Wednesday, June 24, 2009

High Uintas...Brrrr!

This weekend was the High Uintas stage race and it was super chilly!! I was pretty excited for this race because I love stage races, and the road race stage went 80 miles from Kamas to Evanston and had a pretty good climb (which for some odd reason I like!:) ) There was some pretty dark clouds hovering over Kamas at the start line and I was really hoping the rain would hold off #1 Because it would be freezing, and #2 Because there was a very steep and very long descent after the climb and going 45+ miles an hour (or in Tiff P's case 60 mph, she is a ridiculously fast descender!!) down a hill on my bike is scary enough without adding water! (Pretend you didn't read that Mom, I never go over 20 mph on my bike I swear!;) ) The first 15-20 miles of the races was pretty mellow with just a few minor rollers. We even decided as a group to stop for a pee break, which I'm sure the passers by thought was hilarious, 11 girls squatting (completely out in the open by the way) on the side of the road, had to have been an interesting site! I'm just waiting to see our booties posted online somewhere, you never quite know where the L'Autobus is lurking. We hit the Provo river falls where the big climb began and Brianne from Ski Utah immediately attacked taking Carmen (a international pro female cyclist on Colaveta, she was talking on the rollers about how she has been racing in Europe lately...not intimidating at all!) and Tiff Pezzulo (she is from Utah but mainly does NRC races) with her. I took off after them, the Colaveta girl climbing like a maniac dropping Tiff and Brianne fairly quickly. I passed Brianne and Tiff and was trying to bridge up to the Colaveta girl. I looked behind and noticed most of the group had dropped back except Lori, Alison, and Tiff hanging on to the back. Lori told me to slow up because if I dropped them I'd have a 40 mile descent to ride all alone, I struggled with what to do because I really wanted to catch Colaveta but that'd be taking a big risk because if I didn't catch her I could burn out before the top of the climb and then be alone for 40 miles or if I did she'd probably drop me on the descent anyway and I'd be back where I was with the chase group. So I did what Lori told me to and sat up a bit. We dropped Tiff at one of the feed zones but I knew that wasn't the last time we'd see her, she was an incredible descender, and by incredible I mean FAST as hell!! My Mom and Ernie were there to support me at the feed zones, they did a fabulous job getting me food and water and braved the coldness!:) After we hit the last feed zone there was a little more climbing and then the steep descent (that I was dreading just a tiny bit, I know I'm a little backwards but I would so much rather go up a mountain than down one!;) I'm getting better though, baby steps!) Lori was the best descender out of the 3 of us so she led us out and my goal was just to stick on her wheel no matter how scared I was, fast fast fast! I was a little nervous because the roads were a little wet from the on and off rain showers. I can't imagine how scared I'd be if I was racing in the down pour that poor Matt's group got stuck in! I was just waiting for Tiff P to come cruising past us and sure enough at the end of the steepest descent there she was! She sped by us going at least 10 mph faster (I'm totally not exaggerating), she was going so fast none of us could even think of catching her wheel, and before we knew it she was completely out of site (seemed like a matter of seconds really, yeah she is fast!) From then on I was focused on getting third, I knew Colaveta was long gone and that Tiff would be hard to catch even if we worked together because she was so fast on the descent. The last twenty miles were a little brutal but we were lucky enough to get a killer tail wind (which I hear never happens!) and the rain held out until we had just 5 miles to go. Our group of three came down to a rainy and very wet sprint and I took third with Tiff and Colaveta girl in 1st and 2nd (Thanks for standing in the rain to cheer me at the line Mom and Ernie!:) ) Poor Matt's race didn't go so well, it started raining hard on them early in the race and he suffered through it all the way up and over the climb before it was too much to handle. There were tons of people with hypothermia and most of his field had to pull out because of the conditions, bummer!:( I'm glad he was hypothermia free though! :) I stayed in Evanston with teammate Chantel and her husband Aaron because the Time Trial and Crit were in Evanston the next day. We had the cyclist Lasagna special at one of the local restaurants, good times! ;)

We woke up bright and early for the time trial. The officials screwed up my finishing time for the road race so I ended up having to go off very first in the time trial (they usually order it backwards so if you took first place in the race the day before you go very last in the time trial) I should have gone third to last but instead had to go first which is a bummer. I like to be able to see the people in front of me because it gives me motivation to catch them!:) My start time was 7:48, and it was rainy and freezing!! The time trial started off a bit rough because when we got there we realized Aaron and Chantel's timing chips were still on there road bikes back at the hotel so Aaron had to leave super fast to grab those before their start. I had left my TT helmut in Aaron's car and was terrified he wouldn't get back before my start. Matt came and set up my trainer so I could warm up under the tent (thanks coach:) ). Then there was a strange sting of random craziness all up until 30 seconds before my start time. When I was warming up my bike fell of the trainer, scratching my disc wheel a bit, I ran down get my TT helmet from Aaron when I saw him pull up and barely caught him before he drove away, put my bike down to grab the helmet and noticed that my front tire was flat (with 2 minutes to go before my start time! S@&%!!) I booked it back up the muddy road to grab an extra wheel from Matt, thank goodness he has so many, ran back down, put it on, and ran up to the start line just as they were calling my name. I got clipped in and ready to go as they held up my bike, then I dropped my bike computer while they were doing the 30 second count down!! Lets just say my adrenaline was REALLY pumping as I finally got clipped in again and set as they counted down 5-4-3-2-1 GO! Heading out there was a big nasty headwind and I was feeling a little slow but I knew that going out was the hard part and that I would be able to recover coming back so I pretty much went out with everything I had! I got to the turn around and was happy that I couldn't even see the girls that started after anywhere in sight! Going back was fabulous, mostly downhill, tailwind, and the thought that it was more than half over, all good things!:) Matt's start time was 8:07 so he passed me going out and said "Go, go, go!" :) I finished and ran back to the car to change because I was in a soaking wet full body skin suit, not only is that unflattering but dang cold!! The bad thing about time trials is that you never quite know how you did until you see the results, which usually takes a few hours! We went to check them out a bit later after going back to the hotel, eating some waffles, and getting warm! I took 3rd once again, which I was thrilled with because the Pro Colaveta girl took first with Tiff 2nd (who is pretty known for her excellent TT skills!) and then me!:) Matt took 2nd!!:) Only 3 tiny seconds from first place (I blame those three seconds on the helmet, he accidentally left his TT helmet home!)

Another highlight of the TT was getting to show off Matt and I's new BFF necklaces! Yep that's right, heart shaped necklaces with the words BEST and FRIEND engraved right in! We just wanted to put the minds of ever tried and true L'Autobus follower at ease. We are working on finding a three way necklace, possibly involving the word FOREVER to be given to Clinger, the third member of our infamous triangle! I'll keep you posted! ;)

I've got the BEST, Matt's got the FRIEND :)

The crits were scheduled for later that afternoon however there was some iffy stuff going on. Since the weather had been so crazy they decided that only the road race and TT would count for the overall GC and that the crit would just be for kicks, and wouldn't happen at all if the roads were even a tiny bit wet. All this confusion sent about half girls from out field home, so it looked like our crit would consist of Chantel, Me, Colaveta girl, Tiff, and Lori! We scrambled a bit trying to figure out if it was gonna rain or not, then suited up at the last minute and headed to the start line, where we were SO happy to see that 2 Ski Utah girls that had made a U-turn on the freeway to come back and race!:) The crit was 8 laps with a bit of a climb each lap. The pro Colaveta girl attacked quick with me and Tiff quickly getting on her wheel. I think she expected Tiff to stick with her but not me and she wasn't too happy about it! I stuck with them in their break for about 2 laps but my severe lack of cornering skills was creating some big gaps for me to close. Colaveta was taking advantage of this because she had seen how poorly I corned before she attacked and was now drilling it into the corners to drop me, which worked!:( I was a little frustrated because I felt like I could have stuck with them if I was better at cornering, that is something that I need LOTS of practice with! Once they dropped me I sat up to catch back on to the main group and road with them till the end which was a group sprint with me and teammate Chantel coming across the line together 3rd and 4th!:)

PCIM! :)

Matt had some fun in his crit and came across the line with his arms raised, unfortunately my camera is slow and snapped the pic right as he took them down! Darn! ;)

Matt and teammate Dave leading the pack!

