Friday, January 4, 2013

Time To Wave Good-bye

As is typical this time of year there are plenty of post in the Blogsphere about saying good-bye to the old year and starting fresh in the New Year.   So I figured it was time to do something I have been contemplating for months but yet hesitant to pull the trigger on.  It is time to say good bye to this blog and this space and move on.

I've been blogging here for almost six years.  It started as a Bike Blog and I worked hard to keep it that way although other aspects of my life have crept in over the years especially as I began to race less.  When I began to pursue single motherhood I started a second blog to chronicle that journey.

One of the biggest challenges has been balancing my life as a mother and as an avid cyclist.  This conflict mainly plays out in my own mind.  I love being a mother and wouldn't trade it for the world.  But I miss the amount of time I use to spend in the woods on my bike.  I miss being an athlete and having an athletic body.  Right now I feel soft and out of shape.

One of the reasons I held onto this blog was to hold onto the illusion that hoping on my bike and winning a race was immanent, instead of something that is possibly years away.

Attempting to maintain two personas both in life and in the blogshere just perpetuates the conflict playing out in my mind.  So I've decided to keep only one blog.  I am a mother and I am cyclist.  I'm also a crafter, once upon a time I kept a craft blog, too.  Rather than attempting to keep all of the parts of my life separate I'm going to attempt to integrate my life and my blog.

One life, one blog.  I'm only moving everything to the other blog because I have been more active over there as of late.  Having one blog will also make it easier to be a blogger.  Have a blog about bikes and having a blog about baby left a lot of holes for all that other stuff in my life that didn't fit on either blog.

I hope you'll make the move with me.  Sure you might have to tolerate posts about sleep schedules and teething.  And my mommy blogger friend will have to tolerate discussions of bike builds and training plans. This blog's archives will remain. You can still come here to see the old posts. As soon as I have some time and a working computer I will try to integrate them better. I have reading lists on both that I want to keep, so it might be sometime before I'm officially done here. But this will be the last new post.

The URL for the new blog is

In the future I won't have to wonder where to post things like this...

My cute baby on a bike! (she's even wearing helmet ear covers that I made)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Delusions Really Can Come True

Remember that one time when I inhaled too many chemicals and had this crazy idea to quit my job, plant a garden, buy a piano and have a baby?

I'll wait while you click over and read all about it...

I don't know if it was a premonition or if when I had the idea I liked it so much that I began to pattern my life in such a way that it would come true.

Fast forward almost three years from that point and the delusion doesn't seem so delusional anymore.

A couple of years ago I bought a piano.  Then I moved into a little house that very closely resembles the house in my daydream.  I haven't been able to plant a garden yet, but I do have the next best thing; a farmer's market a block away and every Saturday morning we walk down to get fresh veggies, eggs, and locally raised meat.

And the baby in a one of those sling things...

She's my world.

I am so in love with my life right now.

We're pretty close having our "dream."  But it's not easy.  And the biggest part of the dream, being freed from my forty hour a week job, hasn't happened.  Even with the full time job we are barely making ends meet.  I stayed home with Annelise as long as I possibly could after she was born, so we went a couple of months without an income.  Childcare isn't cheap, and due to my work schedule I have to pay more than if I worked a traditional Monday through Friday nine to five job.

So while it is unlikely that I will ever be able to quit my job and support us with my crafting as I would have it in my "delusion."  I have never stopped putting it out there as my intention.

Awhile ago a friend sent me a link to a contest at Uncommon Goods.  They were looking for bicycle themed items.  I entered.  I was nervous.  I didn't feel worthy.  I tend to think of myself as a crafter and not an artist.  When I saw all the other entries I felt a little out of my league.  But I thought I would just put it out there and let the Universe run with it.

When the contest was over I got an email stated that I didn't win, but that they really liked my item and would be contacting me about adding it to their store.  So I was shocked when they called the next day and told me that the original winner had declined they had decided to declare me the winner.  I actually cried when she told me.  It was what I needed at the moment.  Just a little bit of hope.

Of course this isn't going to be enough to quit my job and live exclusively off crafting, but it's a step in that direction.  I'm slightly overwhelmed right now.  I feel like a small time crafter that dove in to the deep end and am hoping that I can learn to swim before I drown.  I have so many worries (you do know me the worrier right?).  The biggest is keeping up with demand.  One of the disadvantages to working with recycled material is getting your hands on enough of the material that needs to be recycled.  So a small plee to my cycling friends:  your used cassettes and cogs - please send them my way.  I'm also concerned about creating a second job.  I love crafting.  Right now it doesn't feel like work.  I would like it to stay that way.  I want to continue to enjoy it and I don't want to feel like it is pulling time away from my daughter.  My life seems hectic enough throwing another commitment into the mix makes me a little nervous.  Right now I'm just trying to have a little faith and trust that the Universe brought me this opportunity and to trust that I'll have what it takes to see it through.

If you've never visited Uncommon Goods, click over and check it out.  There are so many cool gift ideas.  They recently did a piece on me on their blog, feel free to read it and soon they will be carrying my Sun Catchers.  I'm really excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to working with them.  Who knows where this could lead, maybe there's still a chance that my entire "delusion" will come true.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Toughest Group Ride Ever

Last Sunday a group of local riders set off on The Star City Vicious Randonnee, nicknamed the Suiride and toted as the "Toughest Group Ride Ever."  There were six different ride options ranging from 12 miles, to the Suiride at 115 miles and over 15,000 feet of climbing.  Rob Issem put the route together, and I think he just took every climb in the Roanoke Valley and linked them together.

Traditionally Randonnees are self supported.  The riders got a list of potential refueling points along the route along with their cue sheet.  There was one section without anywhere to stop and get food or water so Rob asked if I would be willing to man an aid station at that point.  He originally tried to convince me to ride the shorter route and then man the aid station, but I'm in no condition to be doing any sort of riding that requires effort.  I loaded down my van with coolers of water, Gatorade and sodas, and planned to set up on the parkway just past the halfway point.

There were originally over 40 people planning to do the ride, some coming from out of town.  When I woke up Sunday morning to the sound of rain I knew that number would be considerably less.  There were only eight brave souls that showed up to attempt it.

The riders left from East Coaster's Bike shop...

We drove to the top of the first climb to watch them summit.  It was wet, foggy, and a little chilly.  Not quite the forecast we were expecting.  It's a good thing I wasn't riding because I've made this climb in the past and I'm pretty sure my ride would have ended here.

After summitting the first climb the spectators went for breakfast before heading to the Parkway rest stop.  By the time the riders reached this point, two had dropped off, and the rest were divided into two groups.  The two fastest riders were over an hour ahead of the rest of the group.  The second group had some mechanical problems that had set them back.

Annelise doing a great job of manning the aid station and directing the riders to the Gatorade...

The second group lost another rider at the aid station.  So at a little past half way we were down to five riders.  The two leaders and then the group of three.

Although the riders were on road bikes there were some sections that took them through the woods.  Not too much off roading, just enough to make it interesting.

Shortly after we packed up the aid station I got a call that a rider had crashed and needed to be rescued, so I became the SAG wagon also.  He had hit a wet spot on a decent and gone down.  He was scrapped up, his helmet was cracked, but otherwise okay.  We loaded him up and headed back to town.  The other two riders decided to end their ride and rode back to town.  After dropping off the injured rider, Annelise and I headed to the Start/Finish to see if we could catch the only two riders still out there.

Marcos Lazzarotto who came from Blacksburg to do the ride was the first finisher.  He had separated from Bernie Sanders the other finisher not long after the aid station.  Marcos finished in just under 8 hours.  I waited for Bernie for awhile before heading home to let the dogs out (they'd been alone since we had left in the morning) and then meeting Rob, Lisa and their kids for dinner across from the Start/Finish.  Bernie rolled in while we were eating.  So out of 8 starters, only 2 finished.  Rob's ride was cut short due to the injured rider, so he's planning to head back out this Sunday and do it again.  I think a couple of people will be joining him, but this time it will be totally unsupported.

There are plans to make this an annual event.  Details for 2013 can be found here.  Put it on your schedule as a must do.  This is worth the trip if you are from out of town.  It showcases all that the Roanoke area has to offer in the way of road cycling.  Hopefully next year I'll be able to do the ride myself.  I don't know if I'll be up to the entire Suiride, but it gives me something to shoot for.

A local news station sent a reporter to cover parts of the ride and has a nice write up and video here.  I can't figure out how to embed it so you'll actually have to click over to read the news story.  It was nicely done.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Le Tour

"But Mama, I thought you said No TV EVER!"

"I know Baby, but this is the Tour.  It's more like education.  This is our religion.  These are the high holy days, and Phil and Paul are our preachers.  So I'll make an exception."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Baby's First Night Ride

Wednesday night I took Baby girl for her first night ride.

