Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spoke with Jean on the phone this morning -- she's OK. She's at home and each day is easier than the last. I was happy and relieved to hear from her. Hope she heals as quickly as possible -- and I hope she can get back to enjoying her bike at some point.

I also spoke with my teammate Brian who was hit by a car last week and had to have surgery on his ankle -- the same surgery my mom had where they install metal plates with screws to hold your broken bones together. Serious stuff -- but I'm grateful its only his ankle that was shattered. He's going to have a long healing process too -- and he's the sort of guy that never sits still, so this is really hard on him. But it sounds like he's got his technique on the crutches down.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

OK LOTS of nasty bruises. And a stiff neck. But considering all the serious injuries my teammates and fellow racers have suffered, I have nothing to complain about.

Had a nice training ride this morning with Bob & Gigi -- her elbow is healing nicely -- and then had brunch with Robin, who is pining to get back on her bike.

I'm happy my rest week is over and I can get back to business.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Raced the Fall Fling road race today. We started out with about 10 in the women's masters category -- mixed 40+, 50+, 60+ and 70+. I was feeling good and had no problem following the moves. By the second turn of our last lap, we were down to 5 -- and none of us were going to drop any of the others. It would come down to who could sprint the best after all the attacking on the hills after turn 3.

But before we got that far, the two women ahead of me touched wheels, one went down and took me out in the process. Which, c'mon! -there were only 5 of us! It shouldn't happen. But a moment of inattention, a bit of nerves . . . and there you are.

My first thought was to jump up and chase. Then I saw that the racer on the ground next to me -- Jean -- was hurt. Really hurt. She was making the same kind of moaning noise that Stocky was making right after his crash at camp. All thought of racing gone, I tried to help her best I could.

Then the men's cat 4 field crested the hill behind us -- we were in the middle of the road and not going anywhere. The guys on the front started shouting surprised warnings and the moto guy helped wave them around us. Poor Jean was in a lot of pain, was having trouble breathing and was panicking a bit. The first aid guy and I did out best to comfort her and keep her still. Finally the ambulance got there. I spent a couple hours at the hospital with Jean and her husband. She'd landed hard and broken her collar bone in 4 places, broken [and overlapped] a couple ribs and had a concussion. She'll heal, but she has a couple weeks of pain ahead of her.

Driving myself home, I started to feel my bruises. Happily, they're minor -- I don't even have any road rash. Jean took me down, but also broke my fall. I'm disappointed that we didn't get to finish the race. And I'm sick of crashing! But I'm very lucky I wasn't hurt. My bike seems to have survived intact as well.

So, there's my road racing season.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I hate rest weeks. No matter how much I need it, it screws everything up. I end up tired and sick and totally out of synch with my usual schedule. I feel more burned out right now than I have since Downer's Grove.

It might partially be the migraine pills, which make me logy. I had this headache all yesterday, just not quite bad enough to take a pill. Then it woke me up last night, full strength. So awful. I just wanted to get back to sleep, so I put off going downstairs and getting my pill . . . so the pain kept waking me up over and over. I don't know why I don't just take the pill right off.

I finally woke up enough to commit to getting up and taking it, and 30-40 minutes later the pain had receded. But it wants back out now -- I can feel it struggling inside my head. Like a weasel in a cage.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thinking about doing the Fall Fling road race on Saturday. Can't decide.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rest week. Its like bizarro world. Staying up past 10 pm, sleeping in past 6 . . . kee-razy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My first cross race yesterday -- Jackson Park. Extremely well organized, great turnout, well-designed course. Couldn't ask for a better first race.

It was super fun and crazy hard. I'm getting better with the eggbeater pedals, better riding on grass, dirt and mud. Still really bad at the flying dismount, getting across the barriers and the flying mount. I got passed a lot at the barriers.

It was a good course -- lots of turns and chicanes. Four barriers, two together at the bottom and top of a little hill. A couple long stretches where I could open up and pass people. I did OK on those parts. I got a good start too. Next time I'm going to work even harder at the beginning -- at a certain point I could tell that at least 5 women weren't getting any farther ahead. In fact, I'd gain a little bit each lap. Not enough to get near them, but still. If I can stay with them in the first half, I should be competitive with them in the second half.

I ended up 9th out of about 19. Not bad for my first cross race, considering my lack of technical skill.

