra special pep from this race came from Road World Champion and heartthrob Peter Sagan. Sagan raced the 1 lap, 50k race in preparation for the Olympics. I will never forget the “moment” we had (I created in my mind) as he passed me. In all seriousness, it was a pretty cool experience to get passed by such talent and see him first hand, working SO HARD! It puts it all into perspective really, we are ALL suffering, we just go at different paces. And some of us just look a little more disheveled. Haha.


Coming in through the first lap, I made another cornering whoopsies and ended up crashing on my OTHER side, as well as later finding out, bending my derailleur. Lap 1 now gave me a 9-minute lead, and I still felt great. I knew this next climb I could really rail, then told myself to COOL IT on the descents. Well, racing can be completely unpredictable and as I hit the first climb of the second lap I kept dropping my chain. It caused me to stop 4 more times on the climb as each time I tried to keep it in my climbing gear, it would just dive off. SO – I resorted to keeping it mid cassette and just mashing everything I could. I quickly found out how inefficient this is, and how silly single speeders are. My last resort was just talking to my bike until the next aid station, promising to give it a day at the spa after this race.

I rolled into the next aid station with reprieve of Nate Carey, ace mechanic who had me rolling in just a few minutes and handfuls of watermelon. Knowing I just lost a bucket of time, wasted a ton of energy, I ran scared the rest of the race – all the way through the finish line, I kept my power steady, decisions smart, and lines smooth. Losing much of my gap, I only came in 6 minutes ahead of second place – I was a lucky girl with all of the wrenches I was thrown throughout the 64 miles and 8k of climbing. Knowing I secured the fourth straight NUE marathon win washed away all the drama that happened prior to crossing the line.

This win seems so long ago, but the feeling of accomplishment for a successful season still remains. It looks as though I have won the overall, but won’t know for sure until the end of the month.

Breck Epic 2016 Stage 4 – Aqueduct

Since this race, I went right into Breck Epic prep week and then work week. My words became consumed with media caption writing, email threading, and the customer service perma-grin. I do love Breck Epic week – it’s amazing to call the Breckenridge backcountry my office for six days of around the clock media fun. It just shifts the focus from my own racing to the success of the race and other’s races. Which then runs right into our next event, The Vail Outlier Offroad Festival…and THEN, we are getting married!

With the back to back events, I decided to take the whole month of September off of any kind of structured training or races, to keep my focus on being successful at my job and not losing my marbles trying to plan a wedding. This didn’t go without squeezing in one more town series race with a last minute peel away from my computer to race one more time. I’m so glad I did, as the points from the last race secured me the overall women’s win! It may seem silly to be that proud of a local series win, but this series is the place I started riding and racing six years ago – it’s been my foundation and my community that’s boosted me to competing on a more national level. With names like Jay Henry and Gretchen Reeves, it’s a great feeling to have worked my way up the ranks in our very humble yet talented local field.

So… here I am. All of my marbles are here too! Have I been busy since the last NUE race? Sure. Am I letting it drag me down and consume my happiness…no ma’am. I’m just stepping away from the added pressure of structured training to be able to fit in a more free schedule to explore, cruise, do plenty of yoga, or not do anything at all in my free time. The last part is definitely hard, but after six months of successful racing without injury or burnout – I think it’ll be ok. Every season is a building block to the next, and I’m already making my 2017 goals, and mayyyyyyyyybe even squeezing in one last 2016 race adventure after getting hitched.


So – hope to see you on the trails, at our events, or on the dance floor of our wedding. That rug isn’t going to cut itself!




NUE Marathon #3 – Tatanka 50k

This past weekend we packed our bags and headed to the hills, The Black Hills. Growing up just 6 hours East on I-90, I was excited to head back and get to race on trails “somewhat” close to home. Through my first 22 years living in Minnesota, the closest thing I got to mountain biking was skipping ditches on our moped. Jeff grew up in Iowa and has made a handful of trips out to The Black Hills to ride and race mountain bikes – so, we planned to arrive a few days early so that I could get the feel for the new terrain, as well as take in the local attractions!


