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! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

SPY Belgian Waffle Ride 2015

An update from the dirt&gravel-loving Panda:

Here's a nice throwback to my first attempt at the BWR in 2013:

A photo posted by Amanda Nauman (@amanda_panda_) on

Fast Forward to this year:


The tweets.

The Strava:

I’m sitting in the common area of a University of Arizona owned student housing building in Downtown Tucson. My brother graduated in May 2014 and finished up a handful of credits during the Fall semester. Now he’s home working for my parents and his apartment lease is still in effect. He goes back frequently to visit his girlfriend and stays there.
I signed up for the Chino Grinder held in Chino Valley, Arizona, and figured I’d make the trip out to Tucson for a free room at my brother’s place with the permission of his bff/roommate still there. So here I am! AZ is pretty great so far.

While I’m here, I figured I’d recap the epicness that was the SPY Belgian Waffle Ride.

Women’s Wave:
This was the first year that SPY had a whole wave designated specifically for the women. From the outside looking in, this was such a great gesture for the women signed up! From the inside looking out, this forced us to suffer a bit more than we should have in the beginning. You’re only going to be as fast as the fastest group in your wave taking pulls, so the pace of the first 30 miles of our wave was pushed by Jill Cederholm, Rhonda Quick, and myself. Had there been some strong males in our wave as well, we wouldn’t have had to do so much work in the beginning. Perhaps next year Wave 3 starts 5 minutes behind us instead of 10 so they catch us sooner and let me draft earlier on : )

More Asphalt than Dirt:
I came out in the lead after dirt section #1 and I came out in the lead after dirt section #2! Shortly after Ysabel Creek, the Wave 3 men started to catch us. “Finally,” I thought to myself. However, at this point we came upon Old San Pasqual Grade where I fell off the back of the group that Rhonda Quick was able to climb to the top with and there went the lead with a full Century still left to ride.
Luckily I found a few guys to ride with after Cougar Pass Climb (KOM #2 segment) and came into the halfway point back at Lost Abbey with a decent number of guys to regroup with. Lap #2 was underway and suddenly I found myself in a group of about 20 guys hauling ass through Del Diablo Hwy. I went for it on Sprint #2 segment not knowing that the women weren’t getting a separate Sprint category and that was a full 3 minute effort at 274 watts. Ouch. That burnt a match, so when we turned around and went through Lemon Twistenberg I faded slightly and then took it easy on the road til Lake Hodges were I went as fast as I could and had a blast through the sandy, rocky, dirt. From there it was only Saint Lusardi to look forward to, the dirty Questhaven climb, and the Double Peak dirt descent.

Next year: 28c skinnier tires for sure
Just for comparison’s sake: On BWR KOM#1 which was the only one I really went for I pushed 297W average for 5:28min. The other women that beat me up it went significantly lower and obviously there are a lot more variables there (body weight, equipment weight, etc) but I’d like to think a big part of that was the 35c tires with ~40psi on my ‘cross bike. Even during the beginning of the ride one of the women said, “You are definitely working harder than all of us with those tires.” Hah! But you know what? If SPY had done QOD (Queen of the Dirt) this year I would’ve totally won that because I crushed the dirt segments and loved every second of ‘em.

Mental Power & Emotion:
Shoutout to Devin Riley (Marketing Manager of BMC) and the other guy we were with for pulling me through some mental blocks in between Bernardo to DP and getting rad during the Saint Lusardi awesomeness. In all seriousness this is the part of Gravel Grinders I love the most: making friends while suffering along a crazy adventure. The guys I met along the way and who let me sit on their wheels are true gentlemen and great athletes.

Important to note: I almost cried at the top of Double Peak. What a feeling to know it was downhill back to Lost Abbey.  That sort of raw emotion and joy is what we all live for when we sign up for these crazy events.
There was also more emotion when I saw my mom at the finish of 140 miles. So happy she came to cheer me through the finish!

I'm the only one without a child in this photo. Proof that ridiculous Mom-Strength does exist! 

Kudos to Rhonda Quick for dominating at the young age of 50. I was so impressed by her strength!

Did quite a bit of route analysis the week before the event.. thus I made my own personal top tube route cheat-sheet. Due to the morning-of course reroute around Lusardi Pt1, all checkpoints were off by 1-2 miles but easy to figure out.

Finally, big huge thank-you to SPY. What an amazing company filled with truly incredible folks behind Michael Marckx. I am proud to ride under the SPY banner and with the best-looking shades around. The "other" brands don't even come close to this sort of uniqueness. 

Panda out