Migration complete

Well friends, I've migrated south again. It was hard to leave the crisp air & hero dirt in Park City. Fall was just showing up with all of it's smells and colors. We are back in the heat of Las Vegas and desert riding is now in season. It was also time for my son to start preschool!
I haven't ridden the trails at Blue Diamond since April so I was stoked to get out to the stark landscape and different riding. However, the trails have changed! There was a huge rain storm a few weeks ago, the most rain since the 1930's (don't quote me, this is just what I was told) and many of the trails are washed out, or at least portions of them.  There are hardly any smooth sections left. All the fine dirt was washed away and now there are just fist size rocks in the trails. The bridge under 160 from the Cottonwood parking lot is so full you have to get off your bike to get through it! I've still rode out there 3 times last week, but it's different. It may take a while to get back to smooth trails.
I finally feel like I recovered from PCP2P. Naps aren't required anymore and motivation is coming back.  Now it's back to the planning stages with Coach Lynda!
Thursday evening ride


Saturday sunrise ride (eeek! a cactus is eating my bike!)

Pinecone Trail in Park City

There is a new trail in Park City and everyone has been talking about it. The Pinecone Trail has been dubbed the "Gem of the Wasatch".  It is accessed from Mid-Mountain or from the new Armstrong Trail. My family and I arrived at 2:00 AM Saturday and a few hours later John & I were pedaling up to see what all the fuss was about. The Pinecone Trail lived up to all the hype. It has amazing, thick aspen stands, cleanly cut trail and perfect switchbacks. The rest of our 4 hour ride was equally fun with a stop at the bottom of the Ruby Express lift to refill water bottles. John finally got to ride part of John's trail for the first time. We finished the ride with a climb up Crescent Mine Grade and a descent down Spiro. I rode cautiously on the descents, I'm still a bit gun shy from my crash. However, I have a few lift-serve days on tap so I'll be back in the groove in no time!

Climbing the Pinecone Trail

Top of the new Pinecone Trail (junction with the Wasatch Crest)




John's Trail!
Water bottle refilling at Ruby's Express

Shhhh!

Ummm, I have a confession. I rode some dirt. 5 weeks from my broken ribs and not supposed to hit the dirt until 6 weeks. It was not intentional, at least in the beginning. We were in Flagstaff, AZ for the weekend and I planned to ride the Snowbowl Road to the ski resort. I parked at a gas station a couple of miles before the road I was going to climb so that I could get warmed up on the flats.  But on the way I saw a dirt road, and thought I'd explore it. Then there was a trail marker in front of some single track. I thought "I'll just try a few hundred yards and see how it feels".  Amazing is how it felt. I was immediately in the trees.
The call of the wild was too strong. The need for solitude, adventure, exploration &  quiet trails drew me in so forcefully that I couldn't turn around. I've been seeking these moments for as long as I can remember. As soon as I could drive, I started exploring the canyons of Salt Lake City. I hiked every single trail in Millcreek Canyon and the majority of the peaks along the Wasatch Front before I graduated from high school. Most of the time I was alone. I still have my map little paper map of Millcreek canyon from 1994 with all the trail names crossed off. 
So, as I rode through the trees on the Fort Valley trail system, I took the music out of my ears and just breathed deep. Enjoyed the fact that I was riding on dirt, that I was hearing birds chirping in the wild and that I was breathing cool, fresh air. It has been too long. The trail wasn't amazing. The descent is called Rocky Moto. I walked a lot of it, not because it was technical, but I was just being super conservative until my 6 week mark when my ribs will be "healed".  This ride filled my empty wilderness bucket. I finished the ride in the best mood I've been in for...5 weeks! The very end of the trail crosses the Arizona trail and I ran into a group of riders there that took my picture for me-just proof that I made it out there!  Hallelujah for mountain bikes and bones that heal!



The photo I texted my hubby to break the news that I was riding dirt before I was supposed to.

