Monday, June 30, 2008

Beth was killed a year ago today. She was impressive in so many ways, I can't help but dwell on the void her passing has left.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I ended up in a ditch yesterday. I was on the team ride and had pulled to the left in preparation for the turn onto Old School road, but then the guys ahead of me went straight [they were taking a different, longer route] and I didn't expect that. Then Loukas was right next to me so I hit the corner a little wider than usual and skidded on the little patch of gravel and in recovering couldn't keep myself on the road. I went into the grass, managed to get a foot unclipped, and as I rode into the deep little ditch, got a foot on the far bank. So I stayed dry and upright. And it actually got the guys to slow down on Old School hill -- a place I usually get gapped. Not that I'd want to repeat the experience.

I wonder how all my teammates did at Proctor today.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm having a hungry day. I'm sitting here at my desk, stomach rumbling, trying to decide if I actually need something to eat or if I should tough it out until lunch. I had a larger breakfast than usual for a rest day already. Hmmm. I might start gnawing on the tape dispenser.

My quads are a bit sore today. I was on the lakefront for my endurance ride yesterday and ended up 'having to' ride a fuzzy legged guy with aero bars off my wheel. I didn't mind that he passed me the first time . . . but then he just dangled 30 meters in front of me. Uhm, no. Don't speed way up just to pass me when you can't maintain it. And then try to do it again. Chasing the rabbit is irresistible. And pedalling away from the panting and exhausted rabbit is shamefully satisfying.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Robin racing track.

Proctor is this weekend. After what happened to Beth last year, the road race is off. Just crits. Very short crits for the women [15 minutes!?!?!]. A lot of my teammates are going, but I'm not. Even if the race were a reasonable length, I couldn't. All I can think of is Beth joking around in the hotel room, Beth in the hospital on life support.

My teammate Robin was doored last week. She was riding in the bike lane when a car stopped in traffic opened the passenger side door right in front of her and the impact threw her into a steel girder supporting the El. She ended up with 7 or so broken ribs and internal bleeding [not to mention a destroyed bike]. The people who caused her accident drove off without even checking to see if she were OK. Which she wasn't. They left her lying in the street barely able to breathe from the intense pain and a partially collapsed lung. In the ER - after liberal doses of morphine - I asked if she'd passed out and she said she WISHED she'd passed out. The pain was unbearable.

Those thoughtless and criminally selfish jerks just fill me with rage. I want to channel that [non-productively] into personally beating the crap out of them. Perhaps [productively] spreading this around will suffice:

I really hope that Robin doesn't give up racing. I've seen other teammates crash and never recover their desire to compete. I can understand that, I just really, really hope Robin sticks with it. She was so into cycling and was really gaining strength and speed. We'd been training together on the Lakefront that morning and everyone noticed. This is a big setback, especially right at the beginning, I hope racing isn't another casualty of this crash.

On the other hand, Brian, my teammate who crashed so badly at camp, was on my long ride on Saturday looking strong and feeling good. Anodyne.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Johnny Depp period movie is filming around the block from where I work. I drove through a flock of model Ts this morning. All the women in my office suddenly have the vapors. There's talk of a field trip.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My mood is black. BLACK! It's probably the extra special lady hormones, but nothing is right. I'm hideous. And I hate everyone. Gah.

Worse, Coach just decided that I'm on a rest week. And I am NOT happy about it. I will now miss the fitness check time trial Wednesday morning, racing track Thursday evening, the Elm Grove Crit on Saturday and Fond du Lac crit on Sunday.

My life is pain.
RATS! Rats! Rats! Rats!

Amassing upgrade points in the small women's fields is like pulling teeth. The number of points awarded depends on the number of racers -- which I understand, its not as hard to beat five other people as it is to beat 15 other people. If only 15 women would show up! If there had been one more racer in my field at Spring Prairie, I would have gotten 7 points instead of 3. Now it turns out there were only four cat 4 racers at Fox River Grove yesterday -- we were combined with the masters racers and its hard to tell who's who. Points are awarded to fields with five or more racers. So despite SOMEHOW managing to win the damn thing, my goal of amassing points is foiled. Not to mention that half the points I have won aren't listed on the USCF site.

