Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dear Leo,

It's been a little while since I've seen you out walking your manic owner along the canal. I've missed you! It was a nice surprise to hear your yip causing mass commotion and then a scream from a class of students roller blading by. And one poor girl is still down for the count - being consoled by her teacher from your vicious little attack. Meanwhile your owner continues to shuffle you away, with a Starbucks coffee cup clutched in one hand, as you tug back ready to eat some more wheeled bystanders.

You should visit more often - it's always entertaining!


The onlooker on the second floor of the 130 building on Nickerson Street.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rain, rain - GO AWAY!

It's 1:43pm, roughly 15 minutes before I get off work and head outside to do my workout. Twenty minutes ago it was sunny and breezy. 10 minutes ago it started sprinkling. 2 minutes ago it poured. And now it's back to mist that will surely make today's workout fun.

Here's to those hard-woman training days that help you get that much closer to winning a race....

Hill intervals in the rain - gotta love those screaming descents only to repeat the insanity moments later. Wait a sec - the sun's popping out again. Game on!

Monday, April 28, 2008

I woke up hungry this morning. Not just for food - but hungry for more opportunities to work on my new approach toward racing. As mentioned I had a big break this weekend - and now know all I have to do is continue to work in that zone to realize my full potential.

Yesterday was a long one - 66.25 miles at Vance Creek in Elma, Washington. The forecast was for increasing possibilities of showers in the afternoon - but with a 30% chance we thought we might escape them. I must have forgotten we live in Washington. As soon as we rolled up, registered and got the kit on, the sky opened up - confirming it's going to be a wet one.

With only 11 of us that showed (they had a separate Cat 3 ladies with 16!) there was talk of combining us with the Masters field. Fortunately that didn't pan out and we had our own race. Wines had the biggest contingent - with 4 ladies (Suz, Trish, Syrikit, and Gina), three Avanti (Liz, Linda and I), one Groupie (Dana), Carrie (Kenda Tire), Allison (Bob's Bicycles) and Beth from Byrne. If you've been riding in this field, I bet you can pretty much guess what happened.

But for those who don't - basically Wines dominated the race. They were constantly in the front setting the pace and attacking. The rest of us would combine forces, bring them in and then another attack would go. At least it keeps things interesting.

The course is a circuit loop - with a few rollers leading into the one hill and then a fast descent and winds through slick mud filled farm roads. We did the circuit 5 times - so I looked at it as though it was 5 hill repeats. The first two times up the hill was no big struggle - I was able to easyily stay on. But the third time is when the field completely broke up and suddenly we were down to 5, with Suz off the front of the field. I remember grabbing Gina's wheel and hearing Karen's voice over and over in my head, "stay on that wheel, Jen. Stay on that wheel." And it worked! When we crested the hill and wound our way up and over the rollers - Liz noticed I was there and was stoked! Oh but the battle wasn't over yet.

Those who made the selection - Suz (mrs. off the front), Gina, Trish, Liz, Beth, Dana and I. We started chasing and just as we hit the slick pavement, Suz flatted. Gina stopped and gave Suz her wheel - what an amazing teammate. And Suz quickly caught on to the rest of us. Fourth time up the hill - Suz attacked again - this time staying away. But I was in trouble. I lost the wheel I was on. Suddenly they're pulling away - luckily near the top of the climb. I dug deep, deeper than I have before, and made the connection with them on the farm flats. I swear I felt like I was going to black out at one point - I full on saw the curtain come down in front of my eyes and then blink myself back into reality. But I had made it!

Knowing full well that the final hill was coming and my legs were shredded, I led the ladies up to the bottom of the climb so they could have at it. And they did - with Trish taking 2nd, Dana 3rd, Beth 4th and Liz 5th. Even though it wasn't a win today - I was smiling ear to ear when I crossed that finish line. Today I was a warrior.

I am so tickled about getting off the plateau I was on - I can't tell you how rewarding that race was yesterday. Sure the TT effort the day before may have taxed the legs a little - but I know I reached deep, deep inside to race and was rewarded ten fold with my efforts. I didn't sleep well last night - for I kept waking up thinking about yesterday's accomplishments and how excited I am. Goodbye mediocrity, hello ass kicker!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A racing Race

My break through came today.

I'm so excited and giddy - I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight.

Race report to follow shortly - but let's just say I am STOKED and confident going into next week's race! Yahoo!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Green Valley TT

I can't think of anything better to do on a beautiful spring day then head southeast to Black Diamond to do the annual 12 mile Green Valley time trial. Um, right....I must still be oxygen deprived!

Not many 1/2/3 ladies made a showing today - which is surprising given the excellent weather. Little wind, warm temps, sun - what more could you ask for? I would have enjoyed the scenery if I wasn't concentrating so hard on pushing. Hopefully I won't pay for it too hard tomorrow - another long epic day on the bike. Good times, good times.

Time to kick the feet up and relax...

BTW - Avanti swept the podium - 1/2/3. So what if there were only 4 ladies who showed? :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

lil' updation

This week's rest week was perfectly timed. I've sat on the bike maybe 3 hours since Sunday and my body is feeling rejuvenated. Good thing - this weekend boasts both a TT in Black Diamond and a 66 mile race out in Elma.

So what did I do in my spare time you ask?

I baked two cakes for two birthday celebrations. Hung out with some old friends of Ryan's and listened to them banter back and forth all night (pretty much laughed from 6pm to midnight, two nights this week). Listened to the hubby and his climbing buddies get super amped for a big climbing session out at Index this weekend. Swap war stories of the joys of cycling versus the joys of climbing with Ai. Read a book on motivation and being a warrior. Did minimal updates on my blog (sometimes you need a rest week from that too...). Got some new duds for spring. Started planning for a summer extravaganza of racing.

Oh - and I pulled the plug on racing at Hood. I know, I know. But truth be told - I'm not the best climber and would STRUGGLE big time with that race. Good luck to all of you who are venturing there!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Random thoughts

So this is what runs through my head when I have a rest week....

It's not that I'm preoccupied with winning. I'm preoccupied with knowing that each time I get on the saddle, each pedal stroke I take - I'm doing everything within my power to push myself and go beyond any self-doubt and prove to myself I can do it. I feel a fire growing inside of me - the desire to display pure athleticism. I'm ready to paint my face and let out a battle cry and show the warrior inside.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Busy Tuesday!

Woke up to bright sunshine peering in my front windows beckoning me to get on my bike before the 50% chance of rain decided to hit Seattle. It was a little chilly out this morning - but there's nothing like the smell of the lake and spring flowers to perk you right up! One mistake though - I decided to roll back through the arboretum to check out the damage from the bus last week and was swamped with cars making their morning commute onto the 520 bridge. I inhaled some serious exhaust just to see how wrecked the little bridge was. And no, it didn't look that bad. Cough, cough sputter sputter.

This morning has been filled with figuring out my track racing schedule for the summer. The National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, MN is hosting a weekend long event in early June and is trying to get more ladies to attend. Plus I've been looking into other AVC's, nationals, etc - it's going to be a fun summer! And it's hard to believe preseason racing at Marymoor starts in 10 days!

Luckily this is a rest week and I can relax and take it easy...

Monday, April 21, 2008

But my lips hurt real BAD!

Is Grandma there?

No. She's getting her hair done.


What do you need?

Will you just go get her for me right now?

I'm really busy right now.

Well just tell her to come get me.


Cause I don't feel good!

Well have you talked to the school nurse?

No, she doesn't know anything. Will you just come get me?


Well will you do me a favor then?


Can you bring me my chap stick?

No Napoleon.

But my lips hurt real BAD!

We pulled up to Waitsburg, a town about 30 minutes outside of Walla Walla for an optional 35 mile road race on Friday. Karen and I had driven 5 hours from Seattle and were struck with how windy it was in the Tricities area and were hoping it would calm down by our 4:30 start time. Turns out the winds were not blowing as hard as they were in the morning - but we still were facing 30mph gusts.

Only 37 ladies showed up for the optional stage - and with prizes going 5 deep it was a drag race from the gun. Bob's Bicycles out of Idaho and Giant/Team Whistler were anxious to get things rolling from the start and one slip of a wheel would shoot you out the back in no time. I managed to have good positioning for the constant surges and attacks - but when push came to shove up a slow steady 10 mile hill - I found myself out of my comfort zone and unable to hold a wheel. Thank goodness Dana was there - she paced me up the hill and we fought to clamber back on the pack. The crosswinds, headwinds and tailwinds were so strong - at one point I had completely dropped her on a crosswind downhill section. I remember looking ahead at Liz and seeing her fight to go downhill - sideways and being blown across the road. Luckily I have weight on my side and was able to stay upright a little more than the smaller ladies.

Once Liz and I regained contact we pacelined it to catch another straggler and at several points within distance of catching the pack. But the winds made what normally would take 5 minutes to bridge take 20. As we climbed another hill, Liz and I decided to save our legs for the following day. Little had we known the pack slowed significantly and had we pushed it just a little more up a hill, we would have caught them. Oh well. Karen did really well - staying on wheels and finished strong in 12th. The poor Pro 1/2 men had two loops - 80 miles of epic proportions. The finished right at dusk. Jimmy came back wiped out and said it was one of the top three hardest days of racing he had ever had. Ditto. It took us 2 1/2 hours to complete only 35 miles.

Saturday the official Tour of Walla Walla started for the 67 Pro 1/2/3 women with a short 6.6 mile time trial. The wind had picked up again but not as bad as the previous day. I opted to ride the disc and 404's - which worked like a sail in both directions thanks to the cross winds. (On a side note - I've been risking a serious flat each time I ride my track specific tubulars on the road. Mark Boursaw was shocked I was rolling them - so was Stephen from GL - but luck was on my side and I escaped a mechanical again!) The course was mainly won on the uphill section - it was hard to gain any time on the swift descent. I remember climbing one of the hills near the top in my big chain ring knowing I should shift to the small ring, causing massive lactic acid build up in my legs and paying for it the following minute as they recovered. I little ringed and sprocketed it up the final stretch, to be passed by Robin from FRM who placed the second fastest time of the day. The ultimate reward - the downhill return was screaming fast - I love riding my bike at high speeds. Turns out I placed a respectable 9th place with a time of 17:04. Only a minute from Suz (16:03) the leader. Not a bad start.

Three hours later we lined up for the Waitsburg Road Race - a 60 mile venture with three 3k long climbs and several rollers with cross, head and tail winds. We were sprinkled with snow as we rolled out the neutral start up the climb for the first time. I had great positioning and was right behind the erratic driver who had a hard time maintaining a slow and steady speed up the hill. He pulled off with 200m to go to the crest and everyone started sprinting past the top. Luckily I was in the front and didn't feel the accordion effect - but for some that meant game over all ready.

I expected the ladies to be frisky as they were the day before - but with longer miles and hills - things were pretty low key. I stayed near the front and out of trouble. That is until we hit Waitsburg for the intermediate sprint and all hell broke lose. I lost quite a bit of positioning that when we rounded the corner for the second time up the hill - I lost all wheels and found myself struggling to stay on. Next thing I know the caravan passed me - and it was all I could do to pace myself near them. Rounding the top of the hill I saw a few stragglers and decided to book it toward them. There's strength in numbers in the wind - the thought of completing the remaining miles solo was NOT an option. I put the pedal to the medal and rode hard. Luckily some other ladies were willing to push it - and we started catching people. First a group of two, then four - next thing we know we're a solid group of 8 trying to make up some lost ground. Unfortunately my weak mix of honey and sea salt wasn't enough fuel to keep the watts up - a final surge near Waitsburg and the looming final climb sent me off the back again. It was all I could do to heave myself up the final climb. Though I did pass two guys who were in much worse shape than me - one guy nearly fell off his bike as I passed him. I lost some serious time on the hill - but still was within the time cut and was excited to show my ability in the crit on Sunday.

Sunday morning I woke up and felt decent - considering the 100 miles in 24 hours. With some encouragement from Alynda, Jimmy, Nick and Karen, we lined up for 45 minutes of fun in down town Walla Walla. That is seriously one of the funnest crit courses of the year. Luckily it wasn't that hard - I was able to maintain good position and Liz won the second to last lap in a miscalculated finish. Dope! The final sprint came and I hesitated just slightly right before the final corner. Had I followed my instinct and gone then - maybe my placement would have been higher? But placing 8th in a pack of 47 isn't bad.

All in all - another great weekend of racing. I have identified my greatest weakness and will diligently start working on it to improve. Track season starts up in a few weeks - but I'm not sure if I'm ready to give up road racing quite yet....

And yes, all that wind definitely made my lips scream for chap stick. But I'm sure the nurse has like 50 of them.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

On the verge...

Do you ever feel like you're on the edge of discovering something? That you feel like something is just on the tip of your tongue; the match that will light the fire; the plateau you've been hoping to overcome and move beyond?

Well I'm there. I'm on the edge of a tipping point and have great hopes of unlocking my potential. I know it's there - but it's just a matter of digging deeper when the going gets tough. Blocking out that little voice of doubt that begins to start shouting at you. It is too easy to give into it - and really hard to change your mind frame. But damn it, I'm ready for change. And knowing where to begin is half the battle.

Breaking out of routine is the hardest part. Going up a climb, seeing people pass you, returning to the same mind set of concentrating on how slow you are - that's got to change. I know that if I'm there for the finish and it comes down to a bunch sprint, I'll give those ladies a run for the money. But most of my battle comes in getting to the line.

This weekend was another great training race. But I'm starting to realize that looking at every race as training is not the right mind set. I need to come to the line ready to throw down - go the full 3 rounds and potentially getting the TKO. What have I got to lose?

Thank you for all the encourage me and help me get on the right path. I'm nearing a break through - I can sense it. And I look forward to showing you my full potential.

More to come on Walla Walla soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I think someone just deemed himself a worthy recipient of the Darwin awards. Luckily no one was killed in what could have been a gruesome scene.

My friend Ai and I were headed home after a nice little creeper ride through Leschi and came across three hovering helicopters. We decided to check it out - and were shocked at what we came across.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Journey as a Goal

Ryan and I went out to sushi with my dear friend Jill last night. We try to catch up once a month and hit our favorite sashimi locale and tickle our senses wild with scallop, maguro, and amaebi (and yes, I love to eat the heads!).

It gives Jill and I a chance to catch up and chat about cycling, something we're both passionate about. Ryan does a great job enduring our nonsense talk and definitely adds to the discussion by reminding us the perils we face in pedaling transcend all genres of sports, some more than others. Yeah, he keeps it real.

But one topic struck me as funny and I haven't quite figured out the meaning of it. Jill asked me, "so what are your goals, what big races are you aiming for?" To which, my mind went blank about specific goals but rather that I'm focused more so on the journey. As an after thought I mentioned Hood - with it's 6 stages and 30,000 feet of climbing. But thinking back, I really am enjoying this year as a training tool and still am curious when training races really become racing races. Or if, in fact they ever become the other.

To date, I still feel like each race and competition I've competed in has taught me invaluable lessons that rather than define me as an athlete because of some result, showcase my ability to enjoy the journey of being fit, in good health and am blessed with the ability to do what I love. I am very thankful for it, indeed.

I've been reading a lot of mental training books for the body and mind lately - actually, rereading them. They never get old. Each time I read them, a new metaphor pops out that helps me derive a deeper understand that's its never the end result of how a race paned out, it's the process that's rewarding.

"When archers shoot for enjoyment, they have all their skill; when they shoot for a brass buckle, they get nervous; when they shoot for a prize of gold, they begin to see two targets." - Chunag Tzu

Monday, April 14, 2008

I love rest days. Especially the ones when it's pouring rain outside and you don't have a single remorse in your body for lounging on the couch doing absolutely nothing. Sipping tea all day - stretching the legs out - recovering. And tonight? Well tonight I will guiltily take part of eating some sushi. Of the Chiso variety. I'm so stinking spoiled rotten.

King of the Mountain?

I first became aware of the protests regarding the Olympics when I read a story a few months ago regarding the limited access and closure of Mt. Everest from March until June. It hit a cord not only with the Tibet tourism industry, but also with the mountaineering community. It has now become a quest of who will be the King of the mountain - rippling in its wake hundreds of thousands of people in protest and complicating matters between Eastern and Western views of human rights, media awareness and political agendas as the torch continues its relay throughout the world.

We don't have cable - so most of my awareness on the unrest regarding this subject has come streaming through my computer. I saw Jennie Reed this past weekend and asked her what she thought about the protests, etc and she said she didn't know enough about the situation to have an educated opinion of what's going on. Funny, neither did I. This morning I woke up on a mission - time to put my hours of Internet scouring to use - and see if I could read about some pieces to the puzzle.

A human rights issue....
In an article posted on March 15, 2008 from MSNBC:
"The unrest in Tibet began last Monday on the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule of the region. Tibet was effectively independent for decades before communist troops entered in 1950.

The protests initially were led by Buddhist monks demanding the release of other detained monks. Their demands spiraled to include cries for Tibet's independence and turned violent when police tried to stop a group of protesting monks. Pent-up grievances against Chinese rule came to the fore, as Tibetans directed their anger against Chinese and their shops, hotels and other businesses."

I've been watching lots of CNN video coverage regarding the protests to the torch relays in Paris and London. Apparently the Chinese media is blacking out all Western views of the protests and even going so far as saying "Warm reception had in cold London." Why would they deny what's happening around the world?

The torch relayed through Oman today, a Middle Eastern country and did not receive the loud protests the Western Countries have. However, "Oman, a Muslim country at the southern end of the Arabian peninsula with a booming tourism industry, has strong economic ties with China, which is a major importer of its oil." (Taken from Not to mention their ground forces were ready for any sort of strife.

The Olympic ceremony has brought together groups who normally wouldn't see eye to eye. "As the Olympic torch makes its way westward through London, Paris and San Francisco on its way to Beijing, it has been attracting well-financed, organized protests representing various single-issue groups that normally do not even work together.

Among these groups are various factions of the Free Tibet movement, the groups against genocide in Darfur, global warming, Burma's military dictatorship, job loss in the U.S., and such diverse groups as the Falun Gong and Taiwan independence activists." (

Uh oh. I think I just opened a can of worms.

"Activists demonstrating against China's human rights record and a recent crackdown in Tibet have been protesting along the torch route since the start of the flame's 85,000-mile (140,000-kilometer) journey from Ancient Olympia in Greece to Beijing.

The Summer Olympics kick off in the Chinese capital on Aug. 8.

The torch's global tour -- the longest in Olympic history -- is part of China's drive to highlight its growing economic and political power. But it also has offered protest groups abundant opportunity to air their grievances." (Associated Press; April 7, 2008)

So how do you make sense of all of this as an athlete going into the Olympics? I suppose it's where your from. I'm sure most of the competitors are so narrowly focused on their quest for the ultimate championship - an Olympic gold medal - that they may not know what's happening. But what if the Olympics are sabotaged by terrorism?

"Islamic terrorists planned to attack Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese locations with poisonous gas and explosives to sabotage the Summer Olympic Games, China announced on Thursday...The raids in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, also netted about 21 pounds (9.5 kg) of explosives, eight detonators, two explosive devices, and some propaganda materials for "holy war."" (

It sounds to me like this could snowball into what could be a vicious and "at all costs" summit to be deemed the King of the Mountain.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

So, uh, how'd I do coach?

The frustration of being outnumbered and lack of confidence to make any attempt of bridging today seeped in just as deep as the damp, wet rain toughened the course.

Ah, Boat Street. The rumple strips, the technical corners. The over breaking bottom turn. A classic - and only minutes from my house.

This early season dose of speed and endurance tested my will today and desire to do well. And unfortunately it got the best of me.

So now, in typical over analytical fashion - it's time to sit back, relax and learn from todays valuable lessons. Let's start with the bad and ugly:

- Not chasing down a single attack. I sat in the back half without popping my little red Incredible suite up front and at least attempting to real things in. Sure, TGH had a lot of ladies in the field - but come on! I could have at least gotten a better work out! I am so frustrated with myself in that I didn't express 100% of my ability - and have committed to myself to do so from this point forward. Even if that means burying myself in a hole and never crawling back out. At least then I'll know I did everything within my powers and tried. Believe in yourself and know you've trained - you can do it. This is what you train for - to test yourself in competition and show you are willing and able to throw it down. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

- Being behind freaked out ladies who were super spooked to go through corners fast. I know it's wet out - but the more you tense up, the more likely you are to crash. Relax out there and look through the corner. Get a motor cycle and it will help you 500%. My lesson - surge ahead of the scared ones and stick on the wheels of those who are confident in the turns.

Okay enough ranking on myself - now for the good stuff. My form is coming around! Yay! The speed is coming back to my legs and I'm able to sustain longer bouts of intensity. Yahoo! Linda was able to hang the entire race too - I'm so proud of her! Brook made an appearance as well - hung in for several laps and then cheered from the sidelines. No one went down despite the slick conditions. Lots of people braved the rain and cheered us on - thank you for yelling everyone!

