Category Archives: MTB

Pisgah Enduro 2015

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Ashleigh ventured east to the Pisgah National Forest for the Pisgah Enduro Mountain Bike Race. Here her thoughts on the trail conditions and the epic-ness of this race!

I am fairly new to the Enduro racing world, but have done a couple of races in Colorado. While traveling in the South, my husband and I ended up in North Carolina the weekend of the Pisgah Enduro. I thought this would be a fun way to check out the biking scene in the Southeast. I had never biked in the south or east before this trip and did not know what to expect. My few expectations were that the trails might be rooty, slippery, and technical. Coming from Colorado, I expected the climbing to be no problem. Boy was I in for a surprise!

The Pisgah Enduro puts the endurance back into Enduro racing. The few enduro races I have done in Colorado were on ski areas with lift access that cut out the first 1,200 feet of climbing. On the other hand, the Pisgah Enduro is located in Pisgah National Forest, with no lift access, just surprisingly steep mountains. The pedal to the top of the first stage had us climbing over 1500 feet in a little over 2 miles on paved and dirt roads. That woke my legs right up! We continued to ride 30 miles (including the timed downhill portions) and climb 4,300 feet the first day. Between the climbing, the heat, and the humidity I was about as tired as I remember being in a long time! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through day 2, with the daunting climb up Heart Break Ridge!

After an early dinner, a late dinner, a lot of Naked coconut juice, some time wearing my POD Sox compression stalkings, and a good night sleep, my legs felt better than I expected. I woke up ready for day 2. Initially, I was worried my quads were not going to get me up the 4,000 feet of climbing to the top of Heart Break Ridge for stage 1. Turns out, I should have been more worried about getting blisters on my heels because we did a lot of hike a biking! After riding about a third of the way up, it became obvious by the hoards of walking racers that the best way to save my legs for the rest of the day was to push my bike up the steep single track. So I joined the line and pushed my bike too…for a long time, but it was tolerable because I was not alone. Everyone was pushing their bike, having a good time yelling “Enduro!” and “Strava!” as we slowly pushed our bikes up through the temperate rainforest canopy. By the time we reached the top of heartbreak ridge it was 2 hours and 2,800 feet later.

The second day was also much more technically challenging, with larger rocky drops, a lot of slippery roots, some very narrow trail sections with close trees, and alarmingly steep drop offs. When all was said and done, the second day came to a close with lots of smiles, 28 miles on our bikes, and over 6,000 feet of climbing. The 2 day total for the race was 56 miles on our bikes and an impressive 11,000 feet of climbing!

The Pisgah Enduro was an incredible weekend with some amazing scenery, great people and great biking. This race is a true test of all around biking ability, needing to be a cardio killer and a downhill badass to compete. It is a true Enduro race.

 

Winter Park Epic Single Track Super Loop

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Nicole is crushing her first year on the dirt. Read more about this podium performance at the Winter Park Epic Single Track Super Loop.

On Saturday June 27th, I raced my third ever mountain bike race. I have been racing now for two seasons, mostly on the road. I wanted to branch out this year to experience more disciplines and see how I would enjoy them and adapt. Saturday’s race was the Winter Park Epic Single Track Super Loop — marketed as a cross country race, I would be doing about 13 miles in the novice category. I was excited to race this as a prep for the following weekend’s Firecracker 50, as I wanted and needed to see how I would feel on my mountain bike at altitude. My start time was 10:55, giving me plenty of time to drive up that morning, get registered, and warm up.

