Leadville 100 mountain bike race

I have worked so hard in the past many months getting ready for this race. Many miles spent in the Cohutta wilderness, Belgian Waffle Asheville, and other rides and miles spent with friends and Jeff when he would agree to something off-road. Just like time does, July arrived and I knew the time was near.

At the end of July, I ended up with a new onset sulfa allergy (we think), and I almost thought I wouldn’t get to make the trip. To be honest, the idea of deferment sounded enticing. Went through some high dose prednisone treatment to make sure it wasn’t Stevens Johnson (Bactrim is not the best medicine) and continued the plan.

This was covering my entire body!

Everything cleared up, and realized Leadville was a go!!

I arrived on Thursday afternoon, two days before the race. Checked into The Rodeway Inn and was told that I couldn’t check in for two more hours and “sorry, we don’t have a public restroom.”

Leadville, Colorado is like stepping back in time. The main street through still carried history, and I thought any minute someone would come up with a pistol drawn for a dual. I’m not kidding. It felt like I had stepped into a western history movie.

Leadville, CO

There is no Wal-Mart. No Sonic. No McDonald’s. I had to go to a gas station that had an outside restroom and just wait for 3pm local time for check-in.

The elevation was something I could feel immediately. I rented an elevation tent at home and had been sleeping in it for weeks on end and had stopped early due to the allergic reaction. I needed all the recovery I could get with the allergic rash covering me and to be honest, recovery is tough with less oxygen. Leadville felt just like the elevation tent. The air was dry. I cannot stress enough how dry Colorado really is. The high doses of antihistamines I had taken for 2-3 weeks had already dried me out. I didn’t catch up on water intake before I left.

The first day I arrived was sunshine, rain, lightning, rainbow, and me with my mouth open gaping at the 14ers surrounding the town. I’d never seen anything like it in my life.

The Ominous hello from Leadville, CO
Beautiful rainbow on Thursday
In my hotel room – made my day!
Just a view I liked

Michael and Jess had been in town for a few weeks after the Stage Race (tandem) and were amazing in helping me see the course, easing my anxiety, and supporting me during the race. Michael put my bike together after Tom G. had put it in the suitcase for me. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I’d say it takes a village to help me with my bike mechanics.

I didn’t get to pre-ride the course, because there is no reason two days or a day before the race to burn matches. I rode the loop for the beginning and the end. I never climbed St. Kevin’s but we drove up it in a 4-wheel drive. We drove almost to the top of Columbine. I saw Powerline and the beast it was. Little did I know that is where I would fall apart. Michael told me that Powerline climb is the halfway point. It’s actually at mile 75 or so.. well over half in miles, but half in effort… I would agree.

Michael and Jess’ son 6 year old son took this picture of me on Friday

Everyone on the Leadville 100 podcast said the race is a negative split. It was not for me. My descending isn’t the fastest. I’ve always been quite the defensive descender. Likely I lost 15 minutes or more on the descents. Climbing was well until the 75 mile mark. The Death March Revival really helped me prepare. If I can get in Leadville again, I know what to do.

I cried at the top of Columbine. Why? Because I climbed it in less time than I imagined. I was thinking 2.5 to 3 hours.

Almost at the top at 12,000 feet altitude
The pre-race meeting where they pump you up! Note Mount Elbert in the background… the highest peak in the lower 48 states at 14,439 feet.

I wore the wrong shoes. I wore great mountain bike shoes, but they didn’t fit well around the heel and while walking moved up and down. There’s a lot of hike a bike at the top of Columbine and the first part of Powerline climb. I’m still wearing band-aids on the backs of both heels now that I’m back.

I didn’t drink enough fluids. I drank 5-6 L total. Should have been 8-9 L. I couldn’t drink after the 10 hour mark.

Sleet fell as I summited Powerline and came down Sugar Loaf. I was really cold and had to put on a rain jacket. The climb up the pavement afterwards (last big climb) was arduous. I knew at the top of Carter’s Summit I wouldn’t make the 12 hour time. There was no way.

Powerline climb – where things get really tough and dark

I crossed the 12 hour mark at about mile 100.

The race is actually 105 miles, I believe. The last 5 miles are terribly unnecessary. (laugh)

Feeling good; looking good
Rolling along
Lots of loose sandy gravel like conditions in desperate need of humidity
Missed the buckle by 27 minutes and 23 seconds
Yeah, I’m done at this point in more ways than one

All in all, it was a race for the bucket list. They certainly make it a thing to finish and to buckle. Finishing is tough. Buckling is even tougher. To think the fastest male did this in 6 hours and the fastest female a little over 7 hours is nuts. I still believe the buckle earned for females should take into account that 1 hour difference or more in strength. They don’t (yet). In the meantime, I just need to train harder and maybe do it again! It’s a heckuva journey. The people you meet in Leadville are all driven in completing things like this. It’s pretty neat to meet people who have done this race multiple times.

I hear Grace Ragland completed this race 8 times before she buckled. I thought about her a lot on Saturday. I actually apologized to her outloud on the last 5 mile stretch that I didn’t buckle the first time. I certainly thought about her on the Continental Divide when driving the scenic way to Denver the next day. She was quite the inspiration living with MS and eventually succumbing to cancer. There are others like her around in the Chattanooga area who are driven by something otherworldly to achieve things like this. You know who you are… strong women who inspire others and help others achieve their goals.

