Build a Bridge and Get Over It

Build a Bridge and Get Over It

It has taken me over a week to be able to sit down to write about last weekends experience at Sunny King Criterium, (my first race of the season on the Pro Road Tour-PRT).  One thing I wanted to do throughout this season is to make sure to write about the awesome times of my cycling adventures, but also, the bad..... Now days, with the self-promotion of social media, it's so easy to see only the glorious window of someone's life, but little do we see the struggle, let down, and sometimes epic failures.  It's hard facing defeat, especially publicly.  Social media can be hard to follow sometimes, just this week....I was checking out my newsfeed on instagram, and I  see a world champion discuss the two flats, and mechanical she obtained in her race- and yet STILL finished 5th overall.  Overcoming all obstacles is quite glorious, but sometimes impossible.  

There are so many mixed emotions since Sunny King Criterium, but at the same time, it was a weekend of, "Well, there goes THAT."  I needed my first race to just get-over-with-it kind of thing, and that will be the ONLY purpose SKC served.....getting the first race jitters out!  First off, the weather was miserable....freezing  COLD and WET and WINDY.... it began drizzling before the pro women's race, which meant, I knew that the bigger teams were going to be smashing the pace to get a break-away, since some riders may be a little hesitant in the weather. I was ready to slam the power.  I was expecting it, but I hadn't ridden or performed intervals in the cold.....MY LUNGS SHUT DOWN.  Legs felt great....lungs not so much....I began coughing and I haven't really stopped this entire week.  I struggled with asthma growing up, but have not had too many issues in a few years, until this weekend. My lungs shutting down like that really shocked me, I didn't know what was happening, and before I knew it....Game OVER. 

Good to see that the Pro Women's field is not letting up.

I didn't know what to expect after 7 months of training (no racing) so I was ready for anything and my expectations were not set crazy high.  It all happened so fast, I am more disappointed, and hate, that I didn't even have the opportunity to negotiate with my body.  My lungs said no, and there was "no-go."  Usually, if I am struggling, I can set 30 second,  1 min, or "just 3 more minutes" but usually, by my goal time, the pace slows, I recover, and hang in there for the finish.  Like I said, well, there goes THAT.

Besides the weather and my body choosing not to participate on Saturday night, I was ready to put it behind me to move on to the Piedmont Road Race, which I was expecting to be extremely challenging.  By this point, my husband and daughter both have the stomach virus, and I knew they were both miserable.  Well, we bring a camper to travel which we LOVE, but the heater electricity kept skipping all. through. the. night.  It was FREEZING. A few minutes of shut-eye, vomit everywhere in the camper. Let's just say, I was OVER IT. 

I decided to try to have some kind of redemption, or at minimum, a good training ride for the piedmont road race while my husband and kids slept in.  At this point, I didn't give two flips how I did and I felt like a winner for just showing up.  Funny thing, the race directors decided to combine the Pro-Women and Master's Men 1/2/3.  Which meant, I would be racing with a very strong Men's Master's field which included my coach (who still races pro). Ouchy.

However, I surprised myself and hung in there on the climbs and completed the race with a solid sprint. I felt surprisingly good considering all the shit, literally, that had happened from this weekend of hell.  The peloton split in half at the first major steep climb, I thought I was in good position being behind several men....little did I know these guys were struggling to keep up with the pro women and ended up gapping me on the climb. WHHHAAT?!!! There was NO WAY I was going to be able to climb any harder and close the gap to the front group......  Front group gone. Disappointment, again for the weekend, but I was numb to it because I was just happy to be riding, challenging myself, and that I was being productive (not feeling sorry for myself).  

I just kept digging, and I immediately started thinking, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???? Well, first thing, I had a little too much confidence in the men.  Which makes me laugh, because training and riding with primarily men, I hear (some) derogatory jabs and micro aggressive behavior towards the pro women's field sometimes. "I wonder if the women could  keep up with the men." That's just one comment I encountered after the weekend about the two men and women fields being combined.  I JUST CAN'T.....  Many of these women race and train full time for a living, and to say they couldn't keep up with the men?!?!?  Let's just say the women DID NOT get dropped, and the few men that were left had to sprint for dear-life to not get beat by a woman.   I am thankful for the directors putting the fields together because I feel like it shed a new light on women's racing and opened eyes to the strength of the women's pro peloton. 

