Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scamp-venture Quatro: Bikes & Bites

Last weekend, Hwood, Smokey and I Scamped in St. Cloud for a dual Mtn Bike / Cyclocross weekend of racing. The weather was wonderful as usual, and the riding was awesome!

Saturday was the Single Track Escape mtn bike race and I got out the ole single speed MUSS to compete in the State Championships. I hadn't ridden the ole Bologne Pony for a year, but we were quick to get reacquainted and rip up the trails. I was flying through single track faster than I ever have before - I don't know what came over me. But you better believe I was the happiest 6th place finisher ever! I rode out of my mind and had no problems finishing where I did. :O)

When I finished, Jay was there to congratulate me - it was so sweet. The mood changed, though, when Jay started asking all the people around us for super glue. When I asked what it was about, he said "Smokey got bit, but I think I can super glue it shut." WTF? "No, you are not super gluing the dog shut! What happened?" Jay let me know that Smokey got in Disco's face (who he'd spent the summer playing with at every mountain bike race), and Disco wasn't in the mood and nipped his face.
We couldn't tell how deep it was, so I quickly changed and loaded up the puppy with directions to the nearest pet hospital and kissed Jay for luck before his race. At first examination, they were talking sutures or staples, but we were lucky after they cleaned and trimmed the area that he just needed some TLC. We left in a much more relaxed state with antibiotics and pain killers in hand and returned to the race.

We got back in time to see Jay's final lap and I left Smokey curled up in the camper to relax after an eventful day. After a long, hard effort, Hwood crossed the line completely drained like I'd never seen him before. We loaded up our gear, headed off to drop the camper at Kyia's, then went to grab a bite to eat and bring Jay back to life. Once satiated, we returned to Kyia's so Jay could nap until her Retirement Party.... at which we proceeded to party it up all night long!

Hey Sandbaggers..... Sheila wants to talk to you.....


The next morning we headed down the road for the Porkchop challenge cyclocross race. This is my first year as a Cat 3 (which here means you race against the Cat 1 & 2 women), and I was a little nervous. The field was small but full of very talented women. The first lap was fast and I was sitting in fourth as the pace settled in. I don't know how or why, but for some reason I was feeling great and moved into third. I never let up, and has crazy excited to retain my position on the podium. Just another wonderful & fun weekend of racing!

After some tasty brew and grub, we loaded the Scamp up one final time for the weekend and headed home. Lazy and tired, we threw on our jammies and retired to the couch until bedtime.

Perfect.

Now the question is, where to next?

Kristy Kreme

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Scamp-venture #3: Short, Fat, and Happy

Still loving our lil home away from home, Jay and I loaded up the mountain bikes into the Scamp, grabbed the puppy, and headed north for the 2010 Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. Jay and I raced in the Short & Fat together, a 16 mile sprint of a mountain bike race. For Jay, a 17-time Cheq 40 racer, it was his first appearance in the Short & Fat, and my third.... the last one was 2 years ago on my single-speed that got a rear flat a mile into the race. Let's just say I had some redemption coming my way after spending 2 hours and 14.5 miles riding my flat tire.

We set up camp at Dale's beautiful piece of land in Cable, WI - one mile into the race, right on the course - it was perfect! Eight acres of untouched land with a utility pole and fresh water - we just pulled right in, opened the door to the Scamp, and made ourselves at home as the rest set up tents and Dale got his trailer up and running.
Scampin' in Style

Jay munchin' on our Tequila Chex Mix (chex the macrame owl!)

We had a great time, inviting Crossmax, Tim, Dale, Caveman, and Mark into our camper for our first batch of spaghetti on the Scamp stove, beers, wine, and good times! With hard races ahead of us all, we called it a night sometime after eleven and tucked ourselves in for some bikey sleep.

