Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hungryland Back 60k Gravel Grinder- Off-Road MTB Race

Hungryland Back 60k Gravel Grinder Off-Road MTB Race in Jupiter, FL

1st Overall Woman


It was a beautiful, steaming hot, muddy day for all of us who raced today. The scenery however was amazing and the race extremely tough. If anyone thought that those 60k were going to be a piece of cake, with a nice levee ride they definitely would be wrong.

All the miles of bumpy, ungroomed and overgrown grass, deep water crossing where sometimes half of my bike would be submerged, the moist and hot air lifting up off the grasses throughout the course and of course the grind of the gravel under the tires. It was a challenge from the start. Everyone worked so hard and united today and I’m happy I was able to be part of it. Congrats to all who participated and finished! Congrats to the amazing ladies today who weren’t afraid to get dirty and all the guys that I had a chance to race with!

Even though I didn’t see a Wild Boar on the trails, especially on those final grassy 6 miles, I got one to take with me home and we named him Walden…


Video of Race filmed by Air Drone...

The Whole Story...

It was an early morning start and very quiet ride up north. We were heading somewhere in the middle of nowhere and had no idea what was waiting for us. Everything around was dark blue since day didn’t wake up yet and a beautiful fog added to the magic. The less around us meant the closer we got. Finally we ended up on a wet dirt road with swamps on both sides. It was peaceful and beautiful there. But just seconds into the ride two long and slimy looking creatures just jetted in the middle of the path and started chasing each other around in a playful way. Those were two just the most adorable river otters (we call them Shish Kabobs and don’t ask me why!) which after a quick while galloped in funny hops back into the swampy water and we still could see them swimming away. It was a great sight and good start of the day. 

Getting ready for Race Start

When we arrived at the race site we seemed to be one of the first ones and a little concrete slab that was used as a parking space was located just in the middle of no one’s land…

I think I liked it there. 

Beautiful scenery of race site
With time more people arrived and gathered around the site. A full hour went by and we were ready to be set off. But before that we all biked back to the beginning of the same path were the Shish Kabobs were playing. We were all situated just behind a giant pool of water that spilled out way beyond the dirt road and to the field to the side. And we were off, dividing quickly into those who went far wide left around the water and those on the narrow right. I stayed on the right and after waiting for my turn we were at full speed quickly. The fast group of guys formed far ahead and I happened to be in the group following it. When we reached the parking lot gathering area we were sent off to the left on the path that would lead us into the HUNGRYLAND…

Pre-race gathering


It was not what I expected to be honest. In an instant we ended up in a passage with very long and overgrown grass that was uneven, bumpy, and clumpy. This terrain simply was not meant to be biked on. I didn’t know how long this was going to last and suffering did set in pretty quickly. Things got much worse before they started getting any better. Miles were going by and the burn in the legs and the whole body was fully on. Than we approached the first water crossing, one of many, it was like a big indent in the path maybe two full bike lengths and all filled with water. The depth varied from half of the wheel to half of your bike with legs being totally underwater. We just plumed in it and hoped for the best. The resistance of suddenly hitting deep water while on the bike is so strong that it almost stops you still, I was not sure if I was going to make it through but I stood up and powered with this loud sound as one would wade through the deep water. This would go on for a while with a total of six water crossings which thankfully ended, but still we were in the deep grass and I had no clue how much longer of this we had I would say some kind of frustration did kick in maybe from the unknown and from the pain that I was in. I was pushing and not willing to slow down. I even said out loud that if I knew it was going to be that bad I would have signed up for the shorter distance and I remember one of the riders telling me that probably I should considering the pace I am riding at.

And the race began

But for me as we know there is nothing in between, it is fully Off or On mode, nothing else. At that moment all systems were ON and I was not willing to slow down. I did catch up and pass quite a few riders while huffing and puffing from the heat and exhaustion, I was dreaming about seeing some flat land.

And after a full six miles I finally did, the grass spilled us out onto the gravel levy and we were directed to the right. Suddenly the scenery opened up and no longer were we in the overgrown swampy tunnel surrounded by trees but rather this vast open space in the Florida flatland with what seemed like a never ending gravel path. This is when the real work and race began. It was easier at first because of the terrain but became more uncomfortable and difficult when the speed increased.

Everyone is working hard

Now we were cruising some 17-19 mph most of the time. Thankfully I was not completely alone and had another rider by my side. We rode together until we reached sadly another grassy passage with a few more water crossings. I wondered if we will see any gravel path again. But very soon we were spilled back onto the levee and were heading now down the flat gravel track full speed and with the wind with us. It felt good to finally be able to settle now and find my pace and the zone I was comfortable with. It is kind of like disappearing in my own tolerable suffering space. We all had them and they all did vary and because of it, it was tough to stay by the side of any rider in particular for long. I joined some groups and left some groups. I was rider hoping in order to ride my own race and not someone else’s race. It required more work and pain but this was the only way to do it right. The levy loop was huge taking us in this giant circle making numerous turns on the canals to finally reach spots which would bring us to the beginning of the loop. Thankfully we didn’t have to go back to the painful grassy passage until the last 6 miles of the race.



Powering on mushy grass
Is the grass tall enough?
For every nice stretch of dirt with better padded surface and wind behind the backs we had just the opposite; the soft path with big and loose gravel and against strong wind. This is when you hurt the most and you feel like you are hardly moving. It’s easy to slip away in the scenario like this and I was watching this exact thing happening to us on the first lap. The group I was in for most of the race was great. We worked really well and Rudolfo was in it and was also working hard. We tried to stay strong but with each passing mile the pace was slipping, we went from 17 to 16 to 15… At some point I looked down and saw 12 mph on my bike computer and knew I had to do something. This is when tiny me left all the big boys and hammered my way to the front of the convoy and sped us up back to 19 mph. Thankfully guys woke up by this move and followed. 
 
Water stop in the Grind Zone

It was definitely the best part of this whole experience to see people unite and work together and encourage each other on this tough quest. I really enjoyed those interactions no matter for how long they lasted. I am grateful to the person that I rode with initially since seemed like I was hinted to lead against the wind in the loose gravel on the first lap and I just didn’t have anything more in me at that time. Thankfully later on when I regained my strength and got back to the zone and I was able to put some work in for others. The more miles and more time went by the more I didn’t mind it and actually felt better. Also I was happy and surprised at the same time to see my husband Pax right there on the side of gravel taking pictures. Thankfully next time he saw me he handed me fresh water in clear water bottle which pretty much exploded under my grip right into the air like a geyser when I grabbed it while riding still at full speed. Half of it seemed like it spilled all over Pax and I but I still got what I needed from it and made sure nothing more was wasted. Also it was nice to have this sweet drone camera which was following us at the race site and even on the gravel path. Love the images it captured, they are truly amazing.

