Thursday, December 16, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Nothin' to do no where to go-o-oh, I wanna be sedated
Just get me to the OR, give me something for the pain
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain
Oh no no no no no
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
However, a week and a half later I don't remember a lot of what I was going to say about JJ's and the BCB. Basically, Java Johnny's had the big, intimidating 60ish person field that I mentioned in my last post. Unfortunately, I couldn't muster Adam's swagger, and I found myself REALLY intimidated on the starting line. I would say that my start was not great and not terrible, but with that many people, not great still puts you 20 places back at the first turn and near stopping through all the little chicanes leading to the first sandpit. I did pretty well at getting off, running the sandpit as fast I could, and taking off again, but I messed up going into the steep ridge that we had to ride over twice in succession early in the lap. I just couldn't power myself up, and had to run it. We hit the mid-lap twisty section and I was determined to use my cornering skills to make my way back to the upper mid-pack, but there were nuts all over the bases of the trees and I ended up crashing not once, but twice, before the middle section of the first lap was complete. By the time I got myself upright and going the second time, I well behind the group of racers I wanted to be with and had to motivate myself to pick through the back of the pack. I made up a few places, but I still ended up 22 out of 27 which was disappointing.
In the background making my barrier face.
The next day I did the 60 mile route of the Brown County Breakdown. I'd never done this ride before, because it always conflicts with the Cincinnati UCI 3 weekend, but this year I gave up racing on my old favorite CX course at Harbin Park because I knew I needed to get in a long training ride before the Berryman Epic. It was hot and dusty to the point that the trails were kind of slick from dust instead of mud, but overall it was a pretty good day. I overcooked myself a bit early on trying not to slow down the long train of riders making their way through the North Tower Loop, Aynes Loop, and up to Hesitation Point. I have a fun moment going up Hesitation Point when I rode the S-shaped rock garden and most of the guys around me didn't.
After the first aid station at HP, the traffic got a lot more sparse and I settled in for a few hours of riding by myself at a comfortable but solid pace. My goal had been to go under 7 hours, mostly because I figure that going under 7 hours at the Brown County Breakdown is an important step to my long wished-for sub-7 hour finish at the Ouachita Challenge. I did okay through the ride, but I did struggle some during the last two hours. I ended up going about 7:25, but I also spent more time at the rest stops than I would have in a race, so it wasn't too bad. It was at least enough to make me feel confident that my riding once or twice a week plus racing CX on Sundays training plan of the two months hasn't left me too under prepared for the Berryman Epic.
It really is looking like what I told Jason back in August: Even if I train really hard, I probably won't get on the podium at the BTE, and if I focus on 'cross and just do a couple of long rides I'll still probably do okay. That may seem like a little bit of a defeatist attitude, but I'm actually mostly happy with the way things are going now. I'm not highly motivated to train, but I'm enjoying racing. So if I can't just squeeze one more month of fun out of my residual fitness from earlier in the season I will be happy. Then I'll buckle down and start getting into serious preparation for the spring endurance races again.
Spinning on some dirt road at the Brown County Breakdown.
Finally, Sunday was my first opportunity to race "above ground" cyclocross in my hometown at BloomingCross, since I missed the inaugural BloomingCross last year when I was at the Pisgah Stage Race. Besides being a home race, I was also excited because a lot people were taking the weekend off between the Cincinnati UCI 3 and the USGP Louisville. That would mean a smaller field and a shot at a top 5 or, on a really good day, podium for me. Regardless, I was looking forward to being able to tell what was going on in my race after the previous weekend's giant jumble. I pre-rode the course on Saturday and I determined that while all of the wide, flat straightaways weren't going to help my case, that if I could get a good start and make it the rideable sandpit about a minute into the course with good speed, that it could still be a good day for me.
