Ashevegas Redemption

Cyclists spend so much time focused on numbers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an amatuer, pro, fast or slow.  Most of us are constantly training for something…even if it’s just to compete with ourselves.  “Hey man, what’s your data for yesterday’s ride?”  Garmin this.  Strava that.  Power tap…my ass.  I’ve only had use of a data gadget for about two weeks now.  While they are necessary for proper training, I must admit how nice it is to ride without all the beepity bullshit. 

 
(Mind you, I’m currently uploading my data for Coach Aaron)
 
With that being said, today was one of those “have-fun-but-still-get-my-workout-in” rides.  Yes, I wore the Garmin, but with no intentions of killing myself just to play catch up.  After last week’s Bays Mtn performance, I just wanted to remember why I started mountain biking in the first place.  Because IT’S FUN.
 
Me and the bro went to Bent Creek outside of Asheville, NC.  I had never played in this area and was looking forward to doing so after a tough work week.  We met up with a couple Ashevillians (Stephen “Trips for Kids” Janes and Tom tha Damager) and headed out for what would be one of my favorite days in the woods in a VERY LONG TIME.
 
The first climb was a total sufferfest for me.  Super steep mtb climbing makes my vomit chamber unhappy.  I DID NOT puke…I only wanted to.  To be short and sweet…today was full of single-track, technical climbing, swoopy downhill and all around epic goodness. 
 
And this shop kitty did NOT crash.  I repeat.  SHOP KITTY DID NOT CRASH.  Take that, suckas.
 
Finally, the rollercoaster ride starts going up again.  I needed today like a crackhead needs a crack pipe.  I felt like I had skills again…rode some great lines.  I also picked some real shit-eating lines and managed to make the best of them.  I didn’t feel the need to smash the pedals all day long, but still did some serious work.  I’m a content, happy Megan.  I performed well today.  There is hope for me once again.
 
In the words of Stephen Janes, “This should get you through until AT LEAST Tuesday.” 

Post ride recovery

 

 
 
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The Lone Ranger

 
 
Have you ever wanted something so bad, so terribly bad, that it breaks your heart in two?  I’m not talking about someone of the opposite sex or a dream job.  I’m not even talking about something material, like a car.  What I’m referring to is much deeper…raw even.  Have you ever worked so hard to get “somewhere” and feel you’ve failed miserably? 
 
I finally rode my mtb for the second time since CX season started.  I’ve dropped the ball on keeping up with my 3x a week mtn rides.  Cross has taken over my life, but I should have been giving myself at least one day a week to train on the 29er.
 
Anyway, I was excited to ride with my friends, but my excitement soon turned into dry heaving…soon followed by the rush of disappointment.
 
Cue heartbreak now.
 
In my defense, I’ve been considered a “cyclist” since July of this year.  I don’t even count my first road bike in 2006 nor my two sucky-ass DH seasons in California.  I’ve been consistently riding since July.  5 months.  You can’t even fully develop a newborn in some chick’s uterus in 5 months.  Does that make me feel any better…not really.
 
The fire of competition in my soul is so hot it burns even me.  I don’t know where I got this blessing/curse, but I can remember being so upset about losing a basketball or volleyball game in HS that it made me cry.  Furious crying resembles break-up crying.  Break-up crying is just ugly.  It’s pretty awful to watch.  Thank God no one has that shit on video.
 
I spent most of my mtb ride busting ass to catch up to my friends.  So much ass busting that I had to pull over and dry heave.  My heart rate never got above 160, which blew my mind because I felt hellaciously awful.  The downhills were fun…they always are.  My technical skills don’t suck so much, but my motor can’t keep up.
 
I’m admitting to the world that I spent the entire drive home crying my eyes out.  I don’t know if it was the stress from not sleeping all week, work stress or bike stress.  Most likely a combination of all three.  Shit.  I’m cougar-aged and a mtb ride made me cry.  WTF.
 