Weight is important for this race. You need to be as lean as possible. Hard to give up the sugar. Consider a hard tail for weight savings! Consider racing another Lifetime race for a better corral position. I was in the white corral, and it was not an ideal start. St. Keven’s climb was slow with people in the white corral jamming up the path.

Add all of these things I can improve, I believe the buckle is doable. The question becomes do I train another year for something like this again or do I think about another adventure to try?

Twin Lakes

Melanie and Ed were out there, too. I knew Melanie would finish. She’s the tough lady that walked up Raccoon during a race (mechanical didn’t derail her). Melanie rode Death March with me in July. Such an amazing fun ride in hindsight. Sufferfest for sure. She can cook some mean pasta the night before a race, too. My mindset wasn’t very positive Day 1 arriving, but by the end, I didn’t really want to leave. I’d love to explore Leadville, climb Mt. Massive or one of the other 14ers around, and ride the Stage Race.

One of the reasons I had to finish this race was because the last two big events I signed up for to train for Leadville, I quit. Typically I’m not a quitter, but I quit Cohutta 100 over half way through believing that I wouldn’t make the cutoff at the end (I think I would have – as Michael says don’t do math during a race) and the mile 42 aid station ran out of all fluids, and I had to ride with none for several miles. I also quit Belgian Waffle Asheville at mile 115 of 135 miles due to a total meltdown when the last aid station had packed up around 6:15pm – still daylight – course still open. I guess the ladies manning it were not cyclists and were done. I decided to pull over and tap out.

I was worried I’d developed a quitting habit.

Leadville was full of support, full of volunteers who really cared and didn’t leave early. They were well prepared and didn’t run out of supplies.

I had NO EXCUSES. And so…


Death March Revival

I was running a little late leaving the house. Rain was pouring down with bright flashes of lightning, and the ominous thoughts were already beginning. Would Melanie want to postpone to tomorrow? Will it be lightning all day? What in the world am I doing?

I sent an ETA text to let Melanie and Ali know I would be there right before 6am. The rain only seemed to get harder as I arrived an hour later to Thunder Rock Campground. It was still dark and raining. The lightning provided brief light. Next time, I’ll have a rain jacket.

I reluctantly grabbed all my things. I didn’t require a lot of time to get ready because I’d prepped everything the day before, but I made my way to the bathroom to hang out. I was secretly hoping we’d postpone.

Ali & Melanie were chipper. Me not so much. Thanks for taking this picture, Ali.

I rode my Trek Supercaliber with XXX Bontrager wheels. I ran a 2.4 Maxxis Ardent on the front and a 2.0 Bontrager race tire on the back. I’m trying to figure out what to run at Leadville next month, and actually changed the tire in the front the day before DMR to try it out. I run a 32 in the front and 50 in the back (I think, haha!) I carried 2 bottles and 2L Osprey.

Lots of rain and puddles… lightning was gone

Ali rode with us the first 3 hours or so. Her sage advice, “Don’t stay too long at Mulberry Gap… you’ll get sucked in and never want to leave.”

Supercaliber is a great bike for this course!

Once Ali turned back, my thoughts turned to Cohutta 100. I had DNF at mile 57. I wanted to ride past that point to see what I missed and add a little more down to Mulberry and back. We stopped for water at mile 26ish right past Jacks River. One thing is for sure, Melanie and I did our share of drinking on the entire course.

We stopped at Mountaintown Overlook for some pictures. And mother nature. Not going to lie. We overhydrated.

Pictures never do this view justice.

Somewhere past this point is where I quit Cohutta 100. Listening to music made the mood even better. I’ll never ever ride out here without my water filter. I never used it today, but it felt good knowing I had it just in case.

Couple of guys were riding out there opposite direction and had a good chat with one of them. Mostly about how bad it was climbing back up out of Mulberry. He was right.

We arrived to Mulberry Gap at 1pm in good spirits. We ran into some very nice people, stopped for cokes and treats at the store, and bought sandwiches to go.

I really figured we had the hardest part over with and the rest, which most of I had seen, wouldn’t be so bad. Climbing out of Mulberry Gap was pretty tough. The rain had cleared, the sun was out, and I immediately missed the rain and overcast skies.

Trail magic

I did almost take a wrong turn because there are several roads meeting together at mile 57. I would have figured it out because it dead ends.

I rode up on a big black bear who ran off fast. I stopped in the middle of the road and just stared at how big he was running off. Of all the times I’ve been in the woods riding, I’ve only seen a bear one other time.

I was happy to see mile 65 because it is where Jeff Rizer, Mary Sickler, and I have been riding back and forth all year. They have helped me so much train and get faster to even consider completing this.

We ended up stopping in a shady area to take a break again at mile 70. I wanted to get to the next water stop at Big Frog, but honestly, we were wearing down. It was a perfect spot, I’ll say. Shade from the intense July sun, and we worked on eating the sandwiches from Mulberry Gap.

Big Frog was a slog. I have ridden it this direction before, but it was never this horrible. Tired legs makes all trails worse. It just went on and on and on. I started noticing the clock. 7pm had already arrived. I’m not sure how so fast. I was doing the math, thinking about sunset, I didn’t have lights, and kicking myself for not bringing a light. Melanie and I had decided to do this route for our Leadville training for next month and had no time constraints, yet I was starting to feel the anxiety grow (a little). My After Shockz headset died too. It was time to break out the cell phone speaker music.

I locked down my right brake when I saw a baby bear run across the road. We decided to take another break just to allow mama bear and baby bear to move on.

The rest of the ride was the hardest part. The sun was dropping fast, and so was my spirit. I just wanted to be finished already. The descent down to Thunder Rock may have been my slowest ever, but we had no lights and could barely see. Riding up to the car was nothing short of euphoria. We made it. We did it. I think I said “We did it” about four times. I had iced cokes in the car and made use of the showers at the campground. Riding in the rain had taken its toll.

I love this bike and setup!
Two full-time working mothers who do epic things!

Hardest Time of the Year

I should be embracing rest. I do not ever embrace it well. Truth is, I’d fire this plan right now and do my own thing if I didn’t know that according to everything I read, rest is correct. But, I never like it. I am supposed to sit down and think about 2018 goals with the bike. Sometimes publishing them publically is hard because what if I don’t meet my goals? The older I get, the less care I give about not meeting the goal because even getting close is still progress. Maybe the goal was too lofty? Maybe there was a hindrance that kept me from achieving the goal? And so, here are my goals of 2018 on the bike:

  1. I want to do the state time trial championship in less than one hour. Last year, I finished in 1:03:19. Is it possible to take 3 minutes and 20 seconds off this time? I think so.
  2. Race weight. I figure I can lose about 10 to 15 pounds before it would negatively affect me. I plan to do that by March.
  3. Work on strength and stretching. I have a small anterior superior hip labral tear that I could have had since I was a runner, I don’t know, but definitely having some hamstring and posterior hip issues that don’t fit in the profile with the labrum issue. Physical therapy and strengthening/stretching already started and will continue. May check out pilates.
  4. Black Bear Rampage – I’d like to do a 3:30. That’s a bit of a lofty goal, but I think possibly doable.

Other than that, individual road races I’ll do as a team member helping the team. I have one “race” left this weekend for 2017. I put it in quotes because I’m not doing the distance I had initially wanted to do due to the hip but the 25 miler. However, I plan to attack it with the same tenacity as all races and try to crush it without setting myself back further.

Black Bear Rampage and the sub-4 hour goal

I had to go back and read last year’s post about the Black Bear Rampage. I finished it in 4:12. I had a mechanical, but still managed to finish well in the Sport category. I was back to ride a sub-4. In fact, I predicted:

Next year, I expect a sub-4 by more than barely.

That was my goal. A sub-4, and if it resulted in a podium, then that was an extra. I had broken down the sections by mileage and elevation and figured out what I needed to do in each section to stay on task. I knew that I couldn’t attack the road climb in the beginning OR Brush Creek due to the long lines of riders that build up with nowhere to pass, and I knew that my best time on climbing Boyd Gap wouldn’t happen if I was on mile 30-something. I looked at it as a long TT. Steady, steady, steady.

Like last year, I arrived early to the Whitewater Center and started getting ready for the day. I picked up my packet and t-shirt and said hello to my friends at Scott’s Bicycles that puts on the race every year. I caught up with a couple of friends and then headed out to warm up a little bit. I didn’t plan on doing a whole lot of warming up because I figured that the road climb to Brush Creek was a good warm-up and since I entered in expert class, I didn’t think I’d have to worry a lot about getting in the woods first. I had some nervous pre-race talk with some friends but could tell mentally I was not really where I wanted to be prior to a race, in fact that morning I was nowhere near where I needed to be mentally. I cannot explain it, but I didn’t sleep very well. I dreamed about the trail all night and woke up at least 5 times thinking I was way too keyed up for this race.

By the time we started though, I went into steady state mode. One of the things I enjoy is figuring out how high can I push without going into red. A race like this shouldn’t have many areas of attack because it is a 4-hour race, unless you are well trained for it. I knew that there were certain sections of the race where I could push it harder due to the recovery or possible recovery on the other side. I spend less time not pedaling at this point if I can because that is wasted power. I use a lot of the things I have learned over the past couple of years in road cycling and use it for mountain biking.

For some reason, I thought there were at least 3 women in front of me who entered into the woods first. There were only 2. I supposed I was already hallucinating.

Brush Creek had a bit of a train. It wasn’t going as fast as I knew I could go, but I could tell by effort (my heart rate monitor was not working, but I’m learning to let data go during a race…) that the amount of energy to pass those 3 guys wasn’t worth it at all. I settled in and expected Star and Monica to be right on my back. I thought there was a lady from another category and Noel with Carey in front of me. Apparently I don’t pay well attention or perhaps I’m more concerned about staying focused on the trail on what I am doing, but we passed her somewhere.

A couple of men were frustrated with the pace during Brush Creek. I used to get frustrated, but it’s a long race. Why waste energy passing when you can just hit it later? I felt I could have gone faster there but at what cost? I’d save it for later.

I always worry descending Boyd’s Gap and this time proved no exception. Luckily, I tucked in behind a guy who was as slow as me on Boyd’s, and it helped. There was no one behind me pushing me to go faster. Win. The road is a welcome sight. I tried to just relax down it but then decided to pedal. No, don’t waste time. You need that sub-4 and what if you miss it by just a little and could have succeeded by pedaling on the road downhill?

Copper Road is a favorite of mine. It’s the perfect layout for me. Unfortunately, on the rooty section, a guy stalled out and a fat bike tire hit me in the calf. I just regained composure and kept going. I imagined a huge tire tread on the back of my calf. It didn’t hurt, so it must have been light. I remember the guy on the fat tire bike pretty much dogging the guy that lost his mojo on the roots. It happens. The line is not clearly evident.

The bridge at the WWC was not slippery and onto Bear Paw Up! I was behind the fat tire bike again (two of them on the same team) and climbed in a line up. I didn’t feel that I had an extra to pass so I settled in and enjoyed the process. I even felt after the hairpin turn that I was over cooking a bit, but just kept waiting on the delay of the heart to catch up with the pedaling rest. The volunteer at the hairpin turn had a cute little dog. Dogs make me smile! I kept pushing up and up toward Chestnut. Somewhere along Chestnut (I think), Star told me we were racing for 2nd and 3rd. I was confused because I didn’t remember passing two ladies that I swore rode into the woods from the road at the beginning. The guy in front of us sort of stumbled or fell over, and I squeaked by thinking Star was with me. I noticed at the bottom of Thunder Rock she wasn’t.

At the top of the gravel climb I heard Fenton which put a smile on my face. After descending a little bit climbed up West Fork.

Honestly Quartz and Bypass were a blur probably because I was remembering last year’s snapped chain and that fiasco. I was trying to remember exactly where on the trail it was. I looked for Monica and Star at the loop back. By the time I looked up, I was going down Bear Paw to the bridge and Copper Road again.

Cramps… in weird places.

This is where my mind wants to shut it all down because I don’t get cramps very often. These cramps were different.

As I have read before, when cramps hit me, I go to war. What do I mean? Well, I start cycling through everything. Increasing fluid intake, taking in base salts, and lowering the work on the pedals (increasing cadence with less torque). All of the above, cycling the three until I figure it out. Mile 25 was a bit early for me to experience these, but along Copper Road I realized that I could push a certain effort below the earlier effort and still not feel them.

Boyd Gap was what I was dreading. I have only cleaned that climb once and didn’t expect to during the race especially after cramps set in, but I did somehow minus one step on the left at the very top. It was enough for me to count it and a peek back with no one on my back. Apparently no cramping would happen out of the saddle standing and climbing but sitting and spinning up was causing adductors, quads, and calves to cramp. Go figure.

I had the joy of finishing the race with Zack along Brush Creek. I could not do a lot of work to get up the trail due to keeping the cramps at bay, but was able to just settle in yet again and finish the race at 3:41 with Zack who didn’t recover prior to the race.


Looks like my goal wasn’t as aggressive as it should have been. Carey finished well ahead of me and Star right behind me. We had a very good locally respected class: Carey, Star, Noel, Monica, and me. Going in I had to just concentrate on beating my time from last year and not worry about the others. I can do that 95% of the time. I worried a little but at start just rode my race and just did my thing. 4 out of 5 set PRs and loved we have Carey racing for Scott’s as well along with Noel.

Thanks to Henry Trent for fixing my bike going way out of his way…

I said I wasn’t going to do 5 Points, but…

River Gorge 2017

River Gorge Omnium is the race we choose as a team to finish out the race season. Luckily, it is our local race and has a big turnout in the southeast area. I did the race last year, and it was particularly difficult thinking about doing the road race again this year. The road race finishes with a 3-mile climb to the top of Raccoon mountain, and it is particularly more difficult the hotter the weather. I was looking forward the every event except for two: the HerTT on Friday night and the road race on Sunday. Both events are particularly hard to me for different reasons.

After some rescheduling, I was moved up to an earlier slot for the HerTT but still wasn’t just excited about doing it. I took Friday off work and decided to head back to Raccoon Mountain to look at the TT course just ONE more time. There is a right-hand turn, and I wanted to nail it. I really wanted to be in the top 10 overall women. I am not sure why, but the River Gorge Omnium Time Trial only had one category for women. I believe they should break out categories like they do for the men. If you don’t offer more chances to win, women don’t enter races; and races don’t offer prizes they say because women don’t show up. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? And I’m not just picking on River Gorge, most of the races I did this year had no money prizes and only medals. The traveling expenses, the race expenses and sometimes hotel doesn’t make it worth it if you can’t at least have a chance to be reimbursed a little. So, it was cat 4? Cat 4 men have money prizes and plenty of opportunity to win. For example in this TT,

The men had:

  • Men Category 5 – 21 men
  • Men Masters B 40+ – 18 men
  • Men Masters B 50+ – 20 men
  • Men Masters A 35+ – 18 men
  • Men Cat 4 – 34 men
  • Men Cat 3 – 29 men
  • Men Cat 2 – 28 men
  • Men Cat pro/1 – 43 men

And the women had:

  • Women Open 1/2/3/4/5 – 52 women
  • some junior category

Any insight as to why women get zero breakdowns? Why do men have eight categories? It does lessen a number of prizes you have to give, but it seems odd to me that category 5 women have to compete with pros in the TT without more breakdown. I would have liked to celebrate a cat 4/5 podium 1st place for TT, but at the end of the day, the numbers stand, and to be in the same group as some of these ladies just made my entire weekend.

……….all the way up to 52 women.

During the time trial, I was behind a Frazier Junior named Elizabeth May (Liza Kate). I kept her in my sight up the climb and attacked over the top half of the hill to close the gap and pass her. Little did I know I would be seeing her again and again. I passed another lady at almost the same time that the Frazier Junior was overtaking her as well. My goal of descending without anyone immediately in front of me (especially someone on junior gears) was reached, and I was able to just get into a rhythm on the dam and take the right turn as fast as I comfortably could. In hindsight, I started out too hard and would have rather had more of a steady -pace throughout. I was proud of my time though. 9 minutes and 30 seconds is not too shabby and 12th overall out of 52 women is not anything to be disappointed with THOUGH I did not meet my goal of top 10. Last year I did it in 10:16. Next year could I do a 9:15 or less?

