Adventures in Snowab

Holy bejesus. So much went on in the last week…

So, a week ago yesterday, there was a winter storm moving in to my area (remember in my last post how the man named Smith told me it was gonna be a big one?) I managed to squeeze in a ride at Centennial Cone before the temperature dropped and the clouds rolled in. It’s a nice trail. Exposure still kills my confidence, though.

IMG_7153

I fully planned to gtfo on Friday morning and spend some quality time in Moab enjoy not being in the snow. However, by Thursday afternoon, it was already snowing pretty hard.

IMG_7157

By Friday morning, there was about a foot on the ground, and I wasn’t really sure what to do. It just kept falling, and I sort of wanted to yell at the sky to stop sending the snow down. I’d never seen more than a few inches of snow, so it blew my mind just a little.

IMG_7163

IMG_7164

IMG_7167

I shoveled out around my car so that I could possibly pack it, but, alas, the snow piled right on back in there.

IMG_7165

According to experts, you can’t drive in snow that deep unless your car is actually a lifted truck. However, eventually, a snow plow came along, and I was able to get out and start the long weekend journey. The snowplow driver probably wondered wtf was wrong with me while I stood with my mouth somewhat agape taking pictures like a tourist.

IMG_7170

Lesson learned… if you want to get to the desert and avoid snow, you should leave for the desert ahead of said snow.

It wasn’t all bad that I started my trip a day late, because apparently there was a good bit of rain in Moab on my original arrival day. I got in Saturday afternoon and dropped Indy off at Karen’s Canine Campground (side note- if you have a dog and vacation in Moab, she’s wonderful. Indy got the special little old dog treatment, meaning he stayed in her house and got to sleep in the bed) I checked in to the hostel (side note #2- a dorm bed is $11 a night, and you’re getting exactly what you pay for) and went for a quick ride on the Pipe Dream trail that runs basically parallel to town.

IMG_7175 IMG_7176

Oh yeah… I forgot to mention. I took the shop’s Mach 6 demo bike. Spoiler alert- I’m shopping for one of my own already.

Sunday I wanted to ride all day. I’d never seen the iconic Slickrock Trail, and I noticed that it was on the way up to the top of the Porcupine Rim trail, which I’d ridden last time and wanted to try out on the Mach 6. So, I packed up and started my way up Sand Flats Road.

I don’t believe much that isn’t backed by peer-reviewed research. However, I do firmly believe in Trail Karma. I had no real trail karma in the bank for Moab, so, as I entered the Sand Flats Recreation Area, I paid my $2 day-use charge and also handed the attendant an extra two dollars and said it was for the next person who came through on a bike. He was a little confused at first, wondering if there was someone I knew coming through close behind me, but he quickly figured out that I was just being nice.

The Slickrock trail was cool. I highly suggest stopping in the parking lot and reading up on the history of the trail. It’s basically how mountain bikes came to Moab in the first place- people were attracted to the uniqueness of a trail that was almost all rock surface.

IMG_7180

IMG_7181

IMG_7183

Note the distance between me and the La Sal mountains in the background of that last photo…

After a lap of the Slickrock Trail, I headed up the miles of climbing on Sand Flats Road to get to Upper Porcupine. My chain was squeaking and tweeting at me. Everyone out here uses dry lube because of the dust. I’m not accustomed to having to re-apply chain lube more often than I wash my bike, so it came as a surprise that a cumulative 4 hours of riding had left my chain in such a state. Lucky for me, the trail passed through several campground areas, and I saw a guy with bikes close to the road. He let me use some of his chain lube, and I was on my way.

The timing of my ride couldn’t have been more perfect. All of the shop shuttles to Porcupine Rim had passed through already, so there was hardly any traffic. Also, the rain had knocked the dust down a good bit, too. There’s an open air vault toilet along the way.

IMG_7185

IMG_7184

Somewhere after about an hour of climbing, I was starting to get a little tired. A mile or two from the entrance to the Lower Porcupine trail, a truck passed me. They had bikes over the tailgate and had used a yoga mat for padding… only, the yoga mat slipped out just as they were passing me. I yelled and waved at them, but to no avail. So, I picked it up, rolled it tightly, and stuck it in my pack as best I could. I figured they were either parking and all riding down the trail, in which case, I’d toss the mat in their truck when I found it, OR, their shuttle guy would be driving back down at some point.

