Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Larissa Challenge

Last week, on Sunday was the 'Larissa Challenge' where our friend Adem set up a pseudo 'race' up Cavedale road between me and local bike shop owner Kevin (who apparently thought he couldn't get beat by a girl :) haha). The whole challenge ended up being kind of a joke because Kevin 'sprained his ankle' when he realized how badly I was going to slaughter him, and doing a social ride out to Cavedale sounded way more fun to me anyway.
I rode out to Santa Rosa from Bodega Bay at 7am, in the 44 degrees weather to meet up with the guys, and then we had a nice mellow cruise over to the hill. I hadn't ridden Cavedale road in about 4 years, so I had completely forgotten what the climb was like, as well as how long it would take. I also went prepared with a pocket full of excuses for why I might loose (rode 4 hours at crusher pace the day before, rode out from Bodega that morning, had already ridden 18 hours that week, you know, roadie excuses).
When we turned left onto Cavedale from HWY 12, I immediately attacked, because, well, my competitive nature always wins. Someone was on my wheel for at least 3 minutes, and then I was alone, for a very long, tough 25 more minutes. Needless to say, despite all the possible handicaps I gave myself, I was the champion of Cavedale road on Sunday, as the Strava thingy shows.
That's a lot of segments for one climb!
It was a thrilling ride to say the least, and don't worry, I kicked the boys' butts on the way home as well, just to show them that I wasn't that tired after the Cavedale race. Yep, the people in Norcal are pretty fun too.

Who wouldn't want to ride all day when this is what the roads look like?
Then I had to silly idea to try and ride all the way back to Bodega Bay. Brendan was supposed to pick me up, but I told him to wait a while and grocery shop, because I wanted to be on my bike as much as possible. I made it to Bodega Bay city limits (4ish miles from home) when Brendan caught me in the car and I have never been happier to get a ride home! The only sad part of the day was the lack of fried chicken in the car when Brendan got me, but there was coconut ice cream so that was good. 

In all the total number for the day were 95ish miles and 4000kj of work, not a bad way to end a weekend!
Still happy 85 miles into the ride, because it was ANOTHER beautiful day!

Sonoma County Love

I haven't traveled outside of the US much, but I cannot imagine there are many places as beautiful as Sonoma County in winter. When the sun stays close to the horizon all day, it filters through the oak and redwood trees, and illuminates the already brilliant green grass in a way that makes the landscape of West County and the Sonoma Coast absolutely glow. I've spent the past 7 days on my bike(s) riding my favorite roads and trails, and soaking in the unbelievably beautiful landscapes. Here's a recap of Monday through Sat from last week's 24 hours of riding extravaganza. 

Monday was a rest day, I made Cara run a million errands with me. Should have strava-ed that business because I think I killed the QOM of ability to tolerate the most errands in one day!

Cara at the intersection of King Ridge and Hauser Bridge rd.
On Tuesday Cara and I rode from Santa Rosa to the top of King Ridge road, and back on HWY 1 and 116. The roads you take to get out to King Ridge are shrouded in Redwood trees, it's dark and moist and cold in there, and so magically pretty. Then, almost as soon as the climb starts to lift you up above sea level the trees break and you are next to rolling hills that look like they are covered in green velvet, with the occasional outcropping of scraggly rocks or peaceful looking cows. This is my all time favorite road ride. After miles of climbing and descending through green fields and redwood groves you finally hit the coast after descending Meyers Grade road, which winds down to HWY 1 in an 18% grade with spectacular views of the ocean and coast line. It is amazing. I cannot ride this road without stopping to take in the view, it is unreal.
I could ride this every day and never get sick of it :)
Of course we had to stop in Jenner to buy a cookie (because I habitually do long rides with not enough food). I ate the most amazing molasses, ginger, chocolate chip cookie ever and it happened to be VEGAN! haha
That ride ended up being around 111 miles, and the day was wrapped up with stuffed acorn squash.

