Author: zed104

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A New Year


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January, the start of a new year and a slate cleaning of sorts.  I have new adventures awaiting, racing to do and riding without a thousand layers to look forward to.  January always seems to be this weird transition back to reality for me.  You’ve successfully made it through the fog of the holidays, perhaps a bit heavier, less active, and hopefully with some new motivations for the upcoming year. The end of fall came and went, and here we are in the thick of winter.  I know it’s only January, and the Mudslinger is 3 months away but it will come quickly.  I have some work to do between now and then.  My plan for fall was to start trail running, and that I did successfully until, well the holidays happened.  Even Aspen the Golden suffered from not enough outings and visitors with food, but we enjoyed every minute of it.  Being a sloth is good for the soul every now and again.  But, we have now emerged from the holiday fog and started trail running again; we are back on track!  I yearn to MTB more but our trails here on the island are so swampy and the roots are wet and very slick, and I know somewhere in the back of mind it’s a bad idea.  Some may say I have become soft.  Trail running of course seems like a much safer activity where the chance of falling is less, or at least I have rationalized it somehow.  Since turning 40 I have come the harsh realization that I am in fact, not made of rubber. It’s this fact that makes me rational, which may be equivalent to the fun police.  I know I have many miles of MTBing come spring, so for now we enjoy the trails on foot.

The other thing I enjoy about the new year is looking at races and deciding what my season is going to look like. What races will I return to? What new races look intriguing? And of course, what I can I afford?

After a fairly (for me) successful season last year, I plan on upping the ante for this season.  50 mile MTB races are a thing of the past; it’s time for 100 mile MTB races.  Why, you ask? well I like misery quests in hot weather, simple enough.  It just seems like the next logical step.  So my winter now is filled with goals of nutrition, yoga, just to keep everything moving, and of course riding.  I am fortunate to live someplace I can ride year round if I choose and have Aspen the Golden as my workout motivator. I am not going to lie, I miss my group cross-training classes and my MTB family.  It’s not always easy or fun to work out by yourself with a dog, but it’s what I got and she keeps me very motivated.

This year my goal is to go into the season more prepared physically, race smarter, stay healthy and of course injury free! Actually racing never seems as hard as all the preseason work.  Again, 3 months to the first race will come quickly, but I’ll be ready.

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So onward I go with Aspen the Golden, another dog who doesn’t apologize!

Adventure Report

McKenzie Double


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As we work our way into Fall, I thought it time to review one of the most epic rides of the Spring.  It’s called the McKenzie Double, or simply just “the double”.  It happens over Memorial Day weekend, and is a birthday celebration with bikes and people you love to ride with. As a bonus, it also includes at least one night of crazy camping.

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As the name suggests, it is a double day event. The first day is a road ride via the 5,325 ft McKenzie Scenic Pass ride aka 242 (As seen on this year’s custom Yanco hats). The second day is the Mckenzie River Trail (MRT). The ride up the pass is in short: amazing! The beauty of 242, aside from the scenery, is that the road is closed to car traffic every spring. It was great to have zero cars to think about while riding and enjoying the view, and there is a lot to take in. It was great to share the road with only cyclists and the occasional walker while making our way up to the pass.  The pass is like a moonscape and offers amazing views….IMG_4647 IMG_4639  IMG_4646

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…and smiles all around, because what comes next is a lot of downhill, a temperature increase, and ice cream in Sisters, OR.  All worth the ride up!  Arriving in Sisters was like riding into New York City after being in the solitude of the mountains, but ice cream was worth it! We weaved through town to get our well deserved treat before heading back up the pass from the other direction. This is a shorter, steeper climb and it is over before you know it.  Happy to make it back to the pass, we layered up for our ride down, cause it was winter-like cold.  I think Dan probably was the most prepared for his ride down….IMG_4641

As we made our way back down to camp the reality that this epic ride was coming to an end began to sink in.  But the fun wasn’t over yet! When we rolled into camp, the size of our group almost doubled with more bike friends that had done a mountain bike ride that day and wanted in on the birthday fun.

And what’s the most important and first thing one should do after riding 70 some miles? Go stand in the VERY cold creek for 15 minutes.  Everyone swore that it would make my muscles feel better in the morning. Since we did have a mountain bike ride the next day, I decided to partake in this recovery ritual.  It was cold but I hafta say my legs felt ready to go for the MRT in the morning. After recovering from our recovery bath, we had an amazing meal, some good hang out time, a great fire with friends, and dogs, enough said!  The next day would have some fun things in store, or so we thought…..

We started the morning off with fresh legs, and coffee in hand ready to conquer the MRT.  We ate, packed up camp and drove on down the road to the trailhead.  We arrived and organized ourselves into groups and rolled out for a full day. It was beautiful with not too much traffic, bike or otherwise.  That was until we reached the Tamolitch Blue Pool and it was as if someone had turned on a people hose and sprayed them everywhere, and I mean everywhere!  We sat for a small break and a bite to eat and gazed at the blue pool and hoped the people would thin out. It was a good hope, they just got more layered to the point where we had to walk our bikes. This went on for what seemed an eternity, in reality it was maybe a mile.  Our next short term goal was to make it Trailbridge, and figure out if this mt bike ride would continue.  There was an escape vehicle there, so bailing was an option.   I was surprisingly exhausted mentally from the ride the day before and had come to my end point.  Too many people to enjoy riding, and a few of us decided that we would end our ride there and get shuttled back to the car and head home.  Sometimes you just gotta call it.  Despite the people on the trail it was a beautiful ride, and it’s a trail that certainly keeps you engaged.  Even though we opted out early it was still an awesome weekend! You can’t beat riding, hanging out with friends and just being a dirtbag for a few days.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a holiday weekend.

Race Report

I Love Misery Quests!


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2015-06-27 07.42.25-2
La Elephant

I love to ride my bike long distances for fun. It’s this thing about knowing in my head that I can do it, and then pushing through all the negative thoughts that enter your head while spending literally hours on your bike mostly alone, and then finishing strong and feeling good! It’s that epic feeling of knowing the hours spent training are paying off piece by piece, your liquids and nutrition worked, and you finished without a mechanical and in one piece. It is this feeling that I revel in days later. And for me, at this point in my training, it was just what I needed, just a little boost to know I am on the right track with time spent on the bike, whether it be my mountain bike or commuting bike.

The misery quest was the Capitol Forest 50. This race has traditionally taken place much later in the season, but this year it happened in June. The nwepicseries.com folks are awesome promoters and put on a great race, from the free camping to the after party, and of course everything in between.  I have to admit that I signed up in early spring thinking of course I’ll have plenty of time to train, and cross train, to make 50 miles seem like a walk in the park.  Even with the best laid plans, all I can say is that life happens, and here we are June 27th and I have 50 miles to ride. I was a tad nervous with the elevation factor because I don’t have access to a lot if it, but what I did have was base miles, a lot of base miles. And I think in the end that’s what paid off. As race morning approached I gathered my things, checked my bike and made sure I had plenty of fuel in the tank. I was as ready as I was going  to be. Riders were called to the start for the pre-race meeting and then the anxious wait began. Instead of starting in waves, they changed it to a mass start due to heat. We got the countdown and we were off in a fast moving cloud of dust. Riders were jostling for position and then the singletrack bottleneck happened. Knowing this is what happens, I try and hang out in the back of the pack when starting. Once I got my tires on the singletrack I was off to the start of a 6-hour tour.  I was fortunate enough to get on a mountain bike train for the first 12 miles. The singletrack was fast and mostly in the shade. When you popped into the open areas, it was like riding into an oven and I was pretty sure I would combust.  These sections were thankfully short lived ,and you were soon back in the safety of the shade.  It was a great motivator to keep the pedals turning.  The miles continued on, and I knew the only section that may be challenging is called the “Greenline” trail. It comes at a point in the race where your arms are noodly and your brain is wandering. This trail is downhill, technical and loose, and I knew if I could make it through upright the rest would be easy. I made it through upright, but not without challenge. I was doing a little Enduro on my rockin’ hardtail. At the end of this section you are at the 42 mile mark and the last aid station.

