Monday, May 6, 2013

Fun Run Report, is that a thing?

There's an antique shop in Essex that I ride by almost ever day.  Or, I did, when I was riding every day.  Until my running distances go up a bit I won't be going by it as often.  At any rate, they spell messages in the windows with big letters.  Sometimes it's something silly and religious about Jesus or something, or sometimes it's something overtly patriotic, which I can also do without.  But often it's something cute and seasonal, or with a fun pop culture reference.  It can only fit two shorter words, though, so it's like, Spring Sprung, or Let It Snow.  When the Hunger Games movie was coming out you could tell they were a fan and they wrote Odds Favor, which I thought was really cool because I was pretty psyched to see that movie.  Anyway, the other day it said Clam Run, because the Happy as a Clam 5K was on Friday.  That's a good segue, right?

So, I'm not a very good runner.  I'm not sure what it is, but whenever I see myself running I'm reminded of this:
For reals.  It's that bad.  But I'm trying to go faster, even though I look just as uncoordinated going (moderately) fast as slow.  My last 5K I set a new PR of 22:33, which is something like a 7:15 minute/mile average, and I was hoping to do 22 even this time around.  This run is a little hillier, though, so I didn't do nearly so well.  I also think I ate too much throughout the day (the race was at 6 PM) and, even though I stopped eating 3 hours prior to running, my gut started to revolt in the last mile, slowing me down by quite a bit.  My first mile was 7:05 and third was 7:49.  I finished with a time of 23 even.  Way slow.  But I finished 2nd overall for the ladies, won my age group, and was 14th out of 100+ overall.  So that was cool, and it felt fun to be near the front of a race like that.  Hello, Competitiveness.  Anyway, I know it's not the best idea, as my marathon training plan begins this week, but I'm going to go do a 5 mile race this Friday and try to fix my digestive mistakes.  

Isn't it sort of funny that my very fastest mile isn't even close to an elite women marathoners slowest mile out of 26?   Funny?  Haha?

Anyway, I reached a great place on Friday with the running, though.  See, maybe it's just me, but whenever I've been out of bike racing for a bit and I jump back in my predominant thought for the duration of the race is, "WHY?!"  As in, why did I pay money to feel this bad for this long?  That's how I felt during my first 5K this year, but at the Clam I was feeling at peace with the suffering and was able to focus on how damn fun it is to race and go fast (relatively, of course).  So, cool.  
In other news!  More boat repairs took place over the weekend, although no sailing did.  Centerboard compartment has been resealed (although we're looking for a more long term solution to a sort of silly design), all hatch covers on the amas (floats) have been replaced with new ones, so feel free to step on them as much as you like.  The last thing we need to fix (until the next thing comes along) is the trampoline, but we assessed the situation and have come up with a plan, it'll just have to wait until next weekend for the execution.  

And last but not least, see how, when the tide is out, the boat sits on the vata (main hull) and the down wind ama?   I was really concerned that when we climbed out on the top ama to fix the hatch we'd teeter-totter the boat over onto it and potentially do something really damaging to it.  Cody didn't think our weight would be significant enough to rock it over.  Turns out, we both need to go on diets because our weight was more than significant enough to rock it over.  The good news?  The boat didn't really seem to mind.  Can you picture us sitting out there in the mud with 6 clammers digging within 100 feet of us?  The boat starts to tip towards our side and we start running for the other side, but to no avail?  Hilarious.

Monday, April 29, 2013


I've been telling this to anyone who will listen (and many who won't) but B.O.A.T. is an acronym for Bring On Another Thousand.  Right.

At any rate, Tri-oomph has been, well, maybe not exactly tri-oomph-ant (sorry, sorry) thus far.  She's an old boat, things have to be replaced and maintained.  We've been trying to get out for a good sail for the past three weekends, but haven't been quite able to get everything to come together for us.

