21/365: CX isn't just tough on the racers. It wears out my cheering section too. Is it any wonder people ask me if they're twins?
Sunday, October 31, 2010
21/365: CX isn't just tough on the racers. It wears out my cheering section too. Is it any wonder people ask me if they're twins?
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Ah, the Bubba costume race . . . anyone in costume, or in the top 10 overall standings, got a call up. I fit both so I was in good shape off the start. The course was very flat, not technical, and included the beach at the lake. There were 31 women at the line. That in and of itself is pretty amazing.
We got our start and went off in the dark. We hit the sand still bunched up. I'm assuming when I shouldered my bike, I hit my speed/cadence sensor because when I remounted, I heard and felt something on my back wheel. The barriers were next up, so I stopped to see what was going on. It took me a couple of minutes and some deductive reasoning before I figured it out. By that time, I was DFL. UGH! I hopped on and took off with the intention of seeing how many girls I could pass.
I did pretty well. I ended up 17th overall, probably still DFL for the A race. There were a couple of highlights for the evening for me. My running was great. Everytime we hit the sand, I was able to shoulder the bike and make up good ground--no walking whatsoever. It was my strong point in the evening. I was also a crowd favorite in the sand. I had filled out the front of my costume with Whoppers. Everytime I hit the sand, I tossed a handful to the crowd and yelled "trick or treat." By the third lap, they were asking for candy.
The best part for me though was the perfect, or at least felt perfect, remount on the last lap. I didn't rush myself, I ran with the bike until I was ready to throw my leg and did it without a hop! I was beaming the entire last lap...all as a French maid.
My photo for the day is a pre-race shot. I chose it because it shows how amazingly creative my friends are. As a kid, I made most of my costumes. As an adult, I've only dressed up the last two years. I have to give huge kudos to both Steph and Cindy (as well as many others) for their creativity and originality. I'm hoping that some of it wears off on me.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Daisy joined our family in September 2000. At that time, we had three finicky felines who kept us entertained. My dad worked with her breeder who was looking to get rid of the four final pups in the litter. Bud and Sally had gone to my great uncle. Another one went to my pseudobrother Tony. That left an adorable little female named Daisy. My dad set me up. He made sure I played with the Bud & Sally one Sunday afternoon. They nipped at me and gave great puppy kisses and even fell asleep while I was holding them. It was then that my dad set the hook. "If Brian doesn't find a home for her, he'll euthanize her. He can't feed another dog." Tuesday morning I drove to Olivette, picked her up and took her home, and drove back to Ladue for work--all by 7:00 AM. Daisy quickly asserted herself as royalty and demanded to be treated as such.
The rest of the story of these pups has to be told as well. The dog Tony took ended up passing away before she was a year old. Sally got lime disease and died as well. Bud was gun shy and liked to run. My uncle couldn't hunt him and got tired of picking him up from town or the neighbors. Bud became Buddy, a city dog, and was reunited with Daisy shortly before they turned three years old. He was a kind, gentle dog who wanted nothing but a walk and a belly rub. Buddy left us last spring as quickly as he joined us. We were lucky that we were able to be his people, even if it wasn't as long as we would have liked.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Two things happened last in October 2009 to remove me from the Halloween Humbug category: CycloX and Team Rev. See, I had to come up with a costume to wear to the Halloween Bubba race because those in costume got a call-up and I could use every advantage I could get. And then Team Rev had a costume ride. I figured that since I already had masterminded my $10 costume (the cost of my knee socks and scarf!) I should be frugal and get as much use out of it as possible. In the course of those two evenings, something changed. Maybe it was the looks we got as we cruised through the streets of Webster. Maybe it was trying to figure out how to keep my pirate sword on my back as I jumped barriers. Whatever it was, I felt like a kid again.
This year my Halloween preparation started early. (Last year I waited until the Monday before the Wednesday ride to decide on what to wear). As I brainstormed ideas with Steph, it seemed that the Nadeau basement would become my Halloween headquarters, and that I would have different costumes for each event. What could be better!
Tonight was our first big event. This year Team Rev is leading a weekly night ride from the Bottleworks. We decided to pair our costume ride with the night ride and a happy hour all in one. No one can say we don't take full advantage of opportunities. At 6:45, eleven women clicked in and began to pedal. Our evening's itineray was: Maplewood Bicycles, Maplewood Firehouse, The Hub, and Straub's. (If only Big Shark was on that side of Hwy 40!)
