Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Wrap

2008 is almost gone. The weather continues to make cross-country skiing in New England, at least at lovely Notchview, a dicey proposition. Art can provide some color (Sol LeWitt pictured). Both might help you ignore Blago and his Paul Mitchell “football” (Burris is a TOOL), the practice of appointing senators, and the suspension of critical thought in light of personal gain demonstrated by Madoff investors, not to mention his lack of conscience. Power of profit motive to advance social good, from ecosystem services to microfinance, but we’ve also witnessed the worst of mismanagement and greed, as far as I can tell. Tell me the auto bailout doesn’t amount to picking winners… How about we invest in BetaMax? Or wait, here is a good idea, how about ethanol? Why is it news to base medicine on evidence? At least you can enjoy this series – not all newspapers are dead yet - including this one on the perils of scans, and not just from a cost-effectiveness standpoint. Tons of buzz about the work of Nicholas Christakis showing that health behaviors ranging from smoking to happiness to eating habits spread like contagions across social networks. Enviros clamor to present a united voice for Obama in this 391-pager. Green might be on the back burner what with recession and price of oil, or maybe not…. Green jobs, green infrastructure, two birds with one stone, co-benefits, service bundling, triple bottom line….Truth to the cliché of calling every hardship an “opportunity.” Word has it the new energy secretary Stephen Chu is a cyclist. Perhaps a cyclist sensibility will inform his work on this challenge. Self-pity I am not in Hawaii tempered by the weather reports from Fairbanks, with a high of -38 today. The bro reports on coal for home heating. He neglects health so check this out. One village in China burns such dirty coal that smoking is dwarfed as a lung cancer risk factor. Paterson proposes taxing soda for $400 million in revenue. Won’t solve diabetes in India but maybe in New York, plus make up for combusted Wall Street. Kelly Brownell gets his day. In biking news, the American cross racers are rocking in Europe. So cool. 2009 here we come!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Last minute trip to Kansas. Best ride of the year on Friday in the Masters 30, thanks to Tom Stevens's lines. Mediocre on Sunday on a hard dirt track with freezing hands, best gloves carelessly forgotten at the hotel given 60-degree temperature at departure, 3 hrs before our 25-degree race. Saturday's way-too-long ride, a circuitous route from course to hotel via international airport, featured some excellent farm scenery. Motivated to get strong again someday soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

USGP 2 - Hooking the Tape

Besides the fact that it was 45 degrees with 30mph wind gusts, the conditions were identical to yesterday's. I planned to have a better start today and give slightly lower tire pressure a shot, maybe stay on the bike longer since the running was so exasperating and since I felt I should have ridden more yesterday. I was psyched, then had a dismal start, then just kept on going backwards and hooking the tape and crashing, all day long. It was awful. I pretty much was having nil fun. Pictured: warm-up attire, the course conditions, and photo from the men's race, featuring former New Haven resident Chris Jones.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

USGP 1 - Slogging Through Muck

After a steady rain last night, today's forecast of a deluge with lightning did not pan out, unfortunately, so we raced through a maze of drying, bike-sucking Portland-esque mud under a cloudy sky at close to 70 degrees with barely a puddle to clean the bikes or offer a single fast line. I was not so good off the start and was quickly constrained in a mess of riders veering unpredictably sideways as they got caught in mud ruts. Found my way through this traffic, but that was it - I certainly was not moving forward. Had some battles mid way, including one with Rebecca, who noted "ah the Tom Stevens line!" during the race - and it was exactly that - the twice-as-far but dry line that traversed back and forth across the muddy rut. Then I tried to ride a swampy ditch and toppled over, still clipped in. Probably safe to say 50% of the time in the race, and really maybe even more, was spent running. It just seemed ugly - either I was heaving my way riding through mud with my upper body rocking violently, or I was gasping for air pushing my bike for minutes on end. Bike changes twice a lap. We raced 3 laps- maybe 10k? Or less? Average speed was maybe 5mph? The epically-long sandpit turned out the be the easiest part of the course. Apply power on pavement? That was the single opportunity to recover! Mo Bruno rocked the race, dancing her way to 3rd place! Teammates not too shabby either. I was 16th not bad since I did what I could but those +1 places, especially just out of the money, are always a bit irksome.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

USGP Approaches

The blog is black again, whatever that means - stealth and speed! Did not fly across the country with a double bike bag, but how does bike commuting to school in a deluge then spending 5 hours in an overly air-conditioned building wearing soaking wet pants, socks, and shoes compare? So tired and with such chilled feet at the end of the day that I inadvertently gave away $1 million in a mock negotiation. Heard Andy Revkin last night, think I might need to start a blog on issues of environment, health, and energy. Some buzz at school with professor Dan Esty on the transition team and on some short lists for EPA director. Psyched to race the USGP this weekend, give that sand pit a try. New derailleur hanger plus a hair cut so I am set to go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adversity Found in Toronto

