Monday, November 29, 2010

from "Cup and Saucer" to Hayden Meadow

Two columns

rolled in the rain after meeting at the Cup and Saucer Cafe on NE Killingsworth.

Distance and tempo were reduced as new faces and early season made just gathering victory.

But still pro was the leadership of our women at the front.

Plowing around north St. Johns
with windward order at a decent clip
Mielle and Sandra commanded an excellent paceline formation all the way.

Jenn Leonard (see OBRA) unfortunately had a little tear in her calf,
so fortunately she rode in the car with me,
and was very helpful filming the riders and handing them up food.

She also paid Randy for her new long sleave skinsuit.

Watch for big things from her and her crew next year.

Into the wind!

In a paceline, one pulls off the front, into the wind.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Krugers Crossing 11/21/10


We must be crazy to do this thing called cyclocross. Right? Its 35 degrees, raining AND snowing and we think that sounds like a perfect day for a race. And yet, at the end of our race we are cold, shivering and grateful. Grateful we got through it and finished. Grateful for understanding partners and spouses that put up with mud EVERYWHERE. And, grateful for those friendly faces that lent a helping hand, a quick bike fix, or just agreed to hold your crap at the start line.

Frosty streets and sunshine at 8:00 AM left me half expecting a dry course on Sauvie Island. No such luck. Even without rain for two days, Kruger's farm had standing water everywhere and the mud was just plain greasy. At least it wasnt the sticky peanut butter mud from last year that took many a derailleurs life. Small but festive, a dedicated group turned out for what some consider their last race of their season. More than once I heard racers say they were just plain DONE with cleaning their bike this year. Amen to that.With Shane at home riding the sick couch, I was on my own for set up and take down of the borrowed Kona tent. Lucky for me I set up camp next to Tireless Velo, as my friend Mike Robinowitz is on that team. His friends and teammates were quick to help me with tent set up and continued to offer me beer all day including a 4 beer hand ups (that I politely declined).

My early morning pre ride of the 2 mile route gave me plenty to ponder before 2 PM. Slick rutted flats, a pumpkin barrier, hay bail run up (some tried to ride it and failed), and three barriers sections. A 4th barrier positioned in front of a huge mud puddle was taken out before my race. Long gravel and paved road sections allowed for more big gear pushing before you dropped back into the grit and grass. Many sought warmth at the bonfire as our sun faded before noon, leaving us with the rain/snow mix that didn't let up all day. At least the rain would keep us from dragging five pounds of mud around the course.

A poorly timed last minute trip to the porto potty was almost a missed start. Running to the line, I was trying to hold my bike and pull my rain pants off without much luck. Seeing my struggle, a nice guy came over and gave me a hand. Lucky for me Jenn Levo (Bridgetown Velo) was at the start waiting to take my stuff since she was not racing. Thanks Jenn! My mind is clear, it is very cold. I am in the front row with Sarah Eustice (Bike Attorney), Sarah Tisdale (Sorella Forte) and Beth Burns (Veloce). Whistle blows and we shoot down the long muddy road with the corn fields our right. My fingers are already frozen, I've got mud in my eyes but I can't get distracted and give up the fast past. Dropping onto the long gravel road, the pace increases and I've set my sights on Beth (chased her plenty at Blind Date). Right turn off the road into the mud is followed by a hard left up a set of 4 railroad tie stairs with a slight uphill at the top. A quick remount by the farm house and we are back down a small hill that turns us back to the road we just came from. I am in the front 5 as we hit another right onto the muddy tractor road into the fields and one girl goes down in front of me. Next is a hard left into a very muddy technical rose bush section that leads you down hill and out to a barrier. By this time I have passed the group and I am getting in behind Beth, our current leader. Mentally I'm patting myself on the back for catching her so quickly. Staying on her wheel to pace her, we roll through the barn by the finish for lap 2.. The course sends us around the thick mud path next to a green house and then back to the barriers by the team tents. We run the farm gauntlet. 2 barriers, huge puddles, pumpkin barrier(smells horrible over there), hay bail run up , back to pumpkin barrier again and through the huge mud puddles to the 2nd set of barriers at the team tents. I pass Beth when she trips and falls in between the barriers. Knowing that we are rounding the corner by the start shoot, I kick my gears up in an attempt to reach the road first. Fingers are numb and pushing my shifter is almost impossible. My determination pays off and I finish lap two in the lead with Beth 20 seconds behind me. Lap three I fail to get my foot unclipped at the single barrier on the back section and fall right on my butt. No damage done, but Beth passes me at the barrier. We make the greasy turn around the huge tree into the long grassy mud road leading back to the barn by the start. I pass her back and she pants good job, as I a take the lead in lap 3. Lapping the slower riders, I do my best to say Good Job but my lips are so cold it sounds like, Guuu Japhhh. I call and my quads respond in my attempt to build a bigger gap but the pumpkin barrier and hay bail run up slow me just enough for Beth to get close. Unaware we are being stalked, Megan Schubel (Sweatpea Ladies) passes me after the barriers and she is cookin. Beth kicks her pace up, passes me on the flats and chases. Fifth and final lap and I am chasing them. Nobody is even close to us on the rear to worry about (we were the only 3 that did 5 laps). I pushed as hard as I could on the final run in but Beth finished in 2nd with me seconds behind her for 3rd. We high fived and congratulated each other on a fine race season at the finish line.