I was excited to run into a friend, Gina, from another team when I arrived. She and I suffered through our first mountain bike race of the season, the PV Derby, 4 weeks prior. We set out to ride the first part of the course as a warm up prior to the first group’s start. Now, I have skied at Winter Park for many years, so know this mountain like the back of my hand….but I will tell you, it is much different without a few feet of snow covering the ground. The start was at the base of a dirt fire road and pretty quickly went from flat to rather steep. We were both huffing and puffing pretty quickly. It quickly brought back memories of Beti Bike Bash where I blew up pretty quickly after going out too hard on the climbs. The road felt as though it dragged on forever, so I made a mental note to take it easy come race time, and not make the mistake of blowing up quickly again. We couldn’t actually make it to the single track as the pro men were about to start. So we finished the rest of our warm up on the road around Winter Park Village.
Cut to the start line. There were not too many women signed up for the novice category, maybe about 14 total across all of the age groups. We were the last group to go. When the whistle blew, I was purposefully holding back a little knowing I had to pace myself. Several of the women took off pretty fast up the road, and I didn’t feel pressure to chase them knowing I could make up some time later on. Then to my surprise, our trip up the road was cut off early and we made a right hand turn onto the single track! The other women were off and I felt pretty far behind already. There were one or two sharp switchbacks early on, then we cruised along some single track in the trees for a while. Some of it was smooth and fast, with other sections having a few more technical rock obstacles with some large roots mixed in as well. There was one section that I went for on the downhill, but my tire slipped on a root and I had a fall early on, but shook it off and back on the bike. This single track continued for a little while until we got to more fire road. At this point I had passed about three people that had been ahead at the start, but I knew two of the women in my category were likely well ahead of me.
The fire road was a good place to make up some time for me, and I felt surprisingly good at altitude during this climb. I even caught up with a few more folks, including some of the Novice men who had started a ways ahead of us. We eventually turned off of the fire road to the right up another wide, steep road that was littered with loose shale and some “monkey skull” sized rocks. I tried to stay on my bike as long as I could, but eventually took a bad line, and ended up walking the bike for a while like several people up on the trail ahead of me. Eventually this led back to a smoother fire road, and I made up some more time again, passing one more novice male rider. This climb up the road finally led up to another single track trail where the other groups (sport, expert and pro) converged onto the same trail. There was a bit of a downhill break, and this section of trail became a bit rockier. I hit a section of rocks that I had to put a foot down for, and a Sport woman and a Sport man passed me. The woman took off, but I was able to catch up to the male ride and stay on his wheel for a while. It was good to have a line to follow, or change if I didn’t quite like the way he would take it. After a bit of a climb, the trail started to descend and a there was a section that he stopped at, and I had to stop short. Having lost my momentum, I ended up having to walk this section, and then two other folks passed me. This is where the trail started getting tricky for me. It turned into a series of very tight switchbacks with close trees. Switchbacks are my nemesis, and while I could put a foot down on some, there were others that were just too steep and sharp. I was feeling tired enough that I didn’t want to make a mistake and hurt myself this late in the race. Eventually it straightened out to some very fun single track that was tight and slightly uphill, but you could see far enough ahead that I could take it pretty fast and had a blast.
Down through a few more switchbacks and some more fun single track, I eventually got out of the trees and the trail started descending rapidly. There was a sharp left turn onto a little wood bridge, and a kid yelling, “youre almost done!!!!!” and there I was on the road to the finish line. I geared up, turned my legs on, and sprinted to the finish. My new mountain bike friend was waiting at the finish having finished minutes ahead, as she kicks butt at the more technical aspects of mountain bike riding :)
At the end of the day, I had a lot of tun, felt like I could have done more — i.e. did not blow up!!!! — and managed to get the 3rd place spot on the podium. Gina secured a 3rd place spot as well, which was a repeat from our respective finishes at the PV Derby! Can’t wait for the Firecracker 50, although that will be a whole other animal!

Mountain Bike Clinic Recap

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Erin Quinn recaps one of our many clinics and one of the most popular with our team, the mountain bike clinic! Read all about here.
One of the things that the Naked Women’s Race Team is great at is providing all of it’s members the access to do clinics for the seasoned pro to people looking to find a place to jump in. For the mountain bike skills clinic we met at the top of Mt. Falcon and split into three groups: beginner led by Dawna, intermediate led by Nadia, and advanced led by Lisa. There were about four to seven of us per group. Still nursing a back injury I decided to hop in with the Beginner group, since any skill work is good skill work.  There were about four of us in this group. Most of the women in the group hadn’t done much mountain biking before at all, so it was exciting for me as a mountain biker to be reintroducing myself to mountain bikes after being injured and to watch my teammates get to know the sport better!
We started off by working on moving on the bike, moving our weight behind the bike (helpful during steep descents/drops) moving our weight more towards the front of the bike (helpful for steep climbs) and side to side (helpful when cornering). We also worked on our ready position as well as our attack position. Once we got used to moving our body around our bikes we worked on breaking. Dawna had us do the stop box drill, so we would accelerate towards the box and try to stop within the box without any skidding. Moving the body behind the bike was emphasized and was very helpful in getting a quick and efficient stop.
As the day progressed under the watchful helpful teachings of Dawna we progressed from learning how to do wheel lifts over sticks to riding over water bars to riding off rocks that had about a foot drop. We even worked on descending some more technical rocky steep bits of trail that had a water bar as an exit. At the end of the day  the beginner skills clinic had turned into an intermediate one, I was watching my teammates who were new to mountain biking riding things considered intermediate, flawlessly and fearlessly.
Every opportunity I get to work on skills I always am able to walk away with something new learned and more excitement about riding bikes. The team clinic was no different, I was reintroduced to riding my mountain bike again after taking a hiatus due to a back injury, which left me excited to get healthy. But more importantly I watched my teammates who had been timid beginners hours earlier fearlessly and flawlessly riding sections of trail that were deemed as “scary” just a little bit earlier. It is always amazing to see what a clinic can do and how a great teacher like Dawna can help people enjoy the dirt even more.

You don’t know if you love something until you try it!

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Lori not only wrote her first blog post, she did her first fat bike race! And guess what? She crushes it. Read more: 

In 2014, I wanted to enter the WinterBike at Copper race but my husband ended up in the ER that day (all is good). So it was on the agenda for 2015 especially since it was moved out 1 weekend which happened to be my birthday weekend – all activities revolved around me!

Prickers, Pickles and Podiums

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Disclaimer: My teammates asked that I (Katey M.) write up this team race report and I acquiesced. While I can’t rightfully speak for the group, I can only provide my amateur insight, my thoughts and in return, hope I don’t piss the hell out of anyone. Enjoy!

I am not your typical racer – I prefer long solo rides, hiking tall peaks and taking Reposado shots over carbon fiber wheels, Strava kudos and Garmin stats. However, when an email was sent out to the team about a 24 hour mountain bike race in Tuscon, I jumped at the chance thinking it was time to kick start my season. 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is known for being the largest national MTB race and hosts some 4,000 mountain bikers, gathering a mosh pit of amateur and pro racers from around the country. A windswept cacti- clad dessert is transformed into a prickly mecca of motorhomes, tents and porta potties. The course is a fast, furious 16.1 mile loop with small bouts of technical sections and 1,200ft climb. It hosts a few namesakes too. “The Bitches” are a series of small punchy climbs and decent in the first few miles of the course. While they seem mundane during a pre-ride, they are hellish at race pace. Lots of flesh has been lost on The Bitches and helicopters evacuate racers every year.  Also, an aptly named “Whiskey Tree” houses bottles of moonshine, Hot Damn and various other adult libations mid-course and many a sauced fellow can be seen hooting happily by the tree as you pass. The course also hosts a rock drop. While it’s not terribly daunting, pack a handful of bikers close together and if one slightly balks, it could spell broken bones. The course offers a choice – to rock drop or not. A life size Justin Bieber cutout points to the “Belieber” route which avoids the drop, while the “Biker” route includes it. Belieber or not, you can tell, mountain bike racing is not for the fanatically clean of mouth or body. While gorgeous, expensive mountain bikes are appreciated; how you ride your beast is even more important. Tattoos, beards and beer guts are commonplace yet despite the looks, these folks can seriously rip but they also play hard too.

Heidi2 (Heidi Gurov) and I made our way to Tucson Thursday morning. The race was scheduled to start Saturday at noon. Heidi1 (Heidi Wahl) and Rachel decided to make the 18 hour trek by car. Heidi2 peppered me with stats about the race and her coach’s training schedule. She was prepared and truthfully, I felt sick. I hadn’t been on my mountain bike in three months. The last time I was actually on my MTB was a drunken pub crawl where I flipped a guard rail and broke my hanger. She was anxious to get there early, build her beloved Fate, and get out on the course. Sadly, even with our 85 mile an hour tailwind, we had a minor hiccup which forced a five and a half hour delay [read: RV trouble] We were to be picked up in our rented RV at the airport by Rachel’s friend, John. John had been working quietly behind the scenes along with Heidi1 to organize this trip and help with RV procurement, delivery, and tying up loose ends for us. Truly this man became our kit clad angel. Our RV, the Flying Dutchman, had other ideas because this behemoth decided to lie down and play dead in the airport’s cell phone waiting area with a dangerously bald, stripped to the steel belts, remains of a tire. After an abundance of calls, a tow truck, and stop at Discount Tire, we were back on course. John had befriended a race bound fellow who held anot RV spot for us. Camp space fills up wicked fast so this was music to our ears. I hugged the guy and his girlfriend even though I didn’t know them from Adam.

We made our way to the site careening down dusty roads, we looked like an episode from Breaking Bad. “Let’s cook!” Heidi2 posted keeping the world appraised of our status. My cell service left me in Tucson and wouldn’t return until after I got back to civilization a few days later. Damn you, T-Mobile.

Camp was set, bikes were built, beer was welcomed along with an odd assortment of foodstuffs including one jar of dill pickles; a request from Heidi1 which made me question an impending pregnancy but no, I found that they were simply salty, crunchy goodness after an especially mind bending lap. God bless you, jar o’ pickles.

 

The next day was a bluebird day and our pre-ride. I had heard about the cactus and it prickly fangs but my tires had seen nor heard nothing about these Arizona natives. ” YOU DONT HAVE STANS? DUDE,YOU NEED STANS. Behind my back whispers: “She’s running tubes! She’s gonna diiiiie.” Bewildered looks and shaking heads. “My first thought was “uh…who is Stan and why does he care so very much about my bike”. Between the group of very patient and kind souls in my group, they explained tubeless tires and that it was virtually impossible to ride the course without them. I converted that morning to Stans while Heidi2, Rachel, and Kalan (a twitterpated soul who kept us laughing the entire time) rode the course. Heidi2 shopped in 24 Hour town and I spun in circles on a Green Machine while they converted my bike. I have to say that was the best impromptu decision I’ve made in years and it ticked off another niggling inadequacy I had about racing my bike.

Race day came quickly, Bikes were staged at the bottom of a hill where the Lemans start ended. Hilarity ensued. Fit and fearsome men in pro team kits fought their way down the hill in slippery bike shoes, some were trampled and still fought their way to their bikes. Heidi2 waved our makeshift Naked flag for Rachel to see while she came down the hill. Rachel was far ahead of the masses and one of the first out on her bike and on the course. We hooted and hollered and cheered her on. A few minutes later a Pooh Bear skipped merrily along looking for his bike. Not everyone was taking this race seriously.

Rachel raced hard pressing for fastest female lap and came through with a mind altering 1:09 lap time. I was next in line. I stood in the staging area with music vibrating in my ears to calm my nerves. For a 24 hour race, each relay team is given a small wooden baton. You are required to pass this baton from teammate to teammate. Lose your baton and well, you DNF. Point is: don’t lose the baton. We tried shoving it down sport bras (didn’t work) and settled for the front of leg or back jersey pocket. In the staging area where you wait for your teammate to pass the baton, a large projector screen displays arriving team numbers on the ceiling along with an emcee who also doles out bad jokes (ie What do you call a cow with three legs? Ground Beef) Rachel came flying in and our transition was smooth. I had staged my bike outside the tent further than the multitudes because I knew I could run through the first section faster and have more room to hop on my bike. The course was fast and hellishly narrow through a variety of cactus – some have cruel fishing hooks covering their bodies, some look like soft little teddy bears but with razor sharp paws and some cactus just want to kiss you for no apparent reason. Know this, if you are not dead center on the trail, the cactus gods become enraged. They will gather, display their meaty, needle sharp armored bodies and eat you alive. No, seriously dude, they will.

Even giving cactus wide berth, I knew this race was going to be tough. I hadn’t properly trained and I got passed by a multitude of men flying by me at staggering speeds. It seemed like they were floating through the air while I mashed my pedals. The headwind was brutal and sadly I became the one to pull everyone through the cactus corridors. Letting all these men pass me was humbling. I told one racer to pass on the left, he passed on the right and knocked me into a cactus. It stung but I kept going with this large thorny mass attached to my glove. It took pliers and a steady hand from Heidi1 to pull them out after my lap. I came into the staging area with a 1:22 lap time. Heidi2 took off like a rabbit on her lap and came in with an impressive 1:14 time. Heidi1 was next in line and crushed it with a 1:23. We were already in the lead with sub 1:30 laps and it gave us incentive to keep it that way. Rachel went out for her second lap with night lights just in case but she came in so quickly with a 1:13 that dusk had barely begun. I took our first official night lap. I can’t speak for the others, but I prefer riding at night. By this second lap, racers has spread out significantly making it easier to maneuver however, my head lamp burned out part way through so I eeked my way to the finish and came in with a 1:24. Heidi2 came in for her first night lap with 1:18 and Heidi1 with a 1:33. We were still almost an entire lap ahead of the second place team.

Nutrition and recovery is critical for these longer races – that is, if you want to win. You rest, you eat, you digest best you can, repair any bike issues and before you know it you’re dressed again and on your way to the staging area. For me, sleep was elusive as was digestion. Somehow it behooved me to eat about 2lbs of pork with green chilis after the second lap. In those wee hours in the morning, my stomach decided to revolt. I found out this is called “gut rot”. When really you should just throw up, I rolled around like a flatulent otter in the RV. One of the guys gave me a shot of Pepto. I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask if this pink goo was gluten free cause the porta potty was my BFF already.   We still pulled off some amazing night times and kept our lead but it started to get a little closer with a bad crash on The Bitches that kept Rachel at a standstill for a spell.

Since three of my four laps were at night, I feel I got the best deal watching the sun come over the horizon to start the new day. The sky was this amazing blood red. While I rode, this guy and I talked about how vivid, saturated, and beautiful the sky was. I was tired yet I realized I was blessed to be a part of this community of fast fit women cyclists and this temporary 24 hour community of mountain bikers.

Final laps were made and the line up changed toward the end leaving Heidi2 and Rachel to secure our win (despite getting a flat in the final lap two miles in on The Bitches). Heidi1 gave us 3 impressive laps, me with 4 laps, Heidi2 with 5 and Rachel with 6. 288 miles and 18 laps brought us the first place win. We were ecstatic and very proud Naked girls on the podium. We celebrated briefly, packed up quickly and 24 hour town deconstructed in moments. What once was brimming with activity a few hours earlier became a quiet, sleepy venue with an epic trail– restored to what it is year round. This race has become a memory of comradery, patience, a few scratches, and one remaining half jar of pickles.

 

 

 

 

The Naming and Taming of Trixie DeLarge

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Katey knows how to have fun in the off season – FAT BIKE! But she needed to name her. Read how ‘Trixie DeLarge’ obtained her moniker. 

She is big, she is orange and has some serious junk in the trunk. I see you raising an eyebrow and let’s be honest, it sort of describes me circa late-80’s – a tanning booth savvy sorority girl. You see, I broke down and purchased a fat bike…a sweet, 40lb, snow-crushing, mud-slinging, bad ass beast of a bike. Midlife crisis? Perhaps. But I prefer to call it a “spiritual awakening” (We can talk about the puppy I got recently too if you like).

Mountain bike season was coming to a close and I had this sad, niggling feeling in the back of my mind. The season didn’t necessarily have to end, did it? On a whim, I sought advice from my local bike guru and decided to purchase the same brand I know and love. I had set aside some pennies from my small business so not to interfere with my boys’ college savings (that is, if they don’t kill each other first) and anticipated its arrival.

A giant box containing my new bike arrived on a snowy Thursday afternoon. I immediately loaded it into my car and headed to my go-to bike shop. Sadly I was snubbed by an entitled, nose-ringed hipster when my bike build didn’t fit HIS schedule in the next century. Heaven forbid his soft hands touch “the box”. I went around the corner to another shop that built her that very evening.

I typically name things I bond with. My truck is “Chuck”, my mountain bike is “Thor” and my road bike was “Paco” – “was” being the operative word because that changed when I texted my husband to let him know I was “out riding Paco” and there was radio silence. Paco became ‘the road bike” again and honestly, Paco sucked anyway. We never bonded. My new behemoth needed a name to fit her solid stature. With help from some creative thinkers, she was christened: Trixie DeLarge. Trixie is Speed Racer’s girlfriend: a petite, lithe, elfish waif. Truly, this bike is the antithesis of her. But what Trixie the girl does have…is unparalleled moxie and smarts. Her surname “DeLarge” is duly named after Clockwork Orange’s protagonist – a juvenile delinquent in the most creepy and memorable sense. Combine these characteristics and she screams, “Bring it!”

