2015 MBAA Team Relay & March Colon Cancer Awareness

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It’s March. Which means it’s colon cancer awareness month. So…ask me why I’m Blue!

 

Getting a bunch of mountain bikers together to race bikes, cheer on teammates, drink beer and raise awareness for important stuff like colon cancer prevention. That’s what I wanted to do and it came together as a first-class event!

Get some!

Get some!

Sunrise Le Man's Start

Sunrise Le Man’s Start

The MBAA’s team relay race, “Marc in the Park” is a super fun way to boost team camaraderie and racer confidence and it was a perfect opportunity to promote the March campaign for colon cancer awareness.

 

Thanks to some pretty awesome sponsor support, we had rad schwag to give away while educating the folks out at the race. Northern Arizona Gastroenterology and Forest Canyon Endoscopy had Dr. Hawthorne on site to answer questions, a tutorial life-like colon (not to be confused with life-size) and fun prizes like necklaces, footballs and noise-makers…which were a hit with the kiddos, much to their parents dismay. CCA campaign 2015 GUGU Energy Labs, always stepping up to support a great cause, provided some of their newly branded bottles, caps, gels and recovery mix to hand out at our display. Nothing draws people in like awesome free stuff…then ya nab ’em quick and teach them a thing or two before they know what hit ’em! ;)

Throw, learn, win!

Throw, learn, win!

 

I created a ball-throw game to lure people in for some fun. They got questions based on their throw and after an ‘open-posterboard’ quiz, got some cool prizes. Dr. Hawthorne made sure to elaborate on all the hard stuff and helped people assess their own risk of colon cancer. I think we reached at least a few people and definitely brought attention to how important prevention is to a lot more out there. Prevention is better than cure!marc21marc11

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Pod-ium!

Team OVB faired quite well at the race! We put together 5 quad teams and came out with a 2nd place Mixed team finish and a 4th place Master Men. Everyone had a blast and rode their hearts out! I saw our peeps sprinting into the exchange both on bike and on foot after the dismount. There were some PR’s to be captured and some peeps with super fast laps. It was truly awesome! I chose to ride my singlespeed Fate since the Epic was needing a front shock resealed and in the shop. It was a last minute decision, but turned out to be a good one. With two of our Mixed squad on SS, we still pulled out that 2nd place! Sweet!

Yea baby!

Yea baby!

 

 

There was some wildlife interaction out on course. As I followed a Nationwide racer on a smooth descent, two deer came into view. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I may not have believed it. I thought to myself, those deer are going to cross the trail. As I feathered my brakes in anticipation of them running right between us…it didn’t exactly happen as my mind’s eye thought it should. Deer #1 slammed right into him and while it kept on running, that biker was flung into the air-rear wheel tumbling over front-rider still attached and smashed into the dirt. Deer #2 ran behind me. I crushed my brakes. “Oh my God” is all I could say at first…the shock of what just occurred…that deer just took him out! Then finally I could see if he was ok. After a few moments to remove the shock from himself, he told me he was ok. Nothing seemed broken (bones, I’m talking), he remained conscious thru the crash and he let me go on to inform the others at the venue what had happened. I hear he is quite sore, but doing ok…lucky…it was not a small deer. I kept my eyes peeled, searching the desert for the rest of my lap.

"oh my gosh! oh my gosh! what do I do!? what do I go!?"

“oh my gosh! oh my gosh! what do I do!? where do I go!?”

 

 

rattler

hisssss….

Then there was a temporary stoppage for one of our teammates (along with multiple other racers) for a trail blocking rattlesnake. With a toll of one venomous bite that no one wanted to pay, they waited. If you’ve never encountered an angry rattler, they are fast and dangerous when its hot out, and you’ll need medical assistance ASAP if bitten. Don’t fight them, you won’t win, go around…and don’t believe those macho men out there who say otherwise. After checking the surrounding cacti filled desert around the trail, they proceeded to walk around the snake (bikes between) and on with the race.

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Junilla Arrieta LMT joined us for a little post-race massage to help keep the muscles loose. You can catch her at Rubs on Oracle right here in Tucson or she can bring her table to you!

 

After the race, the team chatted and helped out with the awareness campaign booth while enjoying some tasty brews from Catalina Brewing Company. Keep your eye out, they will be opening a taproom in NW Tucson soon!

Sippin' on some brew, findin' some shade.

Sippin’ on some brew, findin’ some shade.

 

marc24What an event this was! I’m thankful to be a part of Team OVB, who cheer and encourage each other, who help out and volunteer where they’re needed, who work their butts off on the race course, who come together to promote the sponsors we believe in and raise awareness for things that might hit very close to home for some of us. Thanks for a great day, everyone! And thanks for a great event, MBAA!

 

For more information on colon cancer, prevention and how you can spread awareness, please visit the CCA website, our friendly neighborhood GI doc (<—- click on the sponsor! Over there! <—-) and check out a previous post.

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Ask Me Why I’m Blue

colon-cancer-ribbonIt’s March and that means it’s colon cancer awareness month.

Did you know that colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer AND it’s the third leading cause of death in both men and women combined inside the US? Around 50,000 people die a year from this preventable disease. Incidence rates have been decreasing for most of the past two decades, which has been attributed to an uptake of colorectal cancer screening among adults 50 years and older. From 2007 to 2011, incidence rates declined by 4.3% per year among adults 50 years of age and older, but increased by 1.8% per year among adults younger than age 50. So, with regular screening, colon cancer can be found early, when treatment is most effective. In many cases, screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, earlier detection means a better chance at becoming a survivor. As an ICU nurse, I see the effects of colon cancer after diagnosis within the late stages of the disease and as an athlete, I believe that a healthy lifestyle is more than an ounce of prevention. I am absolutely an advocate of preventative medicine.IMG_0104.JPG (2)

The American Cancer Society estimates over 132,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015 and around 50,000 will die from it in the United States. Colon cancer does exist in my family history and I know I don’t want myself or other members of my family to become one of these statistics. So, let’s take a look at what colon cancer is and how we can prevent it!

What is it? Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, occurs in the colon  or rectum. The colon is your large intestine or  large bowel and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Most colon cancers develop first as colorectal polyps, which are  abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous. Colorectal or colon cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

*A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool

*Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely, rectal bleeding, or finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool

*Finding your stools are narrower than usual

*Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain, or feeling full or bloatedhealthy-colon

*Losing weight with no known reason

*Weakness or fatigue

*Having nausea or vomiting

These symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. Only your doctor can determine why you’re having these symptoms. Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.

Some facts you need to know to increase your awareness of where your risk level may be:

-in 2011, 90% of new cases and 95% of deaths from colon cancer occur in people 50 or older.

-Colon cancer does not discriminate and can happen to men and women at any age. While rates for colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining, incidence rates in adults younger than 50 years has been increasing.

-People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or children) who has colon cancer are between two and three times the risk of developing the cancer than those without a family history.

-Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) may have a higher rate of colon cancer. Partly because of disproportionate screening, African-American men and women have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and a lower survival rate (about 20% higher incidence rate and 45% higher mortality rate) compared to Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans. The risk of death is also increased for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.colon

Unfortunately, the majority of colon cancers are still being diagnosed at late stages.

-40% of colon cancers are found while the cancer is found at a local stage (confined to colon or rectum).
-36% of colon cancers are found after the cancer is diagnosed at a regional stage (spread to surrounding tissue).
-20% of colon cancers are found after the disease has spread to distant organs.

Get screened at 50!

Get screened at 50!

This is why Early detection is so vital — over 90% of all cases of colon cancer can be prevented with recommended screening. Despite its high incidence, colon cancer is one of the most detectable and, if found early enough, most treatable forms of cancer. An increased awareness, appropriate screening and maintaining a healthy diet along with exercise are contributing to increased survival rates and prevention all together. Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer death rate has been dropping. By finding more polyps and cancer in the earlier (local and regional) stages, it is easiest to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.

-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the local stage is 90% (confined to colon or rectum).
-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the regional stage is 70% (spread to surrounding tissue).

-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the distant stage is 13%.
-There are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors alive in the US.

So what can you do to decrease your risk?

-Find out the facts.

-Spread the word! Wear your Blue for awareness and let people know prevention is the key.

-Get your screening colonoscopy!! If you are age 50 or older, you need one. If you have an immediate family history, you may need to start earlier.

-Knock out those preventable risk factors:

-Eat your vegetables and fruits! Get the right fibers and keep your colon flushed out and happy.IMG_1729

-Increase the intensity and amount of physical activity (Ride your bike!)

-Limit intake of red and processed meats

-Get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D

-Avoid obesity and weight gain around the midsection

-Avoid excess alcohol

For more information on what you can do and how you can help the cause, visit http://www.ccalliance.org, http://www.cancer.org/ or talk to your friendly local gastroenterologist.

Yes it is!

Yes it is!

(The statistics above were compiled from the American Cancer Society’s 2015 Cancer Facts & Figures and Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2013.)

