Thursday, December 16, 2010


Last weekend we tromped around the forests and found our most awesome 12 foot Charlie-brown Christmas tree...

Tis the season!!!

Since Ireland I took some downtime, and then bought a pair of running shoes, some new goggles, and a swim cap and am starting back down the road of being a traithlete. In November I swam and ran more than I did the entire year before!

It's a fun start to my next adventure... the DecaIronman in November... I feel like I'm carrying a ton of gear in my car, so I can swim, bike, or run at any time, but there's also some nice flexibility. It is hard starting back at square 1, but in just this short time I have see improvements in my speed and endurance.

Have a fabulous Holiday season, and cheers to bringing on a fabulous and fun 2011!!!


Thursday, September 23, 2010


What to say about the Race Around Ireland... hmm... It was the final race of my two years as being just an ultracyclist, and I didn't finish it, yet I feel no sadness... just a general glow of happiness and fulfillment of pushing myself to my very limits and coming back in mostly one piece, and a overwhelming gratefulness for my crew that made it all possible. Here's my somewhat scattered report, since I'm still picking up the pieces.

The crew met up in Navan on Saturday afternoon, the day before the race and after hugs and hellos settled down to getting the vehicles checked in and everything ready to go. We went out to dinner and it was like family already... Jim, from Ireland, was our off crew wrangler. His duty was to take the off crew to eat and sleep and if possible see a few sites. Jason, from the UK, and Drew were the drivers. Drew took to driving on the left side of the road like a duck to water. Susan was the chief, in charge of making sure everything ran smoothly, and Julie was my massage therapist to ensure that I kept running smoothly.

Sunday, 8pm, and with a go I was off. I had a "police escort" through town which made me laugh as he was on a motorbike and basically zipped up and around cars and didn't really lead me or stop traffic for me. But, I made it out of Navan and onto the roads in the fading light. Drew and Julie had first crew shift and soon were behind me. At night, I had to stay in their headlights and I could just see the flashing amber light on top of their vehicle. The other competitors went off in 5 minute intervals behind me, and passed one by one as the first night went by.

The first 30 hours really are a blur of rain and headwinds. Serious, ride hard and go under 7mph headwinds. I felt I rode pretty well, but was definitely not riding easy. The winds just made me mad. At some point we got a call that the race was extended 12 hours because of the conditions, so I knew it wasn't just me that was being affected. 30 some hours in was time for my first sleep break, and the beginning of our Irish angels. A friend of a friend had friends in that part of Ireland who contacted my crew and offered up a house, food, and a shower. Drew and Jason had swapped out some hours before and Jim took him to the angels house. When we got to the gas station that was to be my sleep break, there was a sheltered wooden porch I slept in and the angels brought a campervan out for Jason, Julie, and Susan to sleep in. 3 hours later I woke up pretty refreshed, but sad to see that it was still raining and the winds were still out in force.

Into the night we went, up and down. I knew we were in Northern Ireland only because the speed limit signs were in mph. We went out to Mizen Head, the most northern point of Ireland, and the winds were so strong that I was fighting to stay upright on Artemous. The point was at the top of a steep pitch, which Julie walked with me, and at the top Susan could barely get the door open. I walked back down, and then enjoyed a 10 mile break of happy tailwinds. It didn't last, as soon we turned back again. A gorgeous, switch to running shoes and walk it up, climb was about 20 miles later, and then an ongoing blur of riding.

Into the next night I was still in the winds, and darned sick of it. I stopped about 15 miles shy of the checkpoint and climbed into the car to warm up... I lost it a bit here, as I was just miserable, but soon was back on the bike and riding mad. We finally made it into the CP, where I had another nice nap in the lobby of a hotel. Fortunately I woke up to an unbelievably nice section. 55 miles of tail/crosstail wind and the rain finally let up. I had good tunes rolling on my iPod and life was happy again.

The Irish angels continued to care for my crew... it was amazing. At one point Jim had to go home for awhile and his friends Frank and Camille subbed in for him, and then decided to stay with us. So, the off crew always had a place to stay, yummy food to eat, and good company. And, this all came back to me as these guys stayed amazingly positive through my up and down points. I had trouble eating, which we all expected, and they kept finding porridge, mashed potatoes, and eventually some lovely mint bar thing that I could keep down.

During the days there was lovely scenery, and some crazy hills. I remember a section that went by the ocean that was just incredibly gorgeous, of course there was a short steep 25+ gra
de hill in there to remind me of the work. The section by Sneem we hit 6 hills, on roads that were best for a cyclocross bike. It was unbelievely lovely, and crazy hard. Jason had brought a bike with a triple, which I used through this section as Artemous took a break. After the second hill I had a mini break down, it was so beautiful, and so hard.

