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! 😉

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. 🙂

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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!

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!

September Race Recap

Fall is HERE!!!!!!!! My favorite time of year! The last race of the TMBRA Texas State Championship Series is a week and a half away, and that will conclude three and a half years of racing in the books. Oh how time flies!

Three weeks ago was the Dave Boyd Huntsville Classic. Throughout the entire spring we were super spoiled by staying in hotels because of the constant racing, week after week, . It was time to break out the camping gear and enjoy mother earth a little bit deeper. All of the previous TMBRA Fall Series race venues (Huntsville, Ruston, Tyler) always bring back such sweet memories! This is where our TMBRA family began to form, and new friendships blossomed. Not everyone likes Huntsville because of its lack of elevation gain, and “technical” features, if you don’t want to include ginormous piles of sand and roots as “technical.”  That is basically what Huntsville is, a SUPER fast, rooty, sandpit. Which, by the way, is perfect for taking a spill in. I got to experience that sand one on one right in my face! I just don’t understand why anybody wouldn’t enjoy going that fast on a mountain bike no matter how “non-technical” it is.  As long as the rubber is rolling on dirt I’m a happy camper!

Carlos’ race went really well! He got a solid start going into the trees somewhere around top ten. Through out the race he began to move up little by little and next thing he knew he was rolling through the finish in fifth in a stacked field of nineteen guys!!! Oh man, it was so exciting! I can’t even describe how much my heart was jumping with joy!

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For the Women’s Pro field we had SEVEN girls! I know to all you boys this seems like a puny number, but that’s HUGE for us! So awesome to see cycling really start to grow for us women.  We have, hands down, the most AMAZING support here in Texas! In numerous races there has been an added payout for the women and not only that, but this past weekend in Ruston, LA there was equal prize money for the Pro Men’s and Women’s Categories! WOW! I’d like say a huge THANK YOU to Jennifer Behling for making this happen right out of her own pocket! And ladies and gentlemen, this is not the first time she has contributed to the women’s prize money. With that being said, my race in Huntsville was fast and FUN! Yes, I got to eat a little bit of dirt, but pushing yourself to the limit is always a blast! I walked away with the win, a nice envelope filled with a little green, a jar filled with a little sand, and an awesome Muscle Milk backpack now filled with a little cycling stuff!

Now Ruston was the real adventure! This is really one of our favorite races and trails of all time. Park Ranger James Ramsaur really knows how to keep a trail in tip-top condition. It’s so awesome that they even blow the trail off to clear it of leaves and pine needles! Between that, the flowy burms, the screaming Tomac Hill, beautiful scenery, pristine soil, and race organization to absolute perfection with Tobin and Jennifer…why wouldn’t you make the drive to the piney woods in Louisiana?

We got the earliest start for the weekend that we could and arrived at the park around 3:30pm Friday, set up camp, and hit the trail. It was all the bit of fun that I remembered! Saturday morning after breakfast and coffee we went out for one last pre-ride before resting up for the Tomac Hill Time Trial (TT) that evening. I was the only girl to do the TT, which was absolutely absurd to me because there was even a payout. So I got to have a little under ten minutes of fun riding my bike as fast as I could and I got paid for it!!! Score! I have to say that I was a bit nervous starting out on Tomac Hill where all eyes are on you and the penalty for failure is pretty high. But I cleaned the drop and had a smooth ride, so I was a happy camper!

Now Sunday was a different story.  The forecast was predicting a high chance of rain overnight Saturday and through Sunday morning. We were crossing our fingers that the weather man would be wrong, as they normally are (sorry weather man, but it’s the truth.)  Before bed we cleaned up camp, left out only what we would need in the morning, and put our bikes along with everything else under our canopy. This was going to be our first time camping in the rain, and it started to come down pretty early. At some point in the night I got out of the tent to tinkle and on my way back, checked out how the canopy was holding up…not very good! Uh oh! There was so much water that it starting caving in on both sides and water was dripping on my bike! So Carlos adjusted the straps and fortunately that fixed the problem before it got ugly. I finally got some good sleep towards the end of the night.

My favorite husband got up early and woke me up with my coffee and oatmeal. What can I say girls, I picked a good one! So we sat in our tent having breakfast waiting for the rain to settle down. It was perfect timing when it stopped, giving us just enough time to tear down our entire campsite, load up the truck, get ready and then realize that our start was earlier than we had thought…oops! So our warmup was pretty non-existent, which is never fun (or good) to start a race cold. But it was what it was.

There were only two of us in the women’s pro field, Jen and myself.  I knew that I didn’t really want to be full throttle for this race because the muddy conditions are still very new to me. The soil is similar to that of Tyler State Park, which I have ridden in the rain before, but I was still a little hesitant to just open up. So I pretty much just kept a steady pace for the whole race. Carlos’ category started two minutes behind us. In my first lap a few of his guys passed me and shortly after Carlos came by. He was looking strong and had a good pace going in third place.  When he passed, he told me his water bottle had popped out of his cage. Uh! Not good.  As the race went on it rained on and off a few times and the trail was getting sloppier and sloppier.  I was in the middle of my second lap when I saw Carlos’ jersey in the distance for the first time since he had gone by me earlier.  I didn’t know what was going on because I knew I wasn’t going any faster than before. I was going back and forth with James, who was in fourth right behind Carlos. Without knowing what Carlos’ race had fully been like, the last thing I wanted to see was us catch up to him and him lose his position. Well, what I didn’t know was that he had slipped on some roots and hit the ground hard in his first lap.  All in all he was okay, just got twisted pretty good. This, in addition to nearly an hour of race pace with no water, and then trying to make up time on the second lap with a super slippery back tire on the climbs made out for him hitting the wall. In the last mile of the trail James rode by him to take third.  Carlos and I crossed the line together, him in fourth and myself in first.

Although it wasn’t the race he had visualized, he still made out with a solid finish, and I had SO MUCH FUN! I know not everyone may feel the same, but I thought the mud was a blast to slide around in! You really got to test your limits in the corners and pray that the mud or slippery roots wouldn’t claim you.  We were dirty as could be, and our bikes needed a whole lotta tender loving care, but it was well worth it! So many memories come from races like this, and they are ones you’ll never forget.

One more XC race for the year in Tyler next weekend will wrap up the season. Hope to see everyone out there…this is one you don’t want to miss!

Ride Better Feel Better Weekend Recap

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Sometimes I forget that not “everybody” is on Facebook. I had posted a few pics on my page from the “Ride Better Feel Better Clinic” I put on two weekends ago and I really want to share them on here. It was such a success and I’m so excited to start planning the next one, so keep your eyes open for the date! I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to all the ladies that showed up! I managed to drag my service manager, and not to mention client, from 24 Hour Fitness out with me. 🙂 I had such a good time with her! When we got to Plano Cycling in the morning there were already quite a few cars already in the parking lot. As more pulled up one by one I was really surprised by all the mountain bikes I saw on their racks! It was awesome! Lorinda Putter, bike mechanic and bike fitter from the shop, led a great road ride. A few of us opted for the shorter route. It was perfect timing, as we were finishing up our ride we met up with the group that went long. There were women of all levels and diverse cycling backgrounds. For many it was their first ever group ride, for others it was the first time ever riding on the road, and for some it was their very first time riding this year! I’m SO PROUD of EVERYONE who came out!

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Afterwards, we all headed into Bikin’ Mike’s for the clinic. Thank you Plano Cycling and Fitness for providing us with delicious Einstein Bagels, bananas, and bottled water! I just wanted to say that this idea of putting on a clinic has been something that Carlos and I have been brainstorming for quite sometime now. It was one of those ideas that you just write down on paper, kind of like the idea of racing Pro, and then all of a sudden one day you find yourself at the starting line next to Georgia Gould, Emily Batty, and so many other women that you look up to! This clinic was actually one of those ideas and it was really awesome to finally make it happen. I really have a passion to help people, or at least try to, and I was so blessed with every single one of you ladies that showed up. You could just tell that everyone wanted to be there, and everyone wanted to learn! It was really a personal trainer’s dream if you ask me. All I hope for is that everyone walked out with the knowledge to be proactive in their lives to have fun, feel great, and maybe even ride a little better!

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This weekend is the DORBA 17th Annual Women’s Mountain Bike Camp/Clinic at Tyler State Park. I am so excited to volunteer and meet more fellow women who share the same passion of cycling! It’s my first time to attend this event and hopefully not my last! Now lets just see if I can survive without my best friend, my hubby, for a few days. #sadface There are still a few spots left for camp if you haven’t already signed up click here to make your reservation! Can’t wait to see ya’ll in Tyler, my happy place and also one of my favorite trails of all time!

Ride Better, Feel Better Women’s Clinic

Do you have lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain? Would you like to ride your bike, run or jog longer or faster? Have you been struggling to lose those last few pounds? I am a Certified Personal Trainer of over six years, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and aspiring Pro Mountain Biker. Join me for a casual Women’s ONLY NO DROP road ride at Plano Cycling and Fitness on Saturday July 27 at 8:30am. Immediately after we will have a hands on clinic that could very possibly make you ride better and feel better! Don’t have a road bike? Not a problem! Fat tires or skinny tires, they’re all welcome! This is a free event and strictly for the ladies so bring your friends and riding partners whether they are beginner or advanced.

This ride will start at 8:30am SHARP in the parking lot of Plano Cycling and Fitness. For details on this ride please click here.
Immediately following our ride will be a clinic where I will go over nutrition (on the bike and off the bike), flexibility, core and strength training, and bike fit. Some items to bring that will allow you to get the most out of this clinic are a foam roller and a yoga mat (a large towel will also work.) No worries if you don’t have a foam roller as I will have a few extras handy.
IMPORTANT! This ride is NOT rain or shine. Therefore in the event that it does rain the clinic will be held at 1pm. If all goes well and the skies are blue the clinic will start at 11:30 am (after the ride.)
I want to thank Plano Cycling and Fitness for providing us with snacks and drinks and for generously opening up the space for us to make this possible!
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me at TeamUranga@gmail.com.

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!