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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Working on My Game

"Allow yourself to be a beginner, no one starts off excellent." -  Wendy Flynn

I got my start in athletic competition as a rower. One of the things I loved about rowing, is that it was so dependent on technique. It was something as an athlete you work on constantly.

Triathlon is the same way. Because we juggle three sports (swimming, bike, running) there is always some skill that needs improvement.

Because I am also a winter triathlete, I can add nordic skiing and fat tire biking to my list of skills to work on.

When I had a coach she thought I should work on my bike handling skills.  One of the ways of doing that is getting involved in mountain biking and cycle cross.  I've wanted to try one of these races since I added a racing mt bike to my stable of bikes.

So I jumped at the chance when Wisconsin Women's Cycling offered a mt bike and cycle cross clinic.

The mt bike clinic was conduct by local cycling coach Sydney Shimko. I took a racing clinic with Sydney last year.  Like that clinic we learned how to corner and turn our bikes on a tight course. Sydney is so encouraging and is such a great example of excellent bike skills.

I had a problem with my breaks and had to miss part of the clinic.  Cindy Petitt, founder of Wisconsin Women's Cycling, let me use her fat tire bike to finish up the clinic. I must have learned something because I did fine on the trail ride the group did to finish the clinic. It was really a nice and supportive bunch of women that took the class.

The cycle cross clinic taught by multiple national champion Katie Compton was a little more intense.
I did not really know what I was getting into when I signed up for the clinic.   I did not know who Katie was. I just know I needed a clinic to get the nerve to try a race.

When I got to the clinic one of the women was racing around on her bike on the grass. She had a flame tattoo on her leg and when she introduced herself said her goal was to be national champion.

I was the only one in the class that had not done a race and the only one on a mt bike. Many racers start on a mt bike until they decide if they want to continue racing.

Katie went through how to do turns on a grass course and down hill. It is all about weight and braking. Katie was great at giving feedback in a really positive way.  We also practiced mounts, dismounts barriers and starts.

The clinic had about 25 women.  Sometimes it got a little crowed on the course as we were practicing skills. Sometimes athletes forget they are in a clinic and not a race. One clinic member passed me on the right in a tight turn and never told me she was passing.   Passing on the right is absolutely forbidden in triathlon.   I must have looked annoyed because she said, oh that's right you are a triathlete.  Meaning I was not in on the information that in cycle cross passing must be allowed on the right. Not sure why she felt the need to pass me in a tight turn. I was keeping up with everyone even on my mt bike.  

The clinic was fun and I learned quite a bit. Because I am going to be doing the national championship 1/2 iron distance for triathlon in Miami, my cycle cross and mt bike racing may have to wait. I learned some really great skills that have already helped my biking.

I am confident enough now to take my mt bike out on the trails. I have done that a couple of times now to vary the training.   I don't think I will race this season because I don't want to risk getting hurt. I have a national championship to defend. I achieved my main goal of working on my bike skills. I am for sure a work in progress!


Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a three time participant of the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.

She has appeared three times at the Paratriathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division Champion.

In 2014 she was the PC Open Champion at the Duathlon National Championship and at the Aqua bike National Championship in 2016. She represented Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015 and at the World championship in Cozumel in 2016.  

 In 2014 she represented the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.  She has won state championships in cycling and triathlon as a senior Olympian. In 2017 she placed 2nd in her age group at the Winter Triathlon National Championship, earning a spot on Team USA for the World Champsionship.

She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 213 members in 38 states. We also have members in Australia, England, Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland, Scotland, France, Poland, Iran, Norway and Sweden. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

Follow CMT Author Chris Steinke

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