Monday, July 30, 2012

A Blue Streak

I've started wearing this bangle, I actually got the idea from a girl who races for Trek she wears her mother's pearl necklace and I thought I could wear something while I ride. I tried out my necklace that says "Spike The Punch" but got a little nervous that it would slash my jugular if I got it caught on a tree branch (I know a little extreme). I put on my bangle that says "A Blue Streak" (which I think is their way of saying "A New Streak" or at least I'm pretending it is) about 4 weeks ago. My parents bought it for me the afternoon the case wrapped and I haven't really worn it since. If nothing else I figured it would remind me of how far I've come since that day. Little did I now that when I put it on 4 weeks ago I wouldn't be able to get it off. I figure I'll butter my wrist up after Leadville but not really worry about it or the awesome tan lines I get from it until then. 

Directions this great...who could get lost?!?
Last time I was at Leadville I completed the entire course. The last section I needed to do was from Twin Lakes Dam back to Pipeline Aid Station. I did that section (or at least I think I did) and then Powerline. I know for a fact I did Powerline, which I can only compare to "He Who Shall Not Be Named" in Harry Potter. Only because when you talk about it, it invokes fear in those who have seen it or heard the horror stories. Last time I was planning on riding it I saw it from my car and called it a day. It has three false summits and only one real line you can ride, which should be fun with 2,000 other people trying to ride the same line. It's around mile 25 on the way out which will be going down, I've heard about many cracked frames and fractured collar bones on that descent. And then mile 75 for the climb back up, which I've heard has captured many broken spirits. I did it the other day and felt really good the whole time. I actually felt really good the entire time I was up there riding, I really think it was the bonding I did with my bike- ha. I'm no longer seeing the bike as a means to an end but more as part of the journey (my philosophy professor would be proud, I hope!) I also had a few other aha inspired moments when I riding that have helped put me at ease:
1.) Regardless of the cut off time my family/friends will be at the end cheering me in. Although winning would be a great ending to a book.
2.) It took Mary Claire 3 years to become a state champion, do you know what we did the two years she lost? We went shopping. So either I'll be getting a nice new belt buckle (Leadville's prize) or a new pair of shoes. I'm not upset about either option.
3.) People have finished under 12 hours and people haven't.
4.) My journey didn't start when I signed up for the race, more like it finished.  Leadville isn't going to change anything I've accomplished thus far. 
It's like the Oregon Trail...Hopefully I don't die of Dysentery!!

I also think it helps that I am fully moved into my new place which doesn't come with air soft guns, throwing stars, or a samurai sword, and it has air conditioning so I tend to sleep a little better at night. I'm also planning a trip to California the beginning of September so it's nice having something to look forward to after the race. And now that I type that I realize I haven't mentioned the trip to my parents...good thing they read my blog!

This past weekend our shop partnered with Trek to host a Beginner Women's Mountain Bike Clinic. The girl from Trek drives around to different locations from Colorado to the Pacific Ocean putting on the clinics...and I want to know how I can get her job. Barb, Molly and Jessie all came to it. Barb and Molly had their sweet new bikes and Jessie is now contemplating which one to buy. It was pretty fun, even though I was working I managed to finally conquer a wheelie, which I now plan on showing off all the time. I guess it just took a girl explaining it rather than the guys telling me to "just" push down on the pedals. Barb mentioned that moms probably shouldn't watch me try to attempt it as it resulted in a few spills and with Leadville coming up I can't be too careful.
Pros by the end of the day!

Today (Tuesday) will be my last big ride before the race. I'll be headed up to Leadville and I'm thinking I'll do the Columbine climb again, (maybe even get another beer) or another little section. I'm not sure how I want to cap it off but I have a nice drive to figure it out. I can't believe it's so close. I'm not sure if I want to throw up from nervousness or pee my pants from excitement. I'll keep you posted on what comes first. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Regret Nothing

This is what I imagine each time too.
I've come to say this line a lot lately. With only about 3 weeks to go till Leadville there isn't much time to make big improvements so I have to go with what I've got at this point. I especially use it when I eat a cookie. It also encompasses the larger picture. I'm finally at a place where I regret nothing that has happened because all those little incidents and wrong turns have lead me exactly to this place. i.e. Had I actually stayed in Mexico (not by choice) I wouldn't have stopped by Molly's for a few days on the way back. I wouldn't have went on a Real Housewives of New Jersey bender, only to be prompted by Molly to maybe look for a job. Not wanting to disappoint I went to the nearest shop and applied. I got the job and well the rest up to Leadville is history. I regret nothing, the mistakes make us who we are. 

Highest point on their route!!

I did Hoosier Pass last week with some girls I met in Vegas. I left that part out in the Vegas blog, mainly because my blogs tend to run a little long. I met them out riding when I stopped to ask for directions (being a female I do that). They were on touring bikes and I asked them what they training for. They casually said, "to ride across the country" and then one mentioned this was her 7th time on a bike. The other girl had given up alcohol and decided she needed a physical challenge to fill that void, and thought this would be a good one. Being on your bike for 3 months will either help you not drink...or lead you to it (I'm not sure where I'm at, ha just kidding!). It just so happened that when they were passing through Breckenridge I had the day off. I went up there, stayed in a Hostel (I guess part of being an adult is not sleeping in your car) and then road up the pass with them at 5:30am. I had never been over that pass so didn't really know what to expect, I thought it would be like Cottonwood or Loveland pass, but it was actually pretty tame. They asked me if I wanted to keep riding to Fairplay to get breakfast but I had accidentally made an appointment to talk to a grad school adviser at DU that afternoon so had to head back when we got to the top (this is me trying to be responsible, and then I stopped at IKEA and locked my keys in the car, baby steps). One of the girls complimented me on my "biker booty" and said she hoped her butt looked like mine when they were done with the trip. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's more attributed to the 4 years of college volleyball than all the biking I do. Whatever helps keep her motivated...

He wasn't there
I also went on a date (when it was my off week so I bent more than broke the rules). I had met him at my birthday celebration, and I'm not exactly sure why me drinking tequila, throwing up, and then making out with him (sorry mom and dad) makes for potential girlfriend material but he asked me out.  Because I wasn't riding (from feeling a bit under the weather) I had time to go. So I did. It was a bit weird, mainly because I had lost my voice that day (I even offered to reschedule but I don't think he realized when I said, I can't really talk, I meant that literally). I realized I didn't really have time to try and develop a relationship with riding time. I figured if I really liked him or felt a connection I probably would have found time. I thought dating would be more exciting but now I think I'll have to start training for something else after Leadville.

Who wears short shorts?
I went up to Leadville again this week, I figured I would ride there and then drive down to our cabin near Cottonwood Pass and stay there and ride up the pass and then head home. I got to Leadville and stopped by the race shop to get directions to where I wanted to ride. I think they finally realized that if they were going to let more women do it they needed to provide adequate directions (or maybe they just got tired of me calling all the time) so this time there was a detailed sheet of how to drive to each checkpoint. Which was nice because then I didn't have to talk to anyone or pull out my big forest map. I drove up to Powerline and got out of the car when it started raining. I decided not to ride because I feel like I've been fighting something anytime I ride up there, I never seem to get into a good flow, and I never get done and think "Man, I just kicked ass." So when the rain started I decided to call it a day and head to the cabin, plus the 6 shots of espresso I had were not kicking in. I'm trying this new thing were I actually listen to my body rather than fight it. I went to the cabin and took a nice 3 hour nap before I went and grabbed some dinner and filled up on gas (incase I had to make a quick get-a-way in the middle of the night, without cell coverage you can never be too sure). Then I went back to bed. I rode Cottonwood Pass, which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, I mean it was 12 miles and took me 85 minutes but I tried to mimic a race-pace mentality and I felt pretty good the whole way. 
So True.
I also saw my first snake of the season today (one nice perk of riding at altitude, not many snakes) I was on a trail outside of Denver when it was slithering off to the side. Before, I had made a last minute decision to leave my heart rate monitor in the car, which was a good call because I can tell you I almost had a myocardial infarction and didn't need a HR monitor to tell me that. My dad always asks me why I'm afraid of snakes when I'm on a bike because I'm not on the ground and I'm a lot larger than it, but it's more that I'm afraid I'll run over it and it will get caught in my spokes and then thrown onto my back (I know it's a little extreme).  It was a good motivated to haul balls and just ride up that mountain. I tried to calm myself by saying that it was a good sign because last night I had moved a good portion of my stuff to my new rental down in Denver. Not that I'm apprehensive about it but it is a pretty big change, I'm going from 4 guys to 1 and trying to start classes and figure out the next step, and snakes are a sign of of healing, transformation, rebirth, and immortality. I'm not sure how DF would feel about me trying to put that spin on it, especially because in Abrahamic religions the serpent is a sign of sexual desire (but maybe that has something to do with taking a vow of celibacy until after the race). Or maybe the snake was just trying to get warm on the trail.  


