Monday, May 28, 2007

This was a super busy weekend. No races, but it felt like we did a race each day since saturday. Scott and Mike, along with Charlie, Todd, Joe, and Jesse (who drove up from the cities to help out), all worked two solid days to get a new roof on our house. I was go-to girl - doing all but getting up on the roof. I don't like heights. Bad things can happen if one falls from up there. The roof looks great! I like the look of the green roof. Our neighbors sounded a bit disappointed that we would re-roof our house with a different color to no longer 'match'. Our old roof was in a sorry state, so luckily it worked out for Mike to lead the project this weekend.

I planted about 30 trees in our yard - to get rid of the grass and as windbreaks. I finished planting my garden and made an eight foot high fence around my garden to, hopefully, keep the deer out of our garden. The neighbors feed the deer so I am going to have to cross my fingers and pray a bit along with this fence. I used the deer netting variety - that stuff will make you cross-eyed looking at it, and then tied some orange tape to it so that animals won't run into it. I had to take today off from riding. All the trail building, compost moving, tree planting, etc, etc caught up with me. I was just shot today, but kept going as I had six year old Sophie to keep track of as Charlie was helping roof. Plus, she's cool to hang out with and a really good worker. I try to keep her as busy as I can. Hate for her to get bored! She was intent on collecting as many old nails from the roofing project as she could. Evidently, Charlie was supposed to pay her per nail that she found in the grass, etc. Todd even brought a magnet on a stick to help her find them with. Not sure how big of a hole Charlie has in his pocket, but I kept Sophie a little too busy for her to have made her fortune.

I had a nice ride saturday by myself. The boys went out to dinner - along with Diana - while I just had to get out and ride. I had been hauling compost, getting a truck stuck, then unstuck; and making trail. It felt like I had waited forever to get on my bike that day.

I rode yesterday with Amy, a friend of mine from college - NMU days. We won our first NCSA National XC ski championship together before NMU switched to NCAA's. She was a really fast XC skier. We grew up racing against each other in high school and then skied together in college on the same team. It was really fun until we both got so overtrained we could barely get out of bed. Amy doesn't live in duluth, but just showed up at my door on her bike. So I took her on the new trail we put in this weekend (we built about 1-2 miles of new trail). Amy's new to single-track riding and it brought back memories of when I was first riding. Back then I didn't like riding with anyone else but Scott. I used to laugh and tell Scott that 'my feet belonged on the ground'. Amy's one of my favorite people so it was fun to bike along and chat.

I will be off to wausau for the wors marathon next weekend. Should be fun as I have not raced in wausau for a while and the loop should be longer than a regular wors course. Looking forward to it!

Friday, May 25, 2007

This last monday was the first Monday Night Women's Ride of the year. As you can tell from the photo the conditions were a bit less than perfect. 40 degrees and foggy...a not so atypical day in Duluth. We had a great time riding and chatting. Rachel, in the blue, borrowed my Gary Fisher 29er and Michelle rode her singlespeed.

The Women's ride happens every second monday each month. We meet in conjunction with The Ski Hut ride (go to and click on Monday night ride, 'read more' for the location, or call the store). This is a 'no drop' ride and there is usually a second rider from the ski hut to keep the group together.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Cable Classic - 23 mile long course

Race day was yesterday...I love racing at Cable. The long race is about 1/2 singletrack and the rest two track.

It was 63 degrees and humid as we drove out of Duluth. Sunny on the way down and then as we were getting ready to warm-up, the clouds rolled in and it started to rain. The rain let up at the start, but temps dropped as the race went on. Our 8 mile ride fromt the finish back to our car was freezing.

The race got started at 10 am. The lead-out car went pretty slow, so it wasn't tough to stay up near the front. I got behind a few guys in the first section of singletrack and couldn't get by them. Unfortunately, that opened a gap between our group and the next group that we couldn't seem to chase down. The singletrack was fantastic! Twisty, windy, but able to keep the momentum going. I was racing with Team Hollywood and a Ski Hut guy for most of the race. It was fun to be racing with fast men! I was able to hold my own on the uphills and singletrack, but had to work on the road sections. I felt quite a bit better than I did at Maplelag last weekend from the standpoint that I could get my legs to spin up the hills and my legs didn't burn the entire race! Some races I know I just have to suffer through. I didn't have it as bad as some of the other Duluthians racing. Our friends Charlie and Brian lauched off this moto-style burm that is on the trail to slow people down prior to crossing a gravel road. Brian launched first and dislocated his shoulder. Charlie didn't hit his brakes at all prior to going off this thing and landed hard - crushing his helmet and looking like he'd been dragged behind a horse for a mile or two. Reports from the volunteer manning the area - Charlie flew the highest and furthest. Way to go Charlie!

Scott had a bit of bad luck as well. He was leading the race with Jesrin G. They had a comfortable gap ahead of the chase group. Scott said he felt fantastic! He couldn't go hard enough. Then he flatted. After his tire sealant failed (not enough in the tire) and big air failed to put the air in the tube (went everywhere else); he had to put a tube in, but then the tube had a hole or something. Then he finally begged a tube and air from another racer, but by then he had gotten passed by 1/2 the field or so. He raced his way back up to 44th, a big disappointment from the way the day started.

Scott and I lubed up our chains with Dumonde Tech racing lube. There is this huge puddle 1/2 way or so during the race that there was no way around. I biked straight through it and thought that was the end of clean shifting. I had zero problems shifting after that. Even the cool down ride to the car, my chain didn't sound dry or nasty.

So I finished first amongst the women, and 13th overall amongst the men. I wasn't too far out of 10th (about a minute). I could see a group of six or so men right ahead of me on the long two mile two track section into Cable, but was kinda tired and didn't have enough left to pour it on. Luckily, some Hollywood racer passed me and didn't try to drop me. Thank You!

I love racing cuz I learn something new each race. Whether it is how to better prepare for the race, race strategy, tactics, etc, etc. It is great having men to race with as they are very fast and it is tough to get around them being about the same speed. It makes me work. Nicoli A, an accomplished XC skier and improving MTB racer, stated in his Russian accent last year "Sara, my goal is to beat you." He came pretty close this race, only 1/2 a minute back. Looks like I have more work to do.....

A contrast from yesterday, today we had snow on our deck when we awoke this morning. We went for a nice little walk in the woods and are in recovery mode. I am really tired today, so looks like an afternoon nap is in order.
Photo by: Gary Crandall

Friday, May 18, 2007

Well, this week has been not too eventful. My first women's MTB ride got postponed until next monday due to up to baseball size hail that fell in Duluth. Quite a few of our friends experienced some hail damage to their vehicles. Trek sent me some cool stuff to hand out for the women's ride. I am trying to spread the word. We'll meet every second monday night of the month through the summer in conjunction with the ski hut Monday Night Ride - the women will go on a separate ride, but meet in the same location.

Training has just been ok. I must be tired from racing these past two weekends. Scott and I race tomorrow in Cable WI for the Cable Classic. I love that race! Really nice singletrack. Scott's 67y/o dad will race as well (along with his brother that he battled with last year in the race).

Better get to cleaning the bikes and getting the VW all set to go........

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This past weekend we were at a UCI race at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, MN. The course was phenomenal - a real mountain biker course and one that will make you a better racer and rider.

I raced the Pro race. There was a small field, but most of the women have been racing nationals and racing since end of March. This is my second race of the season, so I know I am not in top form, but I like to go fast and hard.

I got a good start, but one minute into the race, my legs started to feel sluggish. I had a difficult time pushing gears and getting the cadence I needed. I got passed and was 5th or 6th into the first small section of singletrack. A gal fell in front of me and the leaders gapped the rest of the field. Then I dropped by chain right before the big uphill wall and had to run up. I passed two riders in the lake section of singletrack, but then it took me a while to get passed the rider in third. I finally got past her in the singletrack, but by then the first two gals had a gap. I felt I rode the singletrack pretty well, especially considering how little I had ridden it this spring due to the snowmelt, wet trails, etc. My legs burned the whole race and I didn't really ever feel fast, just felt like I had to suffer to keep my spot and not give it up to the gal not too far behind me. I could see her from time to time as the course double-backed on itself, so I knew she was trying to catch me. I held her off for third place. I was satisified from the race as I did the best I could given how my legs felt.

My bike was set-up perfectly as I took some air out of my rear and front shocks since Iola and switched tires to the Bontragger Revolt X. I had perfect traction in the singletrack.

Sunday, us gals did a long group ride. It was really fun to ride with other fast women (although we rode slow)!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Scott and I drove down early yesterday to the WORS race at Iola. The first race of the year can be kinda painful and a bit of a learning experience, so we opted to race this weekend before the UCI race at Maplelag next weekend.

The race course was fast and unbelievably dry. They started the elite women 15 seconds behind the elite men. Kim Eppen and Anne Grabowski showed up for the race, along with 16 other elite women. Great to have a relatively big field. I always get nervous for races and knew I had to go fast....and hoping I could go fast. It is always hard to know that first race.

From the gun I was off the front and thought I would get caught as I was trying to get around some elite men. I had caught up to the tail end of the men while going up the first climb; maybe a minute or two into the race. I tried to go really hard on the ski trail-like sections and then not lose much time in the singletrack. The tires I chose were super fast, but didn't have quite enough tread for me to take the corners at greater speeds. I almost two-wheel skidded into a large, unmoveable, pine tree during the race. Quite exhilarting to pull out of that one. I caught up to Joe, from the ski hut, 1/2 way into the first lap and we basically played cat and mouse all race. He'd pass me on the uphills, and I would catch up on the down's and singletrack. At one point in the race, Joe asked if I needed a gel; evidently I must have slowed down a bit. Then I realized I hadn't taken anything to drink for over a lap. There were some nice sand pits along the course. A few crashes in front of me to avoid, but no crashing on my part. It was fun to ride my bike fast again! The last lap of the race I was focusing on going hard and not getting caught by other elite women or laped by the top elite men. I didn't see either one; finishing first. Kim, Holly, and Anne rounded out the top four.

Scott finished his race in 11th after having a bad time of it on his first loop. He couldn't get going the first lap and was breathing really hard, but going backwards. He came around and was able to race the last four laps. Well done, Scott!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Scott's step-dad makes carvings for a living. This was the first time he carved a biker. It's really cool! All the houses on our street look alike, so I think people will know which house is ours with this out front.

Today is was 40 degrees and cloudy when I went for my ride. I had long underwear, long sleeve jersey, jacket, winter riding pants. Winter gloves. It was super windy out. My goal for the ride was to get my bike set-up better for tomorrow's race. My positioning feels a lot better.

We were out this morning helping clean up Skyline Parkway with some of our neighbors. It was fun to have so many kids along. Can't tell you how many beer and pop can we picked up, along with hordes of other stuff. It'll be nice to put my feet up this evening and relax a little.

Womens bike night at the Ski Hut was a success! There were over 50 women that showed up. I talked a bit about where to Mountain Bike in Duluth and let the women know of the women's ride starting the second monday of the month. We had 'stations' around the store where women could learn how to tune their bikes or about some of the latest equipment. It was a good event and chance to see some people I have not seen in a while and bump into a few women I sold XC skis to when I worked retail while in college.

Today I will probably have to ride my XO1. It is raining out and my bike is all set up for this kind of weather. Fenders are wonderful inventions. I love my cross bikes. I got this one so I could save my XO2 for fall racing, especially as I have been riding it in the rain. Duluth weather can be a bit unpredicatable and we tend to get more rain and fog and cold than the twin cities, so my CX bike is a nice option. We have some road clean-up to do this morning to clean up Skyline. COGGS clean-up is going on as well this morning. We hope to continue buiding some new trail - and from what I hear COGGS should have 15-20 miles of new trail in around Wheeler Field in West Duluth by the time the club is done putting it in. Scott and I have been members of COGGS forever. It is a great group of bikers that do a lot for the community by putting in new trail, maintaining the trail already built by the club, and putting on The Dirtspanker race in June and PowderMonkey race in July, here in Duluth.

We race tomorrow in Iola as part of the WORS series. Not sure If I am going to sign up for the series yet, depends on how I feel this summer. I will be working a bit less than normal this summer so I am hoping to race a bit more. I find it challenging to balance work and racing. Probably cuz I want to do a good job at both.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

This is an updated photo of my 2007 Trek Fuel 9.9 racing bike. I still can't get over how light it is. I aslo included a photo of my front shock lock-out. Works fantastic in this location. I am getting my bike close to being ready to race this weekend. A few more saddle adjustments and I should be ready to race. This has been a super busy work week for me, so we'll see how things go. Tonight there is a Women's Bike Night at The Ski Hut. There will be reps from the bike industry there, including Trek. Myself and some of the other local women riders will give a brief presentation on biking in Duluth along with some hands-on opportunities to get familiar with women specific bike equipment and some general information.

In May I will be starting a Women's mountain bike ride. It will start the second monday in May and run through the summer/early fall. We'll be meeting in conjunction with the 6 p.m. monday night ski hut ride, but will go our own direction and pace. I am hoping we get a big group of women that love to ride, or are just curious and want to check it out. Should be a great opportunity for women to find other riding partners or just chat and ride for an evening, work on skills, etc. I am looking forward to it!