Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Funnies...

Ok, its Friday, the happiest day of the week. Execept of course if you have been practicing the fine art of procrastination and now have to do a weeks work in one day. Yes, hair will grow on your hands for that... Me, I'm safe. I've been busting my butt all week which now has completely drowned all the processing people and they now hate me. Sorry girls, thats just the way it is.

Ok, so this is reversed... I think we're the most boobilicious team in VAcycling. As long as none of us fall over we should be all right. Some how its got to be more aerodynamic-- forcing us into a lower front position... Like I told J the other day, we live in a spin world, and if you say something often enough, loud enough, and you are dumb enough, pretty soon you will start believing it. So here goes... I am aero. I am fast. I believe the skies will open up, the light will shine, and God will give my hiney a little push every now and then. I have HOPE.

Here's hoping that if the skies open that its sunshine and not rain this weekend for Sunny Hutchins. Racing begins again!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wednesday Rants

I got home from work yesterday after a really crappy day. Crappy because as much as I got done, none of it was what I have to have done by month end, it was stuff that had to be done immediately. So I still have a months worth of stuff to do, and just a few days to do it in. Welcome to me...

But, I got home after it rained most of the day. As I was getting close to the house, the clouds started to lift and I decided f'it, I'm going to ride outside. I live out in the country, and there are no street lights or house lights. Plus without city light, it flat gets dark. So I had to judge just how far I could go before it was too unsafe. But, I got to ride. Outside. During the week, and not in a business park. Yes, I was soaking wet, my bike is filthy and covered in worms, but I got to ride outside. What am I going to be doing tonight... cleaning the bike. It is just gross. Well, clean it after the computrainer races... (Oh, and yes, I know about bike lights... but, since people out in my neck of the woods aren't expecting to see bikes... you really have to ride in the light)

I thought about watching the debates, but why bother... Ever read the "Hitch hiker's Guide to the Galaxy?" I agree with Doug Adams, anyone who wants to be president of the universe is automatically not qualified for the job, they are crazy.

And speaking of crazy, Cliff was watching Glenn Beck the other day, and he had some wack job author on who basically said that Hillary Clinton is a fascist. Oh, and Mike Huckabee is fascist, because compassionate conservatism is a fascist stance. Um, so does that mean that Dubya is a fascist? Wasn't he the author of the whole compassionate conservative movement? Me, I just thought he was another nut job, so I guess I'm going to have to change my stance...

A friend sent me a newspaper article from Chicago about a guy who got killed in an auto accident with an SUV. Darn cars, right? Nope, it was one of those silly bike messenger races, and the dufus ran the red light and got plowed by the SUV. If you are going to be dumb, you had better be tough. He leaves behind a wife and kid (s?).

Oh, well, I'm going to get another caffeine free Diet Coke. After watching all the tv news last night giving Starbucks free advertising, I've decided to continue my ban on coffee. Coca mocha venti skim moolata blah, blah. What the hell is that? $5 bucks. Yeah, right.

Maybe I better switch back to the high test stuff.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Goo at Jeff Cup

Sunday the girls and I (with Cliff as our guardian), went up to ride on the Jeff Cup course. 9 am, and we were there bright eyed and bushy tailed. Ok, not bright eyed. Cold. Definitely, cold. It was 30 some odd degrees at the house, but a whole lot colder out there, and the promised sun never did arrive.

Thats ok, after 3 laps of that course, you get a wee bit sweaty, you know? That and a wee bit full of snot. If you were in the huge pack of C'ville Racers that were arriving as we were swilling the bubbly stuff as we were leaving I hope you didn't slide and fall in the massive amounts of snot that were left on the road. Criminy, we're just gross.

Katie was sure that we were healthier for getting rid of all the lung cheese. I'm just not sure where all that crap comes from. Surely you have to run out at some point... don't you? Probably not as none of us did. Snot factories, thats all we are.

Now Katie and J are fast snot factories. I'm constantly amazed at how J can come back after a bad stress fracture as fit as she was when she got KO'd. And Katie, geez, she is on a mission. Every hill we'd come to she'd charge the hill. Me, I'm a decending charger. Being a bit top heavy does have its merits at time. Poor Sonya was watching the antics and just kept shaking her head at what she'd gotten herself in to.

Oh, and in that group of C'villers was Dee Dee looking absolutely amazing. Riding with a back pack no less. I bet the guys she was with were hoping that she had rocks in that thing. She looks the bomb. Be afraid girls, be very afraid.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Funny TOC Story

From Slowtwitch

One of the Slowtwitch guys was riding on the sidewalk day before yesterday trying to watch the race. All of a sudden he starts hearing a frantic call, "you in the red jersey! Hey, YOU!" So he thinks a course marshal is trying to get him off the course... but he's not on the course, he's on the sidewalk. So he rides faster, and still the guy is yelling at him.

He finally turns around and its a CSC rider frantically trying to get him to give him his rear wheel. CSC rider takes his broken Zipp rear wheel off, hands it over, takes the poor slobs rear wheel and speeds off after telling him to go to CSC at the finish line.

