BT Epic Race Recap

So many of you guys have made sure to let me know that I’ve been quiet on here lately. Thankfully it’s because I’ve been super busy racing my bikes, training, and working very hard at growing our Dallas/Fort Worth Women’s Mountain Biking Community with our Dirt Side Sisters weekly group ride. I’ll definitely be blogging about that very soon, but for now, here it is back by popular demand…my BT Epic race report!

leaves

A few weekends ago we ventured out to Steelville, Missouri for the Berryman Trail Epic. It’s a 52 mile mountain bike race that starts at the Bass River Resort and makes its way through gorgeous forest with super flowy singletrack and long sustained climbs. Last year Carlos had heard about this race on Facebook, so at the spare of the moment we signed up with absolutely no intention of being competitive. We went out to ride, enjoy the new scenery, and take a break from racing. Despite our plan not to ride hard, the racer in me took over at the end, I pushed it hard to the finish and placed second last year. I was happy with that, but I knew I could do much better with a go from the gun mentality.

This year our focus was clear and the goal was to try our best for me to move up to that top step of the podium. We started our days worth of a drive up to Missouri on the Thursday of the race. We arrived at the resort just in time to setup our A Liner and head out for a short spin. There was rain in the forecast and we completely lucked out! It drizzled over night and through the next morning, which was just enough to make the trails perfect! Although it was sprinkling and raining on and off throughout the morning, I grabbed my phone and rode around the campgrounds taking in the beautiful fall foliage that surrounded us. Carlos always knows when I sneak off like that, I’m out somewhere taking pictures in the woods…it’s just something I love to do! But this time I was so camera happy and caught in the moment that he got worried because I was gone so long and we had zero cell phone service, so there was no way to reach me either.. Oops!

When the weather cleared up we headed out for a partial pre ride of the course. We had an idea of which sections of the trail we wanted to get to and had a blast. He helped me work on a few steep switchbacks that were pretty tricky and tight.

That particular section of single-track was densely covered in leaves which made it really hard to see where the trail was going, and you had no idea where the underlying rocks and roots were. When we finished up our ride and of course took more pictures, Carlos mentioned that he couldn’t see very well out of his right eye and it was hurting pretty bad. All he could see was a grey, blurry fog. As soon as we got back to our camper he took off his contacts and I bought him some eye drops in the little store at the resort. The drops burned his eye like crazy and didn’t help at all. He began to get a headache and said it was getting worse. I don’t know very much about contacts and eye problems so of course I searched Dr Google. You better believe that every single condition I read with his symptoms instructed to go to your eye doctor right away because of the risk of losing your vision. I kept constantly asking him if he was okay, if it was getting better, and he would just say, “I don’t understand how an eye can hurt so bad!” I started to get scared and we decided to drive into town. We stopped at the pharmacy to ask where the nearest eye doctor was located and they said, eight miles away in the town of Cuba. When we got to Cuba the sign outside of the doctors office read that he closed at 3:00 pm….it was 3:30. Crap! But Carlos pulled on the door and it was open! The receptionist was very nice and listened to us explain our situation. I’m sure she could also see that we were a little bit distressed. They were very understanding and thankfully they took him in for an exam. The doctor said there were several scratches on his retina but no sign of infection. He put an antibiotic ointment in his eye and prescribed him more so that he could apply it again at bedtime. All we could do at that point was wait to see if he would be able to put his contacts on in the morning. Here is an interesting fact that we learned…your eye is the fastest healing part of your body.

In the evening we prepped our bottles and nutrition for the next day. We like to have everything ready to go the night before for early morning races. Carlos said, “If my eye isn’t better in the morning and I can’t race, I’m going to line up, turn myself inside out on the first four mile climb up the jeep road, so that you can draft me and win Queen of the Mountain.” I don’t think there’s any better way to say “I love you” in cycling words than that! So the next morning came the moment of truth, whether or not he would be able to wear his contacts. He carefully put them on and there was only slight discomfort, which meant he was racing!!! Yeah!

We finished getting ready and Carlos rolled out of the camper pretty early to warm up a bit. I wanted to get a quick spin to loosen up my legs so I headed over to the starting area. It was twenty five minutes till the gun went off, and my goodness, there were already two rows of racers lined up! It was a pretty unintelligent decision on my part to warm up so close in time to the race, which made for a quick change of plans…no warm up for me. Instead I tried to get as close as possible to the front and the only way to do that was to stand on the edge of the third row. Carlos rolled up next to me and when the race started, we were split up right away. I had to squeeze around a few of the guys with hard accelerations to catch Carlos’ wheel. Once I was there I shouted to let him know, and we were off. This is when we entered the pain cave and stayed there for about twenty minutes. Those first four miles are hard, painful, and it literally feels like your legs are going to explode from all the lactic acid you’re producing. I was really kicking myself in the butt for not warming up.

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photo credit, Patrick P. Evenson

So far, as we entered single track, our plan was working perfectly. I was the first female to get to the top and I won $100 for the Queen of the Mountain! At that point, Carlos signaled me to get ahead of him so he could recover for a second. It wasn’t long until he was riding past  me on one of the first technical climbs which was covered in leaves and loose rocks hidden underneath. The guys directly in front of me dismounted and so I joined them on foot running up the steep terrain. Up until the first main feed zone at the Berryman Campground where our drop bags were, Carlos guided me through the trail which made for a smooth ride.

 

Our drop bags were in order numerically according to your race number. One of the volunteers grabbed by bag quicker than I could find it, switched out my bottles, and in no time I was ready to go. Carlos was still trying to find his bag when I yelled out, “Baby I love you!” I had an internal battle riding off without him because we had such a great rhythm going on together, but that was the agreement we had before the race started. We were there to race and usually splitting up is just the way it goes. Marathons are so important to know and listen to your body since you’re on the bike for four or five hours.

