Saturday, August 17, 2013

BE 2013 stage 7 - the toughest one yet... other ways than most of the racers who probably woke up after stage 7 with a slight headache.

My seven was get in the car after the awards. They went on a bit longer than I had thought, but neat to be part of.

On day one all riders had their mug shots taken right after the stage, still dirty. They were used to give each rider a nice plak. For top three in each category they framed it all up. Super nice. 

I was second overall in the stage race, but since I won the Enduro overall I was also awarded a plak and the unofficial world m.f champ jersey and title 2013, Awesome! Off course I raced the XC and my plak with 2 is what really means something to me and was a lot of hard work, racing some very strong women. But I had fun with the Enduro and will enjoy the title for a year, the part of finding a computer by 8pm each night was probably the most challenging part, thanks Tim, Rick and Michelle.....:) 

Then, after awards it was car time. Made it an hour so north of Denver. Today I got up at 5am and did the rest of the almost 20 hrs drive (feel like a winner, no leg cramps and no tickets).
Missed the light blue bag and smiley faces at the feed stations, but this got me through;

It's good to be back. Hopefully unpack truck tomorrow, clean bikes and go for a spin before getting ready for what is my norm these day; mon flight up north, work and recover while looking forward to the weekend. Plan next bike adventure after doing a little vacation count. 

Quick but big thanks to everyone who cheered and supported though the week in various media or in person in Breckenridge, and to Ridleys Cycle for their ongoing support at the store when I show last minute needing something :) 

Happy Riding!

Friday, August 16, 2013

BE 2013 day 6 - leave it all out there...

... was the strategy; though knowing top position was out of reach on a short day, second could easily be lost if I had a bad day, only 4 min on Sue. Two long fast descents and two climbs, shortest day of the week. Back on my HT and during my pre spin legs felt they would need a little bit to settle in and my back was not happy. But as most last days in stage races the extra bit of adrenaline covers up all pains and as long as you tell legs to keep going they sort of will. 

Start was moderate for a very short time. I hoped to keep up to pace to avoid bottle neck that I'd heard of. Did ok, Amanda has this extra output before each down or single track that I can't match and she got in front. We still hadn't started the main climb, so probably ok. She set the pace and eventually we were down to the main road climb up. Closed the gap to a guy that set a pretty good pace up the road, but eventually had to let him go. Saw the feed and today I had no intentions of stopping at feed. The single track down starts just after the feed on the road. Noticed Amanda getting ready for a bottle, so made sure I went quick to get in on trail ahead. From there I gave every bit I had, with out risking a silly flat or wipe out. Super fun decent. I especially enjoyed the bottom section, on dirt in the trees. But of course the road came too soon. Time to climb again. Last one of the week. 8 miles or so, tried not to look back and just pedal. It was long and hard and windy gravel road, snaking its way back up to the same feed as we went through before. Just before the top I could see pink behind me. Got to the top, didn't need drink since all down from here. Big ring and pedal as hard as I could. Short section of gravel before single track. And then, a Spain repeat, a bump knocked the chain off big ring. Stopped quick, but it had managed to create two twists on the chain. Ever put a new chain on, trying to untangle? Well, after fiddling fixing one bend, creating a new...Amanda came by, she slowed down and I took a deep breath, focused, looked carefully and got the puzzle right. Got on and back on track. Thanks to Amanda for the nice gesture letting me catch on, only few meters before the decent. Super fast double track to start, fun but had to watch line for rocks, and I knew by Amanda's gesture before entering she was not going to hammer and risk any big time loss by a flat or mechanical, smart, but I didn't know where Sue was in the mixture. Then some road for a bit before hitting the very last section of single track that Tim took us on day 0. I knew this section so left the last of what was left and a great trail to finish this day on. Big smiles by everyone coming down :)

It's been a great week with a little bit of everything. Very well put on event, great volunteers, great town, perfect weather, experience in higher elevations, spectacular views, great racing. My take back for next time would be; fly down or have more time to enjoy the town, as I'm already packing to get on the roads after awards tonight. 

Happy Riding!

Day 5 recovery lunch... good! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

BE 2013 day 5 - oh the smell of bacon... the top of wheelers pass was maybe the only highlight of my day, though the decent after was quiet good. This part of the course would be a great ride with some good friends to enjoy it with and a shuttle at the end. Took some time to look at the views even though heights are not my thing :)

Climb of The start

Didn't feel very recovered today bit after four hard days that might just be perfectly normal. We started with the big climb of the day pretty much right off the start. A little bit of single track decent to get us woke up then up and up and eventually off the bikes hiking. I could always see the lead girls but made the mistake of just doing my thing as long as they were in sight. As we started the hike a bike section my group was not walking fast; well relative to the groups ahead as the gap grew. I thouht maybe I should try to get by but it was steep and just a tiny goat track. So settled in. Then the bacon. It smelled good. As we crested I was told it was about 4 min already to the girls! Crap.. That is a lot of time to try to catch on a 15 min down. I road the decent hard but safe. Had to get by a few people that today were awesome at finding first opportunities to let me by. It was rockie and super fast, a mistake could be bad so I kept race out of mind and fun factor super high. The full suspension might have been overkill for what to come but I totally loved it for this. At the bottom which came so quick I saw no girls in sight. And now a long section of paved road and bike path. Yikes. Headwind of course and it just never ended. Got to hang on a super fast guy for a bit but couldn't keep the cadence it required for very long. I was still hoping that some good trails would come out of all this work. At feed two we had dropped to 8500 ft and according to my note we had to get back up to about 10500! Grind up some less fun stuff, then walked some, ride some, walk some. By now I was not impressed, this was suppose to be the big decending day ...according to those who know.. Bike path decending I guess. Then some single track from rooty and rocks to smooth.... And the last, dug as deep as I could. 

Lost some time today so with probably 10 min off the lead, not possible to get on a short stage tomorrow that includes quiet a bit of road, no my favorite. Ill have to dig deep to even keep my current position, with about 4 min to Sue who is very strong both up and down. Retiring the FS and 24/38 crank, and going all out. Sounds like a good plan :)

Happy riding!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BE 2013 day 4 - the grinder... what we were told and it was true. Long 44 miles, wicked views, challenging climbs and fun descents. Sort of what a long day on the bike should be :)

Recap of what I still remember. Did a final Starbucks stop 10 min before start and never had to stop during the first climb! Highlight of my day :)
Today's start (stolen of FB)

Moderate pace didn't last very long today. As soon as the gravel hit everyone seemed fresh and ready to go. Amanda went early up front and I couldn't hang on so kept my pace as usual. During the decent sometime I got back on track, but just as quick as I was caught up we lost the lead by taking a wrong turn. I thought I didn't seem right but made the mistake to follow. It happens. There were some guys with us as well when the road ended we turned back and about 4 min according to strava times. Back on track but not in a good position. As we came through first feed I wasn't sure how many girls were ahead. I stopped and did my feed routine, while Amanda went on, and that's the last we road together today. We went up and down about 3 more times before feed 2. Mostly good trails. Passed a girl I've not seen yet this race, who else where up front? Saw Sue climbing one section so this was good motivation. She was having a hard day. Next climb was fairly open so I could see Amanda ahead. Pushed as hard as I could. 
Feed two came and grabbed a fresh bottle and some lube for my chain to prepare for the big climb. 7-8 miles long! Mostly road and double track, gradual up is probably my weakest area and I struggled. Just kept it going, not fast. Shoulder was really not happy today so worked on stretches and different positions to keep mind busy. Survived the climb. Some fun descending and through feed 3 I was told 1min 45 to Amanda. Ouch, and one smaller but hard climb before the final decent. I dug as deep as I could and all of a sudden I see Kristin (the Norwegian girl). She had an awesome day and was climbing strong. It took a while and digging some more to get passed. During the final decent I could see Amanda one switchback ahead of me, great...but this loose stuff is not my friend so rather than closing the gap I'm sure she made it bigger. Forgot all about possible flats as we road some sketchy rockie sections high speed. And all of a sudden the finish was there... Second again. 14 seconds back. Kristin came shortly after in third.... Norwegians kicking butt :)

The rest of the day was as all the others. I try to plan for some down time, but it seem to be go go until bed. Just finished setting up the dually, yes, see how it does. Save my shoulder and have some fun. Well what I hope anyway. 
Quick swap of cranks and all set...

Quick note on Enduro, since its sort of missing. There is a category and some are reg for it, though they let anyone be part of it by loading data to strava each night. I'm not paying too much attention to it, but it is a fun element. If the trail is clear I'm gona go as fast as I can either way, but often this is hit and miss, and for the real Enduro racers I would think that they put some strategy to it. So far I've done good, and have three wins, I think at least once or twice per day I've been fortunate to have clear path and most people are pretty good at giving you the space to go (though that said, my friend from yesterday appeared in front a couple times again today, and takes is sweet time to find a safe spot).
Since I can't tell from strava what are segments, I never know how I did until the next days award. So today, not sure, felt I was riding behind someone on most of descents beside the very last one so we will see.

Happy Riding!  

Stole some other shots since I've been absent in photo taking.

Stage 3 somewhere...
Today's award, Amanda still about 5-6 min ahead. Sue fell back a few minutes today.
Today's award for Enduro .... Sue is definitely a contender, ripping it up. 

Food has been great, many cool spots in town...awesome tomato soup and kish (spelling?)

The deadgoats are ripping it up in the mixxed, Steve and Julie still in the lead, 27 seconds!
Rick and Rob doing well, but where is Rick? Hot tub?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BE 2013 day 3 - this is fun riding..

... and why I love to ride my bike. It had it all, nice and brutally hard climbs up to epic views that few get to see, fun technical down hills, fast trails with flow, rockie mind shattering sections, specially with a fully rigid bike today...and all this with equally passionate riders to smile and share a couple words here and there. 

Woke up feeling more like a normal person this morning, ate simple breakfast and didn't force anything I didn't feel like, but planned on being very disciplined on the bike and at the feed stops. Tracie did well  helping me obey my rule of eating! Got my drop bags in and got a short spin before the start. Notice that my fork is maxed out on its travel just cruising town. No tool to get the negative pressure released but was able to get some extra air in (thanks sue's helper). The start was as usual lead out by local police and this time very moderate pace. I like that. Get the old body warmed up a bit. Finally hit the gravel and pace went up a little bit, then hit a gate and bottle neck; lost track of the girls and figured they were up ahead. Stopped for my pee, and learned they were behind. I was so happy with the trails early on, great downs, traverses and ups. Came quickly to feed one, followed my rule with help from Tracie, stopped and had a little "meal" on a bottle. After hearing stories about this day I was really not wanting another repeat of yesterday. Right after the feed we slowly started the first epic climb. I thought it was awesome, hard but just such an epic out in the back country ride. Did my own pace but could see the girls up front. Had some good guys around me that made the extreme hard sections sort of fun, and just for show pushed a bit harder to sit on bike passed the walkers, that didn't last too long though. Eventually we hit the summit and got to have a skittle... Amanda and Sue where already descending and I got behind a fellow that wasn't too happy with me on his wheel but he didn't really put much effort in letting me by. Eventually he slows and let me by, I thank him and move on. Super fun high speed narley mountain summit trail. At the bottom it opened up and was more rocky but several lines could be chosen and besides the risk of a flat I totally enjoyed this section, even though the fork felt like a rigid one today. At the bottom I had both Amanda and Sue right there as we go through feed two. Swap bottle and start second epic climb of the day. 
This was road for a bit gradual gradient and the pace wasn't super hard. I figured Amanda knew what she was doing and that it would be wise to sit on the pace. Sure enough it got steep and it was long. Just before the summit Amanda pulled up and I was about to accept an expresso but she was ready to hammer down so better not (I have stock of ccc so no worries there). I was loving this section. It started out pretty smooth and then got rooty and rocky, nice and  technical. Sue got on our wheel. The only way to get by was if Amanda made a mistake, but she road it flawless, and in a good pace. I got some bullets from a hail storm hit me, a stick in the derailure that would let go. Quickly stopped to pull it. Sue snuck by, the guy behind her was nice enough to let me go. Got to feed three all together again. Great to see some goats, and grabbed my meal on a bottle, thanks again Tracie, good idea to bring it with me...finished it up!
Based on the previous conversation there would be some hard sections on this final climb. Again sat with the pace until I made a call that we must be close to the top and it would be good to get ahead on the final decent, well I thought it was final. Legs felt ok, so hammered up the rest ( not really, there is no such thing going up here...:). Didn't get much of a gap but and the decent was a double track high speed smooth ride, fun. Then some more pedalling and the legs started saying enough already. Eventually I recognized the single track section, we road it before but up. The famous berm trail. I'm not the best as the dry loose stuff, and behind me comes Sue flying. Not too many passing opportunities for her, but as the trail opened up a bit she moved and passed. Now we got in to my kind of single track, rooty and rocky with good flow, fun way to end the day. No passing opportunities, she was riding too good, so followed across the finish. And Amanda only a few after. Just as the rain started pouring. Time to pedal to town to find a jacket, after the most awesome day on the bike. Hard but fun factor of 10 out of 10. 

SRAM rebuilt fork again, so back with suspension tomorrow :)

Happy Riding!


Monday, August 12, 2013

BE 2013 day 2 - just as hard...

... as I woke up expecting it would be...maybe a tad harder :)

Morning went smoother even though this would be the first one were I had the headache and nauseated feeling people had talked a out. Could be many things but seems like altitudes gets the blame for all out of norm sensation and really just anything... Gota be the altitude :) 

Dropped the drop bags at the event tent and headed down to start area downtown. Spun the legs around the block and quick Starbucks washroom visit before lining up. At the start line I was told I was the leader in the Enduro event, cool. Get an nice looking jersey but since pockets were packed and start to get going I opted to get one after; might regret this as it might just have been my one chance. Today the segments, besides maybe one, didn't feel fast with a bit more people in front, still fun to push it when you can. But today even when I could, I'm not loving the loose stuff with unknow corners and high speed. Had one near death experience that smartened me up for the rest of the day.

A shot from the award to show of the swag...

So the start was moderate, escorted by the police again. It quickly got us into a good climb and as yesterday I fall behind a little bit. Did my pee stop as we got close to the top, and then a super fast double track down to some single track fun traverse. Cought up with the rest of the lead girls. Felt ok and by the time we got to the big long climb we all rode together (minus Karen, the Pivot girl, which I'm not sure what went down as she was not at the finish list). Amanda set a nice pace, she knows the course so a good one to pace it with. Behind her was the Belgian girl Alice and Sue and me at the end. As I had no good idea of the top it sort of came out of nowhere and all of a sudden we were going down in this order. Amanda took off and Sue couldn't seem to get by, and wasn't going to try to take two passes on, some some pretty angry Enduro racers did, not a pretty pass as he almost took me right down the hill...but it did the trick for him. It was a fun long decent. At the end it got more loose and switch back and eventually the Alice pulls aside and let us by. Almost right after thhis Sue hits the rear on a rock and similar to my scenario yesterday. See Stan's flying then none, so I though it might had sealed. She eventually pulls over. Not so lucky.
I can see Amanda as the terrain opens up, and we start climbing again. Even though I'd felt ok all day all of a sudden I feel like there is nothing left. I try to drink more (my bottles were still pretty full) but can't dig in. Role through feed two not too keen on riding more as I know is about 5 mile up hill coming up soon. It was gradual with some flatter rough single track and I barley moved forward. On the last few switch backs up I was caught by Alice, she looked strong and encourage me to pick up the pace. I pulled over and let her go as there was no picking up. The down to the finish was way shorter than I'd hope so there was no catching time there; which at that point was totally fine, at least I could get off the bike for a few minutes....rough ending, but good day overall. The climbs were epic, took some time too look around, looking forward to decending some of them later this week. 

Amanda had a strong finish and got a few more minutes on me after feed two. Sue rolled to stay third overall, I jumped one spot to second, and Amanda is now in the fancy lead jersey. Fun field and still nice and laid back. Most people are here to have a good time and ride bikes. I might not partake in all the chit chat when we ride, but not cause I do t want to...I'm still trying to figure out the breathing and talking at the same time. 

Finish line photo by Michell, thanks!

Rode back to town with Alice, dropped bike for wash before it got busy. Got my legs in a tub of cold water and hope for magic tomorrow. Another big (bigger..) day tomorrow. Up around 12000 ft and crossing the continental divide twice...Epic is in the name and not for no reason. 

Thanks to Tracie and the rest of the crews out at the feed stops. They are awesome as they like to say it here...:) thanks Michelle too for finish line photo.

Happy Riding!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

BE 2013 day 1 - plug to the rescue...

...and I will never leave without them :)

Wow, I'm as tired right now as after 3 days in fernie a few weeks ago. But some good rest should help.

A little bit of a typical Kate start of the day. SRAM was set up and I was there on the dot 7am. And kudos for great service. The guy totally rebuilt my fork and even took me through each part and explained; ill still leave it to the expert for future fixes. They also put a SRAM rear rotor on as the filling of the calliper was not totally clearing the rub. So it's now almost 8 and I go to change by my truck, but no to condo..and back...get to ride up the hill quickly, my kinda warmup anyway and at the start for 830.

The start was fairly moderate guided up a road climb by local police. No crazy riding to get good positions and doing silly things in the peloton. As we got a bit higher it felt like the pace was picking up; my every muscle in my body ached. Even my fingers! The pain I sometimes feel when back from up north and first ride out, but that's usually just legs. Had to let the group go, which included a few girls, probably 5. I was ok with that, when you don't have it you don't have it. After the first decent the pain on the next climb was a little less, got into my own groove and quickly was riding with Kristin who had a great start (and race). There was no punch to try to pass so happy just sitting, breathing so hard having a conversation was out of the question (and that is true for the entire race, quick "thanks" here and there was pretty much all I could get out).
Could see some pink jerseys (sue and amanda for NoTubes and karen on a Pivot) up front during a long fairly steep climb, and eventually I think we where all together again. My pre race drinking habit had me wanting to pee so bad I had to eventually pull over (still haven't mastered Jon's trick). Long race so shouldn't hurt. Seemed like every decent today was high speed gravel road and double track with a few awesome sections to make you smile. Followed by steep long climbs. I was so happy with my wheel setup and with the snake skins I hammered the rock hard, and the overhauled fork was fun. So a bit diss appointed when I finally had dropped both Sue and Amanda on a downhill to get a flat on a section with no rock at at. Little bit of sand and smooth flat pedal and wops. Spoke to a few others with similar experience today, maybe there was something in the sand. It was just before we dropped in on some pretty fun single track and as Stan's is spraying my legs I hoped it would seal, it did and did not a few times. The guys I was following was going pretty slow so I figured good time to pull off and get some air in. Quickly looked at the damage and it was a perfect plug job. Unfortunately, even though it didn't take many minutes the girls flew by, 3 of them. Part of racing. Added some extra air and cut the plug nice and tight hoping it wouldn't get pulled out, and started the catch up job. Still had about 10-15 miles left (I'm officially a disliker of miles, they are just so slow...) and I had run out of count on how many climbs. But they seemed to never stop. Some awesome switchback single track climb seemed to never end, I did catch Karen but wasn't flying by her as legs was pretty much hoping this was it for up today. I was wrong. When we hit the pavement after a fast decent I thought it was close to the finish, could see more pink up ahead and gave what I had left on the road, unfortunately this lead us to more climbing, and I knew I had nothing to put in. We got to enjoy a nice little single track with some nice berms in to the finish. Wow, 1 day and 5 to go and I'm empty :) 3rd behind Amanda and Sue. Hope they are tired as well; though their ability to chit chat tells me they were a bit more relaxed than I today :) and in the top five or six there is only 10 some strong female riders in the field. 
New this year is the Enduro class. No high tech setup but segments created at strata and riders can upload their day there. I'm not in the Enduro class hence often get bunched up with other riders but still a fun add on to the event. If I can track down a computer by 8pm ill load my day.

Now the rest of the day, massage, food, awards and some more food, and finally but not least bike cleaning after I pick it up with a brand new tire.

So far as an event; great times, relaxed and friendly!

Tomorrow, similar distance and climbing but apparently way more awesome :)

Happy Riding up high!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Breck Epic 2013... before start prep.

Not exactly the relaxing day I had hoped for. Just finished getting sorted and now finally time to rest up. Hopefully have a better sleep tonight. Sleep one up here not great; though felt ok all day. Been drinking more fluid then I do all week normally and hoping ill feel ok tomorrow too.

Race start at 830, i like early; though since sram arrived late today they couldn't look at my fork. Stopping in at 7am and the guy was pretty sure he could have me ready to go including a short warmup.

36 miles and some 5600ft tomorrow; still not used to seeing miles and ft....but if your not going down your going up kinda day. Looking forward to getting on the bike. Got my drinks and coffee set and ready to go, so obviously totally ready.

Happy Riding!