Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The debut - Pro XCT Fontana City National!

Let's just say I was stoked when after a little bit of prodding I was able to get my upgrade to the Pro/Elite ranks for the remainder of the 2009 race season. I am still a little sad about missing out on points/ranking that I would've gotten for a possible top-5 at Bonelli Park in the Kenda Cup West, but no regrets. I'm stoked that I was given the opportunity to race with the fast ladies for the rest of the year!

Last week was a rollercoaster for me with a lot of unknowns! Was I going to be lapped and pulled? Would I be able to complete all 4 laps at race pace? No more what-if's!

Friday afternoon came around quick enough, and Justin and I packed up the goods and headed north for some course recon. We had ridden the SRC course the weekend before, but found out last week the course would be changing drastically, with a "new" climb up the old elevator/ladder ascent! It was rumored to be steep and loose.

It was pretty warm when we were suited up and heading out to ride, but I figured it would be similar to race conditions come Sunday. We headed out for a cruiser lap and even though there hadn't been hundreds of feet pounding up the hill yet, it wasn't a climb I was able to clean! I hopped off and hiked up, and we finished off the lap talking race strategy.

We finished up a second lap, and while I felt like I could do more, I knew it was time to call it a day. I took in some calories and we headed south to get back home and cook up dinner.

Saturday was a really chill day - short ride with a few efforts and then hanging out and completing race day prep (getting the bikes dusted off and in perfect condition, putting all the bottles together, packing the cooler with food and water, packing up clothes, etc.). It was supposed to be really nice and easy, but unfortunately Justin took a digger in the last few minutes of our ride and wound up with some massive bruising and cuts. He wasn't sure he would able to race. As much as I would've liked to sleep in on Sunday morning, and not have to worry about support and feed zone time, I told him that he had worked too hard to not race; if he could walk - he would be on the start line!

Sunday morning came around quick and we wound up with a killer parking/pit spot that morning that would yield a ton of afternoon shade (and a front row seat to the motorcycle show!). Justin set up the pit area and got his bike on the trainer while I sat in the truck trying to stay warm and figure out what I was doing racing Pro!

He had to do an extended warm-up as they delayed his start a bit. But, it seemed to work out okay. He took off for the line and I gathered up my chair, his race bottles, a water and a bar for me, and took off to catch the start.

After his age group took off I went to find a spot to hang out in the feed zone. Sat down with my feet up on the mini-cooler for a bit until Tim from Troupe Racing came over. Cool to finally officially meet and chat with him! His team continues to grow and is getting great results.

I realized after the bottle hand-off on lap 2 that I had never done a bottle hand-off before! Good thing it went smoothly!

Thanks to Mark for the photo with my camera!

The other laps went off without a hitch, and I cheered on some of my Cat 1 buddies (Rachel, Lisa, Heidi, Steve, Ryan). I noticed some of the Cat 1 women in my AG looked fast! They were smoking out there!

Justin seemed to be easily in a top 10 position throughout. I had trouble keeping track since everyone got mixed together, and a few of the front runners weren't "marked" with their #'s. Either way, as Justin set out on his 4th and final lap I started back to our pit area to get on my race clothes and do my warmup. Time was running out!

Hopped on the trainer right around 11 am (11:30 start!) and was hoping I'd get in enough time. There was a pre-race call-up that would be going on. I found out that morning that I'd be called up last since I was the newest racer (no results). I had assumed as much, so wasn't worried about it. Just knew it meant I had to make some smart decisions and try to pass where I could!

Justin came back over a few minutes after his race, and a few minutes before mine. He did a few last minute bike checks as he said he got 5th in his AG!! Awesome!

I quickly rolled over to the start about a minute before the call-ups began. It was so cool lininng up behind the World and National champions!

My nerves seemed to be in check, but the HR was definitely slightly elevated!

Soon after it was GO time!

The start was a mad dash off the line. No one hesitated. There was some jostling for position and some slipping and sliding. I ran up a few of the hills I was hoping to be riding, but no worries. We all kept it moving!

I put my head down and cranked out the flats and before I knew it I was on Krista's wheel heading up the big climb. I wound up off line and had to run up the entire climb! So painful! I was not about to give up any positions, though.

I spent the next half a lap trying to decide if I should put in efforts and pass, or just sit in. I passed a few times. Two of the women caught back up to me on the rocky climb near the end of lap 1 and passed me back as I had to dab and run up the hill.

Lap 2 I wound up passing Chloe and Kathy and spent the remainder of the race putting in efforts to stay in front of them and not let the gap close down. Kathy was putting in some massive efforts on the climbs to close the gap, so wherever I could I was pushing it to keep it steady!

