Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gravel On The Mind

I am not going to lie to you....I haven't been able to focus on very much these past few weeks.  As the BIG SHOW gets closer that's all I can think about. To tell you the truth... I am a wee bit nervous about the Dirty Kanza this weekend, don't tell anyone. Returning back to beautiful Emporia I am two for three.  Just thinking about riding my magnificent Kona Jake the Snake for just over 200 gravel miles brings a smile to my face and also a grimace. I know what I will have to do to get to the finish line and look forward to it.  However, every year is a different gravel game. Honestly, it doesn't mean shit that I have finished twice before and I know that.  Finishing one year does not insure you will finish again.  A lot can happen when you ride your bike out in the middle of nowhere for 200 miles. I don't care who you are, this race is not easy and can chew you up and spit you out.  I am fortunate I am not a "wanted man/woman".  My guts are churning just wanting to finish. Obviously I wouldn't have the stomach to be a front runner. I can't imagine the feelings of the podium chasers or those who are trying to defend their spots from last year. All I want to do is FINISH.  If at all possible before midnight would be awesome.

I believe that I have done everything right, everything I needed to do to secure a finish.  I began obsessing about this race about two days after the last one, roughly June 4th 2013.  What could I have done better?  What should I do different in 2014?  Last year was such a whirlwind and my DK experience was incredible even though I did not finish within the 17 hr goal I set for myself.  I may not get 17 hrs or finish by midnight this year but I am gonna give it hell and then some.

My training was anything but stellar.  In fact it started out really rough.  My first four outside training rides ended up with me being picked up and me ripping off my derailleur on the final one. I fought several round of bullshit during the Winter/Spring.  I fought a kidney stone, a real fiesty one at that.  Being on antibiotics for two months did me no favors either.  Those pills tried to suck the life out of me... to no avail.  Going through nearly two months of tooth troubles and rounding out with a broken heart made for a crappy start.  I figure if I can survive all that and come out with a smile I can finish the DK200.

Time to focus on some things I have going for me this year.... I spent most of Winter (we had a LONG one) at the gym.  My son put me through the paces, made me do hard shit, lift heavy stuff, jump high, carry heavy stuff, flip and beat tires, endless squats, lots of get the picture. Along with that I kept my running daily, rode my trainer for some base miles, and became intimate with my foam roller. Again. I ate like I normally do, a vegetarian diet, and added in some supplements from The Supplement Superstore.  Their Level 1 stuff is amazing.  Try the Chocolate Coconut protein powder mixed with vanilla almond milk, it's awesome. Level 1 Ignition, liquid carbs, was an incredible find which I added to my nutrition arsenal. At $16.99 a can it's more affordable than CarboPro at $27 a can, it's the same stuff.   Liquid food is easier to digest than solid food and causes me less stomach distress so it is a win-win. I also learned to nibble on my nutrition instead of devour it.  Taking a small bite every 15 minutes or so has worked well for me. I don't get hungry and my blood sugar doesn't get all wonky either.

One thing I haven't done is look at the weather.  Mother Nature and the weather folks will make you bat shit crazy if you let them.  I plan to look at the weather on Friday morning right before we leave.  I can only hope for a non eventful weather day.  I still have nightmares of the wind and cringe every friggin' time I feel it in my face.  Aaahhhh, the memories.  Honestly, the wind sucked A LOT but riding  with good people helped keep me pedaling.   I even got stuck in my small 26 ring with 100 miles to go and I still would not give up.

No matter what the DK throws at you take it and deal with it.  You get to ride your bike in a beautiful area with like-minded peeps ALL day long. May the wind be at your back, your legs feel strong, and there be beer when you are done.  Good luck!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Hairy Hundred 2014

The Hairy Hundred inaugural ride was held last year about two weeks after Dirty Kanza.  My hubby went solo and had a blast so I put it on my radar to do in 2014. I was happy to see they moved it before DK since  I wasn't able to make Cedar Cross earlier this month. This ride would be my only true test to see what nutrition and bike set up would work for the DK. No worries, I have many long rides under my belt just not on challenging gravel.  I decided I would do my best/push it but allow myself to knock that shit off if I was having a bad day and change my game plan to tipping some beers at the Casey's along the way.  Covered!  Either way I was going to have a kick ass day on the bike.

