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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Snake Alley, Family from Brazil, & Costco Conversations

Well that race didn't go as well as expected. It's frustrating to not perform as well as hoped, but instead of sulking I need to take some of my own advice and learn something from the race :)

Alijah, Sandy, Lauren, Myself, Darian, and Karen before the race. Photo by Mark BeattyAdd caption

First and foremost, I really need to work on my shifting - Aaron tells me I'm a hamfist. And it's true, I'm really bad about trying to shift while the chain is under pressure. Sure enough, on the first lap, before even getting to the Snake, I tried shifting to the little ring and my chain jammed for a second. I instantly stopped pedaling and thankfully I didn't pull the chain off! But with a fast crit start, it's never good to lose your momentum like that.

Where I really lost time was on the downhill section though. A few more practice laps would have done me a lot a good! For the first 2-3 laps I hesitated going all out, and that is really where I should have done well as a mountain biker (so I am told). It was a really fast and fun descent once I got the hang of it.

Grinding up that climb! Photo by Natalie Rekemeyer
And of course, I need to work on my climbing. I see some hill repeats in my future! I had to stand to climb most of the snake, but I would have liked to have been able to climb seated for at least the first half of the climb.

Just some napping and hanging out with babies on the hill. 6:00am is too early to wake up on the weekend!
I have a lot to work on, but I don't want to make it sound like it was a bad time. I would rather have a not so good race, than not race at all! And I really enjoyed hanging out with teammates on the hill- napping, getting baby snuggles, and comparing Costco shopping lists, while cheering on teammates in other races. Way to go ICCC guys and gals!

All in all it was a superb weekend. I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with my baby niece, nephews, mom, and my sister's extended family from Brazil. It was so good to spend time with them, they are so nice and friendly and even though they are my sister's in-laws, they feel like family! I'm kicking myself for not taking photos, but I was too "busy" holding my niece :) I think it's time to start planning another trip to Brazil!

My little snuggle bug!

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Bike & First Mountain Bike Race of the Year

What's more exciting than the first mtb race of the season?? Getting to race on a brand new bike! While I was sad to see my S-works Stumpjumper go, I am super happy to be making the switch from 26in to 650b wheels.

So what did I get? A Yeti Arc Carbon! I've been drooling over the frame while it's been sitting down in my basement waiting to get built. Of course some of the parts took their sweet time getting here and it was a last minute scramble to get the bike built - thank you Aaron (aka best husband ever)!

I officially deemed myself a bike nerd when I got the most excited by the fact my new Industry Nine wheels/hubs have even more points of engagement than the Chris King hubs I had before (which I loved by the way). Not long ago I wouldn't have had a clue what that even meant ;) For the rest of you bike nerds I (ahem, Aaron) will post some build details soon!

So back to the race - I've said it before, and I'll say it again- I really enjoy racing in Illinois. Tony Thaller does an excellent job with the series, his wife Amy is a superb official, and I love the ladies that race in the expert field. Not only are they friendly, but provide great competition. The guys are pretty darn nice too. 

This race was at Matthiessen state park. The trails here are great, you get your fast and flowy sections, fun downhills, some technical areas and a crazy three part climb up out of the river valley. I don't know what it is about this climb, but I actually like it. Yeah, I know, I hate climbing. I can't explain it.

Photo by Steve Sansenbach
So, I went into this race wanting vengeance. Last year I was having a spectacular race at this course and then had to DNF due to a crazy derailleur shearing off incident... I was bound and determined to not let that happen again!

Beverly, Melinda and I lined up together. A very small field, but three of were actually the top three from last year's overall series, so I knew I would have to work hard to do well. I took the hole shot into the singletrack with a tiny gap and tried to keep pace with the back of the men's expert field (we all started together). While trying to be cautious and not have repeat of last year, I kept pushing my pace trying to open the gap, or at least not get caught.

I was working pretty hard and was slightly worried I wouldn't be able to keep up the same pace. I decided now was as good of time as any to learn my limits. If I blew up and couldn't finish by lap four I would know I pushed too hard. If not, well then I would know I could handle the pace.

Photo by Steve Sansenbach
I made it to the crazy long climb at the end of the lap (the one I kinda enjoy) and worked my way toward the top. I took a quick glance below and tried to gauge how big of a gap I might have. I thought I saw one of the chasing girls getting ready to start the climb but couldn't tell for sure. I keep going as fast as I could down the straightaway and dove into my second lap. I kept reminding myself to focus so I wouldn't make any stupid mistakes.

From time to time I would hear someone approaching and would worry I had been caught. But each time it was one of the men from the sport race. Halfway through the fourth and final lap the leader of the Expert men came through, which happened to be Kevin, and shortly after the chase group, which included Aaron. Aaron gave me a "nice job Babe" or something like that and I could hear one of the other guys asking if I was Brittany. For a moment they totally thought Aaron was hitting on Kevin's wife. Too funny!

I made it up that final climb one last time and crossed the finish line in first place! I definitely got my vengeance on the derailleur eating course!

Yay, I finished with a smile instead of tears this year!
Melinda, Myself, & Beverly

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