Weeping Willow - it's in the books. Got my feet wet with my first Cat 3/Novice (depending on the race series I suppose) race.
I pre-rode the course on Saturday (everything was nicely marked) and to my surprise the trails were AMAZING. I could not believe how dry they were with the constant rain/drizzle we've been having. There were some serious water crossing in the course though... but that is pretty much a constant there. So I rode the course and discovered a section I had never ridden before - providing a step uphill off a fire road, and then another dip (through a mud pit) and short up again. I think the pre-ride was especially key so I could better prepare for this section, and really turn it back up after these two short climbs. Got back to the car in good time and felt psyched. I hadn't pushed it - kept things at a good pace (it was the day before the ride) and felt I came out with a good time... so that stood to mean that in the race I might do well!!
hmmm... then comes the start time. Noon. I don't like that. Too much time to play with. For my first race I enjoyed getting up, grabbing my stuff, eating breakfast and out the door. Register, warm-up and go!! But with a noon time I got up, got my stuff together, had time to wash the bike, lube it up, eat some breakfast, pack some drinks and food for after, and then head out the door. Got up to Willowdale and registered as the big boys were heading out. 2 hours before I race...
What to do... made sure everything was good to go and I grabbed my camera and headed out to post up at the end of the lap to grab some photos of the front runners as they came by. Took photos for a bit and then headed back up to the car to get changed and get my warm up on. Started too early and I ended up finishing my warm up with too much time before the start for my liking... but then again, I didn't want to miss my start.
I haven't written any blog submissions lately, because honestly, I haven't been biking. The weather is horrible in New England right now (10 straight days of rain!) so I've been stuck inside with the dogs (who are equally unhappy with the current conditions outside). Therefore, other than the occasional trip downstairs to just sit on my bike and pout, I haven't been playing with my favorite toy.
So since I have no riding stories to share, I thought I would write a bit about what it's like to go to one of Michael's races.
The people are wonderful. There's definitely something about biking that sets people at ease and makes them extremely helpful and friendly. You can talk to virtually anyone you see (and my mother-in-law and I usually do!) and receive the biggest smile and sincerest words of encouragement. The people make the whole experience (even the hour where you are stuck not watching anything -- See "The Bad") fun and positive.
And on the subject of people, Michael's parents are also a huge part of "The Good" about races. Just like the first race a month ago, Michael headed up early to register and warm up while I came later accompanied by Michael's parents, Carmel and Charlie. I was super pumped that they had decided to make the trip up from Connecticut to both support Michael and keep me company, once again. The three of us make up Michael's unconditional fan base, so the love is strong and the conversations are fun.
Finally, the other good thing is being out in nature. I'm really looking forward to his next race in August when the weather will hopefully be more pleasant, but even a lot of overcast and temps wobbling around 50 degrees don't completely take away from the fresh air and beautiful trees.
Miserable all week long. Just a long, damp, cold, drizzly mash of days. And now my ass and legs hurt cause I hit the gym Sunday and did squats. Thought about riding on Tuesday (since the precipitation maintained at an annoying drizzle) to get the legs moving and check in on that seat height but my tiredness won out.
I figure today I will HAVE to get some sort of ride in as I don't want to really go into this weekend cold. Plus, might give me the opportunity to figure out what I'll be wearing for the race (in the case that it is still raining for the actual event on Sunday).
Speaking of what to wear...
On my ride up in the 'dale (Willow's neck of the woods) this past Saturday I got to sport the Dild's Grill edition Vaude. It did the job and took out 50 degree chill like a champ. Yet, as I was flying through the forest things got a bit steamy. 50s for me is usually fine, so I wasn't going to sport the jacket, but in the parking lot the wind was nipping and I thought why the hell not. In the end I was happy to drop it back off at the car before I spun out for the second half of my ride. Don't get me wrong, I have no complaints. It did it's job, felt great, fit like a glove, did not restrict movement in any way, held gear in the rear pocket without issue, and even had a nice "media" pocket on the right breast for the phone.
I plan on being up at Willowdale some point on Saturday for another attempt at a pre-ride... may hold off until the afternoon in hopes that it will be marked off by then... but it will give me a good sense of what is in store (conditions wise) for the race. Parents are likely coming up for this one, which may enable Annie to bring the dogs.
Sunday is my second race. And in preparation for it... it is going to rain all week, YES!
On Saturday I got up to Willowdale to attempt to ride the course. The course has not yet been marked for this year's race, but I found a gps track of the supposed course so I was going to Boy Scout my way around the course. Well, that didn't turn out so good but I put in some miles out there and will at least be a pro at half the course, in either direction. I felt good out there, and you know you did your job when stairs are no longer you friend when you get home.
I bumped the seat up a bit more before heading out and it felt good again... I want to make sure I get out and ride this week, even if it's just on the road, to make sure it's a good height. I have a feeling I want to take it back a smidgen, but no ill-effects or loss of power/mobility were felt out on the trail. I also have a slow leak after catching a thorn the other week riding along the Charles... figures doesn't it? I patched it on the ride, but I guess there were two punctures... it's still holding and didn't lose anything over the ride, so may just leave well enough alone.
Found out that this race (for Cat 3/Novice) will be 8 miles (according to the bikereg.com), not 10. The singletrack is pretty tight, so passing will be interesting... just means the start is more important I suppose. And I'll have to really push on any doubletrack to either pass or keep my place. Felt good on the trails, but I'm not excited at the prospect of a wet course. There is some off camber stuff covered with roots - add moisture and we are looking at a slick mess. Right now my class (Novice Vet I) only has 10 other riders in it... not sure if more will still register, or if they are waiting to register on site, but I had figured I'd be in a bigger field than I was for Winding Trails.
So Blogger goes down and posts are stolen... "they" say lost posts will return... and if that is the case my post from yesterday will magically re-appear and Media Friday should appear... on non-post Saturday/Sunday?? Stay tuned and follow the adventure right here!!
We'll posts videos or photos that will hopefully inspire trail shredding weekends.
Footage from last year's Weeping Willow(Willowdale). Check it out, local hero Thom P is in there. You can see him at the line-up waiting to go wearing the black 29er crew jersey.
Risking fear of sounding stalkerish - I believe I spotted Thom P riding at the Fells last year and excitedly told Annie all about it - at the time she had no idea what or who I was talking about, yet she entertained my excited retelling of the tale none-the-less.
Check in time: How have I been doing thus far in preparing for racing?
Well, the winter was what it was, so I didn't get nearly the amount of bike time as I had hoped prior to my first foray into racing. I did however manage to get back into the gym on a pretty regular basis... so that was good.
Since my first race I have not been to the gym. Boo that.
Since my first race I have been riding weather permitting on the regular. Yay to that!
This week, with the weather looking dreary, it's been tough... but I vowed at the beginning of the week to get my butt in the gym if the trails were not an option. Well, work got in the way of that. Not in the sense that I've had to put in mad overtime and thus not have time to get to the gym... But in the I'm emotionally destroyed and the idea of lifting anything heavy makes my heart cave in sense. So yeah. I love my job. I love working with kids. But sometimes it's too much to take emotionally.
(I'm a high school counselor by the way)
The other day I was thinking I would LOVE it if my biggest concern was that the wrong derailleur came in, or the part a customer wanted by today wasn't going to get here in time... Not that that would be ok in anyway because I'd go nuts not being able to get the customer what they wanted... but still. The bling on your bike isn't life or death...
Ah, well that eludes to the dream that Annie and I have of moving to Charlotte and opening up a bike-type store. I say "bike-type" because we were thinking of throwing a twist in there to find our own niche in The Web... plus I would absolutely love to jet out to Oregon or Colorado to learn to be a bike mechanic. Of course I'd find a way to work with kids, but bikes are cool - and they generally don't have an attitude or indulge in high school drama...
Not that I don't like the pterodactyl... because I do. I do miss the moon roof ( and the difference between a moon roof and a sun roof is.....) in the pathfinder, but generally I've enjoyed both monsters. I've enjoyed learning how to drive stick on the pterodactyl... gives me something to "throw around" while I sit in Boston traffic.
I just got new tires. Thought I could get away with three instead of four since I had replaced one a while ago due to a flat. And that of course was thanks to the pristine highways we have around here. Got a flat during rush hour traffic on the mass pike with JUST enough room to pull off - I felt side mirrors whizz by me as I looked at the flat. Of course it was on the drivers side so I absolutely did not feel safe crouched down changing a tire... but lucky thing is the highway safety patrol saved the day - and for just $20 switched out my tires GOOD DEAL!! So anyway... nope couldn't just do the three because the rating of my current tires are Passenger, and BF decided to forgo the Passenger rated tires and just do the Light Truck versions... so 4 new tires.
And we all know you don't get away with just what you intend to do with your car... they couldn't align my new tires because they discovered my lower ball joints on both front wheels were messed up.
- good news? parts are about $47 each
- bad news? why yes sir, of course there is bad news... labor will be about $901 (can't give me a break and make it $900 even??).
Needless to say the service wasn't done on the spot due to the length of the job... I think I'll start commuting via bicycle from Southie to Walpole.
So that vaguely counted as bike related (the mention of wheels and biking to work BARELY makes it).
I have every intention to go through my injury filled first experience being clipped in to my pedals, but I want to start by explaining something to the non-riders out there that I just learned.
Ok. So when you buy a bike you will get flat pedals (with nerdy reflectors) that are in almost every way similar to the pedals you had on your Huffy when you were ten. The only difference is that the flat pedals on your adult bike have metal teeth on each side that attack your ankles any chance they get (amirite?) -- other than that, we're talking samesies.
"Real" bikers or "Serious" bikers tend to replace those flat pedals with something like this, which allows you to clip your super-cute bike shoes onto your pedals for better performance.
Now, here's the part I want to clear up: Those pedals that allow you to "clip" your shoe onto them are actually called "clipless". I know. It boggles the mind. Actually there is a reason behind it, but it's boring, so I'm not going to explain it. I just wanted to avoid any future confusion.
Apologies go out for the jacked up site we had for a minute there. Unfortunately I removed Media Friday before discovering the real issue... but the site is back to normal (darnit facebook and your ugly formatting when cutting and pasting!).
Please enjoy the gorgeous weekend and say hi to your mother for me!
Married. (I know you were expecting me to say American cause of the whole bin Laden thing...)
I'd like to first say Happy Birthday to my beautiful wife.
(Yes, I'll admit this one time that your birthday is in fact today and not Cinco de Mayo)
My wonderful wife has always been super supportive of me. I won't ramble on and on through the list, but we certainly have to acknowledge her support throughout my adventures in mountain biking (since that is the theme with this bloggy here). So supportive that she finally realized the inherent awesomeness in the sport and decided to join in on the action. She's even talking about racing in the future shhhhhh. We'll all keep that a secret though because I want her jumping on the scene like a ninja!!!
There was a whole discussion over on singletracks.com about finding a girlfriend who rides. Some had the viewpoint that no way should you ride with your significant other. "You need time apart" some argued. Well, I'm apart from my wife when we work.... and what better way to spend time with someone (you love) than to participate in the amazingly fun activity of mountain biking??
Others argued that one would be annoyed/slowed down by the other. Hi - welcome to mountain biking. Remember when you sucked ass?? And you were at the back of the pack?? And others waited for you to get up the hill/get through the rock garden/etc.? We've all been there. So NO. It isn't annoying. Instead, (and believe what you want Annie) I love it.
It fills me with a sense of pride to see her out there giving it her all and kicking butt (again, no matter what she thinks about her skills at this point she is truly kicking it). Sure, I don't ride as fast/far with Annie... yet! Again, she's starting out. And that doesn't interfere with anything I'm doing. I can use our rides together as light days in between "destroying" myself out there solo.
So all in all... Happy Birthday Baby.
And to the rest of you, Happy Cinco de Mayo (tomorrow)!
I came on here to talk about my new shoes, but Michael beat me to it. Uncool.
So instead, I'll simply mention that my 5 minute "clip-in/clip-out" practice in the middle of my kitchen last night was a real eye-opener. Halfway through playing with my new shoes (if you'd like to see a pic of my new accessories then go ahead and visit my hijacking husband's last post), it dawned on me that I'm about to progress through a mountain biking "point of no return" that I may or may not be ready for.
Over the last few rides we have gone on (the Charlotte ride in particular) my feet have been sliding all over the pedals. Riding on the balls of my feet feels the best and provides the best performance, but within minutes my feet slide forward and I end up pedaling on my arches. The whole phenomenon has a ninja purity about it considering that I have no recollection when, or for how long, the arch riding has been going on.
Also, I have often felt the need to get more power by pulling up on my pedals as well as pushing down. I instinctively did this in Charlotte and ended up disconnecting completely from my right pedal thus slamming it into the back of my ankle. I'm fairly impressive when it comes to handling pain, but ankle slicing is completely beyond my discomfort threshold.
Therefore, I need to progress to the next level even if every time I think of riding clipped in I imagine myself coming to a complete stop, failing to clip-out and then just falling over like a domino.
To my husband: Please don't beat me to the punch when it comes to discussing shoes again. You know how I feel about shoes.
Saturday Annie and I went out to Wompatuck to get her out on her clipless pedals. Don't believe whatever she writes - she did awesome on the ride!! I won't go into any details whatsoever as I don't want to be beaten into submission like I was for the last post (you'll see...).
Sunday I struggled with where to ride... I wanted to head up to Ipswich to ride at Willowdale (the site of my next race) as the last time I rode there half of the park was still covered in snow. I hopped into the internets and searched for a race map - but what I found instead was another rider's request for a race map and the response was hopeful, yet crushed my drive to get up there to ride. EDIT: The facebook snipet janked up the whole page, and so it has been removed.
Considering how much snow there was the last time, and the water levels I've seen just driving around, I assumed that riding up there on Sunday would be a bust. So I decided to ride over at Cutler Park. I had seen reports over on NEMBA that some riders had cleared things up and the trails were good. And boy were they right!! It was a fun fast ride. I was able to throw down in the big ring on the majority of the ride. The other reason for the fun was my new gear.
So you know about the garms (garmin edge) but you don't know about my new Pearl Izumi Elite Bib Shorts. I wanted to get them for the first race, but didn't want to order bib shorts over the internet because I wasn't sure of the fit and whatnot. While we were in The Web I got myself a pair when I got Annie her shoes. LOVE them. Consider me a full on bike nerd now. They were soooo comfortable and it was nice to not catch any baggy shell on the nose of the seat, or have them slide down over the knee. Just full on riding!
The next big purchase will probably be some new shoes, which I have at least narrowed down the color. I'm digging my red sneakers - so I think (if possible) my next shoes will be red - add a little flash out there. Probably a new helmet on the horizon as well... but one step at a time here.
I think my "race kit" will obviously include the PI Bibs and my singletracks.com jersey (since it's my only jersey with black in it). Looks like rain for the majority of the week... boo that! But on the bright side I guess I'll be able to get back to the gym - haven't worked out in about a month! YIKES!