Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Leadbelt 2015

It was Saturday evening, about 830pm, when my husband said, "Hey, you wanna do Leadbelt tomorrow"?  With absolutely no preparation I thought about it for ten seconds and said "Of course", and immediately went to the garage to see where my mountain bike was.  It's been hanging silently on a wall, yes, I am a bad dirty girl.  Honestly, since getting the Salsa Warbird I have been having gravel dreams and dirt has been at the back of my brain.

Setting my Kona Big Unit on the floor I gave him a quick once over.  Tires need air, clean and lube chain, check which gear is on (32x20), needs a quick scrub and tighten some things down.  Yup, it's now 9pm, race in 12 hours, LOL.  Either way, I will be ready to pedal for 3 hours, once I locate the rest of my stuff.

You never want to miss a Mark Grumke production.  He puts his heart and soul into the course, making it as shreddly perfect as possible. Having followed his many FB updates I knew this years trail would be just as awesome as last years.  I had gotten in four laps so that was my goal this year.  The course was 7.7 miles of twisty, rocky goodness.   Mark had been working on a small  rocky culvert for weeks,  I didn't think it would be an issue.

Love our new 1UP!!!

Sunday morning we were running late and made a wrong turn, it was a rough start kind of morning. We all kept our cool because we were going to ride bikes, being late wasn't going to ruin it. Fortunately,  I was able to change into my kit at a nearby gas station. We rolled into the park in true Trail Monster time at 8:50am   There was no time for socializing or warm-up, just enough time to sign up for the Marathon category and head to the start line. I looked around for my EE teammate Nathan, he said he could spare a couple of scoops of CarboRocket since I had only two scoops, 222 calories, for the entire race.  I stopped worrying about calories as I got in line and hoped my skillz would make an appearance.

Holy Crap! It was hot and humid, just as you would expect in the Midwest in July.  The trail being beautifully manicured had helped to take away from it's jungle-like feel. Even if you were standing still sweat was rolling off.   Midway through the 1st lap it felt like I was breathing in someone's armpit, not that I have ever done that.  Stopping to catch my breath and hyperventilate was not something I had envisioned doing today, but I was going to have to deal with.  Sweat was burning in my eyes adding to my misery. I seriously I felt like I was falling apart, one piece at a time..  I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  Was I failing already? Geez, I just got started.

Thanks Jeff Henderson!

Negativity crept into my mind and gripped my brain and  I said some awful things to myself. Moments later I remembered that negative self talk never works and stopped.  I gave myself consent to walk and catch my breath and permission to melt later if necessary.  Then I hopped on my bike and pedaled. Damn, lap 1 was difficult.

photo by Jeff Henderson

Heading out on Lap#2 I felt much better.  Having cold water and a new attitude helped tremendously.  In the middle of my mind was the fact that pedaling was going to be a challenge soon, those 222 calories were long gone. I didn't see Nathan yet and reminded myself that I was not racing, I was just surviving.  I can survive on very limited calories.  Either way, I wasn't going to add worry to the day,  I was riding my bike in the woods and all was good. The Cat 1, 2, and 3 racers started to zip by me about half way through this lap.   It's very disconcerting to be passed by soooo many riders.  This is when I remind myself to "chill out" and just pedal.  Four laps is still the goal.  I did not bring my Garmin and had no idea what time it was.  (I didn't even look at the time clock when I passed each lap)  Having not been mountain biking much this year I did not want to beat myself up any further by looking at slow times.  Pedal and smile, four laps.

Sliding out on Lap#3 scored me a huge bruise, damn rocks!  Luckily, no one was around to see it.  I picked myself up and dusted myself off and hopped back on.  As I rode I thought maybe, just maybe, my Kona tossed me there, you know, as a payback for all the non-riding.... I patted the handlebars and asked not to be thrown again.  I've been riding just over 2 hours, legs burning, stomach churning, and sweating like a man, absolutely dreading another lap.  I know I should probably ingest some calories but the thought of food nauseates me.  Damn, I still don't see Nathan.

