After a long hiatus from my blog, I’m bringing it back! Once in a while, I’ll have people ask if I plan on starting it up again and truthfully, I wasn’t sure why anyone would WANT me to! While I enjoyed writing in the past, there was a part of me that felt almost self-centered and thinking people would actually want to hear about my adventures. Oh, and I accidentally broke my old laptop, which was WAY faster than my current one. Well, apparently, the blog was motivating to others and that is all I need to get writing again!
Okay, so here we are, a few years later, older (still very young at heart), stronger, and maybe wiser? I’ve never stopped racing, moved on to a new team, Rare Disease Cycling. I raced for Rare Disease Cycling after Toasted Head Racing disbanded. Most of the team moved in this direction, so it was a no brainer to stay with everyone and support such a generous cause for the past two years.
Besides my own race adventures, I worked with some very close friends to start a local mountain bike team! With the help of Mike Kuhn getting approval from NICA to start a Pennsylvania league, we created Keystone Composite Mountain Bike Team for the Northeast region! I’ll elaborate more in a separate post, because it deserves press!
Fast forward to 2018!! After ten years of racing for teams, I decided to branch out and race independently for this upcoming season. I’m still ironing out some details, getting great feedback from possible sponsors, and am happy to have Sickler’s Bike Shop as my main bike shop sponsor. I’ve been a customer at Sickler’s for over ten years and have worked there for about three. My race schedule will be quite full, with some bikepacking adventures mixed in.
As I sit here at home, on a sub zero snow day, I had to get this going again to document this year. I’ll be posting about training, products, races, life, and help offer any good information that I can. Details to come soon!
Be Kind to one another.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, and I apologize to my readers.
How do I summarize the past few months? Well, I won’t go into great detail and bore everyone. After training for the winter, my first race approached at Tuscarora and bam, second place for endurance women. In April, I decided to race an XC race and bam, second place! So, the season was off and is still off to a good start. I’m also loving my team, Toasted Head Racing and the support and awesomeness that they all provide.
This past weekend was my VERY first NUE, the Wildcat 100 mile race. Leading up to it, I was nervous, uncertain and felt completely not ready. Well, bam…not second. I didn’t seem ready in the sense that it snuck up on me fast. I kept thinking it was months away, but reality was day by day it was getting closer. Prior to the race, information provided about the race was not consistent and I was referred to read the riders handbook for any information. The riders handbook was like 10 pages of rules and regulations that made it seem like they (promoters) really were set and ready to go. Well, it read that we would hit the drop bag ONE time…really? ONE time..game plan changed, camelbak it is.
Again, my hubby, Jack was my support and my teammates, Jocelyn and Scott were racing also, which was nice knowing they were going to be there. Scott is a very fast single speed monster so, I saw him prior to the race and then, poof, he’s gone. Killer race Scott!
I waited until the LAST possible minute to register for this race. I kept making random excuses to not go, but thanks to encouragement from friends and family, I registered. Jack booked the motel and off we went Friday after work. The weather predicted was rain, but I was remaining optimistic that maybe we would wake up and the forecasters would be wrong. They seem to be wrong so much, that I was 80% sure the sun would be shining…WRONG.
I felt good, slept well and we headed over to the venue which was a tiny little spot to get the numbers and goody bag which had a few pamphlets in it (got a t-shirt at the end, made up for the “eh” goody bag). There seemed to be some lack of organization as to what numbers were being handed out, as the number plate I was assigned wasn’t even made, so I ended up with 166. Standing in line to use the ever popular porta-john, I look at the girl in front of me and she has a chip around her ankle. “Hey, why do you have a chip?”, I asked. She said everyone should be getting one. Back I go to the table, and get my chip that barely stayed around my ankle, so, I twisted tied it to my ankle. Others weren’t even given chips or empty velcro straps with no chips on them.
I was just nervous for the race and not really sure what to think about the day. Jack and Jocelyn were keeping me positive and reassuring me it would be a good experience. The rain is falling and off to the start we go.
The race started and I was curious of how they were planning on separating the field of over 250 racers before heading into any singletrack. Up the first hill we go, not even that bad, everyone was clumped together and when we got to the singletrack, it was standing in line, like waiting for a ride. Already aggravated, but remaining patient, telling myself, seriously, don’t get mad, you still have 98 miles to go! After the singletrack, it was a mix of rail trail and honestly, I think I blacked out (not literally) from mile 5 to mile 20, I can’t remember exactly what I rode, but I did see a waterfall, I remember the waterfall.
