Hit the road!

By Melissa Liebling

My Jeep is packed, bikes are tuned, races are entered, and I’m ready to hit the road…again! Travel season is here and it’s my favorite time of year! It’s when I get to explore, learn, and experience all that the outdoors and the sports I love have to offer. New adventures and old friends await as I travel the country from Tucson to New Mexico, Colorado to Chicago, Ohio to New York, and everything in between!

The 2013 race season has been a great one and it’s only just begun! April was a mini travel month. I traveled to Ohio for a 50K trail run; Las Vegas for my first XTERRA off-road triathlon; Monterey, California, for the Sea Otter Classic; and Prescott, Arizona, for the 10th Annual Whiskey Off-Road! All were awesome weekends for different reasons.

In Ohio, I visited friends and family and was able to run with some of my favorite members of the northeastern Ohio running community. The trails were mint and I was happy to be back among the trees, rocks, roots, and mud!

Las Vegas was a whole new experience for me and I loved it! Although the lake temperature was only 58 degrees, I had a great swim and entered the bike course to face high winds and super hot sunshine.  After a tough run, I was happy to finish my first XTERRA and plan to do several more this season.

The Sea Otter Classic was awesome! Thanks to Chamois Butt’r, I was able to attend for the first time; and thanks to the race director, I raced with the boys! Since I was the only female singlespeeder and wanted to do the longer course, I lined up with about 20 male racers, and I didn’t finish last! The entire weekend was a blast, mixing with friends, meeting new riders, and visiting sponsors. In particular, I picked up new gear from Club Ride and had some fun with it during a recent photo shoot. The new Cross-Wind kept me warm and cozy on the chilly California evenings. Monterey is absolutely beautiful and the trails are gorgeous! I can’t wait for next year!

The Whiskey Off-Road has to be one of the funnest events around! Just the name says a lot! It’s a festival, an expo, a concert, a party, and on top of it all, some of the best singletrack Arizona has to offer! A cycling weekend at its finest with a country western twist!

How can I top April? Let’s start with 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest; pedaling in Cortez, Colorado, with Osprey Packs; Uncompahgre National Forest; and a stop on the trails outside of Milwaukee with Hayes Components. Expect to see me – smiling from ear to ear – riding my 1960s Sears cruiser in true Club Ride fashion along the Chicago Lakefront Trail. And don’t forget a week-long backpacking trip with some of my closest friends in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of northeastern New York. Let the adventures continue!

About Melissa - "Iron Mel," as most riders know her, has been an athlete her entire life. After 16 years as a competitive gymnast and eight seasons as a triathlete, marathoner, and ultrarunner, Mel decided it was time for a new sport. She began mountain bike racing in 2010 and was immediately hooked! The more she rode, the more passionate she became about the sport. A move across the country from Ohio to Arizona allowed her the opportunity to earn her pro license and participate in events she could only dream of! As an endurance singlespeeder, she has conquered the Tour Divide, remains undefeated as a solo 24 hour racer, and looks forward to success in the sport of XTERRA triathlon. With an outgoing personality, unique riding style, and unforgettable smile, she's excited to make a positive impact among the sports she loves!