brickhouseracing

August 29, 2012

Strava Crap

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 7:26 am

I’ll be the first to say it- the internet brings out the worst in people.

Enter Strava. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you create a “KOM segment” on a map on their site, and they post a leaderboard for that segment with times of all people who have ridden that segment and uploaded the file to the site. It’s resulted in multiple deaths, injuries, run-ins with cars, hikers, horses, and hours of internet bickering over whether or not KOMs should count if you were drafting on a group ride.

It’s also a very good training motivation if you aren’t dumb.

As you may know, I had a very good day during Stage 5 of the Breck Epic. How good? Well, see for yourself… (Scroll down past “men’s leaderboard.” Do it. It’s awesome.)

Back here in Memphis, the segments are (mostly) limited to short stuff- they’re little hills or 2-5 minute drag race strips of road. I’ve grown somewhat bored with them, so I have started creating long segments. I’m not sure if anyone will bite, but at least the “ride hard for longer than 5 minutes” gauntlet has been thrown down. Here ya go, dorks:

 

 

Also, here’s a little gravel flavor for you:

 

There will be more.

August 27, 2012

Solidified

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 6:24 am

I knew I’d make up my mind eventually.

Saturday morning, I headed out in the rain to meet the guys from 901 Racing on their mostly social/partial hammer ride. It was sprinkling rain when I left, and alternately sprinkled/showered all the way to the meet-up spot in Midtown (unlike Breckenridge rain, when it rains here in August, the temperature stays well into the 80s). When I arrived at the coffee shop at 8:30, no one was there. I waited around for a few minutes, but, by 8:35, was tired of standing in the rain and figured they’d bailed because of the weather (I thought about waiting on the back porch of the coffee shop, but there were three people under there smoking. I’ll take rain over that). So, I rode back home, giving me nearly two hours of solo rain riding.

Turns out, they were all just really late.

I honestly didn’t care. I’m still recovering from Breck Epic- both physically and mentally. Physically, my legs are steadily gaining ground. They ache with hard efforts, but seem to be tracking back towards “beast mode” at a steady pace. Mentally, my transition back to the reality of non traveling/racing is an exercise in re-learning how to feign interest in the mundanity of everyday life. Unlike physical recovery, this isn’t a smooth, steady line of improvement. Suddenly, it’s time to deal with work, people, and not having the “job” of racing my bike 4-5 hours a day. It’s coming back slowly.

If you’ve been reading here the past week, you know I’m trying to make up my mind on a September schedule. I have tried not to stress this decision since I figure that it would become more obvious as time crept along. Like my previous indecision about the Pierre’s Hole race, the answer came to me during a ride. While I was soloing in the rain, I hashed through everything in my head with little to no interruption and was able to come up with a more concrete plan that seemed to settle well into my brain.

Next weekend is the Shenandoah 100. I don’t feel like driving to Virgina to race 100 miles. It’s one of my favorite courses and an even better party following the race, but the drive to get there takes longer than the race itself. Also, with the growing popularity of the race, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 people in attendance. It’s getting crowded. I could use the NUE points, but I just can’t convince myself that I want to go, and, as I’ve discovered in the past, if your head isn’t in it, bad things happen.

Also happening next weekend is a more local, shorter race- the School of Hard Nox 50. It’s in Mississippi. Depending on what Coach says to do, I might try that one. However, there may be one weather-related issue…

Race location:

The kicker:

I have no idea what the trail’s capacity is for terrible weather. So, the race’s fate rests in the hands of the weather and my coach. I’ll happily go either way.

The weekend after that is Fool’s Gold. Ryan and I are going to that (he’s decided to race the 50 mile version). While the start/finish location of the race makes it a terrible spot for a post-race party, the course itself is entertaining. It’s also the final race of the NUE series, so I get to say goodbye to all of my endurance racing friends for the winter.

Then what?

I’m going to Interbike. I can’t back out now- I’ve already bought the plane ticket and a pack of business cards. I’m flying out on the 18th and back on the 21st. I dread it, but, at the same time, I am relatively certain that I’ll have a good time. Hopefully, while I’m there, I can impress some important people with my endless charm and good looks.

The time following Fool’s Gold (encompassing Interbike) will likely contain my post-season break. Gotta rest before I start getting ready for cross…

August 20, 2012

Next?

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 7:33 am

So, now that I’ve conquered The Epic, what do I do for an encore?

I think that this trip solidified my wishes to (next season) leave 100 mile racing to people who enjoy racing for >7 hours at a time. I like the 3-6 hour timeframe. I like stage racing. I like stuff that’s really damn hard.

I’m entered in the Shenandoah 100 and Fools Gold 100 right now. Both are terrible singlespeed courses if you’re racing geared riders (especially the SM100). With races scheduled 1 week apart, I’m not sure which I’m planning on doing, but I’m leaning more towards Fool’s Gold. Both, you say? Yeah, of course I’m thinking about going to both. It’s sooooooo much driving, though…

Then there’s always the Pisgah Stage Race the 17th-22nd. I loved riding the tech stuff at Breck. Maybe I’d love Pisgah more?

I don’t know… I’ll probably figure it out the week before Shenandoah.

August 11, 2012

Day 12- to Breckenridge

Filed under: Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 2:20 pm

Ryan and I were up early to put everything in the car, drink lots of coffee, and get to the airport around 7:30. It was time to say goodbye to the Tetons and travel across the vast high desert/plain/whatever you call it to the real elevation. Sometimes, I get bored and take random out the window and self portrait photos…

 

Once I was in Breck, I had just enough time to unpack at the condo and get in a short ride on some “neighborhood” trail and (of course) the pump track. Even after hours in the car, my legs were still feeling great. I was cut a little short by rain, though that’s probably a good thing since I’ve vowed to eat most meals in my condo. So, I needed to get back and go to the grocery store for provisions. What I’ve realized so far is that being a mountain tourist town, groceries here are stupid expensive. I’m not sure that it’s going to cost any less to not eat out, but at least it’s a bit healthier since I won’t be tempted by some of the more delicious things like french fries and pie.

 

Day 11- more recovery (again)

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 2:04 pm

Since I’ve fallen a little behind on the updating, I’ll keep 11 and 12 short and sweet…

With the advent of recovered legs on Wednesday, Thursday, I was itching to go back and conquer the moto trail that we’d bailed on the day before. However, under coach’s orders, I had to take it easy. So, instead, Ryan and I drove up to Targhee and rode the Rick’s Basin part of the PH course backwards (spoiler alert- it’s easier that direction!)

I rode the singlespeed and took it as easy as possible, though, relatively speaking, that’s not 100% easy compared to riding geared.

Afterward, I went back for one last dip in Moose Creek. I also tested the “underwater” feature of the new camera. It may not take the absolute best photos, but at least I won’t smash this one like I did the previous…

 

By then, it was time to start dinner and packing. Friday, I’d drop Ryan back off at the airport and make the 8.5 hour drive down (up?) to Breckenridge.

August 8, 2012

Day 10- Testing the Legs

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 9:43 pm

Today was my only ride with much intensity between Pierre’s and the Epic. The mid-week workout on the training schedule between race weekends is never without a tiny bit of anxiety, because if it’s good, you know everything is on track, and the next weekend will likely be kickass. If it’s bad, then the next weekend is uncertain- I’ve definitely had my legs turn around by Thursday and Friday. I’ve also been in a hole.

Since Saturday, I’ve done everything I can to help my body recover from Pierre’s. Today, it was apparent that it’s paying off. I felt like there was no altitude.

We tried a few trails near Victor. I’d seen what looked like a nice singletrack climb on a local internet trail map. We rode several miles on a violently undulating powerline road before turning onto the real climb. It was incredibly steep, occasionally rocky, usually washed out, and covered in moto tracks. We alternated between pushing and riding for a half mile (average of 13% grade for the 1/2 mile). Unfortunately, we were low on water, and I was thinking about not totally wearing myself out. So, we turned and rode back down.

I hate that. Live to fight again, though, right?

Some people would have hated our ride today. We were on an exposed, steep powerline gravel road for a while. Then, we pushed and fought with a blown out moto trail. I don’t get why people hate rides like that. They’re hard. They aren’t flowy, smooth, or even technical in any sort of way that most people think of as rewarding. It’s a mountain bike ride, though. They aren’t always pretty, smooth, ride-able, or anything else that people long for when they come across trails like this one. I’m going to have dreams about what I missed by not fighting all the way to the top.

Ryan, picking his way down a sketchy, rocky/rolly descent:

 

The next climb:

August 7, 2012

Day 7- Recovery

Filed under: Out West Trip,Training — Andrea @ 6:43 am

Sunday was all about recovery.

I woke up stiff and sore, had breakfast at a local place in Victor (lord, I’d forgotten about green chili on eggs), and got a kickass massage. As soon as I was finished, it was off to Jackson to pick Ryan up at the airport.

We hung out for a little while in Jackson and had a late lunch/early dinner at a Thai place. While we were there, some bikers took a liking to my haircut. Enough so that one guy asked if I minded if he took a photo. I didn’t care, and I took one of him, too.

Speaking of mohawks… the Curiosity Mars rover landed successfully. Why is that speaking of mohawks? Well, this guy was the flight director: Bobak Ferdowsi. Maybe now, the mohawk will be seen as more of a sign of rebellious intelligence rather than social rebellion. On the other hand, there’s also the off chance that every hipster and wannabe will now decide that mohawks are the ultimate in irony. Time will tell.

Anyways…

Once we were back in Victor, we rode over to the pump track. I freaking love pump tracks.

Afterward, I waded in the icy creek for a few minutes to put the finishing touches on the recovery trifecta (massage, ride, and icebath).

The recovery road to Breck Epic is off to a screaming start…

August 5, 2012

Day 5- Pierre’s Hole Pre-Race

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 10:21 am

The day before a race is always a mix of nerves and recovery.

Friday morning, after a few cups of coffee, I took the Enve wheels off of the singlespeed and readied the Jet for its first endurance race. The decision to ride that bike hinged mostly on the descents in the PH race loop- one 20 minute long downhill from the Targhee Ski Resort to the valley floor and multiple other fast, sweeping ski hill trails. The full suspension provided an extra band-aid for my unfamiliarity with prolonged high-speed descending.

After a quick spin (I found a pump track!!!!) and bike wash, Amanda and I drove down to Moose Creek, an ice-cold stream fueled by snowmelt. It’s colder than any icebath I’ve ever had back home. Then, lots of relaxing with podium legs, dinner, and Maddie the dog…

August 2, 2012

Roadtrip Days 3 and 4

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 4:44 pm

Yesterday and today, my riding included a healthy portion of the Pierre’s Hole loop.

I’d previously been highly undecided as to whether I’d race the 50 or the 100 mile version of the race. Other than Amanda, the NUE-bound contingent at this one is thin. Not that I ever think a podium is inevitable, but the chances are better than usual for me. After a slow start to my NUE season, the points and press from a podium finish would be really helpful. The press, especially. Getting a mention in Cyclingdirt or Cyclingnews is always a nice ego boost.

However, looking ahead (and back, for that matter), my focus is the Breck Epic, which starts on the 12th. With my recent periodic bouts of difficulty in recovering from hard racing/training, the prospect of recovering at altitude from 100 miles of racing at altitude is a risk that could leave me starting a 6 day stage race with some leftover fatigue.

I made my decision while I was riding the singlespeed on Wednesday. Fifty miles, full suspension bike. Focus =self preservation for Breck Epic. I’ve learned in yoga class to not let ego take control and jeopardize well-being. Turns out, this can apply to bike racing as well (instructor Debbie is gonna love reading this one).

The course is a 25 mile loop based from the Grand Targhee resort. It’s beautiful, though I’ve figured out that I have little to no skill at negotiating the steep, groomed 180 degree switchback turns in the downhill direction. Those don’t exist in any place I’ve ever ridden (save the Super D course at Winter Park two years ago), so I just don’t have enough trust in the relationship between my front tire and the berms to maintain mach speed through them. I foresee a local person or two yelling at me on Saturday when I brake like mad and roll around them nice & slow.

Today, I rode the Jet. I’ve always thought it was fun, but I’ve never really pushed its limits. I probably didn’t on today’s ride, but I got a lot closer than my previous rides around Memphis. That bike lives for courses like this one. The PH50 might as well be billed as a Marathon super-D race. I’m excited.

Also today, there was a wildfire somewhere in the area. When I left for my ride, the entire valley was filled with smoke. Kinda reminded me of the summer haze back in Memphis…

July 28, 2012

Preparation

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 1:55 pm

While I’ve been anxiously awaiting my trip west for Pierre’s Hole and the Breck Epic, I realized at about 4pm on Friday that I’m leaving Monday morning. Suddenly, it’s time to taper training and start packing. I also came to the realization that the Element is f***ing filthy on the inside, so I’m gonna hit it with some upholstery cleaner and armor-all at some point this weekend.

The weather in Memphis is brutally hot, humid, and polluted this year. I’m not one to complain about the heat, but physically, I can’t deny the fact that I’ve felt the sucking of all energy from my lungs and legs during the hotter rides. So, I’ve spent a good bit of time either grinding out miserably hot endurance miles on the road or doing intervals on the trainer. All the while, I’m watching reports from facebook friends of pristine singletrack, mountains, and blue skies absent of any of the grey haze that settles in on our worst days.

Amanda Carey has been doing intervals here:

 

Vicky Barclay? She’s somewhere where there’s mountains. And a pool.

Cheryl Sorenson is a New Englander, so her rock gardens don’t turn into a summer jungle like the ones I frequent in Arkansas.

 

I once heard a story that in some far off European country, the professional cyclists would, in the winter time, ride a trainer for hours a day, with nothing to listen to other than their breathing and nothing to look at except for a bare brick wall in front of them. The idea is that not only did they have strong legs, but also a hard mind.

The last few weeks, for me, have been an exercise in the same spirit.

 

So all of you can have your mountains, blue skies, and swimming pools. I’ve been training Memphis-style, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything.

 

 

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