Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A Reflection

Since I haven't posted anything in months (my apologies) what better reason do I need than to use it as a means to reflect on the year that was and to also put in writing my sincere promise to not make DGD become a commentative dead end.

I found myself complaining to the hubs, upon deciding what photos I'd use to make our annual holiday collage  card, that nothing spectacular had happened. After a trip to Italy in 2008, a wedding and new house in 2009, how could I possibly put together a card that would top those? Ryan scoffed at me. So I looked through this year's photo archives and though they were mainly of bike trips to places we've frequented before, they were sometimes with new people, which needless to say, always creates a new experience for us. Especially when they've never seen some of the places we take them. From the highlight reel would be our annual trip to Fruita w/ a side adventure to Moab's Arches National Park. My first trip there included a hike to Delicate Arch and it's remained a destination every year since. We so enjoy the look upon the faces of the newbies when they turn that last corner and see the behemoth and the expanse behind it. It's especially fun when, like this year, there weren't as many tourists around so we could hang out at the base and try not to fall off the other side.

Middle of the summer for dirt girl and nerd boy meant one thing: Breckenridge and the Firecracker 50. This was an A race for me but not for RF. But he did learn a valuable lesson: don't go so f'n hard at the start and well, ya might finish without cramping. And so it was. Ryan's streak of flatting and cramping had ended. He finished strong. Larry too on his newly acquired 29r. Rox, not so much. I finished. That's all I got to say about that. But from the highlight reel, we found some bitchn new single track that we rode from our condo and rode the day after the race instead of packing up to head home. Martin can confess, he was smiling ear-round after that epic day.

Ryan and I took 3 trips to S. Dakota. The first was to participate in the Black Hills FTF. With a tri-fecta uphill, downhill and XC weekend + extra trail riding with our buddy JMK as tour guide, we put in some serious miles. From the highlight reel: taking Jessie and Katie Bergman with us on an epic tour that included riding through hub deep pastures to get to the trail (SD got lots of rain in 2010) and then crossing a rushing creek atop a wood bridge in one of the canyons. Local knowledge at its finest. We returned in August for JMK's wedding which was perfect. In the middle of the Black Hills, the ceremony site was reachable only by foot or horseback. As we approached, unsuspecting trail riders were coming up the trail but they gracefully dismounted the horses until all of the guests had arrived so that we didn't have to "watch our step". With their initials written in sidewalk chalk on boulders in the middle of a low-rushing stream, it couldn't have been any more romantic. Unfortunately, that was the end of my season on that trip. A collision with a tree on the Dakota 5-0 course resulted in a cracked shoulder blade. That didnt keep me from returning for the 3rd time with the crew to the Dakota 5-0 race. As part of the Beer Leaders, I enjoyed the race from a new perspective, as we handed out cold ones to racers at one of the pit stops. Many of those that participated managed new personal bests. Though we weren't able to order waffle fries by the fire (the restaurant ran out) we still had an amazing time.

Off the bike, Ryan took on the task of building me a deck. And not just any deck. We're talking party barge. I could only sit by and watch (shoulder injury) as he, along with dedicated friends and family sacrificed many a weekend to help him build the deck I had hoped for. Stay tuned for deck party announcements in 2011.

As well, we were honored to witness the marriages of some of our closest friends. The Kingsburys (see above) and the Dolotos, who had family from the Old Country come over for the first time. To be a part of their day and part of their extended family was a blessing. (And speaking of families, many are growing. My brother will have a new daughter in 2011. One of Ryan's best friends will birth like any day and one of his co-workers and dear friends just did. So cool for everyone.)

So,yeah, RF was right. We really did have an eventful year.(I didnt even mention all the cool stuff THOR accomplished and the fun we had with Psycowpath). We had some great times and met a bunch of new friends. RF and I have talked about this phenomena before; it's so wild how every year new people come into our lives and, well, stay. And it's not like they just moved into town. They've been around, but for some reason or another certain people seem to come into focus and before we realize it, we're partying together and traveling together. We are very blessed this way.

It's New Year's Eve, and as I type this, with one arm in a cast (tendon surgery), I'm already looking forward with positive thoughts, knowing that a year from now, I'll have plenty to look back on.

Here's to you and to a great year in 2011.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let your food do the talking

On 11/1 R&R will team up to cut out the junk and eat smarter. It's so easy to justify eating like shit or just not thinking at all before putting food into your mouth. I've been doing it since I've been off the bike and I feel I'm ready to be more focused and purposeful, especially with the holiday months coming. Oh, I'll cheat. For sure. I'm human, but stopping the daily cheating is my plan.

We're both reading a book called Racing Weight and although that may seem extreme or hardcore for some folks (even for me) I'm a person who needs structure and guidelines. If I just rely on myself, I wander pretty easily. I've gotten only a few pages into it and already the messages are making sense. The one that has stuck most is using food to communicate with your body, not necessarily to stop the hunger pains. Certain types of foods, on a chemical level, send your body specific messages and if that message is "uh-oh better fatten up" or "better go into survival mode" instead of "oooh, build lean muscle" or "alright, let's burn some fat" then the food isn't the right type at the moment. Which then goes to show that timing also has to be taken in to account if we want to send the right message. Here's what one review said: Racing Weight answers the difficult questions athletes often have about dieting, including how to handle the off-season. The book gives readers a scientifically backed system to discover your optimum race weight, as well as five steps to achieve it.” — Triathletemagazine

If anything, it will at least help me attain better eating habits by adopting this food as communication theory.

