Winning at Bike Shop Roulette

As you may recall back in February, I was splitting time between two of the three Elevation Cycles locations- Downtown and Boulder (after being uprooted from the Highlands Ranch store by a coworker who was, to say the least, unfriendly). Not long after my schedule started creeping into being Boulder-heavy, it was announced that the next week (March 1st), the store sold to two new owners and would no longer be a part of Elevation Cycles.

Nick, the owner of Elevation, who I’d met at 24 Worlds just months before, gave me a choice of staying at the Denver/Highlands Ranch locations of Elevation, or “quitting” Elevation and starting at the new shop. Considering that my Boulder co-workers and I got along really well and the unfriendly coworker that I’d fled from was still working with no repercussions for his unfriendliness, the choice was pretty easy to make.

I don’t know that all of my Boulder co-workers were given the same option.

Anyways…

I’m incredibly happy with the people I work with. They all race bikes (and they’re all really good at it). They’re all incredibly nice/funny/fun to hang out with. I look forward to going to work in the mornings. The fact that they’re all good bike racers has provided me with renewed motivation to get out of “winter blues” shape and prep for a few local bike races this summer. I’ve been riding four days per week and lifting/doing super-power-yoga two days per week, along with my usual jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai classed at night.

Oh yeah- and the name of the new shop? Republic Cycles Boulder… a nod to the term “People’s Republic of Boulder” and “The Boulder Bubble.”

Part of my training plan is using the program TrainerRoad. Because of the limited time I have to ride, it’s a boon to my reclaiming of fitness. If you’ve never used it, and you aren’t afraid to ride indoors, I highly recommend it. It’s like having a coach, but for $8 a month. I know a lot of people who despise the trainer and get bored within 5 minutes. Those are usually the same people who hop on with no plan other than to watch a tv show or movie. If you use it as a hard/fast training tool, you won’t have time to be bored. Get on, warm up, do an interval workout, cool down… done. You’ve knocked out an hour to hour & a half before you realize it, and you’ve done something incredibly meaningful for your fitness.

That’s where I am now. I have added on some extra riding on Tuesdays and Saturdays (my days off). I was able to do a Saturday threshold workout on Lookout Mountain and last Tuesday, after I did my morning trainer intervals, took some out-of-town friends on a ride up and over Green Mountain. I’m looking to crush it at the Beti Bike Bash in June.

That’s the story for now. If you want little day-to-day snippets and pictures, listen to JRA and/or follow on Twitter & Instagram (links on the sidebar).

Edit to add- I’m gonna try Snapchat… I’m BrickhouseMTB on there if you swing that way…

Ode to the Surly Crosscheck

Hop in your way-back machine and set it for the Fall of 2008. I was in the process of changing road teams (from Kenda to Metro Volkswagen), and I decided that I wanted to race a little cyclocross, but that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a bike, AND I wanted something that could be flipped between fixed gear and singlespeed. So, I went to Bikes Plus in Germantown and got this:

I ran it fixed gear for a hot minute before I realized that riding a fixed gear sucks ass.

Soon after, I decided that I wanted to race a gravel grinder (way before they were as popular as they are now). I set it up 1×9 with some old Shimano stuff we had laying around the house. Before you say anything… I’m not really sure what was up with that stem. It was definitely before I understood the concept of “stack and reach,” and it also had a small-sized clamp, so I think I just wanted something longer than stock (TWSS), and that’s what was around the house.

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In case you were wondering, that was the first time of many I raced (and had my ass handed to me by) Cary Lowery.

In the years following, it went back to being a SSCX bike. I rode it in a SSCX race at the National Championships in Kansas City (it was a non-championship race, and I raced against the dudes… and Betsy Shogren).

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…and later it became a wannabe mountain bike with a flat bar, a Kenda Karma 2.1 on the front, and some sort of small Bontrager “mountain bike” tire on the back…

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It kinda sat around for a while after that. I got really nice, pimped-out carbon cross bikes, placed 3rd in Masters Worlds a couple of times, then decided that having two full race seasons per year was no longer what I wanted to do. So, I sold the fancy carbon rides, and the Crosscheck was once again my CX steed. This time, with a plethora of “leftovers” from other bikes that had come and gone through the stable:

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I raced it in one or two SSCX It’s basically in the same iteration now, except it’s got my I9 road wheels and a set of fat road tires on it. I use it for a good portion of road training and grocery getting now. For training, I’ve been riding it up Lookout Mountain on a 40×16. It’s a haul, but it’s been an integral part of getting ready for competition team tryouts.

