Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cascade Cycling Classic, Bend, OR July 19-24, 2011

Anne, me, Lindsay, Brenna, Anona, Beth &Ashley

It's no lie. I love stage racing. Granted, the mtb stage races are a lot more fun, but I can't afford them. I can support myself on the road, but at Cascade, I guest rode for BMC (Bend Memorial Clinic), the title sponsor of the race. It was a great week of racing with a great group of gals. For me, it was the stepping stone to cyclocross. I had to skip the 100-mile mtb race to race 6 days in a row and it apparently did what it was supposed to. Whip my butt back into shape. I have no stories of glory to tell you. I did nothing spectacular, except over-cooking a corner on the last day and sliding on the pavement. Not a good way to end, but I brushed it off and finished the race, reminding myself I was there for fitness. It was a bummer, being with the main chase and determined to stay and then be lying on the ground. At least a group was coming that I joined to finish. Overall, I rode better than I thought I would. My body did not fail me. All the hard work and PT has been working. It excites me, as just over a month ago I was being dropped at Elkhorn and unable to finish. So all in all, Cascade was a success. I saw a lot of people I haven't seen in forever, I was able to chill out for almost a week, just focusing on racing, eating and reading my book. A rare treat. Tim arrived Thursday night for his 3 day, 4 stage race. He finished in the top 10 in every stage and I believe 7th overall. He is a superstar. 
focused for prologue

Still smiling after McKenzie pass stage.

Love me some crit racing.

Hate me some road rashing. Dr. Brenna helping me out. Me screaming. Tim laughing.

Thanks you to BMC for a great week of guest riding and Matt Lasala for some great photos!

Friday, July 15, 2011

High Desert Omnium & Chugging Beers at the Blitz! July 8-12, 2011

It feels like summer, except for the weather. Lots going on and always fun stuff to look forward to. And so little time to sit at the computer. This past weekend, due to some changes in my schedule, like not going to mtb nationals, we headed to Bend for the High Desert Omnium. 3 races in 2 days. Thought I would grab a bit more fitness before I attempt Cascade. It went better than expected, winning the crit and TT, but screwing up the finish to the RR. Oh well. I got the coveted mug and made a bit of cash and felt better. It's nice to see progress. Tim raced with the pros & had a good time hanging out with Ryan.
It felt really good to win. Photo by Matt Lasala.

I always giggle at the seat height difference.

The big prize.
 The highlight of the trip, however, was the Blitz 2 the Barrel Dash for Cash on Tuesday night. On Monday, Ryan shuttled me up to Wanoga so I could do a downhill recovery mtb ride. It was rad. I am an 'earn your turns' kind of gal, but what a treat. I did it again on Tuesday with Kelli, Alice & Husky around noon to get lines dialed for Tuesday evening. Lots of cash at stake! 
Blitz to the Barrel was not your typical race. A shuttle super D on great trails with $100 primes along the way. What's not to like? $1000 for the winner. The field was strong, but I knew where my strengths were. It was a very casual, fun vibe. My plan was to get the hole shot. Aside from a slipped pedal, I made it to the singletrack first, but apparently did not get the 'hole shot', as I took the 'canadian line' and cut off Tina after she had already hit the line. Silly rules! But I found out that riding lactic, my lines suck and everything I had in my brain from pre-riding disappeared. I just rode. Although leading to the first passable area, I found myself washing out and needed to just remember to breathe and relax. Kelli came bombing by and I grabbed her wheel, only to have us both miss the left and off went Lizzy. We recovered. They took off. I held steady, but just needed to relax. So fun. Crossing the hwy, I was in 3rd and back about 15 seconds. I knew there were some serious pedal parts and climbing and I was going to try to catch LIzzy. I kept having glimpses of her jersey ahead of me. And then it happened. I started having lot's of problems riding. My front was low. Not totally flat. Probably around 8-10 psi. I had burped on something. I kept riding, then finally was forced to stop. I went to grab my air out of my saddle pack thing and NO AIR! I had my chuck, a tube, and a lever. NO AIR. HOW  STUPID CAN I BE? I forgot after traveling to WI, I never put it back in. So much for my false sense of security having that on there. I pedaled cautiously, hoping it would hold, but knowing I was losing time. Alice finally came up on me and typical Alice fashion, "Butler, what's wrong with you?" Graciously, she pedaled round, dropped a co2 out of her pocket, I stopped, put in some air and was on my way again. For a while at least. Through some more of the technical stuff, it must have burped again. And when I came out at Tethrow on the pavement, it was low. But I was not quitting. They were Stans rims, so I knew it was solid. I did the 'speed trap' with a low front and went to go across the round about, a truck pulled on the round about where I was headed. Change of course. Turns out, bikes don't steer so well with a front flat. I almost ate it in the curb, but saved it and came to a complete stop. Yikes. Eventually I stopped again and put the rest of the air in and limped home to 10 Barrel, still in 4th by a lot. I had time. It could have been worse. I could have been walking. Thanks to Alice Pennington for saving the day!  But the race was far from over. We had to chug a beer. Apparently I have some mad beer drinking abilities. Must be a recessive gene, because I was 'best so far' for the entire night, after getting most of the beer down in one chug and the bottom bit in another attempt, only to belch and throw it all up. It was classy. Then the last gal pulls a beer bong out of her camelback!?!  How can I compete with that???? It was great, except she didn't drink hardly any of the beer, so it came down to a tie. And the tie breaker? Arm wrestle. I've always said, these guns are for show. And sure enough, she showed me. Kelsey put her full body into it and I went down so fast, it was embarrassing. But a great evening of fun with some amazing women that like to ride in the dirt.

