Tuesday, July 31, 2007

NMBS#5: Sugar Mountain National, Banner Elk, NC: July 28-29, 2007

Well, I finally made it to Boone, North Carolina where we were hosted by the marvelous Dave Frye, whom we met in the Trans Rockies last year. Unfortunately his wife Beth was off road racing, but it was still amazing to finally make it there almost a year after the initial conversation of "you'll have to stay with us when you race at Sugar." After my hellish travel day on Tuesday, Dave and I headed out for a ride around Boone, just to spin out the legs. We got caught in an amazing thunderstorm and downpour that would rival any rain we have in Portland. It was pretty amazing and I was soaked to the bone. Dave actually had to head out Thursday for a sales meeting in California, so I had the run of the house and had the watchful eye of Angelo, their somewhat neurotic dog who really likes no one. We never did become friends.
Emily and I headed up to Sugar Mountain on Thursday to ride the course. I don't know if you could actually call it 'riding' the way we descended the slick rocky, rooty singletrack. It was challenging, but the only interesting part of the course. The 30+ minute climb was quite benign and nothing to write home about. The descent would keep you honest, however.
I headed back to the course on Friday with Cass, another teammate, and Rich, one of Tim's competitors, to conquer my fears and learn to ride. Rich was helpful in reminding me to relax and just look forward. I was feeling much better about the race. And Tim would arrive late afternoon and find out what he was in for on Sunday.

RACE DAY #1: Cross Country, Saturday, July 28th
I probably had the worst night of sleep I have ever had the night before the race. Not because of nerves, but because I felt like a punching bag for Tim, who seemed to have been boxing in his dreams. It wasn't good, but oh well. I can ride my bike without sleep. Just not as well. And today was our 6th anniversary. I told Tim I would ride fast for him.
I had a great line up and an o.k. start, but somehow on the climb, I let my group get away. I decided I had to climb that hill three times and I would settle in. I think I settled too much. I rode well. No major crashes. Walked the 2 sections I intended to and kept the rubber side down. A little sliding around, but I did look forward to the climb. Things were going well, but I found myself riding alone until the third lap when I let myself get passed. At one point I looked back and saw orange (a Bear Naked teammate). Who was that? It was Cass and she was coming after me. I kept pedaling and managed to stave her off to the top of the climb and was afraid she may catch me on the descent if I didn't ride clean. Well, when being chased, you don't ride calm and relaxed. A minor head into the tree in a slide out, but other than that, I put some time back on her and finished in 20th. I needed a little kick in the pants, so thanks Cass!

Emily & I hamming it up prior to call ups in short track, the 20 minutes of pain!

RACE DAY #2: All about Tim and my Short Track: Sunday, July 29th

I love having Tim at the races, but I don't really like his start times. And he had 3 races today. An unprecedented event! Cross Country at 8:30, Short Track at 1, and Super D at 4:30. It was going to be a long day. I had Short Track at 3:00, but my day started at 5:45 when I selflessly woke up and made Tim (& his buddy Rich) some french toast and coffee. Once my job was done, I tried to go back to sleep and would attempt to get to the race just before the first lap was over. With little success of sleep, I left the house at 8 and just missed his start. I headed to the feed zone and waited for Tim to come through. He was doing great and had a great race, finishing 2nd behind his buddy Rich. Then the podium was at 11, so no nap. I was the photographer. Then I had to watch his short track. It was exciting. Only the 3rd national stx this year, he had a great call up and it was 'open men', which meant all ages. From 15-65. Tim ended up 6th, which was pretty awesome just a few hours after his XC race. Then it was my turn. I readied myself, got in the zone and tried to turn out a great result, but for some reason it just didn't go that way. It wasn't my best race, it hurt a lot, I felt like puking afterwards and I ended up 24th. Hmmmm? Perhaps one does need sleep prior to racing. But there was still Tim's super D. Would this day ever end? It did and Tim got 6th in Super D and some excellent war wounds. But it was time to celebrate, so stinky and dirty, we headed back to Boone, met up with others at the Black Cat and had burritos and beer. A great way to end the weekend.

Tim & Rich on the podium for XC: at least someone in our family is a winner!

Cass, Tim and I after a really long day!!! Always having fun.

Race afterthoughts: Initially I was really disappointed in myself, because I didn't do as well as I had wanted to. But I have to realize that some weekends you have it and some you don't. This didn't turn out to be the weekend that I was feeling the best, or maybe lack of sleep played into it. I really don't know. But, I did have fun and always enjoy spending time in new places with new people. I can't say STX was really 'fun', but it is over. And I get to look forward to the next race and try again. The season is winding down. I can hardly believe it is almost August and in less than 2 weeks I will have completed my first season as a pro. Time really does fly when you are having fun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Is it really quicker to fly to North Carolina from Vermont?!?!

