Friday, June 25, 2010

Leg-Ripping or Bust

For some reason tonight, while I was struggling to stay upright on a training ride, I learned something about me and racing my bike:

If I can't race to rip someone's legs off, make them suffer, then I don't want to do it. I want to ride so hard that if someone is going to beat me, they're going to really have to work for it.

And right now, the only way I'm going to do that is by entering the wheelchair division for the 80-plus grandma race.

I did not feel it today at all, one day after the Greenbush race. Legs were tired, brain rubbery, felt light-headed.

And struggling up little hills, struggling to ride made me realize why I get frustrated by not being able to race the way I want to. There's no point in just going in circles with a bunch of other dudes dressed in our team kits.

Racing is about suffering and who has trained the hardest, who is willing to go deepest to pull out a win. Right now, I'm not even hanging on. I know I need to restart somewhere. But that is the essential issue.

So I'll keep training so that by Superweek maybe I'll be able to do some leg-ripping in the master 4/5s. And that will be good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Like a Glacier

I went up to Greenbush today to race. I downgraded to the 4s again so I could race the masters 4/5 event. After a speeding ticket in Fredonia, I arrived andgot ready. I felt pretty good and lined up in the second row with the mindset of racing, not just riding.

The Greenbush stage of ToAD is beautiful, and it was a sunny warm day to boot. Great day to be on the bike. Of the four laps I was supposed to do, I lasted 2.5, getting dropped up the big hill.

The one post-crash element that is interesting is that when I run out of gas, there's no pushing beyond. I'm done. It was brutal to ride to the parking lot! Even now, several hours after the race, my legs feel shattered. Progress is slow, but sure. I lasted 22 minutes in the 3s race last Saturday in Grafton and nearly an hour today in the 4/5 road race.

Yesterday, on my ride, I had some issues with water! Not mine, but the heavy rains have caused flooding everywhere, including my back yard. (The birds seem to love it, though, eating worms and taking baths!)
This road had a creek running over the top of it!

And this shirt is, of course, the reason I ride:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Apparently Recovery Takes Time

Even after a year of recovery, I'm not any where near back to where I was in terms of performance in bike racing. 

I know, I know. I need to give myself a break. And I am. Really. 

In my first real road race since the accident last March, I lasted six minutes! Granted it was a masters 35 cat. 1, 2, 3 race at the Tour of America's Dairyland today in Thiensville, WI. And granted in the second lap we were doing 32 miles an hour up a small incline. 

Clearly, I was way out of my element. I knew that going in, and I was hoping to last at least 20 minutes and then maybe the whole race. But I just don't have the power to ride that hard yet. 

It's okay and all. I understand that a compound fracture of my femur does not heal quickly. And the full recovery may never happen. 

I think that's what is bugging me tonight. Coach Crusty says I need to start the road racing from the beginning again. He said that most people don't come back from injuries like mine, especially to that level of bike racing. And he said it's amazing I've come as far as I've come this quickly.

I never accepted that my bike racing life may have changed in any way after the accident. I've always treated recovery as something that will take some time to get back to where I was and then keep making progress. 

Tonight, I'm realizing that I may never get back to where I was. That's sobering. I've been training myself hard, lifting and riding, working to get fit again. 

And while I'm making a lot of progress, I may never reach a high level. 

And although that may be the "reality," I'm still going to train and race as if it's not. I don't give a shit. I love to ride, I love to race, especially cyclocross.

I'll keep riding my bike to school, I'll keep working at the bike shop to help others find bikes, and, most importantly, I'll keep racing cross.

But my dreams of being a national level cross racer may not come true.

Yet the beauty of cross, though, is that it really doesn't matter. What matters is going out and riding your brains out, slog around in the mud, get heckled by your friends, do the best you possibly can. It doesn't matter what race I do, the elites or the 4s.

Cross is all about the fun and being competitive. It really doesn't matter the category I enter to be competitive.

I started this entry feeling a bit discouraged about the racing prospects.

And once again, considering cyclocross has made me realize why I ride my bicycle. I have a good friend who is facing some personal challenges who always tells me she chooses always to be happy.

And thinking of cyclocross makes me very happy indeed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quite a Trip

This weekend, I flew to Columbus, Nebraska to help my family move my grandma from Columbus to Eau Claire where she is living in an assisted living center.

It was sheeting rain when my sister Teena and I left the hotel in Columbus with the moving truck. When we pulled off the highway in Fremont, two women in a pick up truck raced up to the truck and told us the back door was open.

Oops. Serious oops.

So we walked to the back of the truck to see all the boxes in the back soaked from the rain. One box had broken up and books we found in grandma's attic were gone, presumably all over the highway.

And my duffel bag was missing.

We backtracked down Highway 30, saw the carnage of books scattered all over the highway, but no bag. Our parents were about 40 minutes behind us, so we called them to look for the bag, but they had no luck.

Teena had loaded some of mom and dad's stuff into the truck, and I told her to leave it open in case there was more to load. But when we left the hotel, it was sheeting rain, and neither of us checked the back to lock it. My fault. You'd think after 25 some moves in my life, I'd check something like that.

In the bag was clothing, shoes, a journal with some recent poems, and, most importantly, press clippings from my grandfather's glory days as a high school running back from the 30s. I also had a picture of grandpa's football team.

My car keys were also in the bag...

So Teena and I kept driving, but found Highway 30 closed due to flooding. After numerous false turns, we ended up detouring to Omaha. After an extra hour or more in Nebraska, I was never so happy to see Iowa!

With the open door, detours, we were going to be late for my bus to Milwaukee. Teena planned to drop me off there, I'd take the bus back to the airport to pick up my car.  So we burned a boatload of gas while I drove 80-85 in the rental truck through Iowa! I put the invisibility cloak on the truck and flew!

The great spirit was looking over us. I caught the Badger Bus back to Milwaukee, arrived at 9:30 pm, and took a taxi back to my house.

I'll ride over to the airport today to pick up my car. Thankfully, I had a spare key at home and left my side door open since the house key was in the bag.

Good to be back in Milwaukee!

We're Back!

Under advice from my esteemed laywer, Dan Goldberg, I pulled the blog last year. The kid who hit me didn't have insurance, and Dan was trying to work his magic with other insurance companies. In the meantime, he thought it was prudent to hold off on writing.

But the case is fully complete now. So we're back to comment on education, bike racing, and poetry. I'm working on creating a website for my poetry so heads up.

Thanks for coming back!