Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Driving in Style

I don't know how anyone will be able to contain their jealousy, but I've got to share the news. This gorgeous, dented automobile is soon to be in my possession. The plan is to drive it for at least the winter, then we'll see. It won't be very good for driving friends to races with, but it'll do for commuting, and Cale and I can do rides and races just fine. Just a few fork mounts bolted to the bed and we're set.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trip to the Vet

Snips was a farm kitten, so he came to us with some.. shall we say.. extra friends. Deadbeat friends who didn't contribute anything to the relationship. You could actually call them parasitic, in that respect. He also has an eye infection that needed attending to. So off to the vet we went. I don't have a carrier, but hey, a cage is a cage and he was going to hate it no matter what it was. So I grabbed up a big box (so he didn't feel too claustrophobic), cut a hole and dropped him in before he knew of the betrayal. I then whisked him out into the car, through the light rain. Here he is, enjoying a ride in the auto:

On the way to the vet, he chewed the hole bigger in his de-luxe carrier and got his head through. And then it was stuck. When I got into the vet's office, I hesitated before walking in. Here I was, bringing in a cat that had its head stuck in a makeshift animal carrier, aka a box from some Target dishes. I thought for sure they would purse their lips, shake their heads and shed a tear for the sweet animal with such a crude owner. But when I looked at this cat, his head stuck (but not painfully) in the box, all I could do was laugh. The humor pushed aside the shame. When I walked in, sheepishly smiling and presenting the box-cat, the receptionists started laughing and called the rest of the staff up to have a look at him. It's now his 'profile pic' for the vet's. Throughout the whole thing he was just kind of silent and resigned to his new fate of having his head stuck through a Target box for dinnerware.

We waited for a while (I took him fully out of the box) and then were shown to a room. We waited there for a while, and Snips got to explore a little bit and got to feeling a little more secure. The vet came in, asked me some questions and then called up to the front desk to tell them to check on something. While she was on the phone, Snips walked across the table, over the scale and onto a slanted desk with his papers on it. I watched as he leaned over and sniffed the vet, right before he slid off the desk, taking all the papers with him. Rather than make a move to stop him, I thought I'd just enjoy the show.

After she got all of her papers picked up, the vet examined, cleaned and vaccinated my poor little animal. He bore it like a champ, just kind of crouching down while he had Q-tips pushed in his ears, and needles administered. Since I've been cleaning his eyes, I think he kind of understands that we're 'cleaning' him with all the unpleasant stuff. So like I said, no biting, scratching or even meowing. Heh, when I was a kid it took four people to hold me down in order to x-ray me, until they explained that it wouldn't hurt. My four month old cat's got me beat!

Anyway, Snips is on the road to good health now, and I've got some lovely photos to forever remember his first trip to the vet's :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

A New Bane

I'm currently looking for an automobile these days. I'll probably be needing one for the winter (before the Christmas would be nice), and I've known this for a while. I went through the first, fun stage a few months/weeks ago. During long drives to races, I would have fun looking at cars passing by on the highway in order to figure out what I might want. This is what it's between:

A four door hatchback. Like a Yaris, a Dodge Caliber or a Honda Fit. The Caliber seems nice and roomy, and in the summer it would be nice to be able to carpool to places on the weekends. That would mean bikes on top, camping and race gear in the back, and four or five people in the car.

A Ford Mustang, around 2005/6 or so. Would that be a smart choice? No. But if I were presented with a fantastic deal for one, I would have trouble passing it up. I'd get it just for commuting and put a hitch on the back for bikes. Mmm, I've always liked the muscle-y looking Mustangs. I think I would be a Mustang if I were a car- kinda fast and powerful (looking, anyhow!) but nothing like a luxury sports car.

A small pickup truck, like a Ford Ranger. I had one in high school- what am I, going through my mid-life crisis? Anyhow, they get pretty good gas mileage, and I could fit lots of bikes and gear in the back. The downturn is that they'd really only fit Cale and I comfortably, even with the 'extended cab'. The good thing is, they're pretty super cheap, especially since I'm ok with going with a '98 with low mileage.