During the nights the challenge was different. The lovely scenery was out there I'm sure, but all I could see was hedges and headlights, with the flash of the amber lights. The hills were still there, and without scenery to distract were punishing, and the downhills were thrilling, cold, and fun as I'd race in and out of the follow vehicle lights.

It was a team effort, but also quite solitary as I spend most of the time listening to my iPod and the wind and my own thoughts and would only talk to the crew when they handed me food, when we'd stop to try to figure out the navigation, or when I'd need to stop. I lost my mind three times, all but the last quite scary to me:

The first: The second day maybe, I was going downhill through a town. And, I was asleep. I remember only flashes of the town, from about a 15 mile section. I finally woke up at a gas station where I stopped to use the facilities, and it scared me. The next time I recognized this happening, the next day or two, I stopped for a 20 minute sleep.

The second: 5Hour energy and RedBull. I took a 5 hour at a checkpoint, and then a few hours later climbing a hill Jason handed me a redbull shot. Drank that down, and soon was at the top of the hill. I LOVE going downhill, and this was some of the best asphalt we had had the while time in Ireland. But, I was stoned. Out of my mind. I started down the hill, and the yellow line was moving in and out, and I looked over to the left and my attention was grabbed by a rock. All at 30+mph. I freaked, stopped, and tried to sober up. Creeped down the next bit at 15 with my hand on the brakes, and m
et my crew. I asked them to drive in front of me slowly and I just looked at their bumped and talked to myself out loud all the way down ("look at the bumper, focus, focus"). Ate some food and had some flat and uphill to sober up on.

The third: In the 5th day, I think. Day time. I was following Jason and Julie on a pretty
flat section, in the middle of nowhere. And, I lost my mind. I had no idea why I was out there, on a bike, following this car. It made no sense. I couldn't think of anything else to do, so I kept following them, but I had no idea
why. I pulled up and asked them, and Julie explained I was in a race, but that didn't make sense. If there had been a coffee shop, or really any alternative, I would have stopped, but there wasn't so I kept going. Finally, I pulled the pieces together and came up with a reason I was out there. I was a tour guide. I was showing these people in this car Ireland in a new way. This pleased me, and when I next talked to Julie and Jason I told them that was my job, and they agreed I was doing it well. I asked, if I was their guide, why was I following them and Julie explained I was a beginner guide and just learning but that I was doing well and we should keep going. So we did. It wasn't until we pulled into the checkpoint and the rest of the gang was there that I came back to reality.

So, the race went on and on. Physically I held up pretty good. I had the usual problems with my bum, but we were able to control them with shorts layering, seat changing, oragel, and second skin. But, I used up a huge amount of my reserves the first two days in the bad winds, and my pace kept slowing. At some point I learned that Ian, who I'd been playing cat and mouse with all week and had dropped back, had dropped out and I was the last one out there. It was dark, and the roads were nice fresh chip and seal (take that bum!), and the cutoff went by. I asked for a 20 minute nap, as I had started to weave again, and as I laid there I decided I would keep going as long as my crew wanted to but for no other reason than that I wanted to finish it for them. When they woke me up, they told me it was another day to go at my current pace/rest/ride.... 200 miles, a somewhat usual training ride, but a full day. I asked to call it.

The caravan rolled in (Jim and the off crew, and Camilla and Frank) and they all hugged me and told me it was okay, and the race was over.

And, so. There ends my ultracycling career. It has been a blast, and I have learned a lot about what drives me, and what my limits are. I say my ultracycling career is done, and by that I mean I do not have plans to attempt another cycling race longer than 600 miles solo. I would very much like to come back and do the Race Around Ireland again in 2012 as a 2 person female team. I also plan to set the Colorado West.East record as part of my training in the next few seasons.

For today, I'm recovering and beginning to scheme my return to UltraTri. In 14 months I will be doing the DecaIronman in Monterray, Mexico, so I need to remember how to run and swim!

I want to again say a huge thank you to Susan, Julie, Jim, Jason, and of course Drew who believed in me, and pushed me, and joined me in the Ireland Adventure and also to the Ireland Angels. My heart is so full of happiness, I cannot muster any sadness at that last 200 miles... though I will see them in 2012!

Ride long, then rest...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Off to Ireland!

The time is finally here! We leave tomorrow for the Race Around Ireland. This race will be the culmination of my taking 2 years to focus just on cycling, if I finish I will "win" the women's division (I'm the only one) and also get enough points to solidify my position to win the Ultracycling Cup. As usual the clock is my nemesis, and my crew knows that I intend to finish this thing even if the clock runs dry... If bad things happen, I will still be racing in *Ireland* and it is a celebration of the journey that got us there...