Come sunrise on Saturday, I battled my stomach and tried desperately to keep my coffee down. Jay was ready and able, filling my head with ideas of speed and agility, and all I wanted to do was puke. Crossmax set us up awesomely before the sun peeked out, getting our bikes on the front line as we got ourselves ready to ride. Although our ideas of the outcome varied, we geared up and rode to the start, watching our breath escape us in the cold fall morning.

When the gun went off, Jay and I were right there, sucking exhaust from the back of the ATV, getting ready for all hell to break loose. Once they split off the road, the speeds soared and I was quickly out of gears, tearing down Randysek Road at 33 mph! The intensity remained high for the first 5 miles, never relenting, fighting my screaming lungs and struggling to remain at the front of the race. Anna & Zoe caught up to us and moved in front as I worked to keep my wits about me and I switched into pursuit mode.

Jay and I bridged up to Zoe before we hit the Berkie trails and we were riding strong. A slip of my rear wheel on Big Bertha cost me time and forced me off my bike near the top. Within those few seconds, Zoe and her dad were out of sight. We tore through the trails faster than I ever had before and it was amazing! I was riding so far outside of my boundaries, I didn't even care where I finished, since I knew I was riding as well and as fast as I could.

With 4 miles to go, Jay and I were riding a great pace with 4 other guys, just hammering our way to the finish. Jay and one of the guys got to talking - he was racing with his son and they were having a blast. Jay mentioned that next year I was going to move up and do the full 40 mile race and the guy asked "Is she going to be 17 already?" .... Ha! .... Jay replied with a smile, "No, that's my 30-yr old wife".... I guess the braids take a few years off. :O)

Jay rode off on his own with one mile to go, and I was stunned as I crested the final climb to hear one of the volunteers tell me I was the third place woman. As the thought set in, the pain in my legs and back faded as I charged through the last few turns and crossed the finish line. I was shocked beyond belief when they stopped us at the line and herded us into the winner's circle - WTF?? I couldn't stop smiling. Now, instead of fighting my stomach, I was fighting back tears.

As I got interviewed after the race, I was completely floored yet again when I saw my dad walk up smiling! He was there to see me get on the podium and to see my name in lights! So freakin' awesome!!!!!
If it weren't for all the support, time, and patience Jay has had for me as I've learned to be a better mountain biker, I would never have found myself on top of that podium, looking back at my sweet hubby, my dad, and my friends as I felt light as air.... thank you babe, I love you more than you'll ever know. And my dad, who taught me never to give up.. thank you! And to my super sponsor Hollywood, making sure I'm always ready to ride, Party On!!! And to all my friends and family wishing me luck and believing I could have a great race - Thank you!!! I love you all!!!!

It was an awesome evening of hanging out with friends and celebrating an amazing finish. Once the sun set and the temps dropped, Hwood and I retreated to the Scamp with lil Smokey to cozy up and watch a movie til we all drifted off to sleep... this is the life!

Come Sunday Funday, we were both exhausted but amped for another day of having fun biking. Jay and I both did the Crit Cross, each making it to the finals to battle 4 laps of mtn/cross bike fun. Hwood road his brains out for a 7th place finish, and I surprised myself by finishing third. To get the most out of it all, though, we made sure to join the other events.

Skinny ole Jay DESTROYED the bike toss, winning with a 55' toss of the old clunker! And I impressed myself with a win in the bike limbo, getting my crossbike diagonal to sneak under the pole at 39"! It was fun for all and I am so glad we were there to experience it all. Gary and his team put on one of the best races around! Thanks to all the workers and volunteers who made this weekend perfect.

Jay was sweet enough to let me take a mini catnap for the first half hour of the drive, then I happily took the helm to get my boys home safe. With the Scamp safely behind the cruck and me at the wheel, Jay and Smokey sawed logs in unison as we made our way home. Now, happily in our jammies, we snuggle on the couch, contented with yet another awesome weekend of Scamping and riding... in love.
(He's never without a Dew, is he?)

The happiest girl in the world,
Kristy Kreme

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scamp-venture #2: Smokey's Maiden Voyage

After the Hamel Time Trial on Saturday, Jay and I took Smokey and the Scamp up to Cable, WI to pre-ride the Cheq Short & Fat course and get some quality family-camping time in.

