Monday, April 26, 2010

All the Things I Missed

When I started as a school principal, a colleague of mine told me that the first she was completely overwhelmed. It was all she could do to keep her head above water and survive. Since she was in her third year as principal in that building, I asked her if it got any better. Her response was that the second year, you realize all those little things that you missed the first year.

That's a lot like bike racing to me. Last year, in most of my race, it was all I could do to survive. If I finished with the pack, it was by the sheer will, adrenaline and the grace of a higher power. This year it's as if a veil has been lifted. I see things I know I surely missed last year. I see tells of what racers are planning on doing. I notice when we work together as a pack or fight like a group of spoiled sorority girls. I hear gears being added and feel when someone is on my wheel.

I feel like a better racer this year. I know much of that has to do with increased off season training and fitness, but much of it has to do with being smart. Fitness is important, but being a smart racer is crucial. That being said, I'm close enough to last year to be humble as well. I know what it's like to barely make it through a race and I know the time is coming when I cat up and struggle all the more.

Racing is a never ending journey and not a smooth continuum. For every gain, I know pitfalls await. For each lesson learned, there are five more to come. I welcome the learning and the journey. I welcome the successes and failures along the way. Nothing in life is as simple as it seems. We might just ride around in circles, but there is an intricacy, a dance if you will, that is impromptu, just carefully choreographed. Just when you think you know it, a new step is added.

My years as a principal were filled with joy and heartache, success and failure, pride and shame. Each of those moments more important and valuable as the last. I'm sure my years of bike racing will be the same.

Super Soggy Tour of St. Louis

Saturday was damp and windy, definitely not the pick day for a bike race. I got a good warm up in on the course and felt pretty good. The course combined the Tuesday night crit course with the warm up loop we use, so I was very familiar with it. We had a nice field of women at the line, about 12. The whistle blew and we were off, or rather they were off because I slid right over the top of my pedal and my woman biz got intimate with the top bar. Ouch! I looked down and lined it up and finally got in. Time to make up some ground.

In the few seconds that took, the field was off. Tara was already off the front and there was no pack. I passed three of the MICDS girls, Nicole, and then the other MICDS girl. I saw Kate and Cat up ahead and bombed down the back hill to make up ground. I went after them on the next two hills and caught them on the hill towards the start line. I told Kate I was on and that we should go after the two other women that were in front of us. After a bit of a rest, I jumped in front and pulled. By the time we the first climb, I was on their wheel. I heard a sigh of relief from the Swedish girl. I told the group that if we worked together, we could nab Tara, the girl on the break. The Swedish girl was tired and looked to me to pull; I told her to give me 30 seconds and I’d take my turn. Bethany jumped up and took a rotation and I jumped in front. Most of our group tried to work together to go after Tara. There was no reason a good effort from five of us couldn’t chase her down. Ah, but sometimes you ride in a group with lazy racers. Now I really don’t get that…why race if you’re lazy? But here’s how it worked, we would take turns pulling the group and it would come to a particular rider’s turn. She would actually sit up. I would tell her to pull through and she would slow down until someone decided to go around her. She managed to hang third or fourth wheel the entire race, never a pull. I got frustrated with the group at one point and sat up and told them if they wouldn’t work, neither would I. I knew I with the wind, I couldn’t go after Tara on my own. We got down to two laps to go and the Swedish girl pulled the lap. Back around and the bell, one to go. I knew Kate had rested for a while and would be ready. She pulled off to the left on the straightaway and I was ready to go with her. I held onto her wheel through the entire lap. We came up on the last hill and I saw Cat in my periphery. I was up and out of the saddle and adding gear. Bethany pulled around on my left and the sprint was on. Cat had gotten the jump on me, but I wasn’t going to give this race to her because she hadn’t worked for it. The Women’s Open field had watched the race and taken notice of her lack of effort so I had a cheering section. Bethany took second and I pulled third out at the line.

I will have to say I sometimes need to keep my mouth shut. As we rode a cool down lap, our lazy racer made a comment about how strong Tara was. I agreed she was strong but that we should have caught her if the five of us had worked together. I followed that up by saying it would have been nice if she worked a little. Her response was that she did. I didn’t say a word to that and she realized my annoyance and said, “I worked as hard as I could.” Hmmmm, maybe some base building miles are in order for her.

