Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kids mountain bikes for Christmas! Oh and I *accidently* joined a team...

I mentioned previously that I was shopping for kids mountain bikes for the girls.  I even made a fun Pinterest board on the subject.  I ended up picking up a used 20" Trek MT60 for my 6 year old from a friend.  It's not the best (heavy, barely functioning coil shock) but it was $75 and buying two new bikes at the same time was kind of scary.  If it doesn't fit our needs, we'll upgrade later.  So with hers out of the way I moved on to buying a nice bike for my 8 year old, something that will be eventually passed down to all 3 of the kids.

If money were no object, and if it would have been available by Christmas, the $1700 Transition Ripcord is super awesome. Full suspension, 1x9 gearing, hydraulic brakes, Sram components.  And Pedal Pushers, the shop we (ahem, I'll explain later) race for is a Transition dealer.  But yeah, wasn't going to happen by Christmas and Santa just can't leave I.O.U.s.   Pedal Pushers did have a lot of the Konas and Scott kids bike in stock just not with the features we wanted.

2nd in the "if money were no object" category, the $1700 Trailcraft Pineridge. This one is super cool because it's a new start up Colorado company and they seemed to have taken everything into consideration including designing a new better fitting kids' frame with a shorter chain stay, crank arms, etc.  And it comes in purple, my favorite.

Moving onto bikes we actually could justify spending the money on, we *almost* went with the $650 2015 Marin Bayview Disc.  Hydraulic disc brakes, shorter chain stay, but a coil shock and not going to be in stock until April.

And that brings me to the bike we actually bought.  The Giant XTC SL Jr 24.  $650 MSRP, but Peak Cycles had it IN STOCK right now, before Christmas for $599.  It has hydraulic disc brakes, a front air shock, and Shimano components. It is a 3x8 which is a little silly for an 8 year old but the husband might convert it to a 1x8.

So yeah, super excited.  It's going to be a bike-centric Christmas.  Everyone is also getting bike streamers for the handlebars and bike lights in their stocking and even little kid sized bike shorts with chamois

But yeah, then there is the small matter of me "accidentally" joining Jeremy's bike team, Pedal Pushers Racing.  They had their year end party and I had some wine and decided to give it a try.  They need help with their facebook, and their webpage (no one raised their hand for basic HTML knowledge).  I just got a new camera and it'd be fun to try and take action shots.  Finally, like I mentioned before, I think more women should MTB and race, and how can I have that opinion unless I do it myself?  The Dirt Divas are still awesome, but I hate to see the "shop teams" that appear to be men only, just because they happen to have zero women.  I don't think total segregation of the sexes does much for "the cause" or whatever.  Plus there's the added benefit of seeing my husband a little more, maybe (and I do still actually like him even after 10 years of marriage, most of the time anyway).  Lastly, I have a Scott Spark, which I love, and Scott is a team sponsor, so I'm already set there.  So, I guess I'll give it a try.  Except I'm really slow.  Have I mentioned I'm really slow yet today?  Yeah, I'm really slow.  Oh well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We need more women racing! But not me?

So it's fall already.  I haven't done a blog post since June.  I also didn't do anymore bike races.  I wasn't terribly excited about it and nothing really fit my (and my family's) schedule.  The husband had a good race season, did the Brec Epic (6 days!) and the Park City Point to Point (in addition to about ::Dr. Evil voice:: 1 mill-ion other races, totally over scheduled himself this year).
I have been trying to ride at least once a week and try to improve my skills and my fitness.  I went on a Ladies ride with Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA) which was fun, but I was the slowest on that group.  We went up North Table Mountain on a route I've never taken which has 13 switchbacks!  I made most on the uphill but then started freaking out and walking on the down.  Eventually I started making the right hand downhill switch backs but not the left (call me Zoolander).  Finally at the very bottom I attempted a left and fell, scrapping up my left leg and smashing the clip on my new shoes!  But then I attempted the next left and actually made it!  So yeah!  Improvement.

The next week I tried to go back and make myself practice those damn switchback (I had even read articles telling me how to do them better).  I decided it would be a brilliant idea to go "warm up" on the little pump track (Golden Bike Park) near the parking lot since there isn't much of a space on the actual trail before you start climbing.  I'd never done a pump track before.  Never done jumps, only done a few bank curves.  This was an awesome idea.  And yeah.  Landed on my face after hitting a jump I didn't see. I'm awesome at mountain biking.  Some nice road rash (trail rash?) on my face, sore shoulders, hands, wrists, and ribs.  Awesome and oh so pretty.  (We went to a concert the next day and the lady selling us a beer stared at me for a while then asked "Go over the handlebars?")

And, also, going on a mountain biking trip with the Dirt Divas this weekend.  They (we?) go on a few trips a year but I've never been able to make one due to the husband's work schedule.  Finally going.  Super excited.  Although still slow.

So yeah, why did I come back to this blog?  This blog I started about racing mountain bikes when I only did 2 races?  Well for some reason I've started thinking about next summer.

