Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's On

I jumped at Reenie's suggestion at ordering Boure knickers, since they custom bib-able. I also ordered a pair of the the full-length bib tights, as they appear to be only women's winter bib tights in production that haven't been marred by the encroachment of the "monobib" design. I still have my beloved Castelli's from a couple of years ago and they are "vest style" up top, which is awesome for winter. Unfortunately, the zipper on the vest is broken and I haven't been able to get it replaced yet. I think it's doable, but my regular dry cleaner turned down the job as too difficult. Maybe if I go to a shop that specializes in alterations.

Anyway, I'm excited about these new bib prospects. I will report back when they get here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Umm, Well Made Cycling Clothing

I saw these in the latest issue of Velo News and had to check out the website. They look wide enough in the hips that they might actually fit my girl body, but I'm afraid they would probably be too long in both the torso and legs for me. The size chart says that the XS is for men with sub 30 inch waists. My waist is well under 30 inches, but men with 30 inch waists have much smaller hips than I do.

I'm back on my pursuit of bib knickers again, since it's fall and because I had a discussion with two other like-minded female cyclists a few days ago. The women's cycling clothing market frustrates me so much that I'm looking into man-world again, but I don't think it will do me much good. I'm too short and hippy for man-world.

We had discussions about commissioning some girl-modified bib knickers from Champion Systems, since their minimum order is low, so maybe that will work out. Otherwise, I may have to launch my "Just Shrink It, Please" web campaign that I've been plotting. Somehow "pink it and shrink it" took on a negative connotation in the "fast growing" women's cycling industry and companies came up with all these crazy modifications that make no sense. Really, I don't think female cyclists are THAT much different from men. We still like nice stuff, but we just want it our size.

Monday, October 27, 2008

USGP Louisville

I was going to wait until results were up on the Internet before I wrote my race report for the weekend, but really I just didn't feel like typing in the precious two hours between the time I got home last night and bedtime. However, I'm in the write-y mood now, so I'll go ahead and recap.

Not that there's much to recap. I came home with two more next-to-lasts, although I may get some arguement on this point. To that I will just go with the idea that that there is no one truth, only many personal truths, and my personal truth is that I've managed to be next-to-last in every race so far this season. I might not have been the next-to-last name on the list when the results came out, but for all practical purposes I was. Faster girls getting mechinicals doesn't really impact my progression as a racer, which, until there are podium spots up for grabs, is what actually matters to me. However, I suppose I am showing SOME progression. Last year I had 5 DFL's, and 2 next-to-lasts, so I guess 4 next-to-lasts and no DFL's is an improvement.

Now I'm just really tired from getting up at 4 a.m. two days in a row, racing, and standing around all day watching races. I just looked in the mirror and my hair's even more flat than normal; I think its tired, too. Or it could be the weather, but I'm going with tired.

So anway, it was a pretty good time overall. Two cool points of the weekend were:

1) Having Georgia Gould cheering for me (not by name or anything, but still), as I rode by during the race.

2) This one is for Sarah, who likes to talk about the "pain cave" and the "fatigue tunnel". When Tim Johnson went out on the a solo run for the win yesterday afternoon, the announcer was saying, "He's stepping out into the desert of pain. He just got one last drink of water, and he's heading out into desert like Moses." I would definitely like to see "the desert of pain" used again in the future...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

So I Ran Last Night

Okay, it wasn't so much running as doing a one minute super easy jog, one minute walk for thirty minutes (covering a whopping two miles). I could probably have gone harder (my average HR was 128), but I wanted to be able to walk today. I'm not really sure why it is, but running kind of destroys my legs when I try to do it. I made it a point to be cautious, and I'm only moderately sore today.

Just so no one accuses me of being a flip-flopper (even though I'm a total flip-flopper and will explain why in a moment), I must state that the attempt at running had absolutely nothing to do with training for cyclocross. In fact, my motivation was quite the opposite. It was attempt to maintain some form of aerobic activity, avoid a completely sedentary lifestyle, and quell the tide of weight gain without dragging a bike into the situation. With four and a half months of darkness about to set in, trying to get on a trainer when I'm already not feeling it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

On the matter of my flip-floppiness,I just feel like I spent a lot of time over the last few months talking about my awesome plans to get fast once such and such happened. When such and such point came, I was on task for about a week and the started flailing again, since the core issue was never resolved. I have recently come to realize that neither my fitness nor my depression will submit to the time lines I prescribe for them. I guess I need to just quit being so hard on myself for not pulling it together faster, and let the progress happen as it will.

