HI Friends, Fans, and Followers
I have a new site and will no longer be posting here…visit me and read up on the latest news. Thanks for visiting!
HI Friends, Fans, and Followers
I have a new site and will no longer be posting here…visit me and read up on the latest news. Thanks for visiting!
Its been months since I’ve had a race to report on. There have been some big changes in my life over the spring/summer and I’m just starting to come back around to the bike again. Always, my savior.
Burke Swindlehurst, the promoter for the Crusher in the Tushar race had invited me to the event over the winter. I said yes, unaware of the changes that were about to ensue and the time I would have to take off the bike. The time was here and I was recovering from a broken ankle and punctured bursa sac in my knee just four weeks prior. This was definitely the least prepared I would be for a race in my life. I had given my riding partner shit for getting too techie over his gear ratio, and worry over details. I actually told him publicly on Facebook to “harden the eff up”. This would come back to haunt me but, sometimes you just have to wing it and give in to the experience.
We woke at 6 am in Beaver, Utah for our 8am start to pouring rain. It had been record heat in Colorado for weeks so I hadn’t even thought about a rain jacket. All I could imagine was blazing hot sun roasting me up every climb. Yeah, climbing…I had signed up for 69 miles and 10,500 ft of climbing, certainly not my strong suit. No rain jacket, so I just doubled up on jerseys and braved the elements.
I was happy to learn that some of my cross buddies would be partaking in the event with me, Caroline Mani, my favorite Frenchie, Ben Berden, crazy fast Belgie, Jamey Driscoll, sweetness, and Ryan Trebon, legs. Gretchen Reeves and Tammy Jacques rolled up to the line along with some other fast bettys. I was relaxed and ready for anything. The men rolled out first and we would drive the tail. We started at a social pace and got caught up with each other and enjoyed our time as a pack, this would be short-lived. The first dirt road section at about 30 minutes in and the game was on. Gretchen and Tammy upped the ante. We all tried to hang but it was short-lived, I decided to slow my roll and ride my own pace. It would be a long day and I wanted to enjoy myself.
I soon found out why everyone was riding mountain bikes. My cross gearing, 36/27, was making for the longest power workout of my life. My cadence was noticeably slower than everyone elses. The road was slow and sticky. I was now alone, and started to pick off the men in the fields ahead. It felt like a video game, how many riders can you pass? This kept me motivated, to have people around and snippets of conversation along the way. The elevation chart looked something like two pointy D cups. Climb up the first, steep downhill, flat lollypop loop and then back up what we had just come down with extra climbing off the top. The vistas were some of the best I had ever seen on a ride. The clouds hung low revealing ominous and majestic mountainsides. Beauty lead my motivation and I felt as though I had a constant smile even as I was suffering inside. At one point more than half way through the ride and on the steepest ascent, people were walking. The thought entered my mind but I managed to stave off the action. A few times I did get off and run to shake out my legs and would perform a cx remount and continue on. This seemed to work well as I felt me knees were about to pop.
The last climb seemed never-ending and I heard men mumble and groan behind me as we would continually turn up and up and up. I knew this is what I had signed up for and the challenge, adventure, and unknown is what I craved.
I crossed the line at Eagle Point Resort at a snail’s pace, at this point I was in no mans land in 4th and was racing only myself; no need to sprint the line.
The support, people, and course made this race. It was like no other I had ever done and it stands in a niche all its own. This day in the Tushar Mountains has become special to me, and its something I hope to enjoy/suffer in each year.
Now back to Utah on the 24th to compete in the Dealer Camp Raleigh cross race. This will be my last big push to win sponsorship so that I can continue the dream of racing and riding for the upcoming season. Wish me luck!
Read more on the race on Cycling News here.
I admit, it’s a bit hard to write this as my brain is still foggy from the physical abuse I just put myself through. I asked for it, wanted the challenge, and certainly got it.
This past weekend was the inaugural Spy Belgian Waffle Race/Ride event. How they talked me into riding, more like racing, 200K during my off-season is beyond me. I mean the blog posts and emails were so tempting with phases such as this, “The purpose of the Belgian Waffle Ride, however, is not to have fun. It is to crush and destroy people. More specifically, people like you, and people like me.”.
