Hurt in the Dirt

Hurt in the Dirt

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Catching up!

Wow, it's been a really long time since the last post and lots has happened since our trip to Rabbit Valley! My emergency room rotation has taken over my life causing me to work all kinds of crazy hours leaving me to fit sleeping and riding in whenever possible. To make things a little more manageable I have stayed local this month and raced two local I-Cup series races. And even more importantly the weather has finally decided to act more like spring, meaning I have spent a little more quality time on the trails. Poor Brandon has been so neglected this past month sometimes the only time we "see" each other is when we happen to both be sleeping in our bed at the same time. I think he has officially become numb to this whole PA school routine because when I ask him if he feels neglected he didn't even seem to really notice a difference from any other rotation! Crap...he such a better spouse than me!

The weekend following Rabbit Valley I made the long trip out west of Utah Lake to 5-Mile Pass. Out of the entire I-Cup race series this was the one that I had never raced. The last two years it rained the weekend of the 5-Mile so I had never made it out. Interestingly I had heard rumors that it was not the favorite course of most of my friends (due to it lack of singletrack, we are so jaded!). But never the less, I trekked out and saddled up! All of the fields were small for any number of reasons, but mostly because 12-hours of Mesa Verde had swallowed up a big portion of the local UT race community. The pro women group consisted of Sarah and others, just us two! Well, ok then, we'll just have to make it a training ride and catch as many of the expert men as possible! The course was a fast 11-mile loop on double track used by ATVs. In the middle was a steep, loose, hike-a-bike section--baahhh! After the first lap I found myself in the middle of expert men racers and Sarah was no where in sight - very uncharacteristic of her. Usually when she is out of sight its because she is way ahead of me! So I continued to push on knowing she would be chasing hard and because I wanted to match last year's female winner who finished in 2.5 hours. That meant I needed to do 50 minute laps and I was a couple minutes ahead of schedule. The laps flew by and the temps near 80 degrees made it feel like race season! In the end I did finish under my goal time, I felt great about my effort, and my bike functioned perfectly. Unfortunately Sarah had to drop out of the race because of belly problems so I won by default! I was a bit disappointed that there was not a field of women to race against because I was not sure how I would have measured up against Sarah, KC, or Erica, the girls I'm usually battling with. I felt really silly standing atop the podium like a loner, but felt better after I reviewed the results and found that based on finishing times I would have been on the podium in all the expert men categories. I guess it just confirmed that I did earn it!

Really...was it absolutely necessary to stand here like an idiot!!
Last weekend the I-Cup race was originally scheduled to be at Sundance, one of my favorite places to race because the course is really fun and because it was the site of my very first MTB race four years ago and my first race against the pros last year! Unfortunately the snow pack is holding fast at Sundance so they were forced to move the race to Soldier Hollow in Heber City. Like the weekend before the bike gods gave us plenty of sunshine! Brandon and I jumped into the famous Jamis team van and rode up with Jason Sager. Between Sager and I we brought 5 bikes...can you say high-maintenance?! Jason's excuse was product testing. He was on a mission to figure out what bike was the fastest, hardtail, full suspension, 26'er, 29'er, so many options. My excuse was I wanted to race the hardtail but brought the dually as a back-up.

4 of 5 bikes the two of us brought!

I hadn't pre-ridden the course and wasn't sure what to expect so my plan was to try and stick on a good wheel for the first lap and see what it was all about. The pro women field was a little better than the 5-Mile Pass race so I had gotten what I asked for and now had the usual suspects to test my legs against. After the first climb I found myself out front...well so much for my plan to follow a good wheel! I had to change my mindset and figured I would just ride as smooth as I could and not make any stupid mistakes that would jeopardize my position. If someone wanted to pass, ok, just hold their wheel. About half way through the first lap my hardtail was climbing well and I was feeling pretty good. There was a short steep pitch ahead so I did what seemed like a good idea- shift my front derailleur to the small ring! Oh boy...chain suck! By this time Erica and I had a small lead and were doing our best to widen the gap. Well that's hard to do when you have to get off your bike, fix your chain, and push it up the steep pitch! I was forced to suffer up the main big climb in my big ring for fear of the dreaded chain suck if I shifted down. Near the end of the climb I needed the small ring and took the chance...yep, chain suck. Once again I forced Erica to break cadence and put a foot down, oops! While cussing my bike Erica and Sarah were calmly passing me and I turned to see KC not far behind. Trying to stay calm I fixed the problem and jumped back on in full chase mode. I made it to the feed/tech zone and Brandon was ready with my spare bike! What are the chances I bring two bikes to a race and actually need them both-Just FYI, its never happened before! We did a quick cyclocross style exchange and I was off to chase. It took the entire second lap and Erica crashing for me to move to second place. At the start of the third lap I finally caught up to Sarah! We decided to push the pace as much as possible up the big climb and before I knew it was in the lead at the top. I knew Sarah was capable of gaining a little time on the descent so I let 'er roll downhill knowing full well it was my race to lose so make NO mistakes! I could practically feel Sarah breathing down my neck and my legs were twitching and on the verge of cramping on every little thing that required a short bout of effort. Reminding myself to make no mistakes I pushed through the last few flat sections and was able to hold onto the lead for the win! Yeahhhh, my first real win of the year. Man did I need it too! I proved to myself I was capable of chasing back on and still having enough in the end to hold my pace. It was a huge moral booster!

