Thursday, March 27, 2008

TGIS - Thank Goodness its SPRING !

I could tell something was different about Tuesday afternoon. Despite the fact that I'm in the middle of an audit at work (what, you thought PlainJane was actually descriptive of my personality? PlainJane accountant, my dears), I knew I had to try to skip out a little early. This was the day - rush home, pray that traffic on 895 is light and make a mental list of the most efficient way to get out the door on my bike. Everything worked perfectly - I was on the road by 530, rolling down my normal loop to Patapsco State Park which conveniently drops me out on Ilchester.

The sun was still pretty high in the sky and my wind jacket quickly became unnecessary. No ice. No danger of being caught out in the dark. It was wonderful. There were walkers, bikers, runners and roller bladers running all over the trails in the park. And we were all so happy to be out in the spring weather, it was like we shared a secret that no one else had the opportunity to experience.

I was scheduled for sprint intervals so once I turned onto Ilchester, I got right to the business at hand. Inspired, I hit all-time best numbers for several categories. I did my intervals as if this were the last time I'd see sunlight on the roads. Amazing what a difference I felt after endless workouts on the rollers. I was reminded why I love to be on my bike. I was reminded that despite some tough experiences with traffic and pedestrians during the winter, there are tons of kind and conscientious people out there. Most importantly, I was reminded that winter DOES end ... and rather conveniently, it seems to be ending right as we're getting ready to get our game on for the race season. Its very cool when things just seem to work out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Down To The Wire

While a few brave souls of the CycleLife squad ventured out a few weeks ago to their first races of the season, I'm only now getting down to the wire on the start of my 2008 road racing season. I figure between road season and cross season (and bon-bon eatin' season) that I have enough cycling in my year, so I try not to rush into the road season. All this means that this Sunday will be my first foray of the year into the racing world.

Most people tend to overthink things, or so I like to think. I'm sure there's a bunch of butterflies flitting around the stomach population of the MABRA region just the mere thought of Jeff Cup. Me? Naw, I got nothin'. Want to know my secret? It's simple, really. Stop thinking. If you don't think about it, you can't freak out and get all nervous about it. I learned this when I was racing 5k's early on in my career. It was all about focusing on the routine down until the very moment that I had to think about the race, that being right about the time you line up and wait for the whistle to blow. I'm no superwoman. If I think about an upcoming race, about strategy, about the possibilities (good and bad), etc. my heart rate skyrockets and I feel like I'm gonna pass out. (That's right, you heard it here... I'm not a machine, I'm human! Well, just barely.)

So, I know that Jeff Cup is this Sunday. I realize that that's six days away. I know that I'll be lining up on the starting line. I know there will be attacks and counter-attacks... and whoops, there goes my heart rate. My mind is a blank. Ohmmmmm. Zen cyclist. Ohmmmmm. Don't think, can't freak.

So if you happen to see me in passing, or shoot me an e-mail or whatever... please don't mention the fact that JC is this W/E. I don't wanna know. I am blissfully unawares of the terror that will come, the pain that will unfold, the hurt that will be put on. So just don't remind me. I'll remember, just in time for the start. You'll see me laughing, warming up with my teammates, greeting folks I haven't seen in a few months... and then when they say "30 seconds", my smile will vanish. I will look focused, intense. Just like the lean, mean cycling machine I am. (Pshaw, right!)

Oh, and hopefully we'll have our kits by then.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Krietler Makes Pink Rollers to Support the USWCDP

Check out the link to cyclingnews. Krietler is making pink rollers, which will go to benefit the USWCDP, US Women's Cycling Development Program.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And so it begins....

What a BEAUTIFUL day...not a bad way to start the 2008 racing season. Unfortunately the squad was split this weekend with Robin, Melanie (yay...welcome to the team!) and me representin' in the 3/4 race in Strasburg PA while Michelle, Jenny, and Leslie wore the Snow, CycleLife colors in NYC.

In, the 3/4 field keeps getting bigger and stronger every year. Very exciting for women's racing in general. The hurt was on from lap one of the four lap, 22 mile race with Sonya Evers, Christine Wehlburg, and 2 other riders I didn't recognize consistently driving the pace up the rolling hills and attempting to stick breaks. We lost a decent number riders off what was a 36+ member field. Melanie patrolled the front for a good portion of the race...strong as hell and fighting a stiff headwind. Robin stayed tucked in at the front half of the field like the smart little rider she is. I hung on for dear life, coughing up lung bunnies on the poor riders behind me (hehe, sorry guys). The main field roped in all of the attacks until the end of the final lap when Sonya and the 2 unknown riders managed to get off the front without most of the field realizing they were gone. The final big ring climb with about 1 km to go became the deciding factor for the rest of us as the field blew apart at this point. Melanie and Robin managed good finishes in the field sprint at 9th and 10th place, respectively. I finished at the rear of the main field at 20th.

