I'm still Alive!!

22 Nov 2015

I’m alive!

To say I have been a bit slack on the blog updates would be a slight understatement. I mean, I am keeping within the year.. but two a year is probably a little bit un-informative. MY BAD.

At least now I can do a short synopsis of my year, then hopefully it will take me less then a year to update it next time! (I’m working on it, promise). Here is a photo essay of my 2015 season;

2015 was, well, a very interesting year. It was the first year out of the past four that I have been able to ride without an injury, which is FANTASTIC. But it was still an absolute rollercoaster of emotions and form.

It started off like any year starts with training camp in Phoenix, Arizona, I was given a new beautiful bike that I call Scott (ok, it came with the name) and BOY is he fast. This is by far the best bike I have ever ridden, lightweight, handles corners like a dream and pretty damn attractive (I wasn’t paid to say that).

All my new Scott Bling =)                                                                                                My brand spanking new view, hot dayyumm. 


                      

The new Pepper Palace crew.. Don’t let our good looks fool you, we are HARD CORE.       Especially Gokes, she makes sensational animal noises and her style is on form. 


Photo shoot! Trying to be serious.. turns out that’s impossible thanks to my wonderful teammates.  


Half of the team then set off to Tucson, AZ for some training and some low key races to start the season off and practice racing together!

Tucson crew Lindsay, Julie and I. Safety first for Lindsay, always.               Many rides consisted of coffee stops at the end. Again, safety always first.                                                     


       

When we have an entire garage of bike stuff to pack and a short amount of time to do it, lying on the ground ‘resting’ seemed like the best way to approach it. 


First race with the Peppers, we started off fast, had a bit of a cluster and finished it off with a win! Learning how each other rides is a process that we progressed throughout the season. 


   

I went to get a massage that lasted 2 hours.. Lindsay got worried so she acted immediately and put me on a milk carton.. America. Then I ended up on the yoghurt container, because.. why not?


My teammates are wonderful, and all very unique. Like when we go out for dinner and Lindsay makes sure to dress appropriately. But don’t worry, she is wearing mascara. 


We then set off on a road trip to California to compete at San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands. I managed to get food poisoning on the way there thanks to some Mexican food, I also turned 24… Which I am still processing. This is when we went out for dinner on my birthday and I wasn’t quite ready to move on from 23. Even the table number was there to remind me. 


Suzanna got the pick of the numbers for San Dimas


The racing here was really tough, we were against the best of the best and the legs were slowly (very slowly) coming back into form. They were certainly not where I wanted them to be but it’s all about slow progression. The highlight was definitely spending 2 weeks with the Koglers and their pet pig Maisy. 


Next up was a flight over to Greenville, South Carolina for another training camp and then some crit racing!! Unfortunately I lost a toe nail on the trip, and Lindsay drew a beautiful picture.


Unfortunately Amber crashed at crit nationals breaking her Pelvis, and I spent some time in the hospital with her, which meant some serious concentration to stop myself from fainting (I faint at the sight of blood, pain and even the smell of a hospital). I’m pretty sure I was more tired after two days of hospital visits than I am after a stage race. (Thank you Julie for capturing one of my training days). 


The Peppers accommodation for a week in Greenville, so many beds.. It was like the never ending bed house. The Pepper is ours though. 


First crit series of the year, USA Speed Week and we won! After a week of racing the team got better and better and rode like a total unit. Tina’s speedy legs also helped a lot ;)


This was the first time I got to meet my teammate Laura. And BOY has she changed my life. This woman is the most incredible person I have ever met in my existence. We then spent the next 5 months traveling all over the US together, literally, the ENTIRE Country plus Canada. Car photos became a bit of a theme.

 

Laura sometimes over-flows the dish washer. Sorry Sarah. 

Next to Laura is my team mate Julie. She is kind of a big deal and a super talented bike racer. She also has a dog called Sandwich and the other one is Banana. 


        

When you see a Pepper sign, it’s really important to make the most of it. I actually felt like I was pretty high up at this point.. awkward looking at it now. 


Pic’s peanut butter (http://picspeanutbutter.com/) has been my amazing sponsors for the past few years. They are absolutely awesome and even supported the entire team this season. If you haven’t tried Pic’s before, then you definitely have not lived! Better yet, check out my next post about my Pic’s PB cookies. They are delicious ;)


Next stop, BOULDER (Colorado). This is where I was based for the entire season. It is my favorite town in the US and absolutely packed full of athletes from every sport. It also has really good coffee (which is saying something for America). One issue, it snowed. I was really excited at first because I never get to see snow. That excitement lasted about 30 minutes until I was supposed to go training.. Here I got to train with so many great friends and Boulder also has some awesome mountain bike parks… I can say that Scott handles the dirt beautifully (it’s rider needs a little technical work however). 


  

While in Boulder I was introduced to Laura’s company called Runnerbox and helped now and then with a couple of things. That whole work thing became kind of addictive and now I am doing it a lot more. It’s an awesome concept and now we just need to bring it to NZ! (www.therunnerbox.com)


Next road trip was to Milwaukee, WI for Tour of America’s Dairyland. 11 days of crit racing (in a row). It was pretty awesome and the team rode really well together. Once again Tina’s speedy legs and some awesome team work got us the overall win! It was a hard fight and we definitely had some good and bad moments, but overall it was a success and A LOT of fun!

Each morning before racing we went for an easy hour spin and met up with one of my role models Laura Van Gilder. This lady is an absolute inspiration and kicks ass.  Laura on my left and Tina on my right, both in their 50’s and both winning races like it’s nothing. Incredible. 

Getting it sorted. Photo credit; Snowy Mountain Photography (http://www.snowymountainphotography.com/)


Tina wins races all the time, it’s because her last name is pic, easily confused with pic’s peanut butter. We also won all the cheese. 


After some more driving all over the Country to races (and some very up and down form), Laura, Tina and I headed to Park City, Utah for Scott Week. It was absolutely amazing, we got to test out the new 2016 Scott bikes, meet the people behind Scott bikes and basically just live the high roller life on the top of a beautiful mountain for a few days!

I have never seen so many beautiful (and expensive) bikes parked at a coffee shop before in my life.. 


Once returning to Colorado I had a solid block of training and started the US Pro Challenge feeling pretty good. The TT was in Breckenridge starting at 10,000 feet altitude (ouch), next was an awesome road race to Fort Collins and finished with a circuit race in Golden. My racing was not what I was hoping for once again. The talent in the race was incredible but unfortunately I just didn’t have it. It’s been an up and down year, but I can see progression, and I know what I need to do to get better so I just need to hang tight and keep going. 


Another reason basing myself in Boulder is so good is the fact that everyone comes to you! One of my closest friends, Emma Grant, spent the last couple of months of the season in Colorado so it was super awesome catching up with her. She then went on to win and podium in some of the biggest races on the US criterium calendar. After a lot of injuries and set backs it was really cool seeing her back on the podium, where she belongs. 


To finish off the season Laura and I decided to go and race one of the most beautiful races in America, the Green Mountain Stage race in Vermont. It was by far my favorite race of the year on and off the bike. Thank you so much to Nancy and Bill for making our time there extra special (and for the photos), to West Hill house B&B for the accommodation, GMSR for the fantastic event and of course Laura for making this trip one of the best.  

Racaing for Runnerbox, plus the pain face after climbing for 20kms and finishing on a 22% killer.. Best of all Laura on the podium with an Olympian and Junior World's Medalist.  


Then it was OFF SEASON!! For some people off season means to not look at a bike or exercise for some time. But when in Colorado it is really important to make the most of it and go hiking, running, adventure road rides and mountain biking!! (Or maybe that's just how crazy people think.. oh wait). 

The off-season fun came to a pretty fast halt 2 seconds after this photo was taken. Yes, it ended like it looks.. superman over the bars and some pretty sore ribs and knee. I SWEAR I got some air before I looked like this.. even if it was an inch off the ground, there was a moment where no wheels were on the surface. Thanks to Laura for saving me and capturing this moment,  also for  not freeking out when I was close to passing out for half an hour. Roadies trying new things.. oops. Note to self, learn how to ride a mountain bike before riding a mountain bike. 


Two new things I learnt/did this season

Saved Turtles trying to cross the street and learning Tina can do ANYTHING. Including packing her bike on the way to the airport in the backseat of the car. 


Now I am home in NZ, baking cookies, riding my bike and getting ready for 2016. For some crazy reason I decided to race Crit Nats last week.. TERRIBLE idea. Legs were not ready for that kind of intensity just yet, but boy it was awesome to see how fast the womens field was. NZ up and coming riders are STRONG, and Rushlee Buchanan got a very well deserved win!! 

I am not sure what next year will bring yet, but I am working really hard on making positive steps to make it a really good year. I just want to send out a huge thank you to Brad from Inspyre web design for being the best online support system, ever. My coach Carmen Small for getting me through a pretty rough season and always believing in me. To Laura for saving my year and being the best friend anybody could ask for, Sarah for opening your home to me and Julie, Ruth, Lindsay and Tina for always being awesome and making me laugh! And of course my family for supporting me no matter what!

Thanks for popping by and if you made it this far I am really impressed. 

I'll be back!!

- C Lowe