After a few hours rest, the TT was up next. By this time, the weather had gotten a bit ominous. The head wind on the way out was going to be horrible, but that meant a great tailwind. I set the trainer under hatch of the truck and warmed up. At this point it was raining, varying between drizzle and downpour. I headed up to the line and got ready to head out. I rolled up, got my countdown and was off. The first three hundred yards had a nasty crosswind—so glad not to have a full disc wheel. After a slight bend in the course I was facing the headwind. I concentrated on cadence and form and rode as solid as race as I could. About seven minutes in I saw the girl who had started two minutes in front of me. She was a good goal for me, I passed her quickly and started to look for the turnaround. It was there in no time. I slowed down and came through it carefully and got back into the aerobars. My cadence was around 112 and I added a gear, another two minutes and I was up at 112 again—time for more gear. I ended up being able to add two more gears as I went. At 17 minutes, the guy behind me passed me. It wasn’t long and I made the bend back into the crosswind. I concentrated on keeping my speed up and staying upright. I zoomed across the mat and rode a couple of minutes to get my HR down. I finished and changed just in time. The tornado sirens sounded and you could see the wall of rain and hail move in. I helped the Big Shark guys pack up and we went out to get the riders left on the course. Everyone was accounted for—even the guy hiding in the concrete potty!

I got up this morning and saw that the TT results were posted. I took first! The best part of that is that I would have placed 4th in the open field, so I was happy with the results. That put me in a good mood for the miserable conditions for this morning’s race. Temps in the 50s, rain, 20mph winds with gusts in the upper 30s. What was I thinking????

Kate and I were chatting as we delayed our misery and Nicole rolled up. It looked like it would be just the three of us. Eventually we headed out to warm up. I will say that the $30 rain slicker I bought last month was well worth every penny. We did a couple of laps—it was a basic four corner, city crit with a long straight on the north and south side of the course and a block straight on the east and west ends. The southside would be nasty with a head wind and the north would be fabulous. Soli and Bethany showed up, so there would be five of us.

We rolled up to the line about 30 minutes late and got our pre race instructions and were off. I didn’t slip off the pedals today, but I did hesitate. I jumped in with the girls and around we went. This race was pretty straightforward. Kate, Bethany and I had an unspoken understanding that we would work together to survive the elements. One of us would pull the lap and on the west block, the next girl in line would say “pulling through.” Nicole dropped off our train pretty quickly, but Soli was able to stay with us until we had three to go. We lapped Nicole at that point and tried to get her to jump back in with us, but she couldn’t hold. Two laps to go and I took my pull. As we rounded the corner to the bell lap, Bethany moved up to take her turn. I moved onto her wheel and held on to her until turn three. We rounded that corner and I made a move. I pulled next to her as we rounded turn four. It was another all out sprint. I was up and out of the saddle and added gear as we went. She got me by a full wheel with Kate somewhere behind.

No omnium competition for women’s cat 4 this weekend, but I felt good with how I placed in each race.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hermann Race Report

Can I start by just saying that I am cooked well-done this morning? I think muscle memory and accountability are the only things that got me through a run this morning.

I did not go into this weekend's races with the best attitude. I will openly admit that I was scared of the first hill of the road race. I set a goal for myself of a super strong TT, followed by holding my own in the crit, and simply holding on in the road race. I knew there would be nine women going for the Omnium, several of them Cat 3 racers, I wanted a podium spot there.

Of course, Saturday morning we were running late...that's usually what happens when I travel with Klucker. We got to Hermann and got our chips with only 20 minutes till our TT start times. I got on the bike and warmed up as much as I could. I made sure I did a hard effort to agitate my heart rate a bit. I rolled up to the start house and got in line. My time came up and I moved onto the ramp. For the first time since I began TTing I clicked into both pedals right away...I felt very comfortable being held. Buddy gave me my count down and I was off. In my head I was screaming up, up, up. I stayed up on the bars through the first two turns. After that second turn I went down into the aero bars and powered over the bridge. The wind was crazy strong. I crested the bridge and tried to get my breathing under control. I concentrated on my cadence and pedal stroke and talked myself through the race. I made the next turn onto the two lane country road and told myself it's only 5.5mi out in the wind. About seven minutes in the lactic acid build up began its burn and I got passed for the first time. Three minutes later another guy flew past me. I just kept pedaling and kept them in my site. I got to the turn and flipped around...I still need to work on that with this new bike. I got out of the saddle to get a little power and got back into position. I added a gear but was disappointed not to have the true tail wind I was wanting; still it was better than the way out. In my mind I was trying to calculate if I could finish the race in less than 30 minutes. I saw the turn back to the bridge...the ride back seemed much shorter. All of sudden I was passed twice like I was sitting still, first by a guy, then by a woman. Onto the road to the bridge and the finish. The diagonal cross wind felt like it had picked up. I was doing my mental math again as I approached the crest of the bridge and saw the finish. I could have given a little more and finished in under 30, but I was afraid I wouldn't have it left for the crit. About 100 feet before the finish, another guy blew past me but I was just happy to be done. I rolled back into town and spun for a couple of minutes before heading to the truck to head over to the crit.

We drove over near the crit course and got ready to go. I rode the course twice and knew that two hills would make the race. The uphill was nasty, about 16% grade (I'm glad I didn't know that at the time) and the downhill was just as steep with awful pavement. About 150 yards after the downhill was a sharp right turn that was torn up on the inside. I had Ashley and Kelly with me on the course and I tried to talk them through what to think about because they're both new racers. I think that was good for me as well. We got back to the start/finish at the top of the hill and the final TT results were posted. I won by one second! YEAH! As they were staging it, Aero announced our results. We were getting our pre-race instructions when Aero announced the TT results were wrong; some woman from IA had beaten me by 8 seconds. WTH????I told myself that it wasn't the time to worry about it; I had another race to do. The whistle went off and so did Woodard. She took a quick jump and all of a sudden I was sitting 8th.Cory was up there with them and I told myself to relax and outlast them. Buddy had changed our time to 15 +3 so I just needed to race strong and smart. As we went around, I made my moves. At the end of the first lap, I was sitting 6th.I crested the hill and Amy, my teammate, was yelling at me to get back in my big ring. I listened and concentrated on moving forward. Next lap I was 5th across the line. This time I had Lo telling me to remember to smile because the photos would be on Facebook. Back in my big ring and back around. Third time across I was in 4th and right up with Ashley. Fourth lap and the prime point bonus bell. I had moved into third and heard Amy tell me to keep my gap. Back down and around and up again. I couldn't catch Woodard or Allison for the point’s bonus. I saw 16 minutes on the lap cards and secretly hoped they would read two to go on the next time around. Back around to the hill, nope three laps to go but we got a bell for another prime. I would make ground on the two leaders on the climb, but they took it back on the downhill and corner. With two laps to go, Allison took the lead from Woodard for the first time. Had she cracked? I was tired by this point but as I climbed, Stephanie ran along side of me telling me to spin and turn them over. Leave it to my incredible friend to know exactly what I needed and when I needed it. This was it, if I was going to do something I needed to do it this lap. I went all out on the downhill and didn't let them get that ground back this time. We weaved through the turns at the bottom and back to the climb. I had done the previous climbs seated (and from the photos I need to work on posture) but this time I was up and out of the saddle. I didn't give Woodard a second look as I took second from her. I gave it everything and put a pretty good gap on her as I crossed the line behind Allison.

With two good finishes I was sitting in first for the Omnium, I tried not to think about how I "had to finish" to win it all. I wanted to go out Sunday and race hard and stay on as long as I could. I didn't want to get over confident.

Sunday was a much quieter but start than Saturday. We got there in plenty of time. I went out for a warm up and wanted to pre-ride the first hill so I knew exactly what to expect. As I headed out of town, I asked a volunteer which way the race went and she pointed straight ahead. It was a big, long hill so I started climbing. I was about 3/4 of the way up when a pickup truck pulled alongside of me and told me I was going the right way. It was very nice of the guy, but he also kept edging me over until I was in the grass. Finally, I had to tell him thanks but go away. I turned around and found the right hill. The girls who told me it wasn't steep were lying--I'm thinking 20-21% at one point. It was steep, long and deceiving. I went about a third of the way up and knew that it would definitely crack the field apart. I headed back to town and towards the start line. I met up with Teresa and she told me to watch Woodard, she would be strong and that if I could make it through the first 12-15 miles, it would get easier. I also met another Big Shark woman who had finished 2nd in the TT the day before but hadn't raced the crit. Cheryl graciously told me she would do whatever I needed her to do to keep my place in the Ominium.

