Thursday, December 1, 2011


Spice is nice.

Letting go of competition as the leaves changed, I changed my routine by spending my days with middle school students helping them find their way as they sometimes somehow also help me find mine, spending early mornings doing master swim workouts, 5 to 7 mile runs, yoga, lifting.  I then come home and spend time with family.  Most fun of all has been riding with Lee and Levi.  Levi is growing up so fast and now loves to ride road bikes.  It has been a blast.  He is no slacker and our latest adventure was a 35 mile charity ride.  His first group ride.  He did great.  with him getting older he is also getting taller.  I was able to outfit him on my 26'r carbon full suspension era the other day to tackle Michaux.  Lee and I were a bit worried about the technical level, but did our best to find the tamest route.  We ended up riding up the blue, skipped sting, but then went down little bastard to the waterfall, around loon, up the fire road to yellow hill.  Up to the top and then down one of the best downhills in the forest.  He shredded it!!  All in all it was 10 miles and two hours.  Besides a couple of steeps down little bastard and up yellow hill, he rode a clean ride.  Well, once the laurel took him out and sent him over the bars, but it was all in fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fooling around

Fools Gold 100 is a hard race to commit to.  Racing 100 miles in Ga in late August just doesn't sound right.    It even sounds worse when it takes an 11 hour drive to get there.  I had reasons to go.  I was still off work for the summer and could take the time.  It is a beautiful area to visit.  My son wanted to take a road trip with me.  I had some inner demons daring me to race against them.  Never had a win at the Fools and would like to go for it.  And lastly, to chase NUE series points for second place overall.  It has been a tough fight this year against the very talented Amanda Carey who has the number one spot in the NUE series.  I did not want to waste all that work by giving up on second place.

I had some reservations about traveling 11 hours with a 11 year old.  I was also worried how I would deal with an 11 year old while also dealing with my pre-race preparations and nerves.  I decided to put all the angst aside and roll with it.  It was a great time for both of us.  Levi volunteered to help the race promoters at registration and then again on race day.  This kept him busy and entertained while I dealt with the race.  The pool at the race venue was also a plus on his fun meter for the weekend.  As for the driving, he couldn't assist with that, but he did keep me entertained enough to make the time go by easily.

I went into the Fools race feeling rested, hydrated and determined.  Determined to put in a strong race start to finish.  Determined to let it hurt, welcome the hurt, laugh at the hurt.  My determination paid off with a win and a new inspiration to be proud and grateful that I have the talent, ability, and willpower to ride strong.

It was a great weekend to catch up with great people and meet new great people.  We shared our experience and tales of  riding dreadful fire road climbs and fast rolling singletrack in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  Good times!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good Times, Bad Times

You know I have my share….  Not only was this the song in my head during the Lumberjack 100, but it also sums up the last three weeks.
It all started with the Mohican 100.  It would be the 4th time I have competed in this race.  Each race I have moved up on the podium.  Finally, Churtle got the winning Turtle award!
The race itself was non-eventful.  I felt great for the first half of the race and then the heat set in and my body slowed down.  Fortunately I had a good enough lead that afforded me a gap that prevented any others from sneaking up on me.  That happens another day.
Next up the Stoopid 50.  This race has been on my radar for a long time.  It just has not fit in my schedule.  It is in State College PA and races along some great ridges.  I love to rock crawl and swoop along those ridges.  The day was perfect for me.  Not too hot, a little rain to cool things off when it did get hot, and best of all a perfectly cold creek to soak my body right at the finish line.