Lap 4 I begged my legs to hold out for another 20 minutes as I continued to put in efforts.

I spent a lot of the race on my own, sometimes in the wind, and sometimes just enjoying the singletrack and railing the course like it was a Sport SRC race! I was suffering pretty badly cranking along, but kept it moving. I decided lap 4 I wasn't going to hold anything back and cranked out the final turns and finish straight harder than I had any of the other laps. I wasn't sprinting for position, but pretended like I was!

I was so stoked to have finished and held on to a top 10 position! The women I had gone back and forth with were great competitors and kept me challenged. It was great!

Due to the effort I was hurting pretty bad. Breathing was painful. I took off shortly after I came through to hop back on the trainer and do a good cool down. The motorcycle show was about to start, so we needed to get back to the parking lot before it was a mad house!

I was having trouble thinking straight, but Justin hooked me up with my road shoes and some post-race nutrition. All I wanted was a wet towel and some water, so I focused on taking in some fluids and cleaning up my face before I did anything else.

Stoked, but in so much pain!

Not too long after Justin went to get our free In & Out, so I figured I'd spin until he got back. I was ready to enjoy the fruits of my labor!

(First lunch)

Eventually I got myself together enough to go watch some of the Pro Men's race. It was awesome to watch all those guys come by!

We hiked up the elevator/ladder climb (again! #5 for the day!) and I sat down for second lunch

A few minutes later I realized it was women's podium time, so I headed back down the hill to cheer on the top women. Amazing efforts!

Eventually we were running out of steam (and out of water), so it was time to head home. I enjoyed some quality time on the couch…

Overall, I am totally pleased with my day. I can't wait to keep testing myself and learning this year. I hope I am able to remain competitive at this level. I've got a busy 2 months ahead! Very excited about it all!

Monday, March 30, 2009

US Pro XCT Fontana City National

Well, Sunday has come and gone! Just a super quick update...

I finished 10th Pro woman overall at the US Pro XCT race this past weekend! Absolutely stoked on my result.

Full write-up of some sort coming soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Midweek update - in photos

"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free if you truly wish to be."

I love food!

Only had this one night, but it tastes good. Might go back to it next week a few days.

We saw about 4 of them on Sunday morning

I was so worked that I couldn't even hold myself up. Thought I'd get that one for posterity.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It was a beautiful day!

Don't let it get away...

I almost let the day get away from me before it even began. After being a bit overreached after my last cycle and not feeling too great during regen, we were questioning the ride for today. We talked about doing a different ride, but I hadn't done Palomar since September, so it was an itch that needed to be scratched.

Friday night Justin gave me a killer massage and then I sat with my legs up and we had a amazing and anti-inflammatory dinner.

The beer is for James

We shared another tonight!

The alcohol goes straight to my legs, though.

So, I felt pretty good after the evening. Woke up this morning and had my super stout oatmeal and was feeling good. Then I realized it was kind of raining outside. If I were Superman, rain would be my Kryptonite. Not *really*, but I'm not a fan of rain. Luckily earlier this year I did a few rides in the rain, and I didn't melt or get really weak, so I just packed warmer clothes and off we went.

By the time we were on our way to where we park the skies were clearing and I managed to get in a positive, "If this weather holds, it could be a great day!"

It was pretty warm by the time we finished getting ready, and we'd seen a big group heading up the hill before us. Justin wanted to catch some carrots! I thought I wouldn't need my cycling cap for awhile, so stuffed it in my pocket and up we went.

The climb starts out literally right away.

Justin was already pulling away, but I decided to hang back and get in a solid warmup at my own pace.

Yeah, I had to stop to put on the cycling cap pretty much 8 minutes into the ride.

I made sure to check out the sights this time up... It was such a pretty and green climb (as opposed to the end of summer).

Long road ahead... and a few other climbers along the way

Photos from the road...

Breathing hard after a 60s effort

Moto photographer

I got about 2 miles from the top and realized I was not going to beat my previous time up South grade. I thought that was really weird, cause I sort of felt like I'd been booking. I'd passed quite a few people, put in 2 hard efforts where I totally was on, and amazingly enough, I felt *really* good. Oh well. I put in an effort, and then realized that I wasn't going to break my time anyway, so I shouldn't burn the matches. So, I slowed up a bit. Then I put in another effort. I think I did this 2-3 times. Got up to the stop sign and hit the lap button (from the left turn/pavement change). Well, that was it!

