Friday, June 29, 2012

Riding Dirty, Sweaty, and Nakey

***** Notice!  You must be at least 18 to read this post.  If you are not of legal age, go somewhere else. Always remember, you don't have to read it.  Feel free to stop if you get bored or offended*******


I was thrilled to have scored a sitter for this past Thursday.  Who knew it would be the hottest fuggin' day of the year, EVER.  Missouri now has a new record for June 28th, it was 108 degrees.  I know now what it feels like to cook from the inside, similar to being in a microwave.   As I stood in Lost Valley's parking lot, I admitted to myself  that this ride was wrong on so many levels. Even so, today was going to be my first day O'dirt with my new Kona Big Unit.  I had him geared at 32x19, my favorite set up for this trail.

  He is not "blinged out" as I would prefer, it's nothing that a can of white spray paint won't fix.  I would like some white bars, white saddle, white cranks, and a white seat post.  So, drop me an email if you have any of that laying around and want to part with it.  Sorry, I digress.

One minute into my ride, I had sweat rolling like a river down my back.  Riding today was NOT a good idea. ( Now in a whining voice say)  " But, I wanna ride my bike today".  Most of the stars were in alignment, and I have been a good girl.  I was not going to let a little heat take away the good dirt lovin' time I was about to have.  I have been waiting for this all week.

  I was not being greedy.  I just wanted to get in a couple hours, a couple laps.  I have been on my cross bike too long. I wanted to play in the rocky areas, rip around a bit, and regain some confidence.  Speaking of rocks, WHOA there is a lot of rocks out there.   My Velocity Blunt SL's, tubeless baby, rolled right over, barely touching them. As a single speeder, it is imperative for me to keep my momentum. Those Velocity wheels are so amazing I barely have to pedal. 

By the time I was standing at the top of the downhill in, I reluctantly conceded that I would never be able to complete my goal of two laps.  I toyed with heading back to the car, head home, and hop on my fantastic trainer and be pissy the rest of the day. OR... I could just pedal until I couldn't pedal any more.  After all, I did have my helmet on in case I passed out and fell over.

First thing I noticed, a 32x20 would have been a better gear selection.  I had a 60oz. camelbak filled with ice and water on my back and a 24oz insulated bottle filled with ice and Gatorade.  That would be plenty of fluids, right?  Wow it's scorching, Crazy hot! I tell myself that I will be content to complete one lap. Today's weather felt like the DK should have.  

When temps reach this high, it takes a lot of energy for your body to just cool itself.  That means your pedaling will suffer, greatly.  I don't mind the sweating, as long as it stays out of my eyes.  The Halo works very well, and I had a Buff on to keep my head cool.  Breathing in hot, dusty air ( which has me coughing as I write this ) is not how I like to roll.  I start taking small sips of water every few minutes and indulge in the Gatorade when I stopped for breaks.  By mile five, I texted my hubby to let him know I was slowly dying out there, but would make it out alive. This was harder than I thought.   Other than that, I was having fun getting to know my Big Unit.

 Anyway, I hop on Face Book to report that it's incredibly hot, and that " It may be safe to ride naked in the woods.  I am the only one here".  Of course, I was the only one there.  Who else would be that foolishly insane?  What the hell was I doing out there?  I lay blame on being Irish/German and very stubborn.  Immediately after hitting send, I laid my bike against a tree and removed my helmet.

  I was soaked.  Clearly I was experiencing some form of heatstroke because I was actually toying with the idea of peeling off my clothes and continuing my ride.  I took off my jersey first.  AAAAHHHHH.  Much better.  I will ride sans jersey.  Out of nowhere, a little devil hopped on my left shoulder and said   " gone on, take 'em all off ".  Mind you, there is no one out here.  If by chance there is, I will deny everything and quickly ride away.  I took off my bike shorts and my sport bra.  I am really gonna do this.  Yay me.  I am glad there was not an audience, I have led a sheltered life and never ridden a bike naked. 

Bike is sweating

After securing my drenched kit on the bars, I replaced my helmet and was off.  I know, what a sight.  A perfectly sane 43 year old wife and mother riding her birthday present in her birthday suit.  It felt so incredible to be free and not really give a crap what anyone would think.   I quickly ascertained that a sweaty rear slides right off the saddle.  So, I had to put my shorts back on.  Boo, hiss.  No biggie, it was still cool to be " free- boobin' " down the trail.  I will caution those chica's who want to experience this first hand....  be prepared to see your boobs do some amazing tricks.  It's quite hysterical.  They truly have a mind of their own.  If you are large breasted, you may want to re-think this.  Trust me... you WILL get hit in the face.


Suzanne R. said it best, " How liberating".  Yeah, it was all that and more.  There was no one to stop me.  Would I have listened?  Probably not.  I mean, why the heck not?  We only live once. If you do it correctly, you will die a happy person.  I plan on dying a happy person.  No regrets.

The trail was, as expected, blisteringly dry, seriously loose, wicked dusty, etc.... By the grace of God, I finally reached the bottom of the climb out.  That left a mile or so to the car.  I so got this.  I put on my bra and jersey, they were bone dry. Extremely hot, but dry.  I hopped upon the Big Unit and started the climb.  Under normal circumstances, I would not have struggled.  Less than half way, I decided " screw this " and walked the remainder.  I reached the top and headed to the lot. I was exhausted and less than satisfied with the mileage. Notwithstanding, I rode my bike naked. Check that off my To Do list.  Within a couple minutes, I pass a lone ranger, outfitted entirely in black headed for the trail.   If he had been ten minutes earlier, he would have had a helluva story to tell his buddies. Would they have believed him? 

Reward time!

The morale of this story is to seize the moment.  Live your life.   Ride a bike naked, you won't regret it.  And everything is going to be OK.

I promise,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Riding My Ass Off : The Dirty Kanza 2012


   My heart was already beating a mile a minute when I woke up at 4am on race day Saturday. I have waited patiently for 362 days to return to Kansas and exact my revenge on The Dirty Kanza 200 course.
 It's here.  It's finally here. What happened last year doesn't matter.   The training was complete, the nutrition figured out, and my weapon was chosen.  I can do this.  I believe.

My Magnificent Machine

I chose my Kona Jake the Snake -2011- to complete the task at hand.  I accessorized him with a set of white Velocity A23's - pro build-, and added a mountain feed bag and a tangle frame bag.  By putting those items on my bike, I would not have to carry anything on my back.  The longest ride we had seen was about 115 miles, Cedar Cross was an excellent training ride. I was rolling some CST servant tires, hoping they served me well since they cost about $15 online. No worries, changing a tire was probably going to be the least of my problems throughout the day anyway.

Thought for next year
Jim and I were in downtown Emporia by 530am.  The line up process had already started.  There was a team a of roller derby girls hold signs designating where you should stage yourself according to the time you would finish.  The last sign said 18hrs, I put myself right there. I was able to find some of Missouri's finest cyclists and wish them good luck.  One minute before the start, my husband Jim kissed me and said " Have fun".  We were on solo missions, we would not be riding together.  I said " See ya later, like in a day".  He rolled off as I closed my eyes to pray for safety and strength from Above, and picture Carrie Sona say " I am just going to do my best".  In that same moment I thought, " my best had better good enough or I am not leaving Kansas".

Leg 1  Emporia to Cassoday KS = 61.7 miles

It was quite odd starting a race in June with arm warmers and gloves on, it was only 52 degrees.  I like the feel of my Lizard Skins bar tape, and was glad to have warmed up quickly and be able to shed the gloves a couple miles in.  One by one, the miles ticked off while I tried to get comfortable with my surroundings.  It was going to be a long day in the saddle. I was on a mission, to finish.  This was going to be my ride, by my rules.  I was not going to draft off of anyone and they were not going to use me.  I was determined to complete this race entirely under my own power.

Mile ten was a turning point, a turning point into a sucky direction.  I felt like shit and with each pedal stroke a bit worse.  My stomach was not happy.  I needed to throw up, but I don't do that.  I kept on pedaling, trying to puke.  I thought that if I stayed moving I would surely get sick.  I could hurl and then just pedal away from it.  By mile 50, I caught up to my husband.  I still am holding on to my vomit though.  We rolled into CHP 1 about 11am.  An hour later than I would have liked.  Given the way I felt, it was time to put Plan B into effect.  H.T.F.U.  

Great shot from UltraRacePics. Must purchase!

Emma, my one woman support crew, refilled my bladder and bottles while I drank some Campbells chicken noodle soup straight from the can.  Good stuff, this will either make me all better OR give me something to throw up.  I changed out of my black jersey into my white one, as the temperature was on the rise to the high 80's.  With a new attitude, I left that checkpoint within 15 minutes.  Looking back, that pit time was perfect.

Leg 2  Cassoday to Florence KS = 44 miles

My plan was to make my pit stops quicker than last year, and recover on the bike.  I knew I was moving too slow to warrant a longer break.  I didn't mind, I work better if I stay consistent and just keep moving. It was unfortunate that I had to put on a hydrapack for this section, at least it was a short leg.    The tangle frame bag was not working for me.  My legs kept rubbing it and I had to pedal with my legs a bit wider, which caused some crazy knee pain.  The knee pain and this stomach nonsense would not stop me.  Can't Quit. Not Dead Yet.

That's me dropping Jim

I played my 'fake it 'til you make it' card, hoping that reverse psychology would trick me into feeling better.  This gravel leg went by fast, even though I was alone most of the ride.  I did not get to toss my cookies, but was feeling slightly better by mid afternoon.  I passed several riders repairing flats and one single-speeder with a broken chain.  I offered an extra link I had, which wasn't needed as a fella in an American flag jersey rolled up and took control.  I also passed a handful of cyclists waiting for their crew to pick them up. Despite their day being over, everyone was all smiles.  This is one tough race.

I arrived at CHP2 around 3pm.  Yes!  Last year, it was just after 4pm.  This improvement over my time from last year lifted my spirits greatly.  I was back on the bike in 13 minutes, thanks to Emma's speed and organization skills.  She was aware how important this day was to me and was going to make sure that nothing got in my way.  As I headed out on leg 3, I looked up into the clear blue sky, at the fluffy white clouds and asked Mother Nature to behave herself.  I have been stroking that bitches ego all year long.  You can thank me for the weather.

Awesome way to carry two tubes.  Backcountry Research  

Leg 3  Florence to Council Grove KS = 59.5 miles

 It was on this leg, mile 110, when all hell broke loose.  Crazy wind, rain, hail, and some funnel clouds.  Today, the weather was as calm as it could be.  As I reached the exact spot my race had ended last year, I treated myself to some music.  Queen's We Will Rock You blared into my ears.  Yes, it was a sign.  After an hour, I removed my Polk 100's headphones, preferring the sound of gravel again.  My music did not come out again.

I met a guy named Chad, 25, from Chicago Il on this section.  I begged him to talk to me.  He told me he had been wanting to do this race for three years. He missed registration, got married , and broke an arm.  All some great excuses, ha ha.  I shared my story with him, coming from 220lbs to today's endurance event.   He reminded me of my 23yr old son, a spark in his eyes and the energy to get it done.  He was stopping for food every hour, which explained why we kept seeing each other.  His pace was faster than mine, I had to let him go.

This leg of the course was the hardest, in my opinion.  There was some techy stuff, bigger rocks, and longer climbs.  Having a century on the legs before reaching this point made for some slow pedaling.  I came close to running out of water, about 15 miles from the next CHP.   When I get low on water I go into panic mode.  I start hyperventilating and picture myself shriveling into a raisin.  There were a few houses to get water at, and then there were NO houses.  Shit, I should have stopped at the yellow house.

Who gave me this?

At mile 155, a gravel angel appeared to me.  He was riding by when he saw the "I am low on H20" frantic look in my eyes.  He handed me a 24oz bottle of fresh water.  It was even cold.  If you are reading this... Thank You!  Your extra water saved my ass and I greatly appreciate it.  Your kindness enabled me to reach CHP 4 with one swallow left.

Gravel dust flavored

Leg 4  Council Grove to Emporia KS = 37 miles

New battle scars.  Well deserved.

It was about 8pm as I rolled in at Council Grove.  "This is the furthest I have ever ridden my bike",  I yelled at the volunteer who handed me my final map. He is just lucky I didn't hop off to hug and kiss him.  I was so happy to finally be there.   I was riding on sheer adrenaline now. Hell, I could walk 37 miles if I had to, right?  I appeared a little wild-eyed to Emma, telling her to spit in my mouth, slap me and give me a push back on course.  Luckily, Emma knew the code I was speaking in.  She took the tangle bag off and replaced it with two 24oz bottles in the cages.  This was a short leg, I was not taking a pack. Someone shoved some PayDay 's in my pockets and I was off.  I did not want to be alone in the dark, so I left behind a group of eight.  The last thing I wanted was to be alone and possibly lost on the dark gravel roads in Kansas.  Call me a puss, I dare you.

I had lost my ability to shift into my big 46 ring on the last leg.  In retrospect, I am glad to have been stuck in the smaller 36 ring, as the bigger ring would have probably ripped my legs off.  I had heard there were a few good sized hills left.   Hopefully, a few rippin' fast, mile long downhills too.

Chad reappeared a few miles in, and I met Dan from Columbia, MO.  Small world, with me in O'fallon, MO just 90 miles away.  Dan, Chad and I were riding the same pace and getting along nicely, so we decided to stay together until the bitter end. Those two were great company to have the last few hours of a very long day.  Great attitudes and good stories make pedaling much easier.

At mile 199, we were following another rider, who was unknowingly off course.  Realizing the mistake, we back tracked a mile plus to get back on the correct route to the finish line.  It was a bit bizarre to feel both elated to have this shit almost over, and at the same time never want to reach the finish line. All three of us crossed the finish line at 1:03am.  We had spent just over 19hours in the saddle.  It was awesome to ride in with a large group still cheering at the finish line.

 Kristi gave me a hug, Eric Benjamin, aka the Adventure Monkey, shook my hand and Jim Cummins handed me THE pint glass with a DK200 sticker inside.  Hellyeah, I did it!  Since my hubby finished 15 minutes later, I reached my other goal, by being the first member of Team Seagal to complete this ride.

Beer DOES taste better out of this glass

It was a helluva day on the bike.  I honestly feel like I owe Mr. Cummins some more money for all the painful fun I had.  This is a stellar event, put together by an awesome group of people.  Definitely put it on your calendar for next year.

ALL the maps

I completed my first recovery ride a few days ago. my legs felt good, my behind , not so good.  The saddle I used came with the Kona, and was certainly not made to be comfy for 200 miles.  I carefully disrobed, peeling the bibs off carefully.  What the hell is that in my chamois?  Upon closer inspection.... its skin.  My skin, off of my rear.  No kidding.  Little by little I removed excess skin.  Huh, I truly did ride my some off my ass off in Kansas.  Not nearly enough, I will be back.

Wild-eyed , Crazy and Done

****  Those tires were bomb proof.  No flats!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dirty Kanza Teaser

The dust has finally beginning to settle on my experience at the Dirty Kanza.  My brain is starting to emerge from its mashed potato state and I am able to form full sentences.  I had such a blast riding Kansas gravel and meeting new friends as we pedaled to the finish line.

We're back!

There was a noticeable change in my heart rate as we got closer to Kansas.  I could feel my chest tighten, had to remind myself to breathe several times.  After having put so much time, energy, and money into this race, it was normal for me to feel a little anxious.  That's just how I get when I am excited, I guess.

Stage of tables to make registering a breeze

We arrived in Kansas around 2pm, after a 5 1/2 hour drive.  By 2:30, Jim and I were enjoying a delish gourmet veggie pizza at Wheat State Pizza.  Thanks Kristi for the great recommendation.  At 3pm, we were registering with ease at the Emporia Granada Theatre, where the race would start and end the following day.  While signing our waivers and getting our numbers, we were able to meet the race directors, Kristi and Tim Mohn and THE Jim Cummins.  It was nice to see Eric Benjamin, the Adventure Monkey, all smiles, even though he was unable to ride due to having heart surgery.  Talk abut Superior Attitude, Eric has it.  We visited with several of our friends from back home and connected with our support crew, Emma, of Team Orange Lederhosen fame.

Yarn bike sighting

 Never forget how much your significant other contributes to your successes. Failures, however, are owned completely by oneself.

I found that quote on FaceBook, courtesy of Chris Cleeland.  It says so much.  Thank you Jim, for setting me up for success with a fantastic KONA and supporting me financially and mentally.  Thank you Emma, for being an amazing woman and helping me stay focused, fed and hydrated in order to complete my goal.  You were awesome.  What are you doing in October?

Cool pianos were everywhere

I definitely got my moneys worth from the Dirty Kanza.  I had been asked in April to write for the special DK magazine, was given advertising space in said mag and put on a trading card.  Can you say " Dream come true "!  I know what a rock star feels like.  Thank you to those who made me feel so special asking for autographs.  No worries, it hasn't gone to my head.    

My ad

After checking into our hotel, time seemed to fly by.  We attended the racer meeting at 7pm, the theater jam-packed with over 400 racers and their families.  You could not ignore the electric excitement around you, nor the emotional tone the meeting took when Eric took stage to speak, and when a  representative from the Pablove Foundation spoke of their plight  " to fund pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment, educate and empower cancer families, and improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music and arts programs."   ( Quote taken from Eric's donation page ) After hearing these speeches, it was hard to feel sorry for yourself.

The meeting let out and we headed back to our hotel for some last minute bike checks and gear organizing.  We both had our gear separated in totes and ready to turn over to Emma before going to bed.  We dropped by her hotel at 9:30. That would be a lot easier than trying to find her in the morning.

Jim and the map

Throughout the day, Friday, I received many 'kick ass' wishes, that fed my confidence.  Thank you!  Scooter, can you explain " Buck the tiger"?  Knowing there were so many people rooting for me helped me push through some crazy stuff out there.  

Finally laying in bed, at 11pm, I felt like I was going to explode.  I told EVERYONE I planned on crushing this ride. What did I do that for?  I wrote about this race on my blog, over and over. Crap, can I really do this?  I informed my teammates, one by one, that I was going to be the first Team Seagal member to cross the finish line.  ** That was huge since I am the only chica on the team**  Shit, now I had to do it.  I had also put myself out there in the DK magazine article I wrote.  Basically, I was not leaving Kansas until I had gotten my revenge over being robbed last year.

Pabst enjoyment at the meeting
My husband told me he knew I had it in me, physically and mentally.  He watched me bust my ass with 8 solid weeks of Insanity, watched me run every morning, and saw me log as many miles as my Mom schedule would allow.  He said it was time to pedal and smile.  I could do that.  The last thought I had before drifting off was.... " Time to nut up and shut up"!  This was not a race for me. There would be no dreams of a podium, just a finish.  This was going to be my longest ride to a Pabst.

Reporting for duty

Up next.... 19hrs of Dirty Kanza