Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 Epic Family Race-cation (Part 3)

Breckenridge is one of my family's favorite places, and since my Mema and Grampa had never been there, we thought that would be a great excuse to spend a couple of days there. My dad really wanted to take me on the Firecracker 50 loop, and since I will finally be old enough to race in the Firecracker next summer, I was looking forward to going. It was my first time riding there and both my parents were sure I would love it.

Well, I really did like it a lot until we got to Little French Gulch. Apparently, some heavy snow/rain last year had washed away much of the two-mile trail. The bottom part wasn't too bad, and I was having fun motoring up it. Mom's not much of a climber, and after about a 1/2 mile, she was off the bike pushing. Unfortunately, not too long after that, the trail disappeared, it started raining, and we were all pushing. Mom was a trooper, but it was pretty obvious she was not having fun. To top it off, we took a wrong turn at the top of the mountain and ended up on this very steep, very rocky, very fast bombing downhill that scared my parents to death (I thought it was fun). What we thought was going to be a 2-3 hour ride turned into 4. We came back very tired and hungry, but with a good story to share with the rest of the family.
Mom hiking up Little French Gulch

From Breckenridge we continued west toward Moab, Utah. It was like going from one planet to another. The scenery changed from green mountains to red rock and the temperature went from warm to oh-my-gosh-this-is-hot!!

When we got to Moab, we took a drive through Arches National Park. We got out a couple of times for short hikes to see some of the formations, but it was so hot and dry that none of us really felt like doing any of the longer hikes, especially since we were getting low on water.

The next day I chose to sleep in, while my parents got up early to ride at Slickrock Park. (I know, I'm a slacker.) My mom rode 2 miles of the trail and decided that she had done enough to get a feel for it. My dad did the whole loop.

Mom riding at Slickrock park in Moab
Dad out on the trail

After showers and breakfast, we moved on to our next destination, Salt Lake City, Utah, where we would be staying with family for a few days. We had a great time getting to know cousins we had either never met or rarely see. We played a wicked game of Ultimate Frisbee in the back yard after dinner one night, which was really fun (and dangerous too, since Mandy and my mom both got hit in the face).

My crazy family in Salt Lake City, Utah

One morning, Kim's husband Pablo hooked us up with some local mountain bikers who took us on a group ride. Pablo just started riding a year or so ago and has even done some racing.
Pablo and me

At one point, the guys decided that I was too fast and somebody put rocks in my jersey pockets to try to slow me down. LOL
The Salt Lake City group and us

After Salt Lake City it was on to Sun Valley, Idaho and MTB Nationals............

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Epic Family Race-cation (Part 2)

 Ok, so part 2 didn't come as soon as it should have, but hey, we're a busy family.  LOL

After we left Crested Butte, we headed north to Fort Collins to visit some friends. On the way, the GPS took us on an "alternate route", otherwise known as a "Mace Family Shortcut."  It wasn't any shorter, but it was definitely a lot cooler. We went through a break in the mountains called Cottonwood Pass. The views were pretty but the road was very curvy and I was getting car sick. When we got to the top of one of the mountains, there was one of those Continental Divide signs. We got out there to take pictures and my dad thought it would be cool to get the bikes and ride down the mountain the rest of the way. So we did. It was epic!! We got up to 52 miles per hour on our mountain bikes. My mom was a nervous wreck following behind us in the car, and my brother took pictures. I would love to go back and do that ride again.

Once we got to Fort Collins, we made plans to ride and do some other things on our list. First, we had to get lunch at Lark Burger. Not sure why my dad loves that place so much (he says it's the fries), but it was on the "must do" list. Another thing on the "must do" list was some hill climb training. Because of the wildfires, the mountain bike trails were closed, so we took to the road and practiced climbing there with our mountain bikes. It was fun to see the looks on the roadies' faces when we'd pass them!

Horsetooth Reservoir--Fort Collins, CO
While in Fort Collins, we did a bunch of other things besides just ride.  We jumped on our friends' trampoline, and we went ice skating and fishing. My brother Ryan had a more difficult time with the skating, but he did ok trading stray hockey pucks for lollipops.

After visiting with our friends for a couple of days in Fort Collins, we headed back to Denver to pick up my grandparents at the airport. They would be with us for the rest of the trip. From the airport, we went through the Rocky Mountain National Park on our way to Breckenridge.

We got to get pretty close to some elk as we were driving up to the ranger station.

At the ranger station, Dad and I decided to go ahead and ride down, like we did from Cottonwood Pass. It was fun, but the roads weren't as steep, so we never got over 42 miles per hour this time.
My brother took this picture and I just thought the sign was funny.
We got to Breckenridge about dinner time and I'll continue with part 3 there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2012 Epic Family Race-cation (Part 1)

I can't believe it's been almost a month ago that we were getting ready to leave for our Epic family vacation. So much has happened and I'm going to try to catch up on things a little bit at a time.

We left home at 6:30 the first morning and drove all the way out to Wichita Falls, Texas that day. It was a 19-hour drive, but thanks to the wonders of technology, (my computer & my parents' iPad), it wasn't too bad. I had only been back from mountain bike camp a few days, but hadn't ridden since the last race in Georgia, so my dad and I got up early the next morning and went for a quick ride on a trail that was right in the middle of town. It was ok, but we found out later that we missed the really fun part of the trail. Bummer.

The next day, we drove the rest of the way out of Texas, through a bit of New Mexico, and into Colorado, where we would spend the night in Gunnison before going to Crested Butte to race in the Wildflower Rush that weekend.

This was my first time racing at altitude and doing a ski resort course. I went on a pre-ride with my dad the day before the race. The course itself wasn't super tough, except for a 20% grade climb at the very beginning. The downhill though, was pretty fun. After the pre-ride, I felt pretty good about the race and how I could perform.
This picture doesn't show just how steep this climb was.
In fact, I thought I had a good shot at winning. Unlike in Florida, the kids racing in Colorado didn't seem to take off from the line as quickly, so I sort of sat back and watched for a few seconds. Then I decided to attack and got a pretty big lead turning the corner into the first climb. Then it hit me......altitude. All of a sudden, my chest started hurting, my legs cramped up, and I had to get off the bike just before getting to the top of that steepest part. I watched as several kids passed me and there was nothing I could do about it. It was humiliating.

I finished the race mid-pack, crossing the line in 10th and collapsing on the ground afterward. Not fun. Unfortunately for me, my dad was able to make a video of the race. This is definitely one of my least favorites.

One good thing that happened was that I met 2 boys who race as much as I do, Jake and Nye Yackle. We've been following them on Facebook and they've been following us, so it was cool to finally meet them in person, especially since they live in Colorado and we live in Florida.
Jake, me, and Nye

Look for part 2 coming soon.....