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 hurt...my 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 :-)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?? Finally...a blog update!

I can't believe that it's been almost a month since I've posted on this poor blog. I don't remember winter being this BUSY before. Last week I did 3 fat bike races within 7 days, had two fun weekends with friends, and then Scott went out of town for a week. The races were a blast and I was really happy with both of my results. More importantly I'm happy to see so many more women racing fat bikes this winter. The field seems to have doubled this year and racing against fast women is just going to make me stronger. It's amazing how riding on snow covered double track can be just as technical as riding rocky and rooty singletrack :-) Every time I cross the finish line I feel like I've learned something new.

We also had our 45NRTH Happy Hour at the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company and then a "Conquer the Cold" ride the next day. All of this fun is making winter fly by and I feel like spring will be here before we know it..unless we have a spring like last year and it will be winter until June :-)

Anyways, it's impossible to write about everything that happened over the last month. From this point forwards I'm going to start doing small updates every couple of days...even if it's just a picture. Expect a lot of cute dog pictures...haha.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite photos from the last couple of weeks....











PS. I also did a radio interview on WGVU about Fat Bikes! Naturally I had to bring my fat bike along with me. Here's the link to the show! I hate listening to my own voice while getting interviewed so I haven't listened to it yet myself. Maybe I'll save it for the next road trip over to MPLS!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Solstice Chase-race report!

And...I'm back. Talk about A LOT of driving and A LOT of fun. I think we spent a total of 20 hours in the car. Luckily we had a few breaks for coffee and Chipotle.

Heading into this race I had no idea what to expect. After a few weeks full month of couch surfing after Worlds I slowly started training again but for a different type of race. I was hoping to do the Tuscobia 75 in early January. To make a really long story short I was really, REALLY broke after Scotland and couldn't sign up. When I finally could it was sold out and I was put on the waiting list. By now I've come to terms that it's not going to happen. Bummer!!! Oh well...if anything I got some good long-ish rides in and I'm going to keep building up on those rides for some early summer endurance races. Throw in some of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series and I'm going to be training hard and racing hard. That's the plan and I'm excited about it :-)

Anyways, back to the race. On Friday morning Scott, Steve, Jill and I all piled into the FatBike-mobile and headed West. Last year Jill and I drove by ourselves to most of the races and I think the ride over was a little "eye opening" for my hubby and Steve. FYI: Yes it is possible to laugh for 9 out of 10 hours!!!
At every gas station stop we perused the aisles for the foods with the highest amount of calories. Jill is racing the Tuscobia 150 and one of the race rules is that you have to finish with 3,000 calories on you. We did find a package of sausage that met the requirements. The only problem is that Jill is Vegan...so IF for some reason she did have to bunker down for the night, sausage probably wouldn't be the best emergency food.

This cookie...definitely not enough calories!
It was dark and cold by the time we reached our destination of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and we were hungry and tired. My pre-race spin consisted of me pedaling up and down our hotel hallway a few times. We went to bed pretty early and I had one of those dreamless sleeps. No nightmares of missing the start or losing socks...hurray!

As always our alarm(s) were all going off way too soon. We layered up, and then headed down to see what our breakfast options were. Part of "race morning excitement" is the continental breakfast. You never quite know what you are going to get. This one was pretty good...I settled on oatmeal, a banana and coffee. Living large :-)

The race venue was less then 10-minutes away and we were some of the first racers to arrive. It was super organized and the registration spot was a barn decorated with Christmas lights. I loved it!!!
Since we arrived so early Jill and I headed over to another heated barn to hang out until our 45NRTH teammates April Morgan and Chelsea Strate arrived. When they finally did it was like a big old fat bike reunion. I am so lucky to be part of such a great team!

Finally it was time to line up! 45NRTH was there with a tent and I felt "oh so pro" being able to hand off my winter jacket. I know I just mentioned how lucky I am to be part of such a great team but I have to mention it again. Words can't even describe how thankful I am to represent such great companies and have such awesome teammates. I was smiling a huge grin at the start...until the promoter said "go" and then that grin turned into me gasping for air.

My start was chaotic at best. There was a bit of a cluster within the first couple of feet. A few people tangled wheels and a few handlebars were entwined. I can't quite remember where I was in all of this but I know I had to put at least one foot down...maybe two. It took a while to get going but once I got clipped back in I started chasing. As painful as it was I remembered how much I love fat bike racing.
Photo Credit: Kurt Barclay//45NRTH
The course had a ton of climbing and some of the doubletrack sections were really bumpy. After about 20-25 minutes I finally started to feel better and settled into a good pace with a few other guys. I was riding along, feeling good, when all of a sudden I hit a patch of ice and then immediately hit the ground. It took a few seconds to get back on but luckily there was no damage. After a lot more hills I was finally done with one lap. Heading through the transition area I was told that April was about a minute up. I knew that my speedy friend Megan Barr couldn't be that far behind along with Jill and Chelsea.

I felt much, much better on the second lap. I caught a few guys and eventually started riding with a guy who set a really good pace. Half-way through the lap I mentioned that I needed to watch out for the icy spot where I crashed and within a few minutes of saying that I was on the ground again. OMG! Talk about feeling like an idiot. I can't believe I managed to crash in the same spot TWICE!!! I freaking hate ice! Luckily my bike was still OK and I wasn't hurt (minus a few bruises and a REALLY bruised ego!)

The second lap seemed to go by faster then the first and before long I was crossing the finish line in 2nd place behind my teammate April Morgan. My friend Megan Barr (Twin Six) finished right behind me in 3rd and Chelsea and Jill finished in 4th and 5th. It was so cool to have such a strong field of women racing fat bikes!
With my teammates April and Jill (Chelsea had to leave early)
Last podium of 2014
I can't say enough good things about The Solstice Chase. The promoters and volunteers do a great job putting on the race. We hung out for a long time afterwards in the heated barn. Outside they had a wood fired stove for pizzas...it was pretty awesome.
Finally we packed up and left and headed to stay with Twin Six friend Brent for the night in MPLS. We stayed up way too late and had to leave way too early. I think the drive back was probably the most painful part of the entire race.

We stopped in Madison for lunch and found a "s'more station!" Talk about a whole lot of awesome!

It felt really great to go out and race. I have a few early season endurance races in the Spring so I won't be doing the entire winter series. I did that last year and it was too much time in the car and too little training. However I'm definitely going to do at least 5 of the races. All of the races are so much fun and so well run...I can't stay away. One thing that The Solstice Chase taught me is that I have a lot of work to do before this race!!!

Next up is Fat Chance! I'm still a tiny bit bummed that I can't race Tuscobia but Fat Chance is an awesome race and venue...I can't wait!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Let the winter race season begin (EEK!)

Happy Friday! 

It's 5 a.m. and I am trying to tie up last minute things before we load up the van and head over to Wisconsin for the first race in the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series. To tell you the truth I've been so busy that I haven't had much time to think about the race. I started a new gig at my favorite bike shop(s) in the world and it's been nothing but awesome. I love everyone that I work with AND I get to spend time riding my bike with really great people. I love it!

One of the things that I'm most excited about is that I'm going to be starting (and coaching) a GRBC striders and Devo team. I ABSOLUTELY can't wait for this. It's going to be so much fun to get more kids out on bikes and working with them on a weekly basis. Plus we are going to be at some of the local races in town and have a pro set-up for them, complete with shop tent, mechanic on hand and juice boxes :-)
Strider bikes are so freaking cute!
Besides being super excited about the GRBC kids team I've been having a really great time riding with friends! Last Saturday the GRBC ladies (and friends) invaded Sietsema Orchards. We had over 20 women show up which is pretty awesome. Especially in December on a Saturday morning. After our ride we hung out, ate fresh doughnuts and had flights of Cider. Yum! More pictures are up on the GRBC blog!
On Sunday I did a 5 hour ride on my fat bike and finished the ride by rolling down to the Midwest Regional Cyclocross Championships with Scott to cheer on our friends. It looked painful :-)

The only un-fun part of the week was having to rush sweet little Jeannie to the vet. On Tuesday I came home from work to find a bunch of plastic containers that were on the counter on the floor, along with a bunch of grapes. It didn't take me much to figure out which dog did it since Jeannie immediately ran to the corner when I got home (plus Ben and Naomi were still sleeping on the bed in the same positions that they were when I left them). 

Here's what you should know about Jeannie. She is the nicest, sweetest dog and when she does something wrong she becomes mortified. When I walked into the kitchen and saw the mess she put herself into the corner.  I "googled" dog and grapes and immediately had a panic attack. After a quick call to the vet we rushed over so that they could induced Jeannie to vomit. 

As it turns out she hadn't eaten any grapes after all. PHEW! I was very, very happy on the drive home and Jeannie was like, "why did we just drive to the vet so that I could puke?" I felt like a really, really bad dog mom. Lesson learned...I will never, ever leave grapes on the counter again. 
They warned me the shot they gave her to puke might make her "loopy." She seemed OK on the way home but the moment we got into the house she headed to the couch and stayed in this position for a few hours :-)
Well time to finish packing. Since Worlds I haven't done much speed work and I have a feeling that this race might be really ugly my friends. Eek! That being said I'm still really excited to see my 45NRTH teammates and do a mini road trip with Scott, Steve and Jill. Naturally this road trip will involve stops for coffee and chipotle. 

Let the winter race season begin :-)

Monday, December 08, 2014

GRBC fun!

How is it Monday already? My entire weekend centered around bikes...which made it really fun...which made it fly by. 

First of all a ton of new 45NRTH product arrived at GRBC. The Sturmfist gloves are THE BEST I've ever used (read about them here)! I've been testing the Sturmfist 5 out since the Iceman in a range of temperatures from low 20's to mid 30's. Last year my hands got cold all of the time but they have been nothing but toasty in the Sturmfist 5. The cool thing about the gloves is that even if my hands get warm they never get sweaty. I can't wait to try the Sturmfist 4 but first it has to get colder here. Minus the one snowy week we had in November the weather has been very mild.

Naturally Jill and I had to model the Toaster Fork and Lung Cookie :-) 
It turns out I'm a horrible model because I'm not wearing the Toaster Fork correctly. It's supposed to go around the face but clearly I was jealous that Jill could cover her mouth and nose...haha.  
Thumbs up for 45NRTH!
Friday we built a snowman in the window, just in time for the Tinsel and Trolley event Friday night. Thanks to Velocity USA this snowman is NEVER going to melt :-)

Clearly we all like the new GRBC military caps!
Saturday I was back at the shop bright and early for the Ada Santa parade and more importantly...Global Fat Bike Day. Let's face it...every day should be Global Fat Bike Day :-) It was a really fun morning with lots of Christmas decorations for our bikes and lots and lots of coffee!

just being my normal self :-)

The parade was fun. We had to ride really slow so we all got to practice our balancing skills...something I clearly need to work on. I think I must have put a foot down at least 100 times. New goal for next year: learn how to do a track stand! After the parade I went back to the shop, ate ANOTHER bagel, more candy, and more coffee. Finally I forced myself out of the warm shop to do my ride. The sun was out and temps were in the high 30's...surprisingly warm for December!

Sunday I had an endurance ride so I took my fat bike out to the beach. Since we don't have snow right now I figured the next best thing was to ride on sand. I arrived at the beach in record time and was patting myself on the back for being so speedy :-)
I had the entire beach to myself and it was awesome. Riding next to the waves will never, ever get old!
On my way back I realized why I was so speedy on my way there. I had to deal with the wind blasting me in the face the entire way home. By the time I finally pulled into my driveway I had been pedaling for almost 5.5 hours. It was a really good workout but now I am pooped. So glad that today is a rest day!

