TAT CN Header

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Recap

Books read: 

The Art of Keeping Cool  - coming of age type of story about a boy who's living with his mother near his paternal grandparents while his dad is a pilot fighting in WWII. I had picked it up a couple years ago at a yard sale for Jacob. He never read it, and I was trying to decide whether to save it for him or just put it with our donation pile. It was OK, but I don't think he'll ever read it. Goodwill it is.

The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) - After the murder of his family when he's a baby, a boy is raised in a graveyard by the inhabitants. Assigned reading for Jacob's Language Arts class. It sounded interesting, so I read it before he took it to school. Really enjoyed this one.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (George RR Martin) While part of me wants to refuse to read anything GRRM writes until he finishes the Game of Thrones series, the less disciplined part of me just wants to get back to that world however I can. I really enjoyed this prequel, which has a considerably different tone (less violence, no sex) than previous books in the GOT series.

The Sleepwalker (Chris Bojalian) When a mother with a history of sleepwalking suddenly disappears, her older daughter seeks to learn what happened. So good!

New recipes:
  • Roasted Broccoli, Radicchio, and Chickpeas (Shape mag) - gross
  • Jamaican jerk chicken with swiss chard (Shape mag) - delicious! I need bigger pans or something, though.
  • A bunch of new recipes shared on my friend Kristen's meal prep/clean eating Facebook page. I've wanted to be more organized about meal prep and not been disciplined enough to figure it out for myself, so the page has been a huge asset. I really love being able to come home and just heat up one of several healthy meals I prepped on Sunday.

Goals: This year I set several training goals for myself: 5000 miles (or 500 hours, since mountain biking for me yields way fewer miles for the time) on the bike, 500 miles on foot (running/walking/hiking/etc.), 52 hours of yoga, and 30 hours of strength training. Thank goodness for youtube; I can never manage to commit to a class, but I can usually fit in a 10+ minute yoga video.

Jan. miles run 33.6
Jan. strength training 2:10
Jan. yoga 6:20
Jan. miles biked 189.7


  • 1/7/17 Last Man Standing/Little Woods Progressive Ultra - 3* at the start, surprisingly comfortable, I ran two 4.1 mile laps and called it a day. 
Photo credit: Robin Misukonis
  • New (to me) bike! Because I definitely needed a third mountain bike.

    North Trace/St. Joe
    New bike day is the best!
  • 1/28/17 Babler Cold Nose-O (SLOC orienteering meet). Cleared the course, felt severely out of shape hiking up the steep hills there.

  • 1/29/17 Rocheport Roubaix - 50 mile gravel bike race  
    Rocheport Roubaix 2017
    Photo credit: Donovan Evans
What's up for February:  The Meramec O-Meet on 2/19, lots of gravel riding in preparation for March's Land Run, and more time on my feet to get me ready for the LBL 24 hour.

Monday, January 16, 2017

And now for something completely different

I didn't register for Dirty Kanza. I didn't register for Motherlode. I don't have a long gravel race on my schedule until October's Spotted Horse Gravel Ultra. Of course I'll still be at the usual mid-Missouri spring gravel races, but it feels very empty to not have a spring 200-miler hanging over my head this year.

Dirty Kanza, 2015
I love those races, the incredible locations, the awesome people behind them, and the excitement of facing a big challenge. Dirty Kanza feels like part of me, and I'm dying to go back to South Dakota for redemption in the Black Hills. So why am I staying home?

Motherlode, 2016
Goals. One big one, in particular. Four years ago I watched the movie Ride the Divide and, like probably 95% of the people who did so, fell in love with the idea of doing it myself.  I'm happiest with a ridiculously out-of-my-league goal to chase; this qualifies in every way possible, but here it is, four years later, and I still haven't been out bikepacking.

I love racing, but the last two years I've raced so much that I didn't have time for a lot of things I wanted to do. When my friends have scheduled bikepacking trips, I've either been committed to a race or I've just spent too many weekends away from home to leave for another one.

I got a seat bag for Christmas, and the money I would have spent on DK registration will pay for a handlebar roll for my bike. Instead of scrambling (and paying) for a hotel room and crew I'll be planning for weekends in the woods full of long miles and big hills with friends and loaded bikes, hopefully somewhere without an internet signal so I can temper my FOMO.


