Making ends meet…

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Sometimes the words come easy – and others they are like trying to catch a pig in a tub of jello. Not that I know what that would be like, but as I’d imagine it would be equal parts entertaining and frustrating.

I digress. I also have not written in quite some time, which has been a trend over the past year.

My last post – I had just wrapped up my 2014 race season a very sugarless description of sub par in my opinion. Bad luck and an over thinking attitude, topping it off with money stress caused me to not race a whole lot mid season on. When I did race, I wasn’t tapping into my potential and continuously getting in my own way.

Funny how some time and space really brings your faults to your attention vs. putting on the Minnesota “I’m fine” and fighting your way to the next “ok” performance. Sounds harsh, but for where I want to take my riding, marketing career and life experiences – I can’t afford to make the same mistakes twice. Especially in a world where it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain sponsorship. Let’s face it – cycling is an amazingly expensive habit, and for those of us who are a bit vagabond and passion driven vs. money and reliability driven – it becomes our yearly battle to just get all the pieces to come together to make it to the start line while not going further into debt.

So, I sell some more gear, work hard when it’s coming in, babysit, house sit, dog sit and constantly search for reliable & consistent work (with the flexibility to ride/train/travel) <–the unicorn of all careers.

The funny thing is, with all the stress of making ends meet – I wouldn’t really have it any other way. I don’t know any other way. It’s either this way – or working the grind and not riding or pursuing what makes me light up.

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As sponsorships come and go – being accepted and declined. I still sit here eager to start a new season, reminding myself I am just entering my 4th year and to be grateful for everything that has lead me to this very moment.

This moment that is very real – returning from three days of Moab chunky bliss to my little space in the mountains. Unlike any other trip back from a riding binge, this trip I return with a heavy heart reminding me how precious life really is.

Spread kindness, inspiration and support… always, as you never know when your last moments are up.

Off Season Reflections

As my roots grow a little deeper into the cycling community, my reflections become a little less race focussed and a little more life focused.

I have learned so much in the past three years of racing a bike, and have been fortunate to have a supportive base that enjoys seeing me succeed and stays by my side when I fall.

As supportive as my friends and family can be – I am my mother’s daughter and am exceptionally stubborn. For this reason, I tend to learn things the hard way.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that when my mind gets laser focussed on results – I fall a part. I lose what pulls me the most – the fun. I may not be the elbows out – fierce competitor you see racing every weekend… but I do have a competitive nature that is pulled not by results, but by adventure, thrill, and pushing my own boundaries. Pushing my boundaries to catch a glimpse at what my potential is… in my racing, my relationships, my career, my life.

So, as I soak up the last bit of fall… playing on trails, learning new skills, catching up with loved ones… I will work on what matters the most… having fun… and whatever 2015 will bring… I will line up as an example of someone who is motivated by just that – fun.

In the meantime – enjoy this photo string of what I have been up to…

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Rincon de la Vieja MTB 100

One thing has been constant since I was a little girl is that I never shy away from a challenge or adventure. When Jeff asked me if I wanted to come along to Costa Rica with him to race the RIncon de la Vieja 100 Challenge I’m not sure I even let him finish his sentence as I was quickly ‘eugoogalizing’ what I was getting myself into.

The Rincon de la Vieja is Latin America’s first and ONLY 100 mile mountain bike race. What further sets this race a part is the course’s profile is like a saw blade that cuts through 5 different microclimates while circumnavigating an active volcano! I’m not sure I could think of any other event that could test all my weaknesses; distance, extreme temperatures, and a weak stomach in a foreign country. Challenge aside, I was fueled and motivated by the pure adventure the race would provide. Not to mention getting to share it with my partner in crime.

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Our travels were quick and easy. Each flight I was glued to the window as if it were my first time on an airplane, and as we made our landing into Liberia, Costa Rica I was like a little kid hopped up on pixie sticks. The race director Juan Carlos Villa Solano, his wife Laura and crew made our logistics seamless from the moment our feet touched Costa Rican land to when we headed back to the USA. His wife Laura who seemed to have the event running smoothly by the huevos picked us up from the airport with a crew. We were joined by four other Americans, Sonya and Matt Ewonus, and Brenda and Lee Simril.

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The race photographer Adres Vargas of Lead Adventure Media drove us to the hotel we would call home for the next four days; Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. I was happy he was driving as the roads were narrow, winding, rough and there seemed to be no speed limit. Throughout the week I was constantly amazed how everyone got along on the roads with no aggression (American fail numero uno). Cars, trucks, bicycles, farmers herding their animals – everyone shared the narrow sometimes single lane roads and no birds or curse words were thrown out.

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Our accommodations were perfect, the beds were comfortable, we had running water, and the food was amazing. It was the first resort I have been to where I knew what I was eating came from the land within a five mile radius of the resort. No sign of a waffle batter self serve machine, packaged pastries or fake sugar packets near the coffee. (American fail numero dos) Our sector of rooms were quickly renamed the American compound. The only noises we heard around us were the sounds of the farm animals waking up, cicada screams, and the occasional monkey squeal. None of which was a nuisance but more a comfort bringing me back to growing up on a farm. I quickly befriended the free range goat, farm dogs, and was the first to climb the giant tree filled with vines out or front door.

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As the race time was nearing the excitement was building. Maybe it was that I had no idea what anyone was saying during the race meeting or that I couldn’t understand anyone’s nervous chatter around me, but I was 100% calm, ready and excited for the adventure ahead.

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The race was broken up into 6 aid stations, referred to as PC1, PC2, PC3, and so on. Our race start was scheduled for 5:30 am which due to some delay from all the racers getting there actually started rolling at 6:00am. Starting in the Northern Pacific dry plains of the Pampa Guanacastera we had a 30 minute neutral roll out, downhill on what would be the finishing climb at the end of the race. This was probably the only ever true neutral rollout I have ever experienced. Besides some yo-yo’ing from the pack and the occasional rear tire skid from riders around me it was fairly smooth and uneventful. I had a great position and separated myself from the mess fairly quickly as we set off on some of the steepest roads I have ever raced on. You knew the road was going to kick up to a wall when it would go from gravel to paved. I found myself getting a little caught up in the excitement of these aggressive roads and looking back probably went too hard within the two hours of the race. Something coach Lynda warned me about, but my age in racing really showed and I was just having too much fun!

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Andres Vargas – Lead Adventure Media

The parent like voice of coach Lynda was starting to get more stern, so I scaled it back as we began our venture into the Cloud Forest. This section was cloudy (obviously), wet, muddy, and full of river crossings. Temperatures were perfect ranging from mid 70′s to low 80′s. Moments of this microclimate were eerie but oddly calming. I saw rivers that were so crystal clear and blue that they looked fake, and the BUTTERFLIES! HOLY COW, the butterflies were the size of your HEAD and as blue as whatever those blue things were in the movie Avatar.

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Next, was the climb up to their Continental Divide into the Tropical Rainforest. Finally, we had a long, somewhat “settling in” climb which felt similar to Colorado terrain. As I began my descent off the Continental Divide, my body was craving a long, ripping downhill for some fun and enjoyment. Instead, it was like I was in a boxing match with a low grade descent that required big ring pedaling with a few blows of steep pitches thrown in for good measure. This is where I started really feeling the heat as we were now consistently staying above 90 degrees.

I knew my body was beginning to shut down when I would have to stop multiple times on one of the few fun trails thinking I had to pee, but could not. Instead I would sit there with a nauseous pain that couldn’t be relieved. Thinking maybe I was just behind on fueling or hydration I pounded anything I could, Fanta (while singing “wanna Fanta, dontcha wanna), salt pills, Honey Stinger chews – nothing seemed to relieve this odd pain I have never had before.

Carrying on, I gained a second wind through a challenging section of Moab like terrain, but instead of red rock it was a blinding white limestone rock. I road the coat tails of my second wind all through this section, clearing steep, loose climbs with locals cheering in Spanish “VAMOS VAMOS, VAMOS CHICA!”. We were now at the Junction of the Rincon de la Vieja and Miravalles volcanoes and this area until the finish served up the hottest temps staying above 100 and maxing at 111!

From PC5 to PC6 is when things were getting quite foggy. My lower abdominal pain became more frequent and I still could not pee, my vision started to blur, and the hammer inside my head seemed to be endlessly pounding.

I stopped at PC6 and spent a good 15 minutes trying to pee and hanging out in the bushes where I’m sure there were many snakes ready to latch onto my blindingly white Caucasian bottom. When I saw the other American couple Brenda and Lee roll up I thought, “Oh good, maybe I can ride with them and try to spin out of this fog I have gotten myself in”. I jumped on their wheel and it quickly seemed like I was following someone with two rear wheels vs one. I knew I had to ride alone, take breaks, and not push myself too far into a hole.

This teeter tottering of symptoms continued until a mere 10k from the finish where I stopped by a car that was casting just enough shade that seemed so inviting for a little siesta. A kind woman, Lina tried to help me as much as she could but my responses were confused, slow and delayed. At this time all i wanted to do was fall asleep. Lina, who later I realized became my angel poured cold water over my head. I will never forget how shocking this felt. It completely took my breath away, sent an aching pain throughout my entire body and all I could do was rest my head in my hands to compose myself.

My race was done.

Turning down medical help I went back to my room and laid in the shower under the luke warm water fully dressed until I could clean up and curl into bed.

I later found out that 100 people did not finish out of 250 riders due to the heat. Sonya and Jeff told me similar stories of their races which always sends a pit of pain in your heart being the one that didn’t finish. However, I knew I made the best decision for my body and have learned a great deal in just one day.

Mountains of gratitude goes out to Juan Carlos, Laura, John, Courtney, Andres, Lina and the rest of the crew that made this experience possible.

All things said and done, I cannot wait to go back and do it again.

PURA VIDA!

 

Reset.

I haven’t felt the want or need to do any recaps lately, because frankly I haven’t wanted to dwell on the broken record of bad luck that’s been playing.  It’s taken me a few weeks to sort out this Debbie Downer look on competition, racing, and riding.

Luckily, I have a very patient, understanding and knowledgable coach (LW Coaching) who has helped me sort through it all – as well as a group of pretty stellar friends who know me best.

The problem is I wasn’t having fun, and that kills me that I wasn’t able to look past all the bad luck moments and start fresh and motivated each new opportunity.  Instead, the compounding events laid heavy on my shoulders and like a vacuum it sucked up all my spark and motivation.  Being someone who absolutely loves a challenge and most importantly one that’s on the bike – this left me feeling extremely empty inside.

In the dark moments I threatened myself to quit racing all together, focus on a career where I don’t have to constantly stress about money, and hide away in a hole. Knowing this was a little irrational I took some time away from any structured riding, cancelled a few upcoming events, and did a lot of reflecting.  In one weeks time I had more fun on the bike than I could remember, rode with friends I haven’t in awhile, hopped into a road race/adventure, saw new sights, and felt new inspiration.

One thing that LW encouraged me to think about in this time was what motivates me.  Throughout this week I realized what doesn’t motivate me are other people’s expectations. The “why don’t you race this-I bet you’ll win” “with how you’re riding, you are sure for a top ten” etc. The result does not motivate me, and in fact it inhibits me. What motivates me is the adventure of the unknown, the thrill of pushing harder than I ever have, taking a new line down something hairy without blinking an eye, the views, sharing the stoke with friends new and old, and most importantly being a positive role model.

Finding the balance is key.  I think it’s easy to give in when times are rough – but taking a break has given me a new perspective and I’m now able to see things in a different light.

Here’s a photo montage of the past few weeks and the places I go to find clarity.

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Thank you for reading, and see you on the trail!

Fire Flat 50…. Errrr 25

With a competitive field, 50 miles of some of my favorite riding, and a beautiful day forecasted my nerves and excitement were at the perfect level.  Unfortunately, my day ended a lot sooner than I had planned.  Here’s how it went.

Lining up along the main street in Breckenridge all the women congregated among the pro men and the streets were lined with 4th of July festivities.  The creator of the event Jeff Westcott and the announcer Larry Grossman were perched above the start line dressed as an American Cowboy and Uncle Sam.  The day was getting started off right!

Our women’s field was stacked! Katie Compton, Jenny Smith, Kelly Boniface, Jari Kirkland among the recognizable names as well as the slew of us who names aren’t as recognizable or mentioned but equally as likely to have our day.

We began rolling up towards Boreas Pass Road and it was a very enjoyable, comfortable pace; women were all able to sort themselves into a good position.  Around one of the first switchbacks where I started feeling like it was time to put some work in, friend and pocket rocket Kelly Boniface road up next to me and chatted for a moment then buzzed effortlessly up… I knew she was off for a great day.   Staying with her would’ve put me out of my pace and knew I had to keep it steady and in control on the first climb.  This is where things started breaking up.  Staying patient, I kept steady and found myself hanging off the wheel of Katie Compton.  Knowing she’s notorious for hunting, I stayed on her wheel like glue and sure enough her pace kept us steadily passing women who may have gone off too hard right away.  Katie’s power created some space before the first left hander onto some much needed trail after all the road.

Katie pulled off at this moment with what I later found out was an allergy attack.  I steadily rolled on focussing on riding smooth and steady focussed on the next person ahead of me.  Steady does it, I would tell myself… happily never going into the red.  I got to the first rocky descent and found myself behind a local Breck team rider – and thought to myself, he’s from here – he probably knows the fastest lines… follow him!  So… I did… and my steady pace came to halting stop with following him over a nasty blown out rocky mess in the jeep road.  I kept rolling the hiss thinking I was just imagining it or it was someone else.  I was in pure denial.

{This rider later told me he never chooses good lines and we both agreed he needs a sign on his back saying “don’t follow my line”}

After seeing the stream of stans spewing out of my tire, my denial wiped away and my heart sank.

I hung my bike on a tree and began to fix the problem…. the problem that propose itself as a nice little slice in the sidewall.  Something so small I thought I’d be fine with just a tube – shamefully I had no boot or GU wrapper to help seal it up.  I fumbled around and it took me much longer than usual to fix this problem, but finally was off.  At that time Katie rolled up to my spot with the same problem.

Determined to steadily clip back up, I pushed every climb and rallied every descent.  Once hitting Little French – it was like a battle field!  SO MANY PEOPLE proposing more obstacles to ride up than the trail provides on its own.  For the most part people were pretty good at not walking three abreast across the trail and allowing those of us riding to get past, but anyone who’s ridden up Little French knows that one little thing that throws you off seems 10x harder than it should.  Making it to the top I rolled across the stream and knew this coming trail was fast, so asked if I could get by when it was safe to a rider ahead of me – I must’ve scared him because as he turned to look behind him he cross his bars and crashed on the loose rocks.  Making sure he was ok, I rolled on.  This is where it came very apparent my race would be night and day different if I could get those 15 (yeah, 15) minutes back.