Did you know there were less than 20 women who finished the Park City Point to Point?  And over 250 men?  That includes the pro women too.  That's just crazy.  Now Park City is a very hard race, Jeremy said it was the hardest he'd ever done and he's done some hard races, but that's a crazy small percentage (and they have equal payouts to men and women, which is another issue in women's racing).  Also, I've been reading about the Amy D. Foundation, in honor of Amy Dombroski, a cyclocross racer who died last year.  They are trying to encourage more young women into cycling.

Next, I have my own daughters who are now 6 and 8.  We took them to the COMBA Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day and at least the little one loved it (the older one liked it but had a couple of crashes).  I've been shopping for kids mountain bikes and the majority out there are 30lb behemoths with shocks that barely compress when I push on them at 160lbs (I might make a separate post on this subject when I complete my research).  How does that encourage kids into biking?  That would be like me trying to ride a 75lb bike (but then again do I really want to spend a lot of money on a bike for a kid who might decide she hates it in a year).

I also ran across this Women's MTB Blog on IMBA that speculated that maybe if we get more "real women" stories out there, the sport might draw more real women.  I want to see more women in cycling, mountain biking and yes, mountain bike racing.  The percentages are tiny, when 20% marks a "good" turn out.   

But that brings me back to me.  How can I push my kids and random other people of my gender into this sport when I don't do it myself?  So here I am.  Back to "What me?  Race mountain bikes?  But I'm really slow."  I don't know how many races I'll do, or which ones, or if I'll join a team, or what exactly but I'm going to try again.  I might avoid the lap style races since getting passed constantly is no fun. I'll look into the Winter Park ones again maybe.  Or who knows.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Yeti Beti Race Report!

So it's been a while since I posted here.  Haven't been riding much either.  It's been raining a LOT and my drive kind of fizzeled after Battle the Bear, but the Beti Bike Bash was yesterday and I did it anyway.

But wait, let me back track a little.  Wednesday, Nancy from the Dirt Divas finished my bike fit since my new stem and my orthotics came in from Jinji Cycles.  We put some pretty big arch supports in but my knees no longer come in on each pedal stroke which I think is a really good thing  We switched the 80mm stem for the 65mm stem.  I also got new Ergon grips but I haven't put those on yet.  They are green to match my bike.

That evening I went for my first Dirt Divas social ride of the year at Marshal Mesa in Boulder.  I wasn't one of the very slowest this time!  For the past 2 years I always have been.  This time I kept up with the medium group.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I AM getting better at this whole mountain biking thing

Alright, so back to the Beti Bikebash.  Jeremy (the husband) had to work.  I had decided to do the Beginner's race, which was only 8 miles even though I wanted to do the longer 12 mile Sport because the Sport overlapped with the kids race.  Skyla had really enjoyed it at Battle the Bear, and I wanted to give Arianna another chance at it.  I was going to have my dad help with the kids but then he had to go to Utah for the funeral of one of his uncles (who passed at 94).  I then called our 14 year old babysitter and made arrangements for her to come over Saturday morning.  Yeah.  The race was Sunday.  I realized my mistake the next day and had to call and cancel (she's LDS).  After freaking out for a bit, I called my good friend Kortney and she said she could help me out.  She met us all at the race at 7:30am so the kids could watch me.

Now the Dirt Divas have a race team as well as a social club.  I am not part of the race team, just the social club. I didn't order a new jersey this year either.  But Nancy had invited me to come hang out at the team tent (not sure if she realized the circus would be coming along however) so I wore last year's jersey.  When I asked if it was alright to wear it, she said sure, but that she had extras of the new ones I could buy and the new ones are super pretty, so I did.

So anyway, the race.  The Beginners started at 8am, with the Never Evers starting a few minutes later.  My age group alone was 26 ladies with 6 Dirt Divas!  And that was just the Beginners.  I ended up kind of in the back of the pack.  Passed a few people before the first climb (including one of the other Dirt Divas who raced it on a Fat Bike wearing a tutu, when she's probably not even 5ft tall, awesome).  A few people had to walk the first short climb which was very different from the other race I did.  More ladies walked the 2nd, one right in front of me.  I had to stop and really wanted to get pedaling again, which took me a few tries and a few shouts of "I want to pedal it!" to get people out of my way.  This is my "home park".  I've gone up these hills literally 10 times this year (I know, Strava told me so).  I know I can climb these hills.  Passed a few people there.  So first lap, 4 miles, 21.5 minutes, 11.2 mph average speed.  Yup.  11.2mph.  Remember how hard I was working for 10mph?

