brickhouseracing

August 3, 2010

Summertime Syllamo Trail Conditions

Filed under: Trails — Andrea @ 2:18 pm

I’m very sad to type this right now, but I found out yesterday (the hard way, of course) that there are frequent sections of overgrowth on my favorite trails. Violent, thorny, skin-ripping overgrowth. I left Memphis yesterday in hopes to go for a short ride on the Red trail then head out for a longer blue/orange ride this morning. However, once I was on the trail, my hopes for fun rides quickly faded into visions of blood and spiders.

Well, I’d say that about 90% of the trail was OK. It was a little bushy, but as long as you watched out for new deadfall and rocks, you’d be OK…

good

However, the bad, overgrown parts were really bad…

bad

I managed about 7 miles of the loop before I said “eff it” and took a bail-out trail back to Green Mountain road. I was bleeding from my elbows and knees, and (despite saturating myself with bugsray) wondered how many spiders, ticks, and chiggers were invading my skin. It sucked.

seeds

glove

ow1

leg

bugs

BTW- those little brown dots are bugs of some sort. Chiggers? Ticks? I have no idea. I hosed them with bug spray so they’d stay put in the time before I got into the shower. I was pretty disappointed in the whole thing.

After getting back to the cabin & cleaning up, I headed back down to Anglers for some catfish, then made it back to the cabin just in time to catch the tail end of the sunset, which made things a little better…

toes3

July 30, 2010

Gutter Bunny Ride

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 7:33 pm

Back before I left for Colorado, Jason Oakley (from Outdoors, Inc.) and I started a group ride that we deemed the Gutter Bunny Ride. Every Thursday at 6(ish), we head out for a ride that will include roads, dirt, and usually some sort of hike-a bike. Rain or shine, we go out and have an awesome time.

Google Earth screenshot of the route:

route

Here are some phone photos from this Thursday’s adventure (most are foggy- it started raining… a lot)

cloud

climb

bridge

bike

July 29, 2010

Sponsorship Requests- better than internet dating

Filed under: Bike Racing,Product Reviews,Training — Andrea @ 8:05 am

I won’t try and keep it a secret- since I arrived home from Colorado, I’ve been sending my race resume and bio out to my favorite companies. Chances are, some of the people I’ve sent it to are reading this post right now. It feels like internet dating- I like you, I send you my info, then anxiously await a reply back, hoping to gain your approval.

I hope that you (people I’ve requested sponsorship from) realize that I’m more “e-harmony” than “adult friend finder.” I mean, I’m honestly looking for support from companies that I already really love and extole the virtues of to all of my friends and riding partners (both on the internet AND in real life). You got a request not just because I’m in need of some help for 2011, but also because I love your stuff, and I want to help spread the word so that you can keep on making awesome stuff for years to come.

Sponsoring me is a hell of a lot cooler than a first date, because, unlike the date, you know you love me already ;)

July 27, 2010

Ladies- Race Singlespeed

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 5:28 am

I love riding singlespeed. The races I want to go to generally don’t have women’s singlespeed categories, though. I don’t blame them- there are relatively few women who race (compared to men), so asking them to break the women’s race down further to include a SS category is kinda tough.

Namrita at 55nine had told me that if 3 women would be willing to race SS at Fool’s Gold that she’d make it a separate category. Awesome!!! Oh, wait- that means I need to find two other women who will race SS.

Anyone? Anyone?

I posted the same question over in the Endurance forum on MTBR, and that’s kinda the response I’ve gotten so far.

So- ladies… Why don’t you want to race singlespeed? It’s fun. There’s less stuff to break and less shifting to worry about. If something is too steep to ride, you just walk. No big deal. Try it. Race it. Get obsessed like I have. Let me know if you’re interested in Fool’s Gold & we’ll talk to Namrita.

Edit- as an aside, if you ladies were to race it SS, what gear would you use? I was thinking 32×20, but I’ve got options…

July 26, 2010

ORAMM Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 9:44 pm

I’ve never been to ORAMM (Offroad Assault on Mt. Mitchell) before, and I didn’t know much about the race other than it’d be a good test of how my legs and blood would agree to some sea-level climbing. Since the race was somewhat of a late addition to my calendar, and not really an “A” race, I figured I’d have nothing to lose and went in to the weekend with the intention of really pushing past my usual comfort zone and seeing what would happen.

