Thursday, July 26, 2007

From Houghton/Hancock area Scott and I drove north to copper harbor to check out the trails. We rode some of the trails that are part of the race course September 1st or 2nd this fall. We were told to ride Paul's Plunge, but rode most everything else before we had to call it a day. The singletrack is fun - full of roots and rocks. The rocks were really loose; more like riding out west than the midwest. Copper Harbor has a really active bike community and they are in the process of making more singletrack. We rode some new stuff that was a little sketchy with the bench cut into the side of a hill with a revine to fall into if one is unfortunate. I was off on my skills that day, so I got a nice little hike through some of those sections.

We rode into the tip of the keewenaw penisula the second day on gravel roads and two track. It was really nice and we were able to ride close to the lake on parts and follow the map we purchased at the local (and only) bike shop. We cooled off (and cleaned up) in the lake with a public beach. It was really nice to hang out, ride our bikes and read on this vacation. This is what we needed to do, and unfortunately it came at the time when we were planning on doing big races instead. I need time off from racing for a few weeks as the most important races are the second half of the season. I don't feel I have raced well in roughly a month, so I am working to get back on track. We got home on sunday and neither of us has ridden our bikes since. I am taking time off until I feel like riding, which it usually sooner than later, but it has been four days already. As a distraction, I am building gardens in my front lawn. That is digging up my front lawn with a spade - by hand. I am sure my neighbors think I am nuts. I am feeling that my yard needs to produce vegetables rather than grass and weeds. I have been reading Mother Earth News and getting lots of ideas. I am working on convincing Scott that we need chickens, amonst other furry creatures. He's a tough sell.

Other good things: Cytomax came in the mail while I was gone. I really like the pink lemonade cytomax drink and the evopro and muscle milk drink mixes. The evopro vanilla tastes awesome in a berry smoothy with plain yoghurt.

My Oakley sunglasses are working great! I really like the flak jacket - the lenses are fantastic that allow enough coverage so I don't get extra air going in to produce tears as I am flying downhills.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Scott and I are currently hanging out at Cyber Cafe in Houghton, MI. Our trip to VT took a detour to the U.P. We were in Marquette for the majority of the week, poping our van top up at Tourist Park and mostly riding from there. We rode the South trail system and met a guy (thanks Tom!) that took us around on some of the trails and found some others on our own. We then headed to little preque isle/sugarload/harlow lake area to ride. Really nice singletrack there as well. We rode quite a bit each day and somehow managed to find our way back to the park from harlow lake via backroads making a nice big loop, instead of taking 550? back to town. We rode some other various trails the next day and watched the new Harry Potter movie. Good flick. The trails in Marquette are fantastic and we cannot say enough about how good they are and how much there is. I would have never thought there would bew that much. There are also supposedly good riding near munising and ishpehming, but we didn't ride there. Maybe next time.

Another gem we rode witht the Down Wind Sport's ride was in Gwinn. We rode about 1/2 of a 27 mile singeltrack loop. My previous teammate at NMU, Jeff and part-owner of Down Wind, got us connected with the ride. It is always good to see him and his wife, Melanie again. We just slept in a random spot that night and then headed up to Houghton/Hancock to ride the Maasto Hiito/Churning Rapids trails. We rode almost 4 hrs, got a bit turned around, but finally made it back with some water and energy left. Great trail system and home of the Chain Drive race.

The best cup of coffee in Houghton is here at the Cyber Cafe. Good food at The Library. The best cup of coffee we could find in Marquette was at The Bagel Shop on third street. One of the best places to eat is the Casa, but also Nordic Bay. The south trail system is located behind Nordic Bay, making it very accessible if one were to stay there.

Scott has kept me posted on the US Nationals races. Congrats to Kyia and Jenna on fine finishes. From some of the pictures, looked like it was 'a little' muddy. Reminded us of West Virginia a few years back. I am a little sad we didn't go, but I also know that the easy riding and relaxing we are doing is the smart thing to do at this point in the season.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Brutal. That about sums up yesterday's race in Suamica, WI; the second WORS marathon race. The course was pretty flat and it took about 15 minutes of riding to hit the first of three sections of singletrack. The women started 1' after the men. Four laps of 11.5 miles.

I felt bad from the start. I wasn't breathing hard, but my legs were killing me. They just hurt and never recovered at any point in the race. It was like trying to get logs to turn the peddals over. Not sure what is going on or why, but something is wrong. I have had about four races this year where I just feel bad the whole race. I don't recover after uphills and I have zero power. I wanted to be done with the race after the first lap. I saw Scott sitting in the grass (he started in the men's group a minute ahead of the women) and I knew he felt bad. He won't keep riding if he can't race hard. He was suffering going slow, so he pulled the plug on his race. I wanted to be done, but tried to keep the lead each lap so I could win our entry fee money back. Kind of a lame reason.

I caught up to a few expert riders in my first lap and after passing two guys that decided to race again, we had a nice group for about 1.5 laps until the single speed guy crashed in front of me in the singletrack and the geared bike guy got a gap on me. After a good effort I caught back on to him and rode another lap with him, but I was suffering already. I could do very little work for the group of us two. He got ahead of me before the end of the third lap and I almost caught back on before the end of the single track, but then a group of comp riders needed to get by and I let them pass, opening the gap. Going into the final lap I had to time trial it through most of the lap, not lose my lead, and keep my bike upright. I got really dizzy numerous times while riding. I would take more water, some more quick sugar - I had a total of a bottle of Cytomax, a camelback full of water (2 liters), and 4 gels during the race, but yet I would still get dizzy off and on. I started cramping on the last lap with about a half lap to go. My right Hamstring cramped after I passed a gal in the singletrack. I finally got that to settle down when my right quad started to quiver, then my left, then my left adductors. Another group of comp riders caught me and I jumped in the back of their group. I couldn't believe how much easier it was and my cramping subsided. I finished with the tail-end of the group - which included our good friend and Scott's summer boss, Mike Haag.

I was very happy to be done and all I could do after is lay down. I was so tired.

Scott and I stayed with M&M's good friend from G.Bay. Really nice couple and fun to hang out with.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No racing this past weekend. We needed the weekend off. I read Kyia's blog about her race and Jenna's crash. I hope she is OK. I hate crashing. Sounded pretty bad for her to have to rest for a while before getting back on the bike.

Scott, Narum, Big Daddy, Todd, Bushey and I went for a longer ride on trails on sunday. We had a great ride. Fantastic trails and only saw probably two cars as we crossed roads to get to other sections of trail. I had to tape up Scott's wrist (otherwise his hand goes numb) and Narum's shoulder (AC separation) prior to heading out. I got another chance to further my taping skills last night at The Monday Night Ride. Dr. Mougeon took a spill landing on his shoulder; another likely AC separation. Luckily, he is Dr. and has a bag full of different types of tape. We got him taped up as well and hopefully he followed through with the X-ray to rule out a fracture. I think most of us mountain bikers know what it feels like to have to go to work wounded. I have worked with a sprained wrist on several occassions after falling on my bike. Scott separated his R AC joint and had to relearn how to write on the chalk board while babying his R shoulder. It's kinda like a rite of passage, so to speak. You prove your toughness and worthy to get back on the bike.

Doug and Anne Swanson stopped by on their way through back from the North Shore to home on Sunday. It is always great to see those two. I did a little diagnosing and treatment regimen for some knee pain that Doug has going on since the NVGP. They enjoyed the brownies I made (they must have had ESP cuz the brownies came out just as they arrived; sorry Ski Hut you didn't quite get all of them as Doug had to take a few for the road). I don't crave chocolate like I used to (which is fantastic!) since going to see Dr. Mougeon.

