Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wausau24 Teamin'

I met Danielle Musto last winter when I dove right into the Fat Bike racing scene!  Right away it was obvious she had a true passion for racing her bike and I instantly liked her!  She was a riot!  A few more fat bike races some Thai food and a gifted 4 pack of Farmhand Ale later and I had somehow committed to racing the 12 hour duo with her at Wausau24!? 

Musto is a Pro endurance racing machine and has completed multiple 24 hour races not to mention dozens more 100 milers!  I on the other hand had never been to a 24 hour race , could not understand why someone would ever want to ride their bike for 24 hours straight?! and really I had never rode my mountain bike for more than 4 and 1/2 hours in one day.  Needless to say 6 hours and 64 miles later I am completely trashed...and I can't stop eating.  Its' quite gross actually.  Oh and apparently it turns out that slamming down a pulled pork sandwich in between laps isn't a such a great idea... who would have known?????

Tom and I arrived into Wausau Friday night and quickly checked in and then shared some nervous energy with my teammate Danielle.  We then we headed out to the Great Dane to meet up with Benny G and his girlfriend, Laura who live in Wausau.  Who can turn down good friends, good burgers and good beer?

Both Danielle and I were so stoked for the race the next day we could barely get to sleep! Earlier in the week Danielle had joked that she felt like she was getting reading for a XC race and I felt like I was getting ready for an endurance race.  It was so true!!

Friday morning  finally came and soon we were tearing up the room and throwing as many layers as possible into our bags....it was freezing out and the high temp for the day was in the mid 50s?  The Midwest is such a weird place. We were of course really pushing it time wise in true April fashion and when we got our to our cars and turned on the ignition we realized something was really wrong....ahh shit!  Tom and I had a flat tire?!!! No way? you can't be serious.?? Danielle and I rushed to the gas station to pick up one of those emergency flat tire sealant cans. Midas gave me the touch last spring and told me that these sealant cans are really bad for your tires...well shove it Midas, it worked!! We got to the race site with barely enough time to check in and get my race number.

Danielle had reserved us a sweet pit spot on Friday so all we had to do was put up the 45NRTH tent. Tom was our pit boss and he helped set up our tent and gear while we both got warmed up.  Our pit was right next to Musto's friend Ben and Megan's tent.  Ben raced the 12 hour solo and totally crushed it getting 3rd place.  His girlfriend however makes the best homemade power bars...which eventually made it into my feeding frenzy. Thanks Megan!

The Wausau24 race starts off with a what they call a Le Mans start, which means you set your bike down in a spot and then when the gun goes off you run to it, mount it and then go!!  Danielle thought since this was my first race of this sort it was only fair I get to experience it.  So yes...after a 9 month hiatus I have officially come out of running retirement.  The run was about 200 yards so I figured I had better do some wind sprints to warm up....this was me after my first warm up run totally gasping for air...yikes. 

Finally we were at the start and I was so flustered and really just praying I wouldn't pull a muscle!  Finally GO! I felt like I was Running with the Bulls!  It was hilarious to have people stomping around in bike shoes and then trying to dodge each other while we hopped on our bikes...what a hilarious way to start a mountain bike race..I loved it! 

Where's Waldo?
 Racing as a team rocks as not only do you want to do well for yourself, but you also want to do well for your team...it's super motivating!  I was hammering it on the first lap and since I hadn't pre-rode the course my handling was a bit sketchy. There was a few rock gardens at Nine Mile Forest and on the first lap I hit my handle bar on a tree right before one and my shoe came unclipped and then smash... I crashed right down the rock garden! Oh bother.... I'm so used to crashing these days that I just carried on like usual and made up some time smashing through the double track!  I finally came ripping into the transition area to see Danielle waiting for me, we slapped hands and then she was on her way!  What a rush!

Throughout the 12 hour period we rotated doing single laps and double laps. Doing single laps is perhaps the fastest way to do it, but having the 2 laps gave us a bit more time recover, fuel up, fix our bikes and in my case eat an entire pulled pork sandwich....

