Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 stats

Miles ridden: 4,717
Miles ran: 1.3
Total races: 55 -- 10 mountain bike, 45 CX
Broken bones: ZERO
Number of rides with Christopher on single track: 1
2012 was a very hectic year but pretty good. = )

2011 numbers:
Miles ridden: 2,715
Miles ran: 148.7
Total races: 42 -- 1 road, 9 mountain bike, 32 CX

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Working, Racing & Race Planning

On Sunday, I did the Wildlife Wild Mountain Bike Race put on by Betsy and the rest of the PAMBA crew at Wildlife Prairie State Park near Peoria. I probably should have taken a weekend off from racing but I really liked the trails the last time I raced there; I knew they had practically doubled the amount of single track; and, I wanted to support Betsy and PAMBA by going to the race.

On Saturday, I helped out with a Bike & Dine in Lockport. I really wanted to just lay around. It's been hectic and I could kind of feel a cold coming on. But, it is hard to turn down an opportunity to get paid to ride my bike.
I had about two hours of pedaling time at an easy enough pace that I took a heck of a lot of photos, rode parts of the I & M Canal Trail that I had not previously rode, found out where the Isle a la Cache Museum is and taught a lady how to shift her bike. So, a tiring day; but, all in all, a good day. While I was pedaling around Lockport, Joliet and Romeoville, Tom & Christopher went on a hike at Teason's Woods, near Palos -- which is what the photo on top is from. I got home before them and chilled out on the couch a bit before getting my stuff ready for the race.
I woke up early and headed down to Peoria. I got there earlier than I expected which let me get in a leisurely lap, finishing right after the beginners started. The trails were fun to ride although I was feeling a little crappy. The course was broken into two parts -- one section of single-track with lots of twisty single-track and lots of fun; although, one or two parts I knew I may have trouble with during the race. Then, out in the open and over to the other sections of single-track that were a little more technical but that I had less issues with. Then, back to the start/finish section and out to the first section of single track again. A lap was somewhere between 7-8 miles. We would be doing three laps so it would be a slightly longer race than usual.

I didn't have any goals really for the race. I wanted to do well but knew that my body was probably more in need of a rest than a race. I started off okay, although not great. I did too many stupid little mistakes during the first lap. I had a sport woman right on my tail and Bev behind her and I have a tendency to ride like an idiot when I know people are right behind me. Bev passed me probably about half-way into the first lap. So, that meant I was dead last again. Very frustrating but oh well. I wanted to, at least, keep the sport lady behind me. I knew the second part of the lap was a little more technical and by the end of the lap I was feeling a little better.

The second lap I came across Rachael sitting on the side of the trail. I asked if she needed me to stop and she said no. I felt bad since she looked miserable. However, I then cleaned one little technical section which was a small victory and the volunteer said another woman was right ahead of me. I knew she was in the sport race and not mine but set a goal to catch her anyway. I passed her during the second part of the lap, a little before the Edge of the World trail.

Third lap, my legs kept feeling like they were going to cramp up. It held off until I crossed the finish line and stopped. Fifth place. I actually got a medal & $15. I also scored a pair of socks. I was definitely glad I went but am so glad and happy (yes, I know that is redundant) that I am not racing this weekend. However, I am taking Christopher on a mini-trip with us spending all day Saturday at Great America so I'm not sure how relaxing that will be.

I'm hoping things will calm down a bit in the immediate future. We had our final 2012 Palos Meltdown meeting yesterday evening. I'm going to try to get a media release done in the near future with some photos, talk about the equipment for trail building/maintenance that CAMBr will be able to get with the funds raised, the tentative 2013 date, etc. (Psst, you may want to keep July 21, 2013 open.) I have a project I have to finish up for LIB and then I'm just hoping to go a little time without any crises.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Race successes & missed goals

This Sunday was the sixth annual Palos Meltdown. I was so tired and out of it for most of the day on Monday. The race, itself, was an absolute huge success. The race has grown steadily most years. In 2010, we had nearly 500 racers. Last year, with rain a good chunk of the day before and a small amount of rain the day of the race, we had almost the exact same number. This year, we had more that actually pre-registered. Both race director Ben Jenkins and CAMBr-Palos president Burak Balkuv mentioned we were going to max out. The first few years of the race, we did actually have a maximum amount of allowed racers per the Cook County Forest Preserve District, so that is what I kept thinking they were referring to. Nope. We had 800 number plates and were terrifyingly close to running out of numbers. More than 750 racers. 750+ racers!!! That means we grew by 50 frigging percent. 

