Monday, November 14, 2016

Iceman Cometh - a surprising finish!

Oh my gosh!  I'm still in shock/awe/surprise about a top 10 finish at's exactly the positive fire and momentum that I was needing as I prepare for the the intense (and crazy fun)  fat bike season that's ahead.

I know most of you are thinking it's silly to be surprised, and to some degree I agree, however if you recall I had a couple blah performances in September (Doh!) and then I took way too many days off my bike in October to be comfortable setting too high of expectations for myself.  So I didn't....and perhaps more joy in racing comes with less expectations and just being in the moment.

Tom and I made the full drive (10.5 hours) to Traverse City on Thursday, and arrived just in time to enjoy a couple pints of Grand Rabbits (yeh Michigan!) at the Rare Bird Brewpub, which was a super cute little place. 

Friday was spent dorking around the expo, trying on all the sweet new 45NRTH Naughtvind gear, and chatting non-stop with my Michigan BFF.  My coach Matt and his wife Tricia arrived in the afternoon and we headed over to Timber Ridge to get in a little pre-ride of the race finish.  Coming from California, Matt was pretty stoked about all the leaves, and it made me reflect for a moment on all we take for granted here in the Midwest. 

Friday night we enjoyed some of the best wood fired pizza ever! at Filling Station Microbrewery and come Saturday afternoon Matt and I were stoked to finally arrive at the start line to warm-up for our 2:30 pm start. So late!!  I noticed instantly that the pedals seemed to be turning themselves!!  This almost never happens, so when it does.... carpe diem! 

Photo Credit: Steve Bartzen
The start was a tad intimidating as I lined up next to 17 badass chicas... a couple Olympians (no big deal!) and more than a handful of other decorated cyclists. I promised myself that no matter what I would not end up racing the next 27 miles by myself.  Finally we were off charging towards Timber Ridge at a pace a bit faster than I remembered back in 2013.  

Things were brisk, but steady until we hit the first sand section at which point a gal totally endo'd  right on her face in the sand (gnarly!). I was lucky to stay upright and sneak by unscathed and of course this gave the signal for the front group to hammer....and so hammer we did and suddenly I realized I was in something like 7th place, which of course I knew would probably only last for a brief bit. Holy long sentence!  I was quickly passed by some gals chasing and soon enough I was in total sufferfest mode trying to hold onto any and every wheel that passed me and at the same time trying to decide when to take a breather and focus on the saving "it" for the rest of my race.

Finally things settled down and eventually I found myself in a small chase group with Alli Draggo, Sally Price and Mary Penta.  I was barely holding on the climbs and Alli (a powerful roadie) spent most of this first part of the race throttling the rest of us on the front. There wasn't much working together, nor did there seem to be a desire to do so. Alli seemed content to hammer.  I just hoped I could hold on as long as possible and I'm guessing the 2 others felt the same way..  Finally we started to hit some of the single track sections at which point it became quite clear what everyone's strengths were.  Mary was definitely smooth in the single-track, had a little pick-up but was smartly not burning her matches up front. Alli was hammering the power sections but slowing down in the single-track and Sally was probably the hardest working cyclist I've ever raced with, but really mashing the pedals and burned some matches having to catch up after a couple issues.  

Alli fell off in one of the single-track sections and then the race became very tactical.  I attacked on the descents and Mary attacked in the single-track. Sally was dead set on pulling up the climbs and regaining control at the front.  As we headed towards the final miles you could tell all of us were deciding when to make a move and it was Mary that went for it first. I held onto her wheel for a brief while and then was gapped slightly as she powered up a climb. I had no idea at this point what place we were battling for, but I guessed it to be somewhere around 13th place. Sally fell off the back and thankfully I was graced by a long downhill which allowed me to bridge up to Mary. The two of us then battled our way into the final 1K of the race, passing the young Haley Batten who was fading.
Photo Credit: Jill Martindale :)
I debated about what time was too early to attack (remembering how going too early cost me in 2013) and decided I would do so on the 2nd to last climb. The moment we turned left to climb I got out of my saddle and cranked the pedals as hard as I could. It was enough to create a decent sized gap heading into the last technical singletrack section. The course was now lined with millions of people of racers which had been partying since their finishes around noon that day!  I crossed the finish line solo and mostly happy with racing a smart race. 
Photo Credit: Steve Bartzen
Tom greeted me with a hug and and I gave my coach a high five.  I had no idea what place I was in, but I knew I'd at least beat a few people.  I headed over to the GRBC tent and Jenny handed me a Vivant Farm Hand, which tasted SOOOO good.  As you can see Danielle, who wasn't able to race, was still super stoked for me!

And then this is what happens when you find out you're in 10th place and in the money$$...say what!?!?!?

Sweet Photos By Jenny Acker
 The rest of the night was an awesome fun blur of hanging out at the campsite with 45NRTH teammies, Matt, Tricia and all the rest of my favs!  My heart is full after such a great weekend.   Huge thanks to Tonka Cycle and Ski, SRAM, Ride iSSi, and Bicycle Fit Guru for all your help in making this mtb season both fun and fast!  Your products and support inspire me to be the best possible version of myself.


  1. Awesome write up for a hard fought race! You have inspired me to better then I thought possible for years and I'm looking forward to lining up with you for years to come!

    1. Wow!! Thanks Leia, you inspire me too!!! Huge congrats on your awesome's amazing the progress you've made in the past few years!Look forward to many more fun races with you!