Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Broken Wrist Update

Yesterday my life got momentarily awful, like an impending storm the morning before a super-technical criterium, then all of the sudden brightened like a sky that miraculously clears up just before said criterium's start time. You see, my father is part of this thing called a family business. It has to do with agriculture and real estate in California. So, as a result of the family business-ness I fall under the umbrella of my family's California agriculture-workers' insurance plan. As there aren't many lemon farmers outside of California in this here wonderful nation, the insurance coverage gets more and more spotty the further away you get from the Pacific Ocean. Finding a doctor that will take my insurance in New York is about as fun as racing Grant's Tomb last year (it isn't). So the first two hours of my day yesterday were spent making call after call, looking for someone who 1) would admit to accepting my insurance, 2) was actually working on the week of Thanksgiving, and 3) could see me on Monday or Tuesday.

After two hours of dealing with disgruntled employees of various health services providers, I finally found a doctor who would see me - and better yet one that was right across the street. So I went. And I waited. And I waited. And I bemoaned the annoying mega-wrap splint that was put on my arm in the emergency room and had subsequently cut off almost all of the circulation to my right hand (but was just shy of being severe enough to risk taking off the splint). Finally, after a million phone calls to my dad needing his social to get them to accept my insurance, and a walk to the ATM because they don't accept credit card copays, I finally got in to see someone. Who promtly sent me down 6 floors to radiology for x-rays. A half hour later I was back in the waiting room. The amazing P.A. somehow took pity on me and beckoned me into a room as soon as I walked in the door. She took of the splint, poked my hand until I winced, and sent me right back downstairs. They needed more x-rays of different angles. 

By this time it was about noon. The people in radiology were doing what I am usually doing at noon: eating lunch. But instead of telling people, they just ate and let us wait. I spent the better part of the hour playing with my unsplinted hand and trying to remember how to move it. Two days without moving your thumb is apparently enough to forget how it works. Finally, oh finally, I got in for another x-ray after the same nice P.A. called down to radiology worried that I had yet to reemerge. 

I went back upstairs. I was directed to the doctor's office. Not his waiting room, not an exam room, but his actual office, where I was pleased to find my x-rays sitting on a screen. He came in. He looked at them. He poked my hand. The PA came in and they discussed. He muttered about how terrible the x-ray tech was at her job. Finally, he told me that I needed more radiology: this time an MRI. He showed me a skeleton hand and pointed out the small bone between the thumb and the wrist that protrudes slightly. This, he said, is what he thinks is broken. But he needs an MRI to be sure. He had the P.A. get me a brace. A wrist brace! It was small and dainty and when they slipped it on I could actually maneuver all five digits. All of the sudden I had twice the mobility that I had with the splint and thought I might actually be able to type (hello, interwebs!). I felt like Wormtail when Voldemort gives him the magic hand, except for the whole evil thing.

Come back and see me next week after the MRI, the doctor said. I literally skipped out of his office. Well, walked with a lighter step, and headed straight for the Wafels and Dinges truck parked on 114th and Broadway. But that's a different story.

My Chamois Butt'r and I will still probably be grinding away on the trainer for three weeks or so. What a stupid, stupid, stupid rock that my hand landed on. Whatever. Have I mentioned I still got a medal?

AND POINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNTS. Sometimes I love being a girl.

The moral of this story is that when you race your bike you shouldn't fall, because sometimes a 40 minute race turns into 10 hours of ER and doctors' waiting rooms. Ooops.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why I love 'cross

You can break your hand on lap one and just run with your bike until someone finishes. Then you get points, and in this case, a medal.

Let this be a lesson to all: DFL>DNF.

More updates when I figure out how to type with this thing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Update

The hiatus is over and summer racing is in full swing! On the agenda in the next couple of weeks is the Harlem crit (June 20) and the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic stage race (July 2-5). Be on the lookout for race reports and other colorful updates, coming soon!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Columbia Cycling presents...Easterns Bingo!

