Monday, June 24, 2013

Grafton Ponds Mountain Bike Race

What better way than to spend the day riding a bike in the woods with friends? It was a beautiful day on Sunday, we loaded up the Fiat and discover that one of the screws on the bike rack is loose and we couldn't get it tighten. Unload everything and reload into the Rav4. Allergy season is in full bloom and hitting both of us, Claritin is our friend. I failed to take it though. Oh well. Need to say I decided to ride the hardtail (what was I thinking!). Shoulders are sore today and I feel it in my wrists.

By the time we get up to Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center it's already 84 degrees out!! Dang, it's hot and the humidity is creeping up. We both try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. The call for staging and we're up.

The count and we're off. Jessica takes off right out of the gate, never to be seen again! I'm thinking to myself, pace yourself, it's hot and you have 3 laps. The rest of us pretty much ride together up the first climb and then into the single track, it's slippery, the roots are slimy and I realize my sunglasses are too dark. In the woods it's hard to pick the roots out but I keep riding and slipping away. After about 1 mile we're already spread out, I know Jessica is up front, another woman I don't know (she's in the 19-34 AG), Pam and myself. I know Michelle is probably right behind me but I can't hear her. Yes, it's hot and I'm thankful most of the riding is in the woods!!

So I'm getting bounced around pretty good on my hard-tail, I'm not getting into a rhythm and am frustrated with myself. Start getting that stressed, tension kind of riding going. I don't like riding like that, so I just back off a bit and try to regroup. Michelle passes me, okay, just have to stay in contact.

Second loop, right behind Michelle and Pam, can't see Jessica. Thank goodness for Dave gave me a bottle of cold water to dump on myself and the feed zone gave us water! Michelle and I go back and forth on the second loop. I love it! She makes it through a tough spot, I get to cheer good job, keep going!! I make it through a tough spot, she cheers, good job!! So goes the discussion as we ride. Finally settling in on the bike, taking better lines, feeling better. Sweating something awful.

Third loop, can still see Pam, don't know if I can catch her but will do my best. I thought Michelle was with me but she dropped off, heat is so tough to ride in!! I'm guessing Pam is about a minute in front of me. Now I'm actually feeling like I'm becoming one with my bike! Took too long! What's fun about this course is it goes back and forth so you can see the other riders and cheer them on. At the last climb Pam is 3/4 of the way up and I'm only 1/4 of the way up and it's pretty much downhill after you hit the top. So I know I'm not going to catch her unless something happens BUT that doesn't mean I'm not going to keep trying!

I cross the finish line, oh so nice!! Pam's there, high five and hug! I hang around at the finish to see Michelle finish, more hugs! Eddie comes across, cheering and more hugs! Get water, visit, change and we're heading home. Half way home, I ask Eddie, "where's the ibeprofen?", have a wicked headache. We get home, unload (Eddie does most of it), I crash. Another great day!

Jessica (1st), Pam (2nd) and myself (3rd)
So, Cat 2 does 3 laps, Cat 1 does 4 laps and the Pro's 5 laps! Kudos to all that rode yesterday! Keep hydrated and recover well.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mountain Biking = Relaxing

Last week I had asked Chris if he would go riding with me to work on my technical skills. He's an awesome rider that's on Norm's Mtb team. So, after working 4 overnights I set my alarm for 2:15, I called Chris, the rain had stopped and the sun was out!! Yeah! The only sad part is that my hubby had to go to work.

I met Chris at Norm's Bike Shop and we rode over to Drummer Hill. Great climbing!! Chris was nice to me and set a great pace for me. Talked me through some technical sections, a downhill that the leaves were still on. Shall I say, a bit slippery!! I think I did pretty good. One section of a climb I just ran out of gas and had to get off and hike the bike to the top of the climb, bummer but I recovered.

Nice descents, beautiful trails! The guys have worked hard to maintain the trails at Drummer Hill. I highly recommend riding up there but probably should ride with someone who knows the area! I definitely would get lost. I still get lost at Leominster State and I've been riding there for the past 10 years!!

We were on our way back to Norm's and my chain snaps! We stop make the repair and continue back to the shop. I think I might name this year "The Year of the Chain". I have never had this many chains break before!!

We get back to Norm's, I head home and have this overwhelming feeling of being relaxed and completely satisfied! I can smell the mud and the sweat from the riding. Love that smell! As I was driving home I think to myself, I so wish I could do this everyday. So if I can't go riding everyday, at least I know I can look forward to it, knowing that I get this feeling of satisfaction!

My hope, is that others will join in on this life style and enjoy it as much as I do!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I Love Mountain Biking! Pat Peak Race

This morning was beautiful!! Blue skies, temp only in the 60's, no humidity! Hubby can't race due to Patella tendinitis, out for another 3 weeks. So I'm racing today, he's support. My bikes loaded, riding clothes packed, food packed and ready to go. Poor dogs are sad, they aren't going. The power went out this morning and we were concerned about the sump pump not being on, the water table is high here right now with all of the rain and we live next to a river!! Thank goodness the power came back on, all is good and we head out.

