Friday, October 28, 2011

Epic was an understatement

Bad Dirt Girl! Seems once I took a break from the bike, the blog kinda followed suit. And when I say take a break, I mean from training. This is the best time of year for RF and I. Like you all, we bust our asses training and racing for months, and suddenly we arrive at fall's doorstep battered and whipped, with scars and scrapes as tokens of good times. Now is the time when we enjoy riding for what it is: being out doors with our best peeps, ripping through the trees without so much as a thought about nutrition, power output or heart rate. Instead thoughts are to making sure our lights are charged, where to go for Mexican food and how much heaven-sent single track can we put under our tires before the flakes start to fall. We did plenty of the above and I plan on writing about them, or at least list them for posterity. I'll start with the latest adventure to the Berryman Trail Epic since it's the most recent and still swirling around in my brain.

The Berryman Trail Epic or BTE is a fine good time. It had been on our bucket list for a couple years. Most of you probably know the Berryman Trail in and of itself is an IMBA epic trail, meaning it succeeds to encompass all of the many attributes IMBA qualifies as epic, over and above the requirements of a well built trail. To be epic it must provide an experience that is challenging but doable, makes riders feel like they are "out there", and have a community that supports them and the trail. The Berryman Trail had all of those things and more.

The race itself is a youngster, with 2011being it's only 4th running. But the promoters have a lot of support. The race stages at the Bass River Resort, a family owned resort for everything outdoors. And I don't mean the lay by the poolside with your foo-foo drink kinda resort. Nah, this place is all about the Great Outdoors with some seriously posh digs all the way down to tent camp sites. It's nestled in a wide open valley, surrounded by hills and hills of Mark Twain National Forest. The resort has horses on the property, right in view of our cabin,actually. Does tranquil come to mind? It should. The resort had a general store with your basic needs, but they also sold cooked food, clothing, bait, etc. Then behind that was a banquet hall with kitchen and below all of that were bathrooms with shower stalls, so if you didn't have an RV, they provided that amenity. Add on a deck, patio, swimming pool, bon fires, horses...the list goes on. I'd imagine in the summer they are hoppin busy. Being that Steelville is the "float capital of Missouri" they have an army of buses for taking folks onto the many rivers that branch off of the Mississippi, but this was their off season, so mostly us lycra-wearing swash bucklers were the ones roaming around.

We arrived at the resort around 2:30 pm or so. We checked into our "lodge" and were totally blown away. We opened the door to a grand room, with wall to wall wood, wood floors and beamed ceilings. The table was a large buffet table with hand-carved chairs. There were 4 large bedrooms; two had two queens and two had one queen and a fold-out love seat. The place could sleep like 15 or something crazy. It had all the modern conveniences, including two bathrooms and a gas stove. The deck the was the crem de la crem. Hand carved beams surrounded a wood floor that was probably 20 feet off the ground. It over looked the meadow where the horses lounged and each house had its own grill and fire pit. After a day, I wanted to live there. Oh and I forgot one thing: these digs were within eyesight of the start/finish! We could actually watch the riders come in later in the day. We could't have asked for more!

Once we checked out the place, we kitted up and drove to get registered. Come to find out Jay Chesterman and Bill Ficus were down there as well as Sydney Brown and her friend from Texas, who was louder than Ryan on the trail. :) We got our socks/registration packet and were off to do some recon. With some great advice from Sydney, we drove up the gravel road instead of wasting daylight riding it up to the hole-shot. We wanted to get to the good stuff stat. We parked in a round-about but even before we could pedal, Miles busted a bolt tightening his shifters or break levers. I suggested he go ask the promoter (who I believe owns Springfield Bikes) who was managing registration to help him out. So Ryan and Miles jumped in the Sprinter. The Todds, Larry and I jumped on trail. Immediately we were swallowed by dense forest. The trail was covered in leaves, which also covered the roots and rocks. It was all good. We just had to pay attention. It was a good time. Not a lot of effort was needed so we could ride a bit over our limit on the climb come race morning, knowing there'd be certain relief once on the single track. We rode until it connected up with the Berryman Trail before heading back. It was getting dark and we felt we had a good sense of what to expect.

