Friday, October 23, 2015

#PandaPower + Sockguy



A collaboration between Amanda Nauman and Sockguy

****UPDATE AS OF 2/1/16****

I'm home from USAC CX Nationals and my trip to Europe to race in the final two World Cups in January!
The last-minute nature of the trip to Europe has left me with some unexpected costs that I need to make up for. I have a little over 50 pairs of socks remaining and would love to sell out! 

4 new products have been listed. I received 4 Hoppy Trails hats from co-owner of Hoppy Trails when we did our Fundraising Raffle at G2 bike just before leaving for CXnats. We decided to throw these in to my PandaPower store so you can purchase the hat along with some socks if your heart desires! 
Buy a Combo package! Hoppy Trails Hat & pair of #PandaPower Socks for 
$45 & Free Shipping!
Only 4 hats are available in the store: Black/Camo, Green, Orange, and Red! Get it NOW if you want it!! Purchase the hat package and I will send you an email to sort out what size socks you would like in the package. Thanks!

****end UPDATE***

There are a limited number so hurry to get yours! This collection will help fund the remainder of Amanda's Cyclocross season through January 2016. A re-order will be put in place if there is high demand!

Similar listing with material and sizing description: Sockguy 6" Cuff

Online =

  • 1 for $18 [$3 shipping]
  • 2 for $35 [$3 shipping]
  • 3 for $50 [$2 shipping]
  • 5 for $75 [free shipping over $75]

If you're wondering, "Why so expensive?!" It's because you're not just paying for socks. You're also paying for Panda support to travel for the remainder of the 2015-16 cyclocross season. It's whole-heartedly appreciated. I wanted to find a way for people to show their support by sending me money but also getting something (like awesome socks that everyone can wear) in return as a thank-you and a way to flaunt your Panda support.

In person =

  • 1 for $15 
  • Special: Buy 2 for $25 if you're looking for extra panda watts

Here's a link to the remainder of my schedule for the season: Schedule & Rankings

#PandaPower socks
#PandaPower socks from the Panda+SockGuy collab are HERE!Available for purchase at this weekend's SoCalCross PRESTIGE SERIES Spookycross!More info coming soon...& Thx to Cross Propz for our new barriers!
Posted by SDG Factory Team on Thursday, October 22, 2015

Camo/Black Hoppy Trails Hat + #PandaPower Socks!

Green Hoppy Trails Hat + #PandaPower Socks!

Orange Hoppy Trails Hat + #PandaPower Socks!

Red Hoppy Trails Hat + #PandaPower Socks!

S/M x1

S/M x2

S/M x3

S/M x5

L/XL x1

L/XL x2

L/XL x3

L/XL x5


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Schedule & Updates

If you're wondering where I've been and what I've been up to, you probably haven't read my post from the beginning of September nor are you following me on social media.

My race reports have found a new home at

I'll try to keep this post updated with my current rankings when I remember to check:

UCI: 139
UCI American: 32
USAC Pro CX: 21

I've had a few inquiries about my schedule so here's the breakdown currently:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Change is in the Air

Change seems to be in the air at the end of every summer…

The words “pumpkin spice” get tagged on to everything, riders start posting photos of their new sponsor swag, SRAM boxes are a thing, Eurobike and Interbike news floods in, cyclocross bike porn becomes increasingly popular, and we’re all tagging #crossiscoming. For cyclocross fans, racers, super-fans, and fans+racers, the real season is just about to begin and the community is buzzing.

As for me, change has also been on tap this summer. I decided to put together this write-up as a snapshot into the realities of bike racing for me personally. It’s different for everyone. The struggle is real no matter if you’re a n00b or a seasoned vet. The offers come and go. The politics make no sense. There’s no such thing as fair or unfair. I’m still very new to all this but I figured my short story til now could help inspire anyone who’s thought “What if…” I’m still wondering “what if…” and trying to make it work.

It’s been a year since I left my Project Manager position in the bike industry with Felt Bicycles. It was an amazing employment opportunity that I’ll forever be grateful for. I dabbled in part-time employment here and there to pay the bills in the past year and it’s been an interesting ride. At the beginning of this summer, one of my main projects was put on an indefinite hold due to funding issues that stemmed from some family problems outside of my control. It was an unfortunate development that left me without a good source of income for a few months and wondering what I was going to do next.

