Monday, December 13, 2010

A Wild Ride.

Whew. Okay so I know I have slacked off a ton this fall with my posting but I have been racing, I promise. Grad school is awesome but all consuming; blame Statistics for my lack of timely posts.

This fall has been riddled with highs and lows in my racing. I had one incredible day in Ohio, two disappointing days in Ohio, some fantastic racing in Georgia and North Carolina and  some challenging days at the USGP in Louisville. The short version of everything: I spent half the season battling a sinus infection that I did not know I had and another couple of weeks dealing with the aftermath of the flood caused by a broken pipe the weekend of Ohio. My Cross season was a roller coaster of ups and downs.

Even on the bad days I found some good things. At the USGP in Louisville I was on antibiotics (finally) from the sinus infection and was not at 100%. My goal was to work on bike handling and my starts. I had fantastic starts all weekend. I was top 5 going onto the dirt both days. I faded after that, but the initial effort was there. I learned how to push through the bad days and have fun just racing my bike.

In North Carolina I was healthy and ready to race. I had a great weekend. It was a UCI weekend and I rode as well as I ever have with 7th and 6th place finishes. WooHoo!!! I was finally starting to find my legs... hopefully this was going to be my year at Nationals. I finished the Georgia series strong, I remain undefeated in the Southeast. I sure do love the GA Cross scene. What an incredible group of women. And my teammates are also hooked. Look for more of the team in GA next fall.

This past week was Nationals in Bend, OR. Against my better judgement we loaded up a ridiculous amount gear and got on an airplane in hopes of glory; or at least a lot of fun. It is exam week so I had to do a little bit of sweet talking to make sure it was okay for me to be gone. I was registered for 3 races (plus a TT for start position in the Masters race); collegiate, masters and elite. As a full time student, I was eligible to race the collegiate race and I wanted to support my school and the cycling team by representing at nationals.

The TT was my first event and I rocked it. I took second and I was psyched. Unfortunately I rocked it a little bit too well and my legs had nothing the next day for the actual masters race. I had a horrible day. Grrr. Okay now I am just angry. After a day of recovery I was going to rip off some legs in the collegiate race. I wanted to come home with a medal so badly I could taste it.

The collegiate race and the elite race were the same day so we had some interesting logistics to contend with. The morning was a balancing act of eating, warming up, racing, cleaning up, eating, more warming up and racing again. We would be lucky if we pulled it off. I could have never done it without Mark's help. Thanks babe!!! My warm-up began before the sun came up (my first race was at 8am) and I was sleepy but excited. I was definitely the "old lady" of the collegiate ranks. I did not know a single person I was racing against so I was just going to have to take it as it came. UTC is  Division 2 for cycling; both D1 and D2 were racing at the same time with a 1 minute gap between us. They sent off the D1 ladies and I was focused. It was show time. They blew the whistle and I was immediately at the front with three other girls. Okay, I am going to settle in and see where I stack up against them. After the fist minute or so I knew I was "on". My body felt good and everything was rolling perfect. I LOVE that feeling. I passed the front girls and never looked back. I floated over the mud and flew around the course. I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air. I had just won a national championship!!!!!!

The rest of the day was a blur. Somehow I cleaned up, ate and made it to awards before it was time to race the elite race. The elite race was my victory lap. I enjoyed every second of being out there and even though my legs were done I pushed hard and did okay. I know I could have raced a lot better had I not already raced that morning but I no longer cared where I finished. I just wanted to enjoy the race and the cheers. The fans were incredible. I still finished in the top half, almost top third (47th out of 111 starters) with tired legs and a tired (extremely MUDDY) bike. I collapsed that evening and didn't even get to celebrate. I was too exhausted.

We are now on the journey home. My season has been the most incredible one ever.

I raced for the US National Team at a World Cup.

I won a gold medal and a national championship jersey.

What a wild ride it has been.

Thanks for reading....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Georgia Cross

Have I mentioned that I love Georgia Cyclocross?? They have a rockin' series and some of the coolest people around to race with. Unfortunately the series conflicts with some of the UCI races so I only get to do about half of the series, but I do love the races I get to do.

The first race of the GA series that I was going to attend was a combination of two of my favorite things; cross and wine! It was being held at a winery (during their fall tasting) and we raced through the vineyard. Fun times.

The course was not ideal but the racing was fun. It was a little too "mountain-bike-like" for me and my cross bike but it was still fun. It is always fun. I won the race and Amanda took 4th. Catherine made her cross debut and was looking to win the Category 4 Women's race handily until she lost a pedal. Oh well, next time. That's what happens when we let her work on her own bike. Mike, we need you!!!

Next up: USGP Louisville...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cross Season starts with a bang

Whew. I know, I have been delinquent again in my posting. I make no excuses, I am just really REALLY busy. School is great, I love it, but all my extra time is going to it instead of things like blogging. I apologize to all of you. I'll try to get things caught up here and stay a little more up to date.

As usual I decided to do things the hard way. After the WC I needed a break, my body was tired and I wanted to focus on school for a bit. We postponed my cross racing and early season training because of this so my season is going to be shifted a bit. I will hopefully be strong later (like around Nationals and State Championships) but the first few are going to be trial by fire. I knew it was going to hurt but WOW...

So my first race of the season was the Wisconsin USGP. Yes, I decided to start things off at the biggest race series in the US with some of the best riders in the world. It went about as well as one would expect it to. I suffered, tripped,crashed and fumbled my way through 2 days of racing. In the process I remembered how to race my bike. I had a blast. I still love cross.

The following weekend, taking my re-found ability to Alabama, I had a much better experience. I rode really well, won the women's 1,2,3 race and passed most of the men. Star rocked it with a second place finish in her very first race in the "big girl" field. It was a great day for the Grace Law-Trek p/b Vantaggio team.

This past weekend we were off to more UCI races. This time 3 days of racing in Ohio. The purse was big and the fields were HUGE. My initial goal was top 10 but after seeing our start list a top 15 would still be a huge accomplishment for my early season legs. Day 1 was one of the best races I have ever had. The course was technical and hilly, my two favorite things. I started really strong (top 5 on the dirt) and held my own. I took 7th!!!!! Holy crap. I am not even in race shape yet and I just raced WITH the best in the US. Saturday I got stuck behind a crash at the start and chased back to 14th; not what I had hoped for but I rode strong and some days that is all you can ask for. Sunday was not my day. My body very quickly informed me that two days of racing was enough. I pushed myself as hard as I could but 17th was all I could manage. Star rocked it all weekend in the 3/4 women's field and was 5th, 8th and 9th in fields of 50-60 girls. Mark was our one podium with a second place on Saturday.

After Ohio I am very optimistic about my cross season. I am still not in race shape but I have already shown glimpses of being strong. Even on my bad days I am finishing in the top half of the field at the UCI weekends. I feel like a bike racer. All of these are good signs.

Thanks for reading...

Monday, September 6, 2010

World Cup Finals

All smiles after the race!!

Well, I did it. I raced for the US Natinal team at the World Cup Finals. It was everything I could have imagined and more. I felt like a rock star all weekend. But I guess I should start at the beginning...
Anina after the big race.

This week was one of the biggest in my life. Tuesday I started graduate school; I am pursuing a masters degree in sport psychology. It is part of my plan to continue to expand my professional career working with athletes. I am extemely excited. Wednesday Mark and I got in the car and drove to Windham, NY where I was racing the World Cup Finals and part of the US National Team. This was a "once in my lifetime" type experience. Wow, talk about a busy, exciting and stressful week!!
Kym and Anina showing off the Swiftwick socks before the big race.

We arrived in Windham (after much studying of stastics) to perfect weather. It had rained a lot earlier in the week but we were treated to a weekend of sunny skies and 70 degree temperatures. The trails were a bit slippery but not too muddy. Perfect! Just tthe way I like it.

Catherine is all nerves before her race.

Anina and Catherine were also racing in NY, Anina with me in the WC Finals and Catherine in the amature race. Anina's rockin' performance at the South Africa National Championships earned her a start position for the World Cup so I had a friendly face in the field. It was also nice to have a teammate to pre-ride with.

Catherine showing off her medal.

Saturday morning it was showtime. I was so excited!! I was lining up against the best in the world. Because I had no World Cup ranking and very few UCI points I was lining up at the back. Actually as far back as I could get. I was called up LAST. Okay, nowhere to go but up, right!!?? Anina was in the row in front of me and she had a great start. I was not quite so lucky. We got to the first single track section and suddenly there were 70 women all looking for the same peice of trail. When you are at the back of that group you might as well sit down and have a sandwich while you wait to try and get onto the trail. Although it was frustrating running, pushing, fighting and clawing my way back into the race, it was a thrill too! I learned that next time I will be much more agressive early on. You lose so much time early in the race in those type of situations, minimizing that is key. After the start, a few elbows and mishaps early on, and a strong pace I finished 57th. Higher than where I started and I gave it my all. I rode strong and technically well; it was not as fast as I was earlier in the season, but I only had 2.5 weeks to prepare for the race; I am pleased with my performance with what I had to work with. Anina rode strong and fast, she finished 56th. Sunday morning Catherine lined up against a strong field of Cat 1 women and tore it up. She rode strong and finished 2nd. It was the perfect end to the perfect race weekend.

