Friday, October 4, 2013

thank you, amy

meet the pros night - catamount classic, vermont - july 2013

This is what happens when you say, "Hey Amy, I'm taking a picture. Do something."

Among many, many things, I'll miss Amy's cool demeanor that could pop into hilarity at the slightest catalyst.

Thanks, Amy for being you and in doing so, being a light that touched so many hearts around the world.

photo credit:
Amy Dombroski 1987-2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

rider journal: off season

non-force chiropractic - let the healing begin 

I’ll be racing cross this year, so it’s not going to be a full ‘off-season. But now that Cross Vegas is done, I’m taking time some off the bike. And since my legs were a no-show at the bike show – I’m thinking it’s a timely move.

Click here to read more on the crankbrothers race club journal

Thursday, September 12, 2013

velonews post: recapping worlds

The mountain bike worlds have come and gone. And like all events, it has been measured on a lot of levels, by a lot of viewpoints. Team management may focus on how the U.S. as a whole did; mechanics, if the bikes were in working order on time; the riders on personal performance. For an event like this, the host country will likely weigh in on how the event went and showcased the area. Worlds is a lot of things to a lot of people.

I find people’s responses to their performance interesting — especially if it was below the mark they set for themselves.

Click here to

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

rider journal: what's worlds like

I’ve gotten a few questions on what it is like to go to Worlds. I’ve only made it Worlds three times now, so maybe I have a limited experience, but here’s some points from my trip to Pietermaritzburg that stand out in my mind on what it is like to race at the World Championships.

Click here to read more on the raceclub rider journal

Thursday, August 22, 2013

q&a - free time on the 27.5


Hi Judy-
Congrats on all of your success and going to south Africa too. I am an Xterra athlete and raced 29ers last year. Do you think the scale 650b is the way to go for small women? I am 5'3" 115. I race top of my AG at national/worlds (55 AG)
The National (Utah) is basically all climbing and not much technical. Maui/World has steeper climbs bu some fast decent. The 650 is much lighter than my s-works HT 29. Do you think I can get some "free time" with the new ride? thx Lucia


Hi Lucia-

Thanks for your note. Congrats on your success too! Sorry for the delayed reply, but hope to reach you in good time still.

Could you get more 'free time' on a 27.5 wheel? I believe yes. Not knowing the courses you're looking at or your riding style, I don't know what would suit best for the course (assuming you have the choice to ride both). But in my opinion, from most courses I've ridden, I've enjoyed the 27.5 wheel. 

I've really liked my Scale 700 with the 27.5 wheels. Being 5'2", it was a lot easier getting me centered on the bike. And hopping on it was much like getting on a 26" bike which was great for being dynamic on the bike (which is key on technical stuff). A 29er is great on straight lines, but when the trail has turns and twists I preferred the 27.5.

I rode my 29er for a really flat straight race out here in Colorado and thought it was perfect, but for every other course that had turns, I've felt much better and I think objectively rode faster comparing with other riders on my 27.5.

I think a lot of 'free time' comes from being able to corner faster, feeling more confident in the technical and being able to work the terrain which for me is easier on the 27.5. Also, the 27.5 will be quicker on the accelerations so with a lot of turns, you'll have the benefit of a quicker pick up. And if the 27.5 is lighter than your bike, that is always great when climbing.

Key is being confident in what you choose before you get in there, so if you can, spend some time on a 27.5 bike if possible. 

Hope this helps.

Good luck in Utah and Maui!


Friday, August 9, 2013

rider journal: new day, new place

cathedral at sunset en to mont ste. anne in quebec, canada. st. lawrence river in background