Congrats to Jenny and Leslie for finishing 2nd and 3rd at Grant's Tomb!!!!!

Ahhh...gotta love that first race of the season. Legs on fire, lungs feeling like they're getting ripped from your chest, relearning how to dodge the squirrels (and not the furry gray kind). Haha...thank God there's only one "first" race of the season. But in all seriousness, its always great to transition from the long, slow, cold rides of winter into the intensity of racing. Can't wait for Jeff Cup when the squad is together in our shiny new CycleLife kits!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Awareness Test -- Did you pass?

Yes, that's right. DOUBLE POST!

What's Fair?

Sara came up to casa de von-T yesterday and I took her on the "Tour de Misery" ride, retracing my steps from Saturday's really fun wet, cold & windy ride. She didn't seem to impressed or even interested, but I kept pointing out famous points of interests along the way. Where exactly I stopped to put on my wind vest. Where exactly I got blown off my bike. Where exactly I realized that my flimsy wind vest would not help protect me from the elements.... She played along, but I don't think she really thought it was quite as funny as I did. It was a good ride, nevertheless.

Excepting, of course, the rude drivers we encountered on the ride. I was so embarrassed regarding the lack of civility and courtesy the drivers in my area displayed that I felt it necessary to apologize to Sara for their behavior, more than once. We pondered what it is with people today that make them so quick to lean on the horn and drive recklessly. My initial response was that they must be SO UNHAPPY with their lives that they feel that lashing out at the first person that gets in their way is the only way to get back at life. I really find it amazing how patient drivers were in Spain when encountering a group of 8 cyclists, riding two abreast up a mountain, going 10 mph. Here in Baltimore, Sara and I had impatient drivers blasting their horns at us when we were riding at 20 mph, single file, hugging the white line. What's up with that? Why are Americans so angry, so impatient, so rude?

I pondered this again this morning driving to work when the vehicle next to me blasted his horn the nanosecond the light turned green. We were about 10 cars back from the light and traffic was moving. Did he expect everyone in front of him to floor it through the light so we didn't have to hit our brakes as we came up on traffic? I'm guessing that part of this has been caused by our "you can do anything" culture. We're brought up to believe that we can do anything, we can be anyone, we deserve it all. What society neglected to tell us is that you have to work for it to deserve it and you can't have it at someone else's expense. Automobiles don't own the road any more than bicycles do. We all have a right to use the road. We have to share. Did the drivers Sara and I encountered yesterday not take that lesson away with them when they graduated from kindergarten? Sharing the road does NOT mean sharing it when it's convenient for you. I can't tell you how many times I've been forced to the side of the road by vehicles, but when traffic is stopped and there's room for me to ride on the side (where they want me to ride), somehow it's unfair of me to ride there because they have to wait in the back-up.

I think society today needs to recognize that Life is not fair. My mother taught me that around about the time I was in kindergarten. All parents should teach their children this. Let's face it, Life is not fair. The strongest rider doesn't always win the race. The smartest person doesn't always get the best grade. The hardest worker doesn't always get the promotion. Life ain't fair. So slow down, share the road, be courteous to those around you. Your life is not worth more than the cyclists you're sharing the road with. It might just make you a happier person to realize that.

Monday, March 10, 2008

We Love Lucy and trainer sessions !

While VonT was stalking the radar hoping to get some sunshine and dry roads, her teammates were diligently keeping each other company on our trainers - resigned to a long day looking at each other and the four walls in the basement of the "frat house". You see, VonT is much more optimistic and brave when it comes to avoiding trainer-sessions. The rest of us were depressed and dejected with the weather - but decided to make the best of it.

I completely understand VonT's aversion to rollers and trainers ... for most of us, they are a vital part of our winter-weekday training. I get up before the sun rises (on a good day), fulfill my training obligations for the day and then transform into Plain Jane-accountant so I can pay the bills for my cycling obsession. So, the prospect of spending 2+ hours on a trainer ON THE WEEKEND is just too much to take. I've often stalked NOAA for the latest weather info. I've changed ride plans by hours just to have the chance for sunshine and/or dry roads. I've played the phone game with friends and teammates to try to organize around the rain-Gods. I've bundled up beyond recognition because a few degrees couldn't keep me inside. But not Saturday - we just resigned to trainers and got to the business at hand.

Before we got all sweaty and trainer-like, we decided to take the opportunity to feature some of our sponsor-gear. We Heart Our Sponsors !! A new addition to Bethesda Row later this year, Lucy loved our team and our mission and decided to partner with us to further the cause. We're not just saying We Love Lucy because they're a sponsor - several of us have been frequenting Lucy's website for years. And at the risk of sounding a little conceited, I gotta say that we look good in our Lucy-gear.
And yes, please be jealous of my Spain-bike tan. Only cyclists can appreciate the panda-bear tan. More pics and details of the Spain trip to come !

1-in-3 Chance of Misery

Should a cloud like this roll up alongside you while you're out enjoying a spring-like day... ride like hell. DO NOT ride directly into it, even if it is situated directly between you and your way home. Even if it snuck up behind your sorry ass while you were happily be-bopping to tunes on your Shuffle, you unknowingly elicited whatever hell is about to rain down upon you... So get the heck outta it's way!

Saturday's ride went something like this. "Ooh! It's sunny out! It finally stopped raining. Let's check the radar." Radar looks fantastic, not a cloud on track for your area, so you ignore the warnings of 30% chance of isolated Thunderstorms and kit up for your ride. You step outside and WOW, it's warm, so you change out of your long sleeve and into a short sleeve jersey and hit the road. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Be bop to your tunes. Enjoy the beautiful weather. Act all smug because your teammates sucked it up on a trainer ride this morning. Casually glance over your left shoulder about 45 minutes in and see a very fast approaching storm cloud. Think: Wow, I should get home before that hits. Turn the corner into a 30 mph headwind and think: Oh crap, I guess I'm going through it. Get blown off your bike attempting to put your wind vest on. Be glad you thought to bring your wind vest. Get pelted by rain and realize that your wind vest isn't helping much. Get thoroughly soaked to the bone. You are completely unprepared for this and have no blinky lights, so don't get too upset when SUVs graze past you with mere millimeters to spare. Yeah, maybe you can't see out of your glasses, but they're driving these big hulks with windshield wipers and everything! Plus they have their mocha skim lattes to worry about and kids in the back to yell at. And their husband is on the phone. I mean, come on... really, you can't expect them to pay attention to a human life on the side of the road when they have so many other things to worry about.

So this is where I'm at. 45 minutes from home, dressed for the high 60's, soaked to the bone, exhausted from just trying to keep my bike upright in 30 mph winds (have you ever had to ride leaning into the wind to keep from falling over?), and the temps have dropped 30 degrees. I kept telling myself if I could just get to Cub Hill (about 20 minutes from home on a good day) I would live to see the tub. I get there, teeth chattering, legs numb, fingers numb, toes numb... okay, everything was numb. I peel off my wet gloves, because it's stopped raining now and I think cold, wet gloves on your hands are probably worse than dry, no gloves. Oh, how wrong I was. I edge may way up Cub Hill, wondering why I can't get any power to my pedals, trying to talk myself through this, and some guy on a bike in his 53x21 whizzes past me, stomping on the pedals like he's out for a Sunday Mash. Crap, I am in a very bad place. I want to stop. I want to puke. I want to curl up into a ball and die of hypothermia. I really, really wanted to stop and call someone to come pick me up about half an hour ago, but I knew I'd probably have been worse off if I stopped riding. Blood flow is a good thing.

I creep my way up the climb and think it's all downhill from there. Except there are high winds. And it's 30 degrees colder than when I started. And I'm soaked. Aw, crap on a cracker. I pedal, pedal, pedal. Keep telling myself to pedal. I make it to civilization and hop into the first Royal Farms I see. I sit there shivering trying to warm my hands up, trying not to scream and cry when the blood flow gets back into them, and smiling awkwardly when they ask if I'm okay... assuring them that I'm not far from home and I'm just cold. I warm up and get back on the bike, a very unwelcome thing in my current state, and pedal, pedal, pedal all the way home. I'm so frozen when I get there that I can't stuff my hands into my tiny jersey pockets to pick out my house keys. I have to strip my jersey off on my front doorstep and empty out the pockets by shaking it over my stoop. My key tumbles out and I can't even pick the damn thing up, my fingers are so frozen. I finally manage to get in the door, drag everything inside and attempt to peel off wet layers with frozen hands while running lukewarm water over frozen extremities. My toes are actually turning black, and I vow to stay in the tub until they return to their normal pinkiness. That takes a good hour or so, and I'm ready for a nap when I finally decide to drain the tub.

The moral of the story: Don't mock your teammates for riding their trainers in crappy weather, all it's going to bring is a load of crap down on your head in the form of an I-told-you-so raincloud.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Random Picture with Haiku

Chewy flavor cubes
Like a kid on Christmas Day
Share with your teammates!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Wendy, Sara and I visited Malaga, Spain last week for some spring training on the bike. We had a fantastic time with the Idles... Great food, great company, great riding, awesome hills. I can't wait to go back! I'm sure Sara and Wendy will have much more to say, but for now let me leave you with my stats:

  • 249.08 miles ridden
  • 17:28:54.24 hours in the saddle
  • 10,371 calories burned
  • 21,711 feet climbed

The other girls will have slightly higher numbers as I was sick the last few days and wasn't feeling up to all that climbing. We had some kind of flu/sickness going around camp... I think Sara was the only one that didn't get sick!!

Our home base, the Idle camp:

Some local scenery:

The Indian Head (or Gypsy Head):

There's snow in Spain, too:

View from Sierra Nevada: