Saturday, November 23, 2013

Jingle Cross DID NOT Rock - Take 2

Okay, to be fair Jingle Cross DID rock for most people...

Photo Credit: Kevin McRee -
It just didn't rock for me.  Since it's been a week I figure it's about time I stop licking my wounds and get this blog post over and done with.  Don't get too excited though, because if you're hoping for an Oprah special, you'll be seriously disappointed.

Photo Credit: Yet another bike photo
 To make a long story short, a multitude of chaos happened last weekend, but really it all boiled down to these 3 things:

1. My tires were UCI illegal - This literally "let the air out" of Friday Night. Day 1 = DNF Sure,  I should have known, but it's my first year so I get a pass.

2. I crashed on Day 2 = DNF -  broken derailleur hanger, and the bull struck again (I thought I kicked that?)

3. I'm tired from all the travel, mechanical and racing stress of this past year. Day 3 = DNS

In all honesty, I was pretty bummed out earlier this week. Some of my bummed outtedness was warranted, and some of it was not.  Monday Tom sent this photo to me via email with a sad face next to it.

Photo Credit: Dave McElwaine - Cycling News
At first the photo nearly made me cry.  Really? My very first Cycling News photo...and this is the moment they capture?

But then I remembered how incredibly hard I had worked for this photo.  For this moment, to have been able to line up at the start of a UCI Elite CX race and to actually feel as though I belonged.  I've learned over the years that things usually don't go as planned. Sometimes it's for the better, and sometimes it's for the worse.  But in the end, last weekend was a part of my journey as a cyclist and this moment that Cycling News happened to capture will undoubtedly impact the many years ahead.  I'm guessing it will be for the better :)

Outside of the chaos that was last weekend there really were a lot of positive  moments.

Friday Night Foundry tent, under the lights - so incredibly stoked!

Day 2 Race Start
Photo Credit: Dave McElwaine - Cycling News
Good start = Good company
seconds before I went bull in a china shop
Lastly, I cannot begin to express my gratitude towards the Mpls CX community. So let's call this an early Thanksgiving!!  It still humbles me the # of people that went out of  their way to offer me their spare sets of tires and wheels and even their bikes.

Matt from Foundry got his hands dirty Friday night to help me mount up a new set of tubeless tires when really he could have been having fun drinking beer and watching the men's elite race. Thank you so much! Huge thanks Aaron for borrowing a set of spare tires and a massive thanks to Jay and Kristy from Hollywood Cycles.  Kristy wasn't able to race as she hurt her back, yet they didn't even flinch at the chance to offer me the tires off her spare wheels...Jay even took them off moments before his race start, this was a gesture I'll never forget. Thank you Bush for wrenching on my bike Saturday, you are the best, and really just chatting with you helped cheer me up.  Thank you to my coach Matt for listening to my ventathon...and thank you Tom for everything...I know he would have given me the skin off his back if I could have used it as tires :) 

Lastly.. thanks to all the rest of you for your hugs and kind words and for just stopping by to see if you could help.  It meant the world to me.  I am lucky to live and race in such a fine community.

And I am lucky that I will live to race another day. 

But first....I will be heading to Mexico to watch my husband chase his Ironman Cozumel dream.  Trust me, life is good.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mill City CX and other things..

Before we talk about anything else…check out my cute man getting FAT air at Iceman!  

Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

Generally I would be too thrifty cheap to throw down on a race day photo from Glamour Shots, but when your hubby goes monster truck rally on the flyover at Iceman, you spend the money! 
Last week I was suffering from a major Iceman hangover, but fortunately I had a few things to keep me distracted.  It’s November… which mean I am officially back training one night/week at The Fix Studio!  Winters in MN can be really long…so long that I’m not sure what I’d do if I couldn’t happily walk into this door at least once a week!
Larry, Sophie, Lev (and their new mechanic Eric) all rock and really when it comes to power training nothing tops “The Fix. Wednesday marked the start of the Nov-Dec session which meant…I had to do a field test, ugh.  I hate power tests, cuz basically it’s an all out major sufferfest with really no one to chase except your own pain.
Then Thursday night this happened!!
My buddy Isaac did one of the most generous things ever and came over to our place to teach us how to mount tubeless tires!  Being a newbie to this off-road stuff we haven’t really learned how to master this technique, so having Isaac show us meant the world to me!  Tires make me go apeshit!  Seriously I’ve spent so much time over the past year stressing out about my tires it’s not even funny. Even ask Matty Leiz about my tire drama, I’m pretty sure he won’t even talk to me about tires anymore. 

