Monday, April 5, 2010

Weekend Update

Last weekend @ Mission Trails, riding with Tim & Sarah from AZ

What an interesting weekend....kicked Friday off with the disheartening news that our good friend Justin had a pretty bad road bike accident. He survived, though with some broken bits, and will be back on the bike after he heals. San Diego sends its love, J!
Dan & Justin, the Mann

Also headed up to Rehab United in Carmel Valley to meet some new folks and hear about Team EXCEL. Awesome to finally meet Beth, catch up with James, hear Lesley Paterson give a few words (my new Xterra inspiration) and meet some other awesome folks.

Saturday, Dan and I thought it wise to practice transitions since we hadn't done them, well, ever. Spent the afternoon down at Glorietta Bay with our mountain bikes, timing and video-taping and self-evaluating. It's somewhat easy to remember the first two or three things you want to do but beyond a little fuzzy. I know it'll come in time. We had a nice swim out to the buoy and back (3x) and got to watch Catherine, Victor, Lulu, and Marilee from the Pulse crew hit the one mile swim.
Gear, gear, and more gear

Sunday we had planned on a Tour de Noble with Darryl and some of the STR crew. Since it was Easter, we knew the trail would be fairly empty and the ride group small. We started off with a 30 min trail run (which was great except today I can feel the 15 min rocky descent).
Dan & Darryl descend Extra Credit

It was quite cold at the start but warmed up nicely. Met the ride crew back at the car and got geared up for a long day in the saddle. Liz, Jeneine, Kay, Greg and Scott all came out to sample SD's finest. I will say...Noble kicked my ass today. Every climb felt awkward and the descents were, well...okay. I survived Barney Rubble on the Era and actually had not too many dabs (other than my normal tough spots)...oh, except my walk down Stairway to Hell. Another day...

On regen this week...hope to rest up and recharge.

On the new-product front...scored some half-price Zoot compression socks from Pulse's sale bin :) I've worn them a few times, and I have no complaints so far. We'll see long term what happens. Also, changed over my laces to Yankz...LOVE them!!
Key for easy in/out in transitions. Finally, we picked up Zoot race belts @ REI today....just in time to come home and get our USAT licenses in the mail. Only a few more days until Renegade!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Banana-Coconut Pancakes (Paleo Eats)

Allison shared a Paleo banana pancake recipe with me a few months back, and it's become a staple in our weekly breakfasts (especially on the morning of a big ride). It's super healthy and easy to make. I promise you won't miss the flour. I modified* it a bit from Allison's and added unsweetened coconut to change things up a bit. If you HATE coconut, just omit and double the amount of ground flaxseed.

(*I really don't measure when I'm cooking these, so I'll give you rough equivalents. Honestly, I usually toss in ingredients based on experience and adjust if the batter looks too runny or too thick.)

4 large ripe bananas
2 eggs + 1 egg white
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2-3 tbsp ground flaxseed
2-3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl...

1. Peel the bananas and break into large chunks. Mash banana into a pulp. I use my can use a masher if you like.

2. Add eggs, protein powder, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly.

3. Add in flax and coconut. Usually, I'll start with less and add more if the batter is still too runny. You want a fairly thick batter but not so much that it won't spread on the pan (just like regular pancakes).

4. Meanwhile, heat skillet on medium heat. When warm enough, grease with cooking spray, butter, coconut oil, etc (your choice).
6. I use a 1/4 c. measuring cup to portion out the batter. Cook for a few minutes on one side until you see bubbles forming. Flip and cook a few minutes more.

7. Top with your favorite goodies (we like cashew butter and pumpkin butter). Nom nom nom.

Yields ~20 pancakes.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Hammer Product Flavor Fails...