I found myself caught in a group who were strong climbers and break squeezers on the loose rocky road descents.  After one guy completely came to a stop at a puddle on the road I knew I had to take some really bad lines again to get around as there was no budging.

Making it off the rocky jeep roads I sense some low air pressure, so popped the remainder of my co2 in and hoped for the best!  From there until the transition area, I rode my little heart out – ignoring the pending black cloud that I was seemingly not able to shake.

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Rallying back through the transition I rolled back to the van, pulled out my other tube and of course it wasn’t holding air.  I gave up… threw a pity party for one, cried for a good 30 seconds, and felt completely depleted.

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Friend, Josh Tostado rolled up to my hot mess express and tried so hard to get me rallied to just finish.  He offered tubes, air, and more encouragement I deserved at the moment…. I took none of it, and threw in the white flag.

The day took victim to 4 open women’s races due to the same issue.

As I get further into these racing experiences I’m learning that everyone will always have an opinion about what you do and what you don’t do.  Typically you will always be doing something wrong.  However, I am also learning more and more to let all this roll off your shoulders – make the best decisions for you at that time – and trust yourself.

In this case – I made the decision that was best for me at the time.

I never lose – I either win, or I learn… and lately I have been doing a lot of learning.

Bailey HUNDitO

It’s been a week now since towing the line to a man in Wranglers about to set us off on a choice of 50 or 100 miles of racing with the POW of his shot gun.

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A little background on this event.  The Bailey HUNDO/HUNDitO is a non profit race with a variety of charitable beneficiaries; The Colorado High School League, Colorado Mountain Bike Association, Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder, and the Bailey Trails initiative.  There is a minimum fundraising effort of $250 per rider – all of which benefits the above charities.  Entrants- or FUNDracers as the Bailey Board likes to call them- typically go above and beyond this minimum required amount which results in warm fuzzies all around for not only the FUNDracers, Race Director and Board Members – but the hundreds of lives that are affected by the altruistic efforts.

Much like the Firebird 40, I played the role of employee as well as athlete.  A balance that is fun, challenging and most importantly rewarding.  Months prior to the event I started assisting with the many moving parts to make the day come together.  In a way it takes away the stress of the competitive side of the event, and in another way it becomes easy to lose your focus on where your head needs to be once your tires hit the dirt.  I found the only way to manage this balance was to take things one day at a time, one email at a time, and tick tasks off my list as they came.  I am definitely a person who feels the need to give an immediate response to a questions and concerns, and whether this was a fault or a positive quality I found myself answering emails at all hours of the day and in anywhere I had some kind of signal.

The day before the race Jeff and I drove down in the Ergonmobile to pre ride the opening section of singletrack, which would prove itself to be the only stretch of dirt that I would know prior to racing.  Somehow I have only ridden in Bailey one time prior to race day, and realized none of the trails I rode were part of the race.  Loving the excitement of “what’s around the corner” I wasn’t worried about it leading up to race day, but looking back on the day I would have definitely had a bit of an advantage if I had known the trails.

Conditions were a tad loose and without really knowing the trails I knew that I would be in quality control mode all day ie. keep a lid on it to not lose your face to a loose corner from getting too rowdy.

As we settled into camp I wasn’t really required to do much on site work, but found myself going back and forth trying to lend a hand when I could.  It was awesome getting to meet the faces I had been emailing over the course of the few weeks prior to the race and be able to thank them face to face for their help.  I tried to hit the hay early though knowing I would sleep very little with the early morning wake up call for a six am start.

Sleep would be a very loose word I would use to describe what I did that night.  The moon was like a lighthouse beaming through out tent walls and the river a few decibels too high for me to really get into a deep sleep.  I read somewhere that the night before a race isn’t extremely crucial to good sleep compared to the nights a week and most importantly two nights prior to the event.

Getting up was a bit abrasive as it always seems your alarm goes off right when you fall deeply into dream land.  Setting myself up for a properly fueled day, I stuffed down two pieces of Rudi’s gluten free cinnamon raisin bread and coconut oil spread – washed it down with freshly squeezed oj and stayed in our tent until it was time to roll to the line.  I had forgotten warm clothes so I rode to the start line donning my pj’s over top of my Castelli Ptarmagin Group race kit.  It is inevitable that I will always forget something on weekend trips.

It was quickly time to line up and ready to rock!  I positioned myself towards the front one wheel length behind new mom and speedy racer, Jenny Smith.  Something I am continually working on is correctly positioning myself in mass starts.  Jenny does a great job at getting the front row position – so I pardoned my way up closely behind her.

As the shot gun went off we were off! Feeling very comfortable riding in a pack I stayed towards the front keeping my eye on Jenny, and even got to ride Jeff’s wheel for awhile until his group got a little speedy on the road, but I was able to hang onto the end of his group and Jenny got shot off the back.  Trying to stay calm and focussed and save energy by working a little harder than I would want to stay with the group (it makes sense, I promise) – it carried me to some of the first punchy climbs.  This is where Jenny and I went back and forth a few times until she gapped me on one of the low visibility, loose descents.

