Sunday, December 23, 2007

1.5 days 'til X Games

Let's take a quick look at some more pics of Syd, in the Mud. Take a close loook and you see Catherine Walberg (Kenda-blk/red).

Why was Syd tired after the race...HMMM?

HO HO HO! Christmas is here already. The smell of pine, toasted sugar cookies, rich fudge, all accompanied by the sweater you open to which you can't seem to figure out which grin fits your enthusiasm.
This week has been full of anticipation and accelerated activities. Parties, company bonuses, shopping...

Lets take a minute to remember our week. Wednesday we had an awesome attendance to our meeting at Smoke Free House. Updates, details and photos coming soon!!!

Thursday we all came together to fit one more (at least) interval workout in before the Holiday., at Concordia Seminary.

See the sweat?
Count them..1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 8,,9 with me and 10 with the roller riding photographer.

See the sweat?

Tomorrow we ready ourselves for the arrival of the King in Red. ( got the white covered and Johnny does the black)
Lift your glasses and shout a Merry Cheer!!!

Talk to you tomorrow or maybe after Santa's big performance.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spinning Tonight

Just wanted to get the map out there for anyone wanting to attend the trainer night tonight. Bring your bike and a trainer or call Carrie to see if we've got extras.

The meeting/social last night was awesome and we'll have some updates soon...stay tuned. Thanks to all that joined us!

**Also, it's worth noting that the "soapbox" issue, from last week is still getting comments and views daily. I encourage everyone to periodically check that. There's a new comment from a pessimistic "anonymous" skeptic. It got me hot under the collar in a whole new way. I almost deleted (because I have that kind of power, you know), but left it there. Criticism is everywhere and it's not healthy to deny it's voice. Even if it is lazy, apathetic and nonconstructive criticism...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Psycho-Cross Nationals

"There were hundreds of wrecks. At one point the announcer figured the average for each rider was running 3 spills every 10 minutes. Forks were broken, wheels flew off and it was just quite the eye opener for yours truly. In fact, the race winners were those who were able to keep the tire side down the most."
Read more of Syd's account at Sydspinnin

Syd managed a podium for her masters race (2nd!) and finished the women's elite (which is an accomplishment that should not be under appreciated). As Carrie and I frantically ran from sketchy corner to off-camber to the run-ups I was constantly thankful I was not riding, let alone racing, in these conditions. Nasty, nasty stuff.

In weather like this, the course changed constantly; from day to day and race to race. YouTube videos, posted by Jim Gentes (founder of Giro Helmets), is an excellent way to appreciate the race while not having to deal with cold fingers and toes at your anearobic threshold. It's worth noting that Mr. Gentes finished 6th out of 44 finishers and about 100 starters.

Kudos (a billion kudos) to all who stepped up to the start-line this past weekend. Maybe I'll have the guts by next year.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


(wow, that's a hokey image!)
A quick update and thank you to all that have read and given feedback on this issue. We're excited about the positive talk that's happened and I give kudos to the mayor for being incredibly receptive to our suggestions and feedback.

There's still hope for the Tour of Elk Grove to give women two races that weekend. We'll keep our fingers crossed do some so heavy lifting to get a good show of women if that opportunity should arise.

While this issue is far from its solution, it's knowing guys like Luke and the women we race with and against are out there teaching, promoting and mentoring (sorry if that sounds too much like a pat on the back). In the meantime, we'll keep chugging away at building our communities where we live and ride and I'll keep the info, as I get it, posted here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Soap Box

It's been a tough few days. I've rather suddenly taken a more political stance than usual. I've been in a few conversations trying to defend women's racing and it's continued support. After a heated conversation last year with the Tour of KC director about his negligence in properly addressing women's fields, I'm on the soap box again with the coordinator for the Tour of Elk Grove.

You can read the point of my concern here.

It's a difficult position to be in; to feel like you're running around, doing what you can to impact a larger issue. It's embarrassing to show at a race event crowded with men who've had to secure their spot in the race months in advance, to line up with 10, 20, and on the best day, 30-50 other women. Where race limits allow for 100 women, we're lucky if the field is half that size. It's equally embarrassing for a sponsor or race-coordinator, if not more so. So, then, what should I tell them? How can I argue?

I ask for patience. It's up to communities like ours to build the racers, to increase the confidence of women enough to stand on the line and learn to take a corner in a field of other women. What we have here in St. Louis may be fairly unique. Sometimes I like to think so; at times like these, I think it's unfortunate.

I was frustrated with Elk Grove's decisions because I felt like they made drastic changes without really asking a broad group of women and teams what their incentives were. I complained that, while increasing the prize money, they REMOVED a race from the weekend event; which sometimes is critical in the travel decision-making. A single race with double the pot isn't the right incentive, I said. If you walk up to a $5 black jack table with $10, are you more likely to blindly double-down or know at least you've got two hands to try and win? (Bad analogy, but you get the picture)

Kelly Benjamin, of Cheerwine, attended a race in Kansas City the Saturday before the event and flew to Chicago for Sunday's race; are these the lengths women have to endure in order to get two races in? Those of us that attended 2007's race saw Cheerwine dominate the field of mostly single pro riders. They were the only pro TEAM that attended. Other pros showed up, but had few or no teammates to work with. I honestly felt that those women secretly swore to not let that happen again. That they walked away resolving to come back better equipped with their squads.

(*addendum*) I don't mean to imply that the competition simply rolled over for Cheerwine. Their race execution was enviable and I feel like it would have prompted other women's teams to show up and try to put up a better performance. No other team was as well represented, in both numbers and standings.

But then "the powers that be" changed the date, significantly dropped the purse and made the race a single OPEN race. And now, here I am, heatedly debating which position to take. how can I continue to justify support from sponsors that aren't patient enough to see results?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Keeping The Wheels Wheels Turnin'

Today is a reflection day.....
It's getting cold and a bit nasty outside, but we ride when we should thank the many wonders of layerable clothing. But cold weather has given us an opportunity to meet inside for some time on the bike in a House we are all welcome
I am finding the energy to keep turning the pedals over, one day at a time.
The moody blues? Are they here? Let's fend them off.
We have lots to be thankful for, friends, good health, and a passion for a wonderful activity.

Lets figure out a time between now and Christmas that we can gather, have a good drink, and see what we are going to do about 2008. There are changes happening and people stepping aside, so we need to make the necessary decisions and that involves YOU.
I am thinking we meet sometime next week at the Happy Place
Topics vary from Membership Due Changes...going to worth driven dues and clinic partipation, Club, seminar based, Leadership and Mentoring.....who, importance.
Let's talk. As many people as possible need to be there..
sound good or a bad idea?

Monday, December 03, 2007

First Cross Race: Learning Experience

Some park off 44 and 270(Carrie whispers "Unger Park")
Start time: Noon
Sunday: 12/3/2007

Started when it was 68 degrees and gusty winds. Ended at about 40 degrees with some pouring rain thrown in there for “fun”. Given I have zero CX experience, it’s hard to tell if the course sucked or was a typical cross layout. The seemingly endless, bumpy, deep-grass field filled with switchbacks was miserable. You could see racers a half-mile ahead of you! And once the rain hit, it was like riding in sand—my quads were swimming in lactic acid and by the last lap I could barely make it over a small, tiny, little, muddy hill—a hill that on any other day is not considered a “hill” at all.

I stayed with the leader for the first lap, maybe two (?)....then her lead grew and my resolve shrunk. I then, committed to coming out of the race breaking even on my cost of entry. 2nd Place. I could see her behind me at every turn. My lead would grow, then shrink; but I was driven. I was calculating my pain to the time left in the race; it was going to be tough, but I thought if I were half-way through, I could stick it out. I looked at my watch to find I was 12 minutes in. ONLY 12 minutes! Can’t be!! I quickly wondered if it could be on the wrong setting, or if I’d accidentally stopped it. All these rationalizations flashing through my mind as I pedaled and scrambled in my head to find some light at the end of this anaerobic tunnel! OK, I'm only a third in....35 minutes or so left! **Insert profanity here**

A slip in a switchback, that caused me to unclip and nearly stop, quickly whittled my gap on 3rd to nothing. She caught me before the steeples. Rain was gusting down at that point and I couldn’t see very well; it was like there was this crack in my vulnerable resolve that opened up right then and I simply let her go. I could hear Carrie yelling for me to stay with her. I shook my head and blinked the burning, rain-mixed-with-hair-product out of my eyes (mental note: on race days, wash hair of all hair product) and tried to minimize the damage. But watching her cadence compared to how mine felt made it worse in my head.

Some laps, I’d ride head down in apparent misery. Other laps, I’d be cheering myself on to attempt a good, strong steeple section. Other laps, I’d stop at the steeples, having no other riders close to me I’d lift my bike and and walk them. It was probably equally painful for Carrie to watch. One lap she ran beside me cheering me on, until I yelled at her, “You get on the bike. You do this!”

The rain eased, but the damage to the course was done. I watched for the 4th place rider now (you know it’s bad when you’re looking behind you, instead of in front of you in a race). All I could think about was minimizing my damage. 3rd’s OK, right? That’s what it’s like to lose, mentally. You rationalize. You compensate. Fill your head with excuses. Then they ring the bell for last lap. I was hoping I’d been far enough behind to skip the last lap; my watch said 44 minutes as I approached the start/finish (Yes, Syd, I had plenty of time to look at my watch now). They rang the bell. No luck for me, another grueling lap. It took every ounce of resolve left to do that last lap; “pick it up!” I heard anonymously in the background “one left! Go hard for your last one!”....this was hard! It was just very slow!

You’d think I might wash my hands of this cross-racing; but in retrospect the emotional roller coaster of that hour was really amazing to me. It's that inner, personal battle that makes this the most unique form of racing I’ve ever done. Will I ever love it? I don’t know; I’ve never been much of one for self-punishment; but there is something addicting about knowing I can do better in my head. That's a big of a key in this kind of race; the other two are bike handling and fitness. But it’s improving the first that I’m drawn we’ll see.