Most people do crazy stuff when they turn 40 - the classic midlife crisis type affair. There's buying a snazzy new car (does a 4WD Merce...

Apr 30, 2012

Ridgeline preview

Nick and I took advantage of a day off and headed north to Castle Rock to check out the course for the next race in the RMES - the Ridgeline Rampage. We've never ridden up there so didn't really know what to expect. And after two laps -one to make sure we had the course right (little maps on iPhones are kinda hard to read in bright sun without my glasses) and another to test the course at speed, I'm thinking it's gonna be interesting. The course is definitely flowing, with some steep hills and some deceptive climbs. I was actually a little surprised at how much climbing there was in the lap - pacing is gonna be important for this race for sure. Burning matches on some of those climbs early will lead to trouble later. Not super technical at all with fairly wide trails, but passing is still gonna be a challenge because of the high speeds. Lots of cornering - and many of the corners off camber and loose.

It's a pretty ride - meandering through the scrub oak and open meadows. Expansive views of the front range through out the course. I was getting distracted by the meadows filled with flowers - lupine, Indian paint brush, some yellow ones that I don't know and some purple clover. Yeah, I don't know flowers really well - but it was a really cool blending of colors in the various greens of the meadows. The trail drops down and climbs through pines and scrub oak, then pop out in the open spaces on the top of the ridge. And the birds were out - jays and magpies and others. I had a raven trailing me on the part of the ride, his shadow following me on the trail. Awesome - fun day on some new trails. I might think differently after six laps, but the two we did were cool. Saturday is gonna be fast and hot, with some smoking times. Keep the rubber side down!

Apr 28, 2012

Lighting a Fire - VooDoo Fire Race Report

Women's Marathon Pro/Open Podium -
Sari Anderson, me and Amy Thomas
A the start of the year, I decided to change my focus away from the Xterras of the last three years to endurance and ultra mountain bike races. And while I was confident that I'd made the right choice and was really looking forward to the season, that didn't help with the nerves building as VooDoo Fire approached. I knew I'd done the training and was ready to ride long, hard and fast. At the end of the day , I executed a fairly smart race. I made some mistakes for sure, but will learn from them. I kept everything together, kept a steady tempo as the temperature rose and rode my own race as best I could with the number of riders on course. There were 175 finishers in the marathon, 225 in the half marathon, and 140 finishers in the cross country races. Add many more who suffered mechanicals and other issues and DNFs. Warriors Cycling did a great job managing the event, the riders on course and ensuring a good event for everyone. In the Women's Marathon, Honey Stinger Sari Anderson defended her title in a blazing 5:11:29. I took second in 5:40:39 - not as fast as I was hoping. Holly Wade rode her single speed to third in 5:51:11. Rebecca Hodgetts (5:52:02) and Amy Thomas (5:54:28) rounded out the women's podium. Nick also raced at VooDoo Fire, in the Half Marathon singlespeed class. Battling through a tough starting draw, (the half SS racers had the second to last start time, only the women were behind him. They were catching earlier starters before the they even started the single track) He took third behind Paul Von Boeck and Joe Mcnerney. Only 51 seconds separated the three of them! It was a great start to the season - now time to recover and prepare for Ridgeline Rampage.

With an 8:00 start time, it was an early wake up for coffee, OJ and my huge pre race bowl of oatmeal. The sun was just peeking over the horizon and the air held onto the nighttime chill. It wouldn't last. By the time we got parked at Arkansas Point and dropped off our cooler of bottles, it was warming quickly. I opted to use my light arm coolers for at least the first lap since it was still cool and then later for sun protection. As our start neared - the marathon women were the last to start - the pent up nerves quickly vanished. It was time to stop wondering and start riding! Watching the large groups of men leaving the gait helped alleviate the nerves. Finally, at 8:12, the women rolled away from the line for the short neutral section. The pack sprawled across the road and the pace for the neutral roll out was brisk. At the official start, Sari hit the gas and the field quickly stretched out. All jitters gone, I tucked in behind Sari and her Honey Stinger teammate. We steamed up the blacktop climb, already reeling in the stragglers of the start groups before us. I made the right hand turn onto the single track of Duke in third place. A few men separated me from second, but they were super cool. A few quick passes and I moved into second. And there I would stay for the rest of the race - in second.