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From here on out I stayed in a comfortable endurance pace and found myself in a group of 100 miler men that kept me pushing, smiling, and having fun.  Everything was going perfect – I was riding a strong, comfortable tempo pace, fueling properly, and most importantly enjoying the new to me trails as much as the loose conditions would safely allow.

It wasn’t until the 50 course broke off to a separate loop than the 100′s and the group I was with all wished me a good race and I was… ALLLL BYYYYY MYYYYSELLLLLLLLF.  This is where I found it kind of boring – I saw absolutely no one in front of me and looked back at the top of the singletrack climb and saw zero people behind me.  Trying to keep it together I pushed a little to find some wheels to ride with who knew the corners and turns and could keep my pace safe and speedy.

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I found no one.

The people I would catch up to I would quickly pass and no one would grab my pace.

As I got to the finishing stretch of road – which was way longer than I had thought.  My head stopped racing. (RED FLAG!) I began to start wondering if the volunteers all knew where they were going, and if they had enough help throughout the inner workings of the race.  I caught a few people on the road, but I wasn’t trucking…

At one point I looked behind my shoulder and saw a white helmet and jersey barreling down the road.  I had to take a couple glances as the rider was familiar – and lookey there it was Nat Raborn – third place female with hungry eyes for second.  Balls.

She passed me on the flat rollers and I didn’t have the power to keep up.  She had thought she had missed the turn and slowed down at one point but as I approached she kept trucking.  I kept her in my sight and knew I would have her on the steep climb prior to the descent to the finish line.

I did get her on the steep climb, but little did I know that the finish line was a long flat runway off of the descent.  Before I knew what was happening Nat’s former professional basketball player stature was standing HAMMERING past me literally right. at. the finish line!  She then collapsed at the line out of exhaustion.

My heart sunk into the pit of my stomach, and even though I was still on the podium – it stayed there for the remainder of the day.

I rolled the finish line – cleaned up – and went right to work.

It’s really a cruddy feeling not feeling the way Nat did at the line, and it’s taken me until writing this to learn from this experience.  She had an amazing race and for that I am stoked for her!  Just disappointed in myself for letting up before the race was finished.  Realizing there will always be something to learn from EVERY single race experience and we never “have it in the bag” – and can never let up… even just a little… or we will be hammered down at the line.

I am happily taking a couple weeks to put in some heavy rest, fun riding, and hard training to prep for the second half of my season.

Keep on rolling, and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Peaks, Valleys and Wheelies

“As much as I know I’m not one to go out guns a blazing every single week – it’s still a difficult inner battle while in you’re in the valley to keep your focus on the peaks ahead.”

Having a strong, early season – this is always a good reminder, stay positive, focussed, always have fun, and appreciate every effort.  The past month and a half has been filled with plenty of training efforts with a number plate on my bike.  The last couple weekends I have been in the valley, putting in hard XC training efforts and planning for the peaks.

Besides riding my bike I have been assisting in starting up a new kids program where I live in Eagle, CO.  Vail Valley Alternative Sports Academy was thought up by myself and Mike McCormack – providing kids with a fun atmosphere and positive role models who are teaching the little shredders how to be good stewards of the trails.  Mike is definitely the brains behind making things actually happen, and I feel lucky to be a part of it for many reasons…

Being one of the many athletes in this valley, it’s hard to get away from the competitiveness that blazes most the trails along the I-70 corridor.  To appreciate where you are even when you’re not at your peak performance… and most importantly HAVE FUN!  Just through the first week of rides with these kids, my perspective on riding and racing has become much more whole.

I am reminded of my path, my influences, and how far I’ve come.

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One thing that is the same in all three photos – my love for sports, being active, and most importantly the childlike, free-bird feeling that comes with it all.  The thing that unfortunately changes as we grow are our performance expectations.  We start creating layers of some realistic and unrealistic expectations in performance and in that, we tend to lose that child like feeling of why we lined up in the first place.  This is where working with the kids hones me in and keeps me with the right perspective.

Throughout my day to day interactions I try very hard to emanate the FUN in riding.  Racing at the professional level, you have to be very focussed – BUT you really don’t have to take yourself too seriously.  Pop a wheelie, catch some sweet air off a curb, stop to smell the flowers, and never forget a snack break.  All of this shouldn’t change with age.

Riding with the kids keeps my inner skinned knee child like demeanor present and in check to be a positive influence to the next generation of shredders.  This experience helps me appreciate where I am even when I’m in the valley on my way up to the peaks.

See you on the trails!

Rubbin’s Racin’

Although I have never nor do I hope I would ever resort to this saying in a race situation – I still love it, and it makes me giggle every time I hear it.  However – in my recent racing attempt, this saying came to fruition… but with a cattle guard.

It’s been almost two weeks now, and I apologize for just now getting around to posting a recap of my very short day at the Eagle Outside Festival Firebird 40(is).

