Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sh*t Happens

Two horrible things happened to me recently.

The first incident happened about a month ago. Aaron and I were finishing a training ride on a gorgeous day in June. We were riding through the CC campus looking at the hipsters riding their fixed gear bikes on the sidewalk, and the trees and whatever else there is to look at at CC. Then, disaster struck. Something almost as bad as an atomic bomb fell from the sky. It was bird poop and it landed on my leg.

When I realized that poop was on my leg, I could feel my heart rate and blood pressure increase almost instantly. In the span of 1.2 seconds the following thoughts ran through my head: “I’m going to die, a bird pooped on me. A BIRD!” “I can’t rinse it off with my water bottle, it will spread and get on the rest of my leg.” “Surely God is on vacation because something this horrible couldn’t happen on his watch.” and finally “I need leaves!” I acted on the last thought and before I knew it, I’d slammed on my breaks and turned hard across the road to get to the median, amazingly missing all the cars driving down Cascade. I leapt off my bike and grabbed a handful of leaves to get the filth off my leg. I can only imagine the horror (Or possibly amusement) of the onlookers as I was screaming and nearing a panic attack with every passing second. All in all, the bird poop was only on my leg for 30 seconds, but it felt like eternity.

The second horrible thing happened yesterday. On the way back from the Raven’s Nest, disaster struck again. This time, the attack came in the form of a mine. Someone didn’t pick up after their dog when it had left a steamer right on the sidewalk. Yes, I could’ve been paying closer attention, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is I came close to death. Again.

I felt something on the bottom of my shoe, looked at it and got weak in the knees. I began furiously scraping it off my shoe. There was a small stone wall and a patch of grass nearby that I was able to use for the majority of the cleaning. The cup of water I brought with me for the trek was also of use to get the remaining filth off my favorite shoes. My teammates were of no help, and found my reaction highly amusing. In the middle of this near anxiety attack, a garbage truck pulled up next to me. The man standing on the back looked over at me and said “Hmm, sh*t happens!” and they drove off. No love, none!

Of course, I was wearing my favorite shoes at the time, and now they’re ruined. After a recovery ice cream cone downtown and a pair of replacement shoes, I was doing much better. I’m not one to look for sympathy, but come on- two near death experiences in a month! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lake Geneva Crit, SuperWeek

I'm not a crit racer. I come to SuperWeek because it's a weakness I'm trying to improve, and to gain some fitness by racing everyday. It seems this plan is the opposite of the other girls in my field. They're all crit racers and they're here because they've got crazy jumps, and are wily in a field sprint. Well, that's not me... at all. My training is pretty specific to the time trial, and SuperWeek is a bonus.

Finally after four days of trying unsuccessfully to win a race, and one day of what appeared to be a protest that I missed the memo about, it happened. The Lake Geneva crit is definitely one you should check out next year. It was a two corner course (the other two were cut off so they were just sweepers) and had the topography of a Pringle. The "climb" through the start/finish looked like more than it was, and the headwind on the back side was more of a factor than that "climb" was. 

Women's racing is too nice. Nobody wants to hurt themselves or other people, they just roll around and exchange cookie recipes most of the time. Nobody ever wants to sack up and take a pull because they'll get tired, or it's too hot, or they have a hangnail, I don't know. If you figure out why they do that, please let me know because I've been wondering for a long time. When I show up to a race, I want to finish with my tongue tangled in the spokes of my front wheel knowing I had some guts and did everything I could do. This usually means getting in a break, or off the front. After being off the front for half the race on Saturday, I've been marked like a bingo card.

The course in Lake Geneva suited my strengths pretty well, and the conditions played in my  favor too- warm and windy. After the atrocity of a "race" on Tuesday, someone put up $100 cash for the first person to lap the field in an effort to get the girls racing. I took my turns at the front, tried to go solo, tried to go with a few potential breaks only to be brought back. I even picked up some points towards the sprint jersey just for kicks. The winning move finally went with 12 laps to go (out of 50). A girl went early for the final sprint points at 10 to go. She got a pretty good gap quickly, but nobody wanted to step up and chase or go with, they were just going to let her go. I decided it was time to go, and accelerated hard in the saddle and was away. I was able to bridge to the girl quickly. She was struggling a bit and told her to just sit on and recover for a bit. I thought I could stay away solo for 12 laps, but just incase, I wanted to have another person with to share some of the work with. She was interested in the sprint points, I didn't care. I told her she could take them all while I worked to establish the gap. After the sprint points, she was gassed and I went on alone. Time to tape the flashlight to my hand and keep running into the pain cave. 9.5 laps to go. My coach was on the sidelines giving me splits each lap- 15 seconds, 20, 30, 35, 40, 50, 55, 1min, over a minute. On the last lap I could see the field going into turn three while I was on the straight away. I wanted to lap the field but couldn't quite do it- I needed one or two more laps. Now that I've had some time to decompress and reflect a bit, I'm still happy with the win, but angry I didn't catch the field.

It was great to finally get a win this week, and a win in an able bodied race is always really satisfying. A big thanks is in order to all of you for the support you give me and putting up with my race reports. Race with some guts people!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Coming Up

Since I only update this thing once a month now, I figure I can give you a heads up on what I won't be writing about any time soon.

ICC SuperWeek 7/7-16. Matt and I are leaving on Wednesday for the drive to Chicago for a week of crit racing. We race the 10-15 in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas. Last year it was an amazing trip, and I'm certain this year will be just as good. We'll have a few other para athletes joining us once we're in Chicago, so it'll be a little race trip for a group of us.

Track Camp 7/16-26. Road nationals are over and done with so now it's time to shift focus to the track. We have prep camp here in the Springs, followed immediately by track nationals. Nationals will serve as the selection event for the World Championships to be held sometime later this year (It's still undecided at this point).

Road Worlds 8/13-23. Team USA will be heading up to America's Attic (Canada) in August to collect a bunch of medals. While there we'll time trial and road race. The town is Baie- Comeau, Quebec, Canada. Google it. It's tiny and way out there, but the photos I've seen are pretty and it's right on the water which I like.

Road Team Announced

Your 2010 Road World Championship team

Friday, July 2, 2010

2010 Road Nationals

Gypsy summer is officially under way! Last week was USA Cycling’s Road National Championships in Bend, Oregon. As is my style, my car was the chosen transportation method. This year, it was only an 18 hour drive instead of the 36 from Milwaukee last year. Taj and I loaded the car with six bikes, 16 wheels, three sets of rollers, duffel bags, helmets, a cooler and of course my iPod and hit the road.


We arrived in Bend without incident, other than having to drive through the rest of Oregon, and moved into our rental house for the week. What’s better than 13 people and a baby staying in one house for a week? Throw in the fact that we were all competing against each other for spots on the Worlds team, and you’re getting close. Let me tell you, it wasn’t Sea World, that’s as real as it gets. For sanity, the deck was the “Mellow Zone” and was always in use. We should really have a reality show, the world would love it.

Since everyone in the house was a cyclist (the baby isn’t one yet) it meant lots of bikes. 24 bikes plus about 50 wheels and other miscellaneous equipment meant the dining room was converted to a crowded bike storage room with more bikes lining the front hallway and stacks of wheels against the couches and tables. For anyone other than a cyclist, I’m sure it seemed excessive, but was totally ordinary for us. Wait, you don’t have bikes in your living room? Huh, weird.

Racing started on Tuesday with a road race, a crit on Wednesday and the big show on Thursday. The time trial served as the selection event for World Championships, and the road race and crit were for bragging rights. The time trial course was simple: go out on a road and start climbing, then turn around in the road and come back downhill.

Race day itself was a relief. All the training was done, and it was time to just go ride. During warm up, I nearly fell off the rollers because I was dancing to my love, Lady GaGa. After avoiding near calamity, I finished my dance party in the grass and was ready to rock on the bike. I was the last single bike off for the girls and in my mind, meant I was responsible for catching all the girls in front of me. I almost met this goal, only missing the women’s tandem who I could see the entire second half of the course. It was extremely frustrating to have that carrot out there and not be able to catch it. Next year. The race was over and I was dry heaving in the grass before I knew it. Our coach calls that “An appropriate measure of an adequate effort.” It was a relief to finish the TT and be back at our base camp. The second half of the road season hinges on the time trial at Nationals and to be done with it is always satisfying. The athlete’s part is done, the rest is up to the staff in calculating times and placing. My dance party was enough to help me rock through the race, and ended up, finally on the top step of the podium. The joke of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride could finally stop. It took a long time, but the monkey is off my back.

Everyone rode extremely well in Bend. The strength of this year’s World Championship team will be hard to stop. It’s an honor to be part of such a strong team, and I’m looking forward to seeing more results for the team in the coming months. Before heading to America’s attic (aka Canada, you don’t know what great things are up there till you go) in August, the gypsy wagon will be rolling to the heartland for 10 more days of racing. While I didn’t contemplate washing my hair in a deli sink this trip, more adventures are in store for Gypsy Summer II. 

With Clark and Dave