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Archive for December, 2012

The Best Day

Absolutely beautiful trails.

Lackwanna State Park

As it does every year, Christmas came and went with the blink of an eye.  So much anticipation, so much prepping and then boom, it’s done.  I must say that this Christmas break has been my favorite as it has been filled with watching Christmas movies, seeing friends, family and of course mountain biking.

Since the snow is here, I have mixed emotions; I love it and hate it.  I love to ski but, holy cow have prices gone up and it’s just not worth it this year.  So, my skis will hang for the season most likely.  Anything more than a few inches makes it tough to ride my bike on trails without cursing at it along with the snow. Riding in snow makes me feel like I have no ability whatsoever.  There isn’t enough snow to snowshoe so, what do I do to get some cardio?! Certainly not run on the road because, well, that just sucks, so, off to the woods I go!

I threw on my best Under Armour gear, my wool cap and laced up my Saucony Kinvara summer trail sneaks and headed out to Lackawanna State Park.  Such a gem that is so close to us.  I parked my PT Cruiser in the snow, sat for a few minutes, prepped my GPS, Pandora and honestly, sat and debated if I wanted to run or not.  “Just go, you’ll warm up and like it. You would also like to go home and snuggle up on this cold afternoon too,” I thought.

My Saucony Kinvara trail runners.

My Saucony Kinvara trail runners.

I started running much faster than I should have, but anything to warm up in the 28 degree, raw weather.  Within about 5 minutes, sweat was dripping from my cap, my hands were sweating and this turned into the best day ever.  I have a lot of best day evers and it usually occurs in the woods.  Suddenly, on the ground, tracks are spotted.  A deer? A rabbit? Nope.  A Mukluk! My run followed these fatbike tire tracks up and around the normal loop where I ran into, not literally, the Mukluker having his best day ever experience (shout out to Steve!).  He couldn’t believe how great the bike rode in the snow and talked about how he wasn’t even struggling with the bike on the technical stuff.  Off he went and on I went with my run and the next 10 minutes, I was wishing for a Mukluk to ride to get my fix.

Hunting mukluk tracks.

Hunting mukluk tracks.

All in all, my run was 3.5 miles at a decent pace in the snow.  This was the run to get me going and starting to trail run again.  Snowshoeing will happen as we get more snow, but a run in the woods clears my head, keeps my cardio up and works those muscles I fail to usewhile riding.  With the snow having landed, people will stay inside, wish there was more to do…well, there is a lot to do.  The get up and go part of it is the hardest, but when you get out, it could be the best day ever.

Happy Trails!

The infamous, terrible self portrait.

The infamous, terrible self portrait.


Happy Festivus Christmas Hanukkah!

Whether you celebrate by lighting a Menorah, decorating a tree or putting up that aluminum pole, the holidays are a great time of year to spend with the ones you love.  Most of the year is spent by me wanting unnecessary things and whining about how I can’t have something.  I need to realize that I am lucky and should be grateful for what I do have; health, family and a wonderful circle of friends.

I hope everyone has a great holiday season and is able to enjoy it with people they love.  Be safe, give love, air those grievances and don’t forget to ride your bike 😉

Trolley/xmas bike ride.

Trolley/xmas bike ride.


2013 Toasted Head Racing

I have been wanting to write this for the past 5 days but with our internet being screwy, it was not possible.

As some of you may have read last weeks post, it was a great weekend in Manayunk.  The weekend was topped off with our team meeting for the upcoming season at the very modern Cadence Cycling and Mutisport shop.  I feel like I can’t even call it a “shop” as they offer some high tech performance services, mechanical services and more.

I love being a part of a team.  It’s great to have everyone be supportive, see each other at races and create new friendships.  This year, I was asked to be a part of Toasted Head Race Team.  It didn’t take much thought to say, YES! After talking to Steven, one of the managers of the team, I knew that him and the other fella’s were trying to make this team be known and support the racers.  The team is sponsored by Toasted Head Wine which is based out of Yolo County in California (www.toastedhead.com).  Their wine is amazing if you have not already tried it!!

