Monday, November 9, 2009


Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships 2009 - Portland, OR

Doing this event made me think back to the days of Seasame Street and the lyrics of the song "One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong..." Me doing a single speed race, much less the "World Championships" in Portland is pure irony... It's the similar irony I enjoy in training on a pink bike and racing in nothing but pink this whole season. If you ever get to meet me, you'll understand.

It was a dream come true to be able to give my custom painted pink with chopper flames bike the showcase it deserves and I even made a pair of sparkely pink boot shoe covers for the event, but discovered while racing in them for the Halloween race the previous weekend they wouldn't be suitable to race in if running was involved. Therefore, plan B: pink stripe tights.

The course was a complete MUDFEST. Having been raced on since 8am and rain showers in the afternoon, there was not a blade of grass to be found and mud "puddles" that went half way to your knee in depth when riding through. Half way into the race, ramps were added so that you could catch air on a couple barriers and other places in the course - very fun! And the most important part: the "Thunderdome" where people would swing overhead and/or near you as you rode through.

As there were 250 riders, it was a la mans start with the women further away from the pile of bikes, in an effort to separate the groups. Not sure how effective it was as I was into a sea of men the second I got my bike. From them on, it was navigating through riders in costumes ranging from the "man-kini (aka Borat thong)", Shiela Moon's team of boyfriends and "Tina Turner" (who corrected me when I complimented his "Pregnant Wendy Simms" costume...oops!). Although I had been advised to have dollar bills to race with, I forgot, and therefore had to ride the extra out-and-back section added to the course since I didn't have a dollar to bribe the course official to take the "shortcut." By that point, it was such a mass of chaos, I just stuck to riding my race, figuring that if I won, I was at least going to win correctly (or cheaply, as cheating was encouraged). 5 laps later, the "race" was over. I outsprinted a guy to the line in good fun, but had absolutely no idea on my overall result.

I was thrilled to hear my name announced at the Thunderdome, and did my best to change into the golden bikini in the back of a trailer in the dark (hence the sportsbra addition - I couldn't get it to stay on in a family friendly fashion!). It was also an honor to be the deciding factor in the competition between Seattle and San Francisco on who would host the event next year. See you all in Seattle!

Huge thanks to: The Sweet Spot for the bikini "preparation" help & River City Cycles team and Nuun for the tent space!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cross Clash #2 - Rainier, OR

Missed it by that much!

Day two of racing for me and my first time in the infamous Oregon Cross Crusade series. My strategy was to be conservative as they race for 60 minutes (where everywhere else is 40 minutes). With solid competition including Wendy Williams, I was excited to test myself against the "Queen of the West."

I must have been wearing a sign on my head that read "Go easy on us!" because that's how I was also greeted by the Oregon cat A women racers. I guess word travels fast...

It was a much longer course than I'm used to as well, but a blast to race! A little bit of everything, except mud and the Portland 6-pack barriers. At least it did include lots of grassy corners, dust, rocket-launch-you-off-the-bike bumpy sections, dust, lots of off-camber hill riding & corners, sand, dust, barriers, dust, riding up & down hills, and more dust. Tons of fun. Plus the spectators were incredible! 3-5 deep along the sides in places and felt like there was someone cheering for you at every part of the course.

Feeling a bit tired from Saturday's race (I was the only one there who did both days of the Clash - gold star for me!), my legs felt like they had a bit of rust to work out on the start. So I grabbed 3rd wheel on the hole shot and just tried to keep pace and spin out. By the end of the first lap, I finally loosened up and got my racing legs back and spun past the leaders on the steep climb before the finish line to take the lead! 3 laps later I was still leading, but loosing some steam (with 20+ minutes to go rather than the 1 lap I would normally have). Wendy Williams managed to bridge up to me and I enjoyed her wheel for a bit of fast paced "rest" for a couple laps. With one lap to go, I attacked on the steep climb again and put some distance between us. I dug deeper to try and open it up into a more comfortable buffer to secure the win. All was looking good as we approached the steep climb for a final time. A River City guy came soaring past us and I followed his line (thinking he was obviously going faster than us, so he would be a good one to follow). With about a 1/3 of the hill left to climb, I almost rode over his wheel as he lost speed. I looked down to see he was a SINGLE SPEEDER!!!! Great! Having the local advantage of knowing the riders, Wendy, brilliantly took the other line and passed me as I lost traction in trying to pass Mr. Singlespeeder. I charged again ahead of Wendy (legs screaming and actively cramping) and mistimed my bike thrust a bit on the early side

As you can see in the picture above, that didn't work out so well for me...

Lessons learned: Don't leave the race for the final climb. Don't get behind a single speeder on the final climb. And bike thrust at the line (not way before).

I also got to give my first post-race interviews!
Here's one:
(the kid on the "trainer" steals the show though!)

Cross Clash #1 - Steilicoom, WA

I felt completely turned around on Saturday at the MFG Steilicoom Race, the first day of Cross Clash (a friendly competition between Washington state and Oregon riders). In fact I was as the course was essentially the reverse of how it is generally raced. Thankfully, we didn't have to go down the infamous "Knapp Time Run Up." With a long climb, and ample technical cornering, it was a course for me.
I was greeted at the start line by the local cat 1-2 racers saying "go easy on us!" Although my motivation when racing road is to bring as much suffering as possible, that wasn't my mission today. I was just excited to race some cross and represent Washington to help secure some points for the coveted "grail de la grunge." It was a fun course that suited roadies well with lots of long power straights, a long roadie climb, and lots and lots of fun grassy cornering. Loved it!
Another very-pro MFG series call-up, and the race was off! Just when I thought the hole shot was mine, Jenni Geartner of Riverstone Women's Racing zoomed by to nab it just as we hit grass. I added a little extra speed a couple turns later going over the barriers to get my gap. From there, I put it in time trial mode and worked to stretch it out as Jenni is also a roadie and was hot on my wheel. Towards the end of the first lap, we started working our way through the men. At least most were kind enough to let us by without challenging us to race them as well, which I really appreciated. I used the men to my advantage and got out of sight of the chase group. From then on, I challenged myself to add as much time to my lead as possible as well as see how far I could work through the men's fields.
Final result: Won by a margin of 48 seconds and worked through at least 1/2 of the cat 3 master men's field.

I attacked from the start, missed the hole shot, but lead the rest of the race. I challenged myself each lap to go faster and managed to stretch my lead to a comfortable 30 seconds, but this being cross - a sport where anything can and will happen - I didn't let up. Working through a good portion of the men's races ahead of me, I managed to win by ~50 seconds!

Starbucks Gran Prix - Issaquah, WA

A big day for me - my first local call-up & win in the elite women class!

It was a day of perfect conditions - sunny skies, fun winding course, a LONG (almost football feild length) run in DEEP sand along the shore of Lake Sammamish, hydroplanes racing in the background, and a formal call up to the start line!

I felt so pro as the MFG series did a rolling call-up for the 1-2 women (yes, all 8 of us racing that day got a call up!). I was highly amused to roll past the announcers, then work my through both the master men's feilds to the back where the cat 3 women were staged. At least it's a start.
I had been feeling a bit blah on the bike since Cross Vegas, so my main goal was to have a good ride. Although I missed the hole shot, I stalked the lead wheel for a lap then utilized the perfectly engineered top tube shoulder spot of the Ellsworth Roots frame & my long legs on the football field length sandy shore run to make my gap. Every part of the course, except the mile-long sand stretch, became more fun with each lap and I focused on trying to ride as cleanly and smoothly as possible on all the fun grassy turns and slopes. I just continued to flow on the course, stretching out my gap to a solid lead to eventually solo in for the win. Very fun to both start and end the race feeling like a pro!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Planet Bike Cup (USGP 1&2)

(Pictures from - Thanks, Dave!)

En route to a new personal record of number of UCI races in 8 days...

My lungs were not happy post-Vegas and I don't get how anyone can chose to smoke with the consequence of coughing like that all the time. (although I bet cross is just as crazy a concept for them!)

Unfortunately it wasn't really a true race weekend for me as I just felt off - dizzy and lightheaded while racing Saturday and short of breath on Sunday. So this is more of a Kari's-health-report-while-riding-her-bike post.

