Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sea Otter Classic

I entered the Mountain Bike XC race as a CAT2 rider. I have never done a cross country bike race of any kind before so after asking a few people where I should start, I decided this was probably a good place.  I have always wanted to do a mountain bike race since I was a kid so I was really excited to be finally competing in one so many years later!

My friend Gaylia helped me find a homestay with Sharon Osgood and her family that lived close by and whom I met at my first race in the US in 2004 at Wildflower.  They made me feel right at home and assured me the course would suit me.  I registered on Friday afternoon when I arrived and met up with the girls at Sidi who introduced me to a 24hr solo mountain bike champion, Timari Pruis to pre ride the course with. Timari was helping out at her sponsor's booth for the 4 day event.

We met Saturday morning and we chatted as we rode and I asked her too many questions I'm sure, but she was very helpful with riding tips as I crashed a couple of times (as far as I know she didn't laugh!) but I did as she told me and it worked and I followed her lines for most of the ride.


I rode the last 7miles solo as Timari had to get back to the expo but made it back in time for an icy cold pepsi (as it was nice and warm out) and had a visit to the Shimano booth for some mechanical repairs to be made....probably done when I crashed!
View from the top of the bike course 

 I was driving from the supermarket back to the Osgood's house and had just turned up the climb when I noticed a guy who had crashed his bike, trying to use his phone. The Grand Fondo for Sea Otter was going on and he was one of the cyclists in the event. I pulled over and asked him if he was ok...turns out he crashed a while back and his rear derailier had just snapped so he couldn't go anywhere. I put his bike in my car, told him to get in the front and asked if he wanted one of the cold beers I had just bought! I don't think he thought I was serious and just laughed. He said his friend was up ahead and both their girlfriend's had gone to the Monterey Aquarium whilst they rode so he would have been waiting a while. I dropped him off and told him to wait at the finish line for the Grand Fondo with a beer for his friend and then ask him when he comes in 'where have you been...I finished a couple of beers ago!"  Somehow I think he just went back to his car, threw his bike in and went to the medical tent to get cleaned up!

I got up early Saturday morning to make it to the event to warm up and get to the race track in plenty of time...I was wondering where all the women were for the start...turns out I was over an hour early for my start time. I went back to my car to warm up as it was cold and foggy. Then I got back on my bike to warm up again and head over to the race track.
Day Before was Clear

About 13 or so lined up on the line to start in my age group and a few people told me to sprint for the first few miles so that is what I did and lead out the group around the race track and onto the trail.

I was just hoping that I wouldnt get nailed on the downhill but as it turns out there were only a few of us together by the first downhill and I followed one of the girls down and onto the single track. I stayed with her for a short time and then she was gone....until the uphill where I caught back up to her. This was the theme until half way through and then we didn't cross paths again....I had made a little gap.

I came across parts of the course that the day before I had either crashed or taken very cautiously but during the race I was fine and went down one downhill I crashed on on Friday and didn't realise until I was at the bottom it was that decent....that was a positive.

As I rode along the course, I was passing mountain bikers from earlier categories and with one short downhill to the finish I caught up to the first junior female and slowed up so she could go down first....she stayed with the guys ahead of us and I stayed up with her....I felt pretty good about that!!!(and laughed at myself!).

There were lots of spectators at the finish and the riders all waited for their friends to finish and were chatting about their 20.2mile adventure with over 3500ft of climbing. Everyone and their bikes were covered in dirt but were all happy campers for having finished a tough race.
I did a short cool down spin and headed to the expo to tell Timari that I did better than Friday when we rode and did what she told me to and it worked and then over to the awards to receive my yellow jersey and goodie bag for winning my category. As it turns out 2nd and 3rd place live within 10 miles of me!
 Yellow Jersey

I got some food and went back to the Osgood's to shower and clean up before driving home as I was filthy and the dirt had really stuck to my gravel rash from the day before as I put Neosporin on it that morning.

