*Honestly, the fat bike season is never truly "over." I love my Salsa Beargrease, and aside from having a the most amazing friend/mentor/coach to help me with workouts and riding goals, I really do believe my fat bike is one of the best training tools I could have when it comes to building endurance. Plus, it's just a TON of fun!
I really owe a huge thank you to the sponsors that I had over the past winter season! Having their support meant the world to me and I'm so incredibly lucky to have been a part of team Grand Rapids Bicycle Company and team 45NRTH, to roll on amazing Sarma Naran carbon fat bike rims, and to extend my training into the night with NiteRider lights. The best coworkers and teammates, the best bike and wheels, and the best lights. I cannot believe that I got to spend my winter with all of them and am already looking forwards to next winter! Although I love the snow, I'm also really, really happy that I was able to race at the Yankee Springs TT this past weekend in short sleeves and shorts!
The fat bike season ended with a cabin full of friends in Cable, Wisconsin at the Fat Bike Birkie. The highlights of the race were that I got to 1) sleep on a mattress in a loft that felt like a tree fort and in the middle of the night my teammate Tyler Keuning tossed me some gummy worms, 2) the Fat Bike Birkie was my first race back since taking some time off because my scapula was winging and I have Jason Ross from Train Out Pain Chiropractic to thank for the speedy recovery time, 3) the race capped at 750 racers.... who all took off in a mass start. If the fun atmosphere, the amazing race course, and the amazing race volunteers don't draw you to the Fat Bike Birkie, then the giant wave of fat bikers should! Watching this video blows my mind. Every time.
Back in March the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company sponsored a Barry Roubaix clinic and course pre-ride, in addition to a start and finish preview the day before the big race. Seeing all of my GRBC teammates help out at the group rides and at the clinic, as well as seeing Danielle Musto give tips on first time racers made me really proud to be a part of such an awesome and down to earth group of riders.
At the Barry Roubaix I was able to ride the whole race with my teammate and fellow Skirts in the Dirt co-founder, Julie Whalen. Julie's got the most amazing personality and is a riot to be around - her smile is infectious AND she's an incredibly strong rider. I was really happy when she suggested that we race together while we were both climbing the first three hills of the BR course, and thinking about how we crossed the finish line high-fiving will be one of my favorite race memories for the rest of my life! :)
This was the fourth year in a row I was asked to host a women's mechanics workshop at LadyFest GR, and this was the first year I taught it solo. I love seeing so many people celebrate women (especially women on bikes) in my community and I am so honored to have been asked back year after to teach the workshop. I'm also really, really lucky because GRBC is letting me host a few women's workshops at our Fulton location this spring and summer! May 2 I'll get to teach a basic maintenance workshop at 8am, followed by an urban group ride. Thanks to the organizers of the LadyFest for getting this together!
I also got to be on a panel at Harmony Brewing Company for a She Rides Her Own Way event to discuss how to get more women on bikes in our community. It really is amazing to have so many incredibly women and to have strong support right now. There's a contagious momentum right now in GR and I'm so excited to be a part of it. I'm proud of every woman I know out on a bike!
Then it was my birthday, then it was Dan's birthday.
So caught up in busy days at the bike shop, training, and with life... The Yankee Springs TT really snuck up on me! I was excited for the race because five of the women in the elite category were GRBC teammates! FIVE OF THEM! Typically, the elite category consists of five or so women, but for this race there were 11 pre-registered and I couldn't be more excited/nervous/stoked for race day! Lining up for the time trial was hilarious, we were all wishing eachother good luck and cheering eachother on. I love that about the GRBC ladies and about the other mountain biking women in west Michigan! Marnie Tencate had taken me on her "secret yankee warm up" route and I felt as ready as I could be for the race! The elite women started and finally it was my turn! I took off as hard as I possibly could and tried to maintain that speed for as long as my legs would hold out. At one point I was riding with Kati Krikke and I was dying... I started thinking that maybe I had asthma because I was breathing so hard! No, Jill, you don't have asthma, you're just not used to pushing yourself 110%! I told her I was bonking and she snapped, "No you're not Jill, you're fine." Bahahahaha thanks for the encouragement, Kati!!! (Kati eventually passed me and went on to win the first place in the women's Elite field! Go Kati!)
The Yankee TT was a good trial run for my little Foundry Tomahawk. I spend so much time on my fat bike that there's an adjustment period when I hop on my mountain bike... I have to learn that there's not as much traction as my fat bike tires usually have. BUT this spring I have the Velocity USA Blunt SS rims on my bike, and I think that adjustment period has been significantly shortened! Those rims are amazing!! They're light, durable, and 30mm w i d e ! I had fallen in love with them back in October when I got them on my bike, but was totally reminded of why while zipping through Yankee Springs faster than I had ever ridden the trail before!
Yankee also reminded me that I needed new pedals, new cleats, and that I needed to make sure my hydrapak hose isn't kinked at the start of the race. Those issues have all been resolved in the last week for the Cohutta 100. Dan also put the magic touch on my bike, so I should be good to go! ;)
And now I'm en route to Duck Town, Tennessee for my first NUE race of the year!! I'll be racing in 5 of the series races as my main focus this season. Cohutta 100, Mohican 100, Lumberjack 100, Tatanka 100, and Fool's Gold 100. Eeeeep! How is it time for the Cohutta 100 already?! The forecast is rain, rain, rain and 12,000 feet of climbing. Wowza. Wish me luck!