Take the Stairs

Certified USA cycling coach Katie Whidden provides us with stair workout ideas to prep our bodies for the upcoming cyclocross season.   Want to improve your cyclocross skills this fall?  Take the stairs!  Living More »

All In: Finishing Strong at the Bannock Street Criterium

Kimberley Johnson is an experienced racer who provides us with great insight into racing hard despite dealing with far from ideal pre-race conditions.  Read about this competitors views on winning and racing with More »

For the Love of Hill Climbs

Melissa Westergard continues to be drawn to hill climbs.  Read about how she took on the Pikes Peak hill climb even after spending most of her summer as a flat lander.   There More »

Everyone Should Ride Lift Service…Sometimes

Brittany Jones is one of the most respected Naked ladies when it comes to the dirt.  In this great read she lets us in on some of her secrets to working on More »

The year of Redemption: 2015 Laramie Enduro

Read about how Heidi Gurov redeemed herself on a course that she had previously had a DNF at with a fantastic overall finish.   If there’s one day on the bike that More »

 

Winter Park Epic Single Track Super Loop

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

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

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

The Strength to Pull Through

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Think one time trial effort is hard?  Try doing two or three in a day.  Read about how Katie Whidden and Gayle Connell raced the team time trials last weekend at Best on Hess. 

Sometimes all we need is a little nudge to push harder or finish something that seems impossible.  Other times you just need a wheel to suck.  This past weekend I experienced just that, the need to just be dragged through a course.  I found myself in a really tough spot, and slightly in over my head.

Last weekend I thought I was taking on the Hess time trial.  Instead I took on the hills of Hess road.  With 600 ft of gain over 9 miles this was the most challenging TT course I have ever competed in.  Fellow teammate Gayle Connell suggested that we form a Naked womens cycling team for the team time trial.  We asked Katie Harrer to join us and of course she wanted to race both retro and aero.  So I signed up for what felt like the Ironman of time trials.  I competed in 3 time trials in the same day: the individual aero category,  team aero and team non-aero.  At 9 miles in length one might expect this task to be doable but with temperatures in the 80s and a hillier course than expected it was quite a challenging day.

Due to poor timing of the races we were scheduled to do two back to back team time trials and Katie had signed up for two individual TTs which she had to do back to back.  Unfortunately, she was not feeling good after her back to back individual races and had to go home.  After the first TT I  didn’t think I could make it through two more all-out efforts on this course.  I knew with the two hour break between the events that I would get in the shade and recover as best I could.

Gayle and I had a great first race but I finished the race exhausted and not sure my legs could sustain another effort like that.  Of course, Gayle would not let me quit. Without any other teams competing in our category she suggested that we just go out and ride it as best we could. Not only was she a great teammate to push me to complete it but she also did most of the work.  I was just trying to hold on and make it through.  As expected after the race I was happy that I decided to complete the challenge that I set for myself but without Gayle there I wouldn’t have made it through that last one.  Having teammates who know that you are capable of more and help you fight through the hard moments is what makes this team so wonderful. It’s true that we are capable of more as a team than as individuals. This series of races will stick with me for a while to come, while pain of racing has subsided I am still basking in the afterglow of our efforts. We were rewarded for our efforts with some of the best prizes cash, plenty of beer and the best part was the ice cream at the end of the event.

Mountain Bike Clinic Recap

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

The Race that Never Was

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Heidi Wahl and Katey Martus attempted to take on this year’s 12 Hours of Mesa Verde.  Read about the conditions they experienced and the fun they had.

Sometimes even with all the planning and preparation, things just don’t transpire as you had hoped. This was certainly the case with this year’s 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. Hold on, I am already jumping to the punch line…. Let’s go back to the beginning.

I have raced this exceptional event for the last 5 years and couldn’t wait to race this year’s event with some amazing women teammates that surprisingly have never raced the famous Phil’s World course in Cortez.  Continuing with my “racing for fun” strategy for 2015, the Hoochie Coochie Mamas was comprised of women that were strong (and beautiful) but also were there to have fun regardless of the result: Katey Martus (Naked), Laurel Arndt (Vitesse (AZ)), and Lauren Costantini (Kappius). It had been raining all week in Denver, and the weather was forecasted to snow on Mother’s Day leading to many of the local races being cancelled. Our team virtually high-fived each other as the weather in Cortez was to be cool but dry, and we felt like we were escaping to warmer and dryer race conditions.