I of course had packed a whole bag full of energy gels, bars, fruit and other snacks that I should have been eating,  However none of that seemed appealing so throughout the day I just pretty much ate what I wanted which included the following (and then some!):
  • 7/8 bottles of Gatorade
  • 2/3 flasks of vanilla EFS
  • 1 Latte Clif Shot
  • some water??
  • chocolate wafers
  • pulled pork sandwich
  • coffee
  • chips
  • hot dog
  • more chips
  • Red bull!
  • lemon wafers
  • beef jerky
  • bonk breaker bar
  • some pretzels
  • Megan's amazing power bars
  • some Pringles
  • watermelon
  • more of Megan's amazing power bars, yum!
  • 2 chocolate chip cookies
  • Finish line Pizza!
  • Finish line Beer!
Believe it or not, my stomach never even hurt. However I did have one really shitty hot mess lap, which we now refer to as the Pork Sandwich Meltdown.  I never felt sick, but all the sudden I had zero energy.  It was like my world came crashing down and I was having hard time controlling my bike.  Eventually I crashed face first down the exact same rock garden smashing my forearm on a lovely rock. Based on the smorgasbord above it couldn't have been for a lack of calories...rather I'm pretty sure my body just wanted a  nap post Thanksgiving Feast :) oops!

Danielle has obviously done this before and thankfully she had packed a 4 pack of  Red Bull.  This meant once it was time for me to do another lap, I had wings!!! I felt amazing!  I guess this roller coaster is what makes endurance racing so much fun!  The last lap I did was in the dark and I even cleared some of the tougher rock gardens with lights!  It was rad! 

Thanks XTR for capturing this night shot! Proof I can ride rocks!

Danielle had the final lap and she killed it in the dark!  When she came ripping into the finish she had the biggest smile on her face!  We had won!!!  Woo hoo! 

Right after the race Danielle said it best, "that was so much fun!"

Wausau 12 Hour was a blast we are already making plans to head back next year!  In fact, we were so pumped Saturday night we stayed up til 2 am sharing stories from the day and drinking you guessed it, some Farmhand Ale...poor Tom was exhausted and passed out after being an amazing pit boss.  He told me Saturday night that Danielle was a much better "employee" and whenever he told her she had 15 minutes until her next lap she would do as told and get up and start getting stuff  ready.  I on the other hand was a total pain in the ass and would ignore him until well pretty much I decided it was time to get up and get ready.  You aren't the boss of me!!  :)

The following day were the awards and we were of course we were still eating.  I didn't have a place to change out my shirt so I put my Foundry jersey on over my t-shirt.  I of course felt like a sausage and asked Ben, Megan, Tom and Danielle if I looked like "fat girl in a little jersey?" They lied to me!!

Food baby?
Thank you Tom for supporting us, you rock. Thank you Scott for stopping by to entertain Tom for a bit and also for fixing my bike! Thank you 45NRTH for letting us use your tent. Wausau for a kick ass race and a kick ass trail!  See you all next year!

Oh and for the record.....I still don't know why someone would ever want to ride their bike for 24 hours straight!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MTB Nationals Cat 1 XC and Short Track!

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."  - Vince Lombardi

I am finally home and having a seriously hard time getting back on my bike....could be the fact that my entire body is bruised and battered from a rough weekend of racing and more crashes than I could  count!! But really it's probably just because I'm loving just sitting on my ass.

Last weekends trip out to Philly turned out to be an incredible weekend of racing!  When I first began set my summer race schedule, Nationals didn't quite make the cut as Tom was already scheduled to be in Utah for work.  As the season evolved my coach and I decided that this weekend would be a great test of fitness and a chance to race for a coveted Stars and Stripes jersey. 

Before I get any further on this post I really need to take a moment to thank some people that made this weekend possible in the first place.  Last week was a bit rough as my cat Vito was sick :( and I spent the better part of the week making trips to the vet and  worrying about my little "Fat Boy!"  Since he needed to be checked on regularly,  my parents agreed to watch him at their home for the weekend!  There is no one I can trust more than my mom and dad. Thank you both so much, you are the best.  Vito is doing better!

Also a HUGE thanks to my bestie Lisa for joining me on this trek out to Bear Creek Resort. If it wasn't for having such a great friend it's likely I wouldn't have made this trip. She not only took vacation from work and spent $$ out of her own pocket to support me on this trip...but she also provided me a sense of calm and support by helping me both process my struggles and celebrate my success.  Lisa, you always amaze me...thank you is not enough!

