SBT GRVL Recap

4 Comments

SBT GRVL Recap

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, announced that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. With race day approaching, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

0 days to go-Sunday August 18th

Since I didn’t post about Friday or Saturday, I’ll start there. Friday was a day off the bike. I packed, I worked, and I got ready to leave early Saturday morning. I do remember rolling and stretching in the evening.

Saturday was drive to Steamboat and pre ride 2 sections of the course. This was very valuable. It required a little extra effort and logistics with driving and routes, but it was worth it to see some of the harder gravel sections. I was then lucky enough to be part of the “Pro Panel” question and answer forum. My good friend Daphne came with me and we enjoyed a very relaxing late afternoon of bike cleaning, cheese/cracker and wine happy hour fun, dinner, and finally #vanlife bed time.

Sunday- race day. It went well! The only thing I would change or do differently is plan my morning a bit better. I woke up at 4:30 excited to have plenty of time to relax, and get ready. I must have done a seriously good job of phaffing around because all of a sudden it was 5:45 and I hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet or finished my poo routine (race started at 6:30). That was less than ideal as I suddenly became very rushed. By the time we got to the start, we were lined up way in the back (which was fine because, thanks to good pack handling skills, we were at the front before the neutral was even over).

Some blog worthy highlights from the race;

Race plan- I had race plan, hydration plan, and nutrition plan and I stuck to them. I raced my own race. Because my breakfast was compromised due to poor timing, I knew I had to eat early and often so I didn’t get hungry. It can be easy, in a race like this, to forgo your own race plan on favor of doing what the group is doing. If you needed more water or food or bathroom, you had to stop. This meant you could lose the group you were riding with. This race had so much drafting that if you weren’t with a group, you were at a big disadvantage. I have never liked racing other people’s race, so I stuck to my plan and was confident with it.

The Poo Stop- It happened. Despite all the planning, and fiber forgo-ing, I had to stop to poo. Perhaps if I had waken up earlier, it would have come out before the race… Around 3 hrs into the race, I was starting to get cramps from having to go to the bathroom so badly. But, I was in a group that was rolling along nicely that also had 2 women in it (my competition). I finally cracked and at the next porta potty I had to stop. It was like euphoria and after, I felt like a whole new rider and energy and good vibes. 2 other women also stopped with me, so we were even.

Race forward- After the bathroom stop, I did have to chase back on for a while and that was annoying. Once I caught the group, which was now about 50+ people and with several women, they seemed to be soft pedaling around. At the end of the day, this group finished ~5min behind me so I could have stayed with them and finished in the same place, but I like to race my bike forward (and not be complacent), so I rode right through them.

Basic Group Riding Skills- I remembered from my experiences at Leadville, that basic pack riding skills and how to ride in a rotating paceline are not common skills. As a coach who thrives on teaching skills, I find this very unfortunate and a bit annoying. This was the case again today. So many times, I would be with a group and try to encourage “working together”, paceline, etc, and it just wouldn’t work out. If we all worked together to get to the finish, not only would we finish faster, we would save energy while doing so. 90 miles into the race, I gave up any hope of riding nicely with someone and rode solo for the next 45 miles.

My body- did great! One thing I didn’t not post on the blog, because I was embarrassed by it, is the fact that I lowered my saddle on Tuesday. With the encouragement of a friend, he suggested I lower it 3mm to help ease the stress on my back. Lowering ones saddle 5 days before a race is not ideal. I thought this will either be extreme self sabotage or just the ticket I need to limit my back pain. Turns out, it’s just what I needed. My back did great! I started getting pretty uncomfortable at mile 120, but I have not had 1 ride in the past several years with that small amount of pain.

My equipment- also did great! Not one problem with my bike, kit, bibs, etc. One thing I didn’t expect was how dirty and dusty my glasses got, so I had to clean the off a few times.

Overall, I finished 5th. 4th Pro woman. One age group rider was very fast. I stayed strong both physically and mentally (my mental mantra when I was alone for so long was “I am better, I am faster, I am stronger”). I stayed cool thanks to dumping water on my head and over my body. I never felt in the hole with hydration or nutrition. My time was 7:24 hours. My Garmin had 7:17, so I had 7min of phaffing around at the aid stations and in the porta potty (2:18min).

While I am a bit disappointed with the result, I could not have done anything better and I have to be happy with that. The women who beat me are very strong, and raced their bikes well.

Racing this gravel race was a great learning expierence, and a great personal challenge. Thanks for reading!

