Summer Training Grind and bike racing

This summer has been the standard whirlwind of too much sweat and a bit of blood and not too many tears. As all Vermonters know, it was way too hot to have a comfortable training season and we all look forward to colder weather in the fall and winter. I decided to break up the standard training routine of running and roller-skiing with a bit more biking in order to reduce chance of injury and also increase my efficiency of power output from my legs. Running is, I think, one of the most efficient ways to increase fitness for the amount of time put in. However I think that skiing, skate skiing specifically, is becoming a bit more power-focused with strong pushes and long glide phases.

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May trail running on the Long Trail with furry friends! Photo: Caitlin Patterson

I joined the local Burlington cycling team 1K2GO in order to take bike racing a bit more seriously this summer. I also invested in a new racing mountain bike with the generous help of Skirack and Specialized! As much as I loved my aluminum 140mm travel full suspension trail bike that I had the last two years, it was not quite the quickest ride on the local XC race circuit. I replaced it this past season with a Specialized Epic full suspension xc racing bike, which is an incredibly fast and capable bike. As part of 1K2GO I wanted to race the local NE pro mountain bike series – Bubbatrophy Mountain Bike Series.

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My first mountain bike race of the season in New Hampshire! Photo: Bear Brook Classic

I generally see myself as a decent all around athlete who is overall pretty fit and strong. I love challenging myself by trying new sports and testing myself against other athletes. I by no means am a bike racer and don’t ride my bike until April usually. It was shocking how fast cyclists can go and maintain such a high power output. I was dropped and in dead last at my first mountain bike race for at least the first 2 miles, and I was pedaling as hard as I could on a carbon race bike! I was so impressed by the fitness and leg strength of these riders that I knew I had to keep training and riding more so I could try and compete by the end of the summer when I finally get my cycling legs stronger.

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Getting a bit faster at the Gnar Weasels race in southern Vermont! Photo: Meg McMahon

Of course as much as I love riding my bike, I still did the standard strength training, running, and roller-skiing that nordic skiers can’t seem to get enough of.

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Running the Hillstead Half Marathon with Raleigh! Photo: Lazenby Photography

I even ran a half marathon trail race through the woods around Craftsbury. I ran the race mostly threshold with the new GRP biathlete Raleigh.

The GRP skiers took part in a mid summer training camp in Lake Placid with some of the US Ski Team and Stratton team to work on our speed together. It was a short but productive camp with a fun sprint simulation workout at the jump complex and a fun OD run/hike in the Adirondacks.

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Sprint simulation with SMS team following the speedy Ben Saxton! Photo: Matt Whitcomb
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Cruising through Catamount singletrack at Julbo Eastern Grind. Photo: David Lustgarten

The Julbo Eastern Grind mountain bike race took place at the end of July at Catamount that brought a bit larger of a crowd than most races. It was a fun event but I think I was a bit dehydrated on that day to feel good enough to be competitive. Still a great event that local cycling legend Jake Hollenbach took the win at in the Pro Race! Jake is always a threat in any bike race and has helped me with my bike racing set up and strategy this whole summer!

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I wrapped up the summer with the VT3 Mountain Bike race organized by the incredible guys at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. This race is a non-traditional 3-day mountain bike stage race in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The first stage is a short ~5 mile paired start time trial in the woods of Hardwick on Friday afternoon. The following stage is a brutally long (~2.5 hour) xc race on the enduro trails of Victory near Burke. And the last stage is a 20 mile xc race on the fun and newly renovated trails at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center!

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Staying focused on the long Victory xc stage of the VT3! Photo: Christopher Williams

The first stage of the VT3 I think I burped and flatted my rear tire cornering too hard and had to jog my bike in. It was a frustrating start to a stage that I actually felt very fast on. The second day I took more conservatively due to my epic blow up last year, so I immediately lost the leaders and biked mostly alone for the duration of the race finishing 7th for the day. On the last day I started fast with the leaders mostly because I knew the trails. I still struggled to keep up with the top guns on any climb more than 60 seconds but due to the twisty nature of Craftsbury’s trails and how well I knew them I could stay in contact for most of the race. I had a strong second lap and finished 3rd on the day!

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Staying focused on lap 2 of stage 3 of the VT3! Photo: Wes Vear

The next week we got ready to go to New Zealand for some quality on-snow training and racing!

 

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