It was ironic that it had been snowing steadily for the past few days when Trixie arrived. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The temperatures had dipped into the single digits and I had hired a sitter in advance to get outside regardless of the elements. I was going to ride and ride I did. I decided on a local trail close to home – Dirty Bismark – a 17 mile loop from home. Extremities needed special attention in these elements so I added multiple layers…and just a few more for sh**s and giggles. Shoes were a different story. Unlike my other bikes, Trixie came with flat pedals. I had upgraded and bought a nicer pair of flats with pegs to ride with. Shoe-wise, I didn’t really have anything that fit the bill except for a pair of old trail running kicks. Coupled with wooly ski socks and toe warmers, I was ready. I pride myself on being hearty, yet starting out, it was damp and raw. It reminded me of the cold I grew up with – a cold that only the NorCal coast can throw at you. Yet, despite the hoar frost I managed to collect throughout my ride, I was thrilled to be out.

Riding a fatty for the first time was slow moving. Twenty additional pounds of durability makes for a slow and steady grind up any grade let alone the flats. Add to it, 3+” of fresh snow over a crusty ice base, she was tricky to maneuver and hard to tame. While Trixie didn’t tread lightly, she made up for it climbing up and over virtually anything, even with her rigid fork. I slogged, I sweat, I listened to Soundgarden. It was unlike anything I had ever done. At first, corners were tricky. I came in hot around one and laid her down, fortunately landing in a pillowy stash. Several times I got caught in deep patches of untracked snow. I would spin, suffering like a hamster on its wheel going absolutely nowhere. It reminded me of riding in sand; endless f***ing acres of unrelenting deep sand – yet, it finally clicked when I stopped fighting and let the bike do the work. I could actually surf through these unpredictable waves of snow. Even without clips, my right heel would pop to the right involuntarily when I was about to lay the bike down – ah, those phantom clips.

The snow came down heavier and it was hauntingly beautiful. There is one section of the ride where the trail narrows and thistle patches border either side. During the Summer, I curse this prickly car wash. Instead I stopped and took pictures of the patch which was surprisingly beautiful in the snow. Snow softens how harsh and rugged our Colorado terrain is. Even the thickets of cows I passed – sprinkled in fresh snow – looked a little kinder.

I never made the full loop. By the time I hit the Coalton trailhead, my head and legs had had enough. For a loop that normally takes me about an hour to complete, it took me an hour just to get to my halfway point. I turned around, opened the gate and took a selfie to send to my MTB sisters – stupid happy in the snow, stupid happy with Trixie.

I’ve taken Trixie out several times since that first snowy adventure. I’ve slipped through some fine muddy and icy trails and have learned to adjust my tire pressure and body positioning accordingly. My trail running shoes work perfectly fine with flats despite the fact I’ve nailed my shins a few times when I’ve slipped. When the stars align, I can carve through corners like I would skiing. As I type, I’m in the mountains. I feel like a bit of an anomaly being out there on the trails behind the cabin – just me and my pup; adventuring on hard packed singletrack with my puppy nipping at my heels. Yet, my boys love seeing me come back from a ride – happy, tired and ready to play board games with them. So Trixie, thank you for this newfound fat fun – while you’ve been quite a beast to tame, I think you may have taught this old dog a few new tricks.

On the Kokopelli Trail

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If the Kokopelli Trail hasn’t made your bucket list items, it should! Read about Melanie‘s experience over the 4 days on the legendary trail. 

We considered ourselves prepared as we rolled out from the trailhead of the Kokopelli Trail in Loma, just a few miles west of Grand Junction. But really, we had no idea what lay in store for us. The Kokopelli is a 142-mile route from Loma to Moab, Utah, and it includes everything from singletrack, to jeep roads to pavement. You’ll see spectacular mesas, skirt the edge of the La Sal Mountains and camp alongside the Colorado River.

Our group did it in four days, one of the most common options. Even then, we rode 30 to 50 mile days, which took the strong group about five to eight hours each day. Our group of five was lucky enough to enlist an enthusiastic support driver, who met us at pre-arranged campsites each evening.

Day 1: Loma to Bitter Creek: Singletrack bliss and hike-a-bikes

I knew the first day was only 32 miles, so I mistakenly thought it would be a cinch. The first 12 miles is mostly singletrack on the well-ridden Mary’s Loop.

Next came arguably my least favorite part of the trip — the hike-a-bike portion, which the group would see a lot more of on Day 3.

No one warned me, probably because they knew I’d throw a fit, but be prepared to be carrying your bike for nearly a 1-mile stretch (it seemed like a million miles to me, but that’s what the odometer said.)

Next, we made up some time by cruising a big dirt road leading in to Rabbit Valley, which sits near the Colorado-Utah border.

The day ended with a short but treacherous climb to the top of a plateau, where we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset view from the campsite at Bitter Creek.

Day 2: Bitter Creek to Dewey Bridge: Leaving colorful Colorado

Some might call this 45-mile stretch boring, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable. You’ll cruise into what was once the bottom of an ocean eons ago. This section gets quite windy, and that element combined with copious amounts of sand slowed us down. My friend dubbed it “Sandopelli,” and we spent the first 20 miles with our heads down, pedaling hard, drafting in a single file line like a group of Tour de France riders on a breakaway.

We climbed into the beautiful and isolated Yellow Jacket Canyon, a route that starts with the desert mesa you’ll probably be accustomed to by that point and ends with a sandy descent and a hint of Utah’s famous red rocks.

Day 3: Dewey Bridge to Bull Draw: Into the forgotten valley

 This day was 37 miles and not only treated our group to leg-breaking elevation gain but chilling cold. I forgot to bring my walkin’ cleats, because there was more hike-a-bike.

I know, you can’t wait to go, right? However, our group was also rewarded amazing views. You’ll ride through Fisher Valley, with the statuesque Fisher Towers in the distance, red cliffs to the side and a sea of yellow grass before you.

Day 4: Bull Draw to Milt’s Stop & Eat: A well-deserved meal

This day was a cinch compared to the epic Day 3. We descended and climbed the rolling La Sal Loop paved road that sits above Moab, and while most routes take you down a dirt road into Slickrock, our group decided they deserved a little singletrack. We took the famous Porcupine Rim and officially ended the day at Milt’s (a famous Moab eating establishment) for burgers, fries and shakes.

2015 Race Team Apps Open Thru Oct 1st!

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It’s hard to believe our road season is done and cross has really just begun! You know what also is beginning? Planning for your team in 2015! Naked Women’s Racing, in it’s 5th year, is open to race team applicants through October 1st!

Think you want to join? Read more about why you should on our Race Team page. Now are you ready?

SUBMIT YOUR RACE TEAM APPLICATION HERE

Think you *might* want to race but not sure you want to dive in head first? Then you should totes join our Club Team!

Got questions? Email us at info [at] nakedwomenracing.com and we’ll be glad to help you out.

 

Racing: Self Discovery  

Pro Challenge Experience

Natalia not only raced her first full season, she did it on the road and the mountain bikes! Read about how she dove in head first, what she learned, and what she is taking on to next year!

It’s hard to believe that road racing season is over. To get ready for the season I spent countless hours in the saddle and endured every possible weather condition on the planet. I have ridden my bike in temperatures ranging from freezing to triple digits, rain, snow, hail, gusty winds, sand and thunder storms, but I loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not at the time, but the thought of getting stronger always kept me going. I really believe cyclists must be the toughest athletes out there. We love riding our bikes so much that the elements never stop us and many times when we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere discovering new roads with no cell phone coverage, so quitting is not an option and we have no choice but keep on pedaling.

