Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break - & so much to look forward to!

Spring Break!!!!
So as you can tell it’s been pretty quiet for once in  my race world.  I’m calling this somewhat of a spring break.  After pretty much over-racing & unraveling at the seams in the winter of 2014,  I decided to approach the next year of racing differently. This meant deciding which disciplines & races were going to be most important to me.  I decided to put all my focus on the Fat Bike Season and the Summer MTB season.  This meant taking a break from CX racing and also having a proper SPRING BREAK!
Ever since Fat Bike Birkie I’ve pretty much been just enjoying the warmer riding and getting back into a training groove (tempo, tempo, tempo).  I’ve been loving the Saturday “Dunn Early” long rides with TCBC and even more so loving the donut & latte that I refuse to deny myself mid ride!  Tom and I have also been literally counting down the days until a legit spring break in Cancun!! 
Anyone that knows me well knows that I love three things most in this world…. Bikes, Cats, and MEXICO!!   This trip will be a tad on the shorter side, but it will be just me and Tom and I’m really looking forward to that time with just the two of us – no bikes, no races, no distractions.  Just us. 
Mexico aside, there is plenty more to look forward to! This break from racing has given me some time to focus on some other things, like helping Penn Cycle with their summer initiative...Ride Like a Girl -- -an amazing effort to get MORE WOMEN ON BIKES!  If you haven’t joined the new Ride Like a Girl group on Facebook…ummm why not?  Check out the sweet new logo below – and rumor has it, there are even going to be t-shirts!  Everyone knows how much I love t-shirts.

I plan to help out with a string of Ride Like a Girl events this summer – the  first of which will be on April 21st at the Bloomington Penn Cycle from 6-8PM (don’t worry I’ll remind you).   Don’t miss this event which will focus on Bike/Women's Safety & Nutrition.  Of course there will be drinks & snacks....and you'll get to hear some testimonials & ask some questions to gals from the many disciplines of cycling (beginner, weekend warrior, racer, commuter, etc) I bet you can’t guess which one I’ll be representing :)
In other news….it’s almost new bike day!  I’m building up a new hardtail and I’m pretty stoked about it.  I’ll refrain from photos until the finished beauty that I envision– but I will say this for now….it’s silver, it’s durable, and it’s pretty rad.  Remember, this is the year of firsts.
Lastly – If you haven’t had your bike fit by Chris Balser (aka The Bicycle Fit Guru) – you're missing out & you’d better hurry up and get in the schedule!  Summer is coming, your mileage is increasing, you’re getting that new bike ready to ride.  Don’t forget to be nice to your body and to your watt output :)
Happy trails & Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Gravel. 200 dirty miles of Gravel.

So the truth is that I knew this moment would come.  Where fat bike season would end and then reality would sink in and I'd remember...oh sh*t!... I signed up for a 200 mile gravel race!!!

Photo Credit: Matt Leizinger

What do I even know about gravel?  Well, It's dusty, and it's deep, and when you crash it gets stuck in your skin.  Oh, and it reminds me of my friends cabin..and that one time when I got attacked by deer flies. Crap... I really hope there aren't deer flies in Kansas.

I heard that when you ride gravel in Kansas it can be really deep, and really sharp.  I also heard it can be really hot, and really windy. But it's also really beautiful. I heard that I might get lost. That it will likely test my body and mind more than I can imagine.  I heard that I will probably want to quit a millions times, but that in this process I will learn something new about myself!  

This is why I signed up. Yes, I'm nervous, but it feels awesome!!   I realized late last year that I missed this feeling.  That I missed training for an epic race. That I missed the high that comes after finishing a race of this magnitude. I missed the suspense. 

And so it begins.....  The gravel road to a Dirty Kanza Finish Line.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Fat Bike Birkie!!

As I type this post I realize that I am filled with so many different emotions around last weekend’s race, the Fat Bike Birkie!  It was an absolute blast and I’m still flying on cloud 9 about how much fun last weekend was and how fortunate we are to be able to share in this joy with such an amazing group of people. I’m also very happy about my performance on Saturday which yielded me a 2nd place result at the largest fat bike race in the world, with over 800 racers! 

Photo Credit: Kelly Randolph
I’m also super sad that fat bike season is over (for me) – and at the same time really freaking excited that the temp is above 50 degrees today, the snow is melting and the sun is beating down on my face.  Lastly, I’m feeling so grateful for all the support that I received this season from my family, friends, coach and sponsors. I am humbled by your support and I truly could not do any of this without all of you.  Your cheers and encouragement fuel my fire daily, especially on the hardest of training & racing days. When I’m on my fat bike, it’s true….I can’t stop smiling!!!!

