brickhouseracing

April 24, 2014

Tiger Lane Crit

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 7:06 am

The Tiger Lane training crit series is a Springtime staple of Memphis put on by local team 901 Racing. Historically, if you’re female and want to race, you slot in with the Cat 4 men. It’s not terrible- the course is pretty open, and the local guys (with the exception of a few that are easy to ID/avoid) aren’t sketchy to ride with. It does make it very much just a training effort, though, because being a solo woman in a men’s race that 99% of the time ends up in a sprint doesn’t give you a chance to be competitive unless you’re good at sprinting.

Side note- I’m not terrible at sprinting, but I’m not a sprinter… especially so now that I don’t really road race anymore. It’s a skill that definitely takes practice, and I have more important things to practice with my training time… Important info for the rest of my story.

This year, there was enough interest following the first two of four races that the promoter added a women’s race to the front end of the schedule of race days three and four. Sandwiched between a nutso hard training week and a 150 mile gravel grinder billed as being “harder than Dirty Kanza,” I wasn’t 100% sure that it was the best Wednesday activity, but it was kinda like…

I figured, at the least, it’d be a great mid-week wake-up call for my legs.

The turnout of 10 ladies- 5 from Marx-Bensdorf, 4 from Memphis Velo, and myself, was excellent for a local race-

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My strategy for crits (actually, for any road racing) is to never be in a sprint finish. Road racing is all about playing to your own strengths and your opponents’ weaknesses. In that respect, my plan was to sit in until the planets aligned for the correct timing to attack and separate myself from the group. You always hope that such a separation can occur as late into the race as possible, but, as I’ve often found, planetary alignment is something you have no control over.

I knew my toughest competition would come from Pam Tate (the tiny M-B lady on the Cervelo w/Reynolds wheels). She’s won plenty of races, and she’s likely got a better sprint than me. Additionally, she was backed by four other strong teammates. I hadn’t raced with anyone on the Memphis Velo side, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from them. I knew that being the lone solo in between two good teams would be tough. One other thing that I had going against me was the wind… or lack thereof. It seemed to come from all directions, but always at less than 10 mph. I had been hoping for a gusty, 20 mph hairdryer from the South.

When the race started, the M-B ladies quickly took over. I was happy to sit on the wheel of whoever was in front. It seemed like the strategy was to take turns attacking off the front, but I was able to hear all of them coming and slot over to whichever wheel came by. Within two laps, it seemed to frustrate someone on M-B, because as we were rounding the final couple of corners, someone yelled something at Pam about “just pulling her around.” In the confusion, Pam launched some sort of attack as we came through the start/finish area.

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Team confusion… strongest rider attacking… Planets align. Time to wind it up-

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I’m not going to lie- going off the front exactly 6 minutes and 30 seconds in to a 25 minute criterium when you’ve got two teams that could organize and pull you back doesn’t exactly have the highest potential for success. I knew that, but I had to capitalize on the opportunity, because if I didn’t, it may not happen again.

So, I went all-in.

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I was definitely checking over my shoulder. The gap to Pam was steady for a lap or two, then, suddenly, there was a similar gap back to this group…

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Once I saw that they were together behind me, I knew that my chance of staying off the front had just been reduced. I was feeling all 20 hours of the previous week’s riding in my legs. I formulated Plan “B” in my head, but kept hammering away in hopes that they wouldn’t organize well enough to close the gap.

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It wasn’t until around 3 laps to go that I started to feel like I had gained enough ground to stay away.

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ERMAHGERD, A FINISH LINE!

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I was feeling a little rough by then, but came around after a good cooldown, podium, a little beer, and easter candy. Major props to 901 Racing for putting on a great race for us and to the local ladies who all came out and pinned a number.

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Now I’m switching gears to probably as far away as you could possibly get on the bike racing spectrum… the Ogre 150. For reasons I don’t totally understand, I’m not at all nervous of the thought of 150 miles of gravel grinding in the Ozarks. My bike is loaded, my legs feel good, and I’m approaching it with the mindset of “I’m gonna go ride my bike allllll day long.”

 

 

 

 

April 21, 2014

Training Camp Wrap-UP

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 9:11 am

My Friday recovery day that was basically comprised of eating, picking up my new kit from Nimblewear, sitting on the couch, and getting acupuncture…

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I don’t like the “needles going in” part of acupuncture, but from there on out, it makes me feel amazing. I leave the clinic feeling like I could run a marathon while doing backflips on a pogo stick.

Saturday and Sunday, I wrapped up the last of my training camp with two road rides. Saturday was interval day, and, despite some slight protest from my legs, the intervals were pretty boss. Being one of the first rides of the year with temps warm enough to necessitate at least 1 bottle of water per hour, I finally did a test fit of the downtube cage on the Cysco road bike. It’s a tight squeeze, but it’s safe and sound down there (Matt even tried to lay in to the front brake and force it to rub tire on bottle, but he was unsuccessful in doing so).

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On my way home from my interval-ing spot, I met up with roommate Matt and Matt Robbins. I did not participate in the tow home.

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Sunday’s 4 hour ride was just long enough to finish me off at about hour 3. I was doing 3, 1-hour tempo +Z4 on hills intervals. The first two felt amazing.

Side Note- exceptional “I should be tired right now” workouts have been a theme of this training camp. I attribute this in part to immediate post-workout consumption of a Gu Recovery shake mixed with Pure Clean Beet Powder and later, plenty of rest and good whole food.

However, I could tell as I started the 3rd one (at about 2:35 into the ride) that my legs were starting to argue. I made it about halfway through that one before a combination of warmth, built-up fatigue, and “I haven’t ridden a road bike for this long in months” pain all snowballed into implosion. I was satisfied with what I’d already done and conceded to calling it a day on the interval and spinning easy the rest of the way home. The good news is that, in spite of my slowdown, the average wattage on that last hour was still as good as or even a little better than what I was doing on similar rides earlier this season.

Once I was home and cleaned up, I all but gorged myself on leftovers, Easter supper at my parents’ house, and Easter candy (like Penny- seen here getting to clean my dad’s ice cream bowl).

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This morning, I was up for an early recovery ride/video shoot at Shelby Farms. Drones still give me the heebie jeebies because they’re big, sharp, and sound like a swarm of angry stinging insects. Definitely can’t wait to see the finished product, though…

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I’m also very excited to experience the finished product of this training camp. Final total? 28 hours of riding in 9 days. I feel surprisingly good, though my quads protested quite a bit any time I had to pedal uphill this morning. I am super excited about the Ogre 150 this weekend, because I think after a few days of recovery, I’ll be prettymuch bulletproof.

 

 

April 18, 2014

Training Camp- Days 5 and 6

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 11:49 am

Day 5 was not one for lots of photos and sightseeing, as my instructions were “climb in Zone 4.” Wednesday morning, I packed the Steel Box and drove west to Lake Sylvia- a small state park on the eastern edge of the Ouachita National Forest. From there, I rode this route: 46 miles from Lake Sylvia and basically hammered up any climb that I found. I generally felt pretty great, and I found a couple of roads and climbs I’d never seen before.

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It left me incredibly excited for more exploring the next day, when I just needed at least 4 hours of endurance-pace saddle time.

Where I only stopped for a couple of minutes total on my ride the day before, Day 6 I vowed to at least try and capture a little more of the amazing scenery of the mountains of Arkansas. I picked my route based on the out and back portion of the Arkansas Traveler 100. The plan was to follow that until its turnaround point then continue off the course and back to the car once I’d reached it. I ran in to a few snags along the way.

First, within a couple of miles, I found that the recent rains had put the level of the Saline River crossing on 132B up to about “thigh” depth. As I’d run into on my previous adventure at Syllamo, it was, at the time, about 50 degrees, and I had almost 5 hours of riding ahead of me. So, I wasn’t looking for wet feet just yet (I figured I’d come back on the same road, though…)

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I turned back and detoured on the high road, which added a cool 500ft or so of climbing to the beginning of my adventure. From there, I rode a familiar road to the next ridge over where there’s a tower with some satellite dishes attached to it. If you ride past the tower, there’s a “closed to motor vehicles” road just on the other side. It’s a very nice bench-cut dirt road that follows the contours of the ridge over to a gnarly little jeep road labeled as Reform Rd. on the map.

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When I arrived at Reform Road, I was surprised to find a forest ranger on a small trackhoe chilling out near the gate. I stopped and talked to him for a minute… turns out, he was there because they were just about to start a controlled burn in the area, and he was around to contain any fire that tried to cross the road. After we chatted, I continued on my way south to Lake Winona. My plan was to take forest road 778 (also known to locals as the “Pig Trail” because of its ruggedness) along the south side of the lake. However, it was there that I ran into my next water-related detour…

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That path lined with posts/cables is where I needed to cross. It’s generally a trickle or thin sheet of water at worst, but this was about 6-8 inches deep and moving FAST. The river coming out of the bottom was rocky and boiling as well… a very bad place to lose footing and end up in the drink.

Not wanting to turn around and go back, I started looking for options. Over the top of the spillway, I noticed a pedestrian bridge and some picnic areas on the other side. They were behind a 6 foot tall chain link fence and a bunch of “restricted area” signs, but I wanted to check it out.

Lake Winona is really pretty

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To further try to kill my fun, the walkway to the pedestrian bridge had a “no bicycles” sign. I split the difference and dismounted to walk my bike across

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Once I was on the other side, I still had to deal with the chain-link fence at the top and a barbed wire fence at the bottom of the hill that extended from the picnic area to the road at the bottom. Let’s just say I made it without getting arrested or stabbing myself on barbed wire…

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I continued up the Pig Trail and on to Barton Mountain. Between the spillway and the top of Barton Mountain (Smith Pinnacle) is about 15 miles, and it generally goes uphill the whole way… except for when you descend a few hundred feet and then climb back up that plus an extra hundred. The road is everything from nice, hard pack “Cadillac” forest road to chunky bedrock forest “road.” As I was nearing the westernmost end of my loop, I popped out from behind a gate looking for the next road, only to find this guy…

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The road I was looking for is under that pile of logs on the right. The guy stopped what he was doing and asked as nicely as possible, “WTF are you doing on a bike out in the middle of the middle of nowhere?” and I told him I was trying to follow the road that went up the hill behind him. He was also polite in letting me know that it’d be a good idea to not try and do that because they were actively felling trees onto it at the time. It wasn’t too big of a deal- I was already behind schedule because of my water-based detours, so cutting that 5 miles or so of my loop off would only put me back on track.

The last climb of the day was a bear. I got nearly to the top and saw that there was a vista if I could grind out just a little more…

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Worth every drop of sweat…

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(you can see Lake Winona as well as the smoke from that aforementioned burn on the left of the last photo)

From there, it was mostly downhill. I found the “other” end of the road I’d turned back on at the beginning. It’s one of my favorites, because it parallels the Saline river. Which, like many other nice rivers & creeks in Arkansas, is a gorgeous shade of blue/turquoise in the deeper spots.

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At 67 degrees and 10 minutes to the car, it’s not a big deal to ford the river

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With all the photo stops and random detours, I wound up with close to 5 hours of riding. Once I was cleaned up and the car re-organized, it was back home to Memphis (with another detour to Chipotle on the way through Little Rock). Today is all about rest and recovery. I’ve got an acupuncture appointment after lunch, and I’ll probably go for a walk or easy spin this afternoon.

So far, I’m feeling good about my fitness and setup for the Ogre 150 (a week away) and Dirty Kanza. The handlebar bag I’m using from J-Paks is super convenient for holding an extra bottle and whatever trash and wrappers I have (I plan on using the top tube bag for the extra-long rides as well). Also, I’ve figured out that the skinny Maxis Ikon is a superb gravel tire. It’s fast rolling and just voluminous enough to be super stable on anything that’s not Cadillac Hard Pack. Now all I need is for my hardtail to get here from Cysco and I can really get to gettin’

 

 

 

April 16, 2014

Training Camp- Days 3 and 4

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 8:00 am

Monday morning, I got an early start over to the cabin at the Syllamo Trails. It had rained a bunch, so I had no intention of riding the trails, though I did need some very focused climbing efforts. So, I set up the hardtail with tires I’m likely going to use for the Ogre 150 and DK200 gravel grinders and headed west.

After unpacking and eating lunch, I bundled up (it was cloudy, damp, and barely 50 degrees out) and went over to do a route that would hit 5 decent-sized climbs just off the main gravel road- Green Mountain. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to take a selfie at the bottom of each one with the exception of the “opener” up Green Mountain Road at the beginning of the ride.

First was Sandy Flat. My hopeful plan was to take Sandy Flat road across from Green Mountain to Bear Rd. However, I knew there was a very strong chance that the road would be flooded at the bottom- normally not an issue if it’s warm outside, but definitely an issue when it’s under 50. Of course, when I arrived at the bottom, it was about knee deep. I bushwhacked up and down stream a bit, but couldn’t find a good place to get across without soaking myself. So, it was time to snap a couple of photos and hammer back to the top the way I’d come in…

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Next out & back was down to Gunner Pool Campground…

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At that point, I was feeling almost like I was going too fast  up the climbs. I kept the pace conservatively fast since I was only three climbs in to a 5 climb (and endless numbers of steep rollers) ride. At the top, I made the turn back on the Green Mountain and took it easy until I got to the Tie Ridge Rd split to go down to Barkshed Campground.

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I continued to feel awesome going uphill, and, once I was at the top, ate a snack and headed back down Green Mountain road to hit the final out & back (Blanchard Road) before continuing on to the car. I realized pretty quickly that I should add some extra climbing inside the Blanchard Springs park in order for my ride to hit its 4 hour prescribed time. However, the temperature was dropping, and I was getting really cold…

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I hammered my way back to the top of Blanchard. My quads finally started to protest, but, being the final climb of the day, I pushed through it all the way back to Green Mountain road. There, I donned my windbreaker and took off for the last push to the White River Bluff trailhead where I’d parked my car. It was only about 5 big rollers away from being all downhill…

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Back at the cabin, I drained the hot water heater trying to warm myself up in the shower. Once I was cozy and settled back in, it was time for a killer dinner for one (ok, I may have “accidentally” dropped some for Indy)…

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Indy and I rotted our brains with hours of TV in the recliner

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The moon was pretty amazing on Indy’s pre-bedtime walk-

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Tuesday morning, I was up early to pack the car and get moving so that I could get home and do some afternoon recovery stuff (blog update, chiropractor, and an easy spin) as well as do laundry and re-pack to head out again for another two-day dose of Arkansas mountains.

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April 15, 2014

Training Camp 2014- Day 1 and 2

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 11:10 am

On Saturday, I began what has, so far, been a very successful block of training.

The kickoff was a ride with Matt over the Mississippi River to the levee system in Arkansas. He’d been making plans to go on his own epic overnight adventure via the same route, only taking it all the way into Missouri. The ride out of town is always scenic…

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Once we were across the river, we made our way to the levee. What we soon found put a bit of a damper on our enthusiasm… gates. Lots of gates. You can’t go more than a mile without stopping and hoisting your bike over one or two gates like the one you see in the background of the first photo.

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Some rare gate-free views…. and cows.

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By about the 11th gate, the novelty had worn off, and our progress was painfully slow. So, we bailed off the levee onto a road that took us west until we were on the north side of Marion, AR. The wind was a feisty 20+ MPH  straight out of the south, and, after pushing into it for a while, Matt finally succumbed to “head on saddle” disorder:

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…which I found to be amusing

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After a few minutes, it was back out into the wind, where we made our way back to the levee and to the bridge, where we did some sightseeing before braving the wind and trucks to get back over (it hadn’t been bad on the way out, but on the way back it was both hands on the bars and hang on for dear life as the combination of speeding trucks and wind gusts buffeted the pedestrian crossing.

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With all of the photo, gate, bathroom, head-on-saddle, and navigational stops, we ended up with 70 something miles and about 6.75 hours of time (elapsed). The pace had been mostly easy, so I felt pretty good afterward, and looked forward to the plans for Sunday’s training intensity.

Sunday morning, I watched a little bit of Paris-Roubaix with breakfast while Matt headed out on the scooter to the LosLocos Duathlon to spectate/heckle. I left on my road bike soon after and met him on the outskirts of the course. From there, he motorpaced me for about an hour (my first time to do that for an extended period of time). I fell in love with motorpacing out there- it’s essentially the same feeling/intensity of a group ride, but without any of the obnoxious stuff that comes with a “swinging dick” group ride.

I didn’t take any photos, because once Matt got the hang of being the scooter pilot, I was basically sweating out of my eyeballs. It was an excellent training ride. Here’s a photo from afterward, though…

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April 11, 2014

Recovery Week

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:47 am

Life has been turned down to a dull roar since 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. I’ve been recovering- much better, I might add, than I have in the past from racing Ouachita Challenge, which is ALWAYS the same weekend. I was feeling prettymuch back to normal by around Wednesday. The most exciting thing for me? My “winner’s interview” was posted on the Trans-Sylvania Epic facebook page.

Matt, on the other hand, was feeling more than back to normal, and raced the local training series crit…

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He was 2nd in the race, but a winner in the “how to not look like a cat 4 on the podium” contest.

All of this resting has given me lots of time to get impatient about waiting for my mountain bike to get here…

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Its arrival should happen sometime next week… which lands it right in the middle of a gargantuan training camp week that coach Andy has requested of me. I’ve got a very loose, weather and bike shipping-based plan to go on a grand tour of Arkansas. Normally, I’d just let it sit and ride the bike I’ve been using successfully for the past two years. However, because of the relatively close proximity of the Ogre 150 and DK200 races- both of which I plan on doing on the new bike, I want to get home and get it built ASAP.

So, I’ll end up kicking off the Arkansas Epic in somewhat familiar territory- riding from home, over the Mississippi River, and finding gravel on Saturday, then driving over to Syllamo early in the week to train until I get an exact arrival time on the new machine. At that point, I’ll come home, take a rest day to build, then head back out for places like (in no particular order) Lake Sylvia, the Ouachita/Womble/LOViT area, Eagle Rock, and possibly up to North West Arkansas to explore trails and gravel that I’ve only heard about on the internet.

It should be a fun, quasi-spontaneous adventure, hopefully resulting in killer fitness and a good story or two.

 

April 8, 2014

6 Hours of Warrior Creek Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 10:48 am

I went in to this race without any real expectations of myself other than doing what I could to have a good first “long” race of the season (now that I think about it, it was my longest ride of 2014 as well). So, while my base is strong and top-end fitness is still building, I really wanted to focus on pacing, fueling, and paying attention to keeping my head up and bike handling fast/accurate as fatigue started to set in. I knew that this race tends to draw some regional horsepower (lots of familiar names on previous years’ results), but, being in the mindset of “just go and have a good race and let the results happen,” I didn’t even look for a list of registered riders. I did, however, see Carey Lowery (always one to chase) post (on facebook) an “enlightening” photo of her bike and herself on the scales the day before the race.

Eh, whatevs.

I’d never ridden the Warrior Creek course before, but I heard that it was a lot of fun. A Friday afternoon preride would reveal that I would not be disappointed. Berms. Berms everywhere. Most of them amazing.
(side note- When you put 598 berms into almost 14 miles of trail, not all of them are gonna be winners)

I was stoked to race. Saturday morning, the race started at 10:00am (love that… racing the NUE series for 2 years in a row left me with soooooo much hate for early morning starts). It made a “parade loop” of sorts around the park before diving in to the last piece of singletrack before the start of the official first piece of singletrack. I thought I’d noticed one or two women ahead of me at that point, but figured that if I successfully carried out my plan that they’d come back at some point in the next 6 hours (I’d later figure out that both were in the duo competition). I hadn’t noticed Carey ahead of me and figured that the speed of the start loop had put her (riding a singlespeed) into the singletrack a little further back in the group.

Somewhere as I settled in to the first lap, Matt caught up to me and said he was having a bad time riding singlespeed. He stuck with me for the remainder of the lap. When I stopped at the pit, I said something to a nearby support person about waiting for Carey to come by me, and she informed me that Carey was racing as a duo. Interesting…

I grabbed bottles, ate some Gu Chomps, and got back on my bike. At the start of the second lap, I had a frustrating/satisfying run-in with a guy on a Krampus. The story is a Just Riding Along exclusive, though. So, you’ll have to listen to the show on Mountain Bike Radio to hear it.

On the second lap, I mostly followed a guy who had a great pace and seemed to know the trail well. It was very helpful to follow his lines and he wasn’t going either too slow or too fast up any of the climbs. Carey also caught up to me somewhere along there. She confirmed that she was, indeed riding in the duo competition, and, when I asked what solo women were ahead of me, she replied, “Just you!”

Oh… Damn.

I felt pretty good and was already well on my way to executing my plan of 5 laps in the allotted amount of time. The thing about following your race plan to the letter is that other than saying you did it, there’s not a lot to write about. Fueling boiled down to downing 1.5 bottles of weakly-mixed Gu Roctane per lap (I’d scouted “drinking spots” during my preride and always watched for other opportunities), taking a large hit from my gel flask (filled with Roctane gel) at a non-wooded, straight piece of trail about halfway through each lap, and eating at least half a pack of Gu Chomps and sometimes another gel (Gu Salted Caramel) as I rolled through the timing/pit area.

I did have a little back and fourth with the two women’s teams that finished behind Carey and her teammate. Not that I was necessarily racing the duo ladies, but one of them caught up to me early on the last lap, and I didn’t recognize her as a duo woman, though I was 99% sure she said she was (she definitely looked like she was) when she asked to get around me. I caught back up to her in the last couple of miles, and asked her a couple of times, explaining (as well as you can when you’re riding behind someone) that I believed her, but that I was very wary of being burned by someone not being honest about their race category. She laughed it off and let me by at the final pavement as we exited the woods to the finish line.

Yee-ha!

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I definitely felt like it was the longest/hardest ride of the year. Luckily, I’d had the wherewithal to make the hotel reservation through Saturday night, allowing us to go back, shower, and lay around with our feet up rather than checking out before the race and getting on the road immediately after. If you do it right, the “run over by a truck” feeling is there whether you win or lose.

April 7, 2014

Air 9 Carbon Singlespeed for Sale

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 9:58 am

Yes, I DO have a race report to write, but my recent lack of quality sleep means I’ve come down with a case of the post-race grouchies. So, in lieu of doing a poor job of race-reporting, I’m going to make my “for sale” post for the singlespeed…

 

Frame: size small,  purchased about a year ago because I really liked the moondust color (I had/sold the white one that I’d been riding before that). Since then, I rode it a few times at Syllamo , then at the Breck Epic. So, it’s definitely the least ridden of all my bikes (it’s got a couple of paint chips, which are shown in the photos below).

Wheels: built them myself. They’re Hope hubs with NoTubes Crest rims and DT Swiss Aerolite spokes (a little lighter/stiffer/sexier than your typical round spoke). The rear rim is pretty new- I dented one at TSE last year during the Enduro stage, and Kenny swapped a new crest onto the spokes/hub. Since then, it’s only been ridden around Memphis. Tires are a Maxxis Ardent 2.25 and Ikon 2.2

Fork: Fox Talus 32  (used at 95mm setting)

Brakes: Avid XX (includes 3 sets of new pads!)

Crank: Truvativ Noir w/32t Salsa chainring

Other parts: Bar- Niner low top RDO cut to 704mm, Stem- Niner RDO 100mm, Post- Thompson setback, Grips- cheesy ones I won at a bike race. I’m assuming that if you’re buying a carbon singlespeed that you’ve already got a favorite that you’d put on there anyway (same with the saddle).

Price: $2,100, shipped anywhere in the lower 48. This price is prettymuch on-par with what you’d pay on Ebay for a similar bike (I even found a couple that were rigid that sold for the same)

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April 2, 2014

IMBA is Coming to Memphis!

Filed under: Trail Riding,Trails — Andrea @ 7:46 am

A few weeks ago, one of our local trails was (once again) struck by a bandit trailbuilder. He cut new trail parallel to two different slightly steppy/rooty spots that are steppy/rooty because they’re built up the fall line of the hill they span, which causes water to wash straight down the trail. Unfortunately, the bandit built his bypasses straight up the same hill, just a few feet over, effectively creating another problem trail. I posted a photo and rant on the local mountain bike forum and got responses ranging from “those bypasses are terrible and we’re closing them down,” to “I think they’re ok/don’t know what the big deal is/they might work because they have more curve to them than the original trail.” As I explained in the post, it takes more than a curve and hopes & dreams to build a trail that isn’t going to turn to total crap within a year. Also, if a good reroute is actually built, the original trail is so compacted that it will take hand tilling in order to encourage nature to reclaim the path.
This situation revealed a more obvious problem- a lot of the mountain bike people in Memphis don’t realize that there is a real process to planning and building a trail. Heck… even the “legitimate” bypass trails that were built after a flood left large stretches of deep sand on the trail could stand some work to remove stumps that were left into the ground, improve flow, etc. Brad Corey (of the Mid South Trails Association) who I’d consider to be Memphis’ original/biggest trail advocate, had recognized the need for education in the past and applied two years in a row to have the IMBA trail care crew visit, only to be denied both times.

So, following my personal philosophy of “no complaints without a solution,” I contacted Steve Schneider, the IMBA rep from Arkansas who I’d originally met through trying to find help to fix the Syllamo trails. He has agreed to come to Memphis and give a trailbuilding seminar on April 25th. Not only will it be an opportunity for the people who work on the trails in town, it will also be an important learning opportunity for the North Mississippi Trail Alliance that’s about to start cutting new trail just south of Memphis.

Unfortunately for me, that’s the same weekend as the Ogre 150- a gravel road race in Missouri. The race will serve as a very important “dress rehersal” for the Dirty Kanza 200 at the end of May. I’m bummed, and I feel really guilty for catalyzing such an event and not being around. However, it’s in good hands with the guys in town (Brad from MSTA and Chris from NMTA) that are helping with the organization of the weekend.

If you’re reading this and interested in attending (or at least getting the notes afterwards, as I am), here’s the Facebook event page: IMBA Trail Seminar

March 31, 2014

Bad News/Good News

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:14 am

This weekend was pretty laid back… I went out on a group ride with the 901 Racing guys again on Saturday, but, being kinda cold and rainy, everyone was having a good time riding just hard enough to not be cold. We rode through some of the more “scenic” areas of North Memphis, which I always find to be interesting. The air outside of Madea’s Soul Food Cafe smelled like my grandmother’s house. I think it was turnip greens.

On the way back, Matt and I decided to take another “scenic route,” and rode about a mile on the unfinished part of the Shelby Farms greenline- a former rail bed with no tracks and a little overgrowth. It’s pretty mundane on a mountain bike, but the road bikes added a small level of difficulty. We tried taking a different neighborhood route home from the greenline, but ended up somehow bailing on that plan and grinding it out down Macon Road. It’s a lower speed-limit road (35mph), but it’s mostly narrow, and there was a good bit of traffic. Even though we didn’t have and run-ins or close calls with ignorant drivers, for whatever reason, it induced a panic attack. I yelled at Matt to pull over in a neighborhood, and I spent several minutes gasping, shaking, and crying on my handlebars.

It’s been more than a year now, and I still get caught off guard. We made it home, though, and I engaged in retail therapy for the remainder of the afternoon.

Enough about that- in much more awesome, exciting, and inspirational news:

LAUREN FREAKING HALL…

Gent - Wevelgem 2014 women

…WINNING GHENT-WEVELGEM.

Here’s a quick summary from the bowels of Velonews… where if you click on the link for “Results: Ghent-Wevelgem,”  you only get a listing of the men’s race. It took a little digging, but here’s the rundown.

If you don’t know who Lauren is, we used to race against each other back around 2008-ish, when I was on Kenda, and she had just joined the local ProBike team with infamous local hammer Debbie Milne.

A random from back in the day… Lauren is in the blue shorts:

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I bet not many of you have a photo of results where you beat the winner of any of this year’s Euro classics ;)

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By the end of that season, she and Debbie were prettymuch unstoppable…

Podium

That photo is from the last race of that season- a crit in Birmingham where she and Debbie double-teamed the field until they escaped sometime in the last few laps. I’d done a ton of chasing, so I had nothing left for a pack sprint and decided my best bet was to attack into no-man’s land with 2 to go. I got away and landed the 3rd place spot behind the dynamic duo.

P.S. Floyd Landis was really drunk.

Lauren moved out to Colorado and started working her way up the pro cycling ladder, and now she’s a freaking rockstar with honest World Championship and Olympic potential. It was the highlight of my weekend to see that race result.

In other “amazing/inspiring” news, the Barkley 100 Ultramarathon is happening right now. It started at 6:45 on Saturday. Out of 35 starters (including local Memphis Badass, Billy Simpson), only one man remains on course (Jared Campbell), looking as if he’s going to finish. I don’t know if “brutal” is really a descriptive enough term for that “race.”

In other training news, I decided to call off my quest to further lose weight. I hit the mid 140′s last week, but that coincided with feeling like hell on the bike. I’m guessing there’s a reason why my body has really insisted on staying at 142 pounds, so I’m going to quit arguing with it and just maintain 141-142. With the muscle I’ve put on from lifting/MMAing, I’m definitely a leaner/meaner 142 than I was this time last year. I’ll take it.

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