Nationals and Beyond

Thanks Motofish for the awesome picture! 

Thanks Motofish for the awesome picture! 

If you read my last blog post, whew, what a crazy whirlwind of a season, right?

Before I get going and don't find a good spot to place this, I want to say how impressed I am with the whole production of Nationals.  The course was really top notch, I loved the elevation challenges (even if I hated it at times), the grounds beautiful, and I really did feel like I was at an event, not just a bike race.  So, thank you to USA Cycling and everyone else involved in this amazing production, you did it, and it was an incredible weekend in Asheville.

I flew out to Asheville, NC on Wednesday before the big race on Sunday.  This gave me time to prep mentally for the race and get a little time on course before the big day on Sunday.  Saturday I checked out the course, and got some openers in.  I opted to ride the course in the later afternoon while the rain was falling, that way I could get a feel for the course in the slippery conditions, since the weather was calling for rain all night.  Saturday night I did my usual night before the race - prep, and tried to hit the pillow early.  I really struggled with sleep this night, I always blame it on the moon, but I tossed and turned all night.  I did my usual pre-race morning prep, ate the usual breakfast, packed my bags and headed to the course.  

Myself, and a handful of other Elite Women jumped on course around 12, trying to see course conditions not so close to our race time (since our official training time was at 130pm, 1 hour prior to the start of our race).  The course was pretty slick at this time, so it gave me a good idea of what the conditions could be like when we raced.  I still wanted to ride at 130 to see if anything changed, and when that time came around, boy had the course changed.  The slick dried out, and the course was getting pretty fast, soggy in sections, big mud puddles by the pits from the previous pressure washings, but that was it in terms of mud.  I would say the muddiest and slickest sections included the run ups (filling all our shoes with mud and grass) and the puddles near the pits.  

I knew I wanted to have a good start, but sometimes I need to tell myself to calm down and not take the hole shot!!!  Perhaps I'm really good at blowing my wad in the first 30 seconds.  I was a little concerned with the small camel hump, not sure it was going to cause a crash or not, so I opted to avoid that situation all together.  After the first lap I had an idea my race was going to get ugly.  I was really struggling to turn the pedals around on the climbs, I was having trouble accelerating out of the corners, and I was having issues getting into my pedals (which I imagine most if not all of us did) and then got dropped in the group I was riding in.  Got caught by the next couple of riders, and after that lap (with 2 to go) my legs went into spaz mode.  Both quads started to seriously cramp, the run ups became walk ups and if I was having trouble finding my pedals in the previous laps, well good luck trying to get into the pedals now.  

I'm not sure what went wrong.  My body failed me at the time I needed it most, I was (and still am) so incredibly crushed by my race.  After being home for a couple of days and reflecting back at my race, I can see that not only did I physically break down, but I mentally failed myself.  Yes, my quads cramped, and sometimes its nearly impossible to push through such pain, but I let it get to me, and I let it get to me from the very beginning.  Looking back at that race and seeing where I fell off the pace, I wonder if I mentally gave up then, knowing exactly with my placement I wasn't going to make the Worlds Team.  I went into this season with a goal (well lots) and I feel so discouraged and let down that I couldn't accomplish that one goal.   

Since last year, I knew I wanted to make the Worlds Team in 2016, I thought about it all Spring, all Summer, and all into the CX season.  I made 2 trips to Belgium to show my commitment to that goal.  Sure, my racing over there wasn't spectacular and I'm not afraid to say it, but it doesn't mean I can't be disappointed.  When I came home from Belgium after Christmas I did what everyone told me to do, rest as much as possible, and prep for Nationals.  Going into Nationals this year I was mentally ready, I didn't feel mentally fatigued, burnt out or anything.  I really felt prepared, to have such a race happen like it did, is defeating.  

I came home from Nationals ready to rest hard and eat lots and plan a vacation to Hawaii, when I received an email asking if I was taking my start spot at Hoogerheide.  That's when the wheels turned, and I realized I hadn't completely checked out from racing yet, the thought of racing one more World Cup got me REALLY excited, and with that, I go fight for one last race this year.  Sure it's a long way to travel to 1 race when (unlike everyone else there) I won't be racing Worlds, but I'm excited for one last hurrah and I know that whatever I do, I'm doing it for me.  I'm not racing to try and make the Worlds team, I'm not racing to impress anyone, I'm racing because I want to.  I'm racing this last race for me, and I couldn't be more ready.  

Have you heard? Cross is here.

Welcome to the 2015/2016 Cyclocross season, it has arrived!

I've been kind of purposely not blogging.  I haven't figured out a good topic, no, how about a GREAT topic.  Cyclocross is always a GREAT topic, so lets talk CX.  

This summer was a crazy blur of work, training, and putting together my sponsors and program for the year.  I was extremely late to the "get your sponsor" game, due to topics I don't need to discuss on the World Wide Web, but I am extremely excited to be working with the same sponsors from last year, plus a couple of new ones.  I love having a one on one relationship with my sponsors, I love talking directly to them and thanking them for everything they do.  I love that I trust my sponsors and their product, that when I'm making a sales pitch to someone, I truly and honestly believe they should use x, y, z of my sponsors.  

