Monday, April 14, 2014

Third Time's The Charm

The first ride on my Rocky wasn't as spectacular as I had imagined, no fireworks. I might have missed them because I was going so fast. I rode in from my house to the shop with only boat shoes on the smallest amount of pedals, and on a men's saddle which really makes the 1.8 miles all that more impressive. 
So Fast!


Sully wanted to do a night ride and since my day off (when I was planning on riding) was two days away, it would be a good chance to ride it and then tweak anything that might need tweaking before I headed out on a longer one. Unfortunately some things at work kept me past the departure time and I didn't feel like playing catch up in the blusterous wind that had awoken. I was able to switch the saddle to a women's specific one which made the ride home so much more enjoyable. 

I knew where I wanted to ride before I consciously knew I did. I decided to ride up Sunshine Canyon to Poorman down to 4mile and then back up to Betasso, do a few laps and then home. It would touch on everything, pavement, gravel, climbing, descending, and singletrack. It's definitely my go to ride
Isn't he a peach!?!
and I seem to end up there more than I should. The ride was pretty uneventful. After raising my seat a few centimeters a block from the house I didn't get off the bike again. The geometry is certainly different from my Superfly and I'm still working through it.

The second ride was about as eventful as the first, I went up a mountain and came down. The third, that's where the bonding really began. I had to get a hitch installed on my car (the things that happen when you finally get a boyfriend who rides bikes....) and figured I would loop a few trails together in
Not the smooth morning cup of coffee trail....
the area. I went up the Argos trail on the Apex system, my aim was a mythical neighborhood that would take me over to another trail system. The trail was much looser and choppier than I remembered (but there was a head injury in between rides so you can't expect much) and not much of my cup of tea. Probably better for the full suspension, but I needed more time on my hardtail as the Whiskey 50 Race is two weeks away (eek!). I knew the other trail would be better so after a few directions at trail forks and my trusty iPhone map to get me through the neighbor I found the trail. Well more of a campsite and I just hoped for the best. I did link up to it and started the descent. I ran into my boss halfway down and about mile or two from where I was going to turn around, he told me to come ride back up with him. It's certainly nice that everyone above me is still riding and immersed in all things bikes. I turned back up behind him and climbed a portion with him. Some techy sections I got, others not so much where I would hop off the bike and run behind him, since he was still talking. 

We split a couple miles up and I continued climbing, he turned back down. I got back through the neighborhood area and then back on the initial trail. Descending felt awkward and irregular, like something wasn't right, but couldn't quiet figure it out and had to get down the hill anyways.

#bruiseeasily
What happened next was the most chaotic crash of my life and it started with the thought...huh, maybe I should have walked this one. The rock that I had headed down had just enough of a kick that I launched forward off my bike. I'm finding that I like the crashes I remember more than the one I
don't (don't worry mom, there is only one I don't remember). There is something surreal and mosaic about being suspending in the air with all your senses heightened, ready, for what is coming next. With that I landed with a thud, and slid down a bit, I had a moment to lie there and assess the damage, but only a moment until my bike came chasing after me and landed with a thwack on
Good thing my roomie is an acupuncturist!
top of me.
Insult to injury at it's finest. At first I thought that I had gotten the wind knocked out of me, because I was having a hard time breathing but then realized the bike had shifted my camelbak and since I ride with my hose running across my upper chest was now being chocked out by my bike with my camelbak hose. I don't even know how these things are even possible! I got up dusted myself off and with more trepidation than before began my descent, again.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I've been bonking on recent rides lately. I'm hoping that most of it is with it being early in the season I don't realize that after three hours it might be a good idea to eat. Bonking tends to exemplify the worst qualities, physically and mentally. I'm trying not to make a habit of it. 

On my more recent bonks I've realized my upper body is still pretty weak, I had to take a break mid-14 mile descent when after putting so much tension on the breaks my upper body became immensely exhausted and needed to get off the bike and shake my arms out. Embarrassing, I know. I am up to 10 consecutive push-ups (without being on my knees) so I have that going for me. You can laugh, Wayne and Sully do. I've also realized that I'm bemoaning that Leadville is over. I knew it was going to happen, but that doesn't seem to be making it any easier.

