Tuesday, November 23

50 and freezing. Weak Sauce!

Winter has landed here in the land of sun and sand, and its slightly on the cold side. I'm not sure at what juncture between last November and today I became so soft, but come on! I have truly adapted to this Mediterranean climate. I even wore leg warmers and a long sleeve jersey on two rides! Gotta be a record!

Since I have a riveting day job molding the future as a teacher, the bulk of our fun rides take place at night or on the weekends. Lucky for me, Saturday and Sunday brought an onslaught of rain. Steady, windy, icy rain.

The largest hitch was finding everything I needed, which resulted in only a level 3 meltdown. Rain jacket, gloves, embrocation hot stuff, sweet Euro hat for under the helmet, clear lenses, and shoe covers. And probably 10 other things. I am pumped that I got all my flats out of the way last weekend, or those would have been some tough fixes with frozen fingers and sand and debris all over my wheels. Brian and I got fenders for Christmas last year and they came in super handy! Pretty fashionable too.

The heat embrocation was a huge win. Lots of lotion on the legs, heat embrocation, vaseline. Together, making my legs warm and toasty, super shiny like I was about to go for my next body builder photo shoot, and well, they also collected massive amounts of junk.

Now we had a few issues. First off, the kits for the year are quite white. With all the TSA craze, well lets just see you could probably see more watching us ride by than walk through the scanner. Poor Brian looked like one of those Pinky Mice, ready to be eaten. Secondly, we have the habit of drinking quite a bit on the bike. But with the cold and rain, seemed like I had to find 5 pit stops along the way. We stopped at the soccer complex, in the downpour, and man the looks we got. Not sure why, it would be way worse to stand under an umbrella in jeans for hours cheering for offspring.

Not to sound weird or anything, but once I got warm hands, my whole torso was toasty and dry, eyes protected, I had a lot of fun. Once I resigned myself to being cold and rained on, all was good. Just relax and ride. I need to learn what the tires feel like on wet asphalt, how to get nutrition out of pockets when my hands are numb, and how much the breaks actually don't work in the rain. I really did miss the whine of a wet mountain bike rotor though.

Sunday was even better! I opted to ride the mountain bike with some homies. I railed out in another downpour, through massive standing water and alluvial soil deposits. Rad. I slogged into Stells to meet not 2 but 7 of my classmates. From 1998. That's right. Boarding School in Virginia has produced some pretty cool grads, and we like to get together on occasion and ooh and ahhh over everyone's babies and hair cuts.

Quick coffee refill and an apple fritter, joined forces with Lisa and Cynthia and Andrea and headed to the hills and single track. Over the next three hours I was able to link the two major trail systems in town, rip awesome trails, spot a bobcat, and make it home unscathed. Perfect day on the bike.

That's it. Another weekend of Big Girl bike riding camp. With a ton of great people.

Wednesday, November 17

Just another normal weekend.

We rode to Idyllwild again. I told you we would. This "winter" we are already logging a few hours and miles, so one should expect that hitting another 90 mile day without a hitch, well that would just be too lucky. Last week I felt good, the weather was brilliant, I was completely amazing on the bike (yawn), and the bikes worked like a charm. I will remember that day fondly.

This week we were joined by Teenage Heart Throb Andrew Sjorgren and Craig Turner (we don't have a nickname for him. Yet) After riding the Lynn Pletcher Memorial ride (which was AWESOME) we headed to the hills. I unhitched on the climb as usual, and promptly flatted. Three times. we run slime tubes (I have never weighed my bike) and the slime sprayed all over my bike and I. 2nd tube in, boom. Put slime tube back in, held 10 psi. Dilemna? Uh, no. I'm a bike racer, I wanna do a stage race, so I got on the bike and rode up the mountain 50-60 minutes on a rear flat. I am so pumped I had my carbon race wheels. I never really knew the white line had such a drastic curve to the right...

Nearing the Y, Brian came back to get me, leaving Heart Throb and Craig soaking up the sun and talking about kittens and unicorns. Another really awesome thing about my race wheels is that they are deep-dish. Not only do they catch like a yacht sale in the wind, you gotta have long stemmed tubes. But I just put a hole in the last one. So we used Brian's short stemmed tube. That was comedy. we could tell it was losing air so Brian told me to hurry and get as far as I could (1.2 corners to be exact) before it went flat again. And rode it the 5 miles into town. Somewhere in there we switched rear wheels. And yes, the wedding is still on.

Once we got everything sorted, I wasn't about to be alone. I rode those rollers harder than Sisquoc to stay with the boys. On the descent I got relegated between Turner leading me through the descent and Brian coaching me through, as Heart Throb rode Blindside...I could have killed him. These boys do not stop pedalling, and they don't brake. By the time we bottomed out in Banning i was silent, eyes completely bloodshot from being pasted open in the howling wind, face covered with sweat, snot, and eye non-tears. Big Girl training has begun.

Once back to base camp, we just ate and ate.

Sunday, was so much harder. It was about 3,000ft less of climbing, way less on the wattage, but oh so hard to get up and out. Papa Breyer was my riding partner and I could not have asked for better! "Big Wheel, what's the plan today?" "Um, I gotta just stay on the bike for 3 hours...." We made it 3:09. So. Hard. My right eye really hurt, come to find out i was having some nasty reaction to something, making it ache and track poorly and look horrendous. I thought of going home a lot, I thought about what I was going to eat, a lot. But Breyer and I talked like school girls about everything from racing to the stuff school girls talk about. He eeked me to 1:35 and I started to feel like at least a recreational cyclist again, and by the end, a shadow of a racer came out of the haze, just in time to duck in the doorway.

