Ramblings, musings and generally boring stuff. Mostly about bikes...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sometimes FUN finds you...

Tuesday evening...I started out toward Carondelet park with the intent to race, if I felt good by the time I got there. The RdP was crowded with buzzers and honkers and I was really jumpy the whole way. My nerves were shot by the time I reached the park.

As I rolled up, I passed Cory, Lisa (Q) and Suzanne rolling out to do a spin down Broadway. I elected to roll with them rather than try to race. First, I needed to find Alice to drop off a tire for her. I headed up the hill and ran into Jessica M.- sitting in her badass squad car! Very cool!
I left Alice's tire with Jessi and headed back down to meet Cory. Buy then Suzanne had dropped off, so Cory and Q and I rode down to Broadway. We took it easy on the flats but pushed ourselves on the hills. Cory smoked me up Holly Hill! I tried to catch her but just couldn't. She's really gotten strong on the hills!

We made our way back to the TNW just in time to see the first lap of the C race. Man, they seemed so much slower than normal! I should have raced! Oh well.
I guess after a couple of laps, a few guys went off the front, while a few in the back sat up and stopped pedalling. Jamie was in there to cool down after the B's but ended up getting hosed by those sitting up. She jumped out and did a couple laps around the other lake with me and Alice. I'll get back in there next week!

Alice and I then made our way home. I noticed as we turned on Christy that a group from the Maplewood ride was just ahead of us. Due to timing of lights, we never caught them. Alice was a little anxious about letting me head home on my own, but I assured her I'd be ok. I pulled up to the light at Eichelburger and Hampton, noticing that there were a number of cars-in front, to my left and behind me. A guy in a car behind me gave me an (overly?) enthusiastic wave. I waved back but then didn't turn around again. Strangly, as soon as I got through the intersection, there were no other cars around. I guess they all turned. There was, however, a guy on a motorcycle, who pulled up next to me in the left lane. He yelled something that I couldn't hear over the roar of his "chopper." I asked him to repeated it but I still couldn't figure it out. Then I thought "oh maybe he wants to pace me." There was no one ahead of us or oncoming, no one behind, so, I grabbed some gear and put the hammer down. I am good at accelerating and really showed my stuff here. He matched my acceleration and stayed right next to me, grinning! He yelled that I had almost gotten to 35 mph (really, I was closer to 28 mph, per my computer). Then I was done. I gave the "tired" signal and smiled, waved and sped off. What a cool experience!

Too often, drivers yell, honk, buzz me or flip me off. It's nice to have a pleasant experience to hold on to for a while.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back in the saddle

I got back on the bike last night. Ruth, Jamie and Alane were kind enough to do a little ride with me. I was definately the "Nervous Nelly", stopping early, waiting for every last car on the horizon, anxiously dodging sticks and debris on the road, white knuckle grip on the bars. I am sure it will get easier and I'll be back to my old self in no time.

The cut on the noggin is healing pretty well. We pretty much deduced that it was caused by a little piece of plastic in the helmet. It's the part where the plastic that cradles the head attaches to the styrofoam. I hit it "just right." My head would have had a larger wound without the helmet.

I did discover that my arm is pretty sore. Not sure if this is from the crash or from sleeping funny since then. I plan to schedule an appointment with Justin Corson, massage therapist extraordinare.

After some initial protest, I embraced my week off the bike. I had a great evening officiating the first of several nights of State Championships at the track, enjoyed sleeping in and a jog (pronounced with a soft "j") on Saturday and worked with Sara Rodney on Sunday, learning how to be an official at the Babler Circuit race. In August, I'll spend an afternoon with Buddy and hopefully pass the Officials exam, to become a "Category C official." - An "Official" Official.

I want to say thank you to everyone for being so kind and supportive. I also want to send healing thoughts to all those who crashed out at Mueller Road on 7/13. Phil met Todd and Tim for the Momentum ride but (fortunately) he was stuck in traffic and arrived late. Todd waited for him and didn't leave with the pack. Tim was also tied up due to traffic. The three rolled out at about 6:30. Phil said they came upon the group near the end of the ride, just as the ambulances were rolling away. I'm not sure if I know any of those who went down, but I wish them speedy recoveries none-the-less. According to the all-knowing Facebook (actually according to the all-knowing Cory, on facebook- There were punctured lungs and a good amount of stitches!)

Viva le Tour (de Missouri!)

Saturday, July 4, 2009


In some respects it wasn't as fabulous as the crashes some of my friends have experienced. I didn't fracture my pelvis, I didn't hop back up and win a race, I didn't end up with a broken collar bone or severe facial laceration, I don't have tons of painful road rash (all badges of honor once you've been there). I hadn't actually had a crash since 1995.
This one WAS a good one in it's own way, though.

We were about 30 miles in. It was around 12:30. We'd come from Maplewood, through Kirkwood, up Ballas to Clayton, to 109.
I remember crossing the tracks at Long Road, just off Wild Horse Creek. Tim was in front of me. Todd and Phil were further ahead, nearing the light to head into Ghisallo. I noticed a car, truck I think, behind me. Then I lost control, swerved like Joseba Beloki and POW, my rear tire blew off the rim. I vaguely remember a thought, "I'm gonna go down." I think I relaxed a little.

The next clear memory I have is in the ER at St Johns. A nurse is x-raying my wrist. I remember feeling really well rested, like I'd just taken a good nap. I don't remember too much pain.

There are pieces of memory....Asking Tim to look for my sunglasses lens (which likely cut me on my forehead), the blood running down the side of my face, a nice man talking to me, what I think was the EMT's strapping me into the gurney to go in the Ambulance.

I pieced together some more information later:
Apparently (according to Tim), I was able to get up after the crash. The man who was talking to me was a veterinarian, who was in a truck behind me. He stopped traffic, helped me up and I sat on the tailgate of his truck. He and Tim stopped the blood with Tim's glove and then some gauze he had in his truck. A women behind them called 911 - twice (I am not sure why she called twice). The ambulance arrived, while Tim was calling Michelle to have her meet us. I answered all the questions clearly, gave my name, spelled it and told them what happened. The EMTs were ready to let me go, to get to the Hospital with Michelle/Tim, until they asked me one more time..."What happened?" and I suddenly had no idea....

At this point, they loaded me up in the ambulance. Tim headed down to Ghisallo to tell Phil what happened. He tried to get Phil and Todd's attention after the accident but the traffic, wind and distance prevented them from hearing Tim's yells. Tim caught up with them and Phil came out to the road, just in time to see the ambulance going by. He attempted to flag them down but they were already taking me away and didn't stop for him. He ended up getting a ride to St. John's from Jim Valentine. Meanwhile, the nice Veterinarian had brought my bike to Ghisallo. Tim and Michelle took Todd and our bikes to St John's, got the key to our house, dropped off bikes, Todd and picked up clothing and Phil's car. They even moved my car around in the driveway. Tim and Michelle drove back to St. John's.

During that time, I was starting to become more alert, aware. Starting to realize how little I remembered up to that point. Apparently, I was asking a lot of questions, repeatedly. "Did I hit a bump?" "Is my bike ok?" "Is my helmet ok?" "Was I being nice to everyone?" Phil later told me how concerned he was by the repeated questions, but the Doc wasn't so concerned. Turns out this is common for a concussion.

I do remember having to pee and using the pop out toilet in the room. I also kind of remember getting an IV, but totally not being concerned about it (but thinking I SHOULD BE, as I am quite afraid of needles).

I had a Head CT (I remember going into the machine) and it was fine. The xray of my wrist was fine. They stitched up my head laceration, with only three (big, ugly, black) stitches. After monitoring me for a while, I was released around 4:30 or 5pm.

It amazes me how long it took for me to clear. I continue to ask Phil some of the same questions, but am remembering better when I last asked it and what his response was.

My hand/wrist is very sore and a large ugly bruise is forming. I have a small wound on the bottom of my palm. I have road rash in strange places - the TOPS of my knees, My Right Hip and waist and the inside of my right arm (crook of my elbow). My left arm is sore, apparently from the Tetanus shot I don't remember getting (but Phil assures me that I did).
I had a lot of dried blood in my hair. It was difficult to tell where the stitches were at first. My head is pretty sore, just above the laceration and my neck is very stiff and sore on the left side. My Hub Bib shorts were fine - just a little bit of scuff from the road but no holes or anything. My jersey has just a couple of spots of blood on it. My gloves are intact but have some tears and blood. My (BRAND NEW) Catlike helmet did it's job. It has a small area where the Styrofoam is smashed, right were my head hit the pavement. There's a good amount of blood on the straps near there and on the padding inside. The bike has a blown tube, which blew the tire off the rim, but otherwise it's fine. The hoods were pushed inward on both sides (?) but easily straightened out.

All in all, I am pretty lucky. It could have been much worse. The helmet I waited so long for was there to do what I needed it to do.
It's still a little frightening for me, when I think about how much stuff happened, that I was present and conscious for but don't remember at all. Phil has been so very patient and loving with me, allowing me to process in my own way and own time. He's encouraged me to get on the spin bike/trainer and been a little parental with me when I tried to say that I thought I could ride again before the Doc cleared me to (I can ride again on Wednesday, at the earliest).

I owe a HUGE amount of thanks to Tim, Michelle, Todd, the Vet, Jim Valentine, The EMT's, and all of the others who were there to help, call 911 or say silent prayers. And of course to Phil, for his continued love, support and nurturance, both when I am injured and well.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why do I do this?

photo credit: D. Pate

One of my favorite Crits was Sunday. The Webster Groves Criterium. This year was extra special because I am on the Hub team. I started my day extra early by volunteering at Registration for 4 hours. On Saturday, I put my craftiness to good use (what little I have) to make signs for the kids races (They doubled as fans!). At noon, I changed into my kit and prepared to help with the kids races. I actually delegated well and got to sit down (or rather, was TOLD to sit down by Carrie) during the kids races. As a result of all of the morning standing/working, my legs felt heavy and leadened.

All morning, we were registering women for Cat 4 races and other women for a 1,2,3 race. At the line, we were told we'd race as "women's open." I didn't grasp what this would mean in the end. I still don't understand the nuances of this stuff, but I am learning. The more I learn, the more I don't like it. The more I have to evaluate WHY I do this. Turns out Women's Open means that for a Cat 4 women, no matter how well you do against your peers, you are judged against everyone, including some of the the best women racers in the area. I got 11th, out of 20 finishers. I felt good about my race but got dropped off of case group 1 (which ended up becoming chase 2) with about 8 laps to go. Looking at the results, I discovered that Alice (Hub team mate) was the first Cat 4 women across the line. I was the 2nd. That's awesome....however, no one cares (except me, and maybe Alice). Turns out that when there are two flyers, the one announced at the line rules. That was the one that didn't give a damn about Cat 4 women. No money or glory for us.
(I am realizing that I am MORE in it for the glory than anything). Ron (our Hub Team Director Sportif) was pleased with us and I am pleased for that!

Phil had a bad race. The first he actually pulled himself out of. Despite all the reasons he had for legitimately ending that race early, he was pretty rough on himself for several days. Processing this from the outside has also given me pause to consider more "WHY?"

Then I did the TNW. I had a blast. I struggled but hung on. I am feeling better each week as I dive into that turn two. Chris Clausen stayed in our race and gave pointers and encouragement throughout. I was fortunate to be the benefactor of this support several times. I lose it on the hill every time, but Chris encouraged me to make it to the top and hang on. I stayed with the lead pack (albeit at the back) til 2 to go. I even noticed that I was starting to pass Alice in the turn. She, of course, promptly passed me on the hill. That girl has Power! This is WHY. It's fun and although I swear I will actually throw up at some point during a race, I love the feeling I get when I push myself to the limit.

Then Wednesday came. For some stupid reason, I decided to look at the MOBAR standings. Why are the girls who catted up still listed on the Cat 4 standings, and still getting points for races since they catted up? Why are there NO points for Women's 4 for O'Fallon Grand Prix (I got 3rd!!) I emailed Mike, who emailed Craig. Craig proceeds to tell me that 1) "The Cat 4 racers who have upgraded will keep the points they have, but gain no further points. It seems reasonable that if a Cat 4 earns enough points to be MOBAR champion and then upgrades during the same season, they should still get the benefits of their points. Otherwise, you would have people sandbagging and refusing to upgrade until the end of the season." - This still makes no sense to me b/c they clearly have points listed for races that occurred after they catted up...
2)"The O’Fallon Grand Prix had Women Open run at 11:38 and Women 4 at 11:42. Since these races were run simultaneously and since the first was Women Open, the Cat 4s in Women Open got any points they earned and no points were awarded for racers in the Women 4 event. The thought here is to encourage racers to do the harder races (or at least not penalize them for doing so). We have this situation in other categories as well (typically if there’s a Men 1/2/3 race and a Men 3/4 race)." BUMMER! There's the Why question again....

I'm still working on the answer. I've come to realize that it's more dynamic that static. It changes, evolves, regresses and rejoices. Sometimes the answer to WHY is to belong to something bigger than myself. Sometimes I feel like I am truely a part of a special community, a family. Sometimes I feel like I am a step-child in this family (insert childhood issues here). After all, Someone once said "Women aren't the future of bike racing."