Monday, June 29, 2009

Raccoon Mtn SERC race (and why endurance racing is way cooler)

I went up on Saturday evening to preride the Raccoon Mtn. race course. As soon as I pulled up to the parking lot I noticed thunder and some really dark clouds. The course was supposed to be a long 12.5 miles using all the technical sections. The Pro/Open women field was to do 3 laps for a total of 37.5 miles. I knew it was going to be hot, so I had my hydration and nutrition strategy all worked out with nuun and PowerBar Endurance.

The preride was long, but decent even though it rained for most of the ride. My Race King tires weren't great on wet roots, but I knew the course would most likely be fast and dry on Sunday. There were several rock garden-y sections..some with good/fast lines and many with bad/slow lines. I tried really hard to make mental notes of all the turns I didn't want to blow into and of all the better/faster lines. The trail is all rideable, everything is just different when you are racing. So, I felt pretty good about it and decided to call it a day and head to Cathi's house. She took us to a really good brewpub called the Terminal in Chattanooga. The food & beer were great..we even met up with the Faster Mustache guys who were in town to race, as well.

I got to the race venue early enough to set up my bottles with Wild Bill from the Terrapin Racing Team (THANKS) and early enough to warm up really well. As 9:30 approached they had the Pro men line up with the women just after them. Here is where they announced that they had decided that the women would only do 2 laps, one less than the men. Here is where I say "WTF"????????? Are you kidding me? Because it's going to be hot?? So what? I prepared for the heat, didn't everyone else? 1) I feel like Pro Women should ride just as far as Pro Men. 2) EVEN if the Pro Women do one less lap, it should be advertised that way on the sign-up. I probably never would have paid and driven 2 hours and stayed overnight to race 25 miles. The entire appeal of this race in the first place was that it was a technical course that would require some endurance and toughness to race the 3 laps in the heat. Not sure why this seems to be a trend where they vote on the line on how many laps to do in XC races. Except this time, there was not even a vote. I most certainly would have voted for the complete 3 laps. It's not like that in an endurance race. If you sign up for 100 miles, you race for 100 miles or DNF. If you sign up for a 12 hour, you race for 12 hours. You don't vote on the line to make it an 8 hour race because it might be hot or it might rain. I really do hate complaining about races as I know first-hand how hard it is to put one on. But, seriously, I think it's extremely ridiculous that this happened.

Anyway, on to the race.......

I started out towards the back (mistake #1) because I assumed everyone would be faster than me, and the course started out with tight, rocky singletrack so I thought I would just follow lines. Right of the bat, one girl crashed, causing a bit of a split in the pack. Then, another girl fumbled on an easy rock section which caused a huge split in the field. Suck. This is when I realized I should have started towards the front. Soon after that, I got stung by a bee on my neck. Ouch..this ended up hurting much worse than my legs did for the rest of the race! Then, there was a split in the trail where you could take a low, off-camber chunky rocky line or a high, rocky line. I chose the highy rocky line and totally botched it because... I don't know why (mistake #2). It was stupid but I think only one girl ended up passing me on the low line in the process.

