Monday, July 29, 2013

How to get your best power numbers ever.

I could see the thunderstorm in the distance. The sky touched the ground in dark purple and grey as a crooked flash of lightening sliced through the undefined clouds. The wind was still at my back, making my pedaling easier but bringing me closer to the storm.

I saw the landmark cell tower in the distance, summoning me to turn east. I kept glancing at the 20 mile wide storm cell, willing it to head north. Follow the wind, I thought.

Follow the wind.

And it got closer, and closer. I could feel the electricity in the air on my face. It brought moisture and panic, all at once. My mind started racing as the wind shifted dramatically. A cool stiff gust pushed south, directly in my path.

I kept riding.

What if I ride through the middle of that?
What if I get struck by lightening?
What if? What if? WHAT IF?!?

A flash illuminates the sky. I'm still listening to my iPod and I miss hearing the thunder. I can't count the seconds between the strike and the boom. I feel it though. Its hiss is on my right shoulder, the boom surrounding me in all directions. The sky overhead looks like a deep skin bruise full of yellow, purple, blue and blood.

There's no where to hide. There's nothing for miles. And there's no traffic on this desolate road.

I ride faster than I have ever ridden before. I don't look at my power meter, I ignore my screaming body. I put my head down, tucking into an aero position and ride like my life depends on it. I ride through the wind, outpacing the storm by only a few miles per hour. If I can just make it to town, everything will be okay.

I have enough sense to capture this moment. If I just make it to town, I'll have another tool to draw upon when I'm training and racing - one that taps into the most basic survival instinct.

I keep pushing and pushing and then the rain starts, slowly at first. Could that be my own sweat? I look down at my top tube and see that it's wet. I increase my pace, and keep my eyes on town. It's getting closer as the drops grow bigger.

If I can just make it to town....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Holding Hands

A weekend of firsts....

Friday night Benjamin and I headed to the track for some racing. Earlier in the day I received a text from Maddie saying that Cari was running a Madison clinic for interested ladies and asked if I would be interested in helping out.

"OF COURSE!!!" was my response.

I love the Madison! Better yet, I love sharing and teaching others something I feel passionate about: holding hands and going fast as humanly possible.

What is a Madison? Why it's a disguised track points race. One where you and your partner dosey doe while other teams are doing the same on a bike with no brakes. It's wild, it's hard, it's dangerous. It's AMAZING.

Pat McDonough set up an exhibition women's Madison night and the ladies rallied. We had 10 women show up, ready to give it a whirl. Cari paired the experienced racers with the non in a 20 lap non-competitive first ever Colorado Springs 7/11 Velodrome Women's Madison! I had the honor of flinging Amanda Cyr into the race while she shot putted me into the corners. We had a blast!

I am so excited about this. And even more thrilled to be a part of a new movement, again. (I might have had a little something to do with the Madison scene at Marymoor. :))

Afterward, Ben and I got to hold hands in the men's 50 lap Madison. Around and around we went, going blow for blow with Jo and her partner Dave, Sarah and Cari and then getting lapped multiple times by Colby and Jake. I will say this: the competition in Colorado is the best in the country.

I have the best partner in the Universe.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Winning in Life

I've composed over ten blog entries in my mind over the past couple of weeks. They come to me when I'm just about to start an interval or go uphill. They get lost during the exertion, only to be forgotten hours later when I have the time and brain power to get them down on paper.

Life is full of cycles. The warmth of summer lingers, as do late season races and goals. Except this year is different. I'm not going to Master or Elite Track Nationals. This year all of my hard work and dedication, intervals, sacrifices, perseverance and grit paid off: Shawn and I will be racing at the ParaCycling world championships.

Ten years of work and now a career defining opportunity is on my doorstep. I am so thankful and grateful for the opportunity. And I'm thrilled knowing I have the huge support of my community, family and friends behind me. When I stand on top of the podium, know that I'm thinking of all those moments, big and small, that have brought me to this moment, this now.

