Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Bellas Chequamegon Catch Up


When my blog was traveling around the depths of the internet, our Little Bellas Chequamegon Camp happened this past September.  I wanted to share with you the post on it.



The Little Bellas logged another successful and fun camp at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.  The majority of our campers were returnees and it was great to see how much everyone had improved over the course of one year.  All of our campers were strong riders so we rode A LOT of technical Wisconsin singletrack.  We rode out to the cabin every day and sometimes continued onto more trail afterwards.  The girls summited Mt. Telemark more than once and were rewarded with a expansive view of Wisconsin and some solid singletrack descents. It was a real treat to get to shred the trails with all of these Wisconsin rippers.  They know how to grow them tough in the midwest.



We threw in our classic Little Bellas skills games for good measure.  We played dab to work on balance and maneuvering and bike limbo to focus on varying body positions on the bike.


 Joanna Petterson, gravity world cup racers, and Lea Davison, Little Bellas founder and XC world cup racer, both returned for the second year in a row to run the camp.  This year, they were very lucky to be joined by one of our most loved mentors from Vermont, Sarah Schreib.  Lea raced the Chequamegon 40 and, spurred on by the Little Bellas face paint and banners, she won and set a new course record.

Sunday Funday was a bit cold and rainy this year (think 35 degrees and raining) so the Little Bellas crew had to heat things up.  Lead by Sarah, we all donned orange capes and competed in the Sunday Funday activities.  Sarah even tested her cape in the Crit Cross race.

A huge thank you goes out to all of our Chequamegon Little Bellas sponsors and supporters that make this camp not only a reality but a raging success.  A big thank you to Becker Law Firm for the support, the Chequamegon king, Gary Crandall and all of the countless Chequamegon volunteers and crew that helped us throughout the weekend.  Thanks to New Moon Ski and Bike Shop for putting our mentors on sweet Specialized bikes for the weekend and for dialing in Lea’s Specialized Fate  for the big 40 win.  Thank you to Cresthill Resort for putting a wonderful roof over our head and for the incredible view of the lake.  And, last but not least, thank you so much to the consistent support from Specialized/First Gear, G-Form, and Clif Bar.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Foraging, Florida, and the Olympic Long Team


There's been so much happening since m-y last post and I'm so glad my blog is back up and running to tell everyone about it. I'll of course start out with the most exciting news.  I made the Olympic long team! USA Cycling narrowed down the pool to nine women who are in the running for two Olympic mountain bike slots.  I had already qualified for the long team automatically with my world cup and world championship finishes but it's still very nice to have it official.  I'm now one step closer to my Olympic dreams.  There's a couple more steps to go, and it's going to be highly competitive.  The American ladies are fast. I'm thrilled with the opportunity.

In other news, I've been completely packing in the adventures and new experiences.  I first left Kauai for a week to take part in the Specialized Women's 29er Fate product launch in Orlando, Florida.  I stayed at the biggest Marriot in the world, taught a skills clinic to some of the press, and generally had an amazing time.  There was a group of nine of us and there was a lot of laughing in the span of three days.

The Specialized Women's Launch

I then flew up to Vermont for the weekend to surprise my sister, Sabe, my mom, and my grandmother.  It was so much fun seeing the shock on their faces, and my sister made a lot of high pitch noises when I surprised her.  My sister and I bebopped around Vermont for a couple of days like we usually do and I was even graced with an inch or two of snow while I was there.

I returned to Kauai and the Petterson family was working full time preparing for the annual foraging dinner.  This year marked the second annual foraging dinner where forty people took on the local food challenge.  Each guest had to make a dish and could only use ingredients from the islands, even better if the ingredients were found in your backyard.  Since we were the hosts, we had to abide to the strict rules laid down.  When we actually started getting into recipes, we realized how much we relied on shipped ingredients.  But, being on an island of bounty, we got creative to make some amazing dishes.  Jojo and I were tasked to coconuts and this became the basis for the majority of the family's recipes.  Through friends with coconut trees and 'new age foraging' at the green waste dump, we got a whopping total of ninety coconuts in the back of the truck.  We took about half to three quarters of those coconuts through tedious processing.  Jojo would hack the top off with a blade and pour out the coconut water.  Then, she would cut the coconut in half and hand it over for the meat to be scraped out of the shell.  Everyone had their own technique but it all boiled down to sticking a butter knife in the meat and popping it out.  With three of us working, it would take about two hours to get a one gallon ziploc of coconut meat.  I  have blisters.








 Jojo chopping  some of the ninety coconuts we gathered for the foraging dinner

The coconut meat would go into a blender, mix with hot water, and then blended to a slurry.  I would take that mixture and put it into a nut milk bag and squeeze with all my might.  The result is pure, fresh Kauai coconut milk.  It's delicious and better than what comes in a can in the Asian section of the grocery store.  After the milking process, this coconut meat, devoid of most of the coconut flavor, would be dehydrated.  After it's dry, I would blend it again to make coconut flour.  Repeat the entire process.  Several times over the course of two weeks.

This is the coconut milk station.  From left, blender, nut milk bag, jar of coconut milk, and the coconut meat leftovers
 The Petterson Family hard at work preparing the foraging meal

Harvested sugarcane sticks for stirring the drink

I was dead set on making pies for the dessert so I scoured the internet for alternative macademia nut crust recipes, non dairy key lime pie and coconut cream pie recipes.  For my test run, I couldn't find a crust recipe so I threw some macadamia nuts and coconut meat in the blender and added some cold water.  I molded this bizarre crust into a pie formation and made the coconut pie filling out of coconut milk and coconut flour.  The flour pulled a fast one on me and made the filling chunky.  It wasn’t so much of a pie as a coconut pudding.  I set out on try number two with a key lime pie.  I found an amazing recipe from the allergic kid blog which called for sitting over a pot of stirring coconut milk and honey for forty five minutes until it thickened.  I added the lime for good measure and, success, it looked and tasted like a pie. 


My plate at the dinner

A bowl of Suriname cherries at the dinner

I made two of these pies for the dinner.  The Petterson family also made coconut encrusted tilapia with tilapia straight from the ponds on the property.  There was a thai coconut soup with prawns caught from the ponds.  Coconut Taro leaf also joined the menu as well as cassava chips and guacamole.  This was all made from ingredients harvested straight from the property.  Jojo created five gallons of delicious coconut water, passionfruit, and rum cocktail (the rum was made right down the road).  We also recycled wine bottles and made glasses.  All in all, it was quite the lesson in self sufficiency and completely rewarding to taste all of the hard work.

Mahalo for reading!
Lea

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Disneyland!


We went to cap off the day with another Tower of Terror which also broke right before we boarded. Note, this event made ALL of the rides during the second day at the park extra scary and exciting. I honestly thought that at every pause the ride was breaking. For the next two days, part of the family, including me, got what I like to call Disneylanded. We got food poisoning from some Disney food that shall go unnamed because I can’t really stomach even writing it.

 In a Heated Battle up a climb with fellow American, Heather Irmiger.  Czech Republic World Cup Photo: Joanna Petterson

Nevertheless, I was just thankful food poisoning happened in the off season and not during the race season. The final part of the race season followed a much different path than my Disney adventure. As the season progressed, I literally improved my results every single World Cup. It was a wild and exciting ride. At my first world cup in Dalby Forest, I started in seventy-sixth position on the last row. By the time Windham World Cup rolled around halfway through the season, I had worked my way up into a top 30 start position and a top fifteen result.
We somehow made it to our midweek lodging in the Czech Republic with this map.  It was quite the adventure. 

At the next world up in the Czech Republic, I had my break through race. I had a great start and used the same tactic I had all year; pass as many people as possible. This time it landed me in a career best seventh place and close to the podium. It’s such an amazing feeling to do something that I always believed I could do and have been working towards for years. I was so excited to have two more opportunities left in the season with such good fitness.
Next up was World Cup finals at Val di Sole, Italy. I love Italy and it seemed fitting to go back to the Dolomites where I kicked off my cycling training last October on a family vacation. The week was all about fine tuning with amazing Italian food, and it turns out panna cotta might just be my good luck charm. Fueled by cooked cream, I kept my World Cup result streak alive by improving on the Czech Republic result by getting sixth. I was so painfully close to the podium, seconds away, and nonetheless still elated by my ride.

I spent one amazing rest week before World Championships in Morzine, France at FlowMTB. The week was filled with incredible food (think fresh bread and warm croissants delivered to the doorstep every morning) and even more amazing riding. I rode in the shadow of Mount Blanc. Bolstered by one of the best cycling experiences of my life, I headed to the world championships in Champery, Switzerland. The course was a perfect, East Coast technical track and I was excited to give it a go.

 I love Italy and I LOVE gelato

Overall, this race didn’t go as well as my previous two world cups, but it was still a solid performance. I had a less than ideal start but, if I have learned anything this year, it’s not the end of the world….champs. I picked off as many riders as possible and scored 10th place. I was relieved because top 10 is so much better to say than top 11 at world champs. I’m still riding the wave of excitement from my best season yet, and it’s leaving me with energy and motivation for 2012. Now, I’m on Kauai for about two months. I’m looking forward to dispatching some of my Hawaiian adventures.
Lea