We arrived to Philly late Thursday night and spent the night at an airport hotel before heading to Bear Creek Resort on Friday.  Contrary to many of the sketchy "ghetto hotel tour" destinations as of late we totally splurged on this one and stayed with Spoo in a suite (sweet!) right on the mountain!!  The resort was awesome and such a wonderful place to just relax and vacation in its own right with plenty of restaurants a pool, etc.  Not to mention the race course was 20 yards out the back door.  There really wasn't any reason to leave. 

During the week leading up to the race I was hearing mumblings across the social network scene about this course being "very rocky."  I thought really?  how rocky can it be?  Spoo told me it was like one continuous rock garden.  yeah right spoo...quit exaggerating!  I figured a continuous rock garden not possible...well turns out it is possible!!!  I pre-rode a couple laps on Friday, one that was dry and one that was wet.  The wet lap was absolutely insane and I crashed a few times.  On one of the crashes I smashed my pedal into my ankle and I literally thought I was gonna vomit!  Good thing you don't need your ankles all that much to ride your bike as this little buddy was the least of my worries on Saturday!

Cat 1 XC Race
Race morning came early Saturday as we had a 10:30 am start.  I was stoked race early however I was obviously nervous as my stomach felt like a typical Ironman morning.  Thankfully once the gun went off this disappeared somewhere beneath the rocks.  I had a pretty good jump off the line and ended up heading into the single track in second with a huge pack of wolves breathing down my neck. 

The course had me a bit flustered from the get go and soon into the race my rear tire slipped on a rock and I had to step down.  This sucked big time as I basically watched what felt like my entire age group pass me before I could smoothly get back on my bike.  I was calm about the situation as I knew this course would make for a very long day.  I caught back up to a few gals on the climb however I didn't ride the descent very well on the first lap and at one point even crashed going totally over the bars and throwing my body onto a bridge.  The best part of this is that Spoo witnessed it first hand and to my luck even caught it on film. I still can't watch the clip without laughing...it's a hot mess!

The 2nd lap went much better and with the exception of one crotch jamming crash,  things went fairly well. I caught a few more girls in some other age groups and then with about a mile to go I could see a gal in front of me with a 30 on her calf.  At this point I really had no idea what place I was in but I figured if this was the difference between me and the podium I'd kill myself if I didn't beat her to the line.  I took the inside line on one of the switchbacks and managed to ride the rocks well enough to hold my place till the finish!! 

6th place in my age group and 17th Cat 1 overall.  I was mentally exhausted and physically battered!!!  In reality this course got the best of me; but both my bike and body are in one piece, and  in the end I know I am a better rider today than I was last week  Patience young grasshopper!

Cat 1 Short Track
One thing I've learned through a life of sport is that dwelling on an average result gets u just about nowhere.  I was quick to process Saturday's race effort and I was also quick to move on. Short track racing suits me and I was confident that if I did one simple thing "race my ass off," in the end I would be happy with the result.  Short track racing is very cyclocross like with multiple laps and throughout the entire race you have to convince yourself over and over and over again that you can continue to push the pace without blowing up and/or throwing up! It hurts pretty bad.  This small factor makes it really easy to be nervous, not just about the race, but about the pain!!  I had raced short track a couple times this year and due to those results I was able to score a spot on the first row.  This was important as the beginning lead out narrowed very quickly.  I had a perfect spot, but a slightly slow start and my handlebars knocked a neighbors and I almost tasted dirt from the get go.  Luckily I was able to hold onto 2nd position for well not very long at all.  I was quickly passed 3 other racers and spent some time in 5th and even a little bit of time in 6th place on the first couple laps.  By the 3rd lap I was starting to feel a bit stronger and made a couple passes to land myself in 4th place behind 3 juniors. 

