A Day in the Kettle..<3

             Last week, I raced my first endurance race at a local trail. WEMS hosted a race at New Fane- which is part of the Northern Kettles. I have ridden here many times and love the fast and flowing loop! Originally, I had planned on racing the 10 hour solo race. However, after a long week of recovery while getting a cold, I decided to downgrade to the 5 hour solo. I think I made the right choice though!

             I would have to say it was one of the hardest things I have done. Of course I race often ,but this was so different! First of all, I was doing a solo. I depended solely on my mind, my legs, and my mom to make sure I wouldn’t stop pedaling. One thing I found is that it’s really important to refuel on the bike to avoid long breaks. I did 7 laps, at about 35-40 minutes each, and felt like I was dead by the time I was done. I am really glad that I finished that goal this year along with the century 2 weeks ago. 

 

        I had planned on racing at Bear Paw this weekend for the WORS series points, but I woke up on saturday morning and realized I really wanted to go to homecoming that night. So, my friends helped me buy a dress and shoes the day of homecoming..It was really glittery, let’s leave it at that. 😉

 

See you at WORS Finale in 2 weeks!!

 

Love, Hugs, Glitter, & Chain Grease, 

Maja

 

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From Surgery to a Century: 100 miles of Home

     Yesterday morning I suited up for my very first 100 mile bike ride. It was kind of weird thinking about it actually happening because this ride has been a dream of mine since last year. I like the feeling of waking up and knowing one of  your dreams is about to come true, almost bittersweet. You have loved the feeling of training and pain that led up to the day, and suddenly it’s about to pay off before your own eyes. 

 

     I started riding with a really fast group then remembered someone telling me, “Ride slower than you think you should”. I was doing the opposite. So I slowed down and dropped back to get on with the group of people I would usually ride with until the first rest stop at 25 miles. I ate up and headed out again. Knowing how to pace your stops was probably the hardest thing to do! I just wanted to sit down but knew I couldn’t, that was the worst part. 

 

     The ride was all good and dandy until I found myself about 7 miles north of the Manitowac-Sheboygan Co. border. I was following a rider and realized he wasn’t part of the ride I was doing..awkward. I called the SAG for directions and cried a little; then pushed through the anger of taking steps backwards instead of forward. Going North, I had a great tail wind so turning around to head South was not only physically grueling, but mentally as well. I finally met up with a group of three guys who were riding together but very slowly because the one was having extreme quad cramps.

 

     Honestly, I think these guys were heaven sent. I had already been fighting a mean head wind straight out of the South for 20 miles when I came across them. We had a few big hills left and having them coaching me up them gave me the strength to keep going. 

 

     I couldn’t keep my eyes off of my computer towards the end, watching the mileage go up & up put a huge smile of my face. I would look down at my top tube often, where I had placed two photos of Troy’s memorial. It made my legs hurt a little less, my head swirl a little slower, my beat a little easier. I think he was with every one of us yesterday. I do not doubt that one bit. Even if I got a little of course and cried a little bit, the memory gave me that desire to finish it out. 

 

     I finished with 102 miles yesterday. I completed one of my biggest goals for the season. I rode for me and not for a result. I put my bike away with a little more dignity and love for that bright red Lemond. But most importantly, I got a bad-ass tan. Good thing I wore my mid-calf woolies? Not. 

 

Love, Hugs, Dreams, Glitter, & Grease. 

maja♥

Here’s a Recap

Sorry I have been gone for so long. Basically I am going to recap the past few races in a short post, which may be a little hard.

The last post, I was in the UP for Ore to Shore. The race was pretty awesome, until I got a flat and after that- the demons took over and my mental capacity was diminished. On the road lead out, my friend Dan was in a big crash and messed up his bike and body up pretty bad. I came up behind him about 10 miles to the end and we rode out from there. This was awesome because with out Dan, I dont think I would be very happy with the finish I had. I finished about 18 minutes slower than last year, countless of overall places lost, and somehow I still ended up with a third in age group.

