Tuesday, May 28


I have never been known for my reading prowess. I believe I became a fine reader of the Dick and Jane novels at the age of 8 or 9 as my best friend Laura had already progressed to Shakespeare and Potok. The scribble was on the sidewalk indeed, I would become a PE teacher. I liked to play, interact with people and things while using all my senses other than ocular.

I have moved into my early 30's *gasp* and I have graduated from all scholastic work and find my eyes peeled open and glazed over for hours on end staring at a computer monitor. Laptop. iPhone. Or the striking sun on a bike ride. When I do read, it's under the alien light of electronics and is most likely a recipe, cycling updates, or training methodology. Never, ever, raw nothingness content. Ever.

Then I hit the road. As my job has shifted I have found myself commuting from our town in the hills to LA, Santa Monica, Orange County, Arkansas and Oregon. I am not a huge music groupie *gasp* but I really needed something to stave off the white-knuckled city driving and mirage inducing open highways.

Audio Books. Genius. Before I delve into these, I have purchased a stack of highly recommended books. I have gotten stuck in the genre rut of sports, motivational, you-can-do-it books which began with the following:

Apolo Ohno: Zero Regrets - Be Greater Than Yesterday

I never finished it. He whined too much. And although I am a huge fan of Olympic Ice Skater Clara Hughes, I couldn't handle another lap around the ice oval. Not one more.

For the ears, I selected the following within my PE Teacher-Now I am a cycling coach, mindset:

Chris McCormack: I'm Here To Win

Completely genius. Amazing insights into the mind and life of a champion and the sacrifices elite athletes (insert business person, mother, wife, friend...) must endure to reach their goals. I really enjoyed his approach to the mental game and creating mental fortitude which helped him overcome so many obstacles. A must read!

Chrissy Wellington: A Life Without Limits

Amazing! This gal is a nut! I loved it. She embodies the endurance athlete to a T and is completely open about her issues, drawbacks and short comings. She is truly a genetic phenom because her luck was surely lacking. An awe-inspiring journey on all levels the showcased the deep bond competitors build.

Driving to Boulder, CO last summer, I decided to take my mind off of anything serious and see what all the craze was about on the two following series. They did not disappoint and at least kept my eyes peeled for hours on end!

Stieg Larsson: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy

EEEEEKKKKK!! This was crazy, and so well written it was impressive. I have watched the movie, and the first two movies that were made in Sweden, and they don't even crack the surface of how crazy these books were. Time has never flown by that fast before on the open highway, that's for sure!

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

Meh. I mean they were really good, and I could get through them easy and were really well written. But maybe in my mind I was comparing them to CS Lewis and J.R.R Tolkein (no, I never read those - my parents read them to us, and we listened to them in the car while traveling the US as small people). The afore mentioned series were both rooted in something much deeper than human nature and seem to have a very timeless flare to them. I was listening to a podcast with Brian a few weeks back and the speaker had this to say about the series: "The other has no basis in a religion of deeper belief system, which makes the books good, but not empowering." I feel like he nailed it on the head.

The movie was good though, and was pretty close to the book. I am interested in watching the next ones when they come out!

I won't bore you with many more of my audio books today, but I must leave you with my most favorite of all.

Garth Stein: The Art of Dancing in The Rain

Get it. Buy it. Listen to it or read it. Just do it. I have listened to it twice, and I would purchase it in real-deal book format as well! I love pets, and this is written with the voice of a labrador, just amazing.

A week from now I will embark on another traveling voyage and I have my iPhone cued up with multiple books to nourish my mind on the way. I have proposed, and accepted, the challenge of ready a real-live hard copy book every morning. I am over half way through it and my wind and spirit surely appreciate the respite from technology, being in the 'know', and contact with everyone and everything. I encourage you to take 10 minutes a day do the same!

Monday, May 13

Onwards and Upwards

Summer has landed in full-force here in SoCal with the house sitting pretty at 80 degrees at noon on a Monday. Moto and I are using the google search to find smoothie, gazpacho and salad recipes that won't make us sweat while creating them. 

We have spent the morning hard at work going through race and ride reports from my 25 clients with a fine-toothed comb. Yes. 25. This, along a few other reasons, is why this blog has been dormant since August. Excuses aside, Big Wheel Coaching is booming and the most reward venture I could have asked for. My clients are athletes that range in all levels of ability, yet are all smashing their goals, reaching new PRs and improving on and off the bike for a higher quality of life. 

I have had great blessings over the last 10 months and experiences I will carry with me forever. In September, Brian and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary in the mountain town of Idyllwild with Moto enjoying great food, clean air, and awesome hiking trails. Shortly thereafter, I joined "Team DB" on the Track for a shot-gun learning approach to track racing and the Team Pursuit. Olympian Dotsie Bausch was hot off of a Silver Medal in London and ready to cultivate the next wave of track racers. I joined Tara McCormack (Exergy) and my good friend Amber Gaffney (Optum) on one of the amazing and crazy learning periods of my cycling. Dotsie along with her husband Kirk and coach Bert Glennon put us through the ropes on the track. Seven sessions later we suited up for our 8th time on the track - National Championships Qualifier! Who is nuts now! We made it to the medal round and finished a crazy 3rd or Bronze. I will cherish this experience forever, and in the future will delve deeper into how it made me a stronger, smarter, happier and better cyclists. And person. Thank you Dotsie!

My duties with the CashCall Cycling Team increased significantly at the start of the new year and I transitioned my racing to their squad so I could keep everything in one place and gear up for a lot of travel and racing out of area with Brian. Early season racing found me tired and frustrated with taking a 180 turn too tight and clipping my pedal, taking myself out 10 minutes into a race. This fate was accompanied with a handful of mishaps and issues that effectively took me out of the running for any sort of result. Not to be discouraged, I joined my friend Amber Neben and the Dare To Be Project on an exciting campaign of the San Dimas Stage Race. Again, an amazing learning experience from a wonderful woman and mentor. Amber teamed up with the Swan sisters, 2 local junior racers, Addy A and myself for the race. As chance would have it, a mechanical put me out of the front group on the circuit race and place me safely in the chase group with both the Swan's. I told Amber I took my mentoring to the next level that day, keeping the girls fed and hydrated and safe in the pack, ensuring that they would start the rip-roaring criterium the next day. Another rewarding experience that literally came out of the blue. 

Then there came the Redlands Bicycle Classic with Lululemon, Sea Otter by myself and Joe Martin solo in the pouring rain. Each of them harboring amazing lessons, hardships, and successes. Those are for another time though. :-) 

Fast forward to present-day and life is good! After being on the road for the better part of a month, and Brian only being there for Joe Martin (5 days) I was more than ready to be home. Everything is better here in the small town of Yucaipa. It's not flashy or easy by any means, but this is where my family is. I love going to the group rides and local races and seeing so many friends! Being able to hang out with Brian and Moto is priceless. This weekend we went back to our roots of spending the weekend traveling to and from local races together. The laundry room is an explosion of salt-covered kits and snot riddled gloves and there are more dirty bottles to be cleaned out than I can count. Perfect! 

This is hard for me to admit, because it happens so rarely, but my motivation levels were at an all-time low heading into Saturday's Devil's Punchbowl Road Race. Brian, the forever motivator, told me to suck it up, he had already packed the car. All I had to do was get dressed and get in the car. Makes it pretty hard to say no to a bike race. As a solo racer, I have to be crafty. The other 2 strikes against me are the fact that I am not a climber nor am I sprinter. These three strikes would bench many a road warrior, but I am just a sucker for punishment. And punishing others. My goal at these races is to get as close to the podium as possible, get a good workout, and make other people suffer. I achieved all three with a 4th place on a wildly hot race that gained just under 5k feet. If I can get this up that, so can you!

The aftermath of the race is where the true story lies though. It was brutally hot and was a good athlete - drank a recovery drink, electrolytes, ate a pre-made sandwich and even a smoothie I had frozen and put in the cooler. However, the days efforts took their toll on me as I waited in the feed zone as Brian slogged his 80 miles and 9k feet of climbing to the finish. I got a cracking head ache that forced us to stop on the drive home. I just kept thinking if we make it home, everything will be fine. But as we got closer, I felt worse and worse. Brian started talking about Mexican food and I made him put a cork in it for fear I would uncork my belly 3 miles from home. Once we turned onto our street, and home was almost there, he drove slower....but you know when you really have to pee and your OK, until you SEE a port-o-potty...then you HAVE to go?! That's just what happened. We got in the driveway, door open and puke all over the door, and driveway. Brian is champ because I puked so much my nose started to bleed a ton. He got the hose and cleaned the driveway so Moto would eat it (dogs are disgusting) and let me sit on the driveway and heave it out. Oddly, we couldn't stop laughing about it and he was gracious enough to grab me some crackers and 7UP to ease the pain. Every day, making the memories our fun life is made of!

To cap our weekend adventures off, we created ground hogs day, loaded the car and headed to another bike race on Sunday. The barometer raised another 10 degrees and we were greeted with a pretty cool course at Chuck Pontius. I will spare you the details, but another 4th was to be had on the day for me. Several hours later, Brian lured me into the men's 1/2/3 crit of 75 minutes. It doesn't even take candy or anything cool to get me to race another event, total push-over. I was his only teammate for the day, and I am sure our discussions made quite a few of the guys racing laugh at least a little bit. Who brings their wife to a race, puts her in the race, then tells her to go to the front and do work? Brian does of course. He got in the early break which eventually lapped the field, as I sat tucked into the top 20 ticking the minutes off one by one. At the 50 minute mark, the length of the women's race earlier in the day, I was pretty knackered. Then I hear him coming. You can hear it a mile away and I knew exactly what he was going to say. Come on Joy! To the front, we have work to do! I told him I was spent, and he told me we didn't have time to discuss this matter, on his wheel! Yes Dear...He had rallied his friends and breakaway-mates to the front to keep things steady and under control for the remaining 25 minutes. I was already 2 bottles in and all I could do was hold him near the front. A big surge came and he cracked the whip, "Go Joy Go!!" And what else to do but bridge the gap, pull the pin on the grenade and fade to the back of the pack. I "sat" there until 2 laps to go and saw his little blue body make a violent attack off the front and my blue body let go of the grenade and I blew out the back. At least I got a 2 lap solo cool down to finish the race. :-) 

Then, we ate like 7 dishes from the Thai place down the street. These are the stories that keep racing fun and enticing. We surely don't win often and we don't ever quit. But sometimes we get pretty darn tired. Now lets hope I can just be a better blogger and do this a bit more frequently.