Met up with Justin who was sitting down munching on his PB&J bagel (trying to eat real foods instead of bars). I immediately sat down and started to chow on mine also. I did a minute or so of stretching after and Justin was getting cold and ready to head down the East grade.

About 20 minutes later we were turning around (at the lookout, instead of 76) to head back up. I switched around my cycling cap from descend to ascend.

Immediately upon starting to climb back up (we had over 8 miles) I felt horrible. My legs were not coming around, and what was worse...my stomach was severely unhappy. I'd taken in a lot of readily available carbs and fats and calories, and none of them felt digested. I had no idea how I was going to make it back up the hill.

I was barely hanging on and Justin turns around and says, "Let's do a 5 minute effort; hold my wheel."

That just about broke me. I mentally felt like I was right back on the edge. I tried to steel my resolve.

A few mintues later I was pulling around Justin and feeling pretty good, somehow. My legs didn't feel great, but I went for it anyway. Kept it sub-threshold, but was still working plenty hard!

This one is for LMN...

Tried some new "recovery" strategies. Drink mix that was posted up on empty beer and then cereal at home. I've tried the cereal before. We'll see how the legs feel tomorrow!

The beer went straight to the legs again tonight. On the plate? Chicken, salad, whole wheat pasta, and more beer!

FWIW, I came home and downloaded the Garmin. Realized looking at my splits that I beat my time by just over NINE MINUTES! I had the times wrong. Ha!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Something different

Thanks all, for the discussion on pre-reg. I don't think I got anything figured out, but it helps to share experiences ;)

Yesterday instead of hitting the weekly dirt we decided to change it up! Well, except for Luke, who has been relegated to tarmac only for now.

My legs were not ready for that kind of effort and I'm still feeling it today. Not sure if I'm still "overreached" or just ready to get back to it after a week of regen. Tonight is going to be focused on getting a few things done and then active recovery (light spin, blood flowing, legs up, short massage).

We'll see what happens out there tomorrow. I think I will be dialing back my planned intensity for the weekend either way.

The boys heading up the road (I struggled to hold on all evening while I tried to "regen"!)

Justin out on the open roads of the loop

It was pretty spectacular out there last night... Clear blue skies, perfect temps

Mentally I feel great!

Dinner! Soo good. We polished off all the leftovers. My beef intake for the week has been met (roast beef and turkey sandwiches Tues, Wed, Thurs, beef tacos Tues/Thurs, and steak on Wed!)

Tonight's dinner should be DELISH. I'll try to get a shot before I dig in. Grilled salmon, Trader Joe's brown rice medley, and leftover salad from a few days ago. So good! Dinner of champions.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Call to Arms?


...and gentlemen.

I have a general question, and it isn't aimed at anyone, I'm honestly just curious. Why don't people pre-register for races? I know *some* people do, but a lot of people don't. Especially mountain bikers. Luke today said it was because of money. So, I guess if you are on the fence about a race and you don't have a lot of money you are saving it to see if you actually want to race? What if you *know* you are doing a race? Does it save money to register on site?

Maybe it saves money. I don't think it does, unless there are online registration fees, and no late fee for registering at the site.

Is it so you aren't "marked"? I know I did a race report last fall where half the people in my category didn't get their legs marked or pre-register. I doubt it was related to money! So, what is the reasoning here?

I do understand timing issues, money issues, etc., but a lot of people seem to not pre-register for other reasons that I don't understand. So, if you are one of those people that waits and registers on site... what's your real reasoning??

If you're going to race either way, sign up ahead of time! I'm guessing it saves some time and effort on the part of the race promoter, staff, and volunteers. That's a lot of info to type in on race day, especially at the larger events.

Guess it is a good thing the field isn't limited like at Downieville, huh?

Anyway, if you're on the fence about the first installment of the US Cup Pro XC Tour at Fontana next weekend (March 28-29) - sign up now! It's going to be bigger than Bonelli, and a lot of fun. Donny at SRC runs some great races, and with Sho-Air doing the series and promotion this year, it should go off with a bang!

Check out the series info to register!

Ladies in particular! Let's show our support for racing and get out there.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Last week I learned what it meant to really stand on the edge of the abyss and look into it and not really know what was going on.

Learning how to train without a dedicated coach, I think, is a process. A learning process. I'd been doing really well with the help from Luke and lately with Justin helping to layout specific workouts at lunch and ride with me. Two weeks ago I felt like I was nailing the workouts. The weekend started out well, and hit a low point Sunday after some super steep climbing… Tuesday I was still sore, but put in 1:40 of ride time anyway, and did the same on Wednesday, with some LT efforts on the climbs. Wednesday night I ran out of gas, and by Thursday I was a complete wreck. I started out eating way more food than normal, and was hungry for it. Stressed out all day (it had been a long week emotionally anyway), wasn't sure how to handle stuff, got into arguments… I was fine as far as looking forward to the ride, but I broke down less than an hour in, and due to arguments Justin called the ride. Probably for the best, but I didn't want to quit and give in.

Luckily we got home early and I was able to pack for the weekend. By Friday I'd done some re-assessing, and by the time Saturday came around and Justin got back from his bike fit I was mentally feeling good, even though phyiscally my legs weren't feeling spectacular.

Justin got his new bike fit from Mike at Max Performance Bike Fit. I thoroughly enjoyed mine, so wanted Justin to get himself fit properly to his new race steed also. He was stoked on the fit, and picked Mike's brain about my recent issues. So, I'm working on a few things now to try to get myself where I need to be. I'm glad that I learned what I did last week last week, instead of in the middle of summer and the peak of racing. Needless to say, I'm ordering up a few nutritionals and changing a few things I buy at the store to help myself out. I was eating plenty, but I need to add in more red meat and probably more protein to stop muscle breakdown as well.

I'm working on ending some of my obsession with numbers - we'll see how that goes!

Saturday I had a loose idea of a mountain bike ride we could do. It was really freaking hot when we parked a few road miles away from the fire road climb, but we headed out with about 45oz of liquid and plenty of food. It took some time to find the route, and up we started to climb. I was sweating like crazy.

About a mile up the climb I noticed a weird jerking with every rotation of the cranks. I stopped and told Justin. He was sort of on edge from the hard block of training, the heat, lack of food, etc. He hopped on my bike and said it was just the suspension.

I questioned that again, and he eventually found my cranks were loose. They'd be fine the entire climb until then. So, we "rode" (I sat with no pressure on the pedals down a rocky fire road descent - un yay!) back to the truck. He tightened them up in about 3 seconds, and we drove back up to where we'd ride from dirt again. We had something to eat, had a few sips of water, and took off. I didn't think we needed to refill the bottles since we hadn't drained that much to begin with.

Take 2

Not too long after we met up with Dunn Rd. was I noticing that I mentally wasn't there. The legs were climbing fine, the HR had settled down, the heat wasn't bugging…it was just a boring fire road that I didn't know and had no idea where we'd wind up.

The views were pretty cool.

I kept looking at the clock thinking, "How much further do we have to go?" We got to the famous tractor and intersection of a few trails and stopped to take a few pictures.

We took one singletrack offshoot and wound up in a sandy wash. With no idea of how much longer that went on, we turned around to head back to the fire road.

As we were about to head up the fire road some more (actually there was a bit of descent and then some flat pedaling in our future, it appeared) I noticed the trail sign for another singletrack, so we opted for that instead. It had been part of the Palm Canyon Epic ride that we were a part of a few years ago, but due to a few mechanicals we opted for a descent down to town instead of more climbing and riding that afternoon. I had no idea how long it was, or how much climbing was required to get back out. We decided to ride it for a bit and see where it lead.

Desert in bloom

Eventually we got to a bit of a lookout, but I couldn't see where the trail lead. Justin opted to continue, despite the fact that our liquids were running low.

Down and down we continued… I stopped worrying about running out of liquid and instead started having fun on the descent.

We wound up seeing another mountain biker stopped on the trail looking at his drivetrain, and he gave a few ideas of directions, so I felt okay about the ride back out.

We got through the next two sandy wash sections (very short) and I knew we were close to the fire road again. I started to hammer through the rolling terrain and shared my appreciation to Justin for pushing on so we could enjoy *some* part of the day. It was a pretty fun singletrack, and I almost wish we would've gone back and done it again! :) We did wind up running out of water after our last food break, right before the descent.

I decided to bring "real food"

We got back and snacked a ton, then Justin set to work making some BBQ'd pizza! Just like a few weeks ago, only twice as much and on the grill. It was delish.

After that someone said Girl Scout cookies, and I think I ate half a box of the Caramel Delites by myself! Soo good! Went to sleep too late, and way too full, but that's what weekend's away are for, right?

Sunday we got up and I made a huge bowl of oatmeal, we downed some coffee, and sat around planning the route. We got a later start than planned, but it worked out. I wasn't even remotely hungry on the ride out, and made sure to have a gel shot and fruit leather before we started our "climb" just because I didn't want to bonk.

Once we "rolled" into Palm Springs proper it got really windy.

The head wind was so crazy heading toward the Tramway Rd. that our speed dropped from about 18 to 12.

Yeah, the sign is being blown around.

We made the left turn and headed up the road, with mostly a crosswind. I don't recall it being really bad as we took off, but I do remember that all of a sudden my pace slowed to a crawl thanks to the grade going up from about 1-2% to 8-9%! It sneaks up on you.

Justin started pulling away, and moreso as we reached Elevation: 1000ft

1000ft face

I tried to keep a steady pace. The grade wavered between 8-9% and 10-12% pretty steady. It didn't APPEAR steep, but I was moseying along in my granny feeling like I wasn't getting anywhere.

Elevation 2000ft

Getting harder to breathe, but it wasn't the "jump" in elevation, just the steady grade

I could see the parking lots for the Tram and a guy directing traffic and figured I had to be close. Out of the saddle, cranking along, getting nowhere… a guy with a big lens takes a few pictures as I drool on my top tube and sit back down, briefly…the grade got up to about 16% and didn't dip below 13% again until we got to the top.

Justin had rolled back down to me after he got to the upper parking area and I asked where he stopped his "lap". I stopped mine at the bridge also. 0:30:44. Not too bad considering it was the last day of my build cycle, I had teetered on overtraining, and the legs weren't feeling all that great anyway. No idea what typical times up the hill are, but I was satisfied. It was 3.6 miles on my Garmin, and I believe around 2400ft of climbing.

We out of the saddle climbed the short bit to the main building, and sat down on the benches to rest and eat.

After a bar, refilled bottles, a few pictures, and getting cold from the crazy chilly wind we decided it was high time to descend.

I had been digging the cycling cap keeping the sun from my face, but as soon as we turned downward I was completely convinced my helmet straps were going to break loose and my hat was going to go flying with the helmet attached. The wind was RIDICULOUS!!! We got to a short rise and I pulled off to turn the hat backwards and re-tighten the helmet.

It was a bit better after that, until the last half-mile or so. Then a crazy crosswind hit me and I thought no less than 3-4 times that my bike and I were going over. I slowed down a ton to try to fight the forces and keep it in control!

We got back to Highway 111 and it was SMOOTH AND FAST sailing for a few miles with a CRAZY tailwind! So much fun going 28MPH and barely turning the pedals over.

The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful. I did note, though, that despite pretty bad road surfaces and super narrow crowded roads, the drivers in the PS area are much nicer, more respectful, and more forgiving than any locally. It was freaking Sunday and we only got yelled at out of a truck once, and I don't think anyone swerved at us. We can't ride anywhere in town for more than 5 minutes without both of the above happening 2-3 times. Weird, huh?

My mom and her boyfriend were pretty proud of our effort, so after we ate leftover pizza (and I had a few more cookies) and we headed over after their golf game they introduced us to a ton of people saying we just got back from riding over to the tram and back. A few of the ladies said they wouldn't have driven their car that far!

It wasn't a huge ride by any means, but we both felt like it was a solid ride and were fairly tired after. We hung out for a bit lounging around, then headed home to register for the Downieville Classic (All-Mountain World Championship!). I logged in right at 8 and while I knew it sold out before, kind of laughed it off when Justin asked if we got in. This morning I checked before lunch and all of the AM categories were full. Glad I registered last night!

We're hoping we can get up there a few days early to do some preriding, testing, and acclimating! Either way, should be good times. I love it up there.

And, I wouldn't want to forget the exciting news of the day! I'd requested an upgrade following Bonelli, just to see one last time if I should stick it out and pick up jerseys like they were going out of style this year, or fight tooth and nail to finish mid-pack with an upgrade. I hadn't heard *anything* so I started sending out inquiry emails. Later this morning I got my news…

"The following request to change your NORBA category has been approved and processed…"

Stoked! And nervous. But, I'm pretty excited. No time like the present to step it up and see what happens. I don't know how I'll do this year, but I'm going out to do the best I can at the events I attend, and learn as much as possible.

Looking at my ATP (Annual Training Plan) I now have crossed off two of my season goals. STOKED! I think the remaining goal I chose really wasn't appropriate to my season, so if I don't wind up hitting that one, I won't be too disappointed. Probably would've been better served to pick a goal that had something to do with XC instead of big time endurance. But, my focus sort of changed after last November. At any rate. My training objectives are also going well, and I think 2009 is really shaping up. I'm excited for what the year will bring and hope I can look back on it as a success.