Shelby Madden

Exploring my limits with a bike and big (potentially dumb) ideas!

Lesson Learned from the Chemically Induced

Shortly after I moved-in to my new apartment, my neighbor informed me there had been a few robberies in the area and that I should be careful about leaving my front door open. I felt safe and chalked it up to paranoid, (although well intended) ramblings. I grew up in a house that was always open for the world to stop by and hang out. The doors were literally open all the time. Since then, I've always felt a little claustrophobic when I close up my house.

So, despite the warning, I went about my usual business leaving my doors and windows open whenever I was home. One thing I've been been meaning to do is get renter's insurance. I keep procrastinating but know that if my bike was ever stolen, I couldn't replace it and would be heartbroken. I don't think I've ever been so attached to a material possession before in my life but my bike has been such a gift all the way around, to lose it would be life altering and that's me trying not to be dramatic.

Anyway, last night at about 9:15, I left my door open while I ran out to grab my laundry. As I was coming back into my courtyard, I ran into a guy that was in a hurry to get out. I knew he didn't live here so I said hello to him, because that's polite, and he said hello to me. I thought we had quite a connection, a spark maybe? However, he seemed rushed, fidgety and a bit shy as he wouldn't look directly at me. That's when it hit me that something was definitely off with this guy, 'cuz I'm quick like that. So, it wasn't a spark I felt at all! Just your run of the mill tweeker being "tweeky."

He definitely appeared to be hiding something under his arm and as soon as I walked in my door, I knew something was not right. My cat was totally freaked and my heart was racing as I looked for my bike. In hindsight, my bike is small but I hardly think it would fit under the arm of a 5 foot nothing crackhead. When I found it, I was just super relieved and figured I was being paranoid. Two hours later, I got emails from my credit card company about fraudulent charges and my bank account was also depleted...all twenty dollars of it. Take that Cracker Jack!

So last night my lesson was learned, as every lesson worth learning seems to be for me, the hard way. Well, truthfully, it was more like a soft boiled lesson but I get it. Close my door when I step out and get renters insurance! I'm on it. Oh, and heed the warnings of others so I don't have to learn everything through experience...but that I can't commit to yet.

After dealing with the details of stolen goods all morning, I went out to do some hill repeats at Cabrillo Monument. My friend Brian is convinced he can make me faster and if nothing else, keep me from hurting myself on the QMDC ride next year. I'm game to let him try if for no other reason than I know I'll get some good laughs in the process. So, if I'm going to go up and down a hill, per his recommendation, this is pretty much the place to do it. The tide pools hill is a fun little decent and the view is amazing. Today was no exception:

The water was incredibly blue and sparkly. Does it translate at all in these pics? Say yes so I don't feel like I have to carry one of those "media access only" cameras on my bike.

Moving on to the swim side of outdoor play, I managed to talk a couple of friends into swimming at La Jolla Shores yesterday because I had heard a rumor the water was warm-always a relative term. Kathy and Tracy are game for almost anything and even if they're not, it's amazing what you can talk them into doing with very little effort. They make for great playmates! Here they are showing up for our first swim in over a month.

Tracy and I were scared as usual. I'm dying to tease Tracy about her shoes but she's fun and I want her to keep playing with me so I have to break her in slowly.

Kathy doesn't seem to get scared, ever.

I was sucking air after less than 500 meters, in a wetsuit no less. The little swim fitness I had is gone like a purse left on a stand next to an open front door. To resolve this issue, I distracted the other two by setting out on a creature hunting mission that would keep us from having to swim too hard. I really need to get an underwater camera so I can take pictures of the critters we see; it's great avoidance behavior!

Anyway, I think I may have sponsored someone's Thanksgiving and possibly filled a stocking or two for Christmas with my encounter last night but at least I still have my bike and I finally learned a lesson that needed to be learned. So with that I say, "Thank you, Tweeker Boy!"

For now, this little is heading off to Colorado for some turkey fun with friends. My biking and swimming will be taking a back seat to eating and drinking for the next few days. I hope you all have a memorable Thanksgiving with at least one person doing something unexpected and bringing you tears with laughter. Or maybe you're in search of something quieter and that's okay too. Regardless, if you are in fact attending a special Thanksgiving gathering of your own, I think it's important to remember these wise words from the award winning movie, "Boomerang:"

Dress appropriately and remember, "You got to coo'dinate!"
(I think I've started something I can't stop with these videos!)

Plan "B"

Last week, I talked my friend Anne into ditching a race she was going to do and joining me on a road trip to do the Solvang Prelude ride. My goal is to spend this year doing all kinds of riding and building up some endurance in these stems of mine. Anne is a perfect partner in crime for this (but we're recruiting!) as she loves a challenging ride as much as I do and doesn't seem to mind turning on her autopilot while I huff and puff behind her. When the logistics of travel and hotel accommodations started to get complicated, we decided to hold off on the Solvang ride until the spring. (Thinking it would also give us time to gather more victims for the Solvang Century) As it turns out, the "Plan B" ride we found was incredible and will definitely be on the agenda for next year.

We opted to do the Tour de Julian ride which was a well organized, challenging, 55 mile ride with a promise of apple pie at the finish.  We knew it was going to be a great day of riding when the sunrise revealed scenes of the course. This is Lake Cuyamaca in full fall form. Beautiful! 

There were wild turkeys everywhere and a family of deer cruising around behind us but I'm not proficient enough on the Blackberry camera features to capture the action, yet.  Regardless, it was just an awesome crisp, fall morning that made getting up at 4:30 am well worth it. 

A little further up the road the ride began at the Menghini Winery, just outside the town of Julian. Here's Anne and I at the start: 

I'm mad at myself for not noticing the guy in the background of Anne's picture. Look at him! He wanted his picture taken too and obviously responds well when he hears someone say, "Smile!"

For the second weekend in a row, we were excited about pushing ourselves on a ride that we knew was going to be tough but just had to tackle. Last weekend, it was the Great Western Loop backwards and up Lyons Valley (I've been dancing around that version of the ride for a year now so I finally sucked it up and went for it.) This weekend, we were a lotta bit nervous because the ride profile for the Tour de Julian looked something like this:
(You can click on the image for a larger view if you're an elevation nerd)
I hate even referring to rides as being "difficult" because I know many people who cover these type of miles on a regular basis but seriously, it was tough! We knew it was going to be difficult because we had done part of the course earlier this year with the Qualcomm group but this particular course included the notorious "Engineers Road." It turned out to be long and steep, as promised...and we loved it! Honestly, the entire course felt like more uphills than down and there was a special cross wind treat with gusts that made me want to ride in the middle of the road so I wouldn't fall off the mountain. Motorists love this type of logic from people riding Christmas ornaments. 

The Tour de Julian included a 28 mile option. I was warned by a couple other riders that I might be heading the wrong way when we made the turn for the climb up Sunrise Highway. One guy passed and said, "Are you sure you're going the right way?!" Sounding like the dork that I am, I said,  "Hells yeah!" and I told Anne that even if we weren't planning on doing the 55 mile ride, at that point, we were now! She's as stubborn as I am so she totally understood my logic.  In hindsight, I'm thinking that guy was probably the course "sweeper" in charge of making sure everyone made it back okay by the end of the ride and in seeing us, thought, "Oh crap, I'm going to be out here all day waiting for those two!" He probably called his wife right after and told her to go ahead and start the wine tasting without him. Make believe story destroying a man's good intentions aside, here are some pictures from our fabulous tour:

Anne checking the course map. I tend to surround myself with people that know what they're doing. It's a survival mechanism, I'm sure.  
I seriously need a smaller helmet for my melon, or maybe just a smaller melon. That's ridiculous. I wish the pictures showed the golds and oranges of the landscape. For some reason everything looks dry but it wasn't. If you live here, head up to Lake Cuyamaca and Julian soon for a real taste of fall in Southern California.
Climbing up Sunrise Hwy to the Mount Laguna Visitor's Center 
We have a lot of pictures of our backsides!
All this climbing makes me think of channeling my inner mountain goat and thinking of mountain goats reminds me of this song which is why it is ALWAYS stuck in my head when we're slogging away. Yesterday was no exception. No need to watch past the first two verses because that's all I pickin' know and it repeats over and over again in my head. Between this and the first two lines of the Beastie Boys "Let it Flow," I seriously get on my own nerves. I need a new soundtrack! But in the meantime, I hope to share my ear worms with you all! 

Here is one of the many views off Sunrise Hwy looking down at the Anza Borrego Desert. There's a century ride in the spring down there somewhere that I'd like to do next year. Any takers?
One last shot of my backside coming back down from Mount Laguna. The gusts were so strong up there, I'm honestly surprised no one crashed. 
Actually, one of us DID crash on this ride. Unfortunately, we don't have photo evidence because Anne is way nicer than I am and was more concerned with my well being than documenting my fall.  I did manage to lay out my bike just as we were pulling into the winery. I had to jump up quick as there was an SUV that looked like it was going to use me for a speed bump if I didn't clear out fast enough. Upon this dramatic arrival, we were greeted with a HUGE slice of apple pie as promised and it was ridiculous how good it tasted. 
I don't typically live my life making arrangements for "Plan B" as I prefer to just think of whatever happens as "Plan A," but in this case, it was definitely the better option when given the choice and I highly recommend this ride to anyone who enjoys a climb or two. I have no idea what to put on the agenda for next weekend but after every challenging ride, I'm left wanting more so feel free to suggest and thanks for stopping by!


Doesn't it look like that's what I'm saying?! Never in a million years would I think to make that picture public but it's irresistible. Wait, here's another one:

DRRRRR! My sister would have a field day with these pictures and my mom would be horrified I even posted them which is why she will hopefully never discover this blog. I won't hear the end of it. I once told her I was going to audition for Big Brother and I thought she was going to have a heart attack. Two years later, she was still making me promise I wouldn't do it. She fears what I will say, or worse, do, in that type of forum; I have no idea where this comes from.

Those pictures are from my first sprint distance triathlon. God bless Phaedra for capturing it on film as I've gotten a lot of mileage out of those shots. Clearly I was stoked and in full geek form. But to understand what it meant personally, I have to go back nine months before the picture was taken to the very first time I saw this guy:

Rudy Tolsen Garcia

He's cool. Well, truthfully, I don't actually know him personally but he inspired me and for that I offered to buy him a shot of tequila when he turned 21. Which I believe has happened so I'm sure I'll have to pony up one of these days.

In 2006, Rudy was competing in an Ironman 70.3 World Championship race in Florida. I had flown out to see Phaedra do this race and I had no idea how life changing it would be for me. At the time, I was physically "a lot messed up" and was in a cycle of inactivity because of it. A year or so prior to this event, I had been told I needed a hip replacement. bad. like yesterday. For those that don't know, I was born with a bone malformation called spondylometaphyseal dysplasia or SMD-K. (It affects 1 in a million births. I'd let you take me to Vegas if I didn't hate the place so much!) This genetic condition has caused me many issues over the years but never once did it stop me from participating in sporty stuff; it only benches me every now and then.

So anyway, to be honest, at that time I was liking the idea of a hip replacement. I thought, not only would I be able to snowboard and play again but I even thought I might cash in and upgrade to a narrower pair of hips while I was at it. I'm serious, I actually inquired about it. The doctor just sighed one of those sighs that said, "I can't believe you're a teacher," and pulled out a poster to "educate" me. The crummy part was, after going to several more surgeons, it was clear that I was definitely not getting narrower, "fast-play," hips. Instead, I was given some tough to swallow advice from a very well respected guy who plays with sharp toys.

I was informed I should not let anyone operate on me until I was unable to walk on my own because my bone structure was so unusual, the body balance I was fortunate enough to strike, was a fragile one. In his opinion, there was a strong enough possibility the surgery would leave me impaired in my ability to walk or possibly unable to walk at all; there simply aren't any surgeons experienced enough with my condition to have any expertise in operating on me. He wanted me to be in a position where the inability to walk after surgery was no worse than what I was already experiencing. I remember feeling like I had the wind knocked out of me. No new snowboarding legs for this little and to be honest, I was a little more than scared. So I was benched and I thought it was just going to be that way forever.

That was until I saw Rudy coming up the beach once upon a race in Florida and I swear the clouds parted in my mind. I realized I'm just not meant to be a spectator entirely and like Rudy, I was going to figure out a way to get this little body in the game; even if I had to settle for the triathlon version of T-ball the rest of my life, I was going to play. Initially, I turned to these girls:
...and this guy for help

I had, oh, an obstacle or two in front of me. I knew I had to be very careful about not doing too much because I didn't want to end up toting the crutches again and I was also a complete freaker outer when it came to swimming. I used to call my dad and Phaedra for a pep talk while I sat outside the Y every night, too scared to go in. THEN, I would call them elated that I had managed to swim 200 meters! ( 40 minutes, not kidding. That example was a breakthrough moment.) I had a looong way to go but in about 9 months time, at the end of that first race, I looked like this:

Just super stoked that I got to play again.
I'm still playing and not a day goes by where I don't feel the affects SMD has on my body but I also know, with a little bit of patience and hard work, I've managed to get this train back on the tracks for a little more "I think I can" time. Woohoo!

Since Haley and P nailed me down and committed me to that first race, I've done many more sprint distance triathlons and have been drawn to cycling as a result. It gives me an adreneline rush I haven't felt since my days of skydiving in college and I think it's helping me stay bipedal. With the help of CAF, the Triathlon Club of San Diego and Bill Holland, I have a whip made just for me and it's going to help me get down the coast next year.

Through all of this, I feel like I've had a small army of people encouraging me. I've met some incredible athletes, many of whom have had their own physical issues to overcome over the years or even more recently. This weekend, these world-class challenged athletes and many other professional and able bodied athletes will be competing in the San Diego Triathlon Challenge in La Jolla. I sincerely hope some of you can make it out to support this awesome cause by cheering these athletes on and maybe, ya never know, you may even find your own inspiration. No matter what, I can guarantee you'll leave smiling (hopefully not from gas pains-stay away from any fair food vendors...just sayin'...)

K, that's all. I feel like this little one here after all that:

Hear the resemblance?! Thanks for reading. OR skimming. Or jumping in...then out!

I Hope My Parents Don't Find This

Oh man, so here I go, I'm committing myself to a huge challenge but not without a lot of thought put into it and time ahead for preparation. In October of 2010, I'm going to participate in the Qualcomm Million Dollar Challenge to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

For the last couple of months, I've had the privilege of mooching off training rides for the 2009 QMDC participants. I've met some great people with quick wits and a love of riding that have inspired me to give this goal a go. (For the record, I think anyone who gets my humor must have a quick wit as the alternative would be far too humbling.)

This "challenge" involves a 7 day bike ride covering about 620 miles from San Francisco to San Diego. The course will involve some long days of back to back centuries and anywhere from 56-89 miles of riding on every other day. The furthest I've ever ridden is 85 miles and I felt every bit of it after 50! I'm secretly hoping for a strong tailwind. In addition to attempting to cover these miles, I will also be raising $10,000 to benefit CAF. Short of working El Cajon Blvd. after hours, I'll need some help with the creativity on how to make that happen. I'm hoping this won't be as challenging as the ride itself!

I know for many of my friends this ride would be a walk in the park but I have to admit, I'm scared. I don’t know if my body can handle this distance but I’m hoping a year of training will get me there. I’ve overcome a lot of physical issues over the years and know I will need to be smart about how I approach this so I don't completely destroy myself in the process; it's not my intention to make this the ride that ends all my riding. Misquoting the Beastie Boys, "Slow and low will be my tempo!"

So there, I've said it. I'm doing it. I can't resist the challenge; I tried to resist but my will is greater than common sense and I would truly rather try and fail than let this opportunity to do something challenging for a kick ass cause, pass me by. With that said, if I was with this year's group in San Francisco right now, getting ready to start the ride, I think I would puke. It makes my stomach flip.

If you have stumbled upon this and I don’t bore you to tears with what’s to come, I’ll keep you posted on the progress and probably make fun of myself and anyone who dares to claim me in the process. Since blogs are better with pictures, I ripped these pictures off from my friend Diane’s page. These were taken during this year’s Million Dollar Challenge training rides. I’m hoping some of these foolios will return for the ride next year:

This is Anne Fleming and I climbing up some long hill on our way out to Ramona. Anne works for CAF and is the one who invited me to join her on these training rides. She's an awesome riding buddy.

Tina on the left is responsible for the incredible SAG support we get on these rides and Vikki in the middle is the coordinator of this event. I have NO idea how she does it; she's amazing!

Diane, ride leader extraordinaire. Words cannot describe the beauty of the sarcasm that comes out of this woman's mouth.

This is our other ride leader, "Hooter," taking a spin on my sled. He makes my bike look like a Christmas tree ornament.

Anne, Vikki, David and I. David is my buddy but he was super crabby this day so I turned on the charm (or rather turned up the "annoying") a bit.

Birds on a wire. How we stay cool in the middle of WheretheHellAreWe. I'm in there.

Why I will never pay for a boob job and why I will never have a secret love child with Fire Marshal Bill. The genetics would be unforgiving.

I'm only putting this one in because I think I look fabulous. I don't tell lies.

Alright, more to come. Holy crud that was time consuming. This blogging concept may actually be harder than the ride and fundraising!