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

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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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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!

Let’s Get Realigned For Christmas!

I just love the off-season! For us that means building our aerobic base and working on our technical skills. You know, jump out of your comfort zone and work on those challenging sections of trail that you tend to skip because you know you can hammer it a lot harder taking the bypass. With no time limits and a flexible race schedule of a few marathons here and there, we’ve designated most weekends this past month to camping, chilling, and some technical riding. Our trail of choice for two of the weekends has been Reveille Peak Ranch. At the beginning of last month when we went out there for the first time, the trail kind of claimed us a little bit. I wrote about the carnage a few posts back and since then we have been eager to hit it again and redeem ourselves. This last weekend was the perfect opportunity to head out with friends, twiddle our thumbs in the rocks, and take in the amazing views!

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Well, perhaps over the weekend we did one too many wheelies and a TON of laps trying to master the pump track, and here Carlos and I were Tuesday morning with sore bodies, and now he’s got a major tweaked back. Too much demand on the body and not enough body maintenance…I think we both need to go back and read my own post on foam rolling and stretching! :-/

This all leads me to super secret training weapon number four of the countdown to Christmas, our very favorite total body fixer upper, Amy Lewis, D.C., and her awesome massage therapist, Danielle! Amy is a sports medicine chiropractor specializing in the treatment and prevention of athletic injures, which by the way, does wonders for performance! Through her own background of competitive sports, along with her experience working with athletes of all levels, Amy is the whole package! She is certified as a Graston provider as well as in Kenisio taping method. Amy and Danielle are really our go to team that keep us rolling, especially when we mistreat our bodies on the trail like this past weekend. I have personally had problems with my lower back ever since I was a little girl. It has been a problem for as long as I can remember. It is crucial for me to stay flexible and keep my core strong. Therefore, foam rolling and stretching is a huge part of my life, but there are still hard to reach places like your mid and upper back, and neck, along with massage therapy techniques that are more effective than simply foam rolling. Working with a knowledgable massage therapist does wonders for sore and overused muscles.

My wish for you is to inspire others to live healthier lives so that those around you can enjoy all that they are able…pain free! So why not give the gift of health to those who we care about the most, and hey, why not give a little gift to ourselves as well?!? In the spirit of Christmas and in hopes to dodge the hustle and bustle of the holidays around us, we would like to make gift giving a little bit easier. I have worked out a killer deal with Amy for a limited time only, to purchase an hour massage gift card for $50 OR to make this deal even sweeter, you can score an hour massage for ONLY $35 with the purchase of three or more!!! I’ve already got my gift cards purchased and I know my friends won’t be anything less than joyful this Christmas Season!

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Electrolytes? Why, Yes Please!

It’s cold outside and winter base training has begun. Some are still amidst their CX season, and those of us without cross bikes who seem to be less on the wild side and not so eager to ride in the cold mud are probably hitting the trainer, rollers, or even spin class. Regardless of your choice for self-inflicted pain, there is an aspect of your training and riding that is not nearly emphasized enough through this time of year…hydration. Many times we don’t drink as much water because we don’t get the same sensations for thirst as we do during our typical Texas summer. Sometimes we don’t WANT to drink too much because it’s too inconvenient to peel off all those layers when nature calls. One thing we cannot deny is that although we don’t always realize it, our bodies still sweat, even when it’s 30 something degrees out. And really, our bodies are working pretty hard to keep us warm. When it’s cold outside the air tends to be much drier, which can also lead to dehydration.

With under four weeks to go till Christmas I would like to introduce secret training weapon number three…elete electrolyte add-in! But first, let’s talk a little bit about these wonderful and yet very misunderstood things called electrolytes. So what are electrolytes anyway?

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“Electrolytes are certain minerals (i.e., calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium ions) essential to human health. As an essential mineral, an electrolyte cannot be substituted by any other nutrient in the diet. That means that your body will only accept that particular mineral or electrolyte.
Without electrolytes, you could not move, think, or live. Within the body, electrolytes are dissolved in body fluids. In terms of hydration, electrolytes are responsible for directing water (and nutrients) to the areas of the body where its needed most and maintaining optimal fluid balance inside the cells. Besides maintaining fluid balance, electrolytes help your muscles to contract and relax and assist in the transmission of nerve impulses from your nervous system to different body parts.”

“Studies show that repletion of one important electrolyte—magnesium—has a significant impact on athletic performance. Moderately trained athletes who took magnesium supplements showed decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen intake. Triathletes supplementing with extra magnesium demonstrated improved cycling, swimming, and running times.
Population studies consistently show that most adults do not get enough magnesium in their diet.”

Three and a half years ago Carlos and I set out to race the Northshore 100 MTB race put on by The Spinistry. It was a 100 mile race in the middle of August when temperatures were easily in the 100’s. We opted to race this as a co-ed team and honestly and truly, we had no idea what the heck we were getting ourselves into. I’ll spare you the details and the super long story of the race and the fact that EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong did…lots of lessons learned that day! In the months leading up to this race we would train in the middle of the day, and as the parking lot was always empty for the exception of our truck, we seemed to be the only crazies willing to ride in the treacherous heat. Around this time is when we discovered elete. Someone happened to post on our local DORBA forum about this stuff and how awesome it was for cramps. So we did some research and even found that many of our troops who were overseas were using elete, and the cases of muscle cramping and fatigue decreased significantly. We ordered a bottle and since then have been true believers of using a balanced electrolyte formula for endurance training and elete has been our top choice. What separates elete from the common sugar-loaded sports drinks is that it doesn’t contain calories, so you can choose where you want your calories to come from and what works with your body. It also doesn’t contain flavorings, sweeteners, colors or sugar. You can use it in a hydration pack and don’t have to clean it out any differently than if you had just water. It leaves no residue. We add elete to all of our water year round.

“Elete instantly delivers important electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride to your body. elete CitriLyte Add-In contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride, plus zinc and citric acid, which participate in the Krebs energy cycle for energy conversion.”

Most of the typical electrolyte formulas on the market provide only minimal doses of electrolytes and some even leave out some of the most essential minerals like magnesium and chloride which are both crucial for enabling normal muscle relaxation and contraction, amongst many other benefits that they provide. Magnesium intake also decreases inflammation. That is big news right there! Foods high in magnesium include: dark, leafy greens such as chard, beet greens and kale, Brazil nuts, squash, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, kidney, pinto and green beans, avocados, Quinoa, millet, whole grain brown rice, bananas, dark chocolate, peanut butter, sweet corn and dried fruits such as raisins, dates and apricots.

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Rarely do we struggle with cramping anymore, and if we do it is generally our own fault and could have totally been prevented. Sometimes it’s hard to get in the amount of water our bodies really need to perform and be competitive. If you were to take a look at any top athlete in any given sport, I would put money on the fact that they’ve all developed good habits and through the years they have learned to be consistent with these habits. Consistency is the key to any area of life that we want to excel at from your family, your job, your passions, and your health. So consistently drinking water to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance is a habit that we are continuously working to improve on.

If you want to learn more about the single electrolytes in elete, and what science has to say about their role in health you can click here. Elete makes a great gift and even better stocking stuffer for any athlete, friend or family member who is active, or works outside. This is the perfect weekend to swing by Plano Cycling and Fitness to pick some up, as they’re one of the few local places you can find it. While you’re there, take advantage of their Three Day Black Friday sale!

And don’t forget your pocket flask when attending all those wonderful holiday parties…add a couple of drops to your favorite adult beverage! 😉