Thursday, April 09, 2015

Welcome back to endurance training...

Last week was my first week with longer rides and I swear I'm still recovering. I think my legs/arms/everything went into shock. It seems absolutely crazy that two weekends from now I'll be racing a hundred miler. Eek!

I'm hoping the rain stops as I have a long ride to do tomorrow. And now that I'm no longer training for a race in Scotland I don't feel the need to ride in the rain...ever :-) Then on Saturday I'm off to speak at a ladies night in Fort Wayne. I think the event sold out with 120 ladies and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Be back the meantime check out the instagram contest that Grand Rapids Bicycles is holding! The contest ends April 20th so there's plenty of time to post pictures!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Barry-Roubaix race report!


I always get ridiculously nervous for Barry-Roubaix. I'm not sure why but I think its a combination of the sheer awesomeness of the event, combined with the fact that 3,000 people compete in it, combined with the fact that it's a local race. I wanted to represent!

Jill and I arrived in Hastings a little over an hour before our wave was scheduled to go off. We had already picked up our race packets the day before (during our GRBC finish line recon ride) so there was no rush. After the Birkie debacle (where we almost missed the start) we already felt like we were winning. All we had to do was finish getting dressed, run to the bathroom a million gazillion times and then head to the start line.
GRBC had tents on both sides of the start line which was really nice for shedding layers. However, it was SO cold out so I really didn't have to shed any layers. I think temps were hovering in the low-20's at race start. After wishing all of my teammates good luck it was time to line up with hundreds of other racers. Barry-Roubaix is one of the first races of the season and everyone was excited/nervous. I know I was!

After a few moments of chit-chat we were off. Our start was controlled but picked up speed as we hit dirt. I had to multitask by staying with the main pack but also watch out for potholes that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. My legs felt kind of dead but I ignored the feeling and kept trying to hammer. It wasn't long before I was climbing the 1st of the 3 sisters (series of 3 hills that are one right after another).

The roads were in perfect condition and I was so happy that it was sunny. I was using a hydrapak with Carborocket (yum!) in it and was shocked when I went to take a drink. The liquid in my tube was completely frozen and I couldn't get anything out. I couldn't believe it.

Actually, let me take that back...

I could believe that the water in my tube froze because it was cold out AND it happened to me all winter. What I couldn't believe was that after an entire winter of racing and having my water freeze I managed to do it AGAIN (at the end of March).

I started to get very, very thirsty towards the middle of the race and downright bonkish by the end. I spent the last 10-miles looking at other racers back pockets and wondering how much food they had left...haha. I'm always happy to see the finish line but this time I was EXTREMELY happy to see it.

The Barry-Roubaix is a great race. It's a total hammerfest and the hills hurt...a lot. However from start to finish the race is top notch and the after-party is so much fun.
Wearing my new Velocity USA hat...that's me at the bottom :-)
So happy to be on the podium with these awesome ladies. The first year that Barry-Roubaix had a fat bike class there were 2 females. This year we had 16!!!
As happy as I was to take the win I was even more happy just to hang out with my teammates after the race. All of my teammates had great races and I was so proud of everyone. If this is any indication of what the year is going to be like we are in for a lot of fun :-)

Next up for me is TRAINING and lots more TRAINING. I have the Cohutta 100 coming up at the end of April and I am nowhere ready for it. Last year I died a thousand deaths during that race. There's a good chance that might happen again this year :-)

And then one month after Cohutta is THIS RACE...EEK!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fat Bike Birkie race report!

Well it's official. My winter fat bike season is over. There were times when the season seemed to drag on forever (when my tailbone hurt) and there were times when I was having so much fun that I felt like every time I blinked another week had gone by. I had bad races, good races, and great races and learned something new every single time I raced :-)

I'm SO excited for long summer nights, riding on dirt and training hard for some big races this summer. However, I'm going to miss the craziness of winter racing and everything it entails. Checking weather forecasts 100 times a day, trying to figure out the perfect layering combo and most importantly...going around at the start line and squeezing everybody's tires. Because + 1 or  - 1 psi can make or break a race when you are riding in the snow :-)

Actually, now that I think of it I'm definitely ready for a break from the layers and craziness of driving in the snow. But without a doubt I'm going to miss seeing everyone on a regular basis! Hopefully we can have some reunions this summer...

Ok, back to the Birkie! Since Scott was really sick for the Polar Roll he decided that he was going to drive over to Marquette after the Birkie to get one good day of riding in before the snow melts. That meant taking two cars up to the Birkie. Kind of a pain but it worked out in our favor because we had to transport the series trophies and swag besides all of our bikes. Scott and Steve left bright and early Friday morning and Jill and I left a little later...after stopping for coffee (of course!)
The drive was loooong! We managed to break it up a few times with the usual stops (Chipotle, Starbucks) but by the time we pulled into the cabin the sun was setting and I was tired. After unpacking our stuff, and exploring the cabin, we drove over to registration, ate pizza and then it was time for bed!