Photo Credit: All City X/Fulton Racing
Finally Sunday rolled around and it was time to race again and test out my tires!  Mill City CX almost froze off my toes last year with its creek crossings, so needless to say I was ecstatic when I realized that the creek was dried up this year!  The course was still pretty sweet with a few hills and a run-up. 
The skirted rock star Kristy picked a much better start spot than most of us and then shot out like a cannon taking the hole shot. I was able to pass through the first sand section to gain the lead.  The rest of the race was spent mostly trading places with Corey and at times it almost felt as though we were in the midst of a heated battle of 1 on 1 hoops, only I was breathing much harder.  It was one hell of a race and I was really enjoying the battle…well until the 2nd to last lap when things really started to fall apart for me and really I had nothing left in my legs.  Corey was able to create a gap on a climb and I really never recovered.  In the end, I think it was a great race for both of us.  
I have been spending most of this week recovering and getting my legs prepped and ready to rock Jingle Cross.  In fact as I type this my legs are sausaged up in compression sleeves, and I’ve also spent a serious amount of time this week like this:
This photo cracks me up because Vito follows me everywhere. I guess he is a bit more of a crazy cat like me.  Chubbs on the other hand, she is much more of a chiller, like Tom.  Vito and I could both use little more chill.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wolf Tooth Chainring - It's Grrreat!

My brand new Wolf Tooth chainring is easily one of my favorite things about my new Foundry Harrow set up.  It’s the last piece of the puzzle and I’ve finally been able to ride it enough to be able to tell you folks how truly awesome it is!

Last summer I splurged and went XX1 on mFoundry Broadaxe mtb set-up.  It was one of those “go hard or go home” type of situations.  Needless to say it was (and still is) amazing!  Being able to take a couple mechanical risks out of the equation not only made cycling finally seem simpler to me, but it just took away a lot of unnecessary frustration. One less derailleur to worry about, no more dropped chains, and no more “oh shit, big hill and I’m in the wrong ring up front” chaos.
I started out this cross season really wanting to have a set-up that would mimic this. Huge thanks to Wolf Tooth Components for helping me make this possible!
Wolf Tooth’s “Drop Stop” chainring with it’s narrow/wide tooth configuration allows you to essentially make yourself an XX1 like set up without the need to drop a $$ bomb switching out your entire drive chain.  I threw this chainring on a FSA crank I already owned, and then combined it with a 11-36 cassette and SRAM Type 2 derailleur in the rear.  
Lone behold, peace and order have been restored in the world!!! 

I don’t need to tell you how clean that looks, it’s pretty blunt and staring you in the face.  I’ve been racing this set-up for just over a month now.  Admittedly I had some initial concerns about the security of the chain up front. No need to worry any longer!  I’ve raced this set up on a SUPER muddy day at Green Acres and also on a SUPER bumpy day at Red Barn. No dropped chain! It is amazing and I can’t imaging racing any other set up ever again!  Of course the 11-36 takes some getting used to with its larger moves between each chainring, much like the XX1 set-up.  However cx racing just became simpler AND with this switch my Harrow lost nearly a ½ pound that I no longer have to lug up stairs and over barriers!  HOOOOOWWWL! grr...

Wolf Tooth Components is a Minneapolis based company, which of course makes them that much cooler. They are definitely on to something huge and I’m pretty sure we will all start to see these chainrings popping up more and more all over the world.  Right now I can assure you that you’ll also see me saving some $$ and weight this fat bike season by throwing one of these on my snow beast. Party on! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Iceman Cometh - Best race ever!

My first Iceman race is officially in the books!  We sure had one heck of a weekend and I already miss blue waters of Traverse City!  That city is easily one of the most beautiful places in America.  I can't wait to go back some time in the summer when the resort town is in full steam. 