On our way back, we met up with RF and Miles. The promoter actually had a steel version of the bolt Mike needed! He was so happy. But we were all hungry so we all went back to the lodge, got cleaned up and hit a Mexican joint about 10 miles away. Jay and Bill tagged along, which for some good story tellin. The rest of the night, once back at the ranch, was spent fiddlin with gear, and filling up water bottles. I decided to run two bottle cages instead of wearing a camel back. There was a bag drop that we'd stop at twice, so I figured I wouldn't need it. I layed out the grub I'd need at the start and put the rest in the bag. Funny. I didn't have the nervousness I usually did at the other races like the Fire Cracker or the Five-0. I was on vacation! And if any of you have traveled with me you know that when I'm on vacation, I ride like I'm on vacation. I don't think I had even put on my HRM since Labor Day so you could say I wasn't exactly fit. But I didn't really care all that much. Yeah, sure, I'm not gonna lie and say having other tough chicks there didn't make me wish I hadn't couched my training for two months, but this crew were all there to go on a big, fast ride with friends and that's about it. Whatever happened, so be it.

So what did happen? The race started at 8am, so not too early. But, the sun had yet to show itself over the distance eastern hills so yes, it was pretty chilly. We all went back and forth about what to wear. Jay said to dress for the end as it will get warm enough and the 5 mile climb to the single track would be our heaters. Since I wished I had had more layers in the Five-0 and the temps were about the same, I went with arm and knee warmers and a summer layer. I wore wool socks and so glad I did. They got wet! The start was as casual as the Five-0 with folks lining up where they thought they should be. I saw lots of folks with camelbacks so I began to wonder. I lined up in the top quarter. I could see ladies in my age group here and there so I knew it would be challenging. Well that and I've had more nachos and beer in the last month than I've had all year. And I'm GLAD! Gun went off and away we went. It was pretty tight but not life threatening. Pace off the front was intense being that Tilford was leading the charge (which he never relinquished). I was nowhere near them. I could just see them from afar for about the first thirty seconds. Nah, I just did my thing. I did manage to find a clear lane on the outside and made up a lot of places riding through the leaves instead of on the gravel. By the time I hit the trees, I had no idea where anyone was and well, I didn't really care. Fast paced ride with friends.

Luckily I got behind a well-paced few who could flow. I just hung on and enjoyed the ride. I felt great. Bike was a little on the stiff side but not terrible. Not long after hitting dirt, I came upon Sydney. She was trailside, but seemed fine so I didn't slow down. At about mile 11 or so, the first check point came in site but it was on the other side of a steep set of switchbacks and a very cold, deep creek. The fans were cheering for folks to ride through it. There was no current and I could see the bottom so I stayed on the bike and rode to the other side. My pedals went into the water as I'm sure my hubs and bb. Greeeeaaaat. Once on the other side we had to grab a zip tie from anyone holding one and tie it onto the handle bars. This was a time suck and before I knew it Sydney was with me and then ahead of me, where she'd remain for the rest of the race.

Nothing was so hard to ride that it drained me, yet the changes in elevation kept me pedaling all of the time. I got to check point 2 after changing places with a dude who recognized me from the KC races. I spent a good few minutes here. I had to pee and then I couldn't fricken get my stash bag untied. I had to take off one glove just to get my fingers in the knot. Then when I bolted out of the check point area, I started going down the wrong single track. Thankfully, they had "wrong way" signs up. Sheesh!

They offered these potato bags to racers for the  aid station.
We used our own bags so we could find them.

The 3rd checkpoint was interesting. It was a stump that had the zip ties just laying on it for folks to grab. I got stuck in a traffic jam here and had to yell to get someone to move so I could get going. I jumped on the wheel of some southerner and we hammered up and down and around the forest like a couple of kids. We came out of the trees on this double track but it wasn't marked well. Just then a guy was coming at us from up the double track. We're all freaking out because we don't know which way to go. Suddenly I spot a pink ribbon across the double track, down trail. We booked it and soon we were catching up to other riders. Not a whole lot of action really. Just some damn fine flow. You know when you're dreaming and you think of all kinds of nonsence that you don't recall the next day? That's what my brain was doing, so yeah, I got nothin to report other than we rode our asses off. On this leg, I caught up to Wixen. Then Larry caught me, which surprised me cuz I was sure he had been ahead the whole time. Turned out he went the wrong way (he was one of many) and added some 15 minutes to his time because of it. But once past me, he was off like a rocket, trying to make up time. I was with him until we hit a gravel road (the dude trains on gravel like every day) and then a paved road. I was grateful for the road. It gave me a chance to stretch my back and give my arms a rest. The road led us to the bag drop aid station again. Larry was there and then he wasn't, still trying to make up time. I swapped out both bottles, downed some food and followed suit. Unfortunately, he got a flat. :( I was feeling awesome coming out of that check point, which was somewhere around the 3:30 mark or so but by 4-4.5 hours, I started to feel a bit tired. I made sure to keep the calories going but I wasn't fast enough. The E light was coming on. I got to the bottom of a springbed and came to a point where I wasnt sure where to go. A guy who had done it before said to follow him. Soon we were at the base of a steep service road. Once up that, he said, take a right on the gravel and it will take us back down to the start. Hallelujah! I suddenly felt way better. He had to get off his bike and walk up the hill. Not me (I won't say it). I grannied that bitch and just before the top I saw Eyberg spinning away. I asked how he was feeling and cramps was the answer. It was 5:09. I said, "Todd, we gotta get in under 5:30" Let's go. So we ground out the last five miles, making it under the wire at 5:24. I was glad to finish with a friend. Todd can turn a big gear so it was great to sit on his wheel. I think I helped him push the pace cuz that's what friends are for!

We waited around at the S/F. Sydney was hanging out, a little woozy from her champion efforts. Her CX training really came in handy that day, helping her take the top spot on the podium. I manged to eek out a 4th place finish, somewhere in the top 50 overall. I was pleased. One by one our friends came in: Todd, Larry. Jay was already in, having secured 17th place overall. Ryan was his jovial self with a 24th overall placing. For a "chill" ride, we had all done pretty well.

RF and Wixen in line at Beer Wagon
Post race eats and drinks were on hand. A band was churning out some rockabilly. I chose to hit the showers ahead of the boys and then I went back to eat. Around 6pm the awards and raffle started followed by more tunes, drinking and bonfire. We had all had a fair amount of beverage by then and someone said pizza. Tdub mentioned that he had home-made salsa and chipotle-seasoned chicken in the fridge at the lodge. We bought some fire wood for the pit and wobbled back to our homestead to have our own post race party. Now the details on this are foggy but suddenly someone felt the need for cheese to put on our chicken nachos so Larry, Todd E and Ryan took off for the general store to fetch some cheese. They took forever, so we heated up the food and started eating when they burst through the door, with said cheese (shredded mozzarella?) and two pizzas. Seemed they spied somebody else's pizza at the store and tried to bribe the woman behind the counter into give them the pizza. It didn't work so they ordered their own. Once full and happy, we capped off the night with stories around the fire pit. It wasn't as cold that night so sitting around the fire was just perfect. War stories, and lip service galore. Having traveled with these guys so much, I've become one of them, so to speak, so I dish it out and get it back. All in good fun.

So the takeaway, this place is freakin awesome! Do whatever it takes, but get your butt down there for the BTEpic. Bring your family, too. It's not as big or polished as many enduros but they're young still. Mark my words, this has lasting potential and will become a must-do event. Looks like I'll be training well into October next year.

Friday, September 9, 2011

High Five for the 2011 Dakota Five-0

Before I go on and babble about my race, I just have to give mad, mad props to all the Nebraska newbies that gave the Five-0 a try this year. All but three made it in and not only did they finish, but they finished with shit eatin' grins (which, due to the many free-range cows in the area, that could literally be true). Seriously, fifty miles is a long ass distance to ride off-road no matter where and to see these flat landers killin it just made me giddy. Freakin giddy, I say. It's these people that are the inspiration, not the podium yahoos (yours truly included), who keep this sport and this event alive and kickin'. So, to my awesome camp-mates Carley Thomsen, April Eyeberg, Cole and Rob Skiba, Martin Bixby, Mike Ferrell, all of whom weren't afraid to take on Five-0, you guys rock. And I can't not mention Brandon Mullins, Jon Downy, Glen and Buddy Houts, Todd Wixon, Elisabeth Grindcore...all these folks did amazingly well. Goes to show the quality of the trails and the support of the event's volunteers. The Dakota 5-0 should be on everyone's must do list. I can't say it enough.