The race is a three distance option point to point, an Epic 80 miles, a Marathon 50k or a Sprint 15 miler along the iconic Centennial Trail. Following the National Ultra Endurance Marathon Series, I had the 50k to look forward to. On paper, 50k seems pretty short for a marathon race, but with a course comprised of nearly 100% singletrack, the distance ended up feeling perfect. Oh yeah, we also started at 12noon with an ambient temperature of 111 degrees F setlling into the 90′s for the remainder of the race. 50k was plenty for me to manage with heat like that! After getting heat stroke in Costa Rica two years ago, my body seems to be a little more sensitive to the extremes. Knowing this, I was quick to consult my coach Lynda Wallenfels as to how to be prepared and stay strong through the high temps.


My heat survival tips guided by LW:

  • I started hydrating on and off with water and GU electrolyte tabs four days leading up to the race. This may have made for constant potty breaks, but it was well worth the extra flushing.
  • If I managed the heat well, I estimated my finish time at 3:30 and up to 4:00 if I withered and suffered. I prepared my hydration plan for 4 – ended up drinking every last drop of what I had packed for 4 hours and ended up finishing in 3:30!
  • Lynda gave me some pro tips like after drinking out of your pack, to blow back into the hose so that the water in the hose doesn’t roast. Starting with a pack filled with ice water, this offered up a nice refreshing drink every 10-15 minutes or so. Something so obvious, but NEVER crossed my mind.
  • Lynda also gave me strict pacing instructions. “Go slow to finish fast”, she told me. Much like someone who is not accustomed to racing at altitude, if you go too hard at the start you’ll end up feeling it throughout the remainder of the race – which will make you go backwards. Basically, keep a lid on it!


So, with the above list, I was as ready as I’d ever be to battle the heat and race a new trail system! Other Colorado locals Alex Pond and Becky Edmiston and I joined the shuttle ride to Piedmont, South Dakota for our 12-noon start. Alex and I talked about the day and how we both were going to keep it cool at the start, he said he wouldn’t lead it out, and I said I wouldn’t catch his wheel. Well, within the first two minutes of the race I found myself sitting on Alex’s wheel as he lead us out. Oops! Checking my shoulder, I had a group of men hot on my wheel so as soon as we made a turn off onto the gravel road I kindly let them pass me by so I wouldn’t get caught up in going too hard.


From here to the start of the Centennial Trail, our route followed a bit of dirt road to a side creek trail that was intermittent two track, random rocks and side cut singletrack. Maintaining a steady pace, I was able to make up a few of the spots I let slip by on the road – always being sure I never felt my head throb or legs twinge. I let my body do the talking and followed its lead with a steady, forward momentum.


Hitting the Centennial Trail, we were greeted by Dirt Wire extraordinaire Thom Parsons and the NUE Race Director Ryan O’Dell. Both offered cheers and told me I was riding top 5 overall. This was surprising, so surprising that I nearly crashed clipping my bar on a wood post on one of the trail bridges! Haha – luckily, I saved it, laughed it off, and continued along up a great climb on winding trail.


From the top of the first big climb, we plummeted down through the trees, twisting, bobbing and weaving…even blowing a few switchbacks as they came sharp and quick! This was a hoot, and lead down to four or five creek crossings that were bone dry and filled with bowling ball rocks. I bobbed on the first but sailed through the rest, keeping the fun high and the momentum good into the second aid. This is where I saw familiar colors and rolled up to a cooked Jeff downing an ice cold cup of coke. My first response was, “What are you doing here?!?” as I quickly dropped my pack, picked up two bottles, and gladly took an ice towel and cool water splash from the kind aid station helpers. Assuring myself he was OK, I rolled on yelling back “COME WITH ME”. He did not.


