10 May 2009

Pua Comes to Town

After about a year's worth of sweet talking, Pua Sawicki - that's right, the Pua Sawicki - and her husband/mechanic/manager Ron will be gracing our presence at the Mountain Bike Depot this coming Wednesday, May 13th, at 6:00pm.

They will be talking, answering questions, and telling some of their mythical pro secrets! We're super excited, and you should be, too! We'll be talking bikes, nutrition, riding, racing, training, and everything in between.Pua just won the Women's Pro Class of Dirt, Sweat, & Gears this past Saturday, which is yet another tremendous accomplishment to add to her already long list. She has won several national titles in endurance racing, a top 10 finish at worlds in 2008, and is now bursting to the front of the XC packs - including a 6th place finish at Sea Otter and a win at Sagebrush Safari! For a more complete palmares, check out her website here: Team Mata. The duo is an excellent resource to both seasoned and up-and-coming riders; Pua even runs her own juniors program. This is really an invaluable opportunity for all cyclists - not just those who play in the dirt!

The clinic is free and open to the public, and we'll have some cool schwag! If you've not been out to the shop yet, we're located in the Westport Village shopping center at:

1321 Herr Lane, Suite 180

Louisville, KY 40222


We look forward to seeing you!

08 May 2009

Blue Lion Mental Clarity Ride

Following the last post, one would think that my last weekend was just complete bust. With pulling out of one of my favourite races of the year, and skipping the crit on Sunday, you would think I would be in a cloud of frustration. Not so says the Aaron, not so.

I love dirt roads. That is no secret to anyone about me. Here in Louisville, I don't get to indulge in the un-pave nearly at all, so when I got the chance, I took it. From my driveway to the nearest dirt road is only 3 miles, so when I decided not to race Sunday, that was exactly where I headed. I have a loop that criss-crosses the area, with my own Sectors of dirt. They all have their own personalities and attributes, just like the cobbled Spring Classics. One section is billard table flat, yet rough as can be, while another has a super short 14% rise. Some are curvy, some have deep ruts, some have so much loose gravel and dirt that you just float through it. Its a beautiful feeling to churn along in a big gear across these neglected roads, dust flying, in a constant mix of sliding, forward motion, rearward motion, or just falling over. I've crashed more on these roads than anywhere else. I have scars to prove it.

Halfway into the ride, I make my way to my favourite little cafe to have a Jones Root Beer and a cookie. Its a little cafe called The Blue Lion. Now, I love the lions. Not the football team, but more the lions that rear up on old family crests, the Lion of Flanders, and the Kayrouz lion here in Louisville. Not sure why, but to me it is a very welcoming sign.

I knew when I discovered the Blue Lion, I had found something special. I was on a 7 hr training ride last spring before I moved to Louisville, and it had done everything from rain and snow on me, to nearly blowing me off the road with wind. I was pretty familiar with the town, and had always seen the Lion advertised, but never knew where it was. Its off of main street, and in the bottom of an antique store. You are greeted with the above sign, but more importantly greeted at the door with this friendly fellow:
It was pretty cold, and I really needed some food and coffee. You never know what to expect with a cafe; sometimes it is literally coffee and a few cookies. Other times, such as the Blue Lion, you get a full menu of deliciousness. Sandwiches, cookies, scones, soups, salads, pie, cakes, pastries, oh, and great coffee. I was definitely in the right place. So, I shed all my layers, and clacked my way up to the counter. A few minutes later, I sat down with a bowl of Curry soup, some excellent sourdough toast, and a triple Americano to help warm me up. That memory stays with me, as it was a happy blurb in a not so happy time.

This stop was on much better terms, and I knew exactly what to expect. It was a nice day, and just stopping in brought back memories from all the nasty days that the Lion had saved me from. So, cookie and Jones Root Beer down, and I'm off again. Well, almost. The deal sealer for me from my first trip was on my exit, I noticed the burnt red bricks under my feet as I stepped towards my bike. It was a nice reminder of my love of the bricks, cobbles, dirt, and just the grit that accompanies those surfaces.
So, last weekend was not a bust, but rather a ride that brought back some joy to my riding. Its the riding I grew up with, and the riding that I'm constantly drawn back to. Fresh pavement is nice, but cannot match the grit, grime, and toughness of the dirt, gravel, and bricks. So, I rode, smiled, and felt at peace and at home. Maybe not racing was a hidden blessing. Either way, I wouldn't trade my Blue Lion ride for any silly crit. I'd much rather see the dirt under my Pave's than pavement.

02 May 2009

Bumps in the Road, err trail...

At this point in the year, I've usually got a few thousand miles in the legs, some pretty established fitness, and the desire to race every weekend. It hasn't quite worked out the same way this year. Taking over a shop in the middle of 'cross season started this little detour; its' not easy to work 60 hours a week AND train. The focus that's required to throw a leg over the bike on a trainer after working all day just wasn't something I had. So, I finished out 'cross season a race early, and pretty unhappy with how it went. After some time to think about it, I finally made sense of the fact that I went from Cat 4 to 2 in one season and had a lot to learn. I made my peace with it.

With that, I tried to take some time away from the bike, some trail running inspired by Tim at the store kept me entertained for a little while. On some of the cold days it was nice to feel the burn of the cold air running through the trails. Its not nearly as fun as time on the mtb, but it still was a good way to get out. I managed to hit up some frozen singletrack every now and again too, which kept that appetite fed.

So, the time off ended, and it was time to saddle up again. I managed to start getting out on the road for some great road rides, both solo and with a few friends. Went for my first ride in Jeff Memorial Forest, explored more new territory, but basically fired up my riding. The weather kept me inside some of the time, and that is when it all went downhill.

Mary and I had just received our new road shoes for the year, and like any gear junkie, mounted them up as soon as I could. Pearl white Gaerne's; gorgeous shoes, that actually fit my skinny little witch feet. They were the answer to the years of me wearing shoes that didn't fit. I didn't take one thing into consideration with them. The soles were thinner than my previous shoes. This is a good thing; but I didn't adjust my saddle for it. One trainer ride, and I'm in pain.

Fast forward to Long Run Park Circuit Race. First race of the season, raining and temps in the 40's. Perfect weather for 'cross, but we weren't there for that, unfortunately. About halfway in, my achilles decides to completely lock up. Yeah, my ankle won't bend. So, I limp my way back to the Jeep, and begin to wonder about what this means. From that point on, I've been nursing it and on and off the bike. A few weeks ago, I managed to get out to yet another rainy circuit race, but this time I could throw down, chase attacks, make attacks. My achilles held! Little by little, I started getting some more miles in. So, a few months prior, I registered for an event known as the Cohutta 100.

100 mile Mountain bike race, 12k feet of climbing, 35 miles of singletrack, 65 miles of fireroads. Sounds fun, right? It was a super tough day that I'll post about later. That was last weekend.

This weekend was supposed to be a fun trip to the Fat & Skinny Tire Festival near my hometown. It starts with a mtb race on one of my favourite trails, and then a crit the next day. Well, the mtb race lasted one of three laps for me. Guess why? My stinking achilles. I need to name it so that it just sounds like I'm complaining about some person, rather than my aching body. So, no finish on the mtb today, and no crit for tomorrow.

So, some peaks and valleys in the year, but I'm choosing to just keep a level head. Train when I can train, but ride for the love of it. Ride to heal me, ride to see new things, ride to discover myself and what I can do, but ride to enjoy the contours of the land and all that it brings.

My racing may be limited for now, but like any venture, ups and downs abound. Just check out the profile of Cohutta 100 as you wait for my race report.