Thursday, January 9

Winter Ramblings

We are knee deep in winter and it's hard to find motivation for just about everything these days. By mid December I had decided that I was going to take a week off of the bike and just relax. Well, a week turned into three and now I'm finally back in it. Of course during my time off I had a week and a half of vacation time, Christmas, New Years, and a trip out of town with Erik for what I would classify as an eating vacation. Actually, it's safe to say the whole three weeks had been one big eat fest. Usually I am pretty good about moderation but by News Years I found myself a little uncomfortable with how things fit. Luckily once work started back up last week and I was back in my usual routine things quickly evened out.

The worst part is that my cycling fitness took a nose dive. I'm working my way back with 30 HARD minutes on the trainer every night this week and will bump it up every week until the season starts. The goal is to avoid burnout and mindless spinning so that I will actually want to get on my bike every evening. I've been working my way through one of my favorite shows,  The Gilmore Girls while I ride and it keeps me occupied enough to forget that my lungs are burning.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming race season and it will be nice not to have to be so nervous for races this year because I'm no longer clueless about everything. My first race was terrifying. The weeks leading up to it I had this fear that I would be a lot and that I would crash...or cry...or do something stupid. My first race was a circuit race and I remember pulling into the parking lot with Erik and declaring that I was ready to go home. All I saw were the riders in matching kits riding their uber fancy bikes on their trainers in the parking lot.

In my years of soccer the thing I hated most was warming up. Sure, it's important, but it was my least favorite activity. When I saw riders riding hard on their trainer I knew I was out of my league. Trainers belong indoors, in front of your TV, or at least that is what I thought. Who really wants to lug their trainer to a race? I have enough trouble moving mine in my own house, let along stuffing it in my car!

Erik finally convinced me that I needed to get out of the car and get checked in. I had my paper US cycling license in hand, since the official one had yet to arrive and I made my way to the front of the line. The person checking in the Cat 4 woman asked me my team name to which I must have gave one very confused look to since I had no idea cycling had teams...unless you were in the Tour De France. I signed the waiver and was given a bib and instructions on where to put it and made my way back to the car.

It was a chilly day so I was dressed in a pair of Under Armor fleece lined tights and a Under Armor long sleeve compression shirt with the only cycling jersey I owned (Kenda Tires). After a few laps around the course it was time for the race to start. The cat 4 men started 1 minute ahead of us and then we lined up. I lined up near the back, the only one without a teammate, and gave Erik a look like "OMG WTF AM I DOING!?" and then we were off. The first lap wasn't bad and I made my way up the front of the pack and stayed up there for a few laps...and then the leaders took off and I stayed with the main pact and then some people were dropped and I ended up alone. At one point I dropped my chain when I was shifting and had pulled off to the side of the road to try and fix it. It was jammed, but luckily the mechanic car pulled over and the mechanic was able to get me going again.

At that point I had lost any chance of any real placement but oddly I was having fun...I would climb up the hill near the finish smiling...just happy to be out on my bike and not completely sucking.

I actually ended up joining my team that day which turned out to be a really great move for the rest of the season. I learned that you don't have to be some super awesome amazing cyclist to join a team. A team in a way is like instant friends at races which is nice when you only know the person you came with. At my next race with my new team jersey people would come up and introduce themselves and it was really helpful and I could even ask them my stupid questions like "where does the bib go?" because it turns out this is actually important.

I'm excited for this upcoming season...I just need to get my butt in gear and back on my bike! My new bike is resting comfortably, off the trainer, but once the weather shapes up and the salt is cleared off the road I am sure it will be a blast to be out on the roads again!

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