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DCB’s Dawn 2 Dusk 2014

Rain. Really?! Nah, it’s southern Arizona, we won’t actually have to race in the rain. Well, it says 100% chance. Oh.IMG_0323
This changes a lot for preparation of this year’s D2D. There’s always big prep for any endurance race: food, water, calorie count, clothing, recovery, gearing; but now with this major rain coming in, the appropriate gear for it must also be packed and carefully thought out. We’re fair-weathered folks down here in Tucson! This could be a big deal :)
I’ve packed everything but the kitchen sink! Wait, do I need that, too? For two days out of town and two people racing a 10 hour race, I feel like we’ve got enough stuff to camp out for a week! Event tents, tarps, the tent walls. Rain jackets, water-proof tights, the most weather-proof gloves known to man (of which I can do nothing in other than hang onto my handlebars). Bikes, food, drink. The list goes on and on.
“What did we forget?”
“Absolutely nothing. I don’t feel like I forgot a thing!” I say confidently. Which is an unusual thing for me to say…
Unpacking at the hotel to repack the things to be left out at our venue set up:
“Where’s my tool kit?”
“Heck if I know. Where’s all the bottles I mixed and labeled?”
“I thought you didn’t forget anything!”
“Crap. I did bring the sunscreen. Damn.”
“Yep, we won’t even need that!”  Mud, it’s nature’s sunscreen.
IMG_2076Setting up for the race, how can it possibly all turn against us tonight? The sun is out, I see blue sky. Ok, there is some wind, but there’s always some wind.
Dinner, a tasty beer. I slept pretty well. Something else I rarely can do before a race.
4am alarm and it’s raining. Pretty sure it’s been raining for hours. I must be honest here: I don’t mind being out riding in the rain, but it sure is tough to start in the rain. I say out loud that I would prefer to start in the dry and if it must, rain after I’m already in the thick of it. I will later regret having said this. It’s like carelessly using the ‘Q’ word at work…always produces the exact opposite effect.q word
With camp set up in the wet darkness and rain gear on, trying not to layer too much as to roast myself the moment I start pedaling; I wander down to the start in chilly rain. By the time the gun goes off, the rain has actually stopped and after the first 2 miles up the road, before even hitting dirt, I feel like I’m about to burst into flames. The jacket comes off and I toss it to Kevin awaiting his turn of a Duo and roll on thru the venue. Massive gloves remain, water-proof tights still on.
What a thrill! There is mud everywhere! Some is sticky, some is slick. Sometimes it’s like riding thru glue. I can’t help but laugh and giggle every time I roll up behind someone and get splattered with ungodly amounts of mud!
“Did I get you?”
“That’s ok! I’m having the time of my life!”
I eventually pedal up behind another singlespeeder and stick with him. We are actually chatting as we finish the climb and begin the first rolling descent. I know what a good endurance rider this guys is, so I look past the fact that I’m not already red-lining and actually riding at a conversational pace and roll with it. I can hear the riders behind us, of whom we’ve just passed and have linked on behind our locomotive, mention the fact that we are “chit-chatting”.
“You want to go around?”
“No.” Well, ok then.
On the last descent before crossing back over to the venue, we ride into a dense fog. Wow! This is really freaking cool! I’m ready to move to San Francisco! Joking, never; but riding thru fog is a fun kind of eerie. It’s quiet, you can’t really see anything around you until you’re right up on it and it’s almost like you’ve wandered right into the picture book story of ‘Where the Wild Things are’. Of course, maybe it’s so exciting because it never happens here; but again, I’m all smiles!
Lap 1 done. I eat a GU and make my way onwards. No need to change any clothes yet, I’m just the right comfy. My Roctane bottles have enough calories and hydration for my size and with this cold weather to last me two laps. Which is a good thing seeing as I left most of my mixed bottles at home in the fridge. Now I know why I usually show up slightly over-prepared for anything, once in a while it comes in handy. I don’t bother carrying any food with me at this point. Laps are only about an hour, I can’t do a darn thing with these gloves on anyhow-I’ve tried before, quite comically so. (But I’m extremely happy to have them! My hands are for once not cold. Yet…) winter glovesCalorie wise, I should be on target to get my 220/hr in, so I feel good about how it’s working out.
Out on lap 2, it starts to get real quiet. Isn’t there a race going on here? I ride for strangely long periods without seeing another soul or even hearing birds or wind or something. But they’re out there. People do pass me. I pass others. Part way up the initial climb, I start to gain a following. At one point I look back and have 5 guys on my wheel. I ask if they want to pass and no one cares to go around. I find it a little comical for whatever reason and smile secretively.
“It’s a good pace!” I think to myself this seems unlikely to a non-solo participant, but alrighty-den; and laugh again when our train starts passing people:
“Left. Thanks.”
“One more”
“One more”
“Oh, there’s like five of us.” I hear back there. The SS solo female on lap 2, leading the way! HAHA It just seems sorta funny to me. bike train copy
Finally as we come into a descent, the second rider comes around, offering to help me out, then proceeds to leave me behind like I’m standing still. Eventually most of those riders pass me on the Tonto descent, too…you can’t gear for everything and this is where I am somewhat disadvantaged to the Gears. Kevin tells me later that Rider 2 saw me pull up to refuel and told him I was riding so well, he actually had to back off on the climb a few times. Dynamo!
While at my feeding trough, Kevin chuckles that I am completely and utterly caked in mud! My glasses have mud all over them. How can you even see? Oh, I guess I don’t notice it all the time. One of the guys next us offers me a beer, I tell him I’m already seeing spots, a beer might only encourage that! I actually got a laugh out of him. I crack myself up often; others, maybe not so much. It’s all good. :)
Laps 3-8 come by smoothly and rather uneventfully. I eventually change my gloves to something more functional, happy at the fact that shifting wasn’t involved while wearing them because even that can be a nuisance in them. I never did take off the tights, the sun peeks thru some here and there; but I never felt too warm so I figure I might be cleaner underneath if I leave them on anyway. At one point, I look at the other riders around me and wonder why they all look so clean. How did I possibly find every inch of dirt and mud out there and that guy has a white jersey on? Kevin will tell you that’s just me-if there’s dirt, I’ll find it…and roll around in it, or at least look like I have!
The laps still remain weirdly quiet. Of course, at the venue, there are always people screaming and calling out your name-it motivates! It is bizarrely peaceful for a lap race, tho. So, I talk to myself. Often. Sometimes in my own head, but mostly out loud. (Don’t laugh, you know you do it, too) I talk about my gearing, it seems perfect. Again, great job hubby on guessing that one! I can sit more than not, of course this changes the further into the race I get. I don’t mind and have found that I would much rather mash standing up on a harder gear than to continually do micro-burst spinning on an easier one. I talk about the creak that seems to become increasingly louder from my bottom bracket. Not that usual little eccentric creak, this is an unhappy dying crepitus that I start to feel as I pedal. I wonder if it will freeze up from all the wet dirt? Guess I better just keep pedaling and not let it stand still too long! There’s not much else to think about regarding the singlespeed…only once did I search for a shifter that wasn’t there. I’m in love with this ol’ bike! <3
Occasionally, I think I see something odd moving out in the desert.
“Hey, what was that?!”  Then I realize it’s the splotches of dried mud on my glasses…hmmm..maybe I should have taken the time to clean them off.
Randomly, there comes this guy standing out on the trail.
“Whatcha got there?”
“Margaritas!” Of all that’s good and mighty… it’s a margarita machine! He can just shoot the stuff right in your mouth as you speed by if you like.margarita machine
I talk to myself about my pace. Feels different than other races in that I don’t feel like I’m blowing myself up the entire time, I almost feel like I’m at a conversational pace a lot of the time. I know this because I am constantly talking to myself. :)  My lap times are fairly consistent, this is how you’re supposed to pace for such endurance events. I think the singlespeed benefits me in this: I can only push this one gear as hard and fast as this one gear will let me for 9 or 10 hours. There’s no going slower uphill because I can gear down to make it easier, no gearing up to pedal faster or longer downhill. There are inescapable exertions and forced recoveries regardless of how you feel. It is what it is and it is what the body will do with it.  (I know, deep, right?)
The wind picks up in here somewhere and a big tailwind begins to push me down the long descent at the end. This helps out tremendously, ok, it helps out on the descent; the climb is now into a headwind so I suppose it evens out…somehow. I guess.
I discuss my food intake with myself. I’ve had to change GU mixes (due to the fact I had left my memory back in Tucson along with my bottles), so in addition to a GU gel with each lap (Roctane keeps me moving!) and my bottle, I also eat a couple of the portables I made. Mmmm…salty baby potatoes…and mini pizza bites! …and chocolate sweet potato mini-muffins! Oh photomy! Calorie and fluid intake still on target.IMG_2715
Coming around to head out on lap 9, I know that I will make it in time for a 10th and final lap-what an accomplishment! With or without gears! Here’s where I wish I had taken just slightly more time to assess the situation in front of me. As I re-mount at the lap-thru, Kevin is also heading out on his last lap.
“Get on his wheel!!” People yell out. Kevin looks back at me and smiles that ‘come on honey’ grin I know all too well. I can only laugh. He takes off like he’s being chased by 5 large thugs wielding crow bars and an unfed bear! I’m left in his dust…or rather mud. Right, I already know he’s gonna work his cute little ass off to stay ahead of me! Go for it babe, I’ve got 110 miles in my legs already, I just ain’t got that kinda fire left in me! …And then, there it is.
stormStraight ahead of me is the blackest, ugliest looking sky I’ve seen up in these here parts…and I’m riding right into it. Oh sure, my jacket and monster gloves would be a really smart thing to have right now; but I didn’t pick them up. So I put the hammer down. I try to find that fire and ride as hard and fast as I can…Uphill, into a massive headwind with leadening legs and muddy bare feet. (ok, I wasn’t barefoot, but that would make a good story right?) And, so it seems, I have put down a tack hammer.
bike storm

Exaggerate? Me? Never.

Maybe I can outrun it. Doubtful. Maybe it will skirt around me. Why would it ever do that? As I get towards the end of the climb, the lightning starts. Beautiful, except for the fact that my bike and I are coming directly underneath it-and no, we ain’t fully carbon here. The thunder booms all around, I can feel it vibrate inside me. It’s just a little bit scary. Can’t stop, gotta just book it outta there. The rain starts to come down. Oh, it stings! Is that…sleet? Yep. Oh goody, hail, too. I am getting wet and very cold. I start to not care, I take chances and slide around corners and pedal as fast as my little legs will let me. I feel a little at ease knowing Kevin is somewhere ahead of me. Wait a minute. He ain’t coming back for me… Fogel’d! Ok, tides turned…I wouldn’t turn back either. Onward with you, fool!

There are others out there, I’m passing people like it’s still lap 1. People yell out my name or ‘great job’. I try to mutter thanks, but I just want to get out of this weather fast!
“Come on, Peeps! Let’s go!”
Hey, where’s that margarita guy now? A little ETOH might have given me a false sense of warmth right about now. I guess he was smart enough to get out of the rain.
Flying down that final Tonto descent back towards the road crossing and then the venue, it’s like I’m barely touching the ground at times. Floating over the bumps and skidding around the corners. Eyes open, but barely. Danger! I could destroy myself out here right now, but YeeHaw! Giddy-up and Go Go Go! (As a matter of fact, I gained back some time on Kevin right here) Every rock and jostle of the bars sent sharp biting pains thru my bitter cold hands, my arms were beet red and completely numb and my teeth begin to chatter uncontrollably.
I pedal right past camp, into the venue and that damn last mud puddle I’m sure was purposely placed prior to every dismount on every single lap just to make sure if you weren’t muddy or wet enough before, you are now. The promoters had all gone off half-cocked on tearing down the venue for concern of dangerously high winds. Hey, we were still riding out there!
I was on target for a 10 lap race and if only I had been smart enough to be prepared for that weather on lap 9, I would have gone for it. Rolling in just 3 minutes before the cut-off time, I didn’t need the 10th lap for the win and I don’t have that many screws loose to keep going; but I did need to get warm ASAP.
I called out “Mark me down for 9! I’m done with this!”
“That was awesome!” The time-keeper gals say. Maybe, more like nuts if you ask me! Ok, sometimes I do think I am certifiable…but only a kinda. ;)
With hands still clenched in the shape of my handlebars, I try to grab enough dry clothes to cover myself and head to the bathrooms to change. The hands are completely useless! I can’t get a single piece of clothing unzipped. I simply can not undress myself. Other ladies come in.
“Sorry, could you please unzip this? I can’t seem to make my fingers work.”
I manage to get the now soaking, muddy tights off along with the plastic bags on my feet (ah! Something to put this mess in!), standing in the shorts underneath which seem to have remained semi-dry, someone else helps start my jersey zipper. Once I get all that off, I realize my helmet is still on my head and in no way can I get a shirt over it. For the life of me, I can’t undo the stupid clasp. For crying out loud. I wrestle the damn helmet off my head with it still buckled and after about 10 minutes of work, I manage to get my sweats and shirt on (none of it an easy task!). I hear Christina come in.

“Oh thank goodness! I need help.” How can she be any nicer, she actually pulls off my nasty compression socks that I’ve had on for 9+ hours of sweat, mud and rain. I believe I couldn’t have done it without her, still be sitting there fermenting in them. After standing under the hand dryer for a few minutes, I start to feel warmer and the pain in my hands cease. This is when I realize I have no shoes. Really, Beth? With warm, dry socks on; there is no way I am putting wet bike shoes back on. Again, Christina saves the day and goes to get my shoes. Thank you, friend!

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Beautiful Ending.

christina

Sums it up! Thanks Christina!

Race over. Storm over. Dry and getting warmer. Teammates jump in to help tear camp down while we’re waiting for awards. I’m ready for my Chipotle burrito and a beer! No burritos? :( Sad I am…someone stole them? Who needs two boxes of burritos all to themselves?? Steph hands me a nice IMG_2221Dogfish Head 120 IPA…and an extra burrito! Awesome…and big enough to share with my hungry hubby! I’m a happy girl. :)
This D2D is certainly a memorable one. Being simply plastered in mud from the moment I hit dirt at 7:30AM until the rain and sleet washed much of it away at 4:30PM, and let me tell you, there is nothing like a little hail after 115 miles on your bike to really get you moving; I had an absolute blast! Smiling the entire epic event (except maybe during the hail :o) and loving every minute of it!

I ended the day in 1st for Women’s singlespeed and 1st Women’s Overall, would have come in 3rd in the Men’s geared and solo competition; I pulled off a total of 9 laps in a ride time of 9h3m and elapsed time of 9h19m, rode 127 miles and gained 8700ft of elevation. This is the biggest ride to date on my singlespeed. I am pretty dang proud of that!IMG_2758

IMG_2763

I like dirt :)

Team OVB made a fantastic showing with 15 teams out there and 3 podiums. Kevin Utley and Jonathan Dufek earned 2nd in the SS Duo, Stephanie and Mark Hawthorne brought home a 2nd place finish in SS Mixed Duo! (The Honeymoon is never over for these guys! ;))  You can check out all the team results at http://teamovb.org/ . Way to go!!
Thanks to all you out there who helped out in mixing bottles, food distribution and clothing changes for this race! Couldn’t do it nearly as efficient without you!
Thanks to all my awesome sponsors and supporters this 2014 year! I couldn’t have lasted thru any of my endurance races without GU Energy Labs to keep my nutrition always moving me forward on the trail. Without the love, support and expertise of Oro Valley Bicycle, I wouldn’t be able to do all the things bike related that I dream of doing. I couldn’t do any better than what Specialized provides in way of bikes for me to perform my best. The limitless encouragement, love and friendship of Hawthorne MD/Forest Canyon and NAzGastro keeps the motivation flowing. Of course, my number one hubby is super at keeping the machines running and providing unshakable optimism, I couldn’t ask for a better partner on this adventure through life!
I am so grateful for every opportunity that has come my way and for this life that I live!IMG_2757
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See you all in 2015 when we’ll be thankfully welcoming back some wonderful people, racers and sponsors and super excited to greet some new ones!! Stay tuned! <3
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Yee Haw!

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Gratifyingly Crushed at The Point 2 Point!

p2p flyer

When do I sign up for next year?!

 

The Park City Point2Point. Not for the faint of heart. Not for roadies on fat tires. Not sensationalized into something it’s not. It challenges your mental prowess, yet has you grinning from ear to ear.  The P2P is an adventure style event- it’s not a closed course, hold-your-hand kind of an event. Definitely one of the best races I have ever done…and also one of the hardest.
We’ve been to Park City the last four summers, it is indisputably a mountain biker’s paradise with over 400 miles of trail! These Utahans know how to engineer good trail and they do it often…each year there is newly constructed singletrack. Park City loves their mountain bikers as much as their skiers and they cater to the lifestyle. With bike paths all over town and between all the resort areas, markets, fairs, breweries (be sure to get it in a bottle tho!) and miles upon miles of singletrack from one side of the mountain to the other and up and over and down-you get the picture. Downhillers, climbers, XC…there is something for everyone. Did I say I love it here?! Oh, I do! Yes, I’d heard of the P2P and considered it a bucket list event; so when Kevin, less then two weeks before the race, says “Let’s do it and I already got us transfers in”; I said Heck Yea!photo 2photo 1

The race involves 13,000+ ft of gain in 75 miles, all at altitudes between 7200-9000ft, on over 90% rideable singletrack (I’m pretty sure it’s actually more) and you never travel same trail twice. You start from one resort, roll thru two others and end in a fourth. There is everything from flowy, dry sagebrush in Round Valley to the rooty, aspen gauntlet of Deer Valley, riding high among the alpines of PCMR and down, down, down the rocky goodness of The Canyons. And this happens in 10 days?! Whew…ready or not…here we go!

Nutrition for this particular race was a very important part of my training. Since there really wasn’t any time for any specifically focused physical training, other than throwing in some intervals and relying on the base mileage I already have; everything else was what I put in my body to help me get ready. So how do I get ready for such an epic event at high altitudes.  The key is hydration. Hydration and a lot of beets.

Why beets?ode to a beet Beets have a high concentration of dietary nitrates. Our bodies convert nitrates into nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax and widen (vasodilation). This allows more oxygen-rich blood to flow through the body and the more oxygen that reaches the muscles, the longer they are able to perform at high intensity; essentially, the body is able to do more work while using the same amount of energy. Athletes have tried to trigger vasodilation with various banned substances, including hypertension drugs and erectile-dysfunction medication, for years; albeit some of those may be more fun off the race course, simply consuming large amounts of vegetables that are high in nitrates, such as spinach, carrots, radishes, and beets- which packs the biggest punch- offers the same performance boost, safely and legally.  I love beets!

As for hydration, obviously performing such a demanding task as endurance racing, we are already hot and sweating, losing precious water. Due to the decreased pressure at altitude, moisture evaporates from the skin more rapidly and we also breathe deeper and faster- more water vapour lost as a waste product of breathing. This now makes the body work even harder inevitably making you hotter. The body’s natural response to this is to activate the mechanisms to regain a normal temperature….by sweating. Now you are losing vital stores of water from sweat, breathing and more sweat.  There you are, dehydrated, before you even knew it. Pre-hydrating before an endurance event at altitude, you can help stave off headaches, lightheadedness, nausea and the dreaded fatigue. Don’t forget you need to keep drinking that water once you’re there!

Adding in a extra carbs prior to and for the first few days of your arrival at altitude can also help in adaptation. Carbs can supply more energy for the same amount of oxygen in comparison to fats and protein- converting energy more efficiently. Of course, it would be preferable to use whole grain sources of carbohydrates because, let’s face it, the processed, white stuff offers nothing good for you. Some of you may say ‘Great, carbo-load!’. Not exactly the same thing and a whole other discussion in itself…for another time. Moving on from all that scientific stuff…I could go on and on about such things as vitamin C and antioxidants and iron…I’m such a nerd.

ND heck yes

 

 

For such a hardcore epic race, there is no giant build up. There’s really no build up at all, we had trouble even finding where it started the evening before on our pre-race recon. There is no shuttle to take you from start line to finish line or vice versa, if you don’t have a driver, you ride. It’s not sensationalized to draw in everybody, nor should it, this mountain biking stuff is quite dangerous and riding bikes is hard…I mean I had to sign my life away four times before they would give me a number plate! ;)ride at your own risk

 

The two guys who run this race really know how to put on an event, although, how can they not with this kind of opportunity to show off Park City’s fantastic trail network to people who truly appreciate them. The volunteers are fantastic, always smiling, the course was superbly marked-not once did I question if I was going the right direction in a place where trails fork off everywhere; something even with a good sense of direction, I have struggled with in past races. The feed zones were organized, it was easy to find our drop bags and people would jump in to help you get food, mix bottles whatever you needed to get back on course. They have an enduro section complete with prizes, they even have an “I’m Somebody award”…I like it. :) With keeping registration relatively small over the event’s six years running, it never feels like the trails are over-crowded. All reasons why this extraordinary race sells out in less than 5 minutes…this is the race mountain bikers dream of.

They say you can get lost...this sure made it easy not to!

They say you will get lost…

course markings

…these sure made it easy not to!

 

So we begin. Up at 4:45. Quickie yoga. Coffee! Small bite to eat. And off on our bikes, drop bags slung over shoulders, pedaling thru the darkness to the start in Round Valley. We pick up a few others on the way, all of us hoping we know we’re going the right way. Of course, none of us have lights, because who wants to carry them thru the race. Bags dropped easily. Real bathrooms! -a luxurious and important piece of real estate before racing. To the start line and bang! Well, more like a ‘pop’. It was a confetti gun. It’s a “mass” start, but chip-timed so everyone’s time is true to them.

confetti gun  Paved road for a quarter mile. Super sharp left turn, around a metal pole, onto a bike path. Crap, there’s one gal already off her bike here! And then we climb. Singletrack comes within the first 2 miles and then it’s every man, woman or child for themselves. I went into this race with no expectations. I started it with high aspirations. I came to the conclusion after the first 15 miles that I just wanted to finish it.

Round Valley is a little dry and dusty, flowy with some rocks and roots thrown in. It should also be renamed Windy Valley. It was playing follow the leader at this point. I remember it feeling a little like the corkscrew roller coasters: swerving back and forth, bank left, bank right over and over. The gal that pulled ahead of me during the first climb, I reeled in and passed in the curvy descent; of course, at the next hill I was again behind her. The bike was riding well and I was sticking to the trail. After about an hour, we made our way back past the start line and out onto a paved path leading to the next set of trails. Round Valley would be the only dry part of the course. With rains during the previous week, the rest of the course was in absolute perfect condition. We finally start making our way into the trees. Climbing thru the forest with not much more to listen to but your heavy breathing and tires crunching over the trail. There are other riders around, but everyone’s too busy focusing and finding lungs to talk much. You wind around coming thru Deer Crest and then into Deer Valley. The hills already are eating me alive! Keep thinking ‘oh my god, really?’ and then you’re rewarded with an exhilarating descent. All the previous suffering you experienced just minutes before, disappears into a blur of trees. A grin plastered upon my now slightly muddy face…until the next gut busting, switchback filled climb (altho perfectly made switchbacks, I might add). Mile after mile this pattern appears. I’m dying. I’m flying! I’m falling apart. I’m soaring!

Deer Valley belongs to those who love they’re handcuff handlebars, of which I am not. Man are those rooty trees close together! I hooked my handlebar on one, recovered just in time to hit the tree on the other side and go down. Luckily I was actually climbing at the time, so the slow motion really was slow and other than a slightly embarrassing moment and a hard foot down, no harm was done. I gotta watch out for that, and on one of the descents, there is was. Two aspens, the width of my handlebars apart, two giant sets of roots jetting out of the ground between them to which I shall go up and over. Nope, this will be the only spot I get off my bike and walk. There was no way I was fitting thru there and I honestly don’t think I would have.photo 4

The first aid station comes in at mile 28 at upper Deer Valley. Not eating as much as I should be, I choose to use the higher calorie drink mix. My portables are not working out quite as well as I had planned and I depended on those for some of my calorie intake. I had decided to use a nice little food trough attached to the top tube of my bike for easy access. The Bento-Box was a great idea; however, I didn’t realize what shoving as many of my muffins I could cram in there would develop into. They got a little smashed. Ok, the bottom ones were completely ground into the box. Do I scrape them out with my fingernail? Oh, I have gloves on. So no. Guess I’ll just eat the surviving scraps. I never thought to even consider the hair. I’m a girl. I shed. It happens and yes, my hair is everywhere. So somehow, hair has now embedded itself into my remaining smashed portable delicacies. I bite in, I discover something stringy that most certainly does not belong there. There’s no end to these hairs! Whatever, I need to eat and as I chew I have pieces of muffin dangling down my chin by said hairs until I can stuff the rest of the muffin in my mouth. I sure hope I don’t choke on this. Who here knows the Heimlich? I then begin to wonder- will tomorrow’s morning constitutional also be strung out on hair like today’s meal of muffins? …yes, I do actually think about these things. I’m sure you’ve all had some strange thoughts roaming around in your head while you’re suffering amongst yourself, don’t pretend like I’m the only one. I will, surrender poophowever, spare you further details regarding the hair.

