More bars leading to stars!!!

That's right folks I've got a few more stars and bars jersey's after a long weekend in Kansas City, KS! One individual National title for the Collegiate womens race and one Team National Title for the Collegiate squad! That is the short version...if you desire more detailed information just keep reading and I will fill you in, maybe even farther than you would like to know...

Finally, another semester to check off my list!(Yes, all my grades were stupendous...well except one from a teacher with a strict attendance policy, but I told him I would take my travel and experience any day over that grade!) At the moment it isn't a huge concern sense my grades have always been good and I don't exactly need a 4.0 to get into bike racing!

So, the story begins with my amazing friend Ally and I! That alone is enough to make anything fun and exciting...just ask my Uncle Mike! After our last days of running around like crazy people I managed to catch the local bug and get sick again....errr!!! My ill nature made the drive quite less enjoyable than I had imagined but Ally did the majority of pulling (driving) and we got there in good time. We even took a little break for lunch at a cute coffee!/sandwich shop, where we found tons of fun stuff and just enjoyed good company. By the time we got to St. Louis Ally wasn't feeling so good either. St. Louis was our destination for the first night because I have an Aunt and Uncle who live their and were kind enough to let us stay. Little did they know we were going to show up sick, sleep there, lay around all the next day, sleep some more, use all their hot water drawing baths in an attempt to cure our illness, and eat anything we could get our hands on! None the less they still made us wonderful dinner and were the best of hosts!

After a day and two nights in St. Louis we finally gathered the energy to pack up and head to Kansas City. On a side note I should mention Ally and I were driving separate from the collegiate team because I was heading straight back to MI for the holidays and Ally was coming to visit me in MI for a few days as well.

Once in KS this is kinda how things went...

Arrive KS Thursday afternoon. Head to race course. Proceed to register in the swampy tent, literally standing in line with half your shoe in wet mud. Ride one lap of the course, completely sopping all shoes and clothing with mud. The positive was I got to see the course and all its swampiness! Head back to the hotel, shower, dinner, relax, make a mess of the room and the tub(with dirty cycling clothes), clear a path to the bed, dig threw a bag of cold medicine(check every single drug in everything with the anti-doping regulations), drink lots of liquids, clear path to bed again, crash!

Friday. Get up and around, relax, lay around, think about riding, debate going to the course, decide on a road ride, think about getting dressed, wait till everyone else is ready, get dressed, don't have dry booties...darn swamp from yesterday. Finally head out on road ride with the Scott's...they both have booties:(. 2hr ride with a few wind up intervals and some quick jumps...this is my attempt to get my legs firing again after many hours in the car, being sick and off the bike. Toes are cold, toes are really cold, darn it I want booties...I'm now unclipping and shaking my legs to get more blood down there and heat up my feet. We road by an elementary and I considered going in to warm my feet up but I decided I would rather just get back to the hotel. Hotel in site. Longest read light ever, ahh finally there! Shower, lunch, lay around, dinner, lay around, clear off bed, team meeting, clear path to bed, crash.

