Thursday, October 5, 2017

Moab UT

The second day of the trip we headed for Moab Utah.  I have never been to Moab! I normally hate riding in the car but as we traveled along the road following the Colorado River, I just couldn't get enough. The red rock and canyon walls were just amazing. We did not spend any time sitting around, there was just too much to see. We went to Arches National Park and climbed on the rocks and checked out the views.

 There are also tons of Jeep Trails that you can go on.  We rented a lifted Jeep and took it to a trail called Fin N Things.
We checked out the Slickrock bike trail.  I know it's a Moab classic but I have to say, it really wasn't my favorite.  There were a lot of punchy climbs....and well, we know how much I love climbing-not! I rode around the warm up loop and that was plenty for me! I'm glad I can say "I've been there, done that" but no need to do it again. 
Also in Moab I rode the Moab Brand Trails.  There were sections of this that I loved! Fast and technical enough to keep things interesting but not too difficult.  I did take a wrong turn and ended up on a long trail of slickrock.  I am so glad I had a full suspension bike.  The rocks were just beating me to death. 

I, of course, rode "The Whole Enchilada"  I will do a separate post for this one!

Fruita Colorado

I haven't been out west since I was a little kid.  So when the opportunity came for me to go on an out west adventure, I jumped at it! I flew in to Grand Junction Colorado on a Thursday night. My boyfriend had driven out with both of my bikes ahead of time.  Our first stop was Fruita CO.  We got a hotel in Grand Junction for the night and headed to Fruita first thing in the morning. This trail was fast, and flowy.  It was super fun and a great warm up for the rest of the trip. It was only the third time I had ridden my brand new Stradalli.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Arcadia Grit and Gravel

Arcadia Grit and Gravel is my favorite race of the year. It's part gravel and part single track. The course starts on the road and continues on gravel for 11 miles. The race goes off in a few waves beginning with the Elite Men and Elite Women starting off together. My strategy for this race was to hold on to the lead pack of Elite men for all of the gravel.
We took off and it was easy to hang in the draft with the guys. At about mile three there is a pretty big climb. I was killing myself trying to hang with them on the climb and I fell off the back. One girl had made it with them. I got to the top of the hill and it was me, another female rider, and the lead female and Elite men pulling away from us quickly. I had to make a split second decision to either ride with her or chase the pack of Elite men. I went with the chase...I tried to get as aero as possible, stared at the ground and pedaled as hard as I ever have in my life. I looked up, and holy crap I was gaining on them!! Head down I kept pushing, looked up, I was almost there! I did catch them! As soon as I was in their draft it was a piece of cake to hang on. The other girls did not make the breakaway. I flew along the gravel with them sometimes barely pedaling except for around the corners where I had to hammer it to stay on. Once we got to the end of the gravel section there is a climb that goes for miles. I lost them here.
The single track starts right after this climb. It took me a few minutes to get comfortable on the single track. I settled in and tried to just keep pushing. I've done this race many times and with 100's of racers there is almost always someone to ride with. However, this year I was completely alone. Dropped by the Elite men and minutes ahead of anyone else. I found myself accidentally lollygagging along a few times. I also clipped a pedal on a rock and did a quick super man over the bars...I was back up pretty quick. The trail popped out on more gravel and this is where being alone really sucked. Against the wind just grinding along. Looking at my Strava later, I saw that the lead female rider did this section almost 2 minutes faster than me. Ugh, I so wish I could have made that long climb with the leader and the would have changed my race having "a wheel" the whole way. Goals for next year...
About 15 minutes from the end of the race the lead expert guys caught me. I followed them and rode their wheels to the finish for second place!
I love this race!  It's so much fun.  I plan to keep this one on my race agenda every year!

Fort Custer Stampede

After a super disappointing day at Mud Sweat and Beers in Traverse City I drove home Saturday night tired, with a headache, and a very sore throat and cough.  I went round and round in my head about whether I should race the next day at Fort Custer.  I didn't want to make the effort to get there just to not be able to breathe again...but I LOVE "the fort".  I decided to get to bed really early and see how I felt in the morning.
I woke up feeling pretty good and the cough was still there but mild.  I decided to head down to the race.  I would start and if I could breathe I would finish.  If I felt like I did the day before I would just DNF. I wasn't going to stress my body just to slowly ride my way around the course twice.
I warmed up a bit and headed for the start line.  We had a nice Women's field of 7. We took off and I headed for the front.  I left the field behind pretty quickly much to my surprise...and then I clipped a tree and they caught right back up. I stayed in the lead for a long time and then was passed on a climb (big surprise).  I reeled her back in on the flat flowy single track.  She took a bad line in front of me and we actually collided!  Oops.  After this, I was really wishing I hadn't raced the day before.  I had a nice first lap but by the second I was really tiring.  I was able to stay in second place until the last minute of the race....the race finished on a climb and I was passed right at the end leaving me in 3rd place.  I'm still happy with how I rode and there were no breathing problems to be had..??  It was a little bit warmer than the day before so maybe that helped.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mud Sweat and Beers

I have to admit I was really excited for this race. I'd never tried it before but from what I'd heard it wasn't very technical and fast. I'm usually pretty good at Power courses! 
I drove to Traverse City on Friday and had a few friends show me the start and end of the course. The air was very dry and temps in the 40's. I hit a few of the hills hard but mostly we were just tooling around. The dry air gave me a little bit of a cough, but I didn't think much of it.
I had a great dinner at Red Mesa with my coach and friend Brian. Always fun to talk training and racing!
When I woke up Saturday morning I was surprised to see I had some blood running out of my mouth....whaaat?? Really strange. I've never had this happen before. Again, I didn't think much of it. 
I was super nervous at the start but as soon as we took off I felt good. I felt good for about a mile and then I just couldn't seem to catch my breath or clear the phlegm from my throat. I was in the lead but lost it quickly. I just couldn't pull it together. I couldn't get out of zone 3 or low zone 4. I usually race in high zone 4 and zone 5. I felt like I was trying but according to my data, I really wasn't. I do have exercise induced asthma.  It has not flared up in a couple of years and I no longer carry my inhaler.  The lesson learned here is that if it's 30's, clear, and dry I will probably not race well.  Or maybe I'll have to get to town earlier to acclimate to the dry air.  Something to keep in mind as I consider racing Iceman...

This was not my day on the bike. I will say that the venue and after party was awesome! It was great catching up with friends and having a few beers! Not sure I'll go back for this race. It's always the same weekend as Fort Custer...and as I found out the next day, I love my tight twisty single track!!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Yankee Springs Time Trial

The Yankee Springs Time Trial is my "home court" race. This is the trail where I learned to ride. Every time I ride it, I get a smile on my face, remembering a crash I had, or a crash one of my friends had. During this race there was a small rooty incline that made me smile because I remembered when I couldn't ride it and had to walk it.
I started riding only 5 years ago. After I had been riding for a couple years I was getting more and more determined. I really wanted to win the Elite class race. I was hoping that with all my riding in Florida that this would be the year.
I could see who was signed up the day before, and holy crap, there were 9 women signed up. All of them great riders and a few I've never even come close to beating before. I was trying to not feel defeated before we even started.
My pre ride the day before went great. I hit a few sections hard. I had put a new rear shock on my Stradalli, carbon wheels, and new tires. I really needed to see how the bike was going to handle at high speeds. Anyway, I could feel I was fast and the bike felt like a rocket ship. Seriously, it was weird. It almost felt like I was on a dirt bike flying along. This ride gave me some confidence!

The morning of, I woke up rested and feeling good. I wasn't super nervous. It's a time trial so there was really no strategy to worry about. I just needed to pedal as fast I could and not crash. At the start, two women went off in front of me and two women behind me. (15 second intervals). I passed the two women ahead of me a few minutes into the race. I was on fire and hyper focused looking ahead at the trail. The girl behind me is wicked fast and wins most of the races she enters. I was running scared and desperate to hold her off as long as possible. I thought for sure she'd catch me 15 minutes or so into the race.
There are sections of trail where you can see the switchbacks and see if anyone is coming. I kept one coming. This fueled me even more. I'm thinking, holy crap, maybe I really can win?!?!? The ride itself was pretty uneventful. My bike was handling like a dream. I took every line perfectly, I gutted out the climbs (I hate climbing), and I made nice clean passes past the Expert guys I was catching. I had one mishap where my shoe hit a stump and my foot got stuck in my rear triangle. I stayed upright and managed to pull it back out. How I didn't bend spokes and crash I'm not sure. What's really odd about this is, I have done the same thing at that same spot before. Only the last time I bent spokes, twisted my ankle, and fell.
I pulled into the finish 99% sure I'd won. I waited at the finish to see if any women were within 15 seconds of me. Two minutes went by and no one...!!!

Thanks Jack Kunnen for the awesome photos!

Winning is always fun but this one meant a lot to me on my home court and the trail where it all began. My friend Scott's company made the awesome medals!  It was a great day of perfect weather and great friends.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Everglades Ride

The awesome thing about moving to a new state is that there are so many new things to do and try!  I had not yet been to the Everglades or Everglades City.  Every year there is a mountain bike ride from Everglades City followed by an awesome seafood lunch. The ride goes down gravel roads and we took a few detours down some two tracks and a small section of single track.  I couldn't believe how "jungle-ey" the forest felt.  Especially in that single track section.  I've been to Kauai many times and it felt a lot like Hawaii!  We ended up riding about 40 miles.  There was a big group of us and we stuck together most of the day.  I think my favorite part was visiting the gator pond.  I have never seen so many Gators in one place! Enjoy the photos.

Look closely, those are all Gator Heads in the water!!

Cabin in the Everglades with a Dock leading to the Gator Pond

Our Group at the Cabin

It was a super hot and humid day!  The dust stuck to us everywhere!

Some of my Naples Velo friends who have never been on mountain bikes!

The girls!

The start line!