Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Morning Commute

Ah, look at all of that green and blue!

This is actually the worst road (crumbling asphalt) of my 20 mile commute, but this morning it looked so nice with the lush trees and blue sky. And! It would appear that a crew is tearing it up to re-do the road! I'll have to re-route and ride busier roads for now, but it'll be worth it when it's done. It's tough to navigate all of the pot holes, bumps and cracks as-is.

More blog posts to follow. I'm on a roll! (and I've got two past weekends to account for.) The internet here at work during lunch hour is much too slow to be dealt with, though, so maybe later. I'm going to head outside and maybe grab some ice cream. Yeah, summer!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Day in the Life

A pretty great Monday, actually. This weekend was chock full of just hanging out around the apartment and sleeping in, so it feels like waking up from a refreshing nap to get back at 'em. This morning I drove my bike to work so I could bike home. Reason being, it's hard to motivate myself to wake up early to bike in when the truck's right outside practically begging to be driven around. Also, I get pretty tired waking up early and then biking 20 miles first thing, so by the time 4:00 rolls around I just want to be home relaxing, not biking all the way back downtown.

The answer to both problems is to drive up one morning, bike home in the evening, then bike in the next morning and drive home that evening. A good mix; getting exercise, saving the environment and sparing my poor old truck the miles.

Anyhow, work was good, I got a good amount done and there was a good bit of banter flying around the office. At 5:00 I headed out to meet up with Cale, who had gotten out of work a little early and was biking up toward Mequon. We had a point chosen to meet up, but since he got there first he decided to bike further to meet up on my route. Which was fine, 'cept I totally didn't see him (It was a four lane street with a median- and trees!). So miles later he finally caught up to me when I stopped at the agreed-to meeting point. He was pretty tired, after really killing it the 20 miles to meet me and then trying to catch up to me (while I was hurrying to meet him) on top of that.

After getting home, we ran quick like bunnies to change and go shopping for some homemade pizza ingredients to grill on Cale's father's day present to himself (though he's not a father and doesn't intend to be...) We got some really delicious stuff and got enough to make about eight small but diverse pizzas. It turned out to be quite the impromptu gathering.

Before you know it, it's 11 and everyone has thanked you for the pizza and scarpered before cleanup time :) Luckily my good friend Emily Joy was too late in getting away and was socially obligated to help pick up. What a champ.

So here I am, up a little too late, blogging away. I've got a bed waiting for me, and then after that this guy. It should be a pretty commute tomorrow morning. Crisp and early-morning sunny is my prediction.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sit Ups

Today I was doing some sit ups and the cat, who was beached like this, was staring at me like 'What are you doing?' and I was all like 'You're one to talk, cat, you look ridiculous.'

23 and already a cat lady.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Packed and ready to go tomorrow morning, bright and early, up to Minneapolis and then on to Levis Trow for some mountain biking with Cale.

It's been a good week so far- it feels so much like the summers during college! Things picked up as the weather improved a little bit and the days started filling up with 'funtivities'. I've run errands, gone to the library, thrifting, to a Brewers game with my parents (grilling out!)... I hung out with some people I haven't seen in weeks, months and years. I've especially enjoyed biking around again. It feels like visiting an old friend; getting to know the streets again and moving with the traffic. Each morning Emily Joy and Joey and I have been doing coffee at Alterra, too, just like we used to do before school at work. Each Friday we'd wake up a little early and get together with friends. Ah, the good old days.

Anyhow, off to bed I go. Tomorrow's a long day of driving.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spring Prairie Road Race

Well, the week off of work starts out kind of blah... it's kind of rainy and cold out thus far, so I'm planning on leading today out with some moping, and then maybe following that up with some sulking. I have to stick around here because on Wednesday night I'm helping out with a drawing class. After that, though, I'm headed off to Minneapolis to join Cale, who's up there for work. I plan to hit the town on Thursday, and then Cale and I will be doing a short tour of some mountain bike trails. Definitely Levis Trow for a day or two, then maybe one or two other places. Depends on how we feel, and how much Levis we can handle.