Car shopping is fun, right? So many options! Wrong. Car shopping is not fun, because you never know what you're going to get. Who can you trust? And it's not like a pair of jeans you can return. Uh-uh. And I know about jeans. I do not know about cars. I am pretty much the worst car buyer of all time. I don't know what I want, how much I'm willing to spend.... ugh. I go for days without caring, and then some days I just want to buy something and get it over with.

It's worse than deciding whether or not to train, or organizing the calendar. Do I get a very nice car (heheh, in my mind that just means 'newer used car') so that I don't have mechanical problems with it, or do I just get a stop-gap for the winter? What a pain in the arse. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to give up car shopping for today and dream of a Pegasus paint scheme on a 2006 Ford Mustang. Mmmmm, yeah. There it is.

Estabrook Photos

Djonnymac of BKB took these photos. His Flickr site is here. He always takes lots of photos, and I know a lot of us appreciate it. What's all the joy and suffering worth if you don't have photographic evidence of it to show your friends, or your mom?

From Estabrook, a few images of me running up the run-up (that's what you do on run-ups, you know)

I think this lady is going for the gummi hand-up that Cale was trying to hand out (gummi Halloween candy in the shapes of body parts)

And this guy is all about the 'traditional' PBR hand-ups.

Look at me go! It looks very much like I'm a double amputee with no legs below the knee.

The young man in the background appears to be performing a Jedi mind trick on someone. "This is not the racer you seek to beat."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Calendars = Bane

I've been working the past few days to finish up the calendar and get it out the door to the printer. It's been frustrating, because there have been a few companies that have been slow to get me logos. And getting people to hand in their photos has been like pulling teeth, for the most part. There were a few photographers that I will forever love for getting me the photos promised, but it's been tough to figure out the rest. I've had a few people cancel and others that held up the project calendar of the calendar project (heh heh). Now, I think I would be just as difficult to manage, and I understand that people are busy, but I can't help but play a sad song for myself.

Have I told you how tough it is to be me lately? Wooooeeee is meeeee.

Cale and I have been watching episodes of the Sopranos lately, and I can see now that I've set a bad precedent for next year's calendar. First, I do need to organize better and be clearer about deadlines and sales. But I've already shot my foot by not punishing those who ignored the deadlines that I served them. What would Tony do? The mob knows that you give an inch, they take a mile. Granted, I've already compromised myself, but next year I need to send muscle to peoples' homes, kidnap their dogs and threaten their mothers in order to get the calendar the respect it deserves. I bet if the mob were running the calendar, it would have been printed already, and not two days behind schedule. (Luckily I accounted for this when drawing up the original plans and it'll still be out when promised).

Anyhow, tonight was the last big push and I can stop working the late shift, trying to hustle sponsors (Minx helped me on that, though <3, and I did meet a bunch of cool people) design the months and put the squeeze on late photos and logos. Phwew. As much as I complain, though, I'm already planning to do it again. You know it can't be that bad :)


Startin' out right:
I was in the parking lot getting ready when they guy I threatened to chase the day before rode by and asked me if I was gong to chase him again. I told him I would and indeed threatened to chase him again when he was going over a set of barriers in his race. Cheering for this race was quite the experience. Jon Raleigh was cheering pretty wild, and then even started heckling a sandbagger in the Men's 3's race.

To give you the backstory, this guy has been racing in the 3's and has won every race but his first. By a huge margin. People grumbled after a while, and now are making themselves heard. I heard another racer chewing him out during their warm-ups. I feel pretty torn about it, because as much as I'd like to point the finger, I stayed in the 4's last year even though I won every race but my first. I stayed in the 4's because I was intimidated by the 3's (they seemed so much slicker than me, with nice bikes- not heavy SS 29ers- and kits with impressive sponsors) and I wanted to win the series and the State championship race. (I didn't manage the series, because there was a girl who raced more races than I did.) Sooo, I guess that's one little difference. This guy could Cat up and still win the series, even if his closest competitor won the remaining races in the series.

I hate to think that there were people grumbling about me, but there probably were a few, and I can't really fault them. I think I'm being punished now by languishing mid-to-back-pack in the 2's :) Anyhow, the question with this guy is: why isn't he catting up, and why isn't he being made to cat up? The new rule was supposed to be that after you won two races, you had to cat up, with a few exceptions of older people, I believe. Well, now I'm just rambling. I'll be interested to see what happens with this guy. It's too bad that he's making enemies, though, because cross can be a lot of fun when people aren't refusing to ring their cowbells for you.

I wasn't really feeling the race spirit, almost to the point of wanting to get my entry fee back and then slink away. It's a good course, but it doesn't hold a lot for me. I like a little more hills and not so much... non-hills. Corners, straightaways, zipping along. Not really for me. I lose the lead women so much sooner and then I'm in no-man's land. I was anticipating that I would have a decent time on the course, but that after just a bit I would be left behind. Sure enough, after not even a full lap, I fell behind. Wah-wah. I did have fun threatening to catch ReneƩ, though, as I came around to lap her. "I'm gonna get you, ReneƩ!" "Oh, Katy, no!" And there was the gummi hand-up on the run-up...

I think next year I might actually have to train if I want to stay in the 2's and have fun in the front. There's just nobody around me in a lot of my races. I can't count on a full array of ladies to show up for the 2's so that I have people to race against- I should be able to hang with the top... half or 2/3rds in the faster races. That's not asking a whole lot. But I know I need to train to get there. Not only do I need to work on physical things, I need to work on pushing myself to the limit, which is something I hate to do. First, because I don't enjoy the pain a whole lot, but second, because I'm afraid that the best I can do just won't be good enough. I hate to battle with another racer just to tire out in the end and watch them ride away on the last lap. It kills my competitive spirit a little bit each time that happens. But I'm never going to get better if I don't start pushing more. In most aspects of my life I set out a plan and want to do it right the first time, but I have to learn to accept that some things take multiple tries. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again? Losing a battle and falling back a position feels like failing to me, even though I know it's ridiculous. I would rather hang out in the back and ride than try to race and 'fail'.

Can I just say again, training. Ugh. A few nights ago I forced myself to go on a training ride with Cale just up North and back, probably between 20 and 30 miles. We kept a brisk pace, but it wasn't terrible and the weather was fantastic for fall. I was grouchy on the way out and finally happier on the way back. I realized it had been months- honestly, MONTHS, since I had done any sort of training. When we moved apartments, the running and the riding routine (that's kind of fun to say) went right out the window. I haven't done anything these past months except race on the weekends. I ran a few 3 mile errands, but there's been no practicing, no training, no nothing.

There's another thing to think of, besides training vs. not training. Do I care enough about doing well to devote my time and energy to it? If I hate one day of training, won't I REALLY hate weeks on end of it? Watching what I eat, setting aside hours per night to get on the bike and bear down? I started biking because I liked to ride around the city, to find a place to read my book until it got too dark to see. I like competition just fine, but how much do I like it?

Against that, though (MORE to think about!) is can I pass this up? I have some natural talent, and with training I could be pretty good. If I don't give this all a shot, will I regret it? I hate wasting things (food, paper, tinfoil, scraps of material- I'm a hoarder!) and wouldn't this be the same thing? I could just be throwing away my potential because I'm too chicken to find out where I'll top off.

Oh, life. I'll probably dance around training for a while before deciding to go for it, though it'll be like 'eating your greens' to me. Don't even get me started on vegetables! But you only live once, and I might as well try to make the most of it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kletzsch Park

So this past weekend was a lot of fun but very, very exhausting.

Friday afternoon Cale and I picked up these beauties:

When we picked them up they were hot off the presses, literally. They were very warm and smelled heavily like ink, but that didn't stop us from wearing then immediately and ever since. (You can buy one here, if you're so inclined.) We delivered them all weekend at the two cross races, and by Sunday you couldn't turn around without seeing the hot pink print. It was pretty cool.

