Monday, January 31, 2011

Pech Gehabt! World Championships: St. Wendel, Germany, 1/30/11

Pech Gehabt is a phrase in German that pretty much means, "bad luck". My race was a short one that ended with a tearful ambulance ride, despite my pleading objections, for x-rays, ultrasound and in the end, 3 stitches. 
Being a part of the USA National Team is always an experience. You would think after a few times, it would wear off. It wouldn't be 'special'. But it is special. Each is very different with different objectives. This trip was very mellow. The group was a bit smaller, due to some making other arrangements, and we were the only team at our hotel. Everyone was focused on doing their best. The staff was supportive, everyone respectful and a really nice group. The lead up to the race went well. Pre-riding, knowing the conditions would very much depend on the temperature and sun. The atmosphere was still 'worlds' at the venue. The venue was great. It was also special to have Marketa there, my 'german sister'. (exchange student from hs who is like part of the family) It was nice to see the event through her eyes, one of a non cyclist and one who has never been. It's like having culture shock to the euro cross culture.
Race day went without a hitch to get to the starting line. I cooked my breakfast in the hotel kitchen. We departed on time. I didn't forget anything. I sat on the trainer and then rode the course and was able to ride everything. The ruts were rough in places, but it was not as treacherous as I thought it may be after the U23 race and it re-freezing. All was good. I was relaxed, confident and ready to roll. Warming up on the trainer in the camp is always funny. You are like an animal in the zoo with people watching you, while you put in the earphones, ignore it all and get ready for the culmination of a season of hard work.
At the line, I followed Gully's advice and took the outside of the track, since I was towards the end of the 2nd row call ups. And when that light turned green, I was relaxed, focused and had a great start with no panic. The head wind after the corner hit me like a ton of bricks, taking my breath away, so I tucked in and just stayed focused. First 2 turns were great. The first 180 I got pinched a bit, but when at the barriers, Katie was to my right (was wondering what she was doing there?) and Amy right in front of me. People were down on the off camber on the right, so Amy did what I would have done and take the line on the left, which was rideable in pre-ride, but Amy started slipping and didn't have enough speed to clear it, so I veered left to not totally smash into her, said some encouraging words and continued on. The first long false flat climb, I found myself struggling to breathe a bit, so I told myself to just relax, throttle 'er back and get in a rhythm. I struggled a bit. Then we did the stairs and got to the 'whoopdee'. A descent you needed to pedal and carry speed to make it up the other side. I was cruising and looked up and saw about 7-10 riders spread out dismounting and crashing. I tried to thread the needle and find a gap, but it was impossible. I had to brake to avoid disaster and dismount and run. Then a little false flat to the long sweeping rutty descent back to the pit then track. I had nailed it and passed a few. On the track, there were 2 Germans to draft off. Then when we got on the dirt, I decided to make my move. Then the second corner, the unthinkable happened. I don't know actually what happened, but I went down. HARD. I was laying on the ground for a while and not sure if I blacked out or not, but I heard the whizzing of people by me and I thought, "I have to get up and get going". I laid there a bit more, then attempted to get up and couldn't. By then, medics or course people, whomever they were were there. And they helped me up. I think I still thought I was going to continue. But when I couldn't put pressure on my right leg, I knew it was over. Plus, apparently my helmet was totally smashed, so they wouldn't even have let me continue if I had thought I wanted to. Protocol. Off to the hospital.
The minuted I realized I was not going to continue, the tears started coming. They were not from the pain, which I had plenty. They were for the disappointment. The pure anguish of what I thought at the time was letting so many people down, including myself. I sat in the ambulance and had to explain in German that I wasn't crying from the pain, but from the disappointment. This was a first. I think I was in shock. The sobbing wouldn't subside. I was a mess. Alone in an ambulance. Wishing at least I could stay and see how my teammates would do. See Katie win Gold. I was thinking of all it took to get there. The people who supported me. The awesome training Kendra put me through. Tim getting up at 2 a.m. to watch, only to not see me (turns out he missed it b/c he fell asleep), but it was too much.  I couldn't stop sobbing. Then the exam started. I kept asking if they could check the race. Get an update. Turn on the live streaming. But it wasn't until well after the race was over as I was shivering after getting my stitches that they checked cycling news for me. Vos had won. More disappointment. Then I got back to camp, only to hear other stories of disappointing races, flats, etc. It was not the day for the USA. In my very sore, stiff, pained state, I managed to walk around a bit, take it all in, cheer for the men and realize that it was only one lost opportunity. One bike race. There will be more. It will make me even hungrier, more determined to succeed. And now I will wait. 364 more days to try again.

Post note: My injuries are minor. Just lot's of scrapes and bruises. It is hard to move. I had 3 stitches put in my hip, where there was a deeper gash the doctor determined needed it. My head is sore and my neck, but so far no sign of concussion. I will keep monitoring and hopefully be able to move a bit faster soon. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back in Belgium! And the Netherlands: Hoogerheide, 1/23/2011

My plan kind of backfired on me this trip. I left a day later hoping that one less night of bad sleep would bring me fast legs, clear head and good luck. Wrong. I didn't ride my best in Hoogerheide. In fact, my legs felt great riding, but not so great running. I know I have the fitness, I just wasn't on my game. I had some issues. Many technical (riding stupid). A few bike. A little breathing. But reality is that I will chalk it up as an opener for this next weekend. The big show. 25th is not the end of the world. And my first race over here is never my best. I am so in awe of Katie and how she can be so on her game after the travel. She is truly amazing.

Too far back...

...when the chaos started.

The old drop was now a run up. I liked going down it better. Ughh.

It was a super fun course. Except for the running.

One to go

But even cooler than the first race back here was the trip to the Ridley factory today (monday). So cool to see how the bikes are hand painted here in Belgium.  To see the entire process from the arrival of the frames to the complete product. I will blog about that soon. Too tired to think right now.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

The support for my trip has been overwhelming! The fundraiser at HUB there were 344 beers drank in my honor on a Tuesday night and Christian Ettinger, Brewmaster and Owner of HUB, rounded up his donation to $500. With that and the raffle tickets sold, I believe I may have covered the expenses for my trip. I haven't done the final accounting, but it is amazing in such a short time we were able to pull this off. It has also caused others to rally behind the cause. For instance, Jeff Ernst started his own fundraiser: Selling   $4/lb $25/5 lb donated through 1/31 and also   I don't even know Jeff and haven't met him, but I hope to thank him in person one day. Others have asked to make further donations. Here's the catch. Once my trip is paid for, anything above and beyond will be set aside to further the cause. Help some one else reach their dream. 
I have arrived in Belgium, so in my jet-lagged state, I am still marveling at the support out there and how much fun Tuesday night was. I think we may have to make it an annual event, even if I am not the cause.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I didn't know you could not raffle items with paypal, and I even looked for rules and regulations. Tickets will be available at River City Bicycles and on Tuesday evening at HUB. For out of town individuals, please send me a message via facebook. Thank you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

THE RAFFLE UNVEILED!!! A few of my favorite things...

My sponsors ROCK! Thanks to the generosity of many, there is over $4000 worth of prizes to give away! Tickets will be on sale through CX Worlds on January 30, 2011. I will have tickets on hand on Tuesday night during the BEER DRINKING @ HUB. They will also be for sale at River City Bicycles. See Wendy. It is one for $10 or three for $25.

While Katie Compton is winning rainbow stripes, you can win the following:

Ridley X-Ride Frameset

Reynolds 2010 Strike wheelset (66mm Carbon)

Lazer One City Team Helmet

Oakley Frogskins (polarized)

Oakley Endurings (with multiple lenses. The only glasses I race in! Women's specific. LOVE them)

Thule Peloton Fork mount bike racks. (2)

Gore Bike Wear "Tip to Toe" package.

Cross Crusade Season Pass

Gift certificate to Grochau Cellers for magnum of wine

Io-Bio Men or Women's Contact LS Crib (awesome base layer for cx! I love it)

Pearl Izumi Shoes (model dependent on availability and size; must be in stock. So they won't be as cool as my custom world championships shoes. Sorry.)