The race is a 1350 mile cycling race which covers the circumference of Ireland, starting Sunday September 12th, 8pm. I am the only female, and the only American solo'ist in the race. I have a great crew with my hubby Drew, Susan as my crew chief, Julie my massage therapist, Jason (who I hope knows what he is in for!), and Jim who lives in Ireland and will be driving his car and taking care of the other 4 when they are "off duty". I will be riding non-stop, with 3 hours sleep breaks each evening (after the first one), to attempt to finish in under 132 hours.

If you want to follow along, I will have a SPOT GPS device with me, that should update our location every 10 minutes and show the location on a map (follow the "Where's Leslie" link) In addition, my crew will try to post twitter updates to the blog on a regular basis.

Here we go!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quadzilla "400"

Just back from the Quadzilla 400. This is a brevet in the fingerlakes region of NY, miles of hills short and steep and totalling over 30000ft of climbing. This is my final challenge before Ireland and it was a doozie!

20ish people toed the line sat mornin, and I was on my own with no crew, just a backpack and a stellar race organization, the rd was doing the event and he had 6 checkpoints staffed with food and fab volunteers. I had a hard time gearing up for this mentally, being pretty thrashed from the season and also travelling alone and not knowing anyone there. But, picking up my packet I was chatting with the other riders and everyone was quite friendly.

There was one other gal, Michelle, and they had us lead out. We rolled along nicely til we got a few miles from town and the climbing started on earnest. Before we were 10 miles in I was in the rear and full of doubts. It was quite windy which was actually good since it kept things cool.

I rode along and at 60miles in or so hooked up with a nice guy (who's name I cannot remember, so I'll call him Sir) going my pace. We chatted and rode and before we knew it hit 100 miles in 9 hours, yup, 9 hours. This course was brutal. We had a 5 mile climb to "lunch" which took close to an hour and enough walking to shred my cleats.

I ate a bit and then headed out alone to face a 40 mile section with 10 fresh chip and sealed miles and of course hills. At the next cp I was looking at my options and Sir rolled in along with another fellow, Stan, who spoke only a little English. We decided to take the short course option (355mi) and agreed to work together thru the night. A mile later we were walking up another steep incline side by side just laughing at the absurdity.

The shortcut skipped 30 miles in the next bit and when we hit the next cp the other gal was there. She has done this 4 times before and has the course record and made the same decision we did. She headed out as my trio ate a bit then followed after.

Time for rollers, but in the dark and too long/steep to really cruise. Stan dropped back to ride with some other folks and Sir and I came upon Michelle sitting at a church. Our new trio was formed and we continued through the darkness. We finally got a 30 mile easy section before hitting the hotel cp.

It was 24 hours in and we'd only covered 215 miles... We decided to do an hour sleep and then continue. An hour sleep takes 3 hours by the time you eat, sponge off, lay down, sleep, and then drag yourself back on the bike. That's why I don't get to see the inside of a hotel on Ireland!

Sir dropped out so Michelle and I headed out. The second day was rainy, ocasionally cold, and hillier than the first with a series of 1800 foot climbs interspersed with steep shorties. My cleats wore down from walking and I could no longer clip in with my left foot. Stan met up with us again so the three of us pushed each other along.

It was hard, but really fun. I learned a bit about hills riding with Michelle and we chattered nonstop. Stan was our quiet partner in crime. There was a .6 mile crazy steep grade that took me 10 minutes to walk up, Michelle powered up it but I had to stop and rest even walking. I tried to keep the pace up on the flats and downhills, and Michelle pushed us up the hills.

Finally, are you tired of reading yet, we got to the end. 355 mile, 39:2x. At least 6 of the starters dropped out, and the three of us did the short course. By all accounts the winds made it a tough year.

I'm really pleased with this event, despite the slowness and my nervousness going into it without knowing anyone. The organization was topnotch and I put it all out there. I was whupped going into the hotel CP, but the short rest really helped with the rest of the trip. I think it was a great final push for Ireland... Legs are tired today, but not too sore. Artemous needs a bath, and I already called my bike shop to get a 29 tooth cog so hopefully I can ride more and walk less in Ireland!

Bring on the taper!

Ride long,

Monday, August 2, 2010

RR: Colorado State S-N crossing record

It was a very good day! The kinda day where it all comes together, minimal bad things happen, and the good starts to multiply... Saturday was my attempt at setting a Colorado State crossing record by bike. My crew for this journey was my hubby Drew, and massage therapist Julie. Susan played the part of the UMCA official after scoring 100 on her officiating test.

