Grateful

gratitude-quotes-thankful-quotes-grateful-quotes-happiness-quotes

There are so many lessons I’ve learn or realizations that have taken place over the last year. I think it really comes from the fact that I finished school and all the energy that was being channeled into accomplishing that goal along with working, maintaining relationships and riding my bike was now free to explore, challenge, and lead to new opportunities. So I really think that this month will serve as the opportunity at last to document, at least for me, those lessons, changes, and challenges.

If January, well, cyclo-cross nationals taught me anything it was gratefulness. The crew of people that we assembled for the local organizing committee here was one that I never would have picked…not from disliking anyone but just from not fully knowing everyone that came to play such a such role in the execution of the 2016 USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross Nationals in Asheville! Some I knew from running in similar circles. Others I knew in name only. Still others I had never met before they gave so much to bring nationals to life. And some, well, some I’ve known forever. But the magic that was created by this group of people was truly amazing to be a part of. All the frustration, exhaustion, long and cold days, doubt, excitement, energy, support, Fireball and beer, jokes, walkie talkie etiquette lessons, and understanding that flowed leading up to, into and beyond CX Nats blended together and bonded us together in this magical way that I never could have foreseen. But the feeling of euphoria during the last day of Nationals while the elite men whipped around the course, as we stomped around the race course, taking it all in, and slowly realizing that WE DID THIS, and sharing that realization wordlessly made me deeply grateful for that experience. It was worth all the hard work. It was worth the vulnerability of trusting others to be a part of something that was so precious and seeing how they made it better than it could have been with just you. And it made me grateful for each person that was open to being selfless, giving up their own races, comfort, and time to be a part of the bigger game.

This feeling has stayed with me in the 6+ months since Nationals…it’s made me more keenly aware of the opportunities to be grateful in other areas and take the magic with me, always adding a new sparkle to life.

cx nats staff
Most of the amazing CX Nats 2016 crew. Photo CC Weldon Weaver.

 I have so much love and am so thankful for these people, that experience, and its impact on my life, even month later.

(and you can see more of our shenanigans here)

Whew, just made day two! ūüėČ

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Cyclocross Thank You’s

I am so blessed to be surrounded by so much support and encouragement over the past few months as I have trained and raced ‘cross this winter, starting from racing just for fun with not-so-great results, to my best personal race to date.

I want to acknowledge the people, sponsors, and products that helped get me and the rest of the Mars Hill Cycling team to cyclocross nationals and get that team gold!

Spin-Tech Training — I can’t say¬†enough about¬†Spin-Tech. They are just awesome! Without Spin-Tech I really doubt that I would have made it to two national championships, upgraded from category B to A within a few weeks, or have the confidence to race at the level I’m at, all within¬†six months of starting to ride for Mars Hill Cycling and seriously start training.

Thanks to O’Neill for the heart-throbbing, lung-bursting, muscle-screaming workouts and to Frank for the refreshing, feel-good about riding workouts! Spin-Tech also loaned us two Scott cross bikes (one for me, one for Mariske, they also served as pit bikes during the guys race), and trainers to warm-up on. Thank you so much for the equipment!

DeFeet¬†— DeFeet has become one of my go-to favorites for anything wool-related. As a picky sock-wearer, I’ve been delighted with everything I’ve tried, be it the thin Wooleator or the thick Woolie Boolie (This is my fave sock). They also make amazing gloves what can be worn as a liner or on their own. At nats, I wore the glove by itself and it was perfect for keeping my fingers warm in the 34 degree temps of my race while offering a little cushioning for all the bouncing over ruts. The arm warmers also are amazing, warm but perfectly regulating body temps. I think everyone needs to have a pair of DeFeet armwarmers at least!

Raw Revolution is always present at Mars Hill Cycling events. They are a great sponsor and make organic raw food bars. We got to try the new Super Greens bar in Tropical Banana. I loved it! While I don’t care for some of the flavors with more nuts (it’s just me, I don’t like peanuts or cashews in any form, no matter how healthy), I really like the banana. A couple of these after racing are the perfect thing to to start the body on recovery and fill that space between racing and eating a real meal.

A huge thanks to our hosts for the week, Brian and Carolyn Cassel. They were more than welcoming, and it was so amazing having a house to come back to after racing. I felt so at home, and Brian even gathered a group of their friends to cheer for us as we raced!

And of course, thanks to our awesome coach, Hugh! Without his hard work, direction and encouragement, we would not have made it to the top of the podium!

And thank you to Mars Hill College for supporting the team!

And check out all our other sponsors who have donated funds, gear, and their time to help get us where we are… National Cyclocross Champs and the Number One ranked DII team in the nation!

And I can’t forget my wonderful husband, who encourages me and puts up with me taking off for days to race with my team. I love you Kyle!

I’m so excited for what 2012 brings, I’ve definitely had an amazing start to the year. With such wonderful support, an awesome team, incredible sponsors, I’m only looking to go up!

