Tuesday, January 16, 2018

F*ck Brunch training ride

I have officially begun to dig myself out of the fitness hole the winter doldrums left behind.  It started with bike path commutes instead of town commutes, which is a teensy thing, but what else is fitness and good health besides a big conglomeration of lots and lots of little things?

Next, I joined a race team!  Team No is no more, for now anyway.   TeamAF is all about riding hard, having fun and eating snacks.  What could be better?  Our early season training series is called F*ck Brunch, which is just what I need - less brunch and more rides.
A dozen of us did a quick and dirty, well, clean, road ride with pacelining and pushing hard and even little pats on one's tush to invite another rider to grab a wheel.  While huffing and puffing along, I chatted with another rider and we contemplated the idea of competition.

Competing can bring out the very best, and the worst in us.  What about competing with yourself?  What about competing with yourself as a losing proposition?  If you've reached your peak, or are simply on a plateau in your athleticism or speed or whatever measurement cyclists are using nowadays, what then?

I used to live by the code "training is for pussies", or the more common "training shmraining".  I proudly abstained from training and instead just rode my bike, then showed up for hard events and races ready to rock.  But for the first time in many years, I don't have a hard event or race on the horizon.  Yet, I'm training like a bandit.  Gym workouts have doubled and mileage is starting to trend up.  I've become the yin to my own yang.

To underline the immense privilege I enjoy, the universe threw me a little curveball on the way home from effing brunch.  As the rest of the team headed west to return to the Breadwinner cafe, I continued homeward on the bike path.  Soon I was calling 9-1-1 for a transient gentleman who was experiencing severe abdominal pains.  At the direction of the 9-1-1 operator, I was yelling over the din of freeway traffic to ask this poor man questions like "RECTAL BLEEDING?".

The perspective gained from moments like this is priceless.  It all started pouring in as I departed the despairing scene where emergency personnel helped this poor soul   Poor me!  Worrying about what big fancy bike race I might compete in.  Poor me!  Missing out on the Swift Summit 200/100 because I have an amazing wedding to attend.  Poor me!  Lamenting that a "hard winter" has my fitness in the crapper.  Poor me!  Backed into a corner where I work on my physical fitness for no other reason than good health.

And, so, I am happy to proclaim that I'm ready to embrace a new outlook this year, and enjoy "training for training's sake!". 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Everything Old is New AF

A year ago I set my heart on an unknown race, the Swift Summit 200/100.  A double century with time cut-offs and no drive along SAG sounded like a dream challenge!  I ended up not finishing the race, missing the fourth control cut-off by a half hour.  I made big plans to return to the scene of the crime in 2018 and exact my revenge.

Then I learned that a pair of my dear friends are getting married on that very day.  As important as bikes and racing are to me, my friends come first.  This particular race has won all sorts of accolades since its 2017 kickoff and will have huge attendance, so my absence will have no effect on anyone but me.  Still, a "did not start" feels icky.

Pair this news with the cruddy dark weather of winter and the hibernation required by the flu, and your dear Bicycle Kitty has been spending way too much time at home licking her wounds.  While licking, I often check out facebook or intsagram and lo and behold - the rest of the world is having fun on bikes without me!

To combat my isolation and feeling of leftouted-ness, I joined a team.  A race team.  Of ladies who ride fast in all sorts of conditions on all sorts of terrain.  They are TeamAF and now I'm BicycleKittyAF.  While waiting to find "the perfect challenge" to replace the Swift Summit, I'll have training rides with cool riders.

I've started making a 2018 ride schedule to soothe my frazzled nerves.  Here goes:

  • F Brunch Series with Team AF - January Sundays - no idea what to expect
  • Caddyshack! Bill Murray tribute ride - Saturday, February 3, facebook event here
  • Worst Day of the Year ride - Sunday, February 11th - find me at the breakfast table
  • French Toast ride - Saturday, February 24th at 10am - email me for details
  • Dalles Mt 60 - Saturday, March 10th - tentative, I need a car ride out there!
  • French Toast ride - Saturday, March 24th at 10am - email me for details
  • Gorge Gravel Grinder - Sunday, April 8th
  • Tour de Beavs - Friday, April 20 - Sunday, April 22
  • Oregon Epic Gravel - Saturday, May 5th - tentative, I need a car ride out there!
  • Oregon Northback - May 25th - June 2nd - like the Oregon Outback only shorter 
  • Strawberry Century - Saturday, June 9th
The rest of the summer is a grab bag of who knows what.  If you'd like more details, to join any of above, or to offer me a car ride to the Dalles Mt 60 or Oregon Epic Gravel, drop me a note or comment below.

Thanks, readers and riders, and I hope your year is off to a grand start.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Team NO was hatched when pre-registering for the first race of the season.  I entered "NO" in the slot for team name, and here we are.  We have just one member and our credo is NO!, unless the question is "beer?".  Team NO jerseys are scarce, so I stuck with an O jersey instead.
The new Troll is definitely not a cyclocross bike.  It's heavy and doesn't have gears.  But it's nimble and comfortable and accommodates super fat tires.
Cyclocross is a fun way to get some exercise while occasionally drinking beer and improving your off-road handling skills. A typical race starts lining up with at least a hundred other women, of several different categories. I am in category five, which is a nice promotion from my usual category six racing.
I took last place in almost every time, except for costume day when I managed to beat six whole racers.  I dressed to match my basket that day, which must've really given me an edge.  Or mayhaps it was the whipped cream and whiskey shots fed to me at the beachy part of the course.
Race organizers use existing land formations or build new obstacles to challenge racers.  These can range from stairs to wooden hurdles to gigantic muddy rooty "run ups". The stairs at Bend, which are actually railroad ties used as landscaping, are least 20" tall, and there are a dozen of them.  Somehow I kind of managed to struggle up them on every lap instead of taking the bailout path.
The format of cyclocross racing makes it perfect for athletes of many levels.  Faster, more experienced racers are given the extra obstacle of slower, less experienced racers while everyone picks their way through gravel and sand and mud.  Racers only need to ride for forty-five minutes.  For many, that means completing five laps.  For Team NO, that translates to three laps.

Cyclocross is all about friends and strangers shouting at you, heckling you, cheering you and even pouring beer down your gullet.  Here are my favorite heckles of the season (all directed at Team NO):

"Is that bike a dog?  'Cuz you're walkin' it like one!"
"Hey honey, will get me some milk while you're out?"
"Do you have that milk in your basket" (same guy, later race!)
"You need to put some TRY HARD in your basket!"
"If you hurry, you can still make the cat show!"
 "It's weird, 'cuz she's so fast on the road" (a comment I overheard!)


Coffeeneuring is seven years old!  It's a challenge not dissimilar to the Society of Three Speeds challenge, where one must ride a bicycle, (in this case, any bicycle), to a cafe, or a park to make coffee outdoors, or a friend's home where they serve coffee.  Riders must ride at least a mile to their destination, may not repeat destinations, and may drink hot cocoa instead. This is an excellent opportunity to get more involved in the randonneuring coffee-loving community without pouring on tons of miles, or kilometers. The best part is the requirement to document, or blog the each coffeeneur ride.

Ride One - Saturday 10/14

Seven of us met at Water Avenue Coffee for Portland's Coffeeneur Kick Off, to enjoy coffee together, compare notes on our Coffeeneuring plans, and generally chit chat.  I rode my new single speed bike, which is my cyclocross bike for this season.  I chose this bike not because of its rad punk rock-looking fork with its dozen of studs, or its sexy drop bars, or even its brand spankin new bright white basket, but because the gearing is way too hard and I needed to go to the bike shop to get it changed on the way home.  I paid $2.50 for a (refillable) mug of coffee, and it was delicious.  After asking about sweeteners, the barista slipped me two yellow envelopes of splenda as if they were contraband, and put her fingers up to her lips "sshhhh".

