Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dust Rules

I was so excited to return to Utah yesterday. From the plane window the landscape was out of this world gorgeous and you could see the sun in the blue sky just parching the mountains and everything surrounding. As awful as that may sound to some of you, I personally love it here! Takes all kinds!

As I walked off the plane into the 100 degree weather I said out loud "I love the dry heat" and I must have hit a note for the others behind me (and said it kind of loud too) because they were all very much in agreement. The East Coast is just different with its muggy-ness you know? Takes some getting used to and it could have been a ton worse back there but I think my heart is with the dry weather. I like that I can just go for a ride here and dust my bike off if I feel like it or not if I don't. Nuff of this wash your bike stuff. I need a break from that action!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Today we got up at the crack and headed for Charlotte, NC airport. We passed the town of Gastonia too which my family owns and runs. Kidding. Gaston is my maidon name and it was kind of cool to see these signs on the way out:

What wasn't cool was the 50 year ole dude across the aisle from me on the airplane burping every 5 minutes all the way to Chicago. Big ole nasty and long burps constantly. It was crazy! Then he ordered a dang COKE. Alright alright I know that I have my fair share of gastro issues too but......on the plane? Come on.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

NMBS #5 - STXC Sugar Mountain, NC

I had plenty of projects to keep me going this morning while we waited for our race time. I needed to toothbrush my bike to get all the mud off it, change a tire and level my seat and put it back in its original position. This is all just part of the gig when you are doing things on your own though. No biggie. As it turns out the seat had migrated 3.5 cm forward before I tightened the bolts on the clamps yesterday during the race. Oh well, I am not going to carry a tape measure with me too.

I got clobbered during the race today. I was sucking so much wind I am surprised you all didn't hear it from Utah. For me today there was no doing hard efforts on top of hard efforts which would put me where I needed to be. I was pinned and suffering bad. Can't tell you what happened.

It seems like the results these past few weekends (mine included) have been weird. I mean I realize I still have this rib thing going on (although things are getting better finally as of this week) but for other people I think there is some of end of the season fever going around, people peaking late, people not peaking late (I will raise my hand on this one), people just OVER it and people just getting the fire lit underneath. That makes for interesting results I guess.

I don't want the season to be over yet - it is too soon! I love racing and I am still having fun despite what has been the biggest year for me with the huge highs (getting on the podium for Short Track and Cross Country!!!!) and major lows (displacing my whole right rib cage last month) . On that note, I am starting to sleep again without pain as of about a week ago. That is a sweet thing.

We got together with some Kenda XFusion ers this evening, sat back and relaxed which after cleaning your bike 18 times in the last 5 days we all really needed to do:

NMBS #5 - XC Sugar Mountain, NC

People came back with war stories:

Alright, so you know the ugly details of the XC race from the entry below. What a dang day. I am getting sure sick of things happening to me during my races but I am learning from it all.......I now carry tools which allowed me to tighten the bolts on the seat clamp that had come loose during lap one. As for hitting a rock perfectly and putting a slash in the tire......that is something that just happens from time to time but preferably NOT during a stinking National Race. Oh well. Luckily it happened towards the bottom of the dh and I could ride a bit until I started hearing the rim going cling cling cling as it started smacking the rocks and stuff. As much as I would have loved to just ride the rim and destroy it as I made my way to the tech zone I needed those exact wheels for the STXC race the next day so I chose to start running with the bike instead. As I ran during this sucky situation I made the best of it in my head and just kept telling myself that the running is good cyclocross training. To bad part of the run was on pavement with cleats on my shoes. That was weird.

Quite honestly I didn't really know what I was running to......would someone in the tech zone be able to save the day for me or would I just have to change the flat and hope the tube didn't bulge out of the tire through the slash? Actually.....that is a great reason NOT TO LITTER the trails with your gel packets because I had my used ones in my jersey pocket that I could have used to cover the slash if need be.
But seriously, I really didn't know what I was going to be able to get by with in the tech zone because I sent my extra set of wheels home from Boston and I had NOTHING there for incidences such as this. Luckily a savior of the day emerged as I went by the backside of the zone - someone asked what I needed and I yelled "a wheel" as I ran by. And low and behold as I came running around the course to the front of the tech zone that guy had a wheel for me to use for the last lap of the race!!! Beats having to change a flat. Mike and Mary to the rescue again....it was Mike Brodricks wheel that he was planning on using in his race later in the day.

I guess I was sponsored in part by Mike and Mary this weekend and I cannot thank those guys enough. They helped me get my brakes up and running and they helped me get back into the race by giving me a wheel to use Thanks you two. You are the best!
Some race details - the weather was overcast and it held out until about the end of the last lap when it started raining but by then you are already drenched in a pool of your own sweat from the muggy stale air so who cares? But geez, there were definitely moments I felt like I was in an actual sauna during the race. Ugh. Everything was ridable both up and down and no running was required (except for my own personal experience).

After the race it was a total cluster because I needed to return the wheel to someone I didn't know, get my messed up one back, change the flat tire, get warm, spray off my bike and find a trainer to spin down on (the NC course doesn't have all but a 1/4 miles stretch of flat road to spin on next to it), set that up and then RECOVER properly (yah right!) for the following race the next day. By the time I did all that it was about 35 minutes after I crossed the finish line which is not the best way to recover but you can only do what you can do with what you have.
Here is Blake after the Pro Mens race later in the day. It got sloppy for them with the rain that started at the end of our lap:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Quick XC Update

I know you guys are wondering but I want to go to bed so:

1 lap - seat rattled loose, had to stop and fix it myself
2 lap - slashed tire on the dh, had to run a 1/4-1/2 mile with my bike to the tech zone where a virtual stranger gave me a wheel to use.
3 lap - rode it clean and came in 21st.

The GOOD news - yes there is some.............I felt GREAT on the climbs but it wasn't happening for me today. Maybe tomorrow in the Short Track eh?

