Monday, February 29, 2016

Chico Stage Race: Stage 3 and 4 Recap

Yesterday was the third and final day of the 2016 Chico Stage Race, a double day with both a TT and criterium. With two stages we had an earlier start than normal, and I don't know about everyone else, but I had that dull headache from having already raced two days in a row. The girls on the team are masters of hydration, and I'm learning from them, so there was a lot of water drinking to get rid of the headache. Can you tell we LOVE our Mobots?!

I haven't raced a TT since the UC Davis days, back when Brendan was trying to woo me with home made time trial bikes :) and it's still kinda surreal to hop on a Felt TT bike because HE WORKS THERE NOW!!! Although Brendan doesn't engineer TT bikes... it's still blowing my mind how all these cool things have come together (thanks Nicola!!!!!!)

Anyway, coach gave me a serious warm up (I mean, it prob wasn't THAT hard, but it felt hard after Friday and Saturday's efforts), and I cracked down and got it done, mostly. Racing bikes is pretty much the best, but even better is being supported by such an incredible group of people from our team managment to the incredible mechanics who helped facilitate warming up on my road bike/swapping over to the TT bike... all I had to do was be dressed, fed, hydrated and execute the warm up. It's amazing how much easier it is to focus/suffer with such a great team of people around you.
So the TT was a 10 mile, mostly flat course, with 2 right hand turns. For the first 3 miles I had a really hard time getting comfortable on the bike because I'm SO not used to the TT bike thing, but when Allison Tetrick passed me and gave me a carrot to chase I was able to distract myself from the pain and focus on not letting her ride away from me. Six miles in Allie Dragoo (my amazing team mate) passed me and then it was just a blur of snot, sweat and burning quads to the finish. To be clear, two of the fastest women on TT bikes in the US started 30 second and 60 seconds after me... so getting passed sucked, but at least I knew those two were absolute cannons. I didn't really have ANY idea how I did, but I'm pretty sure I left it all out there on the road. I was in the aero bars for 90% of the race, but HAD to come up for air a few times because the position is so different and I was really struggling to breath. Anyway, I ended up placing 9th, so that isn't too sucky in a field of 50! More importantly though, Allie won and Leah placed 2nd. The girls on this team blow my mind with their strength!
The above picture is what TT position looks like (although in my mind when I was racing I thought I was WAY more hunched down, haha) and why it was so painful :) Being aero man, it hurts!

Allie in yellow :)
Lastly we had an L shaped crit in downtown Chico, announced by my all time favorite announcer Dave Towle (the fact that he was there made my day). I also haven't raced a crit since college, and was CRAZY anxious about it, but I followed my team mates lead in being calm and collected going into it. It also helped that I was CRAZY tired from all the racing, too tired to be wound up. The 55 minute drag race started fast, continued to be fast and ended fast in a blur of PEDAL REALLY HARD, CORNER REALLY HARD, PEDAL REALLY HARD on repeat about 400 times. I have absolutely no idea how many laps we did because I was concentrating SOOOOOO hard on following wheels through the 12 thousand corners, and also trying so so hard to move up (but not succeeding most the time). By the end of the race I was crazy more comfortable riding in such a tight group, going so fast and cornering a bunch, so even though I didn't really contribute much to the team's efforts, I got a lot out of the experience, and I didn't get dropped or crash! My team killed it, especially Holly who somehow had the legs to slay and Allie who was off the front... watching them work was such a cool experience!

In the end our team finished with 1st and 2nd in the GC (general classification, which is like overall score) and the team win. I placed 10th in the GC, which doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but is a little cool.