The hunt for UCI points (to maintain a good starting position for when I do get stronger), the appeal of a new adventure, and aversion to the unbearably long New Jersey Turnpike trek to Beacon resulted in a last-minute road trip to Toronto with Rebecca. The race promoters were infinitely helpful, setting us up with host housing and helping our crazy plan materialize over a matter of hours. The Centennial Park venue rocked. Saturday the course was a mix of power sections and lots of grassy corners fast mucking up, plus a dirt ride-up. A few puddles grew progressively deeper. Warming up I was reluctant to test one puddle, given 40-degree temperatures, instead just watched repeated masters riders endo spectacularly to try to gauge the line. Off the gun I was pretty good – I had horsepower for the first time all year!!!! I closed to the third place rider but by then I was cursing myself for a loosening saddle, unsure whether to pit given Josie on my tail. Didn’t pit, and rode differently to avoid total saddle malfunction, but maybe a mistake as I fell back to 5th. But it was a very hopeful ride. I was disappointed I didn’t ride that puddle. I picked the method that was 100% effective and pretty slow versus the method that’s fast 70% of the time, disastrous 30% of the time, but maybe I gauged these odds wrong. It was just a puddle. Sunday’s course featured muddy switchbacks on the side of an alpine ski slope. I would have loved a compact (especially given that muscular strength is my big limiter right now) but found myself riding in a quality 4th place coming off the first climb. Then I ate it in downhill corner, cracking my derailleur hanger. Got a bike once I made it to the pit, but I had fallen out of the race. I wasn’t gong to gain much time riding up those switchbacks at 30rpm. Plus I had gotten overzealous on the low tire pressure and was scrubbing speed into any fast corners for fear of rolling a tire. So it was a bit of letdown – but exciting in the broader context. Natasha Eliot is rocking this year. On to New Jersey! Pictured: Sunday's slope-side course. Oh and check out this NYT story, and few photos of the puddle and live-action endoing here.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Race report between FiveThiryEight and realclearpolitics: There’s no such thing as the friendly local UCI race this year. Lots of people are racing super fast, and suddenly pack racing and tactics are playing out in even hometown races like Northampton. Not to mention the 70-strong B field chomping at the bit, packed with riders who would be giving us all a run for our money if they had only thought to buy a $150 UCI license a few months sooner. Pretty awesome even while I hope to finish better than 8th one of these days. You run what you brung and so it was. Saturday I missed the first selection off that fast quick start into the gravel holeshot corner, but was close for a bit, feeling comfortable until I wasn’t, and then the race was riding away further and further away. It sounded pretty exciting – a battle into the steep ride-up and through the barriers to settle the podium spots. Sunday I had a better start, made the right call to run the sandpit on lap one, then approached the ride-up behind someone who bobbled and lost contact with the front group. It’s hard to follow anyone up that steep ride-up, and I was happy with my choice to go up that in the 44 but not that lap. On following laps, duking it out with Amy Wallace, she was killing me in the sandpit riding as I ran, but then eventually I blew and she dumped me there. But then she slowed and I closed again – it was a quality battle. I switched to riding the sandpit, much preferring not to have to get off the bike. I can use a lesson in crossing those railroad tracks sans drama. The usual suspects tearing it up, plus Mackenzie back in action. No shortcuts but hoping to get stronger asap. Do you think an appeal to patriotism will help? Next stop looks like Highland Park. Still debating Beacon's Amphitheatre of Pain given that long haul and just not going well enough to justify the enticing trek to Toronto. New photos from rockstar Mark Suprenant. Start, the fateful sandpit decision, and pedaling 30rpm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Today marked day one of maximizing not racing in Kentucky: doing homework; organizing papers, bike parts, and clothes; rearranging furniture; cleaning the car; replacing the saddle on my commuter bike (pictured); doing core work at the gym; going for a pedal up my local hill; and even writing a few postcards. And drinking tea. I wish I could zip my way out to the Bay Area Halloween Race this weekend (or is it next?) - seems like a cross classic not to be missed. Racing in animal feet with tiaras etc. Following that election, hoping people (well, those voting for my candidate...) don't get lazy and forget to vote. Get that done and start solving these economic woes. Bike racer me rejoices in low gas prices; enviro me bemoans the loss of incentive for renewables.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beyond my Shadow Podium

