Monday, February 24, 2014

South Florida/Coconut Cup Series # 7, Halpatiokee Park - Stuart, Florida

Halpatiokee Park

South Florida Series Final - 2nd Women Pro/Expert
2nd Overall for the Coconut Cup Series

It was a Mud Fest all the way throughout the race with no way to escape it...
Day goal - Keep the tires down and finish in one piece.

I can say mission accomplished but all of it didn't come easy but rather with tons of grinding, pushing, sliding and fighting through truckloads of thick, dark and deep mud that filled miles at the time of very narrow, bumpy and root infested bike path.

Pictures and words can't even describe what we all had to go through. But those that raced this weekend in Stuart know exactly what I am talking about.

Congrats to everyone who finished today and raced throughout whole series!

And the race series finale is here.

After many months of racing in two Florida Championship series finally the end is within reach. Well with only one last thing to do correctly; somehow bike through all this pile of mud to get to officially finish the series.

Race start. Oh if we only knew what was out there!

It was a third year in a row where I did both the Florida State and South Florida Mtb series, and need to admit it is not easy to get out and race back to back weekends for six months straight. But somehow I managed and even got used to it. Not of course without endless support of my husband who treated the series as his own and I could have not done it without him.

And since I know how tough this is and how much rearranging of your private life it takes and how much consistency, hard work and commitment, I wanted to congratulate everyone who was brave enough to spend our entire winter in Florida on the race circuit.

The Coconut Cup Series is a little smaller however than the whole Florida State ones but they offer us riders opportunity to ride and race on our local bike tracks and at the same time bring attention to our local bike shops and contribute to the biking community. It’s a win win situation for everyone.

The beginning of a very long and bumpy ride...

During our short trip to Stuart to preview the course we found out quickly that the course was going to be more bumpy than usual because of the eroded trails. Some parts of the course were a little wet but we didn’t worry much about it and headed home. Thanks to our friend Scott who was still pre riding while we were almost pulling into our driveway we found out that it started down pouring over at the park.

This 30 minutes of pouring buckets changed everything for the following day. Riders who did some of the Coconut Races but didn’t compete for overall standings simply opted out to stay home and keep nice and dry while the rest of us who already committed and had only one final  race to do unfortunately had no choice but to race. So loving it or not we headed to the site to discover how flooded the park got. There was standing water everywhere and I didn’t even bother to check before the race condition of the trails.

Quick grass opening and back to the shrubbery

Knowing however that it was going to be most likely a ride to the finish type race where crossing the finish line without a crash would be a priority, lots of riders in different classes decided to vote down the laps including us.

Right from the start we were dodging potholes and riding on the wet grass when instantly before reaching the tight single track we headed through the mud. It was very narrow and slippery in the trails and it was impossible to ride here fast, forget the racing part. The palmetto palms seem like they took over even more terrain than the previous year and really besides the wetness it was impossible to ride here fast; unless you are a careless, fearless rider who doesn’t care about crashing and trashing your bike for no particular reason. The narrow corners were hiding giant 20 inch in diameter palmetto roots which were protruding into the trails with not much worrying.

To be honest, riding that way was not fun, racing even less pleasant. And trust me the park itself is a very beautiful place to visit, I appreciate the nature and wildlife here so much, it’s great to have a relaxing walk, ride, and picnic here with the family. But I would not say it is a mountain biking race course and there are plenty of other riders who also feel the same way.

Zipping through one of many muddy water crossings

So I biked through the bumps, slippery roots and boards, trail dipped us into the water flooded deep puddle crossings. Eventually however we got to the trails which become totally unrideable; they were simply covered with black, thick and standing almost what seemed like foot tall mud! It was insane, we were riding in it sluggishly, pushing what felt like monster gears and almost standing still and even I felt like I was going backwards. I didn’t’ want my bike to stop there, I was like “please don’t stop now” I don’t want to march in this deep mud… so I pushed through but it was quite a miserable and not so fun experience. I was so dirty by now however that when I saw the next flooded area I just went right through it because why really I would care…

I was glad to finish this first almost never ending lap and go by the shoot. But I have a whole 7.5 miles of this adventure waiting for me and repeat it all over again. On the second lap it seemed like the dryer parts of the course got even drier but the muddy parts got so much more destroyed by all the riders that they were becoming even more frustrating and impossible. My bike was simply sliding left and right while making this slimy mud noise and the grinding while coming out from the sections like this was simply awful.

Enjoying a tiny bit of dry land...

