Race Report, Uncategorized

2018 Cyclocross Season – Just keep fighting

I’ve never been a mantra type person.  Never really had a saying or anything, except for some self-talk like “keep it smooth” or “don’t freaking wreck now!” in the heat of a mountain bike race.  But this past cyclocross season taught me something, and morphed into the mantra I ended up embracing: Keep Fighting.

I really didn’t know what to expect from cyclocross this year.  Honestly, it’s my favorite discipline and I was just very excited to get back to my little wacky cross family for a few months, but my fitness never seemed to recover to previous levels after surgery.  Nonetheless, I decided I would attend every Front Range BRAC/USAC cross race, minus the three I’d miss due to my Iceland trip (I know, horrrrribbbbllleeee excuse!).  I’ve never raced every single event in the season; in fact, I barely did any races in 2017.  I also decided to supplement the USAC stuff with weeknight races at New Belgium and a few of the Southeast Wyoming CX Series races.  Ambitious.  Maybe crazy.

So after nearly a month off the bike and three weeks spent hiking around at nearly sea level, I dived into the 2018 cyclocross season in the single speed category.

Issues:

  1. The single speed women’s category grew… like double/triple from last year
  2. It got super fast
  3. Ummm, I barely ride a bike

The first race at Primalpalooza on September 30th was a disaster for me.  I ended up finishing minutes off the back.  I think I was just walking my bike at one point.  It was miserable and heart wrenching.  Immediately I thought “oh crap,” and stared at all the races I plotted out.  Now, some might roll their eyes and think I only like racing a bike when I’m winning.  Which hey, winning is super nice, but so is also not being like 4 minutes off the next racer.  I thought I maybe jumped in over my head.

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A good photographer will make you appear a lot faster than you actually are! Primalpalooza (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)

But alas, the skin suit came out one week later at CycloX Interlocken.  It was rainy, which led to some slippery conditions which plays to my technical strengths.  I had a decent start, and on the second lap was just about to contact 4th & 5th places when I got lost on course, rode the sand pit twice, and later got lost AGAIN near the end of the lap.  So… freaking… frustrated.  Luckily, I was able to make up a few positions, and ended up a mid-pack 6th, which was a relief.  OK, it’s still there.  Barely, and with some weird route finding issues, but there.  But I did find myself whispering over and over “Keep fighting, Heidi, keep fighting!”

Next big weekend was the US Open of Cyclocross weekend at Valmont.  I always race like poo at Valmont, but I do like the mountain bike-ness of the course, and the fact I can usually find something to launch my bike off of.  I had a good start on Saturday, but for some reason decided to not turn my bike in a gravel corner, which caused me to panic brake and wipe out.  Seriously, WTF?!  I ended up 4th on the tough course that involve to many steep run ups, but one awesome jump I went off of every lap to spectaculars’ delight.  Once again, mid-pack.  Sunday’s conditions had me eagerly bouncing off the walls, with weather doing a 180 and dumping about a foot of snow on the course.  Usually Valmont races are hot sufferfests, so I was all for the snow!  I had a great start, but soon my shoes and my pedals each were balls of ice, which led to me having to strider-bike a lot of parts where Sarah could clip in and keep pedaling.  The time I wasted trying to get my feet to even contact my pedals for more than 2 seconds meant a 2nd place finish.  But finally, in my 6th season of racing cyclocross, I got my elusive podium at Valmont!  Only took a ton of snow for it to happen.  Lesson learned to pack some flat pedals in case of a repeat.

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US Open Day 1 – bare skin (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)
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US Open Day 2 – No bare skin in sight (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography

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With a podium behind me, I dived into the following weekend, deciding to also race my women’s geared cat 3 category at Schoolyard Cross after the single speed race.  Schoolyard was a bit annoying, as we started after the cat 5 men, which led to a lot of guys blocking the path.  I sat in 3rd most of the race, but kept getting caught up in men falling over in front of me, or zooming around me on flat/straights and then slowing up horribly in the corners and blocking my way.  The lost seconds added up, and I settled for 4th.  Shoot.  However, in the cat 3 race, I had an amazing start, and held on for 5th place, even though I kept forgetting I could shift on the bike.  I hadn’t raced cat 3 in nearly 3 years, so it was a nice change.  I split a hotel with my friend Wendy, just like we did “back in the day,” which was quite enjoyable.

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Schoolyard Cross – A case of racing bitch face (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)

CycloX Louisville, aka Bowl of Death, was the day after Schoolyard.  My legs definitely felt the previous day’s efforts, and Bowl of Death is no cake walk.  There were a few position changes throughout the race, and I knew I just had to keep pushing to hold onto my 5th place.  Once again, that whole Keep Fighting thing came up.  I professed my love to Meredith Miller as she lapped me.  Sometimes the suffering just needs to end!

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Mashing my legs to death at Bowl of Death (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)

By now, it was end of October, and it seemed like we were on the downward side of the cross season hump.  I launched into my first official week of 2019 training, motivated by ambitious race plans to get back to structured intervals and the trainer.  I knew it can always be a challenge to juggle intervals and base training while still racing cross twice a weekend, but I felt up for it.

I’ve never raced the Feedback Cup before, and was nervous how the course would treat me, as it seemed very fitness based vs. skills.  It was also hot in the morning, so I decided to race without gloves because I felt too overheated (I think this was the last time I’d think that this cross season).  I had a great start, keeping on Errin’s back wheel.  The course at race speeds ends up being a blast, and challenging.  The field strung out a bit, and Michelle and I traded positions a few times before I could power away on a gentle climb.  Now sitting in 3rd, I knew I wanted this podium more than anything else at that moment in time.  I pushed and pushed to increase the gap, as I knew Michelle was quicker on the two sections that required being off the bike.  Excitingly enough, I finished on the lead lap, and was not lapped by the open women!  3rd place, amazing podium hair, so excited!

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First lap traffic at Feedback Cup (Photo by Wet Bear Photo)

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Tired legs greeted me for Sunday’s race that weekend, the Republic Cycles Northglenn race.  I had decided to do 15 miles of gentle mountain biking in Boulder County to kill time Saturday afternoon, and was semi-worried it was too much for my legs.  Oh well… it was the Halloween race, and shenanigans were meant to be had!  The course, which is rather flat aside from steep, loose hills on the backside, was fast.  The start was fast and furious, and Sarah and I took to the front.  I ended up rear ending Sarah twice on the first lap, which is the great thing about racing single speed… it’s really hard to break the bikes!  Sarah would end up gapping me off the front, so I settled into maintaining my 2nd place position.  This race made for the best podium photo of the year, with me and a giant bottle of vodka, Sarah with her winner’s jersey, and Melissa just posing completely normal with the two lunatics.  OK, maybe the mojo is back…

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Loose, steep hills made the Northglenn race tough (Photo by Ryan Muncy Photography)

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So one of my biggest flaws that I’ve always had as a bike racer is mentally setting myself up for the outcome based on pre-registration lists and who shows up at the start line.  You know, one of those, “ughhhh SHE registered, now we’re all racing for 2nd” type of mentalities.  I’m bad about it at cross.  I see Liz, Heather, and Errin (aka the Mosaic squad) roll up, and I know I’m racing for mid-pack-off-the-podium at that point.  I don’t care how many times you tell me I’ve beaten them or hung onto their wheels, I won’t believe it.  CycloX Sienna Lake started out just like that.  It downpoured rain during our pre-ride, and while I was giddy to race in more crappy conditions, I knew the “fast chicks” were there.  BAM!  We start and I’m 3rd wheel.  Umm… where’s Errin?  Well, ok, they’ll catch me soon enough.  Pedal pedal pedal, run smartly, bang mud off my cleats, clip in and GOOOOOO.  Errin is back there, but I’m holding her off.  KEEP FIGHTING DAMMIT!  And so I did, oh so hard on the slick course.  Second to last lap I gave up hope of securely clipping in and took to single speeding on essentially flat pedals as I knew I was losing precious seconds.  I ran the run ups, and rode smart.  3rd place!!!  Time to stop with the start line prophecies.

