Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bend USGP Round 2

The good thing about a 2nd day of racing is you can learn from the first and try to improve. My start position (based on random draw) was even worse than the 1st day - dead last row this time - couldn't do anything about that! My goal was to stay clear of any carnage that might happen and not end up on the ground this time. Success. I stayed on the bike, and although I was still pretty close to the back of the pack it was better than before. 

As I was with the pack this time it was frustrating having to slow down going into all the corners as the racers backed up in them. Kind of a new experience for me as I just don't get to race against that many gals locally and I'm usually near the front of the pack. Everyone wants to be ahead of everyone else, so there's a lot more aggression, vying for position than I'm used to too. Sticking with my plan of not ending up on the ground I stayed as calm as I could and patiently waited for things to thin out a bit before starting to make my way up through the pack. 

Slowly by surely I did pick my way through the last quarter of the pack. Each racer I passed was a small success and spurred me on to the next. I'd catch glimpses of team mate Kristi ahead of me, and I would have loved to have bridged up to her, but never got close enough to make it worth that extra effort. Racing felt harder this time - likely fatigue from the previous day, but could also have been that the temperatures had dropped to around freezing and along with the wind chill  I was actually fighting to stay warm too. Now that's a new experience for me during a CX race!

2nd to last lap I made a silly mistake and went down in a tricky loose off-camber section and managed to open up the road rash I had from the crash on day one - ouch! Got back on and didn't lose any places though, just a little ego deflation as it had been a clean race until then. 

I rolled across the finish line in 25th place - not stellar, better than the previous day! By pure placing, technically my worst weekend of racing CX this season, but I can honestly say I've had a great weekend stepping up to the challenge of racing against the nation's top women. It's only by putting oneself through these challenges that we can learn and improve ourselves. I've learnt a lot this season, but still have a lot more to learn.

Think I might be back next season??

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blindsided in Bend

4th row call up not good. Taken out on first lap not good. Dead last not good. Been here before. Stay calm. Work hard. 29th not good, but not bad either. Better luck tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

State of Play

Ok, confession out of the way first. I actually enjoyed this pancake flat, non-muddy, non-technical course in Arlington that hosted the WA State Championships. And no, I'm not saying that because it was designed and built by CycleU-PopCap Team Director Chad Berg (I think I cursed him to his face the week before) but because during a race things change big time.

The speed and chaos of racing makes seemingly innocuous turns much tighter and technical than a pre-ride can reveal. Chicanes breaking up the straight-a-way sections were evil genius - high speed had to be scrubbed quickly for the corner and then immediately you had to be back on the gas to power back up to speed. Rhythm broken, no real rest, and then an anaerobic burst. 

Chad did his utmost to make the sandy section as unrideable as possible (with a rototiller at 6am in the morning) but racers just kept on packing it down to make a 6inch solid line through it. However, racers still went down and the trick was avoiding these obstacles without getting into too much trouble in the softer sand. 

The morning was frosty and socked in with fog, but by the time we made it up to Arlington the sun had seared a nice little hole around the race course so everything was glowing with vitamin D. After last week's mudfest it was nice to know that clean-up wasn't going to take longer than the race itself.

I had a poor start, but team mate Kristi had a great one and got the hole shot going into the first corner which funneled everyone into a tight twist through some trees. I was sitting 3rd wheel when 2nd place went down in the corner. Argh! I really didn't want to join her down there, so slammed on brakes and narrowly averted plowing through her. I don't know if everyone avoided her behind me, but it did cause considerably chaos and as I emerged from the corner I saw that Kristi had a considerable gap on the rest of us. Hmm, my usual response would be to go harder to catch back up, but why help anyone on my wheel to catch back up? I wasn't going to slack off, but I also didn't need to kill myself trying to catch back on. I smiled as Kristi danced away. 

It wasn't long before Kari came around me to go chase Kristi down and I tried to stay on her wheel, but just couldn't match the acceleration in her powerful legs. I did maintain 3rd place though, as no one else could either. Kari eventually made it around Kristi too to take the win, but Kristi (showing some of her old form returning) held on for 2nd and I made it my mission to not allow 4th place gal to catch me. This gal can sprint and there was no way I was going to let her take me at the finish, so half way through the last lap was the time for me to kill myself and get my distance from her. It worked, and I pulled in 3rd for  the States. Good day for the girls!