I took the top photo while Cook County president Toni Preckwinkle was speaking, right before the start of the novice race. I found out Friday afternoon she would be attending when Ben asked me to do a press release. I revised the initial release I did and sent it out to more than 180 newspaper, TV and radio media contacts. To tell the truth, I figured it wouldn't get much notice since it was going out on a Friday afternoon. Then, I heard that we had a bunch of TV crews there. = )

(Christopher rockin' the finish of the kids' race)

Saturday morning, I led a small group of ladies on a lap of the race course. I stopped several times to point out things such as keeping your butt back and braking steadily on Bad Ass Hill, etc. We stopped at the first two ravines to scope out lines, get tips and practice going through the ravines. I was beat after the ride but several of the ladies rode the ravines for the first time, which was very cool. Even cooler was when Sandra Samman came over to the LIB tent after her race. She was one of those that rode the ravines for the first time on Saturday morning. She had won the women's novice race. = )

Jacquelyn Felt won the women's sport overall -- after taking a multi-hour licensing exam that morning. She was also at the women's ride -- She is a good rider and already knew how to ride the ravines but I'm hoping the pre-ride helped a little. = ) Annette Stahelin finished 9th overall in sport!!! And, Laurie Chipps was only a few spots behind in 13th.

After the ride, I met up with Anna -- who had gotten lost and missed the start of the ride. I got her pedals on my Ferrous, adjusted the seat height and filled up her water bottle before she went out with Jacquelyn for a ride. Thanks, Jacquelyn!

I grabbed lunch at Tastee-Freez and then helped out with race set up. You can see some of my work with the fencing to the right of the starters. = ) I left right before the rain started coming down.

Sunday morning, I was out of the house at 7 a.m. I got to the race and saw my tent was already set up. = ) I set up my tables, LIB banner, got out brochures, etc. There was food for volunteers. I saw donuts and had a total craving for vegan donuts. I improvised with a pita, grape jelly and sugar. Not a good substitute. I also chowed down on some PB&J's. A little too much chowing down.

I spoke to people about the race, the League of Illinois Bicyclists, mountain biking, ladies rides, etc. I had a some people sign up for LIB's e-newsletter/alerts but no memberships. I changed and thought that I was really tired already. I started warming up and thought that my legs were sore. But, as I finished warming up my legs started coming around. I knew there would be a lot of fast ladies out there and was setting my goal as trying to stay as close to Rachael as possible.
The kids race saw something around 70 kids line up. It was crazy. We should have probably been prepared for that, considering the huge amount of racers. They'll be some changes for next year -- possibly bringing back the shorter lap race to give another option besides the free kids race or the much, much longer novice race. We'll also likely have some way for people to pre-register their kids for the race. I helped cheer Christopher on and then downed a chocolate gel and headed on down to my race. As I rolled down, the expert guys were going off. Crap.
We started and it was bad but I was not last. I even moved up a couple of spots by the end of Turf. But, the food and gel were not sitting great with me and I could tell the long days were not helping my racing ability. On One Day, Betsy was right behind me -- talking to me in a conversational voice while I was breathing heavy. Crap. Betsy and another rider passed me at the start of the climbing at Gravity Cavity. Patty passed me right after climbing up the grass hill. 
(Photo credit: Northwest Mountain Bike)

I realized that now put me in last place. Ugh. And, unfortunately, that is how I finished. I felt like I rode really good technically, for the most part -- including not breaking for the ravines. = ) And, I felt like I rode stronger than I had the year before. But, DFL. Tom came up to me right after the finish and I told him to go away. I soft pedaled a little bit, to lick my wounds and tell myself to HTFU. It kind of worked. I came back, apologized to Tom and heard from Christopher "Mommy, there are people over there that know you." Yep, there were a lot of people there that knew his mommy. It was so great to have people cheering me on throughout the course. = )
I socialized a bit and actually got a medal for third place in my age group. I definitely didn't feel worthy of a medal but it was still great to stand on the podium for my local race and a race I worked hard to help be successful. 

Christopher did more riding that day than he may ever have. He kept wanting to ride down the grass hill, which does not look nearly as steep in this photo.

Final numbers are not in for what CAMBr raised from the event. There were a record number of entries as well as some raffle ticket sales and shirt sales but there were also county permit fees, porta potties, number plates, timing chips, food for volunteers, official fees, etc. Stan said funds will likely be used to buy equipment for trail building and maintenance, such as another motorized wheel barrow and something for berming the trails (I can't remember the exact wording as I spoke with him right before heading out for a ride). Some will also likely be used for lunches for volunteers during trail days.