I am proud to say my coach won the sprint.  

 

 

Powering up for Sunny King (PRT)

Powering up for Sunny King (PRT)

Preparing this week for my first race of the pro season is exciting and I can't deny being slightly anxious and nervous.  I haven't raced with the pro women since September and a lot of training and fitness has been acquired since that date.....  7 months to be exact.  Let's just say I'm over the trainer rides , long rides, and I am officially READY TO RACE! At this point, I just want to see what my legs feel like since the last time raced them....Since this summer, and after getting sick last year,  I have taken on a completely different training program, hired a professional cycling coach,  and decided that I wanted to commit to the training program that could develop me as a pro level rider.  It was a big decision to take on a training program that could allow me to race at the pro level-  because I am a mother, I work, and I want to have a small life outside of cycling.  In the beginning I felt like I couldn't possibly balance it all, and I didn't want my family to suffer because I wanted to chase some dream of racing at a demanding level, but with the right coaching, encouragement, and balance, it has been something that has been very achievable this year.  My family will always be first....and then cycling.

Just because you have a family, or you are a mom, doesn't mean you have to throw away any dream or goal you may have, or develop, in your adult life.   I believe, in fact, I will be a better example of strength, determination, perseverance, and fun that I can show my kids.  Life and dreams don't end when you have a family, and when your family sees you chasing dreams, pushing forward, and being the best version of yourself- It encourages your children to find their passion as well (without saying or mentioning a word).  Since I began training to race pro, my children have flourished in their grades and athletics. My husband is healthier, and is being coached now as well, and we are the happiest our family has ever been. Making that decision to train at the pro level is the best decision I have made for my health, family (believe it or not), and for myself.  

It has been a very fun adventure with this journey of cycling has allowed me to travel and meet some amazing strong men and women along the way.  I have so many people that I look up to and I recognize all of the different gifts  and talents within the women's peloton and it makes me appreciate every single person that makes racing so challenging, and yet, so much fun.  I can't wait to see how everything stacks up this weekend. 

A friend of mine is loaning me a go pro for the race so I am looking forward to uploading the event from my perspective!

April Fool

April Fool

Happy Easter and April fools! Im looking forward to my first race with the Pro women this weekend for the first race on the Pro Road Tour (PRT). The past few weeks have been beautiful weather and I've been able to get some good rides in the past few weekends.  This week I will be getting ready for the Sunny King Criterium (2018) and so I got in my last dig this weekend with a fun ride with the guys and Pursuit Cycling,  before prepping this week for the race weekend.  Lots of water, rest, vitamins, *try* to stay stress free, recover, NO alcohol, and organizing for the race weekend.  Of course, prepping my bike and making sure any kinks are worked out at the Trek Store Mobile, AL before the weekend.....

 I am always looking forward to the hype of sunny king, but being the first race on the PRT means the vibe is hype and everyone is amped which can mean CRASHES.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about this race.  Lining up next to some of the strongest women in the country with more experience I could ever imagine is intimidating.... Last year, there were roughly 4 crashes in the women's Pro race and I avoided all but the last which essentially wiped me out of the race.  It was unexpected, being the SECOND crash up the climb where someone lost their wheel and boom!  It will be extra important this race to move up and ride in a good position throughout the race.  This may mean that I expend more energy than I want, but for now, this is my plan.  The draft isn't worth the crash at this early in the season.  Hopefully, I can post again about some race day prep ideas!

Bikation & A Hug From Nature

Bikation & A Hug From Nature

Check out that view from Oak Mountain in Birmingham, AL.

It took my breath away, and I felt the freedom of just riding.

I stopped just to listen to the silence at this moment.  

You know when you are in a beautiful place when you can stop, and while istening to your own heartbeat is the only thing breaking the silence.  The wind from riding hitting your face, and the exquisite landscapes transitioning each mile can't allow you to focus on anything but the beauty of what is encapsulating you....  Blanketed in beauty....A place and time where I truly didn't care my power data, heart rate, training plan, or cadence because all that could take my breath away was the beauty of what I was experiencing in these moments.  The plan didn't matter, and my goals didn't matter, because these moments mattered more, and I needed to soak it in.  If I couldn't absorb this weekend of beauty, I knew that I had lost the reason of why I love the experience of riding.