After the races they have there usual beer and pizza awards party, which also involves a sexy calf contest! Chan and I volunteered to be female judges for the men's category. We narrowed it down to the final two: Dave Harward and Ali Goulet. After an encore involving Dave "stripping" and Ali pouring beer on his calf we declared Ali the winner #1 because he poured beer on his calf and #2 he's got a baby, $50 can buy a lot of diapers!;)

Ali's first flex!

The winning strategy!

Then it was time for the girls!! Lori literally dragged Chantel and I up there, which was humiliating on so many levels for me: I have terrible calf muscles, and am SO dang shy, especially in front of crowds, so standing up in front of a room full of people, flexing my non existent calf muscles was nothing short of terrifying! Chan and Lori were the crowd favorites, however Lori stacked the judges with her husband (2nd place runner up in the men's category and wanna be stripper) Dave Harward, so she pulled out the win over Teamie Chantel!

Lori workin the judges!

Chantel is almost as shy as me!

The final decision!

Chan was robbed! ;)

Then it was award time. Sadly Colaveta girl and Tiff left early so I had to stand on the podium alone, but I'd rather be up there alone than not at all so I was pretty happy!:)

Even though it was super cold it was a great race and a really fun weekend!:)
PS: Sorry about the long blogs, I'll learn how to shorten them sooner or later! ;)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rocks, Races, and Rain!

This weekend was pretty eventful!  Friday started off a bit rocky with yet another pathetic attempt by the Big Fat Chicken to mountain bike!  Coach Matt and I were headed up Millcreek to ride the Dog Lake trail until we realized the gate at the top of Millcreek is still closed, bummer!  So we decided to try out pipeline, one of my very favorite trail running trails.  I was thinking, "yes!" for multiple reasons: #1 Pipeline is flat (apart from one section that will be described later;) ) #2 It requires very little technical skills, not too many rocky sections, no crazy downhills, mostly smooth dirt (hence the reason people RUN not bike on it ;) #3 I know that trail from top to bottom, every turn, incline, river, and pretty much anything and everything about it.  Which reminds me, I must add in an important side story: In my first blog I referenced a certain trail runner vs. mountain biker battle that I have had in the past.  This battle just so happened to take place on this very trail.  Last summer I ran on this trail or others up Millcreek canyon almost every day, and I must admit that I began getting a bit aggravated  by Mountain bikers...and for good reason!  You see, not once but TWICE did I have a full contact collision with a mountain bike.  Both times I was just running along, minding my own business when BAM out of nowhere a mountain biker came cruising full speed around a corner and SMACK right into me! (I have the scars to prove it!)  So you can understand my immediate hesitation to mountain bike at all, let alone on one of my favorite trail running routes...I would inevitably become one of the annoying mountain bikers I'd grown to hate!  However, in the spirit of friendship and a whole hearted attempt to help with Coach Matt's severe case of biker burn out, I agreed to ride up pipeline (however next time I told him I would be running, not biking, up the trail behind him!)  The conclusion of this trip was frighteningly similar to before and on a much less technical trail...and I mean MUCH less technical!  It was a flat dirt path for goodness sake and I still struggled to ride it.  Four or so minutes into the ride we came to the one and only hill (which I knew was there of course because I've run up it a million times) and I didn't quite anticipate it well enough (gear wise) and pedal pedal pedaled until I came to a complete stop and tipped right over!  After that I accidentally snapped a little at CM, which I am apologizing for here and now, I'm very sorry Coach Matt!:)  So I have yet another unsuccessful mountain biking attempt under my belt, CM says I just need practice, however I'm not sure my body can take any more "practice!"

