Monday, December 15, 2014

Specialized Florida State Championship Series # 9 - Santos Trails - Ocala, FL



Florida State Championship Series # 9
Final Race


2nd Place Women Pro/Expert
3rd Overall for Whole Series

(Missed 2nd overall just by 1min 20secs on my make-up race that didn't go as planned.
Also I missed 2 races for XTERRA World Championship in Maui therefore didn't have as many as my competition to drop. Still happy)

It was a great day on the trails with more than perfect weather. I simply didn't want to stop riding... Even though it was so cold that scenery was on the frost side in the early morning hours, by the time we were ready to take off the sun was warming everything nicely and I felt good and energized.

It was the longest race as far as distance and time of the series and also the most technical. I feel doing great here would confirm precisely the order of how the podium should really look like. And thankfully after a long battle it did turn out exactly to what it supposed to be.

I'm very proud to have performed close to my full potential on this amazing track.
Also I'm very grateful for the love of my husband, the kind assistance of my supporters and all the cheering I heard during this challenge. All of it is important and really helps in those long hours on the race course... Thank you!


Full report soon...


Pax about to make Sub Zero as clean as she didn't race today! ;-)

Ladies Podium

Sub Zero rode as beautify today as she looks...



Friday, November 28, 2014

Morning ride with Louis Garneau


Morning ride with Louis Garneau

It was cool, windy and really mostly beautiful day for a nice ride with a group of fast riders.
Such an honor to ride with Louis Garneau himself and Garneau Florida.
We put some serious miles in and I did everything I could to hang for as long as possible on my mountain bike. I'm sure it would be an even better experience on a road bike but unfortunately I do not have one... Thank you for welcoming me and treating me as I belonged. Especially Thanks to Andrea from Canada for pulling me in and keeping me company on this adventure!
And of course a huge Thank You to LG for supporting me in my colorful 2014 season.

Louis Garneau, Garneau Florida and I at the beautiful Deerfield Beach

Initial miles of our ride. Still hanging in there...

Louis enjoying the ride and acknowledging my Pax

All in line with breathtaking backdrop of the ocean...

While we biked we had my Pax in our "Team Car" following us and taking pictures. We always made sure to wave and send a smile. Thank you mucha for being there, chasing us around, making us feel so important and for all the beautiful pictures!



Monday, November 24, 2014

Specialized Florida State Championship Series # 8 - Caloosahatchee Regional Park - Alva, FL


Women Pro/Expert 2nd place

Orange grove in Alva...

Original pictures at the race -

Oh it was another very exciting weekend!

Tough race, rough conditions and really insane effort. Crashes were inevitable since the trails were slick.

On the final miles I ended up riding with a ripped off saddle…



If someone asked me if I could skip one race in the series which one would it be, it would be this one.
This is my least favorite track I guess for many different reasons. But when you look at the beautiful pictures from above, the park looks pretty neat.

View from above captured by drone


I never found a flow or never had a good race as many times as I raced here already. I didn’t want to give myself any false expectations that this time would be any different.

Down into the woods




I knew I was set up for yet another difficult challenge. To make things worst it rained toward end of the day and overnight, making conditions really rough for all of us. I knew the track will be simply slick, sketchy and quite dangerous. My short warm up confirmed it and slimy mud was everywhere besides the most sunny and exposed spots. I asked my husband to change my back tire just minutes before the race start.

Also it was pretty hot for this time of the year and really humid. I tried not to tangle my mind around all the negatives and just see what the day will bring to us next.








The gun went off. We sprinted on the long grassy stretch, I was now in 2nd right behind Shelly but the 3rd rider Josselyn just zoomed by me on my left with her “Mini Turbo Boost” and ended up in front of me going to the two humps and first single track. Very quickly I found myself feeling pretty good and ready for a pass. After a half a mile I was able to sprint on the side and regain my 2nd spot. The riding felt pretty good so far and I was making really nice progress in such a short amount of time from the start.

On the hump





Little more than two miles in I passed two male riders and was going through some slick dark corners. Out of nowhere my bike wiped out in one of them and I was lying flat on my left side. The mud was pitch black and of pudding like consistency. I grabbed my bike and mounted as quickly as I could, but just seconds later I realized my bar was substantially twisted and there was no way I would be riding the whole 20 miles of this insane terrain that way. So I had to stop, get off the bike and start fixing my bar. By this time the two riders I passed went by me. I got back on and all seemed good, thankfully guys were so nice and gave me the right of way and easy passes. Thx! We joked to be more careful from now on…






Thankfully my gap was big enough to still keep my position. But later on in the worst sections of the entire course I was no longer alone. Now for the remainder of the lap I had the 3rd girl on my tail and noticed the 4th further back at some point also. We were now first in front of a bunch of guys in the slow, rooty, twisty and wet sections which with time can become very annoying.

Later we rode the steep, narrow at times and sudden uphills and downhills. Those sections of the course are very taxing and challenging everyone’s skills, especially when the roots, sharp rocks and even the cement blocks are greased up. We got spilled on some grassy flowy trails and back to another series of challenging hills. Lots of other riders were now in our company therefore it added to the chaos. Eventually we got spilled once again to the grassy section, this is when I got passed. Two riders also went by us but just seconds later I saw one guy tumbling to the side and crashing flat on the grass. Not sure what happened really but the other guy and now girl in front started getting away. In a matter of seconds I was at her wheel now and we rode this way for the last, long windy path to the finish of the 10 mile long first lap.

One of million turns



Finally the trail ended and opened up to a bumpy and wide grassy area with some 30 meters before the lap end. This is when I decided to speed up and we were both standing up powering and racing for the shoot. I made a pass and kept ahead through the scoring section and we were spilled back again on the long grassy road and sprinting once again. After everything settled we were heading to the humps of the second lap.

I kept my position and went into this lap in 2nd. I managed once again on the first miles get ahead and put a little gap. Later on however I could see the 3rd rider just a little back while coasting some berm turns.









Thankfully this time around I didn’t make foolish mistakes on the low wooden bridges like I did on the first lap. Smallest mistake that cost me valuable seconds when I went on the wrong side following a rider in front. That changed my 10 second lead to less than 5. So it was good I rode clear now of those mistakes. But there was still a lot of trail to cover. We went through the slowest sections, fast sections and I kept my position and with time found myself alone. I covered another section of the fast open trail and dived into the dark and steep hills once again. They were slightly more challenging the second time around and when I was approaching one of the steepest ones out there I had fast riders close behind me. Knowing that on the first lap I was able to ride up ¾ the way and had my tire spinning in one spot afterwards I decided to ride it little more than half way and dismount.

