Solavaca

The weather is starting to finally feel like spring and the temperatures couldn’t be better! Despite all the rain that has kept our trails closed, there is plenty of road to be ridden! Last weekend was the fourth race of the TMBRA State Championship Series, the Cat Claw Classic at Solavaca Ranch in Glen Rose, TX. Now does that name sound familiar?!? If you’ve read our “About Us” page then you know that happens to be the place that started it all! With all the rain that we mentioned above, the race was up in the air with a high chance of getting rained out and possibly being cancelled. Not only that, but Carlos and I got some sort of stomach bug in the middle of last week. He got it MUCH worse than I did with almost 103 degree fever, hot sweats, body aches and just all around crappiness. It was TERRIBLE! He even lost 5 lbs from his average 165 lbs weight! I was well enough to go to work the next day and when I came home he had the nerve to tell me he was going to race the local Wednesday Night Irving Crit! I told him he had lost his mind and the only reason he could say that was because he was lying on the couch not having to use an ounce of energy! LOL The second he stood up to walk around he quickly said, “You’re right. I don’t think I’m racing tonight.”  But from now on you can expect mid-week race reports because the local crit series has begun! I didn’t pre-register for Solavaca because despite the stomach bug, I also didn’t know how my elbow was going to feel since I hadn’t been on my mountain bike since my crash at Mellow Johnny’s. We went ahead and drove out there Saturday to check out the trail conditions since we are pretty familiar with the trail and know that the several creek crossings were going to make things pretty slippery.  They had about 8 inches of water in them. Considering the circumstances the trail was in tip-top shape thanks to all the work that Mack put into it. My elbow felt pretty good for most of the ride. It was only towards the end that my stitches felt like they were going to rip apart, but I knew a little bit of Aleve would help. For this one we decided not to camp since Glen Rose is practically a local race. (It’s only about 90 miles away.) We had an 8:30am start time which meant we had to wake up at around 4:30am. Compared to our normal Monday-Friday this is actually sleeping in an extra hour for us! : )

Sunday morning we got to the ranch right before the sun came up and we had plenty of time to get ready and get a good warm up in.  Carlos had told me to go ahead and let whoever wanted to lead get out in front of me and really focus on just riding my own race. I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to feel since my riding time had been drastically cut down since after the Comfort Race which was at the end of February. Despite my asthma giving me a little bit of trouble, my legs felt great! Jessica set the pace and we pretty much rode together the entire first lap. Going into the second lap I got stuck behind a few riders in one of the few technical spots on the trail and she was able to open up a gap on me.  I kept my focus on staying steady and not blowing up. Later, my chain dropped as I was climbing up out of one of the deeper creek crossings. I put my chain back on, got back on my bike, and right away knew I needed to get off again and spin my wheel because my chain was in the wrong gear. Not sure how long this all took, but it felt like FOREVER!   The trail was so much fun that morning and it was really cool to hear your tires roll as you would rail a corner.  I was really enjoying being back on my mountain bike! It was a fun steady ride and I ended up a little over two minutes behind Jessica, coming in second place.

Carlos broke the golden rule which is not to make any changes to your bike right before a race. The Specialized Demo Truck was at the ranch on Saturday and he hopped on one of their bikes and really liked the way the stem was set up on it. That night he made some changes on his own bike and said, “tomorrow’s race is a test.”  He positioned himself all the way in the back on the starting line. As I was standing behind him I even thought to myself, “why in the world is he all the way in the back?” But I knew he would have his reasons. His group had 28 total and he ended up in 16th place. He absolutely loved the way the bike handled and said to me that this race was the confidence booster that he needed. He felt great  both physically and mentally during the race.  Accomplishing both of these things in a race isn’t always easy. We have definitely realized that this is where experience shines over fitness. We both understand that it is going to just take time for us to catch up in this way to some of those that have been racing for several years.  The one thing that we really want to focus on is to have fun and learn to ride like we train! Riding and racing is supposed to be fun, and every once in a while you have to take a step back from being so serious about your training and racing and just give yourself a break. We both definitely used this race as a break for some breathing room just to see how it would all turn out to JUST HAVE FUN! There were no time-splits, no hard passes, and no added pressure! Just what we needed!

Wherever you are, we hope you are having a great week! Pictures will be posted soon!

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This Is How It Went “Down” : )

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I almost don’t even know where to start. There is so much to say and tell about this entire weekend! I’ll start with this, God is Awesome and I am thankful! The Monday after Comfort Carlos and I dropped our bikes off at Plano Cycling and Fitness so that our trusty mechanic, Dustin Barrientes, could fix a few problems we were having, and get our bikes race ready for Mellow Johnny’s. My fork had been acting up at Comfort and the bottom air chamber was losing air throughout the ride so it would have the effect of almost riding a rigid fork unless there was a hard enough impact to it. Any one that rides a bike with suspension knows that this is not a very good problem to have on a rocky and technical trail, such as Comfort. : / The funny thing is that usually when a problem like this does arise, I don’t ever assume it’s the bike, I always assume it’s the rider, in which this case that would be me! LOL So it’s always refreshing to have a reason other than my lack of skills to ride sucky. : ) Well, we picked up our bikes Wednesday and Thursday took them out for a quick spin on a mini loop at Northshore. In those 15 or so minutes my bottom air chamber lost about 20 psi so back to the bike shop we went. Dustin switched out my fork to a loaner fork and in no time I was ready for the weekend!

Friday we drove out to Flat Creek Ranch, located in Johnson City, where the Mellow Johnny’s Classic was held. Carlos hadn’t ridden his full race course yet since the weekend before he rode the UCI/Pro loop with me. So we decided to pre-ride separately and I would do two of the 3.4 mile Pro loop while he did one of the 7ish mile full loop. That worked out well so we were both done at the same time. We both felt really good about our rides. I was going more at race pace and was happy to clear the entire trail without having to dab. He also cleared everything on his lap which was awesome, especially considering everyone we had talked to about the trail said it was one of the gnarliest ever in the TMBRA series! Besides feeling good about my riding, I came across another problem with my bike! My chain wasn’t shifting properly on my cassette. I fiddled with the cables a little bit but knew this wasn’t something for the not so mechanically inclined to try to fix. So I swung by the SRAM tent and the guys investigated the problem and finally changed my shifter cable. This definitely helped and made my bike a bit more rideable, but I knew this wasn’t the final solution. Either way they got me rolling again so I was extremely thankful for that!

We stayed at our good friend Josh’s place which is only a few miles from the Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in Austin where the kick off party was at. The party started around 7pm with interviews from some of the world’s and nation’s top Mountain Bikers. I was a little bummed for getting there late and missing all the action. So we headed back to his place, cleaned up, and got a good night’s sleep before my big race in the morning. We woke up pretty early because we really wanted to enjoy the WHOLE day and not be rushing (like I normally am) to get ready. We got to the ranch at about 9am. I think the drive over there was the most nervous that I was throughout the course of the weekend. My breakfast didn’t want to settle because I had so many butterflies in my stomach. I think Carlos noticed the ghostly look on my face so we started discussing race strategy and my goals for this race. One of the main goals we had was for me to not ride over my head. This is NOT the trail that you want to try to ride above your skill level because of how rocky and technical it is. The penalty for failure is pretty big, and besides that usually nothing good comes out of it. I really wanted to have fun and treat this race like any other race. This was also the advice Georgia Gould had given me earlier in the week. I am a pro and I deserve to be out there. I needed to just ride my own race. It’s pretty cool when the national champ gives you the same advice as your husband! ; )

As I changed and got my bottles and nutrition together Carlos got my bike dialed up. We prayed and then headed out to warm up. It was the coolest thing ever to be riding up and down the country road next to my husband and best friend while women like Emily Batty, Lea Davidson, and Heather Irmiger ride by us. These are women that I recognize in a flash from watching them in World Cup Races on the internet, and here we were warming up for the same race! : ) About 15 till noon the announcers started doing call ups to the starting line according to your rank. I was pleasantly surprised NOT to be dead last on the call up since I felt like I was the newest face there. I was so calm it was almost surreal. There wasn’t anything that could keep me from smiling and I was enjoying every minute of it! When the gun finally went off I had a good clip on and I tried to get as close to the front as I could. The jeep road quickly turned into a cloud of dust and we were elbow to elbow fighting for position. Going from jeep road into single track we quickly got bottle necked and whatever position you were in is where you would stay until the trail opened up again. I got passed by Christina Smith and rode behind her shortly. After the first long climb I made a move and passed her. The trail started descending with a few sweeping turns that are covered with loose gravel. I was extra cautious here and before I knew it Christina slid out on a turn right behind me. I kept riding and stayed focused on my goals. I caught two other women, one which was having some trouble with the rocks and it forced me to un-clip a few times. I made a quick pass and had the trail all to myself. I cleared every obstacle just like my pre-ride and I felt great! I ended up 18th out of 24, with only 22 finishing. I was greeted at the finish line by my AMAZING and supportive husband and coach along with so many wonderful friends who cheered for me throughout EVERY corner and climb of the trail!!! In my eyes, I won! Two years ago I raced The Mellow Johnny’s Classic as a Cat 3 and it was my second race ever. This weekend was my first, and definitely not my last Pro Mountain Bike Race…this is only the beginning!

I had pre-registered for the TMBRA Race on Sunday also. The distance on this race was going to be 22 miles as opposed to the 15 miles from Saturday’s race. I knew my legs were probably going to be tired from my efforts the day before but we figured I would use this race as training. My goal was again, to not ride over my head, and to pace myself since the distance was going to be longer. I hadn’t yet ridden the entire loop so I knew I needed to be careful especially on my first lap. Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) and Kelli Emmett (Giant Factory Team) stayed the extra day and raced with us on Sunday. The start was pretty fast and I decided to stay back and follow my plan. I did surprisingly well on my first lap without really knowing the whole trail. On my second lap someone called out a time split to me that I was twenty seconds back from third place. I was happy with that and knew I needed to just keep riding my race. There was a pretty sketchy decent with small drop off some rocks that I was headed towards and I was determined to correct the mistake I had made in previous laps and finally take the inside, smoother line. Well, the line had apparently changed from my first lap to the second. This time around a pretty large rock had shifted forward about six or seven inches and it was just enough for my wheel to hit the base of the rock and launch me over my bars with my bike flying over me and I landed straight on my elbow. As soon as I stood up blood was gushing everywhere and I knew it wasn’t good. I moved my bike out of the way of other riders and waited for the pain to go away. I started to get dizzy so I sat behind a tree with my arm elevated. Carlos’ group had taken off behind us and so I knew he would be riding by me any minute. I didn’t want him to stop his race so I had decided I wouldn’t say anything when he passed. As he dodged the rock and made the next turn he saw a bike in the corner of his eye and asked if I was ok, not knowing it was me. Dang it! I was forced to respond so I said, “I’m not sure. Keep riding!” He slammed on his brakes when he recognized my voice and asked me what happened. I told him I went over my bars and showed him my arm. Without a doubt in his mind he sacrificed his race and helped me out of the trail. I’m telling you, I’m the luckiest girl in the world! They sent the EMT’s up the hill to get me and they cleaned me up. They said I needed to get stitches within the next six hours because of how deep the wound was. So we drove back into town and got six stitches.

Funny right? How things can change in the blink of an eye, or we can say, the move of a rock! And this is why we must live EVERYDAY to its fullest! I am truly thankful for all the blessings of the weekend and also for my crash not being worse than it was. Stitches come out in eight more days, so I should be ready for the next race in twelve!