brickhouseracing

September 13, 2011

Must be fall…

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 5:48 am

…since I’ve once again taken to the internet in search of funding for the next 12 months of training and racing.

Unfortunately, the #1, most awesome team that I was aiming for is not currently hiring. Though, it was incredibly nice to get a phone call and quick chat from said team about the lack of a spot for a new rider. It beats the hell out of the companies who won’t even send a “hell no” email.

Unlike seasons past, I’ve basically got the equipment side of things nailed- working at a shop, I can get stuff for about the same cost as what is generally offered to people who aren’t getting stuff for free. What I need now is what people are least likely to want to part with- cash money. Gas, hotel, entry fees, coaching, food, equipment maintenance, etc. If you race, you know it adds up fast. In my current situation, Outdoors has provided me with what they can (and I’m incredibly grateful, of course), but Ryan has generally been my biggest “sponsor” on the financial side of things.

It makes me feel like the family money pit.

So, now I’m challenged to come up with creative ways to fund this operation. If I could scare up somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 for the year, I’d be less of a money pit and more of just a shallow grave. Ridiculous, I know, but I’ve got to set a goal somewhere. The current brainstorm/hustle I’m working on is trying to think of local companies that might be willing to throw some cash into the pot in exchange for blog advertising or anything else promotional.

Open to comments from the Peanut Gallery…

September 7, 2011

SM100- After the race

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 7:51 am

Any MTB race that includes large numbers of competitors camping (and drinking) is always a party. When I last left off, I’d finished the race 8th, stayed in the NUE top 5, and was generally very happy- all while toting around a bondage barbie voodoo doll strapped to my fork.

Once I was clean, dry, and feeling a little less crampy, I went up to the pavilion to try and eat a little dinner. While I was there, I saw Dicky, who, if you remember from my last post, I was thinking had given me the gift of a blindfolded/bound doll on my bike in the middle of the previous night. I asked him about it. He said he had no idea what I was talking about. Of course, my initial reaction was to not think anything of it. He was just effing with me, right?

I mean, who else would do that?

I picked at my food for about half an hour. I felt like my neck was too tired to hold my head up, so I decided I’d go lay down in the tent for a little while to pass the time before podiums. Since the kegs were tapped and the food was hot, most people were either still racing or eating/drinking at the pavilion (read- not 100 yards away in my camping area). I laid down, and suddenly, the thought of someone other than Dicky designing and placing a bondage barbie on my bike was no longer funny.  I got up, grabbed my folding chair, and hiked back up to sit where there was people.

Fast forward a couple of hours. After having some technical difficulties and getting into a bad batch of brownies at the 5th aid station, Nate finally finished his race. We were chatting, podiums had started, and I ended up getting a bottle of champagne to spray at the crowd as a reward for being the only woman to complete all of my series races on a singlespeed. I brought up with Nate that I now was creeped out that someone other than Dickey had dolled my bike. Nate laughed and admitted to doing it. I poured the remainder of the bottle of champagne onto him.

I wasn’t up for much longer after that. Apparently, I missed one of the locals doing drunken, naked hot laps around the pavilion. Instead, I was back tossing and turning in my tent. I never sleep well after a 100, and laying in a tent only amplified the full-body soreness. Around 2am, the rain started. My tent leaked. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much.

In the morning, Nate and I had planned to meet up with some Harrisburg locals to go for a ride. However, the rain from the approaching tropical depression killed that one. I decided I’d hit the road and head South to see how far I could get before I needed to stop and get a hotel room. Since the depression essentially stretched from one end of Tennessee to the other, I ended up driving across the entire weather system. Apparently, when it’s raining, interstate driving basics like “slower traffic keep right” and “don’t run into shit” no longer apply to traffic flow.

On the west side of Nashville, the sun was peeking through the clouds, and I made the decision to push all the way home. I was rewarded for my efforts with an excellent sunset.

