Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's official: Monavie-Cannondale is BLUE!

With the release of the new, fantastic energy drink by Monavie, Emv, we had our mid-season release of our new colors, including new kits and new bikes. Most of the team traveled to Salt Lake City to be presented at the Monavie conference. A hectic weekend of mingling, talking to distributors, signing autographs, photo shoots and team bonding. Next up: B.C. Bike Race!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mid-week BLISS!

All in a days work! This week I had to get some long rides in, and for 2 of them, I managed to find company to join me on some of my favorite trails! I love riding my mountain bike. Especially on Mt. Hood singletrack when it is in primo condition! It makes me not want to leave and just ride and ride and ride! And the HIGHLIGHT of the day today was seeing a BLACK BEAR!!! Yep, it was right on the side of the trail, ran about 10 meters away, turned, looked at me, I hesitated, then put my bike between me and the bear and started making some noise. He bolted. By the time Erin got up the trail, he (or she) was long gone. WHEW! So exhilarating. My first time seeing a bear while biking on trails in Oregon! Kind of cool!!! Needless to say, I forgot to reach in my pocket for my camera. But I did take a few pictures the past 2 days.

Arghhh. Trail 450 to 15 mile wasn't quite clear.

We saw a lot of this. Such a bummer, but the forest service is doing a GREAT job & have a lot of the best trails clear already! I just assumed this one would be since 15-mile is. My bad.

Speaking of the Forest Service and one of the greatest trail clearers of all time...

I'm tight with our Forest Service Rangers. OK, Paul Gundlach is a good friend. It was awesome to see him on the trail. I told him to ditch his hoe and ride with us. He is too dedicated. Don't forget to thank these guys when you see them. They do a TON of work so we can ride great trails.

And when they are clear, they are GREAT!

Thursday Erin Ford and I did the epic Dog River/Surveyors out and back. It never gets old. Lots of climbing, lots of miles. 4.5 hours in the saddle. Life is good!!!

The mandatory photo spot. Tested a new hydration system the past 2 days. It is called the VelEau. Pretty cool. You can stay hydrated sans camelback! Nice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oxygen is optional: US CUP XCT#4: Colorado Springs, CO, June 13, 2009

Colorado was greener than I had ever saw it, but the moisture and humidity did not mean there was more oxygen in the air. Hmmm? But with nationals next month even higher, I had to go suffer at altitude in preparation. Plus, I don't think I have ever been to Colorado Springs. It was nice.
I flew into Denver on Friday and directly to the course to pre-ride. I opted out of Short Track, due to tired legs from Mt. Hood and Tabor, but I went to cheer for the braver ladies and to cheer my team on. Monavie had almost full representation there. It was great. 4 of the men and me. They had a good go at what appeared to be a rough course. Of course watching it, you wish you were doing it and think you would have been fine. Is fine good enough?
Alex giving it his all.

Race day on Saturday was warm and sunny. We went off at noon. I felt special with my new red/white/blue number plate that is for those seeded in the series. Lucky number 11. Double ones! I had a great start and was in the lead train off the gun. I was thinking I felt o.k. Just breathe. I was sitting in 8th. I didn't ride my best technically. I will blame it on oxygen deprivation, but I think I was just having an off day. Bummer. That off day made me go backwards. I was willing my legs to push harder, but somehow they were stuck at one speed. Kelli passed me, then Pua, then Kathy, followed by Heather and Zephanie who got to witness my slow speed wipe out. It was a slippery pebbly course. Looked easy. It was decievingly hard. In the last lap, Amanda and Amanda went by and I couldn't give chase. I wanted to. I really did. But at some point, you just have to ride and let it be. I finished 15th. It could have been worse.
Friends that come cheer make it all worth it: Mel Pape.

Sunday, my host family, Katie and Mark, plus a gaggle of others, headed out for a 'recovery' ride. Leaving the house and getting to singletrack in 5 miles is pretty cool. We climbed over 4000 feet, but it was 'easy climbing'. Fun trails, good times. But all good things have to come to an end and back to easy breathing at home I went after hours of delays.

Katie and I at the high point of the recovery ride. All downhill from here...I saw CO SPRINGS from way up above. This was maybe half way up.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

By popular demand...

...the photos have arrived from Tim's spectacular "judo roll" when Kenji had a unfortunate crash right in front of him at the Hood River Crit on Sunday. Tae Kwon Do training has paid off for Tim years later... Thanks to Tre Hendricks for being at the right place at the right time.

Don't worry. Tim is fine. He had a little mark on his side, but no real road rash. Just a cracked frame. But better a broken bike than a broken collar bone or wrist, arm, etc.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Racing in the 'hood: Mount Hood Cycling Classic, June 3-7, 2009

It has been a trend to do one road stage race each summer. Mt. Hood is almost mandatory because it is in our backyard. Almost literally, with one of the stages passing by the driveway to the cabin. It is a great race and even though this year it was not an "NRC" or "UCI" race, it was not easy. 5 days of racing in a row never is. Here is how it went down:

Day 1: Prologue. This is a quick 3.1 mile time trial to just get things sorted out and started. It was held on Wednesday evening, so we headed out Wednesday a.m. with a car full of groceries for the week and plenty of supplies for a cabin full of racers. Kari Studley, from Seattle, joined me. Tim followed later, b/c he didn't have to do the prologue. With my clip-on TT bars, I raced my way to a 9th place finish, 16 seconds behind the leader. I did beat my time from 2 years ago. That was the real victory for me.

