Saturday, July 30, 2011

Out of the ordinary

After an extremely busy week, Bryce and I hopped on a late flight Thursday evening to attend my cousin's wedding back in Michigan. Although it was a very quick trip, it was so great to see all of my family and friends that we haven't seen in almost an entire year. My grandparents who live in Climax also took time out of their schedule to drive out and hang with Bryce and I on Saturday afternoon and take us to the airport on their way home :) It was the first time in MANY years that I put on a dress and heals so I was extremely out of place, however, the fun and gorgeous wedding made all that awkwardness disappear! Congrats to Jessica and Christopher on their marriage and thanks for such an amazing time!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Time for some physiological testing!

Yesterday I went into the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine to have my first Lactate Threshold and V02 test done since February of 2009! Coach Neal is a man of numbers so not having these tests done in almost 2.5 years just shows how long it's been since I've actually needed informative data to properly train! Since I'm only racing the bicycle these days, both tests were done on the spin bike to find out at what wattage my muscles begin producing lactic acid and ultimately max out.

The graph above is a generic view of how an LT test looks on paper. The harder it gets, the higher your heart rate goes (blue line) and the higher the amounts of lactate appear in your blood levels (red line). Considering my ridiculous couple of years, I was actually fairly pleased to see where I was. It's definitely in a solid range for a professional cyclist and for the beginning of the cyclocross season and I can only imagine it will be much higher from the intense racing in the fall. The V02 test was okay except when my claustrophobia kicked in during the final stages and I had to stop earlier because I was about to freak out! It is so hard to breath with a giant tube in your mouth and an awkward contraption on your head while trying to go as hard as you can! Haha. Either way, the data was good and it's a great starting point for more detailed training in the future!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A fun, yet productive weekend

There are definitely perks of owning your own home, but there are also several downsides as well! We're learning quickly how much work it involves but truthfully, it's worth it :) This past weekend was one of our only free weekends of the summer so we decided to get some of the unpleasant house work done. After a fun hike at Betasso early Saturday morning, we tag teamed the various chores. While Bryce cleaned the windows (in and out) and screens, I was busy tackling our bathroom and bedroom as well as wiping down every shelf in the fridge/freezer. We cranked out lots of other misc housework even though it was over 100* outside and we unfortunately lack AC in our place! Regardless, it was a good accomplishment and rewarding to finally have it done.

Sunday morning we went up to Nederland with our dear friend Tom to do some mountain biking before getting more items checked off the to do list. Although I was a little bit of a mechanical mess, we still managed to have a great time.

During our numerous trail side maintenance sessions, the boys made sure to remind me how lucky I was to have 2 very talented mechanical engineers on my ride...blah, blah, blah :)

After getting back from our ride, we slammed some food then headed directly to the garage for a night's worth of moto and bicycle maintenance. While I cleaned bicycles, changed tires, fixed brakes, and spewed brake fluid everywhere (unexpectedly), Bryce was tearing apart my dirt bike and replacing bolts, throttle cables (see above) and radiators (see below). I'm not exactly the easiest on my toys :)

Luckily, my issues didn't take up the whole night and Bryce was able to get several things done his own bikes too. After the world's coldest shower, we were both asleep within seconds. Although it was an exhausting weekend, it was extremely productive!

Friday, July 22, 2011

West End 3K Stretches

Last night, Barry Siff, Christine Anderson, Brian Schaning and myself helped out at the West End 3K which is the second race in the Run Boulder series.

Before the main event, there is both a kid's race and a mascot race.

We helped lead the warm up and stretches for over 125 kids so they would be ready to jump off the line like little rockets!

It is always so much fun to ride your bicycle downtown for an evening of good mingling and lots of smiles. Boulder truly is one of a kind :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why I have been racing my bike so much...

Let me begin with rewinding a few years back. In November of 2009, I not only had my second knee surgery of the year, but I also fractured my pelvis from a really silly cyclocross crash. Many of you got to see me wear a seatbelt-like girdle to help it heal during the winter months of 2010. When I returned to training, running was the last to be incorporated into the mix and it honestly never felt quite right. I was somewhat able to run in May and June but then I got struck with Epstein Barr and Chronic Fatigue in July that left me on the couch until February. Although those 8 months might have been some of the hardest times I had to go through both mentally and physically, I was really excited that I was finally going to be able to heal up my pelvis and be 100% structurally ready to go when the doc gave me permission. As I eased back into exercising, swimming, biking and walking were definitely the first things on the agenda as my body was nowhere ready to endure the impacts of running. However, things progressed well and I was able to start doing several walk/runs and eventually made my way to the track in late April. I hadn't had any signs of pelvis pain until the first time I did a few openers. It was like deja-vous all over again with the same exact pain in the same exact spot. My first reaction was to completely ignore it and believe it was all in my head. After getting extremely sore, I took a few days off from running and attempted an easy jog which didn't bother it in March/early April and made it only 20min before I absolutely broke down into projectile tears. Not only was it extremely painful, but I couldn't believe this was happening when I was finally starting to feel healthy after 2 years of surgeries, injuries, illness, etc. I JUST WANTED TO RACE XTERRA!!!!!

