2013 - A year of exploring, adventures and fun on two wheels

Another year older, hopefully another year wiser. This was a fun, busy year with lots of different adventures. Fewer races - but with more importance to each race -meant more time to just ride and more time to explore. Nick and I took advantage of that, with more camping trips and big rides out of town. There was plenty of time to work on skills, rocks and speed. There was snow, sunrises and sunset; mud, floods and scorching sun; mist and fog with more mud. It was harder this year to narrow down the bests - we had a lot of fun riding and even more fun exploring. The adventures made me realize that I train hard so I can play hard as well as race hard. The racing is just the icing on the cake - so it was important to make them all count. It's nice to be fast, it's even nicer to be able to keep up with my husband. With that said, here are some of the highlights from this year:

Our first day of Vapor Trail scouting - the epic day over four alpine passes. Nick gave me the map and I picked the route. It looked like a good idea on paper! But paper doesn't really show the scope of the terrain, or the amount of hike-a-biking. Despite the amount of dirt road on the ride, it was awesome - the views were beyond anything I'd seen on my bike, the singletrack coming down Canyon Creek was exhilarating and it was one of the biggest days I'd had on a mountain bike. I got a taste of the alpine riding that comprises much of the Vapor Trail and I want more.

Hancock Pass - crossing the Continental divide for the first time (that day)

Alpine tunnel trail - on the way to the CDT

"Say kids, do you like trail riding?" Starting to like it more and more every year! I've always heard great things about the Growler, this was the first year we got down to Gunnison to race. And I'm happy that we actually waited this long - had I attempted racing it before, I would not have had any fun. I would have been in complete survival mode from the start of the race and struggling on every single rocky section. Not this year. While I didn't race as hard as I wanted, my trail riding skills have improved to where I was able to have fun for the entire race. And finally, a race weekend that even Nick looks forward to because of the challenge of the course!
Finishing with the Growler 64 

Best Pit Crew - Nick
This year worked out such that Nick and I were able to really help each other at the races. My job was easy - stand in one spot at Whiskey and Growler and make sure he got his bottle. Nick? He was my pit crew at Whiskey, Growler and 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest. At Whiskey, he waited all day (after he'd raced the day before) dragging up 20 pounds of water and food for me plus several of our friends. At Growler (again, after racing the day before) he was all over the course. I was never wanting for liquids or food because of his support. I didn't have to worry if I was going to run out before the aid stations or if my water was going to be cold. He was doing the job of three people during that race and it made my day so much smoother. And then at 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest... Mechanic, timer, chef, cheerleader. He did it all and kept me rolling, as well as handling the logistical nightmare that was the race stoppage. Many of the other solo women had full teams helping them - I had Nick. I would much rather have him.

This one has to make into the list. The Thursday before 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, the biggest 24 hour race of the year, our camper dies with a loud bang and a plume of smoke. We were stranded in the middle of Tucson, our fate resting in the hands of the U-Haul manager. Talk about being frazzled before a major race! No tent or sleeping mats, no cooking supplies, no heat in the middle of February. More important, no way of actually getting to the race venue. Instead of a quiet drive to 24 Hour Town in the early morning, it was frantic emptying the RV into a van, then trying to figure out what we needed to survive the weekend
I miss the comfort of a home away from home but not the stress of driving it!
Quick - take any team used to the comforts of a (motor) home during a 24 hour race, even an old bomb like ours. Then take that motor home away and throw them into a U-Haul van and WallyWorld tent. Remove the warmth and convenience of the box on wheels for an easy up, Mr Heater and camp stove exposed to the elements. Now, provide outstanding competition and expect them to perform at their best. What would happen? I don't know how most teams would handle that situation, but Nick and I pulled together and had a strong race.

Best Local Racing - Ascent Cycling Series
Even including races in Castle Rock and Denver, the Ascent Cycling Series still takes the cake for cost effective, low frills, quality racing. But don't let the laid back vibe fool you - any Wednesday afternoon throughout the summer, some of the fastest riders in the state will be there, ready for some action. With the addition of two Palmer Park Races and a Saturday race at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, the series was even more fun this year. I also got to continue writing this year - rambling about the races, training and other stuff. All those articles are here
Nick racing in the Ascent Cycling Series

Me racing in the first race of the Ascent Cycling Series

We didn't do as much racing this year as last year, which was nice. It gave me a chance to really focus on the events that mattered. One of those races has always been the 24 Hours in the Sage. Nick and I love that event - we've done it six year, winning co-ed duo all six years. Some years we've had some tight battles in the Co-Ed class, other years we've been racing the Duo Men. Regardless, we've always come in with the A-race mentality. Out of all the races we did this year, I think this was my best performance. Not because my lap times were super fast, but because of the mental strength I needed to keep riding. I felt like crap, wasn't eating or drinking and I still kept going.

This is New Mexico - it's supposed to be hot, dry and dusty! At least, it was last year. The day started out hot and dusty, but scattered showers moved in just before sunset. Then came the lightening - so pretty, but so scary, riding out in the middle of the forest with nothing but my lights and the intermittent flashes of lightening illuminating the trail. Then came the deluge and the mud and eventually the lap donated to the trail gods. The subsequent race hold changed the nature of the event - a 24 hour race turned into a stage race. Major props to Lindsay and the rest of the Zia Rides crew. It wasn't the best situation, but they handled it as well as they were allowed.

Race-ride Vacation Combo
We finally got out to 25 Hours in the Frog Hollow this year. The race itself was worth the drive out to Hurricane, with plenty of fun singletrack, a great descent and some rocky, difficult sections. But what made the week even better was the "no plan, go where the wind takes us" afterwards. We rode some new trails, rode some old trails, watched the sunrise and sunset. Off the grid, just us and our bikes and the map for the next days adventures. Combining a race and a vacation wasn't the smartest of plans, but it still made for a good week
Still love this view from camp and can't wait for summer to start all over!

Little riders among the big rocks of Moab - Nick on Slickrock

Focused on the white dashes of Slickrock

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