Mudslinger Kicks Off XC Race Season

Katie, Melissa, Mielle and Deanna

Katie, Melissa, Mielle and Deanna

  After last year’s cold and tearful ending, I didn’t think I would go back for another helping of Mudslinger but there I was, standing in the mist in Blodgett, waiting to have another sloppy day on the bike.

Mielle is Bootylicious!

Mielle is Bootylicious!

Deanna, Melissa, Alice and Katie came out too. The weather was MUCH warmer, with temps in the 50’s, warming to the low 60’s and just misty rain off and on. Trails were greasy with a smattering of peanut butter but no rivers running through them like last year.100_3672

 

My focus was on having fun so I didn’t feel as “racy”. Deanna and I are in the same Cat 1/Expert group now that we don’t have any age splits. Deanna climbs like a billy goat and off she went. She took 4th and I took 5th.

 

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Katie caught me, making up huge time in the cat 2 group and also took 4th, beating a ton of girls on her flat pedals.

Post Race Smiles from Melissa

Post Race Smiles from Melissa

Melissa enjoyed her very first XC race EVER! After the race she said, “This is something I would like to train for.” (See her race report) And Alice took 2nd place in the pro women.

Lots of cross country racing coming up in Oregon and Washington so we will be a busy bunch. 

Photo credits: Mielle ,Chaz Donaldson

Ladies ONLY Please

Ladies ONLY Please

From Farm to Desert-3 Tough September Courses

Cross Vegas Baby

Cross Vegas Baby

Our neo pro Beth Ann Orton started her early season elite races with a trip to Starcrossed in Seattle,Wa Sept.14th and Las Vegas, NV for the world renowned Cross Vegas race on Wed. Sept 18th. She had this to say about Starcrossed: 

” Fun race, amazing atmosphere, such a unique event.  It’s beginning to really look like cross season. I really enjoyed staying with Mary and sleeping on her sofa-bed. 
 
I was at the front of the race with a pack of 5 for the first 4 laps, then sitting 4 with 5-6 and a small gap to 1-3rd for quite a number of laps.  I fumbled a pedal stroke after transitioning and was dropped.  I shrunk the gap by race end, but not enough.  Great race, overall, and many lessons learned.  Very aggressive, fast, and fun.  The number of screaming PDX folks around the velodrome made it a memorable day.”  
The N in Ninkrossi

The N in Ninkrossi

While Beth Ann was off racing with world famous guys and gals in September, us mere mortals were digging in to some serious mud. Jill and Remy took on the pure climbers course at Ninkrossi, part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series Sept. 28th, held at the Washougal Motocross course in Washougal, Wa.
Remy outrunning the pack

Remy outrunning the pack

While I worked for OBRA in the pit, I had a first hand view of our girls in action. 17 A women went shoulder to shoulder on the course built for the mountain biker.
Jill in the switchbacks

Jill in the switchbacks

Long climbs, tricky, off-camber descents and lots of bike handling. In the end, Remy found her way to the front, bringing home her best A result so far with a 4th place.  Jill came in shortly after with an 11th place, admitting she may have been over geared for such a hilly course. 
4th for Remy

4th for Remy

Post Fazio hose down

Post Fazio hose down

I got my chance to get muddy at Fazio Farms on Sept.22nd in NE Portland.  This is the second year for Fazio, hosted by the Ironclad team. Last year it was bone dry and windy.

Mielle at Fazio

Mielle at Fazio

This year, the rain came down in buckets and three huge climbs were added. The farm grounds were a combo of gravel, clay mud and grasses. I decided to race A’s instead of master A’s since the field was smaller.
2 of the 3 Fazio Climbs

2 of the 3 Fazio Climbs

I managed to get the hole shot, and worked on getting a gap.  I slid back to 3rd position with a solid gap. That was until 3 laps to go. Starting the steep climb to the slip-n-slide descent, my derailleur seized up and ripped off my bike, unable to continue functioning with all of the mud and grass gunkedup within it.. I had to run  with my bike on my shoulder up two huge climbs, around the manmade mountain, over the barriers to the middle of the field to get my 29’r. Totally exhausting.
Mielle on her pit bike

Mielle on her pit bike

I finished the race a lap down. Alas, no podium this day. It was still a super fun race but a very expensive day. 
derailleur, hanger and chain destroyed

derailleur, hanger and chain destroyed

Photo Credit to Jacob Tong/www.thewolfsmouth.com
Adam/www.retroshift.com
Matthew Lasala//www.lasalaimages.com

Femmes bring home Wins! Double Cross Weekend- 9/14-15/2013

Beth F at the barriers

Beth F at the barriers

Wow! We had some intense weather for Hood River Double Cross September 14th and 15th. Returning to the original venue at Hood River High School, we were treated to 95 degrees on Saturday and then 70’s and 35 mph winds on Sunday. Great job to Jill, Beth F and Laurie! That A race was fast. 