To tell you all the embarrassing truth, I have only ridden 100 miles once in my life and 124, never! I know, I know you all say, “but you’re a professional surely you’ve ridden this far somewhat often”; and I say, “Hell No”. I love my bike. I like the way it has become an extension of my body, maybe even my soul but, I don’t really want to sit on it for 7 plus hours at one time. Hence the reason I was a downhiller and now cyclocrosser, short races. Don’t get me wrong, I could spend all day at the bike park or on the mountain bike, but that is a different kind of play.
So again, why did I say yes? Because I’ve always said no before and in the past few years I have been working to conquer all my fears and weaknesses on the bike. I want to own it all.
This year it started with BWR. Michael Marckx also know as MMX is SPYs head honcho and the master mind behind this evil ride. This man is a leader of men, a badass endurance athlete, and lets all around him know that he will not tolerate slacking, whining or any other form of weakness. He created this ride to weed out the rift-raft and most cracked before the ride even started.
The ride was fashioned around the spring classics. The specifics are 124 miles with 9,200 ft of climbing set in the North County San Diego mountains, with most of the gnarly steep climbs starting after mile 90, just when you are about to say, “that wasn’t too bad”, and I did.
We started the morning at SPY headquarters with Belgian waffles, eggs, coffee and an announcement that all freeloading, cheating, or whining would be silenced by the issue of a purple card. If you receive one of these you might as well take a different route home and skip swashbuckling with the boys, this is the mark of shame. I hadn’t heard or seen another women that was doing the ride, I was alone in this, or so I thought. I had joined the shit talking and made a toast the evening before telling all the guys I would make them feel like “baby girls”, but of course it was all talk with not much to back it up. We started off on what was supposed to be a neutral 20 miles, and it was anything but. I could already feel the yo-yo effect from the 160 rider peloton and the stop and go from town riding was already testing my legs. I heard many mumble, “so much for that neutral start”.
We made it out-of-town and hit the first uphill dirt section, this is where the group started to separate. My legs already weakened by the pace told me to slow my roll. I let the first group break off and I settled into a pack of 10-15 über fit looking dudes. I knew that I did not want to do this ride solo, my pace would slow, the wind would blow, and my mind would drift, making this horribly long ride even longer. I did everything I could to stay with a pack but to also pace myself for the long haul. I was doing this ride faster than I thought I would. Its funny and amazing what the body can do when you need it to. I have been working on my climbing and was pleased to see and feel that my hard work was being rewarded on the climbs this day. There wasn’t much talking, something I’m not used to as us women like to chat it up to pass the time. The boys were serious and I could sense an inner dialogue going through everyone’s heads.
Feed stations had all you needed except for time. Everyone was in such a rush to get back on the bike that there was no time to drink, eat, pee, anything. Bottles and wrappers were flying, just hurried gulps were taken from coke cans. I had heard that some of the lead men couldn’t even stop to eat for fear they would be passed or left behind. It was mayhem and I felt for the volunteers who had to clean up behind our tornado. Again, all I knew was I did not want to ride alone!
The roads were gorgeous, I felt like I was riding in Europe. The geography in the hills of San Diego is breathtaking. Each road felt completely different, they had the course dialed. We rode through farmland, connected through dirt roads with water crossings, over gates, under canopies of trees, up one steep hill after another, and down twisting turning slaloming roads.
The day was warm and I could see the salt building up on my skin, a reminder to keep drinking and eating, often. Slowly I watched one after another succumb to cramping. Men were dropping like flies, those big fit muscles were using all they could to stay hydrated and the sun and wind was drawing it out of all of us. The last feed station all anyone wanted were salt tablets and electrolytes.