4 Comments

Things You Won't Find on the Blog

Comment

Things You Won't Find on the Blog

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, announced that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, inside 1 week from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

4 days to go-Thursday August 15th

I was talking to my sister and she was telling me how much she enjoyed reading the blog (yay!). I said, “you know what you won’t read in the blog is the fact that I’ve had diarrhea the past 1.5 days so I’m stopping all fiber now. Too many wild raspberries, mushrooms, and salad from the garden is wrecking havoc on my system”. To which she replied, “I think that would be a great blog post! The nutrition part of the training and racing along with a race that starts so early in the morning is hard to figure out, especially for people who eat healthy and include a lot of fruits/veggies/grains in their diet”. So, there you have it. You now know I’ve been on the potty a fair amount the past day and I didn’t sleep well last night because my stomach hurt.

With the advice of one of my athletes, I had planned to stop all fiber Friday night at dinner and continue all day Saturday. The goal being not having to stop to go poo 2hrs into the race (which has happened both times I have done a race that starts at 6:30am). But with this new liquid development, I will start now. Far less fruit and very few veggies. As I get closer to race day, whole grains will go away too (which feels weird and “unhealthy”).

Another thing you have not read on the blog is the fact that I have been battling a saddle sore since our tour of Colorado. After going 5 years without a saddle sore, one decided to show up on day 1 of the Tour. I thought I had it figure out (which chamois to avoid), but it came back during yesterday’s 1 hr ride. So, that is annoying.

Early in this race blogging adventure, I wrote about my bike- gearing, tires, etc. But I didn’t write what tire pressure I was going to use. During today’s ride, I figured out that I like 35. Just like tires, everyone has their opinion on what pressure is best. Ultimately, it comes down to the rider and what he/she likes.

Back to Thursday; I didn’t feel great thanks to my stomach issues and LB’s body work on Wednesday, but I wanted to put some work in my legs and today was the day to do it. I started with ~20min of dynamic stretching, core, Foundation Training and then rode for 75min on a hilly dirt route that required pressure on the pedals to just get up the hills. I didn’t push the pace, but I didn’t really hold back either. I felt pretty flat, but that’s ok. Then, because it is Thrusday, it was time to ride MTB’s with friends. I felt much better for the evening ride and again, didn’t push the pace but didn’t hold back either. This double day is just what I needed to wake up the body and get some spunk in the legs.

A few more prep things got done today as well;

  • dialing in the van

  • re watching the course videos

  • list check offs

  • etc

Looking ahead, I will write about my day today (Friday) later today. Then I’ll be off to Steamboat and won’t blog until after the race. Thanks for reading!

Comment

4 days to go!

Comment

4 days to go!

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, announced that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 1 week out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

4 days to go-Wednesday August 14th

In an ideal world, we make a plan, and are able to follow the plan to a “T”. However, our bodies are not machines, and plans often have to be changed. In this case, I’m referring to a training plan. When I roughly laid out my ideal training, I would have put in some work this past weekend and then taken it easy early week this week and I scheduled things to do so. Instead, I took it easy over the weekend and am still taking it easy early week this week due to said scheduled things. While I would like to have a little more “work” in my legs, I woke up this morning and had a spring in my step. Wow, my legs and body felt good.

This morning was a 2 hour private mountain bike skills session with the same nice/strong lady I had a clinic with 2 weeks ago. Today’s focus was tight turns/switchbacks, steering the bike, and vision. She did really well and we had fun. Riding my MTB felt easy and my bike felt light under me. I would have loved to ride more, but I had LB scheduled. LB is the body work master and I scheduled this appointment 5 weeks ago. His work usually wrecks my legs for a day or two and then I feel great, so that’s the plan here.

Otherwise, I added a few more things to my to-do list, and got a few things checked off. I’m getting pretty excited to head to Steamboat.


Comment

The Final Preparation Begins

3 Comments

The Final Preparation Begins

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, announced that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 1 week out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

5 days to go- Tuesday August 13th

This close to a big event, it isn’t really about the bike or the training anymore. It’s about the preparation. Dialing in the final details that can make or break your race.

The last time I did a big event race (Leadville 2014), I made a series of preparation mistakes that eventually lead to a DNF. This is despite being well supported and having a good team behind me. So, for Steamboat, I want to be very prepared and having thought through everything.

It was time to get all my thoughts, lists, ideas, to-do’s, etc., on paper and start preparing. I need to get the van ready for #vanlife, food bought for #vanlifing and racing, make some sort of schedule to keep me on task so I don’t end up stressed on Friday, etc. It felt good to start this preparation and start to feel excited about the race as opposed to stressed or frazzled. I also got an updated start list so I could dial in on who my competition is (it’s very strong! MTB’ers, Roadies, Triathletes, Gravel, and CX racers).

For training, I woke up feeling a lot better today (yay!). I had a 90min private Time Trial lesson with a nice woman and it was perfect. Some easy riding, some fast riding (in her draft), and low stress. Before meeting her, I did 20min of dynamic stretching, Foundation Training, core, etc. I definitely could have done more today, but, like I mentioned yesterday, just because you can ride harder/longer, doesn’t mean you should. Then I left my bike at Tin Shed Sports to have the final touches put on. This pretty much means give it to my friend and former team mechanic Erik, to make sure it is race ready. The front brake was rubbing, so I’m glad it’s in good hands to get it dialed.

Rolling and stretching in the evening ended a very nice day.

3 Comments

Groundhog Day

Comment

Groundhog Day

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, announced that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 1 week out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

6 days to go- Monday August 12th

An early ski coach of mine used to always say, “at the end of the day, you are your own best coach”. I didn’t understand that. Did that mean he was a bad coach, or I needed to learn how to be a ski coach? I’ve come to learn that coaches are unique. Each coach has his/her own coaching philosophy, style, way to communicate, teach, etc. At the end of the day, I needed to learn how to filter out what helps me best (and get rid of the rest) and use that to help me. At the end of the day, I am responsible for myself, for my training, and for my results.

Today felt like Ground Hog day of last Monday. While my legs didn’t feel like 100 lb weights, I did sleep in and felt like I could have kept sleeping. I was/am tired. Again, it was disappointing to be tired after 3 days of really easy activity or rest. I don’t know if last week was too hard, or it’s hormone related (all I have been wanting to eat the last 4 days has been chocolate/dessert, so that’s my first guess), or a crazy bike racer head space. But, I'm glad I have the experience to know that my body will come around. So, again, I reminded myself the most disappointing thing would be to wake up on race day with tired legs.

The week before a big event is tricky. It is so easy to do too much. One too many workouts can wreck months of preparation. I can race a criterium with fatigue in my body, but I can not race a 141 mile gravel race with fatigue in my body. So, I will rest and have trust in the process and my body.

Comment

ALP Team MTB Ride

Comment

ALP Team MTB Ride

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, announced that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 1 week out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

7 days to go- Sunday August 11th

1 week to go! After months of planning, prepping, training, resting, eating, sleeping, the race is right around the corner.

This morning was an ALP Cycles Racing mountain bike team ride. We met at Tin Shed Sports and off we went. Most of the riders had raced yesterday or were on a rest week, so the ride was pretty mellow but didn’t lack in fun, beauty, or skills talk. We are trying to grow our dirt side of the race team. Our road team is strong and diverse and that’s what our MTB and CX teams are looking to copy. During the ride, we talked about body position and weight distribution, vision, steering with the knees, and relaxing and letting the body and bike flow. We were out for 2hrs and it was great.

Personally, my body took a while to get going. After two days off, I felt sluggish and slow. As the ride went on, I started to open up and feel a lot better (and my bike didn’t feel as heavy).

I came home and took a nap (!!). I don’t usually nap like I did today, so that is a solid sign that my body is still tired. Post nap, was a few house chores and then another solid roll and stretch session. I’m still tight but am starting to loosen up a bit.

Comment

Comment

To Rest is to Recover

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 1 week out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

8 days to go- Saturday August 10th

Not much to report on today. It was another rest day. As often seems the case, I was more tired today (2 days after the training block) than I was yesterday.

After a morning of admin and accounting for ALP Cycles, I joined NATO (Nederland Area Trails Organization) to help with the finishing touches of a new trail that they have built (mostly I supervised, ate wild raspberries, did some digging, and trash pickup).

Then I finally did a much needed rolling and stretch session (~45min). It felt really good and made me realize how tight I am (maybe that’s part of my back pain?). My goal is to be more diligent with rolling and stretching this next week.

I also checked out and followed along with the Leadville 100 to keep an eye on our ALP athletes who were racing and 2 of my competition who were racing. Having raced Leadville, I understand the demands of the race and the fitness required to finish in a fast time.

Today was a great rest and recovery day.

Comment

8th Day

Comment

8th Day

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, less than 2 weeks out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

9 days to go- Friday August 9th

Since I have started this SBTGRVL blog, I have had 7 recovery days. Today is my 8th. I want this to sink in— in the past almost 3 weeks, I have had 8 days off. As I’ve described before, days off are not always rest days, but I want to demonstrate how important recovery is when training for an event (or just life in general). Without proper rest and recovery, the body cannot make the changes and adaptations needed to become better, faster, stronger. Tomorrow will be my 9th rest day and there will be more this week leading into the race.

The past 3 days of training where hard. 5min intervals followed by a hard 4hr ride with 6,666ft of climbing all above 7,000ft and then 40/20’s. 2 of the days were double days. I’m tired. Train hard, rest hard, repeat.

Today was a great day to get work done, get caught up, and relax a bit (no rolling or stretching or anything today). Then, off to Specialized Boulder to meet with a few riders from ALP Cycles Racing and 7 girls from Mile High 360. This was cool. Mile High 360 is a comprehensive, wrap-around services program designed to provide students from high-poverty communities with after-school, weekend and summer access to essential out-of-school resources in three core areas. Today’s summer activity was to ride bikes. Together, we did bike handling drills, laid down fat skids, and finished with a relay race (the Skittles team won. And yes, the girl in the above photo did eventually crash due to keeping her right foot down all the time…).

Riding with the Mile High 360 girls, and riders from ALP Cycles racing was a fun and rewarding way to give back to the community and help to grow bike riding.

Comment

40/20's

Comment

40/20's

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, less than 2 weeks out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

10 days to go- Thursday August 8th

Today was an early morning so I could get to Boulder to meet and ride with one of my ALP Cycles Coaching athletes. He is a very strong rider and would be on a TT bike, so I needed to bring my ‘A’ game (that’s part of the reason I didn’t go longer yesterday). Surprisingly, I felt just fine after yesterday’s ride. We are both training for an event on the 18th- not the same one but the training and taper strategy is very similar. On tap for today was 3x10min of 40/20’s. 40sec at VO2 watts, 20 sec off. Repeat for 10min, rest for 10min and then do 2 more times. Warm up and cool down included sweet spot and tempo intervals.

It was a very good session. For me, it was like motor pacing as I sat on his wheel in the draft (there’s no way I could keep up if I rode next to him). He rode well, and it was nice to spend time with him person and see him put in the work on the bike. Total time was just under 3hrs.

After the ride, I was pretty cooked. The 40/20’s put a hurt on me (even in his draft). Recovery drink and then back home for dog walking and work.

Evening time brought our weekly Thursday night friends ride. The weather made it so we rode after fries, burgers, beers. Every part of my body was angry at this ride, but the fun factor was huge. We were maybe out for 1hr? 45min? 75min? I’m not really sure, but it was worth it.

This has been a great 3 day training block and my body is cooked. Time to rest and get dialed.



Comment

Getting Dialed

Comment

Getting Dialed

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, less than 2 weeks out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

11 days to go- Wednesday August 7th

Today was my last big/hard training ride before SBTGRVL. The last day to get everything dialed in. I tried a different approach with my dynamic warm-up and activation this morning. Since I did core yesterday, I felt pretty “activated”, but tight. I was worried that that would lead to a bike ride filled with back pain, so I rolled out (with the lacrosse ball) mostly my left side.

Then came the usual pre load and BCAA’s. Today, I wore, ate, and drank everything I plan to use in the race. Race socks, chamois, jersey, bottles, drink mix, food, etc. The goal is to limit race day surprises, so plan ahead and be prepared for everything.

Kit/clothing- everything felt good (don’t plan to take a rain jacket in the race but had to use one today)

Hydration- good. 6 bottles today (4 mix, 2 water)- one bottle in the back pocket worked just fine.

Nutrition- good. 1.5 pbj’s, 2 choco chip cookies, 2 bars

Pacing- poor. I tried to really slow down at the start and go steady up the first (and biggest climb) but 90min into the ride, I was already feeling fatigue in my legs. Without a heart rate monitor or power meter to tell me to slow the F down, I will really need to be so patient on race day.

Frame bag- bad then good. I have been unsure what my plan will be for holding all my food/drink. Yes, the race will have a lot of aid stations, but I don’t want to stop every 25miles for water/food. I tried a smaller frame bag today, kind of like a giant bento box (which is embarrassing as I’ve made fun of people with bento boxes on their bikes). Every time I got out of the saddle (which is a lot) it rubbed my inner thighs. I ended up turning it upside down and that was perfect. As long as the zipper stays put (and my snack don’t go flying) that will be what I will use for race day.

Body- not bad. For the past few months, I’ve been battling left side hip, low back pain and today it was my right side (the side that didn’t get rolled out). Interesting… Otherwise, once I moderated my effort a little more in hours 2-4, I felt strong. I felt like I could have ridden more and I still had power in my legs. This is promising as today was only about 1/2 of race duration length. I’ll need to be even smarter with my effort on race day.

Home and recovery drink, bike wash. Good day.

Comment