More later.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Power to Good People

Today was a day of begging and the coming together for the "Kathy Cause." The Kathy Cause started because I had a bum brake that no one could fix while I was racing in VT. I had to wait to get it "fixed" in Boston in between races but after I did that on Tuesday and took the bike apart and flew it to NC the brake went bunk again just in time for me head down the descent on my pre-ride of the NC course yesterday. Nice...... a squishy front brake that works at 20% of its capacity. Actually.....THAT is what probably what helped me clean the dh (downhill) when pre-riding because on a sketch dh you don't want to engage that front brake too much because you will do the superman over the handlebars.

So I convinced myself not to be worried about it. I told myself that the dh was only 7 minutes long per lap and who needs no stinking front break anyway on that particular dh. It would only get you into trouble really right? Plus I didn't want to put the effort into finding someone to work on it, take the bike to the venue, walk back to pick it up, risk getting caught in the rain, etc. It can get to the point sometimes that the effort to get something fixed isn't worth the actual getting it fixed part. But I couldn't convince my husband of that. I think he was a bit concerned with my lack of concernedness about the brake- can you say its the END OF the SEASON.

So today the Kathy Cause officially started as I looked for ANYONE who could please help me fix my brake before the race at 11am Saturday. I got denied a few times as I BEGGED for help from random mechanics in the venue area but those jokers who denied me were over shadowed in the end by the best group of people/cyclists that understand what it is like to wing it at these races without a mechanic or any kind of of help.

One of those people was a very nice mechanic by the name of Chris Magerl from Salt Lake City!! (If anyone needs a nice and personable mechanic for your team call Chris. He is wonderfully supportive and a hard worker. He even tries to make other racers lives easier.....how about that concept? What a guy!!!) Chris was just the start of the nice people coming together for the Kathy Cause because I now needed a bleed kit for the brakes in order for him to work on it. Plus it still wasn't a for sure that he could help out because he has his own team to run and manage which I totally understood.

I knew Mike Brodrick and Mary M. run my brakes too so Mary got the weepy call from me. She is way too cool........ "It's going to be ok Kath. Don't worry, I will send Mike over there in a half an hour with the kit and everything will have itself worked out by our race tomorrow. It will be fine" She is the current National MTB Champion and 2004 Olympian and she is the coolest person ever. So here is now a fellow racer helping out another fellow racer. How cool is that? Goes to show that we have a GREAT group of racers that we get to race with on the National circuit.

The circus continues-I then ran into other people and team managers who also do this on their own and they also pitched in to help me. One gave me his # in case stuff hit the fan and the other said he would remind Mike and Mary about the bleed kit since they were staying right next to him (just my luck!!). That guy also was going to give me his front brake off his bike if the bleed didn't work. So again, everyone came together for the Kathy Cause and it was down right COOL. It really is nice to know you are NOT alone in this even when you are alone.

The Day is not over yet:

Kenda Tires and Kona Bikes helped me set up my tires on Thursday but the the front tire wasn't holding air. That is pretty much what you get when you are running non tubeless tires on a rim with no tube. So now it was Jed, a guy that we are sharing a condo with, to the rescue. He helped me with what turned into my science project for the evening.

For those non cyclists reading this (family, friends): When the liquid (Stans) that you put in your tires isn't sealing the porous holes of a tire that you are SUPPOSED to put a tube into (its lighter with Stans which is why we do it that way) there are very special and interesting things you need to do with the tires to get that to happen. Jed showed me the ropes, because NO people I have NEVER done this on my own......... and Jed showed me how. But you have to be patient with the project. This is where lather, rinse and repeat comes into play......take the wheel, lay it flat, put soap around the edges of the tire and rim, let it sit and wait 5 minutes then look for the weird suds to form which indicate where the holes are, pick up the wheels and get the Stans to those locations by shaking the wheel in a certain way, flip it over and let it sit. Repeat on the the other side, repeat on the first side, tear your hair out, look at your watch,wonder if you are ever going to be able to get the project done, repeat, repeat, repeat. Go to bed and wonder if its really going to hold air over night which it better because the race is tomorrow! Thanks to Jed and to everyone else who bent over backwards for me today! Karma is a good thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Banner Elk, NC - XC Race Course

We all got out on the Cross Country course today which is the exact same as last year. It is kind of unfortunate that way because it starts out with riding straight up the face of the mountain on ski runs and then it turns into fire roads and some paved roads. That is not mountain biking! From the top of all these roads is a pretty darn fun and very technical singletrack that drops you back at the bottom in 7 minutes. Unfortunately, the long climb isn't too worth the short descent. Oh well.

Oh yah and my front brake went out again on my pre-ride. I guess I didn't need that anyway. Hope I can get it fixed tomorrow. Can't I ever JUST RIDE and be done with it? I know the the answer well to that one......NO.

Here is Blake doing what bike racers do best in the days leading up to the race:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ring Ring Ring Ring

I am sound asleep this morning and I wake up to the abrupt sound of my phone ringing at 7am. This can't be good. It is Sara at the Boston airport calling to tell me it looks like my fight for 11am has been cancelled. "WHAT????" I say as I sit straight up.

Thanks for the call US Airways - NOT. I called them immediately couldn't get through, called them back. "Oh yes mam, that flight has been cancelled and you have been re booked for the 7pm flight tonight." I don't think so!! After it was all said and done they were able to book me on an earlier flight than what I was already expecting this morning. That is when the fun began. I had to change my cab reservations and then start running around like a chicken with my head cut off to get stuff done, packed for good and to the darn airport!

Once in Charlotte, Sara and Blake Z (BZ) picked me up and it was at that moment that we all realized that none of us had any clue how to get to Banner Elk. Details details I tell you. So BZ breaks out his I-phone and gets on it:

We get here and are welcomed with buckets and buckets of rain. Yah, you wish you were here you KNOW it. That stream you see in the middle of the picture IS indeed water pouring off the roof of our condo.