Whew, this is a long recap. I still have A TON more thoughts on the weekend, but have to get some work done, so this wont be the last time you hear about Chico Stage Race :) haha, unless you're sick of it and never read my blog again! It was just such an eventful, amazing experience, filled with a few pretty low points and some cool highs, surrounded by absolutely incredible people... I don't feel like my words have done it justice :)
Leah, one of our time trialing super stars :) AND overall amazing human being!
Our team on the podium. These ladies, so so fast/professional/kind and smart! OH AND BEAUTIFUL!
The first page of individual results. Not that important, but in case you were curious!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chico Stage Race: Stage 1 Recap

Today marked my return to road racing in a fun, fast, exciting way: stage 1 of the Chico Stage Race! We raced for about 75 minutes on the Thunderbird raceway race track (for cars) this afternoon and although I was pretty nervous before the start, I had a blast! 
The day started off will espresso, lots of espresso since the house we are staying in has an espresso machine! Then a team meeting where I learned a bunch about tactics from the incredibly decorated and crazy smart Mari Holden (It's cool in itself that I am on a team directed by her!). My job was to not get dropped, communicate with my team mates, cover stuff (that means don't let any other teams get their riders up the road away from the main group) if my team mates tell me to and generally just learn a bunch. 
Mari telling us what our goals were in the stage. 
We had fun in the team van en-route to the race. These teammates make it super easy to stay calm and collected pre-race! I was pretty nervous, but they are so positive and encouraging and seasoned that by the time we got there my crazy head was pretty calm and it was just down to business. 
I got in a decent warm up, and lined up with the team, stoked and still a little anxious about how the race would go down. Once we started though, it was like riding a bike, the racing thing, it kinda came back to me. 
The course was 8 laps of a 3 mile loop with a bunch of smooth turns and 2 small hills, one of which had a pinch point in it. The first lap was fast, but not too fast. I got shuffled to the back pretty quickly, but remembered what Phil Mooney told me, and worked my tail off to move up and be near my team mates. There was a crash at the top of the first little hill on the second lap, and I managed to be right behind it, but was able to move around it. The thing that surprised me the most was how much everyone moved in on the corners, like start wide, crowd the inside and then go wide again. I was a little freaked out by it for the first three laps, but settled into the mindset that everything from my ears back didn't matter, so if I just kept moving forward it would all be good. Every even numbered lap was a sprint points lap, so the first three to cross the line on laps 2, 4, 6, and 8 got points towards the sprinters jersey. On lap 6 I accidently got off the front because I may have attacked the hill a little too hard and the group didn't really chase me down (the other teams prob thought I couldn't manage to stay away in the wind all the way to the finish). I kept looking back to see where the group was and it became apparent at some point that I could stay away through the line. I wasn't really sure if I should be going for the points because we had already decided pre-race which team mate would go for the sprinters jersey and it wasn't me, thus I would essentially be taking points away from that team mate. Anyway, I got the three points, and it turned out ok because the girl we set up to win the sprinters jersey had the points to win it. I was pretty gassed after the attack/solo effort, so I sat in and recovered a bit, then did some stupid moves thinking I was helping when I really was not. In the end my team mate AJ won the final sprint, and Sofia placed second and got the sprinters jersey. 

Finish shot of AJ celebrating. 
I already learned a ton just from this 75 minute race. I learned that I need to communicate a TON more with my team mates during the race, specifically letting them know when I am near them. I need to work on not being stressed about missing a move and actually draft off people, not sit to the side of them in the wind. I learned that there is useful sitting on the front, and wasteful sitting on the front of the race, but I'm still not sure which is which and how to tell the difference. I was reminded that position is everything in the end of the a race, and that I need to keep my cadence high in general, so those are all the things I will be working on this year.