Ok, so maybe the good race had something to do with me enjoying the course too ;-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

At Evergreen State Fairgrounds today the animals were were let loose from their pens to play in the mud for the SCX finale in Monroe.

All the right ingredients for a great race for me today - sloppy conditions, no mechanical, no technical blunders, feeling good in the legs and head. Just one problem though - faster gals, all wanting the same great race! I gritted my teeth (or was that just grit in my teeth?) to get 3rd place gal in my sights, but came in a few seconds back to take 4th. It was good enough to secure 3rd overall in the series, so no complaints from me!

The pictures tell a much better story of the race than I can......


Sunday, November 20, 2011

No Spring at Sprinker

Quite the opposite of spring in fact, with clear skies overnight leading to a frosty morning and temperatures struggling to get above freezing. Numb fingers and toes were the order of the day for SCX #6 at Sprinker Park, Tacoma.

Despite feeling cruddy this last week, fighting a head cold that just won't go away, I felt optimistic going into today's race. The course was fun, and a couple of changes from last year made it a little twistier and all the sand rideable. They added another run-up, but overall I was fairly confident I could have a good race here.

I took the hole-shot, but by the first run-up I was fading and just couldn't sustain the high intensity required to stay with the leaders. I watched as team mate Kristi left me behind to sit strongly in 2nd. To add insult to injury I dropped a chain. Not once, but twice. It would be nice to blame this for my getting dropped, but in reality I only lost a few seconds each time. I just didn't have any spring in my legs to power through anything.

A couple of laps to go, sitting in 7th, I wasn't losing ground anymore, in fact I was gaining a bit. Seems like although I had no spring, I did still have endurance. I was closing in on Kristi who had taken a hit with some mechanicals. Maybe we could work together to catch 5th place? No such luck though, as I couldn't hold her wheel to start with and then when I did get back up to her she couldn't hold mine. I think mentally she had just had enough. With my legs feeling a little better I did get 5th place in my sights, I fought hard, but she took me by 3 seconds at the end.

Not a good day for me, or any of our team. Crashes, mechanicals, sickness, all took it's toll today. For SCX we all get to drop our worst race, this might just be the one for everyone today. So looking back on the week, today's result shouldn't have been a surprise for me. In an effort to give my body time to recover and shake my head cold, training time totaled an hour and a half this week - all pretty close to the race. Too little, too late.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Haiku in Woodland Park

Hole shot didn't last.
Burped rear tire, dropped chain.
Must visit the pits.

Close to last place now.
Must work hard, can not be last.
Working back up now.

When will the pain stop?
Must work hard, team mate in need.
At last the target.

Will the pain stop soon?
Pass target, into 5th place.
Series win in bag.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have to Re-invent Yourself.....

SCX#4 saw a return to Steilacoom. Things were not looking good. The rain in the forecast did not materialize and it was looking to be another dry fast race for the roadies to excel at. With the return to Steilacoom I also had a return of my cough from a few weeks back. Nothing serious, but not too sure how my lungs would cope. My goal was to not get schooled too badly and hold my position in the series overall.

Over the last 8 weeks I've raced 11 times and not yet tasted victory. This was getting old. But like they say, never give up and good things do come to those who wait. And in my case, learn! So what have I learnt that I managed to put into practice today?

  • 4 weeks of training is at least 4 weeks of training. Feels a damn site better putting out high effort when you've actually practiced it!
  • Nutrition. Yes, you'd think as a Dietitian I'd have this dialed in, but I have been struggling with timing for a 1:30 start - too late for a big breakfast to last, too early to eat lunch. I finally figured out a strategy.
  • Move up as quickly through the men as possible. They can't help you and will only lose you seconds if you hesitate.
  • Keep your competition in site. It's a mental game really, if you have a bunny to chase you work harder to catch up. 
  • Use your gears! It's way easier to accelerate out of a corner in the correct gear - duh!
  • Stay focused. Knowing where you are in the race and that you are on the last lap means you can take advantage of situations that present themselves. Today I was in 2nd until the last lap. Took the lead in the last lap hoping to get a gap, but got passed again close to the end. That's all it took. I locked on to her wheel and rode it to the pavement before the finish line. I'd been here before and it was going to happen again. I gave it everything to get past her and finally got my win of the season. By 6 inches maybe, at tops!

This dry patch is over, and I'm happy to be able to re-invent myself as a roadie who likes dry courses and sprint finishes ;-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Finally Some Real Cyclocross Racing!

SCX pulled together something pretty special today at Enumclaw Fairgrounds. Great venue, great course design and finally some co-operative weather! So how do you know when it's been a good CX race?

You know it's been a good CX race when :-

  • The inside of your kit is as muddy as the outside by the end.

  • Your mechanic works harder during the race than the racers.

  • You go down a couple of times but still get back up.

  • There's free beer.

  • There's a guy in nothing but gold boxer shorts at the top of the run-up making completely inappropriate comments to all the passing girls (see above).

  • The run-up gives you vertigo at the top.

  • A solid 3rd place (with no sprint finish to worry about) puts you in 3rd overall in the series.

  • Even better, a teammate wins his first race of the season (way to go Sean!)

  • Clean up at the end takes longer than the race itself.

  • You seriously start to consider buying shares in Oxyclean when doing the laundry.

Did I mention this was a muddy one?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Drag Racing in Seattle

Keeping this short today as I need to recover for tomorrow's race. Yes, I have my feet up and ice on my neck in preparation, but my brain needs to recover too. Turns out I'm just not very smart......

Today's MFG#5 race was at Magnuson Park - an unforgiving flat power course with a lot of straight-a-ways making it a lot like a drag race. Or was that the costumes the racers had donned for Halloween? I'm easily confused....

Not a great 1st lap for me as I found myself wallowing in 8th place at one point. Didn't think it was going to be my day, but somehow managed to claw my way back through the pack and into 3rd place. Couple laps to go I was on the wheel of 2nd place gal and we had the lead gal in our sights. Maybe we'd catch her? A misplaced chain in the muddy section gave us our opportunity and we slid on past her. I pulled around into the lead and made my 1st mistake. Thinking we had another lap to go I wasn't fully cognizant of needing to go all out for a sprint finish. The other gal was and fully stomped on me leaving me for 2nd place. To be honest I don't think I could have out sprinted her anyway and she fully deserved the win. That wasn't my dumb move though. Because I sat up when I realized she was going to win I failed to observe just how close 3rd place had got to me. I was in fact oblivious until I checked the results - only 2 seconds ahead of 3rd place - now that's just not very smart! Need to rest my brain now for tomorrow........

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Merry-Go-Round at Marymoor

I wasn't thrilled at the thought of another Marymoor race, but it was MFG's turn to visit the park, so another  Mary-go-round it was to be. Course was set up with less tricky turns, but rain the previous few days made for a slicker encounter this time around. 

My race was pretty smooth, holding 2nd place pretty much the entire race. Lead gal was in my sights for a couple of laps but I just couldn't stay with her. 3rd place gal was close enough to put pressure on me the entire race, so I had to concentrate to not let up at any point. It helped to have a cheering squad to keep me focused in this mission! It certainly felt a ton better racing after being well enough to put in some descent training days this week - not such a shock to the system! Happy with my 2nd place finish which firms up my 2nd place overall in the series. Not so happy that my team mate Kristi broke her chain on the first lap  and spent the entire race chasing back on. It would have been good to have some company on those long straight-a-ways!

Couple of goals achieved this week - I treated every guy ahead of me as a target to pass rather than an impediment to my progress and I didn't fear the barriers every lap (just a couple.)

Really happy I didn't have to pit this week - I would have felt terrible getting help from Justin with his broken ribs. Turns out our mechanic can't hold his drink. And I mean that quite literally. Carrying his soon to be bottled home made hard cider down some steps he slipped and ended up in ER. And no, I don't think  the docs believed the alcoholic smell from his cider drenched clothes didn't have anything to do with the fall. And the worst part of it all was there was nothing left to drown his sorrows! Thanks for being there for us today Justin!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sandy Silver Lake

SCX stop #3 in Everett was a way more interesting course for the mountain bikers among us. Although I was pretty terrified of what the sandy section would hold for us each lap, I was pretty happy that we finally had a technically more challenging course.