Unfortunately, I must have spent too much time thinking about this plan, because standing in the staging area, I was ready to throw up. When the whistle blew, I stood to sprint to the front, but I seemed to be going in slow motion. I was just pedaling and watching racers come around me from the row behind, and thinking "Noooooo!" By the time, I hit the pavement downhill before the sandpit, I was in next-to-last out of the women and had several of the juniors that started behind us clogging the way. I still tried to get enough speed to ride the sandpit, but it's hard to do with that many people in front of you. I had to dismount and run the rest, at which time was I passed by the last place women putting me DFL with some juniors preventing my immediate catch-and-repass. In the end, I did get my top 5, but that was because there were only 7 starters in my class, one dropped out after I passed her, and I passed another for next-to-last. I was pretty bummed about my missed opportunity, but hopefully two weeks away from 'cross and a 55 mile trip through the Ozark mountains will bring me back to Storm the Greens in costume and with my head on straight.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The good news is that I was at least listening for the whistle this time and had shifted into my big ring for the start, but I was still a little slow to react and was already 10-15 places back by the first turn. I shoved my way back through the twisty section up to the barriers, but my first time over sucked pretty bad. I messed up my remount as my bike wobbled over into one of the stakes holding the course tape while I tried to clip back in. I lost back nearly as many places as I'd gained in the turns while I got off, backed out of the tape, and did remount number two.
Once I was on my way, I made up a couple of places again, but then I was back to trying to catch the only girl in sight through the next couple of laps. Once again, I was faster in the turns and she was faster in the straights. I got in front of her right before the second pass through the barriers, but she quickly repassed me and was never really in striking distance again after that. I ended up 9th out 15 AG and 13th out 23 overall, so it was a lot like last time place wise. Unfortunately, it seems that I keep burying myself with the 35+ field, so even though I'm close to the top half of my field place-wise, I think I have a pretty big time gap I need to overcome. Hopefully, this will get a little easier as the season progresses and I start to learn to who look for in the opening melee.
Speaking of melees, the Cat 3/4 women will get our own time slot for the Cincinnati UCI 3 races this weekend, and we will be the first race of the day. I'm only doing the Saturday race, but that's going to be the biggest field, since there are already 27 women pre-reg'ed in the 3/4 Open class and 29 in the 35+ for a total of 56. Add in a few day-of registrations, and there will likely be 60 women on the starting grid. I get a little nervous thinking about this, although I can't explain exactly why. I'm not really afraid of the bumping and jostling at the start, because I'm usually the bumper and jostler. I am a bit of afraid of having to work my way through a lot of traffic if I'm less than on point during the opening frenzy, as I have been the last two times out. Mostly, I think I'm just intimidated because 60 is so darn big (and sorta awesome). It's almost like being a dude for the day.
Guess I need to channel my dude's attitude:
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I tried to sneak out on the course for a lap between the men's 4's race and the 10-12-year-old race. However, I was confused about the course, and a guy showed me where to sneak in after the finish so that I could not interfere with the 4's but wouldn't have to wait until they all cleared the course. We rode together while previewing the course, and when we came to sand pit, I tried to ride through, even though it was very deep sand with no good line. I explained to the guy that coming from a mountain bike background, I feel like I'm more stubborn about trying to ride stuff, even when it might be faster run. Therefore my new MTBer on a CX bike motto: Imma ride it, dammit!
The course was bone dry and and had lots of swoopy bermy turns and I actually found myself whooping a couple of times through my practice lap. It was probably the best mood I've been in before a 'cross race in a long time. I was in my element. However, I didn't realize that they had already taped off the big hill for the juniors' race when I was preriding, so it was kind of a nasty shock during my actual race. My new joke is that the juniors' course at Kings CX is my favorite course (I liked the half-size barriers, too).
I came to line in a jovial mood, it may have worked to my disadvantage because I was a little too relaxed. I was joking around when the whistle blew and had a pretty delayed reaction time clipping in. I also realized that the medium-sized gear that I thought would be appropriate turned out to be too easy and I lost a lot places really fast. I was stuck behind a lot racers during the first swoopy section and was not able to make up the ground there. Then I bobbled the first time up the big hill, because I wasn't prepared and the 38 tooth small ring that New New came with is still kind of difficult for my wussy little legs on some occasions. A bouncy unclipped-in trip downhill and another trip back up left me redlined as I prepared for the first trip through the sand pit. I tried to gather as much speed as I could and thought, "Imma ride it, dammit!", only to bog down about a third of the way through and fall over as I tried to do an emergency dismount. Fail.
After I got up, I composed myself, railed some swoopies, and actually started to do okay. I passed a couple of girls, and battled with another who slower than me in the turns and faster in the straights for the most of the race, but in the end I got to the finish first and almost overtook another girl sprinting to the line. I ended up 8th out of 13 in my age group and 16th out of 27 out of all of the 3/4 women combined. I was still a couple of places short of adding a "Top 50%" to my page on crossresults.com, but I'm pretty sure I've never done better than next-to-last in a CX race so 10th from last is a big improvement. I feel like it might have even been my Bill Brubaker moment, and that I have a good shot at breaking the top half next time out if I just pay attention at the start, kill it on the accelerations, and keep the negative thoughts at bay.
This weekend is the last one without a race until December and I will be spending it my mom, who's coming to visit. I'm excited about hanging out with her, but I'm already counting the days until the Tour de Louisville, where I will get another chance to see if this is the year I really do stop sucking at 'cross.
Monday, September 13, 2010
I'm not really sure where to start, which is probably why I've been blogless for four weeks.
Several times over the past few months, during my perusal of not completely cycling related blogs and general falling down the Internet rabbit hole, I have stumbled upon the website Mark's Daily Apple. My initial reaction was something along the lines of "So...what? These people just eat big hunks of meat and vegetables? I'm not really a fan of meat and vegetables."
Yet, I kept finding my way back usually through various other sources saying that grains are eevill. Then I would have to wonder about the fact that I was frequently struck with "I HAVE TO EAT NOW" urges in the middle of the workday, not to mention the sudden obsessive thoughts about cookies/cake/ice cream that would not go away until I'd eaten copious amounts of the offensive material. I also came to terms with the fact that my dislike of meat and vegetables came from my 'rexy days as a college distance runner where too many meals consisted of grilled boneless skinless chicken breast and steamed broccoli. All the sudden I was reading that I could eat the roasted thighs of an organic free-range chicken with broccoli sauteed in real butter and it probably would not kill me or make me fat. It actually sounded kind of tasty and I figured it couldn't be any worse for my health that what binge-eating would do when my luck finally ran out. (Luck is the only real explanation for why I am not severely overweight.)
I really can't remember what exactly prompted the trigger pull, but four weeks ago I got my butt out of bed on a Saturday morning and headed to the farmer's market to stock up on organic meat and vegetables. The next day was the pilgrimage to Chicago to see baby Ramona, so I had one last day of "non-primal" food consumption. Then I woke up Monday morning and replaced my usual oatmeal with two eggs scrambled with nitrate-free bacon, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers, as well as berries topped with real cream. I'd known I'd be sad about giving up the oatmeal, so breakfast became quite a "go big or go home" affair. I lost three pounds during the first week, and really had no carbohydrate cravings, except for the oatmeal-related sadness that passed after four or five days.
But then there was the whole "bike" part of the equation, and it took much more of a hit than I had expected. At the end of the first week I went for a night ride at Versailles with a group of people that I didn't know very well, but I'd received a Facebook invitation and thought it might be fun to get to know them. However, I really struggled on the ride, and bonked so hard that I was nauseous when I got home and it took four days off the bike before I stopped feeling weak and shaky. I heard that this was called the "low carb flu", and I started adding some sweet potatoes to my breakfast since it appeared that I'd overdone it a bit.
At the end of the second week I thought I felt pretty good and did the final DINO race at SWW Park. It soon became clear that I had a lot less gas in the tank than I thought I did, and I basically just had to force myself to keep going through the race. That was followed by another week of lackluster training that lead up to Labor Day, when I went for a 1.5 hour ride at Wapehani and came home shaking and exhausted like after the Versailles night ride. Then came super achey muscles, headaches, and sore throat to the point that I called in sick to work on Wednesday. Despite the fact that my emotional relationship with food was starting to look pretty darn healthy, I became very frustrated that my body was not feeling healthy at all, and I started to panic about the DINO 6 hour race that was just a couple of days away.
