Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in bad pictures

I am not a good photographer. I also forget to bring my camara/take pictures when it would be cool to have pictures of things. So here's an incomplete recap of 2011 in bad photos.

The winter totally sucked. This was probably the only time I smiled while surrounded by snow. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but this was the first big snow so my soul hadn't totally been crushed by 2 months of unending ice.
When I went out west and it was hella warm.
We went down to Cape Cod in March to check out the trails around Otis AFB. It was so totally rad, and the first time we'd been on MTBs since early December.
Riley + Chickens. It's really just here for cute value. 2011 was a cute year. 9 friends of mine had babies in 2011. See? Cute. Just like my doggie.
Claymore f'in Challenge! The next day I "hit" the big practice drop up here at Highlands. I totally didn't crash (I totally almost did).
LadiesFirst racing!!!
Wedding in September. We're so good looking, you know, if viewed from a distance.
Kingdom Trails in Vermont! 5 days of singletrack magic.
Cross. This was in NoHo. I loved this race.
Thanksgiving Day polar bear swim. I just took pictures. The water was insanely cold. Screw that.

Obviously there are a lot of things here that I don't have pictures of. I couldn't find any pictures from my parents visit, or my visit to see my parents, or our trip to NY to see Eddie and the MTB world cup. Or the running I did. Or any of the awesome little rides we did every weekend we could. Or the sailing we did. But you get the picture. It was a pretty cool year, all in all.

Happy New Year! Here's to 2012 living up to it's promises of awesome.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ice Weasels

Wow, where'd the season go? Hard to belive that it's already mid-December. In past years nationals would have been this weekend. Weird. I'm having a hard time believing it's almost Christmas, too. I think that has to do with the amazingly warm and dry weather we've had this fall - it's been late-October-like for 2 months now.

Anyway, I met my end-of-season goal on Saturday to have two consecutive good races, although I went into the race intent on having fun and ending the season positively even if I was getting lapped by cat 4s. The course was super fun, twisting back on itself a lot so it was kind of hard to tell where people were. There were some fun tight turns, a blazing fast set of barrier surrounded by tons of rowdy spectators, a fun up-and-down section on the back of the course with a little run up, and a fly-over. The only other fly-over I've done was at Gloucester, and that one had a nice set of stairs leading up to it and a pretty long flat section on the top to remount. At Ice Weasels it was a ramp up, covered in that fake-grass-carpet stuff, with a boards nailed down every 16 inches or so - wicked slippery - and then a pretty short remount area and a quick drop into some rutted mud. Fun, but I was pretty cautious on the way up after I slipped and almost fell down it when I was preriding.

It wouldn't be 2011 without me having a lousy start, which in this case could best be described as "apathetic". So there was some traffic to wade through on the first lap. I passed a lot of people, then got in a group of 3. I was corner really well (wee!) so when I was sitting anywhere other than 1st wheel I would get frustrated in the corners by how slow I was forced to go. But my acceleration wasn't fantastic, so passing was a little tricky. I passed at one point before a technical section and had a little gap, but then I was going to slow up the fly-over and actually got passed back at the top. OK, that's all right, passed again before the technical up-and-down-run-up section, and the girl behind me bobbled something and I got a pretty good gap. At this point I had probably 3 to go, and I was feeling kind of tired. I was pretty stupid before my race about what I ate. Basically I didn't eat enough. I had my oats and coffee at breakfast, but for some unfathomable reason I didn't bother bringing much food with me. I had a yogurt, a container of raisins (???) and a Gu shot. Right? What was I thinking? So I had eaten my yogurt about 3 hours before my race, then snacked on raisins, then totally forgot to eat my Gu shot after my unimpressive warm-up. So I think I was running out of fuel at that point in the race. The good: I kept it together, rode within myself, rode well technically, and kept the gap I had on the 2 girls I'd been riding with. The bad: I didn't catch anyone else. But I finished pretty strong, despite getting hung up in some lapped cat 4s.

The rad: before the women's race my teammate raced with the 3/4 men and schooled every last one of them. Then she won our race.

It was, in fact, a terrific end to the season. That race pretty much embodied all the awesome things about 'cross - great course, great crowd, beer tokens, and a pedal-powered apple press, to name a few. I'm not particularly burned out on racing, but I am a little tired of being slow, so I'm excited to get back into it after great season of training under my belt. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011 Season Wrap-Up

I don't know what's wrong with me in this picture. The photographer told us to look excited. I look like I'm dislocating my jaw to swallow a large rat whole. But I guess that's exciting.

I am again surprised at how quickly 'cross season has come and gone. I spend all year looking forward to it only to have it go so fast that it's hard to stop and really enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, it had a blast, but I wish I had a little more time with it. But that's what next year is for, right?

2011 Stats:

Races: 15

Podium finishes: 1

Last place finishes: 2

DNF's: 1

UCI points: 0

Ugh, that looks terrible when you write it out. It just goes to show that statistics can be misleading. Here's the good stuff:

1. Raced with a fantastic team.

2. Met a ton of great people.

3. Learned the ins and outs of New England cyclocross (some of them, anyway) and travelled a ton.

4. Spent all week every week being totally excited for the upcoming races.

5. Started my first race of the season at Quad Cross saying "jeez, I really need to learn to corner better." By the last race of the season I was dropping people in the corners.

6. Improved my starts (sorta).

7. Ended the season with two consecutive good race weekends!

8. Not remotely burned out, totally psyched on getting way faster for next year, and motivated enough to be excited to start training again January 1st.

So basically, a good season. I've got a couple weeks off the bike here and then I'm going to start training to do some road races this spring. Psyched to train. Psyched to race road. I'm already planning my 2012 'cross season, which is just crazy talk in December of 2011, but I'm an addict, it's hard to help.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bell Lap

I have a new season goal - two consecutive positive race weekends. And I only have one chance left here to get it right.

I had a great time racing the second-to-last NEPCX race down in Warwick on Saturday. Not the best legs, but an overall decent race that I'm feeling good about. The last race of my season is this Saturday and I am absolutely determined to make it a good one and to finish my 2011 cross season off strong.

The course in Warwick was super fun. We were right down by the water (it was COLD by the water!) on Narragansett Bay, which you can kind of see in the picture up there. The course started with a paved climb, had a bunch of woodsy rooty fast stuff, some fun sandy corners, a nice flat set of barriers, a steep little kicker climb, and a sadistic beach run, not in that order. I had a super slow first lap and couldn't hang on with the group that included most of the people I'm usually racing against, but when we got into the rooty stuff and loose corners my bike handling and the fact that I wasn't following wheels and getting bogged down helped me catch the group as it started to fragment. I caught a number of people, and was right on one girl's wheel going by the pit when someone from the LadiesFirst camp suggested that I "pass that girl now!" me: "OK". I powered around her, but then took a stupid line into a tight turn and had to scrub a ton of speed and was super over-geared coming out of it and she passed me back. I was totally gassed and the next section was pavement into a headwind so really no good way to recover and I couldn't hold her wheel. I never caught back up but I was able to rally enough to not get caught by anyone else, so I didn't feel too bad about it. In retrospect I shouldn't have passed her right before a big headwind stretch, and instead waited for some technical section that I felt strong on. That's racing.

The super rad news of the weekend is that my uber-teammate Andrea Smith won both days. On Saturday it was a fantastic team effort (of which my only contribution was the post-race high five) that culminated in her outsprinting Laura Van Gilder - no small feat. And from what I've read of Sunday's race she just outrode everyone else, including LVG.

Anyway, the only part of me that is happy that my season is ending after this Saturday is the one that cares about paying bills in a timely fashion. Otherwise I'm super psyched on racing, and would be happy to keep going for a couple more months. I'm holding off on post-season analysis and next seasons plans until we're actually in the post-season. I'm actually really excited for some 5 hour rides in the cold this winter, which I find slightly disturbing. But more on that after next weekend!

Anyway, while I didn't race on Sunday I did have a fantastic day helping Cody take down a tree for some friends up in Maine, followed by a MTB ride on some trails I'd never ridden up in Exeter, NH. It's kind of funny, but out west you'd never wake up in one state, do some work in another, and finish your day with a bike ride in a third unless you owned your own plane. Oh New England, you amuse me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

But I have all this gluten free beer left!