Solitude in the pine trees

Beginning of Rocky Moto

Junction with the Arizona Trail


Utah State Championships

I'm so excited to have won the Pedalfest at Deer Valley on Saturday-I'm now the 2012 Utah State Champion! Honestly, I was probably more nervous for this race than any other this year. Last year I had my worst race on this course. This year, I wanted to race my best. I was born and raised in Utah and this felt like the year to be the Utah State Champion, so I worked hard to get it! I pre-rode the course 3 times and memorized every corner, I can tell you exactly how many switchbacks are on every descent.
On the start line was last year's Champion, Kathy Sherwin, Katherine O'Shea (2nd place last year) and Jen Hanks. They are all seasoned pro racers that are also good friends of mine. I'm honored to line up with them. It was a 7 mile course with 3 laps. That meant that we'd have to climb "Little Stick" 3 times, so I tried to conserve a little each time. I took the lead right from the start but worked really hard to temper my climbing so I wouldn't burn every match on the first lap. I caught the Expert 40-49 men at the top of Little Stick on the first lap and had to sit behind them most of the descent. I was convinced I was going to be caught, so I drilled it on the next few climbs. The second lap I got stuck behind some more from that group but tried to stay patient. The third lap was eerily quiet. There was no one on the descent until the very end and then the guy I caught ended up sticking with me the rest of the race. I finished with a 6:25 lead, and my hands thrown in the air! A few minutes after finishing I had a filmed interview with PCTV, then after the awards The Park Record interviewed me. There will be another post about this race with more photos and links.

The best part though, was that my entire family was there. My husband, son, parents, both siblings, nieces, nephews, and all of the in-laws; including parents, siblings, spouses and children. It was so terrific to have everyone there supporting me and cheering for me, every time I rolled past them it was just a wave of cheering and yelling-and I soaked it up! I couldn't do all of this racing without all of them. All of them babysit for me frequently. They are all patient with my need to train every day and my nutrition neurosis. They understand when I don't want to stay out late and they understand that this is my dream.  My racing career happens because of their support and there is absolutely no way I could do it without all of them. I give my endless thanks to the best family in the world.





Stan Crane Memorial (ICUP # 6) at Corner Canyon

This is the third year that I've raced the Stan Crane Memorial. In 2010 I experienced chain suck for the first time, it cost me the win, but the race was still valuable. On the start line one of the expert women told me that I should move up to the pro category. I was taken aback, but then it gave me the fire I needed to race well. I passed a few pro women and was in the lead before my chain suck. It was frustrating but gave me the confidence  needed to move up to the pro category.
Then in 2011, I was comfortable in the pro category and ready for a fun race.  However, with all the mud and what ended up being a crank with warranty issues, I had the worst chain suck ever. I couldn't even pedal the last lap. I rode my bike like a scooter for the last 7.5 miles and finished off the back by 30 minutes.
2012 went much better than 2010 & 2011. My bike worked perfectly and I felt pretty good for the whole race. We raced a different course than the past 2 years, it was similar to USCS Super XC from last year. The majority of descent was new cut trail; very bump, but it will be fun once it smoothes out. Fun swoopy turns and banked corners.  Lots of people were complaining about sore arms and hands from the bumpy trail, but honestly, my hands and arms were fine. I'd attribute the majority of that to my awesome ESI Grips! I finished in 1st place with almost a 3 minute gap. It was great to finally have a good race on that course.
When I walked up to the podium one of the girls said I should lift my bike over my head. I love a dare, so went for it! Ed, the race director, said something about my 18 pound bike over my head on the microphone. So I had a couple people come over to lift up my Rocky Mountain Vertex. It's probably closer to 19.5, but it still feels super light and is no problem to lift over head!


KC, Megan, Erica, Jen

XXC Magazine

My writer/editor/kick A mountain biking friend, Heidi Volpe, interviewed me about Camp Lynda for XXC Magazine. It's a cool little digital publication that takes a slightly different approach to talking about racing and riding. It only costs $2.25, but if you only want to pay $1 he'll still give it to you. I love to support people that are following their passion and trying something different (like a digital downloaded magazine).
(Here are my original posts about day 1 & day 2  of Camp Lynda.)





Mid-week Mountain Bike Race at Round Valley

Now it's officially summer! When we start racing on Tuesday nights I know it's summertime. These are some of my favorite races, because they are so low-key and local feeling. The Mid-Week Mountain Bike Race Series is put on so well that their numbers seemed to have almost doubled from last year!
To make it even better, my sister raced her mountain bike for the very first time! We pre-rode the course on Monday so she could feel comfortable with it and I talked her through a few things. She got 9th in the beginners! Her son also raced for his first time and he won the 10-12 year old category! I won the pro/expert women's category by almost 2.5 minutes.  My parents and son came out to watch everyone so we ended up with a great family night!


Sprint Finish!



Sisters!

Hammerfest at the Hollow (ICUP #5)

We had perfect weather for the Hammerfest at the Hollow. Last year we raced there twice and it was so muddy that I had serious chain issues. I chose my Rocky Mountain Vertex since the course was big power, steep climbs and not many tight corners. It was really heating up by the end of the race and my Lazer Helium helmet continued to have great air flow and my Julbo Pipelines never fogged up. The 3 laps totaling just under 26 miles went by really fast. I rolled across in 1st place with almost a 3 minute lead and a smile on my face!
Photo credit: Kay H

Photo credit: Kay H


Sundance Spin (ICUP #4)

It was another great day to be racing in the mountains! We had perfect weather and the course was in great condition. Team Kuhl had a big showing with lots of us ending up on the podium. This is one of the courses I had in mind for my Rocky Mountain Team Element.  I wanted the 26" wheels for the tight corners you find at most ski resorts (such as Sundance and Deer Valley). The full suspension bike performed exactly how I wanted it to! It was also the first time I had a chance to race my Stan's No Tubes Podium wheels, they are so light and responsive, I couldn't ask for a better set of wheels. It's a good thing my equipment was working so well because my body wasn't feeling awesome. I  still finished in first place with a smile on my face!



Early morning start
Pedaling to the win!
Jill, KC, Erica, Kelsy

Trailside Bike Park

Trailside Bike Park is a great place to practice bike handling skills. My friend, Whitney, has mad skills on her dirt jumper & DH bike.  She races Super D and other free ride events. Today she took some time to ride with me and show me some fun stuff at the park. The first picture is her, getting high on the wall. The next few are me, getting more brave each time! The first time I was sketched out and then I got the hang of it and wanted to go higher and higher. I'll be back for more work on the wall and pump track very soon!
Whitney

Erica

Erica

Erica

5-Mile Pass (ICUP #3)

13 minutes into the race I flatted. I thought I could fix it in 2 minutes and get back on the course and be fine. It is 33 miles after all, so 2 minutes wouldn't be that bad to make up. I put some air in my tire, started to ride again and nope, the hole was too big. So I got a tube out, it was a 26 inch. That's OK, they can work with enough air. Then I broke my tire lever. I couldn't get the tire back on the rim. Rookie mistake, under prepared, silly. I couldn't even roll my bike back. So I walked (and ran at times, I was delusional I could make it back and finish all three laps...) back 2.5 miles while carrying my bike. 2.5 miles is a lot farther than I realized, especially with 2 full bottles on my bike. I wore a hole in my CR sock:( and the muscles in my shoulders are the sorest they have been in years from carrying my bike. Back at the start line, I turned in my tag and told them I was a DNF.  My friend patched up my tire and off I went for one fast lap, I needed to burn the calories I'd consumed with the expectation I'd be racing for 33 miles.
Frustrating day because I felt good, was ready to race and didn't get to due to bad decisions on my part. I've gone over all the scenarios of what I could have done differently many times. Luckily the hard lessons learned were at this, a local race. I'm determined to not have to "learn" those lessons again!

