Thursday, October 29, 2015

Marji Gesick 100 interview on MTB Radio!

Instead of writing a blog post about the Marji Gesick 100 I recorded an interview with Ben Welnak from Mountain bike radio! Here is the link to the show. Click and listen!

Honestly the race was truly one of the hardest that I've ever done. But that being said it's the only race that I've ever signed up for as soon as registration opened. There are less than 100 spots left..I highly recommend this race! The waffles at aid station 67 are really, really good. You just have to get there :-)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Georgia on my mind...

Holy moly! I don't know what's more impressive...the fact that I remembered the password to my blog or the fact that I'm actually writing something. I was planning on writing a big long summary on what I did this summer but at this point I'm going to sum it up in a few words.

I raced a little bit.
I had a lot of fun with friends.
I mastered the art of keeping popsicles from melting on 90 degree days. Trust me, that is no small feat!

That was my summer in a nutshell. It flew by and all of a sudden it's fall...the best time of the year to do long rides.

Now it's time to head down to Georgia. I'm going down for an Imba certification but MORE IMPORTANTLY I get to see my friends Namrita and Heather. It has been way to long since we have all hung out and I am ridiculously excited to catch up with them.

I will update this blog again when I get least by December :-)

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Dawg(s) Days of Summer

Until this summer racing was hands down my favorite thing to do. It was all I wanted to do and all that I thought about.

Then along came the Grand Rapids Dirt Dawgs. 

All of a sudden I've had to shift gears a bit. Instead of being hyper-focused on racing and "how do my legs feel?" I've been focusing on all sorts of different things. Things like volunteers and number plates and making sure we have enough popsicles for 71 kids after our weekly practice. It's been by far the best experience of my life and I am so, so, SO PROUD of those Dirt Dawgs! Monday nights have become my favorite night of the week because nothing compares to seeing so many kids on bikes riding through the woods with smiles on their faces!

Some of the kids already have fat bikes which can only mean one thing. Dear 45NRTH, how soon can you start making kid sized wolvhammers??? :-)

Besides hanging out with the Dawgs I've been having a lot of fun. Taking a month off from racing after Dirty Kanza and Lumberjack was the best thing that I could have done for my legs. After those two races I felt tired and my legs felt like poo for a really long time. It feels so good to be bouncing back and riding my bike every day without feeling like I need a 10-hour nap. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of days where my legs still feel tired. But they are the good kind of tired!

Next up for me is one of my all-time favorite races, the Wausau 24. This race is such a blast I can't wait. To sum it get to race on a fun course, hang out with friends in-between, AND there are taco trucks on site. That's a perfect race in my book!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Time for a staycation!

This is not a post about the Dirty Kanza...yet! I swear I will do one soon (at least before I line up to the start line next year) but things have been so BUSY around here the last couple of weeks I've barely had time to sit down. Much less process that race. Between home renovations, hanging out with some of my favorite friends, working on the Dirt Dawgs and racing the Lumberjack 100, I feel like I've constantly been trying to play catch-up with everything.

I will be the first to admit that right now my living situation is less then ideal. Trying to pack for a race when all my gear is packed away was a little challenging. I will be the first to admit that packing did not go well and stressed me out. For the first time EVER I forgot something for a race. I didn't bring jerseys :-)
The good news is that I finished another Lumberjack. That's 11 years straight! I know I said that I was going to take a break after 10 years but that's stupid. I love the course, it's a great race and it's only 2 hours away from where I live. I'm just going to keep going with it!
This time I raced my SS in the open division and learned a few things...
1. I should train on my SS before racing it 100 miles
2. I should race my SS in the SS division
3. I LOVE my SS

The biggest thing that I learned actually came from my friend Sonya Looney! She flew into town for a few days to race the Lumberjack 100 and also did a clinic at the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company. I'm so ready for the Dirty Kanza next year because now I know how to correctly carry my bike during hike-a-bike situations!

Anyways, Sonya is an amazing athlete. Super fast and really great at technical stuff. Everyone knows that, right? However, she's also super kind and really positive! We all went out on a group ride the Thursday before Lumberjack and she had one of those stupid, freak crashes that always seem to hurt the most. She hurt her wrist and couldn't race the Lumberjack 100.

Most of us have been in this sort of situation and we all know how much it sucks. It's part of being an athlete but there is no denying the disappointment that comes with getting hurt and not being able to compete in something you have been training for. Instead of pouting or being grumpy Sonya still went to the Lumberjack race and cheered us all on and helped do support for all of us. She is an amazing ambassador of the sport and I really am happy that I was able to get to know her better. Hopefully she can come back next year...not only does she have to race the L100 but we only scratched the surface of local breweries!

Now it's time to chill out for a while! I have done zero help around the house and I promised Scott some major painting time. Plus there's these 3....they need some extra hiking/cuddle time!
If I do a race in July it will be local but right now it's looking doubtful. For the most part I think I'm going to just focus on getting a good training block in. I might just get around to my DK200 report yet :-)

Saturday, June 06, 2015

I survived!

