Archive | Trips RSS for this section

Muddy Onion Spring Classic

Oh Vermont, I want to run away with you forever.

But for now, I just have the occasional jaunt north. Last weekend, it was for the Muddy Onion-a gravel ride kicking off in Montpelier and looping across 3,700 feet of green mountain goodness on mostly gravel roads. Laura & I signed up back in February, and as the event got closer, Gail and Matt decided to join us. A couple of my KIT cyclocross teammates Kathy & Michele also signed up. The bike tribe gathered to celebrate the end of winter.

Gail & I Laura met up at my place Friday afternoon and we carpooled up to the state capital,  Packet pick up was a cinch at Onion River Sports. Matt had already arrived and the 4 of us dined at The Skinny Pancake–a first for me and definitely not a last! Crepes for dinner were A+.

Saturday morning, the weather for the ride could not have been more perfect. Mid 60’s in late April in Vermont was unusually warm but no one was complaining. We rolled out, and up, and up, and up. We were on gravel within just a couple of miles and stayed on gravel 90% of the time.

The views were beautiful and the rest stops stocked with maple syrup shots, chocolate covered bacon and Pabst Blue Ribbon. We climbed, talked, traded idle chit chat with fellow riders and enjoyed every moment of the 35 miles in picturesque Vermont.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 11.34.57 PM

After the ride we enjoyed a free beer and veggie burgers and BBQ chicken. Back to the motel for a quick shower and we went back into town on a mission to find coffee and Zero Gravity Beer. Unavailable in Massachusetts and brewed in Burlington,VT- both Gail and I discovered this independently and have been fans ever since. We found it in liquor store in downtown Montpelier, and cleaned the place out. The store clerk entertained us with stories of his southern Georgia catholic-hebrew upbringing–a delightful encounter with a unconventionally lovely fellow.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 11.35.37 PM

Gail, Laura and I returned to Massachusetts that evening and rode mountain bikes in thunderstorm the next day. Bikes and friends and great food and drink all weekend. I feel happy and blessed to have these getaways to remind me of what a balanced life is like. Occasionally I get it.

-Karen

Advertisements

Women’s Mountain Bike Weekend-Planning Phase

Plans are underway for another off road getaway with Laura and Gail,  and with interest from others building from our respective Facebook feeds.  Upstate New York is the place, deep in the Hudson River Valley.

 

Bikepacking was the original plan, and I have a better rear saddle bag this year that I’m dying to test out, but this is shaping up to be more of a camping trip with bikes, with some minor bikepacking required to reach the campsite which is off the beaten path and away from parking. The bonus is our vehicles will be nearby enough and it will be easy to cache food and supplies there, but far enough away to feel a bit more off the grid. And there is less stress around route planning, which takes up an enormous amount of time.

IMG_1129

Camping is primitive and we can obtain a permit for up to 10 women. There has been interest expressed by a few different people. My attitude is the more the merrier–it will allow for mingling and new friendships and small groups to break off to hike or mountain bike or swim or do whatever.  I also am a fan of safety in numbers, and this campsite is said to be much more remote than our trip last year. We will be deep in bear country as well, so having more people and cars nearby (about a mile away) is a plus.

Stay tuned…..it’s coming together!

-Karen

 

MTB Nirvana: My Vacation To Whistler, BC

Speechless, which is what this post will be for the most part. I was utterly speechless walking through the Village of Whistler at the base of Whistler Mountain.  DH, full suspension mountain bikes leaning everywhere, being walked, being coasted and hopped down the playful mounds of earth sculpted in the mountain bike park. I did a couple hours in the park and did a ton of other riding, and hiking. It was freaking awesome. Go to Whistler if you love mountain biking or hiking or being outdoors and seeing beautiful mountains and bikes pretty much every time you open your eyes. I’ll leave you with some of the sites I saw while on vacation. Whistler, I’ll be back!!    -Karen

P1050554

P1050574P1050451P1050457P1050462P1050613P1050607P1050474P1050567P1050598

CX Race Scheduling Taking Form 2014

At last BikeReg is showing some of the first CX races of the season and I’m starting to plan. I know, I know, it’s only July. What’s the hurry? Truth is, doing 10+ races in one season isn’t going to happen without some serious planning. Here’s what I’ve jotted down so far. The * indicates races not yet scheduled but based on history, they are anticipated. So don’t hold me to any of this!