I made it through my two weeks with no wheat or gluten. It wasn't so bad, but I didn't feel any better or worse or different than before. I feel compelled to add that I largely avoided grains during this time. I ate oatmeal almost every day, but cooked mostly with garbanzo bean flour and ate a lot of potatoes and yams. I think I ate brown rice one or two times. So last night I made lentil and seitan "meat" balls and spaghetti for dinner. Seriously gluten heavy meal. I figured that the real litmus test would be how I would feel after re-introducing wheat to my diet. And this morning I feel . . . the same. *


The obvious:
Confirmation of my initial belief that when I eat crap I feel like crap, but when I eat good food I feel good. Weird. (okay, not really). Maybe (okay, definitely) I'm blessed with an incredibly hearty digestive system, but it doesn't seem to matter if I'm eating meat, soy, wheat, or dairy, as long as it's all in moderation and with proper macronutrient balance. I'll continue to enjoy wheat products in moderation, thank you very much. I'm especially excited to discover that I don't have to give up seitan to feel good. Of course I'm not saying that anyone who avoids gluten or grains is wrong, quite the opposite. If it works for you, rad. But what this experiment has taught me is that wheat is not something towards which I have a noticable sensitivity.

The good:
Every time I eliminate something from my diet, even experimentally, I learn something about my patterns and habits and my relationship with food. I know, that sounds totally stupid, but I spend a whole lot of time every day talking to people about their relationships with food and how to improve them. They come to me to lose weight, generally believing that introducing exercise will be the solution. While it's a fantastic start, everyone struggles with the truth that losing weight is 85% diet. In the same way I can't really tell someone to do more pushups unless I can do them myself, I can't expect to be effective in talking to people about their dietary patterns and habits without having a healthy grasp on my own.

The bad:
I still have 3 gluten free beers in my fridge. I don't know why I thought I'd drink a whole 6 pack in 2 weeks while deep in cyclocross season (or really at any point, if we're being honest here). It's not bad, but it's not nearly as good as the Alagash White Ale that I also have in there . . .

I fear I may have been premature in my conclusion! As the day progressed I started feeling all bloated and yucky. It wasn't seriously uncomfortable, but it was noticable. I didn't eat anything different than what I had been the last couple weeks, except the wheat.


But I'm still going to drink normal beer.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Two to go . . .

Day 2.

One of the best parts of racing and riding bikes is getting to travel to places that you normally wouldn't. I feel like in the last three months I've seen more of Massachusetts than a lot of people I've met around here who have lived in Gloucester their whole lives (although Gloucester is known as being a bit of a black hole - some people never really get off the island). It was the same way when I lived in Reno and travelled all over California, Oregon, Nevada, and Utah. And it's not the same old touristy places most people go on vacation - you can't put on a bike race at Disneyland, and rarely do you get a downtown crit in a big city (although it happens - SF, Boston, etc).

The weekend after Thanksgiving I went to Sterling, MA for a couple 'cross races. My races weren't super great by virtually any measure, but it was neat to see the new roads and get familiar with a new area. It seems like there are a lot of races out around there, both road, CX and MTB, so it's good to be able to say, "oh, I know where that is, it's only an hour away" rather than having to consult a map every time I want to go to a race.

Anyway, the races. I don't want to get into course description but suffice to say that they were Tom Stevens designed courses and super fun. On Saturday I got a second row call up which I utterly squandered by missing my pedal and generally sucking. Second row!!! I'd like to trade that second row call up for a race that I have great legs for, OK? Can I do that? Anyway. Like I said, kind of crappy start, kind of mediocre legs. And then I flatted. It was really, really stupid. I pinched it on something, and I thought I felt my tire going flat. There was a little set of stairs right before the pit, so at the top I stopped to feel my rear tire, which felt firm to me. So I hopped back on and just on the other side of the pit I realized that I most definitely had a flat tire. So I had to run half a lap. Half a lap is probably just over a mile. Not far by running terms, but pretty damn far when you're carrying a bike and in the middle of a race. Anyway, by the time I got straightened out I was about to be lapped, so I just rode pretty easy for the rest of the race hoping I'd have something left in the tank for Sunday.

On Saturday night I stayed with the lovely family who owns Milton CAT - our biggest sponsor. It was fantastic to stay with my teammates and get to just relax after the race, rather than driving home or staying in a hotel.

I woke up on Sunday feeling kind of crappy. Mostly just tired, I think, as I didn't sleep too well on Saturday night. The house was comfortable and great, I was just awake. Sometimes it happens, you know? Anyway, the course on Sunday was a little more technical, and super fun. I felt lousy until I really started warming up on my trainer, and then started feeling a little more lively. I had ANOTHER second row start! What the hell? I guess it was a small field and I pulled a low number in the call-up lottery for those of us who don't hold UCI points. But still! I started right next to Rebecca Wellons. That's so cool! Anyway, I didn't have great legs and made some kind of critical technical errors in the first lap, so I didn't have a particularly spectacular race. But I managed to have fun anyway, which, when it comes down to it, is the most important part.

Anyway, my does-not-meet-expectations result for the weekend was fully in keeping with my rather unfortunate patter of good weekend/bad weekend/good weekend/bad weekend. Which means! That I should have a good race this Saturday in Warwick. Right? Right?! I sure hope so. I was really hoping to have two consecutive good weekends this year, and I'll have a chance when racing my last race of the season in two weeks, Ice Weasels.

I'll be sad to have the season end - cross season feels so short when you're not carrying it into January! But I decided that since I didn't manage a UCI point this year, and I'd undoubtedly be starting near the back at nationals, to just skip it this time around. I'm heading out west in two weeks to visit family and I doubt the prospect of coming in "top 70!" at nationals is enough to keep me motivated to train through travels and the holidays.

I did have a good talk with my coach/team director about road season and the lead up to NEXT cross season, though, and I'm excited to start the 2012 planning! I've learned so much in the last couple months, and I can't wait to combine it with a whole year of good preparation.

Oh yes, and I guess I should say something about Thanksgiving. It was nice. Is that enough? No? Okay, I made two vegan gluten free pies. One was a traditional pumpkin, the other was a pumpkin cheesecake (didn't have any cream cheese, of course) with a homemade, GF graham cracker crust. I made my own gluten free graham crackers. They were amazing. Anyway, both pies were fantastic and well received by even the staunchest meat eaters in attendance. Yay!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sh(r)edd Park

Climbing. Maybe I should try breathing while racing. The oxygen might help my judgement.

Yesterday I went to a race the Boston Road Club Cyclocross @ Shedd Park, in Lowell. It was rad. Well, mostly.

The course was pretty fun. I like courses where we can get the climbing out of the way fast. Whether it's a run up or a steep little kicker, I like getting the climb over and done with and then having a lot of twisty descending stuff. Or at least, that's how I feel this week. Ask me about it next Monday and I may have a different outlook.

Anyway, the course in Lowell started with a big parade lap around a field, then went into this little up-and-down u-turn around a tree, followed by some muddy-ish rough stuff. Then you had a fast descent into the barriers, another turn, and a super steep little climb. Twisty kind of loose stuff, then a cool series of switchbacks to get down the hill. Then you went back up it. The second climb was a little looser (originally I wrote "loser", which is funny) but it got a little less steep halfway through so you could really power up the last part, unlike the first climb that wasn't as loose but stayed steep the whole way up. Anyway, then you had another fast descent, followed by a little berm that you could kind of air-out if you caught it just right, before entering the woodsy section, then a little pavement, then more woods, finally onto the finishing stretch that was long and windy. As for the climbs, I rode them both in my pre-ride, but some people were running them and I was a little worried that when I got tired I was going to have to run.

I was feeling kind of yucky and super unmotivated as I got ready and "warmed up". Mostly I just rode the trainer for a few minutes, did some dynamic stretching, then decided riding the trainer sucks and went out and did some super half-assed openers on the road. I had a third row start, which isn't really that bad, but the start was super fast and I got sketched out by all the sketchy people. Or maybe it was just me. So I wasn't super aggressive. The result being that when we hit the u-turn around the tree I was pretty far back. I had this really bright idea that if I stayed on my bike a little longer and took the inside line that I could get around people. Um, that was kind of dumb. I ended up getting knocked over and trampled as I was getting off my bike. Seriously, I have a MTB shoe-shaped bruise on the inside of my elbow where I got stepped on. (AND I ripped my nice Fox gloves - but I'd almost not worn any gloves so in retrospect I'll take the ripped gloves over the missing pinky finger.) Anyway, I was Dead. Last. By a long shot. And my chain was off. Again. I was still feeling yucky and crashing and hurting my elbow and my pinky were a really good excuse to quit, right? Even after I got rolling again and passing people I was thinking that I had a good reason to quit, and I should probably just call it a day. But I didn't!

