Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nothing Makes a Perfectly Acceptable Cyclocross Race Even More Acceptable Than Cracker Barrel

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I somehow forget to mention my cyclocross season kickoff in my plans for my week off. I guess that shows how excited I was. Anyway, I raced in then OVCX race in Louisville today and, of course, we went to eat at Cracker Barrel afterward. (This is not a violation of my no junk food policy, as that mainly applied to junk food consumed while sitting in front of the television. If I just finished a race, I'm wearing clothes besides my pajamas, and I have another human being with me then it makes it slightly more legit.)

Anyway, the race...

A few months ago when I was experimenting with my whole zen phase (I'm learning secular meditation works way better for me), I visited the Buddhist temple (?) down the street from our house. It was interesting and a little confusing, but one of the things I did take away was that their three mains sins (they used a less harsh word) were greed, anger, and delusion. Today I learned that avoiding these things is not only key to reaching nirvana, but also to having a satisfying cyclocross race.

Despite still be very sleepy and definitively un-pumped when we arrived at the venue, I knew I had to get out and do a proper warm-up if I didn't want to feel like complete doo doo during the race. Since 'cross is full-bore from the gun, it's pretty important to already have your lactic acid blockers running before you get to the starting line. Unfortunately, this means getting your lactic acid production running before you get to the starting line. This is a lot more difficult when you don't have competition prodding you to go fast yet.

However, today I had no problem getting my "juices" flowing on my warm-up, because the course was making me work pretty freaking hard just to cover ground. I ended up just riding two laps and it was enough, even without any intervals.

As I was rolling back in from my second lap, I was told by the official that they were moving our race from 11:00 to 12:00 and they were taking the one set of barriers out of the course. We were racing with the very young juniors and the promoters had decided the course was technical enough without a set of double barriers preceding a run-up hill. I feel like a wuss admitting this, but I didn't totally disagree with them.

ANGER. The consequence of the last minute schedule change was that my warm-up was all for not. There wasn't a whole lot to do, except go back to the car and wait, since there was another race going on and I hadn't brought a trainer. As I did this, the girl from a couple of cars over came back came back all worked up about the change. Of course, she looked way faster than me and maybe had more on the line, but I couldn't help thinking how mellow and basically un-like my former self I was compared to her. Win or lose, it's just a cat 3/4 race, anyway.

DELUSION. Much of this change in attitude comes from accepting that I'm bad at 'cross. This isn't self-deprecating low self esteem here; I just don't have much natural power. Last year, I took 'cross very seriously and I was repeatedly put in my place by first timers. Today, I showed up and I road well for me. I beat one person, as was my goal and I was very close to the girl in front of me. The top three in my class were all what I would call "legitimately fast" girls, so I don't feel bad about being behind them. My handling skills were on point and one my competitors said I looked like I had a lot more power than last year.

GREED. This one might be a little harder to keep in check. Seeing as I had a better-than-expected race today and was totally within sight of picking off another girl by the end, I'm suddenly inspired to train again. That's cool. I haven't done a hard workout since the DINO Town Run race, and I was planning on using this week to get back into the groove. My "sprintervals" workout that I had planned for Friday suddenly seems almost appetizing.

However, I soooo not going start allowing myself to start looking at start lists and researching who, according my ego and random results I've Googled, I should and should not be able to beat like I did last year. That's how delusion starts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Four More Hours

I'm counting down until 5:00 p.m. I think that's pretty normal for a Friday when I don't have much work to do and I'm just kind of holding down the fort until time to go home. However, today is special, because when 5:00 p.m. hits, I'm off for 9 glorious days of work-freeness. I'm taking a "staycation" next week, so that I can recharge my batteries. I don't really have any plans except for doing my stress management exercises, riding at least an hour every day, and avoiding putting junk food in my mouth.

On one of the days, probably Wednesday, I'm going to go to Brown County and make a leisurely tour of the entire trail system. I'm not sure how long this will take, since I don't plan on going fast and they are continuously building more trails out there.

