Birthdays are Great

Today is my blogs birthday. Lots and lots can happen in a year and did. If you have not read my first post you should. One year ago I had a borrowed bike, had no idea what it meant to be clipped in, never heard of rollers, and thought I would never race a bike. Now I own two bikes and will probably have a third soon. I can not image what it would be like to not be clipped into my peddles. You can observe my knowledge of  ridding rollers in this post here. And well if you have been keeping up with me at all in the last month you know that I raced my first, second, and third cyclocross races (I have signed up for number 4 BTW). I am on an all female cycling team that is taken Louisville by storm and proud to be able to help it get even bigger and better.

I am not sure where I wanted this blog to go, if I thought that anyone would read it, or that I would still want to be typing about my life. I don’t think I will ever be someone that post something everyday but I would like once a week or even twice. I think blogging has helped me learn somethings about myself and become a better writer. I still don’t post it without some editing but now I am not as afraid to hit the post button with a mistake.

I have made 33 posts to date, the most views I got in one day was on my Birthday and I have received great feed back and encouragement from people. I still know I have more adventures in my life that I will want to write about. Like taking 17 first graders on a camping trip (my little Daisy Girl Scout troop), racing a road race, riding my mountain bike more, and maybe skiing in Colorado. Who knows what the next year will bring, let me know if you can think of anything that I should try or that you might want to hear more about that I have already talked about.

The one thing that I can say it’s has been one hell of a year, good, bad, pretty, ugly, but a damn good one all around. I am a happy person with unhappy moments but I would rather have that than an unhappy life with happy moments.

Thanks to all of you that have read, will read (I hope), and support me and my crazy life. What is 2012 gonna bring?

I am not just a cyclist

I know most of my blog post in the last few months have been about cycling but that is not all that I do to make my life adventurous and active. Way way before I owned a fancy bike I owned a field hockey stick.

I have always tried to be in some sort of sport in school starting in 3rd grade where I was cheerleader (a very short-lived life on the side lines).  Next I was onto basketball, cause that is what all the cool kids were doing. In middle school I was on dance team. However all the sports I did before high school had nothing on field hockey in my book, I was instantly in love with the sport of field hockey. It might have been that I could look cute and still kick ass on the playing field or that I actually have some raw talent on the field.

If you are unfamiliar with field hockey the players wear skirts, with shorts under, a jersey, shin guards, a mouth guard, cleats, and well that is about it. In standard play you have 11 players on the field, including the goalie. I will not bore you with a lot more detail but if you have not seen a game you should at least watch this cool you tube video and try and go to a game. Louisville has a great team and they are really interesting to watch. There are a lot of rules and not a lot of protective equipment worn by players. But that is half the fun, right?

At this point you might be asking yourself, where this blog post is going? I will tell ya, for the last 9 years I have been playing field hockey on what is loving called The Old Lady League. It has been around in Louisville for years and some of the best players I’ve watched play, played with, coached (yes I coached for a brief stent), and been coached by, play every Sunday in the fall. There are 4 teams and we all play for fun and no matter what your level of play is you are welcome to play. The only requirement we have is that you are female. We tried to let the boys play but they are just way to aggressive and well we all have real lives to get back to on Monday and we don’t want to go with black eyes.

The new season started last week but I couldn’t play until this week. I was super excited to play this year because I am in the best shape I have been in, in a very long time. Thank you cycling. I play defense and always have. Mainly back to the reasoning that I hate running and defense is more for sprinters and you really do not have to cross the 50 yard line all that much. Don’t get me wrong you still run a lot just not as much as a mid or a forward.

I take my place on the field, ready to go and excited. And then the rain starts. My thought on this was, bring it on (hey it is cross season right, what is a little rain)? We play for 60 mins with a 5 min halftime. We do not play as fast as they do at the collegiate level, nor do we always have refs, but we play.

We did play a full game (even with the rain) and well my team lost but we were also playing 7 on 10 so we were down a few players. You can play with up to 11 on the field but have to have a least 7. The important thing is we played hard and we played well. Most of us have not played together before, we do not practice but some how we figure it out. We also had FUN! We laughed at each other as we miss the ball or hit it short, or well anything really. We tell each other no matter the team good job on the block, or nice goal, or damn you are fast. As we get closer to the end you hear a few more damn-its on the field, but that is okay we know we are still out there trying.

We play for the love of the game no matter what team we play on. We do it to hold on to a sport we love. We do it to prove to ourselves we still can.

I heard one of my teammates sum it up well, she said this is my thing, my release, what I do for me and I need it. I feel the same way. When I bought my house my family and I worked on it non stop on the weekend with the one condition that I would leave for a little over an hour to play. This was best for everyone’s sanity. I need the feeling (and still do) that I get on the field. Win or lose I have fun. Bad day or good day the field makes it all better. Proven to me this past Sunday where I just need an hour to think of nothing but the game I was playing.

I am a little sore in the legs, but nothing like years before (thank you, again cycling) and a lot sore in the back, something new. I really hope that my back does not keep me from playing because now more than ever I really think I need my Sunday Old Lady Field Hockey League.

Have you played field hockey before? Do you want to play again? We are always looking for new players and would love to see some new faces. Let me know if you would like more info on it.

Me and my old friend, my field hockey stick.

3 races in 2 days?

Yes that is right, 3 races in 2 day was someone’s bright idea. I think it might have been mine. What the hell was I thinking? Ugg!

First sorry for the delay in the post on the race report. Typing is not really the easiest task for me, well anything that requires the use of my left hand really. If you read this post and this post you would know that I have crashed a few times in the last few weeks, well in one of those crashes I messed up my thumb and finally went to the best hand doctor in town (he is also a Louisville bike racer and husband to an awesome team-mate) and he told my I tore a ligament in my thumb and have to wear a silly looking brace (see pic below) for up to 12 weeks. YES 12 WEEKS and it is my left hand. Yes I am left-handed. The good news is he understands the world of being on a bike and did not put too many restrictions on me. Thanks Doc.

Okay back to the races. Starting on Friday night I had signed up for CX clinic with a pro CX’er Ryan Trebon. Ryan came to Louisville to teach the clinic and race. Super nice guy and he was great at the clinic. Then I headed over to On Your Left Cycles for there grand re-opening in a new location. Did not stick around too long as I still had to get ready for the big day on Saturday.  I got all my stuff together and headed over to Civil Racers. My bike got a bath and was all pretty with the help of CR, he says you feel faster with a clean bike. Most of the time I just go along with what he says in the smile and nod kind of way when it comes to bike stuff so I washed my bike. He also helped me put some spiffy new PINK bar tape on my bike earlier in the week. That is what really made me feel faster. I know I am such a girl.

In the cyclocross world CR is also known as Little Cesars because he eats it the night before almost ever race. Why mess with what works? So we had some Little Cesars’s pizza for dinner and called it a night.

6:30 Saturday morning came way, way early. I had all my stuff together so that was a plus. I get in the car and CR tells me I better eat. So I do. Not sure I even tasted it. The whole drive is a little blurry to me. I just remember telling myself over and over again it is just a bike race, it is just a bike race. Why the heck are you so uptight about this calm down, you are crazy, calm down, stop being so nervous. Yes that was what was going on in my head.

We got to the course super early so the CR could help with last-minute stuff. I see people I know and try not too look too crazy or scared. A friend somehow helped without even knowing it by saying all the right things to me and making me sound like I knew what I was doing (Thanks Barb). I found a place to change, got my number, and warmed up a bit and pre-rode the course for my first ever CX race that was going off at 9:30. It was only to last 20 mins. We figured that to be about 2 laps. Well it got started a little late and since nothing but pride was on the line we were told we got to do one lap. So one lap as hard as you can go.

Call to line up. Oh boy here we go. The official gave us directions and said on my whistle go. I had one goal at this point, Hole Shot. I looked down, waiting for the whistle. Tweet, we were off and I got the Hole Shot! And that was about all I can brag about in that race. There were 2 other ladies in that race with me and for the most part we stuck together. At one point so close that as W dismounted I ran right into her (she had the tire marks on her back leg to prove it). Good thing she is a good sport about it and just laughed. I came in last but that was okay. I tried hard and got my first taste of racing. Nerves settled. Or so I thought.

I still had another race to go at 11. I cooled off a bit and said hi to a few people. CR parents arrived and I went to say hi, and like a true momma she took one look at me and said,” honey you do not look so good”. Damn them mothers for always knowing something is not right. I told her I did not feel so well but was okay for the moment. I then walked away for a bit to just breathe, then I tossed my cookies and it was not pretty. Damn it, time to race again. By this time my family had arrived to cheer me on. A big step for my mom who is not 100% behind the me racing bikes thing. She is getting there.

Puking helped a little. I was on the front line again and there were lots of great teammate in this race with me and my good friend Rachel.  Goal again was the hole shot. I did the same thing in this race as the last. The whistle went off and I went for it. There is a little debate whether I got it or not but if not I was damn close, like less than an inch. I already knew the course and felt good. A few people passed me but still some riders behind me. In total we did 3 laps. I felt okay on all of them but think I can do better. The last lap was one of the more fun but I think that was due to the hecklers, a common staple at any CX race. I was promised a beer by a few of them when I finished.

I came to the finish line and gave it my all just to see if at the end of a race I could. I did okay on that as well. I crossed and thought I got third. I will take it for my first race. I got off the bike and just about felt like I was going to pass out. I cooled down and it was time for podium.

I walked over waiting to hear my name. They call up the number one person (she is an awesome Cat 3) and then my name. Yep my name, not 3 like I thought but #2. Wow woohoo go me. I was so excited. I won some great socks, chain lube, and confidants. Overall I liked the race and was ready for more and to take on tomorrow.

Now time to sit back and watch the other races and cheer/heckle the rest of the day.

Day 2 was not as exciting as day 1. I knew what the course looked like with the changes and was not all the excited about it. For some reason I let it get in my head that I did not like it and was not going to do as well as the day before. I was tired and a little stressed and just not in it. I raced at the same time as the day before, 11am. I tried to take a little nap in the car before I had to start getting ready but it really did not work, so I got up changed and got on the bike. I ride the course super slow and still do not like it. After a little more warming up it was race time. I was again on the front line but there were a few more of us and it felt very tight. The whistle went off and well I just did not have it to get the hole shot. I guess I just need to be a little more aggressive, something I will have to work on. But I just did not feel comfortable knocking someone to get to the front. From that point on it was down hill. I stayed with the group for about half a lap and then was in the back. On lap 2 I found out we were doing 4 and was hating life on a bike at the point. CR was yelling at me to go and all’s I could get out was “I can’t breathe”. This is how I know my fitness sucks or well it is not where it needs to be. I should have been able to hold on a little more, I should have done better. My bike handling skills are decent for my first year but I get beat every time in fitness. Learning more and more about myself and what I need to work on.

I finished dead last in the race. Ugg I was not happy with the finish and deep down felt I could have done better. Maybe not the brightest idea to do 3 races in 2 days but it was over all fun. I learned a lot and know what I need to work on. I know that I do enjoy the sport and the good changes biking is having on my body and mind. I am excited about my next race, not really sure what the race will be but it will be soon.

One year ago today…

I watched my first Cyclocross race.

I was packing my bags for my first trip to see my BFF in Denver.

I was single.

I was working two part time just to make it.

I had a borrowed MTB with a slick tire on it.

I was kayaking all the time.

My puppy was still with us.

I did not have a brother-in-law.

I meet Civil Racer. 🙂

Wow what a difference a year can make.

Tomorrow I will do a full race report of the full weekend of fun but for tonight this is all ya’ll get.

Night Night.

Who’s bright idea was this?

The past Saturday I had a rare day on the calendar that had NOTHING on it and so did Civil Racer. I told him I would like him to plan something for us to do that day, bike related or not, did not care. It would be the last weekend day or night without something planed, like a bike race, for the next gazillion months.

