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

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!


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

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

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!


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

Weekly crit at The Lakes (aka Tuesday Night Worlds)

Every Tuesday night from now until the time changes again, there will be an unofficial crit race at the Lakes. This has been going on for years, but last year was my first time trying it.
I was more nervous for tonight's crit than I've been all year! It's not my fitness, it's my bike handling skills in a large group of road riders that I doubted. I was content to stay near the back and off to the side for most of the hour. I knew I was working harder than I needed to, pulling most of the time, never really jumping in the draft. But since I was using this as training ride and I don't trust myself mid-pack I was happy to be there. I loved chasing after every corner and bridging any gaps that formed, better workout for me!
We did 17 laps in an hour (truncated Strava file; so I could see average speed {27.3} HR {158} & distance {28.7}).  With my warm up and cool down, I ended up with 20 laps & 34 miles.
As Sam Shultz's twitter handle states: "I ride bikes around in circles as fast as I can at various locales around the world; for a job, life is good".  I'm not claiming to be nearly as fast as he is, and I still have my first job as being a mother, but other than that; ditto!

ProXCT #2 at Bonelli Park, California

Bonelli Park was another great race for me. Since I'd raced there last year and knew what to expect, my nerves were much easier to reason with. The course was super dry, to the point of being quite dusty (last year it was a bit slick). During my pre-ride I discovered that the cables had stretched (which is to be expected of a brand-new bike) and my chain was shifting off in the front. I begged the BMC mechanic to take a look, and luckily, she got it back into working condition. (Yes, I rely on the kindness of strangers frequently!). 
Race day was exciting, there were plenty of faces I didn't recognize and the regular front row wasn't there. {Since it's an Olympic year, everyone is attending all of the World Cup races, so the front row happened to be in South Africa.} 
ESI Grips are not only one of my awesome sponsors but they also sponsor the US Cup race series. Gary & Maria (the owners) were at the race showing off their grips. I got to catch up with them and Gary did my bottle hand up.  I was thankful to have a cheering & support section for me!
I felt good on the first lap, but realized how scorching hot it was and how I didn't have any water to pour on my back. Mid-way through the second lap the heated started to get to me and I wondered if I could finish this short race. Luckily, my friends that had raced Cat 1 that morning were watching the race and I yelled at them politely asked if they could pour water on me the next time around.  They found some ice water and ran to the feed zones to pour it on my back (true friends indeed!).  With my temperature dropping back down I was able to gain some ground on the last few laps. I ended up in 6th place, a little sad to have missed the podium, but happy to place so high in a national race.

Start Line

Erica & Kimberly (a smokin' fast Cat 1 racer!)

ProXCT #1 at Mellow Johnny's in Texas

The first real race of the 2012 season and first ProXCT are under my belt! Overall I'm happy with my race. I was called up 23rd (out of 24) and finished 15th (22 finished), full results here. I could see the 3 girls that finished right in front of me throughout the entire race. I emptied the tank trying to catch them and thought a few times I would.
The course didn't have much passing and no sustained climbs. It was quite rocky and technical. I'm really glad I had a chance to pre-ride and find good lines. There were rocks that were challenging to get up and over and if someone wobbled just a bit, the riders behind them would end up walking. That happened on a few different laps, but overall I cleared the rocks and sections I was a little nervous about. That's why I'm please with my result, the course didn't play to my strengths, but I maintained my calm and powered when I could. My bike performed perfectly, I was over the moon grateful for full suspension. The Rocky Mountain Team Element was THE bike to have on that course.
My short sleeve Kuhl kit hasn't come in yet, so I got to represent CarboRocket this weekend via my kit and in my bottles. (Same story next weekend at Bonelli Park- ProXCT #2).
To celebrate the fact that I was the only mother to toe the line, I took along my son's toy train log in my jersey pocket. He put it in my bag without me realizing it until I got to Texas! When I found it, I knew it was my good luck reminder for the race.
Shimano had neutral support in the staging area and I couldn't have been more grateful. During the pre-ride on Friday I realized very quickly my rear rotor was bent. They replaced it and my ride was smooth. But Saturday on my warm up the brake pads were rubbing, pretty loudly. With 20 minutes to call up I rode back to the Shimano tent and they rebuilt my rear brake in 6 minutes. Miracle workers I tell you!
I also found great generosity from the Team Giant tent. Kelli and I had ridden together recently, so I stopped by there to see if they had an extra air cartridge. (You can't fly with compressed air, so I've ended up buying air and leaving it unused with a local rider). The Giant mechanic let me borrow air & chuck taped together. Luckily, I was able to take it straight back to the tent after the race, unused!
It was a great weekend, as nice and smooth as I could have hoped for. Now it's time to rest and recover, 6 days to the next race!

10th Annual Frozen Hog Race

Friday night, around 9 PM, I was browsing through FaceBook and noticed there was a race the next morning just an hour away from Park City. I looked at my workout & it was supposed to be a "race-pace" day. So I quickly called a babysitter, filled up bottles and prepared to leave Park City at 7 AM the next morning. It was great, not knowing I was going to race, there was no time to get pre-race jitters or have any expectations.
When I pulled into the lot it was 17 degrees, YIKES that's cold! 
The race was a Le Mons start...not my style exactly. I was lined up in a good spot, but was out run by more than half the field, and getting onto the snowy single track was very slow, there was a line up, 15 bikers deep. I lost Kathy Sherwin before I even started to pedal. Lesson learned, get aggressive on the run or else I'll be stuck behind far, far too many people. I went down on the first lap on an icy section while trying to pass a guy in camouflage. Then I played it really safe, falling on ice HURTS. But by the 5th lap I was ready to be done and the snow was softening. I took a corner too fast and went down again. I'm now purple on the entire ride side of my body, but due to all the winter clothing I have no cuts!
It was a great race and a great way to start the season. My Rocky Mountain Element handled the terrain perfectly, it's going to be a great year!


The guy in front of me is going...going...going

And he's down!

Happy for the dirt section of the course

Erica & Kathy

Mount Charleston Hill Climb 2011

The Mount Charleston Hill Climb 2011 was a success! It was interesting and unexpectedly rewarding to be on the "other side" of a race. I thought I'd be frustrated that I wasn't racing, but I enjoyed all the logistics of getting everything  and everyone organized.
We had perfect weather and everyone involved was helpful and kind. I can't wait to do it again next year!
More photos, Race Results by Category, Overall Results

Where to pin your number
The babysitters!

Lined up and ready to race!

And they're off!

 Danny passed 22 people!

Matt also races mountain and cross bikes
At the top

Mens 50-59 Podium

XC Race at Northstar

Luckily I found a way to sneak in a race during the family reunion. I guess that's how I know it's a true addiction now, I look for a race wherever I go!
It was the Tara Llanes Classic at Northstar-at-Tahoe. I came in second behind Kelli Emmet. I haven't ridden much since to PCP2P so the first lap really hurt. I felt like I was moving sludge from my veins. I also left my suspension locked the whole first lap, on accident of course. Needless to say my descending improved for the next 2 laps. Once again, I'll mention that when I'm back to posting from my computer I'll link to results, my garmin file, and competitors blogs.

Park City Point to Point 2011

Full race report is now posted below photos.
Park City Point to Point 2011-the best race of my career! I placed second behind Kenda's Amanda Carey, undefeated NUE series winner, 2 years running. Behind me was Ergon's Sonya Looney. 4th place was Specialized's Rebecca Rusch, 3 time Leadville Champion. 5th Place Jenny Smith (Pro Xterra racer, 4th at Leadville this year).

Some articles about the race from the web:


Climbing Deer Vallley (Photo Chris See)
Finish Line (Photo John Shafer)

My Brother-in-Law, Carl Richards

Amanda and Erica

Amanda, Erica and John (Photo: Cycling News)

Amanda, Erica and John

Race Director, White Pine team mate, and friend: Jay Burke

Pro Women's Podium: Kelly, Evelyn, Rebecca, Erica, Amanda, Sonya, Jenny

Erica, Brad Keyes (Mr. CarboRocket himself) and KC

Racing is a mental game. A few weeks ago I told a friend that I was just going to have fun at Point to Point because there were so many fast women that were going to be there I didn't have much of a chance for a top 5 spot. He reminded me to stop bowing down to my fear and imagine being on the podium. So I did. My husband then told me I had to be top 3 no matter what. So I began to believe that I was going to do it. I started the race conservatively. I hopped on Rebecca's wheel I knew she'd have a good pace. She dropped her chain 10 minutes in and I passed her. I then sat on Evelyn's wheel for almost an hour. At that point I knew that Amanda and Jenny were the only ones in front of us. Then Kelly came blazing past and I just wanted to see how long I could hang onto her wheel. My sweet friend, Haley (who is 12 and KILLS it with the sport women) passed up a bottle to me at Snow Park. I knew she was super reliable and would find a good feed spot, and she did! It was a short climb to the first official feed zone. My support crew was standing in the White Pine Touring tent. Luckily, Jesse (an amazing mechanic from White Pine) threw my bike on the stand and adjusted my rear derailleur that had been shifting into my spokes. I grabbed a camelback, fresh bottles of CarboRocket  and was out of the feed zone in less than 2 minutes. Kelly and I started climbing Deer Valley together again and at one point we saw Amanda. I was concerned I was going to fast, but I felt good. Then I let a guy pass me on bowhunter and Kelly got away, but I didn't give up hope. I just knew I had a good pace and if I held it there I wasn't going to blow up. I didn't know if it would keep me in front of the rest of the field, but I knew if I pushed it higher I'd start to cramp. I ended up catching Kelly on TG. TG happens to be my favorite trail in the world. As soon as I started to descend it I was so stoked that I didn't hit the brakes. I sat on Kelly's wheel for a bit, but was getting anxious. I know that descent and wanted to rail it! She pulled over for me and I was gone! I suffered a bit through the trees on John's but I knew everyone else was suffering too. I was just psyched to get back onto the climb. Everyone hates that next climb, but I don't. I knew I could put time on the field behind me and I only had 2 women in front of me. If I could just hold it at a solid pace I could come in third. I tried to tame my climbing and excitement...the race was far from over. Shadow Lake came quicker than I expected and I was ready to roll WFO down into PCMR. There are a few climbs before Cresent Mine Grade descent and I remembered being cooked on them last year. This year I felt good so I knew I was going to at least beat my time. I rolled into PCMR so excited and had to tame the excitement and fear and joy of seeing friends and support.  I found my crew and stated my needs and was out in less than a minute this time. Someone lubed my chain, someone switched camelbacks and bottles and I do know that Jen H. helped me reload my coin purses with Elete and Sport Legs. She was the only person I was really aware of, I never looked up! Someone said second place was 2.5 minutes up, but I wasn't chasing. I was just trying to maintain. Next think I know I was climbing Spiro and half way up was Jenny. Once again I thought perhaps I was pushing too hard and I sat on her wheel for 10 seconds. Then I knew I had more...so I went. I was in second place. Oh my! I better keep this up! The new cut-section of Mid-mountain wasn't as bad as it was last year. I've ridden it a few time this year and knew it's not awesome, so I decided to just go as fast as I could to get it over with. Once I got to the Canyons I knew I had to hang on for one more climb. I was running low on Elete and CarboRocket. I started to ration for that last climb. But I still had Ambush to descend, and I flew down that trail like never before. I hadn't ridden Ambush since I had the Lefty and was thrilled at how much faster I could go because it just smoothes out the bumps. I hit the last climb and was suffering, but I knew everyone else was suffering too. I just had to make it ten more minutes and I would be fine. The very last descent sucks. There is no way around it. Hollys is the worst descent in Park City. It was loose and dusty and scary. But I survived. When I got to the last 4 switchbacks I knew I was home free. I could see the plaza and hear the music. As soon as I hit the pavement the biggest wave of emotion came over me. I rolled through the finish line fist pumping (probably screaming!) and then found a familiar face and collapsed in joy! My brother-in-law happened to be the one standing there, so he caught me. I was overwhelmed with happiness, I couldn't stop crying/laughing! Finally someone led me to a bench and gave me a cold wash cloth. I cleaned up and then did a quick interview for Cyclingnews.com. It was a banner day for me, I am more than pleased with my second place finish with that field of women.

Last Mid-Week Race of the 2011 Season at Solitude

For the last Mid-Week race felt really great and wanted to thoroughly enjoy my last short race of the season. I charged up the climbs and didn't hold back on the descents. I ended up with another win at Solitude. My parents came to the race and brought my son and a few of my neighbors too!
I would have liked to make it to all of the 12 races they put on, but I had scheduling conflicts with some. In that case, I ended up 4th overall in the series and undefeated (when I raced against the women {race #1 was with the expert men} and didn't have a mechanical...). I won $200 and the coolest wooden plaque.  I made some great new friends by racing this series and will definitely make it to all that I can again next year. Thanks Brooke, Cathy & Deb for volunteering/running the races!

Mom, Kirkham, Erica

Erica, Erika, Jenelle

Erica, Michelle, Jenelle, Erika, Roxanne

Mt. Ogden 50K at Snowbasin 2011

1st Place overall in the Mt. Ogden 50K at Snowbasin! I had to defend my win from 2010. Last year I had Heather Holmes as a competitor. I worked hard to stay in front of her. Then a week later she won Park City Point to Point 2010. A few days ago she won the 2011 Single Speed World Championships. Um...wow! 
This year all of my regular competitors were doing the 100K, so I executed this as a training race.  I put in much less effort because I didn't think I had any competition and I'm trying to save my legs for next week (P2P). My average HR was 11 bpm lower than last year,  145 bpm is pretty low for a race (Garmin File). But it gave me an idea of how much I can put into my 78 mile race.  I rolled across the line first, but a little over a minute later another woman crossed the finish line. I was shocked because I didn't realize anyone was near me. But I'm glad I didn't push any harder, I need all the help I can get for P2P!
This is a great race with amazing podium prizes (see photo below, I forgot to also show the $40 gift certificate to Kuhl) and huge payout for the pro field. They are super organized and it's really the best venue for racing in Northern Utah. I plan to hit this race every year!