In the same vein, I came across this blog by a Lincoln local who has awesome recipe ideas, even for a sweet tooth fiend like me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back in action

It's been 59 days since I fractured my scapula. Today was the first day back on the bike since August 1st. Yes, folks, I'm back in action. (Well, if you call spinning for an hour back in action.) Two months ago this point was so far away that I had to let the desire to ride leave me else I would've grown bitter. That desire was so far gone, in fact, that I hadn't decided to ride until, I got home from work today. And how could I not? The weather has been so spectacular I could lick it. Not a poof of cloud to be seen. The only breeze would be of my own doing. Ryan asked if I wanted him to come with me. I did but I didn't. I wanted the ride to be my speed and I didn't want to be distracted from seeing and feeling. I was surprised that I felt so anxious, like waiting in line to see Santa. All my gear was right where I left it after returning from that fateful trip. Airing up my tires was a tad painful but I put my body weight into it and managed just fine. I had planned on driving myself to Aksarben Park to avoid traffic, pot holes, etc. but I couldn't lift the thing onto the rack and didn't want to mess with putting it inside so I braved the streets. My legs were pretty pathetic but I didn't care. They're pretty much the size of runners' legs, buy maybe this will be to my advantage next season. Light and lean, maybe? A couple times I stood up on the pedals to test the pain. Hmph, nada. That's good. Up one little tiny climb I rocked the bars. Pain. Won't be doing that for a bit. I purposely went over some cracks and bumps to see if the feedback would bug my shoulder but the only sensation was from my ass. Seems I lost some padding back there during my sabbatical. Once at the Keystone, I turned south for no reason other than I wanted open sky. It didn't matter that I was going into the wind first. I would have ridden into a tornado. (not really). They sky didn't disappoint. That golden, Indian summer light where the sun is lower in the west, casted long shadows across the landscape. The air tasted sweet and just the sound of rubber on pavement lulled me into a state of bliss. Even the annoying clouds of bugs didn't bother me. I rode for a total of an hour. My arms were pretty tired but they'll get stronger over time. The great news is my shoulder took it like a champ. Roxy 2.0 has begun.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Dakota 5-0; from the sidelines

It's been just over a month since the accident. A very long month. I'm doing pretty good, thank you very much.

No, not riding. Probably won't be off road the rest of the year. Just don't want to put myself in a situation where I'd have to tuck and roll. Nope, I've resolved to the fact that my work outs consist of speed walking. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to run this off-season and getting back into Yoga. Sarah has promised to help me attain six pack abs. I'll teach her to tear up single track. Look out!

Over the last month, I've slowly checked out being in 24/7 training mode. (Now it's about what can I do to keep from dying from boredom). Watching Ryan and friends leave for rides sucked at first but now it's like, eh, wake me when you get back. And so, you could say, I've become a sloth, but not by my own choosing. You could say since I have this hall pass to chill, well, I'm gonna do it right.

Which brings me to this past weekend. There was no freaking way I was going to stay home while the short bus went north to the 5-0. Okay, so not exactly chill, but can ya blame me? For anyone who hasn't made the trek to our neighboring state to the north, let me tell you, you're missing out on one of the best venues around for racing. The secret is out though. This year they sold out, so keep eyeballs on the lookout for early sign up next year. I'm telling you, like Ive been for five years, GO!

I digress...back to the weekend. I have to say it was kinda nice not having to stress about packing nutrition and bike gear and all that. I did make up for it, however, with the extra food, cooler and queen size mattress. But it all fit in the bus. Damn, shoulda brought more. It was funny, cuz Mod sent out an email saying him and Annie were choosing not to bring food but would be eating out. Most followed suite, but since I had replaced being in race mode with camp mode, dammit, I was gonna camp and eat camp food! My menu was brats, guac, chips, chicken strips, salsa, crackers and cheese, smore's fixins, cereal, fruit, OJ, veggies and dip and of course some white wine in a container that was similar to a pint carton of milk. A cheap hang over is the same as an expensive one, so I took the low road.

The drive up was great. We were packed in but that's what you do when you road trip with a bunch of racers. We motored up to Mitchell and dirt bagged it at a Hampton Inn, thanks to the business needs of Miles, who had to log in to do some early morning trading on Friday. Hope the boss took notice. LOL. One breakfast bar later, and were on the road by 9. By mid afternoon we had made it to camp, but unfortunately, so did many others and most of the shady spots were spoken for, so we took the sunniest spot in the place and set up base camp. It was pretty comical watching RF huff and puff about as he put up the tent we borrowed to use the mattress pad (I can't exactly lay on the ground yet). You'd thought he was erecting the Sears Tower for crying out loud. A few excruciating minutes went by and the tent was up. Next was the mattress. We drug it over to the RV area and plugged it into an outlet to auto inflate. That was the shit. I wish my bike tire pump did that! We enlisted Jeremy to help us carry it to the tent. This thing was huge. Two layers high and it had a head board so the pillows couldn't slide off the end. Yes, I said it, "don't come a knockin...." I'm sure it was a sight seeing us try to fit the thing through the tent door. Once inside, it took up 2/3 of the space but was pretty comfy, actually. As a matter of fact, I'm confident enough in myself to say I really liked sleeping on the mattress. Not once did i wake up with a screaming back ache or a hip ache. That alone could convert me into a full-on car camper. Fuck, I'm old.

Hey, our campsite at the Spearfish City Campground made it on a roll from Mountain Flyer Mag, due out in Dec. Hah! The princess tent with the mattress is the big gray one on the left.

As per usual, the trail called the group. They kitted up to spin out the day's drive and introduce the trail to the newbies, Miles and JC. Rafal had just arrived as the group was heading out but he opted to stay camp side to set up and hang out with his new Mrs. Rafal. I couldn't sit too long so I strolled up to the fish hatchery and continued through the park. Families were picnicking and reunioning. It was a famously gorgeous late summer day. The only thing missing was a tall lemonade. The path mimicked the rushing spring. I stood and listened and watched it, lost in the joy of being where I was on a later afternoon on a Friday. Life was good. I continued my walk through the park and then turned back down what would be the finishing straight of the race on Sunday. Lucky SOBs!

Back at camp, I decided to be productive, so I took it upon myself to find kindling for the fire that would blaze that night. Even with one arm, I think I did a good job. By the time I made it back, the group had returned from their recon ride. The smack talk was rabid. But it soon shifted to food talk and it didn't take long before folks were dressed down, ready to chow down. We hadn't eaten since breakfast, so a good meal was in order, especially for the racers. I rode with the Dolotos while the rest of the group pedaled. We hit the local waffle fry establishment and imbibed on a cacophony of carbohydrates. I washed my down with a couple of beers. Our over indulgence of the waffle fries would haunt us all later.