Mars Hill Cycling: DII Cyclocross Champions!

What an awesome weekend!

After an intense men’s race this morning, we found ourselves in first place in the team omnium for Division II! The rest of the day was spent in giddy excitement as we watched the elite men and women’s races, cheering and heckling with attitude.

This morning us girls swapped roles with the guys are they prepared for their race and we played the role of support team. The course was drastically different from yesterdays conditions, starting out frozen and fast.

Tim had a great start despite a early mechanical, and made his way up to 2nd place. Corey had the misfortune of being wrecked in the first turn but came back with awesome power to take 8th after breaking his shifter on one of the climbs and having to finish out with one of the spare bikes. Micheal battled the slick and muddy conditions and performed well for a roadie with a 24th place finish. It was intense watching the race from the pits and seeing the course start to deteriorate into a slick muddy mess.

After the awards ceremony, we also chased down Jeremy Powers and Ryan Trebon for a photo with the team! They are both super nice guys and a huge shout out and thanks to them both for posing with us!

Jeremy Powers, USA National Cyclocross Champion
Ryan Trebon, Cyclocross Nationals 2nd Place
MHC Cyclocross Team
With our amazing hosts for the week, the Cassels!

It feels so great getting the national championship as a team! I get to ride with the most amazing kids ever, and being a part of this has been incredible!I’m also really pleased with my performance this weekend and am coming away from this nats weekend hungry for my own successes and podium finishes, eager to keep training and gaining skills!

My deepest thanks to our amazing Sponsors! Without you we would not be here, getting all sorts of awesome results! Thank you to our amazing hosts this weekend, the Cassels! Having such a wonderful place to stay for sure influenced us for the better!

All photos by Mikey Keith

Cyclocross Nationals: DII Women

Madison, WI doesn’t exactly sound like the ideal place to be for cyclocross nationals (cross nats) in January. However, everything has been wonderful! From the course which I was not looking forward to from the several preview videos that were made, to the weather that while cold doesn’t involve several inches of snow, to the amazing spectators, and of course amazing support and performance from the rest of the team.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon, and after meeting and greeting our newest member, Mariske who had flown in from South Africa to start the year at Mars Hill, we headed out to check out the course conditions. We’re staying about 1.5 miles away from the course, at the hospitality of the Cassels. They gracious opened their home to us and have been the perfect, no, better than perfect hosts.

It felt great to get back on the bike again and actually ride! We were able to get a feel for at least the design of the course, if not the conditions. It was extremely muddy, with frozen earth under all the mud. Definitely caused some mountain bike nationals flashbacks for sure! The course conditions have gradually gotten better over the past couple of days, despite being re-frozen every night.

Before leaving for cross nats, I had decided that my goal for this race was a top 10 finish. But after being out here and riding the course a good bit and feeling really excited and positive about the race, I decided that top 8 was a better goal.

The women’s race was Saturday at noon. The ground had thawed out nicely after the juniors and master’s races, leaving some really soggy icky spots, but also creating some areas that where compacted down and pretty fast.

The biggest part of my worry for this race was the start on a long paved section. I am a mountain biker, so long flat things aren’t my strong-suite (yet!). But I got a great start, and according to Hugh was in the top five for at least half a lap! There were a couple hard climbs, which I had made about 50% of the time during practice laps due to the lack of traction in the mud. But with the better conditions, I was able to clear each one easily. Not really quickly, but strong and steady. Maybe it’s because my roots (or wheels, ha ha ha) are in mountain biking, but I take climbs seriously. After all, that’s half of mountain biking right there, and I better do that well

Photo by Mikey Keith

I went out hard and kept the hammer down for the first two laps, settling in to bring it home on the final two laps. I did get pulled since the leaders where several minutes ahead, which kinda threw me off. I wanted that last lap to see what I could do and who I could catch!

I ended up 7th, which is amazing to me! It’s exactly where I wanted to be, and it feels so great knowing that I put it all out there and performed at the top of my skills and fitness! This is easily the best race of my short racing career!

Mariske took first in her first cyclocross race ever! We’re really excited about the strength she’s bringing to the team, not only in mountain bike, which is her specialty, but in all areas as has been proven today.

Photo by Mikey Keith

Stephanie and Lacey took 11th and 12th after battling the tricky mud and a mechanical.

Overall, Mars Hill Cycling is currently number 1 in the DII team omnium! We’re cheering on the guys tomorrow and will see where we are after that, though the top step of the podium is our goal for sure!

I do want to thank all of our sponsors, hosts for the week and everyone who has helped me and the rest of the team get here! It’s been amazing and I’m so lucky to be able to do this cycling thing!

Big thanks to Defeet which kept us all warm and dry today and Spin-Tech for the loaned bikes for Mariske and I, as well as all of the amazing training over the past six months!

And thank you to the crew here and USA Cycling for putting on this great event! The course and entire event has been amazing! Also, the spectators here are the best I have ever had the privilege of racing in front of!