On to lap 2.  Passed a few more ladies on the flats.  Started to get passed by a few ladies from the older age groups who started behind me (but this was the first time I got passed, which was nice).  Got back to the first steep climb, which had been washed out a bit recently, parts of it in a nice deep V instead of a relatively thick single track.  Suddenly I had a hard time staying in the bottom of the V, and fell.  I just fell going up hill on a hill I've climbed 10 times this year.  A few more people passed me.  I got pedaling again, made it up and down, then around to the next climb, which I made it up.  Then going down the next hill there was a girl down.  I slowed down and suddenly fell for no apparent reason.  Got back up, had to take a sharp right at the bottom and really had to slow down to get control and not fall again.  I apologized to the woman behind me and let her pass.  Then realized what was happening.  My front tire was flat.  I don't have tubless but I have Orange Seal in my tubes.  I stopped, tried to throw a bit of air in it, but didn't want to spend a whole lot of time pumping up 29" tires.  Tried to ride but just had no control.  I walked it up the big gravel hill that led to the finish (taking 3.5 minutes instead of the 1.5 it took me the first lap).  At the top of the hill I decided to stop and put more air in it so I could ride through the finish.  49 minutes total.  22.5 minutes first lap.  27 minutes 2nd lap.

So, I was disappointed.  Looking back I should have tried to fill it up as much as possible the first stop.  It might have sealed back up and been good to go.  Probably wouldn't have taken me the 5 minutes to fill it that it cost me to but a little bit of air in it, walk, and then but more air in it.  Oh well.  Getting flats is part of racing and riding I guess.  I finished 24 of 26, might have finished around 12th.

The kids did the kids race (Kortney had to take off after my race), which was just a little circle in the weeds (not sure how any of the kids made it out without flats but I guess those super heavy kids tires are pretty tough) about 100m.  There was no one there to start it officially so the kids just rode around in circles for a while before the parents decided to organize an official start.  A gal showed up with ribbons for them all at the end which said "If you had fun, you won" which was pretty cool.  Skyla did 14 laps, and Arianna did 12.  Declan DNFed...  got pouty and said he wanted a bike with pedals, which he can't ride yet.

We stayed a bit longer than originally planned so I could be a part of the big Dirt Divas photo (we had a woman racing expert).  We got to watch the pro women race.  Those ladies do like 12 minute laps around that course and 5 of them!  Skyla took some interest in a summer mountain biking girls camp, so now we've started looking at real geared mountain bikes for her and Arianna.

Unfortunately we stayed about 10 minutes past Declan's threshold for good behavior and he had a epic melt down on the way to the car (these instances are where I am glad Striders only weigh 8lbs).  The girls did a really good job riding their bikes down some of the hills on the dirt.  The other Dirt Divas were awesome about the kids, very understanding, there were several other kids there too (however most of their fathers were there to help).  Sometimes at Jeremy's races I think people just wonder why I bring them (or even birthed them to begin with), so an all women's event was pretty nice in that aspect too.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bike Fit and Axelove

So I did a bike fit with Nancy from the Dirt Divas Wednesday.  Apparently:
  • My seat was too high
    My seat was too far back
    My cleats were too far back on my shoes 
  • My stem is too long causing me to have to force myself to keep my elbows bent. A short stem will but me in the correct position naturally.
  • A wider handlebar would be good.
  • I need orthotics for my feet because my knees come in on my pedal stroke. I also need a different level of support on each foot because my arch is flatter on my left foot.

Also, my right femur is slightly longer than my left, so currently the seat is adjusted to the left but we can switch it to fit the right if we need.

Interesting.  She ordered a new stem and the orthotics for me.  When they get in, we'll see how big of a difference all those little changes make.

Also, got a pro-pic from the race!  I look serious.  I had to check the other pictures to make sure the other people were standing up on that little tiny hill and they were, so that's good.

Also, on a sadder note I came across a blog yesterday that really touched my heart.  A link was shared by MTBR4Her, who I follow on facebook.  It was a link to the PedalAdventrues blog, which apparently used to be Velomon.  The woman who writes the blog is a mother, Coloradan, biker, blogger and outdoor enthusiast. Last year she and her family lost their 2 year old little boy (just a few month younger than my little boy) to a horrible, horrible tragedy.  She and her husband have started a charity in his honor, The Axel Project.  Partnered with Strider bikes (the little pedal-less balance bike like D-man is riding here), they sell the bikes retail and donate others to families in need to encourage riding from a young age.  The new charity is struggling a bit and needs some help.  They are trying to put together their first big fundraiser ride, going from Ridgeway, CO (where they are from) to Telluride on Labor Day weeked, but registration has been slow.  I don't own a road bike but I've wanting to get one for a while so maybe by then I'll have one.  You can also donate, or buy a bike, or even just liking the facebook page might help them with more sponsors (I think).  I've been thinking about this poor little family all day and just want to do whatever I can to help, even if all that is is mentioning them in my blog that not very many people read.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Finally, the race report.

So I did it.  I raced my mountain bike.  I Battled the Bear.  And I was not the absolute last person out on the course.  So that's good...

