Monday, November 30, 2009


Jingle Cross was exhausting. My legs are very tired today. I did three races: Friday night, then Saturday and Sunday during the day. Friday: Very dark and cold. The course was lit pretty well, but not superbly. There were some dark areas. Saturday: Lovely. Nice and warm, I think it got up to about 55 or so, and it was sunny. Sunday: I shudder just to remember it. Very cold with a wind that just picked up and up.

As for the actual racing, Fri and Sun were pretty much the same. I did my time and picked up my $42 (11 through 15th place got $42. Covering the costs!) Friday I did not enjoy, and Sunday I did. Saturday, though, was tragic.

I mangled the heck out of my derailleur. The mud and grass was doing a number on bikes the whole weekend, particularly derailleurs. I'd love to see a count. There were dozens of them broken. On Saturday, I didn't even make it a lap before my fork got so clogged that my front wheel wouldn't turn. I stopped, tried gouging out the mud, leaves and grass out with my fingers, and eventually just unhooked the front brake and tried to power through it. Well, my powering through it meant that I didn't notice any funny business until the derailleur was wrapped up like a Christmas present. Or twisted up like a pretzel. Any simile would do.

RIP, derailleur.

RIP, derailleur.

So on Sunday, I wore a 'Santa's Mistress' costume during the race and was told afterword by the official that there's a huge fine for not wearing regulation kit. They want kit with sponsors to be worn, because the sponsors support the races, etc. I didn't bother to tell her that our major sponsor at the moment is a mythical beast, because she was on a roll and it would have been rude to interrupt. Really, though, to try to explain it away might have seemed like I was trying to make light of it, so I let it be. Anyway, she made no bones about it that it was serious business, but was pretty nice about it, and I think it'll result in a warning instead of a fine. As an official she's gotta do what she's gotta do.

Oh, also about Sunday, I borrowed a bike from the Specialized tent. Thank you, Specialized! It was a top of the line carbon frame (can't remember the model name) with Zipps, Dugast tires, SRAM Red of course, and some TRP brakes. I'm kicking myself for not checking out the brakes and noting the model, because I want some (and apparently there are a few different models). Cale's always been in the camp that CX brakes don't have to have great stopping power, because you should never have to really stop during a race.

Baloney! Perhaps it's the right way, but it is no longer my way. Sunday with those brakes were the only time I descended Mt Krumpit (the huge hill) with any sort of confidence. I was able to slow to a speed that didn't frighten me, thus making the cornering possible. I think with a little time, maybe I would brake less because I would feel more confident all around. In any case, TRPs are on the list for next year.

Funny thing about the Zipps, though. On the way up the hill, I was making them flex quite a bit, to the point that they were rubbing the brakes on each pedal stroke. Howeverrr, the brakes might have had less clearance, and I wasn't being particularly smooth with my pedalin'. And let's remember, I am a powerhouse. With a substantial weight to power around. Other than that, the wheels felt great, and I am eternally grateful for the loan.

More photos as they pop up later.

Le Couch

Guess where I am Right. Now. That's right, I'm lounging on le couch. The couch which is not a bony futon with pilly fabric. Yes, I am sadly proud of this piece of furniture. I'm not crazy about the color and all, but goodness, is it the best for watching movies. And blogging.

More cushion for the pushin'.
(I Photoshopped the wall. It's pink and I'm going to paint it some other color...)

On the couch you may have noticed one of several mismatched pillows. I made this pillow out of Thomson bags on the sewing machine that Cale resurrected. It's made out of four seatpost bags.

Thomson Pillow

That was an exciting day. Cale made a small musette bag out of the smaller stem bags, too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to lounging and feeling satisfied.

State Champs

The state championships at Hales Corners were bound to be good. Beans and Barley gave us three gallons of Grandma’s Thick Pea Soup and three gallons of a vegan chili to give away. Gary was bringing a keg, and we had heard from a few other people that there were some snacks and a few cases of beer coming, too.

Sunday rolled around and we got up early to pack the truck and run to get the goods from Beans. We got to Hales Corners early, snagging a good parking spot and a prime spot for the tent. We set up by the barriers with the My Wife Inc. and Magnus tents, making one super Hooverville the size of a city block. Well, it seemed that way, anyway. Slowly, more people started arriving. Our guys from Chicago showed up and started warming up, and I put the soup on heat.

