Friday, October 29, 2010

Bittersweet BT Epic

I call this race bittersweet because its the last mountain bike race of the year, that makes me bitter. The sweet part is the Berryman Trail and the folks from Springfield Bike Shop who make it possible. Jim and I have done this race the past 2 years and were not about to miss its 3rd run. I signed us up on the 1st day of registration, May 1, so we would get t-shirts and a bonus pair of socks{ which are awesome}. The t-shirt would have been been awesome if it had the womens winner on it. Maybe next year.

The week of this race Jim worked very hard to get our VW Vanagon legal to make the trip. If you get the opportunity to ride in our "STELLA" I highly suggest you take it. You will return a better person, I guarantee it. She had been sitting ,taunting us daily,in the driveway for 18 months. We are all happy to have her back with the family.

It is not a secret that the Burnin' sucked my soul outta me, and quite possibly ripped off my legs. The only goal was to finish this one. On the start line, I looked around at over 200 bikers. Impressive! I then realized that I was not the only wounded soldier heading out to this war. Seconds before they set off 'the bomb" I decide to ride carefully and try to break 7 hours. I was familiar with the course and really wanted to ride 32x19, but, honestly I could not have pushed it. I believed that Connor still had the Farinella Magic and that was set at 32x21.

I actually enjoy the 1st climb to the trail. Mostly because its fun to mash past so many people in their granny gear. Around mile7 I saw my brother. He had ripped his derailleur off. He was pissed and done . A mile later I passed Jim, who was off trail helping Beau Moneyham with a flat. I figured he would catch me sooner than later so I rolled by. A short time later Beau passed me while I was struggling. He said"Dude, your legs are ripped if that helps" That comment helped me to the very end.

I had planned for cool temps and a semi wet trail. Wrong!! Mr weatherman. The temp was about 85 and the trail was desert dry and super dusty. I'm not a fan of "dusty mouth" so I carry Lifesavers. Because they are life savers. I rolled through CP1 , there was no reason to stop. I am very glad I put the Small Block 8 on the rear, it was perfect. I passed many a rider fixing flats. A few would catch me, but only to have me pass them again while changing another flat. I played " trail angel" and made sure everyone had what they needed. I gave out some CO2s, lifesavers, 1 tube, and helped those lacking superior attitude by giving encouragement. I reached CP2, Berryman Trailhead, and refilled my camelback{ only half way, I hate wearing a pack} and replenished the supplies I handed out. Where the heck was my husband? He should have caught me by now. This next leg would have been faster with a 32x19. I still would have walked a few climbs, but would have crushed the road.

My favorite part of this race was the road climb back to the trailhead. Passed several in their granny gear. At the picnic tables I say, very seriously, " Hey, anyone want to go climb that again?" Not one of the 8 or so fellas answered. Their eyes said it all. I quickly hopped on the bike and got outta there before they hurt me. This is where I saw Jim again, already changed. He had to call his race due to a sliced tire. Lucky for me, he handed me his extra H2o and fuel bottles. They had run out of H20 and the other racers had to decide to go on without or wait about 20 mins for the volunteers to return with some. The last 17 miles I needed to finish in about 2 hrs. Feeling confident I pedaled on. That was until I reached the road portion. All of a sudden the wind kicked up and was blowing right at me. I was going to spin my brains out and fight the wind. Wonderful! It took everything I had to do 10 mph. For about 6 miles. Not kidding. I think if the wind had been behind me I would have been so close to 7 hrs. I missed by 13 minutes 44 seconds. I did beat last years time by 45 minutes, had zero mechanicals and no crashes. Not even a scratch. What a great way to end 2010. Connor still had the Farinella Magic and I was able to make peace with myself and finally let the Burnin' go. I will be back next year , will push a 32x19, and kick the shit outta 7 hours. If you wanna be there to see it I suggest you sin up early. 2011 will sell out. The after party, the beer, the food , and the band made this event even better.

Enough said. I was fitted for my 2011 Jake the Snake yesterday. It is one sexy cross bike. It has gears, which I need to learn. He will make me even faster on my single speed. Rest assured, once I learn how to ride it, I am gonna ride the hellouttait. Hope to see you at a cross race. The bike and I will be making our debut at this Sat nights Bubba Cross. It will be my first ride so please be gentle with me JTS.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

As I stood at the start/finish, I ran a few things over in my mind - I did all I could do to be here - I deserved to ride and have a good outcome - I put in many hours on the Major One. I was strong now. Seven laps would be tough. But I was ready this time. I had planned for everything - I would not fail.
Kevin Bonney agreed to be my pit crew. Karma baby! I had trail karma built on this very trail. I put in a lot of time here and learned how to ride 90% of this trail. As the smoke bombs were lit I said out loud "YOU WILL NOT QUIT"

The first lap is the hardest. Races are won and lost here. Frustration and tension are abundant. Its tough to pass and someone usually has a mechanical. I recall seeing two flats and two broken chains in the first couple miles.
Someone also pissed off some hornets - Myself and several others found this out the hard way. Over and over I was stung by the same hornet. He was stuck in between my legs.... I stopped to check everything out at mile 4 - the climb. Reached for my fuel bottle. It had bounced out.
This was going to be a rough day.

