East Coast Part #3: Providence Cyclocross Festival

What a blur!  What a weekend!  What a trip! This weekend was a serious roller coaster of emotion...all over.  With the saddening passing of Amy Dombroski you could tell in the air people were sad and doing the best they could to hold in their emotions.  While I was never given the opportunity to meet or know Amy, it's very clear how much of an impact she made on the cycling community as a whole.  My condolences go out to her friends and family, she will always  be remembered and truly missed.

Saturday  was welcomed once again by the amazing crew from Gloucester.  They are the best East Coast family out there!  Thank you, once again!  Not only was I welcomed by my new family, but also warm temps and sunny skies, yet again another dry race!  As much as I love mud (which I do because it's a lot more fun to race in), sometimes I welcome the dry weather because it's such an easier clean up, and I know how I could potentially fare against the other women!  With mud, there is this sense of mystery, I don't know how everyone else handles their bike in mud in comparisons to myself.  Last year, I didn't get to race many UCI races in the mud, I believe the only race was in LA, what a shock!!!!!  So, even though I love the mud for cross, I can't lie and say I wasn't disappointed with another sunny day (I mean another suffer fest).  After my first lap on course I knew I needed to get a 2nd lap in so I could dial down the lines, the course, and all those corners!

Once again I lined up 2nd row and had a terrible start.  I think by the first couple of turns I was 15-20 spots back.  I fought my way through the girls and ended up in a group of 4 by the end of the first lap.  Going into the 2nd lap we gained another rider, and then another, so our group of 4 turned into a group of 6 and I wasn't into that.  The only thing that kept running through my head as we were riding in this little group was "the bigger the group the more people I have to contend at the end and the more rubber-bandy-feeling this race is going to be".  I wanted to go through each turn at my pace and through my line and all these wheels in front of me where in my way!  Guess what I decided to do?  I attacked the group at one of the only straight sections on course!   Yea that's right, I used some individual tactics that day, and once I realized I had a gap, I pushed harder to make it a little bigger!  Then I went through the start finish and saw "3 to go" and my first thought was (excuse my language) "FUCK, I should have thought about this before I made that attack to solo the rest of this race".  I didn't think about how many more laps I had to do, so I started regretting my decision to ditch the group.  Basically I worked my tail feather off to hold off the group-o and finished in 10th!  Top 10 on a C1, no complaints here!

Sunday was a different story, I woke up in a total funk.  Lets back track to Saturday...post race I was happy with my result, as the night went on I started to get down on myself, for multiple reasons I wont list here.  So fast forward back to Sunday morning.  I woke up in a funk, missed home, missed my husband, didn't want to race.  My head wasn't there, I sat in my hotel bed holding back tears from loneliness and homesickness.  My head was in no state to race.  I decided to walk over to the window to see what the weather was doing...it was pouring.  That's right folks, pouring rain all morning long.  While I welcomed the rain because sliping and sliding in the mud is always lots of fun, it made me nervous.

Once at the course I learned that just because it's raining 6 miles down the road, doesn't mean it was raining everywhere else.  The course was hardly muddy!!!  Yes, there where slippery sections when I arrive, but there was also still dust!!!  I did one pre-ride (maybe it was 2?) as close to my race as I could since I knew conditions where going to change by the time I raced.  Turns out the course wasn't all that slippery or muddy.  Turns out, the course was slightly tacky.  I went about race this day in a very different manner.  My head wasn't there, and I just didn't care.  I was lucky enough to line up behind Katie Compton, so I knew my start coudln't be THAT bad!  I had a great start, made the first couple turns in the top ten.  Rode with a groupp-o that turns out was slowing me down, attacked the group in a techy section and rode forth.  Caught 2 more girls up the way from me, rode with them for a lap, attacked them, and then guess waht...I was in 5th.  From here I rode in 5th until the 2nd to last turn of the race when Meredith Miller caught me.  I rode her wheel for the last turn and onto the pavement when all of the sudden...she accelerated and turns out...I didn't!!!  I didn't have th response in my legs for that power, so I came across in 6th.  6th place!  6th place in a very stacked field, I was extremly happy!!!  I guess all I need is an "I don't care attitude" and a little mud.  A lot of the mud wasn't all that slippery, just a couple of sections, then the rest was either dry or tacky, I would actually say they where quite fantastic conditions.  I got done with the race a very happy girl!

I'm so thankful for my husband who tried to cheer me up and is always rooting for me no matter where I am.  For Dave who told me to ride like no one cares, and for all my supporters back home.  Every weekend I feel your energy and I am so grateful to have such a loving community of people at home.

East Coast Part #2: The life of a "professional" bike racer.

I'm going to be honest when I say this.  If I didn't have to work and all I had to do was train, rest, and race, I would be completely satisfied.  This last week hanging out on the East Coast in Rye, NH has reminded me why professional racers go fast.  Honestly, I think those of us who work should be given a lot more props then those who don't work, and for those who don't work...you should go fast...all the freakin' time..all you have to do is train, rest, and race (Okay I know it's not THAT easy)!!!!!  Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I wont quit my job, but certainly would love to cut back my hours, but I can't because I need money to pay for this damn sport I'm in.  It makes me wonder if those I'm racing against realize how much I spend (and you my readers have donated) out of my/our pocket book.  For those who are on teams and have never done this on their own, they don't know what it's like and how difficult it is!  You know what else is hard?  Not knowing many of the competitors I'm racing against, not knowing the media, or anyone around for that matter.  I feel like I'm this little star working for brightness trying to find her place.  While I am so perfectly content being a lone, sometimes I want a friend with me.  I want someone to walk around with and talk about the race, the best part of the course, how much fun we had, or didn't have, where we could have worked harder, or why for some reason after 5 laps I just couldn't manage to perfect that one corner.  It's not too much to ask for is it? Okay, enough with the sad talk, let me tell you how awesome it was to forget about work, train on the seacoast, and live with some awesome hosts (by far the best I have had).

Basically, Thursday and Friday I was in a coma from the red eye flight and time change, Saturday and Sunday I raced, so Monday I relaxed.  I was left a vehicle in the event I wanted to go anywhere, so I decided to check out Portsmouth, which was about 9 miles away from where I was staying.  This little seacoast town was SO cute!  It reminded me a lot of Fairhaven back home.  Brick buildings, cute shops, everything adorable.  I did some shopping and found myself a new pair of Seven Jeans (as if I needed a new pair).  My justification for my jean shopping was:

  1. No tax in New Hampshire
  2. I raced really hard over the weekend and earned $200 in prize money, so I really deserved the new jeans.
  3. I hadn't bought new jeans in a year
  4. My jeans last me a long time since I hardly wear them because I'm in spandex 90% of my life.


Later that morning I received a text and my awesome hosts asked if I wanted to go for an easy spin down their RailTrail (I would compare it to the Interurban in Bellingham, only pancake flat).  It was a beautiful day, and I couldn't say no to that, so all three of us rolled out to the trail in the late afternoon, spun down the trail, visited and enjoyed the beauty of the color changing trees.  Spin out day done and it felt SO good!

Tuesday, Jeff (the husband host who owns the shop) has the day off, so I took my time getting out of bed (completely slept in until 9am), ate a little breakfast and then we rode into Portsmouth (SO CUTE) and sipped on coffee and ate delicious baked goods and rode home, where I completed training day #1 of the week.  It felt soo good to ride down the seacoast and the scenery is just fantastic, and did I menage how pancake flat it was?  The best part after being done with training?  I get to rest!  I didn't have to rush off to work or stress about being somewhere, I literally got to sit on my ass.  Wednesday was kind of like Tuesday, slept in, trained and had a generally awesome time, and then rested some more!  Man, this no working thing is amazing.  Training day #2 completed!

Guess what I did Thursday?  I slept in till 9.  I had a very relaxing morning and then decided an awesome spin to the beach to hang out would be the perfect way to spend my day.  And that's just what I did, cruised around the neighborhoods, sat at the beach and drank coffee.  My perfect day.  Friday was the usual "open the legs up" day and pack up for the weekend because Providence, RI isn't close to Rye, NH and I was leaving bright and early for the races on Saturday morning and staying the night there on Saturday night.

Here is what I learned after a week of training, resting, and NO work!  IT'S THE LIFE!  I seriously feel like my training is such a higher quality when I was able to get the proper amount of sleep and rest needed to allow my body to re-cooperate after training.  Every day was a solid day of riding that I know in a couple of weeks will really pay off.  I never thought my work was that exhausting until my chiropractor pointed it out to me.  He pointed out to me how active I am throughout the day and how the line of work I am in can be very tiring and it's important that I get the proper amount of rest and sleep every day so my body can rebuild.  He's so smart.  Now, about that sponsorship, who wants to sponsor me?  :-)

Providence race recap next up!


East Coast Part #1: from lows to highs.

IMG_0595 As most of everyone knows, I travelled to the East Coast for two whole weeks to do some bike racing!  Really, the thing that brought me out here was seeing pictures and videos from the races last year and I thought "wow look at all that mud, I want to race there".  So, when planning my race schedule I knew a trip out East was a MUST!  The only problem was the whole financial thing, truthfully I shouldn't be spending my money on plane tickets and luggage to race my bike as a "hobby".  At the end of August I looked up tickets and saw round trip I could fly to Boston and back for about $350.  I sat on this for awhile, I ho hummed over the whole thing, and then one morning before work I shut my eyes, bit my tongue and purchased the tickets with the thought "these tickets aren't going to get any cheaper".  I decided to take a risk hoping that somewhere along the way I would be able to do some fundraising to cover the costs of the ticket (which thank you to all your generosity, it has been covered).

