Dec 29, 2008

a photo story


on the 28th of december, lulu got a hold of her mom's camera

and proceeded to take pictures of herself,


lying down, surprised,

"sleeping", being silly,

and her foot.

she took pictures of her sister at the computer,
doing a slinky smile, and pretending the slinky was a lasso.
then she gave her sister the camera so she could get some mid-air shots jumping off the couch
and the dining room table bench. then she stopped to think for a moment;
and she said, "enough" - we will do this again tomorrow. and the next morning, she started all over again.
this is her mom making the morning rounds at her laptop, this is lulu waiting to get on mom's computer,
and this is her dad, pouring the coffee that starts another day at the webster house.

the end.

Dec 20, 2008

nutcrackers and blackberry fairies

nut7we continued a family tradition of going to the nutcracker last night. truth be told, it's only been a tradition for two years - ever since our daughter had a part in the children's cast.

we always try to just be very matter of fact about it all, but its my blog so i can gush for a moment. this isn't your run of the mill recital sort of thing. it's the real deal; with the city ballet at the big theater downtown.

she had her opening night three weeks ago, but we went to officially see it last night. i say "officially" because i had already seen her perform twice while watching from the wings when my chaperoning duties included 'stage escort'. i mean, being hair and make up mom to a bunch of flower fairies in the dressing room was nice, but being stage escort was way cooler.


we'd listen for our cue - as soon as we heard the first russian dancer hit the stage once he landed from his leap down the flight of stairs, it was time for the flower fairies to line up and head down the hallway to wait to get onstage. as soon as those russians came bursting out the door into the hallway breathing as if they had just sprinted for a finish line; the fairies went back stage and lined up in the wings, tightly packed together, in between their own wings. a little line of fairy sardines. when the girl with the big hoop skirt and all the children that were hiding under it came off the stage, they went onstage.

it is an amazing, fascinating little world back there. and when i wasn't catching a glimpse of annabel as she flitted by my tiny line of sight in the wings, i was distractedly watching all the stretchy, twirly, jumpy warmups.

the equivalent of racers on their trainers i guess, only its way prettier with all those fancy tutus and sparkly tiaras.  actually, i suppose 'cross has its share of tutus and tiaras in some circles. just not here. yet.

it's exciting to see how it all comes together backstage, but its all business and listening and watching carefully for a cue. these little girls knew the precise moment and note at which to step out on stage, and annabel knew that the moment the woman came down from her partners' shoulders and her toes touched the stage, she was to lead everyone off.

but sitting in the audience, just listening to the orchestra, knowing what is to come, and remembering her nutcracker debut last year  - i start to get all teary before the curtain even goes up. the waltz of the flowers fairies was not until the second act, and when annabel stepped out onto the stage, my eyes welled up and it was hard to see; and henry lulunutlet out a little gasp, and moments later as he watched her flit about the stage with the other fairies, he whispered "annabel is awesome'.

later, he denied it of course. and i suppose, what self respecting 12 year old wouldn't retract such a statement. i imagine there must be some sort of 12 year old boy code that he had violated. but still. his dad and i heard it. sweet little proof that despite all the torture, he really does love his little sister.

annabel was indeed awesome. equally awesome was watching lulu's face at the end of act 1 when she realized it was snowing in the audience and then seeing her light up when annabel came onstage - all the while she was clutching the little nutcracker that i had purchased for her during intermission - after she brought home a letter, a poem and a picture of the nutcracker with a speech bubble that said: i want to be lulu's. what can i say, i'm a sucker. she's been carrying the thing around all day.

and nuttykidsthen of course, there was the post performance trip to see the tree downtown and the requisite pleading with the kids to please try to give me one good shot for a Christmas card which is too late to send now anyway - and the evening was complete.

on the drive home, we kept asking annabel if she had seen us in the audience from up on stage, cause as her dad said right after the show - he really thought she was looking right at him, he felt a connection - and she got all giggly and said she couldn't see anyone. but lulu and henry were convinced that she saw them too - they thought she was looking right at all of us.


all i know is that during the waltz of the flower fairies, she was the only one we all saw.




Dec 15, 2008


part of the writing requirements at my kids' schools include completing a writing portfolio each year. they have to write a certain number of pieces that usually consist of a personal narrative, maybe a fact based article of some sort and a persuasive letter.

one year, my son wrote a persuasive letter to his grandfather persuading him to quit smoking. it was a great letter, but perhaps it wasn't worded strongly enough. my dad still smokes.

he wrote another piece - the personal narrative piece; about the time we went away for a little vacation with friends, and after a really fun dinner, the two families went to the little playground across the street -and while we parents were swinging on the swingsset and playing on the teeter totter, the kids ran around the trails on the periphery of the playground. the blood curdling scream that came soon after was when my son tripped over a tree root and broke his arm. only we didn't know it was broken and thought he was being dramatic.  which, if you know him - is not out of the realm of possibility. but the next day when they showed us the xray, we knew it was the real deal.

that kind of adventure, where you've come to some real bodily harm and your parents don't believe you always makes for the perfect sort of personal narrative.

on a similar note, my daughter wrote her personal narrative about the time (two months ago) when she went to the doctor to have the honkin' piece of glass removed from her foot. the same piece i told her wasn't there. (i can see that you can see there is a pattern here, but this time, the er doc who lives next door also told us there was nothing in her foot).
she complained about her foot for two weeks and started to compensate for the pain by walking on the edge of her foot, which then hurt her shins. but because the er doc didn't feel anything in her foot and there were no signs of anything - i told her she was fine and she needed to just suck it up. i told her if she was going to audition for the nutcracker, she'd have to stop walking all crazy like that. she went and auditioned for the nutcracker with that piece of glass in the ball of her foot. afterwards, she got in the car and told me how much she had to be up on her tippy toes and how much it hurt. still. she got the part. but the next day, i saw the look on the doctors face when he put on those big jewelers glasses and realized there was indeed something in there, and when he went in to dig out a centimeter-big piece of glass; i felt about as big as a centimeter. still, though. makes for a good personal narrative.

i'm just glad i can provide my kids with writing material.

my youngest, claudia has not yet had an experience that warrants such a personal narrative. considering our track record, she's lucky. give it time. she did however have the perfect subject for the persuasive letter requirement. she's been saving her meager allowance money for about a year - always with an eye on a new american girl doll. thanks to the generosity of grandparents, we have more than one of these dolls - the girls love them, as do i. i think they're sweet and mostly i love that they are still loved and consistently played with after all these years. but still. i just didn't think we needed more.

claudia came home with a persuasive letter a few weeks ago. in it, she persuaded me to let her buy a doll with her own money. it was a full three pages of how she would love it and care for it and clean her room. how she would pay for it with her own money. she even put in a little infomercial-style: but wait! there's more in it for you if you just read on. she would walk on my back (which, by the way is the best massage ever) whenever i wanted.

had this been a whim, and she hadn't actually been saving for a year, and talking about a doll for months, and pouring over the catalog every month and counting how much money she had; i wouldn't have given in. but she had done all those things, and written the letter. so we called and ordered the doll. she came home from school one day to find her new doll waiting for her - she opened the package all proud and happy and proceeded to take alice on a tour of the house and introduce her to every.single.thing.

this is when the lightbulb must have lit up.

because now, as she said to her sister "persuasive letters totally work" - she comes home from school everyday with a new letter. they are long and shameless and full of "keep reading, cause there is something in here for you". today it was for a cat game to play on her nintendo ds. cause she wants a cat for a pet, but since mommy and daddy are alergec to cats, the game should suffice. last friday's letter was for some other sort of stuffed toy she saw at target. she just pulls the letters out of her folder, all dated & signed - a new one each day, persuading me to let her get this or that.

sorry babe. the jig is up. that, and you only have 13 cents left now.

