Monday, January 24, 2011

Track camp #2

All our bikes waiting to go fast.

Track camp number two is done and done! Camp was both frustrating and satisfying. Going in I wasn't 100% and was still recovering from The Pnu. It completely kicked my butt, and I was laid up for the entire time between camps. So, going in I was tired but on my way to recovery. Before training started, Craig and I decided it would be best to ease my way back into the training and take camp session by session.

At first I was frustrated that I wasn't making times and was struggling to finish the efforts. I am my harshest critic, and something like walking pneumonia wasn't a valid excuse for not making times. As camp progressed though, I was able to look at the entire situation and not beat myself up for not being able to breathe during efforts. Each day I recovered from being sick and was able to do more of the training exercises with the rest of the team.

Sunrise from the velodrome

By the end of the camp I was able to look back at the weekend and feel satisfied with the work I'd done. Going in less than 100% and still putting in the work during training was a good mental boost for me. Laying on the couch all week was tough and I couldn't help but worry about how being sick now would impact my training and the rest of the season. Completing the camp was definitely helpful in eliminating those worries, and I think I'll be just fine this season.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Sorry for the delayed post, I forgot what day it was.

With so much travel in my schedule, a lot of people ask me about packing. How to pack bikes, cars and duffel bags all seem to be of interest. It's actually fairly simple and when you do it often you develop a pretty specific procedure for it all. My secret? Organizer bags. They help keep your bag tidy and are great when you're looking for something in a rush. Just pull out the bag full of socks and you're good to go rather than digging through a mess of t-shirts, shoes and pajamas. I use six organizer bags to keep everything organized- one for socks, underwear, sports bras, real clothes, kits and ride food. An extra pair of cycling shoes and casual shoes, toiletries, massage stick, bowl, cup and cutlery also go in my duffel. I like traveling with as little as possible, so I often bring a clothes line and some laundry detergent so I can just do sink laundry and pack less clothes.

This is everything I travel with.

I also carry a few items in my back pack. My laptop, iPod and Kindle are the three items I never travel without. I also pack my helmet, riding arm, cycling shoes and pedals in my carry on- taking shoes and pedals allow you to ride any bike if yours doesn't make it for some reason. It's that easy! Packing the duffel takes about 20 minutes- when I don't have to do laundry of course- and I'm ready to hit the road.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


My Baldie had a white and red outfit

When I was a kid I only gave my toys and pets practical names. My first goldfish was named Gold (not even Goldie, just Gold), my brown teddy bear was Brownie and my bald Cabbage Patch doll- You guessed it, Baldie. I distinctly remember sitting in the kitchen, holding the doll and thinking about a proper name for it. After a few moments of thought, I triumphantly declared "Baldie" was it. My mother was unimpressed. Why the designers at Cabbage Patch thought it'd be a good idea to make a bald headed doll for kids to play with is beyond me because I'm probably the only kid that loved it. I didn't have any friends with a bald doll but Baldie and I were tight.

Baldie was a boy- why would I want to hang out with a girl? they're so dramatic- and I'd like to think we had a fair bit in common. As a kid, I looked pretty sickly and people often asked if I was albino. When told I wasn't afflicted with albinism or a victim of leukemia- often their second question- people gave a quizzical look but generally accepted it and moved on. Because of this, maybe subconsciously, we were pretty close friends because he too looked as though he was going through chemo.

In addition to a vaguely sickly look, we had similar belly buttons. I've never liked mine and always called it an in-betweenie because it wasn't nice and finished like my friends' innies, but- thankfully- wasn't an outie like my dad's. It looks like an outie, but doesn't stick out past my belly. (If it did, I would have surgery to fix it.) Although Baldie's belly button was an outie they were similar enough to me to bond over.

I also remember licking his head because the plastic tasted good. None of my human friends had heads that I would lick. I was a weird kid.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm still sick with a bit of the pnu. I seem to have grossly underestimated its power. Today was the first time back on the bike for a real ride, outside, and not recovery. After riding 90 minutes, I laid on the floor of my bedroom like I'd just finished a 4.5 hour hammer fest. It's funny because I'll feel fine, and like I'm making quite a bit of process in terms of recovery, then out of nowhere, it's like a wave of exhaustion that crashes down on me. Sleep still comes in 11-12 hour doses at night, usually with several naps during the day. In a way it's nice to sleep a lot, but at the same time the indolence is frustrating. I like being active, I like riding my bike, I like visiting with friends and now all I do is ay on the couch and nap. Oh well. I guess it's better than... I don't know. It needs to be done so I'm not an invalid forever.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sorry for the short posts this week. I've been laying on the couch sleeping most of the week trying to get over a nasty cough/cold that I brought back from LA.

My tip for this Friday is to go see a doctor when you're sick! Don't wait until you cough your lung up to realize that something is amiss. The doctor told me that I may have a bit of walking pneumonia and started me on medicine to clear my lungs out. I've been assured that I should be good-to-go for the start of camp on Wednesday which is good.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The cough/cold I brought back from LA is kicking my butt. My plan is to sleep it out. 12 hours last night, and an all day nap today seem to be helping. If I'm asleep, I'm not sick right? Just sleeping?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Track Camp #1

The team returned from our first track camp of 2011 last night. Four days and seven track sessions proved to be an ass kicking for all of us. That's how you know it was a good camp! As it was the first full-on camp of the year, we spent some time getting reacquainted with the track before hitting the training hard. The reacquaintance period consisted of the five minutes before the warm up, then we got right down to it. It was great being on the track again with teammates. Training with teammates encouraging each other and suffering along side you makes the sessions easier, and more enjoyable.

In addition to returning home feeling like I got beat up in a fight, I brought back a cough that sounds somewhat like the croup. The cure? Robitussin. Chris Rock says that Robitussin is the cure for everything. Well, I can't say I'm a fan of the 'tussin, but it does seem to work.

A bit of recovery is on tap for this week, then back to the track for camp #2 next week!

Friday, January 7, 2011

People are jackhammering outside the hotel. Unfortunately, it's not conducive to napping.

Outside of that, camp is going pretty well. We've finished three sessions, and have four more to go before heading home on Sunday. Not much to report on as far as that. Camp is camp which means lots of time training, and lots of time spent recovering to do it again in a few hours. 

Still jackhammering.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

From the Old Country

My father’s family came to America on a boat from the “old country.” When I was young, I dismissed it and went on with my life, not thinking it was interesting or of any importance. I thought they were a bit odd- as a result of coming from the old country- but grew accustomed to having a three-foot, hard salami in the refrigerator and eating bread that could double as roofing shingles. Now, I’m reevaluating my thoughts. While I was back in Chicago for the holidays the Neimanai got together for our annual New Year’s lunch- it was not actually on New Year’s this year. On the drive out, Nadia and I were talking about how difficult it must’ve been coming over here. I had a very basic knowledge of why they came to America, but the real reasons are far more interesting.

The family is from Lithuania and came to America when my dad was 10. My grandfather was educated in Moscow- he could speak half a dozen languages- and was known for being very forthright. He spoke out against communism and fought in the Russian Revolution. He was imprisoned for some time in a Russian work camp but escaped. In the dead of winter after getting frostbite on his feet, he was placed in the infirmary, and then, somehow, managed to escape the camp. After getting out, he walked back to Lithuania with only the clothes on his back.

In the old country, my grandfather was the head of the Lithuanian Evangelical Reformed Church where he was essentially a mini Pope. In addition to that, he worked on an estate as the stable/transportation manager. He met my grandmother there where she worked as the manager of the estate. They had four kids, my dad being the youngest.

Somewhere around here, WWII broke out.

Despite being vehemently against communism, he was hunted by the Nazis because they feared he would spread communism. Presumably, because of his education, outspokenness and ability to reach the masses from his position in the church, he wound up on the Nazis hot list. He and his family were pursued throughout Europe where they were forced to jump from country to country, evading detection. They bartered their way around Europe trying to ensure safe passage for the entire family. Eventually, their only option was to leave the continent and move to America.

After coming across on the boat- this isn’t hyperbole, they actually crossed the Atlantic on a boat- they reached New York. Rather than anything going smoothly or according to plan, they arrived and learned that their sponsor could no longer serve as their sponsor. They were stuck in New York until someone would vouch for them. After several weeks (?) they found a family and began their travel to the Midwest.

Finally free from the Nazis, they began a new life. Unlike in Europe where they had prestigious jobs, they took the only jobs they could get. None of them spoke English, so my grandfather took a job as a janitor and my grandmother worked in a sausage factory. The oldest daughter, Rita, worked in a shoe factory. The oldest son, Stasys, joined the army and worked as a translator- he was actually sent back to Europe to work for a while. The youngest daughter, Eve, was still in school, in high school or college. My dad, John, was in elementary school at the time and had a rough go of it. He was thrown into class with the other kids and had to learn to swim quickly. He didn't speak any English or know the customs and as a result, got bullied a lot. He wound up in trouble a lot, partly because of the cultural differences, and partly because he was on his own. With the rest of his family working all the time, he was left to his own devices.

After two or so years of constantly getting into trouble, my dad was sent to a mink ranch. Because he was always in trouble, and the family couldn’t adequately look after him, they sent him to work on a ranch in Wisconsin. The ensuing two years of his life provided many stories he told us whenever we were out of line. Based on his stories, the mink raised on the ranch were all killed and turned into fur coats. Detailed descriptions of falling into enormous containers of mink intestines, and the proper way to kill the mink were stories we heard growing up.

This is about where our discussions ended, and I don’t know what exactly happened next. My dad learned English, left the mink ranch, finished school, became an artist/teacher, met my mother and then I entered the picture. I do know that life before and after coming to America was anything but easy. It’s all tremendously interesting to me, but I can’t ask him. I want to know what it was like being in this new country and the hardships it entailed. I’m certain it was terrifying being a little kid and being chased around Europe. Did he have toys that he carried with him, or games he used to play? I know he was close to their nanny and once heard a story about her saving his life. For his first birthday or Christmas in the U.S. he got a pineapple. His life was very different and it’s almost hard to imagine. What I imagine is mostly concocted from my movie-based knowledge of Nazis, a Google search of “mink” and the few stories he told us.

Now that I’m old enough to appreciate it, it’s too late for me to ask him. Rather than asking questions at the Neimanai gathering- I was too scared to ask in front of other people.- I kept quiet and mulled over what it must’ve been like. After returning home, I realized how dumb that decision was- I should have heeded my own advice and sacked up and asked the questions! Learning more about his life should help me understand more about him as a person and hopefully give insight into some of his decisions. It would be nice to know more about him than his love of shingle bread and salami.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Yesterday consisted of a cross-country drive from Chicago back to the Springs. It's about 1100 miles point to point and is, obviously, a very long drive. Between that and being cooped up inside on the rollers for almost two weeks I was itching to get outside. With temperatures in the teens almost the whole I was in Chicago, I was dreaming of some warm weather too. Today, the Universe answered- it was 45° and sunny for my ride! Some of the roads still had snow and slush on them, but I didn't even care, I needed to get outside. It was one of the best 60 minute recovery rides in a long time. The bright blue sky, shining sun, and mountains were a terrific welcome home.

Wednesday is the start of track camp in Carson, CA.