Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dealer Camp Dirt Gran Prix Short Track - Park City, UT

Women's Podium:  moi, Katerina, Chloe

As if 4 races in 8 days in 3 different states weren’t crazy enough there was one last race I wanted to hit.  It was a 30min Short Track race at Dealer Camp that was taking place at Deer Valley Resort.

My thought was that if I get my act together enough and recover from Saturdays race in Montana the best possible I could maybe pull off this one last race before taking some down time.  The plan was to just wait and see how the body reacted over the few days until race day.  I know mentally I was on a high after placing 4th at the  US Mountain Bike Short Track National Championships and then winning the first Cyclocross race of the season but I didn’t know if I had anything left after lots of car time and lots of intensity too!

Believe it or not, once Tuesday night rolled around for the 6:20pm start I was ready to go!!  What I was really excited about was that some semi foul weather had moved in bringing some sprinkles and thunder.   Plus, I love Short Track too much to miss it, especially when it’s so close and taking place where I have worked for 17 years.  And there was GREAT prize money too.  What’s not to crawl out of bed for!?

The course had a pretty good amount of climbing for a Short Track.  It started on a fire road that took you up to the top where you made some zig zag turns taking you back down and around to do it again.  It was a short 2-3 minute gut wrencher. 

Ready, set,....GO!

We got going and the group stayed surprisingly well together for the first couple laps before completely exploding into our own version of a mtb Time Trial.  When you have a Garmin (mine is an Edge 500) and you end up in a Time Trial race that you didn’t sign up for, you have nothing but data to keep you thrilled.  Up to 8 pieces of data per screen means you can have more fun reading that riding!  Perfect for a Time Trial especially if you have it set up in “Scroll” mode meaning it scrolls at your pre selected pace from screen to screen.  It even will count your laps so you don’t have to!  That is a good thing when you are dizzy and can’t even say your own name while racing.  Will the Garmin Edge 500 pedal for me too??!!  I think it’s getting there! 

With the race now a Time Trial it became a race against my own head.  I had done a lot of racing in the last 11 days and I was definitely on the edge of being fried.  I knew my fitness was still there as my legs were allowing me to move up.  But my head had moments of not wanting to push because I have been pushing my mind and body plenty recently.  I quickly squashed those thoughts as they entered my head and planted dollar signs in their place.  Nothing like that to make you roll across the line in 2nd!!  Pay day!

Dealer Camp was impressively large.

Monday, July 18, 2011

US Mountain Bike National Championships - Sun Valley, ID

US National Championships Short Track Women's Podium

Sitting in your respective room, hermit-like in a massive house at Sun Valley trying to harness any energy you have in your body is NOT what you want to be doing the day before the US Nationals.  Yet, I was.

After racing 10 years + now I know my body and I can tell when it’s not happy or when it’s about to get real unhappy.  I am fortunate in that sense because it allows me to pull the plug, take a step back and try to salvage anything left that my body has to give for an upcoming race.  Sometimes this approach works and sometimes you still end up sick as a dog. 

Although way fun, the lead up to US MTB Nationals was maybe not the best for me travel wise.  I knew I was cooking myself a bit with lots of travel to races prior but that is part of it and its DANG fun too.  When opportunities arise you must partake!!  Part of being a pro athlete is recognizing these things and putting the pieces together in a manner that will work for you, whether it’s when you are planning your schedule for the year or just planning on what you do in the hours leading up to your big races.  Oh and just so you know, the second you get it dialed in….it changes!  That is part of like I said and it’s actually what makes this sport so intriguing and keeps you grasping for more.  There is a reason I have been racing for as long as I have!!!

A view of Sun Valley from the Gondola
I had everything going for me as I sat there in my own private room with bathroom attached and now I just needed to make it work for me.  Our well supported team had 2 team mechanics in Sun Valley, Alex and Jimmy, our never ending working team manager Shannon, my wonderful teammates Kaila, Zeph and Nina and we even had someone to cook and clean for us.  Things really couldn’t be better. 

Jimmy Deaton in the feed zone.  Note the bottle still in mid air.
That said, it is tough when you have wonderful support at the race but your body is not in the right place!!  There is nothing more that you want than to make it all work out.  That is all I had to do this week once I made the short drive up from the Salt Lake City area – RACE and STAY HEALTHY.  Sometimes that is the toughest job of all. 

