Thursday, May 28, 2015

Welcome to Emporia....it's Party Time!!

One of the best things about my bike is that it takes me to some really unique places that I’d likely never travel to without it.  We made it to Emporia, Kansas!!  "There's no place like home!"

 
I am so stoked for all the epicness that is to come this weekend that I can hardly stand it. I’m mostly excited about all the fun reunions I get to have with some really great friends and even my CTS coach!  Leaving work yesterday was like the best feeling ever…you know what I’m talking about!  Party time!!!



Wednesday Night Recovery Ride!
It’s been a really long time (maybe since Ironman?) that I’ve been this excited about a race, and more specifically about the challenge that’s ahead of me.   I’m slightly naïve, but it’s naïve in a good way.  There is a lot of unknown after 100 miles.  However, there is for certain one thing I will have complete control over…and that is my mind.  Long races like this take so much more than great fitness to get to the finish.  It's an eating contest, a pacing contest,  a mechanical contest, a roll with the punches, flat out guts contest.  There is no getting around the fact that eventually it’s going to hurt. And when that time comes, I will greet  the pain with a smile and enjoy every freaking moment of it. 
Meanwhile….if you haven’t done so already, PLEASE VOTE! For my friends in Duluth, MN (a really awesome town) so they can win the Bell Helmets Bell Built Grant, and be rad.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fulton, Almanzo, Many Thanks! and Thank God it's taper time!

It's taper time!!!! Yippee!!  There are some people in this world that hate taper, but guess what....I am not those people!! I love taper so much and it couldn't have come soon enough, because I'm totally smashed!!  This past month of racing and training for Dirty Kanza 200 have been super amazing and fun... but at the same time really exhausting and really challenging.  When cycling is your hobby sometimes the planned "rest" that you have just doesn't end up being rest.  You all know what I'm talking about. All I have to say at this point is Thank God we don't have a yard to mow or any flowers to plant right meow!

The last couple weekends were so packed and so fun....and so full of so much suffering!!!  I love this cycling community so much that my cheeks hurt from smiling!

 
This years Fulton Gran Fondo was a huge event with a amazing turn out of over 1200+ racers!!  A 100 mile ride race that finishes at a brewery is an obvious recipe for success and it far from disappointed.  My plans for this day were pretty vague an in hindsight I probably should have had a plan and that would have been to just chill ride, however instead I couldn't' help myself when the packs of racers flew past me. Like a drooling dog I pounded the pedals and proceeded to suffer like it was going out of style, pretending that my legs were not screaming at me the entire time.  It was a fun practice in road racing which I have no experience in whatsoever ...and I managed to hold on for awhile, until well I couldn't hold on anymore :)  and then had to swallow a big helping of humble pie.  And oh boy was that brutal....my first legit experience of getting majorly dropped in a road ride. Watching the pack ride away from me when they still looked so close....and knowing that I had to work so much harder now because I was by myself and of course right into a headwind :)  Yeah, brutal. Now I'm laughing about it....but when my buddy Sam rolled up on me that day - it was not a pretty sight.  I proclaimed "I feel like ass" and he responded, "yeah you look like ass too!.... you're back is all full of salt!"  I'm so thankful for great people like Sam as that comment turned my frown upside down - and led to a pretty sweet day on the bike, complete with one of the best post race parties around!!  Beer, food trucks, a few bands, and a lot of people feeling really awesome about riding 100 miles.  It's so my Heaven.


This past Saturday was my first Almanzo 100 experience and it was just about as awesome as predicted with over 1000 racers!! I'm pretty sure when Chris designed this course way back when, it was with a big shit grin on his face, as I'm certain he found just about every single hill in southeast Minnesota.  Nearly 8,000 feet of gravel torture...I swear I can still taste the suffering.

 
My goal for Saturday was mostly to just to race as hard as I could, to make better decisions when and/if I was dropped and to finish feeling confident in my fitness and my fight for Dirty Kanza!  When I look back on that goal I can easily say the race was a success!!  I spent the first half of the race holding on for dear life to a strong group of riders which eventually ended up in me getting dropped for the 2nd weekend in a row -- except this time I managed my mind, and my energy so that I could rebound and grab on to the next chase group.  I ended up spending the majority of the last 60 or so miles with a really awesome group of dudes, a few I had just met on the course and a couple I already knew.  It was muggy, it was hard, we laughed, and I swear if it wasn't for the Banjo Brothers Oasis at mile 80 I might have had a serious meltdown!  Seeing them, and then Elvis, and then cracking open a can of Coke....yeah, that was the highlight of my day!! 