So I guess it can only get better from there, right? It was a 1/2/3 field, and there were 37 of us. So after my mishap I was in 37th. In the end I passed enough girls to end up 14th. That's pretty cool, right? I rode both of those steep climbs every time, except on the last lap when a lapped rider got off right in front of me. It's cool, it happens. Anyway, I was actually riding pretty strong, catching group after group, and feeling like when I went around people I had really good power and could distance myself from them pretty easily.

My coach/team director was standing around the start/finish area yelling at me, which actually was really helpful. It was windy through there and a couple of times when I was a few seconds back from a group or a rider, feeling ouchy and unwilling to dig too deep lest I not be able to claw my way out of the dark pit of pain, he yelled at me "GET UP THERE, NOW! GO NOW!" And I did and it worked out for me every time. Which just goes to show you that our biggest limitations are our heads, not our legs. I really would appreciate it if someone wants to just follow me around at races and tell me to go harder and quit whining. Although, Cody's tried this to no effect in the past, so maybe the difference is I had the fitness to back it up yesterday, for what really felt like the first time this season. Why? Beats the hell out of me.

Anyway, Lowell, Shedd Park, and BRC - kudos, rad race.

1 Week GF

Today will make it 1 week wheat and gluten free. It's not an experiment I entered into to treat any particular complaint, just to satisfy my curiosity, so I don't really have anything too specific to comment on.

Some observations from the week:

Going gluten free is pretty easy. I mean, the wide variety of GF products out there these days makes it pretty simple. I picked up some Bob's Red Mill GF AP flour (which for the uninitiated is a mix of garbanzo bean flour, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, fava bean flour, and, uh, I think that's it) and have been pretty happy with it. I've made pancakes with it yesterday and fed them to Cody with no complaints, which is a pretty good measure. I also picked up some GF beer - Bard's, made with sorghum and hops - which was pretty decent. Not a porter or a strong ale, but not Budweiser either. Basically, I don't feel like I'm really giving anything up. And I'm used to reading labels all the time as it is, so checking for one more ingredient isn't a problem.

I had a good race yesterday. It could be unrelated, or be a combination of factors, but it's worth bearing in mind. I felt like my power was better than it's been all season.

I didn't challenge myself to do this with any hope or expectation of weight loss, and my body composition has remained consistent. Non-expectation met.

For Thanksgiving I'm in charge of Pumpkin Pie. I'm going to make two - a standard pie and this: I'm going to make my own GF graham crackers for the crust. Both pies will be vegan and GF. And awesome. We'll be dining with some of Cody's somewhat . . . conservative . . . relatives from New Hampshire (please read the heavy sarcasm in my tone when I say, "and I'm really excited about it" - fortunately, there will be alcohol, and I plan on spending the majority of the day on my bike), and I have no plans of telling them that it's vegan and GF, so I'm excited about feeding them something that they would probably sneer at.

And I guess that's it. The experiment wouldn't be complete if I didn't reintroduce gluten to my diet after the two weeks are up and make observations as to its effects.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Yesterday I decided to challenge myself to go 2 weeks wheat-free. I am most definitely not the kind of person who jumps on the bandwagon of nutrition fads, and I've spent the last several years listening to the gluten-free crowd extol the virtues of their dietary choices. Then there's the Paleo diet, which is no grain/lots of meat. I have a lot of thoughts on that, but as someone trying to avoid meat as much as possible that's simply not a practical choice. My complete protein is largely made up of legumes and grains, so eliminating all grains is out of the question.

I read this the other day:

And I thought, well, maybe I'll try cutting out wheat for a couple weeks, just to see what happens. Understand that I noticed no difference in how I felt eating meat vs. not eating meat, so I don't think I'm particularly sensitive to dietary shifts, as long as I'm getting adequate nutrition and calories. So I'm curious to see what happens. I don't really foresee avoiding wheat as a huge issue in my diet, there's lots of food out there, and I'm used to reading ingredient labels in depth.

On my ride today I brought a Kashi protein bar, then realized it had wheat in it and I was going to feel like a loser falling off the wagon on day 1 of my challenge, so rode for 2.5 hours with no food at all, and then stopped at a grocery store and ate some Sweedish fish and an Odwalla juice thing. Not too sure that it was the best thing to reach for, but I was hungry and still had some riding to do.

Anyway, I'm not doing it to go "low carb" or anything (carbohydrates make up a consistent 60-65% of my daily caloric intake, right now I'm eating a big bowl of oatmeal. And no, it's not certified GF. Chill) and I'm not doing it to lose weight or anything like that. I think experimenting with my diet in a healthy way is a great way to learn stuff about myself and my dietary habits. Just like experimenting with my training by spending more time at the gym or running.

At any rate, I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh, Vermont.

Last weekend I went to Vermont for a couple of regional races. I was staying with Cody's sister-in-law and his wee little nephew, as he and his brother were up in Northern New Hampshire doing a man-retreat (ed. note: how manly is it to bring your iPhone backpacking? Yeah, that's what I thought too). Anyway, I'd decided to go to these races rather than down to those in Plymouth because they had almost $1000 women's prize purse between the two of them. I like to support events that support women's racing.

The course on Saturday was in Windsor, VT, and went all around the Harpoon Brewery (it's kind of like Sierra Nevada Brewery, but in Massachusetts, and not as big). The course wasn't overly technical, but it had some fun sections. There was what felt like a lot of climbing, which hurt. Anyway, I had a great start (for once! yay!) then got passed by a couple ladies. Basically I was in a group racing for 4th for a majority of the race, but I was sucking on the run-up and eventually got dropped there. Hella uncool. So I wound up 7th. The picture at the top is from that race. I also almost wrecked myself on the barriers, but held it together somehow. Oh yeah, and my teammate won!

On Sunday I went to Putney, VT, which is a neat little town on the Connecticut River that has one of the most fun co-op groceries I've been to in a long time. Loved that place. They also have a shop that puts on weekly Wednesday night 'cross races. How rad is that? Yeah, hella rad. Anyway, the course had a lot of fun stuff, including a super steep descent into a big rutted mud section that was kind of sketchy. Unfortunately it also had a big flat section virtually free from turns that went around this field. Boring. And really painful. And as it turned out, the course was super short, so they could definitely have added some turns in there to make it more fun and so that we didn't have to do 8 laps. 8 laps, you ask? Yes. 8. And there was a really hard run-up. That we had to do. 8 times. Anyway, I didn't have as good of a start, but I got with a good group and I was doing pretty well. Then I dropped my chain. It was so stupid, it was on this little stairs run up part, and as I was running my knee pushed my pedal backward and as it backpedaled the chain came off my inner ring. Ok, no biggie, chain back on, get with some other riders, keep moving. Then, on the next lap, it did the Same Thing. Put it back on, but then apparently I hadn't done a very good job and it came off again immediately. This was pretty much where my race ended. I got my chain back on and kept going, but I was so far back from everyone that, well, my motivator broke. I rode around for a few more laps (and dropped my chain AGAIN!) but I was about to get lapped by the leaders and the officials weren't pulling me, so I pulled myself. AKA DNF. But whatever. At some point that whole "stick it out, quitting is for losers" stuff just doesn't apply. There was nothing to be proved. So, yeah. But my teammate won again!

Anyway, I rode way too long and hard today for a tuesday following a race weekend, but it was 60+ degrees out and you gotta get it in while you can. Carpe diem, or something like that.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I have a little confession to make. The last couple weeks, since I skipped Downeast, I've been struggling to stay motivated. It might be the colder weather, it might be a little bit of fatigue, it might be all the warm fuzzy fall fun going on around me the last couple weeks - with harvest parties, halloween parties, fires, pumpkin EVERYTHING. Seriously, fall in New England is pretty special.

Whatever the reason, my motivation to go out and suffer on the bike by myself has been low. Generally when I'm feeling unmovitated I enter this cycle of low motivation > feel bad about being unmotivated > don't do anything at all to keep motivated > feel bad and eat ice cream > low motivation. But these last two weeks, even though I skipped a couple days on the bike, I got out and ran and did some strength training at the gym instead. Staying active and fit and strong > not eating ice cream > increased chances of return to motivated state. And what better way to increase motivation than to have a surprisingly good result at a UCI race? And maybe, the next day, spend 3 hours riding MTBs in short sleeves?

So, on Saturday Cody drove me out to Northampton for the Cycle-Smart International. It was COLD. I broke out my fleece lined long sleeved skin suit for the first time. I probably didn't need to, but it was awfully cozy.