Nov 30, 2008


today's race was the kentucky state cyclocross championships. it was held at our beloved local 'cross course; an old defunct golf course that has twice also been the site of the usgp. we pre-rode the course last night - thinking, surely it wouldn't be the exact course we ride all the time. but we were wrong. it was practically - with a few cool exceptions, the exact course we ride all the time. and for this, i loved it. and so during our pre-ride yesterday, with the late afternoon fall sun shining just so perfectly and happy, it was all swoopy and zen. there were no crazy jacked up 180's into uphills or downhills; and i had already practiced all the turns and sand pits and run ups until they were embedded in my brain. i've been practicing for the last 3 months out there. i left the course yesterday happy and confident. i thought, this could be another harbin park.

and then it rained.   
all night.

and a really muddy course was one thing i had never practiced. and unfortunately, as much as i try to convince myself otherwise, mud does not equal happy and zen. so the race starts on a big wide open expanse of grass and goes into one of those turns i have embedded in my brain. and as i head into the turn and see the cluster of girls on the muddy downhill turn in front of me, some on their bikes & some off, or trying to stay on - i look ahead to see one friend hop off her bike, shoulder it and run. and i think this looks like a splendid idea. so i do it too. shoulder and on other spots, where i see people dab their foot to get around a muddy turn. i think this too, looks like a splendid idea. so i do it too. and make it around the turn. these moments, while fleeting - feel good and sorta smart.

there were, however, plenty of places i did not quite make it through. i got tangled up in the course tape more than once. and i bit it in the sandtrap more than once. i did a cool back wheel skid out thing and saved it (by continuing to pedal through it - imagine that); which felt momentarily awesome. until i had to go down the scary muddy hill onto pavement where i bit it again.

for the most part, i felt good and strong the whole time but was a bundle of frustration and nerves and tried to get over my stifling and irrational muddy fears and maneuver my way through the course. and once again, stoopidly, i wrote the race off - thinking i was not cut out for cross and i didn't like the mud. usually, my husband is on the sidelines cheering for me and can see when my head is in a bad self-defeating place. he usually knows exactly what to yell to get me out of it. or, i'll have teammates on the sidelines yelling for the love of god woman pedal your bike! it's like that perfect slap in the face snap out of it sort of thing that i sometimes need. but the men were racing at the same time i was and all i got from my husband (on his way to third place i might add!) was a "hey baby" as we did the run up together. which i have to say, was sorta fun.
i really, really wanted to quit. but i didn't quit. i just kept going. cause there were other people out there cheering. keeping me going. and taking cool pictures.

and then, thankfully. it was over.
and then i rode over to my husband and then, in front of friends, and their small children - who came out into the cold and wet and mud bearing homemade banana chocolate chip muffins, i do believe a few expletives came flying out about how much i hated the course and how badly i wanted to quit. very bad form indeed. next time, i'll keep my mouth shut and leave my rant here so people have a choice of whether or not they want to 'hear' it.

but as soon as i was dressed and warm, and had coaxed my girls out of the warm and toasty airstream to go watch another race, and my husband gave me a big proud hug over the fact that i did that muddy, hard race; i was in love with cyclocross again. as always - when its' over.

i'll also digress here for a moment to also explain that our entire team is rolling in brand-spanking new kits. everything about the kit is new - the colors, the sponsors - everything. and there was a whole slew of us racing. it was so fun to see the sea of blue riders all over the course. the blue and orange makes it easy to see everyone when spectating and makes it easy to determine who you should pull over to the side a bit for to let lapping teammates in the men's race pass you. there was definitely a fun buzz of excitement over rolling out the new kits at this race.
as muddy and as difficult as the course was, and as much as i hated it and wanted to quit; i didn't - and so for that i am very happy. i think back on the insanity of it all and cannot actually believe i took part in the madness and raced that muddy race. and now that its' over, i'm pleased as punch that i stuck with it, and am trying to forget the david millar type moment of a post race rant and can only hope those that were around me can do the same.

so then, race and rant over - i either cheered racers on or hung out with teammates by the airstream and insisted that they work harder to kill the keg of hell for certain that we have been taking everywhere in a weird, have-keg-will-travel way; and i make another pot of coffee on the airstream and set out the banana chocolate chip muffins and straighten things up a bit and realize that maybe i should feed the kids lunch. so, as we head to the car to go get some happy meals - a teammate points to me and says they want me on the podium.

and i look behind me, because surely - he's not pointing at me. they cannot need me for the podium. and i point to myself and say me? they want me?

yes. you. go.

so, as i head to the podium, i try to think of what on earth they need me for. do they need help passing out medals to the cool girls? do they need me to bring them coffee? is someone contesting last place?

and i get to the podium and see the first, second and third place masters' girls with their snazzy medals and i think well. this is a joke. i am not needed here. and race promoter guy sees me and says, good, you're here.

and i say, why? he says cause its the kentucky state championships. and i am a kentucky resident. but i still don't get it. he says you won something. and i say me? what did i win? he gives me a bronze medal and tells me to get up on the podium.
well, look at me. on the podium. apparently, the fact that i was the third kentucky resident to finish my race today qualifies me for the podium. sweet. i'll take it. my first actual bike podium ever.

so i got on the podium and raised my hand with the first place girl (second place girl was absent) and it felt fairly snazzy and fun. and i forgot about how i hate the mud and how i wanted to sell my bike on ebay during that second lap. i forgot about how i might not be cut out for this on that third lap and i resolved to get on a mountain bike like everyone says i need to do to get more comfortable with the handling stuff.
the fact that i got the bronze medal mostly for just showing up today and being the third masters' woman from kentucky to finish is not lost on me. but i got on the podium and it was fun & i'll totally take the tiny victories where i can get 'em. even if it was really a victory of residency.
i may have had a bit of a love hate thing with my first season of cyclocross, but finishing my first cross season on the podium was fun and sorta makes up for a whole bunch.
and makes me think i'll do it all again next year. only better. and not just cause i live here.
photos by marcia seiler & tom moran.

