Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Will Miss You 2015

This past year has been by far the most incredible year of my life. This is interesting to me because in my early 20's I used to dread getting older, especially leaving my 20's behind. Then Bill Freeman told me something to the effect that you know you're living right if each day, month and year is better than the last. This has definitely been the pattern in my life, so, although I am sad to leave 2015 behind, as well as my 20's (in January I turn 30! Eeek!) there is also a great deal of excitement to see what 2016 has in store.

However, before we leave 2015 as a collection of old Facebook photos we won't ever look at again, until that friendly site reminds us 4 years from now what we were doing on some random day, here is a quick  reflection on what made 2015 so great.

January - Set the course record at the San Bruno Hill Climb

February - Won the P123 race at Boulevard in a massive effort after doing an insane amount of work in the race

March - Raced alongside Emily Batty, Catherine Pendrel and Georgia Gould at the US Cup Bonelli #1, had my first real post race interview, rode the A- line on each lap and basically had the best day of my life in the first real mtb race of the year.

April - Got to race Whiskey 50 for the first time, had a crap load of fun, finished both the fat tire crit and 50 mile races on the podium, got my first ever big check!

May - Rode in the Catalina Gran Fondo = pretty much the most fun ride of the year

June - Go Pro Games podium, won a set of antlers at the Missoula XCT and taught my very last day of school (for who knows how long!!)

July - Nationals in Mammoth was pretty much my favorite race week ever culminating with a 4th place in the XC race

August - Raced 2 World cups and moved up in the rankings from 55 to 35 place!

September - Traveled to Brazil to race bikes in the hardest race ever, bike got lost, got attacked by wasps, had an absolute blast!

October - Tons of epic rides with Carl all over Southern California, plus I got to do Levi's Gran Fondo!!! 

December - Christmas in Joshua Tree = first time rock climbing outdoors!! 


And that's it, the best of the year summed up in a nice little list. With 31 minutes left in 2015, here's to making 2016 awesome like 2015! I'm stoked to see what's to come!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Race Dealio Part 2: Road Bike Races

So I may have mentioned that in 2016 there will be some super fun road bike races thrown in the mix with the mountain stuff. I'm lucky enough to get to race with Team Twenty 16 on the road, and am very much looking forward to doing some cool localish stage races with some crazy fast ladies. Here is the breakdown of the early season road races I'll be doing.

Feb 12-14 Valley of the Sun Stage Race 
Feb 26-28 Chico Stage Race
March 11-13 Tour of Murrieta
April 6-10 Redlands Bicycle Classic
April 14-17 Sea Otter (maybe)
May 4-8 Tour of the Gila
July 16 Boise Cycling Classic
July 22-26 Cascade Cycling Classic

We decided to mix road racing with mountain bikes early this fall before my 2016 World Cup campaign was a reality. As a result I will be very much playing the road racing thing by ear. My plan is to put my heart into the early season races, do whatever work I can for my team mates and then re-evaluate how things are going in mid-March. This way if I'm crazy burnt out I can redirect my focus, or if I'm loving the road stuff I can commit to some more of those races. I really did love road racing back in college, so it will be a fun year mixing the two types of races! 

I have to admit I have a bit of anxiety about getting burnt out, BUT I am also SO stoked to have this opportunity. So for now I'm focusing on my day to day training, eating well, getting enough sleep and doing core... And we'll worry about the road season when it rolls around. I'm so so lucky to have so many supportive and intelligent people in my life helping me shape my career, providing me with these opportunities and helping me stay grounded. I seriously thank my lucky stars every day for the team staff and RideBiker Alliance. 2016 is going to be an absolute blast!!

Monday, December 28, 2015

What a Wonderful way to start the Week!

This is the winter break I've been dreaming of.

I've been out of school for a week now, but spent the first few days off at home, riding, cleaning and waiting for Brendan to get off work. Next we hit up Joshua Tree with friends for something different and had a great time hiking, bouldering, climbing and eating rum ham (thanks Danny) on Christmas day.

Pastries! Can you tell we are excited?!
While outdoor rock climbing among the dorkiest trees known to man was fun last week, I have been longing to go on fun, scenic sister rides that include Flying Goat coffee and pastries, ocean views and towering Redwood trees. I also haven't seen my In Laws since this last summer in Wisconsin, and have been looking forward to a week long stay with them, which always includes mushroom hunting, amazing food, wine and lots of learning new things :)

We tore that scone to pieces... :)




So after the horrifically long and congested, traumatizing drive up I-5 yesterday, today could not have been more perfect.

Sister and I braved the 45 degree temps and rode bikes to Healdsburg. We stopped at 'the goat' where we fought over the good bits of our scone, looked at insta pictures, talked about boys and physically harassed each other.

Then I rode on towards Bodega Bay via Sweetwater Rd while Cara wimped out and got a ride home (HA!). The roads in Sonoma County were as incredibly pretty as I remembered them, but this time with the bright green hillsides refreshed by recent rain and natural filter of winter light cast by a perpetually low sun. The roads were framed by giant oak trees dripping with seafoam green moss, massive redwood trees so dense that only slivers of vibrant green shine through them, and sweeping views of the angry teal green ocean throwing spray every time it collided with the sharp and craggy rocks of the Sonoma Coast.
No picture I take can capture the beauty of Sonoma County. 
Every rise, dip, and curve of the road revealed another of my favorite views, from pastoral hillsides dotted with black baby cows to quaint little coastal towns all decorated for Christmas. The hillsides are so densely packed with evergreens that it felt like a fairy tale, and the light made the ferns and grasses glow. I never wanted to end the ride,  the bright winter sun and warming temperatures tempted me to ride until sunset. Somehow I found an ounce of self control and rolled into the driveway at 3pm.
No stop signs or lights for miles and miles :)
Last year I may have overdone the winter break riding a bit, but my goal this year is to be a bit smarter about using moderation, while still enjoying my favorite rides. Now we are off to eating amazing food, and celebrating Christmas a few days late :)

So stoked to be in Bodega Bay!
The town of Bodega Bay sitting properly on the water. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Today Didn't Suck

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

7:00am Wake up, kit up, down a huge mug of coffee and a bowl of cereal.

7:28am Decide to ride Cannondale Scalpel because route has a lot of fire road, and it might be muddy. Don't want to get the brand new Decree dirty.... yet :)

7:33am Roll out the driveway and up Silverado Canyon road towards Maple Springs. Yes, I know it's closed, I can't be a good kid ALL the time and I feel like, as a resident, I should be allowed to cross the gate every now and then :)

8:48am Reach '4 corners', pee in nature, put my bibs on (haha forgot this when I rolled out the door), eat an espresso flavored GU. Continue on towards Santiago Peak.


9:05am Decide to take the fire road all the way to the peak rather than the singletrack short cut. Rewarded for the decision with a close encounter with a bobcat at the peak.

9:45am Reach Indian Truck Trail, descend a bit until I find ride buddy. U-turn and continue pedaling towards Yeager. Remember how fun Scalpel is to descend!

10:25am Reach Pinos peak and turn right onto Bell Ridge. Slide down wet leaves and sweet steep goodness with full seatpost height. Crash twice because slowing down is much harder when it's super wet :)


10:49am Kick Maxwell's bell on Yeager Mesa, and continue to slide and smile down Yeager. Stoke level 12/10!


11:25am Ride buddy gets a flat. Stop to throw a tube in because TWO sidewall tears! Specialized tires... enough said :)

11:45-12:45pm Climb Holy Jim trail with "Oh Holy Night' stuck in my head. Replace night with Jim and make up carol about Holy Jim trail. Ride buddy pulls lots of ninja skills riding magic, and impressed but shouldn't be surprised.

12:45pm Fill bottle with questionable "spring" water, say goodbye to ride buddy and head back up to Santiago peak. This time I do take the singletrack short cut though, so don't quite go to the peak a second time.

1:20pm Turn onto Joplin trail, proceed to get soaking wet from the bushes, have an absolute blast floating through gorgeous trail, clean the whole chunky creek bed section, stoke level breaking stoke-o-meter.

1:40pm pass Mercedes SUV on Fireroad between Joplin and Luge with 2 flats, no driver, just sitting there on the trail...

2:00 Turn onto pavement from the bottom of the Luge, Stoke through the roof, stomach empty. Refill bottle with clean water at Cooks, eat a waffle.

3:00pm (ish) Arrive home, devour huge plate of home made nachos, wash bikes, start list of chores for the day.


Statistics: 57.5 miles, 11,875 ft ascent, 4,200 calories burned, 2 GUs + 1 waffle + 1 package Chomps consumed, 6 hours 53 minutes of moving time, 2 favorite trails descended, 2 favorite climbs ascended, average stoke 10/10!

The anatomy of a good day.
This is what a VERY happy Larissa looks like. 






Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ok, Here's the Dealio Part 1: Mountain Bikes

Here's the ditty on the 2016 Schedule. Obviously we will adjust some things as we go, races will be added and omitted as we see how my body responds to training and various stressors of the season. But more or less this is how the season is shaping up, and a few of my goals for 2016!

For starters here are the mountain bike races I am targeting.

