Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Call Out

I've mentioned this in several places to several people before, but I thought I'd throw it out here. Coach Dave has recently taken over the Lindsey Wilson College Cycling program and has asked me to help him track down recruiting leads, especially for the women's team. So if you a 16-18 year-old cyclist (male or female) or know one who might be interested, please visit the link in the sidebar. There may be scholarships available to high-ability athletes.


I recently read a post on Sue Haywood's blog where she interviews Kathryn Bertine, who is doing a blogging project for the ESPN website where she tries to quality for the 2008 Olympics. I found it fascinating, as I've been doing the same thing in my head since the day that I was pulled off of the OSU track during my evening jog to become a college distance runner. The 2000 Olympics found me glued to TV with a torn IT band and in 2004 I was a struggling neo-triathlete. Now, at the age of 27, I am leaning toward the decidedly non-Olympic side of moutain biking with little time or inclination left to try new sports before my mid-30's "peak". However, a girl can dream, right?

Before I even read Kathryn's article, my experiment in pathetic transition-phase running got me wondering if I could ever run at a high level again and how I would go about it. I posed the question to myself: If put away the bike today and started running full-time again, could I qualify for the 2012 Olympic marathon trials? The trials, mind you, not the actual Olympics. Of course, I was still thinking in 2000 terms back when people were slower. It appears that to compete in the 2008 trials, one must run the Olympic "B" standard of 2:47, which is pretty freaking fast. So the answer to my question is a definite probably not. Of course, I have very little to desire to try anyway; it was meer curiousity. Could I outdo my college self? I'm older and have more scar tissue, but I'm also much more mentally mature. You don't know how often I wish I could go back in time and tell my 20-year-old self to HTFU, as my husband likes to say. And to quit wasting my time and mental energy on boys.

Oh to be 20 years old and 12 % body fat again...

I also spent about a half a second thinking about Olympic weight lifting during my recent Clean and Jerk sessions. Not because I'm particularly proficient at it, but because it's fun. Yes, I said fun. I know that it's heresy for a cyclist to say she likes lifting weights, but since Coach Dave turned me onto Olympic lifts, I kind of do. Of course, it appears from last year's national championships results, I need to lose eight pounds and quadruple the amount of weight I can lift if I want to make the Olympic team.

Finally, Kathryn's blog only continued to fuel my fire of athletic speculation, as her first installment covered her attempt to make the national modern pentathlon team. I've already done three of the five sports (sort of). I've run competitively, swam as a triathlete, and rode horses pretty much every day from age 3-13. I never actually show jumped, but I desperately wanted to, as spent plenty of time "practicing" over every log I could find in our pasture growing up. My horse showing career was brief and unimpressing, as my Anglo-Arab mare, Desiree, didn't fit in too well with the Quarter Horse crowd in Oklahoma. Oh yeah, and she was crazy.

From Kathryn's article, it appears that a woman can get accepted to the national training program by running running a sub 11:20 3000m and swimming a sub 2:40 200m. An 11:20 3000m is a heck of a lot easier than a 2:47 marathon and I'm sure Kathryn would have made it had she not been training for much longer distances. You do have to run fast to race fast, another thing I would like to tell my 20-year-old base-training-obscessed self.

As for the swim, it has the dubious distinction as my strongest sport in triathlon. Mostly because of my learning curve. I was able to go from barely covering 50m without nearly drowning to being decently mid-pack in the triathlon swim in about a year, while my run and bike waivered with the lack of time and attention a triathlete can give to each sport. I was only swimming three days a week or less, so it would be interesting to see what I could do if I were to really focus on daily training and getting faster rather than just covering distance.