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Rain switched to sun after my race started, but left lots of mud! (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)

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I raced in Laramie the day after Sienna Lake.  50mph head winds and bitter cold temps.  My mom came out to watch which was fun.  Laprele Park is horribly bumpy, and tumbleweed kept getting stuck in my cantilever brakes on my geared bike.  I won the women’s category, and ordered a new geared bike the next day with disc brakes.  Whoops.

Finally it was time for the most wonderful weekend of the year:  CROSS OF THE NORTH!!!  Seriously, I LIVE for this weekend every fall.  It’s the closest I get to a “hometown” race for cross, and I love how many are out there cheering and heckling me.    I decided to be ultra ambitious this weekend, and registered for SSW and SW3 both days. I had the new geared bike and I love the course/venue so much that it seemed smart.

Saturday’s SSW race took place at a chilly 8am.  Like Schoolyard, we had the luxury of starting behind the cat 5 men.  And by luxury, I mean headache.  Another fast start, so we soon began catching them.  Errin had a good, clean, impressively fast race, and took to the front, and never looked back.  I settled into second, with Liz and Sarah stalking me from behind.  I felt odd during this race, like I was experiencing it from out of my body, and never really felt like I was in it.  But I kept on pedaling, enjoying the technical features that I’ve use to racing on between the short track and weekday cross series held on the same course.  Eventually on the second to last lap Liz, Sarah, and I would all end up together, and I knew it would important to get my crap together for the final lap.  Sarah slipped into 2nd, and I all out sprinted to maintain my 3rd place over Liz.  In the end, I think less than 3 seconds separated 2nd-4th places!  Such an exciting race, but that final sprint was horribly painful!  Most importantly, I kept my COTN podium streak alive, with my 4th year of appearing on a single speed podium! (2015 – 3rd SS4/5; 2016 – 3rd SS4/5; and 2017 – 1st SSW).  I took to some recovery, and enjoyed a sloppy SW3 race in the afternoon, still trying to figure out what I’m suppose to do with a shifter.  But my new bike rocked!

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Being gimpy on the barriers in the SSW race of Cross of the North day 1 (Photo by Terri Smith)

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Probably one of my favorite race images ever! SW3 race on day 1 of Cross of the North (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)

Sunday’s weather forecast held up its end of the bargain for COTN, and snow greeted me in the morning.  Once again, I was giddy to be racing in sloppy, icy conditions, and wondered what I did to appease the weather gods as Colorado cross seasons are usually 70 degrees, dry, and horribly dusty.  The cat 5 men ended up being a huge ordeal to deal with, especially on the first lap.  Sarah got off the front, and once again Liz and I battled out for our positions, with Heather sneaking up on us.  By the last lap a curvy section of the course turned into an ice skating rink, and Liz and I took turns wrecking in front of each other numerous times, getting to be so comical I was just laughing.  Finally I was able to stay upright long enough to create a gap, and hold onto 2nd place.  Yessssssssssss!  My SW3 race in the afternoon was the muddiest bike affair I’ve been part of aside from the 2014 Rumble at 18 Road.  New bike was given a thorough mud coating, along with my mouth, teeth, face, and every item of clothing.  I managed to fight to hold my 6th place finish after the next girl getting pretty close to me a few times.  I’m getting better at this fighting thing!

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Breaking in my new bike properly at day 2 of Cross of the North (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)
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Sometimes cyclocross gets a bit muddy… (Photo by Ryan Muncy Photography)

Coming off 5 races of podiums and a great COTN weekend, I was optimistic for the rest of the season, but naturally cautious and still predicting my finish based on who I lined up with.  CycloX Westminster was greeted with freezing rain.  It was actually quite awful.  I had a decent start, but suddenly my lungs gave me a big fact NO and I struggled to breathe in the moist, frozen 25-degree air.  As racer after racer passed me in my category, I got a bit down, but eventually pulled on my big girl chamois and fought to stay not-last-place.  Before the last lap I even had to toss my glasses as they had a thick ice layer over them.  The bike was all icy, and even my chest and arms had an ice layer frozen to the fabric.  I like bad conditions, but not freezing rain.  I held on for 6th place, wheezing at the finish line and hightailing it home to set up an appointment with my doc.  You need to breathe to race a bike…

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Before the ice started sticking to every surface at CycloX Westminster (Photo by Ryan Muncy Photography)

The following day was the Wyoming Cyclocross State Championships here in Cheyenne.  I hadn’t raced a state champs for Wyoming since 2015, when I easily pedaled to the win.  I didn’t know what to expect this time around, as there’s some fast junior girls coming up in this area, and that sneaking fear Christy Olson could always appear, and I always am aware of the large target on my bike when I race in southeastern Wyoming.  Luckily it was sunny, not too windy, and mid-30s, which turned Clear Creek Park into another mud fest.  I swear I can’t keep the new bike clean!  The course was very nicely designed, and utilized some good terrain features for off camber climbs and descents, sand pits, barriers, and tight turns.  My plan was to go out hard, build a big lead, and then just hang on.  Being non-USAC, Wyoming cross races tend to run a lot longer than the BRAC mandated 40-45 minutes the women see in Colorado.  I knew I probably had an hour of racing to do.  I executed my plan… and something totally cool happened… I finished on the lead lap of the open men!  I wasn’t lapped by the fast dudes!  Bad thing is I had a nearly 70 minute long race… but I wasn’t lapped!  Wahooooo!  Proud of this win for sure!

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Fun course at the Wyoming State Championships race in Cheyenne!

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Then it was two weeks off before the Colorado State Championships.  I briefly considered driving to Fruita to race the USAC double-header there to pad my CO Cross Cup standing, but realized I didn’t want to deal with I-70 traffic and wanted some quality family time (I’d curse when I’d see some SSW ladies go race it in the end… looked like an awesome course!).  Kubo and I got out on the fat bikes for a ride, and otherwise we ate lots and relaxed.

