Adventure. Travel. Race.
I've always loved Bellingham. Tons and tons of trails. Lots and lots of rad people. Delicious food. Near Orca's Island. Close to BC. What's not to love?!
Anytime there's a chance to race in Bellingham, I'm in! This year, the Cascadia Dirt Cup returned for it's fourth stop to the Chuckanuts, just SE of Bellingham. Known for it's tech, and rock work, Chuckanuts is full of variety. No steeps, just pure tech on Upper and Lower Ridge, dodging rocks and weaving trees. Super pedaly Raptor Ridge, and fast, flow, jumpy/drops on Double Black.
This was a girl's trip. We all drove separate, but we all practiced together (in sort -- Thanks for the shuttle Porscha!), and giggled our way down the trail on race day. At the risk of sounding cliche, there really is something cool about a group of shredder ladies, and all that estrogen. Nothing but support for one another, sharing the stoke on trails and lines, knowing we all cared about race results, but cared more in the moment for each other and the experience we were creating. Like I said, a rad group of ladies!
Stoked to walk away with the win in one of my favorite places!
When it rains, it pours.
Registered, Excited, Prepped, and Ready to go, and had to pull the plug. Again.
This has been quite the few weeks, but family comes first.
Whistler, we'll be back in the Fall for the Fall Classic -- redemption!
EWS Whistler will have to wait until next year. Crushed to miss it after such a fun race last year!
White people problems are what you get when you work 55+hrs a week, when you own and operate your own business, and try to race bikes professionally as full-time as possible. KickStand Coffee & Kitchen (Hood River, Oregon) is our business to be exact -- It's a fun, 110 seat coffee bar/restaurant/cocktail bar in the heart of Hood River, Oregon.
As a full-time racer, let me be the first to say that at times it can feel near impossible to perform to my fullest, let alone train, let alone ride my bike. But there's something about racing that keeps me going, and reminds me in those moments, to "Go with the Flow". Even if the week doesn't go to plan, or training pan out as scheduled, that is okay. Business comes first and some times you've just got to be more responsible than you'd like to.
Back to the story... Capitol Forest is a riding area West of Tacoma, Washington, known for its more pedally trails, and recently sanctioned DH loamers. Having never experienced either, I figured why not check it out?
Friday: On the drive North from Hood River, I had my first #WPP. An employee was calling in for an evening shift Saturday and we had no back-up due to vacations. I pulled over, took a deep breathe, and considered my options.
A. I could turn back now, although I was most of the way to Capitol Forest, and cover the shift myself.
B. I could go ahead to practice, and hope for a change. If there was a change, I could race and not have to cover the shift myself.
C. I could go ahead to practice, and hope for a change. If there was no change, I would need to be back by 6pm Saturday evening.
I opted for Option C, and showed up for practice all stressed out (there was no realistic way I could be home by 6pm the next day), and frustrated. No matter how frustrated you are, riding bikes makes you happy. And happy I became, as friends and I practiced amidst the pedally XC dust bowl. I went into town for cell service, and got the best news of the trip -- said employee no longer needed coverage, YES! I just got lucky....
That evening I did my usual GoPro, make notes, eat pasta, stretch, and study notes, and faced my second #WPP: getting kicked off the end of a random forest road at 9:00pm by Forest Service for camping, and being told all roads in the area were closed to camping. "Campgrounds only" they said. Good thing they were full (sarcasm)! Turns out rolling solo as a young female pays its dues as a lovely couple at the nearby campground took pity on me and let me park the van in their campsite driveway. Thank you!!!
Race day came, and so did the 95 degree heat. There were only 4 of us girls, but we were a mighty 4, and set out for a full day of lady-shredding. Our first transfer was the longest of the day, involving only a smidge of hike-a-bike up a steep gravel road. From the top, we descended a total of 5000ft on the day, featuring little ole' me cramping near the finish of the last stage (third #WPP). I took this as a sign, and rallied home after a great afternoon playing bikes in the woods with friends. Turns out you can make it from Tacoma to Hood River in 3 hours flat, if you want to.
Here's to another great speedy weekend with friends!
EWS Aspen was always in the works. It was planned, we were registered, and up until a few days before we were to leave, cards fell out of place, and we had to pull the plug. Super bummed to miss EWS stateside this year, but as I mentioned before, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Everything happens for a reason, and this just wasn't meant to be.
Thanks to all my sponsors for their understanding.
1. Find your rad Santa Cruz friends (May I suggest the Furbee's)
2. Grab a sombrero or two
3. Pretend your a stud double
Oh, and don't forget your bikes!
Seven days off the bike, makes one weak (Week). Fourteen makes one even weaker.
After the Hood River CDC, my lungs quickly took a turn for the worse. After three weeks of misery, I decided it was time to investigate. Turns out bronchitis is a thing, and burning one's lungs racing, falling asleep snoring with your mouth wide open (pointed at the air vent) on a long flight home, followed by racing a few days afterward, is BAD.
