Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Raced Dave Wiens and Lived to Tell About It

Better late than never, I guess? That's the story of this blog post, and unfortunately, it was the story of my short track race, too. On that frigid day, I was on a groupie high and geeked about racing "against" Dave Wiens in the same race. So much so that I didn't pay attention to some of the things I probably should have. After messing with my shoe covers for a few minutes without success, I left them behind and lived to regret it.

We lined up at the start of the race. Brad gave us a short spiel thanking the 15 of us who came out and explaining why we were having the race at the golf course. (MMBA Mid-State is attempting to have the venue made into a permanent bike park since it's been lying dormant for three years. More about that in another post, though.) He let the A racers go, and a few seconds later let us B racers take off.

During the race, it seemed like forever since I had last raced in the Kisscross finale at Holland. The format seemed very much like cyclocross without the barriers, though. The riding was mostly done on crunchy grass, with a few patches of ice I was able to avoid. In the first lap, I managed to keep from being dead last for a bit. As the only female out there, I had to represent. Soon enough, I was all by myself in the back. I refused to get discouraged. After all, it was for fun and I had no great ambitions for the race. I just wanted to finish.

The most challenging thing about the race, in my experience, was riding up the sledding hill. It looked a little daunting when I saw racers in front of me walking it, but I didn't want to walk anything. That's what the granny gear is for, after all. I ended up riding it each lap, cheered on by a couple of people (including former teammate David Frost) watching at the top.

One of the things that still stands out about the race, now that it's been several weeks since the event, is something that happened to me during the second lap. Now I'm used to getting lapped. It happens all the time in Kisscross. I was definitely expecting to get lapped—it was just a matter of when it happened. Near the beginning of the lap, Dave Wiens lapped me and shouted some encouraging comments. At the end of the same lap, I heard someone coming up behind me and look to see that it was Dave passing me again! This was enough to put a huge grin under my balaclava. Yes, Dave Wiens lapped me twice on the same lap! And instead of being disheartening, it kind of made me feel like I had just joined some ultra cool club. I talked about it for the rest of the day.

The last thing that happened during the race was that I finally finished my last lap, far behind the other competitors. It looked like all the spectators had gone home, but as I approached the finish line, a bunch of people came out from the shelter of the building. It's great to cheer on the champions, and I highly encourage it, but sometimes it's the people in DFL who appreciate it most. It was nice, and almost made me forget about the fact that my toes were about to fall off.

Many thanks to Brad and Chris for all the work they put into this race, and to Laurie who took my picture after my photographer refused to get out of bed. Hopefully, Mid-state will have many more races to come.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I haven't been reading any blogs, either, if it makes you feel any better.

Soon. I promise.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Having Friends Makes You Fat

Okay, so it's an excuse, and a pretty lame one at that. But a few weeks ago we started hanging out with this couple, Karen and David. We've gone out with them every weekend for the past several, sometimes twice a weekend. We were at their house both Friday and Saturday night this weekend until the wee hours of the morning. I'm really enjoying it because even though I love my husband, it gets old to hang out with just each other all the time. And although we have other friends, we rarely do anything with them, especially in the winter when we're not at races and such. And some people we know are really cool, but they just live too far away.

But having "couple friends" is an interesting dynamic I've never really experienced before and it's really cool. Plus they like to watch hockey as much as we do. But instead of getting all ridiculous about how wonderful our friends are and gushing like a teenage girl with a new boyfriend, I need to talk about what the problem is. 

When we get together with them, which is quite often, as I've mentioned, there is always food. We either go out to a bar or a restaurant and drink and order food, or we go to their house. At their house they always have food because they are grown ups. (They don't avoid the grocery store like the plague like I do and then have to go out or order in.) They do things like cook meals at home and put out bowls of snacks when people come over. They also have teenage sons and a constant parade of their sons' friends in and out of the house, so the munchies are plentiful. They have a fully stocked bar AND a malt making machine. 

So, what to do? Quitting hanging out with them? That seems unlikely at this point and I think I'd go through some kind of serious type of withdrawal. I guess I just have to learn some self-control. Or start training even harder. I'll let you know when I decide.

By the way, I am still contemplating writing a race report for the short track race. Maybe I will do it tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just torture Ali with the possibility.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Know, Right?

This may be the longest lapse in my blog updating in recent history. All my loyal readers have probably been pondering this with great interest, wondering "why? why would she leave us hanging like this?" There are a number of possible reasons:
  • Writer's block?
  • Ashamed to return after self-admitted, embarrassing groupie behavior?
  • Amnesia?
  • Too busy?
The answer is "None of the above." Rather than having writer's block, I have actually thought of quite a few topics to write about, just haven't actually written about any of them. I learned to stop being embarrassed about my groupie tendencies in high school when people I didn't even know came up to me to tell me they were sorry when Eric Clapton's son fell out of a window and plunged to his death. Amnesia would be a great reason, but I haven't had any blows to the head lately, so that pretty much rules that one out.

Too busy? This is one is probably the most plausible, but it's not true, either. Although I have been kind of slammed at work, none of it has seeped over into my personal life. I have had plenty of time to do other things in the past couple of weeks. For example:
  • Riding the trainer
  • Working out with Jillian DVD
  • Riding outside
  • Taking the puppy girls to the dog park
  • Reading
  • Sitting on Facebook
  • Working on some promotion for Beyond the Ride, the clinic Anne is doing (and I am helping with) in March
  • Hanging out on numerous occasions with our new friends Karen and Dave
So now that I know that the suspense is killing you all, I'll admit the real reason. Laziness. Plain and simple. Every time I've thought about updating the blog, I just felt like doing something else (like sitting on the couch reading my book) more.

Sorry. I will try to get back on track now.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Accidental Groupie

I've had a couple bouts with groupie-dom in my lifetime. I'm not ashamed to admit it. But while all my friends were fawning over pictures from Teen Beat, I had something a little more serious in mind.

This gentleman is Eric Clapton. You may have heard of him. He's a virtuoso—arguably one of the best guitar players of all times. But a teen heartthrob he's not, at least he wasn't in 1988, when I was 15. Still, I was bound and determined that I was going to marry this guy, despite the fact that he was a rock hero, was 28 years my senior, had a lousy track record for relationships and a history of substance abuse and was living in England at the time. I had birthday parties for him on his birthday. I listened to his music constantly and I bought and saved every piece of press I could find on him. I saw him in concert. When I was 19, I actually got chased out of his office in London by the secretary. You could say I was a groupie. But I digress.

Remember this guy?

I'll admit that when we headed for Leadville in August I didn't really know who he was. I'll also admit that I went there specifically to see Lance finish and was disappointed when I didn't. But something else was happening there. Everyone was excited about him. Everyone was cheering for him. Everyone loved him. I started to think there must be something to it. The more I read about him, the more I liked him. When I watched Race Across the Sky, I thought that really clinched it for me. He was obviously a great guy. But it didn't compare to meeting him in person and experiencing first-hand how he treats people.

My Dave Wiens groupie story began at the Short Track Race. (I apologize to those of you who have already heard this story ad nauseum. Feel free to skip this part.) When I pulled into the parking lot, I thought I saw him sitting in the vehicle next to me. As I was getting ready, three guys got out, and sure enough there was Dave. I tried not to stare at him, but I could tell I was grinning like crazy. I kept looking over and one of the times he smiled at me and spoke.


"Hi, Dave."

He walked toward me, held out his hand for me to shake and said "And you are?"

(A Dave Wiens groupie?) "I'm Andrea. Thanks a lot for coming. We're really excited to have you here."

"Thanks for asking me."

Somehow I finished getting my bike ready and concentrated on the race. My next experience with Dave Wiens came when he lapped me as I was beginning the second lap. Of course, he was very encouraging as he passed me. That was also the case when he lapped me the next time at the end of the same lap. That's right. He lapped me twice on the same lap. If it had been anyone else, I would have been completely humiliated, but I actually felt kind of proud.

Dave started his presentation by telling us he wasn't really used to being a guest speaker and he was nervous. He had about five pages of notes and 100 slides. The slides were really cool because there were a lot of pictures of the Gunnison/Crested Butte area. I sat in the front row, hung on every word and took scads of pictures.

Afterward, I dutifully stood in line to get my photo taken with him. I got the opportunity to chat with him for a minute about Crested Butte and wanting to move there. When I asked him how we could do it, he answered me with a question: "Are you independently wealthy?"


But it gets better. They held some kind an after-party in a room at an East Lansing brewpub and I ended up sitting next to Dave Wiens. We sat there for a couple of hours CHATTING with him.

Let me say this starkly, if I haven't made it clear already: This guy is so down to earth it's completely incredible. He's in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. He raced against Lance Armstrong and won. Yet, he is ridiculously NICE. Sometimes, it's really good to be a groupie.

P.S. More about the rest of the weekend and the Expo in my next post, along with an update on how I did last week