Sunday, September 26, 2010
The run up
I warmed up a little and decided it was a bit too early to warm up so I took a seat in our team tent. It was warm out, the weather was gorgeous and I seemed to be as calm as a cucumber. Almost sleepy calm and almost alarmingly lax about the “big” race that was coming up in an hour or so. What the heck was going on with me!? I sat there in there chair when Mike from my Kansas City cheer squad walked up. I asked where the rest of the crew was and he said they were over on the playground. And I remember looking at him and saying “This is my playground!!!” as I pointed to the course I was about to do god knows how many painful laps in on for 40 minutes straight. It’s so nice to know that I feel that way about what I do! Sometimes it takes random comments such as that to see just how you really feel about something.
When looking back on this comment I made I am psyched that I see what I am doing as fun!!! To have the passion back for everything from training, racing, riding to traveling and getting excited for all of these things to on a daily basis is such a blessing to me. I am so glad that my mind and body are letting me live this way and I can honor that. I am so grateful for all those feelings and often wonder where they were dug up from because I will tell you what, I haven’t had these kinds of feeling for this sport or riding or any of it to this degree EVER. I am not sure if they had been buried deep inside for the last 4 years as I mourned my father who had a massive stroke but was still alive and well and walking and needing but not able to talk, read, wright or even communicate. Was I in mourning that whole time and now that dad has found the light, I did to?
Mom was also struggling a lot through most of my Pro career. She had Rheumatoid Arthritis and things just got uglier and uglier as the diseases progressed causing her pain and misery. Was I only racing with half of myself during this period of time? I love to worry and these would have been great reasons to have something to worry about in my book.
I am not sure why now these feelings of absolute LOVE and PASSION for the bike and everything related to that have fallen on me but I am so open to it you don’t even know. I am going with it and I have a team that is totally taking care of me in every way so I don’t have to worry about that either. Don’t have to pack bikes, don’t have to worry about what I will need to do if I get a mechanical before during or after the race. There is truly something to be said for knowing you are taken care of. Just knowing that alone allows the mind to be at ease and to think of other things and not worry about the normal everyday stress that racing can unfortunately bring sometimes. Thanks to Hudz-Vista Subaru for opening your doors to me!! But I think they may have created a monster since I am having a complete love affair with the bike now.
And back to the race……ah yes, a back row start again, I feel just you know…so at home there.
The gun went off and I was on a mission immediately. Made a bunch of passes and got near the Top 10 pretty fast. I was also in the perfect position to take advantage of a few traffic jams/crashes and could just go around. That was all that needed to happen – just get a tiny gap. A tiny gap can seem like a year in a cross race. Not only did I get a tiny gap, I then kept growing it and was making my way forward. I found myself with about 3-4 laps to go and had some company with me. One of them had pulled themselves back up to me and the other gal had to chase back on from quite a long distance and I knew she could be tired just from that effort alone. I continued to drive e the pace at the front taking the lines that I wanted to take. My thought was “Hey, if you can pull yourself back up and still hang on for dear life then more power to you” but I wanted to take my lines instead of sitting on and taking their lines. There is a problem with that of course which is that I am doing a lot of work and not getting much rest while on the front. Oh well – I could have played the game but just didn’t want to for some reason…..ok that is the mountain biker in me I admit. I need to get over that. We got to the last lap and not much had changed. I was on the front and was trying to anticipate where the 2 gals that had been sitting on this entire time were going to attack me because of course that is what is going to happen! Duh!! : )
They both attacked on the run up and passed me but when they went to remount onto their bikes they got slightly tangled, not falling to the ground but causing a pause/delay to both of their remounts. The tension was high as the finish line was just around the corner now and we were all in 4th-6th place at the time. It is pretty big to get a Top 5!! When they fumbled, I still had enough in me to get around the slight mess and take it in for 4th place!!!!!!!!!