After some rigamarole he gets the hotel that CSC is staying at, and finally gets patched in to Bobby Julick. Seems there was some road furniture on the course, Bobby hit it and the neutral support and team car were nowhere to be found.

Sound hokey?

Check out that rear wheel with the snazzy yellow tire! Geez, what a story to tell.
From one of the traveling refs:
I am a traveling Course Marshal with the Tour and I was working that corner and all I can say is that Julich is an amazing rider. He came down in a pack of about 20-30 and was in the back third. We were flagging like crazy but because of his position he could not see the median. He pulled his front wheel up at the last second, nailed the curb with his back, bounced up on to the front wheel (as if about to go over the bars), rode up onto the far sidewalk (there was a little opening where the curb was reduced as if at a cross walk), regained balance, and rode on. Neutral support was ahead of them and team cars were still stuck on the hill. He immediately threw his hand up for a wheel, looked back and realized he was alone, and so he continued on. Your story is making the rounds of the entire race entourage. I believe you will get hooked up pretty good...Anon
Wow, I'd hang that wheel on the wall and remember that day for the rest of my life! Too cool!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dave Z's Diary on USA Today and other stuff...

USA Today has a Dave Z diary in the sports section. So if you haven't had your fix of his interesting sense of humor (or that wild thing that is growing on his face...) head on over and take a look. I keep having this funny feeling that if enough people actually read the darn thing, then maybe newspapers might decide that cycling is a SPORT and that it deserves coverage. Crazy thought, huh...

Last night my gang did our own version of big time racing... on the computrainer. Even J decided to come out and we had the full contingent of 8, with the junior techinique class going on in front of us, partially blocking the screen that shows all the good technical data.
For those of you who are dying to know, Gumby has already outgrown his bike, and his mother told me that this cycling stuff is getting to be right expensive. This is his second bike in a few months... Considering his continued lack of coordination, I'm suspecting that this will not be his last bike, either. She did get him cleats and real shoes, which he gallantly tried to click in with-- with bad results all night. I'm telling you, one day, he's going to surprise everyone. Just not today.
What is encouraging is the vast number of little girls in the group- some of whom look very promising. Girls that age are always more coordinated than the boys, and man does it show. Now if I could steal a few of them for the team! Here little girl... wanna race bikes? I'll give you candy!
All of this is going on while we are doing the infamous 10 mile time trial challenge. Time trial? Heck no! Its a hill climb slaughterfest! Flat, climb, decend, repeat... Every climb gets longer and steeper. J has a power to weight ratio that would make the best Tour riders jealous, and consistently had her w/kg in the upper 4's. It's sickening. Me, I'm happy at 3. I kill her on pure watts output, but that doesn't correlate into faster climbing, believe me.
Needless to say, she smoked me. I'm getting there though. I just have to keep telling myself that. I did finish mid-pack, with pretty decent numbers. So I'm happy. Slept like a rock, too!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happiness is...

Getting the best day of the winter off as a holiday. 60 degrees at 7 am, hot damn!

Even better is having the best day of the winter off as a holiday and friends coming over to ride the hill sufferfest to Hadensville. Shorts, short sleeve jersey, and 70 degrees mid ride. I was beaming ear to ear. Having a great day on hills, priceless... Having to deal with 20 -30 mph winds not great, but hey, 76 degrees when we finished! Mid- February! I think I got sun burned!

Now its back to the grind stone and Friday is looking like freezing rain and snow. Big sigh, spring is coming. The peeper frogs were singing like there was no tommorrow this weekend. Two weeks to the first race, and six weeks to Jeff Cup. Its all good.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Meaning of Joy

Yesterday, I got home from my hard ride feeling like the crap had been beaten out of me. Darn J, just kept going to the front and ripping everyone's legs off, and then would look back, all innocent like and say, "What?"

At the end of the ride all I wanted to do was come home and do some serious sofa time. Of course, that wasn't going to happen as we had company coming to dinner.

After taking a bath, I walked by the tv and there was a Kona repeat. I just happened to hit it at the end, with the feel good portion of the show. They showed 2 Hawaiian kids running, then Christie Wellington, running with her million watt smile, with her arms upraised with the British flag. Sheesh, if you could have hooked her up to the electrical grid, her smile could have lit up the planet. Now that was JOY. And that joy rubbed off on me.

What is joy? It's that deep down feeling that you gave it your all and all is good in the world. I did that. Yeah, J kicked my ass, but I gave every ounce that I had yesterday. I was deep down tired and deservedly so. J is going to kick everyone's ass. She is mad about her knee issues, and someone, all of us, are going to pay for it. Being in the line of fire is going to make me a better rider. Either that, or its going to kill me.

So my day was set. I was tired, but it was a good tired. And I made the world's most kick ass fish tacos. That was good, too. And I made my guests happy, which was the best. Bone Fish Grill look out. My fish tacos are better than yours. And they cost a whole lot less.

Joy is cheap. Come eat at my house. If you are hungry, I will feed you. Feed you good, too.