The tan I''d been hoping for all summer
The tan I”d been hoping for all summer

From this point there are only 8 miles left.  8 miles, 8 glorious miles with one exposed brutal uphill, some flowy single track, a bit of pavement and then done!  The brutal uphill is mostly exposed and feels like you are climbing Mt. Everest, but it comes to a shady, swoopy single track end.  At this point last year in the race there were many people that were suffering with you – this year I was a lone rider.  I continued to shove negative thoughts away.  My left leg was starting to cramp, and I had some miles left. I was able to stretch the leg a bit and keep pushin’. I knew I could give it my all because I was almost there. I was never happier to see the left turn ahead to the pavement ahead of me, but a bit sad that this 50 miles I rode was over. I did it, I finished and felt good despite the heat. And I’ll probably be back next year, because I love misery quests.

2015-06-27 14.36.45-2
It took 50 miles but my hair is finally tame
Race Report

2015 Mudslinger Breakdown


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NO Apologies! team members, Rheannon, myself (ZimZam), and Soso represented at this years Mudslinger. We had two podium finishes and 1 happy upgrade to the longer loop (Cat 2). The morning started early with volunteering at registration, followed by a quick change, a lightning speed warm up and a one mile group ride to the start line. And there is where this years Mudslinger began….we all started together in the same women’s group, you could feel the nervous energy of the first race of the season.  We were off with a 30 second countdown, Rheannon and I stayed together for the first couple of miles, it felt good to be racing again and to be riding in my old backyard. As we progressed uphill though I couldn’t keep her pace, and I slowly fell back.  I kept Rheannon in view for a bit and then the pink jersey became a small dot before it disappeared. My first goal was met, stay with her as long as I could, and then race my race, and as long as I could keep a decent pace I knew I would finish, and not finish last.

IMG_2641There we were, riding and jostling for position. Looking for the position you most likely will maintain during the race, you usually end up leapfrogging with people. This results in riding with a group familiar faces by the end of the race.   I settled in and was happy to keep picking people off. Races for me are funny, I scream going uphill and I am always caught by the slow climbers on the downhill, it seems to be a good equalizer.  The first major uphill was a virtual mudslide, and it had some walkers already in progress. I was never going to make it up and past 3 walkers, so I dismounted and fell into the uphill walk.  This is where I lost time, a lot of time. I knew though if I could get up the hill, back on my bike and put my feet to the pedals I could make up some of the lost time. All I could do was just keep pedaling, the course played to my strengths of climbing and singlestrack, so I focused on those and let the rest go. Most importantly I still felt really good and was happy to be riding, I wasn’t dying or wanting to throw my bike off a cliff. The only times I get really nervous in a race is if I don’t see any other riders for awhile, that happened more than twice but I eventually caught up with other riders. In the back of my head I was hoping one of those riders would be Rheannon, but no such luck. I did fall back with the group I had been leapfrogging, and we were near the entrance of the Panama Canal I got in front and took off, disappointingly it was the readers digest version of the Panama Canal, as soon as it started it was done. I was so looking forward to that section, its technically challenging, some great single track and just enough off camber to make it fun.  I knew we were getting close to the turn off to head of the road, and if I could conserve enough energy to get up the road quickly my race would be done.  Once we made the turn to the road I shifted into the large ring and took off. And yes I did use a few groups along the way for a pull, but it was up to me to stay in front of them.  And that I did, I finished by myself at 2hrs.  I was scanning for Rheannon, I knew she had finished and in the back of my head I did wonder how far off her time I had finished.  It ended up being 8 minutes, and a great motivator to know what things I need to work on to stay with her.  So 2 of No Apologies had finished, we waited anxiously for Soso.

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We were excited to hear how her race had gone, and if she felt like the long course was a good decision. We of course believe the longer you are on your bike, the better. But I am sure not everyone feels the same. She looked great as she crossed the line, and decidedly was glad she had done the long course. We were excited to have the first race with multiple No Apologies! in the books, we were officially a team. We finished, had some fun, and came out unscathed. All of that equal success in my book.  As we stuffed our faces with food we recounted our experiences and waited for results.

IMG_1675I was hoping for top 10, and not last place.   They have WebScorer, which gives live results, and as people cross the line the results are continually changing.   So there I was in the open women category looking at a 3rd place finish, I thought it was for surely a mistake, so we waited, everybody was in and they were updating and getting people into the correct categories. Strangely I was still 3rd, unbelievable I thought to myself. During all of this 3rd place uncertainty in my mind we checked Rheannon’s results, she was first in her age category for women.  It then started to sink in, we really are badass.  I was 3rd and she was 1st, and Soso made an upgrade to Cat 2, it couldn’t have been a better Sunday.

Missing 2/3rds of a podium
Missing 2/3rds of a podium
First Podium!
First Podium!
Race Report

Coast Hills Classic 2014


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Because the Coast Hills classic is upon us this coming weekend, I thought I write a little story about the race that started it all for me. I had been in Corvallis only about 9ish months, my first months riding were done alone on my cross bike, with Pandora blaring, and Strava.  I knew no one that rode.  My claim to knowing the Mac so well is that I rode most of those trails by myself, on my cross bike the wrong way and usually in the rain. So I continued on this way and figured eventually you always meet people that ride, and really you can’t be too picky.  You have to throw yourself out there and start meeting people and riding and see what happens.  So that is what I did, it was a women’s spring group ride in Blodgett.  I threw myself out there, met some great gals, and met Rheannon and SoSo.  And so my days of riding my crossbike the wrong way with Pandora blaring and Strava recording every inch of where I had been were in the rearview mirror. I had made riding friends, let the adventure riding begin. So from that day forward we rode, and we rode long, and to new places on mountain bikes the correct way on the trails, in the sun.  It was blissful, and I was so excited to have riding friends.  Racing season was just around the corner, I had honestly never thought of myself as a mountain bike racer.  I raced cyclocross, commuted a lot, and just rode a mountain bike for fun.   Its funny in life who you cross paths with that change your thoughts and ideas about things.  After a few months of riding with my new friends I started feeling like “yea I could race”.  Rheannon had her spring and summer mostly dialed with races, training schedules, nutrition and goals.  I was in awe, we started riding more elevation than I had thought humanly possible, riding often, and riding long miles.  And then she asked if I was going to to race the Coast Hills Classic, and I think I laughed.  I had already bypassed the Mudslinger on a count of it being too muddy, and I am not sure how thats much different than cyclocross but it is.  And now with the Coast Hills Classic a week away I had to make a decision, but my saving grace was that I could register day of so I didn’t have to commit until that day.  As the week drew to a close, we had talked about it and were both in.  Then the early morning text, Rheannon was out.  I was torn, it was going to be really easy to sleep in, oh and it was raining.  All good reasons to stay where I was, in bed.  But no, I got up got my things together loaded up and was off to the coast for the day.  It rained the whole way there, and it didn’t let up.  I thought who in there right mind gets up early on a Sunday, drives an hour to race in the rain, and pays money.  Well, I suppose I am now that person.  I got there and found where I needed to be when, parted with my money and I was officially registered.  So there I was warming up in the rain, I rolled to the startline when they called.  It was a sea of people and I was able to get close to the group I would start with.  I looked around and positioned myself at the back of the group, I figured that was the safest place.  I thought to myself I am way outta my league and I had no back up, it was just me.  These gals were serious and the talk was of times, and past races.  All I could think was please dont let me finish last, and please let me finish in one piece…and then we were off, and those girls were off like cruise misiles.  It was all I had to just to get up the road to get to the trailhead, then I thought I have 19 more miles to warm up why am I killing myself.  I settled in, and enjoyed the ride.  The trail was muddy, and it would suck you in.  There were grassy uphills I regained time, and forest roads led you into more muddy singletrack.  It was a 2 lap race to make 20 miles, so the advantage I had was I had already ridden the first lap so I knew what to expect.  Lap 2 was a little faster and way more fun.  The rain never let up and it was a mudfest, I finished smiling and my bike was well preserved in a thick layer of mud. Oh, and I finished 2nd to last, in one piece.  So I had achieved the goal I had set forth for myself. It turned out this race started it all, a year later I now have more goals, training schedules and a few races on the horizon for this season.