The course was super fun. Started on grass, did a little S turn after the starting stretch then went into this "run" up. It was pretty short, but super gnar. Steep with loose dirt, rocks, and roots. I wasn't running. And the bottleneck it created stopped traffic so entirely that you could pretty much have soft pedalled at the start and still had to wait in line. Even though I wasn't running, my legs are pretty long and I have a lot of practice scrambling up stuff I can't ride when MTBing out here, so I actually passed a few people the first time up. Plus I was swinging my leg over the bike in the rooty descent that led into the run up and coasting in on one foot so I could hop off and get moving as soon as I started to decelerate. Some people were getting off before the little descent and some were waiting until they hit the hill, but my way was totally faster. Anyway, then the course twisted through some trees on some rooty uneven terrain, then there was a fast descent, then the big sand pit. I was really digging the sand pit. From there you twisted around through some grassy turns and some power straightaways, then hit the second "run" up. This one is in quotes because really, you could ride it if you didn't suck. I didn't manage to make it up a single time. Either because there was someone in front of me who screwed me up or because I just couldn't. At any rate, then you had more twisty rooty stuff through the woods, another little descent, barriers, and power grassy stuff before going through the finish. Fun fun fun.

Anyway, I had a pretty good start, made some passes, got passed and ended up with a varying group of 2-3 girls for the majority of the race. I felt really dialed and was railing corners and hammering over the roots with no regard for flat tires, and my fitness was better than I deserved. Overall I felt like my power output was pretty steady, although I lacked the high end to match big accelerations. I felt like someone would accelerate around me and I couldn't match them, but then they'd just kind of hover in front of me, or I could close the gaps by being fast through the corners, which has pretty much never happened to me before. Anyway, I was with two girls in the last lap with a pretty decent gap on anyone behind us when I bobbled the run/ride up and almost fell down the hill. I scrambled up it without too much damage but then I realized I'd dropped my chain and had to stop and put it back on. Rats! The gap that grew between myself and the two I'd been racing against grew too big for me to close in the last half lap, and the girl behind us caught me through the barriers. I dug nice and deep to stick on her wheel, then jumped around her on the finishing straight. Sprinting for 30th. Rad. Or kind of sad, depending on how you look at it. I'm going to go with rad.

We decided to come home afterward rather than stay and race another day. I've been feeling a little throaty and want to stay healthy, and Cody really wanted to ride on Sunday, which turned out to be a great idea. It was 60 degrees and sunny on Sunday and we got in a great 3 hour ride on our favorite trails with some good friends. Killer way to end the weekend.

I think I'll be driving down to Plymouth for a race or two this weekend (Cody's going to Man Weekend with his brothers/friends. They're doing a weekend backpacking trip in Northern New Hampshire. In mid-November. With whiskey. I am, obviously, not invited.) My motivation has returned full force for the second part of the season, and I've got plans to increase that acceleration so I can keep up with those surges that hurt so much in NoHo. But I'm also feeling good about the result I had after mixing up my training a little bit the last couple weeks, and am planning on keeping up the running and strength training in the coming weeks too. It makes me feel more strong and balanced, and we could all use more strenght and balance, right?

There's a pretty OK picture of me racing here:!/photo.php?fbid=270248683019556&set=a.270247473019677.70709.132987496745676&type=3&theater

Monday, October 24, 2011


So after much anticipation and preparation I didn't race Downeast this weekend. On Friday, after a very long work week I decided to skip Saturday to get caught up on those things that I really like to have done when work hits on Monday morning. And I didn't really end up doing too much, because as it turned out I felt kind of crappy all day, and felt really unenthusiastic about racing on Sunday. It took many years of having bad races to realize that when I don't feel like racing, I'm probably too tired/sick/overtrained to have a good race anyway. You know what I mean? Physical fatigue manifests itself emotionally. Then woke up on Sunday with a headache and a sore throat and decided to listen to my body and stay home. Which was good, because I pretty much felt lousy all day. No race next weekend, but the weekend after that is Northampton, which should be fun. Hoping to stay healthy and get in some good training between now and then!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Casco Bay

After three consecutive weekends of UCI races I went to a regional race up in Portland, ME on Saturday. It was nice to feel that regional race vibe, and ride a course that didn't have to adhere to UCI guidelines. This means - Singletrack! Especially refreshing after the big wide dusty thing that was Providence.

It had rained all week pretty much but ended up being super nice for the weekend. Breezy and cool but sunny, with mud leftover from all the rain. Perfect 'cross, in my opinion. I got in a lap on the course and had a really good warmup. Now, as you know, I've really been focusing on having better starts to my races (I love starts!) so I was determined to get it right. Erm . . . didn't happen. I think I'm thrown off by how I've been starting in too hard a gear, so when I started in a gear I could really accelerate in (for me it was like a 36x19) my upper body was still ready to muscle a big gear, so on the whistle I immediately lifted my front wheel off the ground and almost hit the girl next to me. Crap! There goes the race! Then, I missed my pedal. Now, at UCI race, my day would be done. I mean, I might be able to pass a couple girls here and there, but I would never come close to a podium, or even a top 20. Fortunately this was a 1/2/3/4 race, and it started with a long paved section, followed by a 180 degree turn, more pavement, then some wide stuff before dropping onto singletrack. Big ring, accelerate, pass. I passed all but two girls in the first section of pavement, then one other before the singletrack. That left one girl ahead of me (little 15 year old Ellen Noble), and she was zippy and had a great start. Clawed my way up to her and decided to sit on her wheel a little bit, even though the pace felt a little easy to me (not super easy, it was just a bit of recovery).

Now, there was a big run up on this course. Not super steep, but long, and slippery after the rain. It was followed by some twisty turns, another off camber running section, a few more turns and a fun little singletrack section, then a shorter but equally slippery run up. Right after that you came into the barriers, which were in a super spongy grassy section and directly into a strong headwind. Slooooow. What I'm saying is that it would help to bring your running legs. It would seem that mine forgot to get packed, because even though I was riding strong I was struggling in the runs, and 1st place trotted away from me. I would close the gap down to about 5 seconds during the running-free portion of the course, but it would open back up on that big ol' run up. So I got 2nd.

The lesson is (other than "don't start like an idiot") to not sit in when the pace feels to easy. That's not to say if I'd made a move I would have been able to hold it to the finish, but it would be better than sitting around waiting for her to run away from me. Lesson learned.

Anyway, I drove down to York, ME after the race (after spending about 45 minutes wandering around the Portland Whole Foods with race-brain - not a good idea) whereI met up with Cody for a big camping cookout/potluck/party thing. There were probably 40 people and 20 dogs. Seriously - they all ran around the woods in this big, uncontrolled pack. I only made it until about 9 PM, but fun nonetheless. Then yesterday (sunday) we got out on mountain bikes and took advantage of the wind with a gorgeous sail under sunny skies. Lovely.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Well, duh.

I just had a revelation - how will I ever get good at CX race starts if I don't like them? Love the start. Love. The. Start. It begins today.

Seriously, I only ever started getting better in crits when I stopped saying, "yeah, I don't like crits." So yeah, I love CX starts. The chaos. The pain. Oh yeah.

And I found out on Sunday that I'm a lot faster off the blocks when I'm in a gear I can actually turn over. No more big ring. Why has it taken me 4 years of racing cross to figure that out? I think everyone just watched me muscling a big gear and chuckled to themselves, "haha, we're not going to tell her the secret of not starting in a huge gear." Thanks guys.


Monday, October 10, 2011


I'm writing an immediate race report from the races in Providence this weekend so I can move on. Yeah, it was that bad.

Basically, I really, really sucked. I mean, a lot. Which was kind of disappointing after having such great races in Gloucester. I think that was the kicker - such good races the weekend before, and then to find myself off the back again. Blech. But, as my coach reminded me, it's coming at the end of a hard block of training and racing, and I got a bit of late start on my high intensity training for CX. So, I should be going pretty good by December! . . . Anyway, it was hot and dry and a very roadie friendly course. So while I'm glad I went, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it was fun.

But, as whenever we have this lousy races, I've spent a good deal of time thinking about what I could have done different in the leadup to the race (I mean, going back a week or so, not 3 months), and while I think my prep was pretty good, it's easy to pick out things I can do to make it better. You know, rest, nutrition, just little ways to improve. And, while it's too early in the season to start saying "next season . . ." sometimes it's these lousy races that sharpen my determination in the long run. Must. Get. Redemption. Next year. Providence.

Anyway, Cody skipped about a thousand awesome things to come down to Providence with me and work the pits and put up with my whiny "why do I suck so much?" conversation on the way home. You know, the endless rehashing and justifying. Poor guy. So pretty much he's awesome, and I wish I could have had a decent race to justify it.

