Short answer, “Yes.” Long answer, “No.”

“You look miserable.” “I think you have more integrity than this.” Those two quotes rang through my head. A reminder. Surely not a gentle one, but a loving one. Tough love. Those words came about during a conversation with my best friend the night before I left for Oklahoma. She was right. It wasn’t about one thing in particular. Just a mood I had been in for a couple of weeks. There is a lot of stress happening in my life. Pretty normal stress stuff.

Money.

Too much work.

Never enough time.

Strained relationships.

The list goes on. But that list is ever present in life. I had gotten to the point where I let so many of these things get away from me that I forgot how to do them in a way that worked. Last year was just as trying. I did a freakin’ great job last year. I am so proud of 2015…to a point. You are probably wondering how this rambling fits into my Landrun race report. My mental health is just as important as my physical health. The frostbite from Tuscobia was really tough.  This would put my mental health at a pretty low point. I made Landrun my carrot. I was waiting for this race. I knew it would be a wake up call. A slap in the face. I was afraid to get back on my bike. Not because my toes hurt. They are going to hurt for a long time. That was a great excuse though. The real reason was my lack of training. Sure fast is not everything, but for me, fast is fun.  Being healthy is happy. Being strong  is a big part of that.

Continue reading “Short answer, “Yes.” Long answer, “No.””

The TransIowa V.12 List.

  1. I am packing and repacking still.
  2. I am more mentally prepared than I have ever been and physically in one piece (kudos to my new coach Lelan Dains.)
  3. The moon is going to be beautiful Saturday night.
  4. I am very confident in my gear selection (have you seen the Salsa Warbird?)
  5. The weather is going to be perfect.
  6. TransIowa is really just a gathering of the best people in the WORLD and the biggest hills of Iowa gravel.
  7. I am still scared, 5 years into this, so scared. (those good butterflies though.)
  8. I want that pain.
  9. BRING IT ON!
  10. Seriously.

Continue reading “The TransIowa V.12 List.”

Chronicles of Something: Excitement and little guidance.

In an effort to keep my mind on track I am going to start archiving more things on my blog. They will all be kept under the same title, which I am still working on.  I mentioned a exciting announcement and that will be at the end of my list. I am a list maker. That is how most of my non-race reports are going to be recorded.  I want this platform to replace a lot of the words I put on Facebook. It makes things seem more concrete to me, and really it’s for me to look back at.  Just a better way of keeping myself in line.

Continue reading “Chronicles of Something: Excitement and little guidance.”

Tuscobia 150. 2016.

Finally. I had made it to the longest version of Tuscobia. I have been slowly introducing myself to winter ultras, starting with the Tuscobia 35 in 2014, the 75 in 2015, and now the 150 in 2016. I had also been doing Triple D since 2014. I am really happy with the path I have taken to get to the 150. Slow and steady. I have slowly been acquiring gear over those years, testing and learning along the way. To say I am happy with my gear, bike, and preparation would be an understatement. I have an incredible support system behind me who are willing to answer millions of questions and share wisdom. But anyways, back to the race!

Continue reading “Tuscobia 150. 2016.”

2015: A review and what’s to come.

 

This year can be summed up in two words, growing pains. This review is going to be a list, with bullet points because that is they easiest way for me to sort out exactly what went on over the last 12 months. It was a long year. One of the hardest I have encountered in my 26 years of being alive. This post is going to be pretty honest. I trust you all. For some reason… 🙂 This recap is for me, but sharing it is important too.

January

  • I tackled the Tuscobia 75 miler and was the first lady to finish. It took about 9 hours.
  • Triple D was mostly mud and I felt like I was completely covered in limestone. Ew. I was first lady. This also took around 9 hours. This race also set the trend for the year, mud.
  • I was doing a lot of really great training, leading ladies rides, and going on my shops rides.

january

Continue reading “2015: A review and what’s to come.”

NewBo Culinary Ride: Farms, Food, and Fermentation.

Some nights ago I was sitting across from one of my favorite people of all time. Fresh from the pool she was wearing giant Sears cover-alls, a cropped Culinary Ride shirt of yesteryear, gold hoop earrings, and one giant smirk. She is the person who introduced me to gravel and TransIowa. She taught me to love food and life. This is Audrey. She is the mastermind behind the Culinary Ride.  Now in it’s fifth year the ride has been joining food, farms, and people. or as she says it best, “Where everything good comes from.”

Culinary Ride Master-Mind Audrey and her dog Barley.

Continue reading “NewBo Culinary Ride: Farms, Food, and Fermentation.”

Pre-Gravel Worlds Brain Spill.

150 miles. That is the plan for tomorrow. I am so freaking excited. Ever since Dirty Kanza I have had a hard time getting back on the bike. I DNF’d two races in a row and was feeling a little lost. I tried out structured coaching this year to watch it get pushed to the side. My role at World of Bikes is changing, and it’s changing quickly. I moved out of my apartment and into a new one. Some other super new things have popped into my life too. Most of the changes seem to touch on nearly every important aspect of my life. Where I live. Where I work. And my passion for cycling and just living life in general. It’s all a little overwhelming.

2011

So I dug around and found this picture of my from 2011. Riding a $400 bike from Craigslist. No helmet. My favorite hat. A giant smile. No words are needed. That is my happy place. I remember vividly that day. Crashing into a huge rut with my best friend Audrey. Having no clue what a b-road was or even gravel. Let alone an organized event on gravel. Fast forward four years and everything is different, but I am still the same rider.

Deep down I am a competitive athlete. I started out in high-school with an amazing coach, Jamie, and a proud Mother. Between the two I was pushed to my full potential and beyond. I know that drive is still in me, it has just been blurred by the expectations I have placed on myself. I keep expecting myself to finish every race I set out for or place very well. What I really think is important is to step back. For now I am going to worry less about numbers and more about pushing myself just like I was in those early years of being an athlete. These are still the early years of riding for me! I am only 26.

That is the mentality I am going to bring to Gravel Worlds this year. Remember the original reason why I started riding gravel. Maybe take an extra minute to take in the view or try riding a tricky part of a b-road that may slow me down. No heart rate strap or power meters will be doing this thinking for me. I know this race will be hard and I will push myself to do the best I can. Really all I need to do is to just keep pedaling, and I will arrive at the finish line right when I am supposed to.

I am sure most everyone I will ride with tomorrow is sleeping. (except for Rafal because he is currently watching The Predator) But I will see you all out there tomorrow. Even if you aren’t at the race, the support and love is always palpable. For the past four years I have been offered rides to races, places to stay (e.g I am staying at Cornbread’s house tonight), showers to clean off mud for me and my bicycles, and food to eat. That’s mostly what I was getting at. I love this stuff. I love the family I have made racing my bike for the past four years. I am clearing out my mind and getting through these growing pains one mile at a time.

See ya’ll out there!

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When I am not riding bikes, I am still riding bikes.

Just a quick life update! World of Bikes is my main stay job right now, but I also added in a couple weekends this spring teaching a bike touring class through the University of Iowa. This is a great opportunity to test myself and really reach out beyond my typical scope of people. I taught two weekends and it was one of my favorite experiences I have had on a bicycle. Bike camping and touring is where I really found my passion for long distance cycling. Sharing this love with impressionable college-aged students was amazing.

The first weekend in May I was lucky enough to lead the overnight bike camping class. I wrote a little blurb for the World of Bikes blog HERE! Read all about what the students and I learned while riding together and camping for a couple days.

I am so stoked about everything happening in Iowa City. We hired two new women at World of Bikes so we can better serve the ladies in our community. Just last night we taught 8 women how to change flat tires! Empowering women is one of my favorite things to do.

Ladies fixin' flats!
Ladies fixin’ flats!

I was also chosen as the most inspiration lady at TransIowa so keep an eye out for some more words of wisdom ladies! If you have any thing you want touched on or questions answered email me at andrea.cohen@worldofbikes.com and I will do my best!

