Love et. al

There’s a reason I said I’d be happy alone, it wasn’t because I thought I’d be happy alone, it was because if I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It’s easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love, and then you don’t have it? What if you like it? And lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that pain? Losing love is like organ damage, its like dying, the only difference is death ends, this, it could go on forever.

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Tis the season for cuts and bruises

So I know I’ve been slacking on my blog but this winter was quiet and all I did was train. I don’t write training blogs. So on to the show.

I was able to get in an awesome winter ride with dustin, pearl,mandi, Lou and others at white clay which was a blast!

As a precursor I must say that ever since I broke my hand my confidence on technical terrain has been subpar.

My first race of the year was at the fair hill resource preserve in Maryland. The terrain was mostly smooth with some fun single track and two descent downhills followed by a creek crossing and a short but steep up hill.

To prep for the race chris took me to chimney rock to get u confidence up on logs and rocks. I went over the bars once and ended up with a few cuts and scrapes but it was a confidence builder to know I can fall and not end up in the hospital lol. I am glad I did that Bc it helped the day of the race tremendously.

I drove down with two awesome people, Dustin and Jamie (best gf around) and had to get there at the crack of dawn since Dustin was racing the first race, cat 1. I settled in and watched dustin’s race go off and hung out with Jamie, bill, Lisa, Lou, Dana, mandi and pearl for a bit. This would be my first category 2 race ever which means a longer distance, 15 miles to be exact. I took about an hour to warm up and I felt like crap. Luckily after spending the winter training I know now that I always feel like crAp for the first hour until I get warmed up. I met mandi and Dana at the start which was a nice grass start up a hill. Great.. Grass… After my cyclocross experience on a mtb I was not to thrilled but I had to deal.

I waited patiently at the start area as each class before us went off trying to convince myself this was all for fun lol. It seemed to help since I wasn’t so nervous at the start. The grass was not as tough as I expected even though i got tied up behind two girls who were having trouble pedaling on the grass. Oh boy. Once I got around them I took off and pedaled my ass off. I gained a few spots and was able to maintain my speed despite my hyperventilating. I threw down a pretty good first lap and felt damn great. I did get held up behind a few slower people including an older woman who unclipped one foot at every root and rock. Really? You’re a cat 2 rider you should be a bit more confident than that. I’m not claiming to be a great rider by any means but Riding like that is just dangerous. About half way through the first lap I lost one of my full bottles so I had 3/4 of a bottle of water to race 15 miles on. Oh boy!!

I came through the start/finish area while the cat 3 riders were lining up and started to get nervous. I did not want to have to deal with that onslaught of riders. I was low on water and starting to get tired. I blew up about 1/4 of the way through my second lap which was not good. My shoulders and arms were aching and my legs would cramp if they were in any other position other than pedaling and I still had the toughest climb coming. I weaved my away around trees, through water and up over logs and rocks feeling like I was beaten with a bat. I made it to the second climb and my legs were screaming. I felt like they were going to cramp and like all the muscles in them were tearing in half. About half way up the hill I yelled out due to the pain but kept forcing myself to go because I knew after that hill it was smooth sailing. I struggled through the rest of the course and crossed the finish line and I was not last! That was a huge accomplishment!

That was the hardest I have ever pushed myself and now I know that even when I think I’ve hit a wall I have a lot more left in me and I can push myself much further. I am happy with my results and the fact that not once during the race did I think about giving up. My mind has finally stopped battling me for now. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing I pushed myself to a whole new level and it paid off. One year ago at this time I was not even riding a mountain bike and now I have completed a category 2 race! That is huge!

I am Going to stick to category 3 for a bit with the h2h races due to the technical nature of them and to allow me to build my endurance and have fun! Hopefully by the time windbag
World cup comes around I will be ready for cat 2. Everyone else who raced bill, Dana, Dustin, Lou and mandi all did amazing, especially mandi who pwned the cat 2 on a single speed with a second place finish!!

