Well, here we are, about to turn the calendar over to December. And with that comes short hours of daylight, cold temps, and fewer exposures to races and riders. As I expressed last year, the people who really want to do well at Nationals and beyond really have to dig deep to continue to train at a high level during these next couple months. Sounds easy enough, but the motivation factor must remain pretty high while keeping the distractions low. No easy task considering most of the social media world racers seem to have already resolved to riding the trainer indoors. I'm sure this is multi factorial for many, including lack of good lighting investments, warm clothing and for some, living in highly populated areas where cars are not looking for bike riders at night. For me however, I am trying to stay on the outside as long as I can. I loath the trainer, I find it horrible in many ways, plus I find it pretty easy to burn out on riding if too much time is spent going nowhere!
As most of you know, I have some pretty crazy work hours, so almost everyday of riding right now is in the dark for me. It may seem strange, but I don't really mind it all that much. Riding at night has it's own calmness about it in many ways. Usually the traffic in my area is much more subdued, the busy hum of life is calm and the darkness is a welcome blanket over the busy work day I've left behind. The only downside is the temps get pretty chilly quick once the sun is down and since I'm quite a bit north of my fellow racers, most of my rides are sub 30 degrees (or lower) at this point in time... not to mention the deer factor is pretty high. But... it keeps me motivated and I feel I remain focused on nationals.
Some days I think about summertime rides, ya know, the ones where I actually got to ride with other people, yeah that was pretty cool. I sorta feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere, all alone most days on my rides, but I'm sure there will be plenty of people to ride with once the gun goes off in Madison and L'ville :)
|Nice field for the Planet Adventure ICX race! What a great day at the races!|
So last weekend I did a little racing (surprise). Saturday was the ICX race in Indy at the famous Major Taylor and Sunday I headed down to Lexington, KY for the OVCX race. It's no secret that I've faced some health issues as of late, and I can honestly say my mind was far from focused on racing these days as a result of that. The Friday prior to Indy, my gyn discovered a suspicious looking ovarian mass, after I've been having ongoing related issues for several months now, and I was slated to see a oncologist the following Monday. Even though I attempted not to worry all weekend, the events of my health consumed my every thought and focusing on doing well in a bike race seemed like an irrelevant detail in my life. However, racing did prove to be a minor distraction at the time and it kept my nerves at bay for a short period. Fast forward a week and many prayers later, so far the cancer markers have come back negative. This is beyond a major blessing as it indicates that I likely do not have advanced ovarian cancer, it could still be cancer... just early and more manageable. It could also mean I have a benign mass and this is the better and more likely option! At this point, we wait 2 more weeks to recheck the cancer markers, and reassess the mass, then make more operative decisions from there, so my immediate future on the bike is a bit up in the air, but I don't want to sit around staring at the wall, I'm going to live life.
|Tackling the downhill at the MTV Cycloplex. It only took me 2 laps to get the hang of it. Haha|
So yeah, the bike race: even thought the weekend was a bit of a fog for me, I did pretty respectable Saturday. The women's field was great since it was also a collegiate regional, so we had a good mix of regular and college gals. I had a slow start, but remained near the front on the first lap to the famous Katie Antonneau and Jakcie Kurth, I'm sure they were just toying with me, but it was good to be behind their lines for a bit. After that I faded a little behind my class competition to 2nd place and remained there at a good steady effort until the end. It was a super fun venue and the vibe was great the entire day. Kudos for Marian Cycling (http://www.muknights.com/sport/0/21.php) for putting on such a great event for us racers.
After the race I got to spend a short time with my buddy Josh Johnson and his family. I'm super proud of Josh and his accomplishments this year while pursuing his education at the same time! He has recently been selected to go to EuroCross camp and I'd like to take the moment to ask any of you to support his trip if you can in any way, so shoot him a email if you could be so generous, every little bit helps ( email@example.com). He's a great kid and has a wonderful attitude and work ethic to represent the sport we all love. Personally, I have found few things more rewarding than seeing people I had mentored work hard and achieve their goals!
After that it was onto to Cinci area to stay overnight with my awesome teammates Bill and Terri before heading down to Lexington with them the next day. I had never been able to make the trip to the Lexington race due to its distance from my home, but this year I ended up with a Monday off work so making the 6 hr drive home after the race wasn't a huge deal since I didn't have to be to work early the next day.
|Taking my teammate Xavier Chickenski on a hot lap in warm-ups at Lexington OVCX. Turns out... he really doesn't taste like chicken at all.|
My focus the day of the race seemed to be even worse than the previous day for some reason. Sure, I went through the motions good enough, I just was in a mental fog. That's just life I imagine. I started out pretty good I suppose and was probably in a top 5 spot I imagine, but the race moved ahead of me after that.
|Uphill start to the Lexington race. It really wan't my kind of course, which meant it was my teammate Terri's, she finished 2nd on the day!|
I didn't really feel like I was particularly slow, just my drive to dig deep was a bit lacking on this day. At a ovcx race with such great competition, this just can't be done if you want to do well. To do well in such a bright field required focus and determination and I was lacking these things this weekend. I never gave up though and kept on pedaling until the end. I actually ended up 9th overall and made the podium for the Elite Master's class in 3rd place. Not too bad for having a "bad weekend" and I can't really complain too much about it considering my circumstances. I think my mind really had mentally checked out and my results showed it. Not that I'm complaining about it because it's my choice and what I love to do, but at this point I had been on the road, far from home for the last 14 weekends in a row, then coming home to work full time and train as well. I think it's only natural that at some point your mind and body needs a time out and mine seems to be now.
|Another great day for racing... perfect temps for a mid- november race. No need for warn embro today... but rather some warm weather Mad Alchemy blend instead ( http://madalchemy.com/products/warm_weather.html)!|
So after that I decided to take a break for a weekend. Even though this meant missing Gravel Grovel which I love and had won in 2011. I felt it was really important to spend time with my family (and cat) since everyone was extremely worried about what was going on with my health. The feelings and memories of the NDE are still painfully fresh in everyone's minds and time together is a good way to heal that.
|See how a photog can make you look faster than you really are? Another great shot by Kent Baumgardt (as are all the photos of his this post).|
So I had a sweet few days off work to spend with family and also had some free time to go get lost in the woods on the mountain bike. When the going gets tough, I always find the trails the best therapy for me. Mountain biking is so peaceful and for that moment in time it's just you and the trail. No time to let your mind wander and think of other things.... the focus needs to be on the now and then. I'm pretty lucky to have cycling in my life, it really does keep me sane, even if I do seem like a nutcase for training outside in the abyss of winter.!