And the way my teammates cheered! Bob yelling encouragement by the registration tent, Jackie giving me pointers at the barrier on the hill [other people are getting back on farther up], Luke pointedly NOT laughing as I muffed the flying mount over and over, Emily shouting at me to gun it after the little chicane maze . . . its just such a great atmosphere.

Eileen was amazing. I didn't even see her after the first half lap -- she was way up front. She finished a strong third. I think she'll be winning soon. She gave me a very good bit of advice -- commit to the flying mount. I yelled that at myself during the race and while my mounts were shaky and at times downright comic, they were better than they could have been.

Beth, Heidi and Emily raced in the women's 1-2-3. I loved watching them -- so graceful and powerful. They did well in a tough field.

Can't wait for the next cross race! In the meantime, lots of practice getting on and off the bike. And maybe some hill sprints. I'm OK on the bike, but SLOW on my feet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

- There's a rough spot on my temporary filling that I CANNOT STOP MESSING WITH. Its like a magnet. Its been one day and I already have an irritated spot on the tip of my tongue.

- I took the wheels off my road bike and put them on my cross bike for my endurance ride -- I'm hoping to break in the pedals a bit. As I put my road bike on the workstand, she was so beautiful and delicate, my heart burst with love for her.

- Brenda, the cross bike, and I are still working out our relationship. I think she's one of those tough girls that smoke in the bathroom at school.

-Don't tell me you don't name your bikes. And your car.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dentist appointment today -- my fifth or sixth since crashing onto my jaw. I went in to deal with a cracked tooth, but as I was having a lot of pain in another tooth and was having a weird thing going on with my gums way back in there, they took some more x-rays and thought my wisdom tooth was finally coming in -- sideways. Likely that the proteins sent in to heal my jaw caused the tooth to express itself.

So he decided to pull it right then and there. And, you know, better to get it over with. I cranked up my iPod and stared at the ceiling . . . and it came out very easily. Turns out it wasn't the wisdom tooth, which was firmly entrenched in my jawbone, but a vestigal molar. Guess I'm not so highly evolved.


So now I have a mouthful of gauze [a scalpel was involved] and that crazy numbness over half my face. As its wearing off, I've decided that painkillers are definitely on the agenda.

I'm thinking cream of wheat for lunch. Maybe some chocolate soy milk on the side. Mmmmm . . . soft food.


Still laughably awful at cyclocross. But its super fun and a huge challenge. I'm having a bit of a problem getting into and out of the eggbeaters, but I hope they'll loosen up/I'll get used to them. After charging around and around the park, through the trees and muddy bits and over barriers and up hills . . . its so nice to get back on the pavement -- even on my half-inflated knobbies -- and remember that I DO know how to ride a bike.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

O my god, I am going to suck at cyclocross. I'm comically bad at mounting and I still haven't managed a dismount where my left foot actually comes out of the cleat. That is, if I can FIND the cleat. Eggbeaters are very different than Keos.

Coach says the Belgians invented cross *because* its way harder to ride through grass and mud and sand. And damn, it sure is. I'm an idiot.

How much should I be riding my cross bike? All the time? Or should I mix in some road riding?

Confidential to the guy who tried to run me off the path as I passed him this morning: I'm faster than you. Deal with it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Had a great ride this morning! Its so pretty out -- crisp and sunny. I rode my road bike -- I probably should have stuck with the cross bike, but it was dark and Brenda doesn't have lights {the cantilevered brakes are in the way} yet. And it felt good to ride fast on fully inflated tires. The knobbys take a bit of getting used to.

Ran into a bunch of Spider Monkey/Roscoe Village Cycles guys [and girl] and rode with them for a while. That was fun. Then I hooked up with Cecile and rode north with her. Also saw the Tati development group heading to Northerly Island for some intervals.

I'm thinking about the Fall Fling road race. I wonder if anyone else on my team is up for it. It falls on a rest week. Hmmmm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Here's Brenda!

I went with the hot pink bar tape. I saw some matching tires that I think I have to get. That would totally pimp my ride.

The cross clinic on Saturday was, to understate, wet. There were 15-20 of us out there in the pouring rain. Randy went over all the basics: starting strong, off-camber turns, the flying mount and dismount, suitcasing and shouldering, running over the barriers. I was uniformly bad at it all, but I now know what to practice.

I've never done any off-road riding, so it was a revelation. Riding through the mud and roots and ruts and pools of water was SO different. I really have no idea how well or poorly I'll do. And I don't want to weigh myself down with expectations. I want to have fun.