My dear and ever so excited friend Dave P. set me up with some host housing in New Hampshire.  After re-organizing myself from Vegas I ended up unpacking just to pack again and take a red eye flight to Boston on Wednesday night.  Thank goodness for Big Daddy McFadden, who flies like it's going out of style, he gave me all the tips and tricks to sleeping on a plane and getting on East Coast time STAT.  Since I was trying to find the cheapest tickets possible, I booked a red eye flight out of Seattle for Wednesday night.  My flight went pretty well, I was somewhere in that half-ass sleep mode, and then all of the sudden we were landing.  When I booked my ticket I envisioned empty rows after empty rows, thinking "who in their right mind takes a red eye", so I figured I would have 3 seats to stretch out and sleep on.  Turns out I was dreaming up a false reality and everyone else is just as cheap as I am, the flight was 100% full and any form of stretching and real sleep, well that didn't happen.  We landed in Boston just as the sun was cresting out of the Atlantic Ocean, which was the first for me to see.

In a comatose state after exiting the plane, I found my luggage, which I am sure is a site to see for spectators around me.  Picture this....one bike box, one checked bag (not small by any means),  one carry on messenger bag and one little person to carry it all, I'm sure it's quite something to witness.  I sat around the airport entertaining people with all my luggage, and waited for the bus to come pick me up, only to wait at the bus station for my host housing to then officially pick me up!  After being picked up we went directly to the bike shop that they own (right on!) to put together my bike.  I so wish that I remembered how to put my bike back together, because that morning was one for the books.  I was lacking in sleep, brains, and any kind of confidence.  I couldn't put my derailuer back on correctly and then once someone helped me put it on, I couldn't get it to shift into all the gears.  So in my Courtenay manner I sat there twisting the barrel, when inwalks who...not going to say names but our convo went something like this:

"Wow, you're doing your own mechanic work"

"yea...and I'm having issues"

"You need a mechanic with you.  Don't you think it's kind of...like...low class to work on your own bike"

"...um...well...you gotta do what you gotta do"

I had this joke with my dad before I was married, saying how my income was low class, and I was low class (thanks Chris for putting us in the middle class category now).  I called myself low class because my income is minuscule, but my dad always corrected me, saying I wasn't low class.  So to actually be called low class, while I was sleep deprived, and while I am traveling on my own (which has it's own issues in itself and is very difficult), well that was a low blow and left me in tears, not the best way tostart the trip.  Thankfully after this I was able to grab some lunch and go take a nap to catch back up on some lost sleep.


Lets fast forward to race day on the East Coast.  Here is what I noticed...not much is different on the East Coast versus West Coast.  A cyclocross community is a cyclocross community no matter where you are, and people will take you under their wings no matter who you are.  I was welcomed with open arms, like I was one of their own, to the Gus'/Raleigh Cyclocross team for the weekend.  Everyone was so friendly and inviting, I felt like I was right at home, thanks guys!!!  I can't say how appreciative I am for all of their help, cheers, and general awesomeness.  I even found myself a mechanic that could pit me for me, and he was the best.  I asked him if he could come home with me and travel to all the races, but I guess he has a job or something?  He did everything and was the most fantastic person to have around for the weekend (well everyone was, but he helped a lot)!  Thank You Erin!  Jeff (the owner of Gus') was even kind enough to lend me a demo bike from the shop as a pit bike, incase something went terribly wrong.

Remember how last year I travelled and raced around to get UCI points, well not only where those awesome for Nationals, but this year I got a 2nd row call up.  Pretty awesome if you ask me!  So we lined up under the bright sunny sky and warm air (oh and a very dusty course) and started  up a nice long pavement section with a right hander onto the grass.  The first day I thought I was being all sly and moved up the right side on the pavement only to find out why no one was moving up the right side....I went from about 5th/6th wheel to....I don't know top 15/20 in the blink of an eye.  I was swarmed by riders and before I knew it I was behind a line of people.  I spent the rest of the race chasing, attacking, smiling, and having a good time, but when I look back on the ride, I know where I missed my chance and where I let the wheel in front of me go.  Not a good idea!  Must stay attached to wheels.  On the last lap I realized I had moved myself up to 7th place.  The only thing I would change about Saturday's race would be...concentrate, focus, and race harder.  I tend to get distracted by the spectators and when they say stuff to me....I want to respond.  Must...Focus...More.  I finished 7th.  POINTS!

The following day I decided I wasn't going to move up the right side and I wouldn't get pinched on the right hander.  But still somehow I found myself swarmed by riders and once again spent the race chasing hard and working on staying on the wheel in front of me.  Every time the wheel in front of me got gapped off I would have to move around the rider and find those wheels in the front!!!  Then...I realized I was in the chase group!!!  YEA!  There where 2 riders up the course riding much faster than myself and I was doing everything I could to hang onto and race against the gals in my group.  One of the gals was able to gap us, so now we were racing for 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th.  I tried really hard to get in front of the gals and not get gapped off their wheels, made up some time thru the barriers, but turns out the other 3 where much faster for the up hill finish then myself.  I lost the finish in my group of 4 and finished 7th, once again.  MORE POINTS!


The highlight of my weekend was being interviewed for the first time (do I really sound like that)?  I then realized being interviewed post race is really difficult, I kind of get race brain and can't think properly!


I am extremely thankful for everyone and their help to get me here!  I thank my cyclocross community in Seattle and I thank the new cyclocross family I met on the East Coast.  I am (as always) stoked on my Mad Fiber wheels and I super duper dig my PDX Clement tires.


The bright lights of Vegas

Vegas Vegas


I could do with not going to Vegas again, but honestly I will probably get lured into going to Vegas again.

That city, the lights, the traffic, the people, the chaos, it stresses me out!!!  Last year when Chris and I went to Vegas we left on Monday and returned home on Thursday, that was too much time in Vegas.  We said the way to go would be head on Tuesday and come home on Friday, so you could be serious before the race and then play after the race.  Well, Chris wanted to go, and I wanted Chris to go, but he could only go if we returned home on Thursday so he could go to work Thursday evening.  Yes, we left on Tuesday morning and returned home on Thursday and we both went to work at 4:30pm on Thursday after we returned home from Vegas.  The life we choose to live...

Back to Vegas, I don't want to go back to Vegas.

We arrive Tuesday afternoon, did the whole rent-a-car thing put the bikes together to get a good spin in for the afternoon.  Turns out I have never ridden in such windy weather before.  Just when I thought Bellingham was windy, let me tell you how windy our ride was.  I think averaged 8 or 9mph heading out, and then coming back we were coasting at 30mph.  Probably not the best "spin" out ride.  Before I knew it, it was Wednesday and 100 degrees.  It's so freakin' hot and dry in Vegas, why would you live there?!!  Anyways, I spent Wednesday prepping for the race that night, which means napping and laying down on the couch and staying out of the sunshine!  We headed out to the races around 5pm, which gave me a chance to watch Chris race the Single Speed race and take 2nd!  Yay, go husband!

As the sun set and moon rose the lights turned on and it was time for me to get ready to race!  I hopped onto a trainer to warm up and my legs felt...totally dead.  Nothing felt right, so I mentally prepared to have an ugly race.  Once the race got started my legs didn't feel as bad as I thought they would, but still lacked the snap I wish I had.  I hung in front group (along with 30 other women) and felt rather comfortable, my breathing was under control and my legs didn't feel like they wanted to die (yet).  I went from 4th wheel to....10th wheel in 1 turn and I was quickly reminded why I suck at road racing!  I can't hold my position to save my life!  No need to do a lap by lap review of the race (mostly because I don't remember every lap and it's boring).  I did my best to hang as long as I could, I really wanted a top 10 finish, but that result wasn't in the legs for the day and I finished 11th.  I'm pretty happy with how my race went, the field was stacked with awesome riders and I managed to pull out an 11th place (2 spots better than last year).  Of course I can always think of places in the race where it could have gone better, but it didn't, so no dwelling on the past!

I'm very grateful to be where I am in my racing and I hope to only get stronger and faster.

Thursday morning Chris and I packed the car up and drove to the airport and headed home, sleep deprived and everything!  I think I spent the next 3 days catching up on my sleep!

Next up was a fun local race at home and then a flight out East to race Gloucester and Providence.  Recaps soon!

Starcrossed and all of its lessons

Have I ever mentioned how much I love racing in the dark?  I am pretty sure racing in the night under the lights is my all time favorite type of racing.   Come to think of it, I believe some of my best results have come from me racing in the dark.  

I know it has been far too long since I last posted an update about my life, so why not talk racing.  First things first, I never mentioned my team!  I'm racing for Rock Lobster, out of Santa Cruz, California. I was waiting to make this announcement until I received my bikes so I could post pretty pictures, but I don't have those yet and I want to share my joy with all of you!  I feel so lucky and privileged to get to race with such an awesome group of people on such awesome and beautiful bikes.


