Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Iceman race report

Before:

A few hours later:

I think those two pictures summarize my race perfectly. I've raced a lot of Iceman's in varying conditions (snow, cold, sun, warm temps). There was even one year where I raced with a broken collar bone that had only been healing for three weeks. However, this Iceman/Rainman/Mudman was by far the most challenging one to date. 

Without further ado...my Iceman race report!

Jill and I drove up early Friday morning to work the Grand Rapids Bicycle Co. tent and meet up with some sponsors.



Working the expo is one of my favorite things to do as it's a great way to see a ton of friends all in the same room. However it's also really tiring. By late afternoon I was DRAGGING and finally headed over to our condo around dinner time. Scott made some pasta and I spent the rest of the evening in a tired food coma. 

We were sharing the condo with Steve, Jill and our friend Mike (Soupy) and discussion centered around wave times and what the heck we were going to wear. While we were all trying to think positively about the weather, (maybe it will be sunny and in the 70's), common sense told us that we were going to be cold and wet. The weather forecast was calling for temps in the low 30's with an 80% chance of rain. Ouch. 

I was extremely excited and had a hard time falling asleep (no surprise there). Once I was asleep though I slept really soundly. No dreams about getting lost or losing my socks...hurray! When I woke up my first thought was the weather COFFEE and my second thought was to look outside. It was dark and raining...surprise (not!)

After a quick breakfast I grabbed my gear to figure out what to wear. I decided to forgo the awesome rain jacket I invested in for Scotland and instead wore a short sleeve base layer, twin six jersey, GRBC vest, arm warmers, shorts and knee warmers. I heat up quickly when racing and didn't want to be too hot. 
P.S. Looking back it seems weird that I was worried about "being too hot" seeing that it was raining and cold out but whatever...

By the time we found parking and finished getting ready I didn't have much time to warm up. To tell you the truth I figured staying warm and dry was more important anyways. With about 25 minutes to the start of the race I started pedaling around and lined up with the rest of Wave 6. Lucky #6!!!

Last year the Fat Bikes all started together but this year we were all separated into different waves like all the other divisions. I had no idea who I was up against but I did know that I was not happy with my placement in Wave 6. Somehow I managed to line up in the very back row. We were all packed together so there wasn't any easy way to scoot up with my fat bike. I just hoped that my legs would feel good enough to have a fast start so that I could move up quickly!

Luckily my legs did feel good. I didn't have any top-end speed by any means but I was able to move up past a lot of riders and was really happy with how "light" my legs felt. After a mile or two on flat pavement we hit the first dirt and we were on our way. Water from puddles was spraying me from all directions and within a few miles I already had a mouth full of mud. The little rolling hills hurt a tiny bit but I tried to use them to pass as many people as possible. Some were a bit sandy (despite the rain) and I was loving the extra traction I got from my Beargrease!  On most of the hills people had to stay either to the right or left but I could go right up the middle!

A few miles in I heard a cuh-razy sound coming from my brakes. Ok, by this point everyone had noisy bikes but mine sounded like a giant boulder had gotten wedged in between my brake pads. It was alarming to say the least. Right about this time the course turned to pure...mud. It was spraying all over the place and I was seeing an alarming amount of wreckage out on the course. There were racers all over the sides of the course walking or fixing their chains or getting up from a crash. It was a little extra work to push my super sized tires through the mud but I had zero issues with crashing or sliding out. 

By the 10-mile mark my chain was revolting! It was skipping all over the place and kept seizing up. I had to get off a few times to fix it which made me start to get really cold. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I had two gears that I could use. My very easiest or my very hardest. 

I stayed in my hardest gear for the most part and I know I pedaled up a few hills with a rpm of 10. It was borderline ridiculous how slow my legs were turning over :-) At first I was frustrated that I couldn't ride as hard as I wanted to but then I realized that getting mad wasn't going to get me to the finish line any sooner. Part of racing is dealing with bad conditions, right???  I was just thankful that I had a few gears to use and that my chain was still working because there were a ton of people out there trying to fix broken chain links or carrying their bikes. So I either spun really, really fast or mashed my brains out. I found myself cheering my chain on more than once..."just hold on a little longer" and "just a few more miles...stay in one piece please!"  