This past weekend was the Spring Prairie State Road Race Championships. This past Monday I registered for the Cat 4 race and settled in for a long week. I still get really nervous. Luckily, there was a lot of stuff going on, and a lot of stuff coming up, so it seemed like I was planning and living a few weeks ahead. I tended to forget about the race, so I only really got nervous the morning of. But it was the same story then. Couldn't eat, couldn't really drink, so I just left it at that. Have I mentioned that I foam at the mouth? Not that I'm slavering it all over, but when I go to spit, it's foam. Kind of cool but definitely gross, right? This keeps up until a little bit after the race.

Anyhow, the race started with a neutral roll up the hill to the start/finish line. I don't think I did much of anything interesting the first few laps... I kept myself toward the front of the pack, pulled a little on second lap and observed. I think everyone was in preservation mode, because no one wanted to be wasted for the last time up the hill. I realize now that I was conservative, too. I had noticed some weaknesses in the pack (slow descents and slow & wide cornering) but I never tried to attack at any point. That, and unless I had some ladies come with me, it would have been pointless. I could have flown off the front like I was on fire, but everyone knew that a solo effort (for a cat 4 woman) isn't very realistic. The only thing I did was get to the front on the descents and drop and try to make the other ladies pedal to keep up.

On the last lap on the second (of four) side of the course, I dropped my chain and had to stop and put it back on. The field was about 200 yards away and I was sure I'd be dragging myself over the finish line, DFL. I think the pack slowed down a bit, though, so I managed to chase back on. I tried to sit in for the rest of the lap, taking it easy and trying to get my breathing back down. I really whipped out the pep talk, too. On the last straight, women started to come around me, and I was kind of stuck behind someone. At the bottom of the hill before the finish line, though, the pack really fell apart. At that point it became apparent who had some energy left and who had been faking it. Some women shot up the hill (or more like crawled, at this point) while others fell back. Luckily, I was tenaciously climbing my way to the top, picking my way through the women that seemed to be almost standing still.

Here are some shots of me coming up the hill on some of the previous laps:

(As an aside, I'm so proud of the way the kits turned out! I worked really hard on them and really wanted them to look cohesive and flattering in photos like these, and I think I pulled it off. I hope I don't sound like a braggart- I'll rejoice when I think my stuff turns out well, but I'll definitely admit when it falls short, too.)

At this point, though, a lady that I was coming around kind of wobbled into me. We locked bars/shifters and we both swerved as we took the hit and then untangled. We'd both lost a little momentum, but managed just fine to stay upright and keep going. At the top of the hill, I saw the leaders, who were just out of reach, and went into preservation mode. I dug in (in my little ring- I was exhausted!) with my head slightly down, eyes focused down around my front wheel so I could see (peripherally) if anyone was coming up on me. I had a little more to give if that happened- you know, that little jump panic can give you.

I wound up coming in third but placing second, since the woman ahead of me (in second) was in the master's category and scored differently. So second place on the podium it was. The third place woman wasn't around for the photo, but let me assure you there were more than two women in the race :) For this photo, they told us to give a victory pose. Being new to podiums, we both felt pretty awkward about raising our arms, so I decided to lend it a festive air. There's also one out there of us high-fiving.

There are a couple of things I would change if I could. First and obviously, I do so wish that my chain hadn't fallen off! Apparently, you shouldn't shift into your little ring while you're in the middle of your cassette? Shifting 101, here I come. Second, and this was a no-brainer, I should have been toward the front of the pack at the climb. I could have been in contention if I would have started up around the two women that edged me out. That would have been an intense climb, and an exciting finish! Well, you learn something every day.

Overall, I'm very happy with how I did. I'm proud of myself for not giving up- for chasing the pack down solo and then fighting for the finish while my legs were stewing in lactic acid. I think I did pretty well in the pack, too. I brushed up against someone on an earlier lap, and though our feet were rubbing together as we pedaled and our bars clashed, we kept it cool and it was no big deal. I also didn't give up any wheels, like I'm prone to doing. I would edge my way into the pack (if it was safe) and didn't let anyone push me around. Twice I think I let someone in ahead of me, but it was because they had just finished pulling, and at that point in the race, it wasn't that vital that I keep my spot, anyhow.

I have major respect for the guys that did the longer races. Four laps of the hill was definitely enough for me. The pros did 12 laps. Yes, that's 12 times up the hill! To give you an idea of how tough this hill was, rumor has it that a junior actually tipped over trying to get to the top. He was just slowing down so much that he actually fell over sideways because he couldn't keep up enough momentum.