I reached the lower porcupine parking area and didn’t see the truck immediately. I stopped to eat a snack, and just a few seconds later, dude was rolling through and saw me waving his yoga mat at him. He stopped, we chatted for a minute, and he offered to give me a ride the last mile or so up to the Upper trail. I was tired, and it’d already been a little over 4 hours, so I was happy to take a break before hitting the long trail down (which is actually another 20 minutes or so of climbing on a steep, kinda muddy section of the Kokopelli trail). When you come over the last hump to the trail, the mountains are huge and looming.

IMG_7186

At first I was a little tentative on the technical trail features. One thing about this bike is that the bottom bracket is lower than what I’m used to. So, I had to really concentrate on not pedal striking. To complicate that issue, I’m used to Industry 9 wheels, which are way awesome for ratchet-pedaling over and through dicey spots. DT Swiss hubs may be great quality and all, but their engagement is junk once you’ve ridden I9s (don’t even talk to me about the star-ratchet upgrade… still not the same thing).

I eventually got the hang of the bigger travel bike and was confidently launching baby 1-2ft drops. Then, I happened upon this:

IMG_7187

Ok, so that’s huge (by my standards). I basically reached the point at which you either need to stop safely or maintain/increase speed and thought that it was not that tall and put in a couple of big pedal strokes before realizing near the edge that it was about a foot out of my comfort zone. At the spot where I realized how far down it was, if I’d hit the brakes, I basically would have fallen front wheel/head first down the ledge, so I committed as if I actually knew what I was doing.

expected

I landed and nearly rolled away giggling before realizing I needed to turn around and get a picture of that shit. The trail was amazing most of the way down. That’s the sort of singletrack that, every time you ride it, it gets a little more fun. Pretty soon, I was at the techy, exposed area that makes me walk out of fear of rolling off the cliff. I took the opportunity to get a picture of the Colorado River.

IMG_7188

To top off the greatness of my ride, the canyon was gorgeous and green from all the rain, and I was met with a nice tailwind most of the way back to the hostel.

IMG_7189

IMG_7190

That evening, I went to the Moab Brewery and impressed two locals with my ability to put down a bacon cheeseburger and onion rings.

Seeing as it’s close to my bedtime, I’ll save the remainder of the trip for my next post…

The Weekly Update

It’s somewhat difficult to formulate a single train of thought blog post with so many things happening at once, so quickly. Over the last week, I’ve been super busy at the shop, overhauling suspension parts, building bikes, and fixing whatever else walks through the door. Words of advice- don’t get your hand meat caught in the slide on the bearing puller

IMG_7106

Also, Fox forks will randomly break… well before you reach the 50 in-lb torque spec

IMG_7117

In shop stuff that doesn’t suck, I tried out a new XTR drivetrain on a SRAM 10-42 cassette.

IMG_7119

The shifting was OK. Not perfect, though I attribute that in large part to the cassette’s ~2yrs of prior use. I think that the 10t and the 42t are what set SRAM 1x drivetrains apart from anything else, but I love the ergonomics and function of the Shimano shifter, so I’d love to try it out with a new 10-42 and see if it’s what I’m hoping for.

After building the XTR11 bike, the winter shop staff/Enduro kids showed up. They invited me to ride Golden Gate Canyon with them, and we managed to find both nice views and all of the trails that still had a snow pack on top of them. It was a nice, laid-back time that included peanut butter sandwiches and yoga. Only in Colorado can you find 21 year old college bros who can execute “tree pose” on top of a rock while holding a sandwich in one hand.

IMG_7120 IMG_7121

Through working on everyone’s bikes, Indy and I have both made some new friends

IMG_7113

Indy and Agnus played until they were both pretty exhausted. Once we were back at home, Indy passed out hard

IMG_7108

Sunday, Ky (from the pic above) and Shane (from the 92Fifty team) invited me to ride with them at a place north of Boulder called Devil’s Backbone. It was a pretty great day of riding and whatnot. Both scenery and company were excellent.

IMG_7127

IMG_7128

Afterward, they took me to a place called Georgia Boys to sample Colorado’s interpretation of Southern barbecue. It was slightly less greasy, and I’m pretty sure the collards lacked any hog jowl, but for a place far flung from its roots, it does a good job.