 

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I wanted to get lost, but then thought about the coyotes and decided that may not be such a grand idea after all.......

I can't say that the ruthless intervals, long rides in the cold and rain, the wrecks, the heartbreak, and sheer pain of cycling always keeps me grinding....However, experiencing the beauty in moments, like from this past weekend of riding, keeps all the training, racing, and seriousness of things in perspective.  There is racing and training....and there is enjoying the ride.  I try to do them all. 

I was able to think about the many things, and so many people, that I am so thankful.  I was able to absorb the beauty in this moment and season in my life. Because, the truth is, you know reality can change in an instant.  

 

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I was able to stop and say, right now, I am truly filled with happiness.  I can't say that I  have always been this happy, and in fact, have been through quite a bit in my relatively young life.  But it brings me hope, because I now know that I am out of a plateau or valley of discontent where you feel like everything or almost nothing goes how you have planned.  

Cycling provided me a hug from nature this weekend.  

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Pain Cave Creation

Pain Cave Creation

This year, I have spent many- O- days inside training my ars off.  

It has been very cold this winter, and  I'm not super-equipped for those freezing temps living in the deep south. So, I have been inside training A LOT.  I having been doing yoga and riding in this room and felt more stressed leaving from sh!t everywhere, than relaxed, stretched, and centered.

One day, our heater went out down stairs on a day in the twenties.  I had a trainer ride, and had to get it done.....Well, I felt so ridiculous training INSIDE with all the winter gear on, but  I had to keep warm.   I was in my small bike room with junk everywhere, it was freaking freezing inside, I was decked out (inside) in all the winter gear I owned...and right then, I decided that I was going to make that room the most functional, comfortable, enjoyable room in the house.  I decided that I  was going to have a sweet bike room.  After all, I was probably spending the MOST time in there more so than anywhere in my home.

                                                        ~So how do you make a legit bike room?~

 

Well, no one wrote the book on making a legit bike room, so this was my idea on what this thing bike room would be..... Needless to say, I was TOTALLY overwhelmed looking on pinterest at bike rooms with chic cabinetry built for their bikes, hip colors with a minimalistic vibe that I totally dig....However, I don't have the time or feel like investing in that right now... 

So one day, I stopped and spent one entire day working on this room.  I felt kind of silly creating and decorating a "bike room", but cycling is my gym, stress reliever, fun, and a way of life.  It's just a part of my life that will always exist, so I needed to just stop feeling wasteful, and create a nice space I would actually really enjoy being in while doing what I love to do....  I guess we have had bikes for a few years now, and it was time to settle all these bike into the home.  I didn't want to spend too much money or time, so I had to be efficient in my purchases. It is actually like a baby room for all our babies. 

Maybe my breaking point and motivation of getting this bike room-thing done was a subconscious nesting phase before the arrival of my red-lipped princess (Trek Madone).  Whatever the snapping point, I'm glad I did it.  This is now my favorite tiny room in the house that serves its purpose.  It is an inspiring room to train, and now I find myself wanting to be in my room training.    I had about a 11'X11' space that  my entire family, and our bikes, were going to be used for training so it had to be functional.  

 Here are somethings I did to make my room more functional, and a few estimates of the prices, but don't hold me to them.  

 MINUS THE JUNK EVERY WHERE. This photo was taken AFTER I took loads of wheels, tools, etc... out of the room.

MINUS THE JUNK EVERY WHERE. This photo was taken AFTER I took loads of wheels, tools, etc... out of the room.

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1. Chose a color that would make the colors of the bike stand out, and all the electrical cords go away.  I went with a Dark grey, almost black color.  I liked the idea of having a cave and the contrast it provided with the colors on the bikes.

2.  I bought two new black fans from Lowe's that would blend in ($20 each).  I use to have two old nasty box fans pulled from my garage that blew dust in my face everytime I turned them on. This had to change. 