The elation of having raced well evaporates when I realize I can't feel my fingers. Finding me at the finish, I get my rain jacket from Jenn but can't make the zipper on her backpack work to get the rest. Unable to remove my wet cold gloves, she pulled them off for me so I could find a place to warm my fingers. With my bike leaning against me, I Shoved my hands inside my jersey (it wasn't very warm in there), and stood frozen in this position, grimacing with pain shooting through my finger tips. I knew Jenn had someone waiting for her so I gathered my rain pants and sweatshirt, wrapping them around my hands and forced myself to slog back to the tent. The shaking gets worse when I try to get out of my wet muddy kit and into something dry. Hands waging like the pooches in the doggy cross race. I managed to get my top half dry and covered and put on my No Peak towel skirt over my bib shorts. Leaning against the car, removing my shoes and shorts was grueling with shaking frozen fingers. Seeing my frigid struggle, Mike and his wife come to my aid. With Mike turning my car on and cranking up the heat, I had a seat on the back of my rig, with the hatch open. They each took a leg and peeled off my filthy knee highs that felt like muddy ice packs. Hands and arms shaking wildly from the bone chilling cold, I now look like I am having a seizure. Retrieving towels from my back seat, they proceeded to clean my gritty legs and put clean wool socks on for me while Mike jokes that maybe I should eat more pizza and bacon. Ohhh!! Is that how you stay warm? I shivered on my own into sweatpants and mud boots, climbed into the warm front seat and burst into muddy eye burning tears. It took about an hour for the shaking to go away completely. A trip to the bonfire helped warm me up before I retrieved pinky from the pit and cleaned my bikes. Mike's last good deed (other than taking pictures for me with my camera) was to help me put the tent in the car.
I am truly grateful that we as racers have such a wonderful group of people to spend a cold day in hell with.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheering Section Tent

Cross Crusade:
Washington County Fair Complex
Race Report
and other love poems.
Csaba Kormendy

Two races in one weekend! My strategy of stretching/yoga with Vajk using me as
a jungle gym after the Apple Core race worked well and I felt really good on
Sunday morning. While the ground was good and soggy, I was glad that the sky
was dry and dare I say... sunny. It was looking like a great day for racing.

My spirits were dampened somewhat by my lottery result for starting order. I
was in the sixth group, putting something on the order of 89 riders in front of
me at the start. Disappointing, but not unexpected. I was glad that I had made
my "A" effort at the Apple Core race the day before.

It turns out that I get to line up directly on teammate Dave Wingard's wheel,
who was in the fifth group along with McPherson Beall who finished just behind
me at the Apple Core race. The start signal sounds and 30, 60, ??? seconds
later, I get to start moving forward. Before I get to the first turn, more of a
"bend" than a "turn" really, there is a pileup in front of me as a rider goes
down. I get caught behind it and hook axles/wheels with the rider in front of
me. We're not moving very fast, so this doesn't result in a major mishap, but I
as get rolling again, I see that my wheel wobbling. It's rolling though, so I
settle in for the business of racing. Dave and McPherson are nowhere in sight,
so I set a short term goal of catching them.