Luckily I had been given the opportunity to work as a social media manager for Tyler Anspach, President and Owner of SDG Components, back in April of 2014 and that steady stream of part-time money has gone entirely to fund some of my two-wheeled endeavors. After a business trip to Taiwan in March, another company approached me to work on their social media platforms after learning of my experience with Tyler. Rolling into summer I was now a part-time social media manager/coordinator for two companies in the bike industry: SDG Components and Pinhead Locks. Give us a follow!

Now as great as these part-time, remote opportunities have been, it’s by no means enough to make a living on. And I don’t mean a bike-racer living, I mean an actual living where I can simply pay all my bills and have insurance. I turned 26 on July 12th and with that birthday left my ability to fall under my parents’ health insurance. So the search for full-time employment began to make a living, get health insurance, supplement my bike racing dreams, and have enough to keep growing a savings account.

It’s also important to note that the beginning of my summer was kicked off with winning the Dirty Kanza 200 event. It was a wild ride with a gift of media attention that kept on giving. I was so grateful for the love and support that came my way following that muddy day in May. Honestly it was the spotlight I had been dreaming of since my 8th place finish at CrossVegas in Sept 2014. I know I have a lot of potential and I know I have the ability to do really well as a dirt-focused female racer. But starting from the bottom where you’re completely unknown and trying to break into the cool kid crowd of bike racing ain’t easy. I was hoping this result would help get me some much needed support in the upcoming year.

I tried leveraging my results to pitch for more support from sponsors, and the overall consensus was that most didn’t care. I sent close to 300 emails and made phone calls to companies I thought would be a good fit to sponsor the SDG Team in the 2015-16 season. I’d say 10% responded, and 5% committed to some sort of product or monetary sponsorship. That’s ~15 companies supporting me or our team this season. I’ve made a note at the end here of all the awesome brands that have committed to helping. I am so thankful to these companies that are taking a chance on our little team and giving me a platform to continue to pursue my goals. Special thanks to Dave Sheek for behind the man behind the scenes with the SDG Team as well. We'd be nowhere without him.

Back to the path to employment…
I graduated in 2011 from Stevens Institute of Technology with a Bachelors of Engineering in Engineering Management and again in 2012 from Stevens with a Masters of Engineering in Systems Engineering.

I only mention that because I’m quite proud of those achievements and have always wanted a professional career that challenged me in some sort of technical field. My first UCI elite cyclocross race was CrossVegas 2013 and my first UCI mountain bike race was early 2014. In the past 4 years I’ve learned that I can’t pick one of those career paths. I can’t sit at a desk all day in an engineering department working for The Man. I can’t rely on the bike industry to take a risk sponsoring young, unknown me to be a full-time racer. I need a balance of both worlds. With the solo bike racing path comes so much risk but so much self-fulfillment. With the solo professional engineer path comes so much stability but so much dullness. I’ve tried both, I understand the pros and cons of both, I respect everyone who makes a decision to do either one, and I knew that for me it was going to have to be a healthy balance of both at this time in my life.

Fast-forward the decision-making process to now…

My parents are incredible human beings. My dad’s had every job under the sun related to airplanes and my mom is a pioneer for professional female engineers and female helicopter pilots. They’ve had their fair share of ups and downs with employment… but ultimately in 1999 they started a business together called Testcorp. Since starting the business my dad’s been laid off from USAirways, hired by and retired from the Federal Air Marshalls, and rehired by USAirways (now American). My mom’s held down the fort, continued her consulting business as an engineer in the aviation industry, and juggled the Testcorp work with my dad. Needless to say Garrison (my brother) and I turned out to be decent human beings thanks to those two and we’ll always be amazed at how they did it all. He and I have worked part-time every summer since high school helping them when the workloads grew.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, my search for employment landed me sitting across from my parents at their dining table talking about how we could work something out. My mom had recently become enamored with my bike racing endeavors, and after learning of the disparities between the support offered to male and female racers, she approached me about wanting to support more women bike racers. This was completely separate from my search for employment but she took it as an opportunity to make both come together.

They offered me a chance to pursue my dreams and make a living at the same time.

So here I am: an aspiring elite cyclocross, gravel, and mountain bike racer with big goals, an awesome team, and great sponsors; a part-time social media manager in the bike industry; and a full-time-make-my-own-hours enginerd and Testcorp minion to make a living, fund the dreams, and afford health insurance.  I’m still trying to figure it all out as I go along, but I’m absolutely thrilled to be where I’m at. Maybe someday the path might change and I’ll get the chance to race bikes for a living, or I’ll throw up my hands and ride bikes for fun and drink beer with a nice paycheck at work… who knows! But trying to balance both is what I need and want to do now.

I’ve always been one to bite off more than I can chew, but I think I’ll take that chance with this slice of life in front of me and see where it takes me…

On top of all of this I have some exciting news coming out regarding "In the Crosshairs" and my contributions to it this upcoming season! More to come...

Cheers and thanks for reading!

If you’re looking to support me, please do so by supporting these companies that believe in me for the upcoming year and let them know I inspired it:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mammoth Mountain- May & June 2015


May 2015 

I went to Mammoth mid-May with my Dad and it was awesome. Here’s a side-by-side image of Twin Lakes at the same location during the same trip. We had warm weather and snow within a few days of each other!

During that trip I rode my ‘cross bike around Lookout Mountain, got stoked on Mammoth Rock Trail, spun on the roads, rode the park’s trails covered in snow, and even rode the Felt NINEe bike around the trails with my dad. It was a great father-daughter trip.


Fast Forward to June 2015

I had a free weekend and even though the training plan called for some longer, more specific miles, I decided to head to the Sierras and play bikes instead. Sometimes you just need to get away and forget the intervals.

Gravel racing and my cyclocross bike have been good to me but now it's time to switch gears bikes. Bike skills don't grow on trees and Mammoth is one of the best playgrounds to improve.

I reached out to the Event Manager at Mammoth during the May trip and they said the XC Course Maps were being finalized that month. The maps are now released and a few people have ridden the course so far!

MTB Nationals: 

2 weeks til USA Cycling MTB National Championships!
Registration and Info here

Here’s the link to the Pro XC Course on Strava:
Here’s the link to the Amateur XC Course on Strava:

I rode the Amateur course with a stellar junior rider and her dad after running into them while staring at the map wondering how the xc course played out. Luckily they knew the route so David and I followed them around for a lap and Meade is strong! Ride:

Course Impressions in Mammoth Lingo:

  • Start in the Canyon Lodge parking lot
  • Ride up the walkway, a small rise people usually use to get on the Canyon Express Chair
  • Hang a right and Ride across the base of Canyon Lodge path to the tow lift next to Chair 7
  • Stay on the steep fireroad that goes up under Chair 7
  • Left on the Big Ring trail climb
  • Climb climb climb
  • Turn left onto a fireroad with a short descent, punchy uphill, short descent, then punchy uphill 
  • Am Course: 
    • Descend Timber Ridge trail. It’s super fun and flowy
    • Short fireroad (Sleepy Hollow Rd) climb at the bottom of Chair 25
    • Turn onto Lakes Trail
    • Lakes Trail merges into Paper Route
  • Pro Course:
    • Pros jump directly onto Paper Route after the punchy fireroad uphill and don’t get to do the fun Timber Ridge Descent (boo!)
  • Paper Route ends at a fireroad transition
  • Descend the top portion of Big Ring Trail 
  • Go over Woolly’s Bridge (in the process of being built) 
  • Fireroad climb to SHOTGUN. Super fun descent. Watch.
  • Shotgun Descent from the top of Chair 7 all the way down to the parking lot!

I was too busy riding to take pictures this month.. but last month I took pictures on Paper Route and Big Ring that are part of the XC Course!

The men and women’s pro races are Saturday July 18, 2015 with the women going off @ 2pm!

This plan is still in the works but I might just sign up for the Enduro the following day, Sunday July 19, 2015. My USAC License has me as a Cat 1 Enduro-er so I may just make Nats my first Enduro race!


The majority of my time at Mammoth was spent on the rest of the mountain bike park. We rode all over the trails. Mammoth is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type of riding because there are so many trails and different routes to take.

Mammoth #MTBnats… BE THERE!

Sierra Love

Aside from spending time riding bikes all over Mammoth Mountain, we also spent some time over on Tioga Pass.
Hiking, fishing, camping, biking into Yosemite Natl Park, s’mores, and all types of other awesome outdoor adventures. The 20 Lakes Basin, Saddlebag Lake, and Tuolomne Meadows are amazing!

After riding my Edict all the way down to the Tuolomne Meadows Visitor Center in Yosemite National Park, a friendly Ranger ruined my day when he told me absolutely NO two-wheeled contraptions are allowed on any trails in the park! This I did not know. If you ever go to Yosemite, don’t plan on riding mountain bikes unless you’re outside the park.

Yeah, I caught that tiny thing! It was a fighter!

Panda Out

Monday, June 22, 2015


Dirty Kanza 200 

AKA Muddy Kanza 197.6

An Epic Recap on an Epic Race

Special thank you to all the photographers who spent the day out on course with us. I've posted some of my favorite images in this recap from Eric Benjamin of Adventure Monkey, Jason Ebberts of TBL Photography, Linda Guerrette Photography, and Coverage Photography. Thank you to everyone who has sent or tagged photos of me from the day, I'm grateful to be able to look back and reminisce on the event. 

Sorry for the radio silence, everyone. I caught a stomach bug in the Flint Hills and it took a serious toll on me the week following the event. I’m finally back up to speed on work, riding my bike, and chronicling the noteworthy moments that transpired on May 30th, 2015. 

My DK200 experience was a 14-hour blur. I’m going to break it down into chapters by mud bogs and checkpoints since everyone can relate to or visualize these segments on the course. I’m warning you now that this write-up ended being close to a novel. Grab a beverage and enjoy the read.

Check out the short-hand CliffsNotes version of my Race Report at Cyclocross Magazine posted this morning here. 

Start to Mud Bog 1 (11):

TBL Photography: 2015 Dirty Kanza 200 - Start and Finish &emdash; 591A0064

First of all, thank you to LeLan Dains of Dirty Kanza Promotions for graciously giving me a spot on the starting line. The first 11 miles were fast and dangerous as everyone weaved in and out of each other on the gravel to try and hang on to the front group. Being near the front from the beginning put me in a position to avoid the mishaps from some risk-takers. 

As a woman trying to do well in a sea of gaggling men, the beginning of gravel races can be very hectic. From the handful of gravel races I’ve attended with a mass start, my strategy has always been to hang on with the front group for as long as possible. This typically means I’m going well above my limit from the very beginning of the race and DK was no exception. Most people would not recommend this strategy as it burns matches at the very beginning of a long day, but I enjoy being at the front as early on as I can and working through the pain that comes from that is just part of the challenge. 

I stayed right at the tail end of the front group and narrowly avoided getting caught in a crash that I later found out was Dan Hughes’ biggest setback of the day. As we rolled up to mile 11, I was able to see the carnage of the peanut butter mud take its toll on everyone ahead of me. A lot of people tried really hard to ride through the muck and it cost them more time in the grass trying to clear the mud they collected instead. 

At dinner the night before the race, Chris Carmichael shared some of his infinite wisdom with the CTS group and one of his suggestions that stuck with me the most was to place a pointed object in the leg band of my bibs in the event that mud would have to be cleared. This seemingly trivial suggestion ended up saving me a significant amount of time. I had a Parktool tire lever in my leg band that helped me clear mud much quicker than I could have with just my bare hands. You can see the lever in my leg band throughout the photos from the day. 

I had to stop and clear mud quite a few times over the 2.5 miles of mud and it took me around 35 minutes to get through! When we started running on the grass embankments, I heard someone yell at me from behind to put my bike down and push it instead of carry it. I soon realized it was Neil Shirley having some serious setbacks as well and I’d later find out that he snapped his rear derailleur in the mud and was forced to DNF.

This fate was not unique to Shirley as the mud forced a lot of people to pull out of the event. Read Janeen McCrae's beautifully written report on the POV of a rider robbed of their opportunity to complete the event. It's a good one. I'm grateful my equipment allowed me to finish the race and my hat's off to everyone who was forced to quit for reasons outside of their control. They will no doubt come back with a vengeance. 

25-year-old Amanda Nauman of Mission Viejo, CA didn't need to look far for motivation she just needed to look at the inside of her cap brim to know what she was aiming for during the 2015 #dk200
Posted by Linda Guerrette Photography on Monday, June 1, 2015

Mud Bog 1 (11) Checkpoint 1 (77): 

The next 66 miles were the grittiest and where I made it hurt the most. Immediately after the mud bog, I wanted to put a gap on the competition early on if I could. There’s something about not being able to see your rivals ahead of you over the course of so many rolling hills that eats away at you. April Morgan had come out of the mud with me and I was hoping my fellow CTS athlete would stay nearby but alas she ended up making a wrong turn with a larger group not long after. 

It was a long part of the day but flew by the fastest as there were still quite a few people riding around me and there was always some feature on the course to pay attention to. I also saw so many unfortunate souls on the side of the road that it was impossible to zone out. Any lapse in concentration could lead to a pinched tire or other small mistake. During this segment I decided that gravel racing is one of the hardest disciplines for this reason alone. It’s easy to shut your brain off and zone out on smooth roads and skinny tires, but when there are millions of sharp opportunities just waiting to take you out the second you stop focusing on the next obstacle, you simply can’t stop thinking and focusing on your surroundings. You end up as mentally exhausted as you are physically by the end of the day.

a classic seen in the #dk200 - rolling hills, acres of open praise lines by various fencing, gravel some fine some not so fine and on race day peppered by riders
Posted by Linda Guerrette Photography on Monday, June 1, 2015

Checkpoint 1 (77) to Mud Bog 2 (87):

Big Poppi Bikes is a shop in Manhattan, Kansas that CTS hires to be the pit crew for their DK200 Bucketlist Event. Aaron Apel is owner/operator and was there waiting for me in Madison. I was so grateful for the quick bike check by Aaron.

Somewhere after I crested the red brick steep climb from hell out of Madison and glided through the next few rollers, I started tearing up a little bit. My emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t believe I was still in the lead after checkpoint one. By no means was I thinking I had this thing in the bag already, but I was overwhelmed that I was leading this far into the race. There was so much self-doubt following me to race day and in that moment it was very reassuring that I was proving myself wrong. All the hours on the bike and the dedication I had invested was paying off. I was winning the mental game thus far.

But it wouldn’t be Dirty Kanza without an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows; and miles 80-90 proved to be another stickier challenge. The only glimmer of positivity during this segment came from Dan Hughes as he rode by me in the gravel rainbow jersey. I was shocked to see him at this point in the race but he explained he had been stuck in the early crash. I don’t remember his exact words but Dan said something along the lines of “you got this” and when a 4-time DK Champion tells you that you have a chance to win, you harden the eff up and get going.

There was so much cursing going on during the one mile stretch of 87.4 to 88.4 because we didn’t know it was possible for a worse mud bog to exist than the first one, but there it was and there we were slugging through it. It was one mile of hell that lasted 30 full minutes and it was bad.

It was so bad that I couldn’t even clear all the mud with my trusty Parktool tire lever. I was schlepping through the mud with what looked like giant birds nests for feet. I was so annoyed I started questioning giving up out of pure frustration. I would try forcing the pedals to ride and crossed my fingers the mud would start to fling off. Instead, the thick mud started picking up gravel rocks like chocolate frosting collects sprinkles and the friction got worse. I picked my head up from staring at my mucky drivetrain and spotted a giant, deep puddle of water where another rider had already begun to de-gunk his bike. I’m not proud of this next move, and mechanics everywhere will cringe when they read this, but I dipped my entire bike in this body of filthy water, got my tool out and cleared the mud as fast as possible. That puddle was a saving grace and got me rolling again. But just know that move cost me a lot of money in water-damaged components after the race. Sacrifices.

Mud Bog 2 (87) to Checkpoint 2 (155): 

Finally able to ride my bike without peanut butter friction, I got rolling again. After his 4 flats, Jason Siegle finally caught back up with me after the mud bog and after a few miles we rode in a group with a handful of guys. It didn’t last very long but a shield from the wind was nice while it did last. I was forced to break off from the group and stop after a few pedal strokes started to stick in that familiar “my chain is going to snap my rear derailleur off” feeling. I found another puddle of water and tried to clean up the drivetrain as best I could. Luckily the scary almost snapping sensation stopped and I was able to push without fear of sheering off my ability to shift.

There’s not much to say about the miles after our little group imploded. At this point in the mental game I was starting to lose. Miles 100-155 were the toughest of the day for me. I got stopped by a giant herd of cattle taking over the road on private land; that was a first for me. Neutral water at 124 was a little relief. River crossings were a welcomed challenge. But this segment of the day lived up to what I thought the Dirty Kanza had in store for me: rolling hills, green grass, never-ending roads, complete isolation, and plenty of time to reflect. Finally, the crunch of gravel came up behind me and there was Clemens Kyllmann of Gurnee, IL, and another rider around mile 148. Kyllmann and I had been going back and forth all day before the second mud bog and I was grateful for the company to Cottonwood Falls.

TBL Photography: 2015 Dirty Kanza 200 - MM 116 Hill &emdash; 591A0670

Checkpoint 2 (155) to Finish (197.6): 

Head mechanic of Big Poppi Bikes was waiting for me at the second checkpoint to work his magic. My chain was creaking, my rear derailleur almost snapped a handful of times, but I rolled out of there with a fully functioning bike again and no drivetrain woes. Kyllmann headed out of Cottonwood Falls with me and we stayed together pulling for about 8 miles or so until I couldn’t match his pace on the mini climbs any longer. 

At mile 168 I stopped to pee. At 169 Matt Freeman finally caught me and I was able to stay with him for about a mile before wishing him luck and continuing on my own. I had to push myself in between miles 170-193. I had eaten two mini sandwiches back in town, but was too mental to remember to grab enough food to get me to the finish. Luckily there was a family barbequing near Lake Kahola and their cheers lifted me up for the last 90 minutes to the finish line. One particular fellow manning the barbeque asked his family, “Did you know this is the lead female of the 200 race and she is a stud?!” Mental game was coming back strong.

Photo by: Patrick P. Evenson

At this point in the event I was catching a handful of riders who were finishing up their DK 100-mile race. All of them provided words of encouragement as I came by and reciprocating their cheers was a delightful motivation for me. These guys and gals had signed up for a 100-mile day not knowing the conditions would eventually push them to ride a very long event almost as long as some of the quickest 200-ers. Kudos to all!

At 193 I knew exactly where I was. On the previous day we had ridden with the Carmichael Training Systems group for the pre-ride to check out the last few miles of the gravel. This is where the pure joy started to come around and I was so excited to roll into town. 

In the last 30 seconds of the race I got passed by bib numbers 693, 880, and 787. I yelled, “Seriously?!” as they blew by me, desperately needing to pass the girl ahead of them who was about to finish first for the day and in the top 20 of the overall. Instead I finished 21st, celebrating and high-fiving through the main street. I never saw those three guys the entire day and had been ahead of them the whole time, but they were too focused on the finish line to care. It was the only fleeting moment all day where I was a little angry but at that point it was impossible to trump the elation erupting from the crowds.

The night before the big day, riders gathered at the Emporia Granada Theatre for a quick meeting to go over any last-minute important information regarding the event. The Queen of Pain, Rebecca Rusch, stood up in front of the crowd and gave everyone her suggestions for the race with eventual winner Yuri Hauswald. What stood out to me the most was her advice on pacing and to be smarter, not faster, than everyone else. I was motivated all day by her words, her wisdom, and her presence in the race. It was an honor to be in the same event and I still can't believe I now share this title with one of the greatest female athletes in the world.

Downtown Emporia was electric as I came into the finishing straightaway and I held back my emotions when it finally hit me that I had won the premier endurance gravel race in the country. I beat the mental game, rode as hard as I could, raced the sun, and I won.

This was the moment I saw David waiting at the finish with LeLan. He had been riding with Freeman all day and after getting to Cottonwood he decided to ask for a car ride to the finish line so he could see me finish first instead of finish his race. He came home from the 2014 DK200 after finishing 10th overall and said, "You could win this event." He's been the biggest believer in me and I don't thank him enough for everything he does to support me.  His sacrifices helped get me to the line and I'd like to think we achieved that together. 

Everything I’ve raced the past couple years is typically self-supported with the goal of increasing my exposure to potential sponsors and at the very least I hope this event will continue to prove that women are capable of incredible feats. Thank you to everyone who helped me achieve my greatest result to date and especially to Carmichael and the CTS crew for their support. 

If you’ve gotten this far in my novel of a race recap, thank you for reading. I hope it gives some insight for you if you’re considering participating in the event, motivates you to enter a gravel ride/race, or inspires you to take on an epic challenge. I promise the human body and mind are capable of amazing things when you believe.

TBL Photography: 2015 Dirty Kanza 200 - Start and Finish &emdash; 591A0073

2015 Women's Champion of the #DK200

Friday, May 15, 2015

Belated Mother's Day

Mother's day was this past Sunday and coincidentally this week my mom finally added the emoji keyboard to her iPhone... Thus I had to share what consequently happened...

Hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2015 Chino Grinder

My current employment allowed me the ability to head to Arizona for the week following the SPY Belgian Waffle Ride. I stayed at my brother’s place in Tucson (explained here) and enjoyed the riding around the area for a few days while getting some work done in a new environment. Friday I headed north of Phoneix and stayed in Anthem, AZ the night before the Chino Grinder.

