Archive for the ‘Furnace Creek 508’ Category

How it all went terribly pair shaped….

August 27, 2009

I won’t be doing the Furnace Creek 508 this year because I ran out of money. That’s the short explanation. The long explanation is that the combination of the economy tanking, and three major financial blows in one month killed any plans I had of  doing the Furnace Creek 508; all of a sudden it had become way too expensive, and out of my reach.

It’s hard to plan for something like this, and then have it pulled from under your feet. I’ve been working on doing a major race/ fundraising event for about a year. Every bit of training effort that I had went into this. But, all in the same month, my dog got bitten by a nasty off-leash dog costing us a fortune in veterinary bills, then our garden had major erosion control issues (threatening the integrity of our house) and then our SUV blew up, which was suppose to be the follow van. When I realized that I’d have to rent a “follow van” for about 5 days, that was the breaking point. It was like trying to tap blood from a stone.

In the end, all the money that I had for The 508, just wasn’t there, and then some. I’m behind the eight ball at this point, trying to make the best of things, to come back from this, but it’s going to take some time, certainly more than I have for this year.  I am heartbroken. I really wanted to do this, or at least do the fundraiser, but I don’t even have the money for that.

Another hard part about this: my training was going really well! With the exception of a bizarre soreness that I’ve been feeling over the past few weeks, my power/mass has been improving steadily. What a bummer to be all dressed up like this, with no place to go.

Then there’s the weight that I added specifically so that I could start cranking out the watts as I lost it. Ugh, now I have to lose those pounds by diet, rather than extra work and cycling.

It’s embarrassing to have your whole year’s worth of planning time and effort crushed like this; without a steady direction of where to go what to do next, I feel like a fish out of water. Indeed this has been my beautiful disaster.

On the other hand, I’ve often said that what doesn’t kill you makes an interesting story, so I’m hoping that in spite of a lack of fun 508 tales I should still have enough from my adventures as a coach, bike fitter, and bike clothing retailer, and RAAM crew member, for a fascinating book called “Girl Meets Bike Book”. For the next little while, I’ll be writing my little heart out, trying to create a book that will inspire you, yes you, to get on your bike and feel joy, get exercise, and save money too.

PLUG,PLUG, place to shop:

I’ll also be opening my online store again, and I’m selling some of last season’s goods HERE. I’m selling incredible stuff at an absolute bargain right now, so pick up some deals now, while you can (and help a girl get back in the saddle, financially).


Tales from the Lack of the Peloton: Janet

July 15, 2009

It’s hard to explain what I experienced, what I saw in the Race Across AMerica; but here’s a tale of something I saw in Janet Christiansen, the solo racer I crewed for on the RAAM.

I’ve played with this blog a bit.  I hope it still reads well.

Upon a bit of reflection, I realize that what I witnessed in Janet was the ultimate in raw will and determination.
But also something more.
When there was nothing left, there was determination.
And when I say nothing, I mean riding non-stop for days and days and days, and every once in a while you get to stop, and maybe sleep a bit, but mostly, as in 21 hours a day you are riding; that kind of nothing left.
But there was always, the determination, the drive to move forward, even when exhausted beyond compare.
Janet forged ahead.

Mostly, she did not complain, but occasionally had a cursing fit. Interestingly, it has recently been found that cursing can be a type of pain reliever, and she did indeed, go through pain (Endnotes 1,  2).
One rarely comes across this breed of human, for surely no human would put herself through such hardship, such challenge, such pain; and for what?
The Honor?
No, no, wasn’t that. It is, in fact, most probably a lot closer to exactly not that.
What was it that kept her out there?
Raw will?
What gave her the fortitude, the tenacity to move forward through bone-aching exhaustion and pain?
(Will someone please let her get some sleep?)

Stories of the other riders unfold.
So many more of them then you’d think.
Not many women though.
And for these Ultra-endurances-athletes, the ultra-cyclists,
for them the RAAM is the Holy Grail;
for soloists, the end all, be all race.
It is The World’s Toughest Bicycle Race.
Yes, it is.
Really. It is.

Start: Oceanside, California
End: Annapolis, Maryland
3,016 Miles
ONE Stage

And each person’s reason for being there is very different, very interesting. And each rider’s experience was unlike anything else that’s ever happened, even if they’d done the RAAM before.
This is what EPIC means.

There is no prize money to be won, nothing but some chance at doing something very special, something that few have the capability to do. No wait, make that very few.

janet 1janet 2janet 3

janet 4Janet is a smart individual. She’s a natural born problem solver and practical to the core. She cycled well through the bad weather in New Mexico,
the corn fields Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio,
where rain and thunder and lightning and hail caught up with her in the dead of night.

janet 5janet 6
She’d been asleep for over three hours.
“don’t let her oversleep. She gets three hours a night.…”
“…and hail is the only thing that stops her.  Otherwise, she’s on the bike.”
That was the advice I was given.
It was my turn to wake her. I was amazed and delighted when she arose immediately and with purpose. There it was again, that vibe of someone who was about to do something absolutely extraordinary. Without much coaxing, she was out of the van (where she slept), and on her bike.
I was watching her at a time where she had figured out “a system” for herself; she’d found her rhythm. And in the quiet, still, dark, rolling hills of Ohio,
Janet rolls her ride again…and again…and again.
janet 7janet 8


“…cursing may ease pain..”

1.  Web MD:

2.  Reuters:

Race Across AMerica – Tales From The Lack of The Peloton

June 30, 2009

Janet finished the Race Across AMerica in good time. It took her 12 days, 3 hours, and 54 minutes to ride the 3016 miles in this single stage race. I can’t help feeling that watching the Tour de France will be a disappointment for me this year, having witnessed this race up close and personal. When Janet reached the podium, she graciously thanked our Crew Chief Bill and Logistics Coordinator, Kathryn for their all out efforts throughout this past year, to bring her dream to fruition. Indeed they all deserve a hardy congratulations for making this transcontinental crossing a reality.

But there are some unsung heroes who were a part of this race, and I think it’s right and appropriate to shine a light on these people who gave their all during these past 12 days. They are the Team Osprey crew. One might refer to them as “…and the rest” which is a shame, for without them there would have been no Team Osprey, and therefore no finish line. Remember, all of the following people were volunteers; there was no payment given to any of them, save the feeling of a job well done when Janet finished. They are Patty Jo, Tom, Kat and Greg.

Patty Jo (aka Snow Kitty) – Feeder, Navigator

Fun loving, upbeat, and silly when needed (to brighten our spirits), Patty Jo was the veteran ultra-distance woman of our team. She has been in so many different ultra-distance races, that it would be difficult to name them all. She knew exactly what to do when Janet suffered from saddle sores, and did not hesitate to step in as, well, crotch expert, when we needed it most (I think this is something that only a cyclist could truly appreciate). She also understood far more than anyone else, how and when to distribute Janet’s supplements throughout the day, and gave me much needed advice on how to deal with being in the Feeder’s chair. The feeder is a very important job, as this is the person who not only hands off food to the rider, but also makes sure the the nutritional needs of the rider are balanced well, and evenly distributed throughout the day and night. Her roadside antics kept Janet laughing, awake, and most importantly on the bike. I couldn’t imagine a better team member.

Tom – Driver, Head Mechanic

Logical and serious, Tom was a true backbone of the team as Head Mechanic. Janet’s bike were not the easiest to work on; as one of the mechanics, I know this for a fact. Her main bike was an old Lemond with a ceased seatpost set too high for her leg length, and an odd combination of componentry that would have been hard for the finest mechanic to keep tuned. But Tom made sure that Janet was always rolling and that the bikes were as good to go as they could possibly be. He was also an unwaveringly good driver, in spite of insanely long hours, and sleep deprivation. He has a great sense of humor, that I was privy to as his navigator for the first seven days.

Kat – Driver, Massage Therapist (aka @Katerpillar, on twitter)

I was lucky enough to have Kat as my driver for the second half of the trip. Charming, sarcastic and quick witted, Kat kept me laughing and giggling for days. The story that few knew about, was that she became very ill due to severe dehydration in the last 48 hours of the race. I drove about 6 miles for her at one point, at about 2:00 in the morning, but then had to switch back to navigator, as the section of the route became complicated through the small town of Clarksburg, WV. As her shift partner I watched helplessly as she struggled to finish her last shift, which consisted of 26 hours of driving, with only one hour’s rest. I am beside myself in awe of her performance, as she buckled down and hid her extreme nausea from Janet, to keep the team moving forward. She is truly a gem.

Greg – Driver, GPS Tracker (aka @watchmyrace on twitter, and owner of

Greg brought a warm and calming influence to the team in the short time he was with us. He has been a “twitter friend” of mine for a while, but this was the first time I’d had a chance to meet him. He was only was us for the first five days. Unfortunately, I had little time to get to know Greg, but in the little time I spoke with him, I realized that he is a very cool individual. I find it interesting how you could tell that about him, just from twitter. An Ultra distance athlete in his own right, I’m sure he has many interesting stories to tell. Greg had broken his hip not very long ago, so for him to come out at the last minute, and do an extraordinary amount of driving for us was beyond kind; I can imagine that was physically uncomfortable or even painful, but apparently he never complained. Over a quick lunch at the airport lunch we discussed the Furnace Creek 508, and he has agreed to be one of my crew, so I’m happy to say I’ll have a chance to work with him over the course of the next few months.

Lisa – Navigation Specialist, Feeder (aka @girlmeetsbike on twitter,

Hey, dassa me!!! It would be impossible for me to say objectively how I influenced the team, so I won’t even try. I will say that I tried my very best, to do whatever I could to keep us moving forward. This included a very rare singing performance while hanging out of the window of a moving van, to keep Janet awake at 2:30am, when the sound system went. My utmost apologies go to the citizens of West Virginia, but I suppose we do what we must.

Congratulations to this amazing set of individuals. I hope your roads are as well paved as you wish them to be, and tailwinds all the way. 🙂

from right to left: Janet, Bill, Tom, Kat, and Kathryn

from right to left: Janet, Bill, Tom, Kat, and Kathryn

with the help of her crew, JAnet completed 3016 miles in 12 days, 3 hours, and 54 minutes

with the help of her crew, JAnet completed 3016 miles in 12 days, 3 hours, and 54 minutes

Patty Jo and Janet hang for a moment before the race

Patty Jo and Janet hang for a moment before the race

Bill and Janet, before the last 50 miles

Bill and Janet, before the last 50 miles

Kat cheers on Janet

Kat cheers on Janet

Tom in Beautiful Monument Valley

Tom in Beautiful Monument Valley

My Donations Page Works Now

April 15, 2009

First, I’d like to apologize if my donations page crashed your web browser. CAF has kindly redone the page, so we should have no problems now.

Thanks to the people at CAF, my donations page is a go! Please help me support CAF by donating here:

Thanks to my twitter pal @dahveed1 for sponsoring my first 2.5 miles 🙂 . Only 505.5 miles to go!

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