Thursday, June 27, 2013

Week #25: Tri-State 6 Hour Versailles

Okay, so it's Thursday, and for all of my Monday morning blogging commitment, I just couldn't find the right words when I actually had race report to write. After so long without a real race, I felt like I needed to say something really profound about my experience at the Tri-State 6 Hour Series opener at Versailles State Park. Joe managed to. I, however, have been busy and distracted since the race. Perhaps one day I will regale you with a singular tale of adventure and romance and how it played out over Instagram, but at this point it's almost the weekend again, so you're just going to have to be satisfied with a quickie.

So what did I learn? That racing a rigid singlespeed on a trail with several significant rocky sections is really, really slow and hard. I'm not sure how I tricked myself into thinking it wouldn't be. I also fell victim to thoughts of how much longer I had to go, which probably drove me to fatigue sooner than it should have fitness-wise. It was a hard, hard day. Now I know. I only got three laps because I was feeling so beat up and was going so slow that I probably wouldn't have finished a fourth before the time cutoff. So my performance was not nearly what I wanted it to be, but at least now I have a standard for what my 6-hour singlespeed racing looks like. I just need to raise that standard as soon as possible.

Less intense than 'cross tongue, I'm trying out
"6 Hour Crazy Face".

Monkey's first race number

Sarah brought me a tiny bottle of champagne for my women's singlespeed "win".

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week #24: #bentoutofshape

This week can be defined not so much in a summary of my training, but in a singular tale of desperation and woe, and how it played out over Instagram. Okay, that's waaaay too dramatic, but let's just say that this week I have more to show than I do to tell.

Our story begins with my decision that sleeping in, going to the farmer's market, and getting one more long ride in before the first Tri-State 6 Hour Series race were all more important to me than doing the DINO race at French Lick on Saturday. I got my sleep, got my incredible local cherries that I look forward to all year long, and got to BCSP around noon feeling really good about my decision. I was chugging around thinking three laps would be the perfect length ride to stretch my endurance limits just a bit and still get me home in time to do something fun in the evening. Everything was going swimmingly as I ripped the descent going into Green Valley on the first lap, and I started getting all fancy catching air on all the little whoops before you reach the creek. 

I've learned the problem with a fully rigid bike is that it goes up really easily and goes down really hard. I'm still learning to control this, and on that particular day, it got out of hand. I came down hard on the front end, panicked and grabbed the brakes, started to endo, was launched down the trail, felt my helmet skid and bounce like a skipping stone, and then my bike finally landed on top of me. Awesome. It initially felt like no real damage had been done to my bike or person, although I was definitely going to be pulled/sprained/bruised in the morning. The whole general area of my left hand hurt, but by all "can you move it" tests, it appeared fine.

That kind of killed my mojo and any three-lap plans I'd been haboring. I just finished the lap and headed home. I adopted the alternative plan of spending the rest of the afternoon on the couch while I enjoyed the deformed can of Coors Light that someone had left in my freezer at a dinner party the week before. Bent out of shape can and bent out of shape body seemed to be the perfect combo.

Unfortunately, I took a nap after this and woke up with my hand in sudden, incredible pain. I still had to unload my bike from the car, which was excruciating. At that point, I decided to get in the car and go get some ice, but at the first stoplight I turned towards the emergency room instead of the convenience store. It hurt that bad, and I was paranoid after recently hearing about friend walking around for four weeks with broken shoulder last summer. I figured better safe than sorry.

X-rays proved nothing was broken, and two hours later I went home with a splint, some pain meds, and some piece of mind. I'm not sure why, but putting on the splint made it feel tons better. I think it was probably just that whole nerve interruption thing.

After that ordeal, I expected to stay home and be lazy all Sunday, but I was feeling well enough to do the pictorial tour of the B-line Trail that I've been wanting to do for a while. My Via doesn't exactly require a lot of heavy usage of my left hand, so I was able to spin around with it hanging loose most of the time. It was pretty fun.

So the weekend was a bit of a waste training-wise, but it was probably okay, since I've been needing to stay home and chill out for a while now. Forced rest can be good. The situation is improving rapidly, so I'm still hoping that my hand will be stable enough for the 6 hour race at Versailles this weekend, but we'll see.

I had some metallic sharpies left from a previous craft project, and I was
trying to be meta. Didn't come out shiny enough.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Week #23: #gettingcultured

We both assumed we'd never speak again.
Till I saw you in those turquoise pumps and tight black model pants.
I need you back my friend.

Okay, this week's lyrical intro isn't particularly representative of events of the week. These lyrics were, however, important to the week's events. Mostly I just have a thing for turquoise shoes lately and really like the idea that can change one's fate in such a profound way. I guess I just need to be very careful that mine are used for good and not evil. I've definitely been getting more use out of the $20 turquoise flat sandals from Target than my sky-high turquoise platforms, so I'm not sure what that says about my current situation.  

Anyway, feigned fashion philosophy aside, the theme of the past week turned out to be cultural exploration, and not in that "experiencing the rites of remote gravel grinding cultures in exotic locations like the plains of Illinois" way. I think last week's post was a good sign that Phase I of my New Year's Resolutions is going really well and seems to have reached the maintenance phase. Although I didn't actively decide to start Phase II, and had sort of even given myself permission to write off gravel grinding as cultivating other interests, I still ended up diving into Phase II world on a whim. 

Much like in December when I admitted my social impairment problem and asked for help, on Tuesday I decided to admit to my musical impairment problem on Facebook and ask for help. I got tons of suggestions, and I'm currently working on listening to them all and deciding on what I like. I've always been embarrassed of my lack of music knowledge/taste, so I find discussing music with people very intimidating, which is unfortunate because it's supposed to be one of those softball topics of discussion when you're getting to know someone new. This experience has been fun, though, because it just throws all of the embarrassment out of the window at the beginning, and then I feel comfortable discussing in the context of "I'm a huge dork. Accept this and move on." 

Library CDs: Exploration without commitment.
My other #gettingcultured experience of the week was that I actually followed through with my internal assertion from a few weeks ago to actually start going to things that I see on posters during my lunch break walks. I saw the one below, and the relatively early start time, the fact that it was free, and the fact that it looked interesting encouraged me to commit to my first "poster thing".

It turned out to be awesome. It was a bunch of drug and alcohol related educational films from the '60's through the '80's, and let me tell you, I learned some valuable information that's just too hard to describe in the context of this blog. Despite the fact that social isolation isn't usually a problem for me anymore, I still ended up going by myself. I posted a picture of the poster on Facebook, but no one said, "OMG! That looks awesome! Can I pleassssssse come with you?" I think I secretly wanted to have the experience as my very own. Well, mine and that of 20-30 other people with whom I now share the bond of knowing that "boyfriends are the ultimate gateway drug".

I also got an awesome haircut, which seems sort of culturally relevant. Or I just wanted to show it off to anyone who hadn't already seen it yet.

Finally, I still made time for bikes in all of this. It was actually a really solid training week, and I'm starting to get back on track in the weight room. That left me pretty sore for the weekend, so I didn't quite get as many singlespeed miles as I wanted to, but I did get in two ride mountain bike with girl friends on both Saturday and Sunday. This included my first French Lick singlespeed experience, which was ridiculously hard.

I guess the point of this is that, possibly for the first time in my life, I set down goals at the beginning of the year, and they all seem to be falling into place. The year's less than halfway over, but I'm already more than halfway accomplished on my personal New Year's resolutions. I'm also 100% on my cycling goals for the year so far. 

I don't think I ever wrote those down, but they were to get second place in the Death March (which means winner of the Co-ed Teams Who Aren't Scott and Janelle category), and win the women's singlespeed division of the Tri-State 6 Hour Series. Well, the first one is checked off, and the second is technically off the table. When another promoter took the series over from Big Dave, the category for which I specifically bought a bike was dropped. I'm still determined to do all four races on my singlespeed, and I think that will be enough to know in my heart that I "won". Plus, my teammate said she'd give me a homemade plaque to commemorate my victory, so that should be better, anyway.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Week #22: Friends and Roof Racks

Renly: A pity you lost the bet. It would've been so nice for you to have a friend.
Littlefinger: And when will you be having your friend?

The evening after I purchased the Lime-a Bean, in a moment of self-deprecation, I said, "It only holds one bike, but that's okay, because it's not like I'm not going to have any friends anymore, anyway." Of course, I was saying this in a "hot tube" (tub) with six awesome teammates who undoubtedly have my back, so it was an obvious exaggeration of circumstances. At the time I was really just expressing my greater anxiety regarding my immediate cycling community's potential reaction to my split with Adam. Of course, many of those fears were relieved the very next day when I encountered Adam on a group ride with the majority of A Cycling Team's members, and everyone still spoke to me and even invited me to go eat with them after he left.

I did, perhaps my own impatience leading to self-fulfilling prophecy, lose the one friend with whom I had spent the most time driving bikes around in cars. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but otherwise I feel like I've been accepted by the people I care about and not judged too harshly for my decision. For that I am so thankful, and the quantity and quality of my friendships have actually increased greatly in the last few weeks.

That journey has been foremost in my mind the past week, because it was supposed to be the first race where Adam and I would both be present, and I was very nervous all week. While I have been busy traveling and exploring new cultures (in exotic locations like the plains of Illinois), the regional cyclocross/mountain bike scene is still my home, and I still want to feel welcome there. I felt like the DINO BCSP race would be the first real indication of how things would feel for me socially in the racing scene from here on out. For better or worse, the race was postponed due to wet trails, so that experience will be delayed a bit longer.

So the fact that I finally got around to putting a roof rack on the Lime-a Bean this week seems pretty symbolic. Not only do I no longer have to feel guilty throwing dirty bikes in the back of my brand new car (which I got cleaned back up to almost-new condition), but I'm now able to drive around friends with bikes, if needed. I haven't put it to use yet, but it seems like a much more immediate possibility than it did six weeks ago.

As for training, there's not much to tell. After so much singlespeeding on my mini vacation and the trip to the Gravel Metric, I noticed that my hands were a lot worse. They definitely seem to be exacerbated by fatigue, so I decided to experiment with a complete rest week to see if that improved the situation. It did help slightly, and I think forcing myself to stay home and do nothing for a while was good for my brain, too. However, I think that complete rest would only speed my recovery by 10-20% at best, and it would still take a long time to get better. It's just time that I accept that I'm going to be shifting gears "like a mutant lobster" for a while and not stress out about it. They are improving slowly, and as long as I'm back to 100% by cyclocross season, it's fine. I've got over three months for that, so I think it will be okay.