Skills, Mud and Mud Skills


When I have too much on my plate, I can move through tasks like crazy. As soon as that lets off, I go into slumber mode. Yes. I still have a lot to do, but it all seems less pressing. This in turn makes it less motivating to do ANYTHING. I don’t know why this happens. It is like I am addicted to having too much to do. I mention this problem, because it seems that happened to us. As soon as our season started to lift up we took a sigh of relief. Then we stopped writing posts about the fun stuff we have been doing such as Kerstin’s win at the NW Cup, Kid’s MBO, and birthday craziness. Fear not – we will continue.

Right now, I would like to recount one of my favorite recent adventures — our skills clinic in Newport, OR.

Thanks to the amazing support of Bike Newport, we put on our first skills clinic as a team. We had an unbelievable turnout of 18 women for a terrible stormy day! It was seriously POURING rain. If it wasn’t a beautiful sunny day in Corvallis when I rolled out of bed, I might not have made it out of my PJs. However, the rain didn’t stop these ladies!

The crew nice and cozy inside Bike Newport
Our crew nice and cozy INSIDE Bike Newport before braving the storm.

We huddled in the warmth of Bike Newport for some individual introductions and a quick bike maintenance tutorial from their staff. We chatted about the pre-ride bike checks, what to carry during a ride, and how to start personalizing suspension set up. Then we bravely loaded up into carpools and made our way to the trail system.

Drills during a break in the rain
Preparing for drills and skills demos.

We were lucky enough for a short break in the rain as we huddled together to demonstrate some basic bike handling skills. We practiced important bike/body separation skills and how to navigate small obstacles on the trail. As the rain continued, we hit the trail for a pump contest, but the wet and slippery trail upped my pedal to pump ratio and I am determined to head back to try to hit the entire trail without a pedal stroke. I was not alone. Skills demos started to unfold on how to survive in the mud…. let’s just say weight distribution becomes key in the mud!

Yep. Mud.
Yep. Mud.

We practiced cornering while trying our best not to turn it into a slip and slide! Even when ladies started to slide around, smiles were wide and progress was being made. Eventually we split up into two groups. Kerstin and I led the “A for Awesome” group in search of more challenging trails, while the “B for Badass” group took off with Michelle and Sarah to continue developing new skills learned during the morning session.

Due to some hectic life situations, neither Kerstin or I had been able to come out and pre-ride the trail system. This made us very nervous, but it turned out to be an advantage for our group. Since the group was mainly seasoned veterans of the trail, they were able to lead us to their trouble spots. We didn’t get very far, but we got to focus on a few chutes that the group wanted to try out. Some of them were riding it for the very first time in the worst of conditions! After a demo, Kerstin and I stood on the side of the trail and offered suggestions. It was amazing to watch the ladies transform. A quick “knees out” generated an automatic response and they sailed down the obstacle. The bravery was unbelieveable. It wasn’t until afterwards in the debrief that I realized many of them were riding these spots for the first time. They had total game face on and attacked it with ease.

Meanwhile, Michelle and Sarah led a large group down a fast and pumpy trail that included a couple of tabletops and small root drops. Students took turns sessioning the tabletops and corners, while onlookers cheered them down trail. More than half of team Badass were first-time riders and all of them were able to triumph basic body positioning while gaining confidence – even in the slick conditions!

Michelle coaching “mad skillz” over table tops and roots.

Eventually we met up with the rest of the group and finished out on a fun pumpy trail. I am at a loss for trail names as they were all thrown at me so quickly! I can’t wait to get to know the trail system in Newport on my next visit.

Participants said a sunny goodbye at the END of the day… of course!

As we wrapped up, the rain stopped and the sun came out. We shared our experiences and or challenges from the day, took some photos and ran back to Bike Newport. When we arrived it was amazingly warm and the drinks and snacks were ready and waiting. To top it all off, we even had an available shower! Seriously, I want to end all of my winter rides at Bike Newport! They went above and beyond!

Things got silly
Things got silly when Daniella (Bike Newport) and Sarah were told to “get down with the dirt”…

I want to thank each and everyone of you ladies who showed up. I hope that you got a lot of out the clinic and are putting these skills to work. You were all so amazing and fearless! I can’t believe you all came out in that rain. Please come ride with us again. A special thanks to the locals for sharing your trails with us. Thanks to Bike Newport and the Yaquina Wheels Bike Club for your support! In the meantime, stay warm and shred it up!  We will have a few more adventures to share with you (Kerstin has gone pro after taking 1st in the NW Cup, Sarah and Michelle rocked the fun ride at the Fat 55, we got to hang with some young shredders at Kid’s MBO, and more).
See you on the trail!

Race Report

2015 Mudslinger Breakdown

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NO Apologies! team members, Rheannon, myself (ZimZam), and Soso represented at this years Mudslinger. We had two podium finishes and 1 happy upgrade to the longer loop (Cat 2). The morning started early with volunteering at registration, followed by a quick change, a lightning speed warm up and a one mile group ride to the start line. And there is where this years Mudslinger began….we all started together in the same women’s group, you could feel the nervous energy of the first race of the season.  We were off with a 30 second countdown, Rheannon and I stayed together for the first couple of miles, it felt good to be racing again and to be riding in my old backyard. As we progressed uphill though I couldn’t keep her pace, and I slowly fell back.  I kept Rheannon in view for a bit and then the pink jersey became a small dot before it disappeared. My first goal was met, stay with her as long as I could, and then race my race, and as long as I could keep a decent pace I knew I would finish, and not finish last.

IMG_2641There we were, riding and jostling for position. Looking for the position you most likely will maintain during the race, you usually end up leapfrogging with people. This results in riding with a group familiar faces by the end of the race.   I settled in and was happy to keep picking people off. Races for me are funny, I scream going uphill and I am always caught by the slow climbers on the downhill, it seems to be a good equalizer.  The first major uphill was a virtual mudslide, and it had some walkers already in progress. I was never going to make it up and past 3 walkers, so I dismounted and fell into the uphill walk.  This is where I lost time, a lot of time. I knew though if I could get up the hill, back on my bike and put my feet to the pedals I could make up some of the lost time. All I could do was just keep pedaling, the course played to my strengths of climbing and singlestrack, so I focused on those and let the rest go. Most importantly I still felt really good and was happy to be riding, I wasn’t dying or wanting to throw my bike off a cliff. The only times I get really nervous in a race is if I don’t see any other riders for awhile, that happened more than twice but I eventually caught up with other riders. In the back of my head I was hoping one of those riders would be Rheannon, but no such luck. I did fall back with the group I had been leapfrogging, and we were near the entrance of the Panama Canal I got in front and took off, disappointingly it was the readers digest version of the Panama Canal, as soon as it started it was done. I was so looking forward to that section, its technically challenging, some great single track and just enough off camber to make it fun.  I knew we were getting close to the turn off to head of the road, and if I could conserve enough energy to get up the road quickly my race would be done.  Once we made the turn to the road I shifted into the large ring and took off. And yes I did use a few groups along the way for a pull, but it was up to me to stay in front of them.  And that I did, I finished by myself at 2hrs.  I was scanning for Rheannon, I knew she had finished and in the back of my head I did wonder how far off her time I had finished.  It ended up being 8 minutes, and a great motivator to know what things I need to work on to stay with her.  So 2 of No Apologies had finished, we waited anxiously for Soso.

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We were excited to hear how her race had gone, and if she felt like the long course was a good decision. We of course believe the longer you are on your bike, the better. But I am sure not everyone feels the same. She looked great as she crossed the line, and decidedly was glad she had done the long course. We were excited to have the first race with multiple No Apologies! in the books, we were officially a team. We finished, had some fun, and came out unscathed. All of that equal success in my book.  As we stuffed our faces with food we recounted our experiences and waited for results.

IMG_1675I was hoping for top 10, and not last place.   They have WebScorer, which gives live results, and as people cross the line the results are continually changing.   So there I was in the open women category looking at a 3rd place finish, I thought it was for surely a mistake, so we waited, everybody was in and they were updating and getting people into the correct categories. Strangely I was still 3rd, unbelievable I thought to myself. During all of this 3rd place uncertainty in my mind we checked Rheannon’s results, she was first in her age category for women.  It then started to sink in, we really are badass.  I was 3rd and she was 1st, and Soso made an upgrade to Cat 2, it couldn’t have been a better Sunday.

Missing 2/3rds of a podium
Missing 2/3rds of a podium
First Podium!
First Podium!