Tomorrow night spin class at GRBC (ada location). We start pedaling at 6 p.m! Hope to see everyone there!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Thanksgiving weekend

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend! I think this was one of my favorites because it was so low-key. The rest of my family went up North so it was just Scott and I. We rode bikes, walked dogs at the Humane Society and made homemade pizza. Technically Scott made the pizza and I helped by eating it  :-) 
Thanksgiving Day ride...brrrrrr!
On Small Business Saturday we woke up really early so that we could ride over to the GRBC Gaslight Village shop for a pancake ride! I will be the first to admit that early morning ride times in the winter are not my favorite but once I was out and pedaling I was happy. The sun was just rising and there was very little traffic on the roads. It was so, so, so much fun! More pictures can be found OVER HERE! As a general rule I will eat pancakes any time of the day but something about riding in the cold makes them taste THAT much better. I think I ate three plate sized pancakes after one hour of riding :-) Yum!

I had big plans to wake up on Sunday as well. Initially my plans were to be on my bike by 9 a.m. so that I could ride out to the last Kisscross race of the season. HOWEVER, when my alarm went off I decided that sleeping a tiny bit more in my warm bed sounded like a better idea..haha.

Eventually I got out and managed to ride a little over 4.5 hours before having to go into work. The air was super swampy but it was warm enough that all I needed was a thermal jersey and vest. However the temperature dropped a ton by the halfway point of my ride and the last 1.5 hours were spent pedaling in the rain. I guess that's what I get for turning off my alarm and staying in bed :-)

Now that it's officially December it's time to start gearing up for the winter race season. What we really need around here is some snow. After spending all summer long of planning and training for 24-Worlds I find myself wanting to do another endurance race. I miss long rides!!! Luckily I do have a mini-adventure right around the corner. Details coming right up (as soon as I figure them out myself!)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Adventure by semi-truck!

Last week winter hit us hard! It was completely AWESOME (minus the scary driving conditions and having to shovel multiple times in one day) and I felt like a kid again playing in the snow with my fat bike :-) Within a few days we had 24 inches of snow dumped on us!

On Friday I met up with Jill to ride Merrell. Conditions were great and I'm pretty sure I was laughing the majority of the ride. I definitely need to brush up on my snow riding skills ;-) In fact, I think I need to just brush up on my pedaling skills in general after taking so much time off after Worlds.
Anyways, after riding a lap Jill and I headed back to the parking lot to find a semi-truck blocking the entrance. Apparently it had taken a wrong turn and then got stuck trying to back out. Oops! Not only was the driver stuck, but so was everyone in the parking lot.

We put on our superhero capes and tried to physically move the semi-truck ourselves. For some reason it wouldn't budge...
The first tow-truck that showed up wasn't much bigger then my van and broke an axle trying to free the semi. Oops! As it turns out all the other hikers and fat bikers in the parking lot were driving trucks or SUV's with AWD. With a bit of an effort they were able to drive up the snowy bank and around the semi-truck. The only people left in the parking lots were the ones who were driving mini-vans. That would be myself and Jill.

Luckily we had provisions...
It started to get really dark so we ended up leaving with a friend and waiting it out at a nearby brewery. Jill brought the important stuff with her. Beer and gummies...you can last a long time with those two items :-)
I finally arrived home 8-hours after I had left. The funny thing is that my total ride time of the day was a small fraction of the time I spent talking and laughing with friends in the parking lot and at the brewery. Winter training is fun :-)

Unfortunately we are now back to where we started...which is with zero snow. Over the weekend it warmed up and rained non-stop so all the snow melted. A few years ago I never would have imagined myself wishing for a long, cold winter but here I am! Come back snow!!!