Dirt lovers. photo my Matt Lasala

The gal that taught me to descend. Trans Rockies 2006 partner & good friend, Anna Vacca.

All smiles post race. Or drunk smiles.

Yep, she put her whole body into it and took me down. I'll give her that, but I was ready to ARM wrestle.

I had to leave Bend reluctantly and come home for a few days before heading back on Monday for Cascade. I did squeeze out a breakaway win at Tabor on Wednesday, getting back to my streak. Damn that asthma attack a few weeks ago. I could have made it 3 years without a loss at Tabor. But I took the series with double points. Wednesday night worlds has ended for the summer and it feels like summer hasn't really started. It looks like the weather is turning for the better today. Fingers crossed. Off for a weekend of riding in the dirt. So excited...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SIX Hours of Mt. Hood + 6 hours around Mt. Hood = a pretty good JULY 4th Weekend!

Happy 4th of July!!! I hope everyone had a spectacular weekend. I sure did. The added sunshine and beautiful weather made it even more spectacular. But cabin time is always appreciated. Add a houseful of great people. You have the makings for a great weekend. OK, we may have been a bit overstuffed, but we always say, 'the more the merrier'. 
Tim and I headed out earlier on Friday than normal with grand thoughts of deck time and sunshine, only to be held up by standstill traffic on i-84. ARGHHH. We did make it and had some 'foofy' drinks to kick off a great weekend. The troops began to arrive. Just Kendra and Melissa for dinner that night, then the gradual invasion began. 8 people Friday night, 17 people Saturday night, 16 on Sunday and back to 5 on Monday night. FUN STUFF!

foofy drinks...

The Wenborns join us for foofy drinks.

Saturday we hit the trails for some fun mountain biking in the hood. It feels like it has taken forever to get our trails open, but let the fun begin. We did 8-mile, Knebal and trail 450. Gotta pack it all in while we can. A great group and a great ride.
Jennie, Kendra, Tim, Melissa, Trevor, Mike & Tim. Great crew.

The first of many great dinners over the weekend!

Sunday we headed to Ski Bowl for some fun mountain bike racing. Tim and I teamed up for the mixed category of the Six Hours of Mt. Hood. We had a good strategy of one lap on, one lap off, with Tim leading it off. Turns out it was a good strategy, but a few minor glitches put us 5 minutes off pace with the Penningtons. I'm still not fast enough. We got second again, but had a blast doing it. I rode both of my new bikes and the body held in there. Success all the way around. LOVED it. It was a great scene, great weather, great trails. Hats off to Kris for a job well done.
Chillin' after racin'

The Penningtons won, but had to leave. The Gaertners & us.

Monday was the annual RAMHOOD. Why we picked the day after the race, I am not sure. I am sure it is only the first edition this year, but we rode our road bikes around Mt. Hood. 6 hours of spectacular weather, 90 miles and 8600 feet of climbing. I was very tentative about my participation, but I am happy to report, I felt pretty good. My body is responding well to the gradual? increase of riding. I have to say, it was the best route yet, adding in Spring Creek Road and staying off Hwy. 26 and the weather was perfect. What a great way to spend the 4th. And then I got a bonus night at the cabin. Life is not too bad.
Ramhood Crew: Doug, Seth, Lindsay, Rob, Melissa, Me, Mike, & Tim.