I had a great start at this race.  Being in front helped me stay ahead of the bumblers on the ridge and I got to ride it smoothly.  Just look at me smile.
Hiding in the front of the pack at start
I finished the race 1st place for women and 23rd overall.  My time was well better than what I expected.  4:44.  I was hoping for 5.  Rounding out the podium in 2nd and 3rd were my awesome teammates, Carolyn and Nikki.  Go team CF.
Some friends were concerned that I have been digging myself into a hole.  Maybe I shouldn’t do three long races in a row.  Haven’t I been expending myself since March with not much rest and going big.  Yes, however I am like a kid in a candy shop and just want to do it all.  Well until I can’t.  Lumberjack put the brakes on for me.
Traveling to Manistee MI for the third time was a mix of charm and not so charming.  It was a charm to spend time with some of my favorite peeps and it would be the last adventure for the threesome of Jeff, Roger and Cheryl.  It wasn’t a charm in that I became confronted with having to admit that I am fatigued.  Oh well, it happens the best of us.
Leading up to the race I did get some quality rest in and all my preparations leading to race day were dialed.  Morning of I felt relaxed and ready to put it out there.  That I did indeed do on the first lap of the 33 mile lap course that was done 3 times.  It was smooth sailing.  I felt as though I was chainless for the first time in a long time.  I cruised into the feed zone with Amanda after our smoking first lap and left with Amanda into the second lap.  Not five minutes into the lap I began to feel wrong.  My legs and HR were just not responding.  It was the weirdest thing.  Next dread entered my head.  I wasn’t sure if I could even finish the lap.  I willed myself around.  Got into the feed the second time around and was relieved to hear that she was about 10 minutes up and the rest were maybe 10 back.  Ok, I can do this I told myself.  Just hold on pull yourself together and have fun on the last lap around.  This lap proved better than the previous.  Maybe it was my head space.  There was no giving up now.  It would all be over soon and I would finish.  It seemed like forever to get to the aid station at mile 17.  Once there I stopped to pour water on my head.  I was getting really hot.  As I did Karen Potter blazed by.  I was her rabbit.  I was chicked.  Her energy left a mark on the trail.  I half heartedly attempted to chase, but soon gave up.  It was her day!
Congrats to all that finished that beast of a race and to Amanda for the win.  It can be so underestimated.  Don’t let it fool you. Thank you to Karen for allowing me to drain her water and ice cubes at the finish line to cool me down.  And another thanks to Carey for sharing her stash of cold coke.  I usually don’t ever drink coke, but I needed it that day.
The future holds a rest week and some.  After that I am again loading up on adventures to spread awareness of the Team CF cause and cross items off my bucket list.  I’ll let ya know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Silly Moe

Again it was one of those moments of "What was I thinking" as I prepared to make the journey to Mountain View Arkansas.  My initial thoughts months ago were how awesome to ride a new 100 mile venue that has 50+ miles of singletrack designated as "epic" by the International Mountain Bike Association..  It also has the backing of Outside Magazine as being one of the "Top 20 Outdoor Destinations".  I'm in baby!  Fast forward to May 11th as trip details were being hashed out.  It takes 17 hours.  Oops, did not think about that long of a drive. Probably should have done it by plane.  Although a totally doable drive, it would not be a leisurely trip considering family and work restraints required a quick swoop in and an even quicker swoop out.  Fortunately I had Jeff along to share the burden of the journey.  Unfortunately during our travels, Jeff suffered a family loss and was unable to share the burden on the way home.  OUCH.  My last NUE turned into a mini stage race and now this NUE was going to be one as well.  Granted I would not be racing my bike on Sunday, but I would be pushing my physical limits to get myself back to PA by Sunday evening.  All said and done it wasn't all that bad.  All is good and I am back safe and sound happy with reflections of the weekend.  Mountain view, Arkansas is a beautiful place and the trails are epic.  It reminded me much of my home trails in Michaux. 

syllamo trail
The only real difference was the limestone that was super slippery when wet.  In Michaux you often find traction on the rocks.  That being said I did have high hopes for a great day out on the trails.  It was definitely a "good" day, but not a great day.  I had a very conservative start and did not seem to have the legs to redline it off the bat.  Once I got going in the single track everything came together and I started feeling more like myself.  It was fun to flow on the trails.  There was lots of momentum to find out there.  Yes, the first 13 miles were a bit slick, but if you played it smart you could get through it with no troubles.  I felt good and I was even smiling.  Then I came across Amanda who had gotten ahead however was now fixing a flat.  One would think to attack.  I'm not sure where my thought process was, but it wasn't on winning at all costs.  The doubt that began to creep into my head couldn't be quieted.  I wanted to stay smooth and smart to avoid blowing up.  I knew that she would definitely be chomping at the bit to catch back up to me.  I wanted to believe that I could stay away.  Sometimes believing in yourself is quite exhausting, my doubt and confidence battled it out.  I decided it was time to stop believing and to start doing.  I just turned off my brain and found joy in riding the trail efficiently and smoothly.  Sure enough, she caught up.  We rode for a bit together then I let her pass.  I was enjoying my ride and having fun regardless of who was in front or behind.  After mile 50 I did get a bit tired while again riding the first section of singletrack we had previously rode at the beginning of the race.  Luckily, it was a bit drier and not as slippery and I was more able to clear some of the tricky sections. 

