Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Simplifying Part 2 - Transitions

Well, since I've been partly outed, I guess it's time to get on with the rest of the life change confessions. I didn't want to come out last week, since it would seem like a copycat post after Lauren's. So, this week is the week.

Librarian Sarah
Yes, it's true. I'm going to become one of those book-worm-ish ladies who wears polyester double-knit skirts and comfortable shoes and my hair in a bun and horn-rimmed glasses. On a more serious note, I've been somewhere inside longing for work that isn't just about enriching shareholders (not that there's anything wrong with that) and building my own wealth (not that there's anything wrong with that - but it can't be the only thing). A great opportunity came up to use my technical skills within an academic library. So, starting next week, I will step away from the tech industry and into something very different. Technically, my title is "Systems Librarian". I will be working on the library web site and web systems, using social networking software to enhance research, doing my own research, and writing web modules to improve "information literacy" for students. I'll also be doing a little of this and a little of that, since it is a small library.

With this new role also comes the opportunity for a different lifestyle - one where there is more vacation and a more predictable work schedule. This will help toward our overall goal of life simplification.

Bella Sarah
Yes, I've decided to join the mischief and mayhem of the Velo Bellas for 2009.

After Rick's crash, I've been really uncertain about my own racing future and what I want to do in that respect. I knew I would not be the kind of fully committed team mate I needed to be for the Girls in Pink. It has been a wonderful 2 years learning to race safely from Lorri and then racing and training with some fabulous women. I am a true believer in the mission of what Lorri has built - to teach recreational cyclists skills and teach competitive women to race safely and with confidence. So, I still plan be involved in the club aspect of the program and clinics, in whatever way I can be helpful.

So, my main goal for 2009 is to just have fun with my own cycling and competition. And, with the Bella focus on fun and free-form structure, it is a perfect fit.

Monday, December 8, 2008

All shook up and "just married" again

Saturday, I got "all shook up" in the morning, during the Bay Area Women's Group ride. Photos by Sarah Bamberger here. My body hadn't seen zone 4 in a while. But, it was great fun to get out and mingle and meet a lot of ladies I hadn't met before. In the big group photo, I'm the amazon in the back row toward the left - pretty much dwarfing everyone else. :)

Then, after ample foodage and nappage, the Rickster and I headed up to the Yahoo Year End Party, where we got "all shook up" again. The theme this year was Las Vegas. So, of course we had to hit the wedding chapel, where Elvis renewed our vows for us. We had to sing our vows into the mike. Good times.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Hawaii Pix as promised

Well, I was going to post this little slide show last week, but then my service provider did the major meltdown on my site. Fortunately, things seem to have stabilized now.

Enjoy! I haven't had time to add fancy controls to the slide show, so you'll have to put up with every-three-seconds-rotation:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Apparently, my online persona is androgenous or slightly male leaning

I was reading over at Bike Snob NYC about a gender analyzer for blog. You can try it out for yourself here:


And, now to the surprising results:

Of course, after running mine through, I had to check cyclistrick's. This was his result:

We think http://www.cycle-tours.com/blog is written by a man (79%).

And, all this time, I thought he was in touch with his feminine side!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Overheard on the recovery ride this morning....

Passing by a new Specialties Bakery on the corner of Elis and Fairchild in Mountain View....

Rick: I smell cinnamon rolls.

Me: No, I think it's vegetables....probably brussel sprouts or beets.

Coming back past the bakery on the way home....

Me: Now, when you smell the vegetables cooking, think of all the healthy things we are going to eat this week.

Sometimes you need a little delusion to get through the day on the straight and narrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SF Measure K - Please Read Between the Lines

I know, totally off the "Tech and Cycling" topic. But, here goes....

This is one for all y'all in SF. One issue some of my friends and I have become involved in over the last few years is the movement against human trafficking (a.k.a "slavery"). There are more than 27 million people held in slavery in the world today - more than any time in history. Check out the "Not for Sale" project for some good reading:


So, you ask, how does this relate to an ordinance legalizing prostitution? Unfortunately, the Measure K ordinance is very broad and lacks any sort of regulatory protections for sex workers. While I believe that a good intellectual argument could be made for legalizing adult persons providing services of their own free will, I also believe this measure better serves the interests of pimps and traffickers than it does the interests of the workers. I think the second clause of the measure is what is attracting the support of folks. Certainly, crimes against sex workers should be investigated fully without regard to their profession. No one would disagree with that. Unfortunately, one cannot take half of the measure and leave the rest behind.

Here is the language of Measure K:
(from http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/11/04/ca/sf/meas/K/)
Shall the City: stop enforcing laws against prostitution; stop funding or supporting the First Offender Prostitution Program or any similar anti-prostitution program; enforce existing criminal laws that prohibit crimes such as battery, extortion and rape, regardless of the victim's status as a sex worker; and fully disclose the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against sex workers?

Here is what SF District Attorney Kamala Harris has to say about Measure K (I get the impression she is a thoughtful and wise person, generally):
Unfortunately, my office sees the faces of women and children being exploited every day. Many are brought to San Francisco against their will by human trafficking rings that force them into sexual slavery. Many speak little English and don't know their rights. Many are victims of pimps who control their lives.

All of them are scared.

Proposition K empowers pimps and human traffickers, allowing them to exploit their victims without repercussion.

If Proposition K passes, San Francisco's justice system will turn a blind eye to those who violate the human rights and dignity of their victims, encouraging these dangerous predators to come to San Francisco.

Proposition K forces police officers to disregard California's prostitution laws, strips ALL funding to investigate human trafficking rings and prevents my office from prosecuting prostitution- related crimes.

This measure will harm prostituted children, for whom enforcement efforts are often the only hope. Only by pursuing and prosecuting abusers can we find these young victims and give them the help they need.

Services will be cut across the board if Proposition K passes. City funding will end for re-education programs like the First Offender Prostitution Program and Early Intervention Prostitution Program.

Proposition K conceals the inhumane nature of prostitution and cripples efforts of law enforcement, human rights groups and social service agencies to assist those seeking to escape.

As a law enforcement officer, a woman and a citizen of San Francisco, I ask you to join me in voting NO on Proposition K.

Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney

Anhoo, just some stuff for y'all to mull over before hitting the voting booth.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

aaaaahloha....just what the doctor ordered

Yeah, I've been slackardly in my posting of late. I'll admit it. I've been slackardly in many things actually. But, now it's back to the grind.

Last Saturday, the 18th, we left for a long-awaited vacation. We'd originally planned to vacation last February in Maui. We were going to ride our bikes up Haleakala and to Hana and a bunch of other cool stuff. But, it got postponed, because the team I was working in was planning a major launch of our beta site and we had a ton of work to do before migrating all the users (100 million+) to the new site. Then, our team got all re-orged and that project was canceled. So, I found myself looking for a new home. After Kern, I found a new team and finally got settled in an area of the company. Then, the Broken Hip incident came down, which sidelined all plans for a while. Previous to that, we'd been in discussions with a mountain bike tour operator in Argentina about doing an October tour. But, that was obviously off the table after June. So, that is the long story of our long-awaited "consolation vacation" to the Big Island of Hawaii. Not that Hawaii is a bad fall-back plan!

The plan was to enjoy ample time in the water - be it swimming, snorkeling or surfing. And, we wanted to do a fair bit of easy walking, too, and maybe spend a little time in the car touring the island (but not too much). We basically left with no more plan than that, and hadn't even read a guidebook.

Saturday, the 18th, we arrived in Kona, HI late morning, picked up our rental car and drove south to find our condo. We located the complex and noted that Snorkel Bob's was practically right next door. So, we stopped in and rented some gear for the week. Then, we found a spot for a light lunch in downtown and headed off to shop for some provisions. We loaded up on toiletries that did not meet the 3 oz. rule as well as some healthy breakfast and lunch goodies for the week. We checked into the condo and got settled, and I spent the afternoon with my nose in a guidebook plotting the week. I struggled to stay awake through dinner, which was a tasty taro crepe place.

Sunday, we started the day at Lava Java, which we knew from Cathy to be a reputable place to pick up a morning brew. The Kona coffee was excellent, and we also had one of their cinnamon rolls, which was described by the tour book as "big enough to serve as a flotation device". I would later regret trying one on our first day, as it became a regular occurrence through the week. We attempted our first snorkeling adventure on Sunday. First we needed to find a small dry sack, since the rental car key had been permanently attached to the clicker, so the old safety-pin-key-to-swimsuit method would not work. We located something suitable and headed off to the beach at the end of the Old Airport for our snorkel. There was a bay there that was deemed OK for snorkeling, but better for diving. It was also extremely surgey with surf when we were there. Another bay a half mile north was supposedly great for snorkeling. It was inaccessible from the north, since it was on a private school land. The guide book directed us to take a short walk along the "lava strewn shore" to access it from the south. Well, 30 minutes of what could only be described as "bouldering" across a lava field (Rick with cane in tow), we finally saw the bay in question, completely packed with little kids on flotation devices and still 10 minutes of bouldering to get there. We cut our losses and turned back. Rick was a super-cranky customer at that point. We headed back south of town to the "sure thing" snorkel spot at Kahaluu Bay. It was calm and teeming with fish and turtles. Though, the corral reef was almost completely demolished by the tourists walking on the bottom with fins. So sad. But, a great snorkel nonetheless. Sunday evening was dinner at Kona Inn featuring decadent seafood and an excellent sunset.

Monday, we went on a coffee tour of the region south of Kona in the highlands. We stopped at Greenwell and Fike Farms. We had tastings and tours at each spot. After getting all buzzed up on coffee, we headed a bit further south to Puuhonua O Honaunau - or more simply the Place of Refuge. We checked the park and took pictures of some basking turtles. Then, more importantly, we checked out Honaunau Bay for the snorkeling. It was a beautiful reef in great condition. There were a few less fish than at Kahaluu Bay, but the reef was a great spot with a good variation of depths for lingering at the surface or doing some deeper dives. We arrived back in Kailua-Kona starved and headed to Kona Brewing Company for a very late lunch. It was great! We had just veggies for dinner.

Tuesday we headed out early for a trip to see the Volcanoes National Park. We saw the Halema'uma'u crater spewing ash and gas. We also looked at some of the prior eruption spots and walked through a bit of cloud forest to the Thurston lava tube. We opted out of a drive to where the lava was spilling into the ocean, because it was another 60 miles to the southeast and would require walking a mile over lava fields in the dark - not to mention a 150ish mile drive home after dark on sketchy highways. It was a good day with lots of driving and lots of walking and we were tired.

Wednesday, we bummed around Kailua-Kona and mostly rested. We did some swimming and sunning at the beach right by our condo. We also hit a taco place that was recommended in the guide book. We'd been trying fruitlessly to find it open. Well, we regretted actually catching them open, because it was the worst Mexican food I've ever had. I guess we're spoiled here in CA. The salsa seemed like nothing more than canned tomatoes blended. Even a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes would have greatly improved its condition. Fortunately, the day ended on a spectacular note with a beautiful sunset just outside our condo.

Thursday, we finally caved and plunked down some cash for a boat ride to Kealakua Bay for what is supposed to be the best snorkeling on the island. There were 4 options for arriving at the reef:
1. a 4 mile, 1300 ft. elevation change hike each way to the Captain Cook memorial on the north end of the bay where the reef is.
2. Drive to the south end of the bay and swim 1.5 miles across to the north end of the bay.
3. Rent a kayak from a sanctioned dealer on the highway, strap it to the rental car and drive to the south end of the bay for a 1.5 mile paddle to the north end of the bay.
4. Pay for a boat to take you to the north end of the bay.

Normally, Option 1 would have been a good pick for us. But, given the circumstances, we chose option 4. The boat ride was nice. They trolled for fish out and back and we caught 2 Ono. There was a videographer that took underwater video on board and then did an ecology lesson on the way back. The snorkeling was good - but probably comparable to the Place of Refuge. A lot of the fish left the reef when an earthquake knocked a lot of boulders into the bay a couple years ago. So, it's not quite back to its former glory. We had a great swim and I ended the day with a wicked sunburn. I guess 2ish hours in peak sun did it.

Friday, we toured the north part of the island. We started with a drive across Saddle Road to the bast of Mauna Kea. We drove up to the 9K foot mark at the Onozuka space center and checked out a small telescope looking at the sun and a sanctuary for silver sword. From a lookout, we could see the crater eruption at Mauna Loa and also the steam coming from where the vent is releasing lava into the ocean. The continuation of Saddle Road took us to Hilo and lunch. After lunch, we headed north and had a stop at Akaka Falls. It was one of the highlights of the trip. There was a walk through a truly lush jungle to the falls that had tons of flora to observe. We had a home made ice cream stop in town and then continued on around the north part of the island. We passed through the ranch lands of Kohala/Waimea in the north that looked like the area around Santa Barbara. One last stop took us to Anaehoomalu (A) Bay for an attempted snorkel. There was a storm coming in and the winds made it too turbid to see much of anything. So, we stripped of the gear and had a nice swim in the sandy part of the beach before heading back home. The sunset on the drive back to Kailua-Kona was the best of the week - a crazy light show of colors in the sky.

Saturday we headed to Kahaluu Bay for one last snorkel before turning in the gear. The weather was iffy, so it wasn't as clear as the first time we visited. But, we must have seen 30 turtles during our 1.5 hour swim. It was great! After that, we turned in our gear and spent the afternoon resting, reading and packing up our stuff. We ended with dinner at Lava Java (a first) and enjoyed some beef raised on the island in the form of hamburgers. They were too big to eat, so we should have shared one. Such decadence!

There's not much to say about Sunday. We had a leisurely morning and enjoyed our last Kona coffee and cinnamon roll at Lava Java before heading to the airport to fly home. I enjoyed our visit to the Big Island. I hope we can return someday to enjoy a couple of the more remote hiking things we were unable to do this time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Bread - you know you want it!

OK, a couple folks were asking Rick for the pumpkin bread recipe on Facebook. We were hoping to find the link to it online, but I'll just copy from the printout. This is originally from allrecipes.com circa 2002 and posted by user "v monte" (I hope this mention clears me of any copyright issues :) ).

Here goes - this recipe makes 3 loaves. We usually do a 1/3 batch. I'll put the 1/3 quantities in parentheses next to the original amounts for those of you who are not math majors.

3 1/4 c. (1 c. + 1 TBSP) flour - we like spelt and whole wheat
2 tsp (2/3 tsp) baking soda
1 tsp (1/3 tsp) ground nutmeg
2 c. (2/3 c.) solid pack pumkin puree
1 c. (1/3 c.) vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp (1/2 tsp) salt
1 tsp (1/3 tsp) ground cinnamon
3 c. (1 c.) white sugar
2/3 c. (1/4 c.) water
4 (1) eggs
1/2 c. (1/6 c.) chopped walnuts or raisins (optional)

1. Grease and flour one 7x3 inch pan per loaf. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
2. Measure flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and nuts or raisins. Beat unti well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake approximately 1 hour (use the old toothpick in the middle trick to tell if they are done).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fill out the Bay Area Women's Cycling Survey Y'all!

This got sent out to the NCNCA list. But, I know a lot of my recreational friends who have dabbled in racing and are not on that list might want to chime in. So, if y'all have raced in NorCal in the last year, please take a few minutes to give your feedback:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Some Interesting Reading

OK, so some other person on Hernando's blog roll posted this. I think it is an interesting hypothesis:

Also, I read a great book over the weekend:
The White Mary, by Kira Salak

I found the book to be engrossing from page 2 all the way to the end.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simplifying Part 1

The theme of my life for the next year is Simplifying. I'll have more updates along these lines as the next months progress. But, here are some things we're doing and some things I'm thinking about as part of the Simplification Strategy. Of course, when you get done reading this rambling post, you'll wish I'd applied the theme to my writing!

1. Clutter reduction
Neither cyclistrick nor I is a huge pack rat, so that is a good thing. However, our culture seems to encourage clutter ("Maybe I'll need this someday - I'll keep it.") I've always been pretty good about keeping the clothes clutter down. But, books are another story. Well, I'm happy to report that we purged 61 books from our stacks at home. Our criteria was "If I don't desire to read it again, and I don't need it for reference, pitch it!". Now, we're moving on to the bike stuff. We were going to sell a bunch of stuff, but in the interest of de-cluttering our free time (who has time to post all the stuff to Craigslist or Ebay?), we will be donating one entire bike and a whole shop's worth of parts & accessories in the near future. Suggestions for worthy organizations are welcome.

2. Dietary simplification
Cyclistrick wrote a good post on where we've been going with this line of thinking, so I won't repeat. However, don't be surprised if after some of the other simplification stuff happens we end up with some chickens and lots of produce in our back yard.

3. Freecycling
I've been intrigued with the idea of limiting the amount of "new" things I buy. I think I am going to try hitting consignment shops next time I need an item of clothing. The same goes for furniture stuffs. It might be good to try this concept out for bike stuffs too, though some things really need to be "new" (tires, chains, etc.) This idea isn't really well fleshed out. I'm just going to try the concept next time I need something.

4. Training simplification
Here is an interesting link to an article on one of the training topics I've been considering of late:

Another topic is moving to more "minimal" running shoes. I'd been giving this some thought for a while feeling like I was much faster running in my "street" tennies than in my running shoes, legs not feeling comfortable with the heel strike, and getting numerous blisters from bulky trail runners. Well, I'm happy to report that I ran 3 miles on pavement the other day in Kangaroos with no ill effects. Yeah, my muscles are a little sore, but that is to be expected. No blisters, no tightness in my lower legs, and I was a bit faster. I will give the theory another try on a trail run/walk next weekend.

So, on the topics of hydration and running footwear - my thoughts revolve around getting back to what the body was designed to do - without all the modern amenities we've cooked up in recent years. Sure, it's good to protect your foot from shards of glass, but other than that, is all the padding really needed? Could it in fact be hurting our biomechanics?

Yes, it's good to drink when you are thirsty. But, should we be force-feeding ourselves sodium solution while exercising? I'm willing to be convinced either way. But, there is an elegant simplicity in our thirst mechanism and just listening to it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Going easy requires much discipline, Chatterbox-san!

It's that time of year when we try to transition our brains from "Fast! Fast!" all the time to something a bit more measured. However, as I discovered yesterday, going easy also requires a lot of discipline! I was attempting to do a low-intensity, high-cadence workout. And, gosh darnit, there were times on relatively flat ground where I was going 10.9 mph. It was all I could do to swallow my pride and continue at a snail's pace. But, I must remind myself that this is what my body needs to repair and de-stress from the long season. Yep, it's the time of year to turn off the cyclo-computer and enjoy the view, have fun, and lose the hammer mentality (and forget about racing Harriet from Building E to work).

Monday, September 8, 2008

A little of this, a little of that....

Wow, I've been so busy working and not-so-busy cycling, that I'm a little behind in bloggy-land.

I took last week off for some rest and did goofy things like swimming and yoga and walking to work. This week, I'm easing myself back on the bike. I've had this nagging hip problem in the 2nd half of the season (likely related to the tailbone problem) and I've been doing some specific exercises to help strengthen and rehab things a bit. Adding some walking in the mix also seems to be helping.


I helped Velogirl coach one of her skills clinics on Saturday. We had a great group of women and it was a hoot. It would be nice if the weather man could arrange more moderate temperatures for the upcoming clinics. I lost track of the number of bottles of water consumed, but it was a LOT!

Master's Natz

The Rickster and I made a brief appearance at Master's Natz on Saturday night. After he fed me and I did some stretching and bathing, we headed down to Hellyer where we had to park about 1/2 mile from the track - not your typical Saturday night there. I located the keg while he was coming back from the parking area. I claimed a cup for him and one for me and parked on the bleachers. We saw a few people we knew, but definitely not everyone we were expecting. We watched the W30-34,35-39 points race, various match sprints and the M30-39 points race. At that point, I was totally fried, so it was time to go home. We had a crazy walk in pitch black to find our car again.


Yesterday I had an early morning hike with my fried Melissa to avoid the heat and then spent most of the rest of the day laying on the couch watching football - tis the season!

Friday, August 22, 2008

An end to my morning zen....

I went for my usual morning ride on Wednesday. Something was wrong. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then, I realized the previously quiet roads of Mountain View and Los Altos were jam-packed to the gills with cars. What was going on?

Then, I realized. These were no ordinary cars. No. They were almost entirely SUVs...and minivans...all driven by a particular demographic - white women in their early 30's to mid-40's. And, they were diving into certain driveways with no sign of yielding to me, the lowly bicyclist that stood between them and their prize. I can't blame them. If I'd just spent the last 12 weeks trying to entertain miniature people, I'd be driving like a bat out of hell to ditch them for 6 hours on someone else's doorstep, too....

Yes, it's "Back to School" which signals an end to the peaceful morning ride season. Only 9 more months till June!

Monday, August 18, 2008

back in the saddle

Well, I finally got back out and raced. It was a series of time trials at the track run pursuit style. The distances were 500m, 1k, 2k, 3k, 4k. I figured if it was just me and another sprinter on the track at the same time I would only have myself to blame for an injury! I had never done pursuit on the track, so I was looking forward to learning a new style of racing and laying down some hideously slow benchmark times that should be easy to beat next season! I figured I'd be hideously slow since I've never done a holding (non-throw) start on the track and because I haven't done anything resembling a maximal effort in a couple of months.

Of course, they had to start with the shortest event, so there was no time to ease into the whole holder thing. My first start was a comedy of errors. Somehow despite telling myself and being told by the holder to head down track, I headed up for a couple pedal strokes and then had to correct it the right direction. I'd just gotten that sorted out when I caught my shorts on the saddle on one of the strokes and had to sort of sit and disentangle myself before continuing with the standing portion of the sprint. About 100 meters in I finally caught my stride. I ended with 50.4 seconds. I look forward to killing that number in the near future.

The next event was 1k. I actually got a good start despite having some issues relaxing with my holder. I kept tipping to one side or the other, but somehow managed to start in a straight line. I finished in 1:40. I know, not that impressive, but not horrible either! Too bad this isn't a real track event for the ladies!

In the 2k, they put me up against Linda Elgart. And, in the next flight they put Cathy against Karen Brems. Hmmmm. Could anyone think of a possible pairing that might be better? I totally got lapped, and blew. My time was a truly glacial 3:48. By the time they finished the 2k events, it was 6:00 p.m. and I was STARVING! So, we called it a night and went out for some Afghani food.

I had a good time and LOVE my new shallow drop handle bars. Yay! Rick even got me some pink bar tape to make the bike extra-festive. I also wore the fabulous knee high striped socks that my mom and dad sent for my b-day. Cool socks always make racing more fun!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Finally some Olympic athletes with some meat on their bones!

I'll admit it. I'm an Olympic junkie. I'll pretty much watch any contest that's on - except for maybe boxing and shooting. However, I'll also admit that after watching 3 weeks of Le Tour back to back with 3 weeks of Olympics, I start having body image issues. Or, maybe just image issues. I want to be ripped and nimble and graceful like the gymnasts. I am none of the above. I'd like to dance uphill on my bike, with a BMI of 20 and arms so small I could wrap my fingers around the top - but no. I'd like to prance around confidently in about 6 square inches of bikini while running and frolicking about like the beach volleyball gals. I'm afraid one dig would have my chest pouring out all over the sand, though. And the thought of my belly flab jiggling all over in high def....well that's not a good picture.

So, imagine my surprise when the Belgian beach volleyball team of Liesbet Van Breedam and Liesbeth Mouha struts out to go head to head with Walsh and May. I mean those girls are big, and strong. And, they still look good in their bikinis (albeit significantly more substantial than Walsh). And, the blocker, Mouha, is like 6'4" and 195 lbs. Finally, a real athlete with a BMI resembling mine and an even bigger stature. And, the best part is that they actually gave May and Walsh a run for their money in the first set - putting them to 5 set points. And, one of them went for a dig and ended up with a cleavage-full of sand. A real athlete with some cleavage! Yee haw! Maybe there is hope for me yet!

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Phredly appearance on the Spectrum ride

So Saturday I got up super-early to meet a good friend who needed to chat for a hike. I decided that rather than driving to the preserve and then hiking and then coming home and changing into bike clothes for a bike ride, I would combine the two. It is about a 45 minute-1 hour ride to the preserve depending which route is taken. Perfect - a 1.5 hour ride and a 1 hour hike. That will be a good day.

So, I put the hiking shoes in my saddle bag (on the retro-Mondonico) and a lock. And, since I didn't want to look like an idiot hiking around the preserve in pink and black kit, I decided to wear a wool base layer and baggies with my tri shorts underneath. And, I wore my Keen cycling sandals that I use for commuting since those can be locked up to the bike with the helmet. I looked pretty much like the picture above.