Jill, Mielle and Laurie

Jill, Mielle and Laurie

Day one , part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series (GPET), was non stop pedaling with the course  winding around the athletic field and track to the first set of barriers at the end of a gravel path.  A fast and bumpy Single-track descent into the woods with a sharp 90 degree turn at the bottom challenged riders handling skills.  Sand was featured both days along the outside of another single-track section. Lurking along the sand and along the edges of the course were Horny Goat Head thorns.

Horny Goat Head thorns

Horny Goat Head thorns

These plants are plentiful in the Gorge and with all of the wind both days, these tiny, pin-sharp thorns caused tons of flats including one each day in my pre-ride of the course. Sellwood Cycle Repair provided neutral support and they actually ran out of tubes by mid day on Sunday. 
 

Jill chasing JJ from Dirty Fingers

Jill chasing JJ from Dirty Fingers

Jill came out for her first race this season and brought in 6th and 7th place for the weekend.
Mielle Riding Away from the Pack

Mielle Riding Away from the Pack

Beth F had some chain issues day one taking 19th but resolved them by day two moving up to 13th. Laurie powered through day one taking 12th out of 20 A ladies. Flanagan in the chase
Flanagan in the chase
I  took home the win in the master A’s both days.  My best race weekend ever. 
Double Wins for Mielle

Double Wins for Mielle

 
Playing in the giant field sprinklers after day one was the best, followed by big wet hugs for a job well done by all. 
Post race shower

Post race shower

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Photo Credit to David Mackintosh

http://www.dmackphoto.net/Cycling/Cyclocross/Hood-River-Double-Cross-2013/

TESTING THE WATERS- Het Meer 9/7/13

Insert your own caption

Insert your own caption

Plotting, watching and assessing. How is this game played in the unfamiliar waters of Vancouver Lake Park? Camping out on a tiny wooden stool someone dubbed my ‘traveling podium’, mental notes were made as I watched strong racers try to escape their pursuers on the long gravel straight, enduring the pain coursing through their bodies from the seemingly harmless uphill run in the sand.  Leaders did not stay leaders for long. The rider that used others to draft from moved into 1st position race after race.  Deviating from my normal ‘hole shot’ mentality, I formed a new plan of attack for my first race of the season.

THE BEACH!!!!!!

THE BEACH!!!!!!

 Het Meer in Vancouver, WA. is fairly new with its inaugural race kicking off in 2011 as part of a new series of Saturday races. This year it continues to gain steam as part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series (GPET).  1.9 mile relatively flat course is off-set by small off-camber turns, sharp corners to pavement transitions, a long road  and…..the SAND. After many face plant photos struck fear in the sand-curious crowd last year, a “raker” was posted at the transition from grass to beach to keep a deep hole from forming at the launch point. Riding the waters edge was the easy part. It’s the run back to dry land that wore down riders.

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Five master A women on the line. My longtime nemesis Amy Rice/ Lazy Tarantulas, sporting her easily-won GPET leaders jersey, is the spider I want to drop in the sand trap today. Heather Vanvalkenburg/Upper Echelon is known for her speed on flat road and track, so who knows if this course will favor her skills.  Racing on a new bike and I’m feeling frisky

Sand Surfing

Sand Surfing

Whistle blows and I have my sights set on “sitting in” and letting our series leader set the pace on the long gravel road.  Left turn on a long, bumpy single-track trail surrounded by bumpier grass and out of sight of any spectators. Following Amy, Heather and new-to-master A’s, Ellen Smith/Lazy Tarantulas with Holly Kotsovos/Tireless Velo behind me and the pace feels slower than normal.  Over barrier #1, around the playground bark chips, our train spins at a moderate pace to the barriers by the finish. Pace myself. That is the plan. Moving ahead of Ellen on the beach I move in behind Heather, still trailing Amy as we shoulder bikes and trudge up the deep sand. Looping back around to the long gravel road I notice Heather is letting a gap open that I am not comfortable with. Hitting the single-track, I make my move into 2nd position to shut down the gap and hit a bump. CLICK-A-DUH,SHHHHHS. My chain popped off my single chain ring (new bike) and slid down the crank  arm. “ ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I said aloud as Heather rides calmly away.  Ellen finds me trying to unkink my chain, “Mielle are you OK?” to which I reply ‘Yeah’ in a disgrunteled tone.

Laurie at the Barriers

Laurie at the Barriers

CHASE, CHASE, CHASE! Race announcer Luciano makes some comment over the PA system about my current position to the crowd and I tell him I dropped my chain as I ride by. Snaking around the off-camber tree, a group of Team S&M guys are cheering for me and doing THE WAVE.  How do you not smile when people are doing the wave?

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

 I catch Ellen quickly and overtake her, eyeing Heather up ahead.  “Hey Mielle, why are you riding like this is a Grand Fondo” yells Sean from Trusty Switchblade, “Go get Heather”.  Oh I plan to do exactly that.  Surfing the shifting sand, Heather is reeled in on the beach. No idea where Amy is now.

Heather and I are together on the road as she tucks in behind me to recover. Single-track is no problem but dismounting for barrier #1 my chain pops off AGAIN. Holy Crap. Really?  “COME ON” yells Heather with encouragement, but like Alberto Contador, she rides away. 

Chain back on, my brain is doing the math. Do I pit and get my other bike with 1 lap to go or chance it? No pit, just CHASE, CHASE, CHASE!  Heather is caught again but my spider is out of sight. Dodging slower girls awkwardly carrying their bikes, I move in front of Heather on the sand run-up which sends my heart rate sky high.  Through the trees to the gravel road and up go my gears. I am suddenly alone to run it home as Heather has given up the chase. DON’T DROP YOUR CHAIN is running through my mind. My stomach tightens powering through the single-track but it is a clean run through all of the barriers and bark, rolling in for 2nd place.

 The good news is I felt super (thanks C-Velo Performance Cycling Studio), and my Sellwood mechanic will make sure I am not dead in the water at the next race.

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Les Femmes results for the day:

Audrey earned 9th, Laurie 13th and Remy just wanted everyone to know her new bike was awesome but the rider needed work. 

Photo courtesy of:  Klaus Ochs   http://portfotolio.net/klausochs, 

RichRosko/Hammer Velo

Adam at Retroshift   http://www.retroshift.com/Post race chin wag

Post race chin wag

Grand Prix Erik Tonkin Series Begins-Hot Start for Les Femmes

header-gpet

Quick Draw Tonkin

Quick Draw Tonkin

Our beloved leader of all things cyclocross and mountain bike went and got an entire race series named after him, the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin.  Erik has put in the time with close to 20 years racing professionally and has been running Sellwood Cycle Repair since anyone can remember, so he has more than earned the “legend” status in the world of cyclocross racing. So why the sasquatch? In Europe, Erik was dubbed  “The Caveman” for his non traditional hairy legs and beard.

These days, Erik sightings are very common at Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters in Sellwood, and you may spot him providing neutral support at some of the GPET races.

22 women for the first race

22 women for the first race!

Race #1 started August 31st at David Douglas park in Vancouver, Wa. The course combines flat grass sections, gravel, playground bark chunks and two steep climbs. In the middle of the course is a single-track descent that backed up riders since passing here was impossible. The climb out of the descent was a runner for the less powerful rider, but the remainder of the course was dry and fast. With temps reaching the high 80’s, it was a hot start to the season.

Beth Ann with Sue behind her

Beth Ann with Sue right behind her

Beth Ann and Remy took on the A women at what felt like the hottest part of the day and raced for over an hour in the baking sun.

This from RemyWe were all chattering and smiling, who is ready? Who’s not? It’s just a warm up race right? No pressure…READY SET GO!  F@&* an obstacle! Totally forgot I could carry my bike. Too much triathalon“.

Remy flanked by Jon Meyer/Team S&M

Remy flanked by Jon Meyer/Team S&M

Beth Ann and pro Sue Butler/River City broke away from the pack early leaving the chase group nothing but the sad taste of dust in their mouths.  Sue, riding a 34 chainring, was able to conserve on the climb out of the woods and spin, while Beth Ann powered through on her 38 tooth chainring. Each tried to drop the other, both were hurting, but continued to trade blows lap after lap. At one point Beth (without a bottle on board) even begged Sue to give her some water but Sue declined.

Remy shook her head at me as I ran along side her, shouting “supportive” things after the run-up. I think she was wishing there was a transition to a swim on the course somewhere.

Beth Ann and Sue up the hill.

Beth Ann and Sue up the hill.

After lapping slower women and some of the men, the race came down to the 8th and final lap holding a good 2+ minute gap over the remaining chasers. Beth Ann stood up and tried a big sprint on the pavement before the barriers, Sue holds on and slides past as they come into the final barrier.

The Final Barrier Before The Finish!

The Final Barrier Before The Finish!

Sue is able to remount before Beth Ann and finish the last tiny section in the playground bark chunks before they both sprint for the line. Sue won the day but just by seconds.

Remy-wishing for a cookies at the finish

Remy-wishing for a cookie at the finish

Remy shared her thoughts about the end of her race , “FINISH LINE! Oh yeah, that pukey feeling….But hooray I get to eat cookies again!”

Tonkin Family-Gus, Rhonda and Cori enjoying sno-cones at the race

Tonkin Family-Gus, Rhonda and Cori enjoying sno-cones at the race

For the full GPET schedule check out the link

http://cyclocross.gp/

Coffee that is strong enough for the Caveman? Stop by Blue Kangaroo!

http://bluekangaroocoffee.com/

Must Be Present to Win-2013 PIR Short Track Series Recap

I WANT SHORT TRACK!

I WANT SHORT TRACK! (photo-Leonard Johnson Hot Foot Photo.com)

I can’t WAIT until Short Track is here!” That is all I can talk about early in the year when cold, Northwest rain makes for soggy mountain bike racing.  Race promoter Kris Schamp (http://www.portlandracing.com) made sure Short Track arrived on time  June 3rd.  Racers were treated to two months of racing at Portland International Raceway motocross course, with temperatures in the 80’s every Monday night. Now THAT is what I’m talking about. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Races are between 30-45 minutes, with competitors completing as many laps as possible (between 4-9 laps average).  Overall  scoring is your best 7 out of 8 races in the series. So you can throw out the one where your legs felt like two ton weights attached at the hips. I was out racing every week to get my fill of the bumpy, energy tapping grass areas, sharp gravel corners, and cotton wood trees dispatching fluffy puffs into the sweet summer air.

Infield motocross course

Infield motocross course

 Beth F, Laurie and Beth Ann came out for some action of their own.  Laurie did one race in the series, just days before her and Dan tied the knot, and her family came out to cheer them both on.  Beth F and Beth Ann both did four races each, including Beth Ann racing on her cyclocross bike one night(post race she didn’t recommend it in the future).

Beth F and a Green Sub rider close behind

Beth F and a Green Sub rider close behind

Beth F took 3rd in her first race/cat 2 u35 followed by a solid 4th place run in her other three races. Beth Ann ruled the cat 1 ladies with two 1st places and two 2nd places.  My best race of the series was 5th in the cat 1 ladies.

Log Ride

Log Ride

The course changed each week with different variations like the “LOG” appearing at the top of a ‘table top’ on the motocross infield, then again two other nights in the twisty tree area.  Some nights the course flows, and others just wear you out. Well EVERY  race wears you out but you are having too much fun to notice until you are done.

Shirt on? Shirt off?

Shirt on? Shirt off?

CASUAL NITE ROCKS!

Prize winner Mielle-CASUAL NITE ROCKS!

Part way through the series, Kris encourages racers to come out and race in casual clothes for CASUAL NITE, with the promise of a PRIZE for the funniest outfit per race category. Any chance to dress up and win a prize means I will give it my all!  Snake skin lycra pants, denim vest with a PEDAL DAMN IT patch, gold gauntlets (borrowed from my Wonder Woman costume) and a flashy scarf really did the trick. I raced in this outfit too! I won a 4 pack of Hop Works beer and a PIR Short Track t-shirt.

Even though raffle prizes are given at random each week, the final race night includes a 25 Team (for fun) Relay, followed by a big raffle and series podium presentation. Unable to get enough Team S&M guys and Les Femmes for a 10 person team, Beth F and I helped out other relay teams for the required 3 woman/jr minimum.