On the 5th lap or so I creeped up on the gal in 3rd place and due to my lack of impatience made a stupid move to pass her on an offcamber turn!  To her credit she fought for it and cut me off, I ended up sliding out on the corner and getting once again nailed in the arm by my poor Broadaxe!  I got up quickly and kept my spot in 4th but my heart rate felt like it was way over max!!  I lost some time on that lap and even got re-passed and was again back in 5th place!  Eventually I grabbed the 4th place wheel and fought like hell...this worked out well as we both passed the gal in 3rd as a train.  I  suffered to hold on and decided that on the final lap (#9) I would make a move on the climb and fight for the bronze.  Turns out it was the right move at the right time.  I could hear Lisa and Spoo cheering and also the announcer screaming "she has a 5 second gap, a 10 second gap, a 15 second gap" it was a huge rush!!! I crossed the finish line in 3rd place....all smiles and so incredibly stoked!!!! This was one of those incredible moments where suddenly the world slows down and all of your hard work, struggles and dreams all come together. Beautiful Day!

Huge thanks to my husband, Tom, you always believe I can be great!. I know you would have loved to have been at Nationals with me.  Trust me, you were.  Thank you to my coach Matt for your continued passion towards my goals.  I can be a huge pain in the ass at times, but you are always patient and most of the time you are right. Thank you Chris for teching me how to ride a mountain bike and for always reminding me to "have fun!" because in the end that is really what matters.  Thank you to Larry and Sophie for kicking my butt all winter at the Fix; I'm certain I am able to suffer on days like this because of what you do. Lastly, thanks to all of you that support me, encourage me, and for whatever reason read this blog.  If these stories inspire just one person to give the dirt a try....this blog will have been well worth it.

This coming wekeend I will be racing my first 12 hour team race with my new Michigan bestie Danielle Musto.  Musto is a riot and I'm sure Wausau24 will be a race to remember!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Subaru Cup Pro XCT

First things first, Subaru Cup Pro XCT was awesome!  I had a freaking blast and I can't wait to race it again next year! 

Tom and I arrived at Mt. Morris in the late Friday afternoon.  I headed to check in for the race and Tom headed out for a run.  My Foundry teammate Gus from Michigan was also in town for the event so we planned to meet up and pre-ride the course together!  Not only is Gus a pretty cool dude, but he also has some better technical skills and so it was HUGE to be able to follow his lines through some of the sketchy sections...or all of them!  There were tons of rock gardens and I kept wishing I had spent many more days at Lebanon.  But no use crying over spilled milk... so I held my breath and said a prayer.

Early on in the pre-ride we rounded a corner and there was a massive drop off boulder.  I seriously stopped and got off my bike. I'm pretty sure my jaw was touching the dirt.  This boulder is probably nothing to most hard core mountain bikers out there, but I had never really ridden anything like that.  As I was off my bike assessing the situation Pro Luna biker Teal rode by and said "ah, that's nothing, you got it!"  I figured well if you say so?  So I went for it and to my disbelief it was not nearly as daunting as it appeared!  There was also a super gnarly drop off section with a boulder garden at the end of it.  My coach had told me to "ride the shit" out of all the technical sections. I spent a good amount of time trying to master this one.  I rode all the different lines and in the end picked one and even though I wasn't sure it was the right, I committed to it. I left the pre-ride feeling a little uneasy and wondering if the course was a little over my head. 

Race morning I was feeling pretty good and excited about the challenge of the technical course and ready to race!  There was a pretty big field of cat 1 racers and tons of juniors.  I felt like a grandma at the start!  Some of these girls can't even drive a car, but damn can they ride a mountain bike!  Finally 10-9-8-7-6-5.....Go!  I had a second row spot at the start and I slipped a pedal ARG! So it was a total smashfest up the initial climb and I was 3rd or 4th heading into the single track.  It was a bit of a cluster right from the get go with a mechanicals and lots of fighting for positions.  Eventually things settled down and I was in 4th place behind BMC junior Ksenia.  We raced against each other at Bonelli XCT so I knew she had some good technical skills.  I went for the pass a few times but she managed to hold me off so I spent most of the race on her wheel usually losing ground on the technical sections and gaining it back on the double track.  On the 3rd lap we were both passed by another fast gal, Erin from Michigan. I'm still kicking myself for not trying to grab her wheel (I am sure I was just flat out tired!!!).  Eventually I was able find another gear and pass Ksenia on one of the double track sections and hold on for 4th place overall; 2nd in my age class! 

