brickhouseracing

February 7, 2012

Procrastination

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 7:53 am

Last night I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with the guys from XXC Magazine. It was (at least for me) one of the more entertaining 90ish minutes I’ve spent talking about anything bike related. Hopefully, when the podcast is up in a few days, you’ll enjoy our bantering. I hope they ask me back on the regular.

Step 3, profit.

In other news, instead of doing the 500,359 tasks I need to do to ready myself for 5 days in Syllamo (starting tomorrow), I’m writing a blog post. It’s the classic ADHD symptom where there are so many thoughts rushing around in my head that my brain short circuits, and I end up procrastinating and doing something totally non-productive to the things I actually need to do. My plans had been to wake up, ride a little, work on Ryan’s bike a little, and head up to the Outdoors, Inc. Distribution Center to talk to the Boss Man about sponsorship/next year’s race season. So far, all I’ve done is make coffee and look at the internet. I should probably at least eat breakfast and shower before I go.

At least this morning will assure that  my day can only get more productive from here.

January 24, 2012

For Sale: BH Carbon Cross- $1200

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:02 pm

Next up in the garage sale- my “old’ cyclocross bike.

This is a 2008 BH Carbon Cross- size 51cm with SRAM Force components (FSA carbon crank and Avid Shorty brakes). I raced it for 2 seasons before getting my Scott. It was an excellent bike, but just a hair too small for me.

Important Stuff:
-The guy who owned it before me disassembled the front shifter and converted it to 1×10. I mostly raced it that way, but added a bar-end shifter and slightly chipped SRAM Red front derailleur for chain retention and the option to use a 2x setup.
-The front chainring is a 40t with a bash guard
-The wheels are Velomax with Kenda Small Block Eight tires
-Handlebars are FSA Wing Pro Compact- size 42 (they’re 40cm c-c at the hoods and 42cm c-c at the drops)
-I recently overhauled the bike, and in the process, installed new brakes (Avid Shorty 6s) and Cane Creek Stainless Steel Headset Bearings
-Here’s a geo chart:

Here are some photos. As always, if you have any questions, email andrea @ brickhouseracing.com or message me on facebook.

January 18, 2012

This is what happens when I don’t ride for a few days…

Filed under: Bike Racing,non-bike — Andrea @ 7:37 am

(Warning, this is about to sound a lot like a pseudo-philosophical rant that your one “stoner” friend might tell you an hour or so after eating a “special” brownie…)

In light of the giant, heat-producing contusion on my right thigh, I haven’t done any riding since I arrived home from Louisville on Sunday. I decided yesterday that I’d venture to the mall in search of a pair of jeans. However, rather than actually go into stores and try things on, I ended up wandering around pondering the meaning of life instead.

I mean, the entire contents of the vast expanse of building seemed incredibly useless to me. On the flipside, there are individuals who would feel that their well-being would be compromised if that building burnt down tomorrow.  Which led me to think, Why?
What I figured out was that the average individual needs this stuff because they dress up/down/out/etc to do things. Those things that they do add interest to their everyday life. The clothing defines you and what you do. I’m not judging or saying this is bad at all- quite the opposite…

I find those things useless because I don’t do anything.

All those things that all of those people are doing in order to need to dress up/down/out/etc. don’t exist here. Most people would think that, from the outside, that sounds incredibly boring- a large portion of my everyday existence is dedicated to being able to ride a bike faster than everyone else. Outside of that, I work on bikes, and many of my friends are bike people. I’m not saying this is bad at all, either, just that I briefly noticed the stark contrast between my reality and that of the general public.

It’s not for everyone, but I love it.
(Thank you, mall, for provoking my deep thought of the day. )

January 16, 2012

Post-race Gallery

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 8:47 pm

Here are photos from after the race. We hung out with the token Europeans at the SRAM after party, and I almost took home a 30-34 jersey via drinking a Belgian under the proverbial table.