Epic fail! I'm sure other people had something a bit different, but even though I cheated and gave myself credit for things I should maybe only get half credit for (I definitely saw a guy in cutoffs, but was he from UVM? I have no idea; also, it didn't rain until we hit Connecticut on the way home), I still missed out on bingo! If only someone had drawn blood... But this does give a good idea of what you may have missed at Easterns. If anyone else from the team has anything to add, let me know, we may get to bingo yet.

*Please note that inappropriateness has been blacked out to protect names and reputations - mostly mine.

- Shane

Monday, March 22, 2010

The slinky race

I realized today that I don't really have a pain face. I had never thought about it until I mentioned that today was the hardest race I've ever done. And someone said, "Really? It didn't look like you were hurting that bad." It upset me for a minute. I thought about it. And I realized that I've been trained since I was three years old to perform stoically: to seem serene even though you are breathing heavy and close to vomiting. Roller skating is a pretty-type sport. A lot closer to dancing than to bike racing. You put on a face, you perform, you leave your emotions (and your grimaces) in the pit with your coach.

On top of this, I'm not a vomiter. I didn't (I'm told) vomit as a baby. In my memory, I can only think of two times it's happened: after a bad chimichanga at the Rio hotel/casino in Vegas, and after an accidental overdose of acetaminophen after having my wisdom teeth out. If I was a vomiter, today would have been a vomiting day. Instead I've been stuck with this low grade stomachache that persisted for roughly 6 hours after the end of my race.  

But that being said, I don't think I've ever been more happy with a bike race result. Of the 40 minutes we were racing today, I was dangling off the back, yo-yoing between on and off, for roughly 35. But not only did I finish with the pack, I was genuine, coming-across-the-line-somewhere-towards-the-middle-of-the-group pack fodder. Considering I got dropped during both Rutgers races, sat in a van fixing people's problems during Grant's Tomb, skipped Stevens, DFL'ed* during the circuit race yesterday, and spent the grand majority of today's crit thinking I was mere seconds from from popping off and being pulled, I'm ecstatic. 

Today was really a show of who has been doing their top-end and jump intervals. And who has handling skills. There seemed to me to be three groups in the pack: the first third was simply plain stronger than everyone else, or had a good mix of strength, pop, and handling skills; the second third had the pop to jump after each turn and catch back on the pack; the last group had fantastic skills, but not so much pop. There were a few of us who were having trouble getting back to the pack on each turn, but going through the turns without hitting the breaks caught us back up every half lap or so. Then, invariably, we would come to turns 2-4, and the middle group would hit the breaks (hard), sending us back 30 feet and we would once again have to pop and sprint in order to hang on. Back and forth, like a yo-yo. Or a slinky.

I remember looking up at the lap cards when 12 to go was showing and thinking that I might last another lap. Maybe two. But somehow, I worked through it. I finally caught a break when there was a crash just before turn 6. I had to skid to avoid it, and thought I had been gapped permanently, but ended up getting a lucky break and the pack decided to take a half-lap rest. Since I had momentum coming up to them, and knew there were only two or so laps to go, I just kept going, and tucked in right towards the front of the pack. I am not sure those girls have ever seen me before. My intention was to help my teammate up there if I could, but it took roughly 10 seconds for me to realize that it probably wasn't going to happen. I just hung on to strong wheels for dear life and glided in for a well-deserved 18th.

*DFL = Dead Fucking Last, a position I cherish in hilly races, considering DFL > DNF (did not finish)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I love Triple Ts

About halfway through last season, I realized that TTTs are my reason for living. Well, TTTs are at least my reason for bike racing. In anticipation of the first TTT of the season, I decided to share with the ECCC blogosphere why I love them so much.

1. TTTs operate within a controlled environment. Ok, I know the environment isn’t totally controlled. Last year at Philly we got rained on, Shane got a flat, and then a flock of geese slowed our TTT to a clipping-out halt. When I say, “controlled,” I mean that in general, there are no surprises. I know what to expect from each of my teammates in terms of speed and length of pull, how their elbows look when they wave me forward to take my pull, what their complimenting voices will sound like when I peel off the front (“good pull, Liz!” or the ever-famous “you got it, girl!”), who will take us down hill fastest, and who can lead us uphill the fastest. With all the uncertainty in bike racing, especially when one is still fairly new to the sport and is still going through the “ZOMGWTF” stage, TTTs provide the most controlled environment a bike racer can ask for.

