Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Moab / Fruita 2009

I'll let the pictures do the story telling. Check out the new slide show in the side bar from this year's trip.

The Death Star

Say hello to the latest addition to my fleet, Trek Madone 5.5, a.k.a. the Death Star. That's what they should have called the custom paint scheme instead of Starry Night. The black actually has tiny sparklies all over it, making it look like, as PB said, the universe. Very well said.

All painted and pedaled up, she came in at a smear 15.9-16 pounds. Hell, my co-worker's dog weighs more. But I didn't get it for just a weight issue. My Kestral was really needing a significant drive train overhaul and well, I guess it was time to stop riding a TT bike like a road bike. Six years is long enough. Plus, I wanted to make sure I was totally vested in the Trek brand to help promote it along with the Women Who Ride program.

So I'm so not a techno-nerd, but I am all about the aesthetic. This was a custom paint and I picked black for two reasons: the main one being I wanted a classic look that I wouldn't grow tired of. Today's flames are tomorrow's polyester suits so I went with minimalism. The second reason is the very first road bike I bought 
myself was a Schwinn and it was black. I bought it with money I earned delivering newspapers. That thing hauled newspapers like a pack animal.
Probably all steel.

And what about them sexy wheels! I originally didn't want silver but that's all they had at this level, and now I'm glad I did it. I love how the silver brings out the silver accents elsewhere. .

Im really diggin'the Look Keo pedals too. They are super easy to clip into.

Ryan talked me into Schram Rival...I had it on my last mountain bike and LOVED it. Ryan guarantees it will be just as tight shifting. I've only had it out a couple of hours so I'm still out on that... but hey,they look fricken cool. Hardly a cable in sight. Not like the rollercoast maze of past bikes!

So, anyhoo, there she is. Hopefully she'll help propel me with warp speed and if not at least now my shoes match my bike.


Ride a bike and Save!

Chicago is smart!

Old and New Chicago

I'm not much of a big city girl but Chicago is pretty cool. After all, next to it's towering cityscape is a beach and a very large lake but even better are the miles of bike trails that line both. In Chicago, we outdoorsy-types can escape the urban jungle and see the sky and feel the breeze (hence the nick name the Windy City, but I think Omaha is fighting for that title as well). Heck, if you ride your bike to certain restaurants, you get a discount! Sweet!

I met up with my life-long friends, some of whom I've known since Kindergarten, to celebrate our 40 years of livin large as well as our friendships. One of them dubbed our annual trip Kindergarten Round-Up, which is fitting. One part of our group went to Underwood Hills Elementary and the other part went to Hillside Elementary. We all met in junior high and have been great friends since, despite parting ways for college, marriage, family and even relocating to different states.

We spent the weekend shopping, sight-seeing and imbibing. Lots of catching up, laughing it up and eating it up. I swear we were constantly munching on something. We took an architectural boat tour (I sat next to an older couple who were definitely all about sex in the city. Sheesh!) Afterwards, we hit the Hancock Building for an amazing view of the city from the Signature restaurant on the 19th floor) FYI - bypass the $15 drink in the restaurant and see the same view from the bathroom. I'm serious! 

I also got to visit with my good pal Jenae who I used to work with some years ago. She moved to Chicago and was a wonderful tour guide. She took me to Millenium Park where the blooms were starting to come up as well as some fantastic environmental art. I love seeing people out and about, enjoying their city and art! We walked through gardens next to the Chicago Art Institute and around fountains in Grant Park. Spring had definitely sprung in the big city.

Click here for photo links. 


Friday, April 24, 2009

WWR Winners

The last three days were a whirlwind. I finally got to meet the other Women Who Ride winners as well as see the Mother Ship where all the Trek candy is made. First my jaw fell open when I walked in the front door and saw all of Lance's bikes on display. Like THE bikes that he raced up the mountain passes into history. What a joy that has to be for those people who actually worked on them to see their work not only propel a human to achieve his best but then to have the bikes back home and memorialized as a daily reminder of their own achievement. I know I was amazed.

Okay, so back to me. :) I got to meet the other 4 ladies and they are rock stars. In an earlier post I listed their descriptions but in person, they are far beyond; warm, giving, inviting and just crazy enthusiastic about riding bikes. They shared ideas and encouraged everyone. They're true representatives of the WWR mission. 