I rolled on and knew there would be one more big climb, one super fun long descent, a mini climb and a “this is going to suck” stretch through a meadow before the finish. (***the guy who started our race told us just that, “the meadow is going to suck”). I continued my steady pace up all the climbs, chose safe lines on the descents, and kept downing my GU Energy Labs nutrition plan.

Our race started to merge with the Sprint racers, which caused me to take one wrong turn. One corner was a little confusing and a woman from the trail below said where she was coming from was where I needed to go. It only took me a few moments of bushwacking to know this was not the way, and showed her the right turn and carried on. It was so rad to see so many kids doing the sprint course. They had a big day, pushed up some steep pitches, but got to enjoy the most fun descent of the entire day! I absolutely loved giving high fives and hoots and hollers of encouragement as I passed.


Before I knew it, I was to the I-90 crossing. To our luck, a storm was rolling in providing great cloud coverage and tempered the heat – I’m sure this made for a quick trip to the finish line and before I knew it, I was navigating the bike path to the finish line. I came across in a steady 3:30, no heat stroke, no leg cramps, and a huge grin ear to ear securing my third NUE Marathon win!


It’s been so fun following a series this year, getting to travel to new places and explore new trails! I have to say, the best thing about following this series has really been sharing it with our bike family who are doing the same. After awards, the crew got to hit the town of Sturgis for some good local treats! Next up will be Pierre’s Hole, another new location, course, and competition. It’s sure to dish up big climbs, stunning views, and pristine high alpine singletrack. I can’t wait!

Huge thanks to Team Topeak-Ergon for the support. Being a member of this team has given me an immense motivation to continue working hard and finding balance each day through this bike life.



NUE Marathon #2 Bailey Hundito – Finding Balance

With my eyes set on the NUE Marathon Series, I sit here a few days post Bailey Hundito, my second win of the series, very content wth the postponement of our Wednesday night town series hill climb. Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOVE a good hill climb, but was happy to postpone. There is the obvious reason as to the safety of the riders climbing up to a radio tower in the rain, thunder, and lightning. Then, there’s the accumulated fatigue and mental haze from the past training block and peak for last weekend’s race. Not one to back down out of my commitments, I knew I had to make this one as a few others conflict with summer travel, so I was ready to slug myself up that hill. With the storm that rolled in, I’ll take the rest, as I’ve been dragging a little more than usual after the Hundito.


It’s been fun, and very helpful training opportunities using the local short track and XC races for some speed work in the space between NUE races. There was a huge chunk of time between True Grit and Bailey, so in that time I’ve been jumping into our local races and even got to participate in an event I help put on – The Firebird 40 – Colorado XC State Championships. All races have been great race experiences, playing with different pacing strategies, pushing my limits a little further and coming away with four wins and one second place (behind world cupper Erin huck)! With the good comes the bad, and I had one DNF at the Gunnison Growler with a hard lesson and reminder in being proactive with my temperamental allergy/asthma routine.




Aside from racing I’ve been planning our wedding, working at Uncommon Communications and getting our first session of VVASA MTB 101 kids camp up and rolling. Finding balance in it all has been much more fluid than in years past. For whatever reason, this year I feel more together, confident, grateful, and happy. I’m not as easily swayed when things go wrong – I accept that they will go wrong, and remind myself that it’s in how I handle those moments that define me as an athlete and individual. Something that has really helped is that I have been much more aware of my support system – they are unwavering, always there no matter if I succeed or fall; Jeff, my family, friends, and my coach.


I got to fully experience the race support at Bailey as Jeff was still recovering from a record temp Big Fricken Loop 108 mile race the weekend prior. He drove us to Bailey, took care of my bike, made sure I got up at 4am, made my coffee & oatmeal, and was at the Aid Station with needed GU nutrition so I wouldn’t have to scrounge for my bag. I really got the royal treatment; it was awesome to only have to focus on enjoying riding my bike smooth and consistent. Spoiled!