Friday, July 6, 2012

Nobody Wakes Up When They Want to

Miley said it was worth the climb
The last 2 days I spent at Leadville last week went surprisingly well considering.... My second day up there I planned to do a long ride but cut it short when I was 11,200 feet up and lightning struck. As much fun as Wayne had when he got electrocuted I'm not exactly asking to join that club. (My mom said it's those critical thinking skills I developed at college that she's most proud of.) I got about 4 hours in and was able to ride a good portion of the trail. I still have about 15 miles of uncharted trail to wade through, but I've got time. The last morning I was there I just decided to focus on mile 48-50. I thought maybe I'd do a couple of hill repeats maybe do those 2 miles a few times. This is when God starts laughing at me. I didn't realize it would take me 40 minutes to go 2 miles. I think they put all the climbing in that section. The view is pretty great so definitely worth it. But I think it'll be faster if I run up it with my bike. It only took me 6 minutes to get down it, and that's including the 2 minutes I was lying on the ground after I knocked the wind out of myself. I don't know if you've ever gotten the wind knocked out of you at sea level, but at 12,000 feet it sucks and you're sucking a lot for air. The part of the trail I was going down was really lose and I got sucked into a rut and then thrown into a side wall which prompted my body to continue moving forward even though my bike had stopped (and I thought I'd never have a use for physics). Some how in the mix of tumbling over the handlebars I either managed to run into the handlebars or punch myself in the stomach, it's not really clear and I'm going to blame it on the lack of oxygen. I was able to recover, not gracefully, as knocking the wind out of yourself might be the most embarrassing thing one can encounter. Luckily it's pretty desolate at 12,000 feet. 

Birthday Bash!!
I share the same birthday as one of the guys at the shop so he planned a biking adventure up at Curt Gowdy for a few days. The day after I came back from Leadville I headed up which after having an ass kicking fiesta from Leadville, wasn't exactly super stoked to be spending more time with my bike. Since I was only there for a night I decided to sleep in my car with my bike instead of setting up a tent. The next day my butt definitely did not want to get back on the bike. But I'm glad I did. It was so much fun and just what I needed. There was one section where you take a sharp right and then climb up a nice rock face. Well I turned and went to start climbing but because of the grade didn't shift my weight far enough forward and lifted the bike up and instead of flipping over I jumped off only to have my shoes slide down the rock causing me to tumble over and have my bike land on top of me. Another great fall I took happened at about 3mph, my bike rammed into a lifted rock and I started going over the handlebars, I realized this and yelled, "Oh shit!" and bailed to one side while my bike tumbled the other way. One of the guys saw my bike and told me he thought I'd have to be taken out on a stretcher. Luckily I have a lot of practice falling. One of the guys had to get 7 stitches (don't worry mom, I walked that section) so I definitely came out ahead. I feel like I left that trip bonded with my bike. It was probably the 8 hours we spent in the back of my car, that will do it to anyone.

Best. Bike. Ever.
My birthday cruiser ride went well. I was drinking water by the second bar but then everybody was so impressed I made it to the 3rd bar they started buying me shots again. Little Boy Blue held up (no pun intended) surprisingly well. The seat stays were low enough that when I started to swerve they would hit the ground sending sparks and making a horrific banshie sounding noise. It was a good way to know I needed to be a little more upright. I also cut my leg on the pedal somehow but informed everyone that it was okay because I have more blood than people living at sea level and could afford to lose some. At every bar I kept asking for an 11 mm wrench to tighten the seat bolts but no one seemed to have on so by the end of the night my seat kept dropping down causing the seat stays to drag on the ground. Whenever someone said something I said, "Well ya, 145 pounds of muscle is pushing down on it, why would it stay up?" We did rectify the tandem for this ride but I refused to use it, instead one of the girls from the shop and her boyfriend had the honor. The pedals are a little out of sync and the next day we found out the front wheel wasn't properly tightened down, but it survived. I don't think they appreciated when I tried to pop the balloons off the back of their bike because it reminded me of mario kart. 

I also came across this article a few weeks ago that I have open on my phone at all times   now. A senior wrote it for a special edition in the Yale Daily News. It was only after she passed away in a car accident that the piece gained national attention. I'll let you read it for yourself but one paragraph has stuck with me:
"We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement."

I had to take this past week off from most of my training I think my body just threw up a white flag and I actually listened, but this article helped me not fret, because I am so young that if not this year, next year Leadville is still going to be there, kicking ass and taking names. It's really helped me to put things in perspective especially with the next step after Leadville, which stay tuned because I'm still not sure what that is. I keep thinking after Leadville is when everything will happen. My life is somewhat on pause until then. But that's just it this is my life and it's not stopping to wait for me. Nobody wakes up when they want to, but when they do they can't back to sleep, the show is too damn good.