Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Whiskey Off Road - An Amazing Weekend in Prescott

Rain Rain Go Away!  I swear it has been raining non-stop since we got back from Arizona!  Minneapolis is drenched and I am worried the trails here may never ever dry out!  I do have a few rest days on tap this week so I guess if I had to pick one week for it to rain...this would probably be it.

However, this rain is definitely not helping me get over my love affair with Prescott!!  I freaking love that little town, it’s trails, it’s super cute restaurants and of course it’s lovely people.  Everyone was so nice all weekend long, it absolutely felt like home and we can’t wait to go back next year!!
The Whiskey Off Road pro event features a Friday night fat tire crit which each pro racer is required to start.  It takes place on paved road and involves one of the most brutal double climbs I could ever imagine someone sane putting into a crit race.  Also, considering the lap was super short (around 2.5-3 minutes) this meant I would get to enjoy this brutal climb multiple times!  Since this was a required race there were a few racers that “took it easy” saving their energy for the main race on Sunday.  I suppose this makes some sense, however I had packed my bike onto a plane so that I could RACE it and there was no way I was going to miss out on two chances in one weekend! 

Luckily the majority of pros raced hard and it wasn’t too long into the race that I was already flung off the back of the front pack and dying to hold on. I could hear myself breathing ridiculous hard and my lungs afterwards were totally hashed. The crowds on the climb were incredible and it was so fun to be racing in that atmosphere!!  I managed to ride to an 18th place finish and what felt like a huge improvement from Bonelli.
Saturday we woke up to pouring rain and freezing cold temperatures. WTF?  I thought Arizona was warm, dry and sunny? Huge congrats to all the racers that bundled up, flared their nostrils and turned a crappy day into an amazing one.  A big shout out to MN local Hurl that battled the beast of a day and in the end road to the finish!   Since it was raining I did the most logical thing I could think of for a rainy day…I got a pedicure!!! 

Then when the rain finally dissappeared I took my bike out for a spin and to check out the beginning section of single track.  Everything was going smooth until the first downhill when I realized OH CRAP!  Something was seriously wrong with my front brake!  It was as if it had taken a nap after the crit and never woke up!  Huge thanks to High Gear Bike Shop for saving the day in the final hour!  They were so nice to help me out last minute and even served Tom and I free coffee  and conversation while we admired their super massive shop cat named Basso (after Ivan of course)! 

Finally it was Sunday and time for the main event!! I woke up and had my usual French toast and was feeling great at the start.
My Friday finish was solid enough to land me a call-up in the second row!  The crowd at the start was full of energy and I was beyond stoked for the day ahead.  The gun went off and  we slowly rolled our way safely out of the starting gate.  The initial pace was really quite controlled and comfortable as we worked our way up the initial 4 mile climb.  Also, It was EXTREMELY QUIET… as if no rider made a single sound for the first 10 minutes until someone finally laughed.  All I could hear was the rolling sound of our tires and fans on the side of the road cheering!  It was surreal and one of the coolest moments I can remember in my athletic career.  I tried to soak that moment in as much as possible and reflected on the fact that nothing is ever like the first time.

Okay enough of that…you are in a race!!  Finally the pace picked up towards the top of the climb and as we made our way on to dirt I fell off the main pace of the front group and really was generally not pleased with how I was feeling.  Thankfully once we hit single track I caught my breath a bit and started to flow passing a few girls as we worked our way up the first section of single track which included a ton of step ups and drop offs and then a really awesome loose descent.  Then soon enough we were making a left turn and descending down to Skull Valley – yeh half way!!  The descent was fast and fun!! However what goes down…must go up.  I grabbed a fresh bottle from Tom via a very sketchy exchange on our part that involved Tom flinging his sandals, dropping his IPhone and running after me with my EFS gel flask. Oops!  In the end I got what I needed :) and I began steadily working my way up the 11.5 mile climb.  The truth is that I felt really strong for about 45 minutes, but the last 30 minutes really sucked!!  Being from MN I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I’ve climbed for 1:15+ consecutively so it makes sense...but I am dying to have a rematch with this climb.  I so wish next year was next week!! 

The final 12 miles were mostly downhill single-track with some sweet rock gardens and then one hill that apparently had earned the coveted name “Cramp Hill.” During the race when I came up to this climb it pretty much went like this.  “Hmm, I wonder if this is that Cramp Hill they are (HAMSTRING CRAMP!!!!) talking about?”  With about 5 miles left in the race I was riding crash free and for the most part happy with how the race had been going when I rode up to Tom.  He was cheering loudly for me on the final section of single track and I think I got distracted when I was trying to get up a punchy 5 foot climb. At least that’s my excuse for pretty much toppling over on my bike and sliding down the embankment. It’s hard for me to be embarrassed in front of Tom, but I will admit…I was slightly embarrassed, ha!!  I hammered the final 4 miles of pavement down to town and was stoked to roll in 24th out of 34 pro women!!  
Huge thanks to Epic Rides for putting on what truly was an epic weekend.  There is nothing I love more than a well-run, well supported, race event. There was tons of energy and every small detail was top notch.  Keep doing what you are doing…it’s contagious.  See ya folks again in a faster 2015!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Whiskey Off Road Adventure

WOOT!!!!! We are foot down in Prescott, AZ and already chilling on our balcony at the local Best Western. This is my first time requesting something special in the comments section when making a reservation "A room with balcony would be super awesome!" Well here it is folks....

Your wish is my command!
So it's not the best view, but it's a balcony and it's outside, and it's warm, and it's not humid! We do have a pretty sweet view out the other side of the room and if you look closely you can see the "P" for Prescott!  Or for Pretty damn cool.

I could not be more excited and grateful to be here awaiting my first Whiskey Off Road adventure!  I have been dying to race Whiskey for the past few years and I finally found a way to put it together this year.  Fortunately I wont' have to wait too long to get this party started -- the Fat Tire Crit race is tomorrow night in downtown Prescott!  From what I have seen in videos and photos this is definitely a big highlight of the weekend. Tons of fans line the streets cyclocross style with cowbells and all that other jazz.  I've never raced a crit before, so thankfully this one is only a half hour. However...I do imagine it will be some of the most painful 30 minutes of my life.  It's go time!!!

Prescott is a pretty sweet town and has already exceeded my expectations placing itself in the cherished category of "I could live here."  The downtown area is historic and super cute!  Tom and I stopped for lunch today at a local European place and the gyros were super tasty!  Now it's time to put together that sexy Broadaxe of mine and get it as amped up as I am!!!

So happy to see my EVOC bag!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

31 Things I Have Learned in 31 Years

Today I am 31 years old and I can honestly say that I love life more today than ever before. Getting older is so underrated. As each year of my life passes I become more and more comfortable with my small place in this world. Each day I feel the increased power of experience and wisdom. It excites me to think of all that I will learn in the next 31 years. 

So in honor of aging and growth...these are 31 things that I have learned in 31 years:

1. A few great friends are better than a bunch of average friends
2. You don't HAVE to do anything
3. Every year you should do something that scares you
4. If you want seconds, you should have seconds
5. Money does not buy happiness
6. True happiness is the moment you stop carrying about what everyone else thinks
7. Pets are powerful

8. YOU make your own bed
9. If you don't like your can always build a new one
10. Someone is always watching... every day you have the chance to inspire
11. Scars are a beautiful symbol of survival
12. One bicycle has the potential to make a huge impact on the world

13. Sometimes all you need is pizza and beer
14. If you aren't happy with progress you will never be happy
15. Worrying about the future hinders your ability to Live Life Now
16. Seeing someone you love succeed is far more enjoyable than succeeding yourself
17. A little bit of dirt never hurt

18. Not much beats the joy of a passionate high five
19. Having your own style is more important than being stylish
20. A simple smile can change everything
21. In the end things always do work out
22. The car heater makes an awesome blow dryer
23. You are so much stronger than you will ever know

24. The friends that join you in your darkest moments, might not be ones you'd expect
25. You can solve all the worlds problems on a 10 mile run
26. Your home is not the 4 walls around you, it is the beauty that's inside
27. Your mom will always be your mom

28. It's good to get over things fast
29. There is nothing quite like a brand new pair of socks
30. If you want to hug someone...hug them

31. If you take a moment to look around, you will see that God is always there

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Training Lens

As mentioned in my last blog post I’m taking a planned break from the race scene and therefore, a forced break from the race blogging.  So instead, I’ve decided that now is a great time to answer some of the questions that I often get about my training. My plan is something that is always a work in progress and my coach and I are constantly dissecting it and tweaking it and really in the end these training plans eventually become quite a work of art.

How many hours per week do you have available to train?
When I first signed on with Matt and CTS in November 2012, I was asked in a questionnaire a simple question; "How many hours per week do you have available to train?" I remember thinking, wow, I actually have a say in this matter? My answer I believe at the time was 8-10 hours. Truthfully, I had a lot more time available than that as I had just recently put in 15-20 hour weeks training for an Ironman. However, I no longer wanted that lifestyle. I wanted balance. I made the decision that day to give cycling its “place” in my life. It felt incredibly empowering.

What does your training plan look like?
My plan is what I would like to label as "low volume, high intensity."   I surprisingly don’t possess the OCD gene…although at times I really wish I did.  As a result, I’m lucky to be working with a coach and an organization that that has compiled a significant amount of training data and research that proves that low volume, high intensity plans can work effectively, so long as they are applied appropriately.  

My personal plan differs from those plans in the above book, but similar methodology applies.
During the winter months I struggle with the trainer (I freaking hate it!). Therefore, I usually train only an average of 6-8 hours/week.  Since this is a very low volume training plan for someone seeking to be competitive in the pro mountain bike scene, nearly all of my workouts are incredibly intense.  I would say that about 75% of my winter workouts involve me on the trainer suffering my way through a set of VO2Max/lactate threshold/sub-lactate threshold intervals.  Sounds like fun, eh?  

When summer rolls around I feel invigorated and excited about being outside and therefore my volume usually picks up to around 8-12 hours/week depending on the A race that I am currently targeting.  The good thing is that when the volume picks up, the intensity goes down.  I do 95% of my rides outside, avoiding the trainer at all costs. Weeknights are lighter and weekends are heavier.  

How many days per week do you take off?
2 Days!!  I take nearly every Monday and Friday off from training.  Prior to working with CTS I was lucky to get 1 day off/week and at times I went 3 whole weeks without taking a single day off.  I remember pushing back initially, expressing that 2 days was too many days off.  Thank God it fell on deaf ears, because the positive impact these 2 days have had on my life is absolutely immeasurable. These free days allow me an opportunity to keep up with other aspects of my life that are important.  It gives me time run errands, keep things in order and meet up with friends for happy hour. These free days also provide me the flexibility to move workouts around when a last minute work dinner or other obligation pops up.  They allow me to keep balance.

Having been an endurance athlete for quite some time, I will be the first to tell you that this training plan will not work for everybody. What’s important about this plan is that it “works for me.” I’ve never really been a fan of secret training or “sandbagging” as we like to call it :) So there it is, all laid out for you.  This is what I’ve been up to for the past year and a half. 

Next week I plan to dive more into the heart rate vs. power meter questions as well as some tips on how to keep variety and focus your training.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Finding Balance

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." - Henry Ellis

When I first started this blog my hopes and dreams were that it would serve as a lens to the exciting life of a female mountain biker...that it would inspire more people to hop on a bike, to seek adventure, to take risks, and to always sleep with big dreams.  Mainly, I wanted this blog to be authentic... I wanted it to be real.

Okay..maybe not this real???
If you remember my post from this past January, this is the year where "Less is More."  In my first full year of cycling I made a lot of mistakes. I raced too much, trained too little, and I was always leaning right over the edge.  Over the past few months I've been thinking a lot about balance and being comfortable with "what works for me." 

Snickers definitely works.
Like most of you that read this blog, cycling is a hobby for me.  It's a huge passion of mine, but like you, I have many other passions such as my family, friends, and my career.  It's important to me that cycling has it's proper place, that it fits in my life. I often times get asked questions about my training.   How often do you train?  How many days a week do you take off? Do you ride the trainer? How do you stay focused on your workouts and dedicated to your training plan? Do you use a heart rate monitor? Do you use a power meter?

Since I'm in the midst of a 5 week break from racing (5 weeks are you crazy??) I'm going to take a forced break from the race blogs and share with you some things about my training plan and ways that I've been able to chase this goal of being a professional cyclist all while managing a family, social and career life!  There will be no secret training here (although some details will be vague to protect CTS training logic).  If you are interested...stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, something really awesome arrived in the mail last week!  My very own Compex Sport Elite!!!!  I am beyond excited to be an ambassador for Compex and I can't wait to share with all of you the huge impact this product is going to have on my 2014 season.

I have already been working this machine overtime and I have instant good news to share. This past weekend I put in 7 hours of riding over 2 days (that's a lot for me!) On Saturday night I used the Compex in Recovery Plus mode almost immediately after my ride.  I woke up Sunday feeling absolutely amazing and I actually felt better on Sunday's ride than I had on Saturday!!  Party on.

Post 4 hour Dirty Ride