Crank Therapy

I was debating as to whether or not to post this because (to paraphrase my parents), sponsors and employers don’t want anything to do with someone who has “issues.” I’m taking a leap of faith here in assuming that those people understand that everyone has issues, and the act of posting about mine allows my growing blog audience to understand that the fight to try and be competitive at the highest levels of my sport  is, well, sometimes a fight.

The past few months have been mentally tough. I was experiencing a random, spastic carousel of mental states and attempting to level them out with copious amounts of beer. The one thing keeping me “sane” was getting the job in the Outdoors bike shop. I absolutely love, with every fiber of my being, being a bike mechanic. I spend most of my Sundays daydreaming about going to work on Monday. Also, having really great coworkers is icing on a really badass cake.

The past few months were a repeating cycle of  workdays followed by a somewhat uncontrollable desire to ingest alcohol. As of late, though, I’ve felt much better- more of a fun and gently undulating roller coaster of emotion (kinda like the old Zippin Pippin- the highlight of a trip to Liberty Land, the now closed amusement park lovingly dubbed “Six Flags over Orange Mound” by Memphis residents). I’ve traded triple corkscrews and loops for small highs and lows… I can deal with that. Heck, that feels pretty damn normal by my standards!

It took a minute to figure out why, but I’m reasonably sure that it’s the addition of higher training intensity into my pre-season program. Something about the perpetual tear down/recover cycle takes a bit of the edge off and makes a drinking binge seem much less desirable than when I was on a diet of endurance pace riding (not that I didn’t need that training- I sucked at it when I started, and have made some pretty nice improvements). I’m hypothesizing that it has something to do with brain chemistry.

So I’m currently feeling more “Andrea” than ever. Now that my fitness is really coming back, I am itching to get the race season started. I look forward to hard training days, and I relish in the tired/sore feeling that follows them… that’s the feeling that “fast” makes when it’s growing in your muscles.

F*#KYEAHWEEKEND

Ever have an epic-ly great series of days?

Friday- rode and fixed bikes in the morning, then I started cleaning the shop.
I realized that the floor was coated in years of grease, tire sealant, and dirt. It took a bottle of White Lightning Clean Streak, a scrub brush, and 5 water changes in the mop bucket, but by the time I was finished, the floor was freakin’ gorgeous. I went to Wal-Mart for a new trash can (the old one looked like a bike shop had puked in it). Once I was back, we didn’t have much of a chance to sit around and stare at the awesomeness of the clean shop because a young couple came in looking for two mountain bikes. They left with a Cannondale Trail Sl Women’s bike and the last of our Gary Fishers- the (carbon) Superfly Singlespeed. Somewhere along the way, the UPS guy delivered my missing rear brake. Hell. Yes.

After work, Ryan and I met up with some friends at Half Shell- The Warthogs. WTF is a Warthog? Quick history lesson:
I asked the same thing more than 5 years ago when I saw people in “Warthog” running jerseys at a local trail run. Then, I was introduced to the friendliest group of people you could possibly imagine. They were great company on the trail, and would eventually invite me out on my first bike ride. With their encouragement, I kept at it, and, well, the rest is, for the most part, in the pages of this blog. They’re the type of people that, no matter what you do with your life, they’re always happy to hang out and catch up over a couple of beers.

Saturday- The “implied consent” 2-a-day.
I could not make up my mind as to which workout to do, so I did both. The first was trainer/circuit insanity, much like the previous one, but this time, 100Kj intervals and no rest. After a shower and 2nd breakfast, I put the rear brake on A9C#2 and headed for a couple of hot laps at Herb Parson’s Lake.  I rode a little with co-worker Kenny and a couple of his friends, but had to put the pedal down a few miles into the first lap. The geared bike is a freaking ROCKET. I made it around 2x in exactly 90 minutes.
On the trip back, my mom called. She was making tacos for dinner, and Ryan & I were invited. Hell. Yes. (again) Nothing like not having to cook after a hard day of training… especially when you can fall asleep at the table, only to be awakened by the thump of a bowl of strawberry shortcake next to your head.

Also, I hit 7,000 blog views for the month of January- a new record. At the time of this posting, I’m at 7,103.

Sunday- 4 hours of endurance.
I wasn’t sure how the ride would go after the previous day’s rides, but it was spot-on. Ryan and I made 76 miles (he actually detoured near the end for a few extra miles/intensity) in a little over 4 hours. Power numbers for my endurance rides are steadily increasing. I’m starting to feel like it’s going to be a good season. Hell. Yes. x 11ty billion

Be careful what you ask for

I’ll be honest here- up until training camp, I was growing a little tired of the long zone 2 ride monotony. In his post-training-camp feedback, the Wizard mentioned that I should rest up, because the next training cycle would feature much more intensity. However, when I looked at the upcoming schedule, and it didn’t seem to change much- circuit training, long Z2 rides, recovery rides… hmmmm. I didn’t say anything, but I was wondering when the eye-bleeding workouts would start.

