brickhouseracing

December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving at Syllamo 2013

Filed under: non-bike,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 8:42 am

I’m trying to take a break from everything right now, including any pressure I put on myself to keep a group of about 200 of you updated on my day-to-day life. So, after my previous post, I didn’t bother posting anything else, and the computer didn’t go with me to Arkansas for our family get-together and the hanging around in the woods that followed. I hope you can all appreciate that.

As I kick off my “unstructured training” phase, my plans include kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, so why not give it a go now? Sometime in the near future, I’m gonna take a horseback riding lesson, too. I even found my old hunt cap in my parent’s attic. Though, according to my BFF Megan, those are totally out of use now (mine doesn’t fit without extra hair, anyway).

IMG_2764

Despite my rampant full-body soreness, Wednesday morning, I packed up and left with my parents to go to the cabin in Mountain View. I didn’t take a bike- just my Silky saw and stuff to hike/clean trails (Matt would drive over Friday with the bikes and whatnot). My dad (I have a pic of my mom sleeping in the truck, too, but she’d disown me for posting it):

IMG_2817

Once we were settled in the cabin and I made the obligatory trip to WalMart for groceries, I put the turkey in to brine (my mom also got an early start on the gravy) and took my dad’s truck (a Chevy Avalanche) to the mountain to get started on the section of the Blue trail that climbs from Livingston Creek up Scrappy Mountain. Having a 4wd truck with heavy duty suspension allows you to park much closer to where you want to work than the Element. I saved myself about half an hour of walking (15 minutes each way) by venturing down a logging road to get to the trail:

IMG_2823

I worked on about a mile of trail for the next 2 hours. The recent logging in the area had left a lot of trees that eventually fell over the trail, along with the expected thorny overgrowth. At the time, they’d also re-routed the trail away from the part that was logged, but then didn’t fix it once they were done, so if you were heading up the mountain, it was easy to miss the original trail to the left and take the much less interesting/fun reroute (if you were going down, it wasn’t a problem, because you never ran into an obvious trail marker pointing you in the wrong direction). I cut lots of deadfall to that spot, then cleaned the turn/flipped the trail marker to get you going the correct way at the turn that’d been logged

IMG_2824

IMG_2825

…if you notice in that photo, the arrow on the trail marker now points left. It was pointing right, and the turn to the original trail to the left was brushy and hard to see. So I flipped the arrow, blocked the logging re-route, and made the original trail easy to follow.

That evening, my aunt (on the right), uncle, and grandmother (middle) arrived, and we went out to eat catfish.

IMG_2829

Thanksgiving morning, I went back to the same spot and gave a similar treatment to the next section of trail from the turn to the Stairway. At the stairway, I cleaned out a bunch of leaves that were settling/composting in every nook & cranny. It was difficult without a rake, but allows everyone to see just how cool the Stairway is when it’s not covered up in leaves.

IMG_2836

Once I was done with that section, it was time to go back and eat turkey, then come back and finish the section from Livingston Creek to the stairway. That part was mostly chopping greenbriers and bamboo. Sucky fact of the day- the section of blue trail between the two Livingston Creek crossings is marked for logging. They’ve already driven a heavy truck a few times through the crossing closest to the highway and rutted the creek bed out.

As soon as I got back to the cabin, I ate the desert I’d skipped earlier (blackberry crumble). Manual labor makes everything taste better. We wrapped up the evening dozing off to the Egg Bowl on TV.

IMG_2841

I got a good night’s sleep so I could do it again (then ride) the next day when Matt arrived. I’ll save that for the next post. ‘Til then, here’s the theme song of the week:

IMG_2822

 

November 6, 2013

Fall CX Tour- Day 2

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 8:29 am

I’d like to say that the time change on Saturday night was a relief since it allowed me to sleep an extra hour before the 5am alarm I’d set so that I could make the 2 hour drive to Cullman, AL to race at 9am. However, I instead had time change-related nightmares all night and kept waking up thinking that I was doing something wrong.

Despite that, I was up in enough time to stop for gas and a large coffee and still make it to the park before registration was officially open.

I registered for both the Women’s A Race and the Singlespeed Race. Once the bikes were ready and the numbers were pinned, I went out for a couple of preride laps. After riding around on both my A bike (Cannondale SuperX) and B bike (Scott Addict CX), I decided I’d go with the B bike for the race. The course had a metric crap-ton of 180 degree turns, and the B bike has alloy rims, and the braking power is more predictable than on the carbon rims. I also like the slow-speed handling of the B-bike a little better. Even though it’s about 2 pounds heavier (between frame and wheels), the combination of brakes and handling felt faster for that particular course.

The women’s race started just behind the two groups of Master’s Men. I’ve always hated that, because it means that I’ll be passing the tail of the master’s group within the first half of the course. Usually, they’re very courteous, and, realizing that they’re not in contention for a podium spot in their own race, will give a little space for the women’s race to come through. That wasn’t the case on Sunday, though. I caught the last place guy during a series of about 10 turns up/down/back/forth on a hill early in the course. The other women were only  a turn or two back from me, and, even though I told him repeatedly that I needed to get by because of our race, he wouldn’t budge. So, I took an opportunity to pass when he swung extra wide/slow going into a 180. I dove inside, and, as I passed him, he accelerated and ran into me shoulder to shoulder (more like ribs to shoulder… he was a big man). He ran into the course tape, also, and yelled, “next time you do that, I’m going to knock you over.” I said something back to him along the lines of, “I’m leading my race, and you’re in LAST PLACE.” Then, I dropped him and didn’t look back.

aintnobody

(After my race was over, I told the guys in change at the finish line about the incident, and let them know that if he put a finger on me, I was calling the police)

I went as fast as I could without totally draining my tank for the singlespeed race immediately after the first one. All the while, spectators were yelling at the men to not let me catch them. Sure, they make a nice carrot to motivate you to keep pace, but honestly, I’m not out there to catch guys who I’m not technically racing. I’m out there to win the women’s race, and I was happy to be successful in that.

IMG_2588

The singlespeed race lined up soon after the women’s race. It was the first time in a long time that I raced the newly-rebuilt CrossCheck. First lap impression? Id forgotten how much toe overlap that thing has. When we were given the signal to go, I could tell in the first few turns that I was going to get out-handled big time if I didn’t pull my head outta my backside and stay off the brakes a little more. Dealing with toe overlap is a combination of ratchet-pedaling, timing, and ignoring the noise your foot makes on your tire in less severe instances.

From the gun, two guys took off ahead of me. I let them go, and entered the techy 10-turn section with them a few seconds up, and a group of guys on my wheel. Somewhere on that lap, I think a couple passed me, but I ended up reeling them back in on the second lap. With two to go (we raced 4 laps), one of the guys who’d taken off initially looked like he imploded and was going backwards. I made the move to catch him, and was probably within about 15 seconds or so, but he composed himself and pulled away on the last lap.

Side note- unfortunately, during the SS race, I heard people using the “C” word*. STOP USING THAT WORD. IT’S DEMEANING AND DISRESPECTFUL TO WOMEN WHO WORK REALLY HARD TO BE REALLY FAST.

So, I stuck a solid 3rd place singlespeed. Looking back at the lap times, I went anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute faster per lap during that race. It boiled down to a combination of less braking, harder hammering, and being “in” the field of competitors rather than ahead of it.

The riding over the weekend has me re-visiting my thoughts on brakes. For wide-open, fast courses (like CrossVegas or the Outdoors, Inc. race this upcoming Sunday, a good set of cantilever brakes (like the Shorty Ultimates) on carbon rims feels totally fine. However, I definitely felt faster on the narrow/tech sections when using those same brakes on alloy rims. I’m not one to avoid changing my point of view on bike technology, and, I can now see the draw to using disc brakes with carbon rims as opposed to cantilevers. I am going to try a set of TRP CX 8.4 V-Brakes. They’ll be in today, and I’ve got an interval workout tomorrow, so I’ll report back soon.

The next few days should bring a little excitement- tomorrow after I interval and go to a Structural Integration session, I’m going to pack up and drive to Mountain View. Friday morning, I’ll be meeting up with some of the other Syllamo advocates as well as with an IMBA rep and a USFS rep. We’re going to talk about what can be done to A)keep the trail more clear of overgrowth and deadfall, and B)Stop the logging of the trail area (logging both damages the tread AND takes away the shade that prevents summer overgrowth). I’m sure I’ll get in a couple of nice rides on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning as well.

 

 

*chicked

October 28, 2013

Crossroads Clash CX #2 and Something Much Bigger

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 7:58 am

Disclaimer- I don’t want to sound like I’m slamming on the guys who are sacrificing their Saturday morning to put on a race for the cycling community. This event was more of a culmination of my overall frustration at the general attitude of 90% of Memphis Cyclists that cyclocross is just some silly obstacle course that doesn’t really matter. There’s a USA Cycling rule book with course guidelines. There’s a USA Cycling official at the race. There are a few very experienced, very accomplished cyclocross racers in town who would be happy to help create a great cyclocross course. With the exception of the Outdoors Inc cyclocross race in a couple of weeks, none of those resources are being implemented by the people putting on any of the races in Memphis (not just the guys running this race).

Saturday’s course was frustrating because some parts of the course were just dangerous. The worst was a loose-over hard sharp gravel downhill sweeper into an amphitheater. It was badly washed out, bumpy, and edgy with deep grass hiding more piles of loose gravel and holes near the bottom. I was at a loss- there was also broken glass and other spots on course rooty enough that I would’t have been surprised to see at least one broken handlebar or cracked rim at any point during the races. Most of the guys I talked to gave me the, “you’re a pro mountain biker, why are you so worried?” line. Ya know, maybe that means I value the well-being of myself and my equipment more than others…

A1 A2

Maybe I just want to see cyclocross- a sport which I love very much- taken a little more seriously.

Luckily for everyone, Matt showed up with a shovel and rake. He was able to at least knock the sharp edges off of the washouts and make one slightly less sketchy line through it. Despite my frustrations, I raced hard and got in some good training. I’ve been working hard on my pacing this season, and this time, I kept all of my lap times within 10 seconds of each other.

Moving on to something much better, and much more important…

I was considering the possibility of driving to Little Rock after the race on Saturday to race a night race and a Sunday morning race. However, I decided I wanted to stick around for something 100x more rewarding than any personal pursuit of training or racing- the Tennessee High School Cycling League mountain bike race at Herb Parson’s Lake.

A while back, Chad Terry (owner of Bike World, purveyor of Nimblewear USA, and coach of the Collierville HS MTB Team) contacted me about getting help with volunteer collecting for the upcoming race. I posted here and everywhere else on the internet and contacted Gu about getting some volunteer schwag to encourage locals to help out.

Matt and I drove out to the trail yesterday morning and worked as course marshals during the girls’ race.

IMG_2530

When I saw the girl leading the varsity race pass by, it made me teary-eyed.

IMG_2532

…as did watching many of the other racers. I can’t express how happy/warm/fuzzy it makes me to see young women racing their hearts out. It was just such a wonderful experience to help support people who are encouraging more kids to get out in the woods and compete. If you ever get a chance to even just watch a high school event in your area, I’d highly recommend it. Though, it’s even more fun if you get involved.

October 25, 2013

Osprey Rev 12

Filed under: Product Reviews,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 7:36 am

I mentioned back during my Colorado trip that I’d stopped by Osprey headquarters while I was hanging out at Lauren Hall’s place in Dolores. While I was there, I got one of their brand-new Rev 12 packs (which will also come in two smaller sizes). I used it once in the Breck Epic (during a stage that had a long gap between aid stations), and, since then, I’ve used it for 3-4 hour mountain bike rides, trail runs, an adventure race, and lots of trail work. So far, I’ve been very happy with it…

I’ll admit, I’m a fan of racing without a pack whenever possible. It’s lighter, bottles are faster to refill, and, especially in the summer, you can off-load heat from your back when you’re not wearing one. However, if you’re gonna ride a long way without opportunity to refill on water, or if you just need to carry stuff, you gotta have a good pack.

While the shape may look a little like the Camelbak LR packs that are made to be worn low around the hips, this one is made to be worn higher up like a traditional pack. I’ll admit, I was a little wary of that, because I’ve had my share of neck & shoulder pain from that style of pack. I became a fan, though, because if you take a close look at all the straps, you’ll see they’re all stretchy and form fitting. The result is a much closer, “part of you” ‘fit than any other packs I’ve worn. Since it really hugs your body, it doesn’t budge when you ride/run, and its weight it diffused to more than just your shoulders.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a Camelback LR pack rest on the back of your head while you’re going down a steep hill…

IMG_2486

IMG_2485

IMG_2501

I’ve always liked getting a pack with a little extra storage/water space. Materials are so light now that the weight penalty is usually small, and it gives you the option of running light or packing for an all-day adventure. This pack has some good easy-access pockets on the hip belt and shoulder straps. I keep my food and anything else I may need to get to while riding in the hip pockets and use the shoulder pockets to hold trash. The left shoulder pocket has a buckle that lets it flip down (if you’ve got your phone in it, the plastic is touch-screen compatible), and the inner right pocket can unzip and expand to hold a water bottle (I’ve found it more helpful for holding my glasses when they fog up and I take them off). I use the outer elastic cord to hold my Silky Sugoi saw (in its scabbard) when I’m doing trail work.

IMG_2491

IMG_2492IMG_2493

IMG_2494IMG_2495

There are three pockets in the main part of the pack. One holds a 2.5L/85oz reservoir- the newest style one that came in this pack is baffled so that it stays flat instead of teardrop-shaped. It’s also got a quick-disconnect hose at the top so it’s really easy to refill (I’ve found it to be fastest if I hang it off of a chair like in the first photos).

IMG_2489

There’s also a small middle pocket, which I keep a spare tube in, and a large outer pocket, where my pump lives. At the TNAC adventure race, I carried my running shoes in there with room to spare (the baffles in the new reservoir make the outer pocket super roomy all the way down).

IMG_2488 IMG_2487

Oh yeah, the bite valve is pretty trick, too. If you turn it straight out (like in the photo) or back, it’s “off,” and when you turn it 90 degrees, it’s “on.” It also has a strong magnet that attracts cats and holds it to the chest strap.

IMG_2505

If I could change anything about the pack, it’d be to tighten up the two mesh angled pockets between the body and the hip straps (you can kinda see them in the top 2 photos). They’re easy to get to when you’re riding, but they’re pretty loose, so small stuff can fall out of them. If you stuffed a jacket or a bulky pair of gloves in them, you’d be fine, but they don’t securely hold on to things like gel flasks or big air cartridges. If I’m trail riding, I’d tend to stop and take that stuff off, anyway, so it’s not a big deal to stuff them into the outer pocket.

Of the packs I’ve used, this one definitely fits the best. Once it’s on, it fits like another piece of clothing and doesn’t shift or jostle or bother me like anything else I’ve worn. It’s just “there” with all the stuff you want right where you need it.

Anyone want a cat?

October 21, 2013

Cyclocross and Hard Labor

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 11:06 am

My weekend consisted of about 1.5 hours of riding, but left me sore and tired nonetheless.

Saturday morning, I packed up and drove to nearby Shelby Farms Park to race our newest local cyclocross series- Crossroads Clash. It was fun, though I don’t have much of a report for it- one other local gal showed up, and she’s pretty new to CX, so there wasn’t much of a “Clash” to speak of. She is, however, very enthusiastic and starting out on a steel singlespeed, very much like I did. I concentrated on pacing myself since I tend to go to plaid for the first 10 minutes and then fade. It worked well, and, despite an early washout/chain drop on a greasy turn, I ended up 3rd overall in the “B” race.

1397203_10153397530485305_1255698974_o

1401529_10153397532435305_1313064086_o

After the race, I watched Ryan, who had a decent go despite his increase in work/decrease in training in the past few months. Matt showed up on his mountain bike with a noise-maker and some dollar bills, and a good time was had by all…

IMG_2446

Afterward, we cleaned up, ate some lunch, and packed up to do a little trail work. Matt and I ended up pruning privet off of the Wolf River Trail for about 3 hours before hiking back to the car. We decided that that the hiking in/out thing was the only bad part about trail work, so Matt devised a solution for our “long haul” on Sunday:

IMG_2457

My original plan for the weekend was to drive to Land Between the Lakes, KY after the CX race for Sunday morning’s Race to the Canal. Unfortunately, a bunch of asshole, sleazebag politicians with only their own self interests in mind screwed that up for everyone. So, Matt had the idea to do hours of trail work equal to the number of hours we would have raced/driven. Ryan, unfortunately, had to leave for a 2-3 week work venture, so he was unable to attend the trail party.

Sunday morning, after large quantities of coffee, eggs, and uncured-organic bacon, Matt and I loaded shovels, bikes, a rake, saw, and loppers then drove out to the Greenline trailhead to ride in and tackle some of the worst mudholes on the Yellow Trail of the Wolf River Trail System. Since the yellow trail is the sandiest and fastest-draining of all the trails nearby, it sees the most abuse in the winter time (when we tend to see more rain & less trail-drying warmth). The places that do hold water have turned in to 10-15ft wide mud pits as trail traffic rides around the outsides of them, continually eroding the edges and making them larger. Trails in many other areas of the U.S. have been shut down for less…

…but here, it’s considered “the usual spots,” and people ride anyway. My stance isn’t popular with a large portion of the MTB community, but it’s one I stand by, given the eyesore that mudholes create and the amount of effort it takes to fix them.

Matt and I used our previously successful “divide and conquer” strategy. We scouted out the high side of the holes then set off into the woods to find an appropriately sized piece of wood to create an “edge” for our dirt. The other side of the hole gets filled with privet clippings and branches in order to close it off and allow the woods to grow back in to the area. We then fill the high size with enough dirt to bring it up to the level of the surrounding trail. The two spots we fixed yesterday took about 5 hours worth of shoveling…

Sorry ahead of time for the lack of before shots, but if you just look for the piles of privet in the shots below, you can see the extent of the holes we filled in.

This one was the deepest, and will require the most upkeep because the hill on one side of the trail drains straight into it. We sunk in a couple of large limbs on that side to act as a water bar and diffuse some of the runoff. If you look at the 1st photo, you’ll see that the hole spans from the left side of the frame to the large tree on the right:

IMG_2458

IMG_2459

This second one was as big as the edge of our dirt to the other side of the pile of privet you can see in most of the photos. Our work also included the cleaning off of a conveniently-placed roller on one side…

IMG_2462

IMG_2463

IMG_2460

IMG_2464

Of course, neither one of these fixes is a perfect 12″ wide ribbon of singletrack, but, given the expanse of the existing holes, they’re a step in the right direction. Our prolific spring/summer growing season will take them both in a few inches every year. There are several more almost as bad holes/wide spots very close to those, and each one will likely take a couple hours’ worth of digging and engineering. However, it was a huge step towards getting the yellow trail fortified for the upcoming winter.

 

October 3, 2013

Simmer Down

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 7:27 am

Since returning from Interbike, I’ve given myself a little bit of leeway to act more like a normal person who rides bikes than a full-time bike racer. In the past couple of years, I’ve gone to either extreme- either taking a full-on break from the bike for a week-ish, or, in the last year, since I did a good job of pacing my schedule, didn’t feel the need to take much of a break at all. Though I am “training” for the Tennessee Adventure Challenge race, it’s basically a fun thing that gives me a laid-back, low-expectation “goal” to keep me from going nuts while I take a rest from being hyper-focused on my usual races.

How’s that different? Well, Sunday, I had a 4.5 hour tempo ride on my training schedule. I wanted to do a specific ride on my mountain bike, but then it rained. So, instead of doing the ride on my road bike, in the rain, I just blew it off and went for a run/yoga class. I’m also doing other fun stuff, like stopping to take photos:

IMG_2299  IMG_2343

Wearing baggy shorts:

IMG_2297

And meeting up with the Ladies Only ride last weekend:

IMG_2308

IMG_2313

IMG_2316

Part of my aversion to the 4 hours of road riding last Sunday was my lack of a road bike. I finally sent all of the defective Cannondale frames back and asked for a refund of my money. The final tally? 5 frames in the last year- every single one of them with the same defective bottom bracket shell. Number 5 was actually promised to be a 2014 bike from the new mold (the only reason why I rode a defective one with an adapter for months), but all that waiting, and they just sent me another one of the 2013 defective ones. They’ve got the bikes, and I’m still waiting for them to get their shit together and give me my money back so I can buy something else.

In the meantime, I’ve got my Scott CX bike overhauled and set back up as a road bike:

IMG_2286

 

In non-bike goings-on, I decided to try an Aerial Yoga class. It’s a ton of fun:

IMG_2347

Also, here’s a random photo of Indy, getting a bath:

IMG_2304

I know that my “less serious riding” time is serving its purpose, because I’m already starting to look at early season races to get on the schedule so my fall/winter training has a tangible goal. For now, I’m excited about trying some new-ish stuff and relaxing a little.

IMG_2294

August 28, 2013

A well-recovered weekend

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 7:42 am

After taking it easy for a week following the trip back from Breck, my legs were feeling good, and I was ready to get some structure back in to life. Time off following a hard race is great at first, but always makes me feel lost and floaty after a couple of days. I have a hard time getting anything done because the lack of structure makes organizing tasks feel like a game of 52 card pickup.

So, on Saturday, I set out with Matt on a ride to the Stanky Creek trails and back via the Wolf River trails. I felt fine, and had enough fun that I did it again on Sunday with Ryan. We rode to meet some of his teammates at Stanky Creek for a hot lap before heading home. Nearly 8 hours of riding for the weekend followed up with some H.A.M. intervals on Tuesday felt like a nice trip back to normalcy. To polish off a fun few days, I went to No Regrets yesterday to get part of my left arm half sleeve colored in with World Championship Colors…

ink

 

I’ll post tattoo photos once it’s all healed.

This weekend, I’m off to Ackerman, MS for the Skool of Hard Nox 50 miler. I’ve never ridden in that area, so it should be fun to get out and discover some new trails. Speaking of discovering new trails- I’ve been in talks with David Wilson from Nuclear Sunrise. He’s going to help get me set up for some bikepacking adventures this fall. I’ve spent the last two winters dead set on racing Worlds. This year, I’m not discounting the fun of cyclocross, but I do plan on diversifying my fun into the “go to the woods for a few days” category.

August 9, 2013

Road Trip #3: Dolores

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 4:45 pm

My next stop after Salida was the teeny little town of Dolores.

IMG_1932

I stayed with my friend Lauren Hall, who, before she moved off to Colorado to become a world famous sprinter, used to live/race in Mississippi.

IMG_1940

(no, she didn’t get that kit from probikekit.com)

When I arrived there on Monday, Lauren was out running errands. Being a little stir crazy from the 4 hour drive, I decided to ride up to the local trail system, Boggy Draw.

IMG_1936

IMG_1935 IMG_1934

IMG_1933

The scenery out there is gorgeous, of course, and, when I arrived back at the house, Lauren was home and getting prepped to make dinner, which was equally as amazing as the riding:

IMG_1937

She had a dog stuff catalog on her coffee table. I ordered three of these:

IMG_1938

Staying with a pro is always fun. On her recommendation, I started a daily beet juice regimen. She made it the first day, and it was yummy (I think it involved pretty much every fruit and vegetable in her fridge). My recipe the next day (2 beets, 4 carrots, 1 apple) was not nearly as good. Beets are kinda rough, but rumor (actually, lots of research) has it that they’ll make you faster

IMG_1952 IMG_1951

I took tuesday as my one day off the bike for the trip. That morning, I drove to nearby Cortez for yoga (here’s the sky, looking angry, on the way home)

IMG_1944

…and played around with her Compex EMS on “active recovery” mode just before bed.

IMG_1949

Wednesday, I went back for more yoga, then hung around the house in anticipation of the afternoon group ride at Boggy Draw. Unfortunately, some afternoon rain moved in, and only a couple of people showed. The rain quickly soaked the trail, so we only made it around a small loop before bailing out. I only took a couple of photos:

IMG_1953 IMG_1954

Wednesday night, we went to the Dolores River Brewery and saw a really cool band. Highlight of the night? A few people from Osprey were there, too. Lauren introduced us, we chatted about Breck Epic and whatnot, and Jeff Fox, the head marketing guy, offered to let me try one of their newest packs. It’s amazing who you can meet in a tiny bar in the middle of nowhere:

IMG_1957 IMG_1956

Thursday morning, Lauren and I went to Cortez to take a tour and meet people at the Osprey headquarters:

IMG_1959

IMG_1960IMG_1962

IMG_1961IMG_1963

The pack is a new one they’ve been working on. I’m looking forward to trying it out, because they’ve gone to great lengths to give it pockets that are very on-bike accessible. I’ll post some pics and info once I’ve had a chance to ride with it a few times.

After the tour, Lauren and I said our goodbyes and I headed off to Breckenridge.

 

 

August 6, 2013

Road Trip: #2

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Trails — Andrea @ 10:18 am

Sunday morning, I planned out a nice-sized ride from the hostel. The main goal was to ride ~10miles of the Rainbow Trail and then a lower-elevation, shorter trail called Little Rainbow back towards town. First, I walked to a local place for breakfast.

IMG_1903

Yard art from the trip:

IMG_1905

The route (ridden clockwise):

Rainbow

I rode the singlespeed, and the 32×21 was great until the very top of the initial climb up Bear Creek Rd, where I started to feel low on oxygen and had to hike a little. The first 6 miles or so were gorgeous and flowy bench-cut singletrack with occasional open overlooks before intersecting another forest road at a trailhead:

IMG_1909

IMG_1911

At that point, the trail jogged down the road a little (you can see on my route where there’s an “up” in the blue line where I thought incorrectly that maybe it jogged uphill). The next 3-4 miles of trail were much steeper and gravelly. I did a little more hike-a-bike before getting to the next intersection where I’d turn off to go to the Lower Rainbow trails:

IMG_1913

After a slightly hairy jeep road descent, I found the trail intersection and started down the next portion of trail. The lower rainbow was super flowy and nice as well. My only interruption was a heard of elk that exploded up the side of the mountain as I rounded a corner. As the retreated, they kicked rocks at me. No photos of the elk, but I got one of the “elk were here” sign:

IMG_1914

The rest of the trail was great, and, being mostly downhill, went by almost too quickly. Once I’d descended back into Salida, I stopped at the SubCulture bike shop to talk to the mechanic who’d given me some trail advice when I’d stopped by before. Over the past few rides, I’d determined that I didn’t want to keep the Niner Low-Top bars at their full 720mm width. Since I didn’t bring a saw guide and saw with me, I asked him to cut them down just a little (they’re about 705mm wide now). He did the most perfect on-bike cutting job I’ve seen, ever.

When I asked how much I owed him, he kinda shrugged his shoulders, so I told him I’d bring beer back after I cleaned up and got out to find lunch. Just my luck- the owner of the food truck parked next to the shop was in the store, and he’d mentioned some sort of amazing concoction of a chicken tamale, fried egg, and turkey chili (the mechanic, Raphael, said that the food was amazing, and that the guy fed the shop every day). Perfect timing, because about the time I was back with a 12-er of PBR (yes, even in the land of incredible microbrews, mechanics request PBR), I was hungry enough to gnaw my bars shorter.

And, the food was incredibly amazing, and perfectly satisfying for post-ride hunger:

IMG_1915

Raphael and his dog (not pictured- his girlfriend, Claire, also a singlespeeder. She was closing up shop and came over to give him ribbing about it later):

IMG_1916

IMG_1917

Random photo: desert was overpriced single-serve Haagen Dazs ice cream- For those of us with no self-control when it comes to ice-cream portion control…

IMG_1918

The next morning, I went and flat wore myself out on the city pump track. It’s likely the best-built one I’ve ever ridden. If you go to Salida, definitely don’t skip it.

IMG_1925

IMG_1922

Once I was tired and sweaty, I headed back to pack up and get moving to Dolores. The verdict on Salida? I’ll definitely be back. I only scratched the surface of riding there, so I will have to visit again in the future (of great interest- an 80something mile trail ride that includes riding to the Monarch Crest trail on 4th of July).

 

 

 

 

August 3, 2013

Road Trip: #1

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 6:23 pm

After a fairly uneventful drive across several states, I arrived in Salida, CO yesterday afternoon. Yes, I’m going to Dolores also, but I had to make a pit stop and check out some extra trails before I settled in to my “chill out” spot. First order of business was lunch and stopping by some local shops for trail info and essentials, like hot pink/rhinestone gloves.

IMG_1857

 

I got a bunk at the local hostel. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel, I highly recommend it. Bring an open mind, though, because a lot of the people you meet will be “weird” in some of the most fascinating and awesome ways. It’s an interesting mix of hikers, bikers (this particular time, a guy riding the continental divide trail and a woman road riding down the pacific coast before heading east), and all sorts of travelers from all over the place. Usually a cute dog or two, also.

IMG_1861 IMG_1872 IMG_1879

IMG_1877 IMG_1875 IMG_1874

IMG_1878

After I unpacked, I went out for a quick ride around the Arkansas Hills trails. Included were plenty of scenery, as well as the first of likely many hike-a-bikes of my trip (first photo).

IMG_1865 IMG_1863

IMG_1864  IMG_1862

Soon after I arrived back from riding, I went to dinner with a group from the hostel. WTF moment of the day occurred when a sketchy van pulled up with four fat bikes on the back and four middle-aged women inside. Whoa.

IMG_1870 IMG_1869

Back at the hostel, a group of three guys showed up to stay the night and ride the Monarch Crest trail in the morning. I’d researched the Monarch Crest trail before I left Memphis, and had made tentative plans to ride it on Sunday.

Side note- the Monarch Trail starts just off the road that goes up & over the Monarch Pass. You can ride to the start, but there’s also a park & ride shuttle that will take you up there. The ride up is pretty hairy with truck/RV/car traffic, etc.

I figured it’d be more fun to ride with the smaller group, so I went with the new plan. The trail is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I could ever get tired of the view from on top of a 12k foot mountain pass.

IMG_1880  IMG_1886

IMG_1888 IMG_1885

 

IMG_1882

IMG_1889

If I ever met the person who thought up the idea of this trail, I’d open mouth kiss him/her.

 

« Older PostsNewer Posts »

Powered by WordPress