Monday, April 23, 2012

WT: Winding Trails or Wicked Terrible? an exercise in pedaling through gritty pudding

We needed the rain.  I've been wishing for it for the past two weeks, but on race day?  I wouldn't have minded a little less of it until my race was over, and the amount we had for the first lap was actually beneficial to the course.

Winding Trails has come a long way as a race venue in the past 5 years.  It isn't my favorite course because there is nothing technical about it, but it's fast and fun.  The sections of single track that they've incorporated over the years are tight and twisty, which means you have to plan your passing for the fire road sections or else hang on through the single track and hope the person in front of you isn't going to do something dangerous (like hit one of the very nearby trees - easily done in fast and/or slippery conditions).

The first lap was insanely fast and the traction was prime.  I had a good start, for once, and stayed with the rest of the girls for a bit.  In fact, after the first lap, I could still see two of girls ahead of me.  The other two were already taking a good lead.  I barely used my brakes except to avoid cornering into a couple of trees, but the fire road sections were awesome because there was no need to slow down.  The climbs felt great.  None of them were anything worth really calling a hill, but I can remember being really out of shape a few years ago and suffering out there.  This time I felt strong and fired up.

By lap two, though, the course was starting to grow soupy.  I was immediately reminded of how crappy a Renegade tire is, and that's what I still had on the back of my bike.  (All of the tires that I want are currently out of stock, so I'm not-so-patiently waiting for one right now).  Anyhow, the loss of traction turned me into a granny out there.  By lap 3 and 4, I was getting accustomed to the slipping and sliding, so I rode a lot more recklessly, but I think my poor performance on lap 2 was probably a really bad thing. During lap 3, I had been reeling in the 4th place girl, it had me motivated, but when I finally caught her, she was getting off her bike to drop out.  She said she had no brakes left, and I was really bummed.  It's tough to motivate yourself to try to catch back up to people you can't even see.  The only thing that was motivating me after that was the thought of keeping the Cat 1 girls off my back.  I'd already been passed by one, and I didn't want Susan Lynch to beat my time again (she is kick-ass awesome, but I need to be faster than her for self-esteem reasons).  My other motivating factor was getting myself warm.  I couldn't feel my feet, and my thumbs were so numb that I was having trouble shifting; my bike wasn't shifting well as it was because of all the grime caked into the chain.

I'm chalking this race up to another learning experience.  I wanted to quit, for sure.  It was soooo cold out there, and absolutely miserable, but finishing was a must.  Also, I think the fact that I've called that race course a wuss course so many times is the reason that it rained so much.  It's all my fault, I tell you, and I'm sorry.  I will try not to call a race course easy ever again if that means it will refrain from becoming covered in gritty pudding.

I should also add that because I was so cold and wet, I only drank a half a bottle of liquid the entire 2 hours.  Fail.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

what do you do in your moments?

Ever hear the saying, "Live in the moment"?

I feel as though that's been a motto that keeps finding its way back into my mind lately.  It's funny, but I want to write blog posts on a regular basis - like once, maybe twice per week, and then I end up trying too hard to think of something to write about and of course, end up writing nothing.  I'm starting to realize that it's the topics that either creep up on me gradually, or the ones that I write because I'm fired up about some injustice in the world, that really seem to work.

So this time, it's one of those posts where I've been waiting around while the thoughts crawl through my mind.  I've let them worm around one another and go round and round again, and even now, I'm not sure if I'll get the thoughts out the right way in writing, but I'm going to try anyways because I was presented with a little bit of free time today.

It's living in the moment that many advocate for, but very few seem to be able to really do.   We get wrapped up in harping over the past or over-planning for the future, and then we realize that the future has come and gone right into the past without us ever really relishing the present.  The present can be used any way we want to use it.  We can be angry in the moment - mellow, thoughtful, rude, cynical, jealous, etc.  We can spend our entire present worrying about things that we can't do anything about in the future, or we can stew about regrets or other things that we can't change about the past.  The only time that we can ever really do anything real is in the present.

It could be argued that we can't ignore the past and that we would be setting ourselves up for failure if we were to avoid planning for the future.  This I agree with, but like anything, there has to be some sort of balance.  To live well in the present, we should be using things we've learned in the past to presently do and enjoy things that will move us in a good direction for our future.  If we do things in the present that are positive, we shouldn't have regrets in the future.  The past, present, and future all go together, but the only one that is truly a gift is the present. (yes, that pun was fully intentional)

So, here are some things that I've been doing lately that have really helped me to feel the gift of the present:

  • Take a walk.  Really feel the way you body moves you along.  Be grateful that you have strong muscles that move you along and lungs that can breathe in air.  If you can't walk, do what you can to enjoy whatever motility you have.  
  • Feel the sunlight on your skin.  Obviously it's not a good idea to lay in the sun for long hours at a time, but our bodies need a little bit of sunlight on a daily basis.  Be grateful for photosynthesis because without it, you'd be dead.
  • Enjoy the smell of something delicious before you eat it.  Take the time to taste your food while you eat it.  
  • Listen to the person talking to you.
  • Just sit and think somewhere that it's quiet.  No phone, no music, no book.  Just you.  Maybe write things down.  
  • When you're working out really hard, enjoy that burning feeling in your lungs.  It might hurt, but it's progress.  
Anyhow, I could go on and on about ways to really enjoy the moments of your life, but I'm not going to bore you with all of the ones that I've been thinking about lately.  What's important is taking time to really enjoy what's happening right now.  Be grateful for the present.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Another early season race done...

Quick and Boring post because I have schoolwork piled up...

Hopbrook Dam is a climbers paradise.  If there's one thing that stood out in everyone's mind after they raced yesterday, it was "that climb" that never seemed to end.  It started off with a steep run that was only rideable for me on my pre-ride and my 3rd lap.  The first lap had too many people clustered together still, the second lap had a rock in the way, and the 4th lap had some goofy dude at the top making me laugh.  Good thing I don't mind laughing.  Anyhow, right after that steep part, there's a long fire road that has some steep pitches here and there and keeps turning corners only to reveal more incline behind it.  As soon as you're at the top, it goes down a little on some windy single track, and then it starts climbing again, and right as you are finally cresting, there are some rocks on the trail that force you to pay attention and dish out some more energy.  Brutal.  4 X Brutal, to be exact.

Lucky for me, Kelly Dolan kept me moving.  We were within a bike's distance of each other for most of the race, but a mechanical took her out of my sight somewhere around the end of the third lap.  I talked to her at the end, and we both seemed to agree that we need to ride some hills before the next race.

So, as for a finish time, I was within ten minutes of the winner, so I really can't complain.  Those girls were f-ing fast!  I refuse to discredit myself with a second to last finish because I am racing against the best of the best now.  Not only that, we had a damn good turnout.  Across the board (all categories), we had more women racing yesterday than I can recall seeing since I started this crazy lifestyle.  Kudos to the women who kicked my butt because you all push me to go way faster and way harder than I ever ordinarily would.

Thanks to Thom Parsons of Cycling Dirt for getting this photo of the results, which I stole:

I had a blast with my teammates yesterday!  Everyone did really well.  A blog posting on the DAS Racing site will be up as soon as possible, so be sure to check there soon.