Then, he sent me a new circuit workout. Like the others, it was a warmup followed by 4 rounds of resistance exercises, but with a twist- near the end of each circuit, a 200Kj trainer interval.

For me, 200Kj translates to approximately 13-14 minutes of pedaling (do the math on that, ladies…)

It was intense.

I started out a little too hard on the first one and paid for it on the 2nd one. By the 3rd one, my legs were numb, and on the 4th one, I was digging into the darkest corners of my mind for thoughts that would drown out the screaming from my legs… mostly memories of any and all failures I’ve ever experienced on a bike. Nothing like polishing off a trainer workout by nearly making yourself cry. Hey, whatever works, right?

Just a warning- if you attempt this workout, make sure to get extra groceries. It will make you hungrier than a momma grizzly in the springtime.

The following day was another Z2 ride. It was tough to get the legs moving on that one, but it ended up being one of my better ones, wattage-wise. Once I was home, I felt drained, so I ate & sat around not doing much for the remainder of the day. It’s not for everyone, but personally, I love going down the training rabbit hole. On tap for this weekend, more/harder of the same…

In other “be careful what you ask for” news, I now have a mohawk. Yesterday, while waiting for the roads to dry out a bit, I actually went and paid for a haircut. I’ve been contemplating a ‘hawk for a while (even toying with a mini fro/faux hawk since my hair was getting longer), but didn’t want to go someplace and have a snooty hairstylist be like, “OMG, you’re so weird, and that’s a horrible hairstyle, let me do something totally different!” Lucky for me, I took the recommendation of a friend and went to a place called Dabbles in Midtown, where I doubt I could have asked for anything that was “too weird.”

The result- a gorgeous little fro-hawk. It’s quite androgynous, but, as long-time readers should know by now, I am secure enough in my straight womanhood that I don’t bind myself to any ideas of what’s “right/wrong” and/or “unacceptable”  for any particular gender. In the words of that trailer park chick from Jerry Springer, “Whatevah… I do what I want!”

If this post was too long for you to read, just google image search “Foul Bachelorette Frog” and have yourself a laugh or two. If you are my parents, a sponsor, or a mature, responsible adult, who is offended by female toilet humor, you should not do that.

There’s a name for that?

For about the last 6 or 7 years, I’ve occasionally had problems with my right arm falling asleep in odd situations- usually sleeping on it wrong or wearing a piece of clothing that is tight around the shoulder joint/collarbone area. Since I’ve started lifting weights and have grown more upper body muscle (which has been a pivotal part of training for singlespeed riding), it’s been happening a lot more. I can’t sleep on either of my sides without it falling asleep. It also falls asleep when I’m riding the trainer, occasionally when I’m on an actual moving bike, as well as in the aforementioned “odd situations,” but on a much more regular basis.

I mentioned this to my chiropractor on Monday, and he immediately said, “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.”

What? There’s a name for it?

Apparently so. There are websites for it, support groups for it, and surgery that involves removing the 1st rib to alleviate the pressure that’s being put on the nerves and/or blood vessels that are being compressed and causing the issues. It can also cause many of the other problems I’ve had such as sensitivity to cold in the fingertips and the problems with ulnar nerve pain and numbness.

He made some “adjustments” that he said might or might not help (hasn’t so far). The nice thing about my chiro is that he isn’t the type to swear off all forms of medical treatment for chiropractic treatment. If the adjustments don’t change anything, I’ll look to a different doc for help. I don’t want surgery. Hopefully some physical therapy and stretching can fix me.

Dear Alessi Sea Salt,

I have a sea salt grinder that I like(d). Originally, it was not refillable, but I drilled a hole into it and use(d) a funnel to refill it with coarse salt such as what’s shown in the photo below. I was just wondering if that is that a natural Mediterranean rat turd, made naturally from the sea and sun? Because if it was a standard American salt mine rat turd, I’d be very upset.

Thanks.

Andrea

Help my face…

I normally limit my vanity to matching accent colors between various parts of my bikes, but something’s been bugging me lately, and after much frustration with shopping on my own, I’ve decided to turn to my faithful readers for help. Though, most of you could stop reading now and not miss anything that you’re interested in. Hopefully, not all of you.

