Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SilverRush 50: Where Do You Want To Go?

There were two things that happened at the SilverRush 50 that I didn't plan for:
1.) Launching my bike off my car rack on the way to the race (don't worry it's fine!)
2.) Winning an entry into Leadville 2016....my mother is already praying

I guess I knew #2 was a possibility but it seemed to be the furthest thought from my mind, I was focused mostly on trying to improve my Leadville coral position and on racing my own race and not worry about anyone around me. I successfully achieved both of those even with my legs deciding not to show up.

The race started like it did every year, with some chaos interrupting my calm focus. The first year I had to call my dad to help me figure out where the start was, last year I had to call Dana to bring me my camelbak, and this year I was driving when I hit a dip and launched the rear wheel of my bike off the bike rack and smack onto the street. Fortunately I saw it right away and with my friends in the car right behind me they both reassured me that it was fine. Not like I had a second bike if it wasn't fine so figured I would ride it until it broke (it never did).

At the start I double checked my rear tire pressure and it seemed to be holding so wasn't going to fret about it. The hike up at the start is always awful, immediately my legs were questioned why I was doing this but once I was on the bike they seemed to settle into a rhythm. I had talked to my coach
about the course and decided it best to ride the first 10 miles conservatively at it is a steady climb, there would be plenty of other places to blow myself up. And so I did, I settled into my pace and just turned over the pedals hoping to wake my legs up. The last 4 miles of the climb are on a donkey trail that is pretty rutted out and has some questionable lines. My only goal was to not have to walk any of it because I knew mentally it would make my day harder. So I didn't, I kept climbing and was thankful to the guys walking behind me who would call out to those in front of me that I was coming.

Preach, girl.
I was relieved when I turned off the climb and onto the gravel road that pulled me down by the first aid station and into the forest. I kept descending knowing it would only lead to more climbing. That climb was followed again by a quick descent and another climb that  sent me over the highest point and down into the turn around. I knew I didn't want to waste too much time at the half way aid station so when I rode by I grabbed two bananas and five gels just to be safe, because what's a race if you don't cross the finish line with at least an extra 1700 calories of food. 

The way back always seems shorter than the way out, and it is, time wise but nothing substantial because all those downhills on the way out become uphills on the way back. The way back though involves about a mile or two of hike-a-bike section which made me grumble because I hate hiking with my bike. After that it was followed by a descent back into the forest when I saw one of my friends on the way out. Unfortunately it was on a corner and only realized who it was after passing her. We shouted at each other and then continued on our separate ways. Getting back to the final aid station seemed faster than I thought it would be. The climbs are shorter and the descents are longer. I followed one guy into a descent and saw him crash right in front of me but luckily I took the cleaner line and remained unscathed. I pulled into the last aid station not really needing anything but figured if they were handing out water I would take it. The girl I rode to
This is Suzy, she's also from West River, we represented
only had coke and not wanting to waste time waiting for water I took it and mentally prepared for the last push of the day, 4 miles up the gravel road before taking the 10 mile descent into town. I settled into a pace, and kept rhythm by reciting prayers and old poetry (really the only time I break out any poetry is when I'm climbing on my bike). About half way up I got passed by one lady and was able to sit on her wheel for the most part and have her pull me the rest of the way. I also knew that the descent provided two lines so wasn't worried about getting stuck behind some cranky old guy like last weekend. Before I knew it we were turning onto the descent and I was opening up my suspension. I felt great going down, smooth, clean, and focused. Maybe one of the most confident descents I've had in a long time. I was able to pick clean lines and navigate around other riders with ease. I knew this is where I could make up some time so I kept pushing and kept pedaling. I watched the mileage climb with the approach of town near. I had passed three girls on the descent and didn't want them to have the opportunity to pass me back. With 1.5 miles left to go there is a short steep hill that I knew if anyone would catch me it would be on that, especially if I had to get off and walk. I focused, shifted down in time and mashed up it and kept cruising to the finish line.
I was happy with my finish I took an 1:05 off my time from last year and 5 minutes off the time from the year before (5:50 was this year). I felt pretty good because I had raced my race and even with my legs not feeling 100% I was able to keep riding and not sulk about it. I ended up winning my age group which was nice, especially because second place came in 30 seconds behind me. Winning gives me the opportunity to race Leadville in 2016. I didn't even think about that as being an option. When I was up on the podium they give you an option of taking the coin to register later or passing it up. I took it; but still have yet to register.

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sparkle Unicorns

Still the same after 8 years!
Heading up to Breckenridge for the Firecracker 50 was the perfect anecdote for spending the previous weekend in NYC; navigating traffic, tourists, and roller bladders (yes, that's still a thing there- I know I was shocked too!) around central park while riding. NYC was great, in that I was able to catch up
with friends but it quickly reminded me why I didn't remain on the East, too many people-all the time. Not to say Breckenridge wasn't crowded, with it being a holiday weekend it was but at least I was in the mountains and riding my mountain bike.

I signed up for the team category with Carly, the fiancee of one of Sully's riders. We had talked about it at the Grand Junction race but I postponed registering because I was having a hard time coming up with a team name. With only a few days left I put down the only name that seemed reasonable: Sparkle Unicorns. We both had a similar approach to the race; casual. I was grateful for, because I have the SilverRush 50 this weekend and didn't want to blow myself up by doing two 50s in a row.
Good vibes on the preride 

We started the race by going through the 4th of July parade in Breckenridge and then I pulled off and headed back to the house while Carly started the first lap. It's a bit odd going second because you have a vague idea of when you will begin but no definite way of knowing. I gathered my things at the house and headed to the park to watch the pros come through and help do feeds for Sully's team. Other than that I spent most of the time trying to avoid the sun and hoping that I didn't miss Carly coming in. After and hour or so waiting in the park I couldn't handle it much more and decided to at least put my ride clothes on so if Carly did show up I would be ready after she had to find me.

The finish is a really fun descent with switchbacks carved into the hillside so you can see the riders coming down. I saw Carly in full descent mode and edged out of the transition zone to get ready for the baton handoff, and by that I mean number plate. She rolled in and I asked her how it was, "really fun!" We fumbled to switch out the number plate and then I took off. I hadn't ridden much of the course but had an idea after talking to people about it. The first few miles are a road climb up which I saw a lot of people starting to suffer on their second lap, I felt bad passing them because I was feeling fresh to death (and looking it too) so tried to give them a "good job" and maybe give them a little life to keep going. The road section is followed by turning off onto a drainage ditch that is wide enough to pass and only about a 1% grade. I cruised through the first aid station, remembering to eat and drink by the clock and continued on my crusade. I was really surprised by how nice everyone was when I tried to pass, nobody tried to out sprint me or be an ass about it which made it easier to keep passing. It was a fun course because I was either climbing or descending, not a lot of just flat pedaling which kept it interesting and moving fast. I saw Sully at the second aid station where I took a bottle from him just to get some water in before tossing it back to him. 

The next section is the one I had been warned about by multiple people, Little French. It's a loose rocky section that is rideable but one miss turn and you'd be off the bike. I started the climb up and sat on a wheel until they got off to walk and moved up to the next one. I wasn't sure I'd be able to ride it all and got passed by one guy taking the B line around me so I thought I'd sit on his wheel to navigate the group of 5 walking in front of us. He got off his bike and hiked in behind them. I followed suit because if he didn't think it was worth it I figured it probably wasn't. Besides, it is good practice for Leadville. I got back on my bike before the top which put a little bit of time between me and the group behind me which meant I could enjoy the descent all to myself and I did, silky smooth single track that pulled you down the mountain.

The third aid station at mile 21 appeared sooner than I thought it would. I knew from earlier when Sully was there that it was about 20/25 minutes to the finish but there were also about 5 switchbacks
Tried to get him at the end!
that you had to climb up to get down to the other side. I started climbing up and knew it wasn't worth trying to get around anyone on that section so sat still until it opened up onto a straight climb that had enough room to pass. I made my moves to try and get to the descent sections sooner and was soon sitting on a guys wheel that seemed fast and warranted no reason to go around him. Right over the crest where we started the descent he scooted around another guy to begin his descent, I tried to follow by saying, "on your left when you get a chance" but he didn't seem to find a chance. I thought that was okay because we had to cross a road and I planned on passing him there. We hit the road and I said, "Can I get around" but he sprinted back onto the single track. I then sat on his rear wheel for the
next 2 mile descent trying to find the chance to make my move. He took a wooden feature and I tried to sprint around on the trail but he cut me off. I sat on his wheel all the way through the finish and then he turned to me and said, "I'm really sorry darhling, I should have let you pass." Maybe it was because of recent sexism I've been dealing with at work, or maybe it was because I hadn't had coffee yet, but I unloaded on him, "Yah, you should have let me pass." His response, "Well, I was just out there trying to give it my all." "Oh, and I wasn't?!?! I was and mine was faster than yours!! You should have let me pass because you knew I was girl and we aren't in the same category, we aren't racing against each other." I was pretty livid, but Sully and Carly soon intercepted me and we were revealing in how much fun the course was and how we wouldn't want to have do two laps. The guy who blocked me ended up doing a 40 minute slower lap time than me so joke is on him- because in the end he got beat by a girl--sucker!
Game Face!

I felt great through out the race, I started pretty conservatively and found my groove which served me well. My next adventure is the SilverRush 50 this weekend, I'm excited to see how it goes as the first year I did it I loved it and last year I loathed it so could be funnnnnn!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bashing with the Betis

18 miles doesn't seem very long when comparing it to my other race distances, but when in the midst
That would be nail polish going on...
of it, it seemed like it when on forever. It didn't help that for the first 6 mile lap I kept looking at my power meter box instead of the mileage box so felt like I was going nowhere when really I was making progress.

The race had started off with me in the second row, there were no official call ups and I didn't want to push my way up. I started next to a girl I knew so that helped. Sully and I had talked about how important the start would be and getting from the double track to the single track as fast as I could. I didn't get there fast enough and was following many others into the line. I wasn't worried though because I had no idea what to expect, and knew not blowing myself up on the first lap was probably in my best interest. There were a few steep switchbacks climbing up, one girl in front of me tried to pass another but ended up running into her, I got off my bike and ran around 
I'm surprised I didn't melt in the heat
them which spiked my heart rate and gave me a little anxiety because I wasn't sure if that was proper etiquette or not. I jumped back on my bike (good thing I've practiced my cross mount!) and took off on the chase, the girl I knew was still in front of me and I knew if I hung around her I would be okay. I've always struggled with passing people and would only follow suit when someone else made the move around someone and I would try to sneak in with them, like, "oh, I'm coming by too!" but usually would get caught behind and would lose some seconds until I could get around too. 