We attracted quite a few looks as we pedaled along. After all, it isn't everyday you see a teen mom and a USAC official spinning down Manchester or Big Bend. We were slowed a bit as our soon-to-be mommy had to retrieve her smokes that kept falling from her bra strap. One of the best comments of the night came early as we hopped off our bikes at Maplewood, "Must be a Team Rev ride." Hmmm, wonder what gave us away? Stewart was quite amused by the whole scene and snapped more photos than we did. The firemen didn't quite know how to take us. Ron at the Hub traded beer for candy and the manager at Straub's didn't seem to mind being surround by 11 ladies for a quick photo op.
I couldn't decide on what photo to pick, so I thought I'd share several.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I got home a little after 8. I now have a sign that hangs from the garage door that says, "Bike?" But I guess Boo thought that wasn't enough. He decided I needed a reminder in the driveway as well. Love that kid!
So what did I lose and why didn't I have this junk backed up? (Good questions) Well, several years ago, I diversified with my flash drives. I have, strike that, had a home, work, Team Rev, former job, and miscellaneous drive. My theory was that I could take everything with me, not get files confused, and would always be ready to go. Ooops. It was my home drive that bonked. It had photos, lots of them. Many of them recovered and recreated from when our home computer crashed last year. That being the reason most of this wasn't backed up...it was my back up. I lost my Christmas card list and address labels. Gone is my resume and digital copies of letters of reference. I know there is other data that was on there that I lost as well. I won't realize what it is until I need it.
I can't bring myself to toss the offending drive just yet. I'm holding out hope that I'll pop it in a port in a few days, weeks, and magically everything will be there. We should all have dreams. Until that miracuously happens, I'm trying something recommended by one of my favorite techies, Drop Box. It's a cloud storage system that automatically syncs to every machine on which you install it. Don't worry, I'll back it up.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Steve rode two laps of the course with me pre-race. I learned how to ride over the railroad tie that was on the first part of the course. I did it a couple of times during the warm up, but didn't feel confident enough to try during the race. He also gave me a tip on cornering, telling me to pedal the whole way through...not instinctive for me as a crit racer. We rode the rest of the course to the barriers. There were three oddly spaced ones on a slight uphill. Steve gave me a dismounting tip of holding the top bar instead of the hoods and then we worked on remounting. I am moving forward when I remount now, but I am adding an extra hop in when swing my leg onto the saddle.
So the race . . .
The course today was one for which I was well-suited. Lots of long straights needing power, little to no technical portions and about two miles in length. The ground was hard and bumpy and there were lots of sections with high grass. Around 24 women lined up with eight or nine of us in the A race. (We had a contigent go to Louisville for the US Grand Prix). I was strong off the start and was in fifth. I moved up to fourth on the first dirt straight. By the end of the second lap, I had fallen into seventh. I jumped in my big ring as I turned onto the start/finish straight and worked at making up ground. I was back onto Alice and Amy B's wheel and I tried to shift into the small ring so that I could spin though the high grass and long slow climbs. I dropped my chain and got impatient trying to back pedal and hopped off to get it back on. I lost the wheels and never made it back to them. Lap 4 I came up on Stephanie M. and Liz on the first straight. At that point, I had no idea how I had caught them, I just knew I need to get them. Steph is a teammate, so I close to her and offered my wheel. She said she was spent and offered to pull me up. I took her wheel and waited for the opportunity in the high grass to pass. I got it and went. I made the left for the long stretch to the back of the course. I didn't know Liz was coming on my inside. Before I knew it, I was over my bars in the tall grass with Liz and her bike on top of me. It was an amicable crash with both of us checking on the other. We both got up and took off. I rode her wheel as much as I could. She gained a little ground on me on the barriers. (Steve told me the last time over was my best but still not good). I went as hard as I could to catch her. We turned onto the long paved uphill before the turn to the start finish. I sat up, adjusted my gearing and spun myself past Liz. I knew she would take my wheel and tried to gap her, but she still had something left. We turned onto the start finish and I was out of the saddle sprinting as hard as I could. I heard Liz pull to my right and the crowd yelling at us. She pushed her bike and got me on the line. I ended up in 5th.
