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


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 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 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 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.


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


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.


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 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?