Monday, May 30, 2005

Feeling The Burn

First Lap This past weekend was the Burn 24 Hour Challenge, and my second endurance race in as many weeks, so was a real test of the recovery stage of my knee. My plan was to do the entire race on the rigid singlespeed. However, after the first 5 laps, I (along with a couple of other riders who also switched out their rigid forks in favor of suspension) decided that the screaming fast descents were just too jarring and that my hands would need a bit of a rest in order to complete the race, so I switched to my suspended singlespeed. I found it amusing how many folks at the race actually recognized "Spot" (my leopardskin painted bike) before me!
Spot

Anyway, although I was understandably disappointed that I finished last in the Solo Women with only 13 laps total, I was encouraged by the fact that I completed one more lap than last year and rode the entire race on a singlespeed (I believe I was the only woman to do so). I also had a great time seeing so many friends again and riding one of the most fun courses on the southeastern endurance circuit. Dark Mountain is just a blast to ride. My knee seemed to hold up reasonably well until the last couple of laps which I ended up having to walk a lot of due to some worrisome pain in the joint. I periodically iced my knee during the race which seemed to help some, and the worst of the pain did gradually begin waning with some light stretching, moist heat and rest after the race was over. I was happy to have been able to finish the race with no major issues, and hopefully being able to rest a few weeks between my next couple of races this year will facilitate a full recovery by next spring.

There were a lot of positives for me during this event, despite my race placing. One tremendous surprise for me came when Tyler, the race promoter, asked if he could do a video interview with me about my race experience! I hope I was coherent enough to answer the questions sensibly. I also have to give a word of gratitude to all the other riders who made the race seem more like one big friendly group ride than a competition. The other solo racers are my constant inspiration and can dig deeper within themselves for strength than imaginable. My fellow singlespeeders (and there were plenty of them at this race) really know how to have fun and push themselves all at the same time. The teams were unbelievably encouraging, cheering all the racers on all through the night. It was great to see and talk with folks who are my inspiration and have made my bicycling career a joy, like Javaun Moradi and Jen (thank you so much for managing my bike at the start area and making sure my number was attached!), John Moorhouse, Eddie O'Dea, Heather Mosley, Brian and the Charlotte Dirt Divas (my hair stayed braided the entire time, and your cheers really kept me going!), Matt and all the other singlespeeders out there (you folks just plain ROCK!), and all the other solo riders including Bob Anderson (you're just amazing, always with a smile and a kind word to every rider on the trail, all day and all night long, even when you've been in the saddle for nearly 24 hours yourself!).

Of course, extra special thanks have to go out to some people who made it possible for me to even do this race.

Tyler Benedict Tyler Benedict
Race Director and Source Burn President. You really know how to put on a race, and are truly one of the heroes of our sport. Thank you for all you do. And your son is precious!

Matt Adams Matt Adams
One of the "main men" of the Brushy Mountain Cyclists who maintain the Dark Mountain Trail System. You folks have worked very hard and the results are obvious to anyone who rides this awesome trail network. You and Ellen and the rest of the volunteers were also just a delight at the checkpoint. You really kept me going when I wanted to just give up. Thank you for posing for this picture with me, and for all your hard work and dedication.

Condiments The Condiments
Steve's team (Regina, Steve, Mike, Pete and Will). You folks were the best support crew I could ever ask for, even all the while racing yourselves - and pulling off a third place finish among some very tough competition! You took care of everything for me, and even kept me laughing the entire weekend with all your shenanigans.
Will Being Silly

Charlie Storm Charlie
(photo courtesy of Fit To Be Tried Bikes)
My coach and constant source of focus and encouragement. It meant a lot to me to be able to talk with you near midnight on Saturday when I was feeling lost and hopeless. You brought me back and kept me going. It made the last few hours of the race so much easier to have you call me again first thing in the morning with those last few words of advice and support. You make me feel equally as important and worthy of your time as your elite clients and it's my privilege to call you not only my coach, but also my friend.

And my husband Steve Steve
As always, you are my foundation, my heart and my love.

Steve also has a gallery of tons of photos from the race Here

Monday, May 23, 2005

Tsali Update

Last Lap As an edit to my earlier post from today which can be found below, I just saw the 12 Hours of Tsali RESULTS . While it looks like I ended up in 12th for the solo women (I think 21 women registered and 17 finished), I apparently would have made the TOP FIVE for the singlespeed category!!! I know, I know, the results are not what matters, but I'm really excited to have survived the rigid and gotten close to the middle of the pack in that class! Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this possible for me.

Heartfelt congrats to everyone - it was a tough race, but we did it. YAY! Looking forward to Burn next weekend.
Rockin The Rigid

Also, for anyone interested, Steve got around 500 photographs during the race which can be found HERE

Tsali 12 Hour Race

Tsali As I sit here and reflect on my first race of the season this past weekend, so many things flood my mind. Relief that my knee did manage to hold up, with only minimal pain, and that I was able to complete the event without any major mishaps. Joy of seeing so many old friends, and making so many new ones both on and off the trail. Pride that I was able to complete the entire race on a rigid singlespeed as the only woman, I believe, to do so at this race. I was somewhat let down to find that it was taking me far longer to complete the laps than I had originally estimated, but I make no excuses. Yes, the weather made things sketchy early on, but we all had to race the same conditions. And the fact that I have a 24 hour race next weekend and was on a rigid singlespeed are both choices that I made for myself - besides, I think my bike choice actually may have been an advantage in all reality! I have no idea where I ended up placing, although I suspect it was near the bottom since I only logged 65 miles, but my placing doesn't really matter. I got to spend a whole day riding my bike - it just doesn't get any better than that!