The Firebird proposed a lot of favorable conditions for myself as the race was placed literally 50 yards from my front door, I work for the race director and helped map out the course, and the festival brought a handful of my favorite competitors and friends to our community for the weekend.

Having a hand in organizing the weekend really opened my eyes to how much work goes into place for all of us spandex clad monkeys to line up.  It’s no secret that a lot of times athletes become very self centric and have a “me, me, me” outlook in life.  I get it that we need to be a little selfish in getting our training in, staying healthy, mentally together, and that sometimes competition morphs our personality and makes us say/do things that we would normally never do in jeans and a t-shirt.  Now being on both sides of events, it’s made me hyper aware of the extreme cases that are out there – and even more aware as how to balance my stuff out and focus on all the positives this racing life has brought me.

I digress.

Lining up, we had plenty of time to scope out where all the carrots are in the pack in a mixed, mass start.  I’m constantly learning how to race tactfully, understanding who I can race with and where my abilities fall within proper pacing while effectively pushing my limits.  I had my plan, I was calm yet excited and ready to go.  On the neutral roll out I found myself snaking into an early position of the first female – exactly where I did not need to be, so I gladly grabbed onto friend and ripper Gretchen Reeve’s wheel.  She’s so calm and in control in a tight pack. I stayed with her and followed her every move and reacted as she would to people trying to cut us off and getting squirley in doing so.

As we approached the first steep climb, Erin Huck went zipping up into the pack of lead men.  We did not react to her attack and held onto the pace we were making.  I normally love a fast, steep start to a race – but knew if I tried to follow Huck’s wheel my bomb would go off 20 minutes later and my pace would suffer greatly.

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Onto the singletrack and still staying glue’d onto Gretchen’s wheel.  I could feel that I had a little more zip on the climbs so didn’t worry if she created a little space on the twisty trail.  Together we would pass a couple racers who were suffering from the super fast start.

Half way down the first little descent and back with Gretchen I hit the cattle guard improperly and heard that sound that makes you go from feeling like Super Woman to Marcel The Shell with Shoes On.  I pedaled as hard as I could thinking that the puncture would seal up with Stan’s – as I rounded the first corner, my tire was fairly squishy, too squishy to risk the fast, twisty, turny, SUPER fun descent ahead.  I took out my CO2 and popped it with air – by that time I lost quite a few places, but my head was still in it.  Railing the descent I about rolled my tire as I was losing even more air, noticing the puncture was a tear in the sidewall – I stopped again – and there went most of the field – not focussed on that I pumped some more air in to get me to the transition area.

Once at the transition, my friends were there for hand off support – but all I could focus on was putting a tube in and chasing back on.  With two stops prior to the transition and changing my flat, my stop time read 7 and a half minutes.  I didn’t care, the fire was still there to catch back on and my legs felt sparkly.  I thanked them for being there and sprinted back on – to then go through the next half of a lap battling passing riders safely.

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I zipped up the wall climb, cleaning the switchbacks through a roar of friends yelling at me to get my booty in gear – their cheers gave me such a surge of energy!

This surge of energy soon plummeted as rounding through the corners of Riddle, I felt my tire going a little squishy again… and with that dreaded hissing sound again went my heart.

I was out.  I had only brought one tube as it was only a 24 mile race and my CO2s were kaput.  I allowed myself to be bummed out and sad only until everyone else finished up their race.

After my short lived pity party for one, I walked away with the positive notes that my body was strong, I had a blast in the short bit of racing I was able to stitch together, my race time flat fixing skills weren’t too shabby, and I have some of the best friends a girl could ask for.

Once everyone else finished up their races, we went home – changed clothes and bikes and headed out for a Ergon product photo shoot.  I quickly forgot about my misfortune and had a blast riding with friends.

See you on Sunday for the Beti Bike Bash!

Cheers.

 

 

 

3 Weeks on the Road in 1 Post – Grab some Coffee…

The most important thing about this race report is that I’m writing it from the comforts of my own home!  After more than three weeks on the road, we are finally home to our great little community of Eagle, CO where the trails are dry, the coffee is good, and the faces are all familiar.  I definitely enjoyed the time away, but it’s always nice coming home.

Our preamble to the 2014 Whiskey 50 was spent on a two week road trip.  We loaded up the Ergon van on a snowy morning and set off to California with one quick stop to ride with Coach LW in St. George.  Our pasty, mountain skin soaked up the desert heat – temperatures that set the tone for the rest of the drive to California.  To pass the time I rolled out my yoga mat int he back of the van and would circulate between yoga and naps.

We arrived in California to work Sea Otter which is a huge cycling event comprised of a giant expo and constant race events going on.  I did not race.  I was happy to work for a sponsor Chamois Buttr’ instead.  Making these kind of decisions is what us working athletes have to do to make a big trip like this work out.  Quite frankly, I was so tired that weekend riding to and from the event and standing all day that I did not really miss racing at all.

