Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our team colors are blue and black, with a splash of Red

And so is my body.

Ouch. Sunday Matt and I went for a skills ride around our neighborhood, rather than driving to the far side of town for our race. M was pretty tired and would have had to rush for a morning race, and I knew I'd bonk after having not eaten enough the day before.

So we roll over to the elementary school. Roll, jump off, jump on. Starts. Sprint starts around the soccer goals. And then, off into the woods for a little off road trail ride. In an area we have never ridden. We used to live on the same block as these trails, but never even walked them - so it was all new. We avoided one very steep downhill for one significantly less. I was on point, M providing a significant gap so that we wouldn't form a tangled heap were something to go wrong. I made it to the bottom okay, and as I was transitioning to pedal and work my way up, I could feel it. I was about to fall. I don't know how or why, but I couldn't avoid it. Tipping... and down.

My hip is resting on a small log. My torso is lower than my hip, my entire body on a bed of thorny weeds, my bike partially attached by the cleats. I try to assess - how can I push out of this without embedding the thorns thru my gloves? Where is the nearest clear patch? Where is Matt? I'm partially upside down, moving slowly, and Matt still hasn't come around the bend yet. Oh - there he is. He sees me down, and the 'What happened?' starts to flow.

I find my way upright, check my body and gear for holes, do a quick mental check on just how many new bruises this one will be, and start to brush it off. I'm holding my bike, but don't even notice the right shifter is now 45 degrees inside the handle bars from the original location. Funny... I landed on my left. Did I up & over?

He starts to pull tiny, thorny orbs off my jersey and short, out of my hair, and still trying to ask what happened. I dunno. I just - found the ground in a hurry. I'm starting to think this bike likes to throw me. She's a spirited pony, and with the smallest provocation will toss me off her back.

Got back up, fixed the shifter with help from a neighbor, then did some follow the leader turns and off camber training.

Cumulative damage? Left forearm & elbow road rash. Forearm will be bruised - it's lumpy. Scratch on back, fairly minor. Left hip - goose egg bruise, indigo and splotchy. Also a possible thorn or sliver. Right trap a little dull soreness. Left knee scratched & bruised.

Tonight - CX Clinic. Time to figure out these skills, and make peace with keeping my bike upright.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weddings are Magical

I won't lie - there was a ton of stress leading up to this wedding. I was certain there would be a sitcom series worth of bloopers to report on. As we drove from the hair salon and last-minute food stop to the garden, I thought the bride was going to yammy in my handbag. Making a sudden stop at the yellow light so as not to hit the pedestrians ready to jump out was more than her frazzled nerves could handle.

Getting dressed took longer than expected. We couldn't start early with the lace up, as the garden was still open to the public and our changing room was part of the location. Once we were in, we found we needed an extra 40 minutes over what was scheduled. By the time I was lacing up the second corset dress, my hands were shaking. Darn it! I'd eaten a large, chickeny lunch to make sure this wouldn't happen, but what can you do? We chased out Grandma and an Aunt or two that thought they'd waltz in and take photos of the bride changing. Guess what? Wrong! I didn't see them, but they (and I'm sure, everyone in the garden) heard our barking "GET OUT! GET OUT! No, Get OUT!" Fortunatley, they did, and everything proceeded along.

Once we were dressed and the photos began, calmness settled in. The bride relaxed in her groom's arms. The guests, mostly family, were content to wait until called upon. Everyone relaxed, and after a quick photo session we went back for one final makeup touch-up, dress adjustment, and then the ceremony began.

It was magic. Sweetly short and sentimental. "I do!" oops, not time yet. "I still do!" Absolutely charming!

The kiss, then the reception, the toasts and cake, some dancing, and a lovely night. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful, the bride could not have been more radiant, the night couldn't have been more perfect.

E & R ~ Congratulations!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It is a New Autumn

Fall is here. Leaves change in earnest, and the first bright grey and rainy day confirms it. But this year is different. More is changing that the seasons.

A different bike, different shoes, different wheels, and taking it all off road. A whole different mindset.

This is my first cyclocross season. My limbs echo the changing colors - yellow bruises on my shoulder and forearm from shouldering what originally seemed a light bike. My right thigh has a horizontal bruise half way up - from slamming in to the very hard edge of the saddle as I attempt a flying remount, and fail. My knees blue and purple and brown and yellow and gross from falling four times on the practice lap at Alpenrose. This sport is beating me up. I want to love it. I want to get out there and be amazing, to ride and fly like an 8 year old again. But I haven't been 8 for a very long time, as Gravity reminds me. I try to keep happy - keep practicing, keep telling the voice to shut up every time it cries that this hurts. I practice, and try to ignore just how much I suck.

I'm the awkward dork, trying to look cool and confident. And failing while flailing.

This was supposed to by my event. I was supposed to take to CX like- well, any cliche will do. But I'm not good. My two Kermesse attempts were slow and faulty. I did finish, but there was no glory. I should have kicked butt. I should not have been rolling across the finish next to an upright, propper girl in a skirt.

So I tell myself that Autumn has just begun. It is a Long season of change. I must embrace the field for what it is. The weather for whatever it brings. I must get intense ~ and prepared. There is a lot of racing on the schedule, and I haven't found my confidence. I don't know how to set my intensity in race. I need to overcome the mechanical excuses that keep me slow. But mostly, I need to get out of my head.

All of a sudden Autumn is here, and I'm not sure I'm ready.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

September Mornings

I wake to chilly air. I snuggle deeper under the down comforter.

Morning sun sits low on the horizon - cool, pale yellows glowing thru the blue and white mottled sky. More trees are turning, some rapidly, others merely painting the topmost leaves in orange and yellow. A blanket of mist hangs over the fields. Steam slowly rises from the pond.

September is here.

CX Prep

I have a purple and yellow bruise splattering my left hip from a fall in the Kermesse back on the 24th. I also have scratch on the outside of my right leg, halfway between knee & ankle, from learning how to do CX one leg balance, dismounts, etc. I have learned:
  • I can scratch and bruise myself without ever falling off the bike
  • my saddle is sticky - and I look like an idiot when my thigh sticks to the top of the saddle as I'm "snapping it over"
  • I need a lot more flexibility, and a little more strength + range of motion for lifting the bike
  • I'm not graceful running over barriers. yet
  • Eggbeaters don't let me step thru and then unclip - getting stuck in that position is painful
The first CX clinic of the year was heavily attended, particularly with noobs.. CX is going to be HUGE this year. And my husband has done an amazing job of keeping the organization and momentum of Pain on the Peak on track to be the premeire event of the season.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Monday Ride

I woke up tired and eventually let the dogs out. It's cold. There is blue sky westward, but looking east and the direction of our ride, it's overcast. I pile on both sunscreen and armwarmers, pack the windvest, and decide against the wool cap. I know that I am looking forward to the cool autumn days, but I'm not quite ready to ride in it. The wool jersey comes along to throw on after the ride - tho I'm tempted more than a few times to layer it on.

We join up with the Monday crew. Numbers are larger than normal thanks to the Holiday. I'm cold. I'm bloated from stuffing myself on fabulous food the night before... artichoke, salad, roast beast sandwich with au jus, corn on the cob, and double dessert. A fig galette and a left over cupcake. So delicious! I SO need this ride. We mill about until 9, and roll.

Less than a mile in and we're climbing. Cold legs. Cold, slow, rock like legs turn over, and I'm already summoning the power of last night's dinner. I ate a ton, making sure I had enough protein and nutrients to fuel this ride so I wouldn't bonk like Saturday. Mile 1.5 and I'm talking to myself. Come on, meat. I ate you for a reason. C'mon meat sammich. My legs are moving over and over, but not spinning. My gears tapped out, and I'm slugging up the hill at Zero cadence. No, wait, the new monitor finally reads 55. Yep, slow and steady, off the back. I summon YOU, Cupcake! Make use of your mighty calories! What is this, Pokemon or a ride?! But it works, and I turn the cranks over a tiny bit faster. Around a corner, more hills, and Matt is itching to take off with the racers. I know Doug will keep an eye on me, so I tell Matt to go. He sprints up, has a quick convo with Doug and then is off the front with Springer & Crew.

My legs are still very cold. I'm (way) off the back and I see Coach Doug noodling, waiting for me, so I don't miss the turn. We eventually catch one or two others, and form a groupetto. More climbs. I glance down at the new gloves I'm trying. Suddenly the "Ironclad" label fills my mind with a new theme song. For the next 15 miles, all I can think is I - Am - Ironman! NA na NA na NA na na, IRON MAN!" I'm pretty sure it was a Homer Simpson voiceover.

We get thru LakeO and catch the rest of our group that have pulled over for a mechanical. 10 or 15 minutes later we're cold, and rolling again. Mitch is now my wing man, offering encouragement and a preview of every road along the way. I've got two club mates keeping me on their wheel, and they never make me feel like I'm holding them back. My coach keeps working to make me stronger - he picks the hills that should be attacked, sets the speed on the flats, drops nuggets of advice, and ensures that I recover so I'm ready for the next one. Mitch sweeps me along, behind or just off my wheel - I feel protected from traffic and safely guided en route.

We turn up Wisteria. They say this is the really tough climb - they've been talking about it the entire way out here. I don't look at distance, my only focus is this moment and working thru. I know there is more to come, but I can't focus on that. So I climb. There are a few steep patches, it's a moderately long climb, but not nearly what it was talked up to be. Suddenly it's over ~ I know I was the slowest, but it was strong and steady. And now, finally, my legs are warm. I cautiously fly down the hill, looking for the sharp turn that everyone is warning me about. I get to the end, and I still can't figure it out... tho some of the guys are talking about it. Doug starts to chuckle, he knows that descent was more my style. We're off again, and I'm feeling strong. Finally. I keep eating little bits of food to sustain this heavy work. I realize how beautiful it is to ride like this and not fear that my knee will implode.

The final few miles start to wear on me. I try not to complain out loud, but my brain is ticking off all the little pains. Right butt-bone. Lower back. Right thumb. Legs.. pretty much every muscle from gleuts down. I'm tired, and it's worse knowing we're on the final stretch. I know enough that we're close so my mind and body are shutting down. But I have no idea where we are, no familiarity that would allow a final surge to the end.

Suddenly it's over. I roll around the block to our car, and within seconds Matt walks over with an Americano and two mystery pastries scavanged from the sparse bakery case. I trade out my jersey for wool, cleats for trainers, empty hands for coffee, and look forward to sitting with the group. I'm tired, but I finished. I didn't give up. I didn't bonk. Today I trained - I put in those vertical miles that will help make the next round that much easier.

Dark Chocolate Orange Macadamia Nut Cupcakes

My Dad loves both chocolate orange and macadamia nuts. I decided that those together would make for a great cupcake. I need to go research food contest rules and see if this is something I can claim for myself and submit. I modified a cake recipe, then put it together with a chocolate whipped cream and chocolate ganache topping. Once I figure out if this qualifies, I'll follow up with details on where I'm submitting, along with my modified recipe. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Dad!