brickhouseracing

December 19, 2011

Tennessee State Championship Cyclocross

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:31 am

As I mentioned in my last post, the week leading up to the State Championship race was filled with intervals and elbow busting. I managed to relax and recover enough that I was feeling good and (somewhat nervously) confident about the race. I was fully expecting Kim Fasczewski to show up and put up a hell of a fight, but found out Saturday night that she would be wrapping up her season win in a North Georgia series. When we arrived at Lock 4 park and saw all the fast ladies who’d come out of the woodwork for the Championship, it was obvious that the race would be a killer nonetheless.

I realized during my pre-ride that the course was likely the most technical one of the season. The corners were greasy, and it never went straight for more than a few seconds at a time. It was also laid out on the side of a hill- at the beginning of the course, the hill was more gradual, getting steeper as the course wrapped around the side of the Lock 4 peninsula. I don’t mind tech, but I tend to excel on power courses. It was going to be tough.

Eight of us lined up (biggest race of the year!) We laid into it from the gun, Paula Burks got the holeshot- looking back on the power file for the day, the first 10 seconds of racing, I averaged about 700 watts. Kirsten- a rider from Wooden Wave- jumped around early and took off. She was getting a tiny gap, so I hopped around Paula at the barriers and chased. Somewhere a few turns into being on her wheel, I passed her and attacked up one of the steep spots. As I started lap 2, I was alone.

The course wound around so much that I was able to watch the ensuing chase behind me. Kirsten fell back and Jessica Owings took over. Eventually, Paula found her groove and chased in 2nd while Jessica and Amy Phillips battled out for 3rd. Lucky for me, by then, there were only a couple of laps to go.

 

Tough win on a tough course. Nice to have on my last race before Worlds, though I can’t help but wish I’d ridden less conservatively. Thankfully, the Louisville course should be a more balanced mix of power and tech. Til then, my schedule at work will be light while I make the final push in my training intensity and try to mentally prep myself for what I hope is the hardest and most successful cyclocross race I’ve entered.

 

 

December 12, 2011

A Weekend with the Men

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 5:25 pm

After a brief hiatus from CX racing following the Outdoors, Inc. race, jumping back in on Saturday was a little like hopping into a chilly pool. I’ve started my last cycle of training intensity before Worlds, and the two races over the weekend were an effective addition to the stress.

Saturday morning was cold- somewhere around 30 degrees. We bundled up and rode over to a nearby church for the first annual Cordova Cross race. Once we were registered, we rode a couple of laps of the course to stay warm. The course itself was pretty boss and contained most of the fun/challenging elements that you could ask for in a cyclocross race- fast sections, mud pit, uphill barriers, sketchy-steep turns, power sections… all packed in to a relatively short loop around the church property.  The field was divided in to A, B, and Women’s groups for scoring, though we all started together. I entered the women’s race, but from the start, ended up staying near the front of the pack. While I was clawing back any men that were unhitched from the lead group, Ryan was busy winning the A race, and we both took home a win in our respective categories (I landed 4th overall against the guys).

Trophies!

Sunday was a bit more serious. We packed up and day-tripped the Arkansas State Championship race. The promoter decided that no categories (including women’s open) racing the B race would receive a payout. Shitty. Also, being from Tennessee, I don’t qualify to win an Arkansas jersey. SO, I decided to race the men’s “A” race to see if I could grab one of the top 5 spots and take home a little cash.
The race course was sweet- it was mostly soft grass and typical CX-type terrain. However, it included one section of snotty, greasy, and occasionally rocky singletrack. When roll call started, I lined up in the front row in case anyone was wondering if I really meant business.

Of course I did… I was wearing my “business” armwarmers…

From the gun, I made an aggressive start. Ryan ended up behind me, and didn’t make it up to my wheel until around 4 laps in. This was the first race for me on Ryan’s Reynolds wheels with the Challenge Limus mud tire. As the race progressed, I got more and more comfortable with the surprising amount of traction they afforded me on the soft grass and slick trail.