The big topic of discussion tonight: Is it better to go out and spin for an hour and get wet and cold or is it better to stay at home and save the energy? Hmmm. Debatable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SS Update

I finally got done with the SS at about 9pm tonight. I started the morning by figuring out what stuff I wanted to keep here and what stuff I wanted to send home. As I went through it I was pretty amazed at my East coast collection. I have been to Sara's twice for 2 weeks at a time and my goodness I managed to get a lot of stuff here somehow.

After that we got our training in on some rippen singletrack only a 15 minute ride from here at the Fells. It was bone dry with bone dry roots. Real fun. Then it was back to the SS..........the real work of a bike racer. Got the bike to a bike shop and left it there, took the discs off my wheel set that I am sending home, stuffed the wheel box with a bunch of junk that I don't know how I even got here to MA, got to the post office by 5pm....barely, ate lunch, stretched, picked up my healthy bike at the doctors, broke it down, stuffed it in a box, made dinner and finally just took a shower at 10pm. I am tired needless to say.

This is currently Sara's SS situation. It's 11pm now. She LOVES it when I do this to her.....I can hear her already:

It is off on an early flight to North Carolina for us both tomorrow. Heard it has been raining and raining and raining and raining. LOVELY.


We are in the process of doing the "SS" (please refer to July 18th entry) again here in Boston, MA as we ready ourselves and bikes for the race in Banner Elk, North Carolina this weekend. This time though I have had to go and beg a local bike shop to bleed my brakes that need to be worked on in a big way. Great brakes but they need maintenance at the moment. I road with them like they are (they don't engage until the lever almost touches the grip) in the Short Track on Sunday and I will not do that again if I don't have to. So ya, I am pro bike racer getting my stuff worked on at a shop down the street because no one was able to do it at the Mount Snow venue. What the??? But after that I get to train, send my extra set of wheels back to Utah because we fly tomorrow and I am not taking my normal bag, a huge bike case, my purse, my backpack AND a flipping wheel box with me to North Carolina. Don't think so. So I have to get rid of the wheels and once that done I get to disassemble the bike for the plane. Lots and lots to do today. I think I am tired already. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

US Short Track MTB National Championships - Mount Snow, VT

There is not much I can say about today except I was super surprised at my poor result. Bike racing is so weird sometimes. Sometimes you kill it and other times you don't, sometimes you feel good and sometimes you don't. You can be overworked, you can be under worked, you can be fit but stressed mentally, you can have great days for no reason and you can just have a bad days for no reason. And I had a bad day for no particular reason. Was it my training that I did in between the 2 races? Was it all the running back and forth to and from the venue? Did I not sleep well enough? Did I not eat right? Was I not hydrated? Was I stressed? Was I not fully recovered from Friday's Cross Country? I could go on and on with the "I wonders" but truthfully I will never know what happened and will only be able to guess which its not worth doing because at a certain point you have to let it go and move on. What I do know is that I am fit, my training is going super stellar and I am still having fun doing this. That is what I know.

Here is a picture of me smiling before one of the not so stellar races this weekend. No worries guys. I am still smiling right now. This bike racing this is all good if you can keep it all in perspective especially when you need to. I know what I am capable of, I have had a GREAT season thus far and this is just a bump in the path to victory.

Friday, July 20, 2007

US Cross Country MTB National Championships - Mount Snow, VT

I just got back from doing another one of those weird races where I felt good but just wasn’t going good. What is the deal? Well I can and will say that my rib today was NOT helping the situation…

The Pro Women had to do 3 laps on a course that was rapidly detiorating. It was a peanut butter fest out there requiring several dismounts off the bike and then pushing the bike through a huge vat of thickened super chunk peanut butter that clogged everything including gears and ears.

After a 20-30 minute climb up Mount Snow on some very technical and fun singletrack we had 10-15 minutes of pure descending through the most roots you have ever seen in your life. On the descent of the first lap things started out that you would hit the slimy roots that were covered in slick mud with your tire, roll over it and drop A LITTLE onto the pool of thickened mud before you hit the next slimy root and did the same thing. But on the 2nd and 3rd laps that change dramatically - you would then hit the roots with your tire, roll over it and drop into a HUGE deep hole. It were these HUGE holes that I would hit time and time again on the second and third laps until I would land just right enough on the front tire to send a knife pain into my ribs. This would result in a holler/yelp, then I would back off completely and start feathering the brakes on the way down for the next 5 minutes until I gradually got up enough mental strength to let –er – rip again. Basically I became a sissy for 5 minutes here and there over the course of the race. What can I say? Pain will do that to a person I guess. It was a struggle. I lost a TON of time on the downhill which isn’t my style at all. Such a dang bummer.

After thinking about it I realized that I haven’t felt this kind of rib pain in the last couple of races that I have done (Snowbird, UT and St Felicien, Quebec) on the downhill because at Snowbird, there was just a smooth fire road descent and the other World Cup didn’t have pits like the ones that developed on the 2nd and 3rd laps here. Oh well. Kind of sad to me in a way but I know once the rib is completely healed (I am on 4 of the 12 weeks of the healing process) I will be able to do my thing completely and without worry of re-injury or searing pain. Nothing is worse than having those thoughts go through your head while in a race either because there is no doubt that is DOES slow you down.

This something that is new to me (being injured) and its something that I need and am trying to work through. It’s tough, not fun and it’s quite a challenge but I am learning with each day on what to do to get through. It’s hard and I respect all those athletes out there that have come back from an injury because I now have seen to an extent what they go through and what it takes mentally.

Speaking of that “if/when” thing that I just wrote….I have been competing and racing MTB bikes since June of 2000 and this is my FIRST “substantial” injury so far. You play with fire enough and you will get burned I am sorry to say. You just don’t know when it’s going to happen and how bad I guess.

Another lesson learned this weekend………before the race my coach, Alison asked if I had my shoes ready with spikes? “Ugh spikes???? Come again?” Yet another thing that I didn’t even think of. So lucky for me, an hour before the race, I ran into the nicest guy from Boulder, CO named Mike that was under the Titus tent. He kindly offered me HIS spikes from HIS shoes. He even took on the whole swap himself while I readied myself for the race!!! What a guy. Then afterwards he gave them to me to keep! It will just be another small thing to carry with me that makes a world of difference in a race when it’s muddy. Now the other small difference in a race that I need to have is happy ribs.