I made it through the first lap, and saw Sully at the start of the second to get my first bottle. I grabbed it on a short climb up and took some in. I knew I could push harder on the second lap and so I did, I also knew that I had to get more aggressive with passing, upgrading from my, "hi, when you get a chance, but really no rush, I'd like to get around you, but really only when you can" to "when you get a chance". I kept picking people off, and tried to get to the next person in front of me and just keep pushing. Some of the dirt was lose on the back side and I was constantly worry that I would slid out but kept it somewhat in control. I did most of the passing on the second lap, the group had spread out and I had no idea where I was in relation to anyone. I passed through the finish with one more lap and with Sully standing if I wanted water or GU, I thought about it for a moment too long before shouting "GU!" at the last minute to grab it. I knew I needed something to ward off cramping as it was hot and extremely exposed. I had to take it in and was trying to figure out when but went into the single track right behind a lady and knew I was not in position to ingest it then. I needed to get round her so I could get the GU. I took the left on a clear shot and got around her, but knew with 5 miles left I had to not get complacent and keep pushing. I took in 
half the GU because that was all I could manage before needing both hands on the bars. By now I knew the course enough to know where I could gain time, the short uphills and where I should reign it in, the loose corners. With 3 miles left I realized I should have put something in the bottles, like scratch or nuun because my calves were beginning to cramp. Just the first signs when you feel your muscles start to pull. I tried to prevent them from seizing by staying in the saddle on the short climbs and stretching them on the descents. I kept pushing but could keep feeling the slight ting in both my calves and would pull back just a little. The last half a mile twists around with sharp right turn onto double track that has a steep climb before flattening out into the finish. I took the right but had to get out of the saddle to get up the hill, that's when it happened, both calves seized, which was both hilarious and not. I was so close and yet was far enough that I had to keep pushing, I'm sure I 
During the cramp
was grimacing the whole time. I crossed the finish line and immediate got off my bike, sat on the ground and stretched both legs out. I was announced the unofficial winner of my age group as I sat there and had one of the shop owners and Sully come up to grab my bike and give me water. I rode my bike around for a cool down with Sully and then I had to stop and throw up the coffee and GU I had taken in. Ooops. Negative feed? 

Parker all dressed up for the drag race 
We hung around for the drag race and the podium. I ended up winning my age group and getting third for the expert field which I was pretty happy with. To give you perspective last year I raced sport and got third in my age group. I felt great through out the whole race, minus the cramping but was happy that I kept pushing and kept racing and didn't get complacent. This was the race I was hoping to have at Grand Junction, but glad to at least have it. 

Last Tuesday I hosted a happy hour and silent auction at the shop, which was a huge success, $1,700 was raised for World Bicycle Relief with some really cool prizes being donated for it. It was pretty amazing to see so many people show up and support the cause, it might have helped that there was free beer, but whatever gets people in the door! 
We're all winners!

This weekend I head to New York City for a wedding and decided to fly with my bike because I'll be there for four days and it seemed cheaper and easier than having to rent one. It might be little excessive to take my bike but why not? 
New kit day and new spot on the podium!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Two Gears: Hard and Harder

I hadn't really put together that I had ridden the trails for the Grand Junction Off Road 40 until I pre rode it. I have ridden the trails before a few times but didn't really put together that it was the same, as I would never willing chose to bring my race bike to these trails for the most part. Thank goodness for the pre-ride. I was with one of Sully's riders and his girlfriend and they were nice enough to stop and talk lines and talk about the course.

I was still nervous even the morning of knowing what was in front of me, it's pretty technical and incase you don't remember I got a brain injury riding down a gravel road. I started right behind a friend from Boulder who was doing it with his dad, which helped. Once the gun went off I took off
This is before everything went south...
into the rhythm of getting to the trail as quickly as possible to avoid the bottleneck that happens on the single track. I followed the flow of people onto the dirt and up to the Widowmaker Hill, which everyone gets off to hike up at this point. One guy on the side of me hoisted his bike onto his shoulder to carry without realizing his front wheel kept taping me in the head, I wondered how many brain cells were dying because of it, briefly, and then jumped back on to continue. Thanks to the pre-ride I knew what was in front of me and what lines to take which helped immensely as most were getting off their bike to run around or crash but allowed me to stay in my rhythm. I had cleared all the technical features on the first half that I was worried about and feeling mildly confident in how I was riding until I took a wrong turn. I didn't realize it had happened and maintained my flow behind a few other guys, one who was extremely cranky and kept dropping the f-bomb which I thought at first he was mad that a girl was riding behind him and trying to pass and then later realized he knew that we had all taken the wrong turn but decided to keep riding as well and just spew profanities about it. It wasn't until we all got to the next junction that 30 of us had realized what had happened. Fortunately, instead of having to backtrack we were able to loop around. I took off but most people seemed to mosey on back to the course and since I had no idea where I was going, was at mercy to their pace. We finally reached the first aid station and I got back on track. 