Scott and I after the race

We were in this never ending spin cycle repeating the monster gravel loops for a big chunk of our almost 37 mile journey. Interestingly enough with all the miles initially being so painful I can’t even tell how quickly miles moved from 9th to 16th to 20th. And on the contrary I felt actually the best exactly on mile 26th, don’t know why. I was shocked in a way that we did so much of the distance already and by the time I hit the 30 mile mark and I was directed back to the miserable grass I was sad in a way because I felt I could kept on going.

Before that however I remember the rider Joel on the LG cyclocross bike;  he was simply fast and looked completely unbothered by the wind and the gravel. He was jetting through it like it was nothing. Toward the end of the second lap I had no one else in sight but once again the rider on this cross bike far ahead and it took me a hell amount of work to finally reach him. While I did it seemed like he just stopped fighting and did slow down greatly. This is when I told him how much effort I put to catch up and encouraged him to keep on going. We ended up riding together for a big chunk of the second lap and beginning of third.

On the last bumpy stretch with two water crossings, it was a third time now, we had a guy that suddenly stopped and started screaming in pain; he was just some 150 feet from finishing this section but he cramped up so badly that he jumped off this bike and was just holding on to his leg. It was tough, really it was and I was glad to see him feeling perfectly fine later on the finish line and we just laughed about it. When I got sent off by the volunteers for the final tough grassy section I was told there was a guy some 0.5 mile ahead and that I should try to get him. He was so far out that I could not see anyone for a very long time. I felt very alone suddenly and in the middle of nowhere. Now my mind started drifting and realizing how tired I was, how the evaporating moisture from the wet grass was getting to me. It was steamy, dirty, hot, humid, muddy, and bumpy; I got definitely my share today. But I still had the guy in front that I could not see, not that this actually mattered but it took my mind away from the fatigue and rather directed it to my next goal. I kept on going and other thoughts that were sneaking on me now were of the wild boars roaming around me somewhere and me being alone. This was not the coolest feeling really. But at the same time I did carry with me a Pocketfinder GPS tracker and knew that even though I am here at that moment alone I should not feel as such since my husband while monitoring knows my exact location at any time. That way even though no one was near me physically but grass I felt like I was not completely alone and I was showing my Pax that I am almost there.

Fortunately enough when my mind wondered through all those weird streams of thoughts I spotted a guy far away in the red shirt. It was a tiny dot in the distance but gave me something to work on and surely enough after some time of pushing those cranks I was able to catch up. It took so long however that by the time I caught him and some other guys we were all spilled to the road where it all started some two hours ago. All I had to do now was to turn to the left and cross the finish. Final sprint for fun with some other rider and we were done. 

Final sprint to the Finish

I didn’t expect that for sure but I got today many many times on the podium for this one performance. I had all the ladies podium, age group podium, overall ladies podium, fastest male and female podium. Yes it was more than plenty. The burritos and drinks were served  to all the riders. The medals were given to all the finishers, the trophies we got were quite special since they were hand made from the pieces of rocks and old chain rings. And I got a cute and fluffy Wild Boar which I named Walden to take home...


Overall Female Podium

Today however was not about podiums, medals, winning…
 
Feeling sleepy and needed a hug...

This day was about being happy, getting up early and getting out there, to challenge myself, to reach new limits, to don’t give up when I wanted the most.

Age Group Podium

Also it was about support for biking community, the lifestyle that I love, the nature, the environment…


Girls after the race All Smiles

And about meeting new people and spend a day alongside ones I know. To share a moment with my husband and others through this adventure…

Power of the Ladies

When I think about it however, every day is exactly about that and nothing more and whatever comes out of it is a victory in itself either way…
 
Walden getting much needed belly rub




No-one told us who we were.
No-one told us we should do this.
No-one told us it would be easy.
Someone said we are our dreams, that if we don’t dream, we are no longer alive.
Our steps follow our instinct and take us into the unknown.
We no longer see the obstacles behind us, but look forward the ones ahead.
It’s not about being the fastest, the strongest or the biggest…It’s about being ourselves.
We are not just runners, mountaineers or skiers…or even athletes…we are people.
We don’t know if we’ll find it, but we’re going in search of happiness.
What is it we’re looking for? To be alive?
Kilian Jornet – Summits of my life

Fastest Male and Female Podium
Like always huge thanks to all my amazing support:

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape, Cycleops and New for 2014 - Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!


Huge thanks to my husband Pax, who charged on his bike with all camera gear on his back around this rugged and muddy terrain… He had to go as we did through the bumpy 12 miles with numerous water crossings to photograph all of us in action. Hundreds of pictures had been taken for all of us to enjoy. Thx Mucha you are the best!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

USAT Off Road National Championships / XTERRA East Regional Championships


USAT Off Road National Champion Title
1st in Age Group
2nd Overall in the Country 
Words cannot describe...
Equipment used: Specialized S-Works Epic WC from Bike Tech Miami , Louis Garneau custom Tri Kit, LG Course Helmet, LG T-Flex 2LS Shoes, LG TR-40 Bag, Magura MT8 Brakes, Syntace Duraflite Carbon handlebars, Syntace FlatForce Stem, Syntace P6 HiFlex Seatpost, Xpedo M-Force 8 Ti, NoTubes Race Gold's, Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Racing Ralph's,  Huub Speedsuit, ESI Grips, Rotor crank, Rotor QX1 32t Chainring, KMC 11SL Chain, Salomon Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground, Suunto Ambit 2 S, Light and Motion Solite, Kuat NV Bike Rack, Clif Shot Gels, Oakley Radar Sunglasses with VR28 lenses and Garden of Life nutrition Every Day of my Life... And I used new gadget a Pocketfinder that kept track of me so my Husband always knows at all times during the race where I am.

Another year went by and I was eager to come back to my favorite race and amazing venue of Xterra Richmond. It’s easy to think that since you have been here once or twice it will be all the same and you had it figured out.

It is never the case however since so many things change each time we are here. From the weather pattern, to the race format, to the people you are racing against. And the race course is so insane, difficult, challenging, intimidating, unpredictable and exhausting like nothing else that I ever raced.