March 14 US Cup Bonelli C3
April 2 US Cup Fontana HC
April 9 US Cup Bonelli #2 HC
April 16 US Cup Sea Otter HC
May 22 World Cup #2 Albstadt, Germany
May 29 World Cup #3 Le Bresse, France
June 18 US Cup Missoula HC
June 23 Angel Fire XCT
June 28-July 3 World Championships Nove Mesto
July 9 World Cup #4 Lenzerheide, Switzerland
July 12 Nationals (Mammoth!)
July 23 WORS Cup (Wisconsin)
July 30 Boston Rebellion
August 7 World Cup #5 Mount Sainte Anne, Canada
August 13 Windham XCT

Holy moley this is a long list already! It's weird to look at this upcoming season from the perspective I have now, post last year's results and experiences. I have much more confidence and stoke about the repeat races as well as the new races and travel this coming year will bring. I am so ready to make this leap into racing the European World Cups, and am going to work my booty off to make the World's team this year (have I mentioned that wearing the USA kit in a race has been a LONG LONG time life goal of mine?) I am also hoping to add in Whiskey 50 and Grand Junction Off Road if things are going well when those races come up, as well as some other fun stuff like Annadel XC, Idylwild, Keyesville... :)

Goals: This is the scary part for me. It was cool looking back at my 2015 resume earlier this fall and realizing I met every goal I set for myself last season, but as I continue to improve in results and fitness, setting loftier goals is scary because I'm at the point where I may be setting goals I that will be very hard to accomplish. My sister told me last year that anything worth doing would probably be scary, and the whole point of this blog is to be as open and transparent about bike racing and all that goes along with it as possible so here goes. I'm going to put the fear of failure, and self doubt aside for a minute and lay it all out there, this is what I would LOVE to achieve this year (Some of these are pretty lofty goals, but I need to have something to bust my butt for!).
Win a US Cup race (that would be so so cool)
Top 25 at a World Cup (That one I think will be a lot easier as I move up in the starting positions)
Top 3 at Nationals (one off that last year with a head cold...)
Podium at Sea Otter
Qualify for the Olympic team (how could I not have THAT as a goal, practically written in sharpie on my forehead, driving every watt of every training ride :)!)
Somehow find a way to thank all the people who are cheering for and supporting me! I know pinning it in every race is one way, and I promise to make you all proud!

A note on Australia. This has been the stickiest part of the season planning, but after a lot of serious (not typical Larissa Spazy) discussion about how best to attack the season, coach Matt, team director and life coach Adam, RideBiker VP Colt, and boss man Scott all think that it will be smarter to attack the US Cup races full bore in March and April, and then throw myself into big travel World Cups. This ensures I don't destroy my early season chasing one single result, allows me to pool and concentrate resources on the Euro races, and is also a good approach at gaining the points necessary for Olympic qualification. The decision to skip World Cup #1 wasn't made lightly, but now that I understand the Olympic selection criteria a little more, I like this strategy. It's an amazing feeling having a team of super experienced and smart people supporting me. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who is helping me get to the World Cup races, and to the entire RideBiker staff who do the hard work to make it all happen. From designing my kit, to monitoring my training and progress and analysing what races I should do.

Part 2 will be 2016 road season schedule, and 3 is clinics and camps coming up! I have a lot to write about, but thankfully also, a little more time to do it now :)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

One Last Epic Saturday

Still working on the race plan/schedule update post (I'm such a spaz and so busy lately that I want to sit down and put some thought into it) but for now, a very quick recap of yesterday's last fun long day in the Santa Anas with Carl, until next year.

My bae. 
We went out with one final 50 mile collection of amazing back country trails (although in SoCal the 'back country' is really between two super densely populated urban areas, but we take what we can get :). I can't reall discuss the whole route because there may have been some naughty trail choices, hence the Strava ride title "I'm getting coal for Christmas" but legal stuff we rode was wicked fun, steep silly trail, that had me beaming all morning. It included another run down Yeager Mesa, which was AGAIN the best ten minutes of my life, and East Horsethief,  which was crazy rutty and hard and ridiculous as always.

Our ride took us up and over the "range" twice, included 3.5 long climbs, one peanutbutter and banana sandwich and about 15 minutes of me thinking I wanted Carl to call a helicopter because I had lost my desire to live. Apparently I'm still learning how to eat often enough on longer rides because a beet, ginger, banana flavored packet of stuff helped turn my attitude around. That and the revelation that I felt so dang good last weekend because I didn't do intervals all week, where this week had muscle tensions on Tuesday and Thursday. Somehow just acknowledging that my body was more tired for a specific reason helped loads mentally. Also, can we just talk for a minute about how freaking awesome a peanut butter and banana sando is on an 8 hour ride?! Seriously, so simple but SO dang good.
Some pictures from the day.
Our lunch spot was at a firemen's memorial on hwy 74. Not a bad place to eat a sando and reflect on/thank the firemen who gave their lives fighting fires all over CA. 
Mini Stonehenge. I did some rock climbing to get this shot of m favorite bike in the middle. If you know where this is you are pretty cool but also naughty... :)

