Sunday, September 30, 2007

This weekend we were down in South Kettle Moraine for the Fall Color Festival. The 'timed event' course was changed from last year to include 10 miles on the connector and with two blue Muir loops and an additional part of the red loop the race was about 35 miles long. Scott tried out some tires that he had not tried before. They are very fast and similar to the 'crows', or as I call them 'lucky charms' (which are not so lucky as if it is slick at all - there is big risk of going down - right Charlie?) The course must have had a heavy dew, or rain the days leading up to this saturday. There were a few big mud puddles with difficulty in some spots getting around them.

Doug, Scott, and Tristan did the 30 mile race - along with about 50 other people. I rode two + loops (about 25 miles)before volunteering out with the women's clinic. I had a blast. There were 20 enthusiastic women looking to improve their bike skills. It was fun to work with the other women. I would definitely do that again! I got in about 35 miles of riding, despite having to 'work'. That was great. My legs were a bit tired from the previous day's ride in Eau Claire with Doug and Scott. They were flying through the single track while I attempted to keep up. It was really fun!

Scott didn't have a very good day - as he crashed twice due to his tire selection and caught himself about eight more times from going down. Doug won with his 1x9 combination. He was pretty fired up about it. We had a good trip down and back. We had excellent accommodations and good dinner the night before.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This past Sunday Scott, our friend Joe and I headed to Iola to race. The about 5 hr drive was pretty uneventful. I was a bit nervous to test out my legs as I had not been on my bike in a week. My legs felt really bad after (and during) Cheq, so I took the week off and just walked and hiked instead. The fall colors are near peak and I love hiking in the woods with the leaves on the trail. McFaddens have joined us a few times, including little Bodee.

I had a nice chat with Lori S. that improved my spirits prior to warming up. The women got to start 15 sec again behind the men. I really like that format! We caught up to tail end of the men at the top of the first climb. I did not pre-ride the course and there was more sand than I remember earlier this year. The first long downhill was full of bumps and it was difficult to get around some of the men. One guy was trying to fight me for position, would get ahead of me, then slow down on the downhills. I tried to be a bit patient and finally stayed ahead of him not even half way into a lap. The singletrack was really fun and I felt I could go pretty hard on the ski trail. I was not climbing as well as I would have liked - it was like the long season was catching up with me on the climbs. Another week or two of rest should help. I led from the start of the race and was never challenged, adding a minute to my lead each lap. It was fun to race a shorter race. Michelle P. was very nice to agree to do hand-ups for Scott and I. I was so lucky that I got enough cytomax during the race as I got really not the third lap. Duluth has not been so warm lately and the upper 70s temp was a bit of a shock.

There was one section in the trail that was particularily sandy in the singletrack while riding uphill that it just sucked the life out of my legs for about 20 seconds. I almost went down once as I got too close to a sandy ledge along the singletrack, but saved myself from going down by riding sideways for a few seconds. The guy behind me was impressed. There is so much less congestion starting where the women start, which is really nice. No more fighting with comp men to let us pass.

Scott had a good ride, but chose too easy of a gear on the singlespeed. He rode a 34x19; he should have had a 34x17. He lost a few spots by not being able to go as fast as he would have liked on the ski trail portions of the racecourse. His next project is turning that bike into a 1x9.

Next off this weekend is the Fall Color Festival. Scott and my teammates will be racing. I'll be helping with the women's clinic and women's ride. I'm fired up. Should be a good time. I heard they changed the trails there some and made them even better. Should be good to see.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

To answer CP Farrow's comment - Scott is fired up to race Bushy's single speed 29er tomorrow at Iola. His back and hamstrings have gotten worked over this past week, but the ride is worth it. Scott already has a little tatoo to boot - that little kokapelli biker guy on his left ankle. I don't think he'll be converted to a single speed for good, but his Kelly 29er is going up for sale.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Chequamemgon is over. Today I skipped the criterium to test ride a Trek 69er instead. I had so much fun! Scott and I rode the Ojibwe trail. The 69er was a blast. I could go fast on the corners and over roots and rocks. If anyone gets a chance to ride one, I highly recommend it! It'd be a great bike for WORS courses.

At the start of the Cheq 40 on Saturday, it was around 40 degrees. It took my body a while to get warm while warming up. My toes were cold until the gun went off - then I forgot to think about them anymore. I had a really good position on the paved lead-out and once we hit 77 the lead four-wheelers let the race start - so the speeds were higher on the pavement than in past years. There was a crash after about a mile on the pavement to my right and just behind me. I was in very good position going into and then out of Rosie's Field, probably the best start ever. I didn't know where the other women were until Sue Haywood passed me and then Jenna. All three of us went back and forth for the next 20 miles. It was fun and fast. We were in kinda a weird group of guys that didn't get that we women were racing against each other for the overall. They would cut us off, make bad turns and then crash, ride straight through these big mud puddles when there was a nice dry line around, but mostly not realize that we were racing against each other and not them.