Despite the crazy ER hours I finally feel like I am getting back on track when I comes to fitness. I need this weather to cooperate and continue to stay healthy so my training is worth while! Two good race weekends in a row was nice and hope to keep it rollin'. I plan on staying local for the next month and racing I-Cup and continuing to improve my fitness. The next big test will be the Subaru Cup in Wisconsin at the end of June. In the mean time the Draper race on Memorial Day is next on the schedule. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole!

Another race in the books! This time me and few of my best riding pals road tripped it to Rabbit Valley near Fruita, Colorado for a Mountain States Cup race. Since this one of our most memorable biking destinations we were all quite excited to race there. After working in the U's ER until midnight on Friday, I crashed at my friend Amy's place in the SLC for a few hours before jumping in her sweet new Subaru for its maiden road trip, new bike rack and all!

We arrived in a sunny, yet windy Fruita for a pre-ride. The looming rain clouds chased us the entire 2 hours of pre-ridding, but we escaped the rain and enjoyed the scenery. The race course snakes around the edges of mesa tops which overlook the Colorado river. This is one of many reasons I love to ride my bike in Fruita, the views are amazing and never ending.

One of the few awesome views in Rabbit Valley

Starved from our long drive and ride we headed toward Grand Junction to meet up with the Davis's and Foss's for dinner at the Ale House. Cool thing about racing during the Fruita Fat Tire Festival...lots of stuff going on. Bad thing about racing during the Fruita Fat Tire Festival...lots of people enjoying all the stuff going on! In case you weren't aware, mountain biking and beer go together like peas and carrots! Therefore, any place called the Ale House that has beer tasting during a mountain bike festival is going to be beyond packed. Good thing the world's greatest beer store was located just a few doors down from the restaurant because we had about an hour to wait before our table was ready. This beer store has a huge walk-in cooler with beer from every neck of the woods. It was so fun to walk around and look at all the flavors and labels. After we combed the place with a fine-toothed comb, between the six of us I think we left with about 100 beers! Chad was in heaven!!

We woke to more sun and wind for the race on Sunday. I was excited and ready for a race to go well. The race started fast on the flat double track and before I knew it we were 10 miles into the 32 mile loop. When I reached the only long climb of the race around mile 12 or so the leaders were in sight just a few seconds ahead. The climb took us atop a mesa which was covered with whoops from the moto riders which made it difficult for me to find a pedaling rhythm and taxed my legs more than I expected. By then the top 3 girls were soon out of my sight but I continued to push knowing that I would soon have a descent that would allow a little time for recovery. This was the only section of trail that I hadn't pre-rode the day before and it proved to be more challenging that I had anticipated. There were a ton a little drops, rough rocky sections, and Juniper trees jutting into the trail that grabbed at my handlebars. The Junipers took a few victims including one of the expert men riding just in front of me who caught his handlebar on a branch and it caused him to endo down a little 2-foot drop. Ouch! 

By the time I hit mile 20 my legs were screaming at me to slow down! I made sure to keep the guy in front of me close and push through the last section. The last 5 miles started with lots of downhill sections but I knew the last 2 miles were going to be tough because it was a long flat or false-flat ATV road with a steep popper-hill right near the end, just in case your legs hadn't suffered enough. I came across the finish line in fourth place, 7 miles behind the winner Teal Stetson-Lee. My bike worked perfectly and I felt pretty good with my performance. That's what I was looking for so I guess mission accomplished! 

I still feel like I have a long way to go on my fitness level but there just aren't enough hours in the day to get where I want to! Oh well, only 3 months left of school and until August 5th I'm concentrating on making the most of the time I do have and having fun riding my bike! 

Amy enjoying some time off from clinic and riding the trails on her Jamis!