Monday, May 26, 2008

Home sweet home! A 3-day weekend at the cabin!

My time spent at the cabin is precious this year! With so much travel and racing, my weekends up at Hood are limited. Granted, most of our singletrack is still under snow, but we always find a way to have fun on 2 wheels!
If the trails are under snow, we will do the next best thing. Ride on all the forest roads in the area on our cross bikes. This is how we spent our Saturday. To our surprise, road 44 was melted out enough to get to our favorite trailheads. Sure, there was snow, but one lane was opened apparently all the way to Dufur. We found our way to the road parallel to surveyors ridge. This was clear and 99% free of snow. Of course, being that close to the singletrack, it seemed to have a force drawing us closer that we could not fight. All of a sudden I was heading right for the singletrack and Tim had to follow. I love riding singletrack on my cross bike. It shouldn't be long now before the sun melts the rest of the snow and the blow down is cleared and mountain biking can begin. The section we rode was pretty dry, but it was the exposed ridge that gets all the sun. It was a sweet. But, back to reality and forest roads. 50 miles, 5500 feet of climbing and 4 hours later, we had a great ride checking out roads I had never ridden.
Ahhhh.... sweet singletrack. Who says you can't ride Surveyors on your cross bike?

What would a weekend be without actual mountain biking? It was time to check out the one place in the area I had never ridden. Believe it or not, I had never been to Post Canyon. And after Sunday, I am really wondering why not??? It's not just for freeriding. Thanks to our tour guide Tre, we had a fantastic outing and even got to try some of the easy stunts. I don't think I will take my hardtail there next time!
Timmy working it on 'Family man'.Teeter totters are fun. I did my first one later on in the ride, but played photographer at this one!Way up out of the valley.Tre actually knows how to ride some of this stuff, unlike Tim and I pretending.

Monday, Tim had a wild hair to do one of his 'exploratory rides'. I wasn't feeling too great, but went along for the ride. Needless to say, we explored areas around the cabin we had never been. My heartrate reached new levels at one point in the ride. I saw Tim coming back towards me on this road we had found (through a gate and a fence with a hole, but never a 'no trespassing' sign.) and behind him were 2 pitbulls gaining speed. I turned around so fast and could only think that I was going to lose a calf. They were not slowing, so finally I dismounted my bike and put it between me and the dogs and started yelling back at them. Some how it worked. I didn't have time to snap a picture., but if I had, you would have seen some pretty frightened faces!
We survived that ride and made it back to the cabin for a little more R&R before we had to head back to town. Considering it was supposed to rain all weekend, we stayed dry and had sun all three days! Such a great surprise!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Suffering in the sun! NMBS#3: Santa Ynez, CA, May 17-18, 2008

Yikes! I HATE heat. When the forecast was calling for temperatures in the 100's, I knew I was in trouble. I was having anxiety about last years dismal performance in the heat here and wondered if I would survive. But I kept telling myself, "I love the heat, I love the heat, I love the heat." It didn't work, but it wasn't as bad as last year.
Race Day #1: XC, Saturday
Well, this didn't start well. Back to my second row line up, so I thought I was golden, but no such luck. Out of nowhere, my bars got hooked (from the left, I believe) and my front wheel was perpendicular and bikes were flying and piling up. In fact, I couldn't find my bike. It was feet in front of me. So, I got back on, the chain was off and back off to get the chain back on and I was at least 400 meters back. Maybe more. The pack was gone. And so was the skin off my left arm, again.

But I relaxed and decided it was too hot to worry about it and paced myself back into the mix. 1/2 way into the first lap, I had the chills. Not a good sign. But I was still moving o.k. I was having the battle in my head about quitting, but kept reminding myself that everyone else was suffering too. I made up a ton of spaces in the first lap and then on the second lap, I started to go a bit backwards. The chills were joined by dry heaves, but I kept pushing. I wasn't pushing as fast, but I let 3 people go and finished a respectable 14th. A LOT better than last year, so I wasn't going to beat myself up, especially having to chase back on after being very last. I survived. I was happy.
Trying to make up some time! (Note the weeds on my hip. Went off the trail when I freaked out seeing a snake! A partial crash. Had to climb back up out of the ditch. Oops.)
Dinner with friends after the HOT day of racing.

Race Day #2: STX & Super D, Sunday

I have to be honest. I was scared to race in the heat again. In fact, warming up I felt so nauseous that I thought about not racing, but just sat in the shade and waited it out and lined up. Unfortunately right next to the same people as the prior day. Now I was scared of not only the heat, but starting. But I had a great start and found myself in the lead pack in 6th. It was windy so sitting on the train was just fine. There was about 7 or 8 of us. Then I got behind someone that lost the train on the climb and I just didn't have anything to make a move around her, so I sat. Eventually one more came around us, but I didn't have enough to out sprint the gal in front of me, so a 9th place finish would have to do. My best ever, so I will take it! And as if that wasn't enough suffering for one day, then there was Super D.
A smooth start!

