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.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The View from the Launch

There is some threshold between optimism and delusion, one that with 20-20 hindsight I failed to recognize while curled in bed Tuesday with some food poisoning / stomach flu, sleeping 14 hrs. Wednesday morning a friend at school, watching me struggle to walk down the street carrying a bag of exam blue books, asked if it were a good idea to race. I almost reassessed, but I had been looking forward to Joe Martin all year. The courses suited me, we had a good team including Sue, and because of Mt. Hood this would be a race where Advil-Chapstick could be a real force. I rallied somewhat for the time trial, and I guess I should be pleased with 10th given the circumstances, but I wasn't. On day two I was struggling mightily at the back of the tiny field before the racing even got hard, and by mile 20 I was off the back on a flat part, depleted and going backwards. Tim pulled around after maybe three miles and I got in the van, having lost six minutes already. It was pretty awful, but I was not going to repeat El Salvador. The team has been racing well, but yesterday is one everyone is second guessing. Trying to conserve and doubtful a break would succeed, the team let Cheerwine rider Robin Farina drift off the front, which seemed like a good idea given the wind. But there was no concerted effort to control the gap (Colavita's responsibility, but everyone's loss), which was aided by neutralization of the field, and Robin gained a whopping 10 minutes to seize the gc. Awesome ride by Robin, but also major errors made by others. There is a lot of regret and questions about how you change a race plan midway as well as "aren't we here to race our bikes?" I wish I could have been there, though who knows if I could have changed the outcome. Hanging out and trying to be helpful is kind of tough, but like in most sports when you get sidelined for injury or another reason, it's a chance to observe and learn and take stock. I am feeling well again and let me tell you, I plan to race my bike. Today is the final stage - a very challenging crit - and the team is extremely motivated to race. I am psyched to watch them rock!

Monday, May 5, 2008

There's no place like home...

Hard to explain how glad I am to be back in Connecticut. Sunday we raced very conservatively, aiming to light it up late to make it fast enough to try to unseat Tina. It took a lot of patience to roll around in a barely-moving circle when I finally had the legs to feel like attacking, not to mention the pent up desire for revenge after the beginning of the week! But it is one thing to race to make the race interesting and quite another to try the strategy you think might get you the win - and we were going for the latter. I did ok though there is much to learn and I have do say getting the elbows out in a big slow moving mob as the sprint winds up is not exactly my forte - yet. But Jen got 3rd again, plus Brenda wound it up for 4th. Hot damn, and we are just getting started. These are the very best sprinters in the country, getting ready for a season full of showdowns, from Philly to Crit Nationals. And check out those stylish sprinters! Other photos: Anniston at night (Sunny King), faux mansion with moose in Atlanta gated community, one of Atlanta's much- lambasted highways, me and Ralph, a former student of my Dad's who knew me as a kid, plus a very sad sandwich. The crit series brought lots of good intensity training, offset by absolute upheaval of all routine generally considered conducive to successful training and racing. Joe Martin will be the measuring stick...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sleep Deprivation amid Wafflehouses

Things are getting better by the day! Friday the legs were coming around and it was super fun to race with Laura Bowles - we were starting to feel like a team. The sleep deprivation continues: race, eat, drive from Spartanburg to Atlanta, in bed by 2, up at 7:30, to sponsor event, lunch at Chipotle (no Wafflehouse!) nap at Starbucks, kill time, drive 2 hours to Anniston, AL. But sleep is overrated and you rally! We finally had our full team for Sunny King, sprinters galore. Legs finally getting better and so motivating to race for someone who can win. Jen got third and we are aiming for that top step today.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Still getting demolished

Raced last night in Greenwood and it was again pretty dismal. I am not feeling very good and guess I just have very few matches to burn, but it has been tough to find the spaces to race among the full teams of Aaron's, Cheerwine, and Colavita, who continue to dominate. Laura is joining us tonight and watch out, because this weekend we will be in full force. I just hope my legs come around!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Help, we have no race food!

We might have finished off our host family's spring lettuce mix and parmesan cheese, but this remarkably sneaky and iron-stomached 12-year old dog, Fitzgerald, devoured my gels and bars and ate 1,200 calories of Kirsten's protein bars in just one sitting. Remarkable!

Parris Island, SC

Making the Corps, an account of Marine Corps boot camp on Parris Island, is one of my favorites, so I was thrilled to realize this morning, on the advising of my host Sam, a Marine Corps captain and pilot, that I could ride my bike there! He and I talked about some interesting parallels between bike and military culture.

Walterboro: Lost the battle...

Decathlon day Wednesday: up at 4:30 in New Jersey; flew to Atlanta, then Savannah; drove to Beaufort, SC; built bike/picked up Kirsten/met host family's dog; drove to Walterboro, SC; waited through a bomb threat to race the bike; raced the bike at 7:30; drove back home, ate, in bed by midnight... Showed up at the race and other teams were saying "thank goodness you guys are here, it is getting old." The red teams - Colavita, Aaron's, and Cheerwine - are dominating the show and the others - Value Act, TIBCO, Vanderkitten - were getting grouchy. I had a new plan "be patient and count," with the intention of not wasting so much energy jumping on attacks, let alone making them myself, but then bridging to the break that stuck. It made sense given that Kirsten and Reem were looking to get their legs back. But easier said than done, right. I was patient - sort of - but then I missed the winning break. And I did try to get across, but the reds would not let me. Little me? I spent my energy trying and did not hold position into the final two corners and did not even finish in the money. Grrr. I was very sluggish on the bike with the jump almost laughable (prime - not even close), but otherwise felt ok. I guess it's to be expected after restful last three days on the bike followed by the long day. But I was pretty unsatisfied, not to mention exhausted.