Nice drive up, get unloaded, dressed, pre-ride. Talk to Chris, his comment is, "if you think you need to get off the bike, do". I'm told over and over, it's VERY muddy, very muddy!! Slippery, muddy, did they say muddy?? We were suppose to do 3 laps, it was cut down to 2. Yes, that tells me it's not great riding conditions. Oh, those poor riders that did the endurance race yesterday!

We line up, there aren't many women today in Cat 2. Good start, Emily (She's 18) is in the lead, then Pam. I am right behind Pam. I'm trying to get into a nice climbing gear, it keeps skipping, all of the sudden my chain is jammed between the largest cog and back wheel! Crap, get off, muscle the chain out with the tool that hubby gave to me! I'm in the woods, it's dark, can't see anything without glasses. Catch back up to Pam, get riding again. Shit, chain jams again! Everyone passes me. My team mate Ramona checks on me, nothing she can do. I hike my bike to the ski slope where I can see. Flip the bike over, get the chain out. Looking at the derailleur I see the screw on the low setting is hanging out. Oh, yes, it falls out onto the ground, in the mud and rocks! You know what comes out of my mouth, nothing nice at this point!

I actually find the screw!!! Get it back in place, play around with it and it seems like the bike is shifting okay. I remount my bike and start riding. I'm upset and want to quit. I tell myself I'll just see how it goes. So I make it around and down and up and see another rider in front of me, a male but still another rider!! I can catch him and I see Ramona up on a climb!! I follow the male rider and get to the water station and realize I DIDN'T take the right trail!! Shit! Now I have to turn around and back track and try to find where I screwed up! I will not cut the course!

I do find where I made the wrong turn, make it back to the water station, actually stop and drink a glass of water. I decide at that point I will just do one lap and take a DNF. The back half of the course is pretty fun! I complete my first lap, there's Jill, Helen, Chris and Eddie all cheering for me! Do you think I can stop now?? The bikes shifting okay, I can't let them down!! So I keep going!!

Hubby is yelling something at me as I'm starting a climb I look back and yes, I CRASH!! Duh!! Oh well! I get up and keep going. Get up the climb, my goal at this point to enjoy the ride and ride as many of the technical parts I can. Amazingly I catch my team mate, who is encouraging me to keep going! Love you Ramona!! Then I pass another woman! Hot digity dog! I just keep pedaling along, it's beautiful in the woods, the smells are amazing, so intense with the recent rain. The mud is sticky but it's manageable. I see Pam starting a climb as I'm decending, I'm yelling at her, "good job, keep going!!".

I get to mile marker 4 miles! Only 2.62 miles left, WOW how did that happen? Now it's pretty much downhill. I work my way through the technical parts and finish out the race! I end up in 4th place in the 35+ AG today, not too bad with everything that happened! Showered and changed then we watched the Cat 1's and Pro's finish out the day.

What an awesome day! I learn so much about myself during my races, even when I have every reason not to continue I know I can keep going even if it's just one pedal stroke at a time. I know others who love to ride their bikes and can't and would give anything too. So if I quit, I'm letting them down, I can't do that! I feel this carries over to my daily life.

I have so many things to be thankful for, my wonderful husband who cheers and supports me, my family and friends that are there for me, and at this point in my life my health that I can go ride a mountain bike up mountains!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Another great day

Right to Left - Ramona, Danielle and myself

Our day started out kind of slow this morning, which isn't a bad thing by any means in my book! Caught up with some friends on FB, great conversation and food for thought. No real plans except to vacuum and clean the house a bit (not my favorite job). I did vacuum, got all the dog fur up!! Then Hubby called and suggested I get a new pair of mountain bike shoes because my current ones have shrunk and are painfully pulling and squishing my toes. Been getting cramps in my toes in the shoes.

Couldn't pass that up, so while hubby was getting his knee checked out I ran up to Norm's Bike and Ski Shop in Keene, NH. Patty was awesome helping me get the right fit. Fergie have my another wheel to make some more bracelets! Doesn't take much to make this girl happy!

Ran home, hubby still not home, got dressed hoped on the road bike and dropped off a spoke wrench I had borrowed from a friend (I bought myself my own up at the shop today). Rode home, hubby still not home. Kept riding, hubby called and told me to keep going, I did.

I ended up doing 3 different loops trying to stay pretty close to home, didn't want to get caught in the rain that's coming. Ended up with 33 miles, great ride! Hardly any traffic, roads all to myself, good hills to climb and a few good descents. Now dinner, I'm hungry!

Keep riding everyone and enjoy every moment of the day. Add a friend of mine said this morning, "be mindful".

Here's a picture of the bracelets!

The finished Product!

