Monday, June 28, 2010

Pro XCT #4 - Mt. Morris, WI

Wow, Madison, WI is cool. Never been there, heard all about it and....yeah, its a great place for sure. A tightly knit community with bicycle paths all over linking the city up at every point, bars, great food, coffee shops, co-ops and a great atmosphere are all part of what makes it amazing. Yet again, the reason I love my job is getting to go places like Madison where I may never have had the opportunity to go to in my life!

And actually, I paid a whole $10 to get there. I had a bunch of unused cyclocross flights from last year that I couldn't use due to life circumstances (see sidebar if you need a hint) and they were all going to expire mid July. So I combined them all in order to head to the the next Pro XCT race at Nordic Mtn (NE of Madison by about 2 hours).

And the really best part about going there was that I was about to meet some of my new teammates for the first time! Meghan Korol lives there smack dab in the middle of all the action but we had yet to get to the same race. And Stephan Ettinger, our U - 23 wonder boy, was making his way from MT to for this lovely event too.

I got to Meghan's after one of the best flights ever on Southwest. Not only did I get the exit row, I sat with 2 of the funniest people ever. We all didn't know each other when we got on the flight but we sure did by the time we got off it! It was perfect, the flight went by fast, we laughed the whole time, told stories and I kept getting FREE adult drinks from the flight attendant. We got to WI in no time flat! : )

I gotten eaten alive by mosquito's as I built my bike up but being lead around Madison by Meghan and biking around one of the many lakes in WI made up for it.

Road right past the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center (a Frank Lloyd Wright building) on one of the bikes paths there too.

We also swung by Machinery Row Bicycles where Meghan and her boyfriend Dave (what a great mechanic!!) works. It was an absolutely incredible shop. I have never seen so many bikes and gear in my life. The shop was well laid out with plenty of mechanics to answer any questions or work on your bike. Incredible place.

Oh and just outside the shop was this little ditty. Yep, a place right off the bike path for you to work on your bike in case of a mechanical. Note the bike stand in this picture.

And then the vending machine of bike parts, clif bars, etc in this picture!! Amazing!

And I just didn't have enough of Madison yet so we cruised up toward the capital and over to yet another lake. Check out the sun setting.

And the moon above the capital. This place was showing itself off!!!

Well not really.....I had a bit of a mishap. At the very end of the ride/tour my crank arm slipped and came loose!! Didn't come totally off but had to walk it home. And I will tell you what...having a mechanic at home to ease my mind that it was NOT a bottom bracket issue or something like that was certainly nice since we were leaving for the venue first thing in the morning! Or well least leaving for the venue after going to the bike shop to make sure my bike was going to work, going grocery shopping to load up for the weekend, having Stephan leave his wallet at the bike shop (these kids - hahaha!), packing the cars, getting gas, etc. So after all that we finally drove on up to the venue to check out the course.

The pic below is Nordic Mtn where the race took place. A bit different than those high altitude races with straight up straight down kind of action on the west coast! But don't let this pic fool you too much, there was plenty of climbing snuck in there. Short punchy climbs through dense forest and steeper twisty and techy downhills throughout the loop made for a quick loop of no rest. I would liken this course to a World Cup course.


By the time we warmed up and started the race at 11 am it was already 82 and humid. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE humidity actually but today it didn't love me.

Dave and Meghan - our wonderful hosts/teammate/mechanic/support crew/tour guides

So yeah, about that humidity. This was a first but it happened. I hit the wall at about the 1.5 hour mark. The first part of the race I was amped, making up ground, getting through the pack, had that fighter instinct to kill it and then it was like a switch was flicked and the lights went out. I found myself at that point with a super high heart rate (anaerobic zone) but if you had asked me at that moment what wattage I was putting out I bet it was around 150. The heart rate wasn't matching the effort in the legs at all. I have never had that happen. I then started to dream and obsess about the cold water ski pond that was at the bottom of the course. We still had 2 or so laps to go and we would ride past the pond and I wanted to stop SOOOOO BAD and just jump in each time. I was overheating bad and getting worse.

Between that, the humidity, the cold chills, I should have known what was going on and perhaps I did but just pretended everything was ok as I drifted backwards each lap. I wanted to just go get in the air conditioning and/or get in that cold pond. I became more obsessed with the lake than racing. Oh wow, I just called what I did "racing" those last few that is funny. Let me clarify.......I was mearly riding. I will slow down but I will not quit!! Something inside said this is not right which was a first in my career and so I listened and backed off mid race - another first. I have learned to listen to those inner race voices at times because sometimes they know best even though you just want to beat them down and pretend all is well......which I did to a certain degree. But I did have a sneaking suspicion that if I pushed beyond what I was feeling I was going to do damage so I slowed way down which sux but I believe it was the best option unfortunately.

So after a not so stellar finish with the temp now in the 90's, you could find me in the lake - helmet, shoes, glasses, EVERYTHING still on. The water skiers were getting a kick out of the crazy fully clothed bike racer hanging out in the water!! I was the happiest I had been all day!

Like I said, that lake was calling me and I forgot to mention, I really am not a fan of pools of water, ponds, streams, lakes etc. I like to LOOK at them but usually do anything I can to stay out of them! So the fact that I was dieing to get in one says something.


The next day we had the Short Track race which I wasn't too concerned about over heating in. I could handle 20 minute all out effort. I did make some modifications to my warm up though, broke out some ice and was extra cautious to stay cool as possible up until the start.

My start was dreadful too.

Not sure what happened but I think I was almost last by the second corner. There was some kind of hoopla going on up front but I couldn't quite make out what had happened as I focused on my race.

