Sunday, January 27, 2013

Today is brought to you by the letter P...

The letter P. And the letters T, S, and D.

For Post traumatic stress disorder. 

And all the anger, anxiety, bewilderment, depression, selfishness, self-preservation, and... nausea... it may unexpectedly cause in response to random triggers any day.

It will pass.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


For so many reasons, Amanda Palmer's new music project is incredible.  Yes, the music is great, but so how it was commissioned, the accompanying artwork was commissioned, and the business of funding, producing, and promoting the work, deserves a great deal of respect and acknowledgement.


Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra
plays a balcony encore at the Paradise on Thursday night.
Pretty sure Eric Demaine was on the balcony to my right.
Good taste!  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Drama is very important in life:

You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper. Everything can have drama if it's done right. Even a pancake.

quote by Julia Child (from Esquire)
art by Lia Melia (from here)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blitzing on a Friday night

"Fridge Status:  Bachelorette"
Yep. Pretty much.

What I'm Listening To Tonight:

Baby's On Fire - Brian Eno
Red Over White - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
Talk Show Host - Radiohead
Lions - Tones On Tail
Sixty Forty - Nico
Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division
Sugar Cane - Sonic Youth
Moving in Stereo - The Cars
A Walk In The Dark - Whitey

Friday, August 3, 2012

Nature Valley Grand Prix - my first professional race

Nature Valley Grand Prix, 5 stages of professional racing (open to Pros, Cat 1 and Cat 2 [me] riders) June 13 - June 17.

The short backstory before my long race report:  I placed 2nd overall for DII women at Collegiate Road Nationals this year; my teammate was 1st. We qualified for the Collegiate All-Stars team but because of a technicality where only one rider is selected per collegiate team, I was skipped over. I asked the guy who runs the All-Stars to pass my name around and the sponsors of the most aggressive rider's jersey took me on:  Freewheel Bike - the best shop I've ever known, with far and away the best, most awesome mechanics and personnel.

Wednesday Time Trial
            My start time was 9:22:30, exactly third from last with two of the best ranked riders following me at 1:00 intervals, including Carmen Small, who would take and keep the yellow jersey for the rest of the race. Not many people get the 1:00 time gap! I warmed up well and early (too early?) on the course, a 7.7 mile out-and-back along the Mississippi river. I kept spinning around the start area to stay loose and rolled up with 2:00 to go. Turns out, that’s cutting it a bit close, since you have to do bike weigh-ins and UCI dimension regulation checks. The last two competitors were already sitting in chairs waiting to start. I bypassed them and rolled right up to the starting ramp just as my predecessor rolled off for her time trial. I got up on the ramp and onto the bike, but somehow hit my front shifter in the process so I dropped the chain and had to get off and spin the wheel to get it back on the big ring. This spiked the adrenaline. Then, I couldn’t get my left pedal to clip in (down to 30 seconds to start at this point). I was trying to change my cycling computer screen but kept hitting “lap” instead, down to about 5s to go, when I gave up and just focused.
I rolled off the starting block easy, and was probably out of the saddle for a bit to get up to speed.  The adrenaline from starting block shenanigans hurt me here:  I kept trying to hold back, but my watts kept popping up to high 290s—I wanted to shoot for a 260 average. My average for the way out was 270 or higher; too hard. My turnaround was smooth and conservative, maybe a bit too slow (worth practicing multiple times at speed next time?). I didn’t drill it up the QoH hill but on the opposite side, I nevertheless started to tire. I also was in a “spinning mood” (seemed to select lower gearing/higher cadence), and I felt limited by how hard I was breathing, not by how hard I was pedaling. I saw 3k to go and didn’t change my pace; I should have really picked it up here (Think: “Track Pursuit”), and by the time I got to 1k to go (Think: “500m track speed—induce tunnel vision”) I should have been all-out-dying. I finished with burning lungs but not burning legs. Harder gears, harder last 3k probably would have fixed that. Carmen Small passed me inside the 1k to go sign.
I did a really good job of eating several hours ahead of time, feeling really properly fueled, well-hydrated, and caffeinated. (Brown rice + yogurt + fruit combos.) My warmup was a bit too early and left me with 55mins of “easy pedaling” to wait until my start time.
Result: 19’50.54” (2’20” down) 62/95