Maybe this should have been a map
After a quick technical descent I kept the momentum going and knew what was coming thanks to my handy-dandy temporary tattoo which was an aid station followed by an uphill slog. I had taken enough time getting lost that I was approaching the hill climb with all the guys on their enduro ready bikes (designed much more for going downhill than up) which helped as I was able to slowly pick them off on the 7 mile double track climb. I would flutter between feeling great and feeling sorry for myself. Which probably correlated to my eating and drinking intake. I was frustrated that I had gotten lost and had assumed that I was in last place but then I would switch modes and be okay with it just being a really good supported training ride. I was grateful when the climb was over and a short descent greeted me to bring me into an aid station. I got off to change the scenery and maybe feel better about things, and I did, briefly until I got back on my bike and continued the next 2 mile slick rock climb up. "Just keep pedaling" I kept repeating. I gained a surge of energy when I saw my friend's sisters and girlfriend at the next aid station. I had told them about getting lost and was able to ingest as many oranges as possible before leaving, knowing the end was near. 

I was still about 11 miles out but what remained flowed mostly downhill and it put me back on the section that I had pre-ridden. I hit the 2ish mile road section with a group of 4 guys and followed them back into the single track. I was last but soon scooted around two when they got off to walk their bikes on some rocks and then around the next one shortly there after. I was following one into the only technical section I was worried about, he got off and I stalled while he moved out of the way. I proceeded down the line I knew but only to be forsaken at the end. The line I wanted fed back into the trail but I bobbled and turned my wheel away from the trail and down towards the jagged rocks the littered the hillside. I bailed off my bike and it fell onto some rocks and I jumped and landed unscathed. Fortunately the guys who were walking down behind me were there to ask if my bike is okay. "Uhh oh, ha!" I looked to see my right brake level lying in the middle of the trail. Huh, so now I have a front brake left for the rest of this descent. You have got to be kidding me. I got back on and gingerly began pedaling. The next section was a short uphill climb with an exposed ledge on the left. I shifted down but didn't realize that I broke the shifter so every click to go down was doing the opposite and moving it up to a harder gear. I didn't even put it together while I was pedaling into a harder gear.  I hopped off to walk up with everyone else and it wasn't until I was back on that I realized I didn't have access to the rear shifter and now was stuck in the smallest cog on the back. Great, so now I had two gears left; hard and harder. And only the front brake. This is hilarious. 
Not so funny at the time
I started to get into a grove, and maybe became mildly overconfident with one brake. I gained some speed going down into a left corner that was grooved with rocks. In a panic I locked up my front wheel which skidded my bike straight into a rock. I didn't even notice the damage at the time but later saw that I had taken off a few layers of paint and exposed the carbon, ooops. I was fine, but my poor bike. I had no advantage to my predicament, I couldn't get going too fast on the downhills and was stuck in two hard gears for going up hill, so I bounced between riding and running. At least it's good practice for the hike-a-bike sections in Leadville. I ended up on the pavement that was a 2 mile ride back to the start when I met up with my friend's dad. One of his cables had broken so he was limited to the gears he was able to use as well. I rode in with him where we talked about the course and what had transpired over our separate journeys. I was never so happy to see a finish line. I ended up 6th for women, which might have been the most disappointing thing, with everything that happened I should have gotten annihilated, but only 9 women were in my category. I'm not sure how to get more women racing but that's for another blog.
So glad to be done. 
I meant to get this up sooner, but some things transpired at work that took a lot of energy. Since the race, I've been riding mountain bikes more, at least when it's not raining in Boulder. This weekend I'll be doing the Beti Bike Bash, which at 18 miles is by far the shortest race I'll do all year! Eeek!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gravel Metric Ride (or was it a race?)