This Saturday, I'll be leading a Bike & Dine in Lockport, which should be fun. On Sunday, I'll be heading to the Peoria area to race at Wildlife Prairie State Park. Eight-mile loops of mostly single-track, which should also be fun. The best part, though, will likely be the ability to just show up, ride some of the course, warm up and race and let someone else worry about all the other stuff. = )

Monday, July 23, 2012

Imagining a Well-Marked Course

Yesterday, was the mountain bike race at Imagination Glen. They are fun trails so I was looking forward to the race even though I've been battling a cold or something for most of the week. I knew the course was technical but didn't want to pre-ride a lap since it's 10 miles. I did ride part of the course, socialized and warmed up. It ended up being myself and one other woman. Imagination Glen are her home trails, so to speak, and I remembered her having a very speedy first lap last year before dropping out due to mechanical issues. So, I was kind of resigned to second place but figured I would see how I felt on the bike.

Then, the race started and several sections of the course didn't have tape on them. I ended up going down one part the wrong way and then ended up riding back the way I had came. A volunteer starts yelling at me, I get turned around to do that portion a third time and then come to another volunteer that makes me stop -- stop -- for awhile because he just started and is not sure where the trail is. Things start going well and, then, another section that is not marked. I guess which way to go and then have someone tell me I'm not on the race course. I double back, look around and, it turns out that, yeah, I had been on the course. Since the other lady knew the race course, she obviously did not have those issues. Talk about a home court advantage.

That definitely tends to ruin your mental game for a race. I spoke to others after the race who, unfortunately, had similar experiences. It didn't help that, during my second lap, one of the volunteers starting yelling at me about the tape being down. Or, the fact that they were paying out for the guys but not the ladies. Or, that I remembered that last year they couldn't find the keys to open up the bathrooms. Ugh.

On a good note, I did get three hours of mountain biking in. They did have watermelon, cantaloupe and bananas for racers afterwards which was cool. And, apparently, they then had their act together for the other races. But, I'm not sure I could recommend this race to anyone.

And, on a better note, we did a little family bike ride to a park after I got home. I took photos of them playing at the park while I laid in the grass looking at the clouds and my dirty legs, which I had been too tired to wipe off. = )

Macomb had been a couple of weeks before. That race I would definitely recommend, even though it is a haul. They had a great course, it was marked well and the guy that runs it is super nice. When I finished, I was handed a cold Powerade. Betsy, Bev and I lined up and decided to just go off the same time as the sport ladies. I rode well the first lap and, then, just wasn't there mentally. Life sometimes sucks and that was one of those periods.

This coming up weekend, however, will be full of fun and smiles. = ) I can't believe my little guy is actually turning six a week from today. His party will be on Saturday and I'm still trying to think of something cool for us to do on Sunday.

Then, the Palos Meltdown is on Sunday, Aug. 5!!! I can't believe it is this soon! We still have a final committee meeting and the packet stuffing as well as final decisions on the course and marking it. I have to say, I will be breathing a big sigh of relief at the end of the day. Ben has been doing a great job as race director and I'm sure he'll need a beer, nap or both by the time it's over. I hope to see everyone there -- either racing, cheering people on or helping out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A good day for the Kenny family (mostly)

Yesterday was a busy day for our family. I had already been planning to travel down to the Peoria area to race in the Jubilee Challenge when we learned that Chris and Martin Kratt, the brothers from the PBS show "Wild Kratts," would be returning to Brookfield Zoo on the same day. "Wild Kratts" is one of Christopher's favorite shows so, Tom & Christopher made plans to spend the day at the zoo, while I made plans to go race.

(Martin Kratt on stage.)

This race always seems to have very hot weather but, at least, the trails would be dry this year. There is quite a bit of climbing but the trails are fun. You definitely have to stay on your toes, though, as there are quite a few switch backs and hair pin turns, sometimes when you least expect it. I knew there was going to be a low turnout for the women's expert race but I was also psyched. I've been training pretty consistently this year and have also been trying to improve my technical skills -- particularly, when it comes to turning and trying not to brake so much before log piles.

