Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Red Wing Classic and Life without Power

Let's just start off by saying that last weekend was a total cluster f*ck!  Originally I had planned a fairly chill weekend; however in the end things pretty much went nothing to plan.

Friday night Tom and I sat down and splurged on a Comcast movie  (honestly I can't even remember which movie it was at this point). About 5 minutes into the move the lights suddenly went out?  Hmm that's weird?  We looked outside and immediately felt like Dorothy and Todo in the Wizard of Oz.  The trees were blowing all over the place and seriously it looked like a tornado, not to mention it was raining really hard.  The storm blew over in about 20 minutes, but just looking across the street you could tell some serious damage had taken place... a massive tree had uprooted from the ground and was now leaning on the brick building.  Gnarly!

So since we didn't have power; naturally we went outside to check it out.  It was nutz!!   Dean Parkway had two large 100 year + trees uproot and crash across the road, totalling about 5 cars. The roads were flooded and some cars were stalled.  Fences had blown apart and trash cans were all over the place! Straight up chaos!

Saturday... still no power. I spent most of the morning slamming coffee at Dunn Bros and charging up our phones. My parents had gone away for the weekend and had planned to spend Saturday night at a hotel in Red Wing and then watch my race on Sunday. This worked out awesome for us as we were able to crash their party air mattress style and enjoy an air conditioned nights sleep. Rock on!  You are the best, Thanks Mom and Dad!

Sunday am we woke up to some pretty steady!  I was worried they would cancel the race, but thankfully I was in luck as they had a "rain lap" planned.  This allowed them to still have the race without ruining a bunch of  sweet trails. The rain finally stopped and we ended racing 6 laps on a 3.5 mile course that had much more double track than single track.  Although I was bummed about doing so many laps, I figured this was mostly in my favor so I embraced it. What other choice do you have right??  The rain had created some greasy trails and there was still enough single track mixed in to keep the race technical and fun! 

I was able to nab a spot this time on the front row and  was able to get the hole shot on the lead out.  Since there was so much double track I was definitely not wanting to do all the work.  The super fast pro Sara Kylander Johnson was right on my rear wheel from the get go and after a half mile or so she made a pass and I was able to bridge up and stay right on her wheel heading into the single track.  Sara has a ton of experience racing mountain bikes and it was fun to follow her in the trail and follow the lines she was choosing.  There was definitely some ah ha moments for me as she took some lines I would have definitely not considered.  My plan was to stay on her wheel as long as possible...which lasted about 2.5 miles in when my rear tire slipped on a greasy uphill. I ended up coming through lap 1 about 10 seconds down. 

This is the decision point of a race that keeps me up at night.

1. Do i kill myself trying to keep up and see how long I can bury it the whole race or will I blow up? 


2 Do I settle into a pace that I feel I can maintain for the duration...protect my position and focus on racing my race? 

We can all see the pros and cons of both sides and I'm sure all of your can think of this very moment in all of your own races. Um, unless you are winning from the gun!   Of course I still don't know the answer to this, but I figure the more I race my bike the more I can trust my gut to help me make the right decision when the times comes. This go around  I chose option 2. I suffered steadily the remaining 5 laps and was able to finish in 2nd place; about 4 minutes down from Sara....a result I am very happy with at this point in my cycling career.   It was also awesome to have my parents on the course cheering for me each lap; and an kick ass husband handing up bottles to me every lap!  My cup is overflowing!!

The drive home was full of anticipation as we were really hoping to come home to an air conditioned house....but of course, no luck!  We were instead greeted by 2 sweaty cats (smelly cat?) and a fridge full of rotten food.  We were exhausted!  My bestie Lisa however pulled through and so generously offered us to stay at her place and even do a load of laundry!!  Sunday night was spent chatting over a couple New Glarus beers. We made the best of it; that's for sure.  And would ya know it....Monday we had POWER!!!

Thank you so much Mom, Dad, and Lisa for making this weekend bearable. You provided us a nice comfy place to stay; but the truth is we really enjoyed spending the time with you!
This weekend brought some things to light (pun intended).  It's amazing what life would be like without power.  Today I am feeling grateful for the life we have.

Monday, June 17, 2013

WORS # 4 Battle of CamRock

This past weekend Tom and I headed to MadTown for the WORS Battle of CamRock race. I originally wasn't planning on doing this race, but after racing my first WORS race a few weeks ago I couldn't wait to do another one.  Once again WORS did not disappoint,f and even Tom was impressed with how legit the race day set-up really feels like a first class event. 