Desert Riding
Tucson Mountain Trails
Saving this snake from getting run over in Anthem, AZ

The course was a 106 mile-long out and back from Chino Valley, Arizona to Williams, Arizona. We made our way through the upper Verde Watershed of the Prescott and Kaibab National Forests. It was beautiful!

More Dirt than Asphalt:
There is a claim to be approximately a 60/40 split between gravel and paved roads. Yippee!

First Half:
The first 20 miles were all gravel, hectic and awesome. It was about a 10-mile gradual ascent followed by a 10-mile gradual descent. The pace was much faster than I anticipated but it was probably due to the fact that the safest place to be was up front, therefore everyone at the front kept pushing forward ahead. 

After the first aid station, it was a steady, continuous climb for what felt like forever! Everyone strung out after the aid station and I found myself behind the wheels of Scott and Josh. These two became best buds as we made our grueling way up the never-ending climb. Mile 29.2 was the transition from dirt to pavement. We came up behind Caroline Mani shortly after the pavement and my two new friends urged me along to get ahead of her. We managed to push the pace for just enough time to pass and there I was on the front of the women’s race. 

Don Kellogg was hanging out passing water bottles to riders somewhere around mile 35-ish. I had lost a full bottle with calories during a bumpy gravel section around mile 12 earlier in the race, so I was so thankful for this bottle hand-up from the Raleigh Clement team. They ended up offering neutral support to everyone at the race! At mile 44-ish there began a series of hellish rollers up and down til mile 51-ish where we turned onto the dirt climb to the Elk Ridge Ski Area. Scott and Josh were with me the whole way and we made a good team. That dirt section felt too long, especially with the smell of bacon getting stronger with each pedal stroke and while guys began to come down the other direction. 

Once I was finally at the top everyone kept reminding me I was indeed the first female they had seen. One particular guy, who I later learned was named Jared from Flagstaff, pointed at me and yelled, “BACON?!” I replied, “no… Coke!” A very nice volunteer got me a Coke (which I proceeded to drink too quickly) and I refilled my bottles. Jared continued to remind me that I needed a piece of Bacon, so I caved and grabbed the most beautiful slice of bacon as I jumped back on my bike and shoved a banana in my back pocket. Nervous about maintaining my lead, I left Scott and Josh at the aid station and moved on ahead of them, but still very thankful for their company.
Because I can't say no to bacon mid-race.
Second Half:
Aside from helping me with the reminder of needing a piece of the Elixer of Life (aka bacon), this guy Jared helped me down the mountain. I happened to roll down the gravel to start the second half near Jared and another guy named Josh (not Josh from the first half). As we hit the pavement they started asking me if I was the lead woman, to which I responded yes! Jared said, “well let’s get you home then!” Like I mentioned in my BWR post, thank goodness for these guys. True gentlemen and great athletes.

The 14 miles of pavement that we had climbed on the way up was now the most ridiculously fast and fun descent. It was one of those long descents where you have enough time to think and be amazed you even climbed up it. And I also had the wheels and wind-shielding drafts of Josh and Jared in front of me on the way down.

As we hit the dirt when the pavement ended I knew something was wrong. My rear tire was LOW. Like squishy-feels-like-a-tubular low. I proceeded to gingerly get my bike through the next NINE miles of gravel without flatting somehow. Luckily I made it to the aid station carefully enough and yelled “Pump!” A volunteer grabbed his pump and laughed when he started to inflate, telling me it had barely any psi. I probably burped it or there was a crazy slow leak at some point. Regardless, I was happy I didn’t lose too much time going slow on the gravel descent. 

Somewhere towards the last home stretch of gravel, it started to rain. Yes, rain. Every so slightly and the drizzle was welcome. There was a gentle breeze that sometimes shifted to a tailwind carrying me straight to the finish line with a giant smile on my face.

Daily CX Bike w/ 35c USH Clement Tires
Perfect for this race.
After reading Nicole’s post on her 2014 Chino Grinder woes I was hoping my tubeless set-up with Clements and a giant saddlebag filled with every just-in-case safety measure would be good enough.

Finally, big huge thank-you to SPY Optics AGAIN! SPY took care of my registration for this event as the Chino Grinder is presented by SPY. Can you name another company like SPY who’s promoting the adventurous lifestyle through dirt and gravel? I’m thankful that they’re at the forefront of this and as always am proud to see happy with them.

Panda Out
Thanks Osmo, for your Preload magic!