Of course, I'm pretty committed to mountain biking and too far into being a grown-up with a job to throw everything away and run off to the Olympic training center. Then again, I have a lot of idle time on the bike and it's fun to daydream.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Muddy

I like riding in rain and mud. Is that weird? My favorite mountain bike race last season took place during a thunderstorm. Of course, there were various elements that made it great, but it would not have nearly as good without the rain. At the end of the first lap, I was lollygagging around in what I believed to be the same no-man's-land I'd been racing in all season. Every race was just another interpretation of being 10 minutes back from the next place up and 15 minutes ahead of the next place back. It was the sixth race of the season and I was actually singing, "Fourth place is just another word for nothing left to lose..." in my head during my warm-up. However, at the end of the first lap I was caught by a girl who I'd only raced against once and a battle ensued as we headed into a barren rock quarry wasteland. Then thunder errupted and the sky let loose. It was all very primal: rocks, rain, epic battle with a worthy opponent, the kind of moment one races bikes to experience. In the end I was muddy, victorious (in fifth/sixth place battle at least), and one of the very few people not bleeding at the end of the race.

Yesterday's training ride was another rainy, muddy battle and I loved (mostly) every minute of it. I made another attempt at my 45 mile dirt road route and was much more successful this time. It was nearly 60 degrees and had rained all morning and about the first 90 minutes of the ride. This insured the roads were no longer icy, but I did have to hike-a-bike to avoid the flooded to section of road that I fell into on my first McGowan road ride. The hills were even more difficult without the ice, as the ground was so soft it made for major pedaling resistance. I did learn some lesson about choosing lines though: DON'T ride through the water on the flats and DO ride through the water on the hills. Meaning that the more eroded lines tend be firmer. Except the ones that run through foot-deep washouts, but you can see those coming from pretty far away.

After the McGowan hills, I headed into new territory that I really liked. It was really muddy. Grit in your teeth muddy. But it was a good time and good scenery riding through the Yellowwood State Forest. For a little while, I could see a stretch of singletrack running parallel to the road and it was very tempting to veer over and take it for a spin. Bad Lindsay! That's for the hikers! Don't worry, I kept to the road.

So the forested dirt road portions of the ride count as the good and the muddy. The bad is when I had to return to pavement. As the afternoon wore on, the temperature dropped and the already high wind picked up. The last third or so of the ride involves a lot of riding on unforested pavement. Once I got to that part, I was already at around 3 hours and decided to skip the last few dirt sections in favor of the fastest way home. It still was not very fast riding a mud encrusted mountain bike with a skipping chain into one of the strongest headwinds I've experienced in a long time. I finally made it home tired and cold, but very satified with my effort.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Belated Recipe of the Week

I was too busy with my tea tasting on Tuesday to post a recipe, but I figured better late than never. I don't think "Use 1 rounded tsp. per cup of water at 190-200 degrees. Steep 3-5 minutes" counts as a recipe. Although my coworker said my "Witch's Broom Puerh" that I tried yesterday smelled like something that you would put in beef stew. The website said it was bizarre, and it kind of is, but it's also my second-favorite out of the shipment. I'm actually just steeping up the last variety that I have tried yet, a disk of "Puerh Tuo Cha Green". We'll see how it turns out.

So anyway, that's that. Training has been very sporadic and not worth talking about lately. I'm hitting the winter-to-spring awkward transition phase early this year. Hopefully, I will be over it early, too, as it's 7 1/2 weeks until Ouachita. Now, without futher ado:

Crabby Cole Slaw Wraps

1 bag pre-shredded coleslaw mix (I actually use Mann's "Rainbow Salad" with brocoli, cauliflower, carrots, and red cabbage for a bigger nutritional punch.)
1 16 oz. package imitation crab
1 green bell pepper diced
1 apple of your choice diced
1/2 cup low-fat Miracle Whip or "mayonaise"
2 Tbsp. skim milk
1 Tbsp. vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
8 8-inch whole-grain tortillas

Mix crab and vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk together Miracle Whip, milk, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt in a seperate container and pour over vegetables and crab. Toss well. Add 1/2 cup mixture to each tortilla and enjoy. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tea Snob B-Town

In additional to bike racing, kitties, and movies, my other beloved hobby is drinking tea and a few days ago I just kicked it up a notch.

I've been drinking green tea since early on college when I heard it boosted metabolism. It was tame enough for the first few years as I tried a few different flavors and upgraded from Lipton, to Celestial Seasonings, to Republic of Tea. Then a couple of years ago Adam brought home a used Mighty Leaf tea pouch to show me how cool it was and my loose-leaf obscession began.