Finally I hit the final climbs and was able to clear all of them. Go fat bike! Then a bit more really muddy singletrack and I was across the finish line in 1st place with a time of 2:36-something. My time was WAY slower then last year but I could care less. Not only was the course a little bit longer but the cold, rainy, muddy conditions made it WAY harder. Anyone who lined up at the start line in those conditions and persevered is a complete rock star in my book! 

I was so happy to see Steve standing at the finish line with my bag of warm clothes and I was even happier to see boxes and boxes of cookies stacked up under a nearby tent. Instantly I put on my sweatshirt, hat and jacket and then made my way to the tent to get a few cookies. Priorities :-) My mouth was chattering uncontrollably so Scott and I decided to leave right away and take the shuttle back to our car. The driver had the heat cranked and it felt so...freaking...good. 

After a really long, scalding hot shower we went back to the venue to hang out with friends and sponsors for the rest of the day and had a blast. Eventually the rain started to turn to snow which is way prettier in my book. I can't wait for snow and lots of it!

Even though the Iceman is pretty short compared to what I train for it is one of my all-time favorite races. Why??? I don't know :-) I think it's because it's a combination of reasons. Not only was it one of the first races that I've ever done but how often do you get to race and hang out with 5,000 other cyclists??? I love the whole Iceman weekend and everything that it entails. Next year I'll be back for sure!

PS. I recorded an episode on mountain bike radio about racing in Scotland. HERE IS THE LINK TO LISTEN!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Iceman...ready or not!

Good morning! It's almost time to head up to Traverse City for the Iceman Cometh race, along with about 5,000 other people. My coach had me do a few intervals on Tuesday to "wake-up" my lungs but other then that I've been on my bike very, very little since Worlds. I'm either going to feel really good or really, really bad. Let's hope it's really good :-)

I'm racing fat bike (of course!) tomorrow and take off in Wave 6. My lucky number. Judging by the forecast it's definitely going to be ICEman this year as temps are going to be in the low-30's with a mixture of snow and rain when I take off. Totally doable, right??? Scott is taking off in Wave 1...I'm going to do my best to catch him!!!

This is always one of my favorite races and I know I'm going to have fun regardless of how I feel. Be sure to stop by the GRBC tent today...we will be next to Salsa and 45NRTH!

See you all up there :-)

PS. I'll be posting pictures on my instagram page and also on mtnbikeradio's page

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Scotland Part 3

Race Day!

I woke up to an empty and silent cottage. Scott and Ted were up early in the morning and had already gone to the race venue to unpack and set-up the tent. I ate breakfast, got ready and waited for Scott to come pick me up. It was chilly out BUT NOT RAINING!!! Hurray!

We had to be at the venue by 9 a.m. so that we could park our car near the tent. Since it was cold out I went straight to the cafe at Ben Nevis to stay warm...no need to waste any energy shivering. I entertained myself on Facebook and was completely overwhelmed by all of the well wishes coming my way from friends. They had started a "24 hours of Cowbell page" on Facebook and already I was getting so much support and cheers it was unreal. I know I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time in the cafe...it was awesome.

Finally it was time. Out of nowhere I heard the sounds of bagpipes playing and we all lined up behind several different barricades. Even though it was a neutral start the men, women and age-groupers were separated just to keep things organized. Standing at the start line I was very, very excited but also very, very nervous. I knew that there would be a time when everything would hurt and I was mentally preparing myself for that. My biggest goal was to "ride my own race" and not get caught up in the start. Trust me when I say that there are times when I take off way too hard and I was determined that this would not be one of them.

More bagpipe playing (every race should have them), and then the promoter said a few words. To tell you the truth I don't remember much about the start. I tend to have tunnel vision once the countdown begins and become completely oblivious to anything happening around me.

And then we were off!

For the first lap we skipped the beginning singletrack section (to avoid a cluster) and instead started riding up a dirt road that led to the first big climb. This was a great way to break the field up. Even though I was in full-on race mode I was looking around at the views so much I'm surprised I didn't get whiplash.

For the most part I rode at a really conservative pace for the first lap. Every now and then I would pass someone or someone would pass me but I made sure to ride my own pace. I was really happy with how my legs felt and before I knew it I was rolling through the transition area...one lap down.

