Sunday, June 12, 2011

UT State MTB Championships - Deer Valley, UT

Deer Valley Resort still has plenty of snow at the base!

I did learn my lesson last week.  What a race today!!!  I am pretty excited to have just won the Utah State Championship race.   

The Pro Women’s field was comprised of some strong Utah talent along with the current Australian XC and STXC National Champion who had just arrived into town.  It was anyone’s guess as to who would roll across the line in first…..especially mine after last weekend.  I had to screw my head back on straight after that one and I luckily I was able to just in time.  It actually took me a while to get my body back after digging such a hole at the Teva Games and that meant doing intervals on consecutive days late in the week.  GREAT – not the best way to prepare for a race but maybe it was?!!  The body is always changing to keep one guessing!

How things can change from week to week, day to day, hour to hour and…. ok, even year to year in this sport.  This is why you rely on yourself, your race knowledge and your training to keep plugging away at what you love to do, because you never know.  What worked one time may not the next and visa versa.

Cool award/keychain

The race started with a super steep climb right off the bat.  It was similar to the start of MTB Nationals in Granby, CO last year.  You also got to hit this steep section right after standing around for race start and getting warmed…..ugh…DOWN.  Ouch.  But this kind of scenario is what got me last week at Teva when I went for it on the climb right away, so this week I decided to just chill–ax on the climb and ride my own race up it and go from there.  The climb was short lived so this idea was not such a bad one. 

Off the line I settled into my own rhythm, then started the climb and purposefully did not redline (this is pretty much a first in my career to do this).  It was hard to hold back but I was seriously scarred from last weekend so it wasn’t THAT hard to do.  I knew my body would be happy I did it this way since we were at 7100 feet!

Katherine (AUS) was able to get in front of me on this section which allowed me to see my competition for the first time as she was wearing our version of the Stars and Bars jersey, but for Australia!!  Ah heck ya, this was going to be fun!!!!!  Ok, I know that is just sick and wrong but I was feeling good, was ready to race and was ready have some throw downs going on while I was at it.  And that is exactly what I got. 

I kept her in sight until we got down to the bottom of the Deer Crest Chairlift and that is when I used a solid transition to the next climb and big gear to push past her.  I didn’t get too far in front as we made our way back up to Deer Crest and on up to the top of Heinous Hill.  There was PLENTY of traffic from all the other fields to get through which added and interesting element to the race.  That was almost half the battle trying to time your attacks to get through the other categories safely and effectively.  Don’t want to burn a match unless you have to and it needs to stick if you do!   As I went through other categories she was quick to follow always keeping me in sight.  It was great!

That kept me on my toes and forced me to push harder on the climbs and DH for the rest of the race allowing me to grow a big enough gap to seal the victory!!!!  It has been a while since I have been the Utah State Champion and it feels good!

People kept telling me I had the "Eye of the Tiger" look.
Thx for the pic Melissa Perry!

It was so nice to feel so confident in a race and feel like myself again as compared to last week.  In addition, I can’t tell you how good it feels to completely and whole heartedly depend on your bike and equipment 110%.  When you are ripping down the DH taking corners in the woods like a bat outta hell you HAVE to depend on your equipment!!!  From your tires, frame, wheels, to the proper shifting all the way down to your grips and pedals.  The Stan’s NoTubes EliteWomen’s Team is so lucky to have some of the best product out there which makes it easy to just simply......race.
Bump skiing anyone?  June?  Really?  Wow.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Teva Mtn Games - Vail, CO

It had been a good long while since I had seen my Stan's NoTubes team and I couldn't wait to see everyone again!  I also couldn't wait to pick up all the goodies that were waiting for me in Vail which included a set of ZTR 29r Race Gold rims that Stan's NoTubes was kind enough to send our way!!! 

1345g and solid - bling bling!
This down jacket weighs just over 0.5lbs is all and I could stuff it in a pocket!
We were also collecting many other goodies while in Vail like more Stan's sealant (of course!!!), more Schwalbe tires to create the most bomb proof combo of tires and wheels out there, Ti King cages some of the lightest in the biz at 28g, Patagonia outerwear, Stan's Bamboo Socks, and some pink Sharpies to label our water bottles with too!  Our sponsors couldn't be more generous this year.  Thanks to everyone who is supporting the Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team!

If you haven't been to the Teva Games you really have to just GO.  It is one huge event filled with everything from Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Photo Contests, Dog Jumping, Fishing, Rafting, SUP, Running and of course Riding!!  People come from all over the world to compete in their respective disciplines.  It's pretty amazing and really fun to see so many athletes from all the different sports. 

