Tuesday, July 29, 2008

7 years of wedded bliss!

Then... & now.

What would you do on your 7th wedding anniversary? Well, it was Monday in summer in Portland, so we went to short track. The last one of the summer! Sad, but true. Short track is coming to an end. But our years of wedded bliss will continue. It is hard to believe that 7 years ago we celebrated with friends and family up at Mt. Tabor, exchanging vows in the amphitheater and then turning the picnic area into a reception area with a huge white tent, tables, chairs, candles, etc. Tabor will always hold a special place in our hearts, and wednesday nights in summer it is all about bike racing, but that is over too. Hmmmm. And my summer just started. At least my summer in Oregon.
Short track was a great way to celebrate. First I did my last women's clinic at 5 p.m. with Emily Van Meters help. These women ROCK! There is a lot of new women on mountain bikes and it is really exciting. Short track is a great place for people to get their feet wet.
Another exciting way to celebrate, I rode my singlespeed for the first time in a long time, racing both the ss and women's race. I flatted in the women's race, but still had one more chance in the TEAM RELAY! 17 teams of 10 people battled it out for the glory. It was quite a sight. And the evening was a tribute to Ryan Weaver, Portland's favorite SS icon! Who wouldn't respect this guy???
Weaver's relay team. All of us are BEWEAVERS!!!
Tim placed 3rd overall in the series in the singlespeed category! Nice job!

That is how we celebrated our seventh anniversary. We went to go eat and were turned away, since it was after 10, but we did find a bike friendly place to get some grub and a beer to toast a great evening of bike racing and a wonderful seven years. I would publically like to say that Tim is really the BEST! I could not ask for a more wonderful, supportive, funny, energetic, friendly, outgoing, wonderful husband! Seven years was easy! I look forward to more!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Riding in the 'Hood! So good to be home! July 26-27, 2008

While my teammates were 'suffering' at 24-hour worlds, taking the 4-person title in the rain and mud and my fellow competitors were battling it out at Mt. St. Anne at the world cup, I decided to ride in the 65 degree and sunny weather here on the home front. Sure, part of me wishes I was at the world cups, but with the amazing summer weather, I am glad to be home and spending time riding at my favorite place in the world.
Friday night, Tim and I actually headed up the mountain the 'other way' and camped for a night in order to be on site for the early morning wake up call for the Jim Treviso Memorial Tour. It was great to have this work into our schedule this year, b/c riding great trails with good friends is always a treat! And perfect weather to boot!

See, we do remember how to camp!
The crew ready to go.
Lovely views. Looking at where we are headed.
Another great vista! Our ride leader, Mr. Tonkin, and Aaron Tarnow.
Tim, Anna and I at another vista of Mt. Hood. We are getting closer.
Tim & I at one of the Twin Lakes.
The meadow of team colors. Love that purple and green.

The infamous white river log crossing. It doesn't look that bad and most made it across on their feet......but one of us had to scoot on her butt. Yep, I got scared. 15 ft. above rushing water with carbon shoes on a log. No thank you.
And Petr was waiting at camp with beer & food for the crew! Another fun tour!!!

Well, as fun as camping is, we did head back to the cabin for Saturday night. I hadn't been there for over 5 weeks and Tim had invited his pal Tre up there with his son Walker. So a good nights sleep in my own bed, a leisurely morning and then off to the trails. Aaron, Erin, Tre, Tim and I went and rode 15 mile. I hadn't ridden it yet this year. It is already on its way to deep silt. I tested it with my forearm just for fun. Yep, there is still some rough rocks in there. I got going a bit too fast and my left arm just seems to be a magnet for destruction. But no worries. It didn't slow me down too much!
Chillin' at the bottom of 15 mile before the long climb out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2008 MTB NATIONALS: Mt. Snow, VT, July 17-20, 2008

Back in Vermont for another go at Nationals. It was easier this year, because I kind of knew what I had in store. Heat and humidity, roots and rocks and perhaps some thunderstorms. It was going to be epic. We drove over from Windham on Monday and settled in at our new home for the week, anxiously anticipating the weekend of racing. At one point, I just wanted it to be Saturday so I could get the pain and suffering over with. Tim arrive on Thursday, so the house took on a new volume and level of energy. It was good to have him there. At least for me, it was.