You could say I was ecstatic! A 4th at a USGPCX this early in the season is more than I could have ever expected from myself. But guess what now….I now have some pretty high expectations of myself. That 4th place combined with my 8th the day before puts me in 6th overall in the USGPCX series. I really didn’t think the weekend was going to work out like this but it sure did and I am so happy about it! LOVING what you do certainly has its bennies.
Coming around the final turn in 4th!!!!!
My cheer squad from Kansas City!
Interview after the crazy race conclusion:
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Saturday, September 25, 2010
Sue and I were scheduled to do a school talk at the C. H. Bird Elementary School before about Cyclocross for the 3rd and 4th graders that day.
We were excited to learn that most of the kids had heard of Cyclocross and were already familiar with the sport (in part due to one teacher showing a cross video in his class prior to the talk!). Sue and I had fun explaining cross, answering questions and getting tons of participation from the students. One student even asked me “Why do you ride uphill?” Um, hmmm, well, uh, yeah, let’s see….oh ya!!!.....so that you can ride back down it (the funnest part!!) of course!
Afterwards we headed straight over to the course to check it out. I got my bike off the truck that had been on the road from Vegas for 24 hours plus and noticed that my saddle rail was cracked!! Oops, that’s not good. Luckily the Organic Mechanic, our team’s choice of mechanics that weekend didn’t skip a beat and had a new saddle on there in 2.5 seconds. Thanks guys! THAT is why it’s nice to have support!!!!!!! Otherwise I would have been begging for saddles and possibly needing to buy a new one. Been there, done that. The support this year is awesome.
I then took a trip to the grocery store to get a few items and was entirely disturbed that my “quick trip” to the store took far longer than it should've. I wanted bread. Not too hard a thing to want, get and go but at this particular store, there were probably 30 varieties of bread. Great I thought, I am sure to get exactly what I need here..... or not. My search for bread that was actually bread with just a few basic ingredients was futile and after pulling every last loaf off the shelf I finally settled for a version of bread. Lesson learned, my time is valuable in certain situations and if I am going to be picky I will just bite the bullet and go to Whole Foods or something of that nature next time.
Loaded with the rest of my goods I headed back to host housing where Amanda my host had opened her doors to me for the weekend. She was racing too and even volunteering that weekend for the Elite Races. Way cool!
The next day I was off to the first big National Cyclocross race that I had done in the series since 2008. I was excited. I was even more excited to see everyone again, I was excited to meet new people, and I was excited just be out and living life to the fullest and enjoying every second of it. It was a gorgeous day in Sun Prairie (near Madison) and the weekend was looking to be just awesome weather wise.
And we were off! How exciting!!!!! I love racing. I found my way up to the Top 10 immediately. It was awesome. But I was a little careless from time to time getting there, taking some chances but somehow still remaining up right. I wanted it though. Full on “Eye of the Tiger” syndrome.
The race shattered apart and I was duking it out with Teal from California Giant/Specialized Cyclocross Team. So far this season she and I have very similar fitness and it’s so awesome to be up there throwing down and have her throw down on me too. That what racing should be like!! I lead a ton through the corners, taking the lines that I wanted to take and she was always right there putting the pressure on. It was awesome and I was loving the challenge while I was definitely in that zone where you are just loving everything about the fight that you are putting on.
After the race my host family from Kansas City Cyclocross Nationals (for 2 years in row!) was there to watch me race and we went to downtown Madison and enjoyed catching up with each other at the brewery down there. It had been so long and these guys are a super active family, VERY into cycling and have kids that are into it too and there was lots and lots to talk about. Fantastic!!
After a great night, it was time to head in and prepare the mind body and soul for a fun race the next day. I couldn’t wait!!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
After a relatively easy day of travel (without bikes thanks to Tom Hopper driving all over the country for us!!) we arrived in Vegas. As expected it was hot and dry out, everything that I love being from Utah. Host housing was great and I got settled in right away. And so did another one of our teammates…..outside sleeping!!!!!! Too funny.
The next day I met more new teammates and we just hung out and waited and waited and waited and did I mention waited for the race to start? The race was taking place at 8pm at night under the lights just a bit outside Vegas proper and it was going to be an eventful evening with team photos beforehand, a warmup in between races somehow and then racing with Cyclocross’s finest athletes at an event that pretty much no one likes to miss out on. And no one really ever does because this race takes place during Interbike, one of the biggest retailer functions known in the US. It brings athletes from all over the world as well as ANYONE that makes ANYTHING for bikes or related to bikes. It is HUGE.
The race was sure to NOT disappoint with the mayhem either of a huge crowd that comes out to watch the race, drink beer and have a good time. The course was the same as I remembered it from a few years ago…pin it on a grassy straightaway and then turn left, pin it again on a grassy straightaway turn right, pin it on a grassy straightaway, well you get the idea. There was actually a difference from a few years ago with one barrier section and 2 stair step sections that weren’t very long. It was a well set up course and it was nice and warm out!
After team photos, to start things off properly on my first pre-ride on the course, I rolled a tubular off the front wheel on a straightway. It sent me into the tape, breaking a post and thankfully nothing more than that!!! I didn’t see that one coming. It also decorated my already messed up knee with some nice tire burns. Not sure how I just didn’t flat out eat grass. But that did throw a wrench into things as I was in the middle of warming up and now had to not freak out (wasting precious energy) and get back to the team tent ASAP without blowing a gasket (it was hard not to try and get there as soon as humanly possible). So 20min before race start I calmly walked back to the tent and got a new wheel from our team mechanic. Whew!
At the start line in proper fashion out of the 42 or so Elite Women I got to be on the last line this time or at least it was darn close! But despite a poor starting position I was able to get into the top 10 within the first few corners. Thank Heavens!
I was having the time of my life racing out there. The course wasn’t feeling like velco or overgrown grass as it has in the past to me and I was happy about that. At one point I even thought they may have cut the grass super short for us. Yep, was feeling the love out there.
Things broke up into a group of 4 up front then a group of 3 then the next group of 4 that I was in. We were charging hard trying not to let the gap grow ahead of us. It was a blast and I was having so much fun!!! Hard in our charge we shed two members of our group. While sitting in 9th and 10th position with 1.5 laps to go I had just gotten a gap on the other gal and I was making headway and loving life. Then all of the sudden BAM, my rear tubular comes off on a straightaway. I kept riding down the straight and rounded the corner unsure of what was happening and chanting to myself “No No No No, Not now!!!!!” because I knew something was way wrong.
This really couldn’t be happening???!! But it was.
I rolled the tubbie back on hoping to limp it along to the pits to get a bike or wheel change. That worked for a while until the course got ever so slightly bumpy and it bounced off again. Then I was left to run but I had a choice now that I had gone from 9th and was slowly slipping backwards as girls passed one by one. My choice was to either sprint to the pits or keep it mellow and trot. I chose trotting because I had a full weekend ahead of racing in WI in a few days that was sure to be tough!! I needed to not expend any extra energy when possible today. You sometimes have to pick your battles and weigh out the costs and bennies of doing so.
I finally got to the pits and was able to get a wheel change with Mavic. That seemed to take some time, quite possibly a few minutes but I was just happy to get back on my bike to finish up the race the best I could. I think when you are standing there in the middle of the race waiting for your bike to be ready, watching girls fly by that even a second seems like an eternity. By the time I got rolling I had slipped back to around 30th and was still left with 1.5 laps to go.
Great, getting some sweet UCI points for coming in 9th was out of the question but I still had the motivation and desire to finish as strong as possible and started to make my way back through the pack doing everything I could to get as close as possible to where I was. And it was interesting because in that moment of furry trying to make my way back up front knowing that realistically this wasn’t going to happen I heard a Lady Gaga song playing over the loud speaker “Just Dance, it’ll be ok!” And I thought, yeah you know, everything is going to be ok. This is ok I will just have to make it right in Madison. Never knew the church of Lady Gaga could be so enlightening! : )
By the time I crossed the line I had made it back up to 22nd. MEH! Lame especially considering how well the race was going prior to the tubbie rolling. Oh well. And, not a minute later I was throwing up from the effort. And that felt good! What the heck is wrong with me!!!!!?? I have never had a more reliving throw up in my life. Totally bizarre.
But I will be honest that it did tear me up inside to not get that Top 10 result on paper. That really sucked because I really needed to do that for myself. I knew that I had what it takes and would eventually get a solid result this season but to have that on paper to prove you can and did is something totally different. Dang it!!!!!!!
We then got packed up and headed back to host housing only to get stuck in Vegas traffic at 1am. Only in Vegas!! Just wish I didn’t have that 8 am flight out to Madison the next day. OUCH.
Some of the Hudz-Vista Subaru team stuffed in a car on the way to the race with pedals going into our ears. (R to L: moi, Sue, Nicole, Lisa)
Here is a clip of the Cross Vegas race. For those that don't know what barriers are but hear me talking about them, check them out at around the 1:20 mark.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
But luckily by the time we had to be racing at 3pm I had enough time to work my knee into full motion and was able to weight bear again. It actually wasn’t that bad by that time but I wasn’t sure how running with it was going to work out since there was a long beach run we had to do in the race! Yikes.
Picture of the venue on the water before everything was set up
Despite all that was going on with changing tires and wheels (I was NOT about to use my set up from last nights race in the mud today!!!) and the knee among everything else I was really super calm before the race. So calm in fact that I only did one lap of the new course. ONE!!!! And it didn’t even bother me that I had only done one. It was like I just knew things were going to be ok.
And they were. I lined up on the last row again. My brother and Chris were right there to cheer me on (they were there last night too!!), lend a hand and give support which was awesome.
The gun went off and I made my way up to the super front of the race by the first corner. Alrighty then!! Now we are talking. The mudder tires and mudder skills were working much better today which was a good thing since it was super duper muddy. It even started pouring mid race after shining sun on us for the first part. Crazy weather! I was sitting in 7th for a while and made my way up towards 5th but the sandy run section got the better of me and I went back to 7th. It was a full on duking it out session for those spots I tell you. It was so fun and awesome to be back in the mix! 7th was maybe not exactly what I was capable of but given the long running sand pit sections, I will take it!
I didn’t get to race Cyclocross last year as I wanted to and planned to and I cannot tell you JUST HOW MUCH FUN I am having right now. Nothing beats the passion that has come to the surface again along with a great team, Hudz-Vista Subaru, who supports my endeavors with awesome support and great equipment. A huge shout out to all those that gave me the opportunity to get in the saddle again and rediscover what I had lost and wasn’t able to do during 2009.
After the races are over it is always a little time for some rest, relaxation and some fun! That night my best friend from preschool came up from Lakewood to hang with me and the gang. It was so great to see her. She even got to meet some of my team which was very cool.
Here is Jon B earning his keep at the Sherwin household, lending a much needed hand.
I decided to see my Aunt at her assisted living facility she was in. I hadn’t seen her in a few years and she has a bit of dementia now. She is my moms only sister so seeing her was a big deal and a huge priority. Mom would want me to visit and I really wanted to. I'd been far too long.
We were told to expect anything from my aunt as things can vary from day to day. But we were blessed on this day with an aunt who immediately recognized my brother and I and then started crying with joy. She then immediately perked up and we had a wonderful conversation. Absolutely wonderful.
The hard part was leaving. Not only did my aunt look like my mom to me now, she was the closest thing I have to mom and I had to walk out the door and perhaps never see her again. How hard is that? It’s super hard. I cried the whole way home. But really I just needed to see that this day as a blessing and nothing to cry about.
The rest of the day I got in a beautiful ride, riding over to my brothers house for dinner. We got to just sit and hang out and I got to know my niece a little better which is always a wonderful thing! Being able to drop in on family while on the road racing sure is a GREAT thing!! I love what I do!!
A little post race interview with a very flattering thumbnail....or not. Gheesh. Makes me laugh though everytime I look at it.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010
I am not sure that the week leading up to the first big cross races of the year could have gotten any crazier. Seriously insane but yet totally fun and awesome week!!!!! Parts were coming in for our 3 bikes (I mean why get only 2, when you can have 3 right?!), getting things built up at the LAST POSSIBLE second. When I say, last possible second I mean not getting home till 11pm Thursday when you still need to pack in order to leave on your flight for the races THE NEXT MORNING!!
All final bike parts came in Thursday afternoon and I was to leave on a plane Friday morning for 10 days. Oh boy…… Can you say sweating bullets and freaking out a little? I think I burned every favor I had coming to me from the bike shops (if I had any at all) that day.
Yep, Revolution Mountain Sports and Binghams to the rescue on that one. Revolution built up 2 bikes in a few hours!!! BIG sigh of relief there.
Then I still needed to have the bikes fit to me and it was 6pm. Luckily Chris Tolsma HAPPEN to be closing Bingham’s Cyclery that night. HAPPEN to be.
Here is Chris T around 9pm at night doing the last minute fit to my bikes. In this pic he was sawing off the seat post. I just couldn’t stand there and watch because that stuff makes me nervous so I took a pic to keep my mind off the “Handsaw to carbon frame action.”
I won't even touch my bikes unless this guy has fit them. I trust his judgment like no other. He always says anyone can do it but do they use the same measuring tape, do they eyeball it the same, have they been working with me on my fits for 10 years now? I think not!! : ) As much as I would like to think his right, I just prefer to have him do the trick because simply put, Chris rocks!!!
So yes the week leading up to the first couple races in WA was insanity at its finest. But fun insanity!! Just can’t let all the stuff get to you I have learned. Just roll with the punches because pretty much guaranteed, that wasn’t going to be the last punch! And you just learn to expect the madness. After being in the bike biz racing now for 10 years there always has to be a crunch time so you prepare mentally for the email inbox to load up with huge changes from second to second (same with your voicemail) and you go with it. I mean come on its bike racing after all!
After a super late night up packing just “stuff” I was lucky that our team mechanic Tom Hopper was heading to our house from Boulder, CO to pick up the bikes. Not sure how I would have packed bikes too without having stayed up most of the night. In fact Tom wasn’t even planning on staying with us until a few hours earlier. Thank god he changed his plans.
I got on the plane the next day fully packed and ready for a full 10 days of meeting some new teammates, learning how my new Cyclocross team operates and of course racing too. In fact, 5 races in 9 days were upon all of us.
Not only was I flying to the first 2 races of the year, I was flying to my hometown back to my family. Gotta LOVE that action!! My brother lives across the street from the first race on Saturday and just down the road from him sits my mother in law and her sister who were a 4 minute bike ride for the course on Sunday. Really? That is just way too convenient, plus its home!!
As for who was going to be at this big first race of the season: Jon Baker and I were bunking at Chateaux Sherwin, Sue B drove up from Portland and Tom H (mechanic) and Jake Wells were staying just down the road. 4 racers plus Tom.
I got settled on Friday after my flight and went for a ride on my trusty steed that collects dust at Chateaux Sherwin (our race bikes were still enroute to WA at this point). The ride was awesome, the legs felt dare I say phenomenal and I just knew. Just knew that I had what it took place well in tomorrow’s race. That is rare feeling for me these last couple years so to have that back was awesome.
Too bad I couldn’t work it out at the actual race the next day. What a freaking tool bag I was. I started on the last row which I expected after not having any points from last year due to not being able to race in 2008 …..and off I went. Life was good, I was feeling the love in the legs, mind, heart and soul BUT…
…I had THE WRONG tire set up for mud conditions. In a haste among many last minute changes I brought up my old Reynolds Clincher wheels that had my training tires FROM THE LAST 2 YEARS ON THEM. OMG what was I thinking?!!! I wasn’t. I was basically riding slicks because the tread was so gone on them. I should have brought up a fresh pair of tires but I wasn’t thinking clearly when I left. All I was thinking at the time was "" Working wheels – check. Tires that hold air – check." Full on rookie move and boy did I pay the price during the race.