There were 9-10 of us sharing a cabin but we all managed to get ready in the morning without bumping into each other too many times. Everyone started rolling out and before I knew it Jill and I were the only ones left in the cabin. This is where things turned a little crazy.

Normally I try to get to the race venue one hour before the race starts (at the very least). I hate feeling rushed and having extra time is always a bonus. I was shocked when I looked down at my watch and realized it was a little past 8 and we hadn't left yet (the race started at 9). Clearly I had spent way too much time in the bathroom :-) We headed out to the car and realized that EVERYONE had left including Scott and Steve (Scott had to get there early since it was the season finale). Normally that wouldn't have been a big deal but we were planning on following...someone. We had zero service so we couldn't look up the address to the Telemark Lodge (race start), we couldn't call anyone, and our Garmin wasn't cooperating.

We headed in the direction that we thought was the right way but eventually we came to a fork in the road (literally) that had a big sign next to it. Jill mentioned that she didn't recognize the sign so we turned around to go in the opposite direction. At this point it was 8:15 and I started feeling panicked. Not only did we have Steve's bike in our van but Steve was sitting 2nd in the series and I was sitting in 3rd. We both had to finish the race or we would lose our spots.

I started looking for a house to stop at to ask for directions. The only problem is that most of the property near us were vacation homes. None of the driveways were one was home.  Jill found an address to a saloon that she saw near registration. We breathed a sigh of relief and headed in that direction. 10-15 minutes later we arrived in the middle of nowhere. We both went from being mildly panicked to freaking out in .01 seconds.

Jill started scrolling through the Garmin's history and luckily found the Telemark Lodge address about 5 pages down. After typing in the address we were on our way. The Garmin said our ETA was 9:05 which was problematic since the race started at 9. I'm not quite sure how we did it but we managed to pull into the parking lot with 7 minutes to spare. The rest is a blur. I remember everyone grabbing bikes, hearing my name being called to the start line and the rest is history. We had zero time to warm up, zero time to go the bathroom but none of that mattered. I was so happy just to be on the course and able to race.

The Birkie course is hard but ridiculously fun at the same time. It's kind of like being on a perfectly groomed roller coaster. There were a lot of downhills followed by uphills where you could get so much momentum going down you barely had to pedal up. BUT THEN there were also some super steep and super demanding hills that made my legs scream. I still had a cold and didn't feel the best but I tried to just focus on staying upright (the snow was getting soft on some of the downhills). It was the warmest race of the season with temps in the 30's and it felt downright balmy. I wore the 45NRTH liner gloves on my hands and was toasty! I also think this was the first race since the Solstice Chase (in December) where my water didn't freeze. Being able to drink during a race...I'll never take it for granted again :-)

Towards the end of the race conditions started to turn mushy and I had one very dramatic fall where I lost control of my bike on a downhill and landed on my face...haha. Landing on snow is much more forgiving then landing on dirt. Hopefully I got all of my crashes out of the way for the season!

Finally I heard sounds of people cheering and before I knew it I was at the finish line and rolled across in 6th place. Whew! That was a tough race. We had 60 women racing the longer distance, by far the biggest female fat bike field yet.
Racing in the winter can be hard. I hate driving in the winter and trying to cram a bunch of races in a short season can be tiring. But it's totally worth it. When I look back at this winter I think I spent the majority of my time racing with a smile on my face. Even when conditions are really hard, fat bike racing is so much fun. Not to mention it introduced me to so many great people. I have so many awesome memories from this past winter.

I want to give a huge thanks to all of my sponsors. This winter wouldn't have been possible without their help. My Salsa Cycles Beargrease makes racing pretty darn easy :-) Thanks to  Grand Rapids Bicycles and Ted Bentley for keeping my bike in tip-top shape and a ton of support. I loved heading into the bike shop Monday mornings with a race report :-) I also want to thank 45NRTH for supporting a all-female fat bike team and giving us top notch support and gear. It is easy to represent a company that makes such great product but the people behind the company are amazing.

Last but not least I want to thank my amazing teammates April Morgan, Chelsea Strate, and Jill Martindale for being so awesome. I'm truly lucky to be part of such a great team. If I had my way we would all have the same summer schedule as well!

Onward to spring and gravel racing (gulp!)

Friday, March 06, 2015

Fat Bike Birkie or Bust

Time for my last fat bike race of the season. The Fat Bike Birkie is the season finale of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series and the biggest fat bike race in the country. I think there are 800 fat bikers signed up between the two distances. That's pretty awesome. 