Sometimes travels are epic in a good way and sometimes not. Although I had 2 teammates driving to NC, I opted to fly because it would be faster and I didn't want to sit in a car for 14-15 hours. Little did I know that my entire travel day would be almost 19 hours. We departed our 'lodge' at 4 a.m. after waking the caretaker to get the garage open to retrieve our bikes we hadn't loaded the night prior. Then we got lost and drove 70 miles extra, putting us at the airport just a half hour before Bretts flight. Then the rental car place was closed and I had to park at the airport in long term parking and walk with my bike, bag and wheel box about a mile to the terminal. Heck, by 7 a.m. I had put in a full day. Or so I thought. Delayed out of Albany, I missed my connection, which they then re-routed me via Atlanta to Greensboro. After numerous delays, we boarded the plane, only to deplane and get on another plane due to mechanical issues with a radio. Then we sat on the plane, only to find out this one had a mechanical and they were going to fix it and it would take another hour. But then it was decided that a third plane would be our ticket out of Atlanta. I was imagining my cardboard box and my bike being loaded and unloaded 3 extra times. I finally did make it out of Atlanta and instead of getting into Greensboro before noon, I was there by 8:30 p.m. Finally got my rental car and drove to Boone. I arrived at our gracious hosts house, Dave & Beth Frye, shortly before 11 p.m HMMMM? I should have driven.

Monday, July 23, 2007

USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships: July 20-22

This adventure is much different that the spontaneous trip to Sonoma last year, driving straight from Deer Valley after qualifying. Flying everything out to the east coast is a bit of an ordeal, flying with bikes and spending a couple of weeks out here. I actually flew out early on Sunday the week prior (July 15th) with Tim and my bikes and headed to Albany, NY to meet Brett Nichols and then on to Wilmington to meet my parents and niece and nephew who had driven from MN. I had a delay out of Atlanta and a bit of a rental car debacle, but we made it. Mom and Dad had rented a condo for a week, so we settled into our new 'home' until Saturday. Brett and I rode the course on Monday and Tuesday in sunny and dry conditions. It was awesome. There was however, rain in the forecast, and not just a little bit. It was going to make things very interesting. We took Wednesday off and then rode the course on Thursday when it was semi-slick, but Friday was race day. The course was going to be even more slick as the rain continued to come down. Tim arrived on Thursday evening and my dad went to retrieve him from Albany later than expected due to delays, but not too bad. I was able to get to bed at a reasonable hour, b/c the next day was race day...

Race day #1: Friday, July 20, 2007: Cross Country
We headed to the venue pretty early and started to get ready. Tim got registered and rode the course and I headed to the Cannondale tent and started warming up on the trainer. It has been a while since I have raced and getting on a trainer seemed somewhat foreign. Was I ready? for this? Rumor had it the course was going to include a lot of walking sections that were no longer rideable. Not even for the best riders. Race time was 2:00 p.m. I had a surprisingly good call up. I was in the second row right behind Sue Haywood. Out of the gate, I heard everyone cheering for "Sue", so I pretended it was me. I had a fairly good start, but it was another story when we hit the single track. It was a free for all. And once someone crashes in front of you, you are pretty much screwed. I flailed a bit, but eventually found my rhythm. It was hard, especially when you were forced off your bike to walk for at least a quarter of a mile in sloppy, slippery mud. This was a section you could ride on Thursday. How things had changed. But I plugged away and eventually finished 16th. I had no major crashes, just little stupid ones. I experienced a bit of calf cramping and problems getting into my pedals and one good knock into my right leg. I am sitting here icing it while I type. It hurts more than I thought. Well, there is still short track and Tim races tomorrow. Looking forward to supporting him at 8 a.m.
My first finish at Nationals as a pro: 16th place
Race Day # 2: Saturday, July 21, 2007: Tim's XC w/ me in the feed zone
After getting Tim to the venue, I took a short spin and then met him at the start gate. It wasn't looking good, b/c he didn't get there early to get a great position. Oh well. We thought he would get a call up, b/c he was ranked so high in the NMBS, but he didn't. No worries. By the climb, he had worked his way up to third from what I could see from down below. I headed up to the feed zone and there I waited. And waited. And waited. I kept looking for him and the guys with a 9 written on there leg came and went, then 10's and 11's and then the women came. Hmmm? Where was Tim? I started to panic a bit and then worry that he would be in the medical tent. I started walking my way back on the course to try to find him. It was probably a mechanical, but I was worried and disappointed for him. Eventually Brett and I saw a guy walking his bike and sure enough, it was Tim. He had a flat in the front. The tire blew off the rim and so much mud and gunk got in there, that it would re-seed and he ran out of air before he could get a tube in there. The race was over for him. But he remained in good spirits and was looking forward to short track.
Tim getting ready to give 'er! His great start didn't pay off in this one.
Race Day #3: Sunday, July 22, 2007: Short Track
My race was not until 5 p.m. A long wait for a short race, but Tim raced at 10:45. I drove to the venue and he rode up there, then I got ready and went for a short spin prior to his race. And then I got my yell on. Tim had a great race. It was open 30+ and there were 26 guys in the race. Tim was the last one to not get pulled and he finished 10th. Only seconds separated the winner from the rest of the pack, so it was a good race and very fun to watch. It got me excited for my race.
The day drug on and by the time Brett raced, I was so antsy, I needed to get out and went up to the venue a bit early to cheer him on too, to an 8th place finish. Our race was now less than 2 hours away. I could pretend to start getting ready. Tim was on his way to the airport with my dad, so he was not going to be there.
I warmed up by taking a few laps, hopping on the trainer and then back on the course for a few more laps before the staging. Again, I had a great call up and lined myself in the second row between Georgia and Shonny. I actually had a moment to reflect and think about where the heck I was and just marvel in the fact that never in a million years did I think I would be standing in that very spot. It was kind of amazing. But then it was time to get ready to fight my way through the half hour of pain. The gun went off. It wasn't my best start, b/c I was in the wrong gear, but recovered o.k. The leaders were already off the front and I fought to grab a wheel and stay in. And stay in I did. For the second time this season, I finished a short track race and this was a short short track. When I saw Frosty there with the 1 to go sign, I couldn't believe it. I finished in 13th. And I didn't get lapped. That in itself was quite an accomplishment. And with that, the weekend of racing was over. I was able to enjoy watching the men, cheering on fellow Oregonians.
Me, Emily & Cass post Nationals celebration