I hit the 26 mile check point, didn’t stop, went down, down and down some more past some amazing views and down into I believe, Lipman park for about 11 miles of singletrack. Again, the rain came down so hard and let me tell you, contact lenses are no fun in the rain. The humidity made it impossible for me to wear my sunglasses because they would fog up in a second. I rode quite a bit of the singletrack which was pretty damn cool, even wet. Twisty, flowy, bridges and then it turned to slippery rocks, roots and the last 5 miles sucked the life out of me. I thought I would never make it out. Threw some water in my pack and climbed BACK up about 1900 feet to mile 52 where Jack was waiting for me to refill my camelbak and use the bathroom that did not consist of a tree.
At this point, I was beyond muddy, but feeling great. I was smiling, ate a banana and sat on the back of the car to catch my breath for a second. Jocelyn rolls in and yells for me to get moving, okay, seriously some motivation I need…I’m in a race, not a social ride. We start back out, her on her singlespeed, I was able to gain some distance, but knew I’d see her again. Her experience and strength are too much for me to keep a lead on. Well, around mile 62 or 63, rain coming down, trudging through muddy singletrack, my mentality went right downhill. I cramped in my calf, my head was hurting and I was miserable. Jocelyn came through running with her bike, seriously, where can I get that energy? I kept moving, but slowed down big time.
Mile 70, it’s raining, Jack is waiting for me with another smile on his face as I guess he was proud of me. I sat down and cried. Not balling my eyes out, but I believe I swore off mountain biking and that I was going to sell my spot for the Lumberjack (I’m not). His encouragement and lie that I was at 75 miles and that my Garmin was wrong, got me moving again. From this point, I roll away, it’s pouring, tears in my eyes and off to the never friggin ending apple orchard. Seriously, I never ever want to ride through an apple orchard for the rest of my life. This is in full bloom too, where I should have been thinking, wow, how pretty. No way. I was covered in mud, soaking wet and riding on the muddiest dirt roads. It. Was. Awful.
Finally, the last check point in New Palz. The sun was out and it was mile 89ish. I leave my camelbak, take a bottle and bust my ass down the rail trail section. From there, more singletrack and more walking up greasy sliperry hills. Kind of pissed the sun was out because that brought out all of the bugs and when you’re walking with other people, the bugs just swarm. We hit some roads going back down into Rosendale and I was beyond excited, thinking we were finishing up the same paved road we started on..wrong. Up into the last 4 miles of singletrack we go, deep mud, greasy, damp and soul sucking.
I rolled through at a whopping 12 hours and 52 seconds for my very first National Ultra Endurance race. I felt like I was the last one. I wasn’t, but the promoter had the timing people leave. My time was written down, the chip was worthless and I felt like it was not a big deal that I finished. I know Jack was proud of me and Jocelyn was there to give me credit for sticking with it. Thank you to you both, your encouragement was needed and appreciated!
I sat in the lake nearby and just soaked for a few minutes as a black cloud of grossness rose from my kit and skin and I was able to clean off, just enough to change and go home. What a day, what an experience that I almost didn’t do and gave up on. It was miserable that it rained and that the mud was so thick, but I would do it all over again. I hope to only get better, stronger and faster and perhaps finish my next one in 10 hours?! Eh, we’ll see.
As for nutrition, I use Infinit and it’s my own blend and wow, what an amazing product. I don’t end up with a bunch of random food in my stomach, I know my caloric intake and am able to balance it out with my hydration.
Now that it is about 2 days past the race, I feel good and want to do a race this weekend, but I’ll chill. I did ride the day after and well, not cool as my bottom was not happy with me 🙂 I know I didn’t win or come in the top 10, but just to finish was amazing for me. I get down on myself so easily in races and to be able to push through the mental drain is sometimes harder to do than push through the physical drain. I’ve never been so okay with finishing close to last…there were totally DNF’s, haha.
Thank you to you all for reading and thank you for the support. I love mountain biking and I love this whole race thing too. It keeps me young, healthy and very happy.
Race season is creeping up on me. Registrations for races are opening, training camps are popping up and Facebook is full of people making their statements of hard work. When I started racing in 2007, I raced beginner, but knew women who raced elite. Maybe it’s just my perception, but I think over the years, the women’s field has become very competitive – in a friendly way. It seems that everyone who I know moved up bit by bit and are now training to compete against national pros, including myself.
