Sunday, November 29, 2009

A lot to be thankful for! Thanksgiving Weekend 2009.

I have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes I find myself a bit discouraged or frustrated when certain things don't go as planned or little obstacles get in my way, but overall, I am a very fortunate individual. I have the best husband ever, amazing family on both sides, close friends and I am doing what I love to do full time. It really doesn't get much better than that. During a very busy cx season, it was a real treat to spend 4 days at our cabin (my favorite place on earth), riding my bike, spending time with friends, reading, knitting, cooking and relaxing a whole bunch. I've still got a lot of racing left to do this season. At least that is the plan if my body will cooperate. Here are some of the highlights from the weekend.

Tim, Josh & I took a nice long ride on Thursday a.m.

10 for dinner. 12 for dessert. A group effort and an amazing meal.

Tim is thankful for his cherry pie.

Group ride Friday. Right after it stopped pouring rain.

The girls at Lawrence Lake.
The boys.

The happy couple.

Saturday's ride had to include some 'cross riding.

Sunday's ride with great views of Mt. Hood.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Portlanders are CRAZY! About CX that is: Krugers Crossing CX, 11/22

Downpours and the yuckiest mud can not keep people away. It kept some away, but almost 600 people showed up to race on Sunday. The weather deteriorated on Saturday late in the evening and all I could hear was pouring rain. I knew it was going to be a messy one. It was raining when I woke up too, but the day was actually quite pleasant. The damage had been done, however.

Cornfields and farmland + rain + 100's of cyclists on a course = a greasy mess!!!

I really have not seen anything like it. It was crazy. From parking and cars stuck everywhere to the doggy cx race, it reassured me that Portlanders will never get sick of cross.
Tim and I drove out there after noon and saw the damage from the morning. It was going to be interesting. We each only brought one bike, because we thought it would be nice to only have to clean one. It was a good and bad idea. If there was ever a race two bikes would have made a huge difference, along with a pit person and a power washer, it was this one, but that was all to much to be bothered with.
Tim and I took a very nice ride out the the end of Sauvies Island as our warm up and at our 3 p.m. start , we still had clear skies, but it was getting chilly. My race went fairly smooth. Alice rode with me for a lap and a half and then I didn't see her again. I had to stop several times to take grass and crap out of my fork and brakes so I could pedal. I actually detached my rear brake during the second lap. And I thought Ryan Weaver was crazy to suggest it. It was the key. I can't believe I survived without ripping off a derailleur. My bike weighed so much going over the barriers I could hardly lift it. But the crowd was amazing as usual and I was cheered on to victory. The slippery mud in the corn maze was actually kind of fun. In a really sick way, I enjoyed myself. Yep, I am crazy too!!!
My bike was SOOOO heavy!

My new breathing technique. Do I get more oxygen this way?

Game face. Concentrated on not slipping and falling.

There was a lot of this.

And a lot of this.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better late than never: USGP #5 & #6: Mercer Co. Park, NJ, Nov. 14-15, 2009

It is seldom I wait until Thursday to update my blog from a weekend race, but a lot has been going on and it was a rough weekend to say the least. I went straight to New Jersey from France to the wonderful hospitality of the Stefanowicz's. Bob, their son, lives in Portland and he offered them up last year, but little did they know, I would be back. Host family's are sometimes the highlight of racing trips, and that was definitely the case for me this trip. It was a wonderful stay and Tim and Willy joined the fun on Friday night. But I guess I should cover some racing too.
With the rain during the week, I knew we were in for some peanut butter mud. I was just hoping for less running than last year. I got my wish. Saturday was heavy, but not too bad. Yes, sometimes it was faster to run, but I was able to ride the course in almost it's entirety. It was a suffer fest and I suffered myself into 9th place. Not my best finish, but that was all I had. I knew Sunday would be better.
Sunday was a lot drier, 70 degrees and much less running. I was feeling good, legs felt pretty good and I was ready for a rematch. I had a good start, found myself right where I wanted to be in the start, and then my body ceased to cooperate. Half way into the first lap, my breathing became labored. During the second lap, it apparently made my face purple. I passed the pit, knowing I was having troubles, knowing I was going backwards, but still determined to 'push through it' and finish. Tim yelled from the pit, "if you can't breathe, you need to quit." It still didn't register until about 400-500 meters later when I really could not breathe at all. My pedaling basically came to a stand still and a spectator who turned out to be a PA, told me I needed to stop. I did. He helped me try to relax and catch my breath and before I knew it, medical surrounded me, an oxygen mask was on my face and I was sitting there trying to breathe. Then it hit me. I had dropped out of my race and the tears began to flow. Not a great day for me. I was frustrated and mad that I was forced to not finish the race. A first in my short racing career. I have never quit a race. That was, until Sunday, the 15th of November. But some say if I hadn't quit, the consequences may have been a bit more serious, but honestly, I couldn't have continued. My head wanted to, but the impossibility of it was all too real.
So I spent some quality time up at OHSU this week in the sports medicine lab trying to figure out what was going on. It has been determined that I have allergy and exercise induced asthma. Whatever was in the air in New Jersey that day definitely caused my airways to shut down. Now, some ask if this is the first time, if I have had issues before, etc. Well, I have had signs and minor issues, but nothing too serious that I couldn't just shrug off, and nothing during a race. Trouble breathing during cross is normal, right? I have had some issues with allergies the past 2 years. I kept shrugging that off too, taking an occasional claritin, but now my body finally told me who was boss. I will respect my body's wishes and take measures to ensure that I give it enough oxygen in the future. I definitely don't ever want to experience what I experienced last Sunday again. So, for those that have checked in on me, Thank you. I am fine. I will fight on...

Gay, me & Bob. The awesome NJ hosts!!!

Willy pretty much sums up the day of racing on Sunday.

Post tears, Tim & I.

Bangers and Mash for dinner... and Guinness of course. Great Irish pub we took our hosts to.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

France for the weekend? Nommay World Cup, Sunday, November 8, 2009

A quick flight to Zurich, followed by a less than 2 hour drive and yep, I was in France for the weekend. It made sense when I planned my season to pop over to Europe prior the the New Jersey USGP. It was cost effective (relative to going to Treviso) and I figured the jet lag wouldn't be so bad coming back if I made a stop. Going over, it was rough as usual. I arrived on Thursday a.m. and wanted to go to sleep more than anything. Fresh air and a beautiful bike ride made it a bit more tolerable. Friday I had another amazing ride on the euro-velo path near the canal of the Rhine, keeping me busy for part of the day. I can not lie, I may have napped too.

The bicycle highway just a quick hop from the hotel.

And the Euro Velo bike paths. They go everywhere.
Saturday was a bit more social, with the action starting at the course with everyone pre-riding. Katie and Mark had arrived and now dinner was not so lonely. It was good to have company. Race day was Sunday and it was cold, but dry. We still had a bit of mud from the rain the day prior, but it was nothing like last year. For a full report, you can check:
To sum it up, it went well and although I was in a group fighting for 11th and I lost the fight and ended up 17th. Not horrible. A good race and Katie crushed it, so we at least had reason to celebrate!

Monday I headed to Zurich, hung out with a friend of a friend, found my over-priced cheap hotel room and then headed back to the other side of the pond, gearing up for the next set of races this weekend.
I will post pics as soon as I can get my computer to connected to the internet. Not my best post, but the jet lag is killing me! :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Home Sweet Home (sort of). Cross Crusade Halloween Weekend in Astoria.

The RCB crew. Where the heck is Dani Dance is what I want to know???

It would figure that the one double weekend of racing I have at home, I get a cold. Returning from KY, I was plagued by a nasty cold and it kept me down for the week. I had just had my mid-season rest, so I wanted to ride and train, but nope. Just rest and recover. With the weekend approaching, I was feeling better, and we were off to Astoria for the best weekend of racing yet this year: Halloween. I begged my coach for a pass to race. I was denied on Saturday, but Sunday, without knowing it, I got the green light. (I was going to at least pedal around the course in my costume if she said I couldn't race.)I think attending and/or participating in a Halloween Cross Crusade race should be on everyone's list of things to do. It is absolute craziness. Our regular races are fun and somewhat crazy, but for Halloween it goes off! I have missed the Halloween races the past 2 years for USGP in KY, but this year it fell on a weekend I could be home. I had bough a costume in September, so I was ready!
Saturday was tame, since Sunday was chosen as the big day due to more people being able to make it out to the coast. I sat in the pit on Saturday for Tim and Wendy and actually had to work a bit. Muddy, slippery conditions that looked so fun made me wish I was out there. But my bikes were clean on the car. Dinner with friends at the Rogue on Saturday post race made it a fun day, even without racing.

Is that George Hincapie? Nope, Tim Butler on Saturday dressed up as George.

BIG dinner party @ Rogue.

Sunday we enjoyed our extra hour of sleep, Wendy and I took a nice a.m. spin over the bridge to Warrenton . It was foggy and beautiful out. Then it was off to the races. The course was a blast. The energy was amazing and it was a really fun day. Sunshine and nice temperatures made the day even more enjoyable and crazy. Human barriers that moved around the course. Coffin barriers that were different every lap. Slick corners into the barns we went in and out of. Muddy descents, some fun side hill. It really had it all. Plus hundreds of cheering, drunk fans. What more could you want??? Happy Halloween. I hope everyone had a safe scary holiday. And now off to France.

Foggy morning on the coast.

Tim and I all ready to go.

A small slice of the craziness.

I think I prefer skinsuits.

Check out that rack.