Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Coaching at Discovery Bike Park | DISCO MASH

Alex, my partner in crime coaching at Disco.

Super fun time coaching with Alex at Discovery Bike Park. This new skills park in extremely fun with ladders, drops, gaps, seesaws, giant berms and fun step-ups.

This bike park is open on Saturday's and Sunday's in the summer 10am-4pm. The lift operators are really cool and there is always a cool vibe with folks cooking up sausages and chillin in the parking area.

Alex took the advanced kids that wanted to learn how to the road-gaps and I took the beginner/intermediate kids to work on the basics and push limits to try new things.

The day was hot as heck since it was during the 100 degree heat wave, but it didn't feel that bad which was surprising. I had a ball demoing bikes from Missoula Bicycle Works (Kona Operator) and really enjoyed coaching my crew.

Big thanks to Disco for having us out to ride and lead clinics. What a great mountain to drop!
Jen enjoying a sweet wood berm at Disco bike Park
Happy Jen on the chairlift
At the top of S-line waiting to drop

Old friends from Bozeman


MT Alpha jr girls program

Excited to be on the MTB MISSOULA Board

Jen and the Boys. MTB Missoula board members and volunteers at Sheep Mountain to clear trail.

Excited to announce that I am the newest member on the board for MTB Misssoula!
MTB Missoula works with the City of Missoula Parks and Recreation Department through an Adopt-A-Trail agreement. We work with the USFS – Lolo National Forest and have a Challenge Cost-Share Agreement to do work on area Forest Service trails. We work with Montana State Parks and the Montana Conservation Corps to promote trail maintenance and development. We are affiliated with IMBA

MTB MISSOULA Facebook Page

My saw for the day
Tail Super Hero
Early monring at the trail head, working out which trails to go clear with chainsaw.
CHEERS!  Jen with fellow MTB Missoula board member and legend Bill Schultz

Enduro Race! Hair of the Dog

Coach Jen with Jr Mt Alpha girl Hannah Wolf
 Montana's Enduro series has been selling out well before the race. Though enduro is a relatively new discipline, its popularity among both men and women is indisputable. While men continue to significantly outnumber the ladies, the women’s fields are growing. Last year when I raced Hair of the Dog it was a small field and I got on podium without really going all-out. I road a safe race because I was injured, this year the field was HUGE!  This is cool because for many women, the sport feels approachable. The emphasis on skill over cross country’s intense fitness demands makes enduro an appealing alternative. While downhill requires a specific bike, most trail bikes these days are enduro race-ready straight out of the box.My bike working since it is super light for XC racing and is full suspension. It is not ideal however, I would like to have more travel in the front since my suspension is only 4 inches, but it gets the job done. Also, I have a wish for small wheel size. Again my bike is rad for racing with 29 inch wheels that power up hills and over osticles, but in enduro having a 26 or 27.5 would be nicer on all the downhill cornering sections.

Honestly enduro feels like a return to my roots. I got into mountain biking in the early 1990s,and John and I would travel too races all summer and enjoy this great community of riders. Enduro races look a lot like the way many of us actually ride mountain bikes—suffer through the climbs in order to rail the descents. The 90's were good times.
Jen at the last stage
This year I was stoked to get a couple of my JR Girls onto Deadman's which is the first section of the Hair of the Dog stages. This trail is really rough, more of a giant rock, motorcycle pain-fest. The motor guys rip it up all summer, so when we get on it, it is usually trashed. But, this is part of the challenge and what I always expect, so it is ok.
Hannah, Coach Jen and Maddy at the top of Deadmans
My Jr Girls included Maddy and Hannah. These two love DownHill, and of course they slayed it. We also went up with some women on our MT Alpha team and they were impressed with my high school girls.

Hannah ended up racing the Enduro and did awesome. She was the only Jr Girl to sign up for the long day which included 3 stages and tons of elevation to climb. I hung back with her and waited at each stage, she rocked the course with only a few wrecks and won a metal at the end of the day during awards.
Hannah - Only Jr Girl to sign up

Montana Enduro Dudes - Love these guys out of Helena

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Missoula Eliminator Urban MTB Race

Jen dropping the skinny
Women MTB racers have long occupied a small niche within the mountain bike community, and elite downhillers remain a rare breed, but Urban MTB girls are probably the smallest niche.
This is why the downtown urban eliminator race had even fewer girls willing to participate. Imagine racing on concrete and hucking a big gap jump with hundreds of people cheering in downtown Missoula. F.R.I.G.H.T.I.N.G

However, I always sign up for stuff like this. I don't know why, I guess it sounds fun to me and I think I can possibly do it. (John says I can be too positive for my own good.) Anyway, I got seeded with the #1 Pro racer. This girl was all business, so when we lined up together to charge full speed through Missoula's downtown concrete parking lot with screaming fans, I was crapping my pants. 

