Friday, February 27, 2009


I may or may not be the first person to have moved herself out of purgatory and into a better state of being with an action that could be considered reactionary and juvenile. It doesn't matter either way.

What matters is the feeling of lightness that I've moved about with all week. Both spiritual and physical. Rage, atonement, enlightenment, acceptance, exhausting cycle to cram into a three-day period.

On Monday, the emotional monkey that I've been carrying around for weeks suddenly died and fell off my back with a resounding Thump!. It can sense its absence in my ability to stand up straighter, look people in the eye and laugh with ease (mostly at myself). It is indescribably liberating to just not care anymore.

Then there is the physical lightness. Despite the fatigue that lingered in my legs until mid-week, I had great interval workout Wednesday and hill workout yesterday. Although I did my hill workout on the woolly mammoth (my new nickname for the Kona), I felt strong and quick as I glided up and down the cemetery roads. I feel ready to go back out and race on Sunday morning.

And I am, quite literally, lighter. I have been weighing myself once each week to see if the combination of steady training, smart eating and laying off the sauce have operated to keep off the grief-weight I lost in December (plus the bit that I had lost in the fall by actually trying) . It has. Fifteen pounds gone since mid-summer 2008. I can especially see it in my face (my smile lines don't have to fight through a layer of fat) and feel it in the way none of my work pants fit without a belt.

But I'm also exhausted. Being booked solid Monday through Thursday, 5am to 9pm, is taking its toll. I'd still be asleep now, if not for the furry warlords deciding at 7am that it was either cat food or my toes-take no prisoners.

Things should calm down in March. I hope. I will have only two, instead of four, swim workouts that I am responsible for coaching each week. And the "less is more" approach I've taken with training in the last two weeks has given me more time and energy to get my work done.

The sun is out for the first time this week...time to jam though the last project on my weekly to-do sheet. Then its time to ride, drink beer with the team and starting prepping for Banana Belt #1. Hammer Velo will be debuting our new kits on Sunday...I've heard they look sharp. And fast :-).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Post-Sublimity Breakdown

Ache. Its basically the best single word to describe the condition of the lower half of my body during the post-Sublimity 48 hours.

Thus comes the inevitable fourth chapter of "Lindsay Learns to Bike Race " (The first chapter being "Winter Training on Steel Bikes for the Slow and Semi-Homicidal", second "The Ultimate Pre-Race Playlist that Will Distract You from Vomiting in the Car on the Way to the Race," and third "I Have To Climb This Fucking Hill How Many More Times?").

This chapter is entitled "It Is Impossible to Sleep With Elevated Legs." My thighs ached so badly on Saturday night that the only comfortable position that I could attain in bed was on my back with my legs straight up the wall. Unfortunately, I couldn't actually SLEEP in that position. It was a weird night of dozing dreams of never-ending rollers, chased by men dancing with disco-ball codpieces (no more Flight of the Conchords before bed). I had issues with post-race ache during cross, but nothing like this.

So that is the first item on my list of things to figure out: Post race recovery and being able to sleep. I'm still feeling the sleep deficit today.

Other racing related items currently on my mind:

1) My hydration and nutrition strategy was less than stellar. I ran out of water, didn't have enough back up calories and was too nervous to fill my tank before the race started. This all equaled a big fat BONK on the last lap.

2) I like the SRAM shifting system...on the back end. Moving from the big ring to the little ring on the front was a huge pain in the ass. I must have said "fucking shift already" a dozen times during the race. I'm wondering if that is just a SRAM issue or whether some tinkering by a mechanic will fix that.

3) My lower back was the first thing to catastrophically fatigue at the end of the race. That area of my body is pretty strong from Jeff's class, so I'm wondering if its a form/technique issue.

That's about it for now. Time to get those workouts in and wrap my head around doing it all again this weekend.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Revised Race Report, with Some Other Junk Thrown in For Good Measure

If this is your second trip by this blog since last night, you will notice that I have pulled my entry from yesterday. The one was cathartic to write, but has caused me more angst than joy since its posting. (If you truly want to read it and come to your own conclusions as to my sanity, I can email it to you off-line. The revised version appears at the end of this entry.)

The first set of tears was after my mom called, voice full of emotion and telling me how she's been really worried about me the last few months and that she was so happy to see that I've gotten a little of my crazy fire back. And also happy that I didn't crash and break my arm again.

The second set came after a rude reminder that someone other than my mother reads this thing. And that taking a risk and honestly admitting my own glaring inadequacies to the world can have unintended consequences.

For the record, I admit that a percentage of that race report could be interpreted as petty and catty and full of bat-shit-craziness ex-girlfriend nonsense. I knew it while I was writing it, but it felt good to be honest, not falsely stoic and rational. Because I didn't feel like that at the time.

As a result, There is a person out there who was likely very hurt by what I wrote, a person that I do not know, have nothing against and have no business hurting. I am truly sorry for that. And I feel like an asshole for ignoring that my vitriol was directed to a flesh and blood person, not some inanimate object without feeling. I believe in karma and will get what I have coming to me. Then she can laugh at my face. And I will have deserved that.

But there is also someone out there who, in all seriousness, can go fuck himself for mocking my grief and my healing process. It was unnecessary and it was cruel. I had really reached a place of peace and forgiveness and felt 100% in the wrong--until that happened.

OK, enough time trying to change what I can and move on from what I can't. Here is the race report. Version 2.


What a difference a week can make. When all of that that has felt for weeks like losing has really been winning. When the clouds finally part and you really that you are exactly where you should be.

It took a bit of convincing from Heidi to get me to show up for the Sublimity Circuit race. The course looked brutal. There were hills (according to her post-race calculation...4100 feet of climbing in 42 miles). My self-confidence was at an all-time low after Palm Springs. I had even had second thoughts about the purchase of the new racing bikes, figuring that a fat sloth didn't really deserve such nice equipment.

I made the final decision to race Friday night over my third (fourth?) bourbon and told only a few friends. I didn't want any advice, tips, anything. If I was going to go out there and fuck this shit up, I could do that all by myself, thank you very much. I did call my mom to tell her that she was my emergency contact and to keep her cell phone with her if she left the house. She rolled her eyes, said something about a bubble suit and wished me luck. Oh, ye of little faith, woman.

I had only three goals when we initially staged for the race: (1) stay upright; (2) finish and (3) don't do anything embarrassing. My main focus was staying efficient. We were going to be climbing a lot and I have a tendency to mash gears going uphill, relying on my power instead of a smooth, steady pedal stroke. That bad habit was going to wear me out quickly and I was determined to avoid it.

But things turned out better than I had expected. I had heard the horror stories about cat 4 women's races...the bitching and moaning and squirrely bike handling. There was none of this at Sublimity, for several reasons. First, the field was small (15ish cat 4s and a handful of masters riders) and our field shattered after the first set of third circle of hell rollers.

Lap 1: I got up front and kept my gears low through the climbing, pushing out of my mind that I was going to have to do this three more times before the end of the race. The last climb on the front side of the course was a steep, short effort and although I was struggling, Heidi assured me that it was all downhill after that. When the smoke cleared at the top, there were three ladies up front and four of us not far behind. And no one else in shouting distance.

The four of us in back quickly organized, caught the front three and all seven of us pushed a steady pace line into the next lap. Wheels were steady, compliments on good pulls were freely given. I was surprisingly comfortable.

Lap 2: Sometime during the second time through the rollers, both Heidi and another gal dropped their chains. The break was down to five. I took longer pulls on the downhills and used the opportunity to slow the pace just slightly, to give myself as much extra rest as I could before the climbing began again. And I was pretty low on fluid and trying to spread out my remaining calories as long as I could.

Lap 3: I popped after the first long climb. At that point the break was at 4 and the more experienced riders were increasing the pace on each roller. I kept telling myself that I just needed to make it 10 more minutes and I could rest again, but my legs were lead and my back and knees were starting to shake each time I stood up to try and hold on for dear life. But it wasn't meant to be. I got back into a comfortable cadence and mentally prepared myself for riding alone for the next 40 minutes.

I acutely felt my gas tank approaching empty as the miles ticked off. I had no water left and no amount of banging my gu flask on my helmet was getting that last bit to the bottom. By the time we hit the finishing straight, I was more tired that I had ever been on a bike. Which is saying a lot after surviving multiple winter hammer fests and Palm Springs.

At that point, one of the gals who had dropped her chain on the last lap caught me. There was only a 1/2 mile left to go. She kept looking over her shoulder to see what I was going to do. Which was, uh, nothing. If she worked that hard to catch back up to me, she could have it. There was a 22% grade looming at the finish and all I wanted was to be at the top of it, in whatever place that might be.

Five minutes later, I was at the top of that hill, as tired as I have ever been in my life after a bike ride. Not caring that I had to get off and push the bike up the last 20 meters of that goddamned 22% grade so I wouldn't tip over. I was cooked, but grinning from ear to ear. I had finished my first road race in fifth place, just a few minutes off the front. Upright.

So for most bike racers, fifth place in a small beginner field would be a big fat "whatever." But it's a big deal to me. I now know that I am stronger, both emotionally and physically, than I ever thought I could be. I have taken three months of blood, sweat and, most of all, tears, and turned myself inside out for the opportunity to have that moment of realization.

I am so thankful that it came quickly, because now I look forward to the opportunity to try again.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I have a had very interesting/enlightening/ego-trip-fantastic 24 in which I've realized that although I've wasted many weeks of my life feeling like a loser, that I've actually won. Big time.

Today was my first road race. Two hours and twenty-seven minutes of "what the fuck have I gotten myself in to?".

The Sublimity Circuit Race Course was stupid hard. I can barely keep my eyes open and I still need to shower and foam roll my poor quads. They are not happy campers at this moment. I'll post something more tomorrow, but for tonight suffice to say that I made it into the break, held my own for 3/4 of the race and managed to pull a fifth place finish out of my hindquarters.

More importantly, I know that I belong doing this. I can be a bike racer. I can't quit grinning.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

So I Don't Forget It

"The past is over: Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past." -Jack Kornfield

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Heavy Listening-February 2009

Love Lockdown: Kanye
Wet and Rusting (Remix): Menomena
Melodies and Desires/I'm Good, I'm Gone: Lykke Li
Kids/Electric Feel: MGMT
Closer: Ne-yo
Black Cat: Ladytron
Criminal: The Roots
Mercy: Duffy
Lost: Coldplay
Bruises: Chairlift
El Pico: Ratatat

Monday, February 16, 2009


Wow. Palm Springs. Don't even know where to start. My natural inclination at this point is to bitch at length about the mediocre weather (we rode in a goddamn ice storm, for crissakes), about living with ten people for over a week, about being phenomenally carsick for 3 of my vacation days. About how hard it was not to have anyone to talk to about how much I struggled on the bike.

But its probably best at this point to focus on what was positive and what I picked up from the experience.

1. I learned that you won't die if you combine Sudafed, Dramamine and Exedrin PM in a single sitting. With beer.

2. Chipolte burritos are OK once during a training week. Twice, you are asking for trouble.

3. The earplugs I have worn at every bar examination also work to drown out early morning conflict about how to best brew coffee. A conversation best left those who actually care, not to those of us who will drink anything that can be tempered by cream or feel that taste can always be sacrificed to effect.

4. I have deadly aim with mini-soccer balls when drunk and provoked. Take a look at German's forehead the next time you see him and tell me that I'm wrong.

5. "All Things Considered" on the iPod is a surefire cure for insomnia. To speed the effect, combine with hot tub.

And in all seriousness:

6. I need to become more comfortable training by myself and/or need to find someone that can challenge me without every ride turning into a threshold ride. I can't even LOOK at my road bike right now without being frustrated with the engine that's running it. Time for a solo perspective check.

7. But, on a different note, I did so love riding the new bike. But the fit was a bit off and I spent a lot of time fiddling with things during the week, with minimal success. Lots of hamstring strain, foot numbness and stiffness in my upper arms. It was a perfect storm of a new bike, new position and lots of miles.

8. Climb. Climb. Climb. I live on Corbett and within spitting distance of Terwilliger. There are no good excuses.

9. I'm having a serious conversation in my head about quality vs. quantity of training. If road racing means this many hours in the saddle in order to just keep up with the other lemmings, maybe that's not what I'm cut out for. At least not right now. Seems to me that I should be able to be competent at something on the bike without spending 8 hours each weekend riding. The resultant fatigue, both physical and mental, is making me cranky 24/7. Not cool. And definitely not fun.

10. Nothing kills a case of the lonelies like group travel. I get a new roommate next month and will relish having the condo to myself in the meantime. I don't know if I had ever spent 10 days without watching TV in my underwear at least once during that time. So I spent most of the morning yesterday lounging upside down on the couch in my ugliest pair of cotton underwear, flipping between basketball, "Praise the Lord" and the sci fi channel. While talking to my cats.

More tomorrow. We had some epic rides and it would be a shame not to make fun of myself riding them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

24 hours until Vacation

Haven't posted much lately because my schedule went nuts last week with Team in Training starting (welcome to 5 months of 3 mornings a week of 5am alarms), training, riding and figuring out some things here on the job front. I'm especially excited about the last item (the job item) because I've worked out a new arrangement at the firm that will give me the time and flexibility to try this writer dream on for size, to see how it fits.

Here were the highlights of the week:

-I LOVE the new ink and will probably have it extended further down my back sometime later this spring.

-I LOVE LOVE LOVE my new bike. After having it fit by Russell Cree (Upper Echelon Fitness) on Friday morning, I took it out for 60 on Saturday morning. It was lovely. I didn't notice the bike at all, which is a testament to the fit, and the bike definitely responded to me. Minimal effort, maximum response. And I am, so far, a big fan of the SRAM shifting system. The bike was a total mess after 4 hours of riding without a fender, but the hour spent cleaning it was well worth being able to test it out before Palm Springs.

-Team in Training has started just in time. My self-confidence has been a little "meh" lately and swim coaching is forcing me to "fake it until I make it." I'm hoping it quickly carries over to my other lives.

-If you read this blog, love to cycle and aren't dialed in with a team or club yet...I love the folks on Portland Velo. (Yes, I also love my own team, but for a newer rider, I would recommend starting less hard core than Team Tedder's weekend throw-downs.) I tagged along on their Sunday afternoon ride and really enjoyed the company. Quality people, hands down.

-Sadder news: My dear friend Ms. Moon will not be moving back to Portland anytime soon. The economy and the distance from her family took its toll on her and she's headed back to Canadia to spend some quality time with her family. I miss her in a big way.

-I'm fucking sick again. That makes two colds in four weeks. and four colds in four months. I'm pretty much over it and am wondering what it would take to move to Arizona for a month next winter.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for 10 days of, if not well-deserved, definitely well-needed, vacation time. Seven days in Palm Springs riding in the sunshine and, hopefully, some celebrity sightings at the Tour of California Prologue on February 14th. I will try not to hump Christian VandeVelde's leg if I see him again.

I am leaving the laptops at home, but will be writing notes and posting photos for those of you in Facebook Nation (Mikey....its time to come over to the dark side).