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Monday, June 23, 2014

Jubliee Challenge - A Climber's Delight

I.might.be.becoming.a.climber.... I didn't think I would ever utter those words, but I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of it- at least on the mountain bike! And that's a good thing because this race course had an overabundance of steep and/or prolonged climbs. My Garmin recorded a whopping 2020 ft of climbing during the 18 mile race.

I had a great start, taking the hole shot into the single track section. I kept a steady pace but wasn't going super hard - the course was still slick from the previous day's rain. Even being cautious I managed to slide a couple times, only staying upright by putting my leg out to catch myself.

Expert Women
Cat 1 Women on the Startline. Photo Credit: Erica Mueller
Melinda was right on my tail and the others were not far behind going into the first climb. I maintained a strong pace and managed to build a gap. It's funny how much difference a year can make. Last year I struggled big time at this race and was the one getting gaped on this very same climb. (If only I could just make the same progress on the road...)

Once again I found myself needing to balance speed with caution. It's tougher than it sounds. I didn't want to go too slow and get caught, but I obviously didn't want to hit a slick spot and go down.

Luckily, the course felt slightly dryer on the second lap and I was able to go a little faster on the downhill sections. And while on the first lap I wasn't a fan of all the creek crossings, on this lap I looked forward to them just for the cold splash of water to cool me down. 

My favorite part of the race was when one of the men cheered me on, all the way up a steep and twisting climb that was also slick with mud. The extra encouragement was just what I needed :) I felt bad that he was off the bike walking, but his good attitude reminded me of just how awesome other racers can be!

One the third and final lap I felt re-energized with the end in sight. And then I spun out over a root at the top of one the climbs and fell straight over. There was mild panic while I made sure I didn't twist my bars or drop my chain. Thankfully everything was just fine and I continued on!

With a couple miles to go I started to become really worried that someone was going to catch up to me at the end and I really picked up the pace. I was relieved to come across the line and take the win! And just like last year, I promptly dumped water all over myself to cool down, wow was it hot!


 Results/Lap Times


Melinda, Myself, Britt, and Beverly lookin' good post-race. Photo Credit: Britt McConnell

  
Women's Cat 1/Expert Podium.
*Lovebirds* Thanks Mari for the bottle hand-ups and Steve for the cookies!

Tony & Amy Thaller- awesome husband/wife duo that make the IL race series so great!

Aaron and Kevin were twinsies! ;)


Friday, June 20, 2014

One Year Blogiversary!

One year ago today I published my very first blog post! Writing has given me a chance to reflect on many experiences over the last year and has hopefully encouraged a few women (or guys) with their cycling endeavors.

I'm always surprised by which posts readers are more interested in. But what is not surprising is how well liked the Inspirational Cyclist posts have been. There are many strong and dedicated women in the area that we can all learn so much from. I look forward to continuing these posts and maybe even expanding them to women throughout the Midwest. 

I'm always trying to think of ways to improve this blog, so by all means let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback!

Thanks for reading!

Emily


Best part of the last year was hanging out with this guy ;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Illiniwek Abermination Mtb Race

Well I can honestly say that the Illiniwek A-berm-ination was the fastest, flowy-ist (can I make that a word?), and most fun race course I've ever ridden. The trails were freaking fantastic!! They reminded me of some super fun trails that Aaron and I rode at Rays Town Lake while on vacation a few years back in Pennsylvania; Allegrippis. I never knew such fun trails were so close to home. I'll be back to ride for sure.

Unfortunately there haven't been huge turnouts in the women's expert field this year (come on ladies, get out there are race your bike!). So I was happy to have five other women to race with, especially with the Tour of Galena the same weekend. 

We had a long grassy start before the singletrack which I was actually happy with. I've been feeling more and more confident with this type of start, learning to put in a hard effort off the line. Before, I was lacking the motivation to work hard until I hit the singletrack, imagine that ;)

Britt took the lead and made it into the singletrack first, with me on her wheel, and Liz right behind. I'm always talking about how fast Britt is, so my goal going into the race was to try and stick with her as long as possible, especially through the first section which has a lot of climbing. I was off to a good start but was wondering how long I would be able to hang!

Photo Credit: Hanson Photo - Design

The trails were smoking fast and Britt slid out around a corner putting me in the lead, with Liz still right behind. Liz and I hit the open section overlooking the lake and Liz came around me taking the lead back into the singletrack. She then went down on a corner and I was back in the lead. I reminded myself to balance speed with caution. My rear wheel had already drifted around enough corners to remind me to be careful!

I made it through the second half of the lap without any problems and came through the start/finish with a 10 second gap. I made it back into the singletrack and started on the climbing section with Britt and Liz hot on my heels. Once through the climbing section and through the first open prairie section we came to a little wooden up and over and I heard Britt right behind. She had managed to drop Liz though so it was just the two of riding together.

Photo Credit: Hanson Photo - Design
It was so much fun to have a someone (and a teammate to boot) to ride with and push me to keep going hard! Usually things get pretty spread out and it can feel like you are out there racing by yourself.

We passed through the start/finish together and continued to hammer through the 3rd lap. We were still together towards the end of the lap and were just flying down the final descent (it felt like a roller coaster!) when I heard Britt say "oh golly", but I was going too fast to look back right away and couldn't tell what happened. I got slowed down and kept looking back, waiting for her to catch back up, but didn't see her coming. I was tormented with what to do. Everyone always tells you to keep going if there is a crash behind you, but it felt wrong. I eventually starting going again but still felt like I should be waiting up for her.


I passed through the start/finish once more and got to the climbing section. At that point I told myself that I need to start racing again and picked up the pace. It was the 4th and final lap and I was wondering when the expert men would catch - there weren't a lot of good passing areas so I was a little worried.

I kept getting closer and closer to the super fast and long descent when Kevin came around - thank goodness! I really kicked it into high gear after that to try and make it through the rest of the singletrack before the rest of the expert men caught up. It was close, but I happily made it to the open field before the finish when Aaron and another guy chasing him came by - relief!

I crossed the line and then went to check on Britt. Ingrid let me know that she had come through riding and seemed ok - double relief! I know crashes are a part of racing, but that doesn't make them any less scary, I was really glad to see she was ok. She even finished the race after what was a hard crash, she is  one tough girl!
Expert Women's Podium: Karmen, Britt, Bev, Myself, & Liz.

Aaron and I rewarded ourselves for our hard with this massive thing of cheese fries :)








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