Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who Says?

Who says I can't be free of all of the things that I used to be?
Rewrite my history?
Who says I can't be free?
                        -John Mayer

The first time I heard this song, it pretty much grabbed me by the arms, spun me around and shook me to the core. Who says? Who? Who says I can't be free?

Who says I must be always on track and never wander?

Who says I must constantly struggle for the legal tender? (love you, Jackson Browne)

Who says I must be defined by what I do to earn money?

Who says I must always have an answer?

Who says I have to succumb to the system?

Who says I can't thrive where I am with what I have?

Who says I must keep a hold of all the clutter and things that do not serve me?

Who says I cannot let go of doubt?

Who says I must stay in one place because it is familiar and convenient?

Who says I am flawed?

I have been saying these things to myself for too long. Now is the time for that voice to be silent. The place where perceived expectations and negative chatter stop is the very place where authentic life begins. The "sound" of real life is beginning to fill my ears. No longer obligated to "hear," my mind welcomes the clarity and nourishment of silence...

Friday, October 21, 2011


Goodbye, my old friend. You lived one hell of a life. Many miles, many steers, 
many left turns. I have cussed your grumpy ass and kissed your sweaty face. 
You carried me through middle school and high school and I have never given my 
heart to any horse before or since. You helped make me the person I am and the
cowgirl I will always be no matter where life takes me. Part of my heart went with
you, buddy. I love you. 

Me and Page, John Day, OR

Coos Bay, OR....First time ever riding on the beach

Goodbye, My Old Friend

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2011 24 Hours of Moab Race Report

Moab, UT. 2010.

My first 24 Hour Race. Second mountain bike race ever. Ten months into my new obsession with bikes, I stood in my baggy shorts, plain tank top, elbow pads and  full Camelbak among 300 or so other racers to run around the most famous juniper tree in mountain bike racing. I was like a kid in a candy store, excited, nervous and basically giddy. I was pumped to give this first lap everything I had. I was scared of “babyhead hill” at mile ten (hence the elbow pads) and didn’t trust my ability to make it down with a great deal of speed, but I was game to give it a try. Being on a four-person team I rode my heart out on each lap. Everything ounce of energy and effort I had was left out “Behind The Rocks” and the best I could muster was a 1:31. I had never seen the quality of bikes and racers before. I watched guys come in consistently under an hour on each of their laps. It was like a whole new world had opened up to me. I was a little “starstruck” as I watched Jari Kirkland stand atop the podium after destroying the course and putting up 15 laps to take the women’s solo. I was in awe. I turned to one of my teammates, Chris, as we were leaving Moab and I said, “Next year, I am going to solo Moab.”

Moab, UT 2011.

365 days later, I was standing in the same spot wearing Trek Store bibs and jersey. Elbow pads gone, no Camelbak. No team. I was here alone to ride for 24 hours. I wasn’t worried about killing the run or even the first lap. I jogged around the tree in the middle of the pack and eased up the road. I hung back to avoid all the riders eating it on the first rocky section and mosied my way up and down everything before the “Nose Dive.” The course conditions were absolutely the best anyone could dream up. The rain had stopped at about 9 that morning and there was no dust anywhere at anytime during the race. The sand was hard-packed and stupid fast. I remembered the lines through the rocks and was able to ride them with confidence unlike last year. I don’t think I even broke a sweat on my first lap except for maybe the last three miles of road where I grabbed a big gear and tore into the log tent (because, really. I am and always will be a 10 year-old at heart and being a super speed racer is why we all ride….right?).

WIIIIIIIDE ANGLE picture trying to stay warm just before the run

Just as I approached the tent, I heard someone yell, “Yeah, second female in!” My lap time was 1:26. Ha. I had to smile a little to think that I totally eased through that lap and it was 5 minutes faster than my redline effort a year ago. 

A lot can happen in a year. 

I stopped quickly at my elaborate pit (aka my Mountain Hardware backpacking tent), grabbed some water, a GU Gel and chain lube. After two more laps, I put on my lights and made sure I had enough battery/light combos to get me through the long night that was coming. I knew I was leading the field of women, but I wanted to widen the gap and I had set a goal of 13 laps before the race. The air was starting to get cold and my fingers were freezing from the descents. I put on heavy gloves and kept pedaling.

Light and battery management as well as food and hydration took up about 5-10 minutes between each night lap. The temperature was dropping and my new friends camped beside me had a perfect and alluring campfire which I sat by while trying to choke down food that no longer appealed to me. It is a scientific fact that campfire minutes go by much more quickly than regular minutes, and before I knew it 17-20 minutes of real time had passed. And this became the trend for all my night laps even after my new friends left for their hotel in Moab.

As I think back, I wonder if I would have sat so long warming my feet if I hadn’t of been up almost a full lap? Having a big lead gave me some comfort and the colder it got, the more my 13 lap goal was in jeopardy. I was turning in consistent night lap times, but they were far slower than I had intended. At almost the exact same (mile 13) as last year, ironically enough, my headlamp failed and I wasn’t running a handlebar light on that lap. The moon was huge and bright so I would have made it in fine, but I was lucky enough that a woman came along shortly after and was nice enough to let me grab her wheel and pirate some lumens.

I was unable to eat much after about 2AM. Nothing looked even remotely appealing except GU. I think I took two bites of some kind of bar and set it down. I was battling the sleep monster as my eyes were starting to droop. My 4AM lap was the hardest lap of the race. It was (I think) harder than anything on the CTR also. I (and every other female I encountered and talked to on the course) had not felt any feeling in our toes since about midnight and there was literally frost on my handlebars. Before mile 1 there are rubber mats just below a descent that provide a way across a nasty, sandy wash. I hit these at about 4:03AM and crashed HARD. My tires went 25 different directions when they hit the slippery frost that had accumulated on the mats. GROAN. My knee and the right side of my face took the full force of that crash and I wanted to cuss. But I got up, fully prepared to fight and win this battle, and walked it off. I yelled up to another rider who would have gone down on the mats as soon as I had gotten back on my bike. We both went on and once we were a  little ways past, I heard someone yell “SONUVA” from behind me. Mats 2. Riders 1.

I pushed on and began to slowly walk some of the hills between mile 2 and 3. I felt groggy, fuzzy and sleepy. I could have curled up in a bed of rocks and been asleep in a second. The sleep monster was in my face and I kept fumbling to draw my sword and slay him. I was a little unaware of life going on around me as I just plodded along trying to stay awake.

After the Nose-Dive when the pace significantly increases, I felt better and finished out the lap. I stopped at my tent for about 30 seconds, slammed some caffeine and headed out for another lap. I knew the sun was coming to greet me in less than a half an hour. Yummy sunshine. The snow covered LaSalles teemed in the early dawn. My crazy, beautiful life has given my eyes some astonishing and dreamlike views and this was certainly one of them. I knew I was 2 or 3 laps ahead and could easily be in my warm and wonderful down bag in my tent, but the moment I experienced in the fresh sunlight on my bike is one for the memory banks that I will be able to relive for a long, long time.

I completed my tenth lap and everyone was cheering and going crazy at the log tent. I was up by over 3 laps and people were yelling and offering me shots and beers.  All the drowsiness and fatigue from two laps ago was gone, the glorious sun was shining and I knew I could do two more laps to get closer to my personal goal of 13. As it ended up, I finished my 11th lap and threw my timing chip in the air to celebrate my victory. My last lap in the new morning sun was something like 15 minutes faster than the previous one…ah, the mind game involved in racing. Indeed a crucial aspect to I had just proved to myself for the one-millionth time.

I caught a nap in my tent while I waited for the awards which started around 2:30. Flowers, a little bit of coin and a new Camelbak were the material fruits of my labor. I stepped down from the podium honored to have stood where some of my heroes had stood in years past. The dwindling numbers led to not so fierce competition in the women’s solo class, so dumb luck played a part in my ability to take the top spot. But I will take it, cherish it and use this race as a huge learning experience and confidence builder.

I CAN do this. I CAN solo without elaborate support. Negativity has no power over a heart like mine and a desire so intense. SO:

F the Naysayers!

I came along way on my bike in 2011. I went big right out of the gate. I tripped and fell a few times, let the bruises heal and got back up to accomplish and win some pretty cool stuff. I need to step up a level next season though. I have big goals to chase and an upcoming winter to work my tail off to help make them a reality. 

Oh, and speaking of the winter, I can't wait to start rollin' FATtire &  SINGLE speed  in the snow...

Lots of reflecting. My thoughts coming soon...Maybe some CX here soon too...Zuni ride is out though...Bummer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2011 24 Hour Nationals Race Report

I rolled into Colorado Springs this past Saturday with virtually no nerves. My partner, Erick, agreed to take the first lap in our third coed duo effort this season.  The start line is always a gut-wrenching experience for me and since I wasn’t toeing the line to run through the grass, I felt pretty calm. I had been on the course a few times and was feeling comfortable with it.  Now racing with the guys from the Trek Bicycle Store, we were camped next to them and I was ready to put some miles on a new kit.

Erick absolutely smoked the first lap. It was the fastest he has ridden all year—a truly impressive 1:04 started us out. 

I clocked a slower than expected time--a sloppy 1:14 for my first lap. 

(There is no pictorial evidence in my possession that I was ever on a bike at all this past imagine a photo HERE)

We alternated laps until the sun came up the next morning. I was lucky enough to get both the sunset and sunrise lap. Other than the two gigantic chickens that danced around clucking and flapping their wings in front of me somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, the major highlight was the “purple mountain majesty” glowing off Pike’s Peak at sunrise. It made me almost forget about the fact that you can buy a double cheeseburger at the top in the gift shop. Almost.

The turnout for the coed duo was disappointingly low. Only four teams made up the category. The race officials did not update any lap times during the night but Cameron Brennemen threw down his first three laps each in under 1 hour. Smokin’!! Nina Baum was riding strong at 5-10 minutes faster than me. She caught and passed me somewhere in the night and we rode together for a bit laughing and joking at how we were only seeing women out on the course. I love meeting new and inspiring people who have accomplished a great deal on a bike. I respect them a great deal and receiving encouragement always means a lot and keeps me going on tough days when I question whether or not I have the talent to be out here. So for this, thanks Nina! These are three things I have been shooting for since last October when this whole dream started:

"Strong, relaxed and positive on a middle-of-the-night lap. That's the way to be." :-)

The third place team was riding townies and at 9AM when times were posted, we were a full four laps ahead of the townie team and a full four laps behind Cameron and Nina. Double checking with a USAC official (who manually pulled times for us), showed that to lose the silver medal, the townie team had to put up 4 laps in three hours with their fastest lap being 1:40 and their most recent 3:29.

The podium was mathematically set and that was it for me. Riding another lap was not going to change the overall results in anyway and it was time to save my legs and be wise. Erick chilled out and rested for a while and then decided to ride his 9th lap to commemorate and celebrate the end of a great season of racing for him. It was an honor to stand on the podium three out of three times this year with a great person and partner!

Two other friends, Michael Scott and Jeremy Young took silver in the male duo category. They were consistent, fast and strong throughout. Wow, guys! Awesome work! I was really happy to watch another Trek Store racer, Jonathan Davis, stand on the men's solo podium. Congrats!

And because everyone seems to have a small world story, I will add mine to the mix. I ran into my childhood friend from back in John Day, OR who was there running support for her husband and his first podium at Nationals in the solo male division. I am so stoked for you, Jennifer and Nate!!! Huge congrats!  The power, speed and unrelenting effort I see in these guys as they blow by me on the trail is incredible and very inspiring.

I have the utmost appreciation for the support I received from the Trek Store Team. I respect the talent and dedication I saw in these guys. The bar is set high and the structure within the team exists to help lift them to the next level. It was an extremely positive and encouraging atmosphere and the enthusiasm from their families and friends was awesome to see.

So yeah, 24 Hours Nats is in the books for 2011. I learned many things about racing and people, I rode well, I rode sloppy, loved the course, hated the course, slept about 30 minutes and am very grateful to Jim Dukes, Drew Brown and Zack Hoh for illuminating my night laps to the max. Thanks guys for helping keep the rubber side down in the dark here and in Moab this weekend!

This would be a great place to end this blog post, however, I can't help but mention a very mysterious object along the race course that exerts great power over mortals. The pink futon. It is virtually impossible to explain or resist. Surrounded by sleeping sheep, it repels derailleurs and has the inward pull of a strong vacuum. When Coke and pizza are added--lap count and lap times fall into extreme danger....

Next up:

Moab!! Moab!! Moab!!