“not a hardcore racer”

“not trying to be Lance Armstrong”

“not trying to be fast”


If you work in a bike shop, you know exactly who and what I’m talking about.


In case you’re just joining us- I work in a bike shop. I repair bikes (yes, mister “can I speak to one of the mechanics?” I am a mechanic. I don’t just come back here and rub grease on my hands to moisturize my cuticles). I also sell a lot of bikes. I like finding the right bike for the right person (no matter what the discipline, age, or ability level), because it’s very rewarding to see them have a great time with their bike.

Let me preface my next small rant with this statement: I understand that budgets exist. I don’t mind helping you work with one. I understand that what you may know you need/want and what you can afford doesn’t always jive.

Those initial quotes usually aren’t from the guy/gal that is very budget constrained. They come from the person who comes in with the misconception that the only reason I’m suggesting the $1600 mountain bike rather than the $900 bike is because I want to sell a more expensive bike… never because of the fact that the cost of the fork alone on the $1600 mountain bike would cover the difference in price between the two.
For some reason, this person is convinced that his/her wish to ride recreationally means that he/she isn’t worth spending a little more to get a better equipped bike. I try to gently educate people on why, if they can afford it, they should buy “as much bike as possible.” Trust me… no recreational, non-racing rider who is on a $4000 bike ever bombs down the trail (or road) frowning and wishing they’d spent less money. I just want to put a hand on their shoulder, look them in the eye, and say, “you’re worth it”

…but I’d probably scare people off doing that.

Just because you don’t want to race or go fast doesn’t mean that you should rule out spending some extra money (as long as it’s affordable, of course). My point is, all bikes are fun, and an expensive bike (whatever “expensive” may mean to you) definitely isn’t mandatory for a good time. However, the frame/parts that cost more, cost more for a reason. They’re lighter. They’ll last longer. They work just as well with age as when they were new. You will be happier with your bike in general for a longer period of time. Remember what I said first… I love seeing people happy with their bikes.


-This PSA is brought to you from every single person who sells bikes in all bike shops, ever.-

For Sale: Scott Voltage YZ 0.1 Edit: SOLD!

The dirt-jump experiment is over. I went to the park on it a few times, had fun half the time, and spent the other half of the time saying, “I’ve got ‘x’ race approaching, so I don’t want to do anything to hurt myself.” I can see this becoming a pattern, so I’m going to offload it before it’s not cool anymore.

Here’s a link to the bike on Scott’s website: Voltage YZ 0.1

I went with this particular bike because I was able to employee purchase it. However, based on my little bit of experience and reviews on several sites, it’s a really sweet ride if you’re looking for something on which you can haul ass & go big.

I’ve upgraded a couple of things- I swapped the ugly, cheapie open ball stock headset for a pretty Hope one, and I changed the white 28t chainwheel to a red 25t one from Flybikes (replaced the chain to a SRAM PC1 Nickel at that time, too). I also upgraded the top tube paint with a scratch. It’s the only blemish on the bike.

I’ve ridden it very little, so it’s in very new condition.

Yours for $600 (plus shipping if you aren’t local-ish)

[pictures will be up once the sun is up]

X.0 Crank Project

I’ve been through a couple of different cranks on the singlespeed-

First was an E.13 crank. It was cool since it wasn’t incredibly expensive, was lighter than other aluminum cranks, and had a super-stiff 30mm spindle. I had some issues with adjustment, though- you have to install it, test for play, then use any number of tiny plastic spacer rings to get rid of the play. Use too many, and the crank will load the bearings up when you install it. Don’t use enough, and the crank will have play in it. My issue came when the plastic spacers started to wear. The crank started to wiggle… during the Fool’s Gold 100 last year. I repeatedly stopped to re-tighten, but every time, I was having to tighten it to the point of squeezing the bearings and causing a lot of drag, eventually killing the BB bearings. This sucks ass when you’re trying to race 100 miles.

