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


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.