Category Archives: bike racing

Get Dirrrrrrrrrty!

Just as I was starting to become weepy about the dreadful winter wetness of the trails, I see a ray of light (and mud) at the end of the tunnel!

DC[1]

IAMEXCITE!

The Cold Hearted Crits will begin at 8:30am on Saturday and the two weekends of racing that they are offering will be all the dirt crit/short track love you will get in the StL until JULY!!!

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

When folks offer up opportunities for us to race in the dirt during the crappy-ass winter, we should support such generosity with attendance, yes? (YES!)

If you are not in Louisville this weekend, come on out to the Cold Hearted Crits on Saturday, Feb 2, 2013 at:

West City Park – 2200 Sunshine Drive, Festus, Missouri 63028

If you ARE in Louisville this weekend, you will have one last chance to race a dirt crit on February 16th. After that, you are hosed until July.

JULY!

Races are only $20! Do it!

The 6-Minute Fail

Last week I raced the 6-hr solo at The Burnin’ at the Bluffs.

This past weekend, I raced the shortest cx race I have ever raced.

EVER!

While technically, I raced for longer than 6 minutes, it was about 6 minutes into the race that it all simply fell apart.

I knew it would fall apart at about 2pm on Saturday when I exited the Xtreme Krav Maga Womens Self Defense Workshop with Steve Sulze with Cristel.

We had kicked each other’s asses.

We were bruised, bloody, and sore.

As we nursed our Starbucks and cry-laughed at our awesome badassery and utter lack of grace, we knew.

We knew the following day would suck.

We knew we would never again disagree about anything.  EVER.  We knew now what the other could do and better to use that against others than each other.  You cannot un-know once you know.  We knew.

I immediately took an Aleve and smeared Icy Hot on my almost everything when I got home.

I laid down and awaited the arrival of my 5-foot baby giraffe and prayed that I could drink enough water to make the pain disappear.

Frankly, I had done just about everything a person could do wrong all week long, save smoking a little crack or going on a bender.

In recovering from The Burnin’, I decided it would be an awesome idea to run a 5K on Tuesday after work.

I felt “great” for someone who loathes-running-less-than-swimming, but it was still clear I am not a runner.

I finished in 29:55 and laughed because I have skipped longer at a faster pace and this only cemented the fact that I will likely always skip in any triathlon I do in the future.  Without a doubt.

RECOGNIZE, BITCHES!

My legs sobbed heavily the next day and I feared I would become an Aleve junkie.

My co-workers just shook their collective heads at me and laughed.  I am a lucky girl.  I am loved.

I went to the gym and tried to spin it all out of my legs on Wednesday, but my legs were not having it.

While I was spinning, tiny trolls came and hit me with hammers and rocks.  It hurt.

I got a massage.

Everything still hurt.

I ate sushi on Thursday because sushi makes everything better.

It didn’t help.

I got a massage on Friday.

Still pain, but at least I could walk.

Sure, I walked like Tim Conway, but it was walking.

So, Saturday’s class was not a great addition to my schedule.

I had done everything possible to bait Cristel into canceling too.

She was not to be swayed.

I needed this class…and I needed to do it with one of my closest friends, because we both knew I was going to be a hot mess.  (I was.)

So, after the class, I was physically and emotionally spent.  I had nothing left, except a bit of drool that I was too tired to do anything with.

I laid on the couch awaiting either death or my adorable daughter and was nervous that either would have been acceptable at that exact moment.

We were going to The Fabulous Fox to see Les Miserables that evening and all I could think about was the pain of having to sit mostly still and upright for a very, very, VERY long time while also being quiet and not having a potty mouth.

In hindsight, this was a pretty awful plan.

I sucked it up and we had a great time.

I fell into bed at midnight and again wished for fast sleep…or death.

(Not really the latter, because that would be pretty awful actually.)

Cristel had told me that she was riding MTB early in the morning and that I had that as an “out” if I didn’t want to race…

…but in the morning, she was without a sitter and so I put on The Pink and headed out with the Sass to race.

I had never raced at Sylvan Springs Park, but I knew enough about it to know it would be a good course to remind me of the pain I will experience at Harbin Park in 2 weeks…and I needed a good ass-kicking.

I again smeared myself with Icy Hot and chomped some Aleve and became exhausted looking at the course while I stood in the registration line.

Every bone and joint in my body hurt.

The ends of my hair hurt.

Even my eyelashes hurt.

I lined up at the very, very back of the field and tried to make myself laugh.

I said I would “BAAAAA!” at any and every lady I passed because if I was passing you on this day, you were in worse shape than me and also, sheep sounds are funny.

The only people getting a free pass was the girl on the MTB and the first-timer.

Unfortunately, I took off hotter than I planned because I also did not want to get hung up behind turns as there were some triathletes there and as much as I have love for my tri friends, I love my skin more and also knew that if I went down, I was maybe not getting back up.  I really needed to stay up.

My hands were swollen and cut up and I knew turns were going to be tricky enough for me without a triathlete in the middle of it.

It was really best for all of us if I just rode away.

That was working out pretty well until the first descent.

I almost took out a pole and then turned onto a climb.

I had moved up to 5th and was struggling to hold it…

Ugh.

The Pain Trolls threw rock hand-ups and wet cats at me and I felt my insides shredding.

I could feel my bruised ribs screaming as my lungs kick-boxed them.

A few more nasty (for me) turns and one in which I actually squealed in fear that I was about the eat shit and I had moved up to 4th wheel…

Then we headed toward the lovely climb.

As soon as I hit the base, something awful and pain-filled happened to my legs.

As the chasers closed in on me, I allowed them space to pass and as my wheels slowed to an almost stop at a dip in the climb, I bit it.

Hard.

Worse?

I could barely move to get up and struggled picking up my bike, which weighs like 2 lbs.

That was 6 minutes into the race.

I had to run to the barriers and died a million deaths stepping over them.

I lost 3 spots.

FUCK!

As I descended the hill, I nearly slipped off the handlebars and wrecked myself.

How in the hell was I going to do this multiple times?

As I rode through the Start/Finish, I felt awful, but carried on…

…until I saw it.

The mental-fuckage that I never realized existed until that very moment.

We all have “that girl”.

Hell, I am “that girl” to a few people.

She is the person against whom you mentally tell yourself you did “fine” in a race so long as you beat her.

There she was.

What was worse was that I couldn’t do anything about it because I could not shut down the pain and make my body move.

I had told myself that I could always just ride around the course and at least ride, but I wasn’t even able to do that because the descents were dangerous for me and the climbs without the fun of descents is just lame.

When I saw her in front of me, my head dropped and I knew I had just ruined my race…or what was left of it.

It was a dick move for me, but I own it.

I let a couple tri people go and sighed out loud…loudly.

I admit that I was not in a good place confidence-wise to be OK with it, and I walked away right before taking the big climb again.

I later found out that this person I had used as a catalyst for my quitting had accidentally cut the course, thus missing the big climb, but that mattered little if at all to me.

If I was able to walk away from the race that fast, it would have been some other lame excuse in some other lap if not this girl; the problem was me.

I did what I could to not burst into tears as I told Larry I was out and rolled with my head down over to my daughter.

Thankfully, I never have to make excuses to her and could tell her that I quit and that I didn’t have it.

Mentally, I had stressed myself out about it being my first local cx race of the season and running into people I would rather not.

I continue to be amazed at my ability to sabotage myself and be a head-case as soon as you pin a number to me, but at least now I know it while it is happening.

The next step will be to either get past it, or walk away from the cx racing thing entirely.

Let’s be honest though…the latter is not likely to happen so long as I have a pulse, so for now…my therapist is on speed dial…and thankfully, he is amused.

The Burnin’ Virgin

Thank god that there are still some things that I can claim “virgin” on…

…and up until Saturday, The Burnin’ at the Bluffs was one such thing.

(I will not name the others because mystery is good and also I don’t want to make my mom cry/faint.)

The Burnin’ at the Bluffs is an endurance MTB race that I have been in awe of since I first hopped on the saddle of my cute little 26’er hard-tail back in the quite recent 2008.

Traci Berry (Mesa Cycles) took pity on me and introduced me to trails beyond  the flats of Castlewood and with the patience of a saint, taught me how to breathe and how not to endo.

I mean, technically I had my very first endo with Traci, but that is when she told me how not to do that…and made me re-ride that log until I didn’t endo.  The fact that I still endo from time to time has more to do with the fact that I sometimes ignore good advice and other times I am just a skills midget.

*sigh*

I soon bought a 29’er because I told myself it would be better for someone of my limited talent.  I tell myself a lot of things…

After Traci introduced me to the trails, she also introduced me to some really fine MTB ladies.  Two of whom would become dirty little idols of mine…and remain that way.

These two ladies, Karen and Lo, were endurance freaks.  They did long ass races the likes of which I had never imagined.

6-hr, 12-hr, 24-hr races…

What the hell?  I struggled riding a MTB bike for 15 minutes before feeling like I was going to die, but 6 (SIX!) hours…or more…straight?

Shoot me!

One weekend, I met Traci out at Castlewood to cheer on Lo and Karen in a 3-hr race.  I watched the start, where they ran (RAN!) to their bikes and then headed straight up a ginormous climb.

UP!

That climb (Lone Wolf) still makes me feel like death and I have now ridden it more than a few times…and raced it.  Rename it “Death Wolf” I always say.  Ugh.

Over and over, I watched Lo and Karen climb it and I am pretty sure I felt myself shrink  in the shadow of their badassery.

Many months later I had an opportunity to ride with them and a great group of ladies from Team Rev at Lost Valley.  It was my first time there.

I felt so amazing riding with them and thought maybe there was hope for me on the bike.  Then, while feeling awesome that I was not lost or dead, I clipped a tree with my handlebars on a fastish descent and wrecked hard.  HARD!

I was a bloody mess and everything hurt.

I had a wedding to attend in a few hours and was humiliated about sucking at yet another discipline on the bike.

I licked my wounds and acted like a sad baby and was amazed at the patience Karen and Lo demonstrated with such a pouty newb.  I was a mess.

I felt like I could never ride with them again because I didn’t want to ruin rides with my blood and falling.  Basically, I resigned myself to being a huge pussssay and hung up my MTB bike.  Just like that.

That was Feb 2009 and I sold my 29’er  a few months later…to someone who regularly kicks my ass on it.

(See?  It’s not about the bike.)

Anyhoo, after the big wreck of 2009, I stayed on my cx bike and just rode that on the trails.

For some reason, I felt more comfy on that than the MTB and for some reason, I became very (VERY) daring on my sweet Cannondale cx bike.

I took that bike down descents that scared the crap out of me on the MTB and I still have no idea why I did these things.

I endo’ed a few more times, because…HELLO!

CX bike ridden by graceless freakshow!

Gawd…I LOVED it!

As luck/fate would have it, in 2010 I was ready to race a road race (circuit race) called The Babler Xtreme!

(Sounds badass, right?  Like you want to make a growling sound right now?  Go ahead; I just did and I am alone in a room with a keyboard.)

“GRRRRRR!”

It feels good!

The Babler Xtreme is/was a badass race that is/was cursed.

God hates that race because God bitch-slapped that race with crappy weather for years and now everyone just sort of gave up on it.

In 2010 though, it was an “A” race for me, which is funny because…

  1. bike race on the road in a circle
  2. bike race on the road on a road bike
  3. bike race

Also, HILLS!  (Yay!)

God said, “NO!” and rained down baby kittens and spiders and made the park sad and the ranger canceled the race the day before…which pissed me off because I was there that day and pre-rode the course and felt really good about things…for once.

However, Awesome Mesa Cycles was having their own race.  They were having a race in the dirt at the location of my last MTB wreck…Lost Valley.

So, I did what any other idiot would do and rented a bike from Awesome Mesa Cycles and signed right up.

I wrecked.  I bled.  I came in 2nd.

I was HOOKED!

I had so much fun hurting and bleeding that I couldn’t wait until the next race!

Sadly, I was broke and could not buy another bike so I sat the rest of the MTB season out and focused on cx.

In 2011, Mesa made my dreams come true and made it possible for me to ride and race MTB on the most beautiful bike I had ever seen.

I signed right up for my first 3-hr race, because that is what you do.  You race one 60-minute race and 6 months later you sign up for a 3-hr race on a bike you have had for 5 minutes.  Don’t act like that is weird.  It isn’t.

I had a lot to learn in those 3-hr races, but as I lined up for my 2nd 3-hr race, Karen (who was also racing it) calmed me and gave me great advice and immediately I knew I would be alright.

I was so thrilled to be finally racing in the same race with her that I spent the first  few laps smacking myself.  I mean, she was gone and I never saw her again until the finish, but still…I was THERE!

This year at the same race, Lo was there as a spectator and cheering us on and each lap that she called my name, I felt immensely proud that I could race longer than 15 minutes and hoped I had acquired at least a little dirt cred.  A little.

This year, I lined up at The Burnin’.  To me, this was the biggest race on Planet Cory…if only because it was a mythical beast of a fantasy that I used to listen to Lo and Karen talk about.

I dreamed of racing The Burnin’ and even as I have had a pretty decent year doing the marathons, I had genuine fears about tackling a 6-hr solo race on a course I had never ridden.

That fear increased when a bunch of people I knew were able to go ride the course the weekend prior to the race and I was not.

Karen, who has done races that continue to impress the shit out of me while simultaneously terrifying me, was going to The Burnin’ this year and I was so excited to be there with so many ladies I have grown to admire…and I didn’t want to be a big baby in front of any of them.

When we gathered for the racer meeting the morning of the race, there they all were…

Karen, Kerri, Mia, Emily, Laura, Mary, Carrie, Heather, Wendy…

Every one of these ladies is a badass and are on my Dirty Idols list.

I had the flu all week and felt like a pansy, but knew it was sink or swim time.  If I was there, I had to give it all I had and forget any fears and/or reservations I had.

We lined up and I played it safe at first…completely absorbing the awesomeness that was the event and smacking myself that I was FINALLY doing it!

I rolled up to Chris Ludwig (Mesa Cycles) and let him pace me my first lap.  Chris was doing the 12-hr solo and even his 12-hr pace was a lot for me.

Chris is an amazingly patient and consistent rider.  He kept me sane on the long climbs and though I did not always take the same lines, he kept me from doing stupid shit that I would have done had he not been in front of me.

When I finished my first lap, I was so tired that I wanted to take a nap.  Ego and pride sent me back out.

This time I was without Chris and what I learned about myself was that I am still quite the mental case on a long course.

I talked to myself the entire lap.

At first I tried to pretend Chris was still pacing me, but then I started cramping hard and kept telling myself that everyone was in pain right then and not to freak out.

I kept taking in my hydration but it didn’t seem to be doing its job.  I was too dehydrated from the flu and nothing I could do during the race would fix that.

8 miles into the 2nd lap, I got a sharp headache and started to cry a little/lot.

Thankfully, I cried mostly on the inside because just then Dwayne Goscinski, “MTB demi-god” came smiling through the rock garden as if he was being carried by Oompa-Loompas.

Dwayne Goscinski is made of candy and dirt.  Dwayne was going the slowest I have ever seen him go and he still passed me as if I was standing still and still had time to be kind and encouraging.

He has a gift for making you feel like a superhero and a lazy lard-ass all at once.  That said, he always gets me to suck it up and move my ass.

Who wants to suck in front of Dwayne?

NOT this girl!

The first time I saw him was at this park for Rim Wrecker in 2009 (I was a spectator).  He was covered from head to toe in mud and was lapping the field.  He shits boulders, that one.  He makes people look and feel like they ran the course carrying their bikes.  Get a Dwayne poster if you can and tape it to your ceiling over your bed.  Thank me later.

I watched him go, drooled on myself a bit, felt inspired and got back at it.

At the end of the notorious/famed rock garden, I promptly fell right the hell off the trail backwards and slammed my back onto a downed tree.

THAT was awesome!

I immediately started laughing because:

  1. Stover had warned me about what to expect at the rock garden something close to 500 times in the previous 10 days;
  2. It was my SECOND lap, so I had already been there;
  3. It was the most stupid fall/wreck ever and it didn’t even come with a cool story.  Bloody and painful injuries that do not come with a cool story are like those times your parents got you the coolest electronic toys ever on Christmas and then forgot the batteries and every store was closed and also they did not love you enough to go to that one convenience store on the corner…

Storyless wrecks suck like “batteries not included” on Christmas and in adult toy stores…

Lame.

The only good thing was that Dwayne and everyone else was everywhere else and no one saw anything.

(Later, Mia and I laughed about it and she told me to make up something cool and that was even funnier.)

I finished my 2nd lap without actual sobs, but took a good long break before the last lap.

I knew I needed a placebo for the pain and took 2 Aleve, ate a sammy, and finally buckled and grabbed the iPod.

Music was my only chance to finish the race and not throw myself in the lake and hope for a kayak rescue.

Well, that and the fact that thanks to triathlon, I now avoid any water that does not come with soap and bubbles.  Fuck that lake.

I set out for the third and final lap willing myself to just ride consistently and not backwards.

My inner asshole, who is still developing, was hellbent on the podium.

I had the flu and was taking time away from my daughter to race, so it better be for something.

I mean, I knew (KNEW) the First Place and desired buckle was out, but I would run the whole 13 miles if I had to to make it on that friggin’ podium….and I have to admit, by the 5th hour of the race, I was more than a bit concerned that I would have to do just that.

Darla was behind me and she trains with Karen and Kerri and she was hellbent on killing this race.  I fear Darla because she is just calmly confident and so self-assured that I had zero doubt that she would close in on me and gobble me up…nicely and politely and then maybe hug me.

As I saw the sign for the 12 mile marker, my eyes started to burn and my throat started to tighten.

I was almost done.

I knew I had one murderous mile of mostly climbing left and I was hoping Dwayne would come by again and let me hook some tow-rope to his frame to pull me up that monster.

As I crested and hit the flats and could hear the Finish noise closer, I relaxed.

I let it all melt away and complete zen (and drool) took over.

As I crossed the line, there was The Sass and my awesome friends and spectacular cheering strangers…and some guy who said, “I forget your name…but good job!”…and everything was magic.

I took 3rd….and I am amazed/fantastic with that.

I have learned a lot, I have a lot to learn, and even more to do.

As this race closes the book on my 2012 MTB race season, I look back on the fears I have conquered this year and feel excitement about the new ones I will conquer next year.

I will do the 6-hr solo again next year, and the following year I will take a run at the 12-hr solo…but after that, I hope that I am fast enough to give it a real go on the team events.

This weekend truly was inspiring to watch.

I am amazed by my friends and how amazingly awesome they all are.

AMAZING AWESOMENESS!

I am eternally grateful that I have such people to inspire me daily.

Every single person at The Burnin’ is a total badass and I am honored and humbled to have raced/suffered/partied with you.

Thank you for taking my virginity in such a fantastically memorable way.

Just Like the Rest of Us

While USADA’s “Reasoned Decision” about Lance Armstrong’s case dropped yesterday, I and most people I know dove in and attempted to absorb the information presented in the report.

While I have never been a Lance supporter, the news that we all knew was coming felt very different once it arrived.

Sure, I had already been submersed in Tyler Hamilton’s memoir which certainly scratches the surface, but even I was shocked…and saddened by a lot of what was revealed in USADA’s report.

I had expected to feel something different.

I had expected to feel a vindication of sorts.

Something that I am sure many Lance-doubters expected to feel.

I expected to smirk and toss out snarky one-liners.

I didn’t feel or do any of those things.

Instead, I felt empty, sad, angry, unsettled.

I wanted to take Lance and shake him.

I wanted to sit alone with him and ask him why…and hug him a little bit.

Then I wanted to punch him in his remaining nut.

As I watched friends of mine reveal their broken hearts, I could only feel sad about how many people I knew who were disappointed and truly saddened by the news.

It made me sad to consider the many people outside of cycling who really seemed to “need” him.

I got really pissed…and alternately, very compassionate.

Maybe this all happened for a reason…?

Maybe we/they all needed to see that Lance and his cheating friends (including my beautiful George) are humans…just like the rest of us.

They are scared little boys who made some really crappy and flat-out wrong choices.

While I will not allow the false logic of “everyone did it” to excuse the behavior, I will afford my “True Believer” friends a little marination time for reality/fact-absorption and some time to mourn the loss of a very powerful illusion.

I have sat back and examined how all of this makes me feel and I like it.

I ask that you all take a look inward and around you at those in your life…even if only for a moment.

Consider being your own hero and celebrate the hero in your friends…and maybe even your enemies.

It is said that we both love and hate qualities in others that we recognize in ourselves.

I think I have always disliked the “it’s not about the bike” mentality from Lance because it never really was about the bike….for him or for me, but not in the way his book suggests.

I think I always resented that he made it so difficult for the rest of us to feel like heroes because he cornered the market and made us all look weak/slow/lame/less.

However, I have always praised him for the athlete he is and was and his ability to say “fuck it and fuck you” and get on his bike with double birds blazing at the world.

I have no doubt that he will continue to do that, and while I will still shake my head at Lance, I will do so now with a smile as well, knowing that I can on more levels than I would like, identify with that asshole inside.

(Not THAT asshole, but the psyche.  Derrrr.)

That said, like the literal asshole, everyone has one of those just as they surely have their opinions on the whole scandal of Lance, the cyclist.

I have a new “Ah-ha!” today.

It was there when I watched my daughter sleep this morning, realizing that I am in fact her hero.

It was there when my friend delivered homemade soup last night to make me feel better, realizing that all my friends are heroes.

Those “ah-has” felt really good and I now know that I don’t ever want to enjoy an “ah-ha” that brings sadness to people about whom I care….or even to those about whom I do not care.

Taking any sort of pleasure in this situation would make me feel pretty horrible as a human, because this whole matter just sucks all around for far too many people….especially those who decided to not cheat and lost out on what should/could have been theirs.

Sure Lance, George, Michael, Dave, Christian, Tom, Levi and the rest of the dirty riders may have won many races if they had raced clean, but we’ll never know now.

And while I had always believed I was game for that feeling of satisfaction at the exposure of Lance Armstrong and his army of cheating enablers, I take greater pleasure and feel immense relief that I was not in fact up for it.  I felt sick.

As I told one friend this morning, I sort of want to hug all of those dirty little cheaters as if they are frightened little boys, including Lance and perhaps  even especially Lance because he is the most terrified of not having the “this” that never really was and which was so much more important to him than anything else.

In needing to win, he lost at life…and that is nothing for me to take pleasure in.

I am not going to read about Lance anymore; the seven Tour titles never meant much to me.

I hope we can all take a deep breath, exhale, and ride our bikes (or whatever it is we love to do) and just feel happiness and peace about our personal choices.

We are all underdogs.

We are all heroes.

And we are all fantastic.

A year a go, Lance and I had an opportunity to talk privately.

It was a good conversation in which we shared our thoughts with each other and I discovered myself to be someone who up until that moment I had only imagined I was…strong.  Confident.  Unafraid.

Like him, I didn’t back down from my opinions and I maybe understood him as a person a little better, and I think he was surprised that I was less snarky one-on-one, and without the ass-kissing or attacks of which he has become familiar from others.

It was a playful and relaxed conversation, the details of which I have no intention of sharing.

I am not going to bring on the snark today, Lance…

I am going to be my own hero, and maybe yours, and wish you all the best and all the non-manufactured strength you will need to get through this period and back to the man who is at the end of the day, a parent and a human…just like the rest of us.

The Anatomy of a Bad Race

This weekend was the 2012 UFD Championship MTB Race at Rhett’s Run in Columbia, MO.

(THAT is a mouthful!)

It was by far my most important race of the year.  Not by itself, but because it was part of a series in which one races and accumulates points, it was the make it or break it race for me.

This was a big year in the dirt for me.

This was the year in which I set my fears, which are aplenty, aside and entered MTB races on courses I had never ridden and made a studied effort to not research…less I freak myself right out and bail.

The race that actually kick-started this habit for me was not even part of this race series, but was in fact that adorable little XTERRA I did in Indiana back in June.

THAT course let me know that regardless of how hilly/hard/terrifying/leg-shredding a course is, I will probably not die if I just calm the fuck down and click off my childhood fears.

After that race, I decided that the worst thing that could happen to me in any given marathon MTB (assuming that I kept my head and did what I was supposed to do) was come in last.  Woopty Doo!

Last place and me go way back.  We get each other.  And like that relationship that simply changed and you grew apart, we aren’t truly comfortable with each other anymore and it no longer has the power to make me feel bad…and is therefore less important.

I learned this year that I am however comfortable with pain and that even though it may appear crazy, I can talk that shit away for at least a little while…even when/if that means talking out loud to myself, a la Jens Voigt.

So, this season I entered as many MTB races in the UFD series that I could.  It was tricky because some were on my weekends with my daughter and I had to bail on those, with the exception of Crankfest because that was her birthday gift to me.

I raced these races entering each one pretty terrified (except Crankfest and Castlewood) because I am typically a big doubter in my racing ability…especially on the MTB.

Mostly, before this year I had real concerns that I just could not make it the whole 3 hours and sometimes more that a marathon race takes.

Leading up to Rhett’s Run, I was totally in my head in a bad way.

The first and only other time I had ever been to Rhett’s Run was in 2009 when I chaperoned the kids race.

Sadly, the kid I was following wrecked and wanted to stop racing so we stopped while I got him to First Aid.

I have to admit (because the kid was fine) that I was happy as hell at the time that  the kid wanted to stop riding because I was DYING!  MTB is HARD!

I was barely a cx racer at the time and had only ridden MTB on a few trails in Castlewood the previous year and had had one not-so-fantastic wreck that scared me off the MTB at Lost Valley a few months before.

I could not imagine riding the whole course of Rhett’s Run when I believe the kid must have wrecked .5 miles into the race and I was put of breath keeping up with him and his little legs.

Holy hell.

So, in knowing that my last race of the season/series was going to be on a course which mentally terrified me, allow yourself to imagine how nervous I may have been leading up to the race.

On Saturday, I went out to spin my legs on the flats on the road bike and did some openers on some of my favorite hills.

I had been feeling wonky all morning, but it didn’t hit me until I doubled over with the dry heaves on the side of the road.

My riding partner rolled back to me and I can only imagine my expression.

I was hoping it was just nerves because I for sure did not need any flu-like symptoms the next day.

I chilled out and drank lots of Pedialyte and water that night and ate a yummy, carby dinner and went to bed early.

Sunday morning is where it all fell apart.

(That assumes that no one takes issue with the fact that I didn’t really ride my bike M-F and that I didn’t even bother to make excuses for not riding it.)

Truth be said, it was a crazy busy week and frankly, I just didn’t want to.

(Later, you can play armchair psychiatrist and point out that I sometimes sabotage my own success.)

Yes.  I do.  I get it.  I have done this since I was 5.  I don’t do what I don’t want to do and sometimes ignore the big picture…which is still in my mind better than just not seeing the big picture.  I get the big picture.  It’s right there, for dog’s sake and I am not blind.  I am just sometimes a pouty, bratty 5-year old who doesn’t want to do what she doesn’t want to do.

I don’t envision this changing much.

So, Sunday morning…RACE DAY morning…I broke my finely crafted regiment (which one should NEVER do before a race) and just had my normal non-race day breakfast as I hopped in the velowagon and drove the 2 hours to the race.

That breakfast was a protein shake.

That breakfast, as I later realized, was 85 calories.

That breakfast technically shouldn’t have afforded me the energy to even make the drive to Columbia, MO.

WhathehellwasIthinking?!?!

I mean, I packed all sorts of yummy goodness for during my race, but I think the fear that stomach issues would arise kept me from eating my normal meal and suddenly I was back to 2009 when my stomach was with the tumors and I was on liquids.

Do you recall 2009 Racer Cory?

No?

Well, she was a hot mess.

Passing out and puking all over any race venue in any town you could take me.

It was awful.

I thought about chomping a PBJ to get calories in me, and just then my stomach turned and I shook my head to no one at all.

I squeezed down a Hammer shot (a whole whopping 80 calories) and headed to the racer meeting.

I was loaded up with treats to snack on during the race and had my tent set up exactly right for me to grab stuff quickly.

Here we go…

We lined up and I see against whom I am racing.

Holy shit.

Laura Scherff, Mary Piper, and Cathy Riedy.

Double-shits from the Pope on a cracker.

Triple-shits actually.

My legs started to weep silently…and that was before the whistle blew.

(Also, there was no whistle and they just said, “Go” very calmly and without exclamation points.  Very chill.)

Already having screwed up my nutrition, I battled to keep my head clear and not freak the fuck out.

Laura is made of titanium and magic, so goodbye 1st place…

Cathy claimed she had not been riding her bike, but as Mary and her discussed the Berryman Epic, I realized that Cathy’s idea of not riding her bike and my idea of not riding my bike were likely very different animals.

Like the difference between a cougar and a tabby.

Mary’s bike was having issues and due to this wonder, I hoped I could at least keep her in my sight and have her rabbit me around the course so I could at least “hold my own”.

We took off and I dropped in behind Laura, which freaked me right out.

She was going to murder me/my legs and she likely wouldn’t even break a sweat.

I was being pretty bad ass for a split second and took wicked fast lines and was very, “CHECK ME OUT!” in my own head…

…and then my head punched me in the face and said, “WHAT IN THE LOVE OF PUPPIES ARE YOU EFFING DOING RIDING LIKE A BIKE RACER?!?!

…and I pulled aside and allowed a few people to pass, including Mary, because I didn’t want to choke and screw things up for anyone.

STUUUUUUU-PID!!!

So there is mistake 2/3 where I have to remind myself that I am a bike racer and that I have every right to be fast too and to just ride safe and not worry about anyone but self.

I am smacking myself still…right this moment…but I got back in and followed Mary up the long climb and while I lost her for a moment on a boulder section when someone lost their shit in front of me, I was able to catch her on the next climb and stayed there for a while until the 4th climb.

First, let me say that there were at least 6 (hundred?) climbs right after each other on the first half of the course.  There were likely 8 total, but as I was drooling all over myself and seeing cupcake-pooping unicorns most of the race, I can’t really be sure.

Frankly, I tried counting the climbs every lap but would always lose my count amongst the potty words I was saying in my head and just like 99-Bottles-of-Beer, I would have to start over each lap.  I never made it past 8.

I was still ahead of Cathy at that point and had a fleeting moment of hope that I might actually end up on the podium.

I had told myself that I was going to ride conservatively and play it safe because I just needed to finish to get my UFD points.  The bad/awesome thing about this course was that there is zero such thing as “taking it easy”.

There were zero recovery spots as all “flat” sections had narrow trees, jagged rocks, or were a foot long before the next climb.

I counted 3 descents and factored the mathematical impossibility of such a thing as this course had all sorts of ups…and none were particularly short.  I mean, sure there were little kickers, but I don’t even count those.

Just as you would finish a climb, there would be a false flat and a turn into another climb.

Or sometimes the climb was long, steep, and straight just to make a turn into more climbing and then a short drop into a climbing switchback.

I felt like I was in a climbing maze.

Even the fire road went up in one spot and some SS racer crawled up to me and said, “There are a lot of climbs!

I mean…what else could you/he say?  There WERE a lot of climbs and it made me happy that other non-Corys felt that way too.

I mean, Laura Scherff and Bob Arnold surely did not realize there were any climbs, as Bob even said “Hi, Cory!” on the first climb of the last lap while I just pulled over and watched.

Mother effer was smiling.  SMILING!

I wanted to push him over, but I like Bob.

Also, I did not have the energy to waste pushing over some smiling loon in a MTB race.

That climb was actually one of my faves.  That one and the second one.  The rest can go suck it.

The next time (IF) you ever hear me utter some shit about being a climber and I don’t have a chalk bag and a harness attached to my ass, smack the snot out of me and say, “Rhett’s Run, Bitch.  Rhett’s.  RUN.

Back to the race…

I held Cathy off for 2 laps.

I have to allow this false pride right now because I am still licking my wounds from the ass-kicking I received.

As I came through after lap 2, there went Cathy and I was now in 4th place.

She passed me as I was grabbing my sandwich, but that took 5 seconds, so it would have happened anyway.

I rode behind her and called out as she took a wrong turn and sort of waited up for her after passing because I would have felt like a dick if I had not.

I started chomping that PBJ like it was crack at the base of that first climb and allowed her to pass.

I got on and we rode up, chit-chatting a little…but Cathy must have been using the first 2 laps to warm up, because after we climbed, she was gone.

G-O-N-E!

I had to turn a screw to see if I was just going backwards, but no…she was gone.

This was by far my messiest lap.

I sort of fell apart with admiration for the 3 ladies ahead of me and the hope that I would/could one day do what Cathy just did.

I mean, I know it’s all cyclical and I have done it to people, but yesterday was the reminder that there is always someone faster/stronger and always someone slower/weaker.  Yesterday, I was the latter…and it surprised me how much I didn’t like it.

I got out of my head and decided to just do my thing and not wig out/pout/cry/suck my thumb.

I am typically a clinically consistent marathoner.  That is good and bad.

Yesterday, it may have been good…had I done it…but I didn’t.

I rode like a maniac.

I attacked where I shouldn’t have and dilly-dallied where I should have attacked.

I noticed (and pouted) over a dead baby snake.

I got screwed up on the timing clock too, so that was fun.

I completely got turned around in my head when I came through after lap 2 and saw 1:43:xx and was happy that I already had an hour and 43 minutes under my belt…when actually, it was made VERY clear that the clock would start COUNTING DOWN at 2 hours to go.

(This is what I get for forgetting my Garmin and any race data collecting devices…or you know, a watch.)

I want you to imagine what the next lap after thinking I was 1:43 into the race was like.

Toward the end of that third lap, I saw Mary and again hope was restored that I might not be as awful as I felt.

I came through after lap 3 and saw :56 on the clock.

Oh yes! I could wait this out if I feel like being a ginormous pansy…

I checked for Mary and I did not see her, which in my mind meant she had gone back out because she was under 3 hours.

I looked at the clock and it said :55…

Hmmmm…whaaaaat….wait….ohhhhh…

Grab some calories, girl because you have lost your mind.

Yeah Mary is gone because you have an hour left, idiot.

Ugh.

I wanted to cry.

Cry for my sad idiot self who did not bring a time-keeping device and who was too nutrition deprived to recall my own name, forget trying to recall important details like how clocks work and pedaling a bike.

I smiled and rolled through for my next lap and now I am mentally toast and openly pouting.

HOW could I screw this up?

(I blame the climbs.)

I don’t know what I did, but I ended up having a pretty fast lap (for me)…even though I tried hard not to…

And when I came through again it said :12.

I hate that effing clock.  I think it lies.

At that point I could feel nothing and so a 5th lap in Hell certainly was not going to hurt.

On a climb, my shoe got caught on a root and it tore my shoe straight across the top and nearly dragged me right off the bike.  That was fun.

Thank dog it was my dismount leg, because I hopped off and saved the bike and my skin and looked sadly down at my favorite MTB shoes with sadness as my foot waved hello at me.

Spectacular.

I had to laugh….and so I did.

My legs were cramping pretty bad this lap and I ran the last 5 (hundred?) climbs because why not?

I decided to do this after my front wheel kept leaving the ground and I didn’t have anything left to lean in and not fall over, so running was my thing.

As I crested the last kicker to the finishing field, I could feel a mix of happiness (that it was OVER) and sadness that I didn’t end up where I wanted, and relief that I did not DNF when I wanted to less than 2 hours into the race.

Aside from wrecking and DNF’ing, if there was anything that I could have done wrong in and before this race, I did it…so don’t do that.

4th place gave me enough points to retain my lead for the series, and I will take that.

When I look back at this season and this series, it becomes very clear that one race does not make a season nor a racer and even with a 4th place in this race, this season proved to me that I am a racer, even if one course schooled me.

I put in a lot more time than I sometimes give myself credit for, and as I hit “send” on my phone, knowing that my daughter would soon see the photo of her mom reaching her goal, I allowed myself the joy and excitement of a season well-earned.

USGP Madison – 2012

Wow!  I continue to friggin’ love this event!

When I started racing cx in 2008, I did my first race in Madison, WI in the Planet Bike series and I fell in love with Madison and cx…even though I was truly awful at the sport.  Truly.

Day 1:

This weekend made me feel a little like that newbie as I lined up with the Cat 2/3 Women in the 39 degree air and shivered while once again making a mental note to ask my mum about any drugs she may have taken while I was in utero to make me do this year after year…and be excited about it.

For the record, my mom confirmed yesterday that she just thinks I am crazy, but a different kind of crazy than her crazy.  Noted, Mom.  Thanks.

So the race went off and depending on whom you ask, I went out too hard or too easy.  Meh.

I went out just fine and certainly not hot as I started alone in the last row having only registered 10 minutes before the cut off…like last year.

(I live by the seat of my pants and frankly, last-minute race registrations are the most living my pants have done in a while.)

In starting in last, you can only move up…unless you are me circa 2008 and then you just stay right where you are and ride in a circle.

I was happy that I didn’t feel like 2008 me regardless of the fact that I have fallen hard off the cx training wagon and had even passed more than a few ladies before we hit the grass.

First, that is HUGE for me because I super suck on pavement.  I mean…REALLY suck on pavement.

You know your grandma who has chronic arthritis and is blind in one eye?  Yeah, I am slower than her on the pavement.

I have been passed by those supermarket scooter thingies on the pavement.  It’s pretty bad.

Well, I did a pavement workout one time this week (on Tuesday) and I guess that was like rocket fuel or maybe just gas, because I passed some chicks.  It was cool.

Don’t get too excited though, because then there was the swooping turns that I like so much but have forgotten how to do, and I took some a bit wide instead of tight and got all in my head for .2 seconds.

At the barriers, I was crazy slow…like bong water slow in the first lap.

I looked at them in slow motion like, “Hey, man! How are you guys? I haven’t seen you since last year! So cool to check in with you!”

They blinked at me like, “Giddy up, Psycho!” and so I had to hop that shit and skedaddle over to the gravel turn where I almost ate shit and let out a girly squeal…but kept it upright.

*wipes brow*

Then this chick on a MTB comes huffing up next to me with the strong legs like, “Check this shit out, sista.  I have this handled” and I am all like, “Hell to the no, mamacita!  I love you and your sweet MTB but those straight bars have got to step off and allow this sweet attack.”

(Yes; I am shaking my head at myself as I type this because it is ridiculous but I do have these imaginary conversations in my head because in my other life, I am a cartoon and these simple amusements get me through things that either hurt or are boring.  I was hurting a little bit…but that was mostly in my middle pride area.)

Sooooo, I did the only thing that I could do.  I pretended I was on my MTB too and attacked like I was in a dirt crit because frankly I have forgotten how to ride my cx bike other than for intervals and I feel pretty confident that he is going to freak right out and just stop being part of Team Cory.

(This sounds familiar actually…)

So, I get it together in a bizarro world where I am mentally scolding the chick on the MTB while simultaneously pretending I am on a MTB and I pass and drop her and head to the crazy side of the course…The hills and Trek Run-up.

3 climbs, with the 3rd being a doozie that leads to a descent that u-turns into the run-up.

I take the 3 hills like it’s my job and I get a false sense of confidence.

I ride that descent like a MTB’er and not a cx racer and am confused again.

I stutter on my dismount, shoulder the bike and run up the run-up.

I feel alright but could easily also take a nap.

I play it safe on the last turn before the pavement but then hit it (as one is supposed to but that I rarely do) on the pavement.  Weird.

I am doing so much right and so much wrong all in the same race and thankfully/unfortunately, I am acutely aware of it.

The sky drops tiny tears and sniffles at my mediocrity and for a moment, I would almost swear that it is snowing…in September and am thinking, “WTF, Sky?!?!”

I am actually holding my own and trading places with my rabbit as we enter the bottom of lap 2 when I take a wet/damp/moist (ewww!) corner on the turn after climb 2 and my wheel slides out and I wipe out.

BLAM!

Right on my right knee.

I hold in the bad Satan words,  breathe and get up.

Of course the next thing to do is the BIG climb and that feels “good”.

I am drooling and I swear to you that the most amazing, ginormous string of drool just hung there out of my mouth nearly to my top tube and would not break and it swung as I climbed and I am thankful because I was so distracted by that swinging mess that I almost forgot how much my knee hurt…until I crested the top and wiped the drool and my knee hit me with a hammer.

YES!

The run-up hurt a bit more this lap and as I tried to pick up speed as I am getting passed, I ran under a Twinkie, and that was fun.  I didn’t know it was a Twinkie until later when The Sass scolded me for not taking said Twinkie, but it was a Twinkie and just the thought that they cared enough about us Cat 2/3 ladies  to bring the Twinkies makes me happy.

TWINKIES!

Say it again…

TWINKIES!

That was fun!

I chased back on and could see my rabbit in the field and I started to close the gap again.

I was shaking it off and going numb in my head when I took a wet off-camber u-turn and smacked right into a fence pole.

SWEET!

Dear Mom:

You always said I would end up on the pole.  Ta-DA!

Kisses,

Me

So, I crashed hard…on the same knee and this time added the hip to the mix.

It was awesome.

I heard, “Rider down!” from an official as I jumped up and acted like I TOTALLY meant to do that for style points and just then, the chick on the MTB caught and passed me and there was not one dog-damned thing I could do about it.

I just went backwards as I struggled to get feeling other than pain back in my leg.

I got through it and felt pretty pouty about my lack of grace and bruised hip and all I was thinking of was next week’s UFD Championships and I am in that moment freaking out in my head…so I asked for some ice and promptly got that right on the hip, cold be damned.

I chomped down an Aleve and looked at my legs with sad and apologetic eyes hoping that they could/would forgive me for what I have done to disrespect them this cold and wonderful Fall day.

Day 2:

I awoke with my legs feeling sore but generally alright.  Certainly not enough pain to use as a credible excuse, but I have used less, so I was happy to have it in my back pocket just in case.

We lined up much the same, with me registering again 10 minutes before the cut off…so almost last place.  I was 639 and some other chick was 641, and I had company in my row, so Math tells me there was a whopping 2 more racers in our race.

WOO HOO!

As we take off, I do the same thing as the previous day and moved up to amazingly, pretty much the same spot and somehow found my same rabbit by absolute chance.

As we ride the course, there are subtle changes but they are not changes which play to my strengths.  They are changes that “dumb down” the course and remove some technical spots and a climb.  BOOOO.

This makes the course faster, and we all know I am not built for speed.

Fast courses mean that I have to run a higher cadence and that makes my heart cry because I am tragically sad at pedaling.

Again, I had to mentally get into dirt crit mode because that appears to be the only way to keep my head straight.  I tend to let flat, fast courses ruin my brain when that is just silly.  I have the power in my legs but am chronically lazy when it comes to cadence, so this is bad for me.

I used the race like an interval and just did what I could.

I managed to advance on the straight-aways, which is a new thing for me, but I paid on the climbs for running too big a gear.

I lost some spots that I had gained but ultimately ended up in the exact same place as the previous day, so technically better.

I felt better, did not wreck, and finished ahead of more people than I had expected, so I have zero complaints.

I had been chatting with Karen Brocket after Saturday’s race and she didn’t place where she wanted (though incredibly better than me, per the norm) and she said, “You get what you train for,” as way of chastising herself and I had to agree as I considered my less than stellar performance.

Karen got 4th on Sunday and I had to smile.  I would LOVE to know what training she did Saturday night to light that fire!

Great job, Karen!

The weekend overall was pretty darn fantastic and I walked away thrilled that The Sass has grown to love spectating and heckling…even though she is too nice to be a proper heckler, her giggle was infectious.

She was sort of fascinated with the kids in her age group as they warmed up and I could see the wheels turning.

At one point she asked, “Mom, can you put cx wheels on a MTB?”

“Yes, sugar.  You sure can.”

In my head, I am quietly cheering at this baby step and my inner dork is jumping up and down squealing.

I think the best thing to come out of this year’s USGP Madison just might be the birth of SassCX.

A mama can only hope…

The Dirty Little Catch Up Blog

Whew!  It’s been a busy few/several weeks and I have sort of fallen off the blogging radar; sorry about that .

Now that CX has started (for me last week in Hermann, MO), I will catch you up on my playtime in the dirt.

I had written 3/4 of my race report for the Show-Me State Games MTB Race, which was on July 29th…but then I forgot about it and when I just looked at it, I didn’t feel it anymore so I am catching you up now.

I won; my mom crapped her pants.

I mean, she didn’t crap her pants until a full two weeks later when she watched the Olympics and caught the Women’s MTB race there and freaked right the hell out that this is what her sweet/evil baby does out here in the scary Midwest.

Yes, Mom.  What you saw in the Olympics is exactly how badass your adorable oldest daughter is…which is why I have a cute desk job and lots of paper-cuts.

Can I have a pony now?

(I better be careful with what I ask from that one or I will end up with some 4-hooved trail destroyer in my backyard leaving landmines for my dogs to bunny hop.  Ugh.)

Anywho, as it turns out I sort of got into the MTB thing this year and did not do so poorly.

On my birthday weekend, I raced Crankfest, which was part of the UFD East series as well.  I got 2nd and had a blast.  (I got 3rd last year, so maybe next year…?)

As it turns out, thanks to the points from those races, I am now leading the Marathon Women in the  East series,  coming into the final race; Rhett’s Run, which is the Championship on September 30th.

This is the medal:

It is GINORMOUS!

…and I want it.  (What?  You wouldn’t?!?!?)

Yes, sometimes size does count and this is one of those times.

BOOOM!

That is an effing cool piece of hardware and I am gonna sport that shit like Flava Flav, should I be lucky enough to earn it.

That there is a symbol of a LOT of hours racing and just might be my most earned medal ever…if I win it.

IAMEXCITE!

As far a s cx goes, I am super jazzed to be back on the sexy rig that is Christian.

I had a blast racing in Hermann last weekend and it was great to see people I have not seen since last Winter.

I am thrilled with my performance which sounds weird because as far as places go, I was not stellar.  For me though, having been only doing 3+hr mtb races, it was fantastic.

I was able to sustain and rode immaculately consistent…which is pretty great for endurance MTB races but not so great for cx races.  HA!  Oh well.

Regardless, I was able to crank it out in the big ring without going backwards and even managed to have a little fun with two of my littlest/biggest fans.  

(Shout out to Jane and Kevin!  WHOOP WHOOP!)

I have been torn about whether to train for cx or stay with MTB because USGP Madison is this weekend…but I realized that the MTB Championship is more important to me…and what’s a few weeks of playing it safe in cx?

Last year I played the entire cx season safe and I did not die of sadness, so I’ll be alright for a few early season races.  This isn’t my job, after all.

What’s also exciting about this cx season is that The Sass started racing MTB  this summer in the Dirt Crits and because cx is “similar” to her, she wants to give cx a whirl again.

(I think it has something more to do with her friend Maggie racing cx in Hermann, but I will leave that alone and just silently dance and cheer so that she doesn’t know how excited I am.  She may just forget about that tri nonsense after all!)

Today we all head up to Madison, WI to get ready for the series opener for the USGP.

This is a fun and fantastic event that has become a staple in my schedule because  I love WI cx so much!

I am thrilled that Sass is bringing her bike as well and though she won’t race, she has grown to love the cx atmosphere and is looking forward to watching her (imaginary) boyfriend, JPow dominate in the mud.

 

I am excited for her too.

To my friends racing the Tall Oak 6 Hr this weekend: Go kill it!!!

I am looking forward to a weekend seeing old friends and feeling the cold air and mud on my cx-starved skin.

I hope all of you get exactly the amount of dirt and mud you desire this weekend as well.

Peace, mud, and barriers!

 

Dirt Crit # 5 – 2012

OWWWWWWWWWCCHHHH!

That hurt.

A lot.

I have no idea what was wrong with me or my breathing other than the horrible hot and heavy air, but my legs and lungs HATED me in this race.

BOOOO!

After the first lap, I knew I had to just treat the race like one giant interval and keep that one guy who was big with the wrecking and the blocking of the course from wrecking me…

…because he DID wreck Alice…who must have been uncharacteristically pissed, because that lit a fire under her ass and she attacked on me and shredded my soul.

As I chased her around, I actually asked her at one point if she was getting revenge on me for the previous week…

And because revenge is not Alice’s thing, she of course just smiled and said she was just hoping to not blow up.

I didn’t give up.  I didn’t let her go.  She just kept turning that screw though until My legs turned to Jell-o and I knew in the last lap that once we passed the sand, if I had not caught her, I wasn’t going to.

Once we hit the chicane in the field, there was nothing else for me to do and I rolled in after her.

It was pretty fantastic racing!  The race within the race, if you will.

Excellent job, Alice!  You schoooooooled me!

Race Report – Pfirecracker MTB: Marathon

T’was a bright, sunny, hot day when we lined up earlyish in the morning of July 14th for the Pfirecracker MTB Race.

I wasn’t really sure how I was feeling, as I had just done my 2nd Dirt Crit of the season two days before and that was a rude awakening for my body which had been on training hiatus for the first half of 2012.

I felt a little queasy as I saw Jamie and Jackie, as I knew Jamie was wicked fast and that Jackie rides a ton and I do not.

I knew I could finish the race, but I wanted to also do well because who doesn’t, right?

Then there was Trish, from Walt’s Bikes.  I had no idea if she was strong or not because she is not a local, so I had to tell myself that she was and just prepare myself to push myself out of my comfort zone to get on the podium.

With a small field, I aimed for 2nd…because I still do that to myself and as my littlest has told me with her infinite wisdom, “Maybe you are just afraid to win, mama…”

She has a point, really.

That stems from my first year of racing when I would just blow myself up and have little or nothing left to finish and I would just go backwards in any given race.

I learned to play it safe (and dull) and rarely take risks.

In 2010, I started taking risks more and more and started to trust myself.

In 2011, I stopped taking risks because my head was a mess and I wasn’t focused enough to take risks, so I played it safe and raced at about 70% in 99% of my races.

Lame.

Sadder was that I wasn’t putting in a whole lot of effort and I wasn’t completely sucking, which only made me feel worse…and increasingly more complacent.

I watched the people around me training like maniacs and they were not having fun in their races…and since I am all about fun or go home, I opted to have fun.

So, I did that instead of training.  It was a very odd season…but not bad, just odd.

The times I DNF’d in 2011 were very different from any other year; in 2011 I actually left races out of boredom a few times and one time out of sheer stupidity/brilliance with wet, frozen fingers and shoes and walking pneumonia.

I puked up something next to my car that still has my teammate Chris scratching his head.

So, when the whistle blew at the Pfirecracker, I was sort of in a philosophical mood and more chill than one should be at the start of a race…especially when they still want/hope to beat two other people.

When we started up Love, Jackie, Trish, and I were all together.

Jackie was pacing us up the single-track and I was fine to chill and let her do her thing.  I like Jackie.

Unfortunately, the Cat 3 Men caught us and at some point we had to either haul ass or let them pass.

We let them pass because 3 hours in the heat is a long time and they only had 2 cute laps.  Have at it, boys.

During the pass, Trish got in between Jackie and I and just like that, it was game on.

I raised my eyebrow at the move and thought to myself, “Well played, Trish.  Well.  Played.”

As we crested the top and turned onto the fire road toward Roller Coaster, the cx girl in me whom has been on a giant nap kicked in.

I love ya ladies, but I just remembered this is a race and I called dibs on 2nd.

I spun up and added the gears, TT’ing my way to Roller Coaster, where I dropped in and added some more.

Roller Coaster is one of my favorite fun trails (and I think I said this in last year’s race report too).

It is a trail on which I oft train on my cx bike, and I know it better than the back of my hand, because really, who the hell stares at the back of their hands?!?!

I knew Jackie knows this trail just as well and hoped she would drop Trish (no offense Trish, but I gotta cheer the locals) and take 3rd.

I bombed down Grotpeter as if I was fearless while simultaneously singing lullabies to by raging fears of turning into Wrecky McWreckerson and losing body parts/skin while hugging trees and rocks alike.

I love and hate this trail, and was amused each lap as Don yelled out “Catch some air!” as he snapped photos of the racers.

Yeah.  Sure.  Right.  AIR.  Me.

The only thing I catch is ground and that is not always with the rubber, so no thanks.

Everything went as planned and I stayed in position until 2 hrs into the race when the Cat 1, Cat 2, and SS races started.

I pulled aside on Love to allow the Cat 1 racers to pass and got back at it.

At exactly the wrong moment, I heard a familiar voice of one of the SS racers (who shall remain nameless because he knows).

He was *right there* all of a sudden on my wheel and knowing how he hates to lose, I pulled immediately over even though it was an awful spot…and down I went.

“FUCK!”

He stopped and asked if I was OK and I told him to ride on.  I was pretty sure if he didn’t ride on, I was going to say more bleepy words and one of us would cry.

So I said nothing…but then more racers were coming and I moved over.

That is when Trish caught and passed me.

DAMMIT! (I totally said that in my head!)

I then rode for like a minute before the Cat 2 racers were there.

I pulled way over and a little up the side to give them clearance and can admit that I was mentally cussing that SS racer before deciding that said negativity was only going to screw me further and that ultimately, I could recover and had no one to blame or credit for what I did after that little wreck except myself.

I thought about finishing 3rd on my home turf and put on my “Hell to the NO!” hat and added gears like a maniac.

I climbed my way out of Love, all the while fearing that that move may screw me later in the race, but I needed to catch her.

I time trialed my ass on that fire road like woman possessed.

I caught her right as we dropped onto Roller Coaster and actively smiled.

I said nothing.

I stayed with her and watched.

She was climbing out of the saddle, so I hoped she was getting tired; I was not…yet.

I’m pretty sure that was just the adrenaline telling me that.

As we hit the jagged rocks, she pulled over and allowed me to pass.

I asked if she was OK and she said she was…but that she may have a flat.

CRAP!

I slowed and asked her if she needed anything, realizing in my head that I had given my pump to another racer with a flat the previous lap and had no tube for her but also not wanting to beat her on a technical.

GRRRR!

She said she was good and I rode on now wondering if she had a flat and how far back Jackie was.

I decided I needed to race as if Trish was not flat and that Jackie was right there because frankly, either could be true and I wanted as much of a lead as possible so I could crawl up Love and save my legs on the final lap.

I did just that and as I descended Grotpeter for the final time and hit the false flat, I saw Trish.  Walking.  And I sighed sort of sadly.

We chatted a moment and she said she was OK but was indeed flat.

I told her she did a great job and that I was sorry that she didn’t get to race the full course.

I rolled in with a 2nd place and Jackie in 3rd.  Trish, because she did in fact complete the full lap, retained her 4th instead of a DNF and that made me happy.

I dropped onto my yoga mat and exhaled for the longest time.

I was pretty happy in general…and dirty.  Happy and dirty.  Who knew?

Jamie had gone out for another lap for training and I had to shake my head and smile; that girl is an effing machine.

We did the podium thing and off I went like a prom dress to get home to do my other thing that I love…

The mommy thing.

I walked in the door where Ty had set Sass up with her breakfast and smiled.

“Well…?” she asked.

“I got 2nd.”

She ran and gave me the biggest squeeze with a girly squeal and giggle and I swear to you, it was better than anything.

The Pride Cometh Before the Fall

Yay…Dirt Crits!

Last night was chock full of super mega awesomeness!

My littlest, The Sass raced her very first dirt crit last night and it was so, so, SO much more than I thought it would be because she is SOOOO much more than I ever imagined!

So huggable, that kid!

At first, she was a bit skeptical…but less resistant than I suspected she would be.

She loves to ride out at Castlewood and the course for the dirt crits is where she actually learned to ride a bike…because why start a kid on pavement when you can start them in dirt?

She felt OK because I told her it would likely only be a lap and she typically rides a lot longer than that, so she was game.

I said, “Just go as fast as you can for a lap and then you are done.”

“Well, I probably won’t go as fast as I can, but I will ride,” she replied.

SOLD!

When we got there she told me that she would probably help out any younger kids who didn’t know the course and make sure they were alright.

I smiled at this and raised an eyebrow because I knew she was using a play right out of her momma’s playbook.

When I am intimidated in a race, I focus on helping someone if I can and although that takes me out of contention, it relaxes me enough not to puke or pass out.

When it came time for her to race however, we realized that she was racing a modified/shortened course.  It was short enough that no one was getting lost and all the kids could haul ass if they so chose.

Because 3/4 of Sass’ biker boys were also racing, she played it cool and didn’t even want me to ride the route behind her.

(She is pathologically shy and is so afraid to fail that many times she will not try new things simply because she fears being bad at it…which is why her momma likes to try things first and show her how it isn’t scary…things like triathlons which she said she wanted to do and then backed out of 2.)

However, there she was…at the line just chit-chatting away…with a boy.

Oh boy; we’re in trouble.

The bell went off and so did she.  She took off on her tiny little bike that she seemingly outgrew overnight and pedaled her little ass across the field.

I rode quite a bit behind with the littlest racer and saw Sass through the trees as they headed in the other direction on the trail.

I felt pride for her great form and the fact that she was in front of the girl who intimidated her the most; a sweet little girl named Olivia who had a bigger bike and bigger wheels.

They changed positions throughout the race with O eventually beating Sass, but Sass gave it her all and looked happy and exhausted all at once.

She raced all out for the whole 2 laps, even though she had said she wouldn’t and it was then that she seemed to have lost all fear.

Later when we were at dinner, we discussed her bike and the likelihood that she would need a bigger bike pretty soon and as her birthday is in October, we may as well put it out there now.

We had always talked about a cx bike, but last night when I asked her if she wanted a cx bike or mtb, she immediately (and before my sentence was punctuated) said, “MTB!”

She then fell asleep with her head on the table before the pizza arrived…

Perfect.  Absolutely and delightfully perfect!

SCORE!

Now, as for MY race…

It was pretty fantastic!

It was by far my best dirt crit ever and I had a lot of fun.

I did not race on the cx bike because I just wasn’t feeling it like I thought I would be.

Mostly, the last thing I wanted to happen was for me to slide out and get hurt before Sass’ race and freak her out, so I made the non-sacrifice of riding The Sickness.

I was able to pass boys and stay with or attack on boys the entire race and that felt pretty awesome.

Maybe I have always been capable but just not able.  Now, I want to and am doing it and it feels good.

Every time I started to feel cocky in the race, I checked myself though because no one has boomerang karma more than I do and it is proven that every time I pat myself on the back while doing something, the Universe will teach me a lesson right then and there to help me refocus, so I have learned to keep a level head when I start doing well.

As I crossed the line, I knew I had done well but also knew I was not on the podium so to speak.

Unfortunately, when the results were posted I was not on the list.

That seemed weird because I was pretty sure I had actually raced and I knew I finished.

After going to Matt, we realized immediately what had happened…

In the rush after work to get Sass and I both ready, we had traded numbers and I raced under her number…which did not have a chip.

I was sad.  So very, very sad.

hee hee…not really.

I mean, it was a bummer for sure, but I knew Larry had written down numbers, but also knew what a pain in the ass it would be to have him figure out where I was.

So, I shrugged and called it a day.

I knew I had a great race and I knew for the most part whom I had come in ahead of and knew I had not blown up or wrecked.

I mentally praised myself for keeping it upright for what has to be the longest streak ever and smirked as I thought about my office and how they were expecting scrapes and bruises.

I felt pretty pleased with myself.

…which is why my razor kicked my ass this morning in the shower.

Right on the knee too!

See?

Pride cometh before the fall…

…and if there is nothing to fall off, the Universe will find a way to make SOMETHING bleed…at least on me.

Next up is a big giant rest night and then the fantastically fun Pfirecraker XC 3-hr MTB tomorrow morning.

I am humbled.  I am humbled.  Please keep me rubber-side down!

*wink*

CHEERS!