As of late, I’ve been noticing that my skin is starting to show signs of discontent and age. It’s dry, and I’ve got “smile lines” around my eyes. I’m not the type to be drug kicking and screaming into my next birthday- quite to the contrary, I’ve always said that I can’t wait until I’m older so I can be fast. However, that doesn’t mean that want to see it on my face if there’s a reletively easy way to prevent it.

My mom has gorgeous skin for her age (>50, <70), as does her mom. Unfortunately, I’ve not been blessed with either their genetics or their disdain for prolonged outdoor activity in extreme conditions. As a result, my mom’s skincare advice of “daily vasaline application” doesn’t really help. She also mentioned Oil of Olay. So, I looked at that stuff in the store. First off, it’s got the marketing prowess of bodybuilding supplements, which automatically sets off my BS detector. Second, I can’t pronounce most of the ingredients on the labels. Call me paranoid, but that makes me somewhat uneasy. Third- it’s expensive. Which, I honestly don’t mind too much about as long as I know I’m getting something that will actually “moisturize, reduce fine lines, and increase skin’s radiance” without causing some odd form of chemically-induced cancer by the time I’m 90.

With that being said, who can help? Ladies- any of you have a favorite? Men- anyone’s girl/wife got something she swears by? Comment away.

3 Days?

It’s been 3 whole days since my last post, and nothing of interest has happened.

-A9C #2 is still chilling in a box in the entry hall of the house, my SRAM XX order still hasn’t arrived, and, even if it did, I’m waiting on a backordered BB30 insert from Niner, so no building can occur until those planets align.

-I haven’t had any alcohol since Sunday. I’ve found that I can either be drunk or bipolar, and being drunk makes me fat.

– Thor kitty gains at least half a pound a day, and he is becoming quite the lap-cat. It’s time for him to get the snip, too.

– Any of you living further north than Memphis can stop reading right now. It’s supposed to get down to 7 tonight, then snow several inches tomorrow night. The grocery stores are absolute mayhem right now, and I think a few cars have already slid off the road. I F*CKING HATE WINTER. Hopefully the weather is more cooperative next weekend when I’ll be heading over to Syllamo for the 2011 edition of training camp.

– I can’t wait to have some sweet potato chili tomorrow for dinner. Gonna put it in the crock pot before we go ride a few laps of the Herb Parson’s trail. It should keep up warm & fed until everything thaws out and life can resume as “normal”

My Grandmother…

is in town for the holidays. She’s from Drew, Mississippi, and I just saw her put a quantity of Sriracha Sauce on a slice of pizza that I am reasonably sure would kill a small child.

granny

Happy Birthday/Graduation Breakfast

(for dinner)

Since I like to multi-task, I decided to combine birthday dinner with graduation brunch for the ultimate birthuation celebration for Ryan (35 yesterday) and Matt (no longer an undergrad in college). Menu: french toast, scrambled eggs (with cheese), and organic sausage…

butter

toast

Matt handled the meat:

meat

…and Ryan guarded the iPad

birthdayboy

and it turned out to be highly delicious

meal

omnom

Indy helped clean the plates

Indy

Of course, afterward, there was the requisite “ride a wheelie through the kitchen” time.

surly

However, the “can’t stop won’t stop” brakes on the Surly proved to be problematic…

surlyfail

cantstopwontstop

The Jet9 got a turn, too. Probably for the last time (unless whoever buys it decides to build it up and ride it thorugh my kitchen)

jet

I forgot to mention- now that’s he’s graduated, Matt has decided to moonlight as a Rentboy…

rentboy

Busiest day in the world

Well, in mine, at least.

Before I head off to bed, here’s a rundown:

Woke up late- 5:30am, immediately changed and went to the gym to lift, shower, snack, drop Thor off at the vet (in Germantown) for 2nd round of kitten shots, drove downtown for a “business” breakfast at The Arcade (OMG, sweet potato pancakes!), back to Cordova to the grocery store, drop of groceries, pick up Thor & drop him off at home, go to work, build a bike, other random stuff, re-organize the shoe section, have lunch (at 5:30), prep singlespeeds for Syllamo action, get home at 9:00, have dinner, pack, and type this somewhat uninteresting post about my day. I believe I’m just about ready to become one with my bed.

In blog geek news, I’ve been playing around with the Woopra site stats analyzer some more, and am happy to see that the birthplace fanbase in Evansville, IN still seems to be growing. Memphis and the surrounding area still gives me the most traffic, though- you all are easily more than half of the 150-250 visitors I get every day. Glad to know that I am keeping the hometown entertained.

Mountain View, I haven’t forgotten you, either. Ryan & I will be out that way this weekend for some singletrack. For now, though, it’s bedtime…