Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Boo-Ba Halloween Race Report

The re-added up & over. Photo cred: E'ville Mike D.

Today was a mentally tough race for me. I'm assuming it was because I was tired still. My legs felt the run and the power I had to use on the flats. I also changed my pre-race nutrition. I will be sticking with GU and not doing blocks pre race anymore.

The course was similar to last night, minus the sand, add in more cornering and leaves and a little uphill on straw. I was great off the start and was riding strong for the first two laps. I got to the barriers and didn't turn my left foot enough to get out of the pedal easily. I took a knee but recovered quickly. Still, I lost ground.

The next two laps I swapped place with Cindi and Lo. I made up ground on them in barriers. (no perfect remounts, but still showing forward motion) but lost ground in the corners with leaves. Lap four I got a little too aggressive in the leaves and went down. I got up pretty quickly, but the ladies gapped me. I kept pushing and riding hard and enjoying myself. I had a guy comment that I obviously wasn't going strong enough because I was smiling too big...he must not know how much I like cx. I ended up in last for the A race. We had 29 women start the race, 8 in the A race, two DNFs in the A race...I was 6th overall.

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?

My fan club recovered and re-emerged as a butterfly princess and Batman. Off they go for some sugary loot.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sprints of Darkness Night Race Report

First lap on the beach. *Photo cred: Mike D.

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.

20/365: The bee getting her stripes from the trainer park debutante.

Friday, October 29, 2010

18/365: Pumpkin Princess

We began our Halloween festivities on Friday. Boo didn't have kindergarten, so he hung out with me while I worked from home. This arrangement was sweet because he then got to go to the Halloween party at CP. Two parties in two days . . . I'd say the boy did all right.

After the party it was pumpkin carving time. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say I've been a less-than-stellar parent at past Halloweens. I spent Boo's first Halloween in DC for work. I spent Bella's first Halloween in Atlanta. Two years ago, I forgot to get pumpkins until Halloween Day--they were pretty miserable looking. So I've made a concerted effort to be more festive for the kids' sake. I bought pumpkins on Tuesday. I even managed to acquire two additional ones on Thursday.

We got home from CP and changed out of costumes. I spread out a drop cloth and brought out the pumpkin carving kit. (Yes, I even bought one of those as well.) Bella couldn't wait to get inside the mess. She spent a good 20 minutes with her hand inside the pumpkin, pulling out seeds and membranes. Boo, as was the case last year, wanted nothing to do with the goo. I kept sending him on other errands so he didn't get into mischief. Even after the seeds and such were in a bowl, Bella was still intrigued with them. I put her to work seperating out the seeds so we could roast them.

Here are the finished results. Each of us had a pumpkin to design. Boo's is on the far left with the "spiky teeth." Bella's is next. It's supposed to be a cat on a fence. I have determined those stencils that come with the pumpkin carving kits are off limits next year. Klucker's is sitting on the little table, eating a tiny pumpkin with seeds and "guts" hanging out. Mine is the one below. It's very simple, no intricate details, because I just wanted to put down the little orange knife.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

17/365: Our Original Princess

This is the original princess in our family, Princess Poops-alot, AKA Daisy dog. This pampered pooched just celebrated her tenth birthday this past June. She's graying and plump now, but she is still fiesty and makes sure that Diesel knows she is the alpha dog.

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

16/365: Beware of Giving Bikes & Lights to the Ladies

Since high school, I have not been big on Halloween. I went to a few parties in college, but the dressing up stopped around my sophomore year. As an adult, the most I've done is handed out candy or dressed up my wee-ones--until last year. Leave it to the biking community to pull me out of my Halloween duldrums.

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.

Our trailer trash mommy-to-be on her bike. I'm impressed Steph could ride with her belly. It's even more amusing when you learn that her eyes kept wanting to stick together because I used a little too much glue when putting on her lashes.

Our USAC official. We learned multiple times through the night that we could not cut the course to get to the pit and that hand ups were not allowed during this Halloween ride.

I think Ron was trying to get us DQ'd during our Hub visit. Evidence of the hand ups he handed out--Lucky Buddy-Kate took her own hand up!

Obviously I didn't take this last one, but wanted to include evidence of my costume. As Steph and I talked about what to wear for the cycloX race, I commented that I wished my mtb shoes were red like my race shoes, I would go as Dorothy. The Rev ride gave me the perfect opportunity. And with as windy as it was, I felt like we might end up in Kansas.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

15/365: Early Warning System

I did a trainer workout with friends tonight, meaning I hauled the bike and trainer somewhere else. That also means the bike was on the roof of my car. This summer I had a slight mishap on afternoon when I rushing home to get a water bottle before meeting this same group for a ride. I was on the phone dealing with a work issue and pulled right into the garage. And then I heard the crunch and remember the bike was on the roof. Luckily the damage was minimal (sheared off the seat and beat the rack). The day that it had happened, Boo had wanted to move the recycling container to my spot in the garage so I wouldn't pull in with the bike attached. We were running late so I told him he could do it after school because I wouldn't be home until after that. If only . . .

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!

14/365: The Culprit

I don't need any help messing up things. I keep so many balls in the air, it doesn't take much for me to bobble or drop one. Yesterday a big one bounced. I downloaded the weekend's photos from my camera and was getting ready to post them in the blog entries I had written. The download went fine. I deleted them from my camera. I organized them into photos on my flashdrive. (I keep them on my flashdrive because I don't want to keep personal items on my work computer.) I signed into blogger, hit the photo icon and there was NOTHING on the flashdrive. I unplugged it and put it back in the port. I tried a different port. I restarted my computer. I tried my laptop. Nope, nothing. I waited and tried again after lunch. I emailed IT and they tried their voodoo on it. I even tried freezing it (Klucker's idea, don't ask) and trying it on my home machine. Play the funeral dirge, it has passed.

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 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

Bubba #3 Race Video

A little video from the Bubba 3 Race. Video credits to Justin Bowen. The finishing sprint is where Liz edges me out. Guess I need to get my cx sprint mojo working like my crit sprints.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bubba #3: Hwy Farty Far Bubba

I had the most incredible experience today. I was coached pre-race by Steve Tilford. Chuck arranged for him to come through on his way home from Berryman. I learned a lot from Steve and now need to work on drilling and implementing.

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

12/365: 'Twas the Night Before a Race and All Through the Garage

This is the view of the garage when "everyone is sleeping." It still amazes me how many bikes we have. I remember buying my first bike as an adult. Klucker and I bought each other hybrids for our birthdays one year. I think I rode that bike a total of two times. It ended up getting stolen from our atrium when we lived in the city. It was pretty well permanently racked when I bought my first road bike, a steel Fuji with a 105 grupo. I am now on my fourth road bike, Lulu. She went out on her maiden voyage today with Zues (Steph) and the Cannondale (Phil). As irony would have it, it was the Cannondale's last voyage. We did the Maplewood Saturday route which is a great tour of south St. Louis and hits JB Park before turning back to Maplewood. Although the wind was bothersome at times, it was a great day to be out and a perfect first ride.

(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

11/365--When the Clock Finally Unwinds

I snuck upstairs to catch a rarely seen sight, my children sleeping. Bella was cuddled up in her comforter, fast asleep. When I went into Boo's room, I was surprised to see him in this position. This illustrates why I cannot let him sleep with me. More than that, on the few occasions I've tried, he has to touch me. So he flops all over the bed and makes sure he keeps a death grip on me while he does it.

(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)

10/365: A Great Way to End the Day

I chose two photos for today . . . and that's amazing because I only took four total.
This was my original choice of photos. It's my most common view when I ride with the soon-to-be Ironpeeps. Tom is an incredibly strong athlete, both physically and mentally. When he has a workout to complete, he does it. There are no knitting circles when Tom's around. He's a let's get it done person. He usually sets a pretty strong pace for the group. If my workout allows it, I jump on his wheel and go. I occasionally offer to pull, but he's never taken me up on it. Better than that, Tom has a steady wheel as well. I'm comfortable in following him because there is no squirreliness involved.

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

Chronic FFGS

Sometimes I forget I have FFGS. I live my life normally, eat pretty sensibly, do my workouts and wear my size 4 clothes. I put on my tall heels and pencil skirts and head to work without giving much thought. I am appreciative of the comments from the men at my indigenous QT and I rarely stop to look in a mirror.

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 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

9/365: Darkness Setting In

0 I was able to get an 80 minute ride in after work last night, but I don't know how much longer my luck will hold. I was home by 6:30, but this was my view as I cruised down the street.

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

8/365: Dance Like Nobody's Watching

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."