After several good discussions with my coach, family and friends, I decided to take the next couple months off of running and focus on the most important part of XTERRA which is the mountain bike. I planned on attempting to run again in July to see if the pain was still there then go forward with another MRI to reveal what the true problem was if the pain still existed. Deep down I really hoped there would be no pain but alas there was and back to doctor I went to have another 8 inch needle jammed in my pelvis then into the tube for lots of images. As the hip specialist predicted, I have a tear in the labrum (see above) as well as a possible separation of labrum from the bone itself (see below) that most likely happened at the same time of the crash but just never found. They say that pain in the groin with a snapping noise suggests something is torn or loose inside the joint or possibly a muscle is snapping in front of the joint itself. Pain that is sharp, stabbing or has a catching sensation in certain positions may be due to a torn labrum or an impingement. Sometimes a torn labrum will make a loud clicking noise. So they pretty much nailed it to a T.

What does this mean? Sometimes a labral tear can be repaired with minimally invasive surgery using an arthroscope. Other times, there may be a fracture or the socket itself may need to be deepend or re-positioned by dividing the bone around the socket. Unfortunately, either surgery will require an overnight stay in the hospital with a 4-6 month recovery period. As much as I want to be able to run right now, I am not mentally ready to be injured and out for another season. I can get by with minimal pains when riding my bike so I'm 100% okay with being a bike racer for a bit until I am ready for the big surgery. It is definitely not my #1 choice, but the women who are at the top of the XTERRA circuit came from a mountain biking background so I guess it's not a bad thing :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finally...A Race Win!!!

After a full week of being tortured by my friends for going to race and not doing a big epic ride along the ridge-line of Vail, I stood my ground and kept true to my plan of racing. I am so glad that I didn't buckle as their ride was mostly in 4 foot snow drifts and I actually found my racing legs for the first time this year during this past weekend's race!

The Breck 32 is one of 3 races held during the day in the heart of Breckenridge, Colorado. There is a 100 mile race that does 3 loops, a 68 mile race that does 2 loops and a 32 mile race that does the most fun and technical loop. Since my endurance is almost non-existent these days, I opted for the shorter distance since I knew it was already going to take longer than 3hrs to complete!

I had been told about how fun this loop was so I was actually REALLY excited to get on the race course and see what it was all about. We began on a road section that went uphill for a short bit then quickly ducked into some epic singletrack that went straight up through the trees and around several steep switchbacks. I had managed to pull away from the women's field on the paved road and never looked back. The 100 miler and 68 miler had started before us so it was a bit tricky trying to get past the racers that were pacing themselves for a much longer distance race. However, most people were really nice and just let me go by. As you can see from above, there was A LOT of climbing...and a lot of descending. It was by no means an easy day, but I can assure you that there were more smiles than there were suffer grimaces :)

I knew that we were doing a huge moto ride the next day and assumed I had a large enough lead, so I decided to cruise the final section to the finish. I definitely did not fuel nearly enough and was on the early stages of bonking so I wanted to be sure I didn't go too much in the hole. I can get away with not fueling properly during a 90min race but I need to learn how to get it together for these 2hr and 3+hr races. I'm having a hard time consuming when my heartrate is so high then before I know it, I'm on the verge of bonking and totally unable to consume. My goal for the next race is to nail my nutrition regardless of the outcome of the race...gotta learn somehow!

Not only did I have a great race, but so did Bryce. I call him my little mutant...he works his butt off all week, doesn't touch his bike but once a weekend to race with me, then just absolutely crushes it. He not only beat the next guy in his class by 40min, he was in the top 10 in an very competitive race! I'm sure you can only imagine how nuts it makes me :)

As with most weekends, we cannot get away without a fun dirt bike ride in the high country! It was in the 90s in Boulder so we grabbed our good friend Tony and rode up to the treeline and played on the most amazing singletrack for over 4 hrs!

Life honestly doesn't get much better than this!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Product Review - 2010 Orbea Carbon OIZ

Although the current trend in the mountain bike industry has been all about 29 inch wheeled bikes, it's imperative to not forgot what a sweet machine the 26 inch dual suspension truly is. As a matter of fact, I like to call that sexy 2010 Orbea Carbon Oiz above, my secret weapon! Living and racing in Colorado, I'm constantly climbing extremely steep, rocky and technical terrain for hours on end. After testing both the 29er and the Oiz on the same trails, I think that for a person 5'4'', the 26in 'dually' is the absolute perfect all around ride. Check out the features below of ultimate race ready bike that is guaranteed to knock your socks off!

