Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Building my time machine

I call it my time machine because I'm banking on free speed. I've never been this involved in the production of building a bike. Yeah sure, I've sat in my husband's bike shop aka our basement and "helped" him with bike builds. "Here hold this, hand me that, does this look straight?" But I've never actually invested emotion into the process, until now.

My first XTERRA and my first win.  Pictured L to R Shain,
Stan, me Al and Luke, we're a bunch of Misfits.
Last year was my debut XTERRA season. I swore up and down that I would NEVER EVER ride trails. Run them, sure, ride them, NEVER!!! Until I won my first XTERRA. Yeah, I won, not my age group, I won as the overall female finisher. Call it a fluke, a sign, an act that could not be I signed up for 7 more including an earned spot at US Nationals and later Worlds in Maui. I never won again, but my maiden voyage was definitely not a fluke. I earned a Midwest Regional Champ title and placed 10th in my AG in Ogden and 11th in Maui. Not too shabby for a newbie!

The Spearfish post XTERRA Worlds Maui

All of this riding was done on a hand-me-down Salsa Spearfish full suspension, which I love, but has proven to be a lot of's like having a huge ass that you have to haul over logs, rocks and roots. I really don't need any help in that department.

So my husband convinces me that I NEED a new bike. I know he's looking for what will make me a better rider, he has my best interest at heart always. But I know there's a part of him that knows if he can build me a super bike his isn't too far behind. He's right.....he knows me well.

Enter the great frame debate. The choice of hardtail vs full suspension (HT vs FS from here on out) was a no brainer. Way more responsiveness on the HT. But the metallurgy was up for grabs. Steel vs aluminum vs titanium. Carbon wasn't included. Yeah it's light but we were looking for long lasting beauty.

Steel is real as they say. So it was decided, or so we thought. I learned a ton about steel frames and who had the best frames in my husband's opinion and that of our bike shop go to fella Toby and his trusty wrench Chad. Gunnar followed by Niner (if financing was an issue this was our fallback). Long story short, I did a 36 mi Niner (aluminum 29r HT) test ride up in Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine and decided I liked Niner, plus they had a very cool "Misfit" green frame. Alas, I was talked out of the Niner and back into a Gunnar. Back and forth back and forth for weeks this went on.

Then out of the blue husband finds a hell of a deal on a HT ti 29r frame and fork. We pounced, bought two of them, his and hers!

Here she is, just hanging around. She's so pretty.
Done, frame decided and I thought that was the hard part.

Now I'm not stupid. I know the components are the bread and butter of the bike build. I know what constitutes quality parts too. My tri bike sits around 19ish lbs largely in part due to the components. But geesh, this glowing beauty pictured here will not be much heavier than my tri bike we're estimating around 21lbs. So how the heck are we gonna get my bike so light? I my friends will be one of the few peeps on the trails riding a SRAM XXI! I'll wait while you swallow your spit you just choked on!

Yep, one giant pie plate cassette in the rear and one chain ring in the front which means I only have one gear shifter to worry about. How about this simple equation? LESS WEIGHT = FREE SPEED! BOOM!

Friend, wheel builder and bike wrench Chad
Jealous? Here's a sneak peak! So I haven't actually ridden the 1x11 yet, shit, no one really has except for a few guys in England. I read their review and I was pretty impressed. So I'm not scared that the 1x11 is new technology. My logic is SRAM is a reputable company and they wouldn't have released the groupo if it wasn't quality stuff.

So onto the rest of the candy! DT Swiss hubs, Shimano XTR brakes, Stan's Crest wheels, Rock Shox Reba RL shock.

All that aside what I'm excited about is the design.... You can take the girl out of the jewelry store but you can't take the jewelry store out of the girl..... double talk aside. I love to accessorize!

So, my shiny ti frame is gonna go glam! Gold Chris King headset, gold seat post clamp, gold skewers, alternating gold and black spoke nipples, white grips, white seat-post, white WTB Diva seat (awesome on the hooha) and last but not least white Stan's Crest tubeless wheels with a black and white hub! Oh did I mention one draw back with the XXI, we had to wait until a company came out with a compatible hub set.... Sigh.....the drawbacks of being cutting edge!

DT Swiss rear hub, XXI compatible
 All in all this has been one awesome experience. I'm invested in the bike, emotionally. I'm pretty amped to hit the dirt once she's built and earn some serious PRs this coming season. I know I have a lot of room for improvement being that I have one season under my belt so I feel good things coming.

I do have to pay respect to the Salsa though. That green machine took me to places I never wanted to go. Part of why I never wanted to ride the trails is because I'm was a big wussy. I'm still a little scared to ride some sections of trail.

Stans Crest notubes. Chad's lacing
these badboys as we speak

Building a bike from the ground up so to speak is far more rewarding that picking one off of the rack. There were points in this process that I never thought I'd see the end result and having a vision of what I wanted the bike to look like was challenging. I'm not a bike mechanic, I know enough to get me in trouble so I'm grateful to my husband Al, Tobie and Chad when they felt me steering toward disaster guided me back on course!

2013 is going to be Epic. I know that word gets thrown around a lot probably because it's a cool word. How can it not be a great year? I'm riding ti, my husband and I both are members of what is turning out to be a very cool team.... shout out Wattie Ink and I'm gonna be fast this season I know it!


Friday, December 14, 2012

It's all in the "W"

You know that old saying, "It's not all about the "W?" I'm here to tell you that it ABSOLUTELY is all about the "W." Only not in the sense that most of us are familiar with. 

In 2013 it's all about Rockin' the W. Meaning, my husband and I will be racing for and are members of Wattie Ink's 2013 Elite Triathlon Team! 

A big hoorah for something that's been a long time coming!

Thank you goes to our Wattie Ink team sponsors including: K-Swiss, Speedfil, Kask Helmets, PowerBar, Blueseventy, 454 Tattoos, ism Saddles, FuelBelt, and Blue Cycles.


Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Tecumseh Time!

Here I sit, five days out from my 18th marathon. Eighteen is a pretty arbitrary number but you see Tecumseh was my first. In a way it's like revisiting an old friend, going home for the holidays six years in a row. Ever seen that movie Breaking Away? It's my husband's all time fav flick. No I'm not getting off track here, there's a connection. The Tecumseh trail winds through Brown County and Yellowwood State Park which was the backdrop of the aforementioned movie. What's cooler yet is the hotel where the film crew stayed oh so many years ago is where we rest our weary heads every year the night before the race! So my husband gets a big kick out of that!

Off season, a funny concept when I'm about to run a marathon. A marathon that rivals most of the difficult things I've done in my life. We climb 3,200' and descend about the same. We jump logs and cross streams (over 40 of those suckers) on the first Saturday of December..... I'm looking forward to this year's race with temps in the 50s I'm shedding the layers and enjoying the late season warmth! I HATE the midwest winters, HATE HATE HATE!

I don't want to give too much away, race recap in a little over a week! Wish me luck. Planning on wearing the Garmin this year, I want to upload the elevation profile something I'm well aware of but I want to see the end result!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Welcome Letter!

To the reader, the accidental tourist!

This blog was created as a creative space for me to write about my off road adventures from now until I'm tired of doing so! Indulgent, yeah . . . but that's what blogging is! Like it or not, I'm gonna do my best to entertain, inform and get the word out there that getting dirty is better than not! Follow me on this page, on twitter or on the trail!

The Dirty MissFit!
embrace the suck

Maui Race Recap!

So this is my race recap . . . .

