Saturday, June 30, 2007

This past week has been super busy. Tristan was up from Sunday to Thurs. Can't say I have ever cooked that much for Scott and our house guest. Tristan was really easy to have as a house guest. I had a few extra days off from work so that was really nice. Scott and I were able to do some things we normally don't get to do during the work week - like hang out at Beaner's, our local coffee shop. We went there today as well. On days I work I struggle to get on the bike. Yesterday I just couldn't get my legs to push my pedals and was going painfully slow. I let Scott ride by himself and turned home. Days I don't work I find I have so much more energy to ride and do other things as well.

Today we took the motorcycle out to watch the Duluth Duathlon. There were a lot of Ski Hut MTB team and triathlon team members competing. Scott said the temps were in the mid-50's while we were watching. My good friend from College, Amy, and her husband Al stayed at our house last night before the big race. Al did the race while the rest of us watched. It's always good to see Amy. We skied at NMU together and she makes me laugh. I have a picture of us together on the podium from the 1992 Korteloppet hanging on our wall. I love that photo - we look so young.

Tomorrow we are planning on heading down to Eau Claire. I am pretty tired so I plan on laying low today, riding at some point and then heading to a friend of our's house for a BBQ party. Todd and Diana had their first baby this past thursday and hopefully we'll get a chance to meet the little guy today or tomorrow. I love other people's babies. Especially if the babies are not crying.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tristan is up staying with us for a few days seeing the new Doctor in town, Dr. Greg. He's trying to get his health back so he can race fast again before the end of the season. He joined us on The Ski Hut ride last night. There was a group of 20 plus riders. A few women showed up, which was great! One gal is only in Duluth for a few months and she did incredibly well as the trails are not easy. There are quite a few bridges that make me nervous cuz you'd land in a revine if you fall off the bridge. No casualties last night, thankfully. Ever humbled, my 69 y/o father-in-law rode a bridge that I dismounted and walked across. He's amazing. The trail also has roots and rocks and some pretty tricky uphills. Ever since getting my contacts put in my correct eyeballs, my technical skills have been returning to their former level. I realized riding with Dan and Scott that something was wrong. I couldn't get over any log piles or anything tricky. I switched contacts and its like a whole new world unfolded. Nice to not feel like I am looking through coke bottles.

Scott's brother Brad, could not find a ride from Duluth back to mpls after the Mont du Lac race. He decided to leave at 9 PM and ride home. Scott gave him a ride to Carlton, he rode to Moose Lake in the dark (he wouldn't take the light we offered). He had to stop cuz he couldn't see. He slept on a park bench until 3 AM when he awoke because his thin sweatshirt couldn't keep him cozy (he didn't have anything with except bike clothes and a sweatshirt). He wouldn't take the bars I offered, regretting his choice as he awoke starving. He made it to Pine City by 7 AM and then home around noon. 12 hour ride on his mountain bike with knobby tires. It usually takes him between 8-9 hrs to go the entire distance to our house on his road bike. He said he won't ride again anytime soon from Duluth on his MTB, ride in the dark and not take food with him. Crazy nut.

On another note, I was witness to a motorcycle accident the other week. I was riding my motorcycle and this guy in a trunk from the other direction was waiting for me to pass before he turned left, when I saw a motorcycle come up behind him and failed to stop. The motorcyclist hit the trucks rear left bumper and fell right into my lane. It was like watching a slow-motion endo on a mountain bike, onto pavement. The dolt wasn't wearing a helmet, but had gloves and some good boots that probably prevented him from braking his ankle. He was wearing short sleeves, so he got some nice road rash to commemorate the day. Luckily, I had slowed down enough to avoid running the guy over. I stopped and was shaking. It's usually the moto that gets smucked by the car, not the other way around!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Scott and I drove 20 minutes to the race start at Mont du Lac in Duluth for race #4 of the MNSCS series. The MN series races are the toughest races of a series. Really good climbing, technical singletrack. The race courses remind me some of the Norba's I did a few years ago. They are definitely races that will make someone a well-rounded racer. It was really hot, especially for Duluth standards. This was probably the second hottest day all year. Tough to acclimatize to all in one day for the locals, especially the expert men. It must have been around 90 degrees during the race by the time the race started at 1 pm. COGGS put on a great event. They sent us up to the top of the downhill from starting up the bottom and then looped us though to do the top half of the hill multiple times. The hill is steep in places - granny gear for some.

The women started with the men - which I like. It's good practice as it is pretty similar at Norba's racing with other pro women. The guy right in front of me broke his chain about three pedal strokes into the race. I was in pretty good position after the climb and into the singletrack. I got buggered up behind some men that didn't shift down enough to get up the steep ascent after a really bumpy and fast downhill. I had to run the next section until the flat. I caught back on and followed in the singletrack a group of guys that seemed to mostly have ski hut jerseys. It is really difficult to pass on the singletrack, so I had to wait a bit to pass. I got buy three or four guys and then finally caught up with Charlie and Todd, which I knew they must not be having a good day if I am passing them on an uphill. I tried to ride pretty steady each lap and the singletrack smooth.

Nicoli (Ski Hut) was right behind me going into my fourth lap up the long hill. At the end of last year he said to me, "Sara, my goal is to beat you". That is quite a compliment! I couldn't let him pass me without having to work really hard at it. I got into the singletrack ahead of him and could hear him back there from time to time for the first half of the lap, but didn't see him and had a nice gap before turning to finish. He still had another lap to go so who knows what would have happened had I had to do another lap. (Thankfully, the women do one less lap than the men). I drained an entire water bottle each lap - including what I poured on my head and my back.

Scott got 8th for the day. He rode the singletrack well, but the climb took it out of him. He just couldn't climb well. Maybe it was from all the brush-clearing back breaking work he did earlier this week to help a friend of ours out. He also drove the dr mower (not sure if that is the correct label) around the course the Tuesday night before the race to get the long grass mowed and the trail in race-ready shape. There were a quite a few volunteers helping out to build the new downhill to replace the really fast straight-shot downhill on the back of the course. The new downhill is full of turns, switchbacks, coupld bridges and even a little bit of uphill. Scott seems to think it adds on at least a minute to each lap. Each year the course gets better and better! Thanks to COGGS for hosting a great race and all the volunteers! There is talk of doing one big race that would be a huge loop from spirit mtn to mont du lac and back. It could be really epic, but most of all a spectacular race.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Scott and I headed to watch the Nature Valley Grand Prix last night. We drove down first to ride at Mammoth with Dan Swanson. Dan was trying to drop Scott and I for stretches at a time during the ride. It was so much fun! Duluth doesn't have much of nice windy fast singletrack due to all of our roots and rocks that will slow us down. Then we went to Jesse's and carpooled into downtown Mpls to meet Anne to watch the races!

The criterium was fantastic to watch. The women went first and were haulin. It was fun to watch them take tight turns. One gal went down on one of the last corners of the last lap. Luckily, no broken bones. The men were flying the last 20 minutes or so of their race. Their bikes were close to sideways going around the corners. We got to watch Doug race. We couldn't tell if he was tired or bored sitting at the back of the pack. As riders were getting blown off the back, he held on to the rear of the pack, but still in contact. The last 10 or so minutes he moved up quite a bit and said he wished he would have started to move up sooner in the race.

We got home today and are getting geared up for Mont du Lac MNSCS race tomorrow. Should be fun. It's supposed to be really hot. The course is in really good condition and is pretty challenging. It's on par with Maplelag and Spirit Mtn as far as technical difficulty and climbing. Scott installed a new screen door on the front of our house, where there previously was not one. Hopefully, it will help cool our house as summer is here (at least for the next few days or so).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This past weekend was fantastic! We got out of Duluth and sweltered on our drive up to Hougton. We couldn't believe how hot it was! After a pretty uneventful drive across northern WI and through the U.P., we checked into our hotel and rode for about an hour on the start of the course. Just long enough to get to where the singletrack on the course starts and ride a bit of that. I was still trying to get my suspension adjusted after riding the season thus far with it much too stiff.

We rode over to registration, this time at the MTU campus, we ran into the twins from Boulder, CO. Tony used to work at Trek, but made the move to Boulder and took a job with Pearl Zumi. The twins brought with them Kerry Barnholt - fast mountain and cyclocross biker and really nice gal as well. It was really nice to chat with her as she is a fellow Physical Therapist and Biker. I was a bit nervous to race against her as we have not done the same race since she was second behind Sue Haywood at the Chequamegon in 2004. We ran into her after that in Moab, UT of all places. It was really cool cuz they had this group of about 20 pro/expert women riding for the weekend and we got a chance to ride with them. It is really fun to ride with skilled and fast women MTBers! There are a few I know in Duluth, but not that many at that level. Super cool.

So the Keewenaw Chain Drive - 32 mile - race started at 10 am EST. I love early races and early Saturday races are even better! The start was a controlled start down downtown Houghton took a right hand turn across the bridge to Hancock and then a sharp right under the overpass and out to the cememtary. The cemetary has this long switchback paved uphill that lasts about 2 minutes and then it funnels into the singletrack. The singletrack is full of roots and rocks, but not nearly as abusive as Spirit Mtn for the most part. The course is two track and single track. Very Fun! Good benchcut and banked corners, tight single track in places and pretty unique riding. The bridges are wide enough. I just can't say enough good things about the course. The last 5 miles is kinda uphill, but not nearly as bad this year as I remember in years past. I felt kinda 'bonky' after about 40 minutes or so, but then started to come back around after a bit of refueling - I probably just waited too long. Kerry and I were riding side by side down main street and just before the start of the two track. I got in a group of guys and stayed in their draft. I stayed ahead of her on the cemetary climb, but then didn't see her again after that. I could hear her from time to time during the start of the singletrack, but never made contact again. I get nervous riding against really good riders, and I knew I would have to go really hard. Luckily, there were no mechanicals and I was able to hold her off and take the win. I lost the men's lead group early on this year, so my overall finish amonst the men was not as high, but my time was faster than last year's. Scott held it together to take 4th. Great conditions, Great race, Great town, and kudos to the race organizers - they do a great job!

Our original plan on Sunday was to head down to the Wors Phillips race. After much contemplation and humming and hawwing we decided to check out some new singletrack up in Calumet instead. Fantastic post race day singletrack! Nice and smooth singletrack that isn't too tight. Basically, a giggle ride. We rode 2.5 hrs and barely rode part of the trail twice. The conditions were perfect - not too hot and the company (Scott) even better! We are already trying to plan a trip back to the Keewenaw just to ride. We are told there are more trails to ride in Copper Harbor and a race this year both in Calumet and Copper Harbor.

It was nice to meet a few people at the race that read this blog. THANK YOU!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

This week of training was better than the last. Last week I had to take three days off - not sure when I have done that last. I felt pretty bad in the race at Wausau so the resting didn't help. We have a new Dr. in town, Dr. Greg. He bought Northland Health and Wellness. He is really fired up to work with athletes. He had us ride our bikes to the clinic and then test us for which energy products would work for us the best during training and racing. Pretty cool stuff. He's got some great ideas. He has worked with Jeff Spencer (Lance Armstrong's personal Dr. that Lance would fly to accompany him during the Tour de France every year). Scott and I are a bit 'tanked' already only after a few races, so Dr. Greg is helping us get back on track. Scott and I often wonder what would happen with our racing if we could just stay healthy and energentic all season long. I have not raced as much as I would like these past few years due to low energy problems - I just have taken more time between races to recover.

We are still in the process of building some nice singletrack. At Spirit Mtn, while riding yesterday, we noticed someone did a nice re-route around this short steep grindy uphill - very few people can ride up. Then we can upon a downhillers jump that they built on our trail - so Scott nicely moved it so someone wouldn't get hurt if they accidentally hit it while riding the trails.

I was thinking of racing Afton until I started not feeling very well. Looks like they will have to have fun riding without me.

Better run. Got bike work to do and then a ride!

Monday, June 04, 2007

I was muddy from head to toe. I couldn't see out of my sunglasses after the second lap. I finally pulled them down to the bridge of my nose so I could see, but still protect my contacts. Mudd spray was flying off the bikes in front of me. On the third lap the rain started to come down converting the trail into a slick muddfest. The middle of the course was full of thick mudd. The grass was matted down from riders trying to find grip. The women's race started fifteen seconds behind the men. I was trying to catch the lead men's pack - bad idea - and looked back to only see Anne G. behind me. I let up a bit after realizing there is no way I would catch the men - and their draft. At the top of the first significant uphill, I was along to try and chase down the elite men in front of me. I keep picking off men and joining groups for a while. I felt pretty slow from the start all things considered. I just couldn't push on the flats, but the uphills felt fine and I could make myself push pretty hard. During the first lap I passed Brad and Todd from Team Ski Hut - Todd was carrying his seat post that had broken during the first few miles. He went on to finish the race with no seat. Imagine, standing for 2 plus hours riding, only using the big ring. The second lap I passed Charlie - from Team Ski Hut. He was laughing about needing to let out air from his tires - he had put 40 and 50 lbs of air in before the start. I crashed really hard while trying to lap a rider during the third lap. I had not pulled my glasses down yet and thought the large rock I was going over was flat. Evidently the thing was like hitting a wall. I landed hard right on top of the thing. I got up fast, but my left shin and knee caps hurt so bad I could barely spin my pedals. Charlie passed me back laughing. I lost my group as well. Then I was really crabby after that. I felt like I was just riding for a while and stopped racing. I hate going slow and I felt slow. My legs really hurt from the fall. If felt like I had a flap of skin hanging down my leg. When I got done, I was just badly bruised. The third and especially fourth laps felt like I was riding in the snow - the mudd was that deep. I kinda giggled to myself cuz I love riding in snow. If I had not crashed earlier, I probably would have enjoyed it even more. Four ten mile loops around nine mile forest. A little bit of singletrack - a lot of two track. I was thankful and relieved to see the finish line.