It was also truly wonderful to discover how many friends I had out there, supporting and encouraging me. Some of particular note include:

Matt Lee Matt
Your constant encouragement and concern about my knee were most appreciated, and you probably weren't aware that I was just about ready to give up and walk that one climb when I felt your hand on my shoulder. Thank you for reminding me that I could do this.

Fairleigh Fairley1
Thank you for making me laugh and keeping my mind off how much I was hurting as we climbed along the ridge. It was a pleasure riding with you, and I'll never forget your smile.

Tinker Juarez Tinker
You are one of the most gracious and accommodating riders by whom I've ever had the pleasure to be passed. I so much appreciate your willingness to completely change your passing line in order to give me the smoother route when my arms were burning near the end of the race.

Bob Thanks Bob
I couldn't imagine a more pleasant way to end a 12 hour race than by sharing the ride with you. I know you're so much stronger than I, and could easily have done another lap, yet you stayed right there with me for the last 20 miles, when I so wanted to quit. You'll never know how much that meant to me, to have you there, engaging me in conversation, taking my mind off the pain, and keeping me going. You made it possible for me to finish strong, and I can't thank you enough for that.

Robin and Ed Robin Ed
Sharing a pit area with you was awesome! It was so great to spend the day with you, and I hope to see you again very soon.

The folks pitted on either side of us (I'm sorry I failed to get your names) Neighbors
Thank you for being so honest and admitting how difficult this race was for you too. It helped me to know that I was not suffering alone. You both rock, by the way!

Doug and Mike Doug and Mike
It always makes my weekend to go to a race and find you there. I love you guys - nobody knows how to enjoy riding a bicycle like you two!

Jennifer Jennifer
It was such a pleasure talking with you on the way up to one of the overlook areas (even though I didn't realize who you were at the time!). When Javaun told me later that was you and how many laps you had gotten, I was so proud (and envious) of you!

Charlie Storm - Thank you for making me do those last two laps, and for the last minute advice and encouragement. I hope I didn't let you down.

And finally, last but certainly not least, Steve - My husband, mechanic, support crew, and best friend. You make everything possible for me. What more can I say than I love you.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ready or Not

Climbing Well, I'm one day away from heading to the hills - that is, the mountains of North Carolina, where I will be competing in the 12 Hours of Tsali this weekend. While I realize that nothing is ever guaranteed in a race, and I have every chance of finishing first, last, or anywhere in between, one thing I do know. I am ready. I'm still very early in my knee rehabilitation and my training, but I've faithfully followed my regimented program to the letter. Over the past couple of months, I've watched my body change and grow stronger, and after last night's recovery ride, I know that I will never look at myself in the same way again. There was a power available to me that I'd never realized I had, muscles working in unison to achieve a common goal. During this time of focusing on healing and strengthening myself, I've learned to accept and love the body in which I live; to work with it as a team, and rather than wishing I was something that I am not, I'm putting forth the time and effort to begin transforming my body - and my mind - into the very best that it can be. It's a long road, a lifetime goal, but I'm on my way. My body, mind and spirit are united, strong, prepared, and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Looking Forward to the Future

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Rejuvenation

I love to ride my bike. I Love To Ride My Bike

Lately I've been under a tremendous amount of stress related to various things going on in my life, and I guess I had momentarily forgotten the honesty of that simple statement. I originally didn't want to ride today. I was tired, irritable, unproductively worried about things over which I failed to realize I had no control anyway, and really had to summon all my mental fortitude to load up my bike and head out. I was sullen and grumpy the entire way to the trailhead, determined that I wasn't going to enjoy the ride. However, once I clipped in and headed out into the woods, it didn't take long before nothing mattered except the ribbon of trail. It meandered its way through the trees, punctuated by brilliant strips of sunlight interrupting the cool shade. As I pedaled along, my mind began to liberate itself from the clutter and I surrendered my attention to the natural beauty all around me. I focused on my breathing and concentrated on making smooth even circles with each pedal stroke. Without my even realizing it, the hours just melted away, along with my anxiety and stress, and I felt refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated. Suddenly all those previous seemingly insurmountable mountains of worries had become mere speedbumps that I just pedaled right over. I love to ride my bike.

Monday, May 2, 2005

I Love A Challenge

I Love A Challenge! You have to love it when you get the e-mail from your coach outlining your biweekly workout schedule, and the message starts off stating "Yo, This is a tough two weeks..."! I could have gotten scared and intimidated, and decided it's too difficult, I can't, I won't, etc. But if I had allowed myself to be that easily beaten down, I never would have attempted any of the things that have changed me forever and made my life worth living. By refusing a challenge, I never would have considered moving away from my home out in the country surrounded by my family, to a city where I knew no one and was totally alone, which in turn might have meant I never would have met my soulmate, Steve. I never would have given a second thought to learning to ride a bicycle as an adult and thus would have missed out on experiences and journeys about which I could only have dreamed just a few short years ago. So when Charlie says it's going to be a tough two weeks - and especially after perusing the training schedule and deciding for myself that he is quite correct - I say bring it on; I love a challenge!