Photo Credit: Todd Bauer
I’m also happy that I got to share this past weekend with my fav Lisa, who picked this race as her one fat bike race this year.  She also endured some sloppy technical trail and a couple yard sales in route to her victorious finish. I’m so proud of her along with all of the rest of the finishers, friends, race organizers, bike shops, brands, sponsors and fans that have helped build this Fat Bike community from the ground up.  I’ve so loved being a part of history with all of you.

Photo Credit: Fresh Sights Digital Media
Friday we managed to get out of town around 3:30 in an effort to beat the horrible Friday afternoon traffic.  Lisa drove which was nice for Tom to finally get a break from behind the wheel.  We rolled into Cable around 6:30pm and picked up our race numbers at Rivers Eatery (best Thai pizza eva!).   It was so much fun to see everyone and share nerdy fat bike talk around which tires? what tire pressure? And what will the warm weather do to the trail overnight?. In the end I decided on my favorite tires, the super-fast 45NRTH Dilinger4s and then slept well.
Saturday morning we took down some pre-race pancakes at the Norse Nook and then headed straight to Cable.  I was stoked that the sun was shining and I was FINALLY able to trade the clear shades for the fancy ones!!   My legs had felt like turds all week long so when I jumped on my bike and realized they felt amazing I knew it was going to be a good day!!!  
Photo Credit: Freewheel Bike
Soon enough we were lined up at the start and I was holding back my excitement about lining up in the front row 2 slots down from mountain bike legend Ned Overend (who is a classy as it gets).  And then we were off!!

Photo Credit: American Birkebeiner Foundation
I was pleased with my start taking advantage of all the fast drafting I could early on.  Then came the hills….and more hills…and more hills.  I remembered this from last year, so at least I was mentally prepared for this early brutality.  However, eventually I was no longer able to keep up the beast like pace that Jenna Rhinehart was setting.  I fell off her group and then assured myself through all my heavy panting that you’ll catch a second wind soon.  30 minutes later and still I could not seem to catch my breath….45 minutes passed….second wind…where in the hell are you!  Meanwhile I was in a tenacious fight for 2nd place with Amber Stull from Alaska.  She was climbing like a champ and I was pretty much holding on for dear life and yo-yo ing myself back in front of her on the descents.  I had remembered from last year that the 2nd half of the race was less hilly and a bit more technical.  We both managed to connect with a pretty strong group of dudes just before the turn around. 
Finally!I had caught my second wind and was ready to tear my way to the finish.   As we closed in on the final 15K of the race the course conditions turned soft and I managed to break away from Amber with 3 other dudes. At that point, my focus was to stay upright and avoid a mechanical!   Rolling in in 2nd place…I was stoked!! What a battle.  Huge congrats to Jenna on the win and Amber on the podium.  This race was tough! 

Photo Credit: American Birkebeiner Foundation
Afterwards they also presented the overall awards for the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series as this was the Grand Finale.  I was beyond elated to accomplish my goal of winning the series this year.  Tough competition amongst some really great friends.  I love this photo – because I love these ladies so much and it truly represents how much fun this season was.
Jenny Scott, Chelsea Strate, Me, Danielle Musto, Martha Flynn
Winning the series this year was a big goal for me and in doing so it required a tremendous amount of travel and an ability to train hard, recover, and race hard, weekend after weekend.  Huge thanks to 45NRTH for helping me make this travel possible and also a big thanks to my coach Matt with CTS – you set the stage to allow this to happen alongside a busy career that is also very important to me.  And of course…the biggest thanks of all to Tom.  His passion/our passion is what drives me to do this day in and day out.  We make a great team. 

Photo Credit: Todd Bauer
Another thanks to 45NRTH, LAZERBICYCLE FIT GURU and SARMA for your support this season.

Photo Credit: Todd Bauer
Lazer kept me safe and stylish, Sarma helped me lose weight and gain speed the easy way. The Bicycle Fit Guru continued to have patience for my ever evolving bike fit needs. And lastly 45NRTH you chose to support women’s cycling in a way I’ll never forget. Thank you greatly for creating Team 45NRTH and for setting us up with the warmest, fastest, and best looking gear there is.  But mostly…thank you Kurt, Scott, and David for showing up personally to support us race after race, and for simply sharing the joy of fat biking with us.  You are the best.

Vito says "Enough with fat biking already!"