Sunday, September 10, 2006

Soggy Bottom Girl

Whew! Long ass day! Wake up at 3:40AM. Make coffee and try to come to life. Check email to see if anybody loves me. Sweet...someone does love me. Answer email while trying to choke down a bowl of cereal. Think about the fact that one measely bowl of cereal is not likely to last the 2 hour drive to Chappell Hill, Texas, much less the 50 mile road race I have ahead of me. Find racing uniform and round up all neccessary items for racing: clothes to change into, heart rate monitor strap, water bottles complete with electrolyte replacement drink, etc. Convince dog to come outside while I drive around to load the bike, pump, and gear bag into the car. Drive back around to the house to get food for racing...not gonna last 50 miles without food on the bike. Do one last check, call the dog back in, and hit the road. Now it's 4:40AM.

On the road to one white knuckle drive in dense fog to the race which is between Austin and Houston. Paranoia starts early after nearly hitting a car on Highway 290 that is simply stopped in the middle of the damn road. Really nervous and attentive now. Notice that you don't have to think about it very hard to give yourself vertigo by imagining that you are driving straight down because it's so foggy that there is not frame of reference for which way is up. Stop for a potty break, a Monster, and a granola bar. Feeling much better now. Get to the race by 7AM, hit the potty again, register, get bike and stuff together and hit the road. Mentally prepare for a tortuous 50 mile race with my coach, a former pro and national champion, and a pack of 40-50 squirelly Master's men ages 45+/55+/65+. Turns out to be a really tame race with no extraordinary effort required on my part except for some really good bike handling skills. Lot's of bumping and bad riding required extra attention and professional courtesy to not yell back at the men who are blaming me and other women for crashing them out. But then I didn't have to, another woman yelled back for me to the discourteous gentleman who accused me of bad riding. Way to go, Kim...thanks for covering my back!

Race comes down to a field sprint with me fighting and bumping and jostling and doing whatever it takes to stay on Jen McRae's wheel. She goes with 1K to go and I'm right on her...for at least a couple of seconds...but then she's pulling away. Dang that woman can sprint! She and I both crack half way up the finishing hill but maintain 1st and 2nd in the women's field. Race is done by 10:30AM. Get changed, get recovery drink and head down to the finish to wait to collect prize money. Got my cash and I'm on the road by 11:30-ish. Stop off to eat at Quiznos...gotta reload. Back on the road by 12:30 and home by 2PM. Now completely exhausted...check for email (nope...nothing), take a shower, then lie down for a quick 30 minute nap before preparing to leave for a party.

Up again at 3PM. Check email...again. Dang...where is everybody??? Ooops, instant message coming through. Sweet...feeling the love again. Too bad there's no time to chat. Grab my things and head to Walsh Landing. This party's on a party boat complete with tons of food, soda, and beer. Starving again by now so I treat myself to 3 slices of pizza and some fruit and wash it all down with a Diet Coke. Playing phone tag with Jen. First she's coming, then she's not, then she is...we're pulling away from the dock and wait...she's here. Go back...get Jen and the kids. Okay, back on track. Head to the keg to partake in some adult beverages. Yum!

The boat gets anchored and everyone's jumping in for a swim...from the upper deck...cool. Who me? No effin way am I jumping from here! So I go down to the lower deck and jump in with the kids. Do I have a suit on? Hell no...but those of us who didn't think it would be this hot decide that suits don't matter. Shoot...it's hot so we'll dry off by the time we dock at 8PM, right? Nearly drown cause I don't swim great and I'm tired from racing and I've had 3 or so beers by now. Yes, please...a swim noodle would be devine! The kids want out...next thing I know, Jen and Chann McRae's oldest daughter, Henna, is jumping from the upper deck into the water. Not once, but twice. Great! I had no intention of jumping from the upper deck of a party boat but the 6-year-old is flying off like it's no big deal. Almost as bad as the 4-year-olds that fly down the ski slopes while you're face planting in the snow!

Get out, have another beer, maybe some water or two and enjoy the conversation. Show Henna all the pictures in my camera phone. Convince the 3-year-old that it's probably not a good idea to take Miss Beth's car key fob out of it's little holder. Still wet. Watch folks go wakeboarding. Looks too much like work to me after racing but the guys just don't know when to stop. Ah! Time to dock...still wet. Head over to Mozart's for a coffee because I really need to clean the bathroom (see Adventures in Sewage on MySpace). Get back to car...still wet. Drive home...still wet. Cannot wait to get out of these wet clothes.

Home again, home again...jiggity jog! Anyone love me since I last checked? Nope. Ah well...it's all good. I haven't blogged in a while...

Monday, September 04, 2006

My day...