The criterium was downtown later in the day, and we had a cat 4/5 field of 21. I did not have a lot of pressure on myself mainly because I was just living in the post-TT moment of wow… I did good on that, and so I didn’t think much of the criterium. The plan we had as a team from our coach was a solid plan, but once again, I wasn’t able to really pull it off like I had hoped. There are some things to work on like with anyone cycling and if you are good at TT you may not be as good at the explosive type efforts. I liked staying in the front more (not smart) due to the sketchy corners some were taking. We had a good showing with Melanie, Ali, Sarah, Jodie, and Monica. In the end, I was not able to get away and had to sprint for the win where a Frazier Junior (Liza Kate) beat me to the line. I was in the wrong gear similar to a crit a couple of weeks ago. Live and learn. Note to practice on leg speed in sprints. The team was doing well because we had a 1st place TT and now a 2nd place criterium. This put us at almost 10 points ahead of the next lady. Here’s a cool article about Elizabeth May in the local press.

check out my face (ha!)

Next up was the road race on Sunday. Krystal was assigned domestique to the points leader (me) and we set off on Sunday morning as a cat 3/4/5 race. Last year the road race was a 1/2/3/4 race, so at least some improvements were made in that field breaking it out. There are definitely many more race options for men at most races, but fewer women race.

Moments I remember: descending like a boss (hey, Mom!) down the stair steps and the descent before the Raccoon Mountain climb. I remember almost touching wheels a couple of times due to excessive braking in front of me. Two of my teammates went down behind me and another stopped with them but I wasn’t aware until after the race. One of those ladies (Melanie) walked up raccoon in some socks refusing to tap out when her derailleur broke.

Melanie walking up Raccoon because DFL is always better than DNF. And she doesn’t quit. One of my many heroes on the team. (photo credit: Matt Dunmore)

There’s something special about someone who just will not quit regardless the circumstances. I think it builds the more important thing – mental toughness – and always comes in handy in other races down the road. There was a terrible headwind coming back across the bridge. I fell back on the stair steps but caught up to the front group; however, I wasn’t aware we caught up to them until asking later. It was hard for me to keep up on where we were and what was going on. That was Krystal’s job and she did a fabulous job. I didn’t have to think at all. And so yes, Steve Lewis the coach of the team was right. He was right.

Raccoon mountain approached and the group took off. I watched with pure disappointment that I could not keep up with the group up the mountain. I watched as lady-by-lady left me. I’m sure some were behind me, but it felt as though I was giving up the ghost as it all was literally slipping away. Sarah S on our team left as well trying to wedge herself in front of one of the main ladies trying to absorb omnium points. Krystal hung with me as we did the first part that I had done in several training sessions before. It was about a 9-10 minute effort, I kept telling myself on the first part. Just stay steady. I tried to push the cadence beyond 65, but it seemed to stay stuck there. Then the pitch up at Caps Rock and I was slow. Crested the top, descended a little and back to the climb. Michaela was leaving me at this point and Krystal reminded me to stay steady. We didn’t need to let the lady behind us pass me. I wish I had dug a little deeper to pass Michaela. She is a strong rider turning herself inside out on the climb, and I was just dying. I heard the team coach up the mountain yelling at me. I just kept focusing on the pedal stroke over the top. It seemed like forever, but I finally crossed the line. Krystal had pretty much helped me finish like I did on that climb.

Krystal probably telling me here that if the lady behind me passes, it’s not good. She encouraged me the whole way. Ever thought about coaching, Krystal? (photo credit Matt Dunmore)

And then the waiting began and we are all standing around the results area. I see the other ladies that had a chance to win the omnium waiting and then results … Taco Mamacita had executed the plan and we had won the cat 4/5 omnium. I finished 7th in the cat 4/5 RR and 19th out of 36 overall 3/4/5. It was enough to win the omnium by 1 point. We also worked as a team in the crit as well. High-fives were thrown, and wow. What a weekend.

I learned a lot during this race. Teamwork makes it happen. It is harder to win an omnium without a team. I would rather be a domestique than have a domestique (truth) – you hear me ladies? Next year, let me be your motor. I love TT more than I thought I would at the beginning of the season. I still believe there is a sprinter deep inside of me just dying to get out. She just doesn’t understand the dynamics of the sprint at all and how to put it all together. Working on it. Sarah S. and I both are cat 3 now. 2018 looks promising for a big race season.

I also like a road bike, but I love a mountain bike… which is where I’ll be this weekend.

But, I cannot wait until next season to see how it goes as a cat 3 with the team.

Here’s a cool write up in the local paper about the result.  Last year we cheered as Krystal and Sus lead the way. Can’t wait for next year.


[arve url=”https://youtu.be/95z1-4lf_Uo” title=”ORAMM 2017″ autoplay=”yes” /] Spontaneously, as I tend to do, I signed up for ORAMM in North Carolina. I haven’t ridden my Top Fuel near enough, and it was time to see how she could handle some gnarly single track both up and down. Too bad I wasn’t near enough trained for the distance which made for a long day (7 hours and 34 minutes to be exact). My plan was just to suffer through it with a friend. I was intrigued by the description:

The Off-Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell is a 60 mile mostly off road Bicycle route with 10,500 feet of climbing. From Old Fort you climb up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and just below Mt. Mitchell on beautiful Forest Service roads and unbelievable North Carolina single track. Mt. Mitchell peaks at 6684 ft and is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The start/finish in the town of Old Fort sits at 1400 ft. Most of the climbing is on Forest Service roads while most of the single track points downhill! Link

But, I learned fairly quick into the ride that 10,500+ feet of climbing is nothing to ignore. I had a good night sleep (better than usual before a race) because I traveled with a friend, Star, who helped with the getting to bed early. We carb loaded the night before with some friends and had a pretty good breakfast at the hotel. The next morning had no real issues and made it to the start dropping off our bags for the sag stops. I only chose to leave anything at 2 of them.

At the start, a lot of pavement that was a nice high cadence warm-up for me. The 30 tooth was a better choice than the 32 that I had. In fact, I’m just going to keep the 30 on for awhile. I tried to keep Star in my sight because I figured she’d have a good pace, and I didn’t want to go out blowing up in the beginning. It was going to be a long day, and I wanted to stay at about 70-80% effort throughout. Finally entering single track, I was in a rhythm even though there were some log jams at switchbacks. There came a point where I had a fluke thing happen, a bee flew into my mouth and stung me in the back of the throat. My initial thought was one of anaphylaxis and throat swelling and how this would be one crazy way to die in a race. You can’t help but think the worse sometimes. I choked and coughed to get that stupid bee out and spit the bee out. I waited on swelling all the while pedaling and thinking how crazy this was. My throat felt swollen in the back right and burning, but I could tell it wasn’t a direct sting. A doctor riding with us a few minutes later told me if it isn’t swelling right now 10 minutes later, I’d be ok. I took his word for it and put it out of my mind. I only was reminded of it when I drank something. I hope this never happens again. During one descent I rode off the trail but hopped back on. I definitely need more downhill runs to work on relaxing! I had moments of relaxing, but for the most part remember one guy following me telling me good job but that he was making sure to NOT take the lines I was taking. Ha! He was right, I was constantly reprimanding myself out loud with, “Wow, Beth. Crappy line.” Oh well. That is what happens when you don’t pre-ride a course a few times. Lines are hard to find for me the first go. At the 1st rest stop, I refilled my Osprey with three bottles as I had been drinking quite a bit! I was ahead of the 1 bottle per hour goal I had for myself.

Curtis Creek Climb was the never ending climb separated from the Blue Ridge Parkway by a rest stop (#3). I saw people walking and taking breaks throughout Curtis Creek, but I just chose to keep going at what felt like a snail’s pace and a cadence so slow that my legs started to fatigue near the top. I refilled 2 bottles at the top. I was still doing ok in hydration but hadn’t needed to pee which probably pointed to heading into dehydration. Heartbreak Ridge was interesting, to say the least. I’d like to go back and learn all the lines because it was quite interesting trying to get some kind of flow going. I felt as though I’d need new brakes after the race. The hecklers were hilarious. Luckily, they were taking a break from really making comments, or maybe it was the pained expression with the roadie helmet that made them pause. We crossed some tracks were some guy yelled at me for being too close to him crossing the tracks (you had to walk) and I just ignored him for the most part. It felt a little as though he was irritated a woman would pass him. I passed him anyway. There are a lot of dynamics on a trail as a woman, especially in a race that is 90% men, and you get different reactions when passing men. I just had my music playing and when an uncomfortable situation happened, I  just put it out of my mind. Everyone was fatigued at 50 miles anyway. I finished the descent and headed back into Old Fort with a former Ironman (saw the tattoo on the calf) hoping for a sub 7-hour finish (though not trained) and ended up with a 7:34. I was proud of the time for my first attempt. The Ironman validated my thoughts as this was harder than a full Ironman (I’ve only done a half Ironman but was harder than that, for sure). Definitely could be the case considering how I feel 5 days later. I’m still a little bit off in the IT band area. I finished with a 4th master’s women, and 14/23 overall women and 155/290 male and female finishers total. Not sure how many DNFs there were. It was the course for DNFs I am sure. I said I never wanted to see ORAMM again at the finish. A couple of hours later said I would do it again after eating and sitting in the river afterward. I found one picture – and it almost looks like I was “just” about to smile at the finish line sign.

2017 Road Results

Cat 4 women:
Tour of Southern Highland Stage Race – 3rd place
Tour of Southern Highland Road Race – 4th place
Tour of Southern Highland Circuit Race – 6th place
Tour of Southern Highland TT – 1st place
Sunny King Crit – Cat 3/4/5 women – 10th place
Aaron Shafer Memorial Road Race – 3rd place (6th overall)
Max Gander Memorial Crit – 3rd place
State TT Championship – 2nd place (3rd overall)
Oak Ridge Omnium – 3rd place
Oak Ridge Road Race – 4th place
Oak Ridge TT – 1st place
Oak Ridge Crit – 3rd place
Oak Ridge Masters Crit – 3rd place
Alabama Wheelman Crit – 2nd place
Alabama Wheelman Crit (Sunday) – 1st place
Alabama Wheelman TT – 1st place
River Gorge TT – 12th place (overall cat 1/2/3/4/5) 1st place cat 4
River Gorge Crit – 2nd place (cat 4/5)
River Gorge Road Race – 7th cat 4 (18th overall cat 3/4/5)

We Lost Jake


Saturday, October 22nd turned out to be a crappy day. My husband departed on a cycling ride with his buddies, and I loaded the kids up to soccer in the van. Here I am, the stereotypical mother in a white van hauling kids to a soccer field in October. Our dog, Jake, had been diagnosed with pneumonia on the day before, Friday morning. The vet started him on azithromycin and a steroid. Had I been at the appointment myself, I would have asked more questions. Instead, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to wait and see what happened and give the antibiotic time to work. His chest x-ray had been clear, Jeff said. Friday night was restless. Jake cried out which he hadn’t done Thursday night. I asked later if he was OK and Jeff said he was. He said the vet told him to give it time for the medicine to work. We caught this pneumonia early. Jake was drinking a lot of water too. We alternated holding him to our chests as he coughed and slept. I left a couple of messages at the vet’s office Saturday morning because my husband said the vet told him to call over the weekend to keep up-to-date if we needed to. We didn’t get a callback, but I figured out quickly he wasn’t working the weekend. I am such a fool. I have all this experience in hospital pharmacy and can tell you how to treat nosocomial pneumonia and here my dog is struggling to breathe on Saturday morning, and I didn’t even notice the struggle until around 2:35pm when I recognized agonal breathing. I grabbed a towel and headed out the door back to the vet with him in my lap struggling to breathe. I cried aloud as I made the 20-minute drive and phoned the vet’s office to let them know I was coming with Jake who wasn’t breathing well. They said to come on in. When I got there, they had no idea who I was and acted lost on expecting me. Rather than helping me with my distressed dog, I was told to wait in the lobby. I held him and cried silently and praying to God to help him breathe. His breathing was labored and audible. This was not good. I should have just left right then for the animal hospital 20-minutes away. I regret that only for Jake’s comfort. I don’t expect the outcome to be any different, but I believe he wouldn’t have suffered as long as he did. I was ushered into a room, and a young male veterinary medical technician entered with a pen and paper and asked me “What brings you here today?” Still no help on Jake’s breathing, just a condescending attitude, and no sympathy toward our pet. It was obvious why I was there. Was he unable to recognize a dog in respiratory distress? He offered no sympathy and no grace at all. I felt as though he was trying to act important. It was odd and disturbing to me because of the moment needing something more than a cold question and questions that didn’t fit the moment at all. He weighed him and said, “He’s lost weight. Only 3 lbs.” I shook my head, “Your scale is wrong. He’s about 7 lbs right now.” He took his temperature rather roughly. Jake tried to breathe and fidgeted about. He weighed him again, “Scale was wrong.” He never once said, “I’m sorry, little guy.” There was no sympathy there for this animal who was clearly hurting. I have never seen anything like it in animal medicine. This is my 4th pet to lose and never have I encountered someone who wasn’t at all bothered by what he was seeing and hearing. And yes, medical professionals can get this way. They can lose sympathy and forget how it is to be a patient or to be the one directly affected by an illness or death. They can speak flippantly about someone going hospice with no real concern about someone’s life. Even Jake’s life was important that day. Hey, guess what, vet tech? He needed OXYGEN. Could you have thought to make him comfortable for a moment? So the whole time I was standing in tears, not once was he offered anything to help him. In fact, when the vet came in I could tell by her words and my words we both knew that this little guy had decompensated in 24-hours, still no oxygen to help him. Just the feeling that I was a bit of an inconvenience. Why is it with humans in a clinic, they would have been immediately made more comfortable? “I need to call or text my husband. This is his dog.” He is our dog, but was his first. Jake was a gift from his mom 3 years before she passed away from cancer. It was 3:39 PM. I started fumbling with my phone texting, and they both made a beeline for the door to other clients to give me privacy. I never asked for privacy and was surprised Jake was left with me. I texted him that Jake was likely dying. That I was angry at the way the tech had treated me. He had no sympathy and was condescending. The vet, I believe, knew it was time. She knew it was an all or none situation. But, the words hadn’t really been said about euthanasia or anything. They just had walked out of the room. She had mentioned that an upper respiratory infection was going around in the office among the dogs in the past couple of weeks. We had boarded both our dogs there the week before during Fall Break. Jake had likely caught it there. I can still hear Jake breathing loudly and uncomfortable. And tired. I sat and glanced up. The tech was peering at me through the glass window. He looked like he was “caught” by my eyes and moved away. This happened three times and another young lady did the same thing to me. I was livid. Just a weird vibe and unprofessional. What were they doing? What was taking so long? He returned to the room. Maybe he was waiting on me to stop texting? I had. I was just hugging on Jake praying. Kissing his head. He said rather mechanically, “What have you decided.” Flat affect. Flat tone. It spoke I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU OR YOUR DOG. THIS IS A JOB. Excuse me, what? What have I decided? I didn’t know you guys had given me any choices? “I need to speak with the vet, ” I said. I certainly didn’t want to speak to him any longer than I had to, Mr. Peek-through-the-door-at-me-no-sympathy-or-compassion. He looked at me with disdain and more condescending attitude, “She is with other clients right now and will get back to you when she can.” It’s all about tone. His tone said that she had no time for me and that she would work me in when she could, and I believe he wasn’t bothered by it at all. Jake wasn’t here for a routine vaccine. He couldn’t breathe. He walked out, and I walked out of the room to the front desk to let them know that I didn’t appreciate the way he talked to me. I told the lady he had no compassion and that he had no sympathy. She just listened and apologized. I was torn on what to do. I needed help for my dog. No one was helping me. And then Mr. Vet Tech peeks out from behind the back hallway to gawk at me again at the front desk. Twice. As soon as my eyes met his, he’d duck back into hiding. What was WRONG with this guy???? I allowed the vet to speak to me one more time in the room, and I agreed to go to the animal hospital because it was obvious it was either that or whatever other option hadn’t been said yet. How about something to help him breathe? Keep in mind this whole time, Jake is dying. He can’t breathe. —– And when I arrived at RIVER at 4:30pm, they worked immediately to make him comfortable with oxygen. There was no delay. There was no condescending attitude. They met me at the door and took him from me and helped him. A small poor little pneumonia filled Maltese that had had an almost 15-year life with us through dating one another and getting married and having kids was on his last few hours with us.  This little dog who had stolen my heart without me knowing it until he was almost gone and had slept beside me most nights with the wrong end in my face. The little guy who used to chew on cotton and click his teeth and I just wasn’t ready for him to go. Finally someone cared. The tech cared, the vet cared, the front desk receptionist cared. Not a single person was treating me as though he was there for a haircut or vaccine. They recognized the situation and acted with compassion. The vet at RIVER was amazing. Compassion is still alive out there. Helping an animal breathe when you have oxygen in the back is still an option. I would have paid. Sending in your most noncompassionate tech who never once said he was sorry or can I help you was probably the second worst thing that happened on the 22nd. The worst thing was losing Jake at around 8:30pm. Jeff was able to hold him as he slipped away and the whole time their tech wasn’t condescending or unfeeling. He held the O2 to Jake’s mouth as we said goodbye to him, even keeping him comfortable though he was leaving soon as his favorite person (Jeff) held him. I’ve never had a problem at Animal Clinic East in Chattanooga, TN before, but I have noticed less and less professionalism up front with the staff. I notice I stand there a lot more often than before while the staff ignores clients. It’s not that we expect immediate attention. It’s just professionalism to acknowledge someone and say you’ll be right with them. It is professionalism to notice a dog owner crying and a dog struggling to breathe and offering help rather than pushing her to the waiting room while singing the latest Justin Bieber song overhead. I was falling apart, but apparently, the staff has grown cold to how much we love our family members and how painful these moments can be as a pet owner. What happened to compassion? What happened to, “is there anything I could do to help you with him? Your dog looks to be struggling.” “I see why you are here.” “I’m sorry.” Is that so hard Animal Clinic East? Please don’t lose your sense of compassion in the middle of someone’s last moments with their beloved pet. Please train your staff on how to be sensitive when they notice something is wrong. Please follow-up with complaints and let them know you care and that you are sorry for coming across crass. If anyone out there knows of a compassionate vet office, I’d love to find one. Compassion in words and action and in care if a pet is in distress.   RIP Jake 11/01 – 10/16