I am competitive, but I can’t say that I ever lined up at a race and hoped for someone to lose. For me, races are personal. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. I’ve been disappointed in races that I didn’t perform my best, but I never was angry that another girl won. She earned it and that was her day. She worked hard and came through as the stronger rider.
I’m really looking forward to this season because it will be a tough one. The women are stronger, there are more of them in the field, and everyone has the same drive as I do. They will be busting it out for every race. I must say I am so excited to line up next to these chicks, race and have fun together.
I’m not as lucky to live in southern Pennsylvania, where it seems there are a lot more people who are able to train together. It looks like they’re incorporating long weekend rides with minimal snow/ice. I’m here – feeling alone – sitting on my trainer while watching TV.
My experiment for this month will be my very own training camp. This camp will include three days of riding. I can’t attend a training camp at Rothrock State Forest, so I have set my sights on doing just as much riding here at home. THAT blog will be a more interesting one. I’m hoping that my mountain bike will be done by then and the weather cooperates. If so, my personal training camp will be a go and many miles will be ridden!I hope training is going well for everyone, and – if you’re not training – I hope everyone is getting out and enjoying the outdoors!
I’m not even a professional writer and I have writer’s block. I have been tossing around some topics for this week, but couldn’t seem to nail one down. I don’t want to bore everyone with updates of how training is going, because that’s redundant. There is, of course, the big story – Lance. I can give my opinion, but I’m not even sure what it is. Wait, disappointment. That’s my opinion.
It’s almost the end of January and I still feel like I just started to get my butt in gear for training. After last week’s rude awakening of riding, I knew I needed to get out on my bike at ANY opportunity.
Last winter was dry and cold so there was ample time to be on the bike. Last weekend was wet, foggy and cold with poor visibility. Not my visibility, but cars’ visibility to see us. Even with my blinky tail light last weekend, the sound of a car coming up behind us was a bit unnerving. The only comfort you have on some roads is hearing the tires hit the rumble strips of the two yellow lines.
This weekend was MUCH nicer and I was dying to get out on the road bike. My mind played against me on Saturday. No one else was riding andI get nervous riding alone. The sun was out and the sun was blinding. Saturday ended up with me trail running behind to Mukluks as they road through Lackawanna State Park which was 6 miles of fun on the snow, ice and mud. I also managed to spin for an hour that day too and cook a dinner for my hubby and parents. It was a great day!
That left Sunday as the day I needed to get on my bike, but it was about 40 degrees and the wind was gusting at 20mph. It’s now or never, I thought. With single digit temps looming and snow next weekend, my road bike would only be hooked to the trainer. This was my chance. I suited up in my dorkiest and brightest gear. I turned my blinky light on and I was off. A short 20-mile ride with about 2,000 feet of climbing was accomplished. It was windy, my face was wind burned but I was happy.
So, there you have it, I blogged about my training. I knew it would resort to that, but you know what? That’s okay. I am proud of what I am trying to accomplish. And I’ll feel good if I can gain any support from some people or if I can encourage others.
I hope everyone enjoys reading about my progress. I really can’t wait for my first race to really give this blog some character. Last week, my blog views crushed 1,000. I am so thankful that you all read about my journey and leave such wonderful comments. Thank you!
Since I last posted seven days ago, I spent this past week working my tail off – or so I thought.
I suffer from migraines and had one from last Tuesday until about Thursday afternoon. I still worked out, but it certainly wasn’t to my full potential. I spent the week focusing on my core muscles, cardio, legs and abs. By the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to get on my road bike. The weather here in PA finally got above 40 degrees, but not by much. On Saturday, I did a road ride with some guys.
Now, I know they are faster than me and I always hesitate with my decision to go, but I need to ride with them if I want to get faster.
My last road ride was in early November and then since, it’s been a few miles here and there on the mountain bike. Mentally, I thought, “Hell, I can go out and ride with no problem. I’ve been working out training so I’m strong.” Silly me. Those little spurts of cardio I did were not enough. The weather was about 42 degrees and there were six of us. I was the only girl.
We rode up the valley (local terminology) into Forest City, on through to the Stillwater Lake dam and back down. Sounds like an easy ride, right? I felt like my lungs weren’t working. And by the time we were looping back around mile 30, my quads started to cramp. No more standing for me. I felt awful.
Our ride ended up being about 44 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing, but that is a drop in the bucket compared to what others did this weekend. (Vicki Barclay rode 100 on Saturday!) After the ride, it was a few Blue Moons and a quesadilla that got me feeling a bit better. But my muscles were tight, hips were hurting. I knew I needed to start focusing on those muscle areas.