For quite some time, Mightly Leaf was my brand of choice. They have really good tea and good variety, but most of their varieties run $7-10 for a 4 oz. bag. The problem is that I want to try a every kind they have and the price makes it a little hard. They have samplers available, but many of the kinds I'm most interested aren't included and may of the kinds I don't like are.

A few months ago, a co-worker gave me a few infusers from Tea Forte, each of which were amazingly good. I ordered a sampler for myself, but with my 4+ cup a day habit I ran through the $24 box way too fast. It's sort of like bottled water; I can stand to pay $1.20 a bottle once in a while when I'm on the road or something, but at normal consumption rate, tap water is all that is practical.

I my other overpriced tea indulgence is going to Soma Coffeehouse for some of their delicious blends. They won't sell the loose leaf tea directly to customers, so I went on an internet search for their supplier. I came up with site for the Montana Tea and Spice Trading. I ordered a pound each of their Mountain Huckleberry and Evening is Missoula, my two favorite herbals.

More importantly, during the search I stumbled upon the holy grail. Tea Source is my new best friend. They have so many varieties and them in 2 oz. portions (about 25 cups) that run about $3-4 each, which makes dabbling a lot easier. I went a little crazy on with my Friday paycheck and ordered two blacks, a puerh, two greens, a white, an herbal, and two one-serving "pucks" for about $35. This should keep me entertained for quite some time. I've kept the packing sheet to make notes about what I do and do not like as I sample each variety, so I can learn what all those grassy/floral/earthy terms in the descriptions really mean. I've tried four of the varieties so far and strangely enough, I like the free sample of Imperial Forest green tea that I wasn't even expecting the best. Go figure.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I Don't Care What the Groundhog Says

Yesterday I decided that winter was over. I've been working on that decision for a while.
I was extremely proud of myself a couple of weeks ago when I did the 90-minute tempo workout on the rollers, but I've completely failed to replicated it since. The fact that this workout fills me with a complete dread of Thursdays has brought me to the conclusion that it's not worth forcing myself to do. And yesterday I didn't. Of course, I can't make a habit of that, so I've decided with only four more weeks left before daylight savings time, that I'm just going to do what I have to do to go ahead and transition to full-time outdoor riding. This will probably mean leaving work an hour early a couple of days a week, but honestly I have so little to do this time of year anyway, the powers that be would probably prefer I knock off early and burn some of my vacation hours as opposed to sitting here and earning more time off while I blog.
If only I could declare winter over weather-wise as well, but I think even Punxsutawney Phil has more authority than I do in that area.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Feel the Rain on Your Shins

Yesterday was a good day. Despite the fact that the weather forecast called for t-storms all day, the rain was almost cleared up by the time I got off work at 4 p.m. My plan is to leave work a little early every Tuesday until DST starts so that I can do my Tuesday LT intervals outside. It's just to hard to dial that effort on the trainer.

As a bonus, the temperature was in the upper 50's and I was so excited to be able to ditch the the shoe covers and lobster gloves for a while. I was even able to to wear shorts, even if it was with kneewarmers. Just letting out those four inches of exposed skin between my kneewarmers and socks was incredibly invigorating.

Mostly I was excited to debut my knew wool socks, pictured above. I have one pair of specially designated "winter" socks that come up to my calves and go under my tights and shoes covers, so I haven't had a chance to wear the knew VB socks since I got them a month or so ago. Whatever gets me rushing to home to jump on my bike, right?

For those of you who are wondering, YES I am one of those dorks that is in full team kit pretty much every ride. Besides the fact that we have such cute kits, it's mostly because as a large nationwide team with a focus on racer development, Velo Bella has the buying power to demand clothing with better fit, quality, and value than 90% of the what's offered by the women's cycling apparel industry in general. Since we able to order pretty much any type of cycling clothing, except for heavy winter tights, gloves, etc., it's just easier to buy all my warm-weather clothing through the team.

Now, if Louis Garneau would only add bib knickers to their custom line I'd be set. Not women's bib-knickers mind you; since if the cycling industry gives us our own bib-knickers then we might start wanting to vote and hold jobs outside the home. However, they did a fabulous job with the unisex skinsuits w/ women's chamois, so I think any custom knickers could be fitted to suit our needs.

I'm just kidding about the cycling industry, of course, but I just get pretty frustrated with what's available to women. I do desperately want a pair of bib-knickers, but I tried on a pair of Adam's, but they just did not work. Assos is the only company that makes them for women and I refuse to give them another cent of my money since they not only invented that stupid mono-bib thing (who the heck wants a big freakin' strap right across their sternum?), but now it's tainted many other clothing lines as well. I simply hope that Castelli maintains some since of reason, as they are my main source for non-team clothing. Everything I've ever purchased from them has been absolutely fabulous!

Okay, rant complete. I've been wanting to get that out for a while now.

Unfortanately, the warm temperatures continued to rise through the evening until it was 64 degrees at about 9:30 p.m. and a violent thunderstorm broke out and left us without electricity until 5 this morning. The temperatures are now falling and should be in the 30's again by my ride tonight. Oh well, at least my legs got one day in the sun, er, outdoors.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Recipe of the Week

I'm not a vegetarian, but I usually eat like one. This mostly because I hate buying, cutting, and cooking meat. While I try to get a good amount of protein in my diet, I simply can't tolerate the whole boneless, skinless, grilled chicken breast and steamed veggies routine. Bleh! Most of my meals consist of veggie-heavy one-pot dishes with lots of flavor and plant-based protein. I do add turkey products from time to time, but I try not to depend on them.

Of course, I love me some delicious pulled pork barbeque (prepared by someone else of course) on occasion, but that's definitely a "sometimes food". That's why I try to eat 90% vegetarian.

Since there is only so much one can do with beans and tofu, I went searching for a good quinoa recipe as it has the most complete and abundant protein of any other grain. I found this recipe on and it originally called for frying the dough into little fritters, but I soon realized that putting in a loaf pan and baking was both easier and healthier.

Quinoa Loaf

2/3 cup raw quinoa
1 1/3 cups cold water
1/4 cup al all purpose flour
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoons ground white pepper
4 green onions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
1/2 bunch flatleaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under cold running water and drain well. Heat a heavy saucepan over high heat and toast the quinoa for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan so that the grains do not scorch. Transfer the quinoa to a large saucepan and add the water. Over medium high heat, bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, flour, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and add the green onions, parsley, egg, and egg yolk. Blend together thoroughly until the mixture has the consistency of a soft dough.

Transfer dough into a loaf pan that has been lightly greased or coated in cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes or until top is golden brown and feels spongey when you press on the top (springs back as opposed leaving an indention).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bring the Pain

In the summer of 2000, my cross country coach at Oklahoma State University chose "Bring the Pain" as our theme for the season. We even had t-shirts with the slogan, which no one wore because our equipment manager insisted on ordering size large for the entire team "to make things easier". It was always strange that we got really huge clothes in a sport where you get in trouble for being any heavier than medically underweight.

My mom hated the slogan, mostly because she was the one paying medical bills. While the coach may have been referring to lactic acid tolerance, for me it was more like "train until you IT band tears".

I thought of this when I woke up this morning with sore arms and hip flexors. There are so many kinds of pain involved in bike racing. Some are good, some are bad, some depend on the situation. For example, sore arms can be interpretted as: 1) Good because I'm buildng muscle 2) Bad because I thought they were strong enough by now that yesterday's ride shouldn't have bothered them 3) Bad if they are sore enough to interfere with the next day's training.

Bruises and injuries are mostly bad, but they usually come with some valuable lessons learned.

Lactic acid feels bad, but you need it to win races. In training it is a good thing since it makes it that much easier when it pops up in a race. In a race, it's nice to delay it as much as possible, but it's very hard to do well without it making an appearance. The same with the hollow ache of breaking down muscles that I get from endurance training. Not good at all, but better in training than in a race.

Very few successful race efforts are pain-free. For example, after I did a half-ironman a couple of years ago and afterward said it wasn't that bad. My husband responded that if a person does a half-ironman in 7+ hours and thinks it wasn't that bad, they weren't going hard enough. True enough. It wasn't fit enough going into the race, so I just kind of waddled through in survival mode. I could have made it hurt worse, but it wasn't really worth it just to take my time from abysmal to just regular old bad.

So when I state that my goal for the Ouachita Challenge is to finish comfortably, there should be an asterisk. I'm pretty sure that I could slog through it like I the half-ironman and force myself to finish right now if I needed to. However, I rather do it faster than slower. By comfortably, I want to set a steady pace, be fit enough to ward off muscle aches as long as possible, and keep from getting overly anaerobic to early on. Funny how that will involve plently of sore arms, hollow muscle aches, burning glutes, and lactic acid tolerance in the next nine weeks. Hopefully, there will be no torn IT bands involved.

My Children

While my blog hero, Ms. T, has expressed some pretty strong feelings about blogging kitty pictures and stories, I feel that it's an important part of my life I need to share. So here is a little bit about my family.

This is Sixx. She was Adam's before we got married. He named her after Nikki Sixx from one of his all-time favorite bands, Motley Crue and because she has a "6" marking on her side. It must be the other side or the way she is standing, since you can't really see it in the picture. This from her "outside kitty" phase a few months ago. We let her come out on the patio with us one afternoon in August and she spent the next couple of weeks standing by the back door and crying to go back outside. It just not safe for little kitties living in town though.

This is Campbell, named after the actor Bruce Campbell. As a kitten, he was rescued by the famous Dumpster Phil and given to Adam. He was and is still blind in one eye from a big cut that was on his face when he arrived. He grew up to be 15 pounds of solid muscle, but he's still the biggest crybaby of our crew.

This is "my" cat Mrs. Biggleworth. I'm obviously less original in my pet-naming than Adam. I thought I was being funny by naming my super furry kitten after the hairless cat in Austin Powers. However, in retrospect it was just kind of dumb. For all useful purposes, her name is Furry. She is less affectionate than the other two; I think it's from being a spoiled only kitten for the first year and a half of her life. Lately, she has become the most boring cat that ever lived, since I got her a new bed and she doesn't want to move from it.

Finally, this is my kitty-daddy, Adam, in all his MTB glory. I met him when I first moved to Muncie, IN for graduate school and he was my downstairs neighbor. I had been wanting to get into cycling, so when I saw that I had a neighbor with a roof rack and bike stickers all over his car I thought I needed to meet him ASAP. He just looked out his window and thought the new girl moving in was hot. We met a couple of days later, dated, and after some minor drama, got married two years later.

And that's the way we became the Rodkey bunch...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ice Road Bikers

There were no sub-zero temperatures or thousands of dollars on the line when Cheryl, Angela, and I headed out for a gravel road ride this morning, but we did get an unexpected test of our bike handling skills. The weather was actually pretty nice; sunny and lower 30's and rapidly climbing. We went on an abreviated version of my disastrous ride from a few weeks ago, this time armed with moutain bikes and a better sense of direction.

Things went pretty well and we rolled through the ~33 miles much faster than I expected, but it was a little sketchy as the gravel roads weren't getting much sunlight and had a lot of really slick places from the weird winter storm a couple of days ago. I nearly lost my back wheel several times, and although I never actually crashed ON my bike, I managed to fall down twice after dismounting.

The climbing was much easier on the mountain bike and we managed to make it up every hill except the last one, which was a killer. It climbs about 300 ft. in 0.8 miles and has a couple of good twists that let you think you're closer to the top than you really are, only to be disappointed around the bend. I only know of three riders who have climbed this hill the whole way and it wasn't any of us. The ice made it harder because the only place you could get traction was the rough ridge up the middle of the road, which of course was harder than if we'd been able to ride in the smoother car tracks. Oh well, I think everyone rode away with the goal of topping that thing by the start of race season.

Overall, it was a pretty good time and no one got hurt or soaked, although Angela stepped in a puddle. I tend to shy away from group rides since I always end up feeling slow and out of shape, which was the case today, but I guess it's better to find that out if February than in May. At least now I have plenty of time to do something about it.