Long Road Training Race. And some Snow.

Though the weather report was the opposite of what you’d like to hear for a race day, Ryan and I got up & went to the Marx & Bensdorf Long Road Training Race just north of Arlington. My race (Men 4, 5, masters, women, and juniors) started at 9:00 and went 6 laps on the 5 mile course. The temperature hovered in the upper 30s and the skies looked as if they’d start spitting at any time.

The starting line:


I didn’t know a lot of the riders who were there, and I didn’t want to go easy off the line and get caught up in any sketchy riding, so when the official said go, I rolled down the first hill then maintained a steady pace up the next hill to the first turn. I glanced over my shoulder and chuckled a little- I had rolled off the front of the pack and had a cute little gap going. I figured I’d roll with it since, even though I was destined to be caught, the process of chasing would drop a nice portion of the 30 starters. A few miles later, on a rolling section of tailwind, I looked back to see the field closing in. I sat up to catch my breath and positioned myself near the front of the pack as they came by. Lap 2 and 3 were reletively uneventful. Here I am doing my best Jens Voigt impersonation up the hill and through the start/finish area (the pace had slowed too much on the hill, and I didn’t want anyone to catch back on…)


Johnny Mac from Marx & Bensdorf looks like he’s the only one enjoying the free ride!

Somewhere on lap 4 is where the break occured. I’m not really sure how I missed it, but it was a bad move on my part to not get in it, because it ended up staying away.



Since I used to ride with Memphis Velo and am good friends with some of the guys, I figured I’d help them with a little pace control since they had someone in the break. It was nice training. On the final finishing strech, the pack started to get jumpy. Not wanting to get caught up in a hairy pack sprint for 4th place, I bailed out! It’s not normal behavior for me, but a field sprint in an early season training race isn’t worth bumping elbows over. Maybe I’m getting old…

After grabbing a snack, I headed out for some more riding, but ended up not getting more than one extra lap because my hands froze up. Damn. I needed the distance, but I’d rather ride the trainer than go through the pain of circulation loss, so I called it a day and retreated to the warmth of the car.

Ryan’s race started soon after. There were only 9 starters:


Read his blog for a race report. Afterward, a group of us went to Mezcal in Arlington for some lunch and beer (though I behaved myself and only had lunch). While we were there, the sleet started. By the time we reached our house, a solid inch of snow had fallen.




Here are some shots from the back yard:






As of right now, the snow has blanketed the entire front yard, and is still falling. I hate snow! I want to go for a long ride tomorrow, so the snow needs to disappear overnight, mmmk?


Hopefully, sometime in the next couple of days, my team bike (BH Connect) will arrive in the mail. I have no idea when, but supposedly it’s somewhere between my house and Dallas, TX. It was awesome to ride @ Valley of the Sun, so I’m really eager to get it set up and on the road! Of course, I’ll post some photos once it gets here…

Long, cold road…

Today, Ryan and I opted out of our usual 70 miler (we’d have to leave the house at 8:00, and it was ~30 out at that time) and struck out on our own a couple of hours later for a chilly century. I mapped out a route that he uploaded to his Garmin in order to give us a little navigational help along the way.

We started by heading towards Herb Parsons lake, then on to the area used for the yearly local road race before heading north to Somerville. We took a short break at the Teague Store then continued north until we reached highway 59. Along the way, we ended up on a few miles of unplanned dirt road, which was a nice break from the paved monotony. Eventually, we reached the town of Braden then headed South- a welcome change since the wind was out of the North/Northwest, and we’d been headed in that direction for the bulk of the trip so far. After a couple of more dirt road miles, it was back to familiar territory on Hwy 196 south of Galloway, then back to the homestead. This makes 100 miler #2 for me. I’m guessing #3 will be Rouge Roubaix in a couple weeks!

If this makes no sense to you, I’m sure Ryan will upload his Garmin map. Take a look at his blog if you’re interested.

Even though I managed to take in a little over 1000 calories of food/drink during the ride, I’m still pretty beat. At one point around mile 90, I spaced out and took a trip to Arkansas… seriously- I was envisioning the Ouachitas around Lake Sylvia for a solid 3 minutes. If Ryan had stopped pedaling, I would have run straight into him and hit the pavement hardcore.
The most awesome part of the ride was getting home to a house that smelled of sweet potato chili that had been bubbling away in the crock pot since we’d left. After a hot shower and a bowl of that, I felt somewhat better. Oh yeah, and I treated myself to a Tazo London Fog Latte from Starbucks as well. If you’re into Earl Grey tea, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

Memphis Greenline Update

If you’ve been looking for updates on the ongoing rails-to-trails conversion going on with the old CSX line that runs through Memphis, then it’s likely that you’re somewhat frustrated. Seems that even the Greater Memphis Greenline site doesn’t get updates very often. Probably not their fault… the construction seems to be going rather slowly.

So I figured I’d post my own personal update. Friday, after I finished wrapping the surly’s bars w/the most pimpin bar tape ever, I took it for a ride down the trail, which runs almost right behind my house. The tracks are all pulled up, and the gravel has been leveled, though some of the bridges are still cross-tied, and there are a lot of iron hooks, spikes, and plates strewn about in the rocks (they’ll pop up & hit your frame/wheels when you run over them, too). I rode from Germantown Parkway to Mendenhall and back. The gravel is really loose, which makes singlespeed riding pretty tough. I had to maintain a hard effort in order to keep from getting bogged down. It’s definately NOT road bike friendly at this point, and I’d be hesitant to say that just anyone on a CX or MTB could get through it without much difficulty. There’s also the bridge over the Wolf River… it’s just open crossties- some of which are rotten/burnt out. Crossing is pretty hazardous.