Mile 90 came and I thought well, this is hard but nothing too bad. 35 miles to go, it wont get any worse. Well I thought too soon. Next thing I knew the road had turned up a notch and it was one steep relentless climb after another. The course was now taunting and teasing us as it would lead up one hill only to do a u turn at the top, and down and up another hill. The last big one and the certainly the hardest of the ride came at around mile 110 on Double Peak Road, aptly named for sure. My knees already felt like they were going to explode and when they felt the torque of this hill I could actually hear them screaming. I believe the grade was around 18%. I have never cramped from riding my bike and but today would be my first. I seized and had to stop, this is when I discovered that I was not the only woman out there. She passed me with a whisper, “this is just dumb”. I got back on my bike and learned something new…the paper boy. It was so steep that I had to swerve side to side using the width of the road, taking 7 minutes to get up a section that should have taken 3. Again, u turn then head back down. I then reverted back to my childhood car rides and asked “are we almost there?”. At this point in a ride we are supposed to be given a break right? Not according to Mr. MMX, you will suffer and like it and if you don’t too bad, HTFU!
14 miles and half a dozen small climbs later, I crossed the line with a big smile on my face. I had a blast, tested the limits of my body and had a deep satisfaction that I had accomplished another personal first and had done it well. I am guessing that I finished mid pack, and was happy with my company. Thanks guys, you know who you are.
It felt foreign to even get off the bike, my body did not want to straighten and my legs didn’t want to walk. But, I did, walk straight to get a massage, then beer, then food. We all sat around and told stories of the day and all agreed that the last climb was a ‘bitch’. The ceremony was commenced by a witty MMX doling out the colored jerseys and glasses for different leaders and making sure to point purple fingers at those who deserved them.
I feel lucky to have been part of such an epic event filled with such passion for the sport. SPY raised over 5,000 dollars through this event to benefit EyeMobile for Children. No detail was left unturned, no expense spared, this was truly a top-notch pro event. SPY does it right, and supports a huge cycling community that everyone is proud to be a part of, especially me! Thanks Victor, Alain, Michael and everyone at SPY for making it happen, I know it took a lot of dedication and hard work.
So here’s to the last week of looking at a training schedule for 5 months. Every week for the last eight months I have looked to my Google calendar sent by my Fascat coach, Frank Overton for guidance as to what to do with these legs on the bike. There were certainly days that I wanted to ignore the calendar and honestly there were days when I did. Sorry Frank. For the most part I regarded it as my religion, my daily pennance. If the workout didn’t feel right I would just call Frank and we would discuss and come up with a new plan. If I wasn’t feeling motivated again I would call Frank and he would inflate me just enough to either get me out on the road or get me in the training center. Being able to do a workout at Fascat ended up being a Godsend as the days got colder, the snow got deeper, and sometimes I just needed someone to hold me accountable.
These are the three things that helped me the most in having a coach.
#1 The support and motivation given when you need it most. Coach is just a phone call away willing and ready to tell you what you need to hear to keep the ball rolling. Someone that has your best cycling interest in mind is always there for you, and if your coach isn’t around there is always another Fascat coach willing and able to step in and help. It’s a team effort.
#2 Resources! Lactate Threshold Testing, Oxygen training, Space Legs, Motor-pacing, Indoor training classes, Physical Therapy, someone looking over your shoulder telling you to harden the f*@k up.
#3 The actual training program, the varied and new workouts, specifics when needed, preparation for specific races, building, tapering, power feedback, etc.
My season had its ebbs and flows as every season does, but I stayed more consistent. I discovered workouts with my coach that addressed my weaknesses towards the middle of the season and changed how my body reacted to these adverse conditions. I would have never done so many interval workouts in a row and would have never gotten so concentrated and specific. After I got used to it, I found solace in these workouts and looked forward to them as they helped pass the time quickly on the trainer. I also knew how much they were improving my fitness as some of my better races towards the end of the season didn’t quit feel so gut wrenching.
The point is, in my 17 years of racing bikes I had never had a coach. I wasn’t sure I really needed one. After this experience I now know that if I want to be my best, I do. Me, myself, is not enough. Everyone needs support, someone to back them, reassurance, a different perspective.