Mental framing of the race weekend far superior to last week! I recovered from an entire week of grouchiness and falling behind with life and raced what I think were my best races. I was in the mix - in fifth and almost thinking I could make it up to the front - for a short while both days, then fell back to 8th. Sure I made some errors (lame on Granogue descent), but I rode solidly and I just think I am 8th-place strong right now. I sure wish I were faster. I hate listening to the announcers call the race ahead of me, with racers/friends I normally consider my peers/rivals duking it out while I am just doing my own thing missing out on all the fun and drama. That said, New Englanders Rebecca and Mo are riding superbly, Dee Dee has not missed a step with the new kid, and LVG has absolutely raised the bar with her awesome leap into cross. Still 7 weeks to go... I traveled down from CT to Granogue with Utah teammate Kathy Sherwin, who is also on her way back from injury (a mangled broken hand that cut short a breakout mountain bike season). She is doing a better job keeping recovery perspective, holding onto the gratitude of just being able to race again, mindful that it's a long process to rebuild the confidence and fitness you had before. Not to mention that it's nice to experience the outsider's wide-eyes, to travel with someone who actually has excitement for crossing the GW Bridge (for the first time!), to be excited for someone's first experience of the awesome venue of Granogue (even while she then proceeds to kick my butt on the bike...) We stayed with my college friend Andrew (cousin of Dee Dee) and hashed out the implications of our Myers-Briggs typings for our racing endeavors and the perpetual puzzle of the racing-work-life juggle. Good fun. All except the drive home. Pictured: shadow podium at Wissahickon (I won), real podium at Wissahickon (I wish), the fork I broke driving under a tree branch arriving at a race two years ago - reminder to avoid frazzle, my cracked bleeding finger burn in essential shifting spot - I am skipping Kentucky so it can heal, should have taken 287 on the way home, that GW Bridge, and Kathy at Granogue.

Perfect Storm in Gloucester

Had to skip the race coverage on this one I was so abysmal. Saturday I was ok for a while, then gave up. By the end I was just gunning it into the sandpit for kicks not caring much if I had a big yardsale. Sunday I probably raced my best race possible and that's all you can do, but I sure miss racing in the fun part of the race.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

LXN Junkie

Watched the VP debate on the big screen at school (bad idea as I was exhausted all day Friday). Pictured following the live pundrity on computer. Not to be divisive, but how do you like my socks?

And a bike...

Blog has been so sorely lacking in pictures but no excuses! This one thanks to Mark Suprenant. Vermont is such a star. Relaxing weekend at home storing up on travel energy and doing schoolwork. Yale ride this morning. The racing bonanza begins soon!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Vermont: Grumpy and Satisfied

I was psyched for the mud but given unmatched wheelsets and lack of a pit crew beyond the good will of friends, to my relief the 2008 New England Verge Series kicked off this weekend in Vermont with a surprising lack of deluge! Tentative about my fitness, aware of capacity to blow up, I started very conservatively Saturday. Combine this with the fact my body was feeling pretty shut down, even at the Wednesday training race, and there you have me in about 20th place off the line. I started passing people, but the first time up the dirt BMX hummocks, a rider dismounted right in front of me, forcing me to run and lose about 4 spots. I swear unless you are riding a 46-tooth chainring, getting up this is about timing and conserving momentum. For a long time I was riding around in about 11th place, chasing the pack of 5-10. By the last lap I had actually opened up and was gaining ground. In 7th and hoping to make a run for 5th, I was forced to run the hummocks again, then the rider crashed right in front of me. I hit a foot-high rock obscured by grass head-on, astonished I had not wrecked my wheel (nice goose egg on the shin instead). Two riders flew by. At this point there was smoke coming out my ears. I recovered two places, using not the best of manners to secure the front position into the final barriers. Teammate Amy rode away, followed by cross newcomer Lea Davison, then Rebecca, Mo, and Amy Wallace. Sunday I told myself I would start hard and so what if I blew. Started in 4th and finished in 4th, just a solid ride with no mistakes even if I wasn't railing it around the corners. That's more like it. Lovely to be back in Vermont! Pictured: chasing Rebecca Wellons. I could keep up on I-89...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The New Green

Cycling is a small world that exists and thrives on mutual support, even as we race fiercely. In this vein, check out the launch of Mo and Matt's new team, MM Racing, at Wheelworks on Friday, October 3rd from 7-10 pm. They will be unveiling a new title sponsor and conducting a raffle. Come enjoy beer from Harpoon and prizes from Embrocation Magazine, Chinook, Michelin, Mad Alchemy Embrocations, Pedros, Bowchies, the Atomic Cafe and a rapidly growing list. You can buy raffle tickets on Get ready for some mud this weekend in Vermont! Fantastic field: the usual suspects, Canadians and even some West Coasters, lots of strong newcomers, and much-missed racers returning to cross after other adventures. Pack the rubber boots!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fogelsville Cross: I am in the Mix!

