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December 16, 2014

Solo Syllamo Weekend

Filed under: Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 8:49 am

I made a mid-week decision to go for a solo trip to Syllamo over the weekend. Before I left town, I had some stuff to do…

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That’s an Ancestory.com DNA kit. The whole site makes me cringe a little with its subscription-ness, but the “spit in a cup and we’ll tell you about your ancestors” part is wholly fascinating to me. So, I’m anxiously waiting on that to process.

Thursday, I explored some horse trails. Along the way, I saw (literally) a ton of deer as well as a turkey and an owl. I also found large quantities of mud in a couple of spots.

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Given the large quantity of mud I had to clean off/out of my bike on top of an already busy Friday, I didn’t get out of town until around 4pm. Apparently, there’s a never-ending Friday night congestion of U.S. Highway 64 between all the small towns across Arkansas. Who knew? There’s a more northern route that’s a few minutes shorter, but I’ve always felt a bit of an adventure connection to 64 since it’s been a part of many of my travels to races and whatnot in both directions across the country.

Anyway, Turbo and I made it in enough time to make dinner and start a new puzzle.

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(OK, so the second photo is from the morning, as evidenced by my coffee, but that’s all I’d finished the night before)

This winter, I’m embracing the “just get out and ride” method of free-forming my base miles. I’m also embracing some interesting ride food, like rum-soaked fruitcake:

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I came up with a route that I dubbed the “Baby Epic,” because in the future, I’ll add more singletrack to the eastern side of it. If you take a look at the map: http://www.strava.com/activities/229517383, you’ll see that, following Branscum Rd. (which is actually a pretty rough/steep horse trail), I used a combination of Green Mountain Road, the last 4 miles of the Red Trail, and the last short/tech section of the Orange trail to return to where I started. Next time, the plan is to add the Blue trail from the 2nd trailhead to the Orange, and, as a final “Big Epic,” add the long/hard section of the Yellow on top of that. That’s bound to be an all-day ride for sure.

Along the way, I did some futzing with my suspension as well as making a stop to take photos from the little side trail to a waterfall at the bottom of Branscum “Road.”

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That last one is from underneath the waterfall overhang. You can see the water coming down from the upper right side of the photo. It is gorgeous out there, and the trails are generally in great shape. After my journey, I arrived back to the parking lot and saw another Shelby County vehicle parked next to mine. The occupants (including Fullface Kenny) had left some dust art for me.

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I unscrewed their gas cap.

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Ginger Ale and recovery candy.

Back at the cabin, I snacked, cleaned up, and worked on my puzzle some more. After a trip to WalMart for provisions, I came back and made a kickass dinner and watched the ever-present A&E Criminal Minds procedural crime drama marathon.

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Sunday was a day for survival and not photos. I rode from the 2nd Green Mountain Road trailhead without much of a plan other than “explore side roads.” Turns out, most side roads just lead you to logged-off meadows. My legs were thrashed from the day before, so it was a 2.5 hour exercise in keeping the pedals moving and trying to enjoy the scenery and little bit of excitement that comes with exploration… all the while, trying to ignore the fact that my legs were still back at the cabin drinking coffee and working on a puzzle.

Driving home from the cabin depresses me. Aside from the lack of multiple cute animals, it’s like my safe, cozy fortress of solitude where I can go and ride some of the most difficult terrain available then relax in the peace and quiet of the Ozarks. It’s one of those things where the whole way back, I’m already planning the next trip in my head.

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December 10, 2014

Shimano M200 Initial Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Andrea @ 7:27 am

Before I get to the shoes- in case you live under the proverbial rock, you need to know that Matt, Kenny (former co-worker and still one of the best mechanics in Memphis), and myself record a podcast every Monday night for Mountain Bike Radio. It’s been going on for just over two years now, and, I’m happy to report, that the Just Riding Along show is has grown to be of the more popular ones on MBR. If you’re a podcast-listening person, I’d highly recommend downloading it (there are several different ways listed on the page if you click the JRA link above), or you can listen straight from the website itself.

Disclaimer- we just recently switched from a live Blogtalkradio recording to a pre-recorded then uploaded show, so the sound quality on the older episodes isn’t the best. They’re worth listening to, though, because you’ll learn about important things like the McNugget currency exchange as well as our special relationship with the armadillo. Once you’ve listened to them all, check out the t-shirt you can pre-order right now on the Mountain Bike Radio Store page. There’s also a post on the Mountain Bike Radio Facebook page to determine if interest warrants the printing of Just Riding Along mugs. The logo is pretty sweet, though I’m a little biased since I came up with the basic idea while trying to entertain my mind on the long and hilly drive to the USARA Nationals a while back. Some time and a million revisions later, the good folks at S2N Design here in Memphis put my idea into action:

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Anyway… enough about that. In Monday’s post, I mentioned that I’d post later this week about the Shimano M200 shoe. I’ve had 3 rides on them now, and I am already a big fan. I’ve been riding in the Mavic Fury, and it is a really nice shoe (aside from the fact that it’s a shoe retailing for over $300 and it comes with the most pitiful excuse for an insole I’ve ever experienced. I have a nice set of Fizik insoles, though, so it works out). The M200 retails at $180 (full disclosure- I bought these, so I have no obligation to say anything nice about them)

I was attracted to the M200 because I do, on someone regular occasions, need to get off my bike and walk to navigate something extremely steep and/or very rocky. The Mavic shoes weren’t totally terrible for that- unlike a LOT of XC shoes out there, the soles have a really grippy rubber lugged sole. I commend Mavic for that because it means they aren’t super light. However, the lugs aren’t just there for show like they are on something like a SIDI (the smallest/most useless/plastic-y lugs I’ve ever seen). In my search for something both stiff and walkable, I’d also tried the Pearl Izumi X-Project, which made my feet really angry because the fit was just… weird. I wasn’t alone in that, either. Both Ryan and Matt had similar experiences.

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So, when I saw the M200, I was mad stoked (bro), because I know that Shimano shoes generally fit my foot well. I was also intrigued by the extra cleat adjustment area. I generally wear my cleats as far back as a shoe will allow, and, while I ended up starting out by setting them up very close to what I’m used to, the extra space is there if I want to try working the cleat back further. They come with a set of red plastic spacers that install into the cleat area to take up space you aren’t using for cleat adjustment.

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The closure system is pretty cool, too. I like my shoes to be as loose as possible across the top of the foot (don’t ask… my feet are temperamental to pressure), and having loose-ish velcro straps on top of my feet becomes a tripping hazard. I wear the pull-cord on the M200s just how it is in the photos, and everything is cozy and covered. The extra side coverage is nice in that sense, because it not only gives ankle protection (obviously), but it somewhat distributes the pressure from tightening the top strap up enough to compensate for how loose I wear the bottom.

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On top of the cool, unique stuff I’ve pictured here, as far as I can tell, they pedal like a cross country shoe, and indeed, they are easier to walk in than a cross country shoe due to both some built in flex (which Shimano calls the “Torbal” sole) as well as the additional rubber. The extras make them approximately 30g heavier per shoe than the Fury (I’m not a weight weenie when it comes to contact points, so I’m really just putting that in there for you weirdos who are). Icing on the shoe cake- The insoles are also not just a “here’s some foam to cover the cleat holes” afterthought like the Mavics.

The only downfall to these is how much Matt makes fun of how they look. He called them “storm trooper boots,” which is really a knock on how much he doesn’t know about Star Wars.

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I’m hoping to get to Arkansas this weekend and really put them to the test.

December 8, 2014

Easy Days in the Woods

Filed under: MMA,Training — Andrea @ 8:32 am

Late last week, I opened up a “make new blog post” window and then didn’t have anything to say. About the only fun thing and interesting that went on last week was that I started learning the gi in Jiu Jitsu. Prior to that, everything I’d learned was based on Jiu Jitsu that’s useful in MMA, when you’re not wearing a robe that serves as a million different handles for you or your opponent to grab onto, and when it’s generally acceptable to hammerfist your opponent in the face from mount. The new instructor, Eric Ingram, is excellent, and his wife, Anna, is also a somewhat experienced white belt, so of course, she and I got pretty buck on Thursday night…

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I borrowed a gi for the two classes last week, then ordered one of my own. It’s got phoenixes on it, and they’re purple, so I basically had to get it… Tatami Phoenix Gi

Friday, it rained nearly all day. I decided to warm myself up with a kickboxing class in the afternoon. I’ve been laying off of any sort of ballistic training (running, jumping, etc) since the onset of both patellar and posterior tibal tendinitis a few weeks ago during my last training run. It doesn’t really hurt as long as I’m not bouncing around on it. Kickboxing is a good test for knee and ankle pain because, while bouncing on my left leg is a necessity for throwing a rear leg round kick, there are a lot of other things I can do that don’t involve rear leg roundkicks. So, it’s great indoor exercise on days like Friday. I just want everything on my left side to hurry and get healed up so I can get back into some more strenuous work.

Saturday and Sunday were reserved for exploring the woods on cyclocross bikes. The trails were way wet, so Matt and I drove out to Shelby Forest on Saturday and the Collierville Wolf River Greenway on Sunday to get in some low-intensity saddle time and enjoy the scenery.

Shelby Forest paved-ish bike path:

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Wolf River Greenway:

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Afterward, we checked out a new “fancy Asian fusion” buffet near the house. I give it a solid “meh” review. It’s not much different than other buffets in that its full of nearly stale food and everything tastes like it’s fried in yesterday’s oil. The sushi is a little dried out, too. The place is huge, and I totally missed that it had a Mongolian BBQ section until after I’d already eaten a plate full of regular buffet food. I’d like to go back sometime in the future and try the fresh-cooked option.

Later, a friend from the gym came over to pick his new (to him) bike up from the house. Matt and I sold him a few parts and put it together for him as the rest of the pieces filtered in from the internet and surrounding bike shops.

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Back to my original thought… this week may actually be a two (or more!) post week since, on Saturday, I also purchased a pair of Shimano M200 shoes. They’re billed as “enduro” shoes, which I don’t really care about one way or the other. I do, however, like the idea of something that’s stiff enough for hammer time, yet also more comfortable than a traditional XC-oriented shoe for getting off the bike and walking on rocks and on other steep isht. I rode in them yesterday, and I plan on talking about them a bit on Just Riding Along tonight as well as posting a few pictures and initial thoughts on here once I’ve ridden them a little more.

December 2, 2014

The Long Weekend

Filed under: MMA,Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 8:26 am

Since my family acquired a cabin near the Syllamo Trails, I’ve been going over there for Thanksgiving. The past two years, it’s been a family event, with one or more relatives coming to visit. I decided to take Turbo this year since she’s been fighting off pneumonia for the past two months and the extra exercise of being able to trot around and pretend to chase deer (there’s not much real “chase” when you’re a large 13-year-old dog) is good to help clear her lungs. On Wednesday, I took her to a small local bakery/grooming shop called Woof Gang Bakery where they offer self-service baths/blowdry. She loves the attention…

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Speaking of dogs… look how cute these two are:

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Also on Wednesday, I made the best green bean casserole, ever. I love it when I find a recipe like this one that’s been bastardized by pre-made/canned food and take it back to the basics to remind everyone that even a casserole can taste like actual food and not just salty mush.

Thursday morning, Ryan and I left early so we’d make it to the cabin for lunch festivities. Everything was pretty delicious, though I refrained from gorging too much because we planned on squeezing in a post-lunch ride that afternoon. Not long ago, a professional work crew cleared the entire 13-ish mile Red Trail, and, even though it’s not my favorite one in the system, I hadn’t ridden it in more than a couple of years because it’s continually been in bad condition. Other than a couple of branches and lots of leaves, it’s now super open and nice. We also checked out the Yellow trail on the non-trailhead side of Green Mountain Rd. between the Red trail Trailhead and the Yellow/Blue Trailhead. Half of it was clear and open like the Red Trail, and the other half is thorny with several trees down.

Thursday night brought about my newest Thanksgiving tradition- an obnoxiously large and difficult puzzle. This one was particularly terrible because the photo used for the puzzle is mostly out of focus.

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Spoiler alert- we never finished it.

Friday, I wanted to ride a potential Enduro course. Details are mostly a secret, though I will say the transition climbing is going to kill the shuttle-runners off with a quickness. It’s very scenic, though.

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Sunday, we attempted to ride the “hard” part of the Yellow Trail from the middle Green Mountain Trailhead going clockwise (reverse race direction). It still has some overgrown spots- especially in the logged-off areas (of course) and a pretty steady amount of downed trees. However, the rock gardens are in prime condition. Ryan wasn’t enjoying the looseness of the leaves and marble-y gravel beneath them, so we ended up bailing off at a logging road just after the Overlook.

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We extended our ride on the nearby gravel roads and checked out the scenery at the bottom of Sandy Flat before heading back to the cabin to eat and pack up for home. Conclusion? The trails are about 85% awesome right now. The more traffic they get, the more the leaves will be unfluffed, and the better they’ll ride. If you’re on the fence about going to Syllamo because of past conditions, I’d say it’s worth the trip.

Sunday, I wanted to get in another good ride back in Memphis. The weather was super nice, with highs somewhere up in the 60′s for much of the day. Since it hadn’t rained in a while, Matt and I decided to try checking out the “Epic” trails- a sort-of system of 4×4 trails that winds through the narrow strip of woods between the Wolf River and Interstate 40 across most of the length of Memphis. Because of the neighborhoods it crosses, it’s not a place to go alone, and there are mudholes there that could swallow a jeep, however, when it’s in good shape, it’s a lot of fun to explore as long as you know what you’re getting in to.

Along the way-

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We found out very quickly that it was way too muddy. We probably should have taken a hint from this guy, who we found stuck in a hole near the beginning of the trail-

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My tires clogged with muck within a mile, and both wheels couldn’t turn. Our adventure thwarted, we turned around and hiked out. Lots of other people were out enjoying the mud and nice weather, so we had some entertainment along the way back.

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I recorded a little video:

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Our bikes were pretty trashed in a short period of time, so we rode back home and, following a little errand-running, drank just enough alcohol that playing “you be jab, I’ll be cross” with my boxing gloves and later “trade leg kicks” sounded like a good idea. Ryan didn’t participate, and, lo & behold, he was the only person in the house not walking with a slight limp on Monday morning.

Now, it’s back to the grind for the time being… mostly. There’s currently another Syllamo trip in the planning stages. I’m also about to have a bit of a change in my MMA training. Since my fight back in July, John and I have been training a little on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. However, since the building that Ingram’s Martial Arts was in is being taken over by another lessee, they’re moving their classes to UFK, and I’ll be starting in with them tonight. It’s slightly uncomfortable to be the “new kid,” but I’m pretty sure it’ll turn out just fine.

November 26, 2014

Arkansas-Induced Happy

Filed under: Trail Riding,Trails — Andrea @ 7:59 am

Sorry (a little) for making bummer posts lately. My trip to the cabin/Syllamo Trails was gorgeous. I only got to ride on Saturday because of some crummy weather that came in Saturday night, but it was totally worth the trip (as always). We rode the Orange and Blue trails, and they’re in excellent shape right now.

Riding for any length of time on those trails will confirm that nearly every inch of them wishes for you to fail or break down. Matt flatted on a forest road, at which point, I decided that the Syllamo Trails are like the Australia of trail systems- there seems to be a disproportionate number of things there, both large and small, that will injure your equipment or your person. That probably only makes sense when you realize that Australia is home to lots of things that want to kill you.

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Flats and falls aside, it is, and will always be, one of my most favorite places in the world. It’s quiet, remote, and beautiful.

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I’m excited to go back this weekend, ride, and do some trail work on the less excellent areas. From what I’ve heard, the Red trail (which was definitely the worst as far as overgrowth and deadfall), is now clear, thanks to a crew brought in by the Walton Family Foundation (most people in Arkansas would agree that the trail systems in the state wouldn’t be what they are today if it weren’t for the generous donations from the Walton Family).

If you’re a follower of Mountain Bike Radio and listener of Just Riding Along, you’ve heard all that before. If you aren’t a listener, you should definitely start this weekend. You can go to the MBR website and listen directly, or click on whichever of the “download/listen here” buttons most suits your fancy. You’ll be entertained and/or informed during your hours of Thanksgiving travel. If you’re new to JRA, you should definitely go back in the archives and learn about the hazards of the trailside Armadillo. That way, you’ll be fully prepared to get a t-shirt once we have them printed:

 

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November 21, 2014

No Plans Other than the Weekend

Filed under: Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 8:12 am

Too often on blogs and other social media, individuals paint a shiny, perfect picture of their lives. I’m not in to that. Even if it loses a few readers, I like to keep it real. It’s also somewhat therapeutic to organize and describe my feelings in neat and coherent paragraphs. So, for my next therapy session…

That last post got me down a bit. I was really enjoying the break from my usual grind and looking forward to the upcoming marathon challenges. I’ve basically written off being well enough for the December 6th LOViT Marathon. My tendinitis is still there and wants to flair up if I do any sort of ballistic movement with my left leg. I can, however, ride a bike without any pain, so I’ve been getting back on the trail on two wheels… not really with a plan, but that feels alright for now.

I do plan on working with a good PT in the coming weeks. I think that my injuries are all stemming from the last round of hamstring injections I had back in late September. I have to figure out the root cause and deal with it in order to train as hard as I want to without continually injuring myself. As for what I’m training for? I don’t know yet. I’m going to bike race next year, but I haven’t felt compelled to put together a schedule other than “Crested Butte Enduro Stage Race.” I’m not sure if I want to keep it more regional, maybe go to Pisgah a little more often, or try and get out to Colorado more than once.

All of my hesitation to make a 2015 plan boils down to my ability/inability to train. Living in Memphis, training on the road is almost required. I used to enjoy it. Then, I got hit by a car, and it became a necessary evil that I fought through and tolerated. My ability to do so has become almost totally exhausted. I dealt with PTSD once before after aiding in cadaver recovery (with a recovery K9) at the World Trade Center following the 9/11  terrorist attacks. It took a long time for that to go away, but I realized the other day when I passed a burning car (which smells almost exactly like a burning World Trade Center) and didn’t have any sort of panic or flashback feelings, that I could call myself 99.99% healed from that experience.

Dealing with the hit-by-car thing has been way different. The best way I can describe it is it’d be like if you’d worked in the World Trade Center and barely managed to survive the terrorist attacks, and then immediately went back to work in another high rise office with airplanes constantly circling it, and on most days, at least one of the planes would buzz your window and/or play chicken with your building, and at least once a week, you’d have a friend or a friend of a friend whose office was exploded via another errant plane. That’s basically where I am now.

I’m not saying that I am giving up- far from it. I’m just saying it’s going to take some extra work and determination to do most of my riding away from vehicles. I’ve had a few people suggest group rides. Being tucked in a group does nothing to make me feel safer the same way being in a high rise office with hundreds of other people wouldn’t make the person in my example feel safer.

I decided to run off to the cabin for the weekend to get back in to some fun riding. The mountains are very much my sanctuary when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed by anything. I’m not all doom and gloom, it’s just going to take time to work through my fears and figure out what I can tolerate and where I can compromise. I have never been one to stress over uncertainty… I actually don’t mind it at all, because it leaves the future open to anything rather than corralling me on to the same worn path.

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November 18, 2014

Change of Plans

Filed under: MMA,non-bike,Training — Andrea @ 9:25 am

Well, when I started my marathon training last month, I said that my main goal would be to increase my volume at just the right rate to both be prepared and uninjured. Saturday, I went out to the Wolf River trails (pretty flat, pretty smooth) to do my weekly “long run” of 13.5 miles. When I started warming up, my left ankle and knee were kinda achy, but it mostly went away after a mile or two. I finished my run, cooled down, and drove home, only to find that after sitting in the car for 5-10 minutes, the same slight pains I’d felt warming up were now nearly crippling.

I took a couple of days off, and now I can walk and go up stairs with no pain. However, running and going down stairs are left-side torture. At first, I was thinking it’d be a job for ibuprofen, ice, and KT Tape. However, once I started looking in to KT taping for medial ankle pain, I found out that the pain- likely caused by tibialis posterior tendinitis, wasn’t something I should be training through for something as un-serious as an offseason marathon.

Of course, I immediately took to becoming an internet expert on it.

The odd thing seems to be that, though one of my feet is slightly flatter than the other, the injury is not on the flat side (it’s usually associated with lots of overpronation & fallen arches). The good news is, mine is relatively minor at this point. I can still stand on my toes and balance on that foot. However, if I want it to go away, I need to not piss it off any more and do some rehab exercises… all of which I’m still too sore to do at this point, according to the instructions.

So, my marathon status is very unsure at this point. I’m basically going to be forced back on to the bike for any endurance exercise. That won’t be unbearable, except for the fact that it’s really freaking cold outside. Also, I’ve developed a nearly crippling fear of drivers. I have this terrible mental picture of how much people want to kill me when they see me riding a bike on the road. It’s terrifying. Cars are huge and terrifying, and the people who control them are totally tuned out and self absorbed. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it. For now, I’ll likely be taking the unfinished greenline to the nearby trail system in order to avoid nearly all roads.

In the meantime, I’m definitely getting the fight bug again. I ended up not going to the proposed grappling tournament over the weekend because of schedule conflicts with training buddies John and Aaron. Oh yeah, and it’s probably worth noting that a couple of weeks ago, the nice girl who gave me free rhinoplasy back in July won against her next opponent via first round TKO. She no longer has the losing record as she did when we’d first picked her as a potential opponent. I have to say… good work on her part. If you read the comments section on most of her old fight videos, there are some really mean people saying mean things about how she should just give it up. Ryan was at his Marx-Bensdorf team party Saturday and was asked by a couple of his teammates as to whether or not I’d fight again. Of course I will… why not?

In other non-cycling, non-MMA news, I’m super excited that a yoga studio (Pike Yoga) opened not too far from me- less than a 15 minute drive. Their schedule is nice, and includes plenty of classes that are somewhat “easy,” which is nice when all of your other physical activity is “hard.”  They’re offering free yoga until Thanksgiving, too, so, for now, I’m going to take full advantage of it. I need both the physical benefits and the inner peace at this point.

November 14, 2014

CX Omnium, Etc.

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 8:43 am

I was all wrapped up in Enduro-ing, and I forgot to mention the Brickhouse Racing Women’s Cyclocross Omnium that occurred while I was at Iron Mountain. Since its inception several weeks ago, some generous local sponsors stepped forward to throw in on the “hey, ladies, COME RACE!” prize money. I am extremely appreciative of their efforts and support.

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Urban Fitness Kickboxing

One Stop Plumbing, Heat, and Air

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It means the world to me to see people give their support to women’s cycling in Memphis.

Despite mine and many others’ best efforts to publicize and promote the competitions, no ladies from outside of Memphis came to race. Two local ladies- Laureen Coffelt and Lucia Colbert (respectively, in photos below) battled it out for the cash.

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In the end, it was Laureen who took home the dough (and yes, those are World Champ stripes on Lucia’s jersey. She’s an age group XTerra killer).

In extra-enduro news, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been charged with learning how to ride on flat pedals.

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Yesterday, I installed them on my Jet, donned some shinguards under my jeans, and took off for the park near my house. I began by practicing a few wheelies (er, short, sort-of wheelies), stoppies, rear wheel drifts, and baby manuals. I then moved on to applying the baby manual to a small set of stairs…

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…something I would not have attempted on flat pedals in the past. After a couple of shaky, slightly foot-slipping attempts, I was able to carry some nice speed and roll off in good form, landing both tires gently at the same time while keeping both feet firmly on the pedals. Small victories.

I’m still 100% unable to actually jump (versus manual-ing off). It’s frustrating to feel like I should have learned this 20 years ago instead of trying to learn now. Old dog, New tricks… the motor learning process isn’t as quick and pliable now as it is as a kid. I don’t mind posting my struggles here for all to see.

Matt (bless his heart) wrote it all out in math and geometry on the whiteboard in an attempt to explain the lift/push motion to me:

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Unfortunately, math and geometry, no matter how detailed and well thought-out they are, don’t translate to motor nerve signals being relayed to the proper muscles to create the movement. I want to show everyone out there that I’m not a 100% Wonderwoman who masters everything at the drop of a hat. This is going to be tough, but I know that if I get it, my technical riding skill will be elevated to another level. I’m never going to be too old to stop looking to improve myself.

November 11, 2014

Dirtsmart MTB Clinic

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:25 pm

Back at the inaugural Arkansas Enduro race at Iron Mountain, I won not only the race, but also a raffled-off spot in the 2-day DirtsmartMTB clinic. I was way stoked (bro), because, though I’m pretty good at going downhill, I always had some glaring holes in my skillset… mostly loose corners (like many of the ones at Iron Mountain) and getting my bike off the ground without feeling like I’m totally out of control and about to die… along with plenty of other skills that lack some polish.

Friday, I left around noon so I’d get to Arkadelphia in time to eat a late lunch and ride the trails for a little while. On the recommendation from Kent, the curator of the Enduro series, I checked out Little Penguin Tacos… a taco stand right across from the hotel where I’d be staying. Not only was it freaking delicious (definitely stop there if you visit the trail), but I also caught Ken and Steven (one of the other clinic attendees) out there. Afterward, I drove up to the trail system and had a nice little ride (first one in a while with all this “offseason” running I’ve been getting in to). I ended up crossing the Lake DeGray dam just before the sun really started to set. Arkansas is pretty sweet scenery.

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Once we’d all introduced ourselves, Saturday’s teaching covered the very basics- position on the bike, vision, braking, and wheelies/manuals. After lots of drills, we went out to ride the trail system and apply what we’d learned. The combination of braking lessons and body position made a huge difference in my comfort level in the loose turns.

Sunday was a little more out of my comfort zone. We started with turns (including some switchbacks and drifting, which I managed to pick up on more quickly than I’d expected). Then, it was on to my yet-to-be conquered crux… lifting the rear wheel. I knew going in to the clinic that, since I’d always ridden clipless pedals, that I was highly reliant on them to manipulate my rear wheel. In turn, my ability to jump off of or over anything is somewhat lacking. So, I was charged with going home and learning how to do everything on flat pedals.

Our post-drill ride was fun. I sat on the back of our train so that I could slow down a little and somewhat exaggerate the turn drills we’d done earlier in the parking lot. We did a lot of stopping and looking/riding on some turns in the trail, and, between the turn drills and previous day’s braking lesson,  I gradually felt faster and more comfortable. Also something I’ll practice a lot once I’m back on my bike. Something that helped a bunch was having some instant feedback (this was in the parking lot, but he carried it out on the trails so we could do something then immediately circle back and watch)…

ipad

I feel like I got a lot of those two days- both in immediate success as well as potential success as I practice and learn more on my own. It also leaves me wanting to add something longer travel and smaller wheeled to my bike collection. I’m definitely excited about the 2015 Arkansas Enduro Series and will likely hunt down some more competitions in other parts of the country.

Did I mention that Arkansas is gorgeous?

sunset

 

 

November 6, 2014

Acute Torti-what?

Filed under: MMA,Training — Andrea @ 7:56 am

If you’re a long-lime reader, you might remember, almost 6 years ago when I “did something” to my neck when I was sitting in my office chair at University of Memphis. If you haven’t been reading for 6 years, here’s the post: http://www.brickhouseracing.com/?p=446

Side note- yes, I used to teach college students. I like fixing bikes better.

Since then, I’ve suffered from the same neck issue 2 or 3 times per year. It seems to be brought about by doing a neck bridge type extension while strongly contracting my trapezius muscle (like what you’d do if you put your hands on the back of your head, pushed against them with your head, and leaned back to stretch in your office chair). I basically get to a chiropractor as quickly as possible, which will help a good bit with my range of motion, but not alleviate the extreme soreness that hits the muscles as soon as they spasm into their vertebrae-twisting position.

Tuesday, I was in full-on kick ass training mode. I trained jujitsu in the morning, then went to Shelby Forest for Red Loop Repeats (there was a chance of rain in the nightly forecast, and I didn’t want to get burned on the MRTC track workout like last week), then turned around and went back to the gym for some weight training. I was doing pull-ups, when the stabbing mid-back and neck pain hit. It was intense and instantly crippling. I went home and took lots of ibuprofen and laid on a heating pad. In the morning, it wasn’t much better.

I went to the chiropractor Wednesday morning. I’ve recently started seeing a new guy (Dr. Neal) when my usual doctor (Dr. Rynes) was out for health issues for an extended time. This was the first time Dr. Neal had seen me for my periodic neck problem, and he’s also the first to actually tell me what it’s called- Acute Torticollis. He stretched it and adjusted it, and I immediately felt a tiny bit better (as usual). He also applied some e-stim and heat before I left, which was really nice.

So now, I’m dealing with the severe after-pain of my neck spasm-ing out and trying to tie itself into a knot. It should be good enough by the weekend to make it through the Enduro Clinic, but I’m having to take it easy until then, which means no jujitsu until next week. I could really use a few doses of muscle relaxers, but I don’t have a prescription, so I’m making do with ibuprofen, heat, and copious amounts of Biofreeze.

I’m just going to sit at home and watch this video on repeat, since it gets funnier every time I see it.

 

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