When I returned to work on Thursday, I started to tell my office mate about how I was feeling without any mention of my recent dietary changes. It turned out that she had the exact same symptoms at almost the exact same time as I did. It may sounds funny, but I was actually pretty happy to discover that I'd probably had an actual germ-related illness rather than an ugly carbohydrate-related slump. By Friday I was pain free, and I just crossed my fingers that my legs would carry me through Saturday's 6 hour race.
And they did. I had to be pretty careful to not overdo it on the climbs during the first half of the race, but luckily Versailles has enough flat twisty sections that I was able to still go relatively fast without having to produce mega watts. I was in a world of pain during the fourth lap, and slowed down a lot more than last year, but in the end, I completed my four-lap race about 8 minutes faster than last year. I was probably 30-40 minutes slower than I would have been a few weeks ago, but really I was just happy that I was able to keep going the whole 6 hours.
I know that wasn't much of a race report buried in the middle of such a long post, but I guess it was finally time to come out an say all the things I have avoided the blog for four weeks to avoid saying. I guess I'm just self-conscious, because I'm terrible about suddenly jumping into "big ideas" and then having to admit that they resulted in epic failure. I'd really wanted to keep mum about the semi radical experiment that I've been performing on my body, but I guess it's better to just tell the truth than to try to vaguely explain away four weeks of sudden lack of bike power.
My weight has been holding steady since the first week, but my sudden lack of interest in sugar is a victory in itself. I'm eating food that tastes good enough that I want to eat it but not so good that I want to eat too much, and that's pretty exciting. This weekend was a good indicator that I will regain full power in the near future, so I'm not feeling so bummed about being slow. So frankly, if a little real, honest-to-goodness animal fat helps me quit sugar and eat my veggies, I'm cool with it.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I've also spent the time since Versailles working getting back to consistent training and preparing for CX and the fall endurance races. Rather than giving up the weekend for a short race, the crown jewel was a two full laps of Versailles at 6 hour race effort. I was 15 minutes faster than the first two laps of last year's 6 hour, but still a bit off of the pace for which I was hoping. Slogging through alone with semi-stale legs is much different than working under the influence of race day magic though, so I still think some faster laps on September 11 will be in the cards.
On the other hand, I was a bit more bummed about missing the DINO Logansport race. Even though I had bad races there the last two years, it was also the site of one of my top five best races ever back in 2007. I had a good feeling about this year. However, Adam's brother and his wife had there first child last week (Ramona Elaine Rodkey), and we spent Sunday going to Chicago to see her. Although I'm pretty awkward around babies, it's still exciting to be an aunt.
It all may be just as well, anyway, because I had a little too much excitement on Saturday and had a pretty painful road bike crash. It was really dumb - a short downpour early in the ride was enough to make the streets wet, but not enough for me to remember that the streets were wet. So I whipped into a side street at full speed, and ended up sliding across the road on my left side. Now I've got a grated elbow and hip, and still some lingering sore muscles from the impact. As it was I was worthless for any riding on Sunday even if circumstances would have allowed. I'm seeing chiropractor/ART guru Brian Murer at lunch today, though, and I expect to be on track to complete tonight's interval workout, even if I'm not 100%.
Monday, August 2, 2010
The only bad part was riding from the parking lot carrying a fairly heavy bag, and I actually got off and walked the little steep pitch from the road to the deck, since my balance was bad. Of course, there was a big group of people sitting on the deck who watched me walk up and set up my bag, which was awkward.
Friday, July 30, 2010
She can be classy and refined, with her subtle white and black paint job, but has a slightly more gaudy side, with her blue glitter-paint underbelly and pink highlights.
