Thursday, April 29, 2010

2011 Race Bike?

Someone posted this on the SORBA Forum, so I couldn't resist...

That's right kids..a Wally World 29er. I am almost tempted to buy one just to see how much this puppy weighs and to see how long I could ride it before

a.) it falls apart
b.) I fall apart from riding something so heavy

Perhaps this will make a good father's day present for Chris...he's been looking at new bikes because I think he's too lazy to change a flat tire on his current bike.

Insert Motivation Here

I'm trying to get motivated for the 6 Hour Race at Fort Yargo this weekend. I've already registered and paid, so I guess I should make an appearance, but I'm worried I'll have a repeat of this past weekend. I did a couple of short rides this week and the legs seem fine, but there's no telling how my body will react 3 or 4 hours in. In an attempt to keep from working too hard, I'm going to ride my singlespeed for this race. It will also help keep my lap times more consistent, which will be a good thing. Keeping my fingers crossed that I'm well enough to finish this one.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cohutta 65..aka Titanic Sinking

So I'm sitting here drinking massive amounts of water, trying to flush my system of whatever caused my full-on body meltdown at Cohutta...we're talking an eyeballs cramping, whole body tingling, can't pedal even on the downhills type of meltdown. The worst part was I had no indication that this was going to happen, since I felt pretty good all week.

The road start didn't feel great, but I had chalked it up to going from zero to hard effort in 6 seconds. I started to feel better towards the top, but I was still a minute slower than my pre-ride. Not a great sign. Once we hit Brush Creek, I started to feel better and just kept pace with the guy in front of me. I was working in the 160 HR range and it felt pretty good, even easy, and since there weren't riders stacking up behind us, I was pretty content. I made it to the Whitewater Center, still in second place, hoping to make up some time once the trail started to steepen. I was able to churn out the steep climb pretty well, but when I hit the double track up to River View, I could tell something was wrong. I went to stand up to crank out the low grade climb and my calf cramped and arms immediately started to tingle. WTF? I never get cramps and I spend enough time on my SS to be able to at least hold myself up on the bike. When I finally hit River View (where is that river view, by the way...), the only thing that was saving me was the fact that I was riding the singletrack well. When I popped out on the double track again, I still had no giddy-up and was sitting and spinning (slowly) instead of cranking. By the time I was out on the main FS road, I was already a couple of minutes down from my moderate pre-ride pace and 5 minutes off my predicted race pace. I was still hopeful though..

When I passed Chris, he said Danielle was only two minutes up. Impossible I say! (Actually I said I felt like I was crawling) My first thought was she must be having an off day, as I figured she'd be at least 10 minutes up from the pace I was going.

I plodded up the forest road and things progressively got worse. Guys kept passing me..I wondered how much longer it would take for girls to start coming by. I kept checking my rear tire, thinking it must be flat. I could barely push my middle ring and now the left side of my body was cramping up. I thought maybe if I busted into my Coke that I had at the drop station, it would make me feel better.

Let me just say that this was a highly inconvenient place to have a meltdown. I started up the Big Frog climb thinking the Coke would kick in and I would become superwoman. Nope. Inhaler puffs? Nope. I actually started to feel worse and pretty much died a slow death up the first big climb. First Ursula came by, then another girl I didn't know. I finally reached the downhill and then realized my legs were so jacked up I couldn't stand up or pedal much, so I basically just tried to stay out of everyone else's way. Namrita came by, then some others later on - I quit paying attention after a while.

From that point on, I'd get the tingles if I got my HR above 140, so I was moving at a snails pace. I had to get off my bike three times on the climb back up to the aid station. I was having serious issues and was thinking about how hard it would be for Chris to come rescue me.

I stayed at the aid station about 20 minutes, borrowing a cell phone and walking to the top of a hill to try to get reception to call Chris. I had to leave a message, so I told my friend Rob to tell Chris to come pick me up when he saw him before the last singletrack. After a few more minutes and assessing again what a pain in the ass it would be for Chris to drive down there, I got back on my bike and continued onward, thinking I would at least be making slow progress back towards the WWC.

With about 2 miles to go, the wind picked up and the thunder and lightening started. Whoopee! An exposed forest road is always where I'd like to be in those circumstances. Since Chris had to drive really carefully, I had already made it to FS 45 and was on my way down the hill when I saw him. I had already decided to bail, since I knew the last singletrack would likely kill me and the monsoon that started made the decision that much easier.

