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

Coast Hills Classic 2014

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Because the Coast Hills classic is upon us this coming weekend, I thought I write a little story about the race that started it all for me. I had been in Corvallis only about 9ish months, my first months riding were done alone on my cross bike, with Pandora blaring, and Strava.  I knew no one that rode.  My claim to knowing the Mac so well is that I rode most of those trails by myself, on my cross bike the wrong way and usually in the rain. So I continued on this way and figured eventually you always meet people that ride, and really you can’t be too picky.  You have to throw yourself out there and start meeting people and riding and see what happens.  So that is what I did, it was a women’s spring group ride in Blodgett.  I threw myself out there, met some great gals, and met Rheannon and SoSo.  And so my days of riding my crossbike the wrong way with Pandora blaring and Strava recording every inch of where I had been were in the rearview mirror. I had made riding friends, let the adventure riding begin. So from that day forward we rode, and we rode long, and to new places on mountain bikes the correct way on the trails, in the sun.  It was blissful, and I was so excited to have riding friends.  Racing season was just around the corner, I had honestly never thought of myself as a mountain bike racer.  I raced cyclocross, commuted a lot, and just rode a mountain bike for fun.   Its funny in life who you cross paths with that change your thoughts and ideas about things.  After a few months of riding with my new friends I started feeling like “yea I could race”.  Rheannon had her spring and summer mostly dialed with races, training schedules, nutrition and goals.  I was in awe, we started riding more elevation than I had thought humanly possible, riding often, and riding long miles.  And then she asked if I was going to to race the Coast Hills Classic, and I think I laughed.  I had already bypassed the Mudslinger on a count of it being too muddy, and I am not sure how thats much different than cyclocross but it is.  And now with the Coast Hills Classic a week away I had to make a decision, but my saving grace was that I could register day of so I didn’t have to commit until that day.  As the week drew to a close, we had talked about it and were both in.  Then the early morning text, Rheannon was out.  I was torn, it was going to be really easy to sleep in, oh and it was raining.  All good reasons to stay where I was, in bed.  But no, I got up got my things together loaded up and was off to the coast for the day.  It rained the whole way there, and it didn’t let up.  I thought who in there right mind gets up early on a Sunday, drives an hour to race in the rain, and pays money.  Well, I suppose I am now that person.  I got there and found where I needed to be when, parted with my money and I was officially registered.  So there I was warming up in the rain, I rolled to the startline when they called.  It was a sea of people and I was able to get close to the group I would start with.  I looked around and positioned myself at the back of the group, I figured that was the safest place.  I thought to myself I am way outta my league and I had no back up, it was just me.  These gals were serious and the talk was of times, and past races.  All I could think was please dont let me finish last, and please let me finish in one piece…and then we were off, and those girls were off like cruise misiles.  It was all I had to just to get up the road to get to the trailhead, then I thought I have 19 more miles to warm up why am I killing myself.  I settled in, and enjoyed the ride.  The trail was muddy, and it would suck you in.  There were grassy uphills I regained time, and forest roads led you into more muddy singletrack.  It was a 2 lap race to make 20 miles, so the advantage I had was I had already ridden the first lap so I knew what to expect.  Lap 2 was a little faster and way more fun.  The rain never let up and it was a mudfest, I finished smiling and my bike was well preserved in a thick layer of mud. Oh, and I finished 2nd to last, in one piece.  So I had achieved the goal I had set forth for myself. It turned out this race started it all, a year later I now have more goals, training schedules and a few races on the horizon for this season.