Monday was spent traveling and Tuesday was spent digging through our loot bags and getting our photos taken and touring the candy factory. The morning was like Christmas Day as they paraded our bikes into the room we were in. Three of the ladies got super sweet Madones, Mary got an Equinox TT bike and I'm the proud owner of a 9.8 WSD Top Fuel, the same one I rode all last week. Trek spoiled us good. We were given kits and gear and equipment...as if saying, okay, no excuses. Go ride! 

The photos shoot was interesting. Being in advertising I'm always on the other side of the camera but this time I was in the frame. Yikes. You'd think after countless photoshoots I'd be more original and loose. Nu-uh. I was stiff and nervous but we're our own worst critics. We were photographed individually and as a group. Stay tuned for images on Trek's website sometime in May.

The tour through the factory was enlightening. They mostly make the carbon bikes there now so we got to see those types of bikes in many stages of production. We weren't allowed in the super secret carbon room where all the geeky engineers conjure up the next great thing but they gave us free food and GOOD coffee (bikers rule), so we were okay with it. Later we were treated to dinner with about a dozen other divas who work at Trek. We met ladies who are in charge of everything from saddle design to advocacy. Most were from other back grounds and other states but they liked bikes and beer. We were instant friends.

Wednesday was spent riding bikes (unfortunately they had rainy weather so I couldn't ride the coveted Jim's Trails, the IMBA built trails across the street from the offices where they demo mountain bikes) so I got to ride someone's carbon madone (oh, darn) with the rest of the group. It was a great day and we enjoyed every second.

I'm proud and honored to be part of this group. Trek truly believes in the products they sell and it's pretty cool to see how dedicated they are to getting ladies and everyone else for that matter on a bike. They are going to the ends of the earth to do it. I hope I can help through this opportunity with WWR.

I'm off to Chicago, so I'll be unplugged this whole weekend. 

Next week I promise to upload our trip photos from all of my travels.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

R.Abbott Rallied

Mountain States Cup, Rabbit Valley Rally: 28+ miles. 4th place in Cat. 1 40+. Not too shabby for an old gal from the flat lands.

The day started with blueberry pancakes, eggs and coffee while talking riding with other B&B guests from Canada and Steam Boat. Sun poured in the windows from a cloudless sky. Morning doves sounded their love call. It was to be a great day for racing. 

We got to the race course in Rabbit Valley a couple hours prior to start time. Which stretched into almost 3 hours after start delays. Whomever said mountain bikers are poor are liars. I've never seen so much carbon in one place. There wasn't a clunker in sight. If bikes were shoes, this was Italy, fine craftsmanship and all bling. I saw a few other Top Fuels.

Because of the delay, all Cat 1 junior women on up started together. Like ready, set, go. Not staged or anything, so when they announced that, everyone herded up to get prime positioning. The gun went off and the start was down a service road into a wash. We had ridden it before many times on our vacations and most recently we drove it on this trip to a lower campground so I knew what was coming. I stayed in pro-pedal in back and totally locked out in front. I was mid pack coming into a straightaway in the wash when I saw a large flat batch of slick rock to the right. Everyone stayed left in the sand so I stood up and hammered myself to 5th place (which was actually 7th overall b/c the leaders had already disappeared). But I didn't know that so I felt pretty good about myself but wondered if I hadn't hammered myself into the ground. These were Colorado racers I was up against. And sure enough I took a turn too wide that sent me into a sand trap while 3-4 racers went by. I knew we were coming close to the end of the wash to start climbing. I was behind a rather stocky junior so I knew I had to make a move. Well, she could climb too! So I sat in, all the while keeping an eye on the leaders. Nobody was making any drastic moves so I settled in and got my breath back.

Power climb after power climb were done easily thanks to the sweet Top Fuel. The pace was moderate at best. I'm not used to that as we tend to race at mach 1 in the midwest. So I was enjoying my zone 3 but soon the climbs were getting longer and more technical. My specialty so I jumped out of line and started moved in front of a couple racers at the first of several climbs. I was back in 3rd place in the chase group and there I stayed for most of the race. 

Once up the first few climbs, I had to go down. Now this whole week on the TF has been great. I descended better, faster and more confidently than I ever have on this type of terrain. So here I was now racing it. Uh, yeah. Little different. Once you commit to a line, you go for it cuz you have many behind you going just as fast. And I payed. I picked a double drop. I bounced off the first drop and over the second, right onto my head. I was ok. I picked myself up and all seemed to be working. No big deal. I was off again, like a rabbit who had just escaped a trap.