(Mmmmm, soup!)
MMMM Soup!

It was fun to watch all three of the tables fill up with food. One of the Magnus guys had baked a cheesecake, and lots of people brought cheese and crackers, cookies and other snacks to share. One guy came up from Chicago with his grill and cooked up (it was rumored) about 50 brats! Unfortunately, we didn’t save any brats for the officials, so I’m afraid we won’t be showing up on the results next year.

During the first few races, I ran back and forth from stirring the soup and chili to the barriers to take some photos and then back again, each lap. The morning went really quickly and soon enough it was time for me to race. It had gotten pretty warm, but I pulled on the ol’ lace up stockings anyway. Two years of racing and those things are still going strong! No holes or anything.

I lined up behind the men with maybe… six other women. The women I had battled with from the Kletch Park race weren’t there, but Toni (who recently catted up from a 3, and who had come in ahead of me at the state road race) had lined up with us, so I wasn’t sure how the race would go.

At the start, Toni got out ahead of me. I decided to stalk along behind her for a while. She had raced the women’s 3 race earlier in the day, so I suspected she might be tired. At the barriers by the Pegasus compound, I had a sloppy dismount but managed to get ahead of her.

Photo by Chris/ffonst

I wasn’t feeling too spectacularly strong, so I just kept it at an even pace. Toni would catch up to me a bit on the straights, and then I would get a little space through the corners and barriers, I think. I really pushed myself to take the back part of the course as quickly as I could. There was a lot of slick mud that coated my tires, with some slippery downhills and corners that made me a little nervous. I figured I might have the advantage there, though, so I focused on it.

My favorite parts on the course were the corners up by the pool and the sand pit. The corners by the pool were really fast, so you could keep up your speed and then really bomb down the hill right after.

The sand pit was PERFECT. It was just perfect. Deep, thick sand that you could just kind of plow through. There was a kind of path to one side, but I was having too much fun kicking up sand right through the middle. On one lap, I heard some kids, either making fun of me or the person ahead of me. When I hit the sand pit, though, they both stopped and went “Wooooaaah.” Heheh.

The race wound up pretty much as it had started. I got third in the state championship, because the woman who got second, Holly, is technically from Illinois. Hey, I’ll take it!

Women's 1/2 Podium

Moreover, it was a beautiful day, perfect for hanging around outside. One of my favorite photos from the day is a photo of a few of us reclined in the camp chairs after the races. The course was being taken down and the sun was getting pretty low in the sky. We were all pretty tuckered out from racing and cheering, full up on soup and snacks.

Aforementioned photo! by Nick Holbus.

After the Races

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The End, but not.

Just got back from a long day of 'cross. We did it up right at the state championships and then had the Pegasus end of the year party at Centraal. It's funny, it's the perfect way to end a season... and yet it's not over. It's confusing! I find myself thinking something along the lines of, "Aaaahh. Perfect. And now for some relaxation." and then I remember that next weekend is Thanksgiving and Jingle Cross (and with it, many many hours of driving), and after that the IL state champs. Can't a girl just sit at home for a while?!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Couch Teaser

We got a new couch today. Positive: It'll fit like six people on it. It's more comfortable than the futon it replaced. Even the cat likes it because it gives him front row seats for the fish tank. Negative: Buying furniture is a warning sign that you're becoming Grown Up. :(

The cat likes the new couch.

Monday, November 16, 2009


AAAaaahhhh! Can you believe it? As I said in the previous post, I haven't done a whole lot of honest-to-goodness racing this year. This past Saturday at Kletch Park, two women showed up, Lisa and Lindsey, and it was on. Lisa took off at the start, hanging onto Holly's wheel. I went at my own pace, not wanting to get going too quickly. That's right, I don't like to race cross races like a cross race.

Lindsey and I gradually caught up to Lisa and passed her. She hung out on the end of our train for most of the rest of the race. She would not be shaken! Shook? Shooken! Anyway, I lost track of how many laps we did, but it was plenty. (I think it was seven or maybe eight.) The race went like this, though: I had a little gap on Lindsey. She would catch up to me on the flats, and I would go as fast as I could, helter skelter, over the barriers where she was slower. On the hill I think we were about even.

