Friday, September 27, 2013

Trek CXC Cup

Last weekend was the Trek CXC Cup and also my very first race with a UCI license. I will admit I was pretty nervous to be lining up next to some world class pros...but I was also pretty jacked to see how well I would do against some of the best competition in the country. Waterloo, WI was definitely the place to be seen last weekend.

I was also beyond stoked to be racing on my super freaking awesome brand new FOUNDRY HARROW!!! I have always loved my Auger and my Broadaxe, but this Harrow is one bad ass machine and I could tell instantly how lucky I was to be able to race on it. More on my tool later this week...but for now let's just say, this bike is rad!

Tom and had a slow start getting out of town on Friday and rolled in to the Madison Red Roof Inn about 10 PM. I had joked on facebook that night that I was pretty sure this was the place where the Gingers were supposed to stay, ha! This was the next stop on this years Sketchy Hotel Tour and I won this room on Hotwire for $38/night. How bad could it really be right? Well, bad enough to wake up Tom up Saturday night to some lady pounding on hotel doors screaming for help and then the cops showing up a minute later. So yep, next year I think we'll opt for Sun Prairie instead. April 10, Hotwire 1. meh.

Day 1:
Saturday morning we were up early. Tom bundled up for a 4 hour ride and I headed out to Waterloo to check in and check out the course! On my trek out to Trek (ha!) I ended up pulling out onto the road right behind a pick up truck with two matching black bikes! "Those have to be Augers!!" Turns out they were and the truck belonged to my Foundry Teammate Mackenzie Woodring! She's a super fast and super cool chica from Grand Rapids, MI (apparently the GR cult breeds fast biker chicks, right Danielle?). It was awesome to meet her in the morning and to also be racing with a teammate!

I went to check in for the race and turns out when you race a UCI race you have to go through a special check in process. Fancy. And also, since I don't have any UCI points I had to draw my race # and call up. You control your own fate..eeek! I reached deep down into a bag and pulled out race # 21! For all you football fans...Tom says I drew "Prime Time."

My warm up went pretty good, the course was super greasy from the morning dew and seemed to be super freaking bumpy compared to our smooth Tuesday Night CX Races, but otherwise it was a lot more technical than the video seemed to show with a ton of 180 degree turns. I was stoked! I spent most of the day messing around with the bike fit on my new ride and finally by the time the race rolled around I was ready to rock! #21 meant I received a 3rd row call-up. They called me up, checked my tire width and then we all waited about 10 minutes for the start whistle like a bunch of caged animals.

I had a fairly good start with the exception of almost killing myself over a sandbag. The first lap was fast as all get out and I thought that maybe I was sitting in the top 10 coming through the start gate. No way!?! Well that was short lived as I was riding off the back myself and was soon passed by a blazing group of 5 or so women including Mackenzie! I tried to grab on but my legs did not respond. I reminded myself that there was still another 4 laps and that's a lot of racing left. I was holding my position fairly well through the 2nd lap right close to some familiar fast ladies, Amber, Emma, Jen and Linda. I was feeling pretty good and was able to ride the hill that most racers had to run up

Chasing the Linda/Amber train!

Unfortunately mid way into the 3rd lap i dropped my chain and had to get off my bike to fix it. At this point they all went wizzing past me. Ugh. I fixed my bike, and fought like hell to catch back up. pretty sure I've never suffered that bad in my entire life. Linda/Amber and I battled all the way to a finish line sprint where I was able to come in 18th place Elite 2 seconds back from Amber. WOW!! That hurt so stinking bad I instantly thought "I can't believe we have to do this again tomorrow!"

Day # 2
I decided to skip the morning pre-ride today and sleep in. Tom went to get in a long run around Lake Monona so took my bike for a little spin near the lake to loosen up the legs and on my way back stumbled upon the Willy Street Fair. So much fun, they even had a parade. I love parades, always so much shenanigans going on!

Oh and I even did some shopping by bike. Turns out if you put a Bike on T-Shirt...I will buy it!

