Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WHAT UP, Wednesday!

You know what I love about bike racing, besides bike racing itself? The fact that every day is basically the best day, and I don't ever wake up wishing the week was over yet! It's the best! It's the middle of the week, and I am as stoked as I get on Friday, because WEDNESDAY!!! (well, I may have had a little too much coffee today, but still!!!)

Reasons why (almost) every day is the best day:

When I come home there is this huge, adorable, disaster of a dog who CAN'T WAIT to say hi to me! Plus 5 chickens who are freakin' out that I'm home (really they just want table scraps...)
Dave-dog playing soccer, you know, like he does. 
Chanaenae :)
Coffee. That is all.

Bikes- Sometimes I ride 'em to school AND home from school AND in the dirt all in one day! Sometimes I don't ride them at all (like today) but I still think about them...
Bikes AND goats?! No freaking way!
Husband- He is pretty happy to see me after work too, but mostly I think that's because I make dinner, and sometimes I cut his hair. He calls me the wife of a thousand uses... ok, maybe that part is a bit weird...

Husband with chicken... he's such a good dad :)
Sometimes (well, just one time) people recognize me on the road and I feel famous! Really, that really did happen this week. I smiled all afternoon after that happened :)

Basically, also, every weekend is some rad bike race, where I will get to see all the cool kids, and ride bikes and hang out, and that's the best of the best. This weekend I get to race road bikes AND mountain bikes (if all goes to plan, or maybe it's if all doesn't go to plan. I'll let you know what that questionable plan was AFTER the weekend!) And a wise man once told me the key to life is always feeling like there is something to look forward to/ that right now is the best, and basically I guess that's how life feels right now.

Now I need to go get this caffeine out of my system somehow...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

US Cup #2 Fontana HC

8pm Saturday night and I'm still thinking 'what the heck just happened?!' about the Fun-tucky race this morning! It was a brutal, tactical mess of a good time, and although I would have loved to place as well as last weekend, I am proud to say I crossed the line in 9th at the hardest race at the season so far.
A quick recap of the race from the front lines :) (or if you want to watch the whole race, you can go here)

A good call up can make a huge difference in a big field!
The start was fast and furious, but I managed to land a good position going into the first climb. Then, a rider crashed in front of me and held me up  on the single track section of the climb, so when it opened up again I put in a solid effort to pass her and bridge to the lead group before the descent. I had to put another solid effort in on the flat backside of the course because two of us were gapped off on the long descent.

Right as I made contact with the lead group of 4 Pendrel looked back and attacked the heck out of the group (ON LAP 2!!!). No more playing nice, letting me sit in on their train! I had just worked my booty off bridging to them, so I had very little legs to respond with, and kept climbing at a consistently hard pace.

I'm not sure how many more times I bridged to the leaders (if really at all) but I gave it all I had on that second climb, and then again on the third, and ended up just burning all my matches in the first half of the race. It was a bit frustrating being able to see the lead group just ahead of me, but not being able to make contact on lap 3 and 4.
Start of lap 4, still determined to bridge back to the next rider, but fading...
A few times in the race I got shoved around by other riders, once so badly that I ended up in some rocks and had to run with my bike for 15 seconds till the top of a climb (thank goodness for all that Rad's hike-a-bike practice :)! It really felt like a whole different experience from last weekend where I didn't have to defend my personal space. A few people warned me about this last week, that racing gets physical and I need to be able to throw elbows, but I didn't really believe it till I was in the heat of this race.

Other random highlights from this race included feeling like I had a fan club, the spectators were awesome, and the cheering top shelf! I got to rock brand spanking new sunnies courtesy of Oakley, and it seriously helped relieve my eyes of the bright as crap sun. AND Scalpy was so fun to descend on, it helps that the descent was rocky, swoopy and rad! Oh, also, #probablysmiling happened on twitter today, that made me, well, smile!

Overall I'm happy to land a top 10 in a race with 60 starters, and although that was harder and less rewarding than last week, I'm stoked to do some good work in the next two weeks so I can tear it up at Bonelli #2 on April 11! First I may do some road racing though... :)

Excited to wear #4 this week. Maybe I will get to wear it again sometime in the future!
Now I'm preparing for short track by sitting on the couch with my feet up while Brendan educates me on quality music. Think "Fat Babies" hahaha, they have no pride, haha.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Little Sister Wisdom

It's Thursday, I just got out of school and I'm sitting in the same chair, at the same coffee shop I visited last week on this day, drinking the same chai latte. Yeah, you could say I'm a little superstitious :) This weekend will be another test of the fitness, will, and tenacity of some of the world's best mountain bikers, and I want it to turn out EXACTLY like last weekend. I know I can't be in control of the outcome of the race, and repeating my exact behaviours the few days prior guarantees nothing, but it's giving me peace of mind, and for now, that's enough.
Maybe I should just hope I enjoy the race this weekend as much as I did last weekend!
This week I've been living on a high brought on by the joy of performing well, and the love and encouragement of so many friends, family, and strangers. For me, this high has come with a new stress though. I feel like I have to repeat last weekends performance to prove it wasn't a fluke event, and I am scared that people expect something of me I might not be able to deliver. When discussing these thoughts with little sister this week she said something I thought was really profound, something to the effect of 'it's only scary because it's worth it.' I really like this outlook, and I think I'm going to claim it as my inner mantra this season. It's scary to aim high and risk failing, especially when others are watching. Racing wouldn't be half as exciting if it wasn't so scary though. At least I can rest in the fact that I've done my homework, I am still the same dorky bike nerd I was last week at this time, and that I no matter the outcome, I will probably still have a blast in the dirt!
Could not have been more happy than each time I cleaned the A-line last weekend!
So here's to having fun suffering it out with those crazy fast chicas again! Let's do this!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lessons Learned: Bonelli Edition

Sweet pic from the 15 minutes of agony that was short track on Sunday.
So basically I just can't let go of this past weekend just yet. If you're sick of reading about the US Cup Bonelli Park race, read no further. If not, well here is what I learned this weekend.
  • Keep your social media updated. Otherwise you may end up being 'the future math teacher who wants a goat' hahaha. Not that this is entirely untrue about me, but that Twitter profile info is from 2010! 
  • Don't drink electrolyte drink mix that expired in 2103 (when it it currently 2015). It may be a little less effective than non-expired stuff, and could cause epic cramping... not a fun one to learn the hard way. Or maybe I just need to drink more during the first half of races. Prob should have been concentrating on that instead of showing off for the helicopter. 
The most legit podium I have ever worn street clothes on.
  • Bring a back-up kit. Just do it. Who cares if you don't end up on the podium. If you do place top 5, you end up on a podium as the girl in a tee shirt and short shorts when everyone else is in a clean kit... geeze. >>
  • There is a ton to be said for sheer experience. Just being there at the start line for the third year in a row felt like a completely different experience, mostly because I was not nearly as nervous! Also, I watched the women in front of me during the race, I wanted to learn as much as possible from them, and they seem at home racing with each other. Heck, they even knew to not go all out on the first three laps, that's a mistake I make basically every time I race bikes!

  • Persistence, that one is really important too. This is my third year racing at the 'pro level' in the sense that it is my third season lining up in these races. There have been times when I felt discouraged because my results weren't improving fast enough, when I was not sponsored, and when mechanicals or illness took me out. Despite the rough times, I have been giving it my all in training for the past year (didn't really have a coach until a year ago), and I finally saw the fruits of all my labor this past weekend. I think this is the most important thing I learned this past weekend, that it takes time, that it won't go as you hope it will in every race, but if you stick with it long enough, things will come around.
Now I'm setting my sights on next weened's HC Fontana race, trying to get my legs to stop hurting, and enjoying every day life for a bit :)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

US Cup #1 Bonelli Park

Can I just start by saying I LOVE racing bikes. I love it when I finish in 15th place, and I love it when I place top 5. Thankfully Bonelli Park was a top 5 sort of day. Here are the highlights.

1. Awesome start, no crashes, somehow managed to finish the start lap in the top 15.

2. Realizing that the leaders were pacing themselves on the climbs on laps 1 and 2, and also feeling out of my mind happy that I too was pacing myself (didn't have to go all out to stay with them).

3. At the start of lap 2 I decided to go to the front when the group sat up for a second, just so the helicopter could get a shot of little old me on the front :) You know, just in case shit hit the fan and I didn't finish in the top 10. I may never again be leading a group that includes Catherine Pendrel and Emily Batty!
Yeah, this was during the race... :)
4. I rode the A-line on all 7 laps! And I only had to dab once! Also I was so shocked I had to announce to the spectators "I did it!" on each lap, to which they were so encouraging :) Thanks for cheering guys! 

