brickhouseracing

October 21, 2011

Cyclocrunk #2

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 8:51 pm

Once again, no women showed for Cyclocrunk. Also, once again, the wild and varied crowd that once was the Cyclocrunk “peloton” did not show, either. However, unlike past Cyclocrunks, Gerry Pflug was there. He was in town for his “real job,” and he contacted me via Facebook about going for a ride Wednesday afternoon. I figured a nighttime, sketchy-ass cross race would be perfect.

Side note: Gerry Pflug is sincerely nice. Though, after hanging out with him for an evening, you get a feeling that he is fully aware of his level of ability to kill/destroy.

Once again, the race was somewhat un-eventful for me. I passed some guys. A few of them tried to pass me back, but were unsuccessful. I felt slightly better than the previous Crunk, though I’m not sure if it’s fitness, better pacing, or a combination of both. I’m hoping that this weekend I’ll find some better competition in Little Rock.

Speaking of Little Rock, I’ll be on a new bike. The replacement for my slightly too small BH Carbon Cross is a slightly too big Scott Addict CX. I wanted it a little on the larger side because of the taller headtube. Photos will be posted once it’s finished (it came with Ultegra, and I’m waiting on some SRAM Red parts to arrive for a little upgrade). Current weight sits at 16.8 pounds.

And, for totally random badass-ness, check out Zoe, who kills small animals with her bare hands: PowSlayer

Enjoy.

October 16, 2011

6 Hours of Herb

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 7:49 am

Seeing as I began this year’s endurance racing season with a 6 hour race (Spa City), I think it’s only fitting that I finish in the same manner. The timing of lap races is always important- this year, all laps had to begin by 6 hours and end by 6:30. I wanted 9 laps, and knew that if I could make 8 by 5:45, I could just squeeze the last one in before the cutoff.

Conditions for this year’s race couldn’t have been better- mild temps, and it rained Wednesday night, which provided just enough moisture to keep the dust down and make the turns fast. The race began with a Le Mans start. A lot of people hate them, but I’ve generally got them figured out. I landed exactly where I needed to be- just behind the hammerheads, and just in front of everyone else (including all of the other women). My first lap felt great, albeit, with the adrenaline of the start, was a little faster than I’d planned- just under 42 minutes. Kenny caught up to me along the way and stuck around until I told him I’d be running the narrow, wobbly bridge.

Side note- Yes, I’m perfectly capable of riding the bridge, and I have ridden it as many times as I’ve run it. However, I’ve got a thing about riding my bike and heights. The bridge is about 3 bike-lengths long, 8 feet off the ground, and supported in the middle by large timbers that stick out several feet on each side. It looks like broken ribs waiting to happen. If I ride it, it’s slow and stresses me out. If I dismount and run it cyclocross-style, it’s the same speed and doesn’t stress me out.

Somewhere around laps 2 & 3, my legs felt a little tired from the fast start. I pulled myself together and made a conscious effort to flow the trail to preserve energy. I started to feel better and gradually increased my pace back to “normal.” At the end of lap 4, I had to stop at the pit to swap camelbacks. Even though it was quick, the combination of my slow lap and a pause gave Pam and Lucia (women’s relay team) the chance to catch up to me.  I started lap 5 on Lucia’s wheel and managed to pass her early in the lap. I used them as motivation to stay on the gas for the remainder of the race.

When I rolled in at the end of lap 7, time on the clock was 5:05. I wasn’t going to make it back in time to start a 9th. Maybe that was a good thing, because as I started lap 8, I ran out of water in my camelback. I didn’t feel like carrying an empty pack around, so I winged it into the trees right next to the road. The lack of food and water on the last lap made me a little slower, but I held it together and made it around to finish my 8th lap at 5 hours and 48 minutes.

My finish was good enough for the overall women’s 1st place. Lap #1 was the fastest lap for the women, and, even though it wasn’t announced, I would have placed 2nd in the singlespeed division behind coworker Kenny, who’d successfully completed 9 laps in just under the 6:30 time limit. What a way to finish a season, right?