Katey and I drove down to Cortez together and enjoyed are road trip jamming out to a combination of dance/electronic and old 80s big-hair band music while sharing stories. We got our camp setup and were able to get in a pre-ride of the course before another wave of rain came through. Knowing it was recently forecasted to be below freezing that night with a high percentage of precipitation, 3 out of 4 of us wimped out from sleeping under the stars and stayed in a hotel that night to stay warm and dry while our 4th teammate was cozy in a RV at the race venue.

Race day arrived and so did the inclement weather. The temps were in the 30s, rain was turning to snow, but the race director reiterated that the course could handle a lot of water and the race was going to start as planned. We elected Katey to be our first person in rotation since she mistakenly mentioned that she had been jogging as part of her weekly training regime. She staged her bike in the corral and then jogged up to the start, but quickly realized she forgot the baton and ran back down to the car to grab it before returning to the start just as the gun (sounded more like a cannon) went off! As the racers ran an abbreviated course to avoid the mud, they were quickly on the single track vying for a position. With Katey on course, the rest of us watched the near-blizzard conditions start and started planning for the next lap realizing we didn’t bring enough warm winter riding gear.

The first racers came through with much slower lap times than normal, and a few teams were able to send out a second rider before they instituted a weather delay. The trails were slick as snot forcing racers to walk and carry their bikes over many of the obstacles, and the normally outrageously fun whoop-de-do sections (Maxxit, Vertebrae, and Ribcage) turned into a slip-n-slide mud fest. Drivetrains were caked with clay-like muck and racers were finishing looking like they had partaken in a cold, total body mud spa treatment. Katey came in and just looked at us with a resigned expression and said, “You couldn’t pay me enough to do that lap over again!” We laughed, expressed how awesome she was for being such a good sport about it, and quickly got her changed into dry clothing.

Race directors eventually (and regrettingly) cancelled the race to protect the trails and our bikes for which all of us were very thankful.  Our tribe gathered and we enjoyed a pasta meal from Lotsa Pasta and beer from Oskar Blues, while we laughed about the situation and swapped stories with old and new girlfriends while planning the next biking adventure – hopefully with a more successful outcome.

When the rubber hits the road…

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Multi-sport athlete, Dana Platin,  faces some challenges in the weeks leading up to and during her first race of the season.  Read about how she overcomes this adversity and races to a 15 minute personal record at Galveston 70.3.  

It was my first triathlon of 2015, 70.3 Galveston, Texas.  The 70.3 triathlon consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile time trial followed by a 13 mile run. I was doubting my ability as I had missed a handful of trainings due to work, nasty colds, a strained hamstring and throw in some snow days.  At one point, I considered not racing and then put myself ‘in-check’ with a ‘it is what it is’ and regardless of those setbacks I shifted my attitude from ‘you aren’t prepared’ to ‘bring it.”

I kicked off the race swimming noticeably slower than normal due what seemed to be a current that I was swimming against.  Faced with my first obstacle, I turned up my mental skills training, found my sea legs, persevered and pushed on.

I take off on the bike and felt good; real good. I know I am aiming for a negative split and have rock star cat 4 teammate Katie Whidden’s voice in my head ‘maintain 19-21mph for 28 miles and then go get that negative split.’  I followed the plan and was feeling strong at the 30 mile marker.  It then began to rain, rain hard.  I am usually a conservative rider and racer. I am the first to pull back and ‘call it a day’ when faced with rain or snow.  As the rain was coming down, I noticed that my confidence went up.  I was wondering ‘where did Dana go?’ I got more aggressive, determined and focused on the road and the goal.  I  left all fear on the race course. I increased my cadence and speed and went for it. I passed people one by one and kept going through the downpour.  What is it that allows this confidence to shine through and crush the inner critic when rubber hits the road and we need to perform?

Thanks to Specialized and Turin bikes for my Shiv Race rocket as it brought me confidence, calm and speed.  Thanks to Naked Women’s Cycling race team for the encouragement, support and training rides.  Thanks to Inspired Training Center for providing sanctuary and insane power training sessions on the snowiest of winter days as well as Naked Juice and that kale blazer juice!  As I stepped out of my comfort zone, took a calculated risk,  I raced the 56 mile time trial the fastest time I had ever raced.  After the rubber hit the road, I finished strong with the run.

 

 

 

Race Report: Louisville Crit & USAFA Road Race

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Junior rider Ava Hachmann recaps her first time racing with her Naked women’s cycling team mates.  Read about her best career finish ever.  