Two of my favorite things: Tim & Mt. Hood.

Loving the gravel of Lolo Pass.

A quick catch up for the rest of June! Elkhorn, Pro XCT WI, etc.

It is true. Somehow summer makes everything busier. Throw in an injury, a bunch of PT, a struggle to come back and get into shape, a trip to MN & WI, and boom, the blog gets outdated. Fast. A quick recap with some pictures is long overdue.
Since I wasn't quite ready for Nature Valley, I decided to give Elkhorn a try, with some very strict instructions from my PT. If it is too much, I needed to make sensible decisions. Elkhorn is not your 'normal' road race. It is 4 stages packed into 3 days with a lot of climbing and long miles. Normally it would be a cinch, but on the comeback train, it proved to be too much. Friday I got dropped, but finished with the chase group a bit back. The TT was a total debacle. And the Dooley stage (102 miles & 8000+ ft. of climbing) was a bust. I had to make a smart, but tearful decision to not finish. I had already lost the small main pack that remained at mile 60-ish and rode 25 by myself, but then my body gave out. I was doing myself no good, so when the very kind parents of Ryan Miller asked if I was ok, I tearfully said, no, I don't think so and took a ride in. But the training was good and it was a step in the right direction. A quick day at home and a visit with my PT, I packed up to head back to MN for a family/racing trip.
Although I had bailed out of the NVGP, I wanted to still go back to see my family, so I decided to at least do the Pro XCT race in WI. I figured I could maybe do a 90 minute mtb race on really fun trails and a stx race. I arrived to MN to storms and lots of rain. NOT HAPPY. But I trained with a smile, visited with Aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters, then headed to WI with my mom. A 4.5 hour drive to the middle of nowhere. We rented a little cabin and despite my very lackluster results, I had a blast. 
The XC race was brutal, but my new Ridley Ignite had its inaugural tour on singletrack and it was a blast. I rode technically o.k., but with a back row start & no top end fitness, I quickly faded and for my first time ever, I was pulled in a domestic XC race. Georgia so kindly asked afterwards, having heard me cheering for her at the finish, What happened? Did you flat?. No, Georgia, you were too fast and I was too slow. I got pulled. I take solace in knowing I wasn't the only one and I wasn't the first or last one pulled, so it was great training and a lot of fun. And my technical skills were still pretty o.k.
In the short track the next day, I had glimmers of hope. Despite my last row call up and almost getting taken out in the start, I was able to bridge forward a bit. It didn't help that the girl in front of me totally ate it in the sand and I came to a complete stop and had to bridge up again. But my mom said I got as high as 9th. I was feeling worked, but was happy I felt as good as I did. I was railing corners and having fun suffering trying to just pick off one more spot before I blew sky high. But then I took myself down, too fast on a grassy slick corner, both tires out from under me and all the wind was out of my sails. I was done. I had nothing left. That last lap I was a deflated balloon. But one with hope.
 After a nice visit with family, I returned home and got back to business. I was happy to be back for Mt. Tabor, because this is a race, despite my current fitness, I can still do well in. I won the first one. I was going to do my best to try that again. I needed an ego boost. No suck luck. I made a rookie move. In the excitement of being back, I forgot to take my inhaler. I remembered after the first lap. I had a nice reminder. I couldn't breathe real well. I thought I may be able to muster through it, relaxing on the descent, get my breathing under control. Each lap got progressively worse. By the last climb to the finish, I had given myself an asthma attack. STUPID! I was angry at myself, a bit scared of my lack of oxygen and just mad. How could I forget such a simple thing? I guess my habits have kind of gone to the wayside with the lack of training/racing in the past months. Never again. And that brings us up to this past weekend, which deserves a post of it's own. Thanks for coming along on my ride...


I didn't know all these years my dad can vacuum.

My nephew Alec & niece Abi. Breakfast self photos.

My sister Cathy.

My nephew Musa.

My mom and Oma.

Our little cabin in Wisconsin.

Mom making me dinner in our little kitchen at the cabin. Thanks Mom.

In order to see Abi & Alec, I had to get them out of the corn bin.