 

 

 

 

I still rely on my GU- that trusty high octane Roctane. For less bulk and easy access, I squeezed multiple packets of the Orange/Vanilla and Lemonade Roctanes into gel bottles and marked them where I needed to suck it down to each time for quick reference without requiring too much thought. I don’t want to have to think during an endurance event like this, the thought process better be completed ahead of time when I know I’ll be able to still think. I can fit two bottles on my Epic (that’s right, 2. On my small full-squish. I still get excited about that.) which I continued to refill with Roctane brew at each aid station. This worked quite well, being able to drink calories and not have to take time to fuss with individual packs of the GU, I was able to maintain an appropriate caloric intake for myself. I did use my mini Camelbak, holding 2.5 bottles of water, up until the PCMR aid station at mile 53 when it was drained and I was happy to ditch it. The mini is actually a perfect fit for my size, it sits above my pockets making it much easier to get in and out of them.

Ok. Off from aid 1. I am somewhere like 5th or 6th female at this point. I work as hard as I can on the climbs, but man, my lungs are just on fire. From here on out, it feels like I’m being passed by every other person on the trail. The 60-something year old guy on a single speed (with some ridiculous gearing, I might add) chatters at me as he mashes by. A very noticeably beefy guy spins past me…on a climb. (what?)  A girl in a skirt…with baby braided pigtails…calls out “You’re doing great” as she leaves me for Fogel climbing out of PCMR. Fine. I don’t even care because after hauling my breathless tail up the those heart pounding climbs, I get to go down…and fast. Nature’s own amnesic.  And oh how I love that.

free bacon  At mile 35, there is a small water and bacon stop. I don’t know what it is about all this bacon. Do people even like bacon? Burp that up while you’re riding. I think it’s all a conspiracy.

I skip it. The weather is actually rather cool, for being a Tucsonan, and I’ve been known to be something of a camel during races (yea, um, cause I hold my water well, k…) so I have enough water to make it to mile 53, the next aid station. Here comes a super fun, technical, rooty, twisty enduro section on John’s leading into a smooth flowing downhill- seriously, this is like the most fun I’ve ever had! Holy crap I never want it to end! It does end tho… right into a wall I’m expected to ride up. And then the Steps. Oh heavens, what do I even say about the Steps that the name doesn’t already imply? We go up them. It’s a little loose. It’s extremely steep. I’ve ridden these before, it wasn’t easy then but I don’t recall them being this absurd. I manage to ride all but one foot down in a switchback. I talked myself into it by saying I could take a break at the top; but, of course, at the top there comes another blue-ribbon descent in which I lose myself in and forget again all about what I just went thru to get to that downhill.

Up again around Shadow Lake. It’s dark and woodsy. Smells like pine. It’s very still out, maybe only the occasional bird or squirrel heard and not a breath of wind. I’m sure it could rain any minute. Two deer cross the trail at a dead sprint in front of me. Although the incline is painful, it sort of gets washed away as I watch the scenery pass by and enjoy the mystical feel of the surroundings. I am recognizing some of the trails now and we’re on the only other bit of double track since leaving Round Valley and the brief road crossing from Deer Crest earlier in the race. Once past the lake, it’s down on Pipeline and CMG for a long, long time before hitting PCMR-mile 53 and the place to refuel again. These descents are sick! I can’t get enough! I am just skyrocketing down them at what must be mach 9, my face flushed back from the massive g-force I’m pulling. I keep focus. I stay off the brakes. I let go. It feels good! It feels really good!  According to my Garmin, my max speed was only 32mph-I’m sure it must have missed something cause I know I was screaming fast! speedy gonzales

We enter Park City Mountain Resort at a fast pace and roll right into the aid station. I find my drop bag and ditch my Camelbak. A random nice guy hangs onto my bike while I stock up on fuel. No more muffins for this little lady, but the baby red potatoes…Oh those salty little potatoes are a delight. Popping one of those extra salty lil guys in my mouth made me forget all about the hairs of past portables. Everyone should have a tasty baby potato smothered in salt, it’s like a kick in the seat of your pants. Of course, the aforementioned Bento-Box promptly ejected these heavenly treats on the first set of bumpy downhill roots I bounced across. Damn. That damn Box. I retrieve my last mix bottle of Roctane, ask the guy to keep an eye out for a tall guy dressed like me (my hubby :) ) to ride thru looking for our drop bag and immediately ride UP out of the resort. I actually see people walking UP out of there, it was pretty stiff. Next stop, mile 62 and the last mini-aid station before the final push home.

photo 8

Switch!

Armstrong now, a good climb- gradual, not sprinty with lots of switchbacks and tree cover. This is where the rain starts. It comes down throughout the entire climb up and continuing down and over towards The Canyons on Mid-Mountain. I keep thinking, it’s raining, but I’m not sure I’m really getting wet. The canopy of trees helps to protect from the elements. Thankful for that. I climb with a fellow Arizonan, from Phoenix. He sits on my wheel all the way up the climb and part of the way over. We chat some 3-4 worded sentences and I ask if he’d like to go around, but he refuses. Says I’m plenty fast for his taste. Alrighty then. The trails start becoming rocky. They’re a little slick, but manageable and I’m just a little more cautious until the sun comes back again somewhere on a descent off mid-mountain and things start to dry out. Somewhere in here, the Phoenix guy finally does go around and I continue on at my own pace. I think I’m somewhere around 7th place by now. People aren’t really passing me or being passed by me anymore. I’m ok with where I am. I went into this race at the last minute with no actual training for it and coming off a couple weeks of fatigue. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my race up to this point, so I’m just gonna keep to that.

There’s more up and down and all this part of the course seems just a tad bit easier than the previous 62 miles, which could all be in my head; but I’m ok with that, too. The final little ‘Oasis’ comes into view before crossing the road and heading down the Rosebud and Rob’s descents. It most certainly is an oasis. I honor my hard work with a Coke and a chocolate chip cookie. They are divine. The only time I ever drink soda is at a time like this. Almost done, still some hard work to do, a quick sugar bump. As much as killer cokeI am against the Coca-Colas of the world, a product I can actually use to scrape the rust off a car bumper; I would certainly pay any amount of money right at this moment for just a few sips of one. Yes! I am ready for the finish now!

pain cave (2)

Why, yes. Yes I do.

More awesomely fun descent and I can see The Canyons resort. I can hear the music and announcers at the finish line. And then, for some reason, I am riding away from it…uphill. What? What is this? Oh, you little teases. For one brief, tantalizing moment, I am headed down another titillating descent toward the finish line and in the next I am most definitely climbing far, far away from it. This is the only time during the entire race I start to feel slightly dejected.  My head runs from positive thought and takes a nose dive into the dark pain cave. A little whine comes out of me. The guy I totally chicked on that last downhill is creeping up on me and at some point says, “Yea, I’ll just get around you now”. Ok. The Ambush, so appropriately named, will end and the final descent into the finish will happen. Moment of dejection gone. I thought I could make it under 9 hours until I hit the Ambush awaiting me around that final bend. I tried to ride down that last trail as fast as I could, but in the end I came thru at 9:16. It was a great way to finish off such an epic race! We come together with the downhillers, who are using a lift to access everything I just worked my little ass off getting to, and down into the music and cross the finish…after diving thru one last lake of a mud puddle, which was basically unavoidable. Yes! Done. I made it. This was the most fun I’ve ever had getting my rear end handed to me! I am totally doing this again next year!!

So. According to my precious little GPS: I rode 87.4 miles, including the spin to the start and the crawl home from the finish-racing 75 of them. I climbed 13,254 feet at an average of just over 8.6mph. My total moving time for the day was 10 hours and 10 minutes with a race time of 9 hours 16 minutes, of which I was stopped for 10 minutes of. I finished 8th in the open women, an hour and a half behind Gretchen Reeves. And that’s ok…I loved every minute of this day.

There was a lot of meaningless chatter in the 10 days before this race comparing the P2P to Leadville. Oh, which is more difficult, which one is harder. After experiencing both first hand, there is no answer to this. They are not the same race. Leadville is what it is-a sensationalized dirt road race at high altitude that costs hundreds of dollars to enter in order to race amongst thousands of other riders. It is absolutely hard, can mentally obliterate you and is certainly a course to concur… but once is enough. The Point 2 Point is a race that will physically drive you into the ground-the climbs are gut wrenching and the descents can even beat you down. It requires focus the entire time you are in the saddle. Mentally, tho, it doesn’t seem as exhausting because I actually had fun during the P2P. I could go back there and race it year after year after year. It’s interesting and exhilarating. There is a down home, let’s-all-get-dirty kinda feel to it. It was literally and absolutely the most enjoyable ass-whooping I have ever encountered at a race. No podium, no hoop-la waiting just for me at the finish. Just phenomenal trails to ride on, the right amount of minimal guidance to get you through it and a hell of a great town to host it.

See you again next year, P2P! …I think I might actually train for it this time!

Diggin' Deep, Gettin' Down and Dirty and Lovin' every minute of it!

Diggin’ Deep, Gettin’ Down and Dirty and Lovin’ every minute of it!

 

I raced my Epic at the P2P. Could you ride a hardtail? Of course, but that Epic’s ride is pretty hard to beat! During the short time between signing up and leaving town, my rear shock decided it had had enough- Brain dead! From the time I sent an email to Oro Valley Bicycle, Specialized getting a replacement out to me and the shop dialing in that plus some work on my rear brakes and service to the front fork, six days. Kevin finished up by putting on my carbon wheels and slightly more cut-down tires to lighten things up a bit. Done and race ready in less than a week! Super! I couldn’t have been happier with the way my bike rode during this event! Thanks OVB for getting it just right! Thanks to Specialized for replacing the equipment so quickly, to GU Energy for keeping my engine fueled right and, of course, thanks to my awesome husband for his personalized maintenance, hard work and putting up with yours truly!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Mountain bike racing | 3 Comments

Enliven the Soul, One Gear at a Time.

IMG_2064   For years he has been trying to get me on board and for years I’ve been telling him he’s crazy. For years I’ve been telling everyone who rides a single speed they’re crazy. I was wrong. There I said it. Read it quick before it self destructs. :)
Feeling burned out and a bit unmotivated after another episode of lost Mojo; I was unexcited to think about racing or really even riding. I was in a vulnerable state and I finally let my dear husband wear me down. With my Fate Hardtail feeling unloved for the past few months combined with the fact that I didn’t want to spend any money, the decision to convert the Fate into a single speed came as a fairly obvious answer to some.
The group was out there for me this day. A quiet initiation into the single speed club. My expectations were not all that high when I left the house. Which maybe was a good thing…It turned out to be the most fun I’ve had on a bicycle in a long time! Who knew?! Oh Yeah, all you single speeders out their knew. ;)
It’s the shear simplicity of the whole experience. There’s no thinking. Just pedaling. No deciding what gear to be in to make it over this rock or up that hill. I just rode my bike. If I couldn’t get over something, I put my foot down and I figured out a new way to ride it. I felt like a kid peddling my bike as fast as I could go wherever it would take me. I wanted to yell out ‘weeeee!!’ through the entire ride. And it’s quiet. No banging thru gears or a chain slightly stuck between them. It’s not totally silent, but a relatively peaceful way to ride. I liked that… a lot. Then I had an epiphany: I could do more than I thought I could. I can micro-burst! I spun my little legs around those pedals as fast as they could go. I can mash! I pulled up on the bars with every muscle and all my might to climb over rocks and up big inclines. I chased those boys in front of me that day, some on gears and some not, and discovered a new love for my bike.
I don’t know that much about the gearing. I basically ride what my husband- who also happens to be my main mechanic- puts on there.  “You be aw-ite.” His standard way of telling me to quit thinking about it and just do it. :) The engineer in him enjoys the mathematical aspect of figuring out what gear to use where. I don’t care much for the numbers, other than now knowing how my standard gear of choice measures up to those around me; but I am learning exactly what those gears mean in terms of how I ride. I am beginning to understand more of how to choose what gear is right for me depending upon where I may be riding.  It’s good to know these things. I know the gear I rode that first time out felt way too hard; today, that same gear, I know is just right for me here.

I am now going to say what I thought I would never say to anyone and I will now be one of those that some of you all call crazy…everyone should ride a single speed…at least once in a while. It’s a great bike to have in your fleet for when you just want to get on and ride away from it all. An awesome experience, especially if you’ve been riding for a while and need just a little change up…it will give you new and exciting motivation!

IMG_2065My first official race on my newly converted FrankenFate1 will be EpicRides Tour of the White Mountains in Show Low, AZ. I’ll be there representing as a GU athlete, so keep your eye out…I’m pretty excited to try something new, give it everything I got…and hopefully pick the right gear for the ride!SS SWP

Categories: Random Fun | 1 Comment

The Magical Aura

 

old lady mojo  Ever lose your mojo? Maybe at the least convenient moment? Not just during race season, but for the biggest races on your calendar…and then the last race of the season. Nothing like going out with a bang; which would be a good thing had it not been me who was shoved out the bullet chamber, piercing thru sticky muck and slamming right into slick rock at super sonic speed.

This is not a story of dejection or woe. Nor is it the tail of the underdog overcoming hardship and opening up a can of whoop-ass on the competition. This is the real life of a slightly above-average mountain biker racer who took a chance as a pro. A story of absurdity with a little strife and buffoonery thrown in for your reading pleasure. Ok, sometimes it is opening up that can of whoop-ass and it is, just a little bit, for my writing pleasure.

So what the heck is mojo anyway? The dictionary tells me it is the ‘art or practice of casting magic spells or voodoo’ or it can be ‘an amulet or a charm believed to be magic’. Hmpff…If I could cast a magic spell on my beloved Epic, never would I so deliciously eat dirt again. Hmm..maybe I can stop off in Sedona for a Wiccan talisman to bestow super shreddy technical powers upon this bag o’ bones.   Skeleton dancer

unicorn bikeNo, it’s not magic. At least not in the sense illusion or witchcraft speak of. Maybe hitting a sweet jump for the first time or giggling thru some whippty-do’s on flowy trail or teetering inches from a cliff’s edge produce a mystical frenzy of thrill permeating our soul that can only be described as magic. This is what makes riding and racing mountain bikes fun. This is why we keep coming back for more, why we pick ourselves up off the ground to try again. Is it, then, that we create our own mojo by acting further on this derangement of pleasure? Doesn’t this then make losing it that much more disheartening? That maybe if we create it, we are who bring about it’s departure, as well. Ah-Oooh…it’s all in your head!.. she says.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Hesitation. Hesitation on a drop leads to two things: uncertainty followed by slamming into something much harder than your head. If we delve deeper…Uncertainty of what exactly? That the bike will break? Probably not. That the ground will suddenly shift three feet to the left just as you plan to land? Usually not. Although, I’ll swear to it that the earth has moved beneath my wheels on at least a handful of occasions. photo 2

Or is it That YOU can not make it over said drop? Yea, more likely, there’s the ticket. Guess where that lies…in your head. Ok, so you hesitate. And you’re down.  But you pick yourself up and roll on. Next little obstacle: ‘oh, heck no! I’m gettin’ off before that rock eats me!’ And then- ‘that curve looks too sandy or that incline too loose’. BRAKE. Slide. In sets the frustration. Where does frustration come from? The dirt doesn’t cause it. Rocks don’t cause it. The insecure individual inside your head causes you frustration. Guess what’s just disappeared, unknowingly gone adrift into the oblivion of bad dreams featuring broken teeth? Oh, my mojo. That marvelous concept I didn’t even know I had until it was lost. But now that it’s gone, I want it back. I need my mojo. Why? Because then focus runs out the door chasing mojo down. Oh, damn, I’ve lost that now, too. Soon after, joy finds it’s way out a window in pursuit of both mojo and focus. What the heck? Joy’s gone AWOL?!  So, for you equation lovers: no mojo= no focus + no joy= we’re no longer having fun here. And isn’t fun why we’re here to begin with?  My frenzy of thrill has just diffused into a black hole of discouragement and despair thereby taking me out of the present moment and anxious for the next pain-inducing booby-trap laid out on the trail surely put there for me to bleed over. Time to stop. No, not stop riding, stop thinking. Ah-uh, sure, just stop thinking….it’s that rock collageeasy.

 

 

After a decent first race in the White Mountains followed by a nice little execution of endurance at the Dawn to Dusk, springing into a slightly less powerful, although still very passionate 24 HOP plagued with sight and back issues; came a less than spectacular performance at the Whiskey Off-Road, followed by a stellar show of skill in the MBAA marathon finals, to then crudely schlepping along the course of the Full Growler; it’s safe to say I have a tendency of misplacing my mojo.lost mojo wombats

 

 

How do we go about the rediscovery of our mojo and halt the repeated displacement of that “magic”? Not by quitting. Besides, no one likes a quitter. No, I’m kidding; but quitting does last forever and whether we like it or not, is also sometimes necessary in the body-demolishing sport we play at. This is more about faith and love and kindness. And delight in the things we do. Guess where all that comes from. That’s right. Inside yourself. I create my mojo, remember? Yep, I then also taketh away. By having faith in myself that I can do this, love of the journey my bikes take me on, kindness to myself when I fail by picking it up again and being positive I can do it next time and by remembering the delight that lunacy of soul-thrilling, whoopty-wahooing trail brings me. It takes going out to ride..just for the ride. No heart rate monitor, no segments, no scolding myself over putting a foot down, no structure. Just the simple pleasure of a ride, on dirt, in the trees, off the beaten path. Hearing my heart beat as I climb, purging the old air out and pulling refreshing air in and the feel of wheels crunching over dirt. The smell of sage (in a most recent case of investigating into the missing mojo at Phil’s World) and sweat. The smile-inducing downhills and flow of multiple riders hitting all the lines along the trail. A good hoppy beer afterwards over tales of this rock or that curve or some snake you were both thankful to have slipped by. These things are what make up that magic talisman, the elements that feed the soul and keep you coming back for more. Keeping the intention of “just because I love it” while in the midst of race season, while training hard and beating the self up over losses or squeaked by wins possibly undeserved, or not, is how we keep our mojo from making a dash towards some place less structured and a little more happy. I mean, isn’t this why we started doing this in the first place? Less of ‘the man’ telling ya what to do and more being happy. There is always going to be disappointment in life and anything worth having in life, whether for play or at the daily grind, takes hard work. Besides, sitting back having the silver spoon feed you isn’t really that fun anyhow.

IMG_0158 Believe in yourself. Work hard, play hard, enjoy your earnings and know you can do anything you want and there will be no more having to search for a concept you make up in your head. true meaning of mojo

I have many things to be thankful for. I have had some pretty awesome sponsors stick around and support me thru the wins and the losses. Incredible encouragement to be who I am and the best I can be from Forest Canyon and Northern Arizona Gastro; tons of guidance, faith and anything I could possible need from Oro Valley Bicycle. Having GU Energy Labs provide the absolute best in way of sport nutrition and their continued supportive inspiration, has really given me the strength and stamina to survive some near-crushing endurance races and the training to prepare for them. My dear, loving husband has put up with hours and hours of training and bike maintenance and the emotional roller coaster ride of living with an endurance athlete. He is my biggest supporter and I am his biggest fan. I am thankful for all those out there cheering when I round a corner or cross the finish, I hope I can inspire you all to be the best you can be. And cheers to remembering why we are all doing this…and never losing that damn mojo again!photo 3IMG_2236

Categories: Important Stuff, Mountain bike racing, Random Fun | Leave a comment

Ask me why I’m Blue!

colon-cancer-ribbonIt’s March and that means it’s colon cancer awareness month.

Did you know that colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer AND it’s the second leading cause of death in both men and women combined inside the US? Over 50,000 people die a year from this preventable disease. Incidence rates have been decreasing for most of the past two decades, which has been attributed to an uptake of colorectal cancer screening among adults 50 years and older. From 2007 to 2011, incidence rates declined by 4.3% per year among adults 50 years of age and older, but increased by 1.8% per year among adults younger than age 50. So, with regular screening, colon cancer can be found early, when treatment is most effective. In many cases, screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, earlier detection means a better chance at becoming a survivor. As an ICU nurse, I see the effects of colon cancer after diagnosis within the late stages of the disease and as an athlete, I believe that a healthy lifestyle is more than an ounce of prevention. I am absolutely an advocate of preventative medicine.IMG_0104.JPG (2)

The American Cancer Society estimates 130,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2014 and around 50,000 will die from it in the United States. Colon cancer does exist in my family history and I know I don’t want myself or other members of my family to become one of these statistics. So, let’s take a look at what colon cancer is and how we can prevent it!

What is it? Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, occurs in the colon  or rectum. The colon is your large intestine or  large bowel and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Most colon cancers develop first as colorectal polyps, which are  abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous. Colorectal or colon cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

*A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool

*Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely, rectal bleeding, or finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool

*Finding your stools are narrower than usual

*Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain, or feeling full or bloatedhealthy-colon

*Losing weight with no known reason

*Weakness or fatigue

*Having nausea or vomiting

These symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. Only your doctor can determine why you’re having these symptoms. Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.

Some facts you need to know to increase your awareness of where your risk level may be:

-In 2011, 90% of new cases and 95% of deaths from colon cancer occur in people 50 or older.

-Colon cancer does not discriminate and can happen to men and women at any age. While rates for colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining, incidence rates in adults younger than 50 years has been increasing.

-People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or children) who has colon cancer are between two and three times the risk of developing the cancer than those without a family history.

-Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) may have a higher rate of colon cancer. Partly because of disproportionate screening, African-American men and women have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and a lower survival rate (about 20% higher incidence rate and 45% higher mortality rate) compared to Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans. The risk of death is also increased for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.colon

Unfortunately, the majority of colon cancers are still being diagnosed at late stages.

-40% of colon cancers are found while the cancer is found at a local stage (confined to colon or rectum).
-36% of colon cancers are found after the cancer is diagnosed at a regional stage (spread to surrounding tissue).
-20% of colon cancers are found after the disease has spread to distant organs.

Get screened at 50!

Get screened at 50!

This is why Early detection is so vital — over 90% of all cases of colon cancer can be prevented with recommended screening. Despite its high incidence, colon cancer is one of the most detectable and, if found early enough, most treatable forms of cancer. An increased awareness, appropriate screening and maintaining a healthy diet along with exercise are contributing to increased survival rates and prevention all together. Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer death rate has been dropping. By finding more polyps and cancer in the earlier (local and regional) stages, it is easiest to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.

-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the local stage is 90% (confined to colon or rectum).
-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the regional stage is 70% (spread to surrounding tissue).

-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the distant stage is 13%.
-There are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors alive in the US.

So what can you do to decrease your risk?

-Find out the facts.

-Spread the word! Wear your Blue for awareness and let people know prevention is the key.

-Get your screening colonoscopy!! If you are age 50 or older, you need one. If you have an immediate family history, you may need to start earlier.

-Knock out those preventable risk factors:

-Eat your vegetables and fruits! Get the right fibers and keep your colon flushed out and happy.IMG_1729

-Increase the intensity and amount of physical activity (Ride your bike!)

-Limit intake of red and processed meats

-Get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D

-Avoid obesity and weight gain around the midsection

-Avoid excess alcohol

For more information on what you can do and how you can help the cause, visit http://www.ccalliance.org, http://www.cancer.org/ or talk to your friendly local gastroenterologist.

Yes it is!

Yes it is!

(The statistics above were compiled from the American Cancer Society’s 2012 Cancer Facts & Figures and Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2013.)

Categories: Important Stuff | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Nutrition for a 24 hour Solo…my experience.

Someone once told me that an endurance race was actually an eating contest. ‘He who has the best nutrition wins the prize.’ Of course, there are many components that go into completing an endurance mountain bike race; but all things accounted for, if you don’t fuel the engine, it won’t run! The best rule of thumb…eat early and eat often!eating contest

Although I rely heavily on the GU brand for most of my training and racing needs, I knew that making it through a 24 hour race with a happy tummy would require something more than only their time-tested gels and brews. So I worked to put together a small variety of bite sized foods containing the right amounts of protein, carbs and calories to complement my GU nutriments and see me through the entire race.

No unhappy tummy here!

No unhappy tummy here!

So how do we race well with a good nutrition plan? We train with it! A very important fact about race day is that we don’t ever do anything brand-new, we do what we’ve trained with, what we know works for us. There will be no G.I. distress on race day, there will be no surprise port a potty stops or returning from the trail sock-less and there will certainly be no bonking! This means that a nutrition plan starts weeks and even months before the start line.

The first thing we need to figure out is how many calories is enough to sustain energy, but not overload the system. Everyone is slightly different for this number; however, there is a particular range that works for most people and is a good starting point. This range is usually 200 to 300 cal per hour, give or take a few. Some of this number is based on weight, size, efficiency, intensity and duration of the sport you are participating in. The way to find out what is actually your ideal number is to train and practice, you will find out rather quickly what is too little and, as the training hours get longer, what is too much. Even tho your body is burning thru calories like crazy in a race, it is still only capable of metabolizing and digesting a certain amount of intake at a time; here is where the balance needs to be found. The other factors to consider along with your calorie intake is the amount of carbs you need, the amount of protein your digestive system can handle, water and hydration needs and when to watch out for fiber (and how much your own body is used to having). This brings me to think about pre/post race nutrition.
stuffed sweet taterThe age old adage of ‘carb-loading’ is on it’s way out the door. I know, personally, that dumping a giant bowl of pasta in my belly the night before a race just makes me feel sluggish, full and bloated. Doesn’t sound comforting anymore, does it? I am a firm believer that your body will perform its best on what it’s accustomed to and I am also a big advocate of eating real food. That means using the benefits of specific foods to promote top performance and timing it to best aid your goal. For example, going to high altitude for a race? Beets. Lots of them. They get those vessels open and increase blood flow. Add in whole carbs slowly and consistently leading up to it. And stay plenty hydrated. Need to recover? Get some carbs and protein in you quick. GU Chocolate Recovery Brew mixed with some unsweetened almond milk is great for this; but in the end, what you need is a whole meal consisting of Vitamin C, quercitin, protein and omega-3s. So eat your broccoli with some red onions, red apples and wild salmon.electrolytes
Benefits of a real food lifestyle could be a whole other chapter, or book, in itself. So enough of that and on to the immediate race plan.

Having done a few endurance races, I basically have an idea of the amount of calories I need and can tolerate an hour. My number is just about 230 for middle endurance and upwards towards 280 for ultra. To put this into perspective for you, I am 5’2″ and 110 pounds. I also have a basic idea of how much protein I can handle. Based on a rather unpleasant past experience, I know that I don’t tolerate a lot of protein per hour. My gut does not like it; however, I know that I need some protein to help my muscles recover while in the middle of such taxing endurance events. This is one reason why I like to race and train with GU Roctane, because it utilizes certain essential amino acids without overloading the gut to help promote said muscle recovery while still riding. I have noticed such an improvement since I’ve started racing with Roctane! Grape Roctane is one of my favorite mixes and the Vanilla Orange gel is yummy! IMG_0813I also choose to use the GU brand because they provide a favorable electrolyte balance and have carbohydrate ratios that work best for me. Of course taste does have a lot to do with it. If I don’t like the taste, I’m not going to eat or drink it; so it seems a very important factor and I have found many GU gels and brews that I actually enjoy the taste of even when it’s 110° outside; which for those of you who train in severely hot weather know what can happen to drink mixes when they swelter in the heat. Blueberry Brew is another of my favorite mixes (and has extra sodium!)…and…oh yes, the Salted Caramel gel is like eating Christmas! :)
The other product I found from GU that I’ve truly gotten excited about, is their Roctane electrolyte caps. I have always added extra sodium to my drink bottles during high heat/intensity training or races, but the difference with Roctane is there is also ginger and magnesium included to help stave off any potential stomach cramps or nausea. I have found this a huge plus! I just open those caps up and mix em right in. Easy. Done.gu-roctane-electrolyte-capsules

Ok, so I have a GU regimen down, I needed to figure out how to blend in those bite size morsels. I started with The Feed Zone and chose a few to try. What I found out, is although I might be a better than decent cook, I am a terrible baker. The preciseness needed for such things to turn out correctly left me with a giant mess in my kitchen during every attempt! I had to decide on 2 or 3 and just perfect making them. I’m not going to sugar coat this…it takes time…and lots of it if you’re inexperienced in the process. I had 5 months planning for my 24 hour race to play with this and once I got the hang of the portables I liked and worked for me, I could breeze thru them quickly (although still rather messily). They are freezable, so I can make a large amount ahead of time and now I have what I need to utilize them during any of the endurance races or all day rides I do without starting the learning curve over.
I chose three different portables, two on the sweeter side (carrot cake ball? Yum!) and one savory (mmm, pizza!). Two each was approximately a 100 calorie serving and I managed each down to a two bites-gone system. I also chose convenience so that I could just stick those bites into my pockets unwrapped and pop them whenever without having to fool around with wrappers. Wrappers are like child-proof caps…who can open them? Also, using real foods, in small bits at a time, that are essentially made with water, can be a great factor in digestion and hydration. Plus, as an added benefit, the simple act of chewing real food can be so uplifting amidst such prolonged physical activity in which we consume so much of our sustenance in liquid or concentrated form.

Mini Chocolate Cakes

Mini Chocolate Cakes

hydration

Hydration comes next. Water. You need it, no getting around it. Our bodies are 80% water, when we deplete it, we basically end up all contracted like a shriveled prune. Think cramps. Legs, sides, guts. Our muscles need not only the right electrolytes to contract and relax properly, but water to keep them plump and give them space to continue those electrolytes moving where they are needed. Also, in order to help a gut digest concentrated foods like gels, water is necessary to assist them in working properly. GUs are fast acting, but you must drink water to make them deliver properly, otherwise it’s a bit like eating a meal and you have to wait for the results. Can’t wait during a race or it’ll be too late. Although drink mixes are made with water, I believe we need to still include pure water to assist in the digestion and movement of all those sugars/electrolytes/aminos.

So, here’s how I broke things down for my own race.

Knowing how much…or how little…I may tend to drink when under a high stress situation (ie: the first lap of a 24), I start with a higher calorie drink while only drinking partial bottles and then switch off to the lower calorie when downing more ounces and eating other foods. I personally can handle about 3/4 of a bottle an hour, so this is my goal in each lap. Then, to provide enough water hydration, I drink 1/4-1/2 a bottle of plain (ice cold!) water between every lap. This gives me one whole bottle per hour. Great-hydration accounted for!

mmm..carrot cake balls

mmm..carrot cake balls

Calories:
Taking in one GU gel per lap, plus my bottle of Brew or Roctane gives me approximately 250-300 calories.  I don’t normally get an

Rolling Buffet

Rolling Buffet

entire bottle down and by supplementing with my portable foods, I can be sure I hit my count. With my gels giving almost instant energy (I alternated regulars with the Roctanes), drink mix supplying continuous calories and the bite size real foods providing long lasting fuel; I can keep just enough, but not too much, digestible fire burning throughout the entire race.

Another important piece of my nutrition, as with many athletes, is adding in caffeine. Studies have actually shown that not only does caffeine give an energy boost, it increases mental focus and decreases pain receptors. How can we go wrong? I am a huge proponent of using caffeine and find that it definitely assists my mental and physical alertness during endurance events. Caffeine does have its limits, it will not fix fatigue and one can build up a tolerance. Being the daily coffee lover that I am, I actually chose to be somewhat under-caffeinated during the week leading up to the race in hopes that when I needed it the most, the caffeinated GUs would work their best. I might have been slightly irritable during that week as a result of this, but you’ll have to ask my husband for a truthful answer! caffeineThe one thing I would change for the next time, is starting those caffeinated GUs earlier…I perhaps waited 2 laps too late. Live and learn.

The last thing to plan for is comfort foods. Think: cold weather, rain, dark night. What do you want? Something warm is what comes to my mind. I highly recommend chicken broth for those times when you just need something warm and savory, it can bring you back from the dark side immediately without overloading your stomach with something heavy. Want the noodles, too? Go for it, they’re usually minimal and contain some quick acting carbs.

So this is the basic plan that I trained for and raced with during my 24 hour solo. I researched and read studies, listened to other people’s experiences and tried new things. Actually, it was quite fun learning about different ways to feed your body while racing and I find the things food can do for you quite intriguing!

wheels  Keep the rubber side down and enjoy good food! :)IMG_0321

Categories: Mountain bike racing, Yum Yum! | Leave a comment

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo…Solo Debut!

That's me! Lucky number 130!

That’s me! Lucky number 130!

I have been training for this for 17 weeks. I have been psyching up for it since October 1, when I got myself out of bed at midnight to sign up and assure me a slot. I have had the absolute best training plan to work with from LW Coaching and I have completed every bit of it to prepare my body. I have been a yogi and self-masseuse, although Kevin certainly knew when and where I needed his knuckles to dig deep. I worked at keeping positive and continuing to push when I was suffering and felt like quitting. I made a solid nutrition plan which I worked hard on in training. I learned how to bake (this proved to be no easy task and always a messy one) and pop portables to supplement my GU’s in order to make my calorie counts while still keeping my tummy happy. I know exactly how many Brews and Roctanes and water bottles I need to drink. My gear is right and my expert mechanic (also my dear husband) has everything working perfectly. Every detail that I can control has been dealt with and my total refusal to acknowledge our fabulous weather here in Tucson while the rest of the country wallows in snow and freezing cold has worked. It may actually be too warm in the first few laps!  Shouldn’t this be an advantage for me?!  I have the best possible pit crew supporting me who have experience and awesome attitudes. There is a niggle that has plagued me in the upcoming weeks, I’ve worked it out best I can; but this is the race I’ve been waiting almost 5 months for and I will choose to dismiss it from here out. Epic Rides’ 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is here and I’m about to make my solo debut. Luckily I’m smart enough to make multiple goals for such a large task at hand here; of course, we all know some mean more than the others. Yes, some of them are quite lofty ambitions, but not unattainable. And yes, one target is just to finish…that’s supposed to be my easy one…

Nervous, but smiling!

Nervous, but smiling!

Always!

Always!

Checking the ride

Checking the ride

I’m excited and nervous waiting for the gun. I smile and talk to everyone (I am surrounded by over 500 of my fellow mountain bikers), ready to run for our bikes. I hit the run hard enough to warm up and not be behind all 500 of those others, see Kevin swinging our pink feather boa and swing myself up onto my Fate effortlessly.

The Start

The Start

Lead out man...er...gorilla

Lead out man…er…gorilla

I have in my head to keep it conservative, I was happy with my roll out. People were passing me, that was ok, heart rate up a bit from the run, but that was ok, it eases. I’m just trying to stay upright in all chaos.  And man is it dusty! Then that first Bitch kills everyone’s momentum. Damn her! This is the first why in how these ‘hills’ earned such an affectionate name. Why are we walking? Never once since I’ve started riding these trails have I walked over a Bitch, but here I am walking the first one. I started calling out to the line of people ahead “Pedal!! Keep pedaling! Don’t stop, you can make it…you can do it!!” There is braking on the descents and then the steam blows up the next steep grind. I bump tires and decide if I’m going to have any efficiency here, I need to get around and start to pass. Mostly trying on the downs to keep the effort low, but some is necessary on the ups. As the dirt flattens out, I know, oh I know. Too fast. Too must energy expenditure. Back off. Bring it down. And I do. I chill. I pedal, I drink. I relax. As the single track rolls on, I watch how I pass and I tool along behind lines of people until the yo yo effect begins on little techy spots and riding becomes to inefficient and I proceed to move around. The traffic is horrendous. Much worse than any rush hour of a major city…inhaling dust rather than exhaust. There are so many people crowded onto this trail. This is my first time starting this race…has it always been like this? I know I am working too hard, but regardless of how much I keep telling myself to reign it in, I end up right back there in the crowds. My first lap is simply too fast, I let it go and move forward to my next laps, I work to keep the effort and the time down closer to my goal. It

I've been called a Rolling Buffet.

Once called a Rolling Buffet.

takes until the third lap to get there. My crew is always where I need them and have things usually under control. Christina feeds and waters me, a horse come to trough…”You need to slow down” Cathy says nicely while she snaps a pic. I know, I’ll try harder. And so it goes on.

Determination

Determination

I see carnage on several laps. People down. Broken bikes. Rescue crews pointing me around. Each lap there are new barriers and warnings to obstacles ahead. But I know this trail, the lines are ingrained in my head so I know I can do them in my sleep (which will become helpful), these matter do not worry me.
Things start to feel different after you’ve been out there for awhile. In the dark, cacti look like odd people standing around in the desert until I can change my focus on them and I kept seeing some strange guy crouched in a wash under a tree. I thought he might have a camera or something. After my third time past ‘him’, I realized it was an empty, overturned camp chair. Sometime during the night, a cow must have keeled over near the Bitches because the smell was excruciating. At times I would lose track of where I was. I might follow the cactus person slightly off line and then realize, oh very wrong or like screaming down the descent into solo row and begin to wonder ‘Am I still on the trail on in someone’s camp?’ There’s tents and set-ups on both sides of the trail, everywhere. The sunset on Saturday night was a splendid array of colors and the moonrise was even more spectacular! A ball of yellow fire rising from the dark outline of the dirt, just breathtaking and it awarded renewal to the mind. I have to remind myself to focus on what’s ahead of me instead of what’s happening in the sky! Man, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to witness it, tho!

Sunset lap

Sunset lap

Coming down the Rock drop

Coming down the Rock drop

Cowbells and horns sound loudly, people yelling ‘Go solo!’ ‘Great riding’ ‘Lookin’ good!’ and the bag piper playing near the Rock drop. There’s always a crowd of people on the Rock, you can hear them ‘yea!’ and ‘Doh!’ the riders ahead announcing who nailed it and who ate dirt at the bottom. Those who chicken out and walk down get a collective ‘Boo’ while the rider behind tries to carefully snake around them. There is an easy option to skip the Rock…I assume those walkers will take it next time ’round. One lap someone yells out at me as I begin to take the Rock…”What’s the capital of Arizona?” Oh, uh…give me a second…I know this one…”Phoenix!!” And the cheers rise up! Seriously! It all actually happens much faster live then it plays out inside my own head. People are constantly yelling encouragement out and I hear my name everywhere. I can’t help but smile and keep pushing on. I know I get slower as the laps draw on, but I’m ahead of schedule allowing for a little leeway and I’m on my lap times now. On my fifth lap, I feel smooth and effortless. Cornering fast and efficiently, pushing on the sections that suit me and easing up on the long grunts or steep grades. I get into a conversation with a gal on the Corral trails, figuring out later that she is the soon-to-be winner of the female Duo category. It was a positive little talk. I’m good, right? At a conversational pace, so it seems. I’m doing well with hydration and nutrition and even decide I need to pee (good sign!) and choose to just squat behind the trailer. I realize I forgot to ask about Kevin’s lap on the OVB Corp team…”how was it, honey? I’m sorry I didn’t ask before.” He tells me it was good, still a lot of traffic. I’m happy he gets to ride out there and take a break from having to care for me the whole time. I tell him I’m trying really hard to stick to my limits, I’m not sure I’m doing a very good job; but he reassures me.

Smooth

Smooth

At some point in the dark, a guy attempts to pass me without prior notification. This actually occurs several times, but without much consequence up til now. People, you must use your words, please. To me, it was a quite unreasonable spot to attempt such go-round, where in I proceeded to wobble just ever so slightly, plopping my ass in some cactus. Yes, I then shamefully did scold the guy loudly; but I mean really, necessary? I’m quite sure that extra second to wait for a desirable location would have kicked you out of some lead that I know you didn’t have to begin with. I believe there was even a sermon by Reverend ChainRing before the start about being nice. I know, I understand both sides of the pass…it sucks for all parties involved. It’s not easy and I have been guilty of the inadvertent, yet ill-mannered pinch, but this is racing folks, not bumper bikes. I don’t like to hold you up just as much as you want to get around me. Ok, ok. So I’m not down; however, every time my rear quarters hit the seat now, the cactus spines suggest I not stay seated there. I make it back to camp and change shorts. I will now forever be indebted to Cathy for plucking thorns outta my stinky white ass and yes, this makes us real sisters! I won’t complain too much about a few badly placed

My crew working hard!

My crew working hard!

Camp antics! He's my goofball!

Camp antics! He’s my goofball!

thorns, I’ve been thru them before and this, my friends, is nothing compared to what is yet to come.

The energy inside the exchange tent, even at 3am, was phenomenal! I don’t know what keeps these folks going, but they would all just be going nuts at every lap thru and I sure am stoked about that! It’s super motivating! During one lap, Cody yells out at me that there’s beer and cookies out on that trail. It’s about 5 miles in, he says. Great! I’m in! Well, I saw some whiskey tied to the wrong Tree and I saw some Spam on a hill. There was someone smoking pot out on the His and Hers, maybe they have the cookies. But, alas, there were no cookies. That might have been a bit disappointing…
In all honesty, I feel completely awesome for the first 11 or so hours of this race. I am positive and smiling, riding well. Thanking my crew every time before I roll out again, trying not to bark out orders. I find out later how all the caffeine kept them laughing to a point when Cathy says she felt bad they were having such a good time while I was out there suffering. It’s ok guys, this is what we’re here for, I’m glad you’re having fun! They were out making noise every single lap with that horrible screaming spider monkey! I am racing as a solo, but it’s still very much a team effort. But by lap 11, I had started digging myself into a very deep, dark pain cave that I wasn’t sure I could crawl out of and not even their antics were shedding light inside.

first night lap

Rolling into camp after my twelfth time around, it’s somewhere in the vicinity of 5am. I am in pain. The searing kind of pain that stabs every muscle with every single type of movement. I have done all the core work striving to avoid this; but my back has given up, I have never felt such awful, relentless pain before. As I step off my bike, I fall over. I have gotten to the point I am unable to even hold myself up anymore, I literally could not stand up without the support of Kevin or Cathy and Christina. I felt as if my head was floating above watching my body flail around uncontrollably beneath it. My limbs wouldn’t listen to command. If I rest for a minute, maybe can I move again. I seemed to keep the bike upright thru painful pedal strokes even though I couldn’t walk. And had this been the only issue, I like to think I would have pushed on; but it was not the only concern. I could no longer see. After the dry winter and a lack of night wind, the dust and campfire smoke linger in the air. My contacts are done for and I have lubed them past their limits. This last lap I prayed to let the automatic drive take over as I was still letting go, speeding down descents I couldn’t see in front of me, hoping not to crash. It was also my last attempt on the Rock as I almost taco’d over my front wheel at the bottom from lack of control. “Whoa!” came from the few people left watching. Yes, Whoa indeed.
At my camp, the girls have hung motivational signs up telling me to ‘Be Awesome Today’ and that the ‘Pain is Temporary’.

Yea, what that says..

Yea, what that says..