Riding these long days I have a lot on my mind. The future, the past, Lynn Pletcher, the amazing Robert Bender, my lifes path. None of it makes sense and I am not sure it should, but I know I am extremely blessed to be able to share such days with these people, even if silently suffering wheel-to-wheel, this is the road that was meant for me.

Farewell Robert Bender

Robert, where to start! This photo sums him up perfectly. Happy, content, kind. I met Robert in 2005 up at the 12 Hours at the Summit in Big Bear. I can't remember if he raced solo or on a team, but from then on he became one of "The Guys" that I would see at the races, in the bike shop, and out on our local trails. Always offering a smile and some good convo.

I read somewhere on facebook a friend commented: "Robert thank you for giving Hulda Crooks cool corners." Ain't that the truth! He always had a shovel hidden out in the canyon I think so he could tidy up the burms and jumps. I loved that he had some of the most rad experiences, but to him, they were nothing to blog about. Just another day spent with good people. One to never boast, gloat, or make another racer or rider feel insufficient. I like his style.

I have been so impressed with the outpouring of love from his core friends and family. From organizing massive mountain bike rides, raffles at DH races, monster garage sales, and frequent beverage and pizza nights at Jersey's all in his support. This past Saturday, the 12 Hours of Temecula held a category just for Robert, Bike for Bender. I am so glad he was able to experience these selfless actions over the past few months.

Ride on my friend, and let's go hit some sweet jumps!


Tuesday, November 9

To Idyllwild and beyond!

I poached this picture of Tahquitz so you would be enticed and want to read more. Continue.

Ok, so how do am I supposed to take pictures while i ride? My hands are freezing, pockets are filled with bottles, arm warmers, chapstick, delicious snacks, and deep down inside, my phone in a ziplock. We can't stop for such things, we only stop for approximately one pit stop. I mean I took phenominal pictures in my mind! Riding through Hemet I saw an Ostrich, Beaumont a Hot Air Balloon in the back of a truck, Banning a couch. Which I in fact wanted to sit down on and take a nap.

Sometimes we set lofty goals. Most of the time we fall short. Sunday was not one of those days. Creating roughly 90.48 miles of riding, from Yucaipa-Hemet-Idyllwild-Banning-Yucaipa, we saw the world.

Riding up through the mountains was much more exciting than fearing for my life like I did last week on the back side of Oak Glen, dodging Apple Bobbers and Civil War Reinactments. Heading up the 79 or whatever it was, is super peaceful in comparision. The grade is not as drastic and the ample passing lanes make my life seem slightly more secure. Once you crest into Idyllwild, your stupid if you think you are done climbing. Enter the rollers near the tree line and subarctic climate (I had to put my arm warmers on, THIS is a big deal...) and giant Christmas trees ready for the taking. Lake Perris even looked inviting, from THERE.

When looking back, the most horrific terrible uncomfortable awful part of the ride was descending into Banning. For one reason. I could see Cabazon. And the windmills. And the Casino. It was already past 4 hours on the Garmin, and I know how far those dang windmills are. And why they are there, holy wind. My life was nearly lost 17 times due to massive gusts, leaving my hands literally numb at the bottom. Thankfully, the road wound west, away from Palm Springs. But it still dropped us straight onto the hot desert floor.
This ride was unique in that it was also un-chaperoned. Brian and I are usually flanked with good friends and teammates, but Sunday it panned out be just him and I. worked perfect for a date, we didn't have drive anywhere, spend money, get dressed up, or feel stuffy in any way. We also only spent about 75% of the time together, perfect for a date. I joke, I joke! But seriously, a much needed respite from the chaos that follows us. Riding in silence up huge mountains.

This ride is now my favorite. I hope winter stays away at least one more weekend, so we can go tackle it again.

Wednesday, November 3

What a Crock.

I'm busy. So busy that my food prep has gone out the window. Or so I thought. I came across a super nifty Crock Pot, for which I will always be grateful. I was at first quite nervous to leave it stewing and unattended, but i do the same thing with the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and refridgerator, how is this different?

I am vegetarian for the most part, and just feel weird about putting meat in the pot, so I have not crossed that bridge yet. However, I decided to make a breakfast option and a lunch option, brewing up enough for at least a week!

I found this website super helpful. This chick went all Julie and Julia on us and cooked in the Crock for 365 days! Yikes! http://www.crockpot365.blogspot.com/ and there a bunch of gluten free options, for those of you in the market!

My favorite bfast: Steel Cut Oats! But I can't find the recipe...fail!

My second favorite bfast: Oat's With Apples! Cut the sugar, and I don't use milk, maybe some almond milk, unsweetened original. When I heat it up in the microwave, gets the apples cooked all the way through!

Before...and 5 hours later...

My first lunch attempt was Moroccan Lentils - pretty great. I ate them with Kasha grain or Quinoa, awesome for lunch on the run at work!

But todays, is completely legit. I made a bunch of brown rice in the rice cooker and added this black bean concoction to it. AWESOME! Not bad with a bunch of fresh veggies, avocado, lime juice, tomatoes, cilantro and scallions!

And 6 hours later and a trip through the blender: