Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Religion of Round ~ my personal Sacrilege

Sunday mornings used to be a charade of tidy dresses, best behavior, and sermon topics of varying degrees of interest. Over time, the dedication and beliefs that kept me in the pews started to crack, until they crumbled away completely. To me, Church was somehow always an exercise in the hypocritical, and I finally found my peace that allowed me to walk away. Besides, is there not a far greater Presence to be witnessed in Nature, away from all the trappings of man-made constraints? And so it was this past Sunday, as I made my way to my new church - the church of round and around of physical effort - that I realized that this part of my life has settled into a new kind of worship.

Each week a rotation of cycling events - race, rest, train, train, race, train. Each week, each day, each Event a new opportunity to know myself, to push harder and find someone even stronger inside. Some days tax the brain, others the lungs or the legs, or any combination thereof. Some extra days require rest, and it has taken effort to realize that if I Need to rest, I can do so without guilt. Sometimes life's activities take precedence, and that is Okay. I am accountable to myself. The bike does not judge. Nor does it lie or flatter - it is honesty without apology.

Adding a power tap to the process simply maximizes the knowledge of effort over time. I received this note from my coach:
don't think I didn't notice those new PRs last week... cos I saw them!!! Nice job...
Now I have to admit - I don't know Where those new personal records came from. I would have to go dig thru my numbers to figure out when, or on which ride, they occurred. Once I received more details - I found not only did I set new PRs, but I set 6 of them! Of note - my 5s is just two points shy of 800 watts. This amazes me. 6 months ago I would have told you it was improbable or impossible - that it would require 3x the effort than I had time to perform. And yet, here I am - having grown by leaps and bounds over prior years. So when someone asks if Coaching is worth it? Every Penny, my friend. Am I as good as I could be? No where near. Am I as fit as I could be? Am I eating right & sleeping enough? Not nearly. But my balance of effort and results and joie de vivre is very nearly in harmony.

And so on Sundays, I take my wheels to the Velodrome. We warm up, lap after lap after lap. The body wakes up, the mind focuses and relaxes and the body melds with the bike which melds with the concrete bowl. Hard efforts push the mind to challenge just how fast and hard the legs can push. To break thru the barrier of what you Think is possible, and what you can really do. The reward is the taste of iron in the back of your mouth, gasping, lungs nearly heaving out, and fits of coughing. These tell me I've reached a limit - one that Next time will be even further away before I'm spent. That even tho my scalp & extremities are cold and numb against the heat, I can recover and push just as hard again and again. This is simply training, improving, and knowing myself.

Tho the flat circuit at PIR is vastly different from Alpenrose, I take my strengths with me. On the road I can attack or chase, and recover. I can focus my breathing to slow my heart. I'm learning to control the panic, to calm the body, to be comfortable sitting more than 3 places back. I hide from the wind, I ride with wheels mere inches from my competitors. And as I prepare for the sprint, as the pace picks up thru the bell lap, I am just as aware. After yesterday's worship, I know where my limit is, and I promise myself that I will hit it before I let someone beat me. We're racing clockwise, in the final turn (map mark 11), I see a two person attack thru my peripheral vision - I jump out of the line and follow them until their strength fades. This has dumped me into the wind, alone, just before the bridge. Instantly I know I'm alone for the finish. There is no lead out, and slowing is not an option. Out of the saddle, digging for speed and hopefully creating a gap so I'm not the lead out for anyone else. I sit, legs turning over quickly. No one is immediately on my wheel - the finish still very far away.

The wind is strong, I push on. I tuck down, making myself smaller. I will be as small of a windbreak as possible, anyone behind me gets to suffer. And then I am overcome with Calm. My path is straight, my legs turn faster and faster. I'm breathing easily, my focus in front and not an inch of sway in my form. As the finish approaches, crowd noises start to break in. A quick glance left, and I can see two bikes getting closer. I push faster, I hear someone shouting "Throw!" but I've not practiced it at this speed. I just power thru until I cross the line. First. Fairly certain, tho I didn't waste any effort looking over my shoulder to watch it... but confirmed shortly after. I gave it my all, and trust that it was enough. The crush of noise breaks in now - crowds screaming, lungs gasping, legs starting to burn from the effort. I start to slow, make my way over to the grass and stop. I drape my arms and upper body over the handle bars and recover my breathing. That was hard, but it was mine. I did what I needed to do.

I pick myself up, and see my husband - grinning from ear to ear - riding toward me. This is my prize. His joy and excitement, my confidence and accomplishment. This is the momentary payoff. Tomorrow I return to the round, the cycle of training, and the next race. Knowing a bit more about myself, growing, celebrating life thru what I can do. Amen.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Riding

An afternoon ride. (sharp eyes might notice the pony tail is Gone!)

Rows & Rows of blueberries
They're getting ripe - won't be long now!
And there is still plenty of Rhubarb growing!

The wheat is turning gold, the purple clover is blooming. Aaah, summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Miscellaneous Race Notes

There is only one more race at PIR for the June series - last night was the standard boring but safe 5 laps, followed by a lap of positioning and a sprint finish. Received my first lead out by a team mate, held her wheel a bit too long (eased off as she faded instead of powering thru - lesson learned) and ended up with 3rd. I'm glad our race was safe - tho it wasn't as kind to the Men's 1-2-3 field. Much less frustrating than last week's neutralized-thru-the-last-turns fiasco.

thanks to Jeff for grabbing some shots!

I've been out to the track as weather & training schedules allow. The new bike is such a significant improvement over the rentals, it's silly. My skills? I wish they improved as drastically. After a fabulous anniversary tandem ride, my body was very sore which made for a difficult practice. One really hard effort and it freaked me out - legs and brain shut down, all that energy went to hyper breathing that took about two laps to recover from. Need to figure out what it feels like to push thru that kind of effort. And even tho it looks like I hate it out there, that is far from true. I'm frustrated that I feel like such a novice, that progress is slow, and that the strength and endurance that I want to draw on simply vanish.

Other Favorite Things

Food websites
my iPhone & various free apps

warm weather menus, full of grilled meats, salads, and simple whole foods

the new Love stamps

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mixin' drinks

I recently saw a fruit salad dressing that mixed simple syrup, lime juice, chopped mint, and almond extract. This was so similar to a mojito, that it had to be explored.

Introducing the Amarejito!

Muddle fresh mint with turbinado sugar and lime juice. Add Amaretto, top with club soda. Sweet and delicious!

But - could this be topped, perhaps?

Apparently, yes. Just add a strawberry when muddling, and mix well. Divine!

Friday, June 12, 2009


A few more snaps of the bike, complete with custom filters ala iphone apps. Nearly a match to the car! Tonight ~ off to the races.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Super Fly

Introducing: my new track bike!

This one isn't subtle. Lots of blue, a little red, and ready to roll. Tomorrow we'll ride out for the first time. I've been warned that the wheels will Not sneak up on anyone. They will announce my intentions with Authoritay!

I'm giddy.

When I left her, the seat post was on order and handle bars were getting some love. Tomorrow we'll dial it in. And then... we'll Fly!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Tempest

Summery blue sky marred by heavy gray. Rainfall coats the horizon in a blur.
The air smells of energy and pre-rain, as the fields eerily vanish beneith a ghostly layer of pollen and dust. The wind is upon us.

Trees bowing to the ferocity, whipped over by the strength of this sudden storm. Broadcast croaks out the warning - this is not a test. At home, loose objects are stored, windows are shut, and we sit safely inside. Waiting out the storm, watching from safe distances the raw and terrible power it holds.

We are safe, but awed. It is a lasting moment - reminding us that nothing is to be taken for granted. It is a refocusing of our perception, it washes clean the air. Gone is the lightening, gone the dangerous winds.

Returned are the birds, the smells of early summer, the cool of late spring evenings.

A tempest, reflecting life, reflecting those moments where everything changes, yet everything is very much as it was. It is only our outlook, our awareness, our response.


For our club member Bruce who fell so brutally on Tuesday - continue to heal. Continue to fight. We continue to hope for lasting good news.

For KMac, we are so glad that you are on the rebound. Continue to bounce back, we know you'll return stronger than ever.

For my own arrogance - settle down. The arm pain is not tendinitis as expected, so it was of benefit that I had this checked. Nothing lasting, now that I know the cause, but something that will take a bit to heal from.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Good, Bad, and Ugly

Fantastic club ride on Saturday. Weather was beautiful, and riding with friends can't be beat. We rode the Cedar Canyon loop in reverse, and it is simply a gorgeous ride. Once we finished, I made my way downtown, paid $10 for a parking space due to all of the activities in the area, and put down a deposit on my new track bike. So very excited!

The next day I joined Bike Central again at Alpenrose, this time riding With the group, rather than simply nearby. Many many laps, hard efforts, and good times later, I was tired. The day was getting hot and the tendinitis that was bothering my right arm was getting worse. I did my own mini cool down, and promptly got out of the sun. I grabbed food on the way home, iced my arm, and waited to hear how Matt's TTT went.

By Monday I was tired. Typing and holding a pencil or eating utensil were challenges. I started looking for excuses not to race, but packed up the car anyway. Thank goodness for a husband that keeps me on track! My few warm up laps are good - I put in a standing sprint effort, and take note of where I intend to start. It is difficult to shift, and ask a friend if he thinks I should race - conclusion is Yes, since braking isn't a problem. I chat with friends I've only met at PIR (Lisa, Anne, shoot me an email or find me on facebook!) and we prepare to race.

The first three laps are an uneventful paceline. #1 and #2 trade position a few times, but nothing else. I'm pretty sure I told myself how boring it was a few hundred times, but I was pleased to maintain 6th position and to keep the watts very low. There is one little effort on lap 4, I chased on, and then the bell rings a lap early. Things get a little more chaotic, but there is always a wheel for me to follow and I stay with those leading the pace. We turn into the wind one last time, exit, and here comes the sprint. Two go, just to my left. I pick up the pace, staying just behind (after deciding neither are my lead out) but keep a free line open. My personal sprint line approaches, and I try to shift. No one else is coming up, my competition is ahead of me. The hand simply can't push the lever over, so I stand up anyway for two or three quick revolutions, and back to seated. The two are a bit further ahead of me now, so I tuck in and push. The gap closes, the girl to the outside is falling back and there is only one more. She's close to the line, I keep pushing, and manage to get my wheel in front by the time we reach the finish. Wow. First win, from a seated spin in the same gear the prior 4 laps were raced in.

Then this morning the bad news started to roll in. Big crash in the women's Open field. Looks like Kristin is on the mend, and our hearts and prayers are with her for a full & speedy recovery.

And the ugly.

Just as that good news rolls in, word hits that one of our senior riders was in a freak wreck during the day's ride. A stick in the front wheel resulted in a broken bike which tossed him and left extensive injuries. From another rider's report:
"It is serious. Fortunately, our group of about 20 included two nurses - one with E.R. experience -- and a doctor. Paramedics responded to 911 call in maybe 10 minutes. Seemed like forever. Bruce's condition improved somewhat just before ambulance evac, but it is serious. We await some report from the SW Medical Center, just off Mill Plain" --D.K.
Bruce - our prayers are with you.

As beautiful as cycling is, the accidents can be tragic. To everyone ~ stay safe, stay upright, and ride on.