The Aspen To Austin Crazy Weekend

This past weekend was pretty ambitious in terms of my commitments but in the end it was very successful on a number of levels. Finished well in the NMBS mountain bike race on Saturday and had a great morning with a software company in Austin….

This weekend has been an absolute whirlwind of awesomeness. First off, I had SO much fun in Snowmass racing the NMBS finals. For those non-mountain bikers in the audience it is the last of the US National series mountain bike races… kind of like XTERRA’s Lake Tahoe race. Only the fun didn’t end on Saturday with just the race as I was in Austin, Texas printing off some last minute documents to get ready for my talk with an amazing group of computer types from S2000 software by 9 pm that evening. I am so incredibly lucky to get these crazy amazing opportunities. From the fun I had battling with my friend Jenny Smith on the mountain bike course to meeting 9 new people from the technology industry with such great personalites, really this weekend was a treat. So on to the details….

I have been in Colorado for almost three weeks now. The past week I stayed in the Middaugh’s place in Vail. It was a great home base to train for Snowmass with the race course near enough to get to for a course reconnaissance and a super group of multisport athletes to do some other training with. My week in Vail included some great swims with Karl at the East Vail Club, had fun trying the Dunk n’ Dash (kind of ugly because of my foot and my cap coming off every 100m – but FUN!) and some tough efforts on the Computrainer at 8000 feet. Altitude still kicks my ass! Anyways, I was feeling pretty good going into the Snowmass race because I had some good days training in Vail so I was excited to see what was going to happen on race day.

The day before the race I packed up and relocated to Aspen. I was staying with a wonderful man named Tom Sharkey, who is all things cultural, design and art. As soon as I arrived I knew he was going to be great to hang out with… even though I was not so fun to hang out with given I had a race first thing the next morning. Luckily he is a mountain biker too so he understood the racing thing. We had a great chat over a glass of wine (Hahn Vineyards Meritage… a go-to wine for Mel) and Mel’s quinoa pasta concoction and then I called it a night early.

The next morning came quickly and a 6 am I had the espresso rocking and Nature’s Path oats ready to go. Thanksfully Jeff Maier (Kristina’s hubby, one of the three BMC-Sports Garage girls including Megan and Jen that were also racing) was there to help hand bottles to all of the BMC girls. He rode up to the feedzone which is not a short ride particularly with a backpack full of bottles! After a quick warmup, staging, lining up and the gun going off, it was go time! I felt that the start was really important. I was using this race to find a new pace at altitude before our race next week. I wanted to go mental for at least 2/3 of the race and then see what I have left (our races are shorter on the bike than the mountain bike races so really, harder is better! ). I had a super start, moving myself up to the front group as we entered the single track. It was very, very hard. Then, we started the 30 minute climb, largely steep, small ring climbing to the circuit at the top. I felt pretty good and kept the leaders in sight for all of that climb. Then we were on the circuit loop at the top with a tiny bit more climbing before we dropped into the first bit of rocky singletrack, which I rode so bad! I don’t know what was up. I really struggled with that section and the next one connected to it for some reason so I pulled over to let Willow get on her way while I baffed it all over the place in there. Through the feedzone it was funny because I was looking around for Jeff and at the last minute I saw him jump up to feed me – I guess he didn’t expect to see me with Willow at that point, HA! Anyways, I rode through the rest of the loop and was so hurting on the highest granny climb at the top I knew I was losing time. So much for going mental, I felt terrible up at the top and it was all I could do to feel like I was racing and not just blowing up. I guess that was expected given it is all about 9,500-11,000 feet up . I lost another spot in the first piece of singletrack (crashing and dropping my chain) and then at the very top in the steep bit I hated so much, Jenny Smith got me. However, when we started going down a bit I found new life. I decided not to let her go. And I didn’t…. we rode all the way to the bottom with me pressuring her from behind on the descent (Jenny, can I come by?) and her riding away every time it went up. It was really fun! We finished together at the finish, her taking 7th and me 8th. I am pretty sure Jamie Whitmore was behind us in 9th, so pretty solid XTERRA girls day at the races. Shonny Vanlandingham rocked out a fourth place so I am going to keep an eye out for her next weekend! For a race that high, I am stoked. Seriously, go back and read stories about some of my racing at altitude, normally I would expect to be WAY back for a race that high. Not anymore. So when we go down 4,000 feet for the race in Ogden, I am sure there will be some whoopass dealt by Mel. All in all, a great, great training day.

Then, basically before my heartrate had dropped back to normal, I had packed my stuff into a backpack ready to be whisked to the airport by my king of awesomeness homestay Tom. The wonderful United agent hooked me up with exit rows for both legs of the trip. Of course, I needed as much space as I got given I was freaking out completely flying from Aspen to Denver. Rock and roll, yikes! Rough air coupled with us flying on a jet that was obviously a Fedex plane in some other life – I had all sorts of weird thoughts about our safety. Luckily we were all in good hands and the pilots got us there safely to a roaring applause from the passengers onboard. The next flight to Austin was much less eventful. I arrived to the hotel safe and sound, finished my last preparations for the morning meeting and went to bed.

In the morning I met Rex Hutton, the owner of the company, for breakfast and a rundown of who I would be speaking with that day. We also had some discussions about sport given the Rex is an avid multisport athlete himself so it was really not difficult to find common ground. We also talked about how great a city Austin is for training, as evidenced by Desiree Ficker’s success.

The group I was speaking with was relatively small so instead of doing a full on speech, with audio/visual aids and a lectern, I decided to make it more of a round table discussion. I think it was wonderful to do it that way as it was much more interactive. There was lots of opportunity for me to learn more about what was involved in their jobs and real challenges they encounter. As a result, I think the whole presentation was much more personal. I am hoping they liked it and took something away from it and I look forward to getting some feedback at a later date.

So after the meeting I went online to find a pool in Austin and ended up at the Deep Eddy Pool, which is not far from the hotel. The pool was super cool but a bit wacky, starting with the length. It is a 33 yard pool and the last time I swam in a 33 yard pool was in London, England a couple years ago. Basically you throw out all your interval times completely. Added to the wacky length was the fact there was not a seconds clock anyways so I just basically did a lot of whatever, enjoyed the fresh, cool water and swam leisurely. It was wonderful.

My amazing cab driver came back for me in 90 minutes on the dot (the cab drivers in Austin are SO interesting!) and we had a great discussion about American politics, essentially with him talking and me listening. He is an ex-military person and was SUPER knowledgeable about current events and I really appreciated all he had to say. The ride to the airport was over in a flash. I managed to get some good seats on check in and when I was at the gate – WAS UPGRADED! I am telling you, this weekend has been an absolute cornucopia of fabulous. So now I well on the way back to Aspen where I am going to hop in my car and jet to Utah pronto. I want to wake up in Salt Lake City, Utah fully focused on the next task at hand.

Getterdone at the Mountain Championships.

Thanks for reading, we’ll discuss next week.

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