Sunday, July 19, 2015

The DNF of Crabbiness

To help you fully appreciate my recent DNF at Tatanka100 (or Tatanka75ish to be more precise), I need to supply a timeline of the month or so prior to the race.

Saturday/Sunday, June 13-14- Race 25 Hours of Hellside to culminate the DirtWirx bike week. Sleep 0 hours from about 7am Saturday to 10pm Sunday (except for some sort of nap Big E says I took in the car on the way home.

Tuesday, June 16- Ride for an hour with legs so swollen I could barely bend my knees. Get a massage. Eat. Work. Come home from work so grouchy all I could do was drink whiskey.

Thursday June 18- Eat. Drive 9 hours to MI with compression tights on, eating all the way. Stay awake all day, thankfully. Ride for an hour and actually feel good. Nearly fall asleep at the table while out with friends.

Saturday, June 20. Race Lumberjack 100. Drink whiskey and eat 1/2 a bag of chips.

Sunday, June 21. Eat the largest breakfast of my life. Drive 9 hours home. Search every gas station in the UP for more of the chips from the night before.

Monday, June 22- Friday June 26. Eat. Sleep. Work. Maybe ride a couple times. Maybe?

Saturday, June 27- Attempt to show off for Big E while riding and launch myself over my handlebars.

Sunday, June 28- Whine all day about my sore arm.

Monday, June 29- Ride on the road with my shock unlocked because bumps hurt my arm.

Tuesday, June 30- Panic about what gear to ride at Tatanka. Stalk Ben from Mountain Bike Radio on Facebook and ask for advice. 32-21 it is.

Ride the rest of the week with 34-20 on my bike....on the road with my shock open.

Saturday, July 4- Tape up my arm and brave the trails, still with 34-20 on my bike.

Sunday, July 5- Decide I should probably actually ride with 32-21 on my bike for a few days.

Stress about the race for the next few days.

Wednesday, July 8- Panic about the water crossings on the course and email the race director.  Receive confirmation that I likely won't die in waist-deep moving water.

Thursday, July 9- Find 20 other reasons to panic. Swap my tires from Thunder Burts to Rocket Rons (that extra few millimeters might help) to calm my nerves. In the process, discover I hadn't put my rear cog on tight. Pinch flat my front. Beg Big E to give my bike an inspection before I leave.

Friday, July 10- Drive 9 1/2 hours to South Dakota with high blood pressure from anxiety. Ride for 30 minutes and panic about my crappy new front brake pads. Search for the packet pick-up. Hear one word and one word only during the pre-race meeting- "enduro-style". Ask someone to explain what this enduro-style stuff is. Panic about the answer. Consider not starting.

Saturday, July 11- Start, but only because the awesome Doc Whitney, who saved me from dehydration at Hellside, dropped us at the start and promised she would pick me up if I panicked about the "enduro-style" downhill, my brakes or the water crossing. Arrive at the trailhead, after 3 miles of downhill on the road, in last place, with my own police escort. Carry my bike for 1/2 of the first 11 miles. (Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating...) Come across a guy on flat #4, give him my spare because I'm pretty sure I won't make it past the first cutoff and attempt to help him put a tire on a deep rim, which really just leads to me humping his wheel. Arrive at aid station #1, 15 miles in, in over 3 hours, to a volunteer who made it clear she needed to leave so she could go do the timing. Get pissed off, ride a few miles down the road and call Whitney. 

There you have it- the mindset of a DNF due to crabbiness. I'll admit, I tried to blame it on the race at the time, but in hindsight it's clear I pretty much DNF'd before I left home. I was tired and burnt out and spent only a few hours on actual single track in the 3 weeks before the race. Not a good lead-up to a 100 miler that turned out to be 75 miles of the most technical singletrack I've ever seen. Perhaps I should space my races out a little more? Or quit showing off for Big E? Or suck it up and learn to ride more technical terrain? Or ride a little with the gear and tires I plan to use in the race? Or deal with my pre-race anxiety?

Or I could just eat more ice cream and drink buckets of margaritas at Kenny Chesney concerts.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


At some point, back in the winter, it seemed like a great idea to sign up to race Lumberjack 100 a week after the 25 Hours of Hellside. What can I say?  One race on my favorite local trail, the other near my favorite place on earth. I couldn't choose.  So, I was left trying to figure out how to get my legs to recover in five days.

Let's just say, I wore my compression tights so much, one of my clients is now referring to them as my "tight black pants".

