As usual, myself and a few others go up a few days early to get some more riding in and chill before the event begins. This year I had to work half a day, so I couldn't go kayaking. Normally, we go up on a Thursday and go kayaking on Big Bear Lake. I missed it this summer but Desi, Siebs and J got to go and just in time before the big down pour!
I unpacked, dropped both my bikes off in the garage and went to the store. We have a tradition of bringing our dinner back to the house Thursday night and drinking vino, beer and just catching up on each others lives. This year we couldn't sit on the patio since it was still pouring, so we just hung out in the great room and got caught up.
So myself, Amy and Marybeth went to our cars to gear up and head over to Westridge for some DH fun. The plan was to ride everything in order that the event would ride so it was a progression from easiest to most difficult.
Today was a day that I really wanted to conquer a few things on these trails. This year I also was not riding my XC bike, but my new Canfield Balance. This bike fits me better with a size small frame, has 6" of travel and is a 650B so I am able to maneuver it much better than my 29r XC bike. I just feel safer and more confident on this bike. It's heavy at 32 pounds compared to my Epic at just over 26 pounds, so it's much more stable too.
Run #1 was to be Westridge to Party Wave to Turtle. Super fun and flowey run. I had 2 goals this run and that was to get through the 1st rock garden with flow and not dabbing anything. That didn't work. I also wanted to get through the 1st paved berm that was off camber and steep. That didn't work either. However the rest of the run was super fun and flowey. So, next run I enlisted Amy for some help. Amy is one of our GGR volunteer ride leaders and a Pro Enduro rider. Sometimes I call her Pro Amy, other times I call her Red Bull Amy. So on run #2, I asked for some help. This run was going to be the left side of Westridge, meaning over the dreaded enormous 1 story bridge with no sides but a few pieces of rope.
So, this run, I decided to take a different line through the rock garden and pick up a little more speed. I not only cleaned it, but for the 1st time it actually felt smooth going through it. Normally I get tossed around a lot. Next up was ride the high paved off camber berm. We stopped before it to discuss this. See, like any woman, I need to discuss things. Yes, that means when I session, I need to completely discuss it. Then watch it, then follow someone who is committed so I can then do it myself. It worked. I rode it high and a bit faster and had no problems. All in my head. By the end of the day I was flying through it and completely comfortable with it.
Next up...the dreaded bridge. What is it with wood features anyways? I would MUCH rather tackle a rock garden then a tall bridge with no sides! This bridge is about a story or so up, and the entrance is curvy with only a few pieces of rope on the sides of it. Then the exit is a steep descent with a small drop at the top. Now, it's not the steep exit that bothers me...it's GETTING to it! YIKES! I think poor Amy must have been up there with me for 20 minutes before I finally sucked it up and did it. I kept my feet on the ground until just before the descent. Not pretty, but it was a huge thing for me to work through that fear.
The last run was Miracle Mile and we picked up Thomas, Amy's hubby that just got stitches that morning and decided to join us for a run! This was the 2nd time I have ever ridden Miracle Mile and I did much better than last time! I truly had one amazing day! Thank you Amy Rambacher for holding my hand and talking me through my fears by explaining what I needed to do to actually ride the sections.
Now time for the ride leader dinner meeting!
After getting everyone checked in, ladies separated into groups of XC and DH. I was thrilled to see that this year the DH group was large enough to split up into 2 groups. For XC, we had a group for advanced beginners, Intermediate and advanced XC riders. For DH riders, we had the Shredders and the Mellow's! I keep this event small so its more manageable and less work since its a few hours away. I closed it off at 60 riders this year.
After morning announcements and introductions, we all left in our groups for the day. I was in the DH group the Mellows lead by Amy Rambacher. I rode the chair lift up with 2 vet riders, Jill Hamilton and Nancy Harris who were leading the fast DH group the Shredders. We discussed the day and other fun stuff. When we got to the top, we of course got a group photo of all of us down hillers!
At the bottom of the run, Snow Summit built 2 jump lines. One Blue and one Black. So of course we had to end the run with the super fun Blue jump line!
Next run was to be the left side of Westridge which was a little more technical with more jumps, but instead we decided to do the same run again and not stop so much so it was a more fluid run. When we got to the top, we waited for Heather and Lynn and wasn't able to meet up just yet, so we went for another run.
Our group was matched up really well. This run our goal was to stop as little as possible and WOW was it super fun! The few times we stopped, Amy just did a quick head count, asked if everyone was good and off we went.
This time I was able to get some photo's on Turtle which is a super fun berm trail! Also, here are 2 pictures from the Intermediate XC run.
This time it was ME who needed Heather. This run was the left side of Westridge which was more technical and had bigger jumps. I felt really good for the 1st part of it and rode fast and smooth. Now comes the enormous bridge again with no sides......eeeeek!!! I asked Heather if she would stay with me so I could follow her knowing she would just fly right down it. I started to go all diva again and freak out..but only for 5 minutes this time instead of 20. I knew I could go descend the steep exit if I could just get to it without feeling like I was going to go over the sides and fall a story! Heather just kept talking to me the entire time and told me I was going to do it. Well, I did and again at the bottom grabbed my heart for a second and then Heather gave me a high five and a good job and I was over it. Why wood features do a number on my head I don't know.....
So at this point, I was exhausted and really needed to go check on Janette our volunteer who was working the GGR booth the entire day and was doing an amazing job! So I decided to just call it a day and hang at the booth. I got to welcome back a bunch of riders and see more riders go back up. Everyone had smiles on their faces and was enjoying the day. I was thrilled. I was also a bit worried about my knee at this point. After standing up for 2 days straight down hilling, it was just too much for my knee. Almost 2 years ago, I had reconstructive knee surgery and I haven't quite bounced back from it all the way yet. My knee was super swollen and I had lost a lot of range of motion due to the swelling. Time for me to chill because I still had the Intro to Enduro day to ride on Sunday.
Now time to pull the booth down and get ready for the big Saturday night group dinner at Nottingham's.
We started the night off with the announcement of contest winners and Jackie Reseigne, the GGR IE chapter director announced the Mariposa challenge and gave out a bunch of hats from Jenson USA. Jackie also brought product donations from Jenson USA for our contest winners! Jill Hamilton, owner of Petal Power also donated 3 Joy Ride kits to the winners!
1st up was the Fearless award. Nancy Harris, GGR volunteer DH ride leader, picked this incredible fearless rider who rode with the Shredders! Congrats to Julie Warner! Julie won a GGR Enduro jersey! You are a speed demon and an animal! Congrats and wear the jersey proudly!
Next up was the Never give Up award. Heather Zaragoza, GGR volunteer DH ride leader, presented this award to Lynn Kennedy who won a gift certificate for a day at Snow Summit donated by Pro Enduro rider and GGR volunteer ride leader Amy Rambacher. After 3 crashes down hilling, Lynn never gave up, continued with her positive spirit and kept riding. This girl does NOT GIVE UP! Well done Lynn! Way to keep your beautiful smile and give it another go!
Most Improved rider presented by Laura "Mega" Watts, GGR volunteer ride leader, was Dionne Shastid who rides with the GGR IE chapter. Mega Watts tells me Dionne has really improved her riding and without a doubt she had to receive the most improved award! Great job Dionne! Looking great out there girl!
Now this next award, wasn't even a contest, I just had to give it to her! Karen Bauer rode her hard tail all day on every single DH trail! OUCH! Anyone that does that deserves an award! YOU ANIMAL KAREN! You rode so fast and smooth it was nothing for you to be on a HT! Well done! Karen won a Clif bag for not only surviving the DH trails on a HT, but riding them REALLY WELL on a HT!
We enjoyed the rest of the evening. My clan and I went back to the house to pack up and get ready for the final day. Sunday was XC day in Fawnskin and Intro to Enduro day.
Bev, the owner and race promoter from Rim Nordic greeted us with a wonderful sign and already had the course 100% pre marked for us!
Amy started us off with talking about what exactly the discipline of Enduro racing was and Jill threw in some info and tips too. Then off we went to pre ride stage 1. I wasn't sure if I would ride past the 1st stage because my knee was super swollen and it was difficult to even pedal. So I was hoping that riding would just loosen it up if I didn't have to stand much.
We decided to run the day just like a race for the full, blown out experience. So we all rode the 1st transition stage together and stopped at the start of the timed stage on stage 1. So I pulled out my timer and we gave each rider 30 seconds lead by Amy and Jill stayed in the middle of the pack just in case. I was sweeping.
After I gave the last girl the count down, Dionne, I got on my bike to start the stage myself and catch up with the others. I knew the stage well since I had already raced every race in this series and was ready to go fly and have some fun..............so I thought.........never change your gears when your bike is on the ground and you don't spin the wheel a few times and test it. Well, off I went and 1 pedal stroke is all it took for a massive chain suck and twist up! THIS was bad. In Enduro racing, you have NO help, no one can even hand you anything, if you can't fix it yourself, you are done! So, I flipped over the bike and started to try and unravel the chain. After almost 30 minutes, I finally got it. I radio's Amy and told her I finally fixed it and asked if she wanted me to wait there for the girlz to come back up or head down. She instructed me to head down and meet them at the bottom of stage one.
I got to an intersection where the route had changed. There were 2 black arrows. So I had to stop and get off my bike to go up close and see which way to go (I didn't have my glasses on and I'm blind as a bat!). I saw I had to go straight and did so. When I finally got to the bottom, 2 of the riders had gone the wrong way, they took the left black arrow which said Stage 2. So we waited for awhile, then decided to continue on knowing that Bev would let us know when they reached the bottom.
Stage 2: The hell climb. Today I decided to ride my Epic because I needed a lighter bike that wouldn't take up all my energy to climb since I was dead tired and having knee problems. After Stage 1 my knee was still swollen, but loosened up enough for me to continue on.
I really struggled on the transition stage for stage 2. It was all UP and WHAT a grind! It was also not my favorite stage to descend because it was super loose and parts of it was very steep. I just wanted to get to stage 3 which I knew would be a ton of fun.
Well, we had 1 crash on the sandy, sketchy part of this stage and a manzanita branch on the face and through the wrist of Julie. She was a trooper! She got cleaned up and called it a day after that.
Next up we had to make the exact same climb to get to stage 3. There was no way I could do it at this point, I was spent and it would be way too much on my knee. So......we ran into Thomas, Amy's hubby and his buddy Lloyd and we shuttled it! Whooo hoooo!
As suspected....the timed part of stage 3 was the absolute bomb! Soooooo fun!
One more stage to go. Stage 4. A short yet steep fire road climb and a 2-4 minute descent that was a blast. Those of us who completed all the stages minus the 1 shuttle were thrilled. We even picked up Jenna and Gabe too!
We got back to the finish and sat down and had some food. I was mentally and physically spent yet my soul O so very content.
This year's GGR women's weekend was not only amazing, but I had so many incredible volunteers that I really got to focus on my riding and have an incredible riding experience with some of our best riders around! I was glowing and thrilled that we had so many women wanting to help others. We have some super amazing and talented athletes that volunteer for GGR as ride leaders, sweepers and floaters and I am so very grateful for their contributions to our amazing community of women riders!
I have so many women to thank! 1st off I want to thank and give huge shout outs to the companies who always take care of myself and GGR! ZOIC Clothing, Kali Protectives, Petal Power & Clif. Thank you and huge shout out to Bev and Kerry at Rim Nordic for welcoming GGR with open arms and getting the course pre marked!
A huge shout out and thank you to everyone who volunteered, lead rides, swept rides, floated and supported the event and GGR. Thank your or your commitment, dedication, support, guidance and friendships!
Marybeth Guinney, Desi DeMesquita, Joanne Richards, Nancy Harris, Amy "Red Bull" Rambacher, Laura "Mega" Watts, Liz Kurtz, Jackie Reseigne, Ali Hyde, Janice Su, Laura "Siebs" Siebenthal, Dee Dee Miller, Jill Hamilton, Janette Aragon and everyone else who helped out!
One of the things we are talking about for next year is replacing the GGR weekend and possibly bringing back a newer version of the old WOW weekends. This was a women's weekend that consisted of skills clinics and racing. Here is some info on the past events: www.bigbeargrizzly.net
GGR has a busy fall line up.......Interbike, Rocktober (October 18th, registration goes up August 31st on Event Brite), The Corba Ram ride and Pancake breakfast hosted by Michael's Bicycles and a very special trip up to Specialized for our GGR Ride Leader team in December.
GGR always is looking for new volunteer ride leaders for weekend and our Thursday night CO ED rides. If you are interested, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time.....keep up the GGR spirit of support, friendliness and compassion to all riders and please remember to practice good trail etiquette!
GGR Girl Wendy E!