I will never get twenty frickin' points.

And I am SO WEARY of my race goal being "get points." Sometimes I want to race for the team. I want to chase down breaks or bridge a teammate across, or give Gigi a strong leadout. I want to be useful. Instead I'm anxiously chasing this upgrade. And my awesome teammates are helping and that's starting to sit heavily on my shoulders.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Well, I'm shocked to report that I won my category at Fox River Grove today.

This race has a serious climb. Right after the start/finish line you turn left onto a long, bendy hill with a couple plateaus near the top. Then left down a descent into a sharp left turn, around a couple more sharp lefts into a short finishing stretch downhill. When I warmed up on the course, that hill sucked out my will to live.

In the race, I was handily dropped the first time up. My teammate Denise shot up that hill like a rocket - it was beautiful to see. Jeanette [who was racing masters] and two of our competitors quickly climbed away from me as well. And I figured, well, that's it. There's my race. As I powered through the rest of the course, I could see them up ahead. Way too far away. The second time through, they were gone. But there were a couple juniors [the women and the juniors were started together] in front of me and I was gaining on them. As I picked them off, I realized that one of them was a woman -- if I could get by her, I was racing for third place instead of fourth! We were together to the hill and somehow, I put some distance between us. By the time I was halfway through the back part, I could no longer see her behind me.

As I came around again, Gigi hollered that I was only 10 seconds behind the leaders. Fat lot of good that was going to do me -- they were CLIMBERS. But I had them in sight again. This time on the descent, I saw Jeanette ride away from the other two, and Denise fall off a little. "Catch her, Denise!" I hollered from 50 meters behind.

She did and then I did. Denise was sitting on the other woman, making her do the work. I sat third wheel and recovered a bit from my effort. Two laps to go.

I was gapped a little going up the hill, but easily caught on again. One to go. This time I WASN'T gapped on the hill! I stayed right with them. I again sat third wheel, looking for the spot to jump. I went on a small uphill before the last turn, hit the turn hot and then stood and sprinted and threw across the line -- for FIRST!

I'm only an adequate climber, but I guess I had the endurance to climb that hill consistently -- as fast or faster the last time as the first. While other riders tired, I was able to recover quickly and keep pushing hard. Heh, I think that's the recipe for all the success I've had -- persistence.

And Jeanette was amazing. She rode everyone off her wheel and soloed brilliantly to cross the line first overall. I want to be that strong someday.

3 more upgrade points! (or not. !#*$%!!!!)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Probably not so smart to ride 90+ miles today when I'm racing tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2008


"•Women who exercise experience an increase in the hormones that stimulate appetite; men have less of a response. This means women tend to get hungry after exercise and have a harder time with weight reduction than do men. Science finally validates what women have known all along…"

I'm screaming inside.
I went out to the velodrome last night for my second night of track racing. It is SO intense! I work hard in crits and road races, but in a track race, the effort is all condensed into one crazy burst. So hard. I ended each race in coughing fits that lasted until I mounted my bike again.

As there were only two cat 4 women last night, they combined us with the women's open. My race goals immediately changed from 'win' to 'keep up.' Out first race was a 12 lap tempo race -- points to the first two crossing the finish line on each lap. It never let up. After a few laps, I got a little gapped and worked with an Alberto's girl for the rest of the race. Afterwards I thought I might be dead. I wasn't sure.

Our second race was a 24 lap points race -- points to the first 5 (?) racers crossing the line every third lap. The pace would slow for the first two laps and that rest really helped. I attacked several times and led out the sprint more than once. I attacked in turn 3 on the 19th lap, and the weary cat 2 women let me go [they all wanted each other to chase] and I held them off to finish first on lap 21. I sat up after that, which I shouldn't have. If I'd kept up my pace I might have held them off through the 24th lap as well. As it was, they came around me on the 24th -- but I finished with the pack and actually ended up in 5th place overall. Woo hoo.

Third race was unknown distance, the bane of every track racer. The other cat 4 and I attacked in the fifth lap, but were immediately chased down. I focused more on sitting in properly, than race strategy, and finished with the pack again.