Catherine takes second!!!

I cannot describe the awesomeness of the weekend and what it is like to wear the national team kit at a World Cup race in your own country. The fans were incredible. I have never been more happy about my chosen path in life. All the years of cold rides, miserable races and suffering were worth that one moment. I want to do it again!!!

This season has been the best of my cycling career. I have accomplished more than I ever thought I could. I would never have been able to do it without the love and support of my husband, my family and my friends. And of course all the incredible sponsors we have!!! A huge thanks to everyone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

...and then my Mojo returned.

When one races bikes a lot (almost every weekend) there are times when you are fast and times when you just have to take a break. Mid-summer has been my break in anticipation for cross this fall. With the slightly unexpected trip to the World Cup next week we have had to accelerate my come back to race fitness. I am hoping to continually get faster until Cross Nationals in December, but I have also been hoping for my race Mojo to return to me before Windham.

Yesterday was the last tune-up race/workout before the journey to Windham. Last week was a tough week of training and I was tired but the legs were feeling strong. Booker T State Park is a local trail and the race was going to mostly be my teammates and myself. The goal was to beat the boys. And to race it in under 2:15.

The race was a pavement start and we rolled out easy up the first half mile climb. Once we hit dirt, it was time to rock and roll. I took the lead and pushed hard. Uh oh. My legs felt flat and didn't want to go hard. Okay, let's see if I can work into this a bit. I held a good hard pace and slowly kept ramping it up. I felt better and better with each hill. By 2/3 of the way through lap one I was feeling really strong. By the end of lap one I was catching the back of the men's race. I kept railing it. I felt better every lap. By the finish I had caught all but two of the guys. My lap times were consistent and other than my first lap, they were the same as the front of the men's field. And my finish time was 2:13!!! My Mojo has returned, just in time. I needed that. I am REALLY excited for Windham.

My teammates rocked it too. Amanda rode a strong second place and Star was only about a minute back from her for third. Amy took fourth in spite of her slightly crazy weekend plans. She raced the Fool's Gold 50 on Saturday. 50 miles of MUD and rain. She was 4th there too. Girl, you are an animal!!!

And now the journey begins. Stay tuned for travel and race updates...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Memphis. Hot.

So instead of my mountain bike season being over after the SERC finals, I have the little matter of the World Cup Finals with the US National team to get ready for. That means a few more weeks of racing. We have had a horribly hot summer and I am looking forward to cyclocross but I am also super excited for Windham so I am prepared to suffer through a few more hot weekends on the mountain bike. This past weekend we had a choice of going to GA for their series finals or going to Memphis and doing a TN series race. I am winning the TN series (sort of a bonus from doing well at the TN SERC races, I wasn't planning on doing the TBRA series) so we decided to head to Memphis. One more weekend and I will no longer be able to be caught.

Memphis is an island. A hot island. One that you can't get to from Chattanooga. It is a 5-6 hour drive (closer to 6 when there are traffic jams). We got up really early Saturday and loaded up. There was a time trial Saturday so we figured as long as we were making the trip we'd do the whole weekend. We arrived in Memphis to 100 degrees and humid. The heat index was 114. Yep that's hot. The pre-ride was fun, it is a great trail and the promoter was out there marking the course and helping us find our way around. Everyone was really nice and helpful. We rode the 10 mile cross country loop and then went out for a lap on the time trial course (a portion of the cross country). We got a good hour and a half of trail riding before the start of the TT.

The TT was hot but bearable. The whole trail (including the TT) is a very twisty, flat trail. It is the kind of trail that screams home course advantage. I can only imagine how much faster I could have ridden the TT had I known what turns were coming up next. Even still, I turned a respectable time, beat a good portion of the boys and won the day. Okay, I lost the day too, as I was the only one but I did alright against the guys so that was my personal measure of things.

Saturday night we were lucky enough to be invited to stay with Kelsey's parents. She is already back in KY at school but Sue and Roger were so sweet to invite us to stay. We found out after we arrived that it was their anniversary. They cooked us an amazing dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Sunday morning we awoke and it was already really hot. 83 degrees at 8am. This is not good. The race was 3 laps starting at 10:40am so it was going to be a long hot day. There were two Cat 1 women who showed up to race so although I was given my own category, I had ladies to start with. And the men started 4 minutes ahead of me so that was a goal too. On a flat fast course it was going to take me a lap or two to make up that much time but  I was up for the challenge. Lap one went well. I rode strong and although it was hot, I didn't feel bad. I started catching men at the end of the lap. Lap two things started to get ugly. It was really hot and it started to feel like my body had a dimmer switch and someone was dimming things. The cool water at the mid-lap aid station woke me up for about 10 minutes but I then started to fade again. By the time I caught Mark at the end of the lap I was in bad shape. We had some communication issues over me passing him (I was trying to tell him to slow down and not worry about me, he was trying speed up and get out of the way) and he ended up crashing. Sorry babe. I stopped in the feed zone to grab my frozen bottle and shoved a handful of ice down my sports bra (I got cheers for that!!!) and headed out to lap three. It was a death march. I was hot, had stopped sweating, and felt like throwing up. Then the chills came. Uh oh. I was pretty sure i was rapidly approaching heat exhaustion and the only option was to slow down and keep pedaling while trying to not get any hotter. I stopped at the mid race aid station and filled my bottle with cold water, dumped some more on my head and continued on my way. I was actually getting worried the last 20 minutes that I wasn't going to make it. Somehow I did. They grabbed me at the finish and soaked me under a hose. I drank 6 bottles of water and after about an hour I started to feel like me again. It was officially 101 degrees in Memphis with a heat index of 118. I have found my limit.

I won the race. I beat some of the guys. I found my limits in the heat.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Stanky Creek Cycling and Larry in Memphis. You guys put on a class act event. Everything from the course to the food to the support to the prizes were awesome. Thanks!!! I will spread the word and hopefully be back next year with some teammates. But only if it isn't quite so hot...

Next up is Booker T here is Chattanooga, then on to Windham!!!!

SERC Finals, Fontana, NC

Pro Women: Kym and Anina 1,2 on the SERC series overall podium.

It has been a long season. We started the SERC series in March down in Florida and we've been going non-stop since then. Whew. I have loved every minute of it. I love my team and I love racing my bike. That being said, I am ready for the series to be over. It is time to look to fall for Cross season and some other fun things. Mostly just to fall for some cooler weather but that is another story. I am not complaining about the heat but 100 degrees is hot. Enough said.

Fontana is always a great weekend. There is NOTHING there except for the village/resort and some trails so we are isolated with a whole bunch of other cyclists for the weekend. We took full advantage this year. Mark and I went up a day early and enjoyed some relaxation time. Complete with massages and lots of pool time. And maybe a beverage or two. Fontana was my "victory lap weekend" for the series. I just needed to finish the race in order to win the Pro Women's field for the series so I was going to enjoy the weekend and celebrate all of my hard work. And I was going to do it with all of my teammates!!!

Saturday morning was a pre-ride of the trails that were in great shape. It is rare that Fontana is dry but somehow we lucked out. It was not too hot and not too wet. Just right!!! The course was hard (it always is) but it is one of my favorites. I was excited about it. After the pre-ride we spent the afternoon at the pool (in the shade) and waited for the evening events...
A hard earned top step for Anina. Short track podium.

Short track: Anina was our lone star. She did not disappoint. She lined up with the non-pro men's field and held her own fabulously for the first three laps. And then it happened. She violently re-visited dinner. In front of a huge crowd at the bleachers. She got a ton of applause and even more when she got back on the bike and finished the race. AWESOME.

Sunday was sunny and boarding on hot. We raced at 11:30am so there was no escaping the heat. The race at the front was going to be a battle between Anina, Myself and my friend Carey. Carey is an endurance racer but she's fast at everything. And to make it worse, she was racing on her single speed. I knew that we'd drop her early if we started hard but she NEVER slows down. She has caught me a time or two late in a race. Anina took the lead and it was painfully clear to me immediately that my rest mid-season, although much needed, was still being felt. My legs are getting faster again but I need a couple more weeks before the top end is back. I dug deep and hung on up the hill and once we got to the fast rolling sections I knew that two things needed to happen. One, I needed to push the pace. This part of the course was my strength. Two, we needed to put a big gap into Carey if we wanted to ultimately finish 1,2 today. I passed Anina and for the next 20 minutes I buried myself and she hung on. And then I was done. Cooked. Finished. I told her to go and I settled into a pace that I hoped would hold Carey off through 2 more laps. It worked!!! Anina took the win and I was second. It felt really good to be able to work for my teammate and she ROCKED today. And second place to Anina is nothing to be ashamed of.
Final race podium. Anina 1st Kym second. Love those Swiftwick compression socks!!!