Race afterthoughts: Mt. Snow proved to be more of a mountain biking venue vs. some races when you are just riding mountain bikes. I had set some high goals for myself, which I did not reach, but I have to step back and realize that for my first year, I did well. It was great having my mom and dad and niece and nephew there. Abi and Alec were the best cheerleaders ever! I heard them each lap of the short track. It was fun. And isn't having fun what this is all about...

My "Bear Naked" kids: Abi & Alec

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The heat was on! The last Mt. Tabor Series race: July 11, 2007

While we are experiencing near melting temperatures here in Portland, the race must go on. It was very tempting when Wendy arrived at our house and said "don't you guys think a movie would be more fun?" Our house was like an oven, and although the breeze you get from riding felt better than the sweltering heat in the house, it was a hot ride up to the park. Racing really didn't sound very fun, but once there, and after the start, you forgot how darn hot it is and just have some fun. And it was a lot of fun. I don't know exactly how the whole race went down, but what I do know is that for the first time ever, Wendy and I were able to work as a team. The initial start was a bit slow and then there were some charges by some of the gals. The first prime I didn't get. Then they had 2 in a row. I did get both of those and on the second one I won, it seemed a bit lonely out front. At the crest of the hill after the start/finish, I looked behind and there was one other gal and then Wendy came around the corner and said, 'let's go'. No one else was in sight. We had dropped the pack. Wendy let me take a rest and the three of us finished the rest of the race out front. Melissa, who had won the previous 5 races was no where to be seen. This was definitely a first. On the final hill, Wendy was 'leading me out' and I stuck behind her as long as I could and then half way up the last climb, I went. I wasn't alone, however, but my legs carried me faster than the other gal and for the first time, I crossed the line with no one in front of me!!! Wendy followed closely behind in 3rd. It was nice to come back from a short taper before nationals to have a good hard effort and feel strong and ready to race. The countdown to nationals begins...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Fresh mountain air & sweet singletrack: July 7-8, 2007

It's hard to believe that it was the weekend already when Friday rolled around and we rolled out of town back to the cabin. A rare treat this summer to be at the cabin two weekends in a row, not to mention mid-week. And with the temperatures rising in Portland and Hood River, it was nice to be up higher and in the cooler mountain air. It was perfect. Tim and I had a nice dinner on the deck Friday night after he took a ride. We still can not believe how lucky we are to have such an awesome place to call home on the weekends.
Saturday we woke up and had french toast and waited for Patrick and Anita to arrive. On my training plan I had a 'race simulation'. This was instead of driving 5 hours to a mountain bike race in Bellingham, so although not my ideal way to ride singletrack, we headed out in the afternoon to our 'race'. We got to the trailhead only to find Tim had forgotten his bag with his shoes and helmet, so back to the cabin we went and had a major 'race delay' on our hands. At least the 'race' was on a good trail, so riding it 3-4 times didn't seem so bad. It went o.k. and I think we both won. :)
After our race, we headed back to the cabin and Anita had some fabulous snacks awaiting the hungry bikers. Snacks were followed by showers, showers by dinner, dinner by entertainment, including Tim & Patrick making our view of Mt. Hood's summit visible from the deck, and then a star gazing session before we went to bed. All but me apparently saw 'the most amazing, bright shooting star'. I saw my own, but they all saw the topper for the evening.

mountain men getting 'er done

Sunday was a much better ride with an out and back on Surveyors Ridge. Patrick has not ridden any of the trails on our side of the mountain, so it is always fun to have someone on the ride for the first time. A more relaxed ride and fantastic views and good company. A very nice day. Nationals is 2 weeks away and this is my last week at home before flying out to Vermont to hook up with my parents and niece and nephew. I'm excited, but also sad to see summer going by so fast.

Patrick & Tim taking in the view

Tim rockin' the rocks on Surveyors

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

RAMHOOD: July 4th, 2007

What is RAMHOOD, you ask? Well, Ride Around Mt. Hood, of course. We had tenatively set departure time for 10 a.m. in case any non-overnight guests would join us, but we set out a bit later, approximately 10:30. It was Tim, Patrick Wilder, Brant Ness, Rob & Heidi Schultz and myself setting out for the journey. The idea was to circumnavigate around the mountain on our road bikes. We started at the cabin, rode down to Parkdale, forded the West Fork Hood River where the bridge is out, climbed FR16, descended to Lolo Pass Road and rode that towards Hwy 26, surviving the almost 5 mile gravel section. Then east on Hwy 26 to Hwy 35, which took us back to Cooper Spur Road and home. When all was said and done, it was about 85 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. Not a bad day. I'll let the pictures tell the story...

The beginning and end of it all: the Butler cabin.

Tim & Brant starting to ford the river, climbing the bolders.

Heidi & Rob finishing the crossing with Patrick's assistance.

The views weren't bad on FR 16, which made the hour plus climb more enjoyable.

The crew at the 'top' and turnaround point for Rob & Heidi.

Sue & Tim smiling with 65+ miles to go in the hot sun.

Tim on Lolo Pass Road.

Patrick found a great way to beat the heat.

Mt. Hood really looks good from all angles.

The lupine on the side of the road kept me smiling for miles.

Despite the heat, our July 4th adventure was a success. The gravel section was a lot slower and more difficult on road bikes than I anticipated. We were without incident though. I have never been so happy to have the grocery store in Rhododendron open. It was a relief to get some cold ice water back in the bottles, although I never did get my ice cream cone at DQ. Only one flat (me) on hwy. 26 while the boys were ahead enjoying burgers at Ski Bowl. We had a great time and are already planning for the second annual. Are you ready to join us???

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Great weekend of riding & Short Track Series #2: July 2, 2007

I love riding my mountain bike. It was pretty much a perfect weekend! Granted, Tim and I succumbed to riding the same trail 2 days in a row, b/c Wendy and Brant wanted to do 15-mile too, and we had sampled it the day prior. It was in great shape and really too much fun!!! Saturday Tim and I got a 'texas alpine start', meaning Tim sleeps in and we don't start our ride until well after noon, but we were in no hurry. It was just the two of us. We did an extended version of 15 mile and rode for about 4 hours. That climb on 15 mile is never easy, but so worth the descent. When we returned from our ride, Brant Ness and O'malley were sitting on the stairs, so we had a great dinner with them. Erin had to go home, but around midnight, Wendy showed up with the dogs. We got a much earlier start on Sunday and again, had a great ride. So many of the trails up high aren't opened yet, so riding the same trail with a little different twist wasn't so horrible.
Wendy and I stayed up at the cabin Sunday night and after a movie and a wicked game of gin, we awoke to an amazingly beautiful morning on the mountain. We sat on the deck drinking coffee enjoying the peace and quiet I have come to crave. It is truly my favorite place on earth. We went and rode Surveyors Ridge as an out and back, but had a turn around time so we could make it back to Portland for Short Track!
I made it home in enough time to put on new bike clothes, throw some stuff in my bag and take off with Tim to ride up to PIR. At least this week we were not running late. Tim made it for his Singlespeed race, which I think he took 5th. Wendy was a bit late, but even though they had started 3-4 minutes prior, she jumped in to race the race. I raced with the expert men again and this time had a much better start. My goal was to try to catch Tim. He was on a single speed and doing his second race of the night. Well, with almost 3 laps to go, I hear this noise and feel something spraying on my leg. It's that noise that you just know the race is over for you and it is pure disappointment. I had a rear flat. It was a big enough gouge in my back tire that the stans did not fill it. I was about 20 minutes into the race and sitting in the top 10, really having fun, so I was disappointed to not be able to finish, especially since it was my last short track for the season. But, it is just for fun and no reason to get bent out of shape. It is all a part of racing and after tearing down and helping load the truck post race, we did our monday night burrito run with friends. That is what short track is all about...