Nov 23, 2008

full circle

when my sister and i were little, we went to a lot of parties. in our feetie pajamas. the shindigs were usually at my grandparents house, or at their best friends' house - a quintessential big victorian home with a wrap around porch at the base of a ski mountain that was once an inn and had a number on every door and a tiny sink in each room. my grandparents house also had a back staircase that served as the perfect spot to sit and just listen to the party after we had been sent to bed. we were a festive irish catholic family. i think irish catholic says it all. i had grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles and they had cousins and friends that were practically family and everyone liked to party. often. i have a lot of really great ridiculously happy childhood memories and a lot of them involve parties. impromptu ones after a day on the slopes and bigger, more official ones during holidays with big christmas trees and twinkly lights.

after spending the night dancing with the grownups, or being dazzled by uncle bill's magic tricks and his ability to find a quarter in my ear; and sneaking sips of whatever libations were in the glasses i was instructed to clear from the room - i could sit on the stairs for hours. to this day, i cannot hear frank sinatra singing 'fly me to the moon' or willie nelson singing 'georgia on my mind' without thinking about those nights. my grandparents singing and dancing, the sounds of laughter, dancing, ice clinking in glasses of scotch and the smell of a wood fire burning, twinkly christmas lights.

my sister and i were always on coat duty. i loved burying my face in the occasional fur coat and trying to keep track of who's coat belonged to whom. i loved being a tiny little fly on the wall of all the festivities around me. my sister and i were the only children and could be shameless centers of attention when we wanted to put on a show or completely invisible when we wanted to sneak some archway cookies from the kitchen.

i turned forty this week and we had a big party.

my kids were on coat duty, but my youngest was the only one who took this job seriously. my other two children holed up in the basement with mr. bean. after the movie, my middle child - the responsible one - marched herself up to her room and went to bed at 10 pm. and i think at one point my 12 year old emerged from the basment with nerf gun in hand and after talking with a few grownups, parked himself in front of the computer.

but lulu had other plans in mind. early in the evening, lulu was sitting on the stairs after having taken a bunch of coats up to plop on her brothers' bed and she was writing. very tongue-sticking-out intently. she documented the evening as follows:

Dear notebook,
My mom is haveing a big party. and I am stuck in the, well ... my mom and dad's room with the dog. so yeah. at the party whenever i hear people come in I run out of the room and rush downstairs and ask them "May I take your coat please" it is a realy easy job but right now I am brethless. My poor dog is sad she can't get out my parents wont let her out! Poor Mabel she's whineing! I wish I could let her out but she'll eat all the cake. And then there is a million pepole here I don't want her scare [frighten] them.

i loved that she planted herself on the stairs and documented things. there were other things documented: guests in attendance, and if she forgot their names, she would just indicate who's mom or dad it was. she also jotted down a list of "things for a party" which included cups, napkinz, cake, cupcake and a whineing dog. i loved seeing her sit on the pile of coats while she tried to find bessie's coat and she wasn't sure where fin's mom's coat was. i'm not sure how many cupcakes or cookies she snuck and i don't care. i love that she held center stage in the living room and danced. granted, she was wired to the hilt and i wonder if she snuck any bourbon slushies on trips through the kitchen; but she had a plan and was on a mission - one i didn't realize until midnight when i watched as she looked at the clock and saw that it said midnight - she proclaimed "yes! i did it!" and hours after her older sister and brother had gone up to bed, she herself headed up to bed. mission accomplished. night documented. a successful night of coat-taking, writing, tending to a whineing dog, and some questionable shake-your-money-maker sort of moves for a seven year old.

bourbon slushies and a keg of hell for certain replaced clinking ice in scotch glasses. there was still a little bit of frank sinatra crooning 'fly me to the moon'. there were twinkly lights and a wood burning fire outside, and a little girl dancing and then sitting, watching, writing from the stairs.

Nov 16, 2008

maybe i should have raced

i realize that snow, wind, mud and bitter cold are apparently a perfect mix for 'cross weather. but i gotta say, i still don't get it. and driving to the race; shivering in my down jacket, fleecy lined boots and hat while watching the snow fly - i wondered what the hell i was doing. i wondered what we all were doing. kids jacked up on krispy kreme at 8 am. no heat in the airstream. clogged toilet. a mad case of pms. and realizing we forgot to stock fridge with post race beer.

it was a classic case of: if mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy. i'll spare the details of how my husband could no longer take my unhappiness and pulled the airstream over to ask what the hell we were doing. why were we racing? but by then teammates were knocking on the door of the rv on the side of the road, thinking we had broken down - when it was really just me who had broken down. my husband decided to take advantage of the 'breakdown' and try to fix the heat so the remainder of the trip would be slightly more comfortable - in more ways than one. but when we saw another teammate starting to pull over, we realized we needed to get moving before the whole team started pulling over to see why the airstream was sitting on the side of the road.

so. we get to the race and finally do get the heat working, which makes me infinitely, all is well with the world happy. then we embrocate - which also makes me happy - and head out into the 30 some-odd degrees to pre-ride the course. my husband thought it would be similar to last years' course and told me it was all mine. wide open and swoopy. he was convinced i'd love it. he didn't factor in the full day of rain that fell on the course the previous day, the cold, the mud, the fact that they changed the course, or my pms.

so essentially, after my two lap pre-ride i already decided i didn't really care about the outcome or my placing or who was in front of me. it was what it was - all muddy and cold. i wrote the race off before i even started. even though it was my dream start: uphill. on a road. at least it could have been, but i soon found myself stuck behind two crazy slow girls. but the fact that two girls were slower than me and pissing me off is actually fairly unprecedented. so i guess i am making progress. i was dfl soon after the start, but made my way up 3 places by the end - thank god for the courses with a nice long slightly uphill stretch of paved road where i can pass people.

there is a point at which the girls in front are so far ahead catching them seems an impossibility and the girls behind you look more tired than you and so you just ride and decide to enjoy it and have fun. so i did. i looked for the little victories like feeling weirdly badass about having mud caked all over my bike and my shoes, and slipping as i ran up the crazy muddy run ups. and finally making that uphill - thanks to the cheers of super fast local guy - onto the long stretch of slippery mud without taking a digger or having to hang onto the chain link fence for a moment was awesome. hearing people yell nice line! on that one - equally awesome. throwing my bike over shoulder for run up felt cool and realizing on the third lap that going through the mud is actually less stressful if you don't look down in front of you at the scary groovy mud, but instead look ahead of you to the nice grass - it will all be over soon. making the weird off-camber muddy turn around baseball field every single time, that same one you had to get off the bike during the pre-ride for - not even having to dab foot down on the last lap. much better. tiny victories. i'll take 'em.

teammates who cheer for you by yelling "for the love of god woman, pedal!" adds to the humor of the whole thing. cause you realize you probably weren't pedaling and quite likely looked like you were out for a little leisurely ride in a muddy park. hello. its a race. stop having fun and enjoying tiny victories. go faster.

and then it was over. and i had fun. but when the results came out and i saw that i was one place away from the podium, it wasn't fun anymore. i was mad. well, shit. that was stoopid. maybe i shouldn't have laughed so hard at the "pedal!" shouts from my teammate and i actually should have pedaled. maybe i should have looked for some bigger victories. like actually riding faster. there's a thought. it is a race after all. maybe i should have stopped wondering when road season was going to start, or what that funny noise on my bike was. maybe i should realize that just being out there isn't always enough and i'd actually like to do better and am quite sure i could if i tried hard enough. there's one more chance on the 30th to actually try and race. and to not think 'i could have done better' when its' over. and if not, i'll always have harbin park.