Full report when I come back. In fact, I'll have to do a summary of the last 3 races that I've done. I meant to blog sooner about them but these last couple of weeks have kicked my butt. Scott got really sick with some sort of cold/bronchitis thing right before Marquette and even though I tried really hard to avoid all of his coughing, sneezing germs,  I got knocked down too. I haven't been sick in a really, really long time so I can't complain...that much :-)

So time for the last road trip of winter! I'm excited to race, I'm excited to see my friends and then I'm excited to be home for a while. After these last couple of months of hurt tailbone/frostbite/cold I am ready to get some good training in. And (I can't believe I'm saying this) I'm REALLY ready for winter to be over. Don't get me wrong, I love winter and I love riding in the snow. But by the time March arrives I'm always ready for it to disappear immediately. Especially because this winter really kicked my butt. Plus our granny greyhound (Naomi) has been having the worst time this winter. She's 12.5 years old and watching her trying to maneuver through the snow and on ice has been painful. I absolutely can't wait for the first warm day when she can just relax in the sun outside. 

Bring on the sun, bring on trail and bring on fat bike rides on the beach!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frozen 40 race report!

Well after a month of sitting on my butt and letting my tailbone heal I was finally able to race this past weekend. I wish I could say that I had this awesome "comeback race" where I felt amazing, was super fast and everything went flawlessly. But that only seems to happen in the movies :-) If anything my race was the exact opposite of "super fast and feeling amazing." 

Here's the low-down...

I left for Minneapolis bright and early Friday morning with my friend Steve and little Lolo. Our mission was simple-drop Lolo off to her new family and then make it to Minneapolis at a decent hour. Lolo was THE PERFECT passenger in the car and slept (and snored) the entire way. I couldn't believe it! Steve and I were very nice and shared the "puppy holding time." Note: I should get friend bonus points for letting Steve hold the puppy because I really, really didn't want to share :-)
I will be the first to admit that I was blinking back tears as we got closer to Lolo's new home. Luckily I didn't bust out crying because that would have been awkward..for both Steve and I :-) I would be lying if I said I didin't get attached to her. I mean, I get attached to dogs that I see in commercials...haha. However, once we arrived at Lolo's new house I was happy. She won the lotto when it comes to her new family and I know she is going to have THE BEST life!
After dropping her off we hit the road again, went to packet pick-up and then settled in at T6 Brent's house (my race home away from home). For the last couple of weeks I had been waking up every night for puppy potty runs and let me tell you...I had zero issues falling asleep that night. 

Even with a good nights sleep morning came way to quick. It was cold out. The type of cold that hurts to breathe. 
From the start I knew that I was going to have a rough day in the saddle. I know I mentioned that I have asthma a million gazillion times on this blog but I'm going to mention it again. I've outgrown it for the most part but it still flares up in really cold weather. I've been really fortunate so far this winter because temps have been fairly mild. That came to a grinding halt at the Frozen 40. Not only was it -4 out but there was a windchill of -20+.

I basically felt like I was riding at Breckenridge or some other place at a higher elevation. No matter how hard I tried to pedal I had zero power and felt like I couldn't get enough oxygen in my body for the life of me. My teammate Chelsea passed me early into the race and I tried to yell good job at her (twice). Looking back it was comical because I was trying so hard to yell and it just came out in a giant whisper. There was absolutely NO WAY that she could have heard me. I watched her pedal away and if I had a rope I would have tied it to her bike. Chelsea totally would have pulled me through the trees...for a while at least! :-)

The race was run incredibly well and the course was awesome but I am not going to lie. I really, really wanted to stop. Seeing the finish line was so, so GREAT! It ended up being 46 miles and I was out there for 4:43:00. Definitely a hard day but oh well. I finished! And the good news is that my 45NRTH teammates April Morgan and Chelsea Strate took 1st and 3rd. What can I say??? My teammates ROCK!!!

A few of my friends were at the finish line and almost immediately my friend Jeff was like, "you have frost bite on your ear. Go sit in the car." I have never had frost bite in my life and I will be the first to admit that it's not normally something I have to worry about here. Like I said earlier,  temps have been on the milder side this whole winter and it's not like I go out on long training rides when temps are in the negatives. Apparently my left ear was slightly exposed and I never felt it. The moment I got into the warm van it felt like it was someone was stabbing me with a giant knife. Holy OW!!!!

Since I didn't know much about frost bite I spent the night "googling" it which is THE WORST thing you can do. After reading a few articles I started neurotically checking my ear every hour to see if it there were any signs of it turning black. It wasn't black but it was swollen and leaking. Gross. Frost bite = scary stuff!!!
Needless to say morale was low on the drive home the next day. Steve and I were both sore, tired, and frost bitten. Worst of all....we didn't have a puppy to cuddle with. 
post race and no puppy blues...
Monday I went to the doctor to get my ear checked out. He took one look at it and was like, "yup, you have frostbite." He was nice but basically gave me the same information that I read online. In fact, I'm pretty sure the printout he handed me was straight from Wikipedia :-)
On the mend 4 days later but still gross. My future as an ear model might be over before it even began...
Winter has not been kind to me this past month. The tailbone and asthma were both due to ice and cold weather but I'm pretty mad at myself for letting myself get frostbite. I should have been more aware. I just keep reminding myself to keep things in perspective. In the long run this is no big deal.  In fact, in terms of frostbite I think I'm getting off really, really, REALLY easy.  Based on some of the pictures I've seen online mine is the equivalent of getting a small burn. 

This coming weekend I'm racing up in Marquette. Scott drove up today with our granny greyhound Naomi and I'll be driving up Friday. I'm not sure how my lungs or legs are going to feel next weekend but I can tell you this. I'm MUCH more equipped to handle what winter has to throw at me!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Throwing myself a tailbone "pittie" party...

This past weekend turned out completely different then I initially thought it would go. First I was planning on traveling to MPLS to race the Loppet. On Wednesday my tailbone was still hurting...grrr! I figured that it would probably be in my best interest to avoid the long drive and decided to go up to Traverse City (about 9 hours closer to home) to compete in a fat bike race up there. I woke up Friday to a "still hurting" tailbone and by Friday night I decided to be smart (for once) and not race. Talk about being bummed out!

I basically spent the whole week missing workouts and freaking out about it. My poor coach and poor Scott :-) I will be the first to admit that I do not handle missing workouts well (even if I know that it's in my best interest). 

So I spent the weekend having a tailbone "pittie" party for myself. Literally.

Let me start out by saying NO we did not get another dog. This cute little puppy (Lolo) was adopted by my friends in MPLS and I will be delivering her to them soon. In the meantime I'm trying to potty train her. I'm totally using Ben and Jeannie to do it because she will follow them outside and watch them. If they go she usually will. It's safe to say that I have never seen my dogs so tired. Jeannie usually LOVES going outside but now that she's been going out every hour on the hour I think our backyard is losing it's novelty :-) 

Hopefully taking time off from training will help my tailbone heal. In the meantime I'll just take lots of puppy pictures and post them. Because who doesn't think this is cute???

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dear Ice, You SUCK!

This past week was definitely NOT a good week from a training standpoint. Michigan keeps having Jeckyll and Hyde weather. One day will be warm and everything will start melting, the next will be cold and all the melting snow turns to ice. Ugh. 
Intervals on slush and ice are always fun! NOT!!!
For the most part I've been able to stay outside and upright but everything came to a crashing halt at the Thursday Throwdown.
The Thursday Throwdown is fat bike Time Trial at a local greenhouse. It's super low-key and a ton of fun. You can find more pictures here on the Rules of Endurance page.  Having a training series like this is really awesome for getting a hard effort in. Last week the course was icy so I decided to take it easy. I hate ice and trying to go all-out on it didn't sound like a good idea.

We had to do 6 laps and right about 2.5 laps in I hit an icy patch on a slight downhill turn and the next thing I knew my bike was flipping out from underneath me, my feet were in the air and I landed directly on my tailbone. It was a very dramatic fall for not going very fast. I hit the ground so hard there was a moment that I thought I was either going to poop my pants or puke my brains out. I kid you not...landing hard on the tailbone SUCKS!!! I'm not sure how long I sat on the ground but it felt like a long time. The only reason why I eventually got up was that I knew my friend Steve was going to be coming around the corner and the last thing I wanted to do was be sitting directly in his path on a bunch of ice.

I'll be the first to admit that initially I thought I was broken. Standing up hurt, pedaling butt hurt :-)

I pedaled when I had to and coasted whenever I could. After a few minutes I realized that if I was able to pedal I was probably just really bruised. So I soft pedaled my way around the course twice more (I had less then 3 miles left) and finished.

I thought sitting around for a while would make me feel better but in all actuality I just started to hurt worse. So I took off, shed lots of tears on the way home and spent the entire next day walking around like a 95-year old lady.

The good news is that I'm on the mend. I'm able to sit on my bike and pedal which is awesome because I've bruised my tailbone once before and I could barely sit for the first 2-weeks. It hurts to pedal hard but oh well. I'll deal.

This Saturday we are heading to Minneapolis for the Loppet race. Racing hard will be hard but to tell you the truth I'm more worried about the car ride over. Luckily I've had numerous offers to borrow one of those "cute, little" donut pillows to sit on. Something tells me I'm not the first mountain biker to land on their tailbone :-)