I have been using Hammer Nutrition products now for a couple of years with very good success and predictable results. My body tolerates the product quite well, and there are a wide variety of flavors to be had...something for everyone's taste. (disclaimer: the rest of this blog entry has to do with my personal preference and opinion...I suggest you taste the new product for yourself before making a determination...but maybe don't throw down the coinage for the biggest bottle before you try it).

I was beyond excited when Hammer announced it would be releasing a new flavor of Recoverite...chocolate! I could practically hear the angels trumpeting from above. We'd been rocking the Subtle Strawberry flavor for quite a long time (great when mixed with OJ), so I was eager for a change. How would my old faithful Strawberry stack up to the new sexy Chocolate?

What commenced is probably the biggest new product let-down I've experienced in a long time. Sorry Hammer...your Chocolate Recoverite tastes pretty terrible.

Here are some completely scientific ratings (pffft): (scale of 1-5 best)
Flavor: 1
Color: 1
Smell: 1
Dissolvability: 3
Overall drinkability: 2

I noticed that the Chocolate powder smelled weird...not bad or spoiled...just weird. Almost a fruity overtone or something that I can't put my finger on. I mixed the Recoverite as called for on the package...2 scoops in 8-12 oz of water. Usually, if at home, I'll doctor up my Strawberry Recoverite with OJ...but in order to be fair, I went for the straight water approach. (I don't think Strawberry tastes friggin' fantastic either when mixed with water, but it's not bad).

The color was a weak, watery brown. I really had to struggle to smell anything resembling chocolate. And the taste was pretty underwhelming. That same fruity overtone again! But overall, calling this product "Chocolate" flavor was being a tad on the generous side. Did I expect the flavor density of a dark chocolate bar or even chocolate milk? No, I'm realistic enough to know that this is energy food after all. But with Hammer, who puts out some great flavors such as Caffe Latte Perpetuem, it was a let-down. I know the company tends to flavor some of its products on the more "subtle" side of the spectrum (thank goodness), but I think they got this one wrong.

There is one silver lining in all of this: when mixed with Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, it was more tolerable due to a less watery consistency and appearance.

The other highly-anticipated new product flavor was Montana Huckleberry Hammer Gel. The small and unassuming yet flavor-packed huckleberry has been a favorite of ours while dining on huckleberry pancakes at the Lochsa Lodge on the annual rafting trip. And they turned that goodness into a gel flavor? Yeah!!

Well, sort of "yeah!"...Dan brought home a gel packet from REI a couple weeks back. I couldn't wait to taste the Huckleberry flavor. With flavor-dense options such as Tropical, Raspberry, and Apple, I expected big things. Again, though, it was a let-down. The flavor was pretty weak (which I guess is good if you like subtly-flavored gel), and the only thing I kept picturing was jellybeans. Jellybeans?!

I'm not a gel-user and stick to HEED for shorter events, but I've been known to take a gel here and there. I don't think that Huckleberry will be my go-to flavor.

All in all, I am still a Hammer girl...for me, the most important factor is product performance. However, if it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to be spurred to drink all my recovery drink or keep up my nutrition during a race. While I think Hammer has some amazing flavors of products in their line already, I'm of the opinion that they could have done better with these two new offerings.

If you are curious, just try the single-servings before you go all-in and get the monster 80 0z Recoverite bottle or the 16-serve bottle of Hammer Gel :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


2010 is all about trying something new...triathlon (or Xterra, to be more specific). Everything has been a learning experience so much to take in!

New bike...2009 Specialized S-works Era: full suspension XC race bike...light, light, light! 22 lbs of carbon goodness...this bike is tricked out. Thanks to The Path in Tustin for hooking a girl up! Words can't even truly explain how much of a difference this bike has made for me!! I went from a 30 lb all-mountain beast to a full-carbon dream bike that climbs like crazy and descends everything I need it to. Amazing bike.

New run gear....Pulse Endurance Sports tri top (our local shop), Zoot shorts (honestly, not a very flattering fit on me), new Brooks Cascadia trail runners (these buggers have grip!).

Ah, the wetsuit. Up until all this tri business, the last time I swam in ernest was probably two decades ago.'s been tough, but I love it! We've put in 3 open water (Glorietta Bay at Coronado...yes ocean) swims so far. The first was good, second was terrible, and last night was great. My Xterra Vortex3 wetsuit is amazing...warm and flexible in the water. Best part was that when I needed to switch to a smaller size, I just drove up to Mira Mesa and exchanged it. Love it when companies are local!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Enduro Accomplished

Two weeks back, Allison sent an email that said something like, "There's this ride in Idyllwild on the you want to do it?" Apparently, we all shocked her by saying yes. And so, riding the San Jacinto Enduro became a quick addition to the calendar. The official stats from the non-management proved intimidating enough that a weekend warrior would not even think about it. I'll admit, it left me (experienced in painful multi-hour events) thinking about how smart I was.

My last really long ride was back in early August when we did our century. After that, I stopped being in training mode, riding and running as I felt necessary, which ended up being quite a bit. Would I be able to finish the ride...touted as 70+ miles and 11,000' of ascent? Only time and my legs would tell.

We met up with Allison and Justin the night before, in a routine that has become familiar and comforting all at the same time: we drive up on Friday night, make final preps while the guys tinker in the garage, then debate what time to wake up and finally lay our heads down. A & J have been there on most of the hardest rides I have ever done, and I have come to think of them as our enduro partners in crime.

Alarm went off at 4 am on Saturday for breakfast, packing the truck, and the drive up from Murrieta to Hurkey Creek. It was warm until we descended from Mountain Center into Hurkey...a chilly 37 degrees. WTF You suck! It called for low of 45!

A lone red blinky light helped us find the campsite where a couple dozen people were milling around and signing in, making final preps for the ride. At one point, Allison or Justin said, "Seems like every time we start a ride in the dark, you guys are here." Haha!

I had a pretty heavy pack (18-20 lb, I'd guess) and some warm gear on (including arm/leg warmers and a vest), but right as we did our neutral roll-out my fingers were numbing up. My booze cruise light also died before we hit pavement. Drat! Once we hit Hwy. 74, they were downright painful. Luckily that faded once we were 2 minutes up the climb. A & J quickly pulled away while Dan and I were about 10 people from the back. Dan soon stopped to fix his squeaky brake, and I continued on convinced he'd catch me pretty quickly. The ascent up Little Thomas was nothing of note and pretty soon I was at Rouse Ridge, where A & J were waiting up. We debated hanging around for Dan but took off after a min or two.

Rouse had a few climbs but was mostly descending to Cranston Ranger Station, and before I knew it, 22 miles had passed. We refilled bottles, stripped off our extra clothes and snacked at the bottom. Sure enough, Dan rolled in not 5 min later, chasing after us like hell but never fully catching up.

The most daunting, in my opinion, part of the ride was right in front of us: a nearly 4000' ascent from Hemet to Idyllwild via fireroad with a nearly 10% average grade. We took off on the 74 and made our turn onto the dirt. A & J were gone in about 30 seconds, leaving Dan & I slowly plodding our way along. Right away, I knew I let my nutrition get away from me...stomach was cramping and I was feeling hungry all at the same time. Tried to keep the cranks going and going but I had to stop a couple times to rest. Reality is that I just am not a climber, especially on my 30 lb bike. I try and have gotten better but still struggle.

Dan, about to drop Ramona Trail with view toward Hurkey Creek

We finally made it to the asphalt in Idyllwild...a magical sight...and met up with two guys (one in an Adams Ave jersey and one on a SS). We navigated through Idy and up toward Astrocamp, then back onto dirt to the top of May Valley...even stopped to refuel and have a brownie EVER!

We navigated down toward Log Pile and then finally Coffee the end, Dan took a wrong turn because the rest of us had hauled ass to try to follow Donna. Needless to say, I figured it out and went back up from the creek to Coffee Pot to wait for him. 20-25 min later, another rider approached, and I inquired about Dan. At this point, I was thinking that if we really got separated, we'd have a hard time finishing in the daylight. Luckily he had seen Dan, and I about faced out to May Valley Road. I debated...go up, go down or wait? I figured up was the best choice and no later than 30 seconds later, he came riding down the hill.

Back on route, we picked up another rider who was having trouble with the directions and hit up Missing Link, Rage, Tunnel of Love, and back into camp.

We rolled in at 1:05, my failure to wait for Dan having cost us 30 min of race time. I was determined to soldier on...but admit it was tough for two reasons: lots of people did the first loop only and were kicked back, enjoying beers and relaxing AND two guys FINISHED the entire race as we were going out on lap 2. I figured it would take us ~4 hours which would put us arriving back at sunset.

Dan, poor guy, really was not keen on continuing but did not want me going out alone, so he sucked it up and went along. Not too many husbands would do that for their wives...I know I am beyond lucky.

Loop 2 was billed as harder, mile for mile, than Loop 1, even though it was nearly twice as short. We got onto Powerline, crossed the road, and did a ~7 mile loop out there, then continued south toward Thomas Mt. Road.

Me, about to descend Ramona Trail. Anatomy of this endurance rider: really heavy bike (check), light system in case we don't make it by sunset (check), super heavy pack (check), cue sheet tucked in shorts (check)...

At Pyramid Peak Rd. we sat down in front of some mailboxes to have a snack and plan the rest of the mileage. It was a relief when, as we ascended Thomas Mt., the road was not as steep as our climb out of Cranston. I was worn out but knew that we didn't have much longer to go. Pedal. Pedal. Pedal.

For some reason, I had the cattleguard at mile 16.4 as my goal...make it there and we're practically home free. That side of TM had some quick descents as well as lower % grades, so it felt like we were moving pretty fast. On the other hand, I never realized how slow 0.1 of a mile could go by. Ugh.

Finally, we reached the top and Ramona Trail was our handsome reward. Man, that trail is so fun. I wasn't going super fast but was flowing it pretty well. A few of the switchbacks gave me a hard time, but I was, for the only time all day, not thinking about the ride and just having fun.

We tried to haul ass as much as possible back to camp, knowing that we never caught the rider in front of us and also knowing with some certainty that we were the last riders on course. If not for getting separated on Loop 1, we'd have finished 2nd or 3rd to last. Honestly, I was surprised how few people went for the full ride...the tire tracks diminished to a handful as we kept going.

Official Garmin stats: 79.3 miles, 10,802' of ascent.

As we rode up the dirt path to camp, you could tell everyone was like, "Is that them?!" Justin sprang up and made a finish line in the dirt for us, and we got a hearty round of applause. There was even pizza and brownies left! Yes, we were DFL, but we rode hard and above all, didn't give up.

I saw the sunrise and the sunset on that ride and got to share the experience with some of my best friends. And yes, I'm ready for the 12 Hrs of Temecula now...THAT I do know :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On the horizon

Ugh, so busy from work. We just had a 2 week mid-semester break. Visited family for a week, worked for a week. Not too bad of a gig, I guess.

In any case, updating my ride/race schedule:

Oct 17/18 SoCal High School League girls' camp...I'll be helping out along with Tonya Bray and Pua Sawicki. It'll be nice to get up to Warner Springs for the weekend and chill.

Oct 24...San Jacinto Endurance Ride. Oh boy. 70 miles, 11,000' of ascent. Should be a fun day. :/

Nov 14...12 Hours of SoCal @ Vail Lake, my second solo race.

After several weeks of not training and sticking to a looser plan which also involved running (and I'll say it, I got fast-er), this little burst has found me feeling good at some times, fumbling at others.

All I know is that if I could go out for a mid-morning ride everyday, that would be completely's when I feel my best.