I had tried to find someone to carpool with and didn't have much luck. So, I decided to take advantage and planned on bringing a small cooler to keep up in front with stuff to eat/drink in the car and have a big cooler in the back. I had decided I wanted to fill my Camelbak bladder with ice but didn't want my Heed to get too diluted when the ice melted -- so, I made Heed popsicles. = )

I couldn't find our ice cube tray. I think Christopher had wanted to play with it at some point for some reason. So, I took his old juice cups with lids and filled a bunch of them half-way with Heed and put them in the freezer. I then put the frozen Heed in the bladder with some ice cubes and more Heed. I packed the cooler the night before with lots of ice packs, etc. and, I'm thrilled to report, that at the start of my race there were still some frozen parts in the bladder and I still had cold Heed to drink by the end of the race. It was somewhat of a hassle to do but it was definitely worth it.

I got there early enough to preride the course. I missed the turnoff for the sport/expert loop and just did the beginner lap. I figured that let me know most of the course and that I'd be doing the climbs in the sport/expert portion enough during the race anyway. I had switched stems last week -- trying an 80 mm with more rise. On Saturday, I rode and thought that I should switch back for the race. Well, preriding on Sunday with the 90mm stem felt really odd so I switched back again. A huge thanks to Tony Thaller who helped me get everything tight so I didn't kill myself during the race.

I spent some time sitting in the air conditioning in the car, put some Palos Meltdown fliers on cars, sat in the car again and warmed up. At this point, I knew it would just be Betsy and I. She had injured her arm pretty bad on a trip in the spring and had not been on the bike much. I thought I might have a chance to beat her but she is a speedy lady with awesome mountain biking skills and this was one of her home courses. Last year, she found out she had Lyme disease and was on drugs with bad side effects. She still beat me at Matthiessen even though she was feeling lousy. I had been totally psyched, at the time, to just have been ahead of her for half of the race.

I actually stayed in front of her the whole race. I would think I was safely ahead and then would either see her, hear her or would have someone tell me she was right behind me. I only finished a minute ahead of her, maybe even less than that. I'm still in awe that I was able to do it. I'm sure she'll be kicking my butt again soon but yesterday was definitely very, very cool.

As a bonus, I got another plastic cup! Now that I know they have a medal and $ in them, I was very happy to see it. = ) It is definitely an excellent idea to keep the medals/pay outs organized.

Worst part of the race, listening to the radio on the way there and having "Call Me Maybe" stuck in my head for most of the time. That was pretty horrible.

I know this weekend is the WORS CamRock race. I'm kind of sad I won't be able to go. But, a trip for a bike race is no where on the list of things Tom would like to do for Father's Day.

Speaking of Tom, he unfortunately now understands how crappy you can feel after spending too much time in the heat. Tom and Christopher got to the zoo early, on Sunday, to stake out a spot to watch the Kratts Brothers. They watched the show, waited in a very long line to get Martin Kratt's autograph and checked out some of the zoo. From what they told me, Christopher had a wonderful time. Tom -- not so much.

(Christopher and Martin Kratt)
Afterwards, we went to Tastee Freez to celebrate my win with a funnel cake for me, ice cream for Christopher and a shake for Tom. It was a long, but wonderful, day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This past Sunday was the Black Partridge Open race. I did really well in this race two years ago -- keeping ahead of two speedy ladies and riding well. Last year, I felt horrible on the bike. So, this year, my goal was do better than the year before. I'm sure the Racing Ralph's, rigid fork and starting the race overheated didn't help last year's performance so it wasn't asking much to do better this year.

The course is mostly fun singletrack with a few climbs. Rachael and I were the only ones pre-registered. I knew we'd have a small field but did not realize that we would be the only expert ladies lining up. Besides wanting to do better than last year, I also wanted to stay ahead of the sport ladies. We're off, at the same time as the expert guys, and I'm excited that I'm actually mostly keeping up with Rachael. I slide back some and, then, slide out on one of the turns. I'm still at times over-thinking logs and turning, trying to remember the tips Alison Dunlap gave us at the clinic on Mother's Day, and the sliding out didn't help. I see Rachael finishing going through the grassy start/finish area as I am entering it.

