Secret Weapon Number Two on the Countdown to Christmas!

For nearly seven years Carlos and I have been Master Trainers at 24 Hour Fitness. We both have such a passion for health and fitness that really I can’t see any other way to live our lives. I have learned so much in these years, having trained over seven thousand sessions, from nutrition, to proper goal setting, exercise techniques, periodization in cardiovascular and strength training, and most especially flexibility. All of these things are the keys to life, longevity, AND successful cycling. When I say “successful” cycling I’m not talking JUST competitive cycling. I mean riding your bike for what it is intended for, to have fun! I would say THAT in itself, constitutes success in cycling! Unfortunately, it can quickly turn into no fun when we start getting aches and pains on OR off the bike. Even worse is when our aches and pains get so bad that it keeps us from riding our bikes at all.

So for week five of my Countdown to Christmas, I would like to introduce to you Podium Cold and Podium Cold Foam Rollers. Podium Cold is an extremely practical method to reduce inflammation after a hard ride by icing your legs with these awesome leg sleeves. No more messing with ice bags and wasting a ton of water for an ice bath. Podium Cold was introduced to me earlier this year by a fellow racer, and I must say, I was pretty excited when I got my own pair. When you first put these guys on, it really takes your breath away! REALLY. It’s helpful to have distractions, like watching The Big Bang Theory, or maybe a rerun of one of the XC MTB World Cups on Red Bull TV, then you’ll forget what’s even going on with your lower extremities. ūüôā

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Aside from icing your legs to reduce inflammation, I would really say that the Podium Cold foam rollers are the KEY to successful cycling. I am a HUGE believer of self myofascial release, which is just a fancy word for massage. So here’s a little bit of simple science…if one muscle is tight and “shortened,” then the muscles directly across, or opposite, is going to be weak. An easy visual example is your bicep and tricep. You cannot contract both at the same time. Therefore, these muscles are opposites. So if you were to have a shortened bicep muscle due to overuse, or keeping a constant bend in your arms, like on a computer typing, or riding a bicycle for long durations, then over time your tricep will get weaker and your range of motion will become limited because of the lack of flexibility that you have developed. This leaves us prone to injury especially in other areas like the connecting joint, our shoulder. Very commonly people who tear their rotator cuff also have a tear in their bicep muscle where it attaches in the shoulder, and usually it all happens with some sort of everyday movement like reaching to pick something up in the back seat of your car.

All this was to give you an example of what can happen when we start to form muscle imbalances and do not address them. When we sit down, whether it’s in a chair at work, in the car, on the couch, or on the saddle, sitting puts our hip flexors into just that, FLEXION. If we stop to think about how much time in a day these muscles are in a state of flexion, why in the world would they be capable of going into full extension? Unless we were to make a constant effort to inhibit (foam roll or massage) and lengthen (stretch) the tight muscles. Then, to correct the imbalance, we must activate and strengthen the opposing muscles, which in this case would be our glutes, otherwise known as your behind. So long story short, our daily lives, along with being an active cyclist causes tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors causes our hips to shift anteriorly, so if you think you are standing up straight and your butt is sticking out (this is an anterior tilt), and you have a huge arch in your back, you actually just have REALLY tight hip flexors, and most likely lower back pain to accompany it. This leads to weak glutes, among other things such as your abs and lower pelvic muscles, which we need all of these things to be strong and stable on the bike.

So here’s what you do…order a foam roller NOW for any and all of your cycling buddies and family who doesn’t already have one. Make them read this blog so they understand why they need to use it, and hopefully it will help them to ride pain free and better yet, faster and stronger! Taking care of our bodies is so important so that it will take care of you. We all need to designate time, whether it’s right before/after riding, or on your rest days to pamper our muscles that we tend to abuse day in and day out. If you are a racer, just remember, if you are capable of activating and utilizing more muscles than your opponent, then this will give you an edge and allow you to pedal longer and harder.

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Whether you are a racer, non-racer, or just all around passionate cyclist, be pro-active and take care of your body. Don’t wait till something hurts, or a muscle finally gives out and pops. We’re not all Professionals who get pampered day in and day out with a sports massage. For a discount on any of these products, send me a message on Facebook or to our email at Teamuranga@gmail.com and I’ll give you a coupon code to use at checkout. So this Christmas give the gift of flexibility and longevity with Podium Cold!

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Canyon Fever

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Last Thursday Carlos and I set out on our journey to the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon for the kickoff of the 2014 Hill Country Bicycle Works Mountain Bike Marathon Championship Series. If you’ve never been out to this gorgeous canyon in the middle of the Texas panhandle, it is absolutely worth the trek! So much so that we made a four day weekend out of it! Since we got an early start on the road, we arrived at our campsite around 2:30 in the afternoon.

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We set up camp and headed out for a ride. The trail was marked perfectly and the views were just as breathtaking as we remembered. When we got back from our ride, we were excited to see our friends and teammates Steve and Sonya all set up at the site next to ours! Ah, let the weekend of friends, fun, riding, and racing begin!

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The evening was COLD so we ate some delicious homemade chicken soup to keep ourselves warm.

Friday morning we went out for another lap of the canyon and sectioned a few spots of the trail. The rest of the day we prepped our bikes for the following morning and kicked our feet up in good company.

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I’m going to back track a little bit to the past month. Almost exactly a month ago was the last race of the cross country season in Tyler. There wasn’t a particular reason I didn’t blog about the race other than I just got lazy, busy, and SICK! The weekend of the Tyler race, the heavens opened up on us while we were camping, the day before the race. It was a huge storm that struck down trees and we even got hailed on! It was pretty bad. The rain came down so hard that our canopy started to cave in on us and all of our stuff was under it, including our bikes! The bad thing was that the canopy was right next to a tree and it was lighting like crazy, so we didn’t want to stay there to hold up the fort. We took cover in the truck and every few minutes Carlos would run out and make sure the canopy didn’t completely cave in. Poor guy got so soaked and next thing we knew he came down with a cold a few days later. Boo.

I thought I was home free when the first few days of his cold I felt fine…and then it hit me! Next thing I knew it was all in my chest and there was no riding going on in the Uranga household. I was having all sorts of trouble breathing and after a few weeks went by I finally just bit the bullet and made an appointment with my asthma doctor. It turned out that I had some major inflammation in my airways. He put me on a round of antibiotics, which dramatically decreased the inflammation, but I was still having this strange tightness in my throat which makes me feel like I can’t breathe, plus I was constantly having these dull headaches. I’m now on another round of antibiotics for a sinus infection. I nearly cried when my doctor said I couldn’t race the marathon. I decided to wait out the decision making till Saturday to reevaluate how I was feeling.

After riding Thursday and Friday, I was feeling really good. My congestion was gone, breathing was much better, and no more headache, so I made the call to register for the race with the support of my husband and my coach. I was given the green light to race as long as I PROMISED to pull the plug if I wasn’t feeling well. Sweet!

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A little more back tracking to the weekend before the marathon, and here we were camping again, but this time at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, TX….another MUST for any mountain biker!

As Carlos and I were out exploring this beauty, he was caught a little off guard by a rocky drop off, and next thing he knew he was over his bars and landed solid on his hip and thigh! It looked bad and my heart dropped! There was no soft dirt for him to land on and rock is not very forgiving. Thank God he’s got some meat on his bones and he was okay, just very very sore. After our ride we were cleaning our bikes for the next days ride when we came across a crack on my carbon front wheel. Uh! It just wasn’t in the cards for us to ride. With all the signs that were right in front of us we took the weekend for what it was, a weekend all to ourselves to cuddle by the fire and just RELAX!!! Amazing how we need so much to happen in order to rest our bodies.

Okay, fast forward to Palo Duro and Thursday’s pre-ride…Carlos had a little tuck and roll action on a slippery decent. Of course it was Murphy’s Law, and you better betcha, that the rolling action was on the same side that he went down on the weekend before! Ouch. So here he is sore leg, sore hip, and sore shoulder.

Come race day, the morning was perfect and I woke up to the most AMAZING rainbow I’ve ever seen in my life! It started out small and next thing we knew it turned into a full blown double rainbow! We couldn’t even fit it in the screen of our phone to get it all in the shot!

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The Minnerly’s drove me over to the starting area so I could register and pick up my number plate. I was feeling really good and my game plan was to LISTEN TO MY BODY since my health and riding have been little to nothing in the past four weeks. Today was not the day to try to be a hero and I wasn’t willing to risk getting myself sick again. On the other hand, Carlos woke up with some stomach pains and his breakfast was not going down very well.

The race began as a mass start. I was in the first row and Carlos was a few rows behind me. When they sounded the horn I made sure to stay up at the front, but out of the wind, which happened to be blowing around 30 mph the ENTIRE race! There was a two mile start loop which started on the road and then dropped into single track. I was the second girl going into single track behind Nina Baum (Stan’s NoTubes). The start was fast just as I expected and about five miles into the race I knew I needed to back off. I was happy to be out of the traffic behind me and stuck with my plan to tone down my pace. Somewhere back in the canyon Alison Kinsler (Nuke Sunrise Trail Bombers) came up on me and I went ahead and let her pass. I didn’t even attempt to chase her down.

About half way through my first lap Carlos had picked his way through the crowd and passed me. His pace was a little too brisk for my taste and it turns out it was a little too brisk for him too with the bumps and bruises he had accumulated in the previous weeks. As I approached the feed zone heading into my second lap I saw Carlos there swapping out his bottles. To my advantage Sonya was standing there with my bottle in her hand so I got to head out a few seconds before him. I just kept my pace and when I got to the first sandy, steep climb I I hopped off my bike to save a bit of energy. This was a bad move on my part because Carlos came up on me so fast that I couldn’t get out of his way in time. He was forced to I unclip and right away his legs started cramping. Uh! I felt so bad for being the reason he didn’t ride up the climb and it was much too soon in the race for him to be cramping. I immediately knew this was not going to be good. He told me to keep going so he could keep his legs moving. I rode off and continued my race.

Carlos struggled the rest of that lap fighting cramps. To make matters worse he had misplaced his pocket flask of Elete and so he had no relief. The combination of cramps, lack of calories, and his XC race pace (sarcasm) that morning was not ideal. He made the decision to pull the plug after that lap. As a certified cycling coach, he sometimes laughs at himself for being his own worst client when it comes to not following his game plan. So this winter his goal is to do more marathons for that simple reason, to make himself stick with his game plan!

During my first and second laps I had a terrible, throbbing, sinus headache. It got so bad through my second lap that I had almost convinced myself to pull out of the race. The last few miles when I was covered a little bit more from the wind, my headache went away, so you better believe that I kept on going! My legs were feeling surprisingly good still and my pace was still steady. The only thing putting a limp in my step was the wind. It was gnarly! At one point in the canyon I turned a corner and almost got blown off a cliff, and in an open section, I was literally blown off the trail! It was nuts climbing into a headwind. That’s not really the norm on a mountain bike. It felt more like I was on a brutal road ride.

All in all it turned out to be a pretty decent race for me, finishing in third and receiving a very healthy payout! The race was very well put together and organized.

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Nothing to complain about and so much more fun than being sick on the sidelines! Life is good.

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20131120-213322.jpgI’m excited to finally be back on my bike and enjoying this awesome weather! Now the countdown begins till it’s new bike day!!!! It should be any day now when my new wheels arrive at the shop!! Ah! Can’t wait!

Stay posted tomorrow for week five of my Countdown to Christmas…What’s Your Secret Training Weapon?!?

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Christmas Countdown…What’s Your Secret Training Weapon????

Here we are only six short weeks away from the big “C”…..CHRISTMAS!!! I know I probably say this all too often, but time sure does fly! I think most especially when you’re having fun, doing what you love, and loving what you do.

I don’t know about you guys, but if you’re any sort of athlete at all, I’m sure you’re a pretty driven person as I like to believe I am. So why is it that year after year I get caught on the week of Christmas thinking, “Oh shoot! I need to buy presents!” as if I didn’t know for the entire 364 previous days of the year, since the last Christmas, what date it was going to be on. Doh! It’s like a mean joke I play on myself every year, when I get to run around like a chicken with it’s head chopped off. Maybe it’s just the adrenaline junkie inside of me that likes to race against the clock to see if I can get it all done while the rest of the world runs around with their heads chopped off too! Ha!

Well the reality of it all, is that it REALLY just stresses me the heck out! So I’ve decided that this year I’m not going to continue this vicious cycle, and I’m going to enjoy the holiday that I truly do love. I’ll save the race against the clock for my bike. In an attempt to do this, I’ve decided to have a countdown to Christmas! Each week I will have a new blogpost to share a few of our “most secret” off-season training tools that could very possibly take place as fabulous gifts for your friends and family who also enjoy this wonderful sport of cycling! So follow us week by week to make sure you don’t miss anything!

With six weeks to go, I want to introduce our favorite piece of indoor training equipment…Sport Crafters Rollers. A little over a year ago my brothers best friend gave us his set of Sport Crafters Cadence Rollers because he just didn’t have the time to use them anymore. He knew that Carlos and I would put them to good use and knowing how much they helped him improve his cycling, he knew that we would provide the perfect home for these puppies.

If you’ve never used rollers before, they sure can be tricky! I totally thought to myself, “I’m a mountain biker! How hard could this really be?!?” Well, boy did I have to put my ego to the side and get a good hold of the wall next to me! Carlos held my bars to make sure I wouldn’t fall, and for the first time I was not eager to get rid of those “training wheels!” After a few minutes I finally had the courage to ask him to let go. At first it felt like the bike was going to slide right out under me and my heart rate was going up like I was working on my threshold! I knew this had to be so much more mind over matter so I focused on relaxing my upper body and letting the bike move underneath me…just keep turning the pedals over. A few more minutes into it and I found myself in a rhythm. I loved it! I found that riding our new rollers improved my balance on the bike significantly and was NOT boring at all! Through the winter my indoor workouts flew by so much faster than my plain old trainer workouts.

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During the remainder of the year when we do most of our general riding outside, Carlos and I used our cadence rollers inside mainly to spin our legs out on recovery days and continue balance work. The deal with the cadence rollers is that there isn’t any added resistance. So if your goal is to get your watts up pretty high it’s rather hard to do. Unfortunately, sometime last month the band that connects the front and rear drum broke. But, because they have a lifetime warranty, we sent their customer service an email. Their quick response was impressive and what was even more impressive was that they shipped out a new band the very same day…for FREE! In this process their marketing manager, Sarah Houser, informed us of their new OverDrive drum that offers a “real road resistance” feel. With the winter about to begin we knew this OverDrive drum was just what we needed, so we bit the bullet and ordered one.