So, signing off for now so I can get some much needed shut-eye. Goal is to hit the hay by 10 pm each night.

Till next time...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ciento, εκατό, cento, hundert

Hope you know your world languages...


One hundred as in my first century. Indeed, after 5 years on a bike, I finally did a century ride. (This post is a couple weeks late, however).

The story is quite simple. For quite some time, riding a century has been a goal of mine. Just this June, I rode 80 miles on my mountain bike. I'm in the best shape ever. My rocketship of a bike is so comfortable. All the cards were in place. (dun, dun, dun...foreshadowing)

Not quite even a week after returning from Downieville, Allison threw out the idea of doing a century, with Justin mapping out the route. I assumed a two-peat of the Cool and Easy 50, their signature, relatively flat coastal jaunt. Well, you know what happens when you assume ;) Justin forwarded the route to us.

It didn't take me long to figure out that it was going to take us inland. On a very hot day. Over lots of hills. Gulp.

You see, I gulped because the crew that I'd be riding with was stacked: Justin & Allison...king & queen of training/racing; Luke...getting ready for an Ironman; Jeff...he uses those 8 foot long legs to his advantage, and Dan...the training sandbagger. That left me feeling like, uh, the Robo-Anchor.

As it turns out, Century Fail #1 was soon upon us. We met up at the end of the San Luis Rey bike path early on Saturday morning and quickly discovered that Dan (borrowing my old road bike) never even thought to check the pedals. After calling several area shops, he & Jefe jumped in the car and raced over (literally) to Performance, the only shop open within miles at 9 am on a Saturday. New pair of Crank Bros. pedals in hand, they were back quick as lightning.

All was finally moving along until: Century Fail #2. The allen key needed to remove the old SPD's was a size that NOBODY had a wrench for. Fantastic.

Dan, however, showed just how tough he is...he rode almost 50 miles NOT CLIPPED IN. To those who don't know cycling, this doesn't sound awful until you consider this: his CB cleats were precariously perched on top of the Shimano pedals (which are like greased lightning). Any pressure applied the wrong way or surprise bump would be enough for one's feet to go slip-sliding violently off. Nevertheless, he did not complain. Not even once. The plan was to find a shop in Esco where he could borrow an allen key and switch the pedals.

I digress.

We finally got rolling, and it was already hot. The pace was already solid. We basically rode in a huge figure 8 from Oceanside inland toward Valley Center, then back out to the coast, down to Leucadia, back inland to Rancho Bernardo, back out to the coast at Carlsbad and then back to Oceanside.

True to form, Justin picked a route with lots of hills. My Garmin put the ascent at nearly 7000' on the day. Not bad for 110 miles, but still no Cool & Easy 50.

Almost immediately, I couldn't hang on the climbs and was off the back.

My legs were so heavy and wouldn't open up. I kept plugging away, but it was hard to look down and see nary 20 miles gone by, sweating through my jersey, the sun leathering my arms and neck.

Once we hit Valley Center, we passed through a construction zone that had been so nicely paved ahead of our arrival. The fumes were noxious and nauseating. Zipping down that hill was worth it, though. We turned south and down the I-15 frontage road. Allison flatted, and the group sought shade under a stand of trees. Looking up the road, I had a good view of what awaited. A couple miles of uphill, no shade. Knowing that I would be mentally beaten down if I waited for the train to leave and dropped off the back, I forsook my shade/rest and kept on going. I think I was going 12-13 miles per hour. It felt like eternity to get up that hill. Each minute, especially as I neared the top, I kept expecting the group to catch up. Just as I crested the top, I noticed that my front end was behaving oddly. A flat. Damn!

The group caught up right about then, and Justin kindly helped me change my tire. It had to be nearly 100 degrees out there, and everyone else rolled through to hit up the AM/PM on the other side of the freeway. I have to admit, Gatorade and M&Ms never tasted so good!

Back out to the coast...almost. Century Fail #3 was upon us. After navigating through Esco, we found a Sports Chalet to attempt removal of Dan's SPDs in favor of the CB he was carrying in his pocket. After much confusion on the employee's part and what seemed like forever, they got it done. We all, I think, felt like the century was not going to happen. It felt late, and we weren't even halfway done.

Before I knew it, though, we were back at the coast.
The group was pushing a good pace. We passed the state beaches and were on our way to Pannikin when an idiot in an SUV decided that he was going to be a jackass. Seriously people, you are waiting for a parking spot, not $1 million. In any case, Dan & I literally bailed off the road (into sand, thank god) as this jerk took out his frustration on us. Seriously, though I love the coast, I can't stand the bike-ignorant people who drive there.

Pannikin soothed my nerves, though.

The muffin and iced coffee that I ate literally saved my ride.

We all quickly debated going back to the car or heading out for the rest of the century. After all these fails, could we overcome? Justin was like, "I'm going. Whoever wants to can follow me." I thank him for that!

I came alive in the second 50 miles. Finally, as we turned back east in Leucadia, I was feeling strong. We rode out through the north side of RSF and up Del Dios Highway.

We stopped at a CVS to fuel up again. The group was quiet and looking kind of beat down.

I loved the next part of the ride through Harmony Grove.

Huge oak trees, shade, a downhill-ish grade. It was fun and fast. Unfortunately, all things that go down must eventually go back up in the world of bikes. All I can say is that the hill up to San Elijo sucks hugely. I was feeling strong, but it was never-ending.

On our way back to Carlsbad, my motor kicked in. I was rockin' and rollin'. Who knew it would take me 80 miles to warm up?!?

I rode with Jefe some...he was back on the long ride after taking major time off for his knee to heal up. Props to him for sticking it out. Once we crested the hill, and I saw the Carlsbad power plant, I knew we were home free. We stopped at a 7-Eleven for more water. Jefe and I got slurpees...coke slurpees. Normally, I would avoid this at all costs...HFCS is evil. But, after 90 miles in the saddle, it tasted like no other.

As we crusied back up through Oceanside, I hit 100 miles. We all let out a "woo" and everybody congratulated me (being the only one who was a century virgin when we started). The San Luis Rey bike path went by in a flash, and we were done. :)

110 miles. Nearly 7000' of ascent. About 7 hours of ride time. Not too shabby indeed.

Since we had so many ride fails, Luke, Allison and Justin had to jet. Jefe was going home to celebrate with a brew. Food was about the only thought on my mind! Olive Garden was the solution to my hunger problem, so we loaded up on salad, breadsticks and pasta.

I can now cross century off my to-do list. But what new goal will take its place? We'll have to see about that one :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New Look, New Stuff

So many things to talk about, so little time....

Back at school (work)...year #9. Wow! Time does fly.

Kind of in a mini off-season from training. Not liking it in some ways, liking it in others.

Been working on the house. Again. Front & side yards are done. Backyard had huge overhaul. Not done yet.

Trying to find out why there is a mini-moat in our backyard. Grrr...

Broke out with some weird eczema/dermatitis. Itchy, painful blistery bumps on my hands. Steroid shot, now a homeopathic treatment seems to be knocking it down.

Got our proofs back from the wedding and engagement photo shoots...more to post up soon.

Right now I'm super into all this granola stuff (for lack of a better term)...trying to minimize our impact on the planet.

Got to go for a ride...look for some more updates soon :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"I don't think I can hang on anymore!"

That was my thought as I tried to navigate down Third Divide during the XC race. But not to get too far ahead of myself...

Day 0, The Great Trek Northward
A few months back, Allison, Justin, Dan & I were sitting around after some ride (I honestly can't remember which one) when the idea of Downieville came up. A & J were already signed up to race the All-Mountain event (XC and DH). I listened attentively since D'ville is a destination I've been wanting to hit since I moved to the west coast. Never have I heard anybody say anything bad about it!

And then, the Manns mentioned they were bringing a huge RV and there would be room for us if we were interested. Really?! Awesome of them to offer! So, we took them up on it, originally planning to ride the trails and have fun, which morphed into us signing up for XC.

Dan helps get the bikes ready to go

Dan-o and I drove up to the Mann's house on Monday night, arriving just after dinner time. We helped get the RV packed up. A 38' RV with Jeep and 4 bikes on the back = looooooong! Navigating through LA was okay since it was past rush hour...up the Grapevine. By 11, we decided to spend the night at an RV/truck stop.

How do we get there?

La-la at night

The morning saw another several long hours on the road, mostly with Justin at the helm of the boat. Kudos to him for doing 95% of the driving! A stop in Auburn saw us top off with food/supplies (and a huge gas FAIL), and then it was on to the twisty roads of route 49, past Nevada City and Grass Valley. There isn't much out in that part of the Tahoe National Forest. Really.
Somewhere on the Grapevine

Oak and grasses gave way to pines and cedars. The Yuba River came into frequent view. Finally, it felt like we were escaping from SoCal! On through Downieville and to our final destination of Sierra City to the RV camp.

Just follow the signs

Yuba River

After setting up the site, we hopped in the Jeep for a quick spin up the bottom of the XC course. My legs were like lead, and I couldn't catch my breath up the fire road...We turned around after 1.5-2 miles and jaunted out to the Sierra Buttes overlook to catch sunset.

The Buttes

Day 1, XC Recon

After a somewhat restful night, we awoke to bright skies and nice temps. Dan & I trekked down the short path from the RV to the Yuba River...turns out there was an awesome swimming hole right there. After getting a relaxed start, we suited up and drove up to Packer Saddle for our first taste of really good D'ville trails.

Camp M-M had some serious computer action going on

From the saddle, we dropped almost 2 miles down the fireroad (this would be the top of the monster 8 mile climb on the XC course). Hmmm...not too bad. (Of course, we missed the middle section which was steepest). From here we hit Pauley Creek...technical and fast. Third Divide was next...probably my favorite can hit it so fast, and there are some really fun corners and a couple tech sections to keep you honest. The course finishes on First Divide (my least favorite trail). It's flat-ish/ the end of all the descending, it made for a tough end to the ride.
This view never gets old...the Sierra Buttes
The Training Sandbagger
Mossy trunks

Allison gets some right before Baby Heads

Getting some traction and love from the Captains

Headed back to town

My machine
Adam Craig was kind enough to take a photo with us...very nice, down-to-earth guy

Once back to town, we checked out Yuba, ate lunch, and purchased some souveniers (t-shirts, mug). A & J were so awesome...they treated Dan & I to a shuttle ride back up to Packer Saddle as our wedding gift. Thanks so much! Dinner was awesome chicken, corn, salad and beer. Swimming in the Yuba was so cold but so awesome!

The swimming hole at our campground

Day 2, Shuttles

So, A & J wanted to hit the downhill course on Thursday and make sure they had some sections of Butcher dialed. The morning was again warm and sunny as we drove up to the saddle. Once we dropped them off, Dan & I high-tailed it back to town to pick them up. They were lightning-fast and we only had a couple minutes to hang out before they rolled in. We did check out the free wi-fi at the Carriage House :)

Allison rolls into town

Poaching the wi-fi

Dan roams around town

Then, we drove back up to Packer so that Dan & I could go on a ride. We hit up Sunset to Big Boulder to Second Divide. BB was rad...the trail was so fun and scenic. As far as Second Divide...techy challenges and climbs, exposure, steep for sure, but not my fave. I think I dubbed it "SART and Noble have an illegitimate child".

Blue, blue sky

Top of Big Boulder

View from the top of Big Boulder
Dan descends Big Boulder

Dan on First Divide

It was another great day!