Relay riders waiting

Relay riders waiting

The race started with the first rider on each team RUNNING to their bikes(Le Mans style start- I am in the Hammer Velo jersey on the far right). Any rider not following the rules of the relay was assigned a 10 pushup time penalty. Riders were coming into the relay area and slo-mo crashing ,still clipped in to their pedals, trying to tap the next rider while other teams were suffering pushups. Great fun!

I WANT SHORT TRACK!

I WANT SHORT TRACK!

And a final word. If you put your name in for the raffle prizes, stick around. First time I ever left before the raffle and I found out later I won the Hop Works pub bike, one of the biggest prizes of the raffle. Must be present to win…….

Final Overall Results

Beth F- 7th of 38

Beth Ann- 5th of 30

Mielle- 9th of 30

Photo Credits: Mielle, Le Mans start photo courtesy of Leonard Johnson. Check out the PIR Short Track series race photos by Camas, WA photographer Leonard Johnson at hotfootphoto.com

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Les Femmes Scorch @ 6 Hrs of Mt Hood

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I am sweating the minute I get out of the car. Standing in the parking lot of Mt.Hood Ski Bowl at 8:00 am in running tights and fleece jacket, I am clearly overdressed. The sun was out in full force bringing temperatures into the 60’s this early. It’s going to be a scorcher.

Beautiful day on Mt Hood

Beautiful day on Mt Hood

The menu choices for todays race  are as follows: 2 person women, 2 person men, 2 person co ed, solo/solo singlespeed, or 2 person combined age of 80+ or 100+. Every team races for 6 hours, how you split the laps is your choice.

Today's Menu

Today’s Menu

Each lap on the 6 mile course has an elevation gain of 800 feet, combined  with screaming fast technical descents,  twisty single-track, roots and a series of ascending switch-backs (in the sun) to slow you down. Trail conditions were excellent with all of the recent dry weather. Sellwood Cycle Repair is one of the biggest sponsors for this race and owner Erik Tonkin designed the course.  I like to think of it as the Tonkin Romper Room.

Quick Draw Tonkin

Quick Draw Tonkin

Each 2 person team gets to pick a unique name for the day. Here is the Les Femmes line up and team names:

Mielle Blomberg/Mary Fordham – Team Fanny Pack

Laurie Hotovy/Dan Watson (fiance) –HotWatts

Remy Maguire/Andrew Morphis (hubby) – Disco Penguins (sadly too hot for the actual costume this year)

Beth Ann Orton/Erik Tonkin – WoManimals

Sellwood provided neutral support ,in the form of shop guy Jason Beasley,to ease stressed and sometimes broken bikes back into working order.

Jason B wrenching for us all

Jason B wrenching for us all

After lap one sorted out the riders and traffic eased on the trails, everyone got into their collective racing grooves, never straying too far from the relay exchange area or the shade of a team tent as temps rose into the 80’s. 242 racers turned out!  32 minute average lap times for the fast guys, and the ladies were in the 38-45 min range.  I saw a two women wipe-out in the gravel descent to the exchange area but it appeared that the first aid tent only needed to tend to scrapes today. The best transition of the day was the “kiss off” when Dan and Laurie smooched at every exchange.

HotWatts getting charged

HotWatts getting charged

Remy earned some kudos from Erik for her speed when they passed on the course. Go Remy!

Beth Ann and Erik split the day in half and ended up with the most laps, 11 total, earning them top podium spot in the 23 team co ed group. For the rest of us mere mortals, the laps were just as tough, but not as numerous.  Mary and I cranked out consistent lap times, and had a stop watch running so as not to miss the relay exchange. “Uh, Mary.. Mary where are you!!!! “ Yup, someone was chillin’ in the shade when I rolled in (we call that the JULIE KRAMER). We took 3rd in the 2 person women’s group with a total of 8 laps, missing the 3:45 pm cut off for one more lap by seconds.

No injuries to any of our teams today and all ponies returned to their stables a little soiled but not too sullied. 

Beth F was absent from the race since she was racing a TRI, but showed up in time for awards with her hubby and took pictures. That is some team love right there!

Final Results

Remy/Andrew 12th  9 laps

Laurie/Dan 7th  9 laps

Beth Ann/Erik 1st  11 laps

Mielle/Mary 3rd  8 laps

Sooooo many hot laps. Winners need naps.

Sooooo many hot laps. Winners need naps.