Unsolicited Advice for Active Women

I might catch some isht for this, but I think it’s worth saying. Guys, you don’t have to read. This doesn’t really involve you.

Over the weekend, I worked neutral mechanical support for the Los Locos Duathon. While I was there, I was amazed at the number of beautiful, strong ladies who were not taking care of themselves.

Ladies… I’m talking about your breasts here.

I saw so many cases of breast abuse during the run portions of the race that I wanted to start a neutral breast support tent. Do you WANT them to be friends with your belly button by the time you’re 50? Seriously?!

If you’re female and still reading, let me give you some sage advice. If you have larger than pancake-sized boobs, the same sports bra that you wear for yoga class, yardwork, lifting weights, or even cycling will NOT work for running. You know that feeling of something smacking you in the chin with every stride? That’s your breasts- it’s not good for them, and it’s not necessary. There are awesome sports bras out there, but you aren’t going to find them at Target for $20. Educate yourself. Do a little searching on the internet, then head down to your LRS (local run shop) or LBS (local bra shop) and start trying things on. Your boobs will thank you.

My other sage advice is this…

Well, it’s more of an etiquette/self respect  thing…

Triathlons are places where you’ll see people wearing very little in the way of clothing. It makes sense- it’s a sport that involves swimming. It’s hot. Etc. See below:


The triathlon-friendly swimsuit. Makes perfect sense. Should you wear one to a duathlon? I’d hazard a guess that if any female triathlete showed up to a duathlon in her favorite tri-suit that no one would bat an eyelash.

However, if you’re green enough to multisport that
A) You consider bootyshorts to be “close enough” to traditional tri gear that you can ride a bike in them
B) You attempt to run the wrong direction out of transition
C) Your pre-race warmup includes bending over and touching your toes while the guy in line behind you at the portajohn is looking embarrassed and diverting his gaze.

You should probably reconsider your choice of clothing, so that people aren’t snickering and giving you this look:


As I mentioned in my Ouachita report, I have three injured fingers- a sprained middle one on the right hand, and a sprained/broken middle and sprained index on the left. The most painful, colorful, and most sausage-like one is definitely the index finger.

Following the race, Fullface Kenny texted me for a race update. The conversation went like this (I wanted to take a screenshot, but I just figured out that my phone doesn’t do that without downloading an app):

FFK: Finished Yet?
Me: Yeah. 3rd after a flat and a bad wreck
FFK: You OK after the wreck?
Me: I may have broken my hand
FFK: Minor details :)
FFK: A broken hand X-Ray is worth some free beer

So, the next morning, I went to the Minor Med place to get checked out, and was given the aforementioned diagnosis and fitted with some finger splints:


Surprisingly enough, I can still do prettymuch everything I need to do at work, with the exception of adjusting hubs and truing wheels… the little arms of the splints get caught up on the spokes. Also, I occasionally have to use a screwdriver to open up a tight quick release. I did get called Edward Scissorhands when I was trying to re-wrap an old gripshift cable.

Tuesday, I noticed that my middle finger is not healing straight. My days as a hand model are officially over.


Wednesday, Kenny kept with his promise, and I found this in the mailbox:


The healing process is slow. I can work or ride a little without my fingers splinted, but they start to get sore after a couple of hours. It’s going to be an indefinite amount of time before I can ride my road bike since I can’t operate the front brake right now. Luckily, I can still operate my mountain bike with no issues, so my training doesn’t have to take a break for healing.

Hopefully, the ortho will have a positive prognosis when I visit on Monday. I’ll update then.



3rd Place Curse

I’ve got quite a collection of 3rd place finishes from “big” races.

It all started with Marathon Nationals in 2010:



Then, in 2011, I kept the Bronze collection strong.

Spa City:

Mohican 100:

Fools Gold 100:


2012 has been the year that I’ve stepped up the mediocrity… starting off with a Master’s World Championship Bronze:

Then, more bronze at Spa City:

…and, to polish it off, a cute little 3rd place quartz from Ouachita:


Yes, being able to podium at a race is something I’m thankful for.
On the other hand, always being on the lowest step is something that is sprouting a deep seeded discontent somewhere in between my liver and my stomach. It had only been a mild annoyance before, but when I heard the latest XXC Podcast with (relatively new) pro endurance racer Jonathan Davis, I really started to feel restless. Among other things, he talked about his dedicated training and recovery routine. I feel like I have a similar desire to dedicate my life to racing a bike much like he has, but I also feel like I’m stuck someplace in between the dream of becoming a professional bike racer and the reality that I can’t quit my day job unless someone magically calls me tomorrow and offers me a pro contract.

I don’t want to sound like I’m discouraged, because I’m not… more like really anxious and a little frustrated with a touch of impatience thrown in. So, this season, I’m hoping/training to get at least another step up… if not see the top at least once at something other than a regional level race. Sure, my goal of “World Domination” might seem a little ambitious at this point, but at least it gives me something to shoot for.

Ouachita Challenge Race Report

The entry list for the Ouachita Challenge always seems to be a mixed bag. 2010 seemed like the year of the pros. Last year, the field was slightly more sedate. This year, Carey Lowery showed back up, as well as Jessica Rawlins (state XC champ of Texas) and a host of other strong regional ladies. I finally had a chance to race the new Air9 RDO. Of course, I love the singlespeed best, but with a chance to win, it wasn’t the choice for a race with miles of flat/rolling road injected into its front and midsections.

I lucked out with work- Poolboy Matt was able to get Sunday off and come out to crew for me- a huge time saver on this sort of course.We arrived at camp Sunday just before sunset and rode the pump track for a while to get the car out of our legs. Afterward, we sat around the campfire and traded stories with the Texas guys.

Sunday morning was pretty typical. As always, I woke up with a race song in my head…

We struck camp and headed to Oden High School where the race started. I was a little late to the lineup and ended up only being able to nudge my way about halfway up into the field. For most endurance races, that’s not a huge deal, but for this one, getting into the draft of the lead groups in the 7 miles of road prior to the initial singletrack can give you a huge headstart on competitors that get stuck out in the wind.

I did not make it to the lead group. I was able to get some good paceline action, though. It was about the time that the asphalt changed to gravel when I saw Jessica for the first time. She was smack in the middle of a paceline of her Bicycles Plus teammates, who, from what I overheard from one of the guys, were all cat 1 cross country racers who were there to help Jessica out. I stuck to their wheels for a while before they took off after Carey Lowery up the final climb before the singletrack. I wasn’t about to blow myself up at 5 miles into the race. I figured I’d let them beat each other up a bit then tackle the loser.

After a little singletrack climbing, I rolled up on Jessica and her guys. I managed to get on her wheel and chill out a little. From what I could tell, she probably had me on fitness, but I had the rock riding advantage. With Blowout Mountain ahead, that was a good thing. I was waiting patiently for a chance to get around her when she (I think) dropped her chain. I calmly made haste down the back of Brushy Mountain through the first aid station.

The next portion of rocky awesomeness up and across Blowout was like home to me. Unfortunately, I punched a rock with my rear tire. Stan’s sealant went up in a roostertail behind me, and I pulled off the trail  and rotated the hole down to let the sealant work. It seemed to have closed the puncture, so I decided to gamble and aired the tire back up with my one Big Air CO2. It appeared to hold… until I rolled down the trail another 20 feet, and it started spewing again. CRAP.

I found another safe spot to pull off (not always easy on Blowout) and proceeded to add a tube to my tire. About the time I was getting the tube into the tire, Jessica rolled by. One of her guys stopped to ask if I was OK. When he did, he accidentally dropped a CO2 out of his pack… lucky me!! I finished the change and headed down the trail with my rear tire bouncing like a basketball over the rocks (I wasn’t about to pinch flat). Time elapsed with flat… 10 minutes. In hindsight, the initial CO2 gamble was a bad idea. If it would have worked, though…


Next it was up & over one more mountain before hitting the road to/from Sims. There, I met Matt, swapped bottles, and refilled my seat pack. Matt said that Jessica had blown through with her teammates about 4 minutes prior. I could tell I was a little overheated when I left, so I refrained from going all out on the road to the Womble Trail portion of the course. Once I was there, I settled back into my trail rhythm. I was tired, but feeling like I would be able to successfully maintain a slightly gentler pace than what I’d sustained through the Ouachita Trail.

I made it over Mauldin Mountain and was headed down the back side when suddenly, I was wrecking. I don’t really know what happened, because I didn’t ever look ahead of me and register an “oh shit, I’m going to wreck” in my head. There were some roots… they may have been a little slick and off camber… no idea. All I know is that I watch my left hand smash against the ground with my fingers bending back towards my wrist. When I came to rest, I was face down with my feet downhill and my helmet just off the edge of the trail. The two guys that had been following me were pretty freaked out. They offered to get help. I told them I was going to be ok, but that I’d hurt my hand. In my head, I was thinking more along the lines of, “OH MY GOD MY HAND IS MANGLED.”

I heard one of the guys say he’d go get my bike. I have no idea where it was, but, with their help (and by help, I mean, they drug me back up onto the trail) I was back on and riding pretty quickly. I hope I wasn’t rude to them in my demanding that they just give me my bike so that I could keep going… they were concerned, but I just wanted to be riding again during the space between the initial “hurt” and when the adrenaline wore off and the real pain (from both my hand and the multitude of the other cuts/bruises) set in.

The last 15 miles hurt. I made a promise to myself that I could cry on the other side of the finish line as long as I kept my shit together the rest of the way there.

After what seemed like forever, I was back out onto the forest road and headed back in to Oden. I made it a point to big ring the gravel climb that had nearly crushed my soul with cramps the year before. Minutes after that, Matt appeared on his singlespeed with words of encouragement. I chatted with him for a minute before taking off on the wheel of another racer. Finish time, 6:05… 3rd place by less than 2 minutes.

Once I was over the line, I dropped my bike and sat down against a nearby building. It seemed like Matt and everyone else was trying to help me, but all I wanted was some water and to be left alone. Something about the way I was acting or looking caught the eye of the nearby paramedics. They also kept checking in on me, and one eventually convinced me to go sit in the ambulance where it was cool and get a bag of IV fluids.

It did make me feel much better.

Of course, the pain of hurt fingers and other bruised/abraded joints eventually set in once I was cooled off and calmed down. Three of my knuckles started to swell (the index and middle fingers on my left hand and the middle finger of my right hand) as well as the area over my left 5th metacarpal.

This morning, I went to the doctor. Turns out, save a small fracture at the end of the proximal phalange of my left middle finger, the remainder of my injuries are all in the soft tissue. I’ve typed this entire post with 7 working fingers (the other 3 are in splints). I’m to go back to an ortho doc in 1 week for re-evaluation.

I’m crossing my splints for a speedy recovery.




Post-race Rundown

I haven’t been doing much of anything since racing on Saturday.

(photo courtesy of Fullface Kenny)

Sunday, I laid around the house in the throes of post-race misery.
Revisiting the revelation from my previous post… racing is hard for everyone, no matter how fast or slow you are. It makes everyone sore and tired. However, the physical and mental fatigue generated when you have the ability to push yourself at or above lactate threshold for hours on end is another level of hurt. At least, for me it has been. It’s highly possible that someone faster than me is reading this right now and wondering why I don’t stop with the whining.

My post-race experience has been the obvious full-body soreness coupled with a loss of appetite, inability to sleep (a combination of pain, sweating, and mental unrest), and a general feeling of mild depression and malaise. That was, for the most part, how I spent Sunday and Monday. Post-race Mondays are always great when I get to explain to everyone at work how I didn’t win.

I don’t think they particularly care, and, honestly, I don’t particularly mind having an awesome personal performance like this one and getting 3rd behind the likes of Pua and Sara. It’s the times where I feel like I should have done better than suck to explain. Thankfully, this wasn’t one of those times.

After a couple of days of being tired and lazy (my recovery rides consisted of riding my bike the 1mile to work and back as well as rolling around the skatepark a little while Poolboy Matt shredded on his BMX bike), yesterday was time to unf*ck myself and get back to work. Matt and I went out for a 3 hour wind fight (which I believe I won). I don’t normally take breaks during rides, but we had to stop and check out this guy, who was crossing the road somewhere north of Arlington…

I normally save turtles from the road. Not this type, though. If you’re not well-versed in “animals of the deep South,” just know that the snapping turtle is one of the meanest creatures on this wonderful earth. This was a pretty big one- huge claws, shell at least a foot long, and a fat, at least  4-inch-long tail that looked like something out of a dinosaur exhibit at the museum. I’d rank it right up there with the Honey Badger and rabid dog as “top 5 animals not to f*ck with.”

The ride, followed up by a good yoga class, were enough to finish peeling back the layers of funk that I’d been dealing with. Sometimes you rest more. Other times, it’s better to just jump right back in. This was one of those times.


Spa City 6hr Race Report

As I mentioned earlier in the week, the weather forecast for Hot Springs had looked dismal. First, rain in the forecast, then torrential rain ahead of the race and a 50% chance of rain during. It eventually evolved into a perfect, sunny day with temperatures in the low 60s. Nonetheless, I’d readied the singlespeed by tearing apart my fancy new Air9 RDO in order to race a suspension fork (still waiting on one for the singlespeed, so it was set up rigid) and my new set of ENVE carbon wheels.

Unlike previous years (where the women’s roster was smaller), the growing popularity of the USA Cycling Pro UET series had drawn several out-of state hitters, including the likes of Pua Mata (not to disrespect the other women by not naming them, but, since… spoiler alert… Pua won, I’ll leave the additional e-stalking of the entry list up to you).

Tinker Juarez was there, too. I geeked out after the race and had him autograph my Huckin Kitty t-shirt.

The change for the better in the weather forecast didn’t “necessitate” the reliability of the singlespeed. However, from my past season of NUE racing, I’ve found an unexpected comfort zone in taking on Pro class women without the use of extra gears.

So, Saturday morning, I placed my bike in the rack and lined up for the most ridiculous LeMans start in modern endurance racing- ~300 yards of running on gravel and asphalt. At the least, it’s incredibly inconvenient. At the worst, the length of the run invites injuries such as sprained ankles and “tripping & falling on your face on the asphalt,” which is exactly what happened to a racer immediately to my left as the pack veered towards the bike racks. Luckily, I made it to my bike unscathed.

Also lucky for me, I made it onto the wheel of local endurance matriarch Laureen Coffelt at the start of the first lap. I followed her until nearly halfway through when she slid out on a root and I was able to sneak around. She’d been tough competition in the past, so I knew I’d have to keep kicking ass to stay ahead. In the 2nd and 3rd laps, I’d find myself battling back & forth with Jessica Cerra. I passed her partway through the 3rd lap and kept the pedal to the floor.

I had an epiphany somewhere around lap 4 or 5. I’d been riding at a breakneck pace for far upwards of 4 hours when the famous Greg Lemond quote “It never gets easier, you just go faster,” entered into my head. All I could think about was how much that quote was cheating aspiring beginners into a false sense that they would never experience greater pain, just greater speed. Greg was right- it doesn’t get easier. To the contrary, it gets harder. You go faster for longer periods of time. It hurts like hell in a perfect sort of way.

I thought of that for what seemed like a long time. The previous two years, I’d had bad days at that race. I’d exhausted myself and death-marched around the course in my granny gear. I’d felt tired and sore after it was over. Now was different. I was in my 5th lap and hammering up hills past people like I was still on lap 2. My brain was constantly overriding the burn in my legs that was telling me to take it easy. I started my 6th lap, and my body felt like it was ready to fall apart. As I rounded the pits, Todd “Antique Gun Show” Henne yelled that there was another woman just around the corner.

I put my head down and caught her on a muddy hill just before the trail dove into the woods. My legs threatened to cramp, and I thought of a much better quote, courtesy of Kevin, one of my favorite yoga instructors…

One more time, for enlightenment!


I managed to stay ahead for the entire lap, finishing my 6 in 6hrs, 10 minutes- 3rd place behind Pua Mata and Sara Gibeau (a rider from Colorado). The other two women who had been so competitive during the race were not far behind. I laid on the ground in the pit area for the next 30 minutes… exhausted and enlightened.

It’s nice to break a streak of bad luck at a particular race (though, honestly, the only other race where I’ve had much bad luck is ORAMM. I’ll get that one eventually). It’s also nice to break that streak with a performance that surprises myself. I’m left wondering where the combination of leftover cyclocross fitness and increasing endurance will land me this year.



The choice is (probably) made…

So, if you follow Brickhouse Racing on Facebook, you already know that the Air9 RDO magically showed up on Monday. I built it and rode this morning. First impressions? (in random order)

-It rides just like an Air9 CYA, but about 1.5 pounds lighter. The stiffness of the Enve wheels and carbon frame make it handle like a road bike. I feel like I could inflate the tires a little more and rock a criterium on it.
-I wish that Niner had included i-spec XTR shifters with the build. I’m ordering the (not Matchmaker cheap OR easy) conversion kit next week so I can clean the cockpit up a little.
-The Raceface Crank, BB, and PF30 adapter weighs exactly the same as a Truvativ XX BB30 crank and PF30 BB.
-Even on the medium frame, I still need a setback seatpost. I’m going to take the fancy red RDO post that came with the bike and put it on my road bike.
-The alloy Niner stem is really, really, nice. The 90/6deg that came with my bike weighs 107g. I just can’t use it since I’m rockin’ the medium frame (taller headtube), and I need a serious negative rise to get my handlebars anywhere close to where I want them. I went for the Zipp Service Course in -17deg, and I’m still wanting a little more drop.
-It weighs in at 20.12 pounds.
-I haven’t had a chance to take nice photos yet. Here’s a photo I took with my phone:



So, the choice is made, right? I’m gonna race the awesome new hotness, right?

Not so fast…


Singlespeed weather.

I’m 95% certain I’m going to end up pirating the suspension fork off of the A9RDO hawtness and slap it on my trusty singlespeed (it’s patiently waiting on a suspension fork of its very own since I sold the shared 20mm thru-axle fork that I was previously using). I hate riding gears when it’s sloppy. Don’t get me wrong… I’m always looking to torture test some new stuff. Just not in my first race of the season, and not when the conditions/terrain lend itself so well to singlespeeding.

Even though I’m not taking most of everyone’s advice, Of course, I always appreciate your input.

In non-Spa City 6hr news, I did a post- SouthernX podcast interview with XXC Mag that should be out in the next day or two. I’ll post a link once it’s up.

1st World Dilemma

Next weekend, I’ll be traveling out to Hot Springs Rockansas for the Spa City 6hr and a hearty Ouachita/Womble trail ride on Sunday . I was planning on showing off my fancy new Air 9 RDO that was going to ship out earlier this week. For reasons probably involving the Chinese New Year, the black paint-matched suspension forks on the black RDO bikes aren’t in stock, and that hasn’t happened.

So, now I’m left with two bikes full of options…

I’ve got my singlespeed. It’s rigid. I rode rigid (on my geared bike) last year and the rough, rocky tread beat the everliving snot out of me. The entire time I was racing/Sunday trail riding, I was wondering WTF I had been thinking when I’d made the decision to NOT use a suspension fork. Of course, bike racing is apparently much like what some women say about pregnancy and childbirth- for some stupid reason, despite the amount of pain I know I experienced, despite the conviction with which I’ve stated, “I never want to do that again,” I’m considering doing it again.
Of course, that route is not without its own hiccups. One of my beloved Formula R1 brakes crapped out on me at Syllamo earlier this month, and I just got around to investigating it on Wednesday. Formula wants the brake back to fix it. To tide me over, I installed the Avid XX brakes I’d pulled off of the geared A9C when it sold. The thing about those brakes is that one of them blew a seal a while back. Avid warrantied the brake with a 2012 model. I noticed Thursday that the replacement has very little power, makes a vague, squishy noise at the lever, and honks like the pads are fatally fouled. I should be able to make it work, but the XX brakes have been reliably unreliable enough that I’m not 100% comfortable with using them for a big weekend.

I also have the Jet9 RDO. Everything on it works. I love the bike, but I don’t feel as though I’m as fast on it as I would be on the singlespeed.

Then, there are the combo options:
-Put the suspension fork and/or brakes from the Jet9 onto the Singlespeed. Diva dilemma: I wouldn’t have a handlebar-mounted lockout, which is something I use constantly when I singlespeed.
-Use some more of my pull-off XX parts to make the singlespeed a 1×10 AND add a suspension fork. Possibly fun, definitely lots of work.
-Call Mike Stanley (Best Niner Rep in the World) frantically on Sunday afternoon and ask him to change my order to a green bike, which, hopefully, aren’t bound in limbo by the lack of black fork availability.

I have a hard time making up my mind on things like this and would probably end up deciding sometime around Thursday and having to rush and scramble. What I’d rather do is follow the wishes of the Almighty Blog Audience that includes you, the person reading this post right now. Comment your wishes either below, on Facebook (see link in the right sidebar), or on  Twitter (link also in the right sidebar).


Southern Cross Race Report

Despite being occasionally disturbed overnight by the plight of my next-door hotel neighbor Sergio, I felt pretty good after coffee and breakfast. I finished packing everything into the car, checked out, and headed back out to the Winery. The weather turned out to be gorgeous- a little chilly, but just the right amount of wind, and lots of sunshine.

Once I was changed, I rolled around a little (including a pre-ride of the first “run up” on the “cyclocross course” that we’d negotiate before heading to the road) then headed to the start area. Eddie O’dea made his usual pre-race announcements then started the race. As always, it’s a little hectic until everyone gets to the road- getting to the pavement with a group of fast riders and catching a good draft to the first hills can be instrumental in putting a gap on competitors.

I wasn’t sure of the gravel grinding abilities of most of my competition, but I knew that Cheryl Sorensen and Selene Yeager would be kicking large amounts of ass. So, I made it a point to hold their wheels. They’d put a small gap on me in the first half of the CX loop, but I caught up to them by riding the initial runup (see the Cyclingdirt.com video HERE . They pass the camera about 40 sec in, and around 55 sec, you see me ride by. I caught them at the top) The three of us exited the Winery together with Cheryl and Selene trading pulls all the way to the gravel. I wasn’t sure where the other women were, but I figured I was doing well in that position.

Once we were on gravel, the first few rollers started to break the pack up. One woman wrecked hard on a washboarded downhill, taking herself out of the race. I watched Cheryl drop Selene up the first decent-sized hill as they both rode out of sight. I settled in to my own pace. Within a few minutes, we were on Winding Stair- the first of two major climbs. There, I realized that singlespeeding has been good to me. Rather than use my lowest gear all the way up, I stayed more in top half of the cassette and tried to maintain a cadence I’d feel comfortable with on my singlespeed. I was back and fourth with some of the other women, and kind of lost track of where I was placed.

At the top, I swapped out bottles at the aid station and kept moving. I felt great, and the descent on the other side was exhilarating. I realized that the Addict CX is not only awesome for “normal” CX racing, but is also very stable and comfortable down sketchy gravel descents. Bonus!

Once at the bottom, I gathered up with some other riders and flew through the mid-race asphalt to the next climb- a long, steady grade that follows a gorgeous creek for several miles before heading uphill to the 2nd time through the aid station. I still felt great. I attribute it not only to good training, but also to consuming moderate quantities of Gu Roctane drink and gel. I’m usually one to be skeptical about expensive versions of fancy sugar, but I can’t help realizing that I just feel better when I eat Gu’s version with the addition of small amounts of caffeine and amino acids.

Back at the top, I refilled a bottle and went back to climbing. Not much after that, I came around a corner to find Selene flipping her bike upside down with a double flat. My surprise reflex exclamation was “Oh, SHIT!” which, in order to cover up my surprise, I quickly followed up with something along the lines of “do you have enough stuff?” I was a little dumbfounded, which, once she said she was OK, made me pedal really hard.

Another descent later, it was back on to pavement. I went all-in and put my elbows on my bars to time-trial to the finish. Along the way, I managed to pass one more woman that I’d been back/forth with on Winding Stair. I put my head down and didn’t look back until I reached the final CX lap at the Winery. The last run-up is always a killer, but at that point, everything already hurts enough that it doesn’t really matter. Within minutes, I crossed the finish line. Cheryl and the other two women were still there, so I knew it was a close finish. Cheryl was out there, but the other two had only been a few minutes up.

With that, my reign of Southern Cross semi-domination is over.

Upset? Not really… I mean, I’m not happily celebrating 4th or anything, but, as I mentioned in my previous postings, with a 2 month pre-Worlds hiatus from rides over 3 hours in duration coupled with a 2+ week break following worlds, I wasn’t expecting to be able to come out swinging at this race. I’m very happy with how hard I was able to push myself the whole time, and I feel like I’m climbing better than ever.

Full results HERE as well as a post-race interview from Cyclingdirt HERE

Southern Cross (pre)Race Report

I started typing this as my race report, but quickly realized that the Friday before Southern Cross was enough of a story to stand on its own…

Friday morning, I packed and left town sometime before 8. Some time around 9, Poolboy Matt called and let me know that my purse (including my drivers license and money) was on the kitchen table at home. With a healthy dose of cursing, I turned around at Exit 52 (I get on the interstate at Exit 16) to retrieve it and start over.

With the addition of an extra hour and a half of driving, I arrived in Dahlonega for registration as the sun was setting. Once again, Eddie and Namrita had done a great job of  getting the race set up at the Montaluce Winery. Sound like a weird place to base a bike race? Well, yeah, it is. When you walk in to the winery for registration, the fancy people all look at you funny, and the kind, nicely dressed woman at the hostess desk quickly directs you upstairs for bike registration without asking if you’re actually there for bike race registration. Of course, Montaluce is a beautiful venue (especially at sunset), and everyone appreciates their support of the races… but that doesn’t make it any less awkward.

I picked up my race packet and headed back out to the Quality Inn in Dahlonega. I hate going on a long car ride without riding a little afterward, so, while I unpacked, I turned the AC to its coldest setting and set my bike up on the trainer. I quickly realized that the National Geographic channel has also devolved into a series of “cops” style reality TV shows. The “Wildlife Police” (about California Game Wardens) version was my favorite…

After a few intervals and a little spinning, I cleaned up and debated as to where I’d go for dinner. At 8:30 on a Friday night, downtown Dahlonega (where a couple of decent pizza places reside) was sure to be crawling with college kids and bike racers. There was an Asian place attached to the hotel, but I suspect that the quality of the food would be questionable, and that it would be overly sugary and greasy. So, I nixed the sugar, kept the grease, and went with a more reliable pizza delivery dinner.

As I was drifting off to sleep around 11:00, I heard angry banging on a nearby door and someone yelling, “SERGIO!” over and over. I quickly realized that it was someone banging on MY door. I went to the door and yelled back, asking what the hell they were doing. The guy outside explained he was sorry and had the wrong room, and that he meant to knock on the one next door. Great.

But wait, it gets weird-er.

At exactly 4:09am, something woke me up. I didn’t realize what it was at first, but then I heard it again- the guy in the room next door (Sergio?) was groaning. It sounded like Master P was in the throes of the drunken state when you’re ready to pass out, but you’re too sick, and the room is spinning around you. I tried calling the front desk. No one answered. I was about to call the police (he sounded like he might actually need medical help), when I heard a sober voice in his room. Things got quiet, and I went back to sleep. He started back up again around 5:45 and woke me just before my alarm went off.

I hope he learned his lesson.

I packed the car and went to the Country Cafe near downtown. The waitress was superbly cheerful and friendly. Enough so that I forgot about the drunken groaning and started to mentally prepare for the racing ahead of me. Game time…