Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Winter in Review...it's over right???

So I had this 2 hour ride planned for Sunday and I was pretty excited about it since it was to be above 30 degrees finally! Well turns out 33 degrees really isn't as warm as I thought, so I ended up doing a quick u-turn back to grab a warmer hat!! Arg!!!   Needless to say it was a major buzzkill and even the ducks were wondering wtf was up with this MN spring?


So as I spent the early part of my ride crabby about the weather I figured I had better find something a bit more positive to think about.  It was at this point that I realized the the snow has come and its almost gone and I hardly recognize who I was last Fall.  A lot has changed!!!  Change is good!  I'll admit I'm rarely one to really sit back and reflect on a period of time...it's just not my style. But after racing triathlon for 6 years,  these changes feel dramatic and my life has been jolted by a newly found off road passion and I think it deserves some reflection. Hell, I've learned a lot!

Here are some things I've learned while racing my bike through this never ending WINTER!! (in no particular order)...
  • I don't miss running  - crazy to think only 5 months ago  I was telling coach how I wanted to run Pikes Peak this summer. At times in my life I have thought that I'd be devastated if i could no longer run.  I haven't run more than ten feet since early November and I haven't missed it for a second.
  • Relationships are not built on shared activities, they are built on shared passion - I felt guilty leaving triathlon and worried a lot about how my lack of triathlon racing would impact Tom and our shared passion to compete and chase goals.  Well, I was crazy to worry about this as our passions towards each others goals have only grown stronger. I love supporting Tom and its even better now that I don't have to worry about my own race.
  • You can race a bike through mud, ice, slush and snow...and you DON'T need Fat Tires to do it.
  • But...Fat bikes are cool!! - I had one last year, it didn't have me at Hello. But now I can't imagine a winter without one.  This bike has most certainly changed my life; it made winter seem more bearable, taught me to love the snow again, and it introduced me to some really cool new people.
  • The shower is an awesome place to wash your dirty steed in the winter, period.
  • It is indeed possible to race for 4.5 hours above 170bpm - this fall I would have bet the farm the opposite.
  • The tri world has their shit together when it comes to putting together a world class, well-organized event -  I took this for granted.
  • It is possible to ride outside with temps below 10 degrees and not totally freeze my ass off!
  • Training with power is powerful - I am 100% certain that training with power will equate to bigger results, Tom's even learning this too now! The investment is significant, but it's one of those things that you really you dont' "get" it until you experience it.
  • Off road cyclists are tough, laid back, and authentic.  I've met a lot of really cool people since I started racing bikes; I'm stoked for these new friendships and to me this sport feels like home.
  • Just cuz it's a bike race, it doesn't mean that you won't end up pushing your bike more than riding it
  • Training for an Ironman requires a lot of persistence and dedication - you would think I already knew this, but I was so engulfed in the chase for my Kona dream that i didn't even realize this.  Watching Tom train for an Ironman from the outside looking in has opened my eyes. Tom is the most persistently dedicated person I know.
  • Racing a bike off road will inevitably lead people to think you are abused - since fall I've pretty much always had at least 4-5 bruises on my legs at all times. This generates more questioning than I would have predicted.
  • Shipping your bike when you travel is so much nicer than lugging it through the airport 4 times
  • Racing your bike somewhere warm in the spring is amazing - I plan to do this more often in 2014

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bonelli was a Blast!

Seriously I don't even know where to start!  Our long weekend in California was so freaking awesome!!  I am super bummed to be back and already missing the warmth, the sun, the green grass and racing my mountain bike in the dirt!!!  

Bonelli US Cup was a top notch event and the race organizers did such a fantastic job. I wish I lived in Cali so I could race it every year!    It really felt like a legit race and the course was marked extremely well.  I personally loved this dry, rocky course since it was so different than riding here in Minnesota. The course was a mixture of single track and fire roads but also had some twisty technical sections thrown in with drop offs, logs and one really sketchy rocky downhill. There was also a couple of big hills with just over 20% grade!  Um yeah, I wasn't really ready for that kind of climbing and damn near fell backwards on the this climb during the first lap! 