Cross Country
The body is such a crazy thing. Everything I did worked which means doing nothing worked!!!  I was lucky to be allowed to do NOTHING and just show up for dinner and excuse myself to return to my room each night.  Thank you to EVERYONE!!!
On race day I felt good in my warm up from the first pedal stroke and everything was GREAT from there.  Who would have thought!!!?!
At the line with teammate Zephanie
Well aside from that horrid hill that went straight up a mountain on fire road that we had to climb up 5 times.  500 + feet of climbing all at once in just over ½ a mile.  Ouchy momma!!!!   NOTHING can really prepare you for something like that except for some good ole fashion mtb stage racing I don't think.  Or your Garmin Edge 500!!!  If you knew what the course was going to be ahead of time you could train appropriately using the data from your Garmin since it will record every last detail of a course. Especially for a key race such as US Nationals this is an extremely useful tool to have on your side.  Map it out and train for it!  And since the Garmin Edge 500 weighs only a scant 57g you really have nothing to lose.  That is less weight than my former heart rate monitor and I have the option for 3 data screens that each contain 8 features vs. the whopping 2  features total I had been using on my old set up!!  I would say that is a fair trade indeed!

Garmin Edge 500 tells all:  The main climb was topping out around 20% grade (oh, wait....I didn't want to know that!!)  Haha.

When I first pre-rode the course it dawned on me that no one really trains like this anymore because courses are in the process of really changing.  But in stage racing you are always presented with something of this magnitude at least one time each stage.  My legs were more prepared than I gave them credit for after mtb stage racing in Spain earlier this year.  And here I was looking for a pair of legs to swap out with for the race!!  Well, as it turned out, that wasn’t needed and I really just needed to believe in myself a bit more.  I owe myself a big apology. 
Rock Drop for the fearless.  There was a B line option too for those with brains.  Ok, it wasn't that bad.

Of course, up the hill the first time I was pegged, gassed, and almost literally crossed eyed and I did think “Can I really do this 4 more times??”.  But that dang downhill that was literally ALL downhill  allowed your heart rate to drop to near resting heart rate levels (ok, well, not really) but it seemed that way.  So by the time you got to the bottom, hit the rock drop (totally fun!!!)) and made your way through the rock gardens you had already recovered and was able to convince yourself that going back up for another lap was doable and not going be THAT BAD.  What a sick way to live eh?  What is wrong with racers?!!  : )

Shannon on the dusty powdery singletrack.

The downhill was pretty fun but there was no passing unless a wonderful soul ahead of you was kind enough to let you by slowing down and moving over (you know who you are – thank you; good karma headed your way).  The corners were moon dusty and rutted (I LOVE ruts) and the lead up was fast and packed.  It was a balance of not letting your speed get away from you as you approached each corner because blowing one of those things meant you and your bike were tumbling down the mountain for a while – game over.  By the 3rd lap I had really figured out how to slide around the loose 180 degree corners effectively – a new tool for me!!  Pretty exciting to learn something new that I could do but never tried.
Spectator friendly Rock Garden

As the race went on I only found myself getting faster and faster and was gaining on the group ahead.  That was a nice feeling and set me up well mentally for the next day.  Although I never attached to the group ahead of me I did take 11th place!!  

I have to thank Stan’s NoTubes and Schwalbe for the best set up out there. We were hitting rock gardens and the rock drop without a second thought at unthinkable speeds.  And did any of our team have any issue??  Ah heck no!!  That is one reliable set up!!!!

Short Track

What a great way to end the weekend….on a Short Track course that was extremely similar to a Cyclocross course minus barriers and run ups.

After a busy and bustling morning of gathering all our stuff that we had scattered around in the 5000 square foot house we were staying in (read: we had to text each other to find one another!) we made our way over to the venue for a late afternoon race start under blue skies. 

I don’t know what it is with me but everyone deems me as “Calm Kathy” in most situations and today on the start line was no different.  I have never been one to get all riled up and anxious on the start line.  It’s just another day on the bike I guess…. 

I had a descent call up for the race and plopped myself on the 2nd row behind some fast legs.  I had the opportunity for a first row start (one spot was left open up front) but thought the better of it based on the layout of the course making 2 turns immediately upon start.  That seemed like a recipe for a nice ball up. 

Trying to get away.

The gun went off and 5-10 seconds into the race I heard metal and crashing behind me and even got slightly shoved around  unintendedly.  Oh geez….need to pedal faster now to get away from the mayhem!!   I found myself immediately in the top 10 but what I didn’t tell anyone was that I was NOT going away from this weekend without a podium and that a top 10 today was not going to cut it.  I was bound and determined to make it happen. 