It is pretty safe to say, cyclocross season is here and I'm ready to rock. I have my first race out of the way along with my first UCI race done!  My debut race this season was the MFG opener at Big Finn Hill in Kirkland, and I barely squeezed out a win in front of my pal Jess, who is stronger than ever and has been working hard on improving her techy skills, and it shows!  I then raced the Men Cat3 race to finish a solid 13th of 50, pretty good. I'm glad I raced the double race day, as it cleared out the cob webs from my lungs and got my legs under me for Starcrossed the following weekend!


No matter how much anxiety racing causes me, I still go back for more. I won't lie and say the past month I have thought about quitting and taking the easy way out and changing my lifestyle from a bike racer to.....well.....something else.  I ask myself, is all this anxiety worth it?  Is the pressure worth it?  I then quickly remind myself, abso-freakin-lutely.  The spectators, the silliness, the pain cave, the fans, the pros, the achievement, the ability to push myself beyond the imaginable, is all worth it.  This is me, this is what I want, this is what I'm going for.  To answer my question "is the anxiety worth it"?  The four days of anxiety in my chest, the rapid heart beat, the self talk, the day dreams of racing wondering how I will match up, it's all so worth it.  I am so lucky to be where I am today.


Starcrossed.  The anxiety. The line up. The front row.


I had a great start, second wheel after the first turn, stayed second or third wheel for the first half of the race. I realized, I can do this, I can rock this freakin' sport.  After about 25 minutes the front groupo dwindled down to 3, then it was 2, myself and Gabby Day (erg, I heard she got married....).  A little before 2 laps to go Gabby's crazy strong legs, superwoman lungs, and incredible cross skills out powered me.  Behind me about 15 seconds was a three (then two women) groupo chasing hard!  I knew the best I could do was hold them off, since with every turn Gabby was putting seconds into me, she wasn't catchable.  I spent the last two laps of the race pressing hard, trying not to crack, doing my best to hold off a fast charging Mical Dyck and Sue Butler.  I came across the line in 2nd, barely holding Mical off (6 seconds)!


A few things to highlight from race night. First things first, the crowds, the cheering, the people, my homies, my pals, my family!!!  My hometown competitors and their children yelling my name, Alex over the mic, the beer garden spectators, people yelling split times.  Every


where along the course someone was yelling my name and cheering for me.  YOU are the reason I can keep going and keep pressing on, so thank you. Thank you to everyone for all your continued support!!!


Secondly, I feel so lucky to have been at the front of this race. In the 45 minutes of racing I learned SO much about racing, and about my racing!  I have Gabby to thank for this (and she probably has no idea)!  First of all, I don't pedal enough. Never stop pedaling, always press on.  I realized I was coasting on some of the bumpy stuff, and that's silly because every time you don't pedal, you lose a second, before you know it, you're gapped.  Pedal through turns, I need to work on pedaling through turns.  I also need to work on going harder when I am already going hard.  There's a very large difference between a World Cup racer and myself when it comes to cross specific skills. Things to work on, be smooth and be fast.  Gabby was off her bike and on her bike in one fair swoop, extremely smooth and very talented, I'm so lucky to have had the chance to race with her, it showed me things I need to work on that racing locally doesn't do.




Since a disappointing race at nationals last year I have wanted to come back with vengeance this season, get better results, and find a sponsor and a team.  The best thing I knew I had to do to take it up a level was hire a coach, so I'm happy to say Kristi Berg has taken on the task to help me this season, we have been working together since August and I am so excited to see how the rest of the season will pan out.  She knows her stuff and is such a positive person to be around, I can already tell she is going to help drastically with rest and specific workouts, mid season peaks, and  nationals.  Thank you Kristi!!!!!!!!




The following day was Chris's and my 1 year anniversary.  So naturally, we had the breakfast of champions....cake and coffee.  MMMMMMMMMMMM


Dear Blog Readers, Updates on how the beginning of the CX season is going will be here soon, I promise!  This is a crazy life I'm living right now and I have finally set aside some time to sit at my computer (I should be making dinner, I'm starving)!

First things first, I am SO excited and thrilled to be racing the UCI calendar this year (once again).  Although I wont be hitting a race every single weekend (which is a good thing), I will be trying to get to as many races as possible.  This year I am lucky enough to ride with the Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster team out of Santa Cruz, California!  They are a fantastic group of awesome riders and I feel so blessed to be welcome to the team!  I also get the privilege of riding a custom Rock Lobster frame! I am SO stoked for this!

Although I have found a team to ride for that also races at the UCI level, the financial support necessary to get to the races is extremely limited.  I have had a couple people generously donate some miles, but aside from that most everything will be coming from my pocket.  I am not good at asking people for things, let alone money, so I created a simple fundraiser website to spread the word about getting me to UCI races.  Want to help?  The link is:


With this, I have discovered how amazing my cyclocross community is.  Within 24 hours I had more people donating $$ than I ever thought possible.  I can't even thank you enough for helping me out a long the way, your generosity means more than words can explain.  I have decided to go all in this year, and if I can't find any sponsorship for next year, I'm all out.  I can't continue to ask people for help, I'm given a 2nd chance this year to follow my dreams and I hope that this year something good will come of it.  Thank you everyone for your continued support of my racing endeavors, thank you to my husband for helping me and allowing me to be gone for weeks at a time.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have also teamed up with Ryan Rickerts of the Cascade Cyclocross Series and I am going to help him with one of his races over the weekend of THe Cross Border Clash (Nov. 2nd and 3rd).  We are hoping for a beer garden and raffle, and other fun things.  Mark your calendar now, because I promise the course is fantastic and you will love every part of the day!!!!

Cyclocross WHAAAA?! It's coming my friends!

Okay, let me describe to you the name of this post.  I like to come up with weird and creative post titles, that way, you want to read my blog.  It works right? Enough of that. Let me tell you what has been up in my department of things, you know, other than crashing and not being able to mountain bike!  Good news is, I'm back on my mountain bike, thanks to...you guessed it!!!  My trusty chiropractor.  Seriously amazing, one day I'm in the pain, the next day it's gone.

I'm side tracked.

An update on my future, my cyclocross "career" <---I'm funny right?  I have been (half heartedly) working on this coming season.  I had my feelings, my dreams, and my confidence completely crushed back in June.  No need to mention names, basically I was lied to, straight to my face, by someone in the industry, and what I learned is this, trust no one but yourself until you see the final product.  It's easy to say "yes, I can do that", "yes, I want you", but the follow through apparently is the hardest part.  It has been over a month, and I still think about this and it always makes me second guess my self and my abilities, thinking, perhaps I'm just not that good.  So, without the help of someone who claimed they would "take care of me", I'm venturing forward with the help of my dear friend Dave who will take care of me!  So far for the season I have some great companies stepping up on the plate to help me:

Mad Fiber is once again on board, this time I will have 2 pairs of wheels!  I can't describe to you how excited I am to be able to ride the Mad Fiber wheels again.  I can seriously feel a difference when I ride the wheels, they are first and foremost extremely light, which is huge in CX.  Because they are light, they spin up really fast and allow for great acceleration out of the corners.  AND on a nice bumpy course, they take the bump right out of it and I glide over the top of the bumps (that's actually probably because of my amazing ninja skills......jk, it's the wheels).

What good are wheels without tires?  Donn Kellogg at Clement (also the Raleigh-Clement team director) has  stepped up to the plate to equip me with some superior traction on my Mad Fiber wheels PLUS some to train with.  Once I get on the tires I will have more to say, but for now I will say this: I hear from numerous sources that these tires rock, so I'm pretty stoked to be lucky enough to ride on some Clement tires for the season.

Clif.  I have boasted about Clif for quite some time now, they take care of all my nutritional needs while riding.  Have I mentioned to you all the product that Clif has?  Many people don't realize this, but Clif offers much more than just a Clif Bar, did you know they own Luna as well?  Luna makes some pretty tasty treats for women, but men can have them too!  My favorite Clif products include their Mojo Bars and Shot Blocks.  I'm currently obsessed with the Margarita and Strawberry flavored Shot Blocks.

Bike.  This is not ready to be mentioned yet, but I will tell you soon enough.

The biggest problem and challenge these days is the financial part of racing.  Any readers out there have any solutions for rinding financial sponsorship?!

ALSO, I decided I need a coach, so I set myself forth and am starting with some coaching.  So far I have made it this far just doing my own thing.  And when  say doing my own thing, I literally mean riding my bike when I want to and fast or slow when I want to.  I have never really followed any sort of training plan, so I decided it was time to get serious, so I'm putting my game face on and I'm doing this!

In the mean time, look what I did over the weekend!  Newhalem to Washington Pass and back to Newhalem.  85 miles with 7500ish feet of climbing in the beautiful North Cascades.  This is what I thrive on, beautiful riding in the sunshine.  I'm so lucky.


A reason to cross train

As you may know (if you read my about me section) I'm well versed in the education of Exercise Science.  I know all about cross training (and I don't mean cyclocross training), over training, burn out, and the like.  Basically, I'm here to tell you why it's good to be strong, erg, I mean why it's good to cross train.  Lets start with the basics, what is cross training? I'm a cyclist, so I spend majority of my days riding bicycles.  Riding bikes rocks, it's hip, it's fun, it's active.  If the only thing I ever did was ride bikes I would have multiple broken bones, arms the size of.....a broom stick, weak hips, knee pain, internally rotated (worse then they already are) shoulders, a rounded back, low back pain, neck pain, tight hip flexors and hamstrings, no abdominal and rotational strength.  Basically, I would suck on the bike because I would produce no power due to poor form on the bike from my neck and back pain, and weak abdominals.  I know it's "poor form" for cyclists to lift weights, but honestly if I didn't lift weights and cross train, I wouldn't be where I am today!  What is cross training?  Cross training is doing an activity that isn't your everyday sport.  Cross training helps to prevent injury, overtraining, and burn out.  Cross training does not make you slow.  So now you are wondering, Courtenay what is it that YOU do for cross training.

