Saturday, January 31, 2015

SAVE THE RACES!!!

Cheers to the freakin weekend!!  (Okay, so I know that's so 2 years ago, or wait maybe 3 years ago...but whatever,I still like it!)

This weekend seemed to absolutely not come soon enough. Sometimes I feel like I'm planning so many races and vacations that it feels like I'm just wishing my life away.  Kind of scary -- but I love that I always have things to look forward to. Deep thoughts.

So, here is today's early morning photo of "Van Life" which is EN ROUTE TO MINNEAPOLIS!!! Eek! We are so excited to be hosting Marquette's finest Evan & Bryan this weekend along with Michiganite Steve & Dakotan Sean. It's gonna be tight at our campsite, but judging by the passenger in the back seat...I'm guessing it's gonna be a fun weekend!

 
I'm really stoked that the series is now moving to Minnesota and I don't have to spend ions of time in the car.  However, I wish some gosh darn SNOW would fall, because this lack of snow seems to be wrecking havoc on my fat bike season.   I'll admit when these warmer temps arrived I was having my own little private dance party, cuz let's face it, who really likes to be cold?  But, turns out you need some cold to keep the snow -- so now I'm feeling guilty. 

This winter really makes me appreciate all the work and stress that race promoters go through in order for put on a fun and safe event.  Big thanks to Paul Krawczyk, Penn Cycle and the rest of the City of Lakes Loppet team for saving the Fat Tire Loppet this year.  I know many folks (including myself) are bummed to not be able to ride the point to point race we had last year.  However I do know that we are going to ride 3 laps of a pretty awesome 5 mile loop (that was probably my favorite part of last years race anyways)!  Plus we get to have folks cheering for us for a few laps and we don't' have to worry about going back to pick up our cars. Plenty of positives!!  This weekend is going to be awesome!

Next weeks event, Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout is in a probably worse predicament because ironically up north Crosby has had even less snow than Mpls and the course right now looks like this.....

Photo Credit: http://cuyunalakeswhiteout.com/
Boo!. Huge props to race director, Aaron Hautala who is doing everything he can to safely "Save the Whiteout!" This has to be so stressful. I'm not sure there was ever was person or race promoter more dedicated to the rider experience than this man! He is always lobbying to expand the Cuyuna trail system and even better -- he does so in his 45NRTH lucky socks!  Sorry Aaron, I love this photo so much that I had to steal it!  


Speaking of politics...The Whiteout even sent a survey out to all the racers so that they could "vote" on their favorite "Save the Whiteout" option.  I remember thinking..."whoa, this is so democratic."  So of course I voted -- and then I lobbied for others join my side!  Rumor has it that they won't cancel the race....and guess what...often times rumors are true!! Who would ever vote to cancel a fat bike race anyway?  bah!

Okay so please race the Loppet and please race the Whiteout because we all love fat biking and we all love the people that work so hard to make our dreams come true!  See you at the races!!!

That's enough blabbing for one day....besides, I'm late for outlet shopping with my mom, who is my favorite lady in this entire world !!  Cross your fingers for some good sales!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Catfish Cup & Postcard Selection

This is the first week in a really long time that I've actually felt as though my life was in balance.  The biggest travel period of winter is behind me and I've managed to dig my way out of my big work pile. Wow, it feels damn good! I managed to watch a couple chick flicks this week and even baked chicken in the oven last night...and that's happened only like never before.

It was so nice to wake up in my own bed Sunday morning & have pre-race breakfast at Hoagies in Hopkins. Cold Catfish Cup was such a fun event and I already can't wait until next year!  I was super happy to hear that we were going to be able to race the full lap length, which included the lake loop power section.  I had a rusty start getting hung up in some handlebars and then just about killed myself in the first 10 minutes of the race in the hopes of securing a great spot and staying with a fast group through the single track.  

My main goal for the race was to flat out just ride as hard as I possibly could and luckily I had made the decision to switch to the 45NRTH Vanhelga's for this race. I can't even begin to express how awesome these tires are...honestly I'm usually prone to ride a tire with too little tread, but this tire rolls real fast! I think it's safe to say I've never felt more confident on a tire...just grip and rip!

 Big thanks to Angry Catfish, City of Woodbury, MORC, 45NRTH, Podiumwear and the rest of the sponsors/organizers for helping put together such an awesome event. I had such a blast putting on the winner's vest & climbing to the top step! Psst -- I think that's CBS!

Photo Credit: Johnny Woodside

Photo Credit: Johnny Woodside
Congrats to Megan (2nd) and Chelsea (3rd).  This was by far one of the most competitive women's races with a huge 3rd place battle between Chelsea, Pam and Martha -- these girls all raced their hearts out and rolled through the finish line absolutely emptied.  You inspire me!

Speaking of inspiration...did you all see that a bunch of crazy amazing people finished the Arrowhead 135 this week!! Tom had the chance to watch most for the race first hand and turns out the men's race turned into a 4 person sprint for the finish.  I can't imagine sprinting to the finish after 15 hours of racing & eating! People keep telling me I should do that next year and I keep telling them that that race is for the crazy people, not me.  No, Seriously.

Photo Credit: The one and only Thomas Quinn Morgan
 
One more thing.  So as you all know I've decided to dip my toe deep dive right into gravel racing and turns out you have to send in postcards to register for most of those.  First of all, I didn't even realize you could still buy postcards...but you can... because "drug stores" still exist in Hopkins.  As I turned the carousel of postcards reading "Minneapolis", "St. Paul", "Land of 10,000 Lakes", I figured these were all embarrasingly lame cards to send in and  finally settled on this one....


"The Many Moods of Loons." At first I thought it was lame, but now, I've decided it's pretty freaking awesome.

Now it's back to the waiting game as we all closely watch the Penn Cycle Fat Tire Loppet updates to see how this warm weather has impacted the course layout for this weekends race - oh and back to watching another toilet paper roll destruction....

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Farmhand Race Recap & Winter Gear of the Week!

Before I get started on all kinds of race, travel, adventure blah blah.  Have you heard of these freaking amazing patches?!?!


Huge props to my buddy Seth for the tip.  I just picked these up today at REI and miraculously I have saved 2 pairs of cycling bib pants and easily lots of $$$.  If you have some technical clothing that needs some patchy I highly recommend!!  So since I'm behind...that's my super quick "Winter Gear of the Week!"

I cannot even begin to express how awesome it feels to be home this weekend, sleeping in my own bed and riding my very own favorite trails!  I ripped out a couple of laps at Elm Creek this morning with Hollywood and JP and it may have easily been the best ride of the winter so far!! Sun was out, it was warm and the trail was mint!!!  I'm starting to refer to Elm Creek in the winter as "CJ's" trail, because it wasn't for the super nice  CJ Smith none of us would be able to enjoy this Velcro awesomeness.   Today was also the first time I tried out a Vanhelga tire on the trail. I was riding the 45NRTH Dillinger5 up front and the Vanhelga in the rear.  Generally I wouldn't have chosen that combo and really it was just a matter of convenience that they were set up like that today. However....I LOVED IT and it is now one of my favorite tire combos! I can't believe how much grip and control I had riding today and it was obvious that I wasn't lacking any speed in obtaining that.  As Hollywood would say..."Party on!"


I'm way behind on giving a proper recap of the Farmhand Fat Bike race, but long story short it was another awesome trip!  Ever since racing with Danielle at Wausau in 2013 I've been dying to make a trip to Grand Rapids! Tom, Spoo and I all made the trip and after stopping for a night in Chicago we finally arrived Friday night in time to meet the pups and then head over the Grand Rapids Bicycle Co. for packet pick-up! 


Spoo & Chelsea at GRBC!
I had so much fun meeting all of Danielle & Jill's buddies and even got the luxury of experiencing what it's like to have such a sweet mechanic as Ted Bentley!  Huge thanks to GRBC for helping Spoo and I clean off our salty bikes and special thanks to mechanic's Ted and Lee for all your help with cleaning and swapping tires -- you guys are the best!

Saturday's race was quite a challenge!  It had dumped about 10 inches of snow in Grand Rapids the few days prior to the race and as you can imagine that made for some seriously technical singletrack! I was quickly reminded that power is my strength and that I am not good at riding my bike in a complete straight line!!! I struggled with the conditions and Danielle had an awesome race!  I was stoked for her as not only did she win the women's race...but she was 5th overall including men!  Pretty...freaking....rad!  Congrats also to 45NRTH rider and buddy Evan on rocking out a 2nd place finish.  When the conditions get nasty...he gets fancy!


Photo Credit: Rob Meendering
 
 

Huge thanks to Danielle and Scott for hosting us last weekend! I'm pretty sure Tom fell in love with Naomi and we'll be purchasing a greyhound some day!

I finally took a weekend off of racing and have taken advantage of all the rest I can get. I'll certainly need it for the next 5 consecutive weekends of racing......hold on tight!!!!

Photo Credit: Neil Washburn

 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fat Chance Report - Finally!

Is it seriously Friday already?  This week has flown by at an insane rate and in the midst of all the time in the car, unpacking, attending a 3 day work conference, laundry, repacking and now more time in the car I admit that this crazy life has me feeling a bit scattered and disorganized.

 
OH WELL!!!
I absolutely LOVE fat bike season.  In fact I’m convinced that I fall in love with this sport just a little bit more with each and every race. This absolutely makes all the time in the car last weekend, time well spent.   

Photo Credit: Laura Webb
Last Sunday was a magical day for me.  It was one of those moments that I can count on a one hand where the world slows down and the cranks seem to turn themselves. 

 
In every race there is a winner.  But there is also a race experience that is SO MUCH greater than that.  And this experience is the reason that I will always race.  I am drawn to these great events, the passion and the energy that exist.  I am motivated by the friendships I have made and the anticipation of sharing a beer and laughing over crashes, bad starts and freezing water bottles. 

This weekend I spent 30+ hours in the car with a bunch of dudes and between all the farting and Dolan’s impersonations I laughed so hard that my abs muscled ached for at least the next 2 days.  It was so fun that I actually miss it, if that’s even possible. Can you miss an experience?

New Year's Day we arrived at Evan and Grace’s home in Marquette.  These two folks might easily be the nicest people in Marquette and if it wasn’t for them, the trails, and Blackrocks we might not have any reason to visit Marquette.  I was stoked to be treated to popcorn on our first night….just like at the carnival! 

Friday we rode the North Trail system in Marquette and then at dinner Tom ordered rice, bean and sausage dish that had some of the best plate presentation I’ve ever witnessed.
Who is the person that plopped the sausage on here and then said "Yep, This loops good."
Saturday was our trip over to Traverse City which took much longer than I had expected.  We arrived around 6:30 pm and quickly ripped a practice lap on the course with Jason.  I pretended to not be sucking wind behind his wheel; but was also happy to have snappy legs and I remember silently applauding my coach for making some small changes to my training schedule after Solstice Chase! 
Finally Saturday night my teammate Chelsea arrived and we both gleamed with excitement about the race.  The course conditions on Friday were mint however when we woke up Saturday morning we were greeted with a couple of inches of fresh snow!  The course had completely changed.  I was was pretty excited as I had finally set my Sarma rims as tubeless which meant I was really going to be able to take advantage of lower tire pressure.  The temperatures were also dropping  throughout the day and I made the  decision to wear my Wolhammers , which turned out to be the perfect choice! 

I love these boots so much, and I swear I absolutely cannot tell that I am wearing something other than a cycling shoe.  These boots feel warm, snug and powerful!  I know many racers prefer the Fasterkatts when it’s a bit warmer, but usually my preference is the Wolvhammers.  If I had to pick between the two, I'd definitely go with the latter. 
The race was super fun, with a very sloppy and challenging first lap.  I got out to an early lead and was able to hold on the remainder of the race.  Each lap the course conditions became easier and easier as the 100 or so racers paved a nearly single track trail.  What a blast!!   

  Photo Credit: Jody Hofstra 

Huge thanks to Evan, Grace and Jason for their hospitality this weekend.  We love you all and wouldn’t want to spend a race weekend like this any other way.  You are the best.    All of this would also not be possible without the support of so m any of you as well as 45NRTH, SARMA, LAZER, BICYCLE FIT GURU, and COMPEX .  I love being able to race with the best gear and work with the best individuals this industry has to offer.   Lastly the biggest thanks of all goes to Tom, my greatest supporter of all.  He endured a 4 day flu this past weekend and in the midst of all of that managed to be happy, to drive 15 hours, to be supportive and stand out in the cold for 3 hours as I raced a race that he wasn’t able to.  You amaze me, and  I wouldn’t want to do any of this without you.