brickhouseracing

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.

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Yard art from the trip:

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The route (ridden clockwise):

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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):

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

 

July 15, 2013

Mountain Stuff

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 12:37 pm

Like I promised, I made my decision as to whether or not I’d go to XC Nationals based on my feelings in the drive home from Marathon Nationals. I’m 100% not feeling it. I want to focus my efforts on tuning back up for Breck Epic, which starts August 11th. After a little post-Natz break, I got back into some intervals today, and, even though they weren’t my best, they were promising, and it felt good to be getting back into a training groove after all the tapering/traveling associated with going to Idaho.

In random “badasses of Memphis” news, Billy Simpson, a local ultramarathon runner, finished the Hardrock 100 over the weekend – 18th place with a time of 33 hours, 14 minutes, and 47 seconds. As an occasionally vocal trail advocate, Billy has had his disagreements with the local 2-wheeled community in the past (some of which I’m more on his side than on others’), but, in the end, we’re all just looking for the next adventure. So, to Billy…

I can barely contain my Breck Epic excitement. To add to it, I’m leaving a week early and staying with another (formerly) local badass, Lauren Hall. I’m going to hide out in her basement and ride trails in her little corner of Colorado while I get through my initial throes of altitude adjustment. I always have a bad day about 2-3 days after getting up high before leveling off to just “more out of breath than usual,” so 5 or 6 days at 7,000ft should get me through that in preparation for Breck.

Motivation for things like Breck Epic is essentially what’s getting me through some of my rides right now. I’m still scared of being hit by a car on a regular basis… a fear reinforced by what seems like a rise in frequency of drivers being incredibly careless, reckless, and/or flat-out mean. I’ve been able to get it down to about 1 during-ride anxiety attack per week. Though I occasionally find myself feeling like I want to collapse in on myself like a black hole, it’s a combination of both my desire to be excellent and of sheer stubbornness that I won’t quit training on the road.

Can't Stop

June 10, 2013

Recovery Week

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Trails — Andrea @ 7:41 am

The thing about a recovery week is that there’s not always a lot to blog about. Unlike Dicky, I made audio race reports while I was out at TSE, so I didn’t have to remember the fine details of each stage so that I might blog about them once I was home. I did have a few nice recovery rides which allowed me to get cool photos like this:

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I’ve also been gathering the necessary parts needed to re-assemble the Jet9 with some nice upgrades. I know I’ve said in the past that I wouldn’t get XX1 until the cassette options improved, but I realized at TSE that if I’m only going to ride it on the trail (vs. doing some road & trail training like I do on the Air9 RDO), the current offering should suit my needs. So, all I lack now is the XX1 driver for my wheelsets. Re-assembly starts today…

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Over the weekend, I made an impromptu trip to the Syllamo Trails for a last bit of relaxation before getting back into my normal training schedule. I wasn’t sure how the trails would be since they tend to get grown over this time of year, so I stuck to the orange and blue since they tend to be the shadiest parts of the system. Matt came along. He went Strava-poaching on the road while I was in the woods. It just so happened that I caught up to him on my way back to the cabin:

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Before that, I realized something really cool while I was on the blue trail-
A couple of years ago, a group of people (I have no idea who- all I know is that it was some sort of large, organized effort) went through one of the most notoriously technical and hike-a-bikey sections of the blue trail (the couple of miles on the “other” side of highway 5, for those of you familiar with the area), and made a bunch of smooth, easier re-routes to large sections of the trail, as well as removing all rocks and obstacles from the path. The trail resembled a nerf football in the coming winter (not that didn’t remain a very difficult ride- there’s a b*tch of a steep climb out there, and lots of super steep stuff that’s barely rideable even to someone who is very good at riding super loose/steep stuff).
Despite someone’s best laid plans to make the trail more accessible to more people, through the process of wind, weather, and mischievous Indian ghosts, the Proterozoic mountain is growing out from under the dirt, and the trail is once again becoming a rocky limestone beast. The trail still seems to be growing and changing all over, which makes it a slightly different challenge every time I make the trip out.

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After riding and dinner, I decided on a spontaneous fishing trip down to the boat ramp on the White River. I didn’t catch anything, but the water felt nice.

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Sunday, in lieu of riding, we went out to explore the southern end of the Sylamore Creek hiking trail. It’s closed to bikes, and, in the words of one of the older MTB guys here in town when someone was talking about poaching it… “Good luck with that”

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Yes, Poolboy Matt was wearing short jorts, which he rolled up to “daisy duke” length at some point while fording the creek to get to the trail.

On the trip back, we discussed the gaping holes in my riding abilities. Namely, my inability to get a bike off the ground without the aid of clipless pedals. Matt decided I should learn on his BMX bike. So, last night, I donned the shin guards and launched off of a sweet ramp into the yard. It was pretty bad… but you gotta start somewhere.

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My week of TSE reflection has drawn to a close. I promise I’ll stop talking about it, though, I have come away with one realization. I learned somewhere around stage 5 that my body was reacting to the repeated efforts with deep-seated exhaustion. However, if you were following Twitter during stage 6, you would have seen this progression:

Amanda Carey, Sue Haywood, and Andrea Wilson are wheel-to-wheel!

Women’s leader Carey is sitting on second place overall and current Bear Creek SRAM Enduro jersey wearer Wilson.

After a detour in yesterday’s stage by the entire NoTubes team Wilson is pushing the pace to try to solidify her position.

Carey and Haywood have opened a gap on Wilson

Sarah Kaufman next through. Taking time back from Wilson too.

I essentially went out kinda hard, knowing that there was about a 5% chance of success, and was eventually caught off guard by the sudden tech of the initial singletrack, resulting in my wrecking and going backwards through the field, followed closely by my body calling it quits for the week- 1.5 hours in to nearly 4 hours of riding with one more defensively hard stage looming the next day. I knew, in the first hour of “pushing the pace” that I was being a little reckless with my energy. I didn’t care. I didn’t like dying off half an hour later, but the awesome feeling of the first hour made the entire week worthwhile. The “not dying” part will come with more fitness and experience. I keep getting this movie scene in my head when I think about it…

I mean, I don’t really have any ominous messages to send, other than, “I’m not afraid to see what will happen if I burn my legs up climbing this hill.”

 

March 4, 2013

Oops

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 8:50 am

First off, just as a quick update, there’s more bad juju going on with the EVO. I’m just waiting to work things out with C’Dale before I give a full report, because I want my next report to be my last one.

Now that’s out of the way, I can talk about my own screw-up that kept me from riding in a group MTB ride in Oxford on Saturday. As a little change of pace, Poolboy Matt and I decided that we’d go down to Oxford for the “Tuff Guy” ride- a group ride starting at one trail system, taking a road/bike path route to trails on the other side of town, then coming back to the starting trail system. The weather was pretty dismal- temps hung in the low 30′s, cloud cover was thick, and the humidity was so high that the moisture in the air was turning into snow-ish ice pellets that’d pelt you in the face and collect in your collar. We figured it’d be more fun to suffer bad weather with a group on new trails instead of suffering alone in Memphis.

So, Saturday morning, we got into a breakfast time-vacuum of some sort, and ended up rushing a little to leave. I backed the car out of the garage to pack and realized that the roads were slimy, so I decided to stick the bikes inside the Element rather than on the rear rack. I removed the front wheels, and they fit in perfectly with our bags & other riding stuff. We were off & running, and made the drive down with 20 minutes to spare before the ride start.

As soon as we arrived, Matt took his bike out & rode off to look for a bathroom. I got my bike out and it immediately hit me- I had no thru axle for my front wheel. I didn’t even have to look around in the car to make sure. I clearly remembered wrestling with it a little to get it out of the front wheel, then tossing it on the ground in the driveway before installing the bike and front wheel into the back of the Element without retrieving the thru axle. I flagged down Matt. We made a few hail-mary efforts to look for someone with a spare bike that may have one, but it wasn’t happening. I knew Matt was really looking forward to the ride, so I offered to be a crew person for the group then do my workout on the trainer once we were home. However, he decided he’d rather go back and ride in Memphis.

The ride back home was very quiet.

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Back home, we hit the reset button- eating lunch, prepping bikes, and deciding on a route. Given the rain we’ve been having, we chose on an out & back route that included the driest of the nearby trails as well as some of the Memphis Greenline. Pace would range from spirited to “hammertime.”

We ended up having a great, exhausting ride. Matt installed a rigid fork on his bike a few days ago and decided to celebrate by riding cross-country pace+ on the inbound portion of our route. The combination of pace and lack of trail traffic (due to weather than was better suited to staying inside with a hot toddy) made for some serious Strava terrorism. We may not have done the planned group ride, but we got in one helluva workout.

Day = salvaged

February 11, 2013

Weekend at Syllamo & Industry 9 Trail 24 initial review

Filed under: Product Reviews,Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 1:29 pm

First- the riding.

It was awesome, as always. I’ve visited a lot of trails in my short-ish time as a mountain biker, but the Syllamo trails are still some of the most beautiful and challenging I’ve encountered. I did my usual Friday afternoon warmup on the green & orange trails- it’s a good start to a weekend there because you can knock out the loops in ~1.5 hours, and they leave from the closest trailhead, which means the drive there is easy. Those particular trails also give you a nice sampling of what Syllamo has to offer- climbs, descents, flowy stuff, overlooks, and, of course, what’re probably the two “best” rock gardens of the entire system.

Somewhere, in the midst of cyclocross training, I improved my ability to negotiate rock gardens. I’m not 100% sure how (improvement in my equipment is a contributing factor for sure, but more on that in a minute), because I was generally glued to a ‘cross bike since Christmas. Friday afternoon, I managed to clean the rock gardens on both the green and orange trails, first time through- something that, until Friday afternoon, I’ve never managed to pull off, even individually. There’s always been at least one dab or do-over every time I’ve ridden them. I went back to the cabin basking in the awesomeness of rock garden domination and enjoyed the sunset with a glass of wine on the back porch.

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Saturday morning, I met up with some people for a quick trailwork party. We cut a corridor through a logged-off section (essentially, that means that if you can stand in the trail with your arms out, you cut anything between your fingertips that’s not a grown-up tree). In the logged areas like this one, it’s lots of lopper and line trimmer work. It’ll pay off big time once spring hits by keeping the angry plants off the trail for an extra month or two before mother nature takes over completely for the summer.

 

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After that, we got on our bikes and went tree hunting. First, to a downed one on the yellow trail. Then, we split up, and Wes and I went to the blue and orange trails. Before splitting, we stopped back at the cars, which were parked at a campsite down a logging road. While we were there, the campers occupying the site drove up. They were two college students who were researching stress hormones in wood frogs. Apparently, that was the Southern end of the frogs’ territory, and they were hoping that the incoming rain (which ended my trip a day early) would bring about successful trapping. We also encountered a group of guys in ATVs who were looking for an ATV-legal path to the yellow trail overlook. They were camping elsewhere for one guy’s bachelor party (too bad all guys can’t be classy enough to go enjoy beer and nature for their bachelor parties).

 

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We removed 3 more trees from the blue and orange trails before finishing up the orange loop and riding back up the forest road to our cars. The trail is nice and clear for now, but the hog damage is getting out of control in some areas. They root along the side of the trail and turn over dirt, rocks, and leaves. The fluffy leaves hide the rocks, making for a dangerous riding condition in some sections where you can’t see what’s hiding under the leaves. Other than a bounty or hunting season, I’m not sure what we can do before they tear everything up.

Enough about the battle with hogs. On to the good stuff…

It’s not often that I’m wrong, but, I have to admit, here and now, that, for the last 3 years, I’ve led many people down the wrong path when it comes to hubs. Before this weekend, if you asked me, “should I get a hub with uber-fast engagement?” I would have answered you with something along the lines of, “you won’t notice a fast-engaging hub as much as you’ll notice if your hub engages slowly.”

Well, I was mistaken.

I didn’t think that a fraction of a second of faster engagement could make a difference in clearing a spot or not clearing it. Actually, it makes a huge difference. Granted, my fitness is great right now, and that helps with the tech-riding success I had this weekend. However, I can’t discount the impact that my new wheels had on my ability to put the fitness to good use. I was amazed over and over again at how much of a blast I had riding them.

Also, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the I9 stiffness vs. the carbon ENVE wheels I rode last season. No, they’re not as stiff. But, if I put everything I’ve owned on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being American Classic Race wheels and 10 being ENVE carbon, I’d give the Trail 24s about an 8.5 (for further reference, a Stan’s Crest/DT Swiss aerolite/hope would be a “5″ in my head).

My totally subjective judgement on stiffness is based on a couple of things- one being how much the wheels make you notice “other” stuff about your bike setup- i.e. you have to pay much more attention to things like suspension and tire pressure adjustments when your wheels are super-stiff. The ENVE wheels beat the hell out of me the first time I rode them in Arkansas because I needed to make major changes in my front fork setup (lighter weight oil in the damper/less air pressure). The I9s made me realize that I needed less air pressure in my tires as well (previously not a problem with the ENVEs since the rim was sooooo narrow; previously not a problem on the AMClassics because they were superflexy). My other (totally subjective, possibly untrue) measure is more of a feeling of flex under load. I’ve noticed that some wheels (both mountain and road) seem to have a weird vibration (almost like a groan) that resonates through the drivetrain when I’m putting down a good bit of power. On a mountain bike, it’s just annoying. On a road bike, it will make me think I have a flat tire.

So, initial reports for the I9 trail 24 wheels- Wow. Just, wow. Sure, it’s just been one weekend, but Syllamo is not a place that suffers lesser equipment lightly. I’m absolutely itching to get some more time on these as the season continues.

January 23, 2013

SOLD! Air9 Carbon for sale, Round 2

Filed under: Around the shop,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 8:42 am

Too slow! It’s outta here!

There was a little interest in the A9C frame/fork, but no solid bites, so here’s another offer:

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Parts include:
Hayes Stroker Trail brakes
Truvativ Stylo Crank (32×17 gearing)
Hope Hubs (SS Rear)
Stan’s Crest/355 rims
Thomson Seatpost
Easton EA50 stem (100mm/6deg)
Truvativ Stylo Alloy bar
WTB Grips
The front tire will NOT be the Michelin in the picture. It will be a matching (to the rear) Hutchinson Python

$2,200

The original deal still stands if you’re looking to purchase a frame & fork only.

December 25, 2012

In Defense of Hike-A-Bike

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 3:47 pm

With Ryan out of town visiting family and Poolboy Matt off work for Christmas, we decided to make a quick pre-Christmas trip to Syllamo. Rather than the usual trail riding, I convinced Matt to join me in exploring a couple of off-trail paths that looked as if they were once “roads.” During the course of both Saturday and Sunday rides, we ended up pushing our bikes for slightly upwards of 20 minutes in order to navigate steep, overgrown, and/or deadfall-covered terrain. Matt (bless his heart) did his best to stay positive, but I could tell that he wanted to stab me in the neck with a chainring.

This brings me to my main point of this post- why are so many people so bothered by hike-a-bike???

It seems like most riders (I’ve heard it from everyone- average joe to all-out pro) hate traversing/climbing/pushing/carrying over less ride-able terrain. Why? Short of things like yellow jackets, wasps, and belligerent motorists, I can’t wrap my head around the concept of hating anything during a mountain bike outing.

In less than 1 minute, I came up with this list of 10 things worse than hike-a-bike:
- Root canal
-Rush hour traffic with lots of angry commuters
-Being late to anything
-Overcooking a really nice cut of meat
-Air conditioner out of order in the Summer
- Running out of anything important on Christmas day and all of the stores are closed
-Desk Jobs
-Homelessness
-Fast Food
- Listening to people argue politics

See? You could be experiencing any one of those things (among others), but instead, you’re out in the woods with your bike. How can that possibly be bad? (unless yellow jackets or wasps are involved) It’s like listening to road racers complain about wind or a hill or something… it’s just a “thing” that comes with the territory. Embrace it.

December 11, 2012

Decisions…

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 3:40 pm

I need help picking colors for two Industry Nine wheelsets.

The easier one will be a mountain wheelset- the type with the baller I9 hubs & spokes and a black aluminum rim (the rim I’ll get is not a stan’s rim as pictured in the link, but the other options are the same). I’ve already settled on purple hubs, but the spokes, I’m not 100% sure on. I was thinking that black, gold, and purple should all be included, though I’m not sure as to what extent. My bikes are black (Air 9 RDO) and black & white (Air 9 CYA SS), and my kit will be purple and black.

The one I can’t make up my mind about is the road wheelset. Once again, I’ll have my choice of I9 hub color, but the spoke options are either black or silver with whatever color nipples I’d like as well as either black or silver for the rim. I want flashy without trashy, and this is the bike they’ll be used on most of the time:

Don’t say red. Red is way overdone.

November 26, 2012

Thanksyllamo 2012

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 9:48 am

It’s going to be a bit of a long post, but I figured since the stuff that happened before the termination of my Thanksyllamo weekend wasn’t incredibly interesting, I’d just hit the high points and get to the (blood)gushy stuff.

After a fun Strava-hunt road ride with Ryan, Matt, and (Matt) Robbins (home from PT school for the holiday), Ryan and I got to packing the singlespeeds to make the drive up and over to the cabin in Mountain View. Last year, we started the tradition of inviting friends to the cabin for riding, eating turkey, and all the requisite shenanigans. I brine & roast a turkey, cook other traditional holiday food, and it’s generally declared the “best turkey ever” before everyone passes out on the couch/recliner.

We arrived in Mountain View Thursday evening. WalMart was bustling with employees getting ready for the black friday sale that was starting 2 hours early (preparations included pallets of stuff wrapped in plastic lined up in the aisles with tags saying “do not remove until 10PM” as well as various balloons showing customers where to start lines for bigger ticket items, like the 952in TV and whatnot). We collected what we needed for dinner and got up to the cabin to enjoy some wine, football, and turkey brining. Later that evening, Matt made it over as well.

Friday, we rode the green trail and most of the orange and blue trails. The highlight of the ride was likely the discovery of the beaver dam just downstream from the 3rd creek crossing… and by “discovered,” I mean we were about halfway across the creek when our bikes nearly floated away, and we had to wade through thigh-deep water to the other side. Just past that, there was a huge tree blocking the trail, and, further up, a re-route of some sort that led to us getting out of the woods onto a logging road in an unusual spot. We were out for about 3 hours before we went back to the cabin to meet up with Zandr and start cooking dinner.

Dinner was awesome, by the way:

Saturday morning, we decided we’d wait until Kenny arrived from Memphis before we rode. I gathered some tools and went back to the beaver dam/tree-blocked area of trail and cut a re-route from the main trail to the low side of the dam and back up to the main trail just past the fallen tree. Other than some finessing of the steep section just before the large tree (it’s too soft/steep, so in order to prevent excess erosion/blowout, the trail needs to be a more gentle bench up the side of the hill rather than a straight shot), the re-route should keep the riders and the beavers happy.

When I arrived back from my trailwork, Kenny was at the cabin, and everyone was getting antsy to ride. We decided on a lap of the yellow trail, starting with the “easy” side that climbs from the middle trailhead up to the red trail before dropping back down into the fun/rocky section. Once on the trail, everything was going well. I was leading the train as we hit the first mini-garden of rocks. I rolled though with no problem, but just on the other side, something caught my front wheel and teleported my bike off to the right, slamming me left knee first onto the ground. It hurt like a mofo, and, for a minute, I sat on the ground doing this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5reDsSIiAk (sorry, some glitch in the wordpress matrix is keeping me from posting the actual video here. It’s an all ages video, so click away)

Being chilly out, I was wearing knee warmers. I’d hit my knee hard, but, my usual M.O. is to not look under the knee warmer when I fall. However, just a few minutes up the trail, Matt stopped for a flat tire, and I noticed that there was blood coming out of the knee warmer. Uh-oh.

I decided I was going to go back to the cabin and take care of it. However, by the time I rode back 1/2 an hour and drove 15 min to the cabin, it was still bleeding, and the pain radiating out from my kneecap was ominous. I decided I’d go to WalMart in search of a walk-in clinic, or at least some butterfly strips that I could use to close it up.
I arrived at the pharmacy and, as I’d expected, there is no walk-up clinic at the Mountain View WalMart. I explained my situation to the pharmacist, and he said  that the only place I could get stitches right now would be the emergency room, but he’d be happy to take a look at it and tell me if he thought I’d need stitches. When I pulled the top of my knee warmer down (I’d changed out of cycling clothes otherwise, but the knee warmer was doing a good job of absorbing blood), the cut oozed out enough blood to make the pharmacy tech, who’d also come out from behind the counter out of morbid curiosity, gasp and say, “bless your heart!”

Pharmacist: “How long ago did this happen?”
Me: “Uh… close to 2 hours ago?”
Pharmacist: “If you want this to stop bleeding and heal up faster so you can get back to riding, you’re gonna need 4… maybe 5 stitches. Those butterfly strips aren’t gonna do too well on something that moves as much as your knee.”

Well, crap.

So, I purchased a first aid kit and some other random supplies. I made a deal with myself that if I went to the ER, and it was packed with people, I’d go back to the cabin and try to patch myself up. If it weren’t busy, I’d go in and get a professional to do so.

I walked in, and the waiting room was totally empty. The check-in lady blessed my heart at least 3 more times before they took me back to a gurney and cleaned everything up for evaluation.

A lady who was trying to pass a kidney stone came in just after me, so I think the doc looked at her first, because I was waiting in there a while. He decided on 4 stitches and an x-ray since I was getting a nice bruise and some swelling on my kneecap. Luckily, the x-ray was clear.

The nurse handed me a Tylenol-3 prescription, which I refused and told him I was going back to the cabin to sit in the recliner with an ice pack and a glass of wine. This wasn’t totally true, as when I arrived back at the cabin, I found the four guys (Ryan, Matt, Kenny, and Zandr) pacing around the kitchen like starved animals and snacking on anything that didn’t require cooking. I warmed up leftovers and made fresh cornbread before officially retiring to the recliner for the remainder of the night.

I’d hoped that by getting stitched up that I’d be able to ride a lot sooner, but it’s slowly becoming clear that the badly bruised kneecap/under kneecap area is going to cause me much more pain and suffering than a few stitches. Instead of riding with Kenny and Ryan on Sunday, I went home early with Matt and laid around watching football and periodically icing my knee. I’m bummed, and I’ve got no idea when it’s going to not hurt enough to ride again. At least the weather is crap today. I had to take Turbo to the vet to get a small mammary tumor removed & biopsied, so I’ll probably lay around in my pajamas the rest of the day and attempt to edit some GoPro footage into a cheesy montage while I wait to hear back from the doc. Here’s a picture of some cuddling dogs to pass the time…

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