With the Portsmouth/Suckerbrook doubleheader out of the question, I opted for a UCI race in Pennsylvania that was just as close as New Hampshire (if hell traffic could be avoided). I figured the field would like be as deep or less so than at Suckerbrook, that there would be fewer people against whom I would benchmark myself, and that maybe just maybe I could pick up some UCI points. I was very nervous. Because of this long break, I feel a bit like a stranger in this sport that is extremely familiar to me, even though the pre-race parking lot abounds with friendly hellos, catching up with Velo Bella teammates and crew, and seeing photos of - even meeting - new babies. Aspects of it seem strange, as well as repeated, like the conversation “Do you think it’s better to run or ride the sandpit…” Sometimes this outsider perspective can give you the sense of humor about the sport you need. In 2005, when I took a big break from cross then returned for the final Rhode Island weekend, I remember laughing (with affection) at my Gearworks teammates as they stressed over whether to race in leg or knee warmers. This is bike racing – it’s supposed to be fun! I was nervous about my fitness but more nervous that I would be afraid, not have my head around racing, not enjoy it. My plan was to ride easy off the start, then try to do the last few laps faster if I had it in me. Off the start, my main incentive for giving it any juice at all was to avoid crashing. Mo was quickest and got a gap, but I was there. And surprisingly, I was there for the first 2.5 laps of the race – riding with my teammate Dee Dee (back from having a second child) and cross upstart Laura van Gilder (welcome!) in the group sitting 2nd, 3rd, 4th and closing on leader Mo. The course was all grass, twisty with lots of up and down, a barrier set and a sandpit – much less technical than the mountain-bikey Farmington. Mechanic Morgan was there in the pit, issuing supportive words. I was hardly technically fantastic but I could feel myself gaining a sense of balance on the bike and was having fun. For those 2.5 laps I felt utterly comfortable, even while I tried to avoid standing up and accelerating at all costs, given fitness limitations. I did overextend though, and experienced some going backwards mid-race, falling out of the group and riding in for 4th. Dee Dee, Melanie, and I will need to play our cards better this season, use our numbers to out-fox van Gilder since there is no way we will outsprint her. No free rides! So while now I am left thinking “If I had not spent this one match (I went to the front a few times when Dee Dee and I had a gap on LVG), maybe I could have stuck in that group, maybe I could have fought for the win (LVG takes it)….” But then I remember the goals of the race, the context and I think with excitement and relief, “sweet, I am in the mix and getting stronger.” On to Vermont. Pictured: recovery dinner and dinner for my aunt's dog. I almost collapsed at the dinner table, that's how tired I was.

Jones is back

Planning this weekend trip to Fogelsville Cross, caught up with details such as subjecting dear Bob to gluing tubulars (only to get new wheelsets a week from now) from a disorganized collection that appears to be 50% tires with slow leaks, I failed to recognize the potential for excellent closure on this injury. I had made plans to stay with my Advil teammate Reem in New Jersey. Letting myself in, a cat peaked through the door – it sure looked like Jones, the 16-year-old cat gone missing on Memorial Day weekend when I was last here, presumed dead. And it was! As I looked around the house I started to remember, hey the last time I was here was right after the broken leg, hanging out as my teammates raced Somerville, lying on this couch elevating my leg, hauling myself backwards up the stairs, and reading about conservation finance (this is the coping mechanism of immersing oneself in work). We went to Whole Foods, the site of my first big empowering outing with racing friends who picked me up and drove me and my car back home. This time I was running down the isles to pick up forgotten yogurt. Reem and I went for an excellent spin on surprisingly rural roads. This year I think I might adopt the “Friday ride once you get there” strategy, as though you just flew in. It was closure on my short unrealized road season too, and so nice to catch up with Reem. Advil won’t be around next year. Such is the tide of racing and sponsorship, but Reem, Mara and Heather outght to feel great pride in what they built and accomplished. Thanks to all the individuals and sponsors who made it happen this year. This morning I’m enjoying an excellent cup of coffee at my aunt’s, who reminded me it had been a long time since she’d seen me, after I canceled on Memorial Day weekend. So there we are, splicing complete. Onward!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dose of Cross

