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

Friday, December 31, 2010

writing the resolution

Thanks to a suggestion from Jessi, I bought the book Writing Down the Bones (Natalie Goldberg). Since 12/23, I've been writing more and practicing something from each of the chapter's I've read. Since my New Year's Resolution of sorts has been to write more and blog more, I've decided to post more of these writing exercises here.
To the 5 or 6 people who read this, I am sorry. This is primarily an exercise for myself, in a public forum to keep me honest.
I do welcome your feedback, comments, constructive criticism. If you have something mean to say, please keep it to yourself. (There are other blogs where you can freely post your meanness, or on Facebook!)

Here's what I wrote on 12/28/10. Keep in mind, I am a hormonal mess right now. So, I am not entirely responsible for the mess that spills from my mind to the pen and page. (or keyboard and screen).

I'm actually riding the trainer now. Sitting on it as I write. Thoughts turn over as legs turn over. I didn't want to do either today. Didn't want to do anything. Numb.
I'm not happy. There's a discontent in my head and heart. A sense of hopelessness.
Tomorrow will not bring what I long for. But I have no proof of that and I lumber on. Making useless, senseless circles. Joyless circles.
Going through the motions. I hope one of these processes will bring me somewhere. Riding, writing.
Somewhere, deep within me, a steadiness brings joy. I longed for the unknown and freeform that is the holidays but now It's the let down
So I move through what I should to toward what is known. Toward muscle memory for body and soul.

Monday, December 6, 2010

And the days go by....

Boy am I a lazy blogger!?! But I promise I've been a busy girl!

I admire my friend Suzanne's blog and her recent 365 challenge (which she is keeping up with smashingly, by the way). I keep thinking that one of these days I should start a 365 project to keep me motivated to write more of this stuff. (I keep thinking that by writing more, my thoughts will become more focused, streamlined and, well..., interesting!)

But I spend my time doing so many other things instead... AND The days just fly by.

I am blessed with a good job that keeps me active and keeps my brain stimulated. Most days I grab lunch while typing... but I am also thankful for the down time this job affords me. Usually I am spending this down time working on Team Revolution stuff or catching up on educational websites
When I am not seated in a cubicle (yes, I have a Master's degree and I sit in a cubicle. I left my office with beautiful floor to ceiling windows and heavy wooden doors for a $20,000 pay increase!) I am seated on a bike, somewhere....

My coach has given me a 5-6 workout/week schedule, with Monday and Fridays usually rest days. Weight lifting/stretching occupy my time on Weds & Sat and Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sunday I am on the bike. Time ticks by as I spin the pedals. Fortunately I have some intervals, and now cold weather, mixed in there to keep things interesting.

Sundays are often long rides. So far the weather has been kind and accomodating; however, last Sunday I was grateful the long ride was only 2 hours (rest week!).
I headed over to Suzanne's house and suited up with Kate, Jamie and Suzanne. 28.4 degrees at our start. The wind and lack of sunshine made it even more interesting.

My biggest motivation to ride this Sunday was actually the cold. I will continue to ride throughout the winter. Last year the lowest temp I rode in was 11 degrees (with some sun!). I have found that if I keep riding, at gradually lower and lower temperatures, when I get to 11, it doesn't seem so shocking. But if I miss a series of 30, 25, 20 degree rides, 11 just seems unbearable.

So, I am sure I'll continue to be busy...working, riding, working, riding. I'll get around to blog whenever I can. Maybe, just maybe, I incorporate more writing in my new years resolution!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What I've gained along the way....

I've always been quiet and somewhat shy. I had the small group of friends throughout young adulthood (many of them 10, 20 years older than me!). I started riding my bicycle regularly with this group when Phil and I first started dating in 1994. I was so comfortable in this small group. It's hard to have much drama when only 2-3 people are involved! Around 2004, when I graduated from Grad school, I expanded my group, but only a little.

It wasn't until 2006 that I ventured outside of this group. It was at that time that I stumbled upon Team Revolution and Carrie Cash. I can't remember how I found out about the Wednesday night rides, but all it took was one ride and I was hooked. Phil remembers me coming home after that first one and talking a mile a minute. I continued to make it to rides whenever I could but my job was getting in the way. These rides were part of the reason for my job change in December 2006. My new schedule would allow me to make it to any Team Revolution Ride I wanted!

2007 brought a whole new world for me. I started riding with Carrie and Chris again in the spring, while continuing with Mary Kay and the Maplewood crew on Saturdays. On Wednesday nights, I was meeting new ladies each week ~ Ruth and Jamie and Allison and Teresa and Nicole (and many more...). Wow, these girls were STRONG and they loved cycling as much as I did!! I fondly remember several wednesday nights when, after chasing Teresa for 16 miles, I begged her to come back next week so I could do it again.
I was challenging myself physically and emotionally. I was gaining new friends and a new figure (I lost about 35 lbs that year). With Carrie and my Team Revolution Racing 101 class, my confidence was boosted and I started racing at Gateway Cup, Tour De Lafayette in August 2007.

In 2008, I continued to ride and race with Team Revolution. I joined the development team for racing and became more involved with the club, planning happy hours, events and helping out at clinics. I've never been a leader in a formal capacity and was proud of the work I had been doing. In late 2008, early 2009, I joined the Team Revolution board in a more official capacity. I was promoted to President in early 2009.

Over the last two years of racing and running Team Revolution, I have continued to grow and be challenged in new and often exciting ways. I have also found some of the less than delightful challenges working with a large group of women and have had moments when I want to go back to my little group where it was safe. I admit that I am not an angel and I have talked about someone in their absence when I should not have.I have tried to make amends for any wrong doing. I have witnessed how hurtful women can be in relationship to one another and how easily I can get sucked into to the "Drama." As a leader, I have had to hold myself to a higher standard and watch what I say. As a leader, I have fallen victim to some of the gossip (and backstabbing?). As a leader, I have been excluded and had my feelings hurt, but needed to take the high road and only address it as it affects the club I am responsible for. As an individual, it really hurt sometimes.

As an individual, I have made mistakes. I have stumbled into success without much of my own doing. I have created great things and watched as others create great things. I have taken credit and passed credit along. It has been wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. Running the club has been as exhausting as racing my bike. I continue to grow emotionally and physically each day.

My point to all this is to say that I am still, underneath all of my growth, challenges, mistakes, joys and defeats, I am still the same quiet person I was before I ever even knew about Team Revolution. Yet, this quiet girl has been challenged within an inch of my life and has grown exponentially. I have gained more experiences, strength and most of all, friends. As a leader, I have met a lot of really cool people. As an individual, I have made some really cool friends.

The true friends I have gained along the way know my heart and know what I am capable of doing, what I am capable of faking and what I should not ever really attempt. They challenge me in nuturing and supportive ways. They hold me up when other people seem to want to push me under.

As I prepare my transition away from leader at the end of this year, it's easy to look back on the trials and tribulations instead of the success. But I realize that I would not have gotten through thick or thin without picking up these wonderful friends along the way!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Half the harm that is done in this world
Is due to people who want to feel important
They don't mean to do harm
But the harm does not interest them.
Or they do not see it, or they justify it
Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle
To think well of themselves.

T. S. Eliot

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ronde Von Jakob- My First Cyclocross Race

Ok, so my first cx experience for 2010 started a little rocky. I have a new bike (Felt F1X) instead of the bike I borrowed from Stewart M. Good start there. I did a little Thursday night Forest Park practices, preceded by a little get pre-practice skills clinic with Susan K. (That's Kube!). But, despite the best efforts of the new bike and my friend, I could not do a decent dismount. (Susan will fondly remember my fears of the imaginary barriers!)

So, off to the Team Revolution Cyclocross clinic I went. After 4 hours of skill learning and drills... viola! I could dismount and sort of remount. I could jump barriers with or without a bike! I could do a modified run up, sort of carrying my bike and sort of hitting myself in the head with my seat!

I was ready for my first Cross race.... Hermann Cx Sunday.....

Mother Nature intervened. Boo! This was NOT to be my first cx race.

Ok, no big deal... I'd prepare for the Pride Race on 9/25 to be my first race.....

God intervened.... I got a call that my Momma was in the hospital! Boo! Off to Colorado for a week off the bike and caring for my mom.

So.... Ronde Von Jakob.... You ARE my first cross race!

Kelly M aptly prepared us for the course, after she assisted with the set up. She described it as not being a Kelly friendly course. Hmmm...

Suzanne J and I had a plan to travel together. The worlds best... or at least Columbia's best Soigneur, Sam drove us, with only a slight detour!
We arrived, registered and prepared. Chris provided some excellent advice on clothing for this chilly weather (low 50s and windy) and pinned my number on for me!!
Suzanne and I were then off to preview the course.

WOW! Kelly had warned me about "the cliff" and while it wasn't a 40 drop, it was an accurate description in my book. There was only one good line for this little descent.
I ran down it on warm up lap one. Cory and Suzanne were quickly getting ahead of me as I navigated this bumpy, twisty, curvy terrain. What was I getting myself in to?? Warm up lap two. I tried to ride down the cliff, but ended up nearly wiping out and sticking my nose of my saddle firmly into my right buttock cheek. OUCH.

The rest of the course featured some s-curve like sections, some off camber stuff, with off camber S curve climbs and descents.
Some flats and straights, barriers with a quick U turn into a pretty grapevine section, more s curvy stuff (photo guy- Eville Mike there. I swear I almost ran into him more than once!)
Then a long headwind flat section, more turns, climb, tall grass, descend, tall grass, FENCE! climb through orchard, turn and climb a gravel road. The finish section wound around the side of the winery with some more fun off camber stuff and a nice flat wide finish.