Ally & I chilling in the hotel

Saturday. How in the world does my stomach know hours before I'm going to race? I'm not sure how that works but I always seem to wake up with that "be careful what you put in me" feeling, like just the littlest mistake in fuel could throw off the whole system. At the same time it also feels like "don't you dare eat, it will come back up". So food choices before racing are important and even when it feels like it would be better not to eat it is just the nerves and I force something in. So after breakfast is taken care of we head to the races where it couldn't have been above 18 degrees out. Thankfully the venue had a warming tent with a heater....hallaluia! I had brought 2 cross bikes and my road bike as well because I was going to take it home with me. Being the high maintenance athlete I am I had all 3 bikes at the warming tent. The cross bikes were sitting there looking pretty and getting air taken out of their tires while the road bike was put on a trainer for my warm up. A big thank you goes out to Preston for both his days of help and his understanding of my high maintenaceness before races...he always handles me very well! All the others were also very helpful but Preston just seems to look at me and know exactly what I want/need and he never fails to come through with flying colors! The littlest things can make your day when your getting ready for a race. As I warm up Ally and Jo are beside me also getting in a warm up for the U23 race! We head to the start line and try to stay warm before the gun finally goes off! It's off to the races! I'm not far behind the leader until about the 2nd turn when I hit the deck hard landing right on my back, but I was so obsessed with keeping that bike with me that it landed right beside me with my legs still wrapped around it, quickly allowing me to get back up and on. I spent a better part of the 1st lap just getting used to the conditions and trying to learn how to ride them. The best way I can think of to describe the course is in relation to a tree: Imagine a tree with really groovy bark that all kind of twists together with deep ruts. Strip the bark off the tree, enlarge it and lay it flat out into a 3 to 4 foot wide pathway, sprinkle it with slippery snow and then get on a bike with inch wide tires and ride on it for miles. I learned quickly that there is something to be said for go fast and hang on tight, but there is also an element of finesse that can make it a lot smoother! I got better each lap and really started to feel like I was making steady progress but the leader had a good gap on me and with a short 3 lap race I just couldn't catch her. I came across the line 2nd and with my bikes and my body still in one piece! Back to the warm up tent for cool down and then into warm clothes and back to the hotel for shower, rest, dinner, and sleep!

U23 Warm up

2nd place podium for Blue Competition Cycles...my bikes are awesome!

Sunday. Darn stomach is at it again but my head has a little more confident, now that I know I can actually ride the conditions! Thankfully our race was at the same time in the morning and the conditions were relatively the same. The warm up tent had more girls in it as the collegiate race had far more participation than the U23. Also, we had a full squad of 6 girls racing so we all crowded in one corner and went about our rituals. The time came to take the line and as was true of the prior day we were mostly just wanting the race to start as soon as possible. Gun and go! I was leading up the slight incline paved section and into the first turn when I attempted to blow over the frozen deeply rutted mud trenches and bit it hard right onto my stomach and sliding across the frozen slick ground. This of course just to happens to be directly located next to the announcing stand so they were giving a second by second report on my crash progress....great. I scrambled to get up and back on the bike and was riding about 4th rider, but quickly making ground up. I got around one girl, got stuck behind another who must have thought it entertaining to crash right in front of me and cause even more obstacle. But no worries I eventually got around that and finally came up on the rider who had taken the lead just as we entered a straight but bumpy section, where I tended to excel with my special knowledge from Aaron Bradford that such a section could be executed well by gearing up and mashing! Our coach Brian happen to be there and he said something along the lines of "common kacey (pointing to the girl 10 yard ahead of me) that's your jersey right there, that's your jersey, go get it!!!" It was perfect timing and said in just the right way. He was giving me the tone of get your rear up there and pass her already, while at the same time encouraging and reminding me he believed I could do it. I think it was really at that moment I knew I could have this if I just kept my head on straight and focused on all the little things. The little things are all the things that will matter in that day. All the base fitness and power are things that have been long per determined. What I needed to focus on were things like, light grip on the bars, gearing up in the rough sections, looking ahead, predicting a good line, recongnizing when to put the hammer down and gain ground and when to back off and get threw a technical section still on the bike, etc. Back to the story/race I finally passed her at the top of the 2nd stair climb and then slowly started to gain. I had heard the announcer say at the start of the race she was the junior national champion cross racer and I knew her skills would be something to compete with. I also heard the announcer say something about a possible technical issue when she came threw the line behind me on that 1st lap and I knew I had better focus and try to gain some major ground. I created a good gap on the next rider but in cyclocross anything can happen and I was focused on getting as much space as possible while still maintaining control, in case I had an issue and had to run half a lap or something of that nature. My bike was wonderful and stuck with me despite its numerous collisions with the ground and parts of my body. In the end I came across the line first and my parents got to watch it all. It is the first National Title I've won that my parents have been there for and I think it was probably the most entertaining one as well! I stayed at the finish to watch all my team mates come across and then headed for warmth and recovery. I needed to recover as much as possible as quickly as possible because I had plans to race the elite/pro race in 2 hours. It would be the toughest of all the races and the 3rd race for me in 2 days of cold conditions. I had a good start in the third row but my kick at the start of the race was less than stellar. I passed some people and got passed by others. Went back and forth with a few girls and just tried to settle in. I was tired and my skills were fading but I held on to finish 26th.

