Thursday, July 30, 2009

T-Minus Two Days

Alright, cats, I'm heading out tonight to meet Ryan in Denver. From there we'll drive to Laramie (he drove out in Pearl, my Subaru), which is only a few hours. We'll be able to sleep in, get a good breakfast and some recon riding of the race course. Lots on my mind, so I just really need to focus once I'm on the start line. I've been told to get up front early so I have a chance at the whole shot.

On the home front, mom is home. She looks like she hit the pavement but it's all superficial stuff that will heal. THANK THE GOOD LORD! My sibs will take care of her well while I'm out doing crazy two-wheeled stuff.

We are close to getting a house! If all goes well, we close in three weeks. Anyone got a truck?

Have a great weekend all. I hope this weather comes with us!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Laramie oh-my!

Elevation Profile
7000 ft- 8900 ft

Okay, dirt lovers. Round two of the 2009 trifecta is in my sights. This weekend RF and I will be trying a new endurance race: The Laramie Enduro. This is a popular race, usually selling out in a few days after it opens up for registration. Why? Race support. It's 70 miles and supported all the way by means of aid stations that stock snacks and drinks so that anyone can go light and long.

I've heard that this race is more of a race of old. Less technical, faster and just plain fun. No multiple laps. No hike a bikes. People come to ride their bike and damn it, that's what people do. The caveat: better be getting your grub on before sun rise, cuz the gun goes off at 7am. Ouch! Best to pack a pancake in the jersey.

I'm excited to try a new race. RF and I have found some gems that we've been going back to every year just cuz we have so much fun and the races are well organized but this year we decided to skip 24 hours of 9 mile for the Enduro. We've been to the area on other trips and it's a cool place to play outside let alone race. I can't wait. Ryan is on a mission to not lose to me again, which then puts me on an even bigger mission: to put a stop to his mission. It's all good, clean competition of course. :)

Hard to say how long I'll be out there. I'm going to shoot for around 5:30. It's longer than the Fire Cracker 50 but not as much sustained climbing and lower altitude, so hopefully that equals faster dirt girl.

A race report will follow next week.

Life Report

Whew, what a weekend. Very high highs and very low lows.

First the good news. The hubs-to-be and I put an offer in on a house and they accepted. Woo-hoo! It's not far from our current location and it looks almost the same on the inside. Much smaller kitchen and no deck, so you Xmas partiers are gonna hafta chill in the basement, which is finished and will be a great place to hang for the occasion. I'm picturing a wet bar already. Attic was remodeled and turned into a master suite. I'm going to finally get my walk-in closet! Score! We'll probably close later next month. Yeah, good timing. I know.

Another bit of good news...I had my wedding shower. It was tame (thankfully, since the Mo-In-Law was present). I had a couple embarrassing moments (thanks, Shayna) but it's all good. I think it went over some heads. My attendants hosted the event and they did such wonderful things like provide fresh flowers, awesome brunchy foods, cool gift baskets and they didn't make us play any games. Now, are those real girlfriends or what! The day was gorgeous and I had a blast!

Now the crappy news. My poor mommy went boom on her new vespa. She's in the hospital recuiperating. Without going into the gross details, she's going to be OK! For a woman who's almost 70 (don't you dare tell her I said that) she's got off pretty good. Time will heal broken bones and cuts. She' should be almost 100% by wedding time but will not be doing anything if I have anything to say about it. If anything, experiences like these remind us how delicate life can be, so tell your mom you love her every day b/c there could come a day when you can't.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ladies, stand up for your right to pee

Over the various adventure travels, camping or anything outdoors, one thing is a constant concern for the tender gender: Is there a bathroom? Of some kind? I have a girl bladder like no other and the potty gods have blessed this earth with some pretty timely portas, like the one I found just in time on our hike out from the the Grand Canyon or on our mtb hut to hut trip or the the one at the Porcupine Rim trail head in Moab. But, most of the time, we are copping squats behind the nearest big tree or rock or building, and if you're like me, you're generally with a bunch of "oh, I'm just gonna pull off the road here" dudes. Yeah, I got penis envy. But no more! Ladies, we have been liberated. Go-girl is our answer to squatting. No longer do we have to bare all. We can be one of the guys. We can stand and pee! We're free. And I don't even think we have to shake it when we're done. Just pee, zip and go, girls!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Road Rage

So with dirt events kinda quiet this month, Dirt Girl hit the pavement. It was the Omaha Cycling Weekend so I copped an attitude and got to it. (Just kidding, my skinny friends!)

I spent Saturday at the Papio Crit at registration. That is a great event. Papillion really came through with support from road closings to EMTs. HyVee provided bagels, bananas and water and Power Aid. I sat and watched the racers go 'round and 'round and 'round, oh and 'round again. Oh, what fun. But it all came down the sprint. Whomever came out of the last corner best usually pulled out the win. Most played it safe but there were a couple of skin scrapers.

I kinda hem-hawd all day about racing the rr on Sunday but then I thought why not? It'd be a better work out than I'd do on my own, so I lined up with the other Cat. 4 ladies and about 35 Cat. 5 men (some of which were guys I've ridden next to many times on group rides) so I felt pretty at home. We had a lolly pop course, with a 3 mile neutral start (the stick) and then a 6 mile loop that we did five times. Yeah, we're suckers, for sure!

The start was mellow which was nice for me b/c standing starts are a weak point. As soon as we turned onto the course, it was all for one. It wasn't too crazy. Everyone was in a group just trying to get their legs warmed up. Before the race, I kept hearing about a huge climb, a double hill that went up at the start, then it flattened out for a few pedal strokes before it went up again. At the top was the feed zone. When we got to it, it was great to have people cheer us on and watch us as our eyes popped out of our heads. The first few times up wasn't bad but by the end I wanted that hill to die. The course was fast, overall. A couple of turns after downhills made for some risky cornering, especially coming from someone like ME who corners like a turtle on a tight rope. I'm just glad I didn't cause anyone to go off road.

The first 3 laps consisted of a lot of acceleration, followed by easy pedaling. Surge-chill, surge-chill. It was crazy but I have to pat everyone on the back for a pretty well-behaved group of Cat 4s and 5s. Everyone did a fairly good job of holding their line (I'm including me in this scenario) but I did almost become part of a dog pile when two dudes locked handle bars that brought them and another guy down right in front of me, on the flat just before the feed zone hill. Bikes and butts were sky high. One guy dislocated a finger (but road in on his own after resetting it..ewwww!), another had the wheel truck bring him in and the third guy (the one who caused it all) had lots of rash. Everyone was pretty much okay considering how it looked from behind it all. After the crash, because I was right behind it, I had to haul ass to bridge up to the group. I blew my wad and on the feed zone hill. I was breathing like I was at altitude. I sat in after the feed zone section to catch my breath and then as we approached the turn to the last lap, everyone stood on the gas pedal. Ah, shit. So I did my best to stay with the lead group. That plan was working until we hit the hill one last time and that separated the boys from the men, so to speak (or the women from the boys he-he). All the while during the last two laps the sky was getting darker and darker. The wind was whipping up in every direction, it seemed. We could see the rain curtain off to the north which was a great motivator. Luckily we had it at our back as we headed towards the finish line. It was me and two others. I swallowed them up and told then to jump on. We traded pulls and then one was able to take off at the end and come in ahead of me and the other guy.

All told, 1:47 for about 39 miles. Good times! Nice change of pace for sure. I managed to pull off the win for the Cat 4 ladies with Kim Carveth rocking 2nd and my good buddy Susan Wilson capping off the podium at 3rd. I had a great time riding with everyone and as well as the camaraderie afterwards as we waited for results. I met new folks and even go to chat with significant others. That NEVER happens. I was stoked on that.

All told I had fun, but dirt is truly where I belong.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More FC50 Pix

Team Flatlanders!

Mmmm. Get me some food, quick!

Tres Place, Yo!