January 15, 2012

Master’s Worlds CX Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 5:39 pm

Friday night, I was wired- a mix of nervous, excited, happy, anxious, and just about anything else I could throw in there to keep from feeling like I should go to sleep. I managed a few hours, though, and was awake before the alarm Saturday morning. As I mentioned in my previous post, it was stupidly cold- 18 when we went down to breakfast. After some hot cereal and coffee, I tried to relax and make final preparations back at the room.

I’d decided that I wanted to ride the mile or so down to the race course in order to get a solid start on a non-trainer warmup. Once I was at the course, I rode a lap and a half before swinging back by the car for a final shot of redbull and Gu Roctane. The ground was still rutted and frozen solid, so some parts of the course rode like a trenched & rutted hockey rink. Luckily, Saturday morning racers had the luxury of several course re-routes and tape moves to allow for less treacherous conditions than the races on Friday. However, there were still several sections of tape-to-tape ice ruts that would prove to be painful for most of us.

Once I was fueled up, I headed up to the start area. We were called up one at a time to have our tire width checked and go to our spot in the start grid. I knew from my pre-ride that most people like the smooth line to the right off of the pavement at the beginning of the race, but that I’d found a killer line to the left that was way faster as long as you could navigate one section of ice ruts right against the course tape.

When the race started, two women jumped out ahead of me. I took to their wheels on the straightaway until we reached the left turn onto the grass, where they predictably took the far line to the right. I stayed to the left and went flying down the first hill off of the pavement. I used my skatepark skills and thought “manual” as I crossed the patch of ruts that everyone else had gone right to avoid then pumped over the dirt hump at the bottom of the hill. My strategy put me ahead of the hole-shotters going into the first chicane and elbow to elbow as we navigated the frozen sand pit.

The next uphill section was a tape-to-tape ice-rut section that, if you could pedal as hard as possible and unweight your front wheel, you had a little bit of a chance of making it through without wrecking or being forced to run. It was there that the three of us in front made a gap on the other racers. However, as we rounded the next right turn to a downhill left to turn back to a set of barriers, I felt something loose in the rear end of my bike. When I picked it up to go over the barriers, my rear wheel started to come out of the dropouts.

FUCK.

I always hated the skewers in the Reynolds wheels. The rear one, which had been tight in the start grid, had rattled loose over the extremely rough terrain. I was forced to stop and re-tighten it while trying not to panic. I re-mounted my bike in last place. Ass-hauling ensued, and I’d ridden back into 4th by the time I reached the pit. I swapped bikes and yelled at Ryan to check the skewers. Soon after, as I was trying to claw back 3rd, I wrecked hard on the ice and dropped my chain (most common malady of the race, I think). Un-Jamming that allowed 3rd to escape again, and let the two leaders get further from my grasp. I was momentarily heartbroken, but pulled myself together and started reeling the podium spot back.

Once I was back on my Scott (thank you, Ryan, for being an awesome pit-man), I kept the hammer down and finally overtook her in the last half of the 2nd lap. I never looked back, but I know that she fought hard to try and stay with me. When I came through the wall-to-wall uphill ruts at the beginning of my 4th and final lap, I saw her laying on the ground with paramedics around her. I tried not be distracted, but hardly 10 meters later, a rut grabbed my front wheel and slammed me into the ground. I did my best to jump up quickly and told the paramedic who’d left the other racer to check on me that I was OK. I re-mounted and realized quickly that I was, in fact, NOT ok. My right thigh had taken the brunt of the impact, and every pedal stroke was torturous.

On the final runup, I noticed that my trusty Garmin 500 was gone. Even though the announcer called for whoever found it to bring it back, it never turned up. My guess is that it landed in someone’s pocket. Boooooooo.

I finished the race solo, in 3rd place.

