Monday, October 29, 2012

Introducing The OVCX Heckler's Guide to Literal Nutritional Off-Roading

(At least in the elite race people give you stuff when it all goes to hell.) - me

So for two weeks in a row things have gone "all to hell" for me vs. the "meets expectations" I was at least achieving at the beginning of the season.  This is due partially to a crisis of motivation/ confidence, in that I'm getting averse to the pain involved in meeting my admittedly low expectations, but that I'm lacking the confidence to set them higher.  This is the point at which, in past seasons, I would walk away thinking the only solution was a season break and more training, but damnit, I've been waiting months for this, and I can't give up now.  The other part is all of the fun distractions the past two weekends have provided, which have kind of lured me into participation mode rather than racing mode.  Case in point:  my race yesterday was terrible, but my costume was awesome.

Last year I was waaay too serious to dress up for the Halloween race, in fear that a wardrobe malfunction would tank my chances at the series championship. This year, I have no chances, so I figured I should have fun at least.  That I did, but I definitely didn't arrive at the starting line with an ass-kicking mentality.  At least I got a little real racing in Saturday since there were collegiate categories in the ICX race, and I got mix it up with Marion's B squad a bit.

Unlike the St. Mary's race where grabbing a dollar hand-up was a hard decision, Sunday found me actually scanning the sidelines for hand-ups of any sort by halfway through the race.  In the end, I got a dollar, a mini Hershey bar (that I still haven't eaten), and a swig of cheap beer.  It was especially disappointing that I had to get the dollar from the Don Walker camp while all my friends in the Shamrock area only offered chants of "cast a spell" and "use your evil powers".  I guess it's just as well that no one enabled me in my downward spiral.  I'm really just disappointed that I missed the Jello shots.

With all of the distractions lately, it's a bit hard for me to reconcile the ass-kicking, Paleo-eating girl I want to be, and the back-of-the-pack party participant that's shown up the last couple of weeks.  Okay, so I loved the party part even when I was doing well (we'll call it the "sun and socialization" part of my health equation), but it was way better than when it was celebration instead of consolation.

Anyway, ever since I first saw the Whole9's Guide to Nutritonal Off-Roading, I've been trying figure out how it applied to the healthy weekdays and hand-upy weekends lifestyle that I live from September through December.  Since "It Starts With Food" was published, the Whole 30 plan seems to be catching on in the endurance mountain biking world, as least as opposed to two years ago with I was just a weirdo trying to tweak my fat metabolism.  However, I haven't heard many rumblings among the CX crowd, so until then, I present you with "The OVCX Heckler's Guide to Literal Nutritional Off-Roading" to get you through all of your tough weekend decisions.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nothin' But a Good Time

There really isn't much to say about this weekend's racing.  I did ICX Backyard Cross race on Saturday and BloomingCross on Sunday.  I still seem to be missing the mojo I lost last weekend, despite the rumor that mojo handups would be given out on Saturday.  I apparently didn't get one.  It was a hard, ugly slog, and the first time I have ever not liked racing in mud.  I love slick, sloppy mud and railing corners, but I wasn't into the sticky peanut butter mud on top of an open power course on Saturday.  That was just hard.

Sunday's course was much better, especially since it was Adam's piece de resistance of the past few weeks. It was much better laid out than in years past and really took advantage of the great venue (multiple locations of flush potties!), and the beautiful weather that always seems to occur on BloomingCross race day.  Unfortunately, I made a dumb mistake in that between switching from my Limus from Saturday to the trainer tire to the Grifo that I actually intended to race on, the actual race tire never got pumped up.  I spent most of the first lap trying to figure out why the course was so slick when it wasn't wet at all until I finally realized that it was just my super squirmy tire.  I got a new back wheel about halfway through, which made the rest of the race more pleasant, but didn't save me from last place.

After the "real" race, I once again participated in the Little 500 bike race at the end of the day, where we ride stock Little 500 bikes (super heavy, single hard gear, slick tires, coaster brakes, platform pedals) on the cross 'course.  It's super fun because it's just such a ridiculous thing to do and the people that stay around to watch are extra hand-up and heckle-y.  See this lovely action sequence:

Seriously, who is that chick drinking Budweiser with sand it?  Kind of gross, but I felt obligated to drink if I wanted the dollar.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chicken Statues and a Slap Bracelet Beer Coozy

This weekend produced no notable results, witty insights, or inspiration for song parodies. Really, I think I'll stick to my Facebook assertion that the highlights of my weekend were the Brookville chickens and the "slap bracelet beer coozy", mostly because I can't really figure out the point of either, and yet find them very entertaining.

The chicken encounter was the result of my being a little too relaxed about my Saturday ICX series "opener race", as that is what I usually consider ICX races.  I thought I knew where the exit for Richmond was on the way to Cincinnati, and I forgot to get an actual address to put into the GPS before leaving the house.  This only occurred to me as I was going to pick up Adam's co-worker and our recently recruited teammate, Erik, so bonus points for dragging another person into my mess.  Anyway, I took off in the general direction of Richmond, which was correct in a general direction sense, but definitely not the most efficient route to the race.  We ended up taking quite the scenic route, viewing the rural Indiana scenery, passing up many opportunities to rent canoes, and witnessing the many artistically rendered chicken statues of Brookville, IN.