Thank goodness for muscles or that might hurt

The last mile of Lap 3 all I can think of is stopping and pouring an adult beverage down my gullet.  In about 4 minutes it will all be over.  As I roll up to the Finish I hear Mark say, "It's only 2:47 on the clock, you got another one in ya" ?  I mumble loudly, "Shit"!  and I know I will keep pushing on. Dan Bressler hooks me up with some ice cold water and I am out on Lap 4.  I know I need to hurry so I don't miss the kids race. I'm running on empty but know that food would be a bad thing to introduce.  I feel drained but weightless as I pedal, it's hard to explain.  Lap 1 was ridiculously hard yet somehow I made it to Lap 4.  Pedaling through the rocky, wet culvert for the fourth time I pat myself on the back.  Unscathed! Save for the slide out in the rocks.

Finishing Lap 4 was awesome!  As I pedaled in I hear riders yelling my name and cheering for me.  All their noise made me feel like I had won, which couldn't be further from the truth.  I was DFL, dead freaking last.  The results page would not show my victories.... I knew.  Not quitting, being able to calm myself to continue, staying upright, riding each lap smoother than the last and completing four laps were my victories.  For not being prepared, I am quite happy with my efforts.

Chocolate Milk!!!

The Kona set up at 32x20 ran flawlessly.  Tubeless tire pressure was roughly 25psi.  Calorie intake was about 300 calories for the day, not recommended.

On yer mark, get set....

I finished just in time to see the Kids Race.  I love seeing their "game faces" and pushing them selves to their limits.  This year I have two kiddos in the race and they are riding brand new Trek's, thanks Momentum! The kids trail was separate from the race course.  It was 1/3 mile long and was open all day for the kiddos to ride. Their race would be 5 laps.

The race started at 1:15pm, the hottest, muggiest time of the day.  The boys and girls lined up did not let it phase them. They had been waiting for this All day.

Go girl!

Leading out the first lap is my 9yr old daughter, followed closely by my 9yr old nephew.  The next lap I see my nephew out in front, grinning from ear to ear. The kids are having a great time pedaling in circles.  I heard it wasn't all fun when one of the girls slid out coming around a turn.  It turns out that one of the older boys, in a different race, stopped to help her get up and back on her bike. He may have lost 1st place due to his chivalry.....
Isaiah (in red) in the lead

The race comes to it's last lap and the kids are pulling out everything they have.  Sydney crosses the line first and my nephew, Isaiah, is right behind her.  They are covered in sweat and laughing. Yay for bikes!

Out of earshot, my daughter tells me that she let Isaiah pass her on one of the laps.  I asked her why and she said "because I wanted him to see what it felt like to be in 1st place".  Awwww.  What a sweet kid!

What an awesome way to spend a Sunday!  Thanks Mark and volunteers!  The Davis' will be back in 2016!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Meet The Newest Trail Nugget Ambassador

Recently I was chosen to be in the Rodeo Adventure Labs Trail Nugget Ambassador Program.   So exciting and quite a game changer to have a fuel sponsor!  Proper fueling means I can ride faster and for longer periods.  As an endurance athlete that means a lot.  I am very eager to get to know this company better and be a formidable ambassador for them.

  My husband was waiting for me at a Checkpoint at the DK200 and handed a few samples, which were full size nuggets. After we got home I was cleaning up my gear and came across them.  Intrigued and still starving from riding over 19 hours I opened the Peanut CoCo Apocalypse   flavor. In a word it was scrumptious!  I scoured my gear box for another, no luck but there were other flavors.