I work in a gym as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.  I'm on my feet when I work, demonstrating exercises all the time and teaching classes.  I HAVE to be strong in order to execute my job and HAVE a job.  If I wasn't strong, why would people want ME to work them out?  My cross training schedule typically involves teaching a Step class (cardio and weights), teaching a weight class, stretching, trigger point therapy, running (in the months of July-Dec for CX), and lifting weights 1-2x/week on my own or at my favorite studio Trailhead Athletics.  If I where to tell you to do 1 of these activities, it would be for you to get in the weight room (or your living room) and start doing some resistance training.  Why you ask?

Resistance training (working your full body) is going to help balance your body out so you remain strong from head to toe and shoulder to shoulder.  For example in my sport of choice, we pedal bikes forward, my feet are clipped in, my hands are on the bars in a forward position, my neck is (as much as I would like to say it's not) in a fwd position (okay think office worker), my hip flexors are never fully extended (unless you ride a unicycle).  Rarely is my body worked in a side to side motion.  So lets say I don't do any resistance training.  My glutes might suck because I could potentially have a sucky pedal stroke and I'm not lunging to help increase the strength, power, and SIZE (<--- this is kind of a joke because my butt is big) of my glutes.  I'm not working on my "core" strength so my abs aren't strong enough to hold my torso in a correct position while on the bike, therefore causing me a lot of low back pain.  Which leads me to weak back extensors, if you don't train them to be strong, they aren't going to be strong, you are most likely compensating somewhere else.  Now lets say I don't work any side to side and rotational stuff (so important while mountain biking and in cyclocross, while leaning with the bike and navigating around obstacles).  If I don't work any rotational strength my body wouldn't perform, or even be able to balance in some positions I ask it to while navigating through single track or a muddy cyclocross course.  Are you starting to get a better understanding of why I believe in strength training?

How has strength training helped me?  Besides the obvious of looking totally buff, I believe strength training has seriously helped me keep my injuries at a minimal and also has helped me bounce back from injury faster.  I'm going to take you back to May of 2012 the week after the 24 hour race. The Wednesday after the 24 hour race I went out on a nice lovely, recovery mountain bike ride.  Descending down "The Mullet" on Galbraith I was very quickly launched over my handlebars at a very fast pace.  I landed directly onto my left shoulder blade and had some major issues trying to lift my arm up over my head.  I was in quite a bit of pain for a couple weeks, I didn't do any weight lifting for 2-3 weeks, I didn't ride my bike for a week, I tried really hard to not move my arm, because it really hurt my shoulder!  I saw my trusted Chiropractor, a PT at the gym, and my PT friend and I knew nothing was broken or seriously injured, all I needed was time for healing!  After about 4-5 weeks I was back to normal and felt great!  I'm pretty sure that my because of my hulk like muscles, I wasn't seriously injured.  Now lets fast forward to June 27th 2013 (or the 28th or 29th, who's keeping track anyhow).  I'm racing my bike at the Lightning Creek Enduro and all of the sudden my rear brakes stop working.  I'm going fast, faster than I would like to be going, but I can't slow down and next thing I know my face is staring right at the dirt and BAM I'm on the ground.  I landed on my chest, slightly on my left side.  My first reaction was "I broke a rib" my right side hurt really bad and I couldn't breath, at that same moment I looked up and saw my left foot still attached to the bike and it was now falling on top of me, pinning me to the ground.  To top this off I heard the lovely sound of "hiiiisssssssss", you know, the sound your tire makes when it's going flat.  I was then able to catch my breath, realized I didn't break a rib, but instead knocked the wind out of myself, but there was no saving that tire from going flat.  After picking myself up off the ground I realized my left chest was in a lot of pain and my rib was somewhat protruding out of my chest.  I held back the tears and didn't continue the race. It's been 3 weeks since this happened and I'm still trying to recover, riding mountain bikes is out of the question, but I can still ride and lift some weights (being very incredibly limited).  Once again I am SO grateful for strength training, without it, I'm sure I would have quite a few broken bones!

Stay tuned for some simple at home exercises you can do to help keep you strong, lean, and healthy!

This I have learned since being married...

It's been...holy moly....it has been 10 months since Chris and I tied the knot.  Let me tell you, about what I have learned in the past 10 months. 1)  Marriage isn't so bad when you see your husband 2x/week

2)  It's really hard to keep track of 3 bank accounts.  No excuse me, 4 accounts, thank goodness he has his own account to take care of!

3)  I will never be a farmer, so please, as much fun as plants are, and as much as I intend to WANT to take care of a plant, do not buy me one because I WILL kill it.  Unintentionally of course.





4)  Having health insurance is awesome, when it's under your parents name.  Having health insurance when you have to pay for it, sucks.

5)  Don't off your husband right away, he's not worth that much.

6)  Number 5 was a joke, I do not plan to off my husband...ever.

7)  Just because you are married, doesn't mean your house will be exactly how you want it right away.  Things take time.

8)  It's time to start thinking about the financial future, and save, not spend (all the time).

9)  Your husband is no longer your boyfriend and when he "treats" you, it most likely came from your joint account.

10)  Somehow once my boyfriend became my husband, he got messier (I swear)!


11)  Eating meat free rocks (although I still eat meat, just much much less often than I previously was, which wasn't very often)!



There you have it, some of my most recent discoveries in my life!


Uncreative title here...

I have a lot to blog about and a lot of races to talk about, but truthfully, I'm sick of writing race reports.  I was much better at race reports when I had an adventure to talk about with them (when traveling for CX), now my travels include a 3+ hour car ride, which isn't all that adventurous!!!  So instead I'm here to tell you about life, riding, and summer!

Here is a brief update on my racing:

24 hours of mountain biking was pretty awesome.  We had a dream team of all Western Cycling Alums (Co-Ed) and we won our division.  Of the top 3 teams we were the only team with 2 females, yes we are that awesome.

My awesome outfit for one of the lapsChris at the start, in the WWU skinsuit!!Our Podium shot!

The following weekend was the Bavarian Bike and Brews in Leavenworth where I did the best I could to hold back on the first lap so I didn't die on the last lap (like I have down the past 2 years).  Going into the 3rd lap my energy and legs felt awesome, and I was really hoping to catch back up to the gal in front of me (who hadn't done the race before and didn't know how much that third lap sucks), but instead fate was not on my side and right after the feed on the third lap I cramped so bad I jumped off my bike and wanted to cry, but instead I rubbed my leg, got passed by the gal behind me, and considered quitting.  Then I decided I couldn't be a wimp and quit, so I spun my way up the mountain for the last lap and rolled in for 3rd place.  The next race I did was Watt Canyon in Thorp.  I was the only women in my category to show up, so I decided to chill out and see how many dudes I could pass.  Turns out, I didn't have such a bad race (considering  how bad my legs felt)!

So now that you know about my boring racing life, let me tell you about some new things going on with me!  First and foremost, I needed to figure out my cramping issues, so I went to my trusted Chiropractor and Friend Erik DeRoche from  Performance Health Northwest.  He suggested I invest in OSMO Nutrition (who just also happens to sponsor the cutest Women's Road Pro team around) .  So I went all in and purchased the whole system!  This includes a Pre-Load mix, an Active Hydration mix, and a Recover mix.  The Pre-load is for before competition, the Active Hydration is for during, and can you guess what the Recover is for?  I thankfully had this goodness before Watt Canyon and I didn't cramp (it was hot too)!!!!  So, success in my books!

See Chris Work.

I am also on the lookout for some Cyclocross Sponsorship (want to help)?  Hopefully some good things are headed this way, but I am ALWAYS looking for sponsorship help and ideas.  Have I mentioned I'm really excited for CX?  I have an idea on the races I want to do, and I can't wait to get out there and see if I have gotten faster!  Now, I just need to start some cyclocross prep.  Cyclocross in July?  Why not?!!!!!

Sometimes you must fail before you find success

Every year I live on a balance of too much training versus too little training.  I try to hover on the fine line, but sometimes I find myself tipping over one day and crawling back up the next 5 days.  Remember how I left you hanging for my Enumclaw race report?  Well here goes nothing.

Going into my racing year I knew I wanted to target Enumclaw as a race to do well.  My biggest chance to do well would be in the road race, so as long as I "hang in" the TT and maybe get some time bonuses in the Crit, and get in a break in the RR, I could come out doing okay for the over all.  For the first time in my racing career I sacrificed some races (as in did some good training days in the week before the race).  I went into races feeling tired, fully knowing that in the future I was benefitting myself, but also knowing I wouldn't get the result I would REALLY truly want out of myself.  I just kept telling myself it was all training for CX.  Enumclaw was closely approaching and I was feeling really strong, 2 weeks before Enumclaw I went big and worked hard.  The week before Enumclaw I backed off a little, but was feeling pretty good, took a rest day here, rode easy there.  Then Saturday approached.

