Friday, February 13, 2015

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout & Reed's Lake Rager

"Are you sure you don't want to go to Cuyuna?"
"Yeah, it's a long drive and there are fat bike races the next two weekends."
"Are you sure?"
"I think so... Yeah, it's a shorter race. I'll plan on the longer races of the series."
"Okay. So you're sure you don't want to go to Cuyuna?"
On my way to Cuyuna...
This was mine and Danielle's conversation all freaking week about whether or not I should go race the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout last weekend. The Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout was the only race of the whole 2014 Great Lakes Fat Bike Series that I had skipped last winter and I had initially planned on racing it this year because I had heard great things about it. Then the winter season hit and I found myself gone every weekend. To give myself a bit of a travel break, it made sense to skip Cuyuna again this year. I do better at longer races and hearing about the icy 30k course for the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout made me think it'd be better to stay at home and to get a longer ride in.

Then Friday evening hit, and Danielle asked me again if I was sure that I wasn't going to go. I was at the Ada Bike Shop and everyone there encouraged me to rethink my decision just as much as Danielle did. I called Dan to receive some affirmation that staying at home was the right choice, but there's a reason why we're dating -- he said, "if you don't go do Cuyuna you might regret it all winter. Maybe you should go." Sometimes he gets me better than I get myself. Having a supportive boyfriend who didn't mind that I would disappear on a whim for a fat bike race was the last reason I needed to jump into my car (which I wasn't even sure would run for a consecutive 11 hours in a row) and to drive straight through the night to Minnesota. I stopped about 3 hours away from the race to post up in a Super 8 for a few hours. I was SO happy that the race didn't start until noon on Saturday!!!
Pre-race layering up / layering down again at the 45NRTH tent. Matt Acker in the background.
The worst part about the drive was that I knew all my racing buddies were already in Crosby, MN and that they were eating pizza and having a 45NRTH tire studding party. Whyyyyy wasn't I there yet? Why hadn't I left earlier in the day? I kept kicking myself in the butt for not carpooling with pals while simultaneously patting myself on the back for being sporadic and for going to race despite driving alone and packing an hour before leaving. I'm incredibly lucky to have sponsors like 45NRTH who procure studded tires for me to use the night before a race, and even luckier to have a teammate who hand-studs those tires for me after meticulously studding her own. Thanks to Kurt and Scott for helping me to get those Dillingers on my Sarma rims before the race, and thanks Chelsea for having the most incredible and talented little studding hands on the planet!!
So pumped to have studded tires! Photo by Ron & LeAnn Plinski
Boy, was I glad to have a studded Dillinger 5 up front and a studded Dillinger 4 in the rear! That course was incredibly hairy and there were a lot of slick corners! I hadn't tried studded tires on my fat bike before, and I absolutely loved how they felt on areas that I knew I'd be losing traction on normally. The course was a ton of fun; twisting in some spots, flowy in others, and there were some two-way climbs/descents that enabled me to cheer on other riders and high-five Martha Flynn when I was climbing/careening downhill. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face! At one point during the race, Chelsea Strate, Scott Patterson, and I were all riding in a row on our Beargrease's wearing our 45NRTH jerseys. I really wish someone had snagged a photo of the three of us racing together, because I thought it was pretty stinkin' cute.
Scott and Chelsea are pretty cute on their own. Photo by Ron & LeAnn Plinski
4th overall female, 3rd in my age bracket. I LOVE THIS MEDAL.
There was one water crossing near the end of the loop that looked super icy. There was a big dirt clump at the end of the ice to get back on to dry land that I was really excited to have practiced before the start of the race. It was a tricky one! Nailing stuff during a race that I couldn't hit the first time I came upon it always makes me super stoked. The Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout was a shorter race than I might have preferred -- taking me about an hour and a half to do the race -- but I'm really, really glad I made the drive out for it. One of the areas that I can always use practice in is my speedwork. I can hop on a bike and ride it all day, but taking off hard and maintaining max effort is an area where I want to get better. Any time I get to practice going fast and keeping that speed is well worth it. I feel like I'm a better mountain biker after riding my fat bike on that icy trail! I wound up coming in behind April Morgan, Pam Nielson, and Chelsea Strate for the 4th place female. Thanks to Aaron and everyone at the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, it was a fun course and I wish I could have stayed for the after party!
Myself and Pam, photo by Ron & LeAn Plinski
After the race I hopped back in the car and drove back to Grand Rapids. Yikes. I rolled up to my house at 4am and immediately crawled under the covers. As much as I had wanted to stay in Minnesota, there was a short track ice race on Reed's Lake in GR on Sunday and I wanted to ride those studded Dillingers more!! Even though driving through the night can suck, missing out on tomfoolery and camaraderie in my own neighborhood because I'm stuck in a car can be even worse. Despite being tired, Raging on Reed's lake was all I dreamed it would be: a bunch of my buddies laughing, smiling, crashing on ice, and having an overall awesome time! Everything from singing the National Anthem as a giant conglomerate of cyclists on the middle of the lake to seeing ice-cube medals on the podium was hilarious. Thanks to Jeff Jacobi for tossing this event together. What a blast - both races were totally worth the lack of sleep!
Jenny Scott is my favorite guerrilla. Ever. Photo by Joshua Duggan
Quinton somehow squeaked into the studded class on his single speed All City - I got banished to the outer lane.
Photo by Joshua Duggan
Photo by John Holkeboer
Look who came to town from Salt Lake City!
Terra Trikes dominated the Reed's Lake Rager and proved to be the best bikes on the tiny, icy course.
I LOVE THESE MEDALS TOO. Maybe I'll win one next time...
Seriously, all of the fun in Minnesota and back home in Michigan was well worth the drive. :)
Myself, Scott Patterson, April Morgan... & a photobomber

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