Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 2

Day 2 of the race weekend! After being nervous for the race the previous day, it was refreshing to be nervous again for two more races. Ah, wait. Awful. I meant to say awful.

First up was the Impreza Short Track. I like to think I wasn't quite as nervous for this, because I had found a good pre-race ritual. On Friday night we were out to eat, and another table of cyclists were seated next to us. They asked what was good, and we gave a review of the food. I advised against getting a margarita, because it was frankly terrible. One of the women said something along the lines of "Oh, of course not! It's a race night!" I heartily agreed, my eyes drifting back to the offending pink drink, which suddenly looked more sinister. No alcohol the night before a race, of course. Whoops.

But Saturday went well. When we went out for dinner the next night, I got another lucky margarita to prepare for the upcoming races.

So back to the topic at hand. It was a short course, and the race was something like 15 minutes plus a few laps. I don't know, I just planned on suffering as hard as I could until it was over. I started out in the back again (12th at least) and worked my way up. On one of the last few laps, I came up on a racer I wanted badly to pass. However, I was a bit blown. I had resigned myself to that placing, but then I noticed she was slowing on the hill. I dug in, got past her, and held it for a few more laps to come in 4th place!

Passing some ladies:
Impreza Short Track Cat 1 Women

Wheezing for breath, praying for the end:
Impreza Short Track Cat 1 Women

Thank God it's over:
Women's Cat 1 Impreza Short Track

Painful it was. It was also really exciting. I was feeling the aggressiveness again.

The nervousness abated for an hour, so I ate a little bit and hung out in the shade. After that I started getting keyed up for the Super D, which was a definite unknown. No one was sure how it would be run. We went up on the chair lift (AWESOME) and did a run of most of the course.

Riding the Chair Lift Cale

The course was mostly downhill, but it wasn't terribly gnarly. It used the same course we had ridden on for the XC race, pieced together to be one long downhill, then some flatter bits with some climbing stuck in. When we gathered on top of the hill before the race, they announced how it would be run. We would go in waves of about 15 riders at a time. (This was after hearing it would be TT style, that there would be a lemans start, that we would ride to the top and then down, and any number of other rumors.)

They combined the Pro and Cat 1 women, then broke us into two heats. For the first time in a long time (ever?), I sprinted at the start for a good position. The pros got out ahead, and one Cat 1 rider got ahead of me. Then we dropped into the downhill portion, and I slowly lost sight of the pros, and then the one rider in front of me got a gap. At the bottom, I kicked it up and started reeling her in. I passed her a few hundred yards out from the finish line. It was a long time before we figured out where we had placed, due to the heats, but I wound up in 5th overall for the Cat 1 Super D. Super Cool!

Sounds like a great weekend, right? But wait, there's more! On Saturday, with no hope of a real shower, I got into a bikini and had a friend aim a hose at me so I could 'shower'. If you think this does not sound like fun, you are mistaken. The sun was hot, the water was cold, and I was finally getting all the grime off. It was lovely.

On Sunday I went back to the hose to get a hair tie I had forgotten, and Ryan Trebon was cleaning off his bike and getting ready to head out. I stopped to put my hair up but didn't say hi, because I assumed he was sick of talking about the WI weather and upcoming races and all that jazz. But he said said hey, so a short and awkward conversation about WI weather and upcoming races came about.

Trying to think of something else to say, maybe keep it funny, I accidentally kicked the awkward up a notch and said, "You know, this is also an excellent place to get hosed down, I cleaned up here yesterday... er, not that I'm offering or anything." He looked up from his bike and grinned, "What, you're going to put that on the table and then take it away like that?" I laughed and said "I know, it's everyone's dream to hose down a pro racer." Just think what a blog post THAT would have been. I have failed you, loyal readers. I made my escape saying, "Well, I'll see you at Sun Prairie, maybe I'll hose you down then. I feel like we don't know each other well enough right now."

And he laughed, like I was joking or something.

I'll see you in the fall, sweet thang.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Doing Myself Proud, Day 1

Last week I signed up for The Subaru Cup Pro XCT, which sounds like a simple enough thing. It actually involved a few days of anxious emailing of officials, trying to get an upgrade to Category 1 for XC racing. Which also sounds like a simple enough thing, but several officials were out of the office.

