Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 in Review / heading to Fat Pursuit!!!

Hope everyone had as great of a holiday as these two had!

I am having all of the feelings right meow.

The 45nrth crew is the best!
In 2016, I spent over 5,000 miles exploring the most fun gravel, single-track, fire roads, groomed fat bike trails, secret trail, forest service roads, and city streets. Before making you read through my favorite moments of 2016, check out what's going on this weekend:

I'll be traveling solo (which is terrifying, actually) to Idaho for Fat Pursuit!!!! I'm really geeked because I get to share a cabin with some amazing cyclists that I've met through fat bikes! Riding in a beautiful place I've never ridden with some good buds I've made from doing winter ultras... YESSSS!!!!!!!!

Check out the vimeo about the Fat Pursuit here.

This year is the year of big ass rides. The goal is to prep for even bigger rides in 2018! (#ITIorBust)

To whip my butt into shape, I'll be racing 200 miles in the Fat Pursuit! I'm so stoked and nervous for this race!! Stoked because I've never explored in that area before, because I've never been so close to Yellowstone or the Tetons, because I've never raced at elevation, because I've never traveled so far away from home alone before, and so many thousands of other reasons! Nervous for all of the same. It's really exciting to be in over your head and to trek into the unknown. I have no idea what to expect and I know it's going to be hard... but I also know it's going to be awesome!!!

I have a spot tracker! Follow Lumpy to check out how I'm doing! All racers are required to use GPS tracking at Fat Pursuit, so it should make for an exciting internet dot-watching race!!!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh this doesn't seem real. I leave Thursday morning! This adventure is going to be amazing!

April Morgan, myself, Chelsea Strate.
in Marquette <3

Reflecting back on all of 2016 and all of the kindness, support, and encouragement that I experienced, I'm in awe. So much awe. I'm humbled, I'm overwhelmed, and I feel like the most loved girl in the whole world! Starting out 2016 with the Arrowhead 135 was definitely a high point of the year my life. The whole year took me on a pretty wild ride!

It's been a real long time since I've written a blog post. I'm going to try to do justice to the last 10 months. The Birkie is the last race of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series  and I can't believe I haven't updated this thing since before then. Woof.

After getting hilariously lost out on a frozen lake after the Birkie in March with my 45nrth teammates, Matt Acker and Brian Geshel, this is how the year has gone:

Official Katy Batdorff engagement photo

Official Bill Fartindale engagement photo

1) March 21st. Dan proposed to me on the first day of Spring! Dan has been my biggest fan since we met working at Grand Rapids Bicycle Company. He is my best friend, he makes me laugh, he makes me want to get shit done, he makes me feel fierce and strong, and he makes me want to learn as much as I can learn. Spending the rest of my life with him is not enough and there is not enough time in the world to adventure everywhere I want to adventure with him. Sappy sentiments over. I'm sorry to have put you through that.

GRBC has demos - try 'em out!

2) April 2nd. I raced the Lowell 50 spring edition on a Cannondale Slate demo from the shop. The same weekend that I found out my Grandma's partner had died. A rainy and cold race was definitely fitting for the overall vibe of the weekend. That race beat me up and the whole weekend beat me up. Maybe it was the recent engagement between Dan and I that tore me up about it. Maybe it was the fact that my Grandma had been married twice before she met the love of her life and it broke my heart that she had lost him. Either way, I was pretty bummed about it. I needed something unfamiliar and some mud to help me process the whole thang. Bikes are good like that. I hope that my Grandma has something in her life that helps her to put things into perspective and to put her mind at ease. She's an amazing lady.

Pizza crit for my birthday

3) April 16th. We skipped the Barry Roubaix to go bike-packing for Dan's birthday. I was super sad to have missed the BRX, because it is always a ton of fun, and am super looking forward to racing it this year!!!!! We had a rad time bike-packing through parts of the Manistee National Forest, though, and getting lost and having an adventure was most definitely the right choice!

Happy birthday, Dan!

4) May-ish. I got a promotion at Grand Rapids Bicycle Company! I no longer do social media, events, the website, or the email newsletter. Scratch that, I still do the newsletter. (email me to join if you're not already on the list!) I still help with events. However, NOW, I get to manage the Fulton location! So the events that I help with are incredibly biased in that they're held at my favorite shop! (Jen took over Facebook and Instagram, and she's the best at it!!!)

A little loopy from Active Commute Day

It was a lot of work in the beginning. I've never managed before (other than the student-run radio station at Grand Valley State University a THOUSAND years ago! - okay, not that long ago.) and it has definitely been a work in progress. I am so thankful for Tom Smith and Chris D's patience in giving me the keys to the shop and to the amazing, talented, bad-ass staff that I get to work with. Not everyone can say that they work with their husband and awesome friends and I am most definitely the luckiest bike shop employee in the whole freaking world!

#nerds at the Boyne Highlands

4) May 21st. Zoo-de-Mack with the family. Fun, social ride! My dad always rallies to get a group of family together for this ride and I absolutely love going! We get into shenanigans and it's always a hoot. My sister fielded wedding questions and created a buffer. Wedding questions are stressful. I'm glad she was there to defer any/all questions and to keep Dan and I focusing on goofing off. After finishing our ride, Dan and I drove to the Jordan River Valley Trail for some car-camping, fishing, and exploring. I found a teepee in the woods. Then I saw Dan in the river without a shirt on. It ruled!

Another place we need to go back to,

5) June 18th. Dan's nephew got married near Indianapolis. It was a beautiful wedding! We rode Brown County. Dan's family is amazing and riding Brown County was challenging and such a blast to ride! Technical stuff, especially technical climbs, is still one of the things that I struggle with. I definitely got some climbing Brown County bucks on this trip!

6) August 20th. I raced the X100 in Traverse City for the first time ever and I will most definitely be back!!! I got to stay with the Doerr family at their cabin near Timber Ridge Resort and am so, so, so, so, (a thousand so's) glad that I've become friends through racing with Megan Doerr!!! Megan is funny, smart, and super freaking fast (and getting faster!!!) and being able to rally with her was amazing! I love racing so much because of all of the strong and amazing women I get to meet in the sport, and Megan is most definitely one of my absolute favorites! She is also one who will undoubtedly kick my ass over and over again, whether we're riding for funsies or racing. Becoming better friends with her this year has definitely been one of the highlights.

Women's podium at the X100

I just got sappy again, I apologize.

Julie Whalen, myself, Sophie Kinkle

Petra and I raced in the Double Diva category! Hilarious!
7) August 28th. Skirts in the Dirt at Cannonsburg Ski Hill. Heads up: sap-city, USA! Super sappy. We're talking suuuuuper-duper sappy: In our third year of organizing Skirts in the Dirt, a women's only mountain bike race, we saw so many women improving on their mountain biking skills! We saw incredible support from Grand Rapids Bicycle Company, Cannonsburg Ski Hill, the mountain biking community, other sponsors, and from all of the folks that came to the race! Leading up to race day is always incredibly stressful. I feel like myself, Julie Whalen, Danielle Musto, and Sarah Jaromin are always running around like mad spending more than 24 hours a day (how is that possible?!) getting last-minute stuff figured out. Come race day we are always sleep-deprived, exhausted, and incredibly, incredibly in-love with the whole event. I am so proud of seeing all of the first-time racers cross the finish line with smiles on their faces and am really looking forward to Skirts in the Dirt 2017!!!!! (Sunday, August 20th, 2017 FYI - save the date!)

Skirts in the Dirt pre-ride and clinic

8) September 30th. We went on the Fargo Sub-48 at the end of September and got to spend more time bike-packing through Manistee National Forest! It's absolutely beautiful up there and being able to peruse around with some cycling friends was exactly what Dan and I need to relax from all of the stress of wedding planning! Melissa Werkman got the well-deserving nick-name "Tank". Dave and Petra Taggart, Dan and myself, Tank, and our friend Andy aka "Dozer" got incredibly lost. (After having gotten lost in the woods the night before with Dan and Dozer trying to light off fireworks in the rain.) We ate gas station pizza, we cheered each other on, we laughed hysterically at being so off of the map that we were in the Salsa logo, and we rolled into camp near nightfall, dinging our bells, while receiving a standing ovation from all of the other riders, who had just finished eating tacos. Hilarious! I am so excited to do this ride year after year!

Dozer and Dan. I wish Dan were shirtless...

9) October 8th. Dan and I got married. More sappiness. Most fun day of my life. Most of our favorite humans in the entire world were there. It meant a lot, especially from those who traveled from out of state to Grand Rapids to give us hugs. Knowing that people were gathered just to be sappy with us was pretty surreal. I'll never experience anything like that ever again. I want to blow up all of the photos from the wedding and display them everywhere in the house forever. Nobody told me getting married would make me this sappy!

Thank you so much to Katy Batdorff photography for capturing the best moments.

Side note: Dan made that bad ass arch!

So many awesome people in one place!

My favorite tree at Cannonsburg.

Our honeymoon turned into a mountain biking/exploring/hiking/adventure-a-thon and it was a complete surprise! I had thought we were going to spend a week and a half camping up north (which would have still been AWESOME). Instead, Dan whipped this trip up:

Poison Spider's shuttle to Burros Pass

So much stoke!


Arches National Park

Kokopelli trail

I want to go back!

10) Despite having a pretty relaxed year (in terms of bike racing) everything else was pretty busy. Sadly, I didn't have as many miles on my bike as I wanted and I was feeling a little anxious because of it. Riding up to Traverse City with Danielle Musto and Julie Whalen was exactly what the doctor  ordered! Although our electronics died and we had gotten a little lot lost, it was one of the best bike rides I have been on! We left Danielle's house at around 3am and hauled straight up to the Iceman expo in one day! Over 150 miles in one straight shoot! Definitely the longest ride I had been on ever! The fun didn't stop there: we got to help Tank at the IMBA booth at the expo and I won the women's fat bike category at the Iceman! My dad raced on his fat bike for the second year in a row. Like the Zoo-de-Mack, the Iceman is now becoming a family tradition!

So proud of my dad for finishing his 2nd Iceman! Beist!

midway from GR to TC!

So many other incredible things happened in 2016. Personally, it was a pretty good year. There are a lot of other things going on out there that aren't so heart-warming. Being surrounded by such incredible humans makes life pretty dang great. I'll try to keep things less sappy in 2017, I swear! ;)

Courtney Joesel and I enjoying Art Prize via bike!

Huge thanks to the following:

Dan. My parents. My friends and family. All of my coworkers. The folks that serve on the board of directors for the WMMBA. These rad companies: 45NRTH. Grand Rapids Bicycle Company. GR Dog Adventures. Tank and Petra at Moxie Wild. Velocity USA. NiteRider. I'm humbled to ride with some of the most fun people in the entire world and it's awesome to be friends with all of you!

Tank makes an emergency shelter

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