The morning started out rough - I fell of the trainer on my bike, the dog peed on Jay's pillow, and with 4 miles left in our crazy windy time trail (the 4 TAIL WIND miles none the less), my shifter broke, leaving me in my 2nd easiest gear after a hill climb. I spun my brains out in the tail wind, averaging only 22-some mph, desperately trying to repair my shifter with any latent Jedi powers I had yet to tap into. It didn't work. Yoda didn't appear as some ghostly image in front of me to calm my racing heart and show me how to shift my bike with my mental powers.... Nope. I spun like crazy and bounced in my saddle as I crossed the line.

Lucky for me, I was still able to pull a second place finish and since it was the last TT of the year, my super mechanic hubby can worry about it another day.

After a few tours of the Scamp given (Bonnie, I like your idea of cover charges! Ha!), Jay and I grabbed the lil puppy and headed to the great north woods. I was surprised, after this week's frost advisories, that there weren't more fall leaves to look at. Small splashes of red hid within the trees, peaking out only as you just happened to stop hunting for them. But, when it comes down to it, I don't know if I'm ready to say goodbye to summer yet.

We had an awesome hook-up on some very untouched land, blocks from the forrest trails, and one mile into the course. Jay pulled the lil Scamp onto the property and we set up our lil home away from home. It was total heaven. We took Smokey for a walk before we took our TT-tired legs out on the mountain bikes to check out the course. Smokey had a blast tearing through the Scamp - onto the bed, under it, onto the couch - it was rad!
The trail was great too, and any time Jay and I can get away and ride together just for the sake of riding, it's awesome. And sadly, it's pretty rare between April and December, so we took advantage BIG TIME this weekend.

Spent as heck, we bailed on the course early and returned to the Scamp to start planning out dinner. We hit up Lakewoods for some tasty grub and returned to the camper for some quality time snuggling in the warmth of our camper and watched Pineapple Express with the puppy. The old married couple we are, we had the lights out before midnite, but rose happily as the sun filled our windows to wake us for our next ride.

Thanks to all the help Pete gave us last week, I was able to start the morning off with my very first cup of Scamper Java! Oh, the simple pleasures in life.

With coffee in hand, we took Smokey to the canoe landing to explore (and for Jay and I to use the public outhouses). :O) It was beautiful!
And Smokey had a blast - toeing the edge of the river, smelling mushrooms and rolling on the shoreline, it was the most splendid way to start off my day.
So, once Smokey was tired and ready for a nap, we returned to our lil Scamp, dressing in our cycling clothes, and mounted up the ole bikes and hit the trail again. Today was a perfect late-summer, early-fall day. Cool temps, beautiful sunny skies, and great wooded trails to enjoy it on. If there weren't so many darn races, this is what every weekend could be like, eh? Too bad we like racing so much! ;O)

Well exercised, we returned to pack up camp and head home. Within a few hours, we were happily home and vegging out on the couch. Quietly enjoying the outdoors is so rejuvenating, and yet exhausting at the same time. Although I can't wait for the next adventure, I am happy to be home with my sweet hubby and puppy, lazily watching football as the sun approaches the horizon.

Loving & Living Life,
Kristy Kreme

Monday, September 6, 2010

Another weekend in Heaven... er..... I mean Maplelag


Jay and I spent the last three days in one of my favorite places in the world... Maplelag Resort in Detroit Lakes, MN. Three days straight of mountain bikes, friends, amazing homemade meals served all mess-hall style, campfires, and Scamping! It was perfect and I actually fought back tears as we settled our tab and hugged our goodbyes. The Richards' combine all the greatest trails and accommodations with awesome food and wonderful people, creating a lil piece of heaven in 'the middle of nowhere' MN.