We rolled up to the line for prerace instructions and Aero called me out for leading the GC.I didn't want the attention because I just wanted to quietly race and maintain a good position. We got a whistle and rolled out. We had about a mile of neutral riding before we turned onto the hill and the official start. I did my best not to go out to aggressively but tried staying near the front. We had a moment where the hill flattened and it pitched up again. I stayed up with the leaders and got to the top. There were six of us at that point. I think we took a collective breath and organized for the descent. It was a quick down and back up. Five more riders got on with us at the bottom. I looked around and saw Ashley and Cheryl were there. We rotated through our line several times before the third climb. After the third descent, I was on the front and Ashley came up and said it's flat for a mile, let go. Our attack was off. It didn't last though. We were quickly caught and back in the group and head up the fifth climb. I fell to the back of the group during that climb. I knew I need to stay on and we'd have a respite at the top. We got up there and again regrouped. I took a GU and some Gatorade at that point. Our pace seemed to slow a bit as well. We had two women with us who were not strong in a pack. I did my best to stay clear of them.

From there, we had a progressive, gradual downhill to mile 20.Our next small climb came up and I saw Klucker up ahead. That meant he had fallen off of the men's group that started 10 minutes ahead of us. Cheryl came up and we talked about the end of the race. She offered to give me a lead out if we could get into position. We finished the climb and descent and headed to the QOM climb. Woodard and Allison attacked. I didn't have it left in me to stand and go after them for the points. Ashley and Cheryl went by me and I yelled to Ashley to go for the QOM. She didn't get them so that meant they would have extra Omnium points. I was off the back and tired. I crested and continued to pedal through the descent--no rest for me if I wanted to get back on. I heard Madeline come up alongside of me. I dropped back and took her wheel for about a minute to rest. We were heading into town and I was gaining ground. The pack slowed down a bit--I found out later that a truck got in front of them. Whatever it was, it was to my advantage. The group turned made the first turn towards the finish and I was about 5 bike lengths back, next turn I made up more ground. Two blocks to the final turn and I had Cheryl's wheel and told her to give me the lead out. She sling-shotted me around that corner and I was out of the saddle and going. I caught Allison's back wheel but couldn't pass her. I heard the Aero announce Cat took first with Ashley in second. I didn't know what Woodard had done.

I spun my legs out for a few minutes while I was waiting for the results. Woodard had taken fourth, but they also changed the TT results again--I had won. By my (and Stephanie via text msg) calculations that meant I maintained the Omnium lead, Woodard took second and Allison was third. YES!

Special note has to go out to a few ladies who raced 3/4s this weekend:
Two of our Racing 101 women did their first races this weekend: Kelly M. jumped in the hardest crit course I’ve seen and stayed strong. Madeline raced the road race and finished in the top half of her field!
Nicole L. raced the Omnium in fine fashion. She’s really doing a great job of jumping back into racing.
A big woo-hoo goes to Kate and her 3rd in the TT. Impressive!
And Ashley…4th in the crit, 2nd in the road race. Watch out when this girl gets some more experience under her belt. She’s incredible now and she’ll be unbeatable!

*Photo credits to Paul Pate. Thx, man!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pedal Packed Weekend--Racing Reports

This weekend marked my first “full” weekend of road racing ever. I went into it a bit nervous, excited, scared. And I survived it.

Saturday was a hard race for me mentally. I rodeup to Hillsboro with the Hub girls . . . my teammates on a different team. We got there in plenty of time, picked up our chips and headed out for our warm up. The course was very similar to the roads I ride here, country rodes with rollers, chip and seal pavement, corners filled with gravel. I felt very at home. The one piece that would be new and challenging were the 8-10 blocks before the finish, they were bricked. My plan for the race was to stay near the front of the lead group until that final hill and then attack. We finished up our warm up by riding the last hill and the bricks.