I took the remaining bars/nuggets on recovery rides and longer endurance pedals.  The Lemon Almond Hot Date bar was with me on a recent 60 miler.  It was an incredibly humid day, mid 90's, and I was sweating more than I was breathing.  I was  nervous pulling it from my jersey, the nugget probably melted like most do.  The packing was still perfect and the nugget was exactly the same as it was three hours ago.  I broke it into four pieces and ate as I pedaled.  I was very surprised I liked it because I am not a huge lemon bar fan, obviously I hadn't found the right lemon bar yet.  Returning to my Jeep I wished I had another Peanut Coco Apocalypse nugget to snack on while I drove home.  I bet those are awesome paired with a glass of ice cold milk.

I did not get to try the Just Beet It Trail Nugget yet.  I love beets so I expect I will like this flavor as well.  The fact that the bars are made with ingredients I can pronounce and understand is important because there is a lot of junk out there.  They are also natural, vegan, raw, kosher, and gluten free.

You can go here to see how Trail Nuggets started and go here to purchase some nuggets for yourself.  You are going to love 'em!  Like their FaceBook page to stay in the loop.  If you see me out and about ask me about Trail Nuggets, I may even have some to share.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Goodbye Magnificent Kona

I remember the first day I saw you, it was October 30th, 2010.  It was love at first sight. You were stunningly shiny and I was dressed like Peat Henry.

Which one is Peat? FYI, never glue hair to your face.

 I had no idea how to ride you but  felt comfortable that we would survive pedaling in circles for about 30 minutes.  I was not familiar with shifting gears and did not do well in the race.  It didn't matter. You would not be seeing many cross races.  You were purchased for an entirely different purpose.  You and I were going to crush the Dirty Kanza 200 in 2011!

Your first battle scar

Time has passed so quickly and here we are almost five years later.  I have enjoyed over 15,000 miles of road, trail, and gravel with you.  You have taken me on rides with my husband, my daughter and countless friends. We have enjoyed rides to school for lunch and rides to the store to pick up a few things.  I have experienced incredible amounts of joy and happiness but also been through crazy Hell, you were right there with me. Our relationship was mostly pleasure that was sprinkled intermittently with Pain, several events come to mind.

Dirty Kanza 2013

You were always ready for a rumble no matter the time of day or the weather conditions.  Know that I winced every time I had to roll you through animal feces.  And yet, your attitude remained stellar! You never let me down in a race and always gave 150%, no matter the circumstances.  In fact, we never had any serious mechanical issues and very few flats over the years. You have maintained a sound mind and body.  By the way...  I changed only ONE flat in those three races, all 600 miles! You are THE reason I finished my first three Dirty Kanza's!  You are magnificent and I am indebted to you for life.  I will never forget the gifts you have given me and the adventures we shared.

I took you everywhere

You know all my secrets, I told you EVERYTHING, unfiltered, and unafraid.  Like who were you going to tell?  You know my deepest fears, my innermost crazy thoughts, and all the bullshit I have carried around with me for the last 46 years.  Thanks for being a super confidant and being an awesome listener. I know my nuttiness is safe with you. I also appreciate you not minding the times I left tears on your top tube.  You were there for me through some important times/issues in my life.  You didn't leave my side when things got rough.  You impacted my life in an immeasurable way , yet you never uttered a word.

I know you were pissed to see the Warbird land in the garage.  I understand.  I get it.  I realize it must have been hard to watch me fawn over him, buy him stuff and take him on rides all the while hanging helplessly from the wall.  Don't think I haven't felt guilty. Don't think I haven't thought how you might feel. Also... Don't think I haven't heard your silent digs "hey bitch, ride me" as I rolled the Warbird out of the garage. I'm sorry those moments happened and I hope you know I didn't mean anything by it.  My guilt was lessened as I began to look for a good/proper home for you.  You are marvelous and deserve to be ridden. I was on a mission to find you the perfect place.

With the help of friends you now have a new home and owner.  His name is Robert.  He is a Middle School teacher.  He resides in..... wait for it..... Emporia, Kansas!!!  I know!  How lucky are you!?