Amanda's weekend was a victory lap for her as well. She has ridden extremely well this season and had the Cat 1 women's overall sewn up. Catherine had the hardest day of all of us. She went into the finals with one point separating her and our friend Jen for the series Cat 1 podium. Whoever finished first between the two of them was going to take second and the other would be third. They battled the whole race and with Jen in sight on the climb to the finish Catherine gave it everything she had. It wasn't quite enough. They finished 2 seconds apart. Wow. Catherine still should be so proud of her season. In her first year racing as a Cat 1 she finished on the series podium and was contesting the front of the races. Amy, Emily, Star and Amanda all rode well and finished in the field. Fun times were had by all. The team finished the series with 6 of the top 10 positions and 4 of the top 5. I think we can officially call 2010 a huge success.

Final SERC podium for the Cat 1 Field. Amanda 1st, Catherine 3rd.

Thanks to Gone Riding for an awesome series and to every one of our sponsors for their support. we couldn't have done it without all of you. And a special thanks to my husband. You put up with a lot.

Thanks for reading....

World Cup Finals!!!

I found out this past week that I will be racing the World Cup Finals as a member of the US National Team. WoooHooo!!!! I am so excited. There are only three ways that one can race a World Cup race: ride for a UCI trade team (nope), Have 20 or more UCI points (nope, not enough UCI races in the US that I could get to for that to be possible), or ride for your country's national team. Of the three, my only option this year was to somehow race as part of the national team. It became an early season goal and I raced well and kept my finger's crossed. I petitioned for a spot on the team and waited. And waited. I was notified last week and I am fired up!!!! Look out Windham, here I come.

Look for lots of pictures and updates soon. The race is in two weeks!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The hard way.

I have always been one to do things the hard way. That might be why I love cycling so much, it is a challenge. Yesterday was a perfect example of me doing things the hard way. Although I will point out that a lot of yesterdays "challenges" were not my doing, just mine to deal with.

I have decided to chase the TBRA (TN Bike Racing Association) mountain bike series. I hadn't planned on it but after looking at the series standings, I currently have the lead. If I do a few more races I should be able to win the jersey. They are fun courses and places that I haven't gotten to race in a few years. And it will be good training. The fields are usually fairly small so I can use the races to experiment with both bike and body to dial in some things before cross season starts.

Star and I got up at the butt crack of dawn (5am) yesterday to drive to Oak Ridge TN for a series race. I've ridden the trails at Haw Ridge Park before but it's been a few years. Racing without a pre-ride is not ideal but it was just a training race anyway so I was not too concerned. The boss man (Coach Mark) had given me strict instructions to ride the race as a tempo ride, no harder. Okay, that is easier said than done but I was determined to do it. We arrived at Haw Ridge at 7:45am for a 9am start. Hmmm, where is the race director?? Don't you think that MAYBE registration would be set up an hour and 15 minutes before the start. Nope. However, that was not the most disturbing part of the day. We arrived in need of a restroom only to be told that there wasn't one. Really!!!??? Okay, it is race morning, there are things that need to happen. I love Mother Nature but there are just some times that I do not want to know her so well. That is all I am going to say about that. We eventually were told that there was a city port-o-let about a half mile from registration (after we had already visited the woods). One. A half mile away. Wow. This does not bode well for the rest of the day....

After the restroom "incident" we waited in line for registration for a while (during what is normally my warm-up time) and as soon as they had everyone registered they were ready to start us. It is a good thing I am just riding tempo today.... No warm up, no pre-ride, okay GO. Ha!!! We headed off and I took the lead at a (mostly) tempo pace. I slowly rode away from the rest of the field, all the while trying not to get lost. The trail was marked as well as I expected after experiencing the rest of the morning's events. Had I been going race pace I would have blown past a number of the turns. Near the end of the first of two laps I came to a steep rocky descent and there was a volunteer yelling something at me. I slowed to try and hear his urgent message. I promptly crashed and tore up my knee. Apparently he was telling me to be careful; if I had been paying attention to the trail instead of him I'd have been fine. I jumped back on the bike, yelled at myself for being a dumbass and kept going. About a half mile later I started to feel the back end of my bike slide around. Oh NO!!!! Flat tire. I continued to roll on through the feed zone/start finish area. A bit farther down I stopped and messed with the tire until I got it (mostly) holding air. Amanda, who was riding strongly in second place passed me as I was messing with it. Crap. I hate mechanicals. I was happy to see her doing well though. I eventually got rolling again (Thanks Troy) and the chase began (at tempo of course...). I caught Amanda and slowly distanced myself from her again. The remainder of lap two was cautious and definitely tempo. I was riding gingerly to keep upright and aired up. I rode flawlessly down the area where I crashed on lap one. I took the win, albeit not one of my better performances. Amanda rode strong for second, Star was 5th and Emily was 6th. Both Emily and Star got lost and ended up riding a longer race than us. They were not the only ones. About 1 in 3 of the riders I talked to had a similar story.

We waited 2.5 hours for results and awards.

Star and I laughed about our adventure all the way home.

Thanks for reading...

Redemption.

After last weekend's drama at Raccoon we were all looking for a little redemption. We had a "divide and conquer" plan of attack for the weekend. We had riders going to 3 events in two countries. Anina was in South Africa and ready to go. The rest of us were divided between a Tennessee race in the Nashville area (Lock 4) and a Georgia race at Fort Mountain. We all had high hopes for the weekend.

No one disappointed.

We had 9 podium appearances in 2 days. Anina lead the way with a SECOND PLACE at the South Africa Nationals. Congrats girl, we are SO proud of you.

Georgia saw Amanda in 2nd and Catherine in 4th. Lock 4 had a time trial on Saturday with me winning, Emily 3rd and Kelsey 2nd in her race. On Sunday we went 1st (me), 2nd (Shannon), 4th (Emily) and 2nd Kelsey.

Whew. We've still got it. Redemption is good.

Home Turf Advantage??

One of our biggest team weekends of the year was the SERC race here in Chattanooga. The Trek Store of Chattanooga was the round sponsor and it is our home trail. We were excited. After my rest and recovery after the June craziness I was once again ready to ease back into racing, albeit a bit slower than where I left off. I knew it was going to probably take the body a few weeks to get back to "race shape" after the time off, but I figured that with my knowledge of the trail I would be okay.

We had the whole team sans Anina and Amy signed up to race. Anina is on her way to South Africa to race her National Championships. We wish her the best and hope she brings us home a jersey. Amy was in Ohio with family obligations. They were both missed.

Saturday started with the Trek demo trailer and fun times talking about how awesome our bikes are to the local riders. I am sure our passion translated into some new bikes for people. It's easy to be passionate about the bikes you are riding when you are on the best bikes in the world.

Our pre-ride was a ton of fun. We had an AWESOME presence with 6 of us out there riding together. We definitey turned heads. We laughed and enjoyed having all of us in one location. Dinner that night was at Star's house, we did a pot luck of sorts with everyone bringing their favorite pre-race meal. Yummy!!!

Sunday was hot, as has been the case the past few weeks. We started out on the pavement and Shannon went to the front to be my "lead out man"... she was fabulous. She launched me into the single track in the lead and I never looked back. I wasn't "race fast" but I rode strong and consistent. It was enough to take the win in a large women's field. My teammates did not fare as well, although it was not for lack of trying. Amanda was riding strong and kicking butt in second place until the trail decided to kick her butt. She crashed hard and ended up walking out in search of bandages and possibly stitches. Fortunately she was ok and no stitches were needed. Catherine rode most of the race in 3rd place until her still frozen camel back didn't thaw and she got totally dehydrated. She lost tow spots in the last 30 minutes for 5th place. Still a strong finish but not what she was hoping for. Star's brakes got stuck on for the whole race and she cramped. Kelsey fell and re-injured her bad hand. Emily just had an off day.

It was a tough ride for us and one of the hardest days we've had as a team all season. In spite of it all we had a lot of fun, rode our bikes and took home the win. Even our bad days are ok. And I would rather have a bad day with my teammates than any other ladies on this planet. You girls are the BEST!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LOVE the socks!!!!

