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!

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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

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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The Wacko Waco MTB Yeah Man Extravaganza!

Lisa WacoSaturday was the second race of the season at Cameron Park in Waco, TX. This is one of my favorite courses of the whole year. I don’t know why I like the suffering of this trail so much, maybe the feeling of accomplishment once it’s over, but I do know that four laps is definitely not for the weak-minded. Each lap was about 5.8 miles and roughly 830 feet of climbing.

With Waco being a little under two hours away and having an 11am start time, we decided to drive down early morning on race day. After not getting in a solid warmup the weekend before at Rockyhill, we also decided to load up the truck with both our mountain and road bikes so we could warmup on the trainer. (We have a hard time fitting our 29er wheels on the Cyclops.)

The morning was COLD, and when I say “cold” I mean Texas cold, not Colorado cold…so about 30 something degrees. I was really looking forward to the day warming up right around launching time, and it really ended up to be a PERFECT day for racing at about 58 degrees. Delicious! No excess clothing required and just the way I like it! There were eight of us in the Women’s Open Category and the start was in a field with two 360 degree turns to spread everything out. It worked, because as we took off and headed into the first turn I got pushed to the outside and was already playing catch up to get to the front. Before entering single track I passed a few girls and went in 5th wheel. The first few miles there was no room to pass and I was stuck. Christina and Jessica had already gapped us and were out of sight. Once we hit the jeep road I was on the gas. I moved into third place and was chasing the rest of the race. There was a lot of traffic, most especially in that first lap, and much of it was in some of the tightest, steepest parts of the trail. But despite all that, I felt GREAT and finished in third! This is the same race that I won four months ago and since then I improved my time by nearly EIGHT MINUTES!

Carlos Waco

The Mellow Johnny’s Classic is approaching fast, only a week and a half away, and it’s getting pretty exciting! This Saturday we’ll be pre-riding the course for next weekend. Sunday we’ll be out in Comfort, TX for race number three of the TMBRA series. I’m looking forward to another great weekend of riding and racing with my favorite husband!