Monday, September 29, 2008

Cross Vegas!

While in Las Vegas for Interbike, I did the cyclocross race attached to it, the Wheelers and Dealers race for people in the bike industry. There was a pro race too, but hey, I'm no pro.

So I don't know how many women actually raced, and what categories (manufacturer, sales, shop, etc) were eligible for the win. The roster listed six women total, I saw a handful at the race, and Cale says he saw at least 10, but you can't trust a serial exaggerator. It was hard to keep track of all the ladies because the guys and gals raced together in the industry race. And you know, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference from behind/a distance.

Anyhow, I didn't know what to expect because it was most likely going to be a mix of people from desk jockeys to 3's who just hadn't made the leap (I felt I was somewhere in the middle). After Elvis sang the Natl anthem, the race started and all the guys took off and I let everyone get out ahead and then started picking people off (which is the opposite of what you're supposed to do, but I wanted to race it my way). I got ahead of some guys and a woman who had gotten caught up in the first sprint. A little ways ahead I picked out a woman in a skirt who was riding away from me. I decided to warm up and see how I felt about about stalking her down.

After a bit I noticed I was hanging even with her, and decided to move in for the kill. She was just as fast as me on the flats, but she was slower on the hills, of which there were a few. I got behind her for a while and then moved out in front on a hill. She caught up over a half a lap, and I let her have the lead again, hanging right behind her (I love that doing that stuff). I waited until a hill and then sneaked around her. I blasted up the hill and didn't let up after, when I knew she'd be catching her breath from the climb. She stuck behind me maybe 20 yards back for a lap or so, but then I started putting more distance on her with the hills. It felt good. At this point, I thought there were more women ahead of me and that I had 3rd or 4th. It was supposed to be a fun race, so I had made my goal to catch the woman in the skirt and not get too concerned with the results. I was pretty happy that I had done that, and for fun at the end, I was tearing it up in a nice sprint against a guy who was finishing with me. People were ooh-ing and aah-ing over my great power ;)

So what you really want to know about:
They called my name and I perked up, because I thought maybe I had missed the awards ceremony. They had kind of announced the guys' wheelers and dealers race with no mention of the women. I went and asked up at the announcer's stand, and the lady said 'You won, congratulations. The podium is over there, they'll do the awards shortly'. I just smiled and said thanks, because I thought she had gotten it wrong- that I was on the podium, not that I had won. I was still pretty excited. I got over there and was indeed shocked when they called me up first in front of a crowd of press- no lie- to accept a jersey, special engraved Moen cowbell (it's super awesome) and cyclocross book. They had me put the jersey on and then called up the men's winners. They stood me in the middle of the dudes and then the press snapped photos like crazy. There were at least 20+ press quality cameras that were flashing away, with all the photographers crouched on the ground in front of the podium. Pretty much like in the movies.

I stole this photo from someone's flickr (please don't sue me):

I tried to look presentable, but my hair was a mess and I wasn't sure where to look or how to hold myself. I felt like I needed to keep swiveling my head to look directly at all the cameras. Or should I look straight ahead? It was confusing, and I'm pretty sure I look a little dazed. I need to go to a finishing school for cyclists or something.

Aaand that's it. It was pretty super fun, and we all got to see Lance Armstrong's pain cave face.

Long ago, Far away

Not this past weekend, but the weekend before that (before we jetted off to Las Vegas) Cale and I went to Kelly and Gunnar's wedding. They had the ceremony at their farm in the Prairie du Chien area and then the reception right down the road at Badger Camp. We left on Friday and came back on Sunday morning to pack for Vegas. We stayed in the cabins at Badger Camp- they were very nice!

The day of the wedding, as people were just starting to get ready, Gunnar brought his camera out and offhandedly said to me, "Take some pictures." I pretty much ran away with the thing. I took hundreds of pictures, a few dozen of which were happy accidents. I took pictures of the behind-the-scenes goings-on, because if it were my wedding, I'd want to remember that sort of thing, along with having the nice posed shots.

Getting ready:

The chairs set up in the alfalfa field:

The ceremony begins:

Kelly's dad was making her laugh:

Ephemeral! Here's the wedding party after the ceremony, waiting for official photos:

Kelly and her father after the ceremony:


The Happy Couple:

Catsup: Las Vegas

This past week, Cale and I journeyed to Las Vegas to attend Interbike, watch and do some races, and maybe get into some trouble. We didn't manage to find much trouble, but we had a good time. Rather than go through each day like my middle school diary (Today I got a B+ on the science quiz. I ate lunch with Gabi and Asia. I think Daryl looked at me- He's so cute!), I'm going to do highlights and impressions.

No Nos

Nothing is illegal in Vegas, as far as I can tell. You can buy alcohol round the clock, hookers are advertised everywhere and there absolutely no 'No U-turn' signs anywhere. Crazy!!! I didn't test it, but I think public nudity would totally fly, too.

Oxygen is Sneaky

A lot of the big hotel/casinos smelled amazing. Like a perfume and oxygen scent. Apparently they pump in oxygen to keep you from realizing that you're exhausted from gambling away your kid's college fund. I also learned it makes you want to spend money on expensive little black dresses. We were wandering around the Venetian- which is also lighted with bottled daylight- and I stumbled into BCBG. The sales girl fell upon me, started a fitting room and then it was all over. She pulled out one of her favorite dresses for me to try, and gosh darn if it didn't look amazing. And what do you know, I bought it. I won't name a price, but let's say it was about a long day's salary, which is much more than I would usually spend. Oh well. Vegas. Vacation.

You're doing it right.

Wearing said dress and a pair of 4" patent leather high heels that I borrowed from a friend, Kelly, I was ready to go out to dinner. Cale was grabbing some last minute things and I was standing in the doorway of the hotel room, halfway out into the hall. A repair man down the hall looked over and was like 'Hey mami'. When I told Kelly that I thought I had just been mistaken for a call girl, she said 'You know you've gotta be doing it right'. I laughed and thought, well, hopefully I looked expensive.

The other story is, after winning the Wheelers and Dealers race, Cale was trumpeting 'Katy won!' all over the place. The woman who won the pro race was named Katie Compton (another Katy/ie). A few people came up to me and enthusiastically congratulated me. I think they may have mistaken me for Katie Compton- I don't know what she looks like, and there are probably some other people who don't know, either. I like to think that, in the dark and to inebriated cyclocross fans, I could look like a pro champion, too.

Living the Life

We went to Interbike two days in a row, and it was exhausting! It sounds ridiculous that walking around could wear you out, but by the time we got back to the hotel room on the first day, our legs ached and we were aching for a nap. Interbike, along with exploring and racing, really wore us out. For our last full day, we wanted to relax before checking out the road race. When we booked the hotel room, we noted that there was a topless pool that was free for women and $10 for men (hah!). Kelly and I were up for it (Since this is a family blog, I'll let you interpret that. Keep it to yourself.) so Kelly and Lyle and Cale and I headed for the pool a little after noon, armed with some books, champagne and lots of sunscreen. It was a good atmosphere and we had a great time doing absolutely nothing. By the end of the day the pool guy knew our names and drinks of choice.

In case you're curious, the other people enjoying the facilities were a mix of tourists, foreign and non, along with a couple of shiny bronze regulars. There were also several guys on their laptops in a shaded area checking out... I mean, checking their email. On one last note, I always thought there was nothing more awkward looking than someone struggling onto an inflatable pool toy. Now, however, I know that there's nothing more awkward than someone topless struggling onto an inflatable pool toy.

Not a cent.

The whole time we were in Vegas, we didn't gamble a single penny. Seriously. Lyle and Kelly had fun doing a few hours of 'small stakes gambling' with $5 at the penny slots, but it seemed like we never had time to gamble and drink a few complimentary drinks. Alas.

Hype Man

Team Pegasus needs a hype man. This we decided while watching a BMX show at the road race. They did a few awesome tricks, but then their hype man just yakked for forevah. Just imagine...

At the start of cx races, with a DJ spinnin' it in the background:
"Hey hey hey, it's Team Pegasus in da house! We got my man Cale, Jason, Andrew- awwwww, my main man Baby Teal! Hell yea, you know we ain't messin' around here. Hey DJ, let's rewind it. Reeee-wiiiind! Shit, that's some New York shit right there."


