Monday, October 31, 2011

Product Review - 2011 Orbea Carbon Terra

Seeing that I've been racing almost every weekend since the cyclocross season has started and now I'm sidelined once again by the evil Epstein Barr Virus, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to share with you my thoughts on the Orbea's newest carbon Cyclocross ride! As you can tell right of the bat, this is one gorgeous bicycle! From the colors to it's sharp lines, this is without a doubt, a serious eye turner. Not only is the frame a beautiful looking product, the engineering and construction of it is also spectacular. Created with Silver carbon, the bike is extremely light and perfectly rigid for the ultimate race blooded rider. The ATT Ergonomy System technology took all things cyclocross into consideration and gave the bike an asymmetric horizontal frame design suited for ease of carrying it on your shoulder. All cross racers know how difficult it is to properly lift your bike up and place it correctly on your shoulder while your heart rate is near 200 BPM, but with the Terra, you have no worries. The frame design makes it much more comfortable and makes running up those stairs is that much easier :)

Along with the brilliant frame shape, the designers also routed all of the external cables to the right side of the top tube for yet another ergonomic feature when shouldering the bike! Lastly, along with all of the new Orbea's, the Terra incorporates the new GORE cable housing throughout the bike. This housing is perfect for the CX racer because we all race in a variety of conditions and it allows the cables to remain smooth and debris free no matter what the weather is like. There's nothing like getting a gunked up cable and not being able to shift during a super muddy race and the GORE housing will completely prevent that from happening.

We all know that Shimano has the most reliable products on the market so I went with an Ultegra 10speed shifting setup with an 11-25T cassette. Since Shimano's CX components will not be released until 2012, I'm running an FSA SL-K crankset with 46/36T chainrings and feel as though the gearing combination is perfect. A lot of people choose to race on a single front ring set up to avoid dropping their chain but I find having the gear options is much more advantageous. I prefer to use the same Shimano XTR pedals that I use for mountain biking for reliability and ease of getting in and out of no matter what the conditions.

Until all cross bikes convert to the disc brake system, in my opinion there will never be the perfect cantilever brake. These brakes are extremely finicky to setup and never seem to work worth a damn in any other condition except when it's dry with zero dust :) Can you tell I have beef with CX brakes?!? Coming from a mountain bike background, I've been spoiled with unbelievably great working hydraulic disc brakes so it's difficult to switch to the polar opposite and I find myself forgetting how different they are when racing! However, like everyone else, I cope and have found the Avid Shorty Ultimates with Swiss Stop yellow pads to be the best working combo for both carbon and aluminum rimed wheels.

Wheel and tire setup might possibly be the most important part to a successful cyclocross race. Most competitive racers want to run the lowest tire pressure possible to maximize traction while braking and cornering. Each second you save in a corner is multiplied by the hundreds of corners on the course. The preferred setup with most racers is a stiff, lightweight carbon wheel in conjunction with a tubular tire filled with sealant. On the plus side, without the use of a tube inside the tire, you don't have to risk any pinch-flats.  However, unless you have multiple sets of tubular wheels, you have to choose a suitable tire that you won't have to change throughout the season as gluing and ungluing tubular tires is NOT fun! For my personal race wheels, I've chosen to the Vittoria Cross XG Pro tire that is multi-directional (at least for the front wheel) for a choice of tread pattern. Colorado doesn't have too many mud races so it's overall the best option for my specific race terrain.

My training/pit wheel setup, however, has multiple options. The Shimano Dura-Ace C24 wheels have a tubeless ready rim (similar to mountain bike rims) so you not only have the option of easily changing the tire for various conditions, you also have the option to run the setup without a tube. Although the tubular setup allows you to get away with a slightly lower tire pressure, the tubeless setup is a great alternative and may even be a bit lighter!