Weekend 1

We had a "Get Our Boat in the Water" party (with fun party themes like that it's a wonder we're not the most popular kids on the North Shore).  A couple friends came over to help us put some finishing touches on some pre-sail repairs, then we trailered it over to Conomo Point to step the mast and launch her.  Stepping the mast was much easier than we'd anticipated, and once in the water the floats folded right out and we were, well, floating!  The motor had been sitting a while and Cody mangled his elbow on the boom while wrestling with the cord, but eventually it started up and we motored back to the house to pick up our friends who were bringing the trailer back.  We picked up two more who had missed out on the repairs but were ready for the party.  Full house!  But with the trampolines we can easily accommodate all 8 bodies, especially if you leave the jib off so there's plenty of seating up front.  We celebrated with a spray of champagne and cigars, as is befitting a boat of such dignity.  It turned out not to be the best day for sailing, as it was cold, and there was little wind and lots of chop.  We mostly motored, but hey!  We were out on the boat.  We missed the tide to get in and I owe a lot of thanks to my brave friends who jumped into the freezing, thigh-deep water to push us off that sand bar!  Anyway, rock'n'roll, the boat was launched!

The next day we wanted to get out, just me and Cody, and have our first good sail together on our new toy.  Unfortunately, due to rot (and perhaps exacerbated by user-error) we snapped our tiller in half 3 minutes out.  Shit.  B.O.A.T.

Weekend 2

As it turned out, we spent next to nothing on Tiller 2.0, thanks to a generous donation of marine plywood and our existing supply of epoxy (remind me to tell you about Adventures in Epoxy Mixing Ratios!).  We fashioned a tiller in the design of the original and, to be safe, sunk a number of screws down the length of it for good measure.  I had to work Saturday so we headed out Sunday morning to spend the day on the water.  You can guess what happened.  5 minutes out this time, Tiller 2.0 snapped in the same spot.  Shit.  Good thing we have a reliable 8 horse motor or it would have been a long paddle home.  Cody, understandably frustrated at this point, said, "F#$% it, we're spending the day on the water."  We anchored off of Hog Island and hung out on our boat for a few hours.  We finished wiring the solar panel, made grilled cheese on our propane stove, played a game of backgammon on the magnetic board Cody's mom had given him, and smoked our last cigar.  Finally we decided we should go home and get to work on Tiller 3.0.  Unfortunately at that point we'd lost our tide and had to anchor at Conomo Point and walk home.  40 minutes later...

We'd learned our lesson (probably not) and decided to beef up the design of the tiller.  Double layer marine plywood, extra long and thick shims, and a different kind of glue.  Tiller 3.0 was not going to break.

Weekend 3

Cody's brother, sister-in-law, and their kids came up to visit for the weekend.  The temperature was finally starting to come up to the point where long underwear and down jackets wouldn't be necessary on the water.  We headed out with our friend Aaron, Cody's brother and his little boy (safely life-jacketed, of course).  We had a lovely sail around the bay  for an hour and made it home while the tide was high (minus the broken hatch cover on one of the floats, but that's an easy fix).  Tiller 3.0 held!  Hallelujah!

The boys drank some beers on the boat under the spreader-party-light  that night.  In the morning Cody told me that, despite our warnings to guests to not step on the edges of the trampolines, where they're weakest, mistakes had been made, yada yada yada, one edge of the tramp had been pulled out of the boat, leaving a big hole in the plywood and fiberglass where the screw had ripped out and bending the metal track it fastens to.  B.O.A.T.  Seriously, though, that one sucks, and is not going to be an easy fix.  New rule of sailing on Tri-oomph!  No stepping on the trampolines!  Sitting, laying, or crawling are totally fine, but no more stepping down off the boat onto them.

Not to be dissuaded, Cody and I decided we were finally going to get out on the water, just the two of us.  We'd already gotten all of our boat bad luck out of the way for the weekend, right?  No more broken stuff (haha, right...).

And we had an amazing sail!  The tiller worked beautifully.  We sailed north and came up level with Halibut Point before turning around so we wouldn't miss the tide on the way in.  It was rad!  Our knotometer fixed itself (the little turbine that measures speed in the water had been seized, and it came free without any intervention) and we hit 12 knots!  The fastest the previous owner had gotten it was 14.  Cody was steering and I climbed out on the floats and leaned out to help flatten us out.  At one point we had the up wind float close to 4 feet out of the water!  Sort of scary getting out there, but that's what makes it so fun.

The only thing that "broke" didn't really break, but it's sort of a really big deal.  We have an off-set centerboard that pulls up into the hull, and the compartment that it sits in has a strip of plexiglass across the top so you can see what's going on with the lines.  We've got water coming in around the plexi into the cabin of the boat.  Ruh roh.  We'll need to pull it off (hopefully the epoxy doesn't rip the wood apart) and reseal it.

Okay, hatch cover, fix trampoline, stop leaking out of centerboard compartment.  Anything else?  Undoubtedly.

We're extra excited to save money, quit our jobs, and sail to the caribbean after yesterday.  Who wants to cat-sit for me?!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Aftermath

From the outside I'm sure it looks like no big deal.  And really, as far as life's decisions go, it isn't a big deal.  But in my head the decision to stop racing bikes, and share that with my friends and family, felt like a Big Fucking Deal.

I've come to look at it the way one might approach a coming out of another sort.  For months I told myself that I didn't really want to stop racing bikes, I just needed to keep riding and doing my training and I would come to love it again.  At a certain point, after yet another unsatisfying training ride that left me not energized but sort of sad, I had to admit to myself that, yes, I'm  ready to stop racing bikes.  Then I started agonizing about telling my friends, team, coworkers - how would they react to the news that I wasn't a bike racer anymore?  Would they reject me?  Judge me?  How would I even tell them?  And in the end, being surrounded by all these amazing people, all those important people in my life accepted my decision and loved me just the same.  I should have known that it would be so; how could I have doubted it for an instant?  And I felt gratitude and relief and happiness - all indicators that I had made the right decision.

Sure, I can always change my mind, but right now I have no desire to race bikes at all.

No, instead I think I'll go run a marathon.

I've come to realize in the last couple weeks that the world is divided between those people who think it would be fun to run 26 miles and those who don't.  It's not a judgement thing - there are saints and assholes on either side of that line.  We all have our strengths, and wanting to enter races where I'll most assuredly cry with relief when it's over is one of mine.  Don't get me started on my weaknesses - we rearranged our house to accommodate (turns out spelling accommodate is a serious weakness of mine) a pull-up bar 2 months ago and I have yet to so much as try to do a pull up.  The very idea of finishing some sort of graduate degree makes me feel overwhelmed enough to curl up in a little ball in the corner for the rest of the day.  No, my strength is definitely in thinking things that physically uncomfortable are actually quite enjoyable (except the dentist.  Never the dentist).

So I've got a training plan to try to execute a sort-of not-hella-slow marathon in October.  I'm really excited about it.  I'm sure that in the last several miles (if not the first, oh, I dunno, 26) I'll deeply regret this decision, and I'm equally sure that I'll weep with relief when it's over.  I find this exciting.

But in the meantime, here's some pictures of random stuff.

 This is our boat!  Tri-oomph.   We haven't gotten it (her?) down here yet, but when we do, ooooh boy is it going to be fun.

This is our duck.  Taking a bath.

And this is me and Cody at Niagara Falls on the way up to look at the boat, looking oh so photogenic.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Farewell

I've been racing bikes for 8 years, with varying levels of commitment and success.  My first race was the Cool MTB race in Northern California, and from that point on my life has centered around the sport of cycling.  It's brought many of my favorite people into my life (including Cody), strengthened relationships, and given me strength, confidence, and a sense of purpose.  It's made me who I am today, in many ways.  I've sacrificed a lot for bike racing - money, time, and experiences with friends and family.

I'm ready to move on to the next adventure.

I've been thinking about this for some time.  During our Christmas vacation I was convinced of it, but I had so much fun at nationals that I decided I needed one more season of cyclocross.  The last month has shown me that, no matter how much fun I think it would be to race in the fall, I don't have the drive I once had to put in the necessary work now.  Normally I feel excited when I think if my next opportunity to race, but now my mind just wanders to the other things I want to do instead.

I want to sail, I want to run, I want to practice yoga, I want to travel, I want to be a recreational cyclist, I want to go to school and get a job that means something to me.  I want to take vacations and not worry about getting in my workouts.  I want to not always be bike-poor.  I want to get rid of my power-meter and HR monitor and just ride when I when I want to ride (which is often), easy or hard, and feel good about it.  I want to be strong and fit and balanced, even if it means I'm no longer as fast on the bike.

It's sort of terrifying to step away from it (of course I could always come back) because it's defined me, at least in my own mind, for so long.  How will I be defined now?  Of course the answer is that we aren't defined by our hobbies, by what we do, but rather by how we do it, how we conduct ourselves.

Thanks, Bike Racing, for everything.  I hope we can still be friends.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Off Season

The best part of having cyclocross nationals in January is coming out of the tunnel at the end of the season and realizing winter is half over and I have the next two to three weeks off the bike.  Those weeks happily fall during the coldest part of the year, which means not really caring one bit if it drops down to 5 degrees.

When I lived in Reno and my focus was road racing I would be deep into training at this point and fretting about trainer rides vs. getting cold and potentially sick.  Those of us with day jobs, or limited income, or dogs (or all three!), can't jet off to Arizona to put in the miles and work on our tans.  But regardless of whether your off season falls in October or January, it's a fantastic opportunity to recharge the batteries and refocus for the coming year.  

It's also a fantastic time of year for guilt-free Ben and Jerry's consumption.

Without a doubt, the best part about of the off season is the carefree approach to activity that it affords.  Whether it's running, easy rides, cross country skiing, yoga, or just going for a walk, it can all be approached with a sense of leisure that is impossible when we're training.  I love the focus and intensity of structured training - if I didn't love it I almost certainly wouldn't return to it year after year.

But the off-season harkens back to a time before bike racing was the point around which life revolves.  For me that time encompasses the two years of cycling I did prior to that first pivotal MTB race.  Memories of many of my rides from those years remain the most vivid, even after seven intervening years of riding and racing.  They were rides where every mile was an accomplishment, every descent joyful, and every gluttonous post-ride meal deservedly devoured without guilt.  I clearly remember my first mountain bike ride with my dad up Keystone Canyon in Reno (sans helmet, no less), and the first century I completed.  Every ride was done at whatever pace felt best, with no regard for training or recovery.

I remember these rides with the nostalgic wistfulness that we view so many experiences of our youth - with a bittersweet knowledge that we can never return to that place of innocent pleasure.  If I quit racing bikes tomorrow my recreational rides wouldn't magically take on that sense of wide-eyed discovery that characterized my early riding, but for a couple weeks each winter I am able to recapture a little of that carefree spirit.

I've done long trail runs with no regard for how long or fast I travel.  If I walk, I walk.  If I want to stop and just enjoy the woods for a few minutes, I stop.  I've gone to yoga classes and struggled to not feel (like all of us bike racers do) like I need to "win" yoga.  I've been able to rediscover that every physical exertion is not a battle, with myself or anyone else.  And when the time came to get back on my bike I rode with complete disregard for the cardinal sin of the early season, and hammered up every climb in my big ring.

Tomorrow I'll do a field test to determine where my fitness is at.  The next day, and the day after, I'll probably spend multiple hours on my trainer.  I'm excited to start training again.  I'm driven to succeed and be faster this year than last.  But I'd like to hang onto that immediate sense of joy in the ride, and knowledge that, amidst the daily abuse I inflict on myself to be stronger, it's important to be kind to the body as well.  While it may not always put out as much power as I'd like, or bend as far as some, it does everything I ask of it.

Anyway, farewell, Offseason 2013.  It's been nice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rewind Part 2 - Cyclocross Nationals!!!

