Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Harder Otter

Yes, this was definitely one of my harder Sea Otters…..but I suppose it was mostly my own doing…mostly.  Lets start at the beginning of the experience with just getting to Monterey. If you don't want a good laugh, skip ahead 2 paragraphs. All flights were going smoothly, scheduled to arrive in Monterey for 11:30 pm.  11:45 rolls around and the pilot comes on to tell us that we are unable to land in Monterey due to fog and the runway lights are out….back to San Francisco…better than those that had to go back to LA.  So, back to SFO we go, and the entire plane is loaded into three passenger vans and we are shipped down to Monterey….nothing like a 2 hour drive stuffed into a van with a bunch of strangers in the middle of the night.  3 am and the Monterey airport is closed, there is not a cab in sight and the shuttle drivers basically toss all of us out on the sidewalk.  We manage to bribe the drivers (or they extort us of money) to drive us to our respective accommodations.  5 dolla you, 10 dolla you……oh 25 dolla for you (ya, that's me).  Half an hour later I'm tossed out of the van with my two bike boxes again in front of a dark house; I have an address but I've never been there and everyone has their phones turned off…. lets face it, it's 3:30 in the morning at this time.  What I thought was the team van turns out to be a car port……haha, yes, it was dark!  A moment of complete panic…do I have the right house, what do I do, 5 % left on my phone battery and all I want to do is sleep!  I drag my bikes up the driveway…yes a rental van!  This looks promising, and it's open!!!  Back seats are down, must have been bikes in the back!  I go up to the house, using a cell phone flashlight I peak in the front door but don't' see any shoes or bags or anything that I recognize.  What to do!!??  Back to the van I crawl in and prepare myself to sleep in the van.  Looking at the house I say "Screw it!", and find the front door open.  I think "alright, I'm doing this" and drag my bikes into the house.  Quick look around, I find a couch and a blanket, fully clothed I lay down and pass out with the hope that I am in the right house……and that I don't get shot!

5:30 and I completely startle Susan (the owner of the house that I've never met before) as she's getting ready to volunteer at Sea Otter…but yes, I have the right house.  That could have been awkward.  2 hours later I wake up to a big tongue on my eyeball…..how did the dogs sleeping in the room next to me not get up and bark at me as I broke into the house?  I'm so happy they are mellow dogs!

On to the racing, something possessed me to enter for four events this weekend; I do kind of miss the old Sea Otter days of the four day stage race.  So I signed up for the short track and enduro for friday, and the cross country and cyclocross on saturday.

Short track was hard like it always is…nothing like 20 some minutes of full gas to blow your legs and lungs out.  I was actually really surprised with how I felt and fought hard for 6th place.

Wish I could have pre-ridden the enduro course, but sometimes things don't always work out the best.  Suited my Scalpel and Stan's carbon Valors up with some Kenda Honey Badgers and hit the downhill course.  Stage 1 was the DH course, nothing super scary but definitely slow riding the course blind :)  Stage 2 and 3 were parts of previous cross country courses and very  pedally…..which was perfect for the XC bike!  I actually cracked on stage 3 from the climbing, but snagged the 3rd place podium by a narrow margin.

Cross country has changed almost every year at Sea Otter, so this year was two laps of an 18 mile lap……with most of the descending on pavement or gravel roads.  Not my favourite courses, but it was super fun riding with teammate and complete animal Nina Baum for almost the entire race!  She cheered and sang and pushed me hard around the course….then dropped me on the final climb out back into Laguna Seca :)

2.5 hour XC race, 3 hour nap, then chamois up for the cyclocross race.  I definitely had more than a few moments of "What am I doing!".  I was actually very surprised once we got going that my legs didn't feel as horrible as they should have.  Had a good battle for the entire race for 4th place…I think I was going as hard as I could just to be finished faster at this point :)

And alas, the whirl wind weekend of bike fun with my awesome team was over just like that.  It always goes by way too fast and I have to head back to reality….I do miss being able to do this every weekend!  90 min flight delay in SFO again, this time due to fire extinguisher paperwork….yes, paperwork, and I missed my connector in Portland….turning my 8 hour travel day into 14 hours…..par for the course with my flying experience for sure!  And back to work…..is it still a recovery week if your working 12 hour days in the field again???

Huge thank you to all the team sponsors that make all this racing fun happen!!  We definitely have the best sponsors!!!  #shredpink

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Full Swing

Is it still a recovery week when you are working 12 hour days in the field?????

Mountain bike season is in full swing with three top spots, and I'm getting excited to meet up with my Stan's No Tubes teams next weekend in Sea Otter and pick up my new Trigger!!!  2014 is the year of making things happen…I've just decided that.

The past three weekends have been a whirl wind of local Island Cup Mountain Biking goodness…some of the best courses and trails around, I absolutely love this series and the people with it.  Starting the season off with the Hartland XC in my own backyard.  It was good to see Dan Proulx bring his U23 national team riders out for the races and good motivation to ride hard.  Always chaos off the start with all expert riders, men and women, taking off at the gun, but that's the best part, getting to ride with everyone.  Had my first win of the year taking the coveted first place cookie (it's a monster….and soooooo good!), with Andreane Lantheir Nadeau in second and Katie Button in third……. it does feel good to be able to still stay ahead of some national team racers :)

Then we moved to Englishman River Falls just outside of Parksville for round 2.  This was definitely more of a fitness course with a long steady climb followed by easily the sweetest section of continuous flowy downhill that I've experienced in a while.  Off the gun, Haley Smith took off and found a good position a couple of spots ahead of me going into the first single track.  Once we hit the single track it was a slow steady march with little chance to pass.  A couple people dabbed and I soon found myself right on Haley's wheel.  Spinning out on a log I managed to squeak by her.  From there I pushed back and fourth with a couple of the men.  The climb was just painful enough, kicking up a little at the top, but that downhill was definitely worth the effort.

Third weekend, last weekend, was Cobble Hill….lots of steep climbing and steep fast downhills.  Nothing like 1100 m of climbing in 2 hours to get some climbing miles in.  Good battle with Carey Mark and Luna's Danelle Kabush, but I was motivated for the first place handmade pottery mug :)

Now I'm trying hard to get a little recovery in before I head south.  Something possessed me to register for the short track, enduro, cross country and cyclocross race….all in two days!!!  Yup, this is going to hurt a little.  Kicking the season off in style :)

photos courtesy of Colin Wilson