Jeff and Jacob apparently aren't going to fall in love with bikes, but they're both excited for backpacking, and I want my calendar to allow as much of that as we want. I'll probably still race too much, but this year I'm going to be better about scheduling my races around my priorities instead of trying to fit everything around races. After all, kids don't stay kids forever, and that 2021 date I picked for Tour Divide looms larger with every passing day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

100* Miles of Nowhere - Edwardsville edition

2016 was the ninth year the Fat Cyclist hosted his charity race, the 100 Miles of Nowhere. Basically the point is to design and ride a course where you ride 100 miles...nowhere. People have ridden it on trainers, around small parks, around circular driveways (!!). Sometimes the race is completed in installments over multiple days. Sometimes it's shorter than 100 miles. You can do it on any bike -- or many bikes.

It's truly a choose your own adventure. Fatty gives his participants lots of leeway; the main goal is to adhere to the spirit of the event while raising money for Camp Kesem, a recreational camp for kids whose parents have cancer. And the icing on the cake is that because you are the designer of your own race, you're also sure to win your division.

I've ridden plenty regular centuries, so last year when I registered for 100 Miles of Nowhere I intended to complete the race on singletrack. I had the perfect 2-mile loop picked out for my event, but weather/trail conditions never cooperated with my schedule and 100MON 2015 became my first ever DNS. I still wore the jersey.

No shame in my game.

I registered again this year, both to redeem myself and because it’s such a good cause. Not having learned my lesson, I once again planned an all-trail edition. That is, I planned to plan it. The weather-dependent nature of our local singletrack makes it hard to schedule something too far ahead, and life kept getting in the way.

Luckily, our summer-like weather (82* that Thursday!) held as the calendar inched closer to December, and suddenly I realized that Sunday, November 20, was completely open.  Even a rainstorm on Friday wasn’t enough to derail the race thanks to previously dry conditions and the super windy day that followed. The wind was a double-edged sword, though, chasing in a cold front that dropped the temperature below freezing.


I wasn’t about to let a little cold weather stop me, though; I had a plan. A brilliant plan! Invoking the dirt to pavement multiplier, I was going to ride 33 miles on on trail 8 (1.1 mile loops) to check off the 2016 100MON. Then, I’d move to trail 3 (2 mile loops) and ride 33 miles to redeem the 2015 100MON. Finally, I’d switch to a stretch of doubletrack (not really sure of the distance, but I’d have plenty of time to find out on race day) for 33 miles of out and backs, pre-emptively winning my division for 2017. Not only would I *actually* ride 100 miles for the day and tick off my first singletrack century, but I'd triple podium.

The alarm rang at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, plenty of time for me to eat breakfast and hit the trails by 6, thus knocking off a few miles before daylight; however, overnight I’d belatedly grown nervous about being in the woods alone in the dark, and that fear probably contributed to my slow morning and eventual 7:30 arrival. Luckily the race director was super cool about it and pushed back the start time.

Leg 1: 2016 100 Miles of Nowhere

I started off with my first kit and first number plate. Trail 8 is all swoopy fun. My plan was to ride 10 loops counterclockwise and then reverse directions for the next 10. Two laps in I realized that was a terrible idea and switched to a 5/5 split. After all my happy anticipation I really wasn’t enjoying myself and pondered going back home to bed. Unfortunately, I’d already posted my intentions on Facebook and had no choice but to continue.


Because my family was sleeping in and watching football all day, I was racing self-supported. I stuffed my camelbak with water, food, Perpetuem, and extra clothes and then hung it in a tree at the apex of the loop. I’d ride two loops, get a drink, ride three more loops, eat something. Switch directions and repeat.

My Garmin 520 has most local strava segments enabled, which is an awesome feature for making you push yourself on shorter rides but less fun when your virtual partner keeps beating you to the finish. 8 laps in, I’d had enough of the constant beeping and stopped to disable the segments, accidentally saving the ride in the process.

A lot of people aren’t crazy about loop courses, but I enjoy them. With my long list of mountain bike skill deficits, repeatedly riding the same thing helps my confidence. I intentionally chose the least intimidating, easiest trail possible, but trail 8 was a good place to work on taking curves with less braking, riding over a log, and carrying speed on (gentle) downhills.


A friend joined me around 10 and we rode some laps together here and there, but mostly it was me, my bike, trail 8, and the occasional other users who were always riding in the opposite direction, leading to a few close encounters. Interestingly, riding the loop clockwise felt fastest, but riding it counterclockwise consistently yielded faster times.

Another directional difference was riding over the log. It’s bigger than what I usually attempt, but I cleared it every time. Riding it cleanly was another story. The approach was slightly different depending on direction, and I hit my chainring on it every one of my CCW runs, more of a slow-speed chainsaw-ing than anything else. Luckily that big ring serves primarily as a bashguard rather than a shifting option.


20 laps later I was finished! 33 miles down. Time to break for lunch and to thaw my frozen feet. The two pairs of socks I’d worn with my regular bike shoes were no match for the cold, and my toes felt like blocks of ice. Too bad I don’t have winter bike shoes or wool socks. Oh, wait...I do. Back home in my closet. In contrast, I’d overdone it with my top layers, which were now drenched and chilling me every time I stopped. Time for a kit change: my dry 2015 100 MON jersey was just the thing for my long-delayed 2015 race.

Leg 2: 2015 100 Miles of Nowhere


A new race called for a change of venue, so I moved to trail 3. Another loop course, it afforded me the perfect spot to hang my one-woman aid station. Regrettably, the starting point featured a climb* in either direction. When planning my day, this had been an advantage -- Awesome! I can practice my uphills! -- after 33 miles and way too many hours this practice opportunity no longer seemed like a perk.

Because this course was twice as long as trail 8, I only had to ride about 15 laps to hit my 33 mile goal. Once again I started out counter-clockwise. With fewer laps to ride, I decided on 3 counterclockwise (easier)/2 clockwise. I wasn’t sure how the latter part of that pattern would go. Both directions start with climbs, but after the initial uphill, CCW is mostly flowy and fun. Ridden in the other direction, the trail begins with a rougher, rootier incline as well as two short switchback climbs further in. I really wasn’t looking forward to these, but they ended up being a nice change of pace.

In addition to the switchbacks, which are a major target for improvement, this trail also offered a small tree to ride over; its size has never intimidated me, but the slightly diagonal position across the trail makes me nervous enough that I’ve walked it more than once in the past. After 8 successful times riding it during 100 Miles of Nowhere, I think I’m over those nerves.

But wait...I hear you ask. 8 times? I thought you had to ride 15 laps here. You're right; I can’t slip anything past you. 5 laps in, I was over it. Even the vast brilliance of my 3-in-1 plan couldn't convince me into staying on the trail even through the remainder of the 2015 leg. I eked out another 3 laps to reach 50 miles for the day and called it good enough. I didn’t complete the race, but at least I shifted my DNS to a DNF.


Leg 3: 2017 100 Miles of Nowhere

My plan for the last leg revolved around another area of weakness. Hill repeats! Both directions! Of course, by the end of my time on trail 3 the doubletrack out and back route I’d chosen sounded like the deepest circle of hell, so it was with great relief that I realized the 2017 100 Miles of Nowhere is still months away. Whew!

(But when it gets here, I’ve got my number plate ready.)


*Climb, in this context, should not be interpreted as any kind of major climb, merely that the trail wasn’t flat or downhill.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 in review

Quick stats:

Total race: 24

  • Running: 4 (3 trail, 1 road)
  • Biking: 11 (7 gravel, 4 MTB)
  • Adventure races: 4 (one 30 hr, one 24 hr, one 18 hr, one 8 hr)
  • Orienteering: 6
  • Volunteering: 3
  • DNF: 1

Miles on bike: 3,442 (2,594 gravel, 848 MTB)
Miles on foot: 449 (145 road, 57 trail, 47 orienteering, 73 trekking/hiking, 75 walking)

Most miles in a month: bike - 402 (March), run - 58 (January)
Fewest miles in a month: bike - 145 (December), run - 10 (June)

Longest ride: 152 miles at Spotted Horse
Longest run: 13.1 miles at Frozen Feet

Bike centuries: 11

Nights camping: 19 (6 tent, 13 camper)

Coldest race weather: Frozen Feet had snow on the ground, but nothing horribly cold this year.
Hottest race weather: 100's in South Dakota for Gold Rush

Repeat races: Little Woods, Frozen Feet, Rocheport Roubaix, Tour of Hermann, Broemmelsiek MTB race, Cedar Cross, Hairy Hundred, Creve Coeur Heartbreaker, Thunder Rolls, BT Epic, Castlewood 8-hour, Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Race

New to me races: Land Run, Gold Rush Motherlode, Leadbelt MTB race, No Sleep - Shawnee, Spotted Horse Gravel Grinder

States I raced in: Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa


January: 13:40 biking, 5:53 mountain biking, 2:26 orienteering, 6:14 running, 2:38 strength, 4:44 trail running, 3:08 trekking

With both the Little Woods Last Man Standing run and the Frozen Feet half marathon falling at the beginning of the year, I did more running in January than any other month of the year, but I still spent way more time on my bike.

First real snow of the winter and we got to run in it! Totally worth the couple miles of rain we had first. #trailrunning #running
Snowy trail run with Chuck
Awesome day on Missouri's Berryman Trail with friends. Winter temps mean mostly frozen trails and great riding weather as long as you kept moving. #mtb #singletrack #mountainbiking #berrymantrail #tothelimit #cyclingstateofmind #marktwainnatlforest
Mountain bikes on the Berryman Trail
Riding bikes in the snow is like being a beginner all over again. Definitely reminds all over again you about shifting and looking where you want to go. So much fun. Perfect snow for riding bikes, and the trails are in awesome shape! #mtb #snowday #gorctr
Snowy mountain bike ride
Following up yesterday's half marathon with a half-snowy, half-slushy 40 mile gravel ride. Thank goodness I'm not feeling post-race soreness (yet! That'll probably kick in tomorrow) because today's challenging surfaces wiped me out. #tothelimit #training
Regretting my choice of bike on a snowy Katy Trail
Midway through Saturday's Frozen Feet half marathon and loving the snowy scenery. My first half since last January and one of my slowest, but the running fitness (and enjoyment) is coming back. #running #halfmarathon #frozenfeet
Feeling surprisingly good at the Frozen Feet half marathon

February: 24:56 bike, 3:20 orienteering, 3:26 running, 2:36 strength training, 5:46 trekking

Rocheport Roubaix was my only event of the month. Between outdoor rides and time on the trainer, I had a decent training base but opted for the middle distance (50 miles) on the argument that it was too early in the year to suffer. I felt great that day. Chuck and I rode an overall relaxed pace, but with his encouragement I hit the timed hill climb pretty hard and ended up placing first on that segment for women.  Otherwise, with plans of an eventual Grand Canyon hike percolating, Jeff, Jacob, and I did some weekly hikes, including a trip to Giant City State Park.

Surprised and delighted to have won the hill climb.
The guys at Giant City
March: 30:31 bike, 5:09 mountain bike, 2:39 run, 2:13 strength, :41 walk

March's main event was Land Run, a very muddy 107 mile gravel race in Oklahoma. Mickey used his last-minute entry (thanks, Matt!), to pace/drag me to a strong finish. I ended up 2nd in my age group and 9th overall solo female. It's pretty rare for me to have a podium finish that's not by default, so that was an exciting day. I also made two trips to the Steelville, MO, area for the Death by Gravel ride. The first trip was thwarted by my over-optimistic dressing for the never-materializing highs forecast and my failure to prepare for the 3 hours of thick, wet snow we got. I went back the next weekend and finished the ride in much better conditions.

Mud-splattered at Land Run
2nd place!
DBG attempt
Death by Gravel attempt 1, ended at 38 miles
Death by Gravel, take 2. Success! 90 miles, 8000 feet of climbing, and a good day of gravel training. #tothelimit #bikes #momentumracing #CedarCrosstraining
DBG take 2, finished!
April: 26:27 bike, 6:46 MTB, 8:20 orienteering, 1:00 running, 2:43 strength, 1:55 trail running, 4:20 walking

April was another bike-heavy month, but it started out with a bike-less weekend volunteering at Adventure Camp, where I was talked into doing the zip line for the first time. Next up was Tour of Hermann, where I still haven't managed to complete all legs of the back-to-back 100 mile days. This year once again I managed all but the last 50-mile leg. Later in the month I raced the marathon (3 hour) division of the Broemmelsiek Challenge and finished out the month with a solo century while many of my bike friends were racing a brutal 150-miler in Southern Missouri.

Not entirely excited about the zip line
On the way down

Tour of Hermann 2016
Tour of Hermann, day 1
Tour of Hermann 2016
Less happy on day 2 of Tour of Hermann
Killing time on the solo century by taking selfies

May: 22:16 bike, 7:10 MTB, :28 run, :15 strength, 3:16 walk

The month started with Cedar Cross, where I made all of the pacing/nutrition mistakes possible, which only compounded the challenge of the first hot ride of the year. It was not a good day on the bike, but only my ego sustained damage. A few days later, when I somehow managed to tweak my hamstring while sitting in a chair at work; I spent the next two weeks mostly resting, occasionally riding and then paying for it the next day, and constantly stressing about it. Thankfully, by Hairy Hundred it seemed to have resolved itself, and I had a very enjoyable day on bikes with Jim and Eric. In between races, we fit in a family camping trip/shakedown run since our camper hadn't been used in the past two years.

Sitting on the road at Cedar Cross with no interest in getting up.
Marquette park camping
Happy to be camping again!
Marquette park camping
Marquette Park overlook with Jacob
June: 15:07 bike, 13:03 mountain bike, 1:26 run, :40 trail run, 3:35 trekking

We left for South Dakota the second week of June, combining a family vacation with my goal race of the year, the 210-mile Motherlode. Race day temperatures were nearly 30 degrees higher than normal, and I wilted in the heat, missing the time cutoff for the first checkpoint. After cooling down, I slightly salvaged my day by riding back and ending the day with 110 miles, but it was a big disappointment. We spent the next week visiting cool places. Later that month Nathan came home on leave from Japan, the first time we'd seen him in over a year, and I finished up June by placing first in the beginner division at the Creve Coeur Heartbreaker.

Taking ALL THE STUFF on vacation
Gorgeous Motherlode scenery
The women's field at Motherlode
Photobombing Mt. Rushmore
Mickelson Trail
Getting a taste of the Mickelson Trail
Badlands NP
Hiking in the Badlands
Harney Peak
Near the top of Harney Peak
#winning CCLP
Podium at Creve Coeur
July: 15:16 bike, 20:44 MTB, 1:26 running, :40 trail running, 3:35 trekking, 1:21 walking

July was apparently the month to do all the things. We started out the holiday weekend in Hannibal, MO, playing mud volleyball (Jeff's family tradition for the past 30 years). Also up that month were a gravel century with Eric, a road 5k to support the Joshua's Great Things Foundation, marathon division of the Leadbelt MTB race, a brutal ride (or, more accurately, hike a bike) on the Karkaghne section of the Ozark Trail, and a much more fun weekend combining the Ozark Trail, camping, and the Council Bluff trail. I traveled to Kansas City to help crew for my friend Patrick's attempt to stand up paddleboard the MR340, we did a nighttime orienteering meet with some friends, and the final weekend of the month Jeff, Jacob, and I headed to Smithville Lake near Kansas City to camp, visit Chiefs training camp (them), and mountain bike (me).

Hannibal 2016
Mud volleyball
Hannibal 2016
Our "after" photo
Hawk Point
Century interrupted by small-town parade
Crossing Bee Fork
Kaw Point at the start of the MR340
CB/Bass OT weekend
Council Bluff trail/lake
Smithville Lake
Smithville lake trails
Smithville Lake
Campfire time

August: 22:08 biking, 14:01 MTB, 4;04 paddling, 1:33 running, 1:00 strength, :32 trail running, 10:03 trekking, 12:07 walking

August started with another gravel century, this one with Mickey. Next up was a trip on the Courtois Section of the OT (and another river fording). Finally, towards the end of the month Chuck and I did our first AR of the year, the Thunder Rolls 24 hour, placing second in our division.

