Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend Racing Report



This past weekend I rode two crits--the first one was in the rain and I felt great. I attacked, chase, and cornered and then was able to get a gap going into the last lap for the win. We ended up taking a 1-2 punch for our team, which always feels good.



And then I got the leader's jersey for the series. It turns out that leader's jerseys are bad luck for me as my other crash happened in a leader's jersey. (Do you think it would be ok for me to say, I appreciate the jersey but I'm going to have to graciously decline?)


The next day in the crit, I was in my leader's jersey and all was going well. I got into some short-lived breaks off the front with a Tibco rider, had attacked, bridged, etc. Then on the last lap, I had set myself up right behind the leader for the back stretch. I had spent the past three laps sitting in and getting rested for the sprint. I couldn't wait to see how it went. I mean, I was riding with the cream of the crop--sure she just got back from a total exhausting tour in Europe and had been so fried she couldn't get on her bike until the day before--but still, let's not focus on that part :) Back to the story. I was on Tibco's wheel around the last corners to the final stretch. But alas! when I followed her around the corner, my 1 year of bike handling experience versus her 15 years showed. I slid out. I'm not sure if I feathered the brakes, if the ground was starting to get wet from the drizzle, if I accelerated too soon or what, but the next thing i know I was on my left side on the ground.

COLLARBONE!

After quickly moving my arm to see that my collarbone was ok, I immediately jumped up and grabbed my bike. My first instinct was to jump on the bike and finish. I HATE DNF's! But then I didn't know if the whole bike would fall apart if I jumped on it, etc.I learned a lesson in safety the last time, and applied it. (Two gold stars for me.) And I also noticed my hand was pouring out blood onto my glove and shoes, etc. Something had punctured my hand. It was odd cause I can't figure out what it was. All I knew was that I was thrilled that I was ok, and everyone else that crashed was ok, too. Oh and so were our bikes. The medics were like, I can't believe you're so calm. I just raised my arm over my head. I'm calm because my collarbone is ok! Woo hoo!

Anyway, so here I am scraped up and swollen, waiting patiently for the scabs to arrive. I got three days until Hood. I need some major scabbage to heal my wounds so I can TT the mofo out of that place :)



I guess that's a part of bike racing. I was thinking that crashes go away with experience--as I continue to try to learn from my mistakes--but then I'm remembering all the footage of crashes in the pros. Hmmm...Whatever the case may be, it's worth it. I'm sure about that.

P.S. Oh and speaking of carnage, check out my car tire and rim from the week before.The tire rolled off of my wheel while in I-5. I barely felt it and then saw it in my rear view mirror, rolling onto the shoulder. "Hey! That's my tire" I thought. I was in shock but then quickly learned how to change a flat thanks to my detailed owner's manual.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Category 1

June 6, 2009 was the date of my first road race. I raced the Second Ascent Criterium. I had no idea what hold your line meant (sorry to the ladies in that race!), what a prime was, what the pit was, etc. I just knew I liked to ride and I wanted to win--and I had a shiny white Hagens Berman kit on--my first brand NEW kit. Despite my ignorance, I managed to ride safely on the front of the pack (I didn't know what drafting was either.) and I won, which fueled my excitement for road racing.

Today, May 25, 2010, less than a year later, I requested my upgrade to become a category 1. I was about 8 points away before I busted my collarbone and 4 weeks later, I made it!

This is a proud moment for me and I wanted to share.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why Support Women's Cycling?

An awesome interview talking about what it's like to be a professional women's cyclist: Why Support Women's Cycling?

Michael Engleman, a former professional cyclist--and my coach! I feel so lucky!--compares and contrasts the differences between the opportunities and life of a professional male cyclist versus a professional woman cyclist.

Thanks for your support USWCDP!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...and Then Three More Steps Forward

It was supposed to be a weekend of fitness, but I feel like I made progress in more ways beyond my VO2. I learned a lot about myself--ups and downs--and I also got to connect with other riders this weekend.

So, it went like this.

Time Trial: 3rd place. A lot of breathing on my part, shifting of gears and thinking, "This one is too hard. This one is too easy. This one is too hard but my cadence is the same if I move to the easier. Am I really breathing that hard? Am I tired? Go harder. But you're tired. Oh here's a corner. BRAKE! Well, weenie, you didn't need brake on that corner. Where is that riser? Oh there it is. Oops wrong gear. Am I spent now? Weenie! It's only a 10k, etc. etc." I was happy with 3rd. I thought I bombed it. I was happy I didn't crash around the corners. And I got to sport a Spencer Chiropractic helmet! In other news, Tricia killed it--putting 18 seconds on me. That's a ton in a 10k TT.