With my legs on boards with this scenario, I made my way up towards the front while sitting on the fast turning pedals ahead of me and looking for opportunities to pass.  About halfway through the race I found myself in a group of 4th place to 6th.  That was a huge reminder of last year’s US Cyclocross Nationals.  I had the same mind set too of that I WILL be 4th and I NEED to make it happen.  When confidence comes like that it’s overwhelming and has so much passion behind it that you can’t ignore it. 

Making my way up to towards the front

After drilling it on the front and then sitting in and recovering I was able to split the group up with 2-3 laps to go.  Now I was alone in 4th and noticed that 2nd and 3rd place was coming back to me a bit at about 10 seconds ahead!!  I then really put my head down to close that gap knowing that time was ticking.  I was taking even faster and sketchier lines and in doing so felt my rim bottom out on the final lap.  It was at that moment that I decided to take my carbon Orbea Alma 29r gingerly around the rest of the corners and chuck the idea of trying to close the gap.  I came across the line in 4th place! 

Having 2 US National podiums in 7 months time I could not be happier!!!    I must thank my sponsors for EVERYTHING that they have done to get me here.  It means the world to me!  THANK YOU!!!!!

That is no road.  That is part of the mecca of bike paths Sun Valley has!

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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Intermountain Cup #6 – Draper, UT

The dry and rippen fast part of the course
I woke up to snow on this race morning! And not only was it snowing at my house it was raining and sleeting the whole 1 hour drive down to the race at Corner Canyon!!  

Who knew that it was going to be cyclocross weather and racing in Utah on May 30th?! I was really happy to have my full arsenal of cyclocross clothing and cold weather gear packed with me. My clothing choice of leg warmers and a wind proof vest proved to be the ticket. Yes, a tad hot on the uphills (that's what zippers are for!) but perfect on the downhills and a great defense for the howling wind and cold.

Off the line I was able to jump in front of the group of Pro women which gave me a nice head wind to contest as well. I wasn't feeling the love on that first lap and was pretty sure that maybe I should have warmed up even longer than I actually had on this cold day - oops. And, that was really proven to me on the second lap when I started to feel better and was in a better groove as I climbed.

The trails were awesome and even muddy in sections which is pretty unique for Utah at this time of the year. There were many parts requiring Cyclocross skills and mudder skills. I felt very at ease on all those sections as I was able to plow through them with not a second thought. It certainly kept you on your toes though....or on your face if you weren't so lucky!

Another thing that kept me on my toes was Sarah Kaufman who is having a great season. She was in it to win it and kept the pressure on. It was a great race in that respect of having to really think about things tactically and to try and figure out where the best places were to really throw down and keep growing the gap. You are never "safe" in any race so growing the gap is always a goal along with winning which I really wanted to do too! 
The wind was mighty making every effort I put in seem almost unsustainable but my body and mind persevered as I came away with another win for this season!
Heading into the mud!

A big thanks to all my sponsors who give me equipment and support that make my world and wheels (Stan's NoTubes Crests of course!!) go around!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Santa Barbara Living

I ran into some very friendly Peacocks on my ride

Every year I think I start this paragraph out the same way…..we are so lucky to have such GREAT friends in SB who open their doors to us allowing us to stay in their home.   We have come out to their house every year right after Sea Otter in order to get away from the mud season in Utah, see friends, hang at the ocean, ride to our hearts content in the sun and get some great sea level training in.  When the sun comes out and starts baking the mountains of Utah is when we return.   We love this open ended journey every year and feel extremely lucky to even have this wonderful option each year!!

A view of the Pacific Ocean

It was downright AWESOME there too with the May weather, the posse of friends, the riding, shopping, dining, nights with wine flowing and just simply….the environment.   We feel so lucky to be able to visit old friends there and to have also made so many wonderful friends that we keep adding to every year.  It’s almost another home away from home now. 

We love this place!

This is the time of year that I just don’t want to end but sadly it has to as all good things do.  That said, thanks Eric and Kristin for another GREAT GREAT GREAT time in Santa Barbara.  We will miss ya and we can’t thank you enough!!

Chris's hang out for most of May while he Kiteboards
If there is a snake to be seen, I am always the one to see it

Monday, May 2, 2011

Idyllwild Spring Challenge - Idyllwild, CA

Idyllwild Singletrack
Just outside Palm Desert up in the mountains at 5300 feet sits the town of Idyllwild which offers up some of the best riding and racing I have yet to come across.

The views in Idyllwild
The cross country course was a 27 mile loop course of some sweet buffed out singletrack.  And that’s no exaggeration….it’s awesome and I highly recommend checking this place out!  This weekend’s stage race would begin with the long cross country on Saturday and then end with the shorter Time Trial and Super D events on Sunday. 

This Road Runner at the house kept us entertained!

My hubby Chris and I were staying in Palm Desert with family and the weather differences were huge between there and Idyllwild.  It would be 70 degrees in the early morning when we left for the race but then it would only be in the 40’s once we got up into the mountains!  It was quite the climate change in a 1 hour drive!  Rest assured though it was a beautiful weekend with highs in the 60’s.  Perfect race temps!
Need I say more?  Ok..."Ahhhhhhhh"
Cross Country

In addition to the cross country course being fabulous it also offered some superior climbing.  There were three hills, all of which had Queen and King of the Mountain awards and primes for the first lady and man to the top of each one. 
Race Start

I punched it as hard as I could up each climb because I was seeing $$$ signs instead of stars like I normally do.  It worked, as I grabbed all 3 Queen of the Mountain primes!!!  Once at the top of the course I had to find my way down to the bottom safely while still punching it up and over power climbs to get there.  I hadn’t pre-ridden this part of the course so each fast approaching corner was a new experience!  There was a lot of DH to be had and after all that climbing I would have to say that we earned our turns!!

As I made my way down the wooded trail the boys pushed me as they always do and they were a pleasure to ride with.  Coming in safely and smiling across the line after a 3hr race was the perfect way to end the day while nabbing some nice cash for the win too!

Time Trial

Sunday was a busy day with two races, the Time Trial and the Super D back to back starting almost right in the town of Idyllwild itself.  I hadn’t pre-ridden either course so getting on these trails early was imperative.  I was able to get a lap in on the Time Trial and get warmed up just in time to hammer out my race lap. 

We were all being shot off the line 1 minute apart with the Pro Men in front and Expert Men behind.  Yikes!  Don’t want to get caught – pressure was on!!

I had a goal of doing the TT in less than 20 minutes but a chain issue requiring me to get off the bike and hang out in the middle of the singletrack to fix it for what seemed like an eternity put me 9 seconds over that goal.  Bah hum bug!   Least I finished!

A good weekend!
Super D

Immediately upon completion of the Time Trial I jumped in the car and Chris drove me over to the Super D to check it out.  I didn’t want to do a Super D without seeing it first and there was little time in between races – we had to rush!!

After taking a good solid look at the course and enjoying every last minute of all the downhill (a Super D is 80% downhill and 20% uphill), Chris picked me up at the bottom in the car and we headed back up to the top for the race start.  They were again sending people off in 1 minute intervals with me being sandwiched in between the pro and expert men.

The goal again for myself was 20 minutes or less for the Super D.  I not only met that goal, I was also was able to catch up to the Pro man ahead of me! 

My Super D wasn’t without incident unfortunately.  Even after pre-riding everything I still managed to blow a corner losing all my momentum.  That was really annoying but I was able to get back on track fast enough to start bombing down the hill again!

A beautiful solid granite award!
A weekend of family, sun, wins, primes, trophies, plaques, medals, money and some of the best singletrack out there was the perfect weekend!  And if it weren't for my sponsors I wouldn't be doing what I love. Thanks to all of them for every last speck of support!

More at home entertainment!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sea Otter Classic - Monterey, CA

Leaving the land of snow and rain

The Sea Otter Classic bike race is always one I look forward to even though it can be highly schizophrenic with its weather. I have raced there in extreme heat when people were being taken away in ambulances from heat exhaustion and I have also raced in the biggest nastiest deepest mud bogs and puddles known to mankind there. You never know what you are going to get!

I like that this race serves as the kick off for me and my ever supportive husband to hit the road together for a open ended journey to CA to visit friends and family, race in warm weather and just hang out by the ocean! He gets a little break from work and that means we get to catch up with each other while driving out to CA after a busy winter for both of us!!

That said racing can be such a blessing as it can take you through the towns of your family and friends. And Sea Otter does just that allowing me to stop off and see my Aunt and Uncle every year. If it weren’t for racing I don’t think I would see everyone nearly as often!

Someone has a great sense of humor!!
After jumping in the car with the threat of snow over Utah and driving endlessly straight across the flats of Nevada we finally got to Monterey, CA on Wednesday. We were greeted with blue skies (that were supposed to stay that way) along with fairly warm weather. Yes!! Goodbye training in the basement!!! Hopefully this will be the official start to the “no trainer season!” The winter has been a good one in the Wasatch Range with tons of snow and I am eager to get out on the roads and trails for good now.