So, fast forward a couple hours. It's now about 9:10 and I'm plummeting downhill from the preserve toward Foothill Blvd. I see the Spectrum ride pouring out from Homestead on to Foothill. I decide to close the gap (never a bad time for some race practice, right?). I drill it up to 27 mph in the little ring at some ridiculous RPM (not sure what since I don't measure much on that bike), wind whistling through my saddle bag and the little laces on my sandals going clippity clap at double my RPM. I surge past a few guys who are dangling off the back already and park myself on the inside next to an SJBC guy in the last 2/3 of the pack. Fortunately, my turn was only a couple miles up the road - otherwise I would have completely blown. I'm sure the guys were a little amused with the chica on steel bike with saddle bag, sandals and a wool t-shirt sitting in. They were also probably worried I'd take them all out!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Getting a longer leash

Well, we spent lovely morning on Monday with the x-ray technician and a lovely morning this morning with the orthopedic surgeon. The good news is that the rickster is getting a longer leash! He'll probably still feel a bit too tethered to me, but at least he'll get a chance to make a little mischief.

Stationary trainer = YES
Driving = YES (if supervised at first and in-town to start)
Weaning off crutches = YES (starting with one on the left and moving to none as he chooses)
Travel = YES (in late October - Hawaii, here we come!)

Cycling on the road = NO (Maybe in time for Thanksgiving, though!)

Meanwhile, in other news....

We're planning to take the momma and papa to Quebec next Sept. to ride the "Route Verte" for her 60th b-day - just in time to see the fall colors. The "Route Verte" guide just came today so we can start strategizing. Also, the route was just named by National Geographic as the best cycling trail in the world. So, I'm getting pretty excited about it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank you sponsors! A review of commercial sponsors for the Versus TDF coverage

Watching Le Tour this last week has reminded me that there are a plethora of products that could enhance my life if I can just part with 3 easy payments of $19.95. Here are some of the choice sponsors for your enjoyment:

Enzyte "Male Enhancement"
I guess they figure that all the cyclists must be getting impotent from sitting on those tiny, hard seats. Hence, the need for male enhancement. I'm not sure why there is a race car on the package though. Cause while I might want my man "revved up" or "firing on all cylinders", it's not a freaking drag race! And, stock cars kinda turn me off....

Perfect Pushup
I've had the pleasure of giving this product a try at the gym at work. Well, I can tell you, my pushups are still far from perfect and I still seem to be able to contort my forearms into all sorts of positions that the ergo people would be screeching about. And, I know I did as many pushups as the guy on the commercial, but my abs still aren't ripped. Perhaps that's the fault of the "Perfect Pizza" in the cafeteria, though....

Bullseye Fisherman
This is a slingshot for your fishing pole. It promises to let you cast your line anywhere. Next time I feel like I can't climb an overpass, I will simply crawl under it and cast my line into whatever urban drainage canal lies beneath. There's nowhere I can't put my line with the Bullseye Fisherman. Whether or not I want to see what come up when I reel it in is another question....

Listen Up
This sound amplifier promises to make it easier to hear sermons and church and eavesdrop on your neighbors. Hmmmm. But, maybe the part where it appeals to the cycling audience is where they show the guy working out at the gym listening to the ladies across they way talk about how fit he it. Maybe the boy cyclists will want to hear what the lady cyclists have to say about them on group rides (or not).

Vacuum Sealer
This product allows you to buy a bunch of fresh food and then vacuum seal it so you can store it in your freezer until the next ice age, or until racing season is over and you can think about cooking again.

Forearm Forklift
Cyclists are notoriously weak in the upper body. Therefore, the forearm forklift will come in handy for moving large pieces of furniture around the house. The only problem is that none of us have room for any furniture, since all the livable space is taken up by bikes.

Pet Jet Washer
This product promises to reduce pet washing time by combining the shampoo and rinsing into a single, handy gadget. And, who couldn't use more time for training? However, in my experience, the process of getting Fido into the bathtub is what takes all the time - not the washing process. Nice try, though.

Find Me Spot
Finally, someone came up with a product that might actually appeal to the target audience! This is a satellite locater where you can push a button and contact international rescue, or just have your friends track your journey on your blog. This is the perfect gift for your favorite cyclotourist!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Adventures

In addition to chauffeuring, shopping, cooking and gardening on the weekends, I have managed to get out for some cycling adventures. Though, since I am on my own, there are no fun pictures to show :(

This weekend, I did a couple of favorite loops in Los Altos Hills. It's a very hilly route, and I worked on climbing accelerations as intervals during my climbs. I was doing great until Moody Rd. steep part when I thought I was putting the dérailleur in the spokes. Turns out it was just my left pedal starting to die. Sigh.

Sunday, I decided that since I had my mountain bike out and prepped for last week's Dirty Velo Girls ride, I could do another MTB ride. Unfortunately, we don't live super-close to any trails. And, I absolutely abhor the idea of driving my bike to a trail head. So, I wandered 9 miles to the south to hit some new trails I haven't tried in the Steven's Canyon area. I left from the Reservoir area and looped back into the other side of Cupertino. The Coyote Ridge trail was a good cut-across. It wasn't technical at all, but made up for it in steepness. Yikes. It was lowest gear full-on humping with sternum to the bars and butt in the seat due to just enough loose gravel for traction to be an issue. Wow! That worked me over. Fun times!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sending out good healing thoughts and prayers

Well, we went down to the Hellyerdrome to watch the Friday night races tonight. I guess we were hoping to bring back some of those formerly happy track feelings aided by Hefeweizen and Velo Bella cheer. All was going splendidly until about half way through the women's points race when 4 riders went down. All riders were conscious and talking, but Sabine and Donna went to the hospital with some pretty serious fractures (we think). Dorit went with clavicle break and Christain (Jr. racer) escaped with just scrapes and bruises. They weren't even going that fast, but it was an awkward crash.

Anyway, we're thinking of all of you! Please let us know if you need anything.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tailbone update

Well, Rick really stole my thunder with the whole hip thing. Now, my tailbone incident seems quite silly, really. Anyway, a new harder seat was put on the bike a few weeks ago with no change in fit. It seemed better, but I got my first real test last weekend when I did a 3+ hour ride with some steep climbs. My sit bones were a little tender when I returned, but the tailbone was just fine. Yay! Phew! No more inflatable donut for me!

Monday, July 7, 2008


Well, it's been a wild and crazy few weeks. I have been really busy playing "Sarah Nightengale" and not riding my bike as much as I should. But, I've pretty much written off the rest of the season anyway. I may make a swan song at San Ardo if everything aligns for that.

But, I've been giving some thought to the whole cycling thing - not sure where to go next in that aspect of my life. I like the whole racing thing, but not sure if I am willing to risk an injury as serious as the one Rick has (or an even worse injury). At the same time, I'm not interested in being a phobic who locks herself inside and misses out on life for fear. What is the level of risk I'm willing to accept? I just don't know the answer to that question.

I've had a blast racing on the track, but that is where I'm currently most petrified of riding due to a couple serious crashes of late. I love road racing, but am not particularly suited to it. I've never come to love the crit. Yeah, I can be more competitive there, but it's scary and kinda boring to me at the same time (and maybe that's just the W4 races with their general lack of tactics and inexperienced/dangerous riders). But, am I willing to put myself out there long enough to move to that next level. Am I willing to take the risk? I don't know.

So, I've got lots of pondering to do before next season. Maybe I focus on TT and hill climbs and enter Kern and a couple road races that I like and call it a season. Maybe focusing on TT and climbing will make me competitive in the road races. Maybe I'll go back to the evil triathlon land. I don't know.

Bottom line is: what kind of cyclist do I want to be?

Monday, June 30, 2008

not so fast there, cowboy!

Well, we finally followed up with the surgeon today. She is pleased with his progress and says that these things tend to go better for athletes. She also indicated that she cycles some. Then, we talked about his injury and surgery.

She said it was a "very serious" injury and that his bone was basically shattered in a "high energy" impact. There was apparently traction and a whole box full of hardware needed to get the thing back to some semblance of normal. She is also not sure this will be the end of surgeries, but she is hopeful.

I asked if his x-ray was good in two weeks and if he cleared the blood clot check today if he could think about riding the trainer in the garage. She said "absolutely not!". I guess that was a definitive answer. She basically said not to count on anything for the first 8 weeks. She is going to monitor him every couple weeks until then and then see how things progress. I'm sure that's not what the Boy wanted to hear. In the meantime, he will enjoy his "exercise" on crutches and moving the ankle and leg around as much as possible.