This year's trip was especially fun. With newbies on board and the white whale packed to the gills, I knew some shit was gonna go down. We had Todd and April Eyberg, Carly Thomsen and Martin Bixby on board. Anytime you get Eyberg and Ryan together, there's gonna be some smack talk and they didn't disappoint. Carley Thomsen, aka Baby Gap aka Silent Bob, got her new nick-names due to her size and her loud mouth. Just kidding on that last thing. I think she said a total of 100 words, which is about 5 less than me so it worked out. Martin Bixby, aka Camp Chief, helped to make sure the van got packed up and didn't explode in the outskirts of BFE. 4 bikes on back, two up top with a THULE box and gear up the wazoo was quite the load, but the White Whale prevailed and we made it up to Spearfish Camp Ground (right next to the start finsh, btw) by later afternoon on Thursday. We broke camp and headed for chow at 7 Grill. As per usual, the help is always a question mark but it's tradition and you can get waffle fries as big as your palm at this place. Totally worth the attitude. Post chow, we headed off to the grocery store for camp grub.

Friday we were up and at'm. It was nice to be with a group that didn't want to sleep in. They wanted to get their dirt on. RF and I were like alrighty then. Let's roll. So we put everyone in the van and Mike's NEW Subi and we drove to the Tinton trail head. Screw that gravel road, we wanted to get to the fun stuff. Casually we rode up Tinton trail until it forked and started to go down where we back tracked and went backwards on the course until it again started to go down. We wanted to minimize the workout to mainly descending and that's what we did. The last 6 or so miles of the Tinton Trail back to the gravel road is the sweetest bit of heaven on earth. Mmmm-mmmmm! So fun. Except when Bessy sits her happy ass right on the trail so one has to come to a screeching halt. Other than that, bombs away. After that we grabbed some lunch and rolled out to the local bike shops to check out the goods. Rafal, MK and JC arrived and pretty much were on bike within the hour. Even Megan got on some lycra. She was lookin good!

Some of us later went on a recon drive of Spearfish Canyon. All I can say is give me a motorcycle! Swervy and curvy goodness was surrounded by canyon walls. We stopped a couple times to see the sites and play around. We came up on Spearfish Lodge. Totally rad and if I were on a motorbike tour or even a roadbike tour of the area, this looked like a must stay. 

After a couple hours we headed back and got our grill on: salmon for everyone! Camp Chief Bixby took the honors of grill master and he did a fine job with the fish. I boiled up some prefab pasta/shrimp and the only thing missing was a waiter. We were eating in fine style, albeit on paper plates, but that made it all the better. The night was capped off with campfire lip service. Nobody was spared, except for maybe Silent Bob.

Saturday was another early morning. Bixby and I took over the mess hall and worked up some mad omelets, complete with sausage, shrooms, spinach and feta cheese. (We're such camp snobs). After that fine dining experience we opted to ride the gravel road up to the hole shot to give the noobs a sense of the start. Once there some folks opted to taste a little bit of dirt. I decided to ride up the road a little further and jump on the single track up high and bomb down but for the life of me I couldn't find the trail. I went up and up and up. Once the road started down, I turned around and just bombed all the way back to town. Everyone was back and I felt bad because some of them waited for me. The rest of the day was chill. We did some lunch at the Green Bean (local all natural coffee shop and cafe). Met up with Bill Ficus and another guy from Sioux City. We exchanged war stories while we waited for Bixby and Silent Bob to get back from the shop (her bike needed some attention). Once back at the campstead, I couldn't sit still. Pre race jitters had begun so I spent the rest of the evening fussing and fiddling, stuffing and stashing, prepping and propping. I really didn't want to have nutrition issues that had plagued me all season so I had think it over: wear a camelback and use the bottle for perpetum or just the bottle. I went round and round in my mind and I finally settled on partially filling the camelback with electrolytes and using the bottle for protein. I had Lara bars and Honey Stinger waffles. I was set. Probably over kill but I wanted to be prepared.

