Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tour Of Hermann

I hope this all fits in the bag

Jeff Yielding put this two day gravel race, The Tour Of Hermann, out there in late 2012.  I wanted to sign up immediately but life has a way of getting in the way of me doing cool stuff so, I could not commit until the last minute. I secured a sitter for Saturday and got myself / bike together.  I have had the pleasure of riding Hermann gravel before and am aware of those fuggin' hills. Some of them are ridiculous. I was going anyway, it would be good to see where I am at in my training. Plus, I knew Jeff would not disappoint as he puts his heart and soul into every production.

YES!!! Success. 

Rolling into the parking lot at Stone Hill Winery I saw smiling volunteers and several familiar faces and like-minded peeps.  My heart started to thump wildly! I get to ride my bike. Yay!  I had plenty of time to get changed and prepare for the ride.  My hubby took the day to go kayaking with friends which made me feel a bit out of sorts.  We usually travel together and meet up during the rides or after.  A few of my Seagalmates were in attendance, which was good since I forgot to put on deodorant. ( Thanks Coach)

I checked in, picked up my race number, maps, t-shirt, and WON a bottle of wine.  I picked red.  I was also handed a mason jar to put gravel in.  Cool idea! I wanted to be a social butterfly but I really needed to get my shit together and get my head right. This was going to be a long day with a huge effort.

 My bike had a brand spankin' new saddle and a re-fit at the HUB Bicycle Co making it ready to go.  I organized my fuel choices and bottles to make a quick transition between loops. I thought I was ready...

Thanks to The Hub Bicycle Co

Race time came and Jeff gave us some necessary instructions.  He also mentioned that the farmers would be out today cutting grass and mabe tilling and planting, we should give them a wave.  Oh crap, I forgot to take my allergy pill.  This could get interesting.

There were roughly 70 of us lined up to kick some gravel ass.  I hoped it wasn't going to be the gravel kicking my ass instead.  A truck led us out onto the road portion and we followed it until we were dumped onto the Katy.  The front group was a little faster than I was feeling so I fell off the back. Alone.  I kept pedaling and enjoyed the scenery.

Let's get this gravel party started

The course was marked well, the weather was decent, my bike felt "right" and my legs felt good.  I made a new friend, a fella named John.  He was on a single speed and informed me he had signed up this year to do the Dirty Kanza.  He was speaking my language. We were going to get along just fine.  I informed him that I have been there, done that, and was also going back for more this year. I answered his questions while we pedaled.  Time flew by as we chatted.   We both wanted to meet the cut-off to go out on Loop 3, which we heard was 2:30pm.  Totally doable!  That is if you don't get lost....

Dan Singer Photography

Somewhere about mile 25 we made a wrong turn. Many others did do to we weren't alone in our error.  Getting lost can suck the life right out of ya, if you let it.  I was not going to let it, stay positive and keep going, think bonus miles.  However, those 5 bonus miles cost me time, time I had not factored in. Fuck.

Dan Singer estimated me at 45mph here

John and I quickly refueled and headed out on Loop 2, this loop was super hard, lots more hills which meant some steep downhills.  I haven't ridden gravel even close to this since DK back in June 2012, I hoped for the best.  John and I got separated about 10 miles in and I was all alone.  I brought along my Ipod in case I needed it, good thing because I need it NOW.  My mind started to screw with me and I needed the negative voices to shut up.  I heard "there are so many people in front of you, you are so slow, why do you do this anyway"  and " why are you pedaling so slow, what is wrong with you" and "I think you are lost again".  I hate it when my mind starts to melt, it's rare but it does happen on occasion.  My music helped a bit, I still felt like I was pedaling in quicksand and didn't see anyone.  I started to get worried and checked my map.  Shit, I think I should have turned at the highway about 4 miles back.  I screamed at the top of my lungs. What the hell!!!  How could I be so stupid to not consult the map, wait a minute I did follow the map but my mileage was off by 5 or so miles and I couldn't wrap my head around my mistake.

Dan Singer takes awesome photos

I had no idea what time it was, I was sure I wouldn't make the cut off.  Now I was extremely pissed at myself and kinda scared.  Where the hell was I?  I started to head back the way I came. After a few miles  I saw bikers coming down the hill I was climbing.  John was with them. He had gotten a flat tire and wasn't prepared, he will NEVER do that again.  I was exasperated and wild eyed by now.  I had to inform these guys they were lost too. Turns out... I wasn't lost and roughly five miles from the finish. I should have kept pedaling. Grrrr. It was myself and five? guys now high tailing it to the finish.  Someone in the group mentioned the cut off was 3:30 not 2:30.  It was going to be close. Pedal, Pedal.

