Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finally! RACE DAY

Jim took this. Give it a click

As I write this post I am remembering the awesome opportunity Airborne Bicycles gave me. I was there because of them. Ray, Jeremy, Eric and Rick made this a week to remember. I am over my sunburned head, bleached out hair, and done picking sand from between my teeth. It's great to be back in MO. With her.

The night before the race I was up way too late. How was I supposed to sleep knowing that tomorrow at 946 I would be racing in California!?It felt like there was an elephant on my chest - my heart was racing like the cops were after me.I finally fell asleep just before midnight. My last thought was " I hope I don't disappoint anyone".

Marty and Kevin were racing early so we had to meet at 615 in the lobby to head to Laguna Seca. I heard there were 1400 participants signed up to race Sunday. Kevin's race was just before 8. He was nervous, but in a relaxed way. After giving him a loud send off, I walked back to where Marty was staged. If he was nervous, he hid it well. I gave Marty the same loud send off . I would not see either one of them until after my race.

It felt like an out of body experience from here. Wendy checked out. I let Sasha, my alter ego, take over. Sasha is not afraid of anything. The task at hand held several obstacles she would need to overcome.

#1 - The course itself - only 16 miles-it was shorter than any race I'd done in the past 2 years. I did not find this comforting.

#2 The fact that I would have to be "balls out" for this entire race - I do not redline!! NOT EVER. I am a steady, consistent rider. Think the Energizer Bunny, not Speedy Gonzalez.

#3 The actual trail was mostly sand or gravel doubletrack. No rocks or roots anywhere. There were a couple of gnarly descents but no real technical spots. Damn, 'cuz I'm pretty good at rocks, roots, and tech-y stuff.

#4 Add in a new bike with gears! Even though I felt more confident on the Goblin yesterday, I still had only 4 hours to get to know it . Eric and Jeremy both wrenched on it to make sure it was shifting correctly, tires were inflated properly, and the seat height was correct. Thanks fellas.

I did a few miles to warmup. I climbed some hills to get the blood flowing. I got my head right and got ready to lineup.

Once inside the staging area I noticed I was missing a critical piece of gear - my PBR wristband. I bolted back to the tent to get it. I do NOT race without it. Call me superstitious, but I find strength wearing it.

I lined up with the other 21 women, I tried to memorize what they were wearing. All but 1 were from CA. I had my chat with God, which Jim caught on video. Normally I would not share such a private moment, but I figure it was caught on tape for a reason.

Basically I thanked Him for giving me the strength to be there and asked Him to stay with me and keep me safe. There were many places to launch off the mountain and the penalty for error would be huge.

I am not used to starting a race in a pack and redlining before hitting the singletrack. Most races I do we calmly walk to our bikes, since we are going to be riding ALL day. Riding around the track, I could hear Jim above everyone yelling for me. You can imagine that. I was sitting in 5th when we hit the singletrack. I remembered Eric's advice was to stay in the big ring as long as possible and just hammer through the entire race.And," It will be over with before you know it".

FAST Socks!!

By mile 3, I was comfortable. It felt super to pass some of the 30-39 group, they had left 2 minutes before we did. And to catch some of the Clydesdale men, who left 8 minutes before was a great confidence builder. No one gave me any problems when I asked to pass. Most were walking their bikes trying to catch their breath so they just moved out of the way. I passed several people battered and bleeding from knees and elbows. Does sand do that much damage?

Over the weekend I was introduced to NUUN and Honey Stinger Waffles. Awesome stuff I will be adding to my training rides and race day hydration and fuel. If you haven't tried them yet I highly suggest you do.

Remember my "sand is sand" comment? Well a section I did not get to pre ride, was a very steep descent covered with easily 6 inches of sand. As I approached it I saw 3 fellas walking their bikes down it. Actually, their bikes were dragging them down it. I had already committed so I yell "Rider up!" and the 3 guys stopped, turned and looked at me - they didn't move - somehow I snaked through them and only hit one with my left handlebar. At the bottom I breathed a sigh of relief, added some gears, and hauled ass on the pavement. I had sweat running in my eyes as the temperature started to rise. I wished I had my Halo headband I left drying at home. Best $12 I ever spent. And they work!!

When I saw the "white road" I remembered what the coach said - the race would be won here. He was correct. I smiled and dug in. I passed men and women walking their bikes up the hills. I sat and spinned right up them. About a mile out I heard Jim yelling "Come on Biscuit!" He had hijacked a Delta and was waiting near the top of the last climb. Also at the top were two guys with a cooler of PABST!
Are you kidding me??? Perfect timing!!
I welcomed the hand up - took 4 big gulps- and motored to the finish.
Jim took this video

I would have gladly did a 2nd lap blindfolded with one arm tied behind my back to hear that again.I finished 10th and am very proud of it. I don't think I could have done any part of the race any better. My goal was to finish in one piece and not be last. Getting a Top 10 was a bonus.

All in all the Goblin took the beating I gave it. No bike mechanicals. I had one rider error, where I shifted up instead of down. Otherwise it was a perfect race.

I hope to have this opportunity again next year. I will race Cat 2 - the longer course, and possibly Cat 1 if I have a good season and meet the necessary requirements, whatever those are.

The Flight Crew members did fantastic.
Brent competed in the Dual Slalom and got 3rd
Marty got 11th Cross country
Kevin got 7th Cross Country

Monday, April 25, 2011

SEA OTTER Saturday - Day 3

After enjoying another delish hotel breakfast, we pile into our chauffeured van { thanks for driving Eric } and we are headed off to the Sea Otter Classic for Day 3 . I will be dodging Poison Oak today. That stuff is everywhere.

The weather in Cali has been a little of every season, every day. The AM is chilly, afternoons it warms up, and around 4PM the wind starts blowing like crazy.

Jim and I headed out about 1230 so I could pre- ride some of the race course. The pro women were racing so I had to watch. WOW those gals can hammer.

Jim and I happened to meet the area's high school cycling coach, whose 16yr old would be racing on Sunday. He gave me a rundown of the course in a language I could understand. Slow and very descriptive. He gave me tips on riding the sand and informed me of the dangerous spots. As I rode the course I was very thankful I paid close attention. I specifically remembered where he said to stay to the left. Apparently several riders were taken out by ambulance. The coach also said, "the race will be won on the white road" He is referring to the 4 mile climb of gravel to the end - Awesome! As Jim puts it, "thats your forte' baby"

The course was not technical - absolutely no rocks or roots. Lots and Lots of sand. And a vicious amount of Poison oak. Let's not forget.... plenty of climbing -2900 ft to be exact.

It was a better day on the Goblin. The gears are getting easier - well... when I remember to use them. It was frustrating to look down after a climb and see I had one or two left. However, I felt more confident climbing today. I kept repeating "Relax, sit down, be patient, spin " - it worked well.

Jim decided to try something new. He hopped on The Warhawk.It's a full suspension 26r. More details to come.Two hours went by and I needed to get back to the Airborne tent to work. The pro guys were already racing on the course back. We had to stop to let the 1st three waves by and then started the small climb. I look over and I was riding with Tinker Juarez- AWESOME!

Thanks to Jim for slowing his roll so he could get this sweet picture of me climbing the white road. Just so we are clear, pictures do NOT do those hills justice. While riding I thought Dirty Kanza!

I had my pic taken with the Official Sea Otter otter.

We packed the pod and headed back to the hotel. There were so many people there it took 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot. We had a special dinner planned on the Fisherman's Wharf.

Jim had decoded to stay behind at the festival. I left him in good hands, or so I thought. I will leave it to him to tell you how he got to the hotel.

Is that.....

Dinner was bitter sweet. Most of the Flight Crew was leaving early the next day. We had such a short time together since we were all practicing and racing at different times.

This is how things turned out for the Flight Crew members doing the downhill course.
McCall got 8th
Marty got 7th
Dan got 6th with a flat!
Jerry got 13th
Neal got 20th

They all have a lot to be proud of. Kevin, Marty, Brent and I would be racing the next day.

Weeks 5 and 6 of 12

California was a blast, but has really screwed up my training. I was focused and on top of things before I left. Week 6 also suffered while I tried to get back to my life.

Mon - 1 hr boot camp 7.7 miles to and from

Tues- No bike STL airport @ 815 am Finally got to Cali hotel @830pm

Wed- Photo shoot Hill intervals and approx. 5 miles mtb

Thurs- Riding bikes around festival and to and from Pod

Fri- Mtb approx 20 miles

Sat- Mtb approx. 20 miles

Sun- 4 mile warm-up, 16 mi. race- 2.5 hrs

Total of 72+/- miles 9 hours on the bike


Mon- Airplane

Tues- Exhausted

Wed- Road 26 miles 1 hr 46

Thur- Road 16 miles VERY WINDY

Fri- Trainer 15 miles HARD in the BIG ring

Sat - 7 miles Hiking

Sun- OFF

Total bike= 67 miles 3 hrs and 45 mins. with a 7 mi hike

There are only 6 weeks left until DK200. Mentally I am ready for the challenge. I will get my physical "on" this week. How are all of you other DK entrants doing???

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sea Otter - Friday, Day 2

Pretty much a carbon copy of Day One - add the public - and Ray Thomson , VP of Marketing for the Huffy Corp. The members of the Flight Crew were responsible for booth set up and then most of the crew took flight to the downhill course to get some practice in.

McCall, Marty, Dan and Neal lookin' badass!

I stayed at the booth to do my time and then headed out to explore some more. I met SMILEY.

Made a non margarita on this machine.

I felt goosebumps and returned to our tent. Our kits were finally in!!! They were held up in customs for a couple days.
Boy did I feel PAF. Pro As F***! You couldn't beat the smile off my face.

I had planned to pre-ride as much of the course as possible. Some of the course was in use for the pros race, so I wouldn't be able to ride all of it. No worries! Sand is sand right? Remember that statement for my race day blog.

I had 2 days to learn gears before my race on Sunday. Kevin, Greg, Tony,Todd, Jim and I headed out. Unfortunately Jim wrecked going uphill and Todd was kind enough to give him his rear wheel since he bent the skewer. Can you believe that?


Before we got on the course we watched the pros CX race. Very exciting. We were close to the finish line and saw some quick sprints to the end. Todd Wells is a stud!

The hills were magnificent. It took me awhile to get comfortable riding in sand - there was a ton! Plus, the tires on the Goblin were Kenda small block 8's. Even though I have a set, and have used them, I like my big knobby tires and feel more comfortable on them. I felt like I was sliding out , but realized later it wasn't the tires. It was me. I had to sit down more instead of standing all the time.

The gears were a challenge too. I had to keep reminding myself to use them. Had I really gotten lazy being a single-speeder? Riding the hills was different also - sit and spin instead of stand and mash. Damn, that means I need to be patient. That's not going to be easy to change. I see hills and want to attack them, not sit and spin. After this ride I am not sure if I am going to like this geared thing .

Jim crushin' it on a Goblin

We had dinner that night on Fisherman's Wharf.

I shared this delicious plate of Sushi with Ray while we talked about bikes and our kids.
California knows Sushi. It was mind blowing.

The two larger photos were taken by Jerry Hazard ,Flight Crew member and pro photog. Thanks Jerry

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sea Otter - Thursday, Day One

Up at 515, Breakfast at 630 in our beautiful hotel. Then a short drive to Laguna Seca Raceway, my home for the next 4 days. We had to move all the bikes, about 25, from the "pod" to our tent area. With 15 of us it was a quick setup and then we got to walk around and see the other booths. First celeb I met was Sonya Looney

It was "industry day," the public would be there tomorrow. It was awesome to walk and talk with the other vendors about their products. There was excitement in the air and like-minded peeps everywhere. As I gathered my first bag of goodies, I wondered how I was going to get all this schwag home. The fellas below were handing out Big Air!!

I met these three sisters. They are the future of women's cycling. They are 11,14 and 17. I am sure in a few years they will be signing autographs at SEA OTTER.

I did get to meet Rebecca R, Krista Park, Heather Irmiger and several other pro women at the Ladies Lounge. From 2 til 4 they had a spread of fruit and cheese/stuffed mushrooms, wine, and Sierra Nevada to enjoy while we talked bikes - It was absolutely electric, it was girl power!

Also met and had a beer with Barry Wicks in the Kona tent - it's ok to be jealous.

Tear down was at 5PM - put the bikes back in the "pod," pile in the van, and head back to get cleaned up for a Mexican dinner.
Exhausted, I fell into bed with my mind racing. The 2 hour time difference was going to be a problem.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sweet Airborne Gear

This was my work shirt. Only the crew got two of these.

This hoodie kept me so warm. California weather changes in an instant. So glad I got one.


DH jersey. I may not be a downhiller but I plan on wearing this quite a bit with the North Face Baggie shorts Jim won for me.

My new kit! I couldn't convince anyone in the ladies room to hoist me on their shoulders to see how I looked. Luckily Ray said " you look great in that kit" so I had no worries.

THE JACKET!!! This is so awesome I want to wear it everywhere.

If you can get past looking at that beautiful green machine, I am wearing my new kit.