We arrived at CamRock  to pre-ride around 3 pm Saturday.  Tom went off for a 60 minute run and I hit the trails to see what was up. The course was set to be 2 laps, each about 8.5 miles. I was really stoked to learn that 2 miles of each lap were to be wide open double track yeh!  Since I just hit my 1 year anniversary of mountain biking I'll be the first to admit that my technical skills need a little lot of work.  So these wide open power sections definitely help level the playing field a bit for me. Outside of this double track there was some nice technical sections and a sweet uphill switchback section with wide berms.  I kept wondering what it would be like to race down the berms instead of up!

After pre-ride Tom and I headed to check into our hotel Madison.  I had scored the Clarion, a 3 Star hotel on Priceline for $48. Hell yeah, it was even a suite..sweet!  I dont' know what it is about Priceline, but not much can replace the adrenaline of that moment right before you you see "Congratulations your bid has been accepted."  And then you scroll down to see what hotel you got!  It totally reminds me of when I was a child and I used to splurge on Grab Bags at the flee market!  I love Grab Bags!!!

Tom and I hit up The Great Dane Saturday (of course!) for an awesome dinner and then he even demanded to go out for ice cream on State Street afterwards (this almost never happens so I was totally on board!). Madison holds a super special place in my heart as it's home to my very first Ironman Finish. As much as Tom hates the Badger carnies I know this town is special for him too.  Accomplishing something you never thought was possible is pretty cool.  September 13,  2009 changed my life forever.  I'm hoping to replicate this feeling some day on my mountain bike!

Last night Tom brought something very important to light.. For the past few years I had been tirelessly chasing a Kona Ironman dream.  He said "Just think how different things would have been if you would have qualified at Ironman St. George."  He is totally right, had I qualified I would have raced in Kona last fall and chances are I wouldn't be racing WORS races on a mountain bike and discovering an amazing new world!  Things do happen for a reason and I'm fully certain I was meant to race on a mountain bike.

Okay back to the race. I had an awesome night of sleep and I was really feeling rested and ready to rock it. I had a solid warm up and my bike was shifting great and all was well.  Then as we were gathering for the race start I heard the mumbles that the race course had changed and that the 2 miles of double track were removed and now it was going to be 3 laps and 2 miles longer.  Craphole...none of this was in my favor. Life is not fair, get over it. The start of this race was challenging as basically they forced us to mash right up a 5.5% grade from the gun.  I didn't get a call up, but was still able to get a spot on the outside of the front row. 5 seconds later...Go!  and we were off.  My goal was to win the initial climb and either be first into the single track or second. 

I got the hole shot and then at the top of the climb was passed by Abby.  I immediately grabbed her wheel and was second heading into the singletrack  We were moving pretty quickly and I wasn't handling my bike all that well and then smack! I hit my handlebars on a tree and had to put a foot down.  For the record...I am not counting this as a crash.  However I am sure it pissed a few gals behind me off as it let Abby get a bit away from us all.  It wasn't how i anticipated the start, but I suppose sh*t happens.  I recovered and worked hard to keep my position.  I was passed pretty quickly by the Canadian Pro, Sue.  I tried to grab her wheel, but her single track skills were much smoother than mine and that was short lived.  So here I was in 3rd and racing my ass off.  Since this was really the first normal summer day of the year I was feeling super hot!  I got passed again by another pro, Lisa on the top of the climb starting the 2nd lap.  At this point I was really struggling...

One thing I noticed at these WORS races is how friendly the gals are when they pass. They all talk and really respect each other.  It's refreshing.   It's basically like "excuse me, if you don't mind I'm gonna pass you on your right".  Okay it's not quite that nice, but really I'm sure it's a far cry from the men's races.  Lisa is a super nice gal and she was riding really well. But,she passed me and that's never fun.  Finally mid way through the 2nd lap I dumped some water on myself and was starting to feel a bit cooler.  I  had caught a 2nd wind and was able to finish strong and in 4th place!  It's not every day that you get to stand on a podium with these amazing chicks!  

Today is a rest day which means I'm sitting here drinking a Spotted Cow and my hands smell like Mill Valley Kitchen usual life is damn good!
Nothinig like resting on a Foundry...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Note to Self: From now on...spit to the right!

 Last night’s solo ride turned out to be a bit more exciting than anticipated.  My plan this week called for some climbing repeats that were supposed to be 6 minutes long.  Since we are city dwellers finding a hill that long can pose quite a challenge.  Lisa B reminded me a couple weeks back of High Bridge to Dodd repeats so I went and checked it out on Strava and estimated it would take me at least 5 minutes to complete the climb.  It turned out to be close enough and just meant I’d have to do one extra repeat.  So off to St. Paul it was!  The best part of my repeats was seeing this view 5 times in a row! 

This sweaty lens photo does not do justice. The top of High Bridge is easily one of the best views in all of Minnesota.

 After snapping the above photo I started heading home hoping to make it before sundown.  As I was heading down Marshall Ave towards the 612 I started to notice that my mouth was super frothy from the 2 bottles of Gatorade I had taken down.  So naturally to remedy the situation I cocked my head to the left, puckered my lips and just at the moment I was about to let ‘er rip I saw a dude out of the corner of my eye passing me on the left… oooohhhh shiiit!  Yep, It was too late…and in an instant the saliva was airborne and flying right towards the dude’s face…Splat!   

I couldn’t believe it.  I was in shock, mortified!!! Embarrassed!! All I could come up with was “oh my gosh I am so sorry!”  I think the dude was also in shock and to my surprise he just shrugged it off and said “It’s alright.” (Really?? what a trooper!) His buddy who happened to be sucking off his wheel was laughing his ass off.  I couldn’t blame him.  Inside I was dying too!!  I’m sure they will be talking about that for years.  To quote my friend Lisa… “Remember that girl that spit on you while riding?” Yep, I am that girl. 

So the moral of the story is…

1.      Maybe girls shouldn’t be spitting while riding their bike? (or anyone for that matter)
2.      Maybe dudes shouldn't be passing on the left without saying anything? (bad karma?)

Mom if you are reading this…sorry!  I know you are oh so proud!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Buck Hill, Cuyuna, and Strava Smashfests

The past 5 days were so full of life that it actually feels great to just flat out sit on my ass tonight and write this blog.  The fun started out Thursday night when I hit up Buck Hill for Thursday Night at the Races.  These nights at Buck are so much freaking fun and it's one of those weekly events that makes me really love living in Minnesota.  Not much beats 45 minutes of single track smash followed by a beer (or 2!) It seriously amazes me that this event continues to draw a couple hundred racers each week. My favorite part is chilling out afterwards with good friends while watching the little minis race around the wood chip track!  Their finish line is basically a massive tub full of candy.  First across gets first dibs!

Friday night was a long overdue Sushi!! happy our with Alex and Carla...any night that involves sushi is epic!!

Saturday we celebrated my little Godson Drew turning 3! He is my bestie Ericka's son and he was the cutest  little man ever unwrapping all his gifts.  Afterwards Tom and I headed straight up to Cuyuna to rip out some clay based single track and we had a blast.  They have this section called "the Bobsled" which basically involves a bunch of downhill berms.  I suck at berms so we probably should have spent the entire 2 hours on this section.  Here is Tom showing his hot wife how it's done. I told him by the time I was 38 he'd be asking for lessons from me!

Tom did manage to crash once and puncture his tricep on a sharp rock!  It looks a little nasty so I rubbed some dirt on it and told him he was fine!  Believe it or not I wasn't the one that crashed this time around!  Later on in the ride we climbed up some switchbacks and were treated to this!! What a beautiful view of Cuyuna lakes.  This photo pretty much sums up our weekend!

Saturday night was spent in Brainerd with Tom's Aunt Sandra and Uncle Todd. Oh and of course Morgan!  My favorite thing about Morgan is he loves to play and run.  We spent most of the  night boxing and tearing up the back yard!   

Morgan vs Morgan

We love getting up north to see these three and we are always greeted with awesome food, great beer and some of the best bonfires!  One happy girl!

Sunday was supposed to be spent exploring the rest of Cuyuna but of course IT RAINED!  ugh.  So we had to drive home and hope that the rain would let up.  Fortunately it did, and with enough time for Tom and I to get in a Tonka Loop.  It was so awesome to ride both days with Tom as it's been a long time since our training schedules have allowed for this to happen.  I tried to cherish every minute, even the ones that were spent sucking wind and staring straight at Tom's ass an attempt to gain a couple Strava QOMs. At one point I seriously thought  I was going to throw up. Oh Strava.

