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Feeling Like a Proud Mama.

Friday night I just could not sleep. I tossed and turned and wondered, have they done enough?

On Saturday June 3rd, I had three athletes racing the same race – the Dirty Kanza 200 in Emporia, Kansas. This race is the mack-daddy of gravel races and is notorious for its mud bogs and water crossings. All three men had trained very hard for this race and all had to face their own demons as they put in the hours and the efforts necessary to make it to the starting line. I did my best as their coach to get them there. I tried to push them to the edge of their comfort level without leaving them burned out or injured. They all made to the starting line, which was a win for me, but now the rest was up to them.

Since I was getting up and eating breakfast a couple of hours after the race start, I was able to see that all three had made it through checkpoint 1. Okay, good, I thought. I also figured this would be the fastest they would ride during the entire race. Now, it was just a matter of how much they would slow down and how well they could maintain that speed. The weather was good, the course was dry. Things were looking great for everyone.

All throughout the day, I obsessed over the DK 200 mobile application watching and waiting for the boys to come through. And one by one they did at each checkpoint. I knew they would go through dark places, but I tried to coach them that it is the mental toughness that will see them through. They were all fit, fresh and ready but the voices inside their own heads are the ones they needed to be the most afraid of.

As day turned to evening I continued to watch and then WAM! – the man pictured above (4th place in the men’s 40-45 age group) crossed the line. Oh my gosh! I could not be happier or prouder of his effort: 33rd out of 1000 riders. And then to my surprise, not an hour later, I get a facetime call. Sure enough, it’s him. He called ME – his coach, before anyone else; Why? Because he was thrilled and he knew I would get it. I knew every challenge he faced, the weekends he missed with his family riding and the travel he had to do for his job that kept him off the bike.

He called me because I knew what that day meant for him and I’ll never forget it.

My other two athletes also finished incredibly well. One guy taking 80th overall (who hasn’t raced in over five years) and has completely transformed his fitness over the past seven months. He has had to fight through a lot of pain with his back and struggled with the longevity of the training and all of the set workouts. But, he has an iron spirit and isn’t afraid to lay it all out there. Even though his expectations might exceed his current racing level, I have no doubt he will continue to grow as an endurance racer and be incredibly successful.

Another of my athletes came in the top 30% and beating last years’ time by 1.5 hours. He was so fantastic to coach. He did every workout exactly as asked and never complained. He loved the structure and the confidence that came with getting stronger and knowing it. He knew he was in better shape, more rested and ready to race. He gave it his all and succeed in beating his time by a significant margin. I just love coaching him and can’t wait to see where he can go.

As each of them finished I experienced joy, relief and a bit of sadness as I suspected that two of them would not need my services any longer. I’ll miss writing their schedules and checking their workouts. But most of all, I’ll miss watching them grow as athletes and ultimately as people. Sport teaches us so much about ourselves.

I hope their life’s journeys are great ones both on and off the gravel.



What does it mean to suffer? I thought it meant slogging through 100 mile bike races in the raging heat and the pouring rain. I thought it meant putting in the hard time on the bike riding hour upon hour before dawn, in the single digit cold or the 90 degree Colorado sunshine.

But oh how wrong I was. Suffering is pain, but not the pain you feel on your bike when you are giving it everything you’ve got. Suffering is not being able to walk, not being able to put any weight on your leg without a stabbing pain that radiates throughout your whole body. Suffering is taking 100mg of Oxycotin just to be able to stand up to make dinner for your family. Suffering is trying to fall asleep when you feel like a dog’s teeth are tearing is at your groin. That is suffering. That was my life for nine months. After eight previous surgeries…I was destined for a ninth that would eventually take place on February 21st, 2017.

But my story to not one of just suffering, it is about finding that extra bit of strength. It is about digging deep, so deep into your soul to find the good, the silver lining, the gift in your own pain. It is about empathy. It is about never passing judgement. It is about the real true meaning of life in all its joys and sorrows.

My story is about never giving up, never giving in and never taking “no” for an answer. It is about fighting, scratching and clawing for life, for freedom; the freedom is move through this world without pain. Well, today is May 28th, 2017 and I am proud to say that I sit at my kitchen table writing this without pain and without the aid of narcotic medication. Though it has been a terribly difficult road, I am humbled by the journey, the support of those around me and the gift of being outside and moving in nature.

My story isn’t just about riding bikes and racing any longer. It is about total focus, total complete immersion in the effort to heal. So, now I am back on my bike and riding the single track I so dearly love. It makes my heart sing to roll over the dirt. I can’t wipe the smile from my face as the wind rips by my ears and my legs churn out the cadence that is so familiar to them. Euphoria does not begin to describe the peace I feel knowing that I can still get outside and enjoy the sport that has given me so much.


It’s About Time.

Sometimes life doesn’t go exactly as planned. In 2010 I got sick, really sick. I was misdiagnosed several times before ended up in the ER with a severe colon infection called Diverticulitis. This illness is common in overweight, unhealthy people in their 60’s who don’t exercise. WTF? Seriously? It was almost comical as I recovered in the hospital when different “specialists” would come to talk with me about healthy eating habits, etc. They were obviously following hospital protocol, but it was ridiculous. I was a 5’6” 130 pound professional mountain bike racer. I mean really…

After my discharge from the hospital I went straight to Crested Butte, Colorado for a getaway with my husband. We had to leave a day late, but that wasn’t going to stop me from getting in some gnarly singletrack. I think I almost died on the four-hour ride just four days after leaving the hospital, but I did it and I was psyched!