Toasted Head!

Toasted Head!

The team’s other sponsors include, Cadence Cycling and Multi Sport, Cannondale, Gaerne Shoes, Oakley, Infinit Nutrition, Back Country, VIE 13 and most recently, Osmo Nutrition.  Check out these products as they offer amazing prodcuts for athletes.  Teams are made of sponsors and their support is great and appreciated! The manager’s of the team really have organized everything and have made this team possible and I know we are all truly grateful.  I am very excited about this season and after meeting all of the cool people who will be a part of this team.  We will all be taking part in some NUE races, MASS races, Ultra CX Series and some crazies will do the Dirty Kanza!!! We will race, represent and have fun!!

The 2013 roster includes:

Men:                                                                                                      Women:
Steven Hecht (manager)           Mark Elsasser                               Cindy Copley
Daniel Rapp (manager)             Scott Green                                   Cati Scheifele
Jake Wade (manager)                Jamie Huber                                Jocelyn Linscott
Matt Morrison                             Shane Walters                              Erica Yozell
Geoff Butler
Zachary David Adams

Here’s to a future of a great season ahead (raise glass full of Toasted Head *clink clink clank* and drink)

Cheers!!


Love. Ride. Respect.

This past weekend was a bittersweet experience.  Friday brought the world to tears with the horrific event that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  This made me reconsider heading out for what was going to be a fun, bike riding, care free weekend.  Imagining what the families must have been enduring, I felt such guilt to go have fun, ride bikes and laugh with friends.  Although, the feelings were there, we went on and followed through with our weekend plans.  Being with our family and friends is always important and it was the best thing to do this weekend…..and always.

Saturday, running late as usual, Jack and I drove down to Manayunk to meet up with our buds to ride Wissahickon Park.  Thanks to the turnpike, we have about an hour and forty-five minute drive there, not too bad.  We’ve been there before but never got a good feel for the place and how to possibly map out a ride.  Our wonderful ride leader, Hope, was kind enough to lead with a great pace and show us a map of where we were and how the trail system works.  It’s quite a gem being so close to the city as there is climbing, swoopy single-track and gnarly downhills filled with rocks and roots.  It’s a great place to go for a nice ride on the rails to trails type near the river or head on up to the single-track in the woods.  Seriously, such a fun place to ride at! The weather was in the upper 40’s and sunny, quite the perfect day for mid December.  Everyone rode well and everyone had a fun time which was great! Our post race meal consisted of a pizza joint that kindly served us the greasiest food known to man.  I won’t brag about the unhealthy eating too much as I will mention below about my kit…

Suz killin' it on her new EMD hardtail.

Suz killin’ it on her new EMD hardtail.

Sunday was the day of Bilenky Junkyard Cross.  I have heard about the race, I have watched videos and thought, “hell, I can do that.”  I don’t own a cross bike so, it was me and my EMD.  It only seemed right to have some sort of quirky outfit to wear so, I wore some tight jeans, a cut off plaid shirt and some high ride socks.  I was dressed nothing compared to some others and the less I stood out, the better.  Being more of a reserved girl (yes, I think I’m reserved), the atmosphere was eye-opening to me…fun…but, eye-opening.  Riders and spectators were drinking PBR, cheering, cursing and having the time of their lives.  I will be honest, I stood there, took a sip or two of my friend’s Stoudt and thought I was a bad ass.

I watched the men’s race and after about 2 hours of watching them race, the women were up.  My buddy Karen stood up front, next to Selene Yeager and waved me to line up front too.  “No thanks,” I told her.  This was all about the experience for me so sitting in the back just riding the course was fine enough for me.  The guy counted down and off we went through vans, over cars, through a single-track of car doors and trailers.  The biggest scene was going through the front loader and down the ramp into the boisterous crowd cheering and jeering everyone on.  Although some pictures I’m in, I look petrified, I had a blast! I could not stop smiling the entire 3 laps.  I didn’t win, I have no idea what place I was in but I had fun…mission accomplished!