Looking back at lap times, the fight for 2nd could have been epic if it weren’t for the two mechanicals. I’m happy, though. I haven’t raced that hard all season. I felt awesome. I took a lot of chances. Most of them worked out. Some of them hurt like hell.

It was a fun journey, but damn am I glad it’s over.

 

 

January 13, 2012

Master’s Worlds Pre-race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:54 pm

Today hasn’t been the best day-before-a-race day.

The weather has been foul. Yesterday, I made the trip from Memphis in blowing snow and heavy clouds. The weather system soaked the ground at the Louisville CX course, creating a thick, sticky layer of mud. Ryan, who had been in St. Louis for business since Monday, was there ahead of me and pre-rode in horrible conditions (remember that part)

His heat race was at 10:20 this morning. As he was getting ready to pre-ride, I put his “A” bike in the stand to lube the chain, which was dried out from the previous day’s ride/pressure wash. I quickly realized that his bottom bracket was toasted. I quickly borrowed a BB tool (yeah, I suck at packing the tool box) and put my bike’s FSA bottom bracket into his bike. Parking lot wrench/repair extraordinaire.

His heat race ended up sucking a little. What had been deep, saturated mud was now frozen into solid, icy ruts from tape to tape.

Riding was treacherous (possibly understatement of the year, and it’s only January).

My original plan had been to pre-ride during the official noon to 12:45 open course time. However, with our quiver of bikes being one bottom bracket short, I had to deal with that first. I started by visiting the Black Spring bike shop across from the hotel. Luckily, the guy there let me make myself at home in his shop, and I was able to rehab the “A” bike bottom bracket and re-install the BB into my bike. By then there was no way to get to the open course time.

I ended up riding down to the course and watching the tail end of the men’s 30-34 race. Not long after, I was about to leave when I noticed that random people were riding on the course. I figured I’d have at it as well.

What followed was a crash course in how to ride on solid, rutted ice. I did my best to float the front wheel and maintain speed. It worked about 90% of the time. The other 5% of the time, my front wheel would grab in a deep, sideways rut and slam me onto the ice. OW.

I was discouraged. I’ve trained incredibly hard, and to have my race boil down to who can crash the least on the ice would be somewhat disappointing. Luckily, the Powers that Be have decided to re-route and re-stake some of the worst parts of the course. So, now I should only crash once per lap instead of 5 times per lap, and be able to get my heart rate over 120 bpm.

Here goes nothing…

January 11, 2012

Special Weather

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:33 am

After what seems like months of unseasonable luck in the winter weather forecast, it looks as if normal January weather patterns will be taking over just in time for my drive to Louisville…

 

The “Special Weather Statement” at the top basically says that Louisville will see rain most of the day tomorrow, and that it’s transitioning to snow in the afternoon. After that, it’s going to be cold and cloudy. Cyclocross weather? Yes. Weather that I like? Not particularly.

Luckily, I’ve got some bitchin’ mud tires, warm clothes, and a strong desire to just get this race over with. It’s been a long road, and I’m ready to race until my eyeballs sweat then just live life as a normal person for a little bit before returning to life as an endurance mountain bike racer.

January 1, 2012

Closing In

Filed under: Around the shop,Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 8:44 am

The turn of the new year marks two weeks out from what could be the biggest small race I’ve ever been to. Worlds, small?  Well, yeah… apparently only 5 women in the world aged 30-34 really want to try and win a world championship. This means two things to me- 1) I’ll be in familiar territory as far as “small group” racing style, and 2) It’s time to up my game. Since if you’re my age and reasonably fast, you’re racing in the elite ranks.

Small field aside, the taper begins this week, and I’m ready to race as if my life depends on it. Thursday morning, my power numbers were stout. The cycle of insane efforts on the bike followed by laying around doing not much of anything are paying off, and I’m excited to see what happens once I’m all the way rested.
I also started taking a B12 supplement. I’m skeptical about supplements, but B12 isn’t very expensive, and, as a water soluble vitamin, if I were to overdose (very unlikely given the small amount actually absorbed by the body when consumed orally), the excess is excreted in the urine. So far, the only difference I’ve noticed is that I’ve felt “good” at times of the day when I’d normally feel tired. The nice power numbers? I still mainly attribute those to hard work and rest. The B12 doesn’t hurt, though.

Neither do the beets.

Along with the hard work and rest, I’ve also avoided alcohol since Christmas. The avoidance of empty alcohol calories leaves the door open for consumption of holiday snacks with less guilt. It also means that I’ll have some catching up to do after Worlds. Lucky for me, we have some customers who know how to leave a beer tip:

 

 

December 23, 2011

Adventures in Self-Promotion, part 19

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:28 am

In an effort to drum up a little more traffic to the all-powerful blog, I’m experimenting with a couple of “social media” outlets. I’ve created a new Twitter account- @BrickhouseMTB (I’ll be phasing out the AndreaMemphis account). I’ve also created a Brickhouse Racing fan page on Facebook. It’ll mostly be photos and links to new posts, so I promise that if you subscribe to it, you won’t get a bunch of annoying “OMG, here’s pictures of my food!” type posts that you might see if you actually were my friend. If you’ve ever wanted to find me on Facebook, but didn’t want to put off that “stalker” vibe because we’ve never really met, then this is the place for you.

What I’m hoping for now is that you, my loyal and wonderful blog readers, help me out by re-tweeting, re-posting, sending invites, etc. so that I can get more followers. More readers/followers = more blog traffic = more visibility to my sponsors = more sponsorship = bigger and bad-asser races = better, more exciting stories for you to read on my blog. See? It’s really all about you and your desire to see me in my “hey y’all, watch this!” adventures in bike racing. So, share away!

P.S. Once my webmaster is back in town from a weeklong trip up North for business/holidays, I’ll have some sort of fancy buttons that’ll make everything a little simpler.

 

December 19, 2011

Tennessee State Championship Cyclocross

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:31 am

As I mentioned in my last post, the week leading up to the State Championship race was filled with intervals and elbow busting. I managed to relax and recover enough that I was feeling good and (somewhat nervously) confident about the race. I was fully expecting Kim Fasczewski to show up and put up a hell of a fight, but found out Saturday night that she would be wrapping up her season win in a North Georgia series. When we arrived at Lock 4 park and saw all the fast ladies who’d come out of the woodwork for the Championship, it was obvious that the race would be a killer nonetheless.

I realized during my pre-ride that the course was likely the most technical one of the season. The corners were greasy, and it never went straight for more than a few seconds at a time. It was also laid out on the side of a hill- at the beginning of the course, the hill was more gradual, getting steeper as the course wrapped around the side of the Lock 4 peninsula. I don’t mind tech, but I tend to excel on power courses. It was going to be tough.

Eight of us lined up (biggest race of the year!) We laid into it from the gun, Paula Burks got the holeshot- looking back on the power file for the day, the first 10 seconds of racing, I averaged about 700 watts. Kirsten- a rider from Wooden Wave- jumped around early and took off. She was getting a tiny gap, so I hopped around Paula at the barriers and chased. Somewhere a few turns into being on her wheel, I passed her and attacked up one of the steep spots. As I started lap 2, I was alone.

The course wound around so much that I was able to watch the ensuing chase behind me. Kirsten fell back and Jessica Owings took over. Eventually, Paula found her groove and chased in 2nd while Jessica and Amy Phillips battled out for 3rd. Lucky for me, by then, there were only a couple of laps to go.

 

Tough win on a tough course. Nice to have on my last race before Worlds, though I can’t help but wish I’d ridden less conservatively. Thankfully, the Louisville course should be a more balanced mix of power and tech. Til then, my schedule at work will be light while I make the final push in my training intensity and try to mentally prep myself for what I hope is the hardest and most successful cyclocross race I’ve entered.

 

 

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