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.
But I'm not worried about how it looks THAT much....

(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".