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This is a game changer folks! There is zero vibration and plenty of room for hitting your top end power. Carlos and I have both done some really great workouts with our new OverDrive drum and it is awesome! It’s fun to not only challenge your body by pushing hard, but also to have to use core strength and balance to stay on these things.

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As for Christmas, I don’t know of any cyclist who wouldn’t be ecstatic to have one of these under the tree with their name on it!!! They’re a little pricey, retailing at $399, but they’re sure to please! So check out your local bike shop to get one ordered, or hit them up online at http://www.sportscrafters.com.

Stay posted next week for more “secret” off-season training tools and start your gift list now!

Fossil 50 in the Books!

About three and a half years ago when Carlos and I were new to riding, we would venture out to different trails as often as we could. There are several in about a ninety mile radius and we wanted to try them all. One of our favorites has always been Solavaca Ranch and so we figured the trails at Dinosaur Valley State Park would be similar since it’s just down the road from it. This one summer it had rained quite a bit and all the trails in the metroplex were closed. We figured, what better time than now to make the trek to Glen Rose and figure out what this Dino Valley was all about.

When we arrived at the front gate, the park ranger told us that the trails were open…we just had to cross the river to get there. Huh? So we figured it couldn’t be THAT bad. Well, we were totally wrong! In an attempt to cross the very flowy river, we took off our bike shoes, and my knee pads (because YES I did wear knee pads at the time), threw our bikes over our shoulder and started walking across. The water got higher and higher and not even half way across we were already knee-deep. The rocks we were walking on were slick and the current was strong and pulling us to the side.¬† About half way across the water was up to our hips! Next thing I knew Carlos was yelling at me, “Retreat! Retreat!” I knew it was deep, but I figured we were already this far so why quit now? Then he said, “I got hooked!” I wasn’t sure if I quite heard him right so I said, “WHAT?!? Did you say HOOKED?” He said, “Yes, there’s a fish-hook in the top of my foot!” OMG! Seriously?! So we turned around and made our way back and sure enough he had been caught! There was even a real worm dangling from it…gross! We figured it just wasn’t meant to be and so we rode Solavaca instead. So that is our Dino Valley story and sadly we never went back until last weekend to pre-ride for the Fossil 50. All I can say is it was awesome!!! That’s probably one of my new favorite trails and I’m so glad I’ve been able to ride it so much in the past two weeks!

The pre race meeting was at 7:45am and we figured we would just wake up early and save the money for a hotel room. We had everything packed and ready the night before so we could pretty much just get up and go in the morning. We woke up at 4:15 am and hit the road at 5 am. The start of the race was at 8 am. It was a le mans start where we had to run around a tree, then to our bikes, hop on,¬†then ride through the start loop. (The bottoms of my feet are still sore by the way. I’m going to have to figure out this running in carbon shoes thing before cyclocross season comes around. Ouch!) My competition is never tame here in Texas between Jessica and Christina, who were among the ten or so women signed up. All I knew was that it was a long race and it was going to be HOT, so I needed to stay focused on racing my own race.

The start was fast, which was totally expected. The beginning of endurance races like this are funny, because many times there are a good handful of people who are racing the first hour like it’s the only hour they’re going to be racing that day. So there were lots of crazy, sketchy, and uncalled passes going on. I had guys hitting my leg with their wheel from behind me as if I was the one at the front of the pain train, when really there were about six or seven of us wheel to wheel, and¬†I was smack¬†in the middle. It can be challenging to stay focused within the mayhem and next thing you know I go sliding out in a corner. No damage was done, except for the gap that I created between myself and the group that I was planning on sitting in with on the roads to Dino Valley.

As I finished my lap at the ranch and headed to the highway I could see the bunch up ahead of me. They were so close I could taste it, but I knew I was going to have to put in a big effort to catch them. I got low and started drilling it. I caught up to a guy that was between the group and I and asked if he wanted to work together, but he wasn’t very interested in burning any matches this early on. I rode solo for a bit till a guy from Cadence Cyclery caught me. I’m not sure of his name, but he was awesome to let me jump on his wheel and bridge the gap to the group. Thank you Mr. Strong Cadence Man! As soon as we began to sit in, Jessica and Art (Colonel’s) went off the front. They kept a steady gap and at one point Carlos went to the front of the group to pick up the pace. The group didn’t stay on his wheel and when he realized he was riding solo he¬†dropped to the¬†back with me for a quick recovery.¬†¬†A few minutes later¬†he told me to jump on his wheel.¬†¬†Carlos closed the gap and we caught them right as we approached the¬†feed station at Dino Valley.¬†Perfect!

We knew what we had coming at this trail and it can be a little demanding in some spots, so it definitely¬†wasn’t the place you wanted to be fatigued. We backed off the pace a bit and kept it a little more steady. About two miles into the trail, Carlos’¬†tire starts spitting Stan’s out…bummer! He¬†had a¬†flat and it was too big to seal. I stopped with him and a few minutes later he told me to go ahead. I told him¬†“No,” but about the third time around¬†he was pretty stern about me continuing on without him.¬†(sad face) So, that’s what I did.

I felt pretty good at Dino Valley and even¬†cleared some rocky technical sections that I wasn’t able to get on my pre ride the weekend before! The temperature was really starting to rise and some sections of the trail felt really hot, which made me so thankful when ever I was shaded in the trees. When I got back to the feed station before exiting the park, I stopped for a¬†minute to down a Pickle Pop¬†grab a few flasks of frozen Coke and switch out my bottles. As I hit the park road heading back to the ranch I was nice and re-energized. I had a good pace and finished up Solavaca backwards with a bang…literally. I was almost home free until the second to last turn of the entire race and boom, I slide and bang my knees to the ground. So OF COURSE I was talking to myself out loud saying things like, “Really Lisa?! REALLY?? Here? Uh! You were ALL MOST DONE!” I don’t know how far back I was from Christina and Jessica, which I don’t think was too far since I could see Jess through the trees in parts of the trail. Overall I was really happy with my performance in the heat and despite the two silly falls, I rode pretty well. I can honestly say that working with a coach has helped us a lot! Thank you Bryan Fawley!

Carlos on the other hand had a totally different experience after he flatted. Trying to get his tire to seal he used up most of his CO2, so when he put a tube in and began to inflate¬†it, there wasn’t enough air to get him rolling. Dang. So he waited till a rider came by¬†to loan him some air when Jeff (Cycle Progression) came to the rescue with a cartridge. For some reason this CO2 didn’t work and Carlos was stuck there waiting again. Eventually our teammate,¬†Aaron Anderson rode¬†by.¬†He gave him a cartridge and luckily this one worked and Carlos was able to keep riding. A few miles later as he was going down a pretty rocky descent, a friend of ours had¬†crashed and was just getting up from the ground. Carlos asked him if he was okay, and Gary said he was. The more Carlos rode the more he thought about it, and knew¬†Gary wasn’t okay. So he quickly turned around¬†to go help him.¬†He had crashed pretty badly, and¬†there was another guy there with¬†them too.¬†Carlos¬†was going¬†to¬†help them find their way out of the trail but Larry, the guy that was there, was more familiar with¬†Dino Valley¬†so he led Gary to the aid station.

