Show of hands…

How many of you have been around here since the blog beginning?

The Kenda road team days?

How about back during my short stint on the Metro Volkswagen team followed shortly after by a nervous breakdown which led me to mountain biking?

My first 100?  (You know… the Cohutta ’10 with all the rain and thunder?)

My first road trip to Colorado? Second?

Just started reading today?


How about that time that I decided I’d quit working my “normal” job in the bike shop and dedicate most of my free time to racing and training in an attempt to become a professional cyclist?




Wait, what?


Cannondale SuperSix EVO

I’ve had this bike since about the middle of the month, but it’s taken some tweaking to get it exactly how I like it. Essentially, this is the most awesome road bike ever (ok, if it had a set of carbon clincher wheels, that would be awesome-er, but that’s just splitting hairs). It’s equally as stiff as my previous bike- the BH Connect, but much lighter (some of that weight is frame, some is components). It makes me want to climb hills all day.

Here’s the original spec from Cannondale’s site. As you’ll see below, I swapped the stem/seatpost (the post that came with it looked janky and the stem was only 90mm, so I got the matching EC90 set from Easton), saddle (0nly one I like to ride), chainrings, and tires (the Mavic griplink/powerlink tires were scrawny- a hair under 22mm wide, so I installed some Maxxis Padrone tubleless tires). Final weight- 14 pounds, 3 ounces…


PMS Awareness Day

I’ve been wanting to bring this topic to light for a long time. However, since it involves a woman’s reproductive system, it is considered “taboo” by some. But, since a large portion of my readers are women or men who occasionally interact with women, I’m going to go for it.

For the last 17(ish?) years, I’ve suffered from premenstrual syndrome. It starts with a giant pimple (or two or three) on my face, then, over a period of 2-3 days, turns in to irritability, which escalates to terrible, wild mood swings, which are punctuated by cramps that make it feel as if my uterus is attempting to stab its way out of lower abdomen with its IUD (yeah, I just threw a birth control reference in there, too. Scared yet?) There’s usually an overlapping day of debilitating cramps and actual menstruation, but the bulk of the pain is prior to and not during.

I’ve not yet found a cure for this, and, judging by the lack of research on the topic, one isn’t likely to manifest any time soon. (maybe now that we’ve got 50 drugs to help men function sexually, women can get a little more attention from researchers). Some women have successfully taken birth control pills in a continuous manner to stop the menstrual period. I tried that, but all it did was make me have PMS with no actual period. I’m also not a fan of messing with my hormones via synthetic hormones. Apparently, if symptoms are bad enough, some doctors call it premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and are prescribing anti-depressants. Yeah, I’ll go ahead and pass on that one.

My own personal coping mechanisms involve trying to avoid situations that would magnify my mood issues, not talking if I feel as though I want to say something that might be rude or hurtful, and taking ibuprofen if the cramps get to “double over and fall down” levels of pain. Sometimes, (as you may have seen reference to on Twitter) I vent my anger by drinking a glass of wine and yelling angry feminist rants at commercials on primetime television. Otherwise, I always strive to maintain my normal activity. While it does occasionally interfere with my everyday life, I don’t see it as a handicap. It’s just a challenge that I (along with may other women) face on a regular basis.

So, ladies (and men who occasionally interact with ladies), how many of you face this challenge along with me (or know someone who does)? How do you cope? Comment here or on Facebook.


Race to the Canal Report

Before this weekend, I’d never ridden in the Land Between the Lakes area. So, when I had to make a race-schedule decision between either Race to the Canal on my mountain bike or Cyclocross in Nashville, I went with the “spend more time in the woods with gorgeous fall colors” option. Race to the Canal is a 37 mile (for Cat1 and Open categories) point-to-point race that takes the North-South and Canal Loop trails from the middle of the Land Between the Lakes peninsula to the canal at the north end. Other categories started further north.

