January 27, 2014

“Firsts of 2014″ Week

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 8:38 am

Last week was a solid week of firsts of the new year…

-First “jersey and shorts only” ride in the 62 and sunny on Monday (followed closely by…)

-First cold-weather trainer intervals of 2014 on Wednesday

-First weekend of riding trails with intermittent freeze-thaw slimed-over corners (not sure if I was any better at it by the end of the weekend, but at least I got some practice!)

-First 15 hour training week of training of 2014

-First cute button-down shirt that wouldn’t fit because of the muscles I’ve grown in the last 2 months (I was equally stoked and disappointed- it was a white shirt covered in -OMG!- little hot pink bicycles)

-First nosebleed…


(sustained via an inadvertent bonk during practice… not a nose ring-related incident as someone on FB suggested. It hurt a lot less than the time I face-planted into a tree)

-First of several physical therapy sessions to continue the search for a diagnosis of the sciatic nerve issues that are causing toe and leg pain during long rides. As I mentioned before, last week’s MRI showed no disc herniation (though it did reveal a degenerating L5/S1 disc, unrelated to the sciatic issues).
I went to a PT this week to treat a possible entrapment of the nerve within my hamstring. He found some of what he called “muscle banding” at the origin of the pain in my leg, and, before he attempts dry needling to release it, he wants me to try nerve gliding… essentially “flossing” the nerve through the muscle to break up anything that’s preventing the nerve from moving smoothly though the muscle while I ride. He said that if that’s part of what’s causing my issues that the nerve glide exercise could make it feel worse… which it did, so I’m hopeful that we’re narrowing it down.

Along with this somewhat-entertaining list, I also finalized my order of a custom ti hardtail frame from Cysco, ordered a drivetrain for it, and made plans for a little parts swapping between my full suspension and my Air9 Carbon Singlespeed that will eventually net in two complete bikes for sale (the Air9 RDO as it sits as well as the Singlespeed with various parts from the FS that I’m replacing to lighten it up a bit).


That won’t happen until the Cysco is on its way here, though. If you’re looking for a medium Air9 RDO race-ready hardtail or a small, similarly pimped-out singlespeed, then keep an eye out here in the upcoming months.

This week is a little more of the same- it’s stupid-cold again to start the week, so I’m sure I’ll get more time on the trainer. Hopefully the weather holds out for the upcoming IMBA weekend at Syllamo.

January 20, 2014

Short Break from the Ordinary

Filed under: Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 10:33 am

My weekend activities outside of training were slightly more interesting than the usual “sit on the couch and recover” experience. Thursday at MMA class, the other girl that trains there asked if I was going to go to the V3 fights downtown on Saturday night. I wasn’t sure, because, honestly, I’m somewhat of a homebody, and being downtown for any other reason outside of a scenic bike ride is way off my radar for a multitude of reasons.

However, I later saw that the son of a close friend of mine who died unexpectedly back in the Spring of 2011, posted on Facebook that he’d be back in town (he lives in Florida now) to fight. I’ve known him since he was kind of a troubled teen, so it’s hard to express how proud I am to see him doing well for himself now with everything that he’s been through. I definitely wanted to go watch, and, in talking to Matt, found out that one of his co-workers could procure a couple of free tickets for excellent seats.

I couldn’t find any MMA-oriented people who could go, so I took Ryan along. Speaking of…

He dumped a bucket of sanitizer (from his homebrewing stuff) down Matt’s toilet earlier that afternoon. In the sanitizer was an airlock from a carboy… complete with rubber stopper (not pictured).


When Matt returned home that afternoon, Ryan let him know what happened, but that despite the loss of the airlock, it “flushed fine.” However, Matt decided to further investigate by throwing a wad of toilet paper into the tank and flushing, which resulted in a near-overflow of the bowl. With some advice from a plumber friend of ours, they removed the toilet and retrieved the stuck airlock.



