Wednesday, October 19, 2011
October brings out the best things in life: pumpkins, pretty leaves, the smell of crisp autumn air, and sweatshirts.
It also brings out one of my favorite annual events: the Hilly Hundred.
The Hilly first began in June 1968 with only 54 riders touring central Indiana. It has since evolved down to Greene, Monroe and Owen Counties with its main headquarters in Ellettsville, Ind., and houses over 5,000 riders from all over the world. The nonprofit organization Central Indiana Bicycling Association (CIBA) sponsors the Hilly and raises funds for bike safety education, bicycle awareness, and promoting the health, recreational, economic, social and cultural benefits of cycling.
This year was my second year riding in the Hilly. In 2010, my dad assured me I'd be A-OKAY riding even though I hadn't ridden since early July. I went out on that Saturday morning, chilly but excited. By the end of the day, I told my dad, "Dad, my muscles aren't attached to my bones!"
The hills are excruciating and amazing. I felt weak all of Sunday and couldn't walk down my apartment's stairs, let alone ride a bike for 50 more miles.
2011 brought a new outlook on the ride though. After completing plenty of lengthy bike rides, I promoted the Hilly to my RideOn teammates and begged them to join. Helen, Morgan and our new teammate Mary Horton came along on Saturday. My dad and I met up with the girls and road 58 miles.
Morgan and Mary had never ridden it before and were dumbfounded by all of the bikes, food, and events that carried on throughout the day. Helen rode the Hilly in high school with her deCycles group and saw her old companions along the way.
Once the ride ended and we were safely in Ellettsville again, the five of us trudged over to the giant tent in the front parking lot of Edgewood High School to receive our free ice cream and shop for all of the great deals on cycling gear.
As if the cycling atmosphere and spandex shorts weren't enough for us, we were lucky enough to have one of the most beautiful October days of the year. Sunny and blue, we rode against the wind, up hills, and through winding roads.
Although the day was amazing, none of RideOn made it out for the second half of the ride on Sunday. Dad, of course, did because he's awesome like that. I, instead, rested and went shopping with my mom while we waited for Daddy to finish.
The best thing about bicycles, though, isn't the riding or beautiful views. We build a community of riders. A common group who love to ride. And I bet, I bet my left pinky toe, that no rider could ever explain in words the joy he or she receives from getting out on the road.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
We found Morgan at a callout, she claimed she had never ridden a bike before bbut was still interested. I remember texting her saying ‘Well if you want to ride you need to come to practice today.’ And she showed up, jumped on a stationary bike and told us that she had just transferred from Syracuse. She was painfully quiet and I wasn’t sure what to think of her the first few times we interacted. She seemed like a nice enough girl but I wasn’t able to get to know her very well. I remember her telling me that she didn’t need to ride that year; she was just testing out the waters. I was selfishly happy she said this because it meant we would have one less broken heart come race day. I went on a retreat with another organization and randomly ran into Morgan’s boyfriend’s roommate who assured me she was a great girl but that life at Syracuse hadn’t been much fun.
Time passed and Morgan wasn’t able to be with us on spring break but by this time she was getting rave reviews from all our other teammates. When I finally had enough time to give to little five I met a Morgan who wasn’t even recognizable as the girl at the first practice. This Morgan was loud, hilarious and full of joy. It was impossible to go to practice with her and not become a little bit more obsessed with her. Laura would always recount tales of how awesome she was when she would give me track updates. Morgan became my role model, she showed up every day knowing she wasn’t racing with a positive attitude and the will to improve. I loved watching her in ITTs and Miss-n-Out and hanging out with her at various team dinners. The night before the race she declared her major after a couple months of exploration and I have never seen a happier person. As we sat in Danielle’s front lawn she assured all of us that the race was going to be great and she was going to be standing right behind us the whole time.
After we finished the 100th lap on race day she jumped over the fence and hugged all of us. I can’t remember what she said to all of us right then but I know we were all crying. She gave our team light and hope through it all and became a woman I am eternally grateful to call a friend. She will be a rider again next year and a director in SAA and I know I will continue to look to her as a role model of humility and positivity. I think all the women of RideOn would agree with me when I say that Morgan Smith truly was the backbone of our team. And she will have me bawling next year when I get to see her ride, so get excited for the longest and tightest hug you have ever gotten girl.
5 AM Spring Break Workout
It is impossible to know Trish and not be inspired by her. There are so many reasons to be. She has a grace and poise about her as she works with 100s of students a year that puts us all at ease. She has the ability to challenge us to be better version of ourselves without coming off as cruel or overbearing. And in the last year if you have watched her transform her body, losing over 150 pounds, through hard work, dedication and self-sacrifice you can’t help but stand in awe.
I like to think I have more reasons than most to be inspired by her. She is the only reason my dream of creating RideOn came to fruition. Without her I probably wouldn’t have gotten to ride again and 100s of students, families and fans wouldn’t have been able to experience the fun and passion of the Little 500 season. She helped us build a budget, create Rider’s agreements, and start a tradition of service to the community and alumni association.
But she did more than that for me. She helped me be the captain that my team needed. I spent many afternoons in Trish’s office asking her for advice on interpersonal conflicts, how to challenge riders and how to bring RideOn together. We had many discussions about where we wanted to go with the team and how excited she was for the race and to see us all ride. Through it all she was constantly supportive and encouraging, she gave me the confidence to make decisions for the team and stand behind them. She taught me what being a leader really meant and pulled me outside of my comfort zone as a friend and teammate. The joy she had about being our official timer on race day was unmatched by any of our fans. It is truly remarkable the amount of time, energy and love she gave to us all. None of us will ever forget that.
Next year Trish can get excited for text messages and phone calls haranguing her to go on rides with us or pressuring her into racing in the alumni ride. Even though her role with the team will change, I know she will still be our backbone. I can’t imagine going to ITTs in the freezing
Without these women I can’t imagine how different not only RideOn would have been but my life as well. I am lucky that neither of them plans on escaping Bloomington anytime soon and I can’t wait for many more bike rides, meals and fun together. So thanks ladies!
It is amazing to think that a little over a month ago I was standing on the track at Bill Armstrong Stadium waiting for the race to begin and the clouds to part (sadly the second part never happened). I had the time of my life on the track that day. Isaac was actually mad at me for smiling too big at one point. Having the opportunity to ride in the Little 500, something so unique to Indiana University, is awe-inspiring and thrilling. To race for RideOn and represent the Student Alumni Association was a true honor and to share that with 6 of my best girl friends was so amazingly joyous.
For those of you who were at the race you saw the outpouring of love that we all share as a team. The cinders embedded in our legs, the sweat, the tears and the calories we left on the track unite us all. However, RideOn shares more than that. We are proud to say we built our team from scratch. Over a year ago I brought this idea to the Student Alumni Association. We wanted to create a tradition in the organization of having a competitive cycling squad. But I don’t think any of us imagined what creating a team meant.
There were definitely times when I never thought we would get to the track. I remember one evening in particular completely breaking down in the middle of a solo ride and screaming at two plastic lawn ornaments. Telling them that it would make my life so much easier if they could transform into Danielle and Laura who were out of the state and the country at the time. We ironically took a picture with these deer on another fateful day months later.
But with second semester came new hope. Blake and Nate created a committee who built a huge team of support around us. Then Laura and Danielle came back, Helen stuck with us and Morgan and Kelsey fell into our laps all in a matter of weeks. Laura taught all the girls how to have confidence on the track while our SAA team designed t-shirts, put on events and kept me sane. It seemed like we would finally get to the race. I don’t think I will ever be so relieved as the day we qualified for the race. I remember looking Laura straight in the eyes and saying, “Shit, I didn’t think we were going to do that on the first time.” The two of us finally took a breath.
But through the stress and the uncertainty, a team was born. A group of random girls came together on the track. We learned exchanges, how to push each other and how to instantly make each other’s day. But more importantly we created a tradition. There will always be girls wearing red and black cycling jackets during spring break in Bloomington training to represent SAA. Those girls feel the pain of a hard workout, the joy of racing and the fun of being hit on by multiple guy’s teams since all the other IU females are in Panama City, just as we did.
We can’t fully begin to appreciate what we were a part of and what RideOn will mean to us going forward. I do know one thing is certain; you better bet that I will be wearing my RideOn jacket to many more Little 500s. I am sure I will cry with joy like I did on race day when I watch Claire Bliss ride (no pressure) and hopefully many years from now when I see my own daughter take the track. One thing I know for sure is that I will be a Little 500 alum and a founding member of RideOn forever and there are few things I will ever be more proud of.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
My upstairs room changed from baby pink to smurf blue and white to its current sky blue and lime green. Each change required throwing junk out, rearranging furniture and, of course, the bickering between mother and daughter. Walking out of my room across the hall led me to my bathroom.
I shared the bathroom with my big brother -- and then a few years later, my little brother too. The blue fishy shower curtain matched the fishy rug I stood on each morning and night to use my toothbrush that rested in its fishy toothbrush cup. As we grew, the fishy rug faded and the fishy curtain looked "stupid," my brothers said. (I, however, loved each fish and had established a friendship with every one of them.)
At my disapproval, I had to say goodbye. A striped curtain replaced my friends, and the rugs swam to a hiding place in the back of the laundry room. Our elementary fish drawings found new walls to hang on, and Mom hung random memorabilia on the old nails.
Four months ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you what hung on those nails, one by the doorway and another above the toilet I sat on every day of my life.
But last week as I drug bag after bag of tshirts and dresses I hardly wear to to my room to house for this summer, my bladder wanted to punch me. It pierced my lower abdomen, yelling "That's what you get for consuming three water bottles on the drive home."
I skipped -- if you could call it a skip -- maybe an awkward lunge-gallop-run. I lunged-galloped-ran to my toilet, the toilet I've known since I was five. The bathroom hadn't changed at all. It was cleaner than when I lived at home due to my little brother's obsessive compulsive behaviors, but the walls and towels were unchanged. Same color scheme since high school, same pictures on the walls. Before I could sit down, my eyes scanned the "random memorabilia" above the toilet that had hung there since we forced the fishies out.
In a red frame, cyclists zoomed toward me. I wondered if any of them had to pee when the photo was taken as badly as I did at that moment. The bottom of the photo said Little 500. The poster was older than I, from the years when my dad had raced. It had hung in the family room for years before it transferred to above my toilet.
I'd always ignored it.
Until I moved home last week, I never paid that picture any attention.
I sat on the toilet to release my bladder from its agony, but my eyes began to trickle first. I rode in the Little 500. The race I'd heard stories about and seen Daddy's scars from -- now I could share stories and show off my scars. Like a home toilet that wasn't missed until I moved out of the house, I didn't realize what the race meant to me until after it was over. I don't think anyone who doesn't participate fully understands the way it changes you.
I'm a part of the largest college week in a way very few understand. If it weren't for us, the week wouldn't exist. If it weren't for those first participants in 1951, I wouldn't be able to cry on my toilet from viewing a poster on the wall.
It's a tradition, a legacy and a blast.
And I'm a small fraction of that!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
We had the final practice race of the season and we looked strong. Laura started us off and kept us on the lead lap and with the top ten teams. Most of us got a chance to get on the track and experience a taste of what race day will be like. As a veteran I feel very lucky because I know what is coming. I feel like I am holding an amazing secret, because the girls have no idea how much fun they are going to have yet.
It would be impossible to truly put into words what it means to be on that track on race day with thousands of people cheering and all your best friends in matching shirts. Your heart swells and you feel this numbing feeling of pride in Indiana. There are few things more true to the University's core than the Little 500. Here students come to throw their hearts and bodies on the line to compete for essentially bragging rights for the next year and to raise money to support their fellow students. You feel this connectedness with all the riders past and present that can't ever be fully explained. If you have been lucky enough to witness a Little 500 in Bill Armstrong stadium you have had a taste of this passion and pride and for those of you who will be going for the first time, GET EXCITED!
So thank you all for your outpouring of support this year and we can't wait to share next Friday with you. And for my girls, who are checking the blog instead of homework, I love all of you very much. I think I may burst with pride when I see all of you ride on Friday. And I can't help but feel sorta like Santa since I have had the privilege to put the Little 500 in your lives. And trust me this is better than Christmas.
Thank you all! Enjoy spring and GET EXCITED only 8 days to the Women's Little 500!!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Other Spring Series Events are fairly simple, "ride hard, turn left" but Team Pursuit requires the rare opportunity for a cyclist to do some thinking. Communication and teamwork are the keys to performing well as each team's four riders must stay in a tight pack throughout the entire 12 laps. Team members take turns in the lead position, where each woman is responsible for determining the team's speed as well as taking the full force of the wind for her teammates. This is where communication becomes crucial, as the ladies behind must let their leader know if she is going too fast, if she can speed up, or if someone has dropped off the pack. Each team is allowed to drop one of their four riders, but must complete the event with three women in the pack, as the third cyclist's rear wheel determines the team's time for the event.
While all of this internal communication is happening, there of course is another team on the track! And the event is called Team Pursuit for a reason, as each team is in "hot pursuit" of the team across the track from them.
So come out and support us this Saturday as we pursue the Air Force Women!!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
I then lay in bed, watching Days of Our Lives on Hulu and documentaries on Netflix. After a good 3 hours of not falling asleep, I slowly drift into a state of relaxing until my alarm goes off.
This past week RideOn participated in Individual Time Trials on Wednesday.
On Saturday, we were up by 6:30 to act as pace car for the IU Mini Marathon, and then lounged around until noon for our second Spring Series Event of the week, Miss N Out.
Speaking for the team, we are exhausted.
Last night I fell asleep six minutes into the latest episode of Days of Our Lives.
Thank you, Little 500, for bringing hours of sleep into my life.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Thanks for all the amazing support you gave us on Saturday. Thanks to you all we are in the top half of the race. We will have a pit in turn 3 (the turn on the back stretch closet to the entrance) and our jerseys are yellow and orange (easy to spot).
This Wednesday is Individual Time Trials! This is a four lap individual time trial. It begins from a standing start with one rider in each turn. All the women vets, rookies and alternates compete to determine the fastest women in the Little 500. All 6 of our riders will be participating!
6:05 p.m. Danielle Thoe
6:35 Morgan Smith
6:55 Helen Han
7:05 Kelsey Holder
10:25 Laura Bliss
10:45 Megan Caldwell
Also the Alumni Association took some great pictures of us in our kits last week that you can see above. Again we want to thank the Indiana University Alumni Association and Student Alumni Association for all their support. We promise to make you proud on race day and as Alumni!
Check idsnews.com all season for up to date race results and multimedia or follow ids_litte5 on twitter!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Delta Gamma (2:44.76) took the pole for women, while Sigma Nu (2:25.91) took the poll for men. The rest of the race results can be found at the IDS website
Friday, March 25, 2011
You have until March 31st to get your fan t-shirts for RideOn. There are two styles both pictured below. The crew neck is $10 and the v-neck is $15. You can pay with cash, check or Visa. To order a shirt you can stop by the Alumni Center on 17th or you can contact either Blake Wathen firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or any of the riders!! GET THOSE ORDERS IN!!!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
We have Monday through Thursday of this week to perfect our exchanges, chisel down our lap times and mentally prepare for total domination. The past month and a half on the track and the countless hours of training will all culminate next weekend.
Along with ultra-intense training this upcoming week, we will also be doing our fair share of carbo loading. You should all join us in the fun on Friday, March 25th at the DeVault Alumni Center for our RideOn Pasta Dinner. The whole team will be there signing autographs, so get excited!!
Here is an outline of the official rules for Quals. (More detailed information can be found in the 2011 Little 500 Team Manual.)
Qualifications will take place at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The attempt will consist of four consecutive laps, with each designated rider riding one lap. Team qualification times will be determined by a drawing supervised by the Little 500 Cycling Committee.Hopefully that paints a pretty clear picture of what to expect on Saturday. Tomorrow night we have a meeting to find out our assigned qualifications time, so stay tuned for that information. We'd love to have your support while we attempt to qualify!
Upon being instructed to take the track, the number one rider will complete one warm-up lap, and upon crossing the starting line the official timing will begin. After one lap, rider one will exchange the bicycle with rider two. This exchange must take place within 16 feet of either side of the starting line (a total of 32 feet). White lines will mark the exchange zone.
In making the exchange, rider two must be in complete control of the bicycle before the rear wheel crosses the second line indicating the end of the exchange zone. In order for the judges to determine that rider two is in control of the bicycle, it will be necessary for rider two to have sole possession of the bicycle within the exchange zone.
Rider two may not touch the bicycle until the front wheel crosses the first line of the exchange zone. Rider one may not touch the bicycle after the rear wheel of the bicycle has crossed the second line of the exchange zone. Either infraction shall result in a foul.
In the case of a full bike exchange (2 bikes involved), the receiving rider can place his/her bike against the first line of the exchange zone. The rider must stay stationary until a "tag" is executed by the incoming rider. The incoming rider, including bike, must be stopped by the second line of the exchange zone. Failure to do so will result in a foul.
The same exchange shall take place between rider two and rider three, and rider three and rider four. When rider four crosses the finish line, the checkered flag will be waved and the team's qualifying time will be final unless the attempt has been canceled.
The thirty-three teams and their order of starting position will be determined by the official time of the qualification attempts. Ties will be decided by the first team to record that time in the fewest attempts. In the event that a qualified team is disqualified or withdrawals, its position will be considered vacant and qualifiers in lower positions shall be moved up accordingly.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
We had accomplished our mission: see Rooftop Quarry, the quarry made famous by the movie Breaking Away.
On Thursday morning, Megan, Laura and I followed Helen south of Bloomington to find the quarries. Helen, a townie herself, had been to the quarry before and vaguely remembered the paths. Danielle's knee had been hurting from her injury last year, and she opted out of this ride.
After a steadily uphill ride, we rode into a neighborhood and stashed our bikes at the end of a dead-end rode. Trudging into the woods, we found the quarries.
She called her parents to tell them the news.
Laura began planning good angles for photos.
Helen stared in her humble way.
The view easily made Thursday's ride the best of the week and topped any alternative spring break plans we chose not to participate in.
We were looking at a piece of a legend. Rooftop Quarry plays a role in the lives of Bloomington daredevil-ish kids. Teens skip classes to hang out and jump from the tallest rocks into the green, garbage-filled water. The quarry shows the relation between townies and IU college students in the movie Breaking Away. Its personality weaves in and out of Little 500 history.
There we stood, becoming links in this history.
Immersed in the culture, I realized I am part of Little 500.
Ride On is a new piece of this legend.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Part I: Towards the Deer
But first, I had to get off my bike. See this was my first time riding with clip-less pedals and I had yet to take the mandatory first timer spill. So, while coasting to a stop and desperately trying to kick either of my heels sideways I eventually lost all momentum and fell sideways. And because my bike was still attached to me I was stuck on the side of the road, upside down, with my bike literally stuck on top of me. Awkward. If you can’t imagine that sight, Laura was kind enough to capture a picture:
Part II: Homeward Bound?...Eventually
A couple miles after our deer sighting we decided to head back to campus for some lunch before spending the afternoon at the track. With the many flat areas on our ride we decided to take turns leading a paceline. All went well for about six miles before a rough patch of Indiana asphalt took Kelsey’s tire. We stopped to switch out her tube and found her tires near-impossible to remove or put back on. Approximately a half-dozen tire levers and 20 minutes later we were all set to get back on the road…and then Megan looked down. Yepp, Roger with another flat.
At this point Laura and I had been stopped and hunched over in the cold and wet for over a half-hour. Being tightened up and conveniently stopped at the bottom of a hill got the ride back off to a good start. But with some encouragement from camp counselor Laura, she and I both made it back to the DAC alive and well.
Part III: Friends at The Track
After a quick jaunt to Panera it was time to hit the track! During Spring Break, the track is 99.9% filled with, meaning it was LOUD, PACKED, and FAST. And the boys are mean. Alas, we struggled through it, rode some laps, and practiced some exchanges.
After one of these exchanges, which Kelsey did complete perfectly (really), she somehow ended up on the ground and kind of rolled into the pit of the boys of Sigma Alpha Mu. After some conversation with them about our bike’s strange handlebars (see Helen’s crash story) they offered to set us up with a new pair later that evening.
Because we had already planned on having a team dinner that evening we decided to invite the boys over to eat tacos and hang out. The boys had to debate whether they could come eat our chicken or not, see for the Sammy boys their dinners must alliterate and Tuesday was “Turkey Tuesday.” Debate of the ages. In the end they decided they could come eat with us. Now our bike has new handlebars and we’re even friends with some of those mean boys from the track!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
|This logo will appear on the T-shirts we will be selling around campus in the near future. We hope to see you proudly wearing this logo and supporting our team. Locations and dates of sale will be updated on this website at a later date.|
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
After a couple of fast laps, two girls in front of me decided to pull off without really saying anything. I slowed down immediately, and I thought everything was going to be alright. However, there were people riding on the right side of the pace line and those girls could not pull out all the way so they tried to get back into the pace line. I didn't have any choice but to ride into them. There were some scrambling and I went down. I can’t remember if anyone else did.
When I realized what just happened, I was laying on my back on the track, looking at the sky. I saw the EMC people running towards me, heard the announcement about the crash and people asking me "Are you okay? Did you break your collar bone?" Thankfully, I didn’t break anything, but I could feel pain in my side, my hip, my elbow, my quad, and my knees. I laid on the track for another few seconds then I got up. My legs were shaking really hard, because we were going pretty fast in the pace line before the crash. I was coughing my lungs out, not because of the crash but because I’ve been sick forever. People probably thought I was dying or something.
Fortunately, I wasn't seriously injured (I have bruises and cuts, here and there), but unfortunately, the left side of the handlebar was completely bent.
A few moments later, I was thinking, “I have something to write about on the blog!” I was pretty excited. Now I can say that I have crashed on the Little 500 track! It can count as one of my milestones in my cycling life, right? Hopefully it would be my last one, and there won’t be any more from our team.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Two types of exchanges occur in a race: man-to-man and bike-to-bike.
In a man-to-man exchange (Woman-to-woman is what I call it; however, I'm sure rider-to-rider would be politically correct), one rider dismounts the bike while the next rider mounts it. Two techniques are used.
- The dismount-to-mount is most commonly used. The rider on the bike brakes once in the designated pit, lifting her left leg over the bike and dismounting. While this is taking place, the next rider takes off in a sprint, catching the bike handles as the first rider dismounts. The second rider continues to run on the left side of the bike, and throws her right leg over it, landing on the seat.
- The ghost rider sounds as scary as it looks. As the current biker is entering the pit, she brakes with one hand in between her legs on the seat. Pushing off with her hands, she exits the bike from behind. The next rider catches the bike in the same way as the previous and mounts the bike.
Bike-to-bike exchanges take place when the two riders making the exchange have drastic height differences. For instance, Laura Bliss has legs longer than the Eiffel Tower, while Helen Han's legs stand at a slightly-below-average height. These lovely ladies will most likely use the bike-to-bike exchange.
- In this exchange, the first rider brakes into the pit, dismounting as if she were conducting the dismount-to-mount exchange. The new rider stands with her bike on her right side, tapping the first rider as she brakes. The new rider takes off and mounts.