Wednesday, November 29, 2006


As I was sitting and eating my reheated turkey, candied yams, and brussel sprouts tonight, I realized that I never posted anything about my spectacular Thanksgiving!

Ward and I had been excited about hosting our families for Thanksgiving ever since we first walked through our new empty apartment together in August. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, due to the sentiment evoked on the day and naturally, the food. It would be wonderful to share this day together with both our families.

I was nervous about cooking for 12 people, although I've had a little bit of practice cooking for a crew at our Tuesday night "workout-pigout" training nights. This was a bit different, since cooking for friends is one thing, but pleasing two moms simultaneously is truly another. :)

We managed to fit everyone at the table with a borrowed folding table and all the chairs we could gather. IKEA afforded us the possibility of matching tableware and servingware for cheap, and my brother's boss gifted him a 23 lb turkey for the meal!

Ward did a great job stuffing and roasting his first turkey with delicious giblet gravy. I made candied yams, mashed root vegetables with buttermilk and chives, brussel sprouts with lemon-walnut dressing, green beans with toasted hazelnut-butter, gingered cranberry-raspberry relish, and whole wheat rolls. The moms brought homemade pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies, indian pudding, and brownies. Naturally, Dad brought many bottles of wine. Greg brought some beers and sang us some tunes at the end of the night. And a wonderful day was had by all! It may have been the best Thanksgiving ever!

Monday, November 27, 2006

that which is possible with clear lungs and a day off before a race

After a fun and successful weekend of local races in Plymouth and Lowell, Mass, I was looking forward to UCI competition again. So naturally, I got a nasty cold again. Maybe it was the same illness continued... I don't even know anymore. Phlem-filled fun from Tuesday through, well, even today. I was feeling a little better by the weekend, but should I have raced? Perhaps you would argue that I shouldn't have. But I'm so glad I did! With Gearworks Cyclery and my coach sponsoring the race, I really wanted to have a good showing. Plus, there was no mud and no tape in the course, so I had no excuses. :)
I didn't have the greatest start. Just didn't seem to have a hard enough jump right away. Probably chose the wrong start position, too, and got pinched. I ended up around 5th or 6th around the track and up the hill, then made sure I ramped up my chase on the flat section after I got over the horse jump. Now comes the amazing part: I don't know exactly where my energy came from, but I could always "go" during the race. Usually I experience a "lull" in the middle of the race, slowing up a lot in the third lap, but not this time. Ward was taking lap times, and I gained over 10 seconds on Lyne that lap. (Of course, she could afford to slow up.) I could still push the accelerator. (Wish I had had a better start!!) I think that despite my cold I was relatively rested since I didn't travel to North Carolina or the USGP the previous weekend. (Of course, hosting Thanksgiving was pretty tiring!) I had Friday off work, which allowed me to decompress after the week and the holiday. Have you ever had the experience of being so focused that only the present moment exists? Musicians call it "in the pocket" when you're smack in the groove. Maybe athletes refer to it as "in the zone." Whatever you call it, I was there. I felt very focused. It was me and the ground beneath my tires, ahead of me, smooth corners, the barrier, the gravel, the hill. Later in the race, when the course doubled back and Lyne would pass by, I found myself thinking, "She's ahead of me, but not by as much as I expected! What's she doing, knitting a sweater up there?" While I would certainly never wish for success through an opponent's misfortune, anything can happen in cross, and I found some dark region of my brain imagining how a flat tire might shrink that lead.... Can you ever be "comfortably in the lead" in cyclocross? A mechanical could always happen. A crash. Anything. You always ride on hard. Although I was "comfortably in the lead" at Plymouth, I visualized having to run half a lap to the finish with a mechanical... would I still come out up top? It kept me riding hard.
As I hit the pavement the last time, Lyne was finishing. 26 seconds later, a solid second place finish was quite a thrill. Now I know I can ride that hard, and I hope I can push myself there again.

These photos of the podium above and us below are from Dave M's site.
Check it out!

This photo by Paul Weiss on Cyclingnews is a bit disconcerting.... and how come Mo's smiling??

Ahh. What to do this weekend?? I WANT to race UCI in Reston. But a weekend trip to D.C. for a Sunday race is crazy when I have to be back at work at 7:30 am Monday and the sad reality is that the bald tires on my car probably won't make it that far........

Monday, November 13, 2006

Please Pray for Rain so I can Practice in the Mud!

(Damn it I have a lot of hair. When'd that happen? ) This pic's from some great race pics on there.

I felt better on Friday and decided to make the insane, long drive down to Harrisburg, PA for the Lower Allen Classic. Weather was stellar and the competition super fun. The race began with a "prologue" loop around the ball field, around a tree, down a chute to the loose gravel staging/start area, and up the road. I had a good start, first couple into the field. I came around Wallace hoping to be the first into the right-hand turn around the ball field, looked up and saw... tape across the course! This was rather unexpected, and in that confused, split-second decision making moment, I made the wrong one. I should have just plowed over it, but thinking about the whole pack barreling down on me, the prospect of potential carnage if I became ensnarled in tape frightened me into a fast dismount and jump. In that moment, I went from first to 12th with no momentum going into the soft grass section. Everyone passed me! Well, almost everyone. It took me 3/4 of a lap to regain 3rd or 4th place, and Mandy and I battled it out for awhile until she picked up the pace and shed me. I put it all out in the last lap, and almost caught her, but it was "too little, too late." Fun race, though.

Sunday it was MUDDY. I felt good warming up, but I think my warm-up laps might have been faster than I rode during the race. The first half of the course killed me. I rode the mucky grass section then the run around the trees then remounting and climbing the hill just killed me, especially on the first lap. Maybe I didn't warm up enough. Maybe I rode the course too many times before the race and sapped some of my energy. I don't know. But I died. And that compunded with the changing course conditions as it began to pour mid-race. It got slippery, and there were lots of slick off-cambre corners. I had no juice, then I made mistakes and it cost me my confidence. I felt like a fish out of water. I managed to hold off a charging and frighteningly strong Mega for 10th. Please pray for rain because I need practice in the mud!