Infamous uphill

In a split second I decided to do that I had this gut feeling that somehow I’m going to be regretting my choice very soon. I don’t know where those “I can feel something wrong will happen in very near future” feelings come from, but sometimes they just do. The problem is it happens so quickly that by the time you realize this feeling the decision taken had been already followed by action, therefore there is no turning back. All I see and hear is a noise of all the onlookers cheering us on. I’m getting off and pulling my bike to the side of myself as quickly as I can as guys riding really fast are approaching. Before anyone realized what happened I hear the loud cracking sound and pop and saw my saddle flying high up into the air away from the trail. My bike got hit full speed and nothing could have been done now about it. I was looking for traction under my feet since the shoes where sliding on the steep, sandy and moist concrete hill. I looked quick at my bike while running up and saw that my saddle was GONE.






I was less than 3 miles from the finish in one of the most challenging hills. I heard the voice of my husband yelling “keep going!!!” I tried to mount my bike but I was pretty afraid, there was a seat post left and some sharp edges of the carbon, everything was a blur.  There were more people that wanted to pass and the trail was really tight and narrow and still had more hills. I let people go by. Later on after an off camber concrete block downhill I tried to sit on whatever was left there. I slowly felt around and could feel some surface to sit on, thankfully the carbon rails were still there. I found myself riding or standing up or putting just a little weight on whatever was left of my saddle, sitting in what felt like a hole in very weird position. But at least there was something to put some weight on. I was afraid that all my hard work will go to nothing now since I lost so much time and would not be as efficient on the remainder of the course. 

After the race with an unfortunate broken the most beautiful Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow saddle :(

But I managed, my shorts kept getting caught on the sticking carbon pieces but I fought with it and kept on going. I was not going to give up now when I was so close. I entered finally the last single track below and then a long open section. I still had a lead and was on my own. It was exciting to ride back in that matter and also very challenging. It felt good knowing that I will be able to finish besides everything that happened today. Finally I rode in happily to the finish. I placed second after a hard battle and really all out almost 1:40 hour long and 20 mile long effort. I was some 1.5 minutes ahead the 3rd place. It was first time ever in this park that I didn’t feel disappointed. It was a nice change and quite a relief. In the first place we had today like always very fast Shelly who flew today on her home course to her victory.

I look happy here :-)
What an exciting day.

My Pax in action snapping pictures. Photo courtesy of Goneriding.com

Shortly after awards we drove 2 hours home and my husband Pax after unpacking the bikes drove away for few hours in the office. To make our dreams come true and live life the way we want to we are always on the go and in a hurry, days seem to never be long enough. Often 15 hour long work days can be draining and really depressing and seem like there is nothing to look forward to in life. But what drives us both through these times is the next trail, the next weekend, the next adventure that is waiting for us…

Shelly and I at her little bike chain jewelry stand...

Amazing that riding a bike can have so much power. But it does.

Life is much better with a purpose no matter how insignificant it might seem to others that don’t understand; not easier, but better…

Like always thank you to my amazing support who is contributing so greatly to my amazing journey!

HUGE thank you to all my amazing support:
Big Thanks goes to: 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 - Mack Cycles, Oakley, Pocketfinder, Hawk Racing, Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains and Rotor Bike Components

Original pictures at the race -


Monday, November 17, 2014

Specialized Florida State Championship Series # 7 - Loyce E Harpe Park - Lakeland, FL



FSC # 7 Lakeland

Short Track 1st Place
Women Pro/Expert 3rd Place

This race week can be marked as action packed as it can get.

It started with the insane and excruciating Short Track on Saturday which brought more excitement that one could ask for. To full blown fast and technical and also quite charged Cross Country Race on Sunday. I'm still trying to recover and wrap my head around some things that went on this weekend...



Normally I would jump into writing this report a little bit earlier when all the pictures are still vivid in my head and the feelings and details didn’t have a chance to vanish for good. However this time I had to wait and let my emotions settle for a bit.

After a 2.5 hour trip to the park we quickly were surrounded by the race buzz and I was invited by Shelly (Thank you!) for a very memorable pre-ride.

It was definitely an honor and a great feeling to ride the course with the best female riders Florida has. So Shelly, Carolyn, Belinda and myself paraded in full speed at this fast and really fun race course.

This was a ride to remember and the skills of those talented riders are hard to match.

I also pre-rode with my Pax the short track race course. It was pretty hot by now since it was already 3 in the afternoon and I was ready for our short track start.

The wait however was excessively long and the female riders had a disadvantage of the race beginning with a mass start in a company of hundreds of guys. I positioned myself in the front and soon after the whistle went off and I learned the hard way my first lesson.

I was getting up to a nice speed on the sandy dirt road with all other riders while one rider from behind hit my right elbow and bar and sent me swinging for traction, by the time I did regain the control same thing happened again and I was hit by another rider. This time I was pushed harder and was working on keeping my bike under control swinging left and right while other ladies from around me started to go by. When I got back to speed again we reached the entry to the short single track with a very narrow path and a little hill covered in tons of berry bushes. This is where all the madness happened and all the riders were yelling and getting off their bikes, running over the hill and even falling and being scratched up by the shrubs.


Thankfully moments later we were back on the bikes and now more organized and proceeded with the race. It was a short 1 mile loop, mostly flat, on the dirt road, small single track, and dirt road again with a strong wind, some street and really bumpy grassy stretch to the finishing shoot. The following lap started with under the ruins pass and soft (left over from cyclocross race) sand box and we were back onto the dirt road. We had 5 of these laps and they were all out efforts. After the second lap I was sitting in the 2nd positon and at some point I decided to make a move and pass for 1st. We were all going as hard as we could and exhausting ourselves equally. It did hurt. I kept my lead and had the second rider on my tail for all this time. We went through the final single track, which spilled us to the dirt road against the wind, I had no one in front therefore I had to do all the work. Unfortunately for me the second rider was sitting right on my back wheel getting a nice draft. Now we got spilled to the asphalt for a few seconds and I was about to go on the left of a road sign and onto the grass for the final 200 meters or so to the finish. Everyone was full speed now and going over 20 mph and in about one second I’m about to hit the grass and I know we will be sprinting for the finish. But what happened instead it’s still hard for me to forget and get over.