They’re officially on my “awesome” list:

 

Also on the “awesome” list, carbon tubular wheels:

 

 

 

(those last few are courtesy of Cliff Li)

Once again, I ended up in 4th place behind 2 Arkansas men and Ryan, who finished 3rd. Another good, hard day of training in the books. The only place I feel like I’m really lacking is in the last 20 minutes of a 60 min race. Fortunately for me, the Worlds race is only 40 minutes long, so I should be able to lay the hammer down for the entirety of the race. Looking forward, the next couple of weeks is going to be a rabbithole of intensity, including two hard workouts and the TN State Championship CX race on Sunday. I foresee lots of compression tights and sleep.

 

November 14, 2011

Outdoors, Inc. MidSouth Cyclocross Championship

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 9:34 pm

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was somewhat nervous going into this race. I’d had a slightly fatiguing training week, and I was unsure of my ability to defend “home turf” against the women who could potentially show up from out-of-town. However, following suit to most of the other races I’ve been to this season, the women’s field (6 of us) was somewhat small (partially due to the schedule conflict that pulled a few Nashville women north to the USGP race in Louisville, KY).

We lined up behind the group of “B” race men- cat 4s and beginner masters racers- and started a minute behind the group. I decided to take the initiative and dive into the wind head-first. I wasn’t sure how the other women would react, but it made for a good photo…

 

It took a lap or two to work through the slowest of the male traffic, but I eventually put a sizable gap between me and the other women. The next few laps, I had the pleasure of both bleeding out of my eyes and hearing all of my coworkers/friends cheering me on. Sponsorship gold, Jerry…

(notice worlds most badass armwarmers in that shot)

Hopefully, some more, awesome photos will surface soon.

November 8, 2011

Not all piss and vinegar

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:36 am

The Outdoors, Inc Cyclocross race is less than a week away now, and my nerves are already twitching. This race last year, I was in poor cyclocross shape- there was time off following the end of the endurance season followed by the start of low intensity base training. I was soundly thrashed by both Heather Ladd and Kat Williams. It was painful to get beaten so hard with all of my peers watching… I wished during the entire race that a giant mutant catfish would emerge from the the Mississippi River and swallow me whole.

This year is very different… at least along the lines of my own skills and fitness. It’s not different in that I still have the same insecurities about getting my ass kicked in front of all of my friends and co-workers. I’m not sure who all will show up- there’s bound to be an Arkansas contingent, but the Nashville gals (including Kat and others who are strong and fiercely competitive) are unknowns since many racers from Nashville will be going north to the USGP race in Louisville.

This is one of those races where I feel like I need to live up to expectations, and I’m nervous about the possibility that I can’t do so. The good part? It’ll make me race like my life depends on it… or wish for the imaginary catfish to swallow me and take me out to sea.

 

November 6, 2011

Gearhead CX Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 8:56 pm

Since this post is largely about trying to beat guys in races, Fred, who commented on my previous post, should probably stop reading now.

Race #1 was against the women and cat 4 men. There were 3 other women and a handful of guys. First place was $200 (woohoo!), and I was planning on doubling up and jumping into the men’s open race just after the women’s, so my strategy going in was similar to McEwen- race hard enough to win the women’s race, and leave the guys alone. It started out like that, but within a couple of laps, I was gaining ground on the leader of the cat 4 race. I eventually passed him, and, of course, he chased, so I had to bust ass to stay away. Winning. Wait… Winning? Shit.

I tried my best to cool down a little without getting totally relaxed. I grabbed a gel and some water and kept rolling around until people started to line up.

Race #2: The payout was 10 deep, and 12 of us lined up. The goal was twofold- get money, and fu… uh… race hard. The start was great- I jumped into the course ahead of a couple of the slowest racers but behind the guys that I wasn’t sure of whether or not I’d pass. In the next few laps, I chased several of them down. For a while, I was alone between the 5 leaders and the ones behind me. I realized that I was pulling Larry Yancey (Mr. Honeybadger himself) back. It took a minute, but I eventually passed him in the box of turns just after the first barrier. The last three laps was hell. I felt every pedal stoke from the first race, but managed to hold off all of the guys that I’d passed and finish in 5th place.

Bounty for the day… (thanks Gearhead for such an awesome race/payout!)

 

Today, I suffered and, for the first time in a while, felt fast. It was both painful and liberating at the same time. A mile-marker on my road to Worlds…

 

November 5, 2011

McEwen CX

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 9:36 pm

Since daylight savings is giving me an extra hour of beer-drinking blog-writing time tonight, I figured I’d go ahead & get today’s race report out of the way.

Ryan and I went to McEwen today (just west of Nashville). When I arrived at registration, I found out that there’d be a small (4 of us) but competitive women’s 1/2/3 field. Woohoo!

We lined up behind the Cat 3 men and started 30 seconds back from them. I had the holeshot, but dropped back in the first couple of turns in order to get a feel for the other women’s strengths/weaknesses. At the first log barrier, my nerves got the best of me, and I mis-timed a dismount- I was off in time, but lifted my bike late and bonked my front wheel into the tree at full-speed… my bike bounced backwards hard enough to send me into an odd dirt/mtb shoe interpretation of a 180 ballet pirouette. At that point, I’d been on Jessica Owings wheel, but Amanda Ragle took advantage of my screw-up and passed me going into a nasty off-camber turn along the edge of a stank-ass cow pond.

Somewhere soon after, I passed Jessica to stay on Amanda’s wheel. My temporary plan was to stick to her wheel for a little bit, then throw down a strategized attack later in the race. However, we soon took to the barriers, and I ended up getting a gap on the ground (thank you, Coach, for those 20x dismount workouts…) When I took the lead, I maintained the same, barely maintainable pace that we’d done for the first lap. Amanda & Jessica did not.

I kept hammering the course as hard as possible. I could see Amanda a couple of turns back, so I didn’t want to let off at all. After a few laps, Ryan gave me a time check of “well over a minute.” I kept hammering. I was pulling the cat 3 men in like fish on a trotline. Soon enough, I was bearing down on the guy who was in 4th when I realized that I could no longer see Amanda in any of the turns behind me. I made the executive decision to downshift and take it down a notch. I’ll be racing for bigger money in Jonesboro tomorrow, so I forced myself to swallow my pride and not totally bleed out of my eyes in order to achieve the “make all the guys my bitches” goal.

At just under breakneck speed, I concentrated mainly on not braking much. I realized today that with the ill-fitting geometry of my previous CX bike, I was just now starting to learn how to turn fast enough to squirm/roll my rear tire under. Fun stuff!

Later, in the podium photo, I potentiated the Nashville rumor that I’m a “lesbian biker chick”… who cares what anyone thinks when you’re on the top step?

November 2, 2011

November MH&F

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 5:46 am

It’s November, which, if you live in Memphis, means two things… 1) the weather will, at some point, cease to be unseasonably warm and start to be unseasonably cold (usually within a span of 24 hours); and 2) Outdoors, Inc’s annual  Cyclocross Race headlines Memphis Health and Fitness magazine. I could tell you all about the race here, but then you wouldn’t have a reason to either click that link or read the article in Memphis Health and Fitness.

Last year, I was photographed and included in a sidebar along with the article… sort of a “meet a real life cyclocross racer” thing. This year will be similar, except for the cover photo. Instead of using a photo of racers taken during a previous cyclocross race, they realized that during cyclocross races, people generally scowl, drool, and have a gelatinous mixture of sweat and boogers hanging from the end of their noses. Instead, it made sense to take a photo of someone doing cyclocross things outside of the whole race situation.

So, a few weeks ago, I met a photographer & publisher at Mud Island park. They took a lot of photos- standing, running (up stairs and on the ground), riding, etc. The fun part was doing everything in slow motion while smiling, looking at the camera and trying to look like I was not doing whatever it was in slow motion. Everyone’s favorite one? Shoulder my bike and freeze in place while running up the stairs…

Hopefully, next time I run up those stairs, I’ll be going much faster and be dragging the souls of my competition along with me. The race is November 13th. Come out, watch, and heckle. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to drink a beer and yell at people on a Sunday morning- perfectly acceptable behavior for any cyclocross race.

 

And, on a totally random note, here’s a video that made me smile:

 

 

 

October 31, 2011

Spookycross #1 & 2

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

A pair of somewhat uneventful races rolled into one post. I was the only 1/2/3 woman racing on both days, so the biggest battle was with the course itself, which had several very challenging sections to negotiate.

I raced the “A” race along with the Masters men and 1/2/3 men. The officials had each category start separately, meaning I started alone, 1 minute back from the 1/2/3 men and 30 seconds behind the masters men. I managed to catch the back of the masters within the first lap, and kept reeling them in, one at a time, over the next 55 minutes. It seemed like half the time I ended up catching people in one of the two singletrack sections and having to force a pass or wait until we exited. The other half of the catches happened to be at the barriers- one huge set of three was at the top of a steep hill coming out of the woods (they were so tall and the ground was so steep I had to get off of my bike early to get a better running start at them) , and the other was a set of three logs that were  insanely fast since they were a little downhill. I caught up to the back end of the 1/2/3 field on the final lap.

Sunday, the course was reversed, and the rotten log pile/barriers that had previously been part of a singletrack runup were removed to create a tight, hair-raising decent with a couple of small drops off of roots and water bars. The huge set of barriers was moved slightly- they were still on a steep uphill, but on uneven ground that fell away from the middle of the barrier, making them a few inches taller. Jeebus.
This time, all of the categories started together. I got a little jammed up in traffic at the start and ended up behind some people who were not very fast on singletrack. Most of the 1/2/3 men got away from me, and I had to make some almost dirty singletrack passes to get through traffic. I reeled a lot of the same people in, including someone who usually kicks my butt- Larry Yancey (seen here in the Walmart kit leading Quadzilla around the tree):

When I passed Larry, he yelled at me only that he’d broken his right shifter off. My initial thought was “HTF did that happen?” I couldn’t think for long, though, because he started to bulldog me for an entire lap before backing off slightly near where I’d caught him in the first place. Later, I found out that just before I passed him, he’d rolled a tubular and endoed, which broke both his frame AND right shifter… honeybadger-style racing from someone who has celebrated his 60th birthday this season:

 

So, again, I finished somewhere around the front of the Master’s category and the end of the mens’ 1/2/3 category. I was somewhat disappointed that no other 1/2/3 women showed, but raced hard against the men nonetheless. I really appreciate that, even though the women were sparse (there were only two Cat4 women), the promoters still paid equally to mens’ & womens’ categories. The 55 minute format was a painful change from the <40min races that kicked off the season. Also, the new bike is performing fabulously, and looks wonderful with the new parts:

(another great photo by Perry Barker)

Future plans? Another double weekend coming up- McEwen (Hoss of Cross) is Saturday and Sunday (another equal pay race! Woohoo!) However, we may venture to Jonesboro, AR on Sunday instead for a big payout CX event up there. After that, the Outdoors, Inc race on Mud Island followed by a few days at Syllamo the week of Thanksgiving. The fitness is falling in place for the leadup to Worlds in January…

 

October 28, 2011

Cyclocrunk #3

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 9:07 am

The weather/timing finally worked to where I was able to ride to Tobey Park for the 3rd and final installation of the Cyclocrunk series. The course was short in multiple ways- a couple of sections used previous nights were removed, the barriers were cut down 2cm (due to a protest to TBRA from one of last week’s competitors), and, it was announced on the start line that the race would only be 30 minutes long.

I have lately been feeling riled up over the usual excuses for shorting female racers in race payouts. I channeled that into determination to rip the legs off of as many male racers as possible. I had an excellent start, and, unlike previous Crunk races, I didn’t sit back and let the race thin out a little before really laying into it.
Before the end of the first lap, I was hot on local triathlete Daniel Schaffer’s heels, fighting for 4th place behind Hart Robinson, John King, and Ryan. As we finished the first lap, we got “4 to go” from the race promoter. Knowing how short that would be, I decided I wouldn’t let up from the already eyeball-bleeding first-lap pace I was maintaining.

Sometime on the next lap, I caught up to Daniel, only to have him make an attack I wasn’t able to follow. He got a gap away from me that I never managed to cover in the remaining 15 minutes of racing. According to him after the race: “I kept looking back and was like, DAMNIT, SHE’S STILL THERE!”

The last two laps were grueling. My internal dialogue was a clutter of curse words and yelling. Later at home I looked at the Garmin file for the race and saw that my heart rate average for 22 minutes was 190bpm- equal to about 95% of my (true) maximum heart rate.

I crossed the finish line still in overall 5th, hoping I’d broken a few hearts and legs.

I get another shot at the guys this weekend at Spookycross.

(courtesy of Perry Barker, who not only takes great photos, but also does a lion’s share of trail work around Memphis)

October 25, 2011

CX Tire Swap

Filed under: Around the shop,Bike Racing — Andrea @ 2:09 pm

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.

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