It was fun. We were glad to be home, but we enjoyed Las Vegas. It's for sure not really 'me', but I liked exploring the place and seeing all sorts of things you wouldn't see in Milwaukee. Speaking of, the reason why you aren't seeing any photos is because I couldn't find my camera! It was terrible. I had it in the morning, couldn't find it before leaving and I still haven't found it. Gah!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fact: Sandbaggers love sand.

I get teased a lot for being a sandbagger, but it must be true. During the cross clinic this weekend I was only truly at home in what surely must be my natural element: sand.

The cross clinic I'm referring to is the Badger Prairie, Planet Bike, Jonathan Page (or some combo of those words) cyclocross clinic. For those who don't know, Jonathan Page (JP) is the US's highest finisher at the Worlds, which is a big deal because the US is not known for its CX skillz. He rides for Planet Bike, which is based out of Madison, so he dropped by the Badger Prairie course to give a workshop.

The workshop started out with introductions, and I kind of butchered mine. I forgot my name first off, and then I'm pretty sure I came off as overconfident. I said something like "...and I took the Cat 4s by storm last year." As embarrassing as it is now, it was worth it if only for the response it got. I've never heard such a rich array of short noises. There were shocked, offended and amused 'Ha!'s.

Please let me explain the context in which I thought that was a good thing to say. We were in the afternoon section, which meant we were supposed to be 'advanced' cyclocrossers. This meant a lot of experienced racers, a lot of them in Cat 1 and 2. I thought my Cat 4 winnings would be laughable. I probably should have skipped the humor...

JP is a nice dude, but not an incredibly good teacher. He's been so good for so long, he doesn't remember to explain little things that now come naturally to him. Luckily, one of the guys from Planet Bike filled in the gaps- JP would go over a certain thing, like mounting and dismounting, and then the other guy would fill in things like "And you'll see he always keeps his hip on his saddle to stabilize the bike."

Anyhow, it was a good trade-off as we were not an incredibly good class. We couldn't help but make little cracks about things and snigger just a little while he was teaching. What can I say, we were in high spirits. It was a nice day, if a little hot, and Jonathan Page was there to teach us about cyclocross! Excitement abounded.

We started out with a warm-up lap and then began dismounting and mounting. We learned a lot of good things. Things that I could tell you about, but then I'd have to kill you. The secrets of National Treasure Jonathan Page will die with me. Suffice it to say, I learned some new things, and felt a little better during the practice time we were given. I had to keep concentrating on my form, though, or I would forget to do one thing or another. I started getting a little frustrated after working for about 30 minutes and not attaining World level perfection, though.

I cheered up a little bit when we practiced cornering. Again, I learned some new things that I think will make me faster and more confident this year, which is exciting to think about. Gets me all pumped for the season.

After a short break, we went to a different part of the course and practiced going across sand. At last! Something I wasn't going to struggle with. Since this year was so wet early on, the Kettles got sandier and sandier (and the sand got deeper and deeper) throughout the early mtb season. I wasn't very good at the sand traps until Bethany told me the secret: sit on your seat (all your weight right on/over your seat) and use the front wheel as a rudder. It was the best tip I think I've ever gotten. So clear, so easy to implement. And it works amazingly well!

JP demonstrated, and then we all reluctantly started charging across the volleyball court. I had thought that perhaps the skinnier CX tires might be different than mtb tires, but it worked essentially the same. After a few warm up tries, I got to feeling very comfortable and started showing off. Of course, that resulted in me slipping and falling all over someone else's rear wheel and taking us both down right in front of JP. I had it coming. But after dusting off the sand, I very happily kept zipping back and forth on the volleyball court, trying to see how slow I could start and still make it. It was like a pig wallowing in mud: who knew sand could be so much fun?

The bike:
It was getting a lot of oohs and ahhs, which of course was flattering. Whenever someone complimented it, I just wanted to say something like "Yeah it sure is awesome!" Thing is, Cale practically picked out the the entire thing, so I'm not really responsible for the build. And I've been acquiring the parts over many months- I'm certainly not rolling in spending money, as Denny could tell you (You'll have the money tomorrow! Don't deploy the kneecap-breakers!)

But the bike, the bike! Once we tuned a few things, it was riding really well. There weren't any fit issues, and the whole thing felt very natural. It finally feels like mine, instead of some nice bike that I can see but not touch. With that, I'll draw this novel to a close.

Cross season: going to be good.
Me: excited for cross season.