Looks like our vacation this year will likely not feature mountain bikes in Argentina and will more likely feature tropical drinks and a beach - not that there's anything wrong with that!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

cookie monsters and Rick's massive quads

Well, one of Rick's dreams has finally come true. He now has massive quads - well at least one massive quad. I bet he is in the 60cm club. Now, nevermind that this measurement comes in large part due to swelling and that it has the definition of a tree trunk....it is quite impressive.

Our new hobby is eating the two dozen cookies that were sent to us by some of our cycling buddies (you know who you are). I'm sure our quads will become even more massive in the near future, due to our new hobby. Thank you for the super-food!

We're getting along OK. Rick is getting more mobile each day. As soon as he gets a little more comfortable, generally, I think he'll be itching to get on the wind trainer. We'll see what the surgeon says next week.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Home so soon?

Wow, at 10:30 this morning, I was busily trying to cram in some work on a big presentation I have to give on Thursday. The phone rang, and it was Rick saying he was going to be discharged. I said I'd plan to be there around noon. Then, at 11, he called back to say they wanted me to come get him. Well, we got him in the car (no small feat) and into the house (another not-small feat). I fed him some lunch and got him all doped up for the afternoon. He's been sawing logs for the last hour or so. I took the opportunity to get some shopping done. Phew!

So, no shower for 3 more days. No driving for 3 weeks and no "work" for 6 weeks. I'm pretty sure he'll be working from home this week. But, he can take his time. They can wait until he's ready.

I'm glad he's home. I missed him the last couple nights. It's going to be a busy time!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Today's Update

This morning, they had Rick up bright and early with the physical and occupational therapists. He spent about 2 minutes on the walker and asked to be "upgraded" to crutches. He then did the full length of the hall and back and showed them he could get up and down from the toilet and in and out of bed. The therapists were giddy at his ability to get around. We're hoping he can come home tomorrow or Sunday and then we'll get a little routine established here. He was also taken off IV meds and fluids and oxygen late this morning, which is another good sign of his improvement.

Thanks again for all your emails, voice mails, visits, posts and offers of help. We so appreciate our community of friends and family!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quickie updates on Rick

Hi all.

I just came home for a brief moment from le hospital. Rick had a crash at the track last night, as some of you may have heard. By about 12:30 am he was cleared of all head/neck/spine trauma. Good news. Bad news is a femur fracture, just below the thingy magigs that hold the hip into the socket. He had surgery starting about 12:00 pm today and emerged by 2:30. He's had a couple brief conversations, which I'm sure he won't remember. Keep sending good thoughts and prayers for speedy and incident-free recovery.

Thank you Michael for your kind words, Sabine for taking care of our stuff, Linda and Erika for brining our car to the hospital and Ali and Lorri for checking in and helping with communication stuff. Thanks to everyone else who's asked how he's doing. And, most of all, thanks to my mom and dad for coming up on short notice to lend a hand!

More later.


Monday, June 16, 2008

A huge pain in the butt (literally)

So, I've got this new injury/problem related to cycling, and it is a huge bummer. Ever since Kern when I ride my racing bike, I end up with pain around my coccyx (aka tailbone). Sometimes it is a mildly irritating pain that is gone the next day. Sometimes it lasts several days. When I ride my other bikes it is OK. And, it kind of depends on the length and muscular intensity of the ride.

I broke my tailbone when I was in junior high, and it feels about the same. Kind of creates an aching sensation in the back of my throat like whacking a "funny bone".

Yesterday, I incurred the worst episode of this problem so far. We did a 3 hour ride with some short climbs - keeping it aerobic (meaning I was mashing at times). I felt pretty uncomfortable on the bike the entire ride. Couldn't seem to get comfortable with seat, hands, feet or shoulders. When we got home I could tell it was not good. But, I spent a goodly amount of time stretching and relaxing and took some NSAIDs with dinner. Then, we slathered it up with some icy hot (being careful not to color outside the lines with that!) and headed to bed.

I was feeling pretty good during the night. No lingering pain and was able to find a good position. Then, about 3:00 am, I did some sort of a strange movement and ended up causing a stinger in the nerves around the tailbone. I have not felt pain that intense in a long time. I contorted myself and hobbled to the kitchen to find the ice, but unfortunately woke up the Rickster, too. Sigh. The icing helped a little and I was eventually able to get back to sleep around 4:30. Ugh!

Now I need to figure out what is causing the problem and eliminate it (hopefully not cycling generally). But, I did a loop of the Pescadero course on my other bike on Saturday (equally mashy on the hill climbs), and felt great afterward. So, it's clearly related to my racing bike somehow.

Anyone else have this problem while cycling? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

So, so far behind, but I now have upgrade points*!

*OK, so upgrade points were mostly obtained due to some attrition in last Friday's track ominum when some of the ladies preferred beer drinking to racing another Chariot race.

Apologies to all for the lack of posting. I've had some unexpected circumstances arise in my non-cycling life that have led to many hours of focus away from blogging and cycling. More on that later!

Anyway, the Velo Girls were sponsoring the track races on Friday, so I had to race, right? This was my first night of 'real' racing. We did 30 lap points, 2 x chariots, 2 x Keirin (or is it Kierin - Michiko is going to kill me) and were supposed to do a miss-n-out. But, all the ladies were pretty spent after 5 races and opted out of the 6th. I pretty much stunk in the points. Hey, there is some pretty rigorous competition out there! But, fortunately, the ominum was comprised only of the chariots and K...n races. I got 5th or 6th in the first K. Then, I got 4th (I think) in both the chariots. I've never been held before and was super-slow off the line, so not too bad considering. I was next-to-last in the last K. I know the chariots are pretty basic races, but they are all sorts of fun! I was like a kid in a candy store after those with a big-'ol grin on my face! But, I ended up 3rd place overall. Wooo hoooooo!

Then, I raced again on Saturday morning and got totally spanked. I'll try to add some pics soon.

Later y'all!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Getting Schooled...

and I don't mean out on the bike, which I'm pretty used to these days.

Time has come for me to update my mad programming skillz, yo. Turns out my skillz are pretty old skool and I need to get some modernization. You know, I've spent every weekend racing lately and prior to that studying for 3 years while doing the same 'ol, same 'ol at work (on a business to business site). So, no time for exploring new fangledy, consumer-facing stuff. Topics of study for the weekend:

1) Object Design (yeah, this one always needs work)
2) AJAX with OO Javascript (need to wean myself off of procedural land and get something more exciting than basic effects going and maybe throw in some web services).
3) Review CSS standards and techniques
4) YUI implementations (focus on themeing and animation stuff)

Should be fun times! Anything I can't work out on my own will require some more formal schooling, I'm afraid.

Monday, May 19, 2008

That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger...Kern County Stage Race 2008

Wow! What can I say? This race was an epic, hard, hot, amazing, supportive, redemptive, all-around learning experience. I think I loved it (especially now that it is over)! Thanks to Velopromo for putting on this beast of an event.

Thursday 5/15 - arrive in Bakersfield and pre-ride TT course

We arrived on Thursday afternoon to temps at 101 F and got settled in our hotel. Rick and I lowered the body temps by hitting the pool while waiting for team mates Velogirl and Dana to arrive. They came in about 2 hours later and we headed off to pre-ride the TT course. Team mate Lala wasn't rolling in until late that night, so it was just us 3 out on the course, until we ran into the Protechs and Minties out there! We did what I would call and easy endurance effort for most of the pre-ride and my heart rate was solidly in the high 170s to low 180s (max somewhere in the mid 190s), and it was 6:30 at night and we had light winds. Not a good omen for the 1:00 pm TT on Friday. But, the good news was that I loved the course. It was a good course for me and my style of riding. Yay! Oh, and it was really pretty out there in the late afternoon light.

We had a nice dinner at "Wool Growers" - a Basque restaurant. Highly recommended for those who might have an opportunity to wander into Bakersfield. Good pre-race feed.

Friday 5/16 - 1:00 pm - 10 mile Individual Time Trial near Arvin, CA
photo courtesy of Styler
We had a leisurely morning, eating at IHOP and swimming to keep the core temps low. The teammies were prepping their bikes, and Velogirl had a mechanical right before we were supposed to leave and had to swing by a bike shop, but fortunately it was a quick fix. We arrived at the course at 11:30 and set up our tent for the much-coveted shade. Temps were hovering around 102 F. At about 12:30, we began a lethargic on-road warmup. In addition to the high, high temps, the wind was whipping from the east at a good clip. The wind felt hotter than the still air. Incredible. It was not a refreshing wind. This also meant we were going to be going into the wind on the outbound leg. I was pretty confident I could break 30 minutes before arriving at the course. Upon arriving, my goal switched to "just survive". I no longer cared how I did, just so long as I was alive at the end and able to recuperate for the next day.

