Monday, May 25, 2009

Worst Week in a Long Time


Ok, let's have at it. First, last Sunday I broke(?) my hand mountain biking, which has given me a good bit of worry. Based on some internet sleuthing, it looked like a boxer's break. Based on the level of hurt, it seemed like only a fracture, if it wasn't just bruised. It hurt and stayed a tad swollen throughout the week; a little over a week later and it's much better. I'm going to rest it for a while more, and maybe try mountain biking on Wednesday.

On Tuesday there was a bad accident at the track that left me grateful that my only problem was a sore hand. There were three people involved in a crash, and one was eventually Med Flighted out. Everyone grabbed their stuff off of the infield in about two minutes flat, and 20 min later, the helicopter landed, right in the middle of the track. Unfortunately, we learned the next day that he passed away, resulting from the injuries to his head.

The thing that disturbed me most about the injured man is that no one seemed to recognize him or know who he was. He was an older gentleman, around 50. It's a pretty tight group at the Kenosha track. I see some of the guys at work, and talk to some others during the week, and there's usually a comment like 'Coming down this week?' or 'Supposed to be nice weather this Tuesday!' We all shoot the shit on Tuesday nights, too, and the regulars tend to notice people who are new.

The man (whose name was Don) had been racing all last summer. Apparently, he was always kind of off the back during the races and never did anything very spectacular. He must have liked racing, otherwise he wouldn't have come back again and again, but I was upset that he didn't seem to have a group. Did any of us engage him in conversation, or make an effort to make him feel welcome? Did he feel welcome? I wonder if we came off as clique-ish, or were intimidating to talk to. I really hope not.

So already the week's off to a great start, right? I got a call from my parents later in the week. It started off normal enough, though I thought I heard something a little off in my step-mom's voice. Eventually, she came out with it and told me that my 39 year old cousin on my dad's side has been diagnosed with breast cancer. On the positive side, she's got a good husband to support her, a steady job, is close to treatment and is healthy besides. On the other hand.... cancer? It's important to see the positives, but at a time like this, it's got to be hard.

Selfishly, I'm starting to worry about the family history of cancer, and what it could mean for me. My mom died of breast cancer in her 40's after a few years of battling it, fifteen years ago this past Tuesday. I'm not positive, but I think a few other women in the family had cancer, as well. I've always known that there's an increased chance that I could get it, but I've never thought much about it, because it was so far off. You know, it's something that could happen to me when I'm 'grown up' and 'older'.

Now I think, what if when I'm 40 I discover a lump? If I gave up the good fight a few years after, that would mean I've gone through half of my time here. Quite the unattractive thought, especially since I've actually planned on living much, much longer :) It gets me thinking about my life, how I like it, and what I could be doing differently to really make the most of it. I feel greedy for life.

Just a disclaimer, I'm not spewing all this to get people to feel sorry for me. I guess I'd advocate counting your blessings and making sure you get the most of life. I'm not sure what I mean to do, really, other than document my thoughts. I've been upset about all of this stuff, and sometimes it helps to just get it on paper, so to speak.

That brings us up to yesterday, or PMS day, when I got all upset about training. I think I quit training. I haven't opened a training schedule in maybe six weeks. I'm too lazy and too weak of character to put in the work, I guess. I really admire people who can do it, and I do enjoy being super fit (well, who wouldn't?), but I just... can't (won't?) do it. I still like riding with friends- Pegasus road rides, Kettles, 12 hour races, most mtb in general- but to have to do hours and miles makes something fun into a tedious activity.

I am frustrated that I can't seem to make myself train (and like it, damnit!), but realizing that I stopped sketching (something that I used to do with any spare minute of the day) after having to sketch once a day for a class in college made me realize that that's what's happening to biking. Either that, or that theory gives me a good excuse to quit working hard... I feel like a quitter. I want to stay in shape and ride a lot with friends, but I don't want to have to do those things.

Speaking of rides with friends, Cale and I did the Ronsta Ramble today. It was a great ride, beautiful weather and good exercise. So of course something went (kind of) wrong. I don't want to put anyone off their feed, but remember when I said I had PMS? Actually, this deserves another warning.


The morning was spent feeling ill with cramps, despite a regular feed of ibuprofen. They weren't terrible, but I didn't feel like jumping up and down for joy and bubbling over with carefree laughter like a Playtex commercial. Oh jeez, and speaking of... do I really want to go here? I'm going to, internet. Get ready. Let's just say that for the last three hours of the ride, it was a good thing I had black shorts and a black saddle. While everyone around me was doing Great!, I had run out of supplies and was feeling absolutely disgusting and praying for the end. You're worried, thinking, "While biking, did you find some time to feel real, real sorry for yourself?" Never fear, I logged some solid hours of self pity today. I can throw a pity party and bike at the same time.

After an eternity, we made it back to some delicious brats, soda and dessert. It really was a great route and a lovely day, and I'm still glad I did the ride. I feel good and worn out after 70 miles of gravel, dirt and some pavement. I'll save the rest of the details for a fun post. Hopefully this marks the turning point after the week of wickedness.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brawlin' at Kettles

Loaded up the truck this morning for a nice spring day trip: bikes, chairs, table, charcoal, grill, cooler full of beer. Correct, the first big Kettle outing of the year. Yes, that's another picture of my dang truck. I'll get tired of it sometime, right?

Cale and I met Jeff, Chris and Matt from Chicago and did a few laps. We came across all sorts of lowlifes out there. Pete and his brother, some old coworkers, current coworkers and some plain old friends. Here I've shoddily Photoshopped myself into a picture I took so the whole group is present:

It was perfect riding weather- a little chilly standing around, but perfect for moving. I managed to get in a fist fight with a pine tree, which didn't go so well. I was going slightly down hill and around a corner in deep sand and I lightly applied the brakes thinking "I probably shouldn't put the brakes on." So of course my wheels slipped out from under me and I fell with my weight into a tree. My handlebar got caught (right hand sandwhich) and I went over the bars into the sand. At least it was a soft landing. My bike was kind of on top of me and I felt blood dripping onto my leg... but where was I bleeding? Turns out it was just my water bottle dripping warm water :) Of course this happened when we were furthest from the car. My pinkie and the outside of my hand swelled up but good, but I made it back and expect to live to fight another day.

After riding, we grilled and passed out hot dogs and brats to gain friendship. Then we did a lot of sitting around in the sunshine and drinking.

A few grueling hours later and we switched locales to The General Store to continue lounging around. Matt bought a case of quality Wisconsin beer, which Jeff generously volunteered to watch.

Phwew. It's a tough life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

West Bend Trails

Last night Jon and I drove up from work to meet Cale, Gunnar and Jake at the West Bend Trails. Maybe they have a more official name, but I'd say this name does nicely, as they're trails in West Bend. We rode around and posed with our mountain bikes- a skill that is woefully overlooked in most training plans. I'm not going to wind up regretting not honing that skill this year.

Overall, I'd say I like the trails. I think after riding them a bit more, I'd really warm to them. Most of the time I just really wanted to hunt down a rake and some clippers and do a little maintenance. There were so many leaves covering the trail in some parts that I couldn't make out what was going on (roots, rocks, etc), and there was always whip-like foliage covered in thorns snagging clothing and skin.

Pesky nature aside :), they could really help me learn better cornering and descending. There's some great practice for climbing, as well. There was one hill I did that made my whole body burn with lactic acid. Arms, and even fingers! I think I tasted my soul trying to evacuate, too. While it burned, I was spurred on by a motivators- impressing the guys and proving to myself that I could do it. I don't know about the guys, but at least I'm convinced some of those hills are climbable.

Pimped Out

Ok, as always I have a lot of catching up to do, but I'll get the posts rolling, as they say, with the modifications to my truck. This past Sunday Cale and I were wiped after the 12 hour race on Saturday (but that's another story) so we spent the majority of the day hanging out around the house. Cale had brought home some Saris fork mounts to attach to the truck bed earlier in the week, so we got started on that.

We brought out a few bikes so we could measure and mark, and then Cale started drilling. We put two mounts as far apart as we could get them on the cab end (photo 1), and two on the top of the tailgate to the inside of the other ones (photo 2).

Saris Fork Mounts

Saris Fork Mounts

So now the ol' Danger Ranger holds 4 bikes easily, with another mount possible (dead center against the cab, a little lower so bars won't clash). For WEMS weekends, we can pile up the bed of the truck, rest the rear wheels on top and then strap 'em all in place. For longevity, I might put silicon around the fork mounts to prevent against rust. It's not an aesthetic concern, as the whole truck is rusting around the edges, but I do want to make sure that no bikes ever get sucked off of the truck while flying down the highway. Better safe than sorry, shall we say?

Installing these mounts made me happier than I had predicted. Sure, I knew that this would make things a lot more convenient (no more bikes bouncing around in the bed or stuffed in the extended cab) but I definitely feel more affectionate to my little truck now, which kind of surprised me. It's taken a long time for me to warm up to it, because I've been wary of things breaking down, but I guess I'm starting to trust it. I mean, look at it there, all helpful and friendly. Awww.

Holds four bikes, could hold five.