See that trail ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE!? We are going there, and then we have to climb back out over that mountain in the distance. Yeah, at this point I wanted to kill Carl. Good thing the descent that followed was amazing!
This is my 'I'm SO FREAKING GLAD we are done climbing' face. Also This is the point when I wanted a burrito so bad I almost hitch hiked. Also also, it's fun to see my friends from a new perspective. My friends being all the different peaks and valleys of Cleveland National Forest.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Quick Update (and I'll never be done saying thank you)

The last school week of this sub job is plugging away, and I am looking very forward to full time training and all that again very soon. Some exciting things are in the works for team RideBiker and I can't wait to sit down and introduce my new and returning set of sponsors for 2016. For now let me just say that a tramp stamp on my kit is happening... :)

We are excited, can you tell?
The race calendar is filling in nicely as well, and I will have a nice update on how coach and I are going to approach the 2016 season too. A lot of people are asking me when my next race is, and I want to put the general plan together before sharing it.

It's been a bit rough blogging while teaching and training because I go right from one activity to the next all day and land heavily in bed at 9 exhausted every night, but man do I love where life is going. And honestly I thrive on this go go go schedule, so I'm enjoying every moment of each day to the fullest.

If you are looking for some entertainment this afternoon head over to http://mountainbikeradio.com/thepath/larissa-connors/ and listen to a most likely embarrassing little podcast we taped a few days ago :)

The kids are taking a unit test right now, but class is over in 10 min... So I'm off to do some intervals, my favorite kind of work :)
A new bike sponsor?!?! I'm so excited I can't keep my wheels on the ground!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Push-A-Kona Ride Recap and Never Ending Gratitude :)

Riders climbing Trabuco in the early am. 
Push-A-Kona is one of my favorite days of the year (or two days that one time!). For those who aren't familiar with the ride, it's a big fun group ride put on by local all around awesome (and super strong) guy Darin. The route is usually about 30-40 miles, anywhere from 8-13,000 ft of ascent, and involves the best Santa Ana trails. Usually about 30 people come out to participate, and most are riding the trails for their first time. If you're a roadie maybe you are thinking 40 miles sounds like small beans, but these are the 40 hardest miles you will ride, with some super steep, technical climbing and very technical descents. I love the event so much because Carl and I ride in the Santa Ana's A LOT but usually we don't see anyone else out there. Bombing down an incredible descent and coming across so many cool people, or running into friendly faces at rest stops is pretty special to me. Sharing this amazing network of trails, seeing all the smiles, and hearing everyone's stories about their ride is really freaking cool.
Ridge line riding for days :) (Los Pinos trail)
This year the route was to ascend Trabuco trail, go down Los Pinos, up San Juan trail, and down Yeager Mesa. Because we wanted to see people more than once, and because we may have a mental disorder, Carl and I decided to modify a bit by heading up West Horsethief, down Pinos, up San Juan, down Yeager Mesa, up Trabuco and down Bell Ridge. This would also extend the ride time for us to more closely match the group so we could end and hang out with everyone afterwards. We ended the day with 50 miles, just short of 13k ascent. 

The recap: We started at 7am, and it was freakin' cold for SoCal, think mid 40's. The climb up West was nicer than I remembered and Carl was taking shots with some rad dudes at Pinos peak in no time. On the descent we caught Darin which was super cool, and passed about 15 others. I got to ride the Felt Decree again (a bike that Brendan designed) and was freaking out about how awesome it was the whole way down. The best part was cleanly riding some really techy loose rock problems, and tight crazy switchbacks that I usually have to walk or dab through. That bike is so capable and fun in the Pinos chunk!

At the bottom we hung out for a bit with a huge group of riders at the first aid station. Carl took more shots while I told everyone who would listen about the Decree (I have a mad crush on that bike) and ate a GU. The cool thing about that bike is that as well as it descends, it climbs just as well, so I couldn't not push the pace when we headed up San Juan. It also helped that I was smart and took it easy up to that point, it may have taken 2 months, but I finally remembered how to pace myself on long rides. 