 
 
Now it's time to recover, rest, and watch the fat cat try to fit into small cat boxes.

 
Hahaha! I so wanted him to sit down!
 
On Sunday I went off a referral and splurged on a massage with Tony Mcpherson at Crossfit Kingfield (nope I'm not doing Crossfit).  Rad dude. If you're local and looking for a good massage - you can't go wrong here.

This week I'm feeling super thankful for all the people that support and inspire me as I chase my dreams.  Chris the Bicycle Fit Guru, the lovely folks at LazeriSSi Pedals, the 45NRTH guys that continue to encourage me all year long, Chris with SRAM, Fulton & my All-City Crew; Dolan and my favorite Midtown riding buddies, the Fix Studio, and of course my amazing family and friends. Tom even botched a legit workout on Sunday to basically drag my zombie self around town. And then he put up with hangry meltdown after hangry meltdown for nearly 4 hours. Gosh... how did I get so lucky, and how did we end up a couple of endurance freaks??

 
Tonka Cycle's mechanical support has been HUGE for me these past 6 months.  Such an amazing bike shop, filled with genuinely nice people. And Lord knows I'd have thrown my bike off a cliff or two if it weren't for these guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You make riding fun, and easy...er.

Lastly, I'm super thankful for my awesome coach, Matt.  After working together for 2.5 years I no longer need to explain and/or justify my craziness.  He keeps me grounded and this week he is reminding me that we've done the work and now it's time to chillax and enjoy!

I admit chillaxing is going to be hard to do, as it's been awhile since I've been this excited about a race.  Gravel.....where the heck have you been all my life?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Best Spring Ever!

Let's start out by saying that this is seriously the BEST SPRING EVER!!  I'm absolutely loving life, loving this awesome weather, loving that we moved to Hopkins, loving long group rides and REALLY loving my decision to stay local this spring and embrace the growing gravel scene!

I rode the Dickie Scramble a couple weekends back and it turned out to be so much better than I ever expected.  The course consisted of one of the gnarliest descents I've ever ridden on a cx bike and I swear some of the biggest climbs in Minnesota.   

What goes up, must come down!
Photo Credit:Todd Bauer
Photo Credit:Todd Bauer
(His head was seriously popping up through a hole in the bridge - so badass!)
The best surprise though came at the very end.  As I pressed hard over the final hill and across the finish line I realized that absolutely NO ONE was there. There was just a red line sprayed across the gravel, indicating the end of an awesome ride.  As I slowed down and calmly rolled my way back into town I reflected on how weird it seemed to not have anyone at the finish line, yet how it hadn't really changed the way I felt about the day's challenge. Thank you Drew for organizing an amazing event, and thank you even more for reminding me that my own sense of accomplishment is always enough.

Like riding 115 miles on Saturday!!! Stoked....as that's the farthest I've ridden my bike...ever!!! Big thanks to my new riding buddies who have made this Dirty Kanza training block such an enjoyable experience - I seriously look forward to riding my bike for 6 hours these days...go figure.  

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This past weekend was so sunny and so full of action that I swear I was smiling the entire time. Saturday afternoon I got to rock my brand new Lift Blouson Tank on a recovery ride. The fit is so comfortable and the fabric is so soft!!!  The sweatproof back pocket was perfect for my iphone...and I'm sure it will be great for storing snacks....hmm I wonder if I can fit a donut in there...



Huge congrats to Tom and many of our best friends for kicking ass in the Tonka Half Marathon on Sunday!!

Orange is totally Tom's color!!!
I actually woke up at 6am to pound out tempo intervals just so that I would be ready to celebrate with them afterwards.  I timed the ride just perfect so that I was able to bump into them around mile 8 and cheer them on to the finish..."GO TOM, you look amazing!!!"



Post race celebrating at Maynards! These cats are the best!!
Photo Credit: Lisa Wacek