I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for stencil street art. This little jewel is from Euro-artist FAKE:
I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for stencil street art. This little jewel is from Euro-artist FAKE:
If you’ve been reading much at all since October, you may have noticed an occasional mention of Bruce Dickman. He’s a rep for ProGold, and, way back at Crush and Run, he gave me an armload of their products to try out. Somewhat to his chagrin, I haven’t made mention of the stuff on my blog since then, and I haven’t brought in much extra stock to my shop, either.
Why not? Was it not awesome?
Well, rather than writing a glowing review the 2nd time I applied Xtreme Lube to my chain, I wanted to give it time to piss me off by not working. Good news is, since October, I’ve been using the lube (though I’ve always been a fan of their Prolink), Bike Wash, EPX Grease, and Pro Towels both in the shop and at home, and it all works great.
The Bike Wash (also known as “Dick Wash” since Dickman loves it so much) deserves special mention since, if sprayed on to a dingy frame and left for 5 or 6 minutes, will make your bike clean just with a rinse from the hose (no scrubbing required). If you’re washing a few bikes in series as I often do when we get home from cyclocross races, it means that you can line them up, spray the chunks of mud off, spray each one with Bike Wash, then go back through with the hose and have 3 sparkling bikes with no sponges or brushes. The Pro Towels are equally as convenient for indoor cleaning- even on the white parts of my matte finish CX bike. They’re also very good for getting your hands clean, and don’t dry them out nearly as much as the gritty orange stuff. My only complaint? They can screw up your nail polish.
Not sure why the product testers never noticed that…
The EPX Grease (also known as “Dick Grease”, for obvious reasons) took a little warming up to. Not because I found the consistency or performance to be off, but because the smell reminded me of the odor put off by a 5 gallon bucket of tractor axle grease. After complaining to Bruce about it a few times, I decided that it at least deserved a try, and I put it into a couple of pairs of brand new Crank Brothers pedals (which, apparently, are now manufactured with fairy dust instead of grease. That’s a whole ‘nother review though). The consistency of it is nice- thicker than Park grease but not as sticky as Triflow grease. I’ve since switched both the house and the shop over to it. Now, if they could just get it to smell like Phil Wood, it’d be perfect.
So, ProGold products get my blessing. Try for yourself.
This post is a little backwards, so if you want a look into the December 24th debauchery, skip this sentimental stuff and go straight down to where you see the alien holding a glass of wine.
Since I don’t personally know anyone who was born on December 25th, I typically take the day to either ride my bike on reduced-traffic roads and/or visit with family. Today I drove down to Drew, Mississippi, where my grandmother (on my Mom’s side) lives. We eat large quantities of various casseroles, then everyone rolls around on the furniture like colicky horses and “visits” for a while before dispersing.
Granny, Aunt Scarlett, and Mom (front to back)…
Several cousins (l-r) Brad, Brittany, Aunt Georgia, Brad’s Wife, Brent, and his wife (the hair in the foreground):
We agreed that Brent (who works as a crop duster pilot) and I used to be “the bad ones,” but now, his kid has taken over that role. Probably so, considering I thought she was cute, and I normally have a strong dislike of anyone under the age of 20.
Uncle Johnny and the “new” bad one along with Uncle Pete and my dad…
And yes, hate on it all you want… Those ARE house shoes, and exactly zero f***s were given.
My family is great, though often times when I visit, I feel like Roger from American Dad.
Yesterday, the foldies (nickname for any non-bike shop employee) celebrated making it though nearly 1 month of being really busy (good thing they don’t work in the bike shop, where we’re generally slammed from the first day of spring until the first time the temperature drops under 50). Everyone in the store gets to let their proverbial hair down a little, have a catered lunch sandwich, and drink a beer or two. This year, Matt Robbins put his PT training to the test in checking out all of Boyd’s vertebrae injuries:
After that, the atmosphere was electric. Like a tazer.
When I left work, Matt and I took off for a little night ride. He rode Death Bike 3000 for the first time… it basically did OK, unless he had to pedal harder than 300 watts:
I guess he still has a little work to do on that one.
