Sunday, July 29, 2007

National Championships for Walking in the Mud (er...Mountain Biking???)

Well, just before Saratoga Springs, we went to the Championship race for the year. I easily qualified because all it takes is a top 10 finish at any NORBA race. Well, considering the fact that the biggest turn out I've seen this year in my catagory at ANY race has been at the most, 7 racers, I couldn't help but qualify. Anyone who entered in my catagory and age group (Sport women 19-29 yrs) quailfied for the National Championships. That same situation pretty much applies to every women catagory except pro.

So, let me just take a minute to rant about the catagory divisions. Considering the fact that there are 4 catagories for women (Beginner, Sport, Expert, Pro) and only about 10% of race entrants are women, that leaves hardly any girls to race against. But of course we cant race against the men because they are like another species when it comes to cycling fitness and speed. Anyways, then they go ahead and divide us up by age group as well, so not only are there 4 catagories, but about 50...Beginner Women under 18, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, etc. If anyone who actually makes any decisions about this happens to read this post, PLEASE consider just doing away with the age divisions all together! It doesn't actually make you feel like you accomplished anything when you get on the podium and get a medal at the awards ceremony for getting 5th place in a field of 5 girls!

So that's how I felt about this race. I got 5th out of 6 girls. One away from DFL (dead f---ing last). So, I didn't even bother going to the awards ceremony for my medal. This is my starting line-up:

Compared to Lyle's:

See, they're a little more sensible with the Semi-Pros because there is no age group divisions with them. All ages are combined.

Anyways, back to the race report. I was in Vermont pre-riding the course for a whole week before the race. It rained every day but only for a bit and stayed ridable despite the mud. The course was sweet and fun and technical, and I'd gotten it to the point where I could ride almost the whole course.

Then, come Thursday, the rain really hit:

That picture was taken while I was sitting in the car procrastinating my Thursday pre-ride for the last time before my Friday race. With the rain pouring down, all my previous pre-riding was useless since the trail completely changed character. All the lines I'd picked through the technical sections were now the wrong ones. I was riding through rivers, not trails. Little did I know that was much better than it would be on race day.

By the following morning the mud had dried up slightly to be super sludgy and slippery and peanut-buttery but really deep. Here's a typical section of trail after the conditions had improved quite a bit:
The mud completely destroyed my front deraileur within the first 10 minutes of the race. Then, coming up to the muddy uphill singletrack, since I had been used to actually riding it the earlier days, I kept trying to get on my bike and ride it. But it was impossible to ride and I ended up getting further and further behind the front 4 girls who had dropped me earlier. I was wasting time getting on and off my bike. When I finally figured out it was much faster to get off and walk it, the girl behind me in 6th had caught up and then shortly after, passed me. As I was slogging through the mud, I kept thinking "umm...isn't this supposed to be a mountain BIKE race???" After cresting the hill, I decided to just ride it for fun and not be disgruntled and miserable, and ended up passing the girl who passed me just by riding the singletrack descent. So, I got 5th out of 6 and a ruined derailieur.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Saratoga Springs, baby!

Yesterday we went to Saratoga Springs, NY to ride with John. It was such an awesome trail system!!! Really technical but almost everything was rideable if you put your mind to it. There were non-stop roots on every inch of trail but it was dry and in good condition. There were even little wooden bridges like you see in pictures of north-east riding. And there were lots of little logs lying across the trails to ride over. That's the first time I've tried riding those. We don't have that in CA. It was fun! If you want to try out some awesome, epic riding, go to Saratoga Springs. After the ride Lyle and John were even talking about buying a "summer house" there.

Anyways, I know I'm behind on posting. I'll put a post up about the race soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Some More Vermont

We went out riding today and just happened across a complete trail system through the forest just minutes from where we are staying. It deserves some more exploration if we get time.

Here is a typical Vermont "back yard":

(See the horses in that photo--everyone's got 'em! I'm so jealous.)

A cool wall:

More local wildlife:

I will definitely be getting new tires before the race. It's been raining daily and the already muddy race course is getting muddier and muddier. Imagine riding through slick mud on these tires!


Saturday, July 14, 2007


Well, we're here in VT, and holy crap, the riding is intense! It is so lush from all the rainfall, that there are so many roots which are fully exposed on the trails. It's some of the most technical riding I've seen. At least I have a week here to get used to it before racing on it.

I'm seeing tons of wildlife which I never see in CA. For one, there was a groundhog that popped up two feet in front of me on the trail as I was riding. I know of their exsistence, but had never seen proof before coming out here.

Also, I'd never seen fireflys before this trip. Pretty cool. Today there was a fully polka-dotted fawn with it's mom. And some kind of tiny brown snake with an orange belly and a little yellow diamond on the nape of it's neck. (If you can help identify that snake, post a comment.)