An old mtb wheel that was going to be thrown away
All broken down and ready to be made into bracelets

Monday, June 3, 2013

Domnarski's Farm Mountain Bike Race

What a weekend! Hot and humid, finally summer is here but for racing weather?? Doesn't matter, right? It's a race course that is challenging and great to compete in! So, off we go. Eddie didn't race, he crashed at Boneyard and took a hard knock to the knee, still not the same yet. Time for him to go to the Doctors! A friends bike wasn't working, Eddie had brought his. Paul rode Eddie's bike for the race!

We get to Domnarski's Farm, Matt does a great job pulling this all together and maintaining the trails! Thank you Matt! Get to see so many people that I haven't seen for a bit, so nice to see everyone! I get ready, my usual routine, eat, talk, drink some fluids, talk some more, meet a new team member of Norm's Bike Shop Danielle. Hit the ladies room and then go for a short warm up. Can you say HOT, HUMID, difficult to breath kind of weather! No turning back now. Just get into the shade and wait for my start.

So we wait, in the shade. The Pro's and Cat 1's go out, Cat 2 men, by age group. Oh, the women only get 2 age groups. Basically under 35 and 35+.  We are finally up, Jill is giving us instructions for the course, one lap, 10 miles, DON'T turn left were it says Beginner!! I know right were it is, won't make that mistake like the 2 men that came through at that particular moment in time wondering "what happened", yes, they weren't watching where they were going. Count down continues, 30 seconds, 15, 10, 5, go. At this race you really do want to be the first one into the woods because there's a nasty little climb right from the start! We all get bunched up, run our bikes up the first climb, remount our steady steads and continue on. The heart rates are high, we're encouraging each other to keep going, and that you're doing a great job. Love these women!! That's what's so cool about mountain biking (at least in Cat 2) is that you race hard but at the same time encourage each other!

I'm guessing but I'm pretty sure the first mile is climbing! Sarah's already gone, she's have an awesome season. We already were spreading out. It feels so good when I reach a point that I can stand on my pedals and coast for a second down a hill. HR comes down a bit. Did I say it was hot? Already soaked with sweat. Thank goodness it's shady! Can't really remember much but the first part of the course goes smoothly, I feel good! Make it through some BIG puddles. Oh, I remember this, one of the puddles smelled like sh*t! Gross. Somewhere around mile 4 I would say another woman catches me and I just want to stay steady (she's in my age group). I know there's another long climb coming. We start coming across people riding horses! Horses and bikes don't typically mix well together, the pace slows a bit but now we're climbing I would say a 10% gradient, so it's not like we're going fast, more like 4-5 mph! Oh, that climb is so long, at least a mile. More horses, neighing and hopping around. About all I can do is stay to the extreme left! I really didn't feel like getting kicked! Finally, sweet decent, let it rip, no brakes, who cares about the horses and rocks? Now I'm really hot.

Yes, I am drinking my Nuun drink along the way here! Took a Gu about mile 5 too. I know what's coming next. You guessed it, another climb. Except this one is on the power lines, in the open scorching sun! I can see the other woman in front of me, I'm just fine with that! We start the climb, I ride for a bit but the HR just gets to high and I'm just too hot. I get off like many of the other racers and hike my bike, that sucks. I feel like puking at this point but get to the top of the climb and remount my bike. Just keep pedaling I tell myself.

The next section, all I remember is starting to cross the Bridge of Absurdity and the first Pro is coming through, I step off of the bridge (it's only 8 inches wide and crossing a huge puddle, 150 ft long), into the water, yuck, it's muddy, stinks and is up to my knees. Now I just run the rest of the way so I can keep riding. Then there's the Tree of Death, I slid down that!

I feel like crap, really want to throw up, can't see the leader any longer. I here Pam coming up. She passes, I'm yelling at her, "you're only 30 seconds behind", "go get her"! I told you, we encourage each other. I know I just have to keep pedalling, only about 2 miles left. Now Michelle passes me, I'm out of the podium. Tell myself, don't panic! Take a drink and ride, I do that. I can see Michelle, I see the 1 Mile to Go sign.

1 mile. Only 1 mile, I can catch her, I know it's all downhill and I LOVE downhill. Suck it up I tell myself. No brakes, whip around the corners and I know there's a creek crossing that is rocky, if I make it through there clean I know I can catch Michelle. YES, I make it clean and go over a log clean, one more puddle. I know it's thick mud, I see she's off her bike! I attack the puddle, muck my way through and am on her tail! I love downhill!! Just looking for a place to pass. Michelle says to me, do you want to pass? I'm like, YES. I don't know if she knew it was me but I took it! Let it rip, now I'm pedaling as hard as I can knowing it's only 1/4 mile. Don't know how fast I was going into the last left hand turn but I did use my brakes!! Made the turn clean, sprinted for the finish. Made the podium, 3rd. Not to shabby.

Fun day, dehydrate, Eddie drives home, I shower, hop into bed to take a nap because I had to go work the overnight shift! Was definitely tired this morning when I got home! Looking forward to the next race!