Oh, and to James, who also took me out and beat me up this morning... no fish tacos for you. I need a nap now! Just kidding. Fish tacos for James anytime. Getting to go ride with someone who is going to beat me up makes me stronger. And he did give me that nice push when I was dragging up a hill. Too bad he took that left turn just as we were heading into the wind to leave me to the next hour plus on my own!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So you want to be an Olympian

This series has given me great joy. I have laughed and laughed like you wouldn't believe.
Here is a link to the first 6 stories, and when you have an hour or two, I highly encourage you to read them. This chick is a scream. (there are 6 parts, go back to part one and start forward)

Here is the latest installment:

By Kathryn BertineSpecial to
Editor's Note: Just how difficult is it to make the U.S. Olympic team? Does it require a lifetime of training and devotion? Would an average person with an athletic background have any shot at all?
E-ticket decided to find out, embarking on a quest that's now in its second year. We tapped Kathryn Bertine, a former ice skater, professional triathlete and accomplished author, to see whether she could somehow find her way to Beijing in 2008. After failing to make the U.S. team, Bertine is now considering her other options for reaching Beijing.
My last story, posted in August, seems to have misled some of my dear readers. Can't say I blame them. After I failed to make the U.S. national team in road cycling, I expected ESPN would make me find a new sport. Instead, my editors told me to find a new country.
Half of the e-mails I received were from folks who interpreted ESPN's "request" to be impossible or humorous or ridiculous. Or all three. But certainly not serious. Find another country that will adopt you so you can represent it at the Olympics? Yeah, right. These kind, understandably confused people wished me well on the next chapter of my life, encouraging me with the hope that surely someone, somewhere would give me a job doing something. The other half of my readers -- who correctly interpreted ESPN's "request" as genuine -- wrote in with helpful suggestions on how to find another country for which I could continue my Olympic quest. Here's the breakdown:
Number of e-mails asking whether I am Jewish and could represent Israel: 43.
Number of e-mails asking whether I am Catholic and could represent Vatican City: 34.
Number of e-mails asking whether I would be willing to convert to Islam and race in a burqa: Six.
Number of e-mails asking whether I would be willing to race for various developing nations: approximately five.
Number of e-mails asking whether I would be willing race for Liechtenstein, Europe's smallest nation: 13.
Number of e-mails suggesting I race for Bermuda, Bahamas, come on Pretty Mama: 10.
Number of e-mails suggesting my British boyfriend, Steve, marry me so I could race for England: 52.
Number of e-mail marriage proposals from Serbia: One.
Number of e-mails asking that I write "Fudge" instead of "the F-bomb": One. At least the last one is something within my control.
As for marriage, British Steve is off the hook (for now), seeing as England requires a waiting period of two years before a spouse gains the right to apply for dual citizenship. My 21-year-old Serbian suitor, who assured me the older woman-boy toy relationship worked well for Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, is also off the hook (for now.)
As for the religious affiliation, I'm out of luck there. I'm neither Jewish nor Catholic, and I don't see myself converting to Islam anytime soon.
Personally, I subscribe to the religion of beliefism, and I currently attend the Church of Saint Cyclius the Divine. Anyone can join.
With marriage and religion out of the running, my only options for obtaining dual citizenship and representing another country in August -- which was now less than a year away -- were as follows:
1. Ask my parents whether they're actually retired foreign spies posing as residents of Westchester County, N.Y., and, if so, may I borrow one of their many passports.
2. Find out if Grandpa Vic was born in Europe.
3. Petition Arizona, or even just Tucson, to cede from the United States and become an independent nation. By August.
4. Cross the Canadian or Mexican border and beg for political asylum from the Bush regime.
Unfortunately, my father's French and English ancestors have been hanging around New York since the Mayflower days. That ruled out getting citizenship with France or England, as the statue of limitations on applying for nationality usually stops with the parents or grandparents. Some countries don't allow dual citizenship at all, and some silly countries require that a person be born there to be considered a citizen! Picky, picky. Where's the love? Aren't we all children of the earth? Couldn't I just represent The Planet? I called Dad.
Me: Hi, Dad. Hey, quick question: Are you an international spy?
Dad: I don't think so.
Me: Any chance I was switched at birth, or perhaps I was an illegitimate love child?
Dad: Your little pink wristband definitely said "Bertine."
Me: Damn. Any chance that you or Mom was the product of sketchy, foreign conception?
Dad: Probably not. Birth-switched illegitimates weren't too common in the 1930s and '40s.
Me: Geez, Dad, work with me here. What's mom's heritage?
Dad: She has German and Polish ancestry.
Me: Dad, was mom's father [my deceased Grandpa Vic] born in Poland?
Dad: I think he was born in Newark.
Me: Crap.
Dad: But his parents were definitely born in Poland.
Me: So I'm one-eighth Polish?
Dad: Something like that. Sweetheart, are you all right?
Me: Loaded question, Dad.
I quickly plugged Poland into Wikipedia and discovered that in the last Olympics its riders finished 27th and 42nd in a field of 62. Hmmm. Interesting. And then, a very encouraging paragraph informed me that Poland not only allows dual citizenship but has no restrictions on how far back one's Polish bloodline reaches.
And there it was. My Olympic dream, hanging by a one-eighth-inch thread, might still be alive ... except I had no idea how to get in touch with the Polish cycling federation.
"Just call Poland," British Steve said.
"What, like 1-800-POLAND?" I asked, shooting him a gee-you're-so-helpful look.
KATHRYN CHANNELS HER INNER BORATIn the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, I tried the number anyway. Nothing. Not enough digits. OK, then ... 1-800-POLANDS. A busy signal! For a split-second of athletic paranoia, I feared the line was tied up by another American cyclist asking whether she could race for Poland. On the second call, I got through ... to a recording asking whether I'd like to chat with single women.
I guessed these women were not members of the Polish national cycling team and handed the phone to British Steve. "Here. It's for you, hon."
Steve was right, though. The idea to call Poland was a good one. Online, I found the number and e-mail address for the Polish cycling federation. Since I don't speak Polish, I tried drafting an e-mail and sending it through a Web site that does free translations. I decided to keep it short and simple.
Dear Polish Cycling Assoc. President,
My name is Kathryn Bertine. I'm an elite U.S. cyclist. I am writing to inquire about the possibility of racing for and representing Poland in the 2008 Olympics. I have Polish ancestry, and I would like to speak to you about dual-citizenship procedures and Polish cycling regulations.
Please let me know if this e-mail has reached you, and if I may follow up with a phone call in the coming week.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Kathryn Bertine
Just before hitting send, I decided to run my translation backward -- from Polish to English -- just to make sure the text came across as somewhat coherent. Or not.
Dear Polish Brilliance Ass Cycling,
It named Kathryn Bertine. It elite AMERICAN bicycle.
It about capability to take participation quota in races. Write enquire for and introducing presents in 2008 Olympic Polish Poland. It beguiles Polish origin and would like to say about double procedures of citizenship and Polish Poland brilliance cycling regulations. It asks allow if this e-mail reaches Polish Brilliance and if It can chase you with call of phone in arrival of one week.
It thanks you for your time and consideration,
Kathryn Bertine
Clearly, my Boratesque e-mail was not going to work in my favor. The only thing left to do was find a Polish speaker who could call Poland on my behalf and act as my/its interpreter. As I called and e-mailed friends to see if they knew any Poles and researched ways to contact the Polish consulate, I began to get a taste of how difficult and tedious this process could be. Questions swarmed. If I could barely get in touch with Poland right now, how would it ever be possible to become a citizen in a matter of months and race for it at the Olympics? Not only that, but I was pretty sure there was no guarantee gaining citizenship gave me immediate Olympic qualification. Maybe a hundred years ago, but certainly not today. Communication, paperwork, living abroad ... could all this be done in addition to carrying a full-time training schedule and making journalistic deadlines?
And what about the moral component? I'd been so totally focused on the task of finding a country to adopt me, I hadn't even tried to deal with the problems that switching nationalities brought to the table. I wanted citizenship so I could race because it was my dream to go to the Olympics. Me me me! Yikes. That's definitely a 10 on the obnoxious scale. If I were going to race for Poland -- or any other country -- I'd have to find a way to give back. But how? There was a lot to think about.
DOING IT THE RIGHT WAYI know some readers will consider what I'm trying to do despicable. They will see my quest for citizenship as a way of trying to worm my way into another country. They will chastise me for putting my USAness on the back burner for a shot at Olympic glory. Some will say my attempt to find a country to adopt me is un-American; or worse, Ugly American. Have I no shame? Have I no respect for my country or for the Olympics?
Actually, I've got nothing but respect for the Olympics. Look at our world -- our planet is disintegrating, war is raging, politics are corrupting, genocide is erupting, children are obesifying, disease is rampant and cures come with ruinous price tags ... and yet, every couple of years, a bunch of athletes gather around the Olympic campfire and sing "Kumbaya" for two weeks, while kicking each other's happy butts. And for what? The chance to win an olive branch halo and a glorified coaster tied to a piece of ribbon? No. For the chance to be a part of something good. Something worthwhile. Something bigger than ourselves. Something that celebrates the body rather than trying to demolish it. That's what I respect. That is what the Olympics mean to me.
If being an Olympian means being part of something internationally positive, does it really matter what country I represent? Some will say yes, patriotism comes first. Give us your tired, hungry and poor. Well, as an elite female athlete in an obscure endurance sport, I'm all three of those things -- plus, determined. If I can find foreign shores to welcome my bicycle and me, then I'm going to do it. If, through my job with ESPN and through another country, I can bring more exposure to women's cycling, I'm going to do that, too. If I just really want to see how good I can be as an athlete, can I let anything hold me back? I can't answer for everyone else, but my answer is no. Fudge no! I'm not going to break any rules. I'm not going to disgrace myself or my nation(s). I'm not going to crush anybody else's dream by taking away her Olympic opportunity. I'll find the right way to do this. I anticipate people standing in my path and trying to block my efforts. That's OK. Bring it on. I've gotten really good at U-turns.
AMUSING ENOUGH TO INTRIGUE? After a week of trying to find a Polish interpreter, my body was sulking, my mind was spinning, and my spirits were sinking. I needed a break. Actually, what I really needed was a sign: Are you there, Zeus? It's me, Kathryn. If I'm supposed to keep hiking toward Mount Olympus, could you throw me a benevolent thunderbolt?
Later that day, the phone rang. It was my brother, Pete, who darts in and out of my life as older brothers tend to do.
Pete: Hey, K, long time since we've talked. Watcha been up to?
Me: Not much. Trying to go to the Olympics. Emigrate to Europe. You know.
Pete: Yeah. Hey, I've got this awesome new girlfriend.
Me: Oh? What's she like?
Pete: Really great. She's Polish.
A few days later, I met my brother's new girlfriend in New York. Kasia is a lovely woman who has lived in the States for 15 years, works in Manhattan and spends her free time outdoors -- running, cycling, generally keeping active. She'd been reading my articles on and was familiar with my quest.
"I'm happy to help," Kasia said. "What can I do?" I told her of my plan to see whether dual citizenship and racing for Poland was a possibility, and asked if she'd be willing to draft a properly translated e-mail and then to call Pawel Meszko, the head of the Polish cycling federation. Kasia agreed, and we set up a three-way call from her office.
I brought the two Polish telephone numbers I'd tracked down through the Union Cicliste Internationale Web site. The first one rang and rang, reaching no person or voice mail. As Kasia dialed the second number, I felt my stomach muscles tighten and my pulse quicken just a bit, more so with each unanswered ring. By the third ring, a disquieting realization surfaced: I was calling a person I didn't know in a country I'd never set foot in to ask whether I could become a citizen of its nation and join its Olympic team. And to top it off, I wanted this absurd request granted more than I'd ever wanted anything in my life. I wondered how long it would take for Meszko to hang up on me. The best I could hope for was that my request would be amusing enough to intrigue. I could work with intrigue. Intrigue was doable.
