Stronger Together

I didn’t plan on doing the Leadville 100 this year, at least not after I didn’t get in through the lottery. I didn’t think about it when I was trekking through the Grand Canyon, finishing finals or traveling in Viet Nam. In fact, most of the time in Viet Nam I thought about how out of shape I was getting and thank goodness I wouldn’t be racing 100 miles. Then I got to Switzerland and started running and had a few long days on trail in France and the thought began creeping back in that maybe I can ride 100 miles with Sharon. When I got back to the states I contacted WBR and it was almost serendipitous as one guy had to drop out due to a medical condition and was willing to give me his spot to ride with Sharon.

gravel gridning
Recon training in Boulder last week

That’s been the thought the whole time, at least since Michelle planted the idea in my brain last December that the only way I would do Leadville is with Sharon. Sharon is another member of WBR and due to circumstances outside of her control wasn’t able to finish the Leadville 100 last year. Since we’re both passionate about WBR and riding long distances (she has quite the impressive stage race resume) thought we would be stronger together.

sharon and I .jpg
Sharon and I riding in Boulder

I really thought after Leadville last year I would be done, knowing I would be traveling for a good chunk of the summer and thinking I wouldn’t be able to do enough early season riding to build up the engine I would need to PR (4 years of training for Leadville has taught me a lot). I’m convinced that riding with Sharon is the only way I can top last year’s experience is to help someone else reach that finish line.

going up hall
Working on power output

This year, Sharon and I will both be riding for World Bicycle Relief. WBR is a program that helps distribute bicycles in Africa. After a year studying global health I truly believe that the one thing we can do that will create the largest impact and ripple in a community is to educate young people, girls especially. With a Buffalo Bike (the one that is designed for WBR) a student increases classroom attendance by 28%. In all my years of schooling, I’ve been granted the privilege of never having to worry about how I would arrive for my education.

Head on over to the World Bicycle Relief to learn more or wanting to donate head over to my donation page at WBR.

boulder riding
Hoping I look this ‘fresh to death’ after the Leadville 100

 

Thesis Training

When focusing on writing and defending my thesis, my blog posting fell to the way side–Here’s just a brief recap of what I’ve been up to since arriving back in the states in mid-June.

I arrived back into the states, did two trainer rides and signed up for my first mountain bike race in almost 10 months– and my first go back on my mountain bike in 7 months.

helmet pic
Well

It was a bit ugly and 2 hours later I wondered why I didn’t sign up for the 10 mile option instead of the 20-miler. I somehow survived and was surprised that my legs went out much sooner than my lungs, so maybe running actually did something. I decided to do the race to help ‘race my way back into shape’.

podium picture
Well, at least I wasn’t sandbagging!

Within the first week of arriving back into the states I secured a spot for Leadville (yikes!) but with no aspirations of defending my age group title. Instead, I’m hoping to be in good enough shape to ride with another WBR team rider and get across the finish together (more on it all later, promise). It should be a great day and I’m looking forward to it.

thesis picture
This was my view for the past few weeks

Given the limited time frame to get into shape and the fact that I was writing my thesis, I got in touch with my coach from last year to come up with a plan, which meant a lot of road and trainer rides.

road biking nd
At least other ND cycling people were on campus

I did not tell my parents about Leadville until I absolutely had to because was worried my mom would worry more about my stress level between training and writing. Riding gave me a good excuse to take a break and ruminate on what I had been working on. Only once did I go to the doctor to get some blood drawn and have a resting heart rate of 92, minor detail.

I defended my thesis and passed, if you’re interested in reading 97 pages about influenza vaccines, lettme know! I found that prepping for a thesis defense was similar to an endurance race.

podium dome .JPG

You spend a lot of time, resources and energy working towards the goal. Don’t change your equipment the day of– I walked halfway across campus with the podium I had practiced with, and the night before you realize you have done everything you can at this point and just need to get some good sleep. Afterwards, I was able to spend about a week and half in South Dakota before heading back to ND for graduation.   bh trailsI was able to get some trail riding in with Barb why home. I’m now on my way back to South Dakota and will head down to CO in about a week for Leadville. After Leadville, it’s back to law school!

with parents
Pre-graduation dinner and not cycling clothes!

group at door

It happened to be baton twirling national championships at ND this weekend and I found a discarded baton in the grass that allowed me to relive my glory days, much to the amusement of my family- ha!

