Friday, May 18, 2018

Retiring from Professional MTB Racing

2018 Changes - Wait. What? Ahh... A real job??


From This: 


1st


2017 BME Opener Santa Fe (Glorietta)

Bike Life Video in Durango:


To This: 


Engineering and Production Manager (Operations Manager)
Video:  https://youtu.be/eVVHO6s8V-k

Winning the BME season opener and my final 2017 races in Mexico was a great way to end a race career.

I have been lucky enough to race as a professional athlete for over 10 years, first XC then Enduro. Living on the road while training and racing was an amazing experience.

The ability to race XC World Cups and XC/Marathon World Championships, live in Cyprus, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, and South Africa for extended periods of time and visit Canada, Mexico, Peru, Switzerland, France, and Austria can't be beaten. I was ranked 5th in the USA for pro-XC women in 2011 and made the Olympic long team in 2012. Who could ask for more??? I owe all this to my sponsors, friends, and family. Thank you!!



SoundTraxx
Hogsback trail in the background (ridgeline just left of center, steeper than it looks)

January 2018 I began the full-time position in Durango as an Operations Manager (Engineering Manager + Production Manager) for SoundTraxx. I will still be involved in MTB events including Enduro and DH races but am switching from "Professional Racer" to "Ambassador" for the companies who are still supporting me. 


I race because I LOVE riding closed courses as fast as I want to! Now my focus will be on others as I help get them ready to race. I will be pre-riding with Devo kids, athletes and others who would like "pro-tips" on racing, line selection, pacing, training, skills, etc.





I am stoked to be working for an Engineering company where I am part of the leadership team helping to drive the direction of the company. My daily job is as much removing roadblocks, empowering employees, and creating career paths as it is technical. 














Added benefits: SoundTraxx is 5-minutes from where I live in downtown Durango (via car or trail) in an amazing new contemporary building with every convenience you would want including decks, BBQ patio, well-equipped lunchrooms, shower rooms, top-of-the-line lab equipment and (most importantly) it backs up the Test Tracks/Ned Overand MTB trail network. 

I helped build out the fitness room and get to act as the on-site fitness consultant for employees. It would be great to start up a MTB SoundTraxx work ride and possibly offer SoundTraxx hosted clinics/rides this summer.


Mexico Shuttle Bus

I received this offer while on a bus in Oaxaca when we received a bit of cell service. See my Peru Biking and Mexico 2 x 3-day enduro races post.

We were in-between race runs on a dirt road that was never-ever designed for a bus. It was so foreign and difficult to comprehend a full-time Engineering position 3-weeks into living out of bags in Peru and Mexico, moving almost every day to who-knows-where, with who-knows-which-guys, shuttling DH trails as fast as possible all day every day followed by sitting around drinking beer while talking about riding trails as fast as possible. 

Turns out this is actually the perfect job opportunity with plenty of time to travel, play on bikes, provide skills coaching and clinics.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sedona MTB Festival

It's about time for group rides to start up in Durango. As soon as this last snow disappears we should be good-to-go. The Sedona MTB Festival had everyone getting bikes dialed for the year and the time change has everyone ready to ride.

Huge thanks to Osprey Packs for sponsoring the Sedona skills sessions again!! The first year of the festival I was the only one providing clinics and it caught on, this year there were many skills clinics and sessions to choose from. I brought two other Durango coaches with me, Lee Pausan and Ziggy Lanman were so fun to work with and allowed us to split into manageable size groups for better skill-based learning.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bucket Lists: Peru Biking and Mexico Enduros!!

Racing and Travel
I ended a great race season with an amazing October-December. Well an amazing year really, I won the Big Mountain Enduro Season Opener in Santa Fe and my final two 3-day races in Mexico.

Oct 7th: 3rd in Final Angel Fire Fire 5 DH race
Oct 15th: NICA Highschool Skills Clinics in Phoenix, AZ for 20 kids
Oct 19th: Flew to Peru to ride for 8 days with PeruBiking.com. I can't wait to put a crew together to go back! A Peru tour with skills clinics would be sweet!

Peru Biking Video I rode all these trails and then some. The guys went back out after I left and put this video together.


Peru Biking guides are dialed, they picked me up from the airport and provided housing at their guide house. Their drivers shuttled us on ~3 trails a day. We rode from 14000+ feet to the Sacred and Southern Valleys (~9000ft) never riding the same route twice. One day we rode the Inca Avalanche course, it's a really tame trail when it isn't a mass-start race in the snow. There were other trails where I was worried; wet, mossy, and steep free-riding. It's an amazing area! There were no mountain biking purpose-built trails, no trail maps or signage; we rode old Inca trails and those used by the Andes people today. It definitely required a guide.

