Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kamakazi Games and Mt Whitney

So there isn't much to report about my last race of the season. I was the only one in my class, and thus, I won! I would obviously prefer to have more women in my category/at the race, but I did learn something about bike racing/myself. I learned that although chasing super crazy fast women around like in the world cups is hard, racing by yourself is equally challenging. That may sound silly because all I had to do to 'win' was to finish, however I feel like I should be pushing myself to the limit no matter what the competition is like (including non-existant!), which can be hard when you know in the back of your mind there is no one chasing you. Needless to say, I went hard, tried to mix with the pro men, got my butt kicked, and had a blast! That's pretty much it. Then, today I got some awesomely rad comments on my data from coach about how I actually went harder at Kamikaze Games than at Nats on the same(ish) course, so that was a pretty fun way to end the season :)

Sunday I got to ride with Hubs, which is pretty crazy if you know us, on Rock Creek trail just outside of Mammoth. It was sandy and rocky and super pretty. 

We started at the top and rode down on dirt, and then Brendan surprised me by riding most the way up to the car with me!

See all the rocks!!!

Then we drove to Lone Pine to meet up with hardcore team pursuit track national champ Amanda for the first adventure of the 'off-season'. We choose to hike up Mt Whitney in the middle of the night to get the full 'super moon' experience, and to reach the summit at sunrise. This plan seemed a bit nutty to me, but Amanda was super into it, so I decided it must be a good nutty idea!

We woke up at 12:30am to eat breakfast and drive to Whitney Portal Trail, elevation about 8,000 ft, and began our hike at 1:15am. It was dark, obviously, but the moon was SO bright that I didn't need the headlight I brought at all. We could look out across the canyon and see the mountains surrounding us illuminated by the moon, it was super trippy cool. None of the pictures I took came out, which is sad because it seemed bright as day and everything had a silvery glow in the moon light. We passed maybe 5 other groups of hikers with the same idea, and for much of the hike we could see their headlights behind/below us dotting the trail. I spent most of the hike up looking at my feet and the trail, and before I knew it, we were at the top of the switchbacks (a section with 93 switchbacks, I counted).
From that point we traversed and climbed a bit more, before realizing, oh crap, we were going to have to hustle to make the top at sunrise. I decided that running at 14,000 ft was a great idea, so I took off and made it with 5 minutes to spare. I found quite a few other people at the summit for the sunrise (which I thought was odd at the end of Sept on a Monday morning...) Anyway, it was cold, but the view and experience were mind blowing! 

The moon was still up to the west, along with a nice view of some crazy rain storms in the distance. The top of Whitney is just rocks, seriously, rocks on top of rocks next to rocks. It's just a big pile of rocks!

As the sun rose we got to see the first light hit all the peaks and rocks around us, from our vantage point at the highest peak in the contiguous United States... pretty dang cool. 

Also, pretty dang COLD! I wanted to go straight down within 10 minutes of the sunrise! The wind picked up and my 3 layers (two running shirts and a down jacket) were suddenly not enough to keep me comfy. 

Quintessential summit shot. There is a lot of snot on my jacket sleeve at this point!
The hike down seemed to take WAY longer than the hike up. For starters it was dark on the way up, so it kinda just went by in a blur. Also we stopped a bunch on the way down to take pictures, pee, eat... where as on the way up we only stopped once. Luckily for us, it was ridiculously pretty on the way down, so at least there was stuff to look at and freak out about. 
View through a 'window' between some huge rocky peaks. Lone Pine is WAY DOWN THERE!!!
Studette hiking partner in crime, Amanda Siegel. 
This part felt like living in a post card! How lucky to have hiked Whitney when the leaves were turning yellow! 
The trail looked like an ad for getting outside and hiking!
This was my favorite bridge, I looked forward to crossing it the WHOLE way down!
I had been mildly disappointed at the top about how good I felt, despite the extreme elevation and running, so I also ran the first few miles of the descent. Sadly I have no sense of logic and kinda forgot that the top is only halfway. Maybe 4 miles from the bottom I started to feel the hike, mostly in the soreness in my left hip and ankles. I started to come unglued at the end because it was taking FOREVER to get to the car. The 93 switchbacks, which had gone by so fast on the way up, took SO long to descend, and I didn't remember most of the trail from earlier in the day. All I could think about was a Coke and eating 15 Buffalo (maybe as burgers, maybe whole, all I know is that biking snacks weren't cutting it anymore!) Then with about 2 miles to go I lost it, and just started running again because I could not stand being on my feet anymore, and running seemed to be the quickest way to get off the trail. I just let gravity pull me down the hill, and eventually I saw the store at the trail head, and almost cried with joy/relief. 

Our stats for the day included: 9 hours and 26 minutes moving time, 8,479 ft elevation gain, and 22.37 miles covered. I consumed 2 fig bars, 2 packs of Skratch Labs chews, 1 Justin's peanut butter packet, and 1 sample pack of Jelly Bellys, and 2 L of water. We got lucky that there was no weather or snow at the top for this time of year, and discovered that if you want to hike Whitney in the non-peak season you can get a free permit by showing up at the visitors center the day before (if we had gotten them online in advance they would have been something like $32 each). Weirdest part of the hike was carrying my poo bag for 2/3 of the day... lets just say it was very well contained, but knowing it was in my pack was a pretty strange experience. We spotted 1 marmot, and a few chipmunks and birds but there isn't much wildlife going on at 14k. 
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So now I'm supposed to take some time to rest or something... but I'm already hungry for another epic hike. Maybe Baldy, Gregornio and San Jacinto in one day. Until then, there will be some yard work, substitute orientation, housework... you know, the stuff I've been neglecting all summer :)

Anyone want to make bad decisions and plan a ridiculous hike with me???

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Food Snacks in Brazil

Life, in my opinion, is just a series of activities you do to fill the time between when it's "appropriate" to eat. One of the most exciting parts of the IronBiker trip to Brazil for me was the opportunity to experience a new food culture (I don't get out much), and I wasn't disappointed!
Here is a breakdown of a few of the most memorable meals I ate in Brazil.
Spencer at the buffet, all kept warm with a wood burning fire!
Right off the plane, on the road to Mariana, we stopped at a super cute restaurant with a pay by weight buffet style set up. I soon learned that this is how most food is served in Brazil, which is a tad dangerous for a girl who doesn't understand portions :) You just pile the food on your plate, weigh it and pay by the kilo. Meals like this usually cost me around 18 - 20 Reals which is like $5 US. At the first place we ate I had an amazing egg, sausage, black bean and couscous type dish, some rice and chicken. I was a little scared to eat raw veggies because of the possibility of getting sick from the water, but this turned out to not be an issue where we ate and stayed through the trip (By the end I was drinking tap water daily). 

The first night I raced short track, which was over so late that by the time we made it to dinner all that was left was pasta and some fried things we called meat pillows all week. Fried corn around meat is pretty common, and I really really liked it! I admit to eating more fried food than I should have while in Brazil, but my rational was that I wanted the full experience... :)

I failed to get any pictures of breakfast in Mariana, but it was a continental style buffet at the hotel, and it was incredible! Highlights included an avocado drink that tasted amazing and which all the locals said was really good for you, tons of pastry and bread options and lots of super tasty fresh fruit.

After the crazy long stage on Saturday I gorged myself on Acai (also really common here and super good/fresh), and then hit the buffet and stuffed myself silly with okra, chicken, chorizo, kale, and another grain based salad with unknown contents.

And again Sunday we had more amazing buffet food (we ate at the same restaurant most of the time we were in Mariana). I think on Sunday I had blood sausage, beets, more chorizo, and more fried meat pillows.

The hot food portion of the buffet in our favorite restaurant in Mariana.
We ate dinner Sunday night at a fish place off the hwy, and were forced to order from a man who spoke no English (our group of 3 spoke no Portuguese). It was a bit comical, but Tilapia is the same in both languages, and arroz y ensalada is easy enough to figure out!