One by one the campers crept to their tents. By 10pm I was out cold. Literally. The temps had dropped over night and I had to wear a hat to bed. I woke up about midnight to pee and again at 2pm. Damn nerves. Luckily the park ordered porta potties so I didn't have to walk so far. The sky sparkled with stars. I wished upon the one falling star: to come in under 5 hours. Last year's best time by the female winner was 4:50ish. It kinda worked.

The 5 am alarm came way too soon. I barely slept after that last pee so I didn't even hesitate. I slept with my kit inside my bag with the hoping to keep it warm enough that I wound't go into hypothermic shock getting dressed. I stayed in my bag and got everything on. I was already one step ahead. Larry and Martin were already making coffee when I made my way out of the tent. Are they so cool, or what? Priorities were in line! Next, what to eat. Most were snarfing down smoked salmon. That sounded terrible so I went with scrambled egg wraps and a banana with peanut butter. Once full, I filled up my bottles to give to our amazing and awesome support crew of MK, Scott Kintner and Heather Wolff. They had to head out earlier than us to get onto the roads before the racers. MK was a support veteran. She had us all covered.

By 6:30 I was kitted up and loaded up. I spun up the road on the back side of our campsite. It was cooooold. I kept on my long sleeve team jersey while I warmed up. By 6:45 I was in full on summer gear, shivering like a hairless poodle. We all did a few hill sprints and then got in line at the start finish. I lined up in about 4th row. I could see my competition and they looked tough.Hundreds lined up behind us. It was a sea of rainbow colored jerseys. I was at peace. This was where I wanted to be. Soon Smokey the Bear lowered his paw and we were off. Finally.

The race leaves Spearfish Park and heads north through a neighborhood. It then winds up a quick power climb to an amphitheater parking lot and then down a hill past some more houses where families were standing at their driveways cheering on the crazy people going by on bikes. A quick left and the gravel road was in site. It was race time. As the road kept climbing, I seemed to go backwards. 

My legs were ice logs (I shoulda worn knee warmers) and my heart rate was pegged. I had to calm down. I worried way too much about how I was going to feel in two hours instead of focusing on the moment. 

I swore I was dead last going into the trees. Everyone I knew passed me and then some.

I'm not graceful enough to be chewing and riding at the same time.

I finally made it to the single track and was in a traffic jam. My only silver lining was I was able to calm my heart down. As much as it sucked visioning the lead pack sprinting ahead, I was grateful for the break. But then I started to get antsy. Once the group started again, I was looking for passing lanes but no luck. I was with Wixen for a bit but he got away when I fumbled a short, rocky climb and had to run it. I HATE RUNNING MY BIKE! Back on the saddle, I booked it up Tinton Trail. Soon we were at the point where we had turned around a couple days earlier and the trail went down. Down to the creek crossings and through frost covered meadows. Damn, it was colder than I thought it would be. Everything went without issue. I flew past checkpoint 1, hearing the screams of our support crew (thanks!) and continued on. It was at that point I realized I didn't set the distance on my computer. We did however write the mileage to each check point on a piece of white tape and stuck it to our top tubes so that helped. The course itself was in primo condition. It was dry and dusty but incredibly fun. The tight climbs had been groomed since the last time I was on them. I cleared all of the early gnarly stuff (did I mention I had walking my bike). I will bleed out of my eyes or bust a blood vessel to keep from walking. I made up some places on those climbs which was quite redeeming. I did biff one steeper and ended up falling slightly backwards, catching my right calf on a chain ring. Rad. I popped back up and the guy behind me said I was a helluva climber anyways. The top of the trail was rocky and slow going but soon it pointed down. That's when I came up on Cole Skiba holding his shoulder, standing by his bike. A reply that he was OK and I was back on my way and within a few minutes I was at aid station 2 where our darlings were waiting for us, bottles in hand. Now that's some pro shit, right there. I didn't have to get tangled up in the food table. I just whizzed right on past that noise and grabbed a bottle and was off. One dude told me to hurry up as I was his pace setter. Nice. Once past aid 2 I felt pretty good. 