Woke up in Quebec, Canada this morning.
Not that I didn’t expect this. I went to sleep in Quebec, Canada – so so-far it means the day is working out. But it means I’m heading into weekend number 5 of racing in a different place – and a different country.
And this is a good thing.
Click here to read more on the Crankbrothers Race Club Journal.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

rider journal: on the road again; coming home from the andorra world cup

    I used to hate being short. Growing up 5’2” wasn’t all the awesome and unicorns most would imagine. I was pretty certain dunking basketballs was in my DNA, but alas my vert was pathetic and future in the WNBA showed no promise.
    tights spaces for me and googley bear from monsters inc.
    But here on yet another trans-Atlantic flight, this time home from Barcelona for the latest world cup race in Andorra, I’m appreciating another moment of my female concentrate container. It seems being small comes in handy for travel on Economy flights and catching lifts to the airport in already packed cars; a certain benefit when traveling in relative comfort for races. Whodathunk.
    Anyhow, it’s back on the road after World Cup #4 in Andorra-and despite being away from home for week #3, I’m feeling pretty energized heading into Vermont for the Catamount ProXCT this upcoming weekend. It’s not that I had a spectacular finish in Andorra, but I had a good performance, a relatively pain-free race and just a really fun time – a happy trifecta on the race circuit.

    Click here to read more on the Crankbrothers Race Club Rider Journal.

Monday, July 22, 2013

rider journal: national champs sum up

Sitting in the back of a minivan right now, headed to Philadelphia International Airport. Figured I better write now, because time always seems to slip away mounting up to months without a blog post.

a warm welcome

We’re getting ready to leave Pennsylvania and notch another National Championships under the belt.  It’s kinda funny. They weren’t the performances I was stoked to have had, but realistically it’s about the weekend I should have expected. This season has just been so off trying to race and train thru injury, that coming in 7th in the XC and 8th in the STX is about what I could have hoped for. I didn’t really come into the race with an expectation, but knowing how fast I was feeling last year (at points), it takes a little reminding to feel happy about how I rode. Huh, guess that is the double edge sword of being competitive – driven to strive for better, but quick to forget to appreciate what worked out. Oh hoy- a life-lesson moment.

Click here to read more on the Crankbrothers Race Club Rider Journal.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

rider journal - the latest from pa

I’m here in Emmaus, Pennsylvania now getting ready for the National Champs races this weekend at Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, PA.

This will be race weekend #2 out of 4 on a mini world tour on the (mountain bike) road for me. Last weekend was the ProXCT in Wisconsin, this weekend Pennsylvania. Next week I leave for world cup #4 in Andorra and will return to Vermont the following weekend for the ProXCT series finals at Catamount.
I’m about one twirling skirt short of being a gypsy – but I’m looking forward to it.

The trip got off to a decent start in Wisconsin.

I like the Wisconsin race. It’s a fun event and it’s in a pretty part of the States. Where we stayed in RedGranite had an old quarry watering hole where we went to soak before the race….and jump. I wasn’t going to jump and just keep it mellow for the race. But when a seven year old next went for it….how could I not? It was so fun I went back again on Monday before we left.

Saturday’s XC didn’t go as hot as I’d like (I finished eighth) but I felt a lot better for STX the next day and came in fourth. I had a lot better legs for the STX and was able to stay in the fight a lot longer. I got popped off the back a couple of times but managed to bridge up on the first few laps – rubber banding behind Chloe, Lea and Katerina. Then, when it was 1.5 laps to go, someone unleashed the Kraken and that was that. The top three were gone. I was chasing, but mostly working to keep in 4th as Teal and I went back a forth a few times.

Later on Sunday I jumped in the Super D. Unbeknownst to me – it had a le mans start. I don’t enjoy le mans starts. I’ve got the running speed of a charging turtle. Luckily it worked out though. I came in third, with the run and all.  And the legs had power for Super D which was good because this race had a lot of pedaling to keep the Super in Super D.

It felt good to have legs. The SI joint has been going off and on all season making it so some days I can ride. And some days it’s just pedaling as hard as I can. But, I’ve been making ground with regular chiropractic work and SI joint strengthening exercises. So…it’s coming around. (yessss!)

Speaking of chiropractic work, I just had a chiropractic adjustment today from track Olympian Bobby Livingston at his LiveWell Integrated Health clinic. He’s retired from racing and has taken his competitive know how into chiropractic. He was really cognizant of me racing in just a few days – so it was a good adjustment. Nothing major, just getting me back in line. Between him and Rose the massage therapist, I’m feeling good and ready for the course. Which is key as the course in itself is a workout.

The pro course here in PA is a fun one, but tough for sure. I’m from Colorado so east coast riding is definitely different. The rocks and roots insist you find the right line for the better part of the course or they take it out on you with a battering or a flat. Or, they’ll batter you anyways if you find the right line or not. There are some good rocky stretches. I hear from the locals that the course has been toned down from usual xc course.  Still, I think it’s fun. And if you don’t ride much back east stuff, it’s a course that’ll keep you on your toes.

In between adjustments and getting on course, we’ve been hanging out with our hosts Matt and Jaime who have been crazy kind enough to put up Chloe and I along with Chloe’s husband TJ and our friend Shep who is our wrench-extraordinaire for the weekend.

Entertainment has been good with fun conversation, Lonely Island videos and Podium Legs. Chloe and I both tried out Matt’s boa constrictor set up that is more commonly called Podium Legs. Those things get crazy tight! It was bone crushing pressure…but without the bone crushing. I hear Jeremy Powers is a big fan. So I di my 10min session and am confident now that I’ve squeezed Powers-type speed the legs.

And on that note, I’m walking the legs up to bed. We’re on the road at 6:30am tomorrow to make sure we make the morning course times at 7:30am. With all the category races, practice times have been restricted to 45minute intervals in the morning and night.

So it’s time for bed.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 15, 2013

velonews post: monkey off my bike

photo courtesy:

Stop No. 6 on the Pro XCT circuit took us to Missoula, Montana, last month. The race in Missoula is one of my favorite U.S. national races. The course is fun. The crowd is energetic. And every trip I’ve made there to date has had some excellent Missoula-esque memories to take home — from a team-bonding clay pigeon shooting outing, to beer-drenched season finale parties (which are awesome for silky hair but horrible for dance floors).
But for two years now, I’ve also left with a feeling of discontent. Sent packing with my tail between my legs by an A-line option called the “Straight Shot.”
Click here to

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

across europe canadian style

 czech country side
There’s six of us and a back hatch full of suitcases in this van travelling across Germany. The windshield wipers keep consistent pace to remind me there’s a pretty good rain coming down from the over cast skies. Out the side window, openings pop up along the forest-lined highway for a quick view of a commercial center, a hilly agricultural landscape or a small town with the expected church spire standing above the rooftops. Conversation runs the gamut from cycling to music, to computers to stories of past racing trips across Europe. But quiet lulls come round too from the long drive. This will be home for the about six more hours till we reach our base camp for World Cup #2 in the Czech Republic.

Europe Done Differently
I’m travelling with the Scott/3 Rox team for these first two world cups. It’s a much different experience than when Chloe and I raced the Czech Republic and France world cups last year. Instead of navigating Europe on our own, I’m getting to tag along with a program that includes five athletes, two mechanics and a team manager. I’m mostly just left to being an athlete. And with seemingly having little left to do but eat, sleep and ride – I’m amazed at how fast each day goes by. It’s been a week, since I landed in Stuttgart and met the team, but it seems like just yesterday.

If you’re not familiar, 3Rox Racing is an all-Canadian crew also racing Scott bikes. The team is comprised of Amanda Sin, Mikaela Kofman, Geoff Kabush, Derek Zandstra, Cam Jette and U23 rider Marc-Antoine Nadon who is more often referred to as ‘Junior’. Kyle Douglas, whose at the wheel of the van as I type, manages the team. And on bass and wrenches following in a different van are Scott Kelly and Gershom Morris. 

It’s a close-knit bunch who in some combination have raced and traveled together for years. Even though Junior isn’t on this trip, FaceTime has come in handy to bring him in for a group hello on occasion. While everyone takes their work seriously, no one seems to take themselves in the same manner. With the constant banter, I’m not sure you could. 

Chloe wasn't traveling to Germany or CZ when I was planning my trip, so the 3Rox team helped me out in a cost-saving opportunity to tag along.

beer selection at the czech gas station
An American in Canada in Europe
Though I’m in Europe, I feel like I’m on more of a small Canadian exchange; picking up bits about life to the North. I’m starting to understand (in a small way) the Canadian mountain bike program too; the allocation of funding, the development of riders, the team building. And to drive it home more, I usually run into the Canadian National Team coach, Dan Proulx who is walking the course at these world cups coaching his riders. Even though he’s a busy guy, Dan always has a smile and greets me by name. Sure to follow as well are pointers on a section or cheers. Having met the coach, some of the riders and learning a bit about program – I can get a bit of the picture on how a country of about 30 million can deliver a considerable percentage of top world cup riders.

Just Before Praha
We’re just over the Czech boarder now, and getting back on the road from a gas station stop. Or in Kyle’s case, just back on the road after getting pulled into a police van as we were loading back up. Czech Republic requires you to have its own highway sticker. It costs about 20euro to purchase it at the boarder, or a few hundred dollar fine if you don't have it. Chloe and I got pulled aside for the same thing last year, but our doe-eyed looks with the non-English speaking cops got us a slap on the wrists and instruction to buy the sticker that instant. No fine, thankfully.

amanda from 3rox. just over her shoulder - kyle in the police van
Kyle didn’t have the deer instincts. But as luck would have it, he was questioned by possibly the one cop in all the Czech Republic who spoke perfect English and who spent a year studying in Canada. In between the details of the finable offense, they talked hockey and about the policeman’s daughter who’ll be volunteering as a translator at the race in Nove Mesto. She also studied in Canada. Canada is worldwide, I tell you.

At the end of the day, Kyle only had to deal with a $10 fine and suffer the sting of talking about the latest Canadian team taken out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. A tolerable consequence.

Almost There
Just a few hours now till our new digs for the week. I’m looking forward to the Czech course. The crowd here was so loud last year,you could feel the cheers reverberate in the trees. The Czech Republic is beautiful and, thankfully, much less expensive than Germany. It’ll be nice not to have to eat to the cheapest item on the menu for a while.

Think I’ll put down the computer for a bit and take in the scenery.

Thanks for reading and thanks to the 3Rox team for all the support.

Monday, May 20, 2013

bad but good: world cup #1 – albstadt, germany

I think this one was a first for me.
the crowd looking downhill at the climb

Albstadt was probably one of my worst finishes, but I walked away with a generally good feeling about the race.

In terms of speed, I wasn’t there from the start. I was slugging it out the entire time. I started 62nd, and finished 53rd. A small gain but it earned zero points, so I’ll be starting in the back again in Czech Republic.

first descent
But I felt confident on the bike. And after having come to some world cup races and taking the B line enough to make me feel non-competitive – it was good to get on the bike and feel like I could ride at this race. Sure this wasn’t the most difficult course, but it had tough lines that could mess you up. And it didn’t help to hear upon arrival that both Germany’s top riders Manuel Fumic and Sabine Spitz weren’t racing because they got injured on the course.

So on retrospect, I was stoked I was taking lines like it was business as usual – instead of having a small dread as certain sections came up.   

Back to Basics
I don’t know if it’s forgetting the skills, getting fatigued, a combo of both or what, but it somehow surprises me when it comes back to doing a line – how it boils down to the basics. Look where you want to go. Get low. Break before the turn. Etc. Going thru my Lee McCormack checklist here.

Chutes and blunders
There were a few sections I went over a number of times to get them down. One was the first main descent.  As far as I knew, it was riding into it slow, turning a hard left just at the end of the slick roots, pointing and riding down the chute. Six or so turns later you were exiting to an up hill. But before that were muddy chutes and tightish corners that caught a few riders. I rode past a girl as she was crashing down the top chute. I realized later how well I was staying focused as I was able to fully tune out the sound of her yelling “AHHHhhh!” as she was sliding down the mud. Another first.
the drop

Air Out the Shorts
The next section was a three-foot drop. Once you rode it, it really wasn’t bad. The entry was good and at least in the women’s race, so was the landing. I rode it, short of any rad style and cheering crowd of topless male dancers. But for me it was good building up confidence to do it. I was running Karmas which had all the grip I needed for the run-out. It was just a matter of doing it. I was pretty happy it became a non-issue on the course. This wasn’t the case for the men’s race when the rains came down. The run out got super slick leading to one fella being carried off on the stretcher. The drop was closed for the rest of the men’s race.