All of the sudden I felt at full speed a hard hit into the back and side of my bike and body and instantly I found myself being pushed back on the asphalt, flying in the air and trying to maneuver around somehow the road sign to the right and road to the left. All of it while my bike just swings left and right and I’m riding it only on the front wheel and having everything sloooowww doowwnnn and was just wondering how I’m going to fall and get out of it in one piece. This is most likely the last thing anyone would want to be doing right before the finish line in a 20 minute long all out suffering race. In those few split seconds in the air and having all the weirdest thoughts I felt how unfair it was that all my hard work now not only was for nothing but also I wondered what was going to happen to me next. All I can say is I was in shock cruising like this in the air and lots of riders afterward told me they saw me and my bike just flying. There was no saving this fall but luckily to me the bike was now speeding to the left and tumbling viciously on the street again and again while I was falling to the right and falling on my right side on the grass. I landed on my right leg, hip and shoulder, therefore those parts got really sore thereafter. I feel so grateful and lucky that my body did hold up and I didn't break anything, it could have been so much worst.

When I got up all in shock the 2nd rider was gone and I grabbed my bike from the street which had a totally bent bar which was locked up on the top tube. There was no fixing anything now so I picked my bike up and started running. I was out of breath and all shook up and almost started running the wrong direction to the finish line. When I approached the tents and was running my bike holding it with the twisted headset people were asking me if I was OK. I appreciated all the concern but I was just so angry and shocked. I could not believe that I got hit at full speed in a wide open space. I feel brakes were invented for a reason and should be used when necessary. But this is as far as I’m going to go with my comments.

Only thing I want to say to everyone racing out there is “As fun, exciting and meaningful bike racing may seem to us in my opinion nothing is more important than our health and safety”. And I don’t wish anyone ever would be put in the situation like this by any other rider.

So distressed, beat and frustrated I went to the hotel room awaiting still a full blown Cross Country race the following morning.

I spent a beautiful evening with my husband Pax and we tried to forget about the incident and move on, but it was so difficult to do. I ended up having a pretty sleepless night.

The next morning I was pretty tired and sore from the wreck but I was ready to tackle one of my favorite courses no matter what.

I love the challenge and try not to find too many reasons to excuse myself from a fair fight.
The start of the XC race was positioned far back before the shoot right before the bumpiest section on the grass, the one I had to run yesterday.

We were off and after an initial few seconds I was able to go by some riders and put myself in second.


We went through the shoot, under the ruins, through the sandy uphill and were on the long side of the hill which was leading us to the single track. Laps now were over 6.5 miles long and consisted of fast and flat sections and also very technical and therefore little slower passages. I managed to speed up, go around the first rider and was now in the lead. We got to the single track and I was sitting in front for a little while and maybe a few minutes later strong Shelly jumped out of nowhere on my left and made a sickly fast pass and jumped over the roots in between trees and was now our leader.



I stuck with her for a while but it did not last. Now I had two other riders on my wheel for most of the lap and I was dictating the pace. Toward the end of the lap when I was approaching the sketchiest section of the course, the First Finger I let Josselyn go by me. Now I was in 3rd and had 4th rider literary scrubbing my wheel while hanging there up on the narrow and steep ridge. When we finally got out from this section to the flat dirt road I got passed. I stayed with her for a while but later on I ended up riding my own race.




Not sure how to explain that but I felt less energetic than usual. I wasn’t sure how much time I was back now but after reaching the first lap shoot I had two girls in my eyesight, they were not far off. My second lap felt awful however and my body was hardly responsive. I just remember the pain in my right leg and just not feeling like I was having a great day. That was a very unexciting lap but I was happy to see my Pax and Mickey popping in at all different parts of the course and snapping really cool pictures of our journey.


By the end of the 2nd lap, which was my slowest I lost some additional seconds, but still nothing major. I didn’t feel too well still going up the sandy hill for the 3rd time and on the windy side of the hill. This is where a whole class of guys approached and started making a pass. It was some loss of time having all of them trying to go first into the single track. There was now just one rider of the group behind me and when we got out into the open sandy downhill he was ready for a pass. I let him go by and just seconds later when speeding on a narrow and open path he simply ran out of gears! I told him to gear up but he said “it’s all I got” ha, let’s figure the singlespeed!


So I had to make my pass now and go by him. Seconds later we had a wall ride and another singletrack now I let him go by again. There was a lot going on in this lap but I started to feel more refreshed now and was picking up my speed. Sometime later I realized I was just 10 seconds off Josselyn in front. It took very little time to catch up and I was speeding out now in a wide open bumpy section to hopefully get in the next trail first. It didn’t happen however and I had to sit on the wheel for some time but when the trail opened again I was able to nicely and with polite cooperation from the 3rd rider go by. I was speeding now and had less than 2 miles to go. 2nd place rider was some 30 seconds ahead and after clearing the rest of the technical sections of the course and some riding with the company of some other male riders we were spilled once again on the windy dirt road. This is when I saw 2nd place just a little ahead down the road. If I only had a little more time…



Now I was riding well and feeling better, too bad the race was about to end. I crossed the finish line in 3rd, 20 seconds off the 2nd, making up 30 seconds on 4th and was 1.5 minutes behind fast, as usual, Shelly.

After all it was good day in the park considering it was really rough and testing weekend. Also when I looked up our average speeds it confirmed what I felt during the race; we were riding sickly fast! And that's awesome to be able to say that for all of us ladies out there!

It was a lot of riding, waiting and racing. But the unnecessary stress and commotion took a little more out of me that I would wish for. I hope all future races are going to be the way we all perceive bike racing should be; full of friendship, healthy rivalry and fun. This is why we get up early in the morning and put our pampered and beautiful bikes on the racks and get them out on the trails. All for appreciation of good comradery and promise of new adventures.



Huge thanks to my husband Pax for all the support this weekend, mental strength and the sweetest and coolest pictures that captured the beauty of the park and essence of our race.



 Here is sample video of 1st Finger Trail that was part of our XC the Race Course... :-)
 

HUGE thank you to all my amazing support:

Big Thanks goes to: 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 - Mack Cycles, Oakley, Pocketfinder, Hawk Racing, Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains and Rotor Bike Components!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Specialized Florida State Championship Series # 6 - Haile's Trails - Newberry, Fl


Specialized Florida State Championship Series
Haile's Trails

2nd Place Pro/Expert

Link to all my photos from this race on Flickr



I had an amazing race just a few days after XTERRA Worlds in Maui.

Only 1 second off first place. It was tough and demanding course with tons of climbing and technical single track that worked well to my abilities. I could not be more happy with my performance and challenge that I got from my competitors. It was pretty amazing weekend.

On to the Story:

Just six days ago I was competing in the toughest race I ever did in my life on the most beautiful island of Maui. I pushed my body over its limits in this excruciating journey to an 8th place finish in the XTERRA World Championship after 3:47 painful hours. Therefore, waking up just a few days later after 20 hours of traveling and not sleeping and all the insane adjustments to the six hours’ time change and unpacking and somehow trying to gather myself together and recover here I was packing now a smaller bag and was getting ready for my next adventure.

I felt very weak and tired for only two days this week that I spend home, therefore I was not sure how my body and mind was going to handle the rigors of mountain bike racing. But I talk a lot about living life to the fullest so here we go, just go all out, give your shot and have no regrets.

Ready or not we drove up to Haile’s trails. This is one of my favorite courses, the trails here are very challenging and technical and there is plenty of climbing for an average Floridian.

Was I ready for more climbing after fighting through 5k of the upward facing goodness in Maui? Hmm, maybe not so much but on the other side 1800 feet of our 3 lap course would cover just a fraction to what I had to do just a week before. We got out with Pax on the course and oh it was chilly, dry and fresh.


I was looking forward to checking out the course since we didn’t race here for two years now. Also I didn’t know how my body was going to response to the demanding riding so soon. I felt pretty good however to my surprise and was only kind of disappointed with the initial 2 miles of the course which reminded me of the Hard Rock trails. Basically we were riding bikes on a motorbike course, which was steep, loose and really wore out. It felt like Maui all over just slightly more rough and bumpy, minus of course a few thousand climbing feet. ;-)

The last 4 miles reminded me of the course that I enjoyed from our races here in the past. Lots of fun trails seemed to be gone forever however. I was not very excited after the first loop but when I practiced a little more the beginning part of the race course I started adjusting to it a little better, mostly mentally. I think I was ready for whatever Sunday morning was going to bring.

We had an early and wonderful dinner and headed back to the hotel to get some rest.



Overnight the temperatures plummeted even more and we had a 38F low overnight. When we were loading our bikes on the Kuat rack it was only 40F. Sure It was cold and for most of the Floridians it’s a frigid weather, for me it was a nice change and it felt pretty good while hanging in the sun.






The start approached quickly on us and we had a great turnout of the Expert ladies.



We were off on a long and bumpy grassy stretch. After a turn I was in second and Shelly did come out around and put herself in the lead into the first climb. We had a series of pretty tough and technical climbs and we stuck nicely together through them. I was closely on the wheel of the second rider all the time and maybe around one mile in on a technical upward turn the girl before stumbled and that gave me an opportunity to go around and put myself in 2nd place. We still had some demanding riding to do, steep and scary at first looking descents and leg and lung burning climbs. I remember looking up on one of the climbs somewhere around mile 3 of the first lap and seeing the leading woman Shelly ahead.

 

And even though I was so close for the initial miles there was no signs of her after that. I felt good riding now my race and battling on my own terms this rough terrain. It is amazing how my new Specialized S-Works HT that I got from Mack Cycles handled this rugged and uneven course, laid with rocks, drops and loose and riveted descents.






In a way I though this is how World Cup racers feel on their light and fast racing machines and there is usually not a thing that they cannot handle. So yeah, my new S-Works WC Stumpjumper made me feel like probably Maja Wloszczowska feels like in her race. I named my beautiful bike Sub Zero for many different reasons but mostly of how fast and light she is and she definitely earned her name in her first mtb race. I felt in charge and in control at all times no matter what was thrown at me and she was just amazing on all the climbs. It was a painful but also joyful ride.






After crossing the shoot of the first lap I was some 45 seconds back to first place and 30 seconds ahead of 3rd place. Going to the second lap I felt pretty good but knew that all the steep climbing was going to be even more demanding now. To my surprise I was able to handle everything without major issues. At one point on one steep and long climb I had a rider next to me and I saw a whole row of other racers higher on the top walking their bikes up. I got distracted in a way and the guy next to me got off the bike and somehow I lost my traction and was forced to run my bike for some 10 seconds but thankfully I got back on quickly and was able to continue.



Rest of the yucky climbs I made all the way to the top and even the steepest one which gave me trouble on my pre-ride. I cheered myself on at that point since I was happy I was able to push thought it and not give up. Somewhere near the middle of the lap I was following the wheel of the rider in front. Little did I know that a small fork section was approaching and the rider turned to the right and just seconds later we ended up with other riders with me at a dead end and had to regroup and run the bike back to the split and get to the correct single track trail.

 

That cost me some 10 seconds, and even though a few seconds in over 1.5 hours race doesn’t seem that much I assure you it is plenty and I will talk about it in just a minute.



Once in a while we would get some crazy glimpse of the rock quarry and the lake far below. The views were spectacular and often the cliffs were just 10-15 away from us to the side and it was thrilling to ride full speed there through technical terrain. I felt more fatigued now in my body but somehow I managed to get exactly the same split time for my second lap.


 

Now I was a full minute behind first pace and some 1:45 ahead of 3rd. It was a solid 2nd but still I was eager to find out what I can do with the final lap. It was an obvious fact that the last lap was going to hurt the most but also was the most important. After the initial miles I started picking up the speed, I heard here and there 40s back, 30s back, the gap later on got reduced to 20seconds. I was pushing and definitely getting closer. Thankfully this lap went very smooth and I didn’t make any mistakes and cleared perfectly all the hills. This is where the race gets really exciting.
































People cheered for me and yelled and gave me splits. Besides my apparent exhaustion by now it was exhilarating to have a super exiting fight to the finish. On the final miles eventually I spotted Shelly in front. We still had maybe half a mile of easier and winy single track to go by. I was on the gas now and I laid it all out there. I was getting closer we were just 10 seconds or less apart. Every minute I could see her clearer and clearer and shortly we got spilled on the last grassy stretch. I was right behind now sprinting while people were yelling, “Come on”, “You can catch her”.










Shelly looked back and saw that I was approaching, in split second she was now up on her pedals and sprinting for this finish shoot. Oh man, we rode into the shoot and crossed the finish line just one second apart. What an awesome and insanely excited race. I loved riding fast and chasing badass Shelly down and I think she enjoyed also being challenged and pushed and and the fact that she had to really work for her well-deserved win. I think we both had fun, this is what bike racing is about, to push your own limits and have a blast while doing it. I think we totally accomplished it today!
 

After all my laps were very consistent, like usual: 32:20, 32:20 and 31: 20 min laps. My final lap somehow happened to be the fastest lap on the course today even though I felt the most tired. It was pretty cool, since I never got to accomplish that before. And like my friend Jen mentioned to me I didn’t even have to switch to my running shoes after this 1.5 hours of bike riding, that was definitely nice change and a huge bonus!


So the 10 second wrong turn mistake, a 10 second on the climb blunder boiled out to the 1 second that was keeping me from a first place finish. It’s amazing how the smallest decision, gear choice on the climb, or one missed shift or someone else’s mistake all adds up on the end to the final result.  And those unimportant and first looking missed seconds often would be deciding factors of the podium placing when the riding is over. And I think those little things become so very important that they make our racing even so much more interesting and exciting, where in all the chaos and unpredictability of mountain bike racing we are still in search of perfection.

Overall it was short but a really nice weekend, I had a really good race besides still being in the recovery state and mostly I was happy to be back home and felt so welcomed by our amazing bike community. Thank you everyone who was out there motivating me to keep on turning those cranks and contributed to make this race so much more special. It was great to see you all!!!
 
Shelly and I after the Race...

Congrats to all the amazing racers today who had well sized “kahunas” on them to participate and compete in this demanding race. Congrats to all the strong ladies out there, very proud of all the girl power that I saw today on the course.

Since my XTERRA season is over for now I will be able to immerse myself a little more in our fun and competitive bike racing. Looking forward already to our next challenge!

And like always I’m the most grateful to Pax for everything he does for me and his endless dedication to my racing adventure…

HUGE thank you to all my amazing support:

Big Thanks goes to: 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 - Mack Cycles, Oakley, Pocketfinder, Hawk Racing, Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains and Rotor Bike Components!

Until next time…

Please enjoy some more picture that my husband took during this race.

If you like to have Pax take pictures like this of you at your next race please message him or I on Facebook.

Link to all my photos from this race on Flickr 


Thursday, October 30, 2014

XTERRA World Championship - Maui, Hi


XTERRA World Championship – Maui, Hi

From all the strong and talented people from all around the world who qualified for this more then epic race I managed to place 8th in the World in my AG.

Link to some Great photos from our Trip...

Suunto Race Data from the Race...

My "Sub Zero" Stumpjumper almost ready for her first race...



 2014 XTERRA World Championship Highlights

 
 
 XTERRA "Happy"

 

 Aloha

Incredible view from our condo...


Equipment Used: Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper WC from Mack Cycles , We traveled with EVOC Luggage and Bike Case from EVOC USA, 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, Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Racing Ralph's,  Huub Speedsuit, ESI Grips, Rotor crank, Rotor QX1 28t Chainring, KMC 11DLC Red/Black Chain, Enduro Cermaic Jockey Wheels from EVOC USA, Salomon Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground, Suunto Ambit 3S, Light and Motion Solite, Clif Shot Gels, Oakley Radar Sunglasses with VR28 lenses and Garden of Life nutrition Every Day of my Life... And I used a Pocketfinder that kept track of me so my Husband always knows at all times during the race where I am.


Aloha Hawaii

An opportunity to race in such a prestigious event doesn’t come often and doesn’t come to many.

Being able to go back to this beautiful Island after two years is more than I could have asked for.

I'm coming off pretty much what you can call a perfect season. After all, I qualified for this event on two separate occasions and also was able to claim a title of USAT Off Road National Champion in my Age Group and 2nd Overall and only being second to a 4 time World Amateur Champion. I trained a lot for this moment and felt a few months back quite ready. My biking has been improving consistently and I felt the same just in a smaller amount for swimming and running. However for the remaining of the preparations I was dealing with some running injuries and going in and out of lack of motivation or simply burnt-out. It didn’t matter at this moment where my form was, we were set to go and besides all the setbacks I was still counting on a great result.

On the top of the Ridge

On the other side I knew my competition this year was going to be fierce. I had the top 3 girls from the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship on the way to Maui, including the ITU World Champion, as well as returning XTERRA World Champion from last year. Besides that 30 other amazingly talented and strong ladies from around the globe. This year’s Championships was going to be the most internationally seated in XTERRA history. It showed in the number of participants and the outstanding results.

Just little bit later...


The course changed and was very different to what I experienced in 2012, especially the initial 3 and final 5 miles. The course was longer and more demanding, the climbing required was brutal, steep, never ending; more than someone who trains in a flat environment like Florida can comprehend.

On the famous Plunge


Weather was beautiful upon our arrival and seemed quite nice on the first day when we headed out the door to pre-ride the course. Unfortunately just minutes into the ride we had some rain clouds surrounding the mountain and it started to drizzle at first. The trail right from the start was heading upwards on a steep angle very quickly becoming muddy and slick. With passing miles conditions were getting only worst and by the time we were in the higher mountains trying to climb the steepest grade it was down pouring. The brutal slope turned to a muddy river and everyone now was just pushing their bikes up and searching for traction. On the beautiful ridge, the ocean below was hardly visible and from all the rain my camcorder simply died. We continued but the downhill section of the course after reaching the top of the mountain for the second time was so muddy that our bikes were all clogged with red clay.

Jonathan in mud slide


We were skidding downwards for the longest time and clumps of dirt were hitting the bike frames and our faces. This was the most dirt I ever had on my bike up to date. Half way through the plunge race officials rerouted everyone to the highway below where we were all heading home covered in mud and our bikes were all clicking and were completely trashed. Riders were stopping on the side of the road and were washing themselves and their bikes in the runaway water… I wish everyone knew about ProGold products like I did to get their bike back in racing form.






Caveman is here!


We ended up seeing only parts of the race course. Not exactly the practice ride I would expect.

On the next day I decided to get out and check some sections that I missed before. Now the trails were in much better shape and the course was drying out nicely. I felt pretty happy after this ride especially that I was able to share it partially with Shonny Vanlandingham on the way up and follow the wheels of Conrad Stoltz himself for quite some time on the final miles. It was definitely a treat. I also stumbled upon my Floridian friend Brook who was just lying under a tree and relaxing while awaiting for her girlfriend Tammy. We spent a few minutes on the course just catching up.




I and Brook


Later on we had some good time practicing the swim and getting in and out of the surf. The waves as the weekend approached started to pick up. I got tumbled a few times in the shorebreak and I was hoping that it would not be a big factor for the race.

Gorgeous Molokai in the background

Getting smashed on the swim practice

Days went by and my stress level intensified. I was not very concerned of the bike, however I knew that it will be a long road full of pain no matter how ready I felt. The run also was going to be extremely challenging and will hurt tons but my worries were laying mostly in the swim. Three days out I felt the pressure and with the following days it only elevated. The night before when looking from our balcony at the amazing blue waves smashing into the rocks and creating outstanding white exploding events I started getting nervous. This totally overwhelmed my mind.

Angry Ocean and Preserve


Besides the fact that we had a wonderful and fun dinner with our new and kind friend Hana and a couple of her very interesting and positive friends I still couldn’t get my head completely clear. Therefore my night before the race was pretty much sleepless. I kept hearing the sound of the ocean and the waves beating on the cliff edge. I kept getting up and never got a solid sleep. I felt that in the morning when staring at my breakfast bowl and I was so hungry but couldn’t eat. I guess that was the beginning of the troublesome day…

RACE DAY

I biked to the transition from the condo. The morning was beautiful. The bike course was all dry and tacky, the sun was fully on, and the ocean was super charged.

Grayson and I before race start







824 competitors from around the World started filling out the massive transition area on the Ritz property. You could feel in the air the anticipation and excitement. I set my transition pretty early, did a small warm up and was waiting for the race start.









   
How far is that buoy???





On the short practice in the water I was grabbed by a wave and trashed on the ground. My neck started to hurt. I decided to get out and wait for the race start on the water’s edge. All competitors were aligned now and all the Pro and Amateur competitors were all mixed up together. But the Pro start was about to go off in just a minute or two before everyone else.










To the left of me

To the right of me
The gun went off and the waves were pushing back so hard and were so big that it seemed that racers were not getting anywhere. Now all men went off, the same thing happened. Women were going next.

The heart is racing now, mouth is dry, I’m surrounded by hundreds of women and the yellow buoys are so far away... There is no backing away now. The gun went off!

Men start, yep some decisions here had to be made...

We ran, jumped, dolphin hopped, got hit by huge waves, goggles got filled with water again and again. I had to fix them while running into the next massive wave and jump over it or under it. The start itself was a battle and already exhausting. But it got even more difficult. There was so many of us, the water was extremely choppy, with wind from the NE, the current was strong and there were also big waves that would not allow us to see buoys at all times. The further we got the deeper it was but also the cleared was the water. For a long time I could see far far below in the dark blue ocean the sandy bottom. But the first buoy was a whole 400m away far into the ocean. It started to get darker and darker again. The chop was coming from the right on an angle and it was difficult to get a breath.

First lap return



It was a power swim that required much more work and energy than a regular calm pool swimming. Here we were fighting a number of elements, from hundreds of competitors, to current, to waves, to chop, to get a breath in, to sighting for a buoy and swim in the right direction. At some point I had to refocus my mind from this chaos and started to look at things at the bottom. Once in a while I could see tiny, almost what seemed like pea size phosphorescent blue light, I saw it again and again in different spots. Still not sure what it was but it gave me a little distraction. I finally approached the first yellow buoy. Oh I was so far in the middle of the ocean and I was trying to stay calm knowing there will be a lot of racers in this corner trying to make a turn. Only thing that cheered me up was that deep-deep below us a camera guy was looking straight up at us. I gave him a small wave. After that it was a long and brutal swim toward the shore.

Going in for second lap


It was a very long way to go and now chop was even worse and was hitting us from the back left. The ocean got crazy. I somehow managed to aim just right toward the exit and did a short beach run. Man was I tired, and I had to jump in those big waves again and try to battle them once more, I was very apprehensive now. I know the 2nd buoy is a little bit closer, some 350 meters. But on this side there was even more chop. This swim was nuts. It took way longer than I expected to get out to the buoy, now I was just trying to stay calm and not to freak out while fighting the huge waves in the middle of the ocean and people grabbing and pulling on my legs. Seriously I really didn’t need this right now. But I found my rhythm somehow once again.







We were getting beat now and the trashing waves and the constant fight to grab a gasp for air was not only exhausting but disorienting. I started to get woozy from all this commotion. Once in a while I would say to myself that it’s ok I’m not dizzy, there is still ground there far away and I put my focus on the big trees far far on the horizon to recalibrate my brain on something that doesn’t constantly move. I kept doing it and kept fighting, I wanted to get to the shore so badly now. It was a long journey and it didn’t come easy but eventually I got to the ocean’s edge and got out of the water. I was surprised how tired I felt and the run to the transition was simply tough. I was happy however I made it to the shore.

On my way to T1




I sat down quickly in transition and put my shoes on and grabbed the rest of my gear. Some girls from my group were there with me and we rushed to the mounting line. So many people were getting out on the course now men and women. On the first concrete section I cranked it up. It was time to start the passing journey.







In an instant I was going by so many fellow racers but very quickly we turned left into the single-track. It was narrow with small trees and tall grass to both sides, it had smooth but a substantial grade right from the start. I had to figure out quickly my passing tactic and it was just enough space with cooperation of others to start working my way up. I lost tons of time on the swim, sadly way more than I was anticipating. With a good starting point or not I was on my journey to the top of the West Maui Mountains. It was hot now and humid, the heart rate in an instant went up and it would not back down for a good 8 miles. I had a whole group of riders heading slowly upwards. I kept making my passes one by one and sometimes going by a few people at a time, I passed 10, 30, 40, too many to count. This kept on continuing throughout the race and besides the fact that it was already extremely exhausting and taxing the bottle neck situations started taking place. At some rooty or more challenging or steeper spots people would simply get off their bikes; problem was there was so many of us all in one spot and everyone was scattered all over the trail that it was impossible to pass. I was frustrated when I had to get off and still couldn’t get by, bikes were simply everywhere. It did cost me a lot of lost time but I still was doing a great job going by riders on my way to the top.

Bike return


Some racers recognized me and cheered me on which was really cool. Miles were passing by slowly however. I remember me and another rider were headed downwards just for few small seconds and approached another racer. We asked for a pass but unfortunately he just panicked, turned left, than right to eventually crash in the middle of the path blocking us both from progressing. Thankfully he was fine but definitely caused unnecessary and easily avoidable accident if he only knew better a passing etiquette. Finally I was getting to the steep section before the Ridge. I was able to ride it almost entirely to the top except only the last steepest part. This is the place where the only girl in the whole bike leg of the race passed me today. She was trying to keep on biking and eventually got off and tried to mount her bike again and again while in front of me now. By the name on the outfit I knew it was Muller one of the strongest girls today in my class who was charging for the World Championship win. It was a bummer since I knew there were already a few other girls in front who got out of the water before me. I did catch some of them but not all. All I could do was just to keep on moving as fast as I could.

I continued, after a technical little section where some people were falling and blocking the path I got to the first feed zone.


Shortly after we flew down for a short while to turn quickly back up. This climb the second time around was even more brutal. It seemed like a whole day we were just leaning forward and spinning the wheels, while the body was exposed to the heat and constant pain. This course definitely didn’t suit me and I just wish the riding was more technical and less of the pure climbing. I was getting tired now and had to keep convincing myself to keep pushing. The red long climb was about to end. Thankfully I passed more people on my way to the top and was almost all in the clear on the ride down. In the bumpy switchbacks I got a little caught up with a guy but later on in the lower sections of the plunge I was happily on my own and I felt like I was flying. It was fun riding down so fast for so long, but my bike was jumping on this uneven ground like an angry donkey, my forearms started cramping slightly and so did my calves. I was holding on as tight as I could on this almost never ending descent.