Sunday was the Short Track race and I LOVE SHORT TRACK!!!  It's just a full out 20ish minute smashfest and reminds me of racing cyclocross.  There is a lot less thinking and a lot more suffering. Suffering I get...thinking and strategy not so much. I got to pre-ride most parts of the course which contained a few hills, a fair amount of turns and a SRAM Ramp!!! Rad!  I had never ridden a ramp before so I was stoked!  I got a good call up for this race and ended up on the front row right next to super fast junior Kate that won the XC race the previous day.  I had a great jump off the line, but so did Kate and she managed to edge me up the initial climb.  I stayed on her wheel for the first couple laps and then fell off by 12 seconds.  That gap remained for last 3 suffer filled laps of the course. I could hear a lot of cheers from some new mountain bike friends and it really helped me push the last few laps! Every time I thought I was making some ground we'd round the next corner and Kate would have gained it back. I ended up in 2nd place; 11 seconds back knowing I had given all that I had that day. It was a well fought race and it really makes me excited to race short track again next weakened!

What I love most about this race weekend was getting to know a lot of really cool new people.  I watched most of the Pro Short track Race with Cooper and she sure is a fun gal....I'm holding her to her promise to show me all the sweet trail in Marquette next month.  The folks from Adventure 212 Scott, Michelle and Lisa are all such nice people and really make me want to race more WORS races. Tricia and Ben from Chicago have me wanting to see what the Chicago cyclocross scene is all about.  Both Tom and I really left invigorated and I felt very welcomed in the mountain bike world.  Turns out...the dirt makes people a bit more down to earth! 

Coming up next MTB Nationals!!! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

4th of July Go Go Go!

4th of July Week was just about everything that it should have been...well except for one thing...I caught a freaking cold!  Really?  Who the hell catches a cold in summer?  I was in denial for most of the first 2 days praying it was allergies,  but by the time the weekend rolled around there was no more denying it..I was in the midst of a hardcore snotfest!   It's been awhile since I've been rocked like that.  Regardless, we had a whole week of fun planned and there was no way I was missing out. 

The week started off great with my first Tuesday Night Time trial out in Wayzata. This was before the cold erupted and I was feeling pretty good and pretty psyched to see what kind of effort I could lay down for 30 minutes.We had tons of friends join us for this and that sure made that "I feel like I'm about to explode and die" feeling seem a little less daunting!  I will admit it didn't feel nearly as bad as smashing out 30 minutes on a trainer at The Fix Studio...something about being on the move and feeling fast.  Since I sold my tri bike last year I raced this one on my Foundry Auger!!  I also broke in my Fulton race kit!

Since this was the also the first time trial for many of our close friends; we naturally endulged in some post race nourishment! I couldn't stop laughing at how small Tom and Willy's tacos were. More like taquitos!11 I could tell right the moment the plate came I would be sharing half my burger,  Bah!  So when Lisa had to leave early I just mowed down her left over salad!!  I love you all, you are my favs!  (oh and that is our really horrible server lurking in the background!)

Wednesday night we treated my loving parents to a night with Twins  for my dad's birthday!  This is when we all realized we had sore throats :( Lame.  oh and then Twins lost to the Yankees....lamer...at least there was some post race fireworks!

Fourth of July I was supposed to go for Tonka loop with Tom but we both decided to pull the plug and stay home. We actually cleaned the house for once...apparently that's what you can do more of when you don't ride your bike multiple hours a week!  Afterwards we enjoyed some raft time at Cedar Lake with Alex and Carla and then headed back to their place to let off some Fireworks!  

Alex is racing the Steelhead 70.3 on a FAT BIKE next month so we made him show off his brand new wetsuit! I wanted him to try it on and give a fashion show, but no luck. I'll post some more on this later, but Alex's Surly is decked out with some pretty sweet aero bars...he's a pioneer! Go Alex! We are super excited for you!!

Friday at work was B.R.U.T.A.L but I did manage to get a nap in before we headed down to Elysian, MN to spend the weekend at the River's lake home. We always look forward to this summer weekend vacation with our great friends Kari, Mark, Erick and Rory.   Mark's parents Marie and Tom Rivers are such wonderful people and they so generously welcome us into their home each year in July. Thank you for such a fabulous weekend to remember!!   