So why the upgrade business now? Outside of Cyclocross, I haven't touched my license in a few years. I do two road races a year at most, I do endurance mountain biking (no categories), and the track I ride at isn't affiliated with the USAC. Basically, no one cares, and I'm down with that. However, the Subaru Cup is kind of a big to-do. In order to race with the women I felt I belonged with, I would have to take my Cat 3 XC mountain bike license up to Cat 1. Gulp. So I piled up all my most impressive-sounding results and sent them off, asking to jump up a few categories.

In the end, a few of the officials helped me out (I can't imagine you read my blog, but if you do, Thanks!) and I got a hold of the guy who flips the upgrade switch. Approved!

Throughout this process, though, I had begun to wonder what I was getting myself into. I was pretty sure I could hang with the top ladies (based on a couple of unsanctioned races and a half-finished race), but doubts started popping up. What if I had upgraded just take up the rear of the Cat 1 races? Some of the people I told about my upgrade problems seemed surprised at what I was aiming for. Hmmm...

Cale and I drove up to the race on Friday night to get a pre-ride in and set up camp for the weekend. I did one lap of the course and wondered again what the hell I had been thinking. I felt slow, I felt clumsy. Even my faith in my newly won technical skillz was wavering, which was a huge blow to my confidence (which I rather like having around for races).


Since I can tell this is going to be a long post, I'll just mention the camping briefly. Big storms with heavy rains both nights. Friday night was terribly windy, collapsing the tent in on us, and Saturday night there was so much lightening, the light from it would wake you up. Luckily we stayed dry, but for a few hours each night, it was hard to sleep.

Saturday morning dawned, as mornings do, and we got up to survey the damage. The trail (esp. rock gardens) was a little slick in the morning, but after a little while it dried out and was widely agreed to be better than the dusty conditions of the day before. Alright! I was still nervous and unsure as I lined up for the three lap race. If I was unhappy with the one pre-lap, how would I fare with three? We heard the Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! and were off, a long line of ladies snaking up the hillside. I was a few people up from last, where I usually start. After a minute, I started picking off the riders who had sprinted and blown themselves out a bit. I can't say much more for the first lap but that I kept picking off ladies. Many slowed on the hills or fell/dabbed in the rock gardens.

I started to feel the competitive spirit grow as I ate up ground. After two weeks off the mountain bike, things were clicking again. (Note to self, take a refresher before big races!) The course was much better as a race than a ride, like the pre-ride was. When I race I'm less cautious and will power over anything that gets in my way. While riding, I tend to analyze it before I take it on. See here, the eye of the tiger:

I was making my way through some singletrack in this state of mind when I looked up to see Claire and Andrea tangled up in one of the trickier rock gardens. April, the woman I was right behind and about to pass, stopped and got off her bike. This displeased me. She didn't ride through on the side they weren't sprawled on, and because of this, we both had to get off the bike and she got through and I got stuck behind Claire and Andrea, who were now up and blocking the trail. GRRR! I'm glad both ladies were ok, but I was upset that the ground I had fought to gain was now slipping away. It was a race, afterall.

Luckily, I was able to pass Claire, then Andrea, and then eventually April, who had gotten a little jump start in front of the shaky post-crash riders. It was on. I wasn't quite sure where I was, but I knew I was in the top ten, and I had no intention of letting that go. The whole race is a bit of a blur to me, but I think that's about how I finished. And that was good for 8th! I was and am very, very happy with this result. I don't think many people could deny, myself included, that I deserve to be a Cat 1 mountain biker. That's such a relief!

What's more, I wound up as Women's Cat 1 XC Midwest Champion in the 25-29 age group. The WORS website doesn't have the results up yet, but I think I beat 6 other women (a seventh is from CA) for this, my most impressive sounding and specific (region and age) result ever.

Midwest XC Champion Cat 1 Women age 25-29

Not a bad trophy.

Most Useful Trophy

Next up, Short Track, Super D, and my latest crush.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Tornadoes have been a theme recently, starting with last week Thursday. On Thursday, Hurricane Treads hit our apartment :) A while back we signed up with the Tour of America's Dairyland to host some pro racers, like we've done in the past for Superweek.