For next time - have a game plan. Don't just show up to the race and play it by ear. Instead, mark someone or have some sort of action plan to kick some booty.

Now - back to lounging on the couch and recovering for next weekend.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I wonder how much more water you should drink when you're skin is sunburned. Yep, first pink skin of the year and I am excited to sport new tan lines. Never mind that my legs are throbbing right now and that I should kick the feet up and relax instead of sitting in front of the puter.

Racing today went well. Once again Suz and Jadine demonstrated their talent is way beyond the rest of the peloton and had a go at 1st and 2nd, respectively. Karen was sitting in the break for about 3 laps, before she popped like a pimple and couldn't continue surging up the hills. The pack reabsorbed her and we ended up sprinting for 3rd.

Annette unfortunately got caught up in a nasty snarl that took out Amara and Christie. Amara cracked her helmet - probably has a mild concussion and Annette dislocated her shoulder and headed to the ER. Christie might have mildly sprained her wrist - only time will tell if it's seriously injured. My thoughts go out to all of you ladies and I wish you a speedy recovery!

Volunteer Park is a fun course - it's not technical at all - but more a test of endurance and the ability to spin up the little hill. Power up it and you pay dearly once you round the corner and hit the false flat. I only figured this out about 1/2 way through the course - and then once I did, I had plenty of power left in the legs to give the final sprint a good run.

Tomorrow brings another Crit - the Brad Lewis memorial. I can't believe it's been two years already since he passed. I miss the guy. I remember the day of the crit two years ago, he told me to position myself well for the final corner and wished me well. Tomorrow I'm definitely racing with him in my thoughts.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The sun is out!

And it's supposed to get warm today!

Maybe it's time to leave my knees uncovered for the first time this year....

Lots of crit action going on this weekend - should be fabulous.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Correction: The Hickups in my GiddyUPs

Things went from dismal to worse.

I should have seen the warning signs.

First the trusty steed, then this morning the deader than a door nail motorcycle. I just replaced the battery last month. Suited up, hopped on - rolled 'er out of the garage only to hear a click click click of a drained 1 month old battery.

Oh but there's more. Much more.

Our lovely Golf has decided to go ass over tea kettle. We found out the long, hard, expensive way that mixing biodiesel and regular diesel wrecks havoc on all gaskets and fuel pump injectors. (CHA CHING).

The prognosis - it's not fixable by replacing the leaky gasket. Nope. We need to send this sucker in to some guy in Portland for $1305.11 plus shipping and tax or replace the fuel injector entirely for $1480. Not to mention it's probably time to replace the timing belt ($1,000 GULP) since they'll be in that area anyways and save us some time on labor.

So I asked the inevitable question - what if we wait till the timing belt breaks? To which both mechanics responded, "do that and you'll be replacing the entire engine."

You might want to cover your ears for this one, SHIT!

That gave me something to really start crying about.

The Hickup in my Giddy up

My poor trusty steed.

I've battered her, broken her, beaten her down. Yesterday I decided to try and salvage our ongoing abusive relationship and replace the now retired rear derailer with another used working one. But my wrench informs me that's the last hoorah for that poor Bettie and next time something breaks, it's time. Time to replace the groupo.

I cried myself to sleep last night.

I just couldn't get out of my head how many fabulous miles we've had together. Experiencing some of my first wins, STP's, foreign countries and down right EPIC days on the bike. But I can say I have gotten my monies worth out of the poor group set - about 25,000 miles. Who knows what the previous owner had tallied on it.

I'm a lot more patient now because of her, you know. The hesitations, the random shifts in her mood, her rugged appearance. Despite my constant abuse, she's treated me well and lived a good life.

Thank you steed. May your rear derailer rest in peace and know that the rest of your parts will be reunited soon in some sort of after life.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

At what point do training races become racing races?

What do you love about your sport?

After every race, I like to sit back, reflect and learn from what happened. It keeps your ego in check and allows you to rejuvenate your passion for sport. It's part of the process of being an athlete - learning to live with all of the various outcomes of competition and fueling the fire for the next attempt. I believe if you truly love your sport - you'll work your weaknesses, continue to grow your strengths and keep an open mind to trying new things.

Crits put a big fat smile on my face. The acceleration of speed coming out of corners, the sprinting, the positioning, red lining for an extended period of time. After I'm finished, regardless of outcome, I'm giddy like a school girl and pumped full of adrenaline. More than anything it reminds me how much fun racing is and gets back to the basics of why I race my bike. I can honestly say I've enjoyed every single crit I've been in.

Descents - I love gravity. Maybe it's my yearning for speed but I LOVE going fast and downhill through technical sections. Sticking to Miranda's wheel this weekend on the descents reminded me how fun it is again - and made all of the pain and exhaustion of climbing worth it. Experiencing it with someone else as you whisk down twisty, gravel covered roads at 45 mph is fantastic. Risk? What risk? The only risk I saw at the moment was not going that fast. :)

Time Trials - a true test at your ability to propel yourself forward. Making your chest feel like it was bleeding while your legs continue to pound out watts and pushing through the pain. Knowing it'll be over in a few moments and to just keep on going and giving it everything you've got. Talk about a natural high when you're finished and the rush of endorphins up to 10 minutes after your done. Full concentration coming into a corner, on the straight aways - working on getting the job done as quickly as possible. Pure bliss. (I know, crazy eh?)

Climbing - yep, you heard it here first. Sustaining high steady watts will ascending a mountain - which continues to twist up and out of sight. A true test to see how willing you are to push your body beyond what it reasons as finished. The mere accomplishment of cresting a hill and realizing you have just hauled you, bike, and your ego up a mountain. What goes up must come down. :)

I can't wait to race my bike again this weekend....

Monday, April 07, 2008

Another one bites the dust...

It's funny how a multi-day event will lead you through a range of emotions. The good - winning a prologue, the bad - losing quite a bit of time on Alpine, and the ugly - blowing my legs for two loaves of bread. (Don't worry that explanation will come later...)

But first, more of the good. Willamette is a 4 day early season stage race put on by the folks of OBRA. I also have quite a bit of family in the area so I was tickled to hit two birds with one stone. I made the venture South on Thursday morning to make it in time for the first stage - a flat 6.6k prologue in historic Coburg.

For some reason I was super nervous for the first stage. Partly due to my last TT fiasco and having limited time to warm up and then being nearly 2 minutes from my normal time, I was shaky and spastic. Luckily that nervous energy transfered to the pedals and I was able to express my ability. Again, it was only 6.6k but I ran it like a pursuit despite the constant protest from my legs and brain.

I headed back to Brownsville to put in some quality time with my neice and nephew - only to receive a call later from Martha letting me know I had won the prologue. Talk about shocking! No wonder it hurt so bad.

Day two brought an epic road race. Despite only being 43 miles, it was one of the hardest races I've done in a long time. It was raining so hard at one point it felt as though it was coming from the ground up. Not to mention it was chilly out - a balmy 38 degrees and lots of cold descents. Climbing was the only way to stay warm! My bike started squealing in protest - apparently the heavy rains dissolved the mineral grease in my rear hub and bottom bracket. Needless to say, this stage demonstrated that I'm working on the confidence chapter of bike racing - especially when it comes to hills and the ability to dig deep when things get challenging. (All in all excellent training!) It took about 3 hours to warm back up once we were finished.

Day three - downtown crit. Again, I was super nervous for the race. But as soon as the first lap rolled - I knew it was all about smiling and having a good time from that point forward. It was super fun cornering and hauling ass on the tight 1k course. At one point I was in good position for a prime - and won some loaves of bread. Yep, I sprinted for hippie bread. That's a first. Miranda got off the front for a bold solo move for the win - and the rest of us fought for scraps at the line. A little better positioning and bigger huevos would have resulted in a higher placement - but it is nice to get the first crit of the year out of the way.

Day four - AMAZING road race course with some of the funnest down hill sections I have ever done. I managed to stick on Miranda's wheel for the technical descent and we quickly got a gap on the rest of the chasers. Had I been able to dig a little deeper on the false flat leading to the final descent, I would have gotten on the Miranda train and finished a little better. But all in all - I did what I needed to do and get some additional racing miles in the legs. I definitely recommend this race to anyone who wants to experience some of the excellent roads the Willamette Valley has to offer. Thanks to OBRA for putting this on.

And a big shout out to my teammate Greg Arden for placing 2nd in the crit for the Masters field and holding his 10th place GC! Nice job Greg!

Coming to terms

I have officially come to terms of turning 30 this past Wednesday.

We got to reschedule our skydiving jump for Wednesday, April 2. Molly, Marcy, Ryan and I showed up at Skydive Snohomish around 5 o'clock to be greeted with tons of paperwork - basically signing any right we have to sue - away before leaping out of the plane at 13,000 feet.

Ryan and I were first to jump - wearing sweet jump suites and matching helmets.

We climbed aboard this tiny aircraft - only big enough for 5 of us. We then flew for 20 minutes to get up to 13,000 feet. The view was amazing. Ryan jumped first - strapped to Valdimere (who had over 13,000 jumps under his belt!) and as soon as the door opened, my heart dropped. Suddenly the reality of what we were about to do made my stomach drop. Out the door they rushed - shortly followed by me and my tandem partner Kelly.

Our free fall was about a minute long - the best sensation ever. My ears felt like they were going to explode though - and all I could do was look down to where we were going to land at 120 mph if the parachute didn't deploy. At about 3,000 feet, Kelly pulled the cord and suddenly everything was silent and it was as if we were gently, slowly gliding back down to the Earth. Talk about an unreal experience.

Next up - Marcy and Molly. Both sisters had jumped previously. Marcy in New Zealand, Molly in Canada. They were a little excited to do it.

It's an indescribable feeling being back down on the ground after that. Suddenly nothing seems as scary to try anymore. I highly recommend it.

More to come on the weekend's Willamette SR soon....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

How progressively cool is that?

Taken from the RSS feed from the Puget Sound Business Journal:

"Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wants the city's grocery, drug and convenience stores to start charging a 20-cent tax on disposable bags beginning next year and he also wants to ban plastic-foam food containers in the city.

The Seattle City Council would have to approve the measures, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2009.

Nickels says that both paper and plastic bags are "harmful to the environment" and banning foam food containers will reduce the use of "environmentally harmful plastics and cut the production of greenhouse gases."

Stores would keep 5 cents of the 20-cent tax for administrative costs and those retailers with less than $1 million in annual revenues would keep all 20 cents.

Both paper and plastic bags "harm" the environment, Nickels said, saying that paper bags, because of the "environmental costs" of logging and shipping, "are actually worse for the planet" than plastic bags.

"The answer to the question 'paper or plastic' is neither ... The best way to handle a ton of waste is not to create it ... Taking a reusable bag to grocery stores and pharmacies is a simple thing that has an enormous impact," Nickels said in a statement.

Banned foam products would include plates, trays, "clamshells," and hot and cold beverage cups. Seattle Public Utilities will hire inspectors to check stores to make sure they weren't using the products, Nickels' office said. "

The Islands Beckon...

My uncle Keoki lives on the Big Island of Hawaii. He has been surfing all his life. Last time Ryan and I visited him, he picked us up from the airport, and on our way to Kohala nearly got into a head on as he was checking the surf at Mahaiula Bay. (Located close to the Kona airport and is now a state park.)

Can you blame him? This place holds a very dear spot in my heart and I'm getting antsy to go back and visit the family soon...

Check it out - his little dog Maka surfs too! What a stud. No life vest either.

Here's a shot of the Bay - where my grandfather's ashes are scattered and hopefully mine too someday. It is magical.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

When you love something, how do you show it?

Do you remember to appreciate it day after day - through ups and downs and all that life might throw at you? Do you take the time to let it know how much you care? Do you smile when you think about the pleasure it brings you and look forward to spending more time together?

I think places can hold special spots in our hearts - just as much if not sometimes more than human interactions. These relationships enrich our lives - touching you spiritually, emotionally and physically.

A wise boxing coach once told me - you are the master of your own destiny.

If you've discovered a place, a person, or a thing, that touches you and makes you happy every time you encounter it - then logically you should be pursuing it, right? So why don't more people follow their passions? Why do they let the ordinary pressures of life get in the way? Why to they allow themselves to feel trapped and balk at the idea of challenging the status quo? Why don't they get outside and just be?

Do yourself a favor - the next time you find yourself some where beautiful - go back there. Do whatever it takes to visit that special place again. You owe it to yourself.