Thursday, January 7, 2016

Chasing the Solstice, Running Away from a Cold

With December leading up to the Solstice Chase, the first race of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series, I could feel myself getting a little sick. It’s been relatively “warm” in Michigan, and although I love the snow and the cold, it was sort of nice to not have to worry about my water freezing or whether or not the gravel roads would be covered in ice. Sure, it rained a little bit, but nevertheless my lungs felt warm and I felt like I was in a pretty good spot in my winter training. Everyone at work seemed to be getting sick and I was desperate to not catch what they had. I started taking two, sometimes three, packets of Emergen-C a day, I started sleeping more, I started eating more greens and drinking more water, and I kept training.

Danielle, our friend Steve Bartzen, and I carpooled out to St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin for the Solstice Chase. The three of us had talked about how we hadn’t gotten sick yet, the measures we were taking to make sure we weren’t getting sick, we talked about avoiding our friends who were sick, and how excited we were for Christmas, New Years, and for fat biking all winter long! Bartzen was thinking of adopting a dog, and truthfully a lot of the drive was finding adoptable dogs at the Humane Society or the Kent County Animal Shelter and showing them to Bartzen, ooing and awing and imagining how great it would be to give a pup a home for the holidays. (He has since adopted Pezzo, an adorable pittie mix and they are inseparable!)

Selfie game was tight this trip.
The cold weather once we stepped out of the van in Wisconsin felt like a slap on the face! It was about 7 degrees and it felt SO cold! With a shocked expression, I looked at Danielle and said, “If THIS is cold, how am I going to do Arrowhead?!” We both started laughing nervously and ran back to the van.
Photo by Chelsea Strate
There wasn’t a lot of snow for the Solstice Chase, but it still felt like a fat bike race because of the cold temperature, because of the atmosphere at Big Rock Creek Retreat (big, shaggy cows, bonfires, white lights, etc.) and because of nearly 300 fat bikers showing up for the race! It seems at the start of every winter I have forgotten how to dress myself for the first race. I’ve been doing a lot of training for long-distance stuff, and the issue I ran in to last year at this same exact race was overdressing. I wind up riding faster than I train, exerting more effort than I’m used to, and getting drenched in sweat. Did that happen this year at the Solstice Chase? Yep! I nearly had it this year, I was in a long sleeve base-layer, a long sleeve thermal jersey, and a wind-stopper vest with my 45nrth greazy cap when I looked around and saw that everyone else was wearing more… so I ditched the vest and thermal, put on my heavier jacket and added a buff… It wasn’t long after the first couple of hills that I regretted that decision! Everyone’s internal temperatures run different, and I should have known better! By time the race was over and I took my jacket off to change in to dry clothes, my wool base-layer was sopping wet with sweat and steaming! I should have gone with my gut decision! Despite over dressing, I was really, really happy with how I did at the Solstice Chase! I got to chase after Jenna Rinehart, April Morgan, Danielle Musto, and Kyia Anderson…all super-fast, super great ladies! There was a total of 23 women who did this race, and I am so excited about how many strong, awesome women were there! It made me so happy to see so many friends there! Huge difference from the first year at the Solstice Chase when there were only 3 women on the long course! I also caught a glimpse of Scott Patterson, from 45nrth, just as I was climbing the last hill of the race and tried so hard to catch him! Alas, I couldn’t catch that speedy guy. Maybe next time. ;)

You can find full results here.

Photo from Solstice Chase
Huge thanks to Tom Morgan for giving me Danielle’s insulated water bottle with CarboRocket in it for my second lap! Despite having an insulated hose, all of the water in my hydrapak froze. Chelsea Strate suggested I try shoving the hose in my jacket to thaw it out, so on a big climb I hopped off the bike and shoved it in there. It never unfroze. So when Tom handed a bottle in my direction I was surprised, but excited, and then also worried that Danielle would need her water! Tom assured me she didn’t want it…so I took it, thinking, “Thanks, teammate!” Apparently Danielle had told Tom she didn’t want it on her first lap, so he assumed it was fair game, but as she came through again for the second half of the last loop… she reached for it and he was so, so sorry! Whoops! (I’ll bring you an extra bottle next time, Danielle! Thanks again, Tom!!!) 

We hung out a little while after the Solstice Chase and took off to drive straight back home. Blech! There were some things we wanted to get to on Sunday and we theorized that waking up in our own beds would let us be more productive. So we loaded up and started driving… and then we saw a black Ford Transit behind us… It was Matt Acker and Jenny Scott! Danielle started driving slowly and I started unbuckling my pants. Steve started giggling uncontrollably in the back seat. We hit a passing lane and took the left-hand side… Matt and Jenny started to pass us on the right. BOOM! I got them! Moon-city USA!! It wasn’t long until I had gotten some texts from Jenny… “Nice fake butt!” “Emily looks good!” “Do you want to stop for pizza in 15 minutes?” I love traveling to races to meet up with friends who don’t live in the area, but I also love traveling to races because I get to do shenanigans with my friends from home! We stopped at a small-town pizza place and ordered some food with those two, and then headed out for the trek back home. 

Photo and costume compliments of Jenny Scott
Sunday afternoon, Danielle and I, and our friend - the head trail coordinator for the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance - Ben met with the Dirty Herd running group at Robinette’s Apple Orchard. We wanted to start cross training…but also wanted to meet the people who had been maintaining the trail at Robinette’s to see how we could help. Turns out we had shown up to the Dirty Herd’s annual Eggnog run, and some runners were drinking an entire quart of eggnog out on the trail. We were dressed to impress, so obviously the three of us couldn’t say no! Five miles and a bazillion calories later, we were told that we needed to sprint to the finish. You can imagine how that went. So in case anyone was wondering, the best way to make friends with runners is to run with them and to make big, big fools out of yourselves.  ;)

Please... no more eggnog!

Then there was Christmas. Then Jenny Scott had a birthday pub-crawl bike ride. Then it was New Year’s Eve and the Hair of the Dog Ride on New Year’s Day. Pair all of that with training and you have a recipe for one thing: congestion in your entire face. Despite doing my best to keep my immune system bumping I caught the cold that everyone else has had. Doh! Too much brapping. L

This tree was too big for my folding saw.
2 riders 1 bike // Hair of the Dog mid-ride-race // pic by Jenny Scott
Bike Parking
Scouting land for fat bike trail
Thanks to Jeffrey, we learned what "Horsemanning" is
"This counts as a bivvy, right?"
(Thanks for the meme, Scott Spoo)
So I sit here, on the couch with a space heater on me, surrounded by orange juice, tea, water, cranberry juice, and ginger ale, covered in blankets. I was supposed to do two long rides this week fully loaded as a last training push for the Arrowhead 135… buuuut I took extra naps and got ahead on doing some computer work. Doh!  If I can kick this thing by the weekend then I’ll do the long rides Monday and Tuesday and I should still be fine. Good luck to everyone racing the Tuscobia 150 this weekend! Feel better, everyone out there who has a cold! Fingers crossed I kick this crud!
Race #2 of the GLBFS, the Farmhand Fat Bike Race is next weekend!
Are you ready? My dad and sister are! ;)

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