There were 10 women on this chilly autumn day when we lined up (Carrie, Allison, Cory, Suzanne, Sally, Soli, Me, Beth, Kelly and Flavia). We were off! Early on, I told Soli that she probably shouldn't stay behind me. She obliged and moved up. I was last.
But I stayed on Beth's wheel. I had to dismount where she rode down the Cliff but I caught back up to her in the straight sections. I was surprised at how much more skilled I got at the s curve stuff as the race wore on.
Soon, I passed Beth. After playing some cat and mouse, I started to pull away from her. I was also gaining ground on Kelly. I managed to pass her with a little cat and mouse too but then started to gain ground on her. With 2 laps to go, I saw Carrie approaching Kelly behind me. She was gonna lap me, it was just a matter of when. I realized that before the start/finish would be great, thus shortening my race from 2 to go to 1 to go! Woo Hoo. I was having fun... but also very tired.

Carrie passed on the gravel section and was headed away by start finish. I confirmed one to go with Mark and Larry (officials) and cherished this last lap. I was enough ahead of Kelly to take it easy on a couple of sections. I continued to dismount and run down the cliff and pick up speed on the flat/straights. My dismount was less than stellar but would suffice and I sort of walked/jumped the barriers one last time. As I turned through the orchard section, I was really starting to run out of steam. I told myself "Don't stop." But then quickly switched to the more positive "Keep going". This helped me through the last two little climbs and I finished my first cross race!

5th place for Women's Cat 4 (I am still a 4 for cross!!!) Not too shabby! (Cory Won the 4s race! Suzanne got 2nd, even after a nasty encounter with the cliff and her hand and the ground!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fed Ex Rock N Roll MS150 2010

2010 marks my 15th year of MS 150 rides. Early on, we rode the Missouri MS 150. I think we camped in Mexico MO. I don't remember the camping lasting too long. I think I've blocked some of that from my memory. I do remember the year my cousin Becca and I rode, sagged and she mooned all the riders we passed from the Sag van!
I also remember the year I rode with Tunes, who dubbed herself "Rides with sore butt". That year, a POLICE team ran her off the road into a ditch! It was also that year that we hopped into the sag vehicle and convinced them to let us out just before the finish line, so it appeared we rode the whole thing. Tunes convinced me we should tell the boys that we actually did the whole thing. I kept up my end of the deal, only to discover that she fessed up to Marc within a few minutes. Phil is still disappointed that I "lied" to him about finishing.

I don't clearly remember the first time I finished both days. I do know that i've ridden the MO MS 150 10 times. Of those 10, we've seen hills, flats, amish country, fresh baked cookies at a rest stop, torrential downpours, sunny days, camping, hotels that were ok, hotels that smelled like ass, kittens, Ken getting his tongue stuck on a Popsicle, Dick taking naps at the rest stops. I've thrown up, been stung by bees. I've ridden a hybrid, mountain bike, steel road bike and carbon bike. I can still remember one year when I was doing everything I could to stay upright and just make it to the lunch stop. I watched my average and just kept hoping I could keep an all time high of 12 mph, only to see it slip into 11 something.

5 years ago, we took the Bad Dog Cycle Team to Memphis TN for the FedEx Rock N Roll MS 150. No camping on this ride!
The total participants were a fraction of those in Missouri. The rest stops were posh, the volunteers were amazing. For 4 years, this ride left Graceland and headed to Tunica MS. We initially stayed at the Gold Strike Hotel. I rode with my friends Deeds and Doc and we stopped at every rest stop and took pictures in the cotton fields. We donned "Elvis" Sunglasses, complete with side burns. My friend Doc rode "The Wall" (Hill with 15% average grade) 5 times!
In 2007, I got faster! I was able to keep up with boys and saw my average increase (17.1 and 18.3!!). We rode in pacelines and learned the meaning of "Clear for Bob!" Our overnight location became the Harrahs Resort/Casino.
In 2008 and 2009, I completed the century route on Day 1 (only offered on Day 1 for this ride). In 2008, I brought my friend Cory from St Louis for the ride. In 2009, I brought SuzanneR.

For 2010, we decided to expand the team to include the Team Revolution ladies. SuzanneR become my co-captain and five other St Louis Rev'ers participated (Alice, Lo, Susan K., Britt and Jackie)
The "core" Bad Dog team was there: Dan, Bob, Tom, Margaret, Beth, Richard. Brian returned for his 2nd year and brought GF Tracy along. I shared my Team Rev jersey with Tracy so she could fit in with this incredible group of ladies, while I sported my Bad Dog jersey to support that 1/2 of our Team. Tom paid for some cool t shirts for our combined "Bad Dog/Team Rev" team.

On Saturday, we were late getting to the start and started at the back. A volunteer at check in informed me that there were about 640 riders this year. Starting at the back of over 600 riders was a challenge. EVERY ability level of rider was there.
Phil and I stuck together and tried to find more of our team.
SuzanneR, Jackie, Alice and Lo started out together. They wore costumes of tutus, neon leggings and feathers on their helmets.
We encountered Margaret, Beth and Richard just after Richard had pushed a women on a hybrid into a ditch! (Just kidding, he had nothing to do with her running off the road!!)
Phil and I continued to maneuver around slower riders, while being passed by some fast riders and some fast looking riders- some guys in full Cervelo kits and Catlike helmets with Zipp 404s! "on your left" was being said all over the place as most of the riders filled our lane and spilled into on-coming traffic! Man, those Tennessee and Mississippi drivers were patient!
We kept lookout for Dan, Bob and Tom, figuring that they were well ahead by now.

My legs felt tight and sore, so I wanted to limit stops to a minimum. Stop 1 just seems unnecessary and feels like it sets us up for a longer than necessary day. At Stop 2, I was feeling good and we rode on. Stop 3 was just before lunch and "The hill" on day 1, so we pushed through and climbed that steep but little hill with some guys we met along the way.
I rode next to a guy with a radio blaring "electric avenue" as we crested the little hill. I kept waiting for another up-tick but reached a mark on the road that read "That was it!"
Day 1 is made up of smooth pavement and gentle rollers, but the head wind was steady. Around this time, I started the mini-bonks. I wasn't drinking enough and about every 6-8 miles, I'd slow way down. Phil waited for me to perk up again. I tried to take my turn at pulling but it was clear that I was the weakest link. I learned to love staring at his yellow rear tire!
We arrived at lunch, to discover there was no way Dan, Bob and Tom were ahead of us!
After a quick 1/2 PBJ, some sugar via Mountain Dew (YUM!) and a oatmeal cream pie tucked in my jersey for later, we were off again.
The last 30 miles included more headwind, rollers and me bonking every few miles for a couple of minutes. Phil was patient with me. We agreed that we'd do short pulls and work together in the wind on "The flats" in the last 10 miles. We could see rain looming in the distance.
That rain was no longer looming. Just after we went down the "Wall" (which we climb on Day 2), to the river valley, the sprinkles started. The wind continued. We took short pulls and the rain picked up. After we turned onto the road that leads to the casinos, the rain picked up. Phil was able to get through a light but I was stopped and as I stood there waiting for green, it began to pour! Phil was stopped on the other side of the intersection. Hard, painful rain drops pelted us as we completed the last 2-3 miles. I watched our 18 something average drop to 17.7 by the finish. The rain stopped just as we crossed the finish line. We finished just after 12 pm.

We showed, rested and I hung out at the finish and lobby as the rest of the Bad Dog/Team Rev riders finished. I waited with them as several waited for hotel rooms. Phil joined me and we headed to the Casino to watch some football with Dan and Bob, eat a little something (Dinner was several hours away and we were hungry!) and play the $10 in free slot play that was included in our ride packets. All of the Wheel of Fortune slots were busy, so I played a random slot machine. After a dozen pulls, I hit $35 and quickly cashed out.

After Dinner and awards presentation we crashed in bed, asleep by 9:15! Up at 6 and breakfast by 6:30. Most of our team were done eating and ready to roll. We packed up our stuff and readied to ride. Again, we were toward the back,having to navigate our way through the myriad of riders, 4-5 wide. We had a nice tailwind and everyone seemed to be enjoying it, as the overall pace of this HUGE group was fast. This is my least favorite part. After we turned into headwind, the group was thinning out.
Brian and Tracy were near the front as we settled into a paceline. When it was Phil's turn to pull, a bunch of riders jumped on. As we took our pulls and moved to the back, these guys picked up the pace and I was dropped. We eased up and noticed Brian and Tracy weren't with us any longer.
Fortunately we had another section of tailwind! This one was 10-12 miles worth! It was great. We filtered into a new paceline with 6 other riders and could hang with their pace of 23-25 mph. I've never ridden that fast, so effortlessly! It was great.
But it didn't last forever. Soon, we were in the headwinds again. These headwinds were intense and lead us to "The Wall" - our one major climb of the weekend. It's about 1/2 a mile long and just under 15% average grade. That high average dropped, and dropped and dropped some more.
More little bonks ensued after "The Wall" but they only lasted a few minutes. The rollers continued and Phil and I fell into a rhythm. It was just the two of us, with only a few others riders in sight until the Lunch stop.
When we arrived at lunch, it looked crowded but we soon realized it was ALL the volunteers! They had people who were there just to hold our bikes! The volunteers at the check in informed me that I was the first girl!! That's pretty cool. While we were going pretty fast in the tailwind/flats, we'd slowed down a lot since then!
Phil and I agreed that a quick stop was in order, so we didn't eat too much or cramp. We filled bottles and got back on the road. We settled into a groove again and Phil let me sit on his wheel, without having to do too much work. More rollers and few riders for the next 25 miles. Just before the last rest stop, we found some guys riding around a little skate park. As we passed, they joined up with us. They were going fast but as we filtered in with them, the group splintered up. We met Rick, who was grateful at my offer of water, as he had run out. I was soon off the back of this group with one other guy. Rick was stuck like glue to Phil's wheel. I was falling off the pace with Phil quickly and could see him moving over the road and trying to slow down, but Rick wouldn't get off his wheel. It was like the guy in the race that won't let you stop pulling, no matter how slow you go. After a couple of turns, Phil's only option to shake this guy (who was also trying to hold conversations about life with him), was to take off.
I couldn't wait for the last 3 miles to be OVER. I limped in, but still somehow managed to be the first woman to finish. Out of 600 riders, that's pretty cool! Despite my slowing in the last 1/2 of the ride, we still managed a 17.6 average.

