Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The confidence game: daring to compete.

Hello from beautiful British Columbia!

Hoo boy.  Can you believe it's the end of May already?  I can't. Grandma warned me that time speeds by at an accelerated pace as you get older, and as usual, she was right.  Jeez. Seems like just yesterday it was 2013. I have a task list as long as my arm, and every day I am surprised to see another evening come along with so many items still left undone. 

I like to take stock of my favourite things .  Every day I like to think of my three favourite moments, but some things just stand out over time, heads and shoulders above the march of days into weeks, months, and years. Like My First Race. (Grandma also said that sometimes half the battle for success is won in having the courage to enter the fray, but I'm pretty sure she never tried road racing.)  I've entered a few races now, and though it's always a challenge to stay with the pack and not be dropped, those fast rides with other cyclists always qualify as one of my favourite things.  You can tell that I am enjoying myself despite the fact that I suck, because I am almost always grinning like an idiot.

This photo was taken near the end of my first 64 km Australian pursuit road race, and long after I'd been dropped from the group I started with. That's Ed in front of me, and his expression is indicative of  what normal people look like in that particular situation. Mine is an indication of how small my brain is. (Well, that and the fact that my bike is always my happy place.) The race consisted of four 16 km laps around this lake:

We landed right beside the lake shortly before the race began

and unpacked our bikes from the pretty bird.

Actually, it's surprising how much stuff you can fit inside a helicopter, which is a good thing, since mounting a roof rack is out of the question.

There's almost always room for a yoga mat, and you certainly wouldn't want to leave home without that!

So we landed, registered for the race, and rode, and though I did give it my best, it wasn't long  before I got dropped. There were a few younger riders who passed me, and each time I managed to hang on for a bit before I found myself riding solo again.  Let me tell you, getting dropped really sucks.  When you're riding in a pack, and you're tucked in behind the lead rider(s) there's a whole lot of draft carrying you along.  It's like being in a boat on a river moving downstream in a strong current.  When you get dropped, suddenly you find yourself swimming upstream.

By the time Ed found me, I'd finally caught my breath again after keeping up with the fast young bucks for as long as I could before they, too, dropped me.  That one happened on a roundabout I'd foolishly slowed down for. It was a painful lesson presented to me at the weekly criteriums, too, but I think I've finally figured it out.  All this time I've been doing it wrong, you see.  I always slowed down as I approach a corner and then accelerate again as I come out of it.  That's how I was taught to drive a motor vehicle, too. Silly me. Turns out you're meant to head into a corner hell bent for leather and come out of it faster still. Simple.

So for the last lap and a bit Ed and I took turns pulling, which was great compared with forging on alone.  By the time those photos of us were taken, my legs were jelly.  I couldn't stand up on them any more or they'd just give way, so I didn't even try.  Lol! Look! By the very end it looked as if I was about to fall off the bike!

I had nothing left in me, which surprised me enormously, since I regularly ride farther than that. As we made our way back across the straight I recall feeling so bad that at one point it occurred to me that it would be okay if we crashed into the water below, because if I died in a fiery explosion it would at least put an end to the agony. 

Bill figured it was motion sickness, and he had me lay down as soon as we landed in Vancouver, bless him.

Maybe he's right, but I felt pretty rough for a couple of days after that, so who knows?  But I'm all better now, even if I still struggle not to get dropped during the races.  Often I am the only girl in sight, but on Tuesdays there's a ladies' race, which I've done all of once now.  They were actually moving at a pace I figured I could handle, and I was so happy to have found girls on bikes that I started babbling to the women in the peloton, as I tend to do. Suddenly I found myself all on my lonesome again. Turns out it's important to keep your mouth shut and stay on your toes so you can sprint when everyone else does!  Who knew? A little while later on, after spending a bit of time on my own,  I found another girl named Melissa who had also been dropped, and we  shared the pulling until the men's group passed us.  Then we rode with them for the rest of the criterium,  because in my books, any draft is a good draft.

Just like any bike ride is a good ride.  You'll find me on two wheels almost every day of the week, every month of the year...