I am improving a lot which I am so proud of and will keep moving forward. Next up waywayanda state park on may 1. Keep pedaling and being thug means never having to say your sorry :).

Time for a barn raising

One of the alternate titles for this blog was stop….Amish time…. Yea I am cheesy I know. The actual reason for this blog was the race I did this last weekend. Sussex County Cross!! The race takes place at the sussex county fair grounds complete with barns, bleachers and more! The was not my first cross race of course but it was my first mountain bike free race!! Just in the “nick” of time I was able to get my hands on a cross bike courtesy of the awesome Nick :). 

He scored this bike for me hella fast and built it also. He can be pretty slick even under pressure. I was able to ride this fantastically, obnoxiously colored bike for the first time on tuesday night. Unfortunately that was the last time I was able to ride it before my race. Since I wasn’t sure about my performance on this bike I brought both it and Rico Suave aka my handsomely pink latin lover or mountain bike.

The morning of the race was pretty rough getting started for many reasons including the chilly air outside. I scraped myself out of the house with orange juice and cheese in hand. Yes, I said cheese. I couldn’t really stomach much else that morning and I was running a bit behind schedule anyways. It was a nice hour long drive with my two roof top companions up to the fair grounds.

The day before, I realized I had absolutely no cold weather riding gear and luckily, with 30 minutes to spare, made it to the local bike shop to grab a jacket and biking tights. Boy was I thankful I did that. Not only was it around 35 degrees upon my arrival with 15 mph winds,  a few friendly snow flakes were also falling from the grey skies. I think I had every piece of riding clothing I owned on my body as well thermals and a winter jacket. Even with all of this I was barely keeping warm.

I arrived and as soon as I parked my car who do I see? A friendly face from High gear cyclery, Chris Esnes. We chatted a bit about my new bike and Chris further convinced me that despite my lack of riding time on the new bike I should just go for it. So I sucked it up, gave Rico the day off and hopped onto my new fluorescent friend. I didn’t get too far until I ran into more friendly, familiar faces. Rickey was there and so was Tara, two of the nicest and happiest people I know. Tara always has a huge smile on her face and Rickey is a really great guy. I had not seen these two since the highland park cross race. I said my hellos and Rickey and I made our way up to the registration table to get checked in. While up we were up there, I run into two more friends whom I was really excited to see, Patty and Robin!! These girls are some fellow mountain biking friends that I “convinced” into trying a cross race (cue evil laugh mu hahaha :)). We all chatted a bit more and made our way back to the cars. I grabbed the rest of my gear and ran to the bathroom to try and figure out what I was going to wear while I raced. Boy that warm bathroom was a savior. It was later used to warm our cold bodies after a pretty chilly race.

I got dressed and took my neon steed out for a warm up with Patty and Robin. We rode around the grounds and I tested out my tires on a few off camber spots to check out what my bike could handle. We managed to warm up both our muscles and our body temperatures, minus the hands and toes. I got a descent pre-ride on most of the course with Rickey before my race went off. It was looking to be a great course!

All of the girls met at the starting line to exchange a few quick words of support, advice, and smiles. Ryan Heerscrapple did some call ups and I was actually called up in the front line. Boy was I surprised to hear my name.

By the sound of the trombone, the A Women took off in a blur and we followed about 30 seconds behind. I sprinted off the line and, not only kept up, but was at the front of the pack! The first minute or so of the course was all up hill and I held on with ease! Man this new bike is SICK!!! Up and down this big hill 3 times, around the picnic tables, and over the up hill barriers we went. The course was great! It was fast and flowy with a few interruptions in the form of barriers and a run up with stairs. Last year the course went thru the animal barns but did not this year… booo. Around and around we went. Around the pond, over the barriers, up and down hills including some off camber sections. Of course, no cross course is complete with out a little MUD!!! or more accurately a creek.

