Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cycling for Intorverts

Cycling out into the world


“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.” - S Cain

I love riding bike.  I love swimming.  I love reading.  For the most part, these are solitary or "one friend with" activities for me.  I have always called myself a social introvert.  I love seeing others and interacting with them but I love being at home in my quiet space more. 
What most people don't understand is that introverts can enjoy physical and social activities as well as any extrovert.  We just prefer it to have more substance and maybe a little less noise. 
This is why I blog.  I can say things I mean in writing better than I can in person.  So here it is.  I love biking but I am not real involved with the big, group rides.  I think some of my friends have figured this out, since I manage to get out with onesies and twosies, now and again, and really enjoy myself.  It isn't that I don't like the big group rides, I just prefer pleasant conversation and a little less dust eating. 
I am also a highly competitive person.  So I spend a lot of time in a group, stressing about whether I am doing well enough or holding up the crowd.  I either feel like a failure or I get overwhelmed by my desire to be out front.  Maybe that's why we introverts don't push into the group.  Skirting the edge is our spot. 
Either way, I am learning to accept myself.  I am learning to ride with small groups.  I am learning to let go that need to lead and enjoy the moment.  And lastly, I am learning that its OK to race home after a ride, lie in a large bath of bubbles and relive that great ride in quiet solitude.  Because that's what I do, I rehash every great moment of triumph on my bike and every piece of interesting conversation with the wonderful people that I rode with. 
Cycling is for everyone.  We just have to find a way to make it work best for ourselves. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Losing Confidence Can Be a Big Hurdle

Getting Back on the Bike



That would be me!  I look great!  All my gear matches and I am even a member of a great group of women on a team called "Tough Chik." 



What few of my team mates know is that I rarely ride my bike anymore.  Every time I get back on, I crash and have to start over.  How discouraging is that?  My latest is a very bruised (but not broken) tail bone.  Makes riding a bit rough.  I think I have lost my inner TC (touch chick).


I think I scared myself badly enough that it made me realize I was a mortal.  Now, I want to do safe things - read nothing at all - and be careful and cautious.  BUT, I love the people I met through riding and so I  still get out once in a while and consistently bonk on my rides.  I am grossly out of shape.


Can Monterey be so dull that there is no more inspiration in me?  No more spark for a great ride on the trails?  I know them so well and when I go out and ride, I can recognize our need for rain as the sand pits are getting bigger.  The dust is getting more noticeable and the poison oak is out of control.


It's time to get my body moving and back into some kind of healthy groove.  I will start with some swimming until my tail bone gets back to normal.  Maybe some running (MAYBE).  For sure some walking - I have a couple dogs to keep me moving. 


Because I started this blog to share my joy of riding and travel experiences.  I named it "Me and My Bike" for a reason.  Because I love biking that much.  We were going places, my bike and I, and having a great time.  I want that back.  That feeling of mastering a rock garden or going over a scary, super exposed section without putting my feet down.  I need that challenge back and the exhilaration of doing something I though was too hard.  Time to get back in my groove.  NO MORE EXCUSES!

Monday, April 22, 2013

I FINISHED!!! and I Wasn't LAST!!!

Sea Otter Classic XC Newbie

This race was a big one for me.  I had pre-ridden the course three times and bonked on the final rollers all three times.  I had a strategy of eating a Gu chomp every 15 minutes and water, water, water.  I also had some liquid Cytomax in my back pocket.  My goal was to finish between 2:30 and 2:45 (hours:minutes). 

The day before the race, I was so nervous, I couldn't keep food down.  I was dizzy and nauseous all day.  I kept eating in the hopes that my body would take in any nutrients possible before giving me back my meals. 

The day of the race, I was up early.  My hubby was racing at 7:00 am and I wasn't on deck until almost 10:00.  I made us breakfast and we were off.  I felt GREAT!  I kept waiting for something bad to happen but nothing did.  After the hubby took off, I did some warming up of the legs on the road behind the start line.  I still felt GREAT!  I then sat in the shade until my group was about fifth in the line-up for taking off.  As I stood at the start, and felt GREAT, I kept telling myself to race my own race.  The goal was to finish.  I reminded myself to spin my way through this as I needed to conserve energy for that final set of rollers.