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From Monterey, CA to the North Bay hippie town of Fairfax, CA.  We traveled with our friends Yuki Ikeda and his wife Saya.  For a week we nestled away in a little tree house on the steep hillside of this cute little town that sits on the north side of Mt. Tam.  This is where my vacation started.  The whole week I got to ride, rest, eat well, and hang out with friends.  It did not suck, and I enjoyed every second of it.  Not having a car we stayed close to the house everyday – so most days I would pedal over to one of the few legal singletrack loops called Camp Tamarancho – a series of trails built by some crafty boy scouts!  We were exited to get to ride the new Flow Trail – check out their mission on facebook! Another one of my sponsors, OSMO nutrition has their headquarters in Fairfax, so I made sure to pop in and say hello to the happy, hydrated workers bees.  They are the only hydration company that have a women’s specific formula! Check it out!

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Finally, we were off to some elevation – Prescott, AZ – the location of the Whiskey Off Road – 50 Proof weekend.  We got to scope out the trails pretty early without a lot of congestion or many other racers – which was awesome.  Conditions early week were super loose, most corners were blown out, and the water crossings were mostly all dried up.  They needed moisture BAD!  Little did we know what our rain dances would produce later in the week.

Friday of the weekend kicked off the expo.  The booth was BUSY – people needed their GRIPS!  Working these expos always brings out the crazies, and a lot of kids hunting for stickers.  My uncle and his wife made the trek from Phoenix to come say hello.  It was really nice having lunch with them and catching up – answering the normal midwestern family “when are you getting married” and “what are you doing again” questions.  I have become pretty accustomed to answering these questions over the years, and always have to smile when they come out time and time again.  I am lucky to have a really big, loving family!

They had to leave early, and I zipped myself up into the Elevated Legs to help move out some pooled fluid from standing on my feet all day before the Fat Tire Crit.  Going into this weekend I felt a night and day difference from the previous years, and I owe that to my coach. Knowing the crit doesn’t really amount to much but unnecessary fatigue – she gave me instructions to give out one good effort and then pull off and spin.  So – we line up – chatter is buzzing in the field as this is the first race a lot of us get to see each other. Once the count down starts, silence hits and we are ready!  We round the corner and I’m pushed towards the back of the back – I feel good, and there is a $100 first lap preme.  So… if I’m allowed one effort – I got turning the cranks and decided to go for it.  I blazed up to the front creating a small gap in front of the big hitters.  Rounding the first corner, I feel like I might have it – we near the crest of the first climb and Chloe and Katarina come swooping around me like the professionals they are and crest the climb before I – I take a closer line to the curb than a few others and come through the first lap in top five.  Well – that was my effort – and it was exhilarating!

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Saturday was a rest day for the pro’s and as we sat inside and drank coffee – mother nature unleashed that moisture wish most of us had been asking for.  Unfortunately, that meant blizzard like conditions, rain, snow, wind… everything we mountain folks have seen throughout this blustery spring.  It was crazy!  We felt extremely bad for those out battling the conditions – a ride they surely will never forget.

Sunday is FINALLY here – are you still reading?

Mother Nature shined upon us and provided with PERFECT conditions, trails were tacky, temperatures were my absolute favorite racing range of 50-60′s… starting int he 40′s.  We got extremely lucky.

Warming up prior to the race – I ended up cutting it a little short as I wasn’t feeling too sparkly for some reason.  Lining up, I was ready and prepared for the first climb.  Last year the pack was sketchy – and I had a bad position around some wobbly pack riders.  This year – I stayed so calm, positioned well, moved around when I could, and just chilled.  The roll out was mellow…. which was nice, but I was happy once we hit the dirt and it picked up a little.  I entered the singletrack within my pacing ranges and around 17th position – gladly taking friend and ripper Amanda Carey’s wheel, we zipped through the singletrack seemlessly.  With the drop of her seat post, Amanda quickly gapped me on the descent.  Staying smooth and in control I enjoyed the descent – stayed again within my pacing once I hit the climb to the Skull Descent – I quickly caught up and passed Amanda, Jenny Smith (who unfortunately had a flat), and Jamie Bush and I worked our little frames together for the descent – taking pulls one by one.

At the turn around, we had a group of friends supporting – this was amazing!  Their support and energy was invigorating!  Heading up the Skull climb – this is where I was meant to do some work.  Starting to pick up my clip, my stomach starting turning, back and thighs cramped up – and I was left in the pace my body was telling me I had to do.  I was having flashbacks to the feelings that took me out of the Breck Epic last year – determined to fight through it – I stayed in maintenance mode, I would finish!  I listened to the triggers my body was giving me and responded with the pace it would allow.

Cresting the singletrack – I was so happy to get some reprieve and be closer to the finish.  Swet on my sunglasses obstructed my left eye and the first descent off the singletrack was very Pirates of the Caribbean!  Arrrrrrrrr, Matey!  I gained a couple positions, lost one, gained one, lost one.  This went on until cramp hill – rightfully cramping all the way up it.  Having some speed reprieve, I wiped my glasses and was ready to rip it home.

The crowds at the finishing singletrack were amazing!  Tearing through the creek crossing and rock gardens I was gaining on apparently a former Olympian bobbling around the rocks.  I caught her right at the end, and she turned the gas on and dropped me on the road.  Head down, pedaling as fast as I could – I rounded the last corner coming in 16th position!  Friends welcoming me back were amazing! Their support kept me smiling even when I was still feeling sick.  This feeling went on like clockworks the rest of the day.

I had persevered! Taking almost 10 minutes off my time from the previous year, finishing under 4 hours, and only 2 minutes off 12th place $ position – I was happy with my performance…very tired, feeling sick… but happy.

Another great 50 mile effort in the bank for the year.  I’m ready for a week to chill, be home, back to work, and some fun rides on local trails.

Next up is our local Firebird 40!  See you then.

 

Season Opener

As the season opener has come and gone – it reminds me of a few things I missed through the winter.

For some racing is all about the training, the grit and the glory.  For me, it’s about seeing new trails, meeting new people, hanging out with friends, pushing myself beyond what I know, and of course continually learning how to rip trail that much harder.

This weekend’s True Grit proved all to fruition.

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Knowing what the trails are like, I knew I wouldn’t be “racing” this race.  The trails are straight out of The Flinstones, slick rock, ledge drops, and ohhhhhhh baby the WIND! {sure there were brutal winds in the Flinstones?}  It was a race of pacing and conservation for me, and luckily LW Coaching was in charge of my parameters.  Coming off a season of XC racing, she’s really honing me in on longer hauls.

My race was simple, really.  The start was a three mile stretch of dirt road funneling us into the first set of aggressive washes.  UP down UP down.  From the start I set myself into a comfortable pace and locked it there.  It was really tough watching the field go away from me, but this wasn’t a race I was gunning for – so I listened to the little LW inside my head and kept a lid on it.  Knowing this is a really taxing race, there is a much higher risk of your day coming to an end very abruptly… and unfortunately, about 20 minutes into the race Stans NoTubes rider Jenny Smith was on the side of the trail with a broken bike and her day was done.  This kept the thought in my head of “ride smooth” “slower is faster”.

After the first loop I made a pit stop to switch out bottles and grab some real food for the most technical loop of the day; Zen Trail.  Luckily, I have ridden Zen a few times and knew what was coming up.  Not so luckily, I missed a couple lines and bobbled more than I wanted to on that loop.  At that point I was 2 minutes behind second place, a local woman who could easily pass as a mountain bike barbie doll; tall, blonde, SUPER strong, lots of trail knowledge, and also a really cool chick.

Finishing up Zen, I caught up on eating/drinking up the road to then drop down to Bear Claw Poppy.  I took the lines I knew heading down, which included some necessary air time!  Once at the screaming fast, buffed out trail Bear Claw Poppy, I didn’t hammer and kind of just enjoyed the swoopy corners.  That’s when I noticed the wind picking up as I could see dust clouds at the turn around.

Flipping a 180 back on the Stucki climb, my small but mighty frame was not so mighty and slowed down quite a bit in the strong headwind.  I was alone for a short time when a group of three men came up behind me and I jumped on the train!  In typical mountain bike fashion the lead guy was HAMMERING and shortly blew up and popped off and we lost him.  The remaining two guys and myself took 1 minute pulls each, and besides one section where I got pushed off an exposed section by the winds – we stayed and worked together.

Still feeling good, I pedaled between each roller coaster section to the next headwind.  Then I was alone – head down and just not thinking about the wind – just thinking about how close I was to Barrel Roll.

Once at Barrel Roll, I had single track fever and felt fresh as a daisy.  I got caught up a couple times by men who did not want to get over, but as they realized they were not dropping the female voice behind they gave in and succumbed to let me pass by.

It was then the tail wind trip home.  ZOOOOOOOOM….. I ran out of gears as the wind was so strong and it was fairly flat.  Shortly before the finish I took one wrong turn and brought a few guys with me. {sorry!!!} Wind had blown the course tape in half and lined a road climbing up to the right instead of keeping us straight.  It was probably only a 5 minute detour as I felt us going away from the finish too much.  We all flipped it and hammered our way home.

Boom.  The day was a success.  No crashes, no bonking, no cramping, just a little bobbling but for the most part smooth riding, and FUN FUN FUN!

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My Scott Spark 700 SL was the perfect tool for the job, equipped with a SRAM XX1 32 tooth chain ring, Kenda Slant 6 Pro rubber, and Ergon GA1 grips.  All made possible by the good guys at Ptarmigan Group, LLC.

I was cramp free thanks to Osmo Active Hydration for Women.

Not to mention one of my favorite riding mantras, “Don’t ride like a douche” from Handlebar Mustache – as well as my favorite pair of pink socks.

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The next morning I was quickly reminded what longer, technical racing feels like…. basically like getting hit by a bus after a night of cage fighting.  Thankful for our 92fifty Elevated Legs for helping my legs recover a little faster; especially after a 7 hour drive home.

Here’s one last picture from our picnic pit stop.  Can you spot me running across the ridge?

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Cheers and Happy Trails!