That treatment really made the day a LOT easier. I was relaxed, excited and confident in my equipment, body and mind. From the start I took control, kept a consistent pace, and ticked away the miles – finishing first of the women and 8th overall in the men. It was a solid effort – one that I still feel lingering a touch.




So, now I rest, reap the rewards and start planning for the next NUE’s as we head to Tatanka in a couple weeks followed by Pierre’s Hole at The Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming in August. Rounding out the NUE season, we’ll head back to Costa Rica in early September for the Volcano100. There’s still a whole lotta racing to be had this season, and I am so thrilled to explore new locations, meet new people and challenges ahead!


Thank you for reading, for your support, and encouragement.



Mawiage is wot bwings us togeder tooday…

I’ve never been the little girl who dreamt of the day she’d be married. In fact, I have always kind of questioned the whole process. What I saw, and I soon came to believe, was that when you got married, you ever so gradually stopped pursuing your own goals and adventures. That after saying, “I do” to whoever is standing across from you, you are really saying “adios” to that free-spirit, child-like energy within you. The fear is that the pace at which this separation would happen would be so slow, you never really realize you’re losing it…until it’s too far gone and you have become so consumed with the daily “busy’s” that once you realize you’re missing yourself the distance becomes too unfamiliar to know how to make the trek back.


Well, guess what. I’m engaged. Shit. ;)

So, how did I get here? What changed my mind, and what have I learned in the short time I’ve had this gold, peak-notched band on my finger?


First, I got here by learning how to let love in. I had to first learn how to truly love myself, and be completely content alone. This allowed me to see the love that had been staring me in the face for years in a way I never knew existed. A lesson my dad taught me years ago, “you have to love yourself first” – a lesson, that like a lot of things took a good chunk of time to really sink it.

There wasn’t one particular thing that changed my mind on marriage. I would say, it’s been a growing process of truly learning that life is what you make it. How you eat an apple could be completely different than the way I eat an apple. In fact, the way you SEE an apple could be different than the way I see it. One way not better than another, but both ways serving what each needs. The same with marriage. I have met so many different couples that approach their partnership in completely different, beautiful ways. As much as people like to tell you that their approach is the best, I’m finding the advice I feel the most drawn towards is less rigid and more learn as you go, but learn together.

For us, marriage isn’t the concept of ‘two becoming one’, but more a partnership. We are both adventure seekers, trying to see and experience as much as we can, and with someone like that by your side – the world is our playground! Our goals are not to grow inward, but to continue to grow outward to make some kind of positive impact in this crazy world.

In the short time, I said yes, I have actually learned a lot. The biggest lesson I have learned is that as much as this moment is about Jeff and me – it’s really about our loved ones as well. It’s been something that has brought our families together in a way they haven’t been in awhile. Admittedly, my life hasn’t been quite understood… but after making this decision, I have talked with family members more so than ever – and that has been really nice.

After being with Jeff for over four years, I didn’t think taking this step could really be much different. Again, I was wrong. It is a whole new level of love. For me, it’s not the “shout from the mountain top” kind of love, but more so this deeper connection of, “I’ve got your back…always” kind of love. That, too, has been really nice.


So, if anything… what I’ve learned… is that I really know nothing, but to just be open to what life has to offer, and to always stay true to myself. The only way you can lose yourself is if you make the choice to let it slide by.





International Day of Happiness

Recently, Facebook so eloquently nudged a reminder of where I was four years ago. A blog post I had written, “Equally prepared to succeed as I am to fail” surfaced, and I was instantly brought back to all the thoughts that were bouncing back and forth in my 27-year-old head.

It’s the moment or part of our lives we go through self-discovery to figure out what pulls us out of this downward spiral of self-doubt.

My 20′s were filled with ups, downs, and back and forth rollercoasters. Wanting everything to happen at that very moment, versus trusting the process and having a little patience. Common for a 20 something? Sure. Was I content with this constant pull of clutter in my head, no.

So many adolescent girls go through that awkward, unsure stage of their lives where these self-doubts clutter their everyday thoughts.  These thoughts then start to shape how they carry themselves, how they process interactions and relationships, and what they aspire to become.

In the post, I wrote about how cycling pulled me out of this clutter. What I learned since this post, was that it’s not just cycling that has made me who I am, allowed me to be happy, know myself more deeply, and truly feel happiness.

Cycling allowed me to shut everything else out. It was a pause button to the reality of every single influence that was knocking on my door. The time on my bike gave me an unapologetic space to be sad, happy, confused…but most importantly, it gave me time and space to breathe through it all. It gave me a glimpse of the first look to my OWN thoughts, the first sounds of my OWN voice.

In a way, it was a gateway drug to a healthier lifestyle. As I spent more time on my bike, I became more in tuned with myself. I started treating my body with more kindness through eating better, drinking less, and sleeping more. By learning to be alone in my own thoughts, through meditation, I gradually started stripping myself of all the layers trying to be something I’m not. I was finding my happy. What I found was that I didn’t need anyone’s approval to be happy – it was an inside job.

I feel like the simplicity of two wheels, a dirt trail, rocks, roots, bumps, bruises, laughs, and friendships along the way completely saved me.  Saved me from living someone else’s life and never truly knowing myself, my capabilities, or my breaking points.

The best part of all was when I learned I didn’t need anyone’s approval – my life started to become richer with all the things I was forcing in my 20′something-year-old self. Less force, and more ease. My outlook has become less of “success vs failure” and more about learning from my mistakes, and not letting hiccups completely turn my world upside down. Being an eternal student, and understanding it’s OK not to have it all figured out.

So, today, on International Day of Happiness – I hope you start the conversation of what that is for you so that instead of just one day of happiness, you start to cultivate a life of happiness.


True Grit 50: Cross-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed

The first race of the year brings on a full gamut of emotions, from the pre-race nerves, start line electricity, and the finish line elation. Who am I kidding, I go through this entire spectrum pretty much each and every race I line up for – Ha. I think I just forget about it after not racing for four months. The past weekend was no exception. I was all of the feels; excited, nervous, and ready to line up for the first National Ultra Endurance Marathon Series kick off.


Committing myself to a full series has proposed a little challenging since I started riding and racing five years ago. I somehow always ran into roadblocks of health halts and financial woes. Continuously seeking and fighting balance, the scale evened out a bit in 2015. I was able to put together a solid season and felt ready to start looking at some bigger goals. With a new level of support, I decided to follow the NUE Marathon Series. I plan on hitting 5 races all over the US and Costa Rica! The first stop was in St. George, UT this past weekend at the True Grit 50.

I had done this race twice before, two years ago coming in third, and last year coming in second. The theme of 2015 was a full season of 2nd and 3rd place finishes. This culmination of results had me thirsty for a win. The challenge of pulling off a W at the True Grit Epic was a combination of the need for early season fitness and technical skill. Two things that can be difficult living in the mountains. I quickly found that it was just an adjustment of priority – I made an effort to do the work, schedule desert trips, and absorb every ounce of wisdom from LW Coaching.

With all the work behind me, it was time to line up. I was happy to see a bigger field this year and excited to get started. I could barely sit still during the National Anthem! Finally, the countdown hit the end of its rope and we were off. Starting with a neutral roll out, I made sure I stayed up front, but not too far up front. I didn’t want to get caught up in the top 15 pro men as I’d be sure to blow a fuse within the first 45 minutes.