IMG_7129

Yesterday, I planned my own epic solo ride. It was a little overly ambitious… but that’s generally true of some of the best rides. I rode to a place about 12 miles away called White Ranch Open Space. It was… interesting. I’m not really in to trails so steep and used that they necessitate the installation of hundred of water bars, and that’s mostly what this place was.

IMG_7137

It had its high points, though.

IMG_7135

I managed to clean all of the roots and rocks going uphill to the spot in the above pic. By that point, I was so out or breath that I was slightly dizzy.

IMG_7136

The descent in this pic was very rowdy and very fun:

IMG_7139

IMG_7138

From there, I headed back towards home, but detoured through Golden Gate Canyon state park. From where I entered the park (~7400ft elevation), it’s almost all climbing up to where I exited (~10k ft) and headed home. Grand total for the day was just over 6000 feet. I’m not usually one to pay a lot of attention to amount of climbing in a ride, but jeez, that wore me out. I felt very much like this:

IMG_7144

Back at the house, I scavenged the pantry and found a bag of pre-cooked/seasoned brown rice and quinoa. I heated it up with leftover easter ham, broccoli, and then put some ranch dip on top. It tasted way better than it looks, I promise.

IMG_7146

I still feel like this guy every time I go up hill

IMG_7147

Today is the last nice day we’ll have for a while.

IMG_7148

While the Weather Channel is only predicting 1-2″ total, I was in a place called Dot’s Diner this morning (after yoga in Nederland) and an older mountain man named Smith told me that it’s highly possible that we’ll have feet of snow. Possible enough, in fact, that he and the waitress discussed how they were getting a few days’ worth of groceries in preparation. Seeing as this place didn’t bat an eyelash at the last 4-6″ that came through (which would have shut Memphis down for 3 days), hearing locals talk about snow-prep makes me think it’s time to batten down hatches and break out the fat bike. Dot’s is a unique little local place, and it was full of older mountain people sharing gossip over coffee and waffles.

dots

P.S. The biscuit at Dot’s is homemade and the size of three normal biscuits. I ate nearly everything, because I had post back-to-back big ride hunger that was potentially insatiable otherwise

biscuit

 

 

 

The Great Snow Adventure

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky”

IMG_7081

This quote from Buddha summarizes my time in The West so far. No one’s life is perfect. No matter how much they make it seem like it through social media and/or social interaction, there’s always some sort of struggle or strife or difficulty. However, there are moments that are absolutely perfect. I’ve taken to engulfing myself in every single one of them.

Sunday after morning yoga (I found a cool studio in Nederland about 20 minutes away), I scoured Google Maps, took some screen shots for later reference, and headed out on a county road that, according to everyone, would, at some point, be covered in snow. I’d never seen a road covered in snow, so I wanted to go to there (Apex Valley Road, going up Dakota Hill, for you local-types).

Most of the way up, the road was dry and in great shape

IMG_7074

Near the top, the road begins to steepen and switchback. There’s a gate that looks as if it’s used to block traffic when the road is snowed in, and it was open. I was passed by a couple of jeeps along the way. As I neared the summit, one of the jeeps was returning. The driver waved at me and said something about turning around at where the road ends at a tower. I knew from the map that the road shouldn’t end, and I knew from scouting Google Earth that there was an offshoot (that wasn’t on the official road map) that would take you to a radio tower from the final switchback. Hmmm…

I continued up, and noticed that the “clear” road straight ahead wasn’t on my garmin map. The road on my map seemed to switchback sharply to the left, where there was no immediately visible road. It literally took me a minute of head scratching and wandering to realize that the 2-3ft tall snowbank to my left was, indeed, the “road” I was looking for. I took this picture from the “corner” of the switchback. On the left, where I came from, and, on the right, where I was going.

IMG_7076

I was pretty giddy at that point. I took a few photos as I hiked and pushed and carried my bike.

IMG_7078 IMG_7079

I finally reached the top.

IMG_7080

At that point, the “road” went downhill somewhat steeply (reference the top photo). It was enough of a grade that I dropped my seatpost and coasted down with my feet stuck out wide as outriggers as I drifted side to side. I laughed a lot.

It eventually leveled out a little and I had to hike some more.

IMG_7082

At one point, I thought that the hiking portion of my journey was over

IMG_7083

But then the trail circled more to the north side of the hill, and I walked some more. The snow at that elevation had occasional spots where I’d step and fall through to the bottom, leaving me thigh-deep with my bike on top of me a handful of times.

