Thursday, April 21, 2011

38 Days to the Trans-Sylvania Epic MTB Race

It was a great weekend. David and Erin got married between crazy downpours and gusty winds. The weather was a total non issue as the Steel Wheels Band jammed under cover of the beautiful restored barn on Crusher Run Farm. The bride and groom were elated as they danced, laughed and ate pie. There was no wedding cake, but rather blueberry, apple and peanut butter pie. David was on cloud nine. Erin looked beautiful.

Then the former men's leader, Ryan Fawley( rallied me to go up to the WVMBA Big Bear race. Even though he is the former men's leader, I think this might be his year to get the title back. Ryan is riding great and his head is strong this year. Of course, its pretty tricky to win a race when Nick Waite( shows up. You could hear the grumbles of the locals when these pro show up. There were so many familiar faces there and some blasts from the past as well. WVMBA has an amazing thing going on.

The Big Bear XC race is held on an awesome course. There was a 6 mile prologue and then on to the bigger 14 mile loop. I love the starts at WVMBA races because they are fast, aggressive, crazy and usually a little bit technical. It was good practice for me. Since, I've "retired" from high level racing, the starts have been the thing that has suffered the most. There is just no quickness or power to my starts. And I get caught back and its slower. But having great singletrack always keeps my focus.

I got smoked at the start by my competition, friend and coaching client, Cassie Smith. Cassie had a great start and collected the $30 prime sponsored by Benji's company for the prologue. She actually had to physically grab the money, which I thought was funny. I saw Cassie several times, just seconds ahead, but could never close the gap. Whether it was messing up on the "Crack" trail, hitting a tree on a muddy road, or being a sissy on the creek downhill, I was not as smooth as her, nor as fast.

But I have to say how stoked I am that an athlete that I coach is making so much progress and is so strong on her mountain bike. She is a dedicated athlete who does all the workouts that I give her and that commitment shows and makes me proud. Also, her husband, Jeff, whom I coach as well, won his race, too. They are one fast family.

With the TSE(

only 38 days away, I'm getting more excited. It still feels early for a seven day stage race, but as Sue George said last night when I rode with her, "There is a pretty short window for summer in State College". But Sue got me psyched up for the race by telling me how much she absolutely loves the riding there. She loves both the variety and the rocks. Its her favorite.

The main issue, well besides the fitness thing, is the bike and tire choice. I'm really torn over the 29er. I just might be one of those freaks that don't think 29ers are the holy grail. For example, I am so much slower on my 29er on the downhills. Now, that is not scientific, but its a feeling. I don't feel as fast and thus I feel uncomfortable. Its strange because everyone says how the 29ers roll over everything. I feel like they are a truck instead of an suburu. The feeling I get on my Flux, which is set up as a 650B front and 26 rear, is fast and confident. I can flick the bike. I can jump the bike, I can do log hops, I can do manuals, I can rail the corners. On the 29er, I just hold on. Now, I love the 29er on the roads. But how much road is there actually in the TSE? And how much actual downhill is there in the TSE?

So, I'll race my Flux at Michaux and ride the Sultan 29er at Stokesville-Douthat-Stokesville and I will continue to debate which bike to use on which day at the TSE. And I know, its not just about the bike, but a bike you love can provide a greater measure of fun, which is what its all about.

Oh! and its Ramp time...get some King of Stink.

Monday, April 4, 2011

If you want to be a good...keep the creeps out!

This has to be my mantra for tough bike races...Keep the creeps out. What I call the creeps are the dark thoughts that I get when I'm struggling during a bike race. I call them that because they somehow creep into my thoughts even though I'm doing something that I chose to do, paid to do and love to do! The creeps go something like this..."These tires are slow and sticky, that is probably why you are so slow on the road right now." Or " You really need to start training seriously if you don't won't to feel like this." " You shouldn't of had that bag of potato chips and that BLT with extra B." Or the worst of all, " You are going to suffer so much and get your butt kicked up and down the state of Pennsylvania at the Trans-Sylvania Epic if you don't do some real training!" " Then you are so off the back with your training, there is no way, you can catch up to those other girls training base"

I just have to yell, " SHUT the FUCK UP" and it works. I finished the Dragon's Tale race in 5 hours. It was amazingly beautiful and I did fine. I pushed through the overcaffinated belly, the sticky tires, the endless hike a bikes and a very sore neck and upper back to win the race. I was so very tired afterwards, but know that a positive frame of mind has the power to keep the creeps out. The creeps are persistant and pernacious but with positivity, I'll prevail. And I know that I'll be suffering my ass into the saddle at the Trans-Sylvania Epic, but with the right attitude, I accept the suffering and smile and get that adventure vacation that I seek.