Happy to be back in Richmond

Two years back the race was just perfect, calm, clear river, dry fast trails and an awesome run. This is when I fell in love with this place and knew it will stay on my race calendar.

A year ago the tropical storm turned the swim course into a raging river and the bike course to a slimy mess that put me ultimately in the hospital with fours staples in my head. It was the only race ever for me that I did not finish because of this terrible crash.

This gave me a whole year to think about and plan my return.

And here I am driving up to this crazy city with a head full of images of us blazing down those amazing trails. I seriously miss them and just want to ride my bike here and have an awesome time. But besides the whole 884 miles being bone dry, it had to start raining badly on the last 16 miles of our trip and this awful grey sky covered the whole landscape. The joy ride was not about to happen unfortunately. We went to the hotel and planned to get on the course sometime in between the showers the following day.

Pre-ride with flooded tunnels; Part of the race course!
The purple grips on my bike were to match the electric atmosphere of the City of Richmond!

The trails were still wet after it rained here already for over two days and not everything was completely rideable or safe. We tried the following day to get out and see some more. Now the trails were drier but still not perfect. I got bruised up from this practice and kind of regretted a little getting out there on the trails.

My practice swim, the only one that I got was nice but also brutal in a way. The water level was twice as high as just a few days back and the current was extremely strong and visibility was close to none. The runoff water turned the river all dark and brown with debris and broken trees scattered all over. I got caught under the bridge in a strong current and was swimming up the river for some 10 minutes and was not getting anywhere, it was exhausting. I wondered about the race and how this was going to end up especially for those who were not strong swimmers.


XTERRA Ambassadors in Richmond
I didn't feel great the day before the race. I was nursing now a lot of small aches in my legs and was feeling tired from a whole week at work cramped in 3.5 days and an additional 13 hour travel to get here.

I tried my best to stay optimistic however and with hope that on the race day my inner power will come above it all.

The race morning was beautiful, with warm temperatures, blue sky and was full of energy.

My Pax was so excited however that when we started heading out for the race site in the morning he totally drove in the opposite direction. This added some stress of the day that he was going to go through. I’m not going to say that I was not stressed since this is part of the game to be stressed enough to be alert and motivated but still calm enough to make rational decisions. I kept my cool and after a U turn and zigzagging through a city maze we finally reached the site. I rushed for the body marking and to set myself up in the transition area. I was happy with my spot and noticed that my friend and main competitor today Brook was setup at a rack just in front of mine. We heard the announcement of the Pro start and rushed to the river bank to watch the Pro swim. All I can say is I wish we took a recording of what happened there. It was insane to watch and even more mind boggling to know we will be next soon.

Heyyy!!!

The moment the swimmers hit the first strong current everyone got swept to the side, than swam against the current and started dolphin hoping, running, swimming and log hoping along a submerged sand bar. Than when heading for the third buoy the second set of super strong currents swept everyone down the river and something that should look like a straight line looked now like a boomerang. It was a fight to make the buoy. Than the island run and back to the water for the longest and scariest part of the river. This is where hell opened up and almost everyone got swept by the river and had an extremely difficult time making the 5th buoy. If it was missed just by a few feet it was close to impossible to make it back up against the current and around the buoy. After a while of battling the current a big number of the Pro racers gave up and swam to the next buoy. However some of the racers were enforced to keep on trying and were kept swimming in this nightmarish infinity pool like a scenario for a long time without getting anywhere. This was dramatic to watch from the shore and even the last buoy didn’t look so easy to get around for them and there was a lot of chaos around this spot. This was definitely something amazing to be seen.

I had to rush now however for a quick warm up and get on with my race since I was starting just shortly after. When I got to the water edge this is when Brook and I finally had a chance to talk. For her being such a terrific swimmer I found out that she didn't even attempt to preview the swim course, it was so intimidating. I knew however that she would do well and we both tried to stay positive.


Brook and myself before the race start. Obviously both of us are quite concerned...
I positioned myself in the murky and fast moving water full of tree branches. The river was quite deep after few steps in and there was no way I could stay in the same spot and wait for the race start. Thankfully some ladies discovered a partially submerged tree branch that many of us stood on and were holding on for the dear life.
Swim, run, swim, run, swim?
 The super loud cannon went off. I jumped off the branch and I was off sprinting to the middle of the river to the first buoy. I looked around and I liked what I saw, seemed I was in a good lead at least with the ladies that were next to me. But after reaching the first buoy and heading now against the current this is where fatigue started to get to me pretty quickly. This buoy was pretty congested and everyone was stacked up on each other in a very narrow section between a small island to the right and strong current to the left. I had two ladies under my both arms and a strong current rushing against my body and I had no means to keep moving forward in that fashion. It was a hard battle and getting out of this bottle neck was lengthy and close to impossible. I was gasping now and was extremely tired and was dreaming of getting on this sand bar as soon as I could.

Which side of the buoy?

When I finally got there I didn't care the water was still deep, it just felt so good to have feet on the ground. After some walking, hoping, jogging I was off for the next buoy. Thankfully I aimed just perfectly and didn't get swiped away but the strong current. But when I looked to the left of me most of the swimmers were already down the river. Next buoy and island run and I had to jump in for the most intimidating part of the river. The current here was so strong that I could only hope to stay up and not to get swept away to the tree and down the river. Somehow I was moving through this section very well and kept calm and managed to get to the buoy as close as some 15 feet away. After that I knew it should be easier but really it was not and I remember grabbing some rocks and trying to hold on to them while being swept off my feet. Two final tough buoys and I was aiming now for the boat ramp. I had to sprint out not to miss it and let the river carry me away from the swim finish. All this adventure was so energy consuming and a very long run to the transition definitely didn’t help things in any way. When I grabbed my bike I could definitely feel the pain. For many different reasons the first lap of the bike course felt very exhausting and stressful in a way for me.

I pretty much flew off my bike after getting off the bridge and just feet away from entering the first single track while trying to figure out position with another rider. I hit my brakes so hard I skidded really far while making a turn trying not to fall down the stone edge to the staircase on my right and fell hard on my side. Luckily my Magura MT8 Brakes are so light and powerful they did the trick. This definitely shook me up and it was not a good bike start; thankfully my race didn't end here at this moment but was just about to begin.