But Courtenay, who ARE your sponsors?  Lets review, plus one comment on why I LOVE each product:

Rock Lobster (aka Paul Sadoff):  hands down, my favorite bike (next to my Transition Scout) to ride.  Why I love Paul's bikes, they fit me.  #1, I'm 5'3 (maybe 5'3.5), I'm short, stock bikes, they aren't made for short people, and they come with a lot of toe overlap with the front wheel (in my experience) or a top tube that is just too long for me.  Plus, my bike is hand made in the USA, Santa Cruz, CA to be exact.  I love repping my Rock Lobster frames across the Nation and Globe. In a sea of carbon, my aluminum handmade bike, gets the job done, and it gets the job done FAST.  Plus, Paul's bikes are beautiful and sometimes when I'm racing people sing "Rock Lobster" to me.  

American Classic Wheels:  Why I love these wheels?  Aside from the company being wonderful and incredibly good people, their light and durable wheels, that spin up really fast.  They handle anything form rough to smooth terrain and take it like a champ!

Lizard Skins:  Bar tape, crusher!  I LOVE this bar tape, why?  For starts I use the DSP 2.5 mm bar tape, it has lots of cushion when going over any bumpy terrain, but my absolutely favorite part about this bar tape, when it rains, it's grippy and it's self cleaning!  The bar tape ACTUALLY gets cleaner in the rain.  Stop by your local bike shop and buy a roll to see how awesome it is for yourself.  If you live in Bellingham, Bikesport carries it.  

KASK: My favorite helmet supplier.  Why I love their helmets?  They're the most comfortable helmet I have ever worn, and I've worn quite a few helmets.  The retention system is really amazing, you can adjust the back system to place it wherever on your head is the most comfortable and then tighten it from there.  The chin strap?  It's leather, only the best for this fine Italian company.  The helmets also come in a large variety of colors, which makes it a lot of fun when trying to find the right helmet to match your team kit!  I would say one of the best features about the KASK helmets, they don't dent my head like other helmets I have worn!  Big thumbs up from me!

WD40 Bike:  Only the best in bike cleaning products (and once again, people).  This is a small company run down in Southern California.  I know most of you know about WD40 Bike, because they spend their time cleaning your bikes at the biggest and most fun events on the UCI CX Calendar (plus other events around the US during the other times of the year).  They don't mess around with their water based products, follow instructions and your bikes will be sparkly clean and your chains lubed well!  My favorite part?  Smell their chain lube, it's something out of an Axe commercial.  

Borah Teamwear:  If you're looking for a new clothing company for your local team, may I suggest Borah Teamwear?  But Courtenay, you HAVE to say that.  Remember how I said I use product I trust and believe in?  This company has awed me in SO many ways.  A (once again) hand made product in the USA (Wisconsin to be exact) with the best customer service.  I can't even put into words how amazing of an experience I had producing my kit with Borah.  Their turn around was also incredibly fast, maybe 3 weeks, 4 at most.  The quality of their clothing is nothing but top notch, seriously.  I'm in love with their bib shorts, which I'm REALLY picky about, they fit well, are flattering, and their powerband actually stays down on my leg!  If you want to check out some of their clothing pieces, find me at a race and I would be glad to show it off.  Did I mention how much I love the way my kit turned out?  They nailed it!  

Fizik:  Bars, stems, seat posts, and saddles have never felt so good before.  I'm super excited to running with Fizik, and their saddles keep my backside happy.  

TRP:  Have you seen the new TRP thru axle forks?  Next time you see my bikes, look at the fork, holy smokes they are beautiful!  Not only is TRP supplying me with some top notch forks, but also I will be running the Sprye SLC for all my braking needs.  I'm digging the braking predictability with the disc breaks, so far, so good!

Bikesport:  Just your friendly local Bellingham bike shop which will provide me with some awesome overhaul and bike needs throughout the season.  Stop into Bikesport for any and all of your biking needs, they have a lovely collection of items and great customer service.  

Dave Pearson:  Just your not so average friend who has raced cross forever and wants me to do well, so he has adapted the task of tire gluer, product grabber, and the make sure you bike is built guy.  He's all around pretty awesome.  

Other supporters include (not in any particular order):

Clement cycling, Stages Cycling, Smith OpticsGE Capital, Alliant, United Healthcare, Zones, Xelleration, Digipen, Meltzer Group, The Moore Hotel, Kibble and Prentice, and Motofish.  

If you see me at the races please be sure to say hello!  I am a little bit of a gypsy bike racer, so my home base does change for every race, but don't be shy, find me, say hello!  If you have any product questions feel free to drop me a message on my contact me page, I love answering peoples questions, or even just a friendly hello works too!

Thank you for always supporting me, following a long, and cheering from the side.  

East Coast Post #3, the Grand Finale

Lets say this.  I've had a half blog post written.  I've been racing so much this year I'm bored of writing race updates.  I don't know if it's the weekly update I send to my sponsors, but readers, you can't possibly want to read a boring race report every race, do you?  And not to mention I'm SO behind, that I might as well tell you this:

I finished up my East Coast trip in Rochester, NY.  I had the chance to ride around along the Erie Canal, a small piece of US history.  Aside from racing, that might have been the highlight of the weekend!  Everything seems to have come together this particular weekend.  I'm sure lots of you watched the races online, or watched the highlights.  On day #1 I started out hot, tried to stay consistent and hold the pace at the front, fell back and finished 3rd.  It was my best finish yet for a C1 event and I couldn't have been happier with it!  It helped give me the confidence I needed to believe that I can ride in the front of the race.  Sunday my legs told me I put in a really hard effort on day #1 and I was able to hold on to a 4th place finish.  

Instead of boring you with the play by play and recap from this particular weekend, how about we finish with some photos.  

There always has to be a photo with the Rock Lobster

cute "village" I stayed in

The most awesome rental car ever!

So much stoke on this podium!  First C1 podium!  Photo Credit: Dave McElwaine