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photo credit, Patrick P. Evenson

I got into a good groove riding by myself. I glanced back through the woods and saw a choo choo train of riders coming at me. When they got closer I asked them if they wanted to pass but they were happy with the pace I was holding. One of my PACC teammates, Randy Gibson was in that train. Randy’s a fast Cat 1 50+ racer and not to mention a pretty funny guy! I had a feeling that Carlos had no idea Randy was now in front of him since Randy didn’t stop at the feed zone. Our team has this healthy competition and we all like to push each other, but I knew if Carlos didn’t bridge up to us it was going to throw him for a loop when he finds out. I rode with Randy up until the last few miles of the race where I broke off on my own. I felt really good the entire time and it was fun to ride with someone I knew who I could play and joke around with. Shortly after we were done, Carlos came across the finish line and his smile instantly faded when he saw Randy standing there. “What are you doing here?!?” Carlos asked. “What are YOU doing here???” Randy asked back. HAHAHA! Randy thought Carlos was in front of us the whole time and that kept him pushing, where Carlos obviously thought Randy was behind him so he backed off thinking, “I got this!” Well boy were they both wrong and that just goes to show the power of the mind.

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I was so happy that the lead I had gained with Carlos’ help on the first half of the race, stuck until the end. I looked back a few times through the fifty two miles and I never saw another woman, finishing almost eight minutes ahead of second place, and I improved my time from last year by over twelve minutes! It was a good day in the saddle.

The awards ceremony, ginormous swag raffle, delicious food, endless amounts of beer, and awesome bonfire is really what makes this race unique. They raffled off thirty beach cruisers and the whole night is one big party! Not to mention Bass River Resort has THE BEST PIZZA!!!! And they deliver to your campsite, how cool is that?!? I’m sure the secret is out by now that I can EAT, and eat, I did!!

 

So there it is, another adventure of Carlos and Lisa! Next we’ve got some cyclocross and one more marathon at one of our favorite places, Palo Duro Canyon!

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Warda Muddy Mountain Biking Adventure

This sure has been one heck of a rainy season! It seems like every time I open my Weather Channel App to check the ten day forecast it’s filled with clouds, lightning bolts, and rain drops. This makes for a very sad mountain biker. I know we were in a severe drought just last year, and our lakes desperately needed the rain, but I do miss the dirt. Don’t get me wrong, I love road riding. In fact, it generally makes up more than 50% of our training. But now that the trails are closed and literally underwater, we’ve been forced to adapt to our environment. A few weeks ago was the final race of the Texas Cross Country Mountain Bike State Championship Series in Warda, TX. We knew the area had recieved heavy rainfall throughout the week and more likely than not, the trail was going to be a muddy mess. I’ve never really been a huge fan of racing in muddy or wet conditions because for one, it can take a toll on your bike and more times than not you’ll find yourself replacing brake pads, bottom brackets, head sets, etc.. For two, it can significantly increase the danger factor. Anyone who rides and races bicycles knows and accepts that every time we throw our leg over the saddle there is a risk of injury, but I don’t know if it’s the personal trainer in me who has learned from the bodies of my 50, 60, & 70 year old clients, or the memories from fifteen years of bull riding in Carlos, but we both would strongly prefer to keep the rubber side down and the danger factor to a minimum. This is also why we have put a great deal of time and energy this past year into improving our technical skills. When race weekend approached, our choice was simple…it was no dirt or wet dirt. So we chose wet dirt. Friday morning we loaded up the camper and drove four hours south to Warda. The last two hours was steady rain and when we got to the ranch the word was that it had been raining there all day. This put a bit of a limp in our step when it came down to finding dry land to set up camp. We scoped out our options, aiming for a spot under a tree, because if the sun finally decided to come out and play it was going to be a steam bath for sure! So we pulled the camper down to a spot near the expo area and next thing we knew our truck AND camper were completely sunk into the nasty mud and we were stuck! It was so bad! I’m sure we looked like such rookies, scratching our heads, tires spinning out and smoking up, only to sink deeper. I was having a panic attack, and coming close to tears. There was definitely tension in the air. Then, Mother Nature decided we needed a little more excitement in our day as lightening struck so close to our truck that I could see the flicker, and every hair on our body stood up! It was followed by the loudest and longest rumble I’ve ever heard in my life! After about an hour of helplessly trying to get our truck out of the mud, we finally went back to the ranch house and asked for help. Alan, who is a super nice guy, was so kind to get us out of the pickle we were in. It wasn’t an easy task and even his own 4×4 pickup got stuck more than once. It took more work I think, than even he had imagined. But finally we were free and Alan was able to get our camper and truck up to higher ground. 

   
 
The rain stopped long enough to give us a break and we popped up the Aliner next to the bike wash, right where Alan had left it. Even though the ground there was wet, the whole expo area was so muddy that we were scared to try to move it and get stuck again. Although this was far from how we imagined our camping spot to be, we decided to call this swamp our home for the weekend. While setting everything up our water pump died, and our generator didn’t feel like working either. It was really playing out to be a GREAT weekend (sarcasm). After a couple more hours went by, it looked as though more and more water was accumulating outside the camper, and at this rate we’d be sunk into the ground by the end of the weekend. So here we go again, tear everything down, hook up, gun it across the field so we don’t get stuck, and alas we are on firm ground! Still no water pump, but a fellow camper did help us figure out the generator situation and we were up and running! Right when things started to finally settle down and run smooth, I went to cut a slit in the top of an Ozarka 2.5 gallon water container and my knife slipped. I cut straight through the entire side of the container and water immediately exploded everywhere! All over the floor, the rug, on top of Carlos’ cycling bag…everywhere. I had no words. Not even the bad ones. I think at that point I was in total shock and disbelief of the line of challenges that this day had brought forth. We had arrived at the ranch at 2:30pm and didn’t kick our feet up until 9:00pm. I’m not a big drinker, but the beer sure did taste good that night!

Saturday morning, before that Cat 3 and Cat 1 races started, I decided to go out for a pre-ride of the UCI style course to see what I’d be getting myself into the next day. It was exactly what I thought it would be like, an early season cyclocross race. Riding through the saturated fields of grass and mud was giving me flashbacks of the Houston Cross races we did last Fall. I just knew that once a few more wheels rolled through there it was going to get super tore up and messy, which translates into having to really lay down the power on the pedals…ouch. Other than those fields, the trail was actually pretty decent. The ground was slick, just as to be expected, but nothing really stuck to your tires. The only creek crossing in the race was deep and flowing pretty good. In my pre-ride there was an entire section closed off because it was too wet and slippery to ride. In retrospect, I kind of wish I had just snuck by the tape and rode it out because that section ended up being in my race and is what gave me the most trouble on the course. 