I worked with Steve on remounting after the race as well. I know I need to put what I learned into practice now.
I found out after the race that Steph M had fallen back because she was cooked from Berryman yesterday. Liz had lost count of the laps, sprinted against a B racer, and pulled off the course only to realize there was still a lap to go. I'll still take a top five finish anyway I can get it.
My picture today comes from the Men's C race. I was watching with Steve, wondering where Klucker had gone. A few minutes later I got my answer. He come walking up, pushing his bike with his bars in two. He hadn't crashed, they simply broke. It may have been a left over from last weekend's dump in the gravel. Steve's take is that you shouldn't ride carbon bars in cx anywhere. It'll be off to the Big Shark for Klucker today . . . new bars and tape. This sport gets expensive very quickly.
(You'll note there is no photo for this post. I wrote my text after taking this shot and waited to upload. I uploaded three days worth of shots and came to the blog to post. When I went to look for the shots, my computer wasn't recognizing my flash drive where my photos were saved. IT has had no luck recovering them. The photo was a black and white shot of the bars of the bike, with one side hanging, only attached by the cables. It was very painful to look at if you're a bike lover.)
Saturday, October 23, 2010
(You'll note there is no photo for this post. I wrote my text after taking this shot and waited to upload. I uploaded three days worth of shots and came to the blog to post. When I went to look for the shots, my computer wasn't recognizing my flash drive where my photos were saved. IT has had no luck recovering them. The photo was a black and white shot of the bikes hanging on the wall in our garage, with one on the stand. )
Friday, October 22, 2010
(You'll note there is no photo for this post. I wrote my text after taking this shot and waited to upload. I uploaded three days worth of shots and came to the blog to post. When I went to look for the shots, my computer wasn't recognizing my flash drive where my photos were saved. IT has had no luck recovering them. The photo was Boo, in his jammies that are too small [think high water] with his feet up the side of the wall of his bed and his head upside down)
On our way tonight, we met up with Tommy & Jenny. I remembered I had my camera in my jersey pocket and snapped this quickly. I decided to put it up because as I think back over the course of the last several years, Jenny has a lot to do with me getting back on the bike. (and I don't think she knows it.) I had started running after I had Bella and was dealing with a lot of pain and tightness in my glutes and hamstrings. I decided to give yoga a try and Jenny was the teacher. She was also a triathlete and was beginning her training for a half Ironman. She invited me along on a ride with the group and thus my love affair with my bike was rekindled. I may have eventually made my way back there, but she certainly was a catalyst for getting it started sooner and getting me to ride with a group.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Occasionally something happens though and it stops me dead in my tracks. And I remember. This time it was two things, back-to-back. The first started on October 8. I stepped on the scale and it read 140. The same on October 9, and again the next day. I got clammy. My heart started palpitating. My weight shouldn't be this high, and not three days in a row. I knew the problem. Overeating and poor choices on light or rest days. Alcohol and ice cream are my weaknesses. So I logged into livestrong.com and started my calorie counting again. And then comes my birthday. Klucker got my favorite for my birthday, cheesecake. I couldn't say no and hurt his feelings. I had run that morning and had prepared for a larger evening meal so I didn't exceed by that much.
By Thursday, I was down two pounds. I try to keep my weight around 134 and give myself a two pound leeway in both directions. I was feeling better and knew there was still hard work to be done. I spiked again on Sunday but dropped back down to 138 by Tuesday. And that's when the second shoe dropped. Pictures from Sunday's race.
Now unless you're 5'4" and weigh 105, spandex doesn't look good on women. It doesn't hide imperfections. But seeing myself on the bike, in racing form, with my tummy hanging there was too much for me to handle. I'm now obsessing over it. I googled 1,400 calorie menus so I can have a plan on Tuesdays and Fridays when my workouts are light. I can quote the calories in almost every salad at St. Louis Bread Co. And I know how many calories I'll burn if I push my run harder than normal. What I don't know is when this will go away.