So… what’s next? Probably a little time off. Then, cyclocross. My fitness is better than it was this time last year, so I won’t be embarrassed to show up at the regional stuff. Ryan even has a room reserved in Louisville for Master’s Worlds in January. After that? Well, lets say that I’ve sent my hopes and dreams off via email to a dream team, and my fate now lies with someone else. I thought about it on the way home and wished that there was some sort of magical, all-knowing superpower in the sky that I could run my dreams and aspirations by before sending them to the person who actually has his hands on the keyboard to write back and let me know if I’m destined for the rockstar life or another year of hustling to get to whatever races I can.

Damn my logic.

September 6, 2011

Shenandoah 100 Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 1:54 pm

As is customary for long pre-race drives, I broke the 11 hour trip to Stokesville, VA in half to keep myself more physically and mentally prepped to race. Friday afternoon, I drove to Harriman, TN, then Saturday morning I slept in until almost 7 before starting the remaining push east and north. There must have been some sort of football thing going on in Knoxville over the weekend, because along the way, I got to meet one of the UT mascots when I stopped for breakfast near Sevierville.

(he refused to give me an autograph, though he did have a lovely singing voice)

Once I finished the drive, I set up camp and took off to pre-ride the first climb course. My legs felt fabulous.

Unlike last year, when I overslept until 6am (race start is at 6:30), this year, I was awake Sunday morning before my alarm went off. I was prepping everything in the dark, when Nate, who was camped next to me, “found” something sitting on the saddle of my bike, which had been propped up next to the car all night. It was a plastic doll who quickly because known as “Bondage Barbie,” which, because of this blog post by Dickey, made me think that he was the culprit. I decided to zip tie her to my fork, and all day, whenever people asked about it, I blamed him.

There’s more to the story, but I’ll leave that for another post since this one is already novella-length.

When I lined up at the start, I optimistically went for the 9-10 hour corral, but when I looked at the guys lined up there, realized that some people were probably much more optimistic than I was. So, in order to give myself a little more “singlespeed fall-back room” on the way to the first climb, I inched up to the back end of the 8 hour group.

The beginning of the race went much like last year- lots of geared riders going very fast, leaving all of the 32×20 SSers in a clump within the first paved mile. The first doubletrack climb went great. I felt like it was much easier than the previous year, and I was not in nearly as much granny gear traffic. I only had to make 1 smartass comment on one of the rollers at the beginning of the climb- I got a little squirrely on some gravel and grabbed a brake. A guy behind me told his teammate, who had been on my wheel to “stay out from behind the people who are grabbing their brakes on all of the descents.” I gave his teammate some more advice: “be sure you guys stay off the granny gear on the climbs.”

I digress.

The first singletrack at the top of the climb is an exercise in patience. It’s got a few rocky/steep/tech spots which are all generally ride-able by someone accustomed to rocky/steep/technical. However, if one person in the conga line walks, so does everyone else. So, until we were clear of that, there was a lot of hiking, which included a lot of yelling by the guys who felt as though their 200th place finish spot was in danger since they were unable to ride because of all of the people walking. Eventually, I made it down to Aid 1, refilled my bottles, and headed off down the road to climb #2.

If you aren’t familiar with the SM100 course, the best thing I can compare it to is Leadville – elevation + singletrack. You have big climbs that are all separated by miles of flat to gently rolling road. It’s absolute Hell for singlespeeders. It was on the flat sections between the first, second, and third climbs that I was constantly being picked off by women on geared bikes (including Laureen Coffelt, who would be looking to beat the snot out of me in order to take my spot in the overall NUE standings). I honestly think that this was the first race of this season where I could have placed higher by riding gears.

The second climb is a bitch. I’d love to go and try it alone because the steepness of its singletack put nearly all of the people around me on their feet. So, I hiked up the mountain with 100 or so of my new best friends for what seemed like an eternity (or half an hour) before speeding back down the other side, where I found Aid 2 and eventually climb #3- Hankey Mountain.

The profile of this climb happens to be right in my comfort zone for the 32×20. I hauled at least 3 women (including Laureen) in on the way to the top and never saw them again. The descent from Hankey starts out pretty sketch- to the point of where they’ve stationed medics on the first few pitches. I made it down that part and railed the remainder. I figured that since I was losing time between climbs that I’d be a tick less cautious than usual on the descents. It mostly worked out well.

Before climb #4 (Ramsey’s draft), there’s 5 miles of road. I was spinning my ass off, and was passed by many a geared rider (luckily, none of them were women).  Being the 2nd of 2 singletrack climbs, I was a little worried about being stuck in another conga line of hikers. However, this time, I started up the climb with a couple of other singlespeeders who seemed to be similar to me in gearing and ability. The geared racers we did encounter were nice enough to move if we needed to pass. It was on the back side of that climb that I had my only wreck of the day. I was hauling ass when I hit a sketchy spot where some people had already slipped off the trail bench. My front wheel momentarily caught  something and my bike started to endo. Somehow, I managed to push myself back far enough that I went behind the bike as that happened. I’m not 100% certain of the order of these events, but some where along the line, my right foot was solidly planted on the ground, the rear wheel punched me in the gut, and the forward momentum of ass-hauling yanked me to the ground onto my left elbow, which sort of hyper-extended my back. I dusted myself off, realized I wasn’t hurt too badly, and continued on.

Climb #5 is the “Death Climb.” It’s mostly gravel road (a little doubletrack jeep trail stuff at the top), and, according to the Garmin, goes from around 1600ft of elevation to about 4240ft at the top. I started to feel hot & tired about halfway up. At aid #5 (just before the remaining hardest section to the top), though, I was slightly revitalized when I realized that I’d caught another one of my competitors who had passed me earlier. Unfortunately, soon after, I started to get quad cramps whenever I’d try to hammer up something steep. I decided to try walking the steepest parts in order to delay the full-on cramps that would start if I kept up at my current pace. Lucky for me, this worked, she never caught up to me, and I was on my way back down the gnarliest of the descents and headed to the final short climb up the first part of Hankey Mountain.

Once again, no one passed me on the road. I was sad to not be able to hammer up the last climb. Mentally, I was ready to, but my quads were writhing under my skin like a dying snake. I death marched up to the top and eventually found myself dropping down into the backside of the Stokesville Campground and rounding the final corners to the finish in a time of 10 hours 40 something minutes- just barely 10 minutes faster than last year, but good enough for 8th place out of 36 female finishers (an improvement over my 11th from last year).

While this result in and of itself was not particularly awe-inspiring, it meant that I accomplished my season-long goal of finishing in the top 5 of the fiercely competitive NUE series. All races on one gear. Epic win in my book.

There’s only one direction I could possibly go from here…

September 1, 2011

Down to the wire

Filed under: Bike Racing,Product Reviews — Andrea @ 5:22 am

I know you’re all anxiously awaiting to hear about the whereabouts of my singlespeed, which, as of  Tuesday, is at Niner headquarters getting the mysterious blemish in the layup near the headtube inspected. I heard back from tech guy Brad yesterday, and they’re replacing it under warranty. So, today, I’m pulling my replacement out of the Outdoors, Inc. stock and getting my race rig set up for Shenandoah this weekend.

I’m taking this “tear down/buildup” opportunity to swap cranks. I’ll be going back to my converted truvativ NOIR crank. I’ve been running the e*thirteen singlespeed crank- sweet because of the 30mm spindle, light weight, and relatively low cost. Not sweet because I’ve killed two bottom bracket bearings on it this race season. I think that in order to make bearings that are 30mm I.D. that also fit a standard threaded BB shell, the bearings just end up being too skinny to be durable. It also tried to loosen itself twice over Fool’s Gold weekend. My final word on it- if you don’t ride in poor conditions, go for it. If you were born in a brier patch, then stick to something a bit more reliable. I have the blackbox ceramic bottom bracket on my NOIR, and it’s survived the worst conditions you could possibly throw at a bottom bracket- specifically DSG 2009 (race photos and aftermath) and Fool’s Gold 2010.

I’ll also be going from the Rotor Q-ring back to a standard round 32t. Why? Well, first off, the chainstay clearance thing bugs me (I can’t run the EBB in any position in the rear half of the EBB or else the larger part of the Q-ring contacts my chainstay). Also, I am suspicious that the rotor ring may be causing me to lose a little traction on slippery climbs since it works like a larger chainring on the more powerful “downstroke” of pedaling. Sure, I love how I can more comfortably spin a higher cadence with it, but let’s face it- at races, I spend much more time on climbs than I do trying to spin a higher cadence. I could be totally wrong, though, so I plan on giving it another shot this winter at Syllamo where the stakes aren’t quite as high.

Other, less notable changes?

I finally rebuilt the front wheel I tacoed at Eureka springs, so I’m going to set my marginally heavier SS wheelset up to race this weekend since the RDO is wearing the race wheels I built up with aerolite spokes.

I got a set of new brake pads, too.

It was a little slow going, but my legs are recovered & re-tapered from Fool’s Gold, and I had an amazing “tune-up” ride yesterday. This weekend should be exciting- I’m sitting 4th in the points standings right now, but if Potter and Barclay both show up and beat me (unfortunately, it’s not improbable), I’ll drop to 6th. It’d still be an amazing finish to the year, though, considering how badass the NUE series competitors are. Do I keep playing it safe and go for my strong, steady ride the entire 100 miles? Or do I ride outside myself and see what happens?

August 25, 2011

Frustration

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:15 am

…otherwise known as “andrea has first world problems

Fool’s Gold has left me with two lingering things- The first one is a possible crack in my frame. I was in the process of tearing my bike down to wash the abrasive/destructive Georgia mountain dirt out of it, when I found this:

It looks as if the top layer of carbon under the paint/clearcoat is trying to escape, and the headbadge is separating from that side (the bond is excellent the rest of the way around). My best guess is that the headtube lug is having issues under there. Needless to say, Niner sent me a UPS label right after I called them, and the frame is on its was to Ft. Collins, CO for evaluation. Any other time of the year, this wouldn’t really be an issue. However, I’ll be leaving for the Shenandoah 100 in a week (final race of the NUE season), and I don’t plan on running gears. Fuck.

The prospect of tearing the geared bike down to run singlespeed is looming over my head. Because of the internal cable routing, it’s not a simple “derailleur removal & go” process. It’s more of a “run cable guides through my frame and hope they stay in place while I’m racing so it doesn’t take 2 hours to re-cable it once I’m done” type process. I don’t really have the time or motivation for any of it.

The other lingering malady from racing 100 miles is just being tired. I’m exhausted.  I could be better, except that I’m on my feet fixing bikes and being a housewife from 5:30am until I sit down for dinner at around 8:30pm. I’ve studied exercise physiology enough to know that the fact that I have such a job and responsibilities is making me slower.

So, yes. I’m lucky to be able to complain about this stuff, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating to me.

 

P.S. I said this in the comments, but it’s worth adding here- Ryan puts in his fair share of work/support/etc. I couldn’t even begin to try racing/training like I do if it weren’t for him.

August 22, 2011

Fool’s Gold Race Report- Part 2

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 8:36 pm

As the neutral roll-out ended, I could see that Cheryl Sorensen and Brenda Simril were the only women ahead of me. Somewhere between the first short, steep hill and the couple of miles of downhill rollers that led to the Cooper’s Gap climb, I lost them in the crowd. According to a report from the Antique Gun Show, Cheryl stayed with the lead group and  Brenda was dropped but continued to drop the hammer with some other geared riders.

I spun steadily all the way to the base of Cooper’s Gap- 10 miles of straight-uphill awesome. The 34-21 felt easy- a good feeling to have on the first time up the first big climb of a hundie. Right on cue, I drank the last swallow out of my two bottles about a minute before I reached the first aid station. Spoiler alert- food and drink for this race were on point. I’ve figured out that if I don’t feel so full that I’m almost nauseous, that I’m not eating/drinking enough. Lucky for me, the O’Deas stocked the aid stations with Gatorade and Powerbar drink mix rather than the usual Hammer HEED.

Dear Hammer- yes, the calorie-free sweetener in HEED (Xylitol) comes from plants, which, indeed, does make it “all natural.” That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sugar alcohol, and therefore acts like a post-race roto-rooter to some people’s intestines.

Anyway…

Soon after the climb and slightly sketchy descent, I came to the first section of singletrack. I remembered from past Fool’s Gold races that it was pretty flowy, and found that the combination of improved skill and heroic amounts of trail work allowed me to fly through the trail like a giant pump track. I found myself grinning and giggling repeatedly. It seemed like I was at the next aid station in no time. After a quick refill, I started the long climb up Bull Mountain.

Two years ago, I thought I was going to die on Bull Mountain. Last year, torrential downpours kept speeds to a minimum (seeing as no one had brake pads at that point). This year, the aforementioned trail work made the descents (slightly) less sketchy. I had several butt-pucker moments, but made it around the Bull Mountain loop with all ribs intact. The remainder of the lap seemed easy. Unlike the previous years’ course, trailwork & good weather made the added single track fun instead of something to dread.

As the 2nd lap started, I was a little tired, but otherwise in good shape. As I headed up the Cooper’s Gap climb again, it was tough in a couple of spots. I passed a few people either walking or parked in their granny gear with their head down, taking comfort in the fact that once I was at the top, the most difficult climb of the race was over.

Then, it rained.

Rain at Fool’s Gold is more than a minor inconvenience. The composition of the soil on course makes something like liquid sandpaper, meaning it has the potential to destroy everything it rubs against. Luckily, I made it through the longest descents before the mud fouled my brake pads. Now, I’m just faced with tearing my bike down to the frame & fork seals to clean the glitter out. The rain didn’t slow me down much, though I did figure out rather quickly that metallic brake pads suck ass when they’re wet.

The last 1/4 of the course seemed to drag on forever (as they tend to do). I walked a couple of steep spots that I’d ridden on the first lap, but otherwise kept my wits about me, even though I was generally exhausted. One thing I’ve noticed in the 2nd half of races is that I rarely get passed… somewhat encouraging.

Once I made it off of the race loop, I knew I was going to make it back alive. Three more miles of pavement, and I was headed up the last hill to the finish. Another NUE podium spot in the books.

 

 

I’m in a weird spot right now- kind of like when I was in my last season of serious road racing. I’m fast compared to the usual local competition, but I don’t stand a chance with the pros, and I can’t decide if it’s motivating or discouraging. If I want to get a top 5 overall points finish in the NUE series, I’m going to have to race outside myself at Shenandoah in 2 weeks… the type of “all in” effort where I’ll either beat someone or nearly die trying.

P.S.- the “in my head” song for this race:

August 21, 2011

Fool’s Gold 100 Race Report- Part 1

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:57 pm

Sure, it’s been a minute since I posted last, but the taper week before a race is, well, boring. I had a “tune-up” of sorts scheduled for Wednesday, but I woke up feeling pretty off, so I called it and went for an easy ride that afternoon after work.

Everything else leading up to race time went nice & smooth- Thursday, I got a jump on the 7.5 hour trip by leaving around noon to go to Nashville, where I rode the Montgomery Bell trail and crashed at Marsha’s house (I also dropped the geared A9C off with her so she could try her 1st 29er). Friday, I arrived a little early at the Hiker Hostel (favorite race lodging ever). After settling in, I went up to Montaluce Winery (new race headquarters) to pre-ride a little of the race start and pick up my number.

Breakfast at the hostel was excellent as always.

Unlike the last two years when the race began at Camp Wahsega (located at the base of the first major climb of the race), the start this year was from a winery located about 5 miles from the race loop. The race began with a 3.5 neutral rollout- nice for the singlespeeders since the majority of that section was rolling/downhill.

Time for another beer and some dinner…

July 26, 2011

ORAMM Race(ish) Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:05 am

I arrived in Black Mountain, checked in, and immediately went out to pre-ride some of the 8 hour drive out of my legs. Since I wasn’t very familiar with the area, I went to Curtis Creek- the forest road climb where we camped last year. I’ve always felt like I could nail forest road climbs, so I was feeling confident. I rode about 4 miles up then turned around & rode down while I was still feeling like I wanted more.

After that, I stopped by registration where I found Dicky, who was laying around sunbathing while he waited for some late-arriving friends Tim and Rob. I ended up letting him use my air conditioning once he realized that they wouldn’t be around anytime soon. Later, we all had some delicious Mexican food and Tim & Rob took me to a nearby grocery store with a huge beer selection so I could stock up on some of the local stuff (though they also had Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter there- one of my all-time favorites). After getting the cooler re-arranged so that my beer wouldn’t boil all day Sunday, I headed back to the B&B and settled in to bed. I’d cranked the AC down in my room, so I prettymuch hibernated all night until my 5:30am alarm went off.

Since I was boringly well-prepped for this race, I’ll skip all the “race morning” filler about parking, port-o-potties, and drop bags and get to the important part.

I raced on my singlespeed in the open women’s category. I figured I had a good shot at placing high since I generally climb better on my SS than I do on my geared bike. Brenda Simril was there with her husband Lee, so I knew that if I were anywhere in sight of them on one of the non-singletrack sections of race course that he’d be on the big ring and pulling her away at high rates of speed. I didn’t know any of the other women on the start list, but Zeke Lilly pointed out plenty that he said I should “watch for.”

From the gun, the race goes fast. It’s generally rolling on asphalt for the first few miles, and I was left spinning in the back while the leaders hammered away. I tried to comfort myself by imagining what everyone would look like in their granny gears on the Curtis Creek climb halfway through the race. We finally hit the first climb of the day (an easy asphalt hiking/walking trail) and I settled in to a wonderful “don’t blow yourself up” rhythm.

Just about the time you’re getting tired of an easy paved climb, you reach a gate that puts you back out on the short section of road before Kitsuma- the somewhat infamous first singletrack climb of the day. It was there that I sustained my only injury of the race when a really obnoxious, thorny vine grabbed some skin off of the top of my right arm. I knew that I had a lot of ground to make up, but didn’t panic, settled down, and ate some gel.

Within minutes, I was rolling up the rooty trail that would eventually pitch upwards and start switchbacking steeply up the mountain. It’s a tough climb.

Brief Tangent- Last year, the switchbacks were pocked with rocks and roots. You not only had to navigate repeaded steep, nearly-180 deg switchbacks, you’d usually have to navigate a rock step or two as well. At some point over the winter, some trail work was done, and the ledges smoothed out. A lot of people were mad about it. I can see why. It’s not nearly as technical as it was before. If I were a local with time to figure out the lines and ride it without being in a race-induced conga-line, I’d probably enjoy the challenge it presented. On the other hand, before, you had an excuse to walk. Now, you don’t have an excuse other than a lack of general fitness rather than “I suck at switchbacks that combine a high degree of fitness and technical skill into one repetitive package.”
The descent was once equally as difficult. It had drops, steeps, random logs on the steeps, and off-camber “surprise” turns that would repeatedly pucker your butthole up into your brain. Now, it’s still steep, but the “danger factor” is somewhat removed. The turns are more banked, some of the rocks are gone, and it’s generally been smoothed into what rides like a downhill pump track. I’m not gonna even pretend as if I enjoyed the “old version” better- it’s about the most fun descent I’ve been on since the Downhill course in Winter Park last year.

Trail politics aside- like I said, Kitsuma is difficult. Pacing thrown out the window, my heart rate was pegged somewhere in the 180s as I rode/pushed for nearly 20 minutes. Eventually, I made it up and over and was back on the road trying to settle down, eat, drink, and prepare for the next similar but shorter climb up Star Gap. It was there that I started to feel the effects of being previously redlined for a moderate amount of time. Going up even the more “rideable” parts of Star Gap, I couldn’t get on top of my gear. At the top, a woman who I’d been back & forth with caught up to me and exclaimed that she was having derailleur problems. I replied back- “Yeah, me too.”

After that, the trail turns into a less steep/switchbacked overgrown closed off forest road. Being more of a “comfort zone” for me, I started getting into a rhythm on the climbs and trying to float down the descents without wrecking/dislocating a thumb like I did in the same spot last year. I made it to aid 2 at the bottom of Curtis Creek feeling a little rough, but hopeful that I’d pull some ladies back on the way up the forest road.

Unfortunately, my blow-up had taken away the nice “flying” feeling I’d had the day before. I still managed to get a nice pace going, though I was forced to walk a couple of steep spots around the halfway point. Then, it started to downpour. It felt really nice, and being cooled off a bit made my calves feel less twitchy. I was about 8 miles up and almost looking forward to the 2nd half of the race when I stood up to grind out another switchback and SNAP… I was sitting on my top tube and rolling backwards.

I broke my chain. It was an almost new chain, and as far as I could tell the night before when I was checking everything over, had nothing wrong with it. I had a chain tool, but (even though I carry it with me on 1 hr rides from my house) no chain parts to use for repair. I couldn’t shorten the chain to remove the damage, either. I was SOL. After stewing for a few minutes, I zipped my jersey up and made the “chainless coast of shame” back down to aid 2.

Game over.

In retospect, I was in bad shape at that point. Not that I wasn’t going to finish… I was just going to suffer a lot in doing so. My coach asked if I felt like I should have run a lower gear, and I told him that I don’t want a lower gear, I want stronger legs.

I hate ORAMM so much now that I’ve resolved myself to winning it if it kills me.

July 18, 2011

Eureka Springs Fat Tire Festival- Day #3

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 8:59 pm

Spoiler Alert… What will now be referred to as the “downward spiral of suck” continued on Sunday.

The Cross Country race lined up at 9am on Sunday. Despite the downer of a Saturday, I was feeling like a boss. The race started, and I was still feeling like a boss. It begins by winding through the streets and back alleys of Eureka Springs, including some awesomely steep, short climbs. In the first few miles before we hit the main trail, Rachel, one other woman (not an omnium competitor) and myself had pulled away from the pack.

Did I mention that I felt great?

The non-omnium gal dropped back on a road section just before the main trail. I stayed just a few seconds off of  Rachel’s wheel as we entered the singletrack together. Soon enough, I took the chance to pass when she bobbled a steep, slippery pitch of one of the climbs. Then, it was her turn to do the same to me. No matter what, she stayed about 15-30 seconds back from me. I hoped to rely on my innate endurance to hold her off by maintaining a steady pace.

Somewhat suddenly, my legs started to feel bad. Really bad. Like, “hey, you’re bonking, and, oh yeah…  we’re going to cramp soon.” I was trying to drink some EFS drink mix from my camelbak, but it suddenly tasted/felt like it was too strong to digest. The calories I was taking in weren’t getting to where they needed to be. At just over an hour into the race, I felt impending doom closing in on me. Then, at the next climb, I went to gun it up a steep, rocky spot, and immediately my inner quads tried to turn themselves inside out. The lockup was hard enough that I almost fell over because I nearly couldn’t get a foot out of my pedal.

So began the hour of death march to the finish.

I had to back way off of my previous “like a boss” pace. Another woman passed me. My legs were still cramping, and my stomach felt like I’d swallowed a brick. I passed through the start/finish area for the 2nd of 3 times to start the last climb on the short lap before the finish. I saw a cooler on the side of the trail. I stopped and looked inside. There were 3 water bottles, and 3.5 bottled waters. I took the half bottle and chugged it.  As the climb started,  I cramped more, walked some, but my stomach started to feel much better. I then accidentally dropped my big air/inflator on the trail. Luckily, it was near a cat 3 guy who was hopelessly stranded with a flat tire, and he brought it back to me after the race.

Eventually, I made it to the finish line in 3rd place.

The drive home was long. Six hours later, I arrived home to Ryan and Matt getting dinner ready. As I unpacked the car, I happened to notice that my bike looked funny. Thirty seconds and a 4mm allen wrench later, I realized that my seatpost had slipped down just short of 2 inches during the course of the race. Cramp city, population 2 legs.

P.S. The Jet 9 RDO has charged to my credit card. The fork will be here Friday. ORAMM is next weekend. Much more exciting than my crappy weekend in Arkansas…

Eureka Springs Fat Tire Festival- Day #2

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 5:49 am

Bike racing is a world of highs and lows.

Saturday morning, I had a kickass breakfast a the Pancake Shop and headed to Lake Leatherwood for the downhill competition. After registration, I had a couple more good practice runs. The race was supposed to start at 10:00, and I (along with the other 15 or so omnium competitors) was informed at approximately 9:15 that we could not race without a full-face helmet. That left a handful of about 10 of us frustrated and scrambling to borrow one. Luckily, one of the other women had an extra in her truck. Other competitors were told that they’d have to wait and possibly only take one run if they couldn’t work out a borrow/run/shuttle helmet situation with another competitor.

I digress…

I was having a kickass first run. The course was slippery with loose rocks, but I was keeping generally smooth and just fast enough to feel like I wasn’t about to die. Then, about 3/4 of the way down, for reasons I can’t explain, I lost it coming down a small rock drop and went ass-over-tea-kettle. I knew as I came to a stop that I was fine, but at the same time, I watched my bike sail over my head. When I picked it up, the bars were crooked. With no way to fix it, I decided I’d ride it in like that. As I started to roll, I heard a distinctive “vrrrrrrp” noise coming from my front wheel. My tire was rubbing the fork. Crap.

My run a wash with extra fall time, I rolled in and went to the race mechanic to see if we could beat out some of the warp. He wailed it on the ground a few times, tightened a few spokes, and I made it back to the parking area in time with just in time to catch the next shuttle to the top of the hill. At that point I realized that I needed a clean run on my second try in order to retain a high placing in the omnium. Brian Fawley (pro from Orbea) was racing the omnium as well, and since he was in a category with some serious downhill guys, placing well in my category would allow me to get ahead of him in omnium points.

At that point, I also psyched myself out pretty bad thinking about not wrecking.

My second run prettymuch sucked. I didn’t have that awesome “edge of control” feeling from the first run because I was all over the brakes. I didn’t wreck, but my time was 3 seconds slower than Rachel’s (the gal that was 2nd in ST the night before). Crap.

The DH race ran really late. The trials competition was supposed to be starting at 3:00, and I didn’t leave the DH area until about 2:00. There was an awards ceremony at a nearby resort, but I figured the way everything else had been going, that I’d be incredibly late to trials if I stuck around for it. Instead, I went back to the motel, changed, ate, and cooled off a little.

Trials riding is pretty damn cool. There was a Czech dude in the cat I competition that looked as if he was defying the laws of physics. All of the omnium competitors competed in the cat III (beginner) class (no split for gender). Basically, the way it goes is that you and a small group of other people are placed with a judge. One at a time, each person in the group rides through a marked course. You get a point any time you put a foot down, and, if you put both feet down or an axle of one of your wheels passes over the marked course on the ground, you automatically have 5 points, which is the lowest score possible. There are 4 courses that you complete, you do each one 3 times, and your score is cumulative.

Essentially, it’s like golf for bikes.

After we made 1 round of the 4 courses, I realized something. I was not doing so hot. My usual approach to something technical is to pedal as hard as possible and blow through it with momentum. This required finesse. It was fun, and I definitely need to ride like that more often, but I wasn’t going to improve my omnium score with my performance, and I was looking at at least 2 more hours of standing around in the afternoon heat. So, I left and went back to the hotel. The judge of my group gave me a little grief about it, but I was at about this point…

 

I cooled off, relaxed, and looked at the internet before going to the XC registration & pool party. I don’t care who calls me a quitter… I’ve probably finished more races than them with more dislocated joints.

 

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