Wednesday, December 12, 2007

OMG



Ayako's cuteness is unparalleled in cyclocross. This is her special National Champion outfit. She rules.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Champions


I heard from Ayako that she won Japanese National Champion for the third time, and our friend Masumi won second! Look how rad her kit is–I admit to coveting it.

Meanwhile, I won the somewhat less prestigious honor of Rhode Island State Champion (there are no other Elite women in the state to challenge me). As promised, I celebrated my victory at the HUB's annual holiday/cyclocross party with a bottle of fancy champagne. Once again, the HUB outdid themselves: the taqueria provided a copious buffet of their renouned tacos, DJs Isaac P. Gertman D.D.S. and Micah Jackson spun the whole room into a dance party, and Peter severed intoxicating espresso from his fabulous shiny copper machine.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ain't no Party like a West Coast Party

If you live anywhere near Encino Velodrome, I hope you will attend this event on December 8th!

http://www.encinovelo.org/
http://fixedgearfever.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=774

Mr. Sugino has taken a great interest in bike messenger and urban cycling culture: working with couriers on product development, sponsoring alley-cat races and such, and showing up at these events. Super rad!

If you make it to this one, please tell me how it goes!

Ain't no Party like an East Coast Party

I'm looking forward to racing and partying on my home turf this coming weekend. I plan to win Rhode Island State Champion at the W.E Steadman Gran Prix of Cyclocross on Saturday. Considering that I am the only Elite woman in the state, I've got that one in the bag.

I'll celebrate my victory that evening at the HUB's annual holiday/cyclocross party–enjoying superior food catered by Taqueria Pacifica, while DJs Micah Jackson and Isaac P. Gertman D.D.S. (in town from NYC) play their jammin'est jams. There's been a lot of talk at Fort AwesomePants (my house) about what fabulous outfits to wear, and Jesse usually dons a 3-piece suit: I dare you to outdo us! (Don't worry: schlubs and smelly bike punks are welcome too).

Sunday, you can catch me racing off a Veuve Clicquot hangover at the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross. Both races will be hosted in Goddard Park, and offer free Narragansett beer–for spectators as well as racers! This is the final weekend of the New England Verge series, and the end of the season for most anyone not attending Nationals. Woot!

I just finished a run of 50 posters commisioned by NBX for their race. Here are some shots of the process.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Dozen Reasons to Procrastinate


Cupcakes last week, muffins this week: I take breaks from drawing and cycling to warm up my house by baking. As I write this, a tasty aroma radiates from the oven. A scruffy starling seems to peer in hopefully from his perch on an orange-leafed tree outside my window. If only he knew that it's nearly as cold in my drafty old house as it is outside!

For weeks I've neglected my blog; I've been too busy living–and baking–to write about it. Briefly, I will update my readership on posters, bicycle racing and sweets.

ON POSTERS
I've been overwhelmed and flattered by the response (and links) to my posters! They 2006 edition that I printed with Dan has sold out. I will have 2007 posters for sale at the upcoming Rhode Island Verge weekend, and at Nationals if I make it. Otherwise, I will ship them for and extra $10, and take payment ($30 total) by paypal to hannahheartattack@gmail.com for as long as they last! Thanks for supporting my bike-racing and art-making!

ON RACING
Chesire 'Cross presented an opportunity to boost my ego: the big guns were away racing the GP in New Jersey. The course wound through the sort of rooty woodsy trails that I am terrible at, but love to ride. I finished 3rd–winning some nifty stuff and $50 (the largest payout I've received!)–then cheered on the boys. Santa Claus and other spectators were getting seriously silly (and wasted) on the run-up!

Sterling was cold. Again, some of the top racers were away, this time at a World Cup. A good opportunity for mediocre and newbie Elites like myself to finish in the points/money (Verge races pay 15 deep for women). I felt unfocused in the race and found my mind wandering towards grocery lists and party outfits. But when I realized I was in the bitch spot, 16th, that put a fire under my saddle. I finished 15th, wining my first ever Verge point. Then I drank a lot of beers (to replenish my glycogen stores).

ON SWEETS
I'll keep making them until the weather is consistently above freezing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hot off the Presses


OK, screenprinting doesn't get hot or really use a press, but these posters are fresh and few. I designed and screened 83 limited edition prints, and then I blasted out the screen: so that's it 83, and no more. 131/2 by 211/2 inches. The light color is metatallic gold (I was enamored with every sparkling pull).