My glasses slipped down on my nose from the humidity!!

But I was so annoyed that I was almost last that I just gunned it, even more than the all out effort that you have do in order to survive the race. The big effort paid off though because I was able to make a ton of passes and land in 12th in the end after suffering like a dog.

And where did I go after? The pond again! And it felt GOOOOD.

The rest of the afternoon was first spent trying to find Milty Wilty (known for its custard) and then the rest of the evening was spent hitting Madison with Meghan, Dave, Stephan, a slew of U-23 nats team and a bunch of others. It may have involved lots of beer, bars, bikes, barfing (not me), broken bottles and almost a brawl (not really but it rhymed!!) but we did manage to stay outta trouble somehow.

We stayed up till 3:30am and I had to leave at 4:15am for my flight!!! I just ended up staying up and leaving a bit early for it and didn't even bother trying to sleep. It was pointless. Ugh, haven't done that maybe. But man it was a fun night!! Now I need to put my pro "hat" back on and go to bed at a reasonable hour for another 15 years until I do this again. Once every 15 years isn't so bad! : )

Here is a quick video of the races that weekend starting with what I call "Lake Obsession" now:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Intermountain Cup #8 - Logan, UT

Immediately following the race in Vail we headed home to WA to take care of some family business. This was the first time I was home since my parents funeral in November and it was hard. Hard not to call them to tell them I am going to be there and hard TO visit them...not at their house but at their grave.

Their graveside was more beautiful than I remember, lush with trees, flowing streams and a blooming rose garden too. I was happy for that. It is so amazing to me that this was reality as I stared at a plaque that now represented my beloved parents. There is something to be said for being gone in another state and not fully understanding the scope of things until you go "home" and realize there is no one there to greet you with those loving open arms as a parent would. Reality struck when in WA that is for sure. My parents are gone in body but definitely not in spirit (thankfully!!).

On top of that reality was the reality that Chris's mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. All signs are pointing to good places at the moment and she is doing everything she can to get her body into fighting mode. I am proud of her for everything she is doing right now to combat this and will continue to sending healing vibes her way as she undergoes treatment for the next 5 years.

I did get some riding in too while I was there. Seattle is so lush green!!!

But there is a reason for that too. I think I missed 2 huge storms by about a minute. I was one lucky ducky.

Speaking of rain....holy cow when we got home there was nothing but storms galore!! Yikes!

The calm before the storm from our deck.

Not too long afterwards the storm was here


Another shot of lightening

The bad part of the storm clears out leaving just massive rainfall.'s June alright. Hmmm????

As for the race in Logan. It was a beautiful day!!! Probably one of the hotter days that we have raced this season. It was also pretty much the first weekend that it was beautiful out. The drive up to Logan was awesome just seeing ALL the outdoorsy people doing their thing or getting ready to do their thing from camping, motoing, kiteboarding, hot air ballooning, road biking, para gliding and....oh ya...mtbing!!!

Oh also forgot to mention that I woke up early this AM and saw a BOBCAT at our next door neighbors house!!!! Here kitty kitty kitty. I have never seen one of those in the wild let alone 50 feet away from my house!!! Anyway, that was pretty cool although it was only cool because I had a house protecting me. : )

The drive up to Logan.

I hadn't pre-ridden the course yet so when I got there I got on it to see what I was up against. That is a total first for me to do that the day of the race. It was a good choice though as I needed to know the course because the last time I raced there was in 2004. It luckily made for an excellent warm up too. 10 years into this sport and still having "firsts".....always learning or trying out new stuff I tell you!

The course was the same for the most part which was a good thing because its still fun with windy tight singletrack through dense trees that eventually spit you out into open fields making you fen for yourself as you gage your pace. Short laps too which I like. A hot 1 hour and 45 minutes later I came across the line in first!

Next up is the Pro XCT in WI this weekend!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Teva Mtn Games - Vail, CO

Been enjoying some time at our new house now that we are not on the road a whole ton. We have these "meese" that keep appearing by the house too! Mom and her two babies. The babies are no bigger than your average dog. One was running around mom, bounding around and the other was sticking RIGHT by moms side. SO CUTE!!

Just mom moose

Mom and one baby

The week cont'd to be good. It is always nice to get fun surprises in the mail!!

And then there was .................RACE DAY

Like I said, it was a great week, had a great race on Monday where I felt like myself again for the first time in a year or so and I was really looking forward to racing at the Teva Games. That was........until I got to the very first corner of the race. I thought I was gonna die. Weirdest feeling ever came over me as I pushed into my race zone.

The women's start

Every fiber in my body was telling me to stop as I cont'd to force the effort into the pedals. I couldn't believe what was happening! I had to play mental games like nobodies business as I forced myself through the next 2 laps of a 3 lap mountainous race. It was excruciating really. I kept asking myself how I was going to actually finish the race when my body clearly wanted me to stop. But its not in me to stop. Not part of my stubborn DNA. I had to keep moving forward the best I could although it felt like each pedal stroke was getting me nowhere. I felt just terrible. I was searching for someone by the name of Kathy inside what seemed to be empty shell for those first 2 laps. I suffered like a dog and I couldn't tell you why.

After sticking it out I finally found myself somewhat on the 3rd lap...but little too late. I was miraculously in 10th and attacked hard for 9th on one of the last hills. The attack didn't stick but at least I had come around back to my old race Kathy!! Better late than never. It is races such as this that make other race days seem like a cakewalk. Hopefully I have now gotten that one race that I always have every year like this, out of the way.

I ran into the Mafia Baseball Team before my race!!

The Teva Games has all kinds of things going on!

Flipping on the rope - seriously?! Wow!