All in all, I couldn't be happier with my 2011 cyclocross rig and have nothing but great things to say about how Orbea has gone about constructing this phenomenal bike. If the Luna Chix are winning World Cup and USGP races on it and I can manage a podium here and there in the Colorado series, I don't think anybody would disagree :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Team Timex Adopts a Road

The Boulder crew of the Timex Multisport Team committed to adopting a 2 mile stretch of road for the next 2 years. As adopters, we are required to do multiple clean ups a year so today we did our first round! Although half of the ground was covered in snow, we were all amazed to see how much trash there was and how much more efficient we could be with several more people.

We managed to fill up twice as many bags as we thought and had a blast working together to give back to our amazing community. We plan on inviting more than just Timex team members next time so we can clean up double or triple the amount we did today! Great job team, it's so great to be apart of such a fantastic group of people :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hello Winter!

Life was all fun and dandy with everyone enjoying all the beautiful fall colors until...

Wabam...we woke up to this view and a crazy snow storm this morning! It was in the 60s yesterday then this arrived out of nowhere.

The snow was really wet and every tree still had it's leaves so the combination led to a lot of droopy trees and a lot of broken branches. Bryce parked the van under one of the willows in our complex and like a lot of other vehicles, it got a little beat up! Oops.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ahhh, such a relief!

It's really scary to think that only 4 years ago I was a fully functioning person without a smartphone. Once introduced to the Blackberry, I was 100% roped into the concept of having all my emails on my phone. After upgrading to the iPhone, I couldn't imagine my world without it! I know it's pathetic, but it's true. After dealing with my crappy Blackberry for 2 weeks, I finally received my new iPhone 4S (courtesy of my mother's upgrade) and have been  absolutely loving it. I did, however, learn the hard way that trying to save $15 on a case by ordering it online was 10 times more of a hassle then actually just spending the money in the first place and paying for convenience. Let's just say I'm still trying to find the package with USPS and have since gone out and spent the original amount on a case so I don't break another phone!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Blood Test Results

First and foremost, I want this mug! I don't think I would ever get bored of drinking my coffee out of it every morning :)

So the EBV results came back ''equivocal'' meaning they are between positive and negative. How that's possible, I don't know. However, I do know that my actions can greatly influence which way the virus sways so I've been put on another ''take it easy'' period so that I don't relapse the EBV or Chronic Fatigue. What that means is incredibly vague and I'm not quite sure how to handle it. I took it easy for 9 months last year and I am now finally starting to feel like an athlete again...I don't want to rest! I also found out that my iron levels are quite low so hopefully with some supplements and midweek rest I can still hammer out a race or two on the weekends. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Some ups and some downs

This past Saturday was the 2nd Colorado Cross Cup race in Longmont at Xilinx. Bryce left really early to drive down to Colorado Springs to ride moto with the boys so I was flying solo for the day. I woke up feeling really groggy and after a solid breakfast I really didn't feel much better. I rode out to the race with Flora and although I wasn't feeling much better, I wasn't feeling any worse. After registering and doing a few laps, I was on the fence about racing as that 'delirious-like' feeling just wasn't going away. In the end, I slammed a caffeinated gel and decided to just go for it and pull out if I started feeling really crappy. 

Go figure that after getting the 2nd call up, I screwed up the start because I totally missed my pedal...duh. After getting onto the singletrack, I immediately started making my moves and made my way into 4th where I battled back and forth between 2nd and 3rd over the next 3 laps. There was a barrier section where you could either bunny hop (which was faster) or dismount and run and since I was the only one bunny hopping the section out of the 3 of us, I was able to take that 2nd position each time. However, I would always fall back to 3rd when I had to dismount and jump over the massive barriers on the back side of the hip does NOT like that!

Knowing there was a good chance I could podium, my adrenaline was high and the thought of not feeling well never crossed my mind until half way through the final lap. It was like a switch inside me had simply turned off. I got super dizzy, completely fell off the pace of the other 2 girls and somehow soft pedaled to the finish in 4th where I immediately saw Flora and asked her to hold on to me as I was about to faint. We went directly to the medical truck where I spent the next 30min then got a ride home with some friends and went straight to the hospital to get my blood tested for a possible relapse of Epstein Barr. My symptoms were identical to what happened originally and Tingle (my roommate) just found out she has it too. 