I was a chubby, one of those girls with a "pretty face." I lost a lot of weight in college only to gain a good portion back when I started teaching. I lost it again when I got married, only to gain it back within a year. So the yoyo has gone. I made up my mind when I was pregnant with Bella that I would never hit double digit clothing again. I wouldn't be one of those moms who wore mommy jeans. And, so far, so good. But it's a constant battle, mentally and physically. It tires me. And I want to have to not worry about what I eat or getting a workout in. I long for a metabolism that will let me have ice cream and beer in the same day. I wish I could justify that bratwurst after the cx race, but I know exactly how many calories I burned and those won't be on my meal plan this season. I'm not fishing for compliments, I'm just venting. And figuring out how hard I have to ride so I can have that margarita tonight.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I haven't done much riding at night. I've probably ridden at 4AM eight to ten times since I started racing, but there is no one on the road at that hour, and I keep my route confined to well lit subdivisions. I'm going to do the Team Rev Halloween Night ride next week, and probably try to do a few more of the Rev night rides. They will go through the City where street lights abound compared to my country roads. All I know is that it's better than the trainer.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Aren't those words to live by? I have to wonder when I stopped dancing like nobody was watching. As a parent, I love to watch my kids explore, learn and discover. It's so incredible to watch the world unfold through their eyes. But I also worry about the beauty of childhood wearing off. Right now, for both of them, life is an adventure a minute. They are eager and enthusiastic. They're not afraid to try new things or to laugh at themselves. And when we play together, I can do those things as well.
I don't want to see the jadedness of cynicism of life kick in for them. I dread the day a friend betrays them or someone breaks their heart. I know, sooner than I'd like, a furry purry kiss or cuddle won't solve the all the problems in the world for them. And that breaks my heart. Being a parent is the best part of my life, yet the very hardest. I second guess decisions and I worry. I dream of how my babies will be when they grow up and I hate watching it happen because it means the frivolity of childhood is slowly slipping away.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Sunday morning brought another trip to Buder Park for the second race. The course was basically the same, with the addition of a steep paved section and a few more turns added. We took 25 women to the line, 10 in the Women's A.
We got the instructions from Buddy who was sure to mention the correct way to use the pit and then we were off. I was quickly passed by all the Women's A group and several B ladies. My goal for the day was to be strong and do what I could do. I stayed upright through the race (a big accomplishment for me) and made some good progress on my remounts. All of them were in motion. I had a few missteps on the barriers, but overall did ok. As sick as it sounds, the hill was my favorite part of the course. Climbing with a sub compact crank, even with soft tires, is kinda fun! My other accomplishment was riding the final two laps in the big ring, except for the climb. I've never done that in a cx race. I ended up ninth on the day. Not a stellar finish, but a complete race.
After everything was over, I did my Team Rev race clean up duty. Steph and I, along with Chris and Carrie, helped to take down what seemed like miles of caution tape and hundreds of wooden stakes. After packing up the registration area, the packing of the van began. I was thoroughly amazed at the entire process. All of the race supplies somehow were maneuvered into the van, with room still remaining for Mike and SweetPea. It was an interesting way to end the day!
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
But don’t we all, to a degree, live in our own little world. Our experiences and relationships shape us into unique individuals. No matter how similar two people are, each does have their own world. Atticus tells Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” But how do you do that?
A month or so ago, I began noticing a sorority sister’s posts on Facebook. She was posting daily photos as part of her “365 project.” I became curious and turned to Google. What I found out was that basically this is a visual way to capture a year of your life. You take a photo daily, of whatever moves you, and share it. Heck, Apple even has an app for it! It’s supposed to improve your photography skills, be easier than blogging, and help you capture otherwise forgotten moments in my life. I think it will let others “climb into my skin” as well.
So today, an appropriate day I believe as my racing age and chronological age become one, I will begin my 365 project. My goal is to post my photos here and give a brief description of who, where, where, when, why or how. My goal in this (because, yes, I must always have a goal) is document my journey in life, to document the world according to Suze. I hope you enjoy my photos and reading my captions, and I ask that you help me with accountability. I don’t think this will be easy once the novelty wears thin. Email or call me if I’m tardy with a post. Ask me about my shots. Try it yourself.
Enough rhetoric, let’s begin.
1/365: "Tag, Your It!"
This tag was on my birthday present tonight. Klucker bought it a few weeks ago at Big Shark and didn't know where to hide it here at home. He wanted to leave it at the shop, but also knew that I go in there frequently and may become suspicious if I saw a hold tag with "Klucker" on it because he knows I wonder around coveting carbon while I'm in there. He told Devlin to make up a name, just put Bob. Devlin thought he was crazy until I happened in the next day. Klucker may live in his own world, but he at least peers through the window into my world enough to know some of my habits. He found the tag pretty amusing. I found it impressive that he planned that far ahead--the date on the tag was over two weeks ago. Not bad for a guy who Christmas shops on December 23.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I've had the opportunity to make this distance at various times. Every time Klucker and I did the MS150, he did a century on the first day. I either didn't feel I could or just plain didn't want to do it. I've had long base building rides on my training schedule that put a century within reach, but never pulled the trigger for whatever reason. I had offers at this year's MS ride, but decided it wasn't the right time. Yesterday, however, was the right time.
Earlier this summer, I shared pieces of my bucket list--things I wanted to do before I died. And I committed to actively working to accomplish those things as well. I checked one off on July 4; October 10 another one got a line through it.
I didn't even think about the date when Steph and I decided to do the Ride the Rivers Century: 10/10/10--a perfect 10 day. And my first century lived up to that in every way. When we talked about riding a century, Steph graciously agreed to accompany me on the journey, to be my mental support when the miles felt heavy on my legs and mind. I chose Ride the Rivers for a couple of reasons. First, I loved the route. Starting out in St. Charles, over the Missouri, down to the RFT, over to Illinois before two ferry crossings back to our start. The scenery would be amazing. Second, October is my favorite time of year. And the timing was perfect, I couldn't think of a better way to start my birthday week.
I got to Steph's house and moved my bike to her car and we took off. She was a brave woman--she was starting this jaunt with no coffee! Our drive was filled with our normal chatter, including the idea that both of us were tired and maybe not completely into this idea. I left my car keys in my pocket just in case we decided to cut the ride short and head back to her house. It was a cool 55 degrees and we put the wheels on our bikes and headed to registration. MaryK greeted us and gave us our wrist bands and ferry ticket. We also got great socks for pre-registering. A quick hollar to Mr. Weiss and the Big Shark boys and we were pedaling.
Our first river crossing was on the 364 bridge over the Missouri. The sun was still pretty fresh in the sky and the view was incredible. We headed towards Creve Coeur park because I needed a quick pit stop before we were off again. We headed to the "big climb" of the day, Marine. I was interested in seeing how I would fare against it because I recently switched my rear cog back to a 25. Posture, spin 'em and breathe were my mantra. Up and over with no problem. I had to laugh over the next ten miles or so because Marine was just the introduction to a small onslaught of less challenging but relentless hills. Along the way we began to catch other riders who had started earlier. We saw the Big Shark Special Ops crew on the side of the road with a flat and I wondered how long it would be before they overtook us.
The first rest stop for the event was at Forest Park and we decided to forgo it. The Team Rev ladies were out there and gave us a shout out as we rolled by. We continued due east until we hit the Riverfront Trail. This stretch brought back lots of memories for me. When I first started riding, we lived in the City and I was petrified of riding in traffic. I hit the trail almost daily back then, but have only ridden it once in the last six years. We passed more cyclists along the way and were at the Chain of Rocks in what seemed like a blink of the eye.
We utilized the Chain of Rocks rest stop for fluids and snacks. MaryK was there as well, serving as an awesome hostess. I also ran into a school board member from my former district. Our brief entertainment there was a toad that didn't want to leave a girl's bike. He jumped on her front tire and proceeded to crawl under the front fork. I think he was auditioning to be a new SRAM model! Some of the Rev girls were pulling in as we headed out. A brief hello and we were back at it.
The Chain of Rocks bridge took us across the mighty Mississippi, another breathtaking view. I was excited to learn as we crossed the subsequent canal bridge that metal tiles were place in a bike lane over the grates. I used to be so fearful when I rode it years ago. We hit Illinois soil and I told Steph that if we wanted to abandon now, my house would be the quicker option. We snaked our way through the road of Madison County before hitting the wonderful trail over there. My question about being caught by the Big Shark force was soon answered as the sailed past us. I jumped on a wheel and we hung for a few miles before I needed sit up. They were flying. As we fell off, we started riding with two guys, one of whom had just joined our Big Shark team. The four of us had a great conversation that passed time until we came up on part of the Big Shark group that had eased up. We chatted with them as they brought us the last half mile to lunch.
Our lunches were huge, we could have shared one . . . way too much food to eat and be able to ride another 46 miles. We ate and relaxed for a few minutes before setting out again. Steph M was the only Rev rider we saw at this stop, she had done a little solo time trial on the last few miles of the trail.
The next stretch of the ride took us along the Great River Road, past Grafton. For me, this was the toughest part of the ride. The wind would pick up in spurts, the road was heavily trafficed, and it seemed endless. I have heard others talk about the mental wall on a century and I hit mine there. At one point I remember thinking that we were too far from Steph's or my house to stop, I might as well push through. Steph and I took turns taking short pulls and working our way north. When I saw the "Welcome to Grafton" sign, I knew we were close to a ferry. We turned off the River Road and hit a paved trail. I had been in front and wanted a rest, as I went left, I realized that three guys had fallen in with us. I was trying to get back behind Steph, but another biker was coming towards us and I finally had to tell the guys they needed to let me back in. That should have been my first clue about these guys. My real first clue came as we hit a small hit and the guy in front wasn't ready to climb it and turned himself sideways on the center line so that I had to go to his right to pass and avoid him. We let them all pull around us and enjoyed the beauty of this section. The trail was surrounded by trees and had a good number of short hills and turns. We came down a short descent and onto a little bridge where two bikes were down and a mom was hugging her crying daughter telling her that she was ok. I wondered what happened but quickly realized when we turned a corner and saw two of those guys pulled off that they had knocked her down. ERRRRR!!!
The trail dumped out on the River Road and we headed a few minutes south to our first ferry crossing. The Belle of Calhoun would take us to Brussels, Illinois. The only other time I had ridden it, was on a big yellow school bus in the middle of February for a basketball game--that wasn't fun. We filed on after the cars and motorcycles and made our third river crossing of the day across the Mississippi.
Off the ferry and onto the roads of Calhoun County, Illinois. There was a gaggle of cyclists grouped together as we headed west towards the Missouri River. Cars approaching from behind started to string everyone out in a double or single file line along the two lanes road . . . everyone but the three guys from trail. These "gentlemen" were over the yellow line, ignoring the patient drivers behind them. It took them forever to move, only to pull back out there when the car passed. No wonder cyclists get a bad name. With the group strung out, I'd had enough of these guys and wanted to put them behind us for a while. I settled into my drops and picked up my cadence. About 30 "on your lefts" later I pulled past these guys, checked that Steph was on my wheel and kept going. I heard them comment about jumping our wheels as we went by, but picked it up so that wasn't an option for them. We turned a corner and I sat up, I'd proved my point. A few minutes later, they caught us. Heeding wise advice from Steph, we let them go. One of the string of cyclists they brought with them told us they we had severly bruised their male egos with our push and complimented us on strength.
We kept them all in sight as we approached what looked like a nice, mid-sized hill. Now Calhoun County is only about five miles wide between the rivers, but I think we climbed every hill they had to offer in that time. We'd climbed, flatten, and climb again. And just when I thought we were done, another popped up. Somewhere in there, Steph hit her wall for the day. Dehydration set in and she worked hard to ride through it. We finally reached the summit of the county and began our long ride down to the Missouri. Trailnet had put "caution" and "slow" across the road and I could see why...the descent abruptly ended at the water's edge. Thankfully there was a small restaurant there with a vending machine. Steph got us both a bottle of cold water that tasted wonderful.
Our second ferry arrived and across the Missouri we went. We would have about ten miles to finish when we hit the shore. Our final rest stop of the day was there, so we filled our bottles before heading out. We were a couple of minutes down the road when Gary and Bob H. from Big Shark passed us. I asked them if we could try to hold onto their wheels for a while and we fell in behind for the next eight miles. They stopped at two to go to wait on a friend and we continued to roll. My Garmin hit 100 even somewhere on Riverside Drive. I had done it, my first century. Cross this one off the list.
What's more important to me than completing the century, is the way I completed it. I enjoyed it, all of it. Even when it got tough for me on the Great River Road, I was enjoying the idea of what I was doing. A big part of my fun was my riding partner. Six hours and 100 miles is a long time on a bike. I know I would be making a call to Jeffrey, "Get a shovel" if I rode that long with Klucker. But riding with Steph is different. She knows when to talk, when to enjoy the silence. She knows when to push me and encourage me. Our conversations are never stale and dull; I think we could solve wars, crime, and poverty given enough time on a bike. I'm always grateful for her friendship and her company yesterday was a gift.
So it's time to revisit my list . . . what's next? Hhhhmmmm.
Friday, October 8, 2010
I saw this story linked in someone's Facebook status and the headline caught my eye, "1Ohio school, 4 bullied teens dead at own hand." That's pretty emotion evoking. I then read the poster's editorial which stated, "This is the school district from hell. How many more children must die before the administration takes steps to halt the bullying? Read this article: these bullies actually laughed and ridiculed one of thier victim's appearance when she was DEAD and in her coffin!"
Someone else then responded, "I can't even begin to make myself click on that article. It is so disgusting that our society has become so self-absorbed that we can't consider how our words and actions may affect those around us. I hate this bullying epidemic that is happening."
Before I go any farther, I need to specifically state my heartfelt sadness for the families and friends of these teens. I can't imagine the grief and pain they feel. I am in no way belittling their loss or suffering.
Now I have been trying to censor myself as of late after twice being admonished by a peer for my words. Believe it or not, I am a pleaser by nature and it tears at me when I am corrected. In this case, however, the article and subsequent commentary cuts too close to home on so many levels that I posted my own response. And being as those little boxes aren't that big, I had to limit my rant. And, frankly, I have more to say on this subject.
Bullying is nothing new. It has been an epidemic forever. People are mean, people are cruel. It's not excuseable. It's not acceptable. And I look at the situations described in this story from several points of view, as a victim, as an educator, and as a parent.
I was called fat, told my legs look like tree trunks, was pushed down the stairs, stopped on the street while I was riding my bike and threatened, and called countless names while I was growing up. Did it hurt my feelings? Yes. Did it damage my self-confidence? Absolutely. Did I cry sometimes? A lot. Did I tell anyone at school? No. Did I tell my parents? No. It's not that I didn't trust the school. It's not that I "couldn't" tell my dad. It's just that I figured that there was nothing they could do about it. What was the school going to do, tell them to stop? Oh, then the targeting really begins. What would my parents do? Call their parents? Again, when the adults aren't around, the hazing would get even worse. So what did I do about it? I developed a thick skin. I became determined that I would live the kind of life that would prove the insensitive kids wrong. I worked on a quick wit and a great sense of sarcasm to have snappy come backs. I also knew when and I where I was likely to see those people and avoided them. Now, that wasn't always possible as was the case when they stopped me on a public street, but overall I managed pretty well.
More than managing pretty well, those experiences prepared me for life in some respects. Bullying doesn't stop at the schoolhouse doors. There are cliques and cool kids in the grown up world as well. And there really isn't anyone to run to when your boss happens to be the bully. I've seen people excluded from work situations because of who they are and how they dress. I've heard them gossiped about because of comments they made in meetings. And I'm savvy enough to know that I've probably been the topic of conversations by those same people as well. It doesn't make it right, but it does happen.
As an educator, a former teacher and principal, I want to scream over this story. First, I would be distraught if any student of mine died, much less if they took their own life. Trust me, these "school officials" have asked themselves a thousand times over what they could have done to prevent the deaths. I have implemented anti-bullying programs. I have worked with kids on how to not allow themselves to become victims. I have spoken to bullies, disciplined them, brought their parents in for conferences. Do I think it made a difference? I think working with kids to stand up for themselves helped, but the rest was like a garden hose on a forest fire. I don't think schools should stop their efforts or ignore the problem, but when do we stop expecting schools to be everything for everyone? Schools, in their purest form, are education institutions. They have morphed in to restaurants (2 meals/day), social service recource center, daycares, mental health agency, and in some cases, medical facilities and correctional institution. And by the way, make sure all of your kids, even those who access every service you provide, can read and write on grade level on a specific day in April. (I'm not the slightest bit bitter.) It is ridiculous to think that a school, even the most caring and proactive one, can eliminate poor human nature. And it's preposterous to place blame on the school. Would we even begin to do that to the parents, who are ultimately the ones responsible for the raising of a child?
As a parent, my heart aches. I don't want to imagine the pain and suffering of losing a child. I also know that I've started working with my own children on self-advocating and how to avoid falling victim to bullies. Boo and Bella have both come home from pre-school talking about name calling and pushing and hitting. We talk about the situation and how to react when it happens. We talk about avoiding the aggressor. We talk about staying near adults so there is always a watchful eye. And I'm sure it will only become more prevelant the older they get. I try to build their self-confidence as well, setting them up to learn how to deal with difficult situations at home so they can handle what life throw at them. More than that, however, I talk to them about how to not be a bully--how to be a nice kid. We talk about mean behavior and work on empathy.
I want to believe that the media thinks it is doing a service for kids by calling attention to the situation. But sometimes a spotlight is a bad thing. Teens see suicide as glamorous, an easy way to escape the demands of life. Schools often see strings of suicides because it tends to gain momentum because the victim is glorified after their death. It shouldn't be hidden, but tantalizing headlines and memorializing tragic, needless deaths only serves to perpetuate the problem.
I trust that the school in Ohio is working with students on dealing with grief and learning empathy. I hope that parents are stepping up and partnering with the school and not bashing it. But most of all, I pray that the troubled souls of the students who took their own life are at peace and remembered lovingly by all.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
The layout of the course was as follows: long bumpy straight away, sharp turn into gravel, turns through to a short STEEP downhill (let me point out this was a 15 foot section, about a 60%angle) with an immediate left at the bottom. Next was around the barn with three 180s, back down the straight away followed by four 180 off cambers to the straight away leading to the barriers. The barriers were right before another 180 leading through a row of grapes, ending in a 90 degree turn followed by two more 180s. It went long and straight through tall grass, around a corner, over some discarded bricks, back to two long straights through high grass, one being a long, small grade climb before turning onto another loose gravel section and around a corner to the start/finish. I'm tired just typing that all.
We were early enough to take two laps on the course before Klucker's race started. I hatedthe bumps, the cliff, and the off camber 180s. I loved the long sloping sections--that's fun riding. Steph and I watched the Men's 4 take off and most of the race. We went down to the off camber turns to watch the line they were taking. The way I spent this 35 minutes was my first mistake of the day. I should have noodled around, ridden up and down the road, done something to keep my legs warm. Nope, instead I enjoyed social hour. It was interesting to see the men doing the barriers, who remounted right after and who waited until after the 180.
We got our call up to the line. There were ten women there--Carrie, Allison, Cory, Sally, Soli, Steph (her 1st cx race!!!), Beth, Kelly, Flavia, and me. Carrie and Allison were racing W123 and the rest of us were in Women's 4. (Side note . . . I didn't upgrade my cx license.)
The race started fast and I was in fifth off the start. I hesitated through the bumpy section on lap one, but then I concentrated on riding my race and was in third by the third lap. I knew I was riding aggressively, almost carelessly, because I felt my wheel slip in several spots. I passed Sally during the third lap and headed down the bumpy straight, gaining ground on Cory who was in first. I came up on the little cliff and took it hard and fast. I must have changed my line or went at it too hard because the next thing I knew my back wheel was over my head. Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick, can't I keep the bike upright! I unclipped because, yes, I rode my bike the whole way through the flip, and looked for Sally. There she was . . . pickles! I got on and took off. At that point I would have sworn to you my hand was broken. Sally followed me and passed me behind the barn because my bike handling wasn't quite golden by that point.
Cruising through the grapes . . . needing a hand-up of those in liquid form. *Photo cred: Mike D.
I worked to stay on Sally's wheel through that lap, even coming up even with her towards the barriers only to have her pull away. We were on two to go, after the grapes when I passed her again. This time I didn't look to see where she was at, I just pushed it. I realized when I went through the start I put a good deal of space between us and that as long as I stayed upright, I would hold second place. I also realized that Cory was no where in sight and had first locked down. I kept going hard and ended up with second.
Strong points for me this race: riding aggressively and consistently. Much better over the barriers--my timing for them was much better. Steph racing her first cx race. Cory getting her first real win.
Struggles: my warm up was too early. My legs weren't ready for the hot start and I had to work to get my place. Remounts weren't great but some of that was due to the fact that there was a 180 ten feet after the second barrier.
The next cx race on the schedule is Bubba #1 in 12 days. I'm hoping our women's fields continue to get bigger as they have been so far this season. I also hope my racing continues to makes the incremental improvements that I've seen over these last three.