I’ve alluded to it a couple of times, but, since I’m pretty limited on ride time and ability to travel because of Indy’s failing mental health, I’m pouring a lot of energy in to MMA at The Training Camp. Tomorrow afternoon, I’m trying out for the competition team. It’ll open up the opportunity to train and compete in Jujitsu, Muay Thai, and eventually, another go at MMA.

You can find bikes like the Crosscheck pretty easily now, but, at the time, there weren’t many of them. If you’ve got piles of random bike parts around your house, I’d highly recommend dropping a little cash for a frame and making it in to, well, whatever you want… as I have for the past few years as my mood, needs, and interests changed.

Doping in Memphis

Winter is tightening its grip on the Front Range. I’ve taken a lot of my physical activity indoors with the recent revisiting of MMA. You might remember last time that I trained a good bit in MMA, I lost a fight and ended up with a broken-as-hell nose. In the following months after that, John Trent, who I’d been training with, sold his gym, and I was only able to get back in for Jujitsu classes for a few months before moving away.

Fast forward, and now that I’m not living high up in the mountains a long drive from civilization, I’ve found a new MMA home at The Training Camp. I’m starting slow, unlearning a few bad habits, honing good ones, and learning piles of new ones. There’s a large amount of experience under one roof there. I’m looking forward to trying out for the competition team in January.

Speaking of competition, one of the master’s dudes from Memphis finally got popped for doping, this time for testosterone and Ritalin: Master’s 40+ Winner Busted

It’s sad in lots of ways… mainly because I know Todd Hickman is a really nice guy. If you didn’t click that link before you met him, you’d think so, too. He’s never the guy that you hate to see show up for a group ride. I’ve always suspected that there are other 40+ dudes in Memphis who are taking testosterone (and/or ritalin, which is just as easy to get a script for from your family doctor). Most of those dudes have gigantic egos and tend to reside on the “asshole” end of the “how nice are you?” scale. So, it’s sad that it was Todd and not one of them.
It’s sort of like if a group of cars passed you on the interstate doing 110mph. One of the driver tailgates you and flashes his lights at you and another one seems to exercise some sort of common courtesy to pass you before speeding back up to his group. Later down the road, you see that the one who’d not acted like a dick has been pulled over by a Trooper and the rest of the group continued on without him at 110mph. You’re glad that one driver doing something dangerous is off the road, but you wish it was the dude who’d acted like a jerk.

I hope that Todd’s experience and punishment (4-year ban) is a wake up call to any other Memphis-area masters racers who are riding down the same road. I hope that Todd comes back clean in 4 years and continues to ride and race, because he’s a kind-hearted person who screwed up real bad.

Maybe I’m naive in saying so, but as a female, I feel like there’s much less concern about my competition being dopers (with the exception of maybe some of the upper-level racing I’ve done). For one, a 40 year old woman can’t waltz in to her doctor’s office and claim sexual dysfunction in order to get a (out-of-competition) legal prescription of testosterone. So, we’ve got that going for us. Also, women generally just get faster with age (to a point, of course). Outside of confounding life factors, it’s not like a 35 year old woman can tell a huge difference between her ability to train and recover the way she did when she was 22 because of a change in her hormone levels. While the allure of things like stimulants and EPO might still be there, the draw to take testosterone is less than that of men.

Anyways…

I went back South for Thanksgiving last week. Unfortunately, the weather was terrible, so my plan to hit Syllamo on the way back home was thwarted by torrential amounts of rain. I did get to ride bar bikes with Kenny one night

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We cruised Germantown neighborhoods then stopped at Huey’s for burgers. I’ve taken to ordering an Old Fashioned at any bar I go to, just to see what I get. While it’s an incredibly simple drink, what usually comes out it some sort of watered down shot of whiskey with a cherry and an orange slice in it that may or may not actually contain bitters. I’ve only found one bar so far (the Golden Moon Speakeasy, where my love of Old Fashions first began) that actually makes one as good as (better, actually) what I make in my kitchen.

Other highlights of my trip back to Memphis included sushi dinner with the parents-

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Low point? Getting a speeding ticket two hours from being back home in Denver. The trooper had no mercy on me even though little Indy was crying/howling in his crate because he had to potty. If you’re wondering, the price of doing 82mph in a 75mph zone in Colorado is $98.50.