IMG_7084

I got kind of lost after that. I passed an intersection that was on my Garmin but (unbeknownst to me) not on my map screenshots. I went under a gate that I thought was another “road closed for snow” gate, but then passed a compound-like set of cabins and large tents. Luckily, no one was there, because the next two gates I went under before I reached the main road had large “No Trespassing” signs on the front sides of them (the top one hadn’t had any sort of private property/no trespassing markers). I hightailed it out of there and descended to the highway to get back home. It was only 26 miles, but had taken over 4 hours and included just over 4k feet of climbing (and no telling how much hiking/pushing).

It was exactly the type of adventure I’d been looking for. To top it off even further, when I arrived back at the house, there were Easter Dinner leftovers still warm on the counter. I ate large quantities of food then Indy and I laid back in the Elevated Legs in the RV bed with a sleeve of marshmallow Peeps and my Colorado Trail Databook. I can’t think of many more perfect days than that.

IMG_7086

Solo Ride/Sick Whip

Black Hawk was scheduled to get a round of snow on Thursday afternoon, so I decided to squeeze in a ride before it arrived. It was 38 and cloudy- not usually weather I’d ride in, but I wanted to test out the “dry cold” of the mountains to see if I could extend my own limits of personal comfort. The route Jon gave me was ~30miles and about 50-50 dirt vs. pavement. The dirt roads here might as well be pavement. They’re graded and sealed to well that, aside from the occasional brake bumps, you can’t tell the difference beneath your tires.

The first part of the ride went by quickly because it was mostly downhill. It got chilly, and I did end up stopping halfway to put on an extra layer, but the view the whole way was astounding… basically par for the course any time you leave the house when you’re in the mountains.

IMG_7021

Soon, the road pitched upwards on Highway 72. I am a slow climber at altitude. Sooooo slooooooow. The road wasn’t busy, but the “Colorado pass” that drivers have perfected takes some getting used to. They’re accustomed to cyclists, and none of them passed too closely, but they seem to have nailed an exact 3-foot buffer at about 30 mph… frightening at first, but not bad once you realize that they seem to know what they’re doing.

With weather rolling in, the top of the climb was in the clouds. I was gassed and a little shaken by the fact that I was in the clouds and didn’t have enough light on my bike to feel like I was visible. Then, I heard music…

IMG_7022

Take this photo in just a little. It’s cold, the fog is thick, and you’ve just climbed ~1000ft up a road to the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant that feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. Now, listen to this…

I couldn’t help but laugh a little as I zipped up all my layers and headed back downhill. Luckily, the descent was fast, and, as I thought about Pina Coladas, I was able to match the posted speed limit and worry slightly less about cars. I made the turn to go back up Gap road towards Hwy 119, and, just as the climb started to get meaty, I saw this sign, and had to take a picture.

IMG_7023

I smiled the rest of the way up, mostly on my lowest gear. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it is here. The temperature dropped while I was out, and, even though I had “enough” clothing, I was still chilled, miserable, and a little exhausted when I arrived back at home base. It was the greatest chilled/miserable/exhausted I’ve ever experienced, though.

After some food and coffee, I went to the shop and started a killer build on a Mach 4 (and finished it Friday morning, after the snow came through).

IMG_7032 IMG_7033

IMG_7034 IMG_7035

IMG_7036 IMG_7037

Twenty three pounds of awesome.

It feels great to be back in a shop again.

First Week in Colorado

First things first- The Land Run 100 Race Reports are on Mountain Bike Radio now! I’d suggest listening to both episodes, but if you’re just wanting to hear my account of the race, click on “Part 2″ on this page: http://www.mountainbikeradio.com/just-riding-along/land-run/

As I mentioned in my previous post, I packed many of my belongings (including little old Indy) in my car (and a little in my parents’ car) and headed across the country. We spent the night in Hays, Kansas before making the final push to Black Hawk (or, more accurately, a little ways north of Black Hawk).

IMG_6894

I spent most of Tuesday dealing with unpacking and worked part of the day at the shop on Wednesday. The biggest accomplishment was likely cleaning the bathroom. Someone had washed parts in the shower and the floor was covered in tubeless sealant. I’m happy to say, it no longer looks like you’ll come out of it dirtier than when you entered. It also snowed Tuesday night and parts of Wednesday… a volume of snow large enough to shut down Memphis, but was barely acknowledged by locals.

IMG_6904 IMG_6907

Indy paced the shop floor until he fell asleep by the door. I moved his bed there so he’d be comfy.

IMG_6908 IMG_6909

He’s making friends with everyone around the house.

IMG_6901 IMG_6900

Wednesday evening, I packed what I needed for Moab and, before sunrise Thursday morning, we were on the road in the 92Fifty/Elevated Legs Sprinter Van heading west. The scenery… holy crap. We went from passing feet of snow on Vail Pass to the vast desert-ish area around Moab in just a handful of hours.

IMG_6916

IMG_6918

IMG_6922

Indy travels in his crate, so Duke was happy to keep the bed warm on the trip out.

IMG_6920

That afternoon, after setting up a group camp site, we went for a quick ride on a trail called Pipe Dream.

IMG_6924

…supposedly one of the easier trails, yet I managed to fall off of the trail and somersault into some rocks. Oops.

IMG_6925

That thing is still swollen & achy.

The next day, we rode up to the upper end of the Porcupine Rim trail. It was a long and gorgeous climb. The whole way up, you watch the La Sal mountains getting closer and closer as you ascend.

IMG_6929 IMG_6930

IMG_6931 IMG_6932

Last stop before you get on the trail:

IMG_6933 IMG_6934

The trail is a relentless one. It’s nearly constant rocks and rock drops. I rode a lot of it. I walked some of it. I wrecked once more on the same knee and cursed profusely.

IMG_6936

IMG_6938

IMG_6939

Back at camp, the vibe was pretty amazing. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and kind, and I made a bunch of new friends.

IMG_6943 IMG_6986

IMG_6926 IMG_6927

I was excited to go to bed at night because of the view I’d have when I woke up in the morning.

IMG_6948

Saturday, I hopped in with a group of ladies to ride the Hymasa, Amasa, and Captain Ahab trails. I’ve never really had the chance to ride with a group of like-minded women. I’ve always been a bit of an outlier amongst my Memphis peers (with the exception of Laureen Coffelt, but since we race each other on the reg, we’ve never really made attempts to train with one another), so it means that I am on my own or with the guys most of the time. The ladies here were amazing. We pushed each other, cheered for each other, took photos, and basically had an awesome “LESS YAPPIN, MORE BRAPPIN” time, punctuated with high fives and fist bumps.

IMG_6964

IMG_6963

IMG_6965

IMG_6966

IMG_6967

IMG_6968

IMG_6969

Photos of the other ladies on the same rocks are loaded on the 92Fifty Facebook Page.

IMG_6959

IMG_6958 IMG_6957

IMG_6956 IMG_6955

IMG_6951

Sunday morning, we packed up camp and I went out with the ladies again to the Mag 7 trails. It got kinda warm out there. I love the dry desert air, because the breeze actually cools you off.

IMG_6992

IMG_6989

It was a great way to wrap up the trip before piling back into the Sprinter and heading back east.

IMG_6994

Monday, I worked a full day at the shop before clocking out and recording the first remote episode of JRA. I used my $20 truckstop headphones w/a mic, and the cord needed some guidance to keep the mic closer to my face.

IMG_7010

It’s been amazing so far. Coming from Memphis,  I feel a huge sense of awe and appreciation for how amazing this place is.

 

Moving Forward

Over the last week I’ve slowly become more functioning. It was somewhere around Thursday before I felt like I was finally not crying for more of the day than I was crying. I really appreciate all of the kind and supportive comments, messages, texts, and emails.
Basically what happened was, sometime probably Friday after I left for Land Run 100, Turbo ate something in the back yard that made her sick on Saturday. She had bad vomiting/diarrhea, and Ryan ended up taking her to the dog ER Saturday night, where they kept her and gave her all of her heart meds and fluids intravenously. The diagnosis was gastroenteritis, which a normal dog would usually bounce back from with supportive care. However, given her heart disease and pneumonia, she didn’t bounce back, and by Monday morning, she was hardly able to walk.

There’s a big brown, furry empty space in every corner of my house.

Alright, enough about the really sad stuff.

I’m heading to Colorado today. My Subaru is packed floor to ceiling, and I spent all night excitedly tossing and turning, waiting for it to be late enough to get out of bed (4:15am, in case you’re wondering). Once I’m there, I’ll unpack and repack to leave for Moab for Team Camp. It’s about to get freakin’ rowdy.

If you don’t already, I’d suggest following along on Instagram and/or Twitter. Facebook is kind of a joke with their “pages.” They tend to not show posts to everyone in order to make you pay to “boost” a post. I basically only put blog links on there. Day-to-day random stuff goes elsewhere.

So, everything that’s happened in the last week puts this song in my head-

No matter how much you feel like your world is falling down and collapsing in around you, life still progresses. The Earth still turns, time still chugs forward. It will either drag you along through the dirt as it goes, or you can hop on and ride it like the misbehaving pony it is.

 

Hiatus

Sorry, the posting here is going to be even more scarce than what it already was. I went to Land Run 100 over the weekend, and I’ll post a link on social media to my audio race report once we record one for Mountain Bike Radio.

While I was in Oklahoma, Turbo, my 13-year-old Malinois with heart disease and chronic pneumonia took a very sudden and drastic turn for the worse, and I ended up having to put her to sleep yesterday morning. I don’t really know what else to say…

If we all strived to be the people that our dogs think we are, the world would be a totally different place.

Old Phone Throwback

I was doing factory resets on a couple of old phones yesterday, and I found a few 2010-ish photos on one of them. So, in honor of the hokey internet tradition of “Throwback Thursday,” here’s my collection of random flip phone photos:

That time that Matt R. passed out and we drew on him with a dry-erase marker. We thought we were being super nice by using non-permanent ink.

0203112352 0203112353

He’s a Doctor of Physical Therapy now. We’re all pretty proud.

Next, there’s Amanda Carey smoking a peace pipe (irony) after she won the Mohican 100. That’s the year that I blew up my drivetrain twice and DNF’d. I also cracked my Air 9 (scandium) frame… which led me into the awesome world of singlespeeding.

0605102000a

Speaking of Singlespeeding, that summer, I went to Colorado for the first time. I raced Marathon Nationals (my first singlespeed race) and won a bronze medal, then raced the Breck 100 (first singlespeed 100) and was the only SS female to finish (but not the only one to start).

 0720102108 0704101733

The Breck pump track was good times.

0716101701

In between those two races, I raced my first (and only) Super D (won my age group and was 2nd overall) and met my future coach (dude on the far end of the chair) and got to giggle at Deejay blasting downhill on a Jet9 and ringing his bike bell at dudes in full DH kit on huge bikes.

0711101202

I fell in love with this…

0708101324

Going further back (I had that phone for a while)- My first time in Mountain View, AR. It was actually in June of 2009 (I told you this would be a random list). How I got there? I’d gone to Lake Sylvia to ride gravel. I accidentally poked a hole in the oil pan of my car. My parents happened to be in Arkansas looking at cabins, so they came and rescued me and my bike. I rode some gravel from the place where we stayed and was chased by many dogs.

0722091027

I found pics of Thor, the smartest/worst cat ever, when he was a baby:

1110100825 1206100842

And, a reminder of one of my least-favorite mountain bike wrecks when I hit my face on a tree at Herb Parson’s lake.

0416101420 0416101418

I’d taken the pictures trailside because I couldn’t figure out what was bleeding.

So, there’s my little trip through memory lane. Some of you who are newer readers may enjoy checking out the whole stories I linked to. I know I enjoyed them thoroughly.

0503101000

Finally Snow (not sleet) Days

Last week, we had what’s hopefully the crux of our winter weather in the South. Overnight and well into the morning hours, we received a swath of sleet followed by 4-5 inches of snow. Indy was not amused when he got up for his 5am potty…

IMG_6816

Though the windchill was somewhere near 20 degrees, Ryan, Matt, and I went out for a snow ride. It was somewhat precarious at times. Any place that cars had driven on the road, the snow had packed down into icy ruts. However, we were able to make it safely out to Shelby Farms. Any place where the ground surface was gravel or pavement was pretty easy to ride on. The slow-going parts were the dirt, which was still soft and muddy beneath the snow  in any low-lying areas because of warm monsoons the previous days. Flat pedals were a smart idea.

IMG_6818 IMG_6819

IMG_6820 IMG_6822

IMG_6825

What would normally have taken about an hour to ride ended up taking a surprisingly strenuous 2.5 hours. The rest of the day was spent hiding under blankets and watching season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter.