At the top of San Juan we ran into more rad folks, ate a waffle, soaked up the gorgeous scenery, and headed off for the second aid station and 'the wall'.  One of my favorite things about Orange County is how pretty the Santa Ana's are in winter, when the sun is low all day, and light filters through the trees in a magical way. At the second rest stop Pat lubed my chain while Carl and I split the fluffiest, most delicious donut known to man. It was unbelievably good :) The donuts are another reason I love this ride so much! After we fueled up, we cruised up the wall and headed towards Yeager. 
The descent down Yeager Mesa drops you down 2,000 ft in about 10 minutes and it was absolutely the best ten minutes of my life. The dirt was perfect, the Decree handled the crazy steep trail like a boss, and I rode the whole thing (minus where the bridge used to be) without putting a foot out, which is VERY rare for me. At the bottom I almost cried tears of joy. We don't have a lot of real dirt, big trees, no rocks descents in SoCal, so this trail is super special. 

Then we climbed Trabuco (again I couldn't help pushing the pace because DECREE!!! after 5.5 hours HOW ARE YOU STILL SO FUN!?!) and then I was a total boob and bombed Bell Ridge without waiting for Carl. Sometimes in a long ride with social stops I start to get impatient at the end and want to just shred without stopping. Also it's the Decree's fault, that and the hero conditions, and I knew if I rode like a banshee I would take the Bell QOM from myself, which I did. Descending Bell in well under 40 minutes, which is the third fastest time overall, men or women :)
We give PAK 2015 a huge thumbs up!
After the ride I had a quick hose and dawn dish soap bath (poison oak paranoia), some amazing taco soup and got to hear some stories from other riders as they cruised in. I didn't get to see Darin finish because there was a nutella star at home that needed to be baked (yes, it is as amazing as it sounds), but caught up with the man himself at a Christmas party later in the evening. 

I know I've been saying this a lot lately, but I am once again at a loss for words regarding the kindness and generosity of the mountain biking community here in SoCal. Thanks to everyone who shared kind and encouraging words throughout the day yesterday, thanks for supporting my World Cup journey and thanks for generally just being so dang awesome. I am very lucky to know all of you and to get to ride bikes with you! I don't really feel like saying thank you is enough, but I promise I will tear my legs off this year and I will make you proud! 

And lastly, I am super impressed with Hannah Binder, a high school student from THS who finished the ride in about 11 hours. This kid has never ridden most the trails PAK covered, but she stuck it out, and I am super impressed she made it to the finish! 




Saturday, December 12, 2015

As a Wise Man Once Said, 'Shoot Man... WOW!'

The past week has been pretty eye opening amazing. I am incredibly humbled by the love you all have shown me and inspired by your support! It's one thing to put my head down and work hard, train hard, go to bed early... but to have so many friends and family members step up to help make the next piece of the puzzle possible has been such an incredible experience. Thank you for all your encouraging and nice words, and for helping raise the money for the international travel. At this point I feel like making it to the first three (most important for Olympic reasons) Worlds Cups is very possible, and will be making a plan for the season with coach/the team director soon. I will share this info and keep the blog updated as soon as I know more about the game plan. In the mean time, know that I have been freaking out all week with gratitude, and that I plan to train my brains out to make you all proud :)

Also, a few pictures from Wednesday's ride in Laguna. We got to do a fun little ride with Crank Brothers and about 150 rad mountain bikers. The evening ended with a pretty fantastic sunset and fog rolling in over the ocean. Life is good.
Looking out over Crystal Cove from El Morro Park. 

Orange County is a FANTASTIC place to live if you love mountain bikes!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Some Clarification, Maybe.

I've been getting a lot of questions about the recent Olympic Long List news (EEEH, still crazy stoked) and I thought now would be a great chance to clarify a few of those questions!

1) What does the long list even mean?
The long list (as I understand it) is like the first cut for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. There are 8 women on the list, two automatic nominations and 6 discretionary adds. I am a discretionary add. Being on the list means I have a fair shot at one of the 2 spots on the actual Olympic team.

2) When will those 2 be selected?
I think June 24 is our day (and my sissy's birthday!)

3) How will those 2 be selected?
There is a whole laundry list of things USA Cycling is looking at, but what it comes down to is mostly the World Cup standings as of June 24. Most likely the 2 highest ranking US riders will make the Olympic team. There are 5 world cups before that date, and I am hoping to get to 4 of them (the ones in Europe).

4) So what are your chances anyway?
It will be really really hard to qualify if I cannot get to the world cups, and as I wasn't planning on going to the first world cup in Australia that makes it even more difficult (but not impossible). I'm going to work my butt off, but the financial burden of getting to so many races overseas makes it an uphill battle. That being said, I am working so hard to try and raise the funds necessary to get to the important races to keep the dream alive :) After that, in terms of athletic ability and what not, I'm going to try my best, but there are many many very talented ladies on the long list, so I am stoked just to be on the list :) We will see what happens in June!

