Friday, May 25, 2012

Photo Cred...

Almost forgot to give credit where credit is due. New blog title photo from William Snyder . Check out some of his nice work in your free time.... and buy a photo or two and support those taking time to sit in trail brush to get a picture of you riding your bike!

2 Wins, 2 Days...and a 2nd Place!

Well, another Fat and Skinny weekend is done and although I put up some respectable results, I feel like I was really just "training" my way through the race weekend and can now move on to considering the rest of the summer as "racing." I say that because of my lack of preparedness I've had on the bike with the cyclist knee all spring, and even though I wasn't too far off the lap times I posted last year, I had to work for every second of it. It is what it is though, and I think as a general rule, most of us cyclist hardly ever feel truly as fit as we ever want to be going into a race. At least for me in my 20 something years of racing, I've only maybe felt prepared as much as I wanted to be about 10 times. Regardless, I mustered up a 2nd place in Saturday's DINO XC event, losing only by 20 seconds or so, pushed through leg cramps in the 35 mile road race a couple hours after finishing that, and endured a 2 full lap mtb time trial and a short track on Sunday for two wins! And it was a hot weekend for us Northerners!

Saturday's race results were a complete shock to me. Honestly, I knew at least 4 of the other gals had several more races under their belt thus far this season than I have had, and knowing how little proper training I had, I really was just hoping to hang on for a top 5 finish. So before the race, I had almost zero race day nervousness, it's hard to be nervous when lack of fitness is totally out of your control. Turns out maybe I should have channeled some nerves to get the adrenaline flowing as I found myself in a nice position in second place behind Sierra S going into the single track. After a short spell, I passed by her on a bit of a technical log and hung out in 1st place for quite a while of the 1st lap until the eventual winner caught up to me. I decided to let her take the lead so I could just hang out behind her and put the pressure on while she would pick her way through the massive amount of cat 2 men we had to pass while not giving away my home trail lines. This all worked out like a good plan most of the race until it didn't. I was feeling great just hanging out until one of the men I was trying (and I say trying like I had been asking him for several hundred yards to let me by) decided to come over "on the left" on me after I yelled "I'm now passing on your left" about 4 times. This little move by him planted me straight into a tree, along with my right shifter. I spent way too much time untangling my bike from underbrush and with that, away went my contact with the leader. I spent the remaining time trying to catch back up... which I did pretty well, only to fall short by less than a minute. I was happy with second really, but it was so frustrating to have it be that way. I know it's a tough course to pass on, but I feel like the hardest part of the race was trying to pick my way through the cat 2 men's field than actually racing the course and my competitors, but I know 1st place had to do the same. I just wish the promoter would be so kind as to let us cat 1 gals start in front of the 40+ cat 2 men so we could run our race as a race. All in all, my satisfaction on the day came down to how I did personally, and I felt I gave it all I had and exceeded my expectations. Can't ask for more than that!

(Hanging out at the start of the Planet Adventure Short Track start with Mr Will. Keep your eyes on this kiddo... he's got a bright cycling future! )

Shortly after the xc, I chatted around a bit with the dirt crowd and made a last minute decision to do the  road race. I should have chatted less and rehydrate more... but I packed up and headed over to the skinny wheel side of the weekend. The road race had a good number of gals at the start and I was looking forward to riding around with the group for a bit. Alas, it wasn't to be. With my Garmin 500 giving me a temp reading of 101 and me with little re hydration... once the real racing got started I immediately cramped pretty bad and the main field left me behind. I found another gal to ride with for a couple laps, but I knew the catching the main group without my hamstrings wouldn't work out. I gave a dnf a serious thought several times, but as the song goes: I shaved my legs, I paid my money..... so I was sure as heck gonna start what I finished! 

After the 2 races in the heat, I was given a good lesson in what the neurologist expert in myesthenia gravis meant when she said that it would be aggravated by extremes of heat. This was the first time I had really put in any effort in the heat, and I certainly know now what happens. I spent the night with major, major hand and feet cramping and super droopy eyes. MG cramps aren't really like sports cramps and it works a bit differently. So I had to lay low and use as little energy as possible and suffer through it. I took my medicine and went to bed with hopes it would settle down with a good night's sleep unsure if I would be able to safely race the next days events.

