brickhouseracing

December 6, 2012

Settling In

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 3:06 pm

Now that I’ve surpassed both pre-Thanksgiving stress and during-Thanksgiving injury, I’m finally getting into a training/resting/other stuff routine (other stuff includes eating, cleaning, errand-running, and/or a multitude of other 30-60min tasks. It’s taken a couple of weeks to generally classify days under one of two schedules: 1) yoga, errands, snack, ride, lunch, clean, kick back, dinner prep; or 2)ride, lunch, kick back, other stuff, dinner prep.

Of course, there are exceptions, like today, where I went to the store at 6:00am, met with Joe & Joel at Outdoors, Inc. headquarters at 10 to sort through some of the details of 2013 sponsorship, then came home around 11:30, snacked, rode, and now I’m eating some leftover sweet potato chili for lunch before I watch some terrible daytime TV and take a nap before I get up, maybe do some race-prep for Journey Cross, then start on dinner.

I have to say, it’s an interesting slice of psychology to undergo stress from having your normal routine flipped onto its head- even when it’s for super-awesome reasons. I can’t say I wasn’t going a little nuts at first, but I’m getting more comfortable with it day-by-day. The post-ride eating and rest feels vital to survival at this point, seeing as Coach has increased the volume of intervals during my training. I feel a nap coming on.

 

November 28, 2012

5 Stages of Injury Grieving

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 12:03 pm

Stage 1: Denial
“I’ll get this stitched up so I can be back on the bike tomorrow”
(Tomorrow rolls around) Substage: Restless energy
“It’s probably best if I take one more day off. It’s still a little sore”
(Tomorrow rolls around again) Substage: Bored/totally unproductive
Ride easy. Pain returns to original levels.

Stage 2: Anger
Come to the realization that I’m worse off than I wanted to think I was.
F(&^@$(*&^K!!!!!!!
(Lots of other random cussing) Substage: Drink wine

Stage 3: Bargaining
I’ll happily give you one more day off if you promise not to hurt the next day. I’ll even ice you all day and try not to walk around too much.

Stage 4: Depression
I’m supposed to be starting down a path that could lead me to be a pro cyclist and I can’t even ride my bike. I’m not working. I don’t feel like doing anything to take care of myself or the ones I care about.
I’M A USELESS SHELL OF A HUMAN

Stage 5: Acceptance
I don’t know how long I’ll be off the bike, but I’m not going to keep re-injuring myself by going back early.
Find other stuff to do to keep myself busy. Substage: shop for Tempurpedic mattress
Feel afraid to eat in fear of gaining injury weight.

 

As a less cryptic update, yesterday afternoon, I decided I’d try an easy ride. I felt OK, though the pressure of my cold-weather tights was uncomfortable on my busted knee. Within about 10 minutes of arriving home (it was a 1 hour ride), the movement of pedaling was incredibly painful in the area under my kneecap (the stitches felt fine). I ended up going to an orthopedic doc at Campbell Clinic to get it checked out again. He confirmed that nothing is broken, the cartilage feels fine, and the ligaments aren’t damaged. It’s just a bad bruise. In the meantime, I’m on the injury-induced emotional roller coaster.

It should be fine soon enough. I’m just over-reacting.

 

 

 

 

November 26, 2012

Thanksyllamo 2012

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 9:48 am

It’s going to be a bit of a long post, but I figured since the stuff that happened before the termination of my Thanksyllamo weekend wasn’t incredibly interesting, I’d just hit the high points and get to the (blood)gushy stuff.

After a fun Strava-hunt road ride with Ryan, Matt, and (Matt) Robbins (home from PT school for the holiday), Ryan and I got to packing the singlespeeds to make the drive up and over to the cabin in Mountain View. Last year, we started the tradition of inviting friends to the cabin for riding, eating turkey, and all the requisite shenanigans. I brine & roast a turkey, cook other traditional holiday food, and it’s generally declared the “best turkey ever” before everyone passes out on the couch/recliner.

We arrived in Mountain View Thursday evening. WalMart was bustling with employees getting ready for the black friday sale that was starting 2 hours early (preparations included pallets of stuff wrapped in plastic lined up in the aisles with tags saying “do not remove until 10PM” as well as various balloons showing customers where to start lines for bigger ticket items, like the 952in TV and whatnot). We collected what we needed for dinner and got up to the cabin to enjoy some wine, football, and turkey brining. Later that evening, Matt made it over as well.

Friday, we rode the green trail and most of the orange and blue trails. The highlight of the ride was likely the discovery of the beaver dam just downstream from the 3rd creek crossing… and by “discovered,” I mean we were about halfway across the creek when our bikes nearly floated away, and we had to wade through thigh-deep water to the other side. Just past that, there was a huge tree blocking the trail, and, further up, a re-route of some sort that led to us getting out of the woods onto a logging road in an unusual spot. We were out for about 3 hours before we went back to the cabin to meet up with Zandr and start cooking dinner.

Dinner was awesome, by the way:

Saturday morning, we decided we’d wait until Kenny arrived from Memphis before we rode. I gathered some tools and went back to the beaver dam/tree-blocked area of trail and cut a re-route from the main trail to the low side of the dam and back up to the main trail just past the fallen tree. Other than some finessing of the steep section just before the large tree (it’s too soft/steep, so in order to prevent excess erosion/blowout, the trail needs to be a more gentle bench up the side of the hill rather than a straight shot), the re-route should keep the riders and the beavers happy.

When I arrived back from my trailwork, Kenny was at the cabin, and everyone was getting antsy to ride. We decided on a lap of the yellow trail, starting with the “easy” side that climbs from the middle trailhead up to the red trail before dropping back down into the fun/rocky section. Once on the trail, everything was going well. I was leading the train as we hit the first mini-garden of rocks. I rolled though with no problem, but just on the other side, something caught my front wheel and teleported my bike off to the right, slamming me left knee first onto the ground. It hurt like a mofo, and, for a minute, I sat on the ground doing this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gz02QZSNPY (sorry, some glitch in the wordpress matrix is keeping me from posting the actual video here. It’s an all ages video, so click away)

Being chilly out, I was wearing knee warmers. I’d hit my knee hard, but, my usual M.O. is to not look under the knee warmer when I fall. However, just a few minutes up the trail, Matt stopped for a flat tire, and I noticed that there was blood coming out of the knee warmer. Uh-oh.

I decided I was going to go back to the cabin and take care of it. However, by the time I rode back 1/2 an hour and drove 15 min to the cabin, it was still bleeding, and the pain radiating out from my kneecap was ominous. I decided I’d go to WalMart in search of a walk-in clinic, or at least some butterfly strips that I could use to close it up.
I arrived at the pharmacy and, as I’d expected, there is no walk-up clinic at the Mountain View WalMart. I explained my situation to the pharmacist, and he said  that the only place I could get stitches right now would be the emergency room, but he’d be happy to take a look at it and tell me if he thought I’d need stitches. When I pulled the top of my knee warmer down (I’d changed out of cycling clothes otherwise, but the knee warmer was doing a good job of absorbing blood), the cut oozed out enough blood to make the pharmacy tech, who’d also come out from behind the counter out of morbid curiosity, gasp and say, “bless your heart!”

Pharmacist: “How long ago did this happen?”
Me: “Uh… close to 2 hours ago?”
Pharmacist: “If you want this to stop bleeding and heal up faster so you can get back to riding, you’re gonna need 4… maybe 5 stitches. Those butterfly strips aren’t gonna do too well on something that moves as much as your knee.”

Well, crap.

So, I purchased a first aid kit and some other random supplies. I made a deal with myself that if I went to the ER, and it was packed with people, I’d go back to the cabin and try to patch myself up. If it weren’t busy, I’d go in and get a professional to do so.

I walked in, and the waiting room was totally empty. The check-in lady blessed my heart at least 3 more times before they took me back to a gurney and cleaned everything up for evaluation.

A lady who was trying to pass a kidney stone came in just after me, so I think the doc looked at her first, because I was waiting in there a while. He decided on 4 stitches and an x-ray since I was getting a nice bruise and some swelling on my kneecap. Luckily, the x-ray was clear.

