2015-2016 Fat Bike Racing Season

The leaves are changing, temperature is dropping, time to start thinking about FAT BIKE RACE SEASON!  I know, I know, so many people are sad to see the warm weather coming to an end, but I can’t wait for the snow to fall and winter racing season to commence.

Last year I was able to podium with a 4th place finish in the Great Lakes Fat Bike series, thanks to some great coaching assistance by Kyia Anderson. The competition in Fat Bike racing keeps getting more and more intense each year with women smartly figuring out how awesome it is.  Would love to make the podium again this year, but even if I don’t I KNOW I will have a blast racing with these fabulous women.

2015-03-07 13.01.07

So far, this is my plan for racing.  Will also throw in some local weekend races at Elm Creek/Murphy, the Fat Wednesday Fat Bike races in Phalen Park in St. Paul and the Grizzland night race at Elm Creek.

December 19, 2015 – The Solstice Chase – St. Croix Falls, WI

January 24, 2016 – Carver Cold Catfish Cup – Woodbury, MN (and on James’ birthday!)

January 30, 2016 – The Iron Line – Iron County, MI

February 6, 2016 – Cuyuna Whiteout – Crosby, MN

February 7, 2016 – Penn Cycle Fat Tire Loppet – Minneapolis, MN

February 13, 2016 – Fatbike Frozen 40 – Elm Creek, MN

February 20, 2016 – Blackrocks Brewery 906 Polar Roll – Marquette, MI

March 5, 2016 – Fat Bike Birkie – Cable, WI

In other great news, I’m going to be an ambassador for 45North this year.  This makes complete sense because I LOVE their winter bike tires and other cold weather gear that helps me stay warm and keep riding all winter.  I know I wouldn’t have made it through some of the colder races last year without my 45North boots and what I always want to call my baklava (because I love desserts) but it’s actually a balaclava named the ‘lung cookie‘.

Race directors. . .you know how addicted I am to racing, especially in the winter.  If there are other cool races I need to know about. . .tell me, tell me!

Frozen Fat Forty


Photo Credit:  Matthew Pastick

I’m very late in posting this race report, hopefully my memory will serve me well.  This is a four lap race on the beautiful Elm Creek single track-somewhere around 45 miles total.  I wasn’t very nervous about this race because it was so long.  My plan was to just ride it steady. . not too fast, but still pushing it.  The worry was the weather.  Starting temp was in the single digits.

Hydration is always a concern with these long winter races. I was giving my camelback hydration system one last chance.  My top secret plan of feeding the hose down my arm has failed miserably this year.  Yes, the hose doesn’t freeze when it’s down my arm, but the tip kept freezing and even if I tried to chew on it, it wouldn’t let any water through.  This time I just put it under my jacket and put the hose inside my jacket.

Lap 1:  Felt good off the start.  Happy to be in a good place. . .not needing to pass too many people, and not being passed either.  My camelback was working and all was well.

Lap 2:  Still feeling well even though my camelback froze halfway through the lap.  I took the tip of it and put it in my sport bra hoping to thaw it out.  It didn’t really work.  Ugh.  Tried not to think about it and just ride and be happy.  I LOVE that trail.

Lap 3:  Stopped to take my camelback off and switch jackets.  Really glad that I decided to throw an extra jacket at our chair/cooler area.  Grabbed a water bottle for hydration after drinking about 1/2 of it right there.  Felt good riding the trail.  I wasn’t cold even though the temps were so low.  I think I passed Sveta on this lap and was feeling strong. . . until about 3/4 of the way through I felt like I was slowing down a lot.  Couldn’t figure it out. . .I was hydrated ok, was eating every 45 minutes or so, didn’t go out THAT hard. . what is going on?  I stopped after a hill to check my tires. . .my back tire was really, really low.  Kept trudging along knowing I could pump it up at the start/finish.