I'm selling these unofficial Cylocross Nationals posters for $20 a piece to cover my expenses for travelling to Kansas City and racing. There are a few left from last year that are $15 a piece, or buy both posters for $30. I'll have them with me at some upcoming races, or you can e-mail me, hannahheartattack@gmail.com.

Off the Race Course: Into the Studio

Unemployment is unleashing a spell of prolific creativity. In the undefined period between jobs, I'm driven to accomplish as much of my own work as possible while I have the time. Last week I left my bike alone for the most part, and put my nose to the grindstone on unfinished projects. I screenprinted 80 editions of a 3-color poster. I sewed a wool skirt (just in time for the weather to turn unseasonably warm again), and finished constructing a life-size crow--with feathers cut from discarded bike tubes--that will be part of a new window display at the HUB.

Considering how great I felt at the training race last night, a little time away from cycling must've done my riding some good too!

Here are some pictures of works in progress.








Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dollar Primes, New Skinsuits, Poor Planning

Friday night. With a heavy pink bag full of racing gear (team kit, embrocation, lipstick etc.) strapped to my back, I ride to the bus terminal. While waiting, I take advantage of the photo booth. The bus takes me to Boston's South Station, I ride to Craig's house, wait hours for everybody to get ready, then carpool with the Cambridge Bike guys to Connecticut--to my teammate Dan's mom's house. She lives only minutes from Saturday's Chainbiter race course.

Saturday. Dollar Primes. Cold wind and rain: it feels like 'cross should! I have fun. Making some mistakes in the first lap puts me way back, but I start passing people, picking them off. Then I slip in a corner and do a superman--mud all over my front. Oh well. The Ghostship guys are handing out dollar primes on the back stretch and I grab one--two, three--as I claw my way back up a few places in the remaining laps. I finish cheerfully in the back.

After recovering with grilled cheese and beer, we cut, sew, serge and embroider with Dan's mom. By Sunday morning, Dan and I have new kits!

Sunday. New Skinsuits. Eager as I am to show off the gold embroidery on my new skinsuit, I nonetheless wake up on the wrong side of the bed: I hate everything. Still, I race, and when I see my friends at the top of the run up holding a giant neon-pink "Go Hannah!" sign at the top of the run up--and I'm passing people--my attitude makes a 180. I love 'cross. I make my strongest finish yet at a UCI race (an unimpressive but satisfying 19th).

Poor Planning. I thought Dan had organized a ride home, but after the last race, I don't see anyone from Providence still around. Uh-oh. Adam Sullivan is my knight in shining armor--uhhh...the guy with a car headed to Rhode Island--who rescues me from having to bike back from North Hampton (or get a ride to Boston and take the train home in the morning). All I want to do is go home and eat some ice cream and sleep in my own bed, and I get to.

Until next weekend,
-H

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canton Cup


Canton Cross 07 027, originally uploaded by Jasonwg.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Inevitable Precipitates

Down comes the cold rain and gusts of wind ripping dead leaves from the shaking trees. Down comes the news that I will be laid off from Providence Bicycle in a week (every bike shop slows down in the winter, but it would have been nice if instead of assuring me that I'd have work all winter, they'd given me time to find another job). Regardless of unpleasant weather and unpleasant news, the weekend arrives, and I race.

More rain. It's spattering gently wakes me on Saturday. My first thought is, "good weather for 'cross." The rain lets up. I'm racing today, but not cyclocross; instead I head downtown for an alleycat--an opportunity to support hometown bike culture and win some schwag. And win I do! First girl, and second overall. (Pardon my bragging.) Fun. I take home a huge ugly bag--just what I need for grocery shopping and long race weekends away from home--and some gift certificates to the bookstore. The rain starts again; I go home to eat leftover lasagna and sip hot cider.

Sunday. I get to sleep in late and then take the commuter rail less that an hour to a really fun race, and the sunshine feels warm even though the air is chilly and blustery. So why am I grumpy and ambivalent about racing today?

I drag my heals all the way to the starting line, but once I'm racing I feel good. My technique is getting better and smoother. I'm riding fast, but not really an all-out race effort. Coming around the fourth time, I think I have one lap to go, until someone sprints past me to the line! That's what I get for being unfocused, but darn, the sprint is my favorite part and I missed it!

Props to Bobby and friends (and sponsors) for putting on a nice event on Saturday! Thanks Cambridge Bicycle pals for always being friendly. See everyone next weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Like Cider

Every race in Connecticut farmland should have free hot cider. Mansfield Hollow did.