5 Points 50


This race. I was on the fence but the week before had a lot of miserable rain in the forecast and the next weekend was hinting toward absolute perfect tacky trails and sweet racing on trails not usually open to the public. How could I refuse? As the days approached to the race, it was obvious I were staring straight into yet ANOTHER rainy race of misery. As usual, I had my “glass-half-full glasses” on, and as usual I was wrong. The rain was there and not just moving in and out but swirling like a mini small hurricane not leaving the area until I had left Lookout Mountain myself. 2015 will forever be dubbed the year of the muddy races. I arrived early as usual and went through my usual pre-race checklist. Tire pressure – ran about 22 in front and 23-24 in back. I almost forgot to put on my small camelback but in the end the only kink was linking up my garmin cadence sensor to the 510 edge. Lost that data, but that’s ok. We started, and I ditched the glasses fairly early. The mud flap was a Godsend. I may just leave it on my bike since I seem to be magnet to muddy races. We rode the five miles on pavement, and I didn’t have that usual feeling of speed. I felt tired and lame. A friend of mine in Velo Vixens was on a fat tire with her boyfriend, and after another Velo Vixen, Melanie, past me again, I settled into the pace I had going. I past two ladies during the whole race. There were not many of us – only 10 women. During the race I learned some lessons.

  • Just because the elevation profile is less than another race doesn’t mean the race will be easier. Maybe it was the horrible conditions? Maybe the climbs were steeper. It was harder than I thought. Training Peaks agreed and assigned it a harder ranking than Fool’s Gold 50.
  • This race has a ton of climbing after mile 35 when the legs are already fatigued. Torture. I walked. I prayed. I contemplated phoning a friend to send a lifeline.
  • Crossing the river (maybe it’s a creek normally?) freaked me out. I wasn’t prepared for it as no one had mentioned it and hadn’t seen an online write-up about it. Thank goodness for ziplock bags or the phone would have been ruined. The bike is a mess, I will say.
  • Red thick clay mud is no fun.
  • Lula Lake has some beautiful land. I’m thankful they allowed us to ride on it the one day out of the year.
  • I did better on nutrition this time. I had 5 bottles with two scoops infinit each. I think increasing my water in real life is working.
  • A rear mud flap isn’t a bad idea.
  • Melanie is amazing on a SS.
  • I had wanted a sub 5.5 hours but I will take my 5:56:30. Fourth place.

So overall I was ok with the race. It was hard, and I didn’t feel 100% healthy with an upper respiratory infection going on. Next year hoping for perfect conditions since the last two years were muddy.