After Ore to Shore, was the Subaru Cup Pro XTC race in Mt. Morris, WI. I would be competing in two events; cross country and downhill. I got second in my age in the first event and 1st place in the downhill. It was nice to see the locals stack up against big time pros. The next WORS race at Suamico was pretty long and grueling. I got third again, last place overall women (winning). This past weekend was WORS #10 at Lake Geneva. It was another really rough race even though I have been riding more. With school starting, I think I am just tired.

This weekend I will be trying for my first 100 hundred mile ride in good old Sheboygan Co. Then the weekend after, I will be racing a 10 hour MTB solo at New Fane. The following weekend, Bear Paw- WORS # 11!!

Also somthing a little new, I will be getting another surgery in November. Yay. 😦

 

Wish me luck this weekend, good karma my way please!!

 

Love, Hugs, Glitter, & Grease-

Maja

Back in God’s Country

It seems like the last few times I have been riding, it has been in the U.P. So, as you may have already guessed- I am back. Except this time I am not laying in the grass on a woven Mexican blanket. This time I write you from my hammock, by the fire, listening to a ukulele and banjo being picked and plucked.

                My mother and father decided it was their turn to try out the Copper Harbor trail systems. Being the great people they are, they decided to bring us along. I was already up here, so they packed up their belongings and bicycles and trekked up towards the peninsula. There is something about this area that just melts my heart; it’s a feeling of nostalgia. Strong, thick, yellowing nostalgia and if you took a picture of the feeling there would be no Instagram filter to fit it right. That is the type of feeling that everyone needs to feel once in a while.

                Setting up camp was quick and easy with our fine tuned routine that has been perfected in our families many years of camping. However, this trip there has been an addition. Grandpa Pete let me ‘borrow’ a sitting hammock until Labor Day Weekend. Hallelujah for comfort and a little piece of home to take with me wherever I camp.

                A few minutes after being settled and having our fire going strong the rain came. Then the thunder and a pretty little light show of bright, purple flashes that lit up Lake Fanny Hooe like it was day. I usually sleep well during storms but last night I just couldn’t. Who knows how many times I listened to that John Mayer album until I finally fell asleep.

                Soon enough, day came and it was time to ride my two wheeled steed. Hello, rocks, roots, climbs, and breathtaking views.  It is really amazing how the trails here not only take your breath away with all the climbing, but the views. I am not talking outlooks of the lake or valleys, the bridges and descents are a kind of their own. Take the trip and ride them for yourself, it is so very worth it.

                After riding about 16 miles today I am thinking ahead for Ore to Shore on Saturday.  Ore to Shore is one of my favorite races, though there is not much single track or anything truly exciting about it. Last year, I placed 3rd in my age group and 12th overall in the soft rock race. Since this year has been a little rough with surgery, we will just have to see what I can pull off.

                I am sitting here in my hammock, writing, listening to our neighbors pluck away- Don’t you wish you were here?

 

                Love, Hugs, Glitter, and Grease,

                                Maja<3 

Wausau24- Dust, Darkness, and Double Trouble

 

               Wausau 24 was my very first endurance race and it’s very true that I am lucky to do it with the person I did. Originally, our team was a 24 hour 4 person Co-ed Jr. Team but, our boys got a little rowdy and hurt themselves. (Boys…smh). Anyways, after having searched for two teammates for a few hours Emily and I realized what we had.

We are two girls. We are fast.  We love to race together.

     So, ‘You’ve Been GIRL’D’ 12 hour ladies duo team was born. And let me tell you- that baby was born to win.

Friday morning, mom and I packed up and left around 8:00 a.m. for the Nine Mile Recreation Area. Grandma and Grandpa were going to drop off the camper for us at the race venue because we women still have no idea how to pull that mobile mansion.  Both of our parties arrived around 12 noon and set up camp in the gravel lot.

After setting up camp, as mom and I were about to leave to go shopping, Cameron stopped by for a chat. I think he might have been a touch nervous for his 24 hour solo the next morning. Mom knew he would pull something crazy off in the next day- might as well call her a fortune teller because Cameron killed it. 22 11 mile laps in 24 hours at such a young age- you ought to kick Wiggins to the curb, Cam is coming in fast. He finally set off for another family to talk to allowing mom and I to go to Old Navy.