I survived my first Dirty Kanza! I almost can't believe it because there were times during the race when I was pretty sure that I was going to be pedaling in that wide open space called Kansas FOREVER! It was so hard I almost can't wrap my head around what happened out there.

I also survived FORGETTING to apply chamois butt'r before a 200 mile gravel road race. Seriously who does that? And while we are on the subject, who schedules a yearly physical 4 days after a 200 mile gravel road race?  Message to myself 4 months ago...what were you thinking????
The first couple days back from Kansas I was deep in the pain cave. I felt like I had the flu twice over. I think it was a mixture of the race taking 16 hours and 18 minutes, having to carry my mountain bike for an insanely long time and having a few nights in the row where I only got 4-5 hours of sleep.

It did not help that I had to hit the ground running the moment I got back. It's been a busy week and to top things off we have to pack up our entire house so that someone can work on our floors. I, of course, waited until 10 pm last night to start packing and we have to be packed up today.

So...back to packing. There will be a Kanza post....just not today! Maybe tomorrow :-)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Time flies when you are having fun (and eating donuts!)

Whoa. I thought I should take a minute and update this least with some pictures. It's been busy around here! 

Last week was Active Commute Week and Friday was Bike to Work Day. The weather was not cooperating but that did not stop commuters in Grand Rapids. Tons of businesses had pit stops with really good food and coffee. I am not going to disclose how many donuts I ate...mostly because I lost count :-)

I've mentioned before on this blog that I'm starting a kids mountain bike team (with the help from a TON of amazing people) and on Friday I was able to go on air with Shelley Irwin (WGVU) to talk about it. What made the experience even more fun was that Sage (one of the kids who gave me the idea) was able to go on air with me. We biked down to the station in pouring rain and it was so much fun. I can't even begin to say how proud I was of Sage. We biked through the city, got drenched and then went on air...and she handled it all like a pro!

Of course after our ride we had to go out for more coffee, hot chocolate and another dessert (because the donuts weren't enough!)

Saturday I woke up early to (guess what?) more rain. Michigan is clearly the new Seattle. After a quick breakfast I hopped on my bike to meet my teammates Juli and Melissa for a very important job! We were leading out 3,000 Girls for Girls On The Run! SO...MUCH...FUN! I couldn't help but notice that my knee-high socks were right on trend with all the girls around me. Glad to see that I'm staying hip :-)

The promoter sent us directions a few days before and I was like, "perfect! I can practice following a cue sheet." I've been so busy I haven't had time to do any sort of practice for Dirty Kanza (not thinking about that now!) Anyways, somehow we all managed to miss a turn within the first mile and a half. Oh dear...things are not looking good for me in Kansas. 
But back to the race. It was incredible to see so many Girls On The Run!!! Lining up at the start was slightly terrifying as the promoter kept telling us to go out hard. Let me tell you...those girls are FAST! For one brief moment I thought I was going to get passed by them :-) By the time I was done my face hurt from smiling so much!

Sunday I woke up early again but it wasn't raining! Hurray! I met up with my teammates and friends and we did 7 laps at Yankee. Technically I should have been riding gravel but oh well...riding my Spearfish on singletrack is just too much fun. I was pretty tired by the time I was done and was reminded of how much I love my Spearfish. Best bike ever!!! 
Grand Rapids Bicycles hosted the WMMBA bi-monthly meeting on Monday and I was able to talk about my favorite-est subject ever...The Grand Rapids Dirt Dawgs (kids team). The rest of the evening involved food. Such a good rest day :-)

Tuesday was the Skirts in the Dirt trail day at Cannonsburg Ski hill. We made a little new trail arms are still recovering. Holy Moly, trail work is a really good upper body workout!

Wednesday night was our ladies ride at Luton Park and it felt like it was ready to snow. It's funny how I can ride in 20 degrees in the winter like it's no big deal but when temps drop to the 50's in May I feel like I'm going to freeze to death. We had a really great ride though and I have to admit that Wednesday nights are one of my favorite ride nights of the week. 
So yeah..that's what I've been up to! Which brings me to FRIDAY!!! I'll be at the GRBC Ada location from 10-2 and 5-8 helping out so stop on by to say Hi if you are in the area. This weekend I'm going to be in full on panic mode. When I signed up for Dirty Kanza I thought that I would be 1,000 times more prepared then I am. I'm trying not to think about it because then I get really, really, really stressed about it. Luckily I don't have any long rides this weekend so I'm hoping I can get the Garmin that I just bought out of the box and figure out to use it. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

CoHURTa 100

A little over a week ago I was driving into Tennessee with my GRBC teammate/friend Laura for the Cohutta 100. I was a little worried that I wasn't ready to race 100 miles so early in the season but I didn't really care. The day before I left Michigan it was snowing and 39 degrees. Tennessee was warm, sunny and flowers were already blooming.
Once we arrived to the race venue we met up with our other GRBC teammates (Jill and Tyler) and our friend Matt. It was great seeing so many fellow endurance racers and friends that I met over the years racing the N.U.E Series. I have to admit that it makes me want to do as many hundred milers as possible this summer.

