Tuesday, August 19, 2014

n + 5

You know the rule regarding how many bikes you should own, n + 1??? Where (n) is the number of bikes you currently own and the (+1) is the bike that you want to add to your collection? Well after the Salsa demo day yesterday I'm at n + 5. Technically I could be at even a higher number then 5... but let's not get too crazy.

Long story short: I WANT THEM ALL!!!!

This will surprise no one when I say that fat bikes are a ton of fun. I didn't think it was possible for them to become more fun then they already are...but then I rode the Bucksaw
Please, can I have it??? 

This bike will ride over anything and almost everything. I took this out just as it was getting dark and spent the entire time laughing.  It was seriously the most fun I've ever had on a bike and I felt like I could just CRUSH anything in front of me.  
100% fun. 200% BadAss.
My little sister took out the Blackborow and our friend Rolanda rode the Beargrease. Both were fat bike first-timers and both had a blast on them. My favorite part of the ride was hearing my little sister giggling as she bombed down hills on the Blackborow. It's designed for 5-inch tires...and actually made the Beargrease look tiny.
When I first heard about fat bikes a few years back, I remember thinking to myself that I would like one to ride every now and then. Obviously that changed the moment I got my Mukluk and couldn't stay off of it. Then I got my Beargrease and it's my #1 training bike year round. Now I'm at the point where I feel the need to have multiple fat bikes...n + 3 (at the very least!)

The demo was packed with happy riders and I never got to ride the Carbon Spearfish or the Carbon Horsethief but I heard nothing but good things about them. My Spearfish is by far the best bike I've ever ridden/raced, and word on the street is that the carbon version is lighter, stiffer and snappier. Naturally I want it.
Toni testing the Spearfish over rocks...
The Carbon Horsethief is absolutely beautiful. Out of all of the bikes, I really wish I could have tried this one out. I heard that it's fast, fast, fast.
My friend Tara (farm team racing) whipped past me so fast on the Horsethief I could barely snap a picture!
So, to sum up yesterday...pretty perfect. I was either in the woods riding bikes or standing around with friends looking at bikes. If only every Monday could be like that. And my coach was pretty understanding when I told him that I spent my "recovery day off," riding bikes all day long :-)

Below are some of my favorite pics from the demo...

Luckily I had today completely off because my legs are completely cooked. Not so much from Monday, but because I put in 12.5 hours between Saturday and Sunday. They definitely needed a rest day. 

I have a feeling that the rest of this month is going to fly by and really I need time to just STOP moving so fast for a day or two. Tomorrow evening (Wednesday) I'll be leading the GRBC ladies ride from Merrell trail at 6 p.m. (as long as it's dry), and then on Saturday I'll be teaching a ladies skills clinic at Cannonsburg ski area at 1 p.m. And then Sunday will be Skirts in the Dirt!

PS. There is still time to sign up for Skirts in the Dirt. It's going to be a blast so spread the word!

PPS. I did a blog post for Salsa about the 10 things I learned in 10 years of racing Lumberjack. Click Here to read it :-)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wausau 12 hour race report!

Once again the Wausau24 did not disappoint. I was completely worn down, tired and sad from the week before but I'm SO HAPPY that I went. The whole weekend was an adventure. Getting stuck in Chicago traffic with my two race bikes on the back of my car (SCARY), stopping in Madison for a bike fit from Craig Watson, pre-riding the course in the rain with Jill and Steve, watching Jill get an impromptu tattoo on her butt the day before she raced 12-hours solo, having a ton of fun riding on the course, and going to Red Bud road after the 12-hour race was done to cheer on the 24 hour solo riders.

Racing duo with Brent Gale was a blast...the whole weekend was a blast. We were aiming for 6th place and ended up in 2nd place. Total overachievers :-) I could write pages about the weekend, but sometimes pictures do a better job portraying what happened. So here's a bunch of pictures!

photo by Gary Smits
photo by Gary Smits
Next up for me is Skirts in the Dirt! Inspired by the Beti Bike Bash it's Michigan's first ever all women-only mountain bike race. Spread the word :-) I'll be teaching a skills clinic the day before so it's going to be a busy weekend!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to wear a helmet 101

It seems like July has been the month for Helmet Safety. Not only did I help run the skills course for GRBC's annual helmet giveaway, but Jill and I also have taught a few bike safety classes to a summer camp for pre-kindergarteners. 

We had our last one this past Monday. I arrived WAY too early and entertained myself with helmet and safety selfies while I waited for Jill to arrive.
When Jill showed up we went to the classroom and found out that the kids were just finishing up their snacks. One of the teachers met us at the door and informed us that the class was a bit bigger then last time. "How big?" I asked. She smiled and answered that we would be teaching about 60 kids.  60 pre-kindergartners!!!!!!!

Instantly we were all...
Before we entered the room the teacher had the kids watch a short video on helmet safety. Then it was our turn. We were barely in the door when one of the little girls shouted out to Jill, "why is your bike yellow, pink and blue?"

It had already begun :-)

The first thing we covered was "things to watch out for when riding a bike." One little girl raised her hand and immediately blurted out "CARS!" We applauded. Then a boy raised his hand and shouted, "CARS!" We applauded again. Then the next 5 kids suggested bikes...like motorcycles. It was hilarious. The purpose of the summer camp is to get kids ready for kindergarten in the fall, so that they at least understand the concept of raising hands and listening to the teacher. Most of the kids understood that they had to raise their hands, but the whole waiting to be called on before talking thing went right out the window. So we basically had about 5-10 kids talking to us or to each other at all times. Which, in my opinion, isn't too bad since there were 60 in the room!

Jill showed everyone how to put a helmet on and then we tested them. They LOVED that.

Then we decided to do a drill we thought up (because we are geniuses) where the kids pretended to ride a bike by pedaling their hands. Every time we held up a stop sign they had to stop. It worked at first. But after the second time we held the stop sign up the kids thought it was more fun to keep "fake pedaling." Oops. They were all shouting and laughing...it was impossible to keep a straight face.

I decided to test them one more time about the whole helmet thing by putting my helmet over my face so that they could tell me if it was right or wrong.

Seeing me with a helmet over my face pushed them over the edge!!!

If you look at the kids faces every single one of them started laughing. At that laugh slowly turned into a joyful scream. This happened last year too and I was actually happy that Jill was there to witness it. It was kinda sorta awesome. And for one boy in the front it was JUST TOO MUCH TO HANDLE! He looked up at the ceiling, started shaking his head, and was screaming at the top of his lungs. That's the beauty of being a kid. There are so many times when I wish I could do that...but it probably wouldn't be as cute :-)

That was our signal to leave. I think we got the main message across (always wear a helmet) and once again I had a blast. It's amazing to see little kids process the information that you give them, and then hear the questions that they have. Half of the time the questions are completely unrelated to the subject that is being talked about but that's what makes it so much fun.

As always, I'm completely in awe of teachers and STILL firmly believe that you can never, ever, ever, ever pay them enough.

Now I'm off to Wausau for the Wausau 24. I'm racing 12-hour duo with T6 Brent and I can't wait. This past week was completely craptastic as I lost one of my aunts who I loved very much. She was one of my best friends growing up and my family is still reeling from it. I don't know how a week has gone by already but I am so ready for some serious dirt therapy. I basically packed on autopilot and I have a nagging suspicion that I am forgetting something huge. The good news is that I'll have a day to figure out what it is before the race.

Wausau 24...here I come!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


A few weeks ago I made the official decision to take the month of July off from racing. Mostly because I want to get a good month of training in without having to travel or take any time off...and also because I've run out of money for racing and need to save up :-)

Anyways, at first I thought it would be hard to take a month off but it's already the middle of July. How is that possible? Slow down summer!  I think part of the reason why July has been speeding by so fast is my coach has been keeping me busy with workouts. The last thing I've been thinking about is racing.This weekend I had more pressing concerns, like how I was going to walk up the stairs without collapsing and where I wanted to go for fro-yo.

On Saturday I was out the door fairly early. I had a few tempo intervals to do early in my workout. After that I hit a lot of this...

 and a little bit of this...
By the time I was done I had a little over 60 miles on my fat bike. Legs=tired!

I was hoping to get a long day on my Spearfish on Sunday but it rained really hard Saturday night. So instead I met up with my little sister and rode out to Grand Haven. The ride out is mostly flat with a few rolling hills, but it seemed like we were pedaling into the wind the whole way there. Of course, once we got to the beach we had to climb up to lookout point :-)
My Beargrease enjoying the view!
By the time we arrived to Grand Haven I had 50 miles already in, so we had to stop at the gas station to refuel on our way home.
Just being my "normal" self. Wandering aimlessly while wearing a helmet and eating beef jerky!
By the time I dropped Toni (my little sis) off and got back to my house I had 100 miles in. My first fat bike century of the year!

Surprisingly enough my legs don't feel too tired today. But that being said, I'm sure I would think differently if I tried to get on my bike and pedal. Thank goodness for recovery days!

Right around the corner is one of my FAVORITE-EST races of all time, the Wausau 24. I'll be racing co-ed duo with Twin Six Brent! This is one of those races that I can do year after year and it never gets old! Last year was my first year racing duo and I learned a lot. I made the mistake of not paying attention to the weather leading up to the race which was a total rookie move. We ended up with a really cool day, which was awesome racing weather but really cold for sitting around between laps. I remember wearing a hat and having to borrow my teammate Aprils jacket in between laps. This time I will be much more prepared :-)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

To Smyrna and back

Today I rode with the usual suspects (Scott, Jill, Steve and Juli) and spent just as much time laughing as I did pedaling. 
We tried to stay on gravel as much as possible because...well, dirt and gravel are so much more fun then pavement!
After miles and miles of dirt roads, a few sprints towards stop signs (where I lost repeatedly), and a few sprints to escape dogs, we reached our destination of Smyrna. Actually our destination was a small bakery/store in Smyrna which happens to have the best no-bake cookies on the planet.
Salsa love!
Most of the ride was at an endurance pace but we did throw down a few times at the "stop ahead" signs. Sadly, I was the only person to NOT win a sprint today. Do you want to know what the opposite of sprinting is?? Me!!!! I suck so bad at it and I do EVERYTHING wrong! My friend Steve actually beat me in a sprint with both of his hands off of his handlebars. How is that even possible??? Scott was trying to give me tips but they kind of went in one ear and out the other. 

However, I did learn a few things. 

1. I need to stop laughing right before I am about to sprint.

2. I need to quit looking at my friends like a crazy person (while laughing) to see if they have noticed the "stop ahead" sign. 

3. I need to quit trying to sprint while in my hardest gear. Trying to sprint with a rpm of 40 just doesn't cut it. 

I hope to get many, many more of these rides in over the month of July, so hopefully there will be some improvement. And I plan on doing all of my gravel days on my Beargrease, because it is by far my #1 training bike. 

And speaking of my Beargrease, by the time I pulled into my driveway I had ridden 75 miles on it. This weekend was a great training block with a little over 15 hours in 3 days. I'm definitely ready for a rest day tomorrow though, because I'm pretty sure I'm going to be dragging!