While there are straightaways today, there aren't as many and they are not as
fast at Apple Core. I look for drafting opportunities, but it's not working
like it was the previous day. There's just too much traffic and a lot of
variety in the speeds at which people are riding at. I weave my way through it.

The cheering section from our team tent is great. I try to hit the turbos and
pass people each time I go by to provide a bit of entertainment. The first time
through the off-camber section there's simply too much traffic to attempt riding
it. I run that whole section. On subsequent laps, I ride the skinny line at
the top each time. Great fun. It takes me two or three laps to catch Dave. In
the switchbacks I call out to him to catch me. He requests that I slow down.
Heh. No sign of McPherson.

I stay upright throughout the race and end up finishing in 94th place behind my
wife's coworker Chris Nolke. I've effectively maintained my starting position
during the race. I never ended up seeing McPherson during the race, who ended
up faring better than I, finishing in 57th place.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hard Core Apple Core!

Mixed feelings
by Csaba Kormendy

as I headed to the race.
I arrived expecting a relatively
small turnout vs. Cross Crusade (GOOD)
relatively flat, straight course(BAD).

I arrived with time to scout the course during the C/Clydesdale race. I watched
as the C field was dominated by a lone rider way off the front of the pack.
Some part of my brain took notice and filed that away as my own race later
ended up taking a similar form.

The venue was in line with what I was expecting, flat with some minor/gradual
elevation changes like Kruger Farm, but with apple orchards rather than corn
fields, and more grass than dirt/mud. Besides a single U-turn near the middle
of the course, just about everything else was straightaways and 90 degree turns.
I was expecting I was going to need my big chain ring.

After warming up, I went to hang out at the start line while the course was
opened for a pre-ride right before my race was to start. Comfortable with my
scouting mission, I felt it was more important to get a good front-row starting
position than to pre-ride the course. Shane Sipe joined me on the line and
eventually the rest of our competitors joined us. It was a nice small group
that I learned after the race numbered 22.

At the start, Shane got the hole shot while I fumbled with one of my pedals.
Not sure what happened with the pedal, but it worked out for the best. I
slotted into the pace line that formed up behind Shane in about 4th or 5th
place. I was able to get up to speed with the protection of the pace line and
not start out too hot, blowing up, etc.

About 1/4 of the way
around the course, the pace line has shuffled a bit, but is
still holding together. We're moving at a decent speed, but I'm starting to
feel like I'm sitting in. So, on one of the orchard straightaways, I shift off
the main line of the course to the deeper grass and attack, passing the riders
in front of me to take the lead. A few turns later, I am on the first hard pack
dirt road section and pushing hard. This was the first section that I was
expecting to use my big chain ring on, but I'm not spun out, so I don't bother.
A glance back reveals that my effort has been rewarded with a gap on the pack.

I'd been
in a similar situation once before at Kruger Farm race where I had the
lead for most of the first lap. After getting the lead, I'd gone all out to
establish a gap and then didn't know what to do with it once I had it. I
continued going as hard as I could and didn't recover, started fading and then
couldn't stay with the people that ended up catching me. On this occasion, I
resolved not to repeat the Kruger Farm blowup and started watching my heart rate
display on my handlebars to help manage my effort.

Somewhere in the next orchard section with the sketchy U-turn, a rider caught up
with me. After the race I learned it was a WebCyclery rider named Drew Holmes.
He'd caught me by himself and we still had a gap on the rest of the pack. He
accepted my offer to work together and increase our gap. So it went as we took
turns pulling on the next lap.

From here, the race for me was about riding smooth, watching my heart rate, and
focusing on my breathing. On that second lap, I followed Drew's line through
the sketchy left-hand turn before the barriers. While the line worked for Drew,
it did not for me and my front wheel went out from under me. I popped back up
quickly and but still had to work hard to catch Drew, even though he eased his
pace a bit to let me catch up. We fell into a good rhythm working our way
around the course and very soon it felt like it was just the two of us out

Crossing the finish line with two laps to go, we discovered a solo rider working
hard to catch us. After the race, I learned it was Orthopedic & FX Clinic
rider McPherson Beall. Drew and I picked up our pace and as we crossed the
finish line with one lap to go, I could see that we'd increased our lead
on McPherson. McPherson was not about to give up and caught us by surprise as
we hit the U-turn in the orchards. After a moment or two of panic/confusion,
Drew and I got our wits about us and we accelerated to drop McPherson before he
could recover from what I expect was a huge effort to catch us.