Will I race some more road races or crits? Probably a few more. I'm warming to them, but I'm not so crazy about them that I'll subject myself to my nerves more than once a month or so. It's just not worth it to me.

A funny product of this race became apparent last night as I was walking on the sidewalk in Bayview. There was a woman waiting for a bus, and I tried to catch her eye and give her a friendly smile. However, she avoided looking at me... It was then that I figured out that I was used to the community from the day. The race was out in the country, I recognized people and I felt at ease. I had gotten into the Mineral Point Mindset (more widely known as a small town groove). While at a cycling event, you look and smile, say 'hi' or 'Good job out there!' if you recognize them from a race. It's a bummer that MKE's not hip to it, but at least I can satisfy my small town needs with the cycling community.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cat and Haircut

A couple of night ago Cale was building up a new set of wheels and I snapped a photo of him and the goofy cat. He is a good fit for us. When he's not whining for food, he's a pretty chill little cat.

Well, I guess he's not that little anymore!

What a sass pot. He's on a bit of a diet now. Some day he'll look back on these photos and be glad he's put those pounds behind him. Now debuting is my new haircut as well. It's a shock to be sure, but I'm getting used to it and I'm glad I went ahead and did it.

Prairie du Chien Weekend

This past weekend we were all over the danged place. Luckily, it didn't seem like it. I'll give you the condensed version: Cale and I drove out to Gunnar and Kelly's farm for the weekend on Friday night. We went for a road ride with a bunch of guys from Prairie du Chien Saturday morning, ate breakfast, shot an AR15 rifle, went antiquing and then went for dinner at Gunnar's mom's house. On the way back home Sunday, we stopped to see my parents, then rode at Blue Mound State Park and had dinner with my cousin Shannon and Darwin at a Japanese place in Madison.

Sat morning road ride in the country started from the Prairie Peddler. A beautiful ride with some hills that made me heave a sigh when I saw what I was in for. One was a sustained 20% grade, as I heard it told! Below is a shot of the scenery and the guy who took us on the long/tough version of the ride after we split from the main group. On the way back into town, I got up to 50mph down one hill! It didn't feel like it at all.

Since we were away from the stinking lake, it was actually warm out. After getting back from the ride, we had breakfast outside. Cale had a Mike's Hard Lemonade with breakfast- which is 'just like juice!' ...but with alcohol and carbonation.

After breakfast, Kelly and I went antiquing in Iowa. Funniest thing- in most of the places we went into, they had boxes of VHS tapes. Apparently they're antiques now!? I guess they just can't figure out where else to sell them. How bad is it when you can't figure out where to sell something?

After an afternoon of antiquing we all had to do something manly, so Gunnar broke out his AR15, which is a gun modeled after an assault rifle, but commercially produced and available to civilians. Plus, it's like, all black and really wicked looking. Believe it or not, that's me in the photos- I got most of my hair lobbed off on Wednesday.

On the way back to Milwaukee on Sunday, we stopped off at Blue Mounds and went out for a lap. Very technical, but not quite as terrible as I remembered it. Then again, it's been two years, and I was brand spankin' new to mountain biking the first time I tried it. My hand (the one I maybe broke) felt OK after warming up a little bit. I wish it would hurry up and heal. I've taken a good amount of time off of mountain biking to try to give it time.

Anyhow, we changed and then had dinner in Madison with my cousin Shannon and her husband Darwin. It was delicious! We went to a Japanese restaurant and I took the easy way out with a chicken dish, but the sushi was great. I'm usually not a huge sushi fan, but this stuff really rang my bell. Yum. Well, that wrapped up the weekend. We pretty much dumped our bags (some of which are still hanging out, actually...) and crawled into bed.

Memorial Day Weekend

From two weekends ago? Thought I'd put up a couple of photos of the Ronsta Ramble from Memorial Day Weekend. Just to prove that we ride for fun sometimes :) It was a great route and it's good Cale had his GPS on the bike so we can ride it again if we so please.

Saturday we took it pretty easy. In the evening we got some tamales and chips and salsa from El Ray and rode to a park on the South Side. Don't remember what it was called or where exactly it was, but I like it that way. Maybe someday we'll stumble across it again, and that'll make it that much cooler. After that was Leon's for dessert, which is always a treat. Pun... intended?