As soon as we hit dirt, I was in my zone and quickly took the lead. I got into a good rhythm throughout the first series of knife edge climbs and technical descents. Through the first aid station, I took a bottle hand-up from friend Richie, aka Mountain Bike Jesus and was on my way to Zen, the most technical loop of the whole course. For the most part, I kept it smooth through Zen, being careful not to waste any energy on moves that wouldn’t pay off in the end. Here is where I still count my blessings I had put on a dropper post. I hit one of the rock roll sections a little less rolly and a little more nose wheelie that welcomed. With the ability to get low and throw my weight back, I was able to save a crash and ride it out. Yikes!

Exiting Zen, my friends gave assurance I had a good lead. Taking two more bottles of GU Energy Labs Roctane, I carried onto the second half of the course. This half was much less technical and much more “on the gas”. Knowing I had a good lead, I decided to scale it back a notch. I enjoyed the middle finger drops followed by the Poppy trail flow before flipping it to the Stucki climb. This is where my “scaled back” pace started feeling reallllly slow. Something wasn’t right. I ignored any hesitation and just kept plugging away to the ripping fun descent at the end of the never-ending monotony of Stucki.

Once on this ripping fast descent, I knew what was up. My front tire was low. I must’ve burped it during my Zen nose wheelie! Not wanting to waste a CO2, I precariously got my way to where I knew there was on course support. Any dip in the trail, I’d lean back and unweight the front end as much as possible to get me to where I could either use a floor pump, or say goodbye to one of my CO2 cartridges. With luck, the on course support had a floor pump. He got me back up to my lucky 19psi from what had been riding at 12psi! Yikes, no time to worry about that too much, it was time to carry onto the next set of trails.

This is my favorite part of the course, one short rim loop followed by the best loop of the whole day Barrel Roll. After the short rim loop, I got to the two-way traffic the moment the second place woman was starting the rim loop. Having it in my head how much of a lead I had, I kept it steady – however, once I hit Barrel Roll I was unsure if my steady was too slow and started frantically getting myself to the finish line. This resulted in a comical flailing moment that I was so lucky to share with my friend, Noah Sears followed by an equally comical uphill crash! Oh man, GET ME TO THE FINISH!

Once I hit the pavement, I had it in my head that any guy I saw was a girl and ran scared the whole way to the finish line. With one last glance over my shoulder, I was in the clear and for the first time ever threw my hands up and crossed the True Grit 50 with the win!


YAHOOOOOOOOO! I did it! I was so happy, and so done. Hit my goal of under 4 hours with a finish of 3:53, and got the TOP STEP among some pretty stellar ladies.



The rest of the day was flooded with all the feels. Proud of my day, the day my friends had, the Thai food we all devoured, and of course – Menchies. We were all pretty YOLO for FROYO by the end of the day.



I can quite honestly say, I couldn’t have pushed myself to the limit that I did without the top notch coaching from LW, support from Team Topeak-Ergon, fast wheels to have chased the weeks leading up to the race, and the encouraging words from friends. This community is unlike any other – a real family. Thanks for helping me get here. I can’t wait to see where we go from here!








Coach’s Corner: The Benefits of Training with Power on the MTB


For the past two seasons, I have been using power on my road bike for specific interval training. Being able to hand over raw data to my coach, Lynda Wallenfels has helped her strategically maneuver my schedule to keep increasing my fitness and motivation without risking burnout. Using power, I treat workouts like a game of Super Mario, as if hitting my numbers and beyond will earn me that 1UP.

This has worked great for indoor training and days on the road when the dirt is still covered in snow. However, once the thaw hits my motivation to grab the road bike goes down and all I want to do is ride dirt. That makes training a little more variable as I’m purely going off heart rate and perceived exertion. This has worked – OK, but who wants to settle for ok? After a successful 2015, it was a no-brainer to add a Stages Cycling Power Meter to help boost my training into the 2016 season. The crank set up was quick and easy, and the pricing is quite reasonable. Click the image below to check out their site.


If more miles on dirt isn’t reasoning enough, I went to LW to ask her input on other important benefits of training with power on the mountain bike.

