May 8, 2012

Boredom and Vanity

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 4:45 pm

Today has been a wonderful day off filled with not much more than yoga (Janet’s class was especially killer today) and an easy bike ride. After that, I’ve generally wandered around the house doing dishes, laundry, readying my road bike for the final Tiger Lane Criterium, and whitening my teeth…
(I caved to vanity after watching this video from
Andrea Wilson- Sick Rigid Singlespeed

In other media-related news, if you missed the link to the latest XXCmag podcast, check it here: XXCmag Podcasts I’ve now managed to weasel my way in to episodes 4,8, and 16. Pattern? I hope so.



May 7, 2012

In Limbo

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 8:20 am

So, if you listen to the latest XXC Mag Podcast, you’ll hear me talk about a lot of things having to do with both racing and the trafficking of cocaine via Amish horse & buggies. You’d also hear me talk about being intimidated by the workout I had on my schedule for Saturday- a 5 hour endurance ride that included an 8 minute ramp of intensity at the end of hours 1-4.

I thought that I was mostly recovered from the back to back race weekends. Turns out, I was wrong. My power numbers were well off of where they’d normally be for such a workout. By the last hour, my heart rate was staying elevated, no matter how much I backed off. After a brief respite under a tree (it was the first kinda hot/humid day of the year, too, so that wasn’t helping), it settled down, and I wrapped up the last interval and made my way home. For a second, I thought about heading home early. Then, I decided that the difference between pro and amateur was the last interval that seems nearly impossible.

Now, I’m staring down the barrel of Syllamo’s 125k and hoping that I can maintain some fitness while I recover from deep-rooted fatigue. It’s sort of a wait-and-see affair. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are recovery days, and I’ll try the legs out again on Wednesday in the last of the Tiger Lane criterium series. If I feel good, then I know that I’ve found the light at the end of the training tunnel. If not…

May 4, 2012

High Maintenence

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 6:17 am

Tuesday (my weekday off from work), I spent half the day taking care of myself. Not so much as in an, “oh, I raced hard, so now I’m going to pamper myself” sort of way, but more of an, “I need to do this stuff to function normally again” sort of way.
-First, the chiropractor. I’d originally started seeing a chiro when I had a neck crick problem. Now I go because he not only keeps my neck/back feeling good, but he also works out some of the knots in the muscles of my neck/shoulders. My chiropractor isn’t the type that thinks that chiropractic adjustments are the solution for World Peace or a cure for any diseases. He even laments to me on a regular basis that half of his clients don’t need him, they just need a diet and exercise. He does, however, agree that the weekly adjustments he makes are useful in keeping my rides pain-free.
-Next, massage. When you spend hours on a bike, stuff hurts. When stuff hurts, your muscles get tense. Then, you start using the muscle differently… either compensating with another muscle or not going through a full range of motion, you get little knots in the muscles, etc. A massage is huge in relieving that and helping you get back to normal function. It’s also very relaxing.
-Finally, physical therapy. On Tuesday, I graduated from PT for my fingers. The only one that’s still of much concern is the badly sprained middle one on my right hand. It’s still swollen, and it stiffens up when I don’t stretch it several times a day. PT consisted of heat, ultrasound, passive stretching, active stretching, and 15 minutes in the dry whirlpool (aka, the “corn machine”). He had originally planned to include strengthening exercises, but I tested out of those- even with a fracture/sprains, my grip strength measurements were above normal. Imagine that…
-After all of that, I ate some lunch and joined up for a chill ladies only ride.

It was a lot like overhauling a bike after dragging it thorough really nasty conditions.

Taking care of myself has been an ongoing process. When I began this endeavor, I didn’t realize how time consuming the act of maintaining one’s body could actually be… and I’m not even that good at it. Talking to the pros after races (when I’m still in kit and they’re cleaned and changed), I realized that even with as much as I do, I could still tune up my out-of-town diet, get a juicer (thanks to Jeremiah for that suggestion), address my tendency to eat/drink a horrible diet in the days following races (which sometimes spills over into a tendency to eat/drink a horrible diet following large training rides), spend more quality time with the foam roller on a daily basis, get more sleep, and do a better job of getting in recovery rides.

Like I said, cramming self-care into my schedule is an ongoing process of making time rather than finding it.



April 19, 2012

Tiger Lane Crit

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:13 am

I decided to add some interest to the intensity of my training this week with the Tiger Lane Criterium race. Given the difficulty of my upcoming races and how hard I’ve been training lately, I’d felt unsure about going. However, with all of the other women in town avoiding the race, I figured it was a pride thing and pinned my number anyway.

As many youngling roadies have discovered, criterium racing (click the link and scroll down a little if you don’t know what I’m talking about) is somewhat of a learned skill. Much like cyclocross, because of the added bike and pack handling skills required for crit success, it’s possible to have exceptional fitness but still suck at it. The physiological efforts of a fast crit is similar to cyclocross as well- most of the time, you’re close to threshold, with repetitive leg/lung searing attacks sprinkled throughout the duration of the race.

I haven’t been training for the attack-type effort, much less ridden in a crit since June of 2010, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. The “women’s race” was run in conjunction with the Cat 4 men- a group that can be somewhat unpredictable due to the variety of riders ranging from recently upgraded 5s, cat 4s for life, sandbaggers afraid of cat 3 racing, as well as  former cat 2s (yeah, I’m serious, there was a downgraded cat 2 in my race).

The course was flat, fast, and relatively non-technical. As we lined up for roll call, I did my best to stay stone-faced despite the fact that my heart rate was already above 130bpm. When the race started, I immediately stuck like glue to the first few wheels. My strategy was to stay near the front where the pace was smooth and I could follow the important moves. It was a good one- I barely used my brakes, and, though we were often 2-3 deep through the turns, everything was smooth. Even at high speeds, the group was surprisingly calm and non-sketchy. I chased a few breaks and made a few of my own attacks. I couldn’t help myself…

About 3/4 of the way through the race, a small break formed. Noticing that it was the magical mix of 1 rider from each of the attending teams, I jumped and bridged. According to Ryan, we had a workable gap started as we rounded the home stretch. Even though we were killing it, for some reason, someone chased down the break. It was a total cat 4 move on someone’s part, because there was seriously a member of each team in the group (i.e. someone chased down their own teammate). Maybe they were mad that I was up there?

The last few laps were somewhat uneventful. A lot of riders were stuck in the back because of the breakneck pace. I sat around near the front until the former cat 2 rolled off the front on the last lap (and won). The resulting surge/sprint landed me somewhere in the top half of the field for the sprint.

Given the situation, I’m pretty stoked on the whole thing. I’ve still got the crit skills on lock, and that sort of intensity will do wonders for my upcoming racing endeavors. Unfortunately, because of said races, I don’t think I’ll make it back to the crits until the last of the 4 race series. Big thanks to the 901 Racing guys for putting on a great race AND including a women’s payout!

April 18, 2012

Unsolicited Advice for Active Women

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:55 am

I might catch some isht for this, but I think it’s worth saying. Guys, you don’t have to read. This doesn’t really involve you.

Over the weekend, I worked neutral mechanical support for the Los Locos Duathon. While I was there, I was amazed at the number of beautiful, strong ladies who were not taking care of themselves.

Ladies… I’m talking about your breasts here.

I saw so many cases of breast abuse during the run portions of the race that I wanted to start a neutral breast support tent. Do you WANT them to be friends with your belly button by the time you’re 50? Seriously?!

If you’re female and still reading, let me give you some sage advice. If you have larger than pancake-sized boobs, the same sports bra that you wear for yoga class, yardwork, lifting weights, or even cycling will NOT work for running. You know that feeling of something smacking you in the chin with every stride? That’s your breasts- it’s not good for them, and it’s not necessary. There are awesome sports bras out there, but you aren’t going to find them at Target for $20. Educate yourself. Do a little searching on the internet, then head down to your LRS (local run shop) or LBS (local bra shop) and start trying things on. Your boobs will thank you.

My other sage advice is this…

Well, it’s more of an etiquette/self respect  thing…

Triathlons are places where you’ll see people wearing very little in the way of clothing. It makes sense- it’s a sport that involves swimming. It’s hot. Etc. See below:


The triathlon-friendly swimsuit. Makes perfect sense. Should you wear one to a duathlon? I’d hazard a guess that if any female triathlete showed up to a duathlon in her favorite tri-suit that no one would bat an eyelash.

However, if you’re green enough to multisport that
A) You consider bootyshorts to be “close enough” to traditional tri gear that you can ride a bike in them
B) You attempt to run the wrong direction out of transition
C) Your pre-race warmup includes bending over and touching your toes while the guy in line behind you at the portajohn is looking embarrassed and diverting his gaze.

You should probably reconsider your choice of clothing, so that people aren’t snickering and giving you this look:

April 13, 2012

Membership Drive

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:07 am

If you are the type that just reads and leaves without poking around in the sidebar (giggle), take a second to click on the Facebook and twitter links. If you follow/like, you not only get the usual links to new blog posts, but little training updates like this one from yesterday:

“Just finished my 19th and 20th hours of training in the last 7 days, and I managed a set of 3×10 intervals with power numbers that I’d be proud of if I were rested. Holy damn.”

I hope noone took that the wrong way- I wasn’t trying to brag or show off. I’m just really, really happy to see hard work starting to pay off. The aforementioned 20 hours was a lot of base training with several searing doses of intervals thrown in for good measure. Yesterday, I was tired and sore from the previous rides. I struck out on a 2 hour ride not knowing if I’d be able to achieve my usual wattage for 3x10min intervals, and, if I did, if I’d be able to keep the numbers consistent for all three intervals. However, I’ve had some of my best training rides when I’m tired and sore from lots of training, so I was hoping that would be the case.

I hope that my successes in training carries over to the races. It’s definitely promising, at least for the Breck Epic stage race later in the summer. For now, it’s rest and recover for the upcoming races- Slobberknocker (75 mile Arkansas Gravel Grinder) and the Cohutta 100 (first NUE race of the year).

April 10, 2012

Hybrid Rides

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 5:50 am

I’ve always felt a tiny twinge of jealousy when I see some of my facebook & blogger friends post about epic off-road training rides that they can do from (sometimes) right out their back doors. Living in Memphis does have its pluses, but close proximity to endless hours of singletrack isn’t one of them (luckily, one of the good things about Memphis is its close proximity to Arkansas).

Because of this, I do most of my training on the road. I like my road bike (if you’re new here, scroll back to 2008-2009 and check out some road racing adventures), so I don’t mind road training. However, with my busted fingers, I’ve been unable to operate the brakes on my road bike. The mountain brakes are fine, though- I’ve got enough range of motion, and they’re strong enough that I can do anything on my mountain bike. So, I spent all weekend on the Air9RDO with my powertap wheel.

…and by “all weekend,” I mean 5 hours both days with another 5 hours on tap for today. To those of you who assumed I’d be laid up because of injuries, you were very, very wrong.

I’ve taken to riding from trail to trail, which makes for some very entertaining training rides. It’s pretty fun to switch from “steady” to “trail mojo” periodically during a ride. It’s also been fun getting to know the new A9RDO a little better. All bikes have a personality. If this bike were a man, he wouldn’t be the one you’d take home to meet your parents.

My fingers are slowly getting better. A follow-up visit to the ortho doc resulted in getting the go ahead to be splint-less on my right hand. My left index and middle fingers have to stay taped together for another two weeks to allow the fracture in the middle one to heal. Looks like I’ll be “whole” in time for Slobberknocker and Cohutta weekends.

April 4, 2012

3rd Place Curse

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 8:18 pm

I’ve got quite a collection of 3rd place finishes from “big” races.

It all started with Marathon Nationals in 2010:



Then, in 2011, I kept the Bronze collection strong.

Spa City:

Mohican 100:

Fools Gold 100:


2012 has been the year that I’ve stepped up the mediocrity… starting off with a Master’s World Championship Bronze:

Then, more bronze at Spa City:

…and, to polish it off, a cute little 3rd place quartz from Ouachita:


Yes, being able to podium at a race is something I’m thankful for.
On the other hand, always being on the lowest step is something that is sprouting a deep seeded discontent somewhere in between my liver and my stomach. It had only been a mild annoyance before, but when I heard the latest XXC Podcast with (relatively new) pro endurance racer Jonathan Davis, I really started to feel restless. Among other things, he talked about his dedicated training and recovery routine. I feel like I have a similar desire to dedicate my life to racing a bike much like he has, but I also feel like I’m stuck someplace in between the dream of becoming a professional bike racer and the reality that I can’t quit my day job unless someone magically calls me tomorrow and offers me a pro contract.

I don’t want to sound like I’m discouraged, because I’m not… more like really anxious and a little frustrated with a touch of impatience thrown in. So, this season, I’m hoping/training to get at least another step up… if not see the top at least once at something other than a regional level race. Sure, my goal of “World Domination” might seem a little ambitious at this point, but at least it gives me something to shoot for.

March 25, 2012

…and the weekend

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 7:53 pm

As I mentioned previously, yesterday, I polished off a nice training block with some 10 minute intervals. The intervals were excellent, BTW. Given what I’ve done in the past 7 days, having season-best power numbers is very reassuring.

Today, I woke up early and went out for an easy recovery ride. Spring has officially started around here…


After that, I went to a killer yoga class. I learned the “Bird of Paradise” posture. I suggest you browse this site to find an example.  Following a few hours at work, I came home to relax and watch Sugardaddy Ryan and Poolboy Matt as they finished up some yardwork…

Actually, Ryan was trying out some new line fittings for his wort chiller. He’s started quite the homebrew operation in the kitchen/hall closet.

The remainder of the week is mostly resting up for next weekend’s Ouachita Challenge. Looking at the start list, this isht’s gonna hurt.



March 23, 2012

Doing Time

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:32 am

Yes, it’s been a hot minute. It’s because I’m doing a moderately high volume stretch of training right now. The last week has been something like this:

Saturday- 3hrs with a (new) weekend worlds group (big thanks to the guys from 901Racing for accepting me in my exile)
Sunday- 5hrs base training
Monday- Recover
Tuesday- 5hrs base training/yoga
Wednesday- Recover
Thursday- 20 min intervals/yoga
Friday (today)- yoga and a recovery ride
Tomorrow- more intervals

So, rather than post here, I’ve been getting out and enjoying the extra warm March we’re having.

Five hours is a long time to ride a road bike. Luckily, unlike riding a mountain bike, which requires constant attention, riding on the road is an excellent time to let your mind wander. Tuesday, I found myself pondering the similarities between humans and domestic dogs. Let’s face it- like dogs, humans used to be wild animals. Our ancestors were physically capable of killing large, wild animals and defending themselves against large, wild animals. Now, like dogs, it seems some people are more physically adapted to fighting with the lever on their recliner


…while, on the other end of the spectrum, other people are breaking world records on a regular basis


It was good for about 2 hours worth of mind wandering. On a similar note, whoever says that Memphis sucks for road riding, hasn’t found the right roads…




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