For some reason with about 16 miles to go I got dropped on a road section. I was just feeling bad at that particular time and lost my group. Sue and Jenna probably put a minute on me in the next mile. I took some gel, cytomax and kept trying to push, but it was like I was breathing hard and going no where. My legs were protesting. I didn't start too fast and I kept thinking I'll start to feel better again. Then Lea Davison passed me. I was trying to stay in it and still hoping to work my way back to the lead group and the podium. I'd try to latch on to guys that were passing me. I caught up with my teammate Doug and he tried to pull me up to the next group, but I could not hang on. I just felt bad. Then Kyia passed me going fast. I kept trying to push, but the legs wouldn't go and I couldn't make myself work any harder. Kinda like bonking, but not really. It felt like my HR just dropped and wouldn't get back up to race pace again.

So I finished fifth. My worst place ever, but 'only' 3 minutes down from first. I was sure I lost at least five minutes with how slow I was going those last 15 miles or so. I guess I should feel lucky that I finished at all. It is hard not to be a bit bummed as I would have liked to feel better. I just like to race fast and did, but for only 1/2 the race. I don't have to tell anyone how hard it is to win the Chequamegon. There are so many things that have to go right and many other things not to go wrong. It is a long race and anything can happen.

It was good to hang out with all the Trek people - we have a really good group - along with the midwest racers. Scott was in heaven as Telemark Lodge has a Ms. Pacman video game that he, Doug, and Dan were trying to conquer. I think the game won this round.

By the way if anyone is looking to buy a certificate for a new Thule multipurpose roof rack system AND one 517 Peloton Bike Carrier. Retail price roughly $300. Sale price: 1/2 of new (roughly $150 or B.O.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I have been trying to get rested up these past few weeks. My legs felt pretty bad for about two weeks after the Seeley/Rhinelander double-header weekend. I would have one good day, and then several bad ones or days where I didn't want to ride, which is quite unusual. Work has been really busy and my days kinda long that combined with the decrease in daylight has been a bit of a bummer. I had to ride the trainer last night for the first time since last winter. I ride very little on the trainer during the winter and never in the summer, but sometimes I just have to do what I have to do to get my legs moving. The fall is getting really cold, we have had days with lows in the 30s commonly and highs in 50s to low 60s this week. It's been a bit of a shock. In Duluth every fall the mice like to find a nice warm house to occupy once it starts getting cold. I found mouse droppings in our bathroom vanity drawer a few days ago. The next morning our cats has a nice little dead 'gift' for us when we woke up. Our girl cat went over to the dead mouse picked it up with her teeth and shook it around one more time to emphasize the superiority of her mousing skills. She is probably the one that actually made the kill, as our boy cat just likes to chase them and then will get bored if the mouse stops moving.

The next few weekends will be busy. This weekend is the Cheq and then there are races every weekend thereafter for about a month. Then the Iceman in early Nov. I am hoping to keep my race shape through the fall and hope the weather warms up a bit. CX season starts soon and I have a Trek OX2 just waiting for me to race. My OX2 is my first choice to ride in the spring with the addition of fenders. I am looking forward to racing again this weekend as I have taken a few weekends off. I need racing to keep me motivated and honest about my training. Otherwise, I would probably just ride as much as I wanted all the time and maybe torch myself. I love riding my bike.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day everyone! For those of us that return to the classroom, our labor is about to begin! Teaching is full-on once the semester starts. I will be taking one graduate class while teaching this fall. I like it already (of course I had to get a head start reading due to the long weekend).

Yesterday my parents threw a 65th birthday party for my Uncle from California. It was great to see my cousins, aunts and uncles along with my siblings and their children. I am the 6th of 7 children, so it was quite a party. Scott stayed home. He recently found out he has giardia. He'll start on antibiotics tomorrow. No wonder his racing DNF rate is over 50% this year. That little bug is taking all his energy! He was planning on heading to the Maplelag MNSCS race this past weekend, but decided with how he was feeling he'd probably DNF. It is too bad that neither of us could do the race. We both love that race and racecourse!