Here is the rest of the scoop on the race. It didn’t rain, things turned to peanut butter, it was a sunny day for the 2pm start and we had to Cyclocross it a third of the way up the climb on each lap because the mud was so thick that you would slip out therefore making pushing (vs. riding) the best option. This meant that calves and legs were cramping, lower backs were hurting, shoulders were killing, etc from pushing your bike up a mountain through thick peanut buttery mud. Our bodies are only used to riding I swear and the better you are riding......the worse you are at everything else.

There were no incidences, and for the most part I stayed upright really except for an occasional bobble or two which is amazing given the balance I had to have in the sections where I slowed down to a slugs pace to compensate for the jabbing pain in my rib. My tires did pack with mud going up the hill and down the hill in a BAD way leaving me essentially with a bald tire. My fault- bad tire choice even though the tire I had on there was perfect for the conditions 24 hours earlier. Live and learn I guess but you do what you can with the tools and time that you have.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


It rained no less today and the course was twice as slick with runny mud. Still mostly ridable though which is good. The forecast calls for the rain to cease at 4am tonight which IS NOT GOOD. Yes, people, we need it to rain because if it stops raining the course will turn to what we riders call “peanut butter” which requires a lot of effort to push through vs what we have now which is like riding in, say……yogurt.

Someone fell down and went boom boom while pre-riding the Super D course and it wasn’t me (check out the right handlebar or lack there of)............

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In the Car...Again

Sara has come up with the best term ever. She calls it (sorry I am going to cuss here people), the “Shit Shuffle” (SS). The definition of shit shuffling is unpacking, repacking, sorting, going through stuff, pulling things out, putting them back in, organizing, arranging, etc. The “SS” is what we did all morning long in preparation for leaving for the 2 hour drive to Mount Snow, VT from Boston for the MTB National Championships.

The drive was something from out of Gorilla’s in the Mist as we made our way through the Vermont countryside past cute countryside stores and covered bridges, in the rain and low clouds.

We got here and onto the course just in time for the biggest shower of the day (of course). I got absolutely “nuked on” as I liked to say. Wet and muddy all the way up the mountain and then all the way back down the mountain. I am getting used to this at this point and honestly don’t expect anything different from the East. You just have to hone in your slick roots skills combined with unstable mud skills pretty quickly. And actually, riding is the easiest part. It’s after that that SUCKS……….clean the bike, get home caked in mud and cold, strip almost everything off before you step one muddy foot in the house, take a shower, start laundry, clean the bathtub that you just destroyed, stuff newspaper into your shoes (why does that work anyways?), put laundry into dryer and in between all this…..have a recovery drink, get warm, stretch, make and eat something. Whew. I will call it a day with that!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Off To Boston.....Again

I am headed to the MTB National Championships in Vermont that are over the weekend. I got super lucky with a nice United ticket agent in Salt Lake City too. She not only gave my bag a “priority pass” which I had no idea even existed, she gave me a seat upgrade for more legroom that I didn’t even ask for.

Although flights were late out of SLC to Denver everything fell into place by the time I landed in Boston 15 minutes ahead of schedule. And to make things better I walked off the plane and there was my bag waiting for me. Next up, call Sara and tell her “I am baaaaAck”. BTW- have you ever been the VERY first one off the plane? It’s weird because suddenly you are in charge of everyone trying to find Baggage Claim because they are all following YOU. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure because I didn’t know where the heck I was going but it all worked out. :)

It was nice that I only had one bag to claim in Boston too. I did not have to fly with a bike or much stuff because I just left the majority of it in including my Eleven at Sara’s house when I left only 2 weeks ago from there for SLC. I will expect a storage fee bill in the mail shortly from her.
:) It will only be paid for if I find that my bike has NOT been tampered with. All I will say is that there were threats.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Intermountain Cup #10 - Snowbird, UT

I just had to ask "What's next?" when I wrote that title for Thursday's entry, didn't I? Well I shouldn't have asked dang it.

First off and most importantly I need to thank the Bingham Boys for spending half a work day with me. I am sure they were wondering when and if I was going to EVER leave on Friday the 13th (which I made real for them I think). They were busy getting me set up on my spare Titus Eleven Exogrid that I was racing the next day at Snowbird by cutting bars, raising the bar height, changing stems, changing grips, putting disks on, putting chains on, making sure it was shifting. Oh my gosh it was a lot for those poor boys. Thanks again you guys!!

On to the the race at Snowbird:

It was a sunny blue, hot as heck day at The Bird. We had to do 4 short laps of 800 feet of elevation gain per lap. The "gun" goes off and 3 minutes into the race I slash the sidewall on the rear of my beloved Kenda Small Blocks. Stans NoTubes wasn't saving that one for me because I went from 30 psi to 0 psi in about 2 seconds and had an inch slice in the tire. Dang it!! So the Pro field passes me completely as I had to turn around and head down the rocky course to the start/finish area.

That is where my hubby Chris (who didn't race today), was set up with an extra set of wheels that were ready to rumble. Heck yah, that is my boy!! Ready for anything even though someone harassed him before the race for being so prepared. Sidenote: for those that don't seem to understand being prepared for anything that may occur in a race: When THIS is what you do so THAT is what you do. Nuf said.

I got the rear wheel on and got back in the game and was of course in last place by a long shot but had four laps to pick off some peeps which I accomplished and ended up with a win. Of course the win wasn't without further ado because on the second lap I lost one of my water bottles probably right after I got it. Luckily I was prepared and had an extra gel pack (which I always have in case I drop one, the race goes longer than expected, etc). Nothing like taking that without liquid too. Ugh. I really wasn't too worried this time about dropping the bottle because the race was short and so were the laps. And luckily enough it all worked out in the end.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dumb Drivers

Don't you just LOVE it when someone harasses you from their car while driving the same way you are riding and then they get a red light? SO SWEET. The driver KNEW the passenger was "in trouble" and was giggling as I started in (in a nice but "what the heck are you doing!!?!" way). Kids just being kids but still....really NOT cool.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I am Scared To Ask......What's Next??

