Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday fun in Portland: SHORT TRACK!

It is a sure sign of summer when we got to ride out to PIR on Monday nights on our mountain bikes and have some fun in the dirt. This year I am doing beginner mountain bike clinics for women (with help) and Patrick Wilder is doing the juniors. It was a great success and over a dozen women participated and there were a ton of beginner women racing. Great to see!
Tim raced on his single speed and fought it out with Ryan Weaver, the winner of the series for the past 3 years. It was a tight race! Tim got second only by a wheel length or so.
I had a rough start to my race. I had some changes made to my bike today in anticipation of the BC Bike race next week and good thing I tried it tonight. I have some adjustments to make. At the start my chain slipped right off the middle chain ring and I flew forward and almost fell over the handlebars. I thought my chain was broke, so I got off and looked it over, but it was fine. But the race was gone. I kept having problems on the start loop, but learned that the trick was going to be not to use the middle chain ring. So I rode the race in my big chain ring and worked my way back through the field and to a first place finish. I just relaxed and took my time. At least I have experience chasing from the back! Tonight it paid off.
Short Track is a blast with tons of great people. It's always fun to be riding bikes among friends!
Tim with Indie (Kendra & Melissa's puppy) and the race organizer himself, Kris Schamp.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pickett's Charge... buns of fun, I mean TONS of fun.

Stick boy (Brett Nichols) and Heavy T (Tim) measuring up after breakfast.

Amazingly, Tim and I were 'home' for yet another great race in Oregon that we had never done. We headed to Bend for the weekend and were treated to zippy singletrack, fun with friends and good times racing among friends. Or racing against no one, like I did. Tim had a flat early on in the first lap, and after much debate in his head, a few miles of riding easy, he decided to finish hard and finished 6th. His flat took over 10 minutes, mind you, and had I not been behind him with extra air, he may still be out there.
Hard to lose when you are the only one! Whew. Glad I won.

My race was a bit different. It was a race against me. Not the most exciting race, but I asked to do 2 laps (39 miles) since I was the only one, and after the first 19.5, I questioned my sanity and actually stopped to consider not doing the second and going up and riding another trail. I had already 'won'. Racing against yourself is no fun. It's really hard to push. The only times I got motivated was when people finally passed me or I started catching them. Funny how that works. But it was a ton of fun and hanging out with friends. I actually won the Oregon XC Classic Series with my whole 3 races I was able to do this year. I really hope to see more women out there. On a positive note, there were some new faces in the expert field! Always good.
I couldn't bring myself to stand on the podium alone again.
Thank you Oregon race promoters for a job well done!!! We are very lucky to be mountain bikers in this state. Hard to believe there aren't many more races and summer has just arrived.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mid week fun! Mt. Tabor #3.

It's good to be home. Racing at Tabor is a sure sign of summer and it was actually quite pleasant and almost warm. My sister Cathy was in town, so we had a photographer and Kris Schamp had family visiting, so I had a nice cheering squad. Although a bit tired from my morning ride and coming back after Nature Valley, I managed to take the 2 primes and win. A nice $65 haul. I almost feel guilty. But I had to work for it, so it wasn't for free.
Tim had a good race, but didn't quite end up where he wanted to. Another 6th place for him. But he looked good doing it. Seems like the Butlers don't know how to 'sit in' at these races. The mountain bikers in us. Ahhh, love Portland in summer! And I think summer is finally trying to show itself.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Stillwater Sufferfest. NVGP stage 6.

It was almost over. For some reason, my head was not in this one. I was almost too relaxed about it, knowing I only had to finish 3 laps to have successfully completed the race. There was an amateur race right before ours, so I didn't get a chance to ride the course and people were lined up on the sides even before their race was over. What is the deal? But no worries. I saw 'the hill' from the start and knew it would hurt. It actually didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would, but it hurt, and in the back of my mind I heard Kendra saying, "don't bury yourself for this one", but also, I hate getting dropped. Starting again in the very back did not help. I am not pushy enough and forget to get there at least a half hour before the start.
Oh, you can't see me? Well look harder, way in the back. My shoulder is there!
The start of the climb with the masses. I did work my way up a bit, really.