We pulled up to the line about ten minutes before the start and about two-thirds of the women were already on there. The field was full--50 cat 4 women. I politely edged my way forward into any gap I could see in the line up. I had heard from girls who had raced this course before that placement in the field from the start was important. We got our pre-race instructions and our whistle and were off. As we headed down to the first turn, I kept looking for gaps and moving forward. As we headed out by the feedzone, I was sitting around tenth and happy. Because this field was so big, there were a lot of unknown wheels. Several teams were well represented in our race and knew how to race as a team. There were also a good number of what I'm calling "professional cat 4 women racers." That's the nicest thing I can say about them. I have never heard so many "hold your line" or "watch your wheels" as this group was yelling at each other. You would have thought by the way they were yelling we were racing for a purse of $1,000 instead of a brick trophy.

The race began to settle down as much as it would about four miles in. We made our second of many turns and headed towards one of the four larger rollers we would encounter. At this point I had moved up to third or fourth in the pack, sitting where I would have liked to stay the whole race. We hit the hill and made the turn that came after and the first attack came. I briefly looked around to see if anyone was going to reel her back in and no one made a move. With this type of a course, a strong rider would be able to attack and stay away from a group as unorganized as ours so I went after her. Several riders jumped on my wheel and she was back in the group.

I'd say this is where I began to struggle mentally. Back in the pack, riding as a group, the poor sportsmanship of my fellow riders wore on me. Sure there were some weak wheels, but from my vantage, no one was purposely trying to cut anyone off. Women who were skiddish were apologetic. Most of the next 13 miles were a blur with a few exceptions. Somewhere in there I was sitting around 13th or 14th and there was a gap about three deep in front of me. Carrie has always told us if your handlebars can fit, so can your bike...move up quickly and make sure the girls on either side see you so they don't squeeze you out. I began to pull forward and a girl on my left yelled at me, "you need to get over and grab her wheel." I didn't even look at her, I just quietly told her she needed to race her race and I would race mine. Her retort was, "why don't you just go all the way up the middle and crash us all." I told her she better hold tight to her bars because that was my exact plan. I then moved up. A few miles later, a girl on my right laid over me and yelled to someone to watch their line or something, as I moved away from her, I heard her go down. I saw another girl flat...I knew better than to ride on the inside of these roads, there were still cinders from the winter there. We hit some nasty pavement with hunks of road missing. And I saw a stupid attack. I was sitting pretty far back in what was the lead group at the time...I don't know when or where the back half of the field fell off. I'm assuming the leaders were tired and wanted off the front so they slowed down. It was a nice recovery for my heart rate, but there were a good number of women who felt they needed to surge and brake, surge and brake to deal with the easier pace. I watch a girl next to me...around 12th-14th, cross the yellow line and attack from there. She didn't last long, but we were back at it.

Around mile 20 I began to really feel fatigued. We turned onto a better paved road and the group surged. I couldn't hold on. In my mind I told myself that I had raced a good race, and would finish strong but was prepared that I would ride the last ten alone. The wheel truck went around me and I took a deep breath. I grabbed the Gu I had stashed in my shorts and took a few drinks. I then thought about something Steph had told me--after the Forest Park crit, she said that she could tell I was going to struggle holding Kate off because my cadence had dropped. Her exact words were, "when you're turning your high cadence, no one can hold on to you." I could still see the field in front of me and saw two girls had dropped off and the wheel truck had gone around one of them. I dropped a gear and sped up my cadence using that girl as my rabbit. If I could catch her, I'd have someone to work with on the way in. I watched the other girl get back on with the pack. We went past a couple of volunteers at an intersection in lawn chairs and I had a momentary want to stop and join them, but I saw the Metro East girl catch the wheel truck. It had to move for her. Damnit, that truck was gonna move for me too. I wasn't done. I pushed my cadence and watched that truck move for me. I heard "go get ‘em Big Shark as I went around." I was back on with the group. I was tired from my bridge, and tried to move a little farther into the pack. I sat there until an attack went off with about six miles to go. The front of the group let her go for a bit. She got about 500 yards on the field before they started to pull her back. I was at the back, fighting to hold on when a girl hit my back tire. Thank God for cyclocross and learning how to hold my bike. I fell off the the pack, but stayed up right. The girl went in the ditch, but somehow stayed upright as well and was back on the road. She yelled "I'm sorry" and I told her no worries.

