Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have finally fully committed to starting a freelance business, whereas before I was mostly using it for an interim measure until I found a suitable position. (Although, if someone were to offer me a fabulous full-time job, I would definitely consider it.)

I had an interview earlier this week, which materialized from a resume I had sent out over a month ago. I didn't feel great about the interview going into it and I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself that it would be good to get this job. I think my hesitation about the position came through in the interview as they grilled me about why I would want a position that would be a step down for me. Apparently, they had a hard time understanding why anyone would want to go from "director of communications" to "communications specialist" willingly. My thoughts about how I did were confirmed today when I received a terse rejection e-mail.

Although the idea of having no guaranteed income is still very frightening, the other aspects of freelancing are just too attractive for me not to give it an honest effort. I'm committed, and that means that if I have to do slightly undesirable things, such as temping, to help bring money in while I'm building my business, I will.

Today I showed just how committed I was by spending the entire day at a local business expo, pounding the pavement, er, carpet, handing my new cards out to everyone I could find, networking and squeezing all of my available contacts. I got a few leads out of the endeavor that I hope will turn into something.

This evening I also started a new blog, which I have been meaning to do for a while. Having a freelance writing blog will allow me to chronicle the whole process and hopefully attract some attention while I'm at it. It will also keep the saga of my freelance writing career off this blog and save it for its original intention, which is bikes, racing, training and bike-related topics.

It will obviously be more work to maintain two blogs, and it will be harder to find things to write about for this blog, since I don't always have bike-related things to write. However, for those of you who have no interest in my professional life, it means you won't have to read about it (although random postings about my life in general will probably still appear here). And if you just read this blog because you want to know about me, now you'll have two blogs to read!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Lesson

I haven't been philosophical on my blog for at least a week, but recent events in the life of Fat Cyclist have caused me to start thinking about what's important. I've said it before and I'll undoubtedly say it again. It's amazing to me how much you can feel like you know people you've never met, simply from reading their blogs regularly.

Fat Cyclist (aka Elden Nelson) seems like a genuinely nice guy and his blog is funny and interesting. I'm clearly not the only person who thinks so. Last Friday, Fat Cyclist posted on his blog that he had joined Facebook and when I looked at his profile about 15 minutes ago, he had 591 friends. (I have 32.) He routinely has hundreds of comments on his blog posts. I'll admit to some serious blog envy.

In many ways, he seems to live a charmed life. He has beautiful children, a wonderful wife, lots of friends, a good job, close family. He's also something of a celebrity in the cycling community and gets to be a guest panelist at Interbike. The lists goes on. He's got it made, right?

There's just this one thing that mars it—that big evil "C" word. Elden's wife of 20 years has cancer. Sometimes, you can read his blog without thinking about it. He'll go for a long time without mentioning it, except to try to raise money for the cause. Periodically, though, he'll give an update on how Susan is doing. Lately, things have gone drastically downhill and it really gives me pause.

His attitude seems to be so great, given the fact that he must be going through utter devastation. He's clearly trying to be strong for his wife and his four children.

I don't know why cancer is still out there. I have no idea why when I was in college I had to watch my grandma, who was still young and who was someone I really couldn't bear to lose, waste away from lung cancer. Also disturbing is the fact that every day, I watch my husband participate in a habit he can't seem to break, that's been shown to cause cancer. It's scary.

I don't know if cancer will be oblierated in my lifetime. What I do know is, if you haven't read Fat Cyclist's post today, you should and you should take it to heart. Because whether it's cancer or something else, someone you love could be gone at any point and you could be left regretting what you didn't say.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kansas City/SE MO Recap

Although I wrote one post while we were on vacation about our visit with the phenomenal Ben Taddiken, I realize I never really said anything about the rest of our trip, nor did I post any photos. We didn't take many photos (other than the 53,000 Chris took of Ben playing), but I thought I'd post the few I did take here, along with a brief description of our short trip.

We left Lansing at a little after 9 on Monday morning and arrived in Kansas about 12 hours later. After checking into our hotel, we walked a couple of blocks to the downtown shopping district to find a restaurant for Chris' birthday dinner. We ended up with a very nice meal—smoked prime rib for Chris, Kansas City strip for me. We called it a night pretty early as it was a long day in the car.

One thing I noticed about Kansas City is there are fountains everywhere. The Plaza Court area, where we found all the shopping and restaurants, is modeled after Seville, Spain. It's pretty attractive and quite clean.

We wandered back downtown late Saturday morning to do some window shopping. For those of you who don't know my husband very well, you may not realize that window shopping is an excruciating concept for him. Despite some very definite redneck tendencies, he inherited the shopping gene from his mother and on top of that, he is a serious brand snob. He not only carries a Coach wallet, he wears Versace underwear.

Needless to say, being around stores like Tommy Bahama, Lucky Jeans and North Face and knowing he couldn't buy anything because I don't have a job was not easy for him. So, after a lot of torture and some Kansas City barbecue for lunch, we headed back to the hotel. I had a feeling it was going to be a late night, and I knew I would need a nap to get me through.

After our evening hanging out with Ben and listening to him play, we grabbed a few hours sleep before heading to southeast Missouri to visit with some of Chris' family. We stayed with his grandma, were grossly overfed and left first thing Friday morning to get home in time for hockey. It was a lot of driving in a short number of days, but we did have fun, despite the fact that a more leisurely pace would have been nice.

I put a coin in here. It worked, I think.

This was outside a fancy jewelry store. Too bad our puppy girls were back in Michigan at the puppy hotel. Urban Outfitters is always worth a laugh. And yes, I feel compelled to take pictures of poop-related items (except actual poop).

This fountain was outside of Starbucks. The boy is supposed to be peeing on the frog, I think. Otherwise, the frog is spitting on the boy's package.
Many more random fountains to follow

Sick of fountains yet?

Notice Ben is wearing jeans, which we had never seen before. He was still wearing flip flops, though, freezing or not.
My husband certainly enjoyed Ben's show, not to mention numerous Fat Tire beverages, which are not available in Michigan.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Today marks the first day of feeling unemployed. Technically, I was unemployed last week, but since we were out of town, it didn't really seem like it. There are a number of ways I could approach this situation, one of which is to act like I'm just on an extended vacation and spend the entire time laying still like broccoli (what movie, anyone?). I'm going to try not to do that, though. One thing I definitely will not be doing is watching soaps. In fact, I probably won't be watching t.v. at all. I'm actually more worried about spending too much time on the Internet (go figure).

I'd like to use this situation as the opportunity it really is. That said, I'm also enormously grateful to my husband for being so supportive of me extricating myself from a work environment that was making me increasingly unhappy, even if it meant things might be a little tight financially. So, in the interest of not becoming a slug, I have some specific activities in mind, and some even more specific goals for them, which I will detail in another post. These are (in no particular order) the following:
  • Exercise my puppies at the dog park.
  • Try to achieve some semblance of housekeeping which, in the beginning, will include a massive overhaul of the entire house (including attic and basement), and will hopefully just include maintenance in the future.
  • Train for the rest of cross season and for next summer's mountain bike season, including both outside and indoor trainer rides, weight training and core strengthening.
  • Find some nutrition plan I can stick with (which does not include the Mexican buffet).
  • Work hard every day at finding work, whether it be searching for full-time positions or soliciting work for my freelance business.
  • Begin working on a "secret writing project," which may or may not turn into something exciting.
  • Teach myself to do more than just muddle through the Adobe Creative Suite.
When I write all of that out, it seems pretty ambitious. I'm sure I'll find some way to have a little fun each day, though. After all, let's face it, a lot of the items on this list are fun.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crusty Butt

As my loyal blog readers know, I have just returned from a brief trip to Kansas City. What you may not know is that Kansas City is the destination of my westernmost trip in the continental U.S. Seriously, I've never been to California, Montana, Utah, Colorado, the list goes on and on. Whenever Chris and I talk about mountain biking out west, I try to stress to him that although I want to visit some of our fine western states, I do not want to mountain bike there.

Dedicated mountain bikers just look at me funny when I explain that I have no desire to ride my bike in the mountain biking mecca, Moab. The reason is simple. Even though these places look beautiful in pictures, the fact is, they also look hard. Terrifying, really.

I'm not even close to mastering the trails that are right here in the Great Lakes State. The reality is, the trails out west are a lot harder.

Everyone who reads this blog knows that my biggest challenge in mountain biking is fear. I'm afraid of trails that are even the least bit challenging because I lack confidence. My husband tries to to explain to me that if I got better and just rode more, I would become more confident and, thus, braver. So far it has not happened, but I also realize that I haven't ridden nearly enough to see a difference.

At any rate, Chris' aunt has graciously provided us with a timeshare for a week as a wedding present. After poring over her book and looking at all the options, we just made reservations here. We're going next August and it looks phenomenal.

I'm extremely excited for the trip, but there's one problem. It goes without saying that you can't go to Crested Butte (or Crusty Butt, as my husband likes to call it) and not go mountain biking. If I did I know I'd regret it. So, I have 10 months to grow a pair and I have one more reason to get serious about training. As if I needed another!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ben Taddiken

We met Ben a few years ago in Key West when he was playing at Captain Tony's. Up until June, when he decided to sail his boat to the Exumas, he was the best entertainment Key West had to offer.
Ben's a lot of fun to listen to, because he's good at what he does. He plays well, he knows a lot of a wide variety of songs and he just comes across as a really nice guy. Even when we we hadn't been to Key West for a year, he remembered us when we walked into Captain Tony's.

Earlier this year, when we went to Key West to get married, we spent a lot of time listening to Ben play. We also spent a lot of time just hanging out with him, and we left the realm of groupiedom and became his friends. We're hoping we can get to the Exumas next spring to visit, but since he was back on his parents' farm in Kansas for a short period, we decided this was the closest we would be for a while. With that in mind, we decided to drive 750 miles to watch him play in a bar on the outskirts of Kansas City.

Last night we caught his show, and it was well worth it. After his show ended, we sat in the bar and talked until closing time. That still didn't seem like enough, so we wandered over to Denny's and spent another couple hours just sitting around, eating and talking.

We ended up getting back to our hotel, exhausted at about 4:45 a.m. I think it was later than we even stayed out in Key West, but we had a great time. Unfortunately, morning came all too early and we're packing up to make the trek to southeast Missouri this afternoon.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


It looks like I may be teamless next year. I realize that I've only been on a team for a year and in the beginning I didn't know if I wanted to join, but I really enjoyed it. I like going to a race and knowing there will be team members to hang out with while I'm waiting to race. That's something I'm definitely going to miss. There was a certain camaraderie there I haven't experienced in a long time. My teammates always cheered me on even though I was ridiculously slow.

I just found out that the team I was on this year probably won't exist unless someone else is willing to do the legwork. Jake took responsibility for the chapter team this year and I think he really had a disappointing experience. He put a lot of time and effort into it and ended up doing all the work, not getting the amount of participation he expected and having a lot of drama with our sponsor. Personally, he experienced a lot of success racing and continued to get better throughout the year. He may have good luck securing a sponsor for himself for next year, and I can't blame him for wanting to do that. He's done a lot for our MMBA chapter for a while and seems to be experiencing some burnout. I am as much of a culprit as anyone else, but I do realize that there are a lot of folks who are members in name only and don't get involved. That makes for the same people doing all the work all the time and the understandable amount of burnout. On top of all that, Jake was on the receiving end of a crappy, completely unwarranted tongue-lashing from our sponsor, who has serious issues.

I guess there's the chance I could join another team, but let's face it, sponsors aren't really knocking down my door. The fact of the matter is, the only team that will take me is probably one that will take everyone and I don't think there are many of them out there.

In other news, I'm officially done with work now. We leave for our trip to Kansas City tomorrow to visit this guy and on to Lake Wappapello to hang with Chris' family for a couple days. When I get back, I'll be ready to dive into my new career and training schedule with a vengeance.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm Live!

Chris and I finished up the last few tweaks on my new professional freelance writing Web site last night and uploaded it. In two more days, I'll be seriously self-employed. Check out my site, and if you know anyone who needs freelance writing work done, send them my way.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Job Chronicles

I realize my blog hasn't had much to do with bikes, riding or racing lately. My focus has been elsewhere with all the changes happening in my life and although I believe very strongly that I should start training as I mentioned in my last race report, it hasn't happened yet.