The first night at camp was a chiller and most of us from the land of Hot and Humid hadn't anticipated such a chill, or had forgotten such a temperature existed. CWolfe didn't even have a coat. I forgot gloves. Ryan and I both didn't think to bring a knit cap. Ryan ended up sporting a very stylish one from Walgreens with the popular local sports team SPARTANS across the front. He made it all the more memorable by keeping the tag attached. Proof that he had just bought it and that it wasn't a staple of his ultra cool camping gear. Our camp site sat literally inches from the natural spring that flows through the camp ground, a natural AC when it's hot. When it's not, it's like sleeping in a refrigerator. I had my hoody on inside the sleeping bag with the bag slightly over my face. Our tent had mesh walls, ideal for camping in the desert, not next to a stream with temps in the 40s. But, we managed. We did wimp out and headed into town the next morning to get some warmer clothes for sitting around the camp fire and an extra layer for the sleeping bags. Okay, so Wal Mart is good for something.

The next morning, Saturday, was chill for everyone. We all got up at our leisure. That's my second favorite part of camping, next to sitting by the fire: having breakfast outside in the morning air. RF and others rode to the local foo-foo coffee house while me and the Dolotos were hardcore, drinking french press out of camping bowls. (But I gotta fess up. When we went on a Wal Mart run, I asked to stop for a foo-foo).

The rest of the day was pretty mellow. The group went out for another ride. I went for a long walk. A crushed trail leading out of the other side of the campground had me intrigued. Lucas said it was short and lead up to the paved path, so I went exploring. I found some single track but it was just a small off-shoot that lead me back to where I started. I continued back on the paved path out into a neighborhood. A sign directed traffic to Spearfish Canyon. When we were here a month ago, we stopped at a high-point on the trail and looked down into the canyon. Now I know how to get to it. I continued on the path back towards town. I walked down a road that turned into Main Street. My little walk took me past the cutest little coffee/sandwich shop, so I stopped in and grabbed a menu. It had wonderfully inviting outdoor seating, old wood floors and local art and photos on the walls. It will be my new foo-foo stop. I walked back to the park where the next day's festivities would take place. I walked past a wedding party getting pictures taken and an old man enjoying the bubbling spring as I did the day before. I caught up to Megan who was out on her own solo walk. Back at camp, I piddled around. I spread a sheet on the ground in the shade and did some arm exercises. More folks from the Big O were arriving, Todd Eiberg and his wife April as well as Alex Sanchez, who was a super virgin, as this was his first time riding outside of NE/IA. He was excited and nervous all at the same time. Yeah, been there. Soon after they were unpacked, Todd and Alex headed to ride. April and I drove them to the hole shot so they wouldn't waste day light on gravel (who does that anyway, lol). By the time we got back Andy arrived, questioning what the hell he was doing there. Then most of the group made their way to packet pick up. Knowing 500 folks had the same idea, some went early and hung out at the coffee shop until it was go time. Later, those who didn't, told tales of a snaking line around the block. Some waited a couple hours. Ouch.

Dinner was brats and beans. Mmm-mmm! I shared my bounty with my fellow restaurant eatin' campers. How could they resist. Post dinner, everyone was tinkering with bikes and gear and fuel. Lucas felt the need to polish his cassette til he could see his reflection. More a release of nervous energy than vanity, I assumed. Soon though, 7 bikes lined up along the short bus, ready for battle. After a few laughs around the camp fire, we turned in early as 5 am would come quickly. A bit of cloud cover helped keep the temps more comfortable. Perfect, actually.

But as I said, the 5am alarm came quick. I felt like I had just layed down. I didn't have to get up right away of course but as one of the beer leaders, we had a plan to get up to the hole shot before the race arrived, so there'd be no sleeping in. In fact, we were on the road before the racers were. But we had to b/c we had to make the foo-foo stop and then go on a beer run for beer ups at the 2nd aid station. Aah, the life of living from one chemical to another. So the ladies kissed their significant, wished them luck and like Thelma and Louise, were off to raise some hell. Truly, I did wish I was lining up with rest of them, but it was not in the cards this year. As we drove down the finishing straight, I watched with a mixed feeling of envy and delight. I wanted so much to be out there but at the same time, I was relieved to know I didn't have to endure 4+ hours of pretty tough racing. It was party time.

Megan drove me and Sarah in her cute but rugged Toyota rice burner while April and Heather and Will Wolfe Jr. followed in their POS SUV. (I'm being facetious here because the gravel, washboard road was not exactly meant for rice burners but Megan was a pro driver!) We drove up to the entrance to the single track and waited for the train. I was super excited. I had my cowbell and JC's flip video camera. Within a few minutes the race promoter came screaming around the corner which signaled the train was a comin'! To our amazement, somebody was soloing off the front. But not far behind was Mark Savery, in about 10 position.

Lucas was about 2 guys back. Next about 40ish place was Jay Chesterman then Gersib. Ryan wasn't far behind and when I saw his Bike Masters jersey I rang that bell and screamed for him until I couldn't see him anymore. (He later said that was one of the points when his heart rate spiked. Aaaah!). Next to follow was Miles, Rafal and JC. We stayed until we saw all of our crew - The Wolfe Bro's,Andy, Todd, Alex and Annie. I think we cheered for her the loudest!

Next stop was aid station 1. Fans lined the trail in front and after the food table. Riders were flying by. Mark was the first of our group and he had made up some spots, going by in 7th position. Lucas had lost a few spots but wasn't back by much. Ryan came next. He did a full-on stop and dismount to mix a bottle. He was off again within 40 some seconds, during which Gersib and Jay went by. We waited for most of our crew, but had a longer drive to the next station and since we had hand ups for most of the riders, we had to get on the road before we could see them all.