Super D was pretty relaxed because I really didn't care. I was first to go, so I just tried to go as fast as I could. I rode a few corners pretty horribly and weeds were flying in my face. It was sooo windy. Crazy windy, blowing you sideways kind of windy. Coming into the final wash before the final stretch, a four wheeler was right in the best line, but I went around. (He apologized afterwards, but a few seconds wouldn't have made a difference, so no worries.) I was in the lead from the start. Oh, that's right, I went first. I held the lead until the big guns went at the end. I finished 4th, which was good enough for a podium finish.

Super D podium (Heather Holmes, Rachel Lloyd, Sue Haywood, Leah Davidson, & me)
Chris Moor ROCKS!!! The Thule rep and my one man support team! Thanks Chris!!!
Dry & hot in the inland hills!

Monday, May 12, 2008

5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

No, not marriage or anything like that. Racing the Cascade Chainbreaker on Sunday was the 5 year anniversary of my first race ever! 5 years ago, Tim and I had a wild hair and decided to drive to Bend, rent a hotel, and do this race. We knew no one that raced and I still have no idea why we decided to do it. We hadn't been to Bend together and figured this was a good opportunity to go and ride our bike. I raced beginner and actually won by 6 1/2 minutes. Quickly got an upgrade and did the Coastal Hills Classic as a sport, won by a good margin and that was about enough racing for us. We weren't racers. We just liked to ride. We became big fans of the Bend Big Fat tour and just epic riding. However, this milestone has caused me to go back and look at my 'racing career'. Well, if you can call it that. It is pretty funny!

2003: 2 XC races mentioned above
2004: 2 XC races (Sea Otter, a dead last finish in expert due to a crash & Oregon State Games, where Tina Brubaker beat me in the expert category by 10 minutes, but I still got 2nd. Check out that old picture of Tina, who I had no idea who she was, & me. Click to make bigger.) & the Trans Rockies.

2005: 1 XC race & 2 STX races (Cascade Chainbreaker again. 2nd in expert)
2006: This was going to be my year. I decided to take a leave of absence and start racing my bike for real. By my HUGE race resume, you can tell why I made such a decision. Not sure why I thought I was qualified. Maybe I just wanted to quit my job, but I hired a coach, Kendra Wenzel and I was off to a good training season. But major knee surgery in February derailed me and my season was cut short, but successful. I did 4 XC races, still as an expert. Used State Games of Oregon as a warm up, got beat by Alice, of course and then went to Norba #4, Deer Valley to do my first national series race. I won my age group in expert, qualified for nationals and headed to Sonoma to win the USAC National Championship in expert 35-39! Crazy stuff. I also did World Masters and won my age, but took second in 30-39. My age category was too small with only 4 girls, to count as an actual category. In addition, I won the Trans Rockies with Anna Vacca, raced the E100 and got 3rd in my age cat and 4th overall in women and did 7 stx races, including a 3rd at nattys in expert! This was also the year that I decided to try cyclocross and raced the entire Cross Crusade series.

Well, I won't talk you through my 2007 season, b/c it would take pages. It was my first year racing 'pro' with an official upgrade from USA Cycling. I did the whole national series and had mostly top 20 finishes, finishing 18th in the series overall and 13th overall in stx. I finished 16th at nationals in XC. I FINALLY won a race in Oregon at the Oakridge MTB Festival. That was a victory I won't forget! It meant I was definitely getting faster. I tacked on my first NRC road race (Mt. Hood Classic) and also a full USGP series for cross. Do you see a trend? Bike racing is getting out of control!

This brings me to 2008! My fifth year racing mountain bikes and my second year as a 'pro'. It has been an exciting mtb season, but yesterday was a special day! Winning the Cascade Chainbreaker just 5 years after doing it as a beginner was a great way to celebrate an anniversary. Emily made me work REALLY hard for the win and it was not by minutes, but only by a few seconds. It was a fun, fast race. A lot has changed in 5 years, except the fact that Oregon has great people and great races! It made me smile to have people cheering for me as I went through the start finish. I've come a long way in 5 years! And this is where I start my thank you speech for the one person I could not have done it without! It is the STUD that got second in the 19-39 expert race, even though he is 42. He is the one that got me started in racing, creating a serious addiction in our household to gear, etc. He is the most supportive, wonderful husband in the world! Tim Butler, YOU ROCK!!! Thanks for letting me live the dream!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

