Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Biker I Am

Although I have two more mountain bike races on my schedule, Kittatinny mentally marked the official end of my mountain bike race season. Salisbury Enduro Rama is behind me and I had hoped to have been a little more competitive at that event, but some equipment miscues and a stomach bug that hit me hard at 2:00am the morning of the race, had me off my game. It was an awesome well-run event with really fun trails. I was glad to rally and not only get on course (roll of TP included) by 9:30 am, but to finish with a smile. I would like to mention that the many bottles of Hammer Fizz that I started drinking by 4:00 am were a big help in getting myself hydrated enough to get out there.

In lieu of a not so great race performance and experiencing the disappointment of some trail vandalism on one of the trails we had built, I was feeling the desire to step back from being a biker for a few days this week. Between mountain bike and cross racing, trail building and advocacy, I often end up juggling my focus around. This is great to prevent burn out, but much of what I do is still related to the bike, and now and then I need a break. Sometimes just putting on a dress to cover my biker tan and go out to dinner with my man is all I need to feel renewed. I know and you know that the biker tan is still under my dress. I suppose it is just an identity charade.

If I can use the tide as a metaphor, this would be the ebb tide of my race season, where treading water is welcomed. Today I decided to head out by foot in the woods to 1: not be a biker, and 2: To try to be a hiker for a day and see some of our trail building from the perspective of the other user group. About a mile into my hike, I caught up to a group of seven women out for a hike. They were from "Adventures for Women", which seemed like a cool group to encourage women to build confidence and seek adventure. The first thing they mentioned was that they liked the new re-route by the DPW, which was very rewarding to hear.

As I forged ahead down the trail, I noticed that I always walked the lines that I would normally ride on my bike. I tried several times to try another path and be a hiker, but I always ended up back on my favorite bike lines looking for flow. I had no idea that I could be so programmed. So my feet became my wheels and I walked the rollers and so on. I guess you can not take the biker out of the biker. ….A biker I am.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Local Blue

I read "eat local" all the time, but I often find that I am buying blueberries year round from the other half of the hemisphere because I love them so much. Local New Jersey blueberry season is finally here, and what a treat it is to eat them each day.

Blueberries have a diverse range of micro nutrients such as manganese, B6, vitamin C, vitamin K. In just one serving, you can get almost 25 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption and a healthy immune system. Blueberries contain substances that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals — unstable molecules linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Substances in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically the anthocyanins that give the fruit its blue hue, are the major contributors to antioxidant activity. In short, they are a little berry packed with goodness. No wonder the bears up at Ringwood love them so much.

This is my all time favorite blueberry recipe:

pick, eat!

That's right, they are perfect by themselves. Other things you can do with them include: add to salads, yoghurt, cereal, almond butter sandwiches ... the list goes on. Eat um while they are here!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bulldog/Butterfly Rump

When I stepped out of the house at 7:00 am, I could not believe how hot it already felt. I usually do not mind the heat, but when compounded with direct sun and extreme humidity, I felt like I was cooking inside. As soon as Art and I arrived at the Bulldog Rump race, we set up the ez-up tent next to our van to assure a shady spot for the remainder of the day, and it would be a long day. We were lucky enough to get a parking spot on the edge of the field and catch a few light breezes that made the humidity seem just bearable.

I saw off my Cat 3 teammate, registered, got my leg marked and returned to the tent. Looking out over the field that was filled with wild flowers, dragonflies and butterflies buzzed around. I was amazed with the butterflies, as they flittered around with care-free direction, getting caught with the wind and then redirecting themselves and visiting the nectar flowers along their journey. Call me crazy, but the motion and seeming playfulness of the butterfly reminded me of mountain biking.

As I prepared for my race, the vision of the butterfly's flight was embedded in my head. Perhaps the heat was getting to me, but I did not have my race head on, and I seriously wondered how well my race would go, when I was dreaming of butterflies. I finally let go of the butterfly vision and started my warm up. You may wonder, how much does one need to warm up in such heat, but it is my heart that needs to prepare to adjust to the intensity of a race, not a bring my legs up to speed thing.

Gun goes off, and I immediately find myself trapped in the back and unable to get through. I get a tad flustered, but eventually a gap opens and I am on my way chasing down the lead group ahead. I reach the lead group just as I hit the bottom of the opening climb ...not good. I hang on, but I was near my max by the top and allow a gap in front. Good thing, as a girl in front faltered causing a few behind to fall down. I am off the bike in a hurry and hoofing it to the top. Then there were more traffic issues that threw me into surges, ending in stomach cramps once again.

I slowed down and gave up a spot, but by the time I got half way through the technical twisty single track, I had rested enough to settle my stomach issues and was still in the hunt. I had about a quarter mile with tons of traffic, both men and women. I did not want to be too pushy, but I was beginning to feel like my wings were being restricted. Then I finally asserted myself and managed to squeeze by a series of riders. Finally free, I opened my wings and went.

It actually felt more efficient to ride slightly faster once I had cleared myself from the clog ups on 3/4 of the first lap. The rhythms and momentum on the course were a blast, and I think the butterfly visions helped me in that area. Half way into the last lap. it began to rain, which felt so good. My dusty legs turned black, and the rocks got slippery enough to slow me down some, but the cooling effect of the rain was welcomed. Feeling quite as ease with the rain, the finish line appeared quickly and smoothly and I felt quite satisfied. It certainly was good finish to a not so certain race start. Found out later that I had the fastest Cat 1 time, so I guess I am still hanging in there at 54.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Spectrum of Vegies

groovy beets and russian kale

chilled gazpacho

pasta with grilled beets, sausage, kale, mushrooms and leeks

With summer in full swing, vegetable gardens have started to produce many yummy fresh vegetables, and a week of hot weather has made me rethink my dinner menu:

Chilled gazpacho for a hot summers night.

Beets are thought to have an abundance of Nitrites. Nitrite is important in biochemistry as a source of the vasodilator nitric oxide. I have never been a big fan of pickled beets, but now that I am aging into pre-hypertension, which I inherited from my mom, I have been searching for anything in my diet that will keep me off medication, while racing. Grilled beets taste fantastic! ... and the colors are really beautiful and a great way to brighten a plate of food. My teammate says that eating beets keeps her from cramping on the bike in long races.

Some other vegies that taste great grilled are bok-choy, asparagus and sweet potatoes. Get your vegies ... tis the season!