5) What can I do to help you achieve your Olympic dreams?
Keep being the awesome family, friends, and fans that you are! All the support I've received since the announcement has been overwhelming, and has been even more fuel to the already crazy bonfire of motivation I have roaring away inside my core :) I am so humbled by the number of people who reached out to me to congratulate me on the news about making the long list.
If you are dying to do more, I am still in some serious need for financial support. My team does an amazing job covering all sorts of costs and getting me to tons of races in the US, but I will need to buy some expensive plane tickets this spring, as well as pay for lodging in the countries where the world cups take place. The Sprocketheads have suggested I start a GoFundMe account so the average person can chip in $20 or so (which seriously makes a HUGE difference) so here is a link to that!
But seriously, thanks for the encouragement, for believing in me and for cheering me on. I am STOKED to be in this place in life right now, and so so stoked about this crazy cool opportunity!

In other news, Carl and I went on the stupid-est ride ever this past Sunday. More on that tomorrow, because it's time to GO RIDE BIKES!!
From our crazy stupid ride :)






Sunday, December 6, 2015

Realness Part 2 (not the post I was expecting to write)

So on Thursday when I blogged about feeling kinda beat down part of what I was referring to was physical exhaustion, but there has been a bit of mental/psychological exhaustion/frustration around these parts as well.

Some of the frustration was stemming from the anticipation of the announcement of the XC Olympic team long list on Friday. Early in the week I became aware that the list would be released on Friday, but after a text message convo with the team director I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be on the list. The timing is kinda sucky because I have so little experience racing at the elite level compared to my peers, and being sick all summer means my World Cup results weren't as good as I had hoped they would be. If the Olympics where 2 years from now I would have the perfect amount of time to get experience and results and I would feel a lot more worthy of being on the list. The frustration is part of what caused the Tuesday night crying in bed sesh... pathetic, I know.

So I spent Wednesday and Thursday coming to grips with the idea of not being on the list, and by Friday I had forgotten all about it.

This is my excited to be on the long list face.
Then I get a text from Adam as I'm leaving yoga (maybe one of the most peaceful, grounding yoga classes I've experienced) "You're such a f****** stud. Congrats on making the long team!!" My immediate reaction is to think he's messing with me, but Twitter confirms that yes, my name is on the long team list!
Ensue mini freak out, dancing alone in the locker room of Core Power Yoga, and then a quick pedal to Brendan's work where I wanted to shout the news at every car that passed me. Have I mentioned before that being able to deal with the highs and lows of this sport might be as important as a training plan? I'm not sure I will ever be able to learn to be level headed when amazing news or devastating news comes my way but what a weird/great way to end a pretty tough week.

All my previous doubts and concerns still stand, but that little piece of news could not have come with better timing. I am so motivated to train my guts out, never miss a core workout and do whatever I can to ensure that I perform to my full potential this year. And on top of that, all the encouragement and support I have received from friends, neighbors, students and randos about the news has meant the world to me. Thanks everyone for following my bike racing exploits, and for being so dang encouraging and uplifting :) I'll do my best to make you all proud this year and I guess the glimmer of hope I could go to Rio is a little bit bigger now than ever before!

Oh and then on Sunday I crashed on the least technical trail ever... I guess my ego needed to be taken down a notch! And yes that is my blood on the ground :)




Thursday, December 3, 2015

Realness Part 1

This week has left me wondering how on earth I taught full time and raced last year. That and a combination of frustration with a few things including the effects of getting older (I was sore for TWO days after our 5ish hours of deck demo on Sunday) and wanting to do more than there is time in a day for, had me crying in bed on Tuesday night after my workout. My back hurt, I was on my bike before the sun was up and again till after the sun set and was looking ahead to three more days of the same, and I may be a bit of a drama queen.

But let's keep it real here. I am not happy, smiley, pumped on life 100% of the time. The dishes pile up, the laundry (how is there always so much laundry?!?) always needs to be done, I neglect to walk the dog more than I'd like to admit, and our floors seem to be dirty within a day of sweeping. On top of that there is quite a bit of work to be done in creating and maintaining relationships with sponsors, core workouts, bike maintenance etc. Sometimes I long for an hour to read and drink hot chocolate. An hour to sit with my feet up and NOTHING on my to do list, to let my brain and body recover a bit.

BUT as I sat in bed (for the 15 minutes I allowed myself before continuing to get stuff done) wallowing in my sore, tired, overwhelmed state I think my brain started processing some things that I never really have time to figure out when doing 100 things all day.

For starters I know I am super lucky to be so busy. It may be physically painful sometimes, but I'm glad to have the opportunity to teach full time right now, and train, and work on the house... On top of that I'm lucky to live in a place where I CAN ride my bike from sun rise to sun set in a comfortable temperature!