A couple weekends ago I drove the 370 miles from my hometown of Durango up to Denver for Saturdays criterium, and for the USAFA road race on Sunday. Being a junior racer means my “mommy”/soigner/chauffeur came with me. Racing so far from home tends to be more stressful than when the race comes to you. Making sure to remember every piece of gear, equipment, charging cords, food and bikes is an art. And it was a good thing that I had all my cold-weather gear for my 8:30 am start time on Saturday. It was cold on the start line, but I had two teammates in the race to help get me going. The pace wasn’t too bad the first couple laps and the uphill part of the course broke up the field. Taking the opportunity to set the pace I moved up to the front and lead for lap after lap, never getting a gap but staying strong and confident and having fun hearing my team and name announced when I went across the line. In the final lap straightaway there was an attack and my small group became very spread out, due to poor timing we happened to be finishing at the same time as the chasing riders, so the finish line was very chaotic. I lost track of who I was trying to out sprint, so I just passed as many people as I could before the line. I ended up in fifth place, my best career finish. I am thankful for my teammates who stayed after their race and cheered me on!


The next day we drove out to the Air Force Academy for the Pro-open category road race. The course was rolling and hilly, with quite a bit of descending. There were five of us Naked women in the race all ranging from cat 4 to pro1/2’s, giving the race some depth. The race started slow, with Naked taking turns pulling the pack and keeping the pace down on the climbs. The finish line was on of a sustained climb and there was an attack before lap one was over, the field was blown apart and three groups formed. I worked hard to solo-bridge the gap between the third and second group, I worked hard to stay on the wheel of Katie Harrer, but I couldn’t hang on any longer after we began the final climb for the second time. I worked together with one of the Masters women to finish the race. After grabbing some lunch (and ice cream!) we drove all the way back home, thankfully I didn’t have school Monday. Overall I had a really good weekend of racing, and met more of my teammates! Looking forward to the Clasica De Rio Grande after an upcoming weekend of mountain biking in the desert!

I Found my Juice

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 New Naked Womens Cycling rider, Dana Platin, describes how she is adjusting to life back in America after 17 years in South America.  Read about her journey and how she has found her place as part of this squad.

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling some work colleagues how excited I was to go pick up my new juice for cycling, I got a few empty stares.  I go home that day and tell my husband the same ‘my juice has finally arrived, I am going to get so strong this cycling season.’ Another 3 second stare.  That would be Naked Juice as I am a newcomer to their cat 4 Naked Women’s Cycling race team for the 2015 season!

Impressions and aspirations of a cat 4 ‘newbie’

I moved to Colorado a year and a half ago after living in South America for the past 17 years.  While living in Ecuador, South America I was working with the Peace Corps, scaling the Andes Mountains, racing triathlon as well as discovered my passion for cycling. After some wear and tear from a running injury, I bought myself a road bike and found myself cycling in a velodrome and with the peloton at 9,000 feet elevation where the air was of so thin. I fell in love with cycling and spent my weekends riding long distances with girl friends and later raced road races on a women’s team. I found the camaraderie, community, and teamwork exhilarating, I was sold!

After being out of the country for so many years, coming back to the U.S. was at first scary, confusing and a bit overwhelming. I will never enter a Super Target again :). It took some time to readjust. As part of my readjustment stateside, I decided to set two goals and make ‘em happen in 2015:

  • Find a women’s cycling team that I could race with and
  • Surround myself with strong women who would help me grow as a cyclist

Thus far, I have accomplished both as I recently joined Naked Women’ s Cycling to race cat 4. My first impressions have been so positive.  I know I am surrounded by some of Colorado’s toughest gals; they have all been so welcoming, supportive, encouraging and humble!

My goals for this first race season are to work hard for my team, learn and continue to help women’s cycling grow and flourish.

As I continue to adapt and adjust I am re-learning cycling language in English.  As I first picked up a road bike living in Ecuador and learned all about cycling in Spanish, I still require a second in my head to translate that ‘plato grande’ is actually the big gear and ‘piñon’ is the cog, and when I want to yell ‘libre’ I need to actually say ‘clear’.  Crossing borders and crossing finish lines have taught me that you can adapt, overcome and achieve.

And yes, I have found my juice!

Adversity Wins

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Kim snags the top step in the CSU Oval Criterium! Read more on how riding a little less may have helped her ride to victory!

This Sunday I drove up to Fort Collins to race the CSU Oval Criterium. Although I had the opportunity to race twice in Arizona for the early season VOS and TBC races, this would be my first Colorado Race. As I was driving up, I made the decision that I wanted to start it off well, with exciting and aggressive racing, risk taking, trusting my training, and mental fortitude. I told Marcus, “I think I can win this race!” This goal was immediately threatened by a bit of unexpected traffic due to multiple accidents, adding a solid 30 minutes to what is typically an hour drive. I had even planned what I thought would plenty of margin for the drive. I began to feel a bit frazzled, compulsively glancing at the clock, as one by one, the minutes remaining before my race start elapsed. I took a breath… this entire year has been a lesson in controlling the controllables, and breathing deep and finding calm in the many variables that are outside my grasp. For anyone who thinks bike racing has no relevance to “real life”, you are mistaken. Bike racing has taught me invaluable lessons about planning well but taking the inevitable surprises in stride, in a way that has served me well far beyond the race course.