Tom and I left Thursday afternoon with a goal to make it 7 hours north for our evening stop in Manistique, MI. It rained pretty much the entire drive - ugh!  We arrived to our motel around 11 pm Michigan time.  Since it was so late in the evening the owners said "we'll just leave the keys in the room and settle up in the morning."  This is why I love the UP.  So much trust and life is just simpler.  Our motel room was super cute and everything that we needed.  I am quickly becoming obsessed with motels. How is walking 5 steps from your car to the door of your hotel not the coolest, most convenient thing in the entire world?  Motels are so underrated. 

Free Internet?? Yes please!

Friday morning I went for coffee and bagels at the local supermarket and Tom went for a 45 minute run and then were on our way, crossing over the Mackinaw Bridge (ahhh!)

and finally arriving at Einstein Cycles in Traverse City!  EC is easily one of the best shops in all of Michigan and owners Jason and Kristie basically "built this city" from the ground up starting the shop in their own garage!

Photo Credit: Cody Sovis
Tom and Jason have gotten pretty close over the past couple years and we were so fortunate to be able to stay at their lovely home over the weekend.  Huge thanks to both Jason and Kristie for all their hospitality. It was so great to know them both as well as their cute lil kiddos. We felt so welcome and spoiled all weekend long.

Friday was spent mostly at the Expo visiting the Foundry and Einstein tents and filling our tummies at North Peak Brewery.  Saturday came quickly and after being treated to French toast and bacon we headed up to the start.  Tom was racing at 10:20 in the Fat Bike class and Jason and I weren't racing until 2:30 PM in the Pro/Cat 1 class.  This is such a neat part about Iceman.  Basically 5000 racers go off in waves all morning long and then the finish line is one big huge party as all the riders await the finish for the men's and women's pro races! 

Pretty soon Tom, Danielle, Evan and the other Jason from Einstein were off!! Jason and I headed back home and were able to watch the live feed.  Unfortunately we had to leave before I could see Tom cross the finish!  He broke his chain and was lucky to have some help from a couple locals and this allowed him to still finish the race in 17th place and still a pretty awesome time of 2:30.  He had a blast and is officially obsessed with the new carbon Salsa Beargrease...ut oh. 

2:30 PM seemed to roll around pretty quickly and I was feeling great after a pretty good warm up. This was the first time that I had started in a "Pro wave" per say and admittedly I was a bit star struck lining up some of the sports greatest riders in Catherine Pendrel, Emily Batty, Amanda Sin and Chloe Woodruff.  I had a decent spot in the 2nd row and expected the roll out to be a total smashfest.  I was actually surprised at how reserved the start of the race was. I found myself in a pretty good spot early on sitting maybe 6th or 7th wheel until someone crashed in a sand pit and broke apart the pack.  I managed to stay upright, but for the life of me wasn't able to bridge the gap.  I spent a large portion of early part of the racing riding alone until finally I was amidst a chase group with a few other strong riders.  One of the riders was the super nice Tricia from Chicago that I had met at Subaru Cup last July.  She is about as new to cycling as me and boy is she strong.  We worked together for most of the race and were even able to reel in about 3 people in the last 45 minutes of the race.  It was awesome and such a blast to ride with her. 

Photo Credit: Eric Fredrickson

However, in the end this is a race and we both knew it was going to eventually be a blood bath to the brutal end. I went for an attack with about 5K to go and looking back perhaps it was too soon as I couldn't' shake Tricia for the life of me. During the last 10 minutes of the race we had one of the most epic battles I've ever been a part of in my young cycling career. And what made this even more awesome was the last 1.5 miles were packed with spectators screaming and cheering for us! The roar of the crowd felt like the tour!  I actually had the lead heading over the flyover towards finish line however when I got out of saddle to sprint it was obvious I had burned every little match I had.  She got me by a wheel length!!  But I was still elated and so stoked and excited about being able to battle like that to the very end!  I was also happy for Tricia who had one hell of a race after battling some injury stuff. We both were stoked to be in the top 10 and also shocked that we managed to not vomit all over the place. 

Afterwards it was so fun to be greeted by everyone! To learn that Tom had a blast despite the chain breakage, Jason and Nate both had a great pro races, Evan and Jason W were 4th and 6th in the Fat Bike class, my Foundry teammate Mackenzie got 3rd place overall, and my Michigan bff Danielle won the Fat bike race! What a day!  So fun to celebrate afterwards and get to know some other local Traverse City gals Chelsea and Stacy! Beer never tasted so good!