So a good night for me. I can tell that I'm getting better at this -- my spin is improving and I'm getting more comfortable standing up and sprinting on my track bike. Which is the reason I took up track racing in the first place. So, yay.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do you ever talk with someone, trying to smile and make constructive suggestions, while your brain shouts 'I hate you!' over and over and over? I really hate some people. We all must feel this way once in a while.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well, my shifting is acting up again. So frustrating! It was working fine for a couple weeks, and now its two down, one up to get where I want to be. AGAIN. This has been going on for months. Pretty much everything has been replaced, including the deraileur, the cables, the cable housings, the chain . . . what is the problem!? I had no problem with the shifting for the first year, why can't it work now?

The only thing I can think of is that changing out wheels and cassettes for racing is doing something to the calibration. I didn't do that last year. Hmmm.


Last night we were watching Liege-Bastogne-Liege -- we need to get all the cycling off the DVR before le Tour starts taking up room. I forget how much I adore the one day races, they are SO exciting. L-B-L ends with Andy and Frank Schleck, Valverde and Rebellin in a four man breakaway. Andy attacks and Rebellin [what a monster!] reels him in solidly, and of course the instant they catch him, Frank attacks. Phil refers to this as "the old ding-dong." How much do you love that!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Awesome xXx women.

Sherman Park WAS fun -- I think we put on a great race. Lots of primes, deep payouts, long races and lots of races. I raced the women's cat 4/masters race at 8:40 am, then I worked registration for three and a half hours, then I got ready and raced the women's open -- very cool of the organizers [Stockmaster!] to give cat 4 women two chances to race!

We had 19 women in the 40 minute cat 4/masters race, 15 of them cat 4s, and 10 xXx women. And for once we didn't just ride around and around at varying [slow] speeds. Cecile and Emily attacked in the second lap and got a good separation. Seri chased and unfortunately took two non xXx racers with her. Then Seri got dropped from the break and rapidly dropped from the pack. Then Cecile drifted backwards to the pack -- so just Emily, a Turin girl and a Tati girl up the road. Gigi -- our captain on the road -- gave me the nod to bridge, which I did easily. When I got there, I pulled Emily off the front and made the Turin and Tati girls do the bulk of the pulling while I sat in. I challenged the Tati racer in a sprint prime and lost roundly, so I knew we had to drop them.

With two laps to go, four or five more xXx girls bridged up -- perfect timing! We'd tired out our competitors and now had overwhelming numbers. I attacked at the start of the last lap and with six girls in black sitting on, neither Turin nor Tati had the will to chase. I rode the lap as hard as I could manage and crossed the line in first place! And this year I raised an arm in victory.

Our sprinter Anna took second, Denise took third -- first in 35+-- and the Turin girl crossed fourth. My awesome teammates set me up for this win and I'm happy that I was able to make good on the opportunities they created. All in all, an interesting and animated race.

The women's cat 1-2-3-4 open was at 3:30 pm, so lots of time to rest and recover. And while my legs felt good, my lungs still burned with the efforts of the morning. We had 10 women for the 60 minute race, and my goal was to score some more upgrade points. And with four teammates in the race, my chances were good -- if I had the endurance.

We rode in uneventful circles for 15 or so minutes. Gigi and Greta pretty much towing the pack. Then the first prime was announced [socks] and there was a contentious sprint among the cat 3 girls that Greta won effortlessly. Francine, cat 2 riding for Alberto's, took the opportunity to attack with Greta. I followed wheels up to them and counted six in the pack -- too many. So I was ready when we came round again for the next prime sprint [which Greta also calmly won] -- when Francine took off and Greta was right with her, I chased hard -- Beth blocking for me -- and caught on with them. The three of us worked well together, all taking hard pulls. I felt I was weakest of the three, I was the only one who'd raced earlier, and just didn't want to get dropped. But I took my pulls and made them count. As we rotated through, I could hear Francine breathing hard and was comforted to know that this was hard for her too.