The vibe of the whole scene was very relaxed, friendly and fun and I got to watch some incredibly talented downhill slalom races,road races, BMX stunts and XC mountain bikers ride/race.

I was most happy that I came out of it in one piece and could tick off having done a race I have thought about doing since I was a little kid.And I came out with a yellow jersey....still makes me chuckle!

Thank you to Gaylia for organising a great homestay and to the Osgood family for having me stay with them, you made my trip a very relaxed and pleasant one.

To my sponsors who provide me with the equipment I need to do my job (and some side gigs like this type of race!). Reynolds have some new carbon tubeless race wheels they sent me to use which were fantastic. Wilier for providing me with other type of TT bike....called a mountain bike, Nathan for the comfy and much needed hydration pack, Rudy Project for protecting my eyes both in and out of the bushes (upright and tumbling) and my head with their helmets, Mikes Bikes for always looking after me, Sidi for protecting my feet and keeping me clipped in, John Cobb for keeping my toosh comfy with his saddle, Saucony for my clothing and running shoes, Flora Inc for supplying my body with world class supplements, Profile Design for my parts and accessories(their sister co. Titec) and the crew at Mike's Bikes for getting my mtn bike race ready!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Xterra Las Vegas

I am currently laying on the floor at Las Vegas airport writing this blog, as I had the grand idea of getting on one flight earlier than mine at 6.30am. The check in lady told me I could but it would cost more than 10,000 points. Without even opening my mouth the 3 other Southwest sista's chimed in and said ' oh no you ain't, there’s another flight right there girl...you only gotta wait an hour'. With that said, I decided they were right until I received a 'flight status update text', telling me my flight would be delayed until 8.20!!! That grand planned back fired so I joined the other hung over people on the carpet to lay down. One man to my right is sprawled eagle with his baseball cap over his face, the girl in front of me is propped up on a pole and 2 other girls sitting on the chairs are playing video on their phones which sounds like a big night out (lots of woohoo's)! A perfect environment for writing my blog about an Xterra race don't you think!!?

Kim and Kate

                                        Kim & I in an old pic, good friend for sure!! 

It was about a week or so ago when I decided to do Xterra Las Vegas. My friend Kim McDonald from San Diego called me and told me he was doing a story for Triathlete Magazine about a road triathlete doing an Xterra for the first time and he was that athlete!  I also knew a few other people going from San Fran and thought it would be fun and give me some time on the mountain bike (for the Crocodile Trophy in October) and something different.  I booked my ticket with points, put my Mountain bike in at Mike's Bike's for a service (as I stacked it on the Monday and could hear 'noises'), packed my gear and my Road ID (first time I have worn it during an event!). I arrived and discovered I had a very bent derailleur and thanks to the Specialized mechanic (yes, I do ride a Wilier mountain bike) and bent it back for me and I was good to go.

Kate Major and her Wiler Mountain Bike for Xterra Las Vegas April 2012 

I met up with Kim Friday morning to pre ride the bike and run course and we set off laughing about how we hadn't been mountain biking much (Kim at all) and how the pavement was great. Then we hit the start of the trails and laughing turned into fear laughing. The wind was so strong it was blowing us sideways, Kim hit the dirt/rocks within the first 10mins and after what seemed like hours later we finally got back to the pavement and rode back to the transition in silence. We met up for dinner and hoped it would rain to make the trails a little tacky and contemplated doing the sprint rather than the Championship distance! Rain came down, temps dropped into the 40's and right before transition closed the sun started to peak through and it got a little warmer.

Water at Lake Las Vegas for Xterra April 2012

Race day morning the water was a balmy 57f and I jumped in with a few minutes before the start and was totally numb within one minute.  I warmed up during the swim but could not feel my hands or feet.  I had a good swim though but getting my wetsuit off proved impossible as my hands would not function so I ended up sitting down to get it off!   Beth Walsh and I came out of the water together and we were dueling it to see who could have the longest transition..I then put my gloves, arm warmers, socks, shoes, and Nathan hydration pack on and finally made it out of transition...