2. Nobility. Glory. As the weakest rider in the Columbia WB quad last year, I grew to appreciate what it is to be a noble teammate and go down in glory. There something totally awesome about wasting yourself for your teammates only to have them leave you behind on the course. Last season, this moment usually came about 3/4s into the TTT. Inevitably one teammate would propose that we “pick it up a bit.” At that point, I would take my final pull, peel off, and say, “go on without me.” It’s pretty glorious to drain your tank for your teammates.

3. Team work. This one sort of goes without saying since the word “team” is in the title, “team time trial.” But, I love the teamwork involved in a TTT. As someone who is no stranger to a reverse breakaway, it’s not often that I get to work with my teammates in a mass start race. Hopefully this season I’ll be able to break out some bad-ass team moves. Until then, the best time I get to work with my teammates is in a TTT. It may sound cheesy, but being part of a team is probably half the reason I’m into cycling (the other half is because I like to measure the circumference of my calves as my legs get stronger).

4. It’s fun to win. Last year, the Columbia WB squad took fourth place at Philly, fourth place at Army, and first place at X-Pot. Taking fourth place was pretty cool, but taking first place was really cool. Seeing the four of us lined up in the Velocity Results photo was too fun. I think that little photo is motivation enough for us to kick some ass this year. So watch out WBs, the Columbia Killer Bs are back! And we’ve got a pretty fierce group of women this year.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wheelin' Around

After running around frantically for two days getting permits from 548386930458943 city agencies, plus the torrential downpour this weekend, coupled with a 5 day visit from mumsie dearest (I don't actually call her that if you were wondering), I haven't been on my bike much since the middle of last week. I don't think 15 minutes on the rollers on Monday counts. So today I really needed a hard workout. Short, fast, the kind that are perfect to do in Central Park in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

Except not. I forgot a little detail: today is the most drunken day of the year in NYC. And I happened to plan my ride right in the middle of the green zone, as the parade was making it's way along 5th Ave. While I didn't see any dishy men in skirts, I did see plenty of drunk, fat tourists walking in the middle of my lane. Not the normal type of walking in my lane where they are just oblivious to all other types of traffic, but blatant, I am drunk and I just want you to fall off of your bike-type of walking in my lane.

So, instead of waiting for my head to explode, I called it quits on the park loops and did Harlem Hill repeats for 45 minutes. Ouch.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson. Almost. But not exactly. My next task of the day was to go pick up something at Rob's down on 23rd St. The worst thing about going to Rob's is the walk. The easiest subway is the R-W. Which stops at 23rd and 5th. One then has to walk all the way past 2nd. It doesn't seem like it would be that long. But it's half the island, and takes about 15 minutes. So today, I decided to bring my skates. While riding in the park (where I get all of my brilliant ideas), I decided that it was beautiful outside and I should take my skates for a spin, since there was no way I was getting my bike down to 23rd St with all of the parade traffic. And what better way to break them out than to get from 5th to 2nd aves? Right? Wrong.

To be fair, I did get there in roughly half of the time it would have taken me to walk. But I forgot a few things about my trusty Carerras in the year or so that I have let them languish under my bed. One, they don't have any toe stops. Second, they still have figure skating wheels on them. Which are super hard and made for doing things like this (me) or this (not me) on an indoor, sealed hardwood floor, but not made for skating over pavement. Not to mention, they are $150 skates. Meaning they don't fit that well and the cushions on the plates are crap.

This story is getting a bit long, but let's just say that 15 years of roller skating is the only way that I made it through the throngs of drunkards and uneven cement on 5 blocks of 23rd Street alive. Nothing is easy in New York. That being said, now I know that all I need is some outside wheels and decent toe stops to make the crosstown bus a thing of the past.