Basically, a good two days of laying off a little and pretending like I’m a “normal” person instead of someone who is systematically repeating a cycle of destroying herself with intervals and recovering just enough to rinse and repeat. Tonight, whiskey. Tuesday, back to work.
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.
Since the State Championship race, the weather in Memphis has been chilly and wet. I’ve taken to the trainer for my workouts both Tuesday and today (yesterday, I had a “fun with mud/gravel” recovery ride on the CX bike wearing road tires). In case you were ever wondering, road tires don’t work well on the greasy mud in Shelby Farms.
Yesterday, the recent deluge of training intensity finally started to make me feel a little worn out. Today, after a good nights sleep, breakfast, and some laying around watching reruns of American Dad on Hulu, I finally made it upstairs to the pain cave of awesomeness:
The South Park was just warm-up entertainment. Once I got to the real workout, it was straight Glitch Mob Radio on Pandora. Two hours later, I exit the cave, covered in sweat and trying not to fall down the stairs as my quads shake in surrender. I then proceeded to down a recovery drink, some leftover seafood pasta, and a couple of chocolate truffles before passing out hard for a solid 45 minutes. Upon waking, I realized that I’d drooled on my pillow and was being used as a bed by no fewer than 3 animals.
Post-workout power naps are the best.
Once out of the bed, I went to the mailbox and found that it had leaked on to some important mail:
(bonus shot of my medal from the weekend)
Luckily, the contents inside the envelope were still viable, and my “team vehicle” is now looking pretty boss:
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise- I’ve been riding Maxxis tires ever since I discovered the awesome-ly light/knobby Ignitor (the Ignitor front/Ikon rear has now been dubbed the “Andrea Combo” at the shop). I’m looking forward to “officially” repping them (along with Outdoors, of course) in the upcoming season.
That’s your brief report on adventures in rainy weather. Stay tuned for next week, where I’ll be switching from organized intervals to CX skills/intervals. Spoiler alert- they’ll be outside, regardless of weather…
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.
Tuesday morning, I succumbed to peer pressure and, following my weekly trip to the chiropractor, went out to the new skatepark with the Voltage for its maiden voyage (unless, of course, you consider the laps around the in-house kitchen/living room track). Turns out, when the concrete is cold, and the air is less cold and very damp, it leaves a slick film of water on some faces of the bowls. I found out the hard way within the first 30 seconds of riding…
Yes, cute, I know. I’ve got a matching one on my knee and a bruise on the front of my right hip bone. Apparently, I’m bonier than I previously thought. You may also notice the red nail polish. I had to glam it up a bit for Ryan’s work Holiday Party. Now, I feel extra pretty every time I stick my finger into the grease jar at work.
Training is otherwise going well. Despite racing my ass off over the weekend and busting it Tuesday morning, I pulled off some decent power numbers in my Tuesday morning 5x3x3 workout (5 repeats of 3 min on/3min off intervals). Hopefully, the trend will continue for tomorrow’s workout that I’m not ashamed to admit, looks a little intimidating. I’m reasonably sure it won’t kill me, though.
After a brief hiatus from CX racing following the Outdoors, Inc. race, jumping back in on Saturday was a little like hopping into a chilly pool. I’ve started my last cycle of training intensity before Worlds, and the two races over the weekend were an effective addition to the stress.
Saturday morning was cold- somewhere around 30 degrees. We bundled up and rode over to a nearby church for the first annual Cordova Cross race. Once we were registered, we rode a couple of laps of the course to stay warm. The course itself was pretty boss and contained most of the fun/challenging elements that you could ask for in a cyclocross race- fast sections, mud pit, uphill barriers, sketchy-steep turns, power sections… all packed in to a relatively short loop around the church property. The field was divided in to A, B, and Women’s groups for scoring, though we all started together. I entered the women’s race, but from the start, ended up staying near the front of the pack. While I was clawing back any men that were unhitched from the lead group, Ryan was busy winning the A race, and we both took home a win in our respective categories (I landed 4th overall against the guys).
Sunday was a bit more serious. We packed up and day-tripped the Arkansas State Championship race. The promoter decided that no categories (including women’s open) racing the B race would receive a payout. Shitty. Also, being from Tennessee, I don’t qualify to win an Arkansas jersey. SO, I decided to race the men’s “A” race to see if I could grab one of the top 5 spots and take home a little cash.