Not doing Leadville is a bit of a relief and certainly nice but still a weird and foreign feeling, being the first time in three years that I'm not all consumed by Leadville. Only more lament by the fact that I just got a new bike, not for Leadville. Leadville is why I made the jump into mountain biking. It has been with me the entire time. It brought me to some amazing places, had me meet some equally amazing people (the people that save me from the side of the road when I got a traumatic brain injury, other riders who have crazy inspiring stories) and it have given me new opportunities and now it's over. I definitely made the choice not to do it. Last year, when I place in the SilverRush I was offered a spot in Leadville, which I could of deferred until this season. I could have put in for the lottery too. I knew that it was going to be time to take a break and do something else, as that's all I did for 18 months. I'm not done racing and Leadville isn't on the Never-Ever-Again Table but for this season it's done. I do have three 50-milers on my radar for this summer, but they are not all consuming and never at times feel overwhelming, thinking what have I gotten into. 

It helps that Sully is doing some of the races as I am. We don't do all our rides together but we do talk about them. He keeps telling me we only ride our bikes for fun but then I seem to add the disclaimer, but I want to be fast too...and maybe not embarrass myself when I get to the starting line. 

 I'm currently down in South Carolina. Mary Clair is here for her spring break visiting our Grandma Clara and figured it would be the perfect opportunity to take a few days off the bike and come down as well.
Grandmas are the best!

Once I'm back I'm planning on finally jumping on my new bike and will probably even start juicing. Sully mentioned that I seemed almost scared to get on my new bike and ride it but I think I'm just hesitant to start a new chapter.

 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First World Problems

I think Charles Dickens said it best, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That seemed to be the theme for Moab. At least it was the worst until I realized I was being a giant brat. 

On Tuesday, Sully and I figured out we had the same days off that week, last minute schedule change on my part. I told him he could go skiing one day and then we could go riding together on the other day. He paused, "I could....or we could go to Moab!" The seed was planted. I told him I'd have to think about it but I knew we would end up going. We set out Wednesday night after work and made it to Fruita, we debated pushing on to Moab, but figured we'd be zombies the next day if we did. We were up and off for coffee before 9, which put us into Moab around 11, plenty of time to ride. We got a hold of a friend who had already been riding for a few days to see if he wanted to meet up. Ohhh this is perfect! We can shuttle Porcupine Rim and not have to ride our bikes up that atrocious road. Porcupine Rim is part of the Whole Enchilada ride, a 27 mile trail with 7,000 feet of descending landing on many top places to ride lists. Copious amounts of fun, especially if you don't have to ride up it. It was really the only trail I wanted to ride. Partly because when I rode it with Wayne last year it was my 3rd time on a full suspension (one which I had rented) and wanted to see what my progress was (don't worry Wayne, I'm sure I still wouldn't have cleared as much as you did on your 29er hardtail...). Sully talked our friend into riding it with us so we could shuttle it.

We met our friend at a bike shop (he had melted his riding shoes by the fire the night before and clearly didn't realize Sully would be bringing 3 pairs). I would drive my car up with all the bikes and gear. They loaded it up with his gear while I bought some food to eat while riding. Sully said he was going to go put air in my car tires, because one was looking low. I didn't really think much of it, and then we took off.

We drove up the janky road that I prayed no one would come down on because it was a nice little drop of to the side and my fear of heights wasn't exactly helping. We parked off on a side road that was a camp area, as close as to the top as we could get. We started unloading gear when our friend mentioned that he thought my tire was leaking air (NOOO!). The ground we had parked on was pretty muddy, but maybe if we moved it to drier ground it will be easier to change a flat after riding. That was a really nice thought, but then we played it out logistically and letting it go flat on the top of this god-forsaken-area was not the best plan, even if I do have AAA. Sully offered to drive it down, but told him I would. He offered to come with but I told him it was silly for both of us to miss the trail. I loaded my gear back up and drove down to find a tire place. 



I found one, parked and went in. The guy behind the counter told me to pull into the garage, which was a large door, but I was apprehensive that I would be able to leave my bike on the top of the car, but the guy said it would be okay. I start driving in and looking up at the bike through the sun roof and then looking at him waving me in, when not a moment too soon he throws up his hand in a stop sign and gets a sour look on his face. I jump out and not an inch to spare! I asked him if he wanted to take my bike off but he said he would push the door up. Oh man that's just what I need. 

It took all of about 5 minutes to get the car fixed an back on my way. By then it was far too late to try and play catch up to the boys. I drove back up to Slickrock, as it was the closest trail that I knew of and would put me at the same time finishing as the guys. To say that it sucked not getting to ride with them is an understatement. Sully sent me a text as I was just getting to ride, "stay relaxed and don't worry about not making all the climbs. It is a very different trail than any other trails we ride." Oh great this is just what I need to get into today. He was right though, the trail was unlike anything else I've ever ridden. It's all rock, with nothing else. The first couple of corners and descents were pretty sketchy as I kept thinking my tires were going to slide out underneath me and I'd skid into my own rendition of 127 hours. On one of the first climbs I realized I wasn't going to make it up and bailed, unfortunately, if I've learned anything in Moab it is that mountain bike shoes have no business trying to get traction on rock. It was a pretty quick remembrance, before I could even react my shoes slid out and I landed with a "thwack" on the rock. It was enough force to splice my elbow and wrist open. I started crying (sorry,  not sorry). I seem to have an artistry for not whimper crying but more immediate with all the breath in my body escaping that turns into my dog just died, sobbing. (Don't worry, this type happens for all crying events-like watching Chasing Mavericks.)
Oh look, just in time for me to get over it.
 It didn't take my long to realize just how much of a brat I was being. "Oh I didn't get to ride my favorite trail in Moab, because my car needed fixing. So now I have to ride this other highly rated trail" "Oh, I drove 7 hours to ride by myself." Yeah, those are first world problems if I've ever heard one. I got up, picked up my bike and clamored up the rest of the hill. It was almost in that moment of how selfish I was being I was able to "cry a river, build a bridge and get over it." Literally. 

The rest of the ride was fine, it was a pretty different trail, but mostly for how much you stuck to the rock. The views didn't hurt either. I ended up going the opposite of the recommended way for riding the loop but I could never quiet figure out why that was. There was only one steep rock that I had to climb up,
 but I probably would have walked down it going the other way as well. I still wasn't fully confident I wouldn't fall off.

I finished shortly after the guys and met them back at the shop. We talked quickly about the rides and then the other guy headed out. Sully felt really bad about riding without me but it's not like I  let him come with me, and it's not like I was going to let him head down by himself. I told him that it was probably for the best as the guy he was riding with is more on par with Sully's level of riding and I figured I would have pushed to keep up and wound up getting hurt. Sully made it up to me later when he let me buy the variety pack of Fruit Gushers, Fruit Roll-ups, and Fruit-by-the-foot!!
Perfect mid-ride snack!


The next morning we drove to trails north of town, The Sovereign Trails, which Sully was wanting to ride. I wasn't sure what to expect but he told me he thought I would like them.
The trail had a good sampling of everything, fast singletack, technical sections, stiff climbs, sand pits, and steep drops, and of course plenty of insanely captivating views. It was enough to push me to my comfort level, I was able to clear most of it without too much trouble and told Sully that trail helped me feel more confident in my riding abilities. It was the perfect ride to counteract the warped day before.




 
 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love The Ride

I wasn't planning on buying a new bike. Especially this early in the season but destiny or fate (aren't they the same, really?) had other thoughts.

Technical stuff here...
 Sully and I have been talking about doing a race in mid April (minor detail, it's only 7 weeks away). I figured I would get a new bike in March again or sometime around then. I started looking at the Trek Superfly 9.8 which was the bike that had everything I wanted, perfect. Done and Done. One little, minor detail, they wouldn't ship out till June 23, whomp whomp. It seemed unfortunate because I really like Trek and have been comfortable with it for the past two years. I knew going into this season I would need to sell my Superfly, like putting a horse out to pasture, all part of the process. Selling it would require a
new one, not a need but certainly a want. My new shop carries a few other high end 29er hardtail race models and after a quick deliberation of color
and specs I settled on the one I liked.  I emailed the rep, again thinking maybe around March, I'd finally pull the trigger. He let me know that they had 2 left. Well that escalated quickly. I consulted Sully as I was looking at a Rocky Mountain model and he used to be a mechanic for their race team. I mainly talked geometry with him and while it's a little smaller and steeper cockpit, it ultimately seemed like a good, maybe even better fit than the Superfly, just because of my baby t-rex arms. 

I sent my form in later that day and checked my email when I was home, the form was unreadable so the rep asked me to call to get the information the next day. It was a bit nerve racking, it was a solid 14 hours that those bikes could have gotten snatched and been gone forever. I would have been back to square one. I called the rep first thing in the morning and he emailed me later that afternoon to let me know that my name was on the last one. YES!

A few days later one of the guys was asking me when my bike was going to show up. I told him it posted to my account earlier that morning so probably by the end of the week, maybe even the early part of the next. I ran in the back to get something and came out to FedEx standing there with my bike box. Ohhh Dang!
"Oh, hello there!"
Sully showed up about an hour after I sent him a picture of the box. "Why don't you have it built yet?" I looked at him skeptical because he knows my mechanical abilities. "Uhh because you weren't here..." added with a big grin. He told me to bring it home that night and he would build it.

I opened the box soon after that, one of the owners stopped by and wanted to see it, so couldn't really say no. Plus I was curious to see if the highlighting color was yellow or green (the catalog picture doesn't do it justice). I was pleasantly surprised with the color, charcoal with highlights of green and blue. Oh dang! That's going to match my shop kit so well! Mary Claire is going to be sooo proud of me, I thought.
Good thing one of us knows what they're doing!
I took it home that night and Sully built it up for me, he wouldn't even let me bring him dinner to do it. It was a pretty quick build, we're still waiting to set my measurement to it to mimic the Superfly, or make minor changes. We talked
Who's excited?!?!??
about doing it this week and taking it out for the first ride, it'll be soon ---  but instead decided to do spur of
Ooopsie!
the moment trip to Moab. Stay tuned for that one because that almost happened.
<--------- 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Definition of Insanity

I realize that it has been a blaring amount of times between blogs in the past two months. I wish I could say that it's because I haven't been riding, or that my life hasn't been that
interesting to warrant a post. But those would both be lies as much has changed; I promise that at least half of my days off have been filled with interesting tales, nothing like running into a mountain lion (hard to do on a trainer) or holding Jens Voigt's bike but things. 


Most of January I spent riding Hall Ranch, my cross bike or the trainer. Boulder hosted cross nationals, which was an amazing
Sully getting interviewed...it's like he's famous!
showcase of talent and ability. Sully's riders all did really well, one even making it to Worlds. After that things slowed down for him and he was able to participate in more rides with me. We've mostly been riding Hall Ranch. The trail is great because it has a rock garden and is a good way to work on technical skills.  I was mentioning to Sully that I really like riding it because it's like no other ride we do, it's 10-15 seconds of power to climb over rocks which is hard to mimic anywhere else. It has been nice

having some repetition, taking steps to develop my skills or master areas I've struggled with (I know hard to imagine). I think Sully is always concerned that he's coaching me too much but I always appreciate him being willing to talk lines and approaches with me or telling me when I need to shift my weight. 

There is one section that I constantly struggle with, going up I've never cleared it and coming down I'm probably at 50% when I don't psych myself out. Going up the approach is taking a line onto a rock slab which puts
Foot out, flat out.
you slightly off kilter, the rock shortly ends leaving a gap before the boulder you have to power up and over (not that big but definitely a solid 5'6", no pun intended! haha). My approach isn't awful and I can usually stay on the line that I want but never seem to get enough speed or confidence to get all the way up the rock. My front wheel will get on and then I'll bail, if that doesn't happen I usually just run into it and stop, and try again. Sully and I joke about the definition of insanity on this section.


Coming down that same section is where I have actually seen process. I started with having to stop at the top, pick my line, ride, stop, rework the line, stop, start over again, approach the drop, realize I've lost too much speed or don't have the right approach and walk down. The problem is there is really only one or two lines to take and the one I take filters you into having rocks on either side, so if you even slightly get off route, game over. I can now seamlessly tie the last segment into this segment but the
I know you're dazzled.
drop is still a little sketchy. The first time we rode it I stuffed my fork and went over the bars. Sully watched the whole things and suggested my fork be in a different setting. I tried his suggestion the next time and as I'm working my approach to descend I see Sully slightly out of the way below the drop, crouched with his arms out ready to catch me. I successively made the drop which was good because then he wasn't forced to have to pick between catching me or the bike.


Like I said other than Hall, it has mostly been the trainer or my singlespeed cross bike. I actually don't mind the trainer but I'm not exactly convinced that I get that great of a work out from it though as I find that time goes by most quickly if I'm reading a book. At least it's something. With the first race I'm doing in about 8 weeks everything helps at this point. I'm quiet over the snow. 
 
Working my legs and my noggin!

January was also filled with new things, as I switched jobs and moved houses. The new job is at a different shop in Boulder but seems closer to a style similar to Landry's Bicycles (where I worked in college, and loved). My new house is great, it has a dishwasher, wood stove, and yoga room. Not to mention plenty of room for my bikes and a really nice energy through it. How Boulder was that last sentence?  







 




Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Iceman Cometh

Our steed of choice
"Now the only thing to do is ride it like you stole it." Words of wisdom told to us after we had done a practice ride on the tandem. Nicola and I took the practice ride to see who would be where the next day for Iceman Cometh Challenge Bicycle Race (roughly a 33 mile race) . Which was good because we figured out I cannot ride on the back. Like couldn't even get on. It was a pretty easy decision after that.  I would pilot and she would be the stoker. I wasn't nervous until someone started talking about how fast you can get going downhill. It's one thing to give myself a traumatic brain injury, it's another to give someone else one. 
Where are you?!?


The morning of the rae it was somewhat taxing trying to find where the guy had parked the bike, it didn't help with our time budget that I made us stop and get coffee. We changed and contemplated what gear we thought would be vital and what we wouldn't want once we started riding. After a few rounds of deliberations and a quick pose for a picture we headed to the start. "When we get there I'm going to need to pee, and raise this seat- otherwise my legs might start cramping." We were in Wave 18 and
pulled up right as 17 was taking off. "Oh Shit!" Unfortunately they wouldn't let us jump the fence to start and made us go all the way around to the back. Luckily we could just yell, "Tandem! Tandem! Coming through!" People seemed to part pretty quickly, no matter that it was two girls. We got there with a few moments to catch our breath, some final encouraging words and last minute thoughts and then we were off. It's about 3 miles on the road until you hit the double track and oh man did we fly, we passed quite a few people as well as tandems. We hit the double track and stayed on course. The riding isn't like anything in Colorado. Instead of long sustainable climbs it was short ascents and quick descents with not a lot of technical features but plenty of sand to make you think you were at the beach (unfortunately we were in Michigan and nowhere near the sun). The first climb we hit was certainly a learning curve as it also contained a sand pit. Forgetting that someone was on back- I failed to call anything out and instead road up until about half way when we lost all momentum and the sand had made us do a stand still and we petered over. "Oh crap! Sorry I didn't say anything." Nicola didn't seem to mind, as it was pretty slow going. We picked up the bike and ran to the top only to get passed by 4 tandems in the process of mounting back on. That was our only real crash and we escaped somewhat gracefully. We got better at hill climbs (I would remember to tell Nicola what was happening, at least for the most part).
The only selfie I will ever take.

They changed the course since Nicola dominated the singlespeed category so neither of us were prepared for the amount of single track it had. We traversed the corners and tight spaces pretty well, considering we were on a tandem. Only once did I manage to almost run myself over when I put a foot down and lost my balance and began to go over the bars when we started descending and (in the most coordinated moment of my life!!) was able to run straddling the bike, and still pedaling with one foot until I could get my other foot reattached.

The bike was so burly and handled really well. It wasn't till after the race that I apologized to Nicola for having my butt in her face when we were descending and I was off the saddle. She told me no need, as she had been off the saddle too. I couldn't even tell. We forced our way through mud puddles, which was easier than our attempts at riding around the puddles. It had enough power that I could let go of the handlebars and it felt like it was pulling us through the areas. I didn't mention this to Nicola until after we had crossed the finish.

We kept leapfrogging a couple on a tandem, they asked, "Do you girls like to party, because we do!" (I think anyone who rides a tandem likes to party, or at least isn't adverse to it.) I suggested we link up and make a party bus. I don't think they thought I was serious because they just laughed. We did notice that all the other tandems had either a boy/girl or a boy/boy and were all riding 3x10, which gave them the granny gear to get up those hills. We had a 2x10, which meant 1.) We had to really work for those hill and 2.) we got really good at hopping off and hopping back on. 
Still Talking!

Nicola was the best stoker ever, I don't know if I would race a tandem with anyone else (well maybe Wayne or Sully, but I'd have to be in the back). Nicola works as a service technician in a shop so if there was a mechanical I knew I wouldn't be on my own to watch YouTube videos or try to call Sully. She even reminded me to drink. It's definitely a race that I want to go back to. It's awe-inspiring to stand at the finish line and see people of all kinds on all levels of mountain bikes finishing. We finished just outside of the top 10, but four finishers ahead of us were all within about 4 minutes of our time. We initially  talked about breaking top 10, but certainly weren't disappointed with our first tandem race.

One of my friends has done the race in previous years and at Thanksgiving we tried to convince Barb and Wayne that they should race it on a tandem. I think it might have worked.

With the Winner's Cup!


Friday, November 1, 2013

The Hurt Locker

I know people who refer to cyclecross racing as "getting in the hurt locker for 60 minutes". Fortunately it's all guys that say that and my racing time was only 40 minutes.




Don't worry Sully didn't let me race with the waterbottle cage
Sully finished building up my bike the day before the race and brought it by my work so I could try it out. Oh man, that looks soo good! I immediately jumped on it, nothing graceful, more of jumping onto my inner thigh and sliding my body into the right position and finding the pedals. "How does the reach feel?" "Uh, pretty aggressive. Maybe we (and by that I meant Sully) should flip the stem and try that". He did and it felt better, which meant I could practice my cross mounts a little more. "See you got it, just go slow, everyone else will be be, you don't look as awkward as you feel." Well that was a relief, I was assuming most of the girls in my category (cat 4, it's my first race so let's not get ahead of ourselves) would know what they were doing as it was halfway through the season. I rode it around a bit more before relinquishing it so I could get back to work.


We took off the next morning with two matching bikes (yes we just became that couple) and enough gear between us to make you think we were going back to Fruita. It was a short drive to the venue, about 50 minutes which was just enough time to ask Sully all of my questions. "Who will be in my category? How do I get over the barriers? Will everyone else be running? How does the scoring system work? When do I move up to Cat 3? What do I do if I have a mechanical or a flat?" He being the patient guy that he is, answered each one and then told me to watch "Joey's okay" and told me that it probably wouldn't be that bad, no matter what. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEGAIYKTZ9w 
Click on the link to watch, well not you mom. Don't watch.

 We got there grabbed our numbers, changed and started warming up and preriding the course. I was a little anxious because I had never ridden a singlespeed, let alone raced one before. Sully was good about riding around with me and pointing out things I should be mindful of, ride up this, don't mount back up here, run that section. On the backside of one of the hills it was completely muddy and rutted out. I tried to ride down the side of the hill but slid all the way down before having to up clip before I got completely caked in mud. I got
This was after 1 lap
out of the the corner I was stuck in and clipped back in to attempt some muddy "S" curves which fed directly into a steep embankment to get back up over the hill. I threw as much power as I could to get up but it was a fruitless effort and I lost any traction I had before sliding down. I fell into the side of the hill which did two things, stopped me from sliding down all the way and got my new, shiny bar tape muddy, maybe no one will know it's my first race. I got up and climbed out of what I imagine was a similar situtation the mammoths at the Mammoth Site found themselves in when they were battling to get out, but unlike those little guys I had a bike to wrestle with too. Getting to the top I scrapped what mud I could off and "cross mounted back up". The rest of the warm up lap was pretty uneventful. Afterwards I went and changed my knickers into shorts and took my thermal jersey off and changed my shoes because the bottoms had become so caked in mud I couldn't even see the cleat, let alone find the pedal with them. I pedaled around on the road and picked Sully's brain some more. 


At the starting line, because it was my first race I was in the very back, with about 3 other first timers. We took of- I didn't get the hole shot but settled into a rhythm in the pack, we
Here we go!
went down a steep decline before hitting a short flat area the goes right into a steep incline. The girl in front of me couldn't make it up which caused a rippling effect of everyone having to get off. I hopped off and ran around her and kept running as the next section was a steep hike up, plateau, steep hike up and then you were at the top of the muddy section. People tried to mount up here but I just kept ducking and diving and running around them. The girls that tried to ride it were getting stuck in the mud and I did my best to scamper around them. I didn't even attempt to mount back up but kept running and up the steep embankment. This is also where the hecklers were perched, which is a great place to yell things at people and really try to crush their souls. They were yelling things, nothing terribly inappropriate but my mother reads this so I'll refrain from repeating it. The nice thing about being the only singlespeed is they were super excited to see me and started cheering. Which was nice. I hopped back on my bike and started a flat portion. I got passed by a few people who were able to push a larger gear. 


A little dirt never hurt.
Next is a short hill that you go down before more flats and then a short steep up hill and with only one gear there was only one option. Get up the hill. I stood and pulled and pushed and probably made some grunting noises to get up. I made it and there was just enough time to recover before sailing into swooping "S" corners. A girl went down in front of me on one of the corners which tripped me up but I scooted around her. Getting out of that section leads right down into a section of two small logs, I unclipped and hopped off to run them. I got up that hill and jumped back on just in time for a short steep decline. Whoa whoa whoa- get clipped in- this in not safe, as my bike bobbled over some ruts and my legs flayed out to the sides. I definitely ran over one of the course markers before zigzaging over to the other side and hitting another course marker with my other leg. I got clipped in just in time to have to unclip and hop over two more logs and run up a hill before attempting to get back on. The mount up was a little smoother that time because I was on a flat surface and not acquiring speed. You make a hard right and descend down to the pit area where you climb up a longer hill. The first lap I got stuck and had to hop off the bike and run up. I got passed here but stayed hot on her wheel. We looped around went through a few more "S" turns before racing around to the start. Whew! Lap 1 is done 3 more to go. The next two were similar to the first, except no one crashed, I was able to manage to get around the girl in front of me when she attempted to ride down the muddy section and I just ran around her. The guys who were heckling helped me out by calling out lines to run up, which was nice of them. Apparently it was too early to do a beer feed, that was later in the day. On the third lap I was able to make it up the long climb that I had to run up previously, which I was pleased with. As the race wore on my dismounts got sloppier and it started to look more like an uncoordinated version of myself, but with tight hips. I come up on a lady on a mountain bike on the fourth lap and went back and forth with her through the "S" curves and over the barriers. She had a mechanical which is why she was on that bike and leading when she dashed into the pit to switch out bikes. I could see her and realized that we would be convererging at the same moment. I gave a good push to get in front of her and realized if I wanted to keep my lead it would take every bit of effort I had to get up the hill and keep her off, especially on the flat when she could push a bigger gear. I managed to get up the hill, riding, out of the saddle and grunting but did it. 
This is when you get in the hurt locker
 Okay last push before the finish. Do not let her beat you. I put my head down and rode but remained conscious of where she was at, one fault on my part and I would have to surrender my lead to her. We came around the last corner and I sprinted into the finish, victorious in my attempt to ward her off and the fact that I finished the race and hadn't thrown up in the middle. I got through the finish but always seem to have an issue with keeping track of my laps so I saw Sully and asked him "am I done?!??" He looked at my puzzled and told me that I was. I rode around the fence and he asked me how it was "Really fun." And then I started coughing, "Are you going to throw up." I wasn't really sure at this point if it was going to happen or not but managed a "No" in between hacks. I headed back to the car, unloaded, changed and then hung out for the next few hours for Sully and the other Raleigh team mechanic to do their race. We stayed for the men's pro race as well and it was really fun to watch, those guy are so smooth going over logs and strategic in their riding as well so it never hurts to watch how the pros do it. Before we left I checked the board to see how I did, I thought that I had only beaten the two women who I had passed but ended up 9 out of 18 on a singlespeed, and I was pretty pleased with my effort. I found that I really like racing/riding a singlespeed because it's so simplistic, you don't have to worry about shifting at all, you only have one option. Plus gears are shifty. 

I was thinking of racing the weekend afterwards but got a little caught up in my GRE studying instead. This weekend I'm in Michigan to race Iceman on a tandem, which we did a pre-ride today and it's going to be awesome. More on that later.  
Dream Team!