Turned out Cole had a bruised shoulder but nothing broken. Whew!

No major issues or situations to report, really. It was just a good time. By aid 3 I had to refill my camel back and take a must needed piss. Perry was at the aid station cheering everyone on. Now that's one helluva a promoter to go station to station. As I left aid 3, I lost a position to a woman I had passed earlier. But it was a grinder and I had it in me to get up to her as the trail flattened out. As I went by I gave her props for great climbing. I didn't see her again. This section of the course is super fun. There are a lot of different types of trail from slow technical to 30 mph wide open bombing runs. It's crazy but you run the gamut of emotions from wanting to cuss like a sailor to overwhelming joy. When you come from the flat lands like we do, a 10 minute, hell a 5 minute descent is the Holy Grail. This section had all of it. And it seems like the shortest section. Aid 4 came way fast and I didn't need to stop this time. I had all I needed on the bike. And I would need it all b/c this part of the course was a true test of will. The famous Bacon Station is located at the top of a very long technical and steep climb.

 Larry caught me just before and went by. He became my carrot and I didn't let him out of my sight. He was climbing really well and actually had to be patient as he came up on a few dudes who also were climbing clean but not very quickly. Soon I was on his wheel and as soon as he saw his chance, he did a double pass. And on top of that, there was a stick blocking part of the trail but he slithered by them both in a daring ploy to get by. And it worked. And so there I was stuck behind these dudes, mouth agape but super stoked at what I had just witnessed by Hot Pepper. It was sweet. So finally when the single track opened up to double track I got past the road blockers and tried to get back to Larry but he wasn't having any of that. I didn't stop for bacon but the station was hopping with a band and tons of fans. It gave me wings! I flew through the next section, which is the new single track that has some pretty hefty exposure and great views. I picked my way along to make sure I didn't catch a handle bar and send me downstream. I cleaned it and continued on. Once I hit the dirt road, I knew the end was near. I saw the trail marker signaling no more climbing and I put the bike in high gear. I looked down at my computer for the first time. It said 4:25. I had 34 minutes to get back and make it under my goal. Luckily, it was mostly downhill from there. Just ahead was a racer trying to do the same thing. He was just whipping through with awesome lines. You've read it before, feeling like you're in Empire Strikes Back with trees becoming blurry as you wizz by (well that's what's in my head as I write this anyway). I bridge up to him and yell that I'm wanting to make it under 5 so keep on the gas. We caught a junior that was riding really really well, but not fast enough but didn't want to pull over either. I wouldn't want to either but c'mon! So the first sign of light my lead out man got around him. After a few more twists and turns, I did the same. We were once again riding with conviction, I matching his every line, until he spun out on one of the rocky power climbs. He waved me by. I yelled for him to get up and jump on. I don't know if he did because I didn't look back. Not too much longer and I caught Larry and he was killing the corners and not skipping a beat on the power climbs. We both came up on a SS rider who, despite Larry's begging, would not move over. We weren't far from the end anyway so he just stuck it. I just hoped he wouldn't ball it up. Once we hit the gravel, Larry was off like a rocket. I threw the bike in pro pedal and the big ring. The wind was in my face so I had to really put the power down. The SS guy came beside me so I stayed in his draft until we hit the turn. Then we caught another guy. I went wide on the last turn into the neighborhood so I wouldn't have to scrub speed. I stood up on that last climb almost catching Larry. So it was me, the SS guy and one other heading into the finish. Larry pulled away at the final turn. Ryan was yelling at the corner. The home stretch was my own personal sprint. I came in just over 5 hours at like 5:01 and some change. I was stoked. Last year's top woman did it in 4:50 or so. This year's however killed it in 4:30something. After all was said and done, I remained in 3rd in my age and 4th out of 55 women. The best part, I felt great and even had some gas in the tank at the end. Something I hadn't had in my last two enduros. Victory.

While we waited for the podium celebration, we got to watch rider after rider come in with smiles from ear to ear. I missed Silent Bob as I was jawing with the always peppy Elisabeth Grindcore who was just about beside herself that she finished. She still had her helmet and kit on long after he ride was over. I missed Sara Johnson too but she was equally stoked with her performance. But I just can't do this blog post without mentioning April Eyberg's finish. All of us had come in and were burning a hole in the horizon watching for her. We kept telling Todd she was going to come back with divorce papers in hand. He jumped on his bike to ride up the road when I spotted her coming down the chute. We were all lined up on the sidewalk screaming, giving her high fives. She did it! And to Todd's relief, she still wanted to be married!