After 10 or 15 minutes of pain, we started asking how much time we had on the pack -- to find that we had a minute and a half and were less than 30 seconds from lapping them. !!! So we did lap them, which was pretty awesome. And here is where my fatigue made me stupid. I should have realized that Francine would take the opportunity to try to drop Greta and me. I should have ridden right by the pack and kept on pushing hard. But I braked and sat in and Francine immediately attacked and Greta went with her and I could not catch them. I already had third place and that was the best I was hoping for anyway. So I sat up and told the girl on my wheel that she could chase them for fourth place, but I was done.

I sat in for the rest of the race, attacking periodically to soften up the field for the sprint. Frankly, I'm not sure why they bothered chasing me -- they should have let me go waste my energy. But they did, so I took advantage. When it came to the sprint, I went early with Beth on my wheel. She came around me and took fourth, and I actually crossed the line third in the sprint -- Coach had said that going hard before the corner into a short finishing stretch was a good tactic for me, and this proved he was right.

However, the officials were pissed that I'd taken part in the sprint. They told me in no uncertain terms that I should have sat back and let the lapped riders do their thing and not gotten in the way of the cameras. Which, if I ever lap a field again, I'll totally do. Sorry. [Although JT lapped the field at the track a week and a half ago and then led out Matt and Kirby. Track must be different.]

Thanks to a little help from my friends, I scored 5 more upgrade points! That puts me at 12 -- 15 if they count my win at Sherman Park last year. I now feel confident that I will get the 20 I need. Yay. Thanks, girls!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sherman Park tomorrow! It's going to be FUN to have so many teammates in the field.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Maybe its not a nutrition thing. I ate properly yesterday and still had that weird shaky, altered feeling on the ride home. What IS that?

Sadly, no track tonight as I'm racing Sherman Park on Saturday. We should have a ton of xXx women, which will be super fun.


Are you ever not at all hungry -- full from your recovery meal an hour or two ago, say -- but still get that breathless 'high' feeling that if you don't throw calories at will get worse and worse and lead to a killer migraine and fatigue that lasts through the next day or so? Its hard to eat when you're stuffed. And hard to quiet that voice that says you've eaten enough. I wish I had someone to tell me exactly what to eat and when, sort of an uber-nutritionist. Who doubled as my soigneur. Massages and pasta . . . mmmmmmm.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can I just say that I heart Greta? I heart Greta! She's in town for a few days and came on the women's ride this morning. She's so strong! I mean, of course she is, she trains at the Olympic Training Center and is going to Beijing for the Paralympics. It was just so fun to ride with her - a good challenge. And then she joined me for sprint practice and gave me some pointers. It's going to be fun to race with her at Sherman Park.


Riding home from work last night I had that weak, shaky feeling again. And I remembered that this happened regularly last year riding home. I think its a nutrition thing -- my lunch yesterday was not adequate for my level of activity. I need to resist the urge to skimp thinking I can lose weight that way. That's not the way.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

OK, I know that the lovely weather brings nine cajillion people out to walk, run, skate, ride and wander blindly about the Lakefront Path. But if I call out a timely "on your left" why [oh why!] does that get a snitty "go around me!" from the unpredictable path hog, rather than a simple step to the right? I mean, I'm obviously TRYING to go around you. And I'm trying to do it safely. And why was Mr. Snitty wearing full cycling kit to rollerblade anyway?

It makes me long for dark mornings with a 30 degree wind chill.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I raced Spring Prairie today. The cat 4 women had four laps around the 6.5 mile course that includes a lot of rolling hills and one long, steep climb before the start/finish line. We were combined with the masters 40+ women [who, it turns out, were all cat 3s], but scored separately.

I felt good going in -- and my bike was in good working order, no shifting problems at all in this race. I put my 27/12 cassette on my race wheel and with my compact crank could ride all the hills in my big ring. So no danger of dropping a chain. I was climbing well, and after the first lap was in the first group of 5 that crested the big hill. After turn one on the second lap, there was some attacking. I stayed near the front and matched the accelerations. After turn 2, a tall, powerfully built woman made a move on the false flat, three of us stayed with her, and used the descent to gain more distance. The four of us were off the front -- and I realized the other three were masters racers! If we could stay away, I would win the cat 4 race!