The last two years, Jay and I were spoiled rotten, staying in one of the cabins or lodge rooms, but this year we decided to rough it a bit. Yeah baby, this was our first adventure in our new 1981 Scamp trailer.
Jay found this sweet beauty on Craigslist and there was no turning back. We've been hunting all summer for a sweet lil fiberglass camper to travel around in, and were ecstatic when the kind woman reached her hand out to seal the deal. So, we hit the open road and headed north to break it in with style. The interior is all original, so I'll be sure to keep updating my blog as the remodel begins. :O)

Aside from the killer camping fun, the mountain biking was awesome! With temps in the 60's and the trails were in stellar condition. The time trail kicked off the fun and it was super fast and flowing course. Next up, though, was the fastest race I've ever done. The short-track races went out so freakin' fast, the Elite men set a new lap record! It was like no criterium or cyclocross race I'd ever done.... pulling off sprint-finish speeds for 14 min. straight was a mind-blowing event.

When we weren't racing, we were either hittin' the hot tub with mini lake dips in between or chillin' fireside with a beer and a ton of laughs. Having a camper was like stepping into a whole new lifestyle... rather than being the pair that biked down to the campground each night to hang with friends and bonfire... we were there in the mix of it all, free to sneak off for a nap or to grab some snacks only to come straight back to our outdoor home away from home.

Already countin down til next year,
Lady & the Scamp

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Somebody Pinch Me

To follow up on a killer race, Jay and I headed north on Saturday for the State Road Race Championships in Richmond, MN. The temps were high and the winds were out of control at 15-20mph... and I was very unexcited to race.

We got completely lost on the way to the race, driving around on fumes on a 30 mile detour, only to show up as they began staging for Jay's and Joe's races. Lucky for them, we had a whole five minutes to change clothes and get bikes ready before they rolled out of the parking lot.

Smokey and I hung out of the hill as Jay raced, cheering and trying to keep his spirits high in the race. Although he was off the front w/ Jim Bell for most of the race, when the chips were down, he didn't have a team to pull him out of it and he didn't finish the race. I'm proud of you for going out there, babe, and tacklin' that bitchin hill! Love!

As for our race, I was nervous as hell, trying desparately to keep my breakfast down as I spun out my legs on the trainer. At start time, I was utterly surprised that there were only 5 of us to make up the Women's 1/2/3 category. With 2 gals I hadn't raced with before and 2 others I've put a lot of miles on with, I was excited to see what the day had in store.

We headed into the wind and began our 54 mile trek to the title. Since there were two teams of 2 and me, I made sure I took care of myself where I had no one else to help. Lucky for me, my she-ro Tessy was in the race and made sure I was riding smart. Mile after mile, we battled the wind and rolling hills, working as a group to get closer to the finish.

Each time up the the hill, I felt great. So, with 10 miles left in the race and my legs only just beginning to cramp, I looked around and realized I had a chance to be the State Champion. Tessy is a Cat 2, so she wasn't racing against us. The 2 Heather's were my competition, and they were on the same team. I'd already figured out who the mark was just a mile or two before, so I knew who I had to beat.

At the beginning of the climb, four of us were still together and I knew it was going to come down to patience. This was a hill that you couldn't go too early on. You could throw in an attack with 1K to go, then hit the wall when you look up to see how little the official's tent at the finish looked. So, I waited.

One of the Heather's took point to climb up the hill, with me and Tessy all mighty-duck style on her hips. Heather G rested in our pocket and I knew it was her I had to beat to the finish. We hit the feed zone sign with 500m to go and Tessy jumped left. Heather 1 drifted her way and I took the open line on the edge of the road to make my break. Although I never passed Tessy, I came in as Cat 3 State Champ and put 6 seconds on 2nd place in only a short distance. It was so friggin awesome!!!! State Friggin Champ, bitch please! I still don't know what to do with myself.

And, not only was my hubby there the whole time, wishin me luck, but Tessy was there at the finish to hug me and celebrate an insanely joyous moment with me. I never would have guessed that could have ever happened, but it did and I will be forever proud of that day.
Thank you to everyone who helped me get to this point - Jay, for teaching me how to climb and loving me unconditionally.... Tessy for believing in me..... and to Dads, for making us see that we can do anything! I love you all!

State Friggin' Champ!
Kristy Kreme

Avon Kermesse

A couple weeks back Hwood and I headed out to Avon for the Kermesse / Road Race. As is with most women's races at this point in the year have a low turn out. There were 5 of us gals at start time, but it quickly dwindled down to four just over a mile into the race when Abby ripped the rerailuer and hangers completely from her bike.

Tessy, Alix, Terra, and I continued on once we realized her bike was f'ed and worked as a group through much of the race. As we approached the hill to begin our final lap, I attacked the group approx. 500 m into the 1.5km climb. I was able to get away from the group until Tessy caught up to me on the downhill. She had attacked 500m later than I did and was able to get away, so the two of us pulled of an awesome team time trial for the final 8 miles of the race.

As we rolled onto the hill for the final time, the other two riders were still out of site, so we drag-raced it to the finish. As we crested the hill and crossed the line, Tessy and I were neck and neck, with her winning the overall by 0.033 seconds! Bitch Please! (if you ask me, she went easy on me). :O)

It was awesome! Not only did I have the ride of my life, but I got to ride my ass off with one of my favorite female racers. Then, to squirt a lil whip cream on top, I got my first Cat 3 Road Win! For riding a bike all of 6 times in August, I am flabbergasted! What can I say, it was friggin awesome!

Blown Away,
Kristy Kreme

Spam-a-licious

So, as live has normalized a bit... yeah, only a bit... I finally get to look back at what fun we did have this summer as we held on to life with both hands. My laundry has finally been done for the first time in three weeks, I am caught up on dishes (nothing like 3 weeks without washing dishes to make you up-chuck!), and now I just have to finish picking up the living room and I feel like I'll be back on pace.

Jump in my time machine - we're heading back to July 3rd!

July 3rd marked my fourth appearance at the Spam Jam in Austin, MN - a 25-mile citizen road race, totally flat, blazingly fast, and a whole lot of awesome! The best part is a huge contingency of Silver Cycling loads up in the caravan and heads down to race together. All ages, skill levels, men, women, and children race side by side for the coveted Spam Champ trophy. With all that was going on emotionally, my hopes weren't too high. But I had two of my Hellians along with me, so I knew we could have some fun.

We lined up in the third row for the start and we were all over it when he counted it down and all hell broke loose. The first 2 miles averaged over 30 mph as a pack of some 50 guys and us three gals sprinted away from the rest of the field. We filtered through the various layers of the pack for the first 10 miles, then my girls got caught in the wind and dropped off the back. With winds over 15 mph and the temps in the mid-90's, I knew I had to hang on for any attempt of finishing strong. I was in the lead for the women's race - no time to quit now.

I held on til mile 15 when some of our riders attacked as they made a turn and ripped me off the back of the pack. I was hellbound to get back on and locked myself into time trial mode at 26 mph. The heat got the best of me and my speed dropped to the low twenties, but I started picking up riders as I went. I rode with 3 other guys in a full-on pace line til the finish. As the final sprints began to unfold, I sat up and let them duke it out so I could coast across the line solo with my arms up in the air!

This was my second Spam victory, but the first time I crossed the line to see Jay smiling back at me - it was fantastic! (the first year he flatted and finished behind me). The best part of racing together is getting to share that moment of elation with the one person you love more than anything else in the world (yep, I love him even more than I love my bike... just don't tell the bike).

It's so nice to find that sometimes, when life doesn't allow for training or riding in you free-time, you can still dig deep and find something you thought was gone.

Kristy Kreme

Dirt Roads, Dead Ends, and Dust

Yeah, it's been awhile.... it's been a long hard road....

Over the last 2 months I've spent much of my time out of state with my in-laws. Father Bob's 10+ year battle with cancer took a turn for the worst in July and it became brutally obvious our time with him was short. Jay spent 3 or more days a week, every week for more than a month, spending time with his dad and helping take care of his mom. Every other week I was able to get away from work and join him, taking in every last joke and smile I could.

As August came upon us, his condition grew worse and he was admitted into the Iowa City Hospice... for being such an emotionally difficult place to find yourself, the hospice was extremely welcoming. Anything you needed was at your disposal so you never had to leave. Well, they were lacking a wine cellar or kegerator, so I took a break from the quiet room to walk a block to Dirty John's - a surprising oasis of paper plates, cereal, and candy bars along side a great wine selection and delicious aged Belgian cheese. I figured we were in the Hospice... who's going to take away the styrofoam cup of wine in my hand as I did another crossword and tried to be strong.

Bob was himself until the very end... smiling when you took his hand, joking with the nurses... he even sang me a couple lines of "Boy Named Sue" on the last night I held his hand as he slept. It's an amazing thing to see how wonderful a person your loved one is even when doped out of their minds. We watched him relive his life slowly as he fell in and out of consciousness all hours of the day. And he hugged me, and loved me, and said goodbye peacefully.... and yet deep down inside, I would have loved just one more day.

I had to return home that Sunday night to get back to work, but I didn't want to leave Jay, and Bob, Dorothy, and John behind. I didn't want it to be the last time I saw him alive. But I had to leave, even though the next time I would be back, he'd be gone. On Tuesday morning, a quiet Jay choked out a hello as he woke me from a restless sleep. He didn't even need to say - I just knew. I wish I could have held him then more than anything in the world. I felt so helpless.

I hurried off to work, made some arrangements and went straight back home to fill my suitcase blindly and jump in the car for a lonely five-hour drive. But I knew Bob was looking out for me. As I sat and thought about the last night I held his hand, "Boy Named Sue" came on the iPod and calmed me from head to toe. As I navigated the highways, Jay somehow intuitively called me 2-5 miles before every exit I had to take. I was being watched and cared for, and was safely carried all the way into town and into Jay's arms.

We worked feverishly to prepare for Bob's wake and funeral. It was week 2 of four hours of sleep per night and we did everything we could to keep it together at times. But, when the moment was there, it was perfect. The wake had a receiving line to give condolences around the room and out the door for four hours straight. And I had never been to one so joyous. People came from all walks of life to say goodbye - people Bob met at the hospital he volunteered at, the LabCorp he worked at part-time after retirement, the Corvair club he was a member of, high school classmates, church members, the Knights of Columbus, neighbors, family, and Relay for Life participants. Everyone had a great story to tell, even with a lone tear in their eye.

Come Friday morning, we prepared for Bob's funeral. The church was opulent and I wish I would have taken a photo. The three+ story room was filled with stained glass windows and life-sized carvings of angels, saints, and Biblical characters. John led us to our seats with Amazing Grace on the bag pipes, and I held Jay's arm as he delivered the urn to the priest. The mass continued to celebrate Bob's life by highlighting his greatness and the light he brought to people's lives. Once done, we drove to the graveyard for a sunny and toasty final chapter. The Color Guard presented Dorothy with the flag (yet another way he gave back to the world) and they laid him to rest.

Once all but the last 10 of us were gone, John picked up his bagpipes again and said goodbye in his way. I was the lucky one that day... my dad was still there. He stood by my side as my composure waned in the thickness of the wailing pipes and held me as I cried. Maybe it was the thought of losing my dad, maybe I just couldn't keep it together any longer... but whatever it was, Dad and I both blamed the bagpipes as we wiped tears from our eyes with a little smile.
Thank you, Dad, for being there to hold me. I will never be too old to be a little girl in your arms. I love you with all my heart.

And Bob, thank you for loving me. Thank you for welcoming me into your family and your heart and making life a sweeter place. You have inspired me to live life to the fullest - forget the bucket list, I want to enjoy it now. I miss you and love you always.

Heart broken but not destroyed,
Kristy Kreme