Off the gun I made good progress. As good as you can make from the very back, but with each lap, I seemed to not be making up any time. In fact, I think I lost time. No worries. I made it through the 'cut off' point and then a few. And when I was just seconds behind a group that didn't quite get pulled, I somehow wasn't horribly disappointed. But of course, I wish I would have pushed harder, gone faster, felt better, etc. But it was done and I was able to go 'home' to my parents house, celebrate fathers day with family and friends. It was great to have my aunts and uncles, brother and sister and neice and nephews there to cheer me on. I wish I could have stayed in longer, but oh well. I ended up 54th in the crit and my GC overall was 44th. For a silly mountain biker without a team and no support, not too bad. Great training and I got my first USAC fine of $50 for throwing a bottle. That was expensive water. I am ready for the BC bike race! And unfortunatly I missed the TEST OF ENDURANCE today in Oregon, but Tim was victorious in the expert 40+ division! Nice job Tim!!!
Finding my way through the crowd to my family.
Musa making sure my bike is still working.
Mom and dad enjoying the race on Father's day.
My brother Paul and Alec & Abi after I got pulled.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mankato Madness! NVGP Stage 5: Is it done yet?

91.5 miles in the 80-85 degree heat with lots of wind makes for a fun day of racing. I am so not a road racer. I back off at any hint of someone getting too close, I am courteous and polite and don't just cut in front of someone, I don't like getting boxed in and I never seem to find the side without the wind. You would think I would learn. I actually had a gal clip my front tire, but never fear, I relaxed and did not go down. I somehow unclipped, however, and the gal behind me yelled, but I yelled right back that it was not my fault. Maybe people should hold their line. Problem today, no one wanted to be in the wind and no one wanted to be in the front. It was a constant swimming of the masses. And for a bit of the race, it was at a painfully slow pace. That all changed, especially when we got back to Mankato. It was a four lap circuit with a brutal hill and 2 QOM's (queen of the mountain- hence a sprint). I got dropped on the first climb. I was too far back in the masses and my legs did not want to cooperate. I think the lack of hydration was setting in. But I remained in one of the many chase groups and finished. Not sure where. But I was dying. The neutral feeds didn't work so well for me and getting enough liquids is hard. I actually was forced to use the com car when at feed #2, a gal grabbed the bottle in front of me and the next 2 handers did have anything to hand. My dad is MUCH better at feeding. I should have done what a gal did to my bottle in Cannon and just grabbed something, anything from anyone. But I survived. Just a big headache that is finally going away. One more stage tomorrow in Stillwater and rumor has it that the hill is much worse than todays. I may be in trouble. Also, no pics from today. I was solo and too beat from the heat after the race to even care about taking pictures. I ended up 48th in the stage and my GC fell to 38th.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Double Duty! Nature Valley GP stages 3 & 4; TT and Minneapolis Crit

Not much more than 12 hours after getting done in Cannon Falls, I was back at it again. My start time was 9:34 for the time trial. I placed 56th in the RR in Cannon, so 55 girls would be chasing me down. It was a great course, but the wind was wicked! I was suffering. I have only done one other Time Trial in my life on a road bike, so the lack of experience may have showed a bit, but I pushed against the clock, did not pass my 30 second person, nor did I get passed and finished with a sub 16 minute time. My placing was in the 40's, so not too bad and it brought my GC (general classification) place up to 34th. Wait, I forgot, I am just doing this for training, right? Who cares where I am placing.
Birds eye view from the Smith Ave. Bridge. Cathy is a rock star photographer. Oh, how I love wearing a skin suit. Can't be too serious wearing all this silly gear.
Great views of St. Paul if you can see around my helmet.