I started feeling squirrely around the rock garden and took a hard spill. The last climb destroyed me. I was just under two hours. My plan was to do steady 140's. I had already failed on lap 1. I replaced my fuel bottle. Topped off my superior state of mind. I did not want to seem like a wuss so I did not mention the sting.
Bad move.
It turns out, when you are stung by a hornet/wasp/bee, they shoot venom straight into your system. Everyone handles it differently - then it swells and itches something awful. My system did not like this at all. I felt drained, had trouble breathing, and picked a lot of bad lines.
At Enough, Storm's wife gave me some DayQuil - Lap 2 took about 2:10. I walked the entire last climb. Kevin looked worried so I told him the truth. He found the medic, Eddie, who gave me ice + Benadryl. I dont think he was happy when I told him I was going back out. He knew he couldnt stop me. He also knew he would see me later - in about 8 hours.
I changed my kit, which totally changed my attitude, ate some chicken noodle soup, and pressed on. It was still early - I can do 6.

Kevin wanted to try out his new 29er prototype so he accompanied me on Lap 3. I know he just wanted to keep an eye on me. The lap was hard, the Benadryl kicked in and so did the yawns. Kevin pep talked me through the whole lap. I finally got my smile back at mile 7. I did take one hard spill on the right side during this lap. Luckily I didn't really feel it until hours later.
Lap 4 was a roller coaster. I would feel great for a while, and then terrible - up and down. The caffeine in the GU's helped counter the drowsiness I felt. I drank a Starbucks cold coffee before heading out on this lap in hopes my energy would return. I heard about lots of mechanicals and some bodily injuries. It turned out that some fella smashed his face, another his tibia, another his foot, several had holes poked in their hands and legs from bad rock landings, and that Mia had snapped her wrist. I survived lap 4 and still wanted to do 2 more. Kevin attached my light to my helmet and off I went into the darkness. Damn, it was really dark.

On lap 5 I tried to make peace with myself. I guess others would have quit by now. I was told I had nothing to prove to anyone. I did not agree. I felt like I was letting my team down. Letting myself down. I guess if I had any bike issues i could have used that as an excuse. I had zero mechanicals, no flats, Connor was perfect. Farinella magic! As I walked the first climb, Busken stopped to walk with me. His day had not gone as planned either.
We stopped at the Team Seagal tent to drink a Pabst and celebrate what we did accomplish. It was then that I decided this would be it. I was riding everything for the last time. I would take my time and roll in with a huge smile. I got to talk with Mashor around mile 7 . He said he wanted to finish with me. I convinced him to go and finish without me.

At the spillway I fell hard. Very hard. It happened so quickly that I could not clip out on the right side. I fell over with my right shoe still attached to my bike. I was in shock. I had fallen on my left arm. It felt wet. I couldn't see it. Fear entered my mind. With less than 4 miles left... please, no blood. Every rock and root I rode over shot pain throughout my body. At the last climb, my teammate Nico graced me with his presence. I had him look at my arm. He very calmly said "Sasha - we are gonna walk this last climb together" When we reached the cardboard dude I got on my bike to ride out that last piece. Absolutely mind-numbing pain. I had a huge goose egg on my elbow, that I could not see, but from everyones reaction I understood it was something impressive. After a shower, the medic worked his magic once more and wrapped me with ice.
The after party was off the chains. Thanks to friends my cup was never empty. After the awards the party moved to several campsites.
And as you know - What happens at Burnin', stays at Burnin'
I am not going to pretend I am not disappointed . I planned for everything except to fail. It will suck to wait a year to get a do over. On the positive side, I heal real quick and there is still one race left . The BT EPIC. There will be no goals and no expectations this year. Its just a ride.

I am still struggling with this.... If i had not followed my mind I would not be battered and bruised right now. If I had quit my body would be okay. However, my mind would absorb the suffering. Did I make the right choice?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Lot Can Happen In 12 Hours

The week before an endurance event is very difficult for me. With all of the so called training behind me, its like "what do I do now?". I know its important to stay loose,stretch,eat well, and do some short/spin rides. I get that. I understand that. However, I happen to like riding my bike for hours. I call it my lifestyle. My bike= happiness. Any and every chance I get to ride I take it. I have never not wanted to ride my bike. So here I am, trying to stay busy.trying to keep my mind from rambling. I start hearing , " What are you gonna do now?" or" I wanna go ride, so lets just go ride". Its like a fight club in my head. I need to get my head 'right' this week. Kick all the negative chatter and self doubt OUT. "Can I really do 7 laps?" " Why do I ride a single speed" " wouldnt you have a better chance on gears" " did I train enough" " did I set my goal too high" " why on earth do you do this" " its gonna be cold" Yeah, I know , some of it makes no sense.

Last year the Burnin' was my 1st 12 hr event. I rode with ignorance and a lot of rage. About a month before the race I found out my mom had breast cancer. That was the rage. { She is good now} I did not have a clue how timing was done, how to handle pits, how to pace myself, or how to fuel the body. This year I do have a better grasp on these variables. I have a lot of you to thank for that. Answering my endless questions . Letting me in on what you put in your bottles. Plus having a 24 hr and another 12 under my belt helps to boost my confidence.

Now I feel like a 6 yr old waiting for Santa. Excited, nervous,and anxious describe some of it. I also expect to be throwing up in my mouth sometime tomorrow, maybe sooner. The 2009 Burnin' was a life changing event . I had not won a race before,stood on a podium, or enjoyed the 15 seconds of fame. That was really cool, but, most importantly I learned that I could do anything I set my mind to. Priceless! I have not been chasing podiums this year. Not my style. I like to push myself when I think there is no more push left in me. Mind over body. I like to be outta my box, outta my comfort zone. Achieve just one more lap than last time. Better my time . Embrace the pain in my body and mind. Beating myself .

I have set a 7 lap goal for myself this year. I had mentioned that to someone and they said" On that?" while pointing to my bike. Of course on that I said. I know that only 2 fellas have done 7 laps on ss at Burnin'. Well, the way I see it, that small club needs a female member . So, why not me? If you see me out there please holler at me to keep pedaling. Until then I will keep wondering " Did I bite off more than I can chew?"

Friday, October 1, 2010


A race is not possible without volunteers. A trail does not get built without volunteers. Team Trail Monster, including Syd, headed out to the Berryman 36 hr Adventure Race this past weekend. We like volunteering for Bonkhard Racing events. Jason and Laura put on a first class race and make sure their help is taken care of. I am glad that Jim and I volunteered at some races before we attempted to race one. Being on the other side has many benefits . You get to witness athletes in their best/worst light. You get to see what kind of gear they carry. What kind of bikes they ride, and shoes they wear. Last, but not least, what they eat.

We got to watch elite athletes, a large group of friends, fellow competitors, and lots of new faces try to win/finish 36 or 12 hours of paddling,trekking, and mountain biking. There were also several mystery events that needed to be completed . Our first CP was at a climbing wall in the middle of the YMCA Trout Lodge. There was also a zip line not far from us. Half of the team had to complete the task. Many people were not excited about the idea. Me in particular. After all the teams were through, I gave it a go. I was successful and in tears by the end. I hope to do it again sometime without the tears.

Around 2 pm we were at our final CP, which was the best CP we could have had. We were the last CP, on the water, less than 5 miles from the finish. We got to see almost everyone in the 12 and all in the 36. WOW. To be able to tell people they are almost there and see sheer joy and smiles is priceless. Just so you know, Cowbells on the river was awesome. Every team that passed expressed thanks. Some teams wanted to stop and hang out with us. We had a great set up. Team Seagal Kona tent was in place, along with our tent and a good sized fire. We sent the last12 hr team down river about 715. I told them to haul ass because rain was headed our way. We did not have cell service, so Jim took our phones for a mile drive to achieve some bars and check on things at home. Wouldnt you know it, several minutes later came the first 36 hr team. It was only 915 and they were not expected for at least another 1-2 hrs. Another 15 minutes passed and another team showed up. It was 1.5 hrs later when the next team was seen. Then about 3 hrs later. This was going to be a long night. We decided to get some sleep, so we built up the fire and hung up the control so the teams could punch their passports. We would hear them coming and would wake up anyway so it worked out well.

What made these people think they could do anything for 12 or 36 hrs? Several racers had chosen this as their first race. They were simply asked to do it and thought why not. I will tell you, you cannot judge a book by its cover at these events. If you do you will be wrong every time. Just because someone looks fit does not mean they are and vice versa. I noticed that those who lacked the fitness made up for it with a great attitude and some mental toughness.

At the end of the day, about 4pm, we headed back to headquarters and got to see the last 36 hr team finish. That was amazing to see. Its hard to stand on the sidelines and watch people do what you really want to be doing. You do get rewarded though. We met a lot of incredible people and had a great time. Remember how I said Jason takes care of its volunteers? Well, when you give your time you get a discount to your race of choice. Knowledge and a discount are hard to top. We also got to pick a prize from the schwag table. Jim picked gaiters and I picked some fleece gloves. They will be perfect for fall/winter riding.

Jake the Snake is in route to the Hub. Timing is kinda bad though. Right now all I can focus on is the Burnin'. Connor received a tune up and is dialed in to attempt and complete 7 laps. Who cares if I cant walk afterwards...