I just have to give a shout out to our awesome sock sponsor Swiftwick. We got a new order of socks this week and I can't wait to show them off. The Compression socks are a life saver, the Merino Wool socks are the sock of choice for my cyclocross season and the Olefin socks keep my feet dry and cool on the hot humid days of summer. Swiftwick has a sock for every season and every race (even my silly tall socks for cross!!!!)

Do your feet a favor, get some today.

Thanks to Swiftwick (and a shout out to Sam for helping us out). We never forget that our sponsors allow us to do what we do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The June Whirlwind

I can't believe it is July already. The mountain bike season is drawing to a close and I am looking forward to cross. And yes, it is still hot here.

After Dauset I had my favorite week of the year; camp. Mark and I run a development camp for USA Cycling, it is open to kids ages 14-22. Keeping up with a bunch of teenagers is exhausting but so much fun. The enthusiasm that these kids have for cycling is incredibly motivating. It reminds me of when I started riding and makes me remember why I love to ride. With that being said, do they ever sleep!!?? Camp is a lot of work. The week was a blur and I felt like I had been run over by a truck by the time it was over. I can't wait for next year.

After camp we had two days to re-group, re-pack and hit the road for Wisconsin for the Pro XCT series race. I was really excited to see my family, even if the timing of the race was not ideal. The race course was so much fun and even though I was a bit tired from camp and traveling, I was still hoping for a top 10. Well, to make a long story short, my bike had other plans. I learned a lesson about my own ability to work on my bike. Mechanics are indispensable. I wish mine would travel with me at all times. It was a frustrating race that saw me finish in a dismal placing. But I finished. I did not quit, which would have been the easy thing to do. I do not quit races.

After the crash and burn result of Wisconsin I needed some time both physically and mentally to recover from my long crazy month. It was time to take a step back and focus on my late season goals and CROSS. Yes, I am getting excited for cyclocross season to start and I am getting ready. Now that I have had a break it is time to finish the SERC series, ((hopefully) race the World Cup in Windham and then look forward to fall and my cross bike.

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot

So yes, I have been slacking. Not in general, just in my posting on the blog. Life has been a whirlwind since Texas. We had BUMP and then barely enough time to recover before more racing, camp and more travel and racing. Whew. I have almost forgotten what my house looks like.

With that being said, I'll pick up with the reports where I left off. Dauset:

Jackson, GA and the Dauset trails are always a lot of fun and always seem to be HOT. Amanda, Emily and I decided to head to GA to see if we could battle the heat before Emily and I went to the USA Cycling Development camp; me as the lead coach, Emily as a camper. Mark and I run the camp every year and although it is one of my favorite weeks of the year, it is exhausting and takes me a few weeks to recover. I have not yet learned that going directly to camp from a race does not help my exhaustion level. The heat also does not help the situation. But I digress....

We arrived in GA and it was HOT. I realize that I keep mentioning the heat but it was miserable. 95 degrees and really humid. I don't ever complain about the heat, but if I did, I would have complained this weekend. Our pre-ride was awful. Afterwards I tried to cool off by swimming in the pond/beach at the park. It was as hot as bathwater and did nothing to cool me down. UGH.

Dauset was also the individual time trial for the series. I determined that I did not need the points toward the series overall so I decided to opt out and cheer for my teammates instead. They rocked it. Catherine won and Amanda was third. We were off to another great weekend.

Kym and Amanda on the podium
photo courtesy of Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com

Sunday morning was hot when we woke up and just kept getting hotter. The race director decided for safety reasons to shorten the laps. He took out a technical slow 2 mile section of the lap, making it an 8 mile loop instead of a 10 mile loop. Any other day I might have been bummed but today we were happy. I didn't hear anyone complain about the short race. I decided that I wanted it to be over quickly and I went for it. I took the hole shot and drilled it. I never looked back. Amanda rode hard to second place and Catherine was a strong 4th. WoooHooo!!!!! The heat got Emily but she still pushed hard and finished 8th. Sometimes the hard days tell more about you than the good days. Great job Emily!! She never quit.

After the awards, We hit the road FAST to get home, do laundry, re-pack, and head to camp. We were exhausted by the time we arrived. Camp was going to be a long week.

More soon, thanks for reading...

Monday, June 14, 2010

BUMP and Grind

I'm tired. Extremely tired. I need a break. But wow, the last two weeks were worth it.

After Texas I had less than a week to get ready BUMP and Grind in Birmingham, AL. It is arguably the biggest race we have in the southeast and the fields are always big and strong. In the past few years it has been coupled with an Xterra race the following weekend so there are world class athletes from multiple areas of the sport in the mix. This year would prove to be more of the same. Our start list on Sunday included Shonny Vanladingham, Luna  Team rider and former national mountain bike champion, and Melanie McQuade, multiple time Xterra world champion. These ladies were going to be tough. Anina and I had our work cut out for us. The other categories also had big fields and everyone was going to have to be on their "A game" this weekend.

I went into the weekend feeling wrecked. The racing and travel to Texas was still lingering and a busy week of work had not allowed me to recover. It was going to be tough. We did a short pre-ride and I had a great time hanging with the team Saturday night. The Emily quote of the weekend was: "I tell my left from my right because the left hand is the one that doesn't work as good."  I love that girl!!! We all spent a lot of time laughing and it was a good, relaxing pre-race evening.

Sunday was an early start. Mark and I headed over early to get the team tent set up. We had a key location right on the course near the start finish. It rained Saturday evening so my warm-up was spent doing some recon on the course to see how it held up. The trail was a little slick but good, my legs were not so good. Ugh.

We lined up and I was as ready as I was going to be. They said go and I immediately knew that it was going to be a struggle. I managed to hit a cone that was covering an obstacle in the first section of sidewalk at the start. Rookie. Who does that!!?? Me. I chased back on and then had a horrible time getting into the woods. I got behind a rider who kept sliding out on the roots and the top three riders were gaping me. Damn. Anina was one of the three and I was psyched to see how strong she was riding today. At least someone from our team would have a good showing. I got around the slower rider and began my chase. I could see Shonny, Melanie and Anina about 10 seconds ahead of me but I could NOT get there. Stay steady Kym, it's a long race. We hit the fire road climb and I was still catching glimpses of the race in front of me. My body was screaming... it did not want to ride. This was the worst I have felt during a race in a long time. I continued to push and hoped for the best. After the climb and the long fire road I knew that Shonny was long gone but I was focused on trying to catch Anina and Melanie. My body was finally starting to cooperate a little. I still didn't feel great but I was feeling good enough to push a little bit faster. Shortly after that I passed Anina on the side of the trail with a flat. OH NO!!! I continued to push and suddenly I saw Melanie ahead of me. I was catching her. I passed her and realized that I was now in second place. Okay, I was having a crap day on the bike and still somehow managing to ride myself into second place at BUMP. I guess my fitness was going to carry me through even when my body didn't want to go. I pushed hard and suffered badly for the next hour and rolled in for second place. I was extremely happy with where I finished and that I suffered through but I am very disappointed in how I rode. I know that I am way stronger than what I did today. It is now time for some much needed recovery. I don't want to repeat this again.

Anina is one tough chick. She fixed her flat, flatted again fixed it again and eventually rolled in for 6th place. I hate that she had such bad luck today. In all honesty, I don't think I would have caught her. She was on fire. Unfortunately, sometimes that is racing. Some days it's your turn, some days it is someone else's. I am extremely proud that she didn't quit and that she's my teammate.

Kelsey came home with the only win for the team this weekend. She finished all smiles and didn't crash or end up in the hospital. This is a HUGE improvement. We are glad your hand has healed. We've missed you!!

Emily took second in the Junior Expert Women's category. Great ride today girl, you looked good.

Amanda, Catherine and Shannon all lined up in  the Expert Women's field against some tough ladies. There was a mix up at the finish line as the ladies were supposed to head out for lap two and Amanda and a few others were told to stop when they were supposed to keep going. The mix up was eventually realized but Amanda lost a spot in the process to finish 3rd. Catherine took a wrong turn (we won't point out that is the second time this year...) and her and Shannon both finished mid field, 8th and 10th. It was good to have Shannon back out racing. She's working on her PhD and has been studying like a mad woman and not getting to ride as much as she'd like. We've missed you Shannon!!!

All in all it was a fabulous weekend. 5 podium spots and great times with the team. After some reflection I am still not happy with my performance but I am happy that I have good enough fitness to ride fairly strong even on the bad days. I am glad that I went to Texas, even though it meant a not so stellar ride in Birmingham. In the big picture, Texas will help get me to my goal and although this weekend was not ideal, it still turned out okay in the end.

Now I need a nap.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, June 4, 2010

I messed with Texas!

I have had a ton of people asking about the trip to Texas. Thanks for all the good luck wishes and support.

