Sunday, December 16, 2007

kind of like winning the lottery

The other day I got home from work and grabbed the mail off the porch as per usual. I often don't even look at my mail but once a month, but with the refinance there were a number of official notices that needed to be attended to. There was an envelope from Chase, my previous mortgage holder, and it looked suspiciously like a check through the window of the envelope. I ripped it open. And there it was:
A check that I had no idea was coming. It was an overpayment of my mortgage interest for $2242.23. I was puzzled because when I closed the title company told me I was getting one disbursement, which had been wired into my account already. This was a total surprise. Sweet! Santa came early this year! Now if people keep pissing me off and dropping off my christmas list there will be even more money to spend on the worthy ones.

Monday, December 10, 2007

a strange request for a recovering catholic

Last Sunday, I was having the lovely rare breakfast that someone made for me, and I was just about to dig into this awesome made-from-scratch waffle that weighed a pound, not including the butter and maple syrup, when the phone rang. Not one to pick up the phone in such situations, I glanced at the caller ID as I was getting up to heat up my coffee and it was my sister from Brooklyn. Why was she calling me on a Sunday morning, had she actually figured I would not be riding since it was sleeting? Maybe it was an emergency. So I picked it up.


"Hi, What are you doing?"

"I'm having breakfast with someone."

"I need to ask you something," she said.

" Ok."

"So . . you pretty much consider yourself a non-Catholic at this point, right?" she asked, in a voice that indicated she already knew the answer but was just asking as a formality.

I was staring at my Christmas tree, with all of my pretty pink and red glass ornaments, thinking of the symbolism of that tree. There were about 10 pictures on the walls of various religious scenes in history, from Antoine Caron's Massacre of the Triumvarate to Gustave Dore's Vision of Death on a Pale Horse. To be honest, I loved religious art, but my tastes preferred the macabre to the divine. I was more interested in religion as the perfect example of man's desire to categorize the metaphysial, rather than a true belief in the bible and its allegories. I had really not felt very strongly about being a "recovering Catholic" since college, when for some reason I had thought going to a Jesuit university after being a carefree child of public schools was a good idea. It wasn't. But really I think about religion about as much anymore as my eldest dog Gryphon. I have my own brand of spirituality, and it has nothing to do with dogma, the Pope, or the stages of the cross in stained glass: as much as appreciate them for their fragile testament to man's refusal to deny himself the luxury af an afterlife. But this was an interesting way to start out a lazy, cold, nasty Sunday morning. "Why?" I asked.

"well because we need a Godmother for Florie, and you are the logical candidate, but it won't work if you are blatently anti-Catholic."

"Are you asking me to be your child's Godmother?" the weight of this all of a sudden struck me as funny, in that she felt it more important to question my allegiance to Catholicism, rather than question me as to how seriously I would take the prospect of becoming her child's mother, should something happen to herself or her husband. What a surprise this all was. After all, I was always out riding my bike at the kids' birthday parties, chasing my dreams that did not include marraige or children without fur. Often my family members forget to invite me to dinner, much less ask me to mother their children. Yikes.

" umm . . yes I would really love you to . . " she insisted.

I decided to use a stalling tactic. "Who is Alessandra's Godmother?" I asked. Alessandra is her first child, the one pictured above, Florie's older sister.

"Jackie," she shot back. ". . . so if something happens to Chris and I you would have to STEP UP." We both started giggling at that point. Jackie, my older sister with her big house, demanding work and social schedule, and two spoiled rotten little boys. Sabrina probably had nightmares thinking about Alessandra and Florie being raised by Jackie's full-time nanny.

"Well how Catholic do I have to be? What does it involve?" I asked, envisioning those classes I was required to attend when I got married in my early twenties. To learn how to be a good Catholic wife. And mother.

"You would have to commit to the ceremony one weekend in January when she gets baptized. . . and . . . you basically would have to lie to a priest."

"No problem," I said.

"Ok, great--I'm so glad." And with that we said our goodbyes, and I dug into my waffle, the Christmas tree sparkling in the background the the dogs looking up wistfully, like little angels around the creche.

Friday, November 23, 2007

thanksgiving 2007

The day started out great. 70 degrees on the short, intense road ride. The Pretzel and Cadence crews went to the Willows and basked in the spring-like weather, especially fortuitous as it had rained for something like 5 days, or so it seemed. I got back to 3434 and raked leaves, scrubbed my patio with chlorine to get rid of the algae which kept appearing on my rug in green dog pawprints, and made the yam casserole for the family dinner. I thought of my mother's hopeful query the other day, when she was telling me what time to arrive on Thanksgiving, asking cheerily if I would be bringing someone to dinner. I paused, wondering why she thought I would be bringing someone to dinner, and then I realized Jackie had told her I was seeing someone. "No mom, just me."

Dinner was delicious, except my nephews were their usual really loud, screaming, exuberant selves, being 3 and 6. I vowed, over their hysterical banter, to call my gynocologist on Monday and get my tubes tied. But after 3 games of hide and seek and lots of kisses and hugs from them I thought maybe I could wait a few more years . . .

The phone rang. I answered it. A voice on the other line paused, took a breath, and said, "Is this Andrea?" Odd, I thought, I had not lived in this house for 6 years, but then I surmised this was an uncle or cousin.

"Yes . . . " The voice spoke slowly and deliberately, but I could not place it.

"Do you know who this is?" Damn, I freaking hate when people do this to me, no I don't know who it is.

"I have no idea."

"Ok", the voice said, speaking even slower, " . . then can I please talk to your mother?"

I handed over the phone, mouthing to her, I have no idea who this is. She took the phone and in a second it was revealed it was my ex-boyfriend of 6 years, the one whose generous heart I had broken, badly. He was dissapointed that I had not known who it was. After a brief chat with her, truncated by the rush to pull the turkey from the oven, my mother handed me back the phone.

So this was it, how perfect, to happen on Thanksgiving. I had wanted to mend fences; I wondered when I would run into him, this person who still maintained a relationship with everyone in my family except me, even after all this time. I figured it was time; he had 3 children now, an established relationship, a new and strange existence from the happy-go-lucky life he onced lived.

So I said hello, and in a rush of words I told him I had hoped to be able to talk to him again, thinking but not saying that his last words to me were so heavy with anger and grief. I told him I was happy for him, that I wished him well; that I was keeping busy racing my bike, hanging out with my dogs, fixing up my house.

He could not get over that I did not recognize his voice. He greeted my casual expressions of goodwill and relief with a practiced iciness. "You should have told me who you were," I scolded, laughing.

"You should have known."

"Rich, I have not spoken to you in like 5 years, and you sound different."

"It's only been 2 and a half years."

And then I knew that he was not quite over it. I had moved on, to the point where I did not even know him anymore, and he was hurt by that. I expressed a desire to catch up with him some day, but I knew this would never be arranged.

I felt that guilt again, which had blossomed into a deep sadness by the time I drove home alone, in the cold that had overtaken the spring-like weather with a howling fury.

I had much to be thankful for this year, and here was one more thing, a bittersweet denouement to a phase in my past which had refused to be quiet, refused to be buried in these hectic, ambitious years.

Monday, November 19, 2007

thanks for the gift that keeps on giving . .

so I could not figure out why both of my computers at home keep on crashing, and the browsers hanging up . . . I knew it was probably spyware, but I am really careful about staying away from that stuff--WTF?

. . . then it hit me. My little tuesday night crew was here last week and just HAD to watch some disgusting video re: girls and a cup. If you have not heard of this phenomenon, consider yourself one of the blissful ignorati. And no, I won't link to it: if you are so curious do a search for it and you can get spyware and probably a trojan too.

I refused to join in the fun last tuesday and watch this infantile piece of viral marketing because I don't like stuff that reminds me that most Americans have been rendered numb from their exposure to everything from obnoxious advertising campaigns, daily news reports of illegal and legal violence and of course a popular media that is obsessed with guns and sex. So the bar has been set so damn LOW you have to make a video that resorts to the most degrading and filthy human practices in order to garner the kind of attention that this little piece of mauvaise culture has. The brilliant part is that there is a whole slew of videos on youtube of people filming their friends reactions to this disgusting exercise in overstimulation. And all the while everyone who views it subjects themselves (or in this case me) to viruses, spyware and trojans.

My little take-home tip: if you are on a website that flashes naked girly pictures, you are pretty much guaranteed to be exposing your computer, your work computer, or the computer of the person who feeds you every tuesday night to some unspeakably bad things, unless your security settings are set so high you would probably not be able to view many websites properly.
I will think about this gift as I spend several hours purging this crap from my registry, thanks boys and girls.

about time

so I have been simply awful about updating recently so allow me to get a little caught up . . .

My party was a smashing success which was good, because it involved a ton of time, money and last-minute stress, mainly since I used it as an excuse to do a whole bunch of things around the house that had been bugging me for a year and I was still doing said things the day of the party, this is not recommended. Apparently the videos have gotten somewhat popular, thanks Woody. (make sure you check out both of them) I actually took some late-night photos as well, enjoy.

I finally got around to reviewing the results for my season, and I ended up doing 21 races, mostly middle of the pack in terms of results : ( Up from zero races in 2006 (torn hamstring) and 8 races in 2005 that was not so bad. I really enjoyed the marathon format, so I will definitely be doing more or those in 2008, although 4-5 hour races really suck the life out of you for a week or so, and Janel and I did talk about doing the 7 Springs 24-hour race as a duo . . . and of course there is always the possibility that I will race some cyclocross next year. (I went to the Gran Prix yesterday and the level of suffering evident on everyone's face was certainly appealing; that and the sub-40 degree temperatures and unrelenting rain made for a perfect day to be a spectator.) I really enjoyed the few road races I did as well, although I think Janel and I desperately need to take a Road Racing 101 before we do anymore of those.

All this sounds OK in November but the next several months with the valentinebaby roll-out and everything else I have heaped on my plate will really determine what is going to happen next year so all bets are off at the moment. My priority is now valentinebaby and 3434 bowman renovations. There, I wrote it down, now I just gotta DO IT.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

la porte rouge

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

--Alexander Graham Bell

Friday, October 26, 2007

and so it begins

0 squirrels

0 madison & andrea

I spents months drooling over gardening catalogs and finally I chose them: the most beautiful bulbs and perennials that money could buy. The problem is in Philadelphia the squirrels are voracious devourers of plant matter, and their favs are bulbs and pansies, apparently. No sooner do I plant my bulbs but there are tell-tale holes all over my front bed.

Not this year, you little rodents from hell.

Last week hours after I planted 150 bulbs we rigged up a really interesting patchwork of chicken wire and salvaged slate panels.

Yes the front garden looks a little white-trashy, but if it works I will be rewarded with a glorious garden come springtime. Madison and I are on the same team, and although Gryphon and Chloe also patrol the rear perimeter for bushy-tailed rodents, Madison is the one that can execute the kill command and actually pluck them off the top of the back fence as they scurry away after raiding the bird feeders. She got one last year, anyway, along with several opossums. I am a little nervous about the edges; they still need to be pinned down but this contraption is my last best hope before I resort to a bb gun and poison. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the final tuesday night party

Alas, cadence 'cross practice is over and so is the tuesday night shindig. Last night was we enjoyed fine beer, appetizers, soft tacos, wonderful desserts, and vodka (apparently). But the Pumpkin Carving Contest and drunken Balance Ball was only rivaled by the sight of chris pagoda pelting coach kuhn with the soccer ball. You kinda had to be there, but anyway here are the photos . . . remember it was dark out there.

Speaking of balance ball I think I need help finalizing the rules so that we may play a few rounds on November 3rd. Anyone who would like to help me with this I would appreciate it, professional coaches are especially encouraged.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Full Moon

devour my soul
like rapacious gulls and leave me
winced and waterworn as beached shells
criss-crossed with seaweed and chalky scars
which once housed vibrant-hued creatures
pulsing warm and jelly-soft
and when they have pecked me clean
as moon-bleached bones
I wake with a flickering fear
that something is
strangely askew until
I drown again
in foamy


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

my most recent acquisition:

The Massacre of the Triumvirate, 1566  by Antoine Caron
The Massacre of the Triumvirate, 1566
Antoine Caron
it was better to be a Catholic than a Protestant during the reign of Charles IX in sixteenth century France

Monday, October 15, 2007

God's Country Marathon

this was posted on the Guy's Racing list-serve yesterday when I finally got around to writing about it . .

So this was the last race of the season, and when I was mapping out directions the night before I realized that it was 5 hours away. Ouch. 10 hours driving in the car by myself, and I have not made any new CDs because my CD burner is on the fritz. So as a last resort I emailed the list-serve and lo and behold Bill Nagel and Timmy D were driving up and there was room in the Nagelmobile. I jumped at the chance. We had a fun time on the way up. The leaves were changing up there and the scenery was breathtaking on the ride. I asked to hear some of the ubiquitous country music but my compatriots were having none of it.

The race itself was, as Tim said, rather boring, but I did get some pics of him in his champion jersey, looking all buff. I made the requisite burritos and we ate them with gusto after the race. During the race I opted for an easy pace as this late in the season I have zero tolerance for pain . . . speaking of which the race had 7200 feet of climbing and it was all in the first half, then a screaming downhill where you did not need to touch the breaks at all. Freakin' awesome, I don't think I have ever gone that fast in a mountain bike race.

The best part for me: on the second lap of the race Loretta Torres was behind me and after gleefully finishing the climbs and scooting happily around the ridge I turned the corner, and there they were about 50 feet in front of me, two beautiful black bear cubs in all their glossy-furred majesty. I called to Loretta to dismount and she almost had a heart attack, before I could say much she was racing her bike in the opposite direction. I told her they were cubs and to hang tight because they were scared of us and unless we saw their mama there was no need to ride away. Besides, there were other racers on the course, were we just going to leave and let them deal with the problem? I advanced toward them. They uneasily looked at me and started to walk away slowly, looking back every few paces. I wanted to get closer; I got back on my bike and started riding gingerly towards them, speaking to them in that high sing-song voice that women like to use with small children and animals. They practically cocked their heads, stopping. One of them had enough and stood up on two legs. Suddenly I realized he was way taller than me: these were not baby bears and I was hoping they were hanging out sans mama. When he stood up like that and faced me square I stopped. The other one walked up to a tree and started to climb it, glaring at me uneasily. Loretta was basically having a meltdown and asked me to stay with her for the rest of the race. (yeah right) "They are scared of us", I whispered, and started riding towards them slowly. Now I was within striking distance, about 25 feet. Undaunted, I was hoping they were going to back down. They decide I was too close and lumbered off the trail into the woods. I got back on my bike and kept on going, calling to Loretta to stay with me. She ended up DNFing, and I completed my final lap for 4th place. What a rush.

Oh yeah, back to the race: I am hoping the promoter decides to add more single track next year and I would definitely head back. I really like the marathon format and will definitely race that series next year. Right now I am taking a little break and concentrating on enjoying myself and making some coin so I can buy a 29er. For no other reason than so Bill and Tim stop telling me how lame I am for still riding the Yeti 26er.

One final footnote to my season: I have really enjoyed reading all of the race reports this year and after many races and rides with the team I am really glad to have joined this great group of friends. I hope to see all of you at the party on November 3rd. Ciao. A
Several hours later there were a few responses:
Tim Dixon: Nice report....... Lame bike!
Ed Hein: It seems Bill Tim and Big Ben form Beans all agree - When it comes to MB wheels - size does matter.
Well see when the new 29ers arrive. (note: the 29'er pro deal was not offered in size small so I got screwed)
Big Joe: world cup wins on 29er 0
every world cup win rolling little wheels
Ed Hein: Andrea, I have to ask - Does Lorretta Torres shit in the woods when she sees a bear?
I can just hear you Andrea "Crigie take a look at this black bear - she's a beauty!
Janel: The only question is... do they make a PINK 29er? Andrea might have to get a custom paint job for that! Nice race report, well done!
Tim Dixon: On second thought, Andrea if your racing world cup next year, stick with the 26er.
I love being on a big team!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

cheap psychology #1

the whiteboard

what is it about men? I have had this whiteboard for just about as long as I have owned this house (6 years) because I was tired of losing the little slips of paper where I would write down the groceries I needed. "milk, bread, maple syrup, eggs" you name it. (I know, I am hungry for breakfast right now, sheesh) Then it kinda morphed into a general "shit I need to buy" list of all kinds, so it might also include things along the lines of "windchime, C batteries, bone meal, etc." If I were thinking about it when I reached into the fridge to grab the milk for the coffee in the morning it was on the board.

The crazy thing is that whenever I have a male person in this house, especially, but not necessarily in the presence of alcohol, said man-person cannot resist the squeaky little call of the dry erase marker . . .

Over the years there have been illegible scribblings, love notes, cartoons (mostly sexual, hmm) and dirty messages that I was really glad to have erased before anyone saw them. But most of all what I would see when I finally got around to noticing the board the next day was a sarcastic mimicry of my matter-of-fact juxtapositioning of the aforementioned items. My deviation from the basic, boring grocery list seems to drive my male visitors into a frenzy of creativity, and after all, there it is for everyone to see.

Can you guess which items were added by someone at the tuesday night apres 'cross shindig, dry erase marker in one hand, glass of belgian ale in the other?

Friday, October 12, 2007

the cyclocross remount

so I have been taking this cyclocross class taught by Mike & Colin through Cadence and each week and as I have noticed the improvement of every other rider in the class except moi I would vow, fervently, to get my shit together over the weekend and practice practice practice. Each weekend I have had a race, since my season went from April through October, until this one. And lucky me, I have all this extra time now since I am not allowed to ride my bike for 10 days so today I decided to take Ed's Ridley to the local park and do a little work so I could do something on tuesday besides plan the after 'cross afterparty. I could not for the life of me get the freakin' dismount, it seemed so crazy to thread my inside leg between the frame and my other leg (yikes) but with the aid of a chain link fence I was able to get this today. There it was-- the "ah hah" moment when you realize the your perceived incompetence was actually just inexperience tinged with a little fear.

So then it was time to tackle the remount. So there I am out in this field by myself on a windy fall day and I could not remember how the heck I could get myself back on that bike in one fluid motion. When I tried to connect my upper thigh with the saddle I was chagrined to find that my upper thigh was about 4 inches below my saddle. Guess I forgot I was supposed to jump! I got back inside and found this video. OH. Duh. I think I can get this tomorrow. Going for a run now.  One hurdle per day is enough for me right now and I'm already at like 5.

no more summer weather . . .

today I changed the sheets and as the wind was whipping up its own little tempest outside I realized it was the time of year to put on the down comforter and the flannel sheets. I love flannel sheets! doesn't this just make want you cozy up and catch some z?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

sea change

Full fathom five thy father lies
Of his bones are coral made
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

--William Shakespeare, The Tempest

. . . well, it is that time of year again when everything changes for me. I don't mean just some leaves falling and the shift to more riding inside. I mean major life upheaval. As much as I take solace in life's little rituals in the short-term, I am someone who thrives on change. A weird synergy has occurred in the past month, I am sleeping less, eating less, the mind is buzzing and creative winds are blowing. New people have entered into my life and some have left, suddenly, like a cloud of negative energy dissipating as a door is slammed shut. good riddance.

I toss and turn at night in a fitful attempt at sleep, that part sucks, but luckily there are herbs, and as a last resort, medication. I have several parties interested in my business, and it looks like I will have the new website up soon. That means more work and less time for fun and training, but priorities have to change . . . I got a new perspective the other day on my relationship with my friends, and I have been thinking about it a lot: still mulling it over, but it will open up many doors if I can get my stubborn brain around it. It is a change of outlook, utterly.

I was really bummed out in cycling class yesterday, and as I struggled trying to hit my zones I realized that I had no desire to be in a class, staring at a power meter with all of its silent judgment of me and my cycling prowess. f@ that, I have had enough. So I told Coach Mike I wanted to take a month off from class. The next day I emailed that I was going to do a recovery ride and he said he wanted me off the bike for 10 days. The first thing my administrative assistant did when when heard that was ask to immediately go on vacation.
be careful what you ask for you witch

So my body and mind will get a rest from my relentless drive to succeed and I can devote more time and energy to the new urgent happenings taking wing at 3434. As it has at many times throughout my life, something good has come about from the upheaval of the past 4 weeks. Thank god for Madison, Gryphon and Chloe, their brown eyes saw my distress and never failed to offer me a paw or muzzle when I really needed it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

online dating, part 2

yeah well I am back on the market again, and since I never seem to actually meet anyone that is not already married, I thought I would give a dating website another try. This one targets fitness minded induh-viduals and my goodness there are quite a few sports out there, aren't there? anyway, here is my latest honest to goodness email from a total stranger . . .

Hi~~ How are you? Hope you're having an awesome weekend!! Mine's been great... Hangin' out with my daughters most of the weekend. One had a tennis tournament and the other went to a Blackhawks (hockey) game last night.. Had planned on a bike ride but had to delay it until tomorrow morning. You seem very real, sincere and totaly cool! I was in Philly last year picking up a Jeep I bought on ebay.. ;) Could have had lunch! lol You also see very passionate which I like! I'm the same... My largest is probably movie making... Just ordered a RED ultra HD digital cinema camera package that's about 6 times better then the one Mel Gibson used to shoot Apocalypto! I have to wait a while for actual delivery but need the preproduction lead time anyway because I shoot my first feature film next August!! YEAH!!!! Hope to talk soon.. Joe

Hmm, I wonder if Joe was trying to impress me with the size of his camera? At least you have to give him points for telling me a little about himself though. sigh.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

goodbye season

well, the season is over, somewhat unofficially because I still have one more endurance race, the God's Country marathon at Ski Denton, up in Potter County, Pennsylvania. I got into the endurance stuff late in the game so I am not really taking it that seriously. I have not been training to ride 50 miles at race pace, so I just keep the pace steady and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings, something you never get to do when you are hammering along in a cross-country race. At Michaux the other week, I got lucky because one of the 3 pros that showed up DNFed so I ended up with a podium spot. Harlan wrote an article about the race in which he succinctly pointed out that although I was third I was "not a threat" to Michelle and Cheryl Sornson. (Because I came in 1 hour 39 minutes behind them, yes I had two flats but still . . . remember I said I was enjoying the scenery?) Anyway, Sunday was the XC finale at Bear Creek, a very rocky technical course that I really like. This was the first time I raced it. I nailed all of the technical stuff for the most part, but my legs felt really crappy the whole race. Burning the whole time, I mean I just had nothing in me. There was one steep hill at the end of the lap and I did not even try to ride it--not even on the first lap. That is so not like me. But I knew my legs were so close to blowing up and I just needed to finish this race. I felt completely broken at the end, like I never wanted to do another race again. I came in 6th, and it was a bitter pill to swallow to have my season crash and burn like it did after July. There were probably many reasons for that, and I am still in the analysis stage, but for now I am just kinda sad about the whole thing. And glad it's over.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Iron Hell

this weekend kinda sucked cycling-wise, because I had my first DNF in a race, ever. I would say the worst part of a DNF for me is how I torture myself the entire afternoon and days afterward with doubts about my commitment and fitness level. Maybe I don't train right, maybe I have a lower tolerance for pain than my competition, or maybe I just suck. My teammate John DNFed also, which was mighty convenient for me, because he was my ride home. Saturday at Iron Hill Park in Delaware there was 100% humidity, it had climbed to 98F during our expert race (we started at 11) and they were saying the heat index was 107-112 depending on which weather service you listen to. It was also the first day of my period and that day I am always weak and pretty intolerant of stress (like, more than the rest of the month, I swear.) It was so hot that I aborted my warm-up after 18 minutes (I'm the type who really does not get warmed up for 50 minutes, which sucks, because I hate warming up; if I could just show up without the extra bike and trainer and all the crap and just race at the whistle I would like this whole lifestyle a lot better) because I was sweating so badly in just my sports bra and shorts I was afraid I would cramp after the 2nd lap. My game plan was not to sprint out at the start, just take it easy and keep a steady pace and not worry about beating anyone. Just to keep it steady. So we started and I found myself with Sally McLain, Sarah Lichtenwalter, and some other roady who hit her brakes on every rocky downhill so hard I almost ran her over. Great, right where I should be, I was feeling OK, and thought "I can do this for 25 miles." Then we hit the first big hill, actually the ONLY big hill in the race and my heart rate went to 175 immediately, I could not breathe, I mean I was sucking air as if I were not on any asthma meds, and I thought I was going to have to walk up the f'in hill. It was so weird. My heart rate, which usually drops like a stone, would not come down, even after softpedlaing for minutes. I felt awful, awful. I actually got off my bike and sat down on the side of the trail, it was pathetic. There was no way I could just ride slowly and just get the miles in a la Fair Hill, no way. So I stopped to talk to Amy Breyla and when I revealed the period cause and effect she said she was having the same problem. So I could complain that I paid $30 to ride 5 miles, but I learned something today. No more racing under those conditions when I have my period. Ever. This was one of those times I wished I were a man, but then I came to my senses.

To make up for it I signed up for the Lake Nockamixon Century, a really nice award-winning ride (read = pay some money to support our bike club and we send you on a 100 mile scavenger hunt to find these teeny tiny little white markings on the roads, while plying you with brownies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gatorade) that a bunch of my Guy's teammates were doing. Long story short, I got there 10 minutes late because of the construction they have been doing on 309 for the last 10 years, my 12 male teammates saw me, said hello and left anyway. Thanks Guys, and you wonder why there are no f'in women on our team. I asked them to slow it up for the first 5 miles. I then rushed so quickly to get my shit together, I did not even pee or put my pack on my bike (so no tube, no inflator for 75 miles). I then proceeded to ride 75 miles faster than I ever have, and these were hilly Buck's County miles. A few guys tried to keep up with me a couple of times but I always moved on. (Before I pat myself on the back too much these were mostly recreational riders I would say, and I did the 75, not the 100.) It was fun. My downhills have gotten much faster; (thanks Cadence Climbing camp) it was fun to weigh 118 and to descend much faster than guys who weigh 170, although the roads were pretty slick so it was kinda scary some of the time. At the end half of my team did the 75 (half did the 100), and they got in 10 minutes before me. I stopped at 3 rest stops to refill fluids (they had cytomax and it was good!) They left 10 minutes after me. They got to draft each other, and these guys are all pretty fast. I could have done the 100 but I felt the beginnings of a pseudo-cramp coming on. So I pretty much kicked ass, which I really needed after Saturday, but man am I going to be sore this week . . .

Friday, August 17, 2007

why it's hard to date cyclists

whoa, I was just looking at the staggering amount of men that I know who race bikes who have a blog. What is it with bike racers and their need to discuss every minute detail of their racing and training lives? Are they all (at least the men, sorry guys) totally self-obsessed or what?

Maybe that is why I am not in a serious relationship after all this time . . . I can't imagine getting into settling down with someone whose idea of a vacation is sitting on a beach. To me a vacation involves cycling at least part of the time. Yet I am thinking now that 90% of cyclists are more interested in their bikes and race results than they are in women. And by that I mean 90% of the straight ones. And it would be nice if we could talk about something besides bike parts and upcoming races. I mean that is all great, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about that stuff, but how about everything else that is going on in the world?

And then there are many of them who have chosen professions that allow them to be on their bikes more, which is commendable, but many of these professions do not leave them with much discretionary income. The farther I get from my twenties, the less patient I am for men who don't have their financial house in order. I mean, at least have a plan for christ's sake. I do pretty well on my own, but God knows I don't want to support someone else. . . . unless he is really fast and really good looking. . .

Sunday, August 12, 2007

mountain bike racing as a mirror of life

I did a lot or races in the 2005 season, and I finished pretty well. In 2006 I was diagnosed with a hamstring tear and did no racing at all, however, going into the season, before I knew I was injured, I was almost dreading it. I had, and still have, a little too much going on between the 2 jobs, the house, dogs, training, racing, gardening, cooking . . the list seems endless. Moreover, I have not had a lot of time to find creative outlets in my adult life and this has me wishing I could have made some different decisions regarding my choice of career. (read = I pretty much hate my job most of the time)

Yet I think back to those formative years in my teens and twenties and I wonder what I should have done differently. So what if I had asked for help when I needed it and taken advice from those with a bit more life experience than my own? What if I did not spend the majority of my twenties in the black abyss of depression? What if I had not met the man I spent 6 years of my late twenties/early thirties with who seemed so capable but was actually, quite, well, a mess. Was that totally wasted time, irrespective of all of the good times that we shared together?

And then there is cycling. What an effect that has had on my life. Racing mountain bikes is such a metaphor for life. Racing a bike over technical and grueling terrain for 2 to 3 hours at a time is the hardest physical task I have ever had to do; sometimes I cannot believe I actually volunteer to do this. Ah. . . the pain and misery of a race, with all of its dirt and sweat and seizing muscles. But that hardship is addictive, and in training as in racing, the commitment hardens us, and the adversity defines us. I have spent a lot of time and tears thinking about what should have been in my life. After all, to whom much is given, much is expected, right? I have spent hours ruminating on the effects of wasted potential and opportunities squandered and other self-effacing concepts that can be traced back to my perfectionist, emotionally bankrupt, abusive father. But, as with even the triumphs of my life, it is all water under the bridge. Thus although it sounds trite, would I really be who I am today if my personality was not etched by the ebb and rush of these waters? I can’t change the past, and if I allow its perceived weight to negatively affect my present than I ignore the benefits life has given me. Do I like who I am today? Can I live my life unfettered by the brash, unrealistic expectations of my youth; proud of my accomplishments and eager for the chance to better myself? Would I be where I am standing now without the clarity and self-confidence that only the experience of triumph over adversity could have rendered? I think not.