I want to thank Frank (my main man always with the plan and a pat on the back), Jason (the best motor-pacer any girl could ask for), Jon (your ear was always there to bend and you kept the oxygen flowing), Peter (always a smile and a word of encouragement), Ann for fixing my boo-boos, and Alison for your welcoming, encouraging, and beaming smile.
Now that Nationals are over I have the time and mind space to look back. I have to say that I was the most nervous I have been all season for this race, rightfully so. I arrived at the race on Thursday night, in my opinion one day too early. All it did was give me more time to focus on the course and how nervous I was. No distraction from family.
I arrived to the course on Friday to find it beautiful and sunny, very unexpected for Madison in January. I had imagined having to wear every bit of clothing I owned and sticking toe warmers in my shoes. I was so grateful for, in my opinion perfect cross weather, cool and muddy. The course changed hourly and daily. There would be a harder freeze the night before our race which would be to my advantage. I wanted frozen ruts with a thin-film of thawing mud to create the sketchiest conditions possible. The course had a lot of elevation gain so the more technical the better.
I hadn’t raced since my State Championships three weeks earlier so I had no idea what my race formwas like. Christmas break with the kids off school and lots of snow proved hard to stay motivated as I just wanted to relax into the holidays. I kept telling myself, “this is your time don’t let it pass without putting everything you have into it”. I don’t want to have any regrets about what I should have done. With this being said I also give myself a break knowing all I have to juggle and only ask myself to try my hardest and this will have to be good enough.
Sunday, race day, had finally arrived and the morning was cooler than any of the others had been. YES! The ground would stay frozen longer and this is what I was hoping for. The course was not my favorite but I felt it was fair. I lined up on the front row and I could feel the tension steaming off all of us. The line up took longer than usual as there were around 75 of us, a great field of talented women. I wiggled on the line trying to stay warm and maybe shaking off some of the nerves. I couldn’t wait to stop thinking and just start racing.
The whistle blew and we were off. Not a perfect start for me as I missed my peddle several times but managed to be in second behind Katie Compton after the first big right-hander. Compton was gone. Meredith and I would battle in the beginning only to watch her fall in one of the technical sections ahead of me. I passed her and never saw her again. By this time it was me and my team-mate Katie Antonneau. We switched positions for half of the race and with two laps to go she put the power down on the big climb and left me dangling behind. Bye Katie… Not far behind was Teal Stetson-Lee and I seemed to be loosing steam. Teal passed me and I told myself to be calm and ride my own race. In a moment of reflection, I watched the girls in front of me and thought to myself, that is the future of the sport and was proud. I kept Teal in sight always making sure to push a little extra in the sections I knew I could. The last lap came and I knew I had a chance and wanted third badly. I rode the first half of the course and planned the attack in my head along the way. I wanted to catch her before the last technical section in the infield and ride away smoothly. I did exactly that, it had worked perfectly and I was on my way to third putting second after second into the red bombshell, Teal. Crossing the line I was happy with third and happy to see my team-mate Katie be the one ahead of me. She had earned every bit of the second place finish. The primary emotion going through me was relief, it was over and I had done my best and finished well. The nerves were finally gone.
I have to say I had a lot of encouragement along the way from our tight-knit cross community in Boulder, my sponsors and family. This is what makes success so sweet, is sharing it with people you care about. My heart is full, and I want to thank each and every one of you for that.
Now I am on to the last World Cup of the season and hopefully World Championships to represent the USA (the official selection will be announced this Thursday). A dream come true! xoN
It’s been a while since i’ve crossed the pond, ten years in fact. Paris was my last stop over there and a bike certainly wasn’t involved.
It all began with the dream and goal of making the Worlds Team for 2012. One European trip to qualify and make it happen. Yes my family would suffer a bit but i knew they would understand and one day my kids would realize why i had done it.
The night before leaving for my flight i have to say i was a little conflicted and wondered if i was doing the right thing. My husband asked me “are you excited ?” and i replied, “i’m not sure”. The next morning both my Thule bags packed and a double bike bag stuffed to the gills, weighed in at 47.7 lbs, thank God my bikes are light. Now, i’m excited. Two weeks to myself, no one to feed, no extra laundry, no poopie diapers, no hairs to cut, and no one to answer to but myself.
As a side note, i do have to say that racing at this level and traveling every weekend is a hell of a lot harder than i thought it would be with a family.
I flew into Frankfurt to have my summer riding buddy and hottie bike phenom Julie Krasniak, pick me up and drive me to her home in Metz, France. We would spend only a short time there and would move on to Plzen, Czech for the first World Cup.
My first and only full day in Metz was dreamy. I woke to coffee, Nutella and GF bread (Julies’ mom had set me up), we then made our way to downtown Metz, strolled the streets, shopped, ate crepes, toured the cathedral and returned home for a ride with Julies’ Dad. The ride was beautiful and we meandered through the country side for two and half hours and were entertained by Isbig, Julies’ charasmatic and jovial father. (Julie is now rolling her eyes) Then home to a French family dinner cooked by Julies Mama. Ok, this is going to be GREAT!
WORLD CUP #1 Plzen, Czech
I’ve arrived and found my team, not hard as i see we have the coolest Mercedes rig in the pits. I walk in to find a door that says riders only, open it to discover towels and other comforts laid out for us, a tv screen playing music videos for us to enjoy in our down time, and heat! Seriously? That’s it i’ve hit the big time! I know, i’m supposed to act cool and pretend that this just the way pros roll but you know what i’m going to get excited, take pictures, and giggle at how fun it all really is.
I have to say for my first cyclocross World Cup experience i don’t feel nervous. There are no expectations over here and the venue has a calmer feel. The course is great, lots of corners, a decent downhill and no straight away that i can’t handle. I am starting mid pack, something i’m not quite used to this year. The green light blinks and we’re off. These girls start hard and strong, all of them. I fight for decent position and find myself around 20th. Patience i tell myself and move up “slowly”, i’m now in a pack riding 8th, wow this isn’t so bad. I make a few rookie mistakes on the course bobble and loose some spots but i am solidly in 11th approaching the last lap. Last downhill, i take the line i’ve been taking every lap only to find the banner has come loose on the inside of the corner just to clip my handlebar and throw me twirling through the air to the ground. I scramble to get up and realize my right shoe has come off and the left shoe rachet has released the strap. Weird! I put the chain back on and then my shoes, no time to cinch down ratchets. Two people pass me including Meredith Miller. I pedal on the bumpy grass all the while reaching down to ratchet shoes with every stroke, impossible. I see the finish line, with Meredith right in front of me. The result is 14th, happy and sad all in one exhale over the line. I have done it, made a qualification for the Worlds Team, my goal, but have lost the race for my best position. My team is happy, and they make me feel better telling me that this was a great race for my first WC. I agree, and move on to cheer my teammates.
We move on after the race that evening to the Cannondale Factory Racing headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, Kernan to be exact. Daniel and Jack, the CFR Mtn Bike World Cup Team manager and mechanic are our hosts. The small village of Kernan is quaint and has the few things we need for the week, a grocery store, bakery, and vineyards! Monday the boys take me for a ride that they have scouted the week before. The village sits in the bottom of a bowl and the sides are planted with vineyards and orchards. We meander through the small paths built to access the fruit. The boys say nothing but i am bursting inside with awe and excitement for how amazing the ride is. I say ” well i don’t want to freak out or anything but this is INCREDIBLE!”, they recognize this and tell me just last week they couldn’t hide their excitement either and told me it was cool to let loose. We stop and pick apples, grapes, talk to the locals, feed goats, get lost, take pictures, and appreciate the vistas. It’s fall, harvest season and the towns people are in the yards pulling grapes, does it get any more romantic than this? Well, maybe, with my husband.
The rest of the week is filled with rides, food, laughter ( my teammates are a constant source of entertainment), relaxation. I haven’t had a week like this in over 10 years, seriously. Oh, so this is the pro bike racer life without family…i had forgotten and taken it for granted all those years ago as a downhiller. How lucky am i to do this in two distinctively different phases of my life, talk about perspective.
WORLD CUP #2 TABOR, CZECH
We arrive in Tabor after a long 6+ hr drive from Germany to the most “Roztomily” old town square and hotel. Roztomily, Czech for “cute”, becomes the word of the weekend as Tim points out that i think everything is “so cute”. I still can’t say this word without laughing…guess you had to be there. Anyway, again i am in heaven, the hotel is gorgeous and the food divine. So much for the hard life of a bike racer, i am thankful. Oh yeah, i’m here to race my bike, that’s right.
The boys continue to make fun of me as i take pictures constantly of the European skyline, something they’ve become used to over the years.
The race, i’m a little nervous, for some reason i don’t feel ready. Maybe it has something to do with the poundage gained from all the chocolate and relaxation…i had slipped into vacation mode. Oh yeah and now there’s that expectation thing.
The course is good but not to my advantage as there is a lot of climbing, one day i will conquer this climbing deficiency. Race day and all i can hear are the crowds rolling in, instruments in hand chanting “Steebie Steebie Steebie”, the call of their hero Sybar. The support, excitement, bleachers, beer drinking, flag waving, oversized tv screens, and crowds are everything i had heard WCups would be. To the line, and i would be fourth row. Green light goes and my start for lack of a better word just, SUCKS. I am caught in the last third of the group and all i can do is just watch the front of the race distance itself from me second after second. There is no way to make up for this especially on the hard climb consuming a third of the course. My legs don’t have it so i settle in to race my own race, mid pack. For the Americans, it’s pretty exciting as we are all together in one group. Me, Amy, Mo, and Meredith battling it out together as if we had never left The States. The climb wore on me lap after lap and i swear i could see stars at the top every time. Last lap and as expected Amy and Meredith put the move on mid climb. I couldn’t make the move with them so i resigned to take my place behind them, i had done my best, all i can ask of myself. I finished across the line in 17th in a lost sprint with Gabby Day, one fast Brit.
It was over, i wasn’t too happy but now the pressure was off and i could relax. Over the last few days i’d began to physically ache for my children, looking at their picture on my phone literally every 10 minutes. I was in the home stretch and now wanted no more to do with Europe and everything to do with my family.
The last night, our crew had talked me into going out for dinner in Prague. I had resigned to take dinner in the airport hotel room and an early night knowing what was to come at home. We drove the 40 mins to the city and i was immediately thankful, for Prague was the most beautifully majestic city i have ever been. Camera out, of course and i couldn’t get enough. If only i could spend one more week here, i thought. A trip i will reserve for another time.
Home to my family after a 20 hr travel day, I am tired and wrecked but it feels so amazing to have my children in my arms the next morning, the happy ending to my trip.
This time in my life is a gift. These experiences fill me up. I am thankful, and humbled. I owe it all to those who believe in me and support me. I realize that this is a special path that only few get to take, i’m going to stop and smell the roses.
SRAM European Sponsorship manager Jason “Shags” Phillips recently had three priorities for his recent trip to the US: meet with co-workers for 2012 planning discussions, visit sponsored teams at the Pro Cycling Challenge in CO, and get a haircut. Lovingly criticized for having the “worst hair” of any SRAMee by co-worker Alex Wassmann, Phillips agreed to an appointed styling session. It was then that SRAM sponsored pro and do-it-all superwoman Nicole Duke invited Shags to her basement studio for the hairdo redo.
Duke is a professional cyclocross racer, current masters national champion, and newest member of the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com professional team. She is also a mom, wife, coach, gardener, nationally ranked paddle boarder, mountain biker, road racer, former pro downhiller, and, as we learned, a talented hair stylist. The busy Boulder resident shares a home with her husband Ben and two energetic kids in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains’ foothills.
The session in the comfy basement studio, where famous hair falls to the floor regularly, was smooth and painless. Phillips was the perfect angel in the chair, only squirming a few times when co-workers offered to help. Operation Shaggy reduction was a complete success. Thanks again to Nicole Duke for her time, consideration, and helping de-Shaggify Shags.