I need to remember how this feels when I don’t feel like training.  Sucking sucks.  Heartbreak sucks.  Why do you think I have been single for so long?  I’ll sacrifice loneliness to save my heart from getting crushed, but I refuse to sacrifice my cycling goals for the same.  I just have to press forward and let this be a building block for future endeavors.  I will survive.  I will overcome.  I can’t be slow forever…I hope I’m right about this one.
 
On the bright side, I climbed a bunch of crap I’ve not been able to on previous rides.  While slow, I managed to ride ’em out…no stopping…no hike-a-bike.  Ok, so I had to hike my bike after the near-vomiting…whatev.  50 yards of hiking isn’t bad considering I was hiking nearly 80% of all mtb climbs in August.
 
My legs are trashed, my emotions are worn out and my heart is on the mend.  Today was another “training ride” that I will come to appreciate when I have a cycling breakthrough.  And there WILL be a breakthrough.  I’ve been crushin’ pedals too hard to become a failure. 
 
“The only failures are those too afraid to tow the line.”

Live now. Die later.

My two loves together as one
 
 
As some of you might recall, I started this blog in February as a training journal for my first half marathon.  I was a “runner” then and very determined to make running my jam.  Unfortunately, I have a serious mechanical defect that prevents me from running well and keeps me injured most of the time.  The mechanical defect being my entire lower body…I wasn’t created to run long distance.  The injury being my IT band.  I hated the act of running but loved the high I felt afterwards.  On May 5th, 2012 I ran my first half marathon…and most likely my last. 
 
After a long hiatus and new motivations in my life, I decided to bring the blog back.  It has since become a way to live out loud.  I can put my sarcastic, pessimistic spin on life and bitch about it however I please.  Every now and then I make people laugh.  This blog has been an amazing outlet for my hopes, fears and everything in between.  Most recently I’ve used it as a way to journal my latest conquest…cyclocross.  Rarely, I use it to document life as it happens…and unfortunately for you poor souls, tonight is one of those nights.
 
I had a job interview today which ended up being a total waste of my time.  This opened up my cynical side for a few hours of deep thinking.  Even after two degrees and countless jobs in every field possible, I still have no clue what I want to do.  Money has been a big issue lately and I’ve been losing sleep over taking my current job as a full-time position.  I would take an hourly pay cut but have benefits.  Sounds like a winner, right?  Not really.  Paramedics in Tennessee don’t make any money.  In fact, we make less than UPS drivers and most definitely have more responsibility.  I knew what I was getting into when I decided to do this, but it still blows my fragile little mind.
 
For real though…wtf am I doing?  The free spirit inside me says, “keep it real, girl!”  She lives in the present moment and doesn’t fret about the past or the future.  Life is raw, decisions are made solely on feeling and happiness is the key.  The financially lacking worrier inside me says “you need benefits!”  This is the part of my soul I could drown on a daily basis.  She constantly worries about money and all the other bullshit that comes with it.  She is also the crazy bitch that internally pressures me to settle down.  She really stresses me out.
 
I dropped out of college to go on tour with Widespread Panic in 2002.  I moved to Boone and spent many wonderful years on ski patrol, living the college town/ski bum life.  I moved to Mammoth Lakes and lived a western life as a snow bum/climber/dh mtb’er/coffee shop hipster/car-livin’ free spirit.  I was devastated when my mother died and I moved back to Tennessee.  Lately I’ve realized my free spirit isn’t so free anymore. 
 
I hear people say things like, “That’s just part of it.  You grow up, get old and crap happens.”  But is it really?  I’m going to throw the bullshit card now…don’t hate.  I’m not buyin’ it. 
 
I’ve been doing some serious soul searching over the last few months.  On one hand, I love my bachelors degree and the field it’s in.  On the other hand, I love emergency medicine and sacrificed a lot to obtain my paramedic license.  Why can’t I find a balance?  I don’t expect to be rich and never had the idea I would be…I just want to be at peace with it all.
 
Peace.  That’s all I’m looking for.
 
I’m putting the “feelers” out and looking for ways to put my knowledge and education to good use.  If I could just figure out how to incorporate my bicycle into the equation…
 
Be here now.  Live in the present moment.  Repeat after me…
 

Now serving confidence hand-ups!

Yes kids, it’s been a while.  I slacked after Cincy3 and failed to post ANYTHING.  The week was a total bust and my performance was less than stellar.  I took a week to gather my thoughts and work my ever-loving ass off.  I got home from Cincy around 1am Monday and had to be at work 7 hours later.  I pulled off 48 hours of work in 3 days…one of which was my birthday.

Soo, I guess I should say a few words about the Cincy3 festival.  Well, it was hard.  I don’t have a lot to say about Saturday because I sucked big ones.  I didn’t come in last which is an accomplishment considering it was the biggest field of sandbaggers I’ve ever seen 😉  But seriously, those Ohio Valley 4’s are FAST!

Cincy3 flyover
Sunday was COLD and frost-covered.  My head blew a gasket after pre-ride.  I was so far up my own ass I couldn’t see straight.  I was terrified and torn to pieces over a stupid off-camber section.  I’ve ridden harder stuff on my mountain bike, but I couldn’t rationalize anything.
 
Boy am I glad I decided to race this one!
 
Although my soul was sucked dry and I was ready for the Jesus bus to come, I had a good race.  I was next to last, but raced my heart out for position.  The best part of the race was my epic crash…
Hmm, something looks fishy here…
Long story short…
I was taking the inside line in a turn because I didn’t want the girl behind me to pass.  I took it a tad too sharp, started to go down, tried to push myself back up using one of the stakes, I went over the handlebars, stake bent to the ground…
This is the moment when I made a terrible decision.  I thought the stake had cracked at the base, so I let go.  Bad move.
 
Ever had a gun go off right in your ear?  Course stakes sound pretty close to the same thing as they smack you across the face.  I just knew I had knocked my teeth out.  I immediately stood up, grabbed my bike and ran through the “camel hump” section.  I screamed like a little piggy and cried like a big baby.  I screamed in tears asking my friend if I was bleeding…
 
“Tony!! Am I bleeding?!”
“No Megan, you’re ok.  Just go.  You’re ok!”
 
I cried for half a lap as I pedaled my brains out.
 
I had all my teeth, beat the girl who crushed me on Saturday and had a bruised imprint of a course stake across my jaw.  Good day of racing, I say!
 
And I heckled Jr. Elites like a boss!
 
Did I mention our pit area was next to Katie Compton?
 
J-Willy, Katie, Grace (the crusher), and myself

 
 

 

Fast forward to this past weekend.  USGP Louisville!
 
Spending a nice Fall morning sucking wind and pushing 190 bpm
 
What does a girl do when she’s 10 races into her first CX season?  She goes to the USGP and prepares for the apocalypse!!  Most people race a few seasons before they attempt something like the Lou.  I have a sick addiction to pain, so I figured it would be a good experience if nothing else.
 
Friday.  Pre-ride.  I made it half a lap before I came to a screeching hault.  180 degree turn into a sketchy off-camber section into a steep, rutted downhill into a steep uphill into a steep downhill into a steep, rutted uphill.  You following me?!  It sounds easy and seems even easier on a mtb.  I was about to crap my pants…or cry…wasn’t sure which at this point.  I made many attempts to ride into this section but gave up and went back our pit. 
 
“I can’t believe I paid money to race this weekend.  What was I thinking?”
 
After pouting and feeling discouraged for a bit, I decided to give it another go.  I forced myself to figure it out.  I tried to imagine being on my mtb.  I squeezed my butt cheeks together and held my breath…and rode that shit.  I had to tripod around the turn, but I rode it.  I was fully prepared to run this section during the race due to all the Cat 4 carnage, but never had to.  I rode past girls laying on the ground and flew by girls walking their bikes down the hill.  For once I felt like a bad ass. 
 
 
I fully expected to be last, but to my astonishment I was 11/17.  Best race of my very short CX career!  I rode hard, tested my ability, surpassed my expectations and actually finished before a handful of other chicks.  I was full of joy and very proud of myself. 
 
Longest.sandpit.ever.  Sucked out my soul.  I actually had vomit coming up by lap 3.  I rode the short one, ran the long one.  I was suicidal in the sand.  I felt like dropping to the ground and making sand castles. 
 
The stare
My teammates killed it too!  In spite of mechanicals, Tony Williams had a strong finish in men’s Cat 4 and Grace Bishop is now known as “The Crusher”.  Mike Stewart brought his A game too…does he have any other game?  I don’t think the man has a B game.  Everyone represented the Dirty South very well!
 
And thanks for the birthday surprise…
 
 
I had a goal of breaking the top 10 on Sunday, but my legs were toast.  Running the long sand pit wore me down pretty fast.  I managed to hold 13th place in spite of crashing through the fence before the concrete stairs.  The field was so damn fast! 13/15 is respectable in my eyes, all things considered.
 
And the CX Gods said,
“LET THERE BE HECKLING!”
 
And it was good…
 
Silent heckling Katerina Nash
 
 
 
I made a few friends along the way…
 
Tim Johnson:  Thanks for being a good sport and taking my heckling while using the port-o-potty.  You’re a super rad dude.
 
Yannick Eckmann and the California Giant Cycling Team:  I DO love your berries!  I’m glad I could make each of you chuckle in the midst of pain.
 
J-Pow:  Even the man in front gets crap.  Just because you’re fast, doesn’t mean you’re too good for my megaphone.  We love you!
 
Ryan Trebon:  It took me two weeks, but I finally made you crack a smile.  I can die a happy girl now.
 
Ben Berden:  I know you think I’m a crazy American girl.  I am.
 
Katie, Georgia, Katerina:  It made my day when you guys actually laughed DURING your race.  Silent cheering always makes the pain go away.
 
Adam Myerson:
 
What can I say?  You’re the man.  I also think it’s pretty rad that you haven’t ripped out your earrings during a race.  Of course, you can actually ride a bike and most likely spend more time on it rather than on the ground.  I have yet to master this.
 
Jimbo and the Shamrock crew:
Yes, I stole this from your Facebook.  Thanks Shamrock!
Thanks for the inspiration.  The megaphone is the best invention ever.  You guys are hysterical and I look forward crossing paths in the future.  Hit up the MSG crew if you’re ever down this way!
 
 
My little dude, Cade:
 
One day you’re gonna make it big.  When this cougar gets really old, you’ll be making money and smacking bitches.  I will sell your childhood autograph and make my retirement.  I am a paramedic and we make shit money…you’re welcome.
(But seriously, you’re a cute kid)
 
I can walk away from this past weekend with confidence.  Yes, I still suck…but much less than I did a month ago.  Cincy3 and the USGP have taught me more than I thought possible.  I can almost call myself a cyclocross racer.  Maybe I’ll actually be good by the time I hit the women’s masters class.  I’m not too far away….meow!
 
 
 
 
 


Two Steps Forward and 10 Years Back

 
I’m back.  You can’t get rid of me that easy.  I’m a fighter.  I’m antsy.  I gotta spill my heart over lavender candles and an eccentric musical play list. 
 
Last week was a glimpse into my previous life as a train wreck.  No…I never totally rid myself of my emotional tendencies…but I have learned how to cope.  At least I thought I did until, well, last week.
 
I woke up Saturday morning with a hopeful heart and eagerness to hang with my CX family.  I packed up the car and began to make my way to Farmhouse.  My happiness was short lived and I lost my motivation somewhere between Gray and Unicoi.  I arrived with coffee in hand and zero desire to race.  I was also exhausted from my extremely busy work week.  That combination alone is enough to squash any and all motivation one might have to wake up early and suffer on a bicycle.  I was doomed from the start.
 
After a few cat naps under the easy-up and a conversation with inner child, I attempted to cheer up.  Something just didn’t feel right.  I wasn’t my super strong, happy self.  In fact, I was feeling more like my former self.  The 21-year-old super sappy, nothing-will-ever-be-ok, life sucks, I’m so depressed and desperate-for-something, grumpy self.
 
And everyone noticed.
 
I thought my race might make things better.  The backside of the course was like a dream and I had hopes of finishing in the top 4.  After the first lap (per my usual) I was fully aware that I was going to suck.  I tried to make a few moves to salvage any hope of not being last.  I managed to stay ahead of two other girls.  I didn’t even come close to podium.  Cue emotional break down….now…
 
I took a moment to sit in the grass and get some sort of oxygen flowing back to my brain…I felt AWFUL.  Once I could feel my face, I quietly pushed my bike back to the car and took a seat in the front.  I tried to hold back my tears, but it was apparently my time to cry.  I sipped my recovery drink as I let my emotions flow.  My week had finally come to an end.
 
I’m not sure of the exact moment I discovered the microphone…
It’s amazing what a blonde wig, a tutu and a PA system can do for one’s mental health.  I began to announce the mountain bike race.  I started heckling people in the crowd.  I could hear people laughing.  I felt the doom and gloom lifting.  This was redemption.
 
 
And then it was time to visit my old stomping ground…BOONE!
I drove up that afternoon to spend the night with the amazing Shaw and Sarah Brown.  These two have held a special place in my heart of hearts for years.  The Boone Town Throw Down was on the docket for Sunday and I just knew if nothing else, Boone would cheer me up.  Good lord…did it ever!
 
Nothing but the best entertainment at The Brown House

My very special CX pumpkin!

Podium girls



Some very special old and new friends on the ASU bus

Thanks to Kris Bedsaul (AVLCX) for capturing this amazing action shot!
 
Showing the brains behind NCCX some podium love!
Race #7 of my CX career was definitely my best performance.  I felt good, I rode smart and I had a blast.  I think I could have gone a little harder in some areas, but overall I am pleased.  The Cat 4 class was the biggest I’ve experienced at 24 riders.  I was 17th…which isn’t good…but sometimes it’s not about winning.  I know some of you might disagree…but opinions are like assholes….
 
Spending time in Boone reminds me of how much I loved living there…always hard to leave.  Thanks to Sarah, Shaw and the entire Boone crew for the hospitality.  You guys are too kind!
 
 
 
So how do I work on myself?  Well, as far as my cycling is concerned, I now have a coach.  I sat down with Aaron Casey this afternoon and discussed my plan for the next year. 
 
I want to be faster.
 
I want to race road.
 
I want to ride my mtb.
 
I want to take my sprinting strength to the next level.
 
I want to maintain threshold for more than 1 lap.
 
I want to compete for podium rather than trying not to come in last.
 
I want to SMASH the CX circuit next year.
 
I honestly see potential in these little legs…just need help getting there.  I think if I focus on my ultimate goals and am willing to sacrifice the filler, I can do this.  I have a supportive crew that will see me through and my determination is explosive.  I simply need to keep my head on straight and resist the urge to fall into my own personal traps. 
 
I’ve heard a few people make comments like,
“Aren’t you a little old for this?”
“Really? Cycling coach?”
“Why do you need to race your bike? Can’t you just enjoy riding it?”
Well…no, I’m not too old. 
And…YES.  A cycling coach.  Accountability is always good.
And lastly…I can enjoy riding my bike.  But it feels good to kick someone else’s ass…and being last sucks.
 
I’m still dealing with some other demons in my personal life.  There are also a few question marks in my career making me a little uneasy and confused. 
 
On the bright side, Cincy3 is this weekend.  I’m hoping this will be a great cure for the blues. 
 
My name is Megan…and I like to ride my bike till I puke.