January 6, 2013

“The Rules,” a gentle reminder

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 3:49 pm

The trails are pretty soaked in a lot of areas of the country right now, so a lot of you are taking to the road for your training. Or, maybe (like me) you always employ a good deal of road riding in your training. Or, possibly, you are a road-only person who just likes to read my blog. Whatever it is, you should realize that there are some “unspoken” rules to road riding- especially when it comes to group rides. I figured now is a good time to cover a few that I’ve seen severely violated in the past few weeks.

Follow these simple steps to avoid looking like a douchebag:
-Safety: this is pretty easy. Obey traffic laws. Be predictable. Look way ahead and avoid obstacles so that you never need to make a sudden maneuver. This also makes the entire ride more “elegant” because you aren’t constantly yelling and pointing at crap in the road. You just follow the person in front of you, and everyone avoids everything without excess chatter.
– Nothing says, “I’m insecure with my ability to handle wind” like bringing your TT bike to a group ride. The group ride is not for time trial bikes. You don’t ride time trials with a group, so save it for your solo rides. (exception- that’s your only bike, in which case, your elbows never touch the elbow pads unless you’re leading the group or off the back of the group.)
– Nothing says, “I’m insecure with my ability to not get dropped” like riding carbon wheels during a group ride. In fact, the heavier your wheels are, the faster you look (bonus “panache” points for 32+ spokes and/or 25c tires).
– Bring your own flat repair stuff. Know how to change a flat without flatting your new tube. Women- this especially applies to you.
– Shave your legs.
-If the temperature is <50 and you’re not wearing anything on your legs other than shorts and/or you wear summer gloves, you don’t look tough. You look dumb.
– The only form of (slightly) acceptable sleeveless jersey is a previous year’s team kit with the sleeves cut off. It may only be worn if you are at least a cat 3 road racer or cat 1 MTB racer, and only when the temperature is >90 deg F.
– Nothing says I DGAF about anyone like wearing headphones on a group ride. Yes, even one headphone.
-Know when to retire your shorts. Just because they don’t have holes in them doesn’t mean the person behind you can’t see the hairs of your asscrack once you start to sweat.
– There will be one or more “senior,” well-respected, “been around forever” members of the group ride who will tell you if you’re riding in an unpredictable or otherwise incorrect manner. Whether you like what that person says or not, shut up and do what he or she says. The only time you talk back to this person is to thank them for the help/advice. I can’t stress how terrible you look when you mouth off to someone who has been racing bikes since before you were chasing cheerleader tail in high school. You know how bad kids look when they talk back to their parents and act like brats? It’s like that, except that you’re a grown man. Respect your elders. Some day, if you’re lucky, you might earn that status. ‘Til then, shut up.

Addendum: I know a lot of riders who put in big miles. That’s great if that’s your thing, but if your goal is to win road races, and you’re a cat 4 or 5, your races are nowhere near as long as the century rides you like to brag about on facebook every weekend, and they’re a helluva lot faster, too. Nothing wrong with just enjoying a full day of riding a bike at all, just don’t tell yourself (and everyone else) that’s it’s getting you prepared for the first 35 mile road race of the season.

Now, go out, ride hard, and get fast.

January 2, 2013

Feed the Ego, Starve the Soul

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 7:16 am

I’m not entirely compelled to write a “New Year’s” or “I rode 6500 miles last year, blah blah blah” post here, seeing as I don’t really celebrate any holidays (it’s not just Christmas- I’m an equal opportunity grinch). I just don’t see the point in getting really drunk and staying up late in the name of “celebrating” the fact that, for at least the next 3 weeks, I’ll be writing the wrong date on any and everything. I’m just really glad that the holiday crap is all over now, people are going back to work, and thus, fewer crowds will be in the roads and stores that I need to use in order to successfully navigate my day.


Since I last posted, things have been quiet around the house. I managed to ride outside some, though the weather has stayed pretty terrible. The thermometer is chronically stuck at 40 degrees, and I think I’ve seen the sun about twice in the last week. Luckily, one of the trails near my house is very sandy, so it drains well, and can usually be ridden after about 48 hours of drying (yeah- “drains well” is pretty relative. 48 hours is fast for Memphis winter trail drying time).

Yesterday, Ryan and I went out for a 3 hour road bike death march. No matter how fit you are, if all of your most recent rides are filled with intervals and <1.5 hours, riding steady for 3 hours at a more aerobic pace will make you ache all over. During the course of the ride, I swore off all future attempts to try and ride with anyone male unless I’m planning on riding at a pace that’s n+10% harder than what I’m planning on implementing (attempts to road ride with other women are sworn off by proxy since I found out that all Memphis women who are fit/competitive apparently dislike me). I digress.

It seems like every time I go for a ride with one or more other people (Poolboy Matt excluded), someone feels compelled to break Rule #86. Instead of just chilling the eff out and enjoying the simple fact that he’s riding a bike, this person needs to prove to everyone else that he’s faster. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, it’s not impressive. It’s obnoxious (especially since the situations I’m thinking about right now involve guys who I’ve raced against/beaten within the last year).

I’m not swearing off group rides by any means, I’m just changing my expectations from, “let’s go out and enjoy riding bikes,” to something more along the lines of, “if I ride with someone else, it is because I’m looking for a pissing contest.”

Enough ranting for now. Worlds training is chugging along, and the next 4 weeks and 1 day should prove to be some of the most challenging. Every day seems to take forever, but the weeks seem to fly.


December 29, 2012

Next Stop, Louisville

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 8:33 am

Prior to the State Championship Cyclocross race, I was training pretty hard for cyclocross (yeah, I know, seems like an obvious statement), but I wasn’t totally “set” on gunning for another try of the Master’s World Championship in late January. Something about winning the State race finally made it click, though.

The weather sucks pretty bad right now. We had a great run of nice weather up until early this week when the cold snow/rain started. Now, the extended forecast is pretty Belgian. Think I’m just trying to be Euro-cliche?


So, I’ve been on the trainer. The weather-bourne necessity of riding a trainer is something that makes or breaks racers. If you blow off workouts, you don’t get faster. It’s as simple as that. While you’re skipping interval day because (like yesterday) it’s 35 degrees and raining all day, your competition is doing this:


I put my headphones in, crank the Swedish House Mafia/Glitch Mob station on Pandora, and stare at the World Championship colors until the stripes burn into my retinas.

Along the same line, I was getting my latest ink worked on at No Regrets on Thursday, and told Joe (my artist) about the upcoming race. After a little brainstorming, we decided that if I win some stripes, he’ll fill the bottom flower of my half sleeve in the World Championship colors…


So, motivation has been found. Big time. In the next 5 weeks, I’m going deep into the rabbit hole of lactic acid and blurred vision, and hopefully finding the podium on the other side.

December 14, 2012

2 Weeks In

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 1:29 pm

Two weeks in to the “no work” adventure (the initial pre/immediately-post time period doesn’t count since I was busy taking care of everyone else and being injured), and, not only have a settled into a routine, but it’s becoming apparent that even in such a short period of time, it’s paying off.

A lot of people have asked how my training has changed. Well, it’s just hard. To give you an example, I got on the trainer Tuesday night to do a 2nd interval workout of the day (and 6th in the span of 8 days). With State Championships this weekend, it was my last hard training before a series of recovery/tune-up workouts to get prepped for Sunday.

Actually, I didn’t do a recovery ride on Wednesday like I was scheduled. I’m still confounded by how every day seems to be a complete time vacuum, and ended up doing what I’d been putting off for several days- a lot of laundry and shopping for new bedroom furniture. Success on both fronts- the clothes are clean, and new furniture (including Tempurpedic Rhapsody mattress) will be delivered on Tuesday!

Yesterday was a Z5 “tune up” during which I realized that I’m going to go fast this weekend. I also finalized the design on the Brickhouse Racing kit from Nimblewear. Micheal from S2N Design helped (and by “helped,” I mean “did all of the work”) turn my loud, purple dreams into a houndstooth reality. Here’s a proof, though the computer screen doesn’t get the colors right AT ALL. The purple and pink are much deeper and darker on the real thing:

Today is another recovery day, to be spent going to yoga, shopping for new sheets, and cleaning the bedroom out enough that I can get the carpet steam cleaned on Monday. Onward & upward!

December 11, 2012


Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 3:40 pm

I need help picking colors for two Industry Nine wheelsets.

The easier one will be a mountain wheelset- the type with the baller I9 hubs & spokes and a black aluminum rim (the rim I’ll get is not a stan’s rim as pictured in the link, but the other options are the same). I’ve already settled on purple hubs, but the spokes, I’m not 100% sure on. I was thinking that black, gold, and purple should all be included, though I’m not sure as to what extent. My bikes are black (Air 9 RDO) and black & white (Air 9 CYA SS), and my kit will be purple and black.

The one I can’t make up my mind about is the road wheelset. Once again, I’ll have my choice of I9 hub color, but the spoke options are either black or silver with whatever color nipples I’d like as well as either black or silver for the rim. I want flashy without trashy, and this is the bike they’ll be used on most of the time:

Don’t say red. Red is way overdone.

December 10, 2012


Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 6:59 am

Yesterday, I started realizing the importance of post-workout recovery. Not that I didn’t know it was important before I started doing more of it, but it’s become much more apparent this week. My training schedule wasn’t too crazy- 4 of 7 days dedicated to intervals (though the number of intervals performed during each workout has increased vs. my previous training). Like I mentioned in my previous post, I generally get home, eat, and rest a little while following each workout.

Lo and behold, yesterday I get to interval workout #4 of the week, and I am banging out 3 minute power numbers as if I’m NOT at the end of a hard-ish training week.

On the commute home, I thought of training as being like a savings account. Every interval is a deposit into the account. The harder I make it, the bigger the deposit. Then, good recovery following a workout is like raising the interest rate on the account. The outcome of bigger deposits and higher interest is more money… er, speed.

Then, later on that afternoon, I lit a starbucks cup on fire in my driveway with a propane torch. Pro Gold towels aren’t as flammable as you’d think they are.


My first “big” test of the CX season is the Tennessee State Championship next weekend. I’ve generally been avoiding the Tennessee races because they are further away and a lot of them are single race weekends. So, I’m not totally sure about what to expect, competition-wise. I know that there are more fast women than what I’ve seen so far this season, so it should be a good one.

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.
(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.

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:¬†(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)

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