I finished riding just in time to get cleaned up, wash my bike off, and help Carlos with anything he needed before his race start. This year has really thrown some curve balls at him. Of course the crazy snow, sleet, and freezing cold weather at Mellow Johnny’s affected us all, but like I said before, those conditions are not our favorite. Then in Abilene Carlos kissed a rock with his forehead and needed 11 stitches above his eyebrow and 3 in the corner of his eye. Needless to say Pace Bend was another wet, rocky, and slippery race which served its purpose to get the monkey off his back and be back to racing again. After the monsoon that hit Big Cedar the day before that race, we both decided to ride our road bikes instead and stay on dry ground. So ultimately, this year was a wash for him, and after everything we had gone through to get to Warda the day before, how could we not race?!? He lined up and there was a crash right from the start. Thankfully no one was badly injured and Carlos had avoided it. His position was good going into singletrack and every time he popped back out of the woods he was all smiles and having a good ole time. He was all smiles as he finished nice and muddy in a solid 10th place! It didn’t rain the whole day, but it sure was getting muggy!

 

Coming through on the start loop!

  

Carlos riding through the creek crossing

 

  
 

The forecast for Sunday was not looking promising. There was a chance of rain in the morning, but we were all crossing our fingers that it would miss us! I was really focused on staying mentally prepared for the worst, which was probably a good thing because we woke up the next morning to pouring rain. My race was at noon and honestly, I hadn’t even register or paid my entry fees yet. The Cat 2 racers went off at 9:30am and they raced through the thunder and lightning. I don’t know if it was because the weather got so bad or the lap times were taking much longer than expected, but all the Cat 2 racers were pulled after only one lap. About this time is when Carlos looked at me and said, “You know you don’t have to do this right?” You see, after my last win in Coldsprings, my points lead was locked into first place for the State Championship. Therefore, the outcome of this race would have no change to my position in the standings. But in my mind it came down to two reasons why I wanted to race. The first was because I I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to gain experience riding in challenging conditions like these, without such a high danger factor (i.e. no slick, wet rocks on this course). Maybe one day I will be faced with these same conditions and hopefully then I can pull this experience out of my racing arsenal. Second, our team, Team PACC, was in a very tight points battle for the TMBRA Team Challenge. So in reality, I did have a lot of pressure put on my to do well since I was the last member of our team to race for the season and therefore the last to scoop up as many points as possible. There they were…my WHY’s. My third secret why, was that riding in the rain and sliding around all over the place just makes you feel like a kid all over again! 

I suited up, while Carlos put a double rain flap on my down tube, which was a savior for my eyes once I had to ditch my glasses. Amidst the thunder and rain I walked to registration thirty minutes prior to the race start. It was so crazy to see close to our largest women’s field lining up in the muddy field. Now those are some tough girls! I’m so glad I didn’t miss it! I had a great start with the hole shot up the jeep road, but within the first half mile we hit the first swampy field. It was so tore up that you had to commit to whichever rut you could find and hope it’s a fast one. Our positions changed and the race was on! I went down the super fast section called Gas Pass in third and a bit later was caught behind a small crash. As I was untangling my bike from the collision, in the corner of my eye I could see wheels flying by me. I had no idea how many, I just knew I needed to stay composed and ride smart. I rode myself back into fourth place and had a heck of a good time! The creek crossing that was now almost knee deep was flowing crazy fast and on my third trip through there I didn’t quite make it across. When I put my foot down in the water my bike almost drifted away! 

 

photo credit The Light Co.

 
 

photo credit The Light Co.

     

Later in the race I slipped into a rut on a descent and almost went off the side of a cliff! It was gnarly, but extremely comical because I couldn’t even get my bike off of me to stand back up! The whole day was quite the adventure! I finished the race in fourth, and I was proud that I had at least given it a shot. 

Without that double mud flap the front of me would have looked like the back!

I’m a firm believer in living life to its fullest, and sometimes that means playing in the mud! I’m so extremely thankful for Carlos, who is my amazing husband and coach, my awesome team, and my most supportive sponsors, Plano Cycling and Fitness, Elete Electrolytes, Square One Cafe, Legacy Chiropractic, Legacy Merch, Roman Strength, ESI Grips, Pactimo, LIV Cycling, The Light Co., and Smith Optics! It’s my first year as part of The Watt Posse, PACC’s Elete team, and I’m excited to bring home the Pro Women’s 2015 Texas State Champion Marathon Jersey and my second ever Pro Women’s State Champion Cross-Country Jersey!

 

My second cross country state championship title!

 
      

2015 Pro Women Texas State Championship

Pace Bend…Bluebonnets, Bikes, and Good Times!

Welcome to Pace Bend

Two Thursday’s ago Carlos and I pulled our camper down to Spice Wood, TX. Sunday was the fifth race of the Texas Mountain Bike Cross Country State Championship Series at Pace Bend Park. We had the extra time so we decided to get away from Dallas early, hang out with friends and teammates, ride our little hearts out, and just have a heck of a good time.

Kisses!!

 

Fun in the sun!

Sonya and I roaming around through the fields of Bluebonnets

The forecast was not looking promising and there was a high chance of rain predicted for the entire weekend. Luckily, we had absolutely PERFECT weather the enitre weekend…until we got to the starting line on Sunday morning. That’s when it started misting steadily. The soil at Pace Bend actually holds water really well, but the small limestone rocks are a bear with even the slightest moisture. The course this year was being run in the reverse direction than the normal flow, and therefore different than the previous years we’ve raced it. Because of this change, the first three miles of the race was now constant limestone, which translates to wet, slippery rocks.