We drove down to Raton on Friday afternoon, and thanks to some rush hour traffic by Colorado Springs decided to go the back route and check out some of the roads I picked out for my course. 5 miles of chip and seal later, I was thrilled we checked it and we knew to reroute that bit! Got into Raton at 10:30pm in the rain, and planned to be up and out the door by 3:30am. I laid in bed and tried to sleep, but a huge storm came through at 2 and sleeping just wasn't happening. Looked out the door at 3 and it was still raining and everything was drenched. Quickly decided to meet up at 5:15am instead, figuring I would get started at dawn and would at least be able to see the puddles. Was tired, but buzzing at 5am and we got the car set up and everything ready. Drove to I-25 and Raton Pass, where the Welcome To Colorado sign is.

Got out of the car, and ready to go. Julie spent a few minutes warming up my muscles, and at 5:52am Susan said go. It was just cracking dawn, so I had lights on, but they weren't really necessary. The first 14 miles was wicked downhill, wet pavement but no rain. I tucked in and let Artemous fly. A truck with a HUGE windmill blade went by and the currents sucked me around but I just tried to relax and believe in my bike. Went around a bunch of rocks in the road, and was glad I waited til light to start!

Hit Trinindad, where I had to get off the highway due to construction. Drats. Some serious rerouting hapenning as I think I hit every road in Trinidad going back and forth across the freeway and the railroad tracks, until we were finally allowed back on. I just tried to remember it was going to be a long day, and didn't let it get to me. Finally got back on I-25.

Going into this I was worried about riding the highway but I LOVED it! Great wide smooth paved shoulders. Enough traffic to get a little draft on. My crew would leapfrog me, and would hand me small bites out the window which I swore to eat. Long downhill grades where I got into my drops and pedaled, and nice uphill grades. And a super sweet tailwind. As an aside, I had just perfect conditions the whole day! A friendly wind, often at my back, occasionally out of the East or West, but never a headwind. The storm was still in the plains, so the day didn't heat up until the afternoon.

Hit Pueblo and had to leave the freeway again. My original route had me leaving for good, but from the prelook the night before we instead got back on after 10 city miles. Going through town was a little irritating, with lots of traffic lights, but I used them to rest. Was glad to see I-25 again and the roads finally dried up. It was a bit climby, but not bad. I took a 5 hour energy, and then asked for a sprite and handful of Doritoes, which went into my Bento Box. Figured I'd pretend I was sitting on my couch playing a driving video game as I pedaled on and snacked.

Came to the town of Monument and said goodbye to I-25 for good. Requested we stop at a proper bathroom and took a few minutes to wipe the grime off my legs and Drew wiped down Artemous. Julie filled the Bento Box with grapes and off I went to the airport area of Colorado springs.

Blech! Lots of climbing, a tailwind, but it just made me hot. Lots of traffic, so the crew went and got lunch since they couldn't leapfrog well. This was majorly the lowpoint of my day, as I stopped at yet another light and wiped sweat out of my eyes looking at the hill ahead and wanting to be done but knowing I was only halfway there. The car came by and I asked for a break and a few miles later we pulled off into a subdivision. I sat down on a curb and drank a coke out of a proper cup and ate. Julie worked the kinks out of my shoulders, hands, and feet. This break was so needed, and I felt better getting onto the bike.

A turn, and then a long slow climb but pretty and scenic with great pavement. I was wishing I had an elevation profile to see what was coming, but then I found out. 30 miles of FUN! After the climb there was great downhill, with just enough uphills to make it good times. I settled into my drops and rode it like I stole it... and I kinda felt like I did! Just a total blast!

Went under E470 and into the Denver area. I routed this East of town and went through an area we lived when we first moved here. Was fun to see the changes. Around 6:30 my crew decided it was time for real food and I stopped and tried to eat a chicken sandwich (blech, but the fries were good and the coke rocked). Julie put some magic lotion on my legs and Drew put the light back on Artemous. Next we went by the airport and into parts north.

It was getting dark when I got on I-85. The crew moved to follow-me mode and settled in for a boring drive. I got a bit crabby when my iPod battery died, and then a piece of poundcake went down funny and I stopped to cough and gag. The towns were 5-10 miles apart, and my only fun was looking at the elevations as we hit the town signs. The last 40 miles of the route were sublty uphill, maybe 1000 feet, but the longest false flat I've ever ridden. After Greeley I got my now recharged iPod back and set up my night music (Lady Gaga, Eminem, and a little country) and knew I'd just have to get through these last some number of miles.

The signs showed mileage to Cheyanne, and I knew that was in Wyoming but I didn't know how far past the border it was... there were lights in the distance that kept coming in and out of sight and driving me batty... eventually I went by them and it was a gas plant of some sort. Back into the dark, and yet another climb in the distance when I saw a sign on the left and looked back and it was a welcome to Colorado sign. Then I saw a Laramie County sign and below it the most beautiful 0.0 mile marker ever.