KJ: What do you find is the biggest benefit of adding power to your mountain bike vs. just using it on the road?

LW: With power meters on all bikes you get a complete picture of the athlete’s efforts. Fundamental to endurance training is to apply a training load followed by recovery. What is the optimal load? Optimal recovery period? Before power we could only guess. In 2003 Dr. Andrew Coggan developed a set of metrics that models workout stress, longer term training fatigue, fitness and recovery (form). We worked with him as beta testers to refine these for practical use. Since then we’ve learned a lot about the “when” and “how much” variables of training.

KJ: Where do you see the advantages of looking at an athlete’s power versus heart rate?

LW:  Heart rate is a response where power is what moves the bike. Heart rate his highly variable – down a coffee or Red Bull and your HR goes up for the same power (in most cases – but maybe not). Power data is objective ground truth – what really happened, what the athlete can do. Power data can be used to identify strengths and weaknesses. Once identified, creating the ideal program for an athlete based on event demands and goals becomes much more clear.

Spotting a limiter example: with power data, it might be discovered that an athlete has trouble at low cadence, high power efforts. These are often crux in MTB events. So, this athlete would benefit by doing some hard, low cadence steep climbs – and probably some SS work.

Power profile example: power data tells you how much power you can maintain normalized to body weight, and there are known ranges for various levels of cycling from recreational to world class, and they are broken into time bins (sprint, neuromuscular, VO2max, threshold). This is more info to help assess and figure out where the biggest gains can be made for the goal event.

KJ: Is it possible to rely too heavily on data? Could data ever hold an athlete back?

LW: Quite the opposite! Most athletes are prone to overtraining. Who wants to ride easy when stoke level goes to 11, right Karen? When used right, power data helps the athlete stay on track to reach goals. In most cases we advocate athletes to race with power meters but not looking at them, instead racing by feel. That “feel” is a calibration of your senses to what you can actually do, and gained by training with power. Training with power teaches you to execute.

In short, power data is knowledge, and with knowledge comes power.

KJ: Do you have any tools or resources for mountain bike athletes to learn more about training with power?

LW: Glad you asked. Resources first:

The fundamental power metrics are described at Normalized power is the base metric to which all others are related. explains the concepts behind the Performance Manager Charts. This is a tool available with paid TrainingPeaks subscriptions and WKO+ software.

The concepts of power profiling on TrainingPeaks

Now, some tools. is a great place to store your data as a starting point. Most worthwhile services can connect to your garmin account and automatically receive and process your files anytime you upload to garmin. As a bonus (and this is huge over time) it’s a backup of your precious power data. lists the TrainingPeaks offerings. The online athlete edition (premium) includes several tools to analyze your power data, including PMC, power profiling and a power file viewer. Their phone app is great too. WKO+ desktop software has advanced features and is only recommended for true geeks. has great support for power in the premium version. At $6/month it’s a bargain. It generates a PMC style fitness/fatigue/form chart for you.



It generates a power curve for every file, and compares the current ride’s data to your historical data.


Strava probably doesn’t need further description here, but using the power data as well as segment times makes it easy to test different pacing strategies.

KJ: Thanks Lynda!

As you can see, there are many benefits to training with power. Even if you are someone who goes cross-eyed when you start looking at data. That’s where having a coach plays a huge role in continuing to make gains in your sport. He or she does that work for you, and you can just focus on following directions. If you’re not ready to jump into coaching, start by taking a look at the online tools Lynda mentioned to fully reap the benefits of using power.

Want to ask Lynda more about power? Check out her facebook page, LW Coaching. Each month she does an open coaching day where you can ask about any of your training and racing questions. Her next one is coming up Feb. 4th! Click the image below to check out LW’s facebook page.

Feb 4th 2016 Open coaching day

Lynda has been a plethora of knowledge to my training and racing over the past two seasons. I’ve never been one to hold something good to myself, so please check it out – and happy training. :)