The day started at 5:40am when I got up and made pancakes and coffee for Jeremy for his 8am race (I'm an awesome wife).  He left at 7am, riding down to the course in Bear Creek Lake Park, which is only about 2 miles from our house.  The kids were up soon after that, we got ready and headed off to the soccer game by 8:30am.  My dad met us there which was nice. They lost. Again.  They've lost every game this year.  Oh well.  They don't seem to mind much as long as their juice and treats after the game.  Rushed home, changed clothes, threw my bike on the van (the kids' were already crammed into the back), grabbed a huge duffel bag full of food, my gear, and entertainment options for the kids, and the cooler and we were off to the park by 10:30.  I swear it takes longer to drive there than it would to ride, but we had too much stuff and the trailer doesn't fit mountain bikes anyway. (We bought an annual pass to the park this year even though we can ride in for free.  We ride the park all the time and they've really done some awesome work repairing all the trails from the floods last year so we wanted to support them a little financially.)

We got down to the park a little before 11, met up with Jeremy's teammate from Pedal Pushers Racing, Troy, who was also doing the afternoon race (but 30 instead of 20), and unloaded.  He had gotten there a bit before and hadn't seen Jeremy yet which was odd.  He should have come through after his 4th lap and on the way to his 5th about that time.  A few minutes later Jeremy shows up, done!  He finished 50 miles in 3:21.  His goal was 4 hours!  It was an awesome time, however there are some crazy fast 40 year old dudes out there.  He was 14th of 68.

Soon after I got ready, then we tried to herd the children over for the free under 10 Warriors Kid's race but they started it about 5 minutes early!  So we rushed and got them on the course without numbers.  Arianna, our 5 year old, started to cry when her 7 year old sister, Skyla, passed her, and ended up crying the entire time (so no pictures of her).  Skyla did awesome and did 2 laps, making it up all the hills on a bike without gears.  Declan, 3, even did it on his strider.

Soon after that it was time for me to start warming up and getting ready to go.  I had been so busy I didn't have a whole lot of time to get nervous, so that was kind of nice.  It was warm but there had been some cloud cover most of the day. The women 20-mile Appetizer racers started at 1:20, after all the pros, men and women doing the 30-miles, and the pros and men for the 20 miles  I heard the kids yelling at me as I passed at the start which was nice.  The start loop was fun, most of the women were going about the same pace, I hung back, then passed a couple of ladies who were going slower than I wanted on the flat, but then they passed me again on the little hill that goes back up to the finish line.

The first half lap was nice.  I kind of fell back off the main group a lot but I was going my own pace, pushing myself but not trying to hard to keep up.  I did pass one older gentleman early on.  Hit the first hill, which is one I had not practiced as they changed the course THREE days before the start.  It was pretty gradual but long and kind of killed me and it was about this time that the cloud cover moved off and it started to get HOT, like upper 70s.  Soon after that I saw the first of the pros from the 30 mile coming up behind me.  They hit me right at a very steep little climb of single track and someone started yelling at me to get over, not being very polite.  I did stop and let them pass pretty much right away, so he really didn't have to be a dick.  But that was just the start.  I was pretty much continually passed for the rest of the race.  Most every one else was polite.  Some people didn't even say anything which was "meh" but I guess it's better than yelling at me.  On the ride down the dam there were two rides off the side of the trail, one was a woman working on her bike, the other was a dude who looked hurt, probably a pro (I asked if there were okay and they both said yes).  She passed me later and said he "totally took her out" but she wasn't hurt and finished up.  I don't think he did.

I didn't stop for aid after the first lap. I had 2 bottles worth of Carbo Rocket 333 (4 scoops lemonade, and 2 scoop raspberry, which is pretty damn tasty) in my hydration pack so I didn't really need anything, but about this time I got a pretty bad headache.  The second lap was full of more of the same, basically getting constantly passed by people lapping me from the 30 mile race, including Jeremy's teammate Troy (he was nice and chatted with me for a few seconds).  I did pass another guy myself though.  The headache got worse.  I'll always get a headache if I don't use electrolytes but I had plenty in the Carbo Rocket (and I took a GU 45min before the start).  Maybe next time I'll have to take extra.  My shoulders, arms and back started to get achy and sore too.  Coming down off the dam (I kept spelling that damN, I must swear too much) I was passed by a very small woman.  She had to pedal all the way down the hill and I stayed mostly with her without pedaling.  So I suppose being big DOES have some advantages in mountain biking.  Climbing back up Mount Carbon (the biggest climb of the course) I passed a guy who was stopped and was apparently just out for a ride not in the race (dude, there's signs everywhere).  He followed me up, pretty close, which kind of annoyed me.  At this time my quads REALLY started to cramp up and hurt.  I would have cried but I thought the guy behind me would hear.  I made it up the rest of the way, and then headed toward the finish, right as I was coming in, my quad pretty much stopped working and I might have screamed a little but still didn't cry.

