brickhouseracing

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.

 

October 6, 2012

Still Waiting

Filed under: non-bike,Training — Andrea @ 7:07 am

I know that everyone is waiting and watching my blog every single day for news about what’s up & coming for 2013 (jeez, 2013? It’s just now starting to get a little chilly, and I’m talking about 2013). In case you actually are, the only update I can give you is that yesterday, I got news that almost makes me want to get my hopes up. However, I’ve made that mistake in the past, so for now, I’m just going to talk about pets and stuff.

For all of my roadie friends who read, keep watching in the next couple of weeks. I’m getting one of these. I actually ordered it back in August, but it won’t ship from Cannondale until the 8th. The first order of business? Take the super-pimp one-piece spider/chainring set off of the Hollowgram crank and install this (with a set of Rotor chainrings, which are also on order):

Of course, I’ve been super excited about getting it. Yesterday, the excitement really hit home when I was working on a customer’s several-years-old carbon road bike and realized how the graphics and bigass carbon weave look a little dated. My BH Connect looks very much the same way. Don’t get me wrong- I love that bike. We’ve done a lot of ass-kicking together, and it really is an awesome bike- it’s super stiff, and the fit is perfect. I can only imagine that getting a new bike will be much like a police officer getting a new partner when his old one retires. If it’s anything like my Cannondale SuperX, I won’t be disappointed.

In less exciting news, my “no wheat” experiment is going well. I can’t say that I notice any difference in overall health or wellness, but it has removed a source of high-density calories from my diet, so I’ve lost a small amount of weight (consistently 1/2 a pound of morning weight lower than before I started). I made wheat-free chicken nuggets the other night by taking gluten-free pretzels and crushing them in the food processor before seasoning them, dipping them in egg, then rolling them around in the pretzels. I baked them for 15 minutes, but I’m guessing you could pan-fry them instead if you’re so inclined. They were pretty delicious baked.

And, because everyone loves animal photos, here are some of  Indy and Thor kitty. Thor is the most awkward sleeper, ever.

 

October 2, 2012

Confessional

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 2:52 pm

It’s been since the Breck Epic that I used a foam roller.

I haven’t had a massage since I was in Breckenridge.

I haven’t visited my chiropractor since August.

I’ve developed a strong affinity to having a “glass” of wine most nights (a pint-sized wine glass counts as a glass, right?)

I haven’t obeyed the old adage “Don’t walk if you can stand. Don’t stand if you can sit. Don’t sit if you can lay down” following my first few hard rides back into training.

It took me a long time to get back to going to yoga classes on a regular basis after my trip West. I’m back at it now, but a change in my work location means that I’m only getting to class 2 days per week. I have no other excuse except, “I haven’t made time to do more.”

 

In other words, somewhere in the past few weeks, I fell out of the habit of taking care of myself. It finally caught up to me on Sunday when I couldn’t bring myself to finish a 4 hour ride because I was too exhausted. I ended up riding 2.5 hours and going home to recover.
It’s nobody’s fault but my own. So, like fixing a yard that’s been unkempt for months, I’m tackling one issue at a time. Sunday following my partially failed training ride, I ate, picked up dog food, then sat on the couch for most of the afternoon. The last two nights, I’ve spent about 20 minutes with the various roller-type devices to work the knots out of my hips and thighs. I drank the last of the wine last night, and I probably shouldn’t buy any more for a while.

The other stuff, I’ll work on. I transferred over to the Outdoors bike shop on Poplar (in East Memphis- a 20 minute drive vs. the 5 minutes to Cordova), and the hours of the shop are different, so I don’t have the long mornings a couple of days a week like I did before. As a result, I’m having to choose between recovery ride, yoga, or chiropractor (a massage has been out of the question). Usually the ride wins out. I know all of this stuff seems like absolute “1st world problems,” but, as someone trying to be faster than everyone else riding a bike, they’re hurdles I’m going to have to clear.

Along the way, I’m trying to make small changes to the way I eat. I’ve recently decided to give up wheat for a month. I’ve read enough educated guesses and anecdotal evidence to think that it may be a good idea to get carbohydrates elsewhere. I suggest you do your own research and see why- there are plenty of arguments both ways.