Our host Michael shows us where the locals go near 17 Mile Drive

Sea Otter is a massive race that serves as a multi day trade show and sports festival and there are almost 10,000 participants and 50,000 spectators expected to pack the venue!  Therre are countless vendors and bike companies on hand to showcase their new 2011 product too. And Stan’s NoTubes did just that with their new “29r GOLD Race Rims” that are lighter than light! Stan’s NoTubes always manages to pull off the unthinkable and give every rider and racer a product to “ooh and ah" over!! And lucky me…they are my sponsor!!
The new NoTubes 29r Gold Rims
Being at this event always serves as a place to meet up with your sponsors and learn more about their new product and discover new things about the current product. It is an excellent race to attend for all. You can race, walk around, spectate, visit the booths, eat, ride or do one of other ba-zillion things that go on during this weekend. There is always tons to do for the whole family!!
The Pacific Ocean just off of Pebble Beach

Sea Otter Short Track Race – Monterey, CA

Ever feel defeated before you even start? I was fighting off that exact feeling as I was called up to the line on the last row of 29 ladies.

Today your call up was way more important than normal too. One look at that first off camber, slightly slick and rutted turn that would come 10 seconds into the race and I knew THAT corner would be THE deciding factor in the race. This meant wherever you were once you got thru the off camber section, that is where you stayed for the most part. And that was true for me at least…

Despite the last row call up and being LAST off the line too (what the?!), I found the jagged hole through the sea of women falling, crashing, slipping and carnaging right in front of me and all around me. Thank you Cyclocross skills!!!! In that section I was almost taken off my bike by a wheel above me that slid into mine causing my rear wheel to skip down to the next rut below but I managed to keep it upright. The light at the end of the tunnel appeared as I rode to the top of the off camber hill passing ladies that were running. It was a chaotic scene. 

Once to the top of the off camber hill I had real estate in front of me and behind me which is unheard of only 25 seconds into a Short Track race. Like I said that first off camber turn was the deciding factor for most.

At that point I was thanking my lucky stars that the night before we had dinner with Schwalbe North America to discuss tires and pressures. It had been an enlightening evening and everything I learned I used in the STXC race. That allowed me to have more contact with the course and at the same time have excellent rolling resistance helping me to keep moving forward and to stay on my bike the entire race. Thanks Schwalbe for all the info and support!!!!

Kelli making me suffer for it
The Short Track course was a whole 2 minutes long as I made my way alone around it in 12th place. Kelli E. snuck up on me and threw in some attacks that I kindly returned but in the end her legs and lungs outdid mine. 13th was going to have to do.

Sea Otter Cross Country – Monterey, CA

The start of the race was noticeably hotter than it was during the Short Track Race the day before. I was once again called up pretty dead last but with a very long pavement start it wasn’t a huge deal as there would be time to move up.

After we started I positioned myself in what I thought was a great spot near the left of the pack. Well… it was a good spot until we hit the wide dirt stretch. That’s when, as anticipated people got jumpy, the pace picked up and people were going for it trying to be first onto the “singletrack” that was now only a 100 feet away.

The pack veered left to the shortest line which I just happen to know had the “Grand Canyon” in it. It wasn’t marked as hazardous and it also wasn’t apparent to the eye that it was even there until you were on top of it either. And because of the course pre-ride restrictions I knew not a lot of the people were able to see this section yet. To no avail I yelled at people to not go that way and watched as the pack headed right towards the “Grand Canyon” while taking me with them stuck on the inside. Instead of becoming a carnage number I slammed my breaks on and surrendered while ladies stuck their wheels in it and flipped over.

And that put me LAST into the singletrack. SWEET. Well, at least I was moving with my bike intact I guess…

Chasing back on for the 2nd day in a row

I figured it was only up from there so the fight began to get through the pack as we made our way around the 15min (ish) course 7 times that day. Time was on my side certainly but the long pavement section was not as groups ahead would seem to only get further up the course on that section. As I started to see this occur on the 2nd and 3rd laps I decided it was ideal to “rest” the best I could before the pavement so that I could try and jump group to group on my own. That was the only way to move up otherwise the real estate between me and everyone would just have multiplied. At that point I didn’t even care if I took anyone with me from one group to the next. More power to them if they wanted a free ride up – I had work to do! The sun was beaming down and sweat poured off of me for the next hour or so as I worked my way through the pack one by one.

It was a HOT weekend!!
And while doing so I was dealing with a loud noise coming from my drive train that sounded like a lawn mower. DOH!!! Well, at least it was still working, it just sounded BAD. So between thoughts of possibly having to DNF because of bike problems and being off the back anyway, I had it tough mentally but I hung on for a 12th place finish!

XC MTB race? Yep.

I am pretty bummed overall because I had GREAT legs and instead of racing for real with them I had to use them to chase back on. But that is racing and there will certainly be another race right around the corner!