Come Sunday, two friends of mine wanted to do a nice ride out to the country and back. The ride was probably more climbing than Saturday’s ride, but less miles. I was game.
I knew my legs would be tired so I sat in the back of Ed and Taylor and shouted, “car back!” That was about the extent of my conversation on the ride. The fog was dense to the point that it was probably dangerous to be on the roads, but it eventually cleared toward the end of the ride. We rode 30 miles and climbed about 2,900 feet in elevation. It’s not much, but I’ll take it. I was tired but my muscles weren’t as angry with me as they were after Saturday’s ride.
It’s funny how you can be so happy to be out on a ride and know you are getting a good workout, but be so disappointed. Why am I so slow? Why do I feel like my muscles hate me? How come I feel like my legs have nothing to give? Well, it IS January in northeast Pennsylvania and you have NOT gone more than 20 miles on a bike since November!
I do need to remember that the season does not start in a week and I have two more months to prepare and build myself up before my first endurance race of the season. It was a great week of working out. I noticed strength in my core and I felt good knowing my muscles were tight from working them out.
In the end, I need to really bust my ass on the trainer and get running. Cross training is great for me and I need to do it. This weekend only made me stronger and I need to keep going. This season will be tough, but I can line up and be just as confident as my peers on that starting line if I staying focused.
So, I wrote a blog post on Saturday that implied I wasn’t going to be coached this season. Well, things have changed.
I continued to panic about not having a plan into Sunday. I kept asking myself a ton of questions: How do I train? Do I only lift? Do I run a lot? Do I ride a lot? Should I go to yoga? Ahh!!! I was overwhelmed and overthinking everything, which is no surprise for those of you who know me.
Luckily, a good friend of mine – the woman who taught me everything I know about mountain biking, introduced me to racing and encouraged me throughout my short mountain bike career – said she’d help me organize my training. Or, as I like to say, she is my coach.
She is known in the mountain biking community and gained pro status a few years back. She continues to encourage me and others to be our best while she’s nursing an injury. She is a humble person who’s given so much to the cycling community over the years.
Honestly, it never occurred to me to ask her for help, but I was instantly thrilled. She knows her stuff!
We met up and talked about my goals for the season. Specifically, we decided which races I want to do well in (all of them of course), but I picked about three that are my ultimate races. She developed a plan for me about how to prepare for the races, including how to fill my schedule – but not too much. We also talk about how to get ready for 100 miles on the mountain bike – mentally and physically.
This season is going to be good one but it’s also going to be scary. My plans are ambitious and physically demanding. After all, this is my first season l plan to do more than one 100 mile race. Hell, this is my first season to ever race a 100 mile race. Luckily, my coach motivated me while keeping my feet on the ground. Our meeting was a refreshing conversation and I am forever grateful for Alaina, my friend and coach.
Ride on strong 🙂
The holidays are over, and now it’s time to get back to the grind. I’ve been very tired this past week and the whole motivation thing was almost nonexistent. All I am seeing in the online world is people training, being coached and gaining miles as well as elevation. I am not. I won’t say that I’m not training, but I don’t have a coach and the past few weeks have not allowed for miles or elevation gain on a bike. . I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to others. “Seriously, Cindy, focus on what you accomplish and be encouraged by others,” I tell myself.
I spent the past few days worrying and second guessing the season before it even starts. I am following athletes from the East Coast and around the country discuss their training from northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m trying to talk myself out of worrying, trying to convince myself that my gym routine is just enough, and that snowshoeing and running are keeping my cardio in check. It wasn’t working. I even went as far as to message Fit Chick – Selene Yeager – to see if she thought getting a coach is needed and if I need to switch up my routine. She was kind enough, as always, to return with a message saying that sure, coaching has its pros, but what I am doing should be fine. She said that I will be “A-Okay” with what I am doing. Phew. Thanks Selene!
You’d think I would wake up in a better mood after last night’s lovely celebration for my husband, who recently accepted a new job. I did not. Today, I stayed in my pajamas, drank my coffee and wallowed in self-pity for most of the day. That’s allowed sometimes, right? My savior today was my dog, Oreo. A nice walk outside and a one-hour stretch of my crazy stiff muscles brought me back! I feel rejuvenated and ready to ride French Creek State Park with some gal pals tomorrow
The point? Don’t worry, be happy. Stop comparing….you are your own. Love yourself.