Kate Major Xterra Las Vegas in transition April 14, 2012

I won that one and caught up to her on the bike and we rode the first lap back and forth with each other. I dropped my chain and she slid out on one corner but made a terrific save and it looked like a burnout!  I was surprised as to how much better I was riding compared to the day before and that it didn't seem that bad...a huge relief as I really began to enjoy it and had the best time.  I was keen to do a third lap but headed back to transition for the run.

Kate Major at Xterra Las Vegas, April 14th, 2012 picture from Xterra

The first 2.5km was predominantly uphill on sandy/rocky trails and then dirt road and we hit the bike course and ran part of that (uphill), made a left turn and it looked like a wall of dirt/rock that was too steep to run the fest section until half way or so up, but I was feeling good running today and just loving the trails and scenery. I finished up 7th and was happy to have had a truly fun race and really enjoyed myself.

Kate Major on the run Xterra Las Vegas April 15, 2012 pic by Nils Nilsen

  These athletes can really ride bikes and are pretty courteous when wanting to pass and the whole event has a great friendly, low key vibe to it.  Kim finished up well and was also happy that he stayed on the bike except for one softer section where he face planted. We had dinner again and laughed about the whole experience and were thanking our lucky stars we were still in one piece and able to continue to train and race as we were thinking we would be like the walking wounded, stranded in the desert landscape of Las Vegas, left for dead or for the coyotes to have a feast upon our open, fleshy wounds....that is a bit far fetched but you get how relieved we both were! Kim's last words...'we'll have to do this again some time...it was fun!'.


Thank you to Elle who found me a great home stay, to Wilier for providing me with my Mountain bike, Saucony, Profile Design, Rudy Project, Nathan, John Cobb Saddles, Sidi, Mikes Bikes, and Reynolds for supporting my racing both on and now..off road!!!  To my coach who didn't blink an eye when I asked what he thought, he just said 'yip' do it!  Jamie Whitmore for all her advice and my endless questions to her about Xterra, and her friendly energy.  My friends who were pumped for me and encouraged me and Jeff who was just Jeff and supportive as always, my mum who was worried that I was going to hurt myself and my sister who gave her hard core support also, I really appreciate it all:)

Monday, April 2, 2012

To Good Friends

A recent visit from my good friend Sue Hutter and her daughter Chloe was just the boost I needed!

Since moving to NORCAL, it has been hard for me as I have really missed seeing my good friends from San Diego (even though Sue and Chloe are from CDA). So for them to visit us and have some good chats, belly laughs and just spend some fun time together gave me a well needed boost until I go to San Diego in June.

Good friends are what keep you going when you need a push, keep you in line when you are out, and are just fun to be with and fill you with love. I didn't realise how much I would miss my friends until we moved. I didn't realise how much I need the times during the week we got together to train, have dinner, surf, chat, paddle with, have BBQ'S, tennis tournaments and watch some of them become parents for the first time.

I ran with Chloe and Kaisley whilst Sue speed walked and took photos.We had coffee, they went into the city,  explored the sites of San Francisco,  we went to Stinson Beach and collected shells and chatted as Kaise chased the birds and ran through the water.

Chloe and Kate at Stinson Beach

Sue mentioned suffering from migraines since starting this new workout program. I suggested it could be coming from being tight as she was doing some upper body work for the first time in a while.... so I flattened her on the floor and loosened her up like a good friend would.....she never mentioned it again??!!

So here is to good friends that fill your life with laughs, joy, kindness, and fun times. Remind yourself how fortunate you are to have your circle of friends and tell them every now and them how much you appreciate them....not too much though....you don't want to inflate their ego:):):)

Kate and Kaise on Stinsom Beach March 2012