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3. Big Black hooks $3-5 each depending on style) and a few solid pieces of decorative wood ($8 each) (from Lowe's or home improvement store) to mount the bikes and wheels.  I didn't realize how wheels (and bikes) can take up a massive amount of space without having a place to put them.

4. Large electrical outlet from Best Buy (black).   ALSO, a multi USB outlet (maybe $20 if I remember correct) for all the little cords for all the lights, bike computers, devices that require USB charging port.

5. I found a medium sized smart TV on clearance (about $189) that would be compatible with an adapter for streaming Zwift from the smart trainers.  This was a splurge, but in the end, it is a MUST in order to really have an awesome room for those long trainer rides.

6. Multiple (Long) HDMI cords ($20+)  AND apple lightning adapters ($50). (Apple is very proud of their small adapters. This is to plug the iPhone, iPad, or apple device into the smart tv to the HDMI cord to stream your workout from your iPhone, swift, etc... to the TV.

7. Indoor/ Outdoor rug from Target to put under the trainer ($60) along with a black rubber mat!  (I sweat a ton).  This is the one item I could use to express some funk and design, and also a must have, since it prevents your floor or carpet from destruction from the gallons of sweat from the awesome training your going to have.

8. Two small portable tables for holding bottles, devices, workout plans, etc... needed while riding. I got mine from Hobby Lobby for about $20.  I also purchased a wooden shelf for the TV to sit on which was about $30.

9. Small laundry basket and pretty trash can($15) from Target. LOL ...there are trash cans that are prettier than others.

10.  Seagrass 3 drawer basket ($50 on amazon) to hold all the small items you always need but lose before you need to ride outside. I tried to shop local but could NOT find a seagrass basket anywhere.....I use one drawer to hide the charging port of all the gazillion lights you own and NEED when you want to ride outside. I have my own drawer to keep all my small items like sunglasses, hair ties, devices, sunscreen, journal, chamois cream, etc....

11. Something that smells good. I am in love with essential oils like peppermint, lavender, or eucalyptus. Just anything that makes this room feel a little less like a stinky sauna is a good thing.

The Power of Sport & Why I Ride

The Power of Sport & Why I Ride

After being questioned recently about cycling, racing, my team, and why I love what I do I felt the desire to answer this question a little more in depth. What is my end goal? What am I doing? Why do I ride? Why do I love sports?  It is a good question to answer without a simple, 'Well, it just makes me happy' which is where cycling began for me... to create a way of exercise, friendships, and fun!  But now, over time cycling has become a little more than that to me, in which I didn't even realize.  So,  I wanted to look a little more intrinsically at my motivation and why I love the competition, because competition within sports can simply move us and consume us all in a very passionate way....one way or the other.  Whether you are a non-competitive cyclist,  to an avid Alabama football fan, or a professional athlete- the heart of the sport is within the competition of the sport, which moves us all.  

 It honestly stumped me for a minute...Until I sat down and thought about exactly why sport and cycling is important, and why racing is important, and why our team is important to our city, community, and society.   I thought about the history and power of sports, and the power of cycling within our society, outside of my initial response of, 'It's just so much fun!'.....so I decided to look deeper and write about WHY  I RIDE.


Sports draw us in for many reasons, such as the elegance, the competition, the history, and our identifying with great athletes of the past and of today.  The success and failures.  It is the essential building block of a prosperous and healthy society, and without it, a society can fail.   Sport brings people together by celebrating common ideas of fairness, discipline, struggle, success, failure,  and hope.  Sports provides everyone in a society with some form of coming together, no matter background, race, religion, political beliefs, age, or gender.  Sport can create a sense of community, in a shared story, no matter the individual involvement, or even participation.

According to the United Nations, “ Sport has the unique power to attract, mobilize, and inspire.  By its very nature, sport is about participation. It is about inclusion and citizenship.  It stands for human values such as respect for the opponent, acceptance of binding rules, team work and fairness, all of which are principles which are also contained in the Charter of the United Nations.” 

Within our community, Sport often parallels our daily lives, which is why athletes in our communities can be so powerful and so IMPORTANT to developing our societies.   It touches the lives of everyone.  Both  sport and life, whereby  one must work between  guidelines, expectations, challenges, rules, and outlines to live and execute by.  In both, one must work efficiently, diligently, and intellectually to succeed.   In sports, nutritional theories, nutrition guidelines, and training regiments can give some help to execute victoriously within the parameter of each sport.  It is inspirational, where, within fairness and hard work, we see great athletes opposing the odds, pushing through obstacles, taking risks, and finishing a race first.  Athletes work tirelessly to do 'better' within these boundaries... without being unfair or bending the rules.  This process is exhausting and inspirational. I would call it RISING ABOVE THE ODDS.

Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language that they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.
— Nelson Mandela

Following the rules within a meaningful game or race, where limitations exist and are adhered to, and watching the victory through strength, fitness, intelligence, tactics, genetic perfection, nutritional expertise, sometimes luck, and the hard work and discipline of Sport is simply INSPIRATIONAL. This idea often parallels the daily grind of daily life.  We all have boundaries within our daily lives, and within these boundaries we must execute to move up, to push through, above, or beyond.   Within these boundaries of sport, creates a sense of security, fairness,  and even magic.   

What makes the magic and spirit of sports come alive is the execution of a victory, fairly,  while adhering to the boundaries of the sport   This is also why cheating creates such a huge emotional response within every beating heart, and which can kill the majesty of sport, or victory, within an instant. No one wants to watch the magic of sport die by deceit, inequality, or unfairness.  Sport, which can unify countries, states, cities, or communities is an event to share the magic of success amongst opposition and that is CAPTIVATING because it creates a society filled with HOPE.   Whether success or failure, sport bonds people in a way that nothing else can physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. 

The power of sport is not about about the athlete, or even just the sport itself, but the subconscious mirroring of the grind that we ALL desire to rise above.   Just to be a part of the journey of the challenge or struggle of a deserving and humble athlete’s road to success or failure, can bring people together.  The athlete, the sport, the team, the coaches, the family, the fans, the enthusiasts, spectators, sponsors, doctors, friends, or dreamers all surround the importance of sport within our communities,  which essentially is a common bond within unusual backgrounds and circumstances.  EVERYONE participates and feels the failures and victories of a good athlete or team.  There is nothing worse than to hear an elitist  athlete rant about the me, me, me, me, me... when, in reality,  the success is MORE about the we, we, we we....  The mother that drove you everyday to practice, the bike mechanic who tirelessly put together every working detail, the coach, the friends support, THE SPONSORS, or family sacrificing for the dream of the athlete....  There is simply,  never-ever, a 'me' in sport.

The truth is, sport is a parallel of life which we can all relate to, where many of us struggle to rise above obstacles and this daily grind.  We all know we can't do it alone, despite the individuality we strive to possess.  However, the spirit and tenacity of athletes to persevere, fairly, within these boundaries of sport, gives hope to our day to day lives. It gives us the hope to succeed, and helps us all to reflect on our own lives, which will always provide us a deep love for the heart of competition. Which, for me, is cycling. 

Some Inspirations for 2018

Some Inspirations for 2018

It has already been an awesome 2018 year.  Podiums or not, it has already been fun training, riding, meeting new folks, and the tremendous  support that is going to make this year happen for me. And let's be real.....Some days it takes inspiration from every angle to push on.

             ~I thought it would be fun to talk about some inspirations for this year~

 First, my family is a huge inspiration because they are such a huge support in every aspect of my life.   I simply couldn't do this without the support of my husband and children.  It brings me joy to see them having fun racing and training, as well with myself, and it truly is a family affair...  My daughter is 7 YO,  and is a very talented gymnast, and recently came in 2nd in her first cyclocross race.   I watch her during her gymnastics practice during the week,  which she trains 9 hours a week. Her dreams brings me much strength because I see her tenacity, work ethic, and results which is a HUGE inspiration! I watch my son training for MTB and school and our MTB rides together, and my husband working and training, and us all having so much fun....which inspires me everyday.  I love trying to be a strong momma, and I hope to show my children that they can always have inspirations, dreams, and that they can do whatever that want to do.  never give up. ever.

The support I have gotten from my local club racing team, Pursuit Cycling and our sponsors, is a huge inspiration.   I love training with like-minded folks who have a heart for competition, but are also humble and fun to be around.  Pursuit is providing a cycling platform in my area to develop riders and to provide support for elite level cyclists.   It takes a village, and I feel blessed to have a group of guys to train with and push me.  

MY COACH IS AWESOME.  He's created a training program and platform I never could imagine doing a year ago.  He inspires me because HE believes in me, sometimes, when I feel like I can't believe in myself. Some workouts, I think... 'no way'....and then.... poof.... it happens.  He pushes me and inspires me to be better because he has a positive vision for my future and abilities, which he has a better grasp than I do, and that is awesome.  Lord, pray for this man to keep me in line! 

The incredible sponsors-love this year has been amazing. (nfirmary Health, ESSE, Watershed Health, Integrated Pain Management of Alabama, Trek Bicycle Store Mobile, AL, Fleet Feet Sports Mobile, AL, Smith, Caine and Associates, Hayes Painting).   Pursuit is providing a platform to put our city on the map with developmental and pro racing, AND just racing in general, which is a huge inspiration.  Having our sponsors believe in my mission of cycling and racing (which will be a separate blog post) is a HUGE deposit to my gas tank!  They are such a motivation to keep pushing forward, when some days,  I feel like sleeping in or taking the day off..... I train for them.  

Specifically, Trek and Trek Store in Mobile, AL reminds me everyday to do better because of the love I've gotten from this awesome team of people and company. Okay, MY BAD-TO- THE-BONE NEW BIKE INSPIRES ME..... Lawrence, Catherine, and Robby have helped me so much this year in order to get my equipment in line , and the addition of my new sweet ride (n+1= Trek Madone 9.9) happen for this year to race!   But not just that... our Friday afternoon hangouts at the Trek Store is a huge motivation.  Talking about the dreams of the Trek Store, bikes, and the city of Mobile is really cool. Race schedules, their experiences are all sources of inspiration I draw from.  I love our friendship and their support means the world to me.

There is no telling how this year will go for myself because, after all, this is year 2 for me racing Pro, with it also the beginning my 3rd year racing ever.... 

Last year, was very tough in many different ways, but also very awesome ...with some major break throughs mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I raced in very large fields of women of champions..... silver medal olympians, national champions, world champions in a variety of disciplines, stacked professionals with major funding and sponsors, & International champions across the world who came to the USA to race the professional domestic criterium scene. All kinds of strong women, which is so empowering.  Last year was a dream lining up against these truly professional women, but I'm not going to lie...it was quite intimidating.  These women are tried and true Pro's and was an honor to be able to race beside them last year.  Domestic criterium racing is stacked with women cyclists who are the fastest in the world, blazing fast... 

I had fun and improved and made some pretty good results, but I also got the beat down, as well.  Trial by fire I would say could describe my 2017 year.   I have learned from very very very many mistakes I was making so plan to improve, which is the only thing I can really do....learn and improve and work hard and be nice and encourage others.  

Building strength is one large element, building fitness in another HUGE element, nutrition is huge,   but developing tactics and skill is another factor that has to occur for the complete trifecta of domination to happen.  When all these come together with the right team and support= boom! Anyone can succeed on this platform.  No one can do it alone and that is what makes cycling so beautiful.  No single person is celebrating on the podium, but a team behind that person who has been encouraged, provided for, or supported by a team of people in one way or the other.  I'm excited for this year to test my limits, but I feel like I have a larger support system, friends, team, coach, bike mechanics, sponsors, & the Trek Store.....which makes all the difference in the world....because we all know that to get where we really want to be.....there is no "I" in TEAM.

A little space

I decided to create a small space on the internet about my inspirations and journey through 2018. I feel like it's going to be a fun year of traveling, racing, adventure, and story-making so I felt like the blog would be appropriate to share and also be able to look back at this years story.  Let's be clear, just because I made a blog about bikes doesn't mean that I'm better, faster, more "pro", or that this blog will somehow create a better outcome for my 2018 season. (poof) However, that would be really awesome if it did. A blog omen....I like that idea. 

 It's simply just an authentic space to watch this journey unfold.