Luckily, I woke up as I do any other day now with the MG, a bit slower to get moving while my body waits for my morning dose of MG meds to take effect, but after that, I didn't have any signs of aggravation so I headed back to the Winona trails for a day of Planet Adventure mtb races. I was pretty excited that F &S added 2 full days of mountain biking as I don't consider myself a road racer at all. Especially when I have no team support around me when other riders in the crit would. It would be like Kobe showing up solo to play a full 5 man nba team. His chances of winning aren't very good and would likely be a waste of everyones time. So I started the morning with the 2 full lap tt. I was moving pretty slow compared to the day before, but I managed to snag a win and met my goal of only be 10 minutes slower than the day before. I really had no reason to go out and bury myself, I only needed to go as fast as I needed to to win. After that, I had a short break before the short track race. By this time my legs and engine were pretty much all but running on fumes, but I still had fun doing some racing. Especially since st always gives me a little feeling of the cx season to come. The PA ( guys did a great job of making the day super fun and even though the turnout was low, I have a feeling people will catch on next year and plan on doing more mtb racing on day 2! I managed to win both of these events... with some good competitors of all ages, and I was happy to get out of my cycling race mode and head back over to the village to watch my bud, Josh Johnson race with his Bissell Nuvo squad for the men's 1/2/3 crit. Good job Joshie! 

(... and the two winners of the ST for the weekend! Hopefully we both can repeat this in races in the near future. Kudos also to my Men of Steel teammate Sarah F. on a Cat2 ST and XC win and to all my teamies on great rides over the entire weekend! Thanks to Will's Dad, Mike for the picture. I'm always so proud to see young people enjoy the sport like Will and I just love this picture.)

It was nice to finally relax and sit by the lake with some good friends and watch others do work after a full 2 days of racing and what better setting then the Village of Winona ( to do it at! After all the racing was done, I chugged a Perrier and ate an entire 1000 Park wood oven pizza in about 5 minutes flat! I think I burned a few calories during the weekend for sure. 

And last but not least, I would be remiss to not mention again that this was my first mtb race back since last year before I had surgery and almost went to ride in heaven for good after that. I felt really thankful and blessed to be able to race in this way, not only because I have a neuromuscular disorder (, but to also because I got to do it in my home trails. We all also know the weekend was a celebration of a friend who has passed on, Robbie Gast. I did that the best way I knew how to celebrate by personally celebrating being alive. Robbie didn't let a moment go by without enjoying life, and almost dying myself, I don't ever want to either!  Four races were the most races I have ever done in a weekend... it was a lot to do, it was kinda crazy, but I think I wanted to prove to myself that I'm not going to let this disease, my dead right lung, or my previous obstacles get the best of me, that I can lead an outstanding life on and off the bike, and live every moment to the fullest until the day God decides it's finally my time. I did it for myself and for all the other people out there that have a disease or disorder that seems like a HUGE obstacle to overcome some days. You can overcome it too! 

As I try to remember:
Lord don't move my mountain... just give me the strength to climb it! 
Believe He will! He did and He does! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hello Again!

Wow! Talk about a blog hiatus. Since I've been busy with life the last several weeks and haven't posted, I figured I do a quick run down and put the last weeks in a nutshell before the summer and racing season (before the real racing season of cx) get into full swing. First thing that comes to mind since way back when was a super fun mini camp in Brown County with my Men of Steel ( teammates back in March. As you can see we had a great turnout of guys for camp and one girl... me. We had some great riding weather and it was pretty fun to see how everyone was so fit after a pretty mild northern Indiana winter. The team got in plenty of miles over a couple days and my schedule allowed for me to stay and train a couple more solo after all the guys took off. I've been riding BC several years now and know the area really well, but treated myself to taking some different roads and getting lost a couple times. Mostly, I was rewarded with some fabulous isolated roads, and only found myself in a couple "I could get kidnapped and used for dog food" areas while I was out there. Thankfully, that didn't happen and I'm pretty happy to have some new routes to add to my favorite place to drive and train at! 

(Back in Black for the Mountain Bike and Road season with Men of Steel Racing team p/b Wagner Research)

I was also stoked to hit the State Park and take the new 29er Specialized Epic S-works (aka Big Red) out for it's maiden voyage ( I haven't had a full suspension bike in a few years since I have never really liked the bob while standing to pedal... but this bike instantly blew me away at how smart the rear suspension "brain" is. Not to mention just how butter smooth the ( ) components are! Blew. Me. Away! I can't wait to give it a go in a area that really cries for the aggressive need for suspension. 

(Nice view from my hotel deck after long days of training in BC)

After  four days of riding in the hills I was pretty exhausted. I had not been out of shape, but I had also just been getting over a long lasting bronchitis, so the effort was a good kicker to the system. All that riding turned out to work against me as it was a bit too much too soon in addition to an improper saddle height. After BC camp pretty much up until now, some 6 weeks later, I have struggled with a very painful knee problem. Tight IT led to a mistracking patella, lead to swelling under my kneecap and blah, blah, blah I was facing more time off the bike. It's been limited training time for me, but I was just thankful this happened now and not near cyclocross season. I was also thankful that it wasn't something that needed surgery! These sort of injuries take a lot of time to overcome and I feel pretty blessed to have some time right now to heal up properly. After a check up on my bike and cleat fit with the best fitters in the buiz at Summit City bicycles ( ) and a  good run of physical therapy with the masters at KCH Regional Rehab, I got things squared away. Thankfully, I'm pretty much back in the saddle and ready to get back to serious training with Coach Mark Faz ( That also means I can start thinking of a nice event and goal for the mtb/ road season too. Not sure what it will be, but with 20+ years of racing under my belt, I'm thinking I may look for a little bit of a different challenge until cx gets here... who knows?

(Rest break with the guys at camp. Don't think you'll find a nicer bunch of guys.)

Aside from all the fun at camp I was also able to get back to racing recently. I did a major crowd attending crit,  worthy of some UCI cyclocross pro races I've done. The streets were packed and everyone cheered the entire 60 minutes! Where could this be you ask? The small town of Goshen Indiana. Seriously, no joke. These people know how to hold a bike race during their "First Friday's" events. The majority of the crowd didn't know or care about how fancy the bikes were, what sort of shoes you had, or how pro you looked. They did know that the first one across the line was the winner and that everyone, and I mean everyone, deserved to be cheered on every lap regardless of what team they were a part of. Great job Goshen ( )! I lined up with the Cat 1/2/3 men since they have yet to include a women's race (but rumor has it they will in 2013). I knew the pace would kill me, but I also knew what doesn't kill me would make me stronger. I got dropped like a brick off the Sears tower. But I gave it my all the entire time and caught the tail of the group each time I was lapped. I didn't crash, I had fun, and I accomplished what I wanted to. I can't stress enough how sweet this event is... if you can take part next year, DO IT!

(Sleepy eyes and stiff legs at the team breakfast table the second day of camp before the riding got started)

Next up for racing is my local race: Fat and Skinny Tire Festival ( Also a must do event for those of you who haven't taken part of it yet. I had naturally targeted this to be a weekend to be in good form for this year, but given the circumstances and the knee issue and some other personal issues I've dealt with here the last couple months, it looks like I will try to race above what I'm really fit for and just take whatever that leads to. So is life... take it as it comes. I just plan on enjoying taking part and keeping in mind that I was almost not able to do stuff like this had things went another way for me. I'm also pretty excited about the event adding a full 2 days of mtb in the mix. Since I'm not really a road racer at all, I look forward to spending the weekend in the dirt on some of the best trails there are... and proving that with the right attention, treatment, and determination- a person with myasthenia gravis can be competitively active!

See you all at the races!

Fat & Skinny Tire Fest