One of the best things I've ever learned with 24-hour racing is to make a nutrition list and detail it per hour. It's a great way to keep track of calories etc. and is also really helpful for the pit crew. This way Ted and Scott didn't have to guess about what I would want. And if I came in demanding a cheeseburger they could just point at my list and say "no!"  :-)

For this race I decided that I would switch out my hydrapak every lap since I would be rolling right by the pit area. I carried 25 ounces of water with a single serving package of CR half-evil endurance formula dumped in (222 calories). I also ate a few honey stinger organic chews every other lap during the day. Scott also handed me two Rocketlytes every hour. I loved these because they have ginger root powder and peppermint extract. This was the first time that I had ZERO stomach issues for the entire 24-hours.

The sun was shining for the next couple of laps and I was perfectly warm wearing just a jersey, arm warmers and shorts. It was fun riding in a diverse field as I met a lot of different people and heard a lot of different stories about 24-hour racing in Australia and Italy and so on. The course was a little muddy in parts from the rain the day before but overall it was in great shape. Even so I switched bikes every other lap so that Ted could clean my bikes and look them over. One guy asked me if I brought a half dozen of the same bikes with me because they were so clean but really it was just Ted doing a great job at keeping my bikes clean.

It started raining right before darkness fell. I was at the top of the first long climb and remember wondering what it was doing down at the base and if Scott and Ted knew that I was getting drenched. I vowed to change my shorts when I got back to the pit area. Wet shorts plus riding on a bike for a long time = no fun.
By the time I got back to the pit area Scott and Ted had my back-up bike and spare helmet ready to go with my NiteRider lights attached. It was only 6 p.m. but already getting really dark. We were so busy switching everything that I completely forgot to change my shorts and didn't remember until half-way up the first climb. The singletrack sections were really, really dark and I was happy to have such bright lights. Some of the technical areas got even more slippery and there were some areas that I was definitely not comfortable on. However I just kept reminding myself that momentum was my friend and for the most part I was able to clean the sections.

The course layout had us rolling past the transition area before heading back out for the final climb (which was getting longer and longer each time). Scott was always standing in the EXACT same spot with a smile on his face. For the longest time I didn't ask what place I was in or what lap I was on but by the middle of the night he told me that I was closing in on 5th and that 4th wasn't that far ahead either. I was excited and tried to make up as much time as possible on the climbs since I knew I was slowing down too much on the switchback downhills. I passed a few more girls but it was impossible to know if I was lapping them or catching up to 5th place.

It was much colder in the middle of the night and since I wasn't drinking as much I switched to the CarboRocket Hydration mix and started eating more solid foods.  Bananas, ham, cheese, potatoes...you name it. Scott would hand me whatever I had on my list as I rolled by and it was usually gone by the time I made it to the course entrance.

It was the longest night ever. I think we rode in the dark for 12-13 hours. By sunrise I had moved up to 4th place and had a 5 minute lead on 5th. I knew that the women behind me would be chasing the entire time and that I would have to keep pushing the pace. My legs were definitely fatigued from all of the climbing.  I was still in the same freaking shorts from the day before and the same socks. My socks had gotten wet and had bunched up under the soles of my feet and don't get me started on those shorts. But I reasoned that if I managed to stay in the same wet shorts for 18-hours I might as well make it an even 24 :-)
Finally Scott said the magic words...ONE MORE LAP! At this point my nutrition list that I had made was completely discarded and I went crazy at my little buffet table. I think I managed to shove a apple pie and swiss cake roll and then more apple pie in my mouth at the same time...best combination ever. In Scotland I also discovered this amazing invention by Nestle called the Aero bar. I grabbed one of those for the road and then headed back out for my last lap. I had built up a 30-min lead on the 5th place women but in a 24-hour race a 30 minute lead doesn't seem like much. I was super paranoid that she was going to catch me and willed my legs (which felt like they each weighed 100 pounds) to keep pedaling.
Despite the fatigue I tried to absorb everything in the last lap. I tried to smile at each photographer who had been cheering me on, thanked all of the different volunteers who had spent the night huddling by fires cheering, ringing cowbells and squeaking rubber duckies at us. And most importantly the views...I tried to take them all in one more time. They are something I will never, ever forget.

Finally I hit the final descent and made it across the finish line to the smiling faces of Scott, Ted and a bunch of other cheering people. I finished in 4th place with a total of 20 laps (30,000 ft of climbing!)
The people who were staying in the cottage next to us had come to watch the finish...a lady that Ted had met on the train was there to cheer. It was so awesome! The promoters had custom hats to hand to us, along with a big bottle of beer. I will be the first to admit that I was ready to bust out in happy tears. Mostly because I was happy with how the race went but also because I was REALLY happy that I could finally take the shorts I had been wearing for 24 hours OFF! Trust me when I say that they did not feel good!!! Luckily I was too happy about my race to care much about the fact that I might have a chamois seam imprinted on my butt for the rest of my life :-)

The moment I stepped off my bike I felt like the ground was coming up to meet me. Kind of like the feeling you get when you've been on a boat for a long time. Instead of "sea legs" I had "bike legs." Scott and Ted finished packing up all of my gear and I sat in the chair in full-on zombie mode. By the time we got home I managed to take a shower and the next thing I know I was curled up in a ball on the bed...too tired to even get under the covers.

The No Fuss promoters did an excellent job putting on the race complete with a really fun presentation dinner at night...where I consumed large amounts of food :-) The promoters also announced the next couple of venues for the 24 hour World Championships. Next year it's going to be in California...after that New Zealand and then Italy.

That night I had a really hard time sleeping because every part of my body was sore and whenever I closed my eyes I would see trees heading straight at me. Oh well...a small price to pay.

The rest of the trip was really short. We had two more days in Scotland to cram in as much as possible. It's such a beautiful country and everyone that we met was incredibly nice. I definitely want to go back for a bike-packing trip someday to explore more of the country because I feel like we were only able to see a small part of it.

Here is a blog post I did about the race for Salsa Cycles and here is a video of the race. Just watching the video makes me want to go and do it all over again which is saying a lot seeing that I'm still not 100% yet.

After the race I took a few weeks almost completely off from the bike and I have to say it was definitely needed. Right now I'm in the middle of trying to finalized a lot of sponsorship stuff and I've also started strength training again. I feel incredibly weak and as you can see from this picture I have a long ways to go. Onward to getting stronger!
I want to send a huge amount of thanks to all of my sponsors, family and friends for being supportive. Most importantly I want to thank my hubby Scott and mechanic Ted for being such a great pit crew. Words can't do justice to how positive they were throughout the night and how much I appreciate everything they did for me. I know that standing in a pit area for 24 hours is not easy and there is no way that I could ever have done it without them. Racing solo for 24 hours is definitely a team effort!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scotland Part 2

Thursday (2 days until race day!)

My goal of waking up early so that I could acclimate to the time change was a big fail. Since I was wide awake until 2 a.m. Wednesday night I slept in until 10 a.m. Thursday. To tell you the truth I wasn't too worried about it. I figured all that mattered was that I was getting as much sleep as possible.

Scott, Ted and I headed over to our cafe for COFFEE, breakfast and more wifi. The cafe owner informed us that the butcher hadn't arrived yet so there was no bacon. Not a bad thing since I was in danger of overdosing on all things MEAT. Instead I had fresh eggs straight from the farm and toast. Delicious!
On the way back we had to stop by and say hi to the resident horse at our cottage. She's 34 years old and spending her retired years basking in the sunlight and grazing.
Back at the cottage Ted built up my other Spearfish and then it was the moment of truth...time to pre-ride the course. Our cottage was only about 10 minutes away from the race course which was awesome. We pulled into the parking lot and there was a lot going on. People putting up tents, race promoters walking around and riders pedaling around and pre-riding the course. There were also a lot of riders in full downhill gear.

Ted wanted me to change my suspension settings from what I usually ride with at home. Not only did I have my rear shock fully unlocked, I was running Kenda Honey Badger 2.2 XC Pro tires with about 18-19 psi in each one. I felt like I had a whole lot of squish going on but I used every bit of it on the course!

The start was easy to spot with a bright yellow arrow pointing up a rocky little hill. While getting ready I saw a rider fumble on the rocks and got worried that it was going to be crazy technical. In reality it wasn't bad at all...phew!
The entrance dumped me me into some of the prettiest singletrack I've ever ridden on. I felt like I was on the set for Lord of the Rings or the The Hobbit. I totally wouldn't have been surprised if I looked over and saw an elf or something.
After a few minutes of pure singletrack awesomeness we hit the first big climb which was really, really long. Some parts were gradual,  but there were some steep pitches that had me in my easiest gear. I knew from experience that the climb would seem a little steeper and a little longer with each passing hour. Ouch.
 Just when I thought it was over we rode through a tunnel and continued upwards.
The views were beautiful and I had a really hard time keeping my eyes forward!

