Monday, December 29, 2008

Friday morning, I wake up determined to get in a good training ride outdoors. I'm so sick of the trainer -- after one week -- I would rather shove carpet tacks in my gums than turn one more pedal stroke indoors. I'm fully dressed for the 25 degree weather by the time the weather guy tells me that its icy out. I decide to give it a go anyway.

I get the cross bike and head out the gangway . . . to find the gate is snow/iced in and I'm not getting out of the yard that way. So I go in the back door and out the front door. The front porch is a touch slippery, and I can see the glossy sheen of sheer ice covering the front steps and sidewalk. But I have good balance, ice is rarely a problem. Confident in my abilities, I pick up my bike, put one bootie-encased mountain shoe on the top step . . . and fall down the stairs. All the stairs. Happily, I fell feet first and landed on the sidewalk on my butt -- I don't want to think about falling head first. I get up and check the bike -- looks OK; check the new iPhone in my back pocket -- it turns on; look around for my keys . . . and can't find them. Not on the ice or in the snow or in my pocket. They are, yes, at the top of the icy steps where I dropped them on my way down. I have to climb back up to get them, and then down again. This time, I make generous use of the railing.

I figure I'll give the ride a go -- I can always turn around if its impossible -- but considering how crazy icy my carefully shoveled front walk is, my plan of riding the lakefront path is out. I stick to the roads and head out towards Highland Park. The main roads were largely clear of ice, traffic was light, and I had a good ride.

Saturday its in the 50s when I wake up. I'm going on the team ride! I get my road bike off the trainer and pump up the tires. I tape the ankle I whacked on my trip down the stairs the day before, get my rain coat out and slip bread bags over my socks. I head down to Wicker, but find no one there. I wait around for a couple minutes, then head north up Damen -- people often join in on the way, and there should be a couple up at Pratt & Ridge. But there isn't. I am the team ride this week. I again head north towards Highland Park, enjoying the feeling of being on my road bike again. Its wet, but its warm, so I'm not suffering. North of Evanston, it gets misty, which is a bit freaky. I have several lights blinking on my bike and person, so I'm reasonably visible, but not being able to see more than 30 feet ahead isn't optimum. By the time I get back on Sheridan after the little detour on old Green Bay and Scott, its raining in earnest and the fog is increasing. At the top of the hills, I can't see the bottom. So a mile or so from Scott, I pack it in and turn around. Back on old Green Bay, I run into a Pony Shop guy, and we do a loop up Green Bay back to Scott together. Nice to have company. We diverge north of Evanston, and the rain lets up as I ride south. I'm half dry by the time I get home.

Sunday is sunny and bright. Its cooled down to the low 30s again, and there's a wind, but its a lovely day for a ride. I head to the lakefront path, sick of traffic and stop lights. There's a little ice, but nothing that gives me much trouble. Stiff wind from the southwest to get my heart beating. A really nice endurance ride.

I'm hoping the reasonable winter weather persists and the trainer can sit alone and unused.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I noticed this last night. Heh, I wonder if all the medals say "trail" instead of "trial" or I just lucked into this one.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Got back on the bike yesterday for the first time in two weeks. And I surprised myself with how much I WANTED to be on the trainer and how much I enjoyed it. Heh, that won't last.

Everything's a bit disorganized right now. I raced Montrose Harbor two weeks ago and haven't touched any gear since. I can't find my heart rate strap or embrocation [my new word, learned from Velonews and now used in a sentence]. Or my fingerless gloves. I can pedal for an hour without that stuff, but longer than that will be a problem.

I bought my plane ticket to training camp last week. I'm already excited!

Chicago Bike Racing has an interview with Kristen Meshberg up. She's teaming up with Devon next year -- the two amazing women who've dominated the local bike racing scene. I'm hopeful that I will grow to be competitive with them at some point. It won't be easy or quick, but consistent hard work should get me there eventually. Right? OK, it'll never happen. But I'm interested to see how the season will unfold anyway.

We have some new women joining xXx for 2009, and I'm very excited about that too. I can't wait to get them on the road.