On top of all the contests, there is also a huge expo area that goes on for light years.  You will get lost and turned around in Vail Village I guarantee it.  There is so much to see, do and even eat!  Choose from expo vendors such as Chipotle or go to a Vail restaurant and dine on their patio.  What a great atmosphere!

On Friday I headed to the venue to pre ride the course and I liked what I saw.  What I was most impressed with was the fact that they were able to hold a mtb race at all this year given the amounts of snow and bad weather that has been affecting all of us in the west.  My new wheels that I was testing out for the first time were awesome.  Stiff, responsive and light.  The Stan's 3.30 Ti Hub is just the icing on the cake. Stan's NoTubes does such an amazing job with their technology!!

The course was short and condensed with 900 feet of climbing per lap.  It was surprisingly NOT muddy at all, as those in charge had been clearly busting their buns to create a flawless event that would go off without a hitch. 

That said, my race DID NOT go off without a hitch.  What happened is beyond me although I think I have an idea.  I prepared as I always do in the days leading up. I had descent sleep, a great place to stay, our awesome team mechanic Jimmy was there to make sure the bike was ready and generally, all signs getting up to the start line were pointing to a great day on course. 

I could not have been more dead wrong.

The race started and I was right up there in front where I needed to be and about 5-10 min in without warning I popped.  I am still not completely convinced that I actually blew but I am going to guess that I was ready to but knew enough to lay off the gas before I actually did.   

Once this happens or comes close to happening as in my case, it is all over.  I went backwards.  In fact at that moment I don't think I could have even pedaled backwards if I had wanted to.  I had NOTHING.  Nothing at all to give.  At that point my legs felt empty and hollow and if negative watts could be produced, I was producing them.  It felt like I hadn't trained in a year and decided to come race Pro.  What an awful feeling but I did it to myself off the start line at 8232 feet.  I should have known better.

As I pedaled my empty legs around in circles everything screamed at me to stop.  My mind was relentless with bad self talk and the seething pain in my legs was almost completely unbearable as I made my way around the course.  My heart rate wasn't even a factor because I couldn't push enough to even get my heart rate high.

So I rode. I JRA'ed (Just Riding Along) this race.  My legs were jello and I couldn't push.  The thought of having to go around 4 times on this loop was almost more than I could bear so I just chose to concentrate on whatever was in front of me at the time and to NOT think about the big picture that I really had a good 1.5 hours of pure suffering still left.  It is these kinds of races that make those races that seem "easy" all the more sweet.

I prayed for a mechanical or anything to happen to just save me from my misery but our darn team mechanic is so dang good that nothing happened.  : )  I am not sure I should thank Jimmy Deaton or not?!!  Hahaha!! 

I somehow slopped it across the line in 11th place and went straight to the car where I curled up and couldn't move for about an hour.  I couldn't stretch, I couldn't eat or drink, I couldn't get out of my clothes - I was a wreck.  And I knew that not being able to do these things for recovery was going to compound the issue!!!  Aye yie yie.

I finally mustered enough energy to go to Garmin tent that was centered in the middle of Vail Village.  They had given me an Edge 705.  Tools such as these are great in a race when you are going good and you see on your screen what you need to accomplish in order to be better (like trying to keep the same average speed each lap).  But they are even more valuable when you have a bad day because every last little bit of information is recorded and as much as it hurts the ego to look at that stuff.....YOU HAVE TO.  It is what will make you a better rider and racer in the future.  The Edge 705 couldn't have come at a better time in my season.  And on a fun note, I hit 34.1mph on some of the dh.  At least I was going fast somewhere!  Stats like that are interesting to see and all with only one push of button.  Thanks Garmin!!!!!

In addition to all these fun things that I acquired at the Teva Games, The Sherwins were also adorned with some Teva being the Teva Mtn Games and all!  I think I was just actually felt sorry for after my race. Hahaha!!  Mine are so comfy that I have literally been wearing them ever since I got them!

On left: Teva Men's Links  On Right: Women's Teva Brea TMG

At least I wasn't the only one at Teva Games just whooped
Once back at base camp with the team that night I still could hardly move or do anything really.  Even on our team ride the next day in Eagle was not a pretty sight but it was fun to get out with the ladies and ride some singletrack!  Jimmy also gave us all a great downhill lesson along with drills to do.  I will gladly take advice from Mr. DH and Hall of Famer himself.  That was pretty cool. 

(l to r: Shannon, moi, Zeph, Kaila)
I am now looking forward to moving on from this and not letting it get me down.  It was just one race among many that I have done and will do in the future.  Lesson learned.  Case closed.  Don't redline at altitude.

Posted at the coffee shop in Eagle, CO