Hi there! Still alive. Lots to share about the summer, but we’ll save most of it for later. Road racing season has come to a close and while it’s fresh in my mind I might as well write about it!
I had an amazing off-season thanks to my Kickr. Came into the season with a ton more focused miles and strength than ever before, but my mind wasn’t really there. Life, burnout from 31 races in 2015, crashing in the final race last year… In the end I didn’t really race much – ten races, mostly weeknight series.
The bulk of my racing was at the Tabor series. I upgraded in the middle to end of the series last year and it was a struggle. I had resigned myself to winning prime laps and hoping to hang on. This year with added fitness and down about 10 pounds, I actually had some climbing skills! I still couldn’t hang with the big guns for the final sprint, but I was there at the end of the race and even capable of going for primes and recovering as if they didn’t happen. Last year I averaged 15th place, this year… hrm, only 11th, but it was overall a much stronger note than last. I finally got things together with a 6th in the final race with lots of gas left so while I think I had the fitness all along, I simply didn’t know how to race it until the end.
Following Tabor I did a couple of Monday/Tuesday races at PIR. Things went surprisingly poorly following a 4th in the first race. Tactical errors above anything else, but that’s part of the game. I’m certain had I done more races and gotten a handle for it I’d have seen a handful of podiums. Alas, I wasn’t focusing on road this year so no big deal.
On a whim, I went out and raced the state championship down in Eugene. It would be my first and only proper road race of the year. Things were going pretty well in the 3/4 race, but it was an extremely hot day and without support it was not possible on the two bottles I had. With ten miles to go (sixty mile race) I ran out of fluids and my body shutdown. Pretty miraculous I made it to the finish. I probably should have stopped when I noticed myself woozily avoiding riding into ditches on uphills. Yeah, bad… A lot of folks didn’t finish that day so I don’t feel too bad about it, but it was a lot of effort for naught. I hadn’t done a lot of long riding this year either so I pretty much set myself up for failure by not knowing the resources I’d need to get through it or even having the muscle memory/makeup to make the ride possible.
No podiums, but also not much effort. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and (spoiler alert!) it’s really showing in cyclocross. I’ll provide a wrap-up of that and other things around November.
If you’ve not yet blocked me on Facebook due to the overposting that was the month of May (or any given month depending on your taste), you will likely have noticed that through the entire month of May, I was reposting a new daily image about brain cancer. The campaign was the brainchild (PUN!) of a friend named Noelle. Her father was diagnosed with brain cancer around the middle of last year, and being a friend of friend, she found her way to me and we’ve been chatting ever since.
What she put together for this campaign was nothing short of amazing and extraordinary. The best part is that it can be reused every year with little to no modification. It was just the two of us sharing this year [I think], but my hope is that we can raise more awareness of the campaign among the brain cancer community and make it go crazy. If you see me posting these next May, please don’t hesitate to repost – brain cancer sucks, it can hit anyone for no good reason, and for something that is more or less a death sentence, it receives far too little attention.
The full campaign can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/26p4PVD and I’ve attached the images below.
Lastly, if you have any design needs, while I’ve never personally used her services, based on what she’s done here I’m pretty sure she’d do a kick-ass job for you: http://noellemullinsdesign.com.
Every year I head to DC to run in the Race for Hope to benefit brain cancer. This was our second year running in memory rather than celebration. It was a rainy day and a lot of folks had conflicts, but we were still out in force and will continue to be so. On the running front, I’d injured myself on my bike a month or so prior and was walking with a limp – no sub-19 (the usual goal) this year – was a nice walk, though.
Prior to the race, Dad informed me that he’d like to get rid of Mom’s car. He was no longer using it, but couldn’t bring himself to sell it. As my first cross-country trip was a bit abbreviated due to weather and park closures (NPS strike), I was eager to cross the country again. We only had a single car and I sometimes disappear for weekends for biking things. While I drive maybe once a week, it couldn’t hurt to have a second vehicle so I committed to taking it.
The nature of my work allows me to be just about anywhere in the world as long as I have a laptop, a handful of devices, and internet. The original goal was to camp the whole way to save a few bucks and work in coffee shops. Due to the work and traveling necessary, and camping rates, that didn’t really work out too well. I’d get to campsites by dark, which is no fun – part of the camping experience is to enjoy the place. Setting up in the dark, eating in the dark, etc., and then waking up to work and figure out your day… It was less than ideal. Besides, campsites in the western half of the country are mostly still closed for the season. It simply wasn’t meant to be. Instead, with hotels.com I was able to find enclosed spaces with internet everywhere I wanted to be for roughly $55/night. Versus the $20-$40 to tent camp? It was a no-brainer.
Before leaving, I made a rough plan of where I wanted to go. That gave me a route, which I built on roadtrippers.com. I followed that for the most part, but the real planning was done day by day as I figured out how tired I was, how much work I had, when that work had to be completed by, what there was to see, and what I could realistically drive without killing myself. The site was super awesome, works on computers and mobile, and integrates with Waze. I couldn’t have asked for much more from a free service.
I won’t bore you with the details of each stop, but you’re welcome to browse the daily schedules.
Day 1 – DC to Baltimore – Race for Hope, spending night w/ Dad and Sis on business trip.
Day 2 – Baltimore to Pittsburgh – Breakfast w/ Dad and Sis, Washington Monument (MD), Giant Quarter, Log Church, Fort Ligonier, Keystone State Park.
Day 3 – Pittsburgh to Cleveland – Primanti Brothers and Heinz History Museum.
Day 4 – Cleveland to Detroit – Cuyahoga Valley National Park, A Christmas Story House, Lake View Cemetery, and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
Day 5 – Detroit to “Chicago” – Heidelberg Project, Belle Isle, Elmwood Cemetery, Eastern Market, Shinola, Indiana Dunes.
Day 6 – “Chicago” to Minneapolis – Michael Jackson Home, Robie House, Cloud Gate, Lakefront Trail, The Old Fashioned, WI Capitol, Babcock Hall Dairy, Pink Elephant, Orange Moose.
Day 7 – Minneapolis (rest day) – Grand Rounds Trail, Minnehaha Falls.
Day 8 – Minneapolis to Badlands – Jolly Green Giant, Sioux Falls, Corn Palace, Al’s Oasis.
Day 9 – Badlands to Custer – Minuteman Visitor Center, Badlands National Park, Minuteman Missile Silo, Wall Drug, Chapel in the Hills, Mount Rushmore.
Day 10 – Custer to Greybull – Black Hills National Forest, Devil’s Tower, Bighorn National Forest.
Day 11 – Greybull to West Yellowstone – Buffalo Bill Dam, Yellowstone National Park.
Day 12 – West Yellowstone to Portland – USS Hawkbill, Craters of the Moon, Mural of Pennies.
The car itself was a trooper. It didn’t drink any fluids, did pop on O2 sensor around 1/3 of the way (can be ignored, but since fixed), the oil looks perfectly clean, and I got about 22mpg. I was expecting better, but I did have luggage, a bike on the roof (I did bike a lot of places), the O2 sensor could have hurt efficiency a bit, and let’s face it, the car had 135k miles.
It was an awesome trip, I’m so thankful that I was able to do it, and I can’t wait to do more.
Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses. Our existing stove had a quirky computer. It’d somewhat randomly read a sensor error and not work for hours. I took it apart last year, cleaned up connections, tested all the obvious items (it all checked out), and the issue was resolved for about six months without having actually fixed anything. And then it came back… And I wasn’t going to attempt to fix what I couldn’t figure out again so we went shopping. Behold the newness! We got a monster deal at Sears with a price match and applying for their credit card (to be paid off and closed immediately) – something like $800 for a $1300 stove delivered and installed. Hoping this will take my daily fried eggs to the next level 😉
I really dig indoor park riding. So much so that I went out and bought a bike for it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to learn at this age and hitting the ground at my size or really any adult size hurts. About half the time I go riding I return home with something to mend (screw digging through my elbow, crushed shins, a limp for weeks, etc). I’m currently dealing with a hip pointer that’s more than a month old and not getting too much better (hip flexor is still OW). Last week I did some soul-searching and put the bike up for sale and it sold yesterday for my asking price. It’s not often that I sell a bike without it being an upgrade so this is a big deal. We had a good run and I learned some techniques that will help me in my other cycling, but my days jumping things and getting rad are now over. The new owner will be traveling the US in a Eurovan so the bike is sure to see some great sights and I’m glad somebody will be using her better than I could ever hope to.
This time next week I’ll be heading home from DC. I’m inheriting my mother’s car (early 2000s Toyota RAV4) and rather than pay to ship it, why not use it as a chance to see the US again? Heck, it’s been almost three years since I made the 3000 mile trek; I’m totally due.
My father will be delivering the car to the annual 5k we run (I’ll be walking this year – injuries… bummer) in my mom’s honor/in support of brain cancer. He’ll be bringing it packed with the road bike I had purchased for his place following my mother’s passing (I need to sell it and the Portland Craigslist will do a much better job). I’ll combine the car and bike with a bunch of stuff that I’m bringing and be ready to spend a week or two on the road – camping, working, riding, driving.
This bit worries me the most. Will I find camping along the way? Will it be warm enough if I take the route I had originally planned (northern through the Yellowstone)? Is camping a dumb idea I should bail on and instead stick to cheap motels? Should I go for a more southern route?
Free wifi has got to be pretty abundant across America. If I plan my days appropriately this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Mobile hotspot + libraries are always a good fallback. I’ve scheduled some vacation anyway just in case I need it, but I’m hopeful I won’t. I have pretty regular meetings three days a week so those days my schedule will be pretty fixed to traditional hours and I’ll need a reliable connection so motels are looking good there. Other than that, anything goes – my work can be done pretty much at any time of the day.
Thanks to the internet I should be able to find some pretty solid rides everywhere I go. If nothing is published for wherever I may find myself, a quick look at a map should give me an idea of what’s possible. I picked up a Garmin Varia for a little added safety since I’m sure to be on roads that are less cycling friendly than I’m used to (hopefully lower traffic though).
I’m not sure how I’ll combine the above with managing to drive across the country, but that’ll be part of the fun. Every day will be an adventure. Ride now? Drive now? Work now? Drive to where? Where will I sleep? Where can I get a shower? Do I need a shower? Where will I work? Laundry day? I theoretically have until June 1st to get home, but I certainly don’t want to live on the road that long and if it proves to not be as fun as expected I can always hightail it back. My estimate is 10ish days.
Tips? Advice? Comments? Things I must see? Things I must avoid?
Hopefully this is the last post of my busted face for awhile. A few weeks back I had my chalazion removed. It had grown enough that it was affecting my vision and it was clear the non-surgical treatment options weren’t working. Due to some clerical errors, I had about four exams before finally getting scheduled for surgery. Heather took me in, they warned me I might die (typical doctor disclaimer stuff), popped some needles in my eye (the worst part, by far), made a little cut, squeezed the junk out, and I was done within minutes. The surgery itself was painless, but the needles kind of sucked. The intern was actually there to hold me down because I guess it’s a pretty dangerous bit of work. It was funny how they were clearly trained to small talk the entire time to ease my nerves. We talked about the silliest of BS, but it was entertaining. I did ask to see the output – a small little pebble of solidified oil roughly the size of a coriander seed.
I was warned that I would likely look like I got punched in the eye pretty good and my vision would be murky for a few days. No bruising, but it did feel like I had been scratched in the eye for about a week and a half. My vision is perfectly back to normal now, you’d never know I had the bump, and the loss of those few oil glands has had no noticeable affect on my eye comfort (the procedure takes out maybe 10% of the glands on that eye). I’m going to have to be pretty serious about eye washing from now on because apparently I’m predisposed to these blockages because my pores are actually hooded (genetic defect) – more surgeries would mean less and less glands and eventually that becomes really bad.