My route through the sandy sections changed each lap, as either I didn't like how it felt the last time through or there was carnage in front of me which made me change my plan of attack. Even good bike handlers struggled though the really deep stuff, and only sheer leg power could really pull you through. I can honestly say I didn't find that ever elusive perfect line, I undoubtedly lost time there and it hurt each and every lap. The only positive thing I can say about my performance is that at least I didn't biff it and eat sand. Although riding the firmer packed line close to the lake was fast, getting down there and back up took its toll and ended up being slower. I did enjoy the brief reprieve of solid (ish) ground though!

Firmer ground, but longer route

I think I was in 5th coming out of the sand the first time, but made it up into 2nd place when some gals clashed and took each other down in a different sandy section. My team mate Kristi was battling it out for 3rd place when she realized if she continued hard she'd just pull 4th place gal up to me. She wasn't prepared to do that so let her pull around to fight on her own to catch me (thanks Kristi!) Good strategy for the team, but I just couldn't hold her off when she got a 2nd wind and took me middle of the way through the last lap - DAMN! 3rd place by 2 seconds - ouch! Kristi was only a few more seconds back and took 4th, so a very successful day for the team.

When places are split by seconds, one starts to think of all the little mistakes you make that lose those precious seconds. Apart from the obvious mistakes I made in the sandy sections, I just wasn't aggressive enough passing the guys that we have to work through. Not that they were deliberately blocking, but I just held back too long. To be worked on next week......

Thanks Team!

Monday, October 10, 2011


SCX race #2 at Fort Steilacoom and it was my turn to host the bugs that have been going around. Knew I was getting sick at the beginning of the week so was prepared to feel crappy during the race.  I was slow to start and I watched 6 gals shoot off in front of me. One of whom was my team mate Kristi, so I was happy for her to be finally where she belongs.  I knew I had no real high end capacity and it took me a few laps to warm up, but it turned out that my legs were still pretty strong and they made up for the shortfall in my lung capacity. I could grind up the short climbs and then recover on the fast descents.

I eventually caught up to Kristi, enjoyed a brief respite on her wheel, and hoped we could finally be in a position to work together. Alas it was not to be as Kristi was fading, but being the ever supportive team mate encouraged me to to keep going. She knew we weren't so far off the leaders and thought I stood a chance of catching them. I wasn't so savvy as to our relative position, so just took this as her just being positive and encouraging. Turns out I was only 20ish seconds back on 3rd place, and although I don't think I could have made up the gap, I certainly wasn't sucking as much as I thought I was, so was pretty happy with my 4th place finish.

Now for that struggle between resting to get well, but not losing fitness due to lack of training......

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Naughty in North Bend

Who could ask for more from a race backdrop than that of Mt. Si at the MFG #3?

Justin in the pits.

The course itself was pretty much the complete antithesis of mountainous though - alas, another flat power course. Didn't have great hopes of doing well on this course, but a naughty little treat from Shimano was in store today as the team got to ride some seriously sexy new DuraAce carbon tubular wheels, so things were looking substantially better. Just couldn't resist using them, so didn't take much convincing to break the rule of not trying anything new on race day. Grippy in the corners and easy to get up to speed, they couldn't have been more perfect for this course, because they propelled me to an unexpected 2nd place finish. Or maybe it was the 2nd Surge energy gel that I consumed before the race (with more caffeine than I'm used to in a month)? Or maybe it was improving my barriers? Or maybe it was the added incentive of having my mum watching me race? Who knows? What I do know is I may be a little addicted to at least one of those components now!

 Kristi & Mel Post Race.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Marymoor Mayhem SCX #1

The opening race of the Seattle Cyclocross Series and we almost got a real cyclocross race! Overnight rain hadn't made much of an impact on a bone-dry course, and distinctly blue skies greeted early racers, but black foreboding clouds soon rolled in before our race went off. Waiting at the start line the skies opened and down came the rain. The delay to start of the race ensured our bodies had got nicely chilled before we actually started. It was beginning to feel like cyclocross!

I had a good start, but couldn't hold 2nd for long and somewhere in the choas of catching up with men that had gone off before us I was relegated to 4th place. The wind that had brought the rain in meant that finding shelter behind other racers was essential if one wanted to rest at all. I was thankful that I didn't get blown into the railings along the velodrome like the guy in front of me did and I didn't get tangled in the ever deteriorating course tape that was flapping around us like streamers at Xmas.

I don't remember the rain stopping, but I do remember it getting hotter and hotter with each lap as the sun came back out to ensure that the course remained dry. Conditions were not going to be in my favor and as hard as I tried, 4th was it for me for the rest of the race......

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rinse and Repeat.....

2nd day of the weekend was the Rapha-Focus GP. Same venue (Lake Sammamish State Park), same faces, same course, just a little precipitation to spice things up a bit. Alas, not quite enough though. The bone dry course of the day before was really only nicely dampened down. Corners were a little slicker over the roots, but nothing to really get in the way. The sandy section which should have improved with the rain by being more compacted, was in worse shape, probably from the sheer volume of traffic that had been churning it up.

Luck was on my side for this race as I managed to get a 2nd line starting position. I was determined to make the most of it and decided just to go all out and hang on until I got spat off the back of the leading ladies. It was a good plan because my position going into the first few corners meant I didn't run into the same log jams early on. As the leading ladies quickly sped off I was then left to get into my own rhythm and tried to hold my position as long as I could. Worked well for a few laps, but soon 15th slipped to 16th to 17th. I was ok with that, but then fatigue set in and silly mistakes crept in. My 2nd to last lap through the sand pit was the final straw. A huge endo into the crater that had formed at the end of the ramp sent me over the bars and in a tangled mess with my bike. I lost a couple more spots there.

I figured these gals had been behind me so I'd be able to catch back up. No such luck. It took me almost half a lap to figure I'd mashed my shift/brake levers so badly that I couldn't really brake or shift properly. I didn't know whether to be excited or terrified at the prospect of having to pit for my first time ever. Coming around the corner into the pits I gave a wave, to warn Justin (our mechanic) that I was a damsel in distress and coming in. Fresh bike hand-off was a success, although my re-mount wasn't so pretty. I was going again though and on my final lap. Never did catch the gals that had passed me, and ended up staying on my own right up to the finish line for 19th place. Three places up on yesterday.

So what did I learn?

1) A good start can make a huge difference.
2) You have to battle for the entire race.

3) Slightly damp, fast, flat courses don't suit my skill set.
4) Running in sand sucks, but endoing is even worse.

5) You can't practice barriers at speed in your sleep the night before the race.

6) Cheering crowds are awesome, but intimidating at the same time (especially when you endo in a sandpit!)

Star-Studded Starcrossed

Worst result racing EVER! 22nd place, but completely happy! As a UCI event, Starcrossed brings a much bigger field than I'm used to and even a few international stars like the French and Czech National champions came out to play. So what's a newbie to elite cyclocross to do? Well, be happy to not be lapped, and learn for the next race.

So what did I learn?

1) You get gapped pretty quickly if you are not aggressive from the start.
2) You have to battle the entire race for position.
3) Dry, fast, flat course definitely doesn't suit my skill set.
4) Running through sand sucks.

5) Need to actually practice jumping barriers at speed.

6) Cheering crowds of spectators are awesome, but intimidating at the same time (especially past the beer garden over the barriers!)

Praying for rain for tomorrow's race - that'll change things up a bit......

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MFG #1 Kick-Off Cross

Gulp, 1st race of the season. I really didn't know how my body was going to respond to Sunday's CX race at Big Finn Hill (MFG #1). No race efforts for me since July and it was a scorching hot day. Go figure, Seattle had a pathetic summer, but the day CX season starts we get temperatures in the 80's and 90's. I melt in the heat, so this was going to be quite the challenge for me.

My goal for the day? Be conservative and not to die from heat exhaustion! My new team's tent provided much needed shade to warm up in though, so things were looking ok whilst warming up on the trainer. I stayed as hydrated as I could and stayed cool with a wash cloth soaked in ice cold water around my neck. Delicious! So delicious in fact that I took it to the start line with me. I intended to discard it at the start line, but just could bring myself to remove it from my neck. Was this going to become my new security blanket? I tucked it into my sports bra and hoped it would hang in there for the race. I was breaking the first rule of racing - never do anything new or unplanned during a race. I had visions of the wash cloth falling out and getting lodged in my rear wheel, causing a spectacular crash. This wouldn't be a good start on the new team. I couldn't work out whether the gals around me were watching me with envy or pity as I poured the last of my water on the cloth, giving it one last soaking. Were they rolling their eyes or were they pleading with someone to give them one too?