I pedaled as fast as I could to keep up with them.  I was the last in line when we reached town and kept an eye on traffic to keep us safe. I yelled 'CAR" like a pro. I even said something like " so you guys let the bitch hang on, I will be the first to go down if a driver gets squirrely".  As we approached the HILL into the winery I hear GO WENDY!! Damn, I was going to walk that hill.  Cory's loud mouth drew everyone's attention to the guys and me climbing up that sadomasochistic hill, I had to push through it.  I stood up and gave it everything I had when Cory yelled " Are you going to let those guys beat you". In that moment, I hated her and loved her.  A couple of them got me, a few didn't.

Two stickers

As we rolled in to the check point Jeff said "Wendy, are you going for another?"  WTF? I made it in time?  Yup, the cut-off was 3:30.  I had plenty of time to refuel and get out there.  Sasha was ready and would have gone. ( My alter ego is so awesome) The problem... Wendy is a MOM.  Wendy needed to get home to two kids and relieve my sitter, whom she would be using again in two weeks.  I needed to drive my self home about an hour and half away, ALONE. Sasha could have cared less. It was like having a good angel and the devil on my shoulders, fighting back and forth. Sasha fought hard but in the end... Wendy is responsible, I had to quit. The words "NO Jeff"  tasted awful but was the right thing to do.

That was rough

I cleaned up and headed home, head hung low.  I put on my Pabst cowboy hat and tried to cheer up.

  I DNF'd. I don't do that.  I always finish, it's not pretty buy I always finish.  I knew I made the right decision when I pulled up and my daughter and nephew were excited to see me and help me get my stuff out of the car.  I had made it in time to have dinner with them and tuck them in.

Sasha will be back for Cedar Cross!  She will have a driver and a sitter for the duration.... however long it takes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dirty Kanza- Seven Weeks And Counting

The Dk 200 will be here before you know it.  The race director sent out an email that said seven weeks, I threw up in my mouth and got excited at the same time.  Upon finishing this beast of a ride last year I pondered what took me so long to get to the finish line.  Riding a bike for 19 hours is not easy but neither is riding the same distance in 17 hours.  Yup, my goal is 17 hours, I am going for it! Please tell me several reasons why I can't do it.  It will fuel my fire.

I have been in the gym... beating things, lifting stuff, swinging kettlebells, and doing a lot of crazy stuff I used to think I could never do.  The gym has taught me that my gender and age don't mean shit!  If I show up and work hard I can really do anything I put my mind to.

I have been running a LOT!  I like to start my day with a run, helps me wake up when I hear my brain yelling " what the hell are you doing".  What sucks about running is that there is NO coasting to catch your breath and it hurts more when you stop than if you keep going. I choose to keep going.  Mentally my mind says things like... " running is stupid, go get your bike" and " running sucks beacuse it's not biking".  I have made peace with running and choose to enjoy it anyway. Plus, it makes me feel like a badass when I am done.

My training has not been perfect.  I purchased a professional plan customized for me and my life.  The first week it was crazy cold and snowy and I spent all of my bike time on my Kinetic trainer.  The second week my kiddos where on Spring Break, UGH.  More time on the trainer.  The third week I was able to get outside and put in some miles.  Once I started getting my momentum... LIFE started to get in the way.  Family obligations, weddings, and the like. started to pop up.  Being forced to take a few rest days caused some frustration, good thing I have a tire to beat on.  I need to find a new one, I have beated this one to near death.

I love it when people ask me what I am traing for.  First I say this....

Then I tell them the Dirty Kanza.  The look on their faces after I fill them in is truly priceless.  Not many people can comprehend why one would want to ride over 200 miles, in one day, in Kansa of all places, in June. Well, that is because they don't see what I see.  The BIG picture.  Kansas is a really beautiful place if you look around.  The sky is blue, the clouds are huge, the gravel is challenging, and the locals are groovy. The training and preparation are a journey in themselves.  You find out a lot about yourself on long solo training rides.   Add in that maybe I am a little crazy but in a good way too. And finally, if I can do this..... I can conquer anything that life brings my way.

I can only imagine how I will look at the end this year AFTER reaching my goal.

So, how's your training going?  What's your goal?

Happy Gravel,

**Anyone want to read about my Tour of Hermann?