I didn't know what to expect walking onto the USD campus. I was pleasantly surprised by it all. The whole campus resides on one giant city block, which seems fairly easy to navigate given that the law school is in one building only. The meeting with the dean to discuss orientation options went rather smoothly. I was thoroughly impressed with how versed she was with Leadville, I had sent her the link before and we figured out some options. The rough plan is to fly out Wednesday and then fly back Sunday for the first day of classes. She said she would talk to the professors about not calling on me for the first week so I could transition and regroup after; law school is taught under the Socratic method so that was a relief to know, she just wants me physically there the first day of class. She was concerned about me missing a lecture on Thursday by the bar association on character and fitness to talk about the standards set forth about being in law school and a potential lawyer. I wasn't going to mention it but then my dad intervened (I knew I brought him for a reason), "oh, her mother was on that board for 14 years so we can handle that." or something of the variation. That settled it- that would be all I needed for a pass. We spent the rest of the afternoon meeting with a realtor and looking at houses. I'm sure I'll feel much better once I figure out where I might be living so I can get things there sooner rather than later. 

Sully and I then headed to Sioux City and rode mountain bikes, followed by road bikes in Madison, and mountain bike again in White Water, WI at the John Muir trails. All were pretty fantastic, except the road ride, it was a little bumpy. 

The gravel metric was something else. I didn't know what to expect, it's not advertised as a race, but I
Clearly excited about the unknown
could have certainly been fooled. It started with a 5 mile police escort to the gravel; they stopped us and let everyone regroup i.e. let all the guys go pee on the side of the road before starting us again. The ride started and the only advice I had to go on was to stick with a group. Which I tried with the lead group, but they were real fast so I was off the back pretty shortly after. I was riding by myself for a good 5 miles, stuck in between the lead group and the group behind them, not wanting to slow down but unable to reel anyone in. I got lucky when the course took us through a farmer's field, and it slowed some down that I was able to get back on to someone's wheel. I kept thinking the first 15 miles that this isn't going to be sustainable, I'm going to bonk at some point if this keeps up. Around mile 20 I was on my own again when a guy, Brad rode up and I stuck on his wheel, we worked to pull to the next guy and from there the three of us pulled up to the next two and then there was five of us. We stuck together till about mile 40, I chatted with an older lady who was only out there to see "if she could keep up with us youngins" she could. The course takes a 5 miles round about a lake which is over a snowmobile course, so you're really just riding through grass which slows everything down substantially and we were able to catch more people and get strung out through the sections. 

Clearly more excited- look at how fast I look!
I saw Sully on the other side of the forested area right before the check in point. He told me his rider was winning and one of the guys we know from another shop was up ahead and to go catch him. I rolled into the check in point, got my wrist band punched (super casual), right as a big group was rolling out, I had enough time to grab a banana and start fighting to get up to them. It took a while but I finally managed to catch up and slowed my pace when I ran into the guy I knew, who was carrying beer and pizza in his frame bag. I rode with him for about 4-6 miles, enough time to watch him fall into the creek and then he started developing IT issues and stopped to do yoga. I did not have time for that. From there I hooked on to a group of Sram employees and let them pull me in the rest of the way. I did take pulls through out but by then there were seven of us so never for any substantiated time. 

This was the finish line, I think
I was surprised when I finished that I had finished in the capacity that I did. I kept waiting to bonk. Unlike Colorado where a climb is followed by a descent, there were no sustained climbs followed by any descents it was just 68 miles of pure pedaling. I can't say I didn't like it, I'm still not sure if I liked it but I didn't mind it. I don't think I've ever spent as much time staring at the wheel in front of me as I did during this ride. I ended up averaging 17.2 mph over 4 hours- there aren't official results but Sully thinks only 3 or 4 women were in front of me, not that it really matters....