Enter an inhaler one month later, and a big dose of oral steroids for a week. Two more weeks, and I was feeling a smidge better, but slipped backwards, as I kept trying to train. Concern for tuberculosis grew (international travel), however, a chest x-ray gave me the all clear, and the next day I was off to Idaho to try race the NAEC. Phew!
The North American Enduro Cup was a two-day event held at Silver Mountain, Idaho for its second year in a row, this year as part of the National Enduro Series, and also an EWS qualifier. Known for its variety of flow and tech trail, Silver Mountain is soon to be a well-known mecca for mountain bikers of all abilities. Outside of Whistler, it's hands down my favorite bike park!
After a long week at work, a quick six hour drive, and a sleepful night in the van, I was up to meet up with the one and only Kathy Pruitt for practice. Dust was thick and the air dry, making breathing difficult, however, it seemed to get easier by the end of the day. Most memorable was sending "Baby Swiss" a big(er) step down on stage 2 -stoked to see a sizable, scary feature on stage. There's nothing like a practice day that feels like nothing more than riding with friends.... really FAST friends.
Unfortunately, Kathy had a catastrophic incident and rolled her ankle, leaving her to exit the race. From here on out #irideforkp ....
Race day came, and my string of mechanicals started. Stage 1 made quick work (read: first 30 seconds) of my derailliuer and rear wheel, leaving me somewhere between wanting to sit in a corner and cry, and yell out in anger. Instead, I put a grumpy smile on and took the gondola up to the next stage, fighting back whatever number of seconds I lost, for the rest of the day. Don't even talk to me about breathing.... At the end of the day, I was impossibly, but truly, sitting pretty by 30 seconds. No way!
Day 2 featured Stages 4 & 5: one techier, and the other a top to bottom 20 minute descent of Silver Mountain.
Steady as she goes, and I managed another "W" aboard my Juliana/SRAM equipped Roubion. Big thanks to Chris King, Dakine, SMITH, Kate's Real Food, Dumonde Tech, Giro, Squish Dynamics, RE Sports Wellness, and more for all the love and support this year!
Huge thanks to my husband, Nick Hardin, for holding down the fort so I could represent #htfu in Idaho! <3
Race Recap: www.pinkbike.com/u/North-American-Enduro-Cup/blog/the-2017-cannondale-north-american-enduro-cup.html
See you on the trail,
There's nothing like getting off an international flight, going back to work running a business the next day (thinking it's night time, when it's day time), Oh, and racing bikes three days later! For Nick and I, this was a little bit of a stretch, but when there's a Cascadia Dirt Cup Enduro on local trails, you've got to represent! Even if your bike needs a full overhaul from it's latest Madeiran mud bath....
Post Canyon is well known for its expansive trail network and variety of trails. From old-school free-ride to machine built flow, Post Canyon has a little bit of everything. This year, it had been under snow until the week prior to the event, so trails only just opened up to bike access. The course went a little something like this:
Stage 1: Dirtsurfer to the creek
Stage 2: Lower Dirtsurfer to the road
Stage 3: Top of the World through Borderline
Stage 4: Antoines Ridge
Stage 5: 140 to the bottom
Stage 6: Mitchell Ridge
Deciding to sleep more than practice, we took one lap, and called it good. Whatever happens, happens, but we needed to listen to our bodies.
Turns out, the dirt was as tacky and perfect as we've ever seen for the area, and we rode pretty fast.
Despite a nasty lung infection I picked up on the airplane home, I managed to take home the chicken dinner, and Nick a 3rd place despite one "off" to avoid a volunteer on course. #htfu for the win!
Here's hoping for a quick recovery from the black lung before the next race.
Race recap: www.pinkbike.com/news/2017-cdc-post-canyon-enduro-recap.html
See you on the trail,
With a little over five months from the last time I took to the start in Transcascadia, the first race of 2017 came up all too soon -- we had a pretty rough winter with over 108" of snow in the town of Hood River between December and February. Typically, we get about 10" a year, so you can imagine the chaos that ensued in town for those few months. And training, don't even talk to me about training. Our winter training grounds were snowed in up until about three weeks before we left for Portugal, meaning most of our training time was spent indoors this winter, leaving us with some serious nerves before the first race of the year.
We arrived to the island about two weeks before the Enduro World Series to take advantage of some much needed R&R (and warm weather!), and get to know our bikes a little. Trails in the East (EWS race tracks) were closed when we arrived, so we focused our time on the west side of the island, where the reportedly "flow" trails were. "Jardim do Mar" was our home base, the Jewel of the Sea, known for it's surf waves, and sunsets. Jeremy of Bikculture was our guide for the first week, showing us all the island had to offer: Black Line, Red Line, Avalanche, Patrica and more.