And so the Adventure Begins

I began law school last year immediately trying to figure out how to get back to the mountains. This year I voluntarily went further away.  I decided to take a leave of absence from law school to attend a one year master’s of science program at University of Notre Dame for Global Health. I did this for a few reasons (1) I got in (2) at this point in my law school career I have 3-5 required classes left which means that at least 1.5 years of electives can be paired more to this program (3) there is a Whole Foods near by. Not so much the last one but it was a nice little bonus. There were other factors too, I promise.

dome
Still flat here, but the view isn’t too shabby.

I only applied to this program because it’s the only one I wanted and figured if I got in, great I would go and if not I’d stay in law school and apply the next year, or the year after that. It’s funny because even though the past year at law school I only thought a lot about leaving, when I finally did it was hard to leave all the great friends I made, even if it was east river…  I don’t think this program came to a shock for most people that close to me but most people don’t know that I do have a background in environmental science and did time studying tuberculosis in South Africa–I don’t just ride bikes ALL the time. When I got in, my mom called and said, “you know that the winters are probably worst than Vermillion and there are NO mountains” It’s true they don’t have any mountains but I’m definitely excited about the program and this program makes me more excited about law school–yay! More school!

So now I’m in South Bend for the year, I came straight from Leadville, again and landed in orientation instead of classes. And I haven’t cried once! It helped that my flight leaving Leadville  got cancelled and rescheduled for the next day so I just stayed in Boulder and ate all the food.

close up dome
Obligatory dome picture….errr close enough 

I rode with the cycling team the other day. It was the first time I had done a road ride that consisted of more than 3 people. I don’t know why I didn’t get into road riding/racing sooner, the draft is incredible! It was so nice just sit back, pedal occasionally and maintain a relatively high average speed. Although the drafting does scare me a bit, I’ve mostly only done it during gravel races when the speeds are averaging a little lower. I kept “yo-yoing” off the back as Sully said. I would tap my breaks, drop off, sprint back on, tap my breaks, drop off, sprint back on…and it continued, a nice little interval circuit.

After Leadville a few of the pros went on to start the Breck Epic the day after the race, I too went straight into a race butttttt two weeks later. I didn’t anticipate being able to do a mountain bike race here this late in the season but came up on one when looking for places to ride. I had my bike shipped out (which would have happened anyways) and was off the couch for 14 miles (really haven’t done anything since Leadville except that group ride). It was a time trial style course with 15 seconds in between. It was pretty fun, but definitely different than Colorado riding and definitely different than a 100-mile race. I even have narrow handlebars and clipped two trees with them (might be time to start riding with contacts so I have some depth-perception) and had many close calls with others. The course had been rained on the day and night before and it was pretty slicky (I came in thinking it would be running fast and hero dirt, but soon realized I’m in the midwest…) which made for some squirmy corners and some pretty sketchy saves. I finished up 3rd, but I’m trying to get faster at shorter races (I have a big engine but mainly for going far and not necessarily that fast) and after about an hour felt like I was just getting warmed up to keep going, only to be finishing. The cycling team here doesn’t do too much with mountain biking so I figured it would be a good way to try and meet some people in the area who do. And try to get some short speed work in.

podium
I promise someone got first!

One of the reasons I switched my website was because as part of the ND program I’ll be in the field for 6-8 weeks next summer, and figured this would be a good way for my parents to keep tabs on me (provided there is internet…) so will start posting about course work here and there as well. But still mostly focused on biking. Up next I’m planning on doing a cyclocross race in Madison in about 3 weeks (I have 2 weddings the next 2 weekends).

butterfly
Cheers to new beginnings and more adventures!

 

LAST Big Training Ride

bachelorette
Not cycling clothes!!