Saturday August 23, CompEdge CX Race at Forest Park, Springfield, MA

Saturday Sept 6, Big Elm CX at Butternut Ski Area, Great Barrington, MA

Sunday September 7, Quad CX, Maynard, MA* (Tentative)

Saturday September 27 and Sunday September 28, Gran Prix of Gloucester, Gloucester, MA* (probably just Saturday)

Wednesday October 1, The Night Weasels Cometh, Shrewsbury, MA (Tentative)

Saturday October 4 and Sunday October 5, Providence Cyclocross Festival, Providence, RI (probably just one of these days)

Saturday November 1 and Sunday November 2, Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Race, Northampton, MA*

This is ambitious, and I likely won’t hit all of these races. In my life, everything is subject to change. That said, I loved the course at Quad CX but the race isn’t scheduled yet, and co-blogger Heather is doing Big Elm that same weekend, and driving from the middle of the state to the far west of the state to the far east of the state over one weekend is a bit much. But still, I might sneak that one in. Gloucester will probably only be Saturday.  I might be doing the Rugged Maniac OCR back in western MA on the 28th, because cyclocross isn’t enough torture for me.

Night Weasels has been on my list for a couple of years but childcare is ALWAYS an issue (please, where have all the good babysitters gone?  I swear they are IMPOSSIBLE to find). It’s an hour 15 from my house, and I work 45 minutes away, you can see logistically it is difficult. But hey, that’s what personal days are for. Now if I can only find a sitter….

Providence might just be one day. Depending upon a number of factors, some financial, I may get a room and stay overnight. We’ll see.

I’ll have to wait to see how the rest of the schedule shakes out, and how the rest of my life is accommodating my desire to abuse myself on cold autumn weekends. I do know one thing:  I need to start training right now, because the last few weeks have been light on challenging rides. Intervals, hills, and doing things that push me out of my comfort zone need to start happening ASAP.

Also, for a week in August I am on vacation. I plan to be very active and will be riding, but not big miles. It will be, however, be doing some big mountain riding as I am heading to Whistler, BC to the best mountain bike park in the WORLD. That, my friends, will not suck.

 

mtbwhistler

 

I still have mid October, November, and December to consider as well.  But those feel like a long way away right now, and this feels like a good place to start.

-Karen

Just a girl?

Last weekend, I was at my favorite LBS when I picked up a copy of SingleTracks.  SingleTracks is the free magazine put out by NEMBA (The New England Mountain Biking Association). It’s a nice black & white publication with stories, photos, trails, events  and of course, ads.

I was thumbing through SingleTracks tonight when I came across an ad that sounded vaguely familiar.  It was a company based in Maine that offered 30 miles of single track at their location, tours, weekend trips, rentals, and events.  I had an experience with this company back in 2002 that I’d like to share with you, since I checked the url and the company and owner appear to be the same.  I do not plan of reporting the name of the company publicly in this blog (but email me and I’ll dish freely).

In 2000 I started mountain biking, and jumped in with both feet.  I couldn’t get enough.  I read a very favorable review in a magazine about a mountain bike company in Maine that hosted miles of single track trails, camping, a freestyle park, and yurts for weekend trips.  My family owns a camp very close by to this outfitter, so during my annual vacation there I set out to check it out with a companion.  While I was relatively new to the sport, I had already raced and placed at a local event, and my companion had been a serious cyclist for many years, racing and placing in road, triathlon and mountain biking events.  We were both very comfortable in the woods and happy to explore wild areas.  For the record, we were (and still are) both women.

Granted, there are not a lot of female MTBers in comparison to male MTBers.  It’s a little better now, but back then, it was really hard to find other women who MTBed.  But we weren’t completely mythical creatures.  The following is my story of how our experience went with this outfitter.

We found the location and met the owner.  On the property there was a freestyle park and a yurt, the owner’s home, and allegedly trails in the surrounding woods.  After a warm welcome from the owner, we started to get down to business.  No we didn’t need overnight accommodations–I had a place nearby.  We expressed interest in riding his trails, which as advertised, was free.  His trails, he disclosed, were mostly built on public land, only a small portion of the trails were on his land. He offered to take us on a guided tour.  We declined, we really just wanted him to point us to the nearby trails.  We didn’t need a guided tour, we’re more interested in exploring on our own and setting our own pace.  Then his warm welcome evaporated.  He pressed the guided tour idea.  He wanted to make a dollar on us.  Sure, I get it, of course he’s looking to make some coin, but the trails were on public lands, and advertised as free.  We were too independent to take a tour.  We politely declined again.  Could he sell us a map?  Those too were advertised.  At least our exchange wouldn’t be a total loss.  I didn’t really want a map but I offered to buy one as a gesture.

