Category Archives: Road

Capturing the Season Through Still Images

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Melissa shares her 2014 road season recap in photos. And mighty fine ones at that!

Earlier in this year my husband purchased a new camera and has been photographing our team throughout the season. He is quite talented in capturing what cycling truly is through still images. This is a recap of the 2014 road season through photographs.

 

Winter Group Rides – No More Excuses!

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Don’t unpack that suitcase full of excuses! Lanier will help you get out on that winter group ride!

Group rides are a great part of any off season program. You get to know your teammates, work off holiday calories and retain the group riding skills essential for races and centuries. However, it can be hard to fit group rides in.

I am queen of excuses. I also talk to myself from time to time (don’t judge). Here are some of my favorite excuses, and effective arguments I use with myself to get out of the house.

E: I don’t have time.

A: When you put it on your calendar you had plenty of time, Lanier. Besides, you’re leading it. Shut up and get on the bike.

 

E: It’s too cold.

A: As your husband likes to remind you, you spend a small fortune on super-special cold weather cycling gear. Now put it all on, and get on the bike.

 

E: I am tired / grumpy / hungover.

A: You will feel much better after riding with teammates. They always cheer you up. Down a double-shot of espresso and a Naked coconut water, and get on the bike.

 

E: These climbers are going to leave me in the dust.

A: Since when did you ever climb on a solo ride? Besides, you swore off hill climbs and haven’t seen these particular teammates all season. You can chat with them on the flats before the climbing starts. They are good company, even if they are disgustingly tiny with legs like pistons powering away on the hill. But hey, maybe they’ll be hungover!

Or not…

See you on a group ride soon!

 

Road Cup Awards Party

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Melissa exceeded her goals by a long shot with this season’s road racing. Read more!

Going into the 2014 road season, I had several goals that I wanted to achieve. One of the largest goals I had was to be in the top 3 of the Rocky Mountain Road Cup for SW4. To achieve this I knew that I needed to enter as many races as possible and place as high as possible in those races to have enough points to be at or near the top. I didn’t have as good of a start to the season as I had hoped for, but because I was consistent in racing every weekend the points started accumulating. This year I was fortunate to make it on the podium a few times and the points from those races helped my overall score.

Towards the end of the season, Jenny Lucke and I were in the top 3 for the road cup. Once the points had been added for the last race of the season, the results showed that I placed 1st in the road cup for SW4. I was thrilled! My happiness grew when I realized that Jenny was on the podium with me. Team Naked had also placed 1st in SW4 for the road cup! This was a tough season of trial and error, but through it I learned that staying focused on your goal and being dedicated will get you the results you want.

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The Unimaginable

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Melissa W. has had a tough time finding her passion for the bike with school taking up so much of her free time. But she’s thankful for teammates that motivate her. Great lesson in friendship and finding your love for the bike again.

It happened. I allowed school to take such precedence in my life that my bike sat alone in the corner of my room, collecting dust. I knew that sacrifices would have to be made once I started school full-time, but I had no idea that it would be this drastic. My bike has always been a symbol of achievement for me, but it had come to a point where it was only a resemblance of the disappointment I had in myself. The disappointment that came from losing my passion for the bike and allowing myself to become bitter towards an object that once brought me so much joy. When I recognized how far I had let this go, I knew that I needed to do something. I needed to make sacrifices to rekindle my passion.

Unfortunately in my mind, the only sacrifices I could make would be to skip out on some of the studying that I knew I needed to do to be successful in my upcoming exams. I did it though. I made the sacrifice of giving up studying just long enough so that I could get out for a 30 minute ride. The first time I went out for a ride, it did nothing for me but cause more anxiety and guilt because I knew that I should have been home preparing for my exams. I kept making the sacrifices and trying to get out for small rides hoping that one day soon I would find the satisfaction again. And still nothing. It was never enough. The spark to rekindle my passion never came.

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During this time of not being on my bike, my disappointment would grow anytime a friend or teammate would ask if I could join them on a ride. My response was typically “I wish”, “Maybe over winter break”, or “Maybe I’ll catch up with you next summer” always in a joking tone, but in my heart I felt like it would be true. I had allowed preparing for school to take control over my life, not allowing me to enjoy those things I once had.

During the last week in October, Katie Harrer texted me and asked if I could go out for a ride the next Sunday up Deer Creek Canyon. My initial response was going to be no, but I stopped myself and thought about what a ride with a good friend could do for me. I missed my friends. I responded with a YES! I wasn’t sure who would show up for the ride, but was just excited to know that at least one of my good friends would be out there. Earlier that morning before the ride I learned that a few more of my good friends would be out there with us.

We started the ride with catching up on each other’s lives and then the sufferfest of climbing High Grade kicked in. The group broke up a little on the climb, but we had all agreed that we would meet up together at the top. Typically I enjoy riding up High Grade, but I’m not going to lie, it was miserable. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that my friends were with me and that we were having to overcome this hill together. That was it! That was the spark I needed!

We reached the top and I was so overjoyed that tears came to my eyes. I know this may sound a little sappy, but this was the happiest I had been in a while. Working hard with my teammates is exactly what I needed to rekindle my passion for the bike. Thank you to all of you ladies who got me back out there!

Maui – Endless Summer

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Natalia climbed 10,023 feet in one fell swoop, tackling Maui’s Haleakala. Add this to your bucket list! Read more about her island adventures…

Hawaii was never on the list of places I wanted to visit. I like to travel off the beaten path and see places that most people wouldn’t dare visiting, but in 2012 it all changed. The ‘travel bug’ bit me and I had to pack my suitcase and go somewhere, anywhere. The problem was I could not find anyone to join me and I thought to myself why would no one want to go on a trip? But this didn’t stop me. I never traveled alone before so I wanted to go somewhere were a girl traveling solo would be safe. I also wanted to go somewhere where the roads are suitable for cycling. In 2006 my cousin moved to Maui so I thought I could go visit her. I’ve heard of the beautiful beaches, magnificent waterfalls, mountains, sea turtles, hot surfer dudes, but what had me convinced was the infamous ‘cycle to the sun’ bike race. Two weeks later I was on the plane.

When I arrived in Maui I was in a complete awe. While most people spend most of their Maui vacations sprawled on the beach perfecting their golden tan, I spent countless hours in the saddle sharpening my biker (not farmer!) tan lines. Since Maui is home to Haleakala, deemed the ‘world’s longest paved climb’ I had to check it out. The ride starts at sea level in a small beach town of Paia and ends at the top of a dormant volcano crater at 10,023 feet. If you are trying to do the math and are thinking is it over 10,000 feet of continuous climbing? You are correct. The 36-mile long silky smooth road takes you through several climate changes and the views are so breathtaking that you never notice the pain and lactic acid building up in every muscle of your body. The ride was everything and much more than I imagined. It was hard but also one of the rides I will never forget.

While I absolutely love discovering new place by bike, I am always amazed by how warm and welcoming cycling communities are anywhere I go. I don’t mind riding by myself but I rarely get to do that. Anywhere I ride I always meet people and we end up riding together. My new cyclist friends showed me the hidden gems around the island and made me feel like I was a local.

My time spent in Maui was an unforgettable experience. I rode my bike, I hiked the mountains, I saw waterfalls, rainbows, painted trees, pineapple fields, huge see turtles, and I even got to do some kiteboarding. I almost forgot, I did see some hot surfers too ;)

After that trip I was hooked on Maui! It has become my favorite vacation destination, but it wasn’t until this fall when I returned to the island.

My second trip to Maui was just as good as the first one and it was the perfect way to end the racing season and prolong my summer. I kept in touch with the cyclists I met during my first visit and I got to ride with them again and they showed me new roads around the island. By now I can say that I have explored most of the island by bike, but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to tackle the infamous Haleakala climb again. I’ll just have to come back again soon!

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.

Miserable Mt. Evans

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Moral of the miserable story of Mt. Evans from Melissa: Listen to your body! Read why you should. Seriously.

Mt. Evans!  A beast of a mountain, no matter how you look at it.  Just the idea of casually riding my bike to the summit, takes a lot of mental preparation.  Racing to the summit however, against very strong women, is an entirely different  story.  Last year, I missed the first place podium spot by less than a second.  Our times: 2:39:36:50 (Cory) vs 2:39:36:90 (Me).  That result haunted me for a year!!  What if I would have thrown my bike forward…. I didn’t know she was so close….what if I would have pushed a little harder….what if, what if, what if.  I was determined to win the next year, but unfortunately, the beast had different plans for me.  I now know what it feels like to go from the incredible feeling of victory one year, to the embarrassing misery of defeat the next.

When I signed up to race Mt. Evans, I knew I had one other teammate to work with.  The incredible Katie Harrer, who hates to climb, signed up to race with me, with the sole purpose to mentally push me up that mountain.  Talk about an amazing friend.  She hates climbing and the Mt. Evans Hill Climb isn’t exactly a cheap race either.  I was blown away by her kindness and selflessness.  I told myself that I had to do well in this race, not only for myself, but for Katie too.  She believed in me and I didn’t want to let her down.  I also dedicated my race to a very special person in my life fighting cancer.  My brother-in-law Wes was recently diagnosed with Multiple Myloma, and I wanted to prove to him that if I can push myself hard enough to do well in this race, that he can fight this cancer and win.  I even wrote on my race number “This is for you Wes”.  I had a lot riding on this race, and in my mind failure was not an option.

My first dose of bad luck started the morning of the race, when Katie broke the news that she would not be racing with me.  Much to my dismay, Katie had to work the night before and didn’t get to bed until 3am.  She would have had to leave her house by 7am just to get to Idaho Springs in time, and she wasn’t about to tackle a race up a 14er  with that little of sleep.  I can’t say that I blame her.  It was a bummer but I was able to talk myself through it.  My amazing husband Brian was there to support me along with my beautiful children.  My mom and my step dad would be at Echo Lake to encourage me at the halfway point as well.  I felt very supported and motivated to race hard.

I began my warm up alone.  I was familiar with the area, from my recent visit with Ride The Rockies, so that alleviated a lot of the initial anxiety.  I found a great section of road  to warm up on, so I focused my attention on my body and my bike to work out any little kinks that might get in my way during the race.  I was feeling good at this point in the day.  As time passed by, I quickly found myself at the start line with new faces (competition) that signed up the morning of the race.  It was interesting, I think there were three no shows and three new additions.  There would be six of us in this race. Each and every one of those girls meant business too.  Suddenly, I could feel the anxiety building in my chest.  I told myself, “You can do this.  This is what you trained for. This is what you do.  This is what you know.”  I took a deep breath, and as the whistle blew, I began the race that I will never forget.

It was strange, I can remember feeling very uncomfortable from the beginning of the race.  I thought maybe my anxiety was getting the best of me, but I noticed my heart rate was much higher than I wanted it to be and I didn’t know why.  We were climbing at a steady rate and our group immediately formed a pace line and we each took our turn up front pulling.  I remember thinking how beautifully we were all working together and it was fun. After about three full rotations, the dynamic changed however.  The fun was over.  One of my opponents had a very well thought out plan and she executed it perfectly.  After her turn up front, instead of falling to the back of the pace line, she came right up next to me instead.  I was in the center of the pace line with two girls in front of me and two girls behind me.  She came so close to me, that I thought our handle bars would lock.  I was nervous and I let her push me out of my spot.  I was instantly angry.  “How rude!” I thought to myself.  But then I quickly reminded myself, that this was a race and it wasn’t time to be making friends.  So after our next rotation, when the same girl pulled off the front, instead of going to the back, she got right next to me again. I was thinking, “What is your problem lady?  Why are you attacking me?”  I was really irritated at this point and tried so hard to hold my position.  She was uncomfortably close to me.  One wrong move and we would all go down.  I should have yelled at her and I almost did, but suddenly I realized the pavement in front of me was coming to an end.  I panicked, and once again, she stole my spot.  I was more than angry at this point.  I was shocked.  Cat 3 racing was a whole new world and I had just received my first dose of reality.  I tried to focus my rage and I was determined to not let her do it again.  Unfortunately for me, however, her next move would be my end.  It was my turn to pull.  I focused on my heart rate, which was even higher at this point because I was so angry.  I knew I had to get it under control and not waste my energy needlessly.  When it was time for me to pull off, that’s when she did it.  She waited for me to be nice and tired and she attacked just as I pulled off the front.  I immediately reacted and followed her and another racer as they pulled away from the group.  I was worried.  I knew my heart rate was in the red and I wouldn’t be able to keep the pace long.  For some reason, my body was not in race mode that day.  It was the worst feeling.  What was wrong with me?  Even after I conceded to letting them go, my heart rate would still not recover.  This was a new experience for me. Before I knew it, the other three ladies caught up to me and quickly passed me as well.  I blew up.  I felt like I was dying inside.  Not because my heart felt like it was going to explode, but because I was dead last and there was not a thing I could to to stop it.  I wanted to cry but I didn’t have the energy.  I felt like throwing my bike over the mountain side next to me because I was so upset.  My worst nightmare was coming true. My dream of winning this race was over and I knew it.