  
Hike-a-bike at 14,000 feet









"That's what we rode down this morning"



   



MEXICO

Oct 30th: Flew to Oaxaca Mexico to meet up with other racers


My roommate for the first night, Leigh Bowe

Nov2-4th: 3-day blind Enduro race http://www.transierranorte.com/


Loading up bikes and luggage every morning. 



Racers had bunk style accommodations, moving to a new location every night. Some of the staff slept in very cold tents.


Poor buses


1st! This was a rough one, I dislocated my front brake finger by 100 degrees or more at the lowest knuckle on day one. Mind over matter wasn't enough, I had to race taped up and on painkillers. These trails are ROUGH, no holding onto the bars and breaking with the middle finger here.

Nov 6th: 4-day road-trip to Mascota with other racers and Oaxaca guides including a volcano ride





Such a fun crew to travel with.

Huge thanks to guides Mauricio and Santiago De Avila for the trip and amazing housing!
https://www.bym.mx

Nov 10-12th: Raced what was essentially a 3-day blind enduro since the road trip crew arrived with no time to pre-ride.



1st!

I was really happy to win this race!! Marco won the pro men's category and we all had a great party.

Nov 15th: Flew back to the USA after a couple days at the beach in Sayulita
Nov 21-26: First-ever White Rim trip with an amazing crew and Thanksgiving dinner at one of the campsites



December was full, engineering contract work in Durango and I spent a lot of time with family in NM, CO, and TN

Friday, October 20, 2017

Vanlife with Solar Panels and a 12000lb winch

2017 was another busy and fun-filled year!

#Vanlife
While still based out of Durango I lived out of the van while on the road. Vanlife is a blast and adding gear to the van is part of the fun. This year I installed solar panels with a 40amp MPPT controller and monocrystalline panels (one rigid and one flex). Lots to learn here: RENOGY.


I also added a Smittybuilt 12,000 lb waterproof winch with synthetic line and wireless remote control.

There is no receiver made for the front of my van but I wanted to be able to move the winch from front to back depending on how I got myself stuck. I found a hitch receiver that was close enough and ordered it to Crested Butte.

While camping alone, outside of cell (youtube) range, in the woods of Crested Butte I drilled holes into the van frame, fished nuts via welded wires, used bottle jacks to support the receiver and mounted the receiver, winch cradle and winch while being eaten alive by biting flies and mosquitoes. It looks amazing but I haven't got myself stuck since. With the wireless remote, I will be able to steer the van while controlling the winch.


Comfy home during crazy weather. DH race in Los Alamos, NM at Pajarito ski hill

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Arizona Clinics! Oct 14 & 15

Oct 14th 6am Phoenix Clinic -- FULL

Oct 14th 9am Phoenix Clinic -- FULL

Oct 14th afternoon -- FULL

Sunday Oct 15th afternoon: Sedona group clinic. ***Postponed till December, please contact for details k_rust@yahoo.com ***.


Clinic Options
City
Name(Attendee)/Date/Time/Trail
Able to wheelie-drop off curb?

Recent Feedback


Phil Panipinto: Great mtb clinic with today! I'm a better rider then I was this morning, thanks Krista! 

....follow-up text: "Strava says you made me faster.  PRs on descents today which is remarkable since prev PRs were in hero dirt. 😎"     

Jeff Fox: You will love it! I got to do an afternoon clinic with Krista in Tucson a few weeks ago and she helped me tremendously with advanced technical skills. By the end of the day I was riding really hard stuff that I didn't think i ever would.

Thanks Krista Rust for the awesome skills clinic! Pretty amazing to go from walking down lower Milagrosa to comfortably riding the whole thing after just a couple of hours of fundamentals. Just goes to show that even us "old dogs" can pick up a trick or two from someone that really knows what they are doing.

Bettina Mills: Skills Clinic with Krista Rust at Milagrosa in Tucson--spent the afternoon learning to ride my bike more effectively, not only for enduro-style riding, but also to improve my XC skills. It was awesome! Can't wait to learn more from Krista. Hoping to get more QOMs this way.

Re: Sedona Festival: Fantastic clinic!!!! So much good info and guidance with attention to my individual level ! Imparted with a cheerful and encouraging manner. DO THIS!!!!!

Two Wheel Jones
Riding stuff that I usually walk. Thanks to Krista Rust for a great MTB clinic.


Other offerings:

Visiting Durango, CO. 
An example: Three international travelers (two men and a woman of various skill levels) wanted to hit the ground running when they flew into town. They requested a basic trail overview and route recommendations in addition to a 3-hour a day skills session on various trails.  Skill work in the morning and more riding on their own in the afternoon, they were in town for four days and made the most of it.

Intro to drops. This is something we can keep urban and quick, or include a ride. One client was headed back to Moab where her goal was to ride the Whole Enchilada without walking anything, we achieved that goal. 

Small drops are important even if you never want to "go off drops", it is all about weighting and driving the bike while keeping the front wheel light, a skill used in many situations. 

-Cornering. A XC client was gaining time in races on climbs but losing time in flat corners. Turns out his bike set up was not inspiring confidence and was making cornering more difficult. We also worked on weighting the bars to corner, weighting the tires enough for traction and looking through the turn, common things we all need to practice.  As soon as all this was put together correctly it made a huge difference, he was smooth, flowy, and able to save energy to pedal elsewhere, instead of out of each corner.

Uphill Steep or Rocky Pitches. Many strong riders still have trouble getting up steep pitches that required proper body english (hips to bars), looking up, shifting weight, etc.

- Rocks. In Durango I like the Ridge, even just Blackdirt down has rocks to play on. Tucson and Sedona are great for rock work as well.

Ideally, we will have a specific focus for a private lesson. From the above examples I'd say drops and cornering first, uphill techy climbing next, then apply all that in rocky terrain.  But we should focus on what is the most appealing to you

Monday, January 16, 2017

How to plan a mountain bike trip to Mexico. Racing in Mexico with Trail Quest - Worldwide Mountain Bike Tour

Traveling, touring and racing in Mexico was an amazing experience.  For those who may be interested in creating a similar trip, I have documented what I really enjoyed, who to contact and ways I could have been better prepared. ...since I really didn't prepare at all, that last step wouldn't take much.



With a three week break in my race/event/clinic schedule, I was able to head to Mexico Oct 24th-Nov 17th to race two enduro races and play tourist. With no time or knowledge with which to plan, I depended on Trail Quest to sort out all the details and guide me on great trails.

Tour Guides 
As a mountain bike vacation for any mountain biker, Trail Quest - Worldwide Mountain Bike Tours is highly recommended. Their local knowledge and skill level along with a flexible structure allows them to offer pre-built or custom packages.

My Plans 
Race these two 2016 races
Oct 29th and 30th Day-of-the-Dead-Enduro outside Oaxaca, Mexico 
Nov 12th and13th BME Sierra Madre Enduro in Moscato, Mexico

As most of the USA BME racers would vacation in Sayulita before flying home, I planned to fly into Oaxaca and out of Puerto Vallarta. Trail Quest would provide all transportation from Oaxaca to Mascota (Oct 24th-Nov 8th). USA racers were to be at the BME race so I planned to travel with them for the rest of the trip.  

My Trip 

Only a few hours after finishing up the three-day TORCA Pachanga Festival in Tucson, AZ I packed my bike and headed to the airport on a 3am shuttle not knowing what to expect. I would be traveling alone until the second race.

Flying a new-to-me airline is always interesting, Interjet from Mexico City to Oaxaca was extremely impressive, clean and new, no bike bag fee and free tequila. Trail Quest hired a driver to pick me up at the Oaxaca airport. It was a one hour drive out of the city and up a narrow winding dirt road to a little village where the rest of the folks were staying in cabins. I can't speak Spanish and the driver didn't speak English so we listened to each other and smiled. 

It was a lot colder than I had expected, riding temperatures were perfect with a jacket, but night temperatures were very cold. I used as many Mexican blankets as I could and we built fires in the cabins to stay warm at 2,000-3,000 meters above sea level. I had expected a town, a place to buy anything I forgot to pack, or in this case a warmer jacket. We were in a little village of ecotourism, a self-sufficient little village without typical stores.





Trail Quality: Each tour is built to accommodate the style of bike, terrain, and trail you prefer. The enduro trails we rode in the Oaxaca, Mexico area were amazing. We were shown trail systems in three different areas, moving lodging each day and only riding each trail once. As our group was comprised mostly of enduro racers, we were shuttled to trails with minimum pedaling.  Only on the third day did we pre-ride the Oaxaca Day-of-the-Dead Enduro Race trails, on the fourth day we raced. 



Photo Credit: @diegosebastianmt
Non-race trail that finished at our cabins at the finish of Tour Day 2


Expert Guides 
Alvero, Mauricio and Santiago are very skilled riders with great personalities.  The tour felt more like an outing with friends. Chasing each other down the trail, following them off jumps, working on bikes together and celebrating with dinner and drinks at night was much more exciting than a typical mountain bike tour.







Cost
It would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for us to put together this experience alone.  Had we been able to find maps of the trails, hire drivers, plan routes, hire guides and acquire lodging, it would have been much more expensive and taken many times as long to execute, not to mention the time required for planning prior to travel.

The cost is extremely reasonable so my recommendation is not to skimp on the fees, comfortable accommodations after long days on the bike are worth it. Relaxing and letting someone else figure it all out is worth every penny.






Accommodations
If you prefer your own space, climate controlled hotel rooms with warm showers, etc. then I would recommend paying more for comfortable accommodations. 

However, there are budget plans available for someone such as myself. For those who like roughing it, sharing rooms with other clients and living in mountain cabins with smoky wood fireplaces, this is the route to go. Bottom line, you can plan the trip to your comfort level. 


The key is to fully understand what you desire and to discuss your expectations in detail with the Trail Quest guides ahead of time, they are more than helpful in designing a trip to fit your budget and needs.



 

Planning
The flexibility Trail Quest offers its clients means they may not have specific details on addresses or trail routes too far ahead of time. With so many options for trails and accommodations they try to remain fluid, enabling them to make changes based on the client’s skills and preferences.

For the detailed planner, this may be a little hard to grasp so talk with your guides. Every evening ask for the next day’s plans while realizing they may change due to weather, everyone’s energy level, etc. It was amazing to have local skilled riders as guides, not only show us the local trails but also the local culture. I would love to go back and ride each of those trails again and meet up with all the friends I made. It was not your typical tourist vacation, but something special.


Race #1






 Race Finish, Tired and Happy.  
Thanks @nicoswit-photo for the great picture





 Oaxaca Women's Race Podium

1st Place Women's Trophy






 

  




The Oaxaca race may have been my favorite race as the trails were fun on a 6" bike and the Mexican locals were extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful.

Oxacxa City Non-Bike Activities
After four days of riding, including participating in the Day-of-the-Day Enduro Race we moved to a hotel in Oaxaca City to spend the Day-of-the-Dead festival days as non-bike tourists. Staying within walking distance of the festivities, bars and restaurants at the plaza meant we could shop, eat and rest as we pleased.






























 











One day included a trip to the most majestic of Oaxaca’s ancient ruins, Monte Alban Ruins.













End of Tour Quest Guided Tour
This ended the guided tour, I then spent a week in Mexico City, but didn't see much and didn't get a chance to ride. Everyone was busy catching up on laptops.  Alvero then drove me to Sayalita to meet up with the USA racers.

Stuff Happens
The first day there we went on a "Jungle Spin", no pads, Alvero didn't even wear a t-shirt.  Somehow I launched off the bike, rolled and hit a huge palm tree that didn't move. I thought I would have to fly home, was 99% sure I wouldn't be able to ride.




Straight to the bar for lots of tequila. 

The bartender showed me a trick to alleviate pain. He put a red tablecloth behind my neck and had me alternate pulling on each side. The rubbing on the back of the neck must interrupt signals going to the brain or something, it worked.

Turns out I dislocated the collarbone behind the clavicle. It popped itself back later that day but was more painful than a broken collarbone. Soft tissue damage is the worst, it still hurts and it's been two months now.




On the painful ride from Sayalita to Mascota. Thanks to the guys for taking care of me!

Once in Mascota, I crept down a few stages for a pre-ride, still not sure why I would want to try racing. But I have an entire summer of experience racing with a broken collarbone that wouldn't heal and those compensation techniques kicked in.  Luckily I had brought real pain killers that I know I can race on. Sleeping or laying down was so painful that I figured I may as well ride. I ended up racing really well and am so glad I went for it. The trails were fun, especially the last stage!




When I got back to the USA, Dr. Butzen in Durango said he would have kept me off the bike for six weeks because of what could happen if it dislocated again. In fact he asked me to quit riding, but I went to Tucson, AZ to test bikes for VitalMTB.


Race#2 BME Sierra Madre in Mascota















BME Race Photo Credit: @diegosebastianmt








To Sayalita to be tourists
with a Raicilla distillery stop along the way.