Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Race Report: Kenda Cup Series Final, BIG BEAR

TEAM NINJA - KENDA CUP 2014 SERIES CHAMPS

I enjoyed a triumphant return to Big Bear this weekend after the drama of the knee thing. Very excited to report I won my race, and took home the Series Champion title to boot. Thank you to the gang at Big Bear Events and Sho Air Cycling Group for putting together a hella fun series. And thank you to Blaize at RIDE Cyclery for turning my beauty into a frictionless wonder. #BikeDoping

Let's back up because since my last post a lot has been going on getting rehabbed from the knee thing and ready for the BC Bike Race.

THE KNEE

The hardest part about an injury like that is that no one can tell you when you'll be better. You just have to take it day by day, second guess every move and apply your Neosporin religiously. It took three days before the swelling reached its peak and then another three days to get it to come down again. For the Big Bear Shoot Out #1, I decided to get out of the house and support the team and with some peer pressure, I got to the point where I could walk somewhat normally, smooth out the limp and finally get the feeling that it might actually get better.

But when I got back to Carlsbad, it felt like things went backwards - my IT Band was all jacked up, it continued to weep and I was even forced back into a limp. At that point I decided to see my chiropractor who is wonderful (thank you to Dee Folse for introducing us!). He got all my usual trouble spots moving again and he showed me some pressure points to help my knee. I asked him, "Do you think by this time next week I'll be laughing about all this?" And he said, "You'll be laughing tomorrow." I could hardly believe it but he was right. If you have knee problems, try this:


Once I turned the corner, thanks to Dr. Mark, it was a really fast come back. In fact yesterday, the stitches concluded their three week stay with me and my knee and I've graduated to steri strips. Once it was moving again, I didn't waste any time and put in some really hard workouts on the road bike, and at the same time, I put some serious love into the mountain bike as well. The two of us are now pretty much ready for the BC Bike Race.

THE BIKE

If you haven't heard of GarageWorks in Oceanside, let this be your official heads up. Steve is a suspension genius with deep roots in the sport (including designing 5.10 shoes for Sam Hill back in the day) so I had him go over front and rear shocks to make sure everything was up to snuff. He did a great job on the rebuild - the kind that makes you wonder how the heck you made do before. For the first time in a long time, I actually have suspension!

Next stop was RIDE Cyclery in Encinitas for the kind of bike love only Blaize B can deliver. I asked around and the unanimous consensus was that Blaize is your guy if you have some anxiety-laced it's-gotta-be-perfect maintenance work to be done. Blaize made my 2011 Trek Top Fuel feel like a 2015. You name it, it was overhauled and the results are joyous. I was showing all my Ninja Teammates the amazing frictionless wonder all weekend. It was almost a shame to get it dirty. Of course, I DID get it dirty, and I forgot to snap a photo beforehand. #fail.

I'd also like to use this segue between the bike and training to thank my very good friend (and secret weapon) Chris Holmes, who would surely have the title sponsor placement on my custom kit, should I ever have such a thing. He has been there from day one on training rides (once he even drove us to Poway for parkway repeats .... for FUN), and with his bike mech smarts and capabilities, it's 100% true when I say I couldn't do this without him. Thank you Chris!! When we give you our first born, let us know if you'd prefer a boy or a girl.


THE TRAINING 

You might think ten days out with your feet up would be cause for concern, however I was wise (?) enough to crash at the end of an enormous block of training and had a planned week of rest anyway. So I'm happy to report that fitness is 99.9% what it would have been had I *not* crashed and put seven stitches into my knee .

Sorting out Ninja kits at the Team Cabin.
Adding to my quiver of arrows is the amazing Big Bear Cabin Team Ninja has acquired thanks to Coach Richard where we all can go to trick our bodies into making more red blood cells. So hopefully, I've tapped into every advantage I can by this point and I can confidently say I'm in the shape of my life thanks to Coach Richard's meticulous training plan, which is a good place to be before you take on a seven-day stage race. Happy dance!

THE BIG BEAR SHOOT OUT 

Okay back where we started!! The second episode of the Big Bear Shootout! Team Ninja had been leading the standings for the past few races, but to hold on to the top spot, we needed at least six racers to compete in the 2/3 category. However, father's day had our numbers cut down. Our only hope was that the other teams would be similarly hobbled.

As for my race, I learned that coffee and I are extra electric at 7,000' so the second cup on race morning was probably unnecessary. You can ask Regina, who was my ride from the cabin to the course and pre-warm up buddy. I was freakin' out. Partly the coffee but partly a bit of a confidence blip thanks to my return to the "scene of the crime."

Eventually I figured out that I should probably not be around people and went off to do my warm up and settle down. In staging I was super stoked to see a bunch of ladies had shown up! It had been lonely at the last event so this was a great change. Always happy to see women out racing.

Cat 1 30-39 Podium - W
Once the man said "go," all the anxiety and jitters went straight through my pedals into the dirt and I left it all behind. I was so happy to be back on my bike, racing, and healthy. I flew up the climb and just stayed on it through the long fire road first half of the race. The course was so long I hardly saw anyone so I just focused on riding clean and got blissed out on the views. 

Everything was going awesome until I made a mistake in a narrow section that saw my shifter smash into my guess-which-knee. I avoided disaster by a couple of millimeters, leaving the stitches still intact and the largest part of my wound closed. However the outside edge dribbled some red stuff down my leg and throbbed some too. The combination of oxygen debt, being grossed out and freaked out by my narrow avoidance of major complications left me about ready to vomit. I talked myself off the ledge as I worked to get my flow back on Skyline and before I knew it, I was starting to recognize the trail again and by the time I hit Fall Line, I was feeling just like my old self.

TEAM NINJA Cat 1/pro squad claims 3rd overall
Crossed the line in first place to the cheers of my Ninja teammates and then it was on to the serious
business of cheeseburgers, chips and pop. And a cider too, since we were celebrating. The girls had great rides, with Regina claiming victory in everything Super D and Paula up on the podium for her 2nd place finish on both the day and in the series. The dudes were posting some PRs as well and scored even more podium time for the crew. Check out the official team race report with full team results here.

Team Ninja's Cat 2/3 co-ed roster had the late and unexpected addition of Anne-Catherine, who logged a win and put us over the edge in series points. The day's hero for sure! Richard and I (and Evan before his truly unfortunate collarbone break) managed to claim enough points to take third place in the Cat 1/pro co-ed overall. And I also claimed the individual series win for the Cat 1 30-39 women.

Thank you to Sho-Air for putting on a tremendous series - we Ninjas had so much fun so thank you for giving us seven awesome opportunities to hang out and race bikes. We're excited for the State Championships so see you then!

Thanks as always to Team Ninja for being LITERALLY the best team in SoCal. So proud to wear our colors!

And thanks again as always to Coach Richard La China for bringing us all together, providing so many amazing opportunities to get better, fitter, stronger and for me personally, for getting me through a tough ten days and right back into the game.

Next stop! BC Bike Race.


Ninjas relaxing after the hunt (and before the next!)