So I am in the middle of a hard training session today in Heber, I get off my bike to pick up another water bottle, get back on and notice that my already cushy bike is like SUPER cushy when I jump back on. Ok.......what the heck is happening now? I get off the bike and investigate start pushing the wheel back and forth and pushing on the seat and finally notice that a small but very important bolt that essentially holds the frame together has fallen out. Great. Nothing like having a perfectly laid out training session where every minute I am supposed to be at a certain heart rate, power, cadence, etc. almost blown to pieces by something so dumb. I still had half of it to go too. My first thought was that I wasn't going to be getting in a full training session today but then that made it a challenge of course. And all bike racers like a challenge!

Dant dant na na - Chris to the rescue!!......

So my poor husband gets the frantic call with me breathless in between sets saying something like "bikes broken, bike at home, car, meet me". Luckily he could and he did. Not wanting to mess my intervals up I did an interval toward home hoping that the bike would stay in tact (which it did) and Chris drove like a mad man with my replacement bike ready to make the swap quick and easy. Talk about having a support crew............man Chris is the best. After it was all said and done, NOTHING got screwed up. And to think I almost just threw my hands up and almost canned the rest of my training for today. I guess a challenge is a challenge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rib Update

Yesterday was my first day of Physical Therapy for my ribs. The whole right cage has still been driving me insane physically and mentally of course too. I am able to ride, train and race which is more than a god send but the average everyday living is driving me crazy. And sleeping? Forget about it.

I got the good news/bad news scenario from the PT:
The good news - they are going to heal perfectly and once they do I will have no lasting side effects. I can ride, race and train but it will just put the healing time back some. That said, with the amount that I am on the bike I should be normal by 2008. Ha ha!

The bad news - its going to take forever to heal, at least 6-12 weeks.
The particular ribs I slammed into the ground in Quebec unfortunately don't have a ton of blood flow to them making it very difficult for the body to heal it. And that's where my daily visits to the PT come in for ice, heat, electric stim, ultrasound, etc. And I thought I didn't have time before all this happened! Yikes. No x-rays have been taken up to this point because I guess there is no point for the particular ribs I seemed to have damaged. And there isn't much you can do anyway if they were cracked. Ribs are weird.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Canyoneering Zion National Park - Imlay Canyon

Chris, my husband loves to Canyoneer in Zion National Park. He has taught himself everything he knows which to me is pretty darn impressive. For those that don't know a ton about Canyoneering check out this site. It will tell you more than you ever wanted to know and more. Here is my version:

Routes range from easy to difficult and they are all rated accordingly. Some take many hours and some take many days. Some are "wet" routes such as Imlay (pictured here) where you have to immerse yourself in pools of water one after the next all day long to get out and some are dryer routes (I prefer these!).

The one thing about Canyoneering is that once you drop in - you are in (occasionally there are "escape" routes but generally this is not the case). There is no changing your mind and getting back out and you had better hope that there are no storms or flash floods on the way as you would not live to see the next day. Kind of scary but a totally beautiful sport to check out.

The canyon walls can be 1000's of feet high above you and can get super narrow which makes it so incredible. Other canyons can have walls that are so conveluted there is very little light in there at all.

There are also these things called potholes of which I am NOT a huge fan of. Let's just say I like the dry canyons better. Most potholes are full of water and are god knows how deep in any given canyon. On a good day the potholes have fresh water trickling into them and /or there has just been a flash flood that has cleaned it out and it sits with semi fresh water BUT on a bad day these potholes can be full of dark, murky, stagnate, stinky, festering, carcass bearing, cold as heck water. This especially holds true if there has not been a flash flood lately which serves the same purpose as say.......a toilet which will flush out all the dead animals and debris. But then again, a flash flood MAY do just the opposite and bring IN debris and all. To make matters more interesting the deep potholes may only be 1/2 full making getting up and out of them a challenge with your heavy pack on. Think of it as jumping into a tall drinking glass that is only half full. Same diff.

Rappeling and hiking (and of course some swimming depending on the canyon) are all the primary modes of getting your bottom out safely before the rangers start looking for you and your wife goes insane wondering if/when you are going to call. Some rappels are 10 feet and others are 700 feet. Some are double raps, some are hanging raps. Aye yie yie.

Chris likes the problem solving of the canyons as the canyon itself changes with flash floods (ie. debris may fall into the canyon from way above and can damn up and fill a section up with water where you may have once been able to walk right through). Canyons have a tendency to change every year. And, not everything is perfectly laid out and easy to navigate although there are a few pre-existing bolts.

Below you will find a few pics (courtesy of Toms site) of his lastest and greatest adventure in Zions Imlay Canyon along with a bit of a trip description that he wrote up for other canyoneering buddies. Oh yah and the other problem solving skill you have to have is finding the darn canyon. Read on and see what I mean:

We caught the first bus out of the visitors center at5:45am and proceeded to do the right sneak route. Neither of us had been through Imlay Canyon before. Our chief concern was negotiating pothole escapes; so the day before,we went to a water hole and practiced hooking out of pools using 8mm rope andalso 6mm rope with Petzl ascenders. It should be noted that many ascenders are not rated for smaller diameter ropes. Look and test before you use.

Lessons learned...

#1 When attempting a long, unknown route to you - make sure you are well rested. I race mountain bikes, and made sure that I didn't do squat on a bike for two days before this adventure. I also carbo loaded for two days before. I'm sure this sounds like overkill to some of you, but after some of the stupid things that happened, I'm sure it worked in my favor, as our total trip time was about SIXTEEN hours.

#2 bring a friggin MAP and a compass... Route descritions are great, but when you want to be absoultely certain of where you're going and how to get there quickly, a map is indispensible. For Imlay - Tom's book is the bomb, and I would say worth about $10 per page when wandering around looking for the route.

