Monday, December 29, 2008

Coaching myself to Coach

A few weeks ago I was approached with the idea that I would make a good women's cycling coach for those new to the sport. I was a little floored because I never considered such a thing - in my mind, I'm a very amateur cyclist and I still have a lot of work to do on myself. Somewhere in my mind, this means that I couldn't possibly coach others. Aren't coaches supposed to be accomplished at their sport? I've never completed a time trial or raced with the "good" cyclists. I don't ride a racing bike and there are plenty of women who have ridden much longer than I have...

I also think about my interactions with others. This week, I was told by a friend that I don't communicate well and that I needlessly micromanage things. I took a tough love approach with a friend who was whining about "being a drag" when she comes along for a ride - none of those things seem very "coachy" to me. I lack patience and I'm demanding. I believe anyone can be a cyclist, but you have to be willing to adopt a positive mental outlook and push yourself - just like any athlete in any other sport.

Despite all of this, I admit, I keep thinking about it. So, in typical "Cristy fashion", I must also consider what would make me a good coach - and not focus solely on my personal areas of weakness:
1) I've been there and done that. I get the whining - I don't like being a drag either. But whining doesn't improve outcomes. Refocusing someones whining can be great fuel for performance when it's used correctly. Sometimes, we just need someone who can be positive for us when we aren't being positive for ourselves. Being positive doesn't mean you have to be agreeable...
2) I think my friend is full of crap and I communicate just fine - matter of fact, If anything, I over communicate. There is nothing wrong with me - this one is just a miscommunication, not poor communication. (Thanks for that one Big Ring Betty...I can always count on you to have my back!)
3) I may not be the best, but I'm figuring out what propels you forward when you want to be a better cyclist. I've started to take this seriously and I believe it's starting to show. I also know women and I realize that many of them have a fear of failure, a lack of self-confidence that they can perform as well as man, and in many cases, a general tendency towards poor self/body image. All of these things can be improved through cycling - especially if you have the right person by your side to encourage you to push on and remind you of your goals.

For many women cycling is a confidence builder, a great way to improve body image and general health. When cycling at a somewhat strenuous pace, the heart rate maintained falls in the fat-burning threshold which quickly attacks the stubborn fatty areas that women hate the most: abs, thighs and buns. Another point of interest for us ladies is that cycling also serves as a great way to relieve stress. In the November issue of Bicycling magazine, I read that cycling can boost the amount of neurotransmitters which allow your neurons to more effectively communicate with one another. Dopamine, in particular, is released to spur behavior that is associated with "feel good" sort of activities, making them more appealing. Those who know me know that behavior is my forte - and I can tell you the release of dopamine feels good which in turn reinforces whatever activity we were doing when it was released. It's also the neurotransmitter associated with addiction, but I digress... It's kind of like finding a $500.00 bill when you clean under the sofa. It makes cleaning a little more rewarding and your body tends to want to repeat the task in search of reinforcement (in the case of cycling, a let down of all of those feel-good neurotransmitters that encourage a positive outlook and better self-confidence).

I also know a little about coaching - it's really the concept of leadership as it applies to athletics. If I learned anything from Noel Tichy in graduate school, it's that in order to move others, you must first examine yourself and develop your teachable point of view (aka - vision, with a little enticement). You have to believe in what you are doing and be willing to teach others by walking the walk. You do as you want others to do - and you teach them the merits along the way. You make it your goal to teach others to continue where you leave off and to grow to surpass you. For me, the latter part of this whole concept is what makes me push forward. The idea that my impact on others could improve women's cycling is reason enough for me to read the manual and take the exam - but more importantly - to teach these ladies what it feels like to accomplish their goals and watch as their bodies and mental outlook make a dramatic improvement. I believe I can do this and believing in myself is the first step in showing others that it's okay to believe too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

As you wish...

Several of you have sent me very kind emails to let me know that my blog hiatus has been long enough...so here's a quick update on what I've been up to:

I did finally break down and buy it and I kind of hope TSD reads this b/c I'm feeling really guilty that I didn't buy it from him. I had a set aside budget amount and I needed to get all that I could with what I had to spend. I found a deal that included the wireless computer which I hoped would work on the rear wheel so I'd be able to use all of the features as I ride (it was indicated that it WOULD work on the rear wheel...but it didn't...oh well...another reason to buy a Garmin some day...). I hope TSD won't be too mad at me...

Here it is - the Trainer:















The new computer:
















For Christmas, Santa was good to us. He brought Julia so many Littlest Pet Shop Toys that I guarantee their stock will go up 30 points by the time the markets re-open and A Nintendo DS game (which was the Littlest Pet Shop Garden Jardin DS Game). Her grandparents also got her a refurbished iMac so she will quit monopolizing my computer...:) You gotta love my "techie" family. Santa brought Aaron a really big dump truck and "Gordon," "James," and "Annie" from Thomas and Friends. Gordon, by far, was his favorite. He was content to lay on the floor connecting and reconnecting Gordon and his tender. He even gave him a kiss from time to time. I got a bright green ipod shuffle to use when riding my bike (the 20G I have is toooooo heavy) and a Starbucks gift card that should keep me warm and toasty for a while! The blog fairy worked on my blog too - which was a nice gift. It's not drastically different but the frames are wider - which I like.

















































































































I've ridden at Stone Mountain several times since my last post - I'm continuously amazed at it's beauty. Take today for example, Big ring Betty and I took a spin around the mountain and when we started out, I remember thinking it was a "dreary day". After a warm-up around the small loop, we headed around the big loop. Just past the place that first had such an impact on me, I looked to my right to see that the mountain was partially clouded by fog. It was really pretty stunning! When I'm at the mountain, I find beauty in things that would have previously gone unnoticed.
I'm working hard on the bike this winter but I think I can work harder. I don't really know how to take it to the next level but I'm going to figure it out. I've had two really great friends helping me out - "Fixed One" and "Mr. No Response" have been very supportive of my quest to improve. Just their presence has had an impact - they provide me with motivation to keep working and that means more than I can express in words or writing.

So be calm blog readers...I didn't disappear...I promise to add "more frequent posts" to my list of New Year's Resolutions.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Decisions...

This one:

Jet Fluid Pro


VS this one:

Fluid 2


or this one:

Magneto



What would you choose? Do I really need the Jet Fluid Pro? Is the Fluid 2 REALLY that much quieter than the Magneto? I've found pretty good deals on all three.... Do I need the climbing block or is the wheel stabilizer enough? Should I get a mat - it'll be on carpet most likely...

I'd love your input...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why do you read my blog?

and never post a comment??? I have ways of finding these things out...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Alone, but not lonely.

I remember a time when I couldn't be alone without feeling lonely. I was never happy unless I was in a crowd or on the phone or in a relationship. It's strange how you can live life that way without really realizing that you don't know yourself or what it means to be content. You never really have a chance to think through how you really feel and evaluate what you hope to accomplish. Really and truly, nothing you do - everyday life or leisure - should ever be dependent on the presence of another person. We should make our choices and live our lives with passion and excitement. We should reach for the things we want, avoid the things that make us unhappy and banish the idea that we aren't "able" so long as we are alone.

I rode at the speedway tonight - alone. I passed two walkers and one bicyclist who appeared out of nowhere (maybe he got off the express bus?) but only for a lap or two before disappearing again. I wasn't lonely - not even for a moment. When I first began to ride, if there wasn't someone willing to go, I stayed home. I thought I couldn't ride or I wouldn't be motivated without having a friend along. As I pedaled along in the bus lane, I practiced keeping my cadence steady and riding with no hands. I increased my cadence with control and I explored the difference between gears found on the small and large chain ring. I stood for two minutes, then I sat for one; I repeated the drill over and over again - almost automatically. At some point the notion hit me to sprint one part of the track and then spin the other. At the end, I had drilled myself for over 22 miles. Every mile was dark, quiet (except for my ipod) and desolate. For the first time in a long time, I wasn't lonely. As I circled the track I considered the similarities between reading and riding and smiled at the silly comparisons I was able to make between "word-attack" strategies and "hill-attack" strategies. I realized that you can differentiate your rides, just like I teach others to differentiate their instruction. Whether you ride alone or if you ride with others who have a different level or skill set, you can achieve your goals independently using the same course or even the same bike. Cylcing is an amazingly social activity although you are almost always focusing on your own personal areas of needed improvement. I sang a little (poor walkers...I hope they had ear plugs) and I dreamed a little. At the end of the night, despite my reluctance to ride, I felt an calming sense of contentment. In a world where things can so easily spin out of control - I was in control and thinking clearly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I still can't feel my toes!

As part of my winter training plan, I joined the 7:00 a.m. "shop ride" this morning to tackle 38 miles in 27 degree weather.

The shop ride is led by Mike Stigers and is "billed" as a training ride for those who want pointers and tips about riding. My focus: hills. I need better attack strategies - I have strong legs but I don't always approach hills in the right manner. Many times, by the time I'm halfway up, I tend to give up or at least back off out of fear that I won't make it to the top with any energy left to spare. It's really not the hill I'm afraid of, it's what comes afterwards. The A riders climb the hills and continue at a respectable pace. I need to keep up.

On the ride, I was accompanied by the creme de la creme: Stigers, Max, Roby and Scott. Talk about feeling like a 5th wheel! As I struggled up the hills, they laughed (not at me), talked about pro racing, ribbed each other about their respective alma maters, etc. What was hard work for me was an easy ride for them.

I don't intend to give the impression that the ride was less than stellar - I loved it, I never felt left behind and for the most part - the guys were very supportive. Especially Stigers and Scott, but then they always are when I'm lucky enough to tag along.

I know that participating in these rides will take me to a new level and I know that I can't get to where I'm going without pushing myself to do more than I think I'm capable. I began cycling to gain fitness; my course has changed because I'm addicted. My confidence lacks and I know I need to focus on that point if I expect to move forward.

The tundra time trial was mentioned to me today and as anyone who knows me would expect, I was adamantly opposed. I know, as Scott put it, that it's a good beginner's time trial, but the thought scares the hell out of me. I'm going there - I'm just not sure I'm ready yet.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Dark Side of Happiness

I went on the best ride EVER on Wednesday night!

Stone Mountain has earned it's place in my heart forever...

I've never ridden in the dark before but it's a whole new way to experience a ride. The entire park had a quiet peace about it that was calming and exhilarating at the same time. The trees seemed to whisper and the water beside the mountain was still and made little sloshing sounds that I could barely make out over the sound of the slight breeze rushing past my ears. The Christmas lights were around the park in various locations and they illuminated the sidewalk and road in a way that enabled me to see the on-coming walkers and cyclists who passed by. The others that passed would say "hello!" and there were no cars nearby to drown out the sound of their voices. The park police waved kindly and waited for me to pass when they needed to turn and travel in my direction. I couldn't make out the beautiful leaves like last time, but I could hear them crunch under the weight of my bike and I could imagine that the pretty colors I had seen on my previous visit had faded to a coppery brown as they fell to lay along the road. The nearly 20 miles of hill climbing went very fast and although my body was very tired by the time I turned back into the parking lot, I was sad that the ride had come to a close. As I loaded my bike onto my bike rack I knew I'd be back for more...

Sometimes, the value we place on a ride is measured by our speed, distance or the riders who are along for the trip. For me, the value of this ride was in the beauty of the dark, the sounds I experienced and the feeling of calm and satisfaction I felt after the ride. There is something about a first encounter that will always hold a special spot within your memories...but I hope the passion I experienced will continue be with me and that I'll never forget the serenity of the night.

Cycling is truly my therapy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I rode in the rain to the soccer field today...

and it sucked. I need the rain to stop spoiling my plans.

A bike for Vinny

Friday was a fun day - I took my BFF Vinny (aka Heather) up to Woodstock to pick up a bike she found on Craigslist. Turns out - it was a good fit! Heather, er..Vinny, was excited!



Later that day, we headed out to AMS for a ride except it started to rain as soon as we climbed on the bike. We decided to play in the sprinkles...which became downpour. By the end, each of my socks weighed 3lbs each I swear! All in all, it was a good ride. 15.53 miles. A leisurely stroll but Vinny did great considering it was her first time on a road bike (for further than up the street and back), she was wearing tennis shoes on SPD pedals and the weather was crap. We picked up new pedals for her yesterday so given a week or two, she'll be kickin' my rear up and down hills at panola!

Nothing new on the riding front...I've spent a considerable amount of time at the gym over the last week - trying to focus on legs and general fat loss. We'll see how that goes...

Epic Bikes is starting a really awesome contest tomorrow - the grand prize is a kick-a$$ trainer...perhaps my desire to win will put me back on the bike for a while.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Powertap

Yesterday, I came out of hiding and got on a bike (so to speak..). I let TSD talk me into a trip on the powertap bike at the shop. here's an account of my thought process:

Warm up: Hey, this kind of sucks...it seems too hard - will it get harder? (up walks Tim, looks at my heart rate, adjusts the tension on the bike) Thank God, I didn't want to admit I was about to die 30 seconds into my warm-up...

10 minutes into the warm up: Boring....

20 minutes into the warm up: I wonder what mom will cook for Thansksgiving tomorrow...maybe I'll start cooking tonight instead of tomorrow...Oh Crap..here comes a customer...Did I turn off the computer before I left the house? I wonder if the kids are driving Clint crazy...

"Tim, I'm bored...when do we start?"

Minute 1: Not an issue. I can do this.

Minute 2: Not so bad (cranks up the tension)

Minute 3: Shouldn't have cranked up the tension so much...oh well...

Minute 4: Damn I'm hot...oh look, my heart rate is 170..huh.

Minute 5: oh crap...don't tell me Mike is coming over here, now I'll have to pedal harder...he's going to laugh when he sees my wattage...

Minutes 6: Mike's driving me crazy but I can do this...he'll walk away soon...

Minute 7: Oh geeze...here comes that other guy hanging out at the shop...oh god, and Tim. Do they have to stare? I'm panting like a dog...maybe I hang in there like this...

Minute 8: I'm feeling claustrophobic but I can do this....this saddle sucks and I keep sliding forward...

Minute 9: What? Turn up the tension? Mike's lost his mind.... I'm going to die...I can't breathe...I'm sweating..I never sweat...

halfway through minute 9: Thanks Mike, yes, I can see that my heart rate is 190...it feels like 290...I guess he really is going to stand here until I finish...he is kind of motivating though...in a slave-driver sort of way...

Minute 10: OMG, the room is spinning...where's something to hold on to? Oh no...it's over...I don't think I want the results...

Turns out, I didn't do awful. I'm not thrilled with my performance either. Despite my thought process, I wish Mike would have stood there the whole time because with him by my side, I was motivated to work . I've noticed the same thing with group riding...if left alone, I'll mosey along but in the presence of others, I'm terrified of being left behind or looking like a wimp so I work harder. The experience was good and I'm glad I did it - I know I'll do better next time.

Oh - and my output was 2.95 watts.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For Vincent Schumaker

I rode my bike last Monday at Stone Mountain for about 15 miles. There are more hills than I can shake a stick at and when I'm done, I'm much more tired than I am after completing 30 miles of riding nearby my 'hood.

I haven't posted much since I haven't been on a bike much...and supposedly...this is a cycling blog.

I have plans to attempt to ride on Mondays and Wednesdays from here on out. Well, after this week...this week is a little crazy... We'll see how it goes...I'm trying to stay motivated despite the wind and dropping temperatures.

If I don't get on a bike soon, I'll turn into a hippo/house/blob/really fat person. And that would suck. I earned a lot of fat while making my babies and while I love 'em (the babies), I can do without the fat.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Good night weekend from hell....

...I'm off to bed. I'm happy to report that you threw many rocks along the tarmac but I swerved and pedaled like hell. Here at the end...I'm still standing.

Sweet Dreams - tomorrow is a new day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Beautiful Ride

Today I took my first ride around Stone Mountain Park. It was absolutely beautiful - so much that I found myself very "still" and calm. There is one part of the loop that is very wooded, fairly flat and curvy; the lake is just a few hundred yards to the right. As I traveled along this section of road, yellow leaves were floating in a slight diagonal and dropping quietly to the ground. That image continues to flash in my mind even now, almost eight hours later.

I also recall a beautiful red maple tree with leaves the color of apple cider. I had the most amazing urge to drop my bike and just stare at the tree...maybe pull off a leave to admire it's beauty even closer. I passed the tree without stopping but it's brilliance will be forever remembered.

Some may be surprised by my silence on the bike - I am aware that I am quite the loquacious individual and I'm not ignorant to the jokes that are made about it. When I ride my bike, the beauty of the things around me become more apparent as I'm able to mentally slow down, focus and think clearly.

I enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty I was able to witness today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Claxton is toast...or fruitcake, rather...

So my ride in Claxton has fallen through. Yesterday, I sat to compose a post about this but I just couldn't do it amongst the election, the chaos of two kids and my frustration over the whole situation. While I admit that I'm very disappointed (I've never seen Savannah which is where we were planning to stay and more than anything...it was to be my first full century!), I'm also very happy for a few reasons:

1) First and foremost - a friend of mine has been struggling with things beyond his control. He's a very patient and calm guy and I admire his ability to hang in there and weather the situation. A big part of the reason I'm not going is because we had planned this together and he has had to cancel. The good news is that his cloudy skies are starting to look brighter and I'm very happy and confident that his decision not to go will be a good one. Friend, if you're reading this - I'm glad things are looking up and you owe me a ride...big time! :)
2) I can train even more so that when I do my first century, people will turn their heads and say..."wow...who is the nicely sculpted, very hot chick on the pistachio and pearl bike that just passed me like I'm standing still???"
3) I can be at home to go to art class with my daughter on Saturday - she is taking a children's multimedia art class at Chastain Arts Center on Saturday mornings and I've yet to be able to go with her. This weekend I'll get to find out what all the excitement is about!
4) I can attend the ironman party for my friends who kick ass and finished an ironman race over the past couple of weekends...

Life is good.

Did anyone know that Claxton is the fruitcake capital of the world?

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Halloween Treats

There are days when the world seems dark and its hard to find the silver lining along the gray could that hangs overhead. Those dark and lonely days will drag you down and make you forget all of the things in the world that you are/should be thankful for.

Amidst my recent slump, a "cyber friend" (aka Fat Cyclist) has been carrying a load much heavier than I could ever imagine. From the first time I stumbled across his blog I was drawn by his wit, charisma and eloquence. His site, which started out as a way to poke fun at himself and maintain his motivation for riding his bike, is now a crusade against cancer. This week, Fat Cyclist has struggled more than I'll ever know and his recent writings have touched me in ways my simple words cannot explain.

Today I found the true treats of Halloween when I focused not on myself and my frustrations, but on those that I love the most. My Halloween was filled with a trick or two, but most importantly, two of the greatest treats one could ever have:

Happy Halloween my sweet babies, I love you more than you'll ever know!


Aaron (my smiley boy)



and Julia bug (the coolest pirate ever)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Draggin' my ass

As of late, riding my bicycle is my biggest source of relaxation, stress relief and (as Ann would say) meditation. It's hard for me to find time to ride as much as I'd like to - I envy those guys who talk about the "magic number" and say that it's when they consistently ride 150-200 miles a week. I feel lucky to get in 80-100 miles each week and I've still got three times as much body fat as some people who don't get on a bicycle at all...

Today I made preparation to ride my bike. This is an undertaking since it means I need to get up earlier (I already get up by 5:00), get my riding clothes together, load my bike, prepare my bottles and pack a good lunch. Then I have to work hard to leave the building on time so that I can make it to my ride destination in time to change and be ready to go by start time. Today, I actually managed all of this. And then my legs felt like lead.

I managed two (after my parking lot warm up) laps around the track at AMS before Ann joined me. I think I finished three more with her before she commented that I was really draggin' my ass. I knew then that I didn't just feel slow and sluggish...I was slow and sluggish. My throat had begun to hurt, my ears were soar and I had the distinct feeling that I was coming down with a cold. Not what I need when taking steroids each hour...

I headed home after only 11.5 miles. Nothing makes me feel worse than having a bad night on the bike.

Riding at Claxton is going to be a disaster if I can't get on the bike and put in some miles.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Patience is not a virtue I was given.. OR... Things you probably DIDN'T want to know.

1) I don't like feeling bad. It makes everything else bothering me seem worse and the good things that DO exist in my life seem to be shrouded by heavy flannel or a corneal ulcer...

2) When I want something, I typically wanted it yesterday. I make decisions after much thought. To some, it may seem that my decisions are impulsive when the truth is that when I have a decision to make, I pool all of my resources and focus on the decision I have to make until my mind is set. This is different from the way that others attempt to think on something, put it to rest, think about it again the following day, etc. etc. I don't like unfinished business so I make decisions as I face them and then move on. I am more frustrated than you can imagine when I am not able to make decisions because I'm waiting on others to make decisions that impact my decisions.

3) I am a planner. I like to prepare in advance and be ready for all things. This includes work, children's birthday parties, dinner, the weekend, trips, etc. I used to think this was a bad thing that meant I was obsessive. Now I think its a good thing that confirms that I am obsessive.

4) I need stability. For this reason, I do not wear high heels daily. I also need to know that my life is going in a solid direction where there is a foreseeable (and preferably desirable) future.

5) I enjoy the occasional opportunity to leave reality and visit a lifestyle that really isn't mine. This means I enjoy dinner alone or in places I can't typically afford, shopping for furniture I have no where to put, driving through neighborhoods in which I'll never live and reading about people who live in and travel to places I'll probably never see.

If life is what you make it, could someone please tell me the recipe?!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Take me out to the Ballgame

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you have no choice but to knock it out of the park. You're standing at the plate and you observe the wildly misbehaved ball as it sails through the air and starts to glide out of reach. For a moment, that little heart palpitation happens - the kind you usually feel when a car swerves head on into your lane or when the object of your affection appears when you least expect it. You catch your breath and re-evaluate the situation. Do I reach out and swing or do I wait patiently to see if the ball realigns with the plate? Should I let this one go and save my energy for the next pitch? Sometimes, it's just better to pick your battles.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What if I go blind?

Will I be able to sense the cars approaching behind me?

This better not mess up my Claxton ride!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

FHF II

I allowed myself to be coerced into riding FHF II today despite the limited vision in my left eye. All in all, I'm glad I decided to do it but the day certainly had its ups and downs:

5:30 - alarm clock. Not what I wanted to hear, opened my eyes to find that I had no more vision than the previous day - if I had to guess, it's actually a little worse. I made up my mind that I wouldn't ride but then decided to put on my club gear under my jeans and sweatshirt, just in case.

6:30 - Starbucks, of course.

7:00 -- arrived at Heritage Park and helped the crew set up registration tables, prepare food and drinks, etc. It was really COLD!

8:15 - Scott G offered to hang back on the metric with me if I'd ride. He insisted that if I grabbed his wheel (but not too close - you know, in case I REALLY couldn't see), I'd be fine. I agreed. I wanted to ride so bad.

9:00 - Mass Start. I was nervous before I even left the lot.

The rest goes like this:
less than 5 miles into the ride, Scott and I were separated. I immediately came across Michael and Phil and rode between the two of them. It didn't take long before Phil took off to catch the peloton and Michael and I were mixed in the crowd. Two riders passed by on my left in a very close fashion and I became aware of how little I really could see. It felt like I was looking through waxed paper on the left side of my body. And have you ever noticed that when one of your senses is off, you just don't feel like anything works right? Well, shortly after, a car passed and I became really afraid - It was like I didn't hear the car as it breezed by VERY close to me. I immediately wanted to climb off the bike and cry. If you know me well, you know that I hate to cry in public almost worse than I hate humiliation.

I hung on until the first SAG stop and much to my embarrassment - there sat Tim, Scott and a few other guys from our club. I didn't want to see them b/c I knew I was close to tears. I didn't want to loose the "cool and cute" points I had earned when I crashed a few weeks back. I pleaded with Scott and Tim to "Go!" when they wanted to know what was wrong. I was humiliated and disappointed in myself. I think I really would have quit but Scott said the magic words, "You mean I fell of the peloton for you and you're going to quit?!"....that was all it took. I couldn't handle feeling like I had messed up someones ride so I pushed on.

The next several miles were fine...until I was pulled over by the Sheriff. I was approaching a left hand turn and I signaled as usual. As I made the left, there was a car on-coming that was making a right onto the same road. As I approached, I noticed it was a Jasper County Sheriff's car. He stopped and made a motion with his hand. For a split second I thought "how nice - he's holding traffic for me!" I passed on by and he blew his horn at me - I suddenly realized he intended to pull me over. When I pulled to the right, he pulled up beside me and told me that they were receiving lots of complaints that we weren't moving out of the way of traffic. Respectfully, I explained that we were riding the white line, never more than 2 abreast - according to the law. He repeated that they were receiving complaints that we weren't moving out of the way. Michael pulled up beside me and I knew he was wanting to argue - I motioned for him to hold back and I thanked the officer, mounted my bike and pulled away. We later saw him up ahead waiting for us to pass. I guess we were riding to his satisfaction because he didn't stop us again.

The second SAG seemed like 900 miles away from the first. The first was at 17.5 miles and the second wasn't until 47 miles! Michael and I collapsed to the ground and refueled our bodies w/ liquid and a Nutrigrain bar. I got up to leave but Michael insisted that he was planning to catch a ride back. I left the stop w/ Scott, the guy in black and white and the guy in gray. A few others joined in as well.

The next SAG stop was only 8 miles away. I really didn't want to stop but I pulled to the side to debate whether I needed to use the restroom. Something about the distance up the driveway to the gas station helped me decide that I could make it back without going inside. I pedaled on, three or four other guys with me.

The next couple of hills made me want to vomit...I hung in there and climbed to the top of each one as it approached. I think I did a better job climbing today than I usually do - and I'm proud to admit that I never came out of the large chain ring, despite the intensity of the hills.

The last 10 miles were a blur. Somewhere along the way it ended up that it was only Scott and I pedaling to the finish. I can't tell you how grateful I was to have him with me. His experience as a rider really became apparent: he allowed me to pull ahead when I felt a little burst of energy and he correctly anticipated when my energy was running low and pulled in front of me to help me along. A few times, he assured me that I was doing well. Somewhere inside I was ashamed that I was struggling so hard but at the same time, I really felt like he was genuine and wanted to see me finish the ride. It was comforting and made me glad I decided to keep going. If I've never commented before - the guys I ride with at Epic are carefully selected. Each of my "heroes" have proven to be reliable riders who care as much about helping their fellow rider as proving their own "dominance". After today, I think Scott has been added to my list.

We finished the ride and spread out across the warm pavement to bask in the sun and wait for the 100 milers to pull in - everyone was eager to see Mike Stigers finish since he'd decided to do the full 100 on his fixed gear bike.

I'm proud of some of my accomplishments today (the big chain ring, my decision to continue the ride despite my fear) and I'm embarrassed at others (did I really cry?!). The important thing is that I did my best and I refused to give up.

Oh My God, Claxton is in two weeks...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Come take a ride on a roller coaster...

My week in Summary:

Monday - my daughter's school called and I had to go and get her. I won't elaborate on this - if you know, you know.....but lets just say its my greatest source of frustration right now. I spend about 80% of my time thinking about the situation. If you are getting calls or texts from me, feel privileged because I'm spending my only remaining time w/ you on my mind. Heather, Clint, Chris, Tim, Ann and others - I love you guys - you keep me sane (well, most of you do...LOL). I also elected to ride and celebrate Phil's birthday - I really needed the break.

Tuesday - a fairly normal day by most standards...busy at work but nothing too exciting filled my day. It was a good day. Bizarre that a good day for me lately is one where nothing happens. Had strange dreams involving random people and a visit to the circus???

Wednesday - A pretty good day. I rode w/ a mix of A and B groupers and surprised a few folks. I've had a lot of comments lately on my improvement and the possibility that I can ride w/ A in the spring if I keep it up. I averaged 19.8 for the ride, including the slow laps I made around the parking lot before we pulled out. This makes me feel good. Stayed after the ride w/ Tim planning the Tim and Cristy Dog and Pony Show, aka FHF Century. I've been made "Director of Sanitation"...which I think means I get to deal with the shit and bull-shitters....

Thursday - Busy, long and productive. Met the Divas for Margaritas at La Parilla. Yes, my third dinner at La Parilla in a week. Strange, I know. The Margarita was huge and awesome - we had lots of fun and undoubtedly we'll do it again. It's nice to ignor the real world, even if just for a few hours each week.

Friday - Any good I had in the week went out the window. I woke up w/ eye issues. I figured something was just under my contact so I cleaned it and put back in only to find the irritation worse. I changed to glasses and proceeded to go to work (the state DOE is monitoring our system next week and guess who has schools on the list to be visited and observed...yep...me...so I needed to "clean up" some stuff). With every hour, my eye got worse. I made a 2:00 appt to have my eye looked at. By 11:00, I called and begged to be seen sooner but was told 2:00 was it. I finished work and headed home to change. As I zipped up my jeans, my husband called to tell me that my daughter's school called. To make a long story short - the principal and I had a not so positive or agreeing conversation. I pretty much made it clear that I wasn't coming to get my daughter and I'm ready to look at other schools. I proceeded to the doctor to have my eye looked at. By this time, I was convinced that I had pink eye....instead I "most likely" have a herpetic ulcer in my eye. Yep, thats gross but it's true...you can get the equivalent of a mouth ulcer in your eye and the doctor thinks that I "probably" have one. All I know is my eye hurts so bad I've considered just cutting it out and I've prayed and told God that I'd have 4 more children if he'd just make it stop. God reminded me that I'm not able to have more children so I'll just have to deal w/ the eye gunk. For those of you who know how big my children were at birth, you understand that I'm in a LOT of pain. Dr. put me on meds and told me to come back Monday so she can see if it has progresed or diminished...if it has diminshed then it wasn't an ulcer and if it's gotten worse or stayed the same, she'd put me on a steroid to treat the ulcer. I'm concerned that that means my eye could potentially get worse this weekend. Most of you know I'm supposed to ride a metric this weekend... I spent most of the afternoon shut up in the darkest room I could find and cried over my kid. It's been a rough day and a fairly bad week.

Here's to a better Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A welcomed Release...

Sometimes you have a day where everything falls in place. You actually finish your to-do list, your child's school doesn't call with a behavioral concern and you get at least one comment on your blog along with a handful of funny emails/comments from people who, for some reason, know how to say things that make you giggle (PTA meeting? whatever!....No Response.....tube socks and chamois cream...Fullbite scholarship.....) YOU GUYS MADE MY DAY!!.

I'm off to a nice long soak in a tub of bubbles with a good glass of Merlot. The last few weeks have brought me all kinds of family-related baggage that has really soured my disposition. If your out there and your reading this...I love every one of you for putting up with my moodiness this week and not forgetting that, on most days, I'm a cute, fun-loving, giggly girl who has found her weakness not in chocolate or shopping, but in the complexities of 20 gears and training to become a kick-ass cyclist.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I ate my Wheaties or... Why I'm sad the fall is here...

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the changing leaves and brisk temperatures of autumn. This year, for the first time, I'm sad to see the colder air arrive. Just when I'm starting to be where I want to be, it's time for my cycling group to disband. I hope I find a winter training ride.

Tonight I broke my personal record. I typically don't ride on Mondays but because it was Phil's birthday, I arranged to skip soccer to celebrate with other club members at La Parilla. I'm glad I decided to ride because for a 27.04 mile ride, I averaged 19.48 mph. It felt nice to listen to the guys talk about my strength and high five me each time we pulled aside to wait for the slower riders...

As Mark H. would say, I ate my Wheaties today.

Truth is - I needed to blow off some steam. There are several crazy things happening in my life right now and I find that my head is much clearer after a ride. Sometimes my anger becomes power - I think that's the truth of what happened tonight. Either way, I'll take it.

As a side note, I need to comment on a tidbit of sadness - please keep "fat cyclist" (aka Elden) in your prayers - his wife Susan is struggling with cancer. If you are interested in learning more, check the sidebar and look for my link to his blog. Hands down, it's my favorite daily read.

WIN SUSAN!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pardon the Interruption: 25 things you always wanted to know about me but refused to ask..

1) I'm an Aries and my birthday is April 6th.
2) My favorite place to ride a bike is anywhere there is someone willing to ride with me. I love people and getting to know others - the world is full of many different personalities.
3) I have three degrees and I'm sure I'll finish a fourth someday. I love to learn and I think schooling is a necessary evil.
4) I have exactly one best friend and a million acquaintances.
5) I think digital communication is almost the most awesome invention. I prefer to type my thoughts and feelings because I can revise. Verbal conversations run the risk of all sorts of complicating factors such as tone of voice, innuendo, slip of the tongue, etc. Sometimes though, I admit that I find the permanence of digital communication annoying - especially when you write something you regret. Bloggers understand this...
6) I am extremely impulsive which has apparently been genetically transmitted to at least one of my children. It's probably the worst trait I could have given - that and chubby thighs.
7) I never want to grow old with anyone other than those I love the most. I love those that "get" me despite my idiosyncrasies.
8) My favorite color is either green, blue, red or brown but I haven't decided which one. I've been working on it since kindergarten but it's the hardest decision I've ever made.
9) My favorite food and drink is any food or drink shared with others. If I'm alone - my favorite drink is Pinot Noir, Chianti or a Diet Coke.
10) My favorite sound is the rain as it drops to the ground. Some of my fondest memories involve rain and I find that I dream about rain in association with things that are important to me.
11) My favorite game is probably scrabble...or poker. But I really stink at both.
12) My favorite article of clothing is a pair of blue jeans. A close second is a pair of boots.
13) I have one sibling who lives in California. She decided to run while I decided to be the hero and stay close to home. I am really re-evaluating the definition of "hero".
14) I have two dogs - both are miniature dachshunds. Spikey is a black and tan male and Shelby is a red female. Both are neurotic and I love them anyway.
15) I make fantastic snickerdoodle cookies.
16) I have a lizard tattooed on my shoulder!
17) I love a wide variety of music - most important to me is that I can relate to the message.
18) I have gone through periods of my life where I don't like chocolate. This is not one of those periods.
19) My favorite flower is the sunflower although cherry blossoms are a close second.
20) I'm not a girlie girl but I do love jewelry. There is no gift more exciting than a carefully thought out piece of jewelry.
21) For the most part - I don't care for tomatoes.
22) I am more afraid of failure than snakes, bears or car accidents.
23) I start most every morning w/ a Venti, non-fat, no foam, 4 splenda latte from Starbucks.
24) I love soccer almost as much as cycling but I'm not nearly as good a it (which means I really stink...)
25) I have a freckle between my second and third toes on my right foot. It's actually on the side of my second toe - making it fall between the second and third toe.

And there you have it folks - everything you ever wanted to know about me. I'm not special - nothing out of the ordinary. If there are additional questions that I didn't cover, please submit them as a comment and I'll do my best to answer in a timely manner (ya know, considering my blog receives so many comments that I have a hard time keeping up...).

You may now return to your regularly scheduled daily functions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

speechless...

Some nights just stick out in your mind as memorable - your blown away - the unexpected happens...

I averaged 19.2 for 26.86 miles tonight...the guys actually asked that I slow down....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Cool is THAT!!!

Bailout Bill Includes Tax Benefits for Bike Commuters


The $700 billion bailout bill intended to stop the tailspin of the nation's financial sector did something else: It includes federal tax benefits for people who commute by bike.

Starting in January, workers who use two-wheelers as their primary transportation mode to get to and from work will be eligible for a $20-a-month, tax-free reimbursement from their employers for bicycle-related expenses. In return, employers will be able to deduct the expense from their federal taxes.

"It significantly legitimizes bicycling and elevates it to a credible commute mode, like riding a bus or train," said Andy Thornley, program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The money could be used to purchase, store, maintain or repair bikes that are used for a substantial portion of an employee's commute.

Bike advocates have been trying for seven years to get such a provision passed in Washington, but came up short until Congress rushed through the Wall Street bailout package last week and lawmakers squeezed in pet projects. The bicycle benefit was championed by members of the Oregon delegation.

Backers estimate that the federal tax rolls may lose out on about $1 million a year due to the new employer write-off, according to the advocacy group League of American Bicyclists.

Willy Dommen, 49, regularly rides his bike from his San Anselmo home to his job as a management technology consultant in San Francisco's Financial District. He said the $20-a-month perk for cyclists won't amount to much in term of covering actual expenses. But, he said, it will help raise awareness of bicycling, "and that recognition is great."

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi plans to introduce an amendment to a law he sponsored earlier this year that requires all but the smallest businesses in the city to provide their employees with incentives to get them out of their cars and onto transit.

Under the city law, which will take affect next summer after a six-month public education period, employers with 20 or more employees will have to offer their workers transit passes or vanpool reimbursements or offer them door-to-door shuttle service, or set up a program in which employees could tap into an existing federal program that provides tax breaks for those who commute on transit. Mirkarimi hopes to add the new fringe benefit for bicyclists as an acceptable alternative.

"It's another opportunity to encourage good commuting habits," he said.

The federal bike bill would not allow participants to tap into both the transit credit and the bike reimbursement.

Claxton

I'm training for the Claxton Century between now and November 8th.

I can't seem to get my "registration plans/accommodations" set. I'm weird like that...I hate the unknown and it makes me antsy when things aren't organized or confirmed.

I'm also fearful...what if I can't hold on my own? Three other club members are going along. What if I loose my cool, cry like a baby or worse? What if I can't make it through?!?!

How do I settle my thoughts, calm my anxiety, settle my plans and still find time to put in at least 100 miles a week???

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's not a utensil buddy...so fork you!

I have a fork! I can't really speak openly about how I got it, but lets just say that two very awesome guys took pity on me and hooked me up in a major way. I was so excited when I was presented w/ said fork that I nearly cried. Seriously. But tough girls don't cry...

I spoke w/ AC's hubby today who is former car painter and he's going to look into paint for me. He seems like a totally nice guy with lots of skill so there is a good possibility that I will find a way to make this fork match my bike - right now - it's red and black and white - it comes from a Scott CR1 - all carbon, including the steerer. Not the lightest fork on the market but MUCH lighter than what I had!

As a side note, I was looking at the photo of the bike on my blog which is a stock photo and not my actual bike (duh!).... I just noticed that the fork on my bike is all black w/ Easton decals. I went to Jamis' site and sure enough...same pic. If you've seen my bike, you know that my bike's fork fades from the "pistachio" (yes, that's what it's called...and yes, I do realize it doesn't look pistachio...) to black. Weird. But at least I have an idea of what the all black fork will look like on my bike...

Anyone know where I can get some good Jamis decals that'll match my bike?

I'm also gearing up for the Claxton century; this will be my first full century and I'm crazy nervous!! A few SCC members have shown interest so I expect to register and start looking into a room sometime over the next week or so...anyone wanna room w/ me?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why do I care??

The novelty of my crash has now worn off and it's time to seriously determine what to do about the damage to my bike. I did a 50+mi ride this weekend and noticed quite a bit of wobbling in the front tire/bars/fork area. Undoubtedly, this is b/c I was riding on a bent fork.

To fork or not to fork? That is the question...

Here are my options:

1) TSD has an AWESOME used fork that is way more than I'd ever buy new and is willing to let it go for a good deal.

2) Ride my bike as is and hope I don't wreck as a result of the wobbling

3) Buy a new fork.


Here are the problems w/ each option:

1) TSD's fork won't look very good on my bike as it's red and black. TSD suggested having DH apply some vinyl of some sort that matches my bike. DH says he probably wouldn't be able to match the "pistacio pearl" and that it'd eventually just come off and need to be redone all over again.

2) Do I really need to explain the problem w/ this one???

3) I can replace the one I have for about $220.00. It has a reputation for being a good stiff fork and while it wouldn't match either - it'd be closer (it's solid black/carbon) than the one TSD is offering - but not nearly as good quality. There are others that I've looked into - the Reynolds Ouzo Pro Carbon looks nice but it runs upwards what the new version of TSD's fork would cost...


So what is the biggest issue - asthetics or finances? Dh would definitely say finances but I lean towards asthetics... I love my bike, I love to ride and I can see keeping it around for a long time. This being said - I don't want to skimp on something so important. I'd rather spend what I want to get what I want and be happy with the purchase I make. Nothing is going to be as pleasing to the eye as the current fork as it's painted to match the frame.
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But I'm not worried about how it looks THAT much....
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(If you thought I was serious...you don't know me well...)


Soooooo.....I stumbled across this.....you know, b/c I was worried about asthetics. Is this amazing or what? Look at the finished product....I wonder if dh could re-paint my whole bike???

Where do you find men who paint bikes for their wives?


Thoughts? Comments? Fork suggestions? Leave a comment...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why, sometimes, 15 mph isn't so bad...

I choose to "group ride" because I love the feeling of 4, 8, 15 or 40 bikes moving together as one vehicle - turning corners, climbing hills, and maintaining a pace as one unit despite the strongest or weakest rider.

Below is a passage that makes a great case for group riding. Sometimes you read something that moves you...this passage reminds me of why I ride, the rider I strive to become and why I choose to ride with those that I do...

From "Tales from the Bike Shop," by Maynard Hershon:

Our Rides

There was a time when our club rides lost cohesion, when they routinely turned into ragged hammer-sessions. No one liked that kind of disorder or benefited from it, not even the guys who regularly dropped the rest of the group.

It seemed that when we had two or three cycling "elder statesmen" in our number the rides stuck together better, out of respect for those guys, I guess. Most people thought those men knew how things should be done, so riders would follow their example. They'd form double pacelines where there was enough shoulder, and single, disciplined lines where there wasn't.

When the respected riders came along, our group started at a gentle warm-up pace, then gradually picked up momentum. Sometimes we'd drop a rider or two on a climb, then pause so the stragglers could catch. When strong but undisciplined young men surged off the front, the group would let them go. Soon those guys learned that peer approval came from a quiet display of pack-riding skills, not head-down, big gear showboating.

During the rides, you could see those group values in action, but it was hard to talk about them off the bike. You'd hear questions like "Isn't the hard solo effort the better workout?" and, "Isn't this ride going the speed of the slowest participant?" and, "Shouldn't I go hard if I'm feeling extra good today?" Questions like those are hard to answer.

A new rider could go to the shop where he traded and get answers to all sorts of cycling questions. He could become technically sophisticated simply by asking questions at the parts counter. He could find out how long the chain should be on a derailleur bicycle, how to wash wool clothing, and how to join a bike club. Someone knowledgeable could tell him about pedal cadence and position on the bike.

He would still not have a clue about negotiating fast downhill corners elbow to elbow in a pack.

At the chaotic time I mentioned, our looked-up-to riders were temporarily absent. One quit riding to work on his new house, and another left to race in the east. Our rides quickly deteriorated. Maybe a guy or two would slip through a light just before it turned red, then look back and see the distance "gained," and decide to try and stay away.

And maybe then a couple of other guys would give chase, and two or three more would take off after them. That would generally be enough to string out the whole group and ruin the ride. The people who hadn't chased or who hadn't even felt warmed up yet got discouraged at the sudden disappearance of their training ride. The escapees rode hard but raggedly and learned nothing. The chasers who caught learned nothing, and the chasers who didn't catch gave up in disgust and oxygen debt.

Numbers at the start of the runs began to dwindle. People started to speak disparagingly of "the ride." Separate smaller groups sprung up, leaving 15 minutes earlier or later, or doing the ride route backwards. I heard the grumbling and saw the rides, which had gone on for years, falling apart.

I caught Bob right after closing at his shop. He nodded his head as I told him about our problems, as if he'd heard stories like them before. He said he'd do what he could.

Next morning Bob turned out in front of the shop for the ride. He counted the guys: only six.

"Six," Bob said. "We start with six; we finish with six."

That ride was a dream. We rode in a double line mostly, at the most even pace you could imagine. Twice, a guy rolled off the back on long uphill grades. Each time, Bob dropped back and towed him up to the group. Clearly, Bob was stronger than anyone else on the ride, but he used his strength to hold the ride together, not tear it apart.

The following day was better yet. One man brought a friend who had decided to give our rides another chance. That made seven. Bob counted but said nothing. The seven of us finished together.

At one point, the friend got dropped badly on a climb. Bob rolled back to him, put a hand on the back of the man's saddle, and pushed him up to the pack. Nobody'd ever helped the guy before. He raved about Bob. He said it was the first time he'd ever finished a training ride with the bunch.

The guy's gratitude and amazement touched me. I thought about how, in team sports, the casual observer gets impressed by the solo "hero" effort. The true aficionado prizes the unselfish labor of the team player, the athlete whose good day brings everyone up.

Sure enough, word got around about our remodeled rides. Numbers rose rapidly as we regained dropouts and added first timers. Bob spent most of his time with the new riders, explaining about smooth lines in corners and warning them about overlapping wheels.

One day a week he led us in pack intervals. Another day we'd sprint for city limit signs, then immediately reform into our accustomed double paceline - elbow to elbow, six-inch gaps, friends.

Bob rode with us until he felt sure the discipline had taken. Normally he preferred to ride after he closed his store in the evening or very early in the morning. When our racer returned from his campaign in the east, he happily dropped right into our training routine. He told us, his second day back, that some of the places where he'd stayed had crummy rides.

"It was every man for himself," he said, "nothing like this."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Story and Booboos

Alright...here's the rash:


The not so bad part...
is my elbow.



The more painful part....
is my left leg.

My hip has a bit of bruising and rash too but it's on a part of my hip that I don't really want to make front page news -if you know what I mean...

So here's the story:
I was having a great night and the guys I was riding with (Mark H, Michael C and Jerry) asked me to pull when we reached chambers and 81. I was glad to do so - I've been riding strong lately and I was feeling confident. We headed up 81 and when we got to New Morn, no traffic was coming head on so I proceeded to turn left. As I was doing so one of the other riders yelled "clear, up" but I thought I heard "car up". For those that don't ride, "car up" typically means there is a car up ahead coming towards you. As I turned, I remember being afraid that a car was coming at me along 81 so I looked to my right to see. The next thing I remember is looking back in front of me and realizing that while I was looking, I turned too wide and the shoulder of the road was quickly approaching. My front tire went of the right shoulder and I reacted by pulling back towards the road. When my tire caught the pavement again, I lost control. I hit the ground and with my left foot still clipped into my pedal, I slid with the bike on top of me. Mark H was behind me and I opened my eyes to see him sail across the top of my body in the air and go head over handlebars into the dirt. His mountain biking skills came in handy - he attempted to bunny hop me but his back wheel landed on my back tire and ran over me. He still swears he isn't hurt but I get the impression he wouldn't tell me even if his skull was broken.

After rushing over to make sure I was okay, the guys poked and prodded and bent my bike back into a "rideable" condition and I decided to finish the ride.


What?! gimme a break.... I was pumped up w/ adrenaline.


There's another side story here...I think I freaked out Mark H's wife - I won't go into detail but let's just say I have diarrhea of the mouth disease and I said something stupid. It happens to us folks who long to be funny but lack that filter that tells us when it is and isn't okay to make comments... She says it's okay but I feel like crap about the whole thing.

I had a good ride although I now know that when wind blows on fresh road rash - it hurts like hell. By the time I got back to the shop, I was shaking like a leaf. As we barreled down Mt. Carmel Rd, A-2 (or whatever the people who fall off the back of A group are called) caught up to us and we finished the ride as one big group. Somewhere near the end I remember hearing someone ask Mark why his jersey was so dirty...I think it may have been Scott because shortly after I pulled to a stop in the parking lot, he pulled up beside me, pulled my arm up to take a look and kind of visually "alerted" everyone to my injuries. Suddenly I had 5 guys and a girl standing around me spraying me down with bactine and rubbing my limbs with alcohol wipes... It was a little overwhelming - I had to focus b/c David H. (OR coordinator at Henry Medical Center) was giving me first aid advice and telling me how to treat my "abrasions" and "contusions"!

I picked up my bike today - when I went down I kind of went handlebars first and then to my side before sliding. Apparently, the impact caused me to bend the fork where my carbon meets the aluminum. I'm glad I don't ride a bike w/ an aluminum fork - if I did I'd need a new one about now. My wheels were bent but are now mostly straight. The fork took a little "rigging" but Mike got it in order until I can decide if I want to purchase a new one.

So that's the story...my pride is hurt as badly as my body. Accidents will happen when riding a bike but it stinks when you cause another rider to go down with you - it really makes you feel like bad.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crash Test Dummy

I'm finishing a beer and two Advil and I'm headed to bed... I had my first crash tonight...

I'm fine and no bones are broken - only my pride. A good amount of road rash, a lot of soreness and stiffness and a bike in need or some repair.

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Burrito, anyone?

I can't wait for Gezzo's to Gezzo's II!! w00t w00t!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What a difference a good day makes...

I showed up for my usual B ride tonight only to find that B group decided to pull out a little early. I'm sure you can only imagine the terrified look on my face when I thought for a minute that I'd have to try to hang on to A group...

BH (my idol)...offered to ride with me. I REALLY wanted to ride w/ her b/c I knew she'd push me. About that time, some guy comes rolling up in a pickup truck in a trek jersey....said he wanted to hang w/ B group. I explained the predicament and we decided to pull out w/ A group, but separate after Mill Rd.

That wasn't hard...I think A group averaged 24 tonight....BH and a few others fell off and still averaged 22!!!

Trek guy - his name is Phil - and I had an awesome ride. Over 26 miles - I led the ride for about 16 of those miles and we still averaged just under 19mph!!!

Oh...and Chambers' Hill...I didn't break any records but I tackled it at 1.5 mph faster than on Monday...

Watch out A group....By spring you'll be on my radar...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

sometimes, I think too much

Every now and again I have a rough day. Sometimes, my rough day is because I am up to my ears in paperwork while other times it's because the dog tipped over the trash can, the dished didn't get finished, the kids are running in circles on the rug that no longer matches the decor of my living room and I have soccer practice in 10 minutes followed by a ride over at AMS. If you've experienced similar senarios (or if you've known me for a reasonable amount of time)...you might have a shot at understanding my rant...

Today I had a rough day. Work wasn't particularly bad, dinner wasn't particularly bad, the kids were good, grandma is back at the nursing home and making a little sense for a change, the size limitations in my email box aren't keeping me from receiving email and BikesnobNYC's latest blog entry actually made sense. All in all, this would typically be a good day. But for some reason, I spent the day meditating on my strengths and weaknesses as a cyclist. Some days, I celebrate my accomplishments while others I snort at the use of the words "cyclist" and "me/I/my" in the same sentence.

Last night I vowed to ride come hell or high water - the weather caused us to turn back early and not finish our full course. So much for high water. I was angry with myself for agreeing to turn back but even more than that, I've been beating myself up over poor performance. See, there's a hill early on in the ride - it isn't a big deal but it kicks my a$$ every week. The Wilson 100's big hill at the end - no big deal. Share the road ride w/ a buzillion miles of vertical ascent...not a problem. Chambers Rd - it makes me want to vomit just thinking about it. I thought to attempt to pull the group up the hill - thinking that no one with less momentum would be standing in my way of conquering the hill. Things started off smoothly and as I grew closer to the top, I almost had a moment of elation. Upon my momentary delusion of grandeur as I neared the top of the hill, my speed began to bottom out, my breathing became heavy and I looked to my left to find that my riding partners began to pass me. I became embarrassed, nervous, frustrated and overly pissy. I don't like to be last on any list - especially not the list of noteworthy climbers.

All of this, and an email I sent to a friend that I probably shouldn't have sent, leads me to the realizing that I've probably earned the typical type "A" personality award. Here's a summary for those of you who failed psych. 101/personality theory...:

"individuals can be described as impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about their status, highly competitive, hostile and aggressive, and incapable of relaxation. They are often high achieving workaholics who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about the smallest of delays. Because of these characteristics, Type A individuals are often described as stress junkies."


Type A symptoms include:
  1. An intrinsic insecurity or insufficient level of self-esteem, which is considered to be the root cause of the syndrome. This is believed to be covert and therefore less observable.
  2. Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation.
  3. Free floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents

I think they left out obsessive... or is that an implied characteristic? Either way, I fit the bill. I obsess, I worry, I'm HIGHLY competitive, I'm often insecure and worry about things that 95 out of a hundred people would never even think of, I'm excessively time conscious and I've been accused a time or two of putting my job before many of my other responsibilities and commitments. Of all of the things I could be worrying about (world peace, anyone?), I'm stuck on the memory of a poorly attacked hill and a lunch conversation turned bad decision.


I think of the folks I ride with, I have a quarter of the miles of 99% of them yet I'm a stronger rider than many (well, perhaps only several...). I'm passionate about riding - I feel free and less stressed when I ride. I come home happy and I wake up refreshed. But still, I'm obsessed with making measurable progress.

What can I do to move myself from medocrity to "cyclist"?
Where do I find others who understand my stress?
How do I find someone strong enough to push me and not feel resentful that I'm holding them back from their personal goals?

How do I let go of my fear?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hello, Lance...


Apparently this photo was published by Vanity fair a while back...don't know what I've been reading but I'm on hold trying to change my magazine subscription as I peck out this post... All I can say is that if my husband wouldn't mind, I'd definitely hang this on the ceiling...

Just a little eye candy for the evening...damn he's hot.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Birthday for the World to Witness

Today is my best friend's birthday. Because I love her dearly, I'll break my own rule about posting off topic and devote a few minutes to her...

Heather is the human equivalent of a box of paper snakes - you know, the kind you see in the movies where people open the top, compressed paper snakes hop out and the recipient first appears terrified but then ends up in a fit of uncontrollable giggles. Think of me as the recipient and Heather as the snakes - only more beautiful. I've had the joy of calling her my best friend for 11 years now and we've undoubtedly built an unbreakable bond. We've experienced laughter, sadness, anger and triumph of spirit together and I can only hope that the past 11 years are the beginning to a lengthy race. With her by my side, I've experienced beautiful scenery and rocky terrain. Most importantly though, I've never been alone and I've always known that there was someone there to share my skeletons, scars, and giggles.

When Heather's birthday approaches each year, I spend countless hours trying to find the best way to let her know how important she is but no home baked giraffe cake, piece of jewelry, expensive dinner, unusual gift, or night of beer seems to convey how special she really is. This year I considered a tattoo to express my heartfelt commitment but after the artist on duty at Sacred Heart couldn't hang up from his personal call long enough to ask if I'd like a tattoo, I decided that the customer service was so bad that I wouldn't give the inking ability a chance. What a let down...but I digress...

Heather, Happy Birthday girl. I love ya more than you'll ever know. When we're 80 years old and your children are only in high school, I'll be there to help you raise them through tongue piercing and teleporters (or whatever is cool in the year 2059). Don't worry though, my great-grandchildren will be close behind and you can help to explain why MCMXCVII is tattooed on my wrist...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Why Cycling is the Best Sport for Women

I completed the Metric Century Option of the Wilson 100 today. What an awesome ride - great SAG support, good food, awesome route w/ low traffic, no dogs and beautiful scenery. This one becomes a fixture on my list!

I must also celebrate a little...if you aren't keeping up, I've ridden 145.85 miles in 6 days!!

Today I planned my first century - November 8th in Claxton if Ann will tag along. I can't wait!

Speaking of Ann, she has become my faithful riding partner and a good friend. We have a blast riding (we're well matched too, I think) and spend quite a bit of time giggling at women who like to "peace out", men who direct traffic backwards, the occasional hogzilla and boys w/ tire tubes on their seat post. After the ride today, we hung out w/ the legendary Brenda H. who is training for the Ironman at the end of October. Not only did she get up and ride the full century this morning, but as Ann and I were on our way in, we passed her going the other way in her running shoes! Yes, folks, she pedaled over 100 miles at a breakneck pace and then decided to change into her tennis shoes for a run! WOW! I'm pretty proud of myself but if I do say so myself, Brenda H - you rock!

While enjoying the after ride lasagna, BH pointed out a fact that I am in total agreement with: Cycling is an awesome sport for women! Not only do women cyclists kick a$$ and leave plenty of men behind to eat our dust, but when we aren't in the lead, those riders in front of us are typically sweaty men w/ well defined muscles and tight buns! Sometimes, we even catch one as he rips off his jersey to ride shirtless. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of average men riding bikes - even fat men... But those few hot ones (lets count ladies...a few are in our own cycling club, no???) make this sport just that much more enjoyable!

Can I getta w00t w00t!?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chaffed and Tired

EDIT: David (dude in the back left of the photo) put this in an online post eariler today: "Here are some stats from my Garmin - Distance 66.07 miles, time 4:11:51, Avg 15.7, Avg for the first 43 miles - 16.5, avg for last 23 miles 14.5, total vertical ascent 4151 feet." David and I rode together almost the entire way!!! :)

I completed my first ever Metric Century today which turned out to be more like 67 miles than 62 - I felt every hill of those last 5 miles! On the way out I felt like I was flying but at the halfway point, I realized that this was an out and back ride and I'd face the business side of those hills on the way back. I'm proud to say that kept a respectable pace and had an absolute blast riding with Ann, David, Michael, and Ken. Here's a picture of what we looked like before we began:



The course itself was quite hilly and at one point, I was convinced I was experiencing the bonk b/c because I looked to my right to see a huge hog on the side of the road. Ann swears it was the size of a volkswagen... As it turns out, since she saw it too, we decided that we weren't experiencing the bonk - just a moment of confusion and bewilderment. It's not everyday you see livestock aside the road off of Riverside Pkwy!

We faced terrible headwind coming back but still finished w/ a respectable average. All in all, I'm proud of myself b/c I saw the benefits of all of the effort I've put into this sport that I really and truly have grown passionate about. I won't say it didn't get hard at the end - it did - but I muscled through and finished the ride.

After getting home I discovered the true meaning of chaffed and I was so physically exhausted that I took a nap until the sunburn and windburn I acquired began to give me chills. After getting some food in me, I started to feel a little better and I've agreed to ride the Wilson 100 metric next weekend. Either I had a good time or I'm once again experiencing "the bonk".

Sunday, August 31, 2008

By this time tomorrow...

...I'll either be dead tired or sittin' on top of the world! Why? Because tomorrow morning I will ride my first metric century (62 miles)!! Thanks to Gustav, I'll likely be riding it in the rain - but even so, I'm very excited! I'll be riding as one of 6 members of the Southern Crescent Cycling team as an effort to support the share the road campaign - and more specifically - new legislation that will require cars to give 3 feet when passing cyclists on the road.

On a totally off topic note - I came in the garage this afternoon to find that we have a new garage pet:




I'm not sure why he chose our garage or why he's trying to ride my daughter's bike but I hope he finds a new home soon.


And lastly - I finally got my hitch and new bike rack installed. All I can say to Saris is: pppssbbbhbhbhbbttttttt!!! Yes, mrs. customer service rep - it DOES fit my car!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Adding to the Wardrobe

Accessories, as most of you know, are a girls best friend...so I couldn't help but ask Dale at Epic to wrap my bars w/ matching cork tape!  Does that look hot or what?





I'm also pretty stoked b/c by the end of next week, I'll have a new bike rack on my car if all goes well.  The manufacturer says it isn't recommended for my vehicle because I have a rear mounted spare tire but I've researched it and I believe there is plenty of clearance.  So if all goes well, I'll have one of these babies to show off soon:






And since we are talking about things I like, I should just go ahead and throw out there that I'm currently coveting this  beautiful piece of technology (you know, in case anyone is feeling generous):



My bike is starting to look better than my closet...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ridiculous Product of the Day and other thoughts...

Ridiculous Product of the Day:

Lifted from BSNYC's quiz results...I couldn't help but post these ...um...beauties.....




yes folks, these are bicycle helmets. I can't decide whether to giggle or vomit. Here's a link if you'd like to look even dumber than the average bike nerd and purchase one of these for your next charity ride...

Speaking of riding...TSD was kind enough to drag my lazy butt along last night...unfortunately he was wearing a helmet cam so there is now footage floating around to prove that I actually ride a bike. I hope TSD kills the sound so no one can hear how much I complained and whined during the ride. Perhaps if he chooses to upload the footage, he'll select a section where I'm managing to look somewhat competent.


So What's New?

I'm "training" for a metric century ride on labor day...and by training I mean that I had Mexican food and beer last night after riding my bike at a miserable 17 mph in the wind. I'm hoping that I can make through all 62 miles in a time frame that doesn't make me ashamed to show my face on the next "B" ride .

I've gone back to work which means I'm apparently grouchy and I spend at least 10 hours a day answering stupid questions and worrying about things that I really have little control over. I have to remind myself constantly that the public education system did not get itself into the shape its in overnight and I'm not going to fix it that quickly either.

I'm considering a visit to a chiropractor or doctor of osteopathy...my neck hurts and it's a bone thing - not a muscle thing. I think...

My mom is having a heart cath tomorrow - which is frightening - hopefully all will turn out well, if they find problems they'll ship her up to Crawford Long for additional procedures.

We have finally resolved our issues with the home owners insurance company and the last of the funds came via mail earlier in the week. This means that the TiVo has been replaced and I'll have to return to regular showings of "Go, Diego, Go!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Road Rage Against A Cyclist

I hope someone puts this guy away for a long time...


Untitled

This entry will remain untitled because I've run through so many good titles in my mind that I just couldn't pick one...here's a few to preface the story I'm about to tell:

Think of it as an "Experiment"
Whatta night
Got Lost
Dear Heather and Thomas, you were right
I hate Hwy. 92
It's the road that never ends (and you have to sing it...)

So to give the full effect, I need to back up to last Monday night. I met Heather and Thomas at AMS to change Heather's tires and ride for a while. After a fell laps I grew bored and suggested we venture out a little. Thomas suggested a side street he knew of past the air field so we headed out that way. We found our way over to Upper Woolsey Rd. It's a horrible road - lots of bumps - but not too much traffic. After a few miles, the daylight was starting to fade so we decided to turn back since we weren't exactly sure where we'd end up. In my mind, we'd loop back around near AMS, even if it was down Tara a bit. I typically have a great sense of direction but the daylight was an issue so I didn't argue. Knowing what I know now, its a good thing...

Friday night Ann C. and I met at the Trek store in McDonough with the intentions of riding to AMS, around the loop until we were tired, and then back to Trek to our cars. When I arrived just before 7:00 p.m., we noticed that traffic was a little heavy on Hwy 20 but decided to go ahead with our ride. From Trek to Hampton at the track is roughly 8 miles away and it was a fairly uneventful ride. We saw baby goats and had a few honkers...that was about it. (On the topic of honkers - have you ever noticed you can tell the difference between the jackass who is honking b/c he's too stupid to know that bikes are road legal and the honking of the guy who thinks its cute to see a woman in spandex? There's also the honker who just says Hi! I think we encountered all three.)

Anyway - we got to the track and I told Ann all about the ride with Heather and Thomas. We decided that we'd try Upper Woolsey again just to see where it goes. Now first off, I told Ann that we encountered very little traffic on Monday night. Shortly after making this statement, a string of at least 8 cars passed by. We continued on, looking at houses and dogs (praying they were tied up or too tired to chase us...). We saw a cute kid on his bike who apparently thought we were cool and waved frantically until we were out of sight. We pedaled along talking about the Divas and the upcoming Wilson 100 when suddenly I noticed a road sign ahead. We had already passed into Clayton Co. which wasn't surprising since the speedway falls along the Clayton/Henry line. But the sign we approached came as a big surprise - "Welcome to Fayette Co."... We giggled a little...realizing that we most likely weren't looping back around to AMS but kept on going. It wasn't long before the road came to dead end. A gas station was on the left - we decided to stop and use the GPS in my phone to get an idea for where we were. The road sign said we were at Hwy. 92 which sounded familiar but wasn't a road I could really place... I tried the GPS to no avail - poor signal. We saw a sign that pointed to the left for Griffin and I-75 and to the right for Atlanta, Fayetteville and I-85. I reasoned that Griffin was towards Tara Blvd so we should go that direction. Ann agreed so we headed on. I need to point out that we held several conversations along the ride and I when I checked the computer, we'd gone around 20 miles w/ an average of 18.2 mph. I was proud that we'd kept such a good pace!

Now, I should take a moment to tell you that the decision to turn left on Hwy. 92 was probably the last good decision we made all night. I think somewhere along Hwy. 92 we became delirious..

Hwy. 92 was pretty, at first. Nice homes, folks having bar-b-ques... There was a nice breeze and we both felt good. We were pedaling along around 20 mph, taking the hills at around 17 or 18 and I was thinking this was one of the best rides I'd ever been on. We passed more roadkill than I care to remember, a sheriff giving a ticket, three guys on 4 wheelers and a couple of dogs that gave chase for a few minutes. I have to admit I was terrified of the dogs.

Hwy. 92 lost it's appeal after about 5 miles. It became a major Hwy with quite a bit of traffic, lots of hills and every time we were sure that if we climbed the next hill there'd be a nice downhill or familiar area on the other side, we were let down and exhilarited at the site of the next big hill... (please read the last line w/ sarcasm...). I began to sing. "yes, it's the road that never ends...it just goes on and on my friend..." I managed to get a laugh out of Ann who joined in for the next line.

To my readers who don't know me well - I should mention that I don't sing well. I sing to the radio but it's not customary that I sing on rides...this should have been the first signal that we were becoming crazy or dehydrated....

A few more hills and we saw a Walmart sign. We were in Griffin and we'd found our way back to Hwy 19 41/ Tara Blvd. We decided to use the crosswalk across Tara Blvd since we had two working blinkies (one white, one red) between us. Ann clipped the red one to her saddle and my white one to my bars and decided that we'd work like one unit so we'd have a white light on front and a red on the back. We crossed Tara and Ann suggested that we take the first left turn to try and run along side of Tara instead of having to ride w/ the traffic on the Hwy. The left turn made me nervous and I was praying that the traffic wanting to make a left in front of us would see us turning and not run us over. I should have prayed for our safety on the next few roads we'd encounter.

Right away I realized that we'd turned into a neighborhood that wasn't safe for to travel. There were three or four cars in front of us so I followed them to the next intersection. As I was getting ready to turn left, I heard a yelp as Ann crashed to the ground. I twisted around to see if she was okay. I yelled back to her and suddenly realized I was coming down too as the twist I made to check on her had pulled me off balance. Ker-splat. In an instant we had gone from determined and finding our way home on a ride gone wrong, to giggling at the site of two women on the ground in Lycra - each w/ a foot still clipped into our pedals so we couldn't figure out how to get up. I became aware of a car approaching the intersection and I managed to get my foot loose and hobble with my bike over to the side. Ann also found her way off the ground and we ended up making a right turn instead of a left just because we were facing in that direction and the other way looked shadier than the place we'd come from.

The next few turns are a blur in my mind but I think we took the next left which ended up being Experiment St. We passed what looked like a school and the Griffin campus of the University of Georgia. Somehow we ended up with Ann leading and I yelled ahead for her to find a well lit parking lot so we could try my GPS again. The roads became bumpier, darker and scarier and when we finally stopped, I knew that we wouldn't be riding back - we needed a SAG, fast.

My GPS said we were 13.5 miles to my old address in Hampton which is located right off of Main St. in the center of town. I knew that the TREK store was roughly 7 or 8 miles from there. It was 9:20 p.m.

As three City of Griffin police officers flew past us at about 100 mph (no kidding!), Ann decided to call a friend who lived close by to pick us up in his truck. When he arrived, he explained that we had made our way to the local drug center of Griffin and there was only about one other area that was worse. The guy was kind enough to drive us back to TREK and show us Jordan hill (a favorite among local cyclists) along the way.

Back at the TREK shop, Ann and I made a pact to ride again - but this time we'd map our route first.

My husband was apparently sleeping or really into the book he was reading because he never called to check on me. Ann's husband was rather irritated with her because he knew we'd been in a dangerous area. Hopefully he'll agree to let her come out and "play" again - I had a blast! I also have a story that I can tell for the rest of my life.

My Jamis is in the shop today; I noticed some hesitation in my shifting along the way.

I can't wait to ride again - bruises and all. I did sustain some injuries as a result of my crash but nothing that'll keep me off of my bike. As I drove home that night I realized that I had just finished a grueling week of work but didn't think about it once on our ride. Instead I was able to rejuvenate my mind by watching the geese that flew over head, by mooing at the cows on the side of the road and by using my mind and legs in unison to propel me into my ride and away from my stress.

There is nothing more exhilarating than a bike ride. Even if you get lost.

I tried to recap our route on a map and while I couldn't create anything pretty to post - I did figure out that if we'd have gone left on Wildwood Rd from Upper Woolsey (a turn I distinctly remember), we could have turned left on Lower Woolsey and looped back around to the speedway. Maybe next time we'll try that and leave Hwy.92 and the city of Griffin for other cyclists who need a story to tell their grandchildren.