Last week I took quite a few days off from the bike. My legs felt aweful after racing two races last weekend. I finally got back on the bike on Thurs, then had to take Friday off (went for a little hike instead) and then felt pretty good on Sat and fine on Sun riding easy. The racing season takes its toll and I still have four or more races left, depending upon CX. Duluth hosts its CX race Oct 13th, so we'll both probably do that. We'll see. Today we plan on riding with an old high school friend from my XC ski racing days and owner of one of my WORS series Gary Fisher bikes (prize for the overall). The trails are in really good shape. We have gotten a bit of rain so they are no longer dusty, but rather setting up very nicely.

My guess is that the fall colors will peak early due to the dry weather. Hopefully, my tomato's will ripen before the fall thaw. I have a ton of green tomato's right now. My green peppers are producing, they are very little - about a 1/4 size of those in the store, and taste so much better. Hopefully, next year we will have even a bigger garden and more berry plants. We should have quite the little produce farm to replace our lawn! The neighbor put up a fence partially cuz I think they were tired of looking at our 8' high deer netting with fluorescent flaggin on it around our garden. It does camoflauge it nicely from their view.

Should be a pretty busy week getting used to a new schedule, learning all the new student's names and riding when I can.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Last Friday we headed down to Seeley, WI to stay with M&M the night before the Seeley Prefat race. We got there later than we had planned, but had a nice dinner and chat with our friends. Their hospitatilty is always outstanding.

We rode our bikes to the start of the race Saturday AM. I didn't get as much of a warm-up as I would have liked, but I guess that was OK. We could ride a combination of pavement and gravel to the start and it wasn't far away by bike. We met Scott's dad and brother at the start, both of which were doing the race.

The start of the race was a little sketchy this year. The start was pretty slow. Scott's brother Brad just rode off the front. Pretty characteristic of him while the pack stayed together. Some guy started leaning into me during a straight stretch on the pavement lead out. I held my line, so that was fine. Good thing this wasn't my first mass start as one of us, or both, could have easily gone down. We hit the first uphill and I felt like I was going backward. My legs didn't respond. I went from front to midpack. Then we hit the first trail uphill and I was still barely moving. I worked my way up slowly to the pack of guys I settled in with - it was a group of fellow Trek rider and Ski Hut guys. Good group as we worked together well. We were all together until the first section on singletrack. I got around on guy ahead of me and then was second in the line going through the singletrack. By the time myself and the guy ahead of me got out we had a huge gap on the rest of the group. I knew I had to race the next day, so I was trying to conserve some energy and we rode the ski trail and stayed together. I lost him on the last section of singletrack I think mostly to me trying to conserve for tomorrow's race knowing that I was ahead of the next woman by some time. The race was between 25-28 miles long. I finished first for the women and 12th in the overall results. Scott was 6th and his brother 7th. Scott felt pretty bad during his race, but hung in there to finish it off and get a bit of prize money. I won this really cool wall hanging that has a hygrometer, thermometer and barometer made out of wood, complete with tree bark and a roof. My friend and hostess, Michelle, was second. Good job, Michelle!

Scott and I discussed prior to the race that I should not race due to the WORS marathon on Sunday of the same weekend. But, we both love the race course, like to support local race organizers and Tom Gaier does a great job pulling this race together. His son won the men's race over Jeff Hall and TJ Woodruff in the sprint.

So, on Sunday M& M, Scott and I jumped into the van and headed to Rhinelander for the WORS marathon. We got there a little later than anticipated and got a short warm-up before a long, 42 mile race. I was cursing myself during the first two laps for racing the previous day. My legs and body was very tired. The start of the woman's race was pretty slow, but I realized my legs were not climbing well, so I hung back with the pack until the first section of singletrack. I got to the front, never looked back, and had a considerable gap by the end of that first section. The singletrack was really bummpy. My triceps and back got a bit sore. Had I known it was so bummy I would have softened by suspension a bit more. I felt bad for those riding fully rigid and hardtails. It must have been kinda brutal in sections for those riders. The full-suspension made a big difference. I got passed by two groups of comp riders during the second lap, which was quite a bit earlier than normal. I finally could hang on to the third group and stuck with them for the last two laps. They were riding better on the uphills and flats, but I catch back on on the downhills and singletrack. I started to actually feel better the last lap where I felt like I was racing. I wish I would have kept track of my lap times, I am sure my last lap was the fastest. Scott felt really bad during the first lap of his race, and decided to call it a day. Luckily, I got a bottle of Cytomax from him as I was running out. I perked up quite a bit and I attibute my being able to race that last lap to his hand-up. I won this race and the Marathon Series overall.

This past week I have focused on getting my legs recovered and back to their normal energetic state. I also started teaching again, so I am getting used to a new schedule. I am also going back to school to get my transitional DPT degree at St. Scholastica, where I teach, so it should be a pretty busy school year.