The nurse handed me a Tylenol-3 prescription, which I refused and told him I was going back to the cabin to sit in the recliner with an ice pack and a glass of wine. This wasn’t totally true, as when I arrived back at the cabin, I found the four guys (Ryan, Matt, Kenny, and Zandr) pacing around the kitchen like starved animals and snacking on anything that didn’t require cooking. I warmed up leftovers and made fresh cornbread before officially retiring to the recliner for the remainder of the night.

I’d hoped that by getting stitched up that I’d be able to ride a lot sooner, but it’s slowly becoming clear that the badly bruised kneecap/under kneecap area is going to cause me much more pain and suffering than a few stitches. Instead of riding with Kenny and Ryan on Sunday, I went home early with Matt and laid around watching football and periodically icing my knee. I’m bummed, and I’ve got no idea when it’s going to not hurt enough to ride again. At least the weather is crap today. I had to take Turbo to the vet to get a small mammary tumor removed & biopsied, so I’ll probably lay around in my pajamas the rest of the day and attempt to edit some GoPro footage into a cheesy montage while I wait to hear back from the doc. Here’s a picture of some cuddling dogs to pass the time…

November 19, 2012

Memphis- a Rant

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 6:36 am

Since I’ve told people that I’m focusing full-time training and racing, I’ve been bombarded with the same two questions:

Are you leaving Memphis?
Me: No.
Why not?!?

Why? Why would I need to leave?

I’m going out on a limb and assuming that since Memphis isn’t A) exactly overloaded with people racing bikes (relatively speaking, of course) or B) a pristine city in the mountains, people generally think that is somehow going to be a limiting factor to my performance.

Well, guess what… I like it here.
It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s not pristine. The closest thing to a mountain within a bike ride of the city limits is a steep, 200ft hill on the north end of the county. A “large” women’s field for a mountain or CX race in this region is 6 people.
You know what all of that means? You have to want it to succeed here. This city is ripe with excuses for why you can’t be competitive with the chicks that are going on epic 6 hour rides through the Rockies and racing against fields of 20-50+ on a weekly basis. I hear it all the time… “oh, those guys from the mountains kicked my butt because I’m from Memphis.” No, those guys kicked your butt because while you were off feeling sorry for yourself because it’s 98F and 98% humidity with a code orange Ozone air quality alert, they trained harder than you.

I’m the person that’s hoping for an epic thunderstorm during a race. I want a 25mph headwind. I like rocks and briars. I live for conditions that cull the weak and wannabes from the field. Memphis is, in a way, a selective condition.

 

So, no. I’m not leaving Memphis. I’ll do a fair amount of traveling to Arkansas to ride the techy stuff at Syllamo. I’ll ride, for hours on end, the beautiful rural roads just outside the city, and I’ll get faster than the ladies who “have it easy” in the mountains.

M.E.M.P.H.I.S. (content warning- don’t click that if you don’t like rap music. It will be offensive to you. I don’t use drugs, shoot people, or pimp anything other than bike parts. I just like the first line of the song @30sec in)

November 10, 2012

Holy s(&*

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:21 am

I’m slowly coming to the realization that in a few days, I’ll no longer be a part of “normal” working society. This, along with the incoming good news in sponsor support I’ve received is nearly overwhelming at times. I’m also a little surprised by how supportive the local cycling community is. Not that they aren’t a great, friendly group of people- it’s just that I wasn’t expecting them to be so genuinely happy to see me bypass the “what ifs” and go all out in pursuit of my dreams.

I’m every synonym you could possibly imagine for “excited” with a dash of “terrified” thrown in just to make things more interesting.

In the immediate future, tomorrow is the Outdoors, Inc. Cyclocross race. Unfortunately, there’s also a USGP race in Louisville this weekend, so unless someone headed there takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque, the Nashville contingent (and several Arkansas racers) aren’t likely to show up in Memphis on Sunday. After that, I’m generally sticking to more local/regional CX racing.
Zandr asked this morning why I don’t pursue high-end CX sponsorships. Well, I love CX, and I love being in the pain cave for 45-50 minutes at a time, but after traveling all over for a long season of mountain bike races, I’m ready to keep it local(ish) for the winter months. Unfortunately, local(ish) in Memphis means racing a handful of women who like to start slow/in the back (read last Saturday’s race report) and the occasional Men’s race with <20 entries. Not exactly what the bigger companies are looking for marketing purposes. My biggest races this season are the Tennessee State Championships as well as Master’s Worlds at the end of January. It’s going to be interesting to maintain/build top end power for the duration of the winter training season, but it’s not like I won’t have the time ;)

 

As cheesy as it sounds, I saw this on Facebook this morning, and it makes me think of my upcoming adventures:

 

Expansion ~~From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: A social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what we are inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically ‘un-contained’?

 

November 3, 2012

The Next Episode

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

Ok, so earlier in the week, I made mention that I was quitting work to begin training more. It’s a decision that Ryan and I have made after a fair amount of deliberation over the last few months. Being a professional cyclist has been a dream of mine since the first time I pedaled a bike as an adult. Right now, I’m good. I’m fit enough to win regional stuff and get an NUE podium when the right people (don’t) show up. I’m not content with this. I feel as though I’ve reached a bit of a plateau in my ability to get faster because of both the time and physical demands of my job (as a mechanic, you’re basically on your feet for 30-40 hours a week).

Now for the realistic part- I could do this and still fail. I might reach a genetic limit and not get a lot faster than I am now. I’m aware of this. I’m OK with this, too. It won’t upset me to know that I tried as hard as possible, but there’s no way for me to be as fast as the women I want to race head to head with. I also realize that there’s not much money in cycling- ESPECIALLY women’s cycling. I’m not looking to make money. I’m basically looking for it to no longer cost me money to race. So, I’m giving it two seasons, then re-evaluating and making future plans. ‘Til then, I’m going for it.

On the sponsor front, exciting things have been happening since Interbike, and, surprisingly enough, very little of it Interbike related. My main sponsors will be Niner Bikes, Industry Nine, and Outdoors, Inc. A couple of local guys are the US distributors of Nimblewear Clothing, and they’ve offered to make a kit for me. It’s going to be black & purple. I love purple.

These companies are all being very generous in their support. While you enjoy reading the next chapter in my great cycling adventure, the best thing you can do right now is shop with my sponsors. Tell them you appreciate their support of Brickhouse Racing (and whoever else they sponsor). The important part is that they make money because of the relationship they have with my racing/blogging. Your money helps them make aspiring cyclists’ dreams a reality.

I’m in the process of figuring out what races I’m targeting. So far the list includes the Whiskey 50, Trans-Sylvania Stage Race,  Breck Epic Stage Race, and XC/Marathon National Championships. There will be more, but those are the ones that are on the radar for now.

October 30, 2012

Show of hands…

Filed under: Around the shop,Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:37 pm

How many of you have been around here since the blog beginning?

The Kenda road team days?

How about back during my short stint on the Metro Volkswagen team followed shortly after by a nervous breakdown which led me to mountain biking?

My first 100?  (You know… the Cohutta ’10 with all the rain and thunder?)

My first road trip to Colorado? Second?

Just started reading today?

 

How about that time that I decided I’d quit working my “normal” job in the bike shop and dedicate most of my free time to racing and training in an attempt to become a professional cyclist?

 

 

 

Wait, what?

 

Cannondale SuperSix EVO

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 11:49 am

I’ve had this bike since about the middle of the month, but it’s taken some tweaking to get it exactly how I like it. Essentially, this is the most awesome road bike ever (ok, if it had a set of carbon clincher wheels, that would be awesome-er, but that’s just splitting hairs). It’s equally as stiff as my previous bike- the BH Connect, but much lighter (some of that weight is frame, some is components). It makes me want to climb hills all day.

Here’s the original spec from Cannondale’s site. As you’ll see below, I swapped the stem/seatpost (the post that came with it looked janky and the stem was only 90mm, so I got the matching EC90 set from Easton), saddle (0nly one I like to ride), chainrings, and tires (the Mavic griplink/powerlink tires were scrawny- a hair under 22mm wide, so I installed some Maxxis Padrone tubleless tires). Final weight- 14 pounds, 3 ounces…

 

October 28, 2012

PMS Awareness Day

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 3:56 pm

I’ve been wanting to bring this topic to light for a long time. However, since it involves a woman’s reproductive system, it is considered “taboo” by some. But, since a large portion of my readers are women or men who occasionally interact with women, I’m going to go for it.

For the last 17(ish?) years, I’ve suffered from premenstrual syndrome. It starts with a giant pimple (or two or three) on my face, then, over a period of 2-3 days, turns in to irritability, which escalates to terrible, wild mood swings, which are punctuated by cramps that make it feel as if my uterus is attempting to stab its way out of lower abdomen with its IUD (yeah, I just threw a birth control reference in there, too. Scared yet?) There’s usually an overlapping day of debilitating cramps and actual menstruation, but the bulk of the pain is prior to and not during.

I’ve not yet found a cure for this, and, judging by the lack of research on the topic, one isn’t likely to manifest any time soon. (maybe now that we’ve got 50 drugs to help men function sexually, women can get a little more attention from researchers). Some women have successfully taken birth control pills in a continuous manner to stop the menstrual period. I tried that, but all it did was make me have PMS with no actual period. I’m also not a fan of messing with my hormones via synthetic hormones. Apparently, if symptoms are bad enough, some doctors call it premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and are prescribing anti-depressants. Yeah, I’ll go ahead and pass on that one.

My own personal coping mechanisms involve trying to avoid situations that would magnify my mood issues, not talking if I feel as though I want to say something that might be rude or hurtful, and taking ibuprofen if the cramps get to “double over and fall down” levels of pain. Sometimes, (as you may have seen reference to on Twitter) I vent my anger by drinking a glass of wine and yelling angry feminist rants at commercials on primetime television. Otherwise, I always strive to maintain my normal activity. While it does occasionally interfere with my everyday life, I don’t see it as a handicap. It’s just a challenge that I (along with may other women) face on a regular basis.

So, ladies (and men who occasionally interact with ladies), how many of you face this challenge along with me (or know someone who does)? How do you cope? Comment here or on Facebook.

 

October 9, 2012

Yoga and Chainrings

Filed under: Around the shop,Training — Andrea @ 6:34 am

As I mentioned last week in my confessions, I haven’t been going to yoga as often or as consistently as I’d like to. I’ve definitely done better on the consistency part since I’ve been every Tuesday and Saturday for the last few weeks. I could squeeze in a 6am Thursday class  like I was earlier in the summer, but I’m not sure if losing the hour and a half of sleep would be 100% productive from a recovery standpoint. Plus, the 2 hours of cyclocross training on my current Thursday training schedule would be nearly impossible to complete if I wanted to be at work on time (at the Cordova store, we keep the shop open ’til 8 on Thursdays, so I’d go in at noon).

I did discover the most amazing class, though. Arline’s 10:30 “level 3″ Vinyasa Flow on Saturday. It’s unlike any other class I’ve been to- the music is a little louder, and the poses are often things I’ve never done. The entire thing is like one long dance, and most of the time, there will be at least one or two moves that I don’t yet have the strength/flexibility to do more than attempt. Not that all yoga classes aren’t challenging, but this one takes the challenge up to notches I can’t yet reach, and I love it!

In bike-related news, I discovered a huge first world problem involving plans for my new road bike. Seems that a compact rotor chainring in size 52t won’t fit on the Quarq made for the Cannondale Hollowgram crank:

I’m thinking about exchanging them for a set of CX-sized rings, but I’m 100% sure yet. I’m a little sad that I’m going to have to settle for some less-sexy, round FSA chainrings. First world problems, right?

Yesterday, my plight garnered a little ribbing at the shop, and, as I poke fun at myself here, I can be glad that I have these problems now. “Eat or pay bills” is not the easiest way to get through grad school, but it did give me a greater appreciation for the easy life I lead now.

 

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