Kari and Mark's Princess Allie

Ericka and Rory's Prince Drew
My BFF's Ericka and Kari
We got home Sunday and finally after 3 days off the bike I finally felt good enough to shred some dirt at Elm Creek!  It was sadly the first time I rode there all summer!  The Grand Finale of a wicked awesome weekend was relaxing in the raft again while Tom got in his swim workout!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wedding Fun and Buck Hill Birch Bump!

I've already caught a serious case of July 4thitis, which means I could barely focus at work this week!  Finally we have a 4th of July week with an outstanding weather forecast...and boy do I have lot of "normal" non biking fun on tap! 
Speaking of "normal" this past Saturday I had both a bridal shower and a wedding (separate couples) to go to so my coach basically said:

"Why don't you just take the day off and have a "normal" Saturday?"

I was thinking...Really?  a "normal?" Saturday?  As opposed to my non-normal Saturdays?   I had no idea what he was talking about :)

But I am always quick to embrace a coach gifted day off so I rocked it and slept in Saturday,  had coffee with Tom and the cats and even watched the the Tour de France kick off before heading over to Osceola, WI for my cousin Emily's wedding shower!  She's getting married in August and also expecting a new baby come winter!  So excited for her!  We had a blast at the shower even though I totally sucked at making a tissue paper bouquet. Competition and crafts don't go well for me. The food was great and I of course ate as if I was still working out and man was that good cake!

Then it was rush home and change dresses for Rob & Leah's wedding...woot! Yes it's true I actually wore 2 different dresses in one day....setting a personal fashion record at age 30. Generally 2 dresses in one year is good for me.  Dresses are rare...in fact I refuse to ever wear one to work...I can't imaging sitting at my desk, chatting and typing away, and feeling all awkward  with thighs touching in a dress all day?  Hot mess!   When I was little my mom and I used to fight over me wearing a dress to my friends birthday parties.  She'd bribe me and say "well if you won't wear that dress I'll just call them and tell them you're not going to make it to the party." and then I'd say "fine, tell them I''m not coming."  So in the end I'd be that girl at the party in a t-shirt and sweatpants.  Dresses...meh.

Rob & Leah's wedding was FABULOUS!  It was at the St. Paul College Club, a mansion on Summit Avenue.  Not only was the setting amazing and unique; but I'm 100% sure it was one of the most "real" weddings I have ever been too.  They are so perfect for each other and it was such an honor to celebrate their special day with them.  Tom snapped this candid shot of Leah getting frisky later on in the evening!!

Since Saturday was full of action and of course a few cocktails.... my expectations for Sunday's Buck Hill Birch Bump race were quite low.  I figured worst case scenario I would have had an awesome Saturday and a solid training day on Sunday! 

I arrived Sunday feeling a rested from my day off and surprisingly felt really good on my warm-up lap. The weather was perfect, sunny skies and low humidity.  I decided this time I would see what I had on the lead out...this was going well until we hit a section on the course with some cones and I got confused about which way to go...so yeah I took the group a tad off course (sorry girls!!) and then Sara passed me.  I figured I'd again try to stay with her as long as possible.  The race started with a pretty decent climb similar to Mt Kato...my legs were totally pissed off (what happened to that amazing warm up feeling?)  and I just didn't have enough to stay on her wheel.  So I entered the single track in second and already about 5-10 seconds down...boo! About 15 minutes into the race there was this tree that was down on the edge of the trail (intentional obstacle).  Instead of avoiding the tree trunk I rode right up against it for 5 seconds or so which felt like an eternity as the log scraped the skin right off my leg.  Talk about adding salt to the wound!

I stayed in 2nd place for the entire race; but Corey was so close to me in 3rd place that I really had to stay on it and push the entire time. There was so much winding around the course that you would see other racers and really have a hard time knowing how close they were too you. Other than one "I'm riding stupid" crash on the 4th lap I thought I rode fairly smooth and I had spent some time focusing on my my descending speed...a skill I know I will need for Natz.  All in all it was a fantastic, well ran event that happened to be really close to home for once!

Sunday night we had dinner on the deck with my family and celebrated my dad's 66th birthday!  I am pretty sure I had the best brat ever!!  What a weekend!