Great picture by Rick Kent from EnduroPhoto. Diving into the tunnel...
XTERRA Americas Tour Championships Events has the very best most consistently great official photographers...
Those trails were so technical and challenging that I had to pay attention to all the roots, rocks, drops like a hawk. I rode as smooth as possible and was hoping to make some necessary ground. I was 4.5 minutes back after Brook and 6 to Misty, both amazing swimmers. Everything went pretty smooth until we got to the flooded tunnels and hike a bike climb out of it and into the Forest Hills Trail system. On the way out of the trail however and final rocky descend (Craig Evans' Creek) to the tunnel there was a rider down on the bottom of it and was being pulled as I was approaching. Unfortunately I was called not to ride this section and had to run it down. After that I was about to get on the most demanding miles of the course where all the amazing crazy spectators are, wet rock gardens and challenging wall climbs and rocky descents. The problem now was that the Sprint racers who skipped the Forest Hills were partially scattered on the trail ahead. That added sadly another element to this race that was really much uncalled for and besides being slowed down on the very demanding sections, often I had to get off my bike and just almost pedal with hardly moving forward since a line of slower riders was occupying the trails.

Man down ahead !!!

When I approached the rock climb I had a slower rider in front and was forced to dismount after covering only the first section. It was frustrating at least and I did everything I possibly could to get around all this traffic. I was happy however to ride fully the longest and most difficult and wet rock garden where tens of spectators were yelling and cheering me on when I was clearing rock after rock and ultimately succeeded. It was fun and all the encouragement gave me strength to keep fighting those elements. At some point I had an older gentlemen standing right in the middle of my path with his bike and when asked if he was fine he said yes and that he just lost his shoe. Yes, his brown leather shoe was laying a few feet below right on my path. Good times. I can't even describe in one post all the chaos and everything that happened on this course that day and how many times I had to halt my progress to go around riders. I knew I was not racing to my potential but I did the best I could under the circumstances. For the better news I was making progress on Brook who was still in front and on the mile 9 from what I remember I was able to get on her tail and make a pass. And even though I got away what seemed for a while and got onto the bridge with the cheers of the XTERRA crew and Race Director Dave Nicolas, Brook was still close by. On the second lap of the bike course for the first almost two miles we were still together.

Riding down rocky section which put me in ER last year...
She is a very good rider and has a kind heart and even gave me a complement while following my tracks. After time I was on my own however working the terrain and enjoying this tough ride. I can't describe how many good time besides all the difficult moments I had. On the second lap right before the end of the forest hills I caught up to brightly and flowery dressed Misty and was able to make a pass. This is where a fast and fun descent was and I enjoyed greatly flying over the rocks and then going over a narrow concrete flood wall with steep drop offs on both sides and another wall that I was just heading now full speed on to. This required quick brakes and right or left turn and dipping once again to the tunnel. I felt more relaxed and more focused on the second lap and managed to make fewer mistakes than the first time around. I have this whole movie of the course and my race playing in my mind and I just wish I could share it so everyone can see what we all had to go through. I rode with no issues the final miles and last long rocky descent and sprinted to the transition.

Luckily for me I made up a big chunk of time on both girls on the bike part of the race, 7 minutes on Brook and 9 minutes on Misty.

It was great to see Pro’s standing around and actually cheering me on while I was getting my run gear on and was heading out of T2. I recognized Craig Evans voice in this group.

This is where the soul searching begun. The run started in the center of the city and in a matter of a few minutes we turned toward the bridge. One volunteer looked at me and another racer and said to hurry up since there is a train around the corner waiting for us. I said 'ha that's a good one" thinking he was making a joke. But just seconds later I found myself railroad track hopping and had this monster train standing just a few feet away from me. Oh my, he was not joking at all, there was a train waiting for us. Nice. Seriously in Richmond, whatever you hear and however crazy it sounds, it’s probably the truth.

Then we got the long road exposed to the full sun and the tall staircase taking us to the dry wall. This is where I got totally woozy dizzy and when walking it down I hoped I would keep my balance and somehow recover. Now the hot gravel path dipped us under the bridge into the Mayan Ruins, the steep and brutal climb. Those big wooden beams were pointing straight up and I was crawling up like a little baby and when I finally got to the top I just wanted to collapse and call mommy! It was that tough, but the good part is it was not only me that felt that way but most of the racers had the same experience.

Final steps of the dry river crossing

It was still a long way to go and I knew the girls were both out of the transition and only some 2.5 minutes back. It was not a lot. The gravel road to the turnaround point was long and almost never ending and I couldn't wait to finally get onto the single track. But when I did I was happy to do the kind of running that I like and we had some stream crossings, wooden staircases, log hopping, muddy and slimy path that led us to the famous Dry River Crossing my favorite part of the run course. We had to get our feet totally wet and ran through the water and start boulder hopping and picking good lines for some quarter of a mile at least. This was a blast but so much more difficult on the exhausted legs. Not everything operates at that state of the race almost three hours later as you are used to. I did my traversing, climbed the final huge boulders, climbed the ladder out of the river and was spilled on the gravel road and finally a winding and hilly single track. The scary part of all of it is that the girls made up just enough time that there were just behind on the river crossing and we still had some 1.5 miles to go. It was tough, emotional, painful, I heard my husband yelling “Keep pushing Beata no matter how much it hurts!”

This is where I had to take a serious look deep inside my soul and see how much will there is still left to deal with all the suffering that was needed to keep on pushing and staying ahead for the remaining miles. The single track did last for a while and was not easy but eventually I was spilled on the open path that leads me to the bottom of the foot bridge. While on the top and starting to run to the other side I looked down and didn't see girls yet but wondered if they were maybe already on the ramp and I just could not see them. Thankfully that was not the case and I kept on pushing through this long and wavy bridge while surrounded by this amazing city scape view and raging river underneath. I flew down the ramp and now last thing to do was to cover the last long road stretch running by the boat ramp where the race started and into the expo zone and into the finish. I had people cheering me on along the way and telling me to keep strong, I felt good now. I didn't allow myself to get emotional however even though I was so amazingly happy that I was able to hold my position. I screamed so loud while crossing the finish line that knowingly or not I made many heads turn. I was just simply happy, so happy; I hugged everyone who was in my way and even got a big hug from “Big Fish”; Christine Jeffrey which was super nice.

It was an amazing feeling and still I’m trying to pinch myself that long set goal and dream of winning a title of USA Off-Road Triathlon National Champion turned to reality. Also minutes later I found out I was actually 2nd overall for all the amateur women with only Hannah Rae Finchamp ahead, who is a 2x XTERRA Amateur Overall World Champion and racer for the Luna Pro Team.

