Race Report

Git’r Fritter!


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When Saturday, August 1 rolled around, I finally got to ride in my first “A” race, the Fritter 50 in Oakridge – a challenging 50 mile endurance race with almost 9,000 feet of climbing and some really fun singletrack. 

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I had been training for the Fritter since May, when my brother and Rheannon encouraged me to sign up for the race after we rode about 70 road miles through the McKenzie Pass and back. I remember them encouraging me to sign up for endurance races a year or so ago, but the idea of riding even 30 miles sounded daunting. Nothing like completing something you thought you couldn’t do to create new goals.

It’s nice to have a focus, so I actually enjoyed how much mental energy this race has taken over the past couple of months. Training and preparing always kicked up a flurry of questions each time I got on my bike: am I riding too much, too little? What should I eat? How much should I rest?

The big book I ignored. But seriously, I will eventually need to train better for longer races.
The big book I never cracked. I will eventually need to follow this gospel if I intend to train for longer races.

True to my form, I ignored the strategy of training by the book and instead used Jim’s and Rheannon’s advice coupled with some sporadic, light Googling. I definitely think that if I plan a 100-mile race in the future, I’ll have to be more considerate of my body and it’s needs, but I spent many hours in the saddle this summer, so I was pleased at how prepared I was for this race.

How I would handle this ride was a big question mark all summer, but on Saturday afternoon I rolled up to the finish line smiling and feeling good and properly tired. I hadn’t hit a wall, experienced no “bad” misery, and never felt like I was in over my head. No Ragrats. Not even one letter.

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Party and rest time!

Race morning started out on a positive note, much of this because of my lovely No Apologies teammates Rheannon and Stephanie, and the thoughtfulness and awesomeness of my teammate and race co-director Michelle. Michelle and Derrick fed us well before, during, and after the race, and honestly, I don’t think there’s a nicer bunch of aid station volunteers than those at the CCP. Steph and I arrived in Oakridge early on Friday to help out with registration, and we observed how much heavy lifting, running around, and lack of sleep this race takes to function.

Stephanie shows off her race swag at the Mercantile on Friday.
Stephanie shows off her race swag at the Mercantile in Oakridge on Friday.

After a good breakfast we got some final bike prep from Jim, then my teammates and I rolled across the covered bridge onto the road with a few dozen other riders. Because this was my first endurance race, I stayed steady at first. I had ridden most of the course before and I knew how much climbing lay ahead of me so I was cautiously saving my legs.

Last minute bike prep, compliments of the official No Apologies! support crew - Jim Blount.
Last minute bike prep, compliments of the official No Apologies! support crew – Jim Blount.

We soon funneled onto the North Fork river trail, where it wasn’t as bottlenecky as I thought it would be. Still, I rode hard to keep from holding up the riders behind me, even though there was plenty of hike-a-bike for most of us. Soon enough, we were back onto the road for the Long. Climb. Up. At this point team No Apologies formed an evenly spaced parade of coral-colored jerseys with Stephanie in the lead, followed by Rheannon, then me. Following Rheannon helped me keep a pretty moderate pace up the road; I made a new plan to finish that part of the climb a bit faster than I was comfortable with, and slowing down for all the switchbacks and climbs that followed. There were moments when I could see a flash of Stephanie about a quarter of a mile ahead of me, but I lost her on that climb and didn’t see her again until she met me at the finish line, wearing flip flops with a beer in hand.

Rheannon and I pre-riding the road climb a week before the race.
Rheannon and I pre-riding the steep road climb a week before the race. Our smiles should not belie the unpleasantness of this section.

I reached the top of the climb – Windy Pass – and noticed that Rheannon had sailed past the aid station onto Chrome Toilet, the first singletrack of the day. Naturally, I forgot to unlock my rear suspension, but I had a great time on Chrome, which I’d never ridden before. It was especially cool to follow my brother, who had met up with Rheannon on the road climb to support her ride. I don’t get to follow him very often, and he’s quite fast.

I lost those two on Chrome and exited back on the road, where I had to climb back up and out to the aid station. I wish I had ridden Chrome Toilet before, because I wasn’t prepared for such a long slog out of it. Anyone who has completed a race in a rural setting can relate to the anxiety that crept up on me as I pedaled up this lonely road, wondering if I was going the right way. These situations leave you three options: power ahead, either being rewarded with a confidence arrow/sign or risking a really big detour, turn around and figure out where you are, or wait for another rider to put your mind at ease. I actually stopped at one point to fiddle with my GPS, but soon heard the reassuring spin of a wheels coming up behind me. Another rider = right direction!

About halfway through that climb I spotted the confidence arrow I was looking for. Still, that road climb was longer than I expected. I had the U2 song “Zoo Station” stuck in my head, only I kept singing “Aid Station” because that was what I was hoping to see with every turn. Eventually I did, and I stopped for a bit of PB&J and a chat with the volunteers. This is where I ran into Julie, a rider from Hood River who found our blog online and let us know she was going to race. Julie and I stayed within site of each other for about half of the ride, but she ended up beating my time by about 20 minutes.

After a some salt and carbs I descended upon Alpine, which is breathtaking in its scenery and just a shit-ton of fun.

Another amazing trail view brought to you by those lovely G.O.A.T.S.
Another amazing trail view brought to you by those lovely G.O.A.T.S.

I loved listening to my music on this section, pushing myself to ride faster than I’m comfortable with. It was funny seeing photographers embedded in the grass and behind trees. My facial expressions (the “Blount face”) are the humorous – either I’m descending with concentration, mouth agape and slack-jawed, or I’m climbing with a sort of incredulous look on my face, scrunched-face and squint-eyed.

The mountain-bike-Blount face on a long hot climb. No apologies.
My ubiquitous mountain-bike-Blount face on a long hot climb.

I’m fairly new to Oakridge trails so I took lots of photos during this section…

Selfies with seriously the NICEST aid station volunteers I've ever met.
Selfies with seriously the NICEST aid station volunteers I’ve ever met.

One inspirational log on the Cloverpatch tie-in trail had me stopping in my tracks and backing up to take a photo.

Just what I needed to hear.
Just what I needed to hear.

After Cloverpatch, I ran into Jim and Rheannon and some watermelon at the final aid station, right before a lovely, final climb through what Derrick described as a convection oven during the pre-race meeting. This is where I realized it was probably hotter than hell below 4,000 feet where I had spent much of the day, but I took it pretty slow and steady and just zoned out to my music.

Rheannon is one of the main reasons I signed up for the Fritter. That and the excuse to eat "training doughnuts."
Rheannon is one of the main reasons I signed up for the Fritter. That and the excuse to eat “training doughnuts.”

I got back on Alpine and rode past Buckhead shelter, which signifies a descent for the remainder of the ride. This part of the course reminds me of Bend, with a flowy section before you really get going with switchbacks all the way back down to the finish line in Westfir. This is my second time riding these switchbacks on a full-suspension, and I would have liked to take advantage of that and ridden faster, but I was really feeling the fatigue at that point. This is also when I suddenly began experiencing a little “bike shaming”, as I call it – squeaky brakes broadcasting throughout Central Cascadia just how slow I was taking each turn.

Some dude in polka dots flew past me towards the end, which initially confused me, since I had either pulled well ahead or fallen behind any competition at that point. Then I realized he was racing the Cream Puff and was on his second lap. Beyonce’s “Move Your Body” helped me down that last section and I got to the finish line in 8 hours and 3 minutes, with some gas still left in my tank!

In addition to being an attractive addition to this rural scene, spotting the Office Bridge signals the end of the race.
In addition to being an attractive addition to this rural scene, looking down onto the Office Bridge signals the end of the race.

This year’s Fritter was all about finishing and seeing how well I did with training. I want to use this experience to set some training goals for next summer’s races and see how well I can improve my time.

Like I said earlier, I met Stephanie at the finish line and together with Jim and Rheannon, we rode back down to the river to take a little therapeutic dip.

An après-ride dip in the North Fork of the Willamette felt GOOD but was hard to climb back out of.
An après-ride dip in the North Fork of the Willamette felt GOOD but was hard to climb back out of.

At 6 p.m. Michelle officiated the Fritter awards ceremony. Stephanie had ridden hard and took 2nd place in Open Women’s at 7 hours 3 minutes. She beat me by a full hour, so I was pretty shocked when my name was called for 3rd place!

High-fives for second (Steph) and third (me) place for open women's.  Michelle made the after race fun with the awards ceremony.
High-fives for second (Steph) and third (me) place for open women’s.

Dear women mountain biker/readers – this is an open invitation to get involved with the CCP Fritter next year! I plan on improving my time and I won’t be taking selfies so watch out!

Michelle made the after race party fun with fun prizes, including my new CCP cycling cap.
Michelle made the after race party fun with fun prizes, including our new CCP cycling caps.

All in all, this race was exactly what I expected – a challenging and rewarding experience. I have a lot of gratitude to my friends and family who encouraged me to pursue this and went on lots of rides with me this summer. I can’t wait to ride the Fritter again in 2016!

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For me, race day wasn’t over on Saturday – I had to drive home, pack for a work trip, and leave for PDX at 2:30 a.m. for an early flight to San Diego. After a big experience like that, I like to debrief and share race day stories. My fellow teacher and lovely friend Kristina was patient as I began every other sentence with “during the race…”
Race Report

24 Hours of Awesome


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The Oregon 24 is a very special race for me. In 2012, when it went by the name of High Cascades 24, it was my very first mountain bike race. I hadn’t been mountain biking for long, but my enthusiastic friends and husband had somehow convinced me that a 6-person team would be a lot of fun. I was a ball of nerves leading to the race and I was was convinced that I would be slow and in everyone’s way.  However, my fears did not come true and by the end of the lap I couldn’t stop smiling. My night lap was a little more of a challenge and the only way I got through it was by staring at the glow sticks adorning my bike and repeating “This is fun. I do this for fun” to myself until I almost started to believe it. At the end of the 24 hours, it felt so good to survive it that I actually did believe it was fun. So much fun that I decided that maybe, just maybe, I could be a mountain bike racer.

The race that started it all.
The race that started it all.

This year was my third Oregon 24. I missed 2013 because after a year of training for the CCP I had filled my sufferfest quota for the year. I believe that this was the best year yet. I raced on the best 5-person women’s team in history! No Apologies! represented with myself, Soso, ZimZam, and guest racers Bridget and Clarinda. We started out by setting up our home base in style. We had two onsite bike mechanics/personal cooks, a crazy friend riding a solo 12 hour, three dogs, a homemade banner made from beer boxes, mood lighting, multiple tents, two double eno hammocks, endless amount of food, fresh brewed coffee, adult beverages, lots of spirit and endless excitement. We were living like kings and we were ready to rock. After an obscene amount of pancakes with various fillings and flare, we made our plan of attack while our mechanic (my husband) dutifully tuned our bikes.

Our master-plan for world domination
Our master-plan for world domination

We were sending out Zimzam for the first shift and each of us would (if up for it) complete two lap shifts. Once Zimzam placed her bike at the startline and meandered to the beginning of the Le Mans start, it was on!

Skittles and ZimZam looking pumped for that run
Skittles and ZimZam looking pumped for that run

It took us a few rounds to really fine tune our off time, but eventually we got it together and heckler’s corner was born. Heckler’s corner was close to camp and allowed us a view of the incoming racers as they made their descent into the transition area. We could clock our riders’ times and heckle all those who passed!

Damn it feels good to be a heckler!
Damn it feels good to be a heckler!

Lap times were impressive and were much faster than we had initially thought. It was clear that we were going to do a lot better than we had planned for. Although there were 4 other 5-person women’s teams, we were blind to our competitions’ progress because of a timing booth hiccup. However, it didn’t matter. We were feeding of each other and pushing hard. We were determined to make this our best 24 hour yet!

Night Lap Fun
Night Lap Fun

My reaction to our better than expected lap times was a mix of excitement and fear. Once we got going, it was clear that this would not be a relaxed attack. We were going to give it our all and get as many laps as possible. Excitement was so high that when Soso went to take over she almost started riding through the transition zone (a big no no with a 30 minute time penalty). By the time I went on my first lap, the sun was setting and we were about to enter the hardest part of the race. After ZimZam’s second round of two laps, Bridget was ready to attack with the dreaded late/early shift: that 1:30 am time period when no respectable person should be on their bike. She handled it well and barely lost time even when her lights failed her on her way back in. She had to desperately creep behind racers to use their light. Later, I heard a racer describing a lap at night where she was convinced she was being stalked by an animal. I only smiled and imagined Bridget creeping behind her grasping for any stray light she could get.

The welcoming glow of camp
The welcoming glow of camp

We were barely gaining time on our laps and rocked it out for the rest of the race. We were stoked to finish with 20 laps! That was about 5 more than we expected (we will have to address our sandbagging problems later). Since the results were still a mess, we had to ask our neighboring team, the Dirt Divas, how many laps they had done. We had just gotten in at 24 hours and 15 minutes and they still had a rider out finishing their 21st lap. Damn! So close! We only hope that the Dirt Divas are willing for a rematch in 2016 and that we can have another full field for 5-person lady teams. All of the teams were really close and we all killed it out there! So, if you are reading this, start getting your team together and meet us out there! We might even share our pancakes and heckles.

ZimZam: Always prepared!
ZimZam: Always prepared!
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
Personal

Back in the Game


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My early summer was struck down by injury. I was off the bike for almost 7 weeks. Completely off– I didn’t ride around town, the block, anything. For an average American, this doesn’t sound like a big deal. To me, it was a major life disruption. It made me realize how amazing my life is on a day to day basis; how thankful I am to have the opportunity for adventure every day of my life. I know that a big part of it is me, my husband and my community. We put a lot of energy into building a life of adventure, wonder and sheer bliss. I struggle with anxiety and adventure is the best medication I have found. It just has to happen- bike or no bike. And it did. There were sunsets and waterfalls all around, but I have to say, there is nothing like mountain biking. I sometimes feel like we have been let in on the best secret in the world. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t spending all their waking hours (and more) on a bike.

The best views
The best views…

After 7 weeks off, I am reminded of another reason why mountain biking is the best sport ever (p-value = 0.000000007). It is such a mental sport! It takes me to a place in my head where I have to meet some of my deepest fears and one of my biggest critics. It is a constant dance with yourself and with your limits. Last week, I did my first real trail rides since the injury. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, even though my injury wasn’t from a big crash (I literally fell over sideways from a standstill and dislocated my shoulder), I was still feeling timid. This has a fair basis in reality since the odds of dislocating it are much greater right now, but I was surprised at how timid I was.

...and the best friends.
…the best friends…

My first lap down the beautiful steep, rooty mess that is Cummins Creek introduced me to one of the biggest problems with fear: sometimes it makes you do stupid stuff. I had to find the line between being too timid and too brave. Even though I roll my eyes whenever my husband says it, sometimes you just need speed AND you just need to go for it. You are either in or out, but being in between often throws you over the bars, into the corner or on your butt. This is the line I was playing with. It’s the line that I am always playing with, but it is heightened when returning from a crash or injury. I have to both trust myself and know my limits.

...and the happiest dogs.
…and the happiest dogs.

The second lap was pure joy. I opened it up. I played well on that line. I loved every second of it. This is why I love mountain biking. If you are able to examine your fears, your trust issues, and your own criticism, it will reward you one hundred fold. It’s a bonus if you can apply these lessons to your daily life as well, OR perhaps I am overthinking it. Either way, I love it and I am so happy to be back at it!

Adventure Report

Lessons of the 50K


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On Saturday, June 20 I volunteered as a sweep for the Mary’s Peak 50K trail run. Being a race sweep means I stay behind all the runners, making sure they are safe and on the right course, all the while clearing the course of all the signs and markers.

I had looked forward to sweeping this race on my bike because since I started training for the Cascade Creme Puff Fritter 50, I’ve got the crazy eyes for long distance rides. Plus, race promoter Mike Ripley always creates an interesting and challenging course.

 

Crazy Eyes, aka me on a mountain bike.
Crazy Eyes, aka me on a mountain bike.

This experience ended up being different than I expected, and I learned a lot from both the long hours spent on the course and my riding/volunteering/training buddy, Clarinda.

 

The 50K course
The 50K course

I drove up Woods Creek Road to meet a group of very fast looking runners swarming out from the Mary’s Peak North Ridge trail head. An army of nicely toned legs and the crazy look of ultra-anything flew past me as I frantically pulled my bike out of the back. Yes, I was a bad volunteer that morning.  I was running late and had parked my truck just moments before the racers took off.

After I got on my bike and checked in with Ripley, I joined Clarinda, and we set off for what was to be be a very. long. day.

A word about my friend Clarinda. After working in Minnesota for the past few months, she was back in Corvallis for a handful of days when she was asked to fill in last second as a volunteer sweep the following morning. She said yes, and I was happy to get to catch up with her and chat about what she’d been up to.

We took off down to the North Ridge extension trail. Whoops. wrong turn. Now we see the trail head. That was just a warm-up, we told each other. Haha, right? As we headed up the extension we ran into the 25K runners just bombing down the hill toward us.  I always tell trail runners that they have it easier because I can at least sit down on my bike. Sort of a joke, but these guys in particular struck me as seriously aggressive and impressive.

The part where I got silly
Getting silly: just for cyclists? I hope not.

At the end of the extension trail we were back at the parking lot and faced the biggest elevation gain of the day – North Ridge trail up to the top of Mary’s Peak. I think Ripley has fun planning his routes, because as a cycling and running event promoter, he seems to enjoy having his runners run up what is popular for cyclists to cycle down. Take North Ridge for example – rooty drops characterize this switchback-heavy technical climb. Most people choose bike up East Ridge. Buuuuut, this was not a race for mountain bikers, so a’slogging we did go, hoping to finally catch up with the slowest runners and feel like we were doing our job.

Riding down North Ridge in May
Riding down North Ridge in May

Multiple runner-free switchbacks later and reality was settling in – we had ridden only a few miles and climbed just a sprinkling of the 5,000 total feet of elevation. We stared up at Oregon’s highest coastal peak and started asking ourselves questions. Clarinda wondered why she had so readily agreed to this the night before. She pondered on her general tendency to agree to things.  I wondered: did I trick her into doing this? Am I a total jerk? Am I going to break my friend? Will we ever see those damn runners? (Nope on the last one.)

My friend Chris calls this “Level 3 fun.” The kind of fun that is often only enjoyable in hindsight and includes a mixture of misery quests, getting lost, and in this case, realizing early you may be in over your head and there’s nothing you can do about. Just finish. Get your butt in the saddle and your feet on the pedals and seal the deal.

Our slog-fest up to the peak ended at a very busy parking lot; in addition to the 50K there was the Mary’s Peak Hill Climb Time Trial. I checked in with my fellow volunteers and then cruised over to the other event aid station. Oh yeah, new station with new treats. These folks did not disappoint, and offered me bowls of full-sized candy bars.

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Hmm. Bananas or full sized Snickers? This involves classic high road/low road decision-making skills.

Non-bike related commentary: Different aid stations are much like different houses on your trick or treating route, and getting the full size stuff is like when your mom drives you to the rich part of town and you end up totally scoring.

Busy summer day at the top
Busy summer day at the top

After making an unappetizing electrolyte cocktail of Gatorade, Heed, and Nuun (taste buds < bonking), I biked up to the proper top of the peak. Riding a figure 8 pattern with a view that spans the Cascades to the coast, I cleared the trail and met Clarinda back down at the parking lot. We reminded ourselves that the hardest climb was over. Down East Ridge we rode, out of the Siuslaw National Forest and into the vast network of singletrack on mostly Starker Forest and other private land. I appreciated the opportunity to discover some pretty cool trails and revisit some that make up the Mudslinger XC race held every April.

Clearing the top of the trail run on a beautiful and clear day at Mary's Peak.
Clearing the course on a beautiful day at the top of Mary’s Peak.

Bagging Mary’s Peak may have been the hardest section, but our ride was far from over. After checking in at several aid stations, we realized we were never going to catch up with even the slowest runners. I guess when you sign up for a 50K trail run you mean business.

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Clarinda pauses in front of some very dangerous looking ferns.

So, cruising along the course, we had a lot of time to chat and had established a nifty little system for clearing the all the signage: roll up to the tree/fern/green thingy, carefully extract the fluorescent pink and white ribbon from the branch/frond/green thingy, apologize to all fronds damaged in the process, pull the signs stapled to the trees, scoop up mini traffic cones, and cram them into a giant pack on Clarinda’s pack. Slam dunk. Do you know how many slam dunks you can have on a 32 mile course? So dang many. We rode a bit, we cleared a lot. Rode a bit, cleared a lot. This resulted in an interesting cadence and fewer apologies to the greenery as we yanked ribbon, roped off sections, and oh so many little orange traffic cones.

The rest of the ride pretty much followed this uneventful pattern. But the final stretch was most memorable for me. At 4:30 p.m. we rode an exposed, high grass trail called Mohawk that affords a beautiful view of the coast range. We stopped to eat and check in with people via text. Yes we are still alive. Clarinda and I had expected to be done by this time, but all in all we still had another 3 hours to go. As we made the final stretch down the gravel road to the finish line at the Blodgett school house, a truck came roaring up behind us. It was Ripley, rolling down his window and gingerly trying to find an acceptable way to tell two hard-working ladies that they were “balls deep.” Go ahead and say it, I told him. He agreed, and offered to help clear the rest of the course leap-frog style. Yeessssss please. To this day (7 whole days later) I see an innocuous little ribbon tied to a tree in the forest and I scream in my head NOOOO!

A quick late afternoon snapshot on Mohawk trail, in the Blodgett area.
A quick late afternoon snapshot on Mohawk trail, in the Blodgett area. Note the exploding flannel in my new favorite accessory, Revelate’s Feedbag.

And that brings me to the point of me writing this post – after riding 10.5 consecutive hours with Clarinda that day, I was amazed by the smile on her face and her super positive attitude in the face of something challenging and frustrating and more than a little tedious. Hours before she had doubted herself, but she was totally fine! In fact, she went for a ride the next day. I don’t always reflect such positivity but she inspired me by her actions. Earlier Clarinda had questioned her tendency to agree to things, but her willingness to get out there is what makes her a good friend for me to learn from. At the end of the ride as we loaded up our bikes, she reflected on many things she learned that day: her limits are far higher than she thought, she isn’t so worried about some upcoming Oregon 24 Hour Race, and she knows a bit more about the right mix of hydration and nutrition on long rides. As for me, I was pretty happy to log so many hours on my bike, since the Fritter could take me nearly that long, and Clarinda’s positive spin left me in a pretty good mood. We never did catch those runners, though.

Beer and burritos after a long day of sweeping.
Beer and burritos after a long day of sweeping.
Personal, Race Report

The Racing Gene – NW Cup #3 -Ski Bowl


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July 19-21, 2015

Mt. Hood

NW Cup # 3 – Ski Bowl

You never realize how much something means to you until you put it all on the line. What I mean by all on the line is: “to give whatever it is you are doing, every atom of energy that you have to give”.


For me this past weekend I realized that my dreams, goals and vision are truly becoming my reality.


Growing up my dream was to become a Professional Motocross racer. Every weekend we would load up the dirt bikes and I would watch my Dad compete in races. He was stunning to me, watching him soar in the air, rip apart the dirt from the surface of the earth and roll on the throttle like hell on wheels. My Dad is relentless, resilient and never backed down from his dreams. At 52 years old he is on one of the fastest series known to man. Parallel to a graceful poetic dance he finds the fountain of youth on the Moto America Road Racing circuit.

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What is incredible is that my Dad retired from Motocross and Arena cross to make sure my sister and I were raised right. He raised me alone, my half-sister had a mom and our Dad, so most of the time it was just Dad and I. After decades of being out of the racing scene he taught my sister and I how to ride motorcycles. The first time I rode my own dirt bike I knew that I was hooked, already at only 6 years old. I rode around in a big open field on my Honda z50, the good old kind with a red metal gas tank, big wheels and leather seat. My Dad had to chase after me to get me to stop.

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From then on it was an addiction I would not be able to relinquish. The racing gene was inside of me, it has shaped me, helped me grow and it challenges my capacity for growth everyday.

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My dad discovered road racing at a track day at Infenion raceway in Sonoma, California on his newly gifted Yamaha R6. We could see it in his eyes, how the racing gene boiled inside of him, as he grinned from ear to ear. This one single day eventually led my dad into racing in the AFM (American Federation of Motorcyclists) and he had his Professional-racing debut when he was almost 50 years old.

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My dad displayed unyielding results in AMA SuperSport West and made the move up classes to Daytona SportBike. He currently is still moving up the ranks and pushes his limits not only as racer but as a father, my inspiration, my motivation, the apple of my eye and the person I think of when I’m on the starting line. In my mind he tells me that I CAN do this, I CAN win and I CAN achieve anything I put my mind too.

This weekend was my debut as a Cat 1 racer, winning my first race of the 2015 season. It also happened to be Father’s Day. Before the race I thought to myself. “Wouldn’t it be cool if I won for not only me but for my dad?”


The Pro/Cat 1 race-course was burly and unforgiving. My first time on the course Friday I wasn’t sure if I could make it down the full length of the rock garden. I managed to buckle up and gain my confidence & speed throughout the weekend. On race day June 21, 2015, I released ever atom of energy that my body, mind and spirit could expend. All I could think about was my Dad and how proud of him I was and how proud he would be of me for chasing my aspirations. My time was 5:13:68, winning by .18 of a second, the last few petal strokes and grunts of pain were worth it.

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All of my tears, pain, heartache, joy, passion, optimism and strength came down to this moment. I cannot wait to race for what matters in the Professional realm next season. Having the racing gene wasn’t a choice but something that I was born with. If I had a choice I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Cheers to my Dad, Roi Holster for instilling in me the work ethic, passion and drive that it takes to be a successfully racer. I cannot thank my sponsors enough for believing in me and helping make my dreams a reality.

Thank you to www.ralbisurez.com / Instagram: pnw_roo for the amazing photos!

Hi-5 Bikes, Raceface, Fox Suspension, Royal Racing, Ride100percent, The Gravity Cartel, and No Apologies MTB.

Personal

Goal Reset


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I dislocated my shoulder 5 weeks ago. I have been dedicating myself to dealing with this injury as gracefully as possible. I vowed not to have any major meltdowns or sink into depression. Injury is integrated with the sport that I love and I have to learn how to deal with it. I prefer to keep it to a minimum, but it is an unstated risk that we take every time we get on the bike. I won’t say that I have been 100% successful with cultivating grace, but like any challenge, sometimes it takes a few tries. I might say it is a little like that skinny that you keep riding off of. You don’t fall, you just kind of ride off the side. You keep doing this until you listen to yourself and look ahead and relax. Nothing to it after a few tries. So, that is where I am. I keep riding off the side of my injury skinny, then I shake it off, relax and look ahead.

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And the good news? This shoulder dislocation isn’t as bad as it could have been. I have a mild Hill-Sachs impaction and a minor tear in my inferior glenohumeral ligament. It will take time, but it won’t require surgery and likely won’t take as much time to heal as the other bad things that can happen when you dislocate your shoulder. I am trying to be good and listen to my physical therapist even when he dodges all questions about timelines involving the bike. I guess we will know when I am ready. I just have to be patient.

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Not too bad!

In the meantime I have been finding ways to stay busy. I gave my PhD proposal seminar. I have have been camping and hiking with friends. I am taking advantage of not having wheels by hiking in wilderness areas and with some of my very best friends who don’t ride bikes (I still love them). I have been playing the role of the supportive shuttler; when you can’t ride it is important to enable your friends to have as much fun as possible. And of course, I have been doing PT exercises and spending a lot more time on stationary recumbent bikes at the gym.

Shredding it in the gym
Shredding it in the gym

Now that I have a plan and an end in sight, I am starting to look ahead and think about how to adjust my goals accordingly. I really love goal setting. As cheesy as it can be, it is a system that works well for me. My goals pre-injury were to finish the Cascade CreamPuff  and my first enduro, climb 500,000 feet for the year, improve my downhill skills, and learn how to manual. I don’t have a date I will be back on the bike and I don’t know how slow the progression will be. However, I can think it is safe to say that my planned enduro and the CreamPuff are out. I still have my fingers crossed for the Fritter (the half CreamPuff). I will have to wait and see if that will be possible, but a girl can dream. What does that mean for my future with the CreamPuff? Will I tackle it for 2016? Well, I wouldn’t want to give any spoilers. What about my climbing goals? Missing two months when you are trying to climb half a million feet in one year is a pretty good setback. I can’t imagine being able to make up for that AND make progress on my PhD. I will say that IF my return goes well, I will have to shoot for 417,000 ft. That means I will have to come back strong with my climbing, but I am going to be optimistic with that. Downhill skills? Well, that was a loose goal anyway. I just wanted to go out and practice. I can do that when I am free to do the fun stuff. Manual? Yep, I can still work on that towards the end of the year!