Poolboy Matt came along to race the “37 Open” category. We arrived mid-day on Saturday, and stopped by the bike shop to get some trail info before heading out to pre-ride some of the course. The people at the Wood ‘N Wave shop are super nice (they also have a female mechanic, which just adds to the awesome). Matt was having some problems with a bad schrader valve on his fork, and they were really helpful in fixing it. The pre-ride was great. We rode the Canal Loop- half of which wasn’t race course, but we figured it was a good chance to get a feel for the landscape. The conditions were essentially perfect- a little bit of dampness had transformed the trail into mostly “hero dirt” (when the dirt is just wet enough to make it ultra-grippy), and the leaves were in full-on color change. I was excited to see the rest of the trail on Sunday.

The next morning, with the help of some friends, we got a ride to our start location just in time for the pre-race meeting. The 37 mile group was small enough that we ended up being started as a group rather than with gaps between categories. I was glad- the other two women who’d entered had already told me they weren’t going to try to race with me (makes me a little sad), so I decided I’d see if I could hang with the guys.

When the race started, a bunch of guys took off at full speed. I was near the back of the fast people when I rounded a corner to see one of them getting back on his bike. The slowdown was enough to let Matt and the other guys get down the trail and out of sight. I was immediately on the wrecked guy’s wheel, but didn’t ask to get around because it was pretty obvious that he was faster, but just needed to get his shit back together after wrecking. I was right, and soon enough, on the first climb, he disappeared into the woods, and I was alone.

I had a hard time getting into the hills at first. They were too long to be punchy and generally too short to get a good rhythm going. It took me a solid half hour to get a feel for the gear to use to get up as quickly as possible without blowing up halfway through. Between hills, the trail was crazy fast and flowy with lots of baby berms and perfect dirt. Pretty soon, I was motoring along and waiting for the guys ahead of me to get tired.

It wasn’t long before I saw a group of three guys at the top of a climb when I was at the bottom. I knew they had to be fading.

(caution- dubstep content)

I resisted the urge to catch them immediately and kept motoring at the same pace. It took what seemed like forever, but eventually, I was on Matt’s wheel (I wasn’t sure where the other guys were). He said he was having a bad day and let me around at a doubletrack spot in the trail. We about 1.5 hours in, so I kept the hammer down in search of the other two guys who I’d seen with him earlier.

I never felt tired, and found both of them within the next 15 miles. After ripping through the last couple of miles of race course, I quickly found myself climbing the road up from the trail to the finish line


Matt finished about 10 minutes later, and the 2nd place woman was about 5 minutes behind him. Our other Memphis friends, who’d raced the shorter versions, had great days as well. If you haven’t checked this trail/race out yet, I’d highly recommend marking it on your calendar for next year.


In paved-road news, My new road bike arrived exactly two weeks ago, and it is, quite possibly, the most amazing piece of carbon ever to leave a factory in Taiwan. I want to post a bunch of photos, but I’ve been (vainly) holding off because I’m waiting on a set of bottle cages that I ordered through the shop nearly 3 weeks ago. Hopefully they’ll be here this week, and I can show off the finished product.


Reservoir Cross Race Report

In order to keep travel cost to a minimum, I decided to skip the Kanis Park night race on Saturday night and just daytrip Reservoir Cross on Sunday with Poolboy Matt and one of our customers from the shop who was trying his hand at CX for the first time (kudos to him- the Reservoir course is tough and technical. Not the easiest when taking the plunge for the first time). I hate to miss a good night race, but I was being a slave to logistics.

The Little Rock area received a couple of hours’ worth of rain early Sunday morning, making the course both slick and gooey. Since everyone seems to ask, I rode the Challenge Limus tubulars that I glued up last year, and ran around 27psi front and 30psi rear. I say “about,” because I don’t know how accurate my pump is. I do, however, like how my pressure feels when my pump reads those numbers. My usual barometer for “proper” pressure is whether or not the rim hits the ground once or twice per lap when pre-riding, and it passed that muster. The Limus is a very knobby tire, and I have modified my rear one for improved rolling resistance:


The Open Women’s category was lined up behind the Cat4 men, Masters Men, and Juniors. Each group started about a minute apart. I’d told myself that I would race hard, but not totally destroy my legs so that I could race the men’s race afterward.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is impossible.

We started going straight up a paved hill. I got the holeshot and never looked back. I did, however, feel at first like I needed training wheels. I started the course turning gingerly though the mud, all over the brakes. Within a lap, though, I’d trash talked myself into going full-bore. I made it my goal to pass everyone on course that had started before me. I had a few close calls with sliding front tires and a pedal strike in the off-camber section, but I took those to mean that I was doing it right. If you aren’t the greatest bike handler, the Reservoir Park course will showcase that. I definitely could use some practice in getting my cyclocross mojo back for the season.

Halfway through the last lap, I was barreling through a really fast turn off of some pavement, looking to catch the last of the Cat 4 guys who had started first. As I loaded my front tire exiting the turn, I heard the incredibly terrifying noise of base tape and carbon unzipping from each other. Luckily, I was sliding at the same time rather than gripping. I continued on with the course, only to realize that the “I want to roll off the rim” noise was a result of the loss of pressure in my front tire. I managed to nurse it around the remainder of the course and finish before it was totally flat. Winning… but not my much over 14-year-old up & coming Emma Drummond. She’s going to be hot on my heels real soon.


The course ended up taking out an abnormally large number of tires that day. I saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 flats during the Open race (I decided that since I’d bombed through the first race and flatted that I’d bail on the 2nd race). Poolboy Matt flatted two himself. Upon closer inspection, all three of our flats were punctures in the same shape, size, and orientation in the tread. I’ll post some high-res pics later.


I like fixing bikes.

It’s mostly about solving (or preventing) a problem (or several problems). Usually, it’s a worn out, broken, sticky, or otherwise compromised part, but sometimes, frame manufacturers give mechanics a problem with brand new bikes… the perfect example being the presence of normal, road bike cable housing stops on a cyclocross frame.

I’ve posted before about my dislike of open cable on any bike that will be ridden in any condition other than “dry.” It’s just dumb. There’s no point in putting a break in a bike’s cable housing if there’s any chance that, on a regular basis, you’re going to ride the bike in a manner that would foul the cables with mud and/or water. Even so, it’s how most cyclocross bikes are manufactured.

In the past, I’ve just dealt with it, changing out shift cable and housing on a somewhat regular basis for a stable of cyclocross bikes. I’ve also used Gore sealed housing kits, only to find that while, yes, they do keep stuff out, with modern shifters (cable routing under the bar tape) and drop handlebars, the amount of drag is terrible because of the interaction between the stiffness of the housing and bend from shifter around the bars (in their defense, the sealed housing kits work beautifully on mountain bikes and road bikes with the older-style, externally cabled shimano shifters). Just recently, I zip-tied a full length housing to the frame of Ryan’s “A” bike. It works flawlessly. I’ll also be the first to admit, though, it doesn’t look very good.

So, when I installed a Gore housing kit on my new Cannondale SuperX (yeah, I’m doubling up on Cannondales this season) and the shifting was crappy and heavy, I decided to go one up on the solid housing by using a drill to convert cable stop to “housing holder.”

Side note: Before I tell you all about taking a drill to my bike, let’s talk about warranty. Some bike companies can be evil, and, if you modify your frame in such a way, then your seat tube cracks up the middle, they’ll refuse your warranty, even though it’s highly obvious that the two events are, in no way, shape, or form, related to each other. From my dealings at the shop, I can tell you that Cannondale is not this sort of company (Niner isn’t, either). However, it goes without saying, that if one of my drilled cable stops breaks, falls off, or suffers any other cable-stop related malady, it’s my fault, and there is no warranty to speak of. Your frame manufacturer may be somewhere in the middle with their warranty philosophy… I’d advise you to find out prior to drilling if that sort of thing concerns you.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