I've been told a few times that it never looks like I'm racing. I'm mostly slackjawed and expressionless, so I put on my tough face for this one:


In the photo below, you can see Linday and Lisa behind me.


Anyway, maybe halfway through Lindsay caught up to me.

Long story short, I faked it. I was falling behind a little bit, maybe two yards or so, on the flats and then catching up all snug and tight on the barriers. (There's no doubt, if it hadn't been for the barriers, I would have gotten smoked.) I think I had just a little left, so I was 'faking it'- pretending that I felt Great and hoping to demoralize the competition. We were neck and neck for a while when she dropped back and I got a gap. Apparently, my ruse had worked.

I held that gap until about one to go, when it started closing. I kicked it in when I noticed, and held both Lindsay and Lisa, who was starting to come back up, off for the win. Ok, so it wasn't the win. But finally it felt like I had won something, that I had had good competition to duke it out with. I actually got on the podium, too, in third place.


You can't tell from the picture, but we're doing jazz hands.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Whitewater and Estabrook

Catching up on last weekend's last weekend's races. For a blog about bike racing I don't actually blog about bike racing much anymore...

Two Saturdays ago was Whitewater. I kind of like Whitewater. Most people hate it, or hate it so much they don't even go to it. I'd hazard to say that it's the hilliest course of the year. This year they made the lap a little longer and kind of broke up the hills into smaller, slightly less vicious climbs.

Whitewater is so hilly. How hilly it is?


That's the best photo I've got for illustrating the size of the hill you have to bike up and down. Anyway, I guess there's not much to say about the actual race. This whole year, two of my closer competitors have been out with injuries, leaving me to race against National level ladies. Needless to say, I've been just kind of trucking along, doing my own thing. In this race I would hit the hills, have a good time on them and then trudge around the rest of the course. As much as I like hills, they tire me out for the flats.

Photo by John.

On one of the later laps I took a beer handup by the barrier on the hill and wound up with another beer dumped over my head. Thanks for that, guys.

The other thing I like about Whitewater is the sand:


It was actually faster to get off and run your bike, like the guys are doing in the above photo, but I prefered to ride it, because I wasn't in any huge hurry and I liked the challenge.

Estabrook was on Sunday. Have I mentioned it was gorgeous out that whole weekend? Well, it was. For Estabrook, I knew I'd be out of the money so I planned to take a lap on the Cale's newly set-up Pugsley, which got more attention at the race than a fluffy puppy. And there was a fluffy puppy there, so I would know.

There was a little wrench thrown into the mix when there was actually someone there for me to race. While the top ladies were beating the pants off of me like they do, there was someone hanging out with me in the middle. I wanted to take a lap on the Pugsley, but I didn't want to look like I was bowing out of the race. Also, it wouldn't be fair to the other lady to be stuck in no-man's land with nobody to race. I decided to play it by ear- about halfway through or so, it seemed like I was pulling away from her. Since we'd both me in no-man's land soon anyway, I decided to take a lap.

What can I say about the lap on the Pugsley? Highly inefficient, in a word (or two). The plastic on the bottom of my shoes kept slipping on the metal flat pedals, and I had to bring a car jack to get it over the barriers. Ok, I made that up, but it is 36 lbs. The cool thing was, the grip around corners was amazing, because the tires are many inches wide.

When I got back, I found that one of my teammates had taken my cross bike from the pit and taken it back to the tent. After hollering from the pit and waving my arms around, one of the Planet Bike guys brought my bike over (phwew!) and I finished up the last four or five laps.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tour of Tosa

A couple of weekends ago Cale and I did the Tour of Tosa. For those not in the know, it's a true scavenger hunt with a time limit but no bonus for getting back early. Russell set it up so just about each team got a different set of instructions to follow, and then some general things to find, like a dog wearing a sweater. Our set of instructions sent us to almost all of the bridges in Wauwatosa, which is a lot. There, we had to find where Russell had posted a sign and then get a picture with a digital camera of the majority of the team by the sign.

Enough typin', more photos!

We were having fun and weren't in a huge hurry, so we stopped for lunch when we were scavengering 'two members of the team in a grocery cart'.

Other things we were after were a rubbing of a grave (earliest date won)...