We arrived at the CSU campus 45 minutes before my start time, and Marcus dropped me off as close as he could get to race registration before finding a parking spot. Thankfully I’ve now developed quite a streamlined routine, so although 45 minutes from car to start line is far from ideal, it’s not impossible. Registration completed, bibs/jersey/shoes/helmet/sunglasses on and beet juice drinken (why Marcus, equally fluent in the pre-race checklist, pumped my tires and put chain lube on), and I still had 15 minutes to spin around before the start. I returned to my previously set goal, before the traffic and rushed preparation and premature adrenaline rush. Despite all those, I wanted to win this race, and there was no reason why I shouldn’t. One of my biggest challenges in racing has been learning to take risks and push beyond my comfort zone. Trusting that the training I’ve done is enough, and my legs can handle the load.  So I decided that today, there would be no giving up. I would allow my body to get to a new level. Far too many people are held back by the fear of what they may not do that they never find out what they can do. I resolved that I would rather fail because I’d exceeded my limit then finish having not even attempted to reach it.

From the first lap I raced aggressively, driving pace, attacking, chasing, counter-attacking. I was in a glorious place of mental clarity, purpose and determination. I timed my moves well, and trusted my training. As the race went on, the field was slowly whittled down, with several riders losing contact with the group, and several more just hanging on the tail end. With five laps to go I was still feeling strong, and began to put myself in position for the finish. I marked two of the other riders, who I judged as among the strongest, and patiently waited, as the familiar cat and mouse interactions unfolded. With one lap to go, one rider went, attacking hard off the front, but my marked riders didn’t jump, and neither did I. We kept the pace steady, and I made sure to stay near the front. In too many races, I’ve been forced to let off the throttle in my finish as I tried to move around riders who’d run out of gas before the line, and I wanted to finish this race knowing that I had given it all. We were closing the gap between the lone rider ahead, and caught her with less than 500 meters before the finish. I began my sprint earlier than I typically do, before the final bend of the oval that the course is named for, and didn’t look back.

In this moment of temporary pain, as I kept my eyes just beyond the finish line, I took my first win of not only this season, but of the last two. My entire being felt a rush of something I can only describe as gratitude, pride, resolution, and acceptance all rolled into one soul-warming experience. It was almost as if in this win, some of the broken pieces were coming back together. This year has been the most challenging one I’ve had in quite a while. A broken neck, sub-par race results, personal and professional challenges and changes, and set-back after set-back left me wondering if everything I was doing was in vain. Despite my best attempts, some of these circumstances and additional time commitments impacted my training, and my volume was slightly lower than it has been in previous years. I questioned whether I would have built enough base or be in form by race season, but I knew I could only do my best, which I had. After the race I jokingly said to my husband, “I guess not riding as much this year served me well!” He gently smiled, and replied, “I think adversity serves you well.” Although the circumstances of this year are far from what I have chosen, I have done my best to take them in stride and become a stronger person. I have been learning that measuring effort solely by outcome will sooner or later leave you feeling uncertain and discouraged. Hard work, integrity, and endurance in the face of trial is never in vain. It may take longer to see why or how, but it will come. This past Sunday I got a small taste of that delicious fruit that comes from never giving up.

Heidi Crosses The Bridge

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Bodies of water and bridges are no match for this fearless Naked lady. Read how Heidi squashes those fears on two wheels.

So I have a huge fear of water. I mean, HUGE. Some call it irrational, I say it’s erring on the side of safety after a very scary incident when I was 6 or 7 years old. I won’t go in water over five feet deep, boats are not something I see as enjoyable, I will not put my face in water (my swim technique is fantastic, let me tell you), I won’t go in open bodies of water (everything besides a bathtub and pool are out, in other words), and later as an adult I hate driving over bridges over water. Aside from making sure I’ll never be a triathlete, I’ve gotten by quite alright in life without the deep watery stuff.

What does all this really have to do with anything, except making all y’all think I might be crazy? Well, in December 2011 an ex-boyfriend and I road tripped through Seattle. No one warned me that I-90 crossed Lake Washington via a “floating bridge.” Yes, a bridge over a mile long that sits on the surface of the water. I mean, the water is right there. I’m pretty sure I cried the entire way across, and my ex mentioned that people ride bicycles across the bridge. “Are they freakin’ crazy?! Who the heck would do that?” I exclaimed – I wasn’t a cyclist yet and that just seemed so absurd on so many levels.