When last I left off I'd just flown out of Sacramento.  I arrived in Madison to warmer, wetter weather than I'd anticipated when I'd packed my bag 2 weeks prior.  I had literally said, "If there's precipitation it is going to be in the form of snow."  We were racing the masters race the next day, Friday, and it was looking like it was going to be very wet.  As teammates arrived one by one, some of them with delayed flights due to some pretty thick fog, we cooked dinner at our rented house and got ready to race.

When we arrived at the venue on Friday it was no longer raining, but the ice and snow was melting and creating a big, muddy mess.  I did a couple laps on the course, and wasn't feel super comfortable with it.  There were big muddy descents with unpredictable ice patches under them.  Sometimes the ice felt faster, certainly there was less resistance than on the mud, but if you slid out you were going down fast.  

Masters 30-34:

I got a front row call up!  Coach Larry came up to get my jacket and told me, "Hole shot."  Right.  Yes, that would be nice.  The official blew the whistle and we were off.  I missed my pedal but just kept going without worrying about it - eventually my cleat would find its way in.  I was probably 2nd wheel as we went into the dirt, but I had a moment of doubt and got passed by a few people.  I was still feeling solid, riding probably 6th wheel, not losing any time.  The course went up a short steep climb, then down a descent that started as hard packed dirt and transitioned to ice and mud.  From there we turned right into the set of stairs, then dropped down a short, curving descent.  I was maintaining my position, and some of the girls ahead of me were riding the descent like ninnies so I took a chance on the icey line, hoping to make up a couple places.  Unfortunately I slid out, landed right on my butt on the ice, and slid down the hill while my bike remained at the top.  I had to run back up and get my bike.  I think I got passed by 6 people during the time it took me to do that.  So that kind of sucked.  But you know what was rad?  The whole thing was so ridiculously fun.   Even sliding down the ice was fun, if frustrating.  I got back to work, picking people off, but was mired by some slower traffic and by that point all the podium spots were out of my reach.  I ended up 7th, which was frustratingly close to a nationals podium.  I crashed one other time, this one in the pit as I got tangled on my own feet and fell on my bike.  You want to see what kind of damage a bladed spoke can do to your knee when you fall on it?

But here's the thing:  I had a great race.  My fitness was very good, my bike handling was killer (there was a long, muddy, sketchy descent before the barriers and every time I rode it the rowdy spectators told me I was making up tons of time on the girls ahead of me on it), and I rode the last lap as strong as the first.  I had fun the entire time, and actually wished they'd sent us out on another lap.  It left me wanting more.  That's exactly what bike racing should be.

We had one day off between races, and I opted for a short trainer ride to aid in recovery.  Other than that I tried to relax as much as possible and stay warm and healthy.  The forecast for Sunday was looking rather grim - predicted high of 21 degrees.  Ouch.  That means that all those footprints and tire tracks and deep ruts in the mud were going to freeze solid.

I did two laps on the course (while wearing my down jacket) on Sunday morning.  The first was while it was still early and everything was hard as a rock.  Sometimes you'd be riding on a smoothed out, if frozen, track and you'd hit an ice patch and get all squirrely.  I wasn't feeling very comfortable with it.  By the time I got out on my second practice lap the sun and been shining on the frozen ground for some time and it was actually softening up in places, even though the air temperature was still well below freezing.  The softening trend gave me confidence and I was starting to get excited to race.