And that’s when I saw it..The House of Breadsticks…The Palace of Pasta…The Foyer of First Dates…Olive Garden. And so, we ate. We ate GOOD.

We head back to the camp with full bellies and race nerves that could put you in an insane asylum but, I was so excited to race. I haven’t raced since June 16th and yes- I had been counting the days. Though I had really wanted to race before this, I was glad I saved myself.

Liz and I were elected the starters of both our teams. She was on a 24 hour 4 ladies team with Moriah, Chris, and Rachel (they were so fast they passed in a blur). Not being a runner, I was wondering how I would be able to run a ¼ mile in bike shoes. Hell, I can’t run in regular shoes.

The run wasn’t too bad, Liz and I took it at a good pace and we got blocked up in the shoot anyway. We ran to our bikes and the race was on. Until we hit the single track, that is. Bikes were stalled waiting to get in there and we were just a train of two wheeled junkies trying to race. I think that every time I passed a guy, their confidence lowered just a tad as they knew they had been ‘GIRL’d’ by some 16 year old gal.

After an hour and 13 minutes, I was in the transition area and Emily took her turn. We did this awkward transition a few more times. By 9:30, we had both completed 5 laps and decided to call it quits right there. However, we weren’t really quitting rather finishing with our sweet dignity. I really like the course and enjoyed racing it. Emily and I completed 10 laps all together, 5 each and I was pretty damn proud of our little team. :’)

I started and finished the race and came in at 9:30 p.m. from my 5th lap. I keep telling myself I had one more in me but I knew I was far too cold and tired to go again. I crossed the line in socks, a dirty kit and a wool blanket wrapped around my shivering shoulders.

I think the walk back to the camper was the worst. After spending a day on the bike with 45 minutes of rest between each ride, I realized there was one component both Emily and I forgot. There are two sayings from the weekend that sum it up. Here they are:

“Friends don’t let friends forget Chamois Butt’r”

And

“And on the 8th day, God made Chamois Butt’r”

     So we waddled. We collapsed on the ground and helped each other up. No matter how tired you are, a real friend will walk with you to your camper. After changing into sweats and jackets, the two of us headed back to the support station. I don’t really recall how it happened but, I woke up next to Emily under a quilt on the grass the next morning.

On Sunday afternoon, awards were held. Emily and I won our category and in lieu of our win, we received pink helmets and a gift card for Cane Creek. Then mom and I packed up and headed south. I don’t know when I really fell asleep but I do remember getting a Kids Meal in Stevens Point.

Once I got home, the cycle began again. Laundry, blog, repack. On Monday afternoon I headed up north yet again for a week in the U.P. with the grandparents, aunt, and uncle. It’s 10:30 p.m. and here I am sitting by the fire writing my blog. I wish I could stay here, in the U.P. So I will, for another week when I hitchhike to ***Copper Harbor*** with my parents. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!!! 😀

But, one more thing…on Monday morning I had  a meeting with Dave Schlabowske and Jessica Binder from the Bike Federation of Wisconsin. I am making things happen and y’all better keep your eyes and ears open because it’s gonna be good.

I would like to thank my mommy for being such great race support at Wausau. I would like to thank Reed G. for also being race support and a funny guy all weekend (even if he doesn’t like my excitement for having a picture of Andy Schlek on my jersey). I would like to thank the Bike Fed for helping me make things happen. And I would like the thank Michigan for being so damn beautiful.

See y’all at Ore to Shore!