Dirty Kanza training is going well and I am excited to see how I do for my third go at this thing! If you haven’t heard the interview I did with Danielle about DK check it out HERE! All I can do from here on is keep riding and hoping for amazing weather!

Landrun 100: All about that clay!

I am a simple lady. Riding bikes keeps me happy. Rain or shine, snow or burning sun, you cannot keep me off of these things. Factor in a burgeoning gravel scene and I have found my passion. 2015 will by my fourth year competing in endurance gravel events. I was instantly drawn to the format and ease of entry, mostly free! Within these four years of graveling the races have grown immensely. The TransIowas and Gravel Worlds have set the scene for a calender of races that happen nearly every weekend year round. My first choice of 2015 would be the Land Run 100. This would be the third year that District Bicycles in Stillwater, OK would be running the race. I had attended the race in 2014 and knew I would be back this year. Picking and choosing gravel races is hard because they are all impassioned, exhilarating events. I like that Land Run 100 is an easily accessible event, but it is challenging. It really embodies the spirit of true gravel racing. Unpredictable and sometimes mind-bending. That is what I was searching for and boy did I find it!

Continue reading “Landrun 100: All about that clay!”

Route Planning 101: To the Gravels and Beyond!

This past weekend I was a part of the TransIowa V.11 Clinic. The clinic was in Des Moines and since I am still without a car I decided the best way to get there was by gravel. Makes sense, right? I got a couple of questions about how I made my route and what roads I took. Realizing that making routes is one of the trickiest parts of getting out and riding I am going to share exactly how I crafted my route to Des Moines!

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The finished route.

The first step of planning is making sure this is actually a possibility. I wouldn’t have to cut into any work or fun-time responsibilities so it was on! I made support plans with a friend who offered to come get me if I needed and to also take me back home on Sunday, which made planning for Saturday that much easier. Finally before I even thought about my route I double-checked my bike and gear to make sure it was all still there, TransIowa had been at the back of my mind for nearly 6 months.

Next up is the route. I will typically start browsing a few key websites to see if anyone else has ever ridden where I am going. To keep things simple I stick with Strava and Ride with GPS for this. I do pay for Strava premium mainly so I can download the GPX files straight to my computer. Within Ride with GPS I can save the GPX files to my account and load them to my Garmin 510 for free!

RIDE WITH
Saved routes from Ride with GPS.

Once I have scoped out some of the previous routes I start building my own. I use Ride with GPS to make an actual GPS route. While I have this page open I will be checking Google Maps, the Iowa Gravel Roads website, and the Iowa DOT county maps just for a little extra help. Between the Iowa Gravel Roads Website and the DOT county maps I know if they roads are gravel, paved, or B-roads. I will then double check to make sure the roads exist on Google Maps. I had a destination in mind and the mileage was easy to tweak due to the straight lines I could take. I ended up pretty lucky with two towns to roll through and at least 3 C-stores to stop at. I do not pay for Ride with GPS because I can upload the GPS files at no cost! The file type I chose for my Garmin 510 is the GPX track.

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The Final Step

My last and probably favorite part of creating these longs routes is my final step. I go through the route and make a paper cue sheet. Then I delete my route and recreate it on Ride with GPS. While this sounds like it takes a while it really takes no more than 15 minutes. Then I have extra back-up cue sheets and I have gone over the route a couple different ways to help me remember where I am going. When I started riding gravel and had no GPS this was how I created routes. Paper and pen. I still have scraps of routes lying around my room ready to take me through the hinterlands.

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Navigation Station: Garmin 510 and Cue Sheets.

My route was perfect. I didn’t get lost and I utilized both the cue sheets and Garmin. Between the two I could distract myself from the long stretches, but still keep an eye on my mileage. I didn’t stop at any of my C-stores, but it’s nice to know where they are. I typically will only go this in depth for rides 100 miles or more, but it really helps me get into the mindset of staying focused and practicing using cue sheets.

I had fun.
I had fun.