The TT didn't go as well as I would have wanted, my time was virtually the same as last year (1 second faster), that pretty much is a fail in my books.  On to the Crit. I warmed up went to the line, and then all of the sudden the race started.  Literally, like that, we rolled to the line and the official said go.  The first lap I was sacred to my bones because I wasn't sure how the people in the group where going to ride, so I quickly put myself up/near the front and tried to stay there for the remainder of the race.  I won a 3 second time bonus and knew I wanted top 3 so I could get a finishing time bonus, unfortunately on the last turn a little junior girl decided to chop me in a corner and cut me off, causing me to pull brake and slow way down.  I finished with the group in a measly...who knows which place.  The whole race my legs didn't feel like their good selves, they didn't feel like they should for a stage race.  They felt...stale, but I decided that was because of the TT in the morning (I mean really 15 minutes was that exhausting)?

The following day was the RR, and I wasn't excited.  Never a good sign.  I started the race, and I wasn't feeling it, my legs felt like crap and my head wasn't in it.  I decided I just needed to warm up and I would probably start feeling better after the first time up the climb.  Turns out it was actually the opposite.  At the top of the climb I felt like crap, descending the hill I wasn't feeling it.  Once again my legs felt stale and my head was...somewhere else.  I tried to do everything I could to amp myself up, but I wasn't motivated, I didn't want to race, I felt awful.  I decided I was going to give it one more lap, go up the climb a 2nd time and see how I felt on the third lap.  I didn't even make it past the climb on the 2nd lap when my mind and body failed.  I mean FAILED...and HARD.  Acceleration?  Strength? Speed? What's that, because I didn't have ANY of it.  I got to the feed zone and pulled the plug.  2nd chosen DNF of my racing career, but I wasn't bummed because I knew it was for the best.  The only thing that bummed me out was that Enumclaw was my target race and my race prep leading up to the race was all WRONG.  I didn't recover enough and my legs felt like lead.   WA WA WAAAAA....(you know that charlie brown sound)

The following week I was terrified to do any physical exercise.  I kid you not, scared straight to my bones and back out to my skin.  I taught a Step class on Monday and trained clients.  Tuesday (get this), I worked in the morning, went home at 12pm and sat until 10pm that night.  That's right folks, I sat on my couch and watched Lost, all day long, and I felt no ounce of guilt because I was "recovering".  The following day I was still quite scared to do any physical movement, but knew I needed to.  I rode my mountain bike out the interurban, the slowest I have ever gone.  I mean, so slow I was defying gravity by staying upright.  The following day I taught PowerPump.  Did nothing on Friday except sit in a car to Spokane for the 24 hours mountain bike race (gets it's own post).

I cannot remember the last time I only did 3 hours of physical exercise in 1 week.  I felt so bad at Enumclaw that I was scared to move the week after, scared for the potential of overtraining.  Scared that if I didn't recover right then, that my whole future racing would be shot.  Like I said, I live on a fine line or training and overtraining.  I have also come to the realization that I need more rest than others.  My job is physical, I'm on my feet for 20+ hours a week while I work, I wake up at god awful hours of the day, and I have to continuously talk, motivate, and smile at people the whole time I'm working.  This requires a lot of extra energy that people don't realize, and neither do I.  So, since then, I have tried to be more conscious about my physical self and how I can be better about rest.

Nap anyone?  

Let me take you on an escapade...lets go!!!!

Wow, is it already half way through May? Remember how I told you I took the whole month of February off my bike?  I think I'm paying for it...but I know it's good in the long run.  Typically I started "training" about mid way through January and start racing in March.  This year I pushed it back a month, so I'm 1 month off the usual training schedule.  Not only am I one month off the training schedule, I'm also off my racing schedule.  Usually by the end of April it feels like I have been racing forever, but not this time!  Up to date I have completed 3 races plus 1 DNF (more to come later), and 2 of 3 stages of a stage race.

The first road race was a slap in the face and a big ol' ass kickin'.  But, it was also awesome, about half way through the race I realized it wasn't a cross race and my legs just kind of stopped working properly.  Come the last 2 miles of the race I could hardly pedal and push my legs, my breathing was fine but I was seriously done physically!  I think I finished up 5th of 8 or something silly like that.


My second race back was the Beezley Burn mountain bike race.  Saturday night I did my first Short Track race and thought my lungs where going to burst.  That was quite possibly the hardest thing I had ever done.  Sunday morning was the Cross Country race, and boy was I excited for that race.  No need to go into details because, 27 minutes into the race I slashed my tire on a rock and that was the end of that!

My third race back was the Olympic View Road Race.  I thought this was going to a "flat" course, so I wasn't really expecting much except for a pack finish.  Turns out, the course doesn't feel very flat when you get in a break with 2 others within the first 10 miles of the race, and you hold the break for the rest of the 54 mile race.  Those tiny hills started to hurt so bad, that by the end of the race I was on the verge of cramping!  At the final sprint when I stood up to sprint my left quad cramped so bad I had to sit and roll it in to take 3rd out of our three women break.  I was still pleasantly happy with 3rd place considering I hadn't done any speed work yet! My fourth race was the Ravensdale Race, which I had never done, and honestly, I could do without doing it again next year.  The course started out on a rolling up hill and made a loop to some rolling down hills, and repeat.  The group stayed together, and I finished 2nd.  The race was only 40 miles, so I decided to ride the course backwards during the afternoon races and cheer Chris on (his first road race in 2 years), I ended up getting some good miles in.


That now brings us up to date with the race I just "finished", Enumclaw, you know that race last year that I dropped my chain on and I wanted revenge with.  I decided at the beginning of the season that I wanted to "peak" for Enumclaw, so I have been doing some pretty good training before all these other races I have done, so truthfully my legs never felt like they where 100% ready to race, so for Enumclaw I knew I had to get some rest in order to feel amazing for the weekend, and do my best.  I'm going to leave this blog post as a cliff hanger and you have to wait for my Enumclaw race report.  I just really wanted to get this one out!  Think of it as the "pre-qual".

Life Recap

Dear Blog, Bloggers, Blog Readers,

I write to say how deeply sorry I am for neglecting you.  It's true I have been M.I.A. for much too long now, and all my dreams of wanting to create more with this blog when I moved it over, have been pushed aside.  I'm trying to focus, find balance, find a regular schedule, but at times I find myself lost somewhere between work, cleaning house, riding bikes, racing bikes, and just plain living.  Ten years ago I was a senior in high school scratching at the door to leave my parents house.  I had my life together, I was 18 but felt 25.  I was responsible, organized, punctual, and I had dreams.  My life was diligent, to say the least.  I went to bed at 9pm every night, I brushed my teeth at 7pm every night and wouldn't eat anything once my teeth where brushed.  I woke up every day when my Dad came in to get me up for school.  I showered, dried my hair, put my make up on, got dressed, and went after the day.  Fast forward ten years and I find my self a sloth soaking in my own sweat hardly able to find energy to get in the shower.  You know what I lost somewhere a long the way?  Balance.  I can't balance my life anymore, I no longer have that structure that I thrived off of growing up.  You know what I thrive off of now?  Being at home.  Somewhere between 18 and 28 I became anti-social (okay I'm not anti social I promise, I just love being at home), I became a home body, and I lost my balance along the way.  It's like every year I regress in age, I'm distracted and unable to focus.

What are you getting at Courtenay?

This last weekend I realized my life revolves around biking (how did I just realize this).  I arrange my work schedule so I can train, I live to train, and I work to live, but I haven't found that balance between biking and life.  What made you write about such an obscure topic you ask?  Last weekend I attended my first 3 day fitness conference/convention and I had the time of my life.  Attending the conference reminded me of my love of fitness, health, and all things human physiology related.  The conference reminded me about how amazing it feels to help people move, to help people feel functional, to help them enjoy their day to day activities.  The conference made me realize that I have neglected the profession that is so near and dear to my heart.  I think I was put on this planet to help people move, seriously, activity has ALWAYS been a part of me, has always been ingrained in who I am and somehow along the way health, fitness, and sports led me to biking and for that I am SO grateful.

Yes, I have goals on the bike, yes I want full sponsorship, yes I want to win races, yes I want to be "that" person (but who doesn't), but with every training day, with every race I enter, and every client I meet, I inspire them, and that's what drives me to train (and so I don't get dropped in the road races).  If I can get 1 more person on a bike, in the gym, going for walks, or in my classes, then I am a successful, inspirational trainer.  I live the life I live because I believe in it, not because I want to make money.  I believe to be healthy you have to move, I believe to be fit you have to challenge yourself, I believe when you challenge yourself you grow as an athlete and you learn something you never knew you could do.  I look at myself as a cyclist and I tell myself I need to get faster.  I look at my self as a fitness professional and I tell myself I need to learn more so I can better my clients and help them achieve their goals.  The challenge now becomes balance.  How do I balance my career choice/passion with my hobby?  In time I believe this question will be answered, but for now, truthfully,  I'm okay with my unbalanced life, I'm okay with not having everything in the world, I'm okay with working part time.  Will I do everything I can to be the best at my job, to help my clients, keep them coming back and seeing results?  Absolutely, but ultimately you only live once and you are given one chance to go for those dreams, and my time is now.

Woe is me, I race bikes, what am I doing?

Although sometimes it feels like cross season just ended, in reality I'm halfway through the "off" season of CX.  Since CX seems to start in September, I am nearly 4 months away from the start of a new season and I'm wondering what the heck am I going to do?

Am I good enough to go after a dream that only few accomplish?

What's the point of what I am doing, and can I even make this happen?

Woe is me, my life is tough, I know.

It's that time of year where I'm supposed to think about sponsorship for next year, and honestly, I don't even know where to begin.  I go up, I go down.  I wonder if it's even worth my time to try to go after something that could be so far fetched.  I don't even know where to start looking for sponsorship, or how to ask for things I need.  I'm at a total loss of what to do.  Do I hang up the dream, work more, and stay local and just have fun?  Or do I keep pushing forward looking to get challenged by faster, stronger females.

Every time I log onto Facebook I'm reminded of all the Pro's that have sponsorship and literally living their "dream" of racing bikes, and quite frankly it depresses me.  A dream shouldn't ever make you feel like crap, a dream should lift you up, make you feel confident, give you butterflies, it should make you smile.  A dream should help to push you forward in your adventures and desires, but right now, I feel like it's pulling me back and putting me down.

The industry is growing, but it's shrinking at the same time.  Sponsorship is hard to come by, money doesn't grow on trees and race promoters and teams don't have endless supplies of it, but yet the amount of racers is increasing yearly.  How much potential do you think slips through the cracks because of this?  I think a lot does, because how does one stand out from someone else?

Looking back at last season, if I had to do it again the way I did last year, honestly, I wouldn't.  I need people around me, I need support, I need help.  Nearly every race I was a wondering around hobo looking for someone to help me.  If I learned anything, it was that people are very generous and willing to help, but if you don't ask for it, you wont get it.  Do I regret every race and every bit of travel from last year?  NO way, I had the time of my life and I wouldn't take it back for anything.  

I know my life is really complicated, right?

The Off Season

This year I'm attacking my racing from a different angle.  I'm going to take an off season, and in this off season, I'm trying not to ride my bike.  If you know me, that's an incredibly difficult task for me to accomplish, but I'm working really hard at staying off my bike and spending more time in the gym (Just what I need..right?).  So this last month I took the opportunity to try "new" things, get buff at the gym, clean my house, and teach more classes. IMG_2711

Chris was more than thrilled to hear I was taking time off my bike.  In order to take advantage of this, he took me up to Mt. Baker and we went snow shoeing!  For those of you who know me, you know, this was no small feat.  First off, I hate the Mt. Baker highway, all the twists and turns with a steep drop off, freak me out.  Secondly, I hate being cold.  Thirdly, I would rather ride my bike, I don't have to drive anywhere to do this.  So I learned a few things while snowshoeing.

  1. Snow can be fun
  2. Snow can make you work so hard you start sweating and forget about being cold.
  3. Snowshoeing up hill is very difficult.
  4. I can have fun in the snow.


I have also been spending quite some time (HAHA, not really) getting buff at Trailhead Athletics participating in their F.A.S.T. class.  Every Tuesday I have been heading over to their Sport Specific gym and have been getting my sweat on.  I know you ask "but Courtenay, aren't you a Personal Trainer"?  Yes I am, but sometimes it's nice to not think about my own workout, to have someone else build my workout for me has been so fantastic.  Usually, I find myself stuck in my rut of doing the same thing every Tuesday because it's easy and I know it.  So now, my body is challenged in different (but yet the same) ways and I find myself bulging out of my jeans, in an uncomfortable, yet awesome way (and no, my belly isn't growing, but it seems my quads are getting bigger than necessary).  I'm also finding that my shoulders and guns are more vividly defined and I feel stronger than ever.  What is a F.A.S.T. class?  Functional Agility Strength Training.  We do lots of fun full body, power, plyometric, and strength activities that challenge the entire body.  Not only do they make me lift heavy weights and throw balls above my head at a wall, but they also make me RUN (**gasp**).  I love being challenged in this aspect, because as we know, I'm a bike racer, not a runner.  So thank you Trailhead for being awesome (not a plug at all, because if I where to recommend someone to work out with, it would be me :-P).

Since the inception of my time-off-the-bike and now, I have jumped on the saddle and started some fun riding.  Training, but yet...not training all at the same time. I have decided that if I'm going to try this, I should shift my attention to the discipline I love the most.  While I will still be racing road and mountain this Spring, it'snot my focus.  I'm not going to burn all my motivation training right now, but more or less ride when I want to and when I don't want to ride, I wont.  I'm not really sure how this will leave me come road racing, but eh, we shall see!

So lets raise a glass, um, a wheel?  A water bottle?  A bike?  To my future and see what it may hold in this athletic endeavor I have set for myself.


Nationals- a bittersweet ending

It has taken me awhile to write this post because I needed to get over my "pity party".  I wont deny the fact that for a while when I was trying to get to sleep I thought about that day and what I could have changed so it would have gone differently.  Let me take you back to the beginning: I arrive in Madison, WI on the evening of January 10th.  It's about 38 degrees and raining with snow piles everywhere.  I had been following the races that started on Wednesday and wondering what the heck those snowy conditions where going to do come Sunday (with a predicted high of 20 degrees).  Wednesday I guess it was snowy, with only 1 line through the course.  Thursday it seemed to be a combo of snow, water, mud, ice.  As the day wore on and the sun went down the course was terribly icy.  Sneaky icy, you couldn't see it.  Thursday night I just tried to rest my head and put myself together for Friday.

Come Friday there had been so much rain and little snow melt that there where puddles of water all over the course (on and off course).  The ground was still frozen so the water had no where to go.  The course was a soupy muddy icy mess.  Think sheets of ice with mud on top.  The course also had a bit of elevation, so there where some pretty good descents you had to navigate through in those tricky conditions.  I knew that come Sunday with the way the course was plus freezing temps, it was going to be treacherous (honestly I was scared for my life).  If my race could have been on Friday, I would have been happy.  I pre-rode the course 2x to get a feel for the course (not the conditions) and it was pretty fun, a "longer" climb, some rail road tie stairs, a steep punchy climb, lots of descending, and some up hill barriers.  I went back to the hotel and tried not to think about the safety of my life and waited for Chris to arrive (his trip out to the midwest deserves its own blog post...poor guy).

Saturday Chris and I went back to the course, I was trying to decide if I wanted to ride the course again, but once I got there, my mind was made up.  I was NOT going to get on that course.  As it turns out on Friday night, the temps rose, they rose, and they rose, until they couldn't rise anymore, then they started dropping (come Saturday am).  How high did they rise?  I would say upper 40's because the course on Saturday showed no signs of ice and no signs of soupy mud.  The ground thawed, soaked up the water, and left what we like to call "peanut buttery mud".  I wasn't going to get my bike or myself dirty in those conditions because I KNEW that tomorrow all that mud would freeze and turn into frozen ruts.       So instead we packed up my bike to bring it back to the hotel so I could do some openers on the trainer in the hotel.  Of course that was after we made a stop at Home Depot for some screws to put in the bottom of my shoes.  Everyone was preparing for the worst (ice and frozen ruts).  Truthfully, I was preparing myself for a running race with my bike.

Back at the hotel I pinned my skinsuit (#17 - 16th loser!  Just kidding, 1st person on the 3rd row, but I figured some wouldn't show up and I would end up on the 2nd row).  As it turns out someone gained some weight in December during their honeymoon in Hawaii (too much Malibu and POG, going out to eat, and lying on the beach) so my thermal skinsuit felt quite tight compared to when I put it on last in Bend.  Chris had to re-pin me and then continued to tell me how tight the skinsuit was (thank you for rubbing it in).  After the number pinning adventure, it was time to get those screws into my shoes.  Thank goodness for extra help, they went in without a hitch.

Sunday morning I woke up to sunny skies and cold temps!  I think it was about 15 degrees when we left the hotel.  We grabbed some breakfast and headed to the course.  I wanted to get there early to watch the collegiate men race and see how they handled the course, mentally prepare for a pre-ride, and of course get dressed for said pre-ride (if you know me...it takes me a good 45 minutes to get dressed to ride in cold weather).  The course appeared to be...hard.  Literally, frozen hard ground, the collegiate boys where handling that course like champs.  But I did notice there were very obvious lines on the course, stray from those lines and things got a little trickier!  Once the college-aged-boys finished their racing I hoped on the course and did a couple of laps.  The courses actually ended up being SO MUCH FUN!  The ruts where totally awesome to ride in, kind of like riding a "skinny" on Galbraith, and the ground was hard as a rock (kind of).  Running up the railroad tie stairs the mud was de-thawing and I realized at the top I was having issues clipping in...the mud/ice froze instantly to the bottom of my shoes and in my pedals.  After stopping back at base camp and having Chris chisel out the mud and ice we sprayed the shoes with Pam (hoping it would work).  Then I proceeded to realize it was 12:30 and I needed to finish getting dressed.  Then my zipper on my skin suit broke.  After having Chris fiddle with it for far too long the time was now 12:47pm (race start at 1pm) and I had to go to staging.  On the way I realized I had to go to the bathroom and my brakes where rubbing.  In the port-a-potty my zipper got stuck again, so  couldn't go to the bathroom!  I ran and grabbed my bike from Chris and bolted to the start line.  To make a dramatic appearance short...I missed my call up.  I would have been 2nd row and I ended up 4th row.  I was too frazzled to be nervous for the start, that all of a sudden we where starting.