On the course were massive logs to bunny hop, a long skinny 2x4 tabletop with a drop and a big gap jump at the end. I was determined to ride every feature and not take the "chicken line" since it was slower. I figured since this girl was a pro, she would ride every obstacle with grace, so my race plan was set.

When the whistle blew we were off, I stayed on her wheel to the first obstacle, then I noticed she was riding safe. She was not aggressive over the logs and was avoiding the table top skinny, so I powered though the features and got the lead. All I had to do was jump the gap to the finish. Coming toward the screaming fans (which included kids I coach, kids I teach, all the bike shops, other pros and most of Missoula since it was "Out to dinner" on Thursday night) I felt confident. U.N.F.O.R.T.U.N.A.T.E.L.Y........I wrecked off the jump. Not sure what I did, but I jumped up imminently with a bleeding arm and ran with my bike to the finish line only to have the Pro wiz by after she took the "B" line and did not jump. C.L.A.S.S.I.C

It was a good show for the crowd however, and of course my husband was at the end with look of "Why do you sign up for this?" - Ha ha, well, I had fun. And really, it was a good example of what happens when the "A" line doesn't work out. The girl that played it safe wins.

Not that I had ANY expectation of beating any of the Pro Women, but hey, a girls gotta try. Kudo's to the organizers for putting on a fun event, the hope was to pull folks interest to the MissoulaXC Pro Race on Saturday and I think the Eliminator did the job.

Check out the Missoulian article featuring this race and on of the boys that I coached the whole week in MTB CAMP. It was awesome that Mason got to compete with the Pro Men on his giant downhill bike. H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S.
After the Eliminator Bike Race

Weekly MTB Racing at Marshall Mountain (Beer League and Missoula XC)

Single Speed Podium 
So, I love this course. This is my home town stomping ground. The Marshall Mountain 5 mile loop is complete with pinchy, steep and loose switchbacks up and a fast descent full of off-camber turns, water bars, a gap jump on the “A” line with a landing between pad-wrapped trees (there is a “B” line to avoid the big air) and don't forget the crowd pleasing ramp jump near the finish. At the bottom is the "local glory" section which I bring jrs to ride and work on skills at the bottom of the mountain. This course is the real deal, you have to be fit and strong to make the technical climb and have guts backed by strong bike handling skills to descend without wrecking. I love it. 

This year my favorite podium moment was 3rd place for Single Speed. It was my first single-speed race and it was grueling on the the mostly up-hill course of the Marshall course.
It was rad to MTB race at night under the lights, however is was pretty sketch in the trees. i really had to concentrate in the dark woods of "Local Glory". Since we were the last race after all the Pro Men and Pro Women's races, it was fun to have all the crowd cheering with a beer in hand. Special thanks to the Gravity Guild Dudes for converting my bike to a single speed.

Since my team helps put on the race, I am usually a little insane on wednesday since I have to run around and pick up beer, get ice, help get the tables, tents, registration, water, set course, ect....Then race and take everything down after. (Someones gotta do it!) Honestly I dont do nearly as much as the board members on my team with putting on the race. Kudos to these girls and all their volunteer time providing bike events for our community.
Checking the course

Running registration

Click here to view my little edit for Beer league

I finished 3 Marshall Mtn races
Race #1 - 2nd women's A
Race #2 - 4th Women' A
Race #3 - Helped Molly when she wrecked in front of me
Race #4 - 3rd place in Women's Single Speed (under the lights) Missoula XC

So far, I have been able to get 2 jr girls to race it (and ride the full course). Way to go Baylee and Allie! 

Baylee and Jen, Allie with a good bleeder after the race
Kristine killing it!
 Fast Ladies with the Boys in Cat 1

When somebody wrecks in front of you at a race.....

Molly's bar end that caused internal damage

Molly in the hospital 

So my women's team MT ALPHA puts on the local Wednesday night Marshall Mountain race which we all refer to as Beer League since we have free beer for racers from the KettleHouse Brewery.

This season has been a great turn out and I am happy to have raced in all the races.

The last race of the series ended with my friend Molly wrecking in front of me on the downhill. I stopped expediently to help her. This was a bad one. Real bad.

When I got down the mountain to her, she was upside down with her bike tangled on top. I used my soothing voice to let her know that I was there and going to be with her. It was awesome to use my new training in Emergency
Responder (I am a teacher, so I have to be certified every 2 years). 

Molly had a perfect circle from her bar end that left a strange bloody hole at the top of her leg right in between her crotch and hip. It was not really bleeding profusely, and she wouldn't let me put pressure on it, so I worked on keeping her calm till I knew a certain "Doctor" that was racing could stop and help me. It was Dr. Rob, and unfortunately he was having a really really really good race in 3rd place in the men's Elite category. Sorry Rob, but I need you to stop. 

Rob was a rockstar, he assessed Molly and put her on his back to hike her straight up the mountain. It was impressive. I held her back side in case he slipped backwards and we got her up to the top of the trail and waited for the first responders to arrive.

In the end, Molly had to go the the emergence room and had a 7 mil hole that shocked her doctors. She was EXTREMELY lucky to have not bled out if the impact had been just a little closer to her artery. If she had hit there, she would have bled out within 5 mins. 

It was another good reminder to try to always ride in control and always stop to help a rider that has gone down. These wrecks happen within a second and the results can ruin a summer.
Injuries are annoying

Monday, July 20, 2015

12 hours of Lolo MTB Race

Waiting for my turn.

This race I did as a Duo with my team mate Julie. Her husband is my dentist and I was in getting a cleaning (she cleans my teeth) and I mentioned to her that I wanted to do this 12 hour next Saturday. Does she wanna race? 2 days later we are registered and ready to go. Funny thing though, Julie has a new baby and wanted to only ride in the morning. Usually in an endurance race as a Duo you take turns, but I was desperate to race so I agreed to endure the heat of the afternoon.

 This was a prettty cool race that included 40 miles of 10,000ft of climbing. Event organizers were giving away a free bike for the fastest "hot-lap" , so I went hard and ended up eating-it. This wreck actually messed me up good and when I got up off the ground to retreive my bike, the bars were bent due to my ribs, a good hard slam to the shoulder and skid down the left side of of my body left me feeling fairly beat-up. Those wrecks suck so bad at the beginning of a race. I had to pull it together and race another 30 more miles with 8,000ft of climbing in the heat of the day. Brutal.

In the end, Julie and I took 2nd overall. It was awesome to be on podium and I was super stoked to be apart of such a great inaugural event. Great job organizers!
After 12 hours of riders on the same loop, the course got fairly nasty and dusty.
Team Jen &Julie along with Jenna who raced on a Coed Duo team
Stoked to take 2nd 

Coaching in the Flint Mountain Range

Secret Trail

Coaching the beginner level is always a challenge to find trails that offer the "right amount" of challenge. Last week I brought girls to ride around a secret lake trail that yields fun and skills.

This ride is flat, but it is full of  roots to manage. I wanted the girls to ride this before I took them to Lake Como trail since roots are a good segway to rocks. The girls worked on lifting their front wheels and pushing their comfort with speed over obstacles. It was also hard to see the trail due to lack of activity and with mid-summer tall grass. We only had one good wreck, and of course it involved an Ant-Hill. Classic 
9 year old Lily charging through tall summer grass
Alwasys a good challenge
Time to work on Bunny Hops?

100 girls at the Mt ALPHA Skills Clinic!

Next Generation

So this years skills clinic was amazing! We sold out again to fill our permit for 100 riders. This was my 3rd year in a row coaching the littlest rippers on bikes. Our jr girls category was such a delight with 9 year olds that were eager to fly down single track.

Special treat for me to have my high school girls that I have been coaching for years come help me and lead small groups. I loved watching them mentor the younger girls and deal with the challenges that come with coaching kids with limited skills.

We had one girl brake her arm, so that was a super bummer. She went down on a classic corner that I know many folks wreck on the Ewok Trail. Luckily this 10 year old has a great attitude and came back for awards later in the afternoon to cheered by 100 plus women on bikes.
Thanks Zilla State for the use of this rad van to shuttle girls on trail! We can load 10 bikes on this bad boy!
Giving out award to the youngest girls in the clinic
Introducing Coaches to the 100 women that signed up for our clinic. Pro Rider and Olympian Sam Schultz on the right.
Dads giving me their daughters for the day.

Rocky Terrain - Coaching at Lake Como

Awesome day coaching these girls at lake Como!

The trail was super rocky but flat. So the girls got to work on their technical skills. No real hills to climb or descents to drop, so the 7 mile ride was focused on taking a good line and charging over bumpy terrain. I was happy to see the girls "trust" their bikes. I kept repeating that their bikes were made for this type of biking since many complained that it was too bumpy. I also stressed having more speed to get over obstacles while standing up to avoid "pinch flats" since so many of the girls still want to sit down. Standing with parallel feet takes time, and many of the girls are building up strength to stand up for longer on downhills and over obstacles.