As if that was not enough fun for one day, we had a crit downtown Minneapolis at 6:45 p.m. The biggest trick was getting there during rush hour, but with my super sneaky back way, I was golden and there way too early. I tried to get a warm up on the road, but really too much traffic and the borrowed trainer I have didn't fit my rear skewer, so I waited until the course was set up and did a warm up there. Little did I know that 30 minutes prior to the race, girls would be waiting in the blocks. SILLY. I got there what I thought was WAY early (25 minutes or so, which I was just going to keep warming up, but realized everyone was lining up) and I was already in the back. Will I ever learn? And in this crit, it was vital to be up front. I tried to get around and push forward and was in the top 20 at one point, but then everyone keeps trying to get up there and with the wind and the corners and my unwillingness to take any risks and backing off for those that were, I did not succeed in staying too far forward. I finished on the main train, but probably back in the 50's. It was super fun and I had friends there to cheer me on. It is fun racing back in the homeland.
Mens race downtown Minneapolis. My old stomping grounds.
My old rowing pals. Pretty fun to see everyone! Can't believe it's been 11 1/2 years since I left!Zack and Laura, old college friends from Drake.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Miles & Memories: Nature Valley GP Stage 2: Cannon Falls RR

Just miles from where I grew up, the second stage of the NVGP would take off and wander through roads I have driven many times. This would actually be the first stage to count, b/c after the debacle last night of people being pulled when they shouldn't have and people not getting pulled when they should have, they basically threw it out. Oh well.
This road race had an interesting start with the lead car taking a wrong turn during our 'neutral' mile. It made for chaos off the gun. Oh well. It was fast and furious and I have to say, although much more relaxed in a pack this big, I still suck at getting and staying in the front and finding shelter from the wind. I figure I get more training this way. What I thought would be an easy 60+ miles was a fast, windy, hard stage that ended with basically a crit. I almost got dropped, but dug deep and finished just 8 seconds off the leaders. I'll take it. The bonus was that I had the best fan club there of anyone!!! A super late night, only to get up and do a time trial in the morning! Stay tuned...

My fans all lined up.
The final climb. Yikes, I am glad it is over!!!
My fans came running... Kayla, Abigayle, Alec & Musa

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pretending to be a roadie! Nature Valley Grand Prix: Stage 1

Lots of liquid sunshine here in St. Paul. In fact, so much that early in the morning with the severe storm warnings, we were told to check at 3 p.m. to see if our race would be canceled. Well, luckily we got to race, albeit an abbreviated version of our 40 lap, 1 hour crit. Warming up was rough. I hadn't picked up the trainer from my friend Molly, so when the rain was so heavy you could not see a foot in front of you, I was riding the course and watching all the REAL roadies warming up on their trainers under the covered area we could park. But they didn't have their Dad there supporting them!
I love racing crits! Granted, this was only my second one ever, but I really get a total high from them. Much like a cx race, but on the pavement. Unfortunately, unlike roadies, I listened to the officials when they said they would not start the race until we all took a lap. They were trying to make way for call ups and get the starting gate situated, so my brain thought, "well, if I leave first for the lap, technically I should be in the front then, right?" WRONG! Over half the peloton did not budge. I was still sitting towards the back. Lesson learned. And then they rushed the damn call ups because it started to pour. All that and they still didn't get the fanfare start they wanted.
Well, even though I started from the back, I avoided all crashes and continually worked my way up. I was passing massive amounts of people each lap. Tubulars in pouring rain are key. They stuck so well and I cornered like a rock star, only slowing up when the person in front of me was braking. I appreciate the cautiousness of people, but there comes a point when it is a bit over the top. I kept the rubber side down and just kept flooring it and passing as many people as I could on corners, straightaways and the little hill, which you can hardly call a hill. The bad news is, however, that not only did Kristin Armstrong lap the entire field, but I got 'inadvertently pulled' with 4 to go. I talked to the official about it and told her that the main field had not lapped me and I was just chasing on the the main chase group from the second one, but no matter. I was out of the race. She apologized, but what the heck? She was 'trying to clean up' the tail end of lapped riders. Well, although I was not one of them, perhaps my #255 didn't help. But what do numbers mean in road racing anyhow? It's not your ranking, as far as I know. I was pissed, but it was basically a shit show and apparently I was not the only one that had this happen. I watched the girls I had just worked hard to pass pedal by and finish the race. SO STUPID!!! But the good news is that I felt great, didn't crash, had a blast and got a good effort in. The road race tomorrow should be fun. I have to remember not to start in the back! Stay tuned for more. My sister took some pictures so I will try to post them soon!

