Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Different Approach

 One of the many view of Gibraltor
 Gibraltor, Santa Barbara
 Racing Fontana Photo: Johnny Mueller


And, just like that, the 2015 race season has begun.  Last weekend, the season kicked off in Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA.   Scott Tedro and Sho-Air Cycling put on this spring race series, the U.S Cup, and it's elevated the level of mountain biking in North America.  These first races are either C1 or HC UCI status which, in layman's terms, have the highest level of points and importance right below a world cup.  In other words, these races are high priority and the pro women are going fast.  I, however, as far as I know,  have been approaching this season a bit different than my competition.  I am placing my highest priority on the world cup series which starts in two months. I am placing a lower priority on these early season races and using them as great training.  And great training was exactly what Bonelli proved to be.



It was ninety degrees during our race at Bonelli, and it was also a lap longer than normal.  Our races usually clock in at about one hour and thirty minutes.  This race ended up being two hours long on a very punchy, punishing course.  It was hot.  I led out the start lap, and then, a lot of ladies passed me.  I definitely had a more conservative approach to the race because I was nervous about the eighty degree temperature change.  I was also a little unsure about my on bike fitness.  I suffered and did the best I could under the difficult circumstances.  I ended up eleventh.  This is definitely not my best finish in the least, and it was mentally challenging to have an off day. I was hoping for a top five finish.  It seemed like a lot of factors were stacked against me.  I was definitely bummed, but, then I talked to my coach, and this was apparently the plan.  We are training through all of these races.  But, Andy didn't really want to make that very clear before the race to put limits on me.  As he says sometimes, 'you could either win this race or maybe it's not going to go that well'.  Bonelli was definitely the latter of the two.



I traveled to Santa Barbara for the week in between Bonelli and Fontana with my Specialized teammate, Howard Grotts.  I spent three days exploring the endless cycling scene there, and it was fantastic.  I crossed the famous Gibraltor Climb and Camino de Cielo off my to-ride list, and it's definitely all it's cracked up to be.  This ride had amazing views, and Camino de Cielo literally traverses the ridge of the mountains.  I could look left and see the ocean and look right to see the mountains.  And, I would ride through the clouds.  It was an incredible experience, and I could definitely explore Santa Barbara for a long time.  I didn't even get into the mountain bike trails.



We traveled back to L.A on Thursday evening to prepare for the second U.S Cup in Fontana.  Thankfully, it was a cooler race day, and I have started to put the pieces together a bit more on the bike.  I had a solid start within the top 10, but, unfortunately, lost the lead group on the first lap.  But then, I bridged up to the lead group on the second lap.  I was thrilled to see them. Then, I lost the lead group on that same lap and then bridged back up again.  It was a day of being a yo-yo, but I am so pumped to be in the mix more, if even briefly.  I flew home the night of the cross country race to get back to Santa Cruz for a couple of days before flying to the Pan-American Championships in Bogota, Columbia.  Because I skipped the short track today, I was able to get an awesome four hour road ride on some new roads in Santa Cruz.  It was such a great day of training, and I felt good on my bike.  It's great to get some good sensations going again.



I have made the first step of the race season, and I think my unorthodox approach will pay off.  If last season was indicative, it might just be the ticket.



Thanks so much for the support!

Lea



 I made the perfect pancake before my big ride today
 In Santa Barbara, a friend had the exact replica of the 'Blue Goose'.  The Schwinn Tornado that was my mom's first bike and that my sister and I rode at Middlebury.  This is literally my favorite bike.  It, unfortunately, got stolen but it's good to know its kind is still out there
 Oakley is getting our Little Bellas mentors styled out with performance glasses.  Thank you so much for the support
 Racing in Fontana photo: Johnny Mueller
 Photo: Johnny Mueller
 Santa Barbara, CA
 The Clouds of Camino de Cielo
 Santa Barbara, CA
 My new murdered out Specialized Women Amira.  This bike is incredible
 Now I can take Jojo with me wherever I go.  Thank you Ogio.
 Getting my recovery on with Normatec. Next level. 
Racing through a field of flowers at Bonelli.  Photo: Joanna Petterson

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Snow to Sun


 Should we hit this drop? 
I could get used to this place 

It’s been one rollercoaster of a week!  I squeezed out the last bit of Vermont winter until I flew out to California to get on my bike at the last possible minute.  I capped off the phenomenal winter with an amazing backcountry ski with turns in a fresh field of powder.  I’m talking untouched, pristine snow.  And, to top it off, I skinned to the highest point I’ve ever been.  I was treated to a great view of Mount Mansfield.  Then, the day before I left, I drove over to New York with my parents to race in the Lake Placid Loppet, a twenty five kilometer half marathon ski race.  The conditions were prime, and it was warmer than ten degrees so it felt simply tropical compared to the deep freeze the east coast has been in.  I was absolutely inspired by my In the Arena teammate, Caitlin Gregg, and U.S Ski teamer Jessie Diggins World Nordic Championship podium performances.  (Congrats Caitlin!  So awesome).  I tried to channel these ladies and went out hard.  I dropped the small group of guys I was skiing with on the downhill  (thank you VTXC for waxing my skis rocket fast).  Then, I maintained my pace to pick off some people for the rest of the fifteen kilometers for the win.  I won a beautiful container of maple syrup made from the very maple trees that line the very ski trails we raced on.  I also won a Swix jacket.  Sabe said that I was surprisingly prize motivated.  When it comes to food and ski stuff, I become very prize motivated. 

I, then, jetted off to our normal spring training spot, Santa Cruz, CA.  It's still very crazy to undergo a stark weather transition.  I am in a winter wonderland one day and summer weather with the breeze blowing on my bare skin the next.  I hopped right on my mountain bike and hit the dirt for two days to get used to two wheels before the USA Cycling skills camp.  Then, I flew on Thursday to Bellingham, WA with a great group of Under-23 ladies to hone in our technical skills with coach Shaums March.  It was probably the best weekend of riding of my life.  This is saying a lot because I'm lucky enough to log in a lot of amazing rides.  But, on this past weekend, the weather was perfect, the trails were amazing, and we all stepped up our riding to the next level.  With more world cup courses incorporating big free ride features such as jumps and drops, I've needed to progress my riding.  It's a necessity to be comfortable in the air, and, for the last three days, we've spread our little wings and started to fly a bit.  There has been so many times that I've been mountain biking and taken the line around jumps or drops.  Every time I do that, I want to ride these features, and I get a bit bummed that I'm not.  This weekend was completely different.  We broke down a trail that was packed with jumps and drops and progressed.  By the last day of the camp, I was riding the majority of the features on this trail and trying jumps and drops bigger than I ever have.  It was just the most fun to be in the air on my bike.  It was so rewarding to actually ride the features.  Maybe Jojo and I can ride the same trails now.   I am so completely excited about the weekend, about mountain biking, and about the season.  The season kicks off next weekend at Bonelli Park in California.  There will be a live feed of the first two races of the season on the internet.  I race on Saturday, March 11 at 11 am PST.  Look at the U.S Cup website for the live feed.  Thanks so much for the support.  Life is great. 

 Caffeine is needed before hulking myself off of things so early
 My Specialized Teammate, Kate, and I
 Really digging the dry northwest riding
 Our crew for the weekend. Miracle coach, Shaums March, in the middle

 These ladies were so much fun to ride and progress with.  Kaylee Blevins, Kate Courtney, and Shayna Powless


We rode our bikes off of this