June Thoughts

It’s June and I’m already thinking cross season! While the weather is good for outside riding now, long term will see me back inside on the CompuTrainers at Spin-Tech Training to get the most effective training in for racing. I should be focusing on mountain biking and getting as much racing experience in cross country as I can. But when I think about riding, my mind just flows along to cyclocross. I can’t help it. I love it so much! And then of course, there’s the wanting the things that you can’t have right now. I guarantee you, in the cold winter days of cross I’m dreaming of sunny warm mountain bike rides!

It’s been just over a month since I graduated. It was astonishing how much excitement and support other people had for me! I’m truly grateful to everyone who has encouraged me, dealt with my weird schedule, believed in me and inspired me! So after all that excitement was over, I was left feeling a little lost. Graduation day was THE day I’ve been working towards for over 5 years. Suddenly, it came and then was gone! When something has been such a driving force for so long, it’s weird not to have it there anymore. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans and goals. It was more of a re-adjustment, a reveling in my achievement and then moving on! It’s still so weird that I don’t have assignments looming, or have to balance my work tasks with school tasks. All of that will return soon enough however. In mid-August I start my graduate studies in the North Carolina State University online master’s program for recreation. I’m really excited, nervous of course, but mostly just eager to start the next step in my professional education.

We kicked off the first short track race of the series two weeks ago with 60 racers, kids-cat 1. It was awesome seeing something that I’ve wanted and worked for come to life! The next race will be this Wednesday, and I’m excited for the all the ways that I can grow and improve the series. It really wouldn’t have been as easy without the help of Sycamore Cycles, Donnie in particular. If you’re in Hendersonville, make sure to stop by their shop.

Sunday I’m heading down to the Tiger Rag cross country race in Clemson. I’m excited to see what it’s like to get back into cross country racing. It’s been about 9 months since nationals at this point…that’s a long time! My expectations aren’t that high, my goal is to go race, have a good time and see where I end up! I wish there were more cross country races in the WNC. Here we’re inundated with mega races, endurance races, stage races. Most cross country races take place far far away from Asheville. Maybe that’ll have to be the next race series I start!

The rest of my summer looks pretty much the same…racing here and there. I think I’m going to try more road racing with the French Broad Classic…not sure if that’s a good idea or not! Way to jump into it! But hey, that’s what summer without school is for: riding as much as possible!

 

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Celebration Racing

So a large part of my life during the past five years has been centered on my education pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in recreation. Well, that time has finally come to end, and I’ve completed my undergrad! Graduation is tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited! So, what better way to celebrate not only the end of a semester (a huge relief in of itself) and the end of my undergrad than with a race?!

One type of racing that seems to get overlooked in this area is short track cross country races (hence the Summer Series at Jackson Park this summer!). Last year I did notice a once a month race series in Greenville, but only after the series had ended. The initial Greenville Short Track Series 2013 race was last night, so I registered and headed down. I was a little worried as I drove through heavy rain and thunder storms, but thankfully the bad weather was no where in sight when I got to the Riverbend Equestrian Park.

After checking in and getting my number, I pre-rode the course. It was mostly wooded singletrack, with some gravel and grass sections. From what I heard, the course was just under a mile long. There were a couple climbs that would make each lap fun, but I was feeling focused and ready to race! Since I’m a collegiate A, my normal racing license puts me as a Cat 1 in cross country, short track and downhill. Needless to say, I’m usually in the bottom of the field when competing with Cat 1’s and 2’s. But I look at it as even more motivation to train hard!

Short Track  May 9

There ended up being 3 women, including myself, and about 10-15 guys in the expert/pro field. From the start it was super close! I had a rough start, but soon got on the wheel of Nina as we started into the woods. We three women ended riding together for at least half of race, with me in the front (climbs are were I get my pass on!), until Nina attacked and was out of there! Cat, a rider from Clemson who I recognized from collegiate races stayed right with me until the end, driving me to not let up and keep my 2nd place position. I felt strong on my climbs, and really can tell that my recent workouts at Spin-Tech Training are making me stronger and faster.

There was a little confusion at the end, where they yelled “finish” but neither of really understood. Just to be sure, we did another lap with Cat taking the hole shot into the woods and holding her position for the remainder of the lap.

Since there were 3 of us, we all got prize money! Getting a payout is still really exciting for me!

I really liked this race since it was so close. Even when Nina was ahead of me I could see her which kept me going as hard a possible to try and catch up. I’m really not used to 1) being in the front of the women’s field for so long or 2) having such a close race! Usually I’m there in the middle/lower middle of the field all by myself, just pedaling along. It was really exciting to have to give it everything I could to make sure I kept my spot.

I did learn a couple things last night: the better your technical skills and line choice, the faster you’ll go. And don’t stop pedaling! I’ll also be working on my starts.

 

All in all, it was more fun and better than I expected! Plus, I got to wear my snazzy Beer City Bicycles kit! Can’t wait for my next race!

October

So it’s October. I know fall officially starts in September, but a part of me doesn’t acknowledge that fact until October has begun. October is also a bittersweet month for me. It holds so many anniversaries that take me to memories and recollections. Today especially. Today, October 3rd is my mom’s birthday. October also marks my parent’s anniversary, my mother’s diagnosis, and her death. I’m always holding her memory in my heart, sharing my triumphs and my trials, remembering her lessons and strengths, but this month brings everything to the forefront. It’s also so pretty out, with nature in full regalia and the mountains fantastically majestic, and all that compounds my joy and sorrow throughout the month.

Mommy and Me

Sometimes I don’t feel very far removed at all from the girl I was five years ago and who I am now. In many ways I’m doing the same things and moving towards the same goals. I want to share the exciting things in my day with my mother and ask her advise. I think that’s the thing I miss the most–having that person to go to who knew the answers on how to can vegetables, or sew a quilt or prepare tasty cheap meals. 20 years was not long enough to learn from her, and my heart hurts for my siblings who had even less time.

So today and every day, I miss you, Mommy. I’m still learning and growing and my dreams are coming true. I hope you can see that.
Happy birthday and rest in peace.

Spring-a-ding-dong

Whew! What a year it has been! I always feel like the year begins and ends with the school schedule. Perhaps that’s merely an artifact of being in school for 17 out of my 23 years. So, now that the stress of finals is over and I’ve had time to expand, unwind, and be a lazy-face for a bit, I’m giving you the highlights of my junior year!

August

  • Started junior year at Mars Hill College! Getting to that point in my education had been a goal for a long time, and I was super excited to be there!

September

  • First mountain bike race EVER in my life in GA for Mars Hill Cycling. I was so excited and ready for it (which proved I was doing the right thing) and podiumed in my first short track and cross country races.

October

  • First Cat A mountain bike races at our home races.
  • Collegiate MTB Nationals in Angel Fire New Mexico! We got 5th as a team and had an amazing time despite the freak snowstorm and rough conditions. It was some of the hardest, yet most personally rewarding racing that I’d done during the mountain bike season.

 

  • First Cyclocross Race! Thanks to the Magnificent Frank from the always raved about Spin-Tech, I got to finally race the discipline that long ago inspired me to one day be awesome and ride bikes!

November

  • North Carolina Cyclocross Grand Prix. This is where it started years ago, so getting to race in my hometown in the races that started it all was incredible. I can’t wait for next year!

December

  • End of my first semester at Mars Hill with a 4.0 gpa and Dean’s List award!

January

  • USAC Cyclocross Nationals in Madison WI! I think this is the highlight of my year! It was amazing being surrounded by so many riders of all levels, as well as sharing the goal for first place with the team. I rode to my best finish of the season in 7th, in a nationals race! It was really exciting helping the team get one the podium as national champions!
  • Start of the spring semester at Mars Hill College. I was really excited since I was taking recreation classes at last! Not really excited about the 19 credit hours and 7 classes, but ready to tackle it!

February-March were full of schooling, taking a break from riding, and trying to start training for road in a very crowded schedule.

April

May

  • End of the semester and my junior year with 3.8 gpa and Dean’s List again! Officially a senior!
  • Celebrated 4 years of marriage with Kyle! I’m so grateful for him and happy that he’s my man.

