Carson City Off-Road

The weekend of June 17-19 tied up the third and final race of the Epic Rides series in Carson City, Nevada. The race in Carson City was added to the series for the first time this year, so it was a new course for everyone who raced. As the series leader heading into Carson City, I made the decision to attend Carson City and skip my hometown HC US Cup race in Missoula, Montana, in order to secure the overall series winner and earn some additional cash to assist in my trip to Mountain Bike World Championships which I happen to be leaving for this afternoon. In addition, my beloved sponsors; Stans NoTubes, Pivot Cycles, Shimano, and Maxxis, all held large roles as event sponsors, and I was honored to represent the team.

The Epic Rides weekends have consistently been my favorite race weekends so far this season. More than the epic courses or the incredible prize purses, I give credit to the people who make these weekends so great; particularly the other ladies. We all show up to push limits and accomplish goals, and we have a blast doing it. The friendships that I have made are some of the best that I have, and in a way we are a family who join together to support, encourage, and inspire one another as we all reach for greatness. We room together, ride together, eat good food and drink coffee together; then on race day, we race as hard as we can against each other.

Having Katerina Nash present this race weekend gave the races a new challenge that I had been lacking the last couple of races, and having her there to push me gave me some solid prep for Worlds. The weekend schedule stays consistent for each Epic Rides race, so as usual, the fat tire criterium wound through downtown Carson City on Friday evening acting as the weekend opener. Katerina held a sprint to the finish that I was unable to beat, but the effort was legit and always appreciate racing her level of talent.

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Fat Tire Crit 
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Finish Sprint

Pre-riding seemed more challenging on this course due to the amount of climbing and trying to stay somewhat rested, so I studied the course profile intently, but ended up racing most of the course sight unseen. My Pivot Les 29 was my bike of choice for Carson City, with Valor Carbon Wheels, and EXO 2.2 Maxxis Ikon tires.

The race began with a long fire-road climb of which started out as a lower gradient, but toward the top turned into a wall of steep pitches that after two hours of climbing at threshold started to really add up. Katerina, Amy, and I climbed together all the way to the top. Even while racing, the views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding snow capped mountains where incredibly beautiful from the Tahoe Rim Trail. Once the single track descent began, it was all I could do to stay on Katerina’s wheel to follow her lines of which she was familiar, but it was apparent she was descending much faster than I. The gap between us grew quickly, and soon she was out of site. Without knowing the trail, I aired on the side of caution, and descended conservatively to assure I kept it upright in the loose sand and blind corners. The words that have been engrained in my head repeated themselves over and over “Race Forward”, as a hard charging Amy Beisel wasn’t about to let up without a fight. Before the final descent, one more 4 mile climb presented the last opportunity to close any gaps. I began to catch glimpses of Katerina ahead on the switchbacks that zigzagged across the mountain, and although I gained some time on her, it wasn’t enough before descending back into town, spreading us out again by a few more seconds. Doubling up with two seconds over the weekend, both to Katerina, keeps me honest and challenged, which is the perfect place to be as I head to the Czech Republic.

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Katerina, Me, Amy, Jenny, and Serena
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Stoked to take the Series Overall Win

Finally, I am very thankful to have the support of Kenny of Stan’s NoTubes at these events. With his help, we have had a series of successful races, and I’m really humbled and honored to be a part of team #stanspivot. 

I have been home for a week and the time has flown by. With a plethora of household chores to complete, training, preparing to be gone for Worlds, and taking some time for the family, the time vanished. Somehow, everything gets completed, and I am really excited for the opportunity to be joining Team USA at the World Championships where I will also meet up with my teammate Chloe, who was just named to the final Olympic team as one of two who will race in Rio! 

 

 

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US Cup #1 Bonelli Park & #2 Sea Otter

I have been home for a few days now, starting to settle into my new house and enjoying the company of my Maine family. And what a treat to come home to 70 degree weather in Montana!

The last few weeks was some of the toughest and most beautiful of my racing career, for every part I am grateful. The first two weekends, Fontana (read about Fontana below) & Bonelli, my XC race’s were two of the toughest to even finish, as my body struggled to turn over my pedals on the steep sections, and all I felt like I could accomplish was to try to recover where it flattened out. My legs hurt so badly and my mind struggled because I was struggling physically. To finish those races was humbling and difficult, when it seemed like it would be better to DNF than to accept a lackluster performance. The disappointment was difficult to control after how much I invested into being ready for those races and how many people are invested into my racing. I’ve decided that I’m entitled to cry as much as I need to and it’s ok (once back at the hotel that is), as it’s really all part of the process. I am grateful that the pressure that I put on myself comes from within, and everyone else was only encouraging and supportive. It is impossible to pinpoint what caused my body to feel that way, maybe I was more tired than I realized.

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Following Bonelli XC; a muddy, wet struggle; and what I like about this photo is that it shows exactly the way I felt.

Short Track followed each of those races on the next day. Each of my Short Track races went well, and encouragingly my body was able to sustain the efforts. Winning Fontana (below) and taking 6th at Bonelli. The Bonelli Short Track is one of the most tactical races, and our field was deeper than the proceeding ST races. I have a lot to learn about tactical racing and this was a great one to practice on, as positioning is everything with the front group remaining about 10 ladies through most of the race, and finishing times being fractions of seconds.

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Off the front in short track, blowing myself up for a prime, which Erin won…Not a tactical move at all.

After Bonelli, I traveled with Chloe and TJ to Berkley, CA, where we stayed with Chloe’s grandparents and prepared for Sea Otter. I rested a bit more and enjoyed the hilly rides around Berkley. At this point in my trip, I was missing my family a lot, especially Layla, and that tugging on my heartstrings was getting stronger. I knew I had one last shot to get me home on a positive note, so I put my energy into one last attempt for a solid race weekend.

We arrived at Sea Otter early Thursday. My Pivot Les 29 (pictured above) was getting launched at the Pivot booth, and I was one of few who had ridden it or raced it prior to the launch. Following the Les launch, we attended the Stan’s NoTubes New MK3 Wheelset launch and 15th year party. These two companies have shown the most incredible support along with incredible product, I couldn’t be more grateful! After sneaking in a pre-ride, Chloe and I got cleaned up for dinner with our KASK family…Nat Ross, Sonya Looney, Courtenay McFadden, and Rebecca Gross. Such a pleasure meeting Sonya for the first time and catching up with the others.

Friday morning was short track. I made some adjustments to my pre-race warm-up routine, really made possible by having trainers from Feedback Sports to warm up on, and I liked how my body responded. After loosing positioning at the start, and a congested first lap, I ended up chasing and it ended up being a solid effort, but crossed the line in 11th. Chloe on the other had, took another short track WIN. I have a few things to learn from this tactically savvy racer who I am honored to be teammates with.

The Cross Country race Saturday morning ended up being one of the best performances of my career. I rode on the limit of feeling like I was going to explode the entire race, which lasted a short 1 hr 11 min. My system functions were back in full force, the feeling was sweeter than I could have even imagined after the previous struggle. Snatching 5th at Sea Otter will remain an lifetime inspiring highlight to me.

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Be strong and courageous!!! It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you, do not fear or be dismayed. Deut. 31:8

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I raced just off the lead group the whole race, they were just within reach, but I couldn’t quite bridge the gap that opened at the start.

There is no question that I earned my spot on the podium that day, but learning to be self-confident has been a process I continue to struggle with. As riders like Erin Huck, Chloe Woodruff, and Ren Chengyuan each had slight issues that set them off pace, I found myself making excuses for my podium because of the issues encountered by these riders. I know that most of us struggle to a degree with having confidence, but I’m learning the importance of having true confidence and the power that comes with that piece.

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I’m stoked to rock the orange Fox fork on my Les the rest of the season!
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Reunited with this sweet face.

Layla is such a trooper. She handles being separated from me like a champ. It’s not easy for any of us, but this life is all she knows, and we are both empowered by what this life has offered.

I am greatly blessed by the support from Nelson, which allows me to be away from home for these extended periods. I’m so thankful to Janet (mom-in-law), who traveled far and took great care of my precious daughter! To Chloe and TJ, who at this point have become more like family, lol! To Team Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot and all who support the journey!

 

 

Pro XCT #2 Fontana

I’m often asked how it is possible to be away from home for nearly three weeks of racing in California, as it could seem impossible to do with a family. My particular situation is unique! It really is that my husband supports me in this endeavor, and I have help. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law flew to Montana from Maine to stay at our house during the duration of this block.

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Layla having fun with her Auntie

Preparing to be gone for this race block also backed up almost simultaneously to moving into our new house. I was cleaning a newly constructed home 2 days prior to leaving, and frantically making beds and unpacking essentials the afternoon before. I’m really happy that my home is getting broken in for me by those I dearly love, but it was a little stressful for a few weeks.

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Cleaning our new house… my husband has worked so hard on this for almost a year.

After moving and traveling to California, I was running on empty. Although, I thought I had bounced back sufficiently, and my pre-rides seemed to have put me into a good place, my body struggled during Saturday’s cross country race. Instead of racing other ladies wheel to wheel, the battle was within mentally and physically as the field spread out.

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Pulled off a smile at the finish, must have been that relieved to be done

Good things can come from not having an ideal race, for it’s in the valleys that we learn and grow the most. Still pulled through in 6th on my Pivot Mach 429 with my Valor wheels. I don’t typically choose to race my dually for XC, but it was definitely my ideal ride of choice for the rough and rocky terrain.

After 10 hours of sleep, I woke up Sunday with renewed energy. The support and love from so many who truly believe in me went a long way, and I could feel God’s presence in my heart and my body. From the gun, short track was exciting. I led a few laps, then tried to race smart; staying within the top four with Larissa Connors, Kate Courtney, and Lea Davison; while not allowing any gaps to open up. I was able to save just enough on the last lap to get around Kate on the flat straight-away and Larissa on the last climb just before descending and crossing the line taking the Win.

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Thanks PB Creative for the photo

Sunday was a good day for Chloe as well. Although I missed her this weekend, she came home with a Bronze Medal from the Pan American Championships in Argentina!

Kenny had a running joke all weekend, calling me “the princess”, which in short means he made sure that my equipment and I were both ready to roll perfectly… Thank you to Kenny and Stan’s NoTubes, and Pivot Cycles, and to those who love and support me in this journey, for He goes before me.

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Happy
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Left to right: Leah, Kate, Rose, Larissa, Cindy
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Getting to wear this hat on the podium was my carrot from Fox and Kenny to win.
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Thank you for the new shades Steve

I’m staying this week with my host family in San Dimas (Thank you Thrashers) to recover and get excited for the first US Cup at Bonelli Park this weekend.

Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team 2016 Announced

With the Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team announcement coming out last week, excitement rushes through my body as I think of this upcoming season. With support from the Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team, I am confident this will be an amazing year, and I am beyond grateful. Part of me can hardly believe that I, with the help of many, have worked my way up from the very bottom. My first 3 years racing fully self-supported will never allow me to take for granted the support and help of my team and sponsors, which makes me that much more hungry to continue to embrace the work…I love the work. I am so excited to represent Stan’s NoTubes for another year, as well as Pivot Cycles.

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Photo Credit: Alla Kostenko, ourhomeworld.net

 

Chloe Woodruff has been an encouragement to me dating back to my first days of racing with an infant. She has continued to be genuine, humble, and real. I’m stoked to be her teammate!

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Photo Credit: Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team

 

2016 Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team Announcement

PIVOT – 2016 Co-Title Sponsor

Sponsors

The Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team is also sponsored by Shimano (drivetrain, brakes, pedals); Maxxis (tires); Castelli (custom clothing); Clif Bar (nutrition); Fox (suspension); PRO (components); Pearl Izumi (shoes, gloves); Kask (helmets); Feedback Sports (trainers); and Cassette Creative (design, marketing).

Connect with the team and its riders

Instagram: @ChloeWoodruff | @RoseKGrant | @StansNoTubes | @Pivot_CyclesUSA
Twitter: @ChloeWoodruff | @RoseKGrant | @NoTubes | @Pivot_CyclesUSA
Facebook: /WoodruffChloe | /NoTubesFan | /PivotCycles
Team Hashtags: #StansPivot, #YourNextBike, #ValorCarbon
Websites: www.ChloeWoodruff.com | www.Rose-Grant.com | www.NoTubes.com |www.PivotCycles.com

2015 World Championships

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My Shiny Cannondale FSi before heading out to battle. Photo Credit: Blog Cannondale

One month plus 3 days ago today, I was racing my first Mountain Bike World Championships in Andorra; still an experience that feels surreal. My first experience being outside of North America, in conjunction with racing outside of North America was incredible; but what seems equally as incredible is the events leading up to the World Champs.

My race season really came together this year, after 4 years filled with tons of work and perseverance, I started to really reap the benefits. It was amazing, being able to put races together with strategy and tactics; I’d replay my coaches words in my head as I played out races the way that we had together visualized.

Once the Worlds Team selection had been announced, which I had been waiting for with anticipation, I knew this opportunity was one that I could not possibly turn down due to monetary costs. It had been a goal that I had set for myself back in February, and I had to see it through. My coach assisted me in setting up a couple fundraising campaigns, and the support that I received through those efforts has humbled me, has challenged me to be more generous, and completely brings tears to my eyes! I am incredibly blessed and so grateful!

I spent the week in Andorra soaking in the experience, I was the obvious rookie. I was racing with the best in the world, in Europe, representing my country, my team, and my home state of Montana! It was an honor being part of Team USA, and I value the relationships that I garnered with my fellow teammates. As the week unfolded, the rain continued to change the track. Within a few days the course changed from dry and fast, to wet and muddy, to sticky, thick muck. Race day came and the sun shined amidst cool temps. I was number plate 55 out of about 60 racers. I lined up on the back row out of six rows. My plan was to be patient and move forward consistently and tactfully. As the race began, the damage the rain had done to the course quickly became obvious. It was a complete mess. Slower became faster; cornering was slow, climbs became impossible to maintain traction, and the tiniest mistake in bike handling was completely unforgiving. Everyone was off their bikes a lot, running, scrambling, slipping, sliding…. I just kept moving. I’d gain a spot, make a mistake and loose two. Then someone in front of me would make a mistake, and I would gain a spot or two. I continued to slowly move forward. The lap times slowed down so much, that winner Pauline Fernando-Prevot’s finishing time was 1 hr 53 min. By the time I finished in 31st, I had been racing for 2 hr 8 min, about 30 minutes longer than most cross country races.

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The very start of the race, almost in dead last. Photo Credit: Blog Cannondale

What an incredible race though! My equipment worked flawlessly. In the muddy conditions my Cannondale FSi was the ticket, with my Crankbrothers Eggbeater pedals, and Kenda Karma tires. The support from USA Cycling allowed me to really focus on my race.

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Greasy Climb almost impossible to ride. Photo Credit: Blog Cannondale

I left everything on the course that day, as I try my best to do on every race day. I had a solid race, 31st for my first world champs is nothing to be disappointed about, and I’m pleased with that result. Deep inside I know I have the ability to do better, and so I continue to stay challenged and hungry, to continue improving and learning and garnering the experience that I need to bridge my way farther up the field. Time and patience is required, but as I approach new bends in the trail, it is my job to explore where they will take me, and continue to trust that God will bless my efforts.

I am so thankful to the village who has continued to make racing my bike possible. My husband, Nelson, is so supportive and proud of me. He, grandparents, and a handful of friends have helped with our daughter Layla for my training and racing. My coach, Dustin; my team, the Stans NoTubes Elite Women; countless local businesses in my community, such as the Sportsmen Ski Haus, Able Body Shop, Access Fitness, the Great Northern Brewing Co., Whitefish Mountain Resort, and so many friends and family have all contributed in so many ways. I am eternally grateful!