Fast forward to March 2015. I’m a full blown cycling nut, that boyfriend is long gone, and wouldn’t you know, work was sending me to Seattle for eight days. Since I couldn’t possibly be without a bike for that period of time, I rounded up a rental road bike and set about planning out some rides. Of course, one of the better rides I could access from my downtown starting point would be going across the I-90 floating bridge to Mercer Island. Gulp. “Fine, I’ll ride across that damn bridge!” I exclaimed to myself.

Luckily the day I chose was sunny and not very windy. I made my way through Chinatown rush hour traffic successfully (an adventure in its own right) and found myself on the I-90 bike path. Soon the bridge was in sight, and half of me wanted to turn around. After stopping to catch my breath, I hesitantly pointed my front tire down the bridge and pushed off. As I descended down to the water level I felt tears welling up in my eyes, but I calmed my breathing and had such an intense focus on the ground 10 feet in front of the bike that I wouldn’t even move my eyes to check my Garmin. I’d take a couple of pedal strokes, and coast, couple of pedal strokes, and coast. The nearly calm cross wind felt like a hurricane. Then suddenly I realized I was ok, and it was just time to pedal pedal pedal all the way across. Before I knew it I was on Mercer Island and on solid ground. Woohoo, I made it!

The return trip was a bit more frightening to me as I would have to be on the closest side to the water. When a bike path is only nine feet wide to begin with, I just wasn’t comfortable. So I decided I was British and rode on the left side, only barely moving over when other cyclists approached. It probably didn’t help that the bike shop I rented the bike from scared me with the thoughts of hooking the handlebars in the simple metal rail that separates the bikes from the water. Once again intense concentration got me across to solid ground on the Seattle side. Two for two! I will admit to a happy dance at the observation point above the bridge and gushed to a random guy with a bike about how I rode over that silly scary floating bridge!

Bicycles have a funny way of pushing us to do stuff we never would’ve considered otherwise… I’ve only been riding shy of three years, and yet I’ve done so many things I never would’ve even thought of doing otherwise. Most people don’t think twice about going over bridges over water, but I’m still in awe I willed myself across one on a bicycle when usually I panic in a car. Might seem simple or silly to most, but I love the fact that a simple two wheel contraption powered by merely my legs has taken me to so many places and on so many adventures, and has helped me conquer some fears along the way!

Getting to the Start Line

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Nicole Jorgenson is a new racer but has no problem jumping right into the race scene.  She knows that getting to the starting line is half the battle.  

The most important thing I’ve learned thus far in my introduction to racing is that getting to the start line is half the race. It requires a good deal of preparation – the right gear, adequate food, ample hydration, allocating enough time for registration and number pinning, warming up – and it also requires ignoring all of those apprehensions about not being in good enough shape, not having eaten the right prerace food, not knowing the course, etc. In the end, you just have to show up to the start line and trust that getting there was half of it. You might not have done all your pre-race prep in perfect methodology and routine, but now all you can do is ride your hardest.

All of this may sound trivial to experienced racers who have their pre-race routine down to a science, but as a new racer I’m still trying to figure it all out. I showed up to my first race of the season – the Oredigger Classic Crit – with the attitude that I just needed to jump into my first race to get the season rolling. As it turned out, almost everything that could have gone wrong in my prerace preparations went wrong. I misread the start time causing myself to have to forfeit everything I had planned on doing before the race. Once I realized the start of my race was less than ten minutes away, I hadn’t pinned my number, used the restroom, eaten, or even warmed up.  Not to mention, I wasn’t mentally prepared. I made a split second decision to race anyway, because what did I have to lose? I lined up with the rest of the ladies, made an attempt to compose myself despite feeling quite disheveled, and waited for the start whistle. About 20 seconds into the race, I dropped my chain on the first lap, and it was over. Aside from the embarrassing nature of the situation, I was pretty bummed I had messed up that badly in my first race of the season.

Somehow I was able to let that race go and adopt the attitude that I could just use it to learn how to better prepare for my next race. This past weekend at the CSU Oval Crit I triple checked my start time and left myself plenty of time to complete all my prerace activities. I still wasn’t in the best shape of my life and probably didn’t eat the exact foods or consume the exact liquids my body needed. But all I can do is keep getting myself to that start line and continue refining my prerace routine.  I was pretty happy to have gotten 4th for Cat 4 women after the previous disastrous weekend!