I should probably start with aesthetics of this gorgeously stealth looking bike! The black carbon color combined with the sleek and integrative frame design is a total head turner. I know the built-in fender on the down tube looks cool, but it's also incredibly effective and really helps shed a lot of mud. Same goes for the small fender behind the rear wheel. It's not something you'll see on any other bike and everyone knows that a shock full of mud is never good so protecting it from flying dirt and debris is exactly what it is designed to do.

The Suspension - it's almost impossible to go wrong with the Fox RP23 rear shock! The 85mm version on this bike is spectacular for cushioning and absorbing rough terrain. It allows the bike to ride comfortably and reduce the fatigue on your body as you plow through jarring trail. My favorite component of this shock is the ProPedal function. With a flip of a switch, you can eliminate the ''bob'' while climbing or on flatter terrain from having the suspension semi locked out. It gives you just enough 'cush' to keep the ride comfortable while staying stiff enough and allowing the rider to be as efficient as possible. I also have to mention how nice the pivotless design is. It is so simple which requires very little maintenance and saves quite a bit of weight as well!

The Fork - The Rock Shox SID XX World Cup might possibly be the best all around cross country fork on the market! With 100mm of travel, a hydraulic remote lockout, a carbon steerer/crown and BlackBox Motion Control, this front end is a high end racer's delight. It delivers stiffness with the when the trail gets tough for complete efficiency but has total plushness for a smooth ride. What could be better?!?

The Motor - I guess you could say that I'm technically in charge of producing the power, but the mechanics of how the OIZ flies on the trail are all in the Shimano XTR Hollowtech II Crankset. Although it doesn't incorporate the newest technology of 10 speed, this 3x9 drivetrain can get the job done...and well! The 44-32-22 chain combo in conjunction with an 11-32T XTR cassette provides an array of gears that work perfectly for the various and steep terrain of the Rockies. The shifting is flawless and smooth which gives added confidence with racing and riding. Add an XTR pedal on the 170mm crank arms and you have a devine set up to crush it on any mountain!

The controls - I generally prefer to run an extremely wide bar but the 660mm Orbea Carbon riser handlebar couldn't be more perfect for XC racing. It's light, stiff, has just enough rise/sweep and works great with my favorite ESI Super Chunk Grips. To compliment the XTR shifting, I am running the 2010 Shimano XTR hydraulic disc brake setup. These brakes are powerful, consistent, have a great feel and EXTREMELY reliable - all things an XC racer needs! With a Specialized Phenom 130 saddle for sheer comfort and a 90mm Orbea OC carbon stem for precise handling, I'm not sure what else I could do to make it better :)

How the OIZ rolls - Mavic calls the Crossmaxx SLR Disc wheels ''The reference wheelset in Cross-Country''. Not only are they are extremely responsive to fast accelerations, they are lightweight and high quality wheels. They aren't the lightest on the market but they are durable and reliable which is a component I would rather have any day in a mountain bike wheel. There's nothing worse than braking an ultralight wheel during a race and not being able to finish. Attached to these rims are a set of the Maxxis Ikon 26 inch cross country tire. Unless it's a total mud fest, you will find this tire on every one of my race bikes. Great in almost every condition, this tire acts just like velcro and makes cornering way too much fun.

I'm still recovering from some health issues in 2010, so I'm not 100% on form but the races I have brought the OIZ out to, I haven't been let down. Since the OIZ was truly my 2010 race bike, I contemplated selling the black beauty earlier this year and boy am I glad I didn't! There is definitely a time and place for the Alma 29er, and it too has been extremely good to me, but the OIZ is the ideal bike for my riding style and the terrain in my area. If you're in the market for a new mountain bike, definitely demo as many different bikes as you can and take into consideration the majority of trail in your area before you purchase solely based on a written review :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Drive, Race MTB, Drive, Race Moto, Drive, All Done!

After a late night of bicycle and moto maintenance, grocery shopping, packing and organizing, we woke up early Saturday morning to drive up to Winter Park for another mountain bike race. Bryce opted out of this one since his moto race on Sunday was more important, but it was game time for me. During my warm up I didn't feel that great, but truthfully, I hardly ever do. However, I toed the line for my 10:16am race start ready to rock and roll.

We were assured that the 24 mile race length was accurate (last race was almost 6 miles longer than we were WP XC Super Loop race report for details on the epic bonk) so I planned my nutrition accordingly. The starts at the Winter Park races are always straight up a steep fire road which sets the tone for the race and just plain hurts. I jumped onto the single track around 4th place and felt really strong. After a few back and fourths with some girls, I found myself catching 3rd place around halfway and was really pumped. She eventually passed me back but knowing who the girls were up front, I was stoked to be sitting back in 4th. I maintained my place until the last few miles when I began to fade. I got passed about 2 miles from the finish then again less than a mile from the finish. I finished 6th less than 10sec behind 5th, 50sec behind 4th and 2min behind 3rd in a 2+hr race! With absolutely no base mileage this winter, I know that my endurance is lacking, but nonetheless, I'm pleased with how my fitness is finally starting to unfold.

I can't even begin to describe how amazing the trails were. This was a point to point race from the ski resort to Fraser and it couldn't have been any more fun. Bryce rode out to the finish with a cold coke which put the biggest smile on my face EVER. It was also nice to get in a solid 40min spin back to the van before hitting the road for a long drive to Sidney, Nebraska.

After a fun dinner at the local steakhouse in Sidney, we both crashed hard and woke up ready to play on bikes with motors. Now it was Bryce's turn to be on the stage and rip it up :)

The above video is the first of 4 laps for Bryce. It was a super dry and dusty course but there were some really fun and technical sections with logs and big tires :) The pro guys also had a final moto at the end of the race. Unfortunately, Bryce had a bad start and lost several overall spots due to not being able to see at all during the whole moto. However, he did finish top 10 and gained some decent points for the series.

Although, I was exhausted and it was super hot, I was able to pull off the W for the ladies class. I had a few spectacular crashes and am super sore now but as always, I had way too much fun :) Just another typical ''Erin & Bryce'' weekend!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

More Global Trainer Demos!

Wednesday evening was scheduled for our 3rd Global Trainer Demo at Runner's Roost. This time we were headed to the Denver store in the heart of the city. Although it is a mere 35min drive without traffic, we hit some major construction and it took over 1.5hrs to get there :(

We arrived 5 minutes after the club runners took off, defeating the purpose of the demo, but we set up and decided to do a big Q&A instead.

There were well over 50 people there for the run so Denny, Will, Trista, Brian, Christine, Wendy and myself ran through all the various functions and features of the watch and programs that go along with it.

We rescheduled the ''demo'' for the first week in August and as everyone walked out, all we heard was that they can't wait to see us next time!

Along with tons of great questions on the Global trainer, we had a lot of interest in the Timex Race Trainer Pro as well as the new GPS watch that will be launching later this fall. Although the runner were unable to physically try out the product this time, they loved being able to touch/feel/learn about it and get hyped up for the August 3rd Demo :)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Another Epic Weekend!

Although our 4th of July weekend got off to a rocky start on Saturday with Bryce forgetting to bring his helmet to the moto track and me blowing up during a hard road ride, we pretended that didn't happen and drove to the mountains for 2 more days of good fun!

After a stellar meal at Vista, we hit the hay and woke up refreshed and ready for a killer ride with some good friends.

We ventured up to the first section of the Beaver Creek XTERRA course then continued up and up and up. It looked a little like the graph above!

We eventually made it over 10,500ft and it was amazing. It definitely wasn't easy getting up there but we all made it and enjoyed some seriously fun singletrack descending on the way down. Big thanks go out to Tyler for playing tour guide as well as letting us come lay out by the pool after the big adventure!

Later that evening, we had yet another delicious meal at the Bingham's then hiked up to the top of their neighborhood to watch the fireworks. We had planned a big moto ride for Sunday but called it a bit short since we were really tired then relaxed the rest of the day. Another great one in the books :)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Global Trainer Demo - Runner's Roost Louisville

On Wednesday evening, I was joined by Trista, Denny, Will, Barry, Wendy and Christine for another Timex Global Trainer Demo. This week's demo was at the Runner's Roost in Louisville.

We had an incredible turnout with a lot of eager runner's looking to test out the new GPS watch.

Around 4o people came out for the run and with 7 Team Timex members around, we were all able to give a little one on one instruction and attention!

Having the opportunity to interact directly with the consumer has been really beneficial. Each person has different questions and learning curves with technology. We've had many thanks and positive feedback for coming out and spending the time we do with each person!

Just like the last demo, we had the runners download their data into Training Peaks so they could see all the various ways to analyze their activities and training. It's also fun to show them how the Device Agent is used to input all of their personal information rather than having to do it directly on the watch face. They LOVE that :)

I'm pretty sure the gentleman in the blue was completely sold on the Global Trainer. He came with an older Garmin model and left asking where he could find the best deal on a Timex!!! Hooray :)