Friday evening Jeff, Ben VC and Brandon came up from Chicago to spend the night in Milwaukee. After we all got suited up in our matching hoodies, Cale and I took them to one of the best fish frys (fries?/awkward) around- Lakefront Brewery's fish fry. They have some good fish, good beer and soda, quick service and a live Polka band. Cale and I got out there and danced with our four left feet for about half a song and then tucked into our recently arrived food. After Lakefront, we went across town to At Random in Bayview. It's a place trapped in the 50's. Pretty sure neither the wait staff nor the decor has changed since then. Anyway, they only serve mixed drinks and we all got some ice cream drinks- delicious! We then went back home and weighed our bikes for fun before getting tuckered out and hitting the hay.

We got to sleep in a good little bit on Saturday morning, since the race at Kletzsch Park is only a hop, skip and a jump across Milwaukee. Ben, Brandon and Jeff all had a good time, though it was a tough course! They had to leave shortly thereafter, but it was nice having them, and I'm glad they enjoyed their time here. I'll get the race part out of the way: I tried hanging up front with the pro ladies, but dropped back a bit and then got slowed down by someone I was trying to pass. Thus, in the first half of the first lap, I decided to just relax and have fun. I held my position (I think it was 5th) for the whole race and had fun muggin' for cameras and showboating up the huge run-up. I did such things as holding my handlebars in my teeth, smiling at cameras and finished it off with a beauty queen wave the whole way up on my last lap. If I'm not known for being fast anymore, I can at least carve a niche being a goofball. Here you can see me running up the hill, smiling and plotting how next to hog attention:

The fun part about the races, though, are the people that show up. On the very last lap, I accidentally hung up the second place dude that was trying to pass me. I didn't know which side he wanted to pass on, so we danced back and forth. I pretty seriously inconvenienced him, and I apologized after the race. To my sincere apology he replied "Oh, don't worry about it, that's racing!" with a smile on his face. What a guy.

Another guy kept joking with Pegasus members, "I was going to ask where there party's at, but here you guys are!" It's true, Pegasus brings the party. I had a lot of people ask about my crash in Washington Park, too. It must have looked pretty bad, because more than a few people asked how I was doing. (For the record, my hand was a little sore from taking my weight and starting the tuck and roll, but other than that I made it out unscathed) Cross is such a nice tight community, with a lot of caring and goofy individuals.

Before I wax poetic about my 'family', I'll get to the cheering. The last race of the day, when the host team, Polska, was done with their duties, got a little wild. We cheered like crazy for people we knew and even just people we know by sight. Favorites were people that rode the hill, people with pep in their step and the guy whose 29er seemed to get heavier each time he pushed it up the hill. There were some helpful pushes from the crowd for a lot of racers, and of course lots of cowbell for everyone. Jason rang his cowbell until it rubbed his skin raw!

Earlier in the day, I motivated some guy by chasing him up the hill during his race. It seemed to help, as he pulled away from the guy he was next to. When I turned around to go back downhill, I asked the other guy if he wanted me to chase him, too. He smiled but declined, as I recall.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

So, So Far Behind

Which describes the state of this blog and also a few races of late. Oh Snap!

I'm missing about five race reports on here. I'm going to really gloss over the earliest two. Cam-Rock was a lot of fun. I took a dollar hand-up from Jason's back pocket and just kind of rode to see how I would do in the 1/2's. (I think I got 8th out of about 14?) Gibbs Lake was the next day, and I rode with a different attitude. With Cale's prodding, I decided to try to get a good start. A few minutes in, however, I stopped because I thought one of my spokes had broken and was hitting the frame. It turned out to be just a stick or something (the noise was gone when I stopped) and that put be behind everyone. Everyone. I worked my way back up to about 7th and then started to... shall we say.. goof off? I had passed a girl and put her behind me, and during the last lap when I was taking a dollar hand-up with my teeth from Cale's back pocket, she passed me up. The rest of the lap there were few easy passing points, and she rolled in ahead of me. I was pretty disappointed that she had edged me out for 6th or 7th or whatever it was, but then I had made a dollar and gotten mad style points, and she had won nothing.

Last weekend was the Washington Park Halloween race. My parents came to town on Saturday and watched the race on Sunday. I'll have to admit, I was a pretty rotten hostess and didn't have anything super fun for them to do. Next time, I'll have to plan better. A highlight, though, is that my dad threatened to make "cat soup" out of Snips. But anyhow, the race. My parents were watching, as well as Cale's parents, and then my boss showed up to race. Which is not an incredibly big deal, but my costume for the race was kind of offensive.

What it was: I was a Red Hot Chili Pepper (the band) circa 1980's. Back when they used to perform in nothing but a sock covering their private bits. I had gotten a nude colored body suit and sewn a sock and some 'pubic hair' on it. In my head it was a funny idea, but in actuality, it was more than a little disturbing, since the body suit matched my skin color pretty well, and the fake pubes looked creepily real. Add to that (that being a costume with male attributes) a bosom, and you've got a really disturbing image. I think I gender confused quite a few young children.

Most of the reactions I got ranged from positive to disbelieving, but I think there were a few parents (of kids) there that were upset. (I'm sorry) To my parents' credit, they didn't hide when I introduced them to anyone, or mutter anything like "...should have sent her to a Military school..."

To get to the race, though, the costume worked fine. It was a little cold to start out with, but once I was racing I felt pretty warm. I wound up getting third, but then a lot of the top ladies were at various different/better/less enjoyable races. There was a 'Bunny Hop or Die' board again, and this year it was doused in white gas and lit up as people rode over it. There's a really great picture of one guy riding through flames that are licking through his wheels and as tall as his head. Apparently the officials were less than thrilled about it, but hey, this is Wisconsin 'cross. If we wanted rules against fun, we'd go down to Illinois.

In my race it was only smoking, though. About two laps from the finish, I was neck and neck with the girl who wound up getting first place. She was dismounting instead of bunny hopping, and I was making a tiny gap each lap. I was hopping really poorly, though. I'm so shamefully bad at bunny hopping. I would get my front wheel up and then slam the rear one against the board, just like last year. (Still no improvement!) Anyhow, on this lap my poor form landed me on the ground. There are some amazing photos of it at PelotonPics. I think I might have to buy them.

In the first photo, you can see me hitting the ground and tucking into a roll. In the second photo my legs are all akimbo, but my right mitt is already curled around the bars and I'm struggling to get up while still tumbling across the ground. I was so mad that I had fallen and messed up my thin lead that I was scrambing to go forward even while rolling on my back. What a champ. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to get up that I fell on my knees again before I could get on the bike and chase after her.

I eventually caught up, but I got a little tired from the effort. I stayed in 3rd place while she passed second to clinch the win. So it was a bit of a disappointing race, but I had a good time regardless.

Citizen Snips

Cale and I got a kitten a few weeks ago. It took a while to name him since he was at first scared of his new surroundings. You've gotta wait to name pets until they show a little of their true personality. After a few fun days of "We could name him..." we finally settled on a name. Not because it suits him so much as it's a pretty awesome name, and nothing else really rang true. One night while playing the naming game Cale said "How about Citizen Snips?" "Whassat?" I say. Cale then explains that it's a cartoon crab (from Futurama) with a bad attitude. A few days later I decide that that's what I've gotta go with. So we call him Snips for short.

At first he was really shy but now he's really affectionate. Most days while I work on the couch, he hangs out by me, napping on or around me. Above is a picture of him helping me work. Wouldn't want that hand to stray to the TV remote, right? Not a problem with a cat weighing it down.

When he's not hanging out with me during the day, he's holdin' it down in a plant.

This is his favorite plant, Monsieur Quigley (I got that name from a romance novel, where else?) We got some plants from Cale's mom and the kitten at first ate them, and then came to find out they could be used for napping and getting dirty, simultaneously.

All in all, he's a pretty good cat.