Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Goes Round...

Well, I figured that I should be productive and write a little blog post before I spend the next couple weeks in la la land after my surgery tomorrow. I had all intentions to be sleeping at this point, but as it turns out, I'm more nervous for this surgery than those in the recent past. My last surgery (emergency appy) happened so fast I didn't have time to think much about it, and the last ankle ordeal had me anxious, but I was looking forward to it being my last procedure on it. So this surgery has just been stressful to think about because I don't even know what to think anymore.

I'm comparing my last few years to a merry go round. The ride looks really cool (bike racing), you wait in line (training), you pick out your favorite horse to get on (the bike), the ride starts and it's really fun for a while, then you figure out that the same circle just keeps going around and around (kinda like a crit), but it's still cool because you're hooked. The ride (or race) stops (injury/ surgery) and you spend all winter waiting to be able to stand back in line again and once you do; the whole process repeats. That's me: get injured, train to catch up, catch up, race, have fun, get injured, have surgery, wait to train....

You get the picture.

I know all will go well with surgery, I have a great support system, I honestly have one of the top 5 ranked ankle surgeons in the WORLD, and I'm in good health... but still I really want off the cycle of the merry go round...
it's not so merry.

Wow, so I'm already whining about surgery and it hasn't already happened yet, but I feel better now.
Seriously, I'll be happy to get this done with and fixed up. I was hoping to sneak in some xc skiing more before it, but it turns out that that really is not so cool to do with a broken foot so I had to stop that. I will have my work cut out for me once I can get back to training. Between 3 weeks off the bike for the meningitis in all of November and the limited riding from the foot pain this month, I can safely say I took a lot of time off the bike to recover. However, I did manage to work through the discomfort for 4 fun days of riding recently.
My sister asked me what the point was in riding so much for the past couple days since I was going to lose all that fitness with surgery anyway...

My reply?

"Because it's fun!"

I Fight The Good Fight,
I Will Finish The Race,
I Will Keep The Faith

Stayed tuned: I can't guarantee any sensible blogs in the near future, but I sure will try!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The "Journey" Continued

Whoa! So December has flared up as it's crazy self since I have returned from NC a couple weeks ago and I have been too busy with work, and prepping for my own surgery that I haven't been able to finish my blog thoughts from that trip. So let me jog my memory and not forget the journey I had...

As you can see from the pictures above that there is a fair amount of snow on the ground compared to the previous pictures we had in NC. If you might recall, one of the reasons I chose NC over a MI trip was to hit a little better riding weather. So Josh and I were quite surprised when we woke up Sunday with 6 inches of snow blanketing everything! I was bummed at first and really thought my eyes were foggy, but it was the real deal and the area was on lock down due to the strange weather for them. At first glance I figured we would just hit a snowy ride, but after more assessing, it became clear that there was no way that was possible given the amount of snow there was and the ruggedness of the area. We had in no way planned on snow, and even though being snowed in may be appealing to some people, Josh and I aren't the type to sit around and not get outside to explore the winter fun. I switched my mind off bikes to explore what other fun options we could have. We decided to get in some hiking and snowshoeing. That sounded really fun and I quit being bummed and started looking forward to the day. We all know the saying: life is 10% what happens to you and 80% how you react to it. I really try to put that phrase in to use on a daily basis and I've found it's very true. I've had things happen to me that some may consider grounds to be in a mental hospital, but I try to stay positive and keep the faith that God has it worked out, and react as such as much as I can, and I feel it helps me tremendously. I really believe that there are no situations in life that can't be worked out or fixed in some way. So off to town we went to try and find some gear...

After a long visit with all the guys at Sycamore Cycles, I scored a sweet pair of hiking shoes on sale and Josh was able to rent some snowshoes for the afternoon hike. The weather was fluctuating and constantly went from ominous to sunny making for some great views. We decided to hike up the Granite rock trail that we had rode the day before since it is a great view at the top and we knew where we would be going. While Josh had some hiking experience in AZ, I had never honestly been on a real hike that didn't involve hiking a bike. We set out on the trail along the river and were quickly treated to such beauty that no picture would even do it justice. It's always a rush and good feeling to ride your mountain bike in sweet places, but hiking in the stillness of snow covered paths in a pine forested mountain creates a feeling that is almost surreal. What a treat!

Not only was it a treat, it was a great workout. I regretted opting out of the snowshoes like Josh, since they would have made the 2 hour hike much easier, but I still did pretty good. Once we hit the summit around 3,500 ft, things were pretty windy and the weather was getting nasty again. We hung out for a few minutes and enjoyed the views then headed back down the rocky decent. The sun was on its way down and we didn't want to get stuck out there in the cold temps after dark, but we were treated to some great sights on the way down with the sun setting behind the mountains.

Some journeys take a different route than what we plan. As a matter of fact, they go in the direct direction that we had planned not to do. I went to avoid snow and ended up in some rare snow storm to that area. Maybe that was God's gift to let me do both things??? The point is: I would have never in a million years thought I would have enjoyed hiking, but during it I realized I really enjoyed it. That was only possible because I opened my mind and chose to react in a positive way to the change in the journey. The day we went for a hike actually turned out to be one of my favorite things I did all year. Who would have thought?

Don't let your attitude and fear close you mind to the opportunities that change can bring, you may actually like it.

...and by the way,
Merry Christmas everyone... while your busy opening gifts, don't forget that the day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Our Savior.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


(One of the many great views from atop a waterfall at Dupont State Forest in NC)

The Journey. Such a cliche right? Yeah, I know but its an important word or thought. So let me expand.

I had a long journey planned out this year as many of my fellow cyclist did. I fought hard to come back from ankle surgery with the goal of having a good cross season to be capped off by a trip to Bend for cyclocross national championships. As many of you know, I had a couple major obstacles get in the way that prevented me from getting there. The point is, however, I already set aside the vacation block to go to Bend from work and I had nothing planned as a result. So here I was, stuck with 6 days off in December with an out of shape body from having so much time off from being so sick, having a avulsion fracture in my foot, and facing another surgery in a few weeks. What to do? Hmm, well, I took a whole week to make a final decision, which was between northern Michigan for dh/ xc skiing, or drive 11 hours to North Carolina to hit up my most favorite trails of all time. I would change my mind every 2 hours. I really wanted to do both, but that wasn’t possible. I really wanted to go skiing, but I was afraid that my slap foot wouldn’t hold up for more than a day, and I really wanted to ride Dupont, but its such a big trip. I simply was not looking forward to the long drive, the packing, and the hassle. However, the ski trip would be a solo effort and if I chose NC, I would be joined by friends Josh J. and Scott W. Can you really beat riding trail with your friends? Not really, but I was unsure if the trip would be worth the effort. I made a last minute decision to head south.

North Carolina here I come!

(Enjoying a little break from our riding under a covered bridge to take in the beauty)

I love riding my bike, the feeling and the rush I can produce with my own effort is better than any drug out there. That rush is great, but the fact that I travel all over the country to seek out new rides is a bonus on top of that. Dupont State Forest is a great trail, it flows wonderfully, but the hidden treasures it holds is in the beauty of the land. The display of waterfalls and rock formations are stunning and if anyone can look at them and think they were created by accident is really giving the Creator a slap in the face. It’s some of God’s finest work!

(Nothing like riding a great flowing trail with good friends: Scott Wagner, Josh Johnson, and myself)
(Sitting at the base of Bridal Vail fall. A picture here doesn't even begin to capture the power)

We covered mile after mile on some long rides and I reminded myself how lucky I was to have a gift to be able to explore so many miles simply by riding my bike. I know some people who travel more hours than we did simply to see a few water falls in the park...but we were blessed to see so much more! I just wish everyone could enjoy the world in such ways as cyclist do at times.
(How many spectacular views can one place have?)

So the journey was worth it. Standing atop a 150 ft waterfall freezes time and the car trip down becomes a distant memory, all that matters is enjoying what you see in front of you and the greatness all around. I came down to NC to “ride” my bike. Sure, I wanted to get some miles back in the legs, regain some fitness before surgery, but not once have I viewed any of my rides as “training.” It’s a welcome change for a little bit.

(Josh and Scott climbing a connector fire road to the next singletrack)
I’m happy I made the trip down... the journey continues. Don’t let the thought of the journey overwhelm you and get in the way of you making it to your destination. Besides, we all have one FINAL destination, and everything we do now is the journey. Sometimes the thought of making the choices that God would expect from us are not the easy ones in our society today. The thought that the journey that He expects can leave us all a little overwhelmed. Deciding to go mtb was easy compared to some other moral decisions I make sometimes. That was a surface decision. Bigger ones are harder, but trust me, that journey is so worth anything more than what He has treated us to here on earth as mortals.

(This may have been my favorite destination. Summit of granite rick climb... such a great trail!)

We’ve had a great journey to NC so far.
But the question is?
What will be yours?

Our lives are a Christ- like fragrance rising up to God.... And who is adequate for such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Kind Feel Like Farve.

The drama that surrounds Brett Farve always drives me crazy. It's not that I don't like him, I just hate what the media does with him and because they overkill his life, I end up just not paying attention to him at all to get a break from it. I mean, really, I respect the guy a lot. Despite what any of us think. He doesn't have a lot of fluff, he goes out and does his job, he loves doing it, and he has played through injuries that most people would be stuck in bed with. And in those respects I kind of parallel him to me at times. In a much smaller scale of course! So now after he was hurt again this week, the frenzy of saying he is washed up and should retire gets blown up again. That's what many people think and I wander what Brett thinks? I could only imagine, but I think I could guess.

I feel like Brett Farve.

Except I don't wear Wranglers, and I don't play football.

I've spent the entire season either being injured, poked, cut, immobilized, recovering from surgeries, illness, or getting ready to have another surgery. I'll know I usually try to be as positive as possible, but it's been a crappy, crappy year in those respects, and has taken every ounce of drive and determination to fight back from. While it's not a media frenzy like Farve with me, in fact, most of the people in the ovcx and cyclocross family didn't have a clue of my events like another competitor of mine, it has me feeling a little better that most people won't think I'm washed up. Just MIA for now. Based on some reality checks from my Dr Porter visit last week, a company Christmas party this weekend, and the cold hard truth that I am still not even close to 100% after the meningitis; I decided to not race the Indy weekend.

(Group photo for my anesthesia group at the Christmas party Saturday.
Front row was the "little black dress" club)

As some of you know, I went to see my ankle surgeon in Indy last week to go over some issues. I try to hold off on posting any news about this stuff for a few days to let my attitude level out so I can post a result that isn't drenched in self sorrow... but I'm still bummed. I've actually known for the last 5 months that I was going to need a 4th operation on the ankle. I kept that in the back of my mind kinda pretending it was okay, plus, I didn't want to keep dreading it all cross season when I needed to stay focused on riding. The other thing I have kept kinda quite is that I have been dealing with some pain on the top of my foot since Sept too, have worked with PT on it, and have been trying to keep the pain at bay. Well, as I found out last week, I actually have a avulsion fracture of the navicular bone in my foot. No wander that hurt so bad! Great. So we go in and fix that in addition to the other stuff. Not really what I had in mind.

The part I knew about was the nerve excision. I've got some nasty nerve damage around my ankle bone that feels like an electric shock every time it is even lightly touched. That means even wearing a sock. So that's electric pain in my foot all the time. It's really, really getting old as this pain has been there for almost a year now. I honestly, look forward to not having to deal with it. So we go in and fix that up too.

The bummer part for me is that in all my craziness, or wishful thinking, I figured I would go for surgery, fix up the problem, get a little band-aid and ace wrap for a week or so and be back on my feet. Minor deal. I really, really was looking forward to doing some winter riding, xc and dh skiing and enjoying my first ever normal off -season. But now that isn't going to happen. Dr. P is now telling me I will need to be on crutches for around 2 weeks and in a cast for more. No skiing for 6 weeks. Blah! I can't believe this! It's so frustrating, and I really hate it. Really!

So how old are the injury reports getting? Pretty old, right? Trust me I know, you read about them for a few minutes here on the blog and I live with them every minute of my day. I just ask for all the prayers and thoughts from you guys that this surgery in late December can finally be the last bit of injury/ surgery/ illness I deal with for a while. I'm sure Brett thinks the same way, I'm sure he would like a fresh body as would I. I don't think he is anymore washed up then I am, because we both love our sports and I know that cycling has many benefits for me in addition to the injuries- so I'm not washed up or quitting.

That's the monthly injury report from camp here. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks before going under the knife again. I have a few days off here this week and will do a little riding in NC on the mtb, maybe hit up a low key cx race in Chi town, and get in as much XC skiing as my foot, weather, and time allows. Need to cross stuff off my bucket list as much as I can!

And I will!

Just don't say I need to retire- I won't listen anyway.

Live to ride, ride to live.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Worth A Thousand Words

Well, since the last post I've been trying to return to the world of cycling, slowly, but surely. That's been great, but the real truth is that I have really just been happy to be able to return to work and everyday life in a somewhat normal fashion without feeling like death every moment. Sometimes you don't realize how bad you felt until you don't feel that way and this illness has certainly held true for that of myself. I also have grown to know that I can walk around and "act" pretty normal on the outside when I feel like killing over on the inside. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I'm blaming that trait on my Mom for now.
Over the last few days I finally think I have dropped the massive headaches that accompanied the meningitis (that is a wonderful feeling) and I've slowly gained some energy back. I've learned that this can linger for about 6-8 weeks and I'm trying not to rush into thinking I should feel normal too soon. I've slowly tallied up some rides. I've enjoyed being back on the bike when I can and buckled down and hit some pretty cold rides as the weather is getting pretty chilly these days. I also have decided to try and stay outside for most of my training this winter and invested in some lights and winter Specialized defroster shoes thanks to Summit City Bicycles in Fort Wayne. I can't wait to really put them to the test!

This season has certainly been a roller coaster ride for me and this weekend I decided to keep that crazy train rolling a little more. Given that my overall ovcx standings were pretty much in the dog house since I had missed so many races, I decided to do some other races that I had always wanted to do, but could not since I was in a points chase. I really wanted to do the Gravel Grovel, but decided that the distance would be a little much for me to tackle with so much recent time off the bike. I had always wanted to hit up Jingle Cross in Iowa City, but

it had always been difficult to get the timing just
right with the holiday and my work. Somehow,
it all seemed to line up just right this year, and I decided to head west. I had to work Friday, so I was bummed about missing the night race, but in the end, I'm glad I didn't head out that day as family time would have been tight on Thursday to pack and get ready. So it worked out.... my sister Beth and I took off late Friday after work and had a nice trip to Iowa City and enjoyed catching up with each other and settled in to the hotel for some rest before heading out into the cold on Saturday... and so it began. I had always seen pictures of Mt Krumpit. I love how they say pictured say a thousand words, but somehow, that saying failed me for this venue. Funny how things never look as steep and gnarly in pictures as compared to what they really are. When we pulled into the venue on Saturday, we rounded the corner, saw the hill, and collectively said, "oh sh**." I knew I hadn't been training much lately, but I figured I had some sort of lingering fitness to hold on in this race, but my recon in pre-riding of this hill had me out of breath. It was a 200 ft "run" up and it was pure mud... and we ran up it 4 times in the race. I'll get back to that. I loved the rest of the course. It was held at a fairgrounds and had some really fun features and I felt right at home since I do most of my cross training at my local fairgrounds. I was excited to get racing, but really had no expectations since I had prep for this race in almost ZERO ways. I just didn't want to come in last. At the start we had a pretty competitive field of 25 gals and I struggled from the gun with clipping in as the pic shows above. I finally got it together once I was dead last and started to work back up. About 1/2 a lap into it, I had worked back up to 12th place and was feeling pretty good and then it hit me- the Wall. The stupid Mt Krumpit wall. Who's idea was it to put that stupid hill in the way of the cross course anyway? I started the run up and I started going backwards - it was all downhill from there. My body just didn't have it in me to exert that sort of upward effort just yet. Every lap I would gain on the bike only to drop a few more places on the run up. It was frustrating to have everything else go smoothly and watch it all become pointless on the hill. I ended up finally trying to fight the frustration and not get so ticked at myself for not being able to run up a massive hill after being really sick for the last month.

I just chilled out my attitude and enjoyed the venue and kinda rode like I was in cross practice. I think hitting the deck kinda helped me do that too (as seen in the pic above). Nothing like a high speed endo in to a downhill pile of hay bails to help you not take things too seriously. I ended up sprinting for last place on the last lap. I could have done a little better, but it just wasn't realistic for me to expect it. I have never finished last at a race like this and I would have never imagined being okay with that result, but I really didn't mind. I had fun, I did a race I've always wanted to check out, I had my sister there cheering me on, and I was able to race my bike at a pro UCI race. It easy to be the Monday QB and look through the results of the weekend and look at the snap shot of how races turned out. We all do it. But a thousand words of that snap shot isn't nearly enough to tell the whole story of what happened or what events lead up to the results. I was last on the results, but at least I was able to show up, which is something I hadn't been able to do for the previous 4 weeks.

After the race, Beth and I did some shopping after dinner. There isn't much else to do in Iowa! We both faded pretty fast while shopping and retired to the hotel pretty early. The second I hit the hotel lobby, I was exhausted. The buzz of the race was wearing off and the reality that I was still recovering from illness hit me. I was asleep by 9pm. I woke up Sunday and still felt exhausted and I had to decide what to do. I was afraid that if I raced that I wouldn't be able make the 7 hour trip home alive enough to do anesthesia Monday morning. Given how exhausted the previous day had made me, I was sure another day of My Krumpit would only compound things more. I decided to skip day 3 of Jinglecross. That decision just about killed me, but it was the smart thing to do. After all, I'm a professional and I have to assure that I can do my real job above all else in the end. Beth and I opted to have a nice breakfast and worked our way back home at a nice pace, stopping and having fun along the way. We really had a fun time together and it was a nice trip despite my race results.

Jingle cross is now marked off my "to do" list and I can say I have no desire to ever do this race again in the future. I've done enough races in my life to know that I will never be good at Mt Krumpit and if the Grinch wants to own that hill, he can have it for all I care. I'm glad I went and found that out before taking a lot of time off from work for it next year. The event was run great, the fans were wonderful and I would recommend this to other people, but it wasn't for me. I'll mark down Jinglecross on my resume as a 25th place result. It will be there visually for years to come and I'll look at the number and chuckle a little to myself knowing that it was a last place finish. I'll even chuckle a little more knowing that that is only a number and a snap shot of the journey I had to get there and fun trip I cherished with my sister.
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a memory is so much more valuable in the end.

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome.
-Booker T Washington

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Life Is What Happens While Your Busy Making Other Plans"- Lennon

So as an update, it's been 3 weeks now that I have been off the bike and down and out with illness. Not only have I not rode, I have done no type of physical activity of any kinda making this the longest period in my life that I have ever been inactive (from what I can remember). That's been a huge lifestyle shift for me, but in all honesty, I really have been too sick to really stress over it too much. After a lot of testing and talking with the Great Dr Coates, we have come to the conclusion of viral meningitis and now lingering ear infections. I'm finally rounding the corner and starting to feel better, I'm so happy to be back to work but even a day of work makes me ready to sleep the entire evening and night. Coates can't really give me a time frame for when I will be 100% recovered and the basic conclusion is that I have become chronically fatigued and that just taking things day to day is how it has to be right now. The next step is taking a look at my cortisol levels to make sure my body can get back up to snuff. That pretty much means no short term goals and no structured training plans that I'm so accustomed to. That also means no trip to Nationals for cross. When I finally came to that realization last week I was pretty devastated. I had banked my entire season and comebacks on that trip to Bend, and now some silly brain infection was gonna keep me from it and it is completely out if my control. It's was depressing to me to think back about not only overcoming the ankle surgery, but also fighting back from the emergency appendectomy in July, staying positive the whole time, putting in all the hard training days, planning, family sacrifices, equipment prep, and juggling both professions with precision, to see that all go down the drain... an entire waste of a season. I'm not looking for any outside pitty party here, I just saying I was extremely disappointed for myself. What a waste.

Was this all wasted time? A wasted season? I was forced to think back and I once again turned to my faith and my family to look at the positive side of things. I had focused my whole season on the end point... cyclocross nationals. We live our whole lives (or should) finding and doing what God has put us on earth to do to assure our eternal life after death in heaven. The goal is heaven right? Well, surely God didn't put us here simply to focus on the end point and not enjoy the journey of getting there. I had PLANNED on nats and a full cross season, but turns out, life happened while I made those plans, and looking back at the season, I had a wonderful journey, made so many memories and learned so much about myself that I really, really enjoyed the journey! It really is about the journey and sometimes I get so caught up in the goals and outcomes that I forget to take it all in and enjoy it. Life is what happens while were busy making other plans. That's something every goal driven person needs to brake check sometimes and remember. It's all happening right now as we all take in each breathe.

I did have a good season. I didn't waste my time. I had results that most people would kill for. I had a good mtb season, unexpectedly, after 2 major operations, and eventually won the DINO elite women's series. I had respectable results for a full time worker in the the major cx races, and good results in the ovcx races as well. Aside from struggling with a very bad case of hot foot all year that made every ride miserable, I had fun riding my bike. Which is really what it's about, no wasted time. Most of all, I've had a great time with my teammates, other riders, mechanics, and family this year and I really miss being out there adding more memories to that list. I love cycling, the culture, the people.

Looking back now its easy to say I pushed it too far, I pushed when my body was pulling. I have essentially drove myself into the ground. Racing 2 weeks after the appy in July probably cost me this last half of my cross season. A body can only do so much and mine did all it can do and I'm pretty impressed with how I held up even when I was in complete failure. I pretty much think that by the time the KY USGP came around, I was on fumes, but I somehow turned out a 16th and 19th! It's a good last memory to sit on for a while until I can race again. No regrets.

So I'm not sure what the rest of the year will hold for me. I hope to get back to riding pretty regularly and maybe even make a couple late cross races. I'm just gonna listen to my body and go with the flow. Since my series overall standing for ovcx goals are fading away, I really hope to be able to hit the Gravel Grovel and do some mtb riding which are things that get pushed to the back burner when I'm in cross mode. I also have some big changes happening next year and I'm really excited about those and hopefully I can let you all in on that in the not so distant future.

I'm already looking ahead to next year, and CX Nationals in Madison... but most importantly, I'm looking forward to Life's journey of getting there. Thanks for reading everyone!

"Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we'll both just have to be patient
'Cause it's a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it's a long way to go
But in the meantime....
Life is what happens while your busy making other plans."
-Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)
John Lennon

Friday, November 5, 2010

Iceman Fever!

Photo by Roberto Aviles www.icemanphotos.com
(Last year's Iceman finish. Photo: http://archive.ditzlerphoto.com/)
I think we all know how much I love doing the Iceman Cometh, heck half the country loves to do the Iceman. The last couple years it has been a nice divider to my cyclocross season and has served as a small weekend break from cross that brings me back to the days of crispy, fall mountain bike rides that I used to do before I took up the cross craze. This year's Iceman is shaping up to be a perfect set-up for me personally. I LOVE tough weather conditions (except extreme heat), and the Pro women's field has a good showing of riders, but not too many gals are signed up this year that get paid to ride their bikes. This gives a nice level playing field for us commoners. Going thru the start list I placed myself in the top 8 hopeful. But that hope is not going to happen this year. I've had a fever for 2 weeks and that doesn't mix well with a race called Iceman. Like I said in my last post, I've been battling a super bug, and after hopes it would be a quick recovery, it has been the opposite and has been a very long one. Funny to think that I was on my bike quicker after my appendectomy than what I have been with this flu bug.

In the last 2 weeks I have only been on the bike 2 times and I can't honestly see when I will be on it again. The good news is that after forfeiting a good amount of my blood for testing, I do not have mono, pneumonia, or lupus. I DO however, have the flu and I AM having a hard time fighting it. It seems I had pushed myself a bit too far and required way to much of my body to work over full time, mend busted ribs, race, train, and fight off bugs. I had been too stubborn to listen to the warning signs and figured I would push through it, but God has given me the red light and has left me no other choice, but to lay around and rest. Even though I'm bummed about missing the iceman and a few weeks of cross racing, I'm sure He has it all planned out and I have to trust that as hard as it is. I now am hungry to get back to riding and look very forward to Cyclocross Nationals on the next 5 weeks in Oregon.

In the meantime I have discovered a few things: Black kitty is super happy to have me home to keep her warm and she makes an excellent heated pillow. I have also found that 50% of tv shows involve drugs, or migration issues. I have found that I really, really dislike people who doping more and more everyday and that this probably stems from my Dad's zero tolerance to anyone who cheats in any way. I also have found that The Dog Whisperer is a much better dog trainer than the "it's me or the dog" lady. Lastly, I hate my furniture and the way it is arranged, but I'm too sick to move it or figure it out. I may just hate it because I have to be around it all day. I can't quite decide.

(Eby, aka, Black Kitty, helping to coach me on how to rest)

But in good news I've also discovered this: despite feeling like the bike industry is full of a lot of snobs and people who love themselves way too much; plus feeling like some people (ie usgp) only care to cater to the big time pros- I do realize that there are A LOT of people in the industry and around me that remember one thing: that riding a bike is fun. The person beside you rides a bike to have fun, I ride to have fun, and the 6 year old down the street rides to have fun, and we can all have fun together. There are a lot of good people in cycling and always has been and thank you to all those people.

People who race with enhancement are not having fun- they don't provide their successes, they must be in some sort of private Hell and I pray for those people to find a way out. People who snob those with entry level bikes are not cool- the person who rides a decked out Harley is enjoying the ride, but so is the guy riding a Shadow. If I had no means to ride the best stuff, I would still find a way to roll around on a department store bike and enjoy it. I'm glad I don't have to do that, but think about that personally; is it the ride or the Ride? I really believe a lot of us would go clunk over nothing and it's refreshing to feel that way.

Now go ride your bike! Someone should since I can't.

Good luck to everyone I know who is doing the Iceman this year!

Hopefully my next post is a race report or something a little more exciting to blog about.

Thanks for reading.

Matthew 16: 26

Matthew 16: 26

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but lose their soul?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On The Bridge

So I'll admit that the above photo from the Derby City USGP last weekend is pretty much an example of how things have been going for me since the UCI3 weekend. I have not quite been myself, but I continue to work through the struggles of injury, travel, work, and race results. Just like above, I pride myself in my sand pit riding skills, but in this photo I decided to dismount and dodge the other gals who maybe find this a little hard. It was a different approach, but it paid off in the end. Even though my race results have not been bad, I was hoping for better up to this point in the season, and after taking a blow at Harbin Park, my drive to keep on pushing has been tested; not my typical attitude. After a tough season plagued with physical injuries, the week after Harbin with the cracked ribs was a physical struggle and I started to question myself to ask why I continue to fight through so much physical pain in order to reach my personal cycling goals.I wandered how much I could take before cracking mentally, but I reflected and found the drive to continue. I am thankful to be a person who races for the joy of it myself and not for other's around me. Otherwise, this really wouldn't be all that fun, would it? I honestly almost decided to call it quits for the season, and I was in a pretty dark spot for a bit. This wasn't helped by the fact that every single breathe I took made me wince with pain. I won't go into my personal reasons for racing on, but after a week of pretty easy spinning, I decided at the last moment to do the Blooming cross race. I didn't want to make any long term decisions based on my current mood, so I just went racing with no expectations. I was warned to not race by my Dr, but I figured I would take it easy and try to stay in safe situations and not be too aggressive. I knew another fall to the bad side would potentially send my rib into my lung. So, I played it safe, I took off pretty slow for me and started mid- pack, trying to stay in my little safe bubble. I worked my way up to second and safely stayed there, babying around the corners and cruised in for a 2nd place. I had a good time, and boosted my love a little more since the DRT crew ran such a fun race!

The whole rest of that week was spent in Brown County in a great cabin with my Mom. We take a fall trip every year together and get some time to catch up with each other and enjoy the beauty of the area. I'm really lucky to be able to spend time like this with her, and I'm blessed to have a Mom who is also a good friend. I did some riding, read a book, sat around in the hot tub, and spent a lot of time cleaning up the cabin woods looking for firewood to burn. We really hated to leave, but we made some good memories and we already look forward to next year!

While the time in BC was great, my health that week kept going downhill. The race the Sunday before took its toll on me and I was feeling pretty bad by Wed. I had trouble breathing, was throwing up, and just felt zapped. After getting home Thur. I decided to get into see the Dr again to make sure I didn't have any major issues before the GP. We were concerned I may have lacerated a liver or have a pnuemothorax. We did several tests and I spent the day being poked and prodded and spent hour after hour in a hospital bed. Great news was that nothing major came back, but a couple things didn't add up until after the GP.

Nicole Borem (DRT Racing)
How could I miss the Derby City Cup? Biggest OVCX of the year, probably the most anticipated race in the country with the unveiling of the future World Cup venue, and the biggest pro field to date? Seriously, I was having a rough week to say the least physically and mentally, I was on the bridge about ready to jump my cycling season into the depths below... but I decided to go. What did I have to lose? If I couldn't find any motivation the morning of the L'ville gp, I wasn't going to find it at all this season. It didn't take long to find. I woke up ready to race and looked forward to the day ahead, despite spending most of the night awake and struggling to breath. I was starting to get a nasty URI and sneezing and coughing with busted ribs was not going well.
I headed out for an early recon of the course and even though I loved the set-up, I felt like I was a fish out of water. I could hardly take in any 02! I had to put that behind me and pretend I felt fine. I opted to have a very controlled warm-up on the trainer instead of putting in to many ups and downs on the tough course to preview it. I headed to the start line and tucked in the grid as the next to last starter in 39th place. Great! The truth is, I really couldn't see anything through the dust until about mid 1st lap, and I just tried to dodge the downed girls and keep my bike upright. I busted my butt the remainder of the race and focused on my on-and- off skills and somehow worked my way up to 19th place! Awesome. I was pleased with that for sure, especially after being so beat up, down and out, and in the back of the pack. I looked forward to day 2 with much anticipation.

Day 2 started a little better with a 27th start number. That didn't do me much good since I bobbled my clip and got spit to the back right from the gun. I was definitely hurting from Saturday's effort and felt like I was kicked in the ribs by a donkey, so I had to play a smart race. I took some safe decisions early to avoid pile-ups and quickly moved up to where I was the day before. I had a great time, I was in a race for 16th with a good bunch of gals and I was able to keep my head in the game to hold on to the position. I was oh-so-close to that payout of 15th place, but just couldn't quite get there. I know moving from 19th to 16th may not seem like a big deal to some, but it meant a lot to me and any sign of forward progression at this point in the season is a step in the right place for Nationals in Bend later.

I was happy I decided to make the gp, and not miss it. Thanks to all the people who cheered and encouraged for me out there! Best cheers go to the Shamrock Cycles crew for sure! It's so nice to hit a big race and have shouts out on every aspect of the course when you feel like letting off the gas.

As for this week after the gp, I have paid for my decisions physically. I continue to be in a lot of discomfort and now have a full blown cold (hopefully not pneumonia). I've been off the bike since that 16th finish on Sunday, but have managed to work and that's good. This blog is really the first productive thing I have done so far and the rv sits parked in the driveway fully waiting to be unpacked from the gp. I've tanked up my fever to 102 degrees the last few days, so hopefully that temp is killing some of the little bugs making me sickly. It's kinda funny to me that I'm now fully ready and motivated mentally to train and race again, yet my body is waiving the stop sign at the moment. Ahhh. All in time... I look forward to getting back on the bike.

As for now I'm just thankful for the attitude. I was standing on the bridge ready to jump and now I am on the bridge ready to fly!

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. - Corinthians 4:8-9

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

(Let the racing begin! Taking off in the second row to the right of the field)

Ah yes, the UCI3 Cinci weekend of racing has come and gone in a blur of excitement... or dust and heat that is. Anyone who decides to tackle this 3 day race event knows it's a tough 3 days and I was super excited to test my cross skills against a full pro women's field that seems to be growing more and more every year for this event. Sweet!
My teammates Anne Young, and Josh Johnson packed up the RV (Mr T.) and took off for the first venue on Thur night. After a uneventful trip down, we spent a little too much time going around and up and down with the RV in Devou Park to find a place to stay only to be moved by the parks department early on race day. Partial RV purpose day 1 failed.

The Good: Anyway, once we finally got settled we headed to check out the newly designed venue this year. It only took a quick glance for me to know that this was not going to be on my "like" list of cross races. This was confirmed with my pre-ride. I make no secrets that I dislike hills and this place was crawling with them! Add some massive pot holes, heat, dust (asthma), and loose untacky dirt and I seriously considered bowing out on the day of racing to save my legs for the days to come... but I'm not a quitter, and maybe I would surprise myself. All in all, I ended up 16th. Which is funny, because it happened to be my best place of the weekend. I didn't feel good, I actually felt discouraged after this race as I discovered I still have a long way to go on my cornering skills. In retrospect, this isn't a complete handicap, as I know I can work on this in the future. The race itself was pretty uneventful and since I wasn't really in the mood to race, it all seemed kinda like a foggy memory while it was happening. Day 1 done.

(Taking on the barriers. Thanks for the great pics Jeff! http://jjakucyk.exposuremanager.com)

The Bad: We packed up and moved on to the day 2 venue at Sunset park. I think everyone loves this place. I really happen to like it too and since everyone else does, I knew most of the field had the same thought in their minds: " I'm gonna kill it on day 2." I like the course here, but also love the venue itself. Lion heart's, Doug gave us a friendly greeting on arrival that night and the place also has hot showers available, plus it has a great set-up for racing and spectating. I actually felt pretty good on my warm-up and was fired up to get going. We had several more gals out there and I actually had a good spot going into the first turn for a change. Excellent. Until everyone decided to go around a tree in the same line and as the pile formed, I had to put my foot down and dismount. Wha, wha, wha... stuck in catch up mode. That's cross racing though. I did a pretty good job of chasing back, but once the tight twisty came, I started losing time again. I eventually faded to 20th. Not near what I hoped for, and I was really down after the race. It's hard to be down for long when there are so many encouraging people out there, and I was thankful for every person out there with the kind words. I do have to remember a few things and keep those in perspective: 1. what I do for a real living is pretty much way different from those who beat me and bike racing isn't my job, 2. I've had a few major physical setbacks recently, and 3. I'm still a doing pretty darn good in a highly competitive field. I tried to remember these things and get my confidence out of the gutter.

I gained a huge insight on a couple things after this race too. One of which came from a personal professional pep talk, and the other is that I have been running a retarded gear choice up to this point. This may seem minor to all of you- but it's a huge revelation to me! That said, I was really excited to get to day 3!

(One of the many corners at Java Johnny's)

The Ugly: Harbin Park is typically been on my least favorite list. It's wide open, has some gradient climbs and not really what I would think would suite me. After getting my gearing changed, however, I was looking forward to it. We woke up that morning, well, it took some time to actually wake up, and already felt the heat starting to build. After 2 brutal days of racing in the heat, I think we were all dreading racing in more heat and looked forward to getting our racing done and moving on with the day. The bus was pretty sedate that morning as we were all pretty much in zombie mode and starting to feel the effects of the days before. Regardless, we had some racing to do. I decided to limit my time on the course since it was pretty straight forward. I only did 2 recon laps and chose to stay by the fans and water at the rv on the hottest of the 3 days. My plan worked out pretty well as I was feeling surprising good in my warm up.

(Always my favorite part of cyclocross: barriers! )

At the gun I had a decent start, nothing great, but the legs felt good and I knew I could do well as the race went on. Once we got off the pavement gals started getting twitchy already and I knew that everyone was going to be crazy the whole race with this being a C1 graded race. I kept a pretty smart race at the beginning and was pleased with how some of my mental visualization had improved my corning skills so far. About midway in the race I found myself in a nice group with the exception of one reckless gals who felt she needed to chop pass in order to gain time. Apparently, this caused Anne Swartz to be unnecessarily taken out and left me wanting to get away from her as quickly as I could. I went to the front and gaped her for a while, only to find her back on my six going into some off chamber technical spots at the beginning of lap 2. Apparently, she couldn't wait the 3 extra seconds to get around me on the flats so she decided to take an outside line, cut in front of me, lose her traction and slide out right under my front wheel. That really worked out well for her! I think we all know how this goes from here... I run her over, endo over my bars, bounce down the incline for several yards at a high rate of speed, finally come to a stop only to then find myself in motion again as my left foot gets tangled in another riders bike and I get dragged several more feet before she stops to let me out. All I have to say it thank goodness I was tangled in Gerry S's bike and she took the time to let me out, or my foot would have been cracked for sure! I don't think some other gals would have been so nice. In those seconds I was being dragged like a cowboy stuck on a bucking bronco, I was kinda laughing that this just had to be happening to my reconstructed ankle... really? Finally the never ending crash came to a stop. Hello! Where am I? And is it possible my entire body is broken because it sure felt like it. I was none to happy to say the least, but I tried to keep my cool and found my bike and thought if I got going again I would shake off the horrible feeling of blunt trauma. So after getting my chain put back on, I took a few pedals and thought I should stop and take a look at my foot since it hurt really bad (I hurt everywhere really bad) and take a better assessment. Okay, I just need to get going as the entire field is long gone. After riding for several minutes I decided something was wrong, I didn't know what, so I easy spun and started doing an anesthesia assessment on the go.... collarbone- seems okay, right wrist- not cool, couldn't feel my fingers (I ended up bruising my carpel tunnel), reconstructed ankle- sore, but workable, right and left back of shoulder- grass rash and bruises, left toe and inside of foot- wasn't sure (ended up with a huge bruise here), left hip- grass rash and big hematoma, right arm- some sort of puncture wound, right knee- cuts and bruises, right shoulder- bruising, lungs- just the wind knocked out of me... nothing seemed major, I just felt stunned. Or so I thought. Anyway, I decided to drop out at the end of the second lap. I was having trouble breathing and couldn't hold the handlebars. I was bummed, I had felt so good. Doesn't that always figure? Great legs and something beyond your control messes it up. Oh well. Done deal.

On the way home I had a few hours to replay things while driving the rv. My mates were resting their wounds as Anne decided to crack her head and get a concussion on her warm-up and Josh wrecked and flatted out of the race too. I took a look back over my 18 years of racing and came to the conclusion that this was the first race I had ever dnf'ed because of a body mechanical. Ever. I felt like a wimp, maybe I should have finished. What was my problem, nothing was bleeding bad or any bones sticking out.

Well, after a couple days at home, I still felt like a train wreck. I was in the ER staring a IV on a pediatric patient for work and asked the ER doc to take a look at my side that had been killing me. Case closed. I had broke my ribs in that massive pile drive into the hard ground. No wander I felt like my lungs had been dislocated. That's what was wrong. Even though I didn't feel so much like a wimp for the dnf, the last few days really has me tip toeing through the days. I'm getting really tired of being in pain and having bad body luck. I pray it changes for me soon, I would really like to see what I can do at a race 100%. Who knows? I'm sure God has this all planned out, but I hope the gal in question learns that racing a bike is NOT worth riding dirty and injuring other people around you. That's just ugly.

Anyway, the long weekend was fun, and I enjoyed the races and time with my teammates. It was so cool have the local fans out there cheering me on, and that always makes you go a little faster. I wish I could have produced a little better results for everyone, but in the end, I'm proud of what I accomplished. Thanks for reading and cheering everyone! Until next time- HUP, HUP!

(Making it cleanly through the sand pit before we both got wrecked!)

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11