I was lucky enough to get some sage advice about what the course was like and how to ride the start of the race. So, with that in mind, I lined up near the front and cleared my head. The next half hour was absolutely awesome- I used my pack skills to stay safely in the top 50 or so until the first climb, then I laid down a really nice, hard tempo on the way up. The goal was to make it to the singletrack in (or near) contact with my competitors.

Of course, Carey Lowery chased me down on the first hill. She sat on my wheel for a bit before popping around on a steep spot and riding off. I didn’t want to go harder than I already was, so I figured I’d hold my pace and see what happened. Just as we reached the singletrack, Paula Burks passed me. I stayed on her wheel and figured she’d be a good person to follow.

Then, something unexpected happened.We started making our way up the switchbacks of the Kitsuma climb, and, even though I’d been feeling like a badass up until that point, I prettyuch imploded. Yeah. At about mile 10, my legs called it a day… Only 52 more miles to go.

About that time, another woman (who later dropped out at Aid 3) passed me. I backed off and tried to recover. The next 10 miles was kind of a blur. I resigned myself to just finishing the race off as a hard training ride. Then, just when I thought that the day was going to be pretty crappy, it got downright ishtty. I was clicking down the final descent before the 9 mile Curtis Creek climb when I got a little sideways in some gravel. I overcorrected and wrecked into the grass on the side of the trail.

Before I finished wrecking, I knew something was horribly wrong with my right hand. As I came to a stop, I realized that my thumb wasn’t exactly where it should be inside my glove, and it was in excruciating pain. Lucky for me, mild dislocations are accompanied by a natural instinct about how to go about fixing them. I grabbed my thumb, felt a pop, and it was back in its usual spot. All I could think about was how much cooler it would be to have a trick shoulder like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon:

I got back on, and kept making my way down. My hand hurt, but it was manageable. At the aid station, I refilled, had a couple of bites of PB&J, then started up Curtis Creek. I was able to shift by palming my gripshift, so everything was good… aside from my back starting to hurt and the outer two toes on my left foot feeling like they were catching on fire.

Once I was at the top, I got my drop bag, swapped out a gel flask, refilled my wingnut pack, and took the aspirin & electrolytes that I’d stashed. During that time, two other women showed up at the aid station, so I made sure to hurry up & get out before they did. I realized on the next descent that my race was going to be harder than I’d thought… I couldn’t wrap my right thumb around the handlebar without being in a lot of pain, so I was descending with an open grip. It worked OK on the forest road, but would soon prove to be problematic.

The next chunk of miles generally sucked- on the next piece of forest road, I got passed by the woman who eventually won 3rd. I caught her again at the next aid and made a good gap up the next bit of paved climb & hike-a-bike, but then came a long, tech-y descent off of Heartbreak Ridge. As I tried to nurse my hand down the mountain, I had to fully grip my bars. It hurt. A lot. She quickly caught and passed me. At one point, I clipped a stump that was hiding in the brush just off the trail and almost endo-ed. The impact popped my thumb again, sending searing pain up my arm and bringing me to tears. I got pissed off. Really pissed off. I decided that I was going to ignore the pain and catch her.

I was going to catch and pass her or wreck trying.

I caught back up and tried to stay with her. She offered to let me pass, but kept gapping me over the rougher sections of trail. We hit some switchbacks, and I wiped out again. She was immediately out of sight. I kept chasing, and passed a lot of men that had moved to the side of the trail to let her pass. However, I never caught back up.

The remainder of the race was uneventful. The route went back up & over Kitsuma, where, though I was looking forward to riding the switchbacks without the traffic that I’d dealt with before, I was unable to do so because I started to massively cramp.

WTF? Seriously? I was hydrated and had taken plently of electrolytes… it was just exertional. Insult to injury, I guess. I ended up walking most of the last climb because every time I tried to pedal, my legs would turn into a knot. Luckily, I didn’t get caught by any other women, so I ended up 4th.

podium

At least the dogs were impressed.

I’m actually not too disappointed. I felt really good about the start, but I just need the legs to back it up. Working on it. My thumb had been on & off of ice today. It’s still swollen, and I can’t grip anything with it, but it’ll be OK. Next up is Ore to Shore and Fool’s Gold. I need to let my thumb heal, so I don’t want to get out & bounce it around offroad, but hand position on my road bike right now is problematic. I’m thinking of some creative rigging with duct tape and a washcloth. I’ll be sure to post photos.

In the meantime, Matt was beating me by just over an hour. Must have been the burger from the night before…

burger

July 21, 2010

An open letter to my legs

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:22 pm

Dear legs,

I know that Saturday was hard for you two, so I’ll forgive you for being so weak today. However, you’ve got 4 nights worth of sleep to recover before ORAMM. Just making sure you know. Thanks!

Andrea

Days 26 and 27- The Road Home

Filed under: Out West Trip — Andrea @ 7:25 am

I’m not gonna lie- the drive out of Breckenridge was depressing… as was the grunt on I-70 to Denver. Within a short time, all I could see of the mountains in my rearview were the big, fluffy clouds that float over them. I set my cruise control at 80 and did my best to not look back.

The drive was just boring. I seriously considered staying up and driving through the night, but I was so uncomfortably sore and bruised up that I decided to stop in Tulsa and get some sleep. The next day, I found comfort in seeing the Ouachitas as I passed through western Arkansas. Of course, they aren’t the same, but they are where I’ve cut my teeth as both a trail runner and mountain biker, so they feel like home.

When I stopped in Conway for lunch, I felt mild culture shock. I’d forgotten how large everyone was in The South. I wanted a salad, but all of the ones on the menu included chicken. Then, I noticed that on the entire menu, the closest thing to a vegetarian entree was a grilled cheese off of the kids’ menu. I ended up ordering a crispy chicken salad without the crispy chicken.

Then, it was on for the final push to Memphis. I don’t know about you all, but I love the Memphis skyline. I knew I was home when I almost wrecked while admiring it- there was an old, rusted out truck pulling an equally decrepit trailer that was stacked well above cab-level with wooden pallets “secured” with a rope that was looped around the pallets and under the bottom of the trailer several times. He was in the middle lane going about 40 mph.

Ah… home sweet home.

Some things, you can only get in Memphis. I heard this song on the radio soon after avoiding that truck. No matter how awesome my travels are, the first line of the song (~35 seconds in, after the Biggie sample/hook) still rings true (warning, there are some “bad words” in this song)…

July 20, 2010

Singletrack.com Article

Filed under: Bike Racing,Out West Trip — Andrea @ 8:54 am

Hey, I’m “Equally as impressive…” as the fast chicks!

Breck 100 article on Singletrack.com

July 18, 2010

Day 25- Breck 100 Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Out West Trip — Andrea @ 11:06 pm

I picked a heck of a race for a first try at a singlespeed 100.

With a reported 13,719 feet of climbing- much of it on singletrack, the Breckenridge 100 is considered one of the hardest 100 mile races in the U.S. (and, yes, before you ask… even harder than the Leadville 100).

I arrived at Carter Park early and set up a small pit area, and soon enough people were gathering for the neutral rollout from the park to the beginning of the course. At 6:00am, we were off. Loop 1 started with the tallest of the climbs (a hair under 12,500 feet) over Wheeler pass (the same climb I was on a little over a week ago when I ran in to the insanity that is mountain weather). I did my best to pace myself on the way up. Even though I was feeling good, I walked the pitches of road that were redlining me.

Once we were off of the jeep road and on to Wheeler Trail, I had some bad luck. Going up one sharp uphill pitch, the guy in front of me stalled out. I tried to put my foot down, but the ground dropped away so steeply from the side of the trail, there was nothing to put it on, and I somersaulted down the hill sideways and slid another 10 feet or so. Luckily, the ground was soft, and I rolled into a good tuck until everything stopped spinning. The descent on the other side was precarious- the trail is steep and covered in a lot of loose dirt and rocks. Even though I was being more careful than usual, I still managed to fall and split my shin on a rock. The two spills were enough to shake my confidence a bit the rest of the way down.

After a few miles of bike path, the course turned back up the Peaks Trail. After the initial climb, that’s one of my favorite sections of singletrack- a lot of rooty, punchy climbs that suit an aggressive riding style. I was thoroughly enjoying myself when the singletrack gave way to the pavement on Ski Hill Road to head back into Breck/Carter Park.

I made a quick pit stop before starting loop 2, though it wasn’t quite quick enough. As I was heading up the crazy switchback hill out onto the course, the 68/32 mile races started their neutral rollout. They got to skip the first loop that the 100 mile riders rode and began their races on our loop #2. This meant that as I was trying to pace myself on the initial climb, I was forced to either speed up or stop and get out of the way for charging 68/32 mile racers. That sucked. A lot. I lost several minutes waiting for conga lines of those guys storming up the trail.

I eventually dove back in when the guys wearing white cotton gym socks started showing up.

Once that nonsense cleared out, the course followed part of the Firecracker 50 course to the French Gulch climb. This is the same one that I’d suffered through 2x in the Firecracker course. I’d fully support operations to strip mine that mountain into oblivion.

frenchsucks

After getting through that part, it was mostly downhill for a while to an aid station where one of the workers thought it’d be cool to tell people that the next aid station was only 3 miles away with a little climb. He acted dead serious in saying it, but I was suspicious, so I filled both of my bottles. Other people weren’t, though, and tried to cover the following rather difficult portion of the course with only 1 bottle. To make matters worse, the next aid station (which was much further aweay than 3 miles) was out of plain water. Luckily, the trail snaked along the outer part of a golf course, and many of us refilled at their water fountain.

Somewhere along there, I rode with a woman who said she was in the 100 mile SS race, but I never saw her on the results sheet (even as a DNF), so I don’t know what happened to her.

During that loop, I started getting some really bad pain in my right big toe. It felt like an old running injury from a couple of years ago, so I was hoping that I could avoid getting off of my bike for anything because every time I walked, it felt like my toenail was trying to explode off of my toe. That was prettymuch the only time I was hating life during the race, and luckily, the final loop was reletively mild.

Loop 3 was, by far, my favorite. During my preride the week before, I’d taken a wrong turn and gone up a horrible, rutted, steep dirtbike trail from Indiana Creek to Boreas Pass. So, I was plesantly surprised to see that the course was routed on a much more rideable jeep trail. I made the time cutoff over Boreas by 40 minutes (plenty of time, but I’d like to not even have to think about it in the future). The descent from Boreas onto singletrack to Como was AWESOME! It went from a slight, flowy downgrade to rock gardens that were really fun to pick through. Once I made the turnaround at the Como aid station, I headed back up what seemed like an endless hill back through Boreas Pass.

The nice thing about that loop is that it ends with 10 miles of almost all downhill riding. It gives you time to relish in the fact that, barring a catastrophic accident, you’re going to finish a really, really tough race. I crossed the line in 12 hours, 53 minutes. Apparently, I was the only SS woman that finished, and my time was good enough for 5th place overall in the women’s race (all age groups- geared/SS).

F***ing Awesome.

After a podium photo and some food, I headed back to the hostel to get cleaned up and get out to celebrate. I ended up at a nearby bar (aptly named the “Dive” bar). The night almost got off to a bad start when the “way too drunk” guy started hitting on me and getting waaaay in to my personal space. I told him to leave me alone and tried to ignore him, but he was persistent. I told him that I was going to beat him if he didn’t leave me alone. Apparently, the bartender overheard and had one of the emplyees escort him out before things could get out of hand.

At the bar, I met a really cool British couple who was in Breck for a vacation. I also met an aspiring country music artist and all of his friends, who, after a few rounds of drinks, sang along with “She Thinks my Tractor’s Sexy” when someone played it on the jukebox. Really great way to end one of the hardest race days I’ve ever had and the best road trip I’ve ever been on.

July 17, 2010

Breck 100 pre-report report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Out West Trip — Andrea @ 8:31 pm

Did the damn thing. On the singlespeed. 12 hours, 53 minutes, and 5th overall of all the women that had finished when I left the race venue. Time for beer.

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