Apparently, new expert trail has opened since the last time I was there and I want to check it out. Adam warned me that it looked really hard from the videos on HMBA, and it probably wouldn't be something I would like. According to him, it's "the kind of stuff dudes on 5-inch travel bikes like to do". Or it could be exactly the kind of stuff I need to ride before I try racing outside of Indiana again. I supposed I'll find out when I get there. The plus is that I won't have to compete with the 5-inch travel dudes for space, but if I do something stupid and hurt myself, it may a while before anyone finds me. So I'll just have to make sure I don't do anything stupid and I should probably go watch that video first.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Secret Singletrack

This is the entry to the trail that Adam showed me on our couple ride the other night. Nice, huh? It's actually better once you get past the first tree, but it sure doesn't look like much here. I went and did the ride again by myself last night to make sure I remembered it. I did, and I had a good time.

Once you come out the other side of the trail, it dumps out on a flat country road that runs along the edge a creek the whole way. It's really pretty. A lot of the country roads east of town are like this: glacial ridge with a creek at the bottom on one side, and pancake flat on the other (usually with a log cabin and horse on the other side). It's pretty fun because it allows me to at least pretend I live in the mountains.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My New Training Plan

I am home alone for the next few days while Adam is away at Interbike (I better get some good presents when he gets back), so I may be spending my free time blogging a little more than usual.
Anyway, while I don't like to disclose my "secret" mountain bike locations, I thought I'd let the world in on my "secret training plan" for the fall. It starts with with this and this.

Triathlete training books/articles always say to maintain your strengths and train your weaknesses. The meaning is a little more obvious when the athlete in question has to manage a regimen of swim, bike, and run, but cyclists only have to train for one thing, right?

Well, not really. If this were the case, the would only be a "physical" category when calculating the CNS balance. Lately, I've come to realize that the physical part of my cycling was grossly hampered by the emotional part. Not in the "positive self-talk" sport psychology way, but in the "I don't want to ride because I'm already in physical pain from all the crap that happened at work today" regular psychology way. So far I've learned that the problem isn't what's happening at work, but how I'm reacting to it. I'm sure this program has sport psychology benefits, too, but first things first.

For the moment, the physical component in is maintenance phase while I build a stronger emotional (less uptight) foundation. I need to unwrap the ball I've been winding myself into for the last few years, and really since about kindergarten. Who knows? I might be freakin' fast without all the tension wearing me down, making me hate training, and hampering my recovery.

For my competition: Just remember, while you're out doing your "six hour rides" or your "hill repeats", or "lifting weights", I'm at home doing "Soft Belly" and drawing pictures of my feelings. AND I'M COMING FOR YOU.

Okay, okay. Just a little joke there. I really have no idea where this experience will take me. It's just as likely that I might decide that my non-overbearing perfectionist self thinks racing bikes is stupid. Only time will tell and I've decided to accept whatever resolution comes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Walking Away a Winner

When I got home from work today, there was a package in the mailbox for ME and I hadn't even ordered anything. So my next question was, "Who the heck do I know in Harrisburg, VA?" Since it's sort of the East Coast mecca of mountain biking, I could name a lot of a people who live there, but probably none who would be sending me stuff. Upon opening, this is what I found:

The note says, "Sorry you couldn't make it. Enjoy the fall!"

Thanks, I plan to.

Not to say I didn't get a little sad at the contents: "I had a number was laminated and it had my name on it...and my name was even spelled right. I was going to be number 203..."

Fine. What's done it is done. When I first posted this picture back in June, I said it made me want to cry. It still kind of does, but it also brings to mind something else, namely 90's era country music.

I'm walking away a winner,

Walking away from a losing game,

With my pride intact and my vision back I can say

I know where I'm going and I know I'll be alright

I'm walking away a winner walking back into my life.

I had big plans for myself this season, but I didn't really understand what I was getting into at the time. For example, my "goal" going into the Ouachita Challenge was to finish in sub 7 hours. Goal=number I completely pulled out of my butt without a freaking clue. So I'm going back next spring with the same goal in mind, except this time I know what I'm getting into. I know that hitting that mark will be a huge challenge, but it's one worth taking on.

My training has already begun. Yeah, I know I've been saying I'm laying off for a bit this fall, but this training has nothing to do with the a bike. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Annual Couple Ride

Today was the Adam and Lindsay Rodkey Annual Couple Ride. No, this is not an official thing that we do once a year, but it's annual because every time we try to ride together, it generally ends so badly that we don't try it again for another year. For example, the last time we rode together was October of last year at Brown County and it ended with the worst crash I've ever had, because I was pushing myself too hard on a descent so that I wouldn't slow him down.

This is the general outline for why things go badly. He's way faster than me; even with me going fast and him going easy there's still an ability gap. So I tend to ride harder than I want to ride, still get dropped, and then feel bad because I'm wasting his time. I like to think of cycling as a mutual interest and topic of conversation between us, but not necessarily something that should be done together.

However, yesterday he offered to show me a new cyclocross ride that I've never been on, and I decided to accept for a number of reasons: 1) I wanted to learn the route. 2) I knew I needed to ride hard today, but I didn't have a specific plan since I'm now coachless. 3) It's been nearly a year since the last time and I thought, "Why not?"

It actually went pretty well, because I decided not to worry too much if I was slowing him down too much. He had already done his real training ride earlier, so this was bonus for him anyway. The route went through some bike trails and neighborhoods and then dumped into a bit of singletrack and the end of a dead end street. Then it connected with some country roads east of town that are among my winter dirt road staples.

I was riding pretty decent until the final turn going into town, which was maybe a 5 mile stretch. There's a big hill at the beginning of the road that always kills me and today was no different. After reaching the top, I realized that I was pretty far into the red zone and that I wasn't going to get my HR back down below threshold unless I started going extra slow. This is the point where the couple ride actually went well for once. Had I been alone, I probably would have given up and soft-pedaled my butt home, but since Adam was with me, I put my head down and just rode back to town as fast I could stand. I figured if my HR wouldn't stay down, I should just go for it; I don't have anything to be fresh for in the next few days anyway. So he just tucked in behind me, and acted as a silent motivator on my wheel. It was kind of cool.

I will probably try that ride again by myself on Tuesday to make sure I can navigate it on my own. It should be a good addition to my winter training route catalogue. It still might be months before Adam and I try to ride together again, but this time went well enough, it might be a semi-annual thing. ;^)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

After a couple of weeks of brain-wracking indecision, I have decided to go coachless for the remainder of the fall season. I'm completely sad and completely relieved all at once. Sad for obvious reasons, and relieved because I can officially do (or not do) whatever I want cycling-wise right now. I'm going through some big changes right now and I need freedom.

Plus, the biggest period of improvement that I've ever had was on extremely simple self-designed training for 6-9 hours a week. Quite frankly, I was faster then than I am now, mostly because of consistency and weighing about 15 pounds less from not engaging in so much stress-related eating.

I will probably return to professional coaching again at some point, but for the time being I plan to save my money while I get my head on straight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Double Digits

So here's another reason why I should have raced 'cross last weekend: the results. Double digit fields in both the 1/2/3 and 3/4 fields (if you add the two age groups together). This was the first race of the season and not even UCI sanctioned. That rocks!

If only mountain bike fields were growing like that. Racing tends to be more fun with more people; I guess it makes it more like a race instead of a time trial.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nothing Takes the Taste of Shame and Humiliation Out of Your Mouth Like Cracker Barrel

Yes, that was another Prairie Home Companion reference (or at least paraphrasing one).

The DINO season finale was a bust for me. Town Run park is a crazy little 7 mile BMX track stuck in the middle of Indianapolis, which makes a unique specter on the series calendar. I've done decently there in the past, but there is always the possibility of some unknown local who knows how to rail every turn showing up and kicking the butt of a more seasoned non-local. Thus, the shame and humiliation.

Luckily, Cracker Barrel there to ease the pain afterwards. It helped me remember why I race bikes. I've been debating the question of my motivation to race ever sense I read the "happy cow" article on the VeloNews a few months ago and today biscuits seemed like as good of reason as any. Lately I've also been exploring stuff like "it's the thing that keeps me from becoming a crazy cat lady", but I'm not ready to expand on that so.....biscuits.

Anyway, by the time the race was over, I knew it was time for cyclocross. I've been suspecting it was time for cyclocross since last Tuesday when a cool breeze struck me with the overwhelming urge to drink hot apple cider, wear a skinsuit, and carry a bike over crap.

Then I had a "change of theme song". For someone with admittedly horrible musical tastes, I have a need to apply lyrics to almost every situation in my life. For the last nine or so months, "Mama Mia" has come to mind when I think of 'cross (a cheating lover that you just can't let go of) to "Wide Open Spaces" (new faces, room to make the big mistakes).

Mostly, I'm sick of cracking under the pressure I've placed on myself to simultaneously cat up to Expert and break into endurance superstardom this season. The beauty of this is that I already made this mistake with 'cross last year and my cheating lover and I have come to a pleasant mutual agreement: That I'm bad at 'cross, but that's no reason break up with it.

Right now, that's exciting for me. It means I get to sashay up to the registration table, flop down my Cat 4 license, suffer for 30 minutes, and walk away satisfied if I beat even one person. Because I'm bad at 'cross, the competition is pretty impersonal, and wearing skinsuits and carrying your bike over crap in cold weather is fun. Especially when it's followed biscuits.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I really don't have a lot to say at the point in the week. I haven't been feeling well and training is sliding again. However, I thought that my silly dream post had sat at the top of the page long enough. Hopefully, I will have a decent race report to fill in with Sunday.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Way More Interesting Than My Real-Life Cycling

As I have alluded to in the past, I have quite an active dream life. It's way more interesting than my actual life, which is probably why I'd sleep 12+ hours a day, given my own devices. I like to say that my subconcious is my greatest form of entertainment. However, this weekend's dreams were especially cycling related and fairly entertaining, so I thought I'd share.

In the middle of various other events of Friday night, I found myself competing in a 6 hour race. It was a fun little course consisting of a one-mile lap which ran through a hospital emergency room, down a technical descent, and back up a gradual hill to the start. The dream picked up during the final few laps where I was racing to meet my goal of 60 laps in 6 hours. I was trying to make up time by becoming more and more aggressive on the descent every lap. There were three possible lines: one steep and rough with no drops, one with multiple 2-3 foot drops, and the possibility to just ride off a 12 foot drop to the trail below. So the last two laps, I rode the 12 foot drop...on my Anthem. It's wasn't quite a "flying dream", but close enough, considering my technical skills in real life. Anyway, the course was lined with cheering fans as I sprinted up the final climb to the finish and I completed my 60th lap with just seconds to spare. Cool, huh?

Saturday night took it a step further when I dreamt I was looking through and old scrapbook and found a newspaper article where I was quoted regarding the controversial relegation of (imaginary) mountain bike legend Juan Andreas to silver during the 1996 Olympics. Of course, this sparked (more imaginary) memories of how I met the famed Juan Andreas on the set of an MTV reality program documenting the a group of mountain bike racers at different competitive levels during the summer leading up to the 1996 Olympics. How do I know it was 1996? Because we wore A LOT of neon crap that has since worked its way out of the sport for the most part. Apparently, I had been chosen as the female neo-mountain biker to add a bit of a "Made" element to the show. I can't remember the male newbie's name, just that he was a frat-boy like dork. The sexy Juan Andreas was the real star of the show, and he had just broken up with female medal contender Victoria Something-Or-Other of South Africa. Anyway, after having affairs with all the female cast members Juan Andreas fell short of the gold, due to some unnamed bad call from the officials. We parted ways, but I apparently learned some valuable lessons about the sport, got quoted in a newspaper, and made some good memories.

I don't know. I kind of like this version of mountain biking history better. The one problem is that I was actually 15 during the summer of 1996, but it didn't seem to both Juan.

So how was YOUR weekend?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Down With FTP? Yeah, You Know Me.

I finally had a successful FTP test today. I would call it a "perfectly acceptable first FTP test" after not even being able to make it through the 20 minutes a few weeks ago. I wasn't going eyes-bugging-out hard the entire time, but it was a good effort, good enough to make it through at pace. I averaged 148 watts for 20 minutes, which is about what I expected. It's not stellar, but it's farther up the chart than my sprint power. I would like to see 200 by next spring, but I'll have to ask Coach Dave if that's a reasonable goal or not when he gets back from this weekend's collegiate moutain bike race.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Closest I'll Get to Running This Cyclocross Season

I'm not vehemently opposed to running as part of a cyclocross training program, but I think a lot of people consider it more necessary that it really is. For example, Adam started his fall running program yesterday, but I think that it's just because it's something he likes to do this time of year. Plus, he has a lot of triathlete friends, so I think it gives him a chance to have something in common with them. However, I will never fully buy in to running as effective training for cyclocross.

The fact of the matter is that running for 30 minutes at aerobic pace in proper running shoes has very little to do with carrying a bike and jumping over stuff while wearing mountain bike shoes. I don't think of it as running, so much as I performing a complicated task while your body is racked with lactic acid. So you're better off either increasing you cycling fitness so there is less lactic acid to complicate matters or practice the specific action you will be performing so that you're so good at it that the lactic acid won't matter.

Whatever. If you like running, go for it. If you don't, it's not necessary.

However, all of the not-running that I've been doing lately doesn't detract the anticipation I feel for my autumn favorite college sport kicking into gear. While the logical conclusion for most people would be football, I still have way more interest in the good ol' Oklahoma State Cowgirl cross country. It's not much of a spectator sport and it's been a few years since I've known any of the remaining team members, but even at 27, I still check the weekend's results every Monday morning.

I am one of those losers that never gets over their teenage glory days, even though mine weren't even that glorious. Being a college athlete was the coolest thing I've ever done and running simply didn't hold much appeal to me after it was over.

Anyway, in my search for pre-season polls etc., I've stumbled over a couple of pieces of great sports journalism that I couldn't stand not share. I just hope I'm not the only one who finds them funny.

"The bottom line is this: Kovtun can run and she could emerge as a leader this cross country season." - OSU website

"Oklahoma St. is like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows where they got all this talent, and darned if they know how to use it. They are the wild card this year, could be the champions, could be 10th." -, in reference to the men's team

So forgive me for sharing yet another bit of nerdery; it seems to be the theme of the week. Saturday is my next FTP test and I'm hoping for some good results (or at least results). After that, I'll start transitioning back to big girl training again, and it definitely won't include running. Scary.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Is It Weird To Sing To Your Bike?

I had a good weekend with my mom, but the whole thing left me a little drained, not to mention the fact that I ate about 20,000 calories in a 3-day period. I'm just going through a stage where I get very tired and stressed easily, and the only thing that makes me feel better is solitary time with a book or movie. Needless to say, it's hard to get much of that with company all weekend.

So I was pretty grumpy last night knowing that most of my last day of "freedom" would be spent driving to and doing a race simulation on the mountain bike and I was hating the idea so bad that I almost backed out. However, I knew I really needed to get this workout in for a variety of reasons, so I compromised with myself and agreed to only do the 2:15 race simulation and not the "up to 5 hours" of bonus riding that was prescribed "if I felt like it".

Things seemed a little better this morning when I woke up and I felt a little less disgusting from all the weekend's food consumption. To make things better, I decided to drive a little further to an undisclosed location in Southern Indiana and avoid the Labor Day traffic at Brown County. This turned out to be the best idea of ever, as I had a fairly nice trail system all to myself for the entire three laps. I'm sure the location won't be too hard to figure out for those in the know, but I think I'll not advertise, as I'm now fully convinced that the extra driving is worth it. To make things even better, my effort was noticeably less gut-wrenching than my race two weeks ago, so my fitness must be coming back, at least a little.

Anyway, on the way there the song "The Boys of Summer" came on the radio and I had the sudden urge to sing along to my Anthem, which was sitting in the back. It sounds a little weird, but it was somehow totally appropriate and mood-lifting. I'm also guessing that I'm not the only person who's ever sung to their bike, or at least felt like it. The part about "I don't understand what happened to our love, but babe I'm gonna get you back, I'm gonna show you what I'm made of", struck a cord with me.

Heck, the name of this blog came from my trying to entertain myself on the trainer with the tale of underdogs Lindsay and Jake (my cyclocross bike) trying to make it to the elite class of the Louisville USGP last season. So we didn't make it (and still won't this year), but we had a good time.