Sunday, May 23, 2010

Better to ride well and lose?

So Coach Chuck Noll always told his players that its better to play well and lose, than it is to play poorly and win. Right on Chuck! I'm with ya. Don't get me wrong, I love winning, but it just never feels quite the same as when you have a great day no matter what the outcome. I won a race today at the Drt Winona TT and even though I posted a decent time, I had a poor race. I happened to win since I was the only gal out there, but I felt I could have beat a few more guys on the list. Even though I had a full minute improvement on my lap from previous tests that were not as muddy, I just didn't put it all together. It was kinda like I had planned to make an awesome red velvet cake, went to the store and bought the best ingredients and came home and put it all together, except it just didn't come out quite right. Yeah, my cake was a little flat today, but I guess that gives more all the more reason to try the receipt again- I have all the stuff, I just need to get it right... and one of these days it will go perfectly again and I will stand on that top step with my head-up and not down as above. I would truly rather race well and lose, but I know there will be wins too that I will also win as a result of racing well.

So I've had a blast here the last few weeks training, or maybe just blasted by some rain while training. I have also had some testing on the ankle last week with Dr Porter. I know I haven't updated on it lately, and since I've been getting a lot of questions how its been doing, here's the low down:
I am now rounding the 6 month mark since the major reconstruction revision and about 9 weeks since the scar debridement surgery. What I fooled myself into thinking would be a quick recovery, I'm learning is not quite the case at all. I'm doing really well on the bike since we don't rely on lateral movement much, and I've been training hard, but ask me to play a little B-ball or walk on uneven ground and I am handicapped. I had a cool opportunity to take part in some testing of the ankle's and surgery leg's dynamics, ROM, and strength at the Methodist Sports Med facility last week. It's all kinda involved with lots of details, but basically, I still am only at 30- 40% strength and function on the surgery leg. That may be okay for an old lady who walks at Walmart, but not for a elite cyclocross racer. As is obvious, I have some major work to do still. And so I will. Since I'm a number person, its nice to see the deficit with software and we are going to test again in 2 months to see how I've improved. It's gonna take time, and lots of it! Projection from DrP has me working on this for another year minimum to get back to normal, but I'm no stranger to hard work, and I will just have to commit myself to the therapy and let my body do its thing. The good thing is that, come cyclocross season, I should be strong enough to not fracture my ankle from the weak muscles (please take time to knock on wood now), and be able to perform at a higher functional level than last year! Rad.

(The ankle now at 6 months is much smaller than the first month as shown in pics! I've lost about 4.5 inches off my calf muscles. I'm always surprised how dead my ankle looked right after surgery compared to now... yes, that's the same leg)

As far as the thorn in my side, the nerve pain and damage, it continues to be a big issue. DrP injected the area with steroids to see if that can calm it down. Whowsers! That totally was not fun! It was very painful and even though I've had a lot of injections in my life, this topped the scale. Its still super sore 5 days later, but hopefully in a few days I will see a improvement in the nerve pain and swelling. Regardless, I'm sure we will figure something out, and I'm just thankful to be able to train and race through it all!

Anyway, that's a quick update. As always, thanks to everyone for the well wishes and thoughts. Its funny to think how we focus so much on the "day" of surgery, but the repercussions of some surgeries to recover from can take so long and encompass a lot of what you deal with every single day. I didn't "go" through this injury and leave it behind the day the cast came off; I'm "going" through the work of getting better every moment still 6 months down the road. There is very few times in the day that I forget that I have a rehabbing ankle. That being said, I'm totally thankful for such a cool support crew that has helped me with it! I know its been a long process, but everything is so worth it!

Otherwise, I'm back to work, life and training this week before heading down to the French Lick Drt race next weekend. Looks to be a fun venue and I suggest everyone try to make it to preview the DINO race there later in the year.

But bring your A game, I'm gonna try to put together a receipt for success, and win or lose, I'm going to strive for a good race.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ground Hog Day in May?

So I've now had 2 weeks off of racing and I've really been enjoying the time at home, training, my own bed, and time to get my spring yard duties done. Spring is a bit of a crazy time of year for me since I continue to desire to have some landscaping and flowers around the house. Spring cleaning up on top of finding some long days in the saddle, to continue to build base, can lead to some late nights. I've decided to have a man mow my yard full-time this year which has really taken a load off and I'm thankful I can do that. This gives me a couple more hours in the week to do some other things that need done. As you can see from the picture above, one of these things was getting some hooks up in the garage to put wheels and tires on. I think I need a few more hooks to complete the deal. Its also a busy time for my birding activities as nesting is going on and territories are being established , so the feeders and nesting materials require some extra work.

