I came into this race hoping to beat my time from last year by 30 minutes. With the change of course everyone was running a bit slower, but I was still very happy with my result, surprisingly hearing my name for the podium as my intent was a personal best, rather than placing as 100 mile endurance races are more a test of will and metal fortitude. I rode very well in the the first 40 miles, had some knee issues (had to walk for a few steep sections as I couldn’t turn the pedals – ouch) and then regained my composure on mile 60, took a Tylenol, drank some Naked Mighty Mango and carried on. Found Kristen Lazlo (3rd place pro) and rode with her nearly to the finish. I really enjoyed chatting with and commiserating with another woman on the final stretch. We were both in it together and gave up the competition for camaraderie. A good race and a great result, I am happy to have taken myself to the point where it feels like quitting would be the best thing to do, grit my teeth and continue on.
Melanie took to the hills ad represented Naked for the Guanella Pass Hill Climb in the uber competitive Women’s Pro 1/2 Category. Read her report here:
The climb up Guanella Pass outside of Georgetown is beautiful, rife with ponds, reservoirs, gushing waterfalls and scenic views every time you turn a corner — I didn’t notice any of it.
That happens in bike racing, in this case the State Hill Climb Championships at Guanella Pass. You’re so focused on turning the pedals over, breathing or catching the wheel in front of you that you don’t see anything else.
The race started out as a near disaster for me. Organizers staged the racers earlier than expected, and I did not have time to warm up. There were 8 women in the 1/2 category, and we all shivered under cloudy skies waiting for our wave to be sent off on the 11-mile climb.
As we started, a few girls sprinted off, and I fully felt the consequences of my lack of warm-up. There was no power in my legs, and the initial switchbacks, which hit 12 % grade, made my lungs burn. The entire field left me in a matter of minutes, and in my head I imagined EVERYONE from all the juniors to the tandems passing me.
I was going to be dead last.
To my relief, my legs woke up after about 10 minutes and I set to work catching up. I did slowly for the next 45 minutes, picking off all the riders who had passed me earlier.
The last couple miles were a struggle as the pitch got steeper, and being above treeline, the air was frigid and the wind was gusting. I finished 5th in my category and just in time to see other Naked Racing women in the 3 and 4 categories come trickling through the finish line.
Talk about a mountain top experience! I strongly recommend checking out this climb when not racing — the road is in great condition and the scenes are phenomenal!
Why do squirrels, prairie dogs and rabbits love darting in front of your wheel like it’s an evil game? Sometimes they don’t always win as Susan found out last week.
Oh…the hazards of riding. I really do love riding my bike on the road and on the dirt, but I really dislike crashing. We have all been victim to it and the outcome varies. Not to make light of serious situations, but sometimes you have to laugh and move on. I feel like my crash number has been up for the last few weeks by narrowly being hit by car and almost nailing a tree while riding my mountain bike. There have been other things, too; I mean it has come close several times. Whether it was a groundhog or squirrel or bunny, ‘tis the season. And every time it has caused my heart rate has to skyrocket in a manner of seconds.
Well, my number was called this week and not quite the way I was expecting. It was a beautiful day, I had just finished a great workout and we were in a hurry to get home to make dinner. But somebunny had different plans for me; MINUTES from home a bunny, a rather large bunny, sprinted out of the bushes like Usain Bolt. I saw a fur ball out of the corner of my eye. Everything happened so fast; thump, flick, halt and fly. The thump was the bunny hitting my tire, the flick was his body being thrown in my front fork, the halt was his body jammed into my fork/brake and the fly was me performing a well-executed superman (without the cape).
Lying there on the pavement seeing stars, struggling to breathe and my husband runs up to me, asks “are you okay, can you move?”. Just as he bends down to touch me, I shout “don’t touch me”. I needed a minute to evaluate my body: left nipple feels like it’s been ripped off and I can’t take a deep breath (broken ribs??). Then I blurt out “stop my Garmin”, my husband said, “seriously, that is what you are concerned with?” So I must be okay, right? I stand up and start pacing back and forth trying to get over the pain. Nothing appears to be broken and my left nipple, still there (thankfully). In complete shock, I walk over to my bike to see the little mother f@#*$er. Yep, sure enough there he was all tangled up in my bike, blood, guts, and fur all over the place…suddenly dinner doesn’t sound so good anymore.
