Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Generosity and Thanks

The past week has been filled with excitement.

Since I last blogged, I have received so much encouragement and good fortune that it’s overwhelming—but the good kind of overwhelming that makes you giddy, jump up and down, grateful, humbled, motivated, inspired and yet a bit scared that you will somehow not meet expecations. But that’s normal. (Wheeler Nugget: I am a strong believer that fear is normal and necessary for improvement. It’s just whether you can acknowledge it, examine it, learn from it, and move forward rather than dismiss it, disguise it with arrogance, or be totally apathetic to the emotion and the events around it.)

Anyway, I wanted to reach out and thank a few people for their help and generosity. (In no particular order)

1) Empower Coaching Systems: I’m so grateful for Dotsie Bausch allowing me to guest ride for her team at Cascade. I received numerous emails detailing out the plan and schedule and cannot wait to not only ride well for her, but also to be a good teammate and a positive force during the ups and downs of the stage race. There’s always ups and downs in stage races, I’m finding out. My goal is to ride, learn, grow and NOT question or doubt myself even if something goes awry—like I miss my turnaround or go the wrong way or whatever.

2) USA Cycling—Recently they loaned me “John Tesch” my new Teschner track bike to use. I’m so excited to get back on the track and get to work. I have a lot to learn and it’s going to more exciting to be learning while riding “J. Tesch.” (On second thought, does John Tesh really deserve a bike named after him? I mean his music may have taken the Midi file world by storm, but I can't see a fierce integration into the track world. I'm thinking maybe Al Capone might be more suitable. I mean, I'm seeing a straight up mobster murder when I bring this bike out to rumble.)  Thank you, too, to BLG and RC for helping me figure out my bike size. I guess I’m “in between” sizes not quite a small and a bit too big for a medium. I guess if I were being fitted for a dress, I’d be a size 7--blech! (Sizes 5,7,9 are so 80’s.)

3) Cherrish: I’m also thankful to have Cherrish supporting me in my cause. Recently, Dan Haggart donated 50 water bottles to take with me to Cascade and he’s done a lot to make sure I have a constant supply of Cherrish and also help out in events as he can.

4) Engleman—The man was cracking jokes left and right with me at nationals, helping me relax and take the pressure off. He works with me through my fears and reassures me that I have what it takes. It’s great to have such a legend in my camp or maybe I should say to be in his camp.

5) Erik Moen—He also donated some water bottles and spiffy visors to Cascade. AND he always answers his phone to field questions like “Um, Erik, is it possible for me to re-break my collarbone by trying on clothes? I mean the dress was REALLY tight in the shoulder.”

6) Matt Oseto—My exercise physiologist and the plastic surgeon of clavicle repair. I can barely see my scar now and I was on the bike pronto. He knows his stuff and is an awesome resource to have.

7) Martha Walsh—Tens for Wheeler. She’s been paying for my entry at Seward lately and she and Mick have been loading me with advice and tips for cycling in their country—Oregon.

8)Phil Spencer--He's been my friend and one of my biggest fans from day one. I was nice to him when I first met him because I thought he was Ian McKissick--former pro who dominated the field earlier in the year. But then after 4-5 meetings later, he confessed he wasn't Ian and we learned to like each other. Joking. None of that is true, except for the biggest fan and friend part. He has provided me with chiropractic care and donations of Standard Process vitamins as well as a plane ticket to my first NRC race. He's awesome and you should support his business.

9) Hagens Berman and Lake Washington Velo —Man, lately they’ve just been showering me with support. Tall Alan has been an awesome resource and helps me keep my head on straight. He listens and validates my thoughts, confirming yes, indeed, I am crazy. Joe Holmes is always around to tell me to toughen up and remember I’m from the Midwest. And my women teammates are always encouraging me and sending kudos my way. Oh and Broadmark, so many people from there, always chiming in and helping out. And Jeff Pyatt, heck, he opened a new business line at Pyatt Lending just so my calls don't overload his system.

10) My Readers, Fans, and Friends—I’ve received numerous donations recently from people I know and others I don’t know. Your comments and encouragement inspire me to be a better athlete and person and show the same generosity towards others in whatever way I can. My current goals are to finish the season and then help others train in the winter, whether it be through clinics or other events. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do—whether it be take someone on a ride or help them in a workout, etc.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Redmond Derby Days

Upcoming races:

Redmond Derby Days

It's going to be something fierce with a team of HB women out for the win. Come check it out.

Update: We took 1st, 3rd, and 4th. About 10 minutes into the 45 minute race, I attacked and bridged up to Tricia Bailey who was up the road. After that, it was history. We worked together to gap the field and my teammates supported the effort by not helping the group catch us and bringing back any attacks. Tricia and I ended up catching the field with 3 laps to go. The motorcycle pacer told us not to pass them because they were going to end the race early for the field so we'd have room for the sprint finish. I was confused--of course--and got some guidance from Tricia who quickly explained how it worked. I had never had the chance to lap a field before so that was exciting. Anyway, I ended up taking the sprint at the end and getting the win.
Here's a photo of Tricia and I working together.

Then on Sunday, I raced the Team Time Trial with Rhae Shaw, Carrie Eller, and Michele Conrad. We won by close to three minutes--which wasn't surprising since we had a stacked composite team. I really just wanted/needed the TT experience and the workout. I got that. I couldn't walk afterwards and was whimpering (ok maybe a few silent tears) as I tried to get on my road bike afterwards to cool down. I ended riding 7mph for about 18 minutes until my hamstrings finally stopped seizing. It was horrible. But I figure if they're that worked, I must have had a good weekend of training.

Pumped for Time Trial Workout

Look out, there's a new Cancellara in town!  What? What should I be doing for prep besides lying around and testing out my Paint skills?

Monday, July 5, 2010


I rode the Joe Matava crit this past weekend and learned a couple of lessons about being invested in racing.

I showed up at 10:00a.m. for the 10:35 a.m. race. I was just sitting at my computer, watching the time tick away while I updated my Facebook status with something ignorant. I don't know where my head was. Maybe all the racing from the past weeks was getting to me, so the idea of a quick local race just didn't matter much to me at the time. Don't know, but being so lackadaisical about any race isn't going to help me improve.

The women's race was the shortest crit I've raced all year, only being 30 minutes. It flew by. I nabbed a couple of primes and ended up second to a Tibco racer. She's a much better cornerer than I am--in addititon to being pretty much better at everything else regarding cycling--and flew past me on the last corner and easily took the sprint. I led her into the last corners and was soft pedaling, waiting for her to make her move so I could follow. And then she made her move...and won the race.

Lesson learned: Race my own race. I shouldn't be soft  pedaling the last lap, especially if I'm in the front, blocking the wind. My best races happen when I race my own race...well, as long as I'm somewhat smart while doing so.

Then I sat around for an hour and decided to race the Men's 1-2 race to work on my pack skills. I was lolly gagging around, making jokes, talking to people, waiting for the gun to go off. Well, I should have taken the race much more seriously, as I got dropped about 10 minutes into the race. Even then, I wasn't breathing hard. My legs hurt and I was tired, fighting the wind, but I just wasn't there. I remember getting some tips at the back of the pack on tail gunning. My advisor said, "You just let a gap form and then roll into the pack around the corner. They brake. You don't." So, I tried it, and it worked...for him, not me. I was gapped. I then put a half-hearted effort into catching the pack, and it didn't work very well. I slowly watched them roll away, and I conceded. My advisor looked behind his shoulder and I waved, 50 meters back. At that point, I was busy looking for a spot that I could quickly sneak away from the race and not be seen. However, people were already yelling, "Cmon, Wheeler. What are you doing?" So I had to give a salute and then exit. Part of me was embarrassed, but part of me was also not invested enough to care.

Lesson learned: Be prepared to suffer if I enter a Men's 1-2 race. Don't listen to tips from others on tail gunning at the back and get my butt up to AT LEAST the front half so I don't have to do so much work. I know better. I'll do better next time.

Here are some photos from Amara Boursaw (http://www.wheelsinfocus.com/) of only the women's race. No pictures exist from the men's race because I've already erased it from my memory. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Day at Work

I'm typing this while lying in bed at 7:30 p.m. as my first day at my new job was a tough one...seriously.

I'll give you the play by play of my epic ride out to Snoqualmie Falls.

I showed up and Alan, my teammate, was dressed for winter--what? I know the rules about arm warmers and knee warmers below a certain degree, but seriously, my body does not go for that.

Anyway, the goal of the ride was to go on a date with my little chainring and learn how to climb. And that is what I did, spinning spinning spinning to save my legs to sprint up and over the top of the hills.

Here are some photos from the ride. I'm going to sleep.

Alan ready and on time at the Husky Dog.

Trying something different with the Hagens Berman socks. My ankles felt warm.

Yeah, buddy, check out that cadence! My legs were confused.

I'm learning how to eat more on the bike. This is proof.

Alan's first sweat of the ride after pulling me up to the falls. It's nice drafting behind a 6'6" person.

Snoqualmie Falls

Closing time with a 6-hour ride completed.

Louise waiting for me on my bed, waiting to hear about my day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pro Contract!

Contract at my job that is...Yes, today marks the first day I am a free agent at my job and am no longer a salaried employee. It's a turning point in my eight year history as an instructional designer, as it signifies that i am committed to my new career of bicycle racing. I suppose it's also a turning point in my life. For the first time since I can remember I am venturing into something that is unstable in the sense that the risk factor is huge.

Thus far my life has consisted of the following:

High School: Trained and studied to get a full scholarship to college--where i was going to be a doctor and go to the olympics for running. NEGATIVE! But I did run through college and get a degree!

3 days after graduation...
Graduate school: Studied and taught classes to support myself with the hopes of getting a high-powered job with a Master's in English. NEGATIVE! I did earn my degree though and learned the fine art of creative writing.

2 weeks later....
Job offer! Moved to Chicago and began working in the e-learning business as a writer and instructional designer.

Fast forward 3 years...
Moved to Seattle to continue working as an instructional designer and pursue my love of the outdoors.

Fast forward 3 years to June 2009.
Entered my first road race--the Ballard Criterium. I was hooked.

Fast forward to the present...
I'mreceiving my first calls from pro-team directors, talking about my intentions for racing next year, my history as an athlete, and my potential in the future on their teams.

I'm not much of a risk taker when it comes to my livelihood. I pay my bills on time, budget out every penny, and make spreadsheet after spreadsheet mapping out how I'm going to pay off my debts. The scouting phone calls were what I needed to seal the deal for me to treat cycling as my career rather than my hobby. Sure this means I'm going to be penny-pinching and begging for work when I'm available, but it's also going to mean harder training, more naps, maybe some weight lifting? Tomorrow I'm celebrating my new career by spending what used to be my 9-5 work day,  riding to Snoqualmie Falls rather than at a desk. What used to be work is now going to be my hobby and cycling will by my career. (I've said it three times now, I know. But it's still a bit unreal!)

It's all so exciting. I remember last winter, I sheepishly told people that I was training to be a pro cyclist. Some high-fived me, some laughed, some half-smiled thinking I was delusional, some jumped up and down with me in support. I knew inside I could do it. Sure, I was scared of failing, of making a fool of myself by blurting my dreams out loud,  but I knew if I didn't go after it, I would regret it every day and come up with a million excuses for why the stars weren't aligned for me.

Now, looking back those 20 hour weeks in November, and those date nights with Jake consisting of 4+ hour rides after work in the dark and rain don't seem quite so terrible now. The memories of those hill repeats after 9-hour work days or the 2x20's or the irritability, the crying, the fear, the stress all have slowly disappeared.

All I can think of now is what is to come in the future and how I am going to prepare myself today. I'm right where I envisioned myself to be, with opportunity knocking on my door.

July 2010 begins a new chapter for me. I'm looking forward to going to a party next year so that when someone asks the standard, cliche party question, "What do you do for a living?" I'll be able to smile excitedly and say, "Oh me? I'm a pro cyclist."