Echo Lake was the halfway point.  I wasn’t too far away from the other racers that just passed me.  I knew however, that my husband would quickly realize that I had been dropped.  I didn’t want to see his face.  I knew he would be so disappointed for me.  My kids would see me dead last and my mom and step dad made the trip to the mountains for nothing.  I felt as low as low can be.  As soon as I reached the lake my family ran over to me.  I wanted so badly to quit at that point but I couldn’t.  I’m always telling my children to follow their dreams and never give up.  There was no way I could have let them see their mother quit a race just because I was last.  My son was running next to me cheering me on and I remember saying to him, “Hey buddy, guess what?  I’m very last in this race.  I’m not going to win. But you won’t see me quit either!”  He said “You can do it mom.”  And I forced myself to keep pedaling.

It was at the feed zone that I realized a big part of my problem in this race.  As the volunteers offered me water, I quicky realized that I didn’t need any.  After an hour of racing, I had not had any food or one drop of water.  I felt like such an idiot.  I was so focused on trying to catch the girls that got away, that I didn’t eat or drink anything. I started to drink my first bottle at the rangers station but it was too late at this point.  I forced myself to keep going.  Soon I started seeing other racers coming down the mountain.  Different categories finishing their races and feeling the sweet satisfaction of completion.  I was envious.  The Cat 3 women were one of the last groups to start racing.  A group of men went after us but they quickly caught up to us and passed by.  I can remember one guy from Primal pulling up next to me and saying “Keep fighting. You aren’t last.”  I thought to myself, “What?  How is that possible?”  But I guess in the confusion at Echo Lake, I misjudged how many ladies passed me and I was 5th out of 6.  It motivated me, strangely enough.  I thought, “Maybe I can catch them.”  I pushed as hard as I could and I forced myself to drink that first water bottle by the time I reached timberline.  Then suddenly out of nowhere, I experienced some of the worst pain I have ever felt.  My hip joints were on fire.  My knees were throbbing and my arms felt like they weighed 100 lbs each.  The pain was unbelievable.  I hadn’t eaten at this point, so I tried to reach in my back pocket to get some food.  I couldn’t do it.  Each time I tried to put my arm behind me, I almost fell off of my bike.  I was pedaling so slowly that I could hardly keep myself upright. When I was finally able to get a small bite of my Breeze Bar, I couldn’t even chew it.  I had no energy.  When I swallowed, I almost choked and switching to my second water bottle was embarrassingly difficult.  I gave up on the idea of eating because it was actually very scary to feel like you are choking while you are breathing so hard.  I was delirious.  The pain I was feeling brought me to tears but I didn’t want to show my discomfort because every minute someone was coming down the mountain.  People I knew.  People that knew me.  It was humiliating.  My body was breaking down with every pedal stroke and my soul was being crushed with each person that passed by.  Some friends yelled, “You can do it Melissa!”  While others looked at me with shock.  I was thinking to myself, “I am such a loser right now.”  I can honestly say, that was one of the lowest moments of my life.