Station 2 was much more crowded. It was a more popular stop as it was half way through the race. We hauled our supplies up to trail side. Megan, being the veteran beer leader, said it was best to only hand riders a partially full can. Well, we had 12 full cans of Coors Light (hey, it was all the gas station had that was edible) so all the ladies (accept for Heather since she had child in tow) popped some rocky mountain goodness and got our beer on. We drank half of each can and put the rest on ice for those who cared to take a drink. We didnt have any takers from the front of the train. They were on a mission and it didn't include a beer stop at 9 in the morning

.Mark came through in about the same position as station 1. He was looking good. We got him in and out of the station in no time.Lucas was next, but unfortunately, he came back, on foot. A short distance past us his chain stay busted clear through. He was done for the day. He parked his bike and went and sat in the shade, obviously disappointed. We have him a full bottle of the good stuff.

As the riders went through, more and more took our cold offerings. Even if they didn't most were very grateful for the offer and thanked us for our support. I don't know if it was the beer or the caffeine but we were being very silly, doing all sorts of very uncoordinated and unchoriographed cheer leading moves. The only thing missing were pompoms and a tambourine.

One guy said "Thanks for the smile". I heard "More Cowbell!" many times and if we heard someone say "you're awesome" we shouted it back with 10 times the enthusiasm. Truly, I was living off of their energy and desire to go forth despite whatever devil was telling them otherwise. Having been there many times, I know the feeling of seeing folks cheering as you suffer within. It gives one wings and I was bound and determined to make them fly! I really wanted to them to understand that I believed in them and wanted more than anything for everyone of them to finish. Each familiar face brought the house to it's feet, so they say. We cheered on every rider but when one of our own came through, they had their own personal cheering section. Especially Alex and Annie.Alex was on an epic journey and I so hoped he would finish so that he could go home and tell his story over and over. He was so excited when he came through and that made us cheer more.

When Annie came through, again, we wailed at the top of our lungs. I ran down trail with her and gave her a push. My bucket was full, as they say. Not racing was okay, actually. This was pretty damn fun.

We opted not to go to the other aid stations so we could get down to the finish line in time to see Mark come through. We werent' there long when he came down the finishing straight, alone. 8th place out of 500. Not too shabby, especially considering he came in with a low tire, ala Armstrong stylee. (He missed 2nd place in SS by a mere 30 seconds. A curse he;ll have to live with for 360 more days).

Next in was RF - he made the top 30, taking twenty-eight place overall. His age group was the fastest of the day, and he claimed 15th. Not sure how many were in his age-group). Seemed he passed Jay and Matt along the way, who came in a bit later. I ran up to him in the parking lot and he as all smiles and he felt good. It was finally a good day of racing at a big event. Everything had come together as expected.

A lot of time passed between finishing riders. 50 miles can really string out five hundred people. It was hard to spot them until they were practically at the finish line. Mike was next, followed by Rafal and JC. I ran after JC to get some footage of him for Becky who was back at home.

After that, I was excited to go see Ryan and get the low down, so I left the finish line. Some of our team were still out there, but April, Heather and Sarah were there to cheer them on. Ryan was on fire. It was a great day for him and he explained in detail his strategy for success. Finally, no cramps, flats or mechanicals. It had to be the good luck spewed forth by the cheering squad, I have to believe. I was so happy for him. Now, it was party time.

We went back to the finish line. One by one members of our team showed up and we let out a big cheer. We all eventually gathered under the trees to eat, drink, eat, drink and live off the post race buzz.

Bands played, a keg was popped, a buffet was devoured. When Marks' name was called for placing 2nd in SS, we whooped it up. He shook his beer on stage and sprayed it like true pro. When he came back, his once white Tshirt was spotted with beer. His rendition of the polka-dot jersey, I 'spect. We hung out until the last award was given out. Lucas won some only-lucas-would-wear sunglasses. Sort of a cross between something Elton John would wear and those old people sun glass covers. Very the Lucas. Hopefully that made up for his DNF.

We went back to camp. Talk was of food, naturally. We returned to the home of the waffle fry. As I mentioned before, our over indulgence of said waffle fries a couple nights prior came back to bite us. Not a waffle in the house (Todd got the last two in all of SD).

Said the waitress. Would you settle for steak fries? The room was silent. You could hear crickets. But, being the hungry bikers we were, food was food. They weren't as can't-eat-just-one good, but they weren't bad. The almost funny part was they ran out of those too, but gave us regular fries until they could make more steak fries. We're all like, people, there are 500 waffle-fry eating maniacs in town today. How is this possible??? But we managed not to starve to death and got our fill, even bringing back some doggy bags.

And do I even need to say was ensued the rest of the night. Smack talk-o-rama. Fueled by booze and racing hangovers, it was one crack up after another. Nobody, thankfully, fell into the fire. We did polish off some serious smore's, I'm proud to say. The night was cut somewhat short as lightning was seen on the horizon. Just as we zipped up the tents, the rain fell. As I drifted off into my fuzzy cheap wine sleep, I remember thinking, even though I didn't bring a bike, this was a great weekend of racing.

Most photos courtesy of Heather Wolff. Others I shamelessly stole. This last one I took.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

revenge of the trees

seems like trees have it out for me this year. what did i do to them? too many tree forts in my youth?

me, RF and the Lucas were preriding the five-0 course at a leisurely pace on Sunday. we were around mile 33, finally getting to go fast downhill. my front der had been shifting poorly since the crash in Boone and so i was messing with getting into the big ring as i started descending a muddy forest road. not 30 seconds prior i said out loud, "watch for the ruts" because after doing the 5-0 course the past few years, i recalled a couple of the open sections had really deep ruts. so back to the action, as i look up from my bike, i see RF fish tailing around a greasy section to avoid a rut. i tried the same line but obviously had different results. i went into the rut and then right into the tree, square on my left shoulder. i recall thinking, get your head out of the way! i was stopped instantly and just dropped to the ground. i barely saw Ryan disappear around the turn so i yelled out for him. i sat on the side of the road assessing the damage as i waited for the adrenaline rush to pass. i tried lifting my arm. that didn't happen. something was wrong on the back side. i could feel something moving around oddly. i stood  up and yelled again. soon the guys were riding back up to me. i started to feel nauseous. RF said i was pale. so we sat down until it passed and then we discussed our options. 