IMG_6828 IMG_6803

The next day was a gorgeous Colorado-esque scene of snow/bluebird skies. Ryan decided to go in to work (as opposed to working from home the previous day), so Matt and I, in lieu of being stir-crazy, went out for a snow walk (the road conditions were worse for riding, and the ground under the snow was still too soaked for a good off-road ride). At the park near the house, I practiced snow-jitsu and rolled a gigantic snowball until it became nearly too heavy to move.

IMG_6836 IMG_6838

Total snow-rookie move? I got sunburned pretty bad on my face. At least I was wearing some good, dark glasses.

Now, it’s mild and damp. I don’t think I’ve seen the sun since I took these pictures. It’s just been ~50-60 degrees and raining most of the time. To put this winter’s terrible weather in perspective, the trails have been too wet to ride since Valentine’s Day, and there’s no dry end in sight. They’re totally saturated now, and it’s still intermittently rainy.

Matt, John, and I went to Herb Parson’s Lake last week before the snow and did some draining/repair on a couple of miles of trail, but the effort might be akin to using an icepick to break apart a glacier.

IMG_6805

Ruts like the ones above were on the length of the entire trail (not just in the low spots… I’m talking the entire section of trail that we walked). At least a couple of people had said “eff it” and ridden despite the ground saturation. Our turnaround point was this culvert, which had become blocked with leaves, forcing the water over the top and washing away the surface dirt.

IMG_6857

We unblocked the flow and dug a downstream hole to re-cover the pipes.

IMG_6809 IMG_6808

IMG_6807 IMG_6806

Hopefully the areas we repaired are OK. There were a couple of groups of riders who went to the trail on the snow day. Given the sogginess of what we briefly rode at Shelby Farms, it’s possible that the wet mud repairs we made were tracked through. It’s also possible that the ground was a little more frozen at the lake than what we found in town. Hoping for the latter.

 

Indoor Training

First off, I’m trying out a new WordPress theme. Comment here, on twitter, or on the Facebook page and let me know what you think.

Now, back to the weekend’s shenanigans.

Continuing my quest to maintain a healthy level of physical activity in the ongoing crap weather, I filled my weekend with various sorts of indoor activities. Riding was, again, an hour trainer ride with some intervals. That strategy seems to be doing a good job of maintaining my lactate threshold-related fitness level, and keeping to short and focused sessions makes them mentally bearable. Saturday afternoon, I went to an afternoon inversion workshop at Pike Yoga

pike

Though I haven’t practiced inversions in at least a year, the core strength I’ve gained from MMA/Jiu Jitsu made it much easier to balance upside down compared to the last time I was practicing inversions regularly.

Afterwards, I went home and made some dinner and watched the UFC 184 PPV- Rousey vs. Zingano. If you haven’t read about/heard/watched, I’d suggest a quick google search… The fight was 14 seconds long. I have to admit, in my bike racing “career” of going-on 9 years, on more than one occasion, I’ve felt the same way as Cat Zingano at the end of her fight… there’s a big difference between doing your best but still getting beaten and outright losing via your own mistake(s). That’s when experience is more of a motherf$#!^r than a teacher.

P.S. If you’re a fight fan, I’d suggest finding a replay of Friday night’s Invicta FC11 Strawweight bout between Alexa Grasso (6-0) vs. Mizuki Inoue (8-3). It’s one of my favorite fights I’ve watched since the upset/title fight between Dillashaw & Barao.

Sunday morning, I woke up early and carpooled over to LDMA in Sherwood, Arkansas for an awesome Jiu Jitsu training day. It was a ton of fun to train with some other women who were similar in size and ability to myself. Highlight of the day… being told by a guy that my guard was “ridiculous.” (in an “I can’t get out of this” sort of way)

gu

Quick lesson- if you have no idea what I’m talking about, look at these pictures. If you’re holding someone “in your guard,” you’re the person on your back, and the person between your legs is trying to get out, or “pass” your guard.

Between the yoga and the Jiu Jitsu, I felt wonderfully sore all over Monday morning. It’s been a long time since I felt that way, and I’ve missed the hell out of it. Today, I get to continue the cross-training with John and Matt. It’s been winter monsooning here, and the first local race of the season is scheduled for March 28th, so we’re going to go to the trail with shovels and drain any standing water so that it’s got a fighting chance of being dry enough for racing.

Up next? We’re under a winter storm warning tomorrow. Again.