Singletrack of car doors! Smiles!!

single-track of car doors! Smiles!!

Made it through clean!

Made it through clean!

Down, through and down!

Down, through and down!

Life can be so unexpected with things, sometimes good, sometimes  bad.  It’s important to live and grab hold of any experience that you can get.  I spend way too much energy bitching and moaning about my life and how cruddy I think things are and can be.  I need to realize that my life is great and I have friends and family that love me and who support my choices to race, ride and be excited about running over cars with my bike.  With the tragedy in Connecticut, we will all have a heavy heart for quite some time.  Let’s put our strength and focus on those that we love and those that we can help.  Give back, make a difference and reach out to others in need.

Thank you all. Enjoy your ride.

The wannabe bad ass.

The wannabe bad ass.


Dressing for the Cold Rides!

Well, it’s about that time of year when skiers are wishing for snow, riders are wishing for…well, it doesn’t really matter to us!! It’s really difficult when the cold weather hits and we need to remember how we dressed last year for cold weather riding.  I have some temperature guidelines that I go by and they seem to hold true (50 and up, 40 to 50 and 40 and below). Every person is different with how their body reacts to the range in temperatures which makes it difficult to tell people what to wear.  Of course, in cold weather, you don’t want to mess around and not have enough to keep you warm.  Always think about the possibility of a mechanical that can take up to 15 minutes to fix or if it can’t get fixed, you’re walking out. Test what you’re going to wear on shorter rides and this way, when you want to go on a longer ride, you have a good idea of how to dress.

It’s a good idea to have a pair of lined pants with or without a chamois.  I have 2 pair without a chamois because I use them for running also, and when I ride, I wear my normal riding shorts underneath (keeps my behind a bit warmer too).  Castelli Cycling makes some great cold weather gear that really holds up.  I have worn other products but the seams come out, holes wear in quicker and well, they just aren’t as great.  Having a lined top is also a good idea to wear underneath a long sleeve jersey or underneath a winter riding jersey.

Hands, they will be cold at first, whether you have winter riding gloves on or not.  Don’t let your chilly hands stop you from riding, the harder you work, the hotter they will get! Be careful about the way you layer gloves, if you do.  Too much sweat will sit inside the glove and make your hands very cold if you have to stop on your ride at all.  Usually, if it’s really cold out, 30 degrees and under, I will put my summer gloves on with my winter gloves over them.  As soon as I start to feel my hands warm up, not sweat, I take the top gloves off and my hands are good to go for the rest of the ride.

FEET!! I rode for about 4 seasons with my summer riding shoes.  I bought a pair of covers for the shoes which, helped me get through the ride but, they clumped up with snow, I had to fix them, it was flat-out annoying.  I have a pair of Sidi winter riding boots and O.M.G. they are amazing!  They are waterproof and keep my feet nice and warm.  Since my feet do get chilly, I double up on my socks because my boots are about a 1/2 a size too big so, I have the extra room.  Winter riding boots can be pricy but remember this, you only wear them about 3 months out of the year and if your feet are important to you, and you like to ride, they will pay for themselves because they will last a long time.

Oreo approves of me wearing my SIDI winter riding boots.

Oreo approves of me wearing my SIDI winter riding boots.

Keep your head warm, duh.  I have seen people wear wool hats under their helmet, I have seen people wear liners in their helmet to keep warm too.  I usually stick with my liner inside my helmet and I’ll put a very thin hat on when it’s frigid out.  Again, this depends on how hot you get but remember, most of the heat in your body is lost through your head so, keep it under wraps.

I hope everyone has a great winter season of riding.  Whether you are on dirt roads, the trails or even find time to get on pavement for a cold day road ride, STAY WARM!! There is nothing worse than freezing on a ride which takes away the fun of it…and remember, it’s all about fun and happiness.  So, if you want to keep riding, go visit your local bike shop, support them and get some gear.  Like I said, winter gear can last a long time.  Take care of it and it’s only worn a few months out of the whole year so, treat yourself!

