Warda Muddy Mountain Biking Adventure

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

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

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

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

 

Coming through on the start loop!

  

Carlos riding through the creek crossing

 

  
 

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

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

 

photo credit The Light Co.

 
 

photo credit The Light Co.

     

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

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

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

 

My second cross country state championship title!

 
      

2015 Pro Women Texas State Championship

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Ignite Your Passion

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

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

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

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

Last But Not Least…

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️
The Urangas

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!

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!

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! 🙂

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’s what I call the ultimate Sea Otter experience! The trail is unlike any other I’ve 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’s almost hard to concentrate! There’s over 3,000ft of climbing in one lap and the climbs are much longer than we’re used to. This one’s going to hurt so good!! Carlos has the wonderful pleasure of racing two laps…can 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. 😳 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. 😉

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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