My mom always gets nervous when I ride by myself (you get one brain injury…) and it’s understandable because she’s my mother. I don’t think too much of it unless it’s my LAST big training ride before Leadville and then I get a little wary just because that was the ride that gave my that brain injury 4 years ago. I’ve been staying at my family’s cabin in Tincup, on the western side of Cottonwood pass these past few weeks leading up to Leadville. I had to come down for a friend’s bachelorette party in Denver and figured I would stop in Leadville on the way and do my LAST big training ride before the race this weekend. Fortunately I solved my mom’s worries and my own about riding alone by picking up a hitch-hiker. Adam was trying to do the Colorado Trail but ended up with a bum knee and was standing on the side of the road outside of Buena Vista when I found him. For the record I don’t usually pick up hitch-hikers unless they have a huge gear pack or a bike (and I think of all those people who gave Wayne a ride when he was biking around the country) they also have to promise not to kill me, which he did. I never got his last name which is too bad because my dad could have run a background check on him like he did with all my (ex)boyfriends! Adam was only initially looking for a ride to Buena Vista and then would maybe make his way to Denver. I told him of my ride plan and that I would be going to Denver but would have a 4 hour layover in Leadville. He didn’t seem to mind waiting at a coffee shop for me and so I joked with him that I’m not sure what would cause my mom more anxiety, me riding alone, or her knowing that a hitch-hiker was my go to contact for the day (which is why I’m only telling her about it now.)

hitchkiker
He looks normal…enough, right?

The training ride was uneventful, I mainly structured it to ride up Powerline, go towards the start and then turn around at some point and head back down. I mainly wanted to see how I did down Powerline and scout out the lines. I parked my car at the bottom of Powerline, got changed and started on my bike when it started to begin drizzling. I didn’t think much of it as the cooler weather always seems to suit me better. I made it up to the top no problem and then began the back side of the descent when it started raining a bit harder. I started the climb back up to the first aid station and figured that would be a good turn around point, it’s mostly uneventful and just on pavement. I got to the top and turn around to begin heading back. The rain started to fall harder and with a sustained downhill I started to get a chill, I was only at about 2 hours in at this point and was hoping to get 4 hours. I started the climb back up and was soon tempted by the turn off for the Colorado Trail. I took it as it would give me some shelter from the rain with tree coverage. I also keep thinking that I want to do the whole CT at some point so if anything Leadville can just be really good training for it. I knew the trail would take me to the top of Powerline and then all would be left is the down. I’m never disappointed by the Colorado Trail and it’ll be hard during the race to know all the off-shoots for it without taking them.

hitch hikerI got to the top and all that was left was the down. Some spots on Powerline are pretty rutted out and last year I found myself taking the “B” line to get around people. I wasn’t terribly happy about doing the descent in the rain with no glasses (the only thing they were doing was preventing my vision at that point) and power lines right above me (beckoning to be struck by lighting) but figured if I could manage it now I could manage it when there are hoards of other riders around me on race day. Plus if I crashed Adam would be without a ride and would maybe contact someone. I didn’t crash, I certainly didn’t push it but it came back pretty quick on which side to pick and which line to follow down. I wasn’t paying attention and went straight on the trail when I should have gone right. It took me about 5 minutes to realize how far off the trail I was, and some foraging in the forest to realize my mistake. I’ve only been riding on this course for 4 years…but made a mental note of it for race day. I finished the ride but cut it short because of the rain and how cold I had gotten.

rainy day
Rain, rain to away…don’t come back till after race day!

I was talking to Sully the other day about Leadville when he made a reference to the Tatanka race something along the lines like, “well at least you know you’ll be able to finish” I came back, “I know I can finish, I’ve finished it twice before and I know I can ride my bike for that long but I don’t know how much faster I’ll be at it.” But I had misinterpreted what he was saying, he meant if I go out hard and fast and blow up after 40 or 60 miles I’d still be able to push through and finish. I hadn’t looked at it like that before then but he has a good point and there is really nothing to lose at this point by going for it.*

*Whatever it is.

crested butte
Earlier training ride in Crested Butte, the views were rough to take in