Monday, January 28, 2013

Noque Fat Bike Race

Holy cow I am smashed!  I think I've eaten more junk food in the last 24 hours than I've eaten in the past 6 months. I even managed to scarf down a McDonald's double cheeseburger  on the way home (wtf???) Apparently racing in the snow is a lot harder than... well not racing in the snow!

This is all Lisa's fault...
Lisa and I arrived into Marquette around 4:30 on Friday. Actually it was 5:30 as we had completely forgot that Marquette was a different time zone!  We quickly unpacked the car and made our way over to the Expo to check in for the race and to see my cute man!  I got a super cute hat for racing the 50K and Lisa totally got the shaft as no hats for the 24K.  I felt bad for her...but not bad enough to give her this sweet hat though!!!! 


Afterwards we had dinner at my favorite Marquette restaurant, L'Attitude for a pre-race feast. They even had Hop Slam on tap...one of Lisa's favorite brews!
NOT a good starting spot...no wonder no one else is by me!

Saturdays 50K Fat Bike World Championships was surely epic. And well I can't really compare this race to anything else that I've done.  About 30 minutes into the chaos I was wondering Why in the hell am I doing this again?  I had a horrible start, which I totally deserved since I arrived in typical April is super late peeling into the parking lot with 15 minutes til start fashion.  You see actually I'm so used to this that it doesn't even fluster me and in all realty I'm rather relaxed when this happens and I like not having to think about the race right beforehand.  BUT...in this instance pre-riding, warming up and figuring out a good place to line up at the start would have been a great idea so that I didn't end up doing this right from the gun!


Hey...that's Robert Pretts from MPLS right next to me!
I did manage to suffer my way up to one of the front groups and was fairly happy with my spot but then all hell broke loose and suddenly we were hiking up massive snowy hill after snowy hill and I felt like i was in some kind of crazy ass adventure race of sorts. I crashed so many times I seriously lost count. 90% of these crashes involved me riding down a hill super fast thinking I am so awesome, I am such a bad ass and then all the sudden  I'd catch my front tire on a snowy rut and then squiggle, squiggle, ahhhh, boom!!!  And these weren't the kind of crashes you probably are imagining... these were full out superman style yard sales.  In fact at one point I was descending this powdery steep downhill onto one of the lake crossings when the guy in front of me hit the powder at the bottom and totally wiped out....I hit the brakes as hard as I could and there was nothing I could do but t-bone the hell out of his bike, abort, and fall right on top of him!! Ice Cream Sandwich!!!

At about the 24K point of the race things improved dramatically and the trail was much more rideable. I rode as hard as I could and the volunteers cheering at the aid stations were so much fun!! Finally after navigating my way through a bunch of skiers and snow shoe racers the dome was in sight!  I had done it, I had finished!!!  Man that was hard....I was trashed!!! This is some ridiculous post race buzz smile or somethin like that...


KBC Pick Axe Blonde Ale has never tasted so good!  I was 2nd female and very pleased with my effort. I even got a pretty kick ass Cowbell!  You can never have too much cowbell.    We celebrated afterwards in Cajun style with some of the QBP/Salsa folks as well as Evan from the Sports Rack!

Photo by Scott Chambers

Sunday was the 24K Fat Bike race and I figured that since I was up there and there was actually some nice snow I might as well race! When in Rome... This was also to be Lisa's first fat bike race!!  I was ecstatic for her to lose her snow bike race virginity.  The start was pretty much at the half way point of Saturday's race which meant the course was almost entirely downhill. They had also freshly groomed the course the night before and the riding conditions were perfect! I had an awesome start and grabbed on to the lead pack right away.  I could tell my legs were a tad tired from the previous days shenanigans however for some reason they just wanted to rip!  I felt super strong and was able to easily bridge any gaps that formed throughout the race.  I rode with the top 6 people for most of the race until the lead group started to break apart.  At one point I had to put my foot down to avoid crashing and I lost my draft.  This meant a LOT of suffering for the last 5K of the race.  I entered a serious snow bike pain cave in an effort to keep them in sight!  I was beyond stoked when I crossed the finished line...1st female and 4th Overall!!!  Sitting on your bike post race feels amazing!!! 

Lisa crossed the line soon after and a ton of fun!  She passed this older lady in the last mile of the race and at the finish you could tell that lady was crabby...way to go Lisa!!!  We mowed down some post race donut holes and coffee and picked up another couple cowbells.  Like I said...you can never have too much cowbell!!!


It took us forever to get out of town as Tom made like three stops to pick up his favorite UP beer.  Of course a stop at Blackrocks  was a must for a couple growlers!!  I can't wait til we get to go back to Marquette for Ore to Shore!!! This was waaaayyyyyy too much fun!



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lonely Ginger

Where's Tom???
Well its sure been a lonely and quiet week around here with just me and the cats.  Tom's "working" in Michigan all week visiting bike shops and giving fat bike demos.  Sure sounds ruff.  Work for me this week involved driving to horribly cold (and boring) places in Iowa and freezing my ass off touring plants.  How's that for comparison? Pretty sure my work trips are way cooler.

Cheers to the freaken weekend though cuz tomorrow I'm on vacation!! Lisa and I fully intend to chatty-kathy it up all the way to Northern Michigan for the Noque!!! In fact I've been avoiding the urge to text/email her all week long so I can assure we'll have at least 12 hours worth of chatting to jam into our 7 hour drive.  There is also likely to be some Coldplay mixed in there...and unfortunately probably Subway too. 

BUT I am looking forward to a lot of this:

 
AND a lot of this!!!


See Tom's already been rubbing it in by sending me photos of my favorite UP brewed beer!! Of course he's doing this while he's "working."

The NOQUE 50K race on Saturday is a part of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series which is this awesome new series that involves 6 races throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  I plan to also do the Frozen 40 and the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout.  Bring on the pain!  Sunday I imagine I'll be slightly dehydrated/carbo loaded from all the Pick Axe I'll be consuming Sat night!.  I figure if I'm up there I might as well race both days eh?!  Besides I would never miss out on Lisa's first off road tour!

Sunday also is my parents 35th Wedding Anniversary!  That's a lot of years!  I'm super blessed to have super great parents.  This photo is so them! 



“We don't laugh because we're happy -- we're happy because we laugh.” - William James

Its still crazy cold here and at least twice a day I remind myself that I need to move somewhere warmer asap.  Of course I'll forget about that come spring.  So for now I am just sitting here drinking another glass of hot tea, staring at my trainer wishing it would ride itself.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Runaway Ralph..it's friggin cold!

Only in Minnesota do you wake up in the morning and say "wow it's nice outside" and then realize when you get in your car that is only 32 degrees out!   And...only in Minnesota does the temperature drop by 35 degrees in one day.  So it goes... I've secretly been counting down the days until Bonelli when we can escape this frozen tundra.

Speaking of cold....it's has been snowing up a storm in Marquette, MI the past couple of days which means the Noquemanon World Championship Snow Bike race next weekend should be a total blast!  Tom's heading to Michigan early this week for work and Lisa and I are pumped for our Friday road trip!  I am racing both the 50K on Saturday and the 25K on Sunday.  Sunday's 25K will be Lisa's first ever fat bike race and I'm super stoked for her!!!  I also can't wait to hit up the Blackrocks Brewery Saturday night! 

Now that CX Season is over its time to gear up for mountain bike season. Which means...let the bike building begin!!!! Here is a sneak peak at this years racing steed...yes the red spokes were a must!

 
 
Of course I couldn't resist building up my wheels with some Schwalbe Racing Ralphs!!  I love these tires!  In fact does everybody remember Runaway Ralph from when they were a child? I must have rented that video from the library 15 times!  This is exactly what it feels like when I'm on my mountain bike sans Racing Ralphs!

 
Also, today I finally got around to uploading some files onto STRAVA!  Yes folks, I have officially enter the world of virtual competition...which means apparently now I can race all week long! Time to go after some QOMs...and maybe even some KOMs for that matter. Watch out boys!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

CX Nats Day 2

Let's start by saying that finally! for the first time I FINISHED both CX races this weekend! That in and of itself was a huge accomplishment for me.  No, this didn't mean that I didn't crash and/or break any bikes, I was just fortunate enough to have a bike in the pit this time around!

Sunday's temp was a frigid 16 degrees.  I made a lame attempt to keep my toes warm with duck tape.  Yeah, that pretty much lasted through warm up!  The warm up tent  they had set up with trainers was awesome...however I was still freezing my rear off.


The Elite Women's race had 72 starters and I'm pretty sure I had about the 65th call up! My main goal for this race was stay on my bike, race hard and hopefully not get pulled before the final lap!  I had a great start and seemed to be passing people immediately.  I felt way better on the course vs Friday.  The course was pretty much a frozen bumpy rutted up mess!  It actually very much suited the the mountain biker as choosing the best line was extremely important.  At times it even felt a bit like single track as you had to really pick your spots to pass. 

I made it through the first 2 laps without crashing (crazy I know).  I had to switch bikes in the pit twice during the short race as so much mud was flying up and freezing onto the bike  making it impossible to ride (thanks Tom for cleaning my dirty bike -- muah!) .  Those without pit bikes were pretty much screwed. Unfortunately I did crash once on the 3rd lap and ended up getting pulled right before the last lap.   However I knew I had raced well and was overall pleased.  When the results were posted I figured I was about 50th or so....when I saw 32nd place I was beyond elated!  This result far exceeded my goals for this race and I couldn't be happier!!  I will admit that Friday's lackluster race had me questioning if some of my 2013 goals were unrealistic. Ending my first cyclocross season on this note feels incredible. 

On the pit bike!

Huge thanks to the guys at Foundry Cycles as they were kind enough let me use their Auger bike for both State and Nats.  And, they even let me train on it in between!  I absolutely love this bike!  It's super responsive and it handles the corners like a serious badass!.  A special shout out to Chris (Bicycle Fit Guru) who has more than a normal amount of patience for my bike fit drama.  He had this Auger set up perfectly and I felt so awesome on it!  Also thanks to Larry, Lev and Sophie at The Fix Studio.  Their power based classes smash the sh*t out of me each week.  Lastly, a big thanks to my new coach Matt whose attention to detail totally rocks.  We've made huge strides  in only 2.5 months of working together.  I'm am so pumped to chase all our mtb goals this summer. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

CX Nationals Day 1...playin' in the mud!

On the drive down to Mad Town it was pouring buckets...and I was beyond stoked for the mudfest that it appeared God was workin' up for my first CX Nationals! Needless to say...it was EPIC!


I woke up early Friday to make sure I had a chance to get in a proper pre-ride. Verona was like a big huge FogFest and the course conditions were insane!!  It was like a huge giant ice cream sundae!!  There was mud everywhere and some icy sections where it was seriously hard to tell that it was icy...awesome. There was this one steep hill was so icy that I fell on my face just trying to walk my bike up it!   I kept myself fairly clean on the first lap, but then all hell broke loose on the second lap and I fell right on my ass down a giant mud slide!   My pony tail even looked like dreads (so that's how they do it!!)  

I was glad to have pre-ridden the course, but I'll be honest I was nervous to race...mostly because I was concerned about the course conditions totally kicking my ass.  Having read the book "The Secret" and totally believing in the law of attraction I knew this was not good....

Yesterday's race was the 30-34 Female race.  Since I turn 30 this year (yikes) I aged up.  Crap! What the heck happened?  It's like I woke up yesterday and I'm no longer a young pup!  So my start was not pretty (probably cuz I'm older now)... but still manageable...however as we were entering the first grassy/muddy section for some reason I couldn't get my bike to shift into the small ring and then of course like a goon I was looking down at the crankset thinking shift you bitch and then BAM!!  I hit some ice and gave the starting crowd a nice sloppy show! Well at least I got that outta the way I thought and picked up my bike which ironically was now in the small ring and quickly realized something was not right with my rear derailleur (again!!).  I swear no one should ever allow me within 5 feet of anything expensive! 


I managed to bend back the derailleur enough a couple times to make it over to the pit to grab my pit bike which ended up saving my race.  I was able to pass 4 gals throughout the last couple of laps and despite my 2 or 3 other gnarly muddy wipe outs I had a total blast.  The crowd was amazing, cheering super loud, banging cowbells and they were stoked with how covered in mud I already was on the first lap!!!  This is why I love cyclocross.  Sure I was bummed because I'm competitive and this wasn't the race I imagined, but how can you not smile when you are covered in mud??!!.  I am a one lucky girl that I get to do this on the weekends and besides, getting this dirty sure as hell makes me feel like a young pup!

Pretty sure after this weekend the AmericInn definitely lost money on the $40/night rate!!!  We left the housekeeper a lovely tip in the hopes that she'll keep our little secret :)


Tom is a rockstar for making this trip with me right on the back of a long week traveling out east visiting some of his dealers. Love him!!!   He captured the moments of the day yesterday and also snapped this one last week of George Hincatty the shop cat at one of his dealers, Bicycle Revolution.  Another Ginja!!! Kinda looks like Chubbs.


Tomorrow is the Elite Women's race....my goal is to not get lapped!  It's supposed to get real cold tonight so I'm guessing yesterday's mudfest will be tomorrow's icefest!  I should probably go get some knee pads.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Frosty Frolic & Cold Bear Challenge

Tom, Lisa, Jeff, Eric and Christina (not pictured) all ripped it up Saturday morning at the Annual Frosty Frolic 5k.  This race holds my 5K unofficial PR, however this year I figured since I hadn't run in 2 months  it was probably best to sit er out!  You see I left my running legs on the beach in Panama City.  Hopefully they will be a little tanner the next time 'round.


I spent most of the morning checking to make sure the coffee was still warm.  I did get out and bare the elements though to snap this photo of Tommy killing it! 


Afterwards Jeff was a fab host providing more coffee, treats and the worlds best egg bake (that says a lot coming from a girl that thinks scrambled eggs are straight up nasty!   

Afterwards Tom was a trooper and joined me for an easy ride on the cx bike out on the lakes.  He paved a nice trail for me with his Moonlander. I figured since Madison had 16 inches of snow a few weeks back I had better make sure I could actually ride the cx bike in snow.  Mission accomplished!  Which means now I am stoked to race!  Only 5 more days!


Sunday marked the date of my first fat bike race and wow it was hard!!! and Crazy fun. Cold Bear Challenge had awesome turn out for the race and in fact didn't even plow out enough parking space!!  I however need a lesson on tire pressure apparently as I probably ran up half the hills since I kept spinning out! And man...there were a lot of hills!  The Cold Bear challenge was a blast though and I can't wait to try and better my time in a couple weeks!  The post race bonfire was the bomb!


Now its back to work and counting down the hours.  Tom's traveling out east somewhere and I'm picking him up Thursday afternoon at the airport en route to Madison.  Btw...this marks the start of our extensive ghetto hotel tour (or more so my mission to find the cheapest, reasonable enough hotels out there) and I must say I scored big time on this one!  We pricelined a Madison West 2.5 star hotel for $40 per night!  We got lucky too with the Americinn Madison West.  For $20/person we get a nice enough bed to sleep in, a continental breakfast and free happy hour drinks and snacks in the evenings. Seriously?  We actually "pick" this place when we go to watch Ironman Madison.  Life is good!

Meanwhile...los gatos have been getting after it!!  I think Chubbs won this one.


Friday, January 4, 2013

This Bike has Changed My Life


Dramatic I know...but seriously it has!!!!!  I swear the last 6 winters (including this one) have been extremely painful...in a riding your bike too much on the trainer kind of way. I was spending most Saturday's and Sunday's either boxed in at the PIT or in my lame living room watching some not so great movies on the trainer.... Those winters were REALLY long. 

But now I have an awesome fat bike and a Salsa Beargrease none the less. I've named him The Greaser..Tom keeps telling me this is another word for turd...whatever. For real though, I can't begin to describe how much this has impacted my life.   I no longer have have to ride the trainer on the weekends, which means more vitamin D and a much happier me. Now if I could just get God to work on that whole sun going down at 4:30 PM nonsense.
 

The best thing about the The Greaser is that it doesn't matter how cold or how crappy it is outside...I can still go out and ride!  I finally can confirm that the old and often times annoying saying "there is no such thing as too cold, just the wrong clothing" is actually true!  I've ridden in temps as low as 9 degrees so far and sometimes I'm actually so bundled up  in awesome gear that I'm sweating my ass off! 

Here is my fab five for winter gear
  1. Pearl Izumi lobster gloves (seriously...where have you been all my life?)
  2. 45North Wolvhammer boots
  3. Craft storm tights
  4. 45North balaclava
  5. Sugoi winter riding jacket
That's it!   Just those 5 items combined with the usual stuff an average cyclist would already own and your set...you can ride in any type of weather.

Or...you can even race.

Which is what I'm gonna do, this Sunday at the Cold Bear Challenge at HillSide Park!  I seriously can't wait.  I've been spending tons of time at Elm Creek park as of late ripping up the single track and can't wait to see what its like to race in the snow!  Besides...enough training already. 

Next weekend is CX Natz in Madison, WI.  I'll admit its been hard to keep focus on this race since State was month ago (plus my fun fat toy is distracting).  But I am stoked to race and I've been praying real hard that it snows cuz that would be super epic!