Nick following Paul on some of the single track - photo Leslie Handy
One of the main features of the VooDoo Fire is the amount of singletrack. While it makes for some fun riding, it also led to some hard passing. The ground just off the trail was soft and sandy and absorbed all the speed needed for passing. Add in the cacti and the sharp shale and passing proved to be rather challenging for everyone. The course is pretty cool, with some distinctive features and trails. The first obstacle was a loose, sandy climb with a few rock steps on Rodeo Ridge. Then the flowing, false flats of Quatro Sinko that wound down to lake level. It was actually pretty cool, watching the stream of riders meandering across the plains. A fast downhill and short climb up to Driftwood - another winding trail marked by huge piles of wood which the trail meandered around and through. Finally, a short section of double track which allowed for eating and passing. But the respite was short as the double track dumped into Route 96 - a little used trail that is bumpy, loose and generally miserable. Getting onto the VooDoo Detour was a respite, with it's sweeping turns and gradual climbs. After that, the fun of Outer Limits - one of the signature trails of Lake Pueblo - filled with tight turns, short little climbs, and plenty of shale - all right along the cliff edge. Another section of double track, with the aid station out on the course. Back down to lake level via Waterfall - a fun little decent right through the canyon. Save some energy for the technical climb up Rock Canyon - filled with shale step up, loose rocks and some really challenging, water eroded cliff climbs. Another longer double track section, then the aptly named Roller Coaster - steep downs, steep ups, tight turns and finished out with some rock sections right along the the canyon edge. Back down through the sculptures of StoneHenge and only a few steep little climbs to the finish line.

Traffic jam in Rock Canyon - photo Leslie Handy
 I knew the first climb would cause a traffic jam - I'm only successful getting up that section about 80% of the time! Luckily, there were some spectators cheering (heckling) and they saw Sari and I coming. The men pushing their bikes up the hill scattered. Sari and I steamrolled the climb, hopefully making it look easy. After that, it became a constant dance of passing as we moved up through the men. Sari kept putting time into me - widening the gap until I didn't care. I wasn't gonna see her again unless she had a mechanical. Time to ride my own race and be smart. Smart with passing, smart with pacing and keeping the rubber side down. I also wanted to avoid any of the mechanical and flats that plagued so many riders. There was plenty of carnage out on the course  - one rider I know got four flats!

The first lap was pretty crazy. I was catching the Marathon men who'd started before me and just as I entered Outer Limits, the Half Marathon leaders started catching me. Passing wasn't always easy, but most of the guys were pretty cool. There were the usual assortment of jackasses (half marathon pro rider wearing Feedback sports - talking to you! Pulling in front of me and nearly taking out my front wheel = no cool) but the rest of the field made up for the few idiots. A few times, I had to choose between burning some matches to make a pass or chilling for a little bit. Most of the time, I opted to wait - in a race that long it wasn't worth the effort to struggle in the soft sand or risk a flat. Even the second lap had a lot of passing - catching marathon men, half marathons and some people passing me. Only the third lap was really quiet with open trails, but I couldn't really take advantage of the empty trails. I was getting darned tired!

Riders on Driftwood trail - photo Leslie Handy
The other story was the growing heat. I usually do well in the heat and was prepared for it. Our cooler was at the feed zone with our bottles and some ice. I should have frozen a little water in the bottles for later in the race - something to change for next race. I started the race with a bottle with a Gu Brew tab and my camelbak full of Gu and Gu Brew. I drained the bottle in the first lap - it was that warm already. Grabbed the fresh bottle and continued along my way. Ahh, nice cool water to drink! The air started getting warmer and the dust filled the air. I kept drinking, and realized I was almost out when I hit the aid station on Outer Limits. But it was a crazy zoo - racers and bikes all over! So I kept riding, knowing I had more waiting for me at the feed zone. I did end up running out of water and draining my camelbak before I hit South Shore. Finally, got to the end of the lap, swapped camelbaks, fresh bottle and chugged some water. I'd made a last minute change to use both camelbak - given how hot it got, I was happy I'd decided to run with both Camelbaks. There were lots of people with some bad cramps and dehydration because of the unrelenting heat and lack of shade out on course. Unending blue skies and the blazing sun baked the dusty trails. It was a rough day for everyone in the race.

I was in No-Man's land for much of the race. Sari was way out in front of me and I had no clue where third place was. The course is so twisty turny that even if I could see someone, I'd have no clue how far behind they were. So I focused on the men around me - catch one, then turn my attention to the next guy. I was also trying to keep Nick from catching me. He'd started about 16 minutes behind me and we'd both figured he'd make up that gap pretty quickly. But we hadn't counted on him starting behind everyone in the half and having to pass so many people to catch me. So he had a rough day and rolled through his finish line after I'd headed out for my last lap. But he was waiting at the finish line with some cold water and food!

I'm sure I was a sight at the finish - three laps of dust covered my legs and bike. My shoes were white and my black Fate had turned grey from the dust. My forehead, jersey and shorts were caked in salt, although it was hard to tell with all the dust! I was tired for sure, but actually felt really good when I finished. At least until I tried getting off the bike! The minute i stopped pedalling, my lower back seized up really badly. I couldn't even bend over to get my shoes off. Something about pedalling for over 5.5 hours and still learning efficiency on the HT might have had something to do with that. At least it didn't really hurt during the race. All in all, not a bad outing for my first serious ultra mountain bike race. Made some logistical errors - which will be corrected. My pacing was good and fueling was good. Just need to try to up the pace a little and sustain it as the race progresses. Looking forward to Ridgeline Rampage now - another fun, long day in the saddle coming up!

Apr 27, 2012

Raindrops and Lilacs

Yesterday, I felt sure I was going to get soaked on my run. The clouds were dark and looming over the mountains and the wind was whipping the trees. So I left my sunglasses at home and tied a long sleeved shirt around my waist just in case. That must have scared the storms away, because I had beautiful weather. A slight breeze, the sun came out and the trails were quiet. But there was enough wind to fill the air with the wonderful aroma of the lilacs blooming all around the neighborhood. That and the hit of rain in the air, it was an outdoorsy evening perfect to get outside and do something.

So I was in a great mood even before I started running. I think that translated into the run, because it was such a smooth run. Everything clicked, with a perfect flow to every movement. The miller moths fluttered around every bush, a gentle buzzing from the wings and from them hitting the leaves and branches. Fanciful when an entire bush would erupt into flight - would have bees better if it had been butterflies, but still cool looking. Enough to just smile and want to keep running so I could keep enjoying the smell, the sunshine and life. Still a little tired from VooDoo Fire, but not a stiff as Tuesday.

Of course, we did get a huge thunderstorm later. Big bolt of lightning hit a tree in the neighbor's yard. Sent the kitten flying and even scared Nick. I didn't get to see it - was in another room. But it was a loud welcome to summer in Colorado!

Apr 24, 2012

Miller Moths!!!

After a few quiet years of Miller moths, this year is already bad. The lilac bush outside the window is filled with moths, just fluttering around. Normally, it would be an issue, but with the kittens - oh man... George loves sitting and watching the trees and birds and now all of a sudden there's all these bugs! And she thinks they should become cat toys. The ones in the house are quickly dealt with between the three cats. But those outside, those moths are just annoying George.

Sunday night, a loud sound echoed from the living room, like a bird hit the window. Nick crawls out of bed to check. And it's not a bird, it's a littl black kitten who doesn't think glass should get between her and her moths! She took a flying leap up against the window, trying to catch the moth on the other side. And proceeded to bounce off! We don't want her breaking the window, so Nick soaked her with the squirt bottle. That didn't help - now she just leaps up against the window, then runs and hides! It's gonna be a long moth season this year...

Now back to the normally scheduled ramblings about bikes and such!

Apr 22, 2012

VooDoo Fire nerves

I could tell I was amped up for this race - getting nervous as the start got closer. I've done one other long race - the Falcon 100km, but that was just for "fun." This was the turning point - the start of my new focus and the racing season. So when I was talking to Coach Adam before the race and he asked how I was feel, I was honest. More nervous then before any of the tris last year.