I got my share of the climbing goodness

Shortly I approached sections that I didn’t have a chance to see on the pre-ride and they were also fast and very rocky. It definitely added an extra element of excitement and concern not knowing what is coming up next. Finally I got to the next feed zone but apparently they were out of water. Thankfully I still had a tiny bit left in the bottle from before and also in my camelback. On mile 13 we approached a second muddy and stinky section which turned to another never ending climb. I was hoping it would be a short pitch but it kept going forever. I was getting really fed up now and staying motivated was difficult. This climb went on for another mile and culminated in the pine forest. This is where finally we all could take a breather and were in the shade of tall pine trees and descending into the single track at very fast speeds. Now we are talking. I felt instant relief and actual joy of riding a bike. This was my most favorite part of the whole course.

And even though I had a lot of freedom, here at some point I got caught up with the girl that kept going back and forth with me for quite a while. She was faster on climbs and I was faster on descents. It was frustrating at least since I really couldn’t pass her on short climbs while I was stuck behind on the fun and fast descents. It took a long time but finally I was able to go by and ride my own pace. I think I had a really good bike leg in this race and I was happy with my performance and my progression. But I was really tired now and my brain could really not take the smallest thought of an additional climb. Thankfully there were not that many of them left. So while trying to enjoy and ride as smooth as possible the final miles I forgot to grab my gel and didn’t feel like I needed to drink any more or I simply forgot it too. The trail exit approached now quickly and I got spilled on the concrete return and through the dark tunnel. I was approaching quickly the dismount line and the transition.

The announcer called out my name when I was running into T2. I grabbed quickly my running gear and the number. When I ran out upwards toward the street I noticed a few things. First of all I was many minutes back to at least five if not more racers, secondly I felt faint hearted and really very weak right from the start. Also my Salomon flask that was laying in the full sun for hours was so hot that I barley could hold it in my hand without getting burnt. I was flipping it from one hand to the other. Soon I started padding my belt for a Clif gel that I attached there but for some reasons I couldn’t find it. I must have lost it somewhere.  And this is where things started to seriously fall apart badly for me.

I hardly could run, I was hot, hungry, and weak. I felt lightheaded and I was just starting my 3 mile climb.

Run start, already not feeling elevated
 

The run was slow and simply awful. I had to default to a walk quite a few times on the steep sections.

Now I was getting passed and could not do anything about it. On mile two or so I got passed by one lady from my group, she had good pace and I was hopeless. I needed nutrition now badly and grabbed whatever was there at the feed zone. It was a gross to me flavor and consistency but I needed some calories in my weak body. I had just tiny sips and felt slightly better for a moment. Until my whole abdomen area started cramping profusely. First I thought it was from the unknown gel, than that maybe those were stiches, really on both sides but way more intense on the right. I figured I will suffer through it, somehow get to the top of the climb and then when trail head downwards things will improve.

I remember a woman standing near the lake and yelling to us “come on you have only five more minutes of this misery and you will be on top”. No matter how much twisting and turning I did, my condition was deteriorating, my hamstrings now were all cramped up also and back started to hurt. I reached the top and started heading downwards and was full of hope. It was not fast but I was progressing, and the pain was everywhere. When I approached the first of my favorite single track run sections I could not enjoy it in a way I did two years ago. It was sad in a way. My universe was made of pain. Things kept slowing down for me minute by minute and I felt like I was falling apart. The final two miles when I got to the road climb were so awful, the heat and weakness of my body was preventing me from running it up, I tried and tried again and not much was happening. Finally I go to the narrow open to the sun ridge with the beautiful ocean view below for a long and in normal circumstances enjoyable descent. Here is where I got the worst pain, so bad to the point that I had to keep breaking every step to slow down more and more because my whole abdomen hurt with each step that I hardly could take a full breath. My body was giving up on me and I never been more hurt, humbled and miserable in my life.

I didn’t know how I was going to make it to the end. I was almost tip toeing down the hill instead of running, I refused to walk however and I didn’t want to stop. I simply was trying to keep moving forward, even if it was at a 10-13 min mile pace and I was trying not seriously to harm myself, so I knew I could not speed up even if I wanted to. It was such an agony…

I reached the street now full of people, dipped to the stream crossing, struggled through the narrow path full of branches and obstacles and was spilled on to the beach. I was going so slowly now and the pain was very intense. I knew I needed to just keep moving forward. I looked back a few times and to my surprise there was no other women approaching from behind. With my terrible run I was afraid I was going to lose more spots but apparently I made a big enough gap on the bike to not be in direct danger now. I wish I could reach the finish like I did two years ago full of accomplishment and joy. This time I crossed it physically and mentally empty with a short faint smile on my face. Just a few steps in I collapsed on the grass. I never had race like this before, when I suffered so much and my body would not be cooperating with me at all.


Made it to the finish!


I was assisted instantly to the Medical tent. I was overheated and dehydrated and short on breath. I was administered my first ever IV bag while I was laying there struggling to relax and breath under coats of cold wet towels. I didn’t see my husband Pax yet but after time he showed up in front of me (thx to my Pocketfinder he knew where to find me) and I was so glad to see him.

Those so special Lei flowers would make anyone happy
 

And this is where the tears just poured out of my eyes and my chest got even tighter. I hardly could breathe and I could not look at him since I was getting so emotional each time I did but knowing he was by my side made me feel just safe, I was not alone, I was going to be fine…
 
In Med Tent



All I could think of was my family, my father, mom and sister back in Poland and how much I missed them and how important they were to me.

Later on when I looked around there were so many other people getting help as well. To my knowledge this year 10% of the race field ended up getting medical help as I did. To my left was Hanna Rae, two time amateur overall world champion and later on my Floridian friend Misty just to my right. When I saw her and the condition she was in and her pale lips and shaking just like my body I started tearing again. What a terrifying, emotional, scary experience…




It took two IV bags, a full hour, loads of cold and hot towels to get my trembling body and white fingers and my breathing back to some normal numbers, while my husband was hand feeding me with fresh fruits and water. Somehow I got the courage to finally stand up.

Thankfully with passing hours, a long shower where I was just too tired to stand and some bed time I got better and started recovering.

We joined the beautiful dinner and the Awards Ceremony. It was not my night to walk up the stage but rather to observe amazing achievements of others that had a better day than myself. The XTERRA crew did a tremendous job with organizing this huge and special event, keeping us busy, making it super fun and it was really touching…


At Award Ceremony

The volunteers during the race were outstanding and Medical tent personnel more than incredible.


My jump!




It was sad to know that it was the last day and everyone was going to head in different directions to their normal lives.


But the next two days even though I still didn’t feel great and completely as myself I finally could relax.








I didn’t enjoy myself for the whole trip as I did in those final days. All the anticipation and stress was gone now. There was nothing more to worry about and just time to enjoy ourselves.