Riding on the island is other-worldy -- Madeira is very mountainous, lush and volcanic, meaning there are microclimates everywhere! About every 200m, the vegetation and weather seems to change, and with it the dirt, and the level of tackiness. We would start up high in the fog, clouds spitting rain, as we dropped into a slick rock chute of a trail. This would then ease up and turn into treeless green grass/cow pasture (Keep your mouth closed!), with chunder rocks abound. We'd then strip jackets, and drop even lower into a Eucalyptus forest with clay for dirt. This clay was insanely slick, taking riders out left and right. Yet even lower, we'd hit the tacky goods and levada gaps, ending the day at the local poncha bar (Our new favorite drink: Fresh orange juice, rum and honey).
While we're on the topic, levadas are "open canals" developed in the early 16th century to distribute water from the rainfall heavy and wet regions of the north to the drier, sun-parched regions of the South. As you're riding along, you'll come across one of these levadas and either have a fun traverse along it to the next trail, or cross it via road gap - FUN!
A few days before practice started, we moved to the East side of the island, to Machico (EWS home base) and met up with the Santa Cruz Factory Team, for plenty of good eats, North island shuttles, go-cart racing, and more. Our two days of practice came and went, as did the rain, leaving every racer questioning their tire choice, as tracks were as slick as ice. The tracks were like nothing we'd ever ridden before in terms of dirt and terrain, as they changed so quickly within each stage as well as between stages.
Day One: Stage 1 was super physical, Stage 2 short, cake-muddy, and pedaly. Stage 3, "Porto da Cruz" was an ancient single track brought back to life by the event organizers. One of the longest stages, it began with about 1.5 miles of slick rock, with significant exposure along the side of the trail -- don't even try to touch your brakes here! Stage 4 was the last of day 1, and the first real stage in which we could make a turn -- steep and sandy through the Eucalyptus Forest.
Day Two: Stage 5 reminded me of Oregon -- the most hard-packed stage of the event, puddles, and plenty of lush ferns, then it got slick as snot. Stage 6 was short and sweet, with one steep, slick, muddy section, and plenty of awkward off-camber chunky turns near the bottom. Stage 7 was amazing -- wide-open, to rocky chute, to a road crossing and into the wet roots! About the only stage so far where I felt like home. Stage 8 was mind-blowing, with the trail traversing a cliff-edge along the Atlantic Ocean. Steep, loamy switchbacks opened into a fast riverbed-like trail near the bottom of the 8-minute trail. Stage 9 was just cool -- starting in people's backyards and ending right above the town of Machico.
Race day came and went -- transfers weren't too bad, and the rain held off. Stage 8 was my absolute favorite with the highlights of the day riding with all the lovely shredder ladies, immersed in local culture, and ending the day with Nick, all smiles, having completed another EWS! Thanks for all the love and support, Santa Cruz Factory/Allan/Jim!
Helmet, knee pads, gloves, check! The three must-have's to go riding. I guess you could toss in eyewear too.... If you're like me, you're always on the quest for a pair of knee pads that not only serve their purpose, but stay up, and are comfortable even on the longest of days in the saddle.
Enter Dakine's Slayer Pads. I've been riding in these pads since February, and gave them some serious abuse. I tried to destroy them, riding over 200 days through all weather conditions, tried to ruin them with regular washer/dryer sessions (over 150 times!), one too many Technu treatments, and more.... needless to say, they are still kicking, and still as comfortable as ever.
Comfort: I've tried a number of knee pads, and the CE-certified Slayer knee pad is one of the most comfortable I've ridden in. The DK Impact pad itself is a "soft" pad, that hardens up on impact, and is pre-curved allowing for all-day comfort. Lightweight and low profile, the pads feature a super thin "AriaprenePro" mesh (w/odor control technology!), of sorts, allowing the knee pads to breathe. Silicone cuffs keep the pads in place and secure even in the roughest conditions (hot/cold weather, rain, sand) and terrain (technical, bouncy, smooth, etc). Lack of velcro makes for a non-binding, comfortable pad that stays in place.
Fit: Just like any other knee pad, the pads do stretch a bit with breaking. Once broken in, the pads are money! The combination of the fit and silicon cuffs can make them difficult to get off at times -- better than slipping, I say!
Coverage: Good coverage of the knee itself, as well as some of the shin -- Just the right amount.
Durability: After a full season of use (February - November), including international travel and the associated lack of appropriate care when traveling, some around the house gardening, and a stint in the washer and dryer after more or less every use, I'm proud to say that my knee pads are still kicking after a long season of racing. Even though the silicone has "cracked" slightly and started to peel, they are still plenty sticky, and stay right where I put them. Considering they've got at least 200 days of riding, and 150 rounds in the washer/dryer, I'd say these Slayer pads are beasts -- I've tried to abuse them, and they just keep going!