Okay, subject closed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gloucester - keepin' it classy.*

Nearly the first thing I did when we arrived in Gloucester last year was race the Gran Prix of Gloucester, and now we've come back to that point. Full circle, or something . . .

If I were to look exclusively at my placing - 35th and 33rd - I'd think that I was slower than last year. But when I look at the talent of the field I think I'm actually doing better. Certainly there are things that need improvement (like 20 more watts) but by and large I'd say I'm getting faster.

Day 1

I love my team. I've yet to belong to a team that I didn't love, and this group of ladies is no exception. While I was back in the field duking it out for 35th my teammate Andrea Smith was battling with Helen Wyman, the British national champ. That's pretty darn cool. But anyway.

I have this tendency to think I'm doing really well at the start only to find I'm in last place. Day 1 at Gloucester was one of these. Rats. Must. Improve. Starts. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the start is definitely my least favorite part. Not a sprinter. Intensely dislike the feeling of digging myself into such a deep, dark hole in the first 30 seconds of racing. But either I figure it out and get it done, or resign myself to never breaking the top 10. Starts. Will practice. Anyway, Saturday's course was FUN! They built this sweet flyover, and there was some weird sketchy mud leading into it, and those tight off camber turns they put in every year. It was a little hot, in my opinion, and I was pretty parched by the end. Anyway, the big news for my CX racing this year is that I'm totally killing the run ups! I know, right?!?! I've always kind of floundered during the running parts, but this weekend I was PASSING PEOPLE on the gnar Gloucester run up. On the last lap I passed Vicki Thomas, only to have her get back on her bike faster on top of the flyover (d'oh!) and beat me by 10 seconds or so. I ran more this year than I've ever run before. And I trained it, doing track workouts, and plyometrics. And it worked!!! In an effort to not let people think I'd gone over to the dark side and become a "runner" I kept saying that I was just training my run for CX, and as it turned out, I was! Okay, I'll shut up about it, but the truth is I'm really psyched.

Day 2

The course on Sunday was a little less technical, no flyover and it was dry, but super fun, lots of turns, and a beach run/ride that lead to a big ol' set of stairs. Now, I was kind of dreading the stairs, but since it turns out I'm like the Usain Bolt of cyclocross, it actually worked to my advantage.

Anyway, determined as I was to have a good start, I didn't. I lined up on Lyne Bessette's wheel - bad idea? I dunno, but right after the whistle the girl to my right promptly ran into me and then moved into my line. Bitch. But then I popped out of my pedal. Uh, yeah. I'd sprayed some lube on my cleats to keep them from mudding up and then I kept popping out of my pedals. And I think they still mudded up. I just. Can't. Win.

I passed a bunch of girls on the first lap, then gave up a couple places. My legs weren't as snappy as on Saturday (well, no duh), but I had a good race. I kept it together and stayed upright as people fell over all around me in the corners and the sand. One girl passed me at the beginning of the last lap, then fell over on the beach and I darted around her and totally dropped her going up the stairs. I know, I know, I'm awesome (kidding!). Of course then someone else passed me and out-cornered me to such a degree that she opened up 15 seconds in in the last half lap. So starts and cornering. Yes, I will work on these things.

Anyway, big big thanks to all the friends who came out to cheer and tell me I'm awesome! And to Cody for pitting for me and telling me to "go faster", "dig", and "get on that wheel" so many times that I wanted to throw my bike at him.

Oh, and if you missed it on facebook, I made Cyclingnews:

Or at least, part of me did.

*Note on the title:

On day 2 the course had to be re-routed due to a backed up septic system and pools of veryverybad water on course. Then later I heard that some bikes were stolen out of the parking lot? And it just left me with the feeling that Gloucester is like Reno - everyone who visits it thinks that is kind of quaint, somewhat delinquent, a decent place to visit but why the hell would you want to live there anyway? It gave me that warm feeling that I felt towards Reno - that which you'd feel for your slightly unstable second-cousin with a police record on unemployment. Sure, you wouldn't want to lend them your car, or money, but they're family so, like, you've gotta love them a little bit, right?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nor'easter - from High to Low

I showed Cody this picture and all he could do was make fun of my Alfalfa hair . . .

Ahhh, Nor'easter Cross. What can I possibly have to say about my first DFL at a UCI race? I know, I'm as surprised as the next person to realize that I've never come in last at a UCI race before! But that streak is, alas, over.

I think the cosmos were trying to warn me not to go - I'd felt wiped out the whole week, not really training at all, then, at 10 the night before the girl I was going to carpool with texted me that she was bailing. Not to be deterred, I got up nice and early on race day (did I mention it's a 4 hour drive to Burlington, VT?) to take a shower, and when I was toweling off my hair I heard a crunch and my neck got all out of whack. Again, I persevered, loading up the car, eating breakfast, etc. The drive up wasn't too bad, all in all. Got out for a couple laps on course and, erm, it was really muddy. I mean, look at the pictures on Cyclingnews or wherever, it was muddy. And it was the kind of mud that is really, really hard to ride through. You keep turning the pedals but you're pretty much not moving. And there were two long sandpits. Of the running variety. I mean, it was a fun course and all, but at this point my perspective has been distorted by what a dreadful race I had. Anyway, got on my trainer for a little warm up, and when I climbed down to get ready to race my head started throbbing. Like, instant onset headache. At this point I'm thinking, "God damnit, I drove 4 hours to get up here and I'm going to race and finish in the money!" Which, props to Adam Myerson, the Verge series, and the race promotor, was equal for the men and women for the 15 places it ran in the women's race.

Last row call up, of course. Did I mention that Helen Wyman was there? Yeah, the British national champion. Yeah. She won. But I digress. The whistle blows and I'm not in a big enough gear but I figured it was going to all bog down in the first turn so I didn't need to panic. Then I find myself in last place going into the first turn. OK, I can move up, look at all those people right there? I passed one girl, got on my teammate's wheel, and hoped for opportunities to move up. Then . . . it just kind of fell apart. I was going as hard as I could but it just wasn't happening. My head felt like it was going to explode, my stomach was exceedingly unhappy with me, and I just wasn't having much fun. With one lap to go the sole person I'd passed at the beginning passed me back, and that was that. During that last lap my train of thinking was along the lines of, "I should really just downgrade, I'd have more fun racing with the amateurs, I suck at this." I know, bad thoughts, but the mental game can be the hardest part when you're rolling in DFL. I suppose the good news is that I actually finished, and didn't get lapped by Helen. In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better if I'd pulled out on lap one, given the 4 hours of misery that were to follow.

I felt like I was about to pass out after I finished, so I immediately rode over to the bike wash to get cleaned up and GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE. I didn't cool down (I told myself that my entire last lap had been a cool down. ha. haha. yeah.), but I hung out with my teammates for a few minutes while they did. I had some recovery drink. Then I hit the road. I talked to my dad on the phone whilst meandering my way through Burlington and probably running over someone's cat/child/foot in my somewhat distracted and unhappy state. Once rolling I started feeling really, really lousy. Head throbbing, stomach seriously unhappy with the state of affairs. And I had 4. Hours. To. Go. I'm not really sure how I made it home. It involved occasional stops for light napping and puking out the car door. It involved a whole lot of silence because every little sound hurt oh, so much. Somehow I made it home by 10, crawled into bed, covered in mud, and failure, and probably vomit. But oh! The joy of stillness and quiet.

Anyway, needless to say I should have listened to the signs and stayed home, and most of my Sunday and Monday involved continued recovery from whatever it is I did to myself on Saturday. I even called in sick yesterday, the first time I've done that since I started my job in January. I'll get out on my bike today and hopefully be able to salvage a little something for the Grand Prix of Gloucester this weekend. I love this race, let's hope it loves me back more than the Nor'easter did.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Northern Kingdom

I wanna go back!!!

One week ago today I was camping outside of East Burke, VT. I'd wake up that day, drink good coffee and eat oatmeal, and go ride brand new (to me) singletrack for 3 hours with Cody and Riley. We'd get back to camp and eat whole wheat pasta with our homemade pesto, about a pound of bacon, and good romano cheese. And drink beer.

(Today I woke up at 4, came to work, and am currently drinking bad coffee - there's something about the Turbo Shots that Dunkin' Donuts put in their coffee that make me feel all hella cracked out. I mean, more than normal espresso. 'S weird. I currently find myself grooving to a La Bouche song at 5:30 AM, inspite of my better judgement.)

Anyway, needless to say it was a totally fantastic vacation - complete with sitting around a fire drinking beer and making s'mores. I think we spent about 12 hours riding ripping trails while we were there. My legs still hurt. A couple friends from Gloucester came up to camp and ride with us. One of them compiled some pretty fun videos from her helmet cam. Mostly there's just some shots of my butt, but you can see Cody getting rad over a couple jumps.

On Thursday me and Cody spent almost 4 hours riding in a downpour. It actually was one of the funnest days, trail-wise. It was slippery with all the wet roots, but god those trails are fun.

New Christmas card photo???

After that picture was taken we went out and split a medium pepperoni pizza, an order of mozzerella sticks, and an order of french fries. Yeah. It was a lot of cheese. But it takes a lot of cheese to stay warm whilst camping in Northern Vermont in September. And with 3+ hours of hard riding each day I think Iate like, 10K calories a day and came back a pound or two down from when we'd left. Hey, it's race season, I gotta keep tabs on these things.

Anyway, the downside of taking a few days off work to go play is that I'm super busy and utterly vacation-hungover this week. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to heading BACK up to Burlington, VT this weekend for the Nor'Easter UCI cyclocross race. Two words for you: Euro Pros. Yeah, Crossresults has my ranked LAST on race predictor. Sad face. But I guess I can only do bettter than that, right???

Dude, Reno, what the hell? Why can't you get in the news for something not terrible? Seriously, the economy? Suicide rates? Mass involuntary aeronautical vehicular manslaughter? (Not that Gloucester is much better.) I tell this story a lot, but back in 2002 a dude crashed his plane out at the Air Races, and, well, died. I saw his picture in the paper and he was this guy who I'd waited on at The Diner out in Golden Valley (that's in Reno, for you non-Reno-ites). Anyway, he had been a jerk and had tipped me like, 51 cents, so I remembered his face. Then, well, you know the story. Life's weird, huh?

On a lighter note - did anyone watch the Pats game on Sunday? Did you see Wilfork's interception? Look it up on Youtube. It's priceless.

This digression brought to you by Dunkin' Donuts Turbo Shots.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I think . . . yes, I do believe it is - a race report!


Yesterday I did my first cyclocross race of 2011 (it was, in fact, only my 6th race of the year. period.). Cody earned Awesome Boyfriend points by getting up super early after an extremely late night (more on that later) to drive me out to the Rod 'n' Gun Club in Maynard, MA.
Yada yada yada - driving, arriving, registration.

I got to meet a few more of my awesome and exceedingly speedy teammates, then I headed out to check out the course. It was super fun, with a couple little ups, a long decent, a longish but not overly difficult run-up, a bit of sand, one set of barriers, and some fun loopty turns on a grassy slope. And some fun singletrack through the woods! After a couple tire pressure adjustments and a good warm-up I was ready to go!

There were 76 women racing (compare that to the 30 women I counted in the results from CCCX - hells yeah New England!) - 20 or so in the Elites, a bunch of 3/4s and masters. And we were all on this little 2 km course at the same time, with 20 or so juniors. Cluster. I don't have a better suggestion, and I've put on enough races to know that if you want it different then put on a race and see how hard it is, then you'll quit the bitching. But by lap 3 (for me) there was some serious traffic. Not a big deal as far as my race went (realistically) but I feel bad for the little guys and girls who had to move over for people 3x their size going by at mach 10.

But onto my race . . .

I had an OK start, but made some good passes and ended up sitting in about 9th about halfway through the first lap!!! I could see my teammate, the uber-fast and nice Christina Tamilio up a little ways from me, and I was sitting on Allison Snooks' wheel. Feeling good and maybe, a little cocky, I passed her on the big-ring descent. That may have been a mistake, which I realized as she passed me back before too long and when I came through the finish and saw 4 to go. 4? 4?!?! I was not riding at a 4 laps to go pace. More a last lap kind of kill-myself pace. So I cracked a little, lost Allison's wheel (we'd long since lost sight of Christina) and fell off the pace. Before too long teammate Nancy came by. I tried to stick with her but it was not to be, apparently. Did battle with some NEBC girls, and had kind of found a good rhythm. Then. I dropped my chain. I had gotten a little sloppy with my shifting and didn't downshift before entering the single track. Mistake. Anyway, I got it kind of jammed up and had to get off my bike and pull it out. Got passed by another NEBC girl and caught by Anna Milkowski. At that point I think we had 2 to go, and while I didn't catch anyone, I didn't get caught by anyone else. I rolled in for 14th, with teammates in 3rd, 5th, and 10th.

Weeeeee! Cyclocross is sooooo fun! And I had a REALLY GOOD RACE for 2 laps. Then it fell apart, but if I can just hold things together and not go all in on the first lap I think I can scrape together a couple top 10's this year! And my bike handling felt really good, same with my CX skills. Yay! Come on, UCI point! And my team is awesome, and our director/coach said I can use his bike as a pit bike all season long! It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there how one can be totally psyched by 10 minutes of feeling like a fast, competant bike racer, even if your result is only mediocre. For the mere mortal among us, incremental improvement is still improvement, and still reason to feel excited and encouraged.

Moving on, because really, anything that's not cyclocross is pretty much an afterthought at this point. On Saturday we went to a lovely beach wedding and wore fancy dress and danced with lovely friends and family. The wedding was early and I was in bed by 9:30, but Cody went out with his bro's and didn't get back until 2 AM, then got up at 6:30 to drive me to my race and play bike mechanic/cheerleader/chauffeur duty. Here's my "See? Sometimes I wear something other than workout clothes" picture.

Now getting ready for 5 days of camping and 168 miles of singletrack up at Kingdom Trails in Northern VT. And no, it didn't get washed away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


And the (kind of) big news that I've been too busy and/or lazy and/or distracted to announce to the internet world is . . . ! I managed to weasel my way onto a sweet new team! I'll be racing for LadiesFirst Racing. They're (we're?) a women's (duh) Massachusetts based team that focuses on cyclocross, although a number of the ladies also do a fair amount of road as well. Having support and teammates and coaching is going to be rad. I'm pretty much stoked.

I can never really figure what people are thinking when they decide to support me in some way or another. I feel like the things I put on resumes always sound cooler than they really are, and so I must be misleading people. I'm not making stuff up, it just sounds more impressive on paper than the event actually was. So when I was talking to the team director, who's also my new coach, he asked me about my power zones. I haven't actually done a power test in a year or so, so I just kind of guessed. I mean, it was an educated guess, but a fairly optimistic one. After I got off the phone I was a little worried that I might have oversold myself. Oh well, I guess if I'm not that fit then we'll find out soon enough, right? So yesterday on my ride I was gratified find that if anything I'd underestimated. I know, right? I am worthy.

Anyway, I should be racing this sunday, right when whatever's left of Hurricane Irena hits us. Epic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Call of the Road

Ever since last January when the dark days of winter enveloped New England in more ice and snow and clouds than I care to remember I struggled with the decision of what to do with myself, bike racing-wise.

"Do I want to race road bikes?" Hells yes, but it either meant lots of trainer time (not a chance) or a late start to the season. Coming from the NCNCA and lots of fabulous early spring racing that was a hard concept for me to grasp. Additionally, I was a little spoiled coming from the NCNCA. I wanted a Copperopolis, a Wente road race, not some silly circuit race. Ignorant to the ins and outs of racing in New England, I didn't know what I wanted to commit to, to peak for, and how to train for it. Plus, I didn't have a team - I didn't even know who the teams around here were (still don't, I guess). So that inevitably lead to the question,

"Do I want to race mountain bikes?" This seemed like a fun option, given my lack of team and my obsession with east coast mountain biking. The biggest detractor here was cost. I'd have to buy my UCI license (which I'll have to get before CX anyway, but that's beside the point) and the entry fees are more than most road events I've done. My bike, as much as I love it, also needed some help - I'm currently running a 3 year old chain and cassette, and really, really need new tires. Like, really. It adds up.

Of course, one thing was not in question - Cyclocross. I knew whatever else I did I wanted to race 'cross. We have something like 15 UCI races in New England this year, and it's about $200 bucks to fly to Wisconsin in January (brrrrrr!).

Tonight I'll go race my first criterium if 2011. It also happens to be my second road race of the year, 3rd bike race, and probably my 5th competitive event of 2011. Whoa. I did more racing in my 1st year of racing, when I wasn't even sure I was a racer.

So what do I want to do next year??? The same questions/excuses/problems present themselves in answer.