Future, Team Feagan
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Monday, July 6, 2009

40 is the new 20 at the FC50

Age is all relative. For sure.

This year I'm racing up an age class in the USAC races. For the USAC Marathon Nationals Firecracker 50 race, I was in the Open Women 40-49. Ladies, listen up. It seems that as we age, we get faster. Our class was the fastest class of all the non-pro women. Bam! U23? Nah, it's O40, baby.

So, yeah. I'm a bit stoked to place 3rd. Can ya tell? My goal was to podium (check) as well as come in under 5:30 (check, check!) I tell ya, it feels pretty good to do well in the alti-dude and dudette's playground.

We got to Breck on Thursday (thanks to my boss for the free day off). We ate and hung out. Got a great night's sleep. Friday (after a lot of rain) we went out for a hearty breakfast at the Blue Moose Mountain Grill (which is also a bike shop and gardening center. Hey, whatever works). Then we went for a walk to get some real coffee. The boys went off to hunt down some bike parts and I strolled through the Breck arts and crafts show. It was great. Then we did a light spin and some road climbs to wake up the lungs to the fact that they were about to work hard. We found a hill that had a 13% grade. Yeah, it sucked. After the ride we drove to Frisco to get the necessary celebratory beverages from the Back Country Brewery. Yeah, we were planning the celebrations a bit early. We all had been training and were ready to tear off some legs. We stood in line for packet pickup and saw the who's who of the Pro MTB world. Kinda cool knowing they have to stand in line in the rain just like all of us hacks. That night we ate at Rasta Pasta. I had gas pains so bad that I wasn't even hungry and only ate a half order. Altitude always does this to me. Luckily the pains subsided by the time I went to bed (yeah, I was a bit noisy). We set out our gear and tried to sleep.

Race morning was excruciating. Up early to eat so it had a chance to digest. Oatmeal with bananas, raisins and mixed nuts (we had this while camping at Ponca and now I'm hooked). The race didn't start until 11:00. Luckily the TDF was on TV and kept us relaxed. At 8am we dumped our aid station stashes off at the start/finish and went back to the condo to sit, stretch and ponder....and ponder.... and tinker... and stretch... I'm tellin you, it was nerve wracking. Finally around 10:00 we headed for Main Street to warm up and got caught up in the buzz and excitement of the event. With thousands of visitors lining the street waiting for the parade, you can't help but get butterflies. Everyone in their red, white and blue...balloons, flags, kids on their bikes... It was classic Americana, only this time, it was classic Fat Tire Americana.

After a half hour warm up I found my way through the 750 racers to my category, bumping into my trainer, Jason along the way. It was good to hear my sage before I lined up. All of us ladies were grouped in with the younger open cats. I chatted with a couple of them. Most were from the area but one was from WI and was stoked on my magic carpet. We gave each other a high-5 for representing the Midwest. Soon it was our time to be at the start line after all of the men and Pro cats went off. It was a neutral start, so we rolled along behind our leader, slapping kids' hands and waving. Suddenly half of the group started picking up the pace before the end of the neutral start which is grounds for disqualification. The other half of us stayed back looking ahead wondering WTF? Do I go too? Do I stay? Then one woman asked if she could go and well, then we all went. It was chill, not like a stand up and mash, because well, we had a 6 mile road climb to the single track so nobody was really eager to pace line it, including me. I got into a nice gear, put my head down and pedaled. It wasn't a steep climb, just long so it was best to get into a rhythm. On the last part of the road before it turned to dirt, a group of friendlies had a Wild Turkey stand and if you rode over their ramp, you got to do a shot. Some did it. Most didn't. But the dude in the bikini and wrestling mask was pretty convincing as he jumped around his driveway trying to get folks to participate. Ahh, mountain bikers. We're wacked.

So I finally made it up to the single track. I didn't stop at the first aid station b/c I was feeling good and had a most of my bottle still. (I'm a bad drinker). I followed the crowed up a steep, rocky and rooty section onto the single track with a feeling of relief. First climb done. Three left to go. I recovered for a minute, found my pace and cruised. It was crowded so it wasn't like I could just bomb away but I was among quick dudes so I just went along with it the pace. A combination of double-track, single-track, switch backy, long flowy, rocky, rooty, muddy, tacky. We had all of it in the first 15 minutes after entering the trees. But then, hill #2. It was a nasty jeep trail, on the fall line, rudded out like crazy so there was really only one line. If you wanted to pass, you had to work for it by riding the crappy side. I just settled in and looked at the wheel ahead of me. I rode the whole mile or so without incident. After that was a double track section that had lots of baby heads and I had to seek out my own line. I passed many in this area, which was nice. A group of folks up there were cheering us on and welcoming us to the highest point of the race. That really helped out the ol' psyche. BUT, I knew what was still coming. The shale climb. After a gravel road descent that was a two-way traffic section of the race, the 3rd of the quadruple bypasses was next. It started out all scenic and inviting. It seeme the steeper it got, the looser the rocks. There were three stream crossings as well. Riders were shedding their bikes left and right. I HATE walking my bike uphill. I'd rather have road rash. So I used all kinds of English to stay seated while passing the walkers and all the while trying not to slip into the loose stuff. It was really hard but I wanted to do the whole thing without walking. Well, I almost did it. I slipped once and ran to the nearest flat spot and just got right back on. While up there, I caught up to Larry, who had to walk due to cramps. He had his game face on so he didn't look like he was suffering but later he said he'd never cramped that soon. I finally made it to the top and had to slide down 50 feet of gravely dirt only to then power through the last stream crossing which was rushing with rain run off over large, greasy wet rocks. Yeah, good times at 11000 feet. To keep the party going, the trail continued off camber stylee through a shale rock slide. You only knew it's the trail by the mud left on the rocks by previous riders. As I was poking along, trying not to die, I saw Ryan, with his bike upside down, changing a flat. He yelled that he had it covered and cheered me on. But shortly after a long, crazy jeep road descent he caught me. He's a great descender! We rode together for a bit and then the trail headed up again on jeep road. I started climbing and he told me to do my thing, so off I went. I didn't see him again and later he said he just didn't have the legs to go any harder. Eventually the trail turned down a gnarly double track trail that had a pucker factor of about 8. If you went too far to the left, you would head down the mountain. So I looked up mountain the whole time until I hit tree line and then it was a hairy half-pipe descent over rocks. We rode up one side of the trial to the other, trying to find the best lines. My hands were clenched to the handlebars as my arms practically rattled out their sockets. And there was no stopping. Too many riders right on my ass to even think about that, so I just hammered on. Finally at the bottom, on a gravel road, I was able to shake out my hands and unwrench my back. And I wasn't alone. Everyone was doing it. Soon the last aid station was upon me. As I tried to get food and goos out of my jersey, all of my goos fell to the ground. I didn't care. I had a stash at the aid stations so I kept going. I stopped for a bottle swap and was off again. The fourth and final hill was the two-way traffic gravel grinder we came down a couple hours earlier. 2-3 miles of up. And I had to stay alert b/c racers were bombing down at 35 mph on the other side. Yeah, sketch! Finally, I saw the 3rd aid station and I knew it was all downhill after that. I clicked into the big ring, took a few swigs and a gel and bombed away!

After a couple miles of downhill jeep roads full of jumps and puddles we crossed a road and headed into single track, jockeying around trees and rocks and berms until we finally hit the open air on the last section of switch-back descents. This year the race coordinators put huge berms at each switchback which made it so much fun coming down. No longer did we have to break into the corner and put a foot down to turn. It was like a BMX track. Some SS guy was yelling and screaming to pass and finally did by cutting a corner, only to then get passed on the climb back up the mountain. What a tool. I made it through the start/finish at 2:24 for my first lap. I was okay with that, knowing if I totally cracked, I'd have 3 hours to get through the 2nd lap and still beat my goal but I also knew I couldn't dilly dally.

I won't bore you will all the details of lap two but I do need to plug the maker of my magic carpet. The Top Fuel is a machine meant for Colorado racing. I said it when I raced in Fruita earlier this year. It gives me the confidence of a seasoned racer. The longer wheel base is definitely a bonus, especially bombing down rocky stuff. I don't know if it was the Bontrager tires or the Fuel itself, but it just always felt stable and would recover from a fish tail with ease. Climbing was just as smooth. I gotta say, I'm impressed! Now, back to the race. I stopped at the top of the road climb on lap 2 to refuel, and get fresh bottle. Everything went well except that it started to rain. That made for slippery rocks and roots, especially the shale climb. I ended up having to put a food down twice but I never gave up on myself. I kept trying to ride instead of walk. I knew my legs had the energy but at the same time I didn't want to use it all. My arms were really starting to ache, especially after each rocky death-gripping descent. Most of the second lap I had to let go of my left hand and stretch it out. I adjusted my saddle before the race b/c I thought it had moved after we had to raise it to get both bikes on the rack and I think I tilted too far down and back, thus creating more pressure on my hands. But I managed. I came through the finish line at 5:09 on my clock. That was actual moving time. My official finish time was 5:15 so factor in that I stopped twice to refuel and who knows when they start the official clock. Regardless, I achieved what I set out to do and the feeling of accomplishment is undeniable.

After Ryan came in, we all headed back to the condo to clean up. Larry and Rick both unfortunately had to DNF but that didn't stop them from partying like rock stars later (or maybe it was the catalyst). We went back to the finish area for all the free food and beer (we even got free beer glasses). We also chit-chatted with former Omahan Marco Vasquez a la Kaos fame who came out with his fam to cheer on his former Omaha buds. That was awesome. Cam Kirkpatrick raced and finished well (by our non-super human standards, I mean). It was great to be among friends after such a big event. After the podium photo with the rest of the winners, we headed out on the town. We drank and ate anything that was put in front of us. I was mostly sober but the others, uh, yeah, not so good. After watching the local fireworks display we stumbled to an Irish Pub where Ryan, Rick and Bob took over the juke box and sang every Johnny Cash song listed. I hung out with Larry, who was teetering on the edge (but he doesn't remember) HA! Such good times.

The next day was tough for my traveling companions. Hung over and crabby, we checked out by 10am. After some eats we rode easy on a loop from Frisco. It was exactly what they needed to bring them back from the dead.

Looking back on the race and the training leading up to it, of course, I'm just so happy things went the way they did. It's always a crap shoot. It could have easily ended differently. So just finishing is a success but when the result is exactly what I wanted, the gratitude that comes with it is the first thing that pops into my mind. This is a solo sport for the most part and yes I do all of the hard work but if I didn't have a trainer to push me, a fiance to share my obsession, family and friends to forgive me for it and a job to allow me to travel, achievements like these would be much more difficult. So to that I say, thanks all for everyone's support!

Next up, Laramie Enduro. 70 miles at 7000 feet. For now, it's rest time.
Thanks for reading! Check out the motion-base link in the right-hand column. If you click on the chart below, it'll show you elevation and heart rate and speed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

3 days til blast off

The 4th of July is always nerve-wracking for me. It should be a chill day sitting around eating and playing outside. Well, I'll be doing both, but chilling won't happen until early evening after fifty grueling miles through the high country around Breckenridge, Co.

The Firecracker 50 is this Saturday. I've checked the registration list and I'm one of 12 in my age group. I can't wait! The magic carpet is ready to fly away. My biggest concern is nutrition. Gotta put in as much as my stomach can manage all-the-while burning double the amount at any given time. It's all about input vs output. And when a couple of those outputs include monster climbs, you can imagine the energy being used, not to mention, the altitude.

So every year I go in with lessons I learned from the year before in hope of bettering my time with each attempt. This year, it's to come in under 5:30. If I do that, regardless if I make the podium, then it will be a success! Then, it's pig out and drink!

Be thinking of us come noon on Saturday. The midwest will represent! Me, RF, Larry, Bob Weick and Dr. Rick Thompson.

Happy 4th all!