Syllamo Sunday

I realize that my previous post about Saturday’s ride at Syllamo was rather brief, but it was generally an ordinary (if you can call it that) ride at Syllamo- lots of rocks, some hike-a-bike, and a nice 3 hours of enjoying the singletrack. What made it even nicer was watching Ryan get better & more confident at riding his single speed through some of the rocky stuff (first time singlespeed on “real” trails for him).

Sunday was a fun change from the usual solo riding. We met up with a couple of friends from the Roadbikereview Lounge. The original plan was to ride the Yellow trail, though that was foiled when Scott went face-side down when he got squirrley down one of the hills. He broke a shifter, bar end, bent an axle, and generally roughed himself up in the process.

I’ve done more than one trailside singlespeed conversion out there, so I helped him rig his bike to a suitable gear, and we made our way back to the red trail (much more do-able on a broken-ish bike). After a scenic lap, we drove down to the green trail for a touch more rock garden and overlook (Scott hiked while Ryan, John, and I rode)

Even with the technical difficulties, it was a great morning with friends on the trail. It was a nice change of pace from the usual solitude that comes with riding such an isolated trail system. Looking forward to next time!

Health and Fitness Mag- Brief Correction

For any of you locals that have seen my little profile section in the latest Memphis Health and Fitness magazine, I wanted to provide you with a little extra dialog that was changed in the editing process of the email-interview. I can see how it needed to be edited down for brevity, so here is the original (edited sections in bold)

Q: How do you feel about being a woman in a male-dominated sport?
Q: There are not a lot of women in the sport. What got you involved?

A: I got involved when some trail running friends of mine (the Warthogs!) invited me out for a bike ride one day, and I fell in love with it. As far as the involvement of women, I try to ignore the gender factor when it comes to trying new things. I don’t shy away from an activity just because it’s traditionally male-dominated. Heck, as far as I know, there’s only one other female mechanic in the city. I don’t think it should really matter, but a lot of women doubt their abilities and won’t try new things simply because they are always questioning themselves, and it leads to intimidation. Sorry to flip the feminist switch, but in cycling as well as in my past job as a college teacher, I’ve seen it over and over- young women who doubt themselves so much, are so afraid of failure or “looking stupid,” that they just won’t try. I hate it. But, on a positive note, the women (or anyone, for that matter) who do step past the boundaries of their comfort zones and try something new are always really inspiring to me.

There ya go… enjoy!

A quick double…

…and, while looking for that last link to LaRuta, I stumbled upon this woman’s blog: Louise Kobin

I’ve never met her, but judging by the photo of her carrying what looks to be a snow bike of equal mass to her own bodyweight across a small body of water, I think she deserves a spot in the “fast women” list over to the right side of your screen… usually a “privledge” (yes, I use that term very lightly!) reserved for people I’ve met/raced with, but I’m guessing we’ll cross paths eventually!

Syllamo!

It’s been a while, but Ryan and I are packing up the single speeds and heading to Syllamo again this weekend. It’s been long enough since I’ve ridden there, that I’ve never actually had the One9 on those particular trails. Unless, of course, you count the epic fail that was my attempted Summer ride a few months ago. Still got scars from that one.

Hopefully the green trail logging that I’ve heard about recently isn’t as horrible as everyone says it is. Somehow, though, I doubt that. I’ve already got 1 mile of brush-infested logging area on my adopted 4 miles of orange trail. It was nearly overgrown by May this year. Unless the Forest Service can provide volunteer trail workers with Roundup and a backpack, there’s no way that the logged parts are going to stay clear. I keep saying that I’m going to write an email to someone, but like most other people that complain, there’s a sizable gap between what I complain about and what I’m willing to deal with in order to be lazy and do nothing at all.

At least the fall colors will still be pretty.

Random point of interest: Remember my Formula R1s that were trashed at Fool’s Gold? I ended up sending them in to Formula for repairs. The diaphragms inside the brake bodies had imploded, and one of the pistons needed to be replaced. I asked the tech if there was a different model that he’d recommend for extreme conditions such as those, and he (rahter snidely) informed me that there was no brake of ANY brand that would continue to work when the pads were worn through, and that there would be riders at La Ruta on Formula Brakes.

Uh, yeah.

I guess I should have clarified that what I really meant was “what brake will I be able to service at home following a race of brake pad doom the magnitude of Fool’s Gold?” The damaged piston, I understand- that’s going to happen to any brake once the pad is (literally) gone. The imploded diaphragms? Not so sure that every brake will experience such a malady. I think I’ll put the Formulas back onto my Jet9 since I likely won’t be racing it in adverse conditions.

Speaking of components, I’ve decided that I’m going to be slightly more open minded on component choice when it comes to building my next mountain bike. It’s mostly the availability of some sweet employee pricing on either major manufacturers (SRAM and Shimano), but it’s also a little bit of “hell hath no fury”… I sent a race resume and whatnot to the Grassroots folks at SRAM a couple of times and never got so much as a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” back from them. That doesn’t mean I am automatically a Shimano person now, it just means that I’m willing to at least research the latest/greatest Shimano componentry before I decide what’s going on the A9C that I’m hoping to get in December…

Well, that was random.

Outdoors, Inc Cyclocross Championship

I was hoping to have a great race report for you all to read, but yesterday’s race was not really deserving.

I was really stoked when I saw that some other 1/2/3 women had signed up for the race. One of them- Kat Williams- was borrowing my Surly Crosscheck. I learned later that when she was warming up, she’d ridden part of a lap of the course then gone back to the car to ask how she was supposed to shift (it’s a singlespeed).