I won gloves. That's great--I needed them.

I spent Friday night moping around at home with the onset of a cold irritating me. It was pouring rain outside. I was so grumpy I nearly bailed on racing this weekend.

But I didn't bail. I showed up and gave it the effort I considered due for a low priority race. And then enjoyed some cider.

(I'll add pictures and links to this post later)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Two Days Racing at Gloucester

LAST YEARMy first 'cross race. From Kerry Combs/IF chicks

THIS YEAR

Warming up. From JasonWG's flickr.

Setting the Scene
Nostalgia tinted my perception the moment I stepped off the train and rode through downtown Gloucester. A year ago, this was my first ever cross race. Details of that weekend I recall with poignant specificity: whisps of steam rising from hot cider I sipped outside the coffee shop on Main St., the sidewalk where we sat eating with Molly, Dan's well-worn sweatshirt I borrowed that was the same color as the old-school Alan I'd pieced together to race, sailboats I watched from the park's glorious view of Boston Harbor, the registration area where I met Julie Lockheart and Kerri Combs as we stood in line to see if we would make it off the waiting list (and feeling so nervous that I half-hoped I wouldn't). This year I returned with one season of racing and training under my belt, a new bike, and the ambition to compete in the Elite field.

At his family home just seconds away from the races, Casey Buckles genrously hosted our Cirlcle A and Hub team and some folks from Cambridge Bicycle. What convenience! To get to Gloucester on Friday night I took the commuter rail from Providence to Boston's South Station, then rode to North station to meet Dan and the Cambridge folks to catch another commuter rail. I made the train with Eric, but Dan and the others dilly-dallyed too long and arrived at the platform just as the train pulled away. Suckers!

Saturday morning arrived clear and cool; we rolled out of bed and across to the course. Sun glistened almost too sharply on the harbor, the verdant grassy park, and the barrier tape shimmering in the breeze. From 9am until I raced at 2:30 in the afternoon, I enjoyed cheering for friends and an acquaintances as they suffered enthusiastically.

My Saturday Race
When it was my turn to line up, seeing familiar faces around me assuaged my nervousness--even though many were faces of women I expected to finish far ahead of me. Battling the course and my racing peers, I vacillated between disillusionment and childlike glee: suffering into the wind as lactic acid slowed my legs to a sluggish crawl I questioned why I even bother to do this sport, but taking a corner more smoothly or a descent more confidently than I ever had before, I felt giddy and eager to do it again. I took a bad line and crashed in the sand, losing four places, and fell again when I didn't unclip in time for the barriers. Frustration! Racing with the Elite women, I get schooled: I don't get the ego-boost of finishing high up, but I learn--when I keep a girl's wheel for a while and see the good lines she chooses--and am reminded that if I want to compete at that level I need to step it up and stay focused!

Photo from Paul Weiss

I thought Dan did quite well, finishing in the top half of the Elite men, but he was unsatisfied.

The Real Fun
The real fun started at the Harborside bike shop party Saturday. They served up homemade miso soup and chai, more cookies than several dozen hungry cyclists could devour, and plenty of libations. Folks came and went, and a few of us stayed chatting and joking late into the night. It felt like 2am by the time we rolled back to Casey's home for some shut-eye--it was not quite 10pm.

The Sunday Races
The morning: ditto Saturday, except I had some new friends to cheer for (see "the real fun"). The racing: much better! I started with heavy legs high hopes. Out of 43 contenders, I stayed in a bunch with Kim and Erin and Alex--girls I know I can keep up with on the road, and want to compete with in cross--and a few others.

With three laps to go, Kim and I got away, and I got really excited! We could work together to finish strong! Too excited: I choose a terrible line through a 180 corner that sent Kim flying over the tape into a tuck-and-roll on the grass. While I took off to grab a wheel, Kim recovered her position with the others. So then it was me and the blue-and-orange girl: I dropped her with one to go, kept the gap, and to my surprise, caught up to the Spin Arts woman just before the final sprint, and then I out sprinted her--for 24th place.

So I was way back, but I felt like I was really racing! And I know in another year I could be faster--if I train right. I can still hardly ride anything technical, and with more (than 2) years of riding, my endurance and economy should improve.

People I'm Grateful to.
The highlight of Sunday for me was that my dad brought my 88-year old grandfather to the race. (Dad was out from Seattle for the weekend to visit his family). My grandfather was mostly interested in the dogs, and impressed that no one was littering, and had some questions about gearing and wheel design (he was the engineer who invented the first radar to see through fog--he takes an interest in technical things). My dad was all over the course cheering and ringing his cowbell!