310(ish, still waiting for the final calculation) miles. 18:59 is the new women under 50 Colorado South/North state crossing record!
It was a very good day, the kind of day I dream of. A day where I felt like I rode as well as I could, and the clock reflected it. A huge thank you to Susan, Julie, and Drew for making it possible!

Ride on!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leslie & Artemous vs. the Clock & the State of Colorado

I'm inexplicably nervous, but Artemous has his race wheels on and is ready to fly!

Saturday at 3am we will be starting out at the Southern border of Colorado, and heading to the Northern border in an attempt to set the state crossing record. Just us against the clock, with the help of my fabulous crew (Julie, Drew, and Susan as my official). We'll use hubby's car as my follow vehicle with flashing yellow lights on it, a caution bike ahead sign, and coolers of drinks and food in the back. The crew has to follow me in dark, and can leapfrog during the day. This will be a learning experience for us all, and will be invaluable for the Race Around Ireland as they will be crewing there as well.

I spent several hours last week with google maps, and mapmyride and planned a course that takes up up I25 to Pueblo, then hits frontage roads, cuts East of Denver, and heads up I85. The route I came up with is 319 miles, hopefully we can shave a few when we are out there. I am the first in my category to do this (Women under 50). I am expecting this will take 20hours, give or take (hopefully take) 2 hours. Previous record holders have been from 304 to 316.2 miles (not sure how).. maybe my mapping is long. Previous record holders are:
305mi / 23:07 /Men 50-59
311.6mi / 19:37 /M18-49
316.2mi / 22:14 /Men 60-69
310mi / 17:15 /Women 50-59

My SPOT device will be in the follow vehicle, and we may practice some tweeting as well... Live updates will be under Where is Leslie, and the Twitter feed.

Should be an interesting day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

DNF @ the Dirty Kanza

My 3rd try at this race was not too successful... in a word, I melted! This remains one of my favorite races, just one tough fun challenge put on by a great group of folks. I'm already looking forward to going back next year and getting a little payback for the day I had on Saturday!

The race started at 6am as the huge group (over 160 racers!) rolled out of Emporia. The day was already hot, but there was a nice 15mph wind in our faces that helped keep us cool. The first 60 miles went by pretty nicely, fun gravel and parts of the course I had seen before. My legs were pretty flat from last weekend's race, but they responsed when I asked them to push up the hills and didn't complain too loudly. MIle 20-40 was into the headwind, and I just settled down for a long day in the saddle. Lots and lots of folks changing flats on the side of the road... so I'd have faster riders coming by periodically as they fixed up their gear. The next 18 miles were fast and fun, tailwind at my back. Things did start to get warm, as I no longer had the cooling headwind... but the speed was worth a big smile!

Made it into the first aid station at mile 58, spent a little time at the gas station loading my camelback and waterbottle with ice water, and then time to take on the next leg. I headed out with a 30 minute cushion on the cutoff... right where I want to be! As I stepped out of the gas station the heat hit me in the face. Uh oh. This is going to hurt!

The first 8(ish) miles were asphault and I tried to make time, but my body began a rebellion. Not the legs, but the stomach. Tossed up the delicious coke and ice water I had drank at the last CP and felt a little better. Tried sipping on the fresh ice water I'd taken on and just rolled as easily as I could. This section just went from bad, to worse. It took nearly 5 hours to cover the 42 miles, and I hear the temps were up around 105. I haven't really ridden in heat this year, and between that and having tapped my resources last weekend... I struggled to keep anything down. The ice water turned to hot water. I stopped several times in the "shade" of a scraggly tree to try to cool down. I tried eating my Gu chews... I tried eating Gu... I puked up all manner of race food 4 times in that section, my stomach just wasn't having any of it.

I called Drew and mile 70 and told him to come get me. I called him back 5 minutes later and said I wanted to go another hour and see if things would turn around. I called Drew and mile 88 and told him I was done and gave him directions to retreive me, and called him back again before I even put my phone away and cancelled that rescue. And still the battle raged between my head and my body. After a puke, I would feel better. And, I maintained the ability to bike, just not with much oomph. I figured if I could just make it to dusk the temps would go down and my speed would pick up... but I was seriously crawling through the miles. I decided to just get to the 102 mile check point and think about things then.

And, I did. And, I DNF'd. Me head is still a bit pissy about it, but I also firmly believe it was the right thing to do. If I would have made it through this thing it would have been with alot of damage, and I have the National 24 hour race in 2 weeks that I want to do really well at. As it is, I'm still thirsty as a dog, and tearing up at the drop of a hat (both signs of how deep the hole was I dug). I've got mild sores on my bum, which will heal in a few days. And, turns out my cross bike agrees with the decision as I found a broken spoke on the front wheel when I pulled it from the car today (didn't notice it when I was riding, but something tells me I would have eventually when I hit a rock the wrong way!).

So... I'll be back next year! And, hopefully the heat will be too!!! I am in good company, although final results aren't up yet runor is that over 100 people dropped out, but I pride myself on my ability to take a beating and a DNF just doesn't sit well. This will be one of my key spring events next year, and not just a fun training day, and I'll remind that Kansas gravel that it's can't deny this Colorado girl!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

RR: Lewis and Clark 24 Hour race

Short story: I won! 268.5 miles. Drew's 4 person team set a wicked record of 444.4 miles...

Long story: Not all that easy!

This was a 24 hour race near Vancouver, WA. A very small field, for a new but (hopefully) growing race. I was the only female soloist, and there were but 3 solo men. My hubby got sucked into a 4 person men's team, so I would only have support at night. There were also 10'ish solo and team 12 hour racers. Did I mention this race was small?

I got to start the race off at 6:30am, with folks heading off in 30 second intervals. I was unprepared and hopped on my bike. I looked down a few minutes later and my bike computer wasn't working. Drats! I reached down to try to adjust the sensor, hit a bump, and ping. It went into my wheel and sheared off. The wheel was fine, but as I looped back to pick up the sensor I realized that wa going to make for a long day not knowing where I was exactly. Okay... no prob... I'll go by feel. As I started again, I found my handlebars slipping. Crap! Stop once more, dig out my allen wrench and tighten those babies down. Smile at the riders going past while I'm wasting time. Finally I'm on the road for real and Drew comes riding by. I tell him about my odometer, and he hands me his Garmin... it only has a few hours of battery power, but at least for the first 70 miles I know where I am.

Did I mention it was raining? Oh yeah.. to add to the farce there was a steady rain. Oy! I tried to take it all in stride and just settle in for the day. Then, another bad decision came into play. I wore my prescription sunglasses. The rain made them impossible to see through (especially when I'd hit a climb and the insides would fog up), but I'm pretty much blind without them. As the rain fell the first 6 hours of the race I was forced to stop frequently and try to wipe them off. At each aid station I would get the volunteers to clean them, and then off I'd go.

Settle in and smile... So what... its a long day, and given the moisture the area is just a lush jungle of trees. Absolutely beautiful! The day loop (140 miles) had two significant climbs, several short steepers, and one 15ish mile false flat. Three checkpoints tricked out with all the food you could want. Seriously... PB&J, Doritos, jello pudding, chips, race-foods... for such a small race these guys were stocked!!!

I had a recumbant behind me, and traded places back and forth with two other races through the day. So, enough company to not feel totally isolated but I did spend alot of time singing and trying to stay upbeat and in the moment. Made it in off the day loop and then it was time for endless laps of the night loop.

And, what a loop! 9.5 miles, with 480ft of climbing. One short steep hill (which I only rode up about half the time), one longer steep grade (never walked that one), and an even longer grade (but shallower). 480 feet doesn't sound like too much, until you multiply it by 15 and realize that's almost 7500 feet of climbing. The first couple of laps there were people around, then the 12 hour racesrs stopped and things got quiet.

I did get a suprise gift. The awesome Sandy Earl came out and crewed for me. (She's going to rock RAAM on a recumbant in a few weeks). So, when I'd come in off a lap, she'd hand me some food, etc. Aound 5am I got tired. Really sleepy tired where my eyes were doing crazy unfocusness while riding and the Vivarin only gave me heartburn. I negotiated a 15 minute nap, which was perfect and I was able to rock out the final lap (as the light came up) and 3 bonus miles (to the base of the steep hill).

So.. all in all an okay day. Not a steller race, but a solid training race with enough crazy stuff happening to give me a good mental challenge (and 20 or so more ultracup points). My quads and hammys were totally thrashed Sunday/Monday but today I'm feeling tired but okay. Saturday I switch gears to my cross bike as I head to Kansas for the Dirty Kansas 200 miler gravel grinder (and Artemous heads to the shop to get his shifting cleaned up). Build her up and break her down, that's the plan for the next few weeks...

Ride on!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Goodbye Salida...

A sad week. We had to say goodbye to our beloved Salida (aka Barely Bear)...

She was the mama bear of our pack, watched over Trixie, and trained Gretchen and Maddy how to be good pups.

I will never forget falling in love with this 15 pound puppy that looked just like a little bear and wanted to just lay in my arms, and begging Drew to let me have her for my birthday. She was going to be named Boots originally, because that was what he was going to get as my present, but instead we named for where we went for our honeymoon... She grew to be an amazingly sweet and gentle dog.

I will miss her. I hope its true that she and Trixie are somewhere having a joyful reuinion...


Monday, April 5, 2010

RR: Davis aka "Sweet ride, how fast does it go?"

This past weekend was the 24 Hours of Davis road race...

Friday afternoon I was headed out to do a short ride in the rain and in the elevator of the hotel some guys looked Artemous (all pretty with his Corimas on) and said to me "Sweet ride, how fast does it go." I replied "As fast as his rider"... well, this weekend that wasn't all that fast! But, I did learn alot...

Lesson 1: Remove the odometer when packing the bike in the bike box. I did not do this, and the piece that holds it on snapped and I couldn't get it to stay on the bars. A little super glue fixed that right up, but also locked it up in such a way I could not reset it or change the read-out. So, I could see my current speed but the display showed hours elapsed... including an hour and change from my ride on Friday. Cost me about 10 minutes at one point where I turned early on a wrong road... easily corrected but irritating!

Lesson 2: Its hard to do a race with lots of climbing the first weekend of April, when I haven't had a chance to do any climbing in training. The first 165 miles of the race goes out into some really gorgeous terrain, with lots of climbing. The early ones were long and gradual, so I just stayed light and eased up them. Not as fast as I'd like but in a its a long day, take it as it comes way. Then around mile 60 we hit the climb up tp the ski area. 5ish miles, 2400ish feet. Steep and it made me pay and pay. I was completely baked at the top, and starting to listen to the little devil on my shoulder saying I should stop at 12 hours instead of continuing on to 24. That little guy wouldn't shut up!

Lesson 3: Even when it gets easy, it can be scary! Around mile 80 theres a sweet 3 mile 7% downhill on a highway. I was chillin at 36mph when my front tire blew. Carbon rim on ground sounds BAD! I was able to react well, and slowed down safely. A few minutes to stop shaking from the adrenaline rush, 10+ minutes to change my tire (they are clinchers, but really tight) and I was back on my way.

Lesson 4: Molasses cookies rock! And so do the check point volunteers! 15 miles later was a checkpoint and they had these most delicious molassas cookies. I think I ate 4 of them! Actually, all of the check points were great and staffed by really awesome friendly folks. I also rediscovered a love of PB&J sandwiches. And, Lee Mitchell was tehre and pulled a tube and a new CO2 cartridge from his well stocked van so I had a new spare.

Lesson 5: Make sure the cell phones are charged. Drew planned to go ride during the day and then crew for me at night, which was a great plan (see Lesson 4) until my celll phone died and I guess his did too. A volunteer at CP4 texted him for me that I was moving slower than expected and wouldn't get back before dark so I needed him to bring me some lights. From 6-7pm I watched the cars coming towards me carefully looking for our little rental car but nothing. I was getting really stressed, wondering how long I could keep going, and then finally I saw him coming toward me.

Lesson 6: Just keep going and things will turn around. It seems the hours from 7pm to 1am are my witching hours. The climbing was over, other riders were around, and I got my mojo on. This was the best riding I did all day. Had some Lada Gaga playing in my right ear, and was singing and pushing the pedals and just having a blast. I'm glad I didn't listen to the little devil telling me to stop!

Lesson 7: California is cold in the spring! I wore tights, booties, 2 shirts and a jacket all day and stayed fairly comfortable. About 4am though it got COLD! I came in off an 18.5 mile loop and I was frozen solid. Everything hurt from clenching against the cold. Drew, Patty Jo, and Lee sprung to action and we put Drew's booties over my booties, added a second heavy rain coat, put a buff around my neck, and a shower cap under my helmet (cool trick!) and I was warm the rest of the ride.

Lesson 8: The race will eventually end. Came in at 6:15 off my last full lap and had only 18 minutes to go. Went out to pick up a few more miles... Ended up way short of my goal, 275.9 miles, and I got spanked by my competition, but all in all I got what I needed from this race. I got my butt spanked by the climbs, I learned some new tricks and oopses, and after a few days to recover I'm jazzed to get on with the season. I did get 20 points towards the UltraCup. Next up is Lewis and Clark 24 Hours on May 29th near Portland. It will also have lots of climbing, but I'm going to be working that hard the next 7 weeks and I'll be ready to rock!

Thanks for reading, and keep on riding!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

3 great books...

Lotsa trainer time leads to book reading. My three recent favorites are:

* Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - a great reminder that running is FUN and a great story of ultrarunning...

* The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - a fabulous tale of ife from a dogs perspective

* The Soup Peddlers Slow and Difficult soups by David Ansel - interesting story and good recipes (I've only made one so far but it was a winner!)

Read and ride on!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

RR: 24 Hours of Sebring

Last weekend was time to break the ice on a new racing season at the 24 Hours of Sebring. In sunny, warm Florida. Oh, wait, let me rephrase. In cold, damp, windy as all get-out Florida!

Artemous was chomping at the bit to start, he has been stuck on the trainer since the year started (only the Raven has been outside) but I admit I was apprehensive as it was dark, cold, and really really windy (the winds were gusting at 25-30mph). Drew was doing the 12 hour race, and our good friend Wayne (Deca-Ironman) came down to start his season with the 24 hour race. At 6:15am the three of us headed over to the start line. We lost Wayne in the crush, and at 6:30 we all set off. The announcer reminded us that 2 digit numbers were trying to qualify for RAAM and couldn't draft. I was number 110... I hadn't really thought about which category I wanted to be in since I've decided against RAAM, but with the blustery winds I started to smile since I was now draft legal.

The race starts with 3 laps around the Sebring raceway. I hooked up with a group with a tandem and 3 guys coming off the track. Rode out to the turnaround with them. (was quite fun, I forget how much fun pack-riding is, and way faster than I would have been into the wind alone). Chatting with them kept my mind off of the cloudy skies and the fact that I could not feel my toes. There was an aid station at the turn-around and they took time at the turn, so I headed back. I was also a tad concerned about the pace as they were all doing the 12 hours. They cruised by me a bit later and I said hello and kept on spinning.
I finished up the 100 miles in 5:58 (clock time), stopped at the car for some food, and headed out to start my 11 mile day loops. I met up with Drew at my 2nd 11 mile lap. We rode together for the rest of his time, not drafting just side by side chatting. The winds were still gusting, but for a while here the sun was out and I actually started to feel a bit warm. It was lovely! Was averaging 16.1 (bike time) at 11:52 when Drew was done (he got in 192 miles... a solid day! And then he spent the night crewing for me).

Wayne managed to break his Speedplay cleat, his wife went into town to see if she could get a new one but there were no cleats to be found. His day ended way early at 100 miles (but he did get a nice warm bed that night... I was kinda jealous).

After sunset the wind died down to a gentle roar (5-10mph) but it got WAY cold. I had on a long jersey, my winter bike coat, a windbreaker, Drew's winter bike coat, 2 pairs of tights, my gloves and Drew's gloves but it was still cold. I tried to do sets of 5 laps (3.9 miles each) on the track between pit stops. I stopped at 4:45am because I was just frozen. Stood by the BBQ pit for a while to try to warm up and decide if 300 miles was enough. I headed back out with 1:20 to go and finish it off.

I finished reasonably well compared to the other real bikers, but got SLAUGHTERED by the recumbants. I think the top 3 men and top 2 women were all on recumbants, the flat course and headwinds really suited their bikes. I finished with 321 miles, 2nd (and last) in my category, some 60 miles behind a recumbant.

When we got in the car to leave Sebring it was 32 degrees out. All in all.. I'm pleased. I feel MUCH better than last year and I feel like I rode stronger even though I came in 4 miles less. The wind and cold took alot out of me, but I never had that exhausted I need a nap feeling... well until the drive back to Tampa. Artemous needs to go into the shop as I broke a derailler cable (I think). Would not shift when I put him in the bike box... (did not notice it during the race but then I didn't shift much on the track).

I guess I'm done complaining about the 40-50 degree sunny days here in Denver. If it's not actively snowing, it's warmer here than in Florida!!!

Next race isn't until April... the 24 Hours of Davis... I'm looking forward to an awesome season!!!

Ride long,

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bike Love

I see a few miles of these marking the bike lane on my typical weekend route... Never fails to crack me up...

Ride on... Leslie

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bring on 2010!!!!

It's been way too long since we've posted... but it's because nothing but the usual good life is happening. We had a lovely holiday season, and are now back to training like mad, working hard, and loving every day of warm weather that happens (somewhat frequent in Colorado in the winter, but rare enough to be special).

I started to update the race schedule for this season... will add to it gradually. It's the usual craziness for me, lots of fun ultracycling events. And, for Drew it's two solid chances to qualify for "The Ironman" at St George and at Canada.

First race is coming Valentines Day weekend. 24 Hours of Sebring for me, and 12 for Drew. Last year I did some 325 miles, so this year I'll set my goal at 330, my Stretch goal at 350, and my must do or I'll be irritated at 310. I'm feeling pretty good. It's hard to truly build mileage this time of year, but I have several 6-8 hour rides under my belt and will be starting the year off with a 1000+ mile January again so we'll see! It's really just a great chance to soak in some Florida sun and hang out with Marsha and Robin!

Beginning to begin to plan for the Race Around Ireland. My crew is coming together... and I'm at least starting to wrap my head around the logistics of a 5 day, 1350mile race in another country.

More "soon"...