Mountain Biking

Every long journey begins with one step

Baby Body to Biking Body

In 2011 I did one of the most physically challenging things of my life, a double century, the Seattle to Portland (STP) road ride, 206 miles in one day. Despite the 11 long hours in the saddle, during and after I felt pretty great. This was all due to a successful training program that had me prepared and ready to rock.

A big part of this training program was a blog I wrote to aid in motivation. I think 2 members of my family read the blog just to be supportive. Even though I knew no one was really paying attention, the writing, and knowing it was out there to the world, held me accountable.

The hope is, what worked once, will work again. I am going to write about my fitness journey from overweight pregnancy #2 to mean, lean, Enduro racing machine. Along the way, I hope to share some helpful resources and my personal experiences that may or may not be motivating to others. 

Let's get started:


My last ride at 8 months pregnant. Thanks to my mom for struggling along with me.

My last ride at 8 months pregnant. Thanks to my mom for struggling along with me.

The simple facts - My starting point:

I have gained a little over 50lbs with this pregnancy. With social and personal pressures to stay fit and in shape, this is hard to say to the world (or whoever may happen upon this post). For those who don't know, the doctors say you should gain between 25-30lbs during pregnancy. At the end of my pregnancy, I was the heaviest I have ever been (213lbs!). Only about 12lbs of that left with the baby. 

As with all goals, there are challenges to be aware of and positive resources to help.

My challenges include a strong willed 3-year-old boy and a beautiful newborn to love and raise while getting back in shape. I plan to breastfeed, which could be a road block when scheduling work outs. My husband works odd hours as an ER doctor, nothing consistent and 24 hour shifts to work around.

I struggle with motivation; I would venture to say most of us do. I struggle with eating too much, I love to eat and have a love/hate relationship with dark chocolate and mountain dew (let's be honest, more love then hate).

Resources in my favor include, a great community gym that is very affordable with spin classes and a pool. I have an indoor bike trainer at home and access to skiing and snowshoeing 15 minutes from my door step. My husband is behind my efforts and is willing to help me get to the gym and get out when needed. I also have great friends who will do babysitter trade days and help me get out. 


I was pregnant here, you can see the belly if you look hard. About 7 months along. 

I was pregnant here, you can see the belly if you look hard. About 7 months along. 

The plan of action:

Nutrition - There will be much more to follow about nutrition with specific information, but the idea now is to just eat healthy, not diet. I do plan to count carbs to help me regulate my sugar intake. This has worked for me in the past. I will be eating many small meals a day including plenty of greens and avoiding sugar with a cheat day once a week so I don't lose my mind. 

Exercise - Also, more details on this to come. My general plan is to schedule workouts at the beginning of each week around my hubby's work, he will have to play mommy for at least a few hours a week. The workouts will start with light cardio and stretching so I don't injure myself as my muscles work their way back to the right places after pregnancy. When my body is ready, (no way to know how long this will take - hopefully only a few months) I will begin weight lifting along with the cardio. 

Mental motivation - Most importantly, I plan to blog about my progress, my failures and the information I find. I am not a trainer, a doctor or a physical therapist, I cannot recommend anything for you, but maybe you can learn from my experience. I hope to share what I liked, what worked and didn’t work for me.

My end goal is to complete at least 2 Enduro races this summer and podium in my category. It would be great to be back to my pre-baby weight of 160lbs, but I am not going to obsess over my weight. Feeling good and being strong on the bike are what is really important. 

Please share right along with me. If you have a great story and want to post to the blog, please let me know. I would love to hear more stories from all of you and how you got back to your biking self.

Every long journey begins with one step.

What are your biking or fitness goals for 2017? What first steps are you taking to accomplish those goals?

Trail Review - Kalopa Trail, Hawaii

Kalopa Trail

Kalopa Trail

Trail Title: Kalopa National Wildlife Preserve
Location: Hawaii Big Island. About 20mins east of Waimea and an hour north of Hilo.

Author/Rider: Rae Sutherland (David Sutherland was also party to this adventure)
Bike: Giant Trance 3 (rental)
Overall Rating: 4 (1-5, 1 being the worst ride ever. 5 being the best ride ever)
Trail Tech Rating: 4
Trail Aerobic Rating: 2.5
Trail Type: All Mountain
Trail usage: Low usage, we rode on a Saturday and saw no one on the trail hiking or biking. 
Local Shops: Kona Bike Works. This shop was great to work with. Everyone was polite, professional and helpful. The guys there gave us great trail beta, even gave us copies of a map for a locals trail not online. They took their time to make sure the bikes were working and fitting properly. The bikes performed great with no issue. Reserve your rentals ahead of time as they “sell out”. They offer a $5 insurance policy for the bike covering up to $100 of damage. I highly recommend you buy this, well worth the 5 bucks.
Other local tips: 
•    The Big Island Brewhaus was a delicious stop for lunch. From the outside it’s unassuming, you wouldn’t know there was a pearl hiding inside. The food was creative, ingredients were local and fresh and the food was done with care. 
•    If you are going to ride on the Big Island, join their mountain biking Facebook page. The people represent the feeling on the island: happy, kind and friendly. They are also very eager to show you around and be your personal tour guide. 

Trail Review: 

We were told by more than one person, the Kalopa Trail is the Island favorite. We were not disappointed. 

Wet and rooted "Jeep Road" trail.

Wet and rooted "Jeep Road" trail.

After parking in a paved lot, we followed the park road about a third of a mile and the trail took off to the left. The map said “Jeep Road” so we expected something a bit more obvious than the overgrown single track before us. It wasn’t long before the trail opened up to become an obvious double track with a gradual climb. 

The west side of the island gets on average 130in of rain per year so it wasn’t surprising that the trail was muddy and slick. Between the patches of mud were tentacles of awesome roots that were very slippery making this wet climb much more challenging than it would have been on a dry day. 

Once at the top of the climb, we had the option to go left or right. Both trails lead back to the Jeep Road at some point. We decided to go right first on the trail called the Perimeter Trail; the guys at the shop said this was the more mellow and “flowy” of the two. 

Top of the Jeep Road where the trail splits. Do we go left or do we go right?

Top of the Jeep Road where the trail splits. Do we go left or do we go right?

The trail was not what I would call “flowy”. It was peppered with challenging obstacles that made it very fun to ride. The longer loop by distance, the Perimeter Trail spits you out near the bottom of the Jeep Road. You can continue across the Jeep Road for a small loop that takes you back to the parking lot. We opted to ride this at the very end despite what Trail Forks said. I recommend it done this way so you can ride back to the car on trail.

Second round of rooted goodness.

Second round of rooted goodness.

Climbing the Jeep Road a second time was a little easier because I was becoming a pro at riding in the slick clay mud. At the top again we went left on the Iron Wood Lane trail. For whatever reason, this trail was a bit drier which was a welcome sight. However, it is definitely the more technical trail.  Right away we had to be on our game. This trail demands your attention at every turn. Fall asleep at the wheel for even a minute and you're bound to fist bump a tree or endo over a root. 

The Iron Wood Lane trail was my favorite of the two. There were a few stream crossings through what looked like old open lava tube. The rocks were black, smooth, and speckled green with moss. At one point, after I cleared a particularly techy steep section on a little ridgeline, I was so proud of myself I forgot to keep riding. I slammed my right brake lever into a tree. The bike responded by bucking me to the left and down a small ravine. I caught myself, but not the bike. Luckily, only minor brake lever injury was sustained and the bike was still ride-able. 

There was a little trail searching. On the Big Island, so legend goes, riders like natural features and do not remove fallen trees or rocks. They keep things natural and ride around them or build obstacles over them. Iron Wood Trail was overgrown in spots and clear routes had not been established around fallen trees. Just keep looking and the trail will appear eventually. There were a few trail offshoots we didn’t see on the map. The trails looked well traveled and had wooden signs designating their name. Go explore and let us know where they go.

Lava tube trail crossing.

Lava tube trail crossing.


This trail will forever remain in my mind as a small and amazing adventure. There is a reason this trail is deemed the “locals' favorite.” It is fun and delivers on everything you would expect from a wet jungle trail. 

Kalopa’s recipe for fun: Humid and warm weather. Roots, roots and roots. Plenty of mosquitos. Mud covering absolutely everything. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Photo Credit: David Sutherland and his Samsung Galaxy 6 phone