Hurt in the Dirt

Hurt in the Dirt

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Home Sweet Home

The weekends of the past few months I've put my family, dogs, and school to a small extent on the back burner. In place of these priorities, I selfishly packed up my bike and riding clothes and drove South on Fridays in search of warmer weather. I've been living in my coach's basement in Cedar City or in hotel rooms in Vegas with other Northerners desperate to escape the cold and snow for a few hours of riding on the dirt before making the long drive back on Sunday night. Tomorrow marks two straight weeks of being home, the longest span I've spent sleeping in my own bed since cyclocross ended.
This weekend since the weather forecast in St. George predicted rain, I figured I'd stay home and ride. Better yet, I'd stay home and catch up on my masters project that I has been neglected since I turned in the first draft in the middle of January. Oddly, I continued to haul my laptop and 10 lbs of articles and other papers on each weekend trip. I subconsciously knew I was never really going to take the time to work on my project while sitting in the back seat of the car or at night in the hotel, but it made me feel better if lugged it around. The last week or so I have been feeling the crunch of March 1st...presentation day! If I can hold it together until March 1st and funnel my energy towards finishing this presentation then I'll be able to breath. Well at least for a few days until I start stressing over studying for my certifying exam! By the way, I'm proud to report I have been very productive thus far and I still have all day tomorrow!!
My cute nephew Atticus

Another good reason to stay in town this weekend is family. Lots of family chose to come visit O-town this weekend. My dad and stepmom from Jackson, my cute little nephew from Vegas, and even my uncle/aunt/cousins from the SLC are staying in Ogden for their annual ski weekend! Much to my surprise I think Brandon and I have come up with a plan to manage our time wisely and will be able to see a little of everyone! This makes my mom and grandmother smile...they are always "mentioning" how they never get to see us!

In fact, this weekend has been full of things I'm glad I was here for including Brandon receiving his shipment from Verge of the Roosters Bikers Edge team jerseys. With his team manager counterpart Jonny out of town at Frost Bike, I was glad I got to be there to share in the excitement of big boxes full of bike clothes arrived. We've had a constant stream of team members stopping by to pick up their goods!
One of the many boxes full of bike clothes crammed into our extra bedroom

I don't believe in fate or that "things happen for a reason". But, I must say there were a number of included, that aligned just right to keep me home! And I must admit, had the weather forecast been 70 and story may have been different. So, no fun tales of trails and friends this time, but thats fine by me. I got to catch on the things that are way more important than pedaling a bike yet always seem to take a back seat without a complaint.

Tomorrow includes more training, homework and family plus a little skiing! Since I tortured myself at crossfit and on the trainer today I decided I deserve a little time riding the ski lift. Well, after our sunrise skin up Snowbasin that is. Gotta love those early morning hikers as you sweat your butt off in temps less than 20 degrees, heart rate jacked as you climb up a hill that is meant to be skied DOWN! On a lighter note, it is quite peaceful to watch the silent sunrise atop the snowy mountain. But then the silence is usually broken by our group panting like dogs as we slide our skis uphill. That and Lady Gaga of course! Tricia and I have become accustomed to the nasty comments we get about our teeny-bopper music selections. But hey when I'm on the trainer, skinning up the mountain, or doing anything else that causes similar pain...I NEED my music!!

And now off to another family event. Time to relax, laugh, and forget about school and training. Something I rarely get to do!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bikes don't pay the bills...spread sheets do!!

After yesterday's ride on the Ogden's North Shoreline trail I had to check my calendar to make sure it was really still February. I was afraid that I had been so engulfed by school and lost the last two months of Winter! It felt way more like April if you ask me. And "they" say global warming is all a scam... ah huh. Talk about two amazing days of riding. The "North Side" (as its affectionately called by the local Ogden riders) was crazy good for mid-February, despite the rare patch of mud and about a million hikers with their trail-blocking dogs. Its amazing how many people came out of hibernation to take advantage of this warm weather weekend. That many people crammed onto a small section of trail doesn't allow for much flow during the ride, but that fact that I was sweating in shorts and a long-sleeved jersey in the middle of winter kept me smiling. Even more exciting was the fact that it was a truly sunny day without the typical middle-of-winter inversion the Wasatch Front is so famous for. Add in some good friends and you've got yourself a full out mountain bike party!

Speaking of good friends...Its sorta funny, just about all of our tight-knit mountain bike group are really smart engineers. Well except gym-teacher Tricia, forest ranger Eric, brew pub Brandon (my cute hubby), and doctor helper me. Seriously, in Ogden, is seems like your chances of finding a mountain biker who's not an engineer is pretty slim! Anyway, these guys (and Mary) get excited by silly things like Excel spread sheets and seemingly useless data--by the way, its only useless to me because I have NO idea how to interpret it! These smarty pants friends are nice to have around when it comes to things like power meter data. My husband's employees already think we are all crazy anyway because 99% of the time the topic of conversation at our weekly beer and pizza night at Rooster's is none other than...bikes. Now throw in terms like "watts per kilo" in the mix of engineer geeks/bike addicts and you've got one confused audience. Recently a few of us were lucky enough to have some testing done with the famous Max Testa and we just got the results back on Saturday. So of course we have all been clenching to the results like its our new bible. Comparing data, complaining about our weight or how the test was flawed...blah, blah, blah. Well at the meeting spot of our afternoon ride today we decided that with all these spread sheet data peeps, we are fully capable of doing the testing ourselves. I mean seriously, we have a few power meters, data-savvy people, and a book on power. How hard could it be anyway? HA! I guess we'll see how smart we really are or if we even partake in this grandiose plan of ours to outsmart those who have spent a lifetime of research on perfecting power.

Forest ranger Eric, gym teacher Tricia, me, and smarty engineer Chad.
(A few of us counting on the smarties to break the "Power Secret")

In the mean time, we talk big of this great plan and continue to clutch onto our priceless test results from Max, you know just in case the plan falls through. Ever so focused on that goal power threshold we hope to achieve before the bike season begins to pass us by. And boy does it pass by quickly when you have a full-time job, school, kids, etc, etc. Ahhhh, the life of a competitive racer who also has a full-time career! Its a little like living a dual life--racer starting 5 pm Friday, responsible employee by Monday morning. So until we optimize our power obsessions enough to pay the bills by riding bikes...Its off to work as usual Monday morning! Just for the record, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my friends figure out the power secret by August. Because for me that's when school ends and work begins...AKA Graduation. Ooh it would be nice to graduate to a career in cycling. But, just in case it doesn't happen I suppose I could always fall back onto this PA-thing (I hope you're picking up on the sarcasm, I know deep down the PA-thing is the golden ticket)!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegas or Bust!

Here I am spending another Monday night catching up on a weekend worth of chores and homework. That seems to be a common occurence that last couple of months since I've been going on my "bike binge" weekend trips to St. George/Vegas. This weekend I was lucky enough to get three full days of riding and go with some of my favorite riding partners! We were like a bunch of high school kids again going to our weekend road trip! We decided to go cheap...stuff 5 people, 5 bikes, and all of our bags into the truck we borrowed from the Greenwoods' dad and drive to Vegas. Then we'd share one hotel room taking turns sleeping on the floor and packing our bikes in the corners of the room. You know for a group people with the average age of about 32 years, college degrees, working in respectable careers, making decent income...why is it we borrow our friends dad's truck and cram into one hotel to save a few bucks but we don't bat an eye at the thousands of dollors spent on our super light-weight, carbon everything, bikes? There is a serious problem here! Or at least some would say our priorities are a little skewed.
My favorite "gym teacher" friend Tricia had the horrible idea of leaving on Friday at 6 AM so we could get south early and ride. Doesn't she know that because of school I never get to sleep in past 7. Couldn't she give me ONE day? Truth is I was planning on going to an early morning workout at Bomber Athlete but was forced to miss it due to this departure time. Oh well, I was willing to make the sacrifice for some extra hours riding in sunny warm Hurricane weather on the JEM trail. Boy was I ever diasappointed...
Early Bird Tricia at the Silverton Hotel               
You see, we Utahans like to pronouce things a little funny, like for example "we live by the Rocky moun-uns" instead of mountain. You know, like with a T. Anyway, the little town north of St. George--Hurricane? AKA Hurra-cun! Well we found out how it got its name...HurriCANE! Talk about Gayle force winds! Let me preface this story by saying my fellow riders are diehards! They pretty much have to brake a bone or a bike in order to cut a ride short. Well now they can add 30 MPH winds to the list. We happily rode the Gould's Rim trail which was mostly sheltered from the hurricane winds only to be hit by the strongest head wind EVER at the beginning of JEM. We suffered about 20 minutes of downhill pedaling before we cried uncle! We ventured back out to the road forming an aero roadie paceline, but the passing semi trucks and rumble strips in addition to the wind was too much. So Chad and Trevor used their internal GPS navigation and boldly lead us bushwacking through the sage brush and cacti in search of the Hurricane Rim trail which was the way back to the truck! We took the straightest line alright...cursing and complaining about the cold the entire way, until the boy scouting skills of Chad and Trevor actually worked and we ended up back at the truck. Definately the weirdest 2 hours I've ever had on a mountain bike!!

Bootleg Canyon--Day 2

Day two proved to be sunny and warm enough to erase the horrible PTSD we had suffered...Bootleg Canyon! We started the morning with 60 degree temps and finished near 70. Perfect January weather I'd say. Chasing the boys was a great test for my legs and mind! They are fast and incredibly skilled techincal riders. This proves to be a recipie for disaster if Chad is the leader. "This trail is a little techy" he says with a smirk. Translation: Chad will be riding all of it, Trevor and Eric will be riding most of it, and I will be dismounting and walking...a lot! Because I hate crashing on sharp rocks and I really hate crashing then falling off 100 ft cliffs! Those of you who know the Boy Scout trail will understand this! I was quite pleased with myself leaving Bootleg having ridden more techincal spots than normal and in one piece. After refueling at the usual spot in Boulder city, Capriotti's and Starbucks for sandwiches and coffee, we headed back to our redneck hotel...the Silverton, home of a huge Pro Bass Shop/Outdoor World.  Land of stuffed wildlife, camo everything, and giant aquariums with real live mermaids. R-E-D-N-E-C-K!

Second attempt at this rocky section after a tree aburptly haulted my first try!
Blue Diamond, NV
Day three we headed west to Blue Diamond for some Joshua tree, desert trail riding. Its quaint town with a church, a library, a bike shop, and lots of good riding! Oh, and a bunch of wild burros. Its so crazy to be riding along and see little donkeys on the side of the trail.
Friendly neighborhood burros

Black Velvet
Looking back at a ride to remember...making mental note for next time!

Who knew Vegas had such great trails? Our friend Chad has been riding bikes all over the US for a lot of years. He is a wealth of bike knowledge. But, the best file locked in his bike brain is the "Awesome Trails to Remember" file. I have never been let down by Chad when he is the tour guide. Late Night trail  and Black Velvet trail are on my list of all-time faves for sure! The trails are flowy with sections of rocky technical spots that keep you on your toes. You have to stop every so often and look around to truely appreciate the landscape. We were lucky to have awesome blue skys and warm weather both days in Vegas.
Eric, Tricia, me, and Chad on Late Night Trail. Thanks Trevor for taking the pic!

What a great weekend! Trips like that make me forget that I'm doing "Winter Training". Great friends, great trails, and warm sunshine! But now back to reality... Monday night back in cold, snowy Ogden. Already dreading the Tuesday morning 4:30 am alarm clock awaking me for a pre-hospital trainer ride. At least I'll have sweet dreams of Vegas trails!