Ride Two - Sunday, 10/22

I rode to Heart Coffee, a new cafe exactly one mile from my home, and fourteen short miles away from the cyclocross races at Heron Lakes.  I waited several minutes for a lady and her dog to do  their poop dance before I could take this photo of my bicycle in front of the cafe.  After shooting the photo, I had the opportunity to wait for them again while he peed on the bike rack.

The house coffee was pretty good, and cost $3 (no refills).  The condiment bar was austere, offering only stevia or organic imported locally-sourced free range sugar.  There's a trend at Portland coffee house to enforce their "purity" on their future ex-customers, and this place is on the bandwagon.  Not even secret splenda.  I like my coffee the way I like it, dammit.

Ride Three - Friday, 10/27

It seemed appropriate to ride the three speed Ross for my third coffeeneur ride.  The weather was nice enough to enjoy the patio at First Cup, which is situated exactly 1 ½ miles from home.  I ordered a house coffee, which was perfect.  The coffee was only $2 and the condiment bar was fully stocked with everything anyone could ever want from a condiment bar.

Ride Four - Friday, 11/3

The maroon Miyata mixte came out to play for coffeeneur ride number four.  The weather defied the rainy forecast, staying dry and sunny all day.  My destination, a mere 2 miles from home, is my favorite diner, and has not yet been found (and ruined) by hipsters.  Therefore, I am compelled to keep this location top secret.  Coffee was $2.25 with unlimited refills, which were delivered on time and cheerfully to my table by a seasoned waitress with a pink apron.  Condiment offerings were  bountiful, and the greasy spoon breakfast was perfect fuel for a fifty mile non-coffeeneuring ride that afternoon.
Ride Five - Saturday, 11/11

It was an eight mile ride on a beautifully dry and cool day to Dean's HomeStyle Cafe in Clackamas.  A house that looks like it could be your grandma's was filled with tables which were filled with families enjoying lots of scrumptious food.  No less than three people asked me emphatically if I was sure all I'd have is a coffee.  The coffee was pretty okay and cost $2.  There were probably bottomless refills but I was full. 

One of the best parts of this ride is the new bike path I found, which heads east from the 205 path and parallels highway 212.  The other best part was the old man who stopped to chat as I unlocked my bike.  He spied the "fast" sticker on my bike and pointed at it.  "Is that true?".  I said yes, sometimes.  He told me he's had some strokes and moves slowly nowadays.  He served in the Korean War and everything's been easy since then.  As he shuffled away, the time on my odometer read 11:11.

Ride Six- Friday, 11/17

I celebrated my sixth coffeeneur trip with a peppermint latte, which set me back $3.50 and was not available in a mug.  It had been a sunny eight mile trip to Bob's Red Mill, but my phone showed green blobs of rain headed my way, so I slammed my latte, grabbed my bag of wheat and hightailed it home.

Ride Seven - Saturday, 11/18

At last, my own personal coffeeneur finale!  I rode four miles to Palio Cafe near Ladd's Addition, which was also the meet point of the Wombat Alley Cat.  I don't know how much the coffee cost because after a ten minute wait I just left a $5 bill on the counter and served myself.  They had plenty of condiments, and I've had plenty of fun riding around drinking coffee.  Thanks, Chasing Mailboxes!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Three Speed October, Week Three

The third and final week of the Three Speed Challenge opened with beautifully sunny weather.  My first ride took me from home to work, for five miles.  One of my colleagues is roommates with the creator of the challenge, so it seemed perfect to include her in the photo for this ride.

My second ride took me the five miles from home to work for an eight hour layover, before continuing 3 ½ miles to Velocult.  It was sunny but chilly and the wind and slight hill made it quite a strenuous journey.  Luckily they have beer at Velocult, so I was able to recover before heading home.

My third and final ride of the challenge also doubled as my third ride of the Coffeeneuring challenge.  It may be against the rules for both challenges to combine rides, but I'll count on the double ride above as a safety net.  It was another gorgeous sunny day and I simply rode 1 ½ miles from home until I came across a cafe.  A quick sip of coffee, then home, with tailwinds all the way.

Until next time, I hope you have tailwinds too!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Three Speed October, Week Two

Tuesday's ride included a five mile jaunt, with a quick eight hour stopover at work, followed by a pleasant three mile ride with Sarah to a wine joint.  Sarah is the first friend I made when moving to Portland fourteen years ago.  We used to meet weekly for a twenty mile ride but have grown more moderate and now meet monthly to drink wine instead..

The evening was chilly and the streets were wet, but the clouds stayed closed for the evening.  After we had our fill of wine and olives, we parted ways.  My odometer read thirteen by the time I got home and put my beloved Ross in its window parking spot.

Ride two of week two was fifteen miles long in all, and pretty dang damp.  I started at home, as usual, and rode five miles to work.  From there, I rode to the Ride With GPS headquarters for the WTF bike industry happy hour.  WTF doesn't stand for what you think it does, it means Women-Trans-Femme.  It was early and there was just a small but rowdy bunch there.

I put my very wet rainsuit back on and headed out into the dark wet again, this time to meet with chess club.  I'm not very good at the game but I sure do like it.  After a few great games, I retired back to the streets for yet another pleasant ride.  It was dry by then but quite windy, as me and my three speed tooled through back alleys to find a new way home.  Once home, my odometer showed a whopping fifteen.
Ride three of week two of the challenge took me three very wet miles from home to a Ping Pong party at a friend's.  The host didn't want my dripping wet steed dribbling all over his nice carpet for a photo near the Ping Pong table, so instead I captured the garage parking spot, next to my friend's posse of sweet road bikes.  The ride home was also rainy, and featured heat lightening that turned the sky teal for just a few quick seconds. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Three Speed October, Week One

It's October, and that means it's time for the Society of Three Speeds' annual challenge.  The requirement this year is to ride a three speed bicycle three miles three times per week for three weeks.  Yippee!

My first ride was a commute to work, which may sound like no biggie, but it's five miles each way.  My antique Ross, "the quality lightweight bicycle", is suited for just up to that distance, but not much more.  This is not due to the lack of speeds, but to the antique components that barely cling to the bike. 

Last year, I had a wheel laced around a brand new Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub.  I was sad to lose the built-in grip shifter emblazoned with the letters "H - N - L",  or high, neutral, low, from the old Shimano system.  The new thumb shifter is quite nifty though, and operated by a very slight flick of the rider's thumb.  I knew thumbs were good for more than hitch hiking.

The second ride was a shorty but a goody.  I tra-la-lad around the neighborhood, diligently checking my odometer for the correct mileage.  Then I headed over to the tennis courts in the park near my home to meet a mom and her daughter.  The daughter is 7 years old and had been having trouble learning to ride a bike.

It is an unparalleled joy to give the gift of bicycling to a child.  After all, once you learn, you always know.  At one point, after pedaling without help for several seconds, she hopped off and ran to her mom for a celebration hug.  My heartstrings came unstrung.  Before I left, we took a lap around the tennis court together.

The third ride was to my local fabric store, to procure materials for the upcoming Bike Craft show.  I'll be displaying at the Bicycle Kitty booth and selling butt pillows (somewhere dry to sit wherever your bike may take you), buddy flaps and embellished valve caps.  For a sneak peek of fabric choices, zoom in on the pink pannier in the photo above.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Somewhere Near Rainbow

The weekend in Rainbow was canceled due to smoke, almost as soon as it was booked. I made a plan to do some other camping somewhere else, but suddenly, Rainbow was back on.  I dropped everyone and everything, shook my ducks out and rearranged them, and texted in a hell yes.  There's no way I'd miss a Rainbow weekend with the Hybrid Moments gang.

We arrived late, or at least after dark, and quickly got situated in the chilly cabin.  Since there was a fire ban, we wouldn't have a roaring fireplace to keep us warm like last time.  Thankfully, I was assigned the master bedroom, which includes two down blankets and an electric heater.

The next day we awoke to a beautiful sunrise, which was bad news.  A beautiful sunrise in Oregon during wildfire season means the fires are burnin and the smoke is thick.  Riding in the smoke can feel burny on the eyes and throat, and even limit breathing.  We were close to the evacuation zone, so adventuring on little known trails could actually be dangerous.

We piled in the car and drove to find a less smoky area to explore.  We saw some hitch hikers wearing bike helmets and promptly picked them up.  They were shuttling to the top of the trail, with plans to ride back to their parked car.  We dropped them at the trail head, then decided to ride there too.  

I had been promised a mountain bike-free weekend, and here we were on single track.  I tried to be a good sport, but the truth is I don't like single track.  I brace myself, my knees hurt, I'm nervous and staring at the roots and rocks and berms and spending all my energy trying not to fall, instead of seeing pretty scenery and having fun.  A few miles in, our leader asked how I was doing and I confessed I'd rather be at the dentist.

We crossed a gravel road on our way back to the trail head, and couldn't resist.  About five or eight miles of pretty riding later, it dead-ended and we turned back again.  Back at the parking lot, we saw there was another trial to try - the Santiam Wagon Trail.

The Santiam Wagon Trail used to be the only way to get over the Santiam Pass, before they paved Highway 20 through and covered it with cars.  The wagon trail is still alive though, hiding in the woods, and we got to check it out in both directions.  The trail gets pretty rocky and we were grateful to have pneumatic tires.  I wondered how history may have been changed if Dunlop had been around during wagon times.
Pretty soon we encountered Fish Lake, pictured above.  The lake is bone dry half the year.  A bit further on, we found Fish Lake Camp, a treasure trove of historical buildings and plaques.  We especially enjoyed theorizing about the homesteader grave of a young couple and their baby, who had encountered snow on the pass and died before making it to the safety of the Camp.
That evening we noticed an old junky-looking tandem behind the shed.  We went to work like a pit crew, pumped the tires, oiled the chain, and even wiped down the frame.  Soon the bike was rideable.  Cosmo let me captain and after several false starts, we were off!  The chain wasn't aligned correctly and our pedal stroke, instead of being in tandem, had us toe to heel on each revolution.  I'm not sure I've ever laughed as hard as I did during that tandem ride.
The next morning dawned less smoky, so we ventured out to a nearby logging road.  We waited for more Hybrid Moments riders, but no one came.  They must've been scared off by the smoke.  We climbed and climbed, and finally caught our first glimpse of Wolf Rock, the largest monolith in the state.  Further on, at our summit, we had a nice clear view of it and howled together at its grandeur.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Bikecraft Returns!

You heard it here first, dear readers!  Your favorite blogger will be appearing at the 2017 BikeCraft in Portland, Oregon.

Edit: you heard it here second - check out the Bike Portland coverage here.

The fun is set to take place the weekend of Friday, December 15th through Sunday, December 17th.  Friday's opening night promises to be well attended, with more happenings all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Check out the Microcosm (our hosts!) website about the event, here: https://microcosmpublishing.com/bikecraft.

There will be lots of great wares to peruse and possibly purchase.  Over at the Bicycle Kitty booth, you'll find buddy flaps with reflective accents (stop spraying your friends or your Cat Six competitors!), embellished valve caps (both presta and schraeder), and of course, the infamous BumEase butt pillows.

The pillows are vinyl on one side and cotton on the other, offering cyclists, campers, hikers and general adventurers a dry place to sit wherever they may roam.  There will be plenty of sizes and colors to choose from.

See you there!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Swift Summit 200 / 100

I succeeded in my goal to make it to the start line of the Swift Summit 200/100.  My morning started at 3:30am at my mom and dad's house in Albany, which is pretty close to the start line in Lebanon.  My dad rose with me and gently hovered in the background, his hands crossed in his humble way.  After watching me wolf down a bowl of oatmeal and head out the door, he stopped me to give me a hug and said  "You are strong and you are brave.  Just remember to have fun!".

Entering town, I saw our Race Director, Trevor, at the Lobby Cafe and ran in to grab my second cup of coffee*.  I was so excited my heart was racing, and had been since the night before.  Being interviewed a few evenings earlier by the Sprocket Podcast only added to the pressure build up.  I dropped my drop bag and had bib number 224** pinned on to my back.  I had hoped for 211, with my special affinity for type II fun, and the number eleven in general.  It had been my messenger number, and therefore my name, for a couple of years.  Since then, I often notice a mile post 11 sign, just when I need a boost.

It was dark and chilly at the start line and I was glad to have my bunchable pink jacket with me.  I watched Mark slide in just in time, and madly pack his bike while Trevor spoke.  Although harried, Mark took the time to run over and give me a hug and a "Bonne Route".  Trevor's speech included the usual "look out for tracks and deer, turn left at the bottom of the hill" type announcements.  Then he went on to name the fallen, the killed endurance riders from this year.  I touched the MH sticker on my bike in honor of Mike Hall. After a silence, he read a poem.

I was honored to be queuing up with this bunch of amazing athletes, and somewhat incredulous to even be counted among them.  Trevor announced that we had some accomplished endurance bike racers in our midst and that he'd like to call them up.  Then he said my name.

Time froze.  Me?!  I'd never gotten a call up before, and he was calling me up and calling me up first?  My strategy of staying within myself immediately went to crap while I rolled my bike up to the front.  He called up others then, Kraig (winner of this year's Steens Mazama 1000), David for the Steens Mazama, Route 66 and TransAm, and Mark for his RAAM finishes.  And of course, Rob English, who'd go on to win today's event.

The group finally rolled out and I let myself drift to the back.  I knew if I rode with the pack, I'd chase and wear myself out too early.  As it was, our neutral rollout was at a 20mph pace.  The dark and chill exhilarated me and I missed a turn***, which luckily added only a couple of miles.  I pledged to pay closer attention for the rest of the day.

The alternating woods and countryside were simply glorious.  Watching the horizon dimly lighten and brighten over the span of an hour felt like having a front row seat to a pretty great sky show.  I rolled into the first control, in Lacomb, ten minutes later than my 8:30am goal time, but with plenty of time before the 10am cut off time.  "I better hurry up!" I thought to myself.  Before leaving, I recited my "blackout poem" to the volunteer.  These were hand created by our Race Director and mailed to us in advance.  I loved mine so much I'd memorized it.
Riding around Foster Lake made me feel sentimental for some reason.  It was so beautiful and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to see it in this way on this day.  Coming around the more populated southern edge of the lake, I noticed much of my water was already gone and wished I'd pocketed a third bottle****.  Luckily, a laundromat presented itself and I dashed in, bike and all, to fill up.

Below is the one photo I managed to take all day.  I was trying to capture the sweetly stenciled Swift Summit logo, but was too harried to notice it was blocked by my basket.  
The next control, Arturio's house, was coming soon.  I imagined there'd be a slip & slide and lounging racers scattered on the grass.  Instead there were a couple of nice ladies sitting in lawnchairs behind a table laden with fruit and chips.  I recited my blackout poem to them and munched on some chips while madly taking my jersey off to re-pin my number, which had come loose and was flapping in the wind while I rode.  Next year, I'll sew it on.

I had done quite a bit of math on the way to Arturio's, and calculated I'd be a half hour earlier than my goal of 12:30pm.  As expected, I rolled in at 12pm, an entire 2 hours before the control closed.  The climbing began in earnest after that.  Fern Ridge doesn't seem to have any ferns and felt like more of a mountain than a ridge, but the views were grand.  

Finally the uphill it turned to gravel.  The hill and the gravel were hard but not impossible.  The downhill portion felt sketchy and I had to coach myself not to fall: "Relax, roll right through, float float!" I yelled.  

Hot foot haunted me in the final stretch to control number 3 in Brownsville, or "Brownsville 1" as I had come to think of it.  We'd have three control stops in Brownsville, and my drop bag would be available at each.  Brownsville 1 closed at 3pm and my goal had been to get there at 2pm.  I was a half hour late.

The volunteers welcomed me as if I were their long lost best friend.  They took my bike from underneath me, filled my bottles and set up a bucket of ice water for me to stand in.  After a couple of sublime minutes standing in ice water, they urged me on, telling me I had 45 miles to complete in three hours.  So I put on my shoes and raced westward, looking forward to the long flat section.

I had envisaged this section would be my time to shine.  I'd have 110 miles on me, be fully warmed up and ready to roll fast, head down, hands in the drops.  There was just one tiny thing I'd forgotten - the north headwinds that the western Willamette Valley is famous for, which always kick up in the afternoon.  The dirt devils and yellow brown countryside scorched.

I decided to finish singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall before doing any race math.  I suspected my situation was dismal, but knew pedaling was really the only thing I could do.  After we passed around the last bottle of beer, I realized I needed to average 18 mph for the next hour or so.  I was working hard to maintain 12mph.  

Soon the route turned north again onto Falk Road.  "FALK" I screamed joylessly.  I saw a lady up head walking a bike and slowed down to suss her out.  She had heat stroke and was cramping and I stopped to hug her.  She started crying and I urged her to call in and get rescued, then said goodbye and pedaled on.

A few miles later, I saw another pair standing by their bikes by a mini-mart, with a large bottle of water on the ground.  I asked if they'd be using it all and they offered me some.  They told me they were done racing and riding straight to the brew pub finish line in Lebanon.  I told them they were a bad influence and left quickly.  Although I felt little hope of making it at this point, I didn't want to quit until I knew for sure I couldn't make it.

I don't quit.  I won't quit.  I will just pedal and sing and some magical tailwind will fast track me to Brownsville 2 and all I'll have to worry about then will be the Crowfoot and Brownsville 3 controls.  That's what I kept telling myself anyway.  At 5:20pm, I had 10 miles to go.  There was no way I could get there in 10 minutes, so I stopped and took a break on a small bridge over a little creek.

I thought for sure I'd cry.  I always cry when things get rough.  This was my first DNF (did not finish) in a big event; surely I'd be crushed.  Instead, I looked out over the creek and felt strangely peaceful.  I texted Trevor that I was scratching (bike racers scratch or abandon, we don't quit!).  

Then I texted my mom and dad and told them.  They were extremely sympathetic, imagining I'd be in mental agony over the defeat.  They offered to pick me up but I wanted to go for a little ride before facing my fellow racers.  I pedaled on and enjoyed being honked at angrily by some gangly teenage boys in a pick up truck.  If they only knew how much they motivate me and my kind.

It was on that last stretch that I finally figured out the "swift" in the race title referred to the birds in the valleys, not speed. I was checking out a big metal playground slide for sale when KP passed me as if I was standing still.  His number 211 was just barely visible as he blurred by.

Soon I was turning off the quiet alley and into the finish line party at Conversion Brewing.  Everyone screamed and cheered while I madly made the cut throat signal to indicate I hadn't finished.  I needn't have worried, everyone would know that because I wasn't presented with a finisher's cap.  You can bet I'll be back to finish up my business next year.

* mistake number one: my heart was already racing, I did not need a second cup of coffee.
** mistake number two: I was too shy to request a number I like.
*** mistake number three: I should've accepted a friend's offer to borrow their garmin.
**** mistake number four: I should have carried a third bottle, I was always low on water.