I don't like to wake up at 4:45 am unless I am doing something fun. Dammit, gravel riding is fun!  Loading the car was quick and efficient since Jim and I decided we pack EVERYTHING the night before.  We each grab one bag, water, coffee, breakfast and are out the door.  Bikes are loaded on top within a couple minutes and we set off on our almost 2 hr drive to Rocheport MO. Whoa, it's a small town.  Think about 200 people, give or take. We landed the Subaru safely between a tree and a church (remember this). Registration was quick and easy and we got a sweet pint glass, perfect since I have more t-shirts than I know what to do with.  I concentrated on what I was putting in my drop bag and what I would carry until mile 57. I brought everything I was taking on my DK mission. Whether I need it or not, it was going along. I had a pack filled with water, extra tube, extra Chamois Butt'r, extra snacks, wind jacket and only God knows at the bottom of the pack. Way overkill for the day I was going to have but necessary to pack along.

I put my number on and headed to the start.  I grab a cue sheet which I am quickly told I "will not need" but I grab two anyway.  I handed one to Jim and then realize I left my pack on the ground back at the car in front of the church.  I ride back and find it exactly where I left it. Whew!  I get back to the finish within a minute or two of starting and we roll out.  I find out that we ride 6 miles on the Katy, no racing until we are off the Katy, and that the race is only 93 miles.  WTF is it called the Hairy Hundred then?  I can't answer that. I settle myself in for the century minus 7 miles.

I picked a great group of cyclists to roll out with, they held a great pace and one saved my ass about two miles in.  Rolling 20 mph on the Katy threw up some rocks and sticks and one wedged in my derailleur.  This could have ended my day if Nick Smith hadn't noticed and pulled it out.  Thanks Nick!  I saw the usual suspects but would not see them for long.  Gravel rides are different adventures for everyone.  Some are just killing it riding balls out and others are struggling doing what they can to keep rolling.  It's a wide variety of folks who do this crazy shit.

Great shot Nicole Stacy.  Like my new kit?

It's very early in the ride and the weather takes a turn.  I was prepared for it to be about 72 since that is what the weather channel said. Wrong. It hits the HIGH 80"s.  Wind was only supposed to be 10 mph or less. Wrong again.  I would say those were easily 20 mph, plus at times, straight in your face. Two things that were going to change my day if I let them.  It wasn't long into the ride and my "old lady bladder" needed some relief, gravel riding is very difficult when you have to pee.  Jim and I are about a dozen miles in and I see the perfect spot. I must really have to go if I am getting undressed on the side of the road.  A group of 15 or so pass me, about six girls, while I pee.  Frustrating.

Without any warning Jim takes off like a rocket.  I let him go and decide to reel him in, use him as my rabbit.  That worked well until I passed him and I don't even know when I passed him. .  Apparently he was off Butt'ring himself and I pedaled right passed him. I reached the first Casey store and asked Joe Perry if he had seen Jim pass.  He said he thought he was behind me but I was sure he was ahead of so we disagreed and rode on together.  Joe was riding his Kona  Major One geared 38x18.  I asked him what in the world he was doing here, this was not his kind of gig.  He said he was wanting to do the Dirty Kanza in 2015. He came to the right place to talk DK.

The gravel roads were beautiful, except for all that FRESH gravel and that ankle deep stuff at the bridge.  Those rocks suck the life outta me.  But I love it and I will come back for more.

Joe and I reach the 57 mile bag drop around 1230, I think if I remember correctly.  I plan on less then 5 minutes and back out.  The restrooms were clean, the volunteer was awesome, and the water was cold. I told Joe to get started without me and he left a minute or two before me.  The road up from the bag drop was a long paved hill that seemed to go on forever. My legs felt good so I charged after Joe.  The wind and the heat had a small effect on my superior attitude. The sun was bright and hotter than expected and I was glad to have remembered to reapply sunscreen.  I still hadn't seen Jim and was kind of worried but not really. He was on a tour of Casey's gas stations in search of the delicious Ice Cold Pabst.  He would be just fine.