Race Day #1: Saturday, XC
Tim raced early at 8 a.m., so selfishly, I did not go watch. Brett babysat him and made him breakfast way earlier than I wanted to be up. Tim did not have his best race, but still finished 21st. The expert men his age are wicked fast and one of the fastest expert categories. But I know he is faster than that. He just had a few too many races in his legs prior to natty's.
I, on the other hand, was ready to have the best XC race of my life. Legs were coming back after the BC base I built and I really felt good. That was, until on the first lap after the start and first initial steep climb when I reached down to drink and somehow my water bottle had disappeared. 85 degrees and almost 100% humidity. I was sweating profusely and had no way to replenish myself for the first 35 minutes of the race. It was not good. Many things crossed my mind during this first lap. Throttle 'er back was one of them, and I did. I kept telling myself I would be o.k. and that I race a 40 minute cross race w/o water, so just relax. Problem with cross, you are done after 40 minutes. I still had over an hour to go and 2 more laps after that. I did survive, but I did suffer. The lack of hydration caught up with me and although I held off the cramps, my legs were not turning the pedals over that well. I lost a few more spots on that last lap, for a 14th place finish. Sure, this was an improvement from last year, but also a frustrating reality that 'anything can happen'. I didn't ride my best, but I knew tomorrow was another day. Get over it. That's racing.
Front row (in a puddle of mud where no one else wanted to go) rubbing elbows with Georgia. Who wouldn't want to start next to Georgia???
(Image by Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net)
Race Day #2: Short Track
I opted out of the Super D race that was a few hours before Short Track. The cost of failure on that course could have been high and after pre-riding, although I didn't think it was too bad, I definitely knew it was an accident waiting to happen, especially after how I rode the technical stuff the day prior. So I saved it all for short track. And it showed.
Tim had an AWESOME short track race and although I was in and out of my warming up trying to catch a bit of the race, he was always right in there and anything could have happened. He could have won the damn race, it was that close. But he had a great finish in 4th and was on that podium. Of course, my camera was out of batteries by then, but he looked AMAZING!
My race was one of contradictions. It was an amazing race, but also one that was frustrating in retrospect. I had a great start, got myself in the lead chase group (Katie was gone and Mary behind her, both riding solo) and then one little mess up from the rider in front of me (she went down when rubbing the tire of the person in front of her), and we were all separated from the rest of the podium group. But there was still time with 3+ to go. But signs were flashing 3 then 2 on the same lap. The confusion grew, but the race was on. I made the mistake of not just attacking and going solo to chase. Why was I being conservative at that point? No idea. Perhaps I was hurting, exhausted, scared to blow up. But the race was almost over. Our group chased, fought for position and then with one to go, they called us of course as we went through the start finish, and we watched 3rd through 5th ride away with the safety of no one behind them. I am not saying we would have caught them, but 6th -12th position was decided without a fight. We had one to go, or did we??? The confusion of it all left me disappointed, yet thrilled to have been in the fight. There has never been a time that I could honestly say, I could have done it. Who knows how it would have turned out had I gotten in a different position earlier and not just tried to conserve energy in the headwind, saving it for the last 3 laps. I will never know. What I know is that I have to be satisfied with my 9th place finish and call it a start for better things to come.
Tim giving 'er in Short Track for his podium performance!
Short Track line up! I'm somewhere in the second row on the left.
In the lead chase early in the race.
(Image by Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net)

All in all, it was a good weekend of racing. I had fun, enjoyed the company of others, relished my front line starting spot for the XC (not sure how that happened), and really am excited to do it again next year (although already scared about the altitude), building on the experience from this year and taking the next step to where I want to be. Yep, the announcers keep calling me 'old', but I am young to the racing scene and am racing against time. I may not have 10 years to build and get myself to the top, but I want to be the best I can be (yikes, sounds like the army) and will enjoy every step of the way and smile while I am doing it!

Brett jumping off the rope swing. This was earlier in the week and it was HOT!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NMBS#5: Windham, NY, July 12-13, 2008

The trek to the east coast is never easy, but it brought us to a new venue this year prior to Natty's. Emily and I flew into Albany and picked up some 'hitchhikers' in the airport in our sweet minivan. Barry Wicks needed a ride and a junior expert was looking up the greyhound schedule, so we took pity and crammed us all in. We arrived at our 'home' for the weekend and were greeted by Steve & Nancy at Kelly Acres. It was great and quite a group there. Friday we rode the course. Super sweet course built just for this race. Check it out.

Race Day #1: Saturday, XC
It was HOT and about 95% humidity and race time was at 11. The suffering was about to begin. I was further back than normal due to skipping Deer Valley, but after the bottle neck of singletrack, it was a lot of climbing, so I knew it would work itself out. Emily caught me and told me to get my ass in gear. I tried. I suffered. It was hot, but I kept climbing my way forward and by the third lap, I felt a bit better. Just getting the legs back under me after the BC bike race. I ended up 15th. I will take it. (photo by Dave McElwaine)

Race Day #2: Sunday, Short Track & Super D
It was a rainy a.m., but by the time race time rolled around, it was just a bit sticky. Not as hot as the day prior, so it was good. My call up for short track was also not as good as usual, but oh well. It was a climb and the group seemed smaller, but they were short laps. I found myself moving forward and finding the lead group. And this time, I stuck with it. As people dropped off on the climb, I went around and stayed with them. With 3 to go, Emily Batty clipped my front wheel and I went into the tape, but I did catch back on, but then with 2 to go, I got popped on one of the hills and dangled off the back by 10 meters. I finished my best ever finish in 8th place. It was good to feel the legs coming back and being able to stick with the lead group. A good sign.

And then there was super D. I debated whether to do it, b/c it scared me and I didn't want to get hurt. But then I figured, I can just ride it and not race it and still do fine. I had already paid for it. So, with the high still from short track, I did one pre-ride and then went to the top to start. I was starving. Oops, forgot to eat. But I survived and although I did not ride fast, I didn't crash and I finished 6th. Did I mention that was last? Oh yeah. That. At least I was smiling...

Chillin' post race back at the ranch. Awesome porch!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Shredding Singletrack in B.C. : B.C. Bike Race: June 28-July 4th

Some may be wondering where I disappeared to this past week. I had opportunity to seek out internet and update my blog, but honestly, I was a bit too exhausted and thought I would wait until I could reflect on the complete week of the B.C. bike race. For the past week, I camped in small towns in B.C. along the route of the B.C. Bike Race, racing my little legs off for days on end. Seven days to be exact! Although not a novice to these long mtb stage races, in never ceases to amaze me how a punishing seven days can be so fun. Especially when you are done and looking back at it. This was a team event for Monavie Cannondale. We had 3 teams of two and I raced in the mixed category with the team manager, Matt Ohran. He dragged me around for seven days, making me go faster. We rode well together as we spent each day racing for second place. Why second place, you ask? Well, Wendy Simms and her husband Norm were off the front most days and although we pretended to chase them down, it really became a race for second between Katie Compton and her husband Mark. The food was good, the weather great (although a bit too hot in the beginning of the week) and the scenery fantastic. Can words really capture this experience? Not really. I'll give a short recap for each day, but pictures can't really even do it justice.

Day 0: Friday, June 27th, Getting there.
Jason Sager and I teamed up for the long drive up to the small town of Shawnigan Lake north of Victoria. Smooth sailing for most of the drive (& ferry ride out of Anacortes) until we realized it was the Friday before a 4-day weekend in Canada. Yikes. Talk about a traffic jam out of Victoria. Long day in the car, but beautiful scenery past Olympia. Registration went quickly, finding food was challenging and out hotel accommodations, well, not so great. It's always good to start a race like this sleep deprived.
Ferry terminal at Anacortes

Day 1: Saturday, June 28th, Shawnigan Lake to Cowichan Lake, 89K, 55.6 miles.
Getting in the start blocks early is key for the first day with 400 people all wanting to seed themselves towards the front. We did a great job and the start was anything but neutral this day. It was a race to basically seed yourself for the rest of the week. The short loop around the school's campus ended up being a bit of a debacle. A freshly mowed farmers field left many with broken derailleurs an hangers early on. And forced many to stop and dig out tons of grass/straw that had built up in the rear cog and made it impossible to shift and dangerous to pedal. But we were all in the same boat and some fared better than others, but this was all part of racing. A mixture of service trail and singletrack, the race was on. There was some fresh cut trail that was, well, hardly rideable and then a nice steep scramble up a hill with your bike on your back. Yep, good 'ol hike a bike. But there was some good riding and after you were good and tired, you only had about 20K of flat gravel trail to hammer home. Did I mention it was over 7000 feet of climbing according to my Garmin? I was feeling pretty o.k. and we were off to a good start, getting second in the mixed category. A podium finish and call up for the next day.
Fresh and ready to rock! Fresh on the first day.
First podium of the week.

Day 2: Sunday, June 29, Lake Cowichan to Port Alberni, 125K, 78.1 miles.
This was the longest day, and due to snow and other issues, the route was a day of road racing on mountain bikes. A nice easy neutral start and a fairly easy pace and flat route (only approx. 4800 feet of climbing) made it tolerable except for the dust. The first aid station and check in was a bit of a debacle when over 200+ racers came in at the same time. I lost Matt and stayed with the front pack and he had to chase back on with a group and spent a fair amount of energy chasing back on. But we survived and got from point A to point B. We had 2K of singletrack at the end to hopefully make us forget about the 123K of gravel roads. It didn't work.
Dusty teammates at the finish of stage 2.
Always easy to spot our base camp with Matt's van.Tent Village.Still on the second step. Katie and Mark decide to join us up there.

Day 3: Monday, June 30, Port Alberni to Cumberland: 80K, 50 miles.
This day had some great riding and views, not to mention 2 major river crossing, one leaving your chamois wet. With over 5000 feet of climbing and mostly fireroad and singletrack, it was a nice change from the previous day of road riding, but unfortunately we didn't get to stay in tent city this night. We had to head over to Sechelt after we finished up because we didn't have ferry reservations for the next morning. We were in good company, however, because when we arrived to the ferry terminal, many teams we recognized were there. It avoided the 4:15 a.m. wake up call the next morning, but we missed the camaraderie of our fellow racers and the great dinner. Ferry food just didn't really cut it.
A steep cliff to get up after the river crossing.Still smiling.
Ferry ride to Sechelt.
Glorious views.
A bit different than tent city.

Day 4: Tuesday, July 1, Earls Cove Ferry Terminal to Sechelt, 60K, 37.5 miles.
Our race started in Earls Cove when all the racers arrived off the ferry. It was an amazing logistical accomplishment on the races part and quite a spectacle to have everyone take off from the ferry terminal and on time, none the less. This was a relatively 'short' day in mileage, but it was the day with the most singletrack so far. And really good singletrack. Lot of fun, zippy trails , and some serious climbing (over 6000 feet). To be honest, it is all kind of a blur, but I know it was fun. Too bad Matt forgot his camera on this day.

Down on the third step for this stage.

Day 5: Wednesday, July 2, Sechelt to Langdale, 65K, 40.6 miles.
Holy fun! Great riding and lots of fun challenges along the way. I have noticed that the terrain and dirt and ferns seem quite similar to what we ride in Oregon, but the bridges and the fun factor of these trails really does not compare. The bridges were my personal challenge, but I started riding stuff I normally would hesitate and maybe walk. The race was on, however, because there was a 12:30 cut off time to make the first ferry over to Moon Bay and get on a bus to take us to Squamish. With a start time of 8 a.m., you would think it was no problem, but it was a push and Matt and I just made that first ferry. It was a pretty small group that did, but everyone had big smiles on their face after eating up great singletrack (and over 6000 feet of climbing) the whole day. This was probably the best day of riding the whole week.
I made some and missed others. Fun riding...
The biggest heroes of the week! Jamin, or massage therapist and Ryan, our mechanic!

Day 6: Thursday, July 3, Squamish, 65 K, 40.6 miles.
Starting and finishing in the recreation capital of B.C. was not a bad thing. Granted, I would have liked to see less fire road, including the infamous 9 mile Climb (it's supposedly only 5 ) , also known as Bonk Hill, but the singletrack really made up for it. Challenging and fun. A few walking sections for me, but I rode more than I was probably capable of. The Powerhouse Plunge definitely put you into exhaustion mode, especially with over 6500 feet of climbing this day. Lot's of concentration, fun descents and just plain fun riding. We rode sections of the Test of Metal and the Gear Jammer all in one day. Only a day to go. And we are just starting to have fun.
Beautiful tent city for 2 nights.

Day 7: Friday, July 4, Whistler, 47K, 33.1 miles.
With such a short mileage, it should be a short day of riding, right??? Wrong. We had an early wake up call and then were bused (we drove) up to Whistler in the morning. It was the final day and we were warned about the initial climb. It hurt. It was steep and long. And there was more throughout the day (over 6500 feet of climbing). This short little day took us as long as the day prior. I had a really hard day. I rode fine in the beginning, but the middle section with the trail called "River Runs Through It" kicked my butt. It is a 'technical funhouse' with ramps and bridges galore .Well, it may have been fun if I hadn't been so wasted and I just started riding like a small child, missing entries to bridges, not having momentum to get over things, crashing more than I care to remember. Kelli and Sarah caught us and it was almost laughable how bad I was riding. Both were encouraging and kind. (thanks gals!) It was tough and it was tough to recover. I was getting so frustrated with myself, but once we finally got through that, I remembered how to ride again and with the added inspiration of another mixed couple catching up to us, the pressure was on. I knew we had already lost a ton of time this day and I really didn't want to finish this race in 3rd. I pushed and pushed to the end and Matt was patient and encouraging. I was a bit bonky, mad I rode so poorly through that and finally, pretty tired and wasted. It was a long last day, but I managed to finish with a smile and we did finish the week in 2nd place for the mixed category. Whew! What a great week! And even just a day after it is over, I can say I would do it again!
Tinker & Me ready to finish this race off! More bridges on the last day. I was getting worked!

The party was up at the Roundhouse in Whistler. Just a short Gondola ride up the mountain! Too bad for the clouds, but the views were still o.k.
Melanie Lewis, a friend made during Trans Rockies '06 and who went to Arizona with me in '07.
The final podium when Norm almost took down the back drop. Oops!

For even more great coverage, check out www.monaviecannondale.com. Jason has posted some great stories and pictures as well. Enjoy! Thanks for reading about my adventure!