Day 2: Stage 1, Cooper Spur Circuit Race. We rolled out of the cabin on our bikes to our 9:10 a.m. start. It was hardly even chilly going downhill to the start, and I knew things would be heating up fast. This is never an easy race, but it was a bit more relaxed than 2 years ago, thank goodness. I hung with the leaders until about 2-3K to go when I missed an attack and got dropped with a small group of gals. Another 9th place, losing 34 more seconds. This was Tim's first stage and he had a strong race, finishing in 6th.
Tim zooming by Mountain Shadows Drive where we were cheering!

Day 3: Stage 2, Scenic Gorge Time Trial. A time trial is sometimes called the race of truth. There is nowhere to hide. Well, this race of truth was quite scary, with winds blasting like they usually do in the Gorge. Headwinds and sidewinds made for an interesting race. I am a bit of a sissy in the wind, but I clipped on my TT bars and held on for dear life. It was not my best effort, but I suvived. I lost a lot of time on this stage. Almost 5 minutes (4:47), but I kept telling myself this was for training. Tim also had a rough windy TT. He lost less time than me (4:17), but got 18th. Not what he was hoping for, but with most of our competition riding expensive TT bikes and having more experiences with time trialing, we are o.k. with our finishes. I can't see spending thousands of dollars on a bike I would ride once a year. Too practical for that. But sometimes too competitive to not want to.

Day 4: Stage 3, Wy'East Road Race. Today I did the unthinkable. The weather was pretty nice for a 92 mile ride. A bit chilly in the a.m., warmer later on with a bit of weather threatening to make the end of the race a bit nippy. The race was pretty chill most of the day. Not to many attacks. Pace was reasonable and sometimes a bit 'slow'. We got into the section of nasty side winds and then the climb out of the valley that was pretty much a full on head wind. At the pace we were going, I thought we would never get done with the race. At about mile 80, I was feeling a bit chilly after one of the slight descents in the long climb, so I just kept the gas on when we started ascending. Not really a full on attack, but apparently enough that allowed me to just ride away. I turned around a bit shocked that no one was behind me. I had 2 choices. Floor it, or put the brakes on. I figured I needed to get some race pace work in, so I floored it. I put my head down in the headwind and just pedaled. Somehow I stayed away for 12 miles and claimed a victory in the stage. Heck, I knew I couldn't win the race, so it was kind of fun to win a stage. I didn't think I was going to hold it off, but when I kept getting time gaps that would only waiver about 15 seconds, I knew they were not working to chase me down. I had decided during the last kilometers of climbing that I had come that far and I really wanted to win. I did, but barely. My lead was reduced to a mere 29 seconds. It was pretty fun to cross the line first and get some podium time. Tim had a good race. In the stacked masters field, the peloton was shattered in the last climb and he finished in 13th.

Still smiling on the breakaway.

Self portrait post race on Saturday. Missed the mountain. Oops.
But the mountain is in the podium pic.

Brad Ross insisted we do a deck podium with champagne. Just an excuse to open the bottle. Podium girls and all!

Day 5: Stage 4, Hood River Criterium. I love racing crits. For someone that does not like road racing and does not like close proximity with other riders at high speeds, I somehow like crits. Being that the Hood River crit was my first ever 2 years ago, I was excited. I felt pretty good, managed to stay towards the front of the entire race, accidentally pulling a few laps, didn't position myself correctly for any of the primes or the final sprint, but was in the race and finished 7th. There is a lot I need to learn for that style of racing. Position is key. But somehow I can find myself in the wrong place most of the time. Ahhh, road racing...

Crit racing...

Post crit racing... beer tent with the girls.

Tim's crit didn't end well when he got taken out by Kenji. Bike didn't fare so well, but he is fine. Good thing for Tae Kwon-Do training.

Day 6: Cabin clean up, a bit of R&R, and back to reality. Post Crit, I headed back to the cabin with coach K, made some dinner, watched movies and drank red wine. A pretty successful block of training. Good fun and good friends at the cabin. Bike racing is fun. Thanks for all that were there cheering and for the fun messages and texts I got all weekend! It kept me going. Sure, overall, I only got 8th in the race, but like all of us mountain bikers/cross racers tell ourselves, "it was only for training. "

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bump & Grind in 'bama: May 30-31, 2009

photo by Dave McElwaine

A couple of words to describe the south: hot and humid.I knew it would be! I decided to travel to Birmingham Alabama for the Bump and Grind mtb race, because I had never been to Alabama, or at least that I can remember. It is quite nice. Very green, rolling hills, hot and humid. Reminds me a bit of MN. The trails were fun, the people nice and it was a successful trip.
I flew down on Friday and arrived way too late and then Saturday I decided to ride to the course. In the first 2 miles, I saw about 8 churches and 2 snakes. One was dead and one was very much NOT dead. I screamed. The course was great. I was adopted for the weekend by the Kona team, so it was nice to have a home. Thanks to Dusty for all his help!!!
Sunday was race day and I was scared. I was feeling better, but I had no real gauge on how it would go, but I knew I could just race the best I could and remember to hydrate well and stay cool. Having the course mostly in the shade in wooded singletrack helped immensely. The almost 90 degree weather felt tolerable. I am staring to get better in the heat. I had a good start and continued to race hard. I missed my bottle feed on the 3rd lap. Mark Legg was kind enough to feed me and he had the bottle there, I was just so focused and concentrated that I simply forgot. How can you forget your feed? I won't do it again. It was too hot to be without water, but I had a lot to look forward to at the end of that lap.
I had a good race. In fact, I pedaled my way to my first top 10, finishing in 8th. Yes, there is still room for improvement and I am working towards that podium. I did it in CX and now it is the endless goal to get there for MTB. And I will. It is just taking a while.
Finished off my stay with some good BBQ in honor of Tim. He would have been proud. I ordered ribs! And beef brisket. Who am I??? And now on my way home...