I just wrapped up a trip to St. Louis, MO, to race the Gateway Cup. It's been a helluva weekend but it finished off nicely. I barely made it to Saturday's race at 6PM because I was late getting into St. Louis (2:30PM). Then I catch the shuttle to Budget Rental Cars and they don't have any cars (now it's 3PM). So, I catch the shuttle back to the airport and catch a cab to my hotel. I get to the hotel at 3:30-3:45PM, get checked in, and get up to my room. Then it was a race to pull my bike out of it's bag, reassemble it, get dressed, and ride my bike to the race. I go to air up the tires and I can't. Air just keeps leaking out and none is going in. Ugggh! So I let it go and get going. I make it to the race with plenty of time to spare. I couldn't believe it.

The race itself was a nightmare. I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on because they were running the Cat 4 women with the Pro women so I could never tell whose lap cards and announcements were for who. I was riding well but at all the wrong times because I would think it was 2 laps to go. I exhausted myself and came in a lousy 17th place. Yuck!

Sunday I woke up and called Budget who told me to call Priceline. So hopefully I got the car canceled and the charges reversed...we'll see. After that I went for a recovery/tune-up ride. I rode out towards the race course...the Giro Del Montanya...and back to the hotel. I went through some colorful neighborhoods and down some streets I had no business riding on, but oh well...I survived. But then it happened. Four lousy blocks from my hotel I get a nail through my back tire. It went in one side and out the other. Shit! There goes a brand new $70 freakin' tubie. So I have to catch a cab to the race. Thankfully I was able to borrow a wheel from the SRAM guys in the pit. They also offered to give me a ride back to my hotel that night. That was really cool!

The Sunday race went better for me. Now I kinda understood what was going on with my race versus the Cat 4 race. I was riding well...in a decent position but then someone jumped for the 2nd to the last corner and all hell broke loose. We get through that corner in one piece but then a huge crash happens in the last corner. My teammate and I both got caught in it! Damn! I didn't even get to finish the race. Not only that but I trashed the front wheel...the one good wheel I still had. So now I was down to no wheels...one has a spoke pulled out of the carbon rim and one is flatted. No good. I hung out with the SRAM guys and we had a drink with Harry, the owner of the service station on the race course. He was funny. This was an Italian neighborhood and he was clearly one of the better known of the residents. He had lots of cycling questions and that made it fun for us. We got to talk racing to him and he was so impressed he thought he might even drive down to University City to see the racing on Monday. On the way back to my hotel, my driver offered to lend me a set of wheels so I could at least ride to the race the next day. That was really really nice. I feel like I always manage to get out of these tight places. I just try to keep my cool and it all works out.

Today I got up, had some coffee, went down for breakfast and was pleasantly surprised to see my teammates parents having breaky as well. I had a nice breakfast with some good chit-chat and was off to my room. I had a comfortable amount of time to get ready and set off for today's race course at 11AM. It was a great easy little ride down there and I had more than enough time to roll around and get fully warmed up. The race course was clockwise, which for some reason feels really uncomfortable to me. Most of our crits are counterclockwise and I'm used to that. So there's that and the first corner was a little tight. But I got over it. My teammate and I really worked hard to get something going and at long last we did.

These races have all been very aggressive and today was no exception, except that today was the day for Team Joy Rides to heat it up. Daniele and I had been attacking and counter attacking until I was bleeding from the nose. Then, with about 6 laps to go in the race, I attacked and I stuck it! It hurt so bad but it felt so good. It was my first real win in a real long time. I was out there soloing around and in the end I had enough space and time to put my hands over my head and everything. It was awesome. Me and my teammate finally felt vindicated for the last 2-3 crummy days of racing and we did it with just two of us. I personally felt vindicated for this season of consistent 2nd places. Today was our day and it felt good.

After the race the promoter had a podium ceremony of sorts where they awarded medals and all. That was fun. I watched the finish of the men's race where Dave Wenger stuck it out in his own 3- and then 2-person break for a solid second place (they lapped the field and won a tidy little prize for doing so!). So all in all, it was a good day for Austinites! After all the racing was done I met a nice racer name Carrie Cash who very kindly offered to drive me back to my hotel since I had no transportation. The owner of one of the local bike shops lives on todays course and he was throwing a big kegger in his front yard. Carrie took me over to the party and introduced me to her friends and we just had a good ole time yuckin' it up about the race and racing in general and who knows who. It was a blast. Good times, I say. This is what it is all about!!!

So in the end, the weekend was worth it. My team had a great race and I made a lot of new friends. And I now have a place to stay for next year, even. That's just super...the folks in this sport can be so cool! I love it and hope to stay in it as long as I can.