You get to grind gravel in Kansas! The Flint Hills Baby!!  I know how much fun you had out there and how you hated to leave after riding the Dirty Kanza course. You know what else?   You may even see some of our friends and get to ride with them.  I will have them send me photos so I can see how you are faring.  Try not to smile so big alright?

I want you to know that I felt extremely sad as I wrapped your bars with new tape. Don't worry, I left that extra tape just where your new owner will appreciate it.   I know you are going to a fabulous home, the fella and his wife are friends of Kristi Mohn, make sure to tell her"Hi" for me.  I think you have arrived just in time to give the Lunar Kanza a go!   You lucky bastard!  I looked at the registered rider list and you would be in awesome company if you get to go.  I already sent your new rider an email to get registered, fingers crossed.

I should wrap things up here so you can get on with your life.  Lastly I want you to know that you are a very special bike so hold your very head high in Kansas.   Not many bikes have three full DK200's on them.  That is something to be proud of since most bikes will never see the beauty of the Flint Hills.  I'm honored to have had you in my life for as long as I did.  Now go make Robert happy, show him as much gravel as he can handle, and then show him some more.

I will be in Emporia on June 3rd 2016, I hope to see you then if not sooner.

I will miss you.  Behave.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

You Can't Ride Kitchen Cabinets

The beginning of 2015 starts just like every year.  My husband and I discuss our plans and goals over adult beverages and find out if we are on the same page.  After discussing bikes and careers we talked about the house, the dreaded house.  We have taken up space in it for 16yrs, over that time eight people have lived in it.  What is downright funny is the fact it was supposed to be a 'transition' place we would stay for  5 years or less.  For one reason or another we have stayed, schools, $$, jobs, or to help someone.  At this time our house could use some TLC.  With active lifestyles we are far too busy to take on projects and honey do lists. However.... since our Summer and Fall activities completely opened up we should be able to tackle some of it. Luckily it's nothing too major, mostly cosmetic things like painting and baseboards.  One of the larger projects would be new kitchen cabinets and we picked April/May to have them done.
I tried to be excited when we went shopping for the cabinets, that became difficult after seeing the disgusting amount of $$ they want to house worn kitchen appliances and Target dishes.  Crazy! Wood shelving that tops the amount I spent on cars.   Ridiculous!  After looking at several different stores and talking to consultants I learned a few things.  First and foremost, definitely don't go cheap,  You get what you pay for.  We need the cabinets to help sell the house when we put it on the market so no junk.  I had to laugh as we left Menards.  I can't believe folks would spend upwards of 20K on kitchen cabinets, I wouldn't do it.   It's not important to me. However, with an extra 20K I would use 35% to pay down some bills and buy myself a bike with the remaining 65%.  See, I'm responsible.

As the months passed our plans change, drastically.  Jim's company was bought out and they were cleaning house and Jim had to have rotator cuff surgery. Shit, we should wait on the cabinets.  That's alright, they aren't that bad.  We've dealt with it for nearly a decade, what's a few more months/years?

March arrived and I turned 46!  I also received a very unexpected gift.  The hubs presented me with a 2016 Salsa Warbird!  I am still over the moon with this bike, it has exceeded my expectations and treated me well at the Dirty Kanza! I see many gravel road explorations in our future.

I am not the only new bike owner at our house. As our Midwest weather started to shape up we saw first hand what had happened to the kids over Winter. Dammit!  Both of the kiddos had grown, a respectable amount and needed new steeds.  After two trips to Momentum Cycles both kids were outfitted with brand spankin' new Trek mountain bikes.  Hopefully they will be able to ride these for at least two years. So far, their bikes have lasted them only one season.

My daughter received her bike last.  As we watched her pedal down the street my husband said, "I hope you realize that this means we probably won't be getting kitchen cabinets anytime soon".  I had to laugh.  Jim knew full well that I did not care about kitchen cabinets. While at Menards  I mentioned it was sad to have to spend that amount of money to have it hang on a wall and hold kitchen crap, spending it on a bike made much more sense to me.

