…like an F-18, Bro

Between racing and training, my awesome mohawk was starting to get somewhat bushy and out of control. Also, between racing and training, I haven’t really felt like taking the time to make an appointment and drive to midtown to get my hair cut on my day off. I’ve got much better things to do… like nap.

So, when (beanpole) Matt volunteered to cut it for me after work on Friday, I was all for it. After getting iced in the parking lot of his apartment, we split a 40 of budweiser (for courage) and took to the bathtub… better in every way possible than going to even the most laid back hair salon…

(photo cred to Ryan and Steve Jobs)

In other F-18 related news, I’m riding 6 hours tomorrow. Today’s training was shortened because no one was riding Trinity at 8:00am in the downpour. In lieu,  The Wizard handed down some Z3 interval work for this afternoon. When I arrived home, I found this in my mailbox:

It’s a bitchin’ new Awesome Strap from Dicky. W00t!

In non F-18 news, things like this are why you should always bring your bike to Outdoors, Inc. if it needs to be worked on at a place other than your own garage:

Filler Post

Yeah, yeah, there’s not much going on that I haven’t already talked about…

Wednesday’s leg wake-up intervals were promising. The travel weather to Dahlonega isn’t quite as worth looking forward to. I wanted to leave mid-day and camp near Chattanooga, but it looks like rain, and the last thing I feel like doing is starting my trip off with a bunch of wet camping gear in my car. So, I’ll probably just leave (in the rain) this afternoon, drive (in the rain) to Chattanooga, then get a (dry) motel room. That way, I can finish the last 3 hours of the trip on Friday and have time to settle in and pre ride some of the course with Todd “Antique Gun Show” Henne.

Here’s the “2011 Preview” article from XXC Mag (complete with a link in the article to my write-up from last year): http://xxcmag.com/?p=590

In non-bike news, the Dragon tattoo is getting somewhat close to completion. Joe is working mostly on the tail of it now, which, unfortunately, hurts like HELL since it’s smack in between my hip bone and rib cage. I think we’re up to about 17 hours worth of tattoo time now. He also laid down a layer of skin-tone ink on my calf tribal. I still don’t really know what I want to cover it with other than something that’s not too detailed and mostly black & gray.

Suggestions from the peanut gallery?

Snow Bike (Memphis Style)

We usually don’t get much snow around here, but this winter has been quite the exception. As a result, my training plan has undergone constant revision. Here’s the latest for today:

“Snow ride for fun! Put on snow pants, big coat, hiking boots (platforms and old bike not new cool plastic bike)Go ride around the park in the grass and work on skills sliding around down hills and through the trees. This is a fun recovery ride in Z1-2 and works best with beer;-)”

Since I’m not allowed to ride a plastic bike, I had to break out the Surly Crosscheck. Just to be awesome, I put some flat handlebars on it, and the largest tires that would fit:

Of course most snowbound individuals like a pugsly or other fatter-tired bike, but since this is Memphis, my bikes have to be multitaskers. I don’t own snow pants, but I’m sure I can find something that will work. We’re planning a post work night ride in the snow. The beer and flat pedals part is probably a good idea since I might die otherwise.

New favorite thing

Since I’ve had to learn to sleep on my back in order to keep my arms from falling asleep (see the TOS post if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I’ve been trying to figure out how to not wake up with a backache. The bed at the cabin has a sweet memory foam pad on top, and it’s always been comfortable, so I convinced Ryan to splurge on one. After a couple of hours of reading online information and reviews, I settled on this one: Sensus 3-inch, 5lb Mattress Topper

Oh, wow. It’s like an instant coma.

I still can’t sleep on my side, but I can sleep on my back now without my back hurting, so not only am I sleeping better, it’s helping to alleviate the daytime arm numbness I was periodically feeling when I was riding, working, driving, etc. Hopefully it will help heal everything back to normal.

The only downside is that it’s really, really hard to convince myself to get out of bed in the morning.

…highly recommended to anyone that loves sleep. Don’t waste time with the cheapie ones- go for density. This was one of the few I found in the 4-5lb range that actually weighed in at the correct weight for its stated density (in other words, customers who wrote reviews measured and weighed their pads in order to confirm that the foam was as dense as advertised. A lot of them don’t stack up). Lower density is overly soft and wears out faster. This one is definitely soft, but in a very supportive way (if that makes sense).

Yesterday, I rode for 5 hours. As soon as I was home and showered, I felt magnetized to the bed and ended up laying around watching the Superbowl pre-game BS until Ryan made it home from the Marx-Bensdorf team camp in Nashville. We went to El Mezcal, and I had some freaking awesome huevos rancheros before coming back home and vegging out while sort of watching the big game. I was in a training coma about halfway through the 4th quarter. Oops.

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.


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.



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.