It will, of course, sound like I'm making excuses and putting things off, but believe me, there's a time coming when excuses will no longer hold water. So, I'm going to try to formulate a more definite plan about what I want to do to train and when I will start.

In the interim, I'm trying to take care of a few things as they relate to my job situation. For those of you who want an update, this coming week is my last at my current job. I'm also in negotiations with a company (that is currently not blowing me off, I was just a little paranoid) that is going to give me some contract work. Chris and I have also been working furiously to get my professional Web site up and running, and it's very close to being finished. There are just some samples that need to be uploaded and I need to find (or have Chris take) a decent, professional photo of me for the front page. With that and a few tweaks, it should be good to go. I'll have it up by the end of next week. I'll post a link on this blog, just in case you want to send any freelance commercial writing business my way.

We're leaving on a trip on Oct. 20, and I plan to take my bike. Last year, we got in some good riding in Missouri, where Chris' grandma lives. When we get back, I plan to start with weights and doing intervals on the trainer to try to improve by the end of the
Kisscross season. Hopefully, I won't have too much free time, but just enough to make it convenient to train.

Di and Ali, my apologies for the demise of my food posting. I plan to get back to that starting tomorrow, regardless of how bad it is.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

An Open Letter to Bob Fish

With a nod to Fat Cyclist, I present this letter to Bob Fish, CEO and co-founder of Biggby, wherein I confidently ask for a job.

Dear Bob:

You don't know me, but you should. You see, I'm currently in search of a company to employ me, one I can be proud of. In the next couple of weeks, I'll be leaving the Lansing-based professional association where I've spent more than eight years gaining valuable experience and honing my communications skills. I believe I can put those skills to good use at Biggby, so I wanted to let you know I'm available.

There are many things about Biggby I find exciting and I know I can transmit that allure to the printed and electronic page, whether it be writing press releases, blog posts, copy for a tri-fold brochure or any other communication materials. I enjoy Biggby beverages and I would give my right arm for one of your cinnamon muffins (that may be a slight exaggeration). What's more, I like the way you communicate and I want to be part of that. Your blog, your Facebook page, your practice of having coffee with your patrons, even the friendliness of Biggby staff as I'm waiting for my beverage—they're all indications of a desirable corporate culture.

You may wonder what's in it for you. I've already mentioned the skill and experience I have, but that's not even the best part. In a society where most employees come and go and are constantly looking for something better, I have a loyalty and dedication you'll find refreshing. My commitment to producing the best quality work and setting others on fire with the passion I have for my subject matter are things you just won't find elsewhere.

I'll be available beginning Oct. 27 and I'm sure I'll be hearing from you soon, even if it's just so I can give you more information.

Oh, and one last thing—that comment you read on my blog yesterday about how I couldn't call your company Biggby? Yeah, that was just a joke. I can call it Biggby. Biggby, Biggby, Biggby. See?

Thanks for your time and for visiting my blog.


Andrea Davis

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Truth

Yesterday was the Calendonia Kisscross race. It was a beautiful day, though it seemed a little chilly before I started my warmup lap. I think I may have been better off with my mountain bike, given that the course contained more dirt, wood chips and roots than is usual. However, I did my best and rode down a lot of hills that seemed scary on my cross bike.
I finished last, which is not unusual. Billy, the eight-year-old (maybe nine now?) son of our friend Frank raced as well. Last year during Kisscross, I was able to beat Billy. Once I almost lapped him. This year, Billy finished well ahead of me at Highland Park, even though he missed the start and jumped in after I had already finished at least half a lap. At the Caledonia race, he finished 9th out of 20. Either he's getting better or I'm getting worse (or both).