Christine Vardaros was in town for her only US race this season besides Nationals. I had the pleasure of meeting her and some friends for lunch on Friday in Providence, and getting to hang out a bit at the races. She had nothing but kind words of encouragement for me--that helped me feel optimistic about choosing to move up to the Elites. She commended me for upgrading, "Look where you want to go," she said, making a cycling analogy, "if you look at a tree, that's where you'll go, if you look at the dirt, that's where you'll go....look where you want to go."


Full results for Saturday are here, and Sunday here.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Long Climbs, Autumn Leaves, Maple Candy

Enticed by the promise of long hilly rides, I went to Vermont with my friend Kim to visit her family last weekend. We rode so much that we hardly saw her family--we even missed turkey dinner because we miscalculated how long a loop would take. With cool sunny days and glorious scenery, it was a pleasure to pedal all weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cakes, Starcrossed, Black Bear

Last week I sandwiched a weekend of Northwest cyclocross into a visit to my Dad's house at the Cascades' foothills. Farms, woods, mountains--some nice stuff out there--I miss it. At a loss for how to fill my time between bike rides and book reading, I baked some cakes. Why not? First Decadent Chocolate decorated with candied rose petals, next sour cream coffee cake with a layer of backyard apples and cinnamon in the middle.


Starcrossed was a grass crit and a spectacle: wicked fast racing surrounded by a big party. And there were waffles. I ate one while I watched the Elite men. Barry Wicks and Ryan Trebon on their tall orange bikes took off with Christian Huele, leaving the field far behind. Midway through the race Wicks attacked, sweeping through a u-turn, but he took it too hot and crashed! Off the other two went, but whaddayaknow, of course he caught them! That whole mess was hilarious and impressive--just what I like about cross.


It was nice to see some familiar faces, and make new acquaintances. I send my thanks to friends and family who came out to cheer!

While unloading the car after Sunday's race (see below) I looked across the yard to see a black bear eating apples off the tree! Only about 100ft from where I was, wow! so cool! Then he looked at me, took another bite of his apple and then dashed off into the woods.

I wrapped up my trip with a lovely ride on logging roads and trails with my step-brother. Pretty awesome being able to ride right out the door into the woods!

Now I'm back in the Northeast, buckling down for hard training after a humbling weekend. Are they faster out there or what?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Northwest Nonsense

New England Cyclocrossers: imagine the longest most sufferingest run-up you've done, and then multiply it by three. That should approximate the run-up at Fort Steilacoom Park in Washington State, where the RAD racing GP was held this weekend. I'd heard lore of it, but I thought, "how bad can a run-up be?" I like run-ups: no better way to demoralize the competition than to pass them on foot. Cyclist hate running. So, I started walking the course Sunday morning--oh shit!--the words dropped from my gaping jaw as the run-up loomed ahead of me. That hill is ferocious! Racing up it sucked energy and took intense focus, but the wall of spectators on either side pulled us up with their cheering--in retrospect it seems almost fun.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Soundtrack

Preparing to travel westward, Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" gets stuck in my head.

Theme songs for my life: sometimes I choose them deliberately, but often they emerge unexpectedly from my internal library of pop culture and personal associations. Sometimes it's "Leaving on a Jet Plane"--not the famous version, but a painfully sincere performance by a girl at a Unitarian Youth Convention I followed by best friend to when I was 13. Other times I choose something more flattering, like "Rebel Girl", the Bikini Kill song that every young lady with the slightest punk inclination believes to be about herself.

When I think I'm being funny, I choose Marilyn Monroe's throaty "Diamond's are a Girls Best Friend" (a feminist song about financial independence), or the Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like" which my roommate has appointed as my identifying ringtone on her phone. "Pretty in Pink" is too obvious, and not fitting beyond the title line.

Mirah gets me when I'm homesick and lonely with lines about the river and the mountains in "Person Person." If I feel like reveling in some wistful sadness I turn to Bright Eyes or the Weakerthans. And Northwest music like Built to Spill tugs nostalgically at my Pacific heart.

Classic old punk charges me up. For a while I woke up each morning with Operation Ivy's "Sound System." My first kiss was at an Anti-Flag show at the RCKNDY, a grungy club that's been replaced by condos. Poly Styrene singing "Oh Bondage, Up Yours" or "I'm a Cliche" by the X-Ray Spex work when I feel ironic, conflicted, or hypocritical.

I used to get "Singin' in the Rain" stuck in my head whenever I was really happy. During my brief stint as a roller derby jammer, I borrowed my moniker from "Hard Hearted Hannah;" I never decided whether Ella Fitzgerald's rendition or the Red Aunts punk cover fit better. The only other palatable song I know of with my name is "Miss Hannah," as sung by Coleman Hawkins. I'd happily follow it's flattering theme (about how everybody admires Miss Hannah).

On long bike rides alone, I sing to myself to keep pedalling--it doesn't matter whether I like the song, only how much of it I can remember to amuse myself. On a bike tour from Portland to San Francisco my accomplice and I played the same Sam Cooke tape over and over from a tiny cassette player tethered to my pannier.

When riding cheerfully through the city on a sunny morning, or drunkenly home on dark night, I imagine I'm moving fast enough that no one can hear my tone deaf self-serenade.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

'cross cupcakes


I love 'cross! Still dazed and giddy, I haven't recovered enough from today's race to formulate any thought more complicated than that.

What do I love? Cool, sunny fall weather; racing as hard as I bloody can for 45 minutes; friends, old and new; my wool skinsuit and my beautiful new bike (I loved my old noodly bike with bar-ends too); cheering and heckling friends; the whole spectacle; coming home completely exhausted.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Looking for a road team

I planned to be an artist, not a bike racer. Two years after graduating with a painting degree, I'm working at a bike shop: spending all my money on bikes and races, and all my time on riding, eating or sleeping. I can make art when I get old.

Having raced my first two road seasons solo, I'd like to to experience elite road racing as the team sport it's meant to be. I've upgrade through a category per year, so I will start 2008 as a cat. 2. I have a lot to learn about training and racing--it would be swell to get to ride with teammates, and to have some of my expenses covered.

If anyone knows of teams they think I should send a resume to, please let me know!

Obviously, I'm quite happy with my fabulous 'cross team, so I'm just looking for road sponsorship.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wool Skinsuits



Dan and his mom designed, constructed and embroidered our new kits. They are custom cut to each of our measurements--mine fits so well I feel like I'm riding naked!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

bloody and muddy


My first cylocross race of the season could've gone better. I took a wet corner too fast and kissed the pavement. Still, I got up and finished--why waste a drive to New Hampshire?


My face looks like hell, but at least that won't keep me from riding.

Monday, September 3, 2007

perfect score

Mountain bike. In Japanese, the syllables become "maan ten". Three alphabets comprise Japanese written language: two phonetic--hiragana for vernacular and katakana for English and other foreign words--and one of characters like Chinese, called kanji. The kanji for the sounds "maan ten" translate literally to "perfect score". My friend Muga, who runs a charming and pretentious bike shop in Kyoto, explained this joke to me. Mountain bike=perfect score.


Four times now my friends have taken me mountain biking. Each time I come home bruised and elated. I don't know how to handle a bike with straight bars and suspension; I don't trust myself to roll over rocks and through sandy banked corners. But I like being perpetually challenged, and I like spending time with trees and dirt--things the country girl in me misses in her city life.

This is my jam: five or ten minutes into the ride, chasing eager riders who know what they're doing, I take a digger--last week I knocked the wind out of myself and bruised some ribs, this week I wiped out in some sand and landed hip to end of bar--and then I brush myself off, relax, and start getting into the rhythm. By the end I'm exhausted and sore; I can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Head Over Heals, but Rubber Side Down

It's the prettiest thing I've ever seen, and it's mine, and I don't want to be apart from it for a moment. It rides like a dream--light and stiff, it wants to go forward, fast. It grips corners and takes the line I choose as if it could read my mind. It's pink and white. I can't wait to get mud on it!

More pictures of my new cyclocross bike coming soon...

Check out Brian's post too--there's a slideshow of the whole build process.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Boys will come and go, but i'll always have my bike

It's nearly midnight on Monday, and I'm baking brownies. When mulling over complicated thoughts, I like to bake. The methodical process untangles my busy mind, and unlike most endeavors baking consistently yields immediately gratifying results.

I am certain about one thing: I love to race my bike.

Fast as ****
The anticipation of last Wednesday's Witches Cup in Salem had me shaking in my boots. I would be racing against some fast ladies, and could only hope to hold my own and stick with the pack. The short crit looped around a park, and the festive mood around the race excited me. Right from the start Lynne Bessette and Rebecca Wellons attacked, and the rest of us never caught them! It was fast as ****! I settled in and waited for the sprint finish; I got 6th! Then I bought a pint of ice cream and watched Adam make some moves in the men's pro-1-2-3 race (read his blog about Salem too).

I'm pretty damn excited about racing.

My new cross bike should be finished by the end of the week!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Defending my Title

Winning in the sprint at the Fall River Crit was really fun!Photo by Steve Hopkins

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Summer Vacation

Riding the 75-mile four notches loop around White Mountain National Park in New Hampshire with Lynn and Adam, I started a weekend of summer fun. I've missed mountains--New England has charm, but none of the rugged geographic romance of the Northwest. We rode at a steady but leisurely pace. Each long climb was rewarded with a spectacular descent. The last ten miles we rode a deserted bike path through the woods: Adam aptly described the trill as "like mountain biking at 30 miles per hour!" Naturally, we recovered with banana splits and Belgian Beer.

Saturday's weather called for a 15-mile ride through hilly Scituate to Steph's parent's pool. I ate a lot of cheese sandwiches and watermelon. Back at home we cooked dinner with friends and drank Kalimotxo (red wine and coke--try it, it's good). Then we dressed up, filled bike bottles with Rusty Anchors (red wine and coke, plus whiskey), and went to a dance party. The party was OK; eating pizza on our porch until 3am was better.

I still got to Brian C's by 8am to go to Worcester for the Major Taylor Hill climb. Major Taylor, the first black world champion [track] cyclist over a century ago, lived there. There's an annual hill climb in his honor on George St. where he trained. It's steep: short and painful. What fun! Providence made a good showing, and we were the largest cointingent on fixed gears (hey, that's what the Major rode). Adam and Brian and Nathan did it damn fast. I was slow, but still won a big goofy gold medal for my category.

I've spent most of my summer working, training, and pining away. Now playing a little more.

p.s. Come to our yard sale party on Saturday. Cupcakes. Hulahoops. Costumes.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Almost Perfect

I rode 15 miles to the crit in Attleboro, raced, got 3rd, chatted with friends, rode home, ate ice cream, napped, went mountain biking, swam in Carr's Pond, and finished the day with pizza and beer.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Twin Peaks and Popsicles

After being unbearably sick for three days after COX, I spent a week in Gainsville, Florida eating popsicles and watching episodes of Twin Peaks with Dan. The shack he built to live in in his friend's yard is adorable--it's like living in a childhood fort, but a better crafted one. I took a true rest week and only rode a bike for transportation: no training. I got to see the pop-punk band he is in, Potion Sex, play one night.We slept in most mornings, cooked some good meals and didn't try to do much else. It was too hot and humid to [want to] accomplish much anyhow; I would take unused clothes out of my suitcase and find them damp and sticky from the air. Each night I had wild and vivid dreams; I grew up in the town Twin Peaks was filmed in, and it's dark and peculiar images combined with memories of my childhood.

I'm now back in Providence, continuing my routine of work and riding. Tam, a mechanic I work with, loaned me a bike and took me on my first ever Mountain bike ride yesterday. It was a blast! We ate burritos afterwards, and then I took a nap--ace! I wish every day were just like that.

Monday, July 2, 2007

COX Classic Criterium

Every summer, racers and spectators crowd downtown Providence for the Cox Classic Criterium. It's the one road race I can ride to from my house in ten minutes. There's a lot of money to be won in the pro fields, so the racing is intense--it's a lively spectacle for the large crowd.

Mackenzie Dickie usually wins the women's race, so I was surprised not to see her on the preregistration roster. But she showed up. As I was waiting at the line for the race to start, I also noticed a woman in an old National Champion jersey, and my friend Kim leaned over to say, "look, that lady in the Ford kit is a former Olympian." Rebecca Wellons, New England's rising star, had a handful of NEBC teammates there to support her. The field was stacked. I felt out of my league.

I was worried about whether I could hang with the pack, so I just sat in at the back. Keeping up with the fastest race I'd ever been in thrilled me! When I passed cheering friends, I grinned through my suffering. I love having an audience, and I didn't want to fail them. Many friends and acquaintances had biked or walked downtown to watch the races. Hearing them cheer made me feel like I'd be a hometown hero even if I got dropped.

I didn't get dropped. Riding with a field of such competent women, I learned a lot. Everyone was so smooth! On the last lap I followed Kim, on the tail of Rebecca Wellons, into 12th place (taking Kim and one other lady just at the line). Mackenzie won, after taking a few primes too.

I was so excited! This was a really fun race.

Brian C. took some nice pictures.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ninigret NBX Criterium


With attacks starting early, this crit was lively. In spite of a strong wind--strong even for this notoriously windy course--and a field of only fifteen women, riders started making moves right away. We had a staggered start with the Men's 4 field, and about halfway into the 40-minute race they passed us. Two ladies [illegally] used the mens field to block them from the wind and the rest of the women, and made an attack. The Inependent Fabrications women managed to organize the rest of us into a rotating pace line, and then with a strong jump from Silke (for Anthem) we caught the break with only a few laps to go. Silke made the winning break, and the rest of us finished together. As usual, I think I started my sprint a little late. Nonetheless, I'm happy with 6th place--one upgrade point and $20. I think most of the top five were cat. 2 riders.

If I stick to the pattern I've established so far this season--finish 5th or 6th, then 10th or 11th, then 5th or 6th, then 10th or 11th--then I should be teetering on the edge of a top 10 at the Cox Crit today. I'm intimidated: this race will be fast.

My mom is in town this weekend. Yay! She was very camera-happy, so I have lots of pictures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New White Bar Tape

If you can ride away from a bicycle accident, there's not much to complain about--your body and your machine are still functioning--so what if it hurts? As my dad, and many seasoned cyclists, like to say, "There are only two kinds of people who ride bikes: those who have crashed, and those who will crash." Though I've taken plenty of spills, Saturday was the first time I was involved in a major wipe-out in a race.

The tears that welled up when I realized I shouldn't sprint back up to the pack with blood pouring from my elbow were not from pain, but frustration. Until a shaky rider went down, 22 miles into the 32-mile course, and took half a dozen of us out, I was having the best road race of my life. I felt strong riding near the front, even taking some pulls. I was getting bored enough to consider attacking. I was working on riding safely but more agressively. I thought I might finish in the money, and I would feel good about how I'd raced regardless of how I finished. Bummer! I guess it's easy to claim you were going to finish well when you didn't get to finish. (p.s. I don't blame whoever went down first, it sucks for her too! and she was probably new)

I went home and rode for two hours to make up for not getting a full race.

While crashing is a risk I accept as part of racing, I'm upset about the negligent and unsafe organization of the women's race by the promoter. I'm sending a letter of complaint (as a know many of the other participants are), and I'll post a copy of it here soon.

After a few days of utter exhaustion, recovering from a long week and the soreness of crashing, I'll be back on my riding legs today at the training race. I still hope to be in relatively good form for the Rhode Island races this weekend--but we'll see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Days Fly By

My new bike will be built, Dan will come home, and cross season will arrive as the leaves turn colors and the evenings become chilly. It seems perverse to wish for summer to pass quickly, but I'm eagerly awaiting autumn.

My training now is focused towards upcoming races in Rhode Island: the NBX and COX crits in less than two weeks. A few days after those, I'll fly to Florida for a week's vacation--if chasing Dan's wheel can be considered a vacation. These days will pass quickly.

While I easily get wrapped up in the excitement of competition, I'm trying to keep my cross season goals in sight, and not get sidetracked by road races that aren't important to me. After too many lonely miles on the road, and the ensuing boredom, riding in the woods is renewing my enthusiasm for training. Pedaling through the trees doesn't feel like training--it feels like fun.

Today my teammate Steph joined my friend Lynn and I for a cross ride in Big River. Hilarity ensued. Here's Steph taking a rest in the little graveyard we discovered. Check out more pictures on her Flickr page.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I thought our kits were going to be cool, but...

...look at Ayako's!

She Rides Like Lance

During my third week in Japan this past Spring, my host Seiiya persuaded this fellow to take the "cute American girl" riding. I was thrilled to ride with someone fast and smooth who knew the territory. He met me at Seiiya's bike shop, and led me on a 70-mile spin on bike paths and country roads through Tokyo's outskirts. The elegance of his cadence and handling complemented his understated pearl-white bicycle. It was a windy along the rivers we paralleled that sunny afternoon. At the halfway point we stopped at a charming bakery to devour pastries and tiny cups of complimentary coffee. I'd discovered by then that most Japanese--even serious cyclists--are far too civilized to eat while riding (or maybe they were just being polite for my sake). We returned to the shop just as the sun was setting. Recounting the outing, he said that I ride like Lance Armstrong. I thought that was funny--sure, the American rides like Lance. But when he explained I was humbled to realize this comment came not from gross generalization but from attention to detail: Europeans, he observed, sit back and pedal at a high cadence, while Americans shift their weight more forward, and push a bigger gear but still spin. Sure enough, I ride like an American.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Training my Wheels

Gloucester's U.S.G.P. last fall was my first cyclocross race--an my first off-road riding experience in my adult life. My age was still in the single-digits the last time I rode over grass and dirt (in my back yard). The fearlessness [foolishness?] that competition inspires carries me across terrain I have no idea how to handle. But when my judgment isn't blurred by adrenaline, I'm a wimp. I am afraid to ride over a twig. I'd like to get over that, so last Friday Lynn, who is a former mountain bike racer, led me through the trails of Big River. There's not much a 'cross bike couldn't handle in there, but it's more technical than any cyclocross course. She had to wait for me often while I ran through sections I was too timid to ride, but I had a blast! My learning curve was steeper than the run-up at the North Hampton Verge race. After only an hour I was experiencing vastly improved confidence. Fresh scrapes an bruises on my legs are reminding me of the relearned lesson that crashing isn't really so painful--even to the ego. I can't wait to ride in the woods again!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hartford Criterium

The park was beautiful; I wanted to ride the carousel. My race unfolded uneventfully. I raced strong but not smart--working hard without much strategy. I finished a satisfactory 15th (out of 42), with a clear idea of what I need to work on. Wanting more, I considered joining a second race to at least get a longer workout, but I was glad I hadn't when the men's 4 became a crash fest with one guy breaking his collar bone.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bike to Work Day...


...that's every day, right?

Dan called me from the airport, "there's a picture of us in the Cars section of the newspaper." I thought he was palying a "that's you" joke on me. But, sure enough, the Providence Journal printed an article about Bike to Work Day with a picture of none other than our elite cyclocross team riding across town. Huh?

(p.s. Go to Bike to Work Day for free breakfast!)

PINK SUGINO CRANKS!

Look what arrived in the mail today! Mr. Sugino sent three sets of one-off pink road cranks with bash gaurds for our team!

I'm floored.





I met the charming president of Sugino Cycle Industries at the Chie Matsuri alleycat in Kyoto, where he was premiering pink track cranks. He kindly offered his support to Circle A Cyclocross.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I've been racing a little

The team was reunited this week when Dan came up from Florida to visit friends in Providence (he'll be back more permanently for 'cross season). We went to the "free pizza race," that is, the Sterling Classic. I competed in my first Elite field. My dad, grandfather and uncle surprised me by showing up to watch the start! Dan's folks were there to heckle too.

After 3 of 6 laps I was seriously considering dropping out when we passed the ice cream shop, and watching everyone else suffer while I enjoyed a sundae. But when I came up the hill and across the line on the fourth lap, I heard "here comes Hannah Kirshner"announced over the loudspeaker, and couldn't quit. I bridged back up to the middle group and finished near the front of it, in 11th place (just out of the money). Dan was looking strong in the top 10 until someone crashed him out. Lame. Nonetheless, he finished in good spirits.

I've been remiss in posting race reports, because I'm a little embarrassed to. Here is a wrap-up of my season so far:

A few days after returning from Japan, I did the Chris Hinds Criterium on a whim. I rode the 40 miles out to Ninegret from Providence (it's a pretty nice route) and then pleasantly surprised myself with a 5th place finish in the womens' open. Thankfully, I got a ride home in a friend's car.

Battenkill was brutal, as expected. I didn't get to warm up and was all nerves. I dropped my chain on the neutral lap. By the second hill I panicked and got dropped. Gratefully, I rode the rest of the race with three ladies. They felt like my best friends until the finish--I sprinted in ahead of them to place just barely in the top 10.

A few weeks later I raced the womens' 3/4 at the Sturbridge and Palmer weekend. Both circuit races were fun. I placed 11th and 6th, respectively. Finishing in the money at Palmer payed for the weekend!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Back in the USA


Recently retuned from four magical weeks in Japan, I am readjusting to daily life in Providence--maneuvering around glass and potholes and big cars edging me off the road. Groceries must be bought, money earned, and the house kept in order. Mostly though, I'm trying to spend time on my bike, and to do so more deliberately and effectively than I have in the past. I want to race faster, stronger and smarter. I am not an athlete; I have never trained for a sport until now.