Thursday, September 30, 2010

Girl Scout New Day 5k and 1-mile Fun Run

Bright and early Sunday morning, the LUNA Chix went out to Mission Bay Park for the Girl Scout New Day 5k and 1-mile Fun Run. Our tent was set up for the Health Expo amongst about a dozen other tents. We had been asked to come out and talk about what we do and also raise awareness for the Breast Cancer Fund.

It was the perfect venue to talk about issues concerning women and girls, families and parents, and especially to raise awareness about the work of the Breast Cancer Fund. Most parents we spoke to were aware that Bisphenol-A, BPA, was not a good thing, and that BPA-free plastics were preferable to non-BPA-free plastics, but that was the extent of their knowledge. We were able to talk to a number of concerned parents about what BPA is, how it gets into our bodies, how it has been linked to cancer and early puberty, and what parents can do to minimize their child's exposure to it.

It's a lot of information for a person to digest, but if all you know is that the lining in almost every food can contains a synthetic estrogen that prolongs shelf-life, and that synthetic estrogen (BPA) leeches into the food you eat and builds up over time, you should have enough information to make you stop and reconsider eating food out of a can. What can you do? Eat fresh or frozen. Buy soups, tomato products, beverages, etc, in glass. Learn to plan your meals a day or two in advance, and cook your own beans (BTW, preparing beans is a lot simpler than I thought it was). For more information, see

But back to the Girl Scout Health Expo and 5k. You never know what you might see at an event like this. We LUNA Chix were in the booth talking to people passing by before the race when suddenly someone said, "Hey, is that a dog on a skateboard?" Wait. What? Indeed, it was Tillman, the bulldog on a skateboard. He even has his own Facebook page. And yes, I'm a fan.

Not to be outdone by the dog on a skateboard, in rides a dog on a Harley. It's Chopper the Biker Dog. And yes, he has his own website. As Chopper drives by, and the booth beside us advertising acting lessons gathers more attention than any other booth, I realize that I have nothing interesting to say at this point.

Announcements begin, and Jane and I get ready for the 1-mile fun run. Jane will be two at the end of October, and one of her favorite things to do besides talk to dogs or play with hand puppets is run. When she started running more than one lap at a time around the block, I decided to enter her in the Fun Run.

After pinning our numbers on, we headed to the start line, where we lined up with hundreds of other runners. Jane was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd, and had her moments of uncertainty when she needed me to hold her and just walk. But she did well running for brief stretches of the course, mostly running when I set a goal for her, like a puppy in the distance that she would run to catch up to.

As we make the loop, the early morning sun is coming up behind us.

After the one-miler was done, we headed over to get the bike and meet Barb. The LUNA Chix were to lead out the 5K runners. This was great fun, and something we had never done before. Since at least a third of the course was on a multi-use path, Barb and I were able to ride through and clear the way, telling people on the path that runners were coming. It was certainly a new sensation, riding down the middle of the street knowing that over a thousand people were running behind you.

I'm really looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 15, 2010 Fontana Race

I started racing four-cross (4X) again this year. It's kinda like snowboard cross (link goes to X-Games snowboardcross finals 2008), but not nearly as insane. Maybe.

After racing 4X at the Fontana Winter Series on a borrowed cross-country bike (somewhat like trying to shoot the rapids in a dinghy), I decided to get a dedicated 4X bike. I found a Yeti DJ for sale on a bike forum, which arrived at the house last Thursday, three days before the Golden State Series race at Fontana. Thanks to my mechanic Steve who dropped everything he was doing to cater to my racer-girl whims by checking out the bike and making a few modifications, the Yeti was ready to roll in 24 hours.

Saturday morning, Mom and Jane and I head north to Fontana.
Looking at the field of my competitors, I know this will be a good race. All these girls are strong riders.

From left to right, there's Robin who races BMX and is a good gate starter, next in the pink helmet is Mary who rides like a boy and scares me, then there's me in the white, then Nancy who rides and trains all the time and often comes out ahead at these races. Wow. So... I just don't want to embarrass myself. I plan my race strategy, which is essentially: Beat them all out of the gate, then beat them all to the first berm, then beat them all to the first straight-away, etc. You get the idea. There are ideal positions on the course that you shoot for, and the rider out front has the advantage of taking that line.

I take a few runs down the course. Although I haven't ridden this bike before today, I feel really good on it, comfortable on the course and comfortable in the gate. Since there are 4 of us, there will be two motos (heats), both worth points, with the 2nd moto breaking any ties.

Robin in lane 4 pops her tire as the gate slams down, a technique I have not mastered.

We line up in the gate, Robin and I are pretty even out of the gate, I'm the first one to the first turn by a nose, and then the first one down the straight-away, having the advantage of the line I want through the berm. Adrenaline is pumping and I am giving it all I have. I have no idea where the other girls are, but they are not in my peripheral vision. I charge ahead.

As we come through the last straight-away at the bottom of the hill, Mary is on my inside as we enter the turn. Then two things happen: I hit my brake, knowing my skill won't let me corner at that speed, just as Mary on my inside expects to occupy the space I should have just vacated had I not hit my brake. Mary clips my rear tire and the two of us go down in a heap of bikes and dust. Number three girl is right on us and gets caught in the tangle as number four rides right past to take first in that heat. None of us are hurt; we scramble back up as fast as we can, crossing the finish line. I take third in the first moto. Disappointing, but that's racing. It's never over till it's over.

We all push our bikes to the top of the hill for the final run, only this time things have changed for me. I had started the first run as a focused hard-charger with an edge. Now I am just a fraction unsure, scrutinizing my semi-slick fast-rolling tires for the first time and knowing I don't trust them leaning in fast corners. Thoughts of wiping out cross my mind. That's all it takes to sink a rider. Not that I hold back, but I am no longer fearless; I've lost my edge. Thinking about this after the race, I realize that rather than making the other girls fight to take away the line I've chosen, I mentally yielded. This, of course, cost me the race. Trailing the other girls by the time we enter the last straight-away, I come in fourth.

In my post-race evaluation, I am pleased with my efforts in the first moto, and re-learned some important lessons in the second. I'll swap out my tires, work on my sprints and cornering, learn to trust the bike and myself, and get those girls next time. Grrrrr.

Epilogue: We left Fontana as soon as the women's awards were called, so that I could get back in time to lead the church choir, the director being away. In a frantic attempt to pitch tone 4, I hit my thumb with the tuning fork in such a way that I was not sure if I'd cracked the bone. By the end of the service, it was starting to turn red, and within a day it was swollen and purple. Thankfully not broken, just badly bruised.

I am the only person I know who can put on body armor and a full-face helmet, crash in a race, emerge without a scratch, then get injured in church choir.

Special thanks to: Steve K my mechanic, Mom and Jane for cheering, Donnie Jackson and family for a great race series, and my husband Steve for the new bike, and photographers Mike Lord at and Andy at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snow Ride in Idylwild

Oh boy! My first snow ride! My mechanic and riding buddy Steve K and I went riding in Idyllwild, down the Ernie Maxwell Trail.

The snow was about 2-3 inches deep in most places, and although for us San Diegans it was a very brisk 34° F, the wind was hardly blowing which made the temperature seem mild.

Me crossing the stream.

There is something magical about looking down and seeing snow in your tires and hearing the crunch of ice as you ride along in the stillness of the late morning. Your nose is cold and the air is crisp, and right at that moment, there is no place you would rather be.

Steve on the trail.

Me coming down the stairs.

My faithful steed. I love this bike.

The colors of the manzanita tree were particularly beautiful offset by the snow.

I'm so glad we went to Idyllwild. Although we were only there a day, it was time well-spent. There's great riding year-round, friendly people, and beautiful scenery.