TV Superstah
the rock and log section
There were a few more root sections I was working on making smooth, but the last trick spot was a stretch of three rock and log hurdles. The rocks were slick from the mud. And logs - just want to take you down no matter what because their bitter someone else took them down. Evidently, this was the section that took out Sabine, Manuel and Chloe. Chloe crashed the day before the race and injured her calf. She didn’t race either.

I don’t know that I rode this section especially smooth, but I did make the slow-mo segment on the RedBull coverage. Happy to report I kept it up right I didn’t mouth any profanity. Kept it clean.

Walking Away Happy
I’m not stoked about the speed bit, but it was good to have some victory. I started off last year in South Africa quite the opposite. Fast legs, but I couldn’t ride the A lines and it got to my confidence a bit.

Next stop is Czech Republic. Here’s to the legs, skills and confidence coming together.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

and then you just have to love it anyways

And every now and again, despite your best intentions and all your effort…things don’t turn out quite right.

My last few races (five!) have gone considerably off course. I’m not riding as strong as I have, and figuring out the reason why has been a bit tricky. There’s a number of factors going into the pot. It’s a long story, but here’s the short of it…I hope.

I got a bike fit earlier this year on my Scale 900 with 170mm. In the fit, it looked like I was just on the verge of benefiting more from the 165mm cranks. The idea being it would open up the hips, raise the saddle and get me over the bars more. But it wasn’t for certain. I had to decide.

I went back and forth on whether or not to try the 165s. Cost and the fact the season was about to start were my biggest hesitations. And then figuring out 165mm cranks for the new SRAM 1x11 set up took some effort too because that drive train doesn’t come with 165s. (Turns out SRAM XO 165 DH cranks will do the trick.)

But I thought about the end of the year. If I were standing there in September looking back and thinking I missed out on free (LEGAL!) power through more efficient pedaling, I’d have kicked myself for not making the effort to find out. So the 165s went on in late March.

Not exactly. Rewind to 2 weeks before the ProXCT opener in Texas. Through entirely different circumstances I strained my left calf muscle. The pain started out small and was contained to the calf but has since morphed into bigger pain and loss of power up and down my left side; from toes to the back.

It’s become a chicken and egg question. Did the pain (which seemed to stay the same with the 170 cranks) just get worse on its own or did it get worse with the 165 cranks? Or are the cranks even the issue? I’m working with a functional leg length difference that a lot of cyclists deal with.

Then, add to all of this, I’m just not able to get the heart rate up. What I thought was just a question of my fitness not coming on yet for the first few races, has now lead to blood tests and time off the bike to figure out why I’m not putting out the power I have before. Fatigue? Pain? Residual injury from last year’s dirt swan dives? Something else?

So…coinciding with all the factors I’ve been looking at to determine the best crankarm size, has been a whole other slew of elements to add to the equation, or to at least just help confuse the situation entirely.

I went to the Whiskey 50 late last month, and ended up chatting with Lesley Paterson  (2x XTERRA World Champ and the eventual Whiskey winner, Right on, LP.) before the race. She asked how my year was going, and instead of finding something nice to say to gloss over it for conversations’ sake,  I said flat out that I  wasn’t racing like I could and couldn’t figure out why. And just as quick, she said “That’s the worst when that happens. And all you can do is love it anyways.” (I mean that’s roughly what she said - I wasn’t taking notes at the time.)

But she was right. Getting frustrated is pretty easy to do. And I don’t have time for frustration - or any other emotion that doesn’t do me any good for that matter. (who does?!) And as focusing on the love instead of the frustration is a choice - I’ll take love for $2,000, Alex.

With all the races and travelling since early March, it’s been a little tricky to address this situation. Since I’ve been home for a couple of weeks now, I’ve had more time to work with the PT, massage therapist, chiropractor and my coach. And, I’ve had some time to go back to the start.

Back to the 170s anyhow.

It’ll work out. I’m working with some smart folks. I’ve just got to be patient.
And love it anyways.