After the way I felt on Saturday, I would have never thought I would wake up Sunday and feel almost 100% normal. My stomach was a bit upset but otherwise the dizziness and deliriousness had completely gone away. There was another Colorado Cup race in Louisville that I had intended on doing but I wasn't so sure it was the right thing after Saturday's insanity. I decided to just go up there with Shelby to show her how to mount and dismount on her new CX bike then make the call at the venue. After a chill warm up and an easy lap, I didn't feel weird so I decided to give it a go and again, just pull out if I felt at all off.

The start was pretty intense but I kept my cool and let the faster girls by and picked off the ones I knew I could withhold. The course was extremely fast and drafting was a huge factor. The 2 girls that I rode with yesterday quickly got off the front and for the final 4 laps I led a train of girls behind me. I had to dig deep but I was able to hold on to 3rd and get back on the podium and win a bit of cash :)

Regardless of my place, I was ecstatic to have finished feeling worked and not dizzy. I should hopefully have the bloodwork back today or tomorrow so fingers crossed that I just had an off day or it's just an iron issue. Huge thanks to everyone out there cheering and hugs to Bryce and Shelby for being a great pit crew.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My mechanic will be proud!!!

After using James' Craftsman corldess inflator at the Ft. Collins CX races last weekend, I didn't even think twice about ordering my own :) Thank You Sears.

Tire pressure is so important in mountain biking, moto, cyclocross, etc., and having an automatic digital reader has no monetary value (in my opinion). Our pumps are never accurate so this will be a huge change from the ''squeeze test'' we normally do and it will hopefully give both Bryce and I an added advantage in our various races!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My first UCI racing experience!

This past weekend was the US Grand Prix New Belgium Cyclocross race in Ft. Collins. I've never done a UCI sanctioned race so there was a lot of preparation in terms of purchasing my license from USA Cycling and pre-entering for Saturday and Sunday's events.

I knew the weather wasn't looking so hot for the weekend but I wasn't expecting 37 degrees and pouring rain at all! I've never raced CX in those conditions and although I was excited, I was a little nervous too. After a solid warm up on the trainer under the Breeze Bars tent, I was able to get out for a lap before the actual race started. It was then that I knew it was going to be an absolute shit show and a test of who could stay on their bike for 45min. Since I don't have any points, I didn't receive a call up so I was one of the last people to start out of 50ish girls. The first lap was an absolute debacle of people crashing all over the place and my frustration levels were so high that I just shut it down and decided to just try and stay upright and save my legs for Sunday. I'm usually a good technical rider but between not being able to feel anything on my body and having slick tubular tires, it just wasn't my day! After a hot shower, it took me hours to clean up my bike and gear but I was finally ready to rock and roll on Sunday. Big thanks to Bryce for being a trooper in the rain and pitting for me :)

I'm still unsure how the race course was completely dry as a bone on Sunday but I'll take it! The weather was a mere perfect 57 and sunny and the crowds were out in full force. Again, I had to start in the last row but did my best to move up as quickly as possible. Bryce was out racing moto in Nebraska so I was flying solo for this race but I couldn't believe how many people I could hear cheering for me. I absolutely love the Colorado CX scene and no matter how your race is going, it's so fun to be out there.

I had a great experience and excited to have been just outside the top 20 of 47 on Day 2 with a crappy start position. Colorado is hosting another UCI event Oct 29-30 at the Valmont Bike Park so I'm excited to see if I can get some points for Nationals so I can maybe get a call up! I have to thank Annette at Mountain Moon Photography once again for getting some incredibly awesome shots!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Although I had some bad luck and a terrible race on day 1, I got a rad photo in the Cycling News Race Report!

