Thursday, October 30, 2014

XTERRA World Championship - Maui, Hi

XTERRA World Championship – Maui, Hi

From all the strong and talented people from all around the world who qualified for this more then epic race I managed to place 8th in the World in my AG.

Link to some Great photos from our Trip...

Suunto Race Data from the Race...

My "Sub Zero" Stumpjumper almost ready for her first race...

 2014 XTERRA World Championship Highlights

 XTERRA "Happy"



Incredible view from our condo...

Equipment Used: Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper WC from Mack Cycles , We traveled with EVOC Luggage and Bike Case from EVOC USA, Louis Garneau custom Tri Kit, 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, Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Racing Ralph's,  Huub Speedsuit, ESI Grips, Rotor crank, Rotor QX1 28t Chainring, KMC 11DLC Red/Black Chain, Enduro Cermaic Jockey Wheels from EVOC USA, Salomon Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground, Suunto Ambit 3S, Light and Motion Solite, Clif Shot Gels, Oakley Radar Sunglasses with VR28 lenses and Garden of Life nutrition Every Day of my Life... And I used a Pocketfinder that kept track of me so my Husband always knows at all times during the race where I am.

Aloha Hawaii

An opportunity to race in such a prestigious event doesn’t come often and doesn’t come to many.

Being able to go back to this beautiful Island after two years is more than I could have asked for.

I'm coming off pretty much what you can call a perfect season. After all, I qualified for this event on two separate occasions and also was able to claim a title of USAT Off Road National Champion in my Age Group and 2nd Overall and only being second to a 4 time World Amateur Champion. I trained a lot for this moment and felt a few months back quite ready. My biking has been improving consistently and I felt the same just in a smaller amount for swimming and running. However for the remaining of the preparations I was dealing with some running injuries and going in and out of lack of motivation or simply burnt-out. It didn’t matter at this moment where my form was, we were set to go and besides all the setbacks I was still counting on a great result.

On the top of the Ridge

On the other side I knew my competition this year was going to be fierce. I had the top 3 girls from the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship on the way to Maui, including the ITU World Champion, as well as returning XTERRA World Champion from last year. Besides that 30 other amazingly talented and strong ladies from around the globe. This year’s Championships was going to be the most internationally seated in XTERRA history. It showed in the number of participants and the outstanding results.

Just little bit later...

The course changed and was very different to what I experienced in 2012, especially the initial 3 and final 5 miles. The course was longer and more demanding, the climbing required was brutal, steep, never ending; more than someone who trains in a flat environment like Florida can comprehend.

On the famous Plunge

Weather was beautiful upon our arrival and seemed quite nice on the first day when we headed out the door to pre-ride the course. Unfortunately just minutes into the ride we had some rain clouds surrounding the mountain and it started to drizzle at first. The trail right from the start was heading upwards on a steep angle very quickly becoming muddy and slick. With passing miles conditions were getting only worst and by the time we were in the higher mountains trying to climb the steepest grade it was down pouring. The brutal slope turned to a muddy river and everyone now was just pushing their bikes up and searching for traction. On the beautiful ridge, the ocean below was hardly visible and from all the rain my camcorder simply died. We continued but the downhill section of the course after reaching the top of the mountain for the second time was so muddy that our bikes were all clogged with red clay.

Jonathan in mud slide

We were skidding downwards for the longest time and clumps of dirt were hitting the bike frames and our faces. This was the most dirt I ever had on my bike up to date. Half way through the plunge race officials rerouted everyone to the highway below where we were all heading home covered in mud and our bikes were all clicking and were completely trashed. Riders were stopping on the side of the road and were washing themselves and their bikes in the runaway water… I wish everyone knew about ProGold products like I did to get their bike back in racing form.

Caveman is here!

We ended up seeing only parts of the race course. Not exactly the practice ride I would expect.

On the next day I decided to get out and check some sections that I missed before. Now the trails were in much better shape and the course was drying out nicely. I felt pretty happy after this ride especially that I was able to share it partially with Shonny Vanlandingham on the way up and follow the wheels of Conrad Stoltz himself for quite some time on the final miles. It was definitely a treat. I also stumbled upon my Floridian friend Brook who was just lying under a tree and relaxing while awaiting for her girlfriend Tammy. We spent a few minutes on the course just catching up.

I and Brook

Later on we had some good time practicing the swim and getting in and out of the surf. The waves as the weekend approached started to pick up. I got tumbled a few times in the shorebreak and I was hoping that it would not be a big factor for the race.

Gorgeous Molokai in the background

Getting smashed on the swim practice

Days went by and my stress level intensified. I was not very concerned of the bike, however I knew that it will be a long road full of pain no matter how ready I felt. The run also was going to be extremely challenging and will hurt tons but my worries were laying mostly in the swim. Three days out I felt the pressure and with the following days it only elevated. The night before when looking from our balcony at the amazing blue waves smashing into the rocks and creating outstanding white exploding events I started getting nervous. This totally overwhelmed my mind.

Angry Ocean and Preserve

Besides the fact that we had a wonderful and fun dinner with our new and kind friend Hana and a couple of her very interesting and positive friends I still couldn’t get my head completely clear. Therefore my night before the race was pretty much sleepless. I kept hearing the sound of the ocean and the waves beating on the cliff edge. I kept getting up and never got a solid sleep. I felt that in the morning when staring at my breakfast bowl and I was so hungry but couldn’t eat. I guess that was the beginning of the troublesome day…


I biked to the transition from the condo. The morning was beautiful. The bike course was all dry and tacky, the sun was fully on, and the ocean was super charged.

Grayson and I before race start

824 competitors from around the World started filling out the massive transition area on the Ritz property. You could feel in the air the anticipation and excitement. I set my transition pretty early, did a small warm up and was waiting for the race start.

How far is that buoy???

On the short practice in the water I was grabbed by a wave and trashed on the ground. My neck started to hurt. I decided to get out and wait for the race start on the water’s edge. All competitors were aligned now and all the Pro and Amateur competitors were all mixed up together. But the Pro start was about to go off in just a minute or two before everyone else.

To the left of me

To the right of me
The gun went off and the waves were pushing back so hard and were so big that it seemed that racers were not getting anywhere. Now all men went off, the same thing happened. Women were going next.

The heart is racing now, mouth is dry, I’m surrounded by hundreds of women and the yellow buoys are so far away... There is no backing away now. The gun went off!

Men start, yep some decisions here had to be made...

We ran, jumped, dolphin hopped, got hit by huge waves, goggles got filled with water again and again. I had to fix them while running into the next massive wave and jump over it or under it. The start itself was a battle and already exhausting. But it got even more difficult. There was so many of us, the water was extremely choppy, with wind from the NE, the current was strong and there were also big waves that would not allow us to see buoys at all times. The further we got the deeper it was but also the cleared was the water. For a long time I could see far far below in the dark blue ocean the sandy bottom. But the first buoy was a whole 400m away far into the ocean. It started to get darker and darker again. The chop was coming from the right on an angle and it was difficult to get a breath.

First lap return

It was a power swim that required much more work and energy than a regular calm pool swimming. Here we were fighting a number of elements, from hundreds of competitors, to current, to waves, to chop, to get a breath in, to sighting for a buoy and swim in the right direction. At some point I had to refocus my mind from this chaos and started to look at things at the bottom. Once in a while I could see tiny, almost what seemed like pea size phosphorescent blue light, I saw it again and again in different spots. Still not sure what it was but it gave me a little distraction. I finally approached the first yellow buoy. Oh I was so far in the middle of the ocean and I was trying to stay calm knowing there will be a lot of racers in this corner trying to make a turn. Only thing that cheered me up was that deep-deep below us a camera guy was looking straight up at us. I gave him a small wave. After that it was a long and brutal swim toward the shore.