Pedaling: The Slayer's fit snug around my knee, but do not bind when pedaling -- you won't even notice them when descending. You might notice them on an extended climb, but they are not uncomfortable, nor do they hinder movement.
Impact: I've taken some solid impacts directly onto my knee(s) while wearing these pads and walked away unscathed. In the gnarliest crash, I think I got a little cherry on me knee underneath the pads, but no bruising or actual gash. The fabric covering the pad is plenty durable-- it won't tear or rip with an impact. The "soft" Impact foam gives you the protection of a big bulky pad, but in a comfortable, low-profile package.
Warranty: 2 year limited warranty... What more could you want?
While you may be saying to yourself, "You ride for Dakine- you're biased", I chose to ride only the highest quality of product -- product that I can stand behind and count on as a rider and racer. I've been fortunate to try a large number of knee pads, and these are the absolute best on the market. Do yourself a favor, and treat yourself to an early Christmas present -- you will be stoked!
Don't forget, Dakine makes a Slayer Elbow Pad as well, same construction, comfort and feedback!
See you on the trail,
The Transcascadia is quickly becoming THE race.
It's an experience like no other: you're picked up and driven by bus with all your friends to some place in the woods you know nothing about, where hot showers and a gourmet chef are waiting for you (Chris Dimino of Chris King to be exact!). You're allowed a backpack, a rubbermaid, and a spare wheel set.
You spend the next four days camping, hanging out by the fire at night, dining on gourmet food, and riding the best trails the PNW has to offer, all with your closest of friends, old and new. This doesn't sound like you typical race does it?
Each day is a whirlwind of trails. Over 4 days of blind enduro racing (25-ish stages), the Modus Group takes you on the best trails the PNW has to offer: rugged fresh-cut loam, techy switchbacks, steep gravely chutes, lush-greenery lined tracks, and more.
This year, for the first two days, we stayed in the same location: Lake Timpanogas. Days 3 and 4, each night, camp moved: into Oakridge, then to McKenzie Bridge. Each evening, we were given cards on which we were told what the stages were for the next day, along with elevation profile, and stage mileage. All stages were blind, meaning we had no idea what we were rolling into as we dropped into each stage.
We experienced at least 4 trails a day, all RAD. You might be shuttled to the top, or you might climb you way to the top. In most cases, we were shuttled in order to maximize trail time. Not to mention in Oakridge, one climb transfer would eat up most of the time in the day, and make it difficult to see as much terrain. This race has the potential to be a logistical nightmare, but the fellas once again pulled it off without a hitch! (Are you getting a feel of how rad this race is? Good, cuz it's awesome!)
Day 1 : Lake Timpanogas (5 stages)
Day 2: Lake Timpanogas, MF Willamette, Moon Point, Larison Rock (6 total stages)
Day 3: Lawler (2 stages), Eula (1 stage), Grasshopper (1 stage)
Day 4: O'Leary (1 long stage), King Castle (1 stage)
After 4 days of racing, Transition's Rosara Joseph rode away with the win, followed by Meg Bichard and Kathy Pruitt. I rounded the podium with a 5th place -- happy girl for my first blind enduro....until next year!
The Modus Group/Shimano has this race on lockdown. Safety and First Aid is number 1, as witnessed by the EMS services located at key places on course, as well as at the top and bottom of various stages. Stages are well chosen, with fun, adventure, and challenge in mind. Food is delicious. Showers are hot. Transportation is made easy with good, clear communication and logistics. If you're looking to ride some of the PNW's finest loam, and have an adventure/experience along the way? Don't hesitate to register for next year's Transcascadia -- it's worth every penny!
Day 1: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/2016-trans-cascadia-day-1.html
Day 2: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/2016-trans-cascadia-day-2.html
Day 3: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/trans-cascadia-day-3-2016.html
Day 4: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/2016-trans-cascadia-day-4.html
Photo Epic: www.pinkbike.com/news/trans-cascadia-the-photo-epic-2016.html
Thank you for hosting on of our favorite races of the year!
All aboard, everyone! (Photo: Kevin Walsh)
Cool kids on the bus.... (Photo: Paris Gore)
Let the Party Begin! (Photo: Kevin Walsh)
Camping at TImpanogas Lake, Days 1 & 2
Fresh Wild Caught Salmon, thanks Chris King!
Up, up and up on Day 1 (Photo: Paris Gore)
Bekah Rottenberg sending the "Hot Line" on Day 2, Timpanogas (Photo: Paris Gore)
Long, lost Hood River ladies: Bekah, myself and Carolynn Romaine (Photo: Pete O.)
Somewhere on Day 4, I think? (Photo: ?)
Waiting for Stage 3, Day 2: Bekah Rottenberg
Day 1, Stage 1 (Photo: Paris Gore)