I finished.  Official time 2:15.  21.5 miles, 1768ft of climbing.  Average speed: 9.7 mph, which was so damn close to the 10 mph I had really wanted but didn't think I could do, and way better than the 8.5 mph I had done during practice runs of the course.  So I guess I'm happy with it.  There was one woman behind me, she was over 60 (Go her!).  I don't remember passing her so either she had been behind me the whole time, or had stopped after the first lap and I passed her then.  There were also 3 men who finished after me.  So I wasn't "last-last".  I was last in my age group though. Jeremy was very excited that I finished and also told me how proud of me he was.  I was pretty sore and tired most of the day yesterday and last night my quads were twitching in bed.

Jeremy asked me yesterday if I liked it.  I'm not sure.  I'm glad I did it.  The training and the pushing for it has really made me a better mountain biker, which I've wanted for a long time.  It's fun to post the pictures and say I did it.  The being constantly passed really, really sucked.  I would have liked it if I could have just done my own thing, gone my own pace, etc.  The looking behind me, the stopping, or the stressing when people passed, the guilt about being in their way, etc, that part I really didn't like.   I don't know.  Maybe an out-and-back, or one big loop race would be more fun, or maybe I just need to get faster before I do it again.  I probably will do the Beti Bike Bash in June just because I like the whole mission of that race (to get more women into MTB racing, and just MTBing in general) even though it is also a lap course.  It's shorter though, only 12 miles for the "sport" category so maybe I can go faster, and it'll just be women so the difference between me and the fastest will be a little less (although there are still some very fast women out there).  Eh, who knows.  I don't regret doing it, but I'm not sure I liked it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Shoes, swithbacks and bruises.

I didn't do a blog post last Monday.  Nothing spectacular happen.  I did have a speed goal for my Saturday ride on  the 19th.  I skipped all the hills at Bear Creek and just stuck to the flats going as fast as I could.  I did 17.1miles at 10.4mph!  But yeah, only 748ft of climbing.  If I could only do the entire course at that pace, I'd actually finish in less than 2 hours.  But I can't.  Hrm.

So I've been hemming and hawing for a few weeks about buying new shoes and/or getting a bike fit.  So of course I decide to do both 2 weeks before the race.  Not very smart.  Nancy with the Dirt Divas (the social club I've been riding with for a few years) is a "fit expert".  I sent her a message last week and of course she (and members of the club) were headed to Moab for the extended weekend and she didn't think it was a good idea to be changing things around the week before the race (this week).

That left the shoes.  So last Thursday (I didn't get my scheduled ride in that day due to work issues and difficult children that morning), I ran into Bicycle Village (Colorado chain) the other day while Jeremy and the kids went to get dog food, it's right next to Petco.  The problem with my current shoes were they were too narrow and also a little too squishy in the toes (so why did I buy ill fitting shoes the first time? My husband would also like to know this. I don't know, I guess I just wasn't paying attention). I had looked online and pretty much no one makes wide women's shoes, but Shimano run a little wider, and I should just go with mens.  So I ask the dude for 41 mens Shimano.  Yeah, no.  They only carry men's down to a size 42.  I wear women's 8.5, which I thought was plenty big to go with men's.  Guess not.  I ask for the women's Shimano and the only one they have in my size is the expensive $160 pair, the SH-WM82.  They fit awesome, and they are pretty.  Not terribly excited about the price though, the next ones down were $120, but white.  I decided to pass.

The next day I left work early, hit 3 different local bike shops (LBSs) in Golden after Jeremy had already checked out the one he races for.  No mens in my size, the womens were all too narrow and each shop only carried one or two brands.  I know now that Sidis, Specialized, Scotts, and Giros are too narrow for my fat feet (The woman helping me at Big Ring though had AWESOME legs).

I left Golden frustrated but then headed to North Table mountain, a trail I've never done.  After climbing to the top of the mesa on a really steep road (12% average grade, I think I stopped 4 times to catch my breath) I found the really fun single track downhill with rocks and switchbacks and stuff.  First switchback, hop off my bike and walk it.  Beat myself up a bit, I've been getting better at these, I can do the two at Bear Creek (yes, there are only 2) no problems.  Next swtich back, I try to make myself do it, get up there, and then freak out, try to come out of my pedals, don't make it, fall over hit a rock super hard with my hip.  Ouchy.  Then I proceeded to walk every single switchback.  There are 8.  I counted in Strava.  Grrrr..  Annoyed with myself.  After this race switchbacks are my next goal.  I know it's totally mental.  I just have to trust myself to do it.  I bet I wouldn't have even hurt myself as bad had I attempted it and then fallen, rather than just let myself topple over on the rocks.  I slept like crap that night because the huge bruise is on the side I sleep on most.  I thought about posting a picture but I decided to spare y'all that.  But I did make one really technical section that had a few 8+in drops.  I was proud of myself for actually attempting then actually clearing that.

So the next morning I went and bought the Shimanos and took them and my new Garmin Edge 500 that Jeremy got me for my birthday (which isn't until May) out to Bear Creek.  They are AWESOME.  My feet are soooo much happier.  I think I feel a little faster due to the stiffer sole, and I think my knees feel a little better because Jeremy moved the cleats back a bit.

