My New Mountain Bike–3rd Time is the Charm

As many are well aware, I love PINK and really love riding pink bikes.  It was no surprise to anyone, especially not to Ironman Danish, that I would want to replace “Ma,” my 26er hardtail mtb with an even pinker replacement when the time came.  That time was approaching fast all summer, as I noticed small cracks in the seat tube of my frame.  Safe to say, after a summer that included ORAMM, riding in Breckenridge, and the Leadville Trail 100 mtb, “Ma” was ready to retire.  The small cracks were becoming big cracks, and one day the seat post just poked through the frame while working on jumping and wheelies with my MTB Coach Bob McCarty (of AG McCarty Factory Racing/McCarty Training).

"Ma" enjoying the view and fresh air at 12, 000 feet atop Wheeler Pass in CO.

“Ma” enjoying the view and fresh air at 12, 000 feet atop Wheeler Pass in CO.

So the search began.  Ma and I had a real attachment, it was not going to be easy to find a replacement.  I tried to get my hands on some pink bikes, but none seemed to be coming to fruition.  I was about to give up all hope and just order a run of the mill black bike and accessorize it with pink until I got a text from Bob.  He rides for this bike company, based and built in the USA (and not just in the USA–in MIA…that’s right there is a little ‘dale’ in my bike)–AG Bicycles.  AG has been developing their custom brand for a little while now and were excited at the idea of making a pink MTB (which I also was pretty excited about).

Bob and his AG (not sure he names his bikes...)

Bob and his AG (not sure he names his bikes…)

Now, obviously, I had to first see if I even liked riding their bikes.  Since I had been bike-less since the seat post incident and had been living on borrowed bikes (and racing on them–thank you Darren from the Scoot, Skate, Bike Co aka Miami Bike Shop for EVERYTHING he did and does to get me out on the trails), I had a pretty strong feeling for the type of bike I like.

Me racing on one of the sweet-ass bikes Darren let me test.

Me racing on one of the sweet-ass bikes Darren let me test.

I knew that I liked the way the Jamis that Mike has rides (at the time, he was riding the 2012 version of this bike, now he is on this sweet machine).  It was stiff, snappy, and didn’t feel like a 29er.  So upon my next lesson at the trails, Bob and I traded machines for a lap at Amelia Earhart Park (he had Mike’s Jamis and I had Bob’s AG–that’s right, I got to ride Bob’s bike–we are all the same size as luck would have it).  I was SHOCKED.  The AG FELT LIKE HOME!!  It felt like if I closed my eyes and you told me it was Mike’s Jamis, that I would believe you–only it felt a hair lighter (granted, this could have been the fact I had an empty water bottle).  I was sold–this would be my bike AND IT COULD (and WOULD) BE PINK!

Hot damn! Hot pink!

Hot damn! Hot pink! (note: this is not just a primer)

It could not have turned out any better.  In fact, I sort of wanted to cry because the guys at AG Bicycles were so amazing (including Bob and local MTBer and AG McCarty Factory Racing Team Manager John Koch who provided me with status updates).  The care and detail that went into this bike was unreal.  The AG guys even took me to the paint mixer to make sure it was a pink I liked!!  Amazing!  But nothing could compare to when I saw the finished product.  They went ABOVE and BEYOND….and so, with no further ado, I introduce you to Babs:

Babs

Babs, aka a nickname for Barbara, is inspired by several strong women in my life who have owned this name.  Babs because in my head I always secretly referred to every Barbara I knew as Babs.  One of them had the strongest handshake anyone has ever encountered.  She was and is a powerful woman.  The other was outrageously outgoing who was not afraid to tell anyone who she was and was all about having a fun time.  Strong, confident, and fun? What could be three better attributes to a sweet ride?

Now to face the facts–riding a hot pink bike in Cat 1 racing–I have NO CHOICE but to ride this bike as fast as I can and show the power of pink!

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QOM Points: Part 1- The Buildup

So, this summer I set out with some pretty lofty goals:  I was going to race the ORAMM (aka the best Mountain Bike Race ever) and then just a month later turn around and race the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race (aka the Race Across the Sky starring a certain Lance Armstrong and a Mr Dave Weins).

As the dates got closer I was more and more convinced I was not ready to tackle these big days and began to doubt my training and preparation, I even sort of began hoping that for some catestrophic reason (in which no one was injured of course) they would have to say the LT 100 2012 was not happening.  As the date got closer and closer, I realized this was not going to be the case and I was going to have to face my fears (I wasnt really afraid, but I cant think of a better word), pull up my jock strap, and get er done (or, in the words of Ken Chlouber, I committed that I would not quit)

So, I started with the ORAMM.  This race is absolutely amazing, minus the fact that you are constantly reminded that you are surrounded by large bears, and it was just a year ago that the ORAMM was my second mountain bike race EVER–oh how time flies (as did the swear words I hurled at Ironman Danish in the painstaking process of learning this wonderful sport).  This year we did things a bit differently.  We went up about three days early, booked a house through my FAVORITE site of all time VRBO in the woods, took the dogs, and were minus one Fast Freddy and minus our friend Ra-ul (his name is actually Paul, but a friend misread his name one day and thus began our calling him Raul) who was supposed to join us.

My trusty Bear Whistle

The cabin we stayed in was fantastic, again, minus the reminder that BEARS ARE EVERYWHERE thus resulting in my not wanting to go outside alone ever (or at least not without my trusty bear whistle).

We cooked out own food, had a lovely workshop area for bike maintanence, and it was still close to town.  The plan was to ride snipits of the course in the days leading up to the race (not long rides, just carefully planned with the occasional interval as the sooth sayer Joe Friel would approve of).

Ironman Danish getting some help from “wrench” Margarita

We started our NC riding with, of course, Kitsuma.  Kitsuma=not nice to me last year.  I was pleasatly suprised upon my return to this challenging climb and descent that not only was I able to ride every switchback, but, I was able to haul serious mail on the descent (something that I had struggled with the year before).  Sweet!  The next day we took a rest day since we ALWAYS (we=Ironman Danish and I) take two days before an event as a rest day.  The day before the race, we moved on to riding some of the double track road you descend after you climb star gap.  I had erased most of this portion from my brain from the year before I discovered upon getting there since I did not recall nearly as many “rolls” on this rolling descent to the bottom of Curtis Creek Road (aka the 9 mile climb).  Good thing we rode it–phew–now I be totally aware of where I was on the miserable double track the entire time–yippee! (biting sarcasm, but, really, it was good to pre ride this part).

Race Morning on the way to the start line–this isnt even Instagrammed…

The next day=race day.  I was a bit nervous, as is usually the case for me before any race, but all things considered calm since this year I knew how to ride my bike substantially better than last year…..TBC