I was flipping channels last night and came across concert footage of David Bowie as Ziggy Startdust and the Spiders from Mars. Which was pretty awesome -- I haven't seen it in a long time. I was reading Velonews while Mick Ronson played a 15 minute guitar solo in the middle of Width of a Circle while Bowie changed costumes [from something FloJo would have worn into a onesie an adorable 2 year old girl might wear]. Bowie finishes the song, then portentiously walks [barefoot] to the back of the stage. The camera lingers. Jackie yells "Mime! Do mime!" And Bowie runs forward . . . into an invisible wall!!! He actually does MIME! Jackie wails that she didn't mean it! But for several minutes he feels his way back and forth along the invisible wall until he finally finds a crack and pries it open. I watch, horror-stricken. Cringing into the couch. I want to die, both FOR him and just in general. When he's finally free of the wall, I go off to bed. Reconciling the absolute coolness of David Bowie with mime [and not even inventive mime] is too much for my tiny brain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My team had our annual banquet Sunday. It was a warm and friendly evening at Goose Island. Lots of food and mingling. My special lady, Jackie, DeeJayed -- and thus actually thoroughly enjoyed a cycling event.

I was again voted women's road MVP by my teammates. And was again overcome by that honor. To be respected by my peers means so much to me. My teammate Heidi presented the award and said so many nice things. I had the privilege to present the award for Women's Super Domestique to the person responsible for me not only being on xXx, but for getting into racing. Gigi is one of the hardest working people on the team -- on the road and off -- and I was very happy to see her recognized.

I'm still off my bike. The weather was temperate enough for riding over the weekend, and I hated to miss the opportunity. But it was excellent to spend time with Jackie. I'm hoping the weather will cooperate over my xmas vacation days so I can get in some long outdoor rides. Otherwise, I'll have ample time to practice riding the rollers. Ugh.

The iPhone continues to revolutionize my life.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Got an iPhone today. I feel like I'm on Star Trek.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I LOVE that the little list of heart rate zones by age on the Lifecycle elliptical trainer in the fitness center here lists the 'fat-burning zone' and 'cardio zone' heart rates up to age 100. Its so hopeful.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rats. I just went to Velosnaps website and checked out her pics of the women's 4s race at Montrose Harbor yesterday. Unless they skipped a few racers, it looks like I came in 6th -- which isn't as good as I wanted but certainly better than the 8th that the posted results had. Rats.

It was a frustrating race for me. I got there early, in the bitter cold and snow, to pre-ride the course. Which was key to not falling 50 or a hundred times during the race. I learned how to ride the steep, slippery little descents with a narrow 90 degree turn at the bottom, how to ride up the steep, slippery little ascents with almost no momentum. How to ride through the sand trap, and the deep snow before the second barrier. So technically, I rode the course well.

Except for the start. Which I muffed. I just didn't go hard enough and ended up trapped behind some slower riders on the narrow, snowy path, while the race rode away from me. Arg. I ended up trading leads with an unattached rider -- I think the same woman who rode a single speed at Woodstock. She had gears yesterday and it made a difference. That and I just wasn't on my game.

The fabulous news is that my teammate Eileen CRUSHED the competition and won the state championship handily. No one was even close to her. It was awesome! JT also took the junior state champion title [he was very polite as he sped past me, calling out "Tamara! Coming by!" with a South Chicago Wheelman hot on his heels].

The really bad news is that my coach crashed in the men's master's race and ended up in the hospital. Broken ribs and a punctured lung. At least its now officially the off-season.

Speaking of which, I have two weeks off the bike. I need it.

Maybe I was a tad overdressed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In the face of the weather report for today, I caved and sat on the trainer for two hours this morning. The Lakefront Path is icy and I can't get a good workout in rush hour traffic. So I pedaled and watched "Fried Green Tomatoes." It was that or "Angel" reruns. I can only watch the news for so long --too many commercials, too much repetition. I missed the ending of the movie . . . but didn't they barbeque the abusive husband and serve him to the chinless police detective? Ew.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Man, I'm really hating this snow.

I rode out early to attempt some cross intervals. The Lakefront path had been plowed, but there were long stretches of iciness. I could ride it, but not fast. I despaired. At Irving Park I got off my bike and jogged down to North, where I work. At least I got my heart rate up. And destroyed my shoe covers. Rats.

Rebecca Much passed me as I trotted along -- she was riding. Slowly.

Today is my birthday and I'm really sort of resenting that the weather isn't cooperating with me. My birthday last year was so awesome that this birthday was never going to be as good . . . but still. High point so far: my new knee socks.