Going in for second lap

It was a very long way to go and now chop was even worse and was hitting us from the back left. The ocean got crazy. I somehow managed to aim just right toward the exit and did a short beach run. Man was I tired, and I had to jump in those big waves again and try to battle them once more, I was very apprehensive now. I know the 2nd buoy is a little bit closer, some 350 meters. But on this side there was even more chop. This swim was nuts. It took way longer than I expected to get out to the buoy, now I was just trying to stay calm and not to freak out while fighting the huge waves in the middle of the ocean and people grabbing and pulling on my legs. Seriously I really didn’t need this right now. But I found my rhythm somehow once again.

We were getting beat now and the trashing waves and the constant fight to grab a gasp for air was not only exhausting but disorienting. I started to get woozy from all this commotion. Once in a while I would say to myself that it’s ok I’m not dizzy, there is still ground there far away and I put my focus on the big trees far far on the horizon to recalibrate my brain on something that doesn’t constantly move. I kept doing it and kept fighting, I wanted to get to the shore so badly now. It was a long journey and it didn’t come easy but eventually I got to the ocean’s edge and got out of the water. I was surprised how tired I felt and the run to the transition was simply tough. I was happy however I made it to the shore.

On my way to T1

I sat down quickly in transition and put my shoes on and grabbed the rest of my gear. Some girls from my group were there with me and we rushed to the mounting line. So many people were getting out on the course now men and women. On the first concrete section I cranked it up. It was time to start the passing journey.

In an instant I was going by so many fellow racers but very quickly we turned left into the single-track. It was narrow with small trees and tall grass to both sides, it had smooth but a substantial grade right from the start. I had to figure out quickly my passing tactic and it was just enough space with cooperation of others to start working my way up. I lost tons of time on the swim, sadly way more than I was anticipating. With a good starting point or not I was on my journey to the top of the West Maui Mountains. It was hot now and humid, the heart rate in an instant went up and it would not back down for a good 8 miles. I had a whole group of riders heading slowly upwards. I kept making my passes one by one and sometimes going by a few people at a time, I passed 10, 30, 40, too many to count. This kept on continuing throughout the race and besides the fact that it was already extremely exhausting and taxing the bottle neck situations started taking place. At some rooty or more challenging or steeper spots people would simply get off their bikes; problem was there was so many of us all in one spot and everyone was scattered all over the trail that it was impossible to pass. I was frustrated when I had to get off and still couldn’t get by, bikes were simply everywhere. It did cost me a lot of lost time but I still was doing a great job going by riders on my way to the top.

Bike return

Some racers recognized me and cheered me on which was really cool. Miles were passing by slowly however. I remember me and another rider were headed downwards just for few small seconds and approached another racer. We asked for a pass but unfortunately he just panicked, turned left, than right to eventually crash in the middle of the path blocking us both from progressing. Thankfully he was fine but definitely caused unnecessary and easily avoidable accident if he only knew better a passing etiquette. Finally I was getting to the steep section before the Ridge. I was able to ride it almost entirely to the top except only the last steepest part. This is the place where the only girl in the whole bike leg of the race passed me today. She was trying to keep on biking and eventually got off and tried to mount her bike again and again while in front of me now. By the name on the outfit I knew it was Muller one of the strongest girls today in my class who was charging for the World Championship win. It was a bummer since I knew there were already a few other girls in front who got out of the water before me. I did catch some of them but not all. All I could do was just to keep on moving as fast as I could.

I continued, after a technical little section where some people were falling and blocking the path I got to the first feed zone.

Shortly after we flew down for a short while to turn quickly back up. This climb the second time around was even more brutal. It seemed like a whole day we were just leaning forward and spinning the wheels, while the body was exposed to the heat and constant pain. This course definitely didn’t suit me and I just wish the riding was more technical and less of the pure climbing. I was getting tired now and had to keep convincing myself to keep pushing. The red long climb was about to end. Thankfully I passed more people on my way to the top and was almost all in the clear on the ride down. In the bumpy switchbacks I got a little caught up with a guy but later on in the lower sections of the plunge I was happily on my own and I felt like I was flying. It was fun riding down so fast for so long, but my bike was jumping on this uneven ground like an angry donkey, my forearms started cramping slightly and so did my calves. I was holding on as tight as I could on this almost never ending descent.