October 12, 2011

Crunk #1

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 9:24 pm

It rained

 

(iphone screenshot courtesy of Matt Joiner)

So, like Cyclocrunks of past lore, the course was muddy and occasionally treacherous. Unlike past Cyclocrunks, I did NOT re-injure the hip adductor that I tore at Fool’s Gold more than 2 years ago. Looks like that whole “training and conditioning” stuff pays off…

As I mentioned before, the race now has USA Cycling sanctioning, so the crowd was bound to be thin. With the rain, it was whittled down to around 20 people. The course was normal cyclocrunk- dark with lots of oversized barriers. I saw another woman before the race, but I don’t know if she actually participated, because she looked really clean when I saw her as we were leaving.

Nevertheless, when the race started, I quickly wound myself up to a near-eyeball-bleeding pace (I held back a tiny bit since the main goal of the night was to NOT hurt myself). I passed a few people during the first 20 minutes. However, after that, my legs started to fail considerably. I slowed for a lap, then built the pace back up for the last couple of laps.

Overall, a success in how wonderfully un-eventful it was.

Hopefully, by the end of the series, I’ll be hanging at least near the tail end of the “fast guys.” However, the goal is still to build for Worlds in January…

October 11, 2011

(off) The Road to Cyclocross Worlds

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 5:53 am

With the exception of one last 6hr endurance race this weekend at Herb Parson’s Lake, the theme of the next few months of training is cyclocross. Since they’re in Louisville, KY this season, Ryan and I are competing in the Cyclocross Master’s Worlds race. In a big contradiction to the views I’ve expressed in the past about age-grouped competition, I will be trying to dominate all women between the ages of 30 and 39.

Tomorrow night is the first of three Cyclocrunk training races. In the past, it’s been an insane mix of riders- young, old, fast, slow, etc. Everyone paid their $7 to enter, and the entry fees were put towards a bar tab that was opened after the 3rd race of the series. Each race had 50-70 people entered last year.  This year, as a USA Cycling-sanctioned race, the one-day license requirement, along with the price increase ($15 per race) will likely change the tone of the event. The best way to train for cross is to race cross, so I’ll be there regardless of the presence or absence of a party atmosphere.

I was previously conflicted about cross racing the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd- there are races in both Nashville and Little Rock. Little Rock is closer, but, as a newer “scene,” the races will likely be less attended and possibly less organized than the more established ones in Nashville. However, last night I saw the flyers for the Arkansas races (available on the Arkansas Cyclocross website). They’re paying the cat 1/2/3 women equally to the men for the top 3 spots. The payout for the Nashville races is arbitrarily lower for the women than for the men. I’m not in it for the money (if I win, the money might cover my hotel stay), but I support the cause of equality every time and will any time there’s a schedule conflict.

In the big picture, I’m hoping that racing cross this winter will bring me in to next season with more top-end than I had last year, and, as a result, have an even more successful endurance season. That’s the plan, at least. I’m still on the hunt for sponsors, and I’ve found that it was easier to get “here’s a discount on our product” sponsors when you’re just getting started than when you seem like you might be fast enough to warrant a little gear thrown down for free. Still waiting, still hustling.

October 5, 2011

Crush and Run Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 1:27 pm

Yes, finally. I’ll admit- the last post was a little bit of a cop-out. I started my race report then realized that I could either write the whole thing or tie up what I had so far and actually eat breakfast and get to work on time.

SO…

Saturday morning was chilly- somewhere in the 40′s. In line with that, the IHOP near Marsha’s house had their heat turned up to about 80, which is nice for the first 5 minutes. After a cheese omelet and a few cups of coffee, I was back in the car and on the road to Gladeville.

The remainder of pre-race time went as expected, and I was at the start area about 20 minutes ahead of time, which gave me a few minutes to mill around, socialize, and get my usual nervous yawns. About a minute before we took off, someone passed around a folder with 50-mile cue sheets inside, and I had just enough time to fold and cram mine into my dorky (yet incredibly useful) map case just as the neutral rollout started (instructions for the 2nd 50 miles were to be handed out after the completion of the first 50).

The rollout lasted for the first couple of miles before we made the left turn on to cedar forest road… which is the “road” pictured in the “weekend preview” photos I posted earlier. It’s actually not a bad gravel road, it was just blocked on that end with large boulders that required the one and only dismount of the race. Once I was back on my bike, I found myself on the tail end of the lead group of men. The road gradually rolled upwards, and they were on the gas big time. I was hoping that they’d eventually settle into a more sustainable pace, but after about 10 minutes, I decided to back off and preserve my legs for the next 90 miles. I eventually joined a group that consisted of several men and a couple of other women- including the gal who’d said she was racing the 100, but then dropped to the 50.

P.S. She was strong. That would have been a damn battle if she’d been able to do 100.

A lot of people have problems reading a cue sheet. A lot of people also have problems with flat tires.  Thankfully, I did not have problems with either one, but those two things quickly whittled my group down to 4 of us- two men, the formerly-100mile chick, and myself. We set a nice pace, pushing a bit on the hills and sharing the work on the flats. The men got antsy any time one of us would throw a little jab at the other on a hill or into a headwind.

The course was absolutely gorgeous. A lot of the terrain was negotiated on either gravel or rolling, single-lane farm roads. We found ourselves oo-ing and ahh-ing like tourists. The only hiccup in the first 50 miles was one missed turn at an intersection with no road signs. Unfortunately, it allowed a group of about 10 riders (including a 2 or 3 more women) to catch back up to us, causing the “sketch factor” of the paceline to increase exponentially. With just under a mile ’til the finish (everyone in the group except for me was just doing the 50), a tractor pulled out in front of us. I had a flashback to my very first road race (Lascassas- near Murfreesboro) where the same thing happened. Back then, I was stunned and expected everyone to slow down and wait for it to move out of the way. Instead, half the field attacked, which dropped me like a clingy drunk chick.

I was near the front of the pack and could see that there was no oncoming traffic. So, I attacked the bejesus out of that tractor. It was a revenge attack for making me get dropped that other time, so it was extra angry, and didn’t stop until I’d hammered my way over the 840 overpass into a driving headwind. The peloton was shattered. A few people bridged to me, and the woman who made it ended up sprinting off when we were near the finish. I didn’t care since my race was far from over, and I was very content with just causing mayhem and destruction at the hands of an ill-timed tractor.

I rolled in to the start/finish. Dan asked, “how’d you like the course?” To which I replied, “It’s f*cking awesome!”

“Great! Now go do it again!”

I was stoked. After a break at the car to drop some clothes off, drink a ginger ale, and eat a snack, I rolled back out for lap 2. The wind had really picked up, and it somehow managed to be a tailwind for much of the second lap. My legs still felt great, and I was happy to have a bit more of a chance to enjoy the scenery on my own for 50 more miles instead of being distracted with things like “not running in to other people”. I probably smiled most of the time, and rolled in with a total time of 6:30- placing me in the middle of the 6 others that completed the 100 (all men).

While I was in post-race relax/eat pizza mode, this guy finished the 50:

 

All in all, a totally kickass experience. Everyone had a great time, and it raised a nice chunk of money for the charity Ride for Reading. I’m looking forward to what Dan has in store for next year since he’s vowed to make the 100 even more challenging.

October 4, 2011

Crush and Run: Pre-Race

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 8:37 am

I made it to Nashville Friday evening in just enough time to have dinner and a margarita with Marsha and Bruce Dickman before heading over to the Nashville Bicycle Lounge for the pre-race meeting. When I arrived, the mix of cyclists there was fabulous- both road and MTB friends as well as a plethora of people I’d never met, but were all very friendly. As I chatted my way up to the front of the store, someone asked me, “Have you met Dan (race director and owner of the Bicycle Lounge) yet? You guys would get along great.” However, it wasn’t a cheery, “oh yeah, everyone loves Dan” sort of “you guys would get along great,”  it was more of a “you guys are both not normal” sort of “you guys would get along great”. More on that in another post.

The location of the start of the race was previously secret, and it was soon revealed by Dan that we’d be leaving from Ziggy’s Pizzeria in Gladeville, TN, and that cue sheets for a 50 mile loop would be given out a few minutes before the start. For those of us wanting to race the 100, we’d get further instruction after completing the first 50 miles. I met another woman who said she was going to race in my category, and was happy to have some competition.

Other than cluing us in on the start location, the only thing we knew about the course is that there was some gravel and at least one large hill smack in the middle (a picture of the elevation profile was “leaked” and circulated around the crowd). I did get to meet Dan, and yes, we did hit it it off fabulously, and yes, it’s probably because we’re both weird. STFU and GTFO. We chatted for a while, I picked up a box of Pro Gold stuff from Bruce to try out in the shop/at home, and headed back to Marsha’s to look at a map and see WhereTF Gladeville was…

October 2, 2011

Nashville Weekend

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trails — Andrea @ 6:09 pm

Just got home from the Crush & Run weekend in Nashville and don’t have time to write a full post right now. However, these two photos prettymuch sum it up…

September 22, 2011

Slammed

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 6:23 pm

Hey, look! The Crowbar found it’s way on to slamthatstem.com! It’s always been a favorite timekiller for me so I figured I’d submit the RDO since it’s 120mm travel fork necessitates extra stem slammage. For those of you that are visiting here by clicking on the slamthatstem link, here’s a post with some nicer/cleaner photos: http://blog.brickhouseracing.com/?p=3767

I appreciate all of the comments on my last post. I entered Crush and Run this morning. My decision was based not only on the comments, but also on the CX training rides I’ve started in the last week. If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know that since I tore a muscle in my groin at Fool’s Gold a couple of years ago, I’ve had early-season issues with re-injuring it during cyclocross dismounts. In an effort to avoid this, I’m trying to work my way back in to the season slowly, and going full-bore into racing doesn’t seem like a good idea at this point.

In sponsor news, a couple of tentative things are in the works, but I’m still hustling for something major.

September 18, 2011

So… what will it be?

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 8:17 pm

I can’t make my mind up about which race I should attend on October 1st. So, instead of figuring it out for myself, I would rather let you, my loyal readers, decide for me-

There’s the Covington Cyclocross race. It’s relatively close (biggest draw for me- little to spend on gas, no need to work out lodging/food/etc), and I’d be able to double up and race both women’s open and singlespeed categories. There will also be cash prizes for the Women’s Open race.

Then, there’s Crush and Run in Nashville. It’s got 50 and 100 mile options- including the “extra crazy” 700×23 tire option for the 100 mile race, which would likely be my category of choice. Read about it- it sounds like something that’d favor locals. I’d have to find a place to stay for a couple of nights (I know a potential post-race party when I see one, so I doubt I’d leave back for Memphis after the race), along with all the other logistics that come with going out of town to race. It appeals to my (and your?) sense of adventure, though.

Which race report would you rather see? 45 minutes of all-out-killing? 100 miles of who knows what? What will it be? You decide my fate in the comment section.

September 17, 2011

Hustle

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:22 am

Hmmm… so many thoughts racing through my head and no real way to organize them into a coherent blog post.

Since my last post, I’ve been talking to a lot of people who know people about trying to find financial support for next race season. Interbike was this week, so friends who were there made mention of my singlespeed endurance prowess to several companies. Many lines cast, but no bites yet. It sounds as if I really missed out on an opportunity to promote myself by not finding a way to get to Vegas.

In the meantime, I’ve also noticed that every fall, it takes me way too many rides to get at all comfortable on my cyclocross bike. It’s a size too small for me, so it’s got more drop than what I like for off-road riding, and the handling is twitchy. It’s also got a metric crap-ton of toe overlap.

On a more positive note, today I rode with one of the owners of Faction strength and conditioning. He’s a former student of mine and has recently moved his gym to a warehouse office park that I pass by several day a week on my way to ride in Shelby Farms. The nice thing about his place is that if you do bicep curls in the squat rack, then one of the Strongman guys will, in turn, use you in lieu of a log for overhead press. Hopefully things will work out for a winter weight training hideaway.

Also on the positive side of things, the Jet9 RDO is still the most awesome bike in the world. I rode my first sub-50-min lap of Stanky Creek on Friday. I still scare the hell out of myself with it on occasion, but that’s definitely become part of the fun of riding a full suspension rocketship.

And, finally, if all of the planets align and I get to take another extended trip out West next summer, I’ve got a spot at the Leadville Hostel to use as a training base-camp.

On a more random note, I almost glued my mohawk to a tubular Zipp wheel yesterday. Don’t ask.

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