To set the scene for those not in the know, we have a loft-style apartment of about 1100 sq ft, and then the bike room, which is maybe another 800 or so. We've got a futon in the apartment and two queen sized air mattresses out in the garage for guests. I feel a little bad- some racers/teams get hooked up with wealthy retirees with kids in college- private rooms galore. But I detail what we can offer, so teams that get saddled with us know what to expect and can refuse if they like.

Here's a picture of the apartment from NYE... still haven't taken down the Christmas lights. Well, they look good.
Holiday Style

Believe it or not, we manage to trap some pros every year with this set-up. This year's haul is a women's team with four racers and one husband (who also races). We were expecting them on Friday, so the apartment was still awaiting its last-minute cleaning when they arrived on Thursday. Yikes! I rushed home to pick up what I could.

It's fun having them, and they're great company and guests, but it's bizarre to have so many people in the house. As an only child, I'm just not used to this kind of energy! It's like in Fight Club when the narrator is walking through the house when it's full of Space Monkeys- the house has taken on a life of its own. The cat's never been happier, though. Soooo many people to rub his belly.

The second tornado was a literal one. On Monday, we went on Russell's Summer Solstice I Scream ride. Only problem was, someone invited a nasty storm and a tornado. When one of us got a flat near a McDonalds, we decided to take shelter.

McDonald's Stop

And order some shakes. It wasn't the quality custard that we had planned on, but it did the trick. After looking at the radar, we decided to make a run for it, because it looked like we could make it before the storm rolled in, and there weren't many other options. Off we went, into the rain.

Ben and Cale

Bubba and Russell, running from the storm.

We took a short cut and drilled it down the bike path, listening to the tornado sirens way off in the distance. So I don't give my parents a heart attack, I'll tell y'all right now we made it just fine (here's proof)...


...and missed the worst of it. Tornado encounter #2, we prevail. The weather's been most tempestuous lately. Big storms, and there are still tornadoes whipping through Chicago tonight. Sheesh.

To end it on a good note, tornado encounter #3 is a most pleasant one for all involved:

Go ahead and listen! It's a great song. I wouldn't have posted it otherwise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giro d' Grafton

While I've got a lot of things to catch up on, the Grafton crit this past weekend gets its own post. Neither Cale nor I raced, but instead focused on a sustained party effort. We were there to cheer teammates, and to bring the cookout materials, cooler and the pop-up tent.

Let me tell you about the Grafton race. There's a similar race in the neighboring town, Cedarburg, and they each vie for top race. Not for any prize, but of course town pride. Grafton grooms its streets, fastidiously patching any would-be problems on the course and probably sweeping it by hand- it's that nice. They've also added a festival with a live band on the inside of the loop, making it more of an event.

Speaking of events, I think that's what some of the townspeople love the most about this bike race. That it's an Event, and Events mean breaking out the brews, having people over and blasting some music. Case in point: last year the race day started later than the previous one, and there were a few people out in their lawn chairs with a full bar's worth of booze spread between several coolers at 9:30. They asked me, "When's this thing getting started?"

This year put those guys to shame. The Pegasus camp (in the driveway) got rid of 36 hamburgers, 18 brats and 8 hotdogs. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot, but it was an undertaking. There was also a steady stream of beer flowing in and out of the cooler. The house next door to us (a teammate's in-laws) put on a party, and that thing was... woo. Let me tell you. You can see for yourself below:

Video from Andrew.

That noise? That's a hand cranked WWII air raid siren and a couple of truck horns rigged up to a light switch (one of the Pegasi is a talented electrician). You'd think one would get tired of it after 10 hours, but strangely, it was still making me giggle at the end of the day. They were just having so much fun with it. Toward the end of the race day, the guys got a little liberal with both, to the point that they'd blow the truck horns the whole time the peloton was passing.

After the race, a lot of the racers stopped by for a beer and thanked the noise crew for the cheering. It was the hip-happenin' place to be.



Racing it fun, but hanging out the rest of the time is where it's at.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Garmin Geeks

Calling all Garmin Geeks, this just in (several weeks ago)! Here's the Garmin data from our rides in North Carolina. I feel that releasing this information is like throwing money up in the air in a crowded room, except instead of bills guys are scrambling for elevation and speed. Nerds.