Overall I had a blast racing road bikes. The Felt F1 (my race bike which I rode for the first time today) was CRAZY fast, and the thrill/terrifying feeling of flying around that track with 57 stupid strong women is pretty special. And the best part is I get to do it again with this awesome team tomorrow, and again the next day! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sponsor highlight: Mobot Foam Roller Water Bottle

Ok, so I've been getting a lot of weird looks and also surprised reactions to this one over the past three weeks, so I figured it would be a good idea to just tell everyone that my water bottle is so big because it's a foam roller, and my foam roller has a weird growth because it's a water bottle!!! It's pretty much the coolest two fer one out there, a rad stainless steel 40 oz water bottle that is ALSO a foam roller. SO when I travel I am constantly sipping water (way more than I used to) and I am always being reminded to foam roll! It's called a Mobot, and they are fortunately one of our Twenty16 sponsors this year! I'm being completely honest when I say I foam rolled 3 times in the past 8 years, but 3 times a week since I got the bottle three weeks ago... it's never too late to start developing new habits, right?! Check 'em out over at they have three sizes, and all different colors, and the lady behind the genius idea is hilarious.

If you don't foam roll, like me before this water bottle, it basically gives you the same benefits as a sports massage, but you can do it at home, for free, no appt, as many times a day as you want! How's that for a good deal? When I started rolling it hurt, a lot, but the more I roll, the better my muscles feel doing it. I've been pretty vocal on social media about all the rolling, so I'll keep the world updated on the difference it makes in my season, but it's already a huge part of my self care routine that makes me feel good after long or hard rides, and when I'm feeling sore.
Getting the IT bands, this one still hurts quite a bit!
It goes everywhere with me, which means I'm drinking water even when I'm drinking coffee!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Here We Go!

Yesterday I drove up to Marin from Silverado, after doing my workout of course, on the first leg of the first bike racing trip of the year! It's exciting, but also nerve wracking for me because this will be my first stage race with team Twenty16, and I want to prove myself worthy of this badass group of roadie women! Tonight we have a meet and greet in Marin where you can come meet my whole team (!), so I got to stay with the Mooney's at their cutest house ever house. I have quite a few pre-first ever stage race thoughts, but not much time to blog at the moment. So first a few photos from my ride this morning, in which I couldn't contain myself because it was so pretty, got turned around because a road was closed, and surprisingly didn't get lost despite being so distracted by crazy pretty trees, oceans, hills, and bay area views.
The trail head had a crazy adorable rock/wood structure. I loved the moss/ferns growing from the roof!
I pretty much took 500 pictures like this because TREES and WATERFALLS and CREEKS and a LAKE!!!! SO PRETTY!!!! Everything is super lush and cool and wet right now because they've been getting a lot of rain up here. It was nice breathing in the smell of damp soil and redwood trees, I think that's my favorite perfume.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS VIEW!?!?!?! I could have stayed there ALL day. (Top of Mt Tam)
More Mt Tam summit photos. 
From the fire road I ended up on as a result of my original ride plan falling through (because of that closed road). Hard to be bummed about your ride getting screwed up when you still get to look at this on the second choice route!

So basically coach said ride 2 hours, and I was gifted with 2 hours of stunning beauty. 
Dear Marin County, 
Thank you for making me squeal with delight at your sweeping bay area vistas, for your thousands of redwood trees packed into every hill side, and your ferny creeks flowing with runoff from sparkling reservoirs. I very much appreciated every second of your beauty today, you're killing it, keep up the good work! 
Larissa (aka Larry, Larzy and Lars)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A GREEN EGG!!! Life Lately

Brendan is taking a 20 min nap... pre-Home Depot run, so you know it's A) the weekend, and B) oh wait... I don't have a B. Anyway, the exciting times continue over here with the first green egg in about a year (GOOOO Shenainai!), chocolate chip pancakes/riding with the Laguna Canyon Riders, a pirate party and a fence remodel project (in no particular order). Just trying to really enjoy every second of the February sun, training like a banshee, and chilling out as much as possible before the whirlwind of racing starts!
A photo essay of life lately:
Yep, a green egg :)
We have been eating chard, kale, lettuce and snap peas from the garden every chance we can get because it's a race against the clock now as longer/warmer days mean leafy greens will stop tasting good soon. The lettuce and cauliflower all bolted when I was away at training camp, so now they are past the point of consumption, and this year the beets epically failed, but I'm happy with the number of salads our yard has provided us!
Contrast :)
It looks like spring everywhere you look in Silverado. I know it's still only Feb... but I kinda love it!