I started by looking around on the internet for technique recommendations. I saw some good advice about protecting the frame with tape in case the drill bit gets jumpy, so I put a layer of Gorilla Tape around the downtube housing stop:


Next, I started with a small drill bit. How small? No idea on the numerical size, but it was a little bigger than the existing hole. Even with a not-so fresh drill battery, the bit went through the carbon stop like it was made of butter (so easy, I ended up not using tape when I drilled the stop on the chainstay. A metal stop may have offered more resistance). I prettymuch just repeated the process with increasingly large bits until a piece of 4mm housing fit through the stop with just a little friction. Done and done:


Depending on the frequency of cable stops on your frame, you will likely still need to use at least a couple of zip-ties to run the full-length housing. I typically wrap a piece of electrical tape around the tubing prior to mounting the housing/zip tie in order to keep the frame from getting rubbed at the mounting location. It’s still not perfect on the “looks” scale, but it’s a lot nicer than having the cable housing run next to unused housing stops.

Side note #2: I use Jagwire L3 lined cable housing for the best shift quality, though I’ve used less expensive stuff with equal success. The thought that using full-run housing will noticeably increase friction and drag on the cable is balderdash. Sure, from a physics standpoint, yes, there’s more friction on the cable when there’s more housing. However, I’d like to see you do a blind, side-by-side test, and see if you can tell the difference in lever feel between broken and solid housing. You’re sure as heck gonna notice a difference when the broken housing gets fouled. I digress…

I rode yesterday. The verdict? AWESOME. It’s only a matter of time before the Scott Addict CX undergoes the same surgery:


With the forecast for Sunday’s Reservoir Cross looking like “mud,” I can’t wait to plow through the slop with perfect shifting.


I just noticed on my “stats” page that a lot of people are finding my blog via searching for “Cyclocrunk.” The series started tonight, and, for various reasons that would likely bring drama to my blog, I’m not doing it this year. Here’s the link to the Cyclocrunk site, and, if you need more information about the race than what the promoter has provided on the site (such as location, race format, etc.) you should call Victory Bicycle studio.





Yoga and Chainrings

As I mentioned last week in my confessions, I haven’t been going to yoga as often or as consistently as I’d like to. I’ve definitely done better on the consistency part since I’ve been every Tuesday and Saturday for the last few weeks. I could squeeze in a 6am Thursday class  like I was earlier in the summer, but I’m not sure if losing the hour and a half of sleep would be 100% productive from a recovery standpoint. Plus, the 2 hours of cyclocross training on my current Thursday training schedule would be nearly impossible to complete if I wanted to be at work on time (at the Cordova store, we keep the shop open ’til 8 on Thursdays, so I’d go in at noon).

I did discover the most amazing class, though. Arline’s 10:30 “level 3” Vinyasa Flow on Saturday. It’s unlike any other class I’ve been to- the music is a little louder, and the poses are often things I’ve never done. The entire thing is like one long dance, and most of the time, there will be at least one or two moves that I don’t yet have the strength/flexibility to do more than attempt. Not that all yoga classes aren’t challenging, but this one takes the challenge up to notches I can’t yet reach, and I love it!

In bike-related news, I discovered a huge first world problem involving plans for my new road bike. Seems that a compact rotor chainring in size 52t won’t fit on the Quarq made for the Cannondale Hollowgram crank:

I’m thinking about exchanging them for a set of CX-sized rings, but I’m 100% sure yet. I’m a little sad that I’m going to have to settle for some less-sexy, round FSA chainrings. First world problems, right?

Yesterday, my plight garnered a little ribbing at the shop, and, as I poke fun at myself here, I can be glad that I have these problems now. “Eat or pay bills” is not the easiest way to get through grad school, but it did give me a greater appreciation for the easy life I lead now.


Still Waiting

I know that everyone is waiting and watching my blog every single day for news about what’s up & coming for 2013 (jeez, 2013? It’s just now starting to get a little chilly, and I’m talking about 2013). In case you actually are, the only update I can give you is that yesterday, I got news that almost makes me want to get my hopes up. However, I’ve made that mistake in the past, so for now, I’m just going to talk about pets and stuff.