i couldn't ride. i couldn't raise my arm at all. we had been following the course that we had recorded from last years race. luckily my 705 (which i won at this race 2 years ago) allowed us to zoom in and see service roads. we heard a car go by so we sent Lucas off to chase. no luck. he came back. we decided to start walking in the direction of our car. i said, "hopefully someone w/ a big truck will come by". 5 minutes later, our angels arrived; two locals out on a pleasure cruise in their big Ford pick up. they kindly drove us to our car at the point where the race goes into the trees. the drive itself took 15-20 minutes and woulda been a long ride back on the road and even longer walk.  not to mention crash time was around 5pm, so we were running out of daylight.

so luck was on our side at that point. we drove to the local campsite to clean off all of the mud and cow sh*t, got some quick food and made our way to the er in rapid, which was 45 min.  away. by the time we dropped off Luca's and figured out where the hospital was (Ryan's phone led us astray) it was around 9pm. of course it was busy as hell w/ screaming babies and whacked out old ladies. by about 10 pm i was taken into an examining room. they had to cut off my jersey to do Xrays b/c i couldn't move my arm. results showed a broken glenoid cavity (I've never heard of it either). non-operable. they put me in a immobilizer to keep my arm from moving and said to see an ortho in Omaha. I'll find out my future on wed. but my bike future is on hold for sure which is a tough nut to swallow. it was this exact weekend last year that i tore my knee open at the Laramie enduro, rendering me off the bike for the greater part of august. what the hell? at least then I had my wedding to keep me busy. for the next 8 weeks I'll be making up stuff to do. ho hum, but that's the risk we take doing this sport.

so hopefully I'll feel up to hanging out at the races this weekend. if you see me, no pats on the back, please!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2nd at Seven Oaks

It was so nice to get back on dirt. It was even better that I got to race on it today. RF and I packed up Pearl and headed east to one of the Iowa series races at Seven Oaks. We raced there a few years ago at one of our first team 24 hour events and it was nice to be back. The venue was well-improved upon with an awesome little ski-lodge (it has a tiny ski hill but it has a lift!) with outdoor seating and showers in the bathrooms. It's about 2.5 hours from Omaha, tucked in some hills in between fields of corn and totally worth the trip. Unfortunately they've seen as much rain as we have, so most of their 8 mile loop was off limits due to flooding of its lowest area, so we were only able to race on its highest loop, thus cutting the course to just under 3 miles. Yep, many laps were ahead.

I was happy to see Julie Vardeman (soon to be Julie Kirkpatrick). Another woman was in our class Robyn Williams (no, not the comedian) and she put the screws to me off the start line. Cat. 1s had to do six laps, including us. We started with the guys and quickly we were at the back. Robyn got by a couple guys on the opening stretch and then one more as we entered the single track, which was a series of 3-4 tight switchback climbs. I was in the red immediately, but the recon lap I did earlier kept me calm, as I knew the climbing would mellow. I did manage to sneak past two guys upon entering the single track, so I was just one rider back from Robyn. She was really fast. I kept her in sight but was pegged the entire first lap.

I lost sight of her on lap 2 when I decided to back off a bit. Lap 2 was not my lap. Trying to get around a walking racer (which was really hard b/c the trail was 18" wide at most with steep terrain, like L&C). She did her best to pull off the trail but I managed to clip a tree and down I went. Not again! I think I tweeked my der cuz the shifting was off after I got back on the bike. Plus, since I was in chase mode, I started to panic and was bouncing all over the place. Then my saddle bag came loose on one side so I stopped to fix that and got passed by two dudes. Then as I started riding again, a large stick got caught up in the rear wheel. I started to laugh. Really? What next, will I get hit by a deer? So I was rattled and riding like shit as I tried to play catch up. Once out of the trees and down to the s/f I told myself to take a breath and refocus. Robyn was nowhere in sight.

Lap 3 was better. My heart rate was "in the zone" and I finally was figuring out the lines of a couple nar-nar root sections that I had spun out on on the two previous laps. Then my stupid saddle bag came loose again, at the same section, but this time both velcro straps came loose and the thing was only attached by the seat post, and it was hitting my leg. I decided to leave it there until I got back to the s/f where I ripped it off and threw it on the ground. If I flat, I thought, F it! I loaded up with a new bottle and was off. I felt lighter without the damn thing too!

The next three laps were pretty straight-forward. I had the flow going and my legs felt good. My back was pretty rocked. I so have a roady back. Seriously, I need to train more on the mtbike. Power racing is a lumbar spine's worst nightmare and I need to do more of that type of riding.

Towards the end of the last lap I was surprised to see Robyn. She was only ahead by about 30 seconds from what I could tell, so I stepped on the gas, but it wasn't enough and that's how it ended too. So, I felt pretty good that I gained some of the time back that I lost on the crash and the technical difficulties. Later after the race she said I was starting to freak her out b/c she could see me. Another lap and I think I could've caught her.

Afterwards the race hosts had some chow and water for us. The ski lodge had the A/C blasting so it was nice to chill out in a comfy area to eat and do the awards.

That same venue is hosting a 24 hour race over Labor Day weekend, so if you're not doing the 5-0 (whatever!) then I'd recommend this event! They run the ski lift so folks can watch the race at night and when we did it, they have a live band playing until midnight. Plus just having an indoor area is a huge bonus!