The women’s pro field was a bit smaller this time with only six of us lining up, but strong contenders none the less. My goal was to be first into singletrack so that I had the trail to myself without any distractions. My plan worked perfectly as I lead our group up the mile and a half climb and was first into the trail. The rocks were everything I expected them to be, SUPER SLIPPERY! I was extremely thankful to be at the front because I definitely had to put a foot down more than once to save myself from hitting the ground. It felt so chaotic. Many times I look for rocks in the trail that I can just pop over for a faster line, but now I found myself having to change my mind frame. I needed to look for dirt, and there really wasn’t much of that in those first few miles. After getting out of the first long rocky section, I started to finally catch some speed and opened up. Next thing I knew, I was coming around a corner and there was another six foot patch of baby head limestone. I braked right before I approached it to shave off some speed, and once I got through it, I heard the terrible sound of the girl behind me hitting the ground. I slowed down and yelled to see if she was okay, but she wasn’t answering. I yelled again and still no answer. Finally I came to a complete stop and shouted a third time. This time she responded but I couldn’t understand what she said. The poor thing had gotten the air completely knocked out of her. Two more girls in our group, Fiona and Sarah, have now caught up to us and since they were closer to her, I ask them to check up on her. Once I got the thumbs up that she was okay to ride out by herself, the three of us continued our race together.

Not like anyone is ever really a “fan” of crashing, but I have had my fair share of wipeouts to know that I was NOT willing to go down that day! For the remainder of that lap I was hesitant, tense, and basically everything you DON’T want to be when you’re riding your bike. My legs were strong, but that does you no good when you’re tip toeing through slick rocks and roots. At some point I bobbled and Fiona came around me. I stayed close to her through the woods and a few miles later I turned the corner to see her on the ground. She had gone over her bars. Sarah and I stopped to make sure Fiona was okay along with another male rider. She was having trouble getting going again. Finally she said it was okay and it was mainly her elbow that hurt. Once again, Sarah and I continued racing.

Carlos dropping in like a boss! photo credit Sonya Minnerly

Gotta get that smile in! photo credit Sonya Minnerly

At this point, it had become a race of attrition. This wasn’t about fitness anymore, but riding as smooth as possible and finishing in one piece. I tried to hammer it where the trail allowed, then calm down and relax going into the technical sections. Midway through my final lap my friend and teammate, Steve Minnerly caught up to me. I moved out of the way and followed his lines the rest of the race. It was such a blast and my favorite part of the whole day because it felt just like a fun group ride hauling butt through the woods! Steve is not only one of the fastest guys I know, but he’s also 61 years old…pretty amazing! We rolled through the finish line together, both of us in first place!

This has been our second wet, and rocky race of the season. With all the abuse that my beautiful Lust has taken through these wet races and training rides, she began making some funny noises in the past week. So I’ve gotta give a HUGE THANK YOU to Daryl over at Plano Cycling and Fitness for taking apart my entire drive train, and cockpit the day before we left to Pace Bend. He searched up and down for the creaky sounds and made sure everything was properly lubed, greased, and torqued…funny noises gone, shifting perfect!! For the next three courses, the rocks are out of the way and hopefully the rain is too! I’m definitely ready for some fast, tacky, singletrack!

U.F.O. Ultimate Freakin Omelet!

Over the past several months I’ve gotten quite a few requests for food recipes. For the past month or so I’ve been totally addicted to this yummy omelet that I make almost every morning. So much so that I REALLY want to share it with all you fresh food lovers out there! I’m not by any means a great omelet maker. As a matter of fact, the first few I made completely fell apart when I tried to flip them. The good news is that it all goes down the same! Plus I get to make one for me and one for Carlos so I get lots of extra practice! 😉IMG_6502

The ingredients you’ll need are:

-1 1/2 c organic baby spinach
-1 mushroom chopped
-1/4 c red bell pepper chopped
-1/8 c red onion chopped
-1/2 tsp minced garlic
-1 tbs olive oil

-2 whole eggs (if you prefer a lower calorie choice you can use 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites)
-1 tsp chili garlic sauceIMG_6503

-1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
-4 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
-1/2 avocado sliced
-4 sprays FortiSalt Gourmet Mineral Supplement

Since I started making this so frequently, I decided to have the onion and bell pepper chopped up and ready to go for faster prepping time. I’ll do all the chopping at one time and store the ingredients in Tupperware. I also prefer to use minced garlic from a jar because it’s really handy, and honestly, I don’t really like chopping garlic.

First things first, heat up your pan on medium to medium high. Don’t make it too hot or your eggs will cook too quickly. Crack your eggs in a small bowl, add the chili sauce, and beat them with a fork or whisk. Set this bowl to the side. Put the onion, mushroom, and bell pepper in a separate bowl so it is ready to be sautéed. I know I’m stating the obvious here, but this is way easier to prepare when you have ALL your ingredients right next to your pan and ready to go before you actually start cooking. (I had to learn that the hard way.)

Alright, here we go…drizzle your olive oil in the pan and add your bowl of chopped veggies, minced garlic, and spinach, in that order.
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This will make it easier to toss the spinach around without your vegetables popping out of the pan. With a spoon, keep moving it all around until the spinach is cooked down. Once it’s done, put your sautéed vegetables back into the original bowl. Add a bit more olive oil to coat the pan, or you can even spray Pam for a thinner layer. Pour your eggs in and let them sit for about 20-30 seconds. Now spoon your sautéed vegetables into the center of the egg. You can also add a few crumbles of feta cheese. The tricky part now is to let the egg cook just enough to where you can move it around without it being too runny, but not so much that it breaks when your pulling the sides up to cover your vegetables.

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The more I made this the “prettier” my omelets got. 🙂 As you gently pull one side of the egg around the vegetables, I like to use the other side of the pan to help lift the other side over. Gently flip the omelet and let it cook a little bit longer.

Once your omelet is fully cooked, transfer it over to a plate. Top it with feta cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado for some bonus healthy fat, and a few sprays of FortiSalt. This is one of my most favorite ingredients to cook with because it introduces essential minerals and trace minerals into the diet that aid in muscle function. For those with high blood pressure, it’s good to know that FortiSalt will add the salty flavor in food with only 50% sodium.

Hope you enjoy the explosion of flavors as much as I do!!! Until next time…bon appetit!

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Ignite Your Passion

I’ve been pretty quiet on here for most of the year. Our lives go through seasons, and 2014 has felt like a season of change, trials, and transition. Not specifically in mountain biking, although there were definitely a few tests of character there. So sometimes it just seems right to step back, pray a bit, and be thankful for all the blessings in our lives. We like to dream big, be healthy, help others, and have fun! I shared a quote on Facebook the other day from one of my favorite people, Anthony Robbins, that REALLY hit home. It said, “Cultivate the feelings of excitement and passion. These can turn any challenge into a tremendous opportunity, giving us the unbridled power to move our lives forward at a faster tempo than ever before. Ignite your passion by using your physiology: Speak more rapidly, visualize images more quickly, and move your body in the direction you want to go.” As I sat down to write a recap of the year, this quote really took me back to the beginning, my first mountain bike race. I remember it like it was just yesterday. That morning Carlos and I woke up from camping at Solavaca and headed over to pick up our number plates at the registration table. I was so nervous that I thought I was going to throw up. We walked around and watched the Cat 1 girls fly by us on their third lap. That was absolutely nuts to me! THREE laps! Are you serious?!? I could barely get through one without dying! It seemed so unattainable in my mind to be at their level, but I was hungry…hungry to be better. That was the Fall of 2009. Since that day, we’ve gone through so so much! Hard tails, full suspensions, 26, 29, 27.5. Bumps, bruises, stitches, happy tears, sad tears, and even hitting the wall, bonking tears. Some of our greatest friendships and greatest struggles have been created through cycling, and through it all we’ve suffered together, laughed together, and grown together. Each season, each race, each training ride has made me a stronger rider but most importantly, a stronger person.
2014 season was filled with many ups and downs, and not too long ago it even crossed my mind to sit the rest of the races out. I had a great start in the first race at Rocky Hill, and then the momentum quickly disintegrated after my crash at Mellow Johnny’s which was followed by a bad case of bronchitis and a few more bad crashes. I fought to stay in the standings and was struggling not only physically, but mentally.

My friends, my family, my faith, and my husband have been my biggest support and lifted me up when I was down. I never actually could let myself give up, even though I wanted to, and I am SO GLAD I didn’t! After flatting in the Comfort race, a few weeks later I went on to win in Abilene. I rode strong at Big Cedar finishing only 14 seconds behind first place and accidentally doing a whole nother lap of the course because of a mishap in communication at the starting line. It was an awesome day of riding for sure! Then I battled it out in Coldsprings with Melissa White, the new Cat 1 19-39 State Champion, and newly upgraded pro. She is a solid competitor, awesome person, and I’m so excited to have an even stronger and larger pro field in 2015. I took the win that day, and it locked me into the top spot for the series! WOW!!!! Mid season, I didn’t think there was a chance in the world that this could happen, but God had a greater plan for me!

In May we wrapped it all up in Warda for the State Championship season finale. We enjoyed the perfect weather, hung out with some great friends, and raced our tails off. I got to stand on the top step for my very first Texas State Championship Jersey! Carlos achieved his Top 10 goal, finishing 8th overall! Also, huge congrats to our friend and teammate, Dale Dawesome for also becoming the new Cat 1 30-39 State Champion, as well as our cycling client, teammate, and great friend, Leigh Anne Robertson for winning the Cat 3 40+ State Championship in her very first full season of racing! She’s improved leaps and bounds, and it’s only the beginning! We are so proud of her!!

To top it all off, we just got back yesterday from our last race of the Texas Cup Series. Carlos finished in third place overall, I came in first, and Leigh Anne won the overall in her very first season of Cat 2! If there’s one word to describe it all, I would say PERSEVERANCE. Never, never, NEVER give up!

Character Building

It’s kind of strange, and humbling, and sometimes even life changing, when life throws so many curve balls at you in a short period of time. I sort of feel like this whole year has been like that, curve ball after curve ball. The week after my crash at Mellow Johnny’s I developed bronchitis. It seems to be a chronic thing for me in the past year, ever since racing the cold and wet Excruciation Exam last January. That was the very first time I have ever gotten bronchitis and I am so much more susceptible to it now. I got it again this past November after being caught in the super cold rain while camping for the Tyler race. I think what triggered it this time was a not so smart decision to pre ride the Rocky Hill race course on that Friday when it was drizzling and 30 something degrees. I thought I was home free after having a great race, until four days later when the nagging cough began. It never made me feel “sick” until the Friday after Mellow Johnny’s. I had already been off the bike from being so sore from hitting the ground, and now I was off because my chest and lungs just didn’t want to cooperate. I was super frustrated and this cough had lingered long enough. Desperate for answers and help, I finally went to the doctor…again. He put me on a treatment plan, and now I’m working at keeping my exercise induced asthma under control so that my bronchials can get a break and heal.  As of lately, I’m FINALLY feeling like my old self again and I am SO THANKFUL for every breath I take, literally!

I was slowly working my way back to riding, not including any intensity, just spinning my legs so that my muscles didn’t forget how. The weekend that the Pace Bend race rolled by, at the last-minute I decided to register. It was a long three lap race that I knew was going to be shortly over two hours. I figured it would be good to force myself to pace it, and since the course is pretty rocky I would just focus on my bike handling. At the starting line I was informed that they shortened my race to two laps! I wasn’t really sure how I felt about that. I didn’t want to go hard and now I almost felt forced to, but I held my ground and let the girls gun it from the start while I twiddled my thumbs in the back. I was sticking to my plan, riding happily through the woods, when out of nowhere, I found myself on the ground. In probably what was the smoothest part of the whole course, I had clipped a root with my pedal and apparently there was no saving it. After being banged up already I can honestly say I was ready to just pull the plug. My desire to ride and “race” had quickly faded.

Not long after that I came up to one of the rockier features and saw Carlos standing on the other side of the drop. He had gone over his bars and slammed his knee into a rock. At this point we were both mentally in a rut. We stood there for about five minutes trying to regroup, but neither one of us could get the other to snap out of it. In an attempt to bail from the race all together, but not knowing a short cut out of the trail, we continued riding. I guess he got a kick of energy and a newly found motivation because it didn’t take long before he said, “Hey, I’m just going to keep going!” Well, monkey see, monkey do, right? So I followed his lead and kept going too.
Just to keep this short, I will spare you all the details from the race that would never end. In a nutshell, between the two of us, it involved another slide out, a mechanical, getting whacked in the head by a tree, and another stop with one of the girls who broke their ankle on the course. Hence, we both finished…in last.

Finally for some good news…we bought a camper!!!! You know, some people lean towards comfort foods when they’re down. Well, since we like to do things big, we got a “comfort” camper! Lol That’s not really WHY we bought it, but it definitely did bring us MUCH comfort! 🙂 The friendly folks at Princess Craft Campers and Trailers in Roundrock were great! Pat and Steve helped pick out the right camper for us and we ended up with a sweet A-Liner Classic that has the off-road package. This thing is AWESOME!! We’ve spent two weekends in it so far and we absolutely LOVE IT! So if you see our triangle-shaped home at the races, feel free to stop by and check it out!

20140404-160225.jpgWe pulled our new A-Liner to Comfort, TX this last weekend for the next TMBRA race at Flat Rock Ranch. The weather was perfect, and I was super excited to be feeling better! At the start of my race I moved up from third to second in the first mile. I stayed close to Jessica, who was leading. As I got towards the top of the “upper loop,” all of a sudden I heard Stan’s squirting out of my tire. Ugh! I was only five miles into this twenty-seven mile race. I added some air in hopes of it sealing, but the gash was too big. I ended up having to put a tube in it. I knew my race was over as far as any sort of good result was concerned, but I still wanted to ride. When I rode through the start/finish I just kept going into the second half of the trail. I wasn’t really riding my full race pace, but I was still going at a good whip. Anyway, it wouldn’t be a “proper” racing experience if I didn’t go flying off my bike at least once, so I made sure to take at least one bad line and go over my bars on a lovely section called the “evil worm.” I laid there for a few minutes till I came back to my senses and then soft pedaled the last few miles trying not to kill myself again.

The funny thing about all this is that even though my results don’t reflect it in these past three races, and neither does my body for that matter, my technical skills have improved so much. It’s been a huge focus of mine and I’ve ridden so many more sections that I had to dismount from my bike in the past. These trails are far from easy, and regardless of the terrain, hard or easy, crashes happen. Sometimes you go long periods of time without one, and sometimes they just seem to happen one after another. Well, that’s where I’m at right now…battered and bruised, and there’s been a whole lot of character building going on in the Uranga house hold! Through it all, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off, Carlos has cleaned up my wounds, and we’ve thanked God once again for another healthy day.

One more week till our next adventure…Abilene here we come!

 

 

 

 

What a start to the year…

I’ve been a little quiet around here since December when I completed my Countdown to Christmas. There’s really been no particular reason other than being super focused on training and prepping for the race season. Change is in the air and I’ve been a busy little bee. I have been more than thrilled to be riding not one, but two of the most amazing bikes in the industry this year!

My new road bike is the Giant Propel Advanced SL 1, and this thing is sick!!! I train on my road bike a lot and every now and then I’ll jump into the occasional crit, but I think this year it might be a lot more than occasional! I would have a guilty conscience if I didn’t race her, so I definitely need to add a few crits to my calendar!

For cross-country, I’m riding Giant’s Lust Advanced 0, and WOW!!! Back in October last year I had the opportunity to demo this bike at OCNP. I was seriously blown away by the performance! A few years back I was riding and racing a full suspension 26er that I really loved. Carlos had already been on a 29er for a year at that point and he wanted me to give it a shot too. Between seasons I was getting my rear shock serviced and so I decided to try out the big wheels. I really liked it because the larger wheel made up for my beginner skill level and I could monster truck my way through things. As I’ve improved as a rider and racer, AND was looking into a new bike, because who doesn’t want a new bike?!? I stumbled into this Giant demo. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the mid size, 27.5 inch wheel, and I was very pleasantly surprised! It was like I had all the sweet features of my 26 going through the trees and the quick acceleration I remembered, yet I had better control and I was able to really pop my wheel over obstacles like rocks and roots. I am excited that this is my very first women’s specific mountain bike. I knew the size would be a perfect fit for me, since I have very long legs and a short torso. It comes equipped with my favorite SRAM 1×11 drivetrain which I switched out the chainring from a 30t to a 32t, and I might play around with a 34t here and there. A super cool feature on this bike that would be awesome for Enduro racing, or off-season riding is the dropper seat post. To save some weight I switched it out for my Thompson Masterpiece, but I can’t wait to play with it on a trip to the mountains later in the year! The tight wheel base along with my Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo’s hook up like a dream through the trees and even in the loose gravelly terrain of Austin’s hill country.

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As February rolled around, and I had only had a handful of rides on my new beauty, I found myself at Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville for the opening race weekend of the TMBRA State Championship Series. We’ve had an unusually wet winter here in Texas, so there really wasn’t much mountain biking going on. I battled with sickness for the months of October and November, then after a trip back home to El Paso during the Christmas holidays, I returned with the flu. Any cyclist who’s had the flu knows that the recovery period after is anything but an ideal time to prepare for racing. In the last year we have been fortunate enough to work with two coaches. They were both great learning experiences and it helped us a little more in figuring out what we like, and what we don’t like. In addition to our extensive fitness background, last year Carlos decided to get certified himself through USA Cycling as a coach. Who better than the person right next to me who knows me better than I know myself sometimes, knows what I can and can’t do, how much I can handle, how much stress I may be dealing with, or even how well I slept that night, to be my coach?!? He stepped up to the plate even more so than in previous years, laid out my training plan, and started analyzing my data. Coming back from illness he brought me back up to speed way better than I would have ever done myself, or even previous coaches at that. So with a shorter block of high intensity workouts than originally planned, a bike that I knew was awesome yet I still didn’t have many hours on, and it being the first race of the year, I had no idea what was going to unravel out of it all.

I lined up with TEN girls at the start, (that’s big for a Texas Pro field) and I was all in! That course is super fun and a great test of fitness in my opinion. It’s literally on the gas the entire time. We got to race four laps of the shorter UCI style course which was about 4.4 miles and 550 ft of climbing per lap. Coming off the start line I was fourth, passed a rider on the first climb which left Christina leading and Jessica close behind. There were a few new features to the start loop this year with a series of BMX style jumps that I had to really focus on so I wouldn’t catch too much air. And then there was a little extra punchy climb leading into a descent to finish it off. Going into that climb I was able crank it up a bit and I was now in second. Christina had already formed a small gap on me and I could see her up ahead or even through the trees in different sections of the trail.

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The gap stayed between first place and myself, and I was able to hold my position in second. I had a solid race, rode really well, my bike was absolutely perfect, and my fitness was better than I thought it was going to be! So it was a great surprise and also a really great way to start the season!

After Rocky Hill, my focus continued onto the next race, The Mellow Johnny’s Classic, which was an ‘A’ race on my calendar. The trail is on private land and so it’s not commonly open to the public. Fortunately there were a couple of pre-ride dates a few weeks out from the race, so we were able to get a fair amount of time out there. By race day, I had the trail completely dialed in. I knew every turn, every obstacle, every line I was going to take. I was well rested, my nutrition was on point, I was focused and mentally ready, but I can’t quite say I was mentally ready for the way it all actually played out…

There are lots of awesome changes going on in the world of mountain biking right now. Scott Tedro of Sho-Air has put all his focus into growing the sport of mountain biking and has brought so much momentum into the racing world, with equal payouts for the men and women, huge dollar amounts added to the pot, and creating a US Cup series of four top-notch races for North American riders to collect UCI Points. I was also SO EXCITED that for the very first time my family back at home was going to finally get to see me race via live stream on YouTube!

I had a second row call up to the starting line. As usual, the front row was filled with World Champs, National Champs, and Olympic medalists. As humbling as the whole experience can be, I couldn’t ask for a more accomplished group of women to put myself up against and show me where I’m really at. So, the countdown began, the whistle blew, and we were off. There was a slippery ‘S’ turn immediately off of the start. I went through it clean, had moved up a few spots, and was focused straight ahead on the climb that was to come. Then my world got flipped upside down when a rider on my right hand side from Mexico, clipped her bars with mine. It all happened so fast that I don’t even know who did what. All I know is I was focused on what was ahead and there was no saving myself from going down. I had no idea how badly I was injured. Laura, the girl who went down with me was able to continue riding, so I was assuming her and her bike were okay. The first thing that I looked at was my bike, to make sure nothing was broken. The cable for my remote lock out had been ripped off and my bars were twisted way too far to keep riding. I was standing there alone trying for dear life to pull my bars back into place, but they just wouldn’t budge.

It’s amazing how things happen. About 99.9% of my rides and races I carry a multi-tool with me, and that day just happened to fall into that 0.1%. The plan was for me to use Carlos’ tool since it is smaller than mine. On my way to the starting line, I realized I forgot to get it from him. I told myself, “You do not need a tool. If you need a tool your race is over anyway.” Boy was I right on the money with that! Had I actually carried a tool that day, I know myself, and I would have totally straightened my bars, taken the cable off completely, and continued riding. I truly feel like it was a blessing in disguise, because my elbow was shredded up and bleeding really bad. The course is so technical that you must have 100% focus to ride it, and especially to race it.

So I sat at the medical tent with them pouring water over my wounds, knowing they were about to send me off to get stitches, and I couldn’t keep from having flash backs to this exact race two years ago. That was the first year I raced in the Pro field and was on day two of racing. My front wheel went straight into a rock on a descent, and I went flying, only to land on the same elbow.

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I was awestruck and angry all at the same time. I couldn’t even put my emotions into words. I was SO SAD that my family didn’t get to see me. I literally made it sixteen seconds into my race before the crash, SIXTEEN! I was going 19.8 mph when I hit the ground. This wasn’t what I had mentally prepared for, this wasn’t it at all. I think my sadness even overcame any physical pain I was in.

Poor Carlos had no idea how to handle everything either. Whenever he knows that something is hurting me, physically or mentally, he tries to quickly take care of it to make me feel better. He’s the whole reason I used to ride and race with full-blown downhill knee pads! That was the only option he gave me after being so banged up all the time, otherwise he threatened to sell our bikes all together! LOL! Naturally, his first response to me was, “This isn’t worth it! Nothing is worth seeing you hurt like this!” The drive to the Urgent Care place was quiet. I was trying to make sense of it all. The only conclusion I could come to was that God MUST take me for one tough cookie!!! That’s no joke there, because I KNOW He will never give me anything I can’t handle, and this felt like I was right on the edge of what I could handle. I am so thankful that I’m not severely injured. My elbow was so bad that they actually couldn’t stitch it, so they used butterflies instead. I didn’t think I had hit my head, but after seeing the crack in my helmet, I realized apparently I had. My neck is really sore, and I’ve got road rash throughout the entire left side of my body. But ultimately, I am even more thankful for my Faith, my husband, my family, and all of my friends, because those are the things that have helped me be positive. Gods plan is so much greater than mine, that this is nearly a bump in the road, to something even better than I could have ever wanted for myself! In no way would I ever wish this to happen, or be injured, but is this worth it???20140304-161702.jpg

Absolutely!!! This is living! This is the Carlos and Lisa story! This is what we’re all about…Overcoming. Living each day to its fullest. Doing what we love. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.

But today, I choose to live. I choose to be happy!

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Last But Not Least…

Man, we’ve had some killer weather this week! We’re only SIX DAYS until Christmas and it’s almost 70 degrees! What?!? That’s TEXAS for ya! It’s so awesome to live in a place where you can ride your bikes all year long. I’ve never lived up in the north where the temperatures are truly freezing and precipitation makes cycling a challenge, and sometimes impossible, in these winter months. So I sure do know I’m a spoiled Texas girl! For the exception of the big Icemaggedon a few weeks ago, it’s pretty funny when we whine and complain about 40 and 50 degree weather being “cold.” I would say the only thing that we can maybe justify crying about, is how long it takes sometimes for our mountain bike trails to dry out before we can ride them. I’m sure this sounds crazy and weird for those who do not live around here to have someone say they have to WAIT for a trail to dry before riding it, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles in these parts. Riding in the mud not only damages the trails and our bikes, but because of the claylike soils in many of the trails, it’s not even doable if we wanted to. As one of our friends described it after he got stuck in the pouring rain mid ride, it was like riding through peanut butter…and I promise he wasn’t talking about the creamy kind!

