Random Fun

Insanity, my friends, Has Most Certainly Set In.

Amazing!

Amazing!

Whatever possessed me to do it, what reason I felt it necessary,¬†we may never know. After an impromptu hike in the Grand Canyon taken on the misfortune of my good friend’s broken hand (sorry, friend; but you were my inspiration!)…I am staring into the future of a fall season filled with blisters, black toenails and wondering where the next port-a-john is.

Yes, that’s right, I have cheerfully registered for a 50 mile off-road ultra-marathon. Oh, 50 little miles, you say; big deal, you say, you’ve done way more than 50 miles. No, my friends; two wheels will not be involved in these dirty miles, my own two feet shall carry me from start to finish. Yikes.

Maybe I CAN use wheels! :)

Maybe I CAN use wheels! ūüôā

I can not exactly tell you what (or perhaps whom) actually hit that register tab, I assure you it was not I who did so; but I do have an idea why I may have felt it necessary to allow it to happen. Boredom, and at the essence of boredom…is a dangerous imp¬†luring you to do something foolish. A weariness had surrounded me for several months, zapping my energy and motivation, leaving me¬†in search for something fresh and new.

Gemini at odds

Gemini at odds

I so easily grab onto a new routine and learn to accomplish it repeatedly without fail until¬†it no longer requires gray matter to execute. In turn, my inner Geminii becomes bored.¬†You see, my¬†‘twin’ believes:¬†“Why bother if¬†you don’t have to work for it anymore?” Inspiration becomes hard to find, performance suffers. I guess I’ll just sleep and eat cookies until I feel like doing something again. Wait. What? You said cookies. Oh yea…can you have too many cookies? oh yes. Yes you can.
 sugar coma
One of my favorite quotes is: “Good things come to those who wait. Greater things come to those who get off their asses and do anything to make it happen.” Right! Don’t just sit there, change may find you eventually, but why wait?!
no failSo as I listened to Mateuz M (thank you, Friend!) and after this particular weekend spent doing several engaging things I hadn’t done before; my Geminii began¬†that pursuit to end¬†the cookie naps. She needed a challenge to enchant and exhilarate her intellect and existence, I agreed.¬†I love to ride my bike. I love where is has taken me. I have no complaints and am an amazingly blessed person. I just felt a need for something…different. A change in scenery, so to speak, and¬†instead of waiting for opportunity to knock on my door, which maybe I would have slept through while drooling through a sugar coma, I went looking for that opportunity.
I came across the words adventure race and ultra-marathon and I kept coming back to them. I thought about how I felt after hiking rim to river to rim at the Grand Canyon. Sore. Doing it in a solid push through, as a challenge and to avoid being overtaken by the heat or monsoons; grand canyon monsoonI felt very sore. The barely able to walk, like a stiff robot possessing no joints type of sore. I also felt awesome.¬†That pain¬†felt awesome. Doing something that my muscles said “Hey now, what the heck are we doing here?” ¬†felt awesome. It was an invitation for my mind and body to learn to suffer in a whole new fashion; we are, after all, capable of so many magnificent feats; how could I not desire to achieve them all?! Dare I cross over to the dark side and get off my wheels to…run? On my actual feet?runner high
forget everything else

forget everything else

Without much more thought than that about it…well, the price was also going up that same day…I typed in my info and registered for the Antelope Canyon 50 mile ultra-marathon. I felt excited and refreshed and inspired! And then my head went “Eek. What did you just do?!” That’s ok, my heart won over…I’m still excited! I will be diversifying my methods of training. I get to educate myself on the different ways to increase on and off-road mileage, how to fuel on this runner’s sensitive belly and experience a few places that I couldn’t… or didn’t have the

Hi! Hello! Howdy!

Hi! Hello! Howdy!

chutzpah to… go on my bike. Yay! Brain re-activated, motivational fire re-lit.¬†Bye-bye cookies, hello blisters and oh, oh…a¬†shart or two? eep!

runner bethOk. I am not actually¬†new to running. I suppose you could say I have always been a runner. As a¬†high school kid in a mid-west state in the early 90s, you¬†didn’t ride bikes for sport, there were no mountains to climb, you ran. I played basketball, but at¬†barely 5’2″ and hardly triple digits in weight, I¬†mostly got to watch from the bench.¬†As a poor college student, all I needed was a pair of shoes and the fortitude to get out the door. Minimal¬†equipment, minimal money involved.¬†I competed in the 400m in HS, I was decent. I continued to run some in college, but really only to avoid the¬†dreaded¬†‘Freshman 15’. I¬†ran at least a handful of¬†half marathons in my late 20s and actually broke the 100 minute mark. I ran a total of¬†one marathon. It was hard. There was this very large wall I rammed into at mile 23. It was so big, I don’t know how I, nor anyone else, couldn’t see it just sitting there in the middle of the street. At any rate, I did finish that race, missing my goal time by about 10 minutes (because I thought I could outrun the pacer…of all the silly bs…) and upon crossing the finish line, I¬†promptly walked away from running and onto a bike. Nine years and 10s of thousands of bike miles¬†later, I am getting off my bicycle (temporarily, of course) and looking forward to running 50 miles on Navajo land in one of the most picturesque spots in Arizona. What better way to do it?!Antelope Canyon black and white runner

With a thrilling new adventure on the horizon and my desire to learn, train and compete reawakened; I have also committed to the Park City Point 2 Point, once again in that eleventh hour and with 5 weeks to make it happen. What finer way to end the 2015 season, before jumping in feet first to endurance running mode (pun intended), than a super tough mountain bike race through some of the most beautiful alpine trail this country has to offer! Giddy-Up!

P2P 2014

P2P 2014

I’ll keep you posted on the growth, enlightenment and sweet sufferings along my journey to Antelope Canyon! I’m so blessed to have all my sponsors on my side in this little venture I’ll call My Insanity from now on! Please take a moment to visit their pages and I will keep you informed on all the ways they¬†help facilitate my success!
Oh…the P2P I’m sure will bring on something to say, too!
Cheers to all of your intoxicating and bold adventures out there!
Categories: Important Stuff, Mountain bike racing, Random Fun | 6 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. ūüôā
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. ūüėČ
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. ūüôā 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

AZT Jamboree

Burrr…it’s flipping cold! I moved to Tucson many years ago, not necessarily because of the weather; but now I have no desire to ever live anywhere cold again. This ‘February winter’ weather is way to early this year and my fingers and toes seriously quite cheerless about it. So, looking forward to this charity ride for the Arizona Trail; however less than excited about the “18F, feels like 11F” for the Sonoita start. Yes, it could be worse…it could be -11; but come on, its southern Arizona for heaven’s sake..don’t you know how thin our blood is now?!! I used to tease people like me when I first moved here ūüôā Let’s see if I can pull out enough clothes for this without overdressing… 2 pair gloves on, check. 2 pair socks, check. Undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, vest and jacket; check. Shorts, thermal tights; check. Fleece ear cover, check. Toe covers, check. Sounds like alot, doesn’t it?! It still felt like slightly less than enough at the start!

To help support the maintenence and building of the Arizona Trail, this charity jamboree is put on each year with the efforts of the Arizona Endurance Series (AES) promoter Chad Brown. A great reason to donate your money and/or time so we, the people, have a beautiful trail to spend time on. We need these trail advocates so we can continue to have such great places to ride and hike. After the awesome (and free!) shuttle by Southwest Trekking to the start of our ride at Box Canyon, everyone gathered and readied for the chilly ride back to Pistol Hill. The Trekkers assisted getting everyone’s bikes off the green bus and wishing us a happy adventure. They are a great local guide service that specializes in mountain biking and hiking throughout southwest Arizona…where sometimes you absolutely need someone to guide you.

Shuttle ride, packed to the brim!

Shuttle ride, packed to the brim!

Southwest Trekking

Southwest Trekking

A fairly big group starting the 35 miler, I think the cold actually deterred a few who had planned on doing the bigger event. This whole ride will be on singletrack…awesome! And if you look at the profile for the ride, it looks basically downhill…it’s deceptive. There was actually almost 3000ft of climbing from Box Canyon back to Pistol Hill. The first sections before getting to Lakes Rd (which is where we picked up the 25 milers) are the most technical and I got to practice some skills on trail that I am not so used to riding. I would love to ride these sections of¬†the AZT more often, but it’s a pretty good drive from my house. Yes, I did a little hike-a-bike…¬†After about the first hour of riding, I could start to feel my fingers again. I was pretty sure my right index finger was dead from frost bite up until then! Altho I had 2 pair gloves on, it was not sufficient and today I put my order in for some Specialized Deflect cold weather winter gloves..can’t wait for those! Luckily, my toes were actually pretty toasty. The double socks and Specialized warmers saved the day on that end!At the first ends of the ride, there was actually snow on the trail. I think I’ve ridden in minor snow once out at Willow Springs. I’m not sure how to take it…is it slippery? Is there ice under there? It sure looks pretty! It’s about all the snow I care to experience at this point…at least I’m not digging my car out of it!¬†It really is a beautiful place out here. Mountains everywhere. Cactus everywhere. Views for miles around. Blue sky. Singletrack. Being out on your bike all day with like-minded people. Sounds of your breathing, increasingly heavier as the the trail inclines. The sound of your tires running over the dirt. The occasional bird call. The laughter in your head…ok maybe. Doesn’t it just make you smile, tho! Loving it. One of my favorite sections is near the three bridges; good rocks to get over, a bit of climbing, flows well and is a gorgeous view.

Leading into the Three Bridges section

Leading into the Three Bridges section

IMG_0720

Somewhere near the half-way point, crossing Sahaurita Rd, the SDMB (Sonoran Desert Mountain Bikers) have a great sag stop set up. There is everything a mountain biker could desire…pizza, cookies, doritos, donuts…I think beer may have been involved, too. My GU is keeping me fueled thru the ride, but I can’t help¬†in grabbing a couple of cookies. This is a fun ride afterall, we’re not racing here. And at this point, I still haven’t taken any layer of clothing off other than my glove liners. We’re not warmin’ up any here.

mmmm...cookies.

mmmm…cookies.

Finally with less than 10 miles to go and some flowy singletrack, we get back into rocks and climb towards Colossal Cave. I have finally taken off the vest and now my jacket is coming off. Bound towards the finish, I am at long last not cold…still wouldn’t use warm here, but at least comfortable. It only took all day…ha!¬†Coming into the end of our ride and twisting thru the cactus back to the trailhead. A great 4 hour ride deserving of some tasty treats and recovery beverages. There is a small fire built by Chad and everyone gathers close together to chat about their ride, to eat, drink and be merry. What a great day it has been! Next year, I hope it’s warmer!…But I’ll still be here!azt jamboree after

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Willow Springs TT. Dirt. Thanksgiving Weekend.

It is Movember!

Welcome to the 4th annual Willow Springs TT!¬†An unofficial, work-off-your-turkey-butt, obstacle filled, fun race. For the first time in four years, I was able to make it out to this..finally! Every year I work Thanksgiving weekend, giving up the days to the loyal and crazy Black Friday shoppers. Not this year! This year I got to participate in the coolest time trial this side of the Mississippi…or at least in Tucson.

Our friends one year decided to put this event on, just for a reason to camp out for a whole holiday weekend and it has become something of a Thanksgiving tradition. One that, I for one, hope to stick around for many more years to come! The contest is free to enter; just bring your land pass, some recovery beverages and some snackies¬†for after and it’s all on! As Anne and Octavio, the organizers, put it: ‘It’s a little friendly competition among friends’. The absurdity of it all is why we do it…it’s foolery and frolicking¬†in the dirt while pushing your body to it’s limit! Watching your chums make fools of themselves (which of course includes yourself, as well) followed by beer and comfort food! What more could you possibly ask for on a holiday weekend?!

The day is beautiful! Sun is shining and the temp is just about perfect for riding. There is a bit more wind than necessary, but what’s a little wind to stop us?! The idea is loosely based on a typical time trial, sending out the slowest riders first followed by progressively faster ones; but the difference here is the challenges laid out on course. For extra time bonus’, you must complete these little tests of feat to win the race. It has been shown in the past that just flying thru the course at light speed will not win you the day! (And the Lame award looms over you for this..)

Willow Springs trail is not a too technical course, a few slick and rocky spots along with some newly rutted jeep roads added in just for the extra pleasure of occasionally catching some air mid descent. This makes it a perfect spot for some tomfoolery to be thrown in.

We all sign up in the order we think we belong..but be careful…there is a sandbagger¬†award so don’t say your too slow… I get some “O come on” and “too close to the top” words of encouragement so I let Kevin sign me up and I just wait my turn…which is fairly close to the end. Every minute, Anne sends off another rider. There are around 20 racers today. Some newbies, some oldies, some fast, some slow. Its really a wide range of talent and speed…but all know how to have a good time!

First challenge comes on what are affectionately known as “The Bitches”. Seven steep, rolling, rutted out hills along a gas line jeep road. I like this part because you can really get going fast here! At the top of each we stop and pick up some beads, I shove in my pocket and be on my way, picking up six altogether. There is photo op on one Bitch, Robert Dunn is grabbing shots of people pulling out some air coming over the top. He said I stuck to the dirt like glue and flew past at lightening speed. I did catch air down the way a bit, but what can you do.

Next up come the mustaches, bandanas and marshal¬†badges at the corral. I grab a ‘stache and accidentally stick it directly to my upper lip. It sticks and believe it or not stays on the entire rest of the ride, aside from almost losing it during a farmer blow and a jello shot…

Fast now, thru the cactus garden and up the hill. After another gate are the hula skirts and lais. I scoot the hula over my helmeted head and move along. I’m sure it won’t get caught on anything… We run into some other riders out on the trail who were not involved in the TT. A few questions here and there. “What the heck?!” And I’m definitely sure one guy wasn’t too happy about being passed by a girl in grass skirt!

Along a fast little singletrack¬†before the last gate, I’m riding just behind buddy Tony Dinsdale¬†and a challenge pops out of nowhere. There are marshmallows¬†stuck on the ends of a spoon plant. We skid to a stop as we’ve past¬†it and hurry back to grab some of the fluff and continue on to the his and her trail. Thus far, I have managed to pass more than several of the riders sent out ahead of me and I’m feeling great! Here comes our next big obstacle…the Whiskey Tree. A makeshift bar set up under a tree. There is tequilla, Jaeger¬†and chocolate milk to choose from and we’re limited to two (there is still at least another 25 minutes left to ride). I choose a Jaeger¬†backed by a chocolate milk and earn my two tokens. O boy! I am warm and fuzzy now! Nice and relaxed on the rest of the race…maybe I should shot some Jaeger¬†before every race! No..not really! JK!

Onwards thru the arches parking lot. There are several people out there getting ready to ride as I whirl thru in my lime green hula skirt and big honkin’ mustache. There were stares and some second takes for sure! I just laugh.

Climbing to the top of the Junebug¬†trail, there are dozens of raw eggs to the side. The idea is to carry the egg back without breaking and without using back pockets to carry it. There is still a long climb and a fast descent to do. As a woman, I already have a perfect home for my little egg. I carefully stuff it into my bra and continue climbing. At first, I try not to breathe too deeply thinking I will crush the lil¬†sucker; but turns out its not¬†that fragile and becomes no problem getting it to the finish safely. Just as you begin the final descent back to the finish line, a bright red cooler stands alone in the sand along side the trail. Inside are extremely large jello shots. I cram one in, almost losing my ‘stache in the process, shove the cup in my pocket and fly back down.

I am the first one to finish, but not done until I hop off the bike and spin around a bat three times and then awkwardly wobble myself over to the finish table to show my treasures found out on course. This is the most fun I’ve had during a race in a long time…and I look like a 70s porn star with a grass skirt and a helmet on!

People continue rolling in an emptying pockets and looking just a foolish as I did. Love it! Kevin comes riding in with his egg in his mouth! He rode the rest of the way like that, said..’it was a little tough to breathe on the climb’..awesome! Several other guys bring their eggs secured inside the waist of their bib shorts. Everyone has a smile as they roll in and twirl on the bat and stumble to the finish and there is lots of laughter.

There are awards given out once the last rider rolls thru. Old cogs for¬†medals and Kevin and I brought in some serious (or seriously un-spectacular!) schwag¬†to give away. And then everyone settles in for some drinks and food and lots of camaraderie. It’s awesome. This is why we do what we do. This is the reason we work hard so that we can play hard. These people and these bikes and these trails and these events…it’s why we love to mountain bike! I can’t wait for next year!

Some amateur photos follow below, but for a real look at the action check out Robert Dunn’s site: http://www.robertdunnimages.com/p1041460034

Awesome organizers: Anne and O

Best Dressed award to Randy Harris..that’s one fast hippie!

Ph-abulous Photographer Robert Dunn

Christina whirls away

First in and around the bat!

Kevin and his egg

Denver McKinney

Sandbagger award 2 years in a row?! Go Paul!

Jen Paterson and Lil Jesse

King and Queen of Nonsense

Fun had by all!

Look at that! Tony Dinsdale can juggle!

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AES Kentucky Camp

What an absolute awesome day to ride! I mean, it is fall in Southern Arizona and you just can’t ask for a better backdrop to be out in nature! The day started out cloudy and with a hint of rain in the sky, but with a high of 72 if feels like perfect riding weather. El Tour is going on in the background, we pass many riders as we leave town and head down towards Sahuarita for AES’ Kentucky Camp event. I’ve done El Tour probably six years and every year I feel more in danger on the street during the race…since the crash of ’09, neither Kevin or I have ventured back out to do it. I think the last 3 years I had participated, I wasn’t really able to come in any better then 4:50… Some of you may find it strange that I think riding my road bike in a race is more dangerous than riding my mountain bike at high speeds down rocky, cactus filled terrain. Those of you in the know, understand. I am in control of everything I do on a mountain bike (even when I’m out of control…see last post!); on the road, it’s often at the hand of others. Don’t get me wrong, I ride my road bike all the time…there are times I miss that race…maybe next year…

Back to the actual reason I’m writing this! We’ve chosen to ride a mountain event today, get out of the city and down towards Gardner Canyon area. If you’ve never been to an AES (Arizona Endurance Series) event, I highly recommend hitting one up. They are alot of fun. They are usually free to enter…or for a donation of a six-pack of good beer; you can race it, ride it or tour it and there is always an after party to just sit around, trade stories and get to know some of the other local (and some not so local) mountain bikers. Now, AES’ rides are not for the faint at heart! They do usually offer a shorter course, there is still always some big climbs and technical singletrack…but this is why we ride! The whole reason for them is to get out and ride your bike for miles and miles and hours and hours in some of the most beautiful places in the state. Mr. Brown (Chad for short) runs the series and is a local Tucson-ian…he does a great job! Another great thing about the AES, is there are usually quite a handful of women that show up. It’s awesome to see gals, not unlike myself, getting out into the dirt and enjoying themselves! There is something to be said about riding with other women, not just racing; but for fun. And I think that women learn to mountain bike differently then men, so it’s nice to see how another female might take that jump or find a line better suited for them.

I did the Kentucky Camp last year, which was my first. It was also the first time to ever use a GPS (not my own) on a bike. Yes, I got lost. With a GPS. Would it have helped had I acually pressed the start button? Yes, it probably would have. Lesson learned. The look on my face, when I almost ran smack into Beto Villegas flying down the singletrack leading three guys strung out on his back wheel that I was heading the wrong way on, must have been priceless. This year I decided to do the short course with my husband.

We started the ride with a few rain sprinkles falling on our heads, chilly maybe just a bit; but a 1/2 mile up the road we would begin to work as the climbing started right away. Thru a sandy jeep road to some very nice single track on the AZT. Climbing switchbacks. The still air. Clouds overhead. The rain drops ceasing. Only the sound of heavy breath and pedal strokes over the dirt. Very nice indeed!

All smiles

We go on and climb for a while with a bit of roller coastering mixed in. Kevin and I are playing leapfrog on the ups and the downs. From behind me after the first bit of descent, comes Chloe Woodruff. Chloe is a local Pro whom I had actually just met in person today. I am thrilled to get to ride with her! Throughout the ride we chat a bit and chase each other some and stop for photo ops. We even make a few wrong turns together, but nothing major, just a little temporary misplacement is all. ūüôā

On the back half of the course, there are lots of jeep roads connecting the trails. Some are a little rutted and loose, but for the most part fairly nice to ride on. I get hung up at one point after dropping my opened GU packet. I can’t leave that! I need that! So since this is a nice laid back kinda ride, I stop and pick it up; dust it off and eat it. Mmmm…Roctane Orange-Vanilla. Then I catch back up to the little group we’ve created.

buddy, Mark Torowus

At the top of some of the climbs, the view just opens wide up and is stunning. Birds are playing on the light wind and you can see for miles upon miles even with the cloudy day. The desert looks completely different with a cloudy backdrop. At one point the group of us is screaming down some jeep road. Chloe, followed by myself and then Kevin. The road turns and ruts out right in our line. We scuttle thru it, but there lies a long black plastic pipe in the middle. (Wait for it…here’s your incident) I get hung up on this pipe. I pull out of it, but the bike forks sharply to the right…where Kevin is flying thru. I don’t know how we did it; but both of us managed to stay upright and not go down. Other than a nicely colored bruise forming on my tricep, we both came out unscathed. Whew! It doesn’t sound that scary…but for one brief moment, it was. The rest of the ride is the great singletrack we rode in on. Totally different going the other direction. But somehow, it seems there is more climbing then I’ld have thought there should have been when riding outbound…didn’t we climb that whole way out?? Ha. There are some technical descents, rocky. I ride all of it minus one left-hand switchback that I didn’t quite make around. Almost, but that darn tree root got in the way of my pedal as I was trying to save the turn. Oh well, foot down, onwards. Its after this that Chloe puts the hammer down and walks away from all of us. Am I really ready to play with the big girls?!

29 miles and 3600ft ascent later, we are all back at the camp. Sweaty, dirty and smiling! What a great ride! Now its time to sit around, drink some ‘recovery’ beverages and talk with all the other riders as they come in one by one from both the long and short course. This is what it’s all about: the bike, the people, our nature, the comradery. Love it!

post ride par-tay

Vegemite??!

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Nice save, Beth!

Well, let me tell you about my fun little ride today. It was a doozy. I’m just out there for some fun, pushing it when I feel like¬†and sometimes¬†JRA (our lingo for¬†‘just riding along’…you know, usually this is when something is about to occur).

Its a¬†beautiful morning in the neighborhood and I’m heading out the door to play in my backyard, which lately has become something like a sandbox in places. Remember those? Any way, the temps are finally cooling off and it’s about 60 which is perfect riding weather. The sun is just peeking up over the mountains and believe it not there is no wind. Weee!