 

And that’s about it! I’m enjoying readjusting to a regular work schedule and relaxing after full and busy school year. I’m excited to start focusing on mountain biking again, racing a couple of times this summer and then heading into collegiate mountain bike season strong and ready to dominate. It’s nice getting to ride with Kyle again and spend time together. He’s awesome. I’m looking forward to all this summer brings!

Just a Quickie

No, I have not ridden off the edge of some precarious singletrack in Pisgah. I have been instead navigating the immense load of school projects, trying to continue my road training (not doing too well on that. More about that later I’m sure) and booking hours for my field work experience. I sometimes feel like I’ve never been so stressed and frantic in my life before, but I’m a student, I have been and will be again. That’s okay. The most I can do is put my head down, work hard, and do my best. At the advise of my mentor, I’m trying to prioritize what really deserves my attention and energy, and base my performance on that. It’s hard, I want to do it all and do it all well. But it has been so relieving letting myself concentrate on the things that I feel are priority. Currently, it’s my major course work (accounting class and training are taking a back seat). With four out of six classes being major classes, that is taking a lot of time. Part of that is time spent on my field work (about 10 hours a week) at the YMCA. I’m really enjoying it, but I do miss having those hours available for studying or training.

But, this is just a season, and I expect to emerge smarter at some point.

2012 Goals

I love new years, birthdays, changing of the seasons, marked transitions like graduations and such. For me, all of those events serve as a refocus and evaluation of what I’m doing, what I want to do, who I am, my qualities, failures, flaws, and inspirations. And if 2011 serves as any indicator, 2012 is going to be amazing!

My biggest goals for 2012 definitely revolve around cycling for the most part. After all the fun and accomplishment I’ve had this fall, I’m charging on to bigger things (better fitness, skills, results) in 2012.

Academically, I’m motivated and excited about what 2012 will bring and of course am aiming to maintain my 4.0 gpa (oh yeah baby!).

Personally, I want to keep growing, learning to love and give, work hard, do my best and continue to nurture the qualities and values that matter to me.

So that’s it in a nut shell. If you’re curious about the specifics, keep reading. But if not, I’ll get over it.

  • Race 1-2 Charlotte Winter Short Track Races
  • Race 1-2 Charlotte Summer Short Track Races (as part of training for fall mtb season)
  • Top 10 finishes in cross county and short track in fall collegiate mtb season, as well as at Nationals
  • Do dual slalom, 4X, and downhill gravity events at collegiate level
  • 4.0 GPA Spring and Fall Semesters
  • Attempt five 5k’s (only as supplement to cycling training, spring/summer)
  • Top 10 finishes in collegiate cyclocross
  • Race 2-3 NCCX series races (includes NCGP), with top 15 finishes
  • Make something every week (bake, cook, whatevs)
  • Take multi-vit on the daily!
  • Simplify

Marriage

I know this is a departure from my usual cycling rhetoric, but I read this poem today. It really expresses the reasons I’m married. Married not just to have a companion, but to be also whole within myself and bring my best self possible into our partnership. To have someone who knows the worst and the best of me, and who I can be confidant in.

I love that Kyle and I are such separate entities, each with our interests, behaviors, friends. And yet, at the end of that day, he’s my partner for life, I want to love him forever, and share cuddles every night.

Marriage
By Mari Nichols-Haining

Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person,
With all my heart, my soul, my mind, my body…

 Because I need a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of me,
Who won’t hold them against me,
Who loves me when I’m unlikable,
Who sees the small child in me, and
Who looks for the divine potential of me…

Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night
With someone who thanks God for me,
With someone I feel blessed to hold…

Because marriage means opportunity
To grow in love in friendship…

Because marriage is a discipline
To be added to a list of achievements…

Because marriages do not fail, people fail
When they enter into marriage
Expecting another to make them whole…

Because, knowing this,
I promise myself to take full responsibility
For my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness I create me,
I take half of the responsibility for my marriage
Together we create our marriage…

Because with this understanding
The possibilities are limitless.