The course heads up a false flat for about a mile, then descends fairly steeply for about 1km, then continues up a false flat through a canyon to the turnaround and then returns. As I descended into the canyon, it felt like the temperature went up another 5 or so degrees. This was where the battle with my mind began. I had a Camelback bladder full of ice and electrolyte under my skinsuit that I would draw from each time I thought I was going to puke or die. I finally got to the turnaround where Hernando was lovingly heckling. I was looking forward to having that east wind push me back to the start. At first it did. I was cruising 27 mph, my heart rate had 'dropped' to 189. Then, the wind shifted, and I was pushing again. When I hit the hill to climb back out, I almost caught my 1 minute man (Lala), but then I was crawling up the grade and looking for one more gear that wasn't there. She pedaled back away from me, but I finally came over the top and fought the wind to finish in 35 minutes and something. My heart rate was pegged at max for the last 5 minutes. Pretty awful. The good news is that everyone else was awful, too. So, in the end, VG got 15th place, me 18th, Lala 19th and Dana 22nd. I was not last. I had redeemed myself from my last place finish at Madera (although with an even slower time).

We had dinner at Mimi's Cafe, which was tasty. We even shared an apple crisp between us. Delicious!

Saturday 5/17 - 9:00 am - Walker Basin circuit race near Caliente, CA

We got up at 4:45 and grand slammed at Denny's. I had the almost all-carb option - pancakes, oatmeal, hash browns and eggs. I couldn't eat it all. We left at 6:00 to head up to Walker Basin via a 1 lane road into the southern tip of the Sierra Mountains. After many miles of climbing, we arrived at 4,000 feet in the Walker Basin, a fairly green valley, as compared with Caliente, at town just on the western side of the ridge of mountains. The temperature was cool! Like 80 F. Hoooray! We did one lap of the course as our warmup. It was a 7.5 mile loop with a series of stair-stepping rollers on one side, long, flat, chicanes and then a 1km climb to the KOM (or QOM as the case may be). The climb was definitely a power climb, but just a shade beyond what I can power climb right now. So, I had to dig through the first 500m and then get out of the saddle and power over the last 500m.

We thought we were doing 4 loops in our category. But, when we lined up, we found out we were doing 5. OK, it was time to relax and allow for a mental adjustment. Our team took control for the first 1/2 lap with Dana, Lorri and I in the lead and Lala tucked in. Then, we were ousted by some folks who thought we were setting up for a 1-2-3 on the QOM and attacked with a BIG surge. Dana popped and Lorri slipped back to work with her. I clawed my way across some gaps to rejoin Lala in the peloton. I wasn't fresh since I'd been on the front for quite a while. Then, the hill came pretty quick. I went as hard as I could up the hill but was still gapped. Lala looked good. Rick was in the follow car and went around me. I was NOT ready to give up. I chased until I got up to Rick. Took a deep breath and hammered around him back to the group. Hooray! 2 victories. Then, just as the lead girls cleared the feed zone, they were out of the saddle hammering. I was near the back getting a bottle and enjoying a shower. Crap! I got out of the saddle and hammered back into contact. But, then we hit the 2nd stair step and they hit it again. Yup, that was my last match for a while. I saw Mo from Roaring Mouse pop off about 200m in front of me and yelled for her. But, she just kept going. I chased hard for half the lap and she finally sat up so I could catch her. Apparently, she was trying to hold me off since we were close in GC and she wanted to put some time on me. But, I was gaining on her, and she realized she'd rather have company. So, we worked together for the next 2/3 lap. Just was we were coming out of the feed zone rollers the 3rd time, Lorri and Dana caught us, and we were now 4. We worked all together until the last lap. I dropped my chain while trying to shift and got it back on just out of the feed zone. I was also sucking on a GU when Mo rolled a little off the front. Lorri and Dana were just ahead of me and wanted to chase, but I needed to finish the calories, so I delayed us a bit. I guess Mo decided she had enough of a gap at that point to make a go of it, so we chased hard, but didn't catch her. We got close. I ended up sprinting up the hill after her, only to arrive about 5 seconds too late. There were lots of positives for me in this race, even though I'm not quite at that road race sticking point yet. I'm getting closer, though.

After the race was over, it was about 90 F temperature and rising. We sat under our tent shoving as much food and water in our faces as we could manage to recover for the 2nd stage of the day - a long, steep hill climb. And, we celebrated Lala's 6th place finish! Yay!

Saturday 5/17 - 3:00 pm - Halivah (Hell of A) Hill Climb - Halivah, CA

This race was scheduled to start at 3:00 pm. We rolled into town about 1:00. Halivah was just over the ridge from Walker Basin at about the same elevation. However, Halivah was in a hot pocket, so it was again over 100 F. We took refuge in a historic one-room schoolhouse. It was not air-conditioned, but it was well-insulated and cool. A local lady had laid out cookies inside for the racers. How cool is that? I laid on the wood floor with my feet up on a chair and dozed off for a bit. My body was not cooling down. My heart rate was not dropping below 80 - even lying down. Crap. Not a good way to start the hill climb. I soaked my kit for the climb and threw a 3rd water bottle in my pocket. We started uphill and within 1/2 mile, I was dropped on a steeper gradient in the 'flat' part of the course. I had some sciatic pain bugging my right leg and killing my power. I think the hard efforts in the morning race brought it on. I just dialed in my effort and started climbing at my pace. Right before the turn onto the 'main' climb of Breckenridge Rd., I was passed by the 35+ group which yelled encouragement as they went by. About 1.5 miles into the main part of the climb, I became the lantern rouge and the broom car came up behind me as I had just walked my bike about 100m over a steep section. He asked if I was doing OK and was wondering if I was OK to go on. I assured him I was and kept going. I got water from the Bella crew at the first feed and poured it over myself. Some sections I could 'spin' at about 60 rpm. But, some I was standing just to get over in my lowest gear. Chief Ref Mike drove by and yelled some encouragement. At about 5 miles into the climb, I stopped again and the broom wagon came up. He said I looked shaky and he was concerned and was I sure I wanted to go on with 8 miles still to climb? At the pace I was going, I thought it was going to take me another 2 hours. I was starting to doubt my judgment of my condition and whether I could make it healthily to the top and I felt bad about all the other athletes being held up there to wait for me that long. So, I let him sag me.

I was crying and disappointed in myself. About 1km further up the hill, we caught up with Lorri and Dana who looked good and were climbing pretty well. When we got to the top, it was only 8.2 miles, not 13 as we'd been told. So, I didn't have 8 miles to go, but only 3.2! I talked to the refs about it and let them know that I would like to at least 'roll out' with the peloton on Sunday, even if I was officially out of the race, just because I wanted the experience. They graciously agreed to let me keep racing despite my failure to finish the climb. When we got to the top, Jaime from Roaring Mouse was having a bad case of heat stroke. That was scary and I told myself maybe I had done the right thing. I don't know. I bolted down the hill with the front group of Bellas. It was a bit of a nerve-wracking descent, but still fun.

Rick and I bee-lined for town to have dinner at Joseph's Italian restaurant with his sister, her husband and their 2 kids. It was nice to catch up with them, despite the meal being only marginal. By the time we were back at the hotel, I was doubting whether I had another race in my body. I was super-tired and very stiff and sore and my whole body felt swollen.

Sunday 5/18 - 8:30 am - Woody Road Race, Woody, CA

When we arrived in Woody at the Beard ranch, it was HOT! Hotter than in Bakersfield. The course was 2 loops of 24 miles each.

But, they had a nice hose and I drenched myself before the race from head to toe. I even soaked my feet to delay the onset of hot foot. We did a half-hearted warm up on the trainers. The race started with a brisk descent. I was a little worried about the Category 4 handling skills and starting downhill, but we all survived. Then, in the first incline, one of the girls rolled off the front and all hell broke loose, and I felt that sciatica as I tried to cling to the back of the pack. I heard Lorri behind me yelling to keep digging. But, I could not maintain contact. So, she and I started on our 44 mile duo effort. Her goal was just to finish. Since I had not completed the hill climb, she would get the lantern rouge award if she finished. We blazed through the rolling section at lower elevations, exchanging pulls in a well-choreographed TTT. We played cat and mouse with the 45+ girls and chatted with them on each exchange of the lead. With 8 miles to go in the first lap, they finally left us for good. We crawled up the 5+ mile grade, descended into the Valley of Death and slugged up the last km to the finish. As we came through, I was a little worried about the increasing heat. It was well over 100 F at this point - probably 104-105ish. I had already been through 3 water bottles and had 1 poured over me.

My goal for the 2nd lap was to take every water bottle I could get. At the end of lap 1, I picked up 1 in the feed. Then, we came across Robert, the race promoter at the end of the big descent at the start of the rollers. He gave us each a bottle. Then, we came around to the Hernando and Russ feed zone and took 2 more and a spray on the neck each. At that point, I had 2 full bottles as we headed into the last big push. During the long climb, I would douse my head each time we were turning into the wind or into a slight decline to air-condition myself. I kept drinking as much as I could and taking GU regularly. We finally got to the last km and I knew I would make it. It turned out we had pretty even splits for the laps despite the 2nd feeling harder and slower. I drank 8 bottles and had at least 2 poured over my head during the race. That was my saving grace. I actually felt OK, though completely depleted. And, I actually needed to pee within 15 minutes of getting back to the ranch! That was a huge victory. I have now learned to race in the heat and not put myself in danger. Now, I just need to learn to "go hard" as opposed to just surviving an endurance-pace ride.

We had the award ceremony. It was great. Lorri got her lantern rouge. All the stage winners got their hand-made-by-Robert trophies and the overall leaders got their prize money. We loaded up the cars and headed home by about 2:30. I was proud of myself for persevering through the last stage. I learned a lot about myself in this race and managed the heat better than in any of the other heat-wave stage races. I even did OK for myself in the TT and circuit race. The week of rest last week gave me just enough oomph to get through the race, and I'm glad I did it. I actually think I will come out of this race stronger as a result. I was really proud of my team mates for their individual and team efforts. I will definitely be back to Kern if I get the chance!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How it all began....

Thanks, Dad, for sending these photos! This was my first 'real' bike - a Schwinn Stingray - best Christmas present ever! It was white with pink chain guard and a sparkly banana seat. Also, note the yellow blanket, which is my secret weapon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Time to get cooked...

in more ways than one.

I think Kern will be my biggest fitness challenge since the half Ironman way too many years ago. I hope my sitting at the desk 12 hours a day and eating takeout training plan will serve me well!

OK, time for some positive self-talk:

I love heat. I'm so glad summer is finally here. I can't wait to race my bike in the hundred degree weather. I will reward myself with a nice float in the pool. I never swim anymore, so it will be a rare treat! Maybe I will even out my tan lines.

Hills are great. I love hills, because when I get to the top and look at the view I feel proud of my accomplishment. Well, if I can see through the smog of the inland empire, that is.

It will be fun hanging out with all the other women-folk and team mates. We will also get a brief visit with some family that we never see, because they live in Palmdale. And, the only reason we would be out in the middle of nowhere like that is if we are going to a Velo Promo event!

Somehow my life will be enriched by this experience!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just call me Brooke Shields....

...yep, I incurred bicycle commuting hazard #2 today. Doh!

The good news is that our little commuting challenge team is in 19th place in Santa Clara County - out of about 100 teams, and we've been in the top 10 a good portion of the time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Recommended Recovery Week Activities

I'm getting a little extra recovery this week, because I refused to listen to my body over the last month and pushed myself into over-trained land. I'm trying to nurse myself to Kern and then will probably try a little rebuild after that. So, since I've been pretty good at lazing around this week, here is my list of stuff to do while recovering.

Grooming - Me, the house, and the car

Getting a hair cut is a good thing. I've been in a growing phase with that, so just went for a trim. But, it was in need due to a lot of racing on Saturdays (my normal haircut day). Then, my stylist said she got new glasses and could tell that my eyebrows were in need of some pluckkage. So, I thought since I didn't have any crazy training to do, I'd let her have at it. I've never had a professional brow job. I have to say my normal makeup-free appearance is significantly improved.

Then, I decided that the 3 inch layer of pollen on the car needed to go, plus it needed some gas. So, off to the Magic Bubbles for a little grooming of the car. Of course, it already looks like crap again, since it pretty much sits in the driveway for days or weeks on end just collecting what is floating around in the air.

Then, I got home and realized a lot of clutter was piling up. It took me until this morning to finally get on top of the clutter. But, I got bills paid, junk mail shredded, paperwork filed, voting done and got the magazine collection thinned and tamed (kinda like my eyebrows).


What better way to while away the hours than with a pile of Netflix? However, it is recommended that there is napping while watching Discovery Channel nature programs in between the movies. Here are some that I particularly enjoyed lately:

- The Painted Veil
- Into the Wild
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
- P.S. I Love You

All of the above are guaranteed tear-jerkers. This is perfect if you are over-trained, because you feel like crying anyway, so it's better to direct it at scenarios far removed from your own life. Then, once you purge over 2-4 movies, you will feel much better (mostly due to sitting on your butt for a couple of days)!

Mental Training

This recovery activity is also known as read every book, magazine and e-book you have on nutrition, racing, training and strategy. This will help remind you not to get over-trained in the future and will also help you visualize punishing the competition with some vicious tactics come the next race where you actually have the ooomph to do something other than sit in.

Another good way to mentally train is to go to a race with your team mates and hubby. Instead of racing yourself, you help them pin numbers, warm up and then cheer and take pictures. Even if your pictures are total crap, since you haven't learned to take pictures of races, they will appreciate you being there and giving it a try.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A little graduation present for me...and the Rubber Band

So, I could attend graduation ceremonies on May 17th, but I'd rather be at Kern. So, instead, I decided to hook myself up with some primo regalia. That chrome is for the summa cum laude, baby! I finally caved, because I keep making my back sore racing bikes that don't fit me at the track. A sore back is not helpful for my training in general, so I'm adding yet another bike to the stable....

OK, so on to the philosophical portion of the blog....

Our minister was giving an interesting analogy this weekend about the spiritual life being like a rubber band. Where you are supposed to be is at one end and where you are is at the other. And, ideally, there is some tension there with the aim of pulling you to where you are supposed to be. But, often, we relieve the tension by lowering our standards, rather than moving toward where we should be.

I was thinking that this analogy also works in bicycle racing and other athletic endeavors. We need that tension between where we are now and where we want to be in order to make us better. Lowering our standards to relieve the tension does not work, but it is a big temptation. This is the sand-bagging phenomenon - entering races that are below ones level to induce a false sense of accomplishment. On the other hand, pushing our expectations too hard, can lead to over-tensioning or 'snapping' of the rubber band. It can lead to despair and burn-out. Finding that mental balance is the key. Putting your expectations high enough, but not too high. Letting yourself be challenged is the key to improvement. For me, this is a difficult balance and one I will try to achieve in all areas of my life.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday Night Track = Good for the Soul

I haven't been writing, because I had my crappiest race of the season on Sunday, and was struggling to come up with positive thoughts. But, I'm happy to report that we went to the track last night, and things are once again right with the world.

So, back to Sunday. The Wente Crit. It should have been a good race, as I was coming off my first build period and had been in a recovery week. So, fitness-wise, I should have been gangbusters. But no. The heat combined with a HUGE delay in our race (hoping all the ladies who crashed in the prior race are healing up!) conspired to completely shut down my body. After sitting in the heat for several hours, I just had no energy at all. My legs were heavy. And, I was hungry to start the race because I hadn't brought enough food or electrolytes. The end result was that I popped during the second of two preme laps and was unable to claw my way back to the peloton. It was rather disappointing and disheartening. The silver lining is that my team mate, Lala managed to get 5th place - her first podium finish. And, another team mate who was trying her first crit hung in almost to the very end and managed to have a lot of fun! Yay!

OK, back to the track! There was a good showing of ladies last night. Beth, Alicat, Velobella, Marscat, Ippoc were all there, along with a couple non-blogger chicas and we had a junior boy and a senior man, so they gave us our own race. On the rail a couple of younger guys tried to sneak on, but I said we only wanted girly men, and that seemed to get rid of them. Between Ali, Beth and Erika, there was almost never a moment's rest between attacks. I was able to hang with quite a few of the moves, but sometimes not. I was able to claw my way back in a couple times, which made me happy. I even was able to lay down a couple attacks of my own. I can put out a real big burst when I am recovered. But, when I am already sitting at red-line, that is when I have a hard time matching the attacks of others or putting on my own. In that situation, I am hugging the apron, just trying to stay attached with all my might. So, I guess I need to work on Anaerobic Endurance as well as trying to raise my threshold a bit. Because, I can still put out a good surge, even if I am sitting just below threshold. Oh, and I got one heck of a cramp in my right calf during the first race, which probably means I really screwed up my electrolytes on Sunday....and, I realized that one cannot stretch out a cramp on a track bike. I tried riding with my heel down for a while, but couldn't completely work it out until we stopped.

So, it was a super-fun night. I got to work on a lot of stuff and got to learn from watching the more experience racers, which was cool. Thanks for the good times, ladies!

Monday, April 21, 2008

My new team!

OK, I know I lured you over here with the salacious headline. Velo Girls is still my real team. But, I've joined team #46 of the Team Bike Challenge for Bike to Work Month - the "C&C Cool Commuters".

I'm writing to encourage you to take up bike commuting in the month of May, or at least give it a try. I know - you already ride like 200 miles a week, and the commuting will just be "junk" miles. It will tear into your already overloaded leg muscles. But seriously. Us hardcores need to embrace the transportation and advocacy aspects of our sport a little more. It will make the roads safer for all. And, we really do need to cut down on our consumption of the fossils a lot more. So, what better way than fueling the commute or errands with some GU and Simbree energy snacks (like how I worked the sponsors in there?)?

I've noticed that since I became a RealCyclist(TM), my utility miles have gone WAY down. I used to ride to the start of group rides. Now, I'm worried about over-doing the fatigue. I used to bike commute pretty much every day. Now, I really try not to on rest days. I used to spend my weekends going on meandering rides out the front door. Now, I drive my car like 200 miles in a day to take my bike to a race. Anyway, time to get back to it! So, for the month of May, I'm going to try to ride to work every day. And, bank errands must be combined with bike rides. There is no reason I can't schlep a check that needs depositing in my jersey pocket on a training ride. I hope some of you will join me. If you commute it entirely out of reach, then try making short errands by bike or riding to the start of group rides that are 10 miles or less away from your house. Together we can do it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ahhh, the hot iron just lifted off my brain

Well, after 5 hours in my comfortable, air-conditioned office with plenty of cool water and temperatures outside hovering 20 degrees lower than yesterday, I have finally come back alive.

The oppressive heat of Madera was sitting heavy on my brain, and it just lifted like a stiff, velvet curtain. Ahhhh.

My 2nd trip to Madera had an entirely different focus than my first. Last year, I just wanted to try and finish a stage race. This year, I wanted to improve my TT, manage my hydration better, and work on pack management and positioning in both the crit and RR. Also, this would serve as a mini fitness peak that I will build from for my real peak. So, in essence the weekend was one big training block.

For most of the crit, things were going really, really well. I moved up all the time, all over the place - through the middle, on the outside, only burning matches when necessary and stealing a lot of wheels. I was feeling great about the race, overall. Then, with 4 laps to go, there were 2 hard surges at the time of the preme - maybe the preme and a subsequent attack? Anyway, I survived the first surge, but not the second. I did pair up with Julia from Dolce Vita and we minimized the damage and stayed only 1 turn behind the pack. But, they pulled us with 2 to go and penalized us 3 minutes! No way were we down, nor were we going to be down 3 minutes. Oh well. They were overly generous with me last year, so I guess it all balances out in the end. As I was chatting about the race with Hernando, my rear tire BLEW like a gunshot. I guess it was a blessing I was not hammering a sprint on that thing.

The TT was HOT and painful - just like last year. I did approach it with better hydration. I think the only time I was without water bottle to mouth this weekend was when I was peeing or pedaling like a banshee. Otherwise, I was sucking down the fluids. I did 33 minutes. I thought I had done 36 minutes, so had a 3 minute improvement over last year. But, I mis-remembered. It was 33 last year, too . I guess if I was more on the ball, I would have written last year's time down ahead of time. Bummer. I've been able to consistently TT 20.5 mph for an hour in training at home - even with the wind. I guess the heat and crit take a lot more out of me than I know. Sorry to all of you to whom I mis-represented my improvement - I didn't mean to!

Yesterday, I had no desire to road race. The only consolation was that I figured no one else did either. So, I started despite an overall feeling of heaviness and lethargy. We had a mentor with us, which was cool. She gave us lots of good pointers. I was very assertive and made sure I had shelter for the time I was in the pack. Things were pretty mellow overall, though there was one hard effort when a Velo Bella rider went off the front 5 miles into the race and for some reason, the pack felt like it needed an all-out, single-file chase. How about a nice, slow reeling in? No rush, right? I survived that onslaught and made it through the horrible pavement section. I moved up to 2nd wheel just before the hills, knowing I would need every advantage. But, I just didn't have any hard effort in my body yesterday. It was dreaming of hammocks and tropical beverages. No way was it going to be dragged kicking and screaming uphill. So, I popped. I limped up through the feed zone, tossed a bottle and picked another one up from Rick and headed for lap #2. Last year, I put myself in seriously scary heat-stroke land finishing the road race. I decided I would not push myself to that level of deficit again this year. So, I chased at a manageable pace for the lap looking for someone to work with. I knew there were a couple behind me, but suspected they had already pulled off. I could not catch those in front. So, I pulled out. That's not something I usually do. But, with no new lessons to be learned and nothing to gain but a serious hydration deficit, I pulled myself out of the race. I drank my chocolate milk and we bee-lined for a late lunch.

Thanks to Rick for all the support and encouragement this weekend. It was nice to have my honey along for the adventure this year. Thanks to Sabine for recommending The Vineyard, which provided a most-excellent and tasty Saturday dinner. Thanks to the teammies for emails, phone calls and text-messages of support. And, thanks to all the ladies (and guys) out there who made it a fun and safe weekend!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Some Interesting stuff to chew on and some serious perspective-changing reading!

So, I've been wiling away time on this lazy morning perusing the Rivendell Reader. Normally, I find Grant's ramblings entertaining, sometimes perplexing and often "not for me". Though, I have drunk the Rivvy juice in terms of riding with a higher handlebar. I really don't care if I look like a Phred on my racing bike. All of you who think zero-rise stems are the only way to go, well, I don't care. My back doesn't hurt anymore and I can breathe and see what's going on around me. Anyway, enough of that!

There are two articles in this edition that are fascinating. Neither is by Grant, but that's OK.

The first, which is the one that is interesting to chew on, occurs on pages 15-17. It's called "The Primal Blueprint: Maximizing through Moderation", by Mark Sisson. It has shades of the Paleo Diet. However, the article actually delves into training and our human evolution. It basically proposes that we are designed to go VERY slow (think walking and zone 1 riding) for long periods of time with occasional "balls out" sprinting efforts. It suggests that long hours of high-aerobic and threshold work actually make us age more quickly, because our bodies have not evolved to that type of effort. And, that endurance athletes are killing themselves just as quickly as the couch potatoes. FYI, this dude was a serious endurance athlete and coach for many years. So, some interesting food for thought.

The seriously perspective-changing article is one on pages 24-27 entitled "How Not to Talk to Your Children - the Inverse Power of Praise" by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. This is intended as a parenting article, which I would normally read the first paragraph of and then dismiss as completely irrelevant. But, this one sucked me in. It really helped me understand my own psychology in how I approach racing and some other things in life. Basically, it proposes that praising kids for "being smart" is counter-productive, because they underestimate the value of effort and give up on things that are hard and may make them appear dumb if they fail. Conversely, if you praise children for "trying hard" or give specific praise around something they did well or a good strategy, it empowers them because it puts the variable of effort within their control. I'm probably not doing the best job reiterating, so you should just go read the article.

In any case, there was an example of students who were half praised for smarts and half praised for efforts being given the option of taking a test and spending time after examining their performance against the others in the class or spending time after learning a new strategy that would help them next time. Guess which kids chose which? Yep, this explains a lot. I have a lot of natural abilities which I was praised for growing up, which is a great thing. However, I think I've been bred to ignore the power of effort and the learning process and only look at results. And, hence, I have given up too easily on things that are hard and make me appear dumb at first try. I want to be the person that takes time to learn new strategies rather than immediately focusing on how I did against the others. This is also true in my web development career, which is why I'm undergoing a bit of an identity crisis this year, but that's a topic for another post. :)

Anyway, I'm going to try to change my own outlook on competition and achievement. And, if you want to give me a compliment after a race, tell me something specific I did well, or give me something to learn. Please don't tell me I'm fast or strong. I'm now here to learn and improve, not compare myself to others and keep up appearances (at least that's what I'm telling myself). And, I need all the secret strategies I can get! :)