Race Report

Personal, Race Report

From Endurance to Enduro and the Monsters that Lurk in the Shadows


No Comments

I did say that I wanted to change my relationship with failure, right?

For me, mountain biking is a place to play around with life’s emotions. It’s a place to test out new theories, new feelings and create new stories about myself. It’s a more accessible venue to address some of my negative self talk and less-than-amazing confidence than alone in my head. It’s a place for me to rumble. Here’s the true story of how the (literal and non-literal) places I explore while mountain biking has helped me to re-frame competition, failure and pure enjoyment.

This year has been an interesting year for me, in terms of mountain biking. I’m not riding as much as I usually do. I’m doing other activities (like finally following through on strength training and running). It feels great to be rounding out my physical activities and that rounding complements my cycling in so many ways. The lack of actually riding, however, has left me a little out of shape (from where I was last year) and ill prepared for continuous gnarly descents (I’m doing great on short ones). Despite this, in classic form, I decided to jump in a little over my head. Don’t worry though, I picked the perfect venue, the Sturdy Dirty.

 

20160618_093048
You can feel safe with sweeps like these

Last year one of my goals was to race my first enduro. I’ve been getting a little rowdy on the downhill and wanted to expand my racing experience. So I signed up for the Sturdy Dirty, an all women’s enduro full of fun, laughs and adventure. Unfortunately, this happened, and I was unable to ride. I was able to attend with the crew and hang with some awesome husbands during the event. This year I wanted in on the action. So as soon as registration opened for 2016, Sarah and I jumped all over it. I was pumped. I had really upped my game last year and decided to sign up for expert class despite my fears of racing on an unknown double black trail. I wasn’t able to get out for a pre-ride and I did little (okay no) training for the race. It left me a little nervous, but I refused to back down from expert. Even though I thought about it (and I thought about it a lot). Better to aim high and miss than to sandbag, right? Riiiight.

IMG_0471
Acting as race support in 2015

Because the Sturdy Bitches were really upping their game with the race, there was a pre-ride/skills clinic held the day before. It was ideal since Sarah and I hadn’t made it up north to practice and now we could get a few runs in and polish our skills.

clone tag: -2590942838185652828
Is this the shuttle line?

Although the day didn’t go exactly as expected, Sarah and I still got a lot of riding in with a bunch of rad ladies. We started out with a pedal up to lower predator and I loved it! Meggy (aka my Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail) was ready for everything and the thrill of popping over small rooty, rocky drops and rolls immediately put a smile on my face. The day was just muddy enough to splatter your face but not throw your lines. I was reminded that Tiger Mountain is the home of intimidating roots and rocks that all have safe roll outs if taken slow and with confidence. SO MUCH FUN!

20160617_171344
By the end of the day, Meggy’s fun-o-meter was set to the max

We tried to hit up the next shuttle but JUST missed it. Half of our crew got on, so we picked up a new batch of riders for another pedal up to a new, only open for the race, trail known as section D. Again, awesome. I was feeling good and hitting everything with confidence and grace. I was feeling good about my expert decision (especially when Sarah said she wouldn’t let me back out) but still worried about upper predator, that double black with the rocky roll out that I was terrified of.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 3.58.50 PM
Karen showing me how it’s done

We were able to hit up a shuttle at lunch time (thanks to Compass Outdoor Adventures). We tackled our first pass down the mountain and I was still feeling good, albeit getting a little tired. I hit up the V-tree a few times until it felt smooth and found my line. My first attempt ended with me getting stuck between the trees, but balanced enough for me to put up my hands and say, “so this is the vag huh?” I like to think it was pretty amusing for the ladies watching. At least it was to me. By the time we got down, Sarah and I were both feeling tired, but I hadn’t been able to ride the trail that was nagging the back of my mind.

20160617_120158
Shuttle time!

As we rolled up for the last shuttle, Sarah tossed in the towel and the shuttle driver hooked me up with one of the coaches for the day and local predator expert, Karen. As we were waiting to see if anyone else had another lap in them, fellow MBO guide, Mielle, rolled up looking for a ride and I convinced her to ride with us (even though she wouldn’t be racing it the next day and the rain was starting to hit). What a champ!

20160617_144213
Requirements for new trails the day before a race: A coach and a buddy

I had built up the trail so much in my mind, but it wasn’t nearly as gnarly as I had expected. Lots of fun lines and several challenges along the trail. I told Karen that I wanted smooth and we sessioned many of the challenging sections until I could hit the right line (or any line in some cases). By the time we got to the bottom, I was so tired that I didn’t even have it in me to tackle the rocky roll out. I rallied enough to ride lower predator again, but that was all I had. Karen was an awesome coach with skills that I dream of having. Seriously, when she talked about pressure control and told me to unweight, I couldn’t even follow her line because I was so amazed by how much air she got from that. Time to start practicing!

20160617_151708
You play with the predator, you’re gonna get scratched

That rock roll out haunted my dreams. Even after an insanely delicious dinner with fellow racers and a spectator/coach (thanks Diana and Kat!), it still danced in my head that night. I like racing because it gives me something to train for. It gives me focus. However, as anyone who has ever played Monopoly with me knows, competition can sometimes make me a little weird (some would say a monster). And this race made me weird. It wasn’t even really the competition. Since I was racing expert, I had already decided it was just about me. The day before I had caught myself saying that my only goal was to not finish last. A minute after I said it, I had to circle back and correct it. My real goal was to get down the trails without injury. And spoiler alert, it’s a good thing that I corrected that. It gives you a picture of where my mind was though. I was getting wrapped up in fear and desperation and was NOT being my best self.  A weird little monster was setting up shop in my head and I played right into it.

20160618_085329
Race time!

Race morning came and I wasn’t able to ditch that monster. I was unsuccessfully talking myself off my ledge. I just kept milling around in my head. I chatted with other racers about my fear of the rock roll out. They met it with amazing confidence and assured me the second roll out (which I rode twice the day before) was much harder. And I could see that. The top one is all mental, but that is where I was. I was in the land of mental monsters. The roll out just gained more and more power and in my head it was a 100 ft cliff but no one else could see that. Really, the idea of the trail became the swamp of sadness to me and I was sinking. I was fighting it, but it didn’t matter. I was Artax. I was sinking. And the weather matched my mindset. It was wet and muddy and the rain kept coming.

20160618_141427
SO MUCH MUD

I kept up the good fight as a pedaled up to the first stage. It is a long pedal and there was plenty of chatting along the way. I tried to distract myself and it worked for a while. The first three stages were fun trails that I really enjoyed. When I finally decided to leave the smell of frying bacon to tackle the first stage I thought to myself, “fake it til you make it.” I lined up and then quickly realized that I had climbed myself into the middle of the pro field. Hmm… The monster kicked around in my head and I quickly abandoned my No Apologies! spirit and started riding for our alternate team, All Apologies. I let one pro go ahead of me and when I realized I couldn’t stand there all day, I let the rider behind me know that I was new at this and to just let me know when I needed to pull over (what else could I say?). There I was. My head was a mess and Oscar the Grouch was timing me. Really, that is how far gone I was. I was surrounded my fun and costumes and I was shaking in my Five Tens. Oscar sent me on my way and I had a little fun as I tackled the muddy trails, but I was in the mindset of the prey. I knew they would be coming.

66498433-Sturdy+Dirty+2016+49-4
Meanwhile, Sarah was in full on stoke mode

 

And they were. I happily made it past the road crossing and found someone else stopped up on a feature I would have ridden. But I didn’t ride it. I pulled over and that is when the first one passed. I jumped to the side of the trail for many people that day. All of them fierce and on point. I still can’t decide if they have racing mojo that I will never have, or if they too were just holding on. I suspect a little bit of both, because no matter how much I like racing, I like fun more. I like to maximize my fun on the course as much as others and I don’t know if you can do that while going ALL OUT. At each stage break I was surrounded by muddy happy faces and amazingly silly aid stations and I still felt confused. Was I having fun? The last stage was still looming in my mind. I had finally come to terms with the fact that I was going to ride it in this muddy muddy weather and that I would survive.

20160618_132508
The last stage!

The last climb up was amazing. A good trail climb can always put me back on track and it did. The lush green foggy forest was too much to handle. It was the picture of the PNW. It was rejuvenating. I took a breath and focused on what I was doing. I was living in the beauty of it all and I was riding my bike. Inspired by some summer camp graffiti, I thought to myself, “Be heer now.” I found my reset button and I was so happy that I hadn’t bail out of fear. I found my fellow climb loving expert riders and chatted about science, fungi and life as we rounded out the last of the climb. We had all been given the advice to walk the last climb to save our energy, but I couldn’t agree more with their sentiment, “I just want to ride my bike.” That is what were were here for and I was finally ready. I just wanted to ride my bike. And while I didn’t make it up the climb without some pushing and I CERTAINLY didn’t make it down upper predator without some walking, I finally beat the monster. Sometimes it takes conditions that you can’t take seriously to make you realize it is all about fun. Life is all about fun. There were so many spectators on that last section and they cheered me on when I was on AND when I was off my bike. After walking the rock roll out (I’m sure it is harder to walk than ride), I started a conversation mid-race (yep, certainly not a serious racer) until they reminded me I was racing! Oops. I set down lower predator with a smile on my face. That is why I race. For fun, for pushing my limits and for community. I whooped and made faces at spectators as I tried to keep my traction over roots and rocks. I came across the finish to find Sarah and other friends. I thanked a fellow racer for her infectious smile throughout the race and she gave me a big hug. Seriously. That is why the Sturdy Dirty rocks. You cross the finish line and hug muddy happy strangers. I love it.

clone tag: 1435913366558576853
The muddy finish

I still feel confused about my race, but ultimately, I think it was good for me to wrestle with that monster. Perhaps I could have wrestled with a smaller version of that monster in the sport category, but it doesn’t matter. I was the 4th one in from my category, but my time left me dead last. It is hard not to be a little disappointed in being so far behind, but I had made my goal. I didn’t give up and I made it down. Even better, I was laughing during the hardest part.

66498432-Sturdy+Dirty+2016+111-4
If you aren’t smiling, you aren’t doing it right

 

Thanks to all who made it possible and to everyone who have me such and awesome environment to struggle in. I wonder what next year will bring.
For a less conflicted write up of the event and some awesome photos check this out: Nikki and Colin’s Pinkbike Report

Race Report, Uncategorized

Mid Season Race Report


2 Comments

Howdy everyone! Just wanted to touch base, it’s midseason… how time flies when you’re having fun! I just wanted to let you all know how my downhill racing season is going so far.

Sea Otter Classic / Pro GRT 1 I raced downhill and dual slalom. This was my second pro race ever and first dual slalom race. My bike was a tad small for the DH Course I needed a bigger chainring on the Transition scout and on dual slalom I needed less fork. For being on a bit of a mechanical disadvantage I was able to secure 15th in DH out of 25 and 10th out of 15 in dual slalom. It was an awesome experience to race with some of my riding heros and be around such a festival environment. Excited to go back and beat my times next year!

SeaOtter2016

NW Cup #1 was at Port Angeles, Washington. This was a wet muddy practice and qualifying run however it cleared out for race day and was a blast to ride! They had us go down the new trail and boy was it steep and techy at the top. I ended up 5th in my third Pro race event ever.

NW CUP#2 CM

NW Cup #2 / Pro Grt #2 was also at Dry Hill in Port Angeles, WA. Same conditions as the race before and turned into and awesome race day venture! I improved my time on course from the previous year by 13 seconds and landed in 9th out of 19 women from all around the country. Brakes open and looking ahead!

nwc2_saturdaypractice-665

NW Cup #3 was at Ski Bowl in Mt. Hood, Oregon the track was absolutely perfect, the weather was amazing! The woods were a bit sketchy and slick where exposed roots laid out but I put the rubber down and attained 3rd place.

Processed with VSCO with se3 preset

nwcup3seeding

Jaime Rees, Kjersti Christensen,a nd Kerstin Holster (Pro Women).
Jaime Rees, Kjersti Christensen, and Kerstin Holster (Pro Women).

NW Cup #4 took me to Silver Mountain Bike Park in Kellogg, Idaho. It poured on Friday, stayed overcast on Saturday and was sunny Sunday making the pro track perfect before race time. I hit the biggest drop that I’ve done so far, that I’ve been wanting to hit since last year and got 3rd place in the race.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 3.31.35 PM

NW Cup #5 went back to Ski Bowl at Mt. Hood, Oregon. The weather was not as welcoming as it was in previous races. It poured Friday, Saturday and Sunday seeping into the ground. While Cannonball and the upper bowl tackiness was still there, the woods got really muddy and slick. I was off my game and felt like this was the worst I had ridden all season. I got 2nd place but still was a tad disappointed in my time. I look forward to facing similar conditions to push my mind strategy and my limits on the bike.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.05.58 AM

My next couple races will take me to Yacolt, WA this Saturday to try my hand out in Enduro racing. After that I will compete in the last two NW Cup races at Stevens Pass in Washington. Wish me and my fellow competitors luck! Hope you all are having a great season!!

KhPodium

To stay up to date with my race schedule and my results check out: www.kerstinholster.com 

 

 

Race Report

Git’r Fritter!


1 Comment

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. 

IMG_1375

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.

IMG_1411
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!

IMG_1452
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


No Comments

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!


No Comments
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, Race Report

The Racing Gene – NW Cup #3 -Ski Bowl


No Comments

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.

roi-holster-ama-pro-hero-shot4fab4da98a14b.preview-620

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.

IMG_4865

IMG_4412

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.

IMG_4861

IMG_4862

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.

IMG_4864

4fab4da98a14b.preview-620

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.

IMG_4813

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.

Race Report

Ride the Tiger!


No Comments

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!
Race Report

Race Recap: NW Cup #2 – Port Angeles, Washington


No Comments

By: Kerstin Holster May 15 – 17, 2015 BEEP BEEP BEEP!! My strikingly loud alarm clock went off at 4am from across the room. It was one of those moments where you jump out of bed so fast you don’t remember how you get to the other side of the room. Rye and I sleepily got up, chowed down some breakfast, slurped our coffee, hoisted the bikes on top of my Subaru wrx and sped away before the sun came up. Leaving Corvallis, Oregon behind for a 6-hour trek to Port Angeles, Washington all in hopes to be in that number one podium position two days from now. IMG_4346 We pulled into the parking lot of Dry Hill about 10am right as practice was starting for the Category 1 classes. We ate a quick bite of bananas & granola and up we went into the u-haul to the top of track. Butterflies and nerves in my stomach, all from excitement of how this new track was going to be! As I put my 100% goggles over my eyes I took a deep breath, grabbed my grips and started my decent. IMG_4359 The track was slick on Friday, lots of rocks and the berms didn’t seem to want to hold, and you really had to trust your tires. There was a few times that I almost lost control but I held it together with only a few really close calls. After 6 runs down the hill, I was loving the track. Steep, technical and it was a test to me as a rider. unnamed-2 Saturday was when I really realized how awesome the course was. I ended up taking 7 runs down the hill and really started attacking corners and dialing in my lines. It was very warm on the hill about 65 degrees’ I am so glad I had my Royal enduro jersey on since it was so light and breathable. By the end of practice I felt confident about all of my lines aside from one jump towards the middle of the track. IMG_4382We watched seeding and pro qualifiers after practice and wow it was incredible. I couldn’t believe how fast the men and women were going down this track. I tried picking up a few lines in spots I had problems from the pros and watched with awe & inspiration in my eyes. I cannot wait to encourage someone like they motivate me. IMG_4339 Sunday morning came around Andy, Justin, Wood, Rye and I sat around the table and ate some bacon, eggs and toast. We stretched and hustled around to get the rental house cleaned and packed before we left for the track. Let me tell you right now, Justin and Andy are some of the best cooks! I learned a lot from them this weekend of how important nutrition, stretching and sharpened focus could really help determine your results. IMG_4325 We got to Dry Hill in time to put in some practice laps; the course was absolutely in perfect condition. The morning dew had helped retain some moisture in the dirt, it was tacky and rolling very fast. I felt really good about my lines and after I came down the hill, I was ready to race. Waiting up at the starting line for the timer to go off, I breathed in deeply and exhaled, repeated this process three times and off I went. One phrase kept repeating through my head “smooth is fast… smooth is fast.. Smooth is fast.” I barely heard the crowd yelling, I had tunnel vision, my heart was pounding as I pushed my riding abilities. It didn’t feel like long and I was on the final stretch I threw my shifter into second to last gear and sprinted hard giving the bike every last bit of energy I had left. I ended up in 4th place, we had a blast this race round; it couldn’t have been more fun. Great people surrounded me, we had great food and the riding was incredible, I can’t wait for the next race! unnamed-1 My goals for training until the next race in Mt. Hood June 19-21, 2015 are to practice doing sharp corners that lead to jumps, carrying my speed and continuing to work on body positioning and form. I want to thank #Hi-5bikes, for all the support they have given me this season. Thank you to my sponsors #raceface, #ride100%, #royalracing, #thegravitycartel, #fox, and #7protection. And another big thank you to our awesome photographer Ruandy Albiseruz check him out on his website: http://www.ralbisurez.com/ or his instagram: @pnwroo , twitter: @ralbisurez , facebook: Ruandy Albiseruz