Day 2 was a little better but not great but managed to hit the photo album again in Cycling News! Race report for both days and more photos coming soon!

Friday, October 07, 2011


As I'm sure you saw on a previous post, last weekend I left my iPhone on the roof of the car and drove off. Let's just say it is in no fashion eligible for any kind of "warranty'! Although I was able to hook up my phone line to my old Blackberry, it just wasn't the same. Once you go to an iPhone, there's no going back. The bad news was that I wasn't eligible for an upgrade until October 2012 and if I wanted to purchase a new iPhone, it was going to be at full price ($750). Luckily, my parents had an eligible upgrade on their plan and my mother was beyond kind enough to let me use it instead of getting a new phone for herself. So today I ordered the new iPhone 4S and I'm very excited to finally have a functioning and user friendly device arrive on October 14th. Mom, I owe you big time, THANK YOU.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mountain Moon Photography


I'm sure most of you have been wondering why and how I've been able to post such spectacular mountain bike and cyclocross photos over the past year. Annette Hayden, photographer at Mountain Moon Photography, has a passion and hobby for taking pictures and comes out to every mountain bike and cyclocross race she can. She takes phenomenal photos and is beyond generous with distributing them out to each of us athletes. So next time you see an amazing image from a cycling race, you know where it came from :) Enjoy a few shots below from this past weekend's races in Frisco.




Monday, October 03, 2011

My Momma's Colorado Visit


On Thursday evening, my mom flew in from Michigan to spend a long weekend with Bryce and I. Since I was planning to race on both days over the weekend, we had a relaxing day on Friday with an enjoyable walk to Whole Foods for lunch. Apparently my mother never comes home with enough pictures so every 5 minutes Bryce and I were asked to pose for another shot....hehe, I promise I was only annoyed at the time :)


The first Boulder Cup Cross race was on Saturday in Frisco so we headed up after breakfast on Saturday morning for the 12:10pm start. This was a big race so there were A LOT of people up there to race and spectate. I haven't been able to kick this stupid cold, but I decided to race anyway and give it a shot...45min of 190+HR at 9000+ft, it couldn't be that bad!


Since I wasn't in the points for this series last year I didn't get a call up so I was forced to play catch up and really push it during the first few laps to grab my position. Luckily, I was able to get in a few great surges during lap 2 and move my way into 3rd and remain there to the end.

Although I couldn't stop cackling, spitting, coughing and snotting (yes, gross, I know), I was absolutely thrilled with my finish considering the stacked field and jazzed to be standing on the podium with Allison Powers and Rebecca Gross. 

Since Sunday's race was also being held in Frisco, we were all invited to stay up at Bryce's parent's place in Vail and celebrate Bryce's 27th birthday on Sunday. As always, Momma Bingham made us several homemade birthday cakes which were amazing. We'll be eating them for the next week for sure :)

As great as the weekend was going, I unfortunately had to put a damper on that. I accidentally left my phone on the roof of my car while packing up to head to the race on Sunday morning and as it was flying off the car on I-70, I realized I had left it up there. It definitely took a few tumbles and I'm sure about a dozen or so vehicles ran it over but I still went and found it. That's 2 iPhones down in a month in our household...bummer. Luckily we made it to the race just in time for me to get dressed, registered and do lap of the course.

You know it's going to be a rough day when Katie Compton rolls up in her Stars and Stripes jersey and you're still hacking away from Saturday's race, however, it really wasn't as bad as I thought. I tried to stay tough for the first lap but settled into 4th behind another girl I had beaten on Saturday and stayed there to the finish.I just didn't have it in me to gap the 20 or so seconds she had on me and I wasn't too worried about the girls behind me. I definitely worked hard but my knee was super sore from that dumb crash in Buena Vista so I played it smart and just did my thing. Brent and Barbara were out there taking photos and the usual crowds were cheering loudly and it made for a nice ending to a fun weekend (minus the phone debacle).