So much to do I that don't know where to start

...so I do nothing.  Ack, I hate that.

In a week from tomorrow the hubby and I fly to Tahoe for our JDRF Ride to Cure event.  I'm really excited and really overwhelmed.  Since we have 2 connecting flights each direction we've decided wisely to not check any bags...unwisely we didn't pack our helmets and shoes with our bikes (since DH was initially thinking we'd ship a box to Tahoe and ship it back--and then changed his mind, like woman!).  So several days of cool weather clothing, 2 cycling kits, helmet and shoes, and toiletries and things need to fit in carry-on.  D'oh!  Flying, meh.

Before we can leave there's also laundry and packing and major cleaning of the house and getting clothing and school things and lunches ready for the rugrat.

We fly out just days after DS starts school.  His grandma will be staying with him and our cats while we're gone.  We return LATE Monday night, then DS goes to overnight camp with his class the morning after we get back, so we won't really see him for almost a week!

Speaking of weeks, it's been just over a week since my friend Heather badly broke her wrist.  She had surgery 3 days ago and the first full day home was ROUGH for her.  She misread her pain meds prescription and was taking half the necessary dose...when her nerve block wore off she was in hellish pain and had horrific swelling.  I'm going to visit her tonight and bring her some fancy IPAs to soothe her sorrows.

We have some mountain bike and gravel road plans for the holiday weekend, since our road bikes are somewhere between MI and Tahoe.  Yesterday I rode at the Boy Scouts land near us for the 3rd time.  Each time it seems a little less scary, though there is one extra challenging loop that I have yet to try.  Maybe when I have my new bike I'll attempt it, but it could be a while.

The ETA on my new ride looks like it won't be until Oct. or Nov. (Salsa officially updated their site with the 2013 models just yesterday, so at least I have something to ogle in the meantime).  For a while I had toyed with the idea of maybe even buying an entry into The Iceman Cometh 29 mile mountain bike race.  A friend with a bum knee is planning to sell hers, but I don't think I'd be comfortable covering that distance on my current too-small bike and even if I did have the new bike by then, I'd not really get to do adequate training prior to the race.

Yesterday I briefly considered pulling the trigger on the 2012 model, since I could probably have it in a week and for a bit less cash, but the more I think about it, the more I think I'll be happier with the Shimano triple on the 2013 than with the 2012's SRAM double (and this is coming from the woman who swears by SRAM doubles on her road and CX bikes). I don't like the SRAM triggers, but I'm not certain that I'm sold on the grip/twist shifters available for SRAM, either. I rode a friend's Shimano 29er around a parking lot today...it has the exact same shifters that the 2013 El Mariachi 3 has. I really liked them. Shifting onto larger rings in the front took a lot less force with the Shimano than with the SRAM on my current bike. And...the red and white is just plain hotter than the green and black, so it's added value!



Mountain biking carries with it certain risks.  This can be said about most things worth doing.  During my "running days" (ie back when I was running more than 10-12 miles in a typical week...when 10-12 miles was about the shortest distance long run I'd typically be logging) I dealt with a few overuse type injuries...tweaky hip-flexor, cranky knee, shin splits, peroneal tendonitis, and 1 acute grade 2 sprained ankle.

Assuming a well-fit bicycle and proper gear selection (gear meaning saddle, shorts, shoes, and actual toothed rings) I have found that the chronic overuse sort of injuries aren't nearly as common in cycling.  Generally the cycling injuries I've been aware of fall under the acute injury umbrella -- from falls.

Yesterday my friend Heather (one of my many friends named Heather who ride) joined us for an hour or so of mountain biking.  She is even more of a noob at the sport than I am, but really seems to be taking to it well, especially considering that she doesn't have any road cycling history, so just plain handling a bike and having that sort of fitness is new to her.

We were starting with an easy loop of a nearby trail system (during the Summer months it's a Boy Scout camp.  In the Spring and Fall hikers and mountain bikers are given paid access to the trails).  One thing that makes the Owasippe trails particularly challenging is some pretty heavy patches of sand.  Even the most skilled riders can struggle with the stuff, for certain.  It definitely still freaks me out.

At the bottom of a smallish hill there is a veritable sandbox.  Heather came flying down the hill, hit the sand, endo'd, and landed on her wrist (I've had it drilled into my head to keep my hands on the handlebars and not try to catch myself.  Even at stops on my road bike when I've been unable to unclip I keep a firm hold on my bike...I don't think I've ever even tried to catch myself.  I guess my hubby's lessons have not fallen on deaf ears).  I didn't actually see her fall, as I was ahead a bit and waiting at the top of a small rise.

Shortly after she landed she hollers "I broke my wrist!"  Because I'm apparently a bad friend and Heather is a jokester my response was "you're kidding!?!"   Unfortunately, she wasn't.

Not really sure what I'm looking at, here...
Luckily we weren't at all far from the parking lot, so her fiancé rode back to the car to bring it back to where an access road crossed the trail.  He got Heather to a med center, she then went to the ER for X-ray and it was determined that her injury included 2 broken wrist bones and that sort of bump on the outside of her wrist was pretty shattered, so the poor girl (tragically she is uninsured, even though she works 2 part-time jobs...a rant I could spend pages dealing with.  No one should have to choose between risking injury engaging in a healthy activity or allowing their body to slowly destroy itself by remaining "safely" on the sofa.  This injury is very well going to cost her thousands of dollars...ugh!) is going to need orthopedic surgery.  Today she went to meet with the orthopedic surgeon.  I haven't heard anything, so I'm guessing she may be in surgery right this moment.  Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for my dear friend.

The bright side of the day (if there is one to be found, since Heather and I had been hoping to ride together a lot more in the coming months.  I know these wrist injuries can take a really long time to heal properly, which may take her out of riding until next Spring.  Maybe it's just as well that we can't ride together for a while...the two of us together in the woods seems recipe for disaster.  She was with me 2 years ago when I badly sprained my ankle during a trail relay.  Maybe it's too much klutziness to have in the woods at one time!) is that I rode trails that terrified me in May...they were still a little scary, yesterday, but I can see that even with the minimal off-road mileage I've logged over the Summer that I've made progress in my bike handling and confidence.  I really can't wait to see what I can accomplish on my new, better fitting bike (which I think will be here sometime next month, from what I've been reading).  I'm looking to a lot more mountain biking in the coming year and trying my legs at some more races next year, including the Iceman Cometh race up north.  I've even thought that if I have my bike in time I might see if I can buy an entry from someone unable to use theirs, since it's already full for 2012.


Hanging on for dear life!

We've officially (at least I have) entered that phase of Summer that seems to move at lightning speed.  June and July always seem to drag.  By the end of July we're desperate for school to start back up.  Then August hits and the sh!t hits the fan!

Saturday was my first ever mountain bike race.  The day before the race a friend asked if I wanted to go in on the 6 hour relay with him.  I thought, sure, what the hell!  It was fun, but I really have no business on a mountain bike, heh.  My teammate, JD, was a 68 year old guy who has been involved with the JDRF cycling team in the past.

I started off...dead last with the solo riders just waiting to inhale me like some chubby bug.  First lap was a disaster.  I had a couple of falls, including one big one as I crested a short/steep rise and caught my pedal on a high root.  This sent me shooting backwards...landed on my back and slid a ways, getting my bike tangled in a small tree (sorry, tree, that probably hurt you more than it hurt me).  I ended up with ground-in streaks of dirt that won't come out of my jersey for anything.  Looks like that jersey will be ideal to reserve for CX races this Fall.

I finished with some scrapes and bruises, but still mostly in one piece.  It was a kinda tough course with lots of LONG uphill climbs.  Not generally really steep, but my bike is lower-end with heavy wheels and the course had a fair amount of wet grass and mud that slowed me down even more.  I definitely got in a good workout, but the course got easier as the day wore on and the grass got tamped-down.

JD took leg 2, rode his 4 mile lap, then tagged me for leg 3.  Leg 3 went much better than leg 1, as I managed to stay upright the entire way, though I still had to pull off the single-track sections frequently to allow faster riders to pass.  I also had a couple spots of steep, loose stuff immediately following tight turns.  I never did manage to keep enough momentum to scale these without getting off the bike and running up.  That's fine, it's good training for cyclocross season.

JD had decided he was done after a single lap, but friends talked him into continuing.  He took lap 4 and ended up limping in with a broken chain (technically didn't finish, since he cut down a hill, rather than walking his bike the entire course) and decided he was officially done.

I rode 2 more laps with maybe a 45 minute break in-between.  I really hemmed-and-hawed about doing that 4th lap, but decided it was good practice.  I never really was out there racing, just getting more needed experience on a mtn. bike.  Our friendly local cycling photog., Jack, still managed to snap some decent (albeit comical...on my too-small-for-me bike) shots:
• lap 2?
• lap 2 or 3...yep, I got a gut
• lap 3? - serious oxygen deficiency after scaling massive, evil hill, then turning and going back down on the sandy side slope
• starting my last lap (I think), still grinning like a fool on my clown bike

DH and 3 other friends did the full 12 hour relay and WON their divison (35+ year old mixed team).  Next year I'd like to do either 2 or 4 person 6 hour race.  I'm thinking it will be a couple of years before I feel up to doing 12 hours--since the last few hours are in the dark with nothing lighting the trail but headlamps and bike lights.  Plus it's really late to have DS out.  When he's 13 staying out until after midnight won't be such a big deal.

The following day was a 60 mile JDRF training ride.  Oh, I was in some hurt for the first 20 miles or so of that ride, but felt pretty strong by the end.  It was a last good longish ride before my One Day Ride Across Michigan, which is just days away, now.  Today has been really busy with answering questions and getting the official ride maps online for other riders and their crews.  I was able to wear my new ODRAM jersey for the Saturday team ride, which was nice.  It's very comfy.

Speaking of gear, I need to update the status of that saddle I tested a few weeks ago.  It was good for a short ride, but on a longer ride I found it to not be as comfortable.  It has a couple of ridges that run down the length of the saddle and by the end of a 30 miler I was REALLY feeling those ridges digging into my butt sort of midway between my sit-bones and my butt crack.  I think it could be a good saddle for mountain biking or cyclocross, though, since my hinder isn't actually on the saddle nearly as much.  The suspension built into the saddle would be really great on rough singletrack and roots.  I'll be interested to see if Ergon does eventually come out with a road-specific version of the saddle and how it might differ.  With a few changes to the design it would be perfect.

In other gear news...yesterday we got a letter from Sallie Mae informing us that the final payment on my student loans is about to be a thing of the past.  Wow.  I joked to DH that with that extra money laying around we should pull the trigger on that Salsa El Mariachi mountain bike that I've had my eye on.  That's when he informed me that he'd already put in an order -- squee!!!  I guess in the last week or so he was down at our preferred bike shop and was able to get the order in with the big order the shop is putting in for demo/floor bikes.  Not sure when it will arrive, but I'm guessing sometime in the next month.  I'm pretty excited!  I can't wait to see how much more comfortable and stable I'll feel on a bike that doesn't have me so upright.  It's going to be interesting to see how the 29" wheels feel vs. the 26ers I've been rolling on, thus far.  I'm sure the handling will be different enough that I'm going to have to sort of re-learn a few things.  Now we need to see if we can get some lighter wheels for my existing bike so that DS has a shot at keeping up with us on the trails!

Just a few more weeks until we head to Tahoe for our big JDRF ride.  We have only one more training ride the weekend after ODRAM, when we'll leave our bikes with our head coach and they will then make the trek out to Tahoe.  I need to get cracking on my fundraising.  I am still >$2300 away from my goal of $4k.  If you can help me get there, I'd greatly appreciate it!