That’s mostly it for now. Time to do some yoga before work.

Finding Peace.

Life since Breck Epic has been hectic…

Ok, that’s an understatement, but I’m gonna roll with it.

There were a couple of late-season races. I went to the Winter Park XC finale the weekend after Breck Epic and felt alright despite the physical destruction I experienced the previous week. I can attribute that, in part, to the wisdom I’ve gained though years of racing. I felt like a total animal off the start, but knew that on partially-recovered legs to not follow that feeling and end up fully shelled and barely moving forward. Wise pacing paid off, and I won the “King of the Rockies” race, giving me 2nd place in the series behind a woman who’d just attended a couple more races than I had.

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Then, there was Cougar Slayer. You park in Boulder, take the bus to Nederland, and race back to where you started.

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It’s a net loss in elevation, but is still an absolutely brutal course. Since it was a gps-navigated course, and I attempted to use a Garmin 500, I got lost a lot. I had to sit and wait at intersections repeatedly while my Garmin caught up to me. I eventually resorted to riding with other (slower) people with better GPS units. So, I missed the 8 hour cutoff for the handmade belt buckle. I do get the 100% totally uncelebrated, unrecognized (other than right here) title of “first woman to ever complete the full Cougar Slayer course.” So, there’s that.

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I realized while I was on course at Cougar Slayer that physically, I was recovered (and possibly even stronger) from Breck Epic. However, I wasn’t mentally prepped for the final task I’d scheduled for my season- Vapor Trail 125. It became obvious to me after a couple of race days that the Breck Epic rivalry between Sara Sheets and I had become legendary. I had all sorts of people I’ve never met before asking me about it (Sara is somewhat legendary herself, so the idea that another rider came out of “nowhere” and challenged her to the point of near physical breakdown astounded a lot of people). You can’t go to a race like Vapor Trail 125 without being fully prepared both mentally and physically, so I bailed on it…

Maybe next year.

Getting away from racing and on to the point of my extended hiatus and this blog post… Somewhere in the midst of the whole “living in the mountains” experience, a hard reality hit me.

I belong nowhere else.

I’ve alluded to it in the past, but I’ll go ahead and say it out loud here- I was having some serious issues while living in Memphis. From the time of Vapor Trail 2014 until I left town in March, I was basically a prisoner of anxiety attacks and their resulting depression. If the trails were too wet to ride (common in the Memphis winter), you have to ride on the road if you want to ride at all. I kept having panic attacks when I was road riding. I kept feeling like a failure, a worthless person, and all the other things that go along with losing the ability to do something you once loved because of an invisible handicap.

Then, the mountains happened. I found a place where I could exist with the option of not having an anxiety attack any time I rode my bike. Last Spring, Someone wished that I find peace where I was headed. I feel like I finally have. I feel at home in the mountains. My soul feels at peace here.

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I’ve found friends in the mountains, too.

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…because, basically, this is how I felt in Memphis:

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As a result of my decision to not go back to Memphis, part of my “too busy to write a blog post” was procuring non-seasonal employment and a place to live… both pretty tall orders in Denver/Fall. In the midst of it all, I went with 92Fifty teammate Tim Lutz to 24 Solo Worlds in Weaverville, CA. Along the way, we stopped at Park City and Lake Tahoe, which are pretty amazing places to ride.

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When I came back, I had a job at Elevation Cycles waiting for me (the Boss there was pit crew next door for Kelly Magelky at the Worlds race). So far, it’s been pretty rad. It’s the first shop I’ve been in where starting pay can cover real-life living expenses, and none of the employees seem disgruntled & under-appreciated (aside from 92Fifty… where I was the only employee, and was neither disgruntled nor under-appreciated).

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So, this is now… a rental house in Lakewood, career-path bike shop employment, and a lifetime of mountains to explore by bike. I feel like myself for the first time in a really long time.

Breck Epic

When I started Breck Epic Stage #1 with 4 other singlespeed women, I really had no idea how the week wold turn out. My experiences there the previous two years have been that everyone rides kinda hard and the race ends up unfolding on its own with generous time gaps between the participants. This year turned out to be very different.

On day one, Sara Sheets and I rode to the first singletrack together. However, after the first climb/descent, she disappeared in to traffic going up the next climb. I figured it wasn’t worth chasing my ass off on the first day, so I just kept it steady and finished 4 minutes, 27 seconds behind her. That’s nothing in stage racing. I was stoked.

What followed after that was the hardest 4 days of riding either of us could possibly imagine. I rode downhill with reckless disregard for personal safety because I knew I could out-descend her and make her chase. However, by the last descent of stage 3, she reduced my downhill advantage to an easily surmountable gap. We traded uphill blows as well, both riding and hike-a-biking. We’d periodically battle from the time we cleared starting-climb traffic until we would get to the final descent of each stage, absolutely exhausted, and she’d let me roll ahead of her and finish a few seconds ahead. According to the power numbers, we raced each day a little harder than the previous. It was sort of nuts.

You can hear the daily reports (and some early-week interviews with other racers) on the JRA Mountain Bike Radio Page: http://www.mountainbikeradio.com/just-riding-along/breck-epic-2015/

We finally relented for Stage 6 and rode at a friendly pace for the shorter/easier final stage. It was a relief to cross the finish line. I think we both couldn’t quite believe what we’d just been through…

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I had a lot of people ask about my bike setup for the race. Steve Domahidy of Domahidy Designs was nice enough to let me use one of his Ti Hardtail frames. I put a Pike on it (the one off my new Pivot 429sl) along with Industry Nine Pillar Ultralite Carbon wheels, a Quarq powermeter, Endless 22t Kickass cog, a dropper post, Ergon grips and SMC3 Saddle, and some beefy-ish Maxxis tires. I took that bike through Hell and back, and everything was incredibly solid (and comfortable as well).

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I also want to send my appreciation out to some other sponsors who helped me through the week in one way or another…

Gu Energy Labs (Daily, I consumed somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 scoops of Roctane Drink, 3 scoops of Gu Electrolyte Brew, 7 Roctane Gels, and a bottle of Recovery Brew)
92Fifty Cyclery
Elevated Legs (every day for at least an hour!)
Smith Optics

There were also some great photographers on course, and I’ve been sharing a daily pic or two on my Facebook page.
Devon Balet
Eddie Clark (responsible for the great stage 6 finish photo above)
Micheal Kane (took the other nice shot of me riding)
Liam Doran

Mike McCormack and his army of staff & volunteers put on an amazing event.

Bike Race/Human Race

I raced my third Winter Park Cross Country race yesterday and secured my 3rd win in the Singlespeed category. For as awesome as the previous race was for someone on a singlespeed, this one was bad. I rode the same gear- 32×21, and, while I usually expect gear choice to be one of compromise (gear so that you’ve got the “right” gear for a majority of the race and gut through the rest), this time I felt like I had the wrong gear- on either end- for a majority of the time. It started on a five mile climb with the last mile or so being steep, rocky forest road. There were a lot of similar sections where I was either standing on my gear at 30 RPMs or hike-a-biking. There were what seemed like an equal number of slightly downhill gravel road sections where I was totally spun out for minutes at a time.

I probably wouldn’t have had as hard of a time with the steep spots if my legs weren’t loaded up with Breck Epic training. My average power numbers were definitely a little on the low side. Unfortunately, I forgot my garmin at the previous race where I was feeling awesome, so I can’t compare between the two with anything other than knowing I felt way better last time and finished 4th overall for the women rather than 16th like yesterday (the course had a little to do with that for sure, but I’d still expect better).

So, now I rest. Of course, I’ve suddenly got all sorts of ideas for crazy rides, but I’m forcing myself to take a hiatus from them until after the Epic.

I feel like I need to take this chance of having some spare Sunday afternoon time to write a rebuttal to my own blog post from a couple of days ago where I stated that everyone needs to be humbled by the mountains so that they learn another level of respect for nature. One thing I’ve also learned from being in Colorado is that everyone also needs to live for a given period of time in a place where you see, on a day-to-day basis, the products of a large minority population living at or below the poverty line. In Memphis, you can’t get away from it. You don’t have to watch the news- it’s visible any time you drive/walk/bike in the inner part of the city. No matter how high you build your fences and how much you gerrymander school and voting districts, the crime and difficulties that result from a population of individuals oppressed by generations of lives of poverty are visible all over. There are zip codes in Memphis that have 3rd world infant mortality rates.

