Thursday, February 25, 2010

Icebike 2010

From February 7, 2010

I’ll save you the suspense. I came in last. But they posted the results sometime late yesterday and two guys in my category DNF’d so you can say I at least beat them. I’m not sure what possessed me to want to do this race. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve been dying to ride my bike outside for several months and nothing was going to stop me. But I couldn’t just go out on my front street and ride. I needed RATIONALE to do it. A race is rationale. People such as myself who lack mountain bike handling skills and balance all wisely stayed home this morning and did more sane activities, like shoveling their overflowing driveways. (Speaking of which, mine is not done yet). It was -17. There was wind chill (-30). And there was lots of fresh powdery snow. Lots.

And then there was my always friendly taunting of Terri. I taunted her to the top of Mount Lemmon last week, surely I could taunt her into a snowy bike ride. I was on the fence about actually showing up to this race right until mid afternoon on Saturday when she said that regardless of having to be at choir practice at 1:00, that she’d be there. So in the process of unpacking yet more boxes in my basement came a period of reorganization when I dug my mountain bike out from behind my pile of future garage sale wares, checked the tires, not as flat as I expected, (and later that night, Stig told me not to pump them up. I would have more traction with them a little on the flatter side), and I knew at that point there was no turning back.

It was a rush in the morning because the Woodcock website said they would be taking sign-ins and registrations till 1100. I had to get my kids to my parents' so I drove by the forks, signed in with what cash I had in my wallet (the last dollar of the $25 fee included pennies and nickels and dimes), then dropped the kids off at Mom and Dad’s and then back to the forks. After I unloaded my bike I did a trial ride through the streets of the Forks to Johnston’s Terminal. I was slipping and sliding all over the place with no grip. This was NOT going to be good.

11:30: NO Terri. At about 20 minutes before the noon start time I start to head over to the race start. i only see one other girl and she is wearing a Team Manitoba cycling jacket. Great. I am wearing only my Tribalistic jacket and a base layer and my running room tights with cycling shorts underneath. I had forgotten my sunglasses but when I saw how the snow was blowing, I borrowed a fashion, rather than sporty, pair from my mother. It’ll do. I had made a last minute decision given the slipping and sliding conditions, NOT to clip in. Unfortunately, I also had not made the best decision in foot ware that morning so I was wearing my leather “fashion” boots. At least they are flats, but there is not much tread on the bottom to grip them to the bottom of my metal SPD pedals which are not much bigger than my watch. So I’m not looking like a pro. I don’t ride like one either.

11:55: STILL NO Terri. I’m already planning her early demise. Man I already cannot feel my fingers and toes.

11:59: Someone bumps the front wheel of my bike with their tire. Ah Terri…… OK. Here we go. We joke about dropping down to the one lap race. They do row call and my call of presence is less than enthusiastic. Terri laughs at me. They send off the Abominable 3 lap racers.

12:05: Race start. Three pedal strokes in and I already am cursing. My feet are slipping off my pedals at high cadences so I resort to grinding in a higher gear. I am missing my clips already because the race route has been groomed and this is much easier riding than the streets. I am lacking my power pull up on my pedals being unclipped. I can’t feel my fingers so shifting gears is hard. There is one gear that every time I set into it, my bike decides to have a mind of its own and shifts spontaneously. One kilometer in and I can no longer see Terri up ahead. My computer is functioning even in this cold. I’m doing about 12 km per hour.

Most of the race course is straight and well groomed. There is a couple of sharp turns, there is a section of grass on the slant of the river bank, there are stairs to go down and there is another big downhill that is like plowing through sand. I walk these. I don’t have a lot of grip in these boots for this but I made my choice to race like this. Most of the trail I ride. I can’t feel my hands and I am pretty convinced I am only going to be able to manage one lap. I am too cold. Then after running my bike up this big grassy section I suddenly realize that shifting has become easier. I can feel my fingers again. And I am feeling them more and more with each pedal stroke.

I am way behind and all the kids from the one lap race have passed me by now. Thankfully none of the 3 lappers have caught me yet. I hit a patch of pavement under the Provenchier Bridge and I look back at my back tire. It looks completely flat. I have a pump. The next thing I know I am back at the start of the lap. I get off and someone helps me pump my back tire. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought but I probably needed a break and I needed to clear my nose. My fingers are warm now. I no longer have an excuse to quit, I have to keep riding.

The second lap is better but my quads are burning. Probably half of the 3 lap field has passed me by the end of the 2nd lap. Terri is waiting for me at the end. (She was about 10 minutes ahead of me). It was one of those races where I cursed being there the whole time and then when it was over I was ready to go again. Maybe next year I should start winter commuting. Hmmmm? Now that I have a safer and shorter ride to work, that should be manageable.

You're really fast and pretty but a little cold and hard.... you'll do!

From January 25, 2010

So tonight I show up at the Monday night Tribalistic workout with my new bike. And before I am allowed to get on and ride, Michael, who was coaching for the evening as he does every Monday, lifts my bike and trainer into the center of the room and proceeds to begin pouring plastic wine glasses with Gatorade to everyone but me. I honestly had no clue what was going on. I was then adorned with an ivory coloured bow for my head and my bike with a black bow tie (after all, I did say, my bike was a He). He then whips out the Cyclist's Training Bible (really, that is the title) and proceeds to read the following:

I believe this is before the ceremony started. I had absolutely no idea what was going on here.

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here to celebrate the union of a rider and her new bike. As we all know it is a relationship that we should not enter into lightly because the hours we spend in the saddle often exceeds the time we spend with some members of our family. We travel together with our bikes, we take them on vacation. Together we see miles and miles of beautiful scenery. Some of our highest and most exhilarating moments are experienced on bikes, and inversely, surely some of our lowest moments too.

Like in all good relationships, the more time you spend together, the closer you feel to one another. You grow with one another and you change together, perhaps growing more alike. Certainly the bike will grow more handsome and dignified in time as he gets scratched up and abraded with use. And hopefully the rider will morph into a steely cycling machine.

If you commit to a bike -- maintain it and respect it -- the bike will return your love and reward you with rich experiences. It's a sacred relationship that is worthy of exchanging vows, so,

Kim, Do you promise not to covet sexier time trial frames in transition?

Do you promise to maintain the bike, clean and oil its chain, keep his derailleur in tune and learn how he works so that you can do basic repairs as necessary?

Do you promise to not upgrade any of his stock parts in a bid to go faster, when instead more smart training would probably do the trick?

Will you endeavour to wear out the bike before you grow weary of his style and trade him in for a more fashionable and youthful model?

(Kim, naturally, says, "I do")

Bike, Do you promise to make Kim faster and more agile?

Will you forgive her when she rides you in the slush of Spring, the road grit that sprays up in the rain and the bleaching UV rays of a searing summer sun?

Will you cushion the bone jarring and teeth chattering vibrations of the road in Manitoba?

Do you promise not to be a searing pain in the neck, back and ass?

(On behalf of "bike", Krauss says, "I do.")

I pronounce you ride and rider. You may straddle the bike.

I then am asked to stomp on one of the plastic wine glasses (wrapped in an Ironman Canada plastic bag) for good luck.

I seriously think I am laughing harder retyping these vows that I did having them read to me. I can appreciate them more in retrospect while not feeling so stunned. I was the picture perfect blushing bride.

Michael reading from the Cyclist's Training Bible (Joe Friel, 4th edition). Naturally, the right bible for a bike wedding.

So that is it, I am officially married. To a bike. And thanks to Michael Krauss for the effort he obviously put into this ceremony. He seriously has too much time on his hands.

"I got married tonight, 15 guests present. The bride was adorned in orange seamed cycling shorts and technical shirt. the groom whore a lime green tux with silver accents, black bow tie, and ultegra cumberbun. The proceedings were conduced by Father Krauss of the Church of Tribalistic. Vows were spoken. A toast was given to this new relationship with a tasty red wine from the Gatorade vineyard, vintage 2010. Yes it is all true. I am hitched."

Oh and the bike rides beautifuly. Changes gears on a dime. The techy's ooohed and ahhhed over the ultegra. It is one fantastic ride. I am sure this will be a long satisfying relationship.

Life changes

Yeah I know. It's been a while.

I had a little blow up. Those who know me well know I have done this before. I coast along with a vague sense of disatisfaction and then I simultaneously change everything. In this case, I realized it was time to get out of my house. It was the house I bought with my husband and there were places in it I just couldn't go and sit and relax because they were places that I perceived still belonged to him. It was time for me to make my own space. 

So my fall, starting at around October 13th, looked like this:

End relationship with boyfriend. Look for house. Two weeks later, buy house. A week and a half later, get house on market for showing. Six days later sell house. Two weeks later, move. And all this took place while I was working full time and had picked up an extra course and while I was single parenting 57% of the time and while I was still exercising about 4 hours a week (a significant reduction).

Somewhere in the middle of all that I went out for a casual dinner with a friend who I'd met about a year and a half before at a triathlon. We had hit it off immediately at that first meeting and we ran into each other at various cycling and other sporting events throughout that period. He had become my occasional confident and a sure friend and I knew I adored him. So we had dinner and we had a long conversation and we enjoyed every second of each other. He advised that I stay away from men for a very long time. I said that was DEFINATELY the plan. He told me he was signing up for ironman again because he was giving up on looking for a relationship. I said that sounded like a very good idea. We parted with a hug ready to stick with our goals. He signed up for ironman the next morning. Two days later I was emailing him suggesting we reprise our dinner from several months before where he had made me mussels and wine. We set a date for two weeks later.

And I guess that is how it happens. She vows to stay away from men for a very long time, he signs up for ironman to stay away from women, and then we find each other. It was a pleasant and beautiful surprise.

So now the house is settled. The unpacking and decorating are done. The relationship is flourishing. Its time to write.