While this was going on the team was frantically getting our new Reynolds Tubulars shipped and glued up for the next big race to take place in Vegas on Wednesday. I was going to be happy to see those!!!
During the race this opened up the door to slip slide, fall, bang in to things, take myself out, take others out (so sorry!!). It was a total as we say in the biz “S*** show”. I couldn’t stay upright in the mud to save my life and was losing confidence about my skills with every lap. I had worked my way up into the Top 10 right off the bat in the race but as the race wore on I might as well had just stood on the side of the course waving those that made a good tire choice ride on by. Toolbag. But as the race continued I fought and fought to stay upright in the pouring rain and ended up 12th.
Blah, not what I was looking for. Oh and I was left with a lovely souvenir of a knee that was popped open like a tomato when I hit a metal pole. One more layer down and it would have needed stitches. That left me not able to walk the rest of the night. Lovely, good thing I didn’t have to race the next day, oh wait, yeah I did.
Sue B. took 3rd and Jake and Jon B took 9th and 20th in their Elite Men's race!!!
Here is a post race interview
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010
....would do anything for someone else
....was kind enough to pay for a surprise latte to give to the serviceman behind her at Starbucks to say "Thanks" (she always did this!!)
....would did her best to "Forgive and Forget"
....would hold a door open for you even though she was ready to fall over with stuff in her own hands
....would donate $, goods or time if she could
....would pick up something a stranger dropped, without hesitation in order to help them
....would always follow the rules
....would NEVER lie or even fib for that matter
....was involved in many community efforts
....did her best to keep smiling
....would come to your aid at anytime, anywhere, no matter what the price
....was thankful for everything she had including friends and family
....was strong willed
....cared selflessly for my dad until the end
....wouldn't hurt a fly
....was duty bound
....lived her life knowing where she wanted to be in the end (with god)
....fought arthritis and infections to until the very death of her.
Mom you were so strong, generous and kind. I was so lucky to have you as long as I did - you were the BEST role model I could have ever asked for!!! Thank You!! Thank You! Thank You for being in my life!
Monday, September 6, 2010
I am excited to announce my new team for this coming Cyclocross Season!
The Hüdz-Subaru Cyclocross Team!!
I am already so impressed with their commitment, organization and their motivation to grow and expand the team and sport of cyclocross. I cannot wait to meet all my new team members (some who I know already and some who I don't know but certainly will soon!!).
I am really looking forward to a great season with a great team and am SO THANKFUL for their support and their belief in me.
The first big race of the season is next weekend in Redmond, WA followed by Cross Vegas a few days later and then on to WI only days after that. Can't wait!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The course was pretty darn fun consisting of a barrier section (where people needed to be reminded that they were supposed to go OVER, not around - I love it!!!), some of the tightest turns I have ever dealt with on a cross bike and a nice little quick run up where once you got to the "top", it was still going up. Can you say red red RED REDLINE on that one, especially this early in the season! Definitely tasted my dinner again on that one a few times. Luckily after that part there was a quick downhill that you could descend cross eyed and at least recover 1 or 2 heart beats on. Oh, lucky us! : ) Then on and into the twisty singletrack with the sun setting directly in your face. You like riding blind around corners while trying to keep up your speed? Then that was the place for you. It is amazing what the mind remembers from the first lap when you were actually able to SEE what you were riding on in that section. I just pedaled and prayed in that part in the final laps!!
A solid 45min later I was left with almost 800 calories burned, a dry mouth, tight lungs and soreness already settling in. It is always nice to get that first race out of the way but this time that first race just plain felt good (in a sick and wrong way of course). The guys all kept me on my toes as I was expecting and thank heavens for that. Nothing like the drive of someone on your wheel to keep you pedaling hard to try and shake em. Racing on the rivet was just what I needed!! And oddly enough there were moments in the fury, craziness, pain and competitiveness where I felt an absolute calm - something I haven't had happen in a long time. It was a wild experience to feel the mind connected to the body in that moment. It was probably the highlight of the race and I will certainly be working on having more of those moments!