So, here's the report:

Texas ROCKED!!!! I rode well and surprised even myself at how I stacked up. It was hot, technical and really an all around tough course. I did my thing and came out 8th against some of the best riders in the world. I couldn't have done it without my family, friends, sponsors and especially my husband. Thanks to all of you. My goal this season is to have good enough results to be able to race the World Cup Finals in Windham, NY. Ultimately, it will be up to USA Cycling to decide if I can go, but I think that I am on the right path currently.

The trip began with a LONG drive to Texas. Mark drove, I navigated and we arrived almost when we planned with very little drama. We stayed with our awesome friends Jason and Jill. It is always so nice to be able to stay at a house with friends instead of a hotel. And it was so fun to see them again.

We arrived in Austin at rush hour and after battling traffic, made it to Rancho Juan Pelota, Lance Armstrong's ranch, for our pre-ride. I am not a huge Lance fan (not that I am an anti-Lance person, he's done a ton for cycling, I just don't really get "star struck"), but it was cool to be racing there. I aired up the tires as I usually do and headed out to ride. FLAT. In the first 20 minutes of my ride. I walked to the car and changed out my tire and headed out again; this time with more air in my tires. The course was rocky and technical, I decided that bouncing with more air than I usually run was better than flatting. What a fun ride!!! Friday was another day of pre-riding and relaxing. I rode fairly well both days and felt ready to race. Other than the heat, it was a really good course for me.

Saturday was HOT. It has been so rainy in the Southeast that I was not ready for the heat yet. 95 and sunny was going to be miserable. Oh well, hopefully I could stay hydrated and do okay. All the "big girls" were here so it was going to be tough regardless of the weather. I was called up in the second row and when they said go we started FAST. My goal was to be strong and stay near the front and not blow up. I knew I was a good bike handler and that my ability to stay smooth and fast on the bike was going to be key. Well the bike handling thing worked well for about half a lap but as I got tired and hot I started riding a bit like a beginner. Things that I rode easily in the pre-ride were now forcing me to fall all over. That was my key to back it down a notch and settle into a pace that I could sustain. As I came through the feed zone the first time I had no clue where I was positioned and was hoping Mark would tell me. He was jumping all over and yelling that I was in 9th!!! Holy crap. I was having an incredible ride. I pushed as hard as I could for the rest of the race. It was so hot that I was forced to take some recovery in the shaded sections. I rode smart, listened to my body (a little bit anyway; had I listened too much it was screaming "stop this!!!"), and finished strong, passing one other rider in the process. My whole last lap I kept thinking "Don't mess up, and DON'T FLAT". I rolled in with 8th place, the first non-trade-team rider to finish. I made money and got UCI points. WoooHoooo!!!! Mark met me at the finish line with ice water and a cold wet towel, both of which nearly put my overheated body into shock. Wow.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. Mark raced Sunday in not-as-hot conditions and took 10th. He did awesome and I am so proud of him. He did have an unfortunate run in with a cactus that required me to remove cactus thorns from his ass but I guess that's all in a days work. Monday we rode some killer fun trails in Austin with Jason (instead of driving home) and left late Monday towards home. Tuesday was another LONG day in the car. We arrived home at about 11pm.

I am still exhausted from the trip and my legs have been sore all week. This weekend is BUMP and Grind in Birmingham, one of my favorite races. We should have big fields and strong racing. I am looking forward to it, even if I am tired. Texas was worth it.

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TBRA racing... a tune up in the mud before the journey west.

Mark and I are headed to Texas next week for the Pro XCT series race in hopes of getting a few UCI points for me and some results racing with the "big girls". I haven't really lined up against anyone except the people I am really used to racing in the Southeast yet this year and I have no idea where I stack up at the national level. My big goal this summer is to get to race the UCI World Cup Final in Windham, NY. In order to do that I need UCI points and some good results at big races. Texas is to be the first step in that journey.

Before we headed to Texas we needed one more hard effort to get the body (and mind) ready to suffer. It was a weekend off from the SERC races so we decided to head to central TN for a TBRA race. It was going to be a sunny hot weekend so we figured we were finally in luck with the weather.

WRONG.

So apparently it rained (poured actually) the two days before we got there and the course was muddy and slick. It also had about 1100 feet of climbing per 7 mile lap. I felt like I was in the damn mountains!!! It was STEEP and slippery and one of the hardest courses I have raced in a long time. Talk about being caught off guard!!! To top it off, I didn't get to pre-ride (work) so all I had to go on was Star's description from her pre-ride.We were lucky that Star also made the journey up there with her husband Bryan; we all had a great time camping the night before the race and Bryan handed up bottles while we raced.

Race morning we were a bit apprehensive about ANOTHER muddy race. This was supposed to be a tune up for Texas, not a "destroy my bike three days before I leave". Oh well, I didn't drive here to talk about racing... let's do this and hope for the best.Wow, it was long, hot and really hard. I haven't used my little chainring that much in a LONG time. I won fairly convincingly. In fact, my time beat all but 4 of the Cat 1 men. I would have won Mark's category and the one below his. Now I feel ready for Texas.

Star was AWESOME today. Not only did she overcome her hesitation about the muddy course, she rocked it!!! She took a strong 3rd place, barely behind second after over 3 hours of racing. I am so proud of her. this was only her 3rd or 4th Cat 1 race and she made the podium!!!! GO STAR.

The people at Mousetail Landing State Park did a fabulous job. Thanks guys, we'll be back.

Look out Texas, here I come...

SERC #6 Tanasi

All smiles after the racing was done.

Wow, what a fun whirlwind of a weekend!!! Almost the whole team was here (Shannon we missed you!!!), the weather held out, and we raced at one of my FAVORITE trails. Tanasi is just over an hour from my house and it is a "local" trail to me. I love riding there and I have been so excited (and a little bit nervous) about this race. It was definitely on my list of races I wanted to do well at this season. Not that I don't always want to do well, but there are definitely some races that are more of a focus.

I was thrilled that we were not only all going to get together, but that we were going to do it in NEW CLOTHING!!!!! I love the new stuff. And I really love that we are now able to properly promote all the sponsors that are supporting us this season.
Kym and Anina are 1,2 again!!!

We started the weekend on Friday with some car drama. Now I know NOTHING about keeping my truck running except that I ask Mark to fix it when something goes wrong. All 221,000 miles of my Xterra are doing great, it's an awesome team vehicle and it has seen more of this country than most people have. Thursday it stopped running. In my driveway. Okay, we'll use the car and some of my teammates cars and deal with it next week when we have time, right??? Nope. Mot Mark. Let's just see if we can get it running and put more gas in it just to be sure.... So, now instead of having a dead truck in my driveway, we have a dead truck parked down the street. This is after it died on Highway 153 and we had to coast/tow it into the neighborhood using the Scion XA as a tow vehicle. Yes, we got the redneck award of the week in our neighborhood. At least I can laugh at myself... a little drama is still better than a car payment.

Anina arrived shortly after the car drama was over and we had a nice relaxing dinner and then her and I went shopping for the feast I was cooking for the team the next night. She was very helpful and even offered to make us a yummy and very pretty dessert.

Saturday was the team pre-ride and we looked HOT in our new stuff. The course was in great shape. We beat the afternoon storms (barely) and all had a good time. We got out of there just in time, the skies opened up and we got HAILED on as we drove home. Good timing.

Saturday night was dinner like no other. We all converged at my house and started cooking. I made wild rice with cranberries, Emily and Catherine assembled salad, Star did the veggies and Anina made us a really yummy, (mostly except for the chocolate) healthy, and PRETTY dessert. After a short team meeting it was off to bed. The course was a drive in the morning and we had to be there early.

Amanda takes 3rd after an exciting sprint finish.

We awoke WAY too early and headed to Tanasi. From the roads appearance it had rained up there all night. Hmmmm, things were not going to be super fast. They might even be a little slick. Fun. I warmed up on the first part of the climb and my suspicions were confirmed, the trail was slippery. There was one section near the start that was all roots and was going to be a determining factor. We lined up a strong field, including my former teammate Paula. I love Paula and it was great to see her but her presence definitely meant that the bar was raised one more level.

We had a nuetral start and when the moto pulled off, I waited for Paula to take the lead. I think she was waiting for me to do the same. We rolled side by side to the trail head with Anina close on our wheel. As we approached the singletrack climb I decided that as long as no one was killing it, I was going to take the hole shot and set the pace. I jumped, got the lead and spun up at a reasonable pace. I cleared the slippery roots that I had practiced in my warm up and kept rolling. I looked back a minute later and the field was gone. Everyone was gone. I had the lead. Sweet. I just kept rolling and tried to remain smooth. I know this trail and I really wanted the win today. I helped build these trails, I ride them all the time, this one was MINE. My bike and body cooperated well. I rode strong and consistent and never saw anyone again. I won by over 7 minutes. I also took the fastest lap prize. WoooHooo!!!!