The breakfasts in Belo Horizonte, where we stayed Monday through Wednesday, were incredible and delivered to our rooms each morning. They always included coffee, milk, juice, jello, pastries, fruit, and a meat/cheese plate. The pastry basket had these soft little rolls baked with cheese inside, those were so so good. I pretty much lived for this breakfast, especially the assorted baked goods and the ability to eat it in bed while reading my book. It was heavenly :)

One of the nights we were in BH (apparently that's what the locals call it) we ate at an incredible shish-kabob place which basically only served meat and cheese and garlic bread. It was amazing, cheesy meat on a stick, chicken hearts on a stick, straight up cheese on a stick! So unhealthy, but again, trying to experience the food culture here!! I also met the cutest stray dog IN the restaurant. There are strays all over Brazil, but they are super well behaved, much more so than my spoiled dog at home! I named the stray puppy Scout, and basically fell in love/may have tried to take her home with me. 

Another meal that stands out was the sushi we had for lunch one day. It was pay by weight, and the sushi was all much smaller than US rolls, but it was out of control tasty, and there were so many options! Obviously by this point in the trip I wasn't worried about getting sick from the food.
This is only HALF the buffet sushi roll options!
And my plate was less than 20 Reals! All the Sushi for about $5!!
And the last meal we ate, at the airport, was also so so good. This one was a real buffet, no weighing this time. I had the most amazing thick and crunchy bacon, pork ribs, veggies and fruits. And then dessert... amazing chocolate cake, some other cake, yogurt and these caramel/nutella filled truffle like things. So good I'm getting hungry for it all over again! I had three truffles, because it was the last meal in Brazil, and why the heck not!
Other random things that stuck out to me: The utensils often come packaged in plastic, although I'm not sure why. If you order water it will always come in a bottle and they will ALWAYS ask 'con or sin gas?' (bubly water or plain water). There were never English translations of the food labels, so I basically just tried a lot of new stuff because I had no idea what the heck I was about to eat!  No one drinks iced coffee in Brazil!!! The horror, I know! I had to explain a few times that I wanted ice in milk with espresso poured into it, and the waiters were always so weirded out by my desire to drink cold coffee.

In summary, every meal was incredible, and I didn't get sick once while in Brazil! Now I have to be a good kid and try to swing back in the direction of healthy eating :) But eating so many pastries and so much fried food was fun while it lasted!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Iron Biker Day 3: Put a Fork in Me

I woke up Sunday morning super tired. The wasp stings itched all night and were swollen and tight in the morning. This is what my face looked like...
There were also stings on my left arm, both butt cheeks, my right hamstring and my chest. 
After an awesome breakfast we headed back to the start line for the third time, too tired to be nervous (did I mention I've never done a race longer than 50 miles before and Sat was 65?!).
The beginning of the last stage was pretty similar to Saturday, we climbed a gigantic hill en mass with all 1,500 participants. I managed to stay in the same group as Angelita until near the end of the first long fire road descent, when I was completely spun out and got gapped off the pack. Then the crazy hike a bikes stated! We had to hike up the super narrow crevasse and dudes were piling in over top of me and pushing me further and further back! At that point I had lost contact with Angelita (again the lead lady) so I decided to ride a little smarter because I was already feeling cracked. 
There were a bunch more river crossings, and we passed through some more rad rural towns where the kids rode their old beat up bikes along side us cheering. 
About 38k into the 58k race I started to fall apart again, and shifted entiry into survival mode. Then with 15k to go there was a stupid steep climb that never seemed to end! I pretty much lost it here and started bellyaching out loud. Few Brazilians in the race spoke English, but it was kinda cool because we all knew what the others were thinking, resulting in a lot of laughs from my compatriots. One dude even told me I needed to train harder! 
Anyway, somewhere in the last 20k two chicks passed me, I tried to stay with them, but it was hopeless. The race passed through a haunted church (I'm pretty sure there was spooky music but maybe that's a figment of my imagination) and then up another crazy steep rocky climb. At the top of this climb I straight up took a beer from a spectator, in an effort to educate them about beer feeds. He wasn't offering the beer, but he laughed that I drank it as I raced. 
The last 10k seemed to go on FOREVER, and when I finally saw the finish I thought I might cry. 
The finish line was a few k outside of town, and one of my favorite parts of the weekend was rolling back to the square with everyone who finished around me, giving high fives and talking about the race (even though we mostly didn't understand each other).
After the finish a very kind older Brazilian man told me (translated by the awesome Fred) that God told him if I come back I will win next year because I brought joy to the race. Maybe the nicest thing anyone has ever told me (aside from Brendan saying I was worth more than his Zipp carbon wheels in college).
Then I proceeded to eat my weight in Acai, which is SUPER good here!
The after party wa a pretty incredible, complete with free beer, live music from an awesome band, and lots more high 5s, which Brazilians take down low followed by a fist bump. 
And to wrap it all up, another spectacular podium ceremony (did I mention I finished 3rd overall?) with MORE confetti, a champagne shower thanks to Angelita who is not only stupid fast but an excellent champagne sprayer.
The other awesome women on the podium!
Elite men and women on the podium together. And I even won an award for being the athlete who faces the most hardship/obstacles and still persevered to  finish the race! It's a beautiful Geodesic rock, and maybe the most meaningful thing I've ever won!
Oh yeah, along with a bunch of BraIlian money!!! 
I feel like this is the longest race recap ever and I haven't scratched the surface of how much I loved this race, how agonizing it was, and what a great experience I had racing in a foreign country. There may be more IronBiker Brazil posts in the future, but for now it's time to clean bikes, and do a little more exploring before heading back to the States on Wednesday. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Iron Biker Brazil Days 1 and 2

In the last two days I've had the true South American race experience, complete with a night time short track with confetti, strobe lights and crazy excited crowds, and a 100k death march through the jungle punctuated by ridiculous steep climbs, about 25 water crossings (many of which were waist deep) and an epic wasp attack. Oh yeah, and on top of all the I've been racing a borrowed bike because mine had a little trouble making it to Brazil. 

Day 1: Short Track
This was more like a fat tire crit through the cobble stone streets of Mariana at night. I had a great start, and led the race from the beginning, until a Brazilian and Angelita flew past me on the super steep climb. After that I patiently sat in 3rd for a while, which worked out as the Brazilian girl faded. The announcer kept calling me the Americana, and the streets were packed with stoked, cheering fans. I finished 2nd and got to stand on the most enthusiastic podium complete with confetti and LOTS of photos!

Day 2: 102 k Cross Country Epic
A bunch more fanfare at the start and we were off! I may have attacked the first climb a little hard, but then decided to sit on Angelita's wheel to pace myself (this chick always wins this race). She rode away on a very rocky steep climb (I was having trouble with both the position on the bike and the fact that the fork was very very stiff) but I caught back up on the descent. This pattern continued until about halfway through the race when I got attacked by a swarm of super pissed off wasps. The bites were agonizing and I was forced into the river for relief. I wasn't able to get the jerks out of my helmet, so I continued figuring what's a little more pain on top of the race induced pain. Then I missed my feed because I was too preoccupied with wasps in my hair, and everything kinda went downhill from there (not literally... If only). I suffered two flats, had to learn the Portuguese word for pump to borrow one, twice. Started cramping, and basically just fell apart. My body ached, especially my arms, because of the lack of bike fit and lack of suspension, and I shifted to a mindset of survival. Post all the stopping the Brazilian national champion passed me and as a result I finished 3rd, and basically wanting to die. 
Along the way we saw incredible views of the rainforest, passed through super rural towns where the children lined the streets STOKED about racers coming through their village, had to jump off our bikes to wade through countless rivers, and saw the BraIlian equivalent to wild animals, cows and horses and stay dogs for days. There were a couple moments during the race where, despite my agony, I wanted to pinch myself because I was racing bikes in Brazil!!! 

Day 3: 58k cross country race (tomorrow)
Who knows what will happen!!! Hopefully it's less painful than yesterday!! 

Sorry for the lack of pictures, maybe if a few surface I will throw them in!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My First Interbike!

Immediately after the Annadel XC hoopla died down Brendo and I went straight into Interbike mode, well, almost. We decided it was a brilliant idea to hit some old time favorite and some new interesting trails in the Tahoe area "on the way" to interbike, and to make the drive extra long (but scenic!). 
First we hit Hole In The Ground, one of my absolute favorites, for some rowdy, rocky good times. There was a lot of Scalpel loving on this ride, because no matter how long I ride that thing I still feel overwhelmed with joy screaming down a rocky trail on it. Also Brendan bonked... He didn't smile at all till he saw the car which contained our lunch sandos that we failed to eat till 5pm.
On Monday morning we wanted to sneak in this ride people keep telling me about, from the top(ish) of Mount Rose to Lake Tahoe. Brendan dropped me off at the top of the Tahoe Rim Trail and I jot the first 9 miles solo, with the plan of meeting up partway through the ride. 
Well the elevation profile I saw for the portion Brendan was going to do with me kinda lied a lot, and a bizarre amount of climbing and a wrong turn later, and we accidentally found ourselves on the Flume Trail, not the rowdy fun trail I was planning to finish on. There may have been some bad moods and not loving behavior from yours truely because Brendan made me descend a FIRE ROAD, but there was also a serious moment of self reflection and a 180 degree attitude adjustment when I realized that any day my tires are on dirt is a good day! Also, Flume Trail views, enough said!
So then we took the long scenic route down 395 to Vegas, ooohed and ahhed over the pretty scenery, and found the best rest stop that looked like a castle and had every candy imaginable.
Tuesday was my first day at my first OutdoorDemo at my first Interbike, so you know it was a great time! 
The best part was seeing so many awesome friends and getting to ride bikes with them! I was really stoked on the new Cannondale Habit, and NOT really stoked on the fat bike tandem Brendan and I took for a spin. 

Then it rained, then I met Yuri Hauswald when I was 2 beers deep... It may have gone down hill from there :) needless to say we left for the hotel exhausted, had to pack my bike, got locked out of our hotel room when EVERYTHING was out of the Prius in the parking lot... It was a long night. BUT...
Then the good times kept rolling on Weds with the first day of the show, where I met a million people, saw a thousand amazing bikes and components, and drank 3 shots of espresso!

Of course we went to Cross Vegas for a hot minute before Brendan dropped me at the airport for my red-eye to Miami.
I would like to talk about the highlights of the show, the things that stick out to me as super rad and/or new, but it'll have to wait because my flight to Brazil is boarding and I'm already off to the next adventure! This weekend I'll be competing in my first ever stage race (starting the day I land), wish me luck!! 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Annadel XC FTW

Yesterday I competed in a race in my hometown, on trails that are very special to me because I grew up riding them. The race is a fundraiser to keep Annadel State park open to the public, and it's put on by my favorite race promoter, Bike Monkey

Flying down Ridge Trail near the end of the race.
The actual race wasn't much of a race for me because none of the other women registered in the 'pro' category showed up, so I was essentially racing myself. This isn't new to me though, so I pushed myself by chasing down the expert and singlespeed men all day. It was fun to catch a bunch of friends and cheer them on, as well as heckling/chatting up random dudes. The best part of the race was the reaction some of the men had when I passed them, I got a lot of exclamations of 'oh shit' from dudes who didn't expect to be passed by a girl, which of course stroked my probably already too big ego. I was also called an 'angel of stoke' by a guy who I descended Lawndale trail with because he said he hadn't been sure I was real (I was cheering him on, hooting and hollering, and complimenting his tail whips from behind the whole way down Lawndale trail). 
Sharing the podium with the expert women. 
It is always fun to race with and in front of the hometown crowd, and it being the end of the season, a year when I learned how to ride fast down hills, made this race a really special experience. 

After the race I had a blast talking to all the cool people who raced, hearing their war stories of crashes, cramps, and bobbles, as well as their victory stories of accomplishing goals and surprise podium performances. We also got to snack on the most amazing post race Paella and Lagunitas beer. And to top it all off I won a rain jacket and new gloves! How did Bike Monkey know that I NEEDED BOTH THOSE THINGS!!!
Post race Paella... my favorite!
A rad jacket, wine, cute gloves... seriously the best prizes EVER!
I am so honored to represent Ridebiker everywhere I go, but rocking the custom Sugoi kit in my hometown in my favorite forest, I can't think of anything better. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stress and Stuff I Learned This Summer

I got to travel with, race with and hang with some pretty cool/inspiring people this summer. People who have been doing this whole bike racing thing a lot longer than me, and who taught me a lot while we were on the road. Of the cool kids I spent August with, I think I learned the most from team director/coach/all around rad person Adam Pulford.

Adam's legs, since I don't have any decent real pictures. 
Of all the lessons I learned from coach AP (and am still learning) about being a bike racer, I think the most important is how to deal with stress.

In the past I have let stress consume me. In college I spent quite a few nights crying myself to sleep over the stress of increasing debt, last fall I spent a lot of energy stressed about sponsorship when Marin folded the Pro XC team, and this summer I stressed about results and decisions like whether I should continue teaching.

What Adam told me time and again was that stress is wasted energy. You either can or cannot do something to change the circumstances, and you have to decide to let it go if there is nothing you can do. Although I know I haven't yet mastered the ability to manage stress perfectly, it's amazing how much I have been applying these life lessons in the past few weeks, and how much different my perspective on life is as a result.

Currently I am struggling with the stresses of understanding who I am and what I should be doing in late fall at the very tail end of the season. It's been a roller coaster ride of a year, and although I am very very happy to have the opportunity to focus entirely on racing, there is always the struggle of finding the sponsorship money to pay for the next season of racing, the little nagging feeling that I should be teaching as everyone else posts their first day of school sentiments on social media, and the three races coming up which involve quite a bit of travel. I'm also learning a lot about how to market myself, leading rides and how to be involved in the cycling community outside racing, which means a lot of stress regarding doing things I've never done before. It's easy for me to get overwhelmed by the possibility of things not working out. I get caught up thinking about how hard it will be, or how I may not be able to afford to make this dream work. What's different now is that I've been doing a better job at letting the negative stress wash over the edge of the thoughts waterfall, and replacing them with the idea that things will work out how they are going to work out. Somehow just reminding myself of that helps me overcome the paralyzing doubt, and I am better able to chip away at looking for sponsorship, signing up to be a substitute teacher, and start positively planning out the off season. It also helps to replace the stress and doubt with the knowledge that I am surrounded by amazing friends, family and existing sponsors who want to see me succeed. What's the point in pursuing my dreams if I don't embrace every aspect of it, from finding support of awesome people and companies to crossing the finish line in first and all the nitty gritty details in between?

And a few pictures from this past week...
More road rides on new Oak Tree lined streets, yes please! Today's ride was cool and scenic, with a hint of fall in the leaves. 
And yesterday's failed mountain bike intervals included some of my favorite views of dense evergreens and golden hills. Can you see the ocean out there? Yep, this place is perfection. 
Turned sister's kitchen upside down and heated the house to about 100 degrees this week processing all her tomatoes and jalapenos. Canning is a full time job I tell you!
The fruits of my labor so far (embarrassingly small haul considering how much time I spent canning, but hey, I'm a beginner!). Tomato sauce, the best salsa ever, and blackberry jam. 

This week is speeding by, time to rest up for my favorite race of the year in my favorite park put on by my favorite people, ANNADEL!!! If you are in NorCal this is a race you shouldn't miss!