It was great to see prices like this in NJ!! I think I put 40,000 miles on my car over the past year. Notice the 100K mark. I wonder how many hours I've spent sitting in my red rollerskate.... would be awfully depressing to know!!

So I'm still wheezing and coughing a little, but looks like I'm on the up and up. If only it's not to late to build for nats...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Breathing Chronicles

Today was my biggest effort yet towards getting well. I rested all day. Napped, read, knitted a little. I can't take being sick anymore! Too bad Saturday's race in PA is pre-reg only.... I have to decide on making the trip by noon tomorrow. I really want to race.

A pic I meant to share 2 weekends ago... I was sitting sadly in my papazan chair, knitting by the window in our sunroom, missing out on the excitement of racing Canton, when Mr. Squirrel appeared climbing on the screen. Kind of cool to be able to climb all over the side of houses and stuff.

Wow, I wish I had something better to write about.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Another doctor's visit. Finally a chest x-ray. The doc says the x-rays look fine. She listens to my chest. "Sounds clear," she says. (Ok, come listen at 3 am when I awake wheezing and coughing.) Apparently, I just need to drink fluids and get some rest. (There's a new idea.) And I certainly should not be doing any kind of aerobic exercise, she says. Training is a distant memory to me. And I feel no worse after racing this past weekend than I did before. Feeling crappy with a massive post-nasal drip and and coughing is just status quo now. Sorry I am so frustrated. I just want to feel healthy again. And I just want to ride my bike!!

See the pics from Colorado? Damn it looks beautiful there.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What a Weekend

I sure can't complain about this past weekend. (But I will complain about my health!) All logic pointed to rest; after two rounds of antibiotics, I still have a massive post-nasal drip, chest congestion which causes me to wheeze and cough all night, and a general fatigue. But I LOVE the Chainbiter and CycleSmart races, and I was feeling so pent-up I just couldn't resist.

So I arrived at Farmington without really having ridden since the race in Ludwig's corner, PA. I tried a workout 2 Wednesdays ago, but just felt like crap and got sicker afterwards. I was a little bit worried about racing, but I had similar situation going into Gloucester and decided just to go have some fun and try to hack the rest of the phlem out of my lungs. I had a good start. Amy and I hit the curb first, and she performed a pretty spectacular endo, allowing me to continue on out front. Mackenzie passed me going into the first sand section, which I completely expected. What I didn't expect was to see Amy on my wheel at the end of the first lap! What a come back! I just didn't have the extra juice to catch them; I almost caught on several times, especially up the hill, coming within just a few seconds, but I just couldn't make it. It was torture to see them right there, 5-11 seconds ahead for almost the entire race, but my legs felt totally flat and I just couldn't push that extra. I will not complain about my first Verge podium ever. :)

Sunday the legs were tired and the lungs were wheezy, but I was psyched to race! Mackenzie went out hard as always. I didn't want to be out in the wind too early so I stayed 4th wheel at the start, but moved up before the sand. I felt like I was closing on Mackenzie in the second lap and in my excitement went into the barriers a little hotter than I thought... I think my front wheel didn't clear the first barrier, whipping me off balance and sending me headplanting into the second barrier. I cracked my helmet and bashed my right shifter. Cyclocrossworld's race report said I "cartwheeled," and I appreciate the graceful assumption, but I can assure you it was nowhere near that nice. I managed to get up as fast as possible and assess the damage to the bike. By some luck, Ward had run over to this section of the course to cheer me on and saw the whole thing. He came running over thinking I had surely broken bones, so I could yell "PIT!!" to him when I saw my shifter. It was bent in making my rear brake and shifter almost completely inaccessible. I couldn't afford to try and bend it back stading there, I had just been passed and had fallen to 4th place with 5th coming up fast. He B-lined for the pit, grabbing Matt to help. I rode in the drops to the pit with my helmet flopping on my head. I wouldn't feel my neck and back aching until much later.... I grabbed my heavier-than-hell Voodoo and went after Amy and Betsy. After catching them, I rode past, knowing I would pit again to get my lighter Stevens bike back the next time through. I got passed again when I took the Stevens back, but when I hit the road section the next time, attacked as if it were a crit, wishing I could make it up to Mackenzie for the last lap. I rode clean and fast the rest of the race. I wish there was one more lap!! But I am very happy to have finished second place, and only 16 seconds back- not too far considering my crash and two bike exchanges. Thanks so much, Matt for helping out in the pit!! And best wishes to Mandy, who raced and still made top 10 with the FLU!!

So next weekend... I really want to do the mid-Atlantic races... but that PA race near Harrisburg is sooooo far....

So, check this out! What a lovely afternoon for a cyclocross race! I mean... a nap. I got a little nervous.... I couldn't believe this sight. These people didn't move for a LONG time. It was frightening - they looked dead. Guess cyclocross isn't as exciting to everyone!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sick and Tired of Being Sick

I can't really call this a race blog this week. It's baaack. Whatever exotic strain of avian flu I've contracted, it's back in full force. I did actually take a day off work to go to the doctor. I've been on antibiotics for 3 days and feel even worse now. I got some nasal spray, too, and that might be helping a little. Anyways, you don't want to read about all that. So let me share what I've been doing OFF the bike lately.

Ward and I made a yummy breakfast after soaking up the extra hour of sleep this morning. We made omlettes with mushrooms sauteed in white wine and tarragon, parmesan cheese, and dill. I also reheated the roasted new potatoes with butter, parsley, and dill from last night's dinner, and toasted some ancient grain peasant bread I got at Whole Foods.

Then we went for a walk around Horn Pond, which we live alongside. (I will spare you from the details of how doing this made me hack and cough and feel so weak I couldn't even walk the whole way around.) I love the spot where we live! There are trails through the woods and the hill alongside the pond, perfect for a spin on the cross bike. People are always out walking with their kids and dogs, and benches line the shore, calling out to share a quiet reflective moment.

Ward and I are busy planning our first Thanksgiving together. We hope to host our families here at our house. We love to cook, and we've been trying out some possible recipes this weekend to see if they will make the cut for the dinner roster. As I type this, Ward's making his crust for a special harvest pie (roasted butternut squash with sugared pecans on top!), and I'm trying out the mashed root vegetables with buttermilk and chives for tonight's meal. Last night I made the green beans with toasted hazelnut lemon-butter, but I think I will add bacon on the big day. I only wish we could afford a dining table and chairs! But with a trip to IKEA at least we'll escape the possibility of paper plates. :)

I'd better feel well for next weekend. I'm starting to feel incredibly pent up, so look out!!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!"

Here we are! "It's the most wonderful time of the year." Perhaps the melody of a festive tune from a old claymation holiday special lights up in your mind.... but NO! I'm not speaking of Christmas! It's cyclocross season, of course!

After battling with some ridiculous bronchial infection for several weeks and earning notariety as "influenza girl" (coined by RF in Maine, I was informed), I am finally feeling better. No longer can I be heard hacking phlem around the track.

The season recap to this point:

Raced Williston weekend sick. Made self sicker. Coughed and hacked and raced with a fever on Sunday. Perhaps not smart. As a racer, doesn't it seem like the hardest thing to do is NOT race?

Skipped the Northampton weekend. Spent 3 days knitting on the sofa with a fever and feeling like I'd contracted the bubonic plague. (Hence the new striped scarf you may see me don at the races.)

Gloucester!! I love this race! I hadn't ridden since the VT weekend, but I rode well and finished top 15 both days. despite my hacking, I felt good - just didn't have any endurance. Makes me think NOT training might make a good experiment... anyone else ever try that??

GLOUCESTAH and LOBSTAH! Two of my many favorite things. (and Ward... that makes three of my favorite things!!)
Do you like our bibs? =D

Let's see... after that was New Gloucester, Maine. (How many places in New England can be called Gloucester, anyway? The colonists weren't too creative.)
Luckily, this course wasn't as RIDICULOUSLY muddy as last year.
I didn't feel too hot. Earned the distinction of "influenza girl" by our esteemed race announcer when my hacking beckoned my arrival around the course. I didn't race up to my potential.

Finally, the cough began to dissipate in the next few days. Ward and I attended a family dinner at my brother's house on Friday night, but I still wanted to race Granogue. Oh, what an amazing spread of food and libation prepared by my bro's girlfriend's dad, who's a chef! It was after 10:30 by the time we finished the pumpkin, apple, AND pecan pies!!
Ward and I left central Mass for Delaware at 11:15 pm. We slept in the cab of his truck at a rest area in CT once our eyes were drooping beyond recovery. At 5:30 am, we awoke freezing and continued the drive. We hit the beautiful Granogue estate around 10:30 am. You know, searching for a roadside motel and bearing the ensuing cost just didn't seem worth the 5 hours we might spend asleep. We're unfortunately used to camping and sleeping roadside after the past summer's adventures.

So I didn't expect to have a great performance at Granogue. And a great performance I didn't have.
I felt like a fish out of water on my bike: timid and off-balance in my bike handling, and powerless everywhere except the road straight.

We salvaged the day having sushi with friends for dinner, and the ginger and sake recharged my soul! I had a good race Sunday, except for hitting the deck twice in the off-camber u-turn. That cost me a little time, but what held me back the most was that I didn't have a teriffic start. The first quarter of that course is very technical, and I needed to be riding top 5 through it, but I was further back than that. But I gave it what I could, felt good in terms of bike handling, and managed a top-10 result. I had fun racing. And that "spiral of death" was great! For a fleeting moment, it allowed you to feel you were catching the riders in front of you!

I have to say, THANKS for all the cheers!! I love hearing my name all around the course, from Maine to Delaware. I appreciate your support - it keeps me pushing hard through the pain. One day, I will find the other side.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

pedaling again

Okay, point taken. My blog is neglected, but not without reason. Lots of changes over the past couple few weeks! I also haven't had steady internet access recently since I moved. That inconvenience will be fixed this week. More on that stuff next post.

I have a few minutes to type something. I'm at the Sugarbush Lodge in VT, awaiting the start of the third day of the Green Mtn Stage Race, and it looks like today's ride is going to be epic. It's in the 50's, windy, and raining as hurricane remnants gust through these parts. We depart on our 65-mile journey through the mountains at 9:40 this morning and will finish at the summit of the Appalachian Gap some 3 hours later. It feels like spring classic weather, not end of summer.

Yesterday's circuit race was needlessly difficult for me, with two mysterious mechanical issues that forced me to dismount each time. I chased for much of each lap, then worked to set Anna
up for the sprint points after catching back on. Leading out is hard but fun! Riding for the team offers deeper reward and makes me push much harder than riding just for myself. My legs were cramping in the last lap, which is so rare for me, and I was truly "done" at the finish.

Day one, the time trial up the Mad River side of App Gap, was such a shock to my system. I hadn't trained or ridden hard since Superweek. I had forgotten how much this sport hurt! I have certainly lost a good amount of my horsepower at this point, but that's why I'm back to base training for cross now. I felt burn in my legs far worse than I remember in recent memory. I still had enough juice to sprint in the last 200 meters, though, so maybe I rode a little too conservatively. Doesn't matter, there's more to come.

Okay, I'm off to the start.... where's my winter base layer and rain jacket??

pedaling again

Okay, point taken. My blog is neglected, but not without reason. Lots of changes over the past couple few weeks! I also haven't had steady internet access recently since I moved. That inconvenience will be fixed this week. More on that stuff next post.

I have a few minutes to type something. I'm at the Sugarbush Lodge in VT, awaiting the start of the third day of the Green Mtn Stage Race, and it looks like today's ride is going to be epic. It's in the 50's, windy, and raining as hurricane remnants gust through these parts. We depart on our 65-mile journey through the mountains at 9:40 this morning and will finish at the summit of the Appalachian Gap some 3 hours later. It feels like spring classic weather, not end of summer.

Yesterday's circuit race was needlessly difficult for me, with two mysterious mechanical issues that forced me to dismount each time. I chased for much of each lap, then worked to set Anna
up for the sprint points after catching back on. Leading out is hard but fun! Riding for the team offers deeper reward and makes me push much harder than riding just for myself. My legs were cramping in the last lap, which is so rare for me, and I was truly "done" at the finish.

Day one, the time trial up the Mad River side of App Gap, was such a shock to my system. I hadn't trained or ridden hard since Superweek. I had forgotten how much this sport hurt! I have certainly lost a good amount of my horsepower at this point, but that's why I'm back to base training for cross now. I felt burn in my legs far worse than I remember in recent memory. I still had enough juice to sprint in the last 200 meters, though, so maybe I rode a little too conservatively. Doesn't matter, there's more to come.

Okay, I'm off to the start.... where's my winter base layer and rain jacket??

Saturday, July 29, 2006

reality sets in now that i've stopped pedaling for a moment

I can't believe this, but I've barely ridden my bike at all since July 16th. I decided I needed rest after Superweek, and then I got really sick Monday. I have been too sick to ride all week. Doesn't it seem you always get sick on rest week??
I think this has become my rest before starting training with cross season in mind. By the way, it's only 44 days until the first NE cross race, Northfield. :) But now I'm home, with lots of time to sell my things and contemplate my life. I've sold my fixed gear, old cross frame, and now my kayak is going today. I might sell a snowboard and some other bike(s), too. I need change, and some for my wallet, too.

The following is not traditional race blog-fare. I'm definitely frustrated right now, and maybe some of this is venting... or spinning my wheels complaining and not getting myself anywhere while feeling overwhelmed.

First, the good part: Ward is going to come live with me sometime this fall. We are very excited! But my lease is up end of August (not that he could move in here anyway), and we need a home! I had no idea the search would be so difficult. Places go so quickly, and we don't make enough mooolah to live comfortably around here, given the astronomical rent prices. Oh, and we have something like 9 bicycles between us and need parking for TWO vehicles?? I can't imagine living in a brick apartment house with a single coin-op washer/dryer in the basement. Can you see us dragging 3 or 4 muddy cross bikes up the stairs into a little studio or one-bedroom and throwing soggy kits in a washer shared by the whole building? Outdoor hose, please! Maybe some of you folks deal with this and can give me some advice. I want to find something in a house with basement storage, not an apartment complex. We'd be happy to live with others, especially if they were of the athletic/active/health conscious mold. We're also considering living with one car between us, but it depends a little on what work Ward can find when he moves up here and if we can find a place to live close enough to my job in Wakefield that I can commute reliably by bike.

There, I've spun my wheels enough, and probably wasted your time, too. If you know of anyone in the Boston area who might want two in-house riding (and skiing) buddies who love to cook and make a house feel like home, pass the word on to me. I think I'll put a "housing wanted" listing on Craigslist.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

here, there, and everywhere

From Wisconsin, Ward and I headed back to his place in Richmond. Sick of the Ohio-PA drive, we decided to take a little detour through my old college stomping grounds of Bloomington, IN, then take I-64 through Kentucky and WV for a more scenic ride. What fun it was to be back in Bloomington and show off where I went to school! It did make me sad, though. I spent 5 years studying there and not only do I miss it, but due to my devotion to cycling, I also haven't done anything significant to further my chosen career since I graduated. Bloomington has, unfortunately, succumbed to the amoeba-like sprawl that defines our American existence. The beautiful, rural,condo unit I rented for a few years used to overlook nothing but rolling fields. Now, tens of new buildings packed together like sardines blemish the landscape. Even more big retailers have staked their claim, as well, but luckily the campus, Kirkwood, and downtown are as beautiful, vibrant, and charming as ever. I got to eat burritos with Ward at one of my favorite places: the Laughing Planet!

We continued on to Richmond, trying to save money by camping road-side when our eyes couldn't stay open any longer. We arrived in Richmond exhausted and very sick of driving. I went along with the Nature's Path boys on a morning coffeeshop easy spin into the city. Now I'm here fighting a cold, and Ward's off racing in Altoona. I'm feeling a bit burnt out and need to take some rest before another assault on the rest of the season. I think I need to head back up to Boston and start apartment hunting since my lease is up the end of next month. It will be hard to race Green Mtn if I'm moving!! I'm getting really discouraged about how much housing costs in the Boston area... here in Richmond, the roads are great, there's ac (which I never cared for but now I'm getting used to!), and good company. Why am I heading back to Boston??
Oh, yeah.... New England cyclocross! (Oh, and yeah, gosh, I have a job there.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

where's wardo?

In the frozen food section of a natural foods store in Wauwatosa, WI

Let’s play Where’s WARDO?

nationals and superweek

There’s been no relaxation after the Fourth. Stopping back in Boston so I could take care of a few things at work before leaving for the rest of the month, we continued on to Seven Springs, PA, for the Nationals road race. Nationals was not intended to be an ‘A’ race for me, and good thing because I came into the race tired. It took almost 10 hours to drive to Seven Springs. We arrived after 8 pm, when I immediately got into my chamois, put some wheels on my bike and went to spin my legs out at sunset. Got to sleep around 10:30, then awoke at 5 am to prepare for the 7:30 am start! The course consisted of three laps of a brutal 27-mile course. This was NOT a race where you could just “sit in” if you weren’t feeling great. And it was fast uphill as well as down! There was one 60+mph descent just a couple miles from the start. There was really nothing flat; the terrain was either up or down. I cracked just before the end of the first lap and would have dropped out if a group of 7 hadn’t caught me. We rode the next two laps I think just because it was a nice day on nice roads. Many didn’t finish at all. Maybe next year I will approach this race differently; maybe I won’t view it as just a race to do on the way out to Superweek.

After Nationals, we got the cheapest motel room we could find, got a decent night’s sleep, then headed out on the road again toward Milwaukee. At this point, even 2 hours in a car felt like too much. I’m a little surprised that Ward and I never argued or seriously get on each others’ nerves through all of this driving and racing. We make a great team. Sick of driving, we stopped at a campground in northern Indiana when the sun set. Until light rain fell on us in the middle of the night and brought a cool breeze, the temperature hovered in the mid-eighties. Not the best of conditions for a winter tent.........

We woke and resumed the drive to Milwaukee, but added a short stop in Chicago's Lincoln Park for some lunch and to find wi-fi! It's been hard not having internet or even reliable cellular coverage!

I raced the four NRC crits at Superweek, Thursday through Sunday. It was HOT (as usual) and my ambition melted. I was rested physically, but not mentally, I think. One day I stood on the start line and saw my pulse at only 47 bpm! Rested, but certainly not nervous or pumped about the race, I guess. I have this problem where I feel I need to race every race instead of focusing on events I really want to do well at and coming into those with the necessary dirve, both mental and physical.

I think this picture is the finish of the men's race at Shorewood. I didn't take a lot of pictures this year.

Monday, July 17, 2006

catching up

It is exactly 2 months until the infamous Suckerbrook cyclocross race.
Just thought that was worth mentioning on this sweltering hot July day in Milwaukee.

I have so many entries to post! Where to begin?! Maybe Fitchburg? The entries will be brief!

This year’s Fitchburg was the most enjoyable yet! We put together a sort of dream team of composite riders with the same goal: to ride all for the team. Anna, Sarah, Kele, Hiroko, Kami, Tom, and I had a great time working together. I wish I could always have all these girls as my teammates!!

After a super fun Fitchburg, Ward and I went to share a relaxing visit with his parents way up in Northern NH. And I do mean Northern… brush up on your French because you can probably spit across the border. We had a great time lying poolside and relaxing with views of Mount Washington and its Presidental range surrounding us. On the Fourth we kept it simple, driving down to Gorham and eating ice cream and taking in the local fireworks from a secluded spot atop an old (abandoned) railroad trestle.

Ward finally had a chance to clear some more trees from his land in preparation for laying a foundation and building a house someday – hopefully in the not-too-distant future. A secluded hilltop with beautiful views of the Presidentials that’s just a few miles from town will make the home a skiing, hiking, and biking paradise one day.

Ok, I know there's much more I have to write, but we've got to head to the men's Holy Hill Road Race now to feed the Nature's Path boys. :) More soon!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Life on the Road

Drive. Sleep little. Race tired. Repeat.

I have so much to write...
So little time...
So many more miles to drive....

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I wish I could update my blog on the long drive home each Sunday night. Once the work/training week begins, I really have no energy for anything else. I had so many great ideas to write about here last weekend, and now none come to mind! I'm writing this now to get it out before I leave for West Chester in a few minutes - twilight crit tonight. I'm going to post some pictures, so there's something to look at!

I was nervous and excited for the Liberty Classic. I've been riding well, but this was to be the biggest race I've ever been in. Biggest in terms of field size, in terms of competition, and in terms of "pomp and circumstance," of you will.

The opening miles were just plain scary - nerves, crowd yelling, cones to dodge, curbs, and medians. Oh, and it was very windy, too. I tried to stay out of trouble, but I guess sometimes it's just a matter of luck. Then it happened. I don't know why or how, the the two girls in front of me went down. I must not have been right on their wheels because I was able to lock it up, skid, and land on my foot. But there was no way around. I was about to breathe a sigh of relief! Yes! I made it - and began to make my way through/around the fallen riders, but then smash! I was hit hard from behind. Trying to ride forward was now useless, my rear Zipp wheel was crunched and the hub was flopping around with no spoke tension - only the tubbie was holding it all together.

I got a wheel change, but it wasn't centered in the drop the first time, so it took twice. Only a couple short miles remained until the first climb up Manayunk. I chased. Hard. Didn't catch a full group until just before Lemon Hill. Nobody wanted to work. I put my head in the wind and pushed, hoping not to get pulled. I just wanted to finish the race.

It was totally surreal riding your disappointed heart out through the start/finish straight with an enormous screen showing live footage from the front of the race as you roll beneath.

Our group got pulled after 2 laps.

I have so much more to say, but I have to get on the road now!! I'll have to add to this later. School's out Friday, so hopefully I'll have more time to update regularly then!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


As hectic as my life feels right now, teaching full-time, training, and travelling to races every weekend to race with some of the top women in the country, I wouldn't trade cycling and all that goes with it for the world. I had a great time racing Captech/CSC/PA Triple Crown #1 this weekend, and got to share it all with the one I love. I met some great people down in Richmond. The Nature's Path guys have lots of friends down there in their hometown, and I shared in supporting their team and heard so many of them shout for me.

I was amped for Captech. The course is sick. Not a true crit course, really, the hill is much too long. Turn a corner and go up. Turn another corner and go up for a block. Turn another corner, and keep going up! When you finally hit the screaming descent, it's bumpy and has four 90-degree corners leading you back to the straightaway. I thought I would be afraid of the course, but I totally loved it.

Big screen tv displayed real-time action shots from on-course motorcycles by the rewiewing stand where Bob Roll and another announcer called the shots. They even played the National Anthem while we were staged, which I've only experienced one other time in women's racing, giving the butterflies in my stomach extra flight time.

I had some bad luck in the race due to my rear Mavic hub. It was apparently so gummed up from all the crappy weather NE racing, that when I hit the descent on the second lap, it continued spinning and consequently threw my chain off the big ring, catching the chain in the front derailleur. I couldn't get it to catch by shifting (probably in part because we filed the ramps off my big ring weeks ago to fix another massive shifting issue I experienced with my new chainrings), so I coasted to the Mavic tent. In that moment, I was totally bewildered at how my chain caught in the front derailleur while I was in the big ring since I didn't even touch the front shifter!! Mavic took an eternity to get my chain back on and then told me I had to chase. No free lap for that. Not a good place to get dropped - the fast descent! I watched them fly way then put my head in the wind and went after them. The pace was still so high in the first few laps that I knew I had virtually no chance of catching back on. But apparently I at least gained on them for a couple of laps, because I couldn't believe it when I heard Bob Roll say my name and something about my chase. I felt so good that night. I was truly bummed when I finally got pulled. Watching the rest of the race was torture; I wanted to be out there so badly. Next year.

I had better luck at CSC and in Lancaster. No great finishes, but respectable races. I know I can race with the best now, I just have to make smarter decisions and enjoy a little luck. I'm still trying to get over the "Holy crap, I'm on Tina Pic's wheel!!!" factor. (Or any of the big girls!!) The even scarier part was a moment when I realized "Holy crap!!! She's on MY wheel!!!! Damn I hope I don't screw up this corner!!" I need to get more comfortable before I begin to feel I've earned a place in the lead group. As the unknown underdog, I know they think I don't belong there.

We stayed in this beautiful location in Lancaster on Saturday night. Heavenly. I've met so many great people racing these past 2 weekends. I can't wait for my next adventure this weekend.

I still hope to write a short Bike Jam recap from two weekends ago, but I'm a bit too tired to write more now...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Inches from a Double

Ok... so I've neglected updating my blog. Life has felt like a whirlwind lately. I'll start with what at this point I suppose qualifies as old news.

Sterling was definitely one of those days when I had hard time deciding to race. The weather in New England has never been so predictable: rain. More rain. There was so much rain on the highway on the drive out to Sterling that morning, that I had to wonder whether I'd actually hydroplane on my bike. I figured the conditions were at least prepration for cyclocross season if nothing else, and since I love cross so much, I may as well tough it out. Besides the weather, I woke up with a sore throat feeling sick. Naturally, I decided that racing in the cold rain is perfect for sickness. I just had to do what I love to do.

My biggest fan (my dad) came to watch me race despite the poor conditions for spectating. And I'm so glad he did. I felt really strong and was very happy to get in a break with Kam, and we rode pretty hard. Since my dad stood out in the rain for 6 laps cheering me on, I was thrilled to be able to win. He had never seen me win a race, so hearing his voice as I charged to the line meant so much to me. Thanks, Dad, for putting up with your daughter and her crazy infatuation with cycling.

The original plan was to continue straight from Sterling to Bear Mtn. for Sunday's race. I still felt sick, my knees were aching, and the rainy4+ hour drive sounded torturous. After much deliberation on my part - let's just say I'm not always the best at making decisions - Ward is a saint for putting up with me - we decided to head back home, set the alarm for 3:50 am, then make the call. I woke at 3:50 feeling better than the morning before, and that was encourging. I wanted to race, like Bear Mtn, and knew I would regret it if we didn't go. Ward packed the car in minutes and we were off before the sun by 4:30 am.

I didn't feel so great during the race. The cold rain from the day before took more out of my legs than I realized. On the second of the 4 laps, my legs felt crappy and I was climbing mid-pack when I saw 2 Advil girls make a move off the front. I reacted fast and caught them swiftly. I turned back and was surprised to see that 4 of us had a growing gap on the field. I stifled a chuckle in response to a bossy comment meant to shame us into working and looked back to see where the field was and whether it was worth my effort to try to make this break work. I decided to do it, charged, then they followed suit. We pacelined and eventully grew about 8 minutes on the main field, I think. There was a chase group less than 4 minutes back by the finish. My legs weren't great, so it felt like a long 56 miles. I have played the finish over and over in my head maybe a thousand times since! I was patient. I didn't follow the early attack around 700 meters. One more gear up on that downhill finish and I know I would have had it. The finish tape showed how close it was. I was just inches behind on the line.

Monday, May 08, 2006

je ne sais quoi

Aah, Jiminy. What feels different about Jiminy compared to other races? It has that je ne sais quoi of epic potential. Although I suppose our 60km can hardly qualify as epic. So after I jumped too early and cracked on the climb, the pack caught me and subsequently spit me out like stale chewing gum. I watched everyone duke it out for the top 6 places, all the while thinking, "Damnit!! There it goes: another year and no mug!!" Yeah, I made a big mistake. I started the race with a growling stomach and then didn't eat anything and barely drank anything during the race. (Partly because I didn't want to take my hands off the bars for fear I'd die in a very squirrely open field.) I had felt good, but I really think I just simply ran out of juice. I just suddenly couldn't go anymore. By the time I got back to my car I was shaking and feeling a bit dizzy. I did finish - I'm just not listed in the results, so I don't even have to tell you where. ;-) Oh, if I could do it again! Well, I guess I can... next year.

I think my legs were still recovering on Sunday from Saturday's fuel depletion because they felt tired and heavy warming up. I opened up once the racing began, though, and the Wheelworks women put me to the test with constant attacks. Oh! And I LOVED THIS COURSE!!!! The Williams course was sooooo much fun!! I think I must have been smiling on my bike through the pain. I managed to get off the front with Amy, which was sure to succeed with Kami and the rest of the Verizon team keeping things contained behind us. While Amy and I slowed our tempo over the last 5 laps, the pack sped up with multiple riders trying to break. This meant that as we crested the hill with only one to go, the pack was visible charging up behind us! With Wheelworks riders on front of the charge, I knew Amy would be the cat not the mouse on this lap. I felt we really could be caught, decided my best choice was to go unexpectedly early. I scurried at the tennis courts and never looked back. It was a long uphill sprint, and I was lucky to hit the line first. What a fun race!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stars Align

I guess the stars aligned. And little luck and some proper execution also came together to get me a win at the Palmer road race on Sunday. I managed to remain patient most of the race and then put myself on the Advil-Chapstick team's lead out train at the finish. Luckily, I came around all of them!

Saturday at Sturbridge I felt great but botched the finish. I would comment that the ambulance on the course and police motioning for us to slow down at 1K to go didn't help the situation, but that would be an excuse that doesn't cut it. I wasn't patient, and didn't choose the right wheel. Got out front too early, then boxed in when attacks went up the sides. I ended up at the back in a blink, then popped out into the wind on the side and drag sprinted myself to an insignificant 9th place. But I felt strong and capable of winning, and I'm happy with that.

I am so encouraged by the level of women's racing in New England this spring. Ok, I admit that this was not the case after my experience at Turtlepond... I was very frustrated by the "chase everything and sit up and ride slow" mentality of the pack that day. But this weekend alleviated my fears of a slow season. The races were active and relatively fast. A couple of teams such as Advil-Chapstick and Wheelworks and several strong individual riders kept things lively, and I had tons of fun. I look forward to Jiminy and Williams this weekend!

Somehow, between the races this weekend, I found time to see an amazing performance at the Wang Theatre Saturday night. G-Man took me to see Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. Absolutely amazing! I was moved almost to tears several times, goosebumps most of the show. An unbelievable union of athleticism and artistry. Go see them someday!!!! I know next to nothing about dance and fell in love with it. The music was awesome, too, all jazz and African-American spirituals.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dreary, Dismal Boston

I came back here for this??

For the first time in what feels like forever, I didn't even get on the bike today. And I threw the usual diet out the window... Annie's mac n' cheese and BROWNIES for dinner!
I love the Nature's Path organic brownie mix. I made it with 2 eggs and soy milk, then added chopped walnuts, and organic dark chocolate chips. It will take all that self-control I don't have to keep me from eating them all!
Damn all that did sound like an advertisement... but you gotta support the sponsors!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Vacation's Over

What a week! I had no internet for most of the week in Virginia, so I couldn't share news of the awesome riding. While out in the Blue Ridge, we hooked up with Cowboy's friends from a bike club from Littleton, NH. A big shout out to all of them! I enjoyed everyone's company. Thanks for feeding us and giving us a place to crash!

We chocked up another epic ride, climbing 8,000 feet in just shy of 100 miles. Beautiful weather, sunny, 70s. The dirt road up from Irish Creek Rd was great fun. I am really going to miss that climbing... I've discovered that I actually really enjoy hills/mountains on my bike without the stress of racing up them. I wish I could ride out there once a week!

Friday night it was back to dreary, cold Boston to prepare for my first jump into the NE race scene. I didn't get what I wanted this weekend, either day. After swearing and proclaiming that I was quitting and taking up golf instead, my heart slowed down and I looked back and decided things weren't really that bad. (Besides, I already know I'm a miserable golfer - my first job eons ago was being a caddy.) I made a poor decision in the final kilometer of today's race, but que sera sera. I surprised myself at how good I felt today, and I hope it's a sign of good things to come. I'm looking forward to trying again next weekend. I'm so happy that racing has begun. One of the only things that gets me through my weekdays at work is knowing it's only a few more days until I can race again.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Blue Ridge

Ah! Vacation! I'm having a great time down here in Virginia. Ward and I went to the Blue Ridge Mtns yesterday for an epic ride. 100 miles and around 7,000 feet of climbing. We tackled Horseshoe Mountain on our way out from Rockfish Gap, then took on Montebello, then finally Vesuvius before heading back on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which had lots of climbing as well! It felt epic. There was a 7-mile dirt road descent and Montebello took over a half-hour to climb! When we took the right turn to start the ascent of Vesuvius, I knew we were in for it when I could smell burning brakes lingering in the air from descending vehicles.

When we got ready to ride from Rockfish Gap, it started pouring rain, and it was pretty cold. We had booties on, arm warmers, vest/jackets, leg warmers, and gloves. After about 20 minutes, the sun came out, and we swealtered! What a sight we must have been! Clothes and food stuffed in pockets and under our jerseys! Ward looked like an overweight beer drinker. ;-) (Has he spent too much time around you, Matt? ;-) We overheated and had to stop for tons of extra fluid, but it was still an amazing ride. I enjoyed the climbing so much. I wish I could ride in mountains like this all the time. Each climb has its own personality. Montebello had inconsistent rhythm to it - little steep ups and then it would level slightly then shoot back up. Very tiring. Vesuvius was just steady and brutal. The Blue Ridge Parkway had sections that led steady and straight up, a mirage of endless road.

Another 100-miles tomorrow and beautiful sunny weather in the forecast!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


What a nice day! I paused on my ride home from work to soak up a few sun rays and watch all the sailboats on Mystic Lake. Later on, I got a call from a friend/teammate in the neighborhood who wanted company on an easy spin. We headed up the bike path (ok, multi-use path) and ran into some more good friends. What a nice feeling. The four of us rode together awhile, just spinning and talking while sharing some bike love. All together I saw 7 people I knew well today on an hour long easy spin. I love it. I feel so at home in this community.

That said, I'm also looking forward to getting away for the week. I leave tomorrow for Richmond, and will be riding in the Blue Ridge Mtns with my Cowboy. I can't wait for the warmer weather, big hills, and a strong wheel to chase.

Happy riding, Everyone.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Still On Track

Today was a good day. Made up for yesterday's long-ass drive in the freezing rain and snow to Ninigret where I found only 3 women to race against in the 39-degree pouring rain. So I promptly got my ass back in the car and drove home. Screw that.

My decision to race Wells this morning instead of Tufts with th P/1/2/3 men's field was vindicated when I watched the race this afternoon. Viktor Rapinski lapped the field, which was strung out the entire race. Didn't want to pay to get shelled in that race, so I rode out to Wells this morning for the A race, and had a great time. I have been so tired lately... last week was big week at work and otherwise. I hadn't really trained since Tuesday, just easy spins since then. But I felt great on the bike today. Legs had no snap or jump, but could put out for longer efforts. Felt good to be active in the A race, never saw the back of the field. I feel reassured that my training is still on track now. I just can't wait to really race.

Cowboy WON the Conte's Classic today down in Norfolk, VA. Wish I could have been there to see him riding off the front like a cowboy.
Place # First Last Team

1 289 Ward Solar Natures Path presented by Fuji Pro/Am Cycling Team

2 171 Scottie Weiss Hincapie/Bianchi/Dasani

3 249 Michael Beers Rite Aid Pro Cycling Presented by Snow Valley

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

State of the Union Address

What's startling to me is not that big industry exploits the health and well-being of the general public and advertises sales on mass-farmed cattle, grown in cages and pumped with hormones so they can be slaughtered before natural maturity, then ground up and shipped all over the world to be microwaved and slapped crudely betwen buns made with bleached flour and preservatives and dripping with processed by-product made into an orange-colored gooey consistency with emulsifiers, preservatives, and dyes, [deep breath]
but that the sign actually has to say "LIMIT 10 PER CUSTOMER PER VISIT!"

Just one more...

Do I laugh? Do I weep? (I'd really like to see this hell raisin. We didn't see the raisin as we rode our bikes past this house in Virginia, but were scared enough by the sign's threats not to stick around to wait for it longer than necessary.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Southern Comfort

I spent a long weekend at an undisclosed training location south of the Mason-Dixon line. The weather was nothing great to write about and the company was beyond blog description, so this entry might be a bit short. I did discover that I have quite a taste for Bush Mill whiskey (must be my southern heritage coming through) and damn they pour tall shots down there!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Too Sexy...

to ride outside! I am lusting over my bike again. Haven't ridden it since Green Mountain, after which I trained on my cross bikes. Now I can't bear to bring my shiny new drivetrain out onto crappy New England roads. The new gun metal gray colored FSA chainrings are hot! Nothing is finer than fresh white bar tape. But I do fear the pretty new hollow-link chain with its drilled out links! I bet its beauty will also be its curse by acting as a repository for road grime.

Every day now when suiting up for my rides, I look longingly at my Stevens steed, lift it gently and flirt with its 16 lbs, flex its levers, then cold-heartedly pass it by for my crappy, heavy, grungy, grit-caked, cyclocross pit bike. Tough love, but I'm doing what's best for it. Breaks my heart every time. Maybe one day I will live somewhere I can ride a nice bike year-round. But I guess I can't complain - at least I can ride outside most the winter! If I could nordic ski reliably, I would be happy.

Today I went on a testosterone-charged group ride through the hills of Clinton, Sterling, and Leominster, Mass. Luckily, the rain stayed away and temperatures were mild and comfortable, probably hitting 50. It was almost epic, as we cruised over sandy, chopped up asphalt, and even some dirt roads and climbs. The ride began like doing interval training, with moderate pace on the flats and rocket speeds up every hill. Later the ride evolved to hammering along the flats into incredibly hard wind, sprinting out every town line as if it was the finish of the Bank of America Invitational, and also thrashing up every hill. After 8 hours in the saddle the past 2 days, my legs were hamburger and I suffered. I also had to drag the steel dinosaur beneath me while all the boys rode their Litespeeds and carbon Treks, some with fancy pants wheels. There were times along the windy flats, never mind on the descents, that I could barely hang on the wheel in front of me in my top gear (48x11). I fantasized about the 53 gunmetal gray teeth in my agony. Uphill, the strain and burn in my legs was bad enough to convince me I was pulling muscles. But as much as I groaned about it during the ride, it was good for me. I'm sure that after saddling up the lead dinosaur all winter my road bike will feel like a rocketship.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Sweet!! A ride without booties and winter riding jacket! Yes, folks, it hit 68 degrees here today. I rode to work today, and on the way home I was positively sweltering in my winter sidis, wool socks, verge tights, craft base layer, and long-sleeved jersey. I had no idea how warm it was until I got going. I almost stopped to strip the tights, but waited until I got home, then changed into knee warmers, arm warmers, a short-sleeved jersey, and went back out. No gloves, no shoe covers, no windstopper headband. I rode until dark. Just felt awesome to be out. I didn't want to stop, but it got dark and I was getting hungry. So I rode about 3.5 hours today. Not bad for a rest day when I didn't need to ride much at all! I can't wait for this weekend. Long ride tomorrow and again Sunday, or maybe even Wells Ave. Maybe, since it's often a crashfest early season, and I don't want to get tangled up with hairy-legged guys...

So I dropped 8 bills on my bike this week. But now I don't want to use it!! I don't want any grit in the new drivetrain or cabling! It's all decked out with new cassettes, chainrings, tubbies (and a spare set), derailleur pulleys, cabling, chain, etc. God, this hobby is friggin' expensive. I also got training tires and a campy cassette body so I could switch my shimano-compatible cyclocross Ksyrium wheels to Campy to use for road season. I can't even remember what else I ordered. Hopefully I won't actually need anything else all season! I can't bear to ride my road bike until the streetsweepers suck the sand up next month, but my cross bike only has a 48-tooth front chainring and different sized crankarms, and I can't train on that much longer... besides, I probably shouldn't race Wells with cantilever brakes...

Monday, March 06, 2006


Life has been good lately! This weekend was truly epic. One of the best weekends all winter. (The other great one was a day trip up Mt. Lafayette.)

I got an invite to head up north to ski with some ski bum bike racers. :) I left the bike behind (although yeah, I felt guilty that I'd be missing my long weekend rides, so I at least got in an additional hour-and-a-half on Friday afternoon after my sprints). I packed nordic and alpine skis, and my snowboard.

Leaving Boston early Saturday, the skies were clear, sun shining, so I expected a fun but potentially icy day on the slopes. The sun was out until I hit Plymouth, but windblown flurries whipped around through Franconia Notch. By the time I got all the way to Matt & Martha's, it was clear there was much more accumulation. Having missed out on good times on the slopes (or nordic trails) due to mother nature's torment this year, I got really excited!! We arrived at Bretton Woods to find tons of powder!

Damn! These Northlanders are FAST and SMOOTH on skis. (Another video of Martha coming - technical difficulties...) Being a novice skier (I'm more of a boarder, but not even too skilled at that), I was a bit nervous skiing with such experienced skiiers, but after burying myself face first (and actually, backwards more than once, I won't try to explain that) in the pow a couple of times I mostly kept up ok, just much less gracefully.

An amazing day on the slopes was capped off with a beer in the lodge, good company, and the brassy riffs of a good cover band's horn section. Life is good, well, except that I regret forgetting to have my picture taken with Captain Morgan before leaving the lodge, and I fear this blog entry may have suffered in its absence.

It kept snowing all night, and the next morning we enjoyed more spectacular snow on the slopes before 8:30. It snowed until Sunday afternoon, and I think they got around 2 feet of snow! Clark Kent - yes, I am convinced he is Superman in the flesh - how else do you get on a cereal box? - although we couldn't convince him to get out the red Speedo... wait! maybe it was Matt who had the red speedo... well anyways I digress... we hit the nordic trails for awhile to get some skating in, but then put the alpine gear back on to get even more runs in! Like I said, it was just epic. Like I said, life is good.

By the way, have you ever seen synchronized ski dancers??