We changed, drank a soda, hung out and waited for the rest of the team to finish. We saw as Bob and Dan crossed the line but they continued past us, toward the food! Brian and Tracy held hands as they crossed the finish together. SuzanneR, Jackie, Alice, Lo, Susan and Britt rode in and cheered. They too quickly headed past us (I don't think they even noticed us!) and went toward the building where the food and party was (The band was inside and LOUD!)
We said bye to Brian and Tracy and got on the road for the 4 1/2 hour drive home. Tired, pleased and ready to sleep in our own beds.

As I reflect on this year's ride and the 14 prior, I notice many accomplishments, time spent with friends, leisurely paces, lots of stops, fast paces, few stops, pacelines and centuries. This was the first year that it was just me and Phil, together the whole way. I wouldn't trade that quality time on the bike with the one I love for anything!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


All good things must come to an end.

Fortunately for me, all bad things must too.

And so, on this note, I end my 2010 road season. I raced Gateway Cup~ Lafayette Square on Friday.
I went around in circles with a pack of 27 or something a few times....
I drifted to the back....
I drifted off the back...
I was dropped....

I didn't feel it in my head or legs.
I approached corners with panic a few times, "Oh my God, I forgot how to go through a corner!"
As soon as I was in it, I was fine.

I worked with Delona, Kubie and another girl. That was fun.
We got lapped.
We jumped back in.

The last lap came and the field picked up the pace to chase an attack on turn 3. A watched a girl sit up and thought, "Oh, that looks nice!" so I did too.
Then I realized I'd be done sooner if I didn't sit up and stepped on the gas.
I sprinted, by my self.... A theme for the year.

I placed 20 something.

And with that, I put my first year as a Cat 3 to bed. Nighty Night. See you in February 2011.

I hope to Blossom as a Cat 4 Cross Racer in a few weeks.
I am embracing my beginner's spirit.
So far, I have managed to stay upright and laugh..... ALOT
Bring on the MUDD!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Teamwork Rocks!

Our last night of the 2010 track season was 8.26.10
What a beautiful night of racing, only tainted at the end by a young man from nearby who decided he was the rightful owner of some of our belongings.
This night was for the teams. Team Pursuits and Track cup award!

After some scratch races, The Hub Women's team started the Team Pursuits. We were down one teammate, Kate, due to her shoulder separation. (Despite my attempts to get her to see my Chiro for some kinesio taping to get her back on the bike asap! Ok, Kate, I'll back off and let your Doctor prescribe your treatment!)
Our team consisted of Soli, Ashley and me. Ashley and I practiced some laps and transitions in our quick 10 minute warm up. I was really concerned about holding my team back when it was clear that I was tired and Ashley was fresh and energized in our warm ups!
Our opposing team consisted of Emilie, Cristel and Molly. I teased that I kind of felt like the last kid picked at kickball after some discussion about drawing straws to form our teams instead of Hub vs Dogfish/Mesa/Molly! But MAN, we sure worked well as a team.
We took to the line with our holders and were OFF. 12 laps of torture! We agreed we'd each pull a lap then transition. Soli organized us with Ashley first, Soli second and me third. We started off a little slow but my turn 2 Ashley was really picking up speed. After the first couple of transitions, I noticed a pattern - I was clearly the weakest link. Soli told us to rest when we weren't on the front, so I was trying to rest all I could then. Ashley's pace seemed to be 22-23 mph, and for about 1/2 a lap, Soli would pick it up to 24-25. It was great to go fast but I was really having to work to stay on her wheel and not get a gap. I yelled to her to "ease up a bit" a few times but feared again that I was the weak link in the chain. I got gapped about 2 bike lengths on one lap. When Soli pulled off the front, I'd try my best to maintain a decent speed but I was only able to manage 20-22.

With our last lap, I was pulling and Soli and Ashley came around to my right. We sprinted for the line and I realized that the 172 heart rate I was running for the last 3-4 laps was the highest I've ever had at the track. I am sure I couldn't have sustained that for even just 1-2 more laps.

After a quick cool down, we pulled off the track to watch Cristel, Emilie and Molly race. Of course, everyone always seems slower when you are sitting on the sidelines!
Those three girls are so strong and looked so good, I was sure we were 2nd to their win.

The Hub men rocked their pursuits, with fast speeds and beautiful transitions.
As the men finished their team pursuits, the party started.
PJ and Joe threw a fabulous awards party, including the presentation of the Team Track Cup, champagne and Cake!
The Hub sure dominated at the track, bring tons of men and women to the races!
We will represent our Track Cup proudly!
Soli won the women's overall, with Emilie taking 2nd and Molly rounding out the podium in 3rd. These women are strong!!!

When it came time to announce the winners of the pursuits, they announced Emilie/Cristel and Molly in 2nd! Wait a minute..... That makes us 1st!!!
I couldn't believe it! We won!!! We had a 10 second lead on that amazing team of women! Way to go Ashley and Soli! What an awesome team.

It felt good to get my first Win of the track and to be part of such a wonderful team, and wonderful track family.

Can hardley wait til the 2011 season! Wanna join me??

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Klutzy rides (& slides) again!

State TT, State Track Omnium, Urban Assault ride, Individual State track championship:

Saturday 7.31.10:
State TT.

Phil and I picked up Jamie bright and early and headed to Jeff City. Phil was signed up for the Cat 4, Jamie in the Women's Open and I in the Merckx category. Phil had a handful of competitors. Jamie had Amy and Maureen. Cat 4 had a descent group, including Kate and Suzanne - both in contention for a Win. As we warmed up in the parking lot just off the course, I learned that my only competition would be Nicole.

I didn't think too much about what was ahead of me. I gave a mediocre warm up, circling in the parking lot, chatting as I went. I do think a little bee sting 10 minutes before my start may have helped a little!
40K is a LONG, LONG way! Especially for this NON-TT'er! Buddy counted me down and I was off. Easily moving at 23-24 mph for the first 1/4. As soon as I passed the 20k turn around spot, the world seemed to stop spinning in my favor. Ugh....
Push, Push, spin, spin. I think I bounced around a much of gears, just trying to find something that felt "just a little better."
My turn around was typical for me... slow and awkward. My pace was better after the turn around but not enough to make up for how slow I was before that. There was a tail wind for sure. Several fast guys and ladies passed me but I was still cruising. At that darned 20k turn around point, the vortex of slow sucked me in again. Every pedal stroke got me closer to the finish.... but not soon enough! Where is that darned finish line?!

I crossed it with a 1:19 time, I think.... A good 20 minutes slower than most, but just enough for a Win for my category.

(content removed b/c I offended one of my friends. No offense was meant in the writing of this blog)

Another nice State Medal! My first medal as a Cat 3 (I do wish they were those cool ones from Tour of St Louis though. I'd love to get my hands on one of those!)

Saturday 8.14.10
State Track Omnium

Photo Credit: Payton Thomas' Dad (lifted from her blog!)

Phil and I show up at 8ish and the women start assembling. We quickly learn that there are new competitors in our midst - Suzie Goodwin and Payton Thomas from Dalla! Suzie is some crazy fast National Champion with tree trunk sprinter thighs. Payton is a 14 year old national track champ.
The usual contenders: Kate, Soli, Molly, Cristel, Ashley, Emilie - 9 total women.
As usual, my 200 m times were nothing to blog about (16.57 - 8th place)
The highlight of my day was coming around Cristel, Kate, Molly and Payton to take 5th in the Scratch race! Woo Hoo! I got 7th in the Points race and felt pretty good.
The theme for the rest of the day was Lantern Rouge, or whatever... LAST place for everything else and the Omnium. I just don't do well in the TT events> I like the mass start races better. But I had a good time in the heat (over 100!!)

Sunday 8.15.10 Urban Assault Ride

Kate and I formed the dynamic duo -"The Snot Rockets". Our costumes were carefully crafted to include silver opera gloves (a big hit!), silver glittery knee socks, gray t shirts with our names "Snotty Steph" and "Krusty Kate." We had red streamers from our helmets and bars (for the rockets!) Kate Rocked the TT helmet and we even had green silly string for the "Snot"!
We strutted our stuff pre-race but soon realized that we were out done by SuzanneR and Jackie -aka "The chickens"! Oh well, we could still go for crowd favorites! We were interactive!

The "race" started at 9am. Thanks to our 2nd highest quiz score, Kate and I started in the first wave (you really only need a 70% or better to start in the front wave!)
We ran for our bikes, but I had some trouble finding them. Kate spotted them and called to me. We were off! I couldn't get clipped in to the new Candy pedals so I just did my best until Big Shark. Due to stop lights and congestion, we were already behind. As we were arriving at Stop #1 Big Shark, Jamie and Aubrey were leaving!
I hopped on Kate's back for some piggy back polo and we were soon on our way, first bead secure on Kate's necklace.
We motored down to the City museum, passing a few others on our way. (I finally got clipped in somewhere in there!)
UP the stairs to the roof! In hind sight, we should have taken the elevator.

Ok, here's where the day falls apart.... We reach the top and climb up the stairs to the slide. I notice a guy spraying the slide with a can of Pam. Oh, that's gonna be slick. Without hesitation, I go down. Kate is following. I turn a little and reach the bottom, noticing Kate is quickly approaching. I tried to jump up to get out of her way and somehow pop my knee out of socket!
Pain! Kate pulls me up and it pops back in but I've clearly done something wrong!

I pause for minute but don't want to stop. Kate and a volunteer show me some stretches (later I learn that one of them likely made it worse!) Back down the stairs and on with the show, err, race... um... ride....
We manage to get to 5 more stops, with some detours and hi jinks and a little more pain and trouble walking on my part. We finish 16th in the women's category, not too bad.
Kate has the post race/ride beer and I have some ibuprofen (Thanks Dessa) and Ice (thanks Suzanne!)
I did win a Road Id Gift certificate for my participation in a dance contest (something about that statement reminds me of the board game "Life" that I used to play as a kid)
Sunday night comes and I hang with Phil until we fall in bed, "exhausted, close our eyelids."

8.21.10 Individual State Championships
Phil sits this one out. I get my butt up at the crack of dawn and head to the track.
Smaller crowd this week. I start first in the 200 M. Not sure what my result was but I think slower than last week! It amazes me each time because I FEEL sooo FAST!

Match Sprints: Since it was just me, Emilie and Kate, we did a round robin elimination. Kate got the "luck" of the draw and was started in the sprinter's lane. I was in the middle, which I liked because I felt I could move to a defensive position. Emilie was on the outside. We started, went around 1, 2 laps then the bell and Emilie launched herself! Kate and I chased. We finished with Emilie 1st, Me 2nd and Kate 3rd. At round two, we basically repeated the same thing but on the last lap I started to worry about getting boxed in. Emilie didn't jump as early and I preemptively moved up the track to get out from behind Kate. It was a good move, but initially gave me a little gap from Emilie's wheel. She attacked as I got back to her and I was able to hold on. We pass Kate on the back side and I actually finish about 1/2 bike length down from Emilie!! Woo Hoo!
Round three was for Silver and Gold~ Just me against Emilie. Emilie clearly had her eyes on that State Champ Jersey and dominated in what I would describe as a beautiful race. She played it so well, running me up the track a bit and putting herself 1/2 wheel behind me so I was not able to see her attack for a few beats. With a little over one to go, she drove down into the sprinter's lane and off she went. I was 3 bike lengths away before I even know what hit me. She made some more ground on me before securing her second State Jersey at the Track.
I was proud just to have raced with her!

Our second event was the 3K pursuits. Cristel, Soli and Molly had joined in for the fun. Since we had 5 ladies, Molly got paired with Jeff Kloha, so head could race before having to leave for some family business. Poor Molly. We tried to convince her that chasing Jeff would make her go faster. Well, Jeff's just really darn fast! I think he lapped Molly twice.
Kate and I were paired up but not really equal. As with the 200 M and 500 M, this is just another TT and I am not a TT'er! Kate caught and passed me about 1/2 way through. I tried to speed up a bit. Tom was calling my times to me but I couldn't hear him. Oh well. Another last place. I am starting to get comfy here.
I really felt that race in my sore knee. Fortunately, I got some Kinesio Taping on Friday and that helped hold things in place. I sat with some ice and good company under the Off the Front Team tent and waited for our next race.

And waited, and waited, and waited....

During that time, the men's match sprint heats were going on, then the men's 4k pursuits. During that time, Scott O (Dogfish) befriended a dog which had been abandoned, tied to the track fence between turn 1 and 2. He helped her realize we weren't going to hurt her and dubbed her "Penny, The Penrose Wonderdog."
By the way, you can donate to Penny's vet bills and help find her a home: here

After what felt like forever, the women's 500 m races were starting. Around that time, I determined that I really didn't want to do the 500 m and didn't want to hang out for hours more to do the point's race. Plus, I had to get to Carrie's surprise party by 7pm. Fortunately Joe and PJ gave me a refund for the two races I was missing and I took off. Overall, Hot, tired but pleased with my day.

Next up.... Track Team Pursuits & GWC!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rough Tuesday, Rough Year.

I used to think I was ok at this whole bike racing thing. Not great, but not terrible either.
I'm starting to question that now.

Two crashes within 4 weeks. One predominatly on the left side with lots of skin lost, the other predominately on the right with a head injury/broken helmet. At least I am covering the bases.
Both were in or near corners.

The first I blogged about already. The second happened at the TNW's on 7/20. I was two laps in.

I've learned that if I place blame on my bike for my poor handling, I might wind up in someone's blog (wink).
I did feel funny on the carbones on the ride over, but shook it off. I felt good starting the race. I felt good on the first lap. On the descent on lap two, into turn 2, I decided to close the gap between me and the guy in front of me. He scrubbed some speed and I did too. He started to accelerate away from me before the turn, so I opened up the brake and suddenly gained speed faster than I wanted. I move to the right to avoid running up the back of him, taking the turn wide.....

Too wide.

I couldn't bring those stiff wheels around as quick as I wanted. No, make that needed.
The road narrows a bit after that turn.
I watched as I was parallel with then at and into the curb.

I heard that sparks flew.

I landed in the grass, which is good, but took the brunt of the force with my hand, head and neck.

Helmet was cracked (Goodbye Catlike!) head scratched and bumps forming. I stood, dazed a bit.
Jeff Kloha was there, Devin Clark, who else? (I can't remember now).

My hand really hurt. I kept moving it, thinking how hard it would be to type (what I do at work ALL day), if it were broken!

Jeff took my bike and I made my way to Larry Pirtle do answer questions for the incident report. I was really nervous about getting all the answers right (name, DOB, address, license number, etc). I think I passed.

One day later...

My hand is swollen to the point that I am missing a few knuckles, I have little strength, but the pain is decreasing.
Scrapes on knee hurt when I cross my legs. I can live with that!
Bike to the Hub: Chain is ground down (that made the sparks!), Pedal is too. Some scratches on the frame and rims... I leave it in capable hands for the full battery of tests.

Two days later.....

My neck is so sore that I am turning with my whole body to look a different direction.
My clavical and scapula are really sore.
I am really really depressed. I cried on the way to work today. I could not tell you why.
I might cry right now.

I need and want to get back on the bike but my confidence is severely shaken.
I am questioning even basic abilities to go fast, in a circle.

Hopefully time will heal all wounds.

Monday, June 28, 2010

First Criterium Crash!

photo credit: Eville Mike

I have loved the Webster Groves Crit each of the three years I have raced it. My first year was with Team Revolution and it was my Dad's first opportunity to see me race.
Last year, Alice, Kate and I podiumed for the Women's Cat 4, in one of our first races with the 1,2,3 women.
Year three was sure to be a hot one.
Alice and I worked registration (With Phil, Chris Saxton, Anna Berger) until the Kids race.
We helped run a smooth and quick kids race and even helped get the racing back on schedule for the day.

Quick changes into kits, wheels into the pit and a spin around the neighborhood were up next. Suzanne, Kate and I warmed up together for a bit. I stopped for a quick "nature break" and picked up some ice, which Taylor helped me fashion into a baggie in the sports bra for fabulous cooling!

At 2:35pm I lined up with 18 or so of the best local racers around. Our Cat 1,2,3 field was combined with the cat 4s, including some strong new and not so new ladies. Our race was hot from the start, literally and figuratively! Chris gave a little attack right away to get the heart rates pumping.

It was clear early on that everyone was fatigued from the heat and a little twitchy. There were lots of bumping and comments flying around. There were lots of bumps and potholes before turn 1 and everyone seemed to slow down through turn 2, only to give chase halfway up the climb and slow a bit again for turn 3. Turn 4 seemed good to get into at speed, but not everyone felt that way, which made for more bunching and chasing. After a couple of laps, I was between turn 3 and 4 on the hill, reaching for my bottle while still gaining momentum into Jamie, who was easing up, and unfortunately over my way. I had time to put my bottle in my teeth and reach for my brake but that prevented anything other than a muffled exclamation to Jamie! We touched wheels but separated without incident (I saw something go flying off the road and thought I'd broken the cap on her mavic skewer in half... but later learned that wasn't it).

Suzanne and I bumped once and I think I bumped Jamie again. Allison even commented that I was making her nervous on a bumpy section. I was feeling the heat for sure but gained some energy back thanks to a cool bottle of water doused on me by Jessi!

I survived a prime lap, after Britta seemed to jump for it immediately after the bell!. After heading back into turn one, I quickly realized something was wrong.
To my knowledge, I was too far on the inside headed into the turn at good speed. Jamie was on my left and when I started to exit the turn, I came out too wide and bumped into her. Unfortunately I didn't hit her hand, shoulder, arm or hip- one of the many areas that can be bumped and both parties stay upright. Fortunately for her, I didn't take her down with me.
That part happened fast! I was on the ground with a LOUD crash! A few people swerved around me and Kube narrowly missed my head. Unfortunately, Emilie was a casualty too. We jumped up. I appologized. She said "It happens." and we headed to the pit. I immediately noticed my brake hoods were pushed in and both wheels were stuck. I carried it to the start/finish and Ron met me when I was almost there. He took one look at me, took my bike and sent me to the medics.

The sum total of my injuries were a couple of mild elbow scrapes, a small scrape on my wrist, another on my leg. My shoulder is sore. The doozey of the injuries is where my thigh meets my butt. I noticed this hurting as Donna Thackery and Analyn Howells, our awesome medics tended to me. I had a small hole in my shorts in the back and some great scrapes from the road. After Phil bought my skirt and I changed, it was clear that I had literally fallen on my ASS!

The bike is ok, save for a slightly bent spoke and some of the saddle has been torn off. There are scrapes on my shifters but Im not sure what's new and what's old. My shoe is scraped a bit and the jersey has a hole in the back from a pin getting sheared off. The helmet did not make any contact with the ground.

Warning: Pictures May be Graphic!!

The first post-crash shower was the most horrendous thing I have ever experienced. I knew I was in trouble when the first drops hit my small injuries on my elbow and sent me screaming. Poor Phil hung out nearby, trying to soothe me as I yelled, whimpered and cried. He helped me dry off and appy a Tagaderm patch. I don't know what I would have done without him!
He even gave me a pair of his boxer briefs to wear, since my own underwear just wouldn't cover and protect what I needed it to!

(That's not a pimple, its a piece of tagaderm stuck to me)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Midtown Alley Grand Prix & Tour de Grove

Photo credit: Elizabeth Rangel

Midtown Alley Grand Prix Women's 3/4 race started at 11:45 am on Saturday. This seems to be a bad time of day, in the heat of summer, to start a bike race! I was sufficiently warm before my warm up. Thank God for the CycleOps Power Tent! I didn't have to worry about lugging my trainer to the race! After about 45 minutes of warm up, a couple minutes of Kanye to get us motivated (courtesy of the Verizon wireless booth!)

14 ladies, including myself, lined up. Some of the strong regional racers were here, including Vanessa McKenzie, and Emilie Duchow. Teresa and Allison rounded out a group of really strong Cat 3s. Since this was a 3/4 race, on a flat, traditional four corner crit course, I thought I could hold my own, even do well. The Hub ladies (Alice, Kate, Ashley and myself) even had a pre-race meeting to talk strategy.
The race started fast but I felt good about my position and my teammates. A few times during the race, "The Hedge" was in effect, with all four of us at the front. Teresa later commented that she wasn't sure how she was going to get around us.
There were a couple of attacks but we chased well. It seemed everyone took a turn pulling, chasing, etc.

The heat was starting to wear on me (heat index of over 103). As the prime bell was rung, the pace picked up into Turn 1. Someone attacked and before Turn 2, I watched a gap form. I had a clear thought that if I didn't go, that would be it for me. Despite that, my legs told my head, "oh, just a little break! please!" and my head allowed it. Suddenly, I was off the back.

On that same lap, Vanessa ended up breaking some spokes. Fortunately, she didn't crash herself or anyone else. As I caught up to her, she was pulling off to the left but continued around the course. I yelled to her to cut the course to get to the pit ASAP. Since we were outside of 5 to go, I thought she'd get a free lap for sure.

I found another racer on my wheel and we worked together but she was more fatigued than I was. I'd pull about 3/4 and she'd give me a breather. We gained on the field but never gave it the full gas needed to get back on. With 2 laps to go, Vanessa came up behind us. I thought she had broken away from the field (after her free lap) and was lapping us. I told her that we couldn't work for her (since she was lapping us) but we could sit on her wheel. As we rounded the course into the start/finish stretch, I realized that if she was lapping us, This would be our finishing lap. I pulled up even with Vanessa, careful not to get in front of her (clear enough that the officials wouldn't relegate us) and finished my race strong, only to realize we had one more lap to go!
Vanessa hadn't lapped us at all. She chased back to us after getting a wheel but with only 3 to go, she didn't get a free lap. UGH!. I was done. My legs screamed for mercy and I sat up, taking 12th out of 14. To make matters a little worse, I was scored in 13th, with the rider ahead of me really a lap down from me. Double Ugh.
I was able to protest and the results were corrected (but the wrong ones have been posted to USA cycling... hopefully they'll be corrected soon).

I was demoralized (again) for my poor performance and stupid mistake, but really proud of my teammates - All three finished TOP 10!! and got CASH!

Tour de Grove
Our race was scheduled to begin at 9:35am. I arrived at 8am to free Valet parking (Sweet!)
I started to warm up and since the races were delayed by almost 1 hour, I was able to warm up under the awesome CycleOps tent AND ride a lap around the course, all before the first race even started! My warm up ended up being pretty leisurely and long. Suzanne's children and Christy (Podium girl!) kept us entertained!

With 10 minutes til our start, I sought out a good place at the barriers (in the shade!) to ensure I could get a good start position. With only 16 in our field, it wasn't as crucial, but it's all good practice.
The Hub "Hedge" lined up on the front. Soli Johannes joined the team for today's race! She's a bad-ass track racer. With 5 racers, we were clearly the dominant team (Big Shark was Second with 3- Suzanne, Teresa and Courtney). From the start, Vanessa and Emilie were putting on the hurt. Vanessa launched the first of many attacks after the second turn of this 12 turn course. I positioned myself well and focused on staying within the top 1/4-1/2 of the field. I think I did a pretty good job b/c I saw the same handful of people throughout the race. I fell back on a couple of attacks but made sure to give it 110% until I was securely back on. A couple of times, I noticed my legs suggesting to my mind that I might slow down, but I did NOT give in!

The pattern for this race was attacks. There seemed to be several on each lap. The three mile course allowed for plenty of time to attack, recover, counter attack and attack again. I was surpised that the only place that an attack did not occur was the one place I thought one was sure to- The beautifully blacktopped stretch of Clayton on the back side of the course. Emilie and Vanessa seemed to be taking turns attacking on the little climb on Vandeventer. Emilie's shifting was audible enough to be her "Tell". Courtney wins the work horse award for the day - pulling, covering attacks in one of her first crits! The sneakiest attack was on the last lap. Vanessa or Gina attacked and then quickly sat up, causing us all to continue to propell into them with momentum. As most of us slowed, Tara Flaig kept going. She rocketed past us and a true chase ensued. She could not hold us off through the next turn and but allowed some good shake up of the top positions.

As I realized with elation that I finally stayed on for a WHOLE race, I also realized that I was already 8 or 9 wheels back going into the final two turns - too much to make up ground. Ashley passed me in the sprint and Alice nearly got me at the line. I ended up in 10th - the last money spot! Most importantly, I feel like I got my groove back (in the Grove, how apropos!).

As an aside, the funniest moment of the race was about 2 or 3 laps to go, when Suzanne J asked us to keep an eye out for her dropped waterbottle, while we were racing. She's lost several and was really concerned about it - enough to take her focus off of the race for a moment!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tulsa Tough 2010

I wanted to go to a race in the New Orleans.I imagined that's where they'd have a race called "The Big Easy." Instead, I participated in Tulsa Tough 2010.

My racing continues to be mediocre at best, so I won't go into details about the race. I won't pick apart every missed moment and failed attempt. I stunk it up pretty good in the mid 90 degree heat on Saturday and again on Sunday on "Cry baby Hill."

Despite my lack of racing ability at this time, Tulsa Tough was excellent! The courses were fun and challenging. The fields were HUGE. The crowds were even bigger and full of excitement even during our women's III/IV races.

We arrived Friday night just in time to watch the Cat III men's race, featuring Hubbers - Chris, Drew and Dave! Chris finished in the money! Next up was the Pro, I,II Women. What an awesome race! Carrie took the first prime!

Our accommodations (The Doubletree) were excellent, humongously welcoming of the crowd of cyclists and centrally located among all three race courses! They even let us ride right into the lobby on Saturday.

Tulsa Tough does it right! There were huge jumbo trons all over the place with cameras to capture nearly every piece of the race. On Saturday, at one point when I was off the back (go figure!) I could see the breakaway group's finishing sprint on the screen on the back side of the course. Very cool! Despite being far from home, I had some awesome cheerleaders on the course. I could hear Carrie, Jessi, Courtney and Justin cheering for me on each lap. Justin even tossed a wave of cool water on me toward the end! (THANK YOU!)

My teammate Alice did well on Saturday. My teammate from another team, Suzanne (Big Shark) did well too. She took a $50 prime on Saturday in the chase group. The three of us successful avoided two crashes.
Jamie (Momentum), Teresa (Big Shark) and Allison (Momentum) weren't as lucky on Saturday - crashing both times. The second of which caused Jamie to DNF. Overall, they were ok but I'm convinced Allison's bike is cursed (2 crashes in 2008 right after she got it. Cracked from after Belleville, crashed again in Tulsa and then after the race some guy just fell over into her bike!) Fortunately, I hear she has her eye on a Project One!

Sunday's course wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. Crybaby hill is short but steep, reaching 16% before a right hand turn and a little more climbing. The crowd there was awesome and I hear they got even more outrageous as the day went on!
The descent was a little scary, sharp, off camber turn. My legs and heart just weren't in it, so I didn't have to worry about being in a crowd as I descending.
Unfortunately, judging from the Cat 5 race, I knew it was just a matter of time before I was pulled. They were pulling anyone who was not in contact with the field.
In the end, only Jamie was not pulled. She won the QOM and took 5th!

I was sad to leave after our race. Although I was disappointed with my standings, I was having a great time and wanted to watch Carrie and Team VBF tear it up on this challenging course. Their race was not until afternoon and the 6.5 hour drive was beckoning. We showered up, loaded up, grabbed some lunch and headed home.

Tulsa, I am tougher having experienced you!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Paying my dues

O'Fallon Crit, May 22

What do they say about doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results?
Jamie has assured me, time and time again, that this year is about paying my dues.
I don't know why I get my hopes up, going into each race, thinking I have a chance, only to get dropped at the 2nd, 3rd or 4th prime lap.

This race was no different. Except for two great momemnts! THe first was when I pulled through after about 5-6 minutes to take my pull. As I came to the front, Chris commented that this would likely be a prime lap. I was cool with that. As I motored up the climb at the start/finish, I heard Aaro make a comment about me trying to make a break. What?
I looked back and had several bike lengths separating me and the field.

I was OFF THE FRONT!! It only lasted for a minute. I eased up at the top of the climb and the swallowed me back. It wouldn't have done any good for me to attack. I know I can't stay out for long and it was WAY too early in the race. Plus, the primes were only for the field, so I couldn't even jump with the hopes that I could stay away for the prime. Oh well.

The second moment was after I had been dropped. Although watching myself get dropped was kind of cool too, because I got to watch Chris take off in her sprint for the QOM prime. She's so fast.

So I wasn't surprised when she lapped me after about 25-30 minutes of racing! But I was surpised when I jumped on her wheel and was able to stay there for nearly a whole lap. This wasn't just any lap! She was tearing it up. We were going 30 mph on the back of the course! Woo Hoo!

But I couldn't hang on. Soon the heat was settling in on my head and back. The moments where the breeze ceased were increasing. I actually unzipped my jersey (A first for me!) The little hill felt harder and harder.

After I got lapped a second time by Chris and once by the rest of the field (This all happened on the same lap. She almost lapped Amy and Jamie in the chase group!) I actually sat up and attempted to get lapped again to prevent from having to do another lap in the race. After 20 + laps, one wasn't really going to make that much difference either way.

I took 9 out of 10. Again. DFL again if you count finishers only.

I'm going to start trying something different! It all begins June 2. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learning to.... Fly? at Tour of St Louis

First up was the Carondolet Circuit race on Saturday 4/24 at 8:40 am.
I got my tired legs out of bed on time and thanks to my life Sherpa Phil, I got the car packed up in record time. Thanks to my sleepy head, I forgot my Garmin. Doh!

The women's open race started second, after the women's cat 4/Juniors. I got a chance to warm up around the park and tried to shake the cob webs out of my head and legs. I chatted with Amy, Teresa and met Cindy Reese before the race. I even got a chance to watch the Cat 4 finish. Suzanne, Cat and Kate are all doing really well this year!!

At the line for our race, Buddy informed us that the race would be shortened to 40 minutes plus 3. He also announced there would be 3 primes, including one for the first person to cross the finish line on Lap 1! Great! I was sure the first lap would be a "hot" one. Fortunately, it came down to a sprint up the hill to the finish. I think Emily D took that one. That girl has a fierce sprint! It was weird to see Chris have to work so hard.

More circles around the park had me hanging on for dear life at times. I tried to stay mid pack. Did my best to work a little. The primes tore me apart, but I managed to bridge back on after one. Then there were some fake attacks from Chris, to wear us out and confuse us for Molly's attack. It was beautiful and painful all at the same time. In a moment, I felt that glorious feeling of letting up "just a bit" which was just enough for me to hopelessly fall off. With 5 laps left in the race, I soloed it in. Ugh.

Some of the guys warming up on the course were nice and encouraging. Others, not so much... Guy with sarcastic tone:"Are you racing?" Me: "Uh, yeah, at least that's what I was supposed to be doing!" I tried to use one guy warming up as a carrot to pick up my pace. With 1 to go, I was almost exactly 1/2 a lap down. I looked up the hill to see Alice's finish and thought, "Thank God, I am almost done!".
As I cruised up the hill to the finish line, I passed Molly walking! She'd flatted on the last lap! All I could think was, "WOW, I am NOT DFL!!" (thanks Molly)

I headed home soon after to rest for the TT in the afternoon....

Phil was presented with his new TT helmet on Friday and decided to give it a whirl. Little did we know that it would literally get a "whirl!"
It was drizzling as we loaded up the car and I kept checking radar as we drove to Riverview for the Columbia Big Bottom Time Trial. There seemed to be a little window with no rain headed our way, but I grew more apprehensive as the rain picked up.
When we arrived at Columbia Bottoms Road there was a lot of wind but just a little rain. Reluctantly, Phil and I registered and then hurried to get suited up and warm up.
All reports from those who finished before us indicated there was a cross wind at the beginning, head wind until the turn around and a sweet tailwind on the way back.
As we were lining up, Chris offered her TT helmet up for my use. I've never even had a TT helmet on my head but I thought it wouldn't hurt. With the TT helmet and Mavic Carbones I was pretty aero!
Phil started :30 before me and was gone in a flash! Buddy made some chit-chat and I was off. I struggled to get into my pedal and had an awkward start but settled in to tackle the crosswind and head wind.
On the way out, I tried to keep my speed around 18-20 but in the headwind struggled not to dip to 12 MPH!! What a buzz kill! I managed to hold off the guy behind me until just before the turn around! He was on a TT bike!! Woo Hoo. Thank goodness for small accomplishments!
Just before the turn around, there was a little tailwind section. I quickly accelerated to low 20s and grew excited to be headed back. On the return, my speed reached 28-29 mph and my heart rate dropped to a less than pounding range. I actually felt like I was running out of gear! Unfortunately, I could see lightening in the quickly approaching distance. Black clouds were making their way toward the start/finish area.
An intense crosswind arrived sooner that I would have liked and the last 1.5 miles I needed to focus on just staying upright. I was leaning hard to the left and watched my high 20s speed plummet to 17 mph in a second. I kept trying to point that TT helmet to the left, into the crosswind, hoping it would help.
As I approached the line, I could hear the cheering from my friends and Phil. Steph M was standing at about 200 meters with an umbrella that the wind had pasted to her body. I was concerned for her! I crossed the line at 26:06, one minute less than my goal :( but SOO GLAD to be done. I took about 200 meters to cool down and made a mad dash to the car to load up and get out of there!
There was a little traffic jam of cars doing the same. I could see the rain moving in a massive sheet across the field and straight for us. People were scrambling to pull down the tents and secure themselves. The hail started before we left the park.

*photo credit to billh/ hub racer extraordinaire!

I later learned from Suzanne that Alice and 4 others were out on the course. Fortunately, Suzanne, Steph and Mike rescued them and their bikes. Alice even kept going once the hail started. She was only about 1-2 miles from the finish!

Phil and I followed Kate down Riverview to Broadway, through "mini-lakes" in the road, into the city and out of the storm. Before we reached hwy 70, the sun was out and blue skies replaced those devilish looking clouds. As we drove home, we heard weather reports of a tornado touching down in Des Peres and that same cell had made its way to Alton (Right over Riverview/Columbia Bottom Road!)

Nicole appropriately termed this race the Tornadic Time Trial!

Sunday morning was the Delmar Crit. Historically, I have enjoyed this flat, square course. This year I learned that High profile rims and wind don't mix!

Alice found a great carport at a business parking lot on the course for a dry warm up area. The races got started late and at around 9am, 9 of us lined up for the Women's Open (Chris, Molly from Mesa; Jamie, Allison from Momentum; Emily from Dogfish, Cindy Reece, Aubree Dock, Alice and myself). Of course, the Mesa ladies were to be watched.

I stayed on for several laps, surges and attacks; however, as we raced, the wind picked up. On one lap, just after start/finish and before turn 1, I caught a swift kick in the side in the form of cross wind to my back wheel. I felt the wheel wash out and I'm still amazed I didn't go down. I swerved and was thankful to be at the back. I was spooked and sat up.
I tried to chase back and caught up to Allison and Alice, only to realize Allison was slowing to head to the wheel pit with a flat. Alice surged and it took me another 1-2 laps to get to her and we "worked" together - just focusing on not getting lapped.
The flat must've done Allison some good because she soon attacked, taking Molly and Emily with her. Alice and I tried to keep them away from us, but we weren't as quick and confident in the corners. Aero and the spectators were kind and cheering as we came around start/finish although we were hopelessly behind.
Unfortunately for us, the break caught us on the next lap. Not far behind was the chase group of four. We jumped in with them and it was soon evident there were some team tactics going on.

Alice and I were ready to work for this group; however, we were unsure if that would be allowed. As we crossed the line with 3 to go, Chris yelled to Buddy inquiring if Alice and I could work for the group. As we passed, Aero announced for "Hub ladies to stay in the back" so we did as we were told. (We later learned from Larry that we could've worked for the chase group; just not the break... Good to know). Nicole and Kate heard Chris yelling to Stacie to have Molly "Drop one person" from the break and they thought Chris was yelling about needing to drop us!

Fortunately, by mixing back in with the chase group, we were able to practice sprinting at the finish. I came in at 8th out of 9.

So far, this season of racing has been such a learning experience for me. I have been challenged and humbled by those I am racing with. I hope to be able to hang with the pack and finish strong. I will continue to race with a balance of pride and humility and I am sure I will continue to learn great things from this incredible group of ladies.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Starting to Suck Less

The above photo is proof I was in it. (look closely...behind Teresa!)

Judging from the pained look on my face, I was really IN IT.

By IT, I mean the B race at the Tuesday Night Worlds.

By IN, I mean I stayed IN. In the field. The whole time. (Well, I did jump out one lap to get a drink- I still can't drink and race with these folks- and cough up some pollen) I fell off at the SECOND 2 to go lap (oops, it's a practice race for the officials too!)

Two Prime laps and I was still in there!

Later, I asked Phil if it was slow. Phil, who took 5th, graciously double checked his stats or the night and reported back to me that the average was like 24-25 mph! NOT SLOW.....

Woo Hoo for me!!

Here's hoping my molasses streak is truly over.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hermann 2010

I only did the TT....

Not sure why, 'cause TT's are not my best feature. I guess it was the least of three evils.

I placed 10th, out of 10 in the women's open. Judging from my time (33:29 for the 11 and change mile course), I would have been 10th out of 20 in the 3/4.

Solidly 10th.

I very much enjoyed watching my com-padres tear it up in the women's 3/4 Crit and very much enjoyed fried cheese balls with Johnson-Klucker after.

Phil ROCKED the TT.

28 minutes even steven.
15th out of 32 or 34 in the Men's 4. If he would have stayed in the Women's Open, where I registered him, he would have won!

Hub ladies cleaned up! Kate was 3rd in the TT, Ashley took 4th in the Crit, 2nd in the Road Race. Alice took 5th in the RR.
Kate and I were 2nd and 3rd in the Hub Roubaix :) Phil won, of course!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's hard to blog about a bad race but I think it's just as important for the process. It's just as hard to take what positives and learning experiences I can and put the rest behind me.

I know bad races happen to everyone. I know they strike for many reasons, and can occur despite your best efforts. I know they do not characterize me as a racer, or more importantly, a person.
Still, it's hard to scrape myself up off the ground, especially when my last race had me literally on the ground.

No, I didn't crash....

I bonked - Lance Armstrong style. Foaming at the mouth with salt, legs cramping with every more style bonking.

It all started on a beautiful Saturday in April....

We gathered at my house, loaded up three vehicles with six people - my Hub teammates (Kate, Alice, Ashley, Katie) and Suzanne, our teammate from another team! Our Caravan was off at 7:40ish. The drive to Hillsboro was without incident. No missed exits or mishaps.
We parked, registered, picked up timing chips, changed, ate, drank water...wait, YES, I actually did both of these things. The Cat 4 women went to warm up, while Alice and I hung around. Our start was 1 1/2 hours later, the LAST race of the day. Ugh!
The pre-race jitters were there and then moved off. We rode around, climbing hills to get heart rates pumping, circling with "the Sharks" - (Teresa and Amy from Big SHark!)Alice commented that I seemed defeated before we even started. I just felt tired.
We grabbed a coke and shared it. That energized me a bit. When it was time to line up, we were near the back. I knew I wanted to be up a little bit but not too far. Chris prompted me to get into my Big chain ring. Sarah re pinned by center line number and confirmed that my beloved Catlike helmet is no longer race legal.
The next thing I know, Todd is calling Alice and I up to the line for being Hub racers (Sponsor team!) Woo Hoo!, I think. Yikes, there are some pro racers in this field.

After some instructions and a few jokes from Todd, we were off. I didn't stay on the front long, but managed to stay near the front. We passed the women's Cat 4 race as they were finishing up the hill. After the neutral section and first turn, I even pulled a little, down the hill and into the first climb. Chris came to the front with me and then instructed me to seek some shelter on the inside.
I did as instructed and tried to relax. The other racers continued to move around me but I stayed in the upper 1/3. We were really flowing like water. The field was so big, it was hard to see the road ahead. Little turns yielded some gravel on the sides. I slid back a bit. Jamie and Suzanne W came around me. I tried to stay on Jamie's wheel but found myself on Suzanne's. She moved left and right a bunch and without really focusing, I was easily overlapping her wheel.

9 miles down, 49 to go. We reached "Ruth's hill", I fell further back, but stayed on enough to catch right at the top of the hill. Amy was on the back too. A few others had dropped off. I couldn't see Alice.
I tried to get back in but the surges were starting to wear on me. It was strange to climb a hill and see the attack at the front, but have to wait for the wave of riders in between to respond.

The next thing I know there is "Danger! XXX" written on the road. The smell of brakes filled the air. As soon as I reached the turn at the bottom of the hill
there was an attack. I couldn't stick with it.

I was dropped. 10 miles in.

I fought to get back on. Another girl bridged to me from who knows where and we tried, in vain, to work together to get back. No dice
I dropped off and she continued her fight.

Several miles go by. Solo riding, trying to keep my speed up but watching it dip from 20's to high teens to 17mph. NO shelter from the wind. No one to hide the fact that we are climbing a hill.

Then Alice and Margie (McDonalds, from Louisville) catch up to me. I soft pedal to let it happen sooner and start to rotate in with them. It's clear Margie's out to catch some carrots. She soon sees Joan in front of us (another from Louisville) and we work to catch her.

We rotate through and work well together. Since none of us have ever done the feed zone thing, we spread out and try our luck. I see the familiar face of Natalie Carroll and toss her my water bottle to clear the way for the one I hope to pick up. She catches it like a pro. (I was hoping she'd give it to my teammates up the hill, but instead she threw it in a big box with other bottles and it was left in Hillsboro! Since i had my name on the bottom (!) it made its way back to me last week :)
A few seconds later, I see our awesome Team Rev support and easily snag a bottle from Kate. My guess is that it's much easier to navigate a feed zone with four people than with 40!
As we climb the second hill, I am feeling strong. We hit the cobbles and I am second wheel. I pull through to the front at the Start/Finish and we begin lap two.
As we descend the feed zone hill, I notice a twinge of cramp in my right calf. I ignore it and it moves to the left. I change my pedal stroke a bit, grab a drink and get some food. I share some pieces of my powerbar smoothie with Alice and Margie. We roll down the road. Several men's groups pass us.

Halfway through the second lap, I noticed that I am starting to fade. My pulls are shorter and less frequent. My head starts to feel full in my helmet. With about 10 miles to go, I get dropped. I catch back on but can't move up to take a turn pulling. I am starting to limp. The cramping increases, but I try to shake it off. My cadence slows. My heart rate increases. My speed takes a sharp dip.

We passed a guy who looks worse off than me. I am only going about 14 mph and seem to fly past him. I start to notice the volunteers are packing up. Hmm... Alice, Margie and Joan are getting smaller and smaller in the distance.

My whole body starts to ache. Cramps move up both legs into my hamstrings and quads. I pray for tailwind but even with it, my speed is slow and pedalling is labored. I realize this is a BONK and focus on just making it to the finish.
I see the last climb with a mix of joy and pain. I have to climb it to finish.
The guy behind me passes me. He takes a long look at me as he passes, swerving into the other lane. I can't figure out what he's staring at. I must've looked pretty bad. He keeps looking back as he climbs, as if he is considering coming back for me. Soon, he's gone and it's just me and the hill.

I reach the second part of the climb and realize they are picking up the cones and opening the course. Fortunately, when I reach the cones, they stop picking them up and let me pass. My vision starts to get fuzzy and I see spots. I reach the top of the climb and realize the police officer stopping traffic at the turn is walking away. There's a car up! I signal and make the turn. Down the hill, I get a little break from pedalling but the pain doesn't stop. I start to cry, but quickly realize it makes things worse. I force myself to stop crying as I reach the cobbles. Fortunately the traffic there waits for me. A guy in car at the corner also waits for me to make the turn. More tunnel vision.
I turn down the finish. The last thing I remember seeing is the 200 meter sign. I cross the line and ride right over to the Team Rev ladies cheering me on. I stop and try to put my left foot down but my leg doesn't want to have any of it. Pain and exhaustion are all I can feel. The spots have turned into fuzzy black and white stars.
I fall left, fortunately into Larry Pirtle. He realizes I am going down and catches me, making me stand. My friends help me unclip my right foot and help me over to the grass where I can sit down. Kube gives me some food and some Gatorade. I am covered in goosebumps and can't breath. Kate tries to put pants on me, both legs at once! After a few minutes, my head starts to clear. My legs feel tired but aren't twisted into knots.

Suzanne graciously offered to drive my car back to St Louis. It'd been a while since she last drove a manual. I was just grateful for her company and support. We headed directly to Llewellyn's for some much needed food. After a Coke and a burger, I was feeling more normal. I even considered trying to do the Tilles Crit, but was shot down by my friends/teammates.
I guess a Sunday of rest and spectating isn't too bad either.

My longest, hardest race ever also became my worst. Despite the painful, frustrating finish, I can glean some positives. The most obvious is the incredible support of my friends. From cheering, to feed zone support, to literally holding me up at the finish. They are the best! Also, I was able to hang on to the wheels of some fierce and strong women, including some Pros, for about 10 miles. Hopefully my endurance will get stronger and I'll be able to hang on longer.
I also learned that I can push myself beyond what I perceive are my limits. I did not give up. I finished the race. And I will line up at the start again soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

hamakir et mikomo

Literal translation: "Know your place."

Everyone has something unique to contribute to the world. The challenge is to figure out who you are, then how you fit into the grand scheme of things.
The beauty of it is that you do fit. The challenge of it is that most of us think we are square pegs and try to force ourselves into round holes, or more often, trying to force the round holes to be square. It takes true wisdom to know yourself, and thus, your place.

Arrogance is a barrier to growth. The arrogant carry a smug sends of satisfaction. They stop seeking and assume they know. They assert themselves without stopping to recognize how much they have yet to learn and how much opportunity is around them.
Once you realize how truly little you know, you appreciate what wisdom you do have and guard it as a valued possession. Stop taking for granted and push yourself always for a little bit more.

Your place is not in isolation. It is not you vs the world. Your place only exits in relation to others. When you allow it to, the wisdom from you will flow to those around you and from them to you. When you relax in this, you can grow by allowing other's wisdoms to flow around you, into you, like water. This knowledge also requires you to be humble. When the moment calls for it, you take the lead. You must also recognize when another is more suited and step back as to not impede the flow.

Silence can be golden. It is harder to know when not to speak than when to speak. You can share more of yourself by sometimes saying nothing at all.

Knowing your place may mean stopping to ask yourself, is it time to step up, or step back and the wisdom in both actions.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Forest Park Crit 3/28/10

A rainy, windy day made for a nice first crit as a Cat 3. I had to keep reminding those who didn't remember I catted up, that I was really supposed to be in the Open, not the Cat 4 race. I would have liked to have been in the 4s race, but there's a time for everyone to move and mine had come. Unfortunately, it brings the suffering with it.

I watched the 4's race as I warmed up under Cory's tent with Allison. Jamie, Teresa, Chris and Carrie were nearby under Carrie's tent and Alice took to the road to warm up. Our vantage point allowed us to watch Kate's awesome win, with Suzanne in a close second (Suzanne also got the prime!)

After the 4/5 race, it was my time to role to the line. The rain and wind seemed to pick up a little more but I was warm and still dry at that point. From Go, Carrie took off! We jumped and caught up with her between turn 1 and 2, only for Teresa to notice, aloud, that Jamie's rear skewer was wide open. Since it would not have been a free lap for her (not a qualifying mechanical issue), we all agreed to wait for her as she fixed it. This made for a nice slow pace for 1/4 of the lap, but once she was back, racing was underway again.
Carrie jumped again and was off like a rocket. Chris came from the back and caught Carrie with all of us chasing. Jamie nearly completed the bridge as we turned onto the back side of the course, into the headwind. We all caught back up to Jamie but Carrie and Chris were solidly away.

We fell into a decent pace but 15 minutes in a prime was called. I pulled up the little hill into turn 4 and had no gas to go when they sprinted. Jamie took the prime and I watched as the four of them rode away from me quickly. I put my head down and hammered. It took me 1 1/2 laps to catch them and I was really worn out. Fortunately no one countered for a while and I was able to rest a bit. Jamie and Teresa made an attempt to jump but didn't get away.

A crowd prime was called at about 36 minutes. As we were coming around turn 3, Carrie and Chris caught us. The pace increased again but I stayed on. I tried to go with the sprint but didn't have what I needed and Teresa and Jamie took the 1,2 prime(s). I was off the back just a little again. I fought to get back on and eventually did about 1/2 a lap later. I was hurting though and couldn't keep up with the little accelerations. Carrie even pushed me a little but I was off the back again.

I kept thinking of Phil Liggett commenting "The elastic has snapped." I was on my own for the last 5 laps, but grateful to have been there for the 40 minutes of racing beforehand.
Fortunately, Mike Weiss was the announcer and made the passes through start/finish fun and interesting. He commented how my hands were sponsored by "Wilson" tennis balls (my mittens look like bright yellow tennis balls when I am in the drops).
He even commented when I was coming through "Here comes the second field on the road" - it was JUST me!!
When I finished (finally), he announced "here comes Steph Nadeau, being lead out by Steph Nadeau. I wonder who will win the sprint?" With that I stood and gave the best sprint finish I could muster!

I finished DFL but it's the happiest DFL I've seen in a long time. I was soaked to the core and could no longer see through my rain streaked lenses.
I am impressed that I was able to bridge (a definite weak point for me in the past) and able to stick with the pack for as long as I did. Alice and I are new to the open races and this is definitely a whole new ball-game! (Incidentally, Alice stayed on until just before the last turn at the finish! ~ Great job, Alice!!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 TNW!

Last night was my first Tuesday Night Worlds for 2010. (They started last week but I was sick).

I thought I was ready, but I was mistaken.

Phil and I kind of nervously "kitted up" at headed over to Carondelet. We arrived with "plenty" of time to register and pin on numbers. I spied Jamie warming up as we rode to registration, thinking I would ride over and join her for a few warm up laps. Mistake number 1. Instead, I chatted up the guy from Pi (couldn't tell you what he said), nervously pinned my number -taking twice as long as it should have, waiting for Phil to find the right tree to water, listened to Pirtle yell "3 to go"....Time wasted = no warm up.

(Potential) Mistake #2. (verdict is still out). I "peeped" instead of gu'd. Hoped that sugary little guy would give me what I need to hang with all those B racers.
As we rolled to the line, I felt this eery combination of wanting to throw up, pee (just a little) or poop my pants. Not sure how the Peep played into that.

I really really wanted to sit on Jamie's wheel. That lasted all of about 10 feet and Crystel came around and took my spot (!). Ouch, it hurt from the word "Go". I recall thinking as I dove into Turn 2, "Do I remember how to corner?" Fortunately for me and everyone around me, Yes, I do remember. I quickly found myself moving backwards rather than holding my position. I couldn't keep up with the pace (24 mph average) and off the back before I knew it but according to the lap cards, I lasted 10 minutes. Cory came up behind me and we cruised a couple of laps, jumping back in where we could.

My lungs seared with pain from the lack of warm up and breathing so hard. After a couple more laps, I dropped out and the coughing began.
I kept that Crit cough going all night and half of Wednesday.

Next week, I'll warm up & I'll try to stay in for 12 minutes!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hub Women's Team Training Camp

The weekend of March 6 was our Women's Team Training Camp in Hermann, MO. At around 9am, Alice, Katie and I met at Kate's house and piled into two vehicles. I lead out, with the understanding that both drivers (myself and Kate) knew we were headed down Hwy 44 to Hwy 100, and once in Hermann, I could follow the specific directions to Ashley's parent's home.
We quickly fell into a driving and talking rhythm and never noticed that we passed our exit. It was only when I noticed signs that we were approaching CUBA that I realized something was not right! Oops. We had driven some 30 miles past our exit!

After a quick call to Ashley, we were given the choice to turn around and head back East on 44, or take a twisty, curvy Hwy 19 to Hermann. I don't hurry well down curvy roads, so I opted to head back on 44.
OK, so what should have taken a little more than an hour and a half, took slightly longer! After that, we arrived in Hermann without incident.

Thanks to an amazing team weekend skills and drills plan from Pro racer extraordinaire, Carrie Cash, we had two great days of rides planned. We quickly suited up, commenting on just how much stuff five women brought for two days of riding! You would have thought we were moving in!

Our first day of riding took us on a quick warm up downtown and then straight up hwy 19! Yikes! That first hill is a doozy! We attempted to work on staying together but somehow I was off the back near the top of the climb. Mountain goats, Ashley and Katie sailed up with ease!

We continued up hills and practiced some team building tactics. Once we turned back onto hwy 100, we quieted down and settled into a single pace line. Our first flat of the weekend came a couple miles down 100. Kate's rear wheel was victim but thanks to a genuine innovations CO2 we were back on the road in no time.

The down hill into town was incredibly fun, but I know we had committed to climb Gutenburg hill, and it was looming just around the corner. With none of my team mates contesting, I took the sprint finish downtown, then we regrouped and made our way to Ole Gutenburg. I was out of gears before the 1/2 way point. I knew I was in trouble when I had to swerve to stay upright. Again, Katie and Ashley climbed with ease. Kate followed close behind. Alice was behind me but as she passed, I nearly took her out with a swerve to the left. It was everything I could do to keep that front wheel from bouncing up. Eventually I made it to the top. We regrouped again and headed back to Ashley's parent's house, where we promptly decided that the day was way too nice to stop there. We opted to head toward the TT route, but took the flats to the West instead. We cruised along at 20 mph and chatted easily. The tailwind fooled us into complacency and we pushed a little further down the road, wanting to "reach the end" at Blufftown before turning around.

Wow! Holy-Headwind. Well, it was a good time to work on rotating pace lines!
By the time we arrived at Ashley's house we were very tired and very hungry. Dinner and bedtime couldn't come soon enough.

We loaded up in Kate and Ashley's vehicles (My Beetle sits too low to navigate the road to the "ground" where the cabin sits) and headed just a couple miles south of town. A quick turn off the highway yielded a gravel road loaded with pot-holes filled with water from the recent rain/snow melt. Ashley navigated this 1/4 mile winding road like she knew each and every one of those holes. Soon we were parked in front of a little cabin on a little pond. Ashley's parent's beautiful new home is in the process of being built across the pond.

The cabin was furnished with a queen bed, bunk beds and a sofa, all the necessary amenities to clean up and cook up. Kate got to work on the steaks. Alice popped the rosemary herbed potatoes into the oven. I started on the salad, only to soon realize I had forgotten the fresh baguette in my car in town. Boy, I was really really wanting that bread. Once we also realized my purse was waiting in the car with that bread (and my glasses/contact solution) and possibly the steak knives, Ashley and I headed back to town to retrieve it. We got back just in time to sit down to dinner.

Dinner was as amazing as our ride. Steaks, potatoes, spinach/raspberry/walnut salad, HUGE bowl of mixed fruit, bread. We ate and ate and talked and grew quiet as our bellies were full and sleep grew heavy on our minds. We readied for bed. Ashley on the sofa, Alice on the top bunk, Katie on the bottom bunk and Kate and I in the Queen bed, with hopes the cabin kitty Chester would snuggle in with us (we missed our own kitties!). When Ashley turned out the light, I realized how far from home I was! It was complete darkness.

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast, as delicious as the dinner the night before. We readied ourselves for another ride and some more team drills. After dropping the vehicles and stuff off at Ashley's house in town, we headed out to the TT course. The headwind from Saturday had shifted, so we enjoyed a tail wind was we rode East. We chatted, worked our plan from Carrie, developed a race strategy we will call "The Hedge" and rode on to the turn around point. Yikes! Headwind time again. Another good opportunity to practice drafting and rotating. We worked on getting in tighter formation and then practiced attacks, reeling in, etc. The headwind and previous days miles had worn us down and after about 15 miles, we were ready to head back home. We did get to enjoy a little more tail wind on the way back and this made for some nice impromptu sprints and playfulness on the bike. A great wrap up to a great weekend of rides.

After a quick lunch in town. We loaded into the cars and headed back to St Louis. The drive home was MUCH faster and uneventful. My legs felt tired but strong and I felt a sense of increased camaraderie with my team. We have a strong team, filled with amazing women.

Look out St Louis, Here comes the Hedge!