While on the previous lap I'd already been plotting where/how I'd make my move
on Drew, McPherson threw a wrench into that thought process. In hindsight, even
though Drew and I had dropped McPherson, my brain at the time was more worried
about getting me and Drew away from McPherson than it was on paying attention to
how much of the course was left before the finish line. As a result, I pulled
Drew to the last sharp turn, which was a tactical error. Drew carried more
speed through the turn than I did and then was able to accelerate away from me
down the final stretch toward the finish line. I was feeling ok, but I didn't
react quickly enough and have the legs to hammer and catch him after he started
pulling away. Still, my effort was good enough for a solid 2nd place finish...
my first podium in quite some time.

After the race, I learned from Drew that there were a couple of places where he
was barely hanging on to my wheel. He indicated that I could have dropped him
on a couple of occasions. To be honest, I was oblivious to that as I wasn't
really paying attention to him when he was behind me. Lesson learned for next

Thank you Mielle for cheering for me and for the photos! Thank you JB and NickM
for coaching me on my breathing!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Apple Core Cross 11/5/10


By M.M. Blomberg


This movie quote from ‘THE 300” is my sentiment for the day. While EZ Orchards (Salem) may have sounded like a nice little place for a nice little race, today was nothing but speed. Rain overnight left the mostly flat course slick in the muddy sections, but long grass and gravel flats (and false flats) made higher speeds possible. Morning racers were cautious in the slippery 90 degree turns through the orchards and many chose running the hill after the barriers because traction was at a minimum.

By the afternoon, and no rain all day, the course was tackier but way more chewed up. Many learned the hard way to watch their speed in the turn just before the barriers and one gnarly turn in the orchard between apple trees. Note to self. Don’t crash here.

With such a light attendance in the morning races, I asked race promoter how many Master A ladies signed up. “Not too many” he replied flatly. We only need two for a race right? If nobody showed up I could just race in the A’s.

Then A racer Tina Brubaker (Speedvagon , BAR winning Cat 1 and famous former member of Cyclisme Racing Programs when it was called "b.i.k.e. - Serratto) arrived.

Now we have a race!

But by 1:45 PM, my Master A competitors had signed in, and my suffering would be condensed into 45 minutes instead of and hour.

Maybe next time Tina. (You are a heroin of Lore always at Cyclisme!)

Sizing up the tiny field at line up, new faces meant new challenges. And you know I love a challenge. Racing as a Cat 4 on the road all summer, I expected this to be a fast race similar to a criterium. Off the line my game plan is to get way out ahead and out run them. We can dream can’t we? New face #1 Stephanie Uetrecht (WebCyclery, Cat 1 Mtn bike) decides to join me out of the shoot. She is strong and fast. Working together, we take turns in the lead. Ignoring my husband’s advice, I give riding the run up a try after the barriers and fail. That’s OK. Just get back on her wheel and we can keep our gap. Peeking over my shoulder, I see a familiar blue and white kit long off in the distance. In lap 2, I am pushing hard behind Stephanie, waiting for my chance to take over again. Chunky sections around the orchard slow us down but we make up for it on long flat grassy bumpy roads. In the previously mentioned, “don’t crash here” section, she takes the slick rutted left turn before the barriers way too fast and goes down hard. YES, MY CHANCE. Nope. Like a fishing bobber, she popped right back up AND was shoulder to shoulder with me at the barriers. By lap three, new face #2 Heather Hill (Life Cycle, Cat 2, also rolls in the A races today) passes me in the apple trees. Ok, I can pace her. That works for a while until another party guest arrives. Jan Moss (Sorella Forte, Cat 3) over takes all three of us with lightening speed and Heather chases thinking that is her rabbit to catch. Having chased Jan at PIR this summer, I know better. She is also Master 45+ and not in my race. Must not to blow up in lap 3. I am in 3rd position by lap 4 when another uninvited guest knocks. Sarah Tisdale (Sorella Forte, Cat 3) finds me before the barriers. Knowing she is great to pace on the road, I jump on her wheel. Just when I think I’ve topped out my heart rate, we push harder. Most of this race is spent in my big chain ring, sprinting out of the saddle on the flats. One lap to go and Stephanie is just ahead of us with Heather in the lead but we can’t seem to close the gap. Sarah and I hit the final turn onto the long gravel road and I out sprint her (25+ mph I swear) to the left turn before the barriers. Left, right, dismount, up over the hay, I am almost there! Uhhuuuff. I trip on the last bail and loose control of my bike for a moment. Sarah is right next to me now. Wrangling my bike, I decide to run, not ride to the finish. Chancy move. Sarah tries to remount and ride it home. The finish is only 20 feet from the hay bails but her chain locks up on the remount. I out sprint her on foot through the finish line with bike in hand for 3rd. Recovering past the finish line, Sarah high fives me and says, “I thought you were cooked, but I kept seeing you behind me.” Smiling I replied, “I was just drafting you.”

Hillsboro Cross!


Blessed with another rare day of November sunshine, some lamented about having left the sunscreen at home for fear of promised rain. While Sunday was a beautiful day to race in Hillsboro, our bikes were not thanking us for this experience. Sounds coming from our steeds would make any bike owner cringe. A rain soaked venue gave us huge puddles to wade through and an off camber section by the team tents with no good lines by the afternoon. Just for fun, our course masters added a set of stairs to nowhere with a muddy slope at the top, leading you back to the flat ground.
Similar to the Astoria race, Hillsboro is known for deep muddy corrals, barns and livestock poo. We did avoid the shoe eating corrals this year (and the poo) but a new section was added with an entire barn filled with a 1 ft. layer of sawdust. Kind of like riding through a children’s bouncy house but less fun. Sawdust sticks to everything muddy making little bark dust smores on your bike. Hope you packed a bucket of water and a brush.

Around 1:00 PM as I made my way back from cheering to warm up for my race on the trainer, the wind kicked up, sideways rain dumped and I swear I heard Aunt Em calling for Dorothy. An hour later the sun peaked out and our sticky course had softened once again, ready and waiting for the next stampede. Finally securing my first call up in the Master A’s, I start in the front row with Sue Grandjean (Showers Pass), Jill Hardiman (Existential) and Julie Swearingen (Mou ntain View). Missing in action was Amy Rice (Lazy Tarantulas). Out for four weeks with a wrist fracture from Astoria day 1, she still showed up to cheer us on. Thanks Amy!

Our start on bumpy ground led onto pavement with everyone jockeying for position. The first set of S turns in the next grass field area proved too much for some and Christy Love (Team S&M) was the first to crash out, dropping her chain. Between the barns we fly, hitting a hard right turn on pavement into another barn. Taking this corner too wide and fast, another rider slides out, hitting the metal fenc e and then hitting the ground with her head. Pushing on, we tackle the gauntlet. A long off camber hill with a top & bottom line if you could call them that after 1000 riders trampled it all day. I tried to ride it but found it too chunky and just fell over. Just as fast to run your bike through here and I am neck and neck with Sue. Through the team tent area, climb the stairs and rol l through to the pavement sprint again. I am in 3rd position, moving into 2nd ahead of Sue. Lots of gas in the tank but my shifting is going crazy. CHUNKA DA CHUNKA DA CLICKA DA CRUNCH! Chain locking and unlocking, I couldn’t hold any gear but my little one after lap 2. I still had my big ring for the long sprints, but it was too hard of a gear for the slow technical sections. This race is known for derailleur ripping and chain breaking, so was I just hopping to make it to the pit before disaster struck, leaving me on foot. Behind me, I hear people cheering for Jill. For once she had to chase me for 3 laps and now I don’t have any gears to run away with. Crap. Getting passed. Into the pit, drop my Kona, and off I go on Pinky (her fan’s were happy to see her in service again). Sliding a little in the turn out of the pit, I realize my tire pressure is too high but there’s nothing I can do about it now. With a leading position now lost in lap three, Christy finds me, having worked her way back from the crash. With one lap to go we are back and forth again. Passing the pit for the last time, I see my junior team mate Keegen holding my Kona, all cleaned and ready for an exchange I wasn’t prepared f or. Too chancy. It’s a judgment call and I decide to ride it home on Pinky. Christy is right next to me as we hit the barns again. Trying to pass but safety won over to avoid a pavement crash. When we roll into the final lumpy muddy mess of a U turn into the finish, the chunky peanut butter mud made finding a line difficult. Even with a final push, she beat my by a bike length, leaving me with an 8th place finish for the day.

In closing, Pinky would like to say thank you to her fans for their support since her retirement to the pit. It was a good race and she was just happy to be part of the team. See you all at Barton Park.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Team Ride and Atomic Training

How'd I Turn My Shirt Inside Out?
Jenn Leonard

Gaga made me do it.

Not really, but I felt Ms. Gaga when I looked down half way though spin class and saw the tag of my workout shirt. Oops!
Hey, if an inside out shirt is the worst of my appearance at 5am, Im doing pretty well!
5am is not a time I'm accustomed to being awake.
At 5am they leave the lights off for spin class.

While the Mud Demons have been kicking ass on the cyclocross circuit I've taken some time to reflect and get back to training. After all this biking thing was just a hobby in the spring, my second choice after IT band issues forced me off marathon training. Am I sure I want to throw myself into it? To suffer for glory, or defeat, as a bike racer?

The verdict: Yes.

So to spin class I go. Twice a week at 5:30am. Thankfully the gym is 2 blocks from my apartment. No Tom Petty show - I'm not "learning to fly" Im learning to hurt.
When my legs start to burn during a sprint interval I think of my last 2 races at PIR with the women's open category. I remember the pack accelerating, me unable to answer, biking long lonely laps by myself and getting lapped.
"Do you want to lose Leonard?" says the voice in my head.
(Apparently I am motivated by drill sergeant-esque put downs, always addressed to my last name.)
Sometimes the voice says
"Why aren't you hurting? If you aren't hurting, then why aren't you going faster?"
Then sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and remember what I looked like this spring, 15lbs ago. Whose legs are those anyway?
Of course other times I hear JB saying "back back back" and "up up up" as I watch my pedal stroke. When we do high resistance intervals to "Another Brick in The Wall" I imagine myself climbing through the fog on the Col du Tourmalet dueling (wo)mano a (wo)mano with Senor Contador & Herr Schleck.
Whatever it takes to keep those legs going.

This morning I was having a hard time feeling oxygenated,
breathing for my life didn't seem to help.
I was wondering if the instructor forgot to turn on the fan in the back of the room. Then the voice said "there's no fan when you're climbing to Timberline Lodge in August, and by the way, you cant just turn down the resistance when you get tired either."

So, suck it up Leonard!

I sometimes wonder if my fellow spinners think I'm a bit mad for grunting my way through class and leaving the room after looking as if I got caught in a downpour.

I felt the affects of my cadence work in spin class on our first team ride last Saturday. Let me tell you, that was an awesome time. I felt like a real bike racer pacelining with Sandra, Dey Shaun, Jake and Randy with JB driving by calling out things to work on, or blocking traffic, or handing out sandwiches and fruit.
It was a perfect cycling day - nice and cool and no rain. Ive climbed up to Thompson on Skyline probably a half-dozen times but never on the exact, sustained route we took up. Though my legs were getting tired I could feel that my leg speed had improved. Now my arms were getting tired from trying to hold my wrists straight and keeping my elbows bent. Guess I better get back to those pushups and work on that clean & jerk.

I've started JBs Atomic Training program at The Ranch in the last two weeks. Learning to ride rollers has been an experience.
So far I havent had the nerve to try it solo yet.
I'm finding interesting parallels in my Zen focus on the rollers and similar traits I'm cultivating in other areas of my life.
It seems pushing my body has inspired me to push my spirituality as well, but that's a story for another blog.
Meanwhile back at The Ranch

Jake has been teaching me the clean & jerk.
I'm pretty sure I look ridiculous doing it now, but I'm starting to get it.
I'm excited to be doing the bench press too, this weight training makes me feel like an animal!

We even worked in some swimming last week for some cross training.

Dey Shawn and Ben got in on the action this past weekend too. The guys have been cooking up some tasty food which is fantastic after a hard workout session.

Its a lot to take in, all of this bike training, and all these strange new words too; Embrocation?? I have a feeling Ill find out about that later this winter. I'm afraid of corners, fast descents and road rash.

And leaves!
really freaked out about the "turtle shit" on the road right now. I guess this all goes along with the saying "do something every day that scares you. " I am looking into the mouth of the lion, my eyes are open wide!