Monday, June 9, 2008

National Trail Day, Singletrack & Sunshine!!!

Another weekend at home! What a great treat. And to make it sweeter, we spent it at our favorite place on earth, our cabin on Mt. Hood. We were treated to a weekend of sunshine and singletrack and even managed to fit in some volunteer work on one of our favorite local trails. Tim and I are 'heavy users' when it comes to singletrack, so we figured we were due to put in some time and what better day than National Trail Day! Saturday we met the crew at Dog River Cycles at 10 and headed up to a section of Knebal Springs. It reminded me why it is called trail 'work' and not trail 'fun'. It is a lot of work, raking and clipping and brushing. But it sure makes the trails a heck of a lot of fun to ride.
Tim is an expert at lopping!
But he isn't so good at picking up what he lops! And if you are wondering why we have our bike helmets on, it is required by the forest service.

After 3+ hours of work, we were 'released' to go try out our hard work. Although the trail is not completely clear of blow down and snow, it was still a lot of fun to be back on singletrack! And riding with folks we had not seen for a long time! Thanks to Jim Thornton & his crew and all of their hard work getting our trails up and running!!!
By the fire outlook on 8 mile creek! (no, the trail is not clear.)
And Bottle Prairie still has some snow on it!

Saturday night we were joined by Patrick, Anita and Sigmund! A great surprise at almost 11 p.m. So Sunday, there was more riding to be done. Tim was in one of his exploratory moods, but luckily I had Patrick to help curb his curiosity. We did plenty, believe me, and found a great way from the cabin to Dog River with only a few miles of pavement. It was a great find and Dog River was completely clear, so it was awesome to be riding on singletrack without getting off your bike! But when we got to Surveyors and forged on, we found out it was too good to be true. Yep, still snow and a bunch of blow down from the trail head off road 44, but it shouldn't be long now! Such a great weekend of riding and sunshine. Maybe summer will really come after all???
One of our favorite spots on Dog River Trail.
Tim pointing out the cabin & other features to Patrick.
Who is this guy?After Dog River, we knew it was too good to be true.
The amazing view at the end of the day. Great cloud/orb above Mt. Hood.

Monday, June 2, 2008

New trails in Oregon!

Happiness is riding new trails!!! Since Tim and I can not justify going to the cabin for one night with gas prices over $4, we decided to explore a new trail on Saturday with Chris, our friend who was over from Bend. Wilson River is a butt kicker. Straight up and straight down. We didn't even ride half of the trail out and back, so now we know we have more to go back for! I can't wait. The weather was perfect for riding and the trails were in great shape. Granted, the exposure freaked Tim out a bit (and me), but most of the trail was just amazing! And great views. Check it out:

Chris, Tim & JJ (the dog) on one of the early bridges.
JJ couldn't have been happier! Chris rode a single speed. He is CRAZY!
The Wilson River
Our turnaround point! It was going to be a lot of climbing back too, and we were racing the next day. Just the 18+ mile out and back we did was over 3 hours. Can't wait to ride the entire trail!!!
Old growth in the coastal range. I just love it!

Sunday we headed down to Falls City to race in the Falls City Firecracker. This is an area we have also never ridden and the trails are great. Granted, it was some steep climbing and a lot of it, but super fun! Going down was a great reward and made the climbing well worth it. Tim and I both won our categories. We left prior to awards , but someone just sent me these great pictures.
And next weekend we are in Oregon too! Yahoo! Another weekend at the cabin! Join us if you'd like. I bet we will be riding bikes!