I had my Garmin wrapped around a foam thing on my handlebars and it starts coming loose my second lap. I try fiddling with it while riding so I don't have to stop. I spend way too long doing that and realize that I have to stop or I will likely lose it or break it. Not thinking clearly, I stop in the middle of the trail. Oops. I apologize to the sport guy that comes up behind me and, then, crap. A sport girl passes me. I am determined not to finish behind a sport lady again so I kick it up a notch. As I'm in the double-track, a little before the field and start/finish, I'm still wondering how far back the sport girl is and see Rachael up ahead of me. So, I figure to see if I can pass her. I realize I won't be able to make it stick but I figure why not. I actually cross the line to start lap 3 ahead of her. She says "You realize we have another lap, right?" I did but my body apparently did not. = )

I kept trying to push it the third lap but it was definitely harder -- I used up quite a bit of energy with the second half of the second lap and it was really hot. Still, I rolled in for second place four minutes behind Rachael. She was having some stomach issues but is still one heck of a speedy lady and extremely talented rider. So, I finished close behind Rachael, kept the sport girls behind me and rode pretty well. And, I got handed a plastic cup as I got on the podium. I'm wondering what the heck kind of lame award is this; and, then realize it has $40 cash and a medal inside. Sweet!

The photo is of Christopher at the park yesterday.
Thanks to those of you who have expressed concern/interest about my mom. She is a pretty private person but I will say that she is doing well and is one tough lady. = )

Monday, May 7, 2012

Matthiessen Race

(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Mosely)

Yesterday was the Matthiessen race. I was excited for this race as I did well last year and enjoyed the trails -- although, there was definitely some climbing. I was able to carpool with Bob Anderson and we headed out a little before 9 a.m. so we could get there early enough to preride. I wanted to at least ride the beginner's loop to get a feel for trail conditions, etc.

Soon before we got there it started raining. It let up as we picked up our number plates and, then, started again. There had already been quite a bit of rain during the past week so I knew the trails were going to be muddy. I also knew that some of the steep climbs would likely be unrideable. I did an easy lap while the beginners race was going on, trying hard to stay out of racers' way. There was a little rooted section that I should not have had any issues with but was anyway. The trails were pretty wet and starting to get a little bit beat up. I knew that by the end of my race they would be even worse but, hopefully, not terrible.

I ended up eating a Clif Builder too close to the start and didn't really get in a good warm up but I knew that turnout would be light with the weather/trails conditions. There ended up being only two women's expert racers. They wanted to combine us with the sport group but I plan on doing most of the Illinois series and wanted to make sure I got series points. The other girl was also up for an extra lap so we started at the back of the expert guys. We were off and it was definitely like the start of a 4B CX race as there were build ups at each of the turns around the trees before you head into the single track. I got ahead of Moriah (the other lady) right before the single track. The pace was still a little slow but not so slow that I wanted to pass the guys. It was slick but not bad and fun. I could hear Moriah breathing behind me so I knew she was right on my tail but I was feeling pretty good.

And, that's how most of the race went. Moriah was far enough behind me for most of the race that I kept telling myself to go at a good pace but mainly focus on not crashing or doing anything stupid. On the second lap, we were told that they were going to cut out the river section for the rest of the race. I was kind of indifferent to whether it was in or not. It was definitely muddy and added another climb but it was also fun.

Going through the trees, starting my third lap, I chatted with Hemme and others and gave some high fives. It was muddy but I was definitely having a good time. Soon after entering the singletrack, I managed to run into the tree -- at the a sharp right turn with a tree to the left of the trail. As soon as I hit it, I remembered doing the exact same thing the year before. I was amused as well as slightly embarrassed.

A little further into the third lap, I heard Regina behind me, who was doing the sport race. She asked to pass and I rode behind her for most of the lap until the hike-a-bike climb. Being so short, I'm always at a disadvantage on those. I let some guys get around me and continued riding -- seeing Regina a little ahead of me and wanting to push it to catch up to her but telling myself to go steady and not do something stupid to crash, knowing Moriah was somewhere behind and that I still had another lap to go.

I came through the finish soon after Regina and they told me I was finished. I figured they thought I was doing the sport race and told them I still had another lap. They said they were stopping everyone and I argued with them, wanting to do the four laps. I can see their point in wanting to stop everyone but it had only been 1:44 and the shortened lap would have only added another 20-25 minutes. Oh well.

I did get a totally awesome trophy and $80, which was very cool. Bob, Dennis Schuller, Steve and his wife Cindy and I got food at Duffy's before heading back. Not entirely vegan-friendly but I was able to get a veggie sandwich and fries and definitely enjoyed the company.

Christopher was excited to see the trophy and Tom was kind enough to hose down my muddy bike that weighed a heck of a lot more than it had in the morning. The next ladies trail ride is this Saturday, which should be fun. And, on Sunday, I get to celebrate Mother's Day with a mountain bike clinic with Alison Dunlap!!!! I'm so excited. = )