Since my bike handling skills on my cross bike were basic, I decided to tackle this monster on foot for fear of eating the mud, had I stayed on my wheels. Running or riding it seemed to work out the same way so I kept the new bike clean. I felt strong for most of the race and hung with the front end of the pack. I began to tire out a little but not as much as usual. It was my best performance so far! I did get lapped but only on the last lap at the very end of the lap by only one person. My new bike was a success!! and I didn’t fall! Well almost once but almost only counts in hand grenades and horse shoes.

The valley is like so totally cool!

On November 7 I raced in the valley, hidden valley that is and it was a cross race to be exact. This race is apart of the NJ Cup race series and was actually the state championship race. Now I don’t have a  license so the fact that it was a championship race didn’t matter to me since I couldn’t qualify. Knowing that, I felt a bit calmer but still nervous just the same. During my last race I had a lot of trouble breathing, which made racing pretty difficult. This time I was going to pace myself and have fun.

When we got there it was freezing. Since the race is near a ski slope it tends to be windier and was higher in elevation which = cold and cold. I have yet to really get any good winter riding gear, so I had to look to Nick to provide me with a few essentials. We arrived a bit later than had I hoped but as I was rushing up to the registration table who do I see? PATTY!! I managed to convince her to try a cross race and boy I am glad I was able to persuade her. It was wonderful to see a familiar face. I picked up my number then ran to vanzilla to get dressed and start warming up.

As I was riding, I tried stay as warm as possible, although with the wind howling it was tough. Just in case you were unsure, spandex does not provide a lot of warmth and wind protection. After my warm up, I ran over to the course to take a look at the monster I was going to try to tame. It consisted of some tight turns, a nice whoop deedo, a few straight runs, gravel, an off-camber hill, sand pits, a run up and a barrier. This was going to be one of the more technical courses I had ridden to date and knew it would require a solid effort and good timing. I warmed up a bit more, since my body temperature had been swept away while the wind whipped at my skin and cooled me down, then went to line up at the start area.

The wonderful guys at team town cycle, whom always put on a good race, were gracious enough to limit our time standing around shivering and let us all start at once, which was fine with me. This time there was much less anticipation, there was no counting down which helps prevent the anxiety I tend to get during that time. I perform much better when I don’t have to wait around.

The whistle blew and off we went.

The start was on pavement and since I blew up on my last start I decided to take it down a notch this time. I settled down just behind everyone but still keeping up. I enjoy starting last and then catching up, I get to watch the carnage and then avoid it instead of being included in it. I caught up to the girl in front of me pretty quickly and was stuck there for about 30 seconds. She was just too slow in the corners. I quickly pedaled my butt off to catch up with the next girl, my friend Jen, and paced myself off of her for a bit to keep my heart rate down. I kept thinking to myself if can keep my heart rate down and I would be ok. Around the course we went, through the winding turns, down past the lake, over the gravel road, and up the stairs. This spot was tough for me, since I am short and jumping onto your bike when its higher than you are can be difficult. I got the hang of it eventually but it was a bit frustrating trying to figure it out. We continued down some more hills and onto the off camber section (by off camber I mean riding along the side of a hill). I kept reminding myself to keep pedaling and not use my brakes or else I would slide sideways down the hill. We proceeded around a few more turns and onto the sand pits aka volleyball courts. This the ONLY place I had the advantage being on a mountain bike. Usually when I hit the grass I feel like I am going backwards compared to the other racers, so being able to plow through the sand was a great feeling while everyone else struggled. At this point I passed Jen and never looked back. I kept pushing but regulating myself so I wouldn’t hyperventilate to badly. I kept creeping up on the riders in front of me but could never quite catch them. Regardless I was still ecstatic with my performance. I felt great and wasn’t last!! In fact, I passed TWO people. I know I will look back on this and laugh at myself but for right now that is a huge accomplishment. I finished strong with a nice sprint against a junior rider, which shows I still had something left.

All in all I was really happy with my ride, race, and result. I managed to tame the beast, or at least hang on while it was trying to buck me off its back.

Pain and suffering = Fun…I swear!!

Anyone who rides a bike and competes will see my title and smile just a bit knowing that its the truth. Why anyone would make themselves suffer that much on a saturday or sunday for fun would beyond most people’s comprehension but not someone who cycles.

The title is also relevant in the context of my last and most recent cyclocross race. The venue was great and so was the course. HPCX put on a wonderful race which was challenging, fast and fair. The climbing was more than I had done in my last cross race but a drop in the bucket compared to what I climb when I mountain bike. The one big difference is when you are suffering up a hill in the woods you can pace yourself, in cyclocross your supposed to feel like your head is going to explode all the way up that damn hill from riding so hard.

This race was particularly tough for me since I haven’t ridden this hard since September 10 and I only trained for the past 15 days prior to the event. I started out strong, which I was so proud of myself for, but the field very quickly pulled away and I had no chance in catching them. The only people I was passing were the ones standing still due to technical issues.

I blew up pretty quickly and not only did my heart feel like it would explode out of my head but I was hyperventilating so badly I was about to pass out or puke (which I almost did around minute 25 or so). After the start of the race, I didn’t really see anyone else until I got lapped at the end of the last lap. In retrospect, I performed better this race than the last.I was only lapped by the top 5 or 10 people as opposed to 30 something people and the lapping did not begin until about 3/4 of the way thru the last lap. So I guess I did better this time even though I felt crappier.

Every time I hit the grass sections I felt like I was going no where and anytime I began to catch my breath I would have to climb again and go right back into my red zone. So frustrating. I did beat one girl which is great! I was not DFL woo hoo!!

I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I improved and with only 15 days of real riding under my belt. The best thing I can take away from this race is that I did not fall (yay!!) and I learned my upper limits and am ready for next time. I will plan better and like my loving and awesome boyfriend said “it’s like a training ride you still gain from it and move forward.”

I had a blast seeing all of my cycling friends that I have not seen in a long time and the cheers from everyone in my race were so awesome; especially the cheering done by Ken and Ryan from afar :). I could hear those guys like they were right next to the course and it helped me pull out whatever energy I had to continue to power along. Thanks guys!! I think one of my favorite things about these races are the people and my friends I get to see.

So onto my next race this weekend in Vernon, NJ where I plan on doing some face murdering that is not my own lol. To all my non-biking friends and non-cross riding friends, you have to come out and watch!! It is so much fun and you can get some great photos while you meet some new faces and re-unite with some familiar ones as well. It might even be muddy this weekend!! Its like a spa day without spending any money!! 🙂 Not to mention you can put Doritos and dollar bills in the mud for the riders to grab and even eat haha. Well back onto the bike to continue hammering the training out.

Raystown with the Durty Girlz

So I have been off for a few weeks with my broken hand and managed to get my cast off before my trip to raystown, PA. Thank goodness. I was a little tentative on how I was going to feel since it was going to be alot of riding after not riding much in over a month.

I am so glad I went. The trails were fantastic! It was like a big roller coaster but with a bit more climbing than I anticipated. The trails were wide and flowy with great views of the lake. On the first day we did about 20 or so miles and ten more on the second day. My hand felt great but I felt so out of shape.

The best part of the trip was the people I enjoyed it with. Jess, Robin, Patty, Lauren and Stef were really great to ride with and I had a blast hanging out with them all weekend. I have to say the highlight of the trip was Robin’s attempt at a snot rocket. I have never laughed that hard in my Life.

It was a great time with great friends and the place we stayed was quaint and homely. I can’t wait to go back again. Hopefully that time I will be in better shape. Training with Ken should push me further and maybe even help me advance to Cat 2 racing next year!

Next up … Cyclocross on the best bike ever (built by an amazing boyfriend) on Halloween!!

Kriss “cross” will make you

So as I type this entry, it’s being typed with a broken hand. This broken hand also accompanied me to my first cyclocross race ever.

First, some quick background about how my hand was broken. I decided to do a quick ride with a friend of mine, Jess, at camelback out in PA. Camelback is Jess’s usual stomping grounds, so she was going to give me an awesome guided tour of the place. Of course the cycling gods had another plan for us. Our ride started off with the tire gods once again frowning upon Jess and cursing her with a flat rear tire. We fixed the tire for the time being and continued on down the trail. The trail rode nicely with intermittent roots and some rocks. Apparently rocks make my bike angry and I subsequently took a spill over the bars superman style, but luckily I had my hand to break my fall :/. Thus the broken hand….

I was angry, as the next day was a super awesome ,super huge womens group ride at Jungle Habitat, which I could not ride now for obvious reasons. grrrr. The most upsetting part was missing out on seeing some friends I haven’t seen in awhile and meeting some new friends.

So, I was now determined to get back on my bike (even though I was not supposed to ride). I registered for the first cross race of the season, Nittany Lion cross, prior to hurting myself and I wanted to do it. I rode and ran once the week before the race and rested the remainder.

Nick was racing as well, so we had to head to the race regardless of my injuries. I could not bear going to a race and not racing, but I knew in my head I might not have a choice. We arrived at the velodrome about an hour before my race in the trusty mini cooper. Nick helped get my bike together and I hopped on it for the first time in a week to see if I could even ride it and how my hand felt. I rode around a bit and I was able to get my hand on the handle bars but that was it. No shifting or braking was possible, but luckily this was a cross race and it was my left hand, so no big deal!  I was still nervous, not only because it was my first race but because I was unsure of how my hand would feel riding, carrying the bike, mounting and dismounting; if I would make it worse; and falling on the course and risking hurting it further. Lurking in the back of my mind was the fact that I had practiced cyclocross riding twice and only one of those times involved getting over barriers so I had basically no cross skillz….. I felt totally unprepared

I checked in, got dressed and rode down to the start line. I warmed up for maybe 10 minutes and then waited. I didn’t even pre-ride the course. I just kept telling myself that if at any time during the 40 minute race I wanted to bail, I could and it was acceptable to do so.

First, the line up, where I graciously accepted a place in the back of the pack on my trusty steed and out of everyone’s way. Everyone took off and I followed suit staying just behind the huge group to avoid crashing and also to get a feel for the course. Compared to mountain biking cyclocross seemed like a breeze. It wasn’t technical but damn was it tiring riding that fast for that long. The whole first lap I kept telling myself to take it easy and that I could always stop if I wanted to. At that point I relaxed and just let myself have fun. Around the course I went, through the baseball and soccer fields, over the basketball courts, weaving around tight turns and then pedaling as fast as I could. At the end of the first lap there were two barriers, oh boy here we go, I slowed down and dismounted (not the cross way since I was worried about my hand but no biggie) I picked up my beast, which wasnt as heavy as I remember, and started over the barriers. There was a good cheering section in that corner and they were totally floored that I was racing in a cast and made sure I knew that. The cheering began to pump me up and encouraged me to ride with a bit more gusto. I made it through one lap and knew I was committed. As I rode through the large field on my way into the small wooded section, I was greeted by a great surprise! It was nick on his bike warming up for his race and every time I went through that section of the course he rode the whole thing right next to me encouraging me and cheering me on. Man, do I have the sweetest and most thoughtful boyfriend or what? The rest of the race I zoned out and just rode. On the last go around over the barriers the girl in front of me fell on her face but was ok, luckily. I pedaled through the finish lines to cheers and cowbells. That was the best I have ever felt crossing a finish line.

I assumed I was DFL but hey I finished!! I checked the results and to my surprise I was 30th out of 59 in the womens group and 17th out of 30 in the cat 4 division. I couldn’t believe it!! I didn’t even know I passed that many people since I was in a zone but based on Nick’s report to me I passed plenty of girls.

I don’t feel like I was hardcore, like some people said, but I was so damn proud of myself that I accomplished that race. It’s amazing what great things come out of trying something new. It can open windows and doors that you didn’t know existed.

On the last turn before the finish line

My cast

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