While I was riding, I felt really good. I felt good climbing and through the twisty singletrack and fast downhills. I could definitely tell I was losing time through the tricky technical stuff, even though I could ride most of them I wasn't riding them as fast as all the local girls (and there were a lot of them). The worst part of my first lap came when I was FLYING into the rock drop #1 behind a guy (mistake #3)...he flew through with ease but my wheel must have kicked slightly to the right with a big boulder stopping it dead on, sending me straight onto said boulder. My shoulder, knee, and knuckle broke the fall...I spent a few minutes standing to the side while at least 20 people passed by. I didn't think I was hurt, but I wasn't sure...and I wasn't sure about my bike. My shifting was messed up in the rear and that made the next rocky climb a bitch to get through. Finally, I got the shifting straightened out and I started to come around slowly. I started passing people back and finally felt like myself again. I felt like I had lost about 5 minutes because of my crash, so I wanted to make that time up on my 2nd lap. I was feeling really good, but not experienced enough to know how hard to go without risking blowing up before the end of the race. The worst thing would be to be passed right before the finish, I think I ended up getting too comfortable sitting behind some Sport guys that really didn't want to let me pass (mistake #4). The pace was good, but I wasn't working hard enough. Finally, I came around and dropped them on the climb and downhill, and never saw them again. I had a great 2nd lap (slightly faster than my first lap) and was starting to finally learn the lines, and I finished with enough energy to do another lap...which sucked because there were only TWO!! Bummer for me, I think I would have caught some people had the race been longer. Still, I ended up 9th, I think several girls DNF'd. I also know everyone that finished ahead of me is much more experienced in the XC racing I was happy that I finished with no mechanicals and no broken bones!! I really had a blast and would love to do some more of these. That also tells me that I probably didn't ride hard enough :)

I hung out for awhile after the race, and then headed to Mulberry Gap in Ellijay for the evening. I met up with Emily for a short hour-long ride, and then out for a beer and Mexican food in Ellijay. I went to bed pretty sore, but mostly from my bee sting and somewhat from my crash. We woke up this morning to roasted potatoes, eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee..compliments of Ginny at Mulberry Gap. It was sooooo good. We got in a great 3 hour training ride on gravel road this morning before I hit the road.

Yeah, it was an amazing weekend!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

midlife crisis?

I'm sort of being forced into temporary "retirement" from endurance racing because of my (formerly knee, now hip) issues and, therefore, being forced into short/fast/painful racing. This is definitely stepping OUT of my comfort zone as the last short/fast race I did was the Cohutta 35 over a year ago. And, before that, it was 5-10K road races several years ago. Hmmph.

I'm trying to keep a good attitude, though..eventually I will get faster and at least I can start trying some new things. The track racing didn't really pan out since my knee didn't agree with the fixed gear. So, I just bought a BH Cross Bike so I can start getting familiar with the technique and handling..we have a really great CX series here in Georgia. Plus, it takes much less time to train for than 12-24 hour racing..and seeing that I don't have the time to train anyway.....

So, I just registered for my first official XC race EVER this Sunday @ Raccoon Mountain. I'm not going to hope for anything great, just to ride a steady pace in the heat and finish in one piece. If my hip/knee don't bother me, I'll consider it a victory regardless of how I finish. The big question is, is it OK to wear my new Topeak-Ergon skinsuit??? I love it! If I'm not going to win, then I might as well LOOK good, right?? (edit: OK, the consensus seems to be that it's too hot to wear a skinsuit. fine. the forecasted heat index is 102 deg.!)

By the way, there are three spots left in the Women's Beginner Mountain Bike Clinic Series. Go here for more info.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

back to basics

Lumberjack: 2, Namrita: 0

I did make it to the starting line but did not finish. I hate that. Long story short, I took off near the front and red-lined for the first part of the first lap until I finally got my heart rate to settle down. My left side TFL, glutes, and hamstrings felt really really tight which was making me nervous so I spent most of the short climbs in the saddle hoping things would loosen up. My first lap was on pace for a 9 hour day, which was OK with me (I think the winner, Betsy, finished in around 8:20). About 1/2 way through lap 2 is when I started feeling my knee twinge so I immediately started soft pedaling the flats, walking the climbs, and railing the downhills. Enough is enough with trying to "ride through the pain" embarrassing as it is, I decided I would rather DNF than keep extending my stupid injury out any longer. I don't think I did any further damage to it since I stopped riding as soon as it started bothering me, and I still got a 50 mile training day in.

Good job to all the cabin mates for a stellar race (Jeff Schalk, Chris Eatough, Roger Masse, Eddie, and Danielle Musto).

As soon as I get back to Georgia, I'm starting the singlespeed build project on the Rotwild R.R2 hardtail. I do find it interesting that I can go 2 years with doing pretty much only 12-24 hour solo races on a singlespeed and have NO knee issues at all. But, now that I'm on gears I can't seem to shake it. I must have better technique out of the saddle. Plus, I like singlespeeding better. So, I'm going back to basics...ONE GEAR BABY! The Rotwild R.R2 full suspension is on it's way, too, so at least I'll have the option to run geared at places like Pine Log, Tibbs, etc. Sounds like a plan to me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

naptime, please

This has to be short because my daily to-do list is a mile long this week. Between the Ergon party on Monday, the REI Kliniks on Tue/Wed, moving into my new office, massage and chiropractor visits, and packing for Lumberjack 100, there has been no free time! I sure hope I can get some good sleep and a lot of napping in before the race because I really need it. My legs feel like lead and I'm generally kind of grumpy. But, luckily a shipment of nuun came in so I can start hydrating. I really hope the forecast warms up for Lumberjack. Right now it says rainy and a high of 70*. I want HEAT!!!

OK, hitting the road after the Klinik report will be from the great state of Michigan.

Monday, June 15, 2009

busy week ahead

The weekend was pretty good, 4-ish hour ride on Saturday and another 3 on Sunday. I got to see the Gypsy Kings at Chastain Park last night..that is always a great time..thanks Ron for the invite! Tonight is the Ergon party at Sweetwater, then we have the endurance clinics at REI on Tue & Wed this week:

After that, it's time to head to Michigan for the Lumberjack 100. I don't plan to do any pre-riding at Egypt Valley with Danielle this year, but we might just have to get some more post-race ink. Hmm..

Thursday, June 11, 2009

step one: awareness

I've been battling this knee tendonitis for a couple months all started with the fixed gear bike I was riding all winter, I think. I never got the bike fitted and was too stubborn to use the brakes on it (dumb!), I'm paying for it as it seems to flare up whenever I try to work really hard as I did in the race last weekend. I went in to see Dr. Josh Glass again today and he worked on my knee and my alignment and kinesiotaped me back up. He also suggested I see the athletic trainer Kyle O'Day who has recently moved to Atlanta from FL. Lucky me, he happened to be in the office today. He enlightened me on what might be contributing to my issues...I appear to have some muscle imbalance in my glutes and quads and have been overcompensating. Makes sense. I also talked to Tom Coleman, the genius behind Wobble-naught bike fitting and he gave me some pointers on what to do with my cleat adjustments on my Speedplays as well as my foot position through the pedal stroke to keep my knee from pulling inwards. Like he said, you can have the perfect bike fit but if your technique is off, it doesn't matter. So, today I went in to 55nine Performance to see Eddie. He adjusted my cleat tension and got me up on the Dartfish Video Analysis. Sure enough, my fit was just fine but I was doing some funky things with my left leg trying to "overcorrect" for my knee issues. I think we are onto the root cause now, and now that I'm aware of it I can focus on fixing it. It's a lot to think about, for sure!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beginner Women's Mountain Bike Clinics- Summer Series 1

Join Namrita O'Dea of 55nine Performance and Team Topeak-Ergon for a series of three 2-hour beginner mountain bike clinics. These clinics are for women only and are aimed to: Improve skills, confidence, endurance, and overall riding performance. We will cover: Bike set-up, clothing, equipment, maintenance, proper nutrition for before/during/after your rides, riding techniques (climbing, descending, obstacles, switchbacks, cornering, and more), and how to get the most out of your available time to ride.

There is a limit of six women in this clinic so everyone receives enough individual attention.

All clinics will be held at the GIHP trail in Conyers, GA from 6:30-8:30 pm on the following dates:

July 2
July 9
July 16

Dates for the Summer Series 2 will be announced shortly!

Contact with questions and to reserve your space.