But when the racing started and Sari took off up the Dam Road, I felt in my element. Steady, controlled and looking forward to a few hours of racing. Sixty six miles later, a few layers of dust on my legs, and having drained three water bottles and two camelbaks, I crossed the line in 5:40 - second place to Honey Singer racer Sari Anderson who burned up the course in 5:11. Third place went to single speeder Holly Wade, who finished in 5:51. Full report coming later. It was a good day to shake out the legs and nerves and made me happy I'd decided to change my focus. A lot of work to do before the next two races, including recovering!

It was a hot a dusty day on the trails. There was plenty of carnage, both on tires and on riders. Lots of flats and har riding in the growing heat. Congrats to everyone who finished and competed at Lake Pueblo State Park!

Apr 16, 2012

Getting excited...

For the first time in three years, I was not on the starting line in Lake Las Vegas for the Xterra West Championships. And while I missed seeing the rest of the Xterra Tribe, I did not miss the rest of it. The long trip out to Vegas. Being away from home for so long. Trying to be comfortable in a strange environment. The course at Vegas. I woke up Saturday, went for a run and went to work. Checked to race updates on Twitter, but that was it. (Congrats to Conrad and Renata for some fast racing in what sounded like tough conditions) I was home, with my husband and my kittens. Able to head out for some epic rides and chill out. It was so nice!

But that doesn't mean I'm not getting excited for my race season to start! Next Saturday, at Lake Pueblo State Park, the racing season kicks off with bang at the VooDoo Fire. My second ultra distance mountain bike race ever. And I am so looking forward to it. Thats why I know this change of focus will be what I need. I've got that pre race "lets get this started" feeling when I think about the race. It's going to be a challenge, three hard laps. Pacing, fueling and tactics all important for a successful race. It's more then just going all out for a few hours. How will I tolerate hours four, five and beyond? I'll find out Saturday!

Apr 13, 2012

Speed intervals, sunshine and snow!

Tuesday I gave up my sunshine to do my workout inside - wanted the numbers on the computrainer. And while riding inside is mind-numbing, it was good to see the numbers. I like the numbers and seeing the improvement always makes suffering inside worth it. I did get some sun on my run later, so not a completely inside day. Wednesday was raining, foggy and a perfect day for another inside workout. And another good set of numbers on the power sessions. One of these days, I will get a power meter and be able to take my power workouts outside on sunny days! But until then, the computrainer at CTS will give me the data I want.

To make up for inside suffering, and since I am working this weekend, Nick and I decided to head west. A nice long ride up Gold Camp Road for some fun singletrack. It was warm down at our house, but clouds were already building so we made sure we had warm clothes. Thanks to the rain, the trails in Stratton were in great shape. We took advantage of the quiet and rode straight up the Chutes. Gold Camp was equally as quiet. We saw few cars and just a couple of hikers and riders. It was a nice steady climb and I actually was able to choose the tempo. And it wasn't fast! I used a bento box from my long course Tri days for food and was able to eat easily. It will work great for the marathon mountain bike races!

Just after we got on Old Stage, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. We were actually getting snowed on! At the top of the climb, we stopped to bundle up - knee warmers, jackets and booties. Yes, booties! And given the depth of the snow we would encounter, the booties were a great idea. The connector trail was pretty clear, just a few small drifts. Then we got on Jones and the drifts were much bigger. Slalom on two wheels! We had drifts on and off down the top half of pipeline.

I was having so much fun - just laughing and sliding along. I actually cleaned most of technical sections on Pipeline, I was really focusing on my balance and taking smooth lines. There were some areas that I haven't gotten before that I was able to ride this time. It's always great to be able to ride more and more trails and feel comfortable doing it. Then onto Jack's - and we were flying down that trail. Love it! Back into the sunshine after snow and mud up top. A solid day and great playing hooky - the last long ride before Voodoo!

Apr 10, 2012

Fluffy Flaxseed Apple-applesauce Pancakes

Yes, I make a lot of pancakes. I love breakfast and pancakes are super simple when I'm busy with training and working. A pancake with some jam in the middle of the day also makes a great after workout snack. And there's always leftovers with pancakes, so I don't have to worry about breakfast later in the week.

With that said, here's another gluten free, whole grain and fruity pancake recipe. Separating the eggs makes the pancakes light and fluffy, even with the flaxseed. If you are short on time, you don't need to do that step - just mix all the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients slowly. I used Bobs Red Mill gluten free flour, quinoa flour and blue cornmeal, but any combo of flours should work well.