We LOVE the new kits.

Apparently Anina broke her saddle in the first 100 meters of the race and rode the whole thing with a broken saddle. She caught and passed Paula to take an impressive second place. Amanda had a 3 way sprint for the Cat 1 finish. Unfortunately she had to brake-check to keep from impaling a small child. Still a great race for her. The rest of the girls rode strong and finished well with the exception of Emily who flatted. Bummer. Better luck next time girl. All in all, a great weekend for the team.

Thanks for reading...

Monday, May 10, 2010

...and then the monsoons came. SERC #5

Mother Nature is out to get us. That is all I can think of. She taunts us with beautiful week days and then unleashes all her fury in time for the weekend. It's getting old. My poor Trek Top Fuel WSD 9.8 (which is world's most awesome bike!!!) has been put to the test. She needs more lovin' after this weekend. My bike has performed flawlessly these past few muddy races, but even the best bikes needs a bunch of maintenance and replacement parts after the things we keep putting them through. Fortunately we've got the best mechanics, Mike, Taylor and Zach, at the Trek Store of Chattanooga to keep us rolling. Thanks guys!!!

For anyone who has had any contact with the outside world this past weekend you know that parts of Tennessee got more than a foot of rain in less than 24 hours. Nashville, Memphis and everywhere in between are flooded. Our thoughts are with all the people that are dealing with the floods.

We were in Huntsville, AL this past weekend to race SERC #5 at Monte Sano State Park. We were on the edge of the horrendous weather and spent most of the weekend battling 30+ mph winds and hoping the rain and hail would hold off. All in all we lucked out. It was not what I would describe as a "pleasant" weekend to be outside but it could have been so much worse. We very easily could have had to race canoes instead of bicycles.

Monte Sano is one of the best race courses I have raced in a long time. Not that I don't love all the trails we race, but this was a RACE course. It was fast, technical, had some climbs and even a bit of pavement. It was well designed and had a little of everything. It was a true test of skill and fitness. I loved it!! Anina, Emily, Mark and I got there early Saturday in an attempt to beat the rain for a pre-ride. I was immediately hooked. I hadn't ridden at Monte Sano in years and it was even more fun than I remembered. Catherine and Amanda rode it a little later in the day.

Saturday night was so much FUN. We got to have a birthday celebration for Anina. Her birthday was Friday so we of course had to have cake and ice cream. It was so awesome to see the look of suprise on her face when we came in with the cake. Girl, I hope you had a great birthday!!!

Sunday we awoke to the news of floods in Nashville and Memphis and the weather was headed towards us. It was going to be interesting. We arrived at the race and it was really windy (still about 30mph steady with gusts stronger than that); we determined that in the spirit of safetly and equipment preservation we were not going to set up our team tent and banners. I apologize to all of our sponsors but I think the stuff would have ended up in central Georgia before the race was over.

The women's field was given the choice of two or three laps for the race. Two laps was going to be short, but with the weather being what it was, we opted for short and sweet. The field was smaller than we were used to, only about 10 of us. People apparently stayed home when they saw the weather report. They said "go" and it was the same game that had played out the last few races. Anina and I were off the front. I really enjoy having a teammate that pushes me. We are both better riders because the other one is there. She really pushed me at the start of this race. We actually ended up drag racing down one section of trail before the technical singletrack. I completely threw an elbow at one point (totally did NOT mean to... I am really sorry) and she threw one right back!!! It was funny, we had a good laugh after the race over it.

FYI: I will drag race anyone down the trail but I am not one to ever BLOCK another rider from passing, especially a teammate. If we are ever in a position where any of my teammates (or any rider) has better legs than I do I will gladly let them pass. That is just good sportsmanship and I try my best at all times to practice it. That was not the case with our little drag race. We both had good legs and wanted that trail.

We hit the trail and were passing the guys that started ahead of us fairly quickly. We hit a rocky descent and Anina was suddenly gone. I found out later that she had crashed. Damn. Fortunately both her and bike were okay and she was rolling again quickly. There was $100 for the fastest lap of the day so I was rolling pretty hard for that first lap. Lap two was a bit more on auto-pilot. I settled into a comfortable pace and really enjoyed the trail. My poor bike was telling me it is time for a tune up, I dropped my chain a couple of times and had to stop and fix it. I guess all the abuse is starting to take it's toll. Even so, my bike was fabulous on the rocky trail. It rode like a dream. I was so glad I had the incredible suspension that my Top Fuel WSD offers. I used every bit of it today.  I rolled in for the win and Anina was only about a minute and a half behind me. It was good timing because the rain was just starting. We quickly changed and packed up the car as we waited for the others to finish. Emily rode in to a 5th place finish. Her best ride this year. GREAT JOB!!! Catherine tackled her demons and took a respectable 8th. Amanda had some flat tire issues and was forced to abandon the race.

The podium was WET. The storms we had been hearing about all weekend arrived with a vengence. It was UGLY. The biggest bonus to being on the top step of the podium wasn't the win or the money; it was the fact that I didn't get poured on as long and 2nd and 3rd did!!! I think we might have gotten a picture or two but I am not sure. I will post them soon if we did. It was so wet no one's cameras wanted to work.

The drive home was awful and the lightening and thunder made me even more thankful for the timing of our finish.

This week is "bike rebuild week". More adventures to come soon...

Monday, April 26, 2010

SERC #4 Fort Yargo

Showing off our HOT rain boots after the race.

Mother Nature has not been kind to us this season. She's been great for training but seems to unleash her fury on race weekend. I have done some really bad things to my poor bike this year and it is only April. Fortunately, we've got the BEST mechanics on the planet to keep us rolling. Mike and the rest of the guys at the Trek Store of Chattanooga are amazing. Thanks guys.

Yep, you guessed it, more rain this weekend. Sunday was supposed to be warm and sunny, but Saturday was forecasted to have severe thunderstorms, multiple inches of rain and possible tornadoes. All of which were going to result in less than "ideal" trail conditions. We loaded up early Saturday to beat the worst of it and hoped for the best.
Team tent and bikes after the race.

Mark and I met Anina at Fort Yargo State Park about noon on Saturday and although it had rained already that morning, it wasn't raining when we got there and it looked like we might have a window to get out before the really bad storms rolled in. We quickly got dressed and hit the trails. Amazingly, they weren't too bad. There was standing water, and a few sections were slick, but the sandy soil drained really well. We MIGHT just luck out!! Of course, no sooner had we finished discussing our fortune when the skies opened up and the lightening and thunder started. Okaaayyyy, time to cut the pre-ride short and head to the car. FAST. So much for our pre-ride. We got about 3.5 of the 10.5 mile course in. Hopefully the trail would continue to weather the conditions and drain.
Not too muddy considering the 2+ inches of rain that fell the night before.

Catherine lives in Athens, GA which is only 20 miles from Fort Yargo. We were staying with her for the weekend so we headed to her house to clean up and get dry. Catherine was absent from the pre-ride because she was racing a crit. It was Athens Twilight weekend so there was much bike racing going on in the area. Catherine dominated her race with a win but I'll let her tell the details. Check out her blog for more....

After cleaning up, cleaning and drying the bikes and eating some lunch we decided that we wanted to head downtown to see some of the racing action. Twilight is an incredible weekend of crit racing in the streets of Athens. The best in the US come to race and in the rain it was sure to be exciting. The last couple of years it has been a little bit difficult to watch after having raced Twilight in the past but this year the rain made me glad to be a spectator. I don't do skinny tires and wet roads at high speed. We did do the girl thing and stop at Target to get rain boots before heading to the race. If nothing else, we were cute!!!!
This is my favorite picture from the weekend. Anina doing a happy dance in front of the port-o-potty??!! I think maybe it was just an unfortunate background. LOVE THOSE BOOTS!!!!

The one downfall to Twilight combined with a race weekend is that we inevitably get too little sleep, stand on our feet too much and are just generally tired by Sunday morning. This year was no exception.  I was hoping to find my mojo somewhere on the trail because I certainly did NOT wake up with it. It doesn't help that we were the early start wave and had to be headed to the race by 7:15am. Ugh.
Catherine's third place Expert (5th overall). Congrats!!!

I was really off my game for the morning and could not seem to fully wake up. I didn't get enough of a warm-up and I felt very ill prepared, having not ridden the entire course during the pre-ride. Oh well, ready or not, it was race time. They said go and I took the hole shot hoping that things would improve. I felt slow and uncoordinated for the first 25-30 minutes. I definitely did not have my mojo. I could not seem to get the bike under me. Anina and I rode together and were off the front of the field so I was obviously not that slow, but it was not the riding that I am capable of. At around the 30 minute mark I started to feel a bit better and tried to push my body a bit. It seemed to work. Unfortunately, about the time I found my mojo Anina lost hers. She was riding so strong at the start of the race, I kind of figured it was going to be her day. I found myself in the lead solo and I pushed as hard as I could. That lasted for about 45 minutes. After that I went on auto pilot; I enjoyed the trail and gave up trying to push race pace. I rode in for the win at a nice tempo pace and decided that even though it was not one of my better physical performances, I really had FUN. The trail was a little wet and slippery with the occasional puddle, but it got drier every lap and was a roller coaster of fun. We really REALLY lucked out; so many places would have been horrible the day after the monsoons that we had Saturday. Anina rode in for a very strong second place. She never did find her mojo again but even without it she was fast.  Catherine topped off her weekend with a 5th place finish. For someone who is in her first season racing with the big girls she rocked it. Especially after her crit win the day before. Great job ladies!!!!
Friends and teammates enjoying the pro podium....

We wore our AWESOME rain boots from the night before on the podium and they were a huge hit. I think they will have to be worn every race weekend. Anina's pink polka dot ones were definitely the favorites.

I also need to give a huge shout out to Amy for her EPIC race saturday at the Big Frog 65. Two flat tires, thunderstorms and freezing cold and she still finished 11th. Girl we are proud of you and cannot wait to read your race report.
Pro women's podium. Love the boots!!!!

We missed the rest of our teammates this weekend. Next weekend is the SERC in Huntsville, AL and I think we'll have most of the team there. It will be an adventure I am sure.

Thanks for reading....

Cherohala

So a few weeks ago I did this awesome ride with Emily and I never posted the report. Sorry for the delay but here's the scoop on one kick butt day of training:

After the epic race at Chickasaw we had a weekend off before the next race. It was a perfect time to put in a huge training block. The sun was shining, it was finally warm outside and I had some time to ride. Perfect.

One of my favorite places to ride is the Cherohala Skyway. It is a 48 mile scenic road that goes over the mountains. It starts in Tellico Plains TN (900ft), climbs to 5300ft and then descends to Robbinsville, NC (1200ft). We usually climb to the top and then come back down again, although I have done it end to end and back once. That was a brutal ride. Friday we decided the weather was nice enough to go to the mountains and we headed to Tellico Plains for the first ride of the season. Mark's buddy Howell was coming down from Knoxville and Emily was catching a ride down with him. Our friend Steve rounded out the happy little group I had assembled to torture for the day.

We rolled out about 11am and headed up the river. The road that runs along the Tellico River is one of the prettiest rides anywhere ever. We enjoyed a nice easy warm up along the river and then cut up to the Cherohala. The road was busier that we are used to, due to the holiday traffic and closures on other, more heavily used roads, but it was still a great ride. We  all climbed at our own pace and after I got to the top I went back down for the others. Emily was only about 3 miles behind me after climbing for an hour and a half. Wow. Her training is really starting to pay off. Her and I spun to the top and then enjoyed some "girl time"while we waited for the guys to get there. It was odd, there was still snow on top but even up there it was 70+ degrees.

After we re-grouped we enjoyed a 25 mile descent and rolled back to the car tired and happy. It ended up being almost 5 hours of riding. We all enjoyed a sandwich at my favorite deli and then Emily and I took a dip in the icy cold but very refreshing river.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tsali

Kym and Anina all smiles after a 1,2 finish.

This past weekend was the "Knobschorcher" at Tsali recreation area, just outside Bryson city, NC. Knobschorcher is one of the longest running races in the Southeast and always turns out a huge crowd. It is part of the SERC series, the US Cup, and the Souther Classic series. The weather was beautiful and the trails were in the best shape we have ever seen there. It was going to be HUGE. We had a cabin rented for the team and most of the girls were going to be there. Fun times; I could hardly wait.

There are two races in the Southeast that are "the monkey on my back". Races that for whatever reason I struggle with. One of them is Bump N Grind in Birmingham and the other is Tsali. For whatever reason I have had a string of bad luck, bad legs and bad attitude for Knobschorcher. I won it a few years ago but other than that one glimmer of hope, I always seem to have a lackluster performance. Last year my legs were strong but my head was not in the right place. This year I really wanted to maintain my winning streak and have a solid ride. I knew we were going to see a huge field of ladies show up, people we don't normally get to race against, so there was a lot of the unknown added to the mix. I was even a little nervous which is funny; I don't get nervous before races very often. I've been doing this long enough to know that there is always another race. Once race day rolls around, you can only do what you can do. But I digress... back to my race report.

Amanda on the Expert Women's podium.

Currently one cannot get to North Carolina from Tennessee. There are rock slides on THREE different highways, making the journey long and slow. We are hoping that things get opened up again soon. Because of this, Mark and I decided to leave on Friday and do a road ride on the way there. We had to take the scenic route anyways, we might as well enjoy it. We stopped in one of my favorite areas to road ride, Tellico Plains, and did a 2 hour ride along the Tellico River. What a gorgeous ride. We finally got to the cabin at about 7pm, ate dinner and went to sleep dreaming of a weekend of beautiful riding.

Saturday we set up our kick butt team area with the help of Anina and John (thanks a ton guys!!!). We have two big team tents this year, all kinds of sponsor banners, a bike stand, work area and even an air compressor. We definitely have support!!! It is also AWESOME that the Trek Store of Chattanooga is a sponsor for the SERC series so we get a rock star team set up area at every race. It helps us promote the team and our sponsors. After a short wait, Star arrived and we were ready to go ride. I was also so excited to see an old teammate and friend Diana that I haven't gotten to see in years. She's always a strong racer and super fun to ride with. We completed our little pre-ride crew with our friend and sponsor Scott Wagner who was down from Indiana for some racing and riding. Scott, it is always so fun to see you!!!

Anina showing off her Swiftwick Tshirt and Kym showing off her Trek Store Chattaonooga Tshirt on the podium. We LOVE our sponsors and thank them for their support!!!

The race course was long; one long loop and one partial loop for a total race of 29 miles. Yikes. I don't normally pre-ride for almost 2 hours but we wanted to do one loop. My legs were going to feel that on Sunday. Hopefully everyone else was in the same boat.

Dinner was INCREDIBLE. A huge thanks to Anina's husband John for cooking some extremely yummy grub. We ate like kings (queens) and had a ton of fun hanging out. Sometimes I think my favorite part of race weekend is the time I get to spend with my teammates; the racing is like the icing on the cake!!!

Sunday morning it was time to race. Yikes. I was a bit nervous. Where were the nerves coming from?? It's ME, I don't get worked up about races. This one apparently I do. My warm-up was okay, I was glad to have Anina to ride with, my legs felt like poo and her positive thoughts helped. Thanks girl, I needed a dose of reality. We lined up a LOT of women; 24 I think. Wow, that's a good size field for a regional race. Anina and I took a spot in the center of the front row. We had decided that we did not want to hit the single track behind anyone so we were determined to be 1, 2 into the trail. After that we'd work together and whoever had the legs had the legs... They said "go" and it was a mad sprint up the hill to the singletrack. I was on the front and I knew Anina was on my wheel. We got onto the trail with a small gap and I settled into my pace. After the first few rollers it was her and I with no one in sight. SWEET. Our plan was working. Now to hold it for the next two hours.... I eventually lost Anina on one of the steep climbs (sorry girl, I thought you were still with me) and I was solo off the front. I WAS SOLO OFF THE FRONT OF KNOBSCHORCHER!!!! The race that I usually struggle at. And to top it off my legs were feeling okay but not "race fast". I just held it steady and did my thing, passing a huge portion of the men's field in the process. I do love that, I have to say. In looking at my time I would have been on the podium of all of the Expert men's categories. Yes, that feels really good. I won and Anina took a commanding second place. We had no one else close to us. Once again, we dominated the race. Amanda took a solid 5th place overall, 3rd Expert. She's riding so well this year, she'll be up with Anina and I before we know it. Emily, Catherine and Star all had very solid rides for mid-field finishes and gave us a great team showing.

I know I keep saying it and I am sure everyone is getting tired of hearing it but WOW, I have an awesome team. Not only are they all extremely talented, they are such fun, positive women to spend my weekends with. I am so proud of my entire team. YOU LADIES ROCK!!!!!

Thanks for reading...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mud, Mud and more Mud...

Well it took almost a month but my new bike is officially not "new" anymore. It has been broken in and it stepped up to the challenge. Yes, as you may have gathered by now, it was muddy this weekend. Actually, muddy doesn't even begin to describe the conditions that we were racing in, but more on that later...