Gorgeous day for gravel
Hazel Creek to Berryman campground and back
Bike carrying skills come in handy
Putting in for the Thunder Rolls paddle leg
2nd place

September: 20:10 biking, 13:15 mountain biking, 1:00 orienteering, 2:50 paddling, 2:16 running, :40 strength, 1:28 trail running, 13:39 trekking, :48 walking

Chuck and I did two ARs in September: the No Sleep 30 hour in the Shawnee National Forest and the Berryman 18 hour near Rolla MO. We placed first in our division in both races, though we only had competition at Berryman. Between races I managed to sneak in a trip to the Middlefork section of the OT.

Chuck climbing for a CP in the Shawnee
Me rappelling down
First place (out of one team). Honestly, the biggest prize was all the cool stuff we got to see.
Lots of water in the creeks on Middlefork
Individual kayaks for the Berryman paddle leg.

October: 14:39 biking, 18:33 mountain biking, 1;30 orienteering, 2:39 running, 2:00 strength, 2:06 walking

I met friends in the middle of their OT bikepacking trip, doing a day ride as they finished up the second leg of their bikepack. Being the only rider without a heavily loaded bike gave me a little taste of what it's like to be towards the front of a group instead of my normal place at the back. I liked it. We made another OT trip to preride part of the BT Epic course, and the following weekend we raced BT Epic, where I had a much better day than last year and felt so good that I hit an orienteering meet on my way home. I ended October with a trip to Iowa for inaugural Spotted Horse Gravel Grinder, riding a slow but scenic 150 miles.

Derrick and Chuck at a regroup
OT/Bass/Berryman 2016
Finishing out the Three Sisters on the way back to Bass.
Mandatory MMR picture
With Spotted Horse RD Sarah Cooper

November: 10:49 biking, 18:03 mountain biking, 5:04 orienteering, :31 running, :50 strength, :45 trail running, 4:49 walking

After a very busy few months, a race-less November was both a nice break and kind of weird. I stayed busy, though. A big group of us rode from the St. Charles area to Hermann for lunch; at 85 miles, I had the shortest round trip but wasn't sad at all to be finished. Mickey and I rode some gravel miles around Busch Wildlife, and Mickey, Chuck, and I did some mountain biking around the Castlewood Park area. I also fell far short of my intention to ride 100 miles of nowhere on trails, managing 32 on a 1-mile loop and another 18 or so on a 2-mile loop. It turns out the sheer stupidity of an idea isn't always enough to keep me committed. November also featured two orienteering meets.

BW/LV/KT ramble
Gravel ramble
Long way to lunch v.4
Big group heading to lunch
CW, Zombie, BV
Mountain biking

December: 12:15 biking, 3:19 mountain biking, 1:43 orienteering, 1:26 paddling, 1:46 running, 2:45 strength, 2:15 trail running, 1:30 trekking, 1:49 walking, 5:44 yoga

I raced the Castlewood 8-Hour on a team with Mickey, Brenden, and Renee. Mickey talked me into doing the navigation for the trekking leg, though I think it's more accurate to say that WE did the navigation. Despite having pretty paltry running numbers, I finished Pere Marquette the following weekend with a time only a couple minutes off my PR. Since the end of my race season, I've worked on getting in more consistent workouts, both on the trainer and in the gym, and started doing at least 10 minutes of yoga each night. I had two weeks off for Christmas; a combination of family commitments and laziness kept me from maximizing my training time while off work, but Jeff, Jacob, and I finished up the year with a New Year's Eve orienteering meet. Any day I get willing family participation in one of my interests is a win in my book!

Type II Fun before Castlewood
Starting the trekking leg
Team Virtus post-race picture
Trying not to die at the end of Pere Marquette
Post orienteering meet family picture

Things aren't perfect, but overall life is good. My family is healthy, my job is good, my friends are awesome, my bills are being paid, and my new bike fund is (slowly) growing. I have more to be grateful for than to complain about, so I'll appreciate that as I look forward to more adventures in the new year.