This race was also an amazing tribute to Floridian strength with 3 out of top women representing the state. I was very happy to see all of us finish so strong. Brook and Misty were only a few seconds apart and finished a little after I crossed the finish line.


Very proud of this Floridian trio placing top 4 Overall; Brook, myself and Misty after the race. 

I’m happy and grateful for everything that happened along the way that lead me to this moment. I had such an amazing weekend and so many amazing people contributed to this victory.

From my husband Pax whose role goes way beyond simply being a husband and a cheering group, and a photographer; after all he took my bike apart three times and cleaned it with Pro Gold in just three days here and drove for two days across the state to bring me to this start line. Also I have to thank his mother Theresa who always takes part of this trip and meets us here and is a big help and we turn this weekend to little family reunion. Also big thanks to all my friends starting with Xterra ambassador Marcus Barton, Jonathan Parkinson, Hugh Myrick, and Frank Fernandez Posse for great moments together previewing and analyzing the course.


Overall Podium: Beata Wronska, Hannah Rae Finchamp, Alexandra Brook Pace
You guys are simply true friends and great company.

The time we spend with friends and racers over meals sharing stories and having a great time is simply priceless. Kate and Jim from Swichio, an amazing couple which has lots of love for the sport hosted a beautiful dinner for Pro and not so pro racers and I was very glad I was able to spend the time together with amazing people like Christine Jeffrey, Josiah Middaugh, always hilarious Craig Evans and super cool Karsten Madsen and Branden Rakita. Greyson Keppler who was helping me for the past few weeks prepare for this race was there and a few other fun people. Definitely it was an evening to remember.

Also a big Thanks to Jackie and Bobby from Mizner Grande Reality who contributed to our trip.

Only people that are missing from my life and I would love to share my joy of racing with are my parents and my sister who live in Poland and I didn't see them for what seems like eternity. I wish with all my heart that one day I will be able to go back and see them and race by their side so they can meet their daughter as a triathlete and no longer a table tennis player.
This race not only gave me an Age Group National Champion title but also 2nd overall National Championship title for amateurs and qualified me for the 2015 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships wherever it may be.


Age Group Podium: Brook, Beata, Kristen. Also my amazing bike Sonia made it to the podium!
This year ITU Worlds will be hosted in Zitau Germany just hours away from my home town in Poland. I can't describe how much I want to go to this race and see my family!

Also I was so happy with everything gear wise that I chose for this race. From my amazing Specialized World Cup Epic bike that took this long two thousand mile journey on the awesome Kuat NV rack, to the tires, bars, grips, to the 32t Q-Ring that I just got from Rotor just in time for this event!

My LG race kit kept me so comfy no matter if I’m in extreme heat or drained with water. My Salomon Pro Sense shoes were incredible and handled this mixed city and off road and even water crossing terrain brilliantly and my feet stayed fresh. The awesome Huub skin suit got finally its first race in and was a joy to wear. Suunto Ambit 2S watch recorded all the action and all the pain in numbers. My new Oakley glasses stayed put and clear with the VR 28 lenses which worked out well on those mixed trails.

National Championship Jersey and another Maui slot...

Also I was testing a new cool GPS tracking device from Pocketfinder for my husband’s sake. After all I was laying down the trail last year after my crash and my husband didn’t know what happened and first time he saw me after my race was in the ER without knowledge on what happened.

This time around to the minute and also to the meter he always knew where I was and that I’m doing just fine and am staying safe. This amazing device is being used now by me on all my trainings, racing and travel… You can take a look here and always know your loved ones or racer is safe and moving - http://www.pocketfinder.com/

I wanted to Thank Grayson Keppler for helping me out with preparation for this event for the past few weeks and contributing to my USAT Off-Road National Championship title.
When you are getting ready for an important race or simply want to become a faster athlete you can achieve it by working with Grayson.
Please visit his site at http://www.kepplertrainingzones.com/
Or send him an email at kepplertrainingzone@gmail.com
Or just message him and like his Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/grayson.kepp

I'm always thankful to all my sponsors for the support and trust in me and in my dedication to chasing the dreams. I'm forever grateful.

As always Thanks to...

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape and New for 2014 - Specialized, Salomon, Suunto, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains, Oakley, Huub, PocketFinder and Rotor Bike Components!

Thanks for reading and until next time!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Xterra SE Regional Championship - Pelham, Alabama


Xterra SE Regional Championship - Pelham, Alabama

Equipment used: Specialized S-Works Epic WC from Bike Tech Miami , Louis Garneau custom Tri Kit, LG Course Helmet, LG T-Flex 2LS Shoes, LG TR-40 Bag, Magura MT8 Brakes, Syntace Duraflite Carbon handlebars, Syntace FlatForce Stem, Syntace P6 HiFlex Seatpost, Xpedo M-Force 8 Ti, NoTubes Race Gold's, Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Racing Ralph's,  Huub Axena wetsuit, ESI Grips, Rotor crank, Rotor QX1 34t Chainring, KMC 11SL Chain, Salomon Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground, Suunto Ambit 2 S, Light and Motion Solite, Kuat NV Bike Rack, Clif Shot Gels, Oakley Radar Sunglasses with G30 lenses and Garden of Life nutrition Every Day of my Life...

Fun and Crazy Xterra Athletes!

Wow. What a race and in such adverse conditions.
From the hail cold rain to the dark and wet single track to the sunny run finish.
I pushed so hard I spent 20 minutes after the race in the medical tent. It was all worth it.
I got 2nd place in age group and 6th overall and Fastest Bike split of all age groupers by over 3 minutes and even beat 3 pros.



And I received a qualifying spot to the Xterra World Championships in Maui. Yay.

I was happy to start our drive to Oak Mountain on Wednesday morning, even though we were already after a few long days at work and pretty tired. This is one of my favorite trips in the season and I always make sure to make everything just right to enjoy it.

Native cross vine...

To do so we decided to book a beautiful cabin right in the park way in advance and invited a bunch of friends to stay with us. We definitely had our weekend cut out to be fun and interesting with a few personalities under the roof. From dolphin fast Misty “Rybka” (which in Polish means little fishy) to our future Pro racer Grayson and fellow South Floridian Jonathan and myself and my husband we had a full house. It was a good change from our normal rather peaceful and quiet approach to the Alabama visit.