USCS Alpine Crit XC

The first Utah State Championship Series race was the Alpine Crit XC at Lambert Park. This new series is done so well and has such a great payout ($215) that they get a huge showing. It's fun to see a new (this is the second year) series be so successful. All the people that run the show are avid mountain bikers and love doing it.
I had a great race, taking the win always feels good! It was 4 laps, totaling 13.3 miles. So short, but super intense! I thought it wouldn't be very technical but it was true XC racing, just short laps. I drilled it right from the start line. It was a steep climb from the gates but didn't last too long, so I wanted to gap the field before the descent and hold it. I gained about 15 seconds per lap on the field winning by a minute.  It was a really strong field again, Kathy, Jen, Emma and KC.
The temperature was finally perfect to race in a skinsuit. It makes me want to race CX just so I can wear the skinsuit all the time, it's the most comfortable race attire I've ever worn! It's easy to feel fast in a skinsuit, I'm hoping for at least one more cool weather race to wear it to. I also had a new pair of Julbo glasses that were so light I never even felt them. Plus they are blue-how rad is that?!?!

Jen, Kathy, Erica, Emma, KC




Finish line fist pump


Dry trails in Park City

It officially feels like summer; 24 miles in single track in Park City with friends! We rode trails on 4/25 that were covered and unrideable until mid June last year. I'm stoked the conditions are great this early this year!
I'd been neglecting my Rocky Mountain Element because the last few races were more suited to the Vertex. I'd forgotten how much I LOVE the dual suspension and smaller wheels. It is undoubtably my choice for Round Valley and perhaps for the majority of the Park City trails. The smaller wheels get around the tight switchbacks so quickly.
Erica and Christie




Sea Otter

Sea Otter was tons of fun again this year. I was able to relax and enjoy the experience much more. Just knowing where to park, register, stay and eat made it much easier. Last year when we drove over the hill and saw all of the tents and the race track and the thousands of racers I was overwhelmed (in a good way). Also, lining up with 5 national champions (USA, Candian, Italian, Czech, Swiss), the world xc champion and many other world cup racers wasn't nearly as intimidating. I'm used to seeing all of these amazingly fast women and I'm also used to a last row call up. I don't think about it anymore. I know points and line up position have little to do with results sometimes. This time it was true too, I finished in front of a first row call up! I placed 14th,  (results) which is much better than the 21st place that I got last year.
It was a much different format than most of my races and from Sea Otter last year. This year it was one 20 mile loop (versus the multiple lap format). There was only one feed/tech zone and to get to it was about a 6 mile walk or ride. My husband and 3 year old were not prepared to do that (quite understandably) so I ended up taking two 24 oz. bottles of CR333 with me. The other concern with the race was the heat. My garmin recorded an average temperature of 95. Weather.com said it was in the 80s, but it felt much, much hotter. I warmed up with stockings full of ice in my jersey and started with ice in my jersey and my gloves & jersey soaking wet. At all 3 feed zones I dumped water on me and it was just enough to keep the heat at bay. The majority of the course is wide open and baked like an oven. I felt great the whole time, left enough to push on the climbs at the finish and rolled through with a smile on my face! My Rocky Mountain Vertex was the perfect bike for that course, the bigger wheels rolled through the few ruts and sand traps easily and the hard tail gave me all the power I needed for the climbing.

The bulge on the top of my back is ice! It melted 5 minutes into the race!

 


Bear's Best

Saturday morning started out cold and rainy so the group ride I was planning on fell through. At the last minute I found out Mike & Fred were going to Bear's Best so I joined them for a really fun morning! Mike owns Eye Gear Sport Optics, they have the best selection of performance glasses in town.
CarboRocket sent a restock as well!

Erica & Fred during the brief sunshine

Restock of CarbRocket landed on my porch too!

Cactus Cup (Intermountain Cup Race # 2)

It was the inaugural Cactus Cup as part of the Intermountain Cup Race series. It used to be the Cholla Challenge in Hurricane, but this year it was a new race course. I expected it to be really similar to Red Rock Rampage since it starts and finishes in the same area, but it was VERY different.   It was super rocky and more technical than ever before. We got to climb and descend plenty of slick rock and it was a blast!  I felt great for the entire race. I sat in on the first lap so I could see the whole course and took the lead on lap 2. I finished 3 laps in 1st place with a 47 second lead. We had a very strong field out there,   Erika P, Jen, Kathy, KC & Emma. They are all great women and great friends of mine! I'm stoked that race season is in full swing now!
Here is an article about Saturday's race.
Erika, Jen, Erica, Kathy, KC, Emma