I could see Joe in the distance on the road portion but couldn't catch him.  My derailleur had different ideas and wanted my to stay in the small ring. In the distance I could see a three man pack trying to close the gap to Joe and I .  I needed to catch Joe quickly and convince him to work together through this wind.  I finally get next to him and tell him "we have come to far to be passed now, time to put the hammer down".  He gives me a look like he has no hammer and admits the wind is kicking the shit out of him.  I can totally see it but tell him he is doing fine and "single speeders are strong and always have more pedal strokes than they think".  I keep playing with my gears and MAGIC, I slip into the 46 ring where I will stay for the end of this ride.  Joe hops on my wheel and off we go.  The next few miles tick off and we only have one incident.  A small blue truck is gunning its motor behind me and wants to pass.  It's NOT safe as another car is coming at us and there is no shoulder.  I close my eyes and brace/prepare myself for landing in a ditch as the blue truck slams on its brakes. A few minutes after my heart rate returns to normal we are able to discuss it.  We both decide it was good Joe was there as a witness and I breathe a sigh or relief.

We finally reach the Katy and the three man train is nowhere in sight.  At the start of the Katy we see two stopped and changing a flat. We have six miles to go, all flat Katy.  The wind is still blowing in our faces but we manage a great pace to the finish. We were talking about beer and how good it was going to taste, that made us both pedal faster.  According to Joe's Garmin we finished in 6:57:09!  I will take it!

We finish and are visiting with Mickey and Melissa when Michelle comes over and places a fifth of Jack Daniels in my hand.  I said "what is this for" and she said "you got second woman" and I think I said " get the fuck out of here, really".  I stood there holding the bottle and letting it sink in.  Holy shit!  I got a podium.
I was about 30 minutes behind Michelle who took 1st.

This ride was very encouraging since Dirty Kanza is next weekend.  Joe buys me a beer and we reminise about the day while I wait for Jim to finish.  I wanted to get out of my sweaty kit as soon as possible but didn't want to miss Jim finish.

 Let's just say I could have showered and changed while waiting but I didn't.  Jim rolled in about ----- after me with a smile and a beer.
Chatting with the hubby

  While he visited I went to change and get the car.  I forgot where I put the keys so I slid my pack and JD bottle under the car to ride back to get the keys.  I get the bikes and gear loaded and tell Jim it's time to go.  As we are driving past the church I see my pack and JD bottle laying where I left it and three people heading towards it, one is barely 21 and very excited.  I put the car in park in the middle of the street and hopped out to grab it. Karma or God?  Glad I have both in my life.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Meet the Butt'r Babes

An opportunity to guest ride for Chamois Butt'r at the Dirty Kanza was brought to my attention back in early January. The chance to represent Chamois Butt'r doesn't come along everyday since they are an exclusive BOYS club. I often hear them referred to as the Butt'r Boys. Of course I had to throw my hat in, you never know if you don't try.  I am very pleased to announce that myself and three other girls were accepted and will don the noteworthy purple/yellow kit.  In case you haven't heard... CB has come out with a Her Butt'r for the ladies.  I saw it and used it for the first time at last years  DK.  I must admit I was impressed that after 205 miles of ass sanding gravel I did not have a single chafing mark or any discomfort.  My legs hurt like hell but I could sit down with no issues.  Good stuff, get some.

An email came out in February addressed to us ladies and the phrase Butt'r Babes was thrown out, he said he couldn't help himself.  My immediate thought was " great another guy who won't remember my name" LOL.  My husband never calls me Wendy...unless I am in trouble.   It's 'Baby this, baby that", " baby come here or can I ride my bike Baby?"   He is the only person I let call me Baby.  Sorry I digress. I think we all approve of the name so here goes.......

Without any further digressing I would like to introduce you to the Butt'r Babes!

Carrie Sona

 Carrie is from MO, 49 year old wife and mother of  TWO amazing 16 yr old girls.  She is a full time clinical nurse specialist who decided to attempt the Dirty Kanza this past winter.  Carrie had to have reconstructive surgery on her knee in Feb 2013 due to a mountain biking accident.  Her recovery took many months, it's hard to stay still when you are used to being active. Since that time she has not been able to compete at the level necessary to race with her awesome adventure racing team, Team Alpine Shop.  That fact hurt her a lot.  After some serious soul searching and feeling sorry for herself Carrie was able to accept where she was right now and go from there.  When I approached her with the idea to represent Chamois Butt'r  I wasn't sure how she would react.  Carrie had not ridden a single gravel grinder.  Despite that  fact, she accepted.  Over these last few months she has been able to get some gravel riding experience and gain some confidence. However,  as we are about a month out Carrie is honest to share that she is freaking out with self doubt.  I tell her to knock it off, just keep pedaling and I throw in the old  "If I can do it you can do it" phrase. She said " I seriously don't know if I have what it takes to finish before the cut-off.  The time limit has me scared.".  Clearly her and I need to grab a beer and get her head right.  Her plan is simple "keep making little circles and keep pushing to the finish".  That sounds like a solid plan to me.  Carrie will be riding a Salsa Con Crosso that her husband, Jeff, converted for her. He is also doing the 200 for the first time.  Honestly I am not worried about either of them finishing in style with smiles.  Good luck Carrie!

