Saturday, April 25, 2015

99.9, Wind and The Warbird


"You are  not getting any faster sitting there looking at me", he said.  "You should go" he reiterated.   That's how my husband was trying to get me out of the house to do a one hour spin class.  He had rotator cuff surgery on Monday and I wasn't sure if I should be leaving him yet, it didn't feel right.  Jim convinced me he would be fine and shooed me out the door.  On the short drive to class I thought maybe I should give up my spot for the DK.  I should be taking care of my husband, not riding my bike.  Jim needs me, right?

 Just ten days later the doc informs us that Jim's healing is going very well and to sit tight for another month until we start physical therapy. Oh JOY!  I am grateful that his pain is minimal and he is getting up and around more each day, we did a short hike 5 days post op.  Jim has been enjoying some great hikes, mushroom hunts, and is currently working from home.  Since he is doing so

On Sunday night I asked him if I could get in a long ride the following day, Monday.  I asked if he would be able to take care of himself and keep up on his meds while I was gone.  He convinced me that he would be fine and before he changed his mind I planned for a century. Riding 100 miles on a whim, why not?  I had to get this party started already.... It would be my first of the year.

Made my rice cakes too big, learning experience.

  While getting my gear/bike together I prepared some rice cakes to try as a fuel source. Jim checked  the weather and informed me that it was supposed to be high 40's to low 60's, not awful, just that difficult temp window for me to dress properly.  Is that temp with or without sun? LOL   Jim then belly laughed and told me that the wind was predicted to be 20mph gusting to 40mph, basically all day.  I went to bed thinking I could be a pansy and scale back the ride if it was too windy. I would need to remember to delete all my posts about it off FaceBook.

That's my "lets get down game face"

After putting my 3rd grader on the bus I loaded my bike, gear and made Jim breakfast.  I asked again if it was okay for me to be gone all day and he said yes, so I jetted.  Pulling into the Research Park parking lot I see one car, that's odd, it's usually full.  As I get my bike and gear ready I notice the wind.  Damn, the weatherman was right this time, it's windy, maybe it will stop.   I head west to Hermann, it's just under 49 miles.  I plan a quick stop at the gas station just a few blocks from the Katy to re-water, re- Butt'r, and refuel.  I didn't have a time finishing goal in mind, but had an idea of where I wanted to be. (Should have factored the wind)  My main focus was to stay on the bike and just get the miles done.  Little did I know, what kind of mental fortitude was going to be necessary to complete this.  I had no idea the actual effort that was going to be required, physical or mental.  My mind tried to screw me so many times.... It repeated awful things to try to get me to stop and give up.  Over and over I heard "just turn around", "go home and do anything but this", and "you suck, why are you still pedaling". It's a good thing I am stubborn and can let such things roll off my back.

My first hour ticked off relatively quickly.  I was able to maintain a 13.7 mph into the nasty headwind.  I felt like I could maintain that pace all day.  Then something happend, I stopped.  I didn't even have time to get all full of myself,  I was only able to maintain that speed for an hour.  As I reached Dutzow I stopped to take a photo and check in with Jim.  He gave me props and told me to get back out there.  I remember mentioning I may cut it short and just do laps of Busch Wildlife to make up the difference.  This is where my mind starting playing tricks with me.  By this point I had only seen two people.  My attention was drawn to watching the huge black birds/vultures circling me.  Was I going so slow that I looked like injured prey?  Why did they keep following me?  Would they attack if I stopped?  The mind throws a LOT of questions at me when I am alone. Can you imagine how loud my mind is?  Ummm, no, you can't.

Good spot to refuel

At several points during this ride I channeled my favorite Spinning instructor, Kelly.  She says stuff like "You feel good, you look good", "you are fast, you are pedaling smooth", and "you are strong, you can do this".  Normally I would love to hear these things, but all I could manage was yelling "SHUT UP KELLY" into the wind.  I did not feel good, I was pedaling like I was stuck in cement, and I felt like I had the strength of a wet over-cooked noodle.  Ugh!

I have to say that the Warbird handles the wind a lot better than my Kona.  I can't quite put it into words yet, but think of a hot knife a butter. The geometry of this bike is different so maybe that's it.  I also love the way the handlebars flare out.  Being in the drops is quite comfortable and gives me different hand positions, that seem to take the pressure off my shoulders also, if that makes sense. 

I came up with several alternatives to cut my ride short. My first idea was to ride to Marthasville, 25 miles, turn around and pick up the extra 50 miles riding the Hamburg and Busch Wildlife.  When I got to the  Marthasville trailhead my legs kept pedaling past it. Wait!  I thought I was stopping here?  My mind was screaming at me  "WHAT!?! YOU THINK THIS IS HARD, THIS IS BORING, YOUR LONELY, YOUR LEGS HURT...."  And then it was "Geez, if you can't handle this how are you going to fare at the Dirty Kanza" ?  So, I  pedaled onward.  

My mind was going to torture me, I should have turned around when I could.  Things went from bad to worse as I pedaled.  I saw only two people out walking this stretch, I was starting to really feel lonely when my husband texted me to ask me if I had turned around yet.  I was immediately pissed because I was still about two miles out.  Doesn't he know how hard I am working here????  Who the hell is he to think I am quicker than I am?  I dial his number immediately.

I called to make him listen to my heavy breathing, to make him understand how freaking hard this was.  He had no idea how  I was working my ass off.  I also tried to sound like I was having a good time.  He knows me well and saw right through my charade.   He knew I was having a rough day, he knew I was suffering.  I was alone, a little chilly, and just not wanting to pedal anymore.  My mind chuckled "you better have enough ass to get yourself back home".   

After reaching McKitrick I ride off the Katy to the BP for water and some fresh Butt'r.  Jim informed me that I should have a tailwind out of Hermann, which I did for about five miles.  I hate when he says "you are going to have a great flight home" because it never happens. The winds seem to turn on me, every time.  By the time I hit Trelor I had some serious wind in the face and gusting crosswinds. I was blown from one side of the trail to the other side, over and over again. I was tired and developing a bad attitude by this point.  Music always helps so I hit play.  First song was For Those About to Rock by AC/DC.  I immediately feel better and my spirit is lifted. My focus drifts from being alone, hurting and miserable to staying upright, drinking, and eating.  I was pleasantly surprised that the rice cakes were so awesome and sustained me.  Here is the recipe.  I will be adding a desert rice cake to my next ride.  I will be trying this recipe also. 

I used music for the last two hours, I hadn't seen anyone for several hours and needed to hear voices. The beat of the music helped me pedal faster and the time seem to pass quicker.   I couldn't believe how long this 100 miler was taking me, I figured I would have been home by now eating dinner. Damn, I add hungry to the list.  My mind takes this opportunity to let me know how slow I am, like I need a reminder.  I allow my mind to beat me up as I am too tired to fight it.  Yes, I am slower than most but I will get there, eventually I will cross the line.  My inner vice starts yelling at me "PICK UP THE PACE, PEDAL, PEDAL FASTER, PEDAL HARDER".  I look down at my Garmin and see I have 15 miles left.  YES!  Finally, I am almost done, well in about an hour.  

I was never so happy to see my 1998 Jeep Wrangler. I rode into the empty parking lot and felt broken, yet accomplished.  Even though I had many moments of self doubt I finished, I got it done.  I can only hope that this ride makes me stronger, mentally and physically.  I did learn a few critical bits of information that will be handy for the Dirty Kanza.  Plus, I got to ride the Warbird!  Damn, that bike is fun, even when it's not fun.

This beautiful hunk of FRESH salmon was waiting for me when I got home.  Than you Scott Nelson for the hook up.  I didn't even mind cooking it, it was absolutely delicious.  I am not ashamed to admit I ate like a savage right off the foil and not using a plate.  Hell, I'm not sure if a fork was involved.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ride Like A Rhinocerus

It was already Thursday.  Our week in Florida was ending a day early by our choice.  The Midwest was in major rainstorm mode and we didn't want to drive for hours in it.   My husband took my hand in his as we walked our last walk along the white sandy beaches.  The kids were far ahead and I wished we didn't have to leave yet.  I was ready to return to normal, home,  and get back to training but I felt unsatisfied somehow.   Don't get me wrong, I had a super time while in Florida but felt I hadn't found "that one shell",  you know a special really cool one. It was looking like it just wasn't meant to be.  We could see the kids at the car as we stepped onto the small boardwalk that lead to the parking lot.  I had my head down, feeling a little defeated,  when I saw it!!  I saw a small plastic animal figure sticking out of the sand and reached over to grab it.  My husband laughed and said "I see you have found your spirit animal".

What the heck is this........

 As I looked down in my hand I wondered what finding a small plastic rhino meant. Was the rhino my spirit animal?   Over the years I have found several stuffed or plastic animals during my rides.  I had never given it much thought until Jim mentioned it this time. The first animal I found was an elephant.  Dumbo the stuffed elephant was small and fit easily inside my jersey pocket so I scooped him up. I put him in the wash and he was good as new. He went on many rides and Adventure races until his replacement was found.  My first two years of pedaling were the hardest and I figured it was good to be an elephant... aren't they known for being smart and powerful? Maybe for being a little stubborn too?

 I know zero facts about rhino's so thank goodness for Google.   Zilch, nada.  I was surprised to find out that the rhino and I did have a few things in common, maybe he is my spirit animal after all??   The first thing I learned was that I do not want to ride with other rhinos.  A group of rhinos is called a crash, definitely don't want that, LOL  The next tidbit I saw was that they are herbivores, they eat only vegetation... similar to my 'mostly plants' no meat diet. Next,  rhinos have very thick skin, but it's sensitive.  Another similarity.   They tend to cover themselves in mud to avoid sunburn, been there, done that.   Rhinos are also considered speed machines, they run speeds of 30-40 mph.  Now this is where our similarities end.   I am by no means a speed demon but I can get up and go if necessary.  My sprinting is there.... Just don't expect me to hang on to it for long.  However, I guess a rhino wouldn't be able to hold that pace for 200 miles either.  Perhaps I just need to add some speed when I can, like on the flats.  With a 34/50T set up I expect to hit some new flat and downhill speeds.  Wahoooo!

Tomorrow, Sunday April 11th, I will ride in my first organized race since June of last year.  I am a little nervous but I am sure that will let go after I start pedaling.  The Tour Of Hermann is a favorite race of mine.  One year I will be able to make a weekend out of it.   I also have not completed the days entire ride, not ever. Something always happened to keep me from it.  The first year I didn't pedal fast enough and wouldn't have been home in time to relieve my sitter.  Tomorrow is a new day, and I plan to change my previous TOH attempts, I am ready... I think, to tackle the entire 100 plus.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful and I have a super, fantastic new ride.  I would love to feel the wind at my back at some point but beyond that I have no special requests.

Ride like a rhino

 I have no idea what my mileage per hour will be since I just bought a Garmin and haven't been able to track it. The first loop is just over 52 miles and the second is just over 53 miles.  Ideally, I would like to be done with the first loop around 12:30 but will take what I can get.  I have motivation!!!  My husband spent the weekend at an Ozark Trail event and will be joining me in Hermann and giving me a ride home.  Isn't that sweet?


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Well, That Fucking Sucks!

Last year it seemed that my body was plagued with issues right from the get go.  I started off January with some very painful tooth issues and went in to February full throttle with  15 kidney stones.  Antibiotics were a constant in my system those first three months, nauseous was my middle name. My body felt weak and my head was not in a good place.  Thankfully,  I was able to get myself together to have a descent April and May, only to fall apart in June.  Such is life.

The 2015 year has been off to a good start and I have not been to the hospital, dentist, or doctor yet. Yay!  It's been 4 months. While I have that going for me... I have a feeling that being a devoted Mom will get me this year and I am alright with that.  It seems my 9yr old daughter possesses gymnastic talent and I will miss Cedar Cross and she has a special run (Read, Right, and Run) scheduled for April 11th so I will miss the first day of Tour of Hermann Gravel.  I am not bitching, really I'm not in case it comes off that way.  I had race challenges last year also, attended a wedding and missed Cedar Cross. The good news is that a 2016 CC showing looks good, so far.