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

7/365: I Got Nothin'

This is all I have today. My creativity, vision, creative imagery is zilch. I took the camera out mid afternoon and snapped this shot. It's my desk view. You notice there is stuff everywhere--multiple types of post-it notes, papers, my ever present highlight and good pen.
I'm not really crazy about my desk. There isn't enough room to spread out and work. What you see in the photo is what you get. I had gotten incredibly accustomed over the last nine years to having a space for my computer and a seperate work space. Since my office move three months ago, I've been having to learn to deal with this. I have a table in my office, but then I have to run back and forth between what I'm working on or reading and something I need to do on the machine.
The more important piece of this photo is what it represents--how I feel. Sometime over the last six days, my zest has been zapped. I'm sick, I'm tired, I'm cranky. I want to sleep. I want to be left alone. I have nothing extra to give to anyone or anything. I took the camera on my ride this evening, but didn't even think about getting it out. Everything is trudgery. And I hate it. I feel persona non grata in my own body and mind. UGH!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bubba #2: Dawn of the Bubba

6/365: You've heard of a "bed in a bag"? This is a cx race in a van. Stakes, caution tape, cones, barriers, pop up tents, even a BBQ grill--all loaded into the Big Shark van. Van tetris according to Mike Weiss.

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!

Bubba #1: Things That Go Bubba in the Night

5/365: Ready to roll to Bubba #1. The Audi is the cx mobile this year. I wonder how much mud will end up on the roof.

The Bubba Series kicked off at Buder Park down in Fenton this year. The course was flat and fast with lots of straight aways and areas of little to no light. Not being a girl who rides a lot in the night, I was a little apprehensive in parts. Six women went to the line in the A race with a good number of B racers behind us. I wondered as I looked at the quality of the racers on the line with me if I should have been in the back row. The whistle blew and we went off. Carrie and Sunny quickly took the lead and I was immediately on the back. We hit the long straights and I was staying easily with Cory. I passed her after the barriers, only to fall behind her at the logs. We wound through the back side and headed to the start/finish. I shifted into the big ring for the pavement and I couldn't pedal. I back pedal and dropped down and got movement. I again shifted and was in the ring. Somewhere through the flat straight aways, I overtook Cory again. I went through the darkness, hit the backside and was shifting to the big ring for the pavement when my chain dropped again. This time I couldn't pedal it back on.

I jumped off my bike and tugged at my chain. It was stuck between the ring and the crank arm. I finally ran to the pit and the guys there helped me. As I lost valuable time, I resigned myself to just finishing. No place for me tonight. The guys in the pit got the chain on and my pedals moving and I jumped back in to the race from where I left it. Two pedal strokes and I had no resistance. My chain broke. WTF! I was done. I jumped the tape and walked to the officials. I told Larry I was DNF. I shouldered my bike and headed towards the car. Rich Pierce said hi and asked what was wrong. When I told him, he said he could fix it so that I could race tomorrow. My response was, "Heck, if you fix it, I'll finish tonight's race." Rich and his handy multi-tool, and Susan, his wife, with her flashlight got me up and running. I jumped back on the course, told Larry I was back in the race and finished the last two laps. Sunny lapped me in my first lap back in and Carrie got me on the last one.

My disappointment came after the race when I found out that I had been DQ'd for my entrance/exit from the pit. This was my first time having to use the pit in a cx race and I got there with the mindset of a crit racer--get to the pit anyway you can as long as you don't ride backwards. I'll know better next time.

Sometimes you're just happy to race. Shots from Dennis Fickinger after my busted chain and repair. Thanks to Rich & Susan Pierce!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Really Wonder Where She Gets It: 4/365

Meet Princess Bella. She truly tries to run our house and our lives. She is a girlie girl. If it's shiny, sparkly, or pink, it belongs to her. Right now she's in a stage that she doesn't want to wear pants because "they touch her feet." Of course, that same philosophy does not apply to knee socks. I had to stop her from going to school dressed in a white wife-beater, denim mini skirt, and pink and black knee socks yesterday. I didn't think I'd have to fight those battles for another nine years or so.
Bella is modeling the new pajamas she got from Aunt Teri yesterday. Our family has lots of stair step kids so we pass hand-me-downs around a lot. Her jewelry is compliments of Aunt Steph (she recently was elevated from Miss Steph). We had to wrap the evening up by painting toe nails with purple glitter polish. Bella cracks me up with this stuff because I can't ever remember being a girlie-girl. Even now that I wear dress to work almost every day, there is nothing frilly about them. She is definitely the child that let me know we are born with our personality in tact. There was no formation of hers. She came out on her own time frame, with her mind made up. While this is going to cause me lots of stress and headaches in years to come, I wouldn't have it any other way. Because while she will test her limits and push me to my wits' end, I also know she won't be pushed around and swayed by others. She will be the leader, the one taking charge.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

3/365: The Diesel-nator 10-5,000 the Ultimate Chewing Machine

He looks innocent, doesn't he? How could you ever get mad at such a loving, cute face? I know it's hard to believe, but this sweet, big-eyed creature has killed: seven pairs of flip flops, 24 S'mores cups, three reusable shopping bags, countless kids' toys, three lunch boxes, five tupperware containers, and one backpack. And those are just the things I remember off the top of my head. To be completely honest, he has gotten better. Flip flops and food on the table are the only things he actively hunts right now, along with squirrels and bunnies, but I still don't trust him. What's really funny is that Diesel is actually a good dog. He listens to commands, stays at the foot of the bed, and goes in his kennel in the morning without prompting. He's loving and sweet and so incredibly cute.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2/365: Comfort Comes in All Shapes & Sizes

I was not a coffee drinker until around 1998. Up until that point, my caffiene consumption came from a steady stream of diet coke and hot or iced tea. I loved the smell of coffee, and had tried to drink it a few times, but it was always too bitter for me. My coffee addiction was a treat from Klucker.

I had spent the night at his apartment and when we got up the next morning, he started a pot of coffee. No worries, I would get a diet coke from White Castle on my way home. As he piddled in the kitchen, he asked me how I took my coffee. Ummmm, what do I say . . . he'd already poured a cup. I hestitated. I stammered. In typical Klucker fashion, he didn't even pay attention, poured in the half and half and handed me the cup. I'd gotten myself into a fine mess. Because I didn't speak up soon enough, now I would have to drink this drudge. I struggled through the cup and quickly responded when he asked if I need more. This issue perpetuated itself because each time I stayed there, he made coffee and began to not even ask if I wanted any. I just got a cup. Eventually, I grew to like coffee, very strong coffee and I told Klucker my secret.

So began my addiction to coffee. My morning soda on the way to work tranformed into a morning coffee. I need a travel mug. I bought one from Bread Co. It leaked. I had coffee stains on my suits at least three days a week. I tried another plastic one. My coffee got cold. I learned that stainless steel was the way to go. The next dilemma was the right top. It needed to be able to close, but I didn't like the push button mechanisms. Ahhh, the flip top lid--perfect. Handles were nice, but they busted off if you drop the mug a lot as I sometimes do. I probably went through about six different mugs over ten years before I found what I thought was the mug. I light red Starbucks' mug. The color was a little faded, but it met every other standard. I bought it without looking at the price and treated it like it was made of gold, for about two months.

See, I made a new friend, G. G worked at another location in my district. We'd talked before, but it was usually business-related, blah, blah, blah. Somehow we ended up the last two awake at a work retreat. We talked about all sorts of things, including coffee and Valentine's Day. I had asked what he was getting his wife. He asked what I thought Klucker would do for me. I easily answered that by saying, "nothing." Klucker and I don't do gifts for Valentine's Day. That was that.

The next week was the big VD. G called me. That was rare. He asked me to come over to his building, he had something for me. Now I was worried. What impression had I given him? I got there and he led me into his office and closed the door. This was gonna be a fine mess. I tentatively took the box and opened it as he explained that he felt that a lady should always get a gift for Valentine's Day and it had bothered him that I wouldn't have one. I opened the lid. There it was, the perfect mug. It was a sister to my other one, only this was a beautiful, deep red--the color of a perfectly ripened cherry. I squealed in delight.

That was three years ago this year. I still treat my perfect mug like it's gold. It shows some signs of wear from the heavy use I put on it. But it comforts me as much as my morning coffee does. It makes me smile when I think of it's story. It reminds me of the joy that comes from unexpected gifts and wonderful surprises.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The World According to Me: 1/365

When Klucker and I started dating, and I knew it was getting serious, I had an important realization. I was going to have to live in “the world according to Klucker.” Now those of you who know my yang, totally understand that statement. His point of view, his perspective is very unique. He often tackles life by his own set of rules and mores, not necessarily those accepted by mainstream society. He definitely keeps life interesting, and causes me to stay current on politics and legal issues.

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

Stick a Fork in It: Century Done!

I've been riding my bike as an adult for a little over ten years. I started slow and built my endurance, had some years with sparce miles, and recently taken to racing like a pig takes to mud. I've learned how to climb hills that would have caused me to walk. I've battled the wind on days I thought it would blow me over. I've felt me feet slosh in the water in the bottom of my shoes. I've lost five pounds on a ride because of sweat and I've had ice on my eye lashes. But I had never done a century.

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

Placing Blame

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

Cowbells & Grapes: Ronde Von Jakob

Rockin' the knee socks for the first time this season! *Photo cred: Mike D.

Cross season definitely has arrived. Sunny, 50 degree temps and wind set the perfect mood for a cross race. Steph, Klucker and I loaded up in big black and headed to Southern Illinois. The venue was the von Jakob winery in Alto Pass. After a slight detour to tour the actual vineyards, we got to our destination. Being as it was Southern Illinois in near Shawnee, I was expecting hills. The good news was there weren't any monsters. The bad news was that the course was far more technical than I expected.

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.