Wednesday, Christmas Eve, Cara and I did a nice 2 hour ride in the scenic hills of South Sonoma County. It was cold, and there was a pretty layer of fog nestled up around the velvety green hills. This time our scenery was almost all rolling pasture land and was topped off with sheep, goats, cows, pigs and lots of chickens along the way.
I took a lot of butt shots of Cara, she is going to be pissed at me if she ever sees this!
See the little baby sheep out there?
Thursday was another off day, which was hard because it was my first full day in Bodega Bay and the weather was incredible! Colin and I ran to the store, on foot, like running, instead of riding bikes. It was awesome and beautiful and a bit painful.

Friday I got to do intervals on Meyer's Grade, maybe the prettiest place to do some steady state!
See that twisty road down there? That's the road I did my repeats on. It was the best day!
Saturday I spent 4 hours in Annadel on a campaign to ride every trail at least once. It was a bit sloppy from recent rain, but it was so so pretty! The ride was a little less fun than normal because my front brake didn't work AT ALL so I crashed into a lot of trees, and had to ride conservatively on all the descents. Riding in Annadel made me feel kinda cool because I got a lot of love for my ShoAir kit and Sexy Scalpel from the other mountain bikers in the park :)
Still kinda can't believe that I grew up here. What a great place to learn to ride mountain bikes!
Scalpel LOVED Annadel. Also, it got very very dirty :)
Sando on the dam was a great way to end the ride.

The scenery in this park is our of control. Green grass, oak trees, meadows and lakes. 
The last ride of the week, Sunday's suffer fest deserves it's own post, so stay tuned for a "Larissa challenge' recap. In the mean time, I have some intervals to do, and Willow Creek road is calling my name! Time to go enjoy more Sonoma County beauty!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Why I Love SoCal

Another great weekend, complete with two more awesome rides, one fun Christmas party, and a small epiphany.

Ride one consisted of heading solo up Maple Springs and Upper Joplin, meeting up with about 15 super cool people including my hubs and descending Coldwater, then climbing ITT solo, cruising down HolyJim, and pounding pavement back to Silverado.
Riding in the Santa Ana's means you pretty much always have a great view.
Although I loved the solo parts of the ride (sometimes it's good to ride and reflect and soak in the nature alone), the absolute highlight was seeing all the people who choose to come out and ride Coldwater trail. The group included a bunch of dudes who have taught me to ride a bike over the past 4 years. Even though I don't ride with all of them very often any more, I was smiling the whole why down to Corona thinking about how Steve Timm taught me to ride steep switchbacks, how I went on some epic adventures with Terry two years ago, and all the random stuff I've learned from Wayne over the past twelve months. I was thinking about how following different guys has taught me different skills, like body English and cornering from Luke, and flow from Joe. I was also thinking about how encouraging these guys are, how Darin always makes me feel so cool, how they are all pumped about my new team, and about how John is always interested in knowing about how racing is going. Of course I was also thinking about how lucky I am to have so many tour guides like Carl and Dave to show me around the Santa Ana's and all of Southern California over the past two years. Saturday evening, after the ride and before the Sprockethead Christmas party I realized the reason I like Orange County so much is because I love the people. I never would have thought 5 years ago when we moved down to SoCal that the people would be my favorite part, but I cannot imagine a better support system, and group of ride buddies. Plus, did I mention we were descending Coldwater when these thoughts were going through my head. That trail is in the best shape it's ever been in, and was absolutely a joy to ride. And to top off an awesome day, I got to hang out with a bunch of these fun people, plus our adopted SoCal parents Brett and Chay at the party that evening!

On Sunday I got to shred Santa Barbara trails with an old friend from the collegiate racing days, and it was one of those rides where I was squealing with joy the trails were so much fun. I think my favorite was Jesusita trial, which was both terrifying and a blast! I have very few pictures of the weekend because my phone refuses to hold a charge more than 10 minutes, but I will remember the past two days for a long time because of the warm fuzzy feelings, and the smile on my heart.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Push-A-Kona and Palm Springs

This past weekend is going down in my books as one of the best this fall. On Sat I got to join in the Push a Kona fun, and on Sunday DW took us on a great little tour of Palm Springs goat trails.
Highlights from Sat are as follows:
Was stoked to run into event creator Darrin Maxwell on WHT.
~Started PAK around 7:15am and we caught the main group on West Horsetheif. The wash may have been a mess (mud so thick you could barely ride through it), but West HT was in great shape, and I pedaled almost all of it! 