Nov 8, 2008

my new favorite thing

embrocation. i just like saying the word too. embrocation. i honestly didn't even know what it was until recently. i mean, i'd see people putting it on at races before. but i thought it was more of a vanity, look-at-my-gleaming muscles sort of thing. and i realize there is an element of that; but still. just thought it was warming creme stuff. didn't know it had a fancy, official name.

until i read this blog. they tout the praises of a homemade embrocation that sounds so snazzy and like one of those all-the-cool-kids-are-doing-it sort of cool, and i am such a sucker for packaging; that i thought i should get some. at the very least i made a mental note to get some for our christmas stockings. but i never did. cause when the usgp comes to town and stays in your house they bring cool swag and sometimes they give you leftover goodie bag stuff. and so as they were packing up suitcases to go back home and it was looking like there was no room in the bag - i got some embrocation. not the same stuff that i made a mental note to buy myself above, but snazzy, gleaming embrocation nonetheless. and it is so full of gleaming, warming awesomeness; it is this stuff that will be going in our christmas stockings this year. i don't know about all that mumbo-jumbo big word stuff on the site. i just know i was warm. and gleaming.

-- since i am taking the weekend off from racing, i was dusting off the road bike this morning for a nice long team ride. in a straight line. no need to get off or hop any barriers, no off-camber 180 degree turns, no sand pits. i realize that its' slight heresy to say this during 'cross season; but i've missed my road bike - and those long, steady, paceline team rides.

so i'm getting dressed. for my weekend off from 'cross racing long steady team ride and its cold out and i cannot for the life of me find my knee warmers. and we've just rearranged our entire house to include a bike room. in the house. a room solely devoted to bikes and all the paraphernalia. complete with work stand, couch, a coffee table piled high with velonews and cyclocross magazines, trainer, tv, a dresser full of bike clothes, bikes hanging from the rafters and placed on floor to ceiling poles. the only thing the room is missing is one of those little 12 pack dorm fridges and, apparently, my knee warmers.

and i realize when i put that post up on the team site about how we had a whole bunch of stuff from the usgp in our car and i would put it in a lost and found box and leave it in our car at the gun club race; i think i put my knee warmers in there and i think someone claimed them.

but the other thing that is in the new bike room is a basketful of embrocation. i actually tried it yesterday on a rainy, yet warm ride; and like water off a ducks back - the rain just beaded up on my legs. i didn't know how it would be on a cold ride, but figured i'd give it a go.

so i get to the ride and everyone is wearing tights or knickers and i am the girl in shorts - with the super secret embrocation gleaming on my legs. i should have counted how many times in the 47 miles people asked me how my legs were feeling. cause i think i was as amazed as they were that i was not cold. at all. not even a weensy bit. the other girl? she was cold. and she was in tights. i swear. this stuff is magic mojo. its my new favorite thing. i also highly suggest the bike room. that's my other latest favorite thing.

Nov 6, 2008

vote for claudia

my youngest had a homework assignment the night before last which was to pretend they were running for class president and write a campaign speech encouraging others to vote for them. a poster was extra credit. so she wrote a short speech, announcing how if she was class president, there would be no bullies and everyone would keep their hands to themselves and there would be no fighting (which made me wonder what the hell goes on in that classroom). but the best part was this decree:

And there will be no secret pencil sharpening during class because Ms. Thompson gives you a chance in the morning and in the afternoon.

an excellent platform. no secret pencil sharpening. clearly, some kids are abusing the pencil sharpening window that is open for them in the mornings and afternoons. amazingly, she also did a poster for the extra credit (she's not really an extra credit kind of girl - she's more of a i'll do the minimum requirement and eek by on my cuteness, humor and free-spiritedness) complete with pretty flowers and purple swirly doo-dads:

vote for claudia. she's a smartie.

and then there was this discussion with her dad yesterday: dad, do you win money if you pick the right president? what do you mean, do you win money? you know, like at the horse races – when you pick the winner, you get money.

Nov 2, 2008

gun club

cyclocross races at a gun club start with the firing of a real honest to goodness shotgun. which sorta scared the bejeesus out of me even though i was totally expecting it. i mean the guy was standing there. with a shotgun. you know its gonna be loud and skeery. but still. strangely, though; it was the only thing that really scared the bejeesus out of me on the course today. strange because it was barely a cyclocross course. it was more of a mountain bike course. all technical, and woodsy and gravelly and shit.

and so because of this woodsy, technical, gravelly, mountain biker shit, and because i had poured over all the forum posts on the team site all week describing the course; i had a mini panic attack last night.

what about that hill? what about all those rocks they're all talking about? what about this or that? if there was something that i had read that perhaps i could worry about - i did. i got myself all jacked up. and then went to bed. but not before i announced to my husband that the jury is still out on whether or not i actually like this cyclocross shit cause i really suck at it and it scares me and i dont know why. and he says can i have your bike. and i say no. i am racing it tomorrow. and then i go to bed.

but i woke up a new, braver girl. and packed the kids up for another day of indulging mommy & daddy's whims and we drove 2 hours to the course. and then my husband and i pre-rode the course. and after 2 laps, i figured well, yes indeedy this strikes me as a mountain bike course and so i am about to do my first ever mountain bike race.

my start was pretty good for the starty part. i think i kept blocking a girl - possibly the very girl i would love to come in ahead of for once - from getting past me; which was awesome and so bravely and agressively dont take my taxi unlike me. but once we got back into the woods and into the turny shit, she passed me and i fell off a bit and lost contact with the main group.

i tried to gun it through the first sand trap every time, but it was long and deep, i always lost speed halfway through. i did however on the last lap, find the fastest way through if you weren't actually going to ride it - i did a real honest to goodness like they show in the pictures in magazines over the shoulder bike thing and really, really ran. none of my usual tip toe through the tulips shit. and then i just turned the corner to run through the second sand trap. two. sand traps. in. a. row.

i was much better at the barriers. i think i only did a queer hippity hop thing once maybe twice where my left leg gets all jacked out like its not even attched to the rest of me. all the other times, i tried to make a real conscious effort to look normal and really do a cool run and leap thing over them, like everyone else. like in the magazines.

and then there was the off camber uphill 180 degree thing that i can't believe i actually made it every single time. lamaze breathing really helped with that one.

my remounts sucked. ass.

there was a crazy hill on the back side. i remember watching this race last year and seeing people get off to run the hill. and from the lodge, the hill looks like a piddly piece of nothing - i'd say why the hell cant they ride up that hill? for the love of god, i could do this. now i am doing it and the hill is not so piddly when you are on a bike at the bottom of it. and i like hills. and i tried, every lap to get over it. and every lap, i'd stop and clip out before i fell over. or i'd just fall over.

the race was actually fun. and i realize that if i have enough energy to yell you go girl to teammates as they pass the other way, that maybe its too fun and i should work harder.

my new girl-that-i-only-see-at-races-but-is-totally-cool-and-fun-to-chat-with friend tells me that before races, her husband is always coaching her about how she has to get out in front of suzanne. and i am amused that i am somone's nemesis.

and driving home, i told my husband, i wasn't even scared. not even of the gravel road. or the turny shit. and i was only mildly scared of the cliff that if you didn't take the crazy turn right, you plunge to - well, i don't want to think about it. and he said good, cause there was plenty to be scared about, it was really technical. and i think yeah. but i could have done better. then he tells me that in the last lap, i closed a one minute gap down to fifteen seconds, crossing the line a mere fifteen seconds behind the girl i would love to come in ahead of just once. so i'm getting closer. must channel more inner new yorker don't even think about taking my taxi.

and so i am back on the cyclocross bandwagon again.

Oct 31, 2008

clandestine costumed cross

last night was clandestine cross night. or, as it is now known around here, the thursday night throwdown. halloween style. we met on the back nine, aka the beach, aka superfan territory of our beloved usgp course. there was a lot of milling about and drinking beer and laughing and taking of pictures while satan marked our course. and then with an announcement of the rules - which mostly involved beer laps and bell laps and some other stuff i don't remember, we were off on a preview, warm up lap. the course even had a little haunted shed with a glo-stick hanging from the ceiling. after the preview and once the sun was fully set and it was pitch black out save for all the lights on bikes and helmets - we raced. and race is a very strong word for me. mostly raggedy ann and i were out for a scary pitch black sunday ride and called it quits after one lap. thought it might be best to cheer from the beer cooler.

but the others did indeed race, and it is best summed up by our fearless leader, satan himself:(this may be one of those things that is only funny if you were there. in costume. riding around the cross course at night. drinking. and knew all these people i am talking about.) but here goes:

Ripping through the inky autumn darkness with what many called "spooky speed and surprisingly perky falsies", Dr. Bill C outgunned (and out-shotgunned) the competition to snag the win at the innagural Halloween Throwdown. Team Louisville's own Chris "the heavy-hitter" stayed close to the top spot for most of the race, but a critical beer-lap error cost him the win (he chose a bottle vs a can). Opting for raw power over malted barly, Aaron tried to hold on to his early race lead, but his impressive 5.5 minute lap time was no match for the 15 second free-lap guzzle-fest that ultimately decided first and second place. The chase group - led by D.L. "funny femur" Hauber - kept the pressure on for most of the race, but by lap three, many racers started dropping out - lured away by the promise of fizzy goodness and the sexy tri-fecta of Naughty Night Nurse Betty, Ravishing Raggedy Ann and Savory Swiss Miss. (can I get a yodel?) RJ "Ricola" Harris set a blistering pace early on, but an authentic-woolen-leiderhosen malfunction caused some unanticipated chafing and he was taken to the medical tent. He appeared to be recovering well after 1000cc's of brownwater and by the end of the race was seen chatting with reporters. Evel Kennevil took a break from jumping buses and chose instead to come out and jump sand traps and Santa decided to get one more race in before the big holiday push. Joe the plumber came by - still fired up from the Go Sarah!! rally in Jeff the night before - and Boosty Collins scorched the course before rolling back to the beach area to drop some base lines. Back at the beach, Varsity wrestling champ, Steven "the package" Webster kept things interesting in his UK-Blue uni-tard and Mac "Spartan-not-Trojan" Shwab peppered passing racers with lively commentary and good old-fashioned cheers.

the fact that no one is actually riding bikes in the photos below is not lost on me. i realize that. but there was riding. really. there was.

Oct 26, 2008

USGP day 2

on saturday night, after our first day of racing; and our 6th day of guests and usgp course set up and race errands; as we all sat bleary-eyed around the dinner table - my husband declared he was too tired to race, that he felt like crap and was just going to take care of the kids and watch me race. that way, he wouldn't have to worry about finding kids' shoes (even though i had them all laid out by the door) or dealing with lulu's issues over the sock seam bothering her foot or getting to the course a little late cause he has to go to krispy kreme to get donuts to bribe kids out of bed that early to go stand in the cold, or needing to get wheels to the pit or missing any chance of a warmup cause the kids were whining within first 15 minutes of arrival. he didn't want to do any of that again. he just wanted to relax and have fun.

and so we got up insanely early to get me to the course. he had a shower and a cup of coffee and decided he felt a little better and declared he was indeed racing. so we started packing the car again with towels, blankets, hats, gloves, extra jackets, extra socks, gameboys, post race clothes and 100 water bottles. we go through our mental checklist & head out to day two of usgp racing. and we pull into the parking lot and i realize we never fed the kids breakfast, and my brand new brake pads were sitting on kitchen counter. and our youngest discovers she's really cold in the pants that i told her she would be really cold in if she insisted upon wearing them. so while steven runs his wheels to the pit, i help lulu get dressed in warmer clothes which includes a longer, warmer sock change which means i have to talk her through the seam issues with her socks. and my patience is wearing thin and my warmup window is closing. i am gritting my teeth which makes her cry and then i kiss her, say i am sorry; try to wrestle her fingers into some too-big gloves, tell her to go find her sister and then i ride around a soccer field twice for warmup and go line up.

and then i raced. and other than the fact that i was crazy nervous on the line -crazy nervous- i don't remember much - but i felt better and more confident and could tell my riding was a bit better than the previous day. the course was great, had some new off camber stuff and all the scary mud and wet leaves from previous day were gone. but still. its' cross. and this was a seriously grown up course. so it was hard. i was so crazy focused i could barely see. on the second lap, i was shocked to find two barriers that i swear, were not there on the first lap, nor were they there on all three laps the day before. there was a momentary what the fuck? who the hell put those damn things there? i had to run through the two back sandtraps to avoid the crashes in front of me and i pre-empted any "on your left ma'ams" by just moving aside and yelling go! to the little whippersnappers as they passed. and then i finished my race in one place higher than the day before, with one uci point. which feels sorta cool . and then i changed. and watched my husband race. and for someone who looked like hell the night before and said he couldn't do it - he looked awesome. i'd scream "go baby" so loud i made myself a little dizzy.

and then we hung out and would find our kids for a while and get them cookies or drinks or lunch and tell the girl in the craft tent with the cute puppies to kick them out if they got bothersome. and then we'd lose them again for a while. and we'd chat with friends, and drink beer and go to the back sandpit to see the mayhem back there & watch superfan in action. and then we'd go back to the run up, or to the green monster, or the beer tent, or the results board. and then we'd find our kids again.

and then at 1:45, same as the day before; i started to twitter the live action from the elite women's race and then again at 3 for the men's race. and i was totally excited to do this, but didn't really know what i was doing. i started off with a simple just state the facts ma'am sort of approach. but kept thinking it was pretty boring. the announcers were saying all kinds of cool things like "flogging like a mule" and "smackdown" and other cool, sporty announcer type stuff that i could never come up with on my own. hell, they'd go by so fast it was all i could do to see who it was and thumb it out before they came around again. so by the second day i thought i'd just go with a what he said approach, and throw my own flavor in here & there. thank you richard freis and rachel fagerberg for some of your witty quips and letting me peer over your shoulder to see the start sheets and lists of names.

i learned the iphone battery does not last very long when you are sending a text message every 30 seconds to 5 minutes for 2 hours and taking pictures of superfans and gorillas and fellow twitterers with the A from georgia goulds' name painted on his chest and signs that say "pedal your ass off". i eeked the results in both days with a glaring red line of a battery signal and ominous warnings off low battery life. i swear i think the battery was nearly dead just as i typed in the winner each day.

the races over, the results twittered in, and kids about to fall over from exhaustion, we head home to shower and have dinner. and get ready for an impromptu post usgp wrap party. it doesn't dawn on me until 8:00 that the kids have school the next day. i am briefly tormented between being a parent, staying home and putting my kids to bed so they can have a good nights' sleep after the crazy weekend, or dragging them out to go to a party. we chose the party. cause its the usgp. a once a year thing.

it has been one of the wildest weeks ever - a total, busy blast. i think i sat on my couch tonight for the first time since last tuesday. we still have two guests here that leave bright & early tomorrow morning. our guests have been amazing - it was all so comfortable and fun and easy. like we do this everyday sort of easy. its going to be quiet around here. my kids are in love with the race people dudes, as are we. and can't wait till they, and all the fun that they bring with them, racing and otherwise; return next year.

Oct 25, 2008

USGP day 1

cyclocross race #5 is complete. it wasn't pretty, but the fact that it was at the usgp totally made up for it. and i think the rockin' skull and crossbones knee socks provided the perfect diversion to sucky riding.

so. i wake up early and get my warmup in riding down to the race. i wanted to get there in plenty of time to visit sram neutral support, cause my bike was a mess. so, i get my pit pass and go find jose. and while i am standing there in the chilliness; my warmup goes to pot, i watch as jose starts to take my bike apart, and i cheer for teammates as they pass by the pit. i am slowly getting more and more nervous. cause he keeps taking more and more things apart. shit. my bike was a bigger mess than i thought. and he asks when my race starts and i tell him and he starts to work faster. he takes my shifter off completely and puts a new one on. and then he asks me how many times i have crashed in the sand and i say a bunch. i hear the call to the stage for women and i am still standing in the pit watching jose put shit back together. another call to staging and he's taping up my bars. he gives me my bike and sends me on my way with a "good luck" that was less than believable. i yell to the official as i ride out of the pit can you tell them i am on my way!? and i get to the line and i missed my sweet 4th place call up and now i am not on front line, but the second. not that it would make any difference in the end.

i thought the start was sorta scary. it was fast and crowded. this was biggest field ever and i swear, i almost went down when another woman and i got too close. on the post race briefing my husband told me that i had a good first 100 yards, but ran out of gearing. also think i ran out of guts when all those brakes started squealing as we started to turn off the road and onto the course. i soon found myself off the back. i moved up a couple of places, but would lose them again by the end of the race - due to all that crashing and all.

it may have been one of my worst races - being late to the line messed with what little mojo i had going in to this race. this is a grown up course. its tough. i had done a pre-ride the night before and it wasn't pretty. the most terrifying thing besides the sand, the mud, the slippery wet leaves was the green monster. this is a ginormous man-made obstacle of a flyover thingy. we ride under it at one point, and then towards the end of each lap, come around to the stairs - six of the steepest steps ever, a flat portion at the top and then a 45 degree astroturf covered ramp down. while watching this race last year, the green monster looks wild and fun and totally cool. when i got to the top of the flight of stairs last night i was very near panic attack. it looks way scary from up top. i wanted to cry. i thought i dont need no stinkin cyclocross. i can just go home. i let everyone else go before me. i would stand there & stare down the ramp and try to breathe, but i couldn't do it. then, on the first try, i totally fell at the top of the ramp. tool can. my husband was giving me pointers - keep pedals level and if you want to live to see another day, don't use front brake. after an embarrassingly long time up there trying to fight back the tears, i just did it. and it was terrifying. but a total rush at the same time. this is me. work in progress. just conquering the fears, one lap, one green monster at a time. - i can't even imagine what would have happened at the race today had i not gotten a chance to see the beast and conquer it (semi) alone last night. i still had to take a nano-moment at the top each lap today, but i did it.

there were countless "on your left ma'am" moments today as i got passed by more juniors than i care to think about. and its always so awesome to hear an 11 year old whiz by you and say 'you're doing great mrs. webster'. for the love of god. someone just shoot me. but hearing my kids scream the loudest from the turn just off the green monster "go mommy go!" was the best & made up for everything. they ran all over the place and caught me at a bunch of different sections.

i was worried about back sand pit which was long and deep and had a little lip of a hill at the very end. i worried that without the dane's hands all over my ass, i may not make it; but was thrilled to find on the first lap that i made it without incident. the second lap however, i made it to the lip, lost speed and hovered there on the little hill - i couldn't clip out & i started to roll backwards and then - i did a backwards endo/wheelie thing - front wheel up and over and me, flat on my back in the sand. it was a good show and i got lots of cheers when i got back on the bike to keep going. and that is what made it fun. i had a photographer tell me "a little secret" after a flying crash off the bike and into another sand pit "you gotta get up there". yes, thanks. didn't realize that. there were plenty more crashes and on the third lap, my shifter froze and i was stuck in the granny gear - just spinning out with no way to catch anyone.

so, while my racing (if you can even call it that) may have sucked, the crowd and everything else about the day was awesome. it was loud and noisy and fun and i had a blast.

there is much more to write and tell, but i am doing it all again over again tomorrow (minus the shitty riding, i hope) and have to go to bed.

Oct 24, 2008

twitter girl

i got a sweet new gig this weekend (in addition to racing in the usgp): i am the roving-reporter-crossmagazine-live-feed-twitter girl and will be posting race updates throughout the day. so. in the words of the dane: follow!

Oct 22, 2008

fly on the wall

you know how sometimes you wish you could be a fly on the wall and see what happens and what goes on behind the scenes, what is discussed, how it all happens, how it comes together and even better - what kind of drama is going to play out? i totally feel like a fly on the wall of the usgp and its ridiculously fun. i had assumed that this is the sort of tear your hair out stress inducing sort of event that just came with major drama and tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. this sort of drama has been lacking. its all been quite normal. as normal as suddenly being the temporary usgp headquarters can be.

i love being this close to the hub. getting the inside scoop. there is a lot of hunching over of laptops. there is a lot of checking of registration, and writing press releases at 4:30 am from dining room table. lots of jersey, jacket and signage fedex deliveries to our house. lots of emails. lots of surveying of a course, there are maps of possible routes all over our coffee table. there's lots of phone calls. one in particular from a pro racer who will not be arriving until late thursday because his sister is having a c-section that morning. and once the phone had been hung up, the thought of why can't his sister schedule that for wednesday instead so mr. pro elite racer can make it to the radio interview is jokingly tossed around. it is decided that radio interviews can be done by phone and then they are on to the next thing. which is lunch. at the local little bike shop cafe haunt.

then, last night as riders started their usual m.o. that is tuesday night cross practice at the local course and rode what they believed the race course would be; there were many stolen glances over at the two folks discussing the course layout. but the main guy who designs the course is staying at our house. and late last night, long after dinner was finished & dishes were done, steven and i sat down next to our guests and new friends and watched as he drew what the race course would be. that was it. done. at our coffee table. and i felt like a little kid with a ginormous secret - even if it was only for a few hours. its' gonna be great.

our guests are awesome. one of whom we already knew was awesome, but i love having two new friends out of the whole deal. two new friends who live in austria in case you ever want to go and visit and maybe run a marathon in graz. there's a fun bustle of activity and chatter about cyclocross, life in austria, kids, school, etc. there are ridiculously funny stories about all manner of crazy stuff and discoveries of what a small world it is i-cannot-believe-you-know-him-too sort of stuff. it suddenly feels perfectly normal to come downstairs at 6 am to find three people in your living room, in their pajamas, hunched over laptops, writing press releases. and then to hang out to talk business ideas and what kind of craft to make out of bicycle tubes in the kitchen while cooking scrambled eggs after the kids have gotten on the bus.

having houseguests who have just come off of blazes fast half-marathons who want to go for a run and ask you to go with them so you can show them a good route is amazing incentive to actually go out and run. and it must be noted that - firstly, i ran. secondly, that the girl (that would be me) who has been on a running sabbatical for six months still has sub 8 minute miles in her.

the kids are enamoured with our guests and as much as i remind our youngest what their names are, she loves to just collectively refer to them as "the race pepole dudes". the race people dudes and my husband and countless others have been down at the course all day pounding in the stakes that mark out the awesome new course. its almost here. we came off this weekend last year and immediately started looking forward to when the usgp returned. the usgp has returned and its' in our house right now and we're having a ball.

i swear, as i finish typing this post, the race people dudes walked in the house - fresh off a day of pounding in stakes. and they arrive bearing oodles of six packs of belgian beer. our houseguests are way fun.

Oct 20, 2008

squeaky wheel

so i had a bunch of errands to run today cause we've got "race people dudes" coming to stay for a bit. the "race people dudes" as my youngest refers to them are the owners/promoters of the usgp. the first race of which is this saturday. in our very own backyard. which is very cool and exciting.

two of the three people are staying in our airstream, one in the guestroom on an expensive blow up bed and i'm trying to be the perfect hostess and make it as nice as can be. i mean, they are putting on a ginormous race series. i can't even imagine the magnitude and stress of pulling something like this off. its a lot of work for not a lot of jack. a labor of love. so as i said, i want to make their stay as nice as can be.

the loo on the airstream is tiny. i'm talking knees hitting wall in front of you as you sit there tiny. and the ventilation is lacking. and we have a rule about no deuces on the bus, but i'm just sayin'. people break rules and sometimes it gets stinky. sometimes it needs some deodorizer tossed down there. the only place i know of that has the deodorizer is walmart. so i go to walmart to get the tank deodorizer and get distracted by the blow up beds. distracted and slightly mad. cause they are way cheaper than the one i just bought at costco for our guest. which had to be pruchased in the first place cause we threw away the guest bed mattress when we discovered that the dog had been peeing on it. so i tried to make myself feel better by thinking that i bet it would pop after a couple of nights of sleeping on it. cause it was that much cheaper. so i finally find the deodorizer in the camping section and am simultaneously tempted to buy cute campy things and freaked out by the very strange man in the hunting section fondling the neon orange blanket. i want to get the hell out of dodge before it gets really weird so i just get the deodorizer and go.

i get my deodorizer, witchy tights to wear to clandestine halloween cross race, pillows for guest blow up bed and i go home.

only to find that the deoderizer never made it into house. never even made it to the car. are you freaking kidding me? so i call walmart. hi. i was just there less than an hour ago and the lady didn't give me my bag off the circle rolly thing. she says wait a minute. then she comes back and says do you have your reciept? and i know i would have to dig through the garbage, so i just say do you have the bag? she says yes but you need your receipt to come get it. and i say how many people have called within the last hour to say they don't have their bag with toilet tank deodorizer and the pack of tupperware containers that were $2.50? she says wait a minute & then puts me on hold. for way too long. so i hang up and now i'm really mad and i go to walmart and wait in line and i have my new york turned up so high that girl is gonna wish she never even met me and i go up to the counter and tell her who i am and what i want and i don't have my receipt and she goes to get my bag and i go home. with my toilet deodorizer.

and then i get all happy and domestic and start to make meals for the week. because i figure if i can just pull something snazzy out of fridge & heat it up, all will be well with the world that is rife with the strife of pulling off ginormous race.

then i get an email from specialized about the water bottles. the water bottles that as far as i was concerned were being shipped today at the latest. only the email is a 'revised art proof'. now i'm really ticked off. and i turn the new york up full blast and write an email about how we spoke two weeks ago and finalized everything and how i understand that in the grand scheme of orders, some girl from kentucky placing an order for 200 bottles is probably not high on the list of priorities but for the love of god, dude - i have been tossed to three different sales people, we have already settled on a bottle that we did not originally want and for more than we wanted to spend all in the name of getting them here in time for usgp and because you realized you dropped the ball and haven't shipped them yet, you're gonna send me a 'revised art proof'? there's nothing to revise! we spoke! it was final! do you not recall that phone call? i got a team waiting for bottles and the perfect venue in which to sell more. right. in. my. back. freakin'. yard. and then i say that if they could rush the order and speedy ship it at their expense, that might make up for the headache. then i get an email back that says we'll have our bottles by friday. my husband always says you catch more flies with honey, but i love it when the squeaky wheel gets the grease. i've never been real good with the honey thing.

and then i'm happy again. and i am making dinner for the kids. hotdogs with grapes. so i put the hot dogs in the buns. and then i reach into the grape bag to pick some grapes off the stem and put on the kids plates, when i see something weird. omg. its a feather. a tiny bird feather. in the grape bag. so now i gotta go to krogers and dump the bag of grapes with the bird feather in it on the customer service counter. and i'm bummed i have to deal with one more customer service person. so i put dinner on the table and ride to krogers and show the lady the bag with the feather in and among the grapes. and she twists her face up and says what do you want us to do. and i say i don't know, what do you usually do when someone finds a feather in your grapes? do you pay their grocery bill for the week? she says no. but if i wanted more grapes i could just go get some. so i go to get more grapes and make a big deal out of inspecting the bag. and when someone looks at me weird, i say - you gotta be careful, cause sometimes there's bird feathers in with these grapes.

and so now the kids are finally in bed, the laundry is done. the airstream is ready for guests, the blowup bed is all made up, fluffy and expensive. there are meals and belgian beer in the fridge. and tequila and bourbon on hand in case of emergency. i always get a little crazy when people are coming to stay for a bit. cause i want it all to be perfect. but the curtains in the airstream loo are held up by duct tape, we have three kids, one crazy dog, one bathroom, and a mouse or two that occasionally run across the kitchen floor. its far from perfect. this is how we roll. we put the fun in dysfunctional. this is as good as it gets. welcome to our home. buckle up. its gonna be a wild(ly fun) week.

Oct 19, 2008

there's a first time for everything

including the thing you are most scared about on the bike; and for me that would be: skidding out in a turn and crashing.

we were pre-riding the new usgp course today with a bunch of teammates and it was great. i had all my new-found-at-harbin-park confidence up my sleeve and felt pretty good. i was thrilled to find that it wasn't just a one day confidence anomaly; there wasn't any of that ever present holy-shit-what-sort-of-danger-lurks-around-that-corner-fear. i could just ride. we were hitting the laps hard: doing the sandpits over and over, practicing the run ups. i was practicing reaching down for the downtube and shouldering the bike. i finally found the right line going into first not so sandy pit. i was practicing not using my brakes, although because it was slightly dewy out and we had been through the sand a bunch of times, lets just say the brakes were a bit noisy & everytime i squeezed them my husband would yell i can hear that! get off those brakes! damn that noisy sand caught on my brake pads.

so we do about a bunch of hot laps. and drilled the tougher obstacles over and over. and then a little bit more.

and then, we did a cool down lap. but really, everyone else's "cool down" lap is a medium lap for me. so as far as i'm concerned, its still fast. so i'm totally proud of myself as i go into a turn without braking - the turn went from grass, onto a sidewalk onto grass again, into a sandpit. so you wanna be going fast and have a little speed going into that little pit. but i was too wide - off the sidewalk a bit, and didn't even really realize it until i was down - when i turned to get back on the sidewalk, i hit the tiny curb and there was nowhere to go but down.

i've crashed a bunch of times on this course. more times than i can count - but its always been an easy spill over into the sand pit, or a slo-mo fall into pricker patch, or up steep hills on a too heavy mountain bike. this one was at some speed. and it happened so fast that i forgot to TUCK! which is the thing that i learned about when i googled what to do in a bike crash when i started racing this spring. -really, i totally googled that. and so instead of tucking, i landed on my elbow. which hurts. and i wanted to cry but i don't think there's any crying in cross. but my pedal made a really cool big scrapy mark of a dig in the sidewalk. and my leg was bleeding too. and apparently, a trickle of blood down the leg is a very desireable and badass thing to have in 'cross (cause everyone seemed pretty pleased & impressed) as is leaving your mark on the sidewalk and having your shifters scraped up a little bit.

so there. i got that whole skidding out in a fast turn onto hard pavement thing out of the way. and lived to tell the tale. which is good. cause the fear of what happened today always held me back. but now - been there, done that. don't need to be afraid of it anymore. it was an awesome practice on all kinds of levels.

Oct 14, 2008

out of the mouths ...

i'm always at my wits end over the mess in my girls' bedroom. we argue about it all the time. i say i can't understand how it can possibly get so messy. i say i can't even come in there anymore cause it just makes me so mad. i tell them they need to clean it. tomorrow. i say this everyday. then i say you are cleaning your room this weekend. do not go downstairs to watch cartoons, do not pass go. do not collect $200. clean your room. and they want to know what do not collect $200 means and i just say it means clean your room. and they say oh so earnestly we'll clean our room mommy, we promise. usually, they'll make some attempts, but mostly stuff is shoved under the bed, under the rug and in drawers. and then they start crying about how hard it is or argue about who isn't helping and pulling their cleaning weight and please can they just leave their room to have breakfast. so they come down for breakfast and then our day gets started or we all go off to some bike race and we forget all about the messy room till the next weekend.

my husband says that they know i will eventually break down and clean it myself. so they don't really give it their all. so i bite my tongue and don't touch a darn thing. i say i won't cave. insist their room can stay that way till the cows come home. i. will. not. cave.

i totally caved today. couldn't take it anymore. and we have guests coming. it's not like i really had two free hours to clean the room. i had a bunch of work to do. writing newsletters, water bottle orders, banner designs, race results to look up, laundry to fold, dishes to do, a house to vaccuum, school forms to sign, checks to write and halloween decorations to put up. but i caved and cleaned their room along with all that other stuff too. and cleaning their room included rearranging it. i love to rearrange.

so they come home from school. they take out their homework and have their snack of halloween cookies nice and warm from the oven. and then, they go upstairs and come running back down mommy! mommy! our room looks beautiful! thank you!

and they hug me.

and then, annabel says to me you should be a housekeeper.

Oct 12, 2008

so that's what it feels like to race cross!

today i finally, finally! got a taste of what everyone is talking about in regards to a cyclocross race. there was dry heaving, there was blurry vision, there were thoughts of throwingupbutsaveittilltheraceisover, there was omgthisissofuckinghardicantbelieveit, there was pleasedeargodwhenisitover and it was awesome.

i pre-rode the course with my husband and could not hide the shit eating grin on my face. within seconds of starting to ride it, i totally, absolutely loved the course. this course was mine. it was made for me. and this has never happened. it was all swoopy and flowy and had a bunch of long climbs including one crazy one after the dreaded downhill 180 degree turn into steep climb and two ginormous sand pits and very little crazy jacked up technical shit and it was perfect. it was 'cross course love at first ride.

they did call ups again at the start and i love the call ups. this was a UCI 1 race, which means it's the big time. i thought friday's field was deep, but it had nothing on today's' field. i think there were about 30 women lined up - about 15 in my race (masters' women 35+). usually, as i sit on the line of a 'cross race, i'm scared shitless about what lays ahead. i'm worried about turns or barriers or remounts or trees or getting impaled by a stake should i fall into one, or maybe an eagle will come out of the sky and pluck me off my bike. but today? i was so excited about the course, i could not wait to start riding it again. could. not. wait.

so the whistle blows and we're off. these races usually start on a wide open road and then turn into a narrow opening - the hole shot. (which is another one of those things that scare the bloody shit out of me). but i was not dead last going into this turn and the fact that i was just pumped to ride the course and not dead last at the start was a great feeling.

so i'm racing. and i'm really racing for the first time ever. there's no death grip on the bars, i feel good, in control and relaxed. that said: my mouth is parched, and i sorta want to throw up and i am riding so hard that at times its' hard to see, and i am not even thinking about the turns, or the stakes or the fact that i have brakes on my bike or how many girls i have passed because counting them off would have taken too much brain power. i am amazed at how fast i can do the little downhill and keep some serious speed into the uphill with a turn at the top and when i turn and my back wheel skids out a bit, but i keep pedaling and realize i didn't die, and i think i am totally cool and badass.

and thinking "you are rocking this race" and "i totally love this course" is infinitely better than: "you are not cut out for this" and "you're a pussy, hang it up".

in the past three races, i always finished with a ton left in the tank, because my skills and energy level (and irrational fears) never quite jived with each other. i would slow down and brake too much when things got too technical or when i was coming upon anything i deemed remotely "scary". but today's course suited me so well, i was finally able to race as hard as my energy level would allow. i left it all out there. finished with nothing left in the tank. i finally got to feel what it is like to race 'cross. really race it - not ride timidly for two laps and have a good last lap, but to race it right from the whistle to the very end. and its' awesome.

my stellar race was not the only awesome thing about the day. i met judi and dominic, and we totally chatted and hung out for a bit both before and after my race - and i heard judi cheering for me as i hit one of the sand pits (running, not riding!). i'm pretty sure they loved the whole cyclocross thing - i don't even know dominic, but definitely saw a little twinkle in his eye and am willing to bet there are two more 'cross converts in the world!

and then this: georgia gould might just be the coolest chick ever. she races in the later afternoon elite pro races, but is at the course for the first races in the morning; she's on the sidelines, with a cowbell cheering everyone on. and i mean everyone. no matter who you are or where you are in the pack, she has something specific to say to you that keeps you going. i heard her at the barriers say "i know it hurts girl, keep going". omg. georgia gould just said she knows how i feel and told me to keep going. i heart georgia gould.

it was a big 3 race weekend of cyclocross - i raced 2 days and my husband raced all three (and is currently in a post race stupor of a coma on the couch - the beer may fall out of his hand and hit the floor momentarily). my husband got a top ten on saturday and sunday and a sweet 2nd place podium on friday. every woman on my team who raced got a top 10 finish (in ginormous fields!) each day including yours truly.

but now, my house looks as if we've been racing all weekend and we have usgp houseguests coming soon and i need to clean the house and the airstream and get banners and business cards made and get back to real life. as soon as i come down from my 'crossy high.