Monday, December 31, 2012

Kick Wax, Tires and Stick Shifts

A Few weeks have passed since my last post and Art is healing well. He is actually getting around with a cane now, and things are looking positive. Although he is still not supposed to adduct his leg to the side, he has already, in theory, schemed a way to mount the trainer. I imagine it is just a matter of time before he starts getting on a bike in some form. I will also add that it was quite convenient that Art and his doctor scheduled appointments that made it impossible for us to go to Nationals. This is all good, just incase the idea came to mind again. Being that Madison is reporting a minus five degrees today, I think I am okay with sitting out this race, even if it is Nationals. Brrrr cold! What was I thinking anyway?

As soon as I let go of the race, I seemed to be re-energized, almost like the race had been a weight holding me back. I was able to get out for some outstanding solo mountain bike rides. I was riding longer and more confidently, cleaning sections I had not cleaned in months. Cyclo-cross is a welcome diversion and change of pace that I not only enjoy, but welcome. However, in my heart, I am a mountain biker first, and the experiences that transpire in the woods never stop to please or reward my soul.


Last week, while out mountain biking by myself in some pretty cold conditions, I suffered a cut sidewall on my tire that caused me to walk five miles back to my car. I was down on myself for failing to repair the flat, but I did not have the right tool or the ability to improvise to get things fixed. Because it was so cold, I just wanted to keep moving. So I walked out letting my failure weigh heavily on my shoulders. I did not feel so bad when later that week a well known bike mechanic admitted to walking out with a flat and called his wife to pick him up part way. I guess it can happen to anyone, and the best I can do is to try to learn from any mistakes and try to be more prepared next time.

A ride with a five mile walk, is still better than none. I am actually thankful to get out that day, as real winter kicked in a few days later, covering the woods with snow. Some people were out and about with their fat bikes, which I think are pretty cool, but with a wall full of XC skis, I grabbed my skis instead. This brings me to next subject: kick wax. After 35 years of skiing waxless skis , I have recently invested in waxable skis. I gave it a few humble tries and never got it quite right. I suppose I need to experiment until I reach enlightenment or zen in the old world tradition of ski waxing. Waxing, like driving a stick shift car is a bit of a zen thing for me, and I am not ready to give into letting go of my connection with things or even the perceived control in everything just yet.

..... 2013, still trying to keep connected, and of course, Cross Country and Super-D Nationals!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Master's Racing

watch out... I'm in charge of bike maintenance for 6 weeks!

Last Sunday was Limestone Cross, the last stop on the MAC series schedule. I have been following the MAC series in support of the open women’s 45+ class. The MAC has been leading the way for female masters by offering this class, and it has gone from 2-3 racers to nearly 20. I compare it to men’s 55+ which has also taken off in many areas. Women and men alike are staying active and racing as they get older, which is very cool. Some of them actually kick butt and race competitively with elites, but for many of us, a master’s class offers an appropriate competition experience.

Weather predictions were for light rain on top of a few days rain that had already fallen. I was pretty certain that the course would be moist, but I watched the weather forecast closely the day before to keep an eye on temps. If we were expecting heavy rain with temps dipping down towards freezing, I would certainly have opted to stay home in bed. Two or three degrees could be the difference between a sloppy race and hypothermia. I have been close to there twice and did not want to re-live that experience. Luckily temps held steady in the 40’s, so the race was on for me.

Everything was going well and on schedule as part of my pre-race routine. Then as I was getting ready to head to my start, Larry stopped by the truck and told me Art had crashed on his hip, could not walk, and would I take the truck down to pick him up near the start line. Art was done for the season and he knew it, yet he insisted that I stay and do my race before we went to the hospital. As you read this, you must be thinking that we are crazy for this type of thinking. I was prepared to leave the venue when Larry delivered the message at the truck, and yet I let Art convince me that I should race. Perhaps we are crazy, but if you follow any of my racing, you will know that my first national champion title came while Art’s leg was in a cast. I guess we just enjoy supporting each other as much as racing ourselves.

Distracted and minus part my warm up, I took the start line and raced. The course was pretty fun and it supplied my only wet cross course experience this year. It has been so dry this year, that I feared being out of practice, yet I thoroughly enjoyed the handling aspects of this token wet race. The temps and light rain were, for the most part, very comfortable. It was a few moments to rip my lungs out, burn my legs, challenge my balance, run around like sugar crazed kid and forget about what lies behind or ahead.

A little disappointed not to hang and socialize at the last race of the series, we were both faced with the reality of getting Art to the hospital to face the facts: another broken hip. Luckily all the parts from his replacement hip looked to be in good condition, but he was faced with a 6 week heal. Art knows the routine well and will be back on the bike soon. Some may wonder if we should not race in fear of these things, but people are known to get hurt in the bathtub or on the couch while hardly being alive. Some of us just need to feel alive.

In the mean time, I am registered for January Nationals in Wisconsin. The predictor puts me in second place, which means less about my racing ability than it does about the need to get more ladies my age out here racing. I doubt that I will actually go, but who knows?