This cute boy was a pain in the butt last week, BUT he is super cute every time I hit the yoga mat to stretch/roll/yoga. 

Rode with the coolest kids ever on Saturday morning. These guys taught me a lot, had a blast and covered 15 miles of trails in Laguna. I was blown away by their skills both climbing the crazy steep fire roads, and descending rocky, fun singletrack!

And this is the new love of my life. She's light, flows like a dream, has the sexiest Crank Brothers cockpit ever, and I'm SO excited to race her next month! Plus this tree... Carl always takes pictures with this tree and I never knew where it was until yesterday! It's pretty cool, and the ocean is in the background on the right, so there's that :)

Kinda a bunch of random stuff, but that's our life right now. Too much to do, and not enough time, like always, but that's how I like it :) Now it's time to hit Home Depot!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sponsor Highlight: A Quick Shout out to Giro!

There are so many incredible people invested in our Ridebiker team, and I am dying to talk about all of them THIS instant, BUT one at a time... and they will last for a good number of Thursdays, right?! I fell off the wagon on this sponsor highlight thing last week because I couldn't manage blogging and team camp at the same time... I'm so much less productive now that I don't teach! But back at it this week.

I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. Giro has stepped in to supply our whole fun, fast, crazy team with head protection in the form of their SYNTHE MIPS helmets. I've been rocking mine since I got it at camp, and it's pretty dang sweet. Light, allows lots of cooling airflow (got to test this out big time as it was crazy hot at team camp) and has this brilliant netting close to the outside so bees can't get in every vent! AND our whole team looks so cool wearing them!
I personally love their women's gloves as well (I won some at the Annadel XC last year, how lucky is that?!), and the fact that Giro has a huge line of women's specific helmets. AND I'm not gonna lie, if I quit my XC racing ambitions and become a hipster I'm pretty much going to deck myself out in all Giro gear because it is ALL SO CUTE!
So a HUGE thanks to Giro for keeping our brains safe and helping us look rad at the same time!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pump Track- Why Didn't I Do This Sooner?!

Living in SoCal freakin' rocks. Seriously. It rocks. I think by far the greatest benefit of living here is the rad cycling community which ranges from super cool old dudes who ride up and down HWY 1 every Saturday (You know I'm talking about you Lightening Velo!) to the Laguna Riders mountain bike team of middle school shredders. Plus you have too many women's mtb rides every weekend to do them all, fun/fast road group rides, shuttlers hitting San Juan trail and Laguna... we have everything. 

Somehow I am fortunate enough to have been introduced to an especially rad group of dudes who slay mountain bike trails, and who have both introduced me to some of my heros in the sport, as well as supported my ambitions to race in the Euro World Cups this year to chase Olympic qualification. 

In this group there are a few dudes who have been incredible mentors to me in my progression from a squaky shit show on a bike, to a reasonably fast mountain bike racer, and right now I'm especially grateful for Mike Lee. This guy is rad. He rides with the middle school kids every Saturday, he is always excited and encouraging, and last week he spent a ton of time working with me at the local pump track to start honing some skills to help me shred. 
Mike Lee has been telling me for a while that I need to get serious about hitting the pump track. So I mess around on the track in our neighborhood, it's fun, I wear myself out, go home. But Mike means really work on it, like learn how to get really fast. We hit the track behind Oakley (after signing waivers of course), and he gives me all these things to focus on, one at a time. The first 15 minutes I can ride the track without pedaling, but the more I concentrate on pumping the back side of the bumps, and lifting my front wheel over each one, the more I push into the turns and drive with my feet the faster and faster I get. I also got SO SO sweaty, and my arms and quads hurt A LOT after an hour of riding, but there was a gigantic noticeable difference by the time we left. 
In the beginning of the day, still a little cautious of picking up too much speed.
Great practice for keeping my body low and elbows out.
And then, the best part of this experience for me, on Friday when we did our little team camp shred sesh in Santiago Oaks, I was naturally doing those same things we worked on at the pump track, and I felt SO much faster descending. Like HUGE noticeable difference faster!