The race itself was less than blah.  As a result of the detour, we arrived an hour later than planned, and I didn't get a chance to do a practice lap of the course.  Starting cold, I did okay for about one minute before the first rough uphill drag took the wind out of my sails, and the first pass up the run-up did me in not long thereafter.  I basically just rode from that point on, only pausing to complete a couple of stupid one-women crashes.  I still accomplished my goal of getting a hard ride in my legs, and still got second out the two Cat 3 women.  For my efforts, I won a pair of white arm warmers with a bunch of breast cancer logos on them and a "slap bracelet beer coozy", as I called it, which was basically a flat piece of foam with metal bars in it that curled up when you hit it on stuff like the slap bracelets that were all of the rage among my elementary school crowd circa 1990.  It made a fun toy at least.

Sunday was the Gun Club.  Yeah, you know, one of the high holy days of the OVCX calendar?  The site of one of my biggest breakthrough races last year?  This year's course was even extra ripe for the taking with lots of twisty, twisty goodness, all of last year's steep spots suddenly reversed and pointed down, and zero barriers.  There was also a sweet Euro flyover, but I would say that was one feature that didn't really play to my advantage.

Unfortunately, I woke up feeling like poopy poopy doodoo and never really got my mojo going.  I faired slightly better than usual, because it seems there a still some Cat 3 girls who got there on power and are still at a disadvantage handling-wise.  I just wasn't able to use that as much as I wanted to because my power disadvantage was also bigger than normal which mostly negated my technical advantage.  In the end, I made a stupid mistake less than a minute from the finish that cost me two places.

So double weekend one of six is complete.  Lets hope my mojo kicks soon.


Oh, yeah.  I also accepted a new job this week, so that will be a interesting change and a little more money to contribute to the track bike fund.  I'm a little nervous about leaving my comfortably uncomfortable current situation, but hopefully I can settle in and start moving back towards just doing my job then going home and focusing on bikes, without the stress and distraction I've been facing for most of the last year.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

OVCX #2: St. Mary's

 I need a dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need
hey hey
Well I need a dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need
hey hey
And I said I need dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need
And if I share with you my pain face, would you share your dollar with me?

After Lion of the Den, I said that podium pictures were probably going to be fewer and further in between this season.  In that vein, I'd say that the picture above is about as close as I'll get.  I'm posing with my very first torn, sweaty dollar bill hand-up after retrieving it from my sports bra at the end of the race.

Technically it's not the first time I've crossed the finish line with more cash stuffed in my skinsuit than when started (beginning balance is typically zero), but rummaging through the sandpit in true gold digger style during last year's BloomingCross Little 5 bike race doesn't really count.  My objective was much more to provide entertainment and grab money than it was to really race.  On Sunday, the decision that I've been contemplating since last year's St. Mary's race finally stared me in the face.

How many times last year did I heckle dudes to "take the dollar, you're out of the money, anyway"?  In retrospect, it was a pretty harsh assessment to make from my lofty Cat 4 pedestal, standing there in my warm clothes, hard cider in hand and podium swag stored in the car, my suffering successfully completed for the day.  I just thought receiving trivial amounts of money mid-race sounded exciting, and the one time the opportunity arose for Cat 4 women, I was so focused I never even saw what was in front of me until I looked at the pictures later.

The part that I didn't understand was that while OVCX pays cash prizes to 20 places for Elite men and 10 places for Elite women, that the payout for retaining your pride goes down to (# of starters - 1).  Not last is still better than last.  Perhaps if I were used to top 5's, a 20th place standing would cause me to give up and ride it in grabbing every dollar, cup of beer, slice of bacon, jello shot, gummi worm, and free puppy available between the place where it all went to hell and the finish line.  (At least in the elite race people give you stuff when it all goes to hell.)

As things stand now, I still have performance standards that might not seem like much to others, but between me and my page, still allow me to leave races feeling okay about things.  Sunday I found myself in the "acceptable performance" zone, but working very hard to stay there. As I approached the "Shamrock Cycles Strava Challenge Start Zone" (the "segment" was approximately 30 ft. long and contained two turns and a variety of proffered goods) on the second lap, I heard Tim calling my name and "dollar hand-up" over his megaphone.  I sighted my prize and made the call, the long awaited dollar, or cautiously guard my lead over the next girl back?  If I played my cards right, I could have both.  So I grabbed as I exited the turn and almost made it, but my balance was off and I hurtled for the tape on the far side.  A handful of brake and a jutted out foot allowed me to stay upright and moving, even with a big loss of momentum.  I quickly stuffed the dollar and sprinted to keep my lead.  Totally worth it.

I managed to hold my 20th out of 22 place to end, and chalked another one up in the "meets expectations" column.  I'm still waiting for my first "exceeds expectations" of the season, but it's still early.  The first few weeks of the season have been much lighter than last year, and I'll be missing next weekend due to a visit from my parents.  After that, it will be six weekends in a row of doubles (one triple, actually), and I think that will be where I start see progress.  I'm not sure if heavy racing really improves my fitness or just beats away my inhibitions, but last year it seemed like more was better.  Hopefully the pattern will continue.