Off-Season Shenanigans

It’s been a few years since a dabbled in adventure racing (2009… a Solo Sprint and a longer CoEd Team race). I enjoyed it, though, as I’ve become more focused on mountain biking, my adventure race interest slowly dwindled. I haven’t done any running (other than the few seconds of running in CX races), and I definitely don’t perform orienteering/pace counting very accurately. I did, however, start feeling a little antsy the first time I saw a FB friend post a link to this:

2013 Knoxville Tennessee Adventure Challenge

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It’s basically a 6-hour time limit adventure race that takes out two of the biggest things that keeps people from wanting to try adventure racing- the orienteering (navigation with a compass, topo map, and pace counting) and the laundry list of required equipment (to participate, you only need running shoes, hydration pack, mountain bike, and helmet). All of the paddling equipment you’ll need is included with your race entry, and, while the course isn’t marked, you follow a pre-marked map to get to the checkpoints.

Once I figured out that I wasn’t going to take cyclocross quite as seriously this winter, I decided it’d be the perfect thing to make for some fun off-season training. Tuesday afternoon, I went for my first “run”- 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes jogging, 5 minutes walking. Hey… you gotta start somewhere! My strategy is to build up to at least a 10 mile trail run by the first week of October. Easy peasy. Last time I decided I wanted to do something related to running, I went from super bike-fit to running the Ouachita 50k in exactly 1 month’s time. Of course, I could barely walk for 5 days following that race, but I figure there’s no way the adventure race course will include 32 miles of running, so I should be safe.

It’ll be a really fun change of pace before I get bundled up and back into my winter adventures.

A well-recovered weekend

After taking it easy for a week following the trip back from Breck, my legs were feeling good, and I was ready to get some structure back in to life. Time off following a hard race is great at first, but always makes me feel lost and floaty after a couple of days. I have a hard time getting anything done because the lack of structure makes organizing tasks feel like a game of 52 card pickup.

So, on Saturday, I set out with Matt on a ride to the Stanky Creek trails and back via the Wolf River trails. I felt fine, and had enough fun that I did it again on Sunday with Ryan. We rode to meet some of his teammates at Stanky Creek for a hot lap before heading home. Nearly 8 hours of riding for the weekend followed up with some H.A.M. intervals on Tuesday felt like a nice trip back to normalcy. To polish off a fun few days, I went to No Regrets yesterday to get part of my left arm half sleeve colored in with World Championship Colors…

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I’ll post tattoo photos once it’s all healed.

This weekend, I’m off to Ackerman, MS for the Skool of Hard Nox 50 miler. I’ve never ridden in that area, so it should be fun to get out and discover some new trails. Speaking of discovering new trails- I’ve been in talks with David Wilson from Nuclear Sunrise. He’s going to help get me set up for some bikepacking adventures this fall. I’ve spent the last two winters dead set on racing Worlds. This year, I’m not discounting the fun of cyclocross, but I do plan on diversifying my fun into the “go to the woods for a few days” category.

Since I’ve been back…

Random Stuff

-Shingles: OMG, painful. I went to the doctor on Monday, and she confirmed my self-diagnosis from earlier last week. This shit hurts- it starts with a burning, stabbing muscle/skin pain, then erupts into a rash that feels like someone took your skin off with a belt sander. The treatment is Valtrex (yes, the same stuff that’s used to treat all sorts of herpes infections) and an antiviral/lidocaine pain relief ointment. Only, I didn’t get the ointment because it costs $300 AFTER INSURANCE. So, I’m basically gutting out the extreme pain with ibuprofen and the occasional shot of whiskey. It’s terrible and frustrating, because my insurance would easily cover a large portion of the cost of an oral narcotic pain reliever, but NOT a topical, non-narcotic one. I don’t take the narcotic stuff- it’s addictive, and the side effects are terrible. I feel like it’s a conspiracy to both punish people with genital herpes and also take advantage of the elderly (who are usually the ones who suffer from shingles). Side note- when you’re 32 and you show up at the pharmacy with a Valtrex prescription, the pharmacist will assume you have genital herpes then get really embarrassed when you correct her with, “no, it’s shingles.”

-My Cannondale Supersix EVO is still f*cked: If you aren’t aware of the shitstorm that this bike has put up, start here: EVO Saga, then go here: EVO Saga Update. After that, they sent a COMPLETE BIKE out to me, promising that this one would work, so all I needed to do was take the parts off and keep the frame. It also didn’t work, and I later discovered that they’d just taken a defective frame, “run a tool on it,” and put it back together with the BS honed out bearing cups to pass off to me as a working bike. I was pretty livid, and they promised me that if I could wait until the mold was fixed, they’d send me a new production frame later in the year.

So, in the meantime, I’ve been riding a defective frame with a PF30 to GXP adapter. It works, but it also involved me disassembling one of my CX bikes for BB/Crank parts.  As you can imagine, I was excited to hear that a warranty frame came in while I was in Breck. As you can imagine, I was pretty pissed when the bearings in this frame felt just as bad as the bearings in every other frame they’d sent, AND the warranty tag even had a date on it of March 4th, 2013- It wasn’t even a new frame as they’d promised. My reaction was to call the rep that’s been helping me out (bless his heart), and calmly but sternly say that I’m done with this, it’s obvious that my standard for how a bottom bracket should function and Cannondale’s standard for how a bottom bracket should function are too far removed from each other for either of us to be happy in this situation, and that I’d like a refund.

Side Note- my personal standard is simply, “bearings feel the same installed into the frame as they do when they’re not installed into the frame”

It sucks bad, because since I employee purchased the complete bike, I’m going to end up paying far out the ass for a different bike since I’m no longer an employee at a shop. Also, aside from the bottom bracket thing, the Supersix EVO is one of the most killer bikes I’ve ever ridden. I just can’t deal with a company that’s repeatedly tried to treat me like I’m some sort of idiot by sending me half-assed fixes for the same problem.

-In “not everything is bad” news: I stopped by the Oasis Bike Shop yesterday (Go take a look at the link and come back before you keep reading). Wow… they’ve got a huge, amazing operation there. It’s literally a warehouse of bikes to distribute throughout some of the poorest communities in Memphis in exchange for community service. They also sell furniture and appliances, as Ted put it, “at a price just high enough to give a sense of ownership.”
Memphis needs all of that. If you’ve got bikes, bike parts, time, and/or money you’d like to donate, get the contact info from the link above. Heck, if you’re local, I’ll even come pick that stuff up from your house and take it there for you- just email me and let me know -andrea at brickhouseracing dot com (turn that into a normal email address… gotta keep the spambots away).

-It’s about time to break out the CX bikes!!! Local calendars: Tennessee and Arkansas. It looks like my best bet for getting to anything before the Outdoors, Inc. race in November is to hit up some Arkansas races since Jonesboro and Little Rock are a good bit closer to me than anything in Tennessee (All the middle TN stuff is >3hours away). As an added bonus- most of the Arkansas race days are set up to where I can race both the women’s race as well as the Open race. Then, of course, there’s this: Cyclocross National Championships in early January. I’m still up in the air on that one. I’d have a good shot at a decent finish in both women’s SS and Master’s races (I’d probably race elites, too, but the goal there would be more like “don’t get lapped by Katie Compton”) I’ve spent the last two winters so focused on prepping for Worlds that I’ve missed out on a lot of prime winter mountain bike riding. Then again, it IS pretty early in January…

 

That’s the rundown of what’s keeping me busy since I got home from Breck. It’s always hard to assimilate back to normal life after being gone for nearly 3 weeks. I still need to unpack, and I haven’t ridden or gone to yoga class yet. Hopefully today, I’ll get that sorted out.

Closing In

As the time to leave for Colorado is closing in, everything is falling into place for the trip. I had a just-challenging-enough three day block of training at the end of last week, which left me with weekend recovery days. I’ve felt lately that my body is becoming somewhat stunted in its fat metabolizing abilities (main symptom- if I go out for a training ride, I feel kinda lethargic until I get 100 or so calories of sugary stuff into me).  So, Saturday and Sunday morning, I did what I’d like to call “Hell on Earth” rides, where I essentially got out of bed, into cycling clothes, and onto my bike before eating anything or drinking any coffee. The goal is to force the body into revving up fat metabolism in order to have the energy for exercise. Like any sort of training, it’d probably work better if I did it more often, but it’s a special sort of suck that makes riding, even for just a low-intensity hour, pretty dreadful. It’s not totally terrible to have a reason to eat extra Gu Chomps during the course of my ride.

That has to be one of my favorite things about not working- I can do longer/harder training outside of the weekend, then spend Saturday and Sunday screwing around doing “weekend stuff.” For instance: I decided we need crepe myrtles in the yard (if you’re from The South, you won’t have to click on that link). Through a fair amount of research, I learned that it’s possible to make new crepe myrtles from cuttings of old ones. And, just my luck, my parents had the exact color that I was hoping for…

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I went to Lowe’s and bought potting soil (even buying in to the special one that’s supposed to be good for this sort of thing) and some rooting hormone powder. Once I was back at their place, my dad took a variety of old/new cuttings, we powdered them, and stuck them into some pots.

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Since I’m about to leave town for a few weeks, my parents agreed to daily watering and care. Hopefully, about the time I’m getting ready for the first cyclocross race of the season, I’ll also have a few crepe myrtles to plant in the front and back yards.

To go back to the whole “going out of town” thing, did I mention that I’M REALLY FREAKING EXCITED?!?!? The high mountains of Colorado are calling me. They felt like a magnet last time I drove out to Fort Collins and beyond for Natz. I prettymuch just had to wave at the giants and their puffy white clouds as I skirted around the outside of them along my way. I’m also extra stoked to hang out with rock star road sprinter Lauren Hall, who I used to race against “back in the day” when she lived in Mississippi. If you live under a “never-pay-attention-to-women’s-road-racing” rock, she’s essentially America’s female version of Mark Cavendish, except she’s not a total wanker. If this petition works, there’s a green jersey with her name on it.

Side note- if you haven’t signed it, then you’re not able to read my blog again until you have.

Of course, along with hanging out with friends, there is that whole “Breck Epic” thing that starts on the 11th. With the seriousness of the racing I’ve done so far this season, it almost feels like a race-cation to me. Don’t get me wrong- I take every race seriously. However, this one is kinda more of a 6-day singlespeed adventure with a party at the end than an “elbows out” barnburner like Trans-Sylvania.

Epic times are afoot!

 

Adventures in toe pain

For the past couple of years (at least, that’s as long as I can remember it going on), I’ve experienced a recurring pain in my outer two left toes. I’ve tried various shoes, pedals, insoles, bike fits, adjustments to bike fits, stretching/rolling of my leg, massage, yoga, adjustments via chiropractor, and, despite all of those things, the problem has slowly become more frequent, severe, and faster onsetting than in the past. So, with another bout of pain that put me off my bike during the 2nd climb at natz, I decided I’d try to seek medical help.

After asking around some friends, I was directed to OrthoMemphis. I saw a foot specialist who, looked at some xrays and said that there was nothing structurally wrong with my foot or ankle. He scheduled an appointment for a nerve conduction study & EMG, which I went to today.

Well, first I rode the scooter over to a local motorcycle shop (Performance Plus) for some scooter oil… I’ve put close to 800 miles on it since I bought it from FullFace Kenny

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Once I utilized the “master mechanic” skill needed to remove a cover and cap then funnel in a full bottle of oil, I then paced around the house until it was time to head up to the EMG clinic.

I had a “this is what’s wrong with America” moment in the waiting room while I watched a kid lay across 4 chairs listening to/watching music videos at full volume on his phone while everyone else crammed themselves into the 4 remaining chairs on the other side of the waiting room.

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Luckily, I didn’t have to wait for long. Back in the exam room, I donned a pair of one-size-fits-most paper shorts and crossed my fingers in hopes of finding some sort of diagnosis.

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After being shocked and poked with a needle in a multitude of places from back to foot, it was determined that all of my nerves are working properly. The doctor did, however, mention that my symptoms sounded as if my sciatic nerve was being irritated from sitting on it. He suggested getting a highly padded gel saddle to make up for the lack of padding that I’ve got under my backside. I didn’t feel like explaining about how terrible highly padded saddles can be, so I just smiled and took it as a complement to my fitness.

So, now the possible diagnoses include either that, or some sort of vascular problem that’s causing a shutdown of bloodflow to my lower leg. It’d be great to at least figure out the cause before I head off to Colorado again for Breck Epic so I can at least try and avoid some of the pain during the race. Between this, the continuing summer heat/humidity, and my occasional driver-induced anxiety attack…

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I decided to console myself with sushi lunch at Sakura.

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Mountain Stuff

Like I promised, I made my decision as to whether or not I’d go to XC Nationals based on my feelings in the drive home from Marathon Nationals. I’m 100% not feeling it. I want to focus my efforts on tuning back up for Breck Epic, which starts August 11th. After a little post-Natz break, I got back into some intervals today, and, even though they weren’t my best, they were promising, and it felt good to be getting back into a training groove after all the tapering/traveling associated with going to Idaho.

In random “badasses of Memphis” news, Billy Simpson, a local ultramarathon runner, finished the Hardrock 100 over the weekend – 18th place with a time of 33 hours, 14 minutes, and 47 seconds. As an occasionally vocal trail advocate, Billy has had his disagreements with the local 2-wheeled community in the past (some of which I’m more on his side than on others’), but, in the end, we’re all just looking for the next adventure. So, to Billy…

I can barely contain my Breck Epic excitement. To add to it, I’m leaving a week early and staying with another (formerly) local badass, Lauren Hall. I’m going to hide out in her basement and ride trails in her little corner of Colorado while I get through my initial throes of altitude adjustment. I always have a bad day about 2-3 days after getting up high before leveling off to just “more out of breath than usual,” so 5 or 6 days at 7,000ft should get me through that in preparation for Breck.

Motivation for things like Breck Epic is essentially what’s getting me through some of my rides right now. I’m still scared of being hit by a car on a regular basis… a fear reinforced by what seems like a rise in frequency of drivers being incredibly careless, reckless, and/or flat-out mean. I’ve been able to get it down to about 1 during-ride anxiety attack per week. Though I occasionally find myself feeling like I want to collapse in on myself like a black hole, it’s a combination of both my desire to be excellent and of sheer stubbornness that I won’t quit training on the road.

Can't Stop

Marathon Natz Road Trip Part 1

As I travel more and more, I realize why Dicky says goodbye to his blog during his trips to wherever it is Dicky goes. Even though I have at least a couple of times a day when I could probably write something, the motivation factor is pretty low. However, this morning, I’m trying to kill as much time as possible in Twin Falls (at 3700 ft of elevation) before going up to the Ketchum/Sun Valley area (5800ft).  So, I figured I might as well start to fill in on what it is I’ve been doing since Monday.

Monday was relatively boring. I drove the 10.5 hours to Hays, KS to get the first chunk of movement out of the way. Trip fueled by Three 6 Mafia Radio on Pandora…

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Tuesday, I got up and continued west to Fort Collins, where I met up with my coach for the last few years, Andy Clark. We actually hadn’t interacted in person since I’d first met him at the Winter Park Super D on my first trip to Colorado back in 2010.

We went out for a great ride that included a stop by 1 of 2  pump tracks in Ft. Collins.

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Fort Collins is someplace I’d love to spend more time. The city has embraced not only bike racing, but also bicycles as a mode of transportation for everyone- there are bike paths and bike lanes everywhere as well as (well-used) bike racks (and occasionally scooter parking places) in front of every business. Also, not only is Andy super-dad to his kid, he’s got a really adorable dog, too.

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Wednesday morning, I headed out towards Twin Falls, ID. I was on track to get there around 4:30 in the afternoon, but realized about 45 minutes from town that I’d left my cycling shoes in Andy’s garage. Needless to say, I didn’t get to Twin Falls until after 6. Between this trip and the one to Victor last year, I’ve realized that in mid-summer, Idaho is really hot, dry, and usually on fire.

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(the fields are all well-irrigated, though)

Once I arrived in Twin Falls, I took a couple of quick photos of the canyon before checking in to the hotel and going out for a ride.

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I’d noticed from the tourist-info overlook that there was what looked like a trailhead and singletrack that went from the road halfway into the canyon down to the river level (you can actually see it in the bridge photo above). I could see the trail from the trailhead then at the bottom of the canyon, but couldn’t see what was in the middle. I realized about 3 gnarly, near-vertical rock sections and one steep, narrow staircase into a hike-a-bike that, while there was not a “no bikes” sign at the trailhead, it was not a bike trail.

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(the stairs were actually the easiest part)

After hefting my bike back out of the trail, I cruised down the road to the park at the bottom of the canyon.

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As beautiful as it is, the entire area smells like sewage because of a water treatment plant that’s down there. It’s like a bathroom with sage-scented air freshener.

Thursday, I’d had all intentions of driving up to Sun Valley and pre-riding the Nationals course loop. However, one thing I’d failed to consider when I’d made my plan was that, by that time, I’d be absolutely exhausted of driving. So, instead, I went to a local breakfast place called Norm’s. I got crazy looks from the farmer clientele that filled most of the seats, but, as I realized back in Fort Collins, when I don’t get weird looks and I “fit” in with the normal crowd, I feel really awkward.

I stalked Strava and found some local trails called Auger Falls. Unfortunately, when I got down into the canyon (and past the water treatment plant), I found this:

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I climbed back out and crossed the bridge to see what was over there. I found some powdery moto trails and some very nice scenery

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After my ride, I had lunch and lounged around the hotel before picking up dinner and riding over to Cold Stone for desert before watching the city fireworks display from the hotel parking lot.

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So far, so good. Check out time isn’t until noon, so I’m gonna get a late breakfast as soon as this Tour stage is over. Without spoiling it, I’d say this is, tactically speaking, my favorite stage so far.

Yay, Summer!

I’m not sure if all of you realize it, but Swiftwick socks are, quite possibly, the best cycling socks ever invented. They have some compression to them, so they stay in place, they dry quickly, and they’re very durable. I wear the Performance Fives in the summer (they have a wide variety of styles and cuff lengths- just remember, the “four” length is the shortest acceptable cuff for cycling use. It’s the rules).
Side note- also, as part of “The Rules,” you should always wear the same length sock in order to cultivate a sharp summer tan line. Since Swiftwicks stay in place so well, they’re the best chance you have for creating lines to match the ones on your thighs and arms.

Anyway, I wear white socks on the road and black socks on the trail. However, in typical “you could mess up a crowbar” fashion, I got chain grease stains on my white socks. Not pro at all.

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Washing- even with a normal laundry pre-treater, didn’t budge the grease. I got an idea while I was washing bikes, though. I used ProGold Degreaser+Wash as a pretreater before I washed them, and, just like the chain on my bike…

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Magic.

In other road-related news, I had an underwhelming road ride fail yesterday. I set out around 8:15 in the morning with the ambition of riding 5 hours in a heat advisory by breaking the ride up into two loops with a break in the middle to cool off and refill my bottles with ice water. Unfortunately, from the first hour on, I basically became less and less able to produce any sort of power.
I did sprint very briefly when a driver right-hooked me as she turned into a parking lot for a closed down mall (she was using it to cut through to get to the nearby interstate on-ramp). If I’d not locked up my brakes, we would have hit each other. Unlike my previous post-rouge roubaix-wreck close calls that sent me cowering in the bushes in a heap of tears, this time something snapped. I sprinted after her, across the parking lot, with every intention of causing damage to her car and her person, should I catch her. She realized that she was in trouble and floored it- wailing her car over the multitude of speed bumps across the lot and turning out wildly into traffic on the other side. I was left panting on the other side of the lot like one of the angry dogs that comes screaming out of a junky house trailer  yard with all intentions of catching and destroying both you and your bike.

I digress.

The heat destroyed me yesterday. With good reason-

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A heat index of 119 is nothing to eff with. There’s nothing you can do to train outdoors as usual in that sort of condition- no amount of acclimatization, hydration, or toughness can prevent you from overheating when it’s like that because the humidity prevents sweat from evaporating off of your body, thus negating your body’s “go to” method of cooling during physical activity. So, since that sort of weather pattern is a summertime staple, I’ll be setting the trainer & fan up in the living room soon. My strategy from last summer is to do the lower intensity volume on the road then hop on the trainer as soon as I get home and polish off some intervals. It’s not the most fun way to train, but the subtropical climate is balanced out by being able to train outside for a majority of winter- something that people further north do less of because of similarly extreme winter weather. I’ll take extreme heat any day over that stuff.

ADDENDUM:

(NSFW language)

In better training news, on Tuesday I rode my singlespeed for the first time in a while. It’s not hard to fall in love with that bike again after taking a bit of a hiatus to race the geared bike for everything so far this season. The Niner Air 9 CYA frame is killer stiff. After riding the slightly toned-down RDO frame for a while, it’s like getting back into your track day-only car when your daily driver is already a Corvette. I’m excited to one-gear it up & down some mountains in the near future.

2013 Road Trip #3

In a week or so (haven’t totally settled on a day), I’ll be heading out West for Marathon Nationals. A few years ago, I raced my first Singlespeed race at Marathon Nationals in Breckenridge, CO. I had a good time and ended up 3rd.

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This year, with a lot more training in my legs (and likely a bigger field), I’m hoping to improve upon that. Since the course is at altitude (not super-crazy Breck altitude), I’m changing up my acclimatization strategy. I’ve come to realize that the first day I’m at altitude, I feel like a rockstar- as in, “damn, the air here isn’t totally humid, so I feel awesome and can pedal really hard.” As is expected with normal human physiology, that feeling fades after about 24-36 hours. So, for the race at Sun Valley, I’m planning on avoiding altitude until the Friday evening prior to the race. In order to do so, I’ll pre-ride a little on Thursday, but spend most of the time leading up to the race in south Idaho (3-4K ft of elevation). It’s going to involve a lot of driving , but I’m hoping it will pay off with killer race-day legs.

Afterward, I’m gonna jet back home, recover, and, along the way, contemplate as to whether or not I want to pack up and make the haul to Cross Country Nationals in Pennsylvania less than a couple of weeks later. It’s really going to depend on my results and the degree of either contentment or angst that they produce. Considering the degree of heat, humidity, and poor air quality we get around Memphis that time of summer, it’d be a nice break to go train someplace where there’s just lots of heat and humidity. Otherwise, I’ll be mixing it up on the trainer like I did last year (not so bad, really… there are much worse things than a quick morning indoor interval workout).

For now, I’m enjoying the relatively nice weather. Yesterday, I went out on what was probably, at 112 miles, my longest ride to date. Initially, I wasn’t sure how long of a route I’d need for my prescribed 6 hours, so I started off with a 100 mile course that I’d previously completed in 5 hours, 15 minutes then tacked on an extra loop at the end. I felt strong the entire time, but I’m incredibly glad that 6 hour road rides aren’t a regular thing, because I was prettymuch ready to by sitting on a couch and not a bike by about hour 5.
Side note- sure, I’ve done my share of MTB rides way over 6 hours in the course of NUE races. This goes back to my previous post about training on the road, though. During a 6 hour ride, I had 27 minutes of coasting (you can look this metric up in training peaks or any other software that allows you to see how much of your ride was at a cadence of “0”). You can’t get that amount of pedaling if you’re only riding trails.

Today I’m laying low, going to a yoga class, and sticking around the house to work on some bikes. My repaired I9 wheel is coming back today, so I’m going to set my singlespeed up in race mode and get in some non-shifting miles before Natz.

An Open Letter to Drivers

Ok, since hopefully a lot of the people reading this are non-cyclists and have no idea who I am or what I do, I’d like to start with a little introduction of myself. I’m a professional cyclist. It’s my job to get out and train on my bike in order to do well at races and therefore sell things for my sponsors. I train about as much and as hard as any pro football player, but I get “paid” with equipment, race entry fees, travel expenses, and, occasionally, about as much money as what a pro football player makes in one hour. 99.9% of cyclists that you encounter are doing this for fun- just like you play golf, video games, lay out by the pool, read, drink alcohol… whatever. It’s a very enjoyable hobby and means of staying healthy.

First, I want to acknowledge that some people who are reading this will remain “unreachable.” This person generally falls into one of two categories- one will immediately hit the “comment” button with some sort of “I hate you, get out of here, you deserve to die” message. This person  likely goes through life expending lots of energy hating lots of things and people, including the terrible person on a road bike who he/she almost hit because he/she needed to pass NOW, and the cyclist is just “in the way” of their car.  The other sort of “unreachable” person views the road as a “motors only” zone, cyclists as idiots with death-wishes, and doesn’t believe that it’s his/her responsibility, as a driver, to watch out for slower moving vehicles (yes, a bike is a vehicle) on the roadway. This person will defend those views with the same fervor that the members of Westboro Baptist church defend their own views on who has a right to get married. If that applies to you, I’m guessing you could save your time and energy by just not reading the rest of this letter.

Now, for the 99% of you drivers out there who, based on my assumption, are normal human beings experiencing a range of normal human emotions when you, in your car, encounter a person riding a bicycle on the road. I just need your attention for a few minutes.

I’d like to start by addressing the issue of the cyclist that everyone (including law-abiding, non-jerk cyclists) dislikes. I’m talking about the guy (or girl) that’s disobeying traffic laws, running stop signs, speeding through school zones, riding the white line to get in front of traffic at stoplights, etc. Also included in this category are the groups of cyclists that erratically morph all over the roadway- often crossing the yellow line into oncoming traffic and/or taking up more than one lane on the road, and running redlights. I’m not justifying this behavior in any way, I’m just gonna say that drivers also do dumb things and break traffic laws. There’s not much that you or I can do about it, so how about we just let dumb drivers and dumb cyclists cancel each other out in this instance. Deal?
Side note- Not included in the “dumb” group are the cyclists (or groups of cyclists) that take up one single lane of the road. While it may make it harder for you, in your car, to pass (more on this in a second), it’s a self-preservation thing. If I ride in the gutter, I’m inviting you to attempt to pass me very closely when there’s oncoming traffic (a.k.a. “Buzzing” me). Getting buzzed is dangerous and freaking terrifying. It’s why there’s a law in Tennessee stating that you must move over to the left lane of the interstate for a stopped emergency vehicle. Cars coming close to your body are dangerous.

While we’re on the topic of passing, I’d like to bring up the fact that Tennessee (along with a lot of other states) has a “3-Foot Law.” It just means that you need to put 3 feet between your passenger side mirror and my body when passing. You know what, though? Only leaving 3 feet is kinda like having only the minimum amount of flair.

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If you could, when you pass, pretend like I’m the size and shape of a tractor. The big difference between me and a tractor, of course, is that if you brush up against the tractor with your car, your car gets scratched and dented. If you brush me, I could die. Just think about maybe letting off the gas and getting all the way over in the other lane. That’d be amazing, and would make everyone’s lives less stressful and a whole lot safer.

Now, I realize that this brings us to the sorest of subjects between cars and road cyclists- on a curvy/hilly/busy road, sometimes you have to wait for what seems like forever to pass. This is when I really need you, as drivers, to bear with me. I’m not going to start spouting off about “I’M A CYCLIST AND I HAVE  RIGHT TO RIDE HERE BLAH BLAH…” I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that most of you know that it’s legal to ride a bike on any roadway that isn’t marked otherwise. I’m just asking you to think of waiting to pass me by comparing the situation to other, non-car-related life situations.

For example- you’re at the grocery store, waiting in line. The lady in front of you pulls out a checkbook when it’s time to pay. The cashier doesn’t even KNOW how to deal with this because, let’s face it, who the heck still uses checks?!? It ends up taking FOREVER to make the transaction, and, all the while, other shoppers are piling in behind you and wondering why on earth the line is moving so slowly. Do you, A) Start yelling at her that she needs to get a debit card like everyone else and quit wasting your precious time, B)Pull out a gun and threaten her for being such an idiot and holding up the line, or C) Roll your eyes and wonder why anyone would use checks, but otherwise wait patiently until she gets out of the way.

Maybe you hate that lady for doing something that she KNOWS is causing everyone an inconvenience. Does it mean that you’re going to try and intimidate or threaten her for doing so? Probably not. So, let’s relate this back to the cyclist thing. There you are, stuck behind a cyclist, going 17 mph in a 40mph zone, and there are too many curves in the road to see ahead to know if it’s safe to pass. Are you going to threaten the cyclist with a deadly weapon? (yes, your car counts as a deadly weapon) Are you going to act in a way that makes the cyclist think that his/her life is at risk, just because you are getting impatient? I’d hope not.

That’s really my point. I’m not going to ask for the pipe dream of drivers and cyclists riding off into the sunset together on the back of a rainbow-unicorn-pegasus. I’m just asking that when you come across a person that irks you because they feel the need to ride a bike on the road, just don’t be a jerk. Be a decent human being who has respect for the life, hobby, and, on occasion, the livelihood of the human being that’s causing you inconvenience and getting on your last nerve.

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