I started thinking during the race and have continued thinking about it since. Here are some truths I've been examining:
  • I suck at racing, both mountain bike and cyclocross.
  • Racing alone, without training in between, doesn't make you any faster.
  • I've been so busy patting myself on the back for having the guts to race and finish races that I haven't trained at all.
  • I'm not going to get any better unless I start training.
The conclusion that I've come to is that if I just continue with the way I've been doing things, it's just stupid and pointless. I either need to train or I need to quit racing. Plain and simple.
Now let me qualify that a bit. There is something to be said for doing something just because it's fun. There's also something to be said for not needing to be first all the time. And doing something that involves physical activity and getting outside is undoubtedly better than sitting on the couch eating chips. However, the fact of the matter is, I've been letting my laziness get in the way of improving at something I'd like to be better at. I've also been giving myself a pass for that laziness just because I've been making the effort to get out there and to finish races. I don't like being last, but it hasn't bothered me enough to quit or do something to make myself better, and that's just wrong.
I can't continue to rest on my laurels, and I can't keep telling myself how much guts and determination I have just because I'm racing and finishing. The truth is, any reasonably healthy adult with no debilitating diseases, in or out of shape, could finish one of these races. It's just a matter of how fast or slow you do it.

So what do I need to do? The clear answer is that I have to train, because I really don't want to quit racing. I just need to come up with a plan, so I'll have to start working on that.

Today's Eating
(This is as of 4:45 p.m., so I'll have to do some updating later.)
  • Breakfast: Nutrisystem Nutrifrosted Crunch cereal (cal. 110)
  • Morning Snack: Peanut butter Fiber One bar (cal. 150)
  • Lunch: Hot dog (?)
  • Afternoon snack: Lowfat yogurt (lemon meringue pie flavor) (cal. 100)


Yesterday was a really bad day for eating. I'm not going to attempt to match everything with calories, but in the interest of full disclosure, I at least try to record everything I had during my eating/drinking binge.
  • Nutrisystem blueberry pancake with sugar-free syrup
  • Small apple
  • 1/2 a Kashi Go Lean peanut butter and chocolate protein & fiber far
  • Grande caramel apple cider with whipped cream from Beaner's (sorry, Biggby, you're always going to be Beaner's, no matter how ridiculously p.c. you try to become)
  • Cinnamon muffin from Beaner's
  • Small bag of chex mix
  • Snickers bar
  • 1 Malibu & diet
  • Caesar salad
  • Pasta carbonara (fettucine with bacon and cream sauce)
  • 1 mammoth bread stick
  • 2 "Fantasy Island" (Captain, Parrott Bay, orange juice and grenadine)
  • 1 more Malibu & diet
  • 2 handfuls of Frito's

Analysis: Ugh. Today is a new day.

Friday, October 3, 2008


This week turned out to be unexpectedly hellish. There are a few reasons why:
  • No more half day Fridays.
  • The unsavory project I'm doing at work is completely frustrating me. (It doesn't help that it seems pointless and a waste of my time, or anyone's for that matter.)
  • I thought I had a good lead for a freelancing project, but the company seems to be blowing me off and I have no idea why.
  • I've been fighting with my husband.
  • One of my friends seems to be blowing me off and I have no idea why.
  • It's freezing in my house.

Luckily, it's the weekend and I was able to hit the dog park with the girls and get some exercise. Even though it was chilly, it was nice to get outside and I had a chance to think of some positive things.

  • I have great puppies. They love me no matter what and they don't care what anyone else thinks of me.
  • Cyclocross race tomorrow, woo hoo!
  • Kryne's bachelorette party is tomorrow night. I haven't been to one in years and I expect it to be fun.
  • I have a gift certificate for a pedicure my mom got me. Mom rocks!
  • The sun was finally shining.
  • Hockey starts next week. Go green, go white!
  • I started working on the website for my freelancing business this week.
  • I have some networking opportunities coming up. Hopefully, I'll get some business out of them.

Wait a minute, that's way more positive things than negative things. Don't tell me I'm becoming a glass half full person!

Today's Eating
  • Breakfast: Nutrisystem oatmeal (cal. 150), small apple (cal. 55)
  • Lunch: 6 rosemary & olive oil triscuits (cal. 120), lowfat cheese stick (cal. 80), Nutrisystem pasta & beef (cal. 180)
  • Afternoon snack: Wheat toast with strawberry jam (cal. 250)
  • Dinner: Nutrisystem BBQ beef, beans and rice (cal. 220), broccoli with cheese (cal. 110)
  • Snack: Zesty herb snack mix (cal. 120)

Analysis: Total calories for today was 1285. That's actually not bad. I still need to eat way more fruits and vegetables, but I need to go to the store and buy some first.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Today's Food

I have nothing exciting to write about tonight, so I'm just going to post my food, as promised.

  • Breakfast: Nutrisystem Oatmeal (cal. 150), small apple (cal. 55)
  • Morning snack: 6 rosemary & olive oil triscuits (cal. 120), lowfat cheese stick (cal. 80)
  • Lunch: Ate at Vinaigrette's! 1/2 cashew wildberry salad (mixed greens, mozzarella cheese, cashews, strawberries, blackberries, roast chicken and raspberry vinaigrette dressing), cup of Minnesota chicken & wild rice soup, slice of homemade sourdough bread, chocolate covered strawberry
  • Dinner: Nutrisystem tacos (cal. 220), shredded cheese (cal. 80), 2 tbsp. salsa (cal. 20)
  • Snack: Nutrichocolates (cal. 180)

Analysis: I definitely need to eat more fruit and vegetables, but overall, not too bad. If I would quit eating out, I would probably be able to get an accurate calorie count for the entire day. I know I eat out too much, but I've been eating so well otherwise that it's definitely an improvement. Chances are, I'm not going to quit going to Vinaigrette's until I'm dead broke, though, because I love, love, love it!

Jake Debuts in the Blogosphere

My much faster teammate Jake, who was recently prominently featured on my blog having acupuncture, has started a blog of his own. He's also trying to raise money for a good cause, so please check out his site and make a donation if you feel so inclined.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

They made me eat fries!

Several days ago, I shared my intention of setting some goals for the Fall/winter season and posting them to my blog. The time has come to start. I'm going to post some training goals soon (hopefully tomorrow), but today I'm going to start with some weight loss goals. After all, as fast as training could make me, not having to haul about 50 extra pounds of ass on an uphill would make so much of a difference.

Those of you who know me understand that I've been dealing with this issue for most of my life. I'm always losing or gaining. I'm hoping that one of these days it's going to take.

That being said, I always think writing something down promotes accountability, so I would like to record the following goal: I, Andrea Davis, will lose 50 pounds by Oct. 1, 2009.

A more specific goal throughout the Fall and winter is to lose 5 pounds a month. If I can maintain this, it will mean a loss of 30 pounds by April 1. This will mean a pretty steady loss, but it is not overly ambitious. I think not giving myself ridiculously aggressive weight loss goals is important because I plan to try to be reasonable and not extremely restrictive so as to not feel deprived and fall off the wagon.

And, as a nod to accountability, Di, Ali and I will be recording our daily food intake on our blogs. So, the results of my first day are below.

Oh, and about those fries. We stopped by our favorite watering hole after work to socialize and grab a bite to eat. I asked for a salad instead of fries because I didn't want to have to record fries on my blog. Unfortunately, I was brought both a salad and fries. I had to eat the fries or they would have been wasted.

Now I know what my two loyal blog readers are thinking. I didn't have to eat the fries. I'm an adult, I have a mind of my own, yada, yada, yada. The truth of the matter is it's a lot easier to resist fries on a menu than it is when they're sitting in front of you and you can smell them. I will resist next time, though.

Today's Intake

(You may notice I am following a modified Nutrisystem plan, meaning I am trying to clean all the Nutrisystem food out of my cupboards so it doesn't go to waste. My eating does not, however, reflect the actual Nutrisystem plan, lest some of you are deluded into thinking it includes bar food.)
  • Breakfast: Nutrisystem cinnamon swirl granola bar (cal. 150), small apple (cal. 55)
  • Morning snack: Kashi pumpkin spice flax bar (cal. 180)
  • Lunch: Nutrisystem pasta with beef (cal. 180), broccoli with cheese (cal. 110)
  • Afternoon snack: 6 rosemary & olive oil Triscuits (cal. 120), lowfat cheese stick (cal. 80)
  • Dinner: cherry burger, tossed salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, French fries (no idea on the calories, but a lot!)