I got my share of the climbing goodness

Shortly I approached sections that I didn’t have a chance to see on the pre-ride and they were also fast and very rocky. It definitely added an extra element of excitement and concern not knowing what is coming up next. Finally I got to the next feed zone but apparently they were out of water. Thankfully I still had a tiny bit left in the bottle from before and also in my camelback. On mile 13 we approached a second muddy and stinky section which turned to another never ending climb. I was hoping it would be a short pitch but it kept going forever. I was getting really fed up now and staying motivated was difficult. This climb went on for another mile and culminated in the pine forest. This is where finally we all could take a breather and were in the shade of tall pine trees and descending into the single track at very fast speeds. Now we are talking. I felt instant relief and actual joy of riding a bike. This was my most favorite part of the whole course.

And even though I had a lot of freedom, here at some point I got caught up with the girl that kept going back and forth with me for quite a while. She was faster on climbs and I was faster on descents. It was frustrating at least since I really couldn’t pass her on short climbs while I was stuck behind on the fun and fast descents. It took a long time but finally I was able to go by and ride my own pace. I think I had a really good bike leg in this race and I was happy with my performance and my progression. But I was really tired now and my brain could really not take the smallest thought of an additional climb. Thankfully there were not that many of them left. So while trying to enjoy and ride as smooth as possible the final miles I forgot to grab my gel and didn’t feel like I needed to drink any more or I simply forgot it too. The trail exit approached now quickly and I got spilled on the concrete return and through the dark tunnel. I was approaching quickly the dismount line and the transition.

The announcer called out my name when I was running into T2. I grabbed quickly my running gear and the number. When I ran out upwards toward the street I noticed a few things. First of all I was many minutes back to at least five if not more racers, secondly I felt faint hearted and really very weak right from the start. Also my Salomon flask that was laying in the full sun for hours was so hot that I barley could hold it in my hand without getting burnt. I was flipping it from one hand to the other. Soon I started padding my belt for a Clif gel that I attached there but for some reasons I couldn’t find it. I must have lost it somewhere.  And this is where things started to seriously fall apart badly for me.

I hardly could run, I was hot, hungry, and weak. I felt lightheaded and I was just starting my 3 mile climb.

Run start, already not feeling elevated

The run was slow and simply awful. I had to default to a walk quite a few times on the steep sections.

Now I was getting passed and could not do anything about it. On mile two or so I got passed by one lady from my group, she had good pace and I was hopeless. I needed nutrition now badly and grabbed whatever was there at the feed zone. It was a gross to me flavor and consistency but I needed some calories in my weak body. I had just tiny sips and felt slightly better for a moment. Until my whole abdomen area started cramping profusely. First I thought it was from the unknown gel, than that maybe those were stiches, really on both sides but way more intense on the right. I figured I will suffer through it, somehow get to the top of the climb and then when trail head downwards things will improve.

I remember a woman standing near the lake and yelling to us “come on you have only five more minutes of this misery and you will be on top”. No matter how much twisting and turning I did, my condition was deteriorating, my hamstrings now were all cramped up also and back started to hurt. I reached the top and started heading downwards and was full of hope. It was not fast but I was progressing, and the pain was everywhere. When I approached the first of my favorite single track run sections I could not enjoy it in a way I did two years ago. It was sad in a way. My universe was made of pain. Things kept slowing down for me minute by minute and I felt like I was falling apart. The final two miles when I got to the road climb were so awful, the heat and weakness of my body was preventing me from running it up, I tried and tried again and not much was happening. Finally I go to the narrow open to the sun ridge with the beautiful ocean view below for a long and in normal circumstances enjoyable descent. Here is where I got the worst pain, so bad to the point that I had to keep breaking every step to slow down more and more because my whole abdomen hurt with each step that I hardly could take a full breath. My body was giving up on me and I never been more hurt, humbled and miserable in my life.

I didn’t know how I was going to make it to the end. I was almost tip toeing down the hill instead of running, I refused to walk however and I didn’t want to stop. I simply was trying to keep moving forward, even if it was at a 10-13 min mile pace and I was trying not seriously to harm myself, so I knew I could not speed up even if I wanted to. It was such an agony…

I reached the street now full of people, dipped to the stream crossing, struggled through the narrow path full of branches and obstacles and was spilled on to the beach. I was going so slowly now and the pain was very intense. I knew I needed to just keep moving forward. I looked back a few times and to my surprise there was no other women approaching from behind. With my terrible run I was afraid I was going to lose more spots but apparently I made a big enough gap on the bike to not be in direct danger now. I wish I could reach the finish like I did two years ago full of accomplishment and joy. This time I crossed it physically and mentally empty with a short faint smile on my face. Just a few steps in I collapsed on the grass. I never had race like this before, when I suffered so much and my body would not be cooperating with me at all.

Made it to the finish!

I was assisted instantly to the Medical tent. I was overheated and dehydrated and short on breath. I was administered my first ever IV bag while I was laying there struggling to relax and breath under coats of cold wet towels. I didn’t see my husband Pax yet but after time he showed up in front of me (thx to my Pocketfinder he knew where to find me) and I was so glad to see him.

Those so special Lei flowers would make anyone happy

And this is where the tears just poured out of my eyes and my chest got even tighter. I hardly could breathe and I could not look at him since I was getting so emotional each time I did but knowing he was by my side made me feel just safe, I was not alone, I was going to be fine…
In Med Tent

All I could think of was my family, my father, mom and sister back in Poland and how much I missed them and how important they were to me.

Later on when I looked around there were so many other people getting help as well. To my knowledge this year 10% of the race field ended up getting medical help as I did. To my left was Hanna Rae, two time amateur overall world champion and later on my Floridian friend Misty just to my right. When I saw her and the condition she was in and her pale lips and shaking just like my body I started tearing again. What a terrifying, emotional, scary experience…

It took two IV bags, a full hour, loads of cold and hot towels to get my trembling body and white fingers and my breathing back to some normal numbers, while my husband was hand feeding me with fresh fruits and water. Somehow I got the courage to finally stand up.

Thankfully with passing hours, a long shower where I was just too tired to stand and some bed time I got better and started recovering.

We joined the beautiful dinner and the Awards Ceremony. It was not my night to walk up the stage but rather to observe amazing achievements of others that had a better day than myself. The XTERRA crew did a tremendous job with organizing this huge and special event, keeping us busy, making it super fun and it was really touching…

At Award Ceremony

The volunteers during the race were outstanding and Medical tent personnel more than incredible.

My jump!

It was sad to know that it was the last day and everyone was going to head in different directions to their normal lives.

But the next two days even though I still didn’t feel great and completely as myself I finally could relax.

I didn’t enjoy myself for the whole trip as I did in those final days. All the anticipation and stress was gone now. There was nothing more to worry about and just time to enjoy ourselves.

Time to reflect... With my Pax on the cliff...

So we did just that… We took long walks on the beach and preserve which is so beautiful and serene and the scenery is quite unreal there. We did some cliff jumping with our roommates and friends and truly had a blast. It was really fun. It was amazing to see the incredible life in the ocean below with all the tropical fish swimming around us. We also did some jeeping as my friend Grayson calls it or simply took a mini road trip around the Kapalua area to some scenic locations.

Jeeping with Karley and the crew

We had breakfast at the Gazebo which overlooks full of rainbows that morning the gorgeous Napoli beach which is always a treat and this is quite a sure place to spot giant tortoises. Walking on the cliffs while monster waves are crashing into volcanic rocks and the sun is setting below the horizon makes you realize how every day and evening is different and very precious. Before departing we took a nice ride up the Haleakala Volcano which I didn’t get to see two years ago. We all were not disappointed, since the ride was thrilling and views on the top very spectacular. We emerged above the clouds in 50 degree weather and unearthy scenery. Beautiful ending to very spectacular trip.