After that “excitement,” we headed downtown. I enjoy watching MMA on TV, but seeing it live is incredibly fun. I can’t deny getting a little misty-eyed when I saw Tony get in the ring…


Sunday was back to business as usual. I went on a MTB ride with Matt. Our original plan was to ride to the Stanky Creek trail and back, but, once we got there, the “winter shape” (lots of leaves hiding roots and greasy mud everywhere) of the trails turned out to be less than fun, so we poked around a little then headed back to finish the ride up on the Wolf River Trails (which are in excellent shape right now). It was pretty laid back since I’d beaten myself up in the comically blustery wind the day before (it was slightly unpredictable in direction and 25-30+ mph with occasional gusts).

I made it back in time to eat, grocery shop, then sit in the new couch/recliner with a mug of beer and watch football. Turbo took her last nap on the old couch, which was picked up by one of Matt’s friends as a donation to a church.


She’ll now have to resort back to curling up in a ball on her dog bed.


January 7, 2014

A good weekend and a new plan

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 11:32 am

Now that I wrote a post saying that my legs are total junk, I had a couple of rides over the weekend that proved that maybe they’re only about 75% junk. Saturday, I headed out for some base miles- a relatively short ride of just under 3 hours, but I was successful in maintaining a steady wattage throughout the miles. My route started by tracking north with a sweet 15-20mph tailwind from the south, then looped back to face it down most of the way back. Some people might consider that torture, but I can’t help but get excited as I make the turn from north to east and pick up a nice “lean into it” crosswind for a few miles before turning straight south. Matt went with me and wasn’t quite as enthusiastic.

Sunday, we’d originally planned on trainer rides since a steady, all-day, rain-turning-to-ice was predicted to arrive somewhere around 4am. However, I awoke to find that the first batch of rain had missed us. So, I woke up Ryan and Matt and we hustled out to the trail to get in as much time as possible before the rain set in for the day. It was barely starting to sprinkle when we left the house, and we made it almost an hour into our ride before the bottom fell out. Luckily, at that point, we were able to bail off of the trail and hit the Memphis Greenline to get home. Matt was feeling frisky and went to plaid on the unfinished gravel section, which I think might have been a slight punishment for the previous day’s wind shenanigans.



Changing gears a little… in “2014 Race Season” news, I’ve shifted my focus for race choices in May. My original intention was to go back to Trans-Sylvania to improve upon my finish from last year…a lofty goal, because last year, it was an outright perfect combination of both my best fitness and several strokes of luck that resulted in one stage win, the Overall Enduro win, and a 5th place spot in the Overall General Classification. Looking back, that was, both physically and mentally, the hardest race I’ve ever done.

This year, as I mentioned a few posts ago, Gu Energy is, once again, being a kickass sponsor. They’re supporting the 2014 edition of the  Dirty Kanzaa 200 race, and, rather than going back to TSE, I’ll take on DK200 as my next big challenge. It’s not only going to be a huge undertaking on its own, but it will also serve as a springboard to training for what stands to be another “hardest race ever,” the Vapor Trail 125. I know in the past I’ve sworn off 100 mile races, but these are more of the “epic” variety with a healthier dose of attrition mixed in to make them more exciting.

Admittedly, I’m becoming somewhat of a junkie for seeking out the next most “impossible” thing.

December 5, 2013

More Thanksgiving at Syllamo

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 9:10 am

With Ryan out of town at his Brother’s house for Thanksgiving, I wanted to hang around at the cabin for the rest of the weekend. Matt drove over to join me Friday morning. To pass the time before his arrival, I said my goodbyes to the relatives and headed out for a few more hours of trailwork. I’d asked around about the section of the Blue trail on the other side of Green Mtn road from where I’d been working, and no one seemed to know if it were in good shape or not. I knew at least one part of it had the cedar groves clearcut off of it, so it was possible that the trail through what was now a grave yard of cedar mulch and partially ground up cedar logs would be non-existent, much like the section of orange trail that received the same treatment.

Thankfully, it was mostly intact and follow-able. Also thankfully, someone had cut most of that section of trail with a line trimmer of some sort (amazing, because it’s several miles long). I hiked and chopped a few greenbriar patches that’d been missed, but generally didn’t have much work to do, and ended up walking back to the truck on Green Mtn road instead of the trail.

I arrived back at the cabin when Matt was still unloading the car. We ate leftover turkey sandwiches and went out for a ride on the orange trail. Oof… If your first ride back from a week off the bike is singlespeeding up the climbs and rocks at Syllamo, it’s gonna hurt a little. We generally took it easy, though, and stopped to pay a visit to Mariah Haney off of Old Hwy 5…


My rock mojo was definitely off it’s game. Matt, who was riding rigid, felt the same way, though it didn’t stop him from doing his usual thing…

Since I’m not really “training” right now, we decided Saturday morning to go to downtown Mountain View for breakfast and Small Business Saturday shopping, then ride just after lunchtime. I bought a leather cowboy hat, and Matt did his usual thing (again)…


That afternoon, we rode a lap of the Blue Trail, because I wanted to enjoy all the chopping and cutting I’d done the days before. Just a couple of miles from the car, a black lab came bounding out of the woods and joined us. He was sleek but still dopey, and seemed to be having a great time just hanging out in the woods doing dog stuff. We were then faced with a dilemma- we’d parked at the Highway 5 trailhead, which sits (as the name suggests) right off of Hwy 5. People drive like maniacs down that stretch of road, and the dog, who I’d immediately started calling “Buddy,” was wandering around the parking lot looking like he’d dart across the road at any time. So, we decided to try and find his owners by loading him up and taking him up Green Mountain Road, where there was at least one residence in addition to a large deer camp. Buddy knew the command “load up” and thoroughly enjoyed the trip…


We first talked to John, the guy who lives almost at the bottom of Green Mountain road. It wasn’t his dog, but he graciously offered to take the dog and call around/place an ad in the paper once we’d confirmed that it didn’t belong to the deer hunters up the hill. As we were headed that way, a truckload of them was coming down the mountain, and, while they did confirm that Buddy was a “mighty fine looking dog,” it was not a dog that belonged to anyone up there. We turned back and dropped him off at John’s place, where he immediately started playing and wrestling around with John’s dog.

We’d later find out from the guys who were out riding earlier, that the dog had run with them for 16 miles, and that the owner had approached them at their camp early that evening (probably about the time we were dropping him off) asking if they’d seen him. The next day, she’d left a note at their camp that she’d found him, but didn’t say where. The dog’s name? Wait for it…..


That night, we went to Tommy’s Famous Pizza. Definitely the best restaurant in Mountain View.

Sunday morning, we were going to avoid some of the trail leafy-ness by riding a little gravel out of Blanchard Springs. However, we got distracted by an old forest road, and started riding/hike-a-biking to see where it went (see note on the log in the bottom right corner).


It took us to Highway 14, so we rode the pavement back into the park and explored some other roads/closed roads/former homesteads in the area. It ended up being a pretty laid back day, and, after a couple of hours, we returned to the cabin to do the laundry list of Gerald’s Cabin Chores before making the drive back to Memphis.


Probably one of the more laid back weekends at Syllamo I’ve ever done. Though, it was highly enjoyable to lose the seriousness for a second and check out what else is around other than just the usual trails. I’m hoping for more of the same when Ryan and I go back weekend after this one (which is, coincidentally, the weekend we were going to go to Chattanooga for the TN State Championship CX Race). This break is taking knocking the edge off of my usual stress level, which is much more fun than vying for a state championship.

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).


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):


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:


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



…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.


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.


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.


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:



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.


(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.


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.




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.


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


…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…




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.




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).


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.


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.



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…


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:


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:



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…





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:


And meeting up with the Ladies Only ride last weekend:




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:



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


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


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.


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