Next, I broke out my old Truvativ Noir crank. It was once a triple on the old Jet9 (my first mountain bike):

I’d converted it to a single ring and used it for a while on the One9, and it basically did fine as a singlespeed crank until Kenny and I discovered the removable spiders on most of SRAM’s new cranks.

this is where you need to start paying attention…

He bought an AKA Singlespeed crank (nice, aluminum replacement for their previous Stylo offering). It has a 104mm BCD removable spider. He took the spider off and ordered a spiderless ring from Homebrewed Components. This left Kenny with a spare SRAM 104mm BCD Spider.
Very cool, I thought. Then, I noticed the screaming deal on an X.0 2×10 crank through the SRAM employee purchase program. It has a proprietary 120mm BCD spider/chainring. I bought one with two intentions- 1)remove the chainrings/spider and have a spare for my geared bikes and 2)contact Homebrewed Components and get a spiderless chainring for the pimpass carbon X.0 crank. Homebrewed Components is a one-man operation that gets a lot of business, so orders tend to take a while. I don’t mind, but I am impatient.

Then, Kenny gave me his 104mm spider. This meant that I could use whatever singlespeed chainring I wanted while waiting for the spiderless ring to manifest itself. Turns out, the carbon X.0 crankarm is a lot fatter than an AKA crankarm. The “key” pattern of the spider was correct, but the shape of the rest of the spider prevented it from seating properly on the arm.

Enter the bench grinder.

I ground off a good deal of the spider, but was having trouble getting it totally flush on the crank arm. I went to Lowe’s for some Dremel grinders, and when I arrived back, Kenny had gone medieval on the spider with the bench grinder. Eleven¬† grams of removed aluminum later, it fit. BAM!


While I was in the weight weenie mood, I went ahead & ground off the granny gear nubs on the backside of the spider:



Mounted to the crank:




What did I achieve other than good looks? The total weight savings is about 50 grams over the Noir crank (plus a bit more when I get the spiderless ring). Not a ton, but the custom “badass” factor is reason enough to rock this one for a while.

Closing In

The turn of the new year marks two weeks out from what could be the biggest small race I’ve ever been to. Worlds, small?¬† Well, yeah… apparently only 5 women in the world aged 30-34 really want to try and win a world championship. This means two things to me- 1) I’ll be in familiar territory as far as “small group” racing style, and 2) It’s time to up my game. Since if you’re my age and reasonably fast, you’re racing in the elite ranks.

Small field aside, the taper begins this week, and I’m ready to race as if my life depends on it. Thursday morning, my power numbers were stout. The cycle of insane efforts on the bike followed by laying around doing not much of anything are paying off, and I’m excited to see what happens once I’m all the way rested.
I also started taking a B12 supplement. I’m skeptical about supplements, but B12 isn’t very expensive, and, as a water soluble vitamin, if I were to overdose (very unlikely given the small amount actually absorbed by the body when consumed orally), the excess is excreted in the urine. So far, the only difference I’ve noticed is that I’ve felt “good” at times of the day when I’d normally feel tired. The nice power numbers? I still mainly attribute those to hard work and rest. The B12 doesn’t hurt, though.

Neither do the beets.

Along with the hard work and rest, I’ve also avoided alcohol since Christmas. The avoidance of empty alcohol calories leaves the door open for consumption of holiday snacks with less guilt. It also means that I’ll have some catching up to do after Worlds. Lucky for me, we have some customers who know how to leave a beer tip:



Product Review: ProGold Stuff

If you’ve been reading much at all since October, you may have noticed an occasional mention of Bruce Dickman. He’s a rep for ProGold, and, way back at Crush and Run, he gave me an armload of their products to try out. Somewhat to his chagrin, I haven’t made mention of the stuff on my blog since then, and I haven’t brought in much extra stock to my shop, either.

Why not? Was it not awesome?

Well, rather than writing a glowing review the 2nd time I applied Xtreme Lube to my chain, I wanted to give it time to piss me off by not working. Good news is, since October, I’ve been using the lube (though I’ve always been a fan of their Prolink), Bike Wash, EPX Grease, and Pro Towels both in the shop and at home, and it all works great.

The Bike Wash (also known as “Dick Wash” since Dickman loves it so much)¬†deserves special mention since, if sprayed on to a dingy frame and left for 5 or 6 minutes, will make your bike clean just with a rinse from the hose (no scrubbing required). If you’re washing a few bikes in series as I often do when we get home from cyclocross races, it means that you can line them up, spray the chunks of mud off, spray each one with Bike Wash, then go back through with the hose and have 3 sparkling bikes with no sponges or brushes. The Pro Towels are equally as convenient for indoor cleaning- even on the white parts of my matte finish CX bike. They’re also very good for getting your hands clean, and don’t dry them out nearly as much as the gritty orange stuff. My only complaint? They can screw up your nail polish.

Not sure why the product testers never noticed that…

The EPX Grease (also known as “Dick Grease”, for obvious reasons) took a little warming up to. Not because I found the consistency or performance to be off, but because the smell reminded me of the odor put off by a 5 gallon bucket of tractor axle grease. After complaining to Bruce about it a few times, I decided that it at least deserved a try, and I put it into a couple of pairs of brand new Crank Brothers pedals (which, apparently, are now manufactured with fairy dust instead of grease. That’s a whole ‘nother review though). The consistency of it is nice- thicker than Park grease but not as sticky as Triflow grease. I’ve since switched both the house and the shop over to it. Now, if they could just get it to smell like Phil Wood, it’d be perfect.

So, ProGold products get my blessing. Try for yourself.


December 25th

This post is a little backwards, so if you want a look into the December 24th debauchery, skip this sentimental stuff and go straight down to where you see the alien holding a glass of wine.

Since I don’t personally know anyone who was born on December 25th, I typically take the day to either ride my bike on reduced-traffic roads and/or visit with family. Today I drove down to Drew, Mississippi, where my grandmother (on my Mom’s side) lives. We eat large quantities of various casseroles, then everyone rolls around on the furniture like colicky horses and “visits” for a while before dispersing.

Granny, Aunt Scarlett, and Mom (front to back)…

Several cousins (l-r) Brad, Brittany, Aunt Georgia, Brad’s Wife, Brent, and his wife (the hair in the foreground):

We agreed that Brent (who works as a crop duster pilot) and I used to be “the bad ones,” but now, his kid has taken over that role. Probably so, considering I thought she was cute, and I normally have a strong dislike of anyone under the age of 20.
Uncle Johnny and the “new” bad one along with Uncle Pete and my dad…

And yes, hate on it all you want… Those ARE house shoes, and exactly zero f***s were given.

My family is great, though often times when I visit, I feel like Roger from American Dad.

Yesterday, the foldies (nickname for any non-bike shop employee) celebrated making it though nearly 1 month of being really busy (good thing they don’t work in the bike shop, where we’re generally slammed from the first day of spring until the first time the temperature drops under 50). Everyone in the store gets to let their proverbial hair down a little, have a catered lunch sandwich, and drink a beer or two. This year, Matt Robbins put his PT training to the test in checking out all of Boyd’s vertebrae injuries:

After that, the atmosphere was electric. Like a tazer.

When I left work, Matt and I took off for a little night ride. He rode Death Bike 3000 for the first time… it basically did OK, unless he had to pedal harder than 300 watts:

I guess he still has a little work to do on that one.

Basically, a good two days of laying off a little and pretending like I’m a “normal” person instead of someone who is systematically repeating a cycle of destroying herself with intervals and recovering just enough to rinse and repeat. Tonight, whiskey. Tuesday, back to work.

CX Tire Swap

I’m currently in search of UCI-legal (33mm wide or less) CX tires that will set up tubeless on either my Dura Ace or Stan’s Alpha 240 wheels. I currently use Hutchinson Bulldogs, but they’re too wide to take to Master’s Worlds in January. I’ve tried both the Ritchey Speedmax and the Kenda Kommando- neither of which would hold air.

So, instead of going through the expensive process of purchasing and trying tires that may or may not work, I was hoping that some of you, my new/loyal readers, would have some tires you’d be willing to trade for a set of new Speedmax or very lightly used Kenda Small Block 8 tires. I have a bunch of other random tires around the garage as well- I’ll just have to dig around and make a list.

What I’m looking for is anything 33mm wide or smaller that doesn’t appear on the “never works” section of THIS article from CX Magazine. Lightly used is fine (lightly being the operative word here). I’ll pay to ship tires to you, you pay to ship tires to me, and we both save on getting to try out new cross tires without the expense of actually purchasing new cross tires.

If you’re interested, email me- andrea @ brickhouseracing.com or comment below.

Another Sunday

…another long ride. This time, Kenny (co-worker extraordinaire) joined me for 5 hours of (kinda) easy riding. I picked a route that hit most of the gravel roads in northeast Shelby and west Fayette counties. Kenny rode his singlespeed MTB (34×11?12?) with road tires. The roads and the weather were stunning…

In other shop-related goings-on, watch out for those random “JRA” wheel taco-ing:

Also, Indy and Marley are best buddies:

Now with Smoother, Younger-Looking Skin…


This post really doesn’t have anything to do with skin improvements, but that phrase has been stuck in my head ever since I decided it’s time to moisturize on a daily basis.

Unlike last year, when I took a good chunk of time off following the NUE finale, I really only laid low for a couple of weeks after Shenandoah. I’m not complaining- I don’t like the “starting from scratch” feeling that it gave me, though it was a really good way to begin laying the bricks that became the foundation for the fitness I’ve been adding to since then.

The last few weeks, I’ve been getting back on the CX bike, though, as I mentioned before, I’m not racing the first CX race of the season. Instead, will be heading to Nashvegas for Crush and Run. The handlebar mount dork-pack is in full effect. Maybe next year at this time, I’ll be at Pisgah with the Cool Kids.

Speaking of next year… the sponsor hunt is still on. I’m still working a few things, but so far, the lack of responses is putting chips in my motivation. I need someone to work for other than myself.

Also, here’s a cool bike that came by the shop a while back…


Yesterday was pretty boss. I kicked things off with the Trinity Group ride. One of Ryan’s Marx & Bensdorf teammates was getting married in NOLA, so a lot of the M-B guys were out of town (congrats to Will & Kelly- sorry we couldn’t make it!) It gave me a chance to occasionally drive some of the pace of the ride, which resulted in a big split in the group somewhere around the west side of Arlington. Boom.

After the ride, Ryan and I had some delicious Mellow Mushroom pizza, did a little shopping, then came home to relax around the house. I worked a little on my road bike to prep it for Crush & Run next weekend. It also needed a little bottom bracket love to get rid of an obnoxious creak.

Later on that evening, I found out that this guy had won a local 24 hour road ride fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital:

That’s Jim. He rode 308 miles from 6pm Friday until 6pm Saturday. He’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but his sweat is weapons-grade corrosive. I know this because I overhauled his bike on Thursday. Any mechanic worth his/her salt will tell you that when you do major pre-event work on someone’s bike just before they have a major success, it makes you feel warm & fuzzy inside.

You know what else makes you feel warm & fuzzy? Homemade risotto. My first attempt at making the rice dish that Gordon Ramsey has made infamous on Hell’s Kitchen was wildly successful (I used Alton Brown’s recipe from Foodtv.com)

Today was a shake-down ride for the setup I’ll be using for Crush & Run. Fashion conscious individuals beware- it includes a handlebar map holder and MTB pedals. Other than a nagging 15mph wind, it was great. I rode through the woods in Germantown to test out my hardshell tires. Everything seems spot-on.

Then, I came home and saw this awesome article on MTBR: Female Bike Mechanics on the Rise in NYC
I can definitely relate to the part about answering the shop phone and having the caller ask to speak to a mechanic. There’s also a customer who comes in and “secretly” requests that one of the guys works on his bike instead of me. Newsflash, hon… we’re all friends. It’s not a secret that you’re a sexist D-bag. It’s all good, though- 99% of the customers who come through the shop are just happy to get their bike fixed, no matter what the chromosomal makeup of the mechanic.