About fifteen minutes later, Carlos went flat AGAIN! This is when the hike began. After a wrong turn trying to find a short cut out, and lots of hiking in the piping sun, he finally crossed the dry¬†river bottom and found his way back to the trail. A rider stopped and gave¬†him another tube and more CO2. As he was changing his tube, Boyd Wallace was walking by with a flat rear tire. Both¬†him and Boyd were out of water. So as soon as Carlos got himself rolling again he told Boyd that he would bring back some water from the feed station.¬†He made it to our cooler and grabbed water and the extra flask of frozen Coke. He didn’t have to ride to far before he ran into Boyd RIDING! Someone had¬†helped him out with a tube and some air and got him rolling again. Carlos gave him the water and flask and Boyd was good to go!

After finally leaving¬†Dino Valley on his way back to the ranch, he saw Jeff on the side of the road cramping pretty badly. Carlos was able to return a favor and gave him his magic¬†pocket flask of Elete Electrolytes, as he is no stranger to cramps himself! Jeff put a few drops under his tongue and he was able to start pedalling again. Once they were rolling, Carlos offered to pull him back to Solavaca.¬†When¬†they got back he decided his race was over. He was smart enough to realize that he himself was super dehydrated from hiking with no water in the baking sun for so long. All in all he was just¬†happy to be able to help fellow riders. He said, “I guess God didn’t want me to race today. He had different plans for me.”

What an adventure! The format, the venue, the trails, and the race overall were so so cool that I can’t wait for the next Fossil 50! Bryan Fawley did a great job with this one! You¬†DEFINITELY have to¬†put this on your calendar for next year!

Loooong Overdue…Whiskey 50!

Upon arriving in Sedona we were immediately in heaven! Every morning we would step outside our door and only one word¬†would come out, “Wow!” Seriously, every morning I would say it again. You couldn’t help but be in awe of the beauty around. The land throws out such amazing colors and rock formations that it doesn’t even¬†feel real. We had the whole week to explore, with no plans, no schedules, no rush. I can’t lie, it felt REALLY GOOD. There is something about Sedona, maybe the vortex’s around, but there is just a sense of peace there. Carlos and I really try to have this in our own home, but living in such a densely populated city, this feeling is slowly lost when you step out into the chaos. This is where mountain biking comes in to save the day!

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Tuesday we¬†rode out from our cute¬†little apartment to the other side of town in search of some sweet single track. I was in charge of the map and so of course when we were in the middle of the canyon with no civilization in sight, and on a trail that a bike didn’t seem to fit on anymore, it was all my fault! Hehe. Oops! Getting lost is part of the adventure, right?!? So, 4.5 hours and about 5,000 pictures later,¬†we had¬†a heck of a good time and finally found our way home.

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Wednesday we drove out to Prescott to pre ride the 25 mile portion of the race course. Having never been there before we were trying to figure out where we wanted to park and¬†where the trail started. We drove the four mile¬†start of the course from downtown UP to the campgrounds where the trail starts. Yes, I did type “up” in all caps on purpose, because it was ALL up, and very steep at that. The last mile was near an average grade of 18%.¬† So we found a spot to park and started climbing. The first five miles of single track are also up hill. Most of it¬†super fun until you start to really feel your legs and¬†have to pop your wheel over some pretty good size water bars (basically just really big logs lying straight across the¬†trail.) No joke, there had to have been at least fifteen of these.¬†One was¬†even after the apex of the turn on a switch back. It was tough!

Once reaching the peak we got to descend for about fifteen minutes with some super rocky sections and scary ledges that could send you flying off the cliff. It was so hard not to have a death grip!  Once the fun was over then what else was there to do then to go right back up again. Hehe This time we were climbing about two miles to the 25/50 proof split, and since we were riding the 25, the trail continued uphill for three more miles and topping out at an altitude of 7,136 ft.568 563

At this point we were just so excited to start descending again that we missed a turn somewhere and just continued down the jeep road until we finally stopped to check the map. Apparently we should have been on single track by then. So we continued down until we found a section of single track next to the road that we could jump on. By the time we got back to the car we ended up with 25 miles! Sweet!

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After our ride we knew that this race was really going to be a booger! The portion of the trail that we skipped was an additional 9.3 mile descent down Skull Valley where you make a quick u-turn at the bottom to climb straight back up, then continue the three more miles after the 25/50 split to the top. Ouch!¬†Thursday we decided to spin our legs on some trails that started right behind our building. We didn’t really find exactly what we were looking for and ended up riding very sandy dry riverbeds. It wasn’t really the type of “spin” I was¬†hoping for, but hey, it was still beautiful¬†Sedona!

Our relaxing week was coming to an end and it was¬†soon to be “GO time!” Friday we had to get an early start on the day to drive out to Prescott for the Pro pre-race meeting at noon. So we packed a cooler with lunch and snacks and hit the road. After the meeting we had quite a bit of down time before I had to start warming up for the fat tire crit. We walked around, visited a local bike shop, and just hung out around cute little downtown.

The fat tire crit was right there on Whiskey Row. The course was set up with two climbs that I knew were going to hurt!¬†The start¬†was supposed to be a neutral roll out until the first turn into the climb, but it didn’t feel like¬†that really happened. I don’t think mountain bikers are really wired for¬†“neutral” starts the way¬†roadies are. Unfortunately I got caught¬†in the back of the group and that’s never good in a crit. I was forced to brake¬†in the¬†corners and the second hill was too long to play catch up for me.¬†Everyone around me, including myself, was gasping for air and there was a lot of suffering in the four laps I got in before I got pulled with¬†several of the¬†others. Those were seriously the hardest twelve minutes of my life but so much fun all at the same time! The crowds and¬†the atmosphere were just as on fire as my lungs.¬†¬†They¬†hurt so bad for the next two days¬†that I almost thought I was even¬†getting sick!

After the crit we drove back to Sedona to start getting everything¬†prepared for Carlos’ race the next morning. He had an early start at 7:30 am¬†which meant we would have to be up by 4:15 am to be there with enough time for him to calmly get ready. We had heard that it’s best not¬†to start¬†in the back of the pack because once hitting single track it’s like hitting a road block as the trail gets bottlenecked. ¬†There were over a thousand people racing between the 50 Proof and the 25 Proof so there were people everywhere! Once Carlos was off I drove to aid station #1/#3 which is where the 25 & 50 split. The volunteers were just amazing and everyone was so helpful!

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Carlos and I had bought walkie talkies a few months back for a more reliable way to communicate with each other in the trail when we start loosing cell phone signals. We each had one while he was out on the course. Poor guy was suffering on the climb and I was talking to him (and apparently all the other guys around him too) saying, “Good job baby! You’re awesome! I love you! Don’t stop! Pedal! Pedal! Pedal! Keep going! I love you!” He said all the guys looked around like, “what the heck was that, and¬†WHERE did it come from?” Haha He didn’t say anything the FIRST time, and then when I¬†gave him another mushy shpeal he embarrassingly said, “Sorry guys…that’s my wife.”¬†LOL oops!

