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