So, the recovery “lifestyle” train is slowly getting started pulling its load of fall training volume. It’s almost overwhelming to look ahead, but I’ve been here before, and it’s totally doable.

September 29, 2012

Cross Hiatus and Winter Plans

Filed under: Trails,Training — Andrea @ 6:16 am

It wasn’t until I was making a fall/winter race schedule out that I was reminded that Master’s Worlds aren’t until the end of January. Last year, the season felt like it went on forever while I was getting ready for The Race at the beginning of January. Also noted while I was compiling my schedule- there’s a plethora of regional mountain bike stuff happening in October.

With the exception of the “undecided” weekend of the 11th, I’ll likely end up not racing cyclocross until November. Here’s what October’s looking like so far:
-13th/14th: Cyclocross in Little Rock or the Six Hours of Herb race near Memphis on the 14th. I can’t decide which I’d rather do. I get kinda bored with long lap races and the amount of prep they take in their execution, but it wouldn’t involve traveling.
-21st: Race to the Canal in Kentucky. I’ve never done a point-to-point race. It looks like a bunch of fun.
-27th: Berryman Trail Epic in Missouri. Never done it before, but it’s always been on the radar. There is always a strong women’s field, so it should be tough in a good way

Now that I’m sitting down and typing this out, it seems to make more sense to race cyclocross the weekend of the 13th- mostly because the recovery period following a weekend of racing cyclocross is much shorter than racing the hell out of a 6 hour race. The last thing I’d want is to line up for the final weekend and feel like I’d rather be at home in bed.

Also on the mountain bike horizon: The Eagle Rock Loop. A long time ago (in a galaxy far away, no less), I ran the Athens-Big Fork trail marathon. It is, to this day, still one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I remember thinking afterward how impossible the trail seemed for a mountain bike (at the time, I hadn’t ever really ridden a bike, though). Now, Todd “Antique Gun Show” Henne and I are in the “yeah, that sounds cool” phase of planning an adventure that includes riding the A-BF trail as part of a 27 mile loop. It should be almost impossible, but not quite.

 

Also a goal this winter? Help the Syllamo trails. I’m feeling compelled to get in touch with IMBA and see what can be done in the winter to help the poor drainage and overgrowth that plagues much of the trail as it ages. Busy times ahead.

September 25, 2012

Clear Creek Challenge Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 5:47 am

Based on how sleepy my legs felt on Saturday after taking nearly a week off of the bike (including Interbike: 3 nights of sleep deprivation, 2 days of flying, and 2 days of walking/standing around on concrete), I knew that racing Cross Country on Sunday carried a strong risk of being a partial to total shit-show. However, Ryan and Poolboy Matt were looking forward to going down to Oxford for the Clear Creek Challenge race, and I didn’t want to disappoint. I figured at the least, it’d serve as a high intensity jump start back into training for Cyclocross.

The race course is largely rolling and flowy with a few bigger hills and a couple of lightly techy spots. Because of the rolling nature of it, the downhills and turns have a high ratio of reward for risk, and people who are familiar with the trail definitely have an advantage. I have ridden it a couple of times, but it’s been at least a year since then. I wasn’t sure how much the four other women had ridden it, but the group at the line included Laureen Coffelt, who never goes anywhere unprepared.

When the promoter gave us the “GO” signal, I momentarily attempted to implement my usual XC strategy of letting whoever thinks they’re fastest get the holeshot and going into the woods 2nd wheel behind her. However, the other women rolled it like they were starting a 50 mile road race, so I threw down the hammer and took the lead.

The initial portion of trail is twisty and fun. I don’t know what went on behind me, but I was able to build a lead by trying to stay way off of the brakes. I could still hear that the other women were close, and the trail constantly doubles back on itself, so there’s no “out of sight, out of mind” until you’ve got a heckuva lead. I kept pinning it until the trail was a little quieter. About 30 minutes in, the singlespeed leader (who had started a couple of minutes after me) caught up to me and let me know that Laureen was deep into 2nd and was a good bit behind me. I’d decided that I was going to chase down cat 1 men (who started 4 minutes ahead), so I didn’t let up.

The rest of the first lap was uneventful. I did my best to tune out the burn and stay off the brakes and eventually caught a cat 1 man. I passed through the start/finish area at just under an hour & 10 minutes for the first lap. I wasn’t sure of my lead until I re-entered the woods and heard someone yelling for Laureen as she was coming in to the pit area. Holy CRAP she’s close!

Pace-wise, I couldn’t push much harder. I was keeping up with nearly the same effort I’d started with, and still felt like I was flying up the hills. Feeling a little more confident with the dirt on the course, I kept trying my best to maintain speed and momentum. I kept seeing Laureen on the double-back parts of the course, and figured she was about one minute back… if I slowed down, I was dead in the water.

Thankfully, I didn’t slow down. Well, actually, about 1/2 a mile from the finish, my quads started to cramp like mad. Luckily, though, I fought through to finish in front, and was able to polish off another 1:09ish lap…

 

So, it was a good day. I like being pushed. I hope Laureen has plans to race some cyclocross.

September 5, 2012

Missing a good time

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

Judging by the photos and videos I’ve seen from face-friends, I missed a good time at the SM100 race.

This makes me a little sad- Shenandoah has always been a great race with an even better post-race party. Even though the race lost its  “final of the NUE series” billing, this year was no different. However, I’ve been in a slump since Breck. My legs felt fine within a few days of being home, but mentally, I’ve had little more motivation than to sit around and stare at the walls. I couldn’t bring myself to pack the car and get to the race. Maybe if I could have teleported myself and all my equipment there on race morning? It’s possible… there’s still that whole “Ride 100 miles” thing to get through, too.

This weekend, Ryan and I are going to Fool’s Gold. He’s gonna race 50, and I’m going for 100. I’m almost looking forward to it- the singletrack on course is a lot of fun ever since the trails were re-worked following the storm/mud debacle two years ago. Right now, there’s a 50% chance of rain on Saturday. My plan is to ride the geared bike, but the singlespeed is coming along as backup.

My bad start to the season, results-wise, kinda screwed me up for NUE series points. I’m going into this race with a similar feeling that I had before the super-awesome Wheeler/Stage 5 of Breck Epic- mentally vacant, physically unsure, and with absolutely nothing to lose.

September 4, 2012

Race relations and cycing in the greater Memphis area

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 7:00 am

First off, yeah, I’ve been bloggingly absent for a while. Isht happens, and sometimes I just don’t post. I’m sure you all understand.

This post is mostly about a revelation I had while riding with the guys from 901 Racing on Saturday.

 

If you’ve never lived (or spent some appreciable time in) The South, this might make it sound like everyone here is racist. We aren’t. However, The South has historically been a hotbed for racial tension in the United States. Warning- broad generalizations ahead: Because of this, the relationship between Caucasians and African Americans has an undertone of “us versus them.” It’s as if every person of one race defaults to “do not trust” until someone of the other race proves themselves to be “one of the good ones.” It goes both directions, and, in Memphis, is why there is a large amount of voluntary segregation in neighborhoods, churches, political districts, restaurants, and the like. As a (continuing) broad generalization, one group just chooses not hang out with the other one.

What my revelation?

Well, as a cyclist who often times trains on the road, I see my share of a-hole drivers. I’ve been yelled at, had things thrown at me, and, occasionally, someone threatens to hit me with their car. The people who do this are (whenever I can see the driver) white people. Also, as a cyclist who often times trains on the road, I’ve encountered some very kind people. While stopping for a water break, I’ve been offered breakfast, received invitation to join a church service, offered a ride when it was cold and rainy, and waved to/ cheered for by kids. All of those nice things? All black people.

Why? I have no idea. I didn’t post this to make speculations, I merely thought it was a very interesting observation. I like traveling out of The South because I like going to places where ethnic background is an afterthought when going through everyday life. I try to be that way wherever I am. I guess I wanted to post this because it makes me feel warm & fuzzy that when I ride my bike, some people’s kindness makes up for the abuse that other people see fit to dish out.

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.

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