That means I will have to lay off the talk of schedules, plans, and goals until I have a more solid base on which to support them. Of course, that may mean my blog will be a little sparse for a while, but I suppose there are worse prices to pay. I can promise a double race report on Monday.

I will say that regardless of fitness, the Iceman is ON and it's going to ROCK! Chrysa was able to procure an entry a couple of weeks ago, so we've got a nice little weekend vacation scheme going.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Last night, I was struck by the sudden urge to watch my favorite endurance racing movie, albeit not endurance mountain bike racing. I supposed 24 Solo is the lone competitor in that category and while I enjoyed it, I already knew what happened before I watched it, so there wasn't a lot of suspense. I wanted to find a clip from Hildalgo where his "pit crew" chief tells him how hard the race will be and that "men go mad". Oh well, this was the best thing that You Tube produced.


So far only one picture my race last weekend has surfaced. I actually look way less pained going through the sandpit than I thought I did. I made it through the first two times and was only stopped on the third because the girl in front of me spun out and I almost ran into her. However, it was not easy and making it through required screwing my face up into (what I thought to be) the most horrible scowl I can imagine. In reality, it appears to be more of an Elvis curled lip thing. Kind of funny.

I saw somewhere that this is "No Fat Talk Week", so I will refrain from commenting further. However, I think I may save this link to look at next time I want eat junk food when I'm bored at work (a bad habit I've developed lately).

I know I said that would have more on what it would take for me to call a race good. I was going to try and do something funny with my rider page since they attempt to rank your "nemeses" and "victims" for you. It's actually pretty accurate at the moment except that according to them one my nemeses is last year's 13-14 age group national runner-up. The whole age group thing is weird and I'm pretty sure she's actually only 13 right now, although she's already much taller and faster than me. That's way too much untapped potential to be my nemesis.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Harbin Park CX

Yesterday, I attended day three of the three-day Cincinnati Internal Cyclocross Weekend at Harbin Park. When thinking of a race report, two phrases come to mind and I couldn't decide which would be a better title.

"I would have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness."

This is sort of an old inside joke, but I can really only think of one person who will know what I'm talking about, so I will explain. When I was racing beginner class in the DINO series back in 2006, I went to check the results after one of the races and overheard one of the other girls from my class talking. She was saying something like, "Oh yeah, she was the one who got in my way at the start. I would have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness." This was funny because: 1) I'm fairly certain she was talking about me and didn't realize I was standing right there because I'd changed into my street clothes. 2) It's one of the more "duh" statements I've ever heard in regard to bike racing.

Obvious as it may be, I couldn't help thinking of that phrase during the early part of the race yesterday, because I was once again in next-to-last place in between the same two girls from the last race. Apparently, the 20 additional racers that were present yesterday made very little impact on "our" race. I was attempting to battle it out with the girl who beat me last time and I kept passing her in the twisty sections, only to be passed in the straightaways. Apparently, pedaling over grass is like kryptonite for me; I've got to work on the raw power thing. To complicate matters, this race had a lot more bumpy straightaways than the last one and a lot fewer corners. So when she finally passed me on an long, grassy uphill and pulled away, I couldn't help but think, "I could have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness."

"There's no coasting in cyclocross."

Crying is fine, as long as your legs keep moving.

After, she pulled away, I proceeded to be caught by the 35+ age group women who started 30 seconds back, and then by some of the juniors who started after them. Yes, I know I'm weak when the 10-12-year-olds start passing me, and I probably shouldn't admit that. However, the last two races I've had a kid come around me and just sit up. They just stop pedaling on the gradual declines. This bothers me because I'm in a world of hurt and can't stand to lose any bit of momentum. I build speed where I can and maintain it as much as humanly possible. I never stop pedaling, except to lean into turns or absorb shock on bumpy downhills.

Yeah, I know that any adult who's slow enough to be passed by juniors has no room to complain, but it's just an observation I've made.

Overall, I would call this race "Yeah, Fine, Whatever", which is a step or two down from "Perfectly Acceptable". I placed about the same in relation to everyone from the last race, but 20th place sounds worse than 5th and I was hoping for an improvement.

When I set up my Training Peaks account, it prompted me to create an annual training plan and it asked my three top goals for the season and the limiter that had the most effect on each goal. I actually had a hard time thinking of three, so I left one blank for 2009. I was thinking yesterday that number three should be "write a race report where you actually call a race 'good'." I'm not sure about the limiter though; they don't have the choice of "self-esteem" or "all of the above". I'm actually giving some thought to the criteria for meeting that goal and maybe I'll have more on that later in the week.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Random Fact

I just thought I'd share a random fact that I've been meaning to work in for a while. I'm completely deaf in my left ear. You probably wouldn't even know from talking to me, unless you were directly on my left side and I kept turning my head around to hear you. It's not normally a problem, except in situations with a lot of background noise.

It is, however, a little difficult from a cycling perspective. It seems like fairly often I will have a stranger come up on my left while I'm riding and want to start a conversation. I can't hear them without turning my head almost completely around because of the wind. Then I'm crazy sketchy girl who can't hold her line. Awesome.

I also can't use and Ipod when I'm riding outside. You know how people usually just put the right ear bud in and leave the left out so they can hear traffic? Well, if I put in just the right ear bud, I can't hear anything except the music. I'm pretty sure that's a good way to get run over. It doesn't really bother me that much, but I always think of it when other people mention listening to music while riding. I suppose it would be nice if I could...

Like I said, none of this really affects my life in any major way. It's weird because I feel like it's a big enough part of me that it's strange to me when people don't know it, but it's obviously not a big enough part of me that I've been compelled to mention it before now. Of course, I guess I just don't think about it that much; I just see people talking with their cell phone on their left ear and I think, "That's silly. You have your phone on the wrong ear."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cat 1 Yogi

Tonight I did my first yoga class. Of course, yoga follows a more logical categorization method than cycling, so level 1 is the easiest rather than the hardest.

As part of my "emotional training plan", I am assigned to find a physical activity that will be my best friend. It's supposed to be something that I do every day, no matter how crappy I'm feeling, even if it's just for 15-20 minutes.

I like cycling and all, but it's not really best friend material. Cycling is more like a crazy party friend who's great for a night out, but will occasionally leave you broke and hungover if you're not careful. "Every day no matter what" isn't necessarily the best thing when trying to follow and effective training plan. You need the highs and lows. Plus, it's way too involved with the changing of the clothes, pumping of the tires, etc. to do for 15-20 when you're feeling crappy.

On the other hand, I can do yoga for as much or as little as I want without ever changing out of my pajamas, at least once I've been to a few more classes and have a better grip on what I'm doing. Plus, it will probably be beneficial for my cycling, as well, although I don't think I would have ever been inspired to try it solely for that reason.

So now I can start practicing what I've learned, and hopefully increase my skills in time. I'm looking forward to creating more balance in my life, literally and figuratively. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It Must Have Been Love, But It's Over Now

My vacation is over. It was a painful transition going back to work this morning, but as I near the end of the first day, I'm starting to feel normal again. I also remember why it took me over two years of working full-time and racking up hours and hours of vacation time for me to take a week off just for the heck of it. It's just so hard to go back. Random mental health days are cool, but a whole week just had me spoiled.


Yesterday's training ride was doomed; that's all there is to say about that. I had planned a two-hour ride with 60-90 minutes of steady Zone 3 to try and build/maintain my endurance before the onslaught of sheer power and lactic acid that will fill the rest of the fall. However, I set out on the ride in a crappy mood because I had to come back to work today. Then I got stuck a busy intersection for a long time and was nearly run over by a rude driver when I finally made it through. Then when I got to the main road where I was going to start ramping up my effort, I turned in behind a big group ride and had to make my way through. That might have actually been a good thing because I really pushed to get through and pull away, which made the steady state seem easy afterwards. However, it made me feel like I was being all bitchy and I'm-faster-than-you, when all I really wanted to was to get down to business.

Then I finally got settled in to my desired pace and things were rolling along nicely. I was just thinking I might go a little longer than planned, when I heard the a weird whistle and my bike began to shimmy. I slowed to a gentle stop and, sure enough, there was a small cut in my front tire. I switched out the tube, but my Co2 wouldn't engage. I called Adam for help, but he wasn't answering his phone. Finally, some guy came along and let me borrow a C02, and I was able to ride home very tentatively, since I wasn't feeling too confident that my tire would hold air.

Oh well, I guess some days it just isn't meant to be.


There is one funny thing about being stuck back in front of a computer all day. I got to catch up on everyone's weekend blog posts and I was in a very commenty mood today. The weird thing was that I found myself writing "I like..." over and over.

It made me think of my last time at church camp (I used to be REALLY into church camp) the summer before my senior year of high school when none of my friends showed up and I had to stay in a cabin with a bunch of 8th graders that I didn't know. We had to do some exercise where we wrote nice things about eachother on something or other. My comments were extremely generic, because I didn't know any of the girls and they all called me out on it afterwards.

I felt I little like that on my comment spree this morning, but a little more sincere.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Today was my first hard workout that wasn't a race since my FTP test four weeks ago. It was 3 x 15 sec. sprints, followed by 5 minutes in Zone 5b, repeated 3 times. It reminded me that I like riding hard, at least when I'm well-rested. I've always loved sprints, but even the 5 minute intervals gave me a pleasant sense of self-satisfaction when they were over. It occurred to me during this workout that with my love of skinsuits and sprints, that I would really like track racing. Too bad the nearest velodrome is about an hour and a half away.

I've always been kind of skeptical about the "runner's high" and other endorphin-related mythology. I've been contemplating this a lot lately, as movement/exercise is a component of my emotional "training plan" for the fall. Even with careful observation, I can say the average zone 1-2 ride does very little to elevate my mood. However, throw some lactic acid in the mix, and I'm suddenly a happy camper. Am I secretly more masochistic than I imagined? I'm kind of liking this.

All of this bodes well for the next couple of month's racing. During my free time this week, I signed up for a Training Peaks personal account. I like the freedom to make my own training decisions right now, but I also like having a calendar and electronic toys to play with. And I have been playing to my little heart's content. I already have my workouts planned through the last 'cross race on December 7th, although I'm sure a few changes will occur. In short, I won't be spending much time on the bike (~5 hours/week), but when I'm riding, I'll be riding hard. It's just the way it goes with the frequent and intense racing of 'cross season: race, recover, and repeat, as needed.

I think this could be a very good thing for me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Brown County Ride

I went to Brown County yesterday, but I didn't ride the whole trail system as planned. The new expert trail took a lot more out of me than I expected. It's not crazy freeride hard like Adam tried to tell me it is, but it's hard. With a few exceptions, I at least theoretically knew how to ride everything there, even if I didn't manage to do it in practice. I got pretty sloppy by the end, due to handling skills inertia: the principle of mountain bike physics that states that bodies successfully riding over obstacles have the tendency to successfully ride over even harder obstacles, and bodies stopping and/or making mistakes have the tendency to have to stop more frequently and/or make even stupider mistakes.

As for the exceptions, one of them is pictured above. It appears to Indiana's first naturally occurring rock garden. Pretty cool. If you'd asked me to ride this trail a year ago, I would have thought it was the dumbest idea ever. I was very committed to not riding anything excessively technical, because "I would never actually see anything like that in a race." Until the Ouachita Challenge kicked my butt and changed my mind about technical riding. So now I have a nifty little place to practice. Too bad our good friend the freeze-thaw cycle will keep likely keep me off of it for the three months preceding the race.

The trail does have a couple of freeride-esque features of which I want no part. I can't actually remember how many switchbacks there are, but at least two of them end in large drops off of big rocks that terminate into piles of other rocks. Big drop+rough landing does not make me happy. Oh well, overall, I liked what I saw.