The smiles I have seen in the past two months have been priceless.  We have ridden to parks, to stores, on trails, and around our neighborhood.  One afternoon last week my nephew and I logged ten miles since he wanted to ride "double digits".

There are no regrets here.  I won't hold my breath on the cabinets.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Girl Age 11 Crushes the Dirty Kanza 100

I was just pedaling along, minding my own business, focusing on the task at hand when I saw her.  I wasn't sure if she was a mirage or my eyes were playing tricks on me.  I have been to the Dirty Kanza five times now and have never seen anything like this.  Immediately I am awe struck by the young lady pedaling just ahead of  me. I am at a loss for words but I have to say something, I have to know who she is and how she got to this gravel road.

  It turns out she was real and not a figment of my imagination.  I met her Dad, who was pedaling at the head of their tandem. We exchanged pleasantries, wished each other good luck and we parted ways. I thought of that little girl all day long. When I mentioned seeing her to my husband at the first CP he said "hmmm, what else did you see out there", in a non-believing tone. I couldn't blame him though, it was a bit much to comprehend.  I saw her, I saw her mud encrusted ponytail and the smile she wore was genuine.  She was having the time of her life.  Who is she?

Josie Andre is an 11 yr old girl from Dubuque Iowa.  She will be attending Middle School in the Fall. Her Dad signed them up to ride a tandem in the Dirty Kanza 100, the Half Pint,  this past March. It didn't sound like he had to twist her arm, Josie likes to ride bikes.  She told me that her Mom, Traci Andre, was signed up to the 100 as well. She giggled while telling me that it was her and Dad racing Mom.  Even at her young age her feistiness and independence came through on our phone call.

Below are some thoughts from Josie's day.  She crossed the line at 9:20:51.  She was ranked 7th female out of fifty-two.  Quite impressive!

A special thank you to Josie's parents for letting me interview her and share her story.

Josie mentioned that she had been riding tandem "for a while" and the race was totally her Dad's idea. However, she wanted to do it.

 She had told her class mates she was riding the DK100 before school let out. When I spoke with her she had not told any of her friends of her accomplishment. I wonder what kind of reactions she received. Would they be able to grasp what she actually did?

Josie rocked a Free Flight jersey which was covered in mud most of the day. She assured me that she did not mind wearing the mud.

Josie ate lots of energy chews and guzzled Gatorade while riding co-pilot . At the half way point she ate half of peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chips.

I asked Josie what she thought about the mud.  She let out an exasperated OhMyGosh and said "that was reeeaaaalllllyyyy tough, really hard".  She didn't mind being muddy. " It was one of the few times I wouldn't get in trouble for being dirty", she said.  Spoken like a true gravel rockstar!

 However, she did  admit that the mud slop was her least favorite part of the race.  She mentioned how difficult it was to walk in mud caked shoes and push the bike. She was delighted when her Dad told her to hop on the bike as they were going to ride parts of it. She was not intimidated by the mud at all. I can't imagine how heavy their tandem was to push/drag/pull, can you?  

Josie's favorite part of the ride was being within one mile from the finish.  I can only guess how she felt completing an event a lot of adults would not even enter much less finish today.  She was part of 676 cyclists that lined up that morning, only 354 saw the finish line.  What a tremendous accomplishment for an 11 yr old girl!

Josie would like to ride the DK100 again, but under her own power with her own two wheels.  Yes, she wants a solo effort under her belt before she attempts the full 200.  After speaking with her I know she has the guts to go after it and the family support to be successful.

One more thought:  As I was putting this piece together my daughter was watching.  She was aware I had talked to Josie and she was interested in what Josie had to say.  Sydney read over my shoulder as I typed and then said "Mom, can I ride the Dirty Kanza with you some day"?  All I could do was smile and say "yes, if you want to".

Thank you Josie for inspiring myself and countless others to go after BIG things!

Go Josie GO! I will see you in 2016!