And we were off. My plan to stay conservative went out the window and I tried to stay with the lead women as they shot off the front. It didn't take long for the lead 3 gals to gap me, but I was leading the chase group and not feeling too out of my depth. My team mate Kristi was right behind me, so we were in a perfect position to be able to work together to attempt to reel them in later. That's what I thought right before she took a tumble in a loose section through the woods. Damn! Already injured from last week, I hoped she was going to be ok. I put my head down and kept going knowing she was the only one who could take care of her situation.

My new friend (my wash cloth) was good company through the race and we didn't have any abandonment issues (ie. no nasty accidents). As cool (or should that be uncool?) as I was with my new friend I hadn't thought about putting a water bottle cage on my bike so I could take a water bottle. Usually, CX is so short that drinking isn't necessary and carrying a bike with a cage and bottle is awkward, so it's just not done right? Big mistake! It seemed like not only my mouth dried out completely, but my lungs too! So dry in fact, that when I tried to make a friendly passing shout out to racers I was passing through, nothing but hot air came out. Literally, not figuratively that is. My voice had gone and nothing but hot dry air came out! Team mechanic Justin could see things were getting dry offered a bottle through the pit. Arrgh, didn't see it until too late. I said 'next time around' although I don't know whether any sound came out and just hoped Justin would offer it again. He did. Hero! The best tasting water ever! Although only a sip before I had to discard it before heading into the woods. Don't ask why I didn't think about putting it in my pocket - duh!

I hung on to my position through the race, but I never did catch the lead 3 women, although I did make up one place when one gal flatted and had to make a pit stop. I'll take a 3rd place however I can get it! Goal achieved - I didn't die of heat exhaustion and had a bonus of a surprisingly good start to the season. Kristi had got back on her bike and worked her way back through the field to a 4th place after her crash. She's a trooper and an inspiration.

Cycle U-PopCap Cyclocross Team

In case I was still in any doubt that I hadn't actually retired from racing then this was the final clue. A call from the Cycle U-PopCap team director inviting me to join their new team was unexpected, but gave me the prod I needed to solidify my racing intentions for the season. I loved the offer of joining a small team of dedicated elite racers and having a little more support at the races, but it would come at a price - getting serious about CX and committing to a crazy race schedule that would have me racing every weekend from September through mid-December. I didn't commit until I'd passed it by Chris (knowing my racing impacts him too) , but needless to say, Chris was all for it.

So, a new adventure begins. Check out the Cycle U-PopCap Team Blog

Cycle U is a well respected coaching and training school and cycling store in Seattle.

PopCap is a hugely successful gaming company. A huge thank you to both companies for their support this season.

It's Been a While Since My Last Confession.......

Even I was shocked when I realized it's been over 2 years since my last blog. What happened? Well, like all good addicts I tried to kick the habit. Racing had got a little stale for me and I started telling friends and family I'd retired from racing and was enjoying all the extra time I had on my hands again. I lied. What more can I say?

2010 proved to be a turning point for me in racing. As I wasn't exactly training, multi-day stage racing was out for me, so I dabbled in a few local mountain bike races, enjoyed the summer riding as much singletrack as possible, then got this crazy idea that racing a cyclocross (CX) season in the fall would be fun. It would be low-key because I'd have to start as a category 3 racer and there would be no expectations (from myself) of a particular placement. It went well. What more can I say?

By the middle of the season I'd upgraded to category 1 and managed to squeak a 2nd place overall in the local CX series (SCX - Seattle Cyclocross). At the masters nationals in Bend, OR I was thoroughly delighted with an 8th place finish.

And what was the best part of all of this? Racing was FUN again! Even though I kept up the pretense that I'd retired from racing (CX didn't really count right?) I headed into 2011 knowing that I hadn't kicked the habit one little bit. I stayed fit by racing the local WA mountain bike series during the spring and summer, enjoyed some epic mountain bike rides with friends and now CX season is upon us again. I'm excited.