Day 3, Rest

After a couple days of hard rides, we knew Friday would be a rest day. We registered in town, worked on bikes and tried to relax as much as possible. Even did a short spin up the road. The stories going around indicated to get to the line early in the morning to get a good spot, since there were only 3 waves of riders going off.

Yes, this is the amount of clothes 4 mt bikers wear in 3 days

Checking up on email, Le Tour and everything else

Race swag

I was pretty concerned about my race...hadn't felt strong all week, mediocre sleep, and coming off lots of steady state riding (i.e. 12 hour race pace) didn't seem to bode well for a massive XC effort. To top it all off, it was my first expert race, and I knew the field would be solid. I tried to get in a good frame of mind, but I was pretty tense going into Saturday.

Gotta shout out for the maple-soy cedar plank grilled salmon!

Day 4, XC!

I'll try to sum this up: hardest race I've ever done. Refer to the title of this blog post. The climb was massive. I hung on but barely. Watched a lot of women pass me. Mentally low. Legs were solid and heavy. Once descending, it was a brake-a-thon...too many riders who refused to yield to someone clearly faster. By Third Divide, my arm pump was so bad I thought my hands would slip off the grips. First Divide was painful. In the end, I missed my goal time by 3 minutes. 3:03. Now I have a new axe to grind.

All things considered, I finished exactly mid-pack: 8th out of 16. This included the all-mountain racers. Got the wrong message about podiums (originally they separated XC and AM results, which put me in 5th. By the time we got back, they changed their minds and combined them, so no podium for they only went 4 deep...WTH?)

Expert women's XC results

Dan once again cemented his Training Sandbagger status...6th out of 103 men in his Sport age group. Amazing!! Justin did pretty well despite cramping pretty badly, and Allison was 6th in pro...stellar!

Vendor area

Definitely earned this one

Mtb legend Thomas Frischnickt scoping out the Pixie-Cross practice

Getting up close with the Sh*tbike
If every hot summer ride could end with a dip in the Yuba, I'd be in heaven!

Hitched a ride on the shuttle back to Sierra City, shower, back to D'ville. Figured out the whole awards shenanigans, drank beer, hung out. Not bad :)

Day 5, Spectatin'

Thunder and lightning! Sufferin' succotash! It was storming out in the early morning hours. Rain cooled things down considerably before the DH. Got A & J up to Packer with plenty of time to warm up (unfortunately the wind kept things cool). Dan & I spectated and took pictures, cheered and heckled. It felt good!

Cloudy & chilly to start the day

Fantastic view

Justin's DH run

Allison on her way to a 57 min run

Adam Craig (1st in XC and DH, new course records)

The Sh*tbike in action!

Dain's DH run

Back down to town to get the Mann show. Allison finished 6th in the DH and overall...Justin went 11th/12th. Very proud of them for all their hard work!

On the way back to the RV, Justin suggested that Dan-o and I ride the DH course for fun. I'll admit, I was reluctant. I dunno why. But, I finally agreed and after a quick change we were back in the Jeep. Butcher was freaking crazy...we sessioned the Waterfall. After a few times not able to clip in, I did the hard line cleanly (though it wan't very smooth...but when am I ever?). We cruised and then picked up the pace a bit, getting to town in under 1:10 ride time. If I do this again, I have to hit the 1:00 flat or less mark.

Sunny skies in the afternoon

Dan on Sunrise

Third Divide after the rock "wall"

We scored some free beer since the New Belgium folks were packing up and waited for our chariot. Dinner, beer, tequila shots and shenanigans rounded out the night as we all celebrated solid performances and no injuries on course.

This is what 3 days at D'ville will do to your bike

Monday saw us driving home (13.5 hours for us), leaving the Mann show behind. It was a truly great week, and I wouldn't have traded anything! Thanks guys, sincerely.