Following an okay showing in Ogden at the US Nationals last month I managed to place 10th in my age group thus receiving a roll down slot to the World Championships in Maui. A few weeks later we were on a plane headed toward Maui with bags, bikes and Stan in tow.
Day one we chose to do a little exploring island style which meant drinking, eating, relaxing and catching up on lost sleep from our long travels the day before. We opted to stay near the racecourse in Kapalua, not far from the Ritz. The condo proved to be a great benefit. We found a Safeway and a Costco and were able to save some cash by making some of our own meals.
On to day two we did some speed sight seeing running all over the resort and nearby pineapple plantation. Whoa are there hills in Maui! You'd think I would have learned from Ogden that climbing is a mainstay in the world of XTERRA. We ran the "Lake Loop" along the old golf course in Kapalua and decided to take some photos along the way!
We chilled the following day and decided to pre ride the bike course the Wednesday before the race. Al had full intentions of riding the entire 18 mi course where I had thought an hour would suffice. Two hours and 45 minutes later we finished. Notice my muddy legs. I had long finished my one bottle of water and was one crispy critter but I survived. In hindsight I am super duper glad Al tricked me into riding the entire course mainly because I knew I could handle what XTERRA was gonna throw at me on Sunday. Turns out XTERRA was forced to take the most technical aspect of the course out due to concerns from the DNR that 700 racers would cause undue erosion along a small section of the course. So, no worries....course just got a little easier (I say this totally tongue in cheek). I'm kicking myself now because I didn't take any pictures during the pre ride. At one point there was a ridge line we rode across with 500' drops on either side into a Jurassic jungle!
Bookending our ride and run was site seeing along the famed road the Hana, running down and back up the Haleakala Volcano crater, and snorkeling at Molakini. we hydrated with Kona Longboards and Mai Tais.
The course pre run was much of the same, hills! I think there was actually more climbing in Maui but it was divided up over several long ups. Whereas Ogden was up up and away into outer-space!
Skipping ahead to the night before the race. Driving back to the condo from the Night of Champions dinner Al and I heard an announcement over the radio warning Maui residents of a tsunami scheduled to hit the island later that night. Are you kidding me, a freakin tsunami? Yep, following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Canada the Hawaiian islands were bracing for a 7' wall of water that could potentially cancel the race. Come to find out the following morning dozens of athletes including Ms. Leslie Patterson reigning US Champion and 2011, 2012 World Champion had to sleep in their cars after being told to evacuate their hotels. We were pretty lucky and didn't have to seek higher ground. Oh did I mention the 10' swells that were predicted for the weekend of the race?
Race morning, now the good stuff! BTW, the tsunami didn't cause any significant damage.
The race officials opted to go with wave starts this year. Pros first, age group men then age group women. Pictured are the age group men, can you believe the waves...hence the term rough water swim!
Although I didn't set any records with my swim I was happy that I didn't have a freak out mimicking Ogden. The coolest part of my swim was the dolphin I spotted on my second loop shortly followed by the sea turtle sighting on the sandy floor below.
Transition was a long long run up hill to the bikes then more uphill. I think the first 3-4 miles was all up. Check out my Garmin data for all the deets.... I think my favorite part of the ride was the ridge line I mentioned earlier the one with 500' drops on both sides and sweeping views of the valley below.
Unlike Ogden, in Maui what goes up must comes down. The downhills were fast, potholed, dusty, white knuckled riding. I checked my bike computer after the race and I saw a max speed of 27 mph....holy snappers! I remember at one point the dust was so thick I couldn't see my hand in front of my face not that I would dare peel my fingers from my grips. Besides Maui's finest dirt, the bike course had two bottle exchanges, a definite plus in the hot tropical weather.
The bike course was relentless. I think a lot of my problems stemmed from the extra weight I'm carrying. I'm 10 lbs heavier than I was in Ogden. I blame meat. I failed at Paleo, I'd be a horrible caveman! So what I thought would be a pleasant vegan vacation backfired tremendously. Having to pedal with the added weight was rough. So, lesson learned for next year's season, this gal is powered by plants!
I was pretty stoked to get off the bike if for no other reason than to shake my legs loose. So, the reoccurring theme in this saga was all of the up hill grinding. Again, we started the run going up. XTERRA placed aid stations nearly every mile with water, ice, gatorade and gels to help us along. i felt pretty good on the run except for a small blister I developed earlier in the week (a result of my epic volcano run d'oh.) you know how the small things nag? this blister was a bitch. i was actually hoping for something else to start hurting just to deflect the pain elsewhere. ask and you shall receive right? about 4 miles in I got an awesome side ache....I think I'll blame meat again, cause it's easy. I managed to breath through the side ache and picked up the pace, my mantra "the faster you run, the sooner it's done" going through my mind. The final third of the race was a long decent toward the shoreline. With a quarter mile to the finish XTERRA funneled the athletes onto the beach with another up hill to the end. Ahhhh relief!
It wasn't the finish I had hoped for but I know what I'm up against next year. I'm pretty proud to say that I raced amongst the BEST racers in the world and came out on the other side a "warrior" as they say in the world of XTERRA.