About 6 miles in the terrain flattened out. I was a big ring grinnin idiot. See, I had ridden this area last year with our group and it was pretty familiar plus the TF was a dream. All locked out and efficient as a race car. I was thuroughly enjoying my race experience. The two leaders were within eyesight and nobody was on my tail. But frolicking through the flats turned into the climb from hell. Smallest in front, smallest in back, head down and pedal, pedal, pedal. The leader started the climb walking. I HATE walking my bike up hill. So much, that I will pedal til my lungs bleed before I put a foot down. I pedaled about half way. HRM said 180bpm. Okay, time to back off. I put a foot down on a rock to take a breather. I looked back, and saw the next woman in line. Time to go. Head down, pedal. 2nd place racer had started walking too. Ha! But as soon as I got close she pedaled on. Once at the top, there was a feed zone. Should have been a barf zone! I didn't need anything so I kept on. The sun was bright and hot and the sand was deep up there. I grabbed a goo and continued.

I had been up there last year as well and knew the area, which really helps the mental game. But holy crap, it was still hard work. We were racing slightly uphill on whoop-dee-doos created by motos. How does one ride those at 10mph? It was a total  power suck. I was wasting way too much energy up there and i knew it but thought that I'd be able to recover on the way down. Well, that didn't happen for a while. Up and down roller coaster style and then power climb over slick rock and then more whoopties and sand and more rocks. My arms were starting to complain. So was my back. I really wanted off that mesa. 

Finally I headed down. That was about mile 20. The descent was loose but rideable. I got passed by a rock star who deserved a good line. Once down, it was double track ATV trail to the Kokepelli and then back towards home. I had been on the exact section a few days earlier so the trail was fresh in my mind and I knew what I had to do. I had to be careful though because there were some big climbs at the end that I needed to store some power for once I got to them. So I rode at a moderate pace. I got passed once I got off the Kokepelli and onto trail 2, the ATV trail that would connect us back to the Kokepelli, which is more like a service road. I stayed with the rider. She didn't seem to be working too hard but I was. Grrrr. She tried to attack another rider(the rock star descender) who wanted nothing to do with us so she sped off. We didn't answer. I stayed with the girl in front of me all the way through the sandy road until the last nasty climb which she seemed to float over as I picked and poked at a line. Grrrr. Once at the top I put it in gear and sped off. I knew there was one more climb and once over that I tried to catch her but didn't. So there went my podium finish but I still had a great race despite crashing and having a potential wheel issue. On top of that, having ridden all week and eaten like the world was going to end. Seriously! So, 4th outta 8 isn't anything to complain about. It was after all, my first race of the season. The course was fun and challenging but well within my range of ability. I was worried that it would be a faster race considering it was all double track and service roads, accept for the moto trails on top of the mesa. I guess all my road riding paid off. It was a great way to cap off an amazing week of riding and a great way to start off a season. So to celebrate, Ryan (who didn't get last!) and I walked to town for dinner. Outside seating gave us a front row view of the setting sun. We clinked our beer glasses and quietly devoured an 18" pie.

Monday I leave for Wisconsin so I won't be posting for a few days. I'm going there to meet the rest of the Women Who Ride winners. Once I get back I'll fill you in and hopefully have some photos from this trip.

Thanks for reading! 

Ribbons and Monuments

Friday was the last day with our group. Though they were on the verge of just chilling around the B&B when Martin said he came to ride, it was on. Ryan took them up to the Ribbon and then onto Eagle's Wing. I say they because Daryl's cankle, aka "The Sausage" was almost too swollen to get into his shoe so we opted for a milder ride. We did ride to the edge of the top of the ribbon so he could get the experience of riding a giant parking lot in the sky. Smiles all around for doing that. 

From there we drove to the lunch loop area andd rode the Tabegaush trail up a ways to do the tail end of Eagle's wing. I really don't like that trail (sorry Rusty). Too much navigating and not enough riding. Funny, we took a connector from Tabegash to the tail instead of hiking up this nasty climb that Daryl wouldn't have enjoyed and we saw Martin, Ryan and Tim. We wooped at them and they wooped back but later they didnt know it was us. They went on to do Holy Cross so we didn't see them when we went back to the car. But the report from the three was 4 stars. Ryan said Tim was clearing some nasty stuff area long with him on Holy Cross. Here here for big wheels. 

While they worshipped the Holy Cross of singletrack, Daryl and I played tourist. We drove the entire 20-some miles of the Colorado National Monument, which we accessed right from the parking lot of the lunch loop parking lot. We stopped at every look out point and took pictures. It was great. 