Secondly, I create this mess of a schedule/to do list type of life, so I have the power to back off the pressure to get so much done. No one is coming over for dinner this week, so it's ok to have some dirty dishes in the sink! There is no badge or award for the longest to do list, so it's ok to focus on a few important things and not worry so much about the others.

Also no two years are the same. One of the things that has been stressing me most lately is the memory of doing SO much more yoga last year, going rock climbing, having time to run three days a week, but not understanding how to fit that all in now. It's ok though for things to be different from one year to the next. I'm still motivated, and dedicated to training, my season isn't going to be shot just because my fall looked a little different (let's hope!).

And lastly I need to be better at asking for help/am super lucky to have such a sweet husband who is willing to jump in when I need him to. It makes such a huge difference when Brendan feeds the chickens, swaps tires on my mtb, or unloads the dishwasher, so why not just ask when I'm drowning in chores and still need to do a core workout.
Sunset Weds ride with some of the best :)

Then on Wednesday night I drove over to Laguna for my favorite ride of the week, and somehow all the stress and tiredness and soreness kinda melted away. I rode a fun bike with fun people and had a generally fantastic time riding through cactus and over rocks. None of the undone chores or unanswered emails mattered. And it felt really dang good to smile again, to be overly enthusiastic and freakin' love life and bikes

Maybe we need to wallow for a minute every once and a while. That time, the focus on what was wrong and why, really helped me regain some perspective and shift my mindset. The week is still long, the things I need to do still numerous, but I'm ok with being in the middle of it, not rushing to get to the end.



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thanksgiving Break and Stuff

Holy cow life is crazy right now. I'm super grateful for this long term sub job, but having a hard time understanding how I worked full time and trained last year because this week has been kinda rough! Life has been good lately though, full but good.

Here's a quick rundown of what we have been up to lately.

The Sat before Thanksgiving Brendan and I ran down to Nobel canyon with some cool kids to do a little photo shoot/ride bikes on arguably the best trails in SoCal. I got the opportunity to ride the new trail bike Brendan worked on for the past two years (more on that in January :), and felt like a little kid hitting the wall rides, floating over rocks and accidentally getting air-born a few times. The weather was perfect, and it was crazy fun watching the shredders in front of me take rad lines and shred the loam (haha, there was no loam but I guess when you compare real dirt to Yucaipa anything feels like loam).

So many sweet trail bikes... swoon :)
Saturday night we went to the NICA fundraiser in Temecula and stayed up past our bedtime making art for a good cause. The concept behind the fundraiser was really creative which meant Brendan and I were challenged to tap into our artistic sides!


Hadn't seen my sweet Nana in 2 years!
The majority of the remainder of the week long Thanksgiving break was spent in VA and SC visiting family. It was great seeing all the relatives, eating delicious southern food, like boiled peanuts, and not riding bikes for a few days. I even did a bit of running, including attempting to compete in the Virginia Beach Turkey Trot 10k (which I failed at due to a torn/pulled quad muscle). It's incredible how much I feel like I fit in with the Fitchett's, being around your own kind is a pretty special thing.


I have pretty awesome aunts and uncles :)
Pre 10k Turkey Trot with Uncle Bubba and a Marian
I flew home on Friday and immediately jumped on my bike to spin out the 6 hours of plane time. Then I proceeded to spend the whole day Saturday on my mountain bike hitting the Lung Loop with Carl (the magic action photographer).

How does Carl take such good pictures with his phone!?!?!
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Sunday = more mountain bikes + playing with a crazy fun new toy (more on that soon) and then lots of deck work involving a jack hammer :) We don't mess around over here, but let's be honest, both Brendan and I are sore from that little demo situation. More on the deck soon, but now it's time to eat some dinner snacks and go to bed! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

TGIF

I can actually say that because I have been teaching ALL WEEK (except Monday :). this sub job is long term- think through Christmas break, so I'm back in the world of responsible adults contributing to society and stuff. Thankfully the school is closed for the full Thanksgiving break though, so I'll have a bit of time with family next week!

Coming back to full time work has been kinda nice because the structure is something I did miss a bit when I wasn't teaching every day. Also, I like that exhausted feeling at the end of the day when you wake up with the sun, commute, work, commute and then do a workout on the bike. Being super tired... why do I love it so?

I'm off to go ride bikes now, but I have to say that with the shape of things in the world, I have been super grateful for pretty much everything in my life right now. Have you seen that photo essay of refugee children and where they sleep? I was looking at those pictures and crying my eyes out last night. Made me really conscious of the fact I have nothing to complain about. So so sad.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Oh Hello There Monday!

It's been a while! I can't really say this is because I've been crazy busy, but when I think back on the 7 days since I last blogged they have been quite full. The past week was spent getting as much work done on the house as possible, riding my brains out, and cooking some ferocious meals. And the weekend was not entirely spent on bikes... so that was weird as well. Here's a quick house project/random stuff post for this nice lazy Monday morning.

