Month: September 2008


Regge riding happened just over a month ago and now after all the excitement has subsided within me, I feel I can sit down and calmly tell the tale. Just kidding I’ll start off with my formal apology for not having this blog up sooner. SORRY. The
Festival;   This is the way I remember it happening. The day started off pretty warm. Hannah, Jerimha and I had camped at the venue the night before the race to protect the half set up race site from any burglars who might just be passing by. We had no encounters, mission accomplished! Our back up arrived around 8:30 to relieve us of our night watch and we headed straight to Cione’s house where we were greeted with a great breakfast. Thanks again Cione! After breakfast it was back to the venue where we helped with a bit more of the set up. People were running around getting everything in order and from tables and registration to final course markings. I was put in charge of getting a few more stunts put together but couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t pale in comparison to the sweet teeter- totter Amon had so

meticulously designed or the table top jump Themba and Tsering had put together either. Amon had also built some portable skinnies to practice your balancing skills with. I had nothing. The only thing I could think of was FOAM PIT! But there was no time. I tried the wall ride idea a few different ways but it looked like a law suit waiting to happen. Good thing we had everyone sign those small printed waivers! Just kidding. I ended up making a smaller jump that looked kind of silly next to Themba and Tserings and I swear I heard some one snicker when they walked passed it. I decided to then quickly add on to the to the table top and moved the teeter-totter around so you had to clear the table top width ways and land on the totter without hitting the ground shoot up the totter and down to safety. I tested it, it worked and my job was done! Everyone was assigned jobs and seemed to be getting them done quickly because by the time I looked up from my stunt assignment everything was ready. Let the festivities begin! There were skills clinics, fun rides, fun contests, music and dancing! Team LCB raced and represented. The course was fast and windy and there were podium spots for everyone! The bike limbo was a hit, there was tons of competition.The wheelie contest wasn’t for the faint of heart and there was definitely a showing of some amazing skill including a no handed wheelie. The track stand contest was even won with a no hander move. I am training completely no handed until next year. So the day was filled with tons of fun and I am leaving out alot, I feel like I have been writing forever. I will leave you with this, after the costume contest pixxy bike race with crashes, flats and people riding over other people in capes and speedos, there was DANCING! The night was finished off with the Bayonics. I witnessed team LCB get down! I saw dance moves from unnamed team members that I had thought had gone extinct with wooly mamoths, sabertooth tigers and things from that era but boy was I wrong. It was killer, it made me regret not taking those private brake dance lessons I always day dream about. Why didn’t I at least bring my gynormous piece of cardboard.!!

NMBS Finale: Brian Head, UT

The last weekend of August took me (Maureen) to Brian Head, Utah for some extreme high-altitude racing. It was the final NMBS race of the season, and I was hoping for a nice end (i.e. a good finish or 2) to my first season of racing in the pro class. Thursday I drove down to East LA to meet up with fellow competitor and all-around awesome person, Joy Duerkson. She put me up for the night and even made me a nice healthful breakfast the in the morning! Two other women (Shelli and Heidi) met us that morning for a fun feminine carpool from LA to Brian Head. We had a super-awesome drive to Brian Head, chatting the whole way and enjoying the views. We only turned on the radio for a brief 5 minutes of the whole trip!
We arrived at Brian Head on Friday evening with just enough time to unpack and do a short 30-minute spin around the venue. I hadn’t ridden in 2 days (and I was ‘tapering’) so it was nice to get on the bike. We were staying in a nice condo with Vanessa Humic (Emma’s competitor!) and some friends: Roger, Bev Chaney (Roaring Mouse), Lisa…there were a LOT of people staying there! It worked out great, and only one person was on the floor.
On Saturday morning we awoke to a beautiful day in the mountains with aspens and pines all around, and striking red formations in the distance. Joy and I had the Short Track at noon, which gave us just enough time to pre-ride the sport course. Why ride the sport course? There was a nasty rumor running throughout the venue that the weather was going to turn nasty on Sunday. If this were true, our XC course would change to the sport course, if not end up canceled. Also, the Pro XC course is one ginormous loop of nearly 30-miles…not conducive to a pre-ride, especially at 9600 feet.
So we rode the sport XC course, getting back to the venue with about 15 minutes before our race. I noticed during the pre-ride that my legs felt quite heavy, so I was a little concerned about the upcoming races. I was psyched for the ST, since I’ve done well at these events this year.
At the ST race start, Joy and I notice that most of the competitors were the seasoned pros–women like Georgia, Katerina, Kelli, Lea–and not very many of the pack-fill types. Plus, the organizers decided to have a 1st-lap prime, which meant the pace would start out faster than usual. These factors coupled with the high altitude and my fatigued legs all conspired to destroy me. I’ve noticed with these pro women that I’m one of the slowest starters, but I can come from behind and pick girls off as the race progresses. I suppose I’m like a diesel engine in that regard.
After the first hot lap, it wasn’t too long till I was shelled OTB of the main field. Without those pack-fill types present, I was in no-man’s land and a short time later I was directed off the course. Pulled!? What a bummer. I had a hard time out there. But I didn’t have that much time to sulk, since the Super-D was coming up in the mid-afternoon.
I went back to the condo to chill for a minute. The weather was rapidly deteriorating, which was a great surprise considering the sunny blue skies we had during the ST (although the winds were pretty rough). I grabbed a rain jacket and thermal wear and headed to the venue. On my way over, I got pelted with hail!! Yes, the weather was turning sour quickly. I wanted to get a few practice runs in on the course, but there was lightning, which shut down the chair lift and consequently our practice time. Finally the organizers had to call the race, with the hope that they could run it on Sunday morning. So I headed back to the condo and enjoyed the company of my roommates. We saw the wind blasting through the trees and wondered whether we’d be able to ride bikes tomorrow. It was possible we’d want a pair of skis!
Sunday morning looked nice enough from the window of the condo. It turned out to be quite cooler and much windier than Saturday. I went over to check on the Super D. The race was on, but there was no time for practice. Less than ideal, but I was lucky enough to get the lowdown on the course from Bev on the chairlift. Each Super D race features some hair-brained starting scheme designed to make the organizers laugh at us racers (and the racers at each other). This time we had to run backwards to our bikes. This was harder than it sounded. The course was pretty fun after the pesky uphill start, and I flowed down the mountain, slowly gaining spots. Present in the field was Linden, a former WCCC collegiate racer. It was fun to see her again. I ended up getting 4th place in the Super D, which is my first Pro podium!! I was on the podium with Kelli Emmet and Sue Butler…it was cool! I was pleasantly surprised to learn later that I ended up 4th overall in the NMBS Super D Series!
After the Super D I prepared for the EPIC XC race, and during my warm-up I was definitely concerned about the state of my legs. They felt like bricks, and I couldn’t tell if it was the altitude, or if I was over-trained, or even under-trained! I thought I had tapered for this race, and that I would be ready to go. Not exactly.
The XC course featured a gnarly 4-mile climb from the start at 9600′ up to 11,000′! It started on a desolate state highway with several steep pitches, then turned onto a fireroad. One cool thing about the XC was the organizers decided to start the Pro Men and Women together since the start was up the road for a while. The pace started out very friendly and chill, but it slowly ramped up along with the pitch. After 10 minutes, I was starting to feel gassed, and a gap opened between me and the group. There were a few women also hanging OTB, but they were ahead of me. It was quite demoralizing to be alone so soon into this epic race. I thought about turning around and going home, since I was going as hard as I could, but my HR was super low. But I persevered, riding along in the remote, high-country Utah wilderness. It was beautiful out there, but I was in a slightly sour mood. I thought about stopping more than a few times, but I couldn’t quite stomach the thought of a “DNF” next to my name. However, I do understand now what makes racers quit their races. I couldn’t help but think that this endless ride was not helping me in the least. I can understand that there are times when you should pull the plug to expedite recovery.
During my ride I came across Joy and Chloe stopped on the trail. I last saw Joy effortlessly pulling away from me on the road climb, leaving me in her road dust and jealous of her fitness. I stopped to assess the situation–Chloe had a gash on her knee after hitting a skewer-like branch on the side of the trail, and Joy was keeping her company till help arrived. I figured the best way for me to help was to forge ahead and find someone to help get her out of the woods. She crashed in a particularly desolate part of this remote area. I relayed the news to a couple hiking on the trail and then to an EMT and the Luna team managers at the feed zone. My job was done, and nothing left for me to do except ride on. My ride went on forever, up and up and up endless hills until finally the infamous descent. This descent was very technical, not that fun on a hardtail, but at least it was a descent. But of course there was more climbing to tackle afterwards. Finally I finished the race after nearly 3 hours of riding! I was demoralized but happy to be done. Joy, the true rock star that she is, finished her race despite the long pit-stop she made to help a fellow racer. Way to go!
Later that evening there was a little party thrown by the race promoters with the theme “Female Cross-Country Racers Appreciation Party.” Our whole condo showed up for foamy beer from Nevada and some good conversation. No one had the energy to stand up, so we all sat at tables and chilled. It was a nice ending to the rough weekend. On Monday morning we packed up and headed back south. I went on to Santa Barbara to visit my aunt and cousins. Overall, I had a fun weekend hanging out with Joy and her peeps, and I learned what it feels like to be under-rested. And my first pro podium–hooray!
Whew! There are a lot of words here…thanks for reading!
p.s. The photos on this post are not mine; thanks are in order to Mark Vanek and Joy Duerkson for the images.