Kimberley has had some ample time off the bike due to suffering a broken neck but she’s back on the bike! We couldn’t be more thrilled! In the meantime, you can read about her progression on her blog from Gila, to injury, to back in business!
Megan gave Katie Compton a run for her money at the Beti Bike Bash. She was only 3 seconds off of first! Way to go! All the Naked ladies crushed it at this Women’s Only mountain bike event. Read more here:x
When I saw the start list for the Beti Bash, I was immediately nervous. Among other starters was World class racer Katie Compton,with whom I was mainly familiar with from watching on TV Saturday mornings during ‘cross season. Throw in a few other pros like Teal Stetson-Lee and I was officially intimidated. I like courses with some climbing so a flat, fast course more like a road race made me pretty nervous. At the start I tried to line up toward the back, but my husband, Taylor pushed me to squeeze in off to the left in the second row.
Coming into the race, I had a relatively easy week of riding recovering from the Gunnison Growler and just one moderate paced mid-week ride, but the day prior, I had been on my feet for over 8 hours getting my kids to their end of year school carnival and hanging out there all day. After about five hours in the hot sun, I showered and headed out to a friend’s 40th birthday party, complete with Super Diamond, a nationally-known Neal Diamond cover band. The last time I saw this band was pre-kids at a sold out show at the Fillmore, so now playing our private party, I opted dance the night away to Sweet Caroline and other familiar tunes. After all, cycling is what I do for fun and if I can’t enjoy a date night party then it’s time to reevaluate my priorities! After all this, I certainly didn’t have high expectations for performance the next day, but knew that I would do my best and hopefully have a lot of fun at a cool race.
Getting back to the race, we took off and I immediately fell back somewhere into 10 or 11th place, but by the end of the first short hills I managed to work my way into 4th. I treated this as a road race b/c the single track is not technical and there are only 3 very short hills. I knew from experience that if a gap formed between me and other stronger, more powerful riders that I would be dropped. As such, I dug as deep to make sure I stayed with the lead group. I was pleasantly surprised that none of them gave me any grief about sucking their wheel. The pace was high for the first lap and on lap two I started to question whether I had what it took to stay with them for the entire race. Thankfully, as I continued to sit on their wheels in fourth place, the pace slowed on lap three as the gap had been established. Towards the end of the lap a small break formed between 2nd and 3rd and as we came through the start/finish area I heard the announcer say it looked like we were fading, so I knew it was time to put on the gas to drop 4th place. I quickly bridged up to the first two riders, Katie and Teal, and about halfway into the last lap a gap started to form between them. With several long flat headwind stretches left, I had to evaluate whether to go around Teal and try to battle Katie for the win or sit on Teal’s wheel and sprint for second at the end of the race. Feeling rather intimidated by these top competitors, I took the more conservative option of staying on Teal’s wheel. As we neared the end of the lap though, I could tell I was still feeling strong. I had spent most of the race drafting and knew I still had the legs to go hard. As we approached the final descent, I came around Teal and to my surprise, she gave me some words of encouragement. I raced towards Katie, but knew I had waited too long to try to catch her. I did manage to gain several seconds on the last hill, but was still excited to roll through the finish in second place. Lessons learned: mountain bikers are really nice and sometimes road racing experience comes in handy…
Race report from our Naked lady who hails from Breckenridge, Kerri! Read more about her 12 Hours of Mesa Verde Experience on her blog. Here’s a teaser:
We are off to the land of Cortez CO Phils World. I’m super excited for this race as the course is so fun, luckily enough I’m not doing it solo this year. I’m on a team of two with Zeke, our team name is Naked Stinger as he rides for Honey Stinger and I ride for Naked Juice, Its just makes sense to call it that. I have to say…. all week my nerves have been shot waiting for this race to come as its my first one of the year but now I’m here, think its going to be great.
Roberta talks how to develop as a bike racer and a professional in the workforce. Read more about just how intense studying can be and also how very similar it is to bike racing.
For many of us who race our bikes, we need to hold day jobs as well. In my quest to develop myself professionally, I set goals that are very similar to those in bike racing. As with bike racing, you need to deal with defeat and how to you recover when you do not meet your goal. Several years ago, a colleague suggested that I pursue receiving my Certification in Industrial Hygiene (CIH). My background was Environmental Health and in my nursing career I was dealing with Industrial Hygiene/ Occupational Health issues. I know many of you at this point are asking what Industrial Hygiene is. The simplest explanation is that Industrial Hygiene is what keeps workers safe from noise exposures, biological hazards, ergonomics , indoor air quality, just to name a few of the areas. So within the past three years I have taken review courses and studied several Engineering and Industrial Hygiene texts to pass the test. The test has a touted pass rate of around 42%. So I knew that my goal to pass was going to take dedication and practice. Just like cycling.
When training for cycling we lay down a foundation that we can build on over the season. This is what I did with my studying, I laid the foundation with reading, watching lectures, and having a dedicated study times. The test is only offered 2 times a year, Spring and Fall. I was scheduled to take my test in November 2013 the Wednesday just before Thanksgiving. Since August, I had dedicated every weekend to studying, doing equations and memorizing ventilation data and tables. When I went into the test, I treated it like “race day”. I even ate my typical “pre-race meal” to prepare myself. I visualized myself even taking the test, just like I do for bike racing. The test is a 5.5 hour exam with 1 hour break for lunch. When you are done with the test, you hit submit and you immediately know your preliminary results. Well unfortunately I did not pass. I was in tears and sunk into a depression. All of that studying and time invested I felt just so defeated.
A few weeks later I received my detailed results of the exam and realized that I was going to have to plan a comeback. Just like in cycling, when you have a bad race that you know you have trained for, your comeback will be stronger and more motivated. So I took a month off then it was back to studying again. Although instead of having to develop a base all over again, I needed to focus on my “sprinting”. Looking at the areas I was not as strong in and honing that skill. I found an online course that helped me to design my own focused area of study and I was actually excited to take the test again. When I failed the first time, it was hard to tell people. A lot of people knew of my goal of passing and it was a hit to the ego when I had to let people know that I had not met my goal. The second time around, I didn’t publicize it a lot for that reason. This is the same feeling that I have had before training for long endurance races and they don’t go as well as expected. I knew I would pass but just wanted a few people knowing what I was up to. So the test came around last Monday. I did my whole pre-race routine. Did some “openers” the day before the exam, hydrated well the night before, dressed comfortably and went into the test the next morning feeling confident that I was going to nail it. I took my time during the exam, even stopped to tell myself “good job” and to “ hang in there”. When I hit the submit button this time around it replied back with a “Congratulations”! This is a preliminary result until I get the final paperwork but it looks like my dedicated training paid off. I know have the credential of CIH and have hit an awesome milestone in my career. Much of which I can thank my participation on a cycling team for!
Our ladies crushed the Cat 3/4 Tour of the Gila, and even worked to get on the podium! Read more about the epic race from Jamie – one of our fastest climbers (and she proves it on that last stage)!
Before we knew it, May arrived and we found ourselves in Silver City, New Mexico. Our 4-day adventure was about to begin. Five women from Naked Women’s Racing, Elena Alarcon, Lanier Allen, Jamie Gilmore, Nadiya Mitelman and Leslie Young, were ready to start the Tour of the Gila. The 4-day stage race is known for the challenging climbs and tough competition. In order to prepare for such a race, we knew we had to train both mentally and physically. Fortunately, we had two veterans of the race, Lanier and Nadiya, to help us prepare and be ready to race strong.
In our preparations for the race, Lanier and Nadiya shared valuable advice, and important considerations that proved to be essential for us:
- Focus on being in the pack, but towards the front. Out of trouble, but not working.
- If we found we were on the front, others would let us stay there as long as we let them, so slow down to conserve energy and eventually get another rider to come around.
- Communicate consistently throughout the race to adapt to the rapid changes that would unfold.
- Know we would be racing with fierce competition; be prepared for lots of attacks, aggressive riders and be ready to race smart and with awareness.
Stage 1 – Fort Bayard Inner Loop Road Race – 61.3 miles with 4,595 ft of climbing
The race began in a tiny little town called Pinos Altos with a total of 26 women on the start line. With 5 women, Naked was by far the largest team and there were 4 more women from Colorado. At the start we had a plan to stay safe, throw in some attacks, ride strong and have fun. The day started with a quick descent followed by a 5 mile Category 3 climb. We quickly integrated ourselves into the field and enjoyed the scenic climb with the pack through the Gila National Forest. The fast, technical descent split the field nearly in half, and 15 women continued together through the rolling terrain of the next 25 miles. As the final 16 miles approached, the pace picked up to break the field in two again over the final Category 3 climb.. A group of 15, holding Elena, Jamie, Nadiya and Lanier, quickly fell to 6. Both Jamie and Elena held in with the lead group, which was climbing strong and fast. Elena did an amazing job pacing in the front on the climb and the descent, with Jamie right behind her, to ensure Naked was near the front for the finish. Most of the women stayed together on the descent as well, and it was clear there was going to be a good battle at the finish. Coming into one of the final corners, Elena was nearly thrown into the concrete median and lost momentum, but Jamie held on for the sprint finish and ended up in 2nd! Elena ended with a strong 5th. Lanier and Nadiya were not far behind finishing strong.
Unfortunately, Leslie ended the stage with a broken elbow after crashing in the same corner that nearly took Elena out less than a mile from the finish line. She would have finished soon after Lanier since she had dropped her two racing companions on the second climb. She smiled her way through the pain and wanted to cheer us on for the next 3 days. We couldn’t have asked for a better teammate!
Stage 2 – Dan Potts Memorial Tyrone Individual Time Trial – 16.15 miles with 1,188 ft of climbing
The individual time trial is a true physical and mental challenge. This is especially true of the time trial at Gila, which starts with a 4.5 mile Category 4 climb up and over Little Burro Pass. There are a couple small rollers before the turnaround, and then you hit the shorter but steeper 1.5 mile climb back up Little Burro. Obviously, when you start with a climb, you finish with a downhill! Wind is usually a huge factor in this stage, but we were extremely lucky with a calm afternoon. The best part of this stage was starting on the time trial ramp with someone holding your bike. Certainly makes you feel a bit “pro”.
We ended with another strong day of racing. Elena, who’s favorite event is the time trial, finished 4th to bring her up to solid 4th in the GC. Lanier came in 5th, moving up to 13th in the GC. Nadiya came in 10th to hold her 12th position in the GC. And Jamie, totally retro on her road bike with no aero bars or helmet, came in 13th and moved to 6th in the GC. Next year we will beg, borrow or steal the right equipment for her!
Stage 3 – Downtown Silver City Criterium – 12.9 miles (12 laps)
The crit was a 1.08 mile course with 4 fairly decent corners. There was 1 short hill that certainly had the legs burning right when you reached the top, and then a roller coaster of a downhill that spit you right over the next bump in the road. The descent and last corner onto the finishing street was a fast one. There were 3 primes in this crit. Two of them went to the race leader, but Elena decided to play a bit, and managed to win one as well. Once again, the Naked team raced strong, stayed safe and finished the day maintaining strong GC positions.
Stage 4 – Gila Monster Road Race – 68.9 miles with 5,610 ft of climbing
They certainly saved the best and the most difficult day for last! It’s the reverse route from Stage 1, but they start you in town for a few extra miles. So the technical descent from Stage 1, is now the nearly 10 mile Category 2 climb that determines the Queen of the Mountains! Going into this stage, Elena was sitting in 4th, 2:54 sec off the leader, but only 53 seconds off a 3rd place podium spot. Jamie was 7th, and 4:59 sec off the leader. Everyone wanted Naked on the podium, and we knew it was going to be a tough day. There was a real opportunity for us to launch some attacks and make an exciting day of racing! Jamie made a plan to attack at the base of the Gila monster to shake the field and change the overall GC positions. There’s a descent right before the climb and Jamie took lead of the pack a few miles out and led into the climb. From the very base of the climb, a very determined Jamie launched her attack and completely obliterated the field. Elena desperately tried to stay with her, but happily watched her ride away from everyone! She took one look back early on, and then it was see ya later. Her attack was a great success. She held off the overall race leader who had won nearly everything (every stage, nearly every sprint and prime) and won the most difficult stage of the race by nearly a minute! She also gained enough time back to come in 2nd in the overall GC. Of course, Leslie was at the finish to witness this impressive win and be the first to celebrate with Jamie. Elena was able to maintain her 4th place in the GC. Nadiya’s descending speed and skill were brilliant again that final day. She hung in with the lead pack to help out Jamie and Elena, and finished 12th overall in the GC. Lanier also raced strong, and finished 14th overall in the GC.
As we all finished, we were greeted with the cheering smile and voice of Leslie. What a treat it was to have such an enthusiastic supporter.
The incredible opportunity for us to race Gila as part of the Naked Women’s Racing team enabled us to gain invaluable knowledge. The opportunity for us to race hard, adjust quickly to fast changing race conditions, and be a part of an encouraging team has elevated us as racers and we are excited to apply what we learned to all our future races.
Susan, our resident endurance mountain biker, went out for the Battle of the Bear 50 miler coming away with the third fastest time of the day for the ladies! Read her detailed report here.
The alarm clock goes off, I roll over…yuck 5am, already?!? I want to hit the off button, roll over and go back to bed, but my guilt gets me out of bed. I wander downstairs, turn on the espresso machine and find the detailed list of things I need to get done that morning. It’s a detailed timeline of my morning routine and items to take with me to the race. I force myself to eat, even though I’d feeling like vomiting all over my kitchen floor…race nerves. Focus on something else…okay…it’s a beautiful morning, looks like it’s going to be a great day for a 50 mile mountain bike race, plus I have some calories to burn (oddly this tactic helps me get over my race day nerves).
Running on time, but it always seems as if I’m running late…again race day nerves. I confirm with myself that I truly am “on-time” and not to worry. I arrive at the venue; get my bike ready and warm-up. At the starting line I’m looking around and don’t recognize anyone. Random thoughts are popping in and out of my head; I see a woman on a CX bike…impressive I thought to myself. I quickly redirect my thoughts to focusing on my start: am I in the proper gear, do I go for the hole shot, how much is this going to hurt?
We’re off and I sprint and win the holeshot (first racer to enter onto the singletrack), which is my preference since I do not know the technical abilities of the other racers. Going hard but not too hard, after all this will be a long race and I need to save some for later. I find that three of us get a small gap on the rest of the pack. At first it looked like we were going to work together, but that didn’t last. One of the ladies pulled ahead during the first lap, but I reeled her back in, while all the time having another racer on my wheel. I found myself in the lead for 3.5 laps, stupidly letting the other racer sit on my wheel. There was a time where I thought she started to drop off, but the next thing I knew she was stuck to my wheel, like white on rice. It was my fault, I let her sit there not working. She was analyzing my every move; she knew my weaknesses and my strengths. I knew nothing of hers, except she was one smart cookie to hang on my wheel and let me do the work. I told myself I like it this way; I work harder with someone pressuring me from behind…I couldn’t be more wrong, but yet I let it happen. She knew exactly when to attack me and when she did, I didn’t respond. Frozen in time, I saw her pedal away in disbelief. Finding myself discouraged and becoming fatigued, I started to battle with holding my pace. I had to work hard to keep my head in the game and keep going, then surprise, a racer sneaks up on me with five miles to go. She passes me as we start the climb, this time I stay on her wheel but we get stuck behind another racer who was suffering. The rutted trail made it difficult to pass, she goes left, loses her rear wheel, but saves it. I say to myself I have to pass this guy, so I pass to the right, but by that time she was at the crest of the hill. I was about 15 seconds behind her, which is a lot of time in bike racing. On the next and longest climb on the course, she gained more time on me and I lost sight of her due to all the switchbacks on the trail. By now I was counting the miles to the finish and happy that I was almost done as my legs were on the verge of cramping. I have to be proud of myself for achieving the third fastest time of the day amongst all the women’s groups, but I am furious with myself for allowing someone to take advantage of me and not fighting hard when it was important.
Natalia, Rachel, Melanie and Ashleigh went out without much of a plan for 18 Hours of Fruita and came away not only with first place, but 3 additional laps on the closest team! Natalia sums up her FIRST mountain bike race below.
About three months ago my boyfriend told me that he signed up for the 18 hours of Fruita race. For those who are not familiar it is an 18-hour mountain bike race. You can race it solo or in a team. He signed up to do it solo and I thought he was crazy but at the same time I thought it sounded fun. My first love is road cycling but I got a mountain bike last fall and have been on it only a hand-full of times. It quickly grew on me so I decided to recruit a team of four. Rachel Scott and Melanie Wong agreed to join me but we couldn’t find a fourth person. Luckily, Melanie’s friend Ashleigh from Avon, CO wanted to race, so we recruited her to join the Naked team. This was going to be my first mountain bike race and first time riding at night. After I registered the team I realized what I got myself into. I was terrified. All ladies on my team are experienced mountain bikers and I was the most afraid of letting my team down. After a few months of anticipation and not knowing what to expect, the day finally came. On Friday morning, my boyfriend and I packed up the car and headed up to Fruita. We arrived at the Highline Lake State Park in the afternoon. After setting up the camp, I met up with my teammates to discuss the strategy. We agreed to start with 2 laps each and since Melanie has done the race four times we decided she would go first. We had no idea who our competition was and our goal was to get through the night first and just have fun on our bikes.
At midnight I went to the start line to cheer on my boyfriend and his team, but I could not find Melanie. The night was warm and clear and watching the stars and the lights go around the lake helped calm down my nerves. I didn’t feel tired but I went back to the tent to get some rest. Around three o’clock in the morning Chad came back to the tent as his light went out. He didn’t have a backup light and it wouldn’t recharge fast enough so he decided to take a break until the sunlight. At 3:30 it was time for me to head out. Rachel came through the transition area and was kind enough to let me borrow her clear glasses. The course was very dusty and without the glasses I would be in tears and not able to see very well. As soon as I was on the course I was pleasantly surprised to see how powerful my light was. One mile into the race I started to pass other rides, which gave me a nice confidence boost. I thought to myself that I didn’t suck that much and could do this. After all, I paid to be here and I reminded myself to have fun with it. I completed my first lap in less than 40 minutes, 5 minutes under what I estimated. I started my second lap feeling strong and confident. I had less than one mile to go when my light ran out of battery. It didn’t give me any warning and all of the sudden I found myself in the dark. At that moment I was going downhill at a good speed. I slammed on my breaks and hoped nobody was behind me. It was around five in the morning and starting to get light enough just to see the sandy single track. After my eyes adjusted to the dark I got back on my bike and started following the trail very slowly. I knew there was a bridge ahead of me and a half a mile climb at the very end. Finally somebody passed me so I sped up and followed them to the end. After all this I only lost one minute, so I was pretty pleased, but most importantly I finished the lap safely.
When the night was behind us we checked the results and discovered that we were in first place, one lap ahead. The competition was on! We continued to ride as fast as we could and quickly were two laps ahead of our opponent. We safely completed 28 laps or 204.4 miles, in 17 hours, 51 minutes and 42 seconds. In second place were the Dirty Phat Chubbettes, four ladies from Carbondale, CO riding fat bikes who made for a fun competition.
The race was an amazing experience and exceeded my expectations. The weather cooperated and I couldn’t ask for better teammates. Also many thanks go to our amazing support. Our guys were there for moral support, they made sure we had food, water, and took care of our bikes.