Rachel explains some reasons behind her first DNF in today’s Interlocken Cyclocross Race. No bike mechanicals, just mechanicals of the mind. Don’t worry, she’ll be back at it tomorrow. Is a DNF More »
Cyclocross is supposed to be muddy, treacherous and hard, right? Susan lost count of how many times she slid out, crashed and walked like a frog. But she did it all with a smile. Read more to find out why this race was so tough.
Some of Colorado’s finest female CX racers begin to gather at the start line and circle around like sharks hunting for the kill. As we wait to be called up into our proper starting order, the rain begins. As does the chatter about sprinklers watering the course, but “don’t worry” we’re told, safety cones are on course where the water has puddled up. Oh and the 180 turn at the far end of the course that we were riding during warm up is more slippery than snot, so run it. Oh and the good lines in the mud have all been trampled by the Pro Men who went right before us. Everything about the course has changed from when we rode it during warm-up.
A couple of racers decided to bag the race in fear of injury and others are getting last minute bike swaps, ones that are more suitable for the slick, muddy conditions. A few minutes delayed, but the race begins and so does the adventure. The course starts on asphalt, then up a curb to a wet grassy off camber set of steep “S” turns, my rear tire is sliding from side to side, but I manage to keep it upright. Next up a tight right and uphill turn into a set of barriers, this left me gasping for air at the top.
As I am coming off the sidewalk down the slightly off camber grassy hill, I see the sprinklers. They are on, arching overhead directly onto the course and right on the slicker than snot 180 turn. I quietly say to myself, “hey it’s cyclocross, anything goes.” The racer in front of me attempts to ride the 180, but goes down. I quickly hop off and find myself able to make it around her with little trouble.
But the most challenging sections are still to come and those sections become worse as the race and rainy weather continues. We are all struggling, some more than others. For me on this day, I was struggling both physically and mentally. I lost count of how many times I slid out, sometimes crashing harder than others, chainring falling off getting stuck between my ring and derailleur and the absence of toes spikes made running in the slick mud very difficult (placed an order for toes spikes in all sizes today). In fact, the only way I could make it up one section was by walking like a frog, I had absolutely no traction. All I could do was smile, have fun with it and do the best I could. But one thing I knew for sure was that I would finish, even if that meant last place.
After it was all over, a few spectators congratulated me for a job well done. They saw me out there struggling, but never giving up. This will be a race I will not forget.
Gayle took 1st place this weekend at one of Boulder’s biggest cyclocross races, but not after getting a face full of sand….and getting it caught on camera. Read more or just laugh at the picture instead.
If a picture is worth a thousand words this picture writes the race report for me…
This will be my first real season of racing cross after a few races on a borrowed bike last year. My season started this weekend at the US Open of Cyclocross at the Boulder Reservoir. I was nervous for the race after a week of traveling for work (read: not enough sleep/exercise and too much free breakfast buffet). I made my way up to Boulder on Friday to pre-ride the course (in the snow) and was disappointed to see that they hadn’t marked the course yet and since it is a very “taped” out course, it was impossible to get any real idea of what the course would be. I was able to tell that there would be a lot of dirt! I rode around in the snow for a while and made the journey back down to Aurora – after a pit stop for some warmer gloves
Saturday was an early morning. The SW4 race was at 7:32 so I was out the door by5:15 to get up there. I threw every layer of clothes in a bag and just hoped it would warm up. I appreciate that cross is an all-weather event, but I just wasn’t ready for sub-freezing temps in the beginning of September. It was 32 degrees when I pulled in the parking lot…ouch. I layered up and rode the course twice. Not the warm-up I would have like, but I got to ride the course and see where some of the muddy, sandy, challenging spots were. I was glad to see a few other SW3 and SW4 Naked racers there that morning. There’s something to be said for pain in numbers.
As the SW4 race started I tried to get to the front as soon as possible. The two Junior racers started with us and they were the first off the pack. Those girls were fast – I have total respect for their ability at their age. Part way through the first lap I passed two racers and it dawned on me that the juniors were in a different category so I was winning the SW4 race. I tried to keep a steady pace and be cautious in some of the sandy areas. I realized which spots it was faster for me to put a foot down or hop off and run and I sucked it up on the totally bumpy dirt, grassy areas that jostled you to the core. On the third lap I was pumped to still be in the lead, I got to the drop-off spot that was a challenge the first few times. First lap I felt like I got whiplash I landed so hard, second lap was good, third time…not so much. I “guess” I was a bit too far over the bars and in a flash I was flying over the handlebars, face down in the sand. I totally knocked the wind out of myself and it took a few seconds to get up. I stood up, took a few big breaths to re-inflate my lungs and spit out some dirt. A few steps to make sure I was basically ok, put the chain back on my bike and took off the best I could. A few people were pretty close behind me at that point, but I knew if I pushed I could hold them off. In the process of falling I must have smashed my handlebars into the meaty part above my knee-cap which made it hard to push hard, but generally I was ok – except for the massive quantities of dirt covering my entire body. I think I spit out dirt the entire last lap and still had dirt up my nose when I finished the race.
The whole wipeout happened to take place directly in front of two photographers and a medic. Good crowd for a crash! I bet John Flora stayed in that spot all day getting “money shots” of people in mid-crash. I saw he had a bunch of other crash photos later, but I also noticed that over the course of the day the ledge that was there in the morning smoothed out a bit and wasn’t as harsh of a drop-off. Goes to show how much a course changes over the length of a day of racing.
After a post-race stop at the medics (they waived me down asking to check me out) and a trip to the top of the podium I stole an ice-pack from my kid’s diaper bag and made that journey back to Aurora again. I was glad to just be in some pain and not actually hurt and anxious for the photos I knew would emerge in a few hours. After posting my epic face plant pic to the world of facebook lots of great comments followed. My favorite was a post on the photographer’s page from a woman I didn’t even know and it just said “Bless her heart”. Too Funny!
This was definitely an exciting way to start off the cross season. Although I’m hoping to not have this much excitement in future races I am hoping for a great season and possibly another trip onto the podium.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!!
Bucket list item…check!
As I neared 40 last year I started having these crazy ideas on riding my first 50 miler mtn bike race (crazy things happen when you turn 40). Training started in January amidst snow, rain and wind all over the mountains of Golden. I was determined to finish this race, letters not numbers right?
I woke up that morning with a tumbling stomach and nerves like I have never felt before. We loaded up and headed for the start line in Breck. I checked and rechecked everything and we headed off after peeing (sorry but true) 80 times from nerves; nothing like a race to cleanse the system. Apparently you lose brain cells at elevation. As I prepared my bike I had the realization I forgot my Garmin…REALLY! The thought of not knowing myr time and mileage for a 50 mile ride would be horrible… but what was I to do? I called back to camp and my dear friends said they would try and save my day and try to get my forgotten Garmin to me. I knew it was a long shot but crossed my fingers. I lined up super nervous at the start (which mind you is in the middle of the Breckenridge Fourth of July Parade) and looked to the crowed with 2 minutes to go and here comes my Garmin (THANK YOU!!!! Volker and Karen). Riding the parade through town was great fun and helped calm the nerves… and then the suffer fest began up the long steep road to the first single track. These girls were not messing around after we exited the parade. I pushed a lot harder than I thought was wise but I was able to keep up. We hit the first single track and I knew I was in 3rd place, hopping I could hold that for the next 40 miles. The single track was fun and fast until we hit the famous French Gulch climb slash hike-a-bike. I thought everyone was kidding when they said almost everyone walks this part…REALLY?? Well it’s true, I only saw one person try and ride French Gulch the rest of us pushed our bikes and complained about how steep and miserable this part of the trail is. Reaching the top it is a fabulous feeling and provided a fast, technical decent for miles that makes you smile. We had a great group of Naked Women riders and there is nothing more inspiring on a ride like this to have your team mates cheer you on way out in the wilderness of Breckenridge (this was much needed on lap 2).
I reached the park feeling tired but pretty good and I was holding my third place position. I have to say, lap two holds its challenges as the teams switch riders and you get passed by all these clean, fresh, happy riders who only started on their suffer fest while you are in the depths of the ride. I just needed to survive lap two…keep moving… finish. The wall hit at mile 40 and I slowed my pace but kept moving. Mile 42 was a heartbreaker as I was passed by that gal I passed 30 miles ago…REALLY! I tried with all my might to keep her in my sights but lost her in the next mile. I just lost my 3rd place position (insert violin music here). There is nothing sweeter than coming down the last switchbacks, hearing the crowd cheer and arriving at the finish line. Friends and family cheering you on, tired and exhausted, but happy to have made it. Two minutes behind 3rd place was a little harder to swallow. I am addicted to the endurance rides and the Firecracker is on my list for next year and maybe the Honey Stinger.
The Breck Epic in my mind used to be this race that Id never ever consider until this year. This race is a 6 day stage race all over Summit County on trails up over the ski resort and all over covering pretty much all the single track trails in Breckenridge. There’s a good reason we call it Bikenridge we believe we are blessed with some of the best trails. there is nothing better than going out for a ride and creating new loops it all seems endless sometimes.
I decided to race but only for the first 3 days so I guess you could say I was Epi-curious. I went in so nervous not knowing how my body would feel racing 3 days in a row, luckily I was around a house full of winners the whole time. Literally everyone in the house was winning or on the podium for there own category. It was so cool as I learnt so much from these professionals from calorie intake to stretching and recovering your legs daily. Not to mention being around others who are racing the whole time is just good because everyone is on the same page.
Day one I was a nervous wreck felt sick to my stomach not knowing what to expect also not knowing exactly who I was racing against so I just rode my race trying to catch who I could and pass them, I honestly didn’t think I did that great but i turns out I did. So that night I received the leaders jersey, Jennifer Barbour who is also on our team podiumed too which was so awesome representing Naked Juice. Its so great to see familiar faces on the podium. That night I had an idea who I was racing against which was great to know mentally, I’m still a nervous wreck about the next day and how its all going to pan out. Man!! this race is hard.
Day two I got stuck in the middle of the pack on the start line so I was freaking out about getting ahead before the single track started hmmmm next time when I have a leaders jersey get in the front was on my mind. Raced my race looking for the ladies I was up against but didn’t see them so I just carried on racing and trying to pick off ladies on the not always an easy task. day two was a long day especially on a hard tail but ya just soften your grip and relax at this point I was thanking my stars that I only had one more day to go after. My legs felt pretty good so I just pushed through any pain and carried on till till the end also having tons of fun on the single track ploughing down the mountains trying to not let anyone pass me. That night I won again yeaaaaa I was super happy to receive the leaders jersey again, Jennifer crushed it again in 3rd on the podium. AWESOME we are all holding our spots so we have to hold on to it now.
Day three I’m feeling pretty tired today but ready to face the challenge I get situated near the front of the pack this time and we are off. Felt good about where I was until I dropped my chain, oh man that sucked I had to get out of everyone way with everyone flying past so I didn’t get trampled on and once I fixed the problem had to get back in with the bikers. Ok so i’m hyperventilating a little at this point as i’m stressed to where I got put back in the pack. I carried on and tried to pass as many as I could without exploding, it was ok but I got stuck with the group that all got off there bikes on a little techy section . Not much I can do at this point, so I just do my best to pass em and get in a better position. I carry on and fly down little french the other direction which was great and I see my competition Nicole, ok great I’m back on track so I push really hard to get up french pass as fast as I can so she doesn’t pass me. Luckily after all of that I did win the last day again woohoooo!!!! I won all three days i’m super happy about that not to mention I’m going to France in 4 days. Jennifer also held onto her spot in 3rd place, she crushed it great job Jennifer that was not an easy race.
I had succeeded in my big goal for the year and now I’m going on holiday to ride road-bikes in France, life cant get any better.
We love our sponsors, especially if they are there to help us win! Read more on how Sidi rescued Megan at the Winter Park series, carrying her all the way to victory!
All the credit for my win at Winter Park last week goes to Sidi Sports and the Alpinestars rep. You see, I made the mistake of waiting until the morning of the race to pack my bag for Winter Park. After the 1.5 hour drive to Winter Park, I arrived at the resort just over an hour before the race. Only then did I realize I had forgotten my shoes. Other than a bike, it’s probably the single most important item to remember. The last time I forgot my shoes was in 1999 when I drove 45 min from Urbana, Il to the nearest mountain bike park. After that disappointing experience, I diligently double-checked my bag for 15 years….until that day.
Fortunately, fate was on my side. After running from trailer to trailer and store to store to see if anybody had a womens size 7 shoe to rent or borrow, I ended up at the Alpinestars tent. It turned out the Alipinestars and Sidi reps were traveling together. They sent me to the Sidi truck, fitted me with demo shoes and, since they didn’t have cleats compatible with my pedals, a big pair of their new enduro pedals. The pedals were huge compared to my tiny Crank Brothers Egg Beaters, but I actually enjoyed having the large platform under my foot and even found I had more confidence on the technical sections. I also had no trouble adjusting to the comfortable shoes. Now if I could just get Sidi to make a carbon mountain bike shoe for women….
Brittany had the longest race of her life, both road and mountain, and surprised herself with a 3rd place overall in the infamous Laramie Enduro!
The name is a bit confusing, but the Laramie Enduro is not an enduro as in #hashtagenduro, shuttle-to-the-top-and-shred-all-the-gnar-on-six-inch-travel-bikes. The Laramie Enduro is a 70 mile (ish) endurance mountain bike race that started long before #enduro was a thing. Just so we’re all on the same page. I raced the sport category and because of the field sizes, the race director combined the Women’s 0-29 and 30-39 age groups into a single 0-39 Women’s Sport category.
Not only was this the longest distance I’d ever ridden a mountain bike, it was going to be the longest race—road or mountain—I’d ever done. I was really concerned with pacing myself, and trying to trick myself into treating it like a ride instead of a race. Everyone I’d talked to who had previously done the Enduro had warned me that the last 20 miles were the most difficult part of the trail, super steep, loose, and rocky. Slow and steady and hopefully I’d make it.
Meme based on web comic Hyperbole and a Half: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html
The first 50 miles flew by! Some fun singletrack broke up the long stretches of forest service roads. I drank, ate, and hummed songs to myself.
I ran out of water around mile 50. My reservoir holds 3 liters, and I average—forcing myself to drink—1 liter/hr. Like a good girl, I refilled my reservoir at 3hrs. Mile 50 happened at 4:45. I still don’t understand how I drank 3 liters of water in an hour and a half, but I had roughly 45min-hour before the next aid station. Not good.
That station was 9 miles from the finish. I was cracked. A volunteer took my reservoir out of my hands and filled it. All of it. All 6.5 lbs and 3 liters of it. For 9 miles. Then this wonderful, horribly helpful person tried to put my reservoir back into my bag. Except she didn’t know where it went. As I repeat over and over, “thank you, but I can get it,” she unzips all my pockets. I finally got my bag back and struggled to zip the overstuffed compartment. As I rode around the corner and took a big gulp from my hose I got…nothing. The overly helpful woman hadn’t attached the hose to the reservoir! I almost started crying in frustration. I plopped onto the road, pulled my bag off, and re-did the time-consuming, unsuccessful packing.
Hose reconnected, I start up the awful final climb. It was just as described—steep, rocky, and loose, and I was already so tired I could barely pedal. Rocks that would normally not bother me were stopping me in my tracks. Every time I got off my bike, I felt more defeated and closer to exhaustion-tears. About half way up the climb were two women cheering their hearts out for everyone that rode by. Normally, I would smile, say thank you, and not pay much more attention than that. But, at 65 miles of utter exhaustion, I assure you, these women were beautiful, loving saints and I couldn’t disappoint them!
There’s a short, quick trail decent, then you hop onto a dirt road and finish the race on a steep downhill for half of a mile. My car was parked right where trail turns to road. I was so busy thinking about how much I didn’t want to ride back up this hill to get to my car that I didn’t bother to chase the woman that sprinted past me to the line. Had I known we were standing 2nd and 3rd, I probably would have tried to chase, but I did know there were several women in front of me who I assumed were my age group. Apparently I was wrong.
I crossed the line, turned around, rode back to my car, drank my recovery drink, and debated whether or not I should go back down to see the results. Maybe eat the free meal. After dumbly staring at the hill for about 10 minutes, I decided a free beer and food weren’t worth going up the hill again. So I loaded up and drove home.
It wasn’t until the next day when results were posted online that I realized I’d placed 3rd. I’m slightly embarrassed to say I have no podium photos for y’all because I was too lazy to go down and up a hill. Moral: You should always stick around for results. And you should always make the effort (however great it seems) to actually go check them.