Lap 4:  Came into the start finish and saw Tom Morgan and Mike Constant.  Yeah!  Friendly faces.  Asked about a pump and all the guys jumped into action to help me out.  So nice!  Tom and someone else were working on the tire, Mike was asking me if I had enough to eat/drink.  I felt so taken care of.  :-)


Photo Credit:  Todd Bauer

Bike was working fine for the first 2 or 3 miles and then it started feeling sluggish again.  Drat!  Rode for a bit, then stopped to see how bad it was.  OMG, it was completely flat.  I started running.  People slowly started passing me.  I asked each person if they had a pump or air for me.  Boo.  No one did.  I was calculating in my head how long it would take me to walk/run the 8 or 9 miles left.  I was NOT going to get a DNF (Did Not Finish) in this race two years in a row.  Finally some very nice young man stopped to help me. He had a small tire pump, but it was so cold we could barely get it to work. While he was helping me a few more people passed us including Sveta.  Damn.  I could hear and see the Stan’s fluid leaking out as he was pumping up my tire.  I shook it as best I could to get it to seal.  This guy was SO nice to stop so long to help me.  I said something about how I hoped it didn’t go flat again.  He said, don’t worry, just stop again and once I catch up I can help you again.  You’re so much faster than me there’s no way I’ll be ahead of you. Seriously, how nice can a person be?!

Off I went, trying to catch back up to Sveta, crossing my fingers that my tire held air.   It did hold air but unfortunately I couldn’t catch Sveta.  I saw her in the singletrack a few times, but just didn’t have it.  Came across the finish line after 5 and 1/2 hours of riding but I FINISHED and they hadn’t taken down the tent yet or anything.  Was able to hang with folks for a while and watch the awards ceremony. . .amazed at how fast our Minneapolis women are.  They really are incredible!!

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout 2015

Get ready folks, this is going to be a long, stream of consciousness blog post.  I’m overtired, trying to get too much done on a Sunday night, and have had a glass of wine on an empty stomach.

What is it about Cuyuna that I absolutely love?  I don’t know if I can even pin it down but I always have such a blast up there and just LOVE LOVE the trails.  My first memory is when James, Vaughn and I went up for the festival when they first officially opened the trails.  I was wearing my favorite button (that I have sadly misplaced) that says ‘I like this town’.  As we were registering, Jenny from Crosby’s Cycle Path and Paddle saw my button and said, ‘Is that for us?’   I absolutely loved it. . because yes, that button is for whatever town I’m in when I’m wearing it.  Just makes me smile every time I think of it because she had such a look of joy on her face like Sally Field. . .’You like me!’.  I can completely see myself doing that.

Fam at Cuyuna

The Flynn-Kauth-Prosser family in Cuyuna, 2011.

Ok, back to the race.  As you know, snow is non-existent this year and they had to switch the course from the single track to the Sagamore unit section, which is wider ski trail type section.  AND we were going to have to do 3 laps.  I love long races where it’s point to point or at least where it’s one giant loop so each hill I go up is the only time I have to go up that hill.  Now I had to go up every hill 3 times.  Ahhh, had to resign myself to the lapped race.

I drove up straight from work and headed to the C-I Pub to pick up my stuff. C-I I figured out stands for Crosby/Ironton. Duh. Felt like a reunion to see everyone.  Aaron Hautala (the man who has done so much to bring enthusiasm and funding to the Cuyuna Lakes area), Dan Brown (owner of the Deerwood Country Inn–my favorite place to stay), Father, Klunker (who I know but doesn’t know me), many other Cuyuna Lakes folks I recognize but don’t know their names, and of course the racer community.  I was able to hang with the cool kids from 45North for a while, but then gravitated to the Angry Catfish clan with Rob Hermon and Dan St. Onge.  What a blast it was watching Dan win the meat raffle something like 4 times!  I bought a round of mashed potato balls and handed them out to my friends.  Seriously, mashed potato balls?  I was in heaven.

As I walked to my car, I stopped and took in the quiet and the darkness.  Wow.  I have a lot going on right now. . wondering if I am in the right position for me at work. . .thinking about aging (that 5-0 b-day is this summer). . .and trying to figure out how to make time for all the Crank Sisters stuff I want to do.  But I was able to turn that all off and just BE in the quiet and dark.  That’s part of the Cuyuna magic.

Back at the hotel I did all my goofy pre-race rituals.  Luckily my roommate Chelsea wasn’t there to observe. I hit the sack and watched some dumb movies.

Race Day:

12:30 starts are tough because I like to sleep in and then it’s hard to cram in breakfast and lunch, but I was able to do it.  :-)  Didn’t want to make the mistake I did with the Loppet and not have proper nutrition.  Ok, so what is going on because I felt so much better during this race that the Loppet.  What was it?  Better nutrition yes, but I think it was that the course was exciting enough that I had things to think about during it, not just the pain of the race.

Cuyuna 2015

Photo Credit:  The talented Todd Bauer

The course was icy in many spots, and even though we were on the wider trails, I still had to think about what line I was going to take on the corners. . whether to choose ice, snow or dirt.  The hills were fun too.  Loved just motoring on the downhills and hoping I stayed upright. . which luckily I did.

Cuyuna Downhill

Photo Credit:  The talented Todd Bauer

It was also great that there was two way traffic in about three different areas.  This gave me a chance to be the personal cheering squad for anyone that I came across.  I also felt inclined to be the cheering squad for the volunteers out there. . they’re out there in the cold and should have some encouragement too.  I seriously was smiling about 50% of the time.  Yea, maybe I could have gone a little faster if I hadn’t spent that energy but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The first lap I really pushed it and had SO much fun going around the icy corners.  Not sure if the people behind me were ok with  my sound effects when I was slightly out of control.  I do little chirps and squeaks sometimes. . I know it drives my friend Cori nuts.  Anyway, I would make that little scream then start laughing about it.


Now, I’m not a professional athlete.  I don’t get paid for my results or anything.  I’m a pretty cooperative competitor.  If another woman asks me for racing advice, I’ll give it to her.  I’m not trying to keep trade secrets or anything.  I help other women in skills sessions, which may help them surpass me on the race course.  But DURING a race, I’m always wanting to beat whoever I can.

Amanda Dekan and I have a nice friendly rivalry going on.  She has really upped her game this year, and our times are similar.  Most times I will beat her if it’s a race with single track and if it’s a race that’s a more open courses with hills, she’ll crush me.  We both had a bad race at the Loppet, but coming in to Cuyuna I wasn’t sure how it would shake out.  The trail was wide, yes, but technical skill was needed on the icy corners.

I started out ahead of her and was comfortable and feeling fast as we were almost finished with the first lap.  I was behind a few guys that maybe weren’t going as fast as I could, but I figured I’d pass them after the lake crossing.  Then I heard her melodic voice. . “Martha” as she passed me and the guys I was stuck behind.  “Shit” I thought to myself.  I’d better just try to stay on her wheel. Then we came to a turn and  BOOM she went down. I’d like to say my first thought was to feel bad for her and wonder if she was seriously hurt, but honestly, my first thought was “GOOD” as I cruised by her and put the hammer down to get around the guys.  I’m not that terrible of a person.  I could tell by the way she fell that she was OK, AND there was a course marshal right there.🙂  Anyway, I upped my game and raced the rest of the race knowing she was chasing me.

As she was chasing me, I was chasing my friend Jeremiah.  He and I leapfrogged quite a few times at the Loppet and I was able to pull away from him on the last  lap. In this race when he passed me he said something like “You’re it”, but unfortunately the leapfrog game was not to be this time. He stayed ahead of me, taunting me the entire race.  There are many places where you can see the people ahead of you and I kept seeing he was close, but not within reach.  Oh well, maybe next time for Jeremiah.

I ended up finishing in 5th place behind some very strong women (April Morgan, Pam Nielsen, Chelsea Strate and Jill Martindale).  Happy with that placement and feeling strong during the entire race.

After the race I hung out for a bit and was able to meet Bonnie Moebeck. . my new teammate from TwinSix METAL.  That was fun. Chatted with a few other folks, then had to change before I got too chilled.

C-I Pub put on a great post-race party.  I didn’t win anything in the big raffle, but at least my ticket proceeds are going straight to the trails.   I was wishing James was up at the race with me.  He stayed back to get ready for the Bike Swap on Sunday to sell all our extra bike parts.  Things were winding down by around 6pm and even though I had an invite to go hang out with the 45North crew, I decided to head home to see my James and sleep in my own bed.  I know I’ll be back up to Cuyuna at least 3 more times this year for High School League stuff, if not more for general riding.

If you’ve never been, or haven’t been up there for a while, I highly recommend it!

Loppet and Cuyuna

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Deerwood waiting until it’s time to leave for the Cuyuna Whiteout race.  12:30 race start makes nutrition planning difficult.

I love being up in the Cuyuna lakes area.  Everyone is so friendly and welcoming to bikers. I’m a  little bummed that the race course had to be rerouted from the single track to the Sagamore wider section, but at least the race is still on.  What is up with this winter and lack of snow.  Not cool!


Photo Credit: Matthew Mastick

Last weekend was the City of Lakes Loppet race.  Another race where the course needed to be changed due to lack of snow.  When the gun went off–I just didn’t feel any spring in my legs.  Luckily I’m a glass half full kind of a girl and was able to just enjoy the ride, appreciate the spectators and try to make it up the hills.  We did 3 laps the twisted back and forth a bit so there were lots of places to see spectators.  I’m used to sneaking a rest now and again during a race, but there was no room for it here.  :-)  This made me work so hard even though I wasn’t feeling great.  After the race, James and I reviewed what we did differently to make us feel ‘off’ (he had the same lack of springiness).  Turns out we didn’t eat dinner the night before!  I made sure to have a nummy bacon cheese burger at the C-I Pub last night.

Ok-I’m off to get ready for the Cuyuna race.  Wish me luck!


Carver Cold Catfish Cup

Carver Cold Catfish Cup 2015

Carver Cold Catfish Cup is one of my favorite races.  I’ve been racing at Carver in the winter since they started racing there. . .back before I even owned a fat bike.  It’s a great biking scene and awesome single track without many hills. . perfect in my eyes.

A week or so before the race I got an email from Charlie at CBS/Chicago wondering if I would be interested in being interviewed about the race.  At first I wondered if it was spam, but after a Google search on dear Charlie figured it may actually be legit.  I called him and answered a few questions about racing.  He asked if I would be willing to be interviewed at the race, filmed getting my stuff ready, then have a camera attached to my bike during the race.  Of course I said YES.

As race day approached I was a little worried about the whole interview thing, but tried to put it aside.  I got to the race early–did my interview and prep video footage.  It was so fun to see the great fat bike community in full swing and show it off to the CBS folks.  Jamie Yuccas from the Channel 4 morning program was there and I was completely trying to get her jazzed about fat biking and mountain biking in general. When it came time to put the camera on my bike it looked a little weird.  “Is the camera pointed at me?” I asked.  Yep–I guess they decided to put the trail facing camera on Dominic’s bike.  I was relegated to color commentary during the race with the camera pointed at my FACE.  I tried to spin it to the positive and told Jamie this would be my chance to talk about the high school league since that didn’t come out during the interview.  She said, yea, that probably won’t work.  The audio isn’t that great.  :-(  Whatevs.  I shook it off and went off my my warm up.

Carver Cold Catfish Cup 2015-3

Lap 1:  When the gun went off I wanted to ride hard to get a good position.  I was cautious around the turns in the parking lot and did well on the lake, even maneuvering around a crash in front of me.  As I headed up the dreaded hill from the lake, I felt a beautiful push from behind.  It was James passing me.  What the hell was he doing behind me?  Had a serious talk with him after the race (and then some) about how he needs to line up more near the front! Felt great going into the single track.  Passed a few people and was loving the beautiful single track.  Rob Herman and posse were cheering and crowd controlling at the section where we went two way.  So nice to see a friendly face cheering along the way!