Me before I eat dirt, or should I say ice


Bringing in the "W"!

What a great BLUE bike...stuck with me the whole way!

Me with Mom & Dad!

The only time I get to be tall...what did you think my motivation was?!

A bit shot out to and thanks to Aaron Bradford, seen 3rd on the podium, for all his work with the team and the lessons he has taught me not only about how to handle a bike but also just how to approach a race. I'm no where near a laid back as he is and probably never will be but he has helped me make some progress! THANKS AARON...YOUR THE GREATEST! Way to go, I'm so proud of you! And Anderson can be seen in 5th, even though he raced the last half of the race with one foot unclipped because his cleat got screwed up. What studs they are!!!

Elite Start line

During Race

Getting ready to negotiate sketchy turn

Post Elite/Pro race (much muddier than the others due to the later start and softer ground)

Wow, it was all over and time to enjoy the final end of my season(s). Ending on a pretty good note if I may say so myself. One more individual title was great, but even better was the team title that we gained, making us the Collegiate Team Cyclocross National Champions 2 years in a row! The bus full of kids packed up and headed back to Banner Elk, while Ally and I along with Mike Anderson, who was also headed back to MI with us stayed another night. We returned to the hotel room and all hit the bed for a nap pretty immediately. Then we got around and ready to go to the party of the night. We drove over to the shopping center area and found a coffee shop in a book store, so we stopped for a drink and shared a really good cookie...thanks Ally!!! Then we went to Dave and Busters, where the party was scheduled to be. I ran into a number of people I knew and even saw and talked with Ned Overend again, who I had meet at Iceman just a month or so ago! He of course had won his race! I also talked with other old friends and acquaintances, and meet some new ones. Once that died down the crew headed downstairs to a bar that just so happened to have a mechanical bull...haha. Yes, of course I rode the Bull, twice and we might have even danced on a bar a bit. When 2am came around Anderson put his foot down and told Ally and I it was time to go, so we had to stop dancing and running our mouths and head back to the hotel. We even ended up driving another friend back with us who was in need of a driver. This whole 2am thing is really a once or twice a year ordeal for me and I don't drink much at all even when I do go out. Dancing is another story, get the right music and the right people and dancing is like an addiction! My sister always makes fun of my because I'm a sucker for all the cheesy dance movies...I always say one day I'll be able to dance like that. The night ends with Anderson driving us home and then everyone crashing into bed for a few hours.

Mike looks tired before the night even begins

Why are you taking a picture of me Ally?

Ah...caught you in the act!

Mike with his new warrior freind

Ally & I figured if we made friends with the turtle maybe he would give us a ride home...

Sometimes short legs are an advantage, this is not one of those times...

I'm pretty sure that is Tim Johnson, the winner of the mens elite/pro race...big congrats to him on that!

Time to get back to the hotel

Monday. Anderson's alarm didn't go off as early as he had planned and I woke him up at 6:20am to inform him we were already 20min. behind his planned departure time. We got up, rolled Ally out of bad (she wasn't too happy with either of us) and shoved our bads together jamming everything into the car in a somewhat organized manner but mostly in chaos. Breakfast in our stomachs and on the road by 7am MI time. It was a long trip back, arriving at my parents just after 9pm...phew...finally!

At the early morning hour we stuck Ally in the back

This was toward the end of the trip...I think that is the Anderson has had way too much Ally & kacey time face! We love you Anderson!

Hahahaha...I just couldn't leave this guy out. We found him in a car when we went to lunch one day...what great entertainment!


Catch up...

Alright, so I've been pretty horrible about updating this thing lately. Let this serve as a warning as to what you may see next semester as it could potentially be even busier!

In any case this entry is simply to fill in a blank. Cross racing was the thing of the moment and most weekends were filled with a race on each day...but I was going to get a break! There were no races in the area Thanksgiving weekend so not only was it going to mean time off of school and no scheduled class time but I was also going to have the ability to rest/train freely with no races...or so I thought.

Unfortunately, the "COLD" bug had something different in mind. As it turns out I came down with an ill feeling and felt like crap for my "break". All my plans to accomplish so many things went out the window and I spent my Thanksgiving on the futon in my apartment, alone, watching marathon episodes of CSI...that would have been fine if I was just resting and recovery rather than hacking and sweating.

Good news is that is all over.

I finally started to come around and got out in the woods for a little nature healing with Brian and Mike!

Thanks guys!

They got me moving around, threw rocks off of bridges and Brian even went to the extent of very good entertainment when he was showing us how good he was a rock hoping and hope/slide his way right into the cold water! But he's tough so he was ok and it was ok for me to laugh, which was the best part!

If you look closely you can see the wet pants...haha

In addition to its healing ability the water was simply beautiful and very clear

Maybe if I had gotten in like Brian I would have gotten better sooner...um!

Now, prepare yourself for this...it may be hard to believe but occasionally I do things other than riding my bike! Don't get me wrong, riding my bike it by far one of my favorite things to do but life also has more to offer.

At some point Robert and I finally got around to really cleaning our apartment and he was in charge of the shower and shower curtain. We took down the plastic curtain and put it in the washer with bleach and then Robert just couldn't resist the temptation to play with our decorative curtain, which we always laugh about because it has a "window" in it.

Robert at play!

I can't see you...


At some other point I spyed a magazine with some sinful looking cookies on the back and just couldn't resist. I even got around to making the cookies.

They were pretty good and super rich but we have a few changes to try nest time to make them even better! I'll keep you posted on the progress...

Time for finals came around and Robert and I both had a lot of book time...ugg...but we love learning! It's the busy work we can't stop nagging about. And the fact that we would rather be in a warm place on our bike!

So one day I came home to Robert all dressed up for presentations and he wanted to show me how he was thinking of presenting to the class...

It gave us both a good laugh and we went back to work...

What was to come would bring even more joy than the completion of another semester!


Multiple Weekends...

Get comfortable, this is going to be a long one. Luckily with lots of pictures.

Following Mountain Bike Nationals it was time to get into the cross races even more and start preping for Cyclocross (Cx) Nationals, which will be held in Kansas City this year December 14-16!

First weekend following nationals we had 2 races lined up. One on Saturday that I clearly wasn't opened up for and I suffered to a 3rd place finish. Sunday was a bigger race in Lenoir and we had great turnout for the women. In the first lap I gained a gap with another rider, but unfortunately she took a slide down one of the hills and from what I heard later was forced the stop racing due to a gash in her leg. That left me with a gap on the rest of the field and I was able to hang on and win by about a minute!

Extra points Saturday for Halloween dress up...

Start of the Lenoir Race

The following weekend I traveled back to the great MI with a few of my fellow LMC friends who are also from MI so we could race the ICEMAN up north in Traverse City! I got to stop by my parents house and spend one night in the bed I grew up in! Then it was on to Traverse City, but my parents came up to stay and watch and I got an extra treat when my Aunt, two cousins, and grandma also came to stay a night and hang out! The drive there was broken up a bit as we started in the afternoon, grabbed a hotel, then staying in lower MI before traveling up north the next day. The drive back wouldn't be so kind...we would leave TC at 6am and drive straight threw all the way to Banner Elk, where we arrived around 8:30pm.

My attempt at capturing the first snow I saw of the year with leaves still on the trees in the background at my parents house

My Moca and I after one of our morning runs!!!I love this girl!

After my one night at home I headed up to TC with Randy and we had some good food at the Red Mesa Grill. Thursday morning we ate at the restaurant in the Grand Traverse Hotel and I had to take a picture of the menu. Ally this one is for you and regrettably this was not my menu choice but if you can read the description of the Chocolate Banana Crepes it says "Tender Crepes filled with Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread and bananas, served with whipped cream."

After breakfast we headed to a local bike shop to pick up a few needed items before heading to preview the end of the race course...look what we found at the bike shop...!!!...they really were bigger than me

After arriving at the finish line parking lot Randy was inside changing and I was doing some things a the car when a nice gentleman came up and asked me about where the course went. I told him I wasn't sure but my friend had a good idea and if he wanted to head out with us he was welcome to. He thanked me and later road by and told me he was going to go check it out. I thought little of it, but then I ran into the same man out on the trails after Randy had taken off to go a bit faster. I started talking to the guy because we were both trying to figure out where the course went and if we were in the right place. As I'm talking to him I notice that the sleeve and neck of his jacket have the World Championship stripes on them. Once I introduce myself and ask him his name...it's Ned Overend, who happens to be a World Champion and pretty much an American legend in Mountain Biking! Randy had mentioned that he would be there on our way there, but I of course didn't know much of anything about him. In any case, I enjoyed riding and chatting with him back to the finish line and he then looked at my tire options for the race the next day and helped me decide what would be the best option! Ned (now in his 50's) went on to get 6th in the mens pro race! Not only an amazing racer but also a really nice guy!

Ned and I in the parking lot checking out tires

After riding I got to go out to eat and hang out with my Grandma, Aunti Ann, and two cousins Lizzy and Katie!

Miss Lizzy

Crazy Katie

The girls & I

Auntie Ann & I

Grandma & I

My travel crew the day of race. Randy, Mike, & I

The guys rocked their race with some stiff competition. Mike got 8th and Randy 10th! I on the other hand got a rough start when less than 200yards into the race I got involved in a crash, hit my head pretty good, and lost my glasses (my parents found later cranked in half). After I got up I managed to unpile the 4 or 5 girls and bikes that were on top of mine, grab my water bottle off the ground and get going again. I passed up some girls and just enjoyed the nice weather and the riding in the woods. Ended up coming in 13th and feeling lucky that I and my bike were for the most part ok and unharmed. After a little spin cool down I was ready to hit the shower and get ready for the nights festivities...Iceman is always a race with an after party! It was great to be back in MI and see some of the guys again and we had a good time.

There is always a Bell's party at a local bar so we headed over to that. It was alright, got to see a lot of people and they had a life band. It was also a very small bar with sooo many people. It was a struggle just to get a beer, and yes I did get one. Anyhow I walked out to put something back in the car and found this...


They had strobe lights going, music bumping and the whole thing was alive!

The front of the party bus...

Some of the boys and I

Pretty packed

I got back to the hotel by a reasonable time and got to bed as I knew it would be an early morning...ugg.

6AM Sunday we load up and pull out.

Here I am driving

and here are the boys helping me stay awake...

This is what the end of my driving shift looked like...unfortunately for Randy almost all of his shift continued in this manner

Then Mike got the nice sunny shift and styled my glasses well

We made it back to Banner Elk safely and last weekend it was time to get back to the Cx gig. Hendersonville, NC UCI races were on the calender. Saturday I arrived at the races quite late and after little warm up and poor nutrition I was only able to hang on for 4th. Sunday went a bit better and although I crashed in the 1st lap I was still able to ride the race with the lead group and it ended up coming down to a sprint on flat pavement, which gave me an advantage and I got the win.

A big thanks goes out to Perry, my team mate Aaron's girlfriend, who drove us home on both days, as we where pretty out of it and not quite seeing straight...

Also, a huge thank you to my awesome room mate Robert, who spent a large part of his Firday getting my new bike put together from scratch!!! Thanks very much to the Pro mechanic Robert!!!...

These pictures should give you an idea of what Cyclocross is all about!

Riding along

Over barriers

Dismount in sandpit

run pit

up the hill...


beautiful bike

Not a bad weekend!

Then I got a treat Monday and got to watch after Miss Bella, the puppy belonging to some soccer guys who live down the hall from me! She is such a cutie. She was busy bouncing around the apartment after ice cubes for quite some time and then she joined me on the bed while I worked on some homework...awwww...how cute!!!

I asked Robert if I could have one but he brought me back to earth and I'm going to have to settle for watching after others for now...

Oh, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone!