Friday, February 29, 2008

Ray's Indoor Mountainbike Park

I finally got to visit famous Ray's warehous of fun in cold, friendly Cleveland, OH. Dirt Rag hosted a women's only day at Ray's. This is such a brilliant idea that I can't wait for the next one. 30 or more women showed up from many states and lots of different backgounds and skill levels. I was the token cross country teacher. I was the geek in a lycra racing kit. But cross country skills are the real world and many of these women were trail riders so I could help out a little. After teaching my clinics, I headed over to the pump track to get a lesson from the crazy fast Jill Kitner. She was so fast on the impressive. She is going for the Olympics in BMX so I will be routing for her. Then my buddy, current National Champion in downhill, Ms Kathy Pruitt gave me a personal lesson in tabletoping. I took a little bit to get the consistency down, but by the end I had the baby tabletops pretty dialed. It was so fun!

I got to hang with the WSD wrench, not wench, Chris Garrison. Chris is more than cool and she already had the tabletops down. Check out her page on the WSD section of the Trek website. I also got to meet a future ripper of america, Lindsey. It is so great to see young girls on bikes that smile all the time while they are shreddin!

The next day, I decided to try riding in jeans like the other jumper girls. I noticed that you don't really sit down much while doing the park stuff, so I gave it a go. It wasn't bad at all. One of the cool jumper girls noticed and I think gave her approval.

The vibe at Ray's was very friendly without any of the competitive vibe that can be there at some parks. I highly recommend a visit during these awful cold east coast winters. There is varying degrees of difficulty for the sets of jumps, stunts, vert walls, and pump tracks. It got something for everyone.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Goodbye Tucson

The bubble had to burst some time. It was a blast spending the last month in Tucson riding. Big thanks to all who pushed me on the group rides, Spring for training like a pro, Todd for hosting me and FairWheel for my bike needs.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Its just one day in the life

Spring and I crushed at the race. We had good legs and good luck. After the race we were talking about how lucky we were because we really didn't have any great plans, nor did we have any back-up plans. Kevin was there to help with some stuff which really eased us after the lap. But thinking back to when I did the Worlds solo race in Georgia, it was night and day. I had five people at my beck and call for an hour lap. I even had my chamios creme heated in the middle of the night when it got cold. This time I had a tent for a very small child that I could never find after my laps.

But it was awesome. It was so great to see Spring after I finished my laps. She was smiling and always said that she was so proud of me. That made any hard thing that happened out there melt away. I think that is one reason that I like the team categories better than solo. A teammate inspires.

Our stategy was to do two laps at a time, then when it got dark to do three at a time. It worked out. The three lapper wasn't that bad. It kept us warm while we were riding and then it gave the other person a decent break to eat, drink and sleep. The highlight of my third straight night lap was when Jenna Zander came up and I just told myself to stay with her. It was so fun to ride that course fast with another fast girl like Jenna. Plus, mentally, it gave me something to focus on. I practically gave her a sunburn with my lights. And she cleared all the traffic out of the way.

Another great lap was when Michael Rainey and his friend led me through the 'his and hers' trail just flying. I didn't like that trail much before until I rode it fast following them.

The course was 17 miles of classic desert singletrack. It had snowed the night before and the road into the place was super sketchy for the Clegg's A4. Then the first lap was pretty sloppy in places. But I'm from West Virginia so it was no problem. It dried out to tacky and fast.There was alpine glow over the Catalinas with the fresh snowfall. It was cold for Arizona, though. There was a heavy frost that left a white shimmer to all the cholla cactus. But as always, the sun prevails in the southwest. Sunday was sunny and about 70.

This race has a great vibe. There are lots of independent types with singlespeeds, tatoos, odd facial hair, and big wheels. Everyone is so friendly, all 1600 racers, plus the race volunteers and spectators. Going on my last second lap, I realized that I had just shed my jacket with my snacks in it. So I stopped at some spectators who had cheered every lap for everyone and asked if the had any snacks. I got a nice banana and chocolate chip cookies(healthy ones, too!) Everyone was drinking beer afterwards and telling stories. It was good times.

Spring could of stopped at 17 laps since we were so far ahead. But her goal for the team was 18 laps. So she went out at 11:15 and did the 18th lap for the team. There were only two other guys duo teams that did 19. She is so tough.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So you wanna be an Olympian?

I've been enjoying reading Kathryn Bertine's Olympic Blog on espn. I met Kathryn on the shootout and in one minute of talking to her, I pegged her as nice, intelligent and very ambitious. Then when I got home Todd told me a bit of her story. I started following her blogs. Boy, was I right on the money on that first impression.