I have a lot of new goodness to bring to the table this year and am very stoked to get this party started and start representing.  My freaking wonderful husband of 16yrs bought me a '16 Salsa Warbird!!  New shoes! and a Garmin 305! I am truly starting out like a  spoiled brat and I like it.  New gear is awesome.  I also have a new team to rep this year... I am proud to wear the Extreme 'ladybug' Electrical kit, so get a good look at it if you are in Hermann on Sunday.  The jersey has some great sponsors on it, a blog with details and links is already in the works.

Weeeeellllll, enough about me.  Let's get to the 'meat' of this post.  Let's get to the, "well, that fucking sucks" part.  For the past several years I have watched my husband grimace in pain after trail build outings, a long bike ride, or just from reaching behind him.  I have heard him cry out and try and suck it up for so long it seems normal to me, and to him.  The photo below was taken at the  2014 Dirty Kanza 200.  He was on top of the world right?  Wrong.

Photo by Eric Benjamin The Adventure Monkey

Shortly after this photo was taken he bunny hopped something and tore his right bicep.  He immediately pulled the bike over and took this photo and posted to FaceBook.  

He wrote this: 
                                                                                               May 31, 2014 · 
Didn't have that knot on top to start the race. One too many bunny hops. Cool this my shoulder don't hurt any longer. #ttmexpeditions

He made it to mile 50 and called it a day.  He became part of my pit crew and helped me achieve my goal.  I am very grateful for that.  I am also very grateful that he thought of me and my DK race and scheduled his surgery so he could still be my pit crew.  Yup, I said surgery, keep reading.

Jim changed his shirt

Jim went through the next few months behaving as usual, trail building, fat bike riding, kayaking and the like, he ignored the pain.   All of this was well and good until late February.  The pain became something 'different', and it wouldn't go away.  The smallest, tiniest of movements would be quite painful and he was always sore.  It was difficult to watch.  Hell, he couldn't lift his arm over his head.  After a trip to the best surgeon in the Midwest it was decided that rotator cuff surgery needed to be scheduled.  Surgery is April 13th, just a few days away.  I gave him the entire week and weekend to basically do whatever he wanted since he will be down for a minute. I am sure he will get in one last hurrah, hopefully side by side with me at Hermann.

Speaking of 'being down for a minute'.... Jim is a very smart man.  I overheard him tell my brother that he bought me the Warbird to insure I feed him, LOL  He is having his right cuff repaired and he is right handed.  This gave me the giggles until he mentioned other things that he does with his right hand... I am going to let your imagination run with that one.  He is definitely going to have to learn a couple left handed things. *wink  *smirk

Having been injured myself I understand some of the bullshit he is going to feel.  The actual physical pain is one thing to deal with.  Then there's the pain in watching everyone else ride their bikes, go on adventures, and do all the stuff you want to do, that is the tough part.  It sucks to watch others have fun when you can't, it's just that simple.  This poor guy has to live in the same house with me and watch me train for the DK.  He will be in a chair and I will be out riding.  That is also a mind-fuck for me.  How am I supposed to be enjoying myself and focusing on my goal when I know he is in considerable pain and not able to join me???  (That is another blog in itself)

Watching from the sidelines can deliver a healthy dose of mental pain.  I ended up in the ER on my very first ride,  I was out of commission for 4 months.  I watched my hubby bike through June, July, August, September, and October. There was so many times I wanted to shove that 'shit-eating' grin down his throat. I hated feeling like a vegetable because I couldn't do what I wanted and it sucked.  I remember my very first night home from that week long stay in the hospital quite vividly.   He made me get up and go for a walk around the block.  I hated him at the time for suggesting it.  I was in a ridiculous amount of pain, I was exhausted,  and there was a chance I might frighten small children with all my scratches and bruises. I was a sight.  He even insisted I put on my own shoes.   After I had time to process what that asshole did I realized it was for my own good. I was only a 'little broken', actually I was only as broken as I chose to be.   "Be happy with what you CAN do and do it". Just because I couldn't ride a bike didn't mean I couldn't walk.  It was a very poor substitute but it was better than doing nothing.

I am having trouble picking out my nurses outfit.  White or black?

As of right now we are accepting good vibes and superior mojo .  Prayers for a quick recovery are also welcome.

If you see me in Hermann say hello.

Happy Graveling,