...majority of the team in a human pyramid in a bus stop...

...and something not on the list at all, a picture of the team with a buck.

It was a great time, and I'm having trouble limiting the photos (all from Ronsta's Flickr), as you can tell. We didn't win, but none of us cared. Luckily, we weren't even in the top four teams! The top four (I think) competed in a figure 8 death race on bikes that had been found in dumpsters. It was dangerous, with more than a few crashes, and I hope everyone is current on their tetanus shots. I'm glad I wasn't a part of it, because watching it unfold had to be just as fun and a lot safer than actually competing in it!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Which we all know stands for Fix Or Repair Daily...

Are you all ready for the next chapter in this saga?

Yesterday I got the mail and what do I see but an envelope from Ford with the words SAFETY RECALL NOTICE printed on it. I got excited while I was opening it up, thinking maybe they'd decided to recall the whole thing, but alas.

This did catch my attention, though:
Until you have the recall service preformed, park your vehicle outdoors away from structures to prevent a potential fire from spreading.


Oh. Hm.

In case you've got a '96 Ranger and are starting to sweat, here's the recall item:
Ford cannot be confident that over many years in service, a speed control deactivation switch installed on your vehicle will not leak brake fluid, posing the risk of a fire. This condition may occur either when the vehicle is parked or when it is being operated.

Well, whatever. I'll make an appointment soon, but since it hasn't spontaneously combusted yet (and come on, it's highly unlikely), I'll just keep driving it. You can bet I'll be smelling for smoke, though.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Night

Halloween night, Cale and I went to a party with our friends Nick and Laurel. It was a really awesome party with extensive decorations and themed food. And there was Hammerschlagen in the dining room, too! All the costumes were imaginative and some were pretty involved. For instance, the hostess (below) was dressed as a hairless cat. She made the nipples from latex (homemade!) and the ears from pig ear chews. Apparently her dog wouldn't leave her alone while she was making the hat.

Also in the photo below is my costume, complete with pasties sewn onto the nude suit. I wore the beaded bra most of the time, but would let the pasties breathe every once in a while. Unfortunately, the headdress wasn't in effect during the party because of the low hanging cobwebs. Alas.

Hairless Cat Hostess

Nick and Laurel went as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (emphasis on Babe). Laurel had great makeup (it's what she does for a living) and made her tail, horns and ears out of a single piece of felt. I'm not going to make the comparison between that and Jesus feeding a whole table of people from one loaf of bread, but I'm just going to put it out there.

Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox

Cale went as a zombie, buying a costume so there was less work, and then later taking it apart and sewing the parts into some of his old clothes that he zombiefied. Less work, indeed.

Cale and I

Here, Aunt Jemima has a smoke and a Wheaties box poses for a picture.

Aunt Jemima lights up.

Wheaties Box

There was also a lovely rendition of Westley from The Pricess Bride (circa Fireswamp scene where his shoulder gets bitten) and a lion tamer. The lion tamer brought his puppy, who was wearing a lion costume. Cute.

After leaving the party, we were on our way to drop off Nick and Laurel when I spotted a group (gaggle? pack? murder?) of Tetris pieces. I pulled over (the four of us are in the cab of the truck, mind you) and we got a photo of all seven pieces interlocking.


After taking the photo one of them yelled, "Hey, can we get a ride? We can't fit in cabs!" After deliberating for like 1/10th of a second, we opened up the tailgate and seven Tetris and one sexy cop started piling in.

Seven Tetris and one sexy cop.

Very carefully, I drove the twelve of us (twelve! the truck was riding low.) down to Water Street, people honking and waving at us the whole way. All too soon, it seemed, the Tetris and sexy cop were piling out at a stoplight, with me yelling at Cale not to look up sexy cop's skirt from the back of the cab. "CALE!"

It was a good Halloween.

Salmon Run

A little over a week ago Cale and I went for a ride on the river trails. Cale was on his second or so ride on his new Niner. We just kind of took it easy, stopped to look at things and talk to people. On the West side of the river, we stopped to walk around on/in the weird installation someone set up by the dam (check it out). Cale walked out on the dam across the river while I poked around the installation some more. On the East side of the river, we ran into a bunch of guys fishing for salmon. Very lovely day.

Cale, Niner



View from the dam.