After the first climb is under my belt, and I am quite pleased at making it through all the sand this morning, I begin the second climb up to the saddle. Beautiful singletrack now, but a bit washed away after this summer’s massive monsoon season. There is this one spot I just can’t seem to get thru anymore. Well, that’s it…I’m sweeping that stupid sand off the line. So here I am, squatting with a big stick in my hand sweeping the sand off the trail. After about 10 minutes of work,¬†I¬†hop back on my bike, descend past where I cleaned up and climbed over it again. Yea! Much better. I feel satisfied…and dusty.

I continue on and descend from the saddle, not too shabby and the brakes are working! My back wheel is a bit squirrely, seems its not¬†even on the same bike as the front wheel and has a mind of it’s own. The darn rim is bent, badly. If you can hear me out there, give a girl some help here, Stan’s! At the end of the sweet descent, I climb up towards the Gypsum mine (no longer in use). There is some double track, some single and definitely more sand. Its very¬†quiet and¬†even a little creepy at times knowing the only thing up here is me, a rundown mine and whatever ghosts might be lingering (ok, it’s Halloween, so,¬†ya know).¬†I turn around at the top of the main climb and head back down, JRA. (You feel it coming here, right?)

My wheels fail to communicate and I get stuck off line. I’m bouncing off baby heads and out of control. My butt slides off the back of the seat. My left foot comes unclipped. Getting faster and knocked every which way. Then my right foot comes unclipped. Uh-oh. I’m still hanging on with both hands and my belly resting on the seat, my left knee is rubbing against the back tire and as I come dangerously close to a rather large ocotillo, I manage to get the brakes on and come to a stop….without a major crash. Whew! Seriously, I sometimes wonder how I am still in one piece! Except for the super tender tire burn on the inside of my left knee (yes, I look like I’ve been run over. hahaha), I am otherwise unscathed. This whole ordeal lasted a meer¬†few seconds, but it was certainly enough time to weigh out the consequences that [could have]¬†lay ahead. This is one for the books, an excellent save if I do say so myself.

Next up is the sandy jeep road leading to the rest of the singletrack¬†I will hit while still in the Tortalitas. Going smooth, if not a bit slow secondary to a¬†loss of momentum¬†thru the¬†deep washes. The singletrack¬†is awesome! Fairly fast and not too torn up. And I’ld¬†like to say uneventful here, but that would put me in really deep shit. No really! And literally.¬†I couldn’t miss it. I ran right thru that really deep shit, cow pattie¬†to be exact. And as it splatters up onto my bike and onto me for the next several minutes while my tires roll over the dirt, I am thankful that it has missed my face. At least I am not eating shit! ūüėČ

Onward! Cause that’s what I do. The rest of the ride, I will say went well. I headed over via a power line road into the Catalinas where I climbed up and descended out back to the paved road home. I was riding¬†to enjoy the day and the beautiful fall weather that doesn’t last very long¬†in Tucson, and that’s exactly what I did. I hardly saw any other people out there and I¬†feel grateful that I was able to get out and appreciate what the world has to offer us here. ūüôā

My backyard playground!

 

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Picked just for you

Gotta love Stan’s boogers! Picked from my hubby’s front tire just now..quite a specimen!

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Cloudy day ride

Got to sleep in this morning! Ahh..the little things!
Clouds, a few rain drops, lots of hills and beautiful scenery. Tucson is a great place to live!

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Blazing trails

Friendly little group ride this morning on the dirt. One of my favorite local trails, being able to launch out my front door (ok, garage) to ride this puppy. Last season, the trail was as fast as it ever will be….monsoons have done their damage this year. I feel like we’re blazing new trails each time I head out onto it. Pretty cool! Lots of new obstacles, some sandy spots layed out just in the most inconvienent of places and the greenery has gone wild! I guess it’s about time to get out there and do a little trail maintenence! Any volunteers to help??! Work is always more fun with company!

http://app.strava.com/rides/20170292

Oh yes! The rattlers are still out! Saw a lil one sprawled out this morning.

 

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