Over then next 10 months I would be hospitalized 4 more times before the doctors decided to remove part of my colon. Well, I figured a little less gut wouldn’t hurt me, so into surgery I went. It was successful, but left a nasty 3 inch scar that headed south from my navel (where they actually pulled the colon out, gross).

I am sure you are thinking wow, that’s awful how sad…blah blah, but wait there’s more. After recovering from the partial colectomy I was back at it. Riding my bike, trail running and climbing. One afternoon in the Boulder Rock Club I was on a difficult 5.12 when what do you know? My ankle snaps or should I say two tendons snap. Just like that, right off the bone. You’ve got to be kidding me I thought. But, this was no joke. The managers of the facility carried me to my car where I promptly drove straight to our “family” orthopedic. And honestly, if you have a family orthopedic, you’ve got problems anyway.

He decided that I needed surgery. It took nine months to completely recover from this injury and once I was feeling like myself again I started to tackle some hard rides in the foothills of Golden, Colorado. These are some of my favorite trails. I love the technical sections and big climbs. But as luck would have it, one bad call on my line and sure enough, I am thrown from my bike subsequently tearing my labrum (connective tissue) in my hip joint. I can’t walk without crazy pain in my groin.

I bet at this point you’re wondering when this nightmare is going to stop, well I was thinking the same thing at the time. I remember crying like a baby at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine office. I think the doctor thought I was coming completely unglued. And perhaps he was right.

Another surgery loomed, another six weeks on crutches, more rehab and lots and lots of medical bills. Eventually, I’m on the way to recovery. I remember the first time I got on the bike. It was so grim, so slow, so painful. But I was outside, breathing fresh air and moving my body again. I took it slow, but I was committed to racing in the Hundo 100 in June 2013 just six months from my first day back on my bike. That was my goal and come hell or high water I was going to get there. I commuted to work many days at 5:00am in fierce winds, cold temps and even the occasional snowstorm. Absolutely nothing was going to get in my way and I just prayed that I would stay healthy long enough to get to the start line.

On race day I had two pieces of paper taped to the top tube. One was the race elevation profile and the other said this:

4 Years

5 Surgeries

6 Hospitalizations

10 Doctors

NOW It’s my time, my race.

The Hundo 100 would go down as my fastest hundred ever and land me on the podium, taking 3rd place in my age group and 10th overall. Coming down the final stretch into the finish, I was so psyched! I did it…that was all I could say. I did it. I did it, over and over. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my husband, daughter, mom and dad were all there to meet me at the finish line and congratulate me on my effort.

This turned out to be my last race as the hip as continued to give me grief and become a source of chronic pain. But I will tell you something, that day in 2013 was pure magic. And I will never give up fighting for the freedom of racing and riding my bike when and wherever I want.


Just the Two of Us

When my husband and I are at our best together, we are riding bikes. We have shared 100’s of rides together over the last 13 years and one thing never changes. We are both the happiest riding in the mountains. Not only does it give us much needed time away from work, parenting and just the day-to-day mumbo jumbo, it gives us time to talk. And best of all it’s free and available any time we need to connect. Well as long as we have a babysitter.

Our anniversary is this month, 11 years. Our house is crowded with various anniversary gifts related to biking, most of them artwork. We could really set up our own bike art gallery with all the pieces we have collected.

We were married in Crested Butte, Colorado the morning of September 24th 2005 at 10:00am. Who gets married at 10 o’clock in the morning? I’ll tell you who, a couple who wants to take 20 of their closest friends on a mountain bike ride, that’s who. Twenty turned out to be six by the end of the four-hour ride, but it was one of the most amazing rides of our lives. Sharing our love for the mountains and the dirt under our tires with friends was nothing short of magical. I’ll never forget that day; it was the best of my life.

These days the rides are shorter and we don’t have as many together as we would like, but we still support each other giving in to early morning training sessions and long weekend outings. I am so grateful to have a man in my life that gets it. The days on our bikes whether together or alone, are so important for our happiness and sanity, both as individuals and as a couple. Our bikes, like our relationship, are safe, predictable and always there to see us through the good times and bad.

Cheers to 30 more years of riding bikes and sharing memories in the mountains.

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Like a Proud Mama!

This past Saturday June 3rd I had three riders racing the DK200 (Dirty Kanza 200). This is a 200 mile gravel race that starts in Emporia, Kansas. I watched all 3 men face challenges in their training from aches and pains to balancing the time between work and family. It is so hard to put in the hours and efforts necessary to succeed in endurance races. There is a lot of alone time and lots of time to think and wonder if it’s going to be enough.

As their coach, I stewed over the race course, the weather and the workouts they would need to be successful. I had to balance their travel schedules and personal needs. I had to make them very fit without burning them out or getting them injured. It’s a fine line these athletes walk and all I could do so hope that on race day it would be enough.

I didn’t sleep that well the night before and I’m sure neither did they. I wondered what they were eating for breakfast and how they were feeling about the day ahead. I hoped they were pumped and ready. I was!

As the day wandered on, I spent time wth my family and looked every hour or two to see if they had come through the checkpoints. Each time I saw an update I felt both relief and pride. There are doing it…

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