Wednesday St. Paul Crit
            Easily the hardest crit (race?) of my life. 28 laps, one hour, 5-corner counter-clockwise crit on pavement, painted cement, and brick; hot, humid, but dry roads. Women started staging 30 minutes (!!!!) before start time. The race officials had us take a lap, but many people must not have left, since by the time I got to the starting grid, I was in the 5th row. (I even got the rope the used to keep the main riders behind the start line during callups stuck on my chainring after they dropped it and we were riding forward. I had to stop and dislodge it, losing another row.) I was on the far right (outside) against the railing. And my heart was beating through my chest. From the gun, it was an immediate, full-effort sprint into a 90-degree left hand corner.  Everyone was stuck behind someone and desperate to get up in the pack before things took off. Every corner in that race (5 per lap x 28 laps = 140 corners) was SPRINT IN—BRAKE—SPRINT OUT: the yo-yo effect. It was so fast! I’ve never been in a race where each lap I had to silence that little voice in my head saying, “I’m not sure I can make it to the 50% cutoff (14 laps).”  The first 8 laps (through the first sprint point lap) were killer.  After the sprint lap, it settled a bit and (looking at the data), my heart rate dropped a few beats, enough to recover some and get a little confidence. I tried the first 14 laps to move up out of the yo-yo tailing end of the pack, but it killed my legs, even when I was just trying to hold on to someone’s wheel to move up between corners 5 and 1 or 1 and 2 (the only real length of the course where you could move). Every sprint or time bonus lap the pace was ridiculously fast. Corners 3 and 4 were excellent: a sort-of chicane all on red brick (glad it wasn’t raining). It made it really interesting, but I could take outside then inside lines for corner 3 and 4 respectively, so it was the part of the course where I kept the most momentum. Out of turn 4 we came into a really strong headwind and it made turn 5 a 3mph turn—followed by a max sprint through the finish line. It was so tough: my lower back was spasming and my lower abs were cramping. I was sitting 50-60th until a crash coming out of corner 1 (riders in front of me cooked it too hard and hit the outside/right curb coming out of the corner). I braked in time to miss the crash, but had to ride over/around a rear wheel to get going again—but the pack was gone down the road.
Holy shit, I am so proud of this:
Power profile for the crit: Spikes over 600 watts are tough, for the record. 
            I’m still not sure what the “right” racing decision would have been: to sit behind the crash (effectively pretend to be caught in it) and take a calculated time for the last few laps or—what I actually did—scramble over the carnage and race toward the back of the pack. Official rules say I should have done the latter, but I know for sure many women caught behind the pack received calculated times. I TT’d the last <3 a="a" after="after" allow="allow" always="always" amount="amount" and="and" another="another" as="as" bars="bars" be="be" braking="braking" but="but" by="by" came="came" caught="caught" committed="committed" conserving="conserving" corners="corners" could="could" drink:="drink:" earlier="earlier" even="even" fast="fast" from="from" front="front" gap="gap" getting="getting" girl="girl" group="group" had="had" hands="hands" have="have" high="high" hour="hour" i="i" if="if" improvements="improvements" into="into" is="is" keep="keep" lap="lap" laps="laps" low.="low." made:="made:" moment="moment" move="move" my="my" myself="myself" nbsp="nbsp" never="never" of="of" or="or" our="our" p="p" possible.="possible." relaxed="relaxed" rode="rode" small="small" someone="someone" soon="soon" speed="speed" sprint="sprint" sprinting="sprinting" stage="stage" take="take" that="that" the="the" then="then" time="time" to="to" too="too" try="try" trying="trying" until="until" up.="up." us="us" was="was" water="water" who="who" with="with">
            Result: 70/90 (1’46” down)

Thursday Cannon Falls Road Race (74 miles, cancelled due to severe weather)

Friday Uptown Minneapolis Crit
            It was really a bummer the road race was cancelled (the right call by the race directors) because it left everyone with tons of energy and anxiety about the next crit. Uptown was a 28-lap, hour long, clockwise 6-corner crit, all on pavement. I blame the 3 big crashes on our extra energy from a lack of Cannon Falls.  I staged better this time, planned 20 minutes of post-warmup time to stand around at staging. I got a 3rd row start on the outside (left side) due to aggressive jockeying during call-ups. We went off at a full sprint again, but this time I expected it. But it seemed a bit sketchy with riders moving all over the place, so I lost a few “rows” and came into the first corner somewhere around 30th or 40th. I cornered smart and the pace didn’t feel as high (it was a touch faster, in fact) as the St. Paul crit, so I felt stronger sprinting up places, and definitely made good progress into top 25. But then there was a BIG crash just after the finish line when they rang the bell for the first sprint lap (18 to go?). I narrowly avoided the wave of carbon coming at me by riding as far left as possible, shoulder on the railing and wheels bumping over the feet of the fencing.  We got neutralized and my advancement was lost.
We were restarted with 20 to go after a few girls were picked up off the pavement, and a few more got new helmets or checked to make sure theirs weren’t cracked (Katie Q.) Another huge sprint and I found myself in the top 15 (like, me, TIBCO, and Lululemon teams—whoa), but I rode more conservative (tired again? The second start was rough) and lost spots, back to the 30s or 40s.  Two more crashes slowed my part of the pack down, and I just couldn’t seem to recover. I think I knew I was going to finish so the fright factor didn’t keep me sprinting as aggressively out of corners as I did during the St. Paul crit (I took 600mg Advil before this race but with 5 or 8 to go, my lower back started cramping again and became really distracting). I fell off the back of the pack with a few to go and caught a train with Bridie O’Donnell (Vanderkitten) to keep the pace high. I could have put more into our paceline than we were doing, but I sat in and conserved. I saw her teammate come around her before the line so I did the same—she told me afterwards that it’s bad manners and her teammate was rude to do it too. Lesson learned?
I should have stayed more focused on NOT letting myself slip off the back of the pelaton. We were close enough to the finish, I know I could have physically done it. I just needed to react when they sped up instead of thinking about whether or not it was necessary.
Result: 66/84 (1’20” down)