But besides the company it was all about the race and the race was all about the terrain, competition and also the weather. It was quite tough to figure out what we were going to get during the actual race since there were mixed weather predictions and really Mother Nature was playing some games with us this whole weekend.








During our 11 hour drive from home and rather lengthy stop for lunch we knew were running slightly late to what we wanted to be but we stayed optimistic. But when we finally left the state of Florida and crossed the Alabama border with all the Peanut shops scattered all over we knew things were going to change. The sky got dark; angry almost dark blue and purple clouds seemed to touch the pine trees on the sides of the highway. And the rain started and it down poured for three hours straight almost until we got to the cabin. But at least our bikes where nice and cozy in Kuat NV Bike Rack! Unfortunately when we got there it was already dark and damp in the park. I knew I was not getting today my mini 15 min spin out from the travel ride and we just headed as quickly as we could to bed. The cabin was quiet and felt quite empty but it was all going to change the following morning.


 

Super Girls!!!

The skies cleared and the sun started drying up the park. The air was cold however and we had to layer up to come out on the deck and have morning tea. After a nice breakfast prepared in the cabin’s spacious kitchen we were awaiting for our roommate Misty to arrive. She made it to Oak Mountain in very good time and the three of us were able to head out to pre ride the bike course. It was a joy ride and we didn't rush it at all and enjoyed the park as much as we could. The roots were still slick and some sections were still a little wet therefore there was not much of a very aggressive ride. Super-fast or just fast worked for me and I just loved jetting down the single track of this beautiful course. My Pax was riding his hoodie wrapped around his neck and at speed looked like Superman on the bike. It cracked us up and inspired us to snap the Super Girls picture right next to the boulder that tumbled down just recently off the massive mountain just by the side of the 3 mile jeep road climb that was part of the race course.





On the blood rock section we stopped for few minutes and I was able to get lower than in previous years but still didn't attempt to ride it down fully. Right about now the rest of our roommates got also on the course and was getting their practice in. We loved the rest of the ride with the rather lengthy Rattlesnake Ridge trail and we headed to the cabin. Plan for tonight was to get together with all other Xterra racers and have a nice dinner from the grill at the cabin. It was so brrr cold outside however, I think in the 50s that after throwing the chicken on the grill everyone just conglomerated inside. We had an awesome meal and great evening together.

Since everyone was tired from their travel and practice we went to bed at a decent time. The next morning was just the most perfect day you can imagine, with this gorgeous blue sky, crisp cool air, little breeze that would carry the amazing flowering honeysuckle vine smell all over the forest. Now the trails were just perfect and we only wished it would be like this for the following morning. Since everyone has their pre-race rituals we did some things together like go for a little swim in the lake and some separated like for a bike and run practice. The plan was to have another simple meal at the cabin and settle early for race morning.

Since there is practically no phone reception in the cabin and no internet no one really knew the weather pattern for the race. I would not expect that in the million years by how gorgeous our Friday was that Saturday morning would wake us up with a grey sky, very cold air and a light drizzle.

For past few days with the weather playing tricks on us, that made us wonder if it was going to be sunny or rainy and the lake temperature kept hovering near wetsuit legal and not legal digits. No one knew which way we were going to race so we practiced small swims in both.
 
Under the Xterra banner swim continues...

After a very quick and racer specific breakfast we headed to transition. Some of us decided to drive and some of us biked as a warm-up. It was definitely wet by now. I had my race kit on, than a t-shirt, sweatshirt and a rain jacket. Now we are talking about some serious layering, but it could have been 85 degrees out too like in many past years, but you just never know what you are going to get.

So we got the 54 degree wet morning and my gear I was setting up was getting just simply wet before the race even started. Water felt much cooler than the past two days and I enjoyed having my fast Axena wetsuit on with this 68 degree water.

Swim start.
The pros were going first and the cannon blasted them off just two minutes before our start that left a thick white smoke in the air. I positioned myself to the side to avoid the traffic and the cannon blasted off for the second time. The splashing and pulling started and I got completely canned all around by the other swimmers, I thought to myself I should had started even further away but thankfully this madness never lasts for that long. Little wrist kick here and bump on my both sides and I was feeling more freedom. Now after getting some breather from that I started sighting and searching on what was going on around. I was lucky to find a swimmer that I could follow for a little bit to the first buoy. This is when I got a nice juicy punch to my head and right eye, but just under the strength of it making me feel woozy so I shook it off quick. Like usual there was a full row of the racers going for the next buoy and the water opened up more once again for the long stretch to the Xterra banner waiting for us at the shore. I was able to find another swimmer to follow and stayed with him almost to the lake shore. We ran out and around the banner and jumped back to the water. Things looked a little different now and there were not that many people around me to really make something work. One person further in front was unreachable and I was stuck to do the first long section to the first buoy completely by myself, the same happened with the second buoy and the last long home stretch. I was not happy about it but there was nothing I could have done here. I was pushing hard and toward the end and some swimmer trying to draft off of me. Seconds later I was out running to T1. It wasn’t' raining now but it was cold and I was happy to grab my bike Sonia and get on the trails.

Finishing the swim leg.

Out of the water.
So many bikers were all over the paved road aiming for same narrow single track, getting in first was priority. After I got my gloves on I approached the trails. Right from the first very enjoyable trail there were riders that I had to pass. Also almost instantly I got a reminder how wet all the roots were when my front tire just skidded a few inches to the side when I hit the root on the less favorite angle. It was all about making wise choices here while riding fast. I had to improvise at times and modify my normal lines from the dry course that we all were expecting. I loved the ride, I remembered from the last wet race how careful you have to be on those trails and I made sure to pay attention to all the details. I was somewhere near the Chimneys Trail where sudden, piercing like hail, big and cold rain drops just started bombarding the forest. Rain or no rain I knew I will be keeping my Oakley Radars peeled on on my face. In an instant we were soaked; the trails were full of mud and standing water and my body was shivering. For few minutes I was so amazingly cold and could only hope that I will warm up somehow shortly. But after a while the rain felt good actually and I turned it to a positive and talked to myself how good it was going to be since after all I was a mountain biker and I was going to handle adverse conditions well and possibly enjoy them. And I did, I was very optimistic since and treated the ride as a big adventure and a challenge and didn't let it to slow me down in any way.

Trey from Xterra crew took this nice pic!