I had a fantastic start and was somewhere in the top 15 and moving up and feeling good, taking good lines, handling my bike well.  Then it all went down hill REAL fast.  All it took was one fumble to ruin the day!  A girl 2 people in front of me fumbled, causing the girl in front of me to fumble, causing me to fumble then I tried to pedal and I was in WAY too big of a gear and then my chain dropped.  After that about 8 people passed me by the time I had got my chain back on.  I stayed relaxed but still had issues...my feet filled with mud and I could hardly clip into my pedals!  Then I went to descend and I wiped out, got up and then wiped out again!  The 2nd wipe out had me laughing, that's when I realized this was going to become funny.  I knew I couldn't get upset because it was just going to be funny, a laughing matter really.  Once back on my bike (finally) I realized not only where my shoes caked with mud, but my rear deraliuer wasn't really shifting well, so I chose to pit, and immediately regretted it.  What it all came down to was...me not feeling comfortable at race pace on my "b" bike.  That's all it is, the fit was different, the bars where bigger, the hoods and brakes felt different.  It was just...not the same and I didn't feel comfortable on it.  So after half a lap on my "b" bike I wanted to get back on my "a" bike.  Turns out I couldn't get on my "a" bike because it wasn't ready yet, so I had to finish out the rest of the lap on my "b" bike.  I wasn't looking forward to the ruts and downhills on a bike I didn't feel comfortable on, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do!  So I went after it, ended up getting stuck in a rut I knew I didn't want to be in, but didn't feel comfortable turning the bike at the radius I needed to so I ended up endowing on a slight downhill (landed on my head and took some of the course around with me all race long).  Awesome.  I'm pretty sure I hit my pubic bone on my stem as I flipped over my bars.  It was hilarious and I laughed at myself as I got back up and kept racing.


I finally got my "a" bike and decided life would be best on this bike and I would finish the race on my "a" bike (in hind site...not the best decision).      If the other racers could pull it off, they where pitting every half lap.  I chose to ride the same bike after that first lap.  After some more funny instances of taking bad lines, not being able to get clipped into my pedals because of them filling with mud and ice and then crashing on the downhills, I finally found myself heading out for my last lap.  At this point I was laughing because of the hilarity of this race.  Places 11th and 12th where seconds in front of me.  I knew I could get them and pass them, but then...the mud and bike gods where not on my side.  Some of those steep climbs where starting to wear on me (so it felt).   I didn't understand why I felt so sluggish when I actually didn't feel all that bad!  I was working SO hard to not go anywhere, so I decided I must have been getting tired.  It wasn't until I hit the stairs on the last lap that I realized it wasn't me, it was the bike.  I dismounted, tried to hoist the bike up and over my shoulder, and could hardly lift it.  Actually, I could hardly get my hand through the top tube and down tube because they was  SO much caked in frozen mud.  I just decided to press on, at the top of the stairs my bike thudded to the ground and I hopped on, unable to get clipped in.  Then I had no control on the downhill, slid out, hopped back on, and slid out again.  It was so strange, it was like my read end was just coming out from under me, my bike wouldn't grip the ground and it didn't help that I couldn't get clipped in!  Once again, I found myself laughing (it was the only way to get thru this race).  Finally I was able to ride my bike and decided slow was the name of the game (still un able to get clipped in).  That's when a girl passed me and I was now in 14th place (not totally stoked about this, but I couldn't pedal, I couldn't clip in and every time I tried to accelerate it felt like I was moving backwards).

It wasn't until the "major" decent when I rode by some spectators and I heard a guy say "holy mud!  Look at her bike" and then I crashed into a stake, which gave me the opportunity to actually take a peak at my bike.  Yes, the man was correct, holy mud.  I continued to press on, laughed it off once again, rounded the next turn into the barriers and then this is where disaster struck (please note I am now on my last half lap).  I went to lift my bike up over the barriers and I struggled, big time.  Now, I consider myself quite strong.  I lift weights 2x/week and the weights are even bigger than 5lbs!  They sometimes even weight more than 20 lbs, and because of this I know my bike had to have been pushing over 35 pounds.  I could not pick my bike up.  Okay I lie, I could pick my bike up, but it wasn't easy, it wasn't a light lift up like it usually is.  Holy crap, I think I might have even banged the barriers with my bike (what am I a 5 yr old racing cx for the first time?).  Once I finally crawled my way out of the 2 barriers I set my bike down and ran with it to remount and that's when I heard a weird noise and then I realized something wasn't right, so I stopped (very briefly) and looked at my bike.  I could hardly see my bike beneath all the frozen (yes FROZEN) mud that was caked on my rear wheel and rear brakes (both brakes but the rear had the worst of it), my rear wheel was literally no longer spinning.  The bike was now unrideable.  And um, no wonder I couldn't stay on the damn thing, or no wonder every small incline felt like I was pedaling up Mt. Everest, the bike was useless to me.  Thankfully the pits where right around the following corner and I was able to run and attempt to drag my bike into the pits for a bike exchange.  While this time felt like eternity, it was probably close to 10 seconds.  Want to know the most incredible part of this experience?  The spectators, they where cheering SOOOOOOOO loudly yelling "carry it" "come on you got it".  It was amazing, I actually took up that small piece of advice and I tried to carry my bike.  Do you know how hard it is to hoist 35+ pounds up and over your shoulder when you are breathing at 1000 breaths per min and your legs feel like jell-o?  Not easy, I reached the pits, threw my bike at Chris and hopped on the B bike.  My goal was to now just finish the race and not lose anymore spots.  Thankfully, I finished in 14th place.  That last lap I lost nearly 2 minutes in my troubles.  Pathetic if you ask me, but that's racing and I have come to terms with my result.  Not really what I wanted, but that's what I got, so deal with it.

The only reason I think I was able to keep my head somewhat in the game was because of the spectators.  First and foremost, thank you to all those out there cheering my name.  It was incredible to have so much support so faraway from home.  Then the strangers that didn't know me or my name but kept cheering, I'm so thankful that the spectators brought their best cheering support to keep all of us going when the going got tough.

No pictures of the actual race since Chris was in the pits he didn't snag any action shots, so I will leave you with a picture of Nugget.


Why I love my sport

I'm doing a dedication blog post tonight.  First, I would like to dedicate this post to Sarah and Mark Bender (plus their 4 little boys).  I first met Sarah 2 summers ago at the "mid summer nights cyclocross race" put on by Raleigh in Cle Elum.  She introduced herself to me and I thought, wow this women is so stinkin' cute, and, how nice to just walk up to someone and say hello.  Ever since then I have always thought she was the sweetest little thing, I love seeing her around at the CX races!  Then this Fall with all my traveling, she was so supportive of me while away racing with the big time ladies, always congratulating me on my results.  Being an all time awesome person.  Sarah is one of the reasons I love my cycling community, because of people like her, it's very clear that I'm not the only one who adores her (and her family)!  I most recently met her husband at CX nationals when he (just as Sarah did) walked up to me and introduced himself to me.  He was there to support their little boy who was racing in the one of the young junior categories (can't remember his age :-/). Last week (thursday or Friday, I can't remember which day) I logged onto Facebook and on my newsfeed (thank you Facebook) a lot of my friends had posted on Sarah's wall saying how they where praying for her and Mark.  I immediately did some Facebook stalking to discover her husband (Mark) went into surgery after a body surfing accident while in Hawaii celebrating their 15 yr anniversary.  He was taken out by a wave and suffered a spinal cord injury which resulted in surgery to fuse his C6 and C7 vertebrae.  Mark and Sarah are still in Hawaii (Honolulu) until Mark is stable enough to fly home.  Their 4 boys are still here in WA, but will hopefully be reunited soon.  Now here comes why I love my sport and the community that goes a long with it.

FUNDRAISER!!!!!!  Thank goodness for kind hearted people of this world!  A teammate of theirs (remember I try to keep names anonomous) has put together a coffee fundraiser.  All you have to do is click on the link below, order coffee and then BAM all proceeds will go to the Benders, because the last thing they need is any added stress (I can't imagine the $$ amount of everything.  I was astonished when I received my chiropractic bill)!  Anyways, click away, order coffee and lots of it.  Order with friends to help cover the shipping cost, order FOR friends for gifts, because you are doing the RIGHT thing!  You have until the end of April to complete your order/s.


Perhaps you aren't a coffee drinker but you would like to support the cause?  Their church has also put together a website where you can make donations to their family.  Follow the link below:


Want to continue to follow updates?  Lots of links:

Caring Bridge Site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/SupportfortheBenders

Facebook Group dedicated to support: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-for-the-Benders/319325408170717?fref=ts

Facebook Group for the coffee fundraiser: https://www.facebook.com/events/308281062631820/?fref=ts

My second dedication goes out to my Cousins (in laws?), to lay it out for you; Chris's cousin (female) and her husband (male) need your help too.  They have been quitely living their lives with the most positive outlook on life.  My cousin in law (male, no names) has been on the heart transplant list for 2 years now.  5 years ago it was discovered that his heart was basically failing after a virus attacked it.  He's my age, 28ish.  He doesn't deserve to be on the transplant list.  At first he had a defibrillator put in his heart, but eventually that wasn't enough.  He now has a machine hooked up to him that acts as his heart.  He walks around daily, living his life hooked up to a machine and when his blood levels aren't right he has to be admitted to the hospital until they are normal again.  The worst part is, they live in Bellingham but his treatment is at UW.  So every time something isn't right, he has to be admitted at the UW Medical Center.  That must be SUCH a pain!  Not to mention he can't work with this condition.  To make matters worse after their last 2 day stay at the UW Medical Center they came home to find their back door kicked in and their most prized possessions gone.  GONE!  Okay, I know you think well at least they are okay, but have you ever had your house broken into?  I have, twice.  It's the most violating experience I have ever had.  You think your home is safe and as it turns out, it's not.  Then, the memories with those possessions, you can't get those back.  To top this all off, they found out their home owners insurance wont even cover a  lot of the items that where taken.  This husband and wife have literally been through it all with each other, you know their marriage will last forever!

