Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Downieville downer

Things continued to go downhill (literally) after I got my ticket Friday which turned out to be 165 bucks! Well not everything; I did have some good moments.
The start was bad. I got to the start about 5 or 10 minutes early to discover everyone including sport and beginner were already lined up. I carried my bike over my head and tried to squeeze past the sport racers who were starting after me. I ran into Rachel Cieslewicz, who also races XTERRA, and squeezed in next to her. She told me they would start the pros and all-mountain first and then we would be able to move closer to the start line. We could not hear anything the announcer was saying and the race started, including ours. It was so congested we had to walk with our bikes for a couple of minutes before we could mount them on the uphill and start climbing. Rachel was moving pretty fast and passing people from the start so I stuck with her. We soon got fellow Truckee racer Amber Finch in the mix as we continued to pass people up the climb. This was my first Expert race and I imagined all of the guys would be in front of me from the start not the case. It's a long 4,500 foot climb on exposed fire road and breathing in smoke didn't help. There was also only one good line to take and if you tried to pass people you risked coming off your bike and having to wait for racers to pass to get back on. Amber was being really aggressive and passing people which motivated me to stick with her. It's easy to just get comfortable and stay behind riders on the climb.
I picked up my pace on the last part of the climb before the saddle and put about a gap between myself and the other girls. I was now riding with single speeder Erik Thunstrom and was in 7th place overall, I was happy with that. Erik was drafting off me on the flatter sections at the top because he couldn't shift into a bigger gear like I could. Was pretty disappointed to hear a teenage boy cheering say "show us your tits!" doesn't he know sexual harassment is SO 30 years ago?!
We soon got to packer saddle and onto the Sunrise trail, as singletrack section we did not ride last year. I was super nervous because had a pack of guys behind me but I was also catching people in front of me. Eric was also super nice and telling me I was riding well. Someone on the side of the trail said, "Want and energy drink and handed out a Bud" did not take it unfortunately :)
We got back on fire road and toward Baby Heads where Erik left me in his dust... did I mention he was also on a bike with NO suspension? ...Started to relax and just pretend I was on a ride. Amber passed me going through the creek and soon after that I went over a rock and heard a hissing sound from my back tire. No that's not a flat, no that's not a flat... OK that's a flat but maybe my Stan's will kick in and save me? NOPE. Soon I had no air in my back tire. I pulled over in a safeish spot and looked at my tire as the wheels in my head turned — this was the first time I have had a flat in a race. Maybe I can just put some more air in and be on my way.
That didn't work. It was leaking air from the rim and there was a little nick in the wheel so I prayed it wouldn't stop me from racing and I would have to walk 10-15 miles out. Another guy had flatted right after me and was fixing his 30 feet down the trail.
"How's it going down there?" I said jokingly.
I proceeded to take off my tire and struggled to get the valve out (I was running tubeless tires)
"Do you need help? he said.
"Actually yes," I replied and I ran down there with the tire.
He had just fixed his flat and started to help me, well, he actually fixed the flat for me which was extremely kind but also embarrassing at the same time. I was running back and forth from the spot where my dismantled bike lay. Racers were riding by us in handfuls, all that hard work on the climb gone.
We introduced ourselves, John Cordoba of Crank Brothers.
I got back on my bike and knew the race was over and I just needed to get to the bottom. I had no more tubes, so I feared I would get another flat and be stranded.
I was riding behind a challenged athlete who was biking with a prosthetic leg, pretty impressive and made put my mechanical difficulties in perspective.
Soon there was an uphill where I managed to get around some riders. I saw Amber walking her bike up the hill. I asked her if she was OK and I thought she said "I got a t-bone", but she was actually saying " tire won't hold air". She had flatted also and ended up walking about three miles until she got air to hold in her tire.
...Started to get back into it a little bit and ended up riding not too badly for the rest of the race. I crossed the finish line in 2:54 – guessing I lost 5 to 10 minutes with the flat — which meant I could have ended up about 4th overall!
But you never know.
I was pleased to be injury-free but disappointed as I felt this was my only race of the season to prove myself as a mountain biker. It feels like the Downieville crowd knows very little about the level of mountain biking ability in XTERRA.
Next year, next year.
Went and rode the XTERRA USA course Sunday with Rachel and Art which made me feel better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I got my first ticket in 12 years for not stopping at this stop sign on my bike in Downieville. Officer Boyd of Sierra County Sheriff was hiding out around the corner and pulled over myself and two other riders as we rolled thru this stop sign at 5 mph. Honestly usually do stop at stop signs on my bike but did not see this one. Shawne was the first to get the ticket and when asked when he was born by the cop he said today. We proceeded to sing happy birthday and invited Boyd to join in if he wanted. He also wouldn't tell us how much the ticket was. Guess I will find out if it ever gets to me in the mail. He also gave us a spiel about how he would rather be pulling over drunk drive but proceeded to sit in his SUV idling waiting for more cyclists to come down the road. Yes I too think there are more important things cops can be doing in Sierra County.