Today we are planning to head out to Mont du Lac for a trail ride. I love the trail out there, full of really good technical singletrack. Tuesday nights are the only night of the week we are allowed to ride there, as it is privately owned. It is really nice of the owner to let COGGS host a weekly ride there. It is a free ride if you are a COGGS member, or $5 if you are not a member. With membership you get a really cool bike hat that fits under your helmet for colder rides. The hat was designed by Kate, the Emperor's girlfriend and loyal COGGS member, and Kyia Malenkovich managed our order through the company she works for and did a great job for us!

Next on our agenda is deciding to stay with our decision and head out East for nationals, or go to Colorado instead to just ride. I am torn between the two as I have a really bad start position for nationals.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I am finally feeling better. Yesterday I had the first ride where I felt normal in two weeks. I actually felt good. I took this recovery mix Dr. Greg put together for us after my ride today. It tastes kinda like sweet 'greens'. I like the taste. We need to get out today before it thunderstorms. The weather has been fantastic lately. Sunny, hot; it's summer! There are tons of tourists in Duluth. Makes it hard for Duluthians to avoid them. Scott and I took the motorcycle to dinner last night. It was so warm. Duluth usually has cool air going that fast, but yesterday it was sweltering. We had to sleep in the spare room in the basement. It is fantastically cool down there.

Last week I finally felt well enough to get back in my garden. There are some things growing. The critters somehow got inside my fencing, but I brought in reinforcements, planted a few more things and am hoping for the best. The McFaddens have a ton of woodchips for me to put to good use in my garden. I am not much of a green thumb - but it gives me something to do and we get some produce out of it.

I am reading a great book by Elizabeth Vliet. "Screeming to be heard, hormone connections women suspect...and dr's still ignore. The author is a physician specializing in women's health. She goes into great detail on topics such as PMS, peripmenopause and menopause, thyroid disorders, among other topics. I studies endocrinology in college to some extent, so her review of information is nice, plus all the interconnectedness between hormones and how the brain and body works (and potential irritating symptoms). I have a couple other books by her that have been revised with the latest information.

Scott is torched from helping our construction friend, Mike out these past few weeks. He has not been riding cuz when he gets done at the job site, all he can do is lay on the couch.

The littlest McFadden is getting bigger. He's almost back up to birthweight. He is so tiny. We went over the other night with some fresh strawberries picked at the local strawberry farm (Finke's), and shortcake fixings to share. We really like having the McFadden's as neighbors! We went and picked more strawberries yesterday, so now we have a freezerfull for the rest of the year. Raspberries and blueberries are next!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

On our way back from Eau Claire, Mike was driving and he and Charlie were deep in conversation. Scott and I were lounging in the back seat of the van - overly tired from our days efforts, when we see this deer headed for the mid section of our van from the driver's side. A half second later we hear a 'THUNK' against the side of our van, we look back and see the deer toppeling into the ditch, take a few efforts to recompose itself and then run into the woods. Mike stops the van and we all jump out to assess the damange. No dents in the van, luckily. Then we look at Charlie and Mike's bikes on the rack out back. Mike's is fine, but the above photo notes the damage done to Charlie's bike. For the photo, Charlie added the helmet he pulled out of his bag right before race time to find it crushed. It's a little hard to tell from the photo, but the back half is squished that Charlie can barely get that thing on his head. The van has an extra helmet that Charlie used for the race, on the condition it would come back unscathed.

I have felt really bad the past three days. I should not have raced. I have been hot and cold from saturday until monday, and then just feeling horrible since. I went into see Dr. Greg on Monday, so I know that things should get better soon. I am so tired that I can't do anything. I took Monday off from riding and tried to ride yesterday. If we would have gone any slower, we would have fallen over. I tried to encourage Scott to head on his own while I slogged home, but I guess it wasn't that bad of a pace for him. I have no desire to do much of anything, even ride, which is really odd for me. I hope I feel better soon as it is a beautiful day outside.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Scott and I loaded up the van and pickup up Charlie and Mike to head to the Wors race in Eau Claire yesterday. I almost didn't jump in the van and if I had to drive I would not have gone. Saturday my stomach was bad and I spent most of the day on the couch curled up with the cats. Not sure if they like it too much when I infringe on their space. I still felt pretty crappy on race day, but decided to show up to try regardless. I have had good races in the past not feeling very well and since the van was going anyway....

Charlie and Mike met us at Beaner's in west Duluth. Much to their disappointment, Beaner's had not yet opened for the day. Charlie was in shambles not knowing where his cup of jo would come from for the day. I like to think that drinking caffeine is all mental, but there are physiological benefits (and detriments - I once had a pt that told me she had to discontinue drinking coffee because the daily 32 read that right 32 - was giving her heart palpatations.)

Off in the van ... riding in comfort. I tried to get some sleep, but Charlie was a little chatty. I introduced him to the book I am reading, "Screeming to be heard" by Elizabeth Vliet. This book goes into detail about various hormonal and other problems women have that most doctors overlook. If anyone has gone to the Dr, got some obscure explanation and felt not listened to or taken seriously then this is a good book to read. We really have to advocate for ourselves, but I'll save that for another day.

After about 10 trips to the bathroom, getting all 'kitted' up for the day, Megan Anderson, the legendary Harry Anderson's wife, agreed to give up water bottle hand-ups,we started our preride. Kudo's to Megan! She saved us all. Preride went fine, but I could have easily stayed home and been on the couch. My legs felt fine to go slow and spin. I did one pick-up; that was enough.

Kyia and Jenna showed up, so knowing I was not feeling that well, my goal was for top three. I got a good start, but went straight where everyone went left, but it wasn't a big deal I still was third behind Jenna and Anne down the two track. I could barely see Jenna from all the dust kicked up from the men's pack that started 15 seconds ahead of us. I got around Anne and was on Jenna's wheel for a little while, when Kyia came flying around to take the lead. We all stayed together in a line until I looked up and saw a line of guys waiting to get into the singletrack. Kyia and Jenna went off to the left. The course turned right into the woods, so I rode through the tall grass on the right and got pass about 10 or so men. At another congested area I got by a few more. This was the best my race would get. I stunk it up in the singletrack. Kyia caught back on and got pass me. She was on fire on the two track, but I stayed with her for a lap. Then got gapped on the singletrack and lost her on the two track. She caught on to a group of guys and held on...I was not able to get back on to the group and rode best I could for the day. My legs felt flat, had zero turn-over, and as Charlie stated later in the van, I did not have the racing 'eye of the tiger'. I stayed in the race regardless cuz if Jenna, Kyia and I finished we would get fantastic Norba points. I didn't know that Jenna had crashed early in the first lap and then called it a day. I wondered why she had not caught me during the race, I was not going that fast. Kudos to Kyia she raced well and fast. Good to see her race well.

I have not raced in a race on that fast of a race course in a long time. Nor as dusty. I had way too much air in my tires for a course that dusty and loose around the corners. Scott had a really challenging day. We forgot to tape his wrist so his right hand went numb throughout the race. After the first rocky descent about a mile or two into the race, he blew his fork. He couldn't ride singletrack and thought he was just having an 'off' day until he realized it was his fork that was diving as he would go through turns, etc. He endo'd and fell three times the last lap and more during the previous laps. His bike has never got through that kind of test in the past. Scott took his fork off this morning and is off to get it sent in. We have a big trip to VT coming up and he needs his fork to work. VT has a very technical descent, similar to riding at Spirit Mtn.

On our way home, we stopped by to meet the newest McFadden. He is so tiny! He is about 6# and they named him Bode. It is fun to see our friends holding and taking care of such a tiny little baby. Diana and Todd are already good parents and they have only had four days of practice. I hope I get to babysit. He is very precious!