Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bless the JRPS

Wow, Tuesday night's ride around the JRPS was awesome!

Eric joined Todd and myself for a spring fever lap of the classic downtown loop. There were a ton of people out, but the trails were not too congested. They also had amazing hero dirt! Just the right amount of moisture for fast rolling and increadible grip. My new Anthem 27.5 seemed to be purpose built for ripping the loop.

During our ride we got momentarily held up by the po po, who was driving along the gravel access road just past Hollywood semetary. Then we got chased down by none other than Joe Fish who was out for a run. We navigated accross the hanging foot  bridge to Belle isle and passed a guy walking a dog that was almost the size of a pony!

After a fun loop of the island we zipped through buttermilk and forest hill, rounding out a classic ride.

Riding in normal gear without numb hands and feet was very refreshing!

Bless the JRPS.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Danville State Championships

So the mountain bike State Championships were this past Sunday in Danville.  I had never ridden the course before.  Tom and I decided to make a weekend out of it and get a hotel room, since it's about a 3 hour drive.  We drove down early Saturday and got to the course around noon, planning to do a one lap pre-ride.  Well, remember the sleet that the Richmond area got Friday?  Danville got a couple inches of snow, that was still there.  The whole park was white.  Then up a steep hill from the parking lot we saw what must have been the race promotor on the trail with his bike, and he was shoveling!  We walked a ways up the trail and it was pretty bad- snow with mud underneath.  We decided to save our bikes (and ourselves) and not attempt to pre-ride.  It was a warm day, so the only hope was that it would all melt overnight.

That night we met Jason's family (Mason was racing too) and Tom Haines family for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, which was nice.  We all stayed at the same hotel, so saw them again for breakfast.  All night I tried not to think about those snowy trails.  What can I do?  I had driven 3 hours and gotten a hotel, I wasn't going to back out now.  It didn't help that this was going to be my first cat 1 race, so the race was longer than I was used to.  It was going to be 21.6 miles (3 laps), vs. the usual 14 or so.

The morning we got to the race there was still snow in the woods but the trails themselves were snow free, however they were completely soaked and mucky.  At the race start there was a rumor they were going to cut our race short.  They had cut my husband's 3 lap race one lap shorter, so he had 2 laps.  Then when we got to the start line the official asked us if we wanted 2 or 3 laps.  There wasn't a consensus so he kept it at 3.  I had to race longer than Tom???

So the start was up a steep hill with straight paths but tight switchbacks.  As soon as I got into the muck, it was a bizarre experience.  It was worse than I even thought it would be.  You'd pedal, but your wheels would just spin in place which was exhausting, and when you did make forward movement your bike was pulled one way or the other depending on the hidden ruts in the trail under the mud.  I must have fallen about 4 times on the first hill.  At first, I was so discouraged, I thought there's no way I can do almost 22 miles of this.  I think I came the closest ever to quitting a race.  But I couldn't, I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself so I just kept going.  My goal became just to finish.  It got easier, not because it got less muddy, but I think because I relaxed and stopped fighting my bike.  It actually became fun (mentally, physically I was suffering), learning how to ride in the mud.  I found out two things- ride through those deep puddles instead of trying to go around them- they clear the debris from your drive-train.  The other thing was when the water was literally flowing down the middle of the trail like a river, to ride in the center of the stream- the water carries the silt away and leaves sand and the sand has better traction.  (For those of you that maintain trails and are cringing reading this- I know, I know- that was the other thing running through my head the whole time- the poor trails!  But they didn't cancel the race, and so race I would.)  Another thought would poke in my head sometimes.  You know that show "Monsters Inside Me"?  There was mud over every square inch of me and my camel bag- drinking from that muddy thing, I could even feel mud stuck on my teeth.  I was just imagining what parasites I might be picking up along the way....

When I finished my second lap I yelled out to the officials whether I had one more to go, just to be sure, they said yes so I mentally geared up for another round and as I was nearing the hill at the start I heard my number being yelled frantically!  Ah...they were pulling me!  I was so excited, my race was over and I didn't quit!  (For those that don't know, an official can pull you out of a race and place you based on where you were relative to the other riders, they then pull out all the remaining racers.)  The grace!  It felt so nice to be done.

Luckily they had three hoses for people to wash their bikes and themselves. 

I learned that our teammate Tom Haines had gotten third in his cat 2 40-49 race getting a state bronze medal, that teammate Thomas Flynn finished (finishing this race was a victory, there were many DNF's), and that my husband Tom got first in his 50+ cat 1 race and took away the state gold!
For my 30+ cat 1 race I got 5th place, but got a state bronze in the 40-49 age group.  I was very happy with the results, and to get my first cat 1 race behind me.

Three state medals for out team, that's not too bad!  I think the Richesons are going to the Nationals in Pennsylvania this summer.  For Tom, he has a chance to do something, for me it will be a neat experience if nothing else.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

WC Ride - It's time to go Winter!

Todd and I met up at West Creek again for our weekly polar vortex road ride. Even though the air temps were supposed to be around 40F, rolling around it felt a lot more like 30F. I'm guessing this is because all the leftover snow acts as a giant 'cool pack' and chills the surrounding air. Great.

We were careful to avoid the multiple bucket sized corpses of rotting icebergs that lined the road, each one orphaned by a snow plow as it cleared the road some time ago.

My toes are getting sore from repeatedly getting double socked and then stuffed into my riding shoes.

Winter, this is getting old.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The KID still gettin' it

Mason is working into her early season form and a team weekend provided everyone a little bit of relief from Jeff's massive accumulation of BTS points.  Looks like she saved us 145 points this week.  Although it might a little too late for everyone as Mason's riding might be taking a back seat to healing this week...

Yeah that might take a few days to heal...

Slummin' in the snow

I had to keep close to home yesterday so my snow ride consisted slumming through the alleys and streets near my house. I visited a nearby school and rode in the tennis courts which had a very odd ice cover that was solid, but sat on top a thin layer of water with air bubbles that moved under my tires as I gingerly rode around.

Monday, March 3, 2014

I’m not sure if I ever made the varsity team

In Jason’s post about yesterday’s team ride at Poor Farm, he said he felt like he “got called up to varsity to play with the big boys”. A comment that instantly bubbled up to my already inflated ego and spawned the sophomoric drivel that awaits you if you read on.

When I was actually in high school (before the internet for you young-ins) I wasn't on the varsity team. I was in the Marching Band. My instrument shall remain a mystery... We were never really the cool kids at home coming.

A year later I remember the band instructor asking me why I was switching from Band to Drafting. I had discovered girls, guitars, and Guns N Roses. Marching Band was done! For a few fleeting high school years I was sort of a cool kid. My varsity jacket was made of denim and had an Ozzy Ozborne patch instead of a school letter.

Obsession #1

Way past college, the birth of the internet, and then the dot com boom, I had been riding motorcycles for years and was a weekend knee dragger. Every weekend I drove to the mountains with my sport bike in the back of the truck. I would unload it and ride about 300 miles of the most twisting mountain roads I could find. After many a hooligan’s outing, and getting chewed out by an off duty WV cop for passing him on a double yellow at about 120 I started to realize I needed to get on the race track, or I was going to kill myself on the street or get locked up. So I effectively hung up my leathers… my motorcycle varsity jacket. No school letter on my leathers, just knee sliders and a full face helmet.

Obsession #2

I needed something exciting and legal. My fitness also needed a lot of help. So, I started riding mountain bikes with a couple of friends from work. I paid my dues riding the JRPS way back before north bank existed and well before buttermilk was sanitized for the masses. When it came to mountain bikes I was about as Fred as you could get. However, I was a hard charger and gradually got pretty decent.

A few years later my rough and tumble mountain bike style caught up with me and I had to get help for serious back problems. It took a year and a half of physical therapy and rebuilding my core, but I had a great coach. Clarke Tanner from Optimal Solutions Physical therapy brought me back to life as a mountain biker. Did I mention that Clarke was one of the cool kids, and played college football?

Clarke asked me to race the 2008 BC Bike Race with him. That’s when I got serious about mountain biking and training. In October 2007 a 30 mile ride at Sherando was about as big as I could go, and that kind of ride left me hurting pretty bad.

I had about 8 months to get ready for the BC Bike Race, 350 miles over 7 days on the most challenging terrain I have ever ridden! I needed a training montage, err… training routine. Clarke suggested we follow AndreasHestler’s 11 week training program, and so we did. The big race came, we had many highs and lows and ultimately rocked it out! I finished the race with a finger that was taped up following a dislocation and manual relocation courtesy of my trail side body mechanic and race partner, Clarke. This race was an incredible experience and forged the serious mountain bike racer in me.

Obsession #3
A couple of years later I was searching for a cool team to race with in Richmond and I started riding for Design Physics Racing. I remember how awesome I thought it was to finally have a legit race kit and be a member of the cool kids racing team in the RVA. Years later, it turns out that the folks on my race team are an awesome bunch of riders and friends. My mountain bike varsity jacket sports our team logo and I’m always proud to be rocking it out.

My Varsity Jacket

JV Team...

Headed out to Poor Farm to meet up for the 11am BTS ride.  I joined Plassman, Toddy G, Tom R & Tyler for the ride.  I knew I was in trouble as soon as we left the parking lot...  Plassman was leading the group, barely scratching zone 2 and I was already in zone 5 sucking wind.  I felt as if I had been sitting on the bench for the JV team and got called up to varsity to play with the big boys.  As exciting and fun as the opportunity sounded (and it was), the reality is that I am not prepared to play with them at the moment.  Coach Jeff has mastered the trail system out at Poor Farm and links together the trails like a point to point race!  He had a solid gameplan which did not seem to include time to breathe.  After an hour or so we headed back to the cars for a water break and that is when I opted out of the two-a-day schedule.  It was fun to play with the big boys but a reminder that I need a lot more practice time before I can hang. 

BTS bonus for the day were free DPR t-shirts for those who showed up for the ride. 

Headed back out for round two.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday's BTS part B

As I was gearing up for this morning's ride, the work monster made an appearance and gobbled up my chance to make it to Poor Farm at 8:30. Boooo.

I'd entered the matrix and did some cyber battling while repairing a broken network route between two of our servers. Neo never showed, so I just had to take care the Agent myself. Stupid computer stuff.

I sent Sonya an email to give here a heads up, but her phone must be as old as mine... Seriously, people laugh when they see my well worn flip phone.

After work stuff settled down I got back into the real world and headed out to Poor Farm. I saw Tom and Sonya leaving and we chatted for a bit.

The trails were no longer frozen by the time I started riding so I carefully linked together the driest loops I could and rode for almost 3 hours. I repeated a lot of stuff because a lot of the trails were still to wet to ride. Fortunately by the time I was leaving, most of the upper trails were firming up nicely increasing the options.

I'm glad Tom and Sonya made it out, and wished I could have been there earlier. Better late than never.

Saturday's BTS part A

I called this BTS Part A because I assume there will be a blog for part B...Tom Richeson and I went to join Jeff Plassman at Poor Farm Park at 8:30am today for his BTS, and he never showed!  As it turned out he had e-mailed us that he couldn't make it but we didn't get the e-mail in time.  But, it got us out of the house early to get our ride behind us, something we may not have done otherwise since it was only 22 degrees when we left the house.  It made for good riding though, the wet spots at the park were frozen solid. 

I think though that Tom was disappointed to get stuck riding just with me, since I am slower than Jeff; he was hoping to have someone to play with.  Tom and I rode together for over an hour, then split ways so that he could go a bit faster.  We ended up out there for about 3 hours, but part of that was spent fixing a flat I had.  We had put on my new Rocket Ron tires last night with Stanz, as I wanted to try them out before the State Championships next weekend.  Something happened and the front tire lost the bead.

But it was a pretty day, we saw the herd of deer about 4 times.  I was thinking the trails at Poor Farm must drive them crazy, as the trails are so twisty..."The Humans are coming straight at us!  "No wait, they're going away from us!"  "Now they're coming at us from the opposite direction!"

Here is a picture of Tom with his new bike, a Giant XTC Advanced 27.5 1, with his new Industry Nine Wheels.  He loves his new bike!

On the drive out of the park we passed Jeff driving in and talked to him, he had missed the morning ride due to work.  Happy BTS part B Jeff!