I’m sure I don’t feel very awesome right now, but not for lack of my teams’ encouragement. I try to change out my contacts, but this only made things worse. My little eyeballs not only hurt, but now I could barely keep them open, any form of light sent them running for darkness behind eyelids. I had originally tried to use the motor cross goggles I trained with in an effort to avoid this exact problem, but by the end of one lap in them, my head and neck couldn’t tolerate it so I had to take the chance. I was extremely distressed about the whole situation. I did not want to quit, but it was like my whole body was saying “you have to”. I did not want to disappoint my crew, I did not want to disappoint myself; I was having a breakdown. I cried. I needed a nap. “It will be light soon, you’ll feel better.” they tell me. I know this, I can’t. I try to get up now after sitting, I can’t. I try to keep my eyes open, I can’t. “I’m so sorry.” I repeat over and over. They tell me I have nothing to be sorry for. Christina, with her pink boa, who has kept bubbly and positive for me, who has helped pull up my shorts when I couldn’t complete the task alone. “Christina, thanks for bein’ my Biatch. (as she has called our crew from the beginning…Beth’s Biatches) I’m not sure I even deserve a Biatch, but you’re the best Biatch ever!” Of course you do, she says, and I’m not just blowing smoke up your skirt. That would be ok, too. I’m still afraid I’ve disappointed you.

Sunrise of the exchange tent

Sunrise over the exchange tent

The next thing I remember is Kevin waking me and saying the sun was up and everything is ready for me to go back out there if I want to. I want to, I do; but I feel my race already is over. I move, it hurts, but I can walk with less assistance. We talk for a few minutes. I get down some chicken soup and I am told I’ve lost first and then second place, but can solidly hold on to third as long as I go back out and ride and I am overtaken at how proud Kevin is of me. Ok, I can do this. So, now, how will I see? I will try to wear my glasses, but the sun, it’s bright, my eyes won’t keep open. What about Kevin’s sunglasses? They’ll fit over top, maybe. I hope so, cause these eyeballs will not accept those damn contacts back in. “Here, I’ll duct tape them

Oh, those glasses...That's some rigged up jazz right there!

Oh, those glasses…That’s some rigged up jazz right there!

together so they don’t bounce.” My golly, you’re a genius, it actually worked! My depth perception was a bit skewed and I squirreled around the trail at first; but I adapted and managed. I was talked into taking the Skip the Bitches bypass, the only lap during the race I choose to do so. By the time I rode back onto that last Bitch, I let it roll and can feel the trail under me again. I wasn’t fast by my own standards, but I knew I could keep riding. I drink water, get my hands on and off the bars and eat. Enough to keep going. I just kept pedaling. Little ring, nice and easy. My back still hurt with every stroke, but it was more tolerable at least. My raw undercarriage screamed out with every bump and I stood with weighted effort for brief relief. But I could see and I could hold my bike upright and I could keep riding. Friends roll up behind me, yell out encouragement, pat me on the back, make sure I’m ok, are patient in passing and even offer to ride with me. I’m so grateful for them, I sometimes shed a tear at their voices; but it’s good leakage and they keep me going here. No, I can do this, ride your own race and thank you for offering. Kevin is waiting at the last climb before town. I stop just for a few seconds to get some encouragement and a smile, thrilled to see his face and feel his hand on my shoulder and then I slowly continue to pedal uphill, checking off each landmark in my head as I close in on the descent. I’m cautious descending, probably more speed would help me and I pick it up. My hands hurt holding onto the handlebars, but for heaven’s sake I don’t let go! This is not my last lap. I know I will go out again, no matter how slow. I came here to race. I came here to put everything I had into it and that’s what I’ve done. That’s what I’ll keep doing. I have asked my body to endure thru some terrible pain and asked my brain to shut off (or shut up) and let it go even when I couldn’t see the trail anymore, hoping memory would take me thru safely. My body gave argument and threw a temper tantrum, causing me to stop; but I did finally get it to listen and amazingly it did keep going. Emotionally, I may have been a mess; but I had found the mental strength to overcome my body’s weakness and along with my superior crew and all those out there rooting for me, that’s how I finish this race. After a stop at the camp and a change of clothes, I went thru the exchange for what would be the last time until the finish. Kaolin Cummings, who has been a superb announcer for almost all of these 24 hours, pats me on the back “I know you don’t feel it, but you sure are lookin’ good!” Yes, please, I’ll take all the sunshine and rainbows you want to blow up my ass right now!

Pushing thru lap 13

Pushing thru lap 13

My final lap, in the beginning I still have aspirations of making it in to at least get that 15th circle, I know time wise it’s possible. I decide on the Bitches…cause I won’t let them get the best of me. I granny-gear each one and give myself a little cheer at the exit. Next part is a favorite and I roll easily thru. I eat and drink on the easy jeep track. The next climb is tough and I take a tiny break after, before making the S turns on the His & Hers. Kevin is at the Whiskey Tree (the right one). I need to pee, don’t much care who’s around. With Kevin and a small cactus, I manage to cover most of my hind end; and then I carry on. I carefully and happily let many riders pass, all of them seeing the solo suffer thru to the end. My fellow OVB’er, Gary rolls up on me and despite my insistence that he not let me stop his groove, he stays with me all the way thru to the end. I was grateful for the distraction of his talking. Kevin is at the final climb, I pause briefly and then continue my crawl back to the camp. I try to ride the descent fast and make a last minute decision to skip the Rock, although I’m sure now I should have taken it. I am about 5 minutes from the noon cut-off. My team and I decide we will wait.

On to the finish

On to the finish

My better than awesome support team! Christina, Kevin and Cathy

My better than awesome support team! Christina, Kevin and Cathy

Stick a fork in me..I'm done!

Stick a fork in me..I’m done!

So in the end, I met few of the many goals I placed on myself. I finished the race with 14 laps, 238 miles and 17,086 ft of elevation gain. I went there to race for it all, I absolutely went after it and I landed myself onto a 3rd place podium. I have absolutely nothing to complain about…I had no mechanicals, the Fate ran perfectly. No major, race-ending crashes. There were no hideous head winds. No cold, rainy, muddy weather. The pain and suffering come with the ride and I know it, so it has definitely been the best year for me to solo this race!

 3rd Place.

3rd Place.

Still up on a box!

Still up on a box!

Our bodies are amazing! How they can perform and what they are able to push thru, it’s definitely always beyond what you think. Never again will I underestimate what I can do even when I feel like I can’t because now I know I absolutely can…it’s whether I want to that will always make or break me. I have always held respect for those soloists; but now I am filled with such strong admiration for the people out there not only riding solo as fit athletes or maturing adults pushing on simply to prove they still can; but also the ones out turning in 17 laps and on rigid single speeds no less. I know it is hard and I know how strong you all are. I didn’t realize before going into this how just by my perseverance, I could inspire others to keep pushing forwards. This is perhaps the greatest thing I have come away with today. I am excited and utterly flattered at people’s reactions to my ride and I hope I can continue to inspire you! I feel extremely special at how proud you all are of me! Never give up!rock 7cropped-rock-8.jpgoh yea, baby

I’ve learned some lessons as an experienced XC racer yet newbie soloist…So will I be back next year to do it again, you ask. Mostly, it’s too early to say. I am both very proud of how I raced and slightly disappointed in missing the mark on some of my more aggressive goals. I am told I have nothing to prove, but I’m not so sure I don’t…

I want to thank GU Energy for continuing to provide fuel for my journey. They have been an outstanding sponsor to have on my side and keep an eye out for a little blurb on my nutrition plan. Thanks to Forest Canyon Endoscopy & Surgery Center for the huge support and encouragement that they have given me throughout this. Thank you to Oro Valley Bicycle for being the best damn bike shop around! They’re always there when I need them, they keep me in top equipment and help my hubby keep it all running in superior condition. Thanks to ALL of you out there who were rooting for me and continued to cheer me on throughout the race…you helped get me to that finish line! And, of course, I can not even begin to thank enough my better than awesome, completely outstanding pit crew consisting of my sis-in-law Cathy, my friend Christina and my very understanding husband Kevin!I could not have raced without each of you! Thank you for holding me up when I couldn’t, for providing butt butter to tender spots and for being my brain! All photographs are credited to Cathy Wright…she’s awesome and you can check out her website over there on the left!

Each year, I hear myself tell people “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done” and each year I dare for something more. So onwards to the next challenge! What will it be for you?

Keep 'em turning!

Keep ’em turning!

Categories: Mountain bike racing | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

TOWM

start line 35m

Mark, Cory and Kevin..waiting to get their 1 gear over the 35 miles!

"Chillin" on the start line

“Chillin” on the start line

Well, it sure has been awhile since I’ve updated this! I guess I just didn’t have anything to share that I thought you folks might find interesting. But, after 3 months off the race scene while building some base miles and goofing off with no particular purpose in mind; I made it to my first race of the season this past weekend at Epic Rides’ Tour of the White Mountains. With a brand new huge venue (super fun with an Amphitheatre and giant fire pit!) and mostly new course (some wicked fun trails!), I was ready to jump into the 50 miler once again, with working brakes (last year they were a fail!) and all new lines to hit! I arrived in town and got to catch up with some fellow racers and friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time, so the weekend was already starting out fantastic!

Going into the race, I didn’t have huge expectations, I wanted to ride hard, enjoy being up in the mountains and maybe get onto the podium as an added bonus! There was quite a chill in the air at the start (28 degrees!) and I am fully a desert rat now, so this is cold! I pulled on my bright green CEPs (for a little warmth and style! I think they might make me faster :) ), two pair of gloves, some non-thermal black sun sleeves (what if I got hot out there??! Can’t have too much on!) and pedaled my bike right up to the front of the pack on the start line. It turned out to be a great day in the saddle for me! The trail had small steep and frequent climbs, some fast jeep roads mixed in with a ton of singletrack and lots and lots (and lots!) of rocks! I’m so happy I decided to ride my dual-suspension Epic for this! And after getting lost off course once and stopped one other time debating on where I was, conceding to having to use my bike as a pulley system to manage getting myself up the gigantic never-ending hike-a-bike hill and then eating dirt once on a loose sandy curve (what race would it be without a little dirt snack?!)…I managed to stay ahead and pull out a first place podium! I had such a blast at this event! I found myself smiling on every flowing section and even on some of the climbs. I came onto the start line without a single nerve. I enjoyed some tasty (FREE) New Belgium beer at the finish line. This is how I want every race to feel!

My bike started out the race super, sparkling clean thanks to my awesome husband and ProGold’s wash…I did return it with just a bit of mud on the wheels (and frame and bars and me!); but the chain still ran smoothly thanks to Xtreme! My nutrition was spot on, thanks to GU Energy, and I felt balanced the entire 4h37M (and what turned out to be 53.9 miles) I was out there!

Next up is DCB Adventures Dawn 2 Dusk endurance solo in December….but really, everything from here on out is training for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo….SOLO! Yep, you read that right. The crazy girl is doing a solo :)

50 Miler Women's podium. And there's Cassi standing in spot #5!

50 Mile Women’s podium. And there’s Cassi standing in spot #5!

Single Speed 35 Miler Podium. (Yep, that's my super husband up there!)

Single Speed 35 Mile Podium. (Yep, that’s my super husband up there!)

35 Mile Women's podium. Super mom, Katherina Beeler takes the top seat!

35 Mile Women’s podium. Super mom, Katherina Beeler takes the top seat!

Categories: Mountain bike racing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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