The Cat 1 XC race started at 8:30 am!!! on Saturday morning. Geesh, you know you're triathlete turned mountain biker when an 8:30 start seems early :) I was able to nudge myself up into the front row pretty easily and ended up having an awesome start by totally getting the hole shot.  But that lasted about 2 minutes as one thing I've realized as of late is that I do really well for the first 2 minutes or so and then really crappy for about the next 5-10 minutes.  So yep, I  was passed by 3 girls in the first 3 miles of the race. 2 of these gals were like 15 years old???!! I remember thinking I am getting my ass kicked by a couple girls half my age!!! I was really impressed at how well the juniors raced and really threw it out there in the beginning of the race.  The last 2 miles of each lap had more fire roads and power climbs and I seemed to be making up some ground on this section.  Heading into lap 2 I had worked my way back into 2nd place, but I seriously had no idea where the gal in the lead was cuz she was so far in front of me! Finally as we were rounding out the 2nd lap I saw her and was able to make a pass on one of the climbs and hold on for the win!!!  I still can't believe it... I had hoped for a top 3 finish at this race, but to come home with the win was beyond my expectations and I think I am still in shock!

Afterwards I slammed down a recovery drink and attempted to take a nap before the Super D race later that night. I was seriously pumped for this race because the course was exactly the same for the pro women as the cat 1s which meant I would be able to compare my time.  Well that doesn't work out so well when you ride like a goober over a rocky section and gash your tire!! DNF ugh.  I was totally spazzing Saturday night about my tire gash and whether or not to change out the tire or put a tube in. Surprising I know.  Turns out that Stans sealant stuff really is the bomb and the tire held air overnight. We decided to gamble by racing the tire in Sunday's short track...this is so not my style. 
The Short Track race was Sunday afternoon and was a total 17 minute sufferfest!! I had cyclocross flashbacks as I felt like my body was going to explode the entire time! Short Track is really neat as the course is only like .7 miles long and we ended up doing about 7 laps total. This is fun for spectators and also fun for us racers as we get to hear the cheers each time we pass through the finish chute.  Once again I got the hole shot  (barely this time) and then of course was passed at rapid speed up the first climb!!!  Hot damn ....I need some of that mojo!   I was finally able to take over the lead by about the 3rd lap and hold on for the win. 

Big thanks to my rock and sherpa, Tom who always convinces me that I am capable of accomplishing big things!! You are amazing.  Huge thanks to my coach Matt,  having not been on the mountain bike at all this year I knew I would really have to rely on my fitness to win this race.  As it turns out our training plan had me exactly where I needed to be.  Matt and his wife Tricia were both incredibly nice, going above and beyond by having us over for dinner Saturday night.  It was really neat to get to know both of them and their Star Wars loving son Ryder. Also turns out Tricia makes a  mean homemade pizza!  I was scared I wasn't going to get Tom to come back home with me...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Breakin' in the Broadaxe...Endo Style!!!

So you know how they say when you buy a new house or car, you should properly "break it in?"  Well I say that when you buy a new bike you should properly break that in as well with a gnarly dirty crash on your first ride!!! Oh... and going head over handlebars = bonus points!!!  So yes, I have officially tasted dirt for the first time this season!!!!

Post Crash Smilin'

Yesterday I got to meet coach!!! Who is super rad btw.  He met up with Tom and I for a a couple hours of pre-riding on the Bonelli Us Cup race course!. Cali welcomed us warmly with temps above 90 degrees and I was sweating before we even started!  The course was already marked for the most part and what I learned very quickly was, damn this course is hilly as hell!!!  My tongue was pretty much touching the dirt on the first lap as I was trying to shake out my airplane legs and adapt to the 60 degree change in temp!! This was also my first ride in the dirt on my new bike and yikes was I sketchy that first lap. The downhill pace felt super fast and I was missing my 4 inch tires! By the 2nd lap I was starting to feel a lot more confident at which point I picked up the pace a bit on a turn and then BAM!!  Yep, I was flying over the handlebars.... awesome.  Smoked my head, scraped my skin up a bit, but otherwise all was well!!!  For some reason there is a sick thrill when this happens, kind of like cheating death or something! Tom and Matt definitely had some concerned looks on their face, but I dusted myself off and carried on.  Better now than Saturday I figured.  Besides getting a crash out of the way makes me feel a little more at one with the trail.  Finally by the 3rd lap I was feeling great and Matt and I had all the best lines picked out.  Ready to rock!! Tom for not riding mountain much was killing it and he didn't even crash once!  On the last lap he even let out his famous battle cry!!!  Those of you who have ridden with Tom have already experienced the force and volume of these legendary belches...I think Matt however was in shock!

Tom and I finished off the day by shoving our faces with some fresh sushi!!! and then heading back to our hotel.  We scored an killer deal on Priceline by getting a suite at the Sheraton about a mile away from Bonelli Park for only $61/night! You can't even stay at the super 8 for that!! (ain't nobody got time for that! - Sweet Brown)  The room is awesome and the hotel in general is super nice, and a big score on our ghetto hotel tour!

Huge thanks to Mark and Lala at Incycle for setting up my Foundry and having it all race ready!  This saved all the stress of having to lug my bike through the airport and then having to unpack and set it all up.  Incycle Rocks!

Now its time for 1 last easy pre-ride then rest up and bring on the racing fun! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

April and Tom's Excellent Adventure!!

SPRING BREAK!!!!  Finally we just two short days away from blowing this popstand and heading to sunny California.....San Dimas, CA to be exact, the destination of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure!  From the looks of it we might even see some 80+ degree days while we are there... Suckers!!!! 

I am beyond stoked, so stoked that in fact we started packing tonight, which is a nice change of pace from our stay up until 2 am the night before packathons!  One thing I have quickly noticed however is wow, packing for a mountain bike race is much easier than packing for a triathlon.  I keep thinking I'm forgetting stuff since I really only have to pack for one sport this go around!  Tom on the other hand is trying to jam all his tri training gear inside his section of our 1 checked luggage bag, good luck honey... you get about 30% of packing space, ya know?  Of course all the important stuff is going in the carry on bag cuz well you know you should never trust strangers!

Here is what's on tap for Wednesday's plane ride....

The Bonelli US Cup race starts on Saturday and since I am a crazy cat I signed up for the Cat 1 Triple Crown event, which means I'll be racing three times.  The XC race on Saturday morning, the Super D race on Saturday night and then the Short Track race on Sunday afternoon!  The XC race is definitely the big race and the one I'm most focused on, but I figured if I'm gonna fly all this way I might as well bite of as much as I hopefully can chew!  From what I hear the Super (aka the Stupid D) entails some type of course that is net downhill and fast, but does at times require you to pedal your bike. The race is time trial format so it's just a race against the clock and usually the races are under 10 minutes long.  I am pretty sure I'll be braking my ass off the entire time!!!   Sunday's short track event sounds like a circuit race of sorts with lots of short laps and in a short time frame,say 20 minutes or so.  Sounds a bit like cyclocross, but without all the shenanigans.

On top of all the racing fun my coach lives somewhere south of LA and  I'm super pumped to finally get to meet him in person.  It seems from my experience that whenever you're working with someone remotely there always value in getting to interact with them face to face.  Matt's also got a couple other athletes racing Bonelli so it will be fun to meet them as well. 

I'm really looking forward to a much needed break from work, some time at the pool with my cute man and hopefully some damn good sushi!!!! What more could a girl ask for???   


Friday, March 8, 2013

All-City X Fulton Racing Team

It's fair to say I've been obsessed with Fulton ever since Lonely Blonde hit the local scene!  In fact in our house I've coined the phrase "Lonely Blonde you're not "lonely" anymore!"  But now that they have gone hog wild and decided to sponsor a cyclocross team.... hell, I love them even more! 

You see All-City and Fulton got together this winter and on a mission to support the local cyclocross scene they have developed the All-City X Fulton Team for 2013!!  The team consists of 18 pretty awesome folks that all share the same passion to ride hard, have fun and drink damn good local beer! I feel incredibly fortunate and stoked to be a member of this team! 

Whisky has decided to dream up some green forks for our bikes and Twin Six has also shared some serious love by putting together some bad ass kits.  Yes, looking good is always important! 

Thanks to all the wonderful sponsors for making this opportunity possible!!!!
Fulton Brewery
Whisky Parts Co.
One on One
Twin Six
Cars R Coffins
Bike Jerks

I can't wait to race CX!  In the meantime we plan to start up some group rides in April leaving from the brewery which will be open to all, so I'll keep ya in the loop, come check it out, and let's ride!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout

WOW!  Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout was a blast!  I can't believe how awesome the trails are up there and I absolutely can't wait to head back up there the for day trips this summer.  Who knows maybe we'll even get crazy and camp for a night...yeah probably not.

Tom's cousin Todd and Aunt Sandra live up in Brained so we were lucky to get to see them Friday night, feast on an amazing home cooked meal (something Tom rarely gets around our place) and also get a good nights rest.  Morgan their awesome boxer pup slept in between Tom and I all night long...so cute! He's of course named after Todd's favorite cocktail!

We woke up rather early to head over  to Crosby to check in and make sure my Husker Du's were going to be the right tire choice!  Contrary to the race day forecast it was FREEZING again!  I was totally bummed and worried I had under dressed however the cold temps had the trail in great condition!  It looked like it was going to be a fast day on mostly double track trails, perfect!

After doing a few hill laps to warm up I got back in the car to literally warm up.  Then finally I decided to break for it with 15 minutes till race start.  Of course while I was peeing one last time they opened up the starting gate!  SHIT!  I swear I suck at pre-race activities and Tom totally gave me that look as I exited the John, because he knows this is so April. I did manage to rudely mash my may up to a decent starting spot and figured at this point I might as well make the best of it!  The race started at 9:52...I couldn't believe it, when was the last time if ever a race started early?? Craziness, but I appreciated not having to sit there and think for any longer so all was well in my world! 

Finally we were off!  And the pace was super fast as per usual.  I was able to get right on Danielle's wheel from the get go and I figured I'd try to sit there as long as possible and then hopefully at some point try to make a move. Of course she's raced a ton so I figured she probably had plans of her own as well!  About 15 minutes into the race she had an unlucky slide out on one of the turns and I figured it was now or never so I went for it and suffered like mad to catch the next wheel in front of me.  I have finally learned to stop worrying about how high my heart rate is and to trust my fitness and the fact that I'm capable of suffering for much longer than I used to be able to.  And wow did I suffer. At the start of the 2nd lap I jumped on James Kauth a local bad ass mtb'ers wheel right after he passed me. I figured I'd try to stay on as long as possible and hope to build as big of a gap as I could!  It hurt like hell and I got dropped about half way but was able to bridge the gap again towards the end.  The trail was getting sloppy and at one point I even started up conversation asking James what tires he was running??? What on earth, I was talking during a race????  Of course this eventually ended with me saying "ok, no more talking" because I'm physically unable to breathe and talk at the same time when racing.  Heck sometimes I can't even do this when I'm not racing!!

By the 3rd lap the course was getting really tossed up, and as I was running up this massive hill I as starting to regret my tire choice!  I rode like a 3rd grader the last lap and fortunately it sounded like it was rough for everyone!  I just kept telling myself to stay on my friggin bike!!!  Finally the end was in sight and I even had enough juice left to race a dude to the finish line.  Yep, he totally got me, next time my friend.  But... I won!!  I couldn't believe it.  It's still shocking to me when I win a race, cuz it just feels so foreign.  I hadn't won a single race in my entire life until I started cycling.  Now I even have my very own "winners" mug so I can finally stop drinking out of Tom's!!!

Tom and I celebrated afterwards with Dolan and Mike over bloodies and greasy bar food!  Then we went back to the park to watch the Ice Races and to see the Yeti!!

They had an ice drag race going on and my new Michigan BFF, Danielle and I so wanted to race it, but we figured our coaches would totally kill us if we got hurt doing this!!  See we do make wise choices sometimes!! Instead we spent the afternoon bundled up to the Salsa heater scheming up a Wausau 12 hour team!!

On another note, it's MARCH!!! Oh my gosh let the Maddness begin.  I love March for so many reasons:
1. March = spring! 
2. Daylight savings Time starts March 10th, finally some sun for my evening rides!
3. March Maddness...tourney time!!!
4. soon there will be some 40 degree + days, we are above freezing folks!
5. shit, this March is the last month before I turn 30, I had better make it a good one!
6. St. Patty's Day...gotta love the Irish!

Speaking of March Maddness, the Gophers took down #1 Indiana this week!  I could not be more excited to see The Barn in total uproar. Seeing this on TV gave me the chills and made me almost miss the good ole days of playing in The Barn.  But hell that was another life, bring on the next mountain bike race!!