I got bumped by a car last night when I was riding home with Sully. It seemed strange because he was pulling out but had stopped and I was crossing in front of him but only after stopping to make sure he saw me. I'm still not sure how he didn't see me, I had look at him when he was looking at me, so maybe he thought I was clear on the other side already. I went and he rolled forward and then stopped and then rolled forward into me- still not sure how he didn't see any of this happening. He just bumped my back end but it was enough to rattle me. I got off and was on the side walk looking at my bike to see if any damage was done. Everything checked out but I had no idea what to do so I did what seemed logical and just started crying. The driver rolled down his window to ask if I was alright, Sully said I was fine and I was and the bike was so he continued on his way.  I'm sure I'm just extra sensitive to it after my last one being a hit and run. After he left I completely lost it and  my leg started shaking. It's not that I was injured or hurt in any capacity and I knew that at some point this would probably happen again. I was more just shocked by it all. It only left a scuff on my skewer but it popped in his bumper (so, I won, right?). At least he stopped to check on me and it was nice having Sully there to check out my bike right away. I took another minute before getting back on and finishing the 400 yards to our destination. My bike is fine, I'm fine, physically and mentally, it's certainly a different scenario when the guy doesn't drive off but actually stops to check on you. Fortunately these don't seem to be an every day occurrence so I thought I would mention it; let me just repeat, mom, I am fine. 
This was in Iowa, super smooth and fast 

This weekend is the grand junction off road, which is 40 miles. I'm pretty excited for, I definitely feel like I'm getting stronger and from what I hear it sounds like a fun course- I forgot to register online (Chris, can I get on the same program as Bryan with you?)- but it doesn't seem like it's full and offers on the site registration on Friday. And if not I'll just race bandit (haha, kidding, what did I just mention about the character and fitness of law students). 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This is a Joke, Right!?!

"This can't be seriously happening!" I said as I kept double checking the start date for University of South Dakota's law school. There is no way, Leadville is August 15, with classes starting the 17th and mandatory orientation August 11-14th. And here I thought I would go into Leadville with no real stress, no brain injury, no broken bikes, just smooth sailing to close out this chapter of my life. Every argument against USD has been trumped by it being so cheap, and Kara lives really close so if I need to take a hiatus she has a whole house for me. Except for this - this has certainly thrown a wrench in it. I know the logical thing for most people would to be just miss Leadville this year and hope to do it later. I can't give it up though, I'm so close and so committed. Six months ago this might have been a different story, one where I would be traveling around passing the time till law school not thinking about Leadville, but here I see the finish line. I've tried to figure out the best option but I can't seem to end up with one where I win at both.
45 miles in the rain, I'm clearly enthralled.
I was contemplating this all the other day at work, wondering out loud what I would be like on the first day of class coming straight from racing Leadville, someone pointed out I would be the fittest one there. I'm going to be at USD this coming Thursday, Sully and I are heading to Chicago for a gravel grinder (60 miles on gravel) and stopping there on the way to check it out. I have set an email to explain my unique position and to talk to someone about options when I'm there- I'm hopeful but have some trepidation about it. My dad will be visiting there with me and my mom told me to take him to the meeting. I said I wasn't sure if he would see my argument for how much I want to do Leadville this year and might not understand why I can't just go to law school. She laughed and said that as a lawyer you often have no idea why your client decides something but you still argue for them. If it all works out it will end up being a funny story, but it's not there yet. I have thought about just going to another law school, some have given me enough money that it's not the same but close to USD but then I weigh practicing in SD and this makes the most sense. To have the entire network there and to know most of the lawyers in the state by the time you graduate is invaluable. I know what you're thinking because I'm thinking it too, it seems so silly to think about going to another school because of a race.
Finally got the WBR kit!

It's not just racing Leadville though, I'm really excited about being on World Bicycle Relief this year and want to see that commitment through. Why I want to go to law school stems from the same reason as wanting to be a part of WBR. We'll see what happens, and I'm sure I'll keep you posted. I know that this seems like such an insignificant problem to have and really I should be grateful to be in this position, right?

I have the Gravel Metric this weekend, which is a more casual 60 mile gravel ride and not so much a race. You just email this guy, pay $15, show up and he gives you a handkerchief with the directions on it, so that should be interesting. The weekend after I'm doing the Grand Junction Off Road, which is 40 miles on trail. I'm excited for the GJ Off Road to see how much I've improved in a month (since the Whiskey 50). There isn't too much to do until I figure out what the plan of attack is for everything, except keep riding my bike- and drinking coffee.