I’ll never personally know what it’s like to be a poor black person, but you’d better believe that living in Memphis made me realize just how privileged of a life I’ve had as a middle class white person. There are a lot of people here, living in their unique mountain bubble, who haven’t and won’t ever see, first-hand, the struggle that some people face just to exist in everyday life. It’s not their fault, and I’m also not saying there aren’t people struggling and poor in Denver. I’m saying that the crime and problems that exist as a result of a huge population of people in need are far more invisible here than they are in Memphis. The end result is a noticeable undercurrent of attitude and behavior that lack both gratitude for one’s good quality of life and empathy for those who don’t share that same quality of life. Not that people like that don’t exist in Memphis, it just seems like there’s way more of them here.

So, Colorado people (or maybe I could say anyone lucky enough to have a house, computer, and internet), some of you need to realize just how lucky you are to be in such an awesome place. Don’t take your mountains, nice weather, and generally high quality of life for granted, because there are sooo many people who will never get a chance to experience what you’ve got.

Getting in to the Garbage

Though I’ve been out of Memphis for 3.5 months now, I’m still getting involved with the stupid stuff that happens there. Namely, this: Stanky Creek Time Trial

If you click that link and read the race flyer for the Stanky Creek TT, you’ll see that women don’t get an actual race. They race their respective categories, against dudes. It’s not even about equal pay at this point… it’s the fact that there’s not even a WOMEN’S CATEGORY. The promoter could break a limb off a tree and write “winner” on it or find a pair of crappy socks in the LBS bargain bin… whatever. That’d be shitty, but at least there’d be some sort of recognition that yes, women actually exist, and sort of matter. A friend of mine from Nashville (part of the Tennessee Women’s Cycling Project) brought this up on Facebook and questioned the race promoter about it, and this was the response:

“It could be debated all day long and from all points of view, but we did what we felt was the most fair and the most economical. We would love your feedback and the feedback from all the women after the event and will consider it for next year.”

After further talking with the promoter, he admitted that the women’s categories are always a loss of money, so if she could find a sponsor herself, he’d make a women’s open time trial. I immediately jumped on the offer and put up the $60 required to make a ladies category. She told him that the money was gathered and that the sponsors would be Brickhouse Racing and Just Riding Along on Mountain Bike Radio. He then refused to put anything on the flyer that had to do with me. Apparently, we’ve had some sort of differences in opinion in the past (that I don’t know about). He later told my friend that he didn’t want her money and that he’d make a women’s open race without it, but they’d only get a payout if at least five women showed up. They’re still trying to work out an amicable solution, but she’s prepared to take the money and give it out herself, despite his wishes. 

That’s a load of garbage right there. I don’t really care about not getting recognition. I’m just glad that the women are going to get treated fairly, one way or another. We talked a little bit about it on a special episode of Just Riding Along with special guest, Amanda Batty.

Here’s my afterthought- Women’s categories at races may just add up to be another expense, but they’re soooo necessary. Think of it like this- if you’re a promoter, you wouldn’t NOT have portapotties at your event, would you? No. They’re an expense, but a very necessary expense. One that you expect to have. One that you plan for out of respect and comfort for the people who come to your race. I hate comparing women’s racing to a porta-potty, but THAT’S how necessary it is to have a women’s category at your race.

On a totally different note, at 4am this morning, I awoke to what sounded and felt like someone, or something, was stomping around on top of my RV-house. The noise continued, the RV shook, and I realized that there was a bear raiding the garbage cans that sit directly behind my bedroom wall. I looked out the window to see, no more than a few feet away, a large black bear was dining on a bag of garbage. He heard my window open and darted off with the bag in his mouth. A few minutes later, he returned for seconds. I yelled at him from the window, and he ran off for good. Black bears in Colorado are way bigger than the large dog-sized bears in Arkansas.

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Winter Park Race Rendezvous Report

Last week at the shop was insanely busy with getting people ready for MTB Nationals along with more than the usual number of repairs coming through. I love working on bikes all day, so it was pretty great. On Thursday, I squeezed in a quick ride at Golden Gate Canyon. It was my only ride between Monday and the race at Winter Park, so I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to feel.

Answer? Awesome. Seriously. It’s one of those rides where everything felt totally on point. I felt ready to smash the Winter Park XC race on Saturday.

