Monday, January 09, 2006

Tour Da Life, et al.

I’m really fucking busy. Here’s the gist of my last week (bike racing at the end!):

NYE: We sold out, raised $1500 for West Town Bikes, I got to cook for several hours. It was fun.

NYD 2006: I lead the Polar Bear Bike n’ Dip. The weather was warm, the water was cold. It was actually mostly pleasant, because we were well prepared and it was well above freezing. A damn refreshing way to shock 2005 out of my system.

I got a bloody nose while changing my tampon. WTF? My body bleeds at both ends......

My roommate got a kitten. She hid, completely terrorized, for a few days. Then she began crapping/pissing on: my bed, my fresh laundry, the spare bed, the couch. I risked her claws, spent several hours with her and now she seems to trust me and quickly transitions from hissing to purring/rubbing. She now uses the litter box, too – except for when John was petting her and she pissed on his lap. So disgusting, so funny.

We did a memorial ride on Saturday for Isai. Sad.

With much trepidation, nervousness and downright fear, I competed in the first stage of the Tour de Chicago this Sunday. This caused a ton of stress for me, because I am terrified of riding ‘messenger style’ and not following the traffic rules. Also, I am consistently fearful of people thinking I am a wuss. I haven’t been riding much more than my commute lately, so I also feel pretty out of shape compared to my summer riding.

Anyway, the first half of the race went well and we had a sweet tailwind. I was in the front part of the second group (the first group being composed mostly of racers/messengers – people who damn well best be able to smoke my ass) and feeling great. We reached the halfway point, and right in front of me, a guy flew into the intersection blindly and got creamed by a car. He completely shattered the windshield of her car. Luckily he was OK (he said his leg hurt a lot, though), and a large group of the middle pack stayed until the fire truck came. Most of the latter riders didn’t stop, though.

When I got back into the race, I was shaken by the sight/sound of the collision and knew that lots of people got ahead while we waited. Also, we now had to ride facing the stiff headwind. The small pack I was in wasn’t riding fast enough, so I offered to move ahead to the next group. Paul said he couldn’t but suggested that I could if I felt up to it. I raced ahead and got sucked into the draft of the next group of riders. Paul had followed my pull, but the others in the group didn’t. I drafted for a while, listening to the riders ahead of me bitch about the wind, and built up energy. Again Paul didn’t think he could go faster to attach to the next group of riders up ahead. I smiled to myself when I heard the lead of the group I was leaving exclaim, "check that out!" as I passed him. The Julep cuts quite a sight with her pretty streamers.

Paul followed my pull again, along with two other guys from the previous group, and we made a group of 7-8 riders. I had a really hard time staying in the pace line, because two guys in particular seemed to force me out. I was annoyed and thinking to myself, "why am I again riding next to a pace line?" At least one of these guys had drafted me to join this group, so I was particularly annoyed that he was making it hard for me to catch my breath.

This smaller group wasn’t as good at clearing intersections (and I think we were more timid after having witnessed the accident). Several times my main weakness was very apparent – I am really cautious about running red lights. Almost every light that we blew put me well behind the pack, and I had to bust my ass to catch back up with the group, only for them to blow by me at the next red. Annoying, but, I’d rather lose the pack than get hit by a car.

The last few miles are what I regret, because I didn’t really push myself. I should have broken away from the group and raced ahead for the group in the distance. But I didn’t, because I was content to just stay the pace with the group I was in. I finally kicked it in only in the last few blocks and passed most of the group (including Paul and the two guys who weren’t letting me in the pace line. Tehehe).

I didn’t realize that at the finish we had to alert the organizer that we arrived, so I got scored a few places lower than I actually finished. Live and learn.

There were 94 entrants (with 94 points being first place) and I got 51. I was third woman overall, but feel I really only lost to the first place finisher, because I had passed the second place woman well before the accident, and nobody passed me after I started riding again after the accident. Therefore, I conclude that she didn’t stop at the crash site, and I would have beaten her absent my stopping.

So, anyway, I’m pretty happy with my showing in the race because I was in the top 50% of a field of mostly men, I didn’t just mooch off of other people’s drafts, no one passed me in the difficult second half, and I am certain that were it not for the accident, I would have done quite a bit better. Plus, I did it on the Julep – whose gearing wasn’t the most appropriate for riding against the wind.

Unfortunately, this stage of the race will probably be the most, flat-out test of speed and endurance in the series. My scavenger skills and red-light running skills are pathetic. So this is probably the best I will finish. Sniff.

It was very fun, though! I haven’t been salty in quite a while.

Today at work, my shoulders and upper arms are completely trashed. It feels like I did some serious weightlifting.

Super Rookie has an entry viewed from the front of the pack.


At 10:26 PM, Anonymous super rookie said...

pleasure meeting you on sunday!

way to go with the race!


At 12:10 AM, Blogger equipoise said...

Congrats on your finish, sis! Was this your first alleycat race?

I'm looking forward to the Stupor Bowl race up here in Mpls in Feb - can't wait, in fact!

At 10:19 AM, Blogger jojo said...

Yes, this was my first alley cat race. Like your experience, I found it much more fun than I expected, and hope to do the rest of the series.

I suggest that if there is another visit to Chicago from a brother, that we should try to align it with one of these races.

One of the traditional races in the series is called The Stairmaster. It utilizes the underground road system, and involves carrying your bike up and down over 1000 stairs throughout the race. Fun, eh?

S.R. Nice meeting you, too.

At 6:44 AM, Blogger nollij said...

Just wanted to compliment you on your success in this race! I found your site through and before that, through the Xtracycle website. Keep up the great writing... it's a pleasure to read your blog!


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