Oh and I can't go without saying that RF was 10 seconds out of the $, coming in at 4th place. Not bad considering he had to race Cam (2nd), Jay Chesterman and Josh Stamper among others! He had a pretty good day. We both did. We got out dirt jones satisfied!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cracking at the Fifty

Nope, this is not going to be a whiny post. I will not complain about finishing 30 minutes slower than last year, nor about how the altitude messed with my gastro functions. I refuse to bitch about the cut log that I clipped. That's racing, folks. Bitching won't garner a gentleman's agreement to slow down the field and wait for my ass, so what's the point? It was what it was. And now the national championships are moving to Bend Oregon next year. I was so close. Two podium steps away (and several minutes) last year. Hmmm, how far is it to Bend?

So the trip went like this. Me, ORF (the Original RF), Larry "Hot Pepper Harlan" and Military Martin headed West last Thursday, after work. We made it to N. Platte where ORF had cashed in some sweet Hilton points and scored us a quality pad. Martin sprung for a 2nd room so each could have a bed to themselves. Well, most of us did. :) By Friday at 2pm, we were on trail. No shit. We hauled ass to Breck, loaded down with one bike on back and three on top, a roof-top carrier, and three RC cars. God forbid we forget those. Once we got to the condo we unpacked the car, kitted up and were back on the road within a half hour after arriving on our way to the trail head.We drove to Frisco (Larry's favorite spot in the whole world) and then rode the paved bike path back towards Breck and picked up the Peak's Trail from a parking lot along the highway. That was the lung alarm ride. Hello altitude! We took our time climbing the rocky trail, sometimes stopping to get our breath back, sometimes to walk. But once we made it to the top, it was literally all downhill from there back to the car. A woo-hoo factor of a 10! About 1.5 hours on different types of trail. Good enough for us to test our equipment for race day. I was ready. The rest of the evening we spent grocery shopping, liquor shopping and unpacking. One fun note...Martin spotted this guy's van in the grocery parking lot so we chatted with him. Crazy cooter but nice as hell. Had lots of t&a shots all over the inside of his sprinter van. The life of a bachelor. The night was spent grilling salmon outside and serving it up with a side of couscous. Delish! Then we watched Alien vs Preditor on FX.

Saturday was chill. Woke up early and made some bitchin omelets, complete with grilled veggies and feta cheese. That pretty much fueled us for the day's effort. While Martin took off on his own adventure, the racers put in time on the paved path and then did some Zone 5 intervals on a side rode. Yeah, geeks for sure but we had to let our hearts and lungs know it was almost go time. The rest of the day we did a little walking around town and then by late afternoon it was feet up, watching the TDF. Dinner was grilled chicken and pesto over pasta, again that we made at the condo. By then, Evan arrived, and in no short order he was outside playing with RC cars along with ORF and Larry. Boys will be boys.

After dinner was race prep nervousness. Wandering around, getting gear ready. Questioning every decision we made up until that minute. What tire pressure should I run? What time do I get up? What time do I eat and  on and on. Didnt' help the sleep factor. I don't think I slept the hole night. My mind wouldn't shut the hell up!

Race morning I was up by 6:30. Before actually getting out of bed, about a half hour earlier I heard Larry on the deck. He kept going in and out, the clammer of the blinds rubbing the glass door was worse than a snooze alarm. So I finally got up. On my way to the bathroom, I see Larry standing on the deck, looking out, enjoying the solitude of the morning. But then as I'm peeing, I hear a knock on the sliding glass door. Uh-oh, I thought. When I went out into the living room, Larry was standing at the door, with a goofy grin on his face. Yes, he had locked himself out! He shut the door, not thinking it would auto latch. He had been standing out there in low 40 degree temps with no socks for about 25-30 minutes. It was not the way he wanted to start a race day. After rescuing Larry, I made my way to the kitchen. I wasn't even hungry but knew I had to eat, so I made up a bowl of oatmeal with bananas, blue berries and nuts piled on. Then I forced down a tiny piece of left over chicken breast. By 7 I as done eating and started the final prep. At 8am Ryan and I took our aid station bags up to the start finish area. They had a drop off point where racers could drop their own nutrition instead of using what the volunteers hand up. By 8:30 I was kitted up and heading out to Main street. The race started at 10 am and my plan was to be warming up by 9.

I got to Main Street with Larry. We cruised the strip, which was void of cars and lined with thousands of people getting ready for the annual 4th of July parade. But soon we separated and I went away from the crowds to warm up and mentally prepare. I knew the field would be stacked but I felt pretty comfy. After doing the race so many years in a row and going over the tougher parts with the others and breaking them down into achievable sections, the course didn't seem so daunting. Instead it has become more of a series of small races: how fast can I get up the first aid station? Will I get up the shale climb without dabbing? How long will it take to ride Sally Barber road back up? Breaking it down like that helped ease my mind and concentrate on the task at hand and not think about being on bike for hours and hours.

As I've probably mentioned, oh a few hundred times, the start of the FC50 is unmatched. The thousands of people lining the streets, the kids waving, hoping for a high-five, red-white-and-blue decorations all over, noise and shrills...the energy is just what 750 racers need at that point.

I finished my warm up and made my way to the starting area. Hundreds of racers were already there so I had to dismount and walk my bike through the crowd of racers to my group of 40+ women. We also were grouped with two other age groups as well as single speed women. After a few groups went off, we were up next. At the whistle, the neutral start began. We rolled up main street with cheers in our ears. It's always my favorite part of the race (second to finishing!)

The start up the climb wasn't so bad this year. Usually I'm looking for a bailout so I can stop and rest. This time, I found my magic HR, put my head down and motored along. It's about a 35 minute climb to the single track on open highway, paved and gravel roads, in that order. Just before the single track is the first aid station. I always blow by that one and this time was no different. I'm too jazzed to get into the single track. I passed a couple people upon entry as there are many roots and people were all over the place trying to navigate them. Once on dirt, it leveled out a bit. Enough to catch your breath and fuel up. The first climb, the Iowa Mill, comes after a fun tail whipping section of new single track. You're all high on life and then it's time to go up. It's a nar-nar climb with ruts on one side and "the line" on the other. Traffic was heavy but I managed to keep it steady. Once at the Mill, racers are cheered on by a few fans who make their way up that high. In years past, this section is usually a mud pit from spring run off but there were only a couple spots this year. That was nice! Eventually the trail turned downward. Dodging greasy rocks and run off was the challenge as well as keeping my teeth intact. Once out the trees it was a hard right down Sally Barber road and two-way traffic for about 1.5 miles. So although it's a blast to haul ass down, there are turns and you have to watch out for riders coming up or else.