When he got to aid station #1, I asked him how he was doing. To my surprise he said, “Great!” So many people were hitting that aid station and seriously yelling, “Water! Water!” or “Pickle Juice!” but he quickly switched his bottles out, kissed me goodbye and he was off to descend down Skull Valley. A little after an hour he¬†called me on the radio¬†asking for Elete. He was cramping and had run out of his pocketflask.¬†I was¬†a bad pit girl¬†for leaving¬†the extra bottle¬†in the car which was a few miles from there. So I made sure to save some pickle juice for him before they ran out. Even though he was struggling with his cramps, he had such a good attitude when¬†he finally got back to the aid station. Again, he didn’t stop for more than 30 seconds and continued to the top of the twelve mile climb. Since we accidentally skipped a small portion of the trail in our pre-ride,¬†he totally thought that it was “all downhill from there,” which it was NOT!¬†After descending for about three and a half miles, there is a mile long climb called Cramp Hill. Carlos¬†said there were riders that were cramping and literally falling over still clipped in. There was one girl screaming from the top of her lungs, “NO! NO! NO! NO!” allllll the way up the climb¬†WHILE she was pedalling! He was pulled over to the side of the trail cramping, and looked over at a guy lying on the¬†ground and said, “Hey, it’s obviously working for her! She’s the only one still riding!”

After a long day in the saddle Carlos turned the corner to the finish line in downtown Prescott. As he rolled through they handed him his pint glass for completing his first Whiskey 50! I was so proud of him!!!

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We drove back to Sedona to get¬†ready for my race the next morning. Since we would start driving back home right after my race we¬†got everything ready to be loaded up.¬†We had a¬†good nights sleep, arrived early at the venue, and I¬†was excited to experience all that Carlos had the day before! The field was once again stacked, and since the elevation gain and altitude¬†was unlike any race or even trail I had ever¬†ridden, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hold the pace of all the other girls. By the time I got to the first feed zone where Carlos was I was pretty much on my own. He must have noticed how much I was already suffering because he didn’t even ask me how I was doing…it was pretty obvious. He was so¬†encouraging as he¬†switched out my bottles and kissed me goodbye.

It was so cool to descend down Skull Valley and see all the Pro Men followed by the leading Pro Women drilling it up the climb. On the way down, Sarka Ruzickova of Cannondale zoomed by me . Once I finally hit the turn around I knew the race with myself had barely begun. I steadily climbed and closed the gap Sarka had put on me. We chit chatted a bit and she was so nice, as this was one of the first times she had even been on her bike this YEAR! She had been doing lots of skiing in CO where she lives. So after our little talk, I continued on my way and put a little bit of time on her. It was getting really hot, and so lonely out there by myself! There were sections that had no air flow what so ever and it felt like I was never going to get back to the feed zone.

My frown quickly turned upside down when Carlos¬†pulled a “Lisa” on Lisa with our walkie talkies! It was a bunch of “I love you’s!” “You’re awesome!” “Don’t quit!” and “Pedal! Pedal! Pedal!” I was really starting to fade and his¬†voice was¬†just what I needed! What seemed like an eternity later, I made it to the feed zone. I was so happy to see not only Carlos, but Richard and Lisa, yelling and cheering for me! Sponsors don’t get any better than that! They didn’t even let me put a foot down. I just rolled on through as they switched out the bottles in my cage, my jersey, my nutrition, and after Carlos poured water on me, Richard followed it up with another cold pour that got me drenched! It felt soooo good!

As I was finishing up the last few miles of the climb, I felt someone creep up on me. I turned around and it was my awesome hubby riding behind me! It’s hilarious because he was speechless after having to climb his tail off to catch me since it took him a little while to gather up everything he had at the feed zone (not to mention he had climbed 7,000 ft just the day before), and I was speechless just because my glycogen tank was¬†pretty much¬†running off of fumes at that point. After he finally caught his breath he blurted out an, “I Love You.” and with no emotion I quietly said, “I Love You too.” Not too long after that I had reached my limit. I couldn’t fight it anymore and I was¬† getting really dizzy. I pulled off into the only shade I could find, which wasn’t very much, and Carlos took the bottles from my jersey to get some of the weight off my back. After¬†a few minutes of a pity party and letting my heart rate come down a little bit, we made it to the top of the climb. I was so thankful to have him there by my side! He gave me back my bottles, once again kissed me goodbye and I was on my own.

For the next three miles I got to rest my legs on the descent. This is exactly what¬†gives the next mile long climb its name, Cramp Hill. He had told me to push through the climb and¬†he knew I could make it up! I didn’t really know¬†that it was going to be a mile long climb, and it felt REALLY long at the time. The ground was¬†pretty loose near the end. His words stuck in my head, I gritted my teeth, and grinded it out all the way to the top! NOW it was all downhill from there! All of a sudden Sarka comes¬†blowing by me and says, “Hop on my wheel! I’ll take you down!” She was flying! I stayed on her wheel for about five seconds till I thought to myself, “Yeah, she’s going to take me down…literally, down on the ground!” I didn’t trust my skills and I knew I was super fatigue so I backed off her pace. ¬†Since I was the last rider on the trail I had the sweep on a moto behind me and when I finally popped out onto the road I was police escorted all the way back into town! It was so fun to have them stop all the traffic for me and I could take each corner as fast as I wanted to. You would have thought I was someone special or something! ūüėČ My rock star moment¬†was coming to an¬†end¬†as I turned the final corner to the finish and all the tents and booths were being torn down and packed up.¬†I was officially the last rider to roll¬†through for the weekend and it was a great one at that!

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What an absolutely awesome experience this whole trip has been! I know deep down that God paves our way through this world and He is the reason that Carlos and I are able to do everything that we do! I cannot lie. This trip was so great that it’s taken me this long (a month and a half) to get back to reality.¬†A million¬†THANKS to our sponsors, Richard and Lisa of Comedy Defensive Driving, Outta the Oven Las Colinas, and Education Location for believing in us and helping give me a “boost” into this pro mountain bike world, my amazing brother Roman¬†and his support from¬†Roman Strength LLC., my wonderful sister Marisa and her beautiful family for “temporarily” adopting our son Plopper, Deborah and Steven for their constant love, support, and not to mention¬†providing us with a fancy shmancy¬†roof over our heads for¬†a week,¬†¬†Uncle Oscar and Marlene for supporting their crazy niece’s dreams, Deirdre and John for the surprise Christmas bonus, Plano Cycling in Fitness, Team PACC, Elete Electrolytes, ESI Grips, Sockguy, Honeystinger, Schwalbe, all of our clients, friends, and family I did not mention, and last but not least AT ALL, my backbone, my best friend, my HUSBAND!¬†¬†He is my inspiration and the glue that keeps me together. I truly thank God for him!

This Sunday we’ll be racing the Fossil 50 out in Glen Rose, TX. I’m super excited and really looking forward to this one! This is a race like no other in the area and I know it’s going to be a blast! This race is pre-reg only so hurry and sign up now, this is going to be one that you don’t want to miss!

Sea Otter Classic

WOW! What an amazing two and a half weeks we have had! Earlier this week we drove back from our adventures at The Sea Otter Classic and The Whiskey Off-Road, two of the biggest off-road cycling events in the nation. I had taken a laptop with me so that I could blog, (thank you Taylor!), but I was so busy taking in every moment of our trip that I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write. So here it is…Part One of the Adventures of Team Uranga!Roman Strength

Two weeks ago from Friday was Carlos’ race at Sea Otter. After our pre-ride of the course we knew that this wasn’t just any XC race. This was practically a marathon for him, and despite not being at a high altitude, it was like a marathon in the mountains with all the climbing! Maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it sure felt like it to us flat landers! The course was one ginormous 22 mile loop with fast and flowy singletrack and lots and lots of jeep road. He started his race with the mentality that he was going to have to really pace himself in order to finish the grueling 44 miles.

Sea Otter number plateThe event is sponsored Carlos Sea Otterby Volkswagen, so the entire four days we were there we got VIP parking right next to the entrance since we were in our pretty little Jetta! It was awesome!! So we got there early that Friday to catch the end of the short track race. It looked brutal with a huge sand/gravel pit that was probably around 75 meters long. Afterward Carlos suited up and spun his legs for a little bit. When it was time to line up it was so cool because the start was on the actual Laguna SecaCarlos Sea Otter Start racecourse.¬†¬†¬† Before I knew it they were off and I was left to hang out and chill for the next few hours figuring out the best way to get to the feed zone. There was one at the end of his first lap, and then another half way through the course. Carlos came out of his first lap and when I asked him how he was doing he said, “not good!” But he kept on going. Uh oh! I asked the course marshal how to get to the second feed and the only way was to descend 4 miles down a jeep road. I went back and forth in my head if I should go or not. My race was the next day and I knew it wouldn’t be very wise to climb four miles the day before to get back out of there. I felt so bad and just prayed that he would be okay, knowing there was plenty of water and nutrition out there.

I waited and waited till his head finally popped out over the hill to the finish. Carlos Sea Otter FinishI was screaming and yelling, “Good job Baby! You’re awesome!” And then as he came down he slowed to tell me, “I didn’t finish, but that was so much fun!!!” He let the officials know that he had DNF and rolled down to the car. So he was already feeling signs of cramping in his first lap and knew the second lap wasn’t looking very promising. The climbs in the first fifteen miles are a tiny bit shorter than the long climbs in the end, and also a little more punchy. His legs really locked up when he was around mile 30 and when he got to the feed zone in the middle he decided to take that four mile jeep road back out. Murphy’s law right? The only way to get out was uphill! Yikes!

He was so excited afterward! Although he didn’t finish the entire race, he had so much fun with the guys he was racing with, the trail was super flowy, and everywhere you looked it was soooo pretty! It was the perfect training ride that we couldn’t have gotten back at home!

My race was Saturday at noon and the field was STACKED! Not like it isn’t always stacked at this level, but this time there were 43 women and from all around the WORLD! Several whom are Olympic medalists, National lisa sea otter startChampions of not only the U.S., but also their respective countries, in all sorts of disciplines of cycling from¬†cross-country to cyclocross¬†to track. I knew the course was tough, the competition was STEEP, and it was going to be an experience of a lifetime…and it was!! I had a good start and stayed smack in the middle of the group throughout the track where I didn’t have to work very hard. Once we hit the dirt I stayed about mid pack and got to ride with Rebecca Rusch for the first handful of miles. That was pretty cool! Carlos was waiting for me From my pre-ride to race day my descending was a little better, but these girls were just bombing it down! I then realized that without having the longer climbs back home like there were here, you don’t really have the same Lisa sea otter finishopportunity to practice descending, which was appearing to be one of my limiters. I did the best I could while keeping the rubber side down and was so excited to clear a super rutted out descent that I had trouble with earlier that week! I was also so happy to make it down dirty unibrowthis one descent that was pretty steep and the entire way down was about a foot deep in super fine SAND! That thing was tricky! As the race went on, and the climbs got longer I just couldn’t keep the pace. I dropped back a few spots and finished in 35th. As I rolled through Emily Batty was there and she gave me a big, “Good Job!” All I could tell her was, “You girls are amazing!” I was happy to have finished, happy to be in one piece, and happy to know that we can only go up from here!

The next morning we set out to our next adventure in Arizona, The Whiskey Off-Road. We figured, why not take the scenic route and drive down Highway 1?!? Life’s too short not to squeeze everything out of it! It was so beautiful!! No regrets there. That was a looooong day of driving and Carlos did ALL OF IT! I’m starting to really believe that he thinks I’m a really bad driver, or he just doesn’t trust me with the bikes in the back. Haha! But whatever the reason may be, I’ll just stick with, it’s because he loves me THAT MUCH! ūüôā

Highway 1 Lisa Gorda We arrived in Sedona, AZ around midnight and we were both pooped! We checked into our room at the Sedona Summit where we would be staying for the week, complements of Steven and Deborah!!!! We couldn’t say THANK YOU enough!!! Our room was so nice with everything we could possible need or want on our last week away from home, with a full kitchen and a jacuzzi right around the corner¬†that had¬†a beautiful view of the canyon! Finally, a whole week in a quiet town with nowhere to go and miles of singletrack to explore…Carlos Sedona Bed

We’re goin’ XC to race XC!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written, and since my last post we raced out in Glen Rose, TX for the Solavaca Cat Claw Classic. We decided to head out early and make a long weekend of camping with perfect weather and enjoy the quiet time together. It was so much fun to camp again and to enjoy the evenings with teammates and friends!
There were only four of us in the women’s field and the trail was perfectly tacky. As we took off Cindy led us into singletrack and she was really keeping the pace up! About midway through that first lap I attacked on a flat and made the pass. I felt great and ended up riding solo the rest of the race, finishing in 1st! Carlos had a pretty good start going in about mid pack. He stayed steady and was able to move up little by little. He finished up in 7th place!!! It was a great day of racing and we couldn’t have asked for better conditions, the trail was just perfect!
Monday Carlos and I set out on our journey to Monterrey, CA for the infamous Sea Otter Classic! Our first stop was in El Paso to visit our beautiful Grandmother. Visiting with her is always inspiring! We also dropped off Plopper with my sister so he could have some playtime with her five wonderful kids!
Tuesday we drove from dawn till dusk for a total of sixteen hours and stopped for the night in Bakersfield, CA. It felt good to stretch out and recharge! Wednesday we continued our drive up to Marina, where we are staying for the next four days. The drive was absolutely amazing! Neither Carlos nor I had any idea how gorgeous the terrain was going to be! The land is so fertile and there were miles and miles of vineyards, pecan trees, colorful flowers, you name it! We finally arrived at our hotel and got ready to go ride.
Wow! Driving up to the venue was nuts! It is so big! Every single part of the cycling industry is represented with banners, tents, and vans. This is unlike any other race I have ever been to. So we suited up and followed the signs to the xc course. We ended up going in circles trying to find the start of the 22 mile trail and bumped into World Cup Champion, Catharine Pendrel! She was so nice and gave us a tour of the entire course, shared some riding tips, and even helped me with one of the technical descents. Now that‚Äôs what I call the ultimate Sea Otter experience! The trail is unlike any other I‚Äôve raced in Texas. The majority of it is jeep road and double track and there is ONE root and NO rocks on the whole trail. The scenery is so beautiful that it‚Äôs almost hard to concentrate! There’s over 3,000ft of climbing in one lap and the climbs are much longer than we‚Äôre used to. This one‚Äôs going to hurt so good!! Carlos has the wonderful pleasure of racing two laps‚Ķcan we say suffer fest?!? Yikes! Like I said, hurt so good!!
We’re off to check out the races, meet new people, and soak in the atmosphere! I’m not too familiar with the computer I’m on so we’ll be posting up pics on Facebook and Twitter. Come check us out at http://www.facebook.com/teamuranga and make sure to LIKE us while you’re there!

The Big Ring Challenge

Holy Moses! This weekend’s race was SO MUCH FUN!!! I think it’s the coolest thing to come out of a race and Monday morning still be on cloud nine from all the excitement. The Big Ring Challenge is one of those courses that really gives you a high from the speed. It’s not every day you get to average over 14 mph on singletrack. Pure awesomeness!

Carlos and I had a great pre ride Saturday and the trail was just like I remembered it…fun and fassst! So Sunday morning we were ready! The temperature was in the low 50’s and I was surprised it didn’t really feel that cold. We warmed up in the first few miles of the race course since we were the first category racing for the day. The trail was feeling good!

Four of us were lined up in the women’s pro field, Jessica, Penny, Cindy and myself. The start was on the park road and then made a sharp left into singletrack. On the whistle we took off and Cindy was out in front. Jessica was able to get around and led into singletrack. Cindy and I went in side by side and I started to get pushed into the trees so I squeezed in behind her. As we were riding I could see Jessica starting to form a tiny gap and I knew I needed to get up there. As soon as I could, I passed Cindy and bridged up to Jess. Everything felt so good, the trail, my bike, my legs…I couldn’t have asked for a better day! We got to the second jeep road and all of a sudden Jess slid out making the turn. I knew I had to charge so I punched it and attacked up the jeep road and into the trees. She was able to bridge back up to me and I led till the next jeep road. Once we made the turn onto the road the race was ON! We were both on the gas full throttle. I jumped on her wheel but through the trees she started to put a few seconds on me. She was riding strong!

Heading into our second lap (we only had to do two laps this time) the small gap was staying pretty steady and I had her in sight. Railing the corners felt awesome and you can’t help but to love going that fast! Then, out of nowhere (at least in my memory), I clipped a root with my pedal. Oh man! It was one of those things that happens so fast that I don’t even know exactly WHAT happened! If I had to guess, I would say that when my pedal hit, I came unclipped, and my knee must have first slammed into my bars, or shifter, or SOMETHING in that vicinity, and THEN it slammed into the ground. All I knew was that it hurt…REALLY BAD. I had to stand there for a second to figure out if I was even okay. My bars had twisted so I quickly adjusted them and put my chain back on. Jamie, one of the guys in the Cat 1 40-49 group slowed down and asked if I was alright. I wasn’t quite sure, but the only way I would find out was to get back on and ride. We still had ten more miles left in the race. Ah!

Jamie let me in front of him and was really encouraging as I tried to pedal. The pain was so bad that I literally started crying. I know! I know! What a GIRL! I don’t think I’ve ever cried and ridden at the same time before from this type of pain, but I just couldn’t help it. I really wasn’t sure if I had seriously injured something in my knee and if I was just making it worse by trying to pedal through it. I was contemplating pulling out. I’m not sure how much longer it was after the crash but I think it finally started to just go numb to the touch.

Those last miles were a bear but the trail was so fast and flowy that it helped me to block the pain. I still finished strong in second. For some reason today I’m not that bummed about my knee, even though it’s still sore and swollen, because the race itself was so much fun!

In the Cat 1 40-49 group there were thirty-two guys. This week Carlos had a top ten call-up. He was so excited to have an opportunity to be up front that I think out of happiness and anxiety he missed his pedal. On top of that, you can only imagine that many guys hauling butt down a road to turn left and line up in singletrack can be quite a chaotic mess. He went in mid pack and moved up little by little through the first lap of the race. Right up every jeep road he could see a train of five guys in front of him. They were so close he could taste it, but not having a draft made him work even harder. He finished in twelfth and only a minute behind the pack of five!

We had a great weekend and are looking forward to the Easter weekend break! Till next time…

Happy Trails!

Bent Wheel Bash…A Cactus Full of Fun!

Another week, another race, another experience to add to the things I’m thankful for! Last Sunday was the Bent Wheel Bash in Abilene, TX. This race is put on by some extremely passionate people in the Abilene community who really know how to do everything right. Gary and his crew do an outstanding job putting this race together year after year. Upon arriving at the race he stopped by our car to let me know they had even added an extra $100 to the Pro Women’s purse because of all our hard work and always coming out year after year. It felt really good to be appreciated! Thank you so much Gary for supporting the ladies!

Saturday morning we got up around 5:30am, loaded up the car, dropped Plopper off at his favorite doggy day care, Benny’s Dog Resort, and was on the road by about 7:00am headed to Abilene. The high of the day was supposed to be 92 degrees and we didn’t want to be out baking in the sun for our pre-ride. Our timing worked out well and it wasn’t too hot as we rode the open course. There’s pretty much no shade on the trail like we’re used to here in DFW. We rode a good lap and a half. There were some changes made to the race course from previous years we had raced there. A handful of technical rock gardens were taken out and replaced by twisty, loose singletrack. I personally liked the course and the way it was laid out. Even though it wasn’t as rocky, the level of difficulty of taking loose corners at high speed made it exceptionally challenging, especially when the penalty for failure is a body full of cactus needles!

We had a really good pre-ride and missed the heat just like we had planned. The rest of the afternoon we cleaned up our bikes, got ’em race ready, then kicked up our feet.

After a good nights sleep we arrived early to the trail and boy it was chilly! What a difference from the day before…Texas weather is crazy like that! Carlos forgot his arm and knee warmers so he had to rough it for his warmup. ūüė≥ After our warmup we rode the start loop a few times, got our legs marked and lined up.

It was a small turnout for the ladies pro field with only three of us. It was Jessica, Penny, and myself. We went off in front of the Cat 1 40-49 Men and not so sure that was such a good idea. Those guys are fasssst and if the stagger isn’t long enough they are sure to catch us. I jumped onto Jessica’s wheel through the start loop. The leader of the 40+ group (Mason O’Neil) passed us about 3 or 4 miles into the race. Close to mile 5 1/2 is where we hit the rock gardens and I could hear a choo choo train of guys coming up on me. I didn’t want to hold them back from their leader so I slowed down and scooted over in a turn right before a technical section. As I moved into the side of the trail, the second I grazed my brakes my bike went right out from underneath me! Next thing I knew I had a few cactus needles in my side and a dropped chain. A whole mess of guys passed me as I struggled to get my chain back on. Oh how I missed my 1×10!!

I finally got going again and tried to close the gap Jessica now had on me. It was a constant ON and OFF the gas. You could pick up a lot of speed on the straights and then had to really modulate it for the slick corners. I didn’t know what the time split was between us, but on my second lap I managed to make the gap bigger by sliding out at the top of a turn and this time got covered on my left side from ankle to shoulder in cacti. I knew I wasn’t badly injured so I hopped back on my bike without checking out the damage. I could feel pricking as I moved my body side to side, but these are the times when you’ve gotta love adrenaline!

In the last few miles I was so excited to see Carlos around a random corner yelling and cheering me on! A little bit later he popped up again…how does that not make you smile in the last stretch of a race?!? I finished in second and got to take home some cacti as a souvenir.

Nearly all of Carlos’ race he went back and forth with Jason for tenth place. Close to the last 400 meters or so there was a good size log pile that you could go over, or go around and Jason decided to go around. Carlos charged the logs and made the pass. As Carlos made the pass he thought Jason would yield the trail, but instead the two collided. Carlos went down pretty hard. Now we know where the phrase “rubbing is racing” came from. ūüėČ

These are the times when we can be extra thankful for our background in fitness and not using cycling as our only resource to be healthy. Incorporating a solid resistance training program can not only help you on the bike, but it can protect your bones and joints when the unexpected happens. Thank God all Carlos walked away with was a few chunks of skin missing and slightly new perspective on the competition.

We just got to Coldspring, TX for the Big Ring Challenge. There is a chance of rain this afternoon and we should be just in time to ride before anything hits.

Hope everybody has a great weekend, racing, riding, having fun!! I’ll post up some Abilene pics after our pre-ride.

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Mellow Johnny’s Classic…You live. You learn. You race!

I am absolutely overwhelmed by this past weekend racing at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic. I can not even fully describe how special it is to have so many friends, family, fellow racers and riders, and of course my amazing husband to support me, cheer for me, encourage me, and put a smile on my face around every corner of the trail. I didn’t quite get the result I was looking for, but it’s always a great experience to race the best of the best.

I know I haven’t written in a while, it’s been a mentally and physically challenging past three weeks. I must have superhuman competitors because racing every weekend without a break can really knock the sails out from someone, and I didn’t even do the 6 hr endurance race and short track that some of them did at Waco a few weeks ago.

The weekend after Waco we raced out in Comfort. Last year and this year I have concluded that this particular weekend always feels like one of the longest weekends of the year for me. Friday we pre-rode the entire 27 mile loop out at Flat Rock Ranch. Saturday we took advantage of the Mellow Johnny’s course out at Flat Creek Ranch being open for pre-ride and rode three laps out there. I had been on the fence all week about racing Sunday and I went ahead and signed up anyway. I knew that riding the rocky terrain would help me brush up on my technical skills rather than spectating.

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We were so fortunate to have friends with family who live only about fifteen minutes east of Flat Creek and were nice enough to provide us with beautiful and cozy hospitality. The view was amazing and the area was so quiet and peaceful. That, along with the weather and good company made for a perfect race weekend!

Carlos and I were both racing at the same time but each of our races headed out in different directions on the course. Silly me had ridden the whole course Friday EXCEPT my start loop. Oops! So when the whistle blew we sprinted up a hill and next thing I knew I heard a loud crash just behind me to my right. Jennifer Taylor had been on my right so I knew she had probably gone down, but I didn’t want to look back and cause a wreck myself. So I focused on Jessica who was in front of me so I could see where the start loop was taking us. The first nine miles of the race are pretty rocky and last year was the first time I had to race the complete upper loop. I remember not being able to clear several of the obstacles last year and this year I was happy to be riding a larger portion of the tricky rocks. All in all I had a decent race. My goal had been to work on my technical skills and that I did! I finished in third place, Carlos finished twelfth, and we both went home with tired legs.

We are so blessed to have such a flexible job with some pretty awesome clients and were able to start our weekend off early Thursday and head back to Dripping Springs to hit up another pre-ride at Mellow Johnny’s. The course was flowing better and better. Friday afternoon I got in one more lap. The course felt much different from the day before. You could tell that there was more traffic on the trail, rocks were being thrown around, and lines were getting sloppy. I went over my bars on a loose decent and of course I had to land on the same knee that I injured on my Rockyhill pre-ride. It wasn’t that bad, just a little insult to injury…literally. You know they always say, “A bad pre-ride is a great race.” I just kept repeating that to myself for the rest of the ride. That evening we kicked up our feet and I iced my knee.

Saturday morning was a little chilly. We parked near the top of the newly famous STRAVA climb and Carlos set up my trainer and road bike next to the truck. The Cat 3’s were racing right before us so we got to heckle our friend Lisa and all the others suffering up the climb before I had to get ready for my own race. While warming up it was great to see teammates and friends pass by and wish me luck. I headed down to the start line for 11:30 call ups. I was really excited to see other girls from Texas step up to a race of this caliber. Like I said in a previous post, the talent in Texas is pretty unbelievable! There were three Texas girls on the line and almost a fourth! Unfortunately Melanie Etherton, who would have been number four, had an injury the day before in her pre-ride and she was unable to race. We missed her on the starting line!

The anticipation and hard training from the previous weeks and months was all for this first big race of the year. When the gun went off I took the line on the right and fought through the clouds of dust. Apparently I was a little too far right because I got smacked in the face with a branch…that’s always fun! I was about mid pack before the last right hand turn on the start loop before hitting the road again, when my cleat popped right out of my pedal. AH! I was in such a heavy gear that I almost couldn’t even keep pedaling without being clipped in. As I struggled to catch my pedal again I felt several bikes fly by. NOOOO!! I entered single track near the end of the pack skidding, and flying through the corner out of control. Finally I settled in and calmed myself down. This is not really the type of trail you want to ride over your head, even if it’s to move up a few spots. Crashing wouldn’t have gotten me very far. Up the climbs and in the open spots I was feeling strong. I was able to reel a few girls in and make some passes.

The rest of the race I yo-yoed back and forth with Rebecca Gross who was right in front of me. The crowd was incredible and poor thing was probably so sick of hearing, “GO Lisa!” There was no sneaking up on her! After the race we talked and when I told her I was the one right behind her she said, “You must be Lisa.”

It was a great race, a total learning experience in so many ways, and only 47 seconds away from my Top 10 goal! So after the race I decided to cash in my chips, walk away a winner (in my book at least), and be thankful I was still in one piece. Carlos was racing the next day and I wanted to be all about him! He’s so awesome at taking care of me and being my support system that I couldn’t wait to do that for him. So I set up his trainer and got his bottles and race nutrition ready. His field was pretty large with close to forty guys. The start was super dusty, but thanks to his Oakley Windjackets he was able to see, as opposed to previous years when all the dust got in his contacts! He had a strong, clean race and had a ton of fun! The way that he described his race was, “he had a bad start with a good end result.” He’s always said, “if you race from the back, you will not finish in the front.” I think we both proved that this weekend!

You live. You learn. You race. ūüôā

A little over six weeks away and we’ll be in beautiful Monterey, CA for the Sea Otter Classic! Can’t wait!

We would like to thank our AMAZING sponsors, Comedy Defensive Driving, for the generous hospitality, financial support, and promoting safe driving as we train on the road!

Elete Electrolytes for knowing exactly what our bodies need to stay hydrated for ultimate performance!

ESI Grips for your superior comfort and ultra light weight technology…did we mention how bling our bikes look?!?

Honey Stinger for on and off the bike top of the line organic fuel!

Roman Strength for our super sturdy plyometric boxes and equipment for our functional training!

Plano Cycling and Fitness for the best bike maintenance and always keeping us rolling!

We couldn’t do all this without these guys so make sure and support those who support us!