Sunday, May 31, 2009

US Pro XCT #3 - Birmingham, AL

The course was at Oak Mountain State Park which is well known for great singletrack and it did not disappoint! As you drove into the park there was a very green golf course to enjoy some swings on and there were places to rent paddle boats too. The course was near a lake where plenty of people were enjoying what was to be a great weekend with low humidity and nice temps. Picnicking was what the doctor ordered apparently for all of Birmingham on this hot weekend. Glistening in the heat on race day.

The Lake

The golf course

The course itself only had about 500 feet elevation gain per lap but it was a turny 500 feet! You weren't going more than 7-10 seconds in a straight line the entire time....that is unless you were on the pavement which the course had plenty of too. It was a good mix of pavement ascents and descents along with the wicked fun singletrack that would make anyone happy. Everything was super dry and there were plenty of roots and rocks to go around.

One of the more technical ascents

And there were fast parts too!

But the fast parts were faster than me. I came in 9th which is a step in the right direction but I still want more. For now I need to be happy with a Top 10 placing.

Here is the reason I race. Check out the endorphin high I have right after finishing....

And the Women's race:

Got the hole shot but not for long. Watch that red jersey of mine get swallowed up!

What a fantastic race weekend. I sure hope we come back here because I will be back in a flash!

Thanks again to my wonderful and extremely enthusiastic hosts, Ken and Linda!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Utah to AL - Prothetics and Trumpets

It has been a while since I have had to take my bike apart and load it up in a bike case. I think since cross season actually. And I will tell you what, putting ONE bike in the case seems like a cake walk compared to taking 2 apart, lugging 2 around and rebuilding 2 bikes! But I still love cross anyway!

But I forgot about the whole curiosity thing that I am kind of getting annoyed at now because so many people ask me what is in the box. I know they just wonder but it kind of gets old after doing this for 8 years. Plus who gives a rats??? I don't' ask them what is in their luggage but I don't care either I guess.

Gotta great seat partner on the way to St. Louis. The guy happened to be an Orthopedic surgeon so I drilled him about Chris's injury. Seems we are making the right choices although he was shocked when I told him that Chris was climbing the rock wall at the gym.

The doctor did have a secret though. He had ONE leg and was more than happy to show me his $102,000 prosthetic leg. He only had a very upper right thigh so it was quite the device he was showing off. He was able to click it behind the knee to enable it to swing at the knee joint in a huge circle. Pretty wild to have his right shoe in my face when I was sitting on the left side of him. And god, did I ever have a boatload of questions for him. Don't call me shy! Did you know that insurance companies consider that cosmetic and don't cover it? Wow, I didn't.

And the cool thing? He is doing a triathlon with his wife in July. He is doing the swim portion. And you think I am an athlete with a "go get em' attitude?" I don't think so. He takes the cake on that one and I wish him the best of luck.

The next flight onto Birmingham Geoff Kabush and I got to share a good moment that we both agreed we'd never have had happen on a flight before. The guy next to us whipped out his trumpet/bugel. I could help but wonder if he was going to play it or not and I kept seeing Geoff look over at the guy too wondering the same thing. And he did play it!!! But only with the flight attendants consent to play the Happy Birthday song. We still don't know who's birthday it was but I just pretended it was for me since mine was a few days ago.

Once into a very pleasant Birmingham on a quick flight I went to pick up my rental car and quickly discovered "southern hospitality". I had 3 guys taking my bags to the car, putting the seats down to accommodate the bike box, explaining every last detail of what I was signing, etc. Impressive.....remember this was a rental car company after all.

Once at host housing in the most beautiful area I have been in with my hosts Ken and Linda, whom I just met today, I unpacked and went for a ride. And I once again discovered more southern hospitality. The cars when going around me were practically going up and over the other side of the road! The pavement was precious too but with my knobbies I didn't quite get the full effect of the smoothness.

I even ran into another road cyclist who was more than happy to completely turn around and chat it up with me. When has that ever happened in Heber Valley to me!?

Lush green

Thick woods everywhere.

All in all, it was an easy travel day and I will be looking forward to pre-riding the course tomorrow.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Intermountain Cup #6 - Draper, UT

It has been a good long while since I have gotten up at 5 am for a race but that is what duty called for on this Memorial Day.

It was looking to be a nice day out there with sun and warm temps but the fact that the rain came in yesterday and overnight stirred things up a bit. The trails we were to race on are pristine but they were now muddy from all the recent weather. And sending 500 racers on muddy trails through there wasn't gonna fly so the race was going to be completely re-routed at the very last second.

When I got to the race, there was an hour delay on the 9am start. No biggie, I can waste an hours time like nobodys business. But by the time I had completely warmed up along with everyone else, we all found out that the race had been delayed even longer another 3 hours and the course was going to be very short with 30 minute laps.

Wow, what is one to do now given that scenario? Most people thought they were going to be home and showered by the time we were to start the race today! At this point too, most people were getting super hungry because we had all eaten our last meal at 6am in preps for a 9 am start. So depending on what needed to get done, some people went to the local coffee and bagel shop, some went to wash their bikes and most just hung out under the tents.

Here is Ty enjoying a mid morning race breakfast of a raspberry tart bar.

All these things other people did were probably way better than what I did. I don't think in all my years racing I have ever come across this scenario so it was uncharted waters. I chose to pass some of my time goofing around some.

But I learned what NOT to do and what NOT to do the week leading up to a race.... if you want to feel good during the race that is.

1. Don't hammer yourself with nothing but intervals with very few recovery days all week long.
2. Don't just drink water during a delay even if that is all you feel like drinking!
3. Don't ride the day before up hill in the sluggy mud while its raining.
4. Eat more than just a Hammer Bar while waiting in between races...that is 4 hours after all!
5. Try getting more than 6 hours sleep in the nights leading up to the race.
6. Don't spend 1 hour the night before the race cleaning "pottery mud" off every single part of your bike. Who glued that stuff on there anyway?

Needless to say that when the race did start, I suffered like a dog. I felt sooooo bad. By the time we started the race most were already done mentally which just added to the misery. But seriously my body was not happy with whatever choices I made today and the last week but I fought through every miserable pedal stroke for the win.

But the race wasn't without a catapult into the river as I was crossing it for the 4th time. My hands never came off the bars even as my gloves didn't get wet. I think as I was trying to maintain speed through the river I was bucked off my bike by a river rock lurking below. I definitely got wet and it actually felt good under the warm temps.

I also almost got my leg ripped off by a snake. I was on the wheel of another rider and all of the sudden it was him vs. the snake that was wanting to cross the singletrack. But that only alarmed the snake and as I came through a second later it lifted itself up about 8 inches right by my ankle. I thought oh great that is all I need right now! Plus I didn't want to hurt it! But somehow all 3 of us came away without incident.

After the race, since I didn't do well by my body I felt so sick (until about 9pm actually). But I wasn't the only one that felt sick out there. Gordy, Shannon and Jen's dog, was on bored with that one too. We all sat around it for a while too just laughing and not really caring it was there (only bike racers right!?) but Jen decided to clean it up. Check out the video.

At least I held mine in. Alabama is up next!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ankle Bone is Connected to the Knee Bone it is.

Wow.....where have I been?! Well it obviously wasn't the computer as you can tell but I am still home in Utah although I am chomping at the bit to leave again for racing.

So a bit of a recap...Chris had his check up just under 2 weeks ago and things were looking as good as they could be only 2 weeks out from surgery. The doctor was pleased with what he saw.

Yep, some swelling

Nice franken - stitch

And bruising

Chris was given this black boot to wear now that stretches out his Achilles and calf muscle so that it isn't permanently shortened. I guess if you don't do that you end up walking on the ball of your foot the rest of your life. That is no good! Thank heavens they know about these things!! So Chris is still on crutches until the end of June when he can start weight bearing 25%. That is also when ankle therapy will start.

Then onto my family situation......the next day after feeling like life was getting back on track after getting a good report from Chris's doctor, my mom went to the ER again. She was having extreme pain on her right side but they ended up letting her go saying it was undiagnosed pain.

I tell you what....the second I ever start feeling good or tell someone I am doing well, stuff like this happens to my poor mom that just doesn't need anymore happening to her. The phone call sadly didn't affect me much either because it's happening so often that I am becoming numb to it! How horrible is that? When my brother called to let me know what was happening with mom he could have just been telling me mom was going to the store by my reaction. But that doesn't mean I didn't think and worry about her all day!!! But she is out of the ER now and back in assisted living for the moment.

The next day was my turn at the doctors. Went to the Dermatologist for a weird red mark on my lip that appeared about 6 months ago. It would randomly flake and then not flake so I decided to be safe about it since I am in the sun training every day. And my choices he gave me??? Freeze it or wait until it declares itself as cancer. Hmmmmm....let me think about this....choose between my life...... or just dealing with what was going to look like Herpes simplex 14 after he froze it for a few weeks???? Yeah, not rocket science here, freeze the sucker.

I have been able to get in some Heber groups rides too.

Being home has been so good in so many ways. We were supposed to be gone all month but obviously with Chris's injury plans changed. And it has allowed us to enjoy Heber during the Spring which is a first, we have met neighbors that have lived next to us for 4 years that we never have spoken to, I have been able to go to Pilates, Yoga, relax at home, get stuff done, catch up with buddies and even get the patio furniture out before the first winter freeze! I feel so caught up with it all because normally I have time to get the deck furniture out sometime at the end of July! Home has been good, peaceful and relaxing. Oh and we would have gotten evacuated in Santa Barbara because our friends that we were staying with did! How random is life? Not really so at all.

With all this free time we even got some know....the best kind of pets. The ones that feed themselves, bathe themselves, make their own bed, are in charge of their own activities. Gotta love Robins. They are right next to our front door too. 3 babies and mom. We think mom was born here a few years ago and has come back with these little nuggets to raise.

I have even gotten Chris into Pilates with me too!! He is eager to build his upper body and burn calories as much as possible since he has gone from 100 mph to a halt. He has been hitting the gym, rock climbing (using one leg!!) and is joining us gals in the Pilates studio twice a week. It has been fun to introduce him to all my Pilates buddies that have been hearing about him for years now but never met him.

So don't you worry about Chris because he is just a busy little guy getting around the house and area like rock star. We had an amazing friend loan us an automatic car that he can use to get away from me when he wants even! Freedom!! Chris is getting a ton of work done on the computer too which is just awesome. He has been extremely busy with all kinds of things and is holding up super well really. I am amazed at how well he has been able to adapt to life on one leg.

Onto the Soldier Hollow race: before the local Soldier Hollow race my teammate Amanda Carey came into town to race it. I decided to not race which was sucky because it's only 10 minutes from my house but the way my body had been feeling made the decision a super easy one! My body came to a crashing halt when I got home from CA and I had to listen to everything it had to say because I have had so much stress on my shoulders for an entire winter. So I decided to listen to it one more week and do support instead for Amanda and Heather Holmes if she wanted since they were representing the team this weekend. I almost didn't make my post though as I ran into a mass of loose bulls and cows on the dirt roads I was taking on my bike to get to Soldier Hollow the day of the race and I had to unexpectedly turn around! That left me potentially late to pick up the feeds from those guys and I ended up having to time trial it out there to Soldier Hollow. That DID not feel good not warmed up at all but I made it just in the knick of time. It was fun to watch the race and catch up with everyone while cheering for my speedy teammates. Amanda won and Heather rocked a second place!!

Chris was able to make it out too. This was a funny picture that Theresa C took. The kid behind Chris had no idea what to make of Chris's walking sticks! He kept looking at Chris and following him around. Pretty funny.

It was great to see everyone again too!

Afterwards there was a Team Revolution BBQ. These kids brought a snake in that they had caught on their own somehow. It looked like a rattler but it wasn't. They had been hanging with the snake for most of the race too!