Time to reflect... With my Pax on the cliff...

So we did just that… We took long walks on the beach and preserve which is so beautiful and serene and the scenery is quite unreal there. We did some cliff jumping with our roommates and friends and truly had a blast. It was really fun. It was amazing to see the incredible life in the ocean below with all the tropical fish swimming around us. We also did some jeeping as my friend Grayson calls it or simply took a mini road trip around the Kapalua area to some scenic locations.

Jeeping with Karley and the crew

We had breakfast at the Gazebo which overlooks full of rainbows that morning the gorgeous Napoli beach which is always a treat and this is quite a sure place to spot giant tortoises. Walking on the cliffs while monster waves are crashing into volcanic rocks and the sun is setting below the horizon makes you realize how every day and evening is different and very precious. Before departing we took a nice ride up the Haleakala Volcano which I didn’t get to see two years ago. We all were not disappointed, since the ride was thrilling and views on the top very spectacular. We emerged above the clouds in 50 degree weather and unearthy scenery. Beautiful ending to very spectacular trip.

Above clouds on top of Haleakala Volcano

Maui is simply gorgeous… And the views that we woke up to every morning and I could sip my tea to on the balcony are going to be stuck in my mind for very long time…

Haleakala Crater in the background
 

It’s sad to have to leave this truly beautiful island but I’m glad I had an opportunity to share a moment in the paradise of the Hawaii islands with so many amazing people…

I didn’t have the exact race I was hoping for. I didn’t feel the course was fitting my skillset the way I would prefer it too. I believe a true mountain biking and technical course with a more reasonable amount of climbing would be more of a fair game for the true XTERRA Championship Race that would suit and bring to the top real off road champions. But I had an experience to remember and learn from.

Feeling energized again


Placing 8th in the World in my Age Group I will keep in my heart as a success even though I really wished I did even better. I had the 3rd best bike split in my group and I’m quite happy with it. I know I’m capable of more but this is what my body and day had for me this time around.  I did everything I could and more and had to reach deep inside my soul to find strength to fight the most exhausting and testing race of my life and still finish with a good result.

I’m proud I didn’t give up in the toughest moments and fought my way through all the way to the finish…

The preparations that go to something like this are endless and drag on for months and years. It takes a toll on your own mind and body but also on those around you. Also it takes more than an army of kind and compassionate people to turn one person’s dream to reality.

This blog would not be complete without a mention of my husband Pax. He committed all of his time and energy to let me do just that… chase my passions and bring those dreams to life. I could not thank him enough for his sacrifice and long work days and even work weekends to support my quest. From building my bike up from scratch, to being part of my trainings, to chasing me with his camera around the race course… His commitment is simply endless and I could not have asked anyone to do that much for me. But he does just that and more, every morning, every race, again and again. And I could not be more grateful… Thank you Mucha…

Also I wanted to thank my family, all my friends, fellow racers and people at work who all believed in me and thought of me and followed my journey…  I could feel this energy and loved sharing my experience…

And yes, I do work full time and have only 3.5 days to train per week, I spend another 3.5 at a desk job 13 hours a day and am dreaming of being able to race one day full time. It’s amazing to see those fortunate athletes who are able to commit all their time to training and racing and reach their potential. Without time constrains there are no limits. I would love to be able one day to have this type of opportunity and see where that would take me…

Last but not least, Thank you to my Support:

 


I can’t thank enough all my Supporters who in all different ways contributed to my journey and allowed me to have a race as good as I could and played a huge part in all my success this very strong and special to me season...

I spent countless hours on my CycleOps trainer with TrainerRoad programs at home, swam millions of laps in our pool and on put zillions of steps on the trail while running. You want something so badly that you work with your hair dresser to make your hair not only beautiful but also make an attempt to drop some extra grams. Thank you Gerri! :) You live and breathe this event long before it comes.

I did my best to be very prepared with all my incredible gear. I felt I had the fastest bike on the planet (Thanks to Mack Cycles and Specialized) and knowing that I had the best bike and components I could dream of made me feel almost carefree and gave me an awesome bike split.

 

We always have in the back of our heads a worry that something other than us will fail but I tried not to think about it and believed in this creation we build. Instead I loved everything that went into my bike and had a chance to play around with and switch my incredible Q-rings from Rotor after the pre-ride to those that I felt were more suitable. My gorgeous black and red KMC chain handled the biggest rigors one can put a chain through with steep climbs, constant shifting and a muddy mess on the pre-ride which got cleaned perfectly by ProGold Products. The Rotor cranks, Xpedo pedals, Syntace handlebars and stem and ESI grips were great…

 

The list just goes on. I loved everything very much. The Syntace P6 seatpost on my hardtail did wonders and the ultra-light and stealthy Selle Italia SLR saddle was just incredible. The sweet MT8s brakes kept me always in control on those steep and never ending descents. Also my Huub speedsuit and my Louis Garneau outfit and Salomon shoes performed so good in those rough conditions. My eyes were shielded from the sun and the harmful UV rays Thanks to my Oakley’s as well.

A Huge Thanks to Schwalbe for sending me the best tires on the market time and without these tires I wouldn’t have been able to take those turns so fast and the climbs without spinning out. Surprising me my new Hawk Racing Bottom Bracket didn’t need cleaning after that mudbath on Wednesday and is still spinning smoothly as ever and the new Enduro Ceramic Jockey Wheels for my rear derailleur for which EVOC USA shipped me directly to my Condo in Maui.

I am sorry Kuat – but I did not need the best rack for my car this time as I could not drive to this location :)

Clif gels and drinks are my favorite and only race nutrition and are always onboard and on my bike no matter where racing takes me and this time was no different. Garden of Life also keeps me supplied with the vitamins and nutrients I need whenever I train or race. And TrainerRoad has a massive library workout plans that I use with my Cycleops Powerbeam trainer. KT Tape kept me wrapped up during the race for my many injuries – I Thank You for that!!!

And all the action had been captured on my Sunnto Ambit 3 watch which is sweet and really really blue.

My husband was able to track me at all times with my PocketFinder GPS tracker on his phone and knew where I was at all times with detailed maps and history.

XTERRA Ambassadors at Ritz


Lastly thank you to XTERRA because without XTERRA we would not be training our minds and bodies the way we are or travel to such an amazing destinations.  For me this sport is a lifestyle and an amazing getaway.  It is an inspiration to keep pushing, improving, pursuing and challenging myself in this colorful journey.

All of it seems like a complicated lot, but when put skillfully together it creates such a harmonious existence and turns to actually a very simple, fun and basics of what off road racing is about…

On the end it is just you and the trail, and life is very simple and beautiful…

Aloha and until next time!

Link to some Great photos from our Trip...