Embarrassment face...but look at the beautiful trail!:)

Friday may have started out rocky but it only got better!!  I had scheduled an appointment at Binghams cyclery (our team shop sponsor) to get fitted for my new TT bike!!:)  I went on my lunch hour and Chris made all the adjustments it needed (which involved sawing a lot of things, kinda funny how it all works) and said it would be good to go by 5 when I got off work.  I was in a little bit of shock because I didn't think I was going to get to take it home with me for quite awhile but Chris is amazing and said, " You'll be needing it for High Uintah's wont you, take it, all I ask is that you kick ass!"  I think I did a short happy dance (short only because I was frightening the other customers!) and went back to work, counting down the hours till 5 when I could go pick it(her) up.  As you know my beloved road bike is named Ruby, so I felt it only fitting that her sister be named as well.  My Mom and I brainstormed for a bit and came up with Stella!  So here she is!!  Pretty huh!  Not to mention FAST!!!! :)

My cute Mom showing off her flawless Time Trialing form!  Super Aero!;)

There she is, super pretty, super aero, super fast, STELLA!! :)  (pay no mind to the dorky wheels, she will get aero ones when her budget allows...someday!;) 

Saturday was the state road racing championship race in Logan!:)  CM and I headed out bright and early with our signature car stuffed full of bikes, wheels, more wheels, race clothes, and lots of post race food (mostly for me, I eat a lot, especially on race days!  We like pb and honey sandwiches!:) )  It was cloudy with some sprinkles on the way there but it ended up staying dry for almost the entire race!  The course consisted of a twenty mile loop with one big climb,  we did the loop 4 times for a little over a 60 mile race.  The field for our race was pretty big so I was excited, and I had four other teammates there with me!:)  We had all decided earlier that we were going to work to try and get teammate Alisha (she is incredible) the state championship title!  Our group started out slow with team captain KK at the front doing most of the work.  No one attacked up the first climb, obviously because we realized we had to do it 3 more times after that!  On the second lap KK rode up and down the row of girls giving us the game plan and chatting with a couple other strong girls from other teams in the attempt to get them to go with Alisha when she attacked on the next climb.  My job was to try and go with Alisha but be sure not to pull the entire group up with me and bridge the gap.  We rounded the corner that took us into the climb and Alisha took off (she is by far the strongest female climber in the state!) with Kris Walker (the one KK told to go with her) on her wheel.  Kris can't climb as fast as Alisha so she was off the back a ways.  I caught Kris making sure I was alone and not pulling the group with me and then we caught up to Alisha.  The three of us pace lined for quite a ways, but Kris informed us that since she was from Idaho (and wouldn't be considered for the state title) that she wasn't going to work because she wanted to have enough left to make it up the hill two more times.  We noticed a small group of strong girls not too far back so Alisha and I (not wanting to do all the work ourselves for 30 more miles) sat up and let the other group of girls catch us so we'd have a longer pace line to work with.  We rode with those girls for almost the entire third lap, dropped a few of them on the third hill, then had a weird span of time where no one would work, so the pace was slow, and the entire group caught back up to us.  So much for a break off group!  I wasn't too worried though because I knew Alisha would drop them all on the last hill and my job would be to just keep them from bridging the gap up to her before the finish! (like they even could, she is super fast!!:)  It played out pretty much like I expected.  We got to the final climb, Alisha took off, climbing like a maniac (a freaking awesome maniac) away from the group with Kris Walker behind her.  The finish was 6 or so miles from the top of the climb (I can't remember exactly) so I got to top of the climb with a small group of girls, most of them all from the same team (which is bad news for me).  I had an inner struggle with what to do at that point, I knew that I could bridge the gap to Kris and try to get second place, but I didn't want to bring the group of girls with me and threaten the gap Alisha had put on the field.  So I sat back with the group with the hopes that I would be able to out-sprint them all at the line and take third (in my mind this seemed very unlikely because Laura Howitt was in the group with me, she is one of the strongest women in Utah and a great sprinter, plus she had a few teammates with her, I thought I was toast!) The goal is to sit on someones wheel and sprint around them at the finish, you never want to lead out a sprint!  This is a fact I knew quite well but couldn't really avoid during this finish.  As we hit the 1 km sign I was completely boxed out by the Ski Utah girls (Laura included) and you get disqualified if you cross the center line.  I knew if I squeezed by them I'd be leading out the sprint, and in most cases when you lead out you lose!  But I also knew I couldn't sit back there because I was completely stuck!  So I took the risk (like a very important Dr. CM once told me, you've gotta take risks!;) ) squeezed by the Ski Utah girls,  (I could see the grin on Laura's face, she was thinking, "you rookie, go ahead lead out the sprint see what happens!") I stayed seated until I heard the tell-tale sound of gears shifting (that is what you listen for with attacks too) and I took off with everything I had, just waiting for someone to come sprinting around me, but shockingly no one did!  And I got 3rd place!:)  I was super excited about it, a 3rd place finish and 2nd place in the overall Utah road race championships (because Kris is from Idaho so she doesn't count in the state championship placing) I'll take it!!  Coach Matt ran to the finish line to snap a picture as I came across and was excited because he thought it was an awesome shot...then he looked at it later and noticed there was no one there! Hehe but he did snap this ridiculously dorky picture of me after I got my prizes!  CM hasn't been feeling too well lately so he didn't feel too good about his race, I blame it on the giant spider bite that continues to grow on his arm...ahh time for a visit to the doc CM!  It was a great day for our team, 1st and 2nd place finishes for PCIM, Hooray!! :)  