The post race event was a spectacle to behold.  Some new added touches was this homemade ice-cream bike machine. A bike that makes ice cream. There is a Heaven on earth. It's called Spearfish.

Big brands like Salsa, Quark and Sram really stepped up this year with a treasure chest of prizes that were equally distributed among men and women top finishers. To my luck, since I was on the podium, I managed to get into a prize lottery and came away with a RockShock Sid World Cup fork. That's like the biggest prize I've ever won. 

I was extremely grateful and lucky to be up there with such talented riders like Nancy Busching and Kim Eppen. Happy to say, of the ladies, the 40 year olds were some of the fastest on the day. The older the better, right? Looks that way. As we waited for folks' names to be called for prizes, RF made sure we were good and hydrated, going to the local liquor store to bring back some libations (they ran out of beer) so we could get a jump on the night's celebrations, which consisted of many a margaritas and some damn fine Mexican food. And to keep the good vibes going, we made sure to celebrate the mad love of our good friends Susan and Mike Ferrell, who honored their first year of marriage with a kiss under sombreros.

A little neck crimping was necessary which made it all the better. 

The night ended, as they all did, around a roaring fire, only this time we were exchanging war stories about the feats we had all accomplished that day. That's the beauty of this sport. No matter the level, everyone does the same course, blurring the line between racer and rider. That, my friends, is the vibe of the Dakota 5-0. Arrive happy. Leave dead dog tired.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Revenge of the Knees - Pre Laramie

I don't have to show anyone what happened the last time I did the Laramie Enduro, but I'm going to anyway. (Warning, very graphic).

So, with most of my skin intact and a pretty active racing season in the legs, I'm off to do battle once again in the wild west of Wyoming. My posse of RF, Todd "Evil Eye" Eyberg and The Lucas, it should be wild alright.

The plan is to high tale it right after work on Thursday so we wake up in Laramie with all of Friday to get a ride in and get registered. And of course eat.

After reading over my race report from 2009, I have renewed nervousness. This is not a race for the faint of heart. The Lucas has been preriding already and the report back is ouch. It's been a couple years and I've forgotten much of it but I do know that there's a lot of gravel and climbing with some waist deep water crossings and grassy pastures. Who's idea was this, anyway?

As I type this I'm waiting for my bike repair and praying the new tires will hold air. It's going to be an awesome weekend!!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New glide for a better ride

HooHa Ride Glide is made for women by women. Can you get any better than that? More information here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tranquility Weekend Wrap Up


Saturday was a fun day. I had been looking forward to racing at L&C for a while, having missed it last year in exchange for volunteering. The trail leader at L&C, Todd Eyberg, had been reporting great trail conditions for weeks and with the floods, etc. I hadn't been over there in quite some time. I did a recon ride on Friday to make sure the barrage of storms hadn't created a reroute or a new log over. Nope, same ol' same ol' and I knew it well, except for the new opening downhill "Double D" but once it hooks up to the 2nd part of the descent down to the post, it's like old times. I took that trail knowledge and used it to my full advantage. I had to: ladies that know how to descend and ride bikes fast were in line right behind me and then after them were the Cat. 1 men, one of which was the hubs. No way was he going to catch me! So off like a rabbit I went down the hole, past the pole, down, down, down, hard left, hard right, keep descending, power climb then to the left down around a couple more short climbs with steep descents, now power through the flats and up the next climb to the trail of old. My legs felt great and I kept my breathing manageable. It was pretty sticky save for a light breeze. My goal was under 25 minutes. I drank on each of the few flat areas. I only brought with me a half bottle, knowing hydrating was not going to be a priority. I did pack a flat kit. Mosquitoes are the size of bats in that place and I didn't want to get stuck walking out and getting sucked dry. Luckily, I didn't need it. I say lucky b/c I was using a brand new rear Bontrager tire and had no idea of it's feel on the trail. It seemed to hook up just fine. The race ended with nobody coming by and a solid time of around 24 minutes and some change. It had been worth the wait! Thanks to THOR and the Velo Veloce guys for getting the course in fine shape for the event. It was a blast.