Instead of doing 5 hour rides and spending more than I can afford racing my bike this year, I did lots of fun rides in the woods, went snowboarding, learned to go off a 4 foot drop, went downhilling, read a lot, ran a lot, raced a 5k and a duathlon, hung out with friends and family, worked on my core and upper body strength, watched a World Cup MTB race, watched a slopestyle competition (wow, spectating!!! When's the last time that happened?), played capture the flag, didn't stress about standing on my feet for prologned periods, didn't stress out about what I was eating (I still eat super duper healthy, but don't worry so much about what goes in the day before a race), established myself as a personal trainer through a highly regarded organization, went swimming as much as I could and went sailing. Probably some other things, too. It was rad. I've had a great summer and spring (pretty much everything since the snow melted). I've had time to do the things I never get to do in the summers, and spend time with people who are important to me.

But . . . every time I log onto Cyclingnews, or NorCal Cycling News (yes, I still check out, somewhat obsessively, what's going on in the NCNCA), and any number of blogs I read on a regular basis, I get this pang of longing. It's the same way I feel when I think about the mountains to the west of Reno, or my friends and family who aren't on the east coast, or Cody when one of us is away for a few days. I miss road racing the way I'd miss a person, or a significant and dear geological feature (haha).

So I'm not making any promises or commitments. I'm not saying I'm going to race a full season of road. (I AM going to race a full season of cyclocross, which may or may not include nationals.) I'm not positive I'm ready to give up having another summer of frivolity. I just want to put this out there as a reminder to myself, come January, what it will feel like to spend another season off the road. Maybe the commitments will come then, or maybe sooner, but it's good to get it down, sort through the pros and cons and how I feel about it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Almost Time!

Ah yes, the nights are getting cooler, the days shorter (which sucks, but whatever), summer seems to be winding down. I love summertime - the heat, the long days, swimming in some body of water every day I can. But as summer ends it's time for cyclocross, and that makes up for losing those long days and all the fun stuff that comes with it. Plus, fall in New England is pretty rad. Last year was my first fall here and between the colors on the trees and the lovely (bug-free) cool-but-not-cold weather it makes for a really nice season. I guess it was the same way out in Reno - fall Tahoe riding is pretty much the best. It's also football season, which I'm mildly ashamed to say makes me pretty happy. (My 16 year old self would be mortified by this admission, but she's too busy putting on more black eyeliner and dying her hair so I don't think she'll notice.)

Well, I registered for a crit next Wednesday - the Witch's Cup, in Salem. It'll be the first crit I've done in over a year. Ouch. But it's a women's cat 1-4 field, so I'm sure I won't be either the sketchiest or the slowest person out there. Goals for this event include not riding like a ninny and keeping the rubber side down. But it's good speed work for CX. Other than the fact that Salem is 20 minutes from home, I decided to do it because some business stepped up to sponsor the women's race, which was notable absent from last night's Grand Prix of Beverly. The other crit I'll be participating in this year is the TD Bank Mayor's Cup because last year they offered equal prize money for men and women and hardly anyone showed up and I want to support an event that does that even though I'll probably get shelled on the first lap when Laura Van Gilder attacks. Damnit. But it'll be sweet to race in downtown Boston, and it's part of this big Boston Cycling festival thing, so it sounds like fun. Even skipping a UCI2 CX race to be there and support it. Rubber side down, don't ride like a ninny, rubber side down, don't ride like a ninny (my crit racing mantra). I know, it has some logistical flaws, but whatever.

In other exciting news I seem to be generating some good power on the bike, which is nice. I say "seem to be" because I haven't been riding with my powertap, because, uh, I just haven't. With nationals in January this year I'm trying not to stress about numbers in August, or I'll probably be wicked burned out by the time it counts.

Oh yes, have you met my lovely new bike? I usually refrain from naming inanimate objects, because I have a hard enough time coming up with names for furry ones with eyes, but this one is Cap'n America, since it's red white and blue. It's kind of supposed to be ironic. At any rate, it's a hella sick bike and I can't freaking wait to go race it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

2 months, listed.

So, it's been, what? Two months since I last blogged? I am sooo on top of my shit.

In the last two months I have done the following, in no particular order:

  1. Run a 5K, and won my category.

  2. Raced a MTB race, and came in DFL in the pro women.

  3. Ordered a new cyclocross bike (thanks, Dad!). It should be here this week. In exchange I had to tell Cody that he could get a dirt bike. Okay, he probably would have done it without me being "ok" with it, but I gave him my blessing. And told him he has to motopace me. It'll be a dualsport - street legal, you know.

  4. Ridden my XC bike on the DH trails at Highlands MTB park in New Hampshire (it was hella sick).

  5. De-gooked a blocked composting toilet - it's actually much, much, much worse than it sounds.

  6. Missed the Nevada City Classic. I didn't really do anything but sit around and feel sad about not being there with all my friends and family and racing buddies. It sucked.

  7. Done lots and lots of MTBing, and learned to drop some little 2 footers, plus I've been rocking all the stuff around here that used to scare me enough to hike it.

  8. Trained, actually. And my fitness is actually coming along surprisingly well.

  9. Looked into plane tickets to Vegas in September for a little cyclocross race they have out there. Followed by a party that I rarely enjoy but always look forward to, for some reason.

  10. Been hired as personal trainer to a number of new clients.

  11. Watched a lot of hockey, for some reason (go Bruins!). <<<< Bandwagon-jumping.

  12. Picked about 1000 ticks off of poor Riley.

  13. Picked 0 ticks off of Big Kitty and Little Bit, as they still refuse to go outside. I think they're afraid of the chickens.

  14. Almost broke my leg playing Capture the Flag. I had the flag (in this case a ski pole, for maximum unsafety) and I was running through a rutted field. My foot went in a rut and I landed with my shin on a big rock. Currently my left lower leg is like, twice as big as my right, and blue. Fan-tastic.

  15. Put together a rousing Keg Hunt for a bunch of drunk people. Like a treasure hunt, but in this case the treasure was a keg of Bud. Uhh, right. That was the same day, but before Capture the Flag. To be clear, I was perfectly sober at the time of the leg-wrecking. In fact, I was perfectly sober all night long. Being a bike racer (even one who doen't race) is so exciting.

  16. Been awoken at obscene hours of the morning by the goddamn Guinea Hen. Have you ever heard a Guinea Hen? Ours is flipping retarded, and makes horrible, horrible noises all the time. But they eat ticks. Lately I think they've been distracted because the girl Guinea is sitting on eggs and the male thinks that if he makes stupid noises all the time that we'll go after him and leave the girl in peace. We don't harrass the girl Guinea, we just sometimes go within like, 20 feet of her and he flips out. Anyway, they've been slacking on the tick eating lately. I'll be speaking to their supervisor, you can count on it.
I'm not sure what to make of the fact that my longest bullet point was about Guinea Hens. I'm inclined to think that it's kind of awesome, actually.

This weekend we're headed back up to Highlands to watch the Claymore Slopestyle Contest - it's going to be sick. Hella, wicked, sick. Then we'll come back to Gloucester and watch some Greasy-Pole action. You know you want to click on the link . . .

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I am not a Multisport Athlete

Last weekend I went to Ashland! Uh, Ashland, MA. Oregon would have been way radder. Although it was raining! . . . .


I went to race a duathlon. I'd been practicing at the shooting range, but then I remembered that it's only in a biathlon that you get to pack heat.

That's a joke, by the way.

So this race was pretty short - 2 mile trail run, 6.5 mile MTB, 2 mile trail run. Let's just get this out of the way and say that while I enjoy running very much, I'm not very fast. For the first two miles I did about 7:45 minute miles. For the second two miles, after the bike, I think I did 10 minute miles. It was a pretty cool event, and I won some Hammer Heed and got a pretty cool shirt. I remember thinking, during the second run, that, "oh, okay, now I've got all this running out of my system and I can just ride my bike until it starts snowing again."

Anyway, I've finally made a friend outside of Cody's circle of childhood friends and their girlfriends/wives. She's a runner and triathlete (I know, I know, and she's SUCH a triathlete, too, but whaddya gonna do?). Anyway, I'm helping her with her bike and she's helping me run faster. I think it'll help a lot in cyclocross, since I always look like a small retarded child during the runs struggle with the runs.

I know, that was extremely offensive to small retarded children who probably run much faster than me. (not politically correct)

Moving on. I don't really want to end my post with such an insensitive comment, but to be honest I don't really have anything to add.

Okay, I thought of something.

We took The Boat out night before last. Cody's brother has a little boat with a filthy smoking two stroke on it that I always feel really bad about participating in the running of (not gramatically correct). But being able to go out on the ocean is one of the few things that make not living in the mountains acceptable. We need a sailboat. I can't wait to go sailing this summer. Did I mention how warm it was yesterday? It was warm enough to get muggy. Ah, the humidity. Oh East Coast, you're so messed up.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In other news . . .

I'm taking down my road race schedule.

I'll be doing some road racing, but I don't really have a plan. I still want to do Green Mt. Stage Race, definitely still planning for a killer CX season, so my season goals remain unchanged. I guess I'm just having fun riding and running and having a life. I'm still figuring this place, and my life here, out. It's hard to be single minded when there's so much new stuff to learn every day. I'll get back to it, I'm just having fun right now. And - I firmly believe that as long as I keep riding and running and being generally active, my cycling-specific fitness will never be far away. Call me naive, but I'm feeling pretty good about my choices, even if it makes me sound a little flaky.

Springtime in Massachusetts

I know, it hasn't been quite a month since I last posted something. But I feel like I've been collecting these little kernels of interest and haven't had a chance to share them yet.

It's finally spring. Like, really, truly, spring. Last Wednesday it poured rain all day. When I looked out the window the next morning everything had turned green. Later that day on my ride I saw tulips just starting to blossom. When I rode home from work that evening they were in full bloom. It's amazing what can happen in the space of a day.

I know I've mentioned this before, but the way a place smells is more evocative to me than the sights or sounds. Reno smelled like sage and rabbit brush (which, as a result of my 9 years there, smells like home), riding in the SF bay area smells like eucalyptus trees, Chico smells like oaks, driving down the central valley for a bike race smells like, erm, kind of gross, but evokes so many memories of traveling to Madera and Kern, and all those other central valley events. When there are forest fires and the air is smokey it always brings me back to growing up in Quincy - one particular fall where there were lots of fires and the valley filled with smoke, and I hung out with friends on a railroad bridge out Hwy 70.

I haven't yet determined what Massachusetts smells like. I guess I'm not familiar enough yet with the plant species, and there are probably too many different ones to pick out just one that screams at me. In the fall it smelled like decomposing leaves. Mostly it smells like wet dirt and growing things. It's always wet here. You know, classic east coast humidity. Even when it's dry it's wet. In the summer it smells like mosquitos and midges - there's so many bugs that when you go to take a deep breath you suck them up your nose. I know, pleasant. There's the smell of the marsh, which is pretty quintessentially New England - it smells like ocean, and marsh grass, and mud. It's full of life, though, and not just biting insects.

But winter was devoid of anything but the smell of cold. That smell where everything is frozen, and the air hurts your nose because it's so cold, and everything smells like diesel exhaust from the plows, and the exhaust mingles with the sand and salt in the snow piles on the sides of the road. When you're riding your bike and cars drive by you taste the salt they lay on the roads, and you taste it on your water bottle from the spray of your tires. The snow and ice take so long to melt that you can't remember the last time you saw dirt. Just dirt. Something other than pavement or ice. And then that first patch thaws, and there's this moment of incredible disbelief that you've survived winter. There had been days when you had ceased to believe spring would ever come. Day by day you see more brown earth until you can finally smell it. Wet dirt and decomposing leaves smell so good after a long winter of darkness and cold. And then you wake up one morning and it is really, truly springtime after all. You smell grass and growing things again, and it's amazing.

And now we've made it. Sure it's a little chilly and rainy, but I don't have to disconnect my water every night so it won't freeze, and there isn't a single patch of snow left. The trails are open for business, the roads are, well, still sandy and full of pot holes. But the trails are perfect, and we've been taking full advantage.

Yesterday was the Boston Marathon. Every time I watch a marathon (on TV - the Athens Olympics and now this one) I want to run one. I'm sure it would take me 5 hours. How can anyone not be inspired by that kind of athleticism and determination? How on earth can a human being run 26 miles in 2 hours? It's beautiful. And while they didn't throw down any 4 minute miles, my friends that went out there and put in blazing times totally inspire me, too. Anyway, next year I'm taking work of and going in to watch - something like that just has to be seen.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Is a Blogpost

Ahh, Saturday. Ever since I rearranged my work schedule and don't have to work on Saturday mornings, the day has gotten a lot lazier. Two weeks ago I worked from 6 AM to 10 AM, then came home and did an 80 mile solo bike ride. It was rad. I felt good about life. Today I'm sitting around writing a blog post that no one will read and drinking coffee. Later I will ride for 3-4 hours. Tomorrow I have a 95 mile ride planned, but it snowed here yesterday so I'm giving the northern roads that I plan on venturing to a day to melt and dry off. It should be lovely today, as well as tomorrow - high of 45ยบ! I know, heat wave in California right now, 80 in Reno, 45 feels pretty good to me after wading through 4" of slush yesterday. Blech.

Cody's away for work for another week in Philadelphia - doesn't even get to come home for the weekend! Bunk. So I'm left to my socially reclusive self. Sweet. Me and the dog, cats, and my bikes of course. Bikes are good company.

I went to the dentist yesterday for the first time in 10.5 years. Yes, 10 and a half years. The last time I went was December of 2000. Before I graduated high school. Yes, I said 10.5 years. Sorry, everyone always does a double take when I say that, but I want you to know that it's no typo. In spite of my relaxed approach to oral hygiene and my infrequent (haha, understatement) dental check ups, my mouth is in pretty rad shape. I went in because I lost a filling in August 2009 and it has hurt ever since. Yeah, I know, I'm an idiot to have waited so long to check it out, but my state of employment has been spotty in the interim. Anyway, that one needs a root canal (I know, I'm totally terrified, too) but otherwise I must be doing something right. I know, no one gives a shit about my visit to the dentist, but I'm pretty psyched that I don't need 10K worth of work so I'm sharing it with the world. yay me!

And if you've made it this far then you deserve to be rewarded by my mediocre photography. Enjoy.

This is my back yard. Literally. Pretty freaking gorgeous, no? Now maybe some understanding of why the HELL I live in this tick-infested, ice covered, 3rd-world-country-quality-roads region of New England.

Since Cody is gone for another week we downloaded Skype and got to have a video conversation. It's weird being able to see a little picture of myself while I talk, and I honestly found it so distracting looking at my doofy facial expressions that I spent more time looking at myself than him. I know, I know . . .

And finally! The first photo I've ever taken of my food that looks even remotely appetizing, even though I set my food on the floor amongst the varmints to do so (yes, my floor consists of mostly-painted plywood - I live in a barn, what do you want from me?). Or, so I think, but maybe that's because I got to eat it and it was AWESOME! It was my first attempt at Vietnamese food - brown rice vermicelli over farm-fresh New England lettuce (grown in a green house - it's nice having a not-brother-in-law who is running a CSA this year) with cucumbers that are probably from Mexico. Anyway, that one has baked tofu and a dressing with rice wine vinegar, carrots, and some other stuff. And then topped with copious amounts of Sriracha, of course.

Continuing my attempt to cook food that isn't Italian/Mexican/American I purchased some Bob's Red Mill teff flour at the store yesterday and tried to make some Ethiopian food. Erm, I don't think I did the injera right (you know, the pancake that you scoop everything up with) because it didn't ever really set and just turned into a gross teff flour pudding. Uck. No. But I cooked some lentils and made a salad with the most bomb-tastic (wasn't life better when we could say that things were 'da bomb' without ridicule? Yes, yes it was) dressing that was just as good as the stuff that I got at the Ethiopian place in Reno (which is GREAT and you should go there and try it - Zagol, on 4th St.). Anyway, I must figure out how to make proper injera, and then I'll try to take another appetizing floor-photo.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not a Blogpost

Yeah, I'm slacking. But I figured I'd go race last weekend and have some great report about that. Sadly, no. Might I suggest that if you want to go to your first race of the season with only 3 weeks of base training in your legs, you might want to start with something easier than jumping in with P1/2 men (unless you are a p1/2 man, of course). Dude, they were attacking off the line. What the hell? I didn't make it too far, but I'm totally OK with that. You can't be bummed with your fitness when you haven't been doing your homework.

Anyway, I have some pictures and stuff to post, but I'm more interested in getting out on my bike ride this afternoon than attending to my blog. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that I posted my 2011 Season Goals on the sidebar. Please ridicule me extensively should I fail to achieve these goals, especially if the failure is due to my own misconduct (i.e. eating an entire bowl of cookie dough, not training, not stretching, not foam rolling, etc.). However, if I flat in the time trial at the Green Mountain Stage Race and have to walk the whole thing, please don't ridicule me. It will probably make me cry, and then we'll both feel awkward.