By this time we were at the beginning of the last hill. I was about 50 yards off the pack. I sat up and slid back to climb. I was gaining ground. The hill flattens out in the middle and went through and intersection before it's final pitch. A truck was in front of me and stopped dead in the intersection. He started to move forward and stopped again. I was almost to the point of need to clip out. I saw a course marshal and asked if we could go around and he waved us through. I saw the pack turn the corner to the bricks at the top of the hill. I knew I didn't have it left in me to catch them. I made it up the hill and turned the corner. I held tight on my bars through the brick, losing my favorite water bottle in the process. The girl who rubbed my wheel had my wheel. She held tight to me into the finishing straight. We hit 200 meters and I stood to sprint. My legs had a different idea. I still pushed it, but she got me by a bike length. I finished 17th, 1:31 back of the winner with an overall pace of upper 20mph.

I say it was mentally tough because I couldn't shut out the complainers. I let them drain me of my energy and take the fun out of racing for me. I got off my bike, fully ready to not go to the line next Sunday at the Hermann road race. I vented to Kate, Ashley and anyone else who would listen and by the time we all regrouped at the feed zone to support our Women’s Open friends, I was in a much better place mentally.

Hanging in the feedzone was fun. We watched the racers zoom by, patiently waiting for our women. Finally we saw the single breakaway rider come through. The pack hit about 35 seconds later. We didn’t feed our girls well. I’d say only two or three of the seven in the pack got hand ups. After they passed, we talked about who we didn’t see and kept an eye for them. Within a few minutes, Steph and Alice came rolling by in a group of four. We were able to give both of them hand ups.

Our feeding duties done, we walked to find a new spectating spot. Since we had at least 90 minutes till the women’s finish, Ashley and I walked to course, talking racing, training and looking for the missing Big Shark bottle…it wasn’t to be found. We headed back towards the finish line and hooked up with Kate and Katie. We talked to Larry about the race and hung out. Finally the women’s leaders were in site. It was a break of three and none of them my friends.

The mass of the pack was next, we Carrie giving a brief sprint effort and taking 5th. Eventually the others came in. The pack was pretty splintered. We were down to waiting for Steph and Alice. Alice rolled through but no Steph. We talked to the girls who had raced and they were spent. Time passed and I got worried. Finally, in the distance, I saw Steph’s familiar outline—she looked labored. As she crossed the line she stopped and I really got scared. She couldn’t talk to us. She was done. Thankfully Larry was on her left because I think she would have fallen without him. We got her off her bike, off the road and sat her down. Those next 10-15 minutes reinforced to me why I hated the group I raced with earlier. Our group of women love racing and do it with class—on and off the road. We take care of each other and that’s what we did. Steph eventually started moving and making sense with the help of Gatorade and love.
I woke up Sunday not entirely sure I was up to racing. I was still feeling the after effects of the sun and the mean girls from Saturday. I began to pack my bag and something about slipping into those bibs made me want to go racing. I heard the race director’s voice from the day before in my head, “boogity, boogity, boogity, Let’s go racing!”

We got to Tilles and I registered, pinned on and clicked in. I found the Hub girls and we hit the course between the Masters and Juniors races for a few laps. Once we got kicked off course, Ashley and I met up with Jamie and headed out to warm up on the road. We got a great warm up in and did two more laps after the juniors finished. For the first time in my short racing career, I willing and knowingly rolled up to the line in the Women's Open field. My goal for the day was to stay rubber side down and hold on as long as I could.
There were 15 women in the Open field. Nine of us were local and the rest had stayed over from Saturday's road race. We got our pre-race instructions and a whistle. These girls started fast. I tried to position myself well in the pack so that I could minimize my work load and hold on longer. I had started in my big ring, but was having trouble keeping my cadence high so I dropped to the small. The first two attacks came and I held on. Lap three and attack three saw me fall off the back. I thought about soft pedaling but also wanted to be ready in case anyone else fell off. After two laps by myself, Teresa saw that I was still in my small ring. She got on to me and I made some adjustments to get in the big ring and hold my cadence. I had forgotten my HR strap, so was riding by feel in that area. The next lap I got passed by the leaders. Chris and a Tulsa girl had made a break. I kept waiting for the rest of the pack so I could jump in, but they were at least half a lap back still. I concentrated on finding a good zone for myself--high cadence without exhausting myself. I also reminded myself at some point that I was having fun and actually was able to smile through the rest of the race.

We were on the course with Women's 4 and some of the juniors had fallen off. I tried to encourage them and help them out as I went by--this was their first race. Finally I saw another W-O rider had fallen off. She was my carrot and I went after her. I had her wheel and within a half lap, the pack had us. I jumped back in and sat on. I made sure I wasn't on the back of the pack so that I didn't get dropped when we they surged. Chris and the Tulsa girl eventually lapped the pack and sat back in with us.

We got to four laps to go and I knew it was going to heat up again. Amy and I talked about strategy for the sprint--I knew I couldn't contest it as a lapped rider, but I could try to give her a lead out. The next three laps were a blur. The typical sprint point for Tilles in right after the last turn, about 250M. On Sunday, the sprint started way earlier than that. They went off like a shot and I had no chance to give Amy any help. I hung on to the group as we rolled through and stayed out of the leaders’ way.

I ended up 14/15, although I think it was actually a scoring error that the woman in 15 didn't protest. I felt good through the race and was able to see attacks develop. I think the pace of this race may have been a bit slower than some because the Tulsa and Mesa girls both a rider in the break and kept anyone else from trying to get a catch organized.

I learned a lot this weekend. I pushed my physical and mental limits and survived them. Both days I was able to race my race, my way. The results may not have been what I would have ideally liked, but in the end, I feel I was successful.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday: To Work or Not to Work?

Today is Good Friday, an extremely important day in the Christian, specifically Roman Catholic, calendar. As a child growing up in a solely Christian community in Southern Illinois, I always had the day off school. In some year, my “mini break” included Holy/Maundy Thursday and Easter Monday as well. My mother always took the Friday off work to be home with us. And the most I remember of religious observances on the day was not eating meat.

This morning I checked my Facebook account before heading to work and found that several of my teacher friends in neighboring districts were upset because they had to work today. Once even commented that she felt persecuted for being a Protestant and could never remember having to work on Good Friday. I wanted to argue with her and tell her that I know that district had school in 2002 and 2003, but figured I was wasting my breath. The comments caused me to do something thinking, research and discussion on the topic though.

I should preface all this by saying I’m not an overtly religious person. I believe in a higher power and I’m spiritual, but I find organized religion somewhat of a farce. The reason for these feelings is that I’ve found so many “religious” folks to be total hypocrits. Case in point was my former father-in-law, the minister and police officer, who told me that if you put phone books under a suspects clothing and then beat them with your baton it wouldn’t leave visible bruises. Preach it, Reverend H!

Enough digression…Good Friday is not a federal holiday in the United States. Some states and municipalities choose to recognize it, but the United States as a whole does not. I can agree with this based on the idea of the separation of church and state. As I discussed this with my brother, the religious right ultra conservative this morning, he disagreed with me. His take is that the United States was founded on Christian principles. He felt people who believe in other religions should be allowed to use personal or vacation time, but now given a day off from work. Now, I do not disagree that our founding fathers were all Christians. However, if we’re not founded on the concept of separation of these two entities, why do we have two clauses written in our Constitution? The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause both lead me to the belief that no one should be forced into any religious belief in which they do not believe. Thomas Jefferson authored the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom that stated

... no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

Call me crazy, I’ve been called worse, but to me that states that no one should be forced to celebrate any religious holiday to which they do not subscribe. Thus I would extrapolate from that if the federal or state government shut down businesses, schools, offices, aren’t they forcing the recognition of the day.

I don’t have any problem with people taking Good Friday as a vacation or personal day. I would even encourage it, if they were doing the traditional observation of attending a worship service, fasting, or avoiding any work all together. But even my right wing sibling had already been shopping this morning to buy plants and mulch to work in his yard. If we’re taking Good Friday as a holiday, what about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first and last days of Passover. If we’re all about equality, shouldn’t our Jewish citizens enjoy their holidays as well without being required to use a vacation or personal day?