Then, and I will never forget this moment, he looked us up and down, then glanced at our bikes on the roof rack of the car, and said, “You’ll never find my trails.  I have them hidden.  You won’t find them.”

I was pissed but didn’t show it.  Years of customer service training made me an expert at this.  “We’ll just take the map then.” I said, upbeat.  He left  to get a map.  When he returned, we paid him for it and drove off.

In the car, we were mad.  Really mad.  We both understood exactly what he thought of us, our ability as cyclists, and our ability to find our way out of a paper bag in backwoods Maine.  He discounted us.  And he did is because we were women.

Why do I think this?  Because it’s happened so many times before.  I know because I know that look he gave us, the one of disregard, of no confidence.  He wrote us off with a glance.  You know what this means when it happens to you.  Especially when you’ve always been told you couldn’t play because you were “just a girl.”  Yeah, he was probably a bit put off that he wasn’t going to get a tour fee from us too.  But we just showed up.  He had no other clients, we were not monopolizing his time.  Why he thought it was OK to act like a DB I just won’t understand.

Instead of staying mad, we got even.  We found the trails after 10 minutes of driving.  We shredded the rest of the afternoon.

I’ve always been extremely athletic and active and participated in sports.  I ran as fast as the boys, was MVP of my baseball team. played basketball with boys, fished, camped, hiked, explored, made forts, climbed trees, rode dirt bikes, road street bikes, swung on rope swings, did all and anything the boys did.  I still do.  As a young girl, I fought hard against anyone who told me I couldn’t do something because I was female.

His once over, and his open challenge to us shocked me, even back in 2002, because I hadn’t experienced it in so many years–really since girlhood. And I’m happy to say, I haven’t personally experienced that since.  Men I come across in cycling these days are encouraging, and are excited to talk to women who love the sport they love.  But once you’ve been discounted like that, you don’t forget how it feels, and you know when it’s happening.  People may argue with me about this, but my friend felt the same way I did.

So there it is, my tale of sexism in cycling.  I’m happy to say I’ve only really experienced this once.  Most bike shops treat me with respect, and the men I meet who love cycling are really excited to share it with another, regardless of the chromosome arrangement.  This guy, however, is still in business.  Who knows, people change.  I know a lot of people who have changed their opinions of lots of things through the years.  But I don’t plan to send him any business.

And I still have that map he sold me 11 years ago 🙂  Anyone want to ride with me in Maine?  I know the way.

-Karen

 

 

 

Gran Prix of Gloucester. One Big Huge Deal in Cyclocross Day 1 Photos

They speak my native tongue there.  They speak Boston, and despite a remarkable lack of the letter R in virtually all sentence structures, we’re all talking bikes & fun.  Another year another #GPGcx–and every year I think it can get no bigger, no better.  And then it go ahead and gets even more awesome. I’m going to post a bunch of pics to show you what it’s like.

Tim Johnson warming up.

Women’s Elite race.

AND there is a beer tent.  Nuff said!

-Karen

 

New wheels for my new wheels

I recently bought a new vehicle–well, new to me. One thing that was essential in selecting a new vehicle was bike transport. I have enjoyed the convenience of a pick up truck for many years, and a Thule bike rack mounted in the bed. Hauling bikes was a breeze. I didn’t want to give that up.

However, pick up trucks are NOT conducive for family travel. It was essentially a two seater. So a change was needed.

After several model reviews and lots of test drives, I finally settled on a car that is not longer being made: the Honda Element. 2011 was the last year they made the Element, so acquiring one proved difficult. I had to travel out of state for my Element – not too far, just south to Connecticut.

I could not be happier with my choice. I got a great deal and I love the unusual look. Plus, the functionality is perfect for a practical gal like me. I now have 4 seats, but if traveling with bikes and fewer passengers, I can fold up or even remove the seats completely. I don’t even need to remove the front wheel of the bike.

I’m pretty psyched about how this is working out. Everyday chores like grocery shopping are loads easier, but I can still cart the bikes anywhere I feel like rambling.

20120312-211844.jpg

See how cozy it is? It even has little hooks for my bike helmet. No more rust fears for extensive travel in weather either. Love it!

–Karen