So Saturday is the big day.  I can already feel myself overthinking every little detail.  I was awake at 6am this morning trying to think out how I'm going to get the kids and their chairs, and their bikes, and my bike to the race start after the soccer game since there probably won't be any close parking...  Yeah.  It'll be an interesting week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm a huge "data nerd"

I love data.  It's fun.  Check out my weekly distances from Strava (also Why Strava Doesn't Suck).  Look improvement!  A steady increase in mileage over the last 5 week.  I will also be getting a real GPS soon, an early birthday present from the husband.  More data!

I did the entire race course this weekend, the missing bridge is back, plus the 2 miles to and from the park.  23.9 miles, the most I've ever done according to Strava.  AND I even had my very first on-trail flat tire, which I fixed all by myself, something I haven't done since I was a kid (we used butter knives instead of tire levers back then).  It did end up taking me about a half hour (during which time at least 30 people asked if I was okay, or had everything I needed which was nice but got annoying after about 10).  So I can do it.  I can ride my bike 20 miles.  Of course my speed was still 8.4 mph.  Still not fast enough to do it in 2 hours.  I went back and looked at the results from last year again.  While all the women finished in 2 hours, there was one guy who did 2:20 (he probably had a mechanical or something but I'll take it), and I'll be racing at the same time as the people doing 30miles so I won't be the absolute last person out on the trail.  I hope.  Well I have 3 more weeks anyway.  I'm going to go hard again this week.  I think I'll do intervals Tuesday and Thursday and maybe speed work Saturday, then "taper" down for 2 weeks to "peak" (I learn these things from the husband).  I guess.  Meh.

Didcha know one time in 9th grade I really was the very very last person to finish a cross country race?  I wasn't fast or in shape anyway (notice a theme?  I've never been fast.) but I forgot my running shoes on the bus and was wearing flip-flops.  I tried to borrow my sister's shoes (my sister who is 6" shorter than me) and they were too small.  I ended up taking them off half way through the race and finishing in my socks, walking most of it.  The picture of me crossing the finish line with the shoes in my hand made the high school year book even though I didn't actually go there yet (9th graders were still at the junior high but did sports with the high school).  So yeah, wouldn't be the first time.

Oh, and yeah, one more thing, since since this started about my love of data, I also think I've mentioned that I've been dieting. I'm going to sneak in a little brag on that here, I've lost 12lbs since Sept (check out my fun graph!  I've also got one that goes all the way back to July 2010 when I had my last kid).  I actually have a little bump at the bottom of my quad muscle above my knee.  It's awesome.   I'm again going to give it one more week then pump my calories back up to maintenance (2300 vs. 2000) for the 2 weeks before the race.  Maybe that will magically make me go 10 mph.  Yeah, no.  Probably not.  (Oh and if you don't know me, I'm 5'9", just to put some context to those weights).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Speed is Your Friend" and Self-Doubt and Stuff

So this past week was my 2nd official week of training for my mountain bike race.  I will admit that I've only been loosely sticking to my LW Coaching training plan because it seems too easy for me (apparently I was in slightly better shape than I thought, slow, but in decent shape) but the next level plans are both 12 weeks and well the race is in 4.  Still doing pedaling drills on Tuesdays, 45min rides on Thursdays, but going longer and harder on the weekends.  I decided that for my big weekend ride I was going to focus on two things, increasing my distance and going faster on the downhills.  Last week sometime I was bored and googled (that's totally a word now, by the way) "How to get faster on your mountain bike".  Seriously, yeah I googled that.  But I found a couple of good articles:

Top 10 Ways to go Faster on Your Mountain Bike


How to Mountain Bike Downhill and Uphill Like a Badass I mean Confidently and Safely

Part of the second one that really stood out to me was this:

(I like it so much I made a pretty meme, I've also been making a Mountain Biking Pinterest Board if you are interested)

Speed is my friend.  Float over the rough.  Right.  Speed pretty much scares the shit out of me.  Fear keeps me from going faster.  I've always told Jeremy that the reason I'll never be as good as him at biking and/or snowboarding is fear, well that and testosterone and probably a decent amount of natural athletic ability on his part and not really on mine.

So that was my goal.  I decided to double up on the climbing part of the loop to increase distance and climbing and to otherwise take it pretty easy on the flats and uphills in order to save some gas for the increased distance but to try to lay off the brakes as much as possible.

So I picked up the babysitter after the kid's soccer game (required as the husband is working weekends) and went (even though it was suddenly cold after a nice pretty sunny morning, and my tights weren't dry so I had to wear my ugly red leg warmers, and those things are ugly, Jeremy got them for me off the clearance site).  It felt quite different than the last couple of weeks, to take it easy, which is actually the way I used to ride all the time.  Kind of nice a relaxing (the trails were also virtually empty due to the weather, all the smart people had already got their rides in before the rain clouds came in).  The down hills were kind of scary but really not that bad.  I do think I still braked too much, still something to work on.  On the second time I went up the east side of Mount Carbon I decided to really push it since I was almost done, but then ouchy, my knees both started to hurt. I had adjusted the tilt of my seat and maybe accidentally brought it forward or something.  But I still pushed hard, then went as fast as I could down, again scary, really scary this time, the down is on the edge of the hill and the trail isn't really flat but sloped with the hill.  But I made it.  And then I realized that the fancy shock-locker-outer thingy my new fancy Scott Spark has had been locked the whole time.  No wonder it was scary.  I need to remember to unlock that thing!  I also should probably go for a real bike fit.

So when I checked my Strava (yes I use Strava even though some think it's not-cool) I had made new personal records on every single downhill, and on the uphill at Mount Carbon (comparing myself to myself is why I like Strava).  I've cut two minutes off my slowest time on that climb.  Total of 18.4 miles, 1,600ft of climbing.  I felt pretty good about that.

Then I noticed that for women that still puts me at 86th of 98 for the Mount Carbon climb, or 87%, which then made me feel dumb.  Why am I doing a race again?  I'm still pretty slow.  But I'm doing it.  It's nice to have something to train for, a reason to push myself to improve. I'm okay with coming in dead last.  I think.  Ugh.  Self doubt and all that stuff.

But I'm doing it.  I've told every one I'm doing (the entire internets apparently), I've paid my money, and I'm doing it.  If I come in last, honestly, it won't be the first time.  Sucking at things has never kept me from doing them before, maybe it should have, but why let it start now?

I also haven't lifted weights in a week and a half.  Apparently not doing a decent job of figuring out how to balance that with the race training.  Meh.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Soccer Mom / Mountain Bike Racer / Wife of Real Mountain Bike Racer?

So I have 3 children, 2 girls ages 7 and 5, and a crazy little boy, age 3. The 7 year old just started playing soccer this year. Practices 2 days a week, games Saturdays.

 Also, as previously mentioned, I have a husband.  He works 12 hour shifts, including some night shifts and of course many weekends.  He also races mountain bikes, for real.  This is his 3rd year, he's on a real team ( Pedal Pushers), and he's doing a million races this summer (okay about 10 but that's still a ton). He usually finishes top 10-20% overall and he does the 50 to 100 mile ones and is even doing a six day stage race this summer.  He trains 10-14 hours a week.  Oh and I also work 40-50 hours a week, and generally lift weights twice a week.  So yeah, this is why I label myself busy.  Oh and 2 dogs, we also have 2 dogs one of which is diabetic requiring insulin shots twice a day.  I'm sure there are others busier than I am, and many just as busy.  I'm not complaining, just pointing out the delicate nature of figuring this all out.  And now I'm adding mountain bike racing on top.  Interesting.

Tying to find training time for me is difficult.  According to the training plans, Tuesdays are usually pedaling drills that I can do on a spin bike, or on a trainer.  Luckily we belong to a gym with daycare so that's how Tuesday happens.  I will ride during my "lunch break" at work on Thursdays.  Then I think I'm going to have to pay a babysitter to get in a ride on the weekends as Jeremy works the next few.

But I'm doing it.  I officially paid my money and registered for Battle the Bear (4/1 is the last day for early registration if you are interested).  No refunds.  Either I do it or I'm out the $50.  This brings me to my point.  The Appetizer (20 miles) starts at 1:30pm.  Jeremy has decided to do the Endurance (50 miles).  His race starts at 8am.  There's also a kids' race at 12pm that I'm sure both girls would love to do. They both lost training wheels last year.  And to top it all off the 7 year old has a soccer game at 9am and I have to bring snacks for the team, I forgot to respond to the email in a timely manner and that was the last day open.

So our day is going to looks something like this:
  • 6:00:   Husband up, getting ready to race, ride to park (it's close enough you don't have to drive).
  • 7:30:   Kids up, fed, get ready for soccer, make sure to remember snacks.
  • 8:30:   Get to soccer field
  • 10:00: Go home, get myself ready to race, load the kids' bikes, my bike, etc and drive to park, pay the $5 /car entry fee but I don't think we could all ride down and bring everything we need. The bike trailer for the boy won't fit on my mountain bike anyway.
  • 12:00: Kids race, Jeremy may be done by now, but probably not.  The top non-pro finisher last year finished in 3:51 (it was actually Jeremy's team captain, Nathan Collier, pretty cool Results).
  • 13:30: Jeremy better be done by now so he can take the kids as it's my turn to race.
  • 16:00: If I'm not done in 2.5 hours I'm going to be pretty disappointed.  That's 8mph.

Should be interesting. Hrm, I should remember to feed the children at some point too.

Monday, March 24, 2014

So, yeah, guess I'm doing it.