For me this was my first full year of racing so I didn’t know what to expect. Racing and leisurely riding are two completely different things. I tried all disciplines from road racing, time trialing, crits, hill climbs, and even mountain bike racing. I have been cycling most of my life and I love climbing mountain passes so I thought this would be my strength. I did some mountain biking in the past and bought a new bike not thinking much of it. I didn’t even consider racing it when I bought it. The last mountain bike I owned was about two decades ago and the technology has advanced quite a bit since then. My new toy has huge 29-inch wheels and when I ride it I feel like a little kid again. It has full suspension, disk brakes, and it’s just so much fun to ride so I thought I would try racing it because why not. As the season begun, I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy hill climbs, not only because I would get dropped but it was so painful that I wasn’t able to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me like I did in the past. My goal this season was to overcome my fear of crit racing but unfortunately my first crit ended early due to a crash. Luckily my injuries weren’t serious, my bike was ok, and I was able to race the next weekend. I didn’t want to end my racing season early so I didn’t take another chance. I’m hoping to forget about this unpleasant experience so I will try it again next season. Time trailing wasn’t my favorite but I will definitely do more of it again next year. Road races can be intimidating as they typically are longer, but I discovered that this was my type of a race. I am not a sprinter or climber; however I have good endurance and can push myself after riding long distances. I also learned the importance of working with teammates and even your opponents and how to strategize in order to win. I just wish we had more road races here in Colorado.  After taking my new mountain bike for a few short rides I signed up for 18 Hours of Fruita. I never raced a mountain bike, I never rode at night, and my bike was barely broken in. I recruited three other teammates to join me and we ended up winning the race. I was hooked! The race was a lot of fun and not as intimidating as I expected so immediately I started thinking about my next mountain bike race. I ended up doing three more races and I not only loved it but placed well which gave me a huge confidence boost. Now I can’t wait to do more races on dirt.

After reflecting on the entire season and analyzing each race and its outcome I really surprised myself. The races I thought I would enjoy the most and do well at, turned out to be my least favorite ones, but I always try to find a positive in each situation and I treated them as training rides for the races that mattered to me. The races that intimidated me the most turned out to be my best ones and most enjoyable. I also participated in several organized rides throughout Colorado. Even though they weren’t timed, whenever I wear my Naked kit my brain tells me it’s racing time. Therefore I have to remind myself that it is ok to slowdown, breath slowly, take in the scenery, chat, and make new friends.

If you are new to racing or intimidated by it, don’t dismiss it as you won’t really know until you try. It’s better to fail at something than to miss out on something that can potentially be your strength only because you were afraid you would finish last or embarrass yourself. I remember how nervous I was just pinning my first number to my jersey. I stubbed my fingers several times and now I get less and less nervous each time I do it. Soon I will be able to do it with my eyes closed. But don’t get me wrong, I still get anxious at the start line but I just focus on the finish.

Winter Park Race #5: Point to Point

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Winter Park Point to Point can be tough when coming from sea level. Read more about why you don’t quit racing from Michelle, even if hypoxic. 

I learned a valuable lesson today.  Don’t leave Colorado for 3 weeks, cease riding your bike, and be parked at 700 feet above sea level in Washington.  If you want to mountain bike race and not be miserable, you cannot lose the time on the bike (lesson learned the hard way).   Coming back from Washington on Wednesday led me to the ridiculous idea of taking my family camping in Winter Park so I could race the Point to Point race, one I have never done.  Not sure the husband was keen on my idea of packing up the family 2 days after a 3 week stent gone, but I got everyone on board.  Hurray!

My team mates and husband rave about this course so I was excited to ride the new single track they put in on WTB.  The trails around Winter Park are some of my favorite and I will take any excuse to come up and ride.  Looking forward to my second Expert level ride (well maybe not totally J), and feeling a little less than prepared in my training… off I went.  Oh well, should be fun right??? That’s why we all race!

Well it didn’t turn out like I expected.  Lining up with Joan and Susan at the start made me feel a little better but I knew I was in for a butt whooping today with my lack of ride time.  Off we go!  I wasn’t dead last up to four points or even over tunnel hill (a total goal of mine today not to be dead last).  Feeling not so great, but better than expected, I rode on.   Start the violins here!  By the time reached the midway point every expert rider had passed me and I succumbed to the idea I was dead last, which became quite a humbling experience.  The cramps set in up Tunnel hill, I ran out of food and water by the top of zoom (my own fault) and grumpy despair set in.  I hate to admit it but I have never wanted to quit more on a race in my life but every time I wanted to, almost everyone who passed me (all those lovely expert gals and sport men) kept throwing out all these super nice pick me ups which kept me peddling through (that’s why I love mountain bike racing).  Numbers not letters right?

I was humbled today but super happy at the finish line when my team mates, husband and kids were all cheering me at the finish (thanks everyone).  Joan and Susan had great races finishing first and third…go GIRLS!!