Crit:  29th--EGADS! Rain.  8 corners. Freezing. I was horrified. I immediately got dropped from the front group and then pulled myself lap after lap trying to catch up, but before each corner I braked hard and then rolled through the corners. I was scared. I didn't want to crash. Cathy Varland came around me to assist, but I couldn't stay on her wheel. Some friends in the second group encouraged me, telling me I could do it, but I felt so out of my element and so fearful of crashing, that I was just like a deer in headlights out there. This put 2 minutes on my GC time. But worse, my confidence was completely shaken. I was worried about myself as a racer. I know I'm hard on myself but the whole experience seemed unreal to me. I was working as hard as I could and just could barely stay on the second group. I didn't know how those girls did it--they were so fearless and here I was shivering in the back, trying to catch up each straight away only to fall back after every corner. I went home and made a serious effort to forget about the race, but I was still depressed the next morning. I was scared. I thought for sure it would be "so easy" to jump back in. The crit was a reality check for me that I still have some progress to make.

Road Race: 2nd place. Comeback! 58 miles, 4 times up Mud Mountain. A group of 10 of us drilled mud mountain the second loop, organized quickly, and took off. We ended up getting a significant lead on the peloton and flipped the GC results. I felt good about the amount of work I did, I chased, attacked, worked, encouraged, congratulated, etc. I felt like I was beginning to become myself again, testing my limits--which still aren't all there--but I felt like I was making progress. Plus, it felt good working with a group to make the race hard--I had no chance of winning the GC at this point and didn't even think about winning the race. I was just excited to put passion into my race.
I also had a chance to ride with my teammate Sally Fraser, who was a pro rider in New Zealand and huge supporter of mine. We took turns drilling it up the hill and after the race, she said, "Oh Jen, how I wish I was 29 again." She's incredible. I ended up going from 10th in the GC to 5th from this road race.

Here's a photo of me drilling it up Mud Mountain the first lap. Photo from Wheels in Focus. Thanks, Amara.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Claw

I'm racing the Mutual of Enumclaw this weekend. I'm super psyched to get out there and see how it goes. It will be my first "real" race back--you know, with race wheels and stages (time trial, crit, road race) and the whole get up.

Anyway, people keep calling it Enumscratch but all I can think of when I hear Enumclaw is that claw scene in the movie  Liar Liar.
 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Right Now

After consulting with my new coach--Michael Engleman, I took on Pacific Raceways as my first "race" back. (Let me pause and say, seriously, how much more rad can the USWCDP--and Michael Engleman--be? But I have to give a ton of credit to my first coach and dear friend, Beth Lyndon-Griffith who taught me how to ride, corner, jump, descend, you name it!)

I rode down there from West Seattle with a couple of Cucina Fresca women (Jess Cutler and Amber), putting in a nice 1:45 warm-up. I kept asking Jess, how far? Are we close? I was just so excited to race, I didn't want to miss the start. Of course, she explained her wise theory about getting there close to the start time so we didn't stand around and get cold. Ahhhh. People who use their brains always amaze me.

Anyway, I chose to ride with the men's 1, 2, 3 group--as historically, it tends to be quick and forces you to ride smart. I figured now is as good of time as any to get back into shape and see if I can hang. Oh and tonight we rode the "escape route," so there was short power hill to punch up with each lap of the 2.5 mile course.

I decided to try to watch my buddy, Logan Owen, as he owns every hill he comes across. So on the first lap, after realizing that I felt totally confident on my bike, I followed him up the hill. He looked over at me and smiled, saying "You got your game face on!" That made me feel really good.

But alas! My game face started quivering after a couple of laps. I realized I couldn't punch up that hill and then expect to pick up the pace into the headwind as many of the strong guys were doing. There were times when I was panting hard, just trying to catch a wheel in the peloton--but there were other times when I felt good and was near the front even after giving a few guys a run for their money up the hill. That made me smile--not because I gave them a 30 second run for their money (I'm sure they schooled me at the finish--as I still have a lot to learn about riding smart.)--but because I was racing and I felt like myself, but just in a different skin.

After the race, I smiled and said, "I'm alive! I'm alive!" and then went to congratulate my teammies, Joe and Logan, on their jaunt off the front. I also wanted to give the race director a hug and say thanks for putting the race on, but it is every week and I'm sure he wouldn't have shared my sentiment about expelling my fears that I wouldn't be the same on the bike or I wouldn't have the confidence to ride, etc. And I'd probably just seem creepy. I'm kind of good at that, too.

Back to fear. What fear? Oh wait, yes, the fear Jess and I had when riding home after the race on the Green River Trail. I kept saying, "Oh it's perfectly safe. I think the Green River Killer only murdered 50 or so women, give or take." Or every time we'd see a person sitting alone in the dark along the trail, I'd say "Oh that's not creepy at all... no, not at all...he's probably just looking for his dog or something."

But when it comes to bikes, no fear. Just like the t-shirt. I'm loving cycling and my new bike--Biscuit. Yep. That name is the final decision for my Blue bike. Biscuit--short for "C. Biscuit."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Entering Wheeler County

Each day I am feeling more and more like myself. Every day I can move my arm farther above my head, I can push over a hill just a little harder, I can sustain my LT just a little longer. It's awesome because I missed it so much in the few short weeks I was gone.

Martha Walsh sent me this photo--she saw it during her climbing trip in Oregon this past weekend.


When I saw the photo, I thought yep. It's that time again to test my strength and to push my limits with my sights set beyond the PNW. I can do it. It feels good to say that.

...segue to some not so "pro" stuff...

My ride today was delayed by three hours as I walked to the bike shop and found a temporary replacement for my 5 month year old wheel. I guess riding in the rain and not being diligent about cleaning your brake pads will do this. I'm just glad I wasn't riding downhill or fast at the time when my wheel went clunk clunk KABOOM.


Oh and my teammate and co-star of my former blog, Lindsay Felker, pointed out to me that I had bird shit on my helmet. Oops. I knew I needed to replace my helmet (when my helmet gets dirty, I throw it away and get a new one....no, not really, I crashed in the helmet, and although it was all intact, I knew I needed a new one ASAP now that I'm riding outside.) But alas! To find a helmet that fits!



Today, I checked helmet off the list. Meet my shiny white helmet. Ooolalalala.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Motivation

My favorite video of the year. Thanks to my supporter and friend, "RideItLikeYouStoleIt" Hamilton :)





Excited to be there again real soon.

Getting Back Into It

An injury can easily become a woe is me party and the start of your demise (I've been there before with the ups and downs of collegiate running.) OR as I'm recently learning, it can great motivation to take care of yourself even better than you were before.


In the past week, I've had five doctor's visits (Copays suck!) 1 PT visit, and 1 chiropractic adjustment--who knew my vertebrae wasn't moving correctly after smacking the pavement?

I've also ridden a bunch outside, made new friends, gotten my butt kicked on some hills and puked up an orange slice after hitting the infamous "red zone" of training, gotten a lecture--more like needed guidance--about burning up your fitness during training, cooked a bunch of recipes from my new favorite blog: enlightenedcooking.blogspot.com (Spinach in muffins is actually really good!), watched a track meet at the Marymoor velodrome--but most importantly I've been having fun and smiling. I haven't felt stressed on the bike this week and that's awesome.

So psyched to race again. Just a couple more weeks.
In the meantime, here at Apartment 210, we're cooking up a storm. Here are some of my recent whole foods, everything from scratch concoctions:

Vegetable Soup









Homemade Lara Bars--Yum!








Superfood Blueberry Flaxseed Meal Muffins









Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins









and just plain ol' Portabella Mushrooms and Brussel Sprouts












P.S. This is Louise waiting for the scraps.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Series of Events

Sunday: Vertigo. Woke up with the room dizzy. Didn't leave the apartment all day. Couldn't leave bed for the first three hours. Am I dying? Am I drunk? Am I crazy? Am I malnurished?

Monday: Woke up feeling hungover and frantically calling doctors. "Hello! I need to see a doctor ASAP. I'm trying to be a professional bike racer and need to get back on my bike."--As if my pursuit had great importance to the doctors or to the admin aids. At best they thought it was cute and were humored by me. Regardless, I got in. I have normal symptoms of a concussion. My "wizardly" inner ear crystals were knocked lose when I hit my head and it's normal to have vertigo weeks later. I went through a series of procedures to get my dark crystals realigned and then got the doctor’s clearance to go ahead and ride. He told me I’m not going to “relapse” and BPV (the fancy acronym for the condition) occurs when waking and when lying down. He said the symptoms would go away completely in a few days. In the meantime, I have a headache. Yuk. But surprisingly, I feel better when I’m on the bike than when I’m off the bike. I think it’s the fresh air and sunshine that makes me feel better. I’m sure of it.

Today: The vertigo for me was another sign I need to really take care of myself. Although the doctor reassured me it wasn’t related to my diet, it was still a reminder that toxins=slow bike racer. And since my energy, thoughts, passion, drive, and motivation all lie within the dream to be a pro bike racer, I started re-evaluating my habits.