Monday, July 14, 2008

XTERRA Tahoe City

A week after XTERRA Wales and two weeks after XTERRA East Championships I headed home and raced in XTERRA Tahoe City. I felt like I had to get back to this race because it is the only local point series race and I won it last year. It was questionable whether the race was going to be held because of the poor air quality. Western States 100 on the same weekend was already canceled.
Morning of the race the sky was relatively blue a large enthusiastic crowd was waiting for the start of the race at Commons Beach. Good to see a lot of familiar faces at the race. At the same time I was a little jet lag still and could not comprehend racing again. The swim was shocking, maybe being back at 6000 feet again. The water was shallow so we had to walk a ways out to start the race. On the way back in we had about 400 meters of below-knee water where racers either walked or swam, I dolphin dived the whole way in.
The race went well and I found out on the bike I was leading the women's race so I cruised, wildflower were great eye candy. The run was hard, first three miles were uphill and then back down. Again by F-lite 230 were awesome and carried me all the way to a first place finish. I was about five minutes faster than last year with an overall time of 3:30.
Everyone seemed to have a good race. Julie Young, a former pro-cyclist had a huge smile on her face when she came across the finish in second place in her first triathlon. To read a story I wrote for the Sierra Sun click below:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

XTERRA UK Championships

Covered in mud after the bike

Photo by Ross Garrard
Pre-riding the bike course before the rain

I successfully completed my first triathlon overseas competing in the XTERRA UK Championships in South Wales in June 2008.

Check out my story at:

Also had a great few days visiting my brother in Jersey (Channel Islands not New and English Channel Islands not Channel Islands, Calif.) It is so beautiful there with tons of beaches and pretty cows.

Race update.....

Photo by Nils Nilsen/XTERRA

Me following Danelle Kabush out of the water

Race: XTERRA East Championships
Location: Richmond, VA
Distance:1000 meter swim, 18-mile mountain bike, 11k trail run
Date: 06/15/2008

After a week of temperatures in the 90s and high humidity The XTERRA East Championships were blessed with an overcast morning and temperatures in the 70s for the start of the race. Rain the night before made the dirt a little less dusty.
The 26-mile off-road triathlon started and finished on Brown’s Island in Downtown Richmond, not somewhere I expected to have a lot of technical singletrack but it had just that, an 18-mile sort-of loop around James River, where only I seldom knew I was in a big city—except for when we had to ride over road bridges through storm drains and run up nine flights of stairs-two times, to get over railroad tracks.
The trails are also very well constructed maintained by local mountain bike organizations and feature a lot of bridges, ramps, cobblestone and short-very steep climbs—perhaps one of the most technical mountain bike races I have ever done, well just a lot different than Tahoe. I went over the handlebars three times during the race but luckily only came away with scrapes and bruises.
Because the trail is accessable from all over the city the trails were lined with spectators who kept me going. Because the bike course was mostly singletrack passing was an issue, especially with the amateur heats only two minutes after the pros and a short swim. A lot of people taking the race too seriously.
The swim was a non-wetsuit in James River, swimming directly across the river, getting out on the other side running about 200 meters and getting back in swimming back to the other side, swimming back toward the middle of the river and then back under the railroad bridge and to transition. Water was pretty murky, muddy and shallow in areas, I got scraped up from some of the shallow rocks.
The highlight of the race for me was being able to but on my royal-blue INOV-8s for the run. I am positive they made me run faster and happier. They felt as light as ballet shoes but stable enough on pavement, dirt and jumping across a river. They are only meant for short distances but I feel like I could have kept going in them. I made up a lot of time on the run and passed at least 10 guys. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the men’s winner Josiah Middaugh was also on INOV-8s who passed Dan Hugo in the last mile.
With only four women placing in the top-10, proves you don’t have to leave the country to get good international competition at XTERRA. The Race was won by Melanie McQuaid of Canada, followed by Jenny Smith of New Zealand and Shonny Vanlandingham of Colorado. I placed 13th in the pro division with the 6th fastest run split.
I am very thankful for the great homestay I had at fellow XTERRA athlete Chris Reynold’s house just a few miles from the bike course. He showed me the course gave me some tips on racing there and even shot some video during the race. I got to see the hip part of the city known as Cary Town. Not to mention rides to and from the airport and food and wine (what he knows best)leaving me with a good impression of Richmond.