For all of my roadie friends who read, keep watching in the next couple of weeks. I’m getting one of these. I actually ordered it back in August, but it won’t ship from Cannondale until the 8th. The first order of business? Take the super-pimp one-piece spider/chainring set off of the Hollowgram crank and install this (with a set of Rotor chainrings, which are also on order):

Of course, I’ve been super excited about getting it. Yesterday, the excitement really hit home when I was working on a customer’s several-years-old carbon road bike and realized how the graphics and bigass carbon weave look a little dated. My BH Connect looks very much the same way. Don’t get me wrong- I love that bike. We’ve done a lot of ass-kicking together, and it really is an awesome bike- it’s super stiff, and the fit is perfect. I can only imagine that getting a new bike will be much like a police officer getting a new partner when his old one retires. If it’s anything like my Cannondale SuperX, I won’t be disappointed.

In less exciting news, my “no wheat” experiment is going well. I can’t say that I notice any difference in overall health or wellness, but it has removed a source of high-density calories from my diet, so I’ve lost a small amount of weight (consistently 1/2 a pound of morning weight lower than before I started). I made wheat-free chicken nuggets the other night by taking gluten-free pretzels and crushing them in the food processor before seasoning them, dipping them in egg, then rolling them around in the pretzels. I baked them for 15 minutes, but I’m guessing you could pan-fry them instead if you’re so inclined. They were pretty delicious baked.

And, because everyone loves animal photos, here are some of  Indy and Thor kitty. Thor is the most awkward sleeper, ever.



It’s been since the Breck Epic that I used a foam roller.

I haven’t had a massage since I was in Breckenridge.

I haven’t visited my chiropractor since August.

I’ve developed a strong affinity to having a “glass” of wine most nights (a pint-sized wine glass counts as a glass, right?)

I haven’t obeyed the old adage “Don’t walk if you can stand. Don’t stand if you can sit. Don’t sit if you can lay down” following my first few hard rides back into training.

It took me a long time to get back to going to yoga classes on a regular basis after my trip West. I’m back at it now, but a change in my work location means that I’m only getting to class 2 days per week. I have no other excuse except, “I haven’t made time to do more.”


In other words, somewhere in the past few weeks, I fell out of the habit of taking care of myself. It finally caught up to me on Sunday when I couldn’t bring myself to finish a 4 hour ride because I was too exhausted. I ended up riding 2.5 hours and going home to recover.
It’s nobody’s fault but my own. So, like fixing a yard that’s been unkempt for months, I’m tackling one issue at a time. Sunday following my partially failed training ride, I ate, picked up dog food, then sat on the couch for most of the afternoon. The last two nights, I’ve spent about 20 minutes with the various roller-type devices to work the knots out of my hips and thighs. I drank the last of the wine last night, and I probably shouldn’t buy any more for a while.

The other stuff, I’ll work on. I transferred over to the Outdoors bike shop on Poplar (in East Memphis- a 20 minute drive vs. the 5 minutes to Cordova), and the hours of the shop are different, so I don’t have the long mornings a couple of days a week like I did before. As a result, I’m having to choose between recovery ride, yoga, or chiropractor (a massage has been out of the question). Usually the ride wins out. I know all of this stuff seems like absolute “1st world problems,” but, as someone trying to be faster than everyone else riding a bike, they’re hurdles I’m going to have to clear.

Along the way, I’m trying to make small changes to the way I eat. I’ve recently decided to give up wheat for a month. I’ve read enough educated guesses and anecdotal evidence to think that it may be a good idea to get carbohydrates elsewhere. I suggest you do your own research and see why- there are plenty of arguments both ways.

So, the recovery “lifestyle” train is slowly getting started pulling its load of fall training volume. It’s almost overwhelming to look ahead, but I’ve been here before, and it’s totally doable.