On the fifth ring, a voice -- a live, human voice! -- offered a salutation in Polish. Kasia engaged the voice in conversation, as I sat there listening, nervously pressing the earpiece of my phone so hard against my ear that I drifted dangerously close to the need for surgical removal. The receptionist put us through to Meszko, and I found myself with a flock of butterflies in my stomach. I couldn't decipher the chatter, so I listened to the inflection: Were those happy intonations? Angry? Annoyed? Flat and businesslike, this was a phone call void of emotion. But I also sensed it was not going poorly, for Meszko was answering Kasia's questions in full sentences. For what seemed like hours but ended up being roughly five minutes, I listened to my dream being discussed without me. The outcome of this phone call could change my future, and all I could do was sit there quietly and listen and keep tabs on my breathing pattern so I wouldn't sound like a crank caller. Finally, Kasia wrapped up the call, and offered a translation. The details were, well, not exactly cause for great optimism.
The good news was, yes, dual citizenship is allowed in Poland, though it's not very common and can take a good deal of time to procure. The clincher was the Polish cycling federation would not take steps to personally sponsor me. In other words, if I wanted Polish citizenship, I'd have to find it on my own and then go talk to the cycling federation. A tough path to navigate at this point in the game. Then, Meszko explained I'd need 100 UCI points to qualify for a spot on the Polish team, and even if I did, there were other Polish team members, all veteran cyclists, who would likely get the Olympic spots.
O ... K.
But what were these UCI points and where could I get them? All I knew is that points usually have to do with games and that I like games very much. Games and points! Oh, boy! But how do I play? I knew of one person who might just be able to answer that question.
THE MATHEMATICS OF DREAMINGLast spring, while making sure I understood the criteria to qualify for the U.S. nationals, I had called Andy Lee in the public relations department of USA Cycling. When I told him who I was he said, "I'm aware of your project." Then ... nothing, which I felt was his polite way of telling me he was aware of my existence, but, well, no comment. However, after my article on the cycling nationals came out and he saw I would not do anything to harm the sport, he warmed up to me a bit. (Poor guy, imagine working in the PR department of a sport plagued by doping scandals. Don't worry, Andy. My testosterone is a little high but completely natural.)
If anyone knew how to navigate the Olympic qualification procedures, it would be Andy. Only now, I wasn't calling to bother him about U.S. racing criteria, but to ask him if he could help me find a new country to race for. He would have no obligation to help me, and might even frown upon my efforts to find citizenship elsewhere. Nervously, I placed the call to Andy. For 70 minutes, this kindhearted man talked me through rules and regulations of international racing, downloaded documents and procedures, and metaphorically held my hand as I stumbled through complicated Web sites and race calendars. I expected this phone call to go nowhere, to be the final chapter, to have an officially informed person tell me, as a cyclist, there was nothing else I could try. I expected Andy to tell me I'd reached the end of the road in my Olympic quest.
But there, at the end of the road, just off the paved shoulder and barely noticeable to the mainstream traffic whizzing by, Andy found a path, overgrown with what-ifs and probably-nots, but a gnarly little footpath nonetheless.
Andy explained that being named to a country's national team would not automatically ensure me an Olympic berth. I'd still have to go through the process of qualifying, just like every other Olympic hopeful in the cycling world.
"That is where the UCI points come in," Andy says. "If you get on a country's national team, you have to do as many international UCI races as you can before the Olympic-points cutoff date. Some races you can simply enter, others you have to be invited to. If you do well in those races, you win points. If you gain 100 points by May 31, your country gets one spot in the Olympics." Points, levels, qualifications. Felt almost like a video game. Frogger, perhaps. But with only one life span, no reset button, and extremely real traffic.
"So if I'm the only one on my adoptive national team, and I win 100 points throughout the season, I would get the Olympic spot?" I asked.
"Yes, if you earned the 100 points and there were no other women racing for your new country, yes, you'd automatically get the spot," Andy answered.
Well, hot damn!
Andy and I looked over the UCI race calendar for 2008. A rather intimidating list of foreign names and unrecognizable words entwined themselves around cycling terms like "grand prix," "vuelta" and "tour." From Brazil to Belgium, Luxembourg to Oregon, and patches of Asia and Latin America in between, there were 27 races in which I could potentially compete. Tour of New Zealand, Tour of Belgium and the Mount Hood Cycling Classic, names I could pronounce, gave me comfort. The Omloop van Borsele, Majowy Wyscig Klasyczny> and the Drentse van Dwingeloo kind of freaked me out. Dwingeloos and Omloops sounded like things cyclists should avoid. Then again, so do tiramisu and baklava, so I decided not to be afraid. Bring it on, Omloops. I will fear no Dwingeloo.
I asked Andy how exactly the points system works in international racing. What would it take to collect 100 points competing against world-class international talent in just five months?
"There are four kinds of races on the international circuit -- 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, and 2.2," Andy explained, informing me some races offered as many as 80 points for a win down to three points for coming in 12th. I quickly scribbled down the numbers and asked Andy to speak slowly, as if I were a 4-year-old. Numbers with decimal points tend to evoke panic in me. Luckily, I didn't have to add or subtract, just look at them.
The extreme, nearly impossible upside: If some country would granted me citizenship and I could win two major races, I'd be packing my bags for China. More realistically, 80-point wins wouldn't be easy to achieve. Those races would attract hardcore European butt-kicking women in droves. With cycling being the kind of sport in which 30 riders often cross the finish line within one second of one another, point-garnering places are not easy to achieve. Despite the numbers, the odds, the chance of all this falling into place, my mind clung to one image, the path. I now understood the mathematics of my dream: new citizenship, plus 27 races, plus 4½ months, plus no teammates, plus 100 points ... equals Beijing.
Since Poland seemed like a real long shot, I decided not to put all my eggs in that one basket. That afternoon, I sat down at my computer for what would be a six-hour stretch of sending nearly 161 e-mails around the world. My plan was to contact every small nation with an official UCI men's team but without a women's cycling team, (so I would not be taking an Olympic dream/opportunity/spot away from a bona fide national citizen) -- and see whether maybe, just maybe, it wanted to start one.
On a post-it above my desk, I had scrawled the Olympic creed some months ago. Citius, Altius, Fortius -- swifter, higher, stronger. To eliminate some stress from the daunting task of country searching, I added a comma after Fortius and added the fourth-most-helpful component in striving for the Olympics: Googleius.
Up next: A nation responds to Kathryn's e-mail. But will it adopt her?
Got a question or a comment? Send them to Kathryn at: Kathryn is sponsored by Team Sport Beans/NTTC,, Trek Bicycles, and CarbBOOM.

The up and comers

I do computrainer races at Endorphin on Wednesday nights. Every week it's a different race course designed to make me suffer like a dog. Some nights it's so bad that I think you could swim in the sweat under the trainer, my towel is soaked, the clothes are soaked, and my hair ends up looking like I dipped it in salt and oil. (I'm sure I make those disgusting slurping and grunting noises as well. I believe this because I'm always between Bill Sweatfactory , and James Gruntandgrown.

What Endorphin has done is put the computrainers on a platform. This allows them to hold our races, and a technique class at the same time. Yeah, I'm sure those people really want us flinging sweat and making those disgusting noises behind them, but that's tough.

So who gets the technique class on Wednesday nights? Juniors. All kinds of junior, big ones, little ones, coordinated ones, and two whose parentage must include Gumby. One poor kid is a goo factory, not fat, but no muscle, no bone, etc... When he goes to stand up on the bike, bad things happen. His feet must be size 13, and he is constantly sticking them where they don't belong. Funny thing about kids like that, next time I see him, he'll probably be offered a full scholarship at some big name school like my friend's son. He was a baby Gumby, too. Then all of a sudden he blossomed into an awsome pitcher. Who knew?

It's very distracting looking at the sea of potential bike racers as I'm trying to slog up some mountain in the Alps. All those little faces, keyed in on every one of Craig's words. He tells them how tough they are. He tells them how talented they are, and he tweaks them into future stars.

Me, I have James yelling at me when he gets to the line to hold my w/kg! Just watch the number, hold the number! Dig deep and go! Somehow thats as motivating to me as having Craig say the niceties. James tells it like it is. I have work to do...

If all those kids decide to race bikes instead of play soccer bike racing is set. The future sure looks bright on Wednesdays at Endorphin!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Red Bike

Sent to me by a co-worker today... enjoy!

Little Carol came into the kitchen where her mother was making dinner. Her birthday was coming up and she thought this was a good time to tell her mother what she wanted. 'Mom, I want a bike for my birthday.' Now, Little Carol was a bit of a troublemaker. She had gotten into trouble at school and at home. Carol's mother asked her if she thought she deserved to get a bike for her birthday. Little Carol, of course, thought she did. Carol's mother, being a Christian woman, wanted her to reflect on her behavior over the last year, and write a letter to God and tell him why she deserved a bike for her birthday. Little Carol stomped up the steps to her room and sat down to write God a letter.

Dear God:
I have been a very g ood girl this year and I would like a bike for my birthday. I want a red one. Your friend, CarolCarol knew this wasn't true. She had not been a very good girl this year, so she tore up the letter and started over.LETTER 2:Dear God: This is your friend Carol. I have been a pretty good girl this year, and I would like a red bike for my birthday.
Thank you,

Carol knew this wasn't true either. She tore up the letter and started again.
Dear God:
I know I haven't been a good girl this year. I am very sorry. I will be a good girl if you just send me a red bike for my birthday.
Thank you,

Carol knew, even if it was true, this letter was not going to get her a bike. By now, she was very upset. She went downstairs and told her mother she wanted to go to church. Caro l's mother thought her plan had worked because Carol looked very sad. 'Just be home in time for dinner,' her mother said.Carol walked down the street to the church and up to the altar. She looked around to see if anyone was there. She picked up a statue of the Virgin Mary, slipped it under her jacket and ran out of the church, down the street, into her house, and up to her room. She shut the door and sat down and wrote her letter to God.

I Hate Wind

It was going to be very windy yesterday, predicted 20-40 mph with gale force winds. So I got up extra early and was heading out the door when a 40 mph gust hit me and almost flattened me. Exit, stage left. ..

I didn't even make it to the road. I was so bummed. Wind and I are not friends. I can bs myself into saying that hills are my friends, that they really are secret training partners. I can say the same thing about most dogs that chase me, they are really just sprint zones placed there to insure maximum effort. Wind just plain sucks.

So to punish myself for my lack of motivation I cleaned house. J probably just dropped a cup of tea all over herself reading that... Karen cleaning house has about the same connotation as Karen pulling into the wind. Its just... well, shocking!

Then I came into the office and worked the majority of the morning to really punish myself. Yes, I did get on the trainer, but it just isn't the same.

This week is supposed to have all kinds of sucky days in it. To make it even worse, its now supposed to rain on Saturday and Sunday. That trainer is going to get a good work out this week. My cat is freaking out all ready!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Channeling Katie

Katie, being the good Mommy that she is, didn't do my mostly chicks ride this morning. I like my chicks with me, but sometimes you have to share and let Daddy ride, too. So we were really missing Katie's wackiness, dodging Katie snot, and responding to Katie hill charges.

Not so fast. We had Sonya along who decided to take Katie's place. J and I had gotten there early to put in some bonus miles, and Sonya dragged sickly Tom along to keep us honest. Just as I was really missing Katie, Sonya started channeling her. We'd get to a hill, and zip! There goes Sonya. If she had only started flinging snot, and changed her hair color from brown to red, we wouldn't have know the difference! All of a sudden, it was like I got two for the price of one!

Well, almost. We still missed Katie. I'm not sure that Sonya is quite ready for me to charge up beside her and smack her on the ass and scream GO! at her. Maybe next week. And maybe next week Tom will feel better and will stop hacking up lung cheese. If not, I'm bringing my SARS mask. That stuff spreads like wild fire.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Good The Bad

Ok for the good...

Have you been to Bonefish Grill lately? When I moved south from B'more years ago I was unpleasantly surprised to find that seafood and Richmond are alergic to each other. Then I "dicovered" Bonefish Grill. Yes, it's expensive. However, probably the best thing on the menu is not expensive. What do I love, the fish tacos. In fact, I've started dreaming of them and the wonderfulness of the mango salsa. Yum, yum. After 9 pm they go down to like $6.00 for two. That plus a salad is more than enough for dinner. Too bad they are clear on the other side of town for me. Yum, fish tacos.... There has to be reasons for me to drive down to "Dogpatch."

My other secret for eating more fish is the bags of individually packaged salmon filets at Costco. Salmon with dill, another yum. I usually hate packaged fish, but these filets come out perfect every time. Hmmm, I may have to see about getting some of that mango salsa and trying salmon tacos at home. Fish tacos... yum.

80 degree weather in February. Now if that isn't the definition of good I don't know what is. I started planning out the garden yesterday. Peas, tons of varieties of tomatoes, peppers, squash, my favs- beets, green beans etc... Fresh stuff out of the garden- no pesticides.... another yum. If the peach trees don't get hit with another US Open bike race snow storm this year I may have enough peaches to make peach salsa... Yum.

And the bad...

Coming back to computer land I find that Sheldon Brown has passed. I am not a techno geek, and Sheldon helped me out on several occasions. Mark King now has my Sheldon cog that used to help me get up Wintergreen. When everyone else said that you couldn't do a 30 cog, Sheldon proved them wrong. The world is a much smaller place without this larger than life funny guy in it. RIP Sheldon, you are remembered well.

Then WTF is it with ahole guys. My fav show on tv (which shows how little I acutally watch the boob tube) is the Biggest Looser. You really have to hand it to those people for deciding to make the change, and then working their butts off to achieve amazing weight loss. Yeah, I know they probably water log before the first weigh in, but without having dystentary or something similar I've never lost more than about 5 lbs in a week, and even then it was probably water.

Well, on Tuesday, the two brothers who are killing everyone on weight loss voted off my favorite Mom. She was cool, worked hard and played out in the open. They swore on their kid's lives that they wouldn't vote her or her son off without telling her first. Would you swear on your kid's life and then do it anyway? Wow. They suck. Big time. I hope the one guy's stress fracture busts wide open. Suck, suck, suck. Kharma does get you in the end big guys. Just wait. Everyone will remember what you did long past this show. You suck.

The other suckified thing is that I heard that Sally Snead had back surgery. Yowza. Now that really sucks. Heal fast Sally. If I could do it, you can too. Sally is someone that I fear in the Masters races down here. She's just plain a talented rider.

So here's hoping the rest of the week ends up in the Good column. 4 weeks to racing. It's a good thing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Few Days Off

Or what did you do with your winter vacation....

For me, getting to take a few days off IS a vacation, even if I don't go anywhere. Trust me, I could get really used to the slacker life style. It's just so me.

Sunday I hauled James to Toano for the officials clinic and after waiting for him for hours and hours as he plodded his way thru the test, we both left newly crowed "C" officials which means we are capable of running errands and little more. I'll never stop rubbing in the fact that not only was I done waaaay before James, like hours before, but also got a 94 on the test to his 84. Which still makes me qualified to run errands, same as James.

Unfortunately, said clinic did take up the better part of the most beautiful day on record, so we had to rush to squeeze in a quickie 45 minute ride when I dropped him off. Giving back to the sport, or a ride for me... that was a tough one, and in the end I did what was right. Gosh darnit!

Monday was all for me.... a glorious sufferfest to Hadensville which of course just wouldn't be complete without the dog chase scene. I convinced Cliff to play hookie with me, and as usual, he was way up the road, when a truck passed me, then I heard braking, and then growling. Yep, two mutts right on my heel with a big hill looming. The other truck that braked was watching the show with some interest, leaving me to try to sprint uphill. (for those who know me, this is one of those funny statements. Sprint, yes. Uphill, no. ) Finally the truck went around me, which somewhat dislodged the dogs and I was able to make it the rest of the way.

Phew. Cliff was at the Hadensville store getting a coke and was bewildered... "Dogs? I didn't see any dogs." Course not, he was waaay up there when I was getting attacked. The guys in the truck took that moment to come out of the store and one of them looked at me and said, " That dog get you? We thought you was a goner, seein as how we missed them dogs when they run out after you..." Nice. Hills and dogs, it just doesn't get any better.

Tuesday was fun as well. I got up early so that I could go vote... and couldn't find anyone at the voting precinct. Yep, Virginia votes NEXT week. I am perpetually early. Then the bike ride was wind aided on the way out, and wind challenged on the way back. It was however almost 70 degrees while I was out, so you won't find me complaining.

Wednesday, Cliff came over to help me fix the garage door, and we had fun taking it apart, but now can't get it together again as it is so rotten. At almost 80 degrees, in February, I'll take that part, too.

Three days off, tons of quality bike miles, and a whole lot of money later, I better go back to work. I could get used to staying home. I really could...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Get em Katie!

There really is nothing like getting to ride HARD with the chicks on the team. Katie, J, and Sonya joined me for a jaunty 50 mile ride in the freezing cold. Along for the ride to keep us honest was Cliff and Tom, who rode his single speed of all things. Trust Tom to ride like a maniac to keep the pace high, so that we all stayed warm.

Katie's goal for the ride was to have J push her on all the hills. So the first big hill, Cliff pulled off and I rode up to Katie and smacked her in the ass and started screaming at her to "Go, go, GO!!!" J was laughing so hard that I thought that she'd fall off her bike, but Katie hunched up and went as hard as she could, which quickly left me, and my shouting, behind. Team work, gotta love it.

The whole ride was like that, lots of laughing, lots of hard work, and incredible bonding.

On the way back we dropped Sonya and Tom off and picked up a bunch of guys. They hooked up with us when we were blocked by traffic at a turn. J went up front and did exactly what she was told... 22 mph- nice and steady. Then Katie took over, 22 mph- nice and steady. Then our passengers decided that they weren't going to be pulled by a bunch of girls, and went to the front and promptly slowed the pace down.

Grrrr.... why do guys have to do such jerky things. We really didn't mind pulling them around, but messing up our work out just sucked. So, we had to kill them off. Sometimes you just have to do it.

The best thing about our women's team is how well we all bond together. It's going to be a great season. Katie is a tank, J is a flier, Sonya is steady as a rock. Jenn is the work horse that I rely on, and Tara when she can get back on the bike is going to just amaze people. She's the secret weapon. All of us have a combined wicked sense of humor. Fast chicks on bikes, what's not to love!