Right now I seem to have a lot of anxiety about the law school dilemma; I can't figure out, like most women, how to have it all.

*Disclaimer: I'm sorry if this comes off as I'm an ungrateful brat who should just be happy that I have all the opportunities I do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Whiskey 50: Back With A Vengeance

"Ugh, how is this happening, again?!?" I expressed my anguish over the weather while I took cover under Sully's team tent. Whiskey 50 was the next day and the weather still didn't look great. I was in my riding clothes trying to pre-ride and stuck watching the ebb and flow of precipitation come down. The saying goes "chamois time is training time" and so I was able to get my pre-ride in by sitting in my riding clothes for an hour constantly checking the weather for race day and questioning why I voluntarily chose to come back. 

The rain wasn't suppose to start until noon for our race, but I wasn't convinced. I even stashed a third set of winter gloves behind the bladder in my camelbak just to guarantee they would remain dry. I even debated wearing shoe covers, Sully thought that was a little much but the constant flashbacks of last year had me questioning his rationality. 
All the layers!

The morning of the race I woke up and stepped outside to be pleasantly surprised with only a crisp chill in the air and cloud coverage, but no rain, no snow. I still put on a long sleeve base-layer, jersey, arm warmers  vest, and long sleeve jersey. As well as a hat, buff (to cover my neck), winter gloves and knee warmers, but no shoe covers. Sully talked me into leaving my long sleeve jersey with him at the start line which later I was grateful that I relinquished it. The start began with a bang (literally multiple guns), and with a rough game plan of trying to get as far up the front as possible to get on the single track first. I took off and began the longest training ride on my mountain bike of this year. Getting on the single track was effortless and I was surprised at just how much of a different race it is when you ride everything. At one point on it the riders bottlenecked and
everyone had to get off, not sure what was happening I was a little anxious. The lady behind me must have picked up on it and assured me it was fine, we were in 5th and 6th place so no reason to panic. I wasn't as conscious about my place as I was trying to make sure I didn't get cold again. 

The single track was really fun and over too soon. The next section is a fire road down to the turn around point, Sully told me it wasn't worth trying to mash down it and just ride it. I ate some food on the way
Steady decrease...
down- unfortunately I hadn't done the best job wrapping it in aluminum foil and so the peanut butter went all over my face as I tried to squeeze it out (good thing I already have a boyfriend!). At the turn around I grabbed a full banana without dismounting and  began the trudge back up the hill. The first 11 miles weren't bad at all, the last three were brutal. I had a bit of a biomechanical with everything beginning to ache. I just had to get back to the single track and so I schlepped along, and didn't put up much a fight when I would get passed. At some point during  long endurance races I find it becomes less of a race against everyone else and more of a race against yourself. I was at that point, I just needed to finish. 

This was before cramp hill...or after
I reached the single track and every ache I had seemed to go away. I'm sure it was more mental in knowing I was almost done and back to the fun. I've followed enough of Sully's wheels to feel pretty confident with my descending skills at this point. There was one concern I had and that was "cramp hill" I was informed that most people cramp on it but it's only about 4 minutes so if you have to get off and walk it's not too bad. I kept riding and each little hill would wonder if it was it, and then I wouldn't cramp and so would wait for the next one. This continued until I reached the pavement and realized that I still have no idea which hill was cramp hill. The last miles on pavement are still mostly down hill, I was  so excited that I was actually going to finish I didn't even care when it started raining. I came across the finish line and was so relieved that it was over with no snow- and no need for a third pair of gloves! 

All done! 

I ended up finishing 9th overall for women. Those last three miles on the hill I got passed by 4 or 5 girls and was only able to catch back up to one. It's early enough in the season that I'm happy with how I finished and I know I have somethings to work on; like preventing biomechanicals and doing a better job wrapping my food. Sully and I went for a ride in Prescott on Monday and wouldn't you know the weather was near perfect. So much so that one of the girls on his team is convinced that I'm the one who brings the bad weather. 
Skies out...thighs out