Ride on people!!! Brrrrrr….


Motivation will get me…..

Staying motivated can be a tricky thing but, I don’t need to tell you that.  Motivation can come from different places, and believe me, I drag it out of anywhere I could.  Every day I check Twitter a few times to see the posts that Rebecca Rusch, Selene Yeager, Katie Compton and other female pros to see what they are up to.  By no means am I even comparable to these amazing athletes but, this is where I get my motivation from and thank you girls for being so awesome.  I also get my motivation by seeing my race buddies keeping busy with cyclocross, and knowing that they are still racing and are not losing that edge that I feel like I am for not racing right now.  Ugh, stinks living north sometimes.

I started at the gym this week and have created a strength training plan for myself.  I searched on bicycling.com’s website for ideas and came across Selen Yeager’s workout videos she has done for them and they are specifically geared for cyclists.  I watched them, wrote them down and put them into effect.  After three days, the burn is there and the strength will only increase.  The gym is a tough place to go, and I really do hate it.  I don’t hate many things…..wait, yes I do…but, the gym is awful.  The first night was filled with me worrying about who might have been watching me, what if I look stupid or does it look like I’m doing everything right??  Ahh!!! Almost quit……almost.  Tonight was much different.  I went in with a big not giving a sh*t attitude.  This season is about my commitment to me becoming stronger and if I’m going to worry about silly stuff, it won’t happen.  Tonight was great and I have found my new attitude towards going to the gym…just do what you have to do and screw everything else.

I will keep riding with buddies until the snow flies and then it will be skiing, snowshoeing and trail running.  Let’s all continue to motivate each other since, well, we need it! Thank you to everyone who motivates me, friends, family and yes, the pros..even though they don’t know I exist.  Hmmm, maybe someday they will….maybe someday I will be…………

Keep riding all.


It’s freezing wait, nevermind!

After a week of being sick and not riding, I was excited to be back on the bike!  Northeast PA can be tricky with weather and the elements that it provides.  Jack (my hubby) and I can walk out of the house and it will be in the 40’s, and by the time we arrive at our ride destination, in the 30’s!! This happened on Saturday when we hit up Merli Sarnoski in Carbondale.  Everyone on the ride was quite surprised by the amount of snow as we started, but those Mukluker’s did a good job packing the snow for us skinny tires!! I still have my race tires on Maxxis Crossmarks, which are rollers and don’t really have a ton of traction, or so I thought.  I had no trouble on the snowy trails, rocks and slippery singletrack.  Very pleased with how the rubber was able to grip to the roots, and snow did not stick in the tread that I do have.  Way to go Maxxis, I’m going to push these puppies all winter!

My Niner EMD rocked on the snowy trails.

My Niner EMD rocked on the snowy trails.

Alaina and I in front of a frozen, foggy lake at Merli.

Alaina and I in front of a frozen, foggy lake at Merli.

This time of year is all about fun and just being able to ride my bike with friends.  Well, it’s always about fun and friends but right now, there is no thoughts of, “I need to train for the next endurance race coming up!! AHH!!” Friends are getting new bikes, Jack is getting back into riding and this is the best form of therapy; especially with the busy holidays around us.

Skip to the next day and the temperature was up about 15 degrees and we headed to Lackawanna State Park.  Mud.  Not all of it but we definitely found some.  LSP is a great state park that has a mix of everything.  You can get away with not doing a lot of climbing or you can, you can ride flowy trails or you can hit some technical parts too. Today, there were traces of snow but overall, it was beautiful out, short sleeves and I was fine!

Rolling uphill through the mud...a couple of extra pedal strokes and we were through.

Rolling uphill through the mud…a couple of extra pedal strokes and we were through.

Well, that was my hindsight weather report :o)  I really do hope that regardless of the weather, cold or not, you can get outside and enjoy the day.  I am thankful that I have Jack, great friends, live in a great area and have the best bike ever, my Dirty.  I had to name it since my other 2 EMD chick’s named theirs…it was the only name since it is never, ever clean.

Ride On!