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....


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


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.