When I reached Summit Lake I was numb to the glances of the people descending past me.  I couldn’t feel anything.  The pain in my hips was there, but I almost didn’t feel it anymore.  My mind felt like it was drifting off and it was almost like I could see myself racing but not feel it.  It was creepy.  A storm was definitely forming at the summit and I was terrified of lightning.  The thunder was getting louder and it was starting to rain.  But I kept pushing.  There was no way I was quitting at that point.  When I reached the switchbacks at the top, I was about halfway through them when I saw the girls I was racing against, heading down.  I wanted to die.  I was so embarrassed.  I wasn’t only the last girl in my group but I honestly think I was the last person racing.  It was demoralizing.  I could tell by the looks on their faces that they could see my suffering.  I was too numb to care.  I didn’t have energy to cry and my soul was already conquered.  I kept moving forward, when a car came up next to me and said, “You need to turn around.  There is lightning at the top and the race is over.  They are packing everything up.”  I think I felt my heart break at that moment.  If it wasn’t bad enough that I was in excruciating pain, terribly embarrassed and totally defeated, the thought of not being able to finish when I was so close, was almost more than I could take.  I knew my time would be prorated and I wouldn’t get a DNF, but finishing was the only reason I never gave up after everything I had gone through.  I remember standing in the middle of the road.  I could see the finish line.  Cars were coming down the mountain but there was hardly anyone left up there.  It was eerily quiet.  I just stood there for a moment in disbelief and then it began to hail.  At that moment, I realized I had no rain gear.  Being forced to turn around, meant I wasn’t able to grab my bag from the top and I had nothing but my shorts, jersey and half gloves to descend in.  I was soaked and the pea sized hail stung like a thousand bees as it peppered my tired body.

My sorrowful descent down Mt. Evans that day was nothing short of miserable.  I was shivering so badly I could hardly grasp my handle bars and with every bump in the road, I felt like my legs were being torn from my body.  I cried the entire way down. The sky was dark, the rain was cold and I felt very alone.  Not one person offered to give me a ride down and that surprised me.  I felt like an outcast.  Someone that the world had discarded and didn’t care about anymore.  I saw a hawk flying in the distance and I was jealous of how free it was.  It was gliding through the air with ease.  It was free of pain and misery.  There were so many times on that descent that I just wanted to pull over and find a place to lay down.  I truly did not care anymore.  I just wasted the pain to stop.  I cursed the day, the mountain, myself and my body.  It was a very bad day.

When I finally reached Echo Lake again,  my family rushed over to me.  I almost collapsed.  My mom panicked.  She said my lips were dark purple and my body was so cold.  I couldn’t speak and simply keeping my eyes open took every ounce of energy that I had left.  They rushed me over to the car and helped me dry off and warm up.  I felt like I was dreaming.  After suffering for so long, it was over and I could began to recover.  Or so I thought….

Later in the evening, Katie called me to see how the race went.  I told her about my heart breaking experience and then I mentioned to her some of the physical symptoms I was having.  I noticed I had blood in my urine when I was finally able to use the bathroom.  Or at least I thought it was blood.  It was a dark tea color and it was very alarming.  My first thought was that I was dehydrated.  So I immediately started drinking fluids.  Katie was extremely concerned.  In her very own loving, yet straight to the point way, she said, “Look up the word Rhabdomyolysis right now.”  I did, and I too became concerned.  Rhabdomyolysis is the break down of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents into the blood.  These substances are harmful to the kidneys and often cause kidney damage.  I had never heard of this injury, and it was hard to believe it could be happening to me.  I was stubborn.  I listened to Katie’s warnings but I never went to the ER.  I thought because my urine was getting better (clear), that I was ok and not as bad as we thought.  About 36 hours later, I had a dizzy spell.  My hips were hurting and my arms felt heavy.  I thought, “I know!  I’ll call Uncle Rodger and get an IV.”  My uncle happens to be the paramedic for the Broncos and he was ironically at training camp when I called him.  I explained to him what happened and my symptoms and his response was, “Nope.  You get your butt to the ER right now.”  Ugh.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  I didn’t feel bad enough to go to the ER.  I was so worried about going in and nothing being wrong with me.  My husband was really worried at this point and he begged me to call my friend Sean who is an ER doctor.  I explained everything to him and he agreed with Katie, Brian and Rodger, it was time for a trip to the ER.  “Great, more embarrassment!” I thought.  “Now I will be a hypochondriac on top of a total failure.”  As soon as I arrived at the hospital, Sean had an IV ready for me.  It felt incredible.  I needed that more than I realized and Sean confirmed that I did have Rhabdo.  I was such a fool to have waited so long to go in.  Thankfully, I did not have a bad case.  Rhabdomyolysis can get really bad, very quickly.  Maybe it was a blessing that I wasn’t able to finish my race.  I did not suffer any kidney damage and I will make a full recovery.

