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!"

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