Kathryn has wrote the book "All the Sundays Yet to Come" about her experiences in the figure skating world. Now she has a book deal with ESPN to write about her travails getting to the 2008 Summer Olympics. At the time of the book deal, she didn't actually have one sport that she was counting on making it to the Games with. She trys out for handball, pentathelon and cycling teams. Google her name and you can read all the funny stories.

But I got to ask her a few questions:

Why did you switch from triathlon to cycling?
I'd been doing triath-a-lons for eight years. I did okay, but was a middle-o-the-pack pro racer. I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I focused all my energy and training one my best discipline, the bike.

Have you considered a switch to the dirt?
I've always liked dirt. I have fallen in it lots of times, but usually there is not a bike involved. I would really like to try mountain biking at some point. But only if you will show me how. You're such a rock star, Sue!

If you had to stereotype cyclists how would you do it?
Male cyclists: Weird.
Female cyclists: Weirder.

Briefly describe your improvement in cycling?
Well, funny story... I went from Cat 4 to Cat 1 in ten months. This means I'm the most inexperienced Cat 1 out there, but I have made vast improvements in lancing saddle sores.

In your opinion, how hard is it to become an Olympian?
Hard. You have no idea how much paperwork is involved. Ok, seriously? It is the hardest thing I've ever attempted. And therefore the best. I'm kind of burning the candle at both ends right now, and result is either going to get me to Beijing or to a mental institution. I plan on holding a very big party before entering either.

Lastly, which earns you more dough...prize money at cycling races or taking your used clothes to the Buffalo Exchange?
Definitely cycling. The last time I went to Buffalo Exchange they didn't take one freaking tee shirt. The punk rock cashier lady said, "Uh, yeah, this stuff really isn't in style anymore. Sorry." Whatever. She wishes she could win $25 in a local crit! I don't need your Buffalo charity. I get paid in five dollar bills, yo. Snap!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the things you see

A young Canadian roadie from Manitoba had a big day under the Tucson sun.

An old schooler welded his own "new school" 36 inch wheel bike.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Aqua Caliente

The weekend was filled with great riding. The shootout was actually really fun. There are these nice young boys wearing USA kits that pulled us around all day. They were really fast and so happy to be on the front. This kid Caleb was a supercharger. I finally made it to the top of Madiera and then felt good enough to get towed up Helmet Peak. Plus, a tailwind back down Mission.

Then on Sunday a stellar crew from the midwest and Montana met at Aqua Caliente Park(the only hot springs in Tucson) for a ride up Reddington around Italian Springs , back the AZ trail past Bellota Ranch to Milagrosa Canyon. Milagrosa is my favorite mtb trail in Tucson. Its has some big moves and awesome views. I always get some crazy highs and lows on that trail. The low was falling on a prickly pear cactus. ouch!

It was the warmest day since I've been here. It was so nice to see water in all the little creek crossings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tucson is pretty

Tucson is really pretty in the winter. I've never seen water in the Rillito River. Its awesome. Sometimes after my morning training rides, I'll go out in the afternoon and explore the paths around town. Tucson is very biker friendly all in all. There are way too many cars on the roads here, but most roads have a bike lane. There are miles of bike paths, bike lanes and they even have specific lights for bikes. A big thank you for all the folks who have been instrumental in making Tucson a good place to ride a bike.
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Sunday, February 3, 2008

the weekend

The shootout was a little harder this week. I did some work to move myself towards the front of the huge pack after the small break went up the road. I was working hard. It was survival singlefile in the wind on the rough patch after the bridge. I was looking for that sweet spot in the draft like last week, but it was no where in be found in the gutter eschelon. I popped myself and rode with some folks I didn't know, hoping some friends would come up. Eventually, Kathryn(more on her later) and some other guys came up and we headed up Maderia. It was beautiful as always and hard as hell, too. The wind and the grade are so steady. We got a ways up and then the fast group was coming down so we joined in. Good thing. Today was a bit of a reality check for fitness level.

But of course a day on the mtb made me feel tons better. Spring and I headed out to Tucson Mountain Park for a good ride on the dirt. Its just so pretty there and the fun factor of mountainbiking is a good reward to the week of road riding. I split m
Add Imagey sidewall in the first three minutes. Tires take a beating around here. The new Shimano m300s are very nice shoes. They are going to be great this season. I'm trying out the Ergon grips. They are very interesting. I'm not ready to make a judgement call yet, but I will say they seemed to help my steering on the loose corners.

There is a pic of my family away from home...Todd, Carrie and Fredo. I'm heading over to Amara and Jason's for dinner. They are the friends that we stayed with last year in Tucson. They will be moving to Harrisonburg in April to start up their own Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic.

I missed the Superbowl Sunday ride at home. I'm sure that it was a blast as always.