...stretching myself, pushing my limits

... exploring this gorgeous town, and sharing my discoveries with you.

Oh! I almost forgot.  Here's an early innovator for you, a confident someone who dared to put it out there:

How many of you have any idea who this is? Do you know the significance of the bike in the frame? Personally, I wouldn't have had any idea if someone hadn't spelled it out for me.  Let me know what you think, mkay?

Friday, 16 May 2014

An uplifting experience: flights of fancy and my very first race!

Hello.  Greetings and salutations from a place that looks a lot like heaven on Earth.  Isn't it beautiful?  So peaceful... so green, so clean.

Not like me. I feel hot, sweaty, and dirty to the core, and you KNOW that takes some doing. 

(Forget the disembodied hand! 2014 is all about the dis-en-handed body.)
 I like to sweat so hard I get a bit crusty.  And let's talk about snot, baby! I embody dirty. I even play well with Dirty dirty! I'm a dirty girl inside and out, through and through, but I love pretty things, and clean and shiny things and now I'm torn. I wore my  favourite jersey tonight when really  I should have tossed it out, it's so badly stained...

It's a hermetic thing: as above, so below, as within, so without, but it's alright. I own it.

                                                              Dirty is Who. I. Am.

So when I tell you that I feel dirty, it really means something. My smugness quotient took a serious hit last weekend, and what's worse, I liked it.  Ok, sure, I have big feet,but my carbon footprint? It's decidedly modest, and it always has been.  Mine's tiny compared to most of the rest of the rest of you car-dependant first-world peeps, or at least it was. That's past now. History. I lost my helicopter virginity the very same day I lost my race virginity.  How cool is THAT?

 You could definitely say I caught a lift to my first race last Saturday. Heh heh.  

There was a surprising amount of room in there!

And a boot, to boot.
You see?  I am the very luckiest girl. Ever.

That's Bill Yearwood, the guy at the helm of the BC Master's Cycling Association, and the spiritual leader to BC's road racers.  He's awesome.  Inside and out. I met him on my first vet ride, and he has done loads already to help me become a better racer.  He very kindly made me feel like Queen for the day of my first race.  In the short time I've known him, Bill has already enhanced the babbleverse forever.  For example, he taught me that when your hands start to get numb, you will find instant relief, you will  free the pinched nerve by just putting your hand behind your back, resting it against your tailbone.  You see?  That's priceless. What's more, I am in stellar company!  Bill has helped all kinds of cyclists over the years including my hero Svein, and that's why everyone in this town knows Bill. Everybody.  He's whatchacall a mover and a shaker, Bill.   

He made sure I would always remember my first race. Who cares if I burned years of carbon karma in one afternoon?  It was gorgeous.    I saw beautiful BC from a whole new perspective. 

The Fraser River has a profound impact on everything for miles around, but when you cross the Georgia Straight to arrive in the Gulf Islands, everything changes.

I've been through Active Pass on BC Ferries countless times, but I've never seen it quite like this before:

I lived on Salt Spring Island for years, but I never saw that place with it's own little Stonehenge before.

I loved it.

When we landed in Mill Bay we became the entertainment for some of the locals, and fair enough.

 After all, how often can you say "It's raining Freds! Hallelujah!" ?

I was grinning from ear to ear all day long, even in the middle of the second race, a 12 km Australian pursuit climb.  I'm too dense to go up easily, so you know how much that hurt. Still I was happy as Larry. 

I ride as far and wide as I possibly can every chance I get, because my bike is my happy place.  Even when life is overwhelming, challenging, painful and difficult a ride helps me find a place inside where I find my quiet space of inner peace. It's well within the realm of possibility that I'm a wee tiny bit of an adrenaline junkie, though, because the faster, the better. Even though I have the  need for speed I've never raced before. I always figured that since I didn't compete as a teenager or a youth, that I had missed missed the boat somehow, that there was no place for me in competitive sport. Then I met Lido.  He did start racing as a youth; he just never retired.  He introduced me to a  new community of cyclists here via the Vet ride in Richmond on Sundays. When I learned of Olga Kotelko, magnificent Olga, I found a whole new hero to emulate, and you KNOW I need as many of those as I can get. 