As the weeks have gone by and the trails closed, my mountain bike was beginning to get cold and lonely sitting in the garage. Then it dawned on me, this is the perfect time of year to get an over haul before the up coming season! With everything closed I know I’m not missing out on the opportunity to ride in the dirt, and my bike will be MUCH happier when it’s all said and done. So last week Carlos and I dropped off our bikes at Plano Cycling and Fitness, and this leads me to a little story…

Three years ago Carlos had his eye on a beautiful carbon full-suspension twenty niner. For months and months he would stare at this bike on the computer screen day after day until I couldn’t take his puppy dog eyes anymore! So the day came when I finally said FINE! If you can sell your bike, then we can get you that one. And you better believe, where there is a will there is a way! Now that he had the okay from the wifey, he sold his bike in no time…now to go bicycle shopping! There weren’t many of these bikes stocked in town and one of the only places that had one was Plano Cycling and Fitness. This shop is not around the corner from us, and at the time, even though we were still VERY new to cycling, we knew that having a relationship with the shop you buy your bike at is VERY important. This was going to be a big purchase for us, and we didn’t know what to expect out of this shop having never been there. Before driving out, Carlos had looked up reviews and read nothing but good things. Some might even think we’re crazy when I tell you this, but we even prayed about it on our drive over there. We had agreed to see what kind of vibe we got when we walked in and after talking to a few people, before we made our decision. Well, since day one of stepping foot through the doors at PC&F, we have been blown away. You’re ALWAYS greeted with a welcoming smile, and their customer service has consistently been above and beyond. So much so, that at one point after purchasing Carlos’ new bike, because OF COURSE we did, he found a crack in the frame. When we took it to the shop on that Monday, they immediately took pictures, sent them off, and believe it or not, he had a brand new frame built and ready to race on THURSDAY! They are so much more than just a store that sells bicycles. This is why we support them as they have supported us so much that I don’t think I could ever even repay them for! It’s nice to walk in on any given day, and chit chat with the owner, Rick Gurney. I say this because it is those who have a passion for what they do that I want to surround myself with. Not many owners of any type of store are to be seen on the sales floor, and THAT’S PASSION! His staff is like family to us and there is always a familiar face when you walk in. We laugh and joke that our weekly visit is mandatory so we can pick up our mail.

So if you’re still looking for that perfect gift for your hard to please cycling family and friends, there’s no way to go wrong with a Plano Gift Card! This gives them the luxury of picking something that you probably have no idea they even want, and a guaranteed great overall experience! One last thing!!! Since Christmas is less than a week away, Plano Cycling and Fitness wants to hook you up! We’ve worked together to extend two very generous specials for you. All you have to do is mention “TeamUranga” to receive $50 OFF of a Body Geometry Bike Fit, which retails for $250! If you’ve never been professionally fit with a flexibility assessment, and video footage including a front and side view, as well as before and after, it can be the make it or break it in your riding. A proper bike fit will help you ride faster, longer, and with greater comfort, all while reducing the chance for injury. All of these benefits most definitely outweighs the $200 investment into doing something you absolutely love!

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The second special is what got this whole blog post started in the first place…over-haul!!! Just say, “TeamUranga” and receive a 25% discount off ANY service package! And the best part is these two great offers are valid until the end of FEBRUARY!!! So hopefully you got in a ride today, and if not, you may still have a chance to hit the dirt tomorrow morning before the rain and thunderstorms hit. Drop your bike off at the shop for a little TLC while the trails are sadly closed again and she’ll feel like new on your next ride in hero dirt! Take care of the bike that takes care of you! And by the way, you can give ALL your bicycles some love for Christmas with this awesome discount!

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Well, this is the end of our Countdown to Christmas. I hope if nothing else, we’ve kept you entertained, given you a few shopping ideas, and maybe even a few tips! Enjoy your Elete electrolytes while riding your newly fitted and smooth shifting bike on your SportCrafters rollers, super setting some intervals with power step-ups on your Roman Strength plyo-box, recovering with a little foam rolling, a Podium Cold ice “bath,” and then adjustment and massage with Dr. Amy Lewis…ah, the life of a cyclist! We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!

❤️
The Urangas

The Power of Christmas…Secret Number Five!

Less than two weeks to go!!!!!!! Are you ready?!? When it comes to Christmas there is a lot of hustle and bustle going on right? So let’s talk about that hustle that most of us are doing in this off-season…the movements in cycling are so repetitive that there are many other muscle systems that get neglected throughout most of the year. The off-season serves for the perfect opportunity to develop a stronger core, strengthen weak, neglected muscles, as well as increasing our power on the bike. Cross-training is KEY for all three of these components. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, so learning a few basic exercises with PROPER FORM can and will reap GREAT BENEFITS.

Before cycling even existed in our lives, Carlos and I have always been hungry to learn about the most up to date methods of training, specific to the goal and the type of adaptation you want to occur. In the case of power in cycling, the off-season is a more than ideal period to add a little plyometrics into your training. Box jumps as well as power step ups are two of our favorite exercises, and combining those with strength training is a whole different secret weapon of its own! In simple terms, the explosive movements from these exercises teach your muscular and nervous systems how to react quickly with great force. In other words, power is a measure of how quickly work can be done. The unit of power is the Watt = 1 Joule/ 1 second. So in order to get your bike up that punchy climb, or for that quick acceleration needed to respond to an attack, or to drive over an obstacle, we need to produce lots of watts in a very short period of time. These are all done with quick bursts of POWER.

Secret training weapon number five is a 3-height plyobox machined by Roman Strength. As a three in one box it is perfect to give you the different height options depending on your abilities and as you progress over time. Off the bike, this is one of our favorite pieces of equipment and really, all you need to work on power. The quality craftsmanship and durability make it worth every penny, or I should say, worth every watt you gain! So if you haven’t included plyometrics into your off-season, send this link to someone who loves you…Merry Christmas!