The second round of the SERC series was this past weekend in Columbia, TN. It was also the first weekend that the whole team was going to be together this year racing. We were so excited. To make it even better, Shannon lives less than an hour from the race course so we were going to have a team slumber party at her house the night before the race. Mark worked really hard all week getting all the last minute details for the team tent/feed zone area set. We've got banners, car magnets, two tents, tables, tools and even an air compressor. We were SET UP. Eventually we'll even get our team clothing in and we'll match all the other promotional stuff...

Saturday the weather was beautiful. We couldn't have asked for a better day for a pre-ride. Sunny, dry and warm. Catherine, Kelsey, Anina, Amanda and I did a pre-ride together after we "helped" Mark set up the team area (He doesn't let us touch too much of it...). We had so much fun and we all really excited about the race the next day. We then loaded up and headed back to Shannon's for dinner and good times. What a great night!!! I love my teammates. We all laughed, drank a little wine (not too much, we did have to race the next day...) and just enjoyed hanging out. A HUGE thanks to Steve Grace for providing dinner for the team. Grace Law is an amazing sponsor. I hope that none of you ever need an attorney for an injury, but if you do, he's the guy. Also thanks to Mark for cleaning all the bikes. That is a huge job, even after a nice dry ride like Saturday's.

We knew going into the weekend that the weather was not going to hold for the whole weekend. We knew the rain was coming, we just didn't know how much was coming. Late Saturday night it hit. Think monsoon. It poured. By Suday morning it was clearing up but the damage to the trail had been done. It was going to be wet.

Kelsey raced first and we were all excited to watch her. She's our developmental ride and although she's a great road racer, she's only ever raced the mountain bike a few times and had never ridden in the mud. She started strong and came through after her first lap all smiles. Because of the mud, the course was slower than anticipated and we didn't get to see her finish before our start. After I was done racing I found out that she had taken third. This was made even more impressive by the fact that she crashed on her second lap and finished with (what was later determined to be) a broken hand. HOLY CRAP Kelsey!!! You get the tough girl award for the day. Probably for the season. We are so proud of you. And we are even more glad that you are okay.

After watching the first races of the day I was REALLY glad I had put the mud tires on the bike for the weekend. Everyone was covered. We lined up a big field of women and there was a sea of blue jerseys. I have to admit, it was fun being "that team". We had 8 ladies on the starting line. FUN.

They said "go" and it was immediately a sloppy mess. We started across a water logged, muddy, nasty field and I didn't want any part of the spray that was coming off of everyone's wheels. I did the thing that I always laugh at mountain bikers for: I got on the front and pulled like a mad fool to the singletrack. In the conditions it was somewhat of a necessity. By the time we got to the trail it was Anina and I. We had gapped the rest of the field. AWESOME. I had sort of blown up a bit but the slow muddy trail gave me some time to recover. Anina rode incredible. There were numerous times in that first 30 minutes that I thought she was going to ride right on past me and keep going. I am so proud that she's my teammate!!! Somewhere in the mud she slid out and I lost her. It was now me off the front of what was going to be a LONG muddy race. I tried to stay steady and keep the bike upright. There were plenty of sections that I could have ridden faster but I decided that taking chances was not the smart move today. Slow and steady was the key. Just. Keep. Bike. Working. Easier said than done. Near the end of my second lap my bike was so caked in mud that the chain suck started. I could no longer pedal in anything but my big chainring. I lost a huge chunk of time figuring out what gears still worked. I grabbed a bottle of water to clean the drivetrain off with in the feed zone. That helped for a while but ultimately I was stuck in some really hard gears for the end of the race. The whole last lap was damage control. Just keep the bike rolling forward. I came into the finishing area and it was a tight turn into an uphill finish line. My bike chain sucked and I WALKED across the finish line to victory. Whew. Almost 3 hours of mud. My bike will never be the same. Anina rode in a couple of minutes later. She took a commanding second place. That girl is getting faster by the day. She is so talented, I know one of these days really soon it is going to be me chasing her. And she'll deserve every minute of that win. Amanda rode in to a 4th place finish and Shannon was 5th. So, in horrid conditions we took 4 of the top 5 places. What a great day.

Also a huge congrats to Emily who took 8th at 17 years old and Catherine, Star and Amy who survived their first Pro/Expert category race. Ladies, you picked an EPIC one to start with. They get easier after this.

I am so proud of my team and the way we all raced this weekend. I am extremely lucky to have such fun and talented ladies to train and race with. This year is going to ROCK!!!!!

Thanks for reading...

Ps. I have a few pictures that I will post soon; once the camera is located.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Team Clothing

We are still waiting on our new clothing but I though I'd give everyone a sneak peak of what it is going to look like. We are REALLY excited.


Thanks to all of our sponsors; especially Grace Law, Trek and Vantaggio Fitness!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hell of the South

Any race named "Hell of the South" immediately gets my attention. As I put on my bad idea jeans I think, "this is my kind of course..." -Kym


Kym, Shannon and Kelsey on the starting line.

We made our 2010 forray into road racing this past weekend in Berlin, TN (no, I had never heard of it either), just south of Nashville and it was a blast. The Hell of the South was advertised as a Paris-Roubaix type road race with rough pavement and dirt roads. Those who train with me know that it sounded just like another day of riding with Kym. I was excited. Even better was the fact that Swiftwick, one of our sponsors, was a big sponsor to the event. Yep, we were going. We were not only excited to race our kick butt new Trek road bikes, we were also excited to meet Rachel and the rest of the Swiftwick gang.

Shannon, Kelsey and I headed to Berlin under cloudy skies with a forcast of 70 and sunny later in the day. Perfect. It was going to be an intersting day. They were only running 3 races, A, B, and C. The 1/2/3 women raced the B race with the Category 4 men but we had a $100 bonus for the first woman. Hmmm. I was not exactly thrilled to be thrown in with them. Nothing personal to the guys, but Cat 4's can be a bit sketchy and tend to have a bit more testosterone that I prefer to race with, especially in a sprint. There was no significant climbing on the course (my specialty) so I figured it was going to be a day of paying close attention and staying near the front of the pack. I was really excited that my friend Andrea from Memphis was racing too. She's always a tough competitor and has a way of owning me on the road in the same way I tend to own her on the dirt. I was hoping that her and I could hurt some boys together and then battle it out at the finish for the $100 women's bonus. I figured with two teammates to help, I had a pretty good chance.

After a COLD warm up (where was the sun that they promised us??), we were lined up and ready to go. I was at the front of the field and planned on staying there for the day. They said "go" and a rider put in a solo attack off the front. Everyone look as each other and decided we'd see him again soon enough. It was a full on battle to stay near the front. The roads were chip and seal, pot hole filled, narrow and gravely. Being a 125 pound girl in a field of big boys, it was a battle to hold my place. It was awesome. The first dirt section was 9 miles into the race and I knew that was where things were going to split up. We hit the dirt and the race was ON. Suddenly the cross racer/mountain biker in me took over and I took some hairy lines through the pack. I almost felt sorry for any true roadies that were on my wheel. We exited the gravel and I was at the front of the selection (and we had caught solo attack man...). I looked for teammates and didn't see any other women except Andrea. CRAP. Things were so sketchy in the gravel I hoped they were safe and still rolling. I found out after the race that Shannon got caught behind some slow boys and ended up in the first chase group. Apparently she worked those boys over. Kelsey (who is still waiting on her new Trek) dropped her chain and was chasing solo behind Shannon's group somewhere. I was on my own. Andrea then informed me that her ulnar nerve was giving her troubles and she was pulling out. CRAP. It was now me and about 25 boys. Yep, I am out numbered. I tried a couple of attacks (I did shell a few boys, hehe...) but I went nowhere and eventually resigned myself to the fact that I was sprinting with a group of big men. Not so good for me. As we turned to the 2 mile run in to the finish things got dicey. The testosterone came out in full force; there was a lot of bumping, close calls and yelling. I drifted to the back. It just wasn't worth it to try for the win; I already had the $100 women's purse and chances were good that this climber girl wasn't going to win a sprint against these boys anyway. As the guys blew up I picked my way through the field to a respectable 10th place finish. Shannon schooled the chase group and won the sprint and Kelsey rode solo for a lap and a half to be the third woman to finish. Great job ladies.

Grace Law- Trek p/b Vantaggio goes 1,2,3 in the women's field.

This event rocked. I can't express how much fun I had racing with my teammates and the Cat 4 guys (who were not nearly as scary as I was anticiapting...). Thanks to the boy who referred to me as "pretty lady" while we were racing; you made my day!! And a HUGE thanks to Swiftwick and all the other sponsors and individuals that made this race happen. The only request I have is MORE DIRT next year. But I think that is the mountain biker in me talking. And I definitely have my bad idea jeans on....