The next house demo project we decided to tackle is the front deck, which was so badly termite damaged when we bought the house in 2010 that parts of it were unsafe to walk on. We bought just enough Trex (on clearance at Home Depot!) about 3 years ago to replace the deck, but they have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the laundry room and race season to end to be put to use. Like a baffoon I took no before pictures of the old deck, but here is what it looks like post old deck removal, which I did 90% of alone while Brendan was at work (Call me a constrution woman :)!
Looking down at where the deck used to be from the East side of the yard (Davey's side).
Looking at where the deck used to be from the West side of the yard (Chicken's side).
The demolition of the deck wasn't too terribly difficult, save trying to not be attacked by about 145,000 spiders. While I am anxious to start rebuilding, Brendan wants to replace the pump and filter (the big beige orb up in the above picture) that belong to the Koi pond with something smaller and maybe cycle the old fish water to the garden. He actually got the waterfall (on the left of the picture below) to work yesterday, so we are seriously considering raising Tilapia and using their poo to fertilize the veggies. It's kinda cool being married to such a visionary who isn't afraid of tackling a hard project (like the compost toilet) to try something cool like fish farming!
Of course we got distracted a lot yesterday, trimming the hedges which grow crazy fast and always want to molest you!
Another cool thing that happened this past weekend is that we went to the bike path dedication of the Juanita Moe trail. Juanita is responsible for fighting tooth and nail to get so many bike paths and lanes in Irvine and other parts of Orange County, which have saved countless lives because now us cyclists don't have to be in the road! It was pretty cool hearing about Juanita's dedication and perseverance, and to see so many representatives of the city of Irvine's City Council come out to honor her. It's pretty obvious this place values cycling as recreation and transportation!
Cutting the ribbon on the path that now bears her name. 
That about wraps up what's been going on over here. Now it's time to go ride bikes and enjoy one last day before going back to teaching full time tomorrow through Christmas!



Monday, November 9, 2015

Mt San Jacinto with Taryn-dactyl: Peak 4 out of 6

On Saturday Brendan and I got a special treat, Taryn was in town from Salt Lake and spent the whole day with us! Like the questionably good friend I am, I drug both of them out of bed at 5:30am to drive out to Idyllwild and hike for 5 hours. I have been slowly chipping away at the list of the 6 best peaks to hike in SoCal in an effort to see new places/do something off the bike, and this one was the 4th in a list of 6 recommended by this dude.

The hike started out pleasantly cool, and we quickly ran into snow, which started as spotty, side of the trail type snow and became cover the entire ground snow by halfway up to the peak. Although I was in tennis shoes it was never too serious of a problem, but there were some slippery, icy situations which slowed us down quite a bit.

We had such a great time catching up, peeing every ten minutes and enjoying the scenery that the first 3 miles flew by. There were quite a few other hikers out, including the obligatory SoCal 'I play my dub step for all the hear' dude who we kindly asked to not share his music with the entire mountain side!
Taryn is such a good friend that when I say 'Put your head in that bush' she does it! 
The second half of the ascent was punctuated by large chunks of ice falling from the trees around us as it was sunny enough to melt the snow turned ice clinging to the tops of all the trees. this was a little scary, but thankfully no one got hit! The ground alternated between fluffy soft snow, chunks of ice the size I like in my soda, big old chunks that were awkward to hike through and solid slipper ice. The contrast between the white ground, and green trees/vibrantly blue sky was pretty incredible, I think our timing with the weather was pretty darn good/lucky!

The summit was PACKED which was understandable as it was such a nice day. We ate our Nutella and banana sandos, and hurried back down because we had to be back in Orange County by 4pm. I kinda wish I had tried to identify the other SoCal peaks from the top since San Jacinto has one of the best views of the different mountains around. 
Obviously we took a picture at the top :)
Everyone and their mother was there!
And then we booked it for home. This hike felt a lot easier than any of the previous ones. I suspect that going Brendan pace for the first 3 miles on the way up as well as the fact that the whole thing was 13 miles are the reason I wasn't sore or tired at the end. Usually the insides of my hips get really angry on these hikes, but maybe I'm adapting... one can only hope. The great thing about hiking for cyclists is that you use a bunch of muscles and tendons that are normally neglected. I think balancing out those parts of the body is pretty important. That and the bone strengthening effect of all that impact!

The plan is to hit one of the remaining peaks on Sat, can't remember which one. Then I'll have to squeeze the last one in before it's too wintery and cold! I'll be back to training on my bike starting tomorrow, but the OCD part of me can't handle not getting all 6 + whitney done in one year :)