I learned a lot about myself on July 26, 2014.  I learned that I am very stubborn.  I need to listen to my body a lot better.  I am making necessary changes to become stronger and smarter for future races.  I have also learned that I have deep determination and inner strength.  Aside from losing my dad 4 years ago, that race was one of the lowest moments in my life.  6 weeks later, I am still recovering but I now understand everything I was doing wrong.  Even though the Mt. Evans Hill Climb was a humbling experience for me, I believe it will help me become a better athlete and a stronger person. Through my pain and defeat, I still feel grateful for the experience and the lessons I have learned.

Tough Love Works!

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Arguably one of the hardest days on a bike in Colorado – the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. Lanier and Rachel competed with 4 other women from Austin to New York on the Panache Cycle Wear team on the gnarly dirt roads at altitude. Read more about the epic day on the bike.

When Rachel Scott sent a message about the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race, I was intrigued.  100+ miles, most on dirt roads with 35% grades in certain spots – fun!  Well, maybe not everyone’s definition of fun but I love a good challenge.  We were a 6-person team racing for Panache.  Becca put the team together. Laura and Caroline of Austin TX and Abby of NYC arrived in Boulder on Thursday.  We got our kits together and arrived at the start line.

When the route came out the week prior, it showed 107 miles with 13,000+ feet of climbing.  The time would be taken on the last person of the team to cross the finish line, so we needed to work together to ensure that all finished.  The decision was on which bike to ride, and after some emails from Becca, I opted for my Seven ti frame with 28 tire.  We made our way up Superflag, Rachel and Becca leading the way.  We then wound our way along lots of hard-packed dirt roads after Gross Reservoir.  Although the grades on the ascents remained very steep, often 13-15%, the scenery was spectacular.  I have grown accustomed to the scenery after living in Colorado so long.  Seeing it through Abby, Caroline and Laura’s eyes took my mind off the hard climbing and reminded me how lucky we all were to be riding our bikes with great people in a gorgeous place!

I ran into technical trouble descending a few miles of loose rocky road, and was the last one down.  Then we needed to push the pace to get to the cutoff.  We were back on hard packed dirt, and several of us were tiring fast.  I focused on eating more, but my legs began cramping.  Fortunately, Rachel had salt tablets which kept me riding.  When we turned on Switzerland trail, I found myself on terrain that I would have struggled with on my CX bike with fresh legs – very loose dirt with bigger rocks than before.  My legs began cramping again, and I slid out several times.

So I began walking, feeling 2” high because I knew I was keeping the team from making the cutoff.  Rachel came back to check on me, and quickly realized I had mentally given up but that I could still ride.  She said it was time for tough love, that the last part of the trail was easier and that I had to get on the bike and to follow her line.  For the 2nd time in my life, I cried on a ride. I usually love riding no matter how much I’m hurting, but I did not believe I could ride another mile.  But Rachel broke it down into simple commands and after a couple of attempts, I was able to stay upright, clip in and follow her.  She talked me through the last 1.5 miles, and by the end I even found a small bit of confidence handling the bike, even if my legs were shaky and weak.  It rained a bit, which cooled everything off and made the terrain easier.  When we were almost done, I was happy again to be riding.  To my eternal gratitude, Rachel helped me finish Switzerland Trail upright!

We shortened the ride afterwards, giving me a chance to chat on one of the descents with our super climber teammate Jamie, who had a great day riding with the Davis Phinney team.

My personal takeaways include making sure that I am fully prepared physically, mentally and skill-wise before signing up for a team effort in the future.  But overall, it was a fantastic day riding some incredibly difficult but incredibly beautiful terrain with a great group of women.  Many thanks to Rapha for putting the race on, and to our sponsor Panache and Becca for sponsoring a women’s team!

 

Salida States in Photos

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A picture is worth a thousand words so we’ll let these photos do the talking from Salida Omnium!

TT
Sharon Madison  2nd place 45+
Katie Harrer 4th place 3’s

Crit
Sharon Madison-3rd pl 45+
Katie Harrer-
Susan Hersey- 1st pl. 45+
Kimberly Turner-4th pl. pro 1/2/3
Melanie Wong
Melissa Westergard-4th pl cat 4

RR
Sharon Madison- State Champ masters road 45+
Katie Harrer-4th pl cat 3
Kimberly Turner 2nd pl. Pro 1/2
Melanie Wong 5th pl pro 1/2
Melissa Westergard
Natalia Ptas