I’m pretty excited about the project- however slow it is being completed! It’ll be like a commuter highway for me to get to U of M. A few photos:

Bridge over the Wolf River looking west towards I-240
Bridge over the Wolf River looking west towards I-240
Looking through the bridge crossties
Looking through the bridge crossties
I-240/40 interchange
I-240/40 interchange

Odd dream

I had an odd, apocalyptic dream last night. I don’t remember the specific circumstances, but it had to do with some sort of end-of-days time… I was with a large group of people, and our leader was none other than Sarah Palin (yes. I’m serious. I had a dream with Sarah Palin in it). As much as you’d expect her to be the wrong person to be your leader when the world is coming to an end, her oblivious attitude was comforting to a large portion of the masses in my dream. It was really, really weird.
I still hope she stays in Alaska.

Product Review: UVEX Boss Race Helmet

I picked one of these up while I was at Valley of the Sun over the weekend, and I am incredibly impressed with it. It’s really light (which is nice with my neck issues), and I LOVE the straps and inner fittings. The chin strap has nice padding, and the closure is adjustable, so it’s really simple to loosen or tighten on the fly while you ride (my straps always loosen up as they get damp & sweaty). The back has a twist-to-adjust thing on it, too.
Inside, it’s got a full sweat band in the front that keeps much more sweat off of your face than the usual interspersed pads on other helmets. The bug guard is nice to have, too, though there aren’t too many bugs out this time of year.

Here are a few photos:




Get one.

I spend more on bar tape…

…than most women spend on shoes.

I have to preface this with a word of warning- if you are looking for functional bar tape, stop reading now. Go get some Arundel Gecko Grip tape. It has to be, hands down, the stickiest, grippiest, yet just-soft-enough tape that I’ve ever laid hands upon.

However, if you’re looking for hard to install, slippery, and generally non-functional bling that will turn heads (and, more than likely, a few noses), then check out the latest look that the surly is sporting:

Working for a Higher Power

…and I’m not talking about the wattage you sustain during your 40k TT.

This morning I woke up early so that I could get to the weightroom and do some lifting before class. I’m going to begin doing this a couple of times a week in order to maintain my somewhat neglected weight workouts. Since the race season has prettymuch started, my main focus is maintaining the strength I gained during the off-season (mostly before training camp), and to increase my explosive strength. I also do not need to gain more muscle mass (since that’s just more weight I’ve got to haul up the hills).

So, the workouts I choose need to have a large power component- meaning I need to lift heavy things very fast in order to increase the contraction speed (this is different than what most cyclists think of when they’re talking about power). Remember your biomechanics:
Power: how quickly or slowly work is done
P=F*V (power = force * velocity)

Increasing power in this sense will improve cycling skills such as acceleration into an attack or sprint- allowing you to “snap the elastic” between you & your opponents.

For this, I like to use complex training. This is a specific type of training where you combine a high force movement with a high velocity movement in order to take advantage of post activation potentiation (if that’s a bit over your head, just think of when you lift something really heavy then you feel like the next thing you lift is extra light… that’s PAP at work). Today’s workout was a combination of squats and snatches in alternating sets. After a warmup, I did a set of 6 squats (ideally, you do fewer reps & more weight, but, like I said, I’ve been neglecting my weight workouts lately, so I have to start back slowly):

After doing a set, I racked the weight and immediately performed a set of three light snatches:

I did the alternating sets 5 times. The basic thought is that you get potentiation in the muscles during the slow, heavy movement that makes you lift faster when you perform the light, high-velocity movement. This results in an enhanced training effect and BOOM- more power!
Afterward, I did some heavy sit-ups super-setted with reverse hyperextensions. It only took about half an hour to complete the workout, but I think that the exercise choice made it a very effective half-hour in relation to my earlier-stated goals.

Adding to the body of research

At this very moment, I’m being “quarintined” in the cardiorespiratory lab at U of M while I’m participating in a supplement research study for a new diet aid. It involved eating a controlled diet yesterday (consisting of bars/shakes made by the VPX manufacturer), an overnight fast, then coming to the lab for a blood draw, followed by a dose of the supplement or placebo (it’s double blind, so we don’t know which one I took), and a series of vital/metabolic measures (resting HR, BP, and O2 consumption).

My guess is that I took the real thing, based on my appetite loss following the dosage. I’m also pretty addicted to caffiene, and get a headache if I don’t have any… but I’m feeling fine right now! Vital signs say differently, though- my HR has remained close to 40 bpm (one measurement as low as 38!), and blood pressure hasn’t changed much, either. Apparently, some people have had pretty big jumps from baseline in response to the supplement.

I just paused to have another set of measurements/blood draw. That’s 5 now, with 2 more to go… good thing I’m not afraid of needles! This is the type of research that all supplements should undergo- independant lab, strict control, and sound methods. VPX is commendable for putting their product through this type of rigor.