While approaching the cabins area and going through the Rock Garden trail which as the name states has tons of little rocks scattered all over the narrow path it suddenly got insanely dark. It was so dark and we were also under a dense spring tree cover that I felt like I was doing a night ride, I thought "where is my L&M Seca 200 Light!". I could not see anything and all the roots and rocks just blended in with the ground and it was amazingly difficult to have good speed now on the course. When I got on the flatter and faster part of the trail system still it was impossible to see, the wet wooden bridges were shaving off the speed and all the wet rocks and stream crossings. On one of my favorite fast single track sections I was stuck behind three riders with a girl leading the pack and keeping everyone back. It took some time and convincing to finally have her work with us and let the faster riders go by. Now I was racing again and soon was spilled on the bottom of our long 3 mile climb. I failed to grab water from the only aid station at this spot and hoped that what I had with me on the bike would be enough.


Fast downhill after Blood Rock.
Got to eat!























The jeep road was covered with slimy boulders and was challenging at times. This is where I caught up many other riders and after I passed the famous boulder from our pre-ride area and a bridge with a nice waterfall like overlook I noticed Misty. She had this cutest super flowery and colorful outfit on but by now it was all covered with mud and completely lacked of color besides brown. We said "hi" to each other and I kept going. Few more riders and few more climbs and I reached the top of the climb. Now I was in company of the guy and a girl for the next few hilly and open miles which culminated with an ultra-fast descent that was preparing us for the Blood Rock section.


Coming out of the trail after Blood Rock.


On the open jeep road I reached some serious speeds without still maxing out my awesome Rotor Qrings. The pre-blood rock little trail was sketchy however and it was important to stay put there. At the blood rock approach I had two riders on my wheel and I was a little afraid they would possibly interfere with my riding the most grainy section and I sped up slightly to make sure I can ride on my own there. Some cheering people were scattered all over this sections and I got nice props for clearing the first part. I approached the next boulder drops one by one but things started feeling more screechy now and opted on dismounting my bike early and run the rest. Thankfully the guys behind were still further back and were also running the bikes by now but when I was mounting the bike and ready to tackle the next very fast and bumpy and rocky section the guy was pretty much just by my side. I asked him quickly if he wanted to go first and he said to me to go ahead, to be honest I was glad I was going first still since I could ride at my own pace and fly like an eagle and had nothing to worry about besides being safe and fast at the same time. My Magura MT8 brakes worked like a charm in those conditions and were there for me to rip my tires in the ground when needed! I just love this feel and sound!



Finishing the bike with a splash!
The guys were there but not directly on my tail and actually the person riding behind me on this trail approached me after the race and told me happily that I rode it super smooth and he had a good time following my tracks. The long and jittery decent turned my forearms to be cramped and stiff and when I got a chance I tried to stretch them out. Later on I approached another rider close to the road crossing and was stuck there for a little while until we got on the road. I made my pass and was heading into the next single track, now we had more climbing to do and the most fast and fun descending. I think somewhere here I clipped a small tree slightly with my beautiful Syntace Duraflite bar with ESI grips on it, but when I checked everything was nicely intact. After race I realized it was my wrist that took a bite and tiny chunk of skin was missing on it. I was in love once again and didn't care that much of the wetness since most of the rocks were gone now and we just had occasional roots. Whoever was still behind me was definitely dropped in this section since I simply had too much fun. Shortly toward the end I was getting close to the steep and rocky double drop with two arrows pointing down as a warning. I was not sure of what I was going to do since everything still was wet but by a quick split second decision I aligned myself with the bike and rode it down with some onlookers cheering me on and saying "great job". I was happy I had my Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Racing Ralph's on that I put on specifically for this race since they gripped beautifully on this sketchy and wet terrain! More bumpy step downs, rock gardens on the edge of the stream and I was on the side of the road about to go into the two final trails. My husband was there and yelled "keep pushing and you have some women ahead".


Out of T2 onto the painful pavement...
In the winy facing little uphill single track which pretty much was near the parking lot at the end of our run and edge of the lake this is where I got close to the ladies. It took me a long while to make a pass and first slower one would be holding back the second girl and myself and after we were able to pass her one by one finally I had my work cut out for me to make a pass now on the leading girl. Little later I learned that she was in a 2nd overall position for all the age group women and with making my pass I was getting her spot. She was a very good rider but I still could have rode faster. Now it was onto the last lengthy almost 3 miles of Rattlesnake and was approaching a few guys that I will also need to pass. It was another adventure on its own but I was able to get ahead and just look forward finishing my ride strong. The final two miles were dragging in a way and I kept looking now impatiently in the display on my bike on how much longer I had to go. Now there was just mile left of the single track and I was going to get spilled on the wide, fast and hilly Lake trail loop. Just before that I had another rider in front that I had to make my way around. Everything looked promising now as far as the trail ending and the fast section approaching and I was happy to jet down and fly full speed on the flowy bike return. I biked down, into the left turn, up the hill and into the sharp right turn still full speed and I did this awesome back tire burn out and my whole bike end just whipped around the corner. Ah things we do to make ourselves feel good! I loved it and aimed now for the little creek crossing which was the last section of the bike before we did hit the asphalt.


Nice single-track on other side of the lake...

When I glazed to the left I saw already Pro Men running their first lap. Final road and I was off the bike turning to transition. I got my shoes on and I was off. Now it was sunny out and starting the run on the uphill paved road didn't make things easy on me. I happened to have today the fastest bike split of all age group women and faster than 3 Pro Women and was heading out now to the run in 2nd overall position. It felt good, I was happy and proud of myself but yet so fatigued and with still a long road ahead. On the downhill on the road before getting to the double track with lots of small hills in it I stumbled upon one runner who actually was going to spend the rest of the race by my side. But here there were so many other people approaching now, not sure where they all came from but all this hard work on the bike and all the passed by me racers were going by me one by one. And the count started when the first lady went by me like I was standing still and then the next one; one by one I was losing my overall spot because of my run. It was not fun and even less fun because I was so extremely tired now, my legs were awfully heavy and I was not looking forward to those two long full loops around the lake. I got to first water station and trashed my cup on the sunny dam and blazed by my fellow racer and today's run partner, seconds later he caught up with me on the first hill, and we suffered together.

Almost end of the lap...
When on the opposite side of the lake I had Emma Garrard on her 2nd lap running by and saying "Hi Beata" I replied "Great Job Emma" and she was gone. We had some tree jumping, steep downs and steep and muddy ups, some off camber rooty sections and completely filled with mud and dirt water with a little trench to go through. It was exhausting and I was incapable to keep my heart rate (I knew that thx to my Suunto watch) where I would want it to be. It was tough, now I was done drinking my little Salomon flask and was looking forward to the next water station after the bridge. When I got there the water was handed off to the guy in front but when I asked for water I was told there is no water I have only Gatorade and I was handed off a cup full of Gatorade that I had to trash instantly. To my surprise the person handing off the water was my AG friend Melanie that I saw in transition earlier and I was shocked to see her handing off water while she supposed to race! I was all sweeten up from my Clif gel and really needed plain water. Bummer, things happen, no one’s fault but I was forced to head into lap two totally thirsty now and not very happy. My fellow running friend was trying to keep our spirits and speed up but our legs were going nowhere and we got passed by the guy who we passed previously.



He told me when you get to the dam hit it again like you did before. We tried and pushed each other during this tough run. All I could think of now was 1 being over but really 1 getting to the next water station. I was so terribly thirsty. After the dam I got finally a nice cup full fresh cold water and I sped up again. Now my heart rate went even higher and I knew I was not going to be able to maintain it for long, I didn't feel well and I started to feel lightheaded. I wanted to get to the finish. The climbs and muddy crossings were brutal for the second time around and my friend now was getting away from me slightly, but when we got on the last asphalt stretch I was able to get closer to him. I was very happy with my shoe choice for this race, as Salomon Sense Pros worked wonderfully on the pavement with extra cushioning but also were grippy and agile and light on the technical stuff. And they were amazingly kind to my hurting for past few weeks foot. Now the last little run on the edge of the lake and I was flying to the finish shoot, and just a little before it a group of little kids was aligned with their little hands sticking out and I clapped every single one of them for their little support!

The Finish

I sprinted to the finish and the moment I crossed the finish like I just bended down for second and simply my legs just collapsed from under me. I was done, I sat there and got help from Xterra crew power woman Kalei who gave me a hand and I tried to walk everything off. But something was not right and I could not catch a breath, I felt like my lungs were constricting on me and I had only 10% of air available to what I needed. I tried not to overreact but I walked over the Medical Tent and was looked into and helped there by the amazing crew. One kind guy John stood out (a dirt biker in heart) and was taking care of me during this difficult experience. I was very lightheaded, was breathing fast and my hands were tingling. I had everything checked and I was thankfully fine I just needed to calm myself down and relax. I pushed so much that my body went through a lot of stress and it was really taking a long time to get back and recover. After some twenty minutes in the tent I was good to go and almost instantly went to the podium announcements.

Myself with firefighter John who loves dirt bikes and knows how to care for exhausted Xterra athletes.

My race mates and cabin mates did awesome and super-fast Grayson placed 2nd overall for amateur men and won his age group.  Jonathan placed 8th in his age group and fell in love with his first Xterra SE. Misty after her stellar swim and half of the bike course got two flats and unfortunately was not able to finish the race. It was sad since she really had big plans for this year as far as getting a Maui slot.

As far as Pros Emma Garrard placed second and Flora Duffy won the race. For men it was a Josiah Middaugh and the second fell to well-deserved local Craig Evans who was working hard a few years to make it that far.

Emma and I after the race

After all I got second place in my age group after Brook Pace who is a swimmer and was leading the whole race from the start. Even though I had the fastest bike split from all the age group women and I managed to out bike even three pro women I placed 6th overall for all age group ladies.

I had the fastest swim and run in the history of my racing and first time the fastest bike in a full big Xterra race but still there were plenty of fast ladies on this course today.


The Poduim: Myself, Brook and Jeanine

After the podium, a nice big lunch in the cabin, little power nap I went with my husband for little cute boat ride on the Tranquility Lake. I could do this every single day of my life and don't be bored. Paddle on the little kayak in the middle of the forest, be surrounded by trees, beautiful flowers and smells and enjoy the day to the happy chirps of the wild birds and chasing around squirrels and cute deer walking by. It was refreshing and I can only wish it would last for longer. Getting back to nature and simplicity takes out only the best of people and gives the most joy. I want to spend the whole summer in a place like that and just ride my bike every single morning and take beautiful walks on the gorgeous quiet paths. Life at its greatest I would say.


Kayaking on the lake... It was so peaceful...

Not only me but also my husband had a big day today, chasing me all over this humongous forest. This time he hardly used his bike however and was all over the place popping out and photographing and cheering racers. To his excuse however of not riding a bike it was really raining cats and dogs today.

I can’t even describe how soaked and muddy I got, my pretty LG outfit was so filled with dirt through that after coming to the cabin and washing it some ten times the dirt still didn’t go away. There will be more washing on the way... During the race I tried to use my handkerchief which was just full of dirt and I would only smear more dirt all over my face while trying to use it. The fresh water from the bottle had this nice and grainy taste! The Huub towel that I put in my transition I had to wring and whole new stream of water (that should be named) came out of it. There was definitely a mud fest to try to clean all this gear after getting home!



And let’s don’t even go to my new and beautiful bike Sonia who got a taste of some serious racing this weekend. She was just covered with clay, mud and pine needles but besides the dirty look she flew on those bumpy trails absorbing all the bumps like there was no tomorrow. But thanks to my husband’s love for my bike she was taken apart just 1 hour after the race to all the little pieces and cleaned so thoughtfully. Thanks to Pro Gold and their amazing cleaning supplies it was a breeze. Now she is just waiting for me ready for our next adventure!

After all the mud racing, traveling and cleaning my shoe sprouted!

The Xterra crew had something planned for everyone for the evening today and we all headed to Margarita Grill for chatty dinner and get together to talk about and share everyone’s accomplishments. It was great to hang with Xterra ambassador Frank and meet finally in in person the whole Xterra crew and an Xterra legend Casey Fannin and his awesome wife Andrea who placed 2nd after having a great Sprint race on their beloved Alabama course.

Someone got a Maui Slot!

Simply we have tons of great memories to bring home. Off Road Triathlon is such an adventurous, diverse and amazing sport that attracts this special kind of good people that it is impossible not to fall in love and just enjoy it.

Thanks to my husband Pax for amazing pictures and endless care!

Thank you as always to all my amazing support who keeps on fueling my dreams and keeps propelling me forward!


As always Thanks to...

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape and New for 2014 - Specialized, Salomon, Suunto, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains, Oakley, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!

Thanks for reading and until next time!