Saturday Menomonie Road Race (80.4 miles)
            I was really looking forward to this race—mostly to give my legs something different to do, and because I have been riding longer (training more toward longer RRs instead of short punchy crits) and I expected to do better or at least feel more comfortable in the road races. I fueled really well in the morning (coffee, brown rice, eggs, banana + peanut butter, etc.) and hydrated well. I taped a mini-cue sheet with Sprints and QoH mile markers so I’d know when the pace would be high (sprints) and when to be at the front for attacks on hills. I didn’t do any warm up (rolled around the parking lot). The weather was cool and overcast, but dry—until we lined up at the start. I got there early again and got a 3rd row start (neutral roll-out until 3.3 miles). Five minutes before the start the sky just started pouring rain and soaked everyone head to toe, helmets, jerseys, shoes, and socks. We rolled out in the heavy rain, with about 3” standing water on the roads, spraying up into our eyes (sunglasses).
The first 3.3 neutral miles were the most sketchy for me, since no one could see much (rain, wheel spray) and we were elbow to elbow and wheel to wheel trying to stay in a good position behind the pace car. The yellow jersey was pretty much rubbing the paint off the pace car’s bumper, which makes sense, I guess, since position is so important. Finally, the pace car sped off (and up the first shorter hill) and the girls attacked for position, so there was an initial really aggressive sprint.
The three main climbs were at miles 37, 45, and 65. I dropped it to my smallest gear and hammered up the first one, desperate to stay in the group. It was hard, but not a problem. I set 2:15-4:20 power records on that climb. The next climb I took easier (settled into my threshold Perceived-Exertion level) and slipped off the back with a trail of other girls. Together we time trialed back on—through the feedzone, where I got one electrolyte bottle from a generous team and dropped two neutral water bottles (volunteers held on too tight!!! ARGHHHH!!!) I recovered well until the next (final) big hill and went into threshold PE level again, instead of a “Just stay out of your comfort zone for a few seconds longer…!!” level of exertion. I slipped off into No Man’s land with a trial of other riders. I contemplated killing myself to try to catch the back end of the pack, but instead conserved and waited for a few girls to catch up to me and we worked together to stay as close to the front group as possible. We entered the circuit together and the pace immediately dropped to casual riding pace. Our time gap grew, and only four of us were doing any work to try to keep the gap as small as possible. The non-workers sprinted around us workers at the end—even though they got the same time. Bridies comment to me about manners rang clear.
I should have really gone out of my comfort zone on the second and third climb like I did on the first. I drank 40 cals worth of Skratch labs, a single fig Bonk Breaker bar (split 50-50% before and after the first climb, 220 cals in total), and 3 shot blocks, (100 cals) along with 3 bottles of water, and 1 of some tasty electrolyte mix (probably ~100 cals) that later made my stomach hurt (or was that from the blocks?) Did I eat too little? Burned just over 2200kJ. The water was what I really wanted—went through 4 bottles. Even dropped back to the car to get some!!
Result: 53/77 (6’37” down)

Sunday Stillwater Crit
            Hot late morning crit, 13 laps up Chilkoot hill in Stillwater. The hill is short (not short enough?) and very steep, 18% grade (people said). You actually start with the hill, so if you complete the full race, you climb the big hill 14 times. Around 2 corners from the big Chilkoot hill is another rise that requires the little ring, but it really didn’t feel like much of anything. I consistently passed people on the second climb by spinning up it. I took the descending corners cautiously and let a 1 bike length gap open between me and the next rider, but I shifted smoothly enough to catch them by the start of the hill and was always first or second of my group of riders up Chilkoot (the field fractured almost immediately after the hill plus the first descent). We settled into a pace, but we should have had the running-for-our-lives mentality going sooner since the closer the leaders got, the closer we were to getting pulled. I made it to 4 laps to go before getting pulled—but our calculated time was a lot higher than I would have expected.  I was starting to feel really good on the hill—probably a sign I needed to be hammering harder.  It was a fun course, zero-stress for me. I liked that kind of climb and had a lot of confidence, but I think I could have pushed harder. Again, I feel like I limited myself be settling into a threshold pace I could hold for a long time and not getting into a “attack the hill/leave nothing left” attitude, since there was enough time to recover from the effort before having to do it again.
            Result: 38/ 71 (pulled with 4 to go, alongside TIBCO and Exergy2012 riders)

Next year:  I want to be there on a real team. Optum... those girls were amazing. And nice. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

The cocky jerks always win my heart

"He must be the stupidest sonofabitch alive, but he sure is fast."