Here's what happened to Scott and I...

Relying on Tom's internet description, we were looking for the Scout Lookout. When you're at the bootom of the Angel's Landing trail, there is a well markedsign saying "Angel's Landing 2 miles and Scout Lookout 2.5 mi" There is, however, no sign actually showing you HEY this IS Scout Lookout when you get there. So I'm looking at rocks and trying not to twist an ankle and we motor right past the unmarked, uncelebrated Scout Lookout, and then we got to the small bridge in the description.

At this point, I'm prettysure we've gone past the lookout, and I'm wondering if we have missed a turn orsomething, and maybe there is some small bridge out there. THEN it says to continue on the trail 15 minutes. At our pace, 15 minutes almost had us at the entrance to Behunin Canyon, where you can go from Telephone Canyon and pull off a double header. So we wandered into the slickrock looking for the route, and at his point I'm going to lose it. I KNOW where Telephone Canyon is, I've been through it a few times, and I am convinced that we have totally screwed this thing up. I would feel much better if we hada friggin MAP!

My friend Scott is aware of this as I ramble / think / search in a loud psychotic voice over and over again that always ends up with "......if we hada MAP!!!". My bad - I'm in charge of this trip, I guess. So we turn around and look for Scout Lookout, or someone with a map. I have never done the West Rim Trail in reverse, so when we get there, I'm bewildered, and feel like we're on a new trail.

We're almost at Angel's Landing again, when I notice two college aged looking kids. We pull over and talk to them, and HOLY CRAP THEY HAVE TOM'S BOOK!!! I think it's about 9am at this point. They are going to do Telephone Canyon,and so now I'm looking at the Imlay Canyon description. Without hesitation, I offerthem $20 for two pages of their book. They accept, I give them my email to arrange a payment, tear out two pages of the book, and we're off. You simply do not get better luck than this. I'm in the habit of picking up pieces of trash along trails, and attribute this piece of luck to Kharma. As it turns out, at our pace, the route was about four minutes from the small bridge. Tom's BOOK says five to ten minutes I think. Good call Tom. Before you know it - it's 1 pm and we' find Imlay.

Should we continue? It's mostly a question of energy at this point. The rest, the carbs, it's all going to be OK. But we're going to have to bust a move.

#3 You will not believe how cold it is until you experience it first hand. For me - Kolob Canyon is warm compared to Imlay.

So we suit up. I'm wearing a dry suit with thick fleece pants, and two polypro tops. Seal skinz socks, which were good in Kolob, and leather fingerless gloves. My friend Scott, who we will refer to as "Freakshow" or "Freaky" from here on is donning a 3 mm wetsuit with rental drysuit on top.

Let the games begin...Seven HOURS after we started. The water starts right away, one pool is kinda gross, the others just a stained, brown water. The common element of course, is that they are cold. Pool after pool after pool of cold water. With a group of two, it was possible to stay warmer on the lips ofthe pools, and out of the water, this would be difficult with larger groups, or you would want to run two sets of ropes, to spread people out and avoid crowding.

When we went through, there were three / maybe four major obstacles. We used hooks to get out of two of the pools, and I climbed over the Freakshow's shoulder on another while he assumed the "I'm being arrested against a cop car"position. Another, smaller hole that could have been a pain to get out of was bypassed by performing a two-handed superman dive to a handhold. Consequences for missing this one were minimal. There was one log jam section that had dried out. When Imlay fills with water again, it may be necessary to swim under it. No thanks.

#4 Rehearse exactly what you are going to do before you get to those potholes.

One pothole, with a difficult exit has a blind entrance. You don't KNOW that there might be an exit issue until you're swimming in cold water and see the exit. Here's what worked for me...When rapping into a pool with a questionable exit, I had an Ibis hook tied to our rope. It was then duct-taped to a seven foot tent pole. Freaky had the end of the rope in case I dropped the hook, andI folded one section of the tent pole around the rope to secure it somewhat. (If you drop the tent pole - you are screwed. Actually, we could have made it through without it, but we didn't know that, and when the water level drops more, you may NEED a 12 foot pole to get through. One of my fears was not having a long enough pole.

I rapped in using my right hand as a brake, and held the hook, rope, and pole in my left. I swam over to the exit, place the hook, pulled, climbed and pushed down on the top of the hook to a beached whale exit. This exit was pretty easy looking, and it was still difficult. We didn't need the ascenders. But you never know.

Where did I come up with this technique? I had a litle time to think about it when I was in a pool with a difficult exit, and none of my stuff was ready. It was the pool with the exit that you can't see when you enter it. I was actually fairly prepared. All the equipment was ready to go in good places in my pack. But takin off the pack, opening compartments, setting things up, and trying to tie a knot onto an ibis hook and then duct tape it to a tent pole with out dropping anything in the water while flotaing around in cold-ass water? You get the idea. Be prepared if you can't see the exit. And if you get cold, retreat up the ropes.

As an aside - who ever goes first needs to be able to backtrack / ascend up the rope to re-evaluate things. When you're in the pool, the clock is ticking. Even in my drysuit, my feet were shaking after maybe five minutes in the pool. Freakshow couldn't use his hands very well with his fingerless gloves. I thinkI had better luck because I kept my hands out of the water due to better flotation on my pack? Uncertain.

Imlay for me was not fun. It was an adventure. It was bad ass - but not fun. The next time I go through, I'm sure it will be fun. But not this time. At one point, Freakshow was taking a while, and then I saw flashes. He was taking pictures!!! I let him know that we did not have time for pictures - not today. At one point he wanted to thrash in a pool a bit to try an exit technique. I told him to grab my hand and get the hell out. We didn't know how much further we had to go, and it was not a good idea for him to get any colder. I think it's a good idea to shelter at least one person in the group, and keep them warm in case the shit hits the fan. That way, you have someone who isn't trashed and cold - and they can make good decisions.

We did the last rap on a single strand 8 mm rope blocked with a biner and one hell of a knot tied by the Freakshow. We pulled with our 6mm rope (which was the only rope we had used so far through the canyon) which was tied to another rope as our pull cord. There are a few options for setting up the rope, we blocked off a small rapide, knowing that the pull might be more difficult, but if we hung up the rope, we were already in The Narrows.

We hit The Narrows at 8:30pm and due to low water we flew down to the Temple in an hour, and were at the bus stop before 10:00pm. Oh - and we filtered water from Mystery Falls. An awesome trip.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

NMBS Deer Valley, UT - Movies

I just had this sent to me. It is from right after I finished 5th (my first Cross Country podium on the national circuit) at the Deer Valley race in Utah. I enjoyed a nice Squatters recovery beer at the line to celebrate.

Here is me being a nerd with my nerdy fan club friends....

Here is a link to a bit of a race report too written by a Dave, a gentleman that loves traveling, racing, photographing, film making and writing.

Friday, July 6, 2007

"Bones Like to Go Home"

said my Orthopedic Dr. in Salt Lake City as he SET my right rib cage back in its spot. Ugh. Actually it was pretty low impact compared to what it took to knock them out of joint in the Mont Sainte Anne World Cup on June 23rd.

I have been living with the snap, crackle, pops from my right cage, haven't been able to lay flat on my back or stomach, am having a tough time sleeping still and my cage just stinking hurts so first thing yesterday morning I called my Ortho guy. I never let things go and always want to know what I did for future reference even if its nothing. The second I get a problem I am in his office and am being sent back out with stretching techniques and various workouts to do. This is the reason I stretch for almost an hour everyday everybody!! All that stuff has added up over the years!!!

His office is always SO great at getting me an appt the same day I call despite that they are 2 weeks out. So in I went yesterday and my Ortho guy is used me saying "I hit a sign, I flipped over on my bike, my knee hurts, the tree didn't move, the handlebar went in to my gut, I skidded to a stop on my hip, something wrong with my ankle, yadda yadda yadda" so it came as no surprise when I told him about my crash in Mont Sainte Anne. After no xrays and lots of poking and prodding and lots of "does THIS hurt?"..........."for the love
of _ _ _ YES it DOES!!!!!", he told me my cage was out of its joints. Did you know you could even do that?? Yah....me neither. I either thought they were broken or not. But I guess that's why my right cage was sticking out more than my left in the front-nasty looking. It had been pushed up and forward in the crash.

So I guess I have been wandering around the globe and racing in World Cups with a tweaked cage that was wrenching on my spine and throwing everything off. Geez I bet after I broke my saddle rail in the next World Cup in St. Felicien and my leg was hanging 3 inches down on the left my body was probably getting ready to spasm out! Or maybe that corrected it a bit? Ah who knows but I do know that my bones are now home.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Why Does Weird Stuff Happen To Me?

I got to go home today!! It's been two great weeks but I am outta here. I got some free miles from a very good friend and had to fly from Boston to San Francisco then SF to Utah. Can't beat free so I am not complaining at all EXCEPT that the already 6 hour flight from Boston to SF turned into an 8 hour flight. Like it wasn't long enough before!

We had to make a medical emergency landing in Lincoln, Nebraska for a very ill baby that had turned blue and wasn't able to breathe. When we landed there were about 10 fire trucks and medical police and it was a huge tuh-do. But prior to all this, the flight attendants were frantic trying to find a medical doctor on board which they found 2 of thank heavens. It's not so cool when you see panic in a flight attendants face because you are wondering just what in the heck is going on. Apparently this baby was 3 months old and had major medical problems when it was first born....ugh...yah....only 3 months ago. I let the flight attendants know that if they needed a 3rd hand that I was a FORMER emergency medical technician but things were under control at that point. Last we heard from the pilots, the baby was stable and in the hospital next to the Lincoln airport. Thank heavens.

After 14 hours of travel total I am HOME!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tour-ons in Boston

To celebrate a really fun, long and tough World Cup campaign in Quebec we headed out to downtown Buh-ston (I just LOVE that accent) where all of the Fourth of July festivities were starting to get underway. We went to the North End and got the finest pasta with the finest seafood made by Vinni himself. We got through a bottle of wine and checked out Paul Reveres house and we ended up walking more than a bike racer ever should.....but hey, it's a recovery week and the wine had really kicked in. Oh ya!! I guess we did walk pretty far but that is the beauty of red wine I tell you. Didn't even feel it. Sara and her husband Michael were making fun of all the tourists so I tried to get of shot of them to embarrass them. This was the best I could do:

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Urban Assault Ride

Today Sara took me on what she calls the Urban Assault ride. It’s a ride that she does from her house near "Hah-verd" (Harvard) by bike through downtown Boston. And I will tell you what, I have never been more single handedly keenly aware of what was going on around me than during this ride. Lets just say that I am used to cow pastures, fields, long stretches of endless road, etc in Heber City, UT but it became clear really fast today that this ride was going to be the absolute opposite. Oh my gosh.

I am usually allowed to put my blinders up as I ride in Heber and really focus and in fact I am known to be one of those riders that doesn't see the view, doesn't see the poppies/flowers, doesn't see the deer in the meadow, etc. because my blinders are always up. But today was a totally different story.

From being freaked out of getting doored by the parked cars or hit by the moving cars I was a mess during this ride. There was so much going on while Sara dragged me around weaving in and out of traffic, hitting bike paths, going through lights, stopping, going, riding in the middle of the road, hitting the breaks suddenly, and just trying to tell what the car was going to do before it did it that it was quite the while knuckled experience for me for sure.

And I saw Sara in a whole new very down to bid-nuss light as well as she would yell "hey!!!! hey!!!" at the top of her lungs in an open window of a car that was moving into our lane and as she had a special "I am here" whistle that I have never heard before and then there was the sudden wave of her hand/arm trying to say "you better not even try that move in your car buddy". She was all bid-nuss as she led me around the downtown street of Buh-ston. To cap off the great experience of taking me way outside my comfort zone, we ended the ride at a local cafe near Hah-verd. Seeing Buh-sten on a bike was sweet and I would highly recommend Sara be your guide.