 Then once I got to the final 13 mile singletrack loop, I found more energy knowing that it was a mainly smooth sail to the finish.  In the end I placed second in a time of 7:50.   The trails of the Syllamo 125K can be classified as punishing, however I found them to be enjoyable and if you can find a balance of finesse and efficiency you and your bike can survive it.  I was definitely tired at the end and my hands hurt a little, but that was about it.  My bike handled perfectly.  I usually race "technical" races with full suspension.  This race I instead rode the stumpjumper 29'r hardtail.  I expected to experience pain all over my body the next day.  My expectations were gladly not met and my bike smoothly rode over the bumpiest of sections.  My only gear issue was some chainsuck as my chain and cogs got covered in mud and water.  Lubing the chain at the aid stations relieved that hassle and allowed me to have a clean race. 

Reading my above words of not being completly spent after the race has led me to many "What ifs"  Such as, "Am I again stuck in my comfort zone.  Could I have pushed harder?"  I do not have answers to those questions.  I am not sure they even need answers.  Gremlins that is what they are.  The past two NUE's had been book ended with many other responsibilities in my life.  Soon I will have a break in my work schedule for about 10 weeks.  Times are a changing and being able to let one part of my brain and physical energy have a break will be extremely welcome.

I will be regrettably missing the most hotly contested women's race at the TSE later this month due to work responsibilities.  Tear it up ladies!!  Next on my ballot is the Mohican 100.  I have always wanted one of those trophies!  No more wanting, it is time to take.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You are doing what?

Yes, I am and yes I did.  Luckily I wasn't alone.  My friend Roger Masse from 29r crew joined in the insanity.  I just had my mind set on doing both events and it was a bummer the way they fell on the calendar.  If there is a will there is a way.  And away we went. 

First up was the Cohutta 100, the NUE series opening race.  I was very excited to compete in this race.  I finally felt that my part time gig as a bike racer could match up to the Pro ranks.  I had put in many more miles than prior years and I had more than just some racing under my belt.  Usually I am worried if I can even ride the 100 miles Cohutta has to offer.  I was stoked.  I gave it my all and came in a personal PR of 8:03.  But it wasn't enough to overstep the ever powerful Amanda Carey.  She is smoking.  I did ride with her for awhile and felt great, but she turned up the heat after mile 30 and got away.  There is a lot of should of's could of's that I am fighting off, but the bottom line is she is fast.  I need to get out of a survival individual time trail mode and start being a little more aggressive.  I was also surprised that I wasn't getting that "flying" feeling like I was hoping for.  A lot of people asked if I was recovered from the Cape Epic.  It was something I had not even considered.  Maybe, Maybe not.  Working on my mind games this year.  My own mind that is!  The season is long and I'm all in.  Stay away "CREEPS"!

Next up Michaux Maximus.  A 40 mile race held in Michaux State Forest.  And not just any 40 mile race.  It is 90% or more technical, rocky single track.  So even on a good day I was looking at close to a 5 hour day.  The Maximus is the first race of the Michaux Endurance Series.  Michaux hosts my favorite trails I just could not pass up this first race since I planned on completing the series. 

It all seemed so simple.  It is just like a two day stage race.  No problem.  I kept trying to ignore the fact that it took 10 hours to get to TN and then it would take another 10 hours to get back to PA.  Sometimes the travel takes more of a toll than the racing.  Fortunately, my husband Lee voluteered to help us out by tagging along to help divy up the driving.  I am so grateful he came along.  It was comforting to have him around and he was a trooper to take the witching hours of the drive from 2:00pm until 4:30 pm.  We left TN after 6 pm and rolled into PA at 4:30 am.  Roger and I rested for another hour and 1/2 and then took off for the start of the Maximus.  We were feeling a little run over, but neither of us would call uncle.  I think if we did not have each other it would have been very easy to stay home.  Thank you Roger. 

Just as I tried to ignore the drive I also tried to ignore the weather.  It ended up being a wet sloppy affair, but well worth all the effort.  I love Michaux.  Although I was tired and sore and the trails are unforgiving, I love to solve the puzzles the terrain throws at you.  It also ended up being a special day because I spent it with a friend.  That does not always happen.  Usually you can find yourself all alone for most of the day.  There were moments when we would have distance between us, but for the most part we were content with each others pace.  However, we did agree that the finish was up for grabs.  So toward the end of the race there was a long slog up a rooty "creek" That is where Sue tried to take it.  I was matching her effort, but right at the top I went to change gears and got some chain suck.  I stopped to make it right and she got away down the road towards the finish.  I put my head down and sprinted at my target.  Much to my surprise I caught her and then passed her right before we were to turn left into the finish chute.  I took the inside line into the chute and came across some diagnol slippy roots.  I could not stay in line and bobbled.  Sure enough Sue took the outside and snuck by me.  Oh well. Never did look at the finish chute prior to race start.  Lesson learned.  Regardless, I was stoked to battle it out and the day was a blast. I had visions of it being a horror show and it wasn't.  Most of all I did not miss out on seeing all the good peeps, new and old, that find their way to Michaux. 

A big shout out to Specialized for making awesome bikes.  For the Cohutta I opted to use the super light and quick s works 29'r hard tail.  Super Sweet.  For the Maximus I switched out to 26 inch wheel s works Era.  That bike is fun, just as quick and a welcome squish for post 100 mile soreness.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


you know you love it!

I do love it.  However, after sorting through race photos from the cape adventure I often don't smile.  I look so damn serious.  I need to lighten up.

Looks like fun.  Why not smile?
While racing I remember the spectators and children bringing a smile to my face.  I remember Selene bringing a smile to my face when she told knock, knock jokes when the going was rough.  I remember smiling when we looked up and the views were majestic.  During those moments of smiles all pain, dread, and effort seemed to disappear.  Energy was restored and I felt empowered.

I'm going to use this technique a lot this season.  I already started it while doing my intervals yesterday.  It wasn't too hard when a friend drove by me 4 minutes in to a 12 minute effort.  It must look ridiculous when you are by yourself and you are killing it to get nowhere.  It made me smile and it made things easier.  As I continued my training I found myself riding through the Gettysburg Battlefield.  I forgot that tis' the season for the tourists. I looked extra ridiculous flying through the battlefield.  I did my best to say hello to those I passed and offered a smile.  Before I knew it I was done and it felt good.  Regardless of what anyone thinks I love it and I'm gonna smile.  It is empowering.

Next week I will be racing the Cohutta 100.  I am the most prepared I have ever been for this race.  My training has been so different this year from any other year.  Some times I have to wonder what in the world I was thinking the other years going into the 100's with half of the fitness I have today.  That doesn't matter now and I can't wait to get out there and kill it.  I may not be number one, but I will be stronger, faster and feel great trying to be.

Oh, and it will be hard not to smile while I am riding this super awesome bike.  Thanks team CF and Specialized.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I had a dream....

that I rode my bike in South Africa for a week.  It has been about a week since the race finished and it is really hard to believe that it all happened.

And happened it did.  It was the single most amazing event I have ever completed.  The enormity was hard to not get lost in.  I listened to those I trusted that I would be humbled and that everything done to prepare may not be enough, but I can only truly know what they meant now that it is over.  The experience as a whole has changed me as a mountain bike racer.

As I told my cupcake friends, I have a whole new appreciation for the phrase "Harden the "f" up!"

To race with the best of the world was humbling yet inspiring.  Each day was a physical as well as mental challenge.  Selene and I raced well together and we met each day with all we had to give.  Selene
outlines our lessons learned in her blog.  Check it out.

Since my dear friend and partner is also a professional writer, I can't help but borrow some of her words. This is the best description of what each day had in store for us....

"Though there are some fast roads and a few breathtakingly speedy descents, much of it is Bataan Death March slow. Imagine an army of ants with watermelons on their backs painstakingly weaving their way over jagged cloud-kissing mountain ranges as far as the eye can see and you get a pretty good feel for a few hours of the day."