Starting my first SOC Race
We took off on the race track at Laguna Seca and I edged to the rear and started to spin.  Things were going well so I upped the gear and kept spinning.  Still feeling no pressure on the legs, I upped another gear.  I started passing women while still on the track.  I kept evaluating myself and I felt so good, I upped another gear.  Still no pressure on the legs and I entered the dirt at about mid pack.

As we tooled along a gravel road to 'the wall' I was passing some and being passed by others.  I wish I had a camera at the wall because all you saw were fifty or so mountain bikers walking their bikes up this massively steep hill.  Nobody was riding this one.  My goal at this point was to keep moving even though I was walking.  It was good to know I wasn't alone in this.

After the wall, there was more gravel road and we finally hit 'Trail 49'.  I'm a local gal, so I knew this trail like the back of my hand.  I still felt GREAT!  I let my bike do the work and passed many on this one.  Got a little hung up behind a couple walkers but the trail was narrow and wasn't always easy to get by.  Then it was time to climb 'Trail 50'.  Some gals were standing at the bottom looking lost (or catching their breath) and they followed me up 50.  I chatted with them and let them know about roots, sand and steep moments.  We were passed by a bazillion 12-14 year-old kids going up this climb.

It was getting hot and I stopped to refill my water bottle at this station and threw back a Gu chomp, letting about 20+ riders go by me.  Time to go up to Pilarcitos Ridge and down Trail 22.  I have never ridden this all the way through.  I get too freaked out by all the sand and ruts.  This day, I rode all but the drop my friend Mary crashed on in our pre-ride and the sand pit at the end, otherwise known as 'The Beach'.  I still felt GREAT!  I was passed by many as I rode this section cautiously but I was still moving.  I was half way there.

Then it was time to find Trail 82. A bit of gravel and then MORE climbing.  I was starting to feel the heat and forced myself to drink water.  Somewhere in the middle of this climb, I started to get really hot.  I removed my gloves and kept drinking my water.  By half way up, I could no longer stay on my bike.  I was walking and riding and walking and riding.  I passed a bunch of other walkers but was passed by as many riders.  I was so hot!  Then my chest started to tighten.  I stopped to evaluate myself.  Wasn't asthma, was the outside of my chest, must be muscle fatigue.  I drank more water, ate another chew and continued on.  I ran out of water for the second time at the top of 82.  As we hit the road, I asked the check point for water and was told the next water station was at the top of the next hill.

I then walked  and rode my bike up the 'the rock' at the top of 'Trail 49' and the lady at the water station told me I was dehydrated and made me drink a bottle of water before refilling my bottle.  Then it was down 'Twisted Sister'.  I was leading a group down and felt a small breeze and enjoyed the shade.  I was feeling OK, but my stomach was starting to cramp from all that water.  At the bottom, I set my bike into spin mode on the dirt road and started a mantra of 'not much farther, I can do this.' 

I had forgotten about the climb up 'Ewok'.  UGH!  As I started the climb, I was soooo hot and soooo hungry and in soooo much pain (chest and stomach).  I pretty much walked all the steep parts of this trail.  I wasn't the only one.  I average this climb in eight minutes, this day it took me twelve. 

Then it was time for the long climb out.  All gravel road with rolling hills but constantly climbing back to Laguna Seca.  In my head, I had only a couple miles to go.  Even though I felt awful, I knew it wasn't much farther.  I was riding and walking the ups and riding the downs as fast as my bike would go (no brakes).  I am amazed I didn't crash since I felt so wobbly.  After a couple miles, I realized that I still couldn't see the finish yet.  They told us at the start that it was a 14.4 mile course It was really 16.2 miles.  I asked the next check point how much further and he said about 25 minutes or so.  I was deflated.  I glanced at my Garmin and realized I was still going to make my goals of 2:30 if I kept moving.  Soooo, I kept moving. 

The more I rode, the worse I felt.  I was having trouble taking in large breaths due to the pain in my chest and now my left shoulder.  I started to curl in and was constantly reminding myself to relax my shoulders.  Water, spin, look up, water, spin, look at Garmin. . .walk a bit.  Some guys on horse asked if I was OK, I came back with, "I hope so," and they moved on.  I really felt off.  I wanted to throw up and I was ready to quit.  Then I looked up and saw the tower for Laguna Seca.  I was going to finish this. 

Last hill in. . .I was now cramping badly in my stomach area.  I was doubled over my bike walking five steps, stopping, counting to 25 and then doing it again.  Even at this miserably slow pace, I was passing people that were stopped, completely, on the side of the road.  I stopped for a moment to text my husband that I was on the final climb out.  I heard him text me back but didn't look too see what he said.  It was just reassuring to know he was aware of me.  I wanted to cry but it required too much effort.

FINALLY, I has ready to descend back down into Laguna Seca.  I got on my bike and I was really shaky.  I dropped in on things I typically walk through just so I could get to the finish line.  I crashed on some rocks and was struggling to stay upright all the way down to the finish.  I heard my name as I cleared the finish line.  A glance at my Garmin 2:35, GOOD! 

Finishing my first SOC Race

I strolled another fifty feet or so, got off my bike and put my head between my knees because I was so dizzy.  This was where things got sketchy.  I remember people around me.  I remember my legs not working right.  I remember I was in a lot of pain.  I remember two ambulances.  I remember liking the men in ambulance one but not liking the women in ambulance two.  I remember freezing on my ride to the Emergency Room because I was soaking wet and they had the air conditioning on.  By the time I hit the hospital, I felt more lucid and could talk again.  I was given heated blankets and went through the usual tests:  EKG, Blood, Urine and X-ray.  Conclusion:  Heat exhaustion combined with damage to my rib muscles.  My heart leveled back to normal and I was released to go home and rest.  FINALLY, I got to eat.  Breakfast was at 6 am and my first meal after was at 4 pm.  I was STARVING!

I am thankful for all those friends at the finish line (my hubby had to tell me who):  Tom, Henri, Mary, Daphne and the hubby.  Though I wasn't conscious of who you were, I remember feeling well taken care of.  I thank you guys with all my happy, healthy heart!!! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Brains do the Thinking

Crash and Burn

Pre-ride:   On Friday, a group of MORCANs and I attempted to pre-ride the course but it wasn't set all the way up, yet.  My hubby, being familiar with these races, gave us his best guess and he pretty much got it right.  Although I hadn't ridden in several days due to a health issue, I felt pretty strong.  I had had a bad reaction to antibiotics a couple days prior and wasn't sure I would even get to race.  Still not 100% back, so leaving it to how I felt in the morning.
Race Day:  I was slow to get going and was experiencing some serious jitters.  A little cry on the way to the course seemed to settle me down.  Don't know how the hubby can put up with my prerace cry, but it's starting to become a habit for me.  I get so wound up and don't know where to send those nerves and they come out in tears.  What a wreck!
Arrived and met up with Mary and Lori.  Lori raced with me last year.  I am trying so hard to be as fast as she is.  I held on to her for two laps last race and my goal, today, was to do the same.
Me and Lori before our race, today.

Lap 1:  The start was brutally fast, today.  I had to really push hard to stay with Lori.  As we cruised through this first lap, I was stunned at how fast I was going.  About 2/3 through, I looked down at my GPS device and saw we were averaging eleven miles per hour.  I typically race around nine.  At that point, my brain said there was "NO WAY" I was going to hold this pace for three laps.  I slowed down to my own pace and told myself to race my own race.  Hard!  I really want to win one of these races some time.

I'm the one in the middle and trying to hold with these gals.

As I was completing lap one, I could hear bells behind me.  I realized my friend Mary was catching up to me.  No broken cassette for her, today.  She was going to race like she rides.  My speed or faster.  I picked up my pace a touch and when she tried to pass me, I got lucky as there was a right turn and she couldn't get around me.  I then sped up some more.  If I couldn't win, then I could at LEAST try to stay ahead of Mary.

Me and Mary coming into the first lap count.

Lap 2:  After clearing the counting corral, we had a yucky hill to climb.  Because I went out too fast at my start, and was pushing to stay ahead of Mary, I hit my wall on this hill.  I had to get off and walk it.  Mary was right on my tail, so when I got off, she stalled out and ended up walking up behind me.  At the top, I hopped back on and lost Mary.  Not sure where she disappeared to, but after our race, she said she was keeping me in her sights but staying back a bit.

Now that I was riding at my own pace, this lap felt awesome.  I was climbing with no issues and pedaling through pretty much everything.  Suddenly my kidneys started to hurt.  I had put a pedialyte packet in my water container.  Guess I won't be doing that again.  I yelled to my hubby during one of my sightings that I needed water.  I knew he would be there with a bottle at my next trip around.

As I was dropping down this little hill, I saw my daughter taking my picture.  She hadn't told me she was coming to watch and I was thrilled she came to see me race.  It added a little oomph to my stamina and I pressed on. 

Finally, I was on my last down hill run before the counting corral.  It was a pretty bumpy ride.  I remember thinking, "there is a sandy turn at the bottom of this.  I need to slow a bit and take the inside line or I might crash."  No sooner did I think crash and I was landing on my left shoulder and whacking my helmet on the ground.  OUCH!  I tried to get up and realized that I had no feeling in my left arm.  I was dizzy and nauseated.  <insert bad words here>  Then I panicked.  The tears started flowing and I was gasping for air.  I was hanging onto my bike and begging all the powers that be to NOT let my shoulder be dislocated.  Been there, done that.  Then Mary arrived.  She was able to calm me down and I was soooo glad it was her and not some insensitive guy that had to deal with my bawling.  Eventually, I was able get back on my bike.  I was embarrassed by my drama, but Mary was a great sport and rode me that last little bit to the road. 

Right before entering the counting corral, I spotted my hubby with my water.  I couldn't really grip my left handle bar and I was still pretty shaky.  I remember telling him repeatedly that I was going to finish that third lap.  I don't know who I was trying to convince, me or him.  I really wanted to finish my race.  I didn't even care if I was last any more.

I got back on my bike and pedaled through the counting corral.  To my surprise, I was told I was finished.  I looked up and Mary has stopped too.  We were pulled before lap 3.  Haven't experienced that since last season.  Looks like Mary beat me this round.  I took last.  Someone has to.

As for my arm.  It has the feeling back.  I am just incredibly bruised on my left shoulder and hip.  Don't remember the hip hitting.  I came home and washed up really good because after we ended the race, Mary was nice enough to tell me I was laying in poison oak when she found me.  PLEASE don't let me get poison oak. . .it itches like CRAZY!!!

Next race is next weekend.  I've decided to turn my brain off for it.  I let it slow me down and I let it make me crash.  Apparently brains are bad for mountain bike racing.  They think too much!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

There is Hope!

Two for Two

PreRide:  Friday's PreRide rocked.  Like my last PreRide, I made it up certain hills for the first time.  I felt Grrrrrreat!  Darn, now I was nervous again.  Should I feel this good?  Trail inventory tells me three of the most awful hills were deleted from last race and one yucky hill and a gravel, easier hill were added in their place.  This course was also longer than last time.  Deep Breath - "I can do this."
Race Time!  We pulled in a bit late and the place was packed.  I've never seen this many people before at a CCCX-MTB XC Race.  I barely had time to pay my entry fee and ride once up the road and back to warm up - not my best prep work.  I was so nervous, I was nauseated - I don't understand why I stress so much - reality is I don't want to look bad in front of all of our friends.  Not that they'd care - they're an extremely supportive group and would have found some way to make me smile no matter my skills (or lack there of).

The start!  No Mary.  <sad face>  My bestie was sick this last week and was having trouble breathing after the PreRide so, although disappointed, I was completely in agreement with her decision not to race.  As I watched all the male competitors line up, I began to realize I may be one of only a couple female riders this race.  WELL, it looks like all I had to do was finish and I was guaranteed first.  Funny as that would be, it's a bit irritating to be out there with no competition.  OOPS!  Assumed the worst and was waaaaaaay off base.  Suddenly, a bazillion women showed up at the start line.  OK, maybe not a bazillion but more than I have ever seen in these races in the past.

Then, BOOM, up to the start shimmies Lori - last year she won four out of nine races in the beginner category AND won the series.  I was bummed.  I razzed her about not moving up from beginner to sport and she explained that she didn't win more than half of last years races and wasn't required to move up.  With a sigh and a little more razzing, I accepted that I was not getting first, today.  Secretly, it was nice to see a familiar face.  I started to really look around and there were so many new faces, I felt obligated to entertain them with my wit <or bad sense of humor>.  By the time we took off, I knew the names of almost most everyone over twenty - I left out the high school and junior girls because I figured those youngsters were gonna kick my butt anyways, so I wouldn't be seeing them on the trails today.

Lap 1:  This race, we started on the road as usual, but when we jumped to single track, it was a shallow uphill ascent and then a road crossing to a steep, gravelly road climb before hitting some amazingly fun, loopy single track.  I'm no sprinter but I still felt great at the start and was about 2/3 back when we hit that first single track. 

As we crossed to that gravel road (hill), I felt awesome and charged up past a lot of people.  As I reached the top, I saw Lori.  She was as stunned as I was.  I believe her comment was, "look at you all strong and fit."  My first race error was at the top of our hill.  My lack of confidence caused me to back off and let Lori lead through the single track.  It turns out that she's strong on the uphill but she slows down A LOT on the downs.  I stuck with her through that whole, loopy zone - up hills - through sand - down bumpy, scary stuff and I realized there was hope.  I could actually win this, my body felt amazing.  I passed Lori at the next opportunity and cleared the counting corral in first by about 30 seconds.

Took this so fast, I almost got air - WHOOSH!
Lap 2:  As I charged up the next hill, I passed even more people.  I began to realize that I was embedded in all these people.  Not a typical race for me.  I was overwhelmed with the passing concept and allowed too many to slow me down while I waited for a wider passing zone.  This was my second mistake.  As I talked a young high school girl through some wicked sand and up a big hill, Lori managed to catch up to me.  As we hit the next sand pit, I was behind three people that crashed in the sand and Lori was able to skirt by us all.  I spent the rest of this lap trying to stay with her but she was more adept at passing and we cleared the counting corral about 30 seconds apart, but now with her in the lead.
Lap 3:  When you push harder than you ever have before, sometimes your body starts to complain.  My right thigh and calf started to cramp.  Then my left toes started to twinge.  I held on for another two miles and then I hit my wall...I had a sharp stitch in my side and knew that I couldn't hold Lori's pace any longer.  I let her go.  Final mistake.  I finished second behind Lori, but I was only a few minutes behind.  A few minutes that I know I can make up by passing people when I reach them, rather than slowing down to their pace until I find a really wide place.  A few minutes that I know I can make up by not allowing me to psych myself out when my body is feeling good.  A few minutes that I know I can make up because now that there is hope, I have a strong desire to WIN!!!
Two second place medals and a strong desire for a first. . .

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Faster, Fitter Me

A Whole New Year - A Whole New Race Season

Preride:  Lesson learned from last years racing season, preriding the course helps in strategy and alleviates fear.  A group of us rode the night before the race, but the course wasn't completed so we made our best guess as to where it was going to be and rode about eight miles.  My legs felt great and I was worried that I was pushing myself too hard and wouldn't do well at race time. 

Mary and I; geared up and ready to ride

"I can say that was fun, now that it is
over." -My Friend Mary 

 I was so nervous  before this race.  I got about four hours of sleep, last night.  Last year, I was in terrible shape and raced to get out of my comfort zone.  This year, I wanted to win!  OK, maybe just finish without being 20 minutes behind the female in front of me.  I had also made a new friend, Mary.  She decided to race with me.

Friendship is a scary thing.  On the one hand, I wanted us both to do our best.  On the other, I wanted to beat Mary.  I had been riding with her for the last month (over 200 miles of mountain biking - I think we said 214 miles so far) and I knew she was strong on the ups and wicked fast on the downs.  I decided to take the higher road and took her out on the course a couple times to show her hills I remembered from last year and gave her pointers I had recieved when I was a newbie.  She's a friend worth keeping.  I think this is why I was so nervous.  I didn't want to lose to Mary, but I also didn't want to beat her.  She's the first female I have ever met that is mechanically capable, like me.  She also has a passion for life I lack and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE hanging out with her.  I have laughed more in January riding with Mary, than I have in all of 2012.

Final pit stop, before the race.
The start was wicked fast.  We flew up the road and onto the first single track at over ten miles per hour.  In comparison, last year, I averaged 6 mph on my first race and 8 mph on my last.  I knew it was going to be a fast start because we were ripping down a shallow, long descent before hitting the second most evil hill in the race.  At this point I was right on Mary's back tire and praying I could hold on at this pace.  So much for riding my own race, I was out to show off my fitter, faster me and threw all my training out the window on that start.

As we headed up the first hill, I passed a couple people - a new concept for me as I am used to BEING passed.  I was back at Mary's back tire and spinning up the hill.  I told her to keep spinning as I knew this was a long, steep up and she responded but I was so busy gasping for air, I completely missed her response.  At the top, we ripped down another descent that was super bumpy, and scary for me since I crashed hard on this one, last fall.

Super bumpy descent - note:  someone is behind me, for a change
As we came through the counting corral for the first time, I felt a little calmer.  I also knew that if I didn't pull in front of my friend, Mary, I was going to lose to her.  So, I did the mean thing and pulled past her on the pavement just before hitting the single track on the other side of the road.  I then tried to calm myself.  I was still in sight of the other women when we hit the yuckiest hill on the course.  I have walked this hill so many times in my life, I can't even count.  I actually made it up for the first time at our preride.  There was hope as my heart started to beat harder and riders started to die in place.  I even passed a guy - I was shocked.  In my head, I was thinking, "Mary is right behind me, I have to get up this hill."  Then I thought, "hey, I'm keeping up with the crowd of females, now I HAVE to get up this hill."  I did and that was the last time I saw my best pal, Mary.  Unbeknownst to me, her chain popped off and she had a broken tooth on her big ring.  She rides a 2 x 10 so this meant her whole race was in her granny ring - OUCH!  Been there, done that!
Coming through the counting corral - lap 1
 This race was a ton of first for me.  First time up that evil hill I mentioned earlier.  First time not walking during lap 1.  First time getting up (and I did this both laps) this stupidly, steep bump (picture below).  I was so thrilled, I almost screamed with joy.  I was too shy for a shout so I let out my scream in a sigh and continued up yet another hill.
Stupidly, steep bump with a sharp right at the top
 As I worked my way through lap 2, I had to slow my pace and lost the gals ahead of me.  Don't know where anyone was behind me, either.  Typical race for me.  NOBODY in sight.  I knew Mary was a fast down hill rider and knowing she was strong enough to catch me, I went down hills faster than I have ever dared.  All the time I was thinking, "Mary's right behind me, I can't back down.  One mistake and she will get passed me."  If I had known she had bike problems, I would have slowed down.  I was pushing so hard, I had no extra air.  I was sweating like a pig in 52 degree weather and the salty sweat was blinding me as it dripped passed my eyes (or through them).  I continued to push.  My legs felt heavy.  I backed off and spun out the feeling then sped up the second I felt them loosen.

Last and final hill.  She was a bear.  I actually had no hill left in me and got off my bike to hike the steepest part.  My thoughts left Mary.  I was now worried that my race buddy, Lee, would see me off my bike.  Last year, it was guaranteed that the second I stepped off my bike, Lee would pass by.  I swear it.  So I started actually jogging my bike up that steep part.  No WAY was I getting caught by Lee.  I jumped back on and finished my fastest race EVER!  And I was WIPED OUT!!!

I think my look says it all.

It's all about looking the part - note my gloves
and nails match my Team Tough Chik uniform. 

I have to say, I finished in second place.  I am so thrilled!  Who would have thunk I'd ever get there?  I sure didn't have that kind of confidence.  I also know I was only a few minutes behind the first place lady, Anna.  She aged up and was sneaky about it.  I had seen her in front of me almost the whole first lap.  I biffed it on an uphill and lost her.  Not knowing she was my competition, I let her go.  I would have really pushed harder (if it was possible) had I known she was in my age category.
The best part was, Mary took third.  I got to share podium with my best pal.  I am also sure we can catch Anna before the season ends.  Mary is a strong rider and I am a stubborn one.  Between the two of us, maybe we can go one, two some day.
Best race EVER!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Race With No Pedals

Striding to the Finish Line

Sometimes, I need to be reminded why I do the things I do.  Thanks to a great guy, Jeremy, I was able to regroup and remember that life is about having fun.  So why not add a little craziness to the mix. 
While at the International Mountain Biking Association's World Summit, there was a Strider Race for adults.   Any one who has seen these bikes, know they are about 12 inches tall and not really meant for an adult.  Luckily, we got to see their new line.  Striders for kids 6-10.  It's an 18 inch high (still not meant for adults) bike with NO pedals.
Testing out the NEW Strider Junior
Obviously, I needed to race one of these.  Who wouldn't?  OK, a lot of people wouldn't, but in a moment of craziness, I signed up to do it anyways.  I was desparate to get on one ahead of time and make sure I wasn't going to kill myself before the race.  I was able to snag one about 40 minutes before and check out its stability.  BIG MISTAKE!  Now I want one of my very own.  Little kids can wait.  This thing was FUN!
I was in the last heat of races and the only female in my heat.  ARGH!  No female finished in front of the guys in any heat to this point.  Being the engineer brained person that I am, I closely observed the other races to see what worked and what didn't.  Some great wipe outs were noted at the first corner.  We had a storm earlier and there was water and leaves all over the road.
I'm the one with the white stripes on my sleaves.
Santa Fe shut down its city square for our race and when I finally hit the start line, I was ready to go.  My goal was to get out front for the first turn and then haul booty around that block.  My start was great but so was the guy's next to me.  In an effort to hit that corner hard and fast we banged up against each other.  I could only push with my left foot as my coordination wasn't great but he was on my left and we were leaning on each other trying not to crash.  I was terrified to do anything but lean back and pray for NO WIPE OUT!

Luck was on my side for not crashing but it cost us both to be tangled up like that and I hit the first turn in about 4th place out of the six of us in my heat.  I gave it all I had and by the second turn, I was exhausted.  Gasping for air is a nice way of describing how I felt up in that high altitude city and I was passed by the rest of the racers.  DARN IT!  I don't want to finish last.  I need to represent the girls.  I kicked my foot harder and caught up to the guy in front of me.  As we cleared turn three we were neck and neck.
Turn 3:  We were going so fast, we appeared like ghosts
in the camera eye - there is actually a guy on a red bike
right next to me (behind me in the shot)
Unlucky for him, he went wide and I was able to squeeze ahead by hiting the turn as tighly as I could.  I was wiped out and still had a block and a half to go.  I sat on my seat for a moment and rallied my lungs.  As we hit the last turn we were still neck and neck.  It was gonna be a photo finish if one of us didn't do something.  I decided that muscle failure wasn't an option and started kicking with everything I had left.  YAY, I finished 5th of six strider racers in my heat and I was able to represent the gals by not finishing last. 
Perhaps I have a future in racing after all.  I just need the races to be shorter and without pedals.