The first habit to evaluate is naturally food. I just finished up 7.5 days of a 21 day cleanse called the Standard Process Purification cleanse. Basically, you eat living foods and no preservatives. You take whole food supplements (UCI approved—I was religious about checking on this.) made of plant-based substances—no chemicals. You’re supposed to do this for 21 days, but I only made it 7 because of my vertigo scare and also because I’m weak on the bike (carrots don’t make good bike snacks) and it’s time for me to start ramping up—my collarbone is practically healed. Weak=Slow, which is fine when I’m supposed to be going slow.

The second habit is cleansing myself of toxins such as worry thoughts, spite, jealousy, anger, regret, and other negative anxiety. Sure, all these emotions have their place, but harboring on any of them only equals unnecessary suffering … and a lot of stress. Stress=Fatigue. I accepted that I am guilty of a lot of the same feelings that I judge others for having towards me. I also knew this deep down inside, but I never really wanted to examine that aspect of myself—as it hurts sometimes to be honest and it’s hard to let go of shoulds and shouldn’ts.

Although I will never be “thankful” for being injured, it did give me an opportunity to slow down and get back to the fundamentals that I want to embody as a person and a bike racer. A couple things hit home.
  1. Never take away anyone’s win. (I think heard this from Jennie Reed  once and it really it home.) Each race is different. Each person is different. Each race means something to every person. This means being happy for other’s successes. Never say, “Congratulations on the win. I dropped my chain back there.” Or “Great race. I’m just getting back from an injury.” Or “Nice job. This is a training race for me.” How about just “Great job. You looked good out there.” I think we (I am definitely included) as competitors have this need to make sure people know we, too, are fierce and capable of the win. I think when I’ve said this before, it’s because I needed to reassure myself that I’m capable of the win by saying it aloud. But I think that feeds those worry thoughts instead of accepting today and moving on.
  2. Encourage and support people with talent and/or drive to be the best person they can be. It’s funny. This seems like a natural thing to do—but I noticed with myself this is easy to do when people are way out of my league (in either direction) because we are not that similar. But when someone is similar, then they become a threat. If we were animals…wolves maybe…we’d be fighting for pack leader. But this, too, is a toxin. So, I am challenging myself to look at my thoughts of anger, jealousy, hurt, etc. and try to figure out what’s really eating Gilbert Grape? No, I mean me and turn it into support and encouragement for that person. Everyone goes through shit. Everyone has bad days. Everyone reacts in a non-PR way. Why try not to see it from the other person's perspective instead assuming the worst? Cause it's harder to do that. I do that all the time...and then I feel guilt. The thing is if I spend time harping over someone or the situation, they must mean something to me, even if it is masked by an “easy” emotion. It’s easy to react in anger and hold grudges. I find it’s much harder to be kind. And that’s what I want to do more than 80% of the time like I normally do...ok...65%.
The awesome thing is that all of this comes easy for some people, which is why I often ask my friends, “Damn, how are you so nice all the time? How do I deserve friends like you?” For others, for whatever reasons, it’s harder. But I like challenges and I think ultimately focusing on following these simple rules will make me a better person, racer, and teammate—and that feels good thinking about that.

Now then, when am I going to stop blogging and being introspective and start racing? I'll start PR and Seward maybe next week? I'm aiming for beginning of June to start ramping it up again. Look out!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Results

I survived the 2.5 hours on the trail. I rode easy to Seattle and back and to Redmond. I lifted my left hand off the bars for all bumps. Although I know this will be frowned upon, I even rode without hands for portions just to let my brain know that I was in control. All I needed was a little nugget of confidence to help me not be fearful of falling. I realized that I didn't have to get rid of all my fears in the first ride.

Oh and for fun, with my friend and teammate, Chad Richmond, who also broke his left collarbone recently, we practiced one-arm victory salutes.We have decided to pay homage to our slings and our collarbones, keeping our left arm bent and close to our chests for the finish salute should/when we win any races from here on out. Maybe I could whistle "Taps" for added effect...I'm into dramatic spectacles.

Anyway, luckily on the ride I missed all the hail and rain in the surrounding areas. Because I was just going for time, I looked for the little pockets of sun in the sky and headed that way. My adventure sort of reminded me of a Family Circus cartoon.


Rookie Move of the Day: I forgot my water bottles at home. Man, I was thirsty.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waking from Hibernation

I am riding outside today! Super stoked. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I'm completing my research to confirm my hypothesis that Bionic Six had titanium collarbones.