Given that my intensity was never that high, yet I was still having issues, my thought was that this whole miserable experience was diet related or heaven forbid due to a past lung inflammation problem that is resurfacing. Perhaps Thursday's Pad Thai??? Friday's guacamole?? Who knows and unfortunately I probably won't ever figure it out....though I probably won't eat the same stuff before the next race.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dirty Spokes Tribble Mill Duathlon

Since I didn't do as hard of a workout as originally planned on Thursday, my coach thought it would be good to race at an off-road duathlon this weekend to get one last bit of force and intensity work in before Cohutta. The best part was that if I raced, I'd earn two days of recovery afterwards...whoo hoo!

I had never been to Tribble Mill Park, but assumed it was similar to Blankets or Fort Yargo since I had heard it was a trail maintained by SORBA peeps. In order to keep it fun and low-key, I brought my singlespeed 29er. Format was 3 mile run, 8 mile bike, 3 mile run.

The first run hurt me more than it should have. I didn't feel nearly as spry as at the Boling Park Trail Run, but then again I wasn't at the end of a recovery week either. Here I am at the run start, in a sea of dudes, as usual.

I didn't wear my watch, but checked the splits afterwards. I think I averaged 6:38 min/mile pace..and there were some long hills, so that may have been the reason I wasn't really enjoying the run too much! It seemed like it was taking forever to complete the three miles and I was surrounded by way too much testosterone, so I was anxiously awaiting the bike leg.

Once on the bike, my legs immediately felt happy as I cranked out the first small hill and passed two riders like they were standing still. I caught a guy who was riding a good pace and rode much of the lap behind him until he overshot at turn.

My gearing was a little on the easy side for the trail, but it allowed me to rest a lot on the descents and flats, which meant I had plenty of oxygen to be one of those annoying types who rides up and starts chit-chatting to those who are in front of them. The climbs went by fast since I could crank them out, though I wish there were more of them. As I came off the bike I believe I was 8th overall and the first woman by a good bit.

I was kind of dreading the second run, since the first one didn't feel very good. Thankfully, it felt like it went by much quicker (probably the reduced exertion level) and was a lot more pleasant. I picked off one more guy and finished the day 7th overall in the men's race and 1st of the women.

This was a fun event, didn't require much pre-planning or post-race cleanup, and we were back home just after lunch. The course was well marked and the trails were fast and flowy. Best of all, it wasn't an all day endeavor, so Jayden and Grandma could come along!

She is a perfect little angel...most of the time....

And she already seems to know that cute girls have an easier time getting what they want...

She was all excited about the first run and bike, but got bored waiting for me to come in on the second run. I'm sure she was cheering for me in her dreams..

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mulberry Gap - Day 3

The day started with the usual yummy breakfast. Chris was feeling like he was getting sick and I was kind of on the fence we just did a short, easy ride before packing up and heading home.

I really enjoyed Mulberry Gap. It was great to have ride in/ride out trail access and the meals were fantastic. There were a lot more comforts than if we would have camped. We would have appreciated our cozy cabin a lot more had it rained at all! The hot tub was nice and relaxing too! Definitely two thumbs up, as the folks at Mulberry Gap know how to cater to mountain bikers.

I originally had planned on a duathlon this weekend, but if I have the slightest hint of "getting sick" I'm going to skip it and just rest and recover for Cohutta next weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mulberry Gap - Day 2

Our day started with WAY more breakfast than I should have ever considered eating right before a ride....belgian waffles w/ strawberries and bananas, turkey sausage, and scrambled eggs...mmmm yummmy! Ginni sure knows her way around the kitchen!

I met Kim and we headed up to Lake Conasauga since I had never actually seen the lake before. Not terribly exciting, but glad I finally saw it. From there we headed down Tibbs. Since the bridge on CCC Camp Rd is out and we figured they'd be working on it because it was a weekday, we went down lower Tibbs until we hit the private property gate. We did a quick check for cars, dogs, and rednecks and after affirming that the coast was clear, we climbed around the gate and tiptoed through to the road. We headed back to Mulberry Gap and Kim headed to her car, while I made a bee line for my apple dumpling from the day before.

Later that evening I did a quick hour loop from Mulberry Gap to Pinhoti 2 and back and returned just in time to catch a shower before another scrumptious dinner. The best part was the chocolate brownies and ice cream for dessert! I didn't think it was possible, but I'm pretty sure I had consumed more calories than I burned in the first two days of our stay!

Mulberry Gap - Day 1

Since we weren't checking into Mulberry Gap until the afternoon, we headed to the Ocoee Whitewater Center to ride the first singletrack section of the Cohutta 65. While we were getting ready, Chris suggested that I just ride from the WWC to Mulberry Gap, while he drove the car around on the highway. That way I'd get a good long ride in, and I'd still get my apple dumpling that Chris could pick up on the way by the Mercier Orchard Store.

The first singletrack section went by pretty quick and felt pretty easy. Funny how what used to be my endurance race pace is now my steady ride pace. Once we hit FS 221, Chris and I parted ways...I started towards Mulberry Gap and Chris went towards ThunderRock. I think he got the better end of that deal....

This ride reminded me why I didn't sign up for the Cohutta 100...I'm not really crazy about the section along Tumbling Creek Road from the WWC to Dally Gap that climbs super gradually, but goes on forever and ever and ever. I had to fight boredom off, especially since we just rode that section of road at the Blue Ridge AR three days before.

Since my long ride was a spur of the moment decision, I didn't quite have enough food and I would have given someone the $20 in my pack for a Coke by the time I got over to Jacks River Fields Campground. Sadly no one was there...

I knew I had just a little over an hour left to ride, so I filled up my bottle at the spring on the way up to Mountaintown and churned out the rest of the ride. Once I hit Potatopatch, it was a quick downhill to a hot shower and hearty dinner at Mulberry Gap.

Our dinner consisted of pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, rolls, salad, broccoli and cheese, and ice cream with fruit for dessert. It was a fantastic meal and the end to a good, hard day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blue Ridge Mtn Adventure Race

This years race start featured all three team members being dropped off in different locations and we would then converge on Horseshoe Bend Park via different modes of travel. We figured the solo paddle would be the limiting factor, so pre-race the plan was to not break a sweat on the run and bike to the park. Yeah right....

I opted for the more directionally intensive run since we didn't want James to get lost, and Kevin was the only one of us so who was proficient at paddling a canoe solo. The run started on a downhill, so it felt easy, but it seemed like the pace picked up pretty quickly. There were a couple of guys who went off the front and then a couple of girls came up to the front. By the time we hit Copper Hill, it felt like we were at 7:00 to 7:20 min/mile pace. I knew it was just a complete waste of energy, but the competitor in me couldn't stand the thought of seeing a punch of peeps in front (especially other women), so I kept my pace high, got all sweaty, and then had to stand around and wait once we got to the park. James had made it without issue as well, so it was 8:25 and all was well.

Kevin was the first paddler to arrive at the park, so we loaded up and headed out. Despite having 500+ lbs of weight in the boat, we didn't get stuck on any rocks and stayed in the fast water. The portage at the dam was a little tricky, as the water was up and there was a lot more current on the sides of the river. James took a step out of the boat and there was no footing beneath him, so he took an unexpected morning swim. Looking back, we probably could have easily run the dam since the water was up and the drop was much less than it was at Nationals a couple of years ago...but it appeared that those behind us were portaging too, so it really didn't matter. We kept the lead in our Penobscot until we hit CP2. We had to spend about two minutes searching around at the creek/RR intersection and by then a floatilla of kevlar boats had caught up to us. We still got out first but had the fleet of kevlar attack crafts right on our six. Somehow we managed to hold our own until the take out, and while we did eventually get passed by 3 kevlar boats, we maintained contact and kept within striking distance. We were 4th out of the water and then 2nd out on bikes.

Mmm...bikes - now it was our turn to dance. Within about a minute we took the lead on the bike section and quickly got out of sight. The next section of the course appeared to be the crux of the race, and had a variety of route choices and enough uncertainty to keep me up half the night. The big question was whether there was actually a trail from CP6 to CP7 and what condition it was in...

Based on pre-race planning, these were our options:

A) Ride bikes to CP5 and CP6, then come back out to the road. Ride to CP10, then CP9, then CP7 as an out and back, then ride to CP8, then continue on the singletrack ridgeline trail to pick up the bonus CP, then CP11. This eliminated the uncertainty of the "maybe trail" to CP7. I was secretly hoping that if there was a road or trail, that it was covered in a thatching of deadfall that would bring death by a thousand pokes to any teams that attempted to go through.

B)Ride bikes to CP5 and CP6. Then take a chance and pray trail continues to CP7 without some heinous bikewhack. Pick up CP7, ride to trail intersection, then pick up CP8 on foot, then ride to CP9 and CP10, then take FS Road to CP11.

I've taken gambles before and many times they haven't paid off, so we opted for Option A - hoping the conservative route might end up being the better way to go. Before I go any further, I'll just say right now that this was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

Back to the antics...Since we were just doing an out and back anyways, we dropped our bikes on the way to CP5. We picked up CP5 fairly quickly, but on the way to CP6, I somehow made a 90 degree error on my bearing and we headed up the wrong drainage. I don't know how this happened really, and in retrospect, you'd think we would just follow the creek or old roadbed..piece of cake, right? When we ended up on a ridgeline, we incorrectly assessed where we were (because there was just NO WAY we headed NE when we were supposed to be heading SE...) and reattacked into the wrong drainage. We kicked around there for a while, hoping to find a CP and trying to make sense of the map. I finally figured out where we actually were and we headed back up to the hilltop where we came from and reattacked again. The narrow ridgeline we were on looked nothing like the wide and flattish topo on the map, and I was about to bail again and just go back to CP5. Kevin convinced me to go a bit further and sure enough, there was the elusive CP6. We had just wasted 45 minutes though...ughhhh.

We ran back to our bikes and high-tailed it down the road to pick up CP10, then CP9. We then rode the out and back to CP7, knowing there was a good trail on the ridgeline. When we reached CP7, my heart sank when I saw the fantastic gravel road that came up, presumably from near CP6...double ughhhh.

So back out we went, having to see many teams coming through from the route that we did not choose, obviously following option B. After about 100 yards on the singletrack, we bailed on the idea of riding to CP8, and then just picked it up on foot and rode back to the road. After seeing the condition of the trail later on in the trek, this was probably the best decision we made all day.

We made it to the trek in 5th or 6th, feeling strong, but a bit frustrated with our route and me still wondering how I screwed up so bad at CP6. James forgot his running shoes, so he was wearing his Sidi's for the entire run, which I'm sure wasn't very pleasant. We picked up CP12 first, then the bonus CP, then CP15 and then CP14. We wasted 10 more minutes at CP14, as the plot seemed to be lower down in the reentrant, below a convergence of reentrants, rather than where it was hung along an old roadbed, further up the leftmost reentrant on the hillside.

I should know by now that this race generally involves what I call "in the ballpark nav" versus precise nav. The clues are generally more helpful in finding the points than the actual plots are on the map. Being reminded of this, we stayed on the trail to the next CP, since it was at another trail intersection. Right about the time I said, "Hey, keep an eye out for any trail intersections or old roadbeds coming in", we ran right past where the CP was hung. We hit the FS road, reassessed where we were, then attacked the CP again from the road up a rhodo-infested drainage where the point was plotted. I didn't mind crawling through the thickets, but my two giant 6'+ tall teammates were probably none too thrilled. We kicked around in some nasty $hit for about 30 minutes and about the time I was ready to raise the white flag, Kevin spotted an old roadbed. We followed it and it lead right to CP13. Another 20 feet and we were back at the same trail we had run down earlier. You have got to be f#%cking kidding me! Three ugghhhs and Enduraventure is OUT! The race gods were clearly NOT smiling down on us today!

So back down to the road and we ran it back into the bike drop, with James clicking along in his bike shoes. The only thing that made me feel better about that last CP is that another team that was near us ran right past it as well and was having to reattack the same way we did.

So we arrive back at the bikes, I think in 5th - which is amazing considering how poor our execution was on the previous two sections - then take off down the hill on our bikes. It was fun to bomb that downhill and when we hit the pavement, James had us motoring along at 30 mph..on mountain bikes! I'm happy to say that we did not have anything go horribly wrong on the last bike in, but we were a bit too far behind to catch anyone in front of us. Oh, and the ride on the RR tracks sucked a$$!

We finished 5th overall, which wasn't horrible considering how much time we left out on the course through mistakes and poor route selection. We DID have to work very hard to make up for all our hiccups, so I can't complain about not getting in a good workout.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Up Next...Blue Ridge Mtn Adventure Race

After sitting this one out last year, I am anxious to get back up to this classic event. It looks like we are going to be racing in a new area this year..or at least new for the BRMAR, which includes 3 states, or so is the rumor from Ron Zadroga, the race director. I'm feeling good, the weather is good, and life is generally good right now!

I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the weather forecast stays looking good for next week, as we're headed to North Georgia for three days of riding and relaxation. I will be packing all my rain gear though, just to ensure that the sun shines every day!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Had a nice "recovery" ride up at the Ocoee WWC yesterday. Ok, so it wasn't much recovery, but it felt good to spin the legs after Saturday's trail run. We rode the Big Frog Loop and were pleased to see that the gravel roads were in great shape. Hopefully they will stay that way until Cohutta.

I only have a couple of rides this week, as I'm racing in the Blue Ridge Mtn Adventure Race on Saturday. Guess that means I'll have to make 'em count! The weather is fabulous right now, and I'll take being sunburned over having to layer-up any day!

Next week I have a 3 day training camp scheduled in North sounded like a good reason to use some vacation time to go ride my bike, so I'm looking forward to that!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Boling Park Trail Run

So I did some cross training today and entered a trail run. If I wasn't more humble, the title of this post would be "Mountain Bike Racer Whoops up on a Bunch of Runners," because that was pretty much how the race went and I'm good and happy about it.

In pretty much every other running event I've done, I generally went out hard, then faded and got passed by runners with a more consistent pace. Knowing that I probably would't change my "Go out Hard" approach, I figured I'd push the pace on the first 1.25 miles (all flat jogging trail) and hopefully destroy and/or demoralize anyone who may have thought about chasing after me. There I am, #262, right where I wanted to be.

This maneuver worked better than expected, because after the first mile, which for me was at a 6:21 pace, I was in, not 3rd in women...3rd overall. I told Chris as I ran by that there should be more people in front of me!

I was somewhat shocked, but thankfully two guys passed me right before we turned into the singletrack, and then I thought all was well with the world again. I paced off the guy in front of me through the first singletrack, then we hit a wide open sewer line cut that included a log hurdle. (I'm not nearly as pissed off in the photo below as my expression would imply..)

One more guy passed me on the sewer line, then we hit the creek crossing and then a series of significant red clay ATV climbs. Two more guys passed me on the first big climb, but they faded shortly after and I passed them back on the next climb and never saw them again. I could run pretty much full speed on all the sketchy pine straw, even the face plant downhill, as I wore my Inov-8 orienteering shoes that have metal studs in the soles. They turned out to be a great choice and I was very happy with my shoe selection for the day.

When I hit the yellow trail singletrack, which was mostly downhill, I knew I could probably hold off any women chasers, as I was railing the corners and flying on the downhills in my magic shoes. I had a guy in front of me that was keeping a great pace, and I stayed behind him until close to the finish. I think he thought I was another guy, so he picked it up on the last quarter mile, but I maintained my pace and sailed on in just behind him.

I had held my overall position for nearly the entire race, so I was super stoked about that. I'm actually pretty happy in this photo, knowing that I wouldn't have to sprint anyone to the line.

So I finished I think 6th overall out of everyone and 1st in the women's race. The next girl was 2+ minutes back, so I guess I could have eased up, but I really enjoyed pushing myself and seeing what I was capable of. I, again, surprised myself and am very happy with how my training has been going thus far. My overall pace, according to my Garmin, was 7:10 per mile, which is a good pace considering we had some sizable hills. My mom thought I did a good job, because, as she said...I have shorter legs than most of the guys....LOL

My quads were a little stiff afterwards from the downhill pounding they took, but tomorrow's ride should loosen them right up. I'm looking forward to yet another sunny day in the mountains!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Trail Run Tomorrow

I couldn't resist signing up for a 4.5 mile trail race at Boling Park, which is less than 10 minutes away. The best part is that it will be over in less than 35 minutes and we should be back home with plenty of time to lounge in the sun. I'm hoping that I don't do anything twist an I think I'd cry if I had to stay off my bike at this point. Race report to follow!