Now, the happy part.  My brother-in-law (SOO weird to say) has created a donation site for their cause (is this seriously the family I married into?).  Okay, first off you have to read his rhyming.  If you where at my wedding you will understand his hilarity.  A quite guy, but SO funny.  Follow the link below, read the story, donate a little, and feel good:


The least you could do if you can't afford to donate to either cause, is pray for these families, that in the end, everything will be A-okay.  Thanks for reading!

Bellingham Icons

I can't not (double negative...you aren't supposed to do that in writing are you?) continue to write about my awesome "city" I live in.  If you read my post from awhile back about why Bellingham, WA is amazing, I think it needs a follow up. While on a ride the other week I encountered some awesome things, most notably the man I like to call "The Shirtless Wonder".  Now, if you live in Bellingham you HAVE to know who I am talking about.  He is most commonly seen mashing his pedals on Lakeway, no shirt, bike shorts, and on the occasion if it's cold out he will wear gloves (please note...no shirt).  Who is this man?  I have to paint a description for those who have never seen him.  He rides a bike with down tube shifters, he uses clipless pedals, always wears black bike shorts, hardly ever wears a shirt, and NEVER wears a helmet (someone once asked me if he looks like he is from the 80's.  I replied yes).  If he deems it too cold, he wears gloves, and if it's even colder than that, he might put a white t-shirt on (yes that's if it's below 30 degrees).  He hammers his bike around town, his long hair blowing in the wind letting it all hang out (shirtless wonder).  Someone once told me that if you encounter him at a stop light, he will race you when it turns green.  This man baffles me, when I saw him the other week I was riding out on the Lummi Reservation (yes he ventures past Lakeway).  My layers included a wool base layer, a long sleeve fuzzy/thermal jersey, a wind vest, winter gloves (with hand warmers inside them), leg warmers, and booties (with little hotties in my shoes).  He was wearing; bike shorts and gloves, but he gave a great big wave, and so did I.

I hear this man is a legend, a bit of an anomaly, everyone knows who he is, what's his story?  I heard he got trapped in his car in a freezing cold river so his thermoregulation is all messed up, except for his hands, they must not get circulation.  He can be Bellingham Icon #1.

Moving on.

Bellingham Icon #2.  I think his name is Dan ( I could be SOO off).  I hear he lives in a group home, but you can find him on railroad asking for money (I think he is joking..kind of), most commonly I see him spending time at Avellino (the coffee shop down from the bagelery).  You might also find him pedaling (so slow you wonder how he stays up right) an old cruiser bike with a giant basket in the front which holds his lunch box (yes a lunch box that you would think a 5 yr would carry) and a bucket like helmet (might be climbing helmet, I'm just not sure).  I hear he used to tow a lawn mower around asking people if he could mow their lawn.  If you saw him on the side of the road you would think he was homeless, but he has become one of my favorite Bellingham Icons.  I must not be alone in this decision because I once saw a painting of him at Casa Que Pasa.  One time I was running downtown and as I ran by him, he was walking his bike (he does this a lot too, I think he is getting old) he asked for a dollar.  I laughed so hard, this man is very funny, why would I have a dollar while I was out for a run?  He is missing some teeth, but he never ceases to amaze me.  Another time I was with a group of friends outside Avellino about to head on a ride, so all of our bikes where leaning against the parking meter.  He walks out of Avellino and starts pointing at each of our bikes and says "$50, $100, $50" wow I could make a lot of money selling your bikes.  If only he knew.

Bellingham Icon #3.  I think this man has since moved on to another world, because I don't see him around anymore and he was quite old.  I most notably saw him when I was in college (when I was an undergrad).  He spent a lot of time in the Western library, and like Bellingham Icon #2 he would ride his bike around town very slowly defying gravity and not falling over.  This man was a lanky man with a medium-sized beard who I once called "Santa".  My favorite part about this man is that whenever he was hanging out at the library, he never took his helmet off, as a matter of fact he probably slept in his helmet.    His helmet was on 100% of the time.  You could spot this man pedaling down the road because he always wore a yellow raincoat.  He was such an icon of Bellingham, that one year a friend of a friend dressed up as him for Halloween.  You would be surprised how many people actually knew who he was!  After a couple of years of seeing this man in a yellow rain coat he switched to black (must have lost or out worn the yellow one).  Someone told me they once saw him on Franklin street living in a cardboard box, not sure how much I believe that one.  Chris tells me he sees him at Fred Meyer on Lakeway, but I have yet to see him there as of late.

Bellingham Icon #4, the running man.  All you have to say to someone is "have you seen the running man?" and they will know exactly who you are talking about.  This man (okay trend here....why are they all men?) runs every where, literally.  I was once told he lives on Lummi Island and he runs to the ferry terminal (on the island) from his home, and then runs into town from the Ferry Terminal on the Res and will then run back.  He typically wears long loose running pants and a long sleeve running jacket.  Need to go grocery shopping?  No problem, he runs there, and then will continue to run around town carrying his bags.  To the hardware store?  I got it, why don't I run there?  He is as skinny as can be and incredibly fit, this man likes to run!  I do tend to see him around in the summer more often than in the winter.

Bellingham is one of those strange places.  It's cute on the outside, but a deep look in and you learn some strange things about this city (don't worry I still think it's better than where you live).  We have a large variety of people from college kids to retired folk that travel the world, to young couples looking to start a family.  We have liberals and conservatives within 10 minutes of each other, hippie barefoot walking college kids at Fairhaven College, and busy business men walking downtown in their suits during lunch hour.  But this city would not be the same without some of my favorite Bellingham Icons.  If there is anyone else I missed (because I know a lot of time it depends on what part of town you spend time in), please chime in!

Unfortunately for you, and fortunately for my favorite icons, I am not a stalker.  Therefore, I do not have pictures of these people to help you identify them.  Just visual them, and if I did a good job at my creative descriptive writing, then when you see them you will know exactly who they are!

12 Reasons why where I live is far superior to where you live

Let me begin by saying I live in the best place in this whole entire country.  Okay, it's true, it depends on who you ask, but let me tell you why this place rocks. #12:  Mt. Baker is only an hour away, if I loved snow sports it's a close drive from home.

#11:  In the event I need to leave the country (whether I need to move or run from the cops), Canada is only 20 minutes away!

#10:  It takes me a maximum of 10 minutes to get to and from work (by car or bike)

#9:  I can go to the Farmers Market in the middle of Winter

#8:  From anywhere in town I can most likely walk to get a GOOD cup of LOCAL coffee.  Espresso Avellino, only the best coffee in Bellingham.

#7: Buy Local.  Enough said.  Okay, not enough said.  This town supports LOCAL shops and eateries (4Starrs, Sojourn, Mi Shoes, Boundary Bay, La Fiamma, D'Annas...just to name a few)

#6:  Bellingham, WA is home of Western Washington University.  Probably one of the only schools in this country to have anatomically correct statues of little men carrying around the San Juan Islands.  Or better yet, a statue of a man humping a bear (or so it looks).  Not only that, but the book store sells shirts that say MHB, with a picture of the statue.  Liberal?  I think so.

#5:  When in season, I get local organic produce weekly from a farm in Everson.  We call these Community Supported Agriculture boxes, and they rock.

#4:  No matter which direction I ride my road bike (South, North, East..can't ride West) I can be out of town and on quite county roads in 10 minutes or less.

#3:  Within 1 mile of my house I can be on a green way (walking, running, biking) that will take me all through town.  Whether it be to Whatcom Falls or down to the Bay, I can get there on gravel paths.

#2:  I can open my garage door, hop on my mountain bike and within 12 minutes I will be at a trail head that leads to the best single track in Washington State.  Doesn't matter if it's the base of Galbraith Mountain or a quick hop onto the Interurban out to the Chuckanuts, I will be there in a snap.


#1:  The last but not least best reason that where I live is far superior to where you live is....drum roll please........it's beautiful.  Someone created this land just for me to admire.  On a crystal clear day I can see Mt. Baker, the Sisters,the Canadian Cascades, the San Juan Islands, the tip of Vancouver Island and the sunshine!  Sure, we might not get a lot of crystal clear days, but my oh my when we do you wont want to leave. IMG_2255

A Change of Scenery

For the past year or so I have been very unhappy with the look of my blog.  Every time I tried to change it, there wasn't much I could do.  Blogger seemed so...boring.  I couldn't really customize my blog the way I wanted.  So I am going to do my best to try to transfer over my old blog posts to here and move forward.  HAHA.  That should be interesting. I'm also interested in changing up my blogging a bit.  As it appears...people ACTUALLY read my blog, and for you lovely stalkers out there, I know you are googling my name, so I must have something interesting to say, so with that I am going to try to bring in a little bit of fitness buzz (or try) to keep things interesting and fresh for my readers (and keep me busy).