5. Shredding some steep, loose, off camber descents and thinking 'it's just like a Rad's ride, let it go, and it will all work out'. I am so grateful for the Laguna Rads letting me tag along on their rides, putting up with my incessant talking, and teaching me how to descend!

6. EPIC CRAMPS! I cramped so hard the time I unclipped on the A-line on lap 5 that I thought I was going to have to pull out of the race. Then for the next two laps I had to keep telling myself that the pain was just in my mind, and that I could handle it. I would suffer like hell on the climbs and try to relax as much as possible on the descents, and somehow held on to 4th place. I have never experienced such sever cramping before, it was agony. Then after the race I had a few moments cooling down when I was in tears the pain was so bad. 

7. First ever post race interview! It was a lot weirder than I thought it would be, did I talk too much? Did I mention the right sponsors? Did I even answer the interviewer's question? Haha, I must have sounded like such a boob! Oh, and Catherine Pendrel mentioned ME in her interview!!! Best. DAY. EVER!

8. Podium. I did not plan on placing in the top 5 this morning, therefore I did not bring 2 clean kits to the race, thus the Larissa Connors in street clothes on the podium trend continues! Also, Georgia Gould sprayed Champagne up my nose. Again, BEST DAY EVER!!!!

9. So much other random fun stuff happened today. I got to go into the Cannondale Factory team motorhome (because I invited myself in, you know, like a boss), and met some awesome Italian guy who lives in Santa Rosa! Also, it was a fancy motor home! So so fancy. I got FREE popcorn. oh, and I was called 'the future math teacher who wants a goat' by the race announcer, haha!

As you already know bike races are not won (or finished in 4th place) by one person alone. So a huge shout out to all the Big Bear guys who put on the races here in SoCal, plus all the other locals cheering for me, that is THE BEST feeling. Thanks for tolerating the heat to be on the course cheering guys, you all made my day, and it really makes racing bikes WAY more fun when you are there cheering :) Thanks to my awesome coach who told me yesterday that I could place top 5 (even though I didn't believe it!), and to hubs-magubs, for driving all over, standing in the heat to give me bottles, and always cheering me on, when I am in 15th place, and when I'm in 4th place :)

Pics will be added when B-dan sends em to me...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thankful Thursday (on a Tuesday)

So, I may have mentioned on here before that there is such a thing as too much bike riding. Although it seems counter intuitive to someone like me, who lives to grind up steep fire roads and surf the scree on a loose swoopy descent, overtraining is a real thing, and it kinda blows. On one hand, I love riding bikes and want to go ride more bikes. On the other hand I am tired, grumpy, cry about stupid things like Davey eating a bin of ginger snaps from Trader Joe's and I have saddle sores up the wazoo (haha literally. Gross, I know). So what does one do when the most important race of the season thus far is this coming weekend and one feels pooped out? 
Not the best picture of B*, but if you've been there you know that there is also a bit of single track in there too!
Some would say take some time off, stop formally training, rest your body, and do something other than biking all the time for a while. I have a hard time with that answer, so today I decided to try a different approach. I decided to think about all the stuff I am grateful for on my cool down after today's workout, and that really helped shift my attitude/perspective. 

Here is what I am most grateful for today.

Blackstar Canyon, and Harding Truck Trails. I live within riding distance of two amazing hour long fire road climbs that are perfect for so many of my workouts. I thought about all the possible places I could live where there are no 5-8% hour long climbs near by, and I just felt overwhelmed with gratitude that we happened to buy a house with multiple options! Right now the dirt roads are lined with wildflowers and fluffy green grass, and it is so so pretty up in the canyons. 
Scalpy loves the fluffy green too!
Perspective, that's what I need to get my motivation and drive back :) I'm already getting more stoked for this weekend! Suck it overtraining!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Weekend Recap

Time is flying by, mostly filled with training, cleaning the house (how is there so much cleaning to do?) eating amazing food, and spending time with awesome people. Here is a brief recap of the weekend.
Finding my happy place on one of the best roads in SoCal.
We headed out to LA on Saturday morning so I could sneak a preview of GMR for San Dimas Stage Race, and Brendan could hike with Dave Dog. I cannot believe how beautiful the climb up Glendora Mountain Road was, and that I had never been there before!
Water, in LA!? WHAAAA???
There was a lake down below at one point, a snow capped mountain in the near distance, and hardly any cars. I even found a sweet single track trail at the top to ride down rather than take pavement.
Expert photography, thumb included for scale of awesomeness.
The AR FRD (my road bike) did not love the trail as much as me, but we made it down in one piece, creek crossings and all. 