Thankfully, by the time I arrived in Petoskey (that favorite place on earth, which was on the way to Lumberjack) on Thursday (after wearing compression tights most of the way there in the car) I was actually itching to ride. Of course, that was probably because I knew my ride would take me here:
A few drinks with old friends, topped off with a late night rummage through old Playboys
(of course the Playboy from my birthday month and year would have a bike on it) completed my recovery.

I topped it off with a final Friday ride in Petoskey, during which I, of course, got lost at Boyne Highlands like I always do.

I swear someone changes the trails at that place before I come to visit.

Saturday morning I lined up, pretty stoked to ride 100 miles. After a quick prologue down the road, in which I'm pretty sure my heartrate reached its max while I tried to keep up with those with gears, we entered the singletrack and then promptly came to a near standstill.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike waiting in line to ride my bike during a race?

While I practiced my trackstands, the guys behind me for some reason decided that, despite the fact that I was also stuck behind 100 other people moving the same 1mph I was, they should ride off the trail to pass me and then cut back in in the small space I'd left between myself and the bike in front of me.

Unfortunately, I'd removed the douchebag bell from my bike after Hellside so instead of bell-ringing, I had to resort to sarcasm and public shaming these idiots. 

Based on how quickly this douchebag behavior stopped, I think I'll stick with this tactic from now on.

Also unfortunately, my body was not fond of this whole, sprint, wait in line, sprint up a hill, wait in line, sprint up another hill thing that was happening so I ended up feeling like poop for the first hour of the race.

Thankfully for me though, after a two hour argument between my body and mind, my body realized that my mind wasn't going to quit and suddenly I felt pretty darn good for the next eight hours, four minutes and 59 seconds.

Yes, in case you were wondering, I sprinted the last few miles to keep it to 10:04:59, and yes, I would've loved to have kept it under 10 hours, but in order to do that I need to figure out how to avoid the four pee breaks I took. 

While our podium picture looks as if only two of us raced singlespeed and I was last place, I can assure you there were more than two. I promise. We just happened to ride so fast everyone else dropped out. At least that's how I like to think of it....

I even finished in time to head back to Petoskey that night for some more good friend time, complete with whiskey, ginger ale, spicy potatoes chips and a Sunday morning breakfast with more grease than I normally eat in a week.

How's that for the start of some good recovery?

Of course, my recovery also needed to include some riding so I ventured out on the weekend with Big E. Confident from my few weeks of podiums, I thought I'd show off my jumping skills for him.

Let's just say I put on a show, but it wasn't the really the show I'd intended to put on.
I do believe that, although I didn't impress him with my jumping skills, I may have impressed him with my ability to biff it so hard I ended up with leaves and grass between my tire and rim.
I guess I'll be recovering from a bit more than Lumberjack before Tatanka next week. 

Anybody got any ice cream?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Chipotle and 25 Hours of Hell(side)

We were told at the beginning of Dirt Wirx Bike Week that by the end we'd hate Richie and the crew. It's hard to hate a crew that puts so much into their trail and races, but then, Hillside is one hell of a hard trail, so I knew anything was possible. Plus, you never know when this crew might make you try to ride up the stairs instead of down, chug a beer for a time bonus or carry a log for your Le Mans start.

The set up for bike week was this: Time Trial and Short Track Saturday 6/6, Cross Country Race 6/7, Dual Slalom on the evening of 6/10 and 25 Hours of Hellside on 6/13 and 6/14.

To be honest, I started out just wanting to race the 25 Hour race, but then I got excited and wanted to try for the overall win for the week. This meant a lot of firsts. I'd never done short track or dual slalom. I'd never raced expert in cross country, which I needed to do to win the week. Technically, I'd also never ridden singletrack for 25 hours, although I guess 24 is pretty close.  So, I prepared myself to spent the week nervous and hoping not to crash.

Saturday, June 6, 11am: Time Trial, one of my favorite kinds of races. Didn't hate Richie.

Saturday, June 6, 4pm: Discovered the expert women had to race the short track with comp men. Thought about hating Richie.  Tried not to throw up on the start line. Thankfully didn't get run over and actually had fun once I could breathe. Decided not to hate Richie, especially after he raced the expert men's race like this:
Sunday, June 7: Cross Country Race. Again, terrified at the start. I'm not a fan of starting in front of the comp men. I don't like to be run over. My douchebag bell was installed on my bike, just in case someone tried to pass like a moron. Thankfully, I never needed it and once I relaxed I actually had a blast.
Photo by Joshua Stamper
No hating on anyone.

After the race we celebrated Big E's birthday. Fun times with lots of fun people. It started like this:
 and ended like this:

Enough said.

Wednesday, June 10: I was so nervous I showed up hours early for the Dual Slalom. Numerous practice runs didn't calm my nerves. Pretty sure my heart rate hit its max on the start line. Didn't crash so I didn't hate Richie, but I'm not admitting it was fun.

Saturday, June 13: The 25 Hour Race, my favorite. I was in second place overall for the week, 34 points down. Points for this race were by lap instead of place. For each lap you completed, you received that many points- 1 point for lap one, 2 points for lap two, three for lap 3, etc.  So, I needed to ride three more laps than the leader, Rebecca, to win the week. A tall task since she'd ridden nearly 10 minutes faster per lap in the cross country race. Lucky for me, she wasn't going to ride at night.

The first five laps flew by. I stopped only to pee, taking bottle hand-ups from Eddie and Joshua, who were riding a four-man team with Richie and the other race director, Dave. After a quick stop at lap five, I managed three more laps before dark, with a brief stop for ice cream and the Super Sue station, at which point I found it necessary to down nearly an entire pint of butter pecan in minutes. (Tasted great at the time, but let's just say it's a good thing no one was riding behind me later.)

 I checked in with Dave after lap eight and learned I had a one lap lead over both Rebecca and Pam, who both appeared to have gone to bed. I switched to the fat bike and kept pushing, hoping to have a five lap lead when they woke up. I figured they both would start lapping me in the morning and I didn't want to leave anything to chance. The first two laps in the dark weren't too bad, despite one too-close encounter with a tree. Lap three, however, brought on what I've decided is the inevitable meltdown that happens in these races. I stumbled in around 1:30, put on my PJs and laid down for what I've also decided is the inevitable "roll around and not fall asleep" that happens in these races.

Two hours later, sleepless, I got back on the bike. As I finished lap 12 the sun came up and as I pulled into the camping area Rebecca was preparing to ride. I grabbed some coffee and prepared myself to get lapped. I just hoped it would only be twice. At the end of lap 14, I was still hanging onto my lead and stopped for food confident that I'd be off riding again in five minutes.

Let's just say a colossal meltdown ensued. The kind where you wonder if you can stand up, let alone pedal. I inhaled some Chipotle, downed some Dr. Pepper and instantly felt dizzy. For about 20 minutes I thought my race was over. Of course, Big E managed to capture the moment on film:

 Thankfully, putting my legs up and chugging some water brought me back to life and I somehow got back on the bike. Of course, by then, Rebecca had gained a lap and was still riding strong. 

The next three laps are a blur. I held on and pedaled. Pam flew by like we were racing just two laps. I drank water, and then more water, praying to hold off another meltdown. Finally, on lap 17, with less than an hour left, I could hear Rebecca ahead of me in section four. We'd both reached an exhausted state, pushing our bikes up the steepest hills. We rode the rest of the lap together, rolling across the line agreeing to call it quits with a four lap difference between us. If she'd chosen to ride another, I would've, but I'll admit, I probably would've hated someone if I'd had to. In the end, I hated section four, but still couldn't hate Richie.

Thanks to the Dirt Wirx crew and Dave Slovik for an awesome race and to Rebecca Sauber for pushing me harder than ever. Now I have to figure out how to recover for Lumberjack 100 on Saturday. This could involve ice cream.....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today's Workout Brought to You by

wind, rain, (no)sense of direction and hairspray.

This is sort of how the last few days have been.  Saturday I escaped the rain and actually got in a few hours on the trail. I even survived driving Lil' Dave's car after my workout despite needing to do some serious seat adjustments.
No, I am not sitting on the floor.
Sunday was a different story. I headed to Murphy hoping to ride the trail, only to arrive just as the gate was closed. I decided to do a road ride from there, knowing I'd lose my motivation if I drove all the way home in the rain. I planned to start the week off with an easy 1 1/2 to 2 hour ride so I stuck a single bottle on my bike and some Chomps in my pocket. At the last minute I stashed a 20 in my pocket (just in case I ran out of water and found a gas station) and headed out.

I don't really mind rain if I'm warm enough so the ride went by quickly- so quickly in fact that by 1:30 in I came to a road I recognized and thought I was nearly done. Just a right turn and I'd be headed back to the car. Thirty minutes later I wasn't back at the car. Confused, I finally consulted the map on my phone, at which point I discovered I'd been riding straight south when I'd thought I was riding straight north. Thankfully, I'd finally stopped because I was almost in Iowa, which meant I needed to turn around.

My only excuse for this complete and utter lack of direction is the wind. I was sure it was from the west. Turns out, it was coming from the east and of course, I was not only just south of my car, but west of it, which made for quite a fun ride back. I arrived back to the car 3 hours and 30 minutes later with an empty bottle, an empty Chomps wrapper and my 20 bucks. Apparently there are no gas stations on the back roads to Iowa. Or drinking fountains.

The upside to Sunday's ride and bonk was that yesterday's ride was only an hour and a half. The trails were still too wet to ride, but I lucked out and had a work break right as the rain stopped but before the Memorial Day partiers hit the roads, allowing me a rare city ride without traffic.

The pouring rain returned today, which meant that my mid-day hair appointment would be followed by a run in the rain. Normally I'm a "leave my hair wet" kind of girl so I figured this would be no big deal. I don't own a curling iron or hairspray. However, on the rare occasion when someone cuts my thin, straight hair and is actually excited to try to do something with it, I say yes. So, I ended up leaving the hair salon like this:
I had to take a picture for Big E so he knows it's actually possible for me to have decent hair.
just as I was preparing to go run in the rain.

Since I haven't used hairspray since 1988, I had no idea what would happen when it mixed with the rain. Let's just say this- my ponytail ended up becoming a whole-head dreadlock. I managed to comb it out after about 15 minutes and throw it back into my usual wet ponytail just as my next client arrived. I guess I'm just destined to be a ponytail kind of girl. At least I had an hour of good hair.

Despite Big E's encouragement that training in crappy weather is good for me, I'm looking forward to some drier days. I want my trails back. I'll trade the hairspray for bugspray any day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Training Brain (aka How to Lose Your Bra)

Remember those old ads- "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs."? Well, I'm pretty sure they could make one that said, "This is your brain. This is your brain on 15+hours of training a week," and it would be quite amusing.

When I read stories about people who work, train over 15 hours a week and raise children, I'm always amazed because, quite frankly, once the training amps up I can barely take care of myself.  Case in point- it's 11pm and I'm still doing laundry. Two workouts a day has drained the supply of workout gear. I'm not sure the washing machine is going to be able to keep up with this and my never ending pile of massage sheets.
(Yes, Big E is building a wheel behind my wall of wet laundry. Thankfully, this time he's actually working on his own bike at 11pm instead of trying to rescue one of my bike disasters.)

On weeks and days like this I adopt an "in the moment" plan. Basically, this means I go with the flow and focus on what's happening right at the moment so I don't get overwhelmed.  I think about work when I'm working, training when I'm training, eating when I'm eating...and then I pass out and dream about riding with Valentino Rossi. I call this "training brain", which is basically just my term for a brain that can't handle anything more.

Today was one of those days. I babbled some sort of nonsense at Big E when he left early, got up shortly after, ate, prepped food for the day, threw my bike and gear in the car and headed for the office. During my break between morning and evening clients, I jumped at the chance to finally ride some trail after a few days of rain. I headed to Elm Creek and whipped out my usual "stealth change" in the parking lot.

The "stealth change" is my version of getting naked in the car without really getting naked in the car. I prefer not going to jail for public nudity so I've figured out a method to change in which no one would actually see my breasts. This involves putting my sports bra on over my work bra and then slithering out of the work bra and pulling it down my legs and off my feet.

Today, in my training fog, I apparently completed half of my stealth change. I remember the point where I put one bra over the other and then I went through the motions. At some point there was the application of chamois butter, tire pressure fiddling and then I was off onto the trail. Nothing seemed off at the time. In fact, everything seemed completely normal until I returned to the car for a new water bottle and found a bra.

At first, I laughed at the prospect of someone having a little fun in the parking lot and losing her bra. Of course, a moment later I realized that was MY bra and I hadn't had a little fun in the parking lot. In fact, I don't really even know what the hell happened. Apparently in my training fog, I stepped out of the car with my bra still around my ankles. Or perhaps in my training fog, I realized I don't really need a bra and tossed her out the window.  I was so shocked to find it there, I actually checked all the windows to make sure someone hadn't broken into my car and left my bra behind (because, really, who else would even bother to wear a bra this small?), but that was not the case.

Thankfully, the rogue bra was rescued, since I needed it to go back to work. (OK, I could've probably pulled it off without a bra but I like to think I need one.) Now, let's just hope I can keep training brain in check long enough get all my clothes on (and completely off) for the rest of this week's workouts.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

True Confessions

True confession #1: I always bawl my eyes out at some point after a particularly hard or long race. I'm not sure when this whole post race syndrome began. My first memorable experience with it was the day after Alexander when I sat on Big E's lap before I left for work and cried my heart out. I had no idea what was happening and I'm not 100 percent sure, but I believe it was then that he explained what it meant to be "shelled".  Usually this whole post race meltdown happens in the first few days after a race, but for some reason this time it was delayed. I'm blaming the 13 hour solo drive the day after the race. I really wanted to melt down, but it seemed dangerous to bawl while driving. Plus, meltdowns are boring without Big E there to make fun of me so I held out until I got home. Somehow I then held out for two weeks, which, based on yesterday's colossal and ride-delaying meltdown followed by another near-miss this morning, wasn't the best idea.

Note to self- just meltdown as close to the race as possible from now on and get it over with.

True confession #2: I finally rebuilt some pedals with the build kit I bought after Alexander two years ago. You'd think after having my pedal fall off my bike in a race I'd want to fix those things up right away. Oh no. I bought a build kit right away, then spent two years swapping the pedals from my cross bike to my fat bike instead of fixing the old ones. Then, after selling the cross bike and buying different pedals for the fat bike, I lost motivation to fix those Candy pedals. Thankfully, the same build kit works for my Eggbeaters so, as part of my quest to take better care of my bike after riding with crappy brakes and a loose headset at Cohutta, I finally rebuilt the squeaky pedals on my bike.

In case you were wondering- yes, rebuilding the pedals makes a difference. Suddenly I can pedal in circles again.

Of course there's still a set of unusable Candy pedals in the basement.
True confession #3: Yesterday while riding I ate the deformed, once melted Snickers bar I carried for 100 miles at Cohutta. Today, while sitting on the couch, I ate the battered Peanut Butter M&M's from one of my drop bags.

I really need to go grocery shopping.

True confession #4: It took me three years to finally conquer my nemesis, the wooden berm at Whitetail Ridge. I'm not at all saying I ride it confidently yet, but after forcing myself to ride it six times in one day, I think maybe there might come a day sometime soon where I don't stress about that stupid berm for the entire lap before I get to it. That said, I'm just hoping there's never a cow standing on it when I arrive there because then I'll probably be back to square one....

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cohutta 100- The Epilogue

After collecting my mug, I procrastinated moving from my comfy finish-line chair by chatting with the race director (at least I hope that was him who sat down next to me because if not, I had a long discussion with a random man about how I liked the course despite the bad gear choice). As soon as I could move, my main object was mud removal- from the bike, from my body, from my clothes. I settled for dipping my legs in the water and splashing around, which really just moved the mud around on my body. Truth be told, I didn't really care if I was completely clean- I just needed to be clean enough to convince someone to let me book a hotel room for the night.

Cleaning the bike enough to put it back in the car proved to be more challenging, at least in my zombie-like state. I learned there was a hose in a campground a mile away, but I was too lame to ride there. After a half-hearted attempt to pay someone to ride my bike there and clean it, and a stern warning from another rider that it would be terrible for my bearings to toss by bike in the river, I settled for rinsing Chili down with a water bottle and river water. When she was clean enough to travel, I drove her to the hose for a more thorough bath. (In hindsight that was all probably a lot more work than just riding the mile to the hose....)

Since I still had daylight and no hotel room, I decided to start the trek homeward. When a sheriff in a small town a couple hours later went out of his way to inform me of an impending storm, I drove to the nearest place with a nice hotel and called it a night. Yes, I see the irony in waiting until AFTER I was covered in mud to finally stay in a nice hotel, but then I probably wouldn't have splurged even then had I not still been worried about diseases from the hotel the night before.  Of course the entire room was white so I tried not to touch anything until after my shower, at which point I then had to clean the entire bathroom. Thankfully, I passed out quickly with no interruptions from fire alarms and no nightmares about cockroaches. (Unfortunately no Rossi dreams either.)

The 900 miles left to drive on Sunday actually went by fast. I've always said I learn more from my rough races than the easy ones, and the 13 hours in the car was my time to process the whole experience. Obviously, there was lingering frustration with myself. It's always tough to stomach a rough race when you realize it was made difficult primarily by your own silly choices like the wrong gear, too much tire pressure and a backpack the size of yourself. (No wonder some guy asked if I had a hair dryer in there.)
This is just what I took out when I got home. It doesn't include the phone, 2 King Size Snickers, 2 King Size Salted Nut Rolls, 2 pieces of pizza, GU and salt tabs I started with. It also doesn't include the raincoat, vest, winter hat and gloves I added after a few hours. Oh- and the 100 oz. of water...     

I have no idea why I found it necessary to carry the instructions for my hydration pack for 100 miles. That said, let's just say, my ride home included a little introspection about choices. (And perhaps some acceptance of the fact that I should actually listen to Big E when he talks to me about tire pressure.) However, in the end, I also learned that I can tough it out for a lot more miles than I thought possible. The way I see it- if I can suffer through 100 miles with those bad choices, the next 100 ought to be easy...