The photo finish...minus me!;)

Yes, it is nearly impossible for me to make a normal face!
Sunday was good too, CM and I went on a ride up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  It was SO beautiful!! As much as I hate hate hate all the rain we have been getting, I absolutely love what it has done to the mountains!  Beautifully green everywhere, gorgeous waterfalls, snow tipped peaks, I LOVE living in Utah!  That is also what I love about riding up canyons, you can be in the hurt locker and not even care because it is so gorgeous where you are riding!  And to top it all off it was the first beautifully sunny and warm day we have had in over a week!  After coming back down CM said I should go ride Millcreek if I was still feeling good, so I took off up Wasatch towards Millcreek.  It started getting a little cloudy when I was about half way up Millcreek, and with all of the recent afternoon thundershowers we have been getting I was certain I was going to get dumped on if I didn't head back soon.  I rode up to the gate (which is still closed for some reason) and turned around to head back.  By the time I got to the bottom of the canyon there were some pretty dang scary black clouds in the direction I was riding.  I made about a mile from the base of the Mount Olympus trail on Wasatch before the rain, and hail, and lightening came!!  I'm not gonna lie I was a tiny bit scared and was really hoping someone would pull over and give me a ride (although that could have been scary too!) Ruby wasn't very happy either, she has gotten rained on a bit too much lately, and riding through a hail storm and massive puddles is not the best for her!  The rain finally stopped, but the wind didn't, and my clothes were soaked so I was super cold!  However, I was on my bike, and no matter how cold, wet, rainy, or even hot it is, life is always good on the bike!:)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sawadee Ka!

So my Sister asked if I'd put up some pictures from my trip to Thailand, and I love her, so her you go Sis!:) 

I went to Thailand on May 3rd, however I didn't officially get there till the 5th (we flew through the international dateline so we lost a day.  When I went to Africa the same thing happened and ironically the day we lost was my 18th birthday!;)  Kinda funny!)  We flew from Utah to San Fransico, to Hong Kong, to Singapore, to Bangkok (spent two days there, just enough time for the entire group to get food poisoning :S ), then to Phuket.  Once we got to Phuket we drove to the little town of Kury Bury to stay the first night, then drove to the village where we would be working called Bon Telly Nok.  This village parallels the beach and was completely destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami.  A Rotary Club helped to rebuild several homes and a new school for the village in 2005.  (The previous school was the building closest to the ocean.  The Tsunami hit on a Sunday afternoon, thankfully most of the children were at home with their families, however 14 children from the village had gone to the school that day to rehearse a play they were putting on for their families:(  A beautiful memorial was built for these children at the site of their old school with pictures of each child lost on that terrible day).  The goals of our trip were to hold a medical fair to teach basic medical care (CPR, first aid, personal hygiene, etc.), help the women of the village start a soap making business, teach basic English to the children, and also do a great deal of cultural exchange.  

I have always had a passion for international health and the aid given in that area.  Intentions are alway good, and often from the heart, however much of the aid that is given so frequently causes more harm than good.  So often people of privilege go to countries in need with material dreams, in the hope that the supplies brought with them will end poverty, hunger, and bring about equality.  Sadly, more often than not the supplies brought are too advanced, and given with little or no training to sustain them.  Commonly supplies are brought that are not culturally fitting.  Cultural competency is such a major part of international aid of any kind, and is so often neglected.  This neglect can cause a helpful attempt to morph into yet another problem.  What they forget to acknowledge is the cultural differences that make this "help" difficult and often impossible.  We can't turn Africa into America or any other country for that matter.  The help needs to come from the inside out, education for the people by the people to fit the culture of the people.  Even more simple than all of that is the inevitable fact that things run out.  You can take a literal ton of medical supplies, and they will help hundred or thousands of people, however they will run out and the cycle will start all over again.  Our material dreams need to shift to sustainable dreams, culturally competent dreams, dreams not about complete change but improvement.  Whoops, sorry I'll stop ranting now and get back to the trip!  The reason I liked this trip is because it was all about education and passing on the simple knowledge we have to provide sustainable solutions to basic problems.  I know that these small trips are small, and that my dreams and beliefs about the worlds needy are huge and far reaching.  However I do believe in the power of small steps, the power of a few voices, and the power of touching the heart of even one person.  The people I met in Thailand and in Africa touched my life, and did so much more for me than I could ever dream of doing for them.  

Here are some pictures from Thailand!:)

My first Thai bathroom...the sign made me giggle!

The Grand Palace where the King lives!

The soap business!:) 

The day after I got really sick, I think I was trying really hard not to fall asleep...or throw up!

My buddy Bot!

The cutest little girl I have ever seen!!

She wanted to show me how to skip! :)  

Playing Monkey Monkey Tiger! :)

Part of our cultural exchange.  They taught us how to make roofs out of bamboo leaves, it was amazing!

Heck yes I built a roof...or at least a panel of a roof!:)


Their soccer field

Luing loved the bubbles!  I had such a hard time getting him to let me take a picture of him...until he got his bubbles, he was so into it that he had no clue I was even taking a picture!:) 

These little crabs were everywhere, and the kids loved chasing us with them...screaming is not accepted in Thai culture, and holding it in while being chased with these was not an easy task! 


Beach BBQ the last night in the village

Ellie's  flash dance moves!!

Yep, I've got mad hops!! 

The floating market! 

Tooth care was part of the medical clinic, we took those pink tablets that you chew to show where you need to brush, the kids and even the grownups (teeth or no teeth;) ) loved them!

Our kinda dorky, but cute group shots!:) 

The most beautiful little girl I have ever seen!

The group shot with the shirts we brought them!

Toot Toots...they drive these and scooters everywhere, there aren't many cars, especially in rural Thailand.

The most beautiful boat ride I'll probably ever go on!

Yep, I'm totally on an elephant!! :)

We got spoiled our last night in Thailand!