The race course was sweet- it was mostly soft grass and typical CX-type terrain. However, it included one section of snotty, greasy, and occasionally rocky singletrack. When roll call started, I lined up in the front row in case anyone was wondering if I really meant business.
Of course I did… I was wearing my “business” armwarmers…
From the gun, I made an aggressive start. Ryan ended up behind me, and didn’t make it up to my wheel until around 4 laps in. This was the first race for me on Ryan’s Reynolds wheels with the Challenge Limus mud tire. As the race progressed, I got more and more comfortable with the surprising amount of traction they afforded me on the soft grass and slick trail.
They’re officially on my “awesome” list:
Also on the “awesome” list, carbon tubular wheels:
Once again, I ended up in 4th place behind 2 Arkansas men and Ryan, who finished 3rd. Another good, hard day of training in the books. The only place I feel like I’m really lacking is in the last 20 minutes of a 60 min race. Fortunately for me, the Worlds race is only 40 minutes long, so I should be able to lay the hammer down for the entirety of the race. Looking forward, the next couple of weeks is going to be a rabbithole of intensity, including two hard workouts and the TN State Championship CX race on Sunday. I foresee lots of compression tights and sleep.
It’s time for the next edition of phone photodump- lots of fun photos, not enough time/content to blog them separately…
First, from the “cool bike shit” files, is this:
No, I didn’t get a new powermeter. I decided that since I’m gunning for a world championship in Cyclocross that I should be doing a majority of my training on my cyclocross bike. So, on Saturday, I took the Quarq off of my road bike and put my cyclocross chainrings on it. Yes… shit just got serious.
The only problem that I’m running in to is that Quarq recommends that you re-calibrate the slope for your powermeter when you change the rings. They provide a table for calculating this change. However, I had new rings installed from the beginning, and I don’t know if the slope was ever changed or not. I might have to pull that crank and send it to them for calibration.
The RDO fork is pretty boss. Consider it a rigid fork multiplier… it makes everything that’s fun about riding rigid even more fun. It also makes everything that’s challenging about riding rigid a little more challenging.
I like ironing Ryan’s work clothes- especially when he brings me coffee and a pop tart.
Thor has discovered television.
Turbo, at the age of 10-ish, has discovered garbage.
Thor and Turbo also have a not-so-secret pact that he won’t bother her like he does the little dogs if she’ll allow him to snuggle on the dog bed.
Can you spot the terrier in this photo?
Tuesday evening, Matt asked if I wanted to join him and Joel at the new Memphis Skatepark for an early morning shred session. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of any good excuse to not go-
Excuse 1: “but I don’t have a bike that’s good for riding in a park”
Use the Endo Machine
Excuse 2: “but bike day is only on Monday”
It’s 6:30 in the morning. WTF do you think is going to be there at 6:30 on a weekday when it’s 30 degrees outside?
Excuse 3: “Ive got no skills, what am I going to be able to do?
You’ll have fun, trust me.
So, I was up before dawn layering myself and not really sure what to expect. Most skateparks I’ve been to are the general “street” style park, and, since I have no “street” riding ability, I didn’t know what I’d be facing. However, the Memphis park turns out to be a little bit of a throwback, with two bowls that ride somewhat like an in-ground pump track.
I f*cking LOVE PUMPTRACKS.
Joel and Matt were on BMX bikes, and were ripping around at high rates of speed. The Endo Machine wasn’t quite the park ripper- the headshock kept clunking as it repeatedly unloaded and bottomed out. Joel and Matt both took it for a spin and promptly returned it, kinda like:
All clunking aside, I still had a blast.
Watching them, I realized that a large hole in my riding abilities exists. I also realized that the Endo Machine is not an appropriate bike for riding in a skatepark and learning such skills. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s when I feel like my equipment is an excuse for my lack of performance. If I’m going to suck, it’s going to be because I (not my bike) honestly suck. So, like any normal person who is determined to shred a skatepark with the goal of becoming a well-rounded mountain biker, I went home and bought a bike:
I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this winter.
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