Above clouds on top of Haleakala Volcano

Maui is simply gorgeous… And the views that we woke up to every morning and I could sip my tea to on the balcony are going to be stuck in my mind for very long time…

Haleakala Crater in the background

It’s sad to have to leave this truly beautiful island but I’m glad I had an opportunity to share a moment in the paradise of the Hawaii islands with so many amazing people…

I didn’t have the exact race I was hoping for. I didn’t feel the course was fitting my skillset the way I would prefer it too. I believe a true mountain biking and technical course with a more reasonable amount of climbing would be more of a fair game for the true XTERRA Championship Race that would suit and bring to the top real off road champions. But I had an experience to remember and learn from.

Feeling energized again

Placing 8th in the World in my Age Group I will keep in my heart as a success even though I really wished I did even better. I had the 3rd best bike split in my group and I’m quite happy with it. I know I’m capable of more but this is what my body and day had for me this time around.  I did everything I could and more and had to reach deep inside my soul to find strength to fight the most exhausting and testing race of my life and still finish with a good result.

I’m proud I didn’t give up in the toughest moments and fought my way through all the way to the finish…

The preparations that go to something like this are endless and drag on for months and years. It takes a toll on your own mind and body but also on those around you. Also it takes more than an army of kind and compassionate people to turn one person’s dream to reality.

This blog would not be complete without a mention of my husband Pax. He committed all of his time and energy to let me do just that… chase my passions and bring those dreams to life. I could not thank him enough for his sacrifice and long work days and even work weekends to support my quest. From building my bike up from scratch, to being part of my trainings, to chasing me with his camera around the race course… His commitment is simply endless and I could not have asked anyone to do that much for me. But he does just that and more, every morning, every race, again and again. And I could not be more grateful… Thank you Mucha…

Also I wanted to thank my family, all my friends, fellow racers and people at work who all believed in me and thought of me and followed my journey…  I could feel this energy and loved sharing my experience…

And yes, I do work full time and have only 3.5 days to train per week, I spend another 3.5 at a desk job 13 hours a day and am dreaming of being able to race one day full time. It’s amazing to see those fortunate athletes who are able to commit all their time to training and racing and reach their potential. Without time constrains there are no limits. I would love to be able one day to have this type of opportunity and see where that would take me…

Last but not least, Thank you to my Support:


I can’t thank enough all my Supporters who in all different ways contributed to my journey and allowed me to have a race as good as I could and played a huge part in all my success this very strong and special to me season...

I spent countless hours on my CycleOps trainer with TrainerRoad programs at home, swam millions of laps in our pool and on put zillions of steps on the trail while running. You want something so badly that you work with your hair dresser to make your hair not only beautiful but also make an attempt to drop some extra grams. Thank you Gerri! :) You live and breathe this event long before it comes.

I did my best to be very prepared with all my incredible gear. I felt I had the fastest bike on the planet (Thanks to Mack Cycles and Specialized) and knowing that I had the best bike and components I could dream of made me feel almost carefree and gave me an awesome bike split.


We always have in the back of our heads a worry that something other than us will fail but I tried not to think about it and believed in this creation we build. Instead I loved everything that went into my bike and had a chance to play around with and switch my incredible Q-rings from Rotor after the pre-ride to those that I felt were more suitable. My gorgeous black and red KMC chain handled the biggest rigors one can put a chain through with steep climbs, constant shifting and a muddy mess on the pre-ride which got cleaned perfectly by ProGold Products. The Rotor cranks, Xpedo pedals, Syntace handlebars and stem and ESI grips were great…


The list just goes on. I loved everything very much. The Syntace P6 seatpost on my hardtail did wonders and the ultra-light and stealthy Selle Italia SLR saddle was just incredible. The sweet MT8s brakes kept me always in control on those steep and never ending descents. Also my Huub speedsuit and my Louis Garneau outfit and Salomon shoes performed so good in those rough conditions. My eyes were shielded from the sun and the harmful UV rays Thanks to my Oakley’s as well.