So now I'm hooked on skills building through the pump track, and I CANNOT WAIT to go again. And that's my story about the SoCal cycling community, and having rad friends who want to see you succeed, and care enough to spend a 90 degree day helping you improve your skills. I'm so grateful to live here, to be part of this community and to know Mike Lee :)
Thanks Mike also for getting some rad pictures on the day!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ridebiker Camp

The stoke for this upcoming mtb race season could not be higher right now! Team camp just wrapped up for team Ridebiker here in Orange County and the anticipation of a great season racing with awesome team mates, supported by incredible sponsors is buzzing around us like electricity. 
A quick recap of team camp MTB style!
Day 1 started on Thursday for me, leading a little team ride with the Ridebikers who arrived early. We hit Whiting Ranch and the Luge, and then pedaled through the canyons back to their hotel in Orange for some extra credit asphalt time. It was pretty toasty out, but the feeling of dirt under knobby rubber after a week on the road was pretty special. I think the team liked the Luge, and it was funny to hear how many of them didn't realize we had real climbing here in SoCal! Post ride I had to book it to Felt to finish building my 2016 race machine, then to yoga to get some core work in, and finally to dinner with the team and the man with the plan Scott Tedro. In the mix I got to experience SoCal traffic during rush hour for the first time (never needed to get somewhere by a certain time and been screwed by traffic so bad before) so it was a bit stressful, BUT dinner was pretty special. It kinda hit me again how lucky I am to be surrounded by such incredible people who have accomplished some pretty amazing things. I have an inspiring group of mentors/advocates/management and team mates.

Day 2 started with a ripping shred every trail in Santiago Oaks ride. I had so much fun following some crazy fast dudes around, slaying each downhill and showing off the goods in the Oaks. The ride was followed by some foam rolling/stretching (I'm trying to be a good kid!) and a marathon classroom session of Ridebiker education. Colt, Adam and Rory did a great job explaining to us all the nuts and bolts of the team, the season, and the responsibilities that come with being on the team, which left me a bit overwhelmed (I know it's mostly long term stuff, but I could use a lot of improvement in the 'giving back to sponsors' area, I always feel like I'm not doing enough), but also left us feeling inspired and excited! After that I was lame and went home while everyone else headed to downtown Disney. A bunch of the kids on the team are in their 20's... so I'm using the excuse that us older folks need more downtime/rest :)

Day 3 was photo day ALL day. We started bright and early with headshots at the hotel, and then moved the crew to the Oaks for riding shots. It was a lot of work, and tons of time in the sun riding back and forth, BUT great team bonding time as well. I got to do some serious wheelie practice with Ellen, had a blast goofing off with all the girls on the team, and snuck in 15 minutes of actually riding my bike. Photos didn't wrap up until about 4pm, and then we had a calm little team dinner/campfire with the world's best s'mores. 
We got to hang with magician photographer Brian, who takes so so backgrounds and makes AMAZING things happen!
The largest pro womens mountain bike team in the US. Pretty stoked to be part of this group of shreddetts. 
And day 4 we hit all my favorites in Laguna for a solid 3.5 hour play day. I was a bit stressed about the amount of fire road we ended up riding, but it was still an awesome ride that concluded with heart shaped pizza, and amazing cookies thanks to Debbie.

 I was a boob all weekend and took very few pictures (my dang phone has SO little memory and I am struggling with the process of getting pictures off my phone onto my comp), which I kinda really regret. The grass was fluffy green, the sun low and bright, and the team kits with all their individual colors and sponsors looked so cool winding up the climbs or down the twisty descents we hit. Anyway, it was a great weekend that completely flew by and now it's a race against the clock to get ready for the start of the season. Although the kit is ready, one bike is built and the races are choosen, there is still A LOT to do! But first, some recovery from a packed weekend of work!

AP wrapping up camp with a little bike love/washing :) This guy makes good things happen. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Team Twenty16 Road Media Camp is a Wrap!

So the past 5 days have been a crazy tornado of learning, laughing, learning, photoshoots, and eating. I know I already posted briefly on road camp, but I wanted to put together a complete overview of the week, of who we saw, what we learned, and kinda just what happens at a road bike team media camp. Tomorrow MTB team camp starts, so jotting down some notes on the past week seems pretty valuable :)

Friday we spoke at a middle school in El Centro, CA and then went for a little spin. Education is a huge focus of team Twenty16 (one reason this team is such a great fit for me) so spending time motivating kids, and showing them what it means to achieve their dreams is super important.
I think the kids inspired me as much as we did them!
Saturday we went on a really fast group ride out of Encinitas with about 100 men, which was crazy fun, taught me a lot, and was a great little workout on a busy day of meetings. Post ride we ate the most awesome turkey meatloaf, had our headshots taken (the first of many times I was told not to smile during the week...) and then had a few presentations from sponsors who were able to come out to SoCal.

Here's the sponsor lowdown from Sat:

First Steve Blick told us all about the history of Oakley, and then about the sick sunnies we are going to be racing in/wearing between races. I love Oakley as a company because they engineer sunglasses in the true sense of the word: find a problem, work like crazy to come up with a solution, tweak, refine... until they have created frames that are like armor for battle, and lenses with incredible contrast and clarity. I've had my Prizm lenses for a while now, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that the difference was night and day the first time Steve took my old sunglasses off my face and replaced them with his personal pair.
Next up we heard from JL Velo, the Orange County company who makes our kits, 100% out of recycled material by the power of the sun! How cool is that?! I learned a ton about why these kits are so rad, including the fact that they have varying lengths of jerseys AND will replace the padding in your shorts if you aren't comfy with the chamois you have.

After JL we heard briefly from K-edge about how all the pro men drop their chains like crazy and how their mechanics were the first to be all over their chain watchers. I thought that was pretty hilarious/awesome.
Then we had the funniest portion of the day from Mobot, a foam roller/water bottle in one! Isn't that a brilliant idea?!Anyway, Lani was hilarious, and obsessed with water and foam rolling and I'm 100% sold on the idea of doing a lot more of both!

Sunday we did a bunch of photo stuff on bikes, which was fun, but not really a workout, so a bit awkward. Just being on bikes was pretty fantastic though, it was 80 degrees and I don't think I'll ever get tired of hanging with this group of lady shredders. After the ride we ate more amazing food made by Jess, and had photos taken for a Confidence campaign thingy. That part was fun because Brendan came out and then proceeded to force me to fix all the crap that wasn't working perfectly on my bike... Thanks Brendan! We got a bit of time to sit on the beach after that and soak up the scenery, just Brendan and I, before an incredible dinner Jess also made with everyone and their mother involved with the team. It was pretty freaking sweet.

On Monday there was MORE pictures and filming on bikes, this time with a drone involved. It basically sounded like we were being attacked by a HUGE swarm of wasps. That was followed by a quick interview, a hilarious presentation from Dave Zabriskie about chamois butter. Needless to say there was a blowup doll involved... Then the guys from GQ-6 came to talk to us about nutrition, which was actually pretty fascinating because we ended up discussing the testing process to ensure there are no banned substances in products, and I've never even thought about that before! Like what if a facility uses their equipment on a banned substance and doesn't clean it properly before mixing up my drink mix?!?! Anyway, it was super interesting, and then we had the most amazing Italian food served by a Brazilian guy at an adorable restaurant. I got to hear some incredible stories from Mari, Ralf, and Richard (the GQ-6 dude) as well as discussing all the dates going on around us with Sara :) Richard forced us to order dessert so you know it was my favorite day of the year :) 

AND lastly, on Tuesday we got to do a bunch a skills work with Richard from Speedplay, and talked for a long time about how to execute a corner when descending. I learned a ton, and am so excited to apply what he taught us. Then a quick presentation from SRAM, a massage (OMG that was maybe the highlight of camp for me! I still feel different/better from it) and a visit to Sock Guy rounded out the week of camp. There's a lot more I want to include, but I need to get to sleep like nobody's business, so it'll have to wait/be added to this post later. MTB camp starts bright and early tomorrow!!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Roadie Camp Take 2

Back in San Diego county this weekend for more team Twenty16 camp, this time with an epic amount of sunshine! The whole team is here, the new kits and bikes are gleaming in the sun and the SRAM drivetrains are dialed for a season of ripping it up on the road. Camp has been incredibly busy so far, but the quick highlights include:

A school visit in which Kristen Armstrong basically motivated the crap out of me while addressing the middle school kids. It's funny how inspiring a few words from an Olympic gold medalist can be!

A CRAZY fast Swami's ride which sealed the deal for me, I CANNOT WAIT for the first road race of the year!

Spending time with some of my favorite industry people like SteveB and the Felties! Love that I get to hang out with these guys on a regular basis living here in SoCal. Also hearing about some sweet new to me products like Mobot water bottle foam rollers and K-edge TT Garmin mounts. We got some serious education on Saturday and there is more of that on tap for today!

Spending tons of time with an incredible group of women who absolutely shred on road bikes, eating ridiculously good food thanks to Jess Cerra, and soaking up a ton of beachside and North country riding!\\

Also, photos, lots and lots of photos.

I'll write a full recap soon, but now it's time to ride more bikes and learn all the things!!!

My team is fast and fun! I feel so lucky to have this opportunity!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sponsor Intro #3: Crank Brothers!!

SOOOO, for my third sponsor highlight I want to talk about ANOTHER RAD LOCAL BIKE COMPANY!!!! We do have a lot of those here (and can you tell I'm in a better mood by all the caps?!?), so I feel pretty lucky to live here in Orange County home to Crank Brothers!
This story goes back way to when I started mountain biking in college though. Back in the dark ages, when I only owned an aluminium road bike and was dating Brendan, he scraped together all the spare parts he had and built me up a Giant NRS. It was the CRAPPIEST bike, but I didn't know that yet, haha, I though it was RAD! That bike had a set of Crank Brothers Eggbeaters on it, because that's what Brendan used, and what he had an extra pair of. Well, fast forward about 7 years, and a crazy amount of bike riding later, and I am still 'clipped into Crank Brothers'. So yeah, basically I liked these pedals so much I stuck with them year after year, and they delivered kick butt performance for me through the most intense season of my life, last year!

Let's talk about pedals.
So the Eggbeater is my go to race pedal because it's crazy light, super easy to clip into and has never let me down. I love the amount of float my foot gets as I navigate around my bike when riding technical stuff, while still feeling securely clipped into the pedal.
BUT I'm also in love with the Candy pedals that have graced my trail bikes over the years. These guys have a platform around the clipping mechanism, so when I'm flying down Los Pinos trail all out of control like, skiing down a shoot of loose scree, I can throw a foot out, and then be back on the pedal in control without having to be all the way clipped in. Pretty rad to have the lightweight feel of a race pedal with a platform big enough for those out of control times.

And Crank Brothers makes more than just pedals! They make rad cockpit components (which Brendan is dying to put on my bikes), seatposts, dropper posts, wheels, tools, pumps and cute clothes and water bottles. There is a storefront in Laguna Beach if you're in the area and wand to check them out!

Oh and did I mention they are the BEST MUD pedals ever. I was thinking back to the first Kenda Cup race last year, Vail lake. It rained ALL DAY, no one wanted to even start the race. Well those Eggbeaters worked like magic, and I had no problems clipping in over and over while I slid around the course for an hour and a half :) Good time. I'm stoked to do it again, even if it does mean an unreasonable amount of bike cleaning afterwards!

Thanks Crank Brothers for being a great sponsor over the years, for giving me the opportunity to meet so many crazy cool athletes (I forgot to mention that like EVERY world class mountain biker rides Crank Brothers). 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Where's Your Head At

Life is interesting and crazy and weird sometimes. One minute your high as a kite, the next stuff isn't quite going your way and that soaring feeling is just plain gone. I know that's not super deep or insightful, but it's how I feel :) The low feelings will pass, I'm sure. In fact having a few bike commuters smile and wave on my ride to Brendan's work just now lifted my spirits quite a bit, so there's that. It just sucks to feel like you made a huge mistake that can't be fixed in a relatively short amount of time. For now I'm reveling in the low feelings, processing some things and trying to learn from the situation that got me here. And looking for more smiley bike commuters.
And here is a picture from a questionable ride I did yesterday that was really pretty but maybe not the best idea... 

Monday, February 1, 2016

What I Learned From Making an Edit

Larissa Connors Pro Woman MTB'er from AJC media on Vimeo.

For the past week and change my rad Canadian road teammate Alison and her husband Alex have been staying in our 'pool house' (haha, it's just our guest room really, but it sounds way fancier to call it a pool house). It's been super fun having them around, and last week Alex offered to make me my first 'sick edit'. To be honest, at first I thought it was just going to involve riding around and shooting a few clips of riding mountain bikes, you know 2-3 hours, piece of cake, throw 'em together and you have a 'sick edit'. Yeah, so I was pretty wrong about that, but all the hard work that went into this project was WAY worth it, because the finished project is SO cool. So, here's what I learned making this edit!

#1 (pretty much the HUGEST part of the shooting process) You have to go REALLY fast to make an edit look cool. And if you're going only a little fast, nope, it's going to look lame. So Alex would make me hike up the trail over and over and over again to re-ride sections of trail if I didn't ride fast enough... until I rode fast enough which leads me to the second most important thing I learned...

#2 Filming an edit is A LOT OF WORK! I hiked 2,500ft total making the 2 minute video, on a trail that has only 500 ft total elevation difference from bottom to top! Holy crap was that a LOT OF HIKE A BIKING! Also the descending was physically taxing. Because I don't go 110% on every descent ever, pushing myself so hard on each section over and over was pretty tiring.

#3 Being out of control, sliding, freefalling down a hill IS SO FUN! There was a bit of this happening (didn't make it into the edit) when we were shooting, I crashed into a bush at one point, I thought I was going to die another time... it was awesome. Ok, so I kinda already knew this one, but that same thrilling feeling you get as a kid mountain biking, I got that feeling A LOT pushing myself to go fast enough, and you know what? I think I will be a better/faster descender as a result of riding and re-riding sections of trail as fast as possible over and over again! It really gave me a lot of opportunities to try stuff, to get comfortable skidding/sliding and to work on my body English in a way I don't really do when I go on a ride and hit eah descent only once.

#4 I am so lucky to have such rad friends. Alex is so freaking talented, and the finished product is so much cooler than I imagined it would be when he brought up the idea a week ago. I can't believe in 3 days time we went from concept to finished product and it looks so polished and cool... can't get over it.

So yeah, it was a pretty fun process, we got to watch Aaron Gwin filming in the same location at the same time (we got to know who he's riding for a week before the rumors started flying :) and we will have that song stuck in our heads for a long, long time! Hope you like the video/edit as much as I do! :)