Monday, June 30, 2008
The only thing saving me is that its a holiday weekend and I work for the government, meaning two days off, thus creating a four day weekend and four days of huge solo rides where I will hope to get lost somewhere in Pisgah, and this emotional pain will give way to the more tolerable pains of hunger, fatigue, and fear.
I am so absolutely broken up about this. I hate growing up.
At some point between the end of the road ride and 6 pm, I remembered that the time trial was going on, so rode into town to watch some folks go all fast up hill. I only lasted about half an hour before I decided I wanted to race, too. Bystanding sucks, despite what is apparently popular opinion. And luckily, I had my road bike, since my townie currently has a flat and a slippy rear axel, and was wearing silly girly stretchy jean shorts, which sort of simulated spandex bike shorts, only longer, hotter, and more fashionable.
First time women (i.e. women who have never raced a road race before) got to race for free, which my friend Camille commented on with, "sometimes it pays to be a virgin." I only had to buy a day liscence, which I later determined is a load of crap and now I'm once again pissed at USA cycling for ripping me off** (see footnote.) But it was only $10, which I quickly withdrew from the nearest ATM, then rolled up to the starting line as the last rider to go off that evening.
I finished in 23 minutes or something, which placed me in 1st in the first time women's group, but would have placed me first in women's B (which is where I should have been, had I realized at the time the $240 I already paid to USA cycling this year has me as at Cat 4 roadie automatically.) Or I would have been 3rd in women's A, or 3rd of all the women there, I suppose. I'm pleased with that, but still a little disappointed that I didn't roll up to the time trial prepared to go. I probably had 45 lbs of pressure in my tires (which is great for training, but bad for racing) and I did it in street clothes, which I didn't really care about, but everyone else seemed bemused by this:
"23:47! And you did it in shorts!"
And I say, "But everyone did it in shorts...."
I should stop hating on roadies, though....this same snootiness has appeared at mountain bike races, too. Which is really discouraging.
Anyway, I won a Mountain Dew and a water bottle, and everyone gave me their coupons to some running store that they all won because they don't need running shoes. I also got a medal. Yey. But more importantly, I think I realized that I'm not too bad, which sometimes I think I am, and that maybe I should take somethings a little bit more seriously, just so I don't get to the bottom of the hill and get all disappointed with myself because I know I could have been faster...
Whatever. I had a good road ride earlier that day, and an awesome night ride back home from Town Mountain afterwards.
**I'm livid with USA cycling for charging me double for an international liscense because of my untimely upgrade last year. My fault, I realize, but shoot...$240 just to have the title Pro for a season!?! That's stupid. I can't believe I fell for that. More about this later though.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The race course was dumb, but props still to the folks you built it. It's hard work building a trail, I know, but riding a just built trail is just as hard. Especially because then you have real expectations, not just fantasies. But racing isn't supposed to be easy, so I won't complain...but since I'm already at it, besides not being easy, this course was uncomfortable. Nothing a few minutes with a Pulaski couldn't fix, but whatever...
Anyway, following the individual time trial, dinner at the Golden Corral, and a trip to the liquor store with Mikey, we sat around the parking lot conversing with some Vantaggio girls. At some point, the conversation privatised and I was informed of a something the boy of one of the prior blahg posts had said. Instead of quoting him, I'll quote the Avett Brothers with what immediately went through my head: "Don't tell me its over because that's the worst news I could hear." I realize I was at a bike race and supposedly am called a Pro and perhaps should behave as such, but my delicate little world that is this, at times, very difficult experience of growing up was absolutely shattered. I'm no where near getting over this boy and am in a perpetual state of feeling destroyed because of it. This was just bruising on top of bruises.
The next morning, finding out I could get my entry fee refunded, I spent what would have been my warming-up time throwing rocks at an exposed root 15 ft away. I was getting pretty good at it, and somewhat distracted from feeling sad, when Kym the Miracle Worker (who was also my main competition) came over and ever so carinlgy slapped (by which I mean realistically consoled) some sense into me. Embarrassed for having exposed myself as young and lacking perspective, I took her advice to suck it up, suit up, and go race. I did and got second to Kym. I'm fine with that. I admire that woman so much, so standing slightly below her on the podium just serves to provide a metaphorical visual of how I look up to here. Or something.
On the starting line, too, still mentally not into the race, Homeboy Whose Name I Can't Remember from The Hub bike shop told me good luck and there'd be a beer waiting for me at the end--he had witnessed my earlier displays of sorrow and thankfully didn't judge me, at least not to my face. Homeboy is part of the best team under any tent at the SERC's: Team Wake and Bake. They ride 29ers, which I don't like because I'm 5'3" and I have a hard time accepting innovation, but I forgive them because they are a team chock full of great riders and even better personalities. My first female role model in a long time (Kym has since butted her way into this hard to obtain position as well) Rebecca is on their team. I would post a link to her blog but her last name is spelled like Tomaszewski but with six more s's, z's and w's that I don't know where to put. Anyway, she's a badass. Look out for her.
I'm losing focus. Okay...right, team Wake and Bake. They rock. Following the Athens SERC (i.e. the beginning of me admitting to myself that sometimes my emotional/mental state does indeed severly affect my racing, not very pro of me, I know...), they immediately ushered in the little wayfaring bike racer that I am, let me sit under their tent, drink their beer, and talk about nothing important with them. And then Homeboy at this race being there once again for the litter wayfarer. And Kym, and Alexis, and Mike, and everyone else, and Terry and Doug from Gone Riding being like dang yeah, get yourself a refund and not asking questions. The mountain biking community is freakin incredible. Loosely knit and geographically disperse, but incedible nonetheless. And so I thank them...and further wonder why some people have to take it so seriously (see previous post) that they miss out on the post-race tent parties and the development of weekend friendships that really do mean so much.
I thought that was so funny. I then learned that a Bright-Futures-of-America rider from the Panhandle of Paradise (i.e. Florida) named Martin Cox calls bikes "Pedal Scooters." This is also hilarious.
The moral of this story is that, as a handful of us goons noticed at the GSC race this past weekend, too many people take mountain biking way too seriously. But if they could just take a step back from their gear-headed ego-trips, and realize that they're all just racing around in circles on pedal scooters, that this sport is rediculous. A synonym of which is awesome. So shut up about your new Grouppo and your 64 oz of HEED a day habit and make sure you're able to laugh when some little redneck girl calls you out on riding a motorless scooter. Or be like Martin and make fun of yourself and your favorite sport, too....because mountain biking's too rediculously awesome to get so serious about. Besides, being serious makes you slower and is too expensive (financially and emotionally) and causes cancer and causes people to make fun of you behind your back. I assure you none of these things are desireable.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Clemson is the type of course where it never mattered that my brakes were somewhere between shoddy and non-existant, but even so, the responsiveness of my new Juicy's and the natural brap-brap tendancies of I-9 wheels were much appreciated at high speeds. This is in contrast to the steady, more technical weekend Pisgah rides they had been used on up to this past weekend--for which this new set-up is also super.
And yet...I still came in just 2nd in the women's pro/expert race. Of the ten or so races so far this season, I've podiumed-a-plenty but have only managed to claim one victory, which leaves me feeling slightly frustrated at not being able to find that extra oomph.
The problem, apparently, is that I've plateued out awhile ago. Which is just fine in most respects--just like riding along ridge lines: such pleasant cruising for cruising's sake, with only minor ups and downs. But every once in awhile I sort of get the urge to maybe, uh, er...get a bit more serious about this sport.
Right now my "training" schedule looks like this:
- MONDAY: Easy day, ride to work on the road bike, then home, plus 1-2 hours of a good, local loop
- TUESDAY: Ride the road bike out to the BMX track, then try to maintain my dignity while learning to pump and "jump." I think this is helping my xc riding and by August, I'll be table-topping like Dan Ennis. No I wont.
- WEDNESDAY: Sprints. I usually make up the workout the day of: 2 x 12 min, or 4 x 6 min or uphill all crazy. Mostly this is on the the mountain bike, because that's what I race.
- THURSDAY: Ride 2-3 hours, on road or off, singlespeed if off, hilly route if on.
- FRIDAY: I don't work Fridays, so I like to do about 4 hours in Pisgah, or one of Art Shuster's incredible road routes.
- SATURDAY: Easy, little bit of riding, pre-ride race course if I'm there.
- SUNDAY: Race. Act mean.
I also train with a powertap. It's made out of electrical tape and a quote from Ryan Fisher: "Just go fucking faster." It doesn't give me my wattages and I can't upload my rides onto my computer, but it does tell me what to do and it is waterproof.
So anyway, that's my secret to mediocre success. Borrow from it what you will. We'll see where it gets me. I'm only half-concerned about being all serious and fast. Most of the time, I'm more concerned with finding awesome new loops through Pisgah, and if I get fast as a result of that, then that's cool, I guess.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Anyway, I finally bought a wheelset of my very own, mainly because of one shitty race and the realization that I quit running everyday for this (relatively) high-paying job, where I work 10 hour days and now have four figures in my checking account, finally. And if I'm going to give up running, hells yes I'm going to use the stupid money I'm making on stuff for my bicycle. Rice and beans (or lately, animal crackers and beer...) every night is good enough, especially when you come home after 4.5 hour rides on your new I-9's.
They're awesome. I want to go ride through every rock garden ever right now, take then off drops, do some precision techie-handling, some steep saddle-up-your-butt climbs, and coast through the parking lot at the trailhead to listen to the free hub. But three hours of that today was perfect for whetting my route-planning and implementation all over Pisgah the next couple days. And then their first race on Sunday at Clemson...can't wait!
I'm also excited to have brakes that work. I swapped out some ceremic rim brakes (they were good while they lasted, but the rims are chipped to high-hell now and then I realized only Europeans still use rim brakes) for some Juicy Sevens. Seven being the best number in the world and me having a good job now, I figured these were the appropriate upgrade.
But like Ryan Fisher always said, "What do you need brakes for? They only slow you down."
One of my professors at Warren Wilson College said during class once, "Probability being what it is, it turns out its infinitely easier to fuck things up than to fix them." Physicists call this entropy, ecologists would call this nature, I'm calling it life. Either way, there appears to be a general consensus on the tendancy for things to fall to shit.
Also, my father--either a man of few words or of verbose lectures, depending on when you reach him--provided me with only one piece of advice (maybe more, actually, I don't know...): "Don't fuck up." This piece of advice is offered to me a lot from him, as it has a wide application of use, and I appreciate it for being open-ended. I can do whatever I want so long as I don't fuck up. And yet, either due to my own short-comings or my young-adult stupidities, I failed to follow the only advice my dad ever gave me. Dang.
I fuck up all the time, I've realized, and usually I don't mind. Normally I relish the process of growing up, the surrendering shrug of being young and stupid and knowing that that probably wasn't the best thing to do, but how was I supposed to know? I'm just a dumb kid with no sense of perspective and only quasi-formed wisdom. But the screw up didn't matter that much in the long run, and then you get to learn something, which is the greatest part.
But my most recent fuck up has been no fun at all, and in fact has been the most painful of all fuck-ups ever, I think. Which hopefully means I'll learn something and learn it good--but right now I'm in despair and too busy agonizing to take anything positive from this. And it's all because this is the first of my fuck-ups that occurred at the expense of someone else. It's ok when I make a mistake, but when it involves dragging someone else into my mess, and results in the loss of someone I adore...that's terrible. And I'm having a tough time getting over it.
So lately I've been reading a bunch of Avett Brothers lyrics to try to help make me feel better. Yet, it really just serves to get depressing lyrics stuck in my head, e.g. "I have dreams but nothing to hope for..."
Ouch. I'm waving the white flag on this one, he won. This fuck up really hurts.
- to brag
- to bitch
- to give a nod to sponsors
While I normally love categorization (it exemplifies higher-level cognition, plus it's great fun) these three seem a bit too limiting. I really just wanted an outlet for all the mindless wanderings of my, well, mind, which tends to crescendo during my morning commute. Since I was elevan, I ran just about every day and sort of gave up writing around that time because it was all so fluid in my head and we started learning in school how to discern good literature and poetry from rubbish, and well...being the self-aware person that I am, I realized it'd be better to keep those ill-worded thoughts to myself.
But then I stopped running daily a couple months ago, leaving me feeling generally unsettled, but doing nothing to quell the aimless ponders, observations, and realizations that flow so readily through my head while biking down the same stretch of road every morning following 4 cups of coffee and as many New York Times articles that I can cram in before having to leave.
I suppose the real straw that broke the camel's back, or better yet, the wave that broke the front off the ship (www.hutton-web-design.co.uk/tanker.html, for some irreverant--and irrelevant--British humor) was the desire to better sort out this tumultrous period of transition: from college kid to pseudo-adult, from obsessive runner to trying to make more sense out of running, and from a kid who could ride a bike alright to a mountain biker who now tries to make enough money from racing to allow me to maintain this rediculous hobby and still have enough money to eat. Plus, all my friends have blogs, and I wanted one too, goddammit.
And just like my general day-to-day thoughts, this blog has no purpose, will probably never draw any sort of significant conclusions, will be incongruous, half-formed, and non-sensical most of the time. But at the very best, it'll sincerely try to by entertaining enough to read from time-to-time, and at worst (which may actually be for the best...) it'll just blend in with all the other crap on the internet that makes up the one terabyte of information floating around out there. Surely y little contribution of crap will go unnoticed in such an unfathomably hugh pile.