Its also been nice to not be on the road so much. The nice weather has allowed me to pretty much commute by bike around town and to work, which I love doing. Especially since it is bike to work month. I haven't filled the gas tank in 2 weeks now! Nice. Of other note: KCV has partnered with 1000 Park Bake-afe in Winona Lake for Bike To Work Day on March 22 at 0700 to all who ride to work that morning to give away some special treats. I will be working in another city that day, but what a cool thing for my locals otherwise!

I've had a busy last 3 days of some fun training, coupled with some unexpected drama. I am actually stalling my time by blogging right now to give my body a little more rest before I head out to ride my last 3 hours of this training block that Drt Consulting has planned for me. I started my training Friday after work by doing a tough workout with my strength coach Darrell. I'm starting to feel really strong again core wise and I can really tell how connected my body is on the mountain bike because of it... but man are those workouts tough! I followed that by a early morning ride with the local group Saturday morning for a few hours. I then did tons of yard work that afternoon. I was exhausted, but I love tcb! Sunday morning, ground hog
day, I headed out for a epic mtb at Winona. I was able to meet up with Dave Strole and Josh J. for a lap. They were both flying and I was still trying to get my groove on. Cool to see my teammates riding so strong! After they headed home I settled into what I thought would be a nice, steady 3 more hours of riding on some perfect trail. At hour 2 that proved otherwise. I was flying down the goat trail hill to the bridge crossing and looped my bar end around some old trail fencing and found myself lying in a bank of dirt. It was one of those crashes that you don't even know what hit you and all you know is you are suddenly going to crash hard. I almost saved it by overcorrecting to not fly off the bridge, but ended up paving some new trail with my new xx gears. Not cool. I also flatted my front tire and was bummed to have to spend time fixing it before I could get back to riding. Anyway, bruised knee and elbows- no big deal. I have my crash out of the way so I can move on.

Well, not so quick there Nik. I enjoyed the rest of my ride and nearing my time on the trail that day I decided to light it up and head out of the last portion with some quickness. Well, seeing how's it was my ground hog day, that didn't work out. I railed a blind corner and found myself staring at a huge hog across the trail and me being the animal lover I am decided to swerve and miss it (I actually just did this out of instinct). It was a slow-mo crash and I knew I was heading for a tree and after that I knew I was heading for
an arrow trail marker, and then the ground. Yep, I ping- ponged off the tree with my bar, then tried to miss the post, which I mostly did, then slammed torso down to the ground. I simply was in the wrong place at the right time as they say. I gashed my calf on the plastic arrow, I think, and landed my back side on some forest, and knocked the breathe out of me on the ground. I laid there thinking I broke my ribs, but then after catching my breathe I was more just hoping I wasn't laying in poison ivy again, and I kinda had to laugh at the whole situation of the thing. So as I was looking at the poison ivy, I wandered what kind of plant has a bloody look to it. Oh, well, guess I'm spurting blood all over from my leg like Thor did from his arm that one year in Le Tour. Hmm, okay, guess I have to break out my old trauma ER knowledge and play EMT. Good thing it was cold that morning and I had my arm warmers in my pocket, they made a perfect tourniquet. That's another thing my Swiftwick products can do! I went down to the creek and cleaned off the bloody mess, saw that I could see the muscle hanging out, fixed my bike and headed home. I was just thankful this happened at the end of my ride and didn't interupt my training! Seriously.
I would have snapped a pic of the wound, but I didn't want to get blood all over my Iphone.

I went home and injected some lidocaine to take away the burn and thought I would close it myself, but one nice thing about working in anesthesia is that I know a few surgeons here and there, so why not have them fix it? I called my friend Dr Cook and he said he would be glad to fix me up and I met him at his OB/GYN office within the hour. Sure beats the ER. I know that sounds unfair to some people, but we put in a lot of crazy times together in surgery and we try the best we can to take care of each other and Dr Cook is man that follows this code. God only know how many gazillion sutures he has put in in his life, so a few more is no big deal. Anyway, he was going to put in a simple running stitch to make it look nice, but he thought better of it since I told him I had more riding to do Monday and he thought the runner would rip open, so he went with old school single closures. Its not like I really care about scars on that leg anymore, I think I'm far from my leg modeling days. He put in some muscle stitches underneath and about 8 or 9 stitches on the skin layer and I'm good as new! Well, maybe a little rough this morning. Maybe a lot rough. I know that all seems like a bummer day, but I really didn't mind it too much. I'm thankful to know some people to help me out, I got all my riding done, my bike is intact, and I don't need major surgery. What is a major incident for some people, isn't too bad for me anymore since I'm so accustom to major surgeries.

I'm now off to ride the road bike for a few hours in the rain, and of coarse I will have my eyes peeled for ground hogs or whatever else my be darting across the road. I don't want a ground hog day repeats!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Check this out!

So check this stuff out people. I have a couple of really cool companies on board this year that I want to share with you all during this post.

First off, I'm really excited about a company that is located right here in Northern Indiana, but you wouldn't know the difference between them and some Belgium company that is cooking embro in a damp, stoney basement somewhere while prepping bikes for a snowy cross race. Let's face it, we all love rides that require embro (at least I do) and the couple at Winston's Brand have great products for these days and other items too!
I'm excited to have Winston's on-board this year as a sponsor because they have a good thing going for them. I've always had a hard time finding a embro that gets my legs up to the warm level, but the stuff Aaron cooks up is the only product I have ever used that does the trick... and I've used a lot! While not a big name company, it's refreshing to use a product that is being produced with the passion to just get the product out there for people to enjoy. Aaron and Mary at Winston's do just that. Check them out occasionally at to order online. They have all you need from summer blends to chamois cream... along with the best logo ever. Nice!

Next is another company based in TN and that's Swiftwick. They advertise as "the best you'll ever wear" and that's no joke! I was given a pair of these socks 3 years ago and loved them so much I wore them for every race since then. That's a lot of use and not a single sign of breakdown! They have since improved on that design and have several options of material and cuff heights now. They obviously "wick" swiftly as the name implys, but they also have a snug fit in just the right places without being too tight.

My favorite is the merino 4. I swear, its the best wool sock I have ever put on my feet! I also love the arm warmers and they are perfect for a little chillier ride then the standard spandex type arm warmer. I also find the olifen 1 to be a great sock to wear to work everyday. These socks add compression value and coming off of foot/ankle surgery, that's been a huge help! Dr Porter, my surgeon, Indianapolis Colt's surgeon, and one of the leading ankle surgeons in the world took a look at these sock and said that he like them! Yeah, you should probably get some.

In order to do that, make a trip on over to Revolution Bike and Bean in Bloomington. As of yet, they are the only Indiana shop that has these bad boys. We all know the RBB is on top of the game, so go get some socks and a latte! Otherwise, if you can't get into see those guys, take advantage of this offer. The cool folks at Swiftwick will spread a little love through me to hook you up. You can use a one time coupon code to get 15% off your online order at Once you place your order, type in NicoleRaces1 to get the discount. You should see "you're a friend of Nicole's, you're a friend of Swiftwick! Enjoy 15% on your total order from Swiftwick." Now go order some stuff! You won't regret it!

So that's the word, I am enjoying a couple off weeks from racing. I'm just training, training, training. Matter of fact its a chilly, rainy, day today and I need to head out for a couple hours of riding before work. Good thing I have some Winston's Hot Embro, some Swiftwick socks, and my Drt kit to help me enjoy the ride!

See ya!

Monday, May 3, 2010

First and Stoked at Fat and Skinny!

That's right. I took first place at my local venue during the Fat and Skinny Tire Fest this past weekend. I'm really happy about it. It was really special to me because it took so much pain and work to get back to the top step after such a hard surgery and recovery from the ankle operation that was just 5 short months ago. I was also stoked for the win because it was at my hometown and I always seem to come up a little short here. It was also cool because, even thought reports may say otherwise, even though I trailed the leader at the halfway point, I was right with her and I knew my tank had more in it and I was following patiently while saving my lines. She did flat, and even though no one really knows, I have no doubt that I would have won the race regardless.

The weekend started off just as expected for me. I spent the days before getting things around and hustled around to get the bike up to Summit City to have the guys set Yang up with a spare set of more aggressive mud tires since the forecast looked rainy. After the pre-ride with Don on Friday, I was hoping for a little rain as the ground was very loose and dry. I even washed out and pile drived the ground as a result of this. Well, we got more than a little rain to say the least. Thankfully, KCV had the trails prepped perfect and even though it was muddy, it handled the mud as best as any trail could. I decided to opt for the more aggressive tire on the front and I was thankful Terry T had the set up dialed.

Unfortunately, I also had a storm of my own Friday evening. I hadn't been feeling to smurfy all day and after eating my pre-race dinner, I confirmed I was not Smurfy at all. I threw it all up and spent the rest of the day feeling like I could blow at any minute. Not fun, and not helpful to fuel for a 2 hour race. I spent the rest of the night lazing around hoping for the best in the morning. I was bummed to miss the critical mass ride and the kick off party, but any movement was like riding a roller coaster.

Come Saturday morning my teammate Brien Fields and I ate breakfast and headed to the race venue. I had a wave of nausea hit me again and after doing my warm-up I felt like I was hit by a truck. I almost decided to not race, but figured that I would just try it and see how it went. Glad I stayed out there! We took off with a great women's field and I dipped in the woods in the lead. I wanted to stay up front with the muddy conditions, but wanted to sit behind the leaders to save my line knowledge from the other gals. I settled into second and then decided to lose about 30 seconds by getting my crash out of the way. Seems like that was the trend of the day and I then found myself in 3rd behind a fast Amanda McKay. She also decided to do a spectacular crash and I got caught up behind that for several seconds and 1st place gained some more time there. I dipped back into 2nd and rode a smooth back half and after about 10 minutes caught Nikki D, sat in, and waited. She took a line, flatted unfortunately, and I just rode a smooth race from there on out. I ended the race at 1:40 minutes. It was a painful ride for me and my legs felt horrible the whole race. I was only able to gag down 1/2 a water bottle for the whole race because of the nausea, but somehow I pulled out a very respectable time and grabbed the win. I would have loved to see how I would have done if I wasn't fighting the flu, but it was about the win today and not really the time. Drt pretty much cleaned up on the day, as Andy Messer took the Pro men's win as well! We had several other riders that placed high in the rankings in the mtb race- good job team!

(The 29er worked great! And the Specialized Captain gripped like money)

Sunday was the road crit in the Village. I was pretty much indifferent to this race. I knew I had a few teammates out there racing, so I decided I would go play with the roadies for 40 minutes. I felt a bit better from the bug after resting Sat evening and even thought the ground was a bit slick, I decided to race 30' before start time. Coach Don gave me orders to just play man to man with Bri Kovac and not try to match every break that the Alderfer Bergan (AB) gals threw out. I focused on that and let everyone else go as they pleased. While my team was strong, they are in different cats from me and thier race had a different pace. That had me pretty much playing 1 on 4. Like I say, no one would go to a Bball tourney, pay money as a solo player and expect to win against a 5 man team, but that what I was doing. That's what the AB gals are supposed to do in there race, play as a team, but I in no way had delusions of beating everyone. I did however, accomplish my goals for the race. I stayed upright, match Bri on her multiple attacks until the last 5 minutes or so, and I got in some great high intensity training. I found myself in a little sprint for 4th in the end, but being out numbered and in a point in my recovery with basically no high end training, I didn't even battle it out. I finished 5th on the day. Nothing to be ashamed of considering its my very last type of racing I focus on for the year. It was a fun race and it was made a little better by the tougher conditions. Right up my alley. AB gals had a good team effort and my team did good as well. Emily B got 6th and Anne Y rode strong as well as Katie G.

So Fat and Skinny wraps up another year. Its always great to have such a big festival right in my back door. As a National racer who travels miles and miles all year, its nice to have a little respite from the car time. Its always crazy racing at home with so many people who know you that demand a little time away from the normal race prep, but its great to showcase what a great sport that cycling is. I felt pleased with the weekend and was proud of my cycling community for all the great work they do, and I always leave this festival wandering if my local cycling community feels the same of me. Even through the rain and mud, the event was a big hit and I can't tell you all how thankful us cyclist should be for all the time and thought KCV puts into such a unique event.
Kudos to all the other local racers from beginners to pros! We represented the local cycling abilities well.

Mark your calenders for next year racers and race fans- its gonna be even better!