Dreams - everyone has them, I know I do! Some are impossible, some attainable, some I don't even consider, just make excuses and create my own obstacles. It's what other people do, achieving their dreams. Not me.
The Reve Tour was one such dream. Seemed impossible. I followed the Super Six obsessively, reading daily Twitter posts and Heidi's updates on Peloton. Talked about it to friends during rides. Commented with other people following along on Twitter using the hashtag #revetour, and I continue corresponding with some of them even 2 months later. Now, our conversations have evolved to other things - cyclocross, epic mountain bike rides, travel. But I won't forget that it was the Reve Tour that connected us in the first place.
Dreams don't die once they are achieved. I believe they have lasting effects on people. I'm inspired by others who do what I cannot ever imagine attempting to do myself. I think it's only fair that I should give credit where it's due.
It's been a tough year for me, but I realize that compared to others and their challenges, it's not a big deal. Still, I have struggled with motivation and a frustrating injury. Resorted to chocolate and gelato as my mood enhancers when it should have been resistance workouts and challenging rides. My gym membership went unutilized. (is that a word? I think so.) Dealt with family stress, financial challenges, job issues.
After July, I began running out of excuses. Sure, time is short, and the years are piling up, but I can't let age be a factor. People way older than me do amazing things like run marathons and complete triathlons. Why don't I do these things? One major factor: my mind creates resistance. You can't do that. You don't have the time, the energy, the strength, the toughness, the courage, the confidence.
So, my challenges and goals are different - smaller, more realistic. Forcing myself to go out on a solo ride when I have a chest cold. It's all relative. Sure, it's not riding the Tourmalet with bronchitis, but it's all I've got today. Determination and desire to improve my health. I'm not a competitor. My competition is with the inner doubters, the voices that question my sanity, that tell me lying on the couch with a cat on my lap is easier, more comfortable, safer, better.
No. I want more. Because of Heidi, Jennifer, Kate, Kristen, Kym, and Maria - the minimum is no longer good enough. And they should know that what they've accomplished will have a lasting effect on people's lives.
I tell people who aren't cycling-obsessed like I am about the Reve Tour. They seem impressed, but I don't think they really get it. I don't think they appreciate how monumentally difficult the men's race is, let alone what six non-professional athletic women attempted and finished, despite challenges ranging from crashes to mechanical issues to illness. Deprived of sleep and proper nutrition, but fueled by sponsors and supporters, they did it. They navigated their way across France, finding a way to open that suitcase of courage every day in order to get the job done. This fact continues to amaze me, and yet makes anything I do on a daily basis seem small and insignificant. But it's not fair to compare, it accomplishes nothing - it's all relative. Our own personal struggles are just that - our own. What the Reve Tour has done is to make me aware of what mine consist of, and become willing to stand up to them and challenge them. Defy them. I may not do amazing things, achieve impossible insurmountable goals. But I realize there are some people who will never even ride a bike - at all, ever.
Thank you, Super Six Pack.
I think blogs are great - I read lots of them all the time, though none as regularly as I used to. Now I get my news on Twitter, and have lists for pro cycling and follow people whose interests are compatible with mine. I follow news outlets, publications like Velonews, Peloton, and others, as well as a ton of pro cyclists and people who follow pro cycling. I follow local cycling people, frame builders, ride organizers, all kinds of people who are involved with cycling in one form or another.
The funny thing is, my sister (probably my entire family) thinks I'm obsessed with cycling, and they say it like it's a bad thing. It's like being called a bitch in a good way, as in "wow, you're an assertive/gutsy bitch"! So, call a spade a spade, yeah cycling is obsessive. People who ride get it. They know how you're never done buying things - this sport isn't just a "sport", it's a lifestyle. Even though I drive a car far more than I ride a bike for transportation, most of my friends I know through cycling. Just about everything relates to cycling in some way and cycling relates to life. It's simple. If people don't get it, well, that's okay. Just don't criticize me for it, because I'm not alone.
I don't just watch the Tour de France, I watch bike racing any time it's on TV or online. I'm not a blogger or journalist, it's just the sport I most enjoy following. Some people like baseball or football, and so do I, but I don't follow it like I follow cycling. I don't need to justify it, I just do it.
This year has been really interesting. Some of my favorites were injured early in the season (Fabian Cancellara) and was left out of the Spring classics following the Tour of Flanders. This year's Tour will be different and possibly some contenders will be surprises, not just the expected repeat by Cadel Evans (though I'm totally on the Cadel train), or the win by on-form Brit Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky. Then Andy Schleck was literally blown away (off his bike) during the time trial in the Dauphine' and ended up with a fractured pelvis. Talk about bad timing. Prior to that announcement, we here in Oregon were frustrated by our local favorite Chris Horner being left off the Radio Shack Nissan Trek Tour team. But once Andy Schleck announced he couldn't race in the Tour, we found out Horner was indeed on the list.
But some of my favorites aren't going this year, because it's an Olympic year, or some other reason they were left off their team rosters: Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd, Ted King. There are enough to make it interesting, especially in the sprints - Cavendish, Greipel, Sagan, Farrar. So, I'm excited to watch. I need to get familiar with the stages.
One thing that won't be televised is the Reve Tour. Six amazing athletic women are going to attempt (and hopefully succeed) riding the entire TDF route one day before the men. They are just regular cyclists, one pro triathlete, one fitness instructor, one dental hygenist, one journalist, one bike shop owner, and one who works for the cycling nonprofit that will benefit from the Reve Tour, Bikes Belong. I've been following their journey, watching the interviews, reading the articles written by Swift. Imagining what it must be like to have that big of a challenge ahead, that many logistical, nutritional, physical and mental challenges ahead. But it'll be amazing.
I have just about forgotten I have this thing, and seriously doubt that anyone reads it. Each year I speculate about the upcoming Tour de France, swoon over my favorite cycling hotties, and lament over my own lack or riding or tell tales of recent rides.
It's not that there aren't stories to tell, there absolutely are. I could start with my recent trip to Italy. I was fortunate enough to ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in Tuscany and Umbria. But was it epic? I'm not really sure - I think I'd have to do it again to really determine if it was. Seven days isn't enough riding for me in a place such as Italy.
As always, I need to ride more. During the week I'm lucky to get one ride in which is usually indoors, but it's a good workout that translates directly into riding more efficiently (and racing, if I chose to do that). On weekends, I'm out riding. I've only ridden once solo in the past 2 months, so I'm anxious to do that again soon.
The Tour will be exciting this year. I don't really have any predictions yet but will be watching all of my favorites - the Schlecks, Horner, Levi, Cadel, and all the sprinters. I'm not sure if Tyler Farrar will go. Jonathan Vauaghters had the team narrowed down to 11 but wouldn't say who they were or which 9 will be chosen. The Radio Shack team has already been announced. It should be a great Tour.
August or September? 2200 people or 250? Oregon or Idaho?
After doing Cycle Oregon 2 years in a row, I'm used to the training, the routine, the waiting in line. Frustrated by still not quite dialing it in so that I actually have time to relax. Without forking out another $300 for tent & porter for the privilege of sleeping right up against another tent (or 2, or 6), my experience for the most part hss been similar each day, depending on the length of the route. Arrive in camp, search for camping buddies, find bag, lug bag to camping spot. Find $5 to go get a smoothie to enjoy while setting up tent. Set up tent, find clothes, go find shower trucks, shower. Return to camp, usually right about the time people are already lining up for dinner. Eat, then it's close to getting dark. Sleep. Wake up in the dark, begin packing.
I don't know. I've never been to Idaho, closest I've been to setting foot in the state was Spokane, and that was only the airport. I don't like the jerseys, the Cycle Oregon "going coastal" is much better. But - the gang from last year is doing RI vs. CO, not that I can keep up with them while riding, but they were fun to camp with, even on my most cranky day(s).
Actually rode my bike outdoors yesterday, for the first time since New Year's Day. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Even riding in a group, with frequent stops, my breathless struggling to keep up, and people chattering either behind, in front, or beside me, it was still fun.
I have not even been outside in a while, I remember thinking yesterday as we rode north on Cornelius Shefflin towards our right turn on Wren. I've been spending time inside my house, inside my car, inside my office. But not outside, except to walk to the car, between buildings, or a quick walk to grab some lunch. Outside is where the wind is, carrying smells of fireplaces, burning piles of trash, livestock, some pleasant, some not. But - fresh air! How I have missed it.
And the 2011 racing season has already begun. I have been remiss in recording my all-too-infrequent observations of the latest doping news, the new kit designs, reports of early wins, training camps, and predictions for Paris-Nice, the Giro, and the Tour. But at least I have prepared with my annual ritual of printing my color map of this year's Tour and comparing it with last year's, hanging it up on the wall of my office, and dreaming of July. Please note that I love, LOVE, the new Garmin-Cervelo kits, and do note that I linked that to a page showing Tyler Farrar, one of my favorite sprinters in a victory salute!
So, on to my own plans for 2011. As I sit indoors, staring out at a dry but cloudy Sunday, I'm already dreaming about riding in the sun wearing only short sleeved jerseys and shorts. I was lucky enough to register for Cycle Oregon before it sold out, so I better start training soon. I said last year that I was going to do all different rides this year, yet I've already registered for Tour de Cure and Cycle Oregon, and am planning another ride around Crater Lake in August. In between, though, I hope to do some different rides, because I'll really need to challenge myself to train for Cycle Oregon. Come on, Spring!
It's been a while since I rode outdoors, let alone solo. But on Thanksgiving Day, just about the time most people were sitting down to their enormous feasts, I set out on a spontaneous ride. With no clue of the route I'd take or how long I would ride, I inflated the tires of my trusty Trek, jammed some gel & shot blocks in my pocket, filled the water bottles, and set out into the cold. The sun was out earlier but I quickly discovered that it was much colder than I had anticipated. Clad only in a Sugoi baselayer, long sleeved jersey, vest & knickers, but with 2 pairs of wool socks, I didn't warm up as much as I would have liked. But I figured that would just make me ride harder, make it count. Right?
Thoughts invade my mind as I pedal, across TV Highway and onto River Road. Got the pump, spare tubes. I have my cell phone. Does anyone know where I'm going? No, even I don't know the answer to that. Wow, there's a lot of gravel and stuff in the bike lane, good thing there's not much car traffic. I'm cold. Pedal harder. I'll be fine, because I trust my bike. It's like an old friend, when we get together, I'm reminded of all the good times we've had. I remember my first ride on this bike, a 70 mile LiveStrong challenge, then my first century. Good times. I smile.
What's great about riding solo is that you can go as fast or a slow as you want, without having to wait for anyone else (or have them wait for you). No forced listening to conversations you have no interest in. No worrying about yelling "car back" to people in front of you or having it yelled at the person who continues to ride next to you and talk to you as you wish for solitude.
Solo. That word has come to define part of who I am. On holidays, and sometimes, on bike rides. But it's a good thing. It's okay. I'm okay with it. I do some of my best thinking on these rides.
So I decide to pass the time thinking of what I'm grateful for. Seems like a good tradition on a Thanksgiving ride. First I think of my lungs, as they fill with air and oxygen to fuel my body. Lungs are good. Then, my legs, working like pistons, knees up, light on the pedals. Then I'm grateful for the turkey bacon and pumpkin pancakes I made for breakfast, for a kitchen to cook them in, for the ability to ride and to enjoy this day.
On Burkhalter Road, I stop to eat some gel, as I'm getting hungry and wishing I had eaten a bit more before leaving so late in the day. I look up at the sun filtered through hazy clouds and give it credit for at least trying to shine through them to bring some warmth. I don't want to wait long because I'm still cold. I consider crossing Highway 47 on Simpson Road, riding past the golf course and back through Cornelius and estimate how much time this will take. On a warmer day, maybe starting earlier, or wearing another layer, this would be a no brainer. But on this day, I decide to cut the ride short and continue to Hillsboro on Minter Bridge Road. I know this is the right thing to do.
I stop to talk to some pygmy goats along the road, who are bleating at me through the chainlink fence. They are incredibly cute! I feed them some handfuls of grass until the dogs start barking at the unwelcome intruder, and I continue on. I get to Main Street, which turns into Baseline. I consider making the ride longer, but at this point I can only think about hot chocolate.
Arriving home, I patiently enter the code to open my garage door but it refuses to comply. I consider how miserable it would be to spend hours shivering on my front porch, and contemplate breaking into my house. The thermometer on my porch says about 38 degrees if I read it right. Just as I take a tire lever to pry the screen off a window, I try the code once more and the door opens. Warmth, hot chocolate, a down blanket, a hot bubble bath. Then a delicious meal.
Last week, I came across this on the Bob's Red Mill website after seeing it on Twitter: "Train with Grain: Welcome Aboard the Pain Train". I like the sound of that! Turns out, there is this cool contest where you can win a 'cross bike for racing - AND - they send you a free sample kit! Sign me up! This morning I went to my mailbox and there it was! It was like my birthday, or Christmas! I opened the box, so excited to see what was inside. An armband to wear when I race! And this is no wimpy sample pack - there were regular-sized packages of quinoa, 7-grain pancake & waffle mix, steel cut oats, and whole ground flaxseed meal. Score!
This company does things right. Social media, recipe contests, blogging. And they are a sponsor of the cross crusade. How can you not love them?
If you want some great healthy grains, love to race 'cross and want a chance to win a bike, check out this site: http://www.bobsredmill.com/blog/category/train-with-grain/. Good luck, and enjoy the grain - but the bike is MINE!