brickhouseracing

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.

Reservoir Cross

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 5:54 am

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, an unexpected batch of rain passed through the Little Rock area. The course, which Heather had told me would be fast and technical, turned a little slower, slippery, and technical. Unlike the previous night’s course, it was a vast expanse across a large city park area, and was much more of a traditional CX course (though it was definitely more technical than any other CX course I’ve ever ridden).

Once again, the women raced on the same course as the CX4 and masters 40+ men. The start went straight up a large hill, and each group of racers started after the previous had cleared the top of it. This meant that the CX4 men got about a minute lead on the start of the women with the masters somewhere in the middle. Once again, there were only 3 of us:

 

I took off up the hill from the start and none of the other women matched me. So, I again took to chasing down men, and had caught a couple by the time I made it through the first section of tape and onto the pavement.

The course was an absolute blast! The constant mud/turns/elevation change made the time race time fly by, and, in the next 30 minutes, I managed to catch all of the men, and lead the last two or three laps from the front.

Back at the car after my race, I found out that my friend (aka “little brother”) Jonathan’s bike had been stolen out of his car the night before. So, I offered to let him use my new bike for the A race.

After a fast start, he would go on to be sitting a solid 4th. I was taking photos of Ryan and the other racers, and I happened to be at a spot where the course passed around/over a small rock ledge. As he rounded the corner, I yelled, “DO THE ROCK DROP!” I heard him upshift, and the rest was photo history…

 

Ryan ended up 3rd in the A race. During & after, I took a bunch of action/artsy photos. Here are a few of my favorites, but you can see the rest on Ryan’s blog:

While I was milling around waiting for photo opportunities, someone asked me, “what’s your secret to being so fast?” Lots of hard work, son. I’m not fast yet.

 

 

 

October 24, 2011

Little Rock Cyclocross

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:21 am

As I mentioned previously, there were races in both Nashville and Little Rock over the weekend. Even though the cross scene is more established in Nashville (i.e. tendency for a better course, better organization, and more competition over a “budding” scene), the women’s top 3 payout was arbitrarily lower than the men’s top 3 at the Nashville races, so we went to Little Rock. Saturday around lunchtime, Ryan and I headed west to Little Rock for the Kanis Park night race.

When we arrived, it was clear that the park was a little sketchy. We registered, and I suited up to pre-ride the course before it got totally dark (something I learned from Cyclocrunk over the last two years). The course itself was sketchy- ditches, random holes, buckled pavement, sandy, pine-needle covered turns… all breeds of sketch! Definitely my type of course.

I soon learned that Heather Ladd would be competing. She and I have toed the line together many times- last year, she kicked my tail at the Outdoors, Inc. race, then this year, I eeked out wins over her at the Spa City 6hr and Ouachita Challenge races. So, I knew it’d be a horserace. Lucky for me, she was competing in the Halloween costume contest and was dressed like an M&M…

 

BTW- she wasn’t the only one. Other entries included a gorilla, a bumblebee, and (the winner) KISS…

 

When the race started, I took it somewhat easy over the buckled asphalt and into the first turn. After that, it was all turn and burn. I didn’t see the other women again until I was lapping them, and took to catching as many of the men as possible (they’d let the cat 4 men go about a minute ahead of us). I don’t know how many I caught, but apparently, it was most of them.

 

Afterward, Ryan raced the men’s race. After a bad start, he pushed his way up to 4th place. We both felt like our Cyclocrunk experience helped with the course, which, even though it was short and filled with hazards, was a lot of fun.  We decided to skip the post-race after party, and in lieu of hanging out at a bar and listening to live music, went to ElChicos and split large margarita before crashing at the hotel.

 

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.

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