He came through and planned something. He said to me bring your cross bike and we will ride some trails in Brown Co, IN. You mean my MTB? No I mean your cross bike. Okay then. So I packed it all up and made sure I was ready with all my gear. It is not a bad drive from Louisville to Brown County and I have heard wonderful things about how pretty it is.

Before we got out on the trials we made a stop at Gray Goat Sports (the shop that Civil Racer rides for) so he could get some shoes and I could drool over all the pretty Speclialzed bikes. Bike shops are fun places and you end up spending more time in them than you think. We visited with some people in the shop and then hit the road a little later than planned but we were not in a big hurry so not big deal.

We did not have a set plan really just to hit the trails. Civil Racer wanted to try out the new one and I was just along for the ride. Now I am going to remind all of you that up to this point I have only been on trail on a mountain bike once and never on my cross bike. I have been gaining skills, slowly, on my cross bike but still have a lot to learn.

The trail we started on was the North Tower Trail, this trail connects to the Green Valley Trail (the new one). The North Tower Trail starts up, you climb and climb. That part was okay with me, I need it for cross. What had me worried was the rule of what goes up must come down. Not sure how good I was going to be on the down part. We passed a few other bikers on the first trail and I asked Civil Racer if they thought we were crazy for being on our cross bikes, he said “probably”. Should have turned around then.

We find the Green Valley Trail and know right off the bat how it got its name. You look down on a green valley. All is good for a bit, Civil Racer lets me lead the way some so he can give me pointers (or to have a better view as he put it). I tell him to keep the pointers to himself until the ride home. I do know one thing about myself, I need to figure it out on my own for the most part. It was about not falling that first time; then it will be about improving my skill. First I need to get a feel for what I am doing. The one thing he did comment on that I found amusing was my incredible ability to save myself from falling. There were several times when I should have eaten sh** and saved it. Funny part about that is my kayaking buddy Sandmann used to say that same thing to me, “Christine I have no idea how you saved that, I thought for sure you were going swimming”. It’s all about balance.

After about an hour and half of riding and Civil Racer saying “I think this trail meets back up with the other one just a little ways up” about 5 of that same statement and still not finding it we decided to turn back around and go the way we came. You remember that part where I said I was not so sure about the down part, well I was right. On the way back I was in front and got going a little faster than I was comfortable with and lost some control. Next thing I knew I had face planted. I also hit my left side pretty hard and was very much rattled. My bike however got the worst of it and came out like a champ, I have told you all how much I LOVE my Scott CX Team Bike? Well I do, a lot. It fell about 30 feet into a creek bed and I thought it was going to be bad. When Civil Racer caught up to me and asked if I was okay, through my tears all’s I could say way “my bike” as I am cradling my arm. After a few minutes of catching my breath and making sure nothing is broken or bleeding I get up and Civil Racer gets my bike for me. The only thing wrong with it were the sifters. Easy fix with a mulitool and handy boyfriend.

Now I am all about getting back on the bike after a fall but this time I just couldn’t do it. I saw skinny, down hill trail in front of me and my shoulder was screaming at me. So we walked. We found what we thought was the North trail we started on and set off to get on it. At this point we were off trailing it cause we had to go down a ravine and through a few non trail areas while carrying our bikes. We get on the trail and it is flat and wide so I ride. Soon we realize that is not the trail we thought it was and have to go to place C. Again carrying the bikes to yet anther trail. We find the trail we are looking for after some looking. I decided that I can ride some more and do until we find the road. Civil Racer and I talk for a few minutes about taking that or the trail back to the car. I know at this point it is all down hill so I go for the road. He goes for the tail (he did tell me it was his favorite part of that trail). He takes off and so do I. Let me tell you WOW, that was the most fun I had all day. I hit a hill and hit my fastest speed to date at 32 mph. LOVED IT. I know he will be a little longer than me to I ride around a bit on the road and remember I do love to be on two wheels.

Overall it was a great learning experiences. You can see the photos below where I went down and where my bike was. Not sure I will be taking my cross bike back anytime soon but I sure would like to try it on my MTB.

I hit the embankment behind me
My bike went about 30 feet down the hill.
And after all was said and done I still love him.