The other hours were spent twisting thru fun single tracks, winding our way between orchards of apples and grapes, running ridges heavily scented of curry and spice, rolling on village roads lined with children cheering us on, and being amusement for spectators at wineries.

It was great fun.  Now I am back in the grind and working on recovery.  Coach Chris has me resting and riding easy for a couple of weeks.  It should help let all the efforts and training sink in and allow for a great fitness boost to begin the NUE season.  

The song Firework by Katy Perry was played each morning while we were waiting for the gun.  I can't help but feel like that firework. It has ignited and it is brighter than the moon.  

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I am in Africa

This is often a thought I have each day.  Not that the surroundings aren't a reminder.  It is just weird.  Racing each day is usually enough, but then throw in the fact that it is being done in Africa just blows your mind. Probably because my head is just not right.  It is a weird space to be in at this point in the race.  Easy tasks like filling water bottles becomes a research project.  How much water how much nutrition, wait how long is today.

Today is what they consider a rest day, but don't be fooled a time trial is not rest.  Each day has been truly a test, with yesterday being an ultimate one.  The spanish pro Hermida and other pros tagged it as being the hardest stage in cape epic history.  And it isn't even the longest one.  After today we have two long days:  89 miles 7700 ft of climbing, 74 miles 8858 ft of climbing and then the last day brings a mere 42 miles 5577 ft of climbing.  How will we come down from all of that.  The plane flight home should be interesting.

The race has such a great vibe.  There are so many people from all over the world here.   So many different languages are being spoken however most speak English.  A shame I don't know a different language.  Being from the gender that fills only 10 percent of the race, ladies are treated well.  I love to hear the voices of many accents saying "hello ladies"  or "well done ladies".  Speaking of being treated well, we are so fortunate to have the support of Specialized here at the epic.  We have a great team of mechanics that dial in our bikes for the effort of the day.  My bike has been a dream.  I thought I would miss 29'r wheels here, but I don't.  The 26'r Era rolls perfectly.  The Brain suspension is so pleasant to ride.

Additionally we are also being taken care of by Jenna.  She has been massaging our sore muscles each day.  I couldn't go on without it.  And then there is our sweet angel Antoinette.  She has been driving the RV and doing odd house chores for us.  It has been a dream.  It is all you can do to get the rest and food you need each day without other details to bother with.  Especially since after each stage you are so turned around and can't really function all that well.

The above photo is from Saronsberg.  It was the first race village.  Magnificent backdrop.

This is a photo of of the shower station.  Again look at the background.  Amazing.  It was like beautiful paintings on the walls of our camp.

A picture from the prologue.  Gorgeous.

The next two photos are for fun.  On our way to the prologue we pitted the RV for to inflate tires.  To our surprise (at 7 am) there were two beautiful women outside of there car with their music blaring an awesome beat and them dancing away.  Too much for Selene and I.  We had to join them.  Just part of the surrealness we have found on our adventure.

What about the racing you say.  Well that is for another day.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Or not.

Regardless it is around the corner.  I am putting the last touches on the fitness, pulling together logistics, and starting to get excited.  While anticipating what is to come, I can not help but reflect on how much I have enjoyed the front end of this amazing trip.  The training has been tough, but very rewarding.  Going out in crazy cold conditions were worth the effort and provided for some truly beautiful, serene riding moments. To keep things motivating, I also traveled to meet my teamate Selene and was able to experience great new places to ride.  One ride took us to a Pagoda in Pa and another took us to the pine barons of NJ.  There was no training camp or warm weather locales, but I found out that I didn't need that.  I can train through the winter without much travel and get all the goods in.  I feel like I have already taken a trip to new lands and now I am leaving on another.  It seems to some that I do the same thing each year, you know, ride my bike. In no way is it just that.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March seemed so far away....

What better time than now to begin spilling out words.  It is March as you know.  In 20 days I leave for Africa, which you may not know.  How do I feel about this...well it is hard to explain.  I want to be excited and I do believe I am beginning to get that twinge.  It seemed so far away and just something I exclaimed and something I went out in the nastiest of conditions to train for.  Now that something is becoming more real by the minute.  It has been a crazy journey so far and I am sure its true amazement is yet to come.