Summer Women's MTB Weekend! August 21-23 in Ellijay, GA

Summer Women’s Mountain Bike Weekend at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway

Join Namrita O’Dea for an all-women’s mountain bike weekend at the beautiful and cozy Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway in the North Georgia Mountains. Mulberry Gap is located in the middle of the mountain bike capital of Georgia. Ellijay, GA has some of the best mountain biking in the state and trails for all levels of riders. The theme of the weekend will be fun, healthy food, and good riding. It will be a great way to make new riding friends while spending a weekend in the mountains!


Supported rides (snacks, drinks, packed lunch, ride guide, mechanical support, vehicle support provided in case of emergency)

Hot tubs, massage ($1/minute), movies, relaxing cabins, bike wash, clean and cozy bathhouses, campfires

All meals are included and organic foods will be used. Alcoholic beverages are not provided at Mulberry Gap, so feel free to bring your beverage of choice to share!

Cost: $190/pp

Weekend Schedule

Friday August 21
5:00 - 7:30 pm: Happy Hour, meet and greet
7:30 pm: Dinner

Saturday August 22
8:30 am: Breakfast
10:30 am: Morning Ride
12:00 pm: Lunch delivered trailside
2:00 - 6:00 pm: Massage appointments and hot tub relaxation
Afternoon snacks provided
6:00 pm: Happy hour and Q&A (tips and techniques, tech talk, nutrition, etc.)
7:30 pm: Dinner at Mulberry Gap
9:00 pm: Movie

Sunday August 23
8:30 am: Breakfast
10:00 am: Morning Ride
1:00 pm: Lunch at Mulberry Gap
2:00 pm: Pack up and good-byes

The weekend is open to advanced-beginner to early intermediate mountain bike riders and up. Depending on the size and level(s) of the group, rides may split into different groups. Please be comfortable with riding for at least one hour comfortably, and have some experience riding on singletrack trails. Everyone will learn a lot and make new riding friends. No one will be left behind on any ride. Helmets will be required for all rides. Email to reserve your space. There is a limit of 20 women for the weekend. Proof of health insurance is required upon arrival.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Mountain Biking Kliniks at REI Atlanta & REI Perimeter

Don't forget about the clinics coming to Atlanta, GA next week June 16 & June 17. These clinics are not just for racers!

Topics include: Nutrition, training, equipment choice, building endurance, & more...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Disc Burner, the Good and the Bad

First, the good:

1. Great course, pretty fast with a few surprising technical bits. Lots of tight and twisty!
2. Great organizers, volunteers, prizes, and event (Thanks!)
3. No mechanicals (yeah!)
4. Eddie maintained overall race leader for awhile, even though he missed the Lemans start, haha
5. I maintained overall race leader for about 10 minutes until Andy Applegate caught me, that was a first!
6. 55nine Performance clients and Wobble-naughters took many of the top spots: Carey Lowery in 6 hour solo, Andy Applegate in 6 hour solo, Susan Williams in 12 hour solo, and Eddie and I in 12 hour Duo
7. We won (and got 3rd overall of all the 4-person teams)
8. We won a gift certificate that got me a new pair of Sidi road shoes!!! :)
9. Hot-weather nutrition strategy was (dare I say it) perfect!

The bad:
1. I think my knee tendonitis is back. I was only able to do 6 laps before I could barely pedal without risking being out for another week. I guess I was a little overly ambitious with the out of the saddle hammering. GRRRRR. Gotta get better for Lumberjack 100, though!

Overall, it was a great time!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

back at it

It's been a weird week. No job, no school, yet the time passes...more quickly than I'd like. I have a lot of studying to do so I can pass the Registered Dietitian exam later this month. And, while I'm building my own Sports Nutrition practice, I still need a full or at least part-time job to supplement for awhile.

Anyway, I had some good and some not-so-good rides this week. I'm still tired so I took today completely off. Tomorrow I head to Knoxville, TN to race the Disc Burner 12 hour race put on by Southeast endurance racer Dave Holmes. I'm not racing solo, though. Coach recommended 12 hour Duo so I'm going to race with Eddie. I think the Duo category is only Open so we'll have our work cut out for us. I probably won't be updating anything until after the race!

Have a good weekend!