I felt bad for my bike but I had to finish. Going at such a slow speed gave me some time to admire the scenery however, the beautiful grasses, wildflowers and all the gorgeous lakes surrounding the trails. And because the sky now was blue and the sun was out, all the moisture made the air quite hot and humid.

When I approached the million palmetto roots crossings for the second time I had an undeceived split second which gave my bike just enough time to slip on one of the roots and timber me in a total slow motion into the palms and sticky-scratchy brushes. I watched myself slowly just lean to the right and lay sideways while still clipped in to my bike. I landed on my right wrist and it did hurt for an instant. To help things out I had a few male riders approaching so I had to get up and get myself together to let them go by. I could care less by now by all the time I lost. I pretty much let everyone who needed to go by since they actually were still competing for overall podium, while the fate in the women’s race had been already decided by points and all there was to be done is to somehow get to the finish.

 When I mounted my bike and started riding another batch of thick mud was there and another group of riders behind, this time I got stuck, had to put my foot down into this gook and let them go by.

Forest of sharp spikes on my glove...

When back once again on my bike I realized I had top of my right glove full of sharp spikes which of course I had no time to remove. After all I was still racing. Therefore for the reminding of the race where I still had a few miles to go I kept reminding myself not to wipe my face with my right hand! Otherwise I would end up with the poky prickles in on my face!

I was sad in a way that this time around I didn’t challenge myself as much as I did in the previous years on this course. I had great battles here with my friend Melissa two years back and the pushing all my buttons Jane a year ago. Each time I raced here I must say I was on the edge and pushing the limits.

But today was different and I got second and Kathy took the win and also the 1st place overall for the Coconut Cup Series and with it the championship jersey that I won two years in a row before.

Happy to make it back to the finish!

Oh well, on the good side we both came a long way; we battled each other in the base class two years back, sport class last season and this time are racing as Experts. It’s a lot if you ask me and I can only be proud of both of us and happy that we were able to get so far in so little time. I know how much hard work it takes to become a strong rider, how exhausting it is to compete for months in a row when other people are goofing around and just simply taking it easy and watching our efforts from the sidelines…

We raced on hot and sunny days, we raced in the worst muddy conditions, we raced in the known local parks with smooth terrain and in those more technical that we visit only once per year and need to figure out on the spot. We took on the challenge in whatever was thrown at us and I’m happy we can say there was nothing that could have stopped us in our tracks. The best part of the whole muddy race is I know by bike will be cleaned perfectly Thanks to ProGold Biking Wash. Just spray it on and wait 3 minutes and spray it off. That's All !!!

Today's Podium: Me and Kathy who were willing to pedal through a pile of mud!

That’s why I always will have great respect for those who work hard, commit and go forward with full force and passion into the future…

Kathy and Myself: Muddy but happy faces...

Congrats to all who dared and hung in there!

Mrs. B and Mr. P, or Mucha's on the scooter just a day before wedding anniversary!

Of course my life is easier, my bike is faster my body is stronger and my dreams are possible because of all my amazing Sponsors:

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape, Cycleops and New for 2014 - Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!

Until next time!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Xterra Key Biscayne - Virginia Beach Park - Miami, Florida

Xterra Key Biscayne

Distance:  Half Mile Swim / 12 Mile MTB / 4 Mile Trail Run

2nd Overall Women, 1st Age Group

It was beautiful, calm and cool day in paradise...

Equipment used: Huub Axena wetsuit, Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon Comp, From Bike Tech Miami, LG Course Helmet, LG T-Flex 2LS Shoes, LG TR-40 Bag, Magura MT8 Brakes, Syntace Duraflite Carbon handlebars, Syntace FlatForce Stem, Syntace P6 HiFlex Seatpost, Xpedo M-Force 8 Ti, NoTubes Race Gold's, Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Thunder Burt, ESI Grips, Rotor QX1 34t Chainring, Salomon Sense 3 Ultra, Suunto Ambit 2 S, Light and Motion Solite, Kuat NV Bike Rack,
Clif Shot Gels.

Beautiful sunrise

First Xterra of the 2014 season did come in a little early, actually a whole two months earlier than last year.

Besides our bellowed Xterra Miami which we usually have in March but will not be taking place sadly this year.

View from transition

The race was a little longer, more technical and better set up than last year. You can tell this time around it was a true Xterra course on every aspect of it.

So when the rest of the country has “how to get this snow out of my way” mind set, we are ready to have some fun in the sun, while surrounded by sand, palm trees and a beautiful ocean. It kind of cannot get better than that.