Angela Spellman

Angela is a 49 yr old Mother of two girls: Hayley 16, and Sydney 12, and is a substitute teacher living in Emporia Kansas. She got her first taste of the DK by volunteering in 2011.  She thought it "looked fun" and she signed up the following year.  She made it 160 miles in 2012! She was even more determined to finish last year but  her rear derallieur had other ideas and was ripped off in a hole only 85 miles in.  I saw her disappointment first hand when I finished at 1:30am that morning.  I felt so bad for her.  Two years, solid training and still no finish.  Angela will be the first to tell you she will not be on the front line and if you are looking for her she will be at the back of the pack. She uses riding as a stress reliever and loves to go on adventures. She believes every ride has a story to tell whether it's survival or the amount of cows and snakes she had as obstacles. Angela has the support of her Dad who comes to her rescue and picks her up when necessary and is very vocal she would not be where she is now without the patience and help she found at High Gear Cyclery. She goes on to say she "wouldn't be riding if it wasn't for the kind folks at High Gear."  Angela will be riding her Trek Boone 7 to accomplish this feat.  You know that saying... "Third time's the charm"  I believe in you girl, you totally got this. Good luck Angela!

Karen Borgstedt

Karen is 46 yrs old and an elementary teacher.  She was born and raised in Pueblo Colorado. She has also lived in Hayes, Garden City, Emporia, and Witchita  Kansas.  She said she really enjoyed each place, the people were awesome and each area she lived  had something special to offer. She told me "It's been three years since I moved back to Pueblo to take care of my  father."  Unfortunately he passed away in August of 2013.  Her focus now is "work and FUN"  Most of her fun consists of pedaling one of her bikes, even though she loves them all equally. Karen did her first gravel grinder last fall and realized that she enjoyed the challenge of the gravel centuries so why not step it up by doing the Dirty Kanza.  She will be riding her Trek XO2 with the goal of finishing.  As she put it, "my goal for the DK200 is to finish, be able to drive back to CO, and be productive at work on Monday June 2nd."  There are no guarantees at the DK and furthermore no guarantees of your productiveness afterward. When the going gets tough think of the stories you can tell your students, think of the school bulletin headline  " Teacher Turns Into Badass Gravel Grinder" Good Luck Karen!

Wendy Davis/Sasha  

I am 45 yrs old and a  Mom to Sydney 8 and Trevor 25.  I am a writer, always  looking for a job.  Know anyone? Wife to Jim Davis, if you know him you realize he is a 24/7 job and keeps me busy.  I live in MO and ride my bike as much as possible.  I run errands, ride it LONG, and surprise my daughter for lunch at school. I will be rockin' my magnificent Kona JTS '11.  This will be our fourth DK and quite possibly our best year, I hope.
It's no secret I love riding my bikes and love the DK200.  This ride has gotten under my skin in more ways than one and  I just can't seem get it out of my system.  I was there in 2011 complete with wind, rain, hail and twisters.  Made it 115 miles before having to pull the plug on a muddy B road, yes there were tears.  Coming back in 2012 I had a much better year and  was able to finish the course in just over 19 hours.  I returned again  in 2013 hoping for a better time but Mother Nature thwarted that providing sustained 25mph winds for the last 150 miles and I got stuck in my 26 ring.  I fought like hell and managed a finish after 19 hours and 30 minutes. I had to be happy with that since almost half the field DNF'd.  This year I hope for some tailwinds and a quicker finish.  Before midnight would be awesome but I will take what I can get.  If you see me on course and need some Butt'r just ask, fellas included,  I always have some extras to share. Thanks Chamois Butt'r for this awesome opportunity to represent.   Wish me luck.