The next two and a half laps were very painful. We worked together pretty well to increase our lead well into lap three. And then the jockeying started. I took extra pulls as the masters riders eyed each other and conserved energy for the race up the hill to the finish. Two of them were small and could just float up the climbs. The tall woman attacked before turn four, but was easily reeled in. The two little climbers took first and second, I crossed the line third -- winning the cat 4 race!

It was thrilling to see my name at the top of the results sheet! I've won a cat 4 race and, even better, a road race. A really HARD road race.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Track racing is hard. It's also super fun. But, damn, it's hard.

I took my brand new track bike to Northbrook last night for a win-and-out, a 24 lap points race and an unnamed distance race. I took third behind a Pegasus girl and Gigi in the first and last races, and finished with the combined cat 1-2-3-4 pack in the points race. I got no points, but I finishing the race was an accomplishment.

So, not terrible for my first time. My bike feels good - aggressive. I don't have that pop that the women who are winning have. I can ramp up to fast, but I can't just explode with speed and get a gap. But that's why I've taken up track racing in the first place, to learn how to do that.

I'm not sure I have the right gearing, but it's too soon to change it out, I think.

I was greatly relieved to feel OK on the bike. After the last two mornings, I wasn't sure I'd be doing more than watching. But the only problem I had was remembering to keep pedaling. I'm feeling way more confident about Spring Prairie now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gave up on my workout this morning after 20 minutes. I don't know what's wrong with me -- I feel weak and shaky, hot like I have a fever, and like I could easily black out. I even let some guy on a comfort bike with a backpack ride by me. I chased half-heartedly, but I just didn't have the drive. THAT is really freaking me out. But I'm just so weary. The weariness doesn't pass like the rest. It just gets worse all day long. Yesterday I took a 2 hour nap after work, only waking up when the phone rang.

I'm worried about Spring Prairie on Sunday. I've been looking forward to this race all year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Someone recently described me as "slight." Which is far from how I think of my physicality. I feel sturdy and able, yet ever aware that there are people much more physically powerful than I all around me. I've often wondered how others experience their bodies -- what must it feel like to be a man with that effortless strength? What must it feel like to be a small woman, weighing less than 100 lbs? Do they feel different in their bodies than I do in mine?
I'm tired today. Really tired and sluggish. My legs felt like clay on the bike this morning and I ended up cutting my workout short and shutting my eyes for 20 minutes before starting work. Which is usually rejuvenating, but I continue to feel more and more exhausted. I wonder if I'm sick.

Spring Prairie is on Sunday and it's one of my target races. I want to feel really good and energetic that day. What should I do now to help me get there? Maybe I can go home early today and take a long nap.

I'm hoping to be able to get to the track tomorrow evening to race for the first time. I'll see how I feel, I guess.


Sprint practice last night was really helpful. Shane analyzed my form and gave me some exercises and intervals to do to help me improve. I really need this. There's no reason I can't become a decent sprinter. Its not natural to me, but with some work I can start to get the spin and the explosion of power. Heh, everything is "with some work." Good thing I enjoy it.

Hi Eve!

Monday, June 2, 2008

I've just struck a deal for an excellent track bike. I'm very excited. Sadly, its not the Colnago. It wasn't meant to be.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I had the sweetest ride today in the lovely weather, shifting all the way up then all the way down and then doing it again. And then again. I touched my shifter and it changed gear smoothly and quickly. So awesome. It didn't skip between gears, it didn't refuse to consider the next cog, it didn't shift all on its own. It did what I asked immediately. So easy to take that for granted.

Turns out my cable housing was cracked and also loose on one end. Which I knew, but didn't know it was the problem. It was overlooked while every other part was switched out. But now it's fixed and I'm ecstatic.

The track clinic on Saturday went well. I was a bit tense my first time on a fixed gear, but doing a miss and out race and a couple team pursuits really helped me relax. And I came in second in the miss and out! Have to remember not to stop pedalling when I throw at the line. I'm now shopping for a track bike. I'm interested in the Jamis Sonik, but Jamis didn't anticipate the demand and they're hard to come by. Yojimbo's has two frames my size in stock, one of them a gorgeous sky blue Colnago that I find myself stroking lovingly every time I go by. Too bad it doesn't fit my wallet.