That's WHT snaking up the hill across from Bell Ridge. Can you see how steep it is?
~Was pleasantly surprised by the number of super cool folks who joined the fun this year. I guess that's what happens when the route is of a sane length (unlike last year!). I got to say hi to/ride with a bunch of my favorite mountain bikers!

~Added some extra credit and dropped Yeager in the middle of the ride (original route was West HT, East HT, Cariso, Bell so we threw Yeager and Trabuco in before dropping Bell Ridge). The XC was a blast because that Scalpel is so fun in the Santa Ana's

~ Got to see a bunch more super cool dudes at Pinos Peak the second time around! 
Carl was doing shots. You know, the uush. 
~And best of all was descending Bell with all my fave. mountain bikers, on the best bike. What a fun day!

Highlights from Sunday:

~Riding a ton of really technical rocky features on the way up Art Smith because this bike/these wheels kick major butt. I was seriously surprised by some of the stuff I cleaned. 

Scalpel ate up the sandy/rocky terrain. So much fun riding this bike in the desert.
~Doing the whole ride with full seatpost height and feeling comfortable/finally feeling like not having a dropper post was slowing me down (this is a huge accomplishment for a kid who has ALWAYS had a dropper post!)

~Eating the MOST AMAZING Nutella/peanut butter/banana sando halfway through the ride. That is a winning combo right there.
The sandwich was so good I forgot about good posture!
~ Descending Art Smith Trail. If you haven't ridden in Palm Springs, do yourself a favor and go ride that trail, now. It was flowy, techy, smooth, fun the whole way down!

~Seeing a huge herd of Big Horn Sheep at the end of the ride! They were on this cliff about 100 feet above the valley floor and they ALL took a double black diamond line to get down. It was insane. If I could descend half as good as them...

Wish I had a pic of them charging the most tech descent possible!
 And that concludes yet ANOTHER amazing base training weekend! Here's to another one coming up!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Bikes, New Kits, and New Friends

A few weeks ago, at 6:15 on a Monday morning, I was greeted at school with the most exciting email. This email was about my new team, through a new, very local bike shop (it's ON my commute home!). There's not much that can top that kind of morning. I'm not sure of all the nitty gritty details yet, but I do know that the very kind folks at ShoAir Cyclery are going to be helping me out this season, and I could not be more excited! That week, on Wednesday I got to pick up a new whip, the prettiest, lightest Cannondale Scalpel you ever saw.
It was love at first sight :) Plus, with a bike that light, you just can't help picking it up all the time!
Along with a sexy new bike, they also hooked me up with some sweet new clothes, and now I feel like the most stylish kid on the block.
First new wind vest since my very first one, from the UC Davis team in 2008.
Proud to rock the ShoAir kit in the Santa Ana's. 
Tell me that's not the cutest kit you have ever seen. Something about teal and green together, I just love it. Plus the cut and fit of the Jackroo shorts is really good, and who doesn't love a powerband?!
Even showing my new colors on the bike commute.
The Scalpel and I have been on a few adventured since it entered my life. We rocked Joplin and Yeager Mesa two weekends ago, and even though I didn't have the suspension dialed yet, it was a blast. Riding Santa Ana style trails on a 4 inch travel bike is super fun, in a different way than when you are on a trail bike. Something about the bike being responsive and also light enough to pick up, and whip around, as opposed to blast plowing. Plus the big, carbon wheels rocked the crap out of the rocks on Joplin. We also conquered Push-a-Kona 2014 (I am a massive cheat because the Scalpel is half the weight of the bikes you are "supposed to ride" for Push-A-Kona), and had an incredible shred fest in Palm Springs the next day, but more on those rides later.
This bike is right at home in the Santa Ana's. I was smiling ear to ear the whole way down Yeager, it's just so good.
So although October and November were a little on the rough side, wondering what I was going to do for 2015, I could not be happier to be riding for ShoAir/Ridebiker. I guess all good things come in time, and it was definitely worth the wait! Now I am twice as motivated to train like crazy and make 2015 a killer fast season!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

That Time we Hiked 18 Miles With no Training

Half Dome Recap...Finally. I thought being sick was going to give me a chance to catch up on life, but really I just swapped being on my bike for being asleep, so no extra time for anything! 
Brendan and I trying to stay warm.
We set off for Yosemite Friday afternoon, and arrived at our campsite pretty late. We got super lucky and ended up snagging a campsite in Upper Pines, a short walk from the Half Dome trail head, because someone cancelled WHILE I was on the phone with the parks service, score! As we drove into the valley we watched the temp drop from 60 degrees to somewhere in the 40's, not good news for two kids who live in SoCal. We set up camp in the dark and went to bed, only to be awakened by our hiking buddies who had been gallivanting about, drinking Oprah drinks at the fancy hotel all evening. We were all back in bed by 10, excited for the hike, and pretty darn cold.

In the morning we ate a quick breakfast and were hiking by 8:30, about 2 hours later than I had wanted to get started. Everyone I talked to about this plan leading up to the trip told me it was going to be a long, hard day. They said it would take 12 hours, that my knees would ache at the end, and that none of us would be friends on the way back down the trail at the end of the day. This made me nervous about our late start, but Phil and Danny were confident that we wouldn't have any problems, so no one was in a rush to be up pre-dawn.
Along the way to the top we found a bunch of pretty waterfalls, talked about our pipe dreams of living off the grid or in Sprinter vans, and ate some awesome trail snacks.
First waterfall sighting of the day.
These cool kids decided it was triplet day. 
I think this guy is pretty cute. 
There were about a million stairs, and about 2/3 the way up I had painful blisters on my heels, but I was pretty convinced I wouldn't leave without getting to the very top.

When we first came into view of the rock face we had to climb, I had second thoughts tough. It looked WAY steeper than I had imagined, it was really cold, starting to snow, and my fingers were completely numb. The first few prusek (sp?) knots I had to tie were agonizing. My fingers hurt, and the wind was blowing hard, so I was afraid to let go of the big cable I was tying in to. Our technique for getting up the last/steepest section of the climb (the part where there are normally wooden slats that act like stairs) was to wear a climbing harness, and to basically tie the harness to the cables on the rock face, such that even when we were switching from one cable to another we would be tied in and safe. We had to switch cables pretty often at first, which was clumsy with thick rubber gloves and numb fingers. I felt like a wimp, and I wanted to quit about 3 cables in, but I decided to push through the pain, and luckily about halfway up my fingers regained feeling and I started to get the hang of tying in every few hundred feet.
 Climbing and hiking behind these guys was a bit, er, farty at times, but I'm so stoked to have learned about new knots, and how to do this kind of climbing from them!
I'm so stoked I stuck with it on the climb up, because the views from the top were incredible, and I felt so bad ass having made it all the way in the wind, and snow flurries, and icy temps. It was also pretty cool to be at the top of Half Dome with no one else there.
View of the valley from the top of Half Dome.
Feeling very proud at the top. See the snow falling?
The quintessential Half Dome shot.
I thought it was cute that Phil called his wifey to tell her we made it safely when we got back down off the rock. 
The 9 mile hike back down the hill to camp went by in a flash, probably because I spent half the time eating Tsering's amazing trail mix and the other half learning the lyrics to Biggie rap songs from Phil. Despite all the predictions about how much the hike would break us, we all felt really good the whole way back, and made it to camp by dusk, 8.5-9 hours total.
So happy to have made it back to camp safely in less than 9 hours. 
On Sunday morning Brendan made us the most amazing waffles, and we went for a short walk to a waterfall before hitting the road for our long drive home. 

Overall it was an outstanding weekend. I have never been so cold, I have never felt such a sense of accomplishment doing something that wasn't cycling, and I had a great time with some of our bestest friends in a really pretty place! Now I want to do more hiking/climbing adventures!

Friday, December 5, 2014


A week and a day late :) Life has been particularly busy/engaging lately, which is a good thing, but leaves little time to reflect/write. Today I stayed home from work sick though, the perfect opportunity to get caught up (although I did spend half the day cleaning the house, that's not a good sick day activity, let me tell you)
Here is a recap of the first 3 days of Thanksgiving break in pictures. Second half of break coming soon.

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, we rode mountain bikes in Marin. It was a beautiful day, and the trails were perfectly tacky and Phil wimped out of riding for 8 hours with me. 
I love any bike ride with real trees and a good view!
More sweeping views of the Marin headlands.
The Mt Vis felt right at home under the oaks and redwoods. 

On Thanksgiving day we woke up early to go mushroom hunting. I rode my bike an hour and a half north on hwy 1 to our mushrooming spot, and it was the most beautiful morning. I love the views on the Sonoma Coast like no other! The mushroom hunt was a massive success because we got a bunch of my favorite mushroom, Matsutake, mostly just by wiping leaves off the forest floor. I also found a Cauliflower mushroom, a species I thought I would never see in the wild! Then I rode my bike back south on hwy 1. Again, there is no place I would rather be :)

I love Stillwater Cove, such a pretty place to ride bikes!

At some points you get way up high, and the view is even more breathtaking than before. 
I had to take a picture of my favorite spot in the whole world, where the Russian River meets the sea in Jenner. 
And I love this part where you descend down to sea level with an awesome view. 
Post bike riding there was a lot of mushroom cleaning to be done!
Somehow I got no pictures of the actual Thanksgiving meal, we were so busy cooking and cleaning mushrooms and eating there was no time for technology! It was a perfect evening, and the most amazing turkey I have ever eaten. 
On Friday we rode some sweet, well kept secret trails. The forest glowed with green and the trees, they were just amazing. I only got one picture all day, doesn't really do the spot justice.

Then we headed to Yosemite! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

ALL the Things!

I didn't intend to take such a long break from Blogging, but when you try to cram a million different activities into Thanksgiving break, and then come home late Sunday night and jump right into work on Monday it's kinda hard to keep up.
Before I dive into the amazing week Brendan and I spent all over California for Thanksgiving, I still need to write about the rad mini-epic ride Dave and I did the weekend before (mostly because I have some sweet pictures of the ride).
Views on the climb up were awesome. I was in heaven staring out at San Gregornio, 
So I've been riding a lot on the weekends, mostly in Orange County. Although there are many fun trails here, I get the itch to ride in new places every once in a while. Last Sat. Dave and I decided to hit up Sugar-loaf Peak out near Big Bear, CA. The ride started halfway up SART, hit the road for a bit and then continued up fire road to the peak at 9,900 ft. Then we got to descend Wildhorse trail, a fun, flowy single track trail that rips down the mountain, and back down SART to Dave's van.
Seeing/riding in snow is pretty exciting when you live in SoCal :)
The ride was punctuated by me falling off an exposed section of trail and screaming like a little girl (somehow I ended up on my feet and was almost completely uninjured), a bunch of snow starting at about 7,000 ft, a bit of hiking and a bunch of dropper post issues on Dave's bike. I think my favorite part of the ride was the sections of trail where we were riding on a perfect blanket of snow, where I could ride anywhere I wanted because the snow was thick enough to cover rocks and roots, but sticky enough to ride on. Also, I have to say, once again, that the Conti tires on my bike rocked the snow and wet rocks like champs. Still madly in love with those tires and with the Mt. Vision :)
The Pearl X-Project shoes I wear on every ride are summer shoes, but somehow my feet stayed warm and dry for the entire ride. 

I taught Dave how to take a selfie. 

We did some hiking in the snow, which I considered training for Half Dome  the following weekend. 

Obviously we took some pics at the peak.

And then we ate snados. This is one of my fave parts of any long ride now, love me some PB&J.

This was at the start of the wicked fun descent. We got so lucky with the amount of snow on the ground. Enough to be fun to ride in, not enough to hinder our descending. 

I highly recommend Wildhorse Canyon trail to anyone in SoCal looking for something new and fun to ride. What other new trails should I hit during the base training season?