Separate 4 eggs and set aside yolks in large bowl
Beat whites until stiff and peaks form. Set aside.

Add to yolks and beat until pale:
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

Add to yolk and sugar and continue beating on low speed:
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup blue or yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup quinoa flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp canola oil
4 oz unsweetened applesauce

Beat until smooth, then add:
1 1/4 cup gluten free flour
1 cup milk
Alternate between flour and milk and beat until smooth. If batter feels thick, add more milk.

Add 1 finely chopped apple

Gently fold egg whites into batter

Spoon onto hot skillet and cook until bubbles form, then flip.

Serve with real maple syrup or fruit preserves. Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen!

Apr 9, 2012

A weekend of trails

A long epic girls ride on Saturday and a fun brick workout on Sunday under clear skies and warm temperatures. One of those great weekends to live and ride in COS!

The plan for Saturday had been to head south and explore Pueblo with Kristi for a few hours. But I bailed - didn't feel like driving and had been hoping on camping at Buffalo Creek. The camping trip didn't happen, so I joined the girls for a long ride up Rampart Road to the Overlook Drop. I've only done that ride once before so I was really happy to join them. I left my house early, rode to Kristi's, then roads over to Balanced Rock. My only crash of the day happened on the hogs back- a dumb error that sent me flying into cacti and small rocks. We got to Balanced Rock, met the rest of the group and headed up. It was a nice, steady pace on the initial climb as the four of us (Tracy, Stephie, Kristi and I) headed up to Williams. Kennon was coming, but had been running a little late. The group was all together at the halfway, then the pace picked up a little as we met other riders also taking advantage of the nice day.

A short break to enjoy the view at the top, then time for the drop. Last time, I did a lot of walking on the Overlook drop. This time, just two sections! And no crashes for me on the steep steep slopes. All the work with balance and control really paid off as I was able to roll most everything and keep the rubber side down. I wasn't as fast as the other girls, but still happy. Next the winding trail to Waldo Canyo. Love that section of trail! So much fun - flowy, smooth and fast. Waldo is just as mug fun. I was happy to be able to keep the leaders in sight, even if I wasn't close. That changed in Williams. I was quite a bit slower then everyone on that trail - at least it felt like I was. But again, ride two sections that I hadn't made before so even though I was slower, I was still really exited and having fun. The hikers eating lunch gave me a look after I hooted about cleaning on chunk! Once back in town, back through Red Rocks and Stratton to home and it was a Mission Accomplished ride - 5.5 hours of fun!

Sunday was shorter ride with Nick at CMSP. We met some friends and rode with them for a bit. Then time to work on technical stuff. Much more of a cross country type of racing and riding work then the downhill of Saturday. And it was good - all the work I've been doing paid off as I was able to clean a rock garden I've never made before - the junction of Zook and Blackmere. I've done pieces, but never the whole thing. Super stoked about that! Then the tricky sections in upper Blackmere and Cougar's Shadow. Again, much better and smoother - got further in them then usual and did make one section easily. And that was on the bug wheels! After the ride, a short run on the lower trails. I might not be racing many Xterras but the running an swimming is great for the longer races - core strength and upper body strength for 100 miles of single track mountain bike fun in July!

Apr 5, 2012

Blue blueberry muffins

I made the "mistake" of going to Whole Foods for flour the other day - all I needed was some more gluten free flour, cornmeal and buckwheat flour. And then I started looking - all kinds of cool flours that are whole grain and could add nutrients and flavor to my baking. So in addition to my cornmeal (splurged - got the blue corn meal) and buckwheat, I also got quinoa flour and teff flour. Now, I've cooked quinoa before and love the taste and Nick really likes the quinoa pasta we get. So that was an easy sell. But teff? Never heard of it! Turns out its a pretty common gluten free flour - just a really small grain that's hard to grind. A lot of the things I've read say it adds some of the moistness and stickiness of typical wheat flours back to baking. All I know is mixing the flours with my normal GF flour yielded very tasty, moist and soft muffins. There was a hint of nuttiness, no flava bean aftertaste and the muffins were much lighter then normal. While the recipe has all the different flours, it also works well with just one flour. I just don't like using only buckwheat - to me it had a very heavy texture and strong flavor. You can also use yellow cornmeal instead of blue. They just won't be Blue Blueberry muffins then...

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and grease or line muffing tins (I use two 8 count mini loaf trays instead of round muffins - fit in the jersy pockets better that way!)

Mix in large bowl:
1 1/2 cup blue corn meal
1/2 cup GF flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup teff flour
(if using all one kind of flour 2 cups)
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
Pinch of salt of salt

Add to dry ingredients and mix gently:
1 tbs oil
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen. Defrost frozen berries gently before adding to batter)

Fill muffin tins evenly. Bake for 20-23 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from tins and cool on wire rack. Enjoy now or freeze for later.
Blue Blueberry muffin bars

Apr 4, 2012

Mountain Bike racing in COS

Mountain bike racing in Colorado Springs is gonna be big this year in Colorado Springs! We have the 24 Hours of COS - the 24 hr national champs in September and a new stop on the Pro XC series in June. In addition to those big events, Sand Creek Sports will be holding six local events - the five race Ascent Cycling Series on Wendesday nights through out the summer and the Pro Cycling Classic XC on July 1st. For the Ascent Cycling Series, three of the races (June 6th, July 18th, and August 8th) will be held on the fast singletrack of the Bear Creek Terrace mountain bike trails. The other two races (June 13th and July 25th) will be contested among the fun rocks of Palmer Park. The Wendesday night races are late enough to accomodate most work schedules and with separate start times and caps on the field, there is plenty of room on the trail to ensure good clean fun racing. With two different venues and five different courses, there will be something for everyone at the Ascent Cycling Series. All levels and abilites will have fun and find challenges at the "Wendsday night at the races" - and with the local races and cheap entry fees, there really is no reason not to show up for the Ascent Cycling Series this summer!

New this year will be the partnership between Sand Creek Sports and Pikes Peak Sports to promote the events and to provide an "inside the race" view of mountain bike racing. How? Well, local badass and all around good guy Cameron Chambers and I will be flying the Sand Creek Sports Jerseys at the races as rider/ambassadors. We will be at all the races, encouraging fellow racers. We will also be writing about the races with pre and post reports on Pikes Peak Sports. It's going to be a fun summer with lots of good local races and I am happy to be part of it!

For information on the Ascent Cycling Series and Pro Cycling Classic, visit To check out Pikes Peak Sports - the local hub for all kinds of sports and community events go to

Apr 2, 2012

Hot and dusty fun at the lake

We finally made it down to Lake Pueblo to pre ride the course for the Voodoo Fire race last weekend. Important for me for pacing and planning nutrition needs and really important for Nick to check his gearing. It took us a little longer then planned to get going and we didn't start riding until 10:30 on Saturday. A good wake up for the heat we could be facing come April 21 - it was really hot! Not a cloud in the sky, a light wind and dusty trails. My legs were white from the dust when we finished our ride. It's a good, long lap with some fun stuff, some really boring sections and a few cool canyon drops. I'm happy it's the short loop again and not going all the way out on Voodoo loop. The thought of a possible mechanical way out there worries me. But Outer Limits is a fun, flowy trail, Rock Canyon a challenging shale climb and both Stonehenge and Waterfall just fun trails. Rollercoaster will provide a challenge with its steep drops and long climbs. I'm looking forward to a good, long day in the saddle.

After the pre-ride it was time to play in the canyons. First thing I noticed was I have to learn to ride a bike! On my trusty full squish Era, I've been able to cheat a bit and let the bike and suspension do a lot of the work. Bumpy trails - just sit and let the rear suspension absorb the impact. Well, a 29er might roll over bumps better with the big wheels, but... Without the suspension to ease the jolts it takes more body english to provide a smooth, even ride. I actually have ride the bike, instead of just sitting on the bike!

So Sunday's ride turned into a skills day, with a lot of work on my technique on the hardtail. I think we climbed Rock Canyon seven times total! But it was good practice and I got a lot accomplished. Learning to throw my weight around, steer my bike and really shifting front to back to allow my body to absorb some of the impact the suspension normally does on the Era. I am feeling much stronger on my Fate after an hour and a half of playing on rocks! Thinking another trip to the dusty trails of Pueblo might be called for this weekend for my long ride....