Once one commits to going down SB road, that's also a commitment to going back up and it ain't no picnic. The climb up Little French (I'd hate to see Big French) is a test of one's will and skill. It's only a mile but holy crap, it's the longest mile ever. Shale rock covers the steepest part. Throw in a couple of stream crossings (one of which is at the bottom of a short, steep descent with a kicker on the other side) and it's a formula for failure. I thought for sure I would finally climb the whole thing without dabbing. That got shot to hell early on when a rock sent me parallel to the trail. I jumped off and ran to the next flat spot and hopped on. A few pedal strokes later, same thing, only this time a train of folks was on my wheel, so I stood there and watched 4-5 riders go by. One guy said it was his dream to climb the whole thing. One woman had to unclip and she was like "Aaaaaawh, S##T". So, the climb claimed the dreams of many a rider, including yours truly.

But the hardest part was behind me on that lap and from then on out it was single track, double track and a crazy rocky downhill that has consequences if you get off trail. I poked my way down it and hit aid station 3 to load up. I was feeling pretty good, although not steller. I eventually got to the base of SB road and climbed up. I was able to keep it in the middle ring and even pulled a few dude along the way. On the way down, I made some visual mental notes so that i knew on the way up when I was close to the top. There are many turns in the road and it can be a downer when you think it's last turn and it's not. At that final check point, Martin was there with camera in hand and greeted me with lots of woo-hoos. Something about hearing your name in the midst of your own nightmare wakes you're ass up. Plus, the knowledge that all the climbing was done, save for one little power climb.

Now it was downhill, 30 mph on gravel then to twisty single track. That's where I open up the after burners. It's the part of the race that's most like home: twisty and tight. I passed some folks which boosts the moral a bit. But as I approached the finish line to begin my 2nd lap, I knew in the back of my mind, I'd face the decision to quit before I had to.

I had enough fuel to get me to the top. My stomach was queasy and I had a cramp under my right rib. I told myself I'd analyze my situation at the 1st aid station. Once there, I ate a banana and had some pure water. My heart rate spiked on the way up with minimal effort which was not a good sign. I decided I'd push on and access at the point of no return at the two-way traffic road. I made it up the Iowa Mill climb and was able to take in water (unlike 3 years ago when my digestive function completely stopped) so I thought maybe I;d be ok. Just before I exited the trees at the start of the SB decent, Martin was there taking pics and yelling happy thoughts. I thought to myself, I could just stop here and hang out with him but my bike had a mind of its own and somehow turned down the two-way. Well, I was committed. I slowly made my way to the shale climb (one fun point to note: some crazy local, dressed in a tux kit was playing a banjo just before the start of the nasty part of the shale climb. He did manage to get a smile out of my frown both laps). I knew I probably couldn't clear it, so I went as far as I could. I caught up with Even who was looking worse than I felt. We both tried hard to pedal up the climb but the steeper it got the higher my HR so I committed to walking. Such a downer. GRRRR! But the good thing was i could still take in water and I eventually hauled my broken ass up and over the shale climb for the last time.

The hardest part is behind me, I thought. I'm halfway home.

On the other side of the shale climb is the shale field where all the fucking shale comes from. There is an 18" sliver of trail that cuts parallel into the mountain. It's totally rideable but the consequences can be painful due to the steepness of the terrain. I learned first hand just how steep when my handlebar caught a cut log that was close to the trail. I did two full turns before I arrested  and lucky for me a very nice racer behind me stopped and helped get me back on trail. He said I scared him to death, as we all know, those kinds of falls can look pretty violent. Nothing was hurt and bike was fine so I jumped back on the saddle and motored on.

At the third and last aid station, I was worse for the wear. I took a break in the porta potty and contemplated my immediate future. I could head back via a dirt road but I really wasn't that far from the end. The daunting Sally Barber climb was all that was stopping me from continuing on. That's it. 2 miles of gravel...well at 10,000 feet. But I couldn't quit. I didn't want to be the one, post race, listening to the others who finished and feel ashamed for quitting. I had to finish. I wasn't in immediate danger so I decided I'd go all the way. Luckily clouds were overhead so the open road up wasn't so terrible. I wasn't going as hard as I wanted but finally the top came into view and I was 2 miles from the finish. I turned on what power I had left and used it to get down. A few folks were on my wheel but I wasn't going to let anyone by unless they asked. Nobody did.

5:48 was my finish time. A half our slower than last year. Such a bummer but altitude can have that affect sometimes. This was one of those times. On a good note, Ryan didn't flat nor cramp and Larry had a personal best. We all finished and that in itself is an achievement.

To celebrate we went back to the start/finish and ate the free food. Most of the folks were gone, save for the clean up crew and the band. Then we went back to the condo to rest. Later, we strolled to the river walk to watch the fireworks and then we hit the brewery for our second meal of burgers, fries and beers. It was the best tasting meal ever! We all went to bed with exhausted smiles on our faces dreaming already of next year.

The next day we put in 30 miles on the Colorado Trail and Flume Trails around Breck. It was a great way to finish off the trip. It helped in the physical and mental recovery from the race. Just being in the mountains among friends was awesome and that's what I'll take away from this trip.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The focus narrows

The Firecracker 50 is days away.

Bike. Check.
Fuel. Check.
Mojo. Check.

It's on. Hoping to break 5:15.

To Give is to Receive

Santa's got a great gig. He gets to give. And what does he get in return?


And so that pretty much sums up the weekend. I had the pleasure of being one on the receiving end of many generous people. I'm referring first to the THOR fund raiser, Hails to the Trails. In a short order our club was able to gather prizes for a raffle drawing and auction and turn it all into a $3500 lottery ticket. Many of the local bike shops in Omaha, Lincoln and Council Bluffs all willingly gave some items in the name of THOR. There were some artists who gave us art and photos. Some businesses chipped in and were even grateful that we came to them (some new partnerships will be in place for next year). Someone once said, you can't get what you don't ask for. Well, glad we asked!

Then on Saturday, THOR celebrated the opening of Adam's Park trail, a gateway park project we took on in partnership with Activate Omaha, Omaha Parks and Rec and others. Planning started last year and THOR got involved, physically moving dirt, in April. Within three months, and as many trail days, we managed to open up the beginner loop, which covers 4/10 of a mile through grassy slopes and some wooded sections. Through AO's connections and the local Y, we had about a dozen kids from the area ride the trail. Not once in the searing heat, not twice, but some even rode it 6 times! Smiles were a plenty as well as bragging rights. Kent brought bikes, AO brought helmets and THOR brought the food and drink. The Y also brought out some extra games to play between laps. Sun Dogs volunteers were on hand to help with the food distribution, etc. It was a great collaboration and to top it off, THOR presented a over-sized check in the amount of $7500, which represented the amount of money the city saved by partnering with volunteers. We gave it to a representative from Omaha Parks and Rec who was a valuable asset in the project. She came out WITH HER BIKE to ride the trail and even brought a couple kids from a nearby park that was celebrating an opening as well. It was a fun event to be a part of and a great project for the community!

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Cooke.

Whew! What a weekend. Everyone who helped on these projects should be proud. We done good. Thanks to everyone. You all earned Heaven points!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ponca's Revenge Recap

I just gotta say it: It's great when a plan comes together. Even Mother Nature played nice. And the trails. Trailgazmic. OMG, good times. Yes, we had to pay for the descents but it was so worth it. The flow was mojo gojo.

I got up to the park Friday afternoon. RF had already been there helping set up the course. I found him napping on a picnic table at the group campsite down by the start finish. We set up camp, ate some power food and relaxed by the fire. Larry brought the fam. Rafal brought the fiance. Jesse and Katie Berman pulled up just as I did and within 10 minutes were kitted up to do a prelap. Now those are my kind of peeps! Troy stopped by on his new Beemer moto. He was taking a brake from a bike show in Sioux City. A great night for it.

Our camp was horizontal by 10:30, lulled to sleep by the silence. All of the years I've camped there and it's never been so quiet. Not even a cricket or a rustling of leaves. And since there was no wind, the fireflies just drifted about the field like tiny Tinker Bells.

Morning came early. Up at 6:30, stuffed face with organic oat meal, bananas and nuts. I filled up my bottles, got my gear in order (because I knew it was about to get crazy) and headed over to the registration area. Glen and co. were on hand. I put out the signs and then while RF finished marking the course, I helped set up registration. It went well. Then just as I was going to head back to camp to get ready, a million things needed to happen. I got back to camp at 9:40, race was at 10. I had had no water since 7 and no other nutrition. Yeah, and gonna ride for 3 hours! Ryan fueled with just a banana. Just great. I pulled up to the line at 9:58. At a few minutes after 10, we were off. The marathon class, some 20 riders strong, tore through the opening straight to the single track. Yes, it was a marathon but we still pinned it. I followed the train up through the first climb. I got behind Randy Crist who caught a tree and went down. I soon caught up with the front group after suffering up the climbs after the top road crossing. Rafal was cussing like a Polish sailor at his Bonty small block tires. Riding the lil wheels was giving him issues but he recovered and disappeared from me quickly. (yay suspension).

Speaking of, my bike was dialed and I have to give hats off to The Lucas, for fixing that which was broke and Ryan for putting on the final touches. What a hubby! My new WTB Deva saddle was perfect. They got that shit down. New GX-1 Ergon grips felt wonderful from the first minute to the 180th. And my Stans race wheels made the climbs more pleasurable, if that's possible.

Most of my race was smooth, although Fun with a capital Fun. There wasn't a clod of mud on my tires. The dirt was a dream. Like it had just been freshly watered for us. And the flow took me from lung busting to heart pounding. Ridiculous!

Around noon I came into the feed zone. The timing was perfect because just then Limpach and the rest of the Cat 1s came flying by. Shawn Hansen and I had been trading places for a couple laps and he didn't stop when I did so I knew he'd get held up once they caught him. Sure enough, I was right back on his wheel but not before Savory came by (seems he had a blow out at the start but hauled ass to catch back up). Oh yeah, he was riding SS.

Anyway, so when I caught up to Shawn I said we had to hold off the SS and Cat. 2. It didn't take too long before their top guys were asking to go by. Shawn and I motored on. He was setting a good pace but in the middle of the ridge climb after the grassy hill by the pool, I felt I could give it some gas and get by Shawn. It worked and I was off. I'm not sure what lap that was but on my 7th lap, I came in at 2:55. Only Rafal and Ryan were ahead of me, Rafal by a minute. So I decided then that I'd see if I could catch The Baconator. I stood up on every climb and railed every descent. He came into view before the rooty exit to the grass. Then I followed him up the pool hill where he stopped before the first switchback. I motored on and lead him up into the trees. From there I kept up the pressure and finished in 2nd overall. It was a great race and one that I needed to do as my final big effort in preparation for the FC 50 in Breck.

Post race was a blast. After tearing everything down and settling in at camp, RFand RAF went for a grocery run and came back with chips and hard liquor. It was going to be a good night. Good thing Rafal bought more brats because Larry forgot to pack the cheese burgers. DOH! But he made up for it because he brought the s'mores fixins. Several margies later, we were out. I never sleep well post race, so I was restless. We got some rain but nothing like what came later when we got home. I drove home in a hung-over, sleepless fog. Maybe that's why I didn't notice Ryan's wheel deciding to jump ship from the wheel rack on the roof. Don't load  your shit drunk. A bummer of an ending to a great weekend.

It was crazy, hectic but fulfilling in so many ways. Just doesn't get any better.