A Huge Thanks to Schwalbe for sending me the best tires on the market time and without these tires I wouldn’t have been able to take those turns so fast and the climbs without spinning out. Surprising me my new Hawk Racing Bottom Bracket didn’t need cleaning after that mudbath on Wednesday and is still spinning smoothly as ever and the new Enduro Ceramic Jockey Wheels for my rear derailleur for which EVOC USA shipped me directly to my Condo in Maui.

I am sorry Kuat – but I did not need the best rack for my car this time as I could not drive to this location :)

Clif gels and drinks are my favorite and only race nutrition and are always onboard and on my bike no matter where racing takes me and this time was no different. Garden of Life also keeps me supplied with the vitamins and nutrients I need whenever I train or race. And TrainerRoad has a massive library workout plans that I use with my Cycleops Powerbeam trainer. KT Tape kept me wrapped up during the race for my many injuries – I Thank You for that!!!

And all the action had been captured on my Sunnto Ambit 3 watch which is sweet and really really blue.

My husband was able to track me at all times with my PocketFinder GPS tracker on his phone and knew where I was at all times with detailed maps and history.

XTERRA Ambassadors at Ritz

Lastly thank you to XTERRA because without XTERRA we would not be training our minds and bodies the way we are or travel to such an amazing destinations.  For me this sport is a lifestyle and an amazing getaway.  It is an inspiration to keep pushing, improving, pursuing and challenging myself in this colorful journey.

All of it seems like a complicated lot, but when put skillfully together it creates such a harmonious existence and turns to actually a very simple, fun and basics of what off road racing is about…

On the end it is just you and the trail, and life is very simple and beautiful…

Aloha and until next time!

Link to some Great photos from our Trip... 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Specialized Florida State Championship Series # 3 - Alafia State Park- Lithia, FL

FSC # 3 Alafia

2nd Place - Pro/Expert Women

Simply, I LOVE RIDING MY BIKE and I'm happy it showed today in this great result while flying it on my favorite course...

And yes bikes do know how to fly, you just have to know how to convince them to do so... :-)

Ladies Podium

My favorite race for sure finally is here. Whole year of waiting to arrive once again in this beautiful and always kind to me park. The trails here are just so perfect, they represent everything mountain biking in Florida is about. They have flow to the awesomely technical single track, with many man made bridges crossing the green swamps, steep hills of Magic Island and narrow passages on the edge of the water. Very fun, challenging and joyful place to ride a bike.


Besides all the not so great weather predictions a few days back we got the most dream like weather showing up just for the race day. It drizzled a little the day before making some sections soggy and soft but overall trails were in really great shape. Overnight, the unusual for this time of the year, a cold front rolled in and we woke up to amazing 56 degree weather. Nice! In Florida it’s winter in the middle of summer, I could not be happier. And the trails, oh they were sweet too and in just perfect condition for the race.

First descent after the start...

Early on in the race...

It was cool on the warm up and a lot of riders chose to bundle up in some extra layers but I just decided to enjoy the unusual for us cold air. It was bright, sunny, fresh, just the perfect and beautiful morning and I was ready. I felt like I had some making up to do for a disappointing performance in a way in the last week’s race. Not only to myself but also to those who always root for me and believe in me and make my racing even more meaningful. I was hoping for a great turnout for the Pro/Expert ladies here just like last year but we had our regular set of girls on the starting line. Lots of new riders joined it seemed the Sport and Beginner Women classes. I love when the field is filled with fast ladies, it makes the whole race so much more interesting. But one way or the other I had a big task on my hand.

View from beautiful and challenging Magic Island

Magic Island it's a series of rolling climbs and switchbacks high up on the steep edge...

Dave from Goneriding announced quickly 5 seconds to start, so we didn’t have much time to hang around there for too long and let our minds wonder.