Planet Bike Cup 1 - Saturday

I felt dizzy all morning and had doubts on whether racing was really all that great an idea. As it went away when I was on the bike, I figured I needed to at least try and race since I was all the way in Wisconsin to do so! The start was weird and kind of blobby - not the fast, hold on for dear life crazy fast starts I'm used to with the big girls - Compton, Gould, Nash, etc. My body was on a different wave length of communication and didn't want to play race despite my encouragement. I held on for what I thought was 10th... to find out it was 11th place when I crossed the finish line. Oh well, at least I finished.

Planet Bike Cup 2 - Sunday

After a good night's sleep, I felt MUCH better and was looking forward to actually racing today. I was hoping for rain as it would favor me, but strong winds would have to do (one of the few times it pays to be a tank in the women's field - you don't get tossed around as much). Another weird blob start (which I in the future will go try and do something about!) and I was sitting in 9th with hopes of moving up. 4th lap in, my chain popped off (for no good reason), and not being able to shift it back on, I had to get off and physically put it on, losing 4 places! I chased back and regained a couple places and was making gains on the next in line when I started having trouble breathing and got dizzy again. Passing out is not something I strive for when riding, so I backed off a bit and finished the race what I thought was 12th, to later learn 13th on the results.

Needless to say I need to learn how to count and have been working with doctors to figure out what's going on... But still, in the big scheme, placing top 13 both days when not feeling stellar - pretty cool. I just can't wait for everything to fall into place and get the results I know I'm capable of.

Cross Vegas

UCI race #3 for me in 5 days....

I love the excitement and energy associated with Cross Vegas! It's the only course where you're pretty much guaranteed to be cheered at along the WHOLE course. Last year I surprised myself in placing 10th. As this is THE biggest race in North America with the most competitive field of U.S & Canadian riders, my goal was another top 10.

Heading to the staging area, I realized I had forgotten my pre-race goo! Since I had time, I dashed back to the car. Being in race brain mode, I managed to rip the "litter leash" side off (not realizing this opened the whole side of the package) and when I went to rip off the top to correctly open it, goo EXPLODED everywhere - entire left side of my face and whole left hand! not to mention the complete handlebar region of my bike!!! Trying not to panic, I "washed" what I could off, pryed my gloves on and did my best not to think about goo stickiness on the handlebars (something I really hate!). (Of note, I am still cleaning goo off my bike...)

On that note, I headed to the staging area (again). It was a confused mess, but I got to meet Rick from Ellsworth Bikes and teammate Devon Haskell. A guy suddenly pointed to me and told me to "go" for my call up (I got a call up!!! Finally another chance at fame and ego fulfillment!!). All to be short lived as I as announced as Barb Howe as I rode by the crowd. Love it. At least Barb has a good sense of humor.... Time for me to get a big name tag in addition to my race number.

8 minutes later (yes, 8 long glorious minutes in the starting grid) the race was off. Devon had a fantastic start and I quickly realized that I don't like 8 minute long start grid waiting as my legs were a bit grumpy. They finally came around and I settled into the 10-15th place chase group - including Van Gilder, Syder, Howe and eventually Dombroski and teammate Devon. My legs just weren't happy racing, but I enjoyed the opportunity to be having an off day and still sitting on the wheels of some of the top women in the sport. Very cool and the reason I love this sport! Where else is there that opportunity?! In the end, I took 13th. Not bad for an off day. Just can't wait to see what happens when I really feel good!

Rad Racing Gran Prix (NACT #2)

After the disappointment of finding out that 5th isn't good enough to make the podium (as was the case at Starcrossed), I was determined to make it happen this time. And with Syder not racing, my chances were already improving.

Another good start and I was 4th up the infamous "Knapp time run-up" chasing Alison Dunlap's wheel! (how cool is that?!) Sue Butler and Helen Wyman rode away after a half lap, leaving me sitting on Alison's wheel for the next couple laps. Alison had just started to pull away from me on a long gravel climb when Wyman came into sight (and not looking in good form either). Alison charged ahead to pass her and realizing that my shot at 3rd place was infront of Wyman, I followed. The rest of the race was basically a time trial where Alison kept her gap on me and I kept my gap on Wendy Williams & Barb Howe. Coming into the final section of the last lap I heard shouts that Wyman was chasing! Although my gap was comfortable, I wasn't going to press my luck so I gave everything to make sure I crossed the line 3rd - for my first official UCI race podium! No question this time on whether I'd make the photo shoot....

As luck would have it, this time the podium shoot went 5 deep!