The CO State Championships were at Salisbury Equestrian Park in Parker, where I rode to a 1st place finish last year on a muddy day.  No mud this year, just hardback dirt and freezing cold temperatures.  The single speed was at 4pm Saturday evening, meaning it was even colder, and getting dark fast (I’d finish after sunset).  In what USAC is maintaining as “an honest mistake,” they intermixed the women in with the men, which meant one gal had a front row start and the rest of us were in rows 3-4.  Not ideal and we all exchanged confused banter and looks at the start.  I lucked out with a good start thanks to a parting of the men I could ride through and took off.  I’d end up settling in 4th place, until the steep run up that was hard as concrete and slippery took my mojo and I was passed.  So there I was in 5th, fighting, with a charging Liz, Sarah, and Melissa behind me.  If this was a time to keep fighting, it was now with 1.5x cup points on the line, and a desire to at least say I was top 5.  I once again came around the finish with Liz a few seconds off my back wheel and I nearly cried thinking of the pain of the COTN sprint.  Luckily, it didn’t come down a full on sprint.  Whew.  5th place!

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The sun setting on the 2018 cyclocross season (Photo by Brent Murphy Photography)

Sunday of the state races I raced in SW3.  I had the 3rd call up , which made me giggle as a junior girl thought they were calling her name instead.  Big, tall 35 year old me in a sea of teenage girls!  They took off fast at the start, and I hung to them, because hey, I have like 100 pounds of extra body weight which translates into one hell of a sprint and wattage cottage when needed.  My great position ended at the steep wall run up, which everyone struggled to get up without slipping (100 extra pounds is a disadvantage when climbing straight up on slippery dirt apparently).  So it was back to fighting for my mid-to-bottom pack finish.  Racing with more than one gear available is super hard, and even harder on a fast course like Salisbury.  On the last lap Lia would end up sneaking onto me, and into the tree portion coming into the finish she attempt to sprint past.  I don’t know where I got the watts from, but I responded to the sprint and held her off through the sharp 180 turn into the finishing straight.  Crap!  I have to sprint again!  Except we were sprinting straight into the back of the cat 4 winner who was posting up.  Nonetheless we went for it, me getting the advantage in what felt like in my mind an impressive bike throw.  I honestly wish I could’ve seen the finish line camera photo from it… cat 4 girl all posting up, two crazy cat 3’s behind her sprinting for 9th and 10th!

Finally the final race of the year… the Rocky Mountain Regional Championships.  Though a bit fitness course, I do enjoy it.  My race ended up not going as well as I wanted.  I had a pretty solid first two laps, staying on Errin’s wheel in 4th place.  I managed to power past her on the 3rd lap, and had a great gap until I slid out on one of the off camber, grass downhills.  This completely killed my mojo, and my heart spiked to 196 as I ran up the hill.  I’d proceed to fall back and back, eventually finishing 5th.  But not before I took a double beer hand up on the last lap!  So not exactly the result I wanted to have (and almost did, if I didn’t wreck), but at least I finished, which is more than I can say for regionals last year!  My placing was good enough to land me in 2nd place for the third year in a row for the Colorado Cross Cup for single speed women!!

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Chasing Errin for a few laps at Regionals (Photo by Ty Branch)

So that’s my 2018 cyclocross season in one long nutshell.  A season that taught me to never give up, fight for every position, whether it’s a podium or not-last-place.  To never look at the women around me and determine what place I’ll finish on their race resume alone.  A season to use oxyclean to get out all the mud and grime, and to never wear drop-tail Pearl Izumi thermal bibs ever again.  A season that finally gave me my mantra:  Keep fighting.  And that applies to so many more aspects of the world than a cyclocross race.

A long, ambitious cyclocross season takes a village.  Though an individual sport on the course, no one can do it alone.  To my boyfriend,  who came and cheered and held bikes, and otherwise dealt nicely with the weird ass world that is cyclocross and competitive cycling, and my parents for dealing with another “no, I have to race that weekend, I’ll see you in mid-December” answer to planning time together.  My team, 9Seventy Racing, and awesome teammates who also raced cross, or who would volunteer, cheer, etc.  My extended cross family, that feels like a team though we all hail from other teams.. .from Feedback Sports jumping in to helping with wheel issues both days of CO States, Tricia loaning me a heart rate monitor, Without Limits for granting volunteer opportunities.  The awesome, amazing, STRONG women of Colorado’s single speed category, who aren’t afraid to fight for women’s cycling and ensure we have a better playing field to play on.  Tailwind Nutrition for keeping me fueled and recovered, especially on those crazy back to back weekends, or double race days.  Anthony Zegan of BikeWyo (best bike mechanic ever!!) for keeping my bikes running smoothly.  Patrick and the team at the Bicycle Station for getting me my pretty new Specialized Crux in an amazingly quick time.  To Alan and Seth for posting “mediocre” on all my podium photos as an inside joke.

It’s time to rest, and train up for my most ambitious year yet – 2019.

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Uncategorized

A Young, Competitive Cyclist’s Hysterectomy Story

I like reading other people’s experiences with things.  I’m beyond guilty of searching for people’s blogs and race reports before events to get an idea of the experience and course.  Sometimes it’s just nice to know others feel/see/whatever the same things I do.  But one area is missing… and that’s finding out the experience of an early-30s-childless-athelete who had a laparoscopic total hysterectomy.  So here’s my story… mostly just to document my recovery and story, and hopefully maybe someone else will stumble upon it as well.

The whole mess really started in the late winter/spring of 2017 with nagging pelvic pain that would come and go.  I trudged on, until the months of nonstop bleeding started occurring.  I had been on oral birth control for nearly 15 years and had very regulated periods and what not, so I knew things were not normal. I finally scheduled an appointment with my OB-GYN in early August 2017, and she ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a cyst on one of my ovaries and polyp in my uterus.  I was put on “old school” high dose oral birth control pills.  I stayed on the pills for about two and a half months, but then the side effects became too severe that I went back to my old, low dose formulation.  My doc and I agreed on some watching and waiting, but by December 2017 the pain was becoming more intense.  Another ultrasound was scheduled, and it showed the cyst was gone, but the polyp still remained.

I have never wanted to have kids, it was never in the cards for me for a multitude of reasons, so I was “ok” with having a hysterectomy, but my doctor did not want to jump to that right away.  When I was 3 years old I had both of my ureters reimplanted onto my bladder, and she had concerns about anatomy and scarring that could make a hysterectomy high risk.  So we agreed with proceeding with a hysteroscopy to remove the polyp and also take a better look at what was going on in my pesky uterus.  I underwent that procedure in mid January 2018.  Overall it was quite easy, I was ready to go home like 20 minutes after leaving recovery, and had just very mild cramping which I took ibuprofen for.  The polyp  was removed, but the doctor did see suspected fibroids.

Unfortunately the pain and bleeding increased significantly in the month following what was hopefully going to be a solution, so I decided to proceed with scheduling a hysterectomy with ureteral stents (to aid in visualizing my ureters so hopefully they would remain unharmed).  By then I had waffled between “I’m not training at all!” to doing intervals on the trainer in the basement.  Really my whole spring, and resulting summer race season, was in limbo and from an athletic point of view I was really lost at what to do.  So I skied, kinda rode, and was lazy a lot.  And naturally, I wasn’t feeling well, so motivated to really hammer on the training plan wasn’t there.  A date was set, and suddenly there was just waiting.  And hoping 5 weeks would be enough recovery to still race the Gunnison Growler…

Some people think that because I didn’t want kids that this was an easy decision to make, but let me tell you, it was NOT!  It’s one thing to not have kids by choice, it’s another when it’s anatomically impossible anymore.  I had more than several occasions where I seriously considered canceling the surgery, wondering if I was making too serious of a decision.  I’m only 34, and have plenty of friends who had babies at 38, 39, 40… I don’t know what the future holds, and what might change.  So it was tough.  Luckily, I would keep both of my ovaries, which means keeping eggs so if I win the lottery, the chance is always there for a biological child.  (Oh hell, who am I kidding… cats and bikes all the way!)

So after a hectic April of multiple work travel trips, personal vacation to Florida, one last ski day at A-Basin, surgery day came on April 20th.  Pre-op was all the standard stuff, and soon enough I was in the OR and out within minutes.  I woke up screaming that I had to pee and confused why I wasn’t on the beach anymore.  My bladder was spasming awfully from the cystoscopy and stents.  My amazing PACU nurse was quick to bring warm blankets to help soothe the pain and I finally really realized I wasn’t on a  beach for reals, and that after months and months of tests, ultrasounds, pills here and there, and what not it was all over.  There was no going back, it was done and done.  Kinda freaky…

I eventually was transferred to my room that I would stay in overnight.  So… I went into this surgery thinking the pain wouldn’t be any worse than finishing out a mountain bike race with a few cracked ribs, and that I would refuse all opioid pain meds after PACU.  Ummm, chalk that up to one of the worse ideas I’ve had in a long time…

First time I tried to pee I was in tears due to all the trauma in my bladder and ureters.  I wasn’t even really being bothered by my three laparoscopic incisions or the big one in my woman parts internally.  Sitting up felt like everything was going to fall out of the bottom of me.  I walked to the bathroom hunched over like a 100 year old granny with bad posture.  I was pissed off I was in pain, but remained stubborn and took only Tylenol.  By 6pm, a few hours after getting to my room, I finally agreed to a Norco pain pill.  I ate some dinner, and settled into feeling crappy, as the gas pains from them inflating my belly were starting to begin.

This was not some cracked ribs, or deep lacerations from decomposed granite, or even landing head first at 30mph.

So, pretty much, I didn’t know how to deal with it.  I felt like a big baby.  Dammit, I can push on and ride bikes and race injured, why couldn’t I handle a hysterectomy?!

I was barely able to get any sleep thanks to unnecessary things beeping in my room (I was a night shift surgical nurse for years, so that added to my grumpiness about all the unnecessary noises).  Finally got some good sleep from 4-7:30am and woke up really excited for breakfast.  I had taken myself (whoops… what does high fall risk mean again?!) to the bathroom a few times overnight and the pain was less and less (and also meant peeing less blood), and was feeling a bit better.  My doctor came in right as breakfast came and took the bandages off the lap incisions and gave me scripts and instructions for home.  Naturally I asked when I could exercise, and she told me not to even think about it.  Sigh.  (My doctor has no idea that I’m a competitive cyclist actually… probably should’ve told her.)

My Boy and parents got me home by 9 or 10am and we settled in for movies and laziness.  The gas pain was becoming my main issue, along with an intense fear on my part about becoming constipated (nurses are a bit poop obsessed if they’ve ever worked post-surgical).  Luckily The Boy was ever so attentive, running and getting me meds, and feeding me, and helping me through intense bouts of pain when the gas would irritate the phrenic nerve and give me crazy awful shoulder and neck pain.  Laughing hurt, I was deathly afraid of sneezing, and I thought my belly button was the grossest looking thing in the world.

Before surgery I had grand plans of returning to work by Monday possibly (reminder, surgery was on Friday), and just getting back to normal life immediately, but that just wasn’t the case.  After all, I had a uterus, cervix, and both fallopian tubes removed, and those are like… you know… organs.  The Boy took me on a mile long stroll in the park on Sunday afternoon in the sun, which felt good.  Monday and Tuesday post surgery I slept in, laid around, and reminded myself that it was completely okay that I just sit back and rest.  I’m a highly Type A “I must be doing something!” type of person, so this was beyond challenging.

Wednesday, post op day 5, I probably overdid it.  I did 4 hours of work from home, and then walked 2 miles in the park by my house, cooked a decently big dinner, and this just wiped me out.  Thursday I didn’t really feel well, so The Boy loaded me up in my car and we went out to Curt Gowdy to enjoy the sun and warm weather and did a small walk on one of my favorite mountain bike trails.  Which let me tell you, 60+ degree weather, sunshine, and my favorite mountain bike trail just meant I was super sad I wasn’t riding a bicycle.  Seriously, why couldn’t there have been like two feet of snow during my recovery instead of sunshine and 60-70 degree weather?!  Friday and Saturday was followed up with more hikes and sunshine, and by Saturday morning I was feeling a lot more like myself, with just soreness around my incisions on my belly.  Sunday I decided to talk myself back to Gowdy where I walked Stone Temple Circuit for the first time ever, and saw so many things I miss while riding a bike… mainly a very phallic rock feature, but hey, whatever, LOL.  I also scouted out some new lines on features I struggle with, so it was like training, right?

At my 1 week follow up appointment (post op day 10) my doctor removed the knots on the stitches on my belly.  I asked about when I could ride a bike, and she told me to wait.  DAMMIT.

And that kinda brings us up to current day (post op day 11).  I returned to work, and realized having to fully sit up in a chair and wear pants was awful and created a lot of soreness.  So I’m opting for dresses the rest of the week.  Ever since post op day 3 I’ve been taking 800mg of ibuprofen twice daily for pain control, and occasionally heat packs.  I’m feeling more of the “internal” stitches and trauma now, with dull pelvic pain.  The incisions really only smart with clothing rub on them or I move in just the wrong way.

So yeah.. the cycling.  It’s been an awful wait.  The weather has been gorgeous and the looming Gunnison Growler keeps creeping closer and closer.  I’m not sure when I can ride, and how it’s even going to feel.  I’m thinking I’ll start with gentle road rides, or possibly even the trainer.  I’m accepting that it is quite a real possibility that my first time back on a mountain bike will be in Gunnison.  Is it smart to do a 35 mile tough as hell mountain bike race after not riding for 2 months, and 5 weeks after a major ass surgery?  I have no idea, but I’m going with a solid NO.  I do still have a few more weeks to cancel my entry if I have to.  Life is in limbo, and I’m kinda just having to learn to live with that.  You never know what you got, until you don’t got it anymore, and that’s where I am with the cycling nonsense.  I wasn’t riding because I burned out and didn’t want to, and now that I can’t, I want nothing more than to ride a bike.  Sigh.

That, in a long winded nutshell, is my story thus far.  I’ve learned “hysterectomy” can be a dirty, or feared, word.  I don’t like that.  Women shouldn’t have to suffer through pain and other symptoms.  Or wonder if they’re alone.  So here’s my story.  I’ll updated it as necessary.  Fingers crossed for salvaged a meager race season with no expectations aside from fun and shenanigans!

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Heidi Does More Than Ride a Bike

I haven’t updated since July… and really, my life seemingly did a 180 in that time span.  My last couple of posts were about hiking a 14er and the need to do more than just bike bike bike.

So what did I do, July 2017 through today, January 13, 2018?

  • I showed up to a Laramie Mountain Bike Series race finally, mostly because they wanted the trophy back (the open series winner trophy is a roaming trophy that goes to the next winner every year).  I won race #5 in complete surprise, and in one of the toughest battles I have ever had in a XCO length race.  And I won thanks to my DESCENDING skills.  Yes, I won on the descents.  The DESCENTS.  Hands down one of the best days on a bike ever.  And marked the 3rd year in a row that I’ve won LMBS race #5 for open women.  It’s MY race, clearly.

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    Photo by Jessica Flock
  • I ran a couple more 5k’s.
  • I learned the Steamboat Stinger is best raced not hungover.
  • I climbed Mount Massive, which is the 3rd highest peak in the contiguous US.  2nd highest in Colorado.  I ate gummy bears, said embarrassing things about Slovaks, and enjoy more time with my great friend Lydia.
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  • I ran up Medicine Bow Peak.  RAN.
  • I skipped Dakota 5-O for photographing SCCA rallycross, which I haven’t been to since 2012.  I got dirty and giggled like a little kid during ride-a-longs
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  • I won 3 single speed cross races, and had poor results at most of the rest of them.  I won at taking beer hand ups.  Finished 2nd in the Colorado Cross Cup.

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    Photo by Brent Murphy
  • I raced in my first rallycross event and learned that mountain biking skills cross over to racing a car on dirt somewhat.  And I wasn’t last in any of the races I did.  #winning

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    Photo by Brent Murphy… convinced a cycling photographer to come join the gasoline side!
  • I camped in the snow.
  • The Boy and I road tripped to Moab for my 34 birthday.  He broke his hand 5 miles into the Whole Enchilada, and yet finished the rest of the ride (another 21 miles) by blowing me out the water on technical features.  We camped.  We off-roaded Fozzy and explored and drank Redd’s apple ale under the milky way.  We finished off with a hike up to Hanging Lake.
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  • I strapped on alpine skis for the first time in nearly 9 years and realized how amazingly awesome it is to fly down snowy hills.
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  • I purchased a plane ticket to Iceland after planning for 4 years and having to postpone the trip due to changing jobs in 2017.
  • I’ve done yoga since mid-October every single week.
  • I sat on my couch a lot.  I cuddled my cat.  I worried what was happening because I was not constantly riding a bike

I lived life.

Hope is not lost for the bicycle.  I think some people think this of me.  I think I finally just learned balance… or got the bug to just have a crazy life that involves a lot of different activities.

For 2018 I will continue racing for 9Seventy Racing, a team of kick ass multisport athletes.  I have registered for the Gunnison Half Growler for the 4th year in the row.  I have plans to race LMBS, Gowdy Grinder, Lory XTERRA (relay again), and Erock Sunrise to Sunset.  Maybe a little bit of road, though I’m not looking forward to renewing my USAC license.  I am requesting a downgrade to cat 1 in mountain bike, because let’s face it, my desire to be pro is long gone.  In between I will ski a lot, fat bike, avoid the trainer, camp, laugh, smile, sit on my ass if I want to, and furiously keep planning my 19 day trip to Iceland.

Here’s to 2018 and the adventures that lie ahead, regardless of if I ride bikes or not!

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Adventure weekend! Colorado Trail & Mount Yale

Because adventures in the mountains sound so much better than racing a hill climb!

When my new friend Lydia asked if anybody wanted to join her last weekend on a 14er hike I jumped at the chance, as I’ve been saying for years every summer that I’d climb a 14er.  With an iffy forecast we set out for Camp Hale north of Leadville early Saturday morning to ride the Colorado Trail from Camp Hale to Holy Cross Wilderness.  Luckily the weather remained goregous!

Camp Hale was part of the 10th Mountain Division training grounds during WWII.  At the end of our ride we spent several miles riding around looking at the ruins and reading the information signs that were around.

Can’t say I see this warning too often on a mountain bike ride
Ruins of bunkers at Camp Hale

This segment of the Colorado Trail was absolutely amazing!  The Camp Hale trail marathon was going on, so our first few miles were shared with trail runners, but soon we had the trails all to ourselves.  The trail gradually climbed up to Tennessee Pass, where we got to PET LLAMAS!  Tomas and Carlos had just finished up a 115 mile hike with their humans.  I love llamas, so this was definitely a highlight for me!

Carlos and Tomas!
We crossed the highway to get a photo with the pass sign
Flowy single track through green scenery
Parts of the trail had it’s share of chunk!
Looking for trolls!

We stopped short of the wilderness boundary as the trail turned quite rocky and hike-a-bike.  We didn’t quite realize how much climbing we had done until we turned around and absolutely flew all the way back to our cars!  With the riding around Camp Hale, the ride came in at 30 miles with just about 3000 feet of climbing.  Amazing day adventuring on the bikes with no pressure of going fast!

We swung through Leadville for some dinner, and then continued onto Buena Vista for a quick grocery store stop and then up Cottonwood Pass where we would car camp and get an early start on our Mount Yale hike

My new Fozzy makes an excellent tent! I am just barely too tall to comfortably lay straight out, but I slept pretty damn well considering! Oh, and I learned how to set off my own car alarm… whoops

5:30am came quickly and we got dressed in the chilly morning air and ate a quick snack before setting out.  Once again the forecast had called for iffy weather, so we hit the trail at exactly 6am in hopes of beating any bad storms.  First thing we noticed was how damn steep the trail is… Mount Yale is no joke in the case of steepness!

Steepness can be overlooked with scenes like this!
No really, this is so awful looking. Never hike a 14er in Colorado!

Getting ready to scramble

We took our time summiting, stopping for snacks and to rest.  Finally we reached the top, and it was so freaking amazing!  The weather was great, with barely any wind and mild temperatures (for being at 14,200 feet!)

Summit-hiking boot shot
A guy loaned us his cardboard sign, so had to take the opportunity to look like a typical Coloradoan!
I’m on a mountain selfie!
PB&J at 14,200

After enjoying a quick lunch on the summit we headed down.  Going down is what I dreaded the most as it’s so hard on the knees (and whole body as I would learn).  We found it easier at times to run, though it was difficult in big clunky hiking boots.  I see the appeal in trail running a 14er now for sure!  The last few miles were tough, and Lydia and I were total chatter boxes on the climb up and nearly silent the last few miles!  I limped behind, totally not enjoying myself, but as soon as I saw my car I felt so accomplished!

I’ve done two 14ers, Mount Evans and Pikes Peak, via road bike and found that to be easier in a sense than hiking them.  Plus the elevation didn’t bother me (backed by heart rate and power data) until about the 13,000 foot mark.  Hiking was a different story… my fingers and hands swelled considerably and I had a headache on the summit and it remained until I was below tree line.  I think hiking must use more muscles and oxygen demand was higher?  And my dumbass purposely did not bring my trekking poles… I should’ve!

Total trip was 9.7 miles with 4,326 feet of elevation gain!  Max elevation of course was the summit at 14,200 feet.  Starting point was about 9,925 feet according to my Garmin.  Not too shabby!  Total time with stops was 7 hours 15 minutes, with a moving time of 4 hours 3 minutes.

I’ve already started planning future hiking trips even though I’m still oh so sore!  Best way to prevent soreness is to do a lot of it, right?!  😀

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It’s not just about the bike.

Scrambling my way to the top of Mount Yale

Cycling has done incredible things for my life… from fitness and health to crazy adventures and places I never would’ve been, it’s been a great ride the last 5 years.  However, due to a character flaw of mine where I have to take something, and then take it to the extreme, in a way I lost myself over the last 5 years.  Riding a bike that was originally purchased to get me outside and exploring turned into racing full race schedules of both mountain bike and cyclocross, with a decent spring road season thrown in.  Goal was cat 1 license… then pro license… then a UCI points chase to become World Cup eligible.  I struggled to juggle life, the bike, goals, and missing out.  Missing out.  Missing out on fun rides because they wouldn’t be the “right” type of training, missing out on funner races because another race was somehow a better puzzle piece to the wannabe pro racer life, missing out on other adventures for fear of injury/taking time away from the bike, missing out on just hanging out.  Dealing with guilt.  Guilt when I didn’t ride, when I didn’t ride how I was suppose to ride, when I didn’t want to drag myself to another race.

Then 2017 came.  I didn’t train like I usually do, but was still reaching FTP goals.  Then I got sick for well over a month in the spring which knocked me on my ass.  Nonetheless, I had a crazy successful road season in my first go as a cat 3.  But I wasn’t happy.  I had to sit down and revaluate what I wanted from a bicycle.  I realized I liked the IDEA of racing a World Cup more than actually putting in the money time, effort to try to actually do so.  I liked the IDEA of racing constantly but when it came down to it, the travel, time, money was tiresome.  I was sick of putting guilt on myself when I didn’t ride.  I hated feeling like I was expected, though not sure by who, to show up at certain races or perform a certain way.  So I stopped.  My mountain bike race calendar got chopped to fewer and fewer races.  Sometimes I rode like shit (Gunnison Half Growler), sometimes there was the flicker of a well trained pro license holder (Erock Sunrise to Sunset).  I decided to not show up to a Laramie Mountain Bike Series race unless I truly wanted to (4 races into the 6 race series and I haven’t been to a single one).  I wasn’t racing any road hill climbs, even though I am a current national champion in that discipline.  I decided if my heart wasn’t into it, I wouldn’t do it.  If I decided I wanted to run a 5k instead of riding on a weekend, I would.  I would take chances, experience new things.

I remember reading a blog years and years ago when I first started riding by an up and coming U23 pro mountain biker, and how she described just walking away from pro cycling after Sea Otter one year and I remember being so confused and couldn’t understand why anyone would do that.  I judged her pretty hard honestly, mostly because at that time I would’ve given anything to be racing at world championship events and living the pro life.  But I get it now, though I was nowhere near her level.

It’s not just about the bike.  I am more than a bicycle.

I can’t say whether this is a permanent change or just a relief from the past several years of heavy racing and training schedules.  But I’m liking it, and doing some new things!  I’ve actually gone for a run at 6:15am.  I’ve climbed a 14er on foot after setting that goal 5 years ago.  I’ve gone on some long mountain biking adventures and petted llamas and ignored Strava.  I’ve camped in Mr. Fozzy for other reasons than a bike race.  I’ve mowed my lawn and watered it faithfully instead of letting it burn up because I needed to be riding a bike instead of moving a sprinkler around every 30 minutes.  I’ve lived a more normal life where riding a bike is a part of it, NOT my entire life.

I’m looking forward to a healthier balance on racing, with a bit of Steamboat Stinger thrown in as a duo and hopefully actually enjoying Dakota 5-O this year versus just going through the motions.  Naturally, I am tentatively planning on a full cyclocross season because cross is cross and cross is awesome, but really I am not committing to anything at this point.  I actually am considering a trail running race even!

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2017 Preview

2017 race season is upon me… dang, that snuck up fast!!

It’s time to announce the wonderful partners I have for my 2017 season!

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First up, my team for 2017, 9seventy Racing!  We are a multisport team based out of Fort Collins, CO.  I joined in September 2016 and instantly loved the small, close knit feel of this team.

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This winter fat biking was made that much more awesome thanks to my lightweight, carbon Dirt Components Thumper wheels!

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So honored and excited to be a Tailwind Trailblazer for the second year!  I just wrote a blog post about my experience with Tailwind Nutrition and how it has helped fuel me for all my cycling adventures.

 

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Back again for 2017 is ESI Grips, the best handlebar grips ever!

 

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I was selected to a be 2017 Pearl Izumi Ambador, which is all about taking the ass out of ambassador and spreading the love for all things bike related, looking great while doing it!  Pearl Izumi’s gear was some of the first items I got way back when I started riding, and I’m happy to be able to now represent them!

So what does 2017 have in store for me?

Off the bat this weekend is the Frostbite Time Trial, the annual foray into pain caving!  I purchased a new-to-me time trial bike over the winter, and look forward to killing my legs over the course of 30 minutes (and getting to wear my “alien helmet”!).

I’ve had about 15 different plans for my 2017 race season, depending on mood and how my training was going.  There hasn’t been a whole lot of training going on compared to previous years, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, either.  Due to our unseasonable weather I have been able to get in some good outdoor rides, including two runs up Rist Canyon where I’ve taken over 8 minutes off my personal best on the climb!

So far the plan that is sticking is to focus on longer, marathon mountain bike races.  Gunnison Half Growler, Laramie Enduro, and Dakota Five-O are on tap, and will be supplemented with Battle the Bear, Casper Mountain Challenge (8 hour version), Steamboat Stinger (duo), and possibly Ridgeline Rampage.  I will do a handful of road events, including the CSU Cobb Lake Road Race and Boulder Roubaix.  It’s taking shape!

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Understanding in a bike crash… 7 months later.

I feel like there’s very little discussion of concussions in cycling, especially on the XC mountain bike side.  It’s almost alarming how many people talk about “Oh, I whacked my head” so casually.  So I thought I needed to share my thoughts and experience.

I’m now over 7 months out from the fateful day of June 18, 2016.  The day of the Dad Dog Road Race, a race I really really really wanted to win in my hometown, and had an excellent chance of winning until an inexperienced male racer swerved for a flat, dead crow in the middle of the road while the peloton was traveling 30mph.  I talked about my immediate post-crash assessment in this blog post.

What my blog posts reflect through the summer is a determined cyclist riding and racing on, climbing on a road bike less than 24 hours later while STILL ON CRUTCHES, and racing her mountain bike three days later.  What I was going through was a different story.

I worked as an RN in orthopedics and neurology/neurosurgery for over 3 years.  I have just enough knowledge and experience to be dangerous.  I should’ve known to be smarter in my recovery, but in all honesty we don’t get too many concussion only injuries on the unit.  After all, I just had a concussion.  Just a concussion.

First began the sleep difficulties.  I was working night shift at the time, but years of doing it left my body accustomed to sleeping at weird times, and I had been off of all sleep aids (melatonin and prescription Ambien) for months.  The night after the crash I could not sleep.  I closed my eyes and I could feel my head smashing into the ground.  It’s actually a sensation I still feel time to time.  Aside from reliving the unpleasant memory, I just flat out couldn’t sleep.  I was exhausted, yawning, so tired, but sleep would not come to me.  This grew into a problem that plagued me for months, and I had to resort back to sleep medications on most days/nights to get a good amount of sleep.  I am just starting to be able to sleep naturally, and luckily a change to a normal job schedule should help this further.

The crash was on Saturday, and I was scheduled to return to work on Thursday night.  All that week I was in a fog, and there’s a lot of events and conversations and going-ons that I have no recollection of.  Though I have full memory of the crash and most of the immediate post crash activities (highway patrol tending to me, ambulance ride), I don’t remember big parts of the next few weeks afterwards.  I arrived to work on Thursday night, sat in the break room, and had no idea how I got to work and why I was there.  It was frightening.  I received report on my patients, and a day shift nurse confided in my friend and charge nurse, “Is Heidi mad at me?  She didn’t seem to be paying attention during report.”  Nichole informed her I had hit my head and had a concussion.  By 9pm I told Nichole I needed to go home.  The fog was so thick I was in tears trying to figure out how many hours I had been at work to record in our payroll book.  I could not figure out that 7pm to 10pm was 3 hours.  I was counting on my fingers and coming up with all sorts of crazy things.  I would end up missing another night of work.

No one warned me about the cognition changes.  Difficulty thinking, figuring out things like simple math, and making coherent sentences.  But it was alright, because I was back to winning mountain bike races…  My emotions and moods were labile.  I was all over the place.  Irritable.  Grumpy.  Giddy.  Unpredictable.  I ended long relationships.  I bought a new race mountain bike.  Apathy.  Apathy was the scariest.  I didn’t care if I rode bikes again, I didn’t care about washing dishes.  I just didn’t care.

I’ve never been the type to get headaches, and the headaches were excruciating in the period after the concussion, and I still have them occasionally to this day.  It’s not the type that tylenol helps with, it’s more the type that a dark room and bed can only solve.  And time.  Lots of time.

Bright lights.  Loud noises.  Just can’t do them.  I’m starting an office job and I’m terrified of the fluorescent lighting.  I hope they don’t mind me moving in lamps.  Smells that never use to bother me (which dealing with smells is important as a hospital RN), motion… now churn my stomach.  I just got back from my first airplane trip since the crash, and I have never been so sick on a plane in my life during the descent into Orlando, and there was no reason for me to be (no turbulence).

The physical aspects are getting better.  What isn’t is the fear.  I become paralyzed with fear of crashing on a bike.  During Cross of the North’s nighttime open race a young racer went over her bars in front of me and I stopped and starting choking up with tears.  I panicked.  I could once again feel the sensation of my head hitting the ground.  Luckily she recovered okay, and I finished not last in the race.  Later in cyclocross season a few of us were hanging out watching a men’s upper category and there was a crash during the start.  I froze up.  I felt tears in my eyes.  I became incredibly freaked out.    And this is the most awful thing.  I don’t know how to get over it.  I don’t know how to get that head smashing sensation out of my brain.  I finally went on my first group ride a few weekends ago with three guys I fully trust.  You know where I rode?  Off the back and off the pace line so I could see the road in front of me.  I tried riding in a nice pace line, but I couldn’t mentally handle not being able to see the road in front of me, even though I knew these guys would point out any obstacles.  People might say I just need to jump in and do it more, but I don’t know how I’m suppose to accomplish that if I can’t do it with people I trust, let alone with people I don’t.

People don’t talk about these things.  I’ve only found one blog written by Kate Ginsbach, that describes dealing with the aftermath of a concussion.  It was actually a great read for me, knowing that others out there kinda struggled with similar issues.  Looking back I know I should’ve let my brain rest.  I’ve attended a neuro-trauma conference this past fall that taught me all about concussions, and I pretty much did everything wrong.  I shouldn’t have been pushing to race so soon afterwards (but even my parents admit they knew I wouldn’t take being told no, and since the mountain bike racing is unsanctioned there’s no USAC officials to ban me from racing).

What I am thankful for is a really good helmet.  If there’s anything I’ve taken a crash course in, it’s helmet technology!

These are just a summary of my thoughts and experiences since my concussion.  Luckily most of the physical effects are gone, and I just have to work through the mental problems of the fear of crashing again and learning to trust in a road racing situation.

(A follow up to the other injuries:  my left shoulder bicep tendon was split like string cheese.  I finished over 2 months of physical therapy, and regained a decent amount of my range of motion, until I crashed at the state cyclocross fat bike race and reinjured it.  My left calf muscle strain is all good, and the road rash gave me scars that impress no one.)

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Try skate skiing, they said. It’ll be fun and easy, they said.

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Turns out I’m way worse at skate skiing than I could ever imagine.

You see them… gliding so effortlessly across the snow.  Swish swish swish.  So speedy and sexy!  Skate skiing turns out just looks really effortless, and it’s not always speedy, and flailing around probably doesn’t look that sexy.  I picked up some nice skis at a swap this fall, and was super excited for some snowfall so I could conquer my newest sporting adventure, and give me some cross training instead of riding the trainer.

Holy hell.

I can ride/race a bike for 5-6 hours straight.  I cannot make it more than 20 feet up a hill on skate skis without having to stop, totally out of breath.  Everything hurt… ankles burned.  Ankles, what are ankles?!  Don’t need no stinkin’ ankles for riding a bike.  Ow, what are these thigh muscles that are burning under my cycling-defined quads?  Bend my knees?!  Who needs to bend their knees and support body weight?!

ARGHHH.

Skate skiing.  The most humbling thing I’ve decided to undertake maybe ever.

I was on cross country skis as a toddler, and really anything ski related always came naturally to me as a child.  First down on alpine skis and I graduated from beginner lessons to advanced and was bombing black diamond trails with moguls.  I spent most of my winter afternoons racing along my long cross country ski track I had made behind my house in the mountains.  I went from about age 14 through 29 or so without touching my skis, but the handful of times when I went back out on my classic skis it seemingly went well, and though I found new muscles, I had fun.  So this year I decided skate skiing would be something I would add in as good training, another way to enjoy the snow, and a new sport to begin racing in (because I can’t do anything without it being competitive, clearly).

I’ve had several people tell me it takes ten years to master skate skiing.  I now believe them!

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But I’m trying!  Despite a massive hole torn in my inner left foot from a blister (because silly me thought ski boots required massively thick winter wool socks like my winter cycling shoes do), I kept at it.  I took a few lessons over Christmas, which was helpful in learning that, well, I have work to do.  Which best tip ever… take lessons!

I finally conquered a 5 mile skate ski yesterday.  It hurt and I was hobbling by the end due to my bloody blister.  I was happy that I made it up some tough hills (tough enough hills that I would even groan about riding a bike up them), and handled some pretty not-so-good trail conditions.  I did use poles because I wouldn’t have made it up some of those hills without them (but otherwise I’m still suppose to be without poles, whoops).  I still don’t know how people pull off doing 10+ miles in under an hours.  Took me about 1 hour 20 minutes to do five with all my stopping.

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Keep on keepin’ on.

January 14th I’m jumping into a race at Happy Jack.  Because there is no learning like the learning that takes place during a race.  I’m aiming for the 5k distance, though the 10k is tempting since it’ll be “ok” if I go slower (right?).  The winners last year of the 5k did it in something like 25 minutes, and I’m betting on an hour to finish.  Wait for me guys, I swear I’m coming!!  Save some hot chocolate!

Oh boy.  And I thought mountain biking was hard.

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2016 Race Wrap-Up

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Photo by Pax Tolosi

States Raced In: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, South Dakota, & Florida
# of Races: 18 mountain bike, 3 road, 20 cyclocross
# of Wins: 5 (MTB), 4 (CX), 1 (Road)
# of Top 5: 13 (MTB), 2 (road),  14 (CX)
# of Beverage Drinking Devices Won: Yep, I am STILL winning bottles and coffee mugs, after all these years!

  • I spent so much time in 2016 being negative about my race season that I missed seeing how great it was actually going.  Perhaps this was a blessing, as finishes like the Tatanka 50k came as an amazingly happy surprise, and I had no expectations going into Hill Climb Nationals.  But I even got sick of hearing myself bitch about how “terrible” of a season I was having.  I don’t know why I let the Florida Cup deliver such a devastating blow to my cycling confidence so early in the season.  I totally lost perspective on the whole thing.

2016 Hill Climb National Champion – Masters Women 30-39
2016 Laramie Mountain Bike Series Overall Winner – Open Women
2016 Colorado Cross Cup – 2nd Place – Singlespeed Women
2016 Rocky Mountain Regional Cyclocross Champion – Singlespeed Women

  • Those highlights above show why 2016 was an amazing year, even if I wasn’t training like I was in 2015.
  • If anything, 2016 was the year of overcoming obstacles.  I decided to take responsibility for my own training.  Sure, that led to me not riding as much as 2015 and spending a lot of time being utterly lazy, but I did spend a lot more time on the mountain bike and the proof was in more confident descending and ever improving technical skills.  Going into the meat of my mountain bike season two days post-concussion with a strained calf muscle and a tendon split in my shoulder was not how I planned things on going, but I fought through it (even though I will NEVER advocate racing with a concussion.  I didn’t make the best decisions in that time period – one of them being getting on a mountain bike in a race two days later).  I guess in a way I don’t know when to quit!
  • I still can’t describe what winning the Hill Climb National Championships on Pikes Peak means to me.  I still get teary eyed thinking about it.  It’s like everything was coming full circle.  I won’t lie, I thought about never racing after that day ever again because it seemed like such a good capstone on this cycling craziness.
  • On the lighter side, beer hands, even at 10:30am, are amazing!  So was the Bacon Station during Dakota 5-O.  I’m pretty sure that was the only reason that kept me going in that race!

So 2017… well, I’m already registered for the Gunnison Half Growler, as I just find that race so darn amazing!  Other than that I haven’t really thought about what I will or will not race.  I have thrown around the idea of tackling the Double Triple Bypass, which is some 240 miles and 20,000+ feet of climbing over two days in the mountains of Colorado.  Tour de Wyoming starts and ends in Cheyenne, and that’s tempting (and a damn cheap way to do a bike tour!).  As you can see, it might be a lot less of competitive events, and more experiences.  I’m so exhausted from my most intensive cyclocross season yet that I haven’t started a formal training plan or done a new FTP test.  I think I need a bit of downtime to refocus and recover.  2017 is also the Year of Iceland, so a lot of focus and money is going towards that amazing trip!

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Switching it up

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When I posted up that I had randomly registered for a 5k on Facebook several people asked me if I was ill.

Good thing I wasn’t really kidnapped, or ill, or running against my will because no one came to save me!

I don’t know, maybe I’m just flat burnt out on cycling.  So my mind has been wandering to other things I could do, and I’ve been spending a lot of time being lazy.  In August I randomly decided to go swimming for the first time in three years, and surprised myself by swimming 1000 meters, which was way above and beyond what I had ever done before.  I had to rest a lot, and I was out of breath, but it felt fun to do something a bit different, especially since it is considerably easy to do after work.  Unfortunately I have been dealing with pretty severe shoulder pain since my road race crash in June, so I only gave swimming a go twice before I decided to seek out medical advice on my shoulder.

So the natural progression was to randomly start running, which is another thing I have not done since 2013.  OK, not very smart to go couch-to-5k in a span of an instant, but hey, that’s my style!  Randomly registered for Cheyenne’s Freedom 5k on a Friday afternoon, and found myself pinning a race number on by 8am Saturday morning.  Luckily my friend Gretchen was also running, so I had someone to hang out with (and her two adorable Italian Greyhounds).

Starting off near the front I looked down in the first quarter mile and saw a 7:30 pace on my Garmin and freaked out.  My previous 5k times (as an adult) were 33:50 and 35:49, so I knew a 7:30 pace was not sustainable in any sense, especially since I DO NOT RUN.  I really wanted to break a 30 minute 5k, so I tried to settle in the 9:45-9:50 pace range.  Oh boy, did it hurt.  My legs, conditioned by 3 years of strictly cycling, were very confused on what to do.  I actually asked a bystander with a bike at one point if I could borrow it, they told me it would be cheating.  Ha!

Coming down the final block was amazing, but my competitive edge took over and I looked behind me and then started sprinting so no one else would pass me.  Considering I spent the entire race going backwards through the field, I really wanted to finish “strong,” whatever that would be.  I’m sure I look like a dying giraffe while trying to run regardless!  I cross the finish at 28:45.  Instantly my legs locked up; not cramping really, just didn’t want to move.  I stumbled over to see that I finished 86th overall (out of 186), and found Gretchen and collapsed onto the ground.  I was super happy to have taken 5 minutes off my 5k PR with absolutely no running training, but HOLY HELL IT HURT.  Seriously, sign me up for a 50 mile mountain bike race or a jaunt up Pikes Peak on a road bike any day over a 5k!

Later in the day and the next day were absolutely miserable as every single muscle that isn’t used in a pedaling motion rioted against what had happened to them.  From my ankles to my butt I winced in pain as I attempted to hobble around.  My friend Nichole remarked on my “8 months pregnant waddle” I had going on at work that night!  Five days out and I’m just left with very tight and occasionally crampy hamstrings.  Which makes me wonder…

What could running be like if I, you know, trained?

Hmmm…

Cross training is good.  Like I mentioned earlier, aside from a triathlon and a handful of days running in 2013 and XC skiing once this past winter, I have done nothing but pedal a bicycle for years.  Across different disciplines, but still a bicycle.  I’ve had the highest highs and lowest lows on a bicycle, but unfortunately this year have struggled with motivation and coming out of a serious crash.  I’ve really started to re-evaluate what I want out of competitive cycling, at least over the course of the next year as I analyze if I could return to structure training with commitment and motivation to follow through.  So maybe switching up stuff could go good.  As I slip further into laziness and sedentary habits, I know anything that gets me up and moving will be a good idea and preserve fitness as well.

So I’ll see where this leads!