Of course this required some additional illumination.  I lit up the back of the trailer with blinkies.

What warranted a night time ride?

Fireworks, of course.

Baby Girl's first fireworks. Riding in the trailer always seems to put her to sleep, but I made sure to wake her up in time to enjoy them.

In all the years I've lived in Roanoke this was the first time I was able to see the Fireworks on the Fourth of July.  Every other year I've been busy with the ID3 Races.  Since there weren't going to be any races this year I got to take Annelise to see the Fireworks.  We went to a friend's house who lives near the spot where they are set off.  I wasn't looking forward to driving into town, trying to find a place to park and then attempting to get back home with all the traffic, so I decided to bike in.

I was a little nervous about taking out the trailer in the dark.  I'm nervous riding in the daylight.  Cars just aren't looking for you.  So I was even more nervous about riding in the dark because they definitely wouldn't be looking out for us.  I still have lights on the Allant from when I was using it as a commuter.  I borrowed some extra rear flashers, and attempted to make the back end of the trailer as bright as possible.  I mapped out a route that was almost 100% Greenway.  The only time we would be on streets was the couple of blocks from our house to the Greenway, and a few blocks from the Greenway to our friends house.

We ran into one glitch on the way in.  The park I planned to cut through (there's a bike path through it) was closed down to traffic due to a concert.  They wouldn't let me through because the path was behind the stage and no one was allowed back there.  I was a little annoyed.  We had to go around which took us out onto the street.  As soon as I could I got up on the sidewalk.  I hate riding on the sidewalk, and technically it's illegal.  But I'll take a ticket over putting my daughter at risk any day.

We hung around after the Fireworks long enough that most of the crowd had cleared out, so I had less traffic when I had to work my way around the park again.  It was a very peaceful ride back.  It was completely dark and quiet.  There were several parks that I had to ride through, the trees made me feel like I was in the woods.  I could hear the frogs as we got close to the river.  At one point the Greenway was blocked off due to a downed light.  I had to ride off the path for several yards.  Not really a big deal but with the silence, the darkness, and feeling earth beneath my wheels instead of pavement I had flash backs of endurance racing.  For a few minutes I could pretend I was still a mountain biker (if I ignored the fact that I was riding a commuter, wearing flip flops and pulling a trailer with a baby in it).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Checking In

It's been awhile.  I vowed that I would have at least a post a month and seeing as the last post was May 1st and tomorrow is July I guess I better get something up today.

I'm surprised that I still get visitors here.  I know a lot of you have transitioned over to reading my other blog.  Which I guess can be classified as a Mommy Blog (never thought I'd be a Mommy Blogger).  Sometimes I think about shutting this site down, or lumping it in with my other blog.  But I can't bring myself to take that step yet.  I don't want to let go of SurlyGirl and somehow I want to keep that part of me seperate from the "mom" part of me.  I invision coming back to this space someday.  And that it will once again be filled with race reports, bike builds and training plans.  It's hard to believe that my last race was over two years ago.  Whenever it starts to feel like I'll never race again, I remind myself that my next race is closer than my last.  It won't be this summer.  I don't think I'll be able to train at a level I need to race until I'm not Baby Girls main food supply.  She did start on solids this week so hopefully by the time she's a year old I'll be able to train with some sort of intensity.  Of course I'm not going to wean her just so I can race.

Pro Mountain biker Willow Koerber Rockwell had a baby about a month before I did.  I remember reading her blog while I was pregnant.  When I decided to stop riding my mountain bike at seven months I felt okay with that because after all she hadn't ridden past that point and she was a pro.  In the spring when I read that she had returned to the pro-circuit and was attempting to win an Olympic spot, I felt discouraged because I hadn't even gotten back on a bike yet.  I had to keep reminding myself that Willow had trainers, and a coach and a husband and mountain biking was her full time job.  I had no one and a full time job that wasn't mountian biking.  And then she retired from pro racing.  I was sad to see her career end but felt some what validated.  See, having baby, racing bikes, difficult to do together. 

I didn't sell the Niner.  I decided it wasn't worth it.  That doesn't mean I've suddenly found the time to ride it.  I haven't, but hopefully soon I will.  Baby Girl is getting older and able to go without me for longer periods of time.  And I'm slowly getting over my mommy guilt in leaving her.

I did get a refund on my Iceman entry.  So that won't be my comeback race.  I'm disappointed that I won't be racing this year, but also some what relieved as I have not found the time to train or ride.  I do ride the Allant several times a week pulling the trailer with Annelise.  But this week the weather has just been too hot so we've stayed inside.

I am loving being a mom.  And while I wish I could find the time to ride more I wouldn't trade one moment I have with her.  New mom's have a mantra, "It won't always be like this."  Its a mantra we tell each other and mumble in the middle of the night when we're up with a crying baby.  It's meant to remind us that it gets better, but it also reminds me that she's only at this stage for a little while.  It feels like she just got here.  Then I blinked and suddenly she's trying to sit up, eating food, and talking.  I blink again she'll be potty trained and in preschool.  While I don't want to wish away any part of her babyhood, I find myself daydreaming of preschool.  I can already picture myself dropping her off with the bike already loaded up and heading for the trails while she's in class.  Sometimes that feels like a very long ways off.  But then it feels like just yesterday that I inhaled some fumes that gave me the crazy idea to have a baby, and that was two and a half years ago.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Unfulfilled Promises

Back in 2006 during my first race season someone told me that a Surly wasn't a serious race bike, and since I wanted to be a serious racer I decided I needed a serious race bike. It took me a couple of years to save the money to order the Niner frame, and then another year after that before I got it built up.

The timing seemed right. It was the summer of 2009. I had just finished Cohutta and Mohican. I was starting to feel like I was coming into my own as a racer. I felt like I belonged there, that I wasn't a wanna be or someone's ex-girlfriend, but a genuine mountain bike racer.  With a new bike, a "real" race bike, there was so much potential to train and race.  The Niner's first race was a cross country race in the fall of 2009 and other than a couple of training races the following spring it was also it's last race.  The Niner promised to be my great endurance bike, but it's longest race was less than 30 miles.

First there was a little bit of burn out.  And then some financial strain.  And then a surgery.  And a pregnancy.  And now a baby.

The Niner never did get it's chance to be a true race bike.  It didn't exactly sit idle.  I rode as much as I could.  But more for fun, and less for training.  I love the Niner, not like the Surly though.  I liked the lighter frame, the big wheels, the disc brakes, and tubeless tires.  Had she been given a chance she probably could have been a great race bike.  There was always the promise that she would be.  As soon as the time was right, she'd become the race bike that I had intended her to be.

It's hard for me to adequately express how much I miss riding without feeling like I sound ungrateful for the reason that I'm not.  But I would give just about anything to ride and race like I use to.  I die a little inside when I hear people talk about their rides and races.  On nice days when  so many cyclist are out riding I want to run them off the road in my mini-van out of shear jealousy (just kidding I would never do that).  I miss the Thursday night Cove ride, and even the Wednesday night road ride.  I miss that every weekend would typically involve at least two rides, one on the road and one in the dirt.

I had planned to ride, train, and race again as soon as I was physically able.  And while I have numerous people who have offered to watch Annelise I have a hard time leaving her.  I keep saying next week I will, but then I don't.  I find that time and energy are in very short supply now.

Money is also in short supply.  As I attempt to dig myself out of the financial hole that maternity leave put me in I realized that I needed to thin out the arsenal, and the Niner would have to go.  So on Sunday I left Annelise for only the third time other than to work, and took the Niner out for a good-bye tour of the Cove.  It was sad for all the obvious reasons.  I'm losing a bike (I tend to be attached to my bikes).  I won't get much for it; it will hardly make a dent in our need and that will hardly make it seem worth it.  But it will be something.  And it will leave me without a decent mountain bike.  I still have the Surly, but she's now rigid, and it will be difficult to go back to 26" wheels and rim brakes.  So who knows when I'll go for another mountain bike ride.

But what I'm finding harder to let go of than the bike is the promise of races to come.  I feel like I'm taking one more step backward from ever racing again.  Even though I haven't been riding that much, and haven't done any real training I still had a bike and plan to race again. I've been offered a refund on my Iceman entry.  Even without a bike there is a part of me that wants to hold onto it.  As long as I'm entered in a race, I'm a racer, aren't I?  But we need the money.  So I'll part out the bike, sell my Iceman entry,  take what I can get for them and hope that at some point down the line I'll be able to afford another bike and that I'll have the opportunity to redeem myself of my last Iceman.

I still have the Giant, the Surly and the Allant.  I figure I'll just turn into a roadie for awhile.