I had a decent call up, fourth or fifth row, but as I was rolling to the line I realized my front tire was feeling a little squishy.  Sure enough,  I had a slow leak.  My fabulous teammate Christina was lined up next to me and I said, "Christina, I think I have a flat tire."  She felt it and was totally cool, "You'll be fine, just to straight to the pit.  I've ridden on tires that low, you'll have no problem."  The pit was only a minute into the course so I didn't have to go that far.  I wasn't ready for the whistle, but managed to get going pretty quick.  My front tire squished around on the pavement and I dropped back, afraid I was going to take out half the field.  When we hit the dirt I found myself very far back amongst girls who weren't riding the half-muddy ruts very well at all.  The tire handled better on the dirt than the pavement, so I took some chances and motored around a number of people.  The turn before the pit was still hard as a rock and people were going really slow so I jumped off to run around it and went straight for the pit.  Then, I tripped over something.  Maybe my own feet, maybe just the rutted ground. I laid it out, landing on my knees and hands on the solidly frozen earth.  Ouch.  I picked myself up as quickly as I could and hobbled the whole length of the pit to where our crew was waiting with my bike.  In conversations we've had since the race it seems they couldn't figure out why a flat tire was making me limp like that.   Haha.  Anyway, got my bike and started rolling, passing as many people as I could. As I hit the climb I realized there was something very wrong with my left index finger.  I couldn't use my front brake, which isn't a big deal, but it also made holding the bars more difficult.  If it had been my right hand and I only could use my front brake I probably would have quit, since I would have been hitting the ground every 15 seconds.  At this point I was determined have fun, pass as many people as I could, and do my very best.  The course was very muddy, and the mud would freeze solid in a matter of seconds on our frames.  My derailleurs only sometimes shifted, the rest of the time they froze into place.  My fitness was good, my bike handling was good, and I passed a good number of people.  I ended up getting pulled after a couple laps, along with over half the field.  My glove was now tight around my rapidly swelling finger.  I headed to the medical tent and determined that it probably wasn't broken.  I got to cheer for my teammates who finished 11th and 12th.  I was happy with how I dealt with a bad situation, from the flat to the finger, and I truly enjoyed my race.  Again, what more can you ask for?

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent indulging in adult beverages and off-season food with my wonderful teammates.  I flew out with a couple of them on Monday afternoon, and was so happy to have friends with me while we were stuck in Cleveland for 4 hours waiting for our connection.  Cody picked me up at the airport at midnight.

Decompress.  After 3 weeks away it's great to be home.

So ends the 2012-2013 CX season for me.  I'd love to go to Louisville, but honestly I think I'm just ready for a little down time.  You can bet that I'll be watching it from home, though!

I had such a fun season, and I grew so much as a bike racer.  I owe all the thanks to my fantastic team, LadiesFirst Racing, our fantastic sponsors, most especially Milton Cat, my super coach and team director Larry who gave me all the tools to succeed, and my inspiring teammates and all of NECX who make every race a big awesome party.  Thanks to Scott and Seaside Cycle for giving me the flexibility to race, a job I love to go to, and access to the best equipment in the world, and my co-worker and buddy Kurt who gives so much to NECX, Ladiesfirst, and myself, every single weekend, and his mini-me Matthew for the race-day dogsitting.  Thanks to Oscar of rOti Cycling Services for keeping my bikes running great throughout this muddy season.  Thanks to my parents for always supporting me and wanting to hear about my races, my dad for taking me on epic rides, and my mom for always providing sympathy even for the most trivial of injuries.  Thanks to all my non-cyclocross friends who always root for me and want to hear about my racing even if they think I'm a little nuts.  And of course thanks to Cody for giving up his weekends to pit for me, preriding the courses with me and showing me the fast lines, talking me up when I'm feeling fat and slow, supporting me in all my crazy ideas, and being a constant reminder of what is really important in life.


Post-masters race mud-shot.
Pretty cold on Sunday morning!
What a mess!  The pits were like a war-zone.
A little post-race locally brewed recovery.  My left index wasn't any help in holding onto the beer, but I figured it was sort of like icing it, right?

Rewind Part 1 - So Long 2012

I think it's Tuesday.  We rolled in at 1 AM last night after being delayed in Cleveland for longer than I care to remember.  I slept until 7 AM, when our neighbor came by to use the compressor in the garage area below our barn-house.  The sound of a compressor re-compressing itself for a half hour, with nothing between you and it but a pillow and a couple pieces of plywood?  Yeah, I was awake.  But then he left and I slept until 10.  Right.  I haven't slept that late in years.  I showered and talked to the cats and dog for a while, and was thinking of heading back to bed, but instead decided to makes some tea and toast and update the ol' blog.

I don't think I've written much about the latter part of my 2012 CX season.  Don't know why, it was pretty rad.  My coach had me peak for the last couple New England UCI races and, lo and behold, I was pretty fast.  The last UCI race was in Warwick, and on Day 2 I had the best start of my life, was flying, up in the top 16 or so, and then I crashed, and crashed again, and sort of fell apart.  That was disappointing, because in some ways it was my last real chance of 2012 to prove something to myself.  If I'd held it together and kept upright I think I would have had a pretty great result to show for it.  As it was, I was really, really mad.  At myself, primarily, and I used that to help motivate for nationals.  I figured my next big chance to have a great result would be the masters 30-34 race in Madison.  I got back to the tough training after Warwick to start building back up.  

The next two weekends we had some regional races - Ice Weasels and Regional Championships.  Ice Weasels was OK (super fun in the mud!), but my bike sort of wasn't working and I didn't have anyone in the pit, and the training was starting to take its toll at Regionals, leaving me thinking fondly of how freaking awesome it is to be at peak fitness.  It also coincided with some cold snowy weather, Christmas happenings, and a two week period of time that Cody was away for work.  What do you think happened then?  Yeah, my motivation went from 11 to, oh, -2.  I was happy to be headed out on vacation for a couple weeks, thinking that it would help me recapture that fire to win.  

Cody and I flew to Reno on Christmas day to spend a week with my mom and reconnect with some friends we hadn't seen in a while.  While we were there it snowed a ton, making for some rad snow-cross-biking and a couple great opportunities to get up in the mountains.  I miss the mountains.  My motivation was still low, but I did my workouts (most of them).  I didn't want biking to interfere with spending time with the people I was there to see, or the non-bike things I wanted to do.  I wasn't particularly looking forward to Nationals at this point, merely accepting that I'd be heading out there whether I wanted to or not.  I know, that's terrible.  Don't worry, it got better.

Anyway, we went snowshoeing, sledding, watched football, and caught up with some great friends, and family.  Cody flew back to Boston on New Years Day, and I headed over the hill to Grass Valley, CA.  We had a nice visit with extended family, then headed down to Chico to visit with the other extended family.  I rode my bike through Bidwell Park in short sleeves.  We ate at the brewery.  Then I rode my very favorite Chico-area ride with my dad, starting in Oroville and riding up over Table Mountain.  It is so ridiculously pretty out there, and it was so nice to ride in above-freezing temperatures.  Also, my legs were feeling not to bad!  The motivation was starting to return.  

I spent the next week in California with my dad.  We spent one day XC skiiing above Truckee (for 4 hours - hmmm, good nationals prep?  We'll see!), then went DH skiing at Boreal.  Does it make me sound old to say I haven't downhill skiied in 23 years?  Yes?  Shit.  Well, the last time I was 7.  I've snowboarded lots since then, and I think that must help because it was pretty easy.  We took a lesson with a woman who was 75, and still a ski instructor.  I hope I'm still doing what I love when I'm 75.  There's not a lot more to ask of life than that.  

Anyway, my week in California was great.  We watched 2 seasons of Breaking Bad (I had dreams about disposing of bodies).  The week culminated in a great ride down around the Sutter Buttes, which wasn't exactly warm, but was extremely scenic.  My dad got up at a horrifyingly early hour to drop me at the airport in Sacramento.  Next up:  Nationals!

A Snowy CX Ride up Keystone Canyon in Reno

 Snowshoeing on Mount Rose with my mom and Cody - 8500' Elevation, that's gotta be good for my bike racing, right?

 A Lentil Burger and Old Chico Crystal Wheat at Sierra Nevada Brewery.  So good.

 Short-sleeves on a ride through Bidwell Park!

My mom adopted this dog, Murray.  He's a doll.