MTB WORLD CUP #3: Madrid, Spain, May 4, 2008


My morning at the venue was a bit chaotic. After a few days of asking around and trying to find someone to feed me, it was not looking good. I hadn't heard back from Mitchell on my bargain: I will feed you if you feed me. And being that he was nowhere to be found at the venue that a.m., the panic set in. I had started my warm up when I was kindly reminded I had to go pick up my timing chip (Thank you Wendy). After that, having exhausted all my north american resources, of which I have very few at this level, I was about to cry. It was going to be hot and water was not optional. On suggestion of Dave, I went to ask Michael Broderick and introduce myself, since he was maybe going to be feeding Mary, but he was in the process of recruiting help in the Mavic tent. I smiled, told them I was desperate, and asked kindly if they would mind feeding one more. Luckily they said yes. I could have kissed them both!!! And I don't even run Mavic anymore. They even carried my Reynolds wheels to the pit for me. THANK YOU MAVIC GUYS! They were awesome. But there went the idea of warming up. I weighed my options and figured having a feed was way more important that warming up. Not ideal, but what do you do????
I got in the waiting blocs for my second to last call up. Literally I was 88 and 89 was last. I was in the very back row and the UCI officials were being very strict that we stay behind our white line. At least on the right side they were. Then the left side just crept forward and I was really in the back. All things considered, I had an o.k. start and avoided the pile up to my left and just tried to work my way up. I thought I had done a good job, but it seems that I pretty much was right about 68th the whole race. I would pass a few and get passed. It was a battle. You so much as slow a bit to take a drink from your bottle and 2-3 girls go by. It is just crazy. But I made it through, finished (one goal down) and didn't crash.  The 40Km race took about 2 hours for me. I was about 18:22 off the pace. Seems so slow, but oh well, I am just getting started with my season. It has been an amazing experience and I still have to remind myself, I am here, racing world cups in my second year of racing. That, in itself, is crazy. On my way home tomorrow! I am ready to see my Timmy!!!

The mens start! A crazy, dusty fury off the gun!

Where I spent my two hours post race. NOT FUN! I was a good teammate and fed Mitchell. It was hot, I was out of water and pretty wiped out!



My travel buddy for Spain! Wendy has been a great mentor!


This is SO PRO!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Magnificent Madrid!

After a bit of a chaos, Wendy Simms and I arrived safely at our hotel on Thursday evening after flying from Belgium to Madrid. Madrid is one big city. So much different than anything else I have experienced on this trip. It is actually quite impressive on this long holiday weekend. So many people. Lots of tourists. But I have to say that I was pretty happy to find a Starbucks right around the corner. I know, typical American, but to have a normal size cup of coffee to take with you is quite a luxury here. The dixie cup size was killing me. Not to mention the cost of the dixie cup. But it is pathetic, b/c there are about 5 of them within a 10 minute walk

This was pure happiness on Friday and Saturday a.m.  But for race day, they open too late. Oh no! What to do???
I have never been so happy to have a starbucks in my hand. 

The venue is about a 5 minute ride from our rather luxurious hotel. It is in a city park and one of the most urban venues I have experienced. Perhaps even more so than Fontana, if you can imagine that. The terrain is Sea-Otter-esque with lost of sandy loose trail. Not too much singletrack in this one. No scarey chutes either. It is more like a fast, long cyclocross race!

The dark line is the course. The 8k only covers a tiny part of the HUGE park. 
Yep, that is the course. The sweet espana singletrack (!?!).

The views of Madrid from the top of the course. Pretty fantastic!

Yesterday I had a bit of a chaotic pre-ride, flatting on the second lap. My tire just rolled right off the rim on one of the descents. Good thing I wasn't going super fast. Then I found out my chuck for my co2 didn't work, so had to walk back. Then, my stem was too short to fit on the Maxxis compressor, so I put a tube in and somehow that had a hole in it right away, so no more riding for me. It didn't even last to get back to the hotel, but Wendy saved my butt and we made it back without walking. Whew! Dont' worry. I got it fixed, but am running a tube for the first time in years.  Today I spent some time making friends. Alison Sydor, multi-time world champ, was putting her number on near the Maxxis tent (she is 80, I am 88), so I said, "sweet, you are in the back with me. I'll just get on your wheel and take a tow to the front."  I guess my sarcasm didn't go over too well. Oh well. I still don't have someone to feed me tomorrow and it is going to be a hot one. 80 degrees. The weather is fantastic, but without water, it could be a hard race. Ahhh, the life of an unsupported rider.

I was anxious to see what 'danger' was on this course. Could it really be that bad???
It wasn't too bad. Brakes required (by me, anyhow), but nothing compared to the past 2 weeks.