I've been pretty glum for the past month or two. Picking up this bike on Saturday, I realized I felt really happy. I want to hold onto that.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm picking up my new cross bike today! I've built it out differently than Davide Frattini [his bike pictured], but I'm getting the Blue carbon cross frame and fork. I really wanted something lightweight so I wouldn't hurt myself picking it up and running with it. Tomorrow is the xXx cross clinic, so hopefully I'll learn some approximation of the flying dismount.

What color bar tape should I get? I'm sick of black.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What is the deal with all the negativity out there? I've been screamed at twice in two days -- once by a driver who almost hit me [by wanting to turn right, without signalling, when I was right next to him] and once by another cyclist when I said "on your left." And I've heard people screaming at each other on the path a couple times. Is it the weather? Is something in the water? Is the moon in an inauspicious position? Is everyone disconsolate over Sarah Palin?

And Lance is coming back. Which doesn't surprise me -- like Michael Jordan and Brett Favre, Lance is the kind of guy who can't stay retired. A friend of mine opined how classy it would be if Lance didn't pursue another tour de france title, instead sacrificing himself for Contador [or Levi. Remember Levi? Anybody?], and setting his own goals on other races. And yeah, that would be awesome. I would totally respect and enjoy watching that guy. But that guy isn't Lance. He can't NOT be the star.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I raced the ABR Team Time Trial National Championships on Sunday. It was really, REALLY fun. I had great teammates, really strong women, and their enthusiasm was exactly what I needed.

We had a few challenges going in. One of our team fractured her elbow last week, so we had a last minute replacement. Another was racing in Europe and didn't get back to Chicago until Saturday night, so she had a bit of jet-lag. The third forgot her shoes and ended up racing in borrowed sneakers. And I, well, let me count the challenges I had: I didn't have an aero setup, I'm still struggling a bit in the corners, and I've lost fitness since July. And we'd never been able to practice together. That was a big one. And we didn't get a chance to drive the course -- I was the only one who'd done this race before and had any familiarity with the course.

What we had going for us was Heidi, Noelle and Eileen -- all accomplished triathletes. Noelle led us out fast. As we rode, we got better at pacelining. We echeloned well. We were able to communicate and Heidi was great at giving positive encouragement. Unfortunately, we lost Noelle before the turnaround. The jet-lag and her inexperience in the paceline took its toll. Soon after, I was on the rivet, riding at my limit -- and beyond -- the rest of the way. Eileen was impeturbable. Heidi was a machine.

I was 100% focused on staying on Eileen's wheel. As Heidi dragged us around the second half of the course, I just hung on and tried not to drop the speed too much as I rotated through. When we got to the second to last turn, Heidi yelled "This is the last turn!" No, it's not, I told them. Then we turned into the crosswind and Heidi yelled "This is the hardest part!" No. I had to tell them, No it's not. Then we turned onto the interminable finishing stretch into the headwind. Heidi was pushing 23 into the wind. Eileen and I were doing our best to keep it above 20. I kept thinking I saw the end . . . but over and over we realized we weren't even close.

Finally, we got there. I tried to give it one last push and cross the line with Heidi and Eileen, but I had nothing left. Our time was 1:20:56 -- third place! And only 3:30-ish off the leaders. Our average speed was 23.9. If we practice and get good at pacelining, we can do even better next year.

This was a great way to end my road season.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Had the deck torn off my front porch yesterday. I knew there was a colony of carpenter ants -- I'd called an exterminator and they guy told me to put down poison, which he sold me. He poo-pooed any on-site examination or that they might be in the house.

Three weeks later, ant colony still large and active and when the workmen destroyed the nest, they all march down the support beam and disappeared into the house.

I called the exterminator back. He told me to put down more of the poison and again poo-pooed any suggestion that they might be in my house doing damage. WTF! I did what I should have done in the first place and called another exterminator [got both their names off Angie's list]. This place immediately suggested a perimeter check and a top to bottom examination of the house for infestation. I'm furious.


Team time trial is Sunday. I'm sorta excited about it and also sort of not. I'm feeling out of shape. My team seems pretty gung-ho and some are proposing extremely ambitious goals. Well, I'm always willing to suffer.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Carpenter ants. Aaaaaaiiiiiiii.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This morning on the Lakefront path I passed a woman whose shirt said "slow and steady wins the race." And I thought "Wow, that is SO not true."