I sat down and counted out the weeks until the Battle the Bear. It was six and a half weeks from mid-last week. I had been focusing a bit more on cardio fitness lately but yeah, I'm still slow on a mountain bike. Now I have been lifting weights regularly for 2 years but that doesn't help that much. Six and a half weeks, can I do anything in six and a half weeks? So I google. I found this: First Timer Cross Country Mountain Bike Training Plan.  A six week training program from LW Coaching who is actually a sponsor of my husband's team (Pedal Pushers). This is good! It sounds just like what I need, plus I get to support one of his sponsors which is pretty cool.  I talked it over with Jeremy (my husband's name is Jeremy by the way) and he thinks it's a good idea so I buy the program...

Wait, what?  I just bought a program.  I hadn't even officially decided to do the race yet.  I was going to go ride the course first, see if I could do it in an hour.  I hadn't had time (I'd been working and had a nasty chest cold).  But I bought a program.  Guess this is it.  I'm doing a mountain bike race.  I guess.

The program didn't officially start until Monday, so I thought maybe I could ride the course Sunday.  It snowed Saturday but not enough to make the trails muddy.  I get down there and go to make the right turn on the bridge across Turkey Creek and realize the bridge isn't really there.  It didn't survive the floods late last summer.  I think they are in the process of rebuilding it but it's a "no go" right now.  So I have to go around to the concrete bridge, adding a bit to the 10 miles course.  There's a few other areas still closed from the flood, but nothing that adds anymore distance.  My goal is 10 mph.  I had looked, my usual for the park is 7 mph.  That's a pretty big jump.  But I'm feeling strong, going as fast as I can, actually pedaling on flats and slight downhills (something I don't usually do.  No wonder I'm slow), trying to keep a fast cadence on the more gentle uphills.  I felt pretty good in spite of still having a cold, dead lifting the day before, and not having any food with me but some Sport Beans I found in the bottom of my bag (those were pretty yummy actually).  Oh and I've been dieting lately too.

So I ended up doing 11.5 miles in one hour and 23 minutes.  I thought that was pretty good, but still only 8.3 mph.  I guess that's what the training program is for.  Will it get me up to 10 mph and for 20 miles not just 11?  I don't know.  I'm sure resting and eating better the week before the actual race will help.  So yeah, even though I couldn't make my own standard, I'm still doing it I guess.  I'm going to race my mountain bike.  Still not really sure why.  I'm pretty darn slow...

This is my Strava map from Sunday.  Looks like the last satellite image taken was during the floods last summer.  The lake grew to like 3 times it's normal size.  See how much of the trail was underwater?  Pretty cool.

Me? Mountain Bike Race?

This first post is actually a copy of a post I did on My Fitness Pal last week.  And the first few posts at least might be on this same subject, my decision to race my mountain bike...

Originally posted 3/18/14:

In January at a team party for my husband's race team, Pedal Pushers, the captain comes up to me and asks "So which races are you going to do for us this year?"  I laugh, assuming that he must be very drunk.  He persists.  "You DO have this nice new 'RACE' bike..." (It was a demo, and a really good price, way better bike than I need, a 2013 Scott Spark 920 from Pedal Pushers Cyclery).  I assure him that I am very slow and after bugging me for a few more minutes he moves on.  I'm still pretty sure he was drunk.

However, the truth is that ever since attending Jeremy's first race I've harbored secret desires to do it too. But like I said, I'm slow, very slow.  I like to pretend I'm not the slowest person out there on the trails, just the slowest person to use Strava.  But still.... I DO have a race bike...

Last week, after getting on my bike a few times this "early-spring", I remember there's a womens club in the area that hosts a women only race at the park right by my house, the park I've ridden a million times, the Beti Bike Bash.  It has a "Never Ever" category.  I look it up.  It is only 8 miles long, 2 laps around a 4 mile loop, in a part of the park I rarely ride.  The "sport" category is only 12 miles.  Jeremy does 50 to 100 miles every time.  These seems awfully short in comparison, however I did mention it in passing to the husband.  Today I decide to look into the other race in the park, Battle the Bear, a much bigger, more popular race.  It uses a 10 mile loop, over the area I do actually do all the time.  Jeremy was planning on doing the 50 miler.  They also have an "Appetizer" option of 20 miles. The slowest woman to do it last year did it in about 2 hours.  I secretly decide to go out and try to do the loop.  If I can do one loop right now in one hour, then I was going to go ahead and try to train for the 2 loop race.  I wasn't going to tell Jeremy until I had tried the loop first.  I wasn't sure wether he'd try to discourage me or not (because I'm slow, not because he's unsupportive or anything).

I'm making dinner this evening and he comes and says he doesn't think he's going to do Battle the Bear.  When I ask why he says he's doing too many races and he doesn't want to spend the money for the race fee, and that that way he can support me in my race.  Apparently he thought the Beti Bike Bash was the same day.  I tell him it's not, but a month later.  I then come clean and confess my secret Battle the Bear plans and he's all for it.  (There's also kids' races at both events which will be fun)

So yeah.  I might race my mountain bike after all.  I AM really slow though...