This is Jake, a poor boy from the 'hood. Jake did his best for a few years trying to make it as a 'cross racer, but he just wasn't very fast. Kona marketed him as an all-in-one entry level 'cross bike and commuter bike, so lately he's been working in the less glamorous commuter field. Getting used to the basket was hard, but it's satisfying to be appreciated again.
Then New New met Jake and they fell in love. I got home from work today she was leaned up against Jake in the back room of the basement. I just hope we can make it through 'cross season without the birth of any metallic blue push bikes.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Rashad: What kind of name is New New, anyway?
New New: I'm New New cause I always rock the new, new shit. Thank you.
- Lines from the movie "ATL"
I don't remember much about the movie ATL, except for the dialogue exchange above and a bunch of fancy roller skating. However, I've always thought it would be fun to quote that line in the context of cycling equipment. I figure now is as good a time as any, since I just got an email from Adam saying that a 2011 Giant TCX W, size XS, was on its way. I was super bummed last night because, after reading that these bikes would be available in August, a check for a specific date revealed that there were a few Smalls and Mediums available already, but the Extra Smalls were not to be had until late September. Somehow, Adam worked some magic, and it looks like I'll be rocking the new, new shit before August. Also, I might actually have a bike with a name for once.
So, now I just need to figure out how I want to pink it out. Definitely pink cable housing, but I think I'm going to eschew pink bar tap and go for black tape with pink hoods. I'd like to put on a white and pink saddle like I have on my 29er, but that seems like a waste since the bike comes with a Fizik Vitesse, my saddle of choice, that just happens to be black and white instead of pink. While cable housing and brake hoods are pretty cheap, buying a new Vitesse for purely aesthetic purposes, rather than functional ones, seems a bit silly. If anyone has some other pinkifying ideas, let me know in the comments. It's a 'cross bike, so I won't be installing bottle cages.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The third level of tests was uniformly harder; none of the kids did well. However, the two groups of kids - the praised-for-effort group and the praised-for-intelligence group - responded very differently to the situation. "[The effort group] dug in and grew very involved with the test, trying solutions, testing strategies," Dweck said. "They later said they liked it. But the group praised for its intelligence hated the harder test. They took it as proof they weren't smart."
The experiment then came full circle, returning to a test of the same difficulty as the initial test. The praised-for-effort group improved their initial score by 30 percent, while the praised-for-intelligence group's score declined by 20 percent. All because of six short words. Dweck was so surprised at the result that she reran the study five times. Each time the result was the same."
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I can't really attribute the slump to any single factor other than the fact that I have spent much of the last six weeks visiting the IU branch campuses and other work-related travel. Being the introverted creature of habit that I am, spending long hours traveling, meeting with people, and veering from my normal work schedule are probably even more stressful for me than they are for "normal" people. After a few weeks, the resulting patterns of insufficient sleep and the greater-than-normal urge to shove copious amounts of really crappy food in my mouth have left me feeling like a fat tired slug.
The problem with feeling like a fat tired slug is that it decreases the willpower to do things that seem initially unpleasant, but will ultimately make me feel better, like turning off the television or putting down the book so I can get to bed on time, eating healthy food, and following my training plan. It took longer than I had hoped, but I finally reached the point where I gathered the energy to do something that I really didn't want to do but that I knew would help deflect the downward spiral in which I was moving.
When I found out yesterday morning that the MMSF time trials were moving to a simpler bi-weekly schedule, which meant there was one last night instead of next week as I'd marked on my calendar, I decided to suck it up and go despite the fact that it was a rest week on my schedule. The fact of the matter was that I'd rested plenty the week before and if I kept the rest of the week light, I would still be sufficiently recovered for this weekend's racing. So I did it and it felt miserable, and according to my power meter, my power sucked. However, I set a season best by 1:15 and beat my best ever time from 2007 by about 30 seconds. I'm still trying to figure out that disconnect, but strange things happen at the MMTT. The most important thing is that I stepped up and did something hard and unpleasant, and that I feel better for doing so.
As for things that I accomplished last week, I bought some chocolate rocks from Sahara Mart (what with the shoving of crappy food and all), and in my typical nerd fashion, decided I needed to practice my trail building skills with them. Yes, I ate them when I was done.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
I know it's getting a bit boring to read that I spent yet another weekend riding in French Lick, but it seems to be my thing lately. I went back on Saturday because I heard the 9-mile loop was really, for-realio finished and I wanted a chance to ride the lap as it will appear in next weekend's DINO race. It also doesn't hurt that this trail, which is less than a year old, already dries nearly as well as the North Tower and Aynes loops at Brown County. From the trail reports on HMBA, it seems like BCSP has been abnormally wet in the last month, and I can't tell if it's exaggeration or what. Something isn't adding up, but I haven't investigated much, because I've found a new jam that I can count on. Rather than trying to decipher the actual North Tower/Aynes conditions from too many competing voices on the BCSP forum, I know I can look on the French Lick forum and if Alex says it's cool, it's cool. And more often than not, it's cool.
Anyway, the reason for the title of the post and the grainy picture above, is my excitement at finally getting to ride "the big loop" just days after it was finished. Since I knew not many people had ridden through the intersection above, I wanted to commemorate my inaugural ride through that section of trail. Of course, the final finishing work hasn't been done on it yet and I found myself bumping and sliding through that section. Then, into my head popped the family-friendly insult from one of Adam's old TV favorites, Boy Meets World. "What, are you new?" I asked. I'm not sure if it was directed towards the trail or myself, but it made for a bit of entertainment as I bopped along. I rode the new loop much better than I did at the DRT race or my Memorial Day ride. However, all I can say about this weekend's race is that it will be interesting. The plan is still to try to not kill myself in the first half of the lap (considering it's a one-lap race, but those decisions are a bit random on new courses) and hope it's a battle of wits rather than a battle of watts.
I also got a couple of non-grainy action shots from last weekend's Brown County race:
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Of course, there is a little more story to be told in between the two pictures, like why I felt like throwing up in the first one. The short answer is that since the possibility of winning was revealed to me at the DINO Spring Tune-Up, I had been placing an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself to WIN at DINO BCSP. Unfortunately, even though I've finally gotten over thinking that I'm genetically or cosmically doomed to lose, too many years of thinking that have weakened the skills I need to WIN.
All in all, the race went okay after I got over my jitters. I got a good start, and even though I lost more places than I wanted to on the opening climb, it was still probably the best start I've ever had on that killer hill. I entered the singletrack in fifth place out of ten Cat 2 girls, but I wasn't too far back overall and I was within a few bike lengths of third and fourth. I lost some ground early on because I was so blasted from the opening climb, but I worked my way back up to visual contact with fourth place. Unfortunately, I got caught by another girl very close to the top of the Aynes climb, and I made the overly polite decision to let her pass rather than turning myself inside out to stay in front over the crest and then rail the descent to lose her. As it was, I had to re-pass her right after cresting the hill and although I put some time on her on the descent, it was not enough to keep her away through the top of the North Tower climb.
In the end, I got 6th out of 10, which is sort of crappy in the context that I came into the race with the idea that I would be really disappointed with anything short of 1st. However, the top half of the field was well-matched, and my 6th place was still only about 6.5 minutes back from the winning time, and the 4-6 places were all within a minute of each other. After looking at old results, I realized that I have only been that close to the winning time of a race two other times: my last beginner class race in 2006 and my last DINO-sanctioned outing back in April.
So the point is that it was actually a good race, but it just fell below the expectations I had set for myself. I still don't like the idea of myself as a Cat 2 rider, because it's hard to admit that I still can't keep up with the girls who kicked my ass when we were all beginners a few years ago and that many of the girls I can compete with have only been racing a year or two. The positive side of it is that I am actually really getting to compete now instead of showing up and having the race decided in the first few minutes. It doesn't look like I'll be earning my sandbagger crown/ unarguable upgrade by July like I'd hoped, but it's looking like this might be the year I actually start to have fun with XC racing.