Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Revenge of the Skinsuit, And Other Stuff.

Wow....someone got a little bit behind on blogging again.  Lots of big things have happened in the last five weeks, the biggest of which was I FINISHED TREATMENT.  It still seems really weird to write that in all caps because that last radiation appointment was very anticlimactic.  I sat under the microwave for 60 seconds, the clinicians gave me a guardian angel pin and then I cried in the car for about 15 minutes.  

And now, here I am, floating in a sea of "Now What?"  

Here's "what," the bullet point version.  Some adventures, some bike races and a lot of alone time.
  • I raced Kruger's Kermesse at the end of August.  I'm thinking of it as my first real post-cancer race, even though short track was really my first time lining back up.  I had expected to finish in the back of the 15 person group.  Instead I got second and might have won if we had another lap.  Kermesse races are awesome...all the fun of dirt, but without that running nonsense.  I wore my new short sleeved skinsuit as I was still too chubby to fit into my kit.  Made some new friends, drank some beer and slept like a baby.
  • The day after treatment ended, I drove to Bend to spend the weekend with my teammates.  My original plan had been to do Cycle Oregon, but I made the (wise) decision to postpone that for another year.  Me + tent + putting up said tent by myself after riding for 80 miles = probable catastrophic nuclear event.  The girls and I climbed South Sister on Sunday:

 South Sister is much more of a trek than I had anticipated.  Straight up for 7 miles.  But the view at the top was totally worth it:

The reason that I have made this picture extra large is to point out that I am wearing the completely wrong footwear for the occasion.  I sprained my ankle on the descent and then got horrendous shin splints from wearing borrowed boots and limping 6 miles out of the wilderness.

But for that view?  I'd do it all over again.

Saturday night Amanda hosted a "intimate accessories" party at her house.  Between the hike and the ankle and three glasses of wine, I got pretty tanked and almost died when the very masculine, 50-something year old friend of the consultant slammed a suction-cupped glow-in-the-dark dildo onto Amanda's fireplace. And just let it sit there bobbing for the next 15 minutes.  Thank god I was dehydrated or I would have peed myself. 
  • The next weekend, Amanda and I went yurting on the coast near Newport.  Yurts are rad.  It's all the fun of camping (nature, peeing outside, listening to RV generators hum all night long), but without tents.  We basically ate our faces off in Newport (Local Ocean=best meal I have ever had on the coast), drank a few bottles of wine, read books and slept a lot.     

  • Two weekends ago I rode in the Echelon Gran Fondo out in the Columbia Gorge.  100 miles with one very long 20 mile ascent that started at mile 45.  I rode in the Chris Horner peloton for about 30 miles, but didn't actually get to meet him because each time I got close to the front, some middle age wingnut in a Primal Wear jersey porkchopped me for the spot next to Chris.  I wanted to get some face time in and all, but it wasn't worth being injured by a guy in a Grover jersey.  
Part of the event was an OBRA sanction hill climb "race."  You could start whenever you wanted since the event was chip-timed. A big group of testosterone left together, but I waited for Julie and Rich and we headed up the hill about 20 minutes later.  I had no intentions of racing, but settled into a good pace as soon as we started gaining elevation. I climbed most of the way alone and felt great until running out of water about 2 miles from the summit.

I forgot about the whole "race" aspect until there was a photo posted on facebook that night.

Because the event awards time bonuses for fund-raising (I raised over $3500 for Livestrong and the OHSU  Knight Cancer Institute!), I had 20 minutes chopped off of my already respectable time and finished in ninth place....overall. Three minutes behind Chris Horner. Hilarious.  Even more hilarious is that I must have also been the fastest female with an OBRA license that completed the whole 100 mile ride, because I also "won" the hill climb with my non-bonus time.
  • Finally, I started racing cross last week.  I'm operating under the theory this month that racing is a lot more fun than training, so why train?  I did three races in five days and was very pleasantly surprised with how my body is rebounding from treatment.  
First up was Blind Date at the Dairy on Wednesday night.
Photo:  Stephen Fitzgerald
 I rode my singlespeed and had a great race (other than looking like I was doing the truffle shuffle over the barriers) until the last half lap.  I was on a choppy, rocky section--a point on the course that was the physically furthest from the finish line--and felt my back tire go flat.  I rode on it for another minute or so until it rolled and I was forced to hoof it back to the finish line.  This involved running when people were watching and walking when no one was looking. Man, I hate running. However, I hadn't had a race flat in the last three years, so I suppose it was my turn. 

Saturday was the David Douglas CCX race in Vancouver.  I am really getting into this Saturday race stuff...new courses, small fields and no bathroom lines.  The course had a lot of great, fast flat sections and swoopy singletrack.  The "highlight," however, was the run-up that you couldn't see the top of until you were almost there.  That makes for about 60-90 seconds of run-up.  Man, I HATE running.  I finished a respectable fourth place after crashing in the first lap and sort of dinking around on the third lap. 

Sunday was the shitshow know as the Cross Crusade Series opener:  Alpenrose.  I love Alpenrose and have done really well on that course for the last two years.  With over 200 women in the race, and over 60 in my category, I just wanted to get a few points to reserve a call-up for the 2 or 3 crusade races that were on my schedule for the rest of the fall.

Photo:  Jose Brujo Sandoval (I am easy to spot in photos--just look for the Euro-trash neon yellow sunglasses.)
This is what the women's field looked like.  Insane.

The wonderful thing about cross racing this year is that I am not wasting a whole lot of energy being nervous before the race.  I ate a big waffle and shot the shit with friends I hadn't seen on months.  Only pre-rode 1/4 of the course and my warm-up consisted of rolling around the parking lot for 10 minutes and standing in the bathroom line. 
Photo:  Brujo. (Look at how much hair I have now!!)

I got a little anxious once we lined up, but mostly because I thought I was going to wet my skinsuit. Which,  after I lost about 10 pounds in the last month, now fits considerably better than it did at the Kermesse.

Here was my race strategy:  get in a fast first quarter of a lap to get out of the riff-raff, then settle into a pace that I could keep for 40 minutes.  

Photo:  Tim Schalberger. The entry into a two-barrier truffle shuffle.
Since we began catching Master A riders in the first lap and lapping beginners almost immediately upon starting the second lap, it became hard to tell who was chasing and who was being chased.  I knew Elise and Sarah were right behind me and that Anna Christiansen was probably making us all look like amateurs up front, but had no idea who else was in the game. 

Photo:  Rich Rosko
I was pretty sure I was in the top 7-8 riders after the first lap, and top 5 after the second lap, but then my math got a little fuzzy.
Photo:  Dave Roth.
I'd pass some people, then I would get passed, then pass back.  Then oxygen deprivation kicked in and math became impossible and irrelevant.

Credit:  Stephen Fitzgerald.  The skinsuit...how to look fast without actually being fast.
I rode the race completely clean and rolled in right in front of Elise.  

Then, as with all races where there are dozens and dozens of riders, there are hugs and high fives and the speculation begins.  Where did we finish?  Who beat whom? 

Turns out that the only person that beat me was Anna Christiansen.  That's right, this cancer patient on a single speed got second place at a Cross Crusade race. What was the best about the day, however, was racing with my friends and rejoining the collective suffering that is bike racing. Suck on that, cancer.