Lap 2:  This time on the lake had a little snack.  Slightly worried about how that looked on camera, but know the importance of nutrition during a race.  This time I did even worse up the hill from the lake. . got passed by about 5 people including Chelsea.  Tried to give her a ‘good job’ through my panting.  Tom Morgan was at the top of the hill cheering and was a great motivator.  Then into the beautiful single track again.  Have I told you how much I love racing single track in the winter?  Fabulous!

Carver Cold Catfish Cup 2015-2

Lap 3:  Starting to get tired.  Ate a little more on the lake and this time tried to put my hand over the camera because it was not pretty trying to masticate a frozen energy bar.  My top secret camel back solution was also not working well, as the tube got pulled out too far and I couldn’t really negotiate it well into my mouth.  (more on this on a later post if I actually get it to work correctly in a race).  The bonus piece of this lap was actually passing people on the single track who were getting tired.  As I came to the last section I saw Pam Nielsen ahead of me.  Pam had raced on Saturday, and told me at the start she wasn’t happy with the length of this race (advertised as 15+, actual mileage 21).  Pam usually beats me by 1 minute or more so I was surprised to see her in my sight so close to the finish. I put my head down and did all I could to catch up to her.  I followed her in the single track and felt she was braking more than I would normally, so asked for an opportunity to pass.  When she gave it to me, I wasn’t able to jump on it quick enough.  I think she dug deep then and tried her best to pull away from me.  As I tried to catch up again BAM, I crashed hard.  Quickly jumped up. . .re-positioned the camera which had twisted and BAM crashed again.  My heart rate was racing and I was spent!  I screamed “I CHOOSE LIFE”, got back on my bike and cut back on the speed until I was more comfortable.  Put the hammer down after I regrouped and finished a respectable 5th place.

After race antics:  Love, love, love doing the race recap at the finish line with  people.  I was spent physically, but on a complete emotional high.  Happy to hear James did well (20th place), and hear how exciting the men’s photo finish played out.

Beer, bonfire and pasties rounded out the afternoon.  Thanks to all the sponsors and for the crew at Carver for maintaining such a kick ass trail!  Next up:  City of Lakes Loppet


January Racing

Fat Wednesday

Last week I was able to get in two races. The first was on Wednesday night. The inaugural Fat Wednesday Bike and Snowshoe race in Shoreview put on by Jeremy Sartain and sponsored by HED wheels, NOW bikes, Pelicano Endurance Coaching among others. I love supporting new races and venues. . AND racing at night. The 7:30 start allowed me to go home after work, eat dinner and chill for a bit before heading out.

The course went out onto the lake, then went up in the woods for about ½ mile. The advanced racers did two laps. It was tough! Some grooming had been done but the snow was still soft and several troughs developed that you had to stay within or risk a wipe out. I put my head down and gave it my all, but was having troubles clipping in and more so clipping out of my pedals with some new boots. The meant if I lost balance I was tipping over like a rookie and a few times was stuck on the ground upside down a la turtle. Frustrating—yes, but also hysterical. If I can’t laugh at myself, I’m really having a bad day.

I ended up placing first and last in the women’s category. . .being the only one. More chicks need to come out and check this out! Jeremy has changed up the course for future races and now it’s set up more like a cross race with a short lap (around a mile). Great for spectating and less riding on the lake.

Saturday Race Weekend

On Saturday, I had two race choices. Get Phat with Pat at the River Bottoms—sponored by Penn Cycle, or the Arctic Fever Ididaride Fat Bike race in Excelsior—sponsored by Excelsior Brewing and Erik’s Bike Shop. What a great community that there are choices! How to choose, how to choose? Start time: win goes to Excelsior. 2pm versus noon (I like to sleep in). Course: win goes to River Bottoms, single track versus mainly lake riding—especially with the predicted 30 mile an hour winds! Competition: tie, River Bottoms would probably have stronger women riders, but Excelsior is a bigger event and those triathletes new to fat biking may have the advantage on the less technical lake race. What tipped the scales for me? I’m not too proud to admit it was the kick ass medals Excelsior posted on their website. Well that and the after race party at a brewery. SO, James and I made the road trip to the West burbs.

Road Trip

Race highlights.
I actually warmed up for this race.  I was a little nervous because a few people were saying I would win it.  I don’t like that pressure.  I didn’t recognize any of the usual suspects who kick my butt (April, Megan, Chelsea). . however, this was a wide open race on the lake and who knew how many strong road bikers or triathletes would show up on their new fat bikes and blow me away.

I started off fast and was able to maneuver around two bike pileups at the start.  Got in with a few riders in a paceline which was great protection from the brutal wind.  Serious cross wind and head wind on one section.  The course was mainly on the lake, but then had a super fun section on one of the islands in Lake Minnetonka. This is where you could tell who was the mountain biker and who was a roadie on a new Fat Bike.

On the second lap I was still feeling strong.  Leapfrogged a bit with Jon Sandberg.  Was nice to ride with someone I knew. . and I could trust would handle his bike fine.  I was feeling strong this lap so as I came round one corner of the course on the lake and saw my friends Jodi and Jeff cheering, I decided I would be all cool and pull ahead of the guys I was riding with.  DUMB MOVE.  This breakaway lasted about 0.000000001 seconds once we turned into the headwind.  Alas, I was left pulling these boys into the wind.  I conceded to my stupid move, put my head down and kept pedaling.  Luckily after a while, one of them took over and I was able to tuck in for the remainder of the headwind.  Then it was the beautiful turn out of the wind. . off to the island and then the push to the finish.

This time on the island I was able to pass my friend Mike DeZellar, who unfortunately was having trouble in the single track.  As the nice friend that I am I yelled ‘ROADIE’ and passed him by.  Jon Sandberg and I were riding together and passed another roadie at the island exit who was contemplating whether he wanted to walk down the rocky section or ride it.  Jon and I hit attack position on our bikes and flew by him.

Jon was in the lead and I was right behind him on the lake.  I yelled, ‘bring me home Jon’ as we blasted by in the tailwind.  There was a little groove of deep snow as we came off Lake Minnetonka to jump on the road for about a mile to the finish.  Unfortunately, Jon hit the grooves wrong and wiped out.  Again, my MN nice came out and I blew by and said ‘every man for himself’.  Why am I so mean?

I was still feeling good and put the hammer down as much as I could to the finish.  Felt great that I was able to pass about 5 guys in the last 1/2 mile and came through the finish line with a smile and my attempt at a wheelie which is really pathetic.

There was some confusion at the finish when the results said I was in second place, but was happy to find out later that it was wrong and I was indeed first of about 25 women. Super fun after party.  I am really glad with my race choice!  Thanks to Excelsior Brewing and Erik’s.

Next up:  Murphy Time Trial and Carver Cold Catfish Cup!

Crank Sisters Kick Off

crank_sissmall Tuesday night I welcomed 18 women into my home to talk about revitalizing the Crank Sisters program within the MN High School Mountain Bike League. Crank Sisters is all about getting more girls racing and more women coaching in the league. I can’t believe the energy and enthusiasm that was in the room, and echoed from those who couldn’t attend in person.

Passion is a beautiful thing and we’ve got boatloads of it with these women! CS Kickoff 4

We started by going around the room introducing ourselves, talking about our biking experience and why we came to the Crank Sisters event. Then Annie Perkins to talked little bit about her experience coaching the Stillwater team.  She started by saying something like: based on what I’ve just heard from all of your experience, you probably don’t need my hard sell on why this is important or what you will get out of it, but I’m going to give it to you anyway.  :-) Love her!

I reviewed ideas for what we might do and then opened it up for more ideas. As I was talking about what we might do, I kept getting goosebumps because I was so excited.
CS Kickoff 7More to come on this wonderful program and what’s in store for 2015.  If you’d like to help, please complete this interest form.