Downieville Classic

Maureen, Brian and I (Amon) all made our way out to the tiny town that is Downieville for the 2008 Downieville Classic XC and Downhill races. Brian and I met up with the awesome guys from Marin Bikes who put up in some nice camping cabins on the river (Sadly Maureen did not grace us with her presence during the evenings as she stayed with her friends and traveling companions). The three of us were all signed up to duke it out in the Pro All Mountain category, which combines the times of the XC and Downhill races for the All Mountain title.

On Saturday was the XC race. This course starts out with a long fire road climb up to Packer Saddle then you get to descend on the Downhill course back down to Downieville. The weather was fair for the day, allowing the racers only minimal smoke inhalation and a comfortable temperature, considering how it could have been with all the wildfires burning in the area. I think that all three of us had good races all in all.

Saturday evening was the festival action with the expo being open and the river jump and pixie cross competitions all happening. Brian signed up for the river jump competition right off the bat, then I signed up after borrowing my friend Rex’s hiking boots to replace the sandals I was wearing. Neither of us made it to the finals but we sure did have fun hitting that big kicker into the river. Thanks to Marin bikes for donating two bikes to the contest for all jumpers to use!
A little while later the World Pixie Cross Championship race was held in the middle of the expo area in downtown Downieville. Again Brian was first at the line for the competition and was set on the gold. He quickly showed his pixie crossing prowess in the first round and moved on to he semi-finals. I jumped in for a heat, in my sandals this time (not a very good choice of footwear for pixie racing), after the announcer called out they needed more competitors. I had a rowdy race filled with slipping off the pedals, elbows out racing, and one instance of my butt hitting the ground, and although I qualified to move on, the winner of the heat and I did an extra lap so the counted us and being behind and we were out of the racing.

That’s the way pixie racing goes apparently. Brian then went on to school the rest of the competitors and was promptly crowned the WORLD PIXIE CROSS CHAMPION for 2008! Brian then went on to show off his crown at the robot dance off later that night.
Sunday came and that meant downhill racing! The Downieville Downhill is the crowning race of the weekend. This is a long descent from on high in the Sierra Nevada mountains back down to the old mining town of Downieville. Again we all had clean enjoyable races with no


Brian Astell – 15th 19th 11th PIXIE CROSS WORLD CHAMP!
Maureen Kunz – 5th 6th 5th
Amon Pease- 21st 20th 21st

2008 MTB National Championships in Vermont!

Emma and I spent the next few days of our adventure in Massachusetts staying at Emma’s grandma Noni’s awesome house. Noni was an excellent tour guide, showing us all around the town of Whitman where Emma’s mom grew up and taking us out to eat for lots of delicious sea food fare. We also got meet Aunt Cathy and Juiliana and even spent a day touring the nice city of Boston and checking out all the touristy stuff. We then headed up to New Hampshire to meet my mother’s sister and long lost cousins. It was good to meet a side of the family I had only heard about growing up. Both Justin and Janelle were great people; I even got Janelle out on a mountain bike ride. She was pretty good. Emma and I packed up again on Thursday to go get our buddy Nick from the airport in Boston at 9:30 pm and then drive straight to Vermont to stay with Stacy’s mom, who definitely had it going on! And of course I had to race the national championship at 8am the next morning. Imagine what I could have done if I weren’t sick or had some sleep the day before one of these races. We arrived to Margret’s place at like 2 or 3 am and I was up at 6:45 to eat and get to the venue and check in. I got to pre-ride the start loop just in time to line up in the second row of 66 semi-pro starters. Sweet! The start was vicious and the pace scorching, I was just not capable of maintaining. I think it was to my advantage though. I came through in like 37th or so first lap and just passed cracked riders all day to finish 24th only one minute out of top 20 which was my goal! I had a great race and I was very happy with it especially considering my 3.5 hr nap the night before. Saturday was Emma’s national championship and we knew she was one of the fastest in the field. Again we were up at 6:45 am, remembering that is 3:45 am California time! This time we went to bed at around 10 pm, so Emma was well rested and ready to rock. She had a solid start and coming through for lap one was head to head with the leader! I was so excited until she handed me off a full bottle and took a new one (just for practice I guess). She didn’t drink the whole first lap. I knew that would spell disaster and sure enough part way through lap two she began to cramp horribly. She came through still in second with third right behind her. She was already in tears and I could see her legs clenching up on her and there was still a lap to go. Last lap I waited and waited impatiently to see her come through. Finally Emma rolled through screaming and crying from cramps in 4th place. She collapsed just after the line angry and in tons of pain I comforted her in front of awed on lookers. Emma is still my national champion for finishing the race and showing that kind of grit and determination! She was the strongest girl in the race she told me she would walk away on the climbs, but was having some trouble on the descents. So her tactic was to get a big gap on the climb, somehow in all the planning she didn’t drink and suffered for it bad. That’s racing I guess. On Sunday Emma and I raced the super D on another no-hard tails course. Emma had a solid run and netted another 4th place finish. I was determined to go for the win on my hard tail; I got to the short climb in 3rd place ready to hammer by 1st and 2nd place who were moving way slower. I stood up and put in one hard pedal stroke only to have my chain break! Crap! Game over. Figured I might as well have fun so I ran with my bike while getting passed by most of the field. On the downhill sections I just coasted and pumped all over the place. All said and done I had a great time and still beat some guys I caught one guy who passed me on the hill and sprinted on foot to finish just ahead of him! Yay, bike racing! Next Emma and I went up to watch Nick’s epic DH race which looked plain crazy. He had a solid run with only one mishap and finish 19th I think. Back at Margret’s we packed quickly and thanked the best hostess ever for a great time, before heading out on the most epic drive back to Delaware. First it was to Boston to drop of Nick then Emma and I rallied the rental all the back to DE and arrived at 4:30 am only to wake up a 8am clean the car return it by 12pm then drive to Baltimore to catch a plane at 5:30 and fly to Milwaukee than fly to back to California at 12am only to drive to Humboldt and arrive home at 4:30 am! Yay, bike racing!!!