I wish I could have gotten more pictures of the singletrack sections because there were little waterfalls and tons of wet bridges (which I did not approve of). The bridges had a fine wire mesh on the top to help with traction but that still did not stop me from slowing down dramatically each time I reached one. I figured it was time to face my "wooden bridge mental demons" since I would be riding over them for 24 hours!

I finished the lap in complete awe. It was 8-miles long with 1,500 ft of climbing per lap. There's nothing remotely like it where I live and I will be the first to admit that I did not feel comfortable on the long downhill switchbacks. That being said I could clean the whole course and was excited to ride something outside of my comfort zone. Plus the views...there was no way that I would ever get bored out there.

After the pre-ride I chugged some CarboRocket Rehab and we went back to the cottage. Even though the sun was shining off and on it was chilly and damp out. After scalding hot showers we headed into town and played tourists for the night.

Lots of pictures...
And dinner! With an appetizer of...you guess it! Haggis, turnips and mashed potatoes :-)
Afterwards we spent the rest of the night relaxing. I felt tired but once again couldn't fall asleep until 2 a.m. (sigh).

Friday (1 day until race day!)

We woke up to a light rain and walked to the cafe just in time before it started to rain really hard. So much for an early pre-ride. I had mentally prepared myself for it to rain for my entire trip to Scotland so I didn't let it mess with my head at all. Yes it COMPLETELY SUCKS to ride in the rain (especially for 24 hours) but it's one of those things that can't be controlled. Plus I had spent my entire years salary on rain gear so I was 100% prepared. My biggest concern was that I would slide off of my bike and all the way down the mountain if I did have to wear it because I was basically a giant Slip N' Slide with all my rain gear on. :-)

It was still raining hard after breakfast so we decided to stay at the cafe. We were there long enough that we ended up ordering lunch as well. I think the owner was getting sick of us...haha. Lunch was homemade carrot ginger soup (amazing) and a cheese panini (equally amazing). I was still taking a "wee bit" break from meat!
As luck would have it the rain died down in the late afternoon and we were able to pre-ride the last little bit of the course. Ted wanted me to double check my back-up bike and I wanted to see just how sloppy the course was from the rain.

To my surprise the course was in great shape! Yes there were a few slippery spots and a few puddles but other then that you would never have guessed it rained as much as it did. I was happy, Scott was happy and Ted was really, really happy!

The last climb intersected with the bottom part of the World Cup Downhill Course. The sign pictured below had the address to the nearest hospital which was slightly alarming!
 I thought this was a billboard but really it's a banked turn for the downhill course. Crazy!
 
It started raining again during our ride so we crested the top of the final climb and enjoyed the final switchback descents. As always I was braking too much...need to work on that!
It was cold and I was tired. After picking up my race packet we walked the pit area to see where we would be set up.
Scott and Ted's home away from home for the next 24 hours
Naturally I had to be my dorky self!
We were all hungry but I had Scott and Ted drop me back off at the cottage so that I could get ready for the race. I wanted to conserve all of my energy and get all of my gear ready for the next day. I knew that if I were to go out to dinner I would just worry about what I had to do when I got back. I had so much adrenaline going through my body I almost wished that I could have started racing right then and there.

While Scott and Ted were out to dinner I entertained myself by checking out the swag bag. It had all the normal things like gels and chain lube but it also had this...getting whiskey in a swag bag was a first!
On a side note, the World Championships are in Northern California next year. Here's what I'm thinking...we each get a full bottle of both white and red wine in our swag bags from some awesome Californian winery! One can dream, right???

Finally Ted and Scott got home with dinner for me. It turns out that it's a little harder to order "take-out" in Scotland then it is in the United States. In Fort William there were designated places for "take-away" and the rest of the restaurants were for dining in. When Scott explained that he wanted to order a dinner to go the waiter said that they would figure something out and came back with this...
The restaurant literally wrapped a ceramic plate in saran wrap and sent it home. Awesome! Dinner was chicken with some sort of cucumber sauce, potatoes, and then more potatoes. PS. I don't want to eat a potato for at least another month!

Then it was time for bed. I never sleep well the night before a race and this one was especially bad. I think I finally dosed off around 1:00 a.m. and I had crazy race dreams all night where I couldn't find my socks, and then I missed the start, and then I was riding inside a building. I'm not sure why but not being able to find my socks is a common dream of mine before racing. And it's an ironic dream because I always bring a ton of socks :-) Anyways....

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Scotland part one

I can't believe it's been a full week since I crossed the finish line at the 24-hour World Championships. So much happened on that trip that it seems like a lifetime ago. At the same time I am so-freaking-tired that I feel like it could have been yesterday. I know that I am ridiculously slow when it comes to recovery but it still always surprises me how long it takes.

All summer long I trained and raced with Scotland in the back of my mind. For the longest time it seemed like I had all of the time in the world to save up money and train but as the event got nearer it seemed like time started speeding up. There was so much to do to get ready for the race!

Before I knew it my training time was up and I was tapering down and trying to pack a massive amount of gear into two pieces of luggage. I crammed everything that I absolutely needed (cycling shoes, helmet, kit) into my carry-on and Scott packed all of my lights into his. My Twin Six messenger bag was my "purse" and inside of it was clothing and a container of CarboRocket that I couldn't fit into my other luggage. Trying to maneuver my carry-on and bulging messenger bag down the narrow aisle of the plane was too much for my uncoordinated self and I managed to swing my bag into a few heads along the way...oops! I have no doubt that I was THE PASSENGER that all other passengers hate :-)
We flew out Monday late afternoon from Detroit. I was ridiculously excited since it was my first "real" time out of the country (I'm sorry...but I can't count Canada, eh!) I knew that Scotland was 5 hours ahead of our time zone and a lot of people advised me to try to sleep on the plane. Normally I fall asleep on a plane before it takes off from the runway so I didn't think it would be a problem. Did that happen this time? Nope. I was wide awake the entire time. Scott dozed off and I got sucked into one of those movies that you shouldn't ever watch on an airplane, The Fault in Our Stars. I didn't realize it was going to be so sad and before I knew it I had tears streaming down my face. So embarrassing!!! Especially because on my other side was some complete stranger..haha.

We landed in Amsterdam in the middle of the night for us (early morning for them) and I had that strange discombobulated feeling where I was tired but excited at the same time. Kind of like how I felt in the middle of the night while racing the 24-hours of Hanson Hills. There was only one thing to do...order lots of coffee.
Finally we hopped back on the plane for a short little flight to Scotland. I did manage to fall asleep for an hour on this flight and felt extremely tired when we touched down in Glasgow. It was 7 a.m. in the morning there and the sun was shining. I was actually surprised to see the sun because I had mentally prepared myself for rain (lots and lots of rain) the entire time we were there.

We still had a 3-hour drive to Fort William. After getting MORE coffee we found our rental van, loaded up our luggage and were on our way. Technically it took about 10 minutes of sitting in the van before we were on our way because Scott had to get used to the steering wheel being on the right side of the car (which is the wrong side for us) and also get used to the idea of driving on the left side of the road. I cheered him on and told him he was doing great but inside I was silently screaming.
The roads were ridiculously narrow in some spots and I counted at least two times when Scott went up on the curb within the first hour. I tried to help him navigate but I kept wanting to say "take a right in this round-about" when really we needed to take a left! This picture doesn't do justice to how narrow some of the roads were! Luckily everyone was driving very slowly around the corners.
The drive to Fort William was amazingly beautiful. We stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe for what would be the first of many fish and chip meals! So, so, so good!
Finally we arrived in Fort William which is located right in the highlands of Scotland. There were mountains surrounding the area and I was so excited to start exploring. We rented a cottage from a couple that had lived on the land their entire lives. One of the owners (Jennifer) was born in one of the original cottages and could trace her ancestors back to the cottage as far back as 1860. I had been told over and over again how beautiful Scotland is and it's absolutely true.


While we were talking to Jennifer a search and rescue helicopter flew towards the mountains where the race was going to be held. Jennifer turned towards me and said, "I really hope you don't break your neck during the race!" I did not find this reassuring at all. All summer long I imagined two things about the Worlds course. I imagined a ton of twisted roots and pouring rain. After Jennifer's comment about breaking my neck I started to imagine huge drops too. While I was really excited to pre-ride the course I was also really nervous.

After we got settled in I decided to sit on the couch for a few minutes and the next thing I knew I was waking up 2 hours later. That night I was so tired but still couldn't fall asleep until 2 a.m. The time change was harder to deal with then I thought it would be.

The next morning we walked down to a nearby cafe for coffee and wifi. I also had my first proper Scottish breakfast. The theme of my breakfast was sausage, sausage and more sausage :-) It was really good and my favorite part of it was the black pudding. For some reason I thought black pudding was a type of dessert (because pudding!) and I kept remarking to Scott that it had a "different" taste and consistency to it. Kind of like a grainy jello. He just nodded his head and kept his mouth shut until I finished the whole thing. When I googled it I found out that black pudding was actually blood sausage. Eek.
Post breakfast we headed back to the cottage and then into town so that I could do was spin my legs out. I always feel like crap the day after traveling so I stuck to a flat paved path and just enjoyed the views. The weather was absolutely perfect for me. Temps were in the high 50's and it was sunny out. It was so beautiful out I wanted to stay on my bike all day but after a few leg openers I called it good. I knew that staying on my bike all day-and all night-would come soon enough.
Afterwards we explored a nearby castle which was pretty cool to see. It's not every day that you can just drive around and see castles (or the remnants of castles) in the distance!
GRBC at Inverlochy Castle
Then it was time to pick up Ted at the train station. Ted has been my mechanic forever and I couldn't imagine doing a 24-hour race without him. I was so excited that he was able to meet us in Scotland!
Ted was exhausted so after a quick dinner of (what else?) Fish and Chips AND Haggis we called it an early night!

To be continued....

PS. Fat Bike Night is tonight at the Grand Rapids Bicycle Companies Ada Location! Let's eat, drink and talk fat bikes...hope to see everyone there :-)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stay tuned!

I'm back in the States! We flew back to Michigan on Thursday and I spent the weekend on the couch. I had zero motivation to do anything and that includes my blog. Plus it doesn't help that the pointer finger on my left hand is swollen and won't bend. The lazy part of me keeps saying, "it will heal!" but a small part of me keeps wondering if I broke it somehow. It's amazing how many little bruises appear after a 24-hour race and you don't know when or where they came from :-) I'm giving it another week before I really start to worry!

Anyways, I had an amazing trip and thank you so much for all of the well wishes. Blog post coming tonight but for now...it's back to work I go....BOOOOOOOOOO!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Scotland here I come!!!

Next weekend will be my last race of the summer season. I can't even begin to talk about how excited/nervous/excited/nervous I am. This is by far the biggest race I've ever done. Not only is it the 24 hour solo World Championships but it's also my first time out of the country (besides Canada, eh!)

I will be the first to admit that I don't know what to expect from the course in Scotland. The promoter has been sending race info and updates and it's a little overwhelming. Some of the course will be on the World Cup course (will I even be able to ride it???) and the list of female athletes coming from around the World is amazing and also incredibly intimidating. I started googling the names and realized that making it into the top-10 is going to be SO TOUGH. The mental demons started coming out in full force and I had to check myself. Instead of being intimidated and questioning myself I'm going to go out and race my heart out. This is going to be an amazing experience and I want to enjoy every moment of it. Every single photo that I've seen of Scotland looks ridiculously beautiful. I won't have a lot of time there but I'm going to do my best to experience as much of the country as I can.

This would not be possible without a lot of help from sponsors, family and friends. The support has been overwhelming. Salsa sent me a brand-new "twin bike" for me to race on and I've had a ton of other sponsors send me parts/gear overnight. I am so,so, so proud to work with so many great companies. And speaking of great companies I have a new sponsor for 2015. I'm so excited to be partnering with Velocity Wheels. I love these guys and I can't wait to race on the new Velocity Blunt SS wheels.

From this...
To this....
To this...
To this...
I just have to say that the fact that I get to race in Scotland on wheels that were designed by friends and hand built by friends IN MY HOMETOWN is ridiculously cool. I trust these guys and the wheels explicitly, which is very important when bombing down hills in the dark at 3 a.m!

I'll try to post pictures from abroad. The lady that we are renting our cottage from said that she was having a "wee" bit of issues with the wireless so I'm not sure what the situation will be when we get there. Regardless, I'll have a lot of stories to tell when I get home.

Well I'm off. I'll do my best to represent. Before I go though, I want to thank everyone again for being so encouraging and supportive. It means the world to me :-)