A quick visit home last weekend helped me realize just how much I love my life now. I love where I live, in these purple mountains. I love the sunshine that shines brightly everyday. I love that Benjamin and I are growing older together. I love that as I type, Moonli lays snoring a few feet away, my loyal office companion, while Makiah lays on her bed in the other bedroom. I am feeling lucky, lucky indeed.

From ProVelo Passion Image by Mary Topping.
Taken from the Photo by Cliff Grassmick
Love, your newly crowned Colorado State Crit Champion. BOOM!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Taking Stock

What really matters:

Enjoying this moment, right here, right now.

Being grateful for life's opportunities.

Letting those I love know it in so many different ways.

Never giving up.

Looking at the sunniest of sunny sides.

Exploring, playing and in search of adventures.

Laughing, heartily.


Saturday, July 06, 2013

How Failure Helps You Win.

"Failure is the key to success, each mistake teaches us something."

That was my mantra during several moments of todays' race. Not that I was throwing in the towel by any means. Even after having a strange mechanical where our brakes engaged and felt like someone threw on the emergency brake, seeing the pack get a little too far away and then chasing with everything we had, every ounce of fiber, as the men's and two women's tandems went up the road. But we just couldn't close the gap, and they galloped away. The National Championship Title just rode away.

This can't be happening, I thought. Oh shit, Shawn. I'm so sorry.

My mind turned a switch. It went from savvy, confident racer to being off the back. My heart grew heavy, my demeanor changed. Shawn could feel it, she told me afterward. I knew the exact moment it happened. That little voice of self doubt creeped in... and I tried pushing it out. I tried shutting it down. Tried telling it to "SHUT UP LEGS!" But the move went up the road. And my head hung heavy.

Tandem racing is unlike any other thing I've done athletically. It pushes you in so many ways. It demands strength, skill, speed, legs, grit and hard work. It requires 100% trust in your partner. It's an equal effort, we both want it bad so we train hard to get there. Individually, I work on all of those things. I practice and cycle, go to sleep and then repeat. My life is built around doing just that. So when you're tested, truly tested to the core and that foundation gets raddled by a poor performance, it makes you think. It makes you re-evaluate things. It makes you try to figure out what, when, why and how.

Regardless of what exactly happened today, I know I have some things to work on. Yes, I would have loved for a perfect performance today, especially for us and for Shawn. I would have loved to be zipping up that National Championship jersey up to our chinney chin chins. I would love to be looking at Shawn while standing atop the podium and celebrating our success. But today was not the day.

Today was not the day.

But tomorrow is another opportunity, another chance to get stronger. We have a world championship to crush. That will be our day.

(PS - We did get selected the world championship team yesterday!!!)

Friday, July 05, 2013

Team Shawnifer Updates

Greetings from Waterloo, Wisconsin!

It's the day after the 26.5 km time trial, in the early morning hours, watching the Tour and doing a little catch up and all things outside of the cycling world. Well, the world outside of my own little cycling universe. Funny how it tends to consume everything. And by everything I mean every waking moment is centered around being on the bike or being off the bike and making the most of recovery time, especially in the summer time.

We had a great ride yesterday. The ten days Shawn spent with me in Colorado Springs was time well spent. We dialed in our standing sprints, our accelerations and momentum carried over the hills and cornering. We still have more work to do - but are off to an exciting and excellent start. 38 minutes 3.5 seconds of putting pain in the back seat and saying yes to pushing through the rolling farm hills of Wisconsin.

We'll find out by 2pm central time today the world championship selection for late August. If selected, we'll get more and more time together on the bike for training camps in preparation for our debut in Quebec.

In the meantime we're trying to find funding to purchase our own racing tandem, which will replace the American Blind Association's stars and bars loaner we have been super lucky to start on. Cycling is a crazy expensive sport.

We're working on PR and getting a website up and going. If you would like to contribute to our quest toward world domination (website design, donation ideas, fundraising, creative housing ideas, etc), please contact me! It takes a village....