Saturday, June 21, 2008

Girls Play Hooky at Blue

Schools out, girls must play
Work is way over-rated
Woohoo ride at Blue!

Kathy on monster

Hot wheels doin what she always does

Laura takes the bait

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Bikes and Old Backs

Tuesday of last week, I woke up with some sort of pinched nerve in my upper back, that left me feeling incapacitated for a few days. I was really bummed to miss a few good rides, including Sean’s Alaska bound last ride in New Jersey (If you are reading Sean, I hope you are loving Alaska). By weekend, I was on the mend, and I can’t tell you how good it felt to be returning to normal life again. Even if it still hurt to breathe, I was happy to feel alive and know that this was just a temporary glitch in my life.

Sunday I was feeling well enough to race, but by the time I figured that out, I had come across injured sport racer, Christina on the course and helped to get her back to the EMT’s. By the time I got back, I missed registration and was pretty happy to just enjoy the race from a different point of view. I did tag along behind the expert women for the prolog, and then with the leaders for lap #2. Teammates Dar and Laura both won their age group and were 1 and 2 coming in. I ended up with a light day on the bike, and all this for a good reason, as I had a brand new moto-lite waiting at home for it’s virgin ride.

Yesterday, I put the moto-lite through the test and all I can say is … WOW! I rode one of the more technical trails in the area and that bike handled the trail perfectly, being nimble, plush and forgiving. The bike feels like it could climb up a wall if I had the gas. The ride feel instilled confidence in my descending and did not demand too much finesse, creating a relaxing ride. At one point I clipped a tree at speed, and very calmly rode out the deflection. I am looking forward to some more riding on this bike. I may even try the super-D at National Championships. The bike is certainly more worthy of super-D than I. I am pretty lucky to have Titus as my sponsor.

After taking a few days off the bike, it felt great to be out in the woods again, and to ride a super cool new bike was like icing on the cake. If that wasn’t enough already, it was a beautiful day. I came across two separate families of wild turkey with little fluffy babies scurrying off the trail. Laurel around the lake was in full bloom, and tiny green blueberries dotted the bushes up on the ridges, where gentle breezes made me forget how much I hurt last week. I am very thankful to have a healing activity like mountain biking in my life.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rockin the SS at H2H Lewis Morris

The Lewis Morris race may not be the most technical race out there, but it certainly has its place in the H2H series. It has wide rooty trails and is quite fast and rolling in nature. Perfect for a single-speed in my opinion. I decided to try my hand at racing my single-speed in my usual expert class with four laps.

After a pre-ride on Wednesday, and having to fast 36 hours for a medical procedure that required anesthesia on Friday, I opted on the conservative side with a light 32x20 gearing. I ran a nevegal tire up front, a small block in back and a pink rubber-band on my tensioner.

Race day came, and as always it became very social from the get go. This race traditionally brings out a lot of first time racers because the course is not intimidating, and when I arrived I ran into three or four riders that I knew from the All Girl Rides and club outings that had just finished their first race. It was nice to take in all the new vibes, and excitement as I still remember my first race at this very same venue, 15 years ago.

When it came time to race, I lined up to the side of the front row as a courtesy. This would allow space for anyone to pass, as I would spin out with my single-speed gearing on the flat road start. Not sure what happened back there, but I found myself strangely in the lead. I actually slowed, waiting for riders to come by, but nothing happened, so I went with it, and pedaled away with everyone cheering. I sat in second place making the right turn to the climb and held strong, my heart pounding, but unable to judge my hear-rate, as I forgot to take my monitor off my other bike.

Being on a SS, I may have driven the pack pace up a notch with a climb close to the start, but I really had no choice to my speed with my one gear. It’s all or nothing. And when you descend, it is amazing how quick you learn to be efficient and use your momentum when it is you that will pay for every bit of energy wasted.

I finally settled into a pace behind Jess from Marty's and in front of my teammate Laura for lap 2. It was fun to ride together, but I may have started to get too comfortable, so when I noticed Jess slow down before the last climb, I decided to make a move and pass her, gaining some momentum, in hopes that I could stay on my bike up the hill. It worked out well in the long run, as I got back on the pace and rode ahead eventually reeling in my teammate, Dar on the last lap. Not having quite enough speed on the descents to pass Dar, I finished in 3rd place just 30 seconds behind her.

Besides a little lower back pain on the first lap, I felt great during the race. I am quite pleased with how well I rode and where I finished. Riding the single-speed can force me to work harder and can still be really fun. On top of being fun, there are many lessons to be learned on a single-speed. I found the whole day to be an exciting and refreshing change from the usual format. I am also impressed with Laura, who also rode a single-speed and finished only minutes behind.