$25 gift certificate to U.S. Outdoor Store, Portland, OR (

Joe Sales original print.

An original one of a kind limited edition VeloGioielli. ( Bike theme jewelry handmade from recycled bicycle parts. This one is my bike parts!)

$25 gift certificate to for cycling apparel--rider's choice!

Other items still to come!!!

Raffle winners will be drawn on 2/2/2011. Winners will be notified via email. Please include a valid email with your purchase. PLEASE NOTE: out of town winners are responsible for shipping charges of larger items.

1 TICKET for $10 or 3 TICKETS for $25


Sunday, January 9, 2011

WORLDS BOUND! The TRUTH of my journey!

I am ecstatic to say that I will once again be representing the USA for Cyclocross World Championships in 2011 in St. Wendel, Germany. This will be my third opportunity to represent the USA. After a very disappointing end to my 2009 season and pulling the plug on going to Worlds, I was determined to go to Germany in 2011. It is good to be back on form, able to breathe and be motivated to put in the extra effort and train until the end of January while everyone else is enjoying the snow.
The TRUTH I would like to share with everyone is that like most of you who race cyclocross, be it locally, nationally, internationally, I do it because I love it. I think there is a perception that I actually get paid to do this. Wrong. I am a sponsored athlete in the very minimum sense of the word. Don't get me wrong. I have GREAT sponsors. And amazing folks helping out. For the 2010 cx season, I rode for the Hudz-Subaru team, a team based in Colorado. With that, I was contracted to have a travel budget, support at most major races, and gear to race for the season (bikes, a helmet and 2 skinsuits.) That is it. The travel budget does not cover my entire season of racing. It covers a nice chunk, but it falls short. Especially with extending my season into January. It does not cover the $1000 fee that USA cycling charges its athletes to participate in the world Championships either. And I am very frugal when I travel. I don't receipt any of my food, I stay in host housing, I share expenses whenever I can. I am just grateful to be racing on great gear and having support at domestic races for the first time ever.
In fact, the previous 3 years I have done this, I have foot the bill entirely on my own, including 2 trips to worlds. The one exception being my first year racing in Europe and going to worlds in 2007-2008, while racing for River City Bicycles, Dave Guettler gave me a generous cash donation. The following two years, racing for Monavie Cannondale, I was only supported through mountain bike season. The first year I didn't even get cash. Both years I was given some frames to race cyclocross. The rest was my expense. Parts for my bikes, wheels, tires, travel, etc. And no support at the races.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I have heard comments from people, some while racing, "well, she gets paid to do this." Au contraire. Every hour I train I don't get paid. I consider it my job, but I do it for free. I do it because I am passionate about cycling, about racing, and am driven to succeed. I have been fortunate to be able to take a leave from the 'real world' and not work (thanks to the support from my amazing husband), so yes, I do have the flexibility to train like a pro. But, when people ask me what I do for a living, how do I answer? Yes, I am a 'professional' cyclist, but I don't make a living. I don't even cover my expenses. And I consider myself lucky.

I am lucky because I live in Oregon. I am lucky because OBRA rocks. I am lucky because when I started racing cyclocross, I had super fast people to chase around and make myself fast. I am lucky because when I ask for help, people step up. I hate asking, but this year I have asked. Due to the generosity of one of my favorite local breweries, we are going to have a party!!! And this party is going to help cover my expenses to participate in 2011 CX World Championships.

On TUESDAY, JANUARY 18TH @ 6 p.m. until close, HOPWORKS URBAN BREWERY (HUB) will donate $1 for every pint drank in my honor. You can just come for beer in the bar. You can bring the family and dine in the dining room. You can come for a nightcap. 6 p.m. until close, drink as much beer as you can, because you will be doing your part in sending me to worlds!

NO RSVP necessary. Just make sure to mention "Sue Butler" or "CX World Championships". And there will be a raffle. Prizes are being finalized and will be publicized soon, but it is going to be good. REAL GOOD! Because my sponsors and my supporters rock!

Please join us. Make sure to come say 'hi'. I'll be in the bar. Probably selling tickets for the best raffle of the season.