Coming out to the first grassy flat
Just seconds later I'm ready for my pass


We were off and the short stretch on the grass was all we got to get organized to get right away into the sweet single track. Even though I had good start I didn’t manage to get in the position I wanted and ended up going to the first rocky downhill in 4th. It was all good since I was right on the wheel of the 3rd girl at all times and the 2nd was in my plain of view also. So I hung in there through the first fun and technical sections until I got my chance on the first green opening to go by and settle in 3rd. I was feeling good today and really loved the trails, it’s often very difficult to enjoy the riding during the race because of all the suffering that goes on at the same time. But I think I managed actually to do so and had a blast. It didn’t take long for me to catch up to the 2nd girl. When we went by all the narrow tracks of the edge of the water and approached the hills of the Magic Island I was already on her wheel. Since this section is really demanding, narrow and could be dangerous I obviously was going to stay there for a while. Later on the trails were still very narrow also with lots or roots and water to the right. Another very technical section was ahead the Shelly’s Loop which was named after Super-Fast Shelly sitting now in first place somewhere ahead.

After around the 3.5 mile mark in before heading to the Roller Coaster trail I was already scrubbing the tire of the 2nd rider and was more than ready to pass. The trail however here would not allow me for the safe passing without further cooperation which I knew was not going to happen. So I had to hang in there for the next 2.5 miles and wait for my opportunity to finally make the move. The end of the lap was approaching and we cleared all the up on the cliff riding and got spilled onto the grass.

Near the end of the first lap

It was a good time to have my Clif gel

Seemed like we both accelerated, we went around the turn and bike wash and I tried one more time and get to speed to make my pass. It was successful and I was sitting now in the 2nd place while riding through the shoot going into the second lap. Spending that time however on passing meant I was not going to get a chance to reach for the bottle, the single track was right there and the 3rd girl was right on my tail. It was a really dry lap if you ask me and I was already all sweetened up for the Clif gel that I ate just before it. Oh well, no one said that bike racing is a stroll through a field of flowers… :)

I felt good leading now in the trail system and being able to ride in my own pace. I felt smooth today and really full of joy, especially now when it was just me and the path.

On my own in 2nd place
Small drop while on my final lap


I was trying to absorb the moment and ride fast, smart and still enjoy this journey. Everything was falling into place and I was making a good time slowly getting away. The first rider was at least a full couple minutes in front but this didn’t matter at this time as long as I was riding true to myself. I was waiting long time to have a race when everything, all the pieces fell into place and simply create this harmonious entity. The hills for the second time around definitely felt not as good as on the first lap but this was to be expected. I had a good time throughout and went once again thought the shoot into the 3rd lap. I knew by now Shelly was over 2 minutes ahead and that I had a pretty good cushion on the 3rd rider. I was not going to change much and just keep floating through this beautiful course.

Crossing the Finish
And the race is over

Once again I had fabulous time on the track and was able to clear everything without anything unwanted happening. I still felt good and by the pace of some guys passing me and not getting away by that much I assumed I was riding pretty well. What was great during this race was the almost 5 minute buffer placed between Expert ladies and Cat 2 Classes of guys behind. This helped a ton since we didn't have much of congested traffic and instead nicely spread small groups of riders here and there which were easily managed as far as passing goes. Hope we can keep this format for the rest of the series.

Time to celebrate...
And time to reflect...

I ran through my mind section by section that still I had to clear and kept checking them off one by one. The lap went by it seemed in blink of the eye and I arrived at the finish with a nice gap of 3 minutes and also full 3 minutes back to the really fast Shelly who got 1st today once again.

I could not be more grateful for this beautiful and pretty much perfect weekend and perfect race.

Austin from Goneriding and I

All forces collided and turned this day to the race to remember. I loved so much all the encouragement and cheering all around me, this definitely fueled me and assured me that good things were here to come. Like usuall we had some ninjas with cameras throughout the course starting with my husband Pax who always eis my greatest support, to Mickey and Christie. I had enough energy today to make sure I say Hi to everyone during my race, after all they commit their time and effort to be here for us.

Thank you to my Pax and all my amazing support for taking part in this beautiful day!

Big Thanks goes to: 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 - Mack Cycles, Oakley, Pocketfinder, Hawk Racing, Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains and Rotor Bike Components!

Until next time!