Turns out the Winding Trails Wednesday night series is a full-on race, with numbers, singletrack and trails, off-cambers, barriers into run-ups, a log obstacle, and lots of sandy corners! I rode around a bit and thought "yikes, what have I gotten myself into!" First time really on the cross bike, first time offroad... In spite of being quite hurried in the parking lot due to Hartford rush hour, I switched to my loosest set of Crank Brothers pedals. I probably made a bad call as an athlete - I had two alternate workouts, one a microburst of linked mini-sprints and the other this cross race - and pretty much ended up doing both. They tended to different needs: the microburst I'm crediting for recent gains in fitness and the fact that a single hard effort does not doom me as it did just three weeks ago, but the cross workout essential too to test the leg and begin the process of becoming smooth and confident on the bike. Plus so often these Wednesday things are not really races, but people riding around practicing. So I ended up training on the road, then jumping into the car for the cross race, intending to roll around and practice barriers. Then all of a sudden I was pinning on a number and signed up for a 45-minute race. Warming up I was delighting in the fact I will be using compact cranksets this year for cross - I was so overgeared - and at this point in my recovery I can generate any power at all due to cadence not force. On the line, I reluctantly started on the front row. I was quick off the line somehow (probably due to gear selection) and 50m into the race, the lead rider slid out and crashed in the holeshot corner and there I was third or fourth wheel, nowhere to go and airbone. While flying, I made note to unclip. Bike was a bit messed up - welcome to cross - but I got back on, a bit freaked out ("um, ok, good to get that first crash out of the way..."), and rolled around for a few laps. When the guys came around lapping me I put in a few efforts to stick. Gradually I gained some confidence and by the end I was smiling negotiating the sand and remembering the lines through the roots as dusk arrived.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Live from New Haven

Neglected this blog (too busy watching Tina Fey) but it lives. GMSR-preventing events have settled and everyone is well, but when a race is just for training it did not make sense. I even got to see the brother unexpectedly, who arrived from Alaska where he reports on state politics on the day of the Palin pick. He said he had not ridden a road bike in 8 months, just spent 3 weeks with legs cooped up in a kayak, and there he was on my hard day, challenging on the hills on my time trial bike! I was really hoping he was fit... Also in the department of unexpected positives, I attended a friend's annual birthday party that I've missed a number of times since the inaugural one 26 years ago. School started in a frenzy, reminding me of the blessing and curse of having an effective overdrive mode. The pace is a stark contrast to my recovery existence, but energizing. On the bike, after training in a vacuum, I returned to the Yale ride to find myself feeling significantly more like a bike rider, the baby kangaroo jump growing. I am looking to cross with optimism and trepidation in maybe equal parts. Wednesday I will try it out in a training race (this is not the year to repeat my first-time-on-cross-bike-as-race habit). The doubleheader of Suckerbrook and Portsmouth Crit that the promoters magnificently arranged so it's possible to race both in a single day bonanza is going to be too much for me this year, regrettably. No world record attempts, in fact I'll be "racing sick," guarding those matches like never before. Less is more this year, with travel and training, quality over quantity, that is the plan!

Friday, August 29, 2008


Life happens and I won't be racing GMSR this year. Not part of a calculated strategy to enter cross as complete wild card, but let's pretend it is. Such an awesome race; good luck to all.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The New NRC: No Ridiculous Cost / Carbon Emissions / Country-Crisscrossing

In addition to my sharp friends, even cyclingnews is evaluating what the NRC really means these days. Easy for me to sit back and criticize from my armchair of injury, but it sure seems that there have been few races where all the big guns duked it out. Notable exceptions would be the recent road and crit nationals (well, minus Olympians): and power to Brooke Miller who won both plus Jen McRae who pulled off 4th and 3rd. But even the Women's Prestige Series (and again, hats off to Aaron's for their awesome sweep of the series) seemed more dilute than last year, with a one-day crit replacing Tour de Toona, noticeably missing Webcor and other West Coast teams. OK EVERYONE did seem to be at Nature Valley, crashing on wet manhole covers in a field of 150 when PEI would have been much better racing... I've thought before of a series built on great races that support the women's field - because some promoters really do go out on a limb to do things like offer equal prize money, then find their events barely attended - but what is the new $4-a-gallon gasoline/"economic downturn" bike racing? I am sure the sport will rally but it sure sounds as though a lot of teams are folding, that things are looking a bit dire. Maybe it really is the old school approach, the Alison Dunlap/Katie Compton cyclocross approach, the aspiring "pro" approach, the less is more, where you hone your skills locally, the level of regional racing rises, and you hit the big races in your area and if you are ready, the BIG glorious races nationally. In New England for instance, we can do pretty well with Battenkill, Hilltowns, Bear Mountain, Fitchburg, Thater, Green Mountain, Housatonic Hills (ok what am I forgetting), then zipping up to Montreal to pretend we are in Europe. No news here but maybe racing is going grass roots, or should.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ze 5 Minute Blog

