The Mid South (Intent)

It wasn’t until last year that I got the confidence to enter my first gravel races; I did so to “train” for my ultra season. So, gravel season begins.

I live in the frigid north country, and we are almost out of winter. The snow is melting, everything is squishy, including my body.  I am the kind of winter “athlete” who goes skiing and says, “ooh, I know I was goin’ to go for an intense cardio workout, but look at that snowshoe path, I think I’ll walk my skis down the trail and fall over a million times”. In fact, the only place I get a “workout” on –is at my gym. I run, for fun. I bike, for fun. I ski, for fun. And, it varies, but 3-6 days a week, I gym, and that too, is often, for fun. I started lifting weights last year; nothing too serious. I’d never lifted before, and while I started deadlifing with a max of 95 lbs for like 3, I can now do 185 for 8-9, and maxed out with a 215lb deadlift for 1 just last week. I’m more interested in having proper form than lifting massive weights…just yet. I’ve found that I can’t turn my working out into a job. I can’t turn it into an obligation; even though I have big goals, love high placing in ultras, and spend a great deal of energy thinking about racing. It’s just something I love too much to turn into an obligation. So, I enter “gravel season” 15lbs overweight and, completely out of shape. But, these short races aren’t for winning. They teach me how to chase. I think I’ve forgotten how… I am feeling lost, lonely, and like a stranger to myself.

_____________________________________________________________________

It was a heavy heart winter. Too much alcohol. Too many cookies. How many cigarettes?Not enough discipline. A full(ish) time job, and a busy school calendar. There was the epic defeat by the shitty attitude at the Tuscobia Winter Ultra– a DNF at mile 142 in a 160-mile race. Why? A million excuses come to mind, but none of them matter. She quit.

Every time she quits, she learns something bigger than her. She’s quit a million things. When is it okay to give up and when is it that she should push through? She still doesn’t know; she wants to say “never”. That’s something to be sorted out on the trail. Her mind is foggy, and Oklahoma is calling.

Mid South isn’t going to be about winning or records, it’s going to be hours on her bike, learning how her body moves sans snow gear; it’s only a few months until June 12. She’s downloaded the MCAT Biochemistry Course, and plans on listening to that for a few hours; she’s desperate to learn cell metabolism. She needs a finish, and if that takes her 12 hours, so be it. She just needs to ride her bike, sort out her brain, and find herself again.

Bike:

CHUMBA Ursa Major SS

Wolftooth Oval Chainring 36Tx16T , 4.6 45Nrth Flowbeist/Dunderbeist, 26″HED Aluminum Rims laced to I9 hubs.

Thanks to George (I mean you, Josh!) at Broken Spoke, Vince and Mark at CHUMBA, and Josh at Continental. All very essential to getting my bike parts to me on time and building my bike in my living room.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. kim says:

    Thank you so much for being so you out there – and for breaking it down for us so beautifully.

    This ada Limón poem has your kinda inspiration:

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/149814/how-to-triumph-like-a-girl

    Like

  2. mujozen says:

    Go get ’em, Alexandrea!

    Like

  3. Mike Ingram says:

    And you done it !!! Nice work. Just wondering how much MCAT you listened to 🙂

    Like

  4. Audrey Crawford says:

    Nice to read others ride just for fun and not OCD with their training and enjoy down time. Fun read, thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Risto Vainio says:

    Oh you’re such an inspiration, truly a wonderful personality. Chumba on!

    Like

  6. David Marquez says:

    You are an amazing woman, an amazing human…..definitely an inspiration for all of us! You have made me reconsider my decision at age 65 to give up my singlespeed. I am 70 now, and maybe I can still ride a singlespeed..fixie is not on the horizon though!
    Just wondering, what brand/model of boots do you wear?

    Like

    1. ahouchin says:

      Pick a spinny gear and single speed it! I love it.

      I wear Thorogood Boots.

      Like

  7. Kellie says:

    I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I’ll write it anyway. I saw you out on this route several times, but was too shy to say hey and, quite honestly, in a terrible headspace at the time. My ride ended at 50 that day. I’m headed back in 2022 to hopefully get that one off my back. You inspired me to give the Tour Divide a shot this past summer and I loved every damn minute of it. I am continually inspired by you, your riding, and the realness that I don’t think you could hide if you tried. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to say hey on some other route in the future. Thank you for being you.

    Like

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