Olga inspires me to push myself to my limits, and that's why I wore my best cheeky grin all through the first race, too. That one was a short, steep climb, and my raw score was three minutes eleven, but they took time off for the records because I'm an old lady.  Strava never gives me points for being a girl OR for surviving life on planet Earth for so long, so I expect this segment doesn't quite match up to the official race course..

The rest of the ride didn't even show up on Strava, and the GoPro was in some bizarre setting I couldn't figure out, so there is no other evidence of the day's events but this:

Now hang on a second!!  Before you get all "Wow!  Congratulations!!" on me, just wait one minute. Several of you have already offered your congratulations, and one lovely couple even gave me roses! Wow. Thank you!! But you should know that they gave out more medals than there were riders. One of my medals, for example, is for being the top female competitor in the event, which is a HOOT, because I was the only female competitor in the event! Lovely Bill was kind enough to tell me that I am the number one ranked female master's cyclist in the province.  What he didn't mention, bless his heart, is that it's only cause it's very early in the season, a flash in the pan for me to treasure.  That, and the fact that there are never a lot of girls in the peloton.  Sad, but true. And that's crazy!! Honestly. Girls, you have NO IDEA what you're missing out on. 

Heh heh. No idea. C'mon, haven't you ever wondered about the cyclists' very own version of the chicken and egg conundrum thingy? You know the one: Do hot guys make the best cyclists, or does cycling make the hottest  guys? I think about it often.  I can't help it.  Lately I've found myself in the company of leagues of fast, fit, fabulous cyclists, and most of them are men. What's not to love about that?  (Well, I do wish for more girls... it's nice to share:)
Ok, so the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is I am sure that I am sure there were more medals than riders at that event, though I wasn't exactly counting. It seemed as though most folks won something, though I can't be sure of that. What I can be sure of is that there were a few riders who won a lot of medals. A girl has a feel for this sort of thing. In the absence of any podium girls in our midst, it fell to me to hand out the medals, which meant there was a LOT of kissing going on. Wait. So let me get this straight. There are lots of hot cyclists here, and I'm supposed to what?! I'm supposed to kiss everyone?  Really?! :D 

Yup, so that was pretty cool, too. You see why I love my life... 

My first ever race day was just like living in a  fairy tale...  I am so blessed. It was a Dream Come True kind of day, and the best bit is that we get to do it again very soon.  The road race part was delayed a week, so it's this coming Sunday, and yes, we're flying over again!!  Everywhere I go, everyone knows Bill, and everyone loves him.  It's really easy to see why.  He spent his day on Thursday flying dozens of disadvantaged youths around in an effort to open their eyes to the skies and to the potential and possibilities within themselves.  He is a force of nature, Bill, and a true pillar of the community.  All I can say is "Quack," cause I'm a lucky duck.

Sooo... wish us a great big sucker-hole in The Duncan skies this Sunday, mmmkay?  Then these legs can go go go! :D

Monday, 5 May 2014

What you resist persists: taking another spin around the feedback loop and promoting the elixir that cells itself!

Hello from Vancouver!  

Stupid o'clock in Stanley Park this week.
Ok, so there are a few things on the agenda today.  First of all, to the lovely reader who ever so kindly upgraded my Strava account to premium... Wow.  Thank you!!  That was very kind of you.  :D  xo

And to that other very thoughtful person, the one in Nevada who went out and purchased a tongue scraper, wrapped it in paper and put it in a box,  and then wrapped the box and shipped it off to Vancouver? Thank you kindly, too.  Just one thing, though... er... what's up with the box?

Now, I can't speak to the situation in Nevada these days, precisely. I do know that when my dear old Aunt lived in Fredricksburg, VA in 2010, she couldn't get a high speed internet connection for love nor money.  She lived in what is arguably the most densely populated seaboard on the planet and yet she was told her town was too "rural" to qualify for high speed access. Unbelievable. At the time I figured it was part of the US government's program to dumb down the population, but then I've become a little cynical in my middle years. Anyhoo. I would have thought that padded envelopes, which do in fact fit inside your average mailbox, were ubiquitous in this day and age.You'd think that a place so renowned for being an entertainment mecca would have those little bubblewrap envelopes you'll find in any kinkos anywhere. Still, it's entirely possible that the padded envelope skipped Nevada the very same way that high speed broadband skipped Virginia.  You know. The way I missed the tongue-scrapers next to the toothbrushes.. 

Anything is possible.

Right?! Anything.  If you can imagine it... 

I love it. What a concept, a bespoke little tool like that. Thank you, Nevada friend. :) Plus, if it weren't for the trip to the post office to pick up that parcel of tongue scraper, I might never have remembered to take the photo of the remnants of the original Georgia St viaduct. So that's a good thing. I had fun with that post, when all was said and done.  Oh!  Also, I was right about the scraping/drinking water first thing in the morning. Ha!  So you're doing it, right? Do it do it do it do it do it do it do it do it do it do it do it!! <3  :D  

It really helps, in the same way a ride at dawn sets you up for the day.

Ok, so there's something we really have to talk about.

Er. Dooders. I'm shocked.  Seriously. I can't believe it.  My very small brain often needs to be spoon fed, but you were meant to connect the dots. I am all about feedback, though, and the evidence is abundantly clear.  You haven't figured it out yet. It's crazy.  After all, we're CYCLISTS.  Right?  I can't believe something of this magnitude eludes you, and yet evidently it's true. 

I was duty bound to give you the kiss list first because it really is a sound foundation for a healthy body, heart, and mind. You remember it, right?  The KISS list is the short-hand mantra for a long-haul lifestyle: 

move bounce breathe purify love-a-lot laugh and sleep.

You already know I am peddling my ass. In the quest for quantum healing of my sick n twistedness,  I've learned the art of making a perfect ass of myself. It's not all about ass, either.  My legs are ripped, too... 

Sometimes I want to wear Superman tights and save the world. I am definitely trying to make it a better place by spreading health, happiness and wellness. And perfect ass-ness.  I want to help you express your best self, to Be the change you want to see in this world.


I GAVE YOU THE DOPE.  Ok, sure it was sort of on the down-low, but I slipped you the old magic handshake!  I gave you the modern world's solution to everything AND YOU DIDN'T TAKE IT!  What kind of cyclists ARE you, anyway?  Hmmmmmm?  

Listen.  The  KISS list is all well and fine, and you already know you're going to hear all about it ad nauseum, but let's be honest.  Let's cut to the chase and talk about the pink elephant in the middle of the velodrome, mmmkay? Cycing is all about cheating.  Seriously. If you think about it, you'll have to admit that "taking the easy way out" is the very essence of the sport. What, you don't believe me?  Do you suffer from some delusion of noble intent? Ok, then tell  me. If not for cheating, how else is it possible to go SO fast with SO little effort expended? Hmmm?! You see?  I rest my case.  

It's the nature of the beast.

Bikes are the best form of go-fast cheating.

Cycling is a no-brainer and dope is for dope.  It's a perfect fit. The mere scent of the fount-of-vitality in a bottle should have all of you clever Freds queuing up to try it out.  It's a go-fast supplement.  Forget Red Bull...  

Protandim is perfect. It's naturopathic.  It's potent. Five plant extracts work together to stimulate your body's own production of powerful anti-oxidants in the form of Nrf2, something everyone has in abundance as children and youth, but less so as they age. Oxidative stress is the foundation of ageing and disease, and I am offering you a lovely little tablet to help you combat exactly that. Protandim reduces oxidative stress in the body by 40% in three weeks.  

Would you ignore the elixer of youth itself?

Oh wait.
Are you a fred's fred, a card carrying member of dorkdom?  

Hooray! Me, too! :D  
Don't worry. Protandim is WADA approved, and safe for people of all sporting stripes.

Try it.  Click here and give it a go. Within a month or two, people will be asking you what you're doing differently...

  And I want to know, too. How is your body changing?
Please share your stories with me, ok?