Heading to Transition not minding the darkness :-)

Fortunately for me (I like cold!) we had a chilly front passing through and on the dark race morning we noted 49 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was an early start for me and my husband since we live some 1-1.5 hours away, depending of the traffic gods. We woke up at painful 4 am and headed out the door just around 5 am.

Roads were quite empty, however the closer to Miami we got the more crowded it become, plus the detour bonus we got off the turnpike. But we got there eventually and still at a decent time, a little after 6 am. It was cold and dark and our Light & Motion Solite and Taz 1000 we both happily used to bike to the transition area for transition setup.

Getting set up
The views were just beautiful since we were just meters off the beach and could observe changes of the scenery each passing minute.

Just before the start of the swim
But for all of us that showed up today to the race site there was not much time to spare, and I quickly realized how much more complicated racing off road triathlon is comparing to a bike race.

National Anthem

Since tri race season was asleep for quite a few months now I had lots on my mind and felt very overwhelmed and distracted with all the little things and details that go into racing. I triple checked everything until I realized my helmet buckle came undone and almost got lost and we spent half of my warm up time fixing the strap. The moment we finished we were asked to be already on the swim start which was a few minutes of walking away. Therefore I was pulling my beautiful new Huub Axena wetsuit on while marching nervously to the race start. I got to the water quickly and nerves started to disperse just like that. Ocean was calm and at the perfect temperature, just enough to be wetsuit legal. Seeing all friendly faces right by my side made me feel better and I knew I was not alone.

Final picture before the start: Scott, Jonathan, Myself and Frank
Huub in action: Scott and I
Then I got big hug from my husband and I was ready to go. The cool triangle red buoys were set up on the ocean at the last minute and they were pretty far. Also a strong current was pulling from the side which I knew was going to make our swim more difficult. Race director announced 30, 20, 10 seconds to go and we were off.

Swim start

I felt the pull of the water in an instant and everyone was going at a decent speed toward the first buoy. Half way there I looked up and I realized how tiring the swim already was and how far we still had to go to just get to the first turn. I had to back off my pace and settle in.

The first buoy had something that I will call now a “sea lion” guy right under it. Not sure what he was doing there and why he was under the big red triangle but when he got out his big arms and legs started flying right next to me. He stayed by my side for a while and was swinging hard; I got out as quick as possible from this encounter. After that it was me and the ocean, since everyone else was scattered all over and I really didn’t have any close company. The next buoy was far, parallel to the beach, it felt when I looked to the side that we were some 100-150 meters out in the ocean. But by my surprise I could see some 15 feet below beautiful grassy and sometimes sandy bottom, and it kept me calm. We swam now against the current and even though my Huub suit was cutting through the water, the swim still felt very tiring and slower than I would expect. After passing the second buoy I had a female swimmer catching up with me and making a pass, I really wanted to finally find someone to draft off but I couldn’t keep up with her and the bubbles of her feet become more and more faint.

Running to T1

I was too far to get any benefit but at least I used her as a guide to the third and final buoy since she was zipping there in a perfect straight line. I felt thirsty by now and couldn’t wait for the swim to end, still had however a long time to go. I kept my mind occupied with the views underwater and was admiring them to keep myself composed, at some point I noticed a beautiful yellow colored and quite massive star fish at the bottom of the ocean and I think it is going to become the symbol of my swim today. I got to the final turn finally and was dealing with another set of side currents that was accompanying my final stretch to the beach. I didn’t have a clear view of the exit, but remembered a white life guard tower and was heading in this general direction. After all I was not that much off and quickly found myself running on the beach and grabbing the quick release zip and pulling my suit down to my hips.

What was new for me also in this race was the amazingly smart Suuto Ambit 2 multisport watch that I used for the first time. At one click of a button I was able to switch from the swim to bike and then to run modes and thanks to it I have awesome stats and a map for my whole race.

Xterra Key Biscayne Race Stats and Map...