For lunch on Sat Brendan and I FINALLY tracked down Kogi Food Truck for another burrito on our list of 12 life changing burritos. We ate a spicy pork, and a short rib burrito, both of which were amazing! It was totally worth the wild goose chase and traffic. Then Davey got into the glove box and stole the leftovers while we snuck into the grocery store for 5 minutes!
Another hot date with this guy :) 
Then we ran errands and cleaned all afternoon. Being an adult seems to mean a lot of cleaning!

Sunday I finally got to play in the dirt again with Carl in Laguna! It was a glorious ride completed with some of my favorite trails, sweeping ocean views and beautiful weather.
Fluffy green stuff everywhere, rocky steep descents, ocean, I was in heaven!
Can't get enough of the green! I don't think it ever got green last year. 
Photos from my personal photag Carl, haha. 
And after yet more cleaning and yard work we got to have dinner with some awesome mountain biking rockstars who started Non-Dot Adventures complete with Davey stealing a bag of cheese and hot tub time. 

Now we are already knees deep in another work week, but there is the Bonelli Park US Cup to look forward to, so bring it weekdays!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

That Time Winter Came to Vail Lake (Kenda Cup #1 Recap)

We have had a very mild winter in SoCal this year. It's been warm and dry, save for a few minutes of light rain here and there. That all changed Sunday, you know, right in time for the Vail Lake Kenda Cup West season opener! 

I have to admit, I was as skeptical as everyone else before the race. I sat in the car, complaining about the cold, the wet and the damage the mud would do to my bike. I wimped out of pre-riding the course, and barely spun around the parking lot for 10 minutes before heading to the line. I did eat 2/3 of a Chipotle burrito an hour before the race, to continue my tradition of making poor nutritional decisions right before bike races :)

This was one of the less terrible sections of the course.
There were 4 of us total in the Pro Women's field, Evelyn, Leslie (you know that xterra champion who kicked booty at Bonelli two years ago), some Canadian chick and me. I was mentally prepared to give up my 3 race winning streak, but not willing to go down without a fight. The start was a bit messy and soon we were riding single file behind the Canadian chick, chillin', all experiencing the sloppy course for the first time. 
Well, some shenanigans went down, man passing, people wrecking in front of us, the usual, and halfway into lap one Evelyn was off the front, Leslie and I chasing. Then at some point both of them dropped their chains, and somehow I was in the lead. A few more dropped chains and who knows what other shenanigans later, I was leading by quite a bit, and the thought of possible winning crossed my mind. 
In the meantime, we were absolutely shredding the crap out of a usually dry, fast, fun course. There were super soupy Chocolate milk muddy sections, sections of trail with deep, thick ruts of mud and sections that just sucked away your momentum. There were slippery just almost rideable climbs and a few not rideable at all climbs which we ran up, slipped on the mud, fell down, ran into other riders, scrambled to our feet just to fall again climbs. Oh also, descents where you had no hope of being in control, the mud just took your wheels whatever direction it felt like. 

This was a particularly slippery, no good place to get traction for your feet, fall into other people kind of climb.
Basically what I realized during lap 2 (out of 3) was that all I had to do was stay consistent, not drop my chain, keep pushing myself, and with a bit of luck I could win. When I was racing I told myself that I could get caught any second, so I stayed on the gas, especially on the fire road climbs. What I didn't realize was that Leslie pulled out on lap 2, and Evelyn mentally quit on the 20th chain drop/mechanical. Anyway, the theme became 'don't give up' which actually got me through a bunch of almost not ridable climbs, as well as some super sketchy slidy descents! Something else happened on lap 2, I started to have fun in a 'this is a ridiculous thing we are doing' kind of way. 

Having a really hard time figuring out which 'line' to ride, before I figured out that it really didn't matter. Every line was a bad line. 
It got so messy, mud in your mouth, out of control crazy that I was laughing hysterically at times, and then it was over. I guess you could say I won, but really it was all thanks to dumb luck, and my hard headed persistence, not due to incredible fitness or skill. All in all I had a great time, and now I understand why people like racing cyclocross in the mud (but do they really do all this bike cleaning week after week?!). I'm not sure I would want to put my bike through that again soon, but I had a great time and now I'm stoked for the first round of US Cup races at Bonelli Park in a week and a half!