Our last night as a group was at the famed Fiesta Guacamaya restaurant. Margies all around. It was a popular place for many racers who were in town. RF and I were scoping out the competition. I was not my celebratory self. In fact, I didn't even finish my margarita. Call it prerace nerves or that I over indulged on chips and salsa! Thanks guys for buying us dinner. It was a warm, and wonderful surprise.

Saturday morning, the group left early. Reports weren't looking good for them to get over Vail Pass. They were delayed a mere 30 minutes or so before they were cleared to pass through. What a relief. RF and I spent the afternoon preriding and restingh and playing detective. My bike was making a terrible popping sound when pedaling hard, like the chain was trying to seat. We took it to the EOT shop. He said my cassette was wasted. How so? I've had it a month. It shifted perfectly. We brought it back to the barn and ryan changed chains and cassette. No luck. When we put on the new cassette, it made the same noise when he tightened it on. Freewheel! So, we opted to run what I'd brung and I would have to live with the noise and hope it didn't pop for good on the race course. Tired and hungry, we went down to the town's centennial celebration. Many racers were there as well. We chowed down on Salads from the Hot Tomato Pizza place (a must stop). A great bluesy/western band played outside and the main street was blocked off for a beer garden. We didn't stay long. We needed to get our rest on for the next day. 

Althoough we missed our companions, it was nice to have some us time. The B&B owner, Krista, was nice enough to let us have our room for the next two nights for the same price as the Super 8 we were going to go to. The bonus, her home made breakfasts. Blueberry pancakes would be our race fuel.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Valley of the Rabbits

Today we did one of my absolute favorite rides, Rabbit Valley. It's a bit of a challenge to get to the treasured scenic trails that flow nicely around canyon rims but the effort is worth every stroke. And with all the precip that has been in the area recently, the hills are greener than I've ever seen them which makes for amazing scenery. 

We left for the trail under a cloud that was spitting snow in town. We decided just to drive to the trail head and figure out what to do once we got there and to our amazement it was sunny and beautiful, but a bit chilly which was perfect out in the exposed terrain.  The group was a bit slow to start which is understandable considering the many hours of pedaling in their legs and being soar from injuries. We stopped many times along the rim for photos, of which unfortunately I can't share because of the crappy band width! But I will soon! We were back early afternoon and had a chance to wind down. The three stooges (ryan, tim and Martin) played with their RC cars while Daryl and I soaked in the hot tub. Then he and I drove up to the Colorado National Monument for a sunset scenic tour. As always, good times.

One more day with the group and then it's just Ryan and I for a couple days, which will be nice too! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dirt Heaven

I've died and gone to dirt heaven. I've been here many times and each time brings a new experience. New peeps, new weather, new ouchies...each trip is unique and has its own stories. I love seeing new riding buddies' faces the first time they see a grand view or make it down a particularly gnarly section. You know it was a good day when your buddy thanks ya for bringing them out. Makes everything worth it.

We're now in Fruita and we've been to 18 Road and did a few runs. Today was the epic. 21 miler starting with Rustlers to Horse Theif to Mary's Loop to Steve's Loop and up to Lion's Loop and down Mac Ridge. Epic were the views, the terrain and the 40mph gusts that were determined to blow us off the cliffs. At one time on Mac Ridge, I had to stop pedaling because the wind was so strong. Talk about intense. I  thought Omaha had windy weather.

But an epic ride aint epic unless someone gives to the trail gods. Today it was Daryl who sprained his ankle. Kudos to him for finishing the day when he could have bailed! Then in the last 30 minutes Ryan crashed twice, the second time within feet of the end of the trail. Both knees have huge gashes and one of them is the size of a baseball. Hmmmmm...sounds familiar... He did the same thing last year on Porcupine Rim. But all told, things could have been worse and we are all safe and intact. Dinner tonight was a Martin specialty...salmon steaks, fresh green beans and wild rice. Too good! 

Weather isn't looking too good tomorrow, so the boys are already fixing up their RC cars in case we can't ride. I have a feeling our group wouldn't mind the day off.

We still have many more days to enjoy. Hope all's well back home.

Sorry for the lack of photos. Slow internet connection won't let me. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

We didn't see the Easter Bunny but we did see some sweet single track and of course amazing views. We hit Baby Steps - Klondike Bluffs and Soviern.Many hours of riding but very little distance. Goes to show how technical some of the riding can be. Plus we stop and take pictures and just enjoy the beauty of the day.

We got off pretty good. Only one sprained thumb and one broken saddle.

We ended the day with a steak dinner on the deck and a beer in the hot tub under a starry night sky.

The Top Fuel is riding great. It's definitely made for this type of riding. Lots of cushy for my tushy and it already has upped my confidence on the downhills! Love that!

Tomorrow...Porcupine Rim! 70 degree weather on top of that!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Time to be Gone

Well, flat landers, we're off to the hills. Me, Nerd Boy, Tim "Face-plant" Weeeeeeland, and Martin "Salsa Squish" Bixby heading out at 03:00. We'll make it to Denver by tonight, leave early Saturday and be on trail by 2pm. We're meeting Team Holmes. John and Donna are bringing their boys out for the first time. How lucky they are to such stud parents! We'll be in Moab through Tuesday and then it's onto Fruita until Sunday. Ryan and I will see off our companions as we stay behind to race on the 19th in Fruita - the first race this season. Ryan hasn't raced since last spring, so he'll be getting on it. He's ready. He's been riding really strong. This is going to be a fun trip...lots of beer, buds and bikes. In that order! We're so ready.

"Got no time for spreadin' roots, the time has come to be gone.
And to our health we drank a thousand times, it's time to Ramble On."

Check back for posts and photos!

MIAGO! (Make It A Good One).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Anything For A Beer

Get your buzz on and help raise some dough! 
Beer tasting with raffle prizes and silent auction.
Wed. 4/22
6:30 at the Slow Down.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Visit to the Mother Ship

So, the latest news on the WWR gig is all the winners will be heading to Madison, WI for a few days. I don't have any other details but I'm assuming they'll do the photo shoot for the website (OMG I need to get my hair done, brows waxed... you know, girl stuff). Hopefully through the magic of photoshop, they'll give my winter white legs some tint! HA!

I'll be flying from Grand Junction because they want us to be out there on the same day I would have been traveling back from our desert vacation. So they graciously offered to fly me out of GJ to Madison. Now that is service. And they were stoked on the fact that I'll be racing the day before, so I hope I can bring back a win for "the girls". 

So, the next few weeks are going to get a little busy. I'm tellin' ya folks, don't bet on the day. You never know what can happen. Stay tuned!

My First National

4/19 is my season opener at the Mountain States Cup race in Fruita, Co.  And why shouldn't it be at a national mtb race? And to top it off, my first ever national XC race? I've done national 24 hour events and I don't expect this to be much different but the competition will be fierce. Reports from friends in the front range say they've been riding outside since January, in shorts! To that I say, pansies! Try training in 4 layers without feeling your fingers. HA. Take that. And I bet they can't say they did it in the dark. My night vision is so keen, like a ravaging raccoon. Ok, so maybe that won't come in handy during the race but it will in case I get lost and have to spend the night in the desert. 

Despite all the inconveniences of training in the flat lands in the winter, I'm very excited to be racing in one of my favorite riding destinations, Fruita. I haven't raced at this level of XC in a long time, having been doing more marathon-type events since that's where my body seems to be taking me, (kicking and screaming). I'll be in the 40+ class. Argh! Seriously? Do I have to? I'm a bit nervous that the race is at the end of our vacation instead of the start (it was rescheduled after our plans were set) so I'll have to be careful the week prior. And not just to keep from injuring myself but also to not wear myself out. I'll have to be mindful of my pancake intake, enchilada intake, beer intake, margarita intake... you get the picture. All the things that make a bike vacation a bike vacation will have to be limited a bit this time. But that's okay. Just being out there with friends and having good times is really what it's all about, so I'm not dwelling on it.

Looks like a week of trainer rides for this dirt girl. I'm really gonna need a vacation after this week!

Mother Nature Isn't Funny

So if April showers bring May flowers, what does an April blizzard bring? A bunch of newborns in nine months. He-he!

Seriously, this is craziness. RF and I snuck in a ride yesterday at Manawa for one last single track ride before the storm came in. Still dialing in the Top Fuel. Love the auto lock out and of course the pro-pedal in back. With pro pedal on it rides similar to a hard tail but the rear isn't totally locked out. Just enough to take the edge off the stutters but then if I hit something really big, it will give.

I think I've said it a few times this week... it seems the older I get, the plushier the bikes get. 

Well, folks, hunker down. It'll be a few days until the trails dry out. In the meantime, you got it, buy the family pack!