When the race started, I took the holeshot. For the first and part of the second lap, I swapped leads with Heather Ladd from Little Rock (the last time I raced Heather was at the Ouachita Challenge- we were leapfrogging each other on the first part of the race when I had to stop and pee. She ended up beating me by a little less than a minute.) Then, over a bumpy, rooty section, I dropped my chain. Damned single ring…

So, I stopped and put my chain back on, then started chasing. The top-end power I needed for chasing was not there. Eventually, Kat caught up to me and passed me (she caught Heather as well and ended up winning- considering she’d never ridden a singlespeed, and the bike weight was likely equal to a quarter of her body weight, it was a monumental case of “it’s not about the bike”). I hung out in 3rd place, hoping that none of the cat 4 women would catch up to me. Heather was never more than about 20 seconds ahead of me, I just couldn’t get the power out to close the gap.

A couple of photos that Ryan took before he went to warm up for his race…

I know that cyclocross intensity has not been the focus of my training. I went for a 3 hour endurance ride in the rain on Saturday. That’s generally been my training lately. I guess this is relevant to my previous post. It’s a sacrifice I’ve made in pursuit of a more important goal.

Losing still sucks ass, though.

In other news- we just got a new kitty from a local rescue group! He’s super sweet, has already gained 20 grams (we weighed him on the kitchen/bike parts scale), and he’s quite fearless.

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In pursuit of…

This.

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No, I’m not in the pursuit of a cover on “Road” Magazine or the handsome man that graces it. I’m in pursuit of the raw emotion that’s going on there. It’s the payoff for hours of hard work and the myriads of sacrifices you make.

I hadn’t thought as much about it until a conversation I had with a customer the other day. I don’t remember the exact topic, but it was something along the lines of, “no, I’ve never gone to that place, never watch that show, and never do X other things, because from the moment I wake up at 5:00am until I go to bed at 9:3opm, my life revolves around cycling.”

I’m not complaining. I like it. But, other people (even some cycling friends I have) don’t always understand just how dedicated you have to get in order to experience what the young man in the photo above is experiencing. It’s those few seconds when you come to the realization that everything you’ve been working towards for weeks/months/years is finally culminating into epic win.

It means I have mornings like today, where I am up at 4:30, have fed the dogs/eaten/had multiple servings of coffee by 5:30, go to the grocery store (they’re a lot different at 5:30am than they are at 5:30pm), ride for 1-1.5 hours, shower, have 2nd breakfast, clean house, do laundry, write a blog post, etc. before leaving to go to work at 9:40.

Work has turned out a little differently than I’d expected when I started a month and a half ago. Not bad different, but since both of my original coworkers have now moved on to other jobs, I’m unofficially “in charge” of the Outdoors, Inc. Cordova bike shop. I have very high standards, and it makes for days where I eat lunch during the 5-10 minutes it takes to enter stock/customer orders into the request form we use and am otherwise on the phone or elbows deep in bike repairs. It’s prettymuch non-stop from the minute I get there.

Once I’m home, sometimes I’ll go to the gym for some circuit training. I usually don’t want to go because I’m tired, but, once again, see photo above. I do my best to make a decent dinner for Ryan and myself, though, I admit, since I started working ’til 6 most weekdays, we’ve been hitting the Kashi frozen pizzas pretty damn hard. By the time we eat, we might have time to watch an episode or two of Ice Road Truckers on Hulu before passing out.

No, it’s not for everyone. I have a hard time imagining it any other way, though.

…and I still don’t stink.

A while back, I posted that I’d stopped using soap. Well, it’s been since March, and other than handwashing, I’m still soap and antiperspirant free. I figured I’d post an update since apparently it’s a trend that’s become a bit more mainstream: NYT Article

In other news, I’ve got a short interview/profile in the latest issue of Memphis’s Health and Fitness Magazine. It looks like traffic around is up since it hit the stands. If you’re reading this for the first time, drop a comment & let me know!

In the pursuit of more bike bling…

Back before Cyclocrunk, I decided that the 40cm FSA Compact bars were too narrow. Actually, I’d decided that they were too narrow about a year before that, but I didn’t work at a shop then, so I was being cheap and just dealing with them. I swapped the 40s out for a pair of **Edge 42s I had laying around on the spare parts shelf. I liked the width, but the shape was pretty lame (ignore the dirty hoods):

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So a couple of weeks ago, I ordered some “wet white” FSA compacts in 42cm.

This morning, while waiting for it to warm up outside, I swapped the bars over with the intention of re-wrapping them with some pretty blue Fizik tape that I’d had around the house for a while. Once I’d perfected the bar angle and position of the shifters, I broke out said tape, only to find that it wanted to crack and split when I pulled it tight…

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I sent an email with photos to Fizik’s warranty department, and they wrote me back this morning letting me know that they would immediately send some new tape to me (yay for customer service!) Hopefully it gets here by next weekend so I can be ready for the Outdoors, Inc Midsouth Championship race, because as of right now, this is how it stands (Mr Clean Magic Eraser for the hoods, BTW):

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**The story of the Edge bars is slightly mosr interesting than the bars themselves. The summer after my post-Metro nervous breakdown (go back & search March/April 2009 posts if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I raced the Oxford Crit Series on a composite team with Debbie Milne. The 2nd day, she was off the front and won a prime (matching Edge bars and stem) while I baby-sat the other women back in the field. After the race, she gave me the bars.