Thanks Saint Felicien

Here is the very French speaking owner of the home we stayed at in Saint Felicien for the weekend. He came out to cheer us on!
Gilles deserves a lot of credit for opening up his home to complete strangers for the weekend and we are forever grateful. Thanks Gilles!

On that note, I just have to say that Saint Felicien, Quebec BENT OVER BACKWARDS to put this World Cup on appropriately. I simply cannot believe the magnitude of the race that this quaint little French town had to put on with lack of a better terms....a huge lack in facilities. Simply amazing.

This gal, Manon, organized a TON of stuff for this event. If anyone is looking for someone who is just a flat out NICE person, with tons of attention to detail and a great personality too, Manon is your gal. She sought Sara and I out after the race at our car to ask how the race was and how we did. Who does that? But she truly wanted to know!

The crowd at Saint Felicien was awesome too. We had no idea how many or how few people may attend the World Cup but they stuffed themselves in the woods everywhere. It was fantastic. Kids running with you up steep sections, people screaming "aller"(go), l'age pas (don't give up....as if I ever would!!! ha!).

The tent area was hilarious as well because as the women got done, the men were warming up for their race and people were standing outside the team tents several thick just watching and observing the guys on the trainers and rollers. The crowd was truly interested everything from the start to the finish. Great job to the town of Saint Felicien for putting on a HUGE event almost last minute. I KNOW the town wants it back and I wouldn't mind going back to the nicest town with the nicest people that I have ever been in. You all know who you are and thanks again for everything!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Saint Felicien, Quebec World Cup Race

We picked up Oliver, our very French speaking "hydration specialist" promptly at 9am, gave him our bottles, gave him instructions in English of what we wanted to do, gave him a map of the course, practiced the hand off, gave him a feed zone pass that we got for him and then sent him on his way once at the venue. Here is Oliver ready to rumble as we drove up to the course:

What a great guy for him to do this for us. The feed zone isn't that fun of a place to be during a race as its not usually the best place to stand to watch things. But Oliver was able and willing to help total strangers that he had just met days before. That is way cool. Oliver did a GREAT job for having never ever fed before too. He endured a rain shower or two during the race and had to constantly be on the watch for us coming through the feed zone. Thanks again Oliver!!!

Once at the course and warming up we were greeted with off and on rain, sun breaks, and occasional wind. There was lots of talk about 5 laps plus a start loop being too long but they still decided to go with 5 for the women despite all the moaning.

I once again had the privilege of starting on the back row in 68th position. As you look through the peleton while waiting for the gun to go off all you can think of is "man that first row of people is WAY up there" but you can't really think that way. Luckily at race start there was no major crash in the peleton but people were slipping out on the loose gravel climb of the start loop that we had to do. People were falling all over the place......in front of me of course. I mean where else could they do it? Geez. Anyway, they have a start loop on a road to sort everyone out and its usually a steep ole pitch that just socks it to you right off the bat before heading into the singletrack. I just kept my head up the whole time to watch for that very thing of people crashing right in your line. I kept it cool and would move around the carnage one by one while trying to make my way up though the massive pack of women that can ALL rip it. Lots of wattage going on there. There is only so far you can get too from the back row with a certain amount of time but you do you best! As we got to the top of the start loop and headed down some chick just EXPLODED in front of me and Sara on the down hill. Holy cow I am not sure I have seen carnage like that before. It was like a pinwheel watching her spin in the air and then land on the ground and continue to spin while attached to her bike. I hope she was ok because that was nuts.

Once the start loop ended and the singletrack began the race practically came to a halt with bike traffic. There were just too many dang people on the singletrack but not enough room to pass because of way to many turns. It sucked!! So we were all in this line and it was like we weren't even racing because no-one was pegged. Stupid. It is hard when everyone is so close in fitness like that because even after a start loop everyone is still right there....especially only 8 minutes into a race. But at that point people were still falling, hooking bars, slipping on the slick surface. What a mess! Once we got through the first feed zone where it opened up a bit things sorted out a bit better. Meanwhile the front pack is totally and completely GONE by this point.

Things went super well throughout the first lap for me as I was hitting things perfect going up the very technical roots and rocks and down them too. I was feeling strong and was hitting all the right lines. But I kept hearing this cracking sound coming from my seat area. I ignored it as there is no other choice really in the middle of a stinking World Cup. And then at the start of lap two..........SNAP:

For those of you not that into cycling parts, those silver metal pieces are supposed to be connected and serve to keep your saddle on the bike which of course is always ideal. I didn't know what happened at first but I did know that my seat was feeling funky and was sagging on the left. Whenever I got a chance I would try to see just what the heck was going on.....was the seatpost dropping, was the saddle position moved forward or backward, was the post broken or what?? I had no idea until about the middle of the 2nd lap when I finally got a chance to see it and I just calmly thought to myself "you have got to be kidding me". I could luckily ride it still because the metal piece wasn't poking into my leg or anything but you just aren't getting the same kind of power out of your legs with your left hip 2 inches below your right hip. I kept racing knowing there was nothing more I could do except that......RACE.

I didn't freak out about it and was more wondering how long the seat was going to last. And there were definitely a few "what ifs" going on in my head too. But the seat lasted throughout even WITH a few Cyclocross remounts (which after I did them I would remember the rail and would just cringe).

I ended up 51st, got pulled for the last lap which to me is SO silly because the leader wasn't even close to me and they pull right before you head out for your next lap (which would have been my final lap). So its not like I was going to be in her way or something while I finished up my lap. That said, I was the first pulled and that was that. Here is Sara and myself after the race happy of the thought of getting home after being gone for 2 weeks: We then hopped in the car boogied back to Boston, MA from Saint Felicien in 8 hours and 45 minutes. Mapquest said it would take 10 hours and 15 minutes. I love the way bike racers drive!! Here are a few shots on the way out of Quebec:
Outside of Parc National De La Mauricie:
South of Chambord:

A bridge at Trois Rivieres, Quebec: