Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fatty Season Wrap Up!

Has it really already been 3 weeks since Fat Bike Birkie!?!?  I'm becoming quite the tardy blogger it seems.  It's April 1st already...another one of my favorite days of the year...for obvious reasons.  When I was little I'd play tricks on my friends and then I'd laugh and say "April Fooled You!" ha, I was such a dork...and probably still am.

Fat Bike season is definitely a wrap at this point and my bike is long overdue for some type of season bike cleaning is the worst! This years Fat Bike Season was definitely one for the books as we tried our best to make the most of a dirt and ice filled winter.  I had a blast racing, meeting new people, and seeing Tom get stronger.  The season was also filled with a lot of sadness, which makes it difficult to write about.  I want to to remember all the fun stuff, but I'd be lying if I said tears weren't rolling down my face during the moment of silence at the start of Fat Bike Birkie.

Chelsea and I made a girls road trip to Marquette for the 906 Polar Roll and basically raced in short sleeves on one of the funnest courses of the year (well after the lung busting initial climb)....the first 10 miles felt like we were racing on an Olympic Luge course - total awesomeness.

PHoto Credit: Hilary Dolan

Mother Nature cancelled Fatbike Frozen 40 on us, which was a sad day, especially since this race is in my backyard.  Admittedly 4+ hours would have been a little hard on me training wise, but I still missed racing on my favorite, perfectly groomed single track loop at Elm Creek. 

On a whim I decided to race the Mora Vassaloppet the next day which ended up being one of my favorite races ever!  It was my favorite kind of course - fast, rolling, and drifty!  They had more snow in Mora and the course was total snow! I was stoked to share the top step with Adam from HED and also to race with these awesome ladies!

Photo Credit: Hollywood via Robin's phone

Then, Tom and I made a last minute decision to drive to Grand Rapids for the Farmers Fat Bike Race. We were looking forward to staying at Danielle's house with our good friend Spoo who was also supposed to make the trip.  Sadly, this is the week that Spoo passed away suddenly doing something he loved, running.

It's hard to talk about still, and some days I realize it's hard to believe he is actually gone. Spoo and I shared some pretty special moments together in my first years as a mountain biker.  Tom and I actually met Spoo running back in 2008ish.  We knew him as the "mountain biker" so naturally when I decided to ride bikes - he helped show me the ropes, and we made a lot road trips together to Mtb races in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. He was also there with Lisa sceaming and cheering when I won my my first Natz medal.  He also snickered when as he video taped me awkwardly going over the bars during the XC race :)  I wish I could find that darn video!

2013 CAT 1 Short Track Podium
PHoto credit: Cycling Dirt

Spoo was a very happy, smiley and positive person to be around. He loved Tom's nickname "The Bull" for me.... he would call me that often.  He also loved to give me a hard time.  Damn we miss you Spoo, you made us laugh so much!

We decided to dedicate Farmers to Spoo. 

There was basically no snow - but the dirt singletrack was pretty rad. Spoo loved nothing more than Singletack - this was his kind of course.  I spent the first 90 minutes of of the 3 hour race trying to hold off Tom who kept yelling "I'm coming for you" through the trees (hah!). Damn he is cute. Eventually he caught me and we got to ride together for a couple laps - my favorite 45 minutes of racing all year.  

Photo Credit: Rob Meendering

Eventually though I was getting a little tired  and was convinced he was sandbagging (or felt bad beating me) since I knew what kind of training he had been doing.  So... there may or may have not been some married bickering going on after he rubbed my wheel ha!!  - but eventually I dropped him ...sucker :)  I know it's only a matter of days before I'm chasing him like a dog!

We wrapped up the season at Fat Bike Birkie where I was shocked to be handed out the #1 race plate.  It was a competitive field on a course with about 25% ice. The organizers did the best they could to make this a safe race for us - moving the location of the event.  Cancelling this event would have been the saddest thing ever - so thank you to all the volunteers for the countless hours of trail work.  Thanks to 45NRTH,  I had the right tool for the job in the studded Dillinger4s. 

Photo Credit: American Birkebeiner Foundation
However, I road like a donkey and laid it down pretty hard in the first icy turn!  I knew better than to take that corner like that. I recovered fairly well, and then spent the first couple of laps battling with eventual winner, Leia for the top spot. We seemed closely matched and I envisioned the race would come down to the final lap - perhaps even a finish line sprint.  

Photo Credit: American Birkebeiner Foundation

Unfortunately on the 3rd lap I lost control of my line on a fast downhill clipped the bars of a slower racer and we went down in a full on 2 person yard sale...a pretty painful crash that seriously took my breath away...bruising my hip, breaking my saddle, denting my helmet, twisting my knee and eventually causing the end of my race.  Carnage!! I feel so lucky it wasn't worse and still I feel bad that I don't know the racer I took down so I can personally apologize.  He was so nice about it - making sure I was ok (I do think I got the worst of it).  I just couldn't believe he wasn't totally screaming at me! I'm bummed the season ended this way for me  - but I also know this is the reality of racing and there will be so many more races!! Huge congrats to to everyone on their finishes, this was a hilly and technically challenging course!

I am stoked to have won the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series for the 3rd consecutive year.  

Alexandra, Sonia, Yours Truly, Chelsea, Anna, Jenny and Jill
photo credit to Chelsea Strate

This was another big goal of mine this season and it's no small task traveling to all the races and also performing consistently. I'm so proud of these ladies standing next to me, that I'm so lucky to call great friends.  These women are genuine, positive, and supportive. They are so good for this sport and THIS is why Fat Bike racing is my favorite sport of all.  Thank you for making these winters so special!

I am grateful to Kurt, David, Scott, and Jeremy at 45NRTH who provide amazing support to our team that goes so far beyond the gear and equipment. These guys make sure we have everything we need before and after the races, they give us hand-ups, set up warm tents, and hand us beers at the finish line. They hug us on the bad days, and give us the biggest high fives on the good days!  Thank you for letting me represent your awesome brand.  Best team ever!

photo credit to Jill Martindale

Huge thanks to the rest of my sponsors who help make chasing dreams - HED, Onyx, SRAM, Bicycle Fit Guru and of course the nice guys at Tonka Cycle and Ski. Thanks for trusting me with your brands, and helping me ride the best gear - and for just being rad people.  I've got my bike or wheels at Tonka almost every week and I couldn't thank Nick, Jason and Steve enough for putting up with me these past couple years!

Nick and Tom - couple of studs

Big hugs to Tom who chases dreams right alongside me - I can't wait to see you crush Leadville!  And of course thanks to Matt Freeman - my CTS coach for the past 4.5 years...that's a college education.  I could never keep the power up and my mind level without your help!

and that's it folks!   HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE!  I've got some new athletic adventures ahead this on tap which I'll share more on later....but in the meantime, get outside and enjoy all that warmth and sun!  

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