My T1 went well and I was off on the pavement leading to the trails. It was cold now, or at least I could feel the chilly air on every inch of my wet skin. More speed, more wind chill but I didn’t care. Putting gloves on my wet hands while biking is very different than doing it during practice while the whole body is dry… Yeap, it took much longer, but I did it and after that everything was a blur… :)

Now I was in my element, so glad to be on the bike and on the dirt and the speed was only increasing from now on. I loved the course and the trail system, and felt surprisingly good considering I just got out from a 1k ocean swim.  All was good until I got an update that there is a lady a whole 4 minutes ahead of me already on the bike course. Apparently it was Misty Becerra who is an amazing swimmer and swim coach and also a great runner. I didn’t know however at that time who was it I just knew I had lots of work to do from now on. So I pushed, I cruised through the trails like they were my personal roller coaster, I passed full speed one by one a whole galley of riders who were faster than me on the swim.  Thankfully Xterra racers are just plain amazing and when given the right amount of time everyone allowed me to pass quickly and safely with not much fuss. I definitely felt the course and was in a way refreshed, maybe from the cold air and saturated clothing. Toward the end of the first lap I got an update that now I was only two minutes back. That gave me even more inspiration for keeping up with what I was already doing well. Some sections were so much fun and flying at full speed into the narrow and snaky single track was a bliss…

Beginning of the bike

My husband proudly was cheering me on and encouraging to keep pushing and to don’t let go off the gas. I was so focused that I could hardly see or hear anyone or anything, nothing could distract me at that point, and I just somehow knew however that he was right there and right with me throughout this effort.

He told me later on “Beata you were killing the bike”, which was really nice to hear…

Getting some speed on the downhill

Finally some two thirds through the second lap I saw my opponent. I sped up and was hoping to get into the Tom Sawyer trail before her but unfortunately I missed it by just seconds. So I stayed back and the moment we came out on the open double track I made my pass and took off at full speed. Too bad during the Xterra we were missing this sweet speaker system with loud music on that we had during the bike race just a week back. But there was some work to be done still and I knew I was going to have a tough run ahead. I tried to make up as much time on the bike as I could. When the trail system spilled me out on the final half a mile of the pavement that was leading back to the transition I was now a full minute away. I knew it was not a lot but it definitely felt good to reach T2 as the race leader.

I'm flying now!

I dropped off my lovely bike Sollie, unsnapped with a breeze my New LG biking shoes with a pop out boa system (which worked out beautifully for transitioning purposes) and got into my new Salomon Sense 3 ultra shoes that I just received a few days ago and couldn’t wait to try them on in a race. I took off quickly, instantly reaching the soft beach sand. This year however my feet stayed so much lighter and quicker to what I felt the previous year. It was not easy by any means but so much better. It seemed also that I always had some company during the run which is always helpful. Just minutes into the run we reached the first water crossing that was maybe 2.5 feet deep. Not good enough for swimming but too deep to run it. So I waded through it while trying to avoid tree roots hiding underwater.

My shoes just seconds later were light like a feather again when we got out of the water on the gravel path of the historic park. This is where I think now Misty was only 30 seconds back. I was running the best I could but apparently my best was most likely not going to be enough today. I suffered, but I didn’t want to give up. I felt like a little sardine that knows that a bigger fish is approaching and it really didn’t feel good. I tried to stay positive and pick up my pace, each time I checked still there was nothing. I wondered that maybe I will be able to get away. I went through the zigzags in the trees and onto the grass, after that crossed the road full of volunteers next to transition. Then again on the grass that was leading us to the second beach sections. But before I got there I heard suddenly those little steps squeaking right behind me in the deep grass. I just got this big lump in my throat knowing I have been caught and just seconds later passed. It was exactly on mile 2.63 of the run, since I made an effort to look down at my Ambit 2 and take a note of that. I thought my speed was really good, but today Misty’s speed was even better. I watched in slow motion her getting away foot by foot further from me. We did together the beach U turn while looking at each other faces but already going in opposite directions. It did hurt since there was nothing I could do at that point. The soft sand was getting to me now and I was approaching another, this time humongous water crossing which we had to swim for a very long time.

Run course...

 By that time I totally lost sight of Misty I swam and swam through the crossing. And by the time I got to the final run section on the beach I was completely tired and knew that she was gone. In the company of a few other runners I ran as quickly as I could to the finish line and was very glad to be finally done.  I was also so glad I had small 50ml Salomon water flask with me on the run since on the 2nd mile there was no water but only Gatorade, it made me quite unhappy but luckily to me I had a little water to sip on in my flask.

Shortly after crossing the finish I found out I placed 2nd overall missing the win by 1.5 minutes.
On the good note however, I was done, I had an awesome race, and my husband was waiting for me at the finish line. Friends and fellow racers started to congregate and share stories. Now there was time to reflect and enjoy what we all accomplished.

At the finish line...

My only complaint from the whole race would be the missing water on the water station on mile two. Also some of the sections of the trail system during the bike and run were not taped off or marked properly and/or had a volunteer there to direct people. Because of that there was probably a good amount of people that didn’t bike a section of .4 miles and their run was shorter by a good distance as well. This didn’t affect me in any way thankfully and mostly applied to the guy’s field but to be honest for someone to fly down here to Florida from up north, and compete for series points and standings and lose only because the course was not properly taped or marked, is just not right.

But besides that I really loved this race, the course and the whole experience. Also I’m very happy with my performance during this first race of the season.

Overall Podium of Ladies

I loved how I rode my bike and how I had the fastest bike split by a whole 5 minutes. All I can say is that I have such a joy of riding and racing my bike that I can’t even describe. Something that started out as a already great Specialized Carbon Comp bike after all the ridiculous components added to it, it becomes a light, fast and ultimate racing machine that I just can’t get enough of.

My swim and run was pretty good also and gave me an idea where I stand fitness wise. It was a great test and I can’t wait for future races.

Misty, Me and Michele
South Floridian Xterra fanatics - Scott, Jonathan, B, James.

Xterra racing is so amazingly complex, from all the different racers, with their preferences, skill sets, abilities, backgrounds. You never know what course is going to suit who and can only wonder of the race outcome. We all got here from different sport disciplines, some of us are swimmers, some bikers, and some well ex table tennis players like myself. But maybe this complexity makes it so much more interesting and more appealing to all of us. After all we keep signing up for the next race again and again and just can’t get enough of the off road racing. There is in South Florida such an amazing group of people who commit their all free and not so free time to triathlon training and racing. And while it is a tough cookie to bite on and requires a lot of work and self-discipline, we do it and we do it with gratitude and smile on our face…

Cynthia finished her first Xterra and LOVED It !!!

Big thanks to my husband Pax. Once again awesome pictures and even more amazing support!

Also I wanted to thank everyone who took their time to read my blog two weeks back when I was full of doubt and to write to me all kind words full of encouragement. I just wanted to say thank you, it is very appreciated and I think I can say safely now - I'm back.

I feel like I'm racing to my potential once again and am enjoying the ride!

Of course my life is easier, my bike is faster my body is stronger and my dreams are possible because of all my amazing Sponsors:

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape and New for 2014 - Specialized, Salomon, Suunto, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!

Until next time!

Monday, February 10, 2014

South Florida/Coconut Cup Series # 6, Virginia Key Trails - Miami, Florida

Women Pro/Expert - 3rd Place

Great race!

For the first time we raced here a year ago and the race was a total hit.

Naturally I was looking forward coming back to Key Biscayne Park for the same experience. I had a great time than and was duking it out with my main competitor for the series Jane and I did great and won after all.

I was wondering however if I would be able to recreate this feeling during our race this time around especially after my last two races not being as good as I would love them to be.

My knee was still bothering me a little but not terribly and I was more rested than before but still very far from total freshness.  I was ready however to have a good time and put some solid work to proof to myself that I have it in me and that I can ride fast...

The weather was perfect; maybe a little on the warm side since the temps were in the 80s and it is the beginning of February! But it looked as it rained a little overnight and it made the trails nicely packed and only slippery in one tiny section, the rest was a blast to ride on…

On the start the race director gave us ladies the opportunity to vote on how many laps we wanted to ride.

Recently we are racing three laps but since those laps were a little shorter than usual we had a choice. I voted for four, since I think the endurance ride suits me more than a sprint and also I am going to race here on the same track in an off road triathlon just next week. So more was merrier for me even though I knew we were all going to get tortured quite a lot from all those miles!

And the course is not easy and not easy at all when you go hard and even tougher when you go hard for the whole four laps. All the never ending climbs, berms, jet stream like passes and manmade obstacles made the course very taxing. There were no opportunities to relax, especially when what is on the clock matters to you.

When we took off and were about to reach the gate into the trails it was a total chaos, no matter what line you were trying to pick carefully on the pre-ride, in a split second I found out it was not going to happen. We were all over the place, scrambling for position and all the lines were totally lost.

When we finally reached the trail system we were all together. Usually the start is so intense that I will hang there for a short while and with each passing minute keep falling back. But it didn’t happen this time.

I stayed nicely with the ladies in a beautiful parade throughout the whole climb section and into the first slippery, bumpy and more technical trail. Jen was leading and encouraging us to keep on pushing; Duffy was second, than Kathy and Me. The moment we entered the wet section things slowed down a bit. We were wheel to wheel waiting, almost doing a truck trying not to hit each other and were hoping to get out of this section as quick as possible.

It didn't last for that long thankfully until we finally got out to the wide gravel uphill path. Duffy sped up and so did I and I pushed and went to the left to make a pass and jetted into the next trail system.

Throughout this first intense lap I stayed quite close to the leaders and had them in sight most of the time, being only toward the end of the lap some 20 and 30 seconds behind. The riding was so fast and so exhausting that the whole first lap I was completely redlining, and totally by my own choice. I guess I just wanted to feel again this incredible burn in the whole body which tells you that you are definitely living on the edge and giving what you got. And even though I tried to stay as close as I could throughout the race to the other riders, shortly after the first lap my main goal was not to get a heart attack and not puke.  Little later I found out that the latter was exactly what happened to Duffy after the second lap. My face felt like it was burning out from inside out, it was suddenly hot. Thankfully it seemed like everyone had to take a step back of the pace slightly and relaxed on the second lap and throughout the remainder of the race. But only by one minute per 6 mile lap, we still were flying.

Going next to a sick setup with monster speaker’s right in the middle of the forest and having music blasting in our ears when you are wondering how much longer before you pass out didn’t help. It was awesome, and I made sure I had a little energy left to put a smile and say quickly Hi to the volunteers, but the energy there made you go even faster, way faster than you would otherwise!

I thought to myself that this race is like a “heart attack burger”, it is so bad but so good!

So bad because off the intense effort we were putting out there but so good, because we were flying like little stealth bombers and were diving into fast drops and twisty trails at full speed like there was no tomorrow.

It was this huge red ON button that never went away, no matter what trail system you were on. You push on the climbs, push through the turns, and push on the straightaways. No second to slow down, and trust me I had split seconds where your body just goes for a tiny moment to this cozy feeling and it wants to slow down and to feel comfortable and the moment you start to realize how good it feels your brain puts back the red ON button and you make yourself push even harder. It hurts and strips all logic and common sense away! You suffer but also there is so much pleasure with going downhill and into the jump and turn so fast that you barley stay in the trail. All I thought of at those sections was that the feeling made me think I was flying a fighter jet which by the way I always dreamed about flying one day.

You would think I’m a little adrenaline junky, and maybe yes, part of me definitely is, while the other is a little scaredy cat. But somehow this combo works and makes me do what I love to do and keeps me safe.

My second, third and fourth lap stayed very consistent and actually each one was progressively faster.
On the final lap I could see Kathy still not that far in front coming out when I was coming in to a small trail system.

After all I finished 3rd with a minute back to the 2nd and 3.5 to the first which was not bad at all. The most satisfying part of my race was that I allowed myself to take on the challenge, push hard, keep strong, and at the same time absorb the moment, energy  and joy of racing my amazing bike at high speeds.

My husband like usual was cheering for the whole 1:45hrs that we raced and was very happy to see me finally riding the way I should. Like always I was grateful for all the supporting friends and team-mates, race organizers and volunteers!

On the side note of the podium picture ~

It was two years back during the race in Oleta River Park in Miami where I won my race for the first time in the Base Women Class and was so ecstatic. Later on there was also another podium presentation for the Pro/Expert Women that were a whole two classes up and where my friend Jen asked me to go with her just for the fun of it and to keep her company since there were no other ladies to share this podium with her. I was apprehensive but said sure it should not hurt. But the moment I stepped on the box right next to her I felt uncomfortable in an instant and wondered what I was doing there. After getting away as fast as I could I told Jen how bad I felt and that I would never do such a thing again, well unless I race in the same class and actually deserve to be there. I knew that it was close to impossible to make it happen one day but…

But you never know what life has in the cards for you and today, a whole two years later and two whole classes up, after two years of hard training and dedication I was there, for the second time, standing right by her side once more and holding hands just as we did in the past.

This time however I felt like I did belong there...

And the best part of all these races, even if they are muddy or dry, when I am done with the race I can just pick up my favorite ProGold product and make my bike clean again. Whether it be the powerful blast off degreaser for my derailleur or cassette when it really gets dirty or the Pro Towels to make the bike shiny again, I know there is a ProGold product for the job… The best thing I like to do after a race is I hang my bike up and soak it with water then I spray ProGold Bike Wash on the entire bike(Carbon friendly) and wait 5 minutes and then just wash it off. It is as simple as that… Once dry lube the chain with their chain lube and you ready to race another day…

Monster Thank You to my Husband Pax for the incredible pictures today!!!

Of course my life is easier, my bike is faster my body is stronger and my dreams are possible because of all my amazing Sponsors:

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape and New for 2014 - Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!

Until next time!