Finally we headed back over to Waterloo for the 2nd race. I was pleased with my warm up and suprised that my legs actually felt better than the previous day.  I enjoyed chatting with the fellow MN ladies Carrie, Jen, Corey and Terra before the start. I had a 3rd row call-up again and lined up next to Linda, another friendly and fast MN racer. If you find yourself in a race next to Linda you know you are riding fast. So at least I was starting in a good spot!

The whistle blew again and I had an awesome start, was really stoked to be right on some fast pro wheels after the first run up. I didn't have enough juice to hold that spot for too long, but that was fine as there was a ton of other fast ladies right there with me. This race was a bit of a cluster for me with another dropped chain and then a crash on one of the dusty corners. Bull strikes again! In reality it was however a blessing in disguise because the cluster gave me no choice other than to suffer more than I thought was possible once again to bridge back up to Corey and Linda. I had great legs on Sunday and was able to make up almost all of my lost ground coming in seconds behind Jen who had an amazing race!  I finished 17th overall Elite!

Jen on the chase....she got me!!!
What a blast! I had so much fun racing and mixing it up all weekend long with some really great racing friends.  We are so fortunate in MN to have so many fast and dedicated cyclists. I admit I have really caught the cx bug and just typing this post has me all jacked up to race again. In cross life is simple.  "Is snot running down your face? are you breathing so hard that you can hear nothing other than your panting breathe? Are your legs burning so bad that they are swearing at you? If the answer is no, you should go harder.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

Well it's a wrap, another Cheq 40 race weekend has come and went...just like that! 363 days until next years race!! I love the Cheq Fat Tire Festival so much that its a race I have looked forward to for almost an entire year! Well partly because I had some revenge to get after last years mechanical problems, but mostly because this race draws thousands of racers and who doesn't love a big time event with an epic roll-out!

That's Me!

After racing this past weekend I have realized that after almost every race I'll think, and often even say "man I felt terrible" for a large portion of that race. In reality I really felt awesome, powerful, in control and strong. Sure I had a few moments where I was struggling to grab on to the packs of dudes ripping past me, and a few hills that really took their toll, but that's just racing! I mean if I was out there for more than 2 and a half hours and felt really good the entire time it's likely I was on a stroll to Tin Fish for Tacos instead of racing my bike! I even have some horrifying grimace photos the official race photographer took to prove I was throwing it. Unfortunately I couldnt' afford to show you as I'm pretty sure I spent this week's bike fund getting my new CX bike ready to race. Yes!! It's CX season!!!

Anyways, more on that later this week... back to the race. Tom and arrived in Hayward Friday night and we quick stopped in Riverbook Bike and Ski! Tom dropped off a bike for Tim and we chatted it up with Steve, mostly jonesing on this years fat bike line up and getting all jacked up for winter riding (too soon i know!!). Owners Tim and Cindy really have an awesome shop in downtown Hayward. Basically it's an old library turned bad ass bike shop.

It's certainly one of the coolest shops I've ever been in, and you can tell their was a woman's touch with the cute dressing rooms and nicely decorated bathroom. Finally a bike shop bathroom that doesn't have chain grease all over it :) Anyways next time you're up in Hayward you should check it out!
We chowed down at the pre-race pasta dinner and finally made our way to the motel around 9:30 pm. I reiterate the best thing ever about mountain biking is the race didn't start 10:00 am so we got to ease our way into the chilly Saturday morning. Yes chilly....we woke up to 38 degree temps and I was freaking out and basically checking every 10 minutes to see if it was getting warmer...the worst thing ever would have been to have had to wear my arm warmers...arm warmers suck. Luckily it warmed up and we had a PERFECT day. The sun was shining and really I don't think you get much better race day weather than we got. 60 degree bliss!

I had earned a spot in the 2nd gate with some recent race results and turns out everyone was there at like 7 am to set down their bikes and stake claim to a good spot. I had only brought one bike and since I was already late to the party I chose to warm up longer and worry less about my start spot. First world problems. Finally the cannon went BOOM!! and we were off!! 

I felt great on the roll out and could instantly tell mounting up a set of Kenda Small Block 8's was a stellar choice. I patted myself on the back. I also felt noticeably better during  the first hour of the race than I had remembered feeling last year! My goal was to really push myself to stay with a group of men that was just slightly faster than me. I surely did this better than last year, but the biggest room in this house is the room for improvement and boy do I have some work to do before next year! oh, and did I mention there are a lot of hills at Chequamegon?! That's probably the biggest difference between Ore to Shore and this race. It was like a continuous annoying roller coaster. I thought I liked hills, but I guess maybe everything is good in moderation? As Larry at The Fix Studio likes to say "some days you're the hammer, some days you're the nail." When it came to the hills... I'm pretty sure I was the nail Saturday.

But I did catch a 2nd wind at the top of the Fire Tower (a super ridiculous climb). As I crested the top everyone was cheering and it looked like a really fun party...Hollywood Jay was at the top and he screamed "you're 9th female" and I heard a gal stoked for me yelling "you're top ten! you can get top ten!" It's amazing the impact encouragement can have during a race....I got a massive jolt of energy from that special moment (thank you Jay and everyone else up there!!). It was huge and I seriously felt like I had just started the race all over again. Top 10 was my main goal for this race and I was able to grab a fast Twin Six Metal wheel that carried me most of the final miles!! I think his name was Eric? I buried myself the last mile all the way to the finish line and was SO STOKED to be 9th Overall Female!!! This race attracts some amazing talent and I'm so incredibly fortunate to have stood up on the podium with all these amazing women!

I was also elated to hear that a fellow Foundry rider who is back racing after nearly a decade killed it and placed 8th overall for the men. Apparently this guy rides his bike 35 miles to and from work each day rain, snow or shine. Talk about tough as hell.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Superiorman Tri - Go Tom!

Holy Cow!  It's been awhile since I've posted an update.

The good thing about not blogging is it means you're out having fun, the bad thing about not blogging if once you finally get back to blogging you forget what you want to be blogging about.

We've been up to a lot as of late, not really much racing on my part, which is totally fine as I've enjoyed being a spectator and also finally getting some crap done around the house.  My cousin Emily also got married and since we grew up together I know she has been waiting for this day all her life.  Believe it or not I even shed a tear when she walked down the isle.  Wedding's get me every time!

My bro Jay took this photo, not bad eh?
The day after the wedding Tom raced the Superiorman Half Ironman with our friends Lisa, Jeff, Alex, Nick and Christina.  I was stoked Alex was racing as that meant I got to hang out with Carla during the race & their pups Sadie and Rocco!  Sadie was so excited about the race she just about broke through her new pink harness!  

Hard to tell from this photo, but it was crazy hot in Duluth and any time we were away from the bay it felt like a sauna.  I am amazed that everyone raced in these conditions and it was inspiring to see so many athletes just pushing through the pain and making their way to the finish!

Tommy rocking the bike!

Lisa running her way to a 5th overall, 2nd place age group finish!
Tom had an awesome race placing 11th overall and getting 2nd in his age group. I was so proud and loved sharing the finish with him! Most of our friends also podiumed at the race so that made the post race beer at The Canal Park Brewery taste damn good! 

Outside of racing, we've spent some time at the State Fair (hence the large cow) catching the Cat Film Fest. In my opinion last year's was 100 times better in the grass at Walker, however who doesn't love hanging out with a bunch of crazy cat people?! Meow!

Tom, Aaron, Katy
Our own kitties have enjoyed having us home more and have been spending a ton of time sleeping in their bunk bed!

Lastly, Tuesday Nite CX is in full swing which means It's CX Season!!!  I love CX, it feels like a big huge party to me. However, last week's Tuesday race was a brutal sufferfest in the heat and had me hating life.  Tonight's weather on the other hand was fantastic.  I decided after today's race that I am a cool weather racer!! So bring on the fall!