The next day Heather, myself, Ron Prue, The Chad, Carolyn Popovic and Sarah Kaufmann all went for a ride on the Flying Dog Trail in Park City. Carolyn and Sarah were just here quick for the weekend to race and were heading back to CA promptly after the ride. Life on the road! On the trail there were some wet spots that still existed but it was nothing that should keep you off it at this point. We BBQed it up at the Chads later that night and tried to get him to repeat his made up word "Stumpifide". It was originally used in a sentence by The Chad such as this....."Scientists were stumpifide as to where it came from". Then he looked at us weird and said, is that a word? Oh The Chad......Oh The Chad (shaking my head).

As for this week, it has been a normal one for me so far. I hate to say that actually because I feel like that jinxes me some. But I said it anyway. Pretty stupid that if life is without crazy phone calls hearing about my sick parents for 10 whole entire days that I think life is wonderful. It is all perspective I guess and I am happy that all seems to be well with them at the moment. I know mom is eating more at this point and actually has an appetite again which is a godsend. She also seems to be holding off the infection as well......

Next up is a race on a course this weekend that has plenty of this. Do you know how fun it is to race when you have this to look forward too? Can't wait.

But yeah, training normal, feeling normal, recovering normal, haven't had a big blow out cry session in almost 3 is good! Getting ready to head to Alabama at the end of next week for the next race with the help of my fantastic sponsors. I hadn't planed on doing it so I didn't have quite the tire selection I needed and as for setting the new tires up on my SunRingle rims....well let's just say that I am glad our AWESOME mechanic CMag lives in SLC.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hanging In There

These last two weeks with Chris fresh out of surgery have gone pretty darn well. Chris is getting along better than anyone had hoped. He is in a limited amount of pain and is getting around the house like a super star which involves a staircase too. It has definitely taken some adjustment on both our parts but such is life right? I do have to be careful not to leave things laying around the house that would impede his progression from one area of the house to the other....unless I want to be evil that is!

Chris has done everything he should according to the doctors orders. That included elevating his leg for an entire 4 days right out of surgery with trips off the couch only limited to extremely necessary trips. Those 4 days weren't hunky dory for either of us but we got through it. We have given him a little backpack too that he gets to carry around on his back so that he can transport things around the house. It is hard to transport stuff when you are holding on for dear life to crutches!

But for whatever reason, I have been absolutely exhausted lately and have been taking some serious down time to let my body catch up with my ever changing life. That doesn't mean I haven't been riding though!

Oh and I had a first today on my bike. There was this little cute white dog with a tee shirt on in the middle of the road and when he saw me he was the happiest dog ever. It was as though I were its owner getting home finally. Then after he ran up to me all cute like, he started running along side me. He was so happy and so cute. But to not get attacked and barked at by a dog and instead have a happy little one be so excited to see me was a true first!

It has been nice weather wise around here but it's weird because I have never been here during the spring because I am always gone racing. So to hear rain hitting the roof of the house I am in shock! I didn't know it rained that much here ever and had to ask Chris what that noise was!

Windy day in Heber. Deer Creek Reservoir looked like it had white caps in it!!

Good news with my mom too. She has SO far been able to fight off this last bout of the infection that keeps returning. Keep crossing your fingers on this one because if she can keep this infection at bay and not let it come back a 6th time she will get to go back on her rheumatoid arthritis treatments which will give her her life back. But despite that, my tough ole mom sounds better and is better. She is still a tiny little thing but she is eating and has an appetite again thank heavens.

Oh and I finally got the car unpacked from our CA/Santa Barbara trip just yesterday. It was filled to the brim with things stuffed under the seats and I had to unload it all myself since Chris couldn't help. So I picked at it over these last few weeks and finally took the last thing out of there yesterday if you can believe that.

On that note, it may have been a real good thing that we had to leave Santa Barbara (4 weeks early!) because Chris needed surgery. Those fires there sound terrible and I know that our buddies house where we were staying was SUPER close to the northern evacuation line. That would not have been pleasant time and we may have found ourselves evacuated and drivng to Heber anyway right now!
So the Sherwin's are coming along and getting along and I am going to leave this post at that.