Now it's back to business and I'm stoked to see climbing intervals in my training plan this week!  Seems like forever since I did a healthy set of hill repeats. Ruff!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bull in the China Shop Strikes Again!!!

Bah!!!  I broke my bike AGAIN!!!

Morten Morland Cartoon - The Times
This past weekend was the Bluff Rider's Charge race at Mt. Kato ski hill.  This was my first MN MTB Series race in the expert class so I was really excited to compete against some of Minnesota's best riders on what appeared to be a fairly challenging 4 lap course.  Since I had never ridden this course before Tom and I arrived early so that I could get a pre-ride lap in.  The course had some technical switchback descents as well as a fairly challenging start which involved navigating a switchback trail straight up one of the ski hills.  I ended up picking a crappy starting spot and as a result ended up getting a pretty crappy start...lame.

However regardless of how poor my start was, I was also not prepared for the pace that Jenna and Sarah Jansen were about to set on the initial climb.  In fact when I saw Jenna out of her saddle mashing her way up the mountain I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped and I whipped out my notepad to take some notes!  It was impressive to say the least.  Up at the top of the hill I entered the single track in 3rd position and was on the chase to get back onto Sarah's wheel.  I was feeling pretty strong and flowy on the single track and was starting to get into a groove.  I had lost Sarah for a brief moment but then right as we got to the section with the technical descent I saw her with her foot down and much like a dog on the chase I thought to myself..."this is my chance!"  In reality this was the worst possible time to to be having such drooling thoughts as I took the drop off and left turn too know where this is heading.  Yep, this resulted in me slamming on the brakes and the executing a somersault through the air!!  When you're able to look up at the sky and see your bike flying towards a tree you know this is not going to end good.  Seconds later...bam!  I was on my back and could hear the "oooohs" and "are you alright?" mumblings coming from the peanut gallery inside the single track.  I got up quickly (remember this was my chance!!) and I was amazed that 1- not much really hurt, well maybe my back a little and 2 - my bike was completely fine!  Yeh! 

It took a little while to shake out the rattles, but within a couple more minutes I could see Sarah again and heading into the 2nd lap I estimated I was 15-20 seconds down.  I figured this wasn't so bad all things considered.  I took in some fuel and was really happy with how good my legs were feeling.  Then about 2 miles into the second lap as I was navigating a steep uphill climb the Bull was let loose and then thunder, clatter, bang, bang, snap!  I knew it the moment I felt it...I BROKE MY FREAKING CHAIN!!!!  Ahhh!!!!  Game Over!  Boo.   Here I thought I had finally turned over a new leaf since it had been so long  since I broke my bike; but turns out this still remains my Achilles heel.  On the positive side, I figure the fact that I can actually break my chain with my own force is probably not such a bad thing in the long run.

As I was doing the walk of shame back to greet Tom I thought of our buddy Evan from Marquette and wished I had packed a flask in my jersey pocket as shit, that would have really come in handy.  My back was now sore from the crash and I reached up and could feel that it was all scraped up.  Funny thing is when I got home and went to wash my jersey I realized that there wasn't a spot of dirt on the back of it.  That's weird?  I had assumed that I must have landed on a root or a rock. So I guess this means at some point my back had landed right on top of my handlebars....totally rad!

Outside of the bull fight we had a pretty damn good weekend. Friday night I zipped over to Twin Six to pick up my All-City X Fulton Racing Kits for Cyclocross season and it felt like Christmas.  I could barely get into the car before I was ripping them out of their little plastic baggies. This kit fits me like a glove and I love it so much it's unreal.  I also splurged on a thermal jacket and trying it on I can tell it will be more than worth it on those chilly fall afternoons.

Apartment Fashion Show!

Tom's cousin Todd was in town this weekend for his monthly Army training and we also got to see my family Sunday night for Alyssa's birthday celebration.  Saturday morning was SPECTATEcular as Tom and I went to watch some of our favs race the New Bri Tri!  Lisa, Eman, and Christina all had great races and I personally really enjoyed watching (over racing) with coffee in hand! Here is Lisa and Christina in action!

Tomorrow night I plan to hit up Buck Hill for Thursday Night at the Races.  I hope to redeem myself and prove that I really can still ride my bike clean.