Southern Cross- Photos not of the Race

After a brief nap on the ground near the post-race food tent, I pulled myself together, ate a little lasagna, and went back to the hostel to clean up for the awards. You’ve read the rest of the story, so here are some photos from around the hostel and the awards ceremony. The gallery below is mainly artsy-ish photos of people and things, including (but not limited to) Todd the Antique Gun Show, Jimmy Deane, Dicky, a Canadian with a Knife (Chris), a two-person women’s “podium” with Brenda Simril, single speed podium, 45+ podium, Mike Stanley (regional Niner rep), Billy Dee Williams, Taste Activator Glass (being tasted), hostel chickens…

Southern Cross Race Report

I hope I don’t disappoint anyone with a brief race report, but I honestly don’t have a ton to say because everything was so perfect.

Friday night, I slept like the dead.

Saturday, Hiker Hostel breakfast (french toast, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal- all made in front of you in the kitchen) was great.  The night before, they ask what time the racers need to eat, and that’s what time the food hits the table. The coffee prettymuch kicks ass, too.

I knew going in to the race that with 2nd and 1st place finishes in 2009 and 2010 that I’d be a marked woman. Just in case no one noticed, race promoter Eddie O’dea did call-ups for the previous year’s podium finishers that were in attendance for this year’s race. the other women held their positions in the line up… I took the opportunity to move up a row.

The race began with a piece of break-neck speed, off-camber piece of cyclocross course. I rode hard, but smart (a repeating theme for the day), not wanting to fall behind, but not wanting to wreck or have a mechanical, either. I was passed by a few guys that started behind me, but no women.

Once we were on the road, I knew that I had to capitalize on having a cyclocross bike instead of a mountain bike.Just ahead of me, I saw a tall, skinny guy in a Clemson kit, riding at a good pace with his elbows on the tops of his bars. I pushed hard to catch his wheel, and he amicably pulled me several miles to the first of the gravel road hills where I decided that I no longer needed to be pulled, thanked him, and began climbing at a hard, just barely sustainable pace.

For the remainder of the race, I was either climbing at a pace as hard as I could maintain, or I was descending as fast as possible without risking a wreck or mechanical. The descents were a lot rougher than last year, so I knew that Brenda Simril (who was chasing me all day) was at an advantage on her mountain bike. I made it up the first insanity climb, through the first SAG, and down the first descent to the pavement without issue.

Once I was on the pavement and headed towards the next climb, I had to concentrate on maintaining the same effort that I’d put into the previous climb. Generally, if I wasn’t out of breath and my legs weren’t burning, I shifted to a harder gear and pedaled harder. Since the 2nd climb was much more moderate than the 1st one, the pavement strategy worked well for it, too. Between the 100’s of calories of Gu Roctane and a caffeine pill around mile 25, I started the 2nd climb feeling like I was ascending like a monkey on crack, and ended up reeling in a lot of the men who had passed me earlier in the race.

Before I knew it, I was at the 2nd aid station. Soon after, my only race mishap occurred when I lost a water bottle on one of the rough downhill spots. Luckily, #55 gave me one of his extras (I forgot his name, though he did say that he’s got a coworker that’s a reader). Hi! And, thanks again… you saved me!

The remainder of the rollers after the last long descent were hard. I had convinced myself that the other competitors were not far behind me, so I ignored how badly my legs hurt and hammered (as best I could) over the top of every hill. When I arrived back  at Montaluce for the final CX lap, I had a slight inkling that I might win. Eddie had re-routed the course to include a traditional Southern Cross run-up. I shouldered my bike, threw goats & made faces at the cameras, and trotted up the hill.

Ever since French Gulch in Breckenridge, all other hike-a-bike type situations seem somewhat “easy.”

I made my way through the remainder of the course and crossed the line. Ho-lee-isht. Did I win?!?! Eddie seemed slightly doubtful. Others congratulated me. I was 99% sure I’d won, but no one seemed to know for sure.

I have never been as exhausted after that race as I was yesterday. I changed, drank a recovery drink, and laid down on the ground in a fetal position near the food tent, where I passed out for close to 15 minutes. It would have been longer, but Skinny Matt called and woke me up with his SuperFlossy race report.

I eventually ate some lunch, went back to the hostel and changed, had a couple of beers, and returned for the awards ceremony. When I walked in, a bit of a nightmare started… Namrita (Eddie’s wife), approached me, apologizing. She said that someone had finished ahead of me by a few minutes. What followed was on the top 10 list of worst hours of my life. I’d absolutely destroyed myself to win, but I thought I hadn’t. I drank half of Jimmy Deane’s whiskey trying to numb myself from the horrible feeling of riding as hard as humanly possible and still being in being 2nd place.

Then, Brenda Simril stepped in. She asked me if I knew this person that had placed ahead of us. Uh… no. No idea. We talked to the men that had finished ahead of us. None of them had seen any other women. We talked to Namrita and eventually figured out that this person had entered the 50 mile race and only completed the 30 mile course without notifying the finish line staff (she wasn’t at the awards ceremony).

I was back in first place, and $500 richer.

Despite the emotional roller coaster, the day was amazing. After the awards ceremony, photos and celebration ensued…

Photos? I have post-race photos. You’re just going to have to wait until morning.

The blogoshpere is alive and well…

…at the Pre-SouthernX Hiker Hostel. Aside from a couple that’s thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (the woman is nearly blind and told a humorous story about using her hiking pole as a white cane), there are a bunch of internet celebrities…

Chris– one of the many random Canadians that are here. Southern Cross is his return to bike racing after a bit of a hiatus (read more on his brand new blog)

Then there’s Jimmy Deane. He’s racing a 39×18 on his singlespeed tomorrow. Ryan says, “That’s just silly.”

Of course, Dicky is here, too. He looks like Mr. Peepers. My goal for the weekend is to get him drunk enough to spill the beans on the whereabouts of his next frame.

In Brickhouse news, the pre-ride with Antique Gun Show went well. The CX loop at the start/end of the road loop is going to be tough. Not French Gulch tough, but it’ll hurt a bit.

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):

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?

Southern Cross Pre-Race Rundown

With the 2011 edition of Southern Cross less than a week away, I put the finishing touches on a hard training block with the Saturday Morning Worlds and 5 hours of solo endurance pedaling on Sunday. Looking back at my first few endurance rides, it’s pretty cool to see the improvement in average power since October.

The remainder of the week involves a leg opening day, some traveling, and a little course pre-ride. I’ve taken Friday off of work, but was considering leaving early on Thursday to get a jump on the 7+ hour drive. I think that co-workers DFMatt and Kenny have things under control, so I trust that they can hold down the fort if I get out of town.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve thoroughly e-stalked the women’s registration list. Carey Lowery is still missing, but there’s plenty of horsepower nonetheless. I’m feeling good, so it should be pretty epic.

Saturday Morning Worlds

Sure, intervals on the trainer and out solo on the road have their place, but not much compares to the pain inflicted upon you by a good, testosterone-fueled group ride. The current “place to be” on Saturday mornings is the Trinity Ride (named thusly because it meets in a shopping center called Trinity Commons, which is on Trinity Rd.

Normally the pace picks up once you’re out of the city limits, but today, the group was feeling frisky and half-wheeling each other from the first hill. I made it a point to never drop out of the front third or so of the group, which meant snaking whatever gap I could find when the opportunity presented itself. For the first couple of hours, it was a mix of fast pace rotating pacelines and occasional attacks/chases. Unfortunately, as much as I love attacking and chasing, my fitness isn’t quite up to participation level yet, so I generally rode a few wheels back with the chasers.I eventually found myself in a pattern of hammering near the front, imploding, then recovering barely in time/enough to catch the tail of the pack and work my way back up to the front.

Two hours in, the group stops at a store in Galloway. Seeing that my legs were on fire, and I find a 20 minute break in a 3 hour ride to be somewhat ridiculous, I spun up the road a ways, refilled my water from a church water hose, then rode leisurely along the route to Arlington, where I waited to fall in with the group as they slowed to roll through the small downtown area. The remainder of the ride was more of the same, but with less organization, and more people falling apart as they started to tire. Happily, my training is paying off in that I may not feel as fast as the boys, but I feel as though I don’t get tired nearly as easily.

Now, time to eat and lay around more of the day in my compression tights. Tomorrow’s 5 hours solo is supposed to be a windy one…

Dear Southern Cross E-stalkers…

“Andrea Wilson” “Outdoors Inc”

There. Now I know you’ve found me….

My coach told me to quote him on this:

“Victims! All you see are victims! Cool, the plan is: rest, worlds, Z2 Endurance, rest, open up, let the massacre start”

See you all on the 26th.


Hopefully, at least.

The forecast for the next 7 days- sunny w/highs near 70- seems like a dream after the cold/damp/snowy misery that’s been hanging around lately. With that, I can resume my short pre-work rides that I’ve been neglecting out of avoidance of frostbitten body parts.

This morning, I took the geared A9C out for a spin around the Tour de Wolf trail near my house. I’d forgotten just how freaking amazing that bike is- I fall in love again every time I ride, and I’m itching to race it! I’d also forgotten how beautiful it is to cruise singletrack faster than traffic can move on Walnut Grove Road (a major artery for traffic in/out of the suburbs). It’s a mix of happy and content that makes me feel very, very lucky…

Weekend in Training

Another kickass weekend of training…

Friday morning before work, I was awake at 4 something and in the trainer room for the circuit/interval hell workouts that I have started to love. Ryan went to the gym to lift, and made it back in time to take a photo…

Saturday, I had the go ahead from Coach to attend the Saturday Morning Worlds. The pace was perfectly fast. I got dropped from the lead group of 5 or 6 guys and worked my tail off with the main group just behind. After the store stop, things settled down quite a bit… I think mainly because Ryan was tired from the previous day’s lifting. Once we were home, I spent the remainder of the day chilling in my new compression tights.

(sorry… no photos…)

Today’s workout was the same as last Sunday’s- 5 hours of endurance-paced riding. It was windy, mild, and sunny- just a little touch of spring (though there were still some patches of snow along the road from our most recent “blizzard”). It was an excellent Crank Therapy day… I loaded a new playlist into my shuffle and headed out to sort through my head.

Thought of the day, courtesy of Albert Einstein: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I realized that in repeatedly trying to explain this concept to a friend during his recent relationship struggles that I, myself, was repeating a failing cycle of doing the same thing and expecting different results. Insane, I tell you!

After I figured that out, I relaxed and enjoyed the scenery…

You know you’ve got a “good” bike route when there is a coozy on the gas pump.

Snow Ride

Before the ride report, a preface…

I’m not gonna lie- I hate winter and everything associated with it. People ask me why I don’t want to live in Colorado or someplace cool like that. It’s because I have no desire to deal with cold, ice, and snow on a regular basis. When I tell people this, I usually get an “It’s OK, you just dress right and you’re comfortable!”

Let me tell you why this statement is not true for me.

For as long as I can remember back into my childhood, I’ve always hated the feeling of layers of clothes. I even had a whole process of straightening out my socks and toes in order for them to not feel “weird” inside my shoes. I didn’t wear anything but elastic-waistband pants until I was in 5th grade. As an adult, I can’t sleep if the sheets on the bed get too messed up under the comforter, and the feeling of having enough clothing on to restrict my movement even the slightest amount makes me want to throw things and punch holes in walls. So, NO, I’m not going to be “comfortable,” even if I do dress properly for cold weather.

With that being said, last night’s snow ride was UFCKING AWESOME!

Matt Robbins (who, in order to distinguish him from Matt McCulley, will hereafter be referred to as “Dickface” Matt because of an incident involving alcohol and a black marker), Kenny, and myself gathered at my house around dusk to have (the required by coach) beer and prepare to brave the cold and snow. I think the beer made me care much less about having to wear a metric crap-ton of clothing, so I’ll admit, I was comfortable. It was one of the few chances I’ve had this winter to use my Trail LED light. I gave it a go with the handlebar mount this time since we weren’t going to ride singletrack. That sucker is even brighter when it’s shining on snow!

We started out by heading to the Shelby Farms dog park. It was quite the experience to “find” the washed/rutted out spots leading through the park to the gravel road that goes to Patriot Lake. From there, we crossed Walnut Grove and hooked up with the new Wolf River greenline bridge and make our way down the Germantown Greenline back towards Germantown Parkway. Along the way on the Gtown side, we were warned by a robocop sounding motion detector that we were going to be photographed for riding on the greenline after dark. We waved.

Once we were back to Germantown Parkway, we crossed the Wolf River again (taunting cars along the way), and stopped at the liquor store, where Kenny bought a bottle of Makers Mark. Once we were back on the road headed home, Kenny had a spectacular sliding wreck in the middle of Walnut Bend and was closely followed by Matt, who had been riding directly behind him. We eventually made it back to the house, where we found the next door neighbor out in the street doing donuts on his moped.  I shot a little video, but I still haven’t figured out how to compress & upload it.

Back at the house, libations continued in front of the fireplace. I’m not sure if there’s any better way to finish off such a great evening of sliding around in the snow…