Saturday rolled around, and once I was checked in, I found the start and rode the first mile or two. I’d forgotten my Garmin, so I’d be racing off of feel- not terrible, but not being able to go back and look at my effort… Sad day. From the start line to the beginning of the first singletrack climb was maybe an eighth of a mile of gravel doubletrack. On the singlespeed, start position was key to not getting stuck behind granny geared riders (Pro, Expert, and Singlespeed women started together). I decided it was worth burning a match to be the first singlespeed in to the singletrack. When everyone began gathering at the start, I inched my way up to the front row with the pro women. I’m relatively certain that the other 3 singlespeed women hadn’t adopted the same strategy as me.

When we started, I sprint-spun as fast as I could towards the trail. The pro women and a handful of expert women dashed in ahead of me, but I was successful in grabbing the singlespeed holeshot. From there, the hammer was down. I never saw any of my competitors, and I took to picking off as many of the other women as possible. The Rendevous Trail system was amazing, btw. Unlike the first race, the course was excellent for a singlespeed rider to be in the mix of geared riders. The backcountry trails were gorgeous and a fun mix of a few rocks, roots, and some flow. The last five miles were through a network of neighborhood trails and roads, and were about what you’d expect out of that sort of system. I didn’t know it at the time, but the lady I passed with just a couple of miles to go was the leader of the expert women. I ended up finishing a couple of minutes behind the four pros, a minute ahead of all the experts, and six minutes ahead of the next singlespeeder.

Even though the podiums were way more timely this week, 3rd place had already left.

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I’m really stoked on how much my legs have come around since I moved out. The Memphis winter was hard, and with the combination of that and altitude, I was definitely a slug when I first got here. Hopefully I’ve got the right combination of base and intensity to make it through Breck epic with the same sort of success.

Bonus pics- Indy is taking well to life as a shop dog:

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Firecracker 50 Race Report

Since my last post, where I laid out a kickass plan for some overload leading up to Breck Epic, things haven’t gone exactly I’ve expected (though, when do they ever??). The Firecracker 50 race was excellent. I last minute teamed-up with Liz Carrington, a fast lady from Durango who I met at Team camp in Moab back in March. The Firecracker race, which is one of the biggest ones in Colorado, is two laps around a 25ish mile course of forest road and trail. It’s a good mix of climbing and fast rolling/descending. For the duo category, each team member rides one lap. Liz wanted to go first so she wouldn’t have to sit around waiting and being nervous. I wanted to go second so I wouldn’t have to deal with as much trail crowding. So, it worked out really well.

The race start is also the start of the Breckenridge city 4th of July Parade. Each category goes off down the main street to a crowd of parade-watchers and kids wanting high fives. I opted to roll with the start and pull over at the end of main street (an option extended to teammates who are doing 2nd laps), though I didn’t high five any kids. Kid hands are gross.

The waiting around wasn’t all that bad. After a couple of hours, I ate a Gu and started rolling around to warm up. It was a little more crowded in the team start area than what I’d expected, so I couldn’t really see who was coming through and tagging out. I just watched for Liz’s yellow helmet to come down the switchbacks behind the park. When she did, I elbowed my way into the exchange area, and she rolled up saying we were in 2nd place.

I hadn’t seen the other team make the exchange, so I had no idea who I was looking for on my lap. Everyone was supposed to have calf markings with their category, but it seemed like half the women I caught had no calf marking. I didn’t care. I just charged. I felt like a bull raging down the trail. I’ve only ever ridden Breckenridge on a singlespeed (between my first Firecracker 50/Marathon Nationals, Breck 100, and two Breck Epics). I was motivated by how hard I could go on the flatter/rolling spots on a geared bike. I also laughed int he face of Little French, the infamous steep and rocky climb that takes you up to somewhere around 11k feet of elevation. It’s a relative piece of cake when you have a full suspension and a granny gear.

The only disappointing part of my lap was the two dudes that dove in to the final descent ahead of me and another women who didn’t have a calf marking. The last downhill is a bunch of awesome banked turns into Carter Park. The dude in front was terrible at the turns and wouldn’t let anyone by. It meant that there was another dude, the non-marked lady, and myself all rubbing tires going down the last mile of trail. I don’t now if she was aware of my presence, but I decided that I was going to sprint past her on the final 50-ish feet of straightaway before the finish line just in case she was the person I’d been chasing the entire time. She looked at me funny when I did that, but I didn’t really care. It’d be a terrible way to get 2nd place if she was the person I was trying to catch the entire time.

She wasn’t, though. We were second by a pretty stout margin (about 15 minutes) behind Jamie Brede and Kelly Boniface. I didn’t feel bad, though. I am really happy with how hard I rode and how steady I felt over my 2 hours and 18 minutes of ride time. I was totally gassed by the end. It makes me feel a little more confident in m fitness and nutrition (a.k.a. a flask full of Roctane gel) to go harder in the other XC races I’m planing on entering. Also, 2nd out of 34 women’s duo teams isn’t bad at all.

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The effort left me pretty weak for the next two days of planned overload. I went out for an easy-ish ride with JRA Superfan/92Fifty Temmate Jake on Sunday, then tried to show Rollins Pass to Matt on Monday, but we ended up getting caught in the rain on a long descent, so it turned into “get coffee in Rollinsville and death march home” instead. We had enough rain gear & warm clothing that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

It’s basically been raining since then. It sucks, because it’s not the typical “20-minute storm then sun” pattern. It’s just cold, grey, rain. It should lead to a pretty sloppy Winter Park XC this weekend, but with my singlespeed and meaty tires, I’m sure everything will be fine.

Epic Prep Time

From the “don’t try this at home” files…

The Breck Epic, a 6 day stage race out of Breckenridge, CO, is a burly task. One that, if someone is going to race it, they generally plan and train far in advance. I’ve been hoping to get in this year, and I found out late last week that I’d be racing it. That gives me exactly six weeks of prep time. I’ve raced it two other times (won it once)… the siren song of its official-ish self-declaration of being the “singlespeed stage race world championships” drew me to race singlespeed both years. If you told me two years ago that I’d have to take on such a task with six weeks of focused preparation, I would have balked a little. However, I have come to realize that A)being acclimated to living at above 9000ft will mean a lot, and B) I’ve developed a good bit of “old woman power” to fall back on when the race exceeds my current level of training.

Old Woman Power (and likewise, Old Man Power) is a somewhat abstract combination of physical and mental abilities that give you an almost-mythological power over your younger opponents. I’m just now getting experienced enough to tap in to the edge of it, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s worth mentioning that my riding since I’ve come to Colorado, while done without any real structure or plan other than “ride a lot until you’re tired and then take a break,” is conducive to a successful Breck Epic. I’ve done lots of climbing, lots of back-to-back big days, and the 4-5 hour outing feels pretty normal to me now.

So, these last few weeks before I need to taper back and rest ahead of the start will basically just involve a little more focus on back-to-back training days. For example- I raced Winter Park on Saturday, went out for a 3-hour singlespeed gravel grinder on Sunday, then rode four hours of front range stuff from down in Lakewood on Monday. I’ll mostly rest/recover this week, then repeat the process over the weekend when I race the Firecracker 50 (as part of a relay duo) on Saturday, do a long, high singlespeed ride of some sort on Sunday, then another played-by-ear hard ride on Monday. I’ll add in another mid-week hard ride on Wednesday or Thursday, then race Winter Park XC again on Saturday and repeat the weekend pattern of 3 hard days before simmering the volume down a little bit each week leading up to the race.

It’s worth mentioning, I take recovery pretty seriously. For general well-being, I go to yoga two days per week, try to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night, and visit the chiropractor. Acutely, I make sure to follow all of my back-to-back ride days with a recovery drink and 30-60min of time in the Elevated Legs. I can tell a difference if I skip those things during multiple days of hard riding. If you’re going to invest the time, effort, and money in to bike racing, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t do things that maximize your recovery. Those things are my not-so-secret weapons against feeling like crap on days 2 and 3.

Speaking of products that give you energy, I have some other cool, Epic-Related news- If you’ve ever skipped the products at an aid station because you hadn’t tried them before, then some of you may be in luck. I’ll be handing out free samples of Gu Energy product to anyone that is registered for Breck Epic and either comes to the shop or finds me at a race (I’ll be racing regionally most weekends up until August). That way, you can try it out and make sure the taste/digestibility works for you, and you’ll be able to confidently take advantage of Gu’s sponsorship of the Breck Epic event. If you’re interested, shoot an email to andrea at brickhouseracing dot com or comment below (make sure you enter a valid email address with your comment)

I’m super excited. Breck Epic is one of my favorite races for sooooo many reasons. It can’t be August soon enough!