Ode to Debbie Milne

You local roadie chicks (as well as non-locals, pros, and guys… she beats you, too, on occasion) know who I’m talking about.

Though, if you’ve raced against her, you would know her better from behind. She’s a master’s national RR champion, and she’s placed top 10 at Elite Road Championships, racing on her own, against full teams of pro women.

Why am I posting about Debbie Milne when I haven’t raced against her in over a year?

It all started yesterday. I had a very non-stellar circuit/trainer workout. Coach says if I don’t feel up to it today, I can push today’s trainer workout to Thursday and have the day off. I wake up this morning feeling tired and lazy, so I send out this tweet: “Thinking of postponing today’s trainer ride for tomorrow. I’m still beat from yesterday.”

Then, as I’m drinking my coffee and thinking about being lazy for the remainder of the day, I scroll through facebook, and see a post from The Milne: “Really really really dont feel like intervals tomorrow which means they are right on track……”

Why does this matter?

It’s like this- women’s road racing can be an intimidating place for a beginner. More often than not, the cat 4 (beginner) category races with all of the other categories. Unlike the men, who have the “benefit” of racing against people