My super fast friend Carey Lowery gave me some of her amazing bread that she makes and told me to save it for after the race. In hindsight I should have just eaten the whole darn loaf immediately :-) Everyone was talking about the race day weather forecast...which was NOT GOOD! There was a 100% chance of rain, severe thunderstorms, severe lightening, hail and even the chance of a tornado. Usually I try to not focus on the weather because it's one of those things you can't control and everyone has to deal with it. However, the thought of tornadoes and lightening strikes was a little scary. I didn't want to go up in the air with my bike all "Wizard of Oz" style.

Carey and Zeke had to take off, so after saying our good-byes (boohoo), Laura and I put our kits on and hopped on the course to pre-ride some of the singletrack. The trails were in great condition and so much fun. In hindsight I should also have just ridden 100 miles on Friday...haha.

After our pre-ride we checked in at the Copper Inn Motel (that's my last time staying there for real), got our aid station bags together, dropped aid station bags off and then got ready for bed. It never fails to amaze me how quickly the day before a race goes by.

Sure enough we woke up to pouring rain. Finally, a chance to use the super fancy rain jacket that I had bought for Scotland. Since it was raining hard there was zero warm-up. To tell you the truth I never warm up much for a hundred mile race anyways. They all start so early that it seems like I'm getting ready until the very last minute. I lined up with everyone else in the rain and before I knew it we were off.

From the get-go I could tell that it was going to be a long day in the saddle. My legs felt crap-tastic! Never a good feeling when you know that you have 100 miles to go while feeling that way. I think the biggest reason why I felt so bonky was that we had spent 2 days in the car and I did a lot of snacking on car food instead of eating full meals. I know better and take 100% responsibility...stupid, stupid, stupid!

The first bit of singletrack wasn't too bad for all the rain we were getting. It was fun. I was riding a brand spanking new Salsa El Mariachi with Velocity USA Blunt SS wheels and Industry Nine hubs and the bike was 100% amazing (thanks Ted for being such a great mechanic)!!! Let me tell you those wheels kept me upright on wet roots when I should have gone down due to rider error. Of course, now I want the wheels on all of my bikes now!
By the time I made it to the first aid station at mile 22 (I think) I was HOT and losing air in my back tire. This is what happens when you go tubeless and enter a race without getting a few rides in beforehand. I was at the aid station way too long trying to cram my rain jacket into the ziplock bag, putting air in etc. Finally I was on my way.

Once the sun came out I felt like I was overheating big time. I'm not someone who ever feels good in the heat but usually I can manage it IF I have time to acclimate. This time I felt like I was riding in a muggy, hot rain forest. I had to stop at the 2nd aid station to put more air in my back tire and then stopped at the 3rd aid station to refill on CarboRocket. One of the volunteers kindly cleaned my sunglasses since they were covered in mud but accidentally took my lenses out. It was hard to get them back in with all of the mud that was everywhere. Oh well! Usually I am in/out of aid stations really quickly but this time I was spending so much time at them I felt like I was on a first name basis with all of the volunteers.

The rest of the race was more of the same. I got REALLY lost (flew down a hill and took a left when I should have gone right), had one of my aid station bags disappear, etc. etc. etc. But to tell you the truth I really didn't care. I was suffering big time but was still able to enjoy the view (at least once or twice). Plus I got extra mileage in for Dirty Kanza. Now that I think of it maybe that's why I took a wrong turn in the first place. Subconsciously I WANTED to ride longer then 100 miles...haha. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Towards the end something kicked in and I started to feel good. Maybe it's because I got to rest and cool down while trying to look for blue arrows in the gravel when I got lost...who knows!? The final singletrack flew by and I enjoyed every second of it. Before I knew it I was crossing the finish line in 5th place and was back with my friends. Once the drop bags were returned I was also reunited with my missing drop bag.

My brand spanking new bike is no longer new! In fact I'm sure that I will be finding Cohutta mud on it a month from now.
Huge thanks to the race promoters and volunteers for being so great. It's hard enough to put on a race in good weather conditions. Conditions were definitely less then ideal this year but everyone was helpful and cheerful...even when standing in pouring rain. I WILL BE BACK next year for another Cohutta. Hopefully next year is the year I crush those Cohutta hills instead of them crushing me :-)

Now it's time to focus on Dirty Kanza...eek! And speaking of Dirty Kanza I did an interview with my Salsa teammate Andrea Cohen about the race. You can listen to it here!