A lot of blank days...
A lot of blank days…

I am extremely stubborn, so I hope that these will be realistic adjustments to the year. It is possible that I will have to readjust as I go farther down the road to recovery, but that is part of the process. Goal setting is a process of getting to know yourself. It is about learning where to put the end point for maximum growth. It isn’t about hard and fast rules. It is about setting yourself up for accomplishing things that are just out of reach. It is about learning from failures and setbacks. This injury is just a setback. I hope to learn how to let go of some of my stubbornness and be kind and patient with myself. Dealing with downtime can be just as important as pushing performance. It can also serve as a reminder to appreciate everyday that I am a well enough to spend hours on the bike doing what I love most.
Do you have any suggestions for dealing with setback? How do you deal with injury?

Race Report

Ride the Tiger!


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c73dfa_8dacc5b5919a49a2a4f4e85cd2168e1b.jpg_srz_p_490_276_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzLast weekend Rheannon and I met Stephanie in Seattle for the Sturdy Dirty, an all women’s enduro race at Issaquah’s Tiger Mountain. Racing enduro was new to all three of us; unfortunately Rheannon didn’t get to race (she would have killed it!) but she did a great job hiding in the corners of the trails, catching great shots of the riders!

The first thing I noticed about this event was the interesting mix of beginners, amateurs, and pros.  I suspect a lot of them were like me – goal oriented, wanting to have a good time, but mainly wondering what the hell an enduro race actually was. It made for great people watching and mental note-taking for this newb.

The vibe was friendly and social, and the promoters were definitely angling for enjoyment (while the ladies stood in line at the Tiger Summit waiting to race stage one, a group of men walked around offering us bacon pancakes, energy bars, and blue sno-cones. This involved aprons. It was awesome).

After a few “enduro sized” pancakes and some friend-making in line, Stephanie and I embarked on stage 1 down E. Tiger Summit. This trail network has become one of my favorites. When I was a kid, one of my favorite places was the wave pool at Big Splash. After a day at the water park, my head would be swimming in the waves. The grown-up version: my sleepy mind drifting over rock gardens and root drops.

Riding Off the Grid in April
Riding Off the Grid in April

Honestly there wasn’t as much riding as there was socializing and  fun-having. (Riding in a tutu: a characteristic of enduro??) Instead I’ll just give an account of my favorite aid station, “Little Mexico.” Rolling into the bottom of stage 3, we were met with dudes in sombreros and a tidy little tequila bar. I don’t even like tequila but hey, the timed sections were over..

Zamora being cheered on by un tiburón and Senor Sombrero.
Zamora being cheered on by un tiburón and Senor Sombrero.

Overall it was a good amount of climbing, which made Stephanie and I happy, a decent amount of descent, and a more than healthy amount of food, ending with a burrito and beer feed and fancy schmancy tiers of cakes. (Side note: my little Shredly jersey did a great job of stashing all the fuel food I grabbed at the aid stations – these products played second fiddle to the tantalizing junk food offerings. I drew the line at Kahlua pudding shots on a hot day but took a mental note to make that magic happen later.)

And the results: I didn’t come in last. This is good. The not so good: the volunteer who kept telling me to go faster. Thank you, sir. I forgot I was in a race for a second there.

Some day I will go faster. My new bike is helping me on this front. But for now I will have to settle for 36 out of 46 in sport class. And the knowledge that I was able to ride so much more since my first visit in April. I’ve got the Eye of the Tiger!

The verdict: While most of my riding experience has been cross country, I had expected, well, more riding. But I got something different from what I was expecting. My first enduro gave me insight about women’s events and excitement about where we can go with No Apologies. Perhaps coolest of all, I have a greater awareness of the different types of awesome ladies out there riding. I think the Sturdy Bitches were aiming for that, and they got me hooked!

Tequila!
Tequila!