Two unrelated things, enhanced by Charlie Sheen

In random order.

I’ve recently fallen in love with Pearl Izumi’s “drop tail” bib tights/shorts because they make the only disadvantage to wearing bibs no longer a disadvantage.If you look at the photo, there’s a waistband across the back…

However, they previously only made them in the “elite” line, which is not as nice as the “PRO” line. Honestly, I’d call them downright chintzy. Being the gear snob that I am, I was excited to see a pair of “PRO” level shorts labeled as “drop tail”  pop up on their website. They look like this:

Wait a minute, now… something seems to be missing. Where’s the waistband? After a little internet searching brought about no answers, I sent the following email to Pearl:

“I have a question about the W P.R.O. In-R-Cool® Bib Short. In the Product description on the website, it says that these are a drop tail bib short, but the photo is of shorts without a drop tail. I have a pair of the elite droptail bibs that I like, but I’d like to get something in the PRO series if it’s available. Thanks”

Within 24 hours, I had an answer:

“The new women’s P.R.O. bib does have a drop tail, but it’s not as large and doesn’t use the same overlapping panel as the one on the ELITE Bibs.  Basically, there’s a small clip on the strap in the center/back that allows it to separate so you can pull the back of the shorts down without having to remove your jersey to un-do the suspenders. Thanks for choosing Pearl Izumi!”

I looked at the photo again and saw what they were talking about. Wow, really? I sent the following reply back to the person who had previously given me such a quick answer:

“I see that now… honestly, the thought of having to unclip, pee, then fish around under a jersey AND re-clip a buckle in the center of my back sounds like a bigger hassle than removing a jersey and pulling the suspenders down. Not to sound sexist, but did a man come up with that idea? It’s not practical at all.”

So far, I’ve heard nothing but crickets. My next email to Pearl Izumi will include Charlie Sheen Quotes.

“I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”

In non-Pearl Izumi hating news, I love being resourceful. I realized a couple of miles from my house this morning that the drive side crank arm on my A9C was loose. I don’t have a 10mm allen on my multi-tool, so I thought I was going to have to cut y ride short to limp home and fix it. However, I realized shortly into my limp home that I passed right by a Coleman Transmission Repair shop. At first, I got an odd look from the guy at the desk when I pushed my bike into the lobby, but once I explained my situation, he disappeared into the back for a minute, came back with a 10mm, and I was able to tighten it back down and be on my way (hopefully that was a one-time occurrence. Time will tell).

Back at It

Through my whirlwind 4 seasons as a bike racer, I’ve figured out that I need as much mental recovery from racing/training as much as I need physical recovery. If I skip that step, then I’ll end up in the same place I was when I broke down, quit the Metro VW team, and nearly threw my road bike in the Mississippi River in the process.

The lead-in to a big race like Southern Cross is not necessarily stressful. It just involves a lot of focus- eat right, train right, go to bed on time, etc. The race itself is both physically and mentally taxing. Physically…  that’s obvious. I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor, but I know enough from past training that I was laying down a solid near/at/over threshold effort for every second of the 3 hours and 44 minutes of racing.

Mentally? Well, for starters, It’s a little scary to be putting that sort of effort out on the first climb. I’ve done it in the past, and it’s only resulted in heartbreak a la Southern Cross 2009 and Cohutta 2010. This time, I had to do it and have faith in both my pre-race training plan and my during-race eating plan. Later in the race, I had to keep yelling at myself to resist the urge to slow down. On the second climb, I ignored a lot of screaming from my legs. Everything but my brain was saying “chill… pace yourself… use the 34×26…”

When I crossed the finish line, I wanted to scream, laugh, cry, and sleep all at the same time. The mental release is pretty intense.

For the few days following, I tried my best to live “normally” instead of like a wannabe pro bike racer. I rode a little, ate pizza, and drank beer. It worked out well since we had a kickass open house planned at work. It was kind of a combination meet & greet for some of the new staff, chance to show off how insanely clean the shop is, and release party for our new stock of Niner bikes. Yep- you heard it right- Outdoors, Inc. is officially a Niner dealer now!

So the timing on that worked out well. Today I got up, milled around the house a bit, then went out for a 4 hour ride. My legs and my brain felt superb, and I made 70 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes at a zone 2 effort. Looking at my schedule on Training Peaks, I’m excited to see a killer block of training on the calendar. I feel the need to quote Charlie Sheen right now…

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): http://xxcmag.com/?p=590

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.

Spring!

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…