This blog is really turning to drivel but the last entry was so boring I have to add another. I will note that others are racing in the Olympics and at road and crit Nationals, riding tandems across the country, and kayaking in the Arctic circle near the Brooks range. Not to mention live coverage of synchronized diving and beach volleyball. How much rather would I watch even pistol shooting or weightlifting, not to mention soccer or rowing? Training away here. Take note I have even improved my epic hill ride, adding 15-minute dirt climb! Riding with a power ceiling so doing some quality 50rpm climbing, good for these weak legs. No joke; I honestly think I might handcycle faster than I can ride now. You try it - take your perfectly healthy leg and put it in a walking cast for 7 weeks and see what happens. Still at the gym, not yet bringing my own gallon jug of water (evidently the true sign of status) or drinking raw eggs for breakfast. Next stop GMSR, a good quality sufferfest!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tour of the Hilltowns!

There is method to my madness of showing up at one of New England's most challenging races when I absolutely lack race fitness! First, I am going to have a bit of fear jumping back in the pack and would like to get this out of the way as soon as possible, so I can actually race my bike a bit at Green Mountain. I would much rather race Hilltowns, with a flat/downhill first 20 miles that I thought I could hang for followed by a decisive 3-mile climb at mile 20 that shatters the field into groups than a race based on a top end (of which I have none) or a race to every corner. Ideally I would be able to ride at the front for the flat part, ride my own climb and hopefully have a bit of company since I still have some threshold power, then ride in a paceline in a small group. It would be a good test for the leg. And well, mission accomplished! I just about got blown out the back early in the race with one fast surge, but descended at the front since there is so little to be gained by racing this section, then watched everyone surge up the start of the climb, and pedaled my way up from last place, catching a few people, then rode in with a terrific little group quite understanding of my limitations! I was completely dragging by the end, struggling just to maintain 150 watts, and there were massive hills on the course that had not been there last year, but it was awesome. My leg only started to knot up once, but it recovered and did fine with the bumps and standing up. Great to see everyone too. Hats off to the other Anna M. Now I get to go home and train! Pictured: A clean bike is a fast bike, or at least a clean bike.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cat 4

When I was a kid, I used to tease my brother, who was fanatical about biking and the Tour, by shouting "biker!" whenever a cycle-tourist rolled past our house. He'd race to the living room window, expectations deflated when someone mosied by in full blaze yellow. We still say it. Back on the bike, and in New Haven where drivers on cell phones in SUVs race you to every red light, I am now happily wearing my blaze yellow vest. My Achilles/calf is slowly limbering up from rubber-band status, the switch from Shimano to super-loose Crank Brothers pedals is working and I felt able to spin today. I can begin to imagine pedaling hard, even standing up, not so far from now. Not quite Hilltowns-worthy... In the meantime, I am trying to learn how to swim better. I watched this video of an Olympic 50m free, laughing at the idea of it as instructional video and at the boxer-like posturing of these sprinters. This one that seemed a bit better. Or you could try to recover like Dara Torres. Swimming, resistance stretching, physio ball, they are all refreshingly new.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Way to go Leg!

Quick because I am going pedaling but doctor's appointment today and I AM OUT OF THE BOOT! X-rays showed "a surprising amount of new bone formation." I can do everything except go running, but even that I can probably start in a month or so. Way to go leg! That's more like it! The straight-talking x-ray tech didn't disappoint (last time she told me I was in the "baby stages of healing"), exclaiming "wow! look at how much muscle you've lost!" Wow indeed and that's the next project but hurray for now. Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Update from Training Camp

My recovery is suddenly getting fun and interesting, a project to reinvent myself improved. I seem to be done with the freak-out period after those mediocre x-rays, now I am being less drastic in adding new activity (my recovery has been filled with overdoing it, then backing off) and starting to see some gains. One endeavor has been, in the words of a friend, "working on my physique." I have a New Haven friend to thank for the lifting, since after an unsuccessful too-early foray to the gym, when just the walking involved with Yale's expansive gym proved excessive, I was ready to give it up. But he urged me to try again, after more healing, and the routine of working out in the gym around motivated people, followed by a nice time in a coffee shop, that was priceless. Since then I have been doing upper body lifting and core strength three times a week. The gym here in the Berkshires is great, and funny. It's me and a bunch of retirees, some of whom are really fit and some who are not. Power to them. One guy was sitting on a weight machine completely absorbed in a library book (a guide to camping). I said "looks engaging," to which he replied "yeah, tough to get the lifting done!" Others are lifting in khaki pants. But we are all in the same boat and this group has been supportive. I am also thankful to the office for storing my race bike, which enabled mobility, huge given that I've been "house-sitting" or whatever you call it - watering plants and picking the flowers off the cilantro plants in the garden - this week at my mom's with no readily available rides by car. I'm going to build up an old cross bike as a commuter bike, put a rack and panniers on. I was finally allowed to swim at the six week mark, and it was fantastic, free to be boot-less in water. I was also happily shocked to see I can actually swim, though I still make note of "swam this far without stopping," as though I wrote in my training log "rode one hour without stopping!" All this is good but I sure hope the bone is healing. I find out tomorrow. This morning I am riding down into Connecticut where I can get a ride back to New Haven (should be nice to visit my life) - actually a sizable ride, so I hope everything feels good. Nice job New Englanders at Fitchburg!

Friday, June 27, 2008

AND BIKING!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


My brother continues to hike, tele-ski, and snowboard above Juneau. I have been hiking too! Oh, and someone designed a cardboard bike.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Leg is the Center of the Universe Part VI

I made it to yesterday's three-week checkpoint embracing the new policy of extreme rest and "don't make yourself crooked." I was pretty sure that the proscribed three weeks more in the cast for a normal person would be two weeks more for me. Instead my x-ray looks shockingly like it did three weeks ago - a broken bone with a diagonal gap between sections that actually grew. The x-ray techs, Oz-like speaking from behind a screen while looking at my x-ray, after a conversation about how they were prohibited from opinions, said "fracture" one to the other, then to me "how long has it been?" - "three weeks" - then a relieved (and ominous) "oh, you are still in the baby stages of healing!" My orthopedist is not worried, points to some evidence of new bone growth and reminds me the fibula is the source of bone grafts, but he upped his tune now to four more weeks in this walking cast. But again he says ride, that it will even help. Still highly skeptical, but my anti-crooked policy is out the window and I am going pedaling. I hope it hells fast too, or at least hells.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It is hot outside. I watched Black Robe about a Jesuit missionary traveling up the St. Lawrence in the 1600s and want to go on a canoe trip. Forget Nature Valley, take me to the Boundary Waters and let me sleep outside. I am resting this silly leg. I am restless. I have been inside too long but like I said it is hot outside. Played bridge and tweaked my leg walking on a dirt driveway. Ate some yogurt. Since I did not buy it, I am not sure how expensive it was though it was not wheat or corn. Read up on ecosystem services and transfer of development rights. Iced my leg. Drank some ice water. Made a phone call. Maybe I will learn the new camera. Or call in lost frequent flyer miles. Or do something edifying like learn to crochet. Is bike racing just going to grind to a halt as a result of fuel costs? Should it if we are causing a global food crisis? Photo credit. And talking bike racing: how about Jen McRae's 4th place at Philly?!!!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

And playing Scrabble...

The racing expression "don't try so hard" likely applies also to recovery. With a lot of wise advice, I think I finally came around. I had been pedaling a bit with the boot but honestly it's awkward and the more I hear the more I am concerned about assymmetry injuries. The return on riding is pretty low right now. Better to heal the bone and come back when I can pedal normally. So I will be relaxing (and engaging in academic thoughts) as I root for the team at a boiling-hot Philly and strive to have my bone fully healed at the three-week checkpoint (rather overly optimistic but who knows!). In the back of my head I am trying to remember how exhausted I felt in early November of last year, when after tanking at Chainbiter, I almost didn't even show up for the Northampton Cross. With regard to chocolate and waffles this December, this might be just perfect. Ok not perfect...but not terrible!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Watching Ants

Walking back from yesterday’s expedition to Romeo and Caesar’s market down the block, where I sat outside and read and talked to strangers with time on their hands, I stopped to rest. Hanging over the crutches, I noticed the sidewalk was bustling with ants, and watched them for a few minutes. It has been a while since I have watched ants, and it’s probably good for me. My land conservation research has been very engaging, given me some ideas of what life could involve post-school, and there are definite benefits to an absence of distractions as far as productivity goes. Rather than considering this a vacation, I am considering it a chance to earn adventurous time later: late season racing with no tasks looming, cross season with a thesis largely finished, perhaps even a trip to Alaska… I do love Scrabble and without question am grateful to remember the pleasure of reading actual books, but most of what I enjoy tends to involve my leg. Keeping busy is also an obvious strategy to avoid getting bummed. I go back and forth, experiencing sea changes in how long I think it will be before I can bring some reasonable fitness to a race. I am well aware of the driven athlete's tendency to rush recovery with negative consequences, but this broken fibula is a pretty weird injury. The fibula is not a weight-bearing bone, but the attachment site of a lot of muscles going from the calf to the foot. It rotates with ankle flexing. So the treatment for a broken fibula is to immobilize the ankle, but pretty much anything else is fair game, including walking and pedaling on the trainer. Sounds crazy to me too, riding a bike with a broken leg, but with my orthopedist’s encouragement I gave it a try. Not going to win any time trials averaging 82 watts for half an hour, but my leg felt good! In other news: rooting for my team racing in Montreal’s Grand Tour (wishing I were there but not missing racing at night), eagerly awaiting Philly, and it is clearly time to ditch the crutches before I ran any more toes from my non-injured food into them. Until the new camera arrives, my leg!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Maybe I will even read a novel