Check out photos here.


Sunday was going to be one of my toughest local races. Not only was it hotter than blazes, I finally had a group of ladies to race with and the best part: two of them were in their 40s, like me! How rad is that! (Katie, hang on to your youth, honey!)

We started with the Cat 2 45+ men. All the ladies lined up, then the dudes. (Thanks, gentlemen). The gun went off and it was on. One Cat 2 dude lead it out, then me, then Sydney, then Andrea and the rest. My goal was to not blow up on the opening climb knowing there was some technical riding coming up. I think we passed the guy that lead us out of the start gate, then the back of the cat 2 35+ guys. I rolled down the descent with Sydney on my wheel. I cruised through the trees at the creek and over to the north side of Fort. It had more open areas to pass so I kept the speed high going through the trees, passing folks as I went, trying to use my passing confidence as a deterrent. No luck. I could hear riders behind me. I blasted around the open 4 wheel drive road and back into the trees. Knowing the false flat would soon turn into a flowy descent, I again kept the speed ramped. Syd was on my wheel, even as I picked off riders. As I turned the corner, I opened it up, but not too crazy. That section is so freakin fun it was more of a joy ride than a race. We popped out of the trees and into the open and if I was going to get passed, this was the place: there were feet on either side in which to launch an attack. But it never came. I continued back to the trail head and onto the regular course. At that point, I knew I'd have a bit of relief coming in the next section of tight single track so I motored hard for it. The switch backs are plenty and so are the trees, which requires some threading of the needle to get through. Again, hoping my trail knowledge would help me, I dove through, seeing nothing but the trail coming up. Once through the pinetree section on the north side, I started to catch more 35+ guys. Of note, the Wieland brothers, who kill me with their massive pedaling prowess: racing on flat pedals and kicking major ass. They politely let me by and it was time to climb the switchbacks up to the south hill. I passed Chris "Priceless" Price water stand and didn't take a cold one from him as I was on the attack and wanted to get to the camel humps as I knew those could pose a technical problem if not handled right. I got over them both and began my descent down the hill. On my way back up towards the ridge, I did not see the other ladies coming down. Hmmm. I had a gap. I cautiously made my way down the insane ridge line and back to the start finish for a bottle swap, goo and a wipe down. I was a sweaty mess. As I jumped back in line, the Wieland brothers and another went by. I jumped on their wheel and stayed with them up the hill. I was still feeling good as I crossed under Fort St. I told myself to not let up but the many glances at my computer read high zone 5, or about 180+ hr but I didn't feel bad or feel like I was breathing all that crazy so I assumed it was the heat so I backed it down to 170s and made sure that I didn't blow up going through the pine section, with all of the switch back climbs. I think I got passed by one guy after that and from there on out, I was pretty much by myself. I felt great after lap 2. Coming into the pits, I repeated my routine and was off for the final lap. I could tell my body was starting to slow down so I started taking things a bit easier on the more aerobic sections and pushing the down hills. And the heat. Holy sun flare! Chris Priceless Price was my oasis. Those mini water bottles were heavenly; even though I wore them more then drank them. Thanks, Chris! I so the rest of the race I went uncontested but never did I let up too much. Andrea is an adventure racer which means the girl can suffer and I didn't want her sneaking up on me. My jedi mind failed me in the trees next to the soccer fields on lap 3 as I clipped one, taking me down to the ground in an instant. I have a nice bruise to show for it too.

I came into the finish around 2:15, each lap almost the same. It was good to finish feeling strong and not the wet noodle like in Breck. I liked the format of everyone racing together. I enjoyed seeing so many other racers on trail in different areas. It made for some fun action.

All in all it was a great weekend of racing. And from the posts on the Psycowpath facebook page, I'm not being biased. It blows our minds that folks thank us for helping them suffer but we get it. We know what it means to push our limits. And this weekend did. So thankful to see a full podium of Cat 1 women and all of the other happy, dirty faces of everyone who participated. Makes it all worth it.