Love, Hugs, Glitter, & Grease,

Maja

 

The Harbor: Living in the Moment

Friday morning I woke up and packed for a nice three day weekend at my grandparents house by the lake. I was planning on riding Saturday morning at the Washburn trails right down the road so I only packed one kit. I also packed half the toiletries because I basically have my own drawer there.
After a few days of parties, baking, and waterskiing we were packing up and gearing up to hit the highway. Then mom comes into my room and asks, “Do you want to go to copper harbor?”
So here I am- sitting on a Mexican woven blanket in copper harbor with barely any soap. 😉
Uncle Jeff took us up to Houghton Sunday night and we set up camp at Hancock campgrounds. Monday morning we woke up and headed out to ride the tech trails for a few hours. Shane and I rode with Jeff for an hour or so then he headed out to do some actual training for a few. Shane and I, on the other hand, hit up some of the really technical stuff because it’s still hard for me to breathe.
After we rode, we showered, did some laundry, and drove out to McLain State Park to walk around a bit and check out the lake. Then it was back to camp and off to bed. Tuesday morning we packed up camp and made the drive up to the harbor. Shane wanted to stop at Jacobs Falls for a quick bout of rock climbing so him and Jeff climbed up and I stayed at the bottom due to my poor choice in footwear.
Once the boys returned to ground, we headed out to Fort Wilkins State Park to find a camp site suitable for our picky likings…just kidding. We picked a lake front site on Lake Fanny Hooe.
Jeff needed his fix of historical knowledge so we went on a tour of the fort. It was pretty cool, except for the actor that followed us everywhere…super awkward.
I was pretty excited to ride so we suited up and mounted our bikes. I think we took the stairway to der we went to ma maki and after that everythings a blur. Some how we made it to the top of the edge and rode the flow down and then back into town for more water. The boys headed back out and I headed back to camp because I wasn’t feeling well…again 😦
Thank god we picked the lakefront site because after riding and trying to waterski, I was so sore. the worst form of sore EVER. so I went swimming! which actually means I did some awkward water yoga and stretched out and walked out. I took a long hot shower and painted my nails on the beach. (glitter polish of course ;] )
The boys returned and while they showered I made supper. Spaghetti and meatballs hit the spot and the warm food warmed our hearts as lake fanny hooe was giving off chilly, hurricane force winds! (sorta)
We sat by the fire for a bit then I headed to bed. This morning my eyes were practically swollen shut (no exaggeration) so I tried to relax them a bit but they wouldn’t budge. after struggling hard core with my antibiotic drops, they started to ease a bit and I decided to just chill today while the boys ride.
So here I am- laying on a woven Mexican blanket, in copper harbor, listening to music, writing my blog, and enjoying summer.
thanks uncle Jeff for teaching me that living in the moment can be fun and how to use a propane stove.
I encourage everyone to come up here and ride sometime. not going to lie to you, you’re either climbing or you’re climbing here. its fun, gorgeous, an much different than riding the kettles. nothing will make your heart rate spike faster than riding on a skinny bridge over a little valley only to meet a rock wall on the other side. oh and also, the guys here aren’t too bad looking 😉
I won’t be racing this weekend but I will be everybody’s superfan!! only a few weeks until 24/9…better get feeling better soon.

Love, Hugs, Copper, Glitter & grease,
maja

Recliner Rendezvous

Tomorrow marks two weeks since I had surgery! I am glad to say that though the recovery was much longer than I had expected, there is no longer much pain! They straightened the septum, removed some tissue, reduced the turbinates, and removed the adenoids. Damn. 

I was not very happy post op because my nose was about the size of Russia, no lie. They shove these splits up your nostrils and they keep everything open and breezy..yeah. No me gusta. (Translation- That hurts like hell.)

Once I was finally able to hoist myself up the nurse brought me some tasty chicken noodle soup with noodles with thickness comparable to carpenters pencils! Best hospital food I have ever had!! I was very eager to get out of the hospital and I think we finally got back home around 5:00 pm.

The next few days are a blur.

Today I took my first ride since then and I must say I am quite pleased. An easy 20 miles with the Maywood crew was just what I needed to get me back in the saddle!

Love, Hugs, glitter & chain grease

Maja♥

Jr. MTB Camp- Houghton, MI

Wednesday morning I woke up sore, tired, and excited out of my mind. Shane and I were headed up to Houghton, MI for five days of riding the Keeweenaw Peninsula  with professional racer Brian Matter. The drive was about 6 hours and I was beyond excited when we finally reached The Michigan Tech Campus. I have never been more happy to be in a building called ‘Wads’ in my life!

Day 1: We said our typical goodbyes to our dad and he was off, but so were we. Our group of 15 campers headed up the hill the tech trails for some easy, leg loosening riding. We did some fun drills and relays to warm up then headed out for a lap of the Outer Limits. The rest of the group did two laps, I only did one due to the fact that I caught a tree in a corner with my bad shoulder so Coach Joe had me go back to the dorm and ice up.

Day 2: My roommate, Emily Shull, and I had stayed up pretty late the night before messing with our dorm supervisor. The wake up call was slightly frightening but it was all good considering what we had planned for the day. We ate some breakfast, suited up, and loaded up the bikes and bodies for our drive up to Copper Harbor. Hell. Yes. The trails were in awesome shape and with the Flow recently finished, I was beyond excited to ride the stairway to heaven. When we got to the top, the feeling of being in that spot in that time was overwhelming. After our yearly photo on the outlook, we mounted our bikes ready to shred some dirt. Brian, Dan, and Osk led us into the flow and soon dropped Caleb, Tervo, me, and Emily. The rest of the group sorta split up at their own pace for the ride down which was totally acceptable. Reaching the bottom was a long ride but sooooo worth it! I couldn’t stop smiling….Until Brian said we were gonna climb the mountain on the road. It wasn’t too bad until we turn the corner and saw the gradient ahead of us. Dan and Osk raced up to the top but Moriah and I took it pretty easy (4 mph up that ‘hill’). You kept thinking it was done and you were there but no, she kept going. Though feeling ready to quit and wondering why I even ride a bike I knew that feeling of happiness was almost with us. Being back on the top of that overlook was a very fulfilling feeling. After the group met back up, we rode some more great trails to the bottom. After eating some box lunches, we loaded up again and headed back to Tech. On the way back, we stopped at a waterfall off of the road for a break. Curt climbed that thing like no other…he deserves the name he self-awarded himself: Spidermonkey. When we got back to Tech it had started raining and instead of going riding, Coach Joe told us to get some running shoes and gym clothes on: It was core time. We did some stations in the weight room for about 15 minutes then played dodge ball the rest of the time. Like Brian says, “If you can dodge a ball, you can dodge a tree”.

Day 3: This morning we headed out to pre ride the Chain Drive race course. It had been raining that night, but stopped right before we headed out. The ride started off with cemetery hill, which will leave you in the cemetery and 6 feet under if you aren’t ready for it. The course was great and the pace was slow so the pre ride was going pretty well. Our youngest rider, Caleb, had mixed a Monster Energy drink, MTN Dew, and Gatorade in his camelback so I don’t think there was one quiet moment in that ride. After the pre ride, we headed back for lunch and some down time before a talk with Brian about being a pro racer. Then we headed up to the tech trails for a private Trek Demo. I rode a Trek Remedy, a pretty sweet bike! Of course, I had to hit the jumps and it was pretty fun watching Osk and Brian fly through the MI pines. I went a few times and got pretty warmed up to them so I tried the bigger line. My jump skills are pretty much shit now. Resorting back to the small line, I followed Brian and ate dirt pretty hard. Even got some bad ass bruises to vouch for the crash! My head hurt pretty bad too but I thought I was alright…so, I went again. Bad idea. I got super shaky after that so I headed back to the tent to just sit down. 

Day 4: Race Day!!! I was nervous out of my mind and my head was pounding. I was pretty pissed at myself for going back to the jumps for another shot. The race started off great, the roll out was awesome. I love this aspect of racing where everyone started together and just rode through the host town. My race after that was pretty rough, I felt like an idiot because I couldn’t ride in a straight line because I was so dizzy. The race was amazingly fun and I enjoyed riding with  my friend Alex Yosick  for most of the race. I finished pretty bad and wasn’t feeling well at all. I stopped by the medic for some ice but when I was telling him about the headache, it was hard to not tell him about the crash. He thought it was a concussion and should take it easy the next few days and not ride, and he was going to talk to the Coaches. Bummer. Regardless, I got second in my  age group and 12th overall in the women. After we finished, the group headed back to the dorms for a quick shower then back to the venue for awards. Then we went out to McLain State Park for an ice bath before going to the fireworks.

Day 4: I had to sleep in Moriah’s room that night because Emily and Liz left for some racing in WI instead of doing the chain drive. Coach Joe took me to  the trainer after we dropped the rest of the riders off at the the trail head to get my head checked out. The trainer went through a huge set of questions with me and looked and my eyes, told me I had a concussion and sent me to my room. I slept until the rest of the riders came back and woke up to Curt hugging me..awkward. He took some of me and Emily’s food as well.

 

It was great meeting and getting to know new people as people- not competitors. We broke some rules, had some fun, and rode some sick trails. Thanks to Coach Joe, Brian, Andrea, Doctor John, Ian and Ryan Tervo for helping us learn to ride a little better and for teaching us about how to care for ourselves during training- but most of all for being good role models.

 

Surgery is tomorrow morning so I’m out!

Love, hugs, Bugles, Glitter & Grease:

Maja Holcomb<3

 

A Bike Can Take You Anywhere

     People will always tell you that a bike has the capability to take you anywhere. It is a mode of transportation that is fueled by love, passion, and maybe a slight addiction. Folks from every background and every corner of the globe can hop on a bike and enjoy the ride, no matter their destination. In fact, many of us don’t even have a destination but ride for the journey and the lessons a bike will teach you.

     A bike can take you where ever you wish. For this to be accomplished you must be loyal and dedicated to your goals. Sometimes a bike gives you a break from the stress of life or maybe your bike is how you get to work. A bike can take you 100 miles or 1000 miles. And sometimes, a bike can take you away from people you love and the sanctuary in which you called home.

    A bike takes you places you never thought you would go. This two wheeled contraption serves as wings for the broken in many cases. Wheels give people wings. A bike can empower the world, one pedal stroke at a time. 

    Today, 150 or more local cyclists and friends gathered in a small parking lot. These people come from different places and different lives yet they all ride as one. Tonight, we rode for Troy. Trainers in the group wore a single black arm warmer on their left arm to signify their friendship with their friend. We were quiet when we gathered in a large group in the center of the lot we all looked around at all the faces who wished to celebrate one mans great life. 

    We clipped in and we rode out slowly as we remembered the times we had with a fellow rider. His wife and daughter led us through beautiful country roads and kept us all together as grieved as a family. Though not related by blood, we are related by bike. Our wheels gave us wings.

    As we approached the scene of the crash, we slowed even more as if to signify our pain of being in that place. 150 bikes were placed in ditches on the side of the road. 150 people gathered around a Shepard hook on the side of an open highway. 

    Our leader, Debbie, read us her thoughts and then a poem about riding with God. Troy’s wife, daughter, and son then reached for the bike wheel that had be adorned with flowers and ribbons and hung it up on that bare hook. Weeps burst throughout the crowd and tears were no longer held back. At that point, we came together as one and cried together. 

    Suddenly, all of our hands were being held by our neighbor and backs were being patted and shoulders were being cried on. With our hands together we were one. And even though Troy was not there in person, he was there in spirit. This was not our last ride with Troy, this was the beginning to a lifetime of riding with Troy right behind us.

    As one trainer came through the crowd, he sighed and tied his black arm warmer around that Shepard hook. One by one, each trainer tied a black piece of lycra around the pole. We hugged, we wept, and we were as one. Tying that arm warmer around the memorial was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was a symbol of gratitude, pain, and relief for a great person who dedicated his time to others as if it was nothing. Leaving the arm warmer behind meant I was taking the lead and that Troy was right behind us. 

   Bikes will take you places you never thought you would end up at. Some of those places, you never wanted to be at under the circumstances. My bike took me to a place I never wanted to be,  however, my bike was kind enough to grant me the friendships that held me together. 

    A bicycle serves as a refuge for the weak and a rock for the lost. A bicycle serves as a best friend when every one else leaves. A bicycle serves as a home for the homeless. Your bicycle, on the other hand, is what ever you make of it. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. Image