Immense thanks for all the kind wishes and support. These last few days have been eye-opening. Until now, my lifetime injury list consisted of tendonitis, a broken pinky finger and a broken thumb, various ailments requiring RICE, and a few miscellaneous injuries with amusing titles such as "housemaid's knee" and "gamekeeper's thumb." Even so I thought I got what it meant to be injured, but OH NO NO. Now I am experiencing a life of sitting still, of asking for a lot of help, of strategic transportation planning across my apartment, of feeling empowered by small accomplishments such as taking a shower or going grocery shopping, and of fatigue making me vulnerable to frustration at mishaps such as smashing a glass across the kitchen floor. That said, in just a few days I will file these experiences away and be walking around ably (even pedaling on the trainer, according to the orthopedist) in this air cast! I have a diagonal fibular break with a 3mm gap that should heal perfectly well, but it might take a while. Word is 3 weeks wearing this cast all the time, then if x-rays show the bone fusing well, 3 more weeks in the cast but spared wearing it at night. I fully intend to heal in 75% of the time of a normal person and be back racing in July, but whether that's Fitchburg on the 3rd or Altoona on the 27th remains to be seen. For now count these blessings/opportunities: I can get a lot of work done on my thesis; my summer job, arranged with geographic flexibility for racing, also matches perfectly with sitting in bed; Yale has a shuttle service for the disabled and injured that will take me anywhere in New Haven (I won't be driving for the duration of this, atoning my carbon footprint); I will get to see non-racing friends I rarely see; and I can do some strategic planning as far as career and school. In the spirit of the weekend's unspectacular-but-consequential accident theme, I dropped my camera on the couch Sunday and broke the lens, so for now, a photo from the archive. This one is from the blooming desert in Tucson.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bike Jam

Trying to be patient waiting for the field sprint yesterday at Bike Jam, I got lazy with positioning in a very sketchy field. Two people spontaneously crashed right in front of me on a straightaway, and just like that I have a broken fibula (the skinny bone in the lower leg). The break is not bad as this injury goes and I am looking toward a fast recovery. But what timing, just as I seem to be finding some legs, just as school ends and stress flies off my back, just as all the most exciting races arrive (Montreal WC, Grand Tour, Philly, Nature Valley...) I will find the opportunity in this somewhere.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back in Action at the Wilmington Grand Prix

Travel to Wilmington left a bit to be desired: 7hrs to cover 200 miles in an all-time NYC traffic epic. Found my way to the host house, eventually joined by our tuxedoed host and sprinters traveling by air who arrived at 3am. The team was here in force! Jen, Brenda, Heather, Reem, me (maybe in force...). Here is the race story: controlled the race, looking to set Jen up for the finish on a windy rectangular course. At one point had the ideal numbers-up of me off the front then Jen covering Laura van Gilder bridging up, but the move got squelched. Jen took charge and went off the front. I missed LVG's inevitable bridge, chased hard but just set up a bridge by unknown Juice Plus rider Laura McCaughey. She sat on LVG and Jen for the extent of the break, but we were pretty happy with the odds and kept things together. Heather paced Brenda back up after they got caught behind a crash. McCaughey, who turns out to be an Australian national track champion, outfoxed Jen and LVG and took the win. Jen got second - she is fast. I led out the sprint but did not hook up with Brenda so she ended up 8th, me 11th. I gave Erica Allar a really nice lead-out. 20-20 hindsight says be more aggressive, get me out there then have Jen sit on LVG's bridge... Photos: happy team, greenhouse of orchids, a tour of a microbrewery and Delaware history lesson, and one rider's broken fork that luckily held through the extent of the race. To clarify: this chunk was not actually missing as pictured during the race as a result of the crash, but was effectively missing since it easily pulled out after. Scary.