Even if I had chosen to ride with my camel back instead of a single water bottle I probably would have suffered just as equally in another way of bodily harm. It was the first collegiate race of the season; I had to place top 5 among some of the best cross-country riders in the northern part of California. I thought I had this in the bag. Evidently I was in for a surprised after the first 5-mile climb.
The night before a teammate Jake and I had rolled into Chico, California around 8 pm. The drive was horrendous. Jake being an engineer and myself not understanding science one bit, lead to a missing link in our communication. I know I was in for a really interesting trip when we pulled into the first gas station and he said “your job is going to be to check the oil”, trying to think of a quick excuse in my head “Um, I don’t know how to” as I opened the passenger car door and quickly shuffled my little feet into the gas station “We can do it when you come back out!” he yelled after me. Baby Jesus puuuuuuuuhhhhlease save me. I am going to need a cup of coffee to stay awake for this ride…or maybe I shouldn’t that way I fall asleep because I am so bored and then I won’t have to listen to him talk about the physics of biking. Ugh! As a nice gesture I grabbed Jake some coffee too. I walked back two cups of hot coffee in hand, a bag of M&M’s and a Gatorade. “Here Jake” I handed him a coffee, “oh wow that was nice of you. Did you put anything it in?” “Anything like what?” As I thought I should have, something gross like salt or something in the condiment station for the hot dogs that the truckers come in and grab, he would have probably never known until he got down to the end of the cup! “No, I like mine black, sorry!” He walked off in a huff, perfect if I get on my phone he won’t be able to make me check the oil; plus I knew that if I was able to get a hold of my mom fast enough than I could tell her about how the first 5 minutes of our drive have gone and what the next two-hours have in store for me. Voicemail great, well if I leave something that makes me sound desperate she’ll call me back stat “Ah hello! Mom, you are very going to guess what I am dealing with right now!??! Now, don’t get me wrong he is a nice kid and everything, but remember Jake? The one that fit my bike? Yah well he is a complete science nerd and I totally don’t understand what he is saying! He wants me to perform science experiments like check the oil and crap! Savvveeee me! Um, but here he comes so call me back! Love you!” With my luck she was already in bed since it was about 9 o’clock east coast time. Hum, whom could I call next? My little sis! Voicemail again “Hey Sar, its sissy! Call me!”. It was like I was running through my phone list trying to avoid talking about the next scientific thing on our road trip agenda.
Two hours later and a lot of talk about watt conversion for race training, what “green” really meant in science terms, not the actually movement that we find ourselves participating in, and learning about his new science nerd girlfriend we arrive! Oh thank god! The next hump I had to get over was talking to strangers. We were invited to camp in the backyard of the president of Chico states bike team’s back yard. Oh joy, I hate camping! Yuck, I am going to smell and look like death on race day. Good thing I am not trying to impress these people with my looks, just with my ass kick on my bike skills.
We were lead to the backyard and dealt with turning off the sprinklers. I struggled with putting up the tent I borrowed from my roommate; generally at bike races I stay in a hotel or a condo so I can stick with my pre-race routine. Paint my nails a tone of pink, eat a yummy carb loaded dinner, watch a chick flick, and get a good night of sleep so I can wake up and do my hair and makeup before I go out and kick some major ass. I could already tell that there were going to be some major flaws in my pre-race routine because I was sleeping A) outside B) in a tent and there was no TV. While Jake was off doing whatever he does I sat in a chair on the deck correcting an English paper, I felt like something was looking at me, I peered up from my corrections and there was a giant raccoon. He looked at me with a snarl and a paw in the air. I lifted my feet off the deck thinking this would actually do something and shook my paper at the rabies filled, trashing munching burglar. It scampered off under the deck, oh fabulous now I have to deal with that thing under the deck all night.
“We are waking up at 6 am,” Cody, who had just arrived announced to all the rest of the team who now joined Jake and I in a tent-building brigade. “PIT I will wake you up in the princess palace, Jake I’ll kick you and the rest of you are in charge of walking up yourselves”. I had gained the name PIT when we had all gone around asking what each others majors were and the acronyms which were used: Mechanical engineering, physics, blah, blah, blah, it got to me “Princess in Training” I replied, “awwww awesome we can call you PIT like armpit. Annnnd you have a princess tent it is like a palace, meant for 3 people but just little you is sleeping in it!” said Griffon. What have I gotten myself into. I moved my tent, or shall I say palace, away from the deck and climbed in, I shimmied myself into my sleeping bag. One of the other boys had brought a cot to sleep on, and just with my luck decided to sleep right next to me. Everyone movement he made sounded like a balloon animal being tied together, he was a squirmier. Great.
After only getting about 15 minutes of sleep I found Cody shaking my tent and telling me to wake up. The next adventure was driving to the race. We got lost for 45 minutes; if Jake would have listened to my iPhone and I in the first place we would have been fine. After a lot of cursing and frustration we pulled into the parking lot. Hustled to registration. Speed changed and managed to make it to the start with plenty of time to spare. There is something about the idea of being rushed before a race that makes me ride harder. I ran through a quick mental checklist: bike, shoes, helmet, Gu, water bottle, tool, CO2, glasses. Okay, I think I am set. It amazes me the mental preparation that people have to go through in order to get ready to race. Sports are 98% mental it seems like. I always handle better under pressure. I always try to explain to all those people that train extremely hard that I love the sport, but in a different way than they do. Biking is a male dominated sport, so if you are a girl and you are not afraid to get your hands dirty then you already have made your name in the biking world. So as long as you show up and ride you are guaranteed to get a good finish; if you devote yourself to the sport you could become a superstar in the world of bikes. It is simple. The boys in the sport never understand. While everyone else was psyching themselves out, I stood there ready to get this race over with. I wanted to win, but I had everything working against me. No pre-race routine. No sleep and about 20 other girls whom I have never competed against before. I was fully prepared to lose. These ladies looked tough; they wanted to win. I didn’t care. The whistle sounded, we were off. There I was out in front. 4 of use took a huge lead of the main group fairly quickly, there were the occasional riders that were able to catch up, but were quickly dropped again. It was us four fighting for a spot on the podium. I loved standing up there because it always made me feel tall, and well, when you are 5’3 anything seems huge to you; when I had a chance to tower over others I felt like superwoman. I was used to finishing on the podium, even since I started bike racing 5 years ago I had been wining races my monstrous amounts of time; I was on the fast track of becoming a pro. I was just nervous to take that final leap. There is no turning back once you enter the world of professional riding; the only way one could quit was to stop biking all together.
Good thing I liked climbing because I found myself pounding away at my pedals headed up 5 miles of broken volcanic like rock at 8 o’clock in the morning in 90-degree weather. The rock bounced you and rocked you all over fire road, the heat from the sun pounded down on your shoulder. I was trying to keep myself as hydrated as possible. A headache had already set in. I knew I should have brought my camel back. When you get dehydrated while you are doing a high endurance sport your body starts to fail on your quickly. It took away from the fun of biking. I needed to get to the downhill. I made it, people were cheering. I knew I had made it about half way through the course. Okay I can do this. A river crossing? Seriously!?!? Great, I have my iPod in my jersey; I really hope it doesn’t get wet. I don’t have the money to buy a new one right now. Okay, it is only knee high. Carrying a bike is horrible, there is no efficient way to do it, you can push, you can pull, you can throw it over your shoulder if you are tall enough (of course I wasn’t). A girl from Chico had caught up to me, I asked her how far we were and how much longer of this hell I had left. “About an hour and it is basically all up hill from here” she said. I tried to respond back to her like I was upset about that, but, going uphill is were I excelled. It was time for me to turn my motor on and catch those other girls ahead of me. I blew passed the other girl, and didn’t see her again until I had crossed the finish and changed out of my clothes. By the top of the climb I was struggling. It was like ball bearing rocks; your tires are constantly spinning out. I thought I would never reach the top. Then I found a course marshal yelling “You made it! You are to the top! One more climb, you have time to recover!”. Okay here we go. I had managed to pass a few men on the climb that had started 5 minutes before me, so I knew they would probably catch me on the downhill unless I really put the pedal to the metal. One of them caught up, “go, go go!” I yelled trying to keep my pace while letting him pass me. That was a stupid mistake because I quickly passed him again once we reached the “hike a bike”, basically a section where you were running up some cliffs with your bike. Not my definition of fun. I could hear people cheering from a distance, I knew that that only meant I was close. I caught up to a group of people on the side of the trail, they let me pass and I realized it was a fellow team member “Oh no! Are you okay?” I yelled. “Yah just keep going”, well I wasn’t really going to stop and help you in the first place so you don’t have to worry about that…I am racing. I could see two of the girls a head of me. I can catch them I thought. I put as much energy as I had left into getting to the finish. They just crossed right before I was able to get there. Damn it! I had to settle with 4th place. I was not happy. Even though I managed to beat more than half of the women’s field I wanted to win; I hated not being one of the top 3 girls. The two girls that finished before me kept on telling me how awesome I rode and how close I was to catching them; to myself I thought ‘Obviously I didn’t ride well enough’. I tried to let it go, next weekend I’ll be up there on the podium. I want to win, I am craving it. I know I am powerful enough.
I went and washed my face in the water. I could taste the sweat rolling off my face and leaving a fresh clean feeling all over my sensitive skin. I should have ridden with my camel back I kept thinking. I found a ride that was going to Tahoe, instead of sitting around for a day and a half in Chico waiting for the other races to finish up I hoped aboard and found myself happily back in Truckee later than afternoon. There was no way that I was going to be able to sleep in a tent for two nights especially with the worlds largest raccoon tip-toeing around my tent. No thank you.
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/4 small cabbage (8 ounces), shredded
- 1 cup corn kernels (from 1 to 2 ears, or frozen and thawed)
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
- 8 small flour tortillas, warmed
- In a large bowl, whisk the orange and lime juices, sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cabbage, corn, and jalapeño and toss to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Serve the shrimp with the tortillas and the slaw.
Beyond the tall sea oat grasses of the ocean was a small east coast cottage. This house looked like it belonged in a fairytale, large green grassy yard. A flourishing vegetable garden. Small patches of garden full and vivid flower beds. The dwelling stood only one story high, covered in wooden shingles, which has been stained by the ocean salt over the years. A small white wooden rowboat sat on the side of the house, ready for find its way to the water. White and red-stripped buoys attached to lobster traps kept their position of readiness next to the boat, which was named “finally”. Two windows with flower boxes housing ivy-leaved geraniums and bright happily colored flowers. A slate patio over looking the front yard hosted a set of cranberry red Adirondack furniture. A split top and bottom door matched the cranberry furniture outside. This charming house was something you could find in the inside of Cape Cod Magazine. Once one walked through the front door they were swallowed up in the simple, yet beautiful, life. White Wayne’s coating covered all the walls, from the aged barn wood floors to hip height where a soft welcoming green paint filled the rest of the walls along with astounding black and white framed photos. Simple rich leathered furniture was available for comfortable seating although it looked as though it was seldom sat in. A kitchen with smooth slate counter tops and stainless steal appliances gave an open feeling. It was easy to tell that this was the room where most of the time was spent when inside. This cottage was like a puzzle, every piece put together so perfectly. My attention was drawn to a black and white photo over white wood-framed fireplace. As I approached I saw three beautiful blonde women, a mother and her two daughters, large smiles, you could see the love between these people. A black Labrador retriever in the background. This was a family. A family full of love for each other. A family that was “finally” doing what they aspired to do. Beyond the tall sea oat grasses lived a strong family full of love.
Three years ago I sat in my introduction to Criminal Justice class; it was in a lecture hall. Never filled. Kenneth Peak was my professor, he liked to ramble on about cases that he used to have to deal with, normally I was pretty drawn to his lectures but on the first day (lets face it, no one REALLY pay attention) I found myself peeking around the class room seeing if there were any familiar faces: None. A young bright eyed boy sat next to me, he resembled a friend of my Eric Kertzmen, but it wasn't. He looked right at me and before I knew he had started to engage in conversation with me "So where ya' from?" I told him I was kind of from Crested Butte...but kind of a nomad. I returned the question to him like a hot potato and he said "Gerlach, Nevada. Betcha' don't know where that it!", he seemed so proud, "or what do you? I bet that you are one of those people that goes to burning man every year and you drive through my little hometown." I looked at him like -what the heck is this kid talking about?- First of all, I know Nevada is one big huge desert with random town sporadically spread across the vast oasis. Gerlach? Really that's a place? Could have fooled me. I can't honestly say I studied a map of Nevada in depth before I moved here, I am pretty sure I looked at an atlas once while my mom and I voyaged across Colorado, Utah and into Nevada. Didn't manage to pinpoint Gerlach. Next time. Burning Man? What? is that another name of a town? I guess that is the small hippy town of Crested Butte they do not serve us with the latest and greatest events of the world via the Crested Butte News, which mind you is only printed once a week so if the happens where really big normally we had already heard about it via the Internet and just read the paper for local gossip. "No" I kindly replied, "what is burning man?". My new friend started to fill me in with cut up facts and stories about the festivities. By the end of class I had learned NOTHING about what I should expect from CRJ 101, but rather what exactly burning man is. Still interested in this "Burning Man" I went home and googled it.