Bent Creek


Dupont/Bridal Veil Falls

Laurel Mountain to Pilot Rock

Turkey Pen to Squirrel Gap

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bike Packing

This weekend Cale and I went on a short bike packing trip (think backpacking, but with bikes) on the shores of beautiful, somewhat-smelly-at-times Lake Michigan. We've done a bunch of short rides north from Port Washington, but this was our first overnight foray. It was... interesting. Here was the plan: Start further north (than PW) on Friday after work, bike up to Sheboygan, eat dinner and camp there for the night. Then on Saturday, bike up to Manitowoc, start heading back down, camp for the second night, then bike the rest of the way back on Sunday.

Cale and I were riding the usuals, Cale on his Pugsley and me on the green 1x1. We both strapped our sleeping bags to our bars. This past week, Cale bought some Topeak seatpost racks, which worked out very well. They didn't shift unless they really took a hit, and they were quick and easy to remove. Cale had the tent and a dry bag strapped to his, and I got a dry bag filled with our clothes and pillows and such. On a whim, I added a small Knog backpack to the party, so I could have our toothbrushes, wallets and my book close at hand.

Me! Me me me!


We started out as planned, hoping to avoid the thunder storms that had been forecast for the weekend. About a half hour or so into the ride, we went past a couple of women that yelled for us to stop as we passed. We stopped and waited as they caught up. One of them started talking and we found out she was the mother of the girl who had gone missing on the lake. She asked us to keep an eye out for her, and I winced as Cale asked if we should call 911 if we found her. The mother was very calm as she explained that they were hoping the approaching storms would wash her body to shore. It was hard to hear.

After a few hours of riding (and apprehensively watching the shore) the sun was starting to set, so we stopped for dinner at Marjerle's Black River Grill. It was perfect- just off the lake, easy to find, and delicious. Cale had an excellent Perch fish fry and we got some classic cheese curds. The place reminded me of the bar Dad used to take me to to register the deer during hunting season. I'd sit at the bar and order pancakes while dad registered. Ah, memories.

Majerle's Black River Grill

Cheese Curds!

After dinner, we set up camp.


We hadn't packed any sleeping pads, because we figured the sand would be soft enough. Turns out, I've got enough padding for that, and old man Cale does not. He kept tossing and turning and waking me up. Harumph. About 2AM, we woke to something else entirely, though. Strange Noises. There were some weird snorting noises about 10 ft from the tent. My sleep addled brain brought forth: Montauk monster. Yes, it was most certainly the Montauk monster. I muttered my convictions to Cale several times before falling back to sleep.

The next day we had breakfast in Sheboygan as we passed through. Our now revised plan was to find a way around Sheboygan (recon for next time), head North for a while, then turn around and head home. No second night for us. We spent a few hours trying to get back down to the shore, but it was pretty difficult. There were a few rivers we had to avoid, and a lot of private land blocked us from easily getting back down to the shore.

Too deep:

Private Land, to get back to the beach after Sheboygan (we got permission!):
Stairs and Stairs and Stairs

In the end, we gave up on it, but now we know what doesn't work. We'll either pick up where we left off, or start in Manitowoc and work our way South.

And so South we headed, with a tail wind. All told we did about 60 miles, which turned out to be 2 miles too long. By the end of the trip I was tired of sand. Really tired of it. It gets everywhere! Yeah, you heard me, giggle gang. The most annoying had to be the sand in the brakes. So noisy and destructive.

And now, some more pictures:




Just South of Sheboygan

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Hayes' new Prime brakes, which we've been working on for months, are about to drop. I think the Experts look particularly badass. I wasn't crazy about the logo I came up with at first, but seeing it printed on the product is warming me to it. It fits well.

Disclaimer: these are samples, not production. The graphics will change a little bit as we find stuff that can be improved.




We also got a sneak-peek photo of the Prime Pro sample in, too. (It'll need some tweaking, but this is close to what's to come.)


Hearing from people in the office, it looks like you're either drawn to the sleek special ops quality of the Expert, or wild about the bling-bling flashiness of the Pro. I think I'm ok with that. I'd rather have people like one or the other than be indifferent about both of them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Unleashing the Tim Machine

The track got rained out tonight, but I think the bike needs unveiling anyway.

We finally got the whole thing in one place. The frame months ago, misc parts trickling in over the weeks, wheels a week ago, gluing the tires on days ago and slapping on the ol' wheel decals tonight.


Cale asked why I wasn't doing more geometric designs for the wheels, but I think the flowy floral stuff, while predictable, complements the frame.

Tim Machine

Tim Machine

National Trails Day

Saturday Cale and I did some trail work for National Trails Day. There was a cook-out and a raffle- The General Store provided the eats and Hayes supplied a couple of forks, bars and wheel bags. We worked on rerouting a section of the Blue Loop, and I learned something about oak trees.


Under the ridge of dirt in front of Gary's right hand is an oak tree root he was hard at work burying. Oaks have sensitive roots, so we 'padded' this one with extra dirt and some rocks leading up to and away from it. Apparently the exposed roots don't like being run over by mountain bikers for very long, and it can hurt the trees. We left the rest of the root (not on the trail) exposed as it had been.

I'm happy I learned something new, and I'm so glad we have knowledgeable people out there helping us build sustainable trails.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

20 Miles of Pouting

Cale and I went up to Green Bay intending to each race (solo) the 100 miles of Stump Farm. (It was a rescheduled Saturday 12 hour into a 100 miler.) We got to the race and got set up... it was just one of those days, and I was in a black mood. People were making small talk and I had to resist the urge to strike the cheerful out of them with snarky remarks. Blech. Realizing I was being a nasty twit, I kept quiet and started the race, pouting through the first lap. Whether it was all the riding last week or... well, that was probably it, I was feeling tired and unenthusiastic.

Hoping to ride through it, I slogged through the first lap. I noticed I hadn't filled up my rear tire with enough air, so on my way through the start/finish, I pumped it up. Part way through the second lap, I realized that it wasn't my error- there was a slow leak. Damn. It was probably from a thorn I had acquired in NC. I went into my seat bag to find a 26" tube and no tire levers. Boy, was I ever feeling sorry for myself. Do you know what you get when you mix Stans with dirt and wet sand and apply it up to your elbows? A dirty mess that dries like rubber cement all over your arm hair. It was about then that I threw a fit. You can think of it as the climax of the story, which had begun around 6am.

But I'm a multi-tasker, so while I threw this fit, I got the tire changed and was on my way. Unfortunately, there was little improvement. The CO2 cartridge filled the tube to a barely ridable level. I squirmed my way back to the finish line and threw in the towel. Sometimes it just isn't your day, I guess. I hadn't enjoyed the laps I had done and simply did. not. want. to keep riding.

Don't think I don't know it's totally lame to give up a race 20 miles in. It is. But I'll take the black mark this time.

The one funny thing I saw today that cracked my mood was a sign saying "Equestrian riders keep to the right". Close, guys. Equus is horse, Equestrians are those who ride horses. So, all those who ride those who ride horses, keep to the right.

Friday, June 4, 2010

NC v2 Pt. 1

I'm finding it hard to come up with a good starting point for this whole adventure, so I'll post a few photos and stories to go along with, in no particular order. To outline the trip, Cale and I visited Asheville/Hendersonville for his birthday weekend. (Well, weekend plus. Almost five full days.) We rode every day for a few hours; at Bent Creek, and two different sections of Dupont and Pisgah. At Pisgah we hit up Squirrel Gap and surrounding trails, as well as Laurel Mountain and Pilot Rock another day.

Last time I was down there, I chickened out on wading through a creek, because I didn't want to get my feet wet. Wet feet mean clammy feet mean freezing toes means missing toes. Frostbite! I failed to remember I was no longer in Wisconsin, and that it was no longer winter. This time around, I waded across at least a dozen crossings, and I never even noticed my wet feet while riding, which I totally did not expect.

Me, River Crossing

It rained nearly every day we were down there, but usually the downpours were quick. We still got in plenty of riding, though the riding was more challenging in parts. Rocks and roots were slick, and in parts of Dupont the mud was really greasy. Thus, there were some unridable parts, though we tried and tried.



And tried.


On Critters:
In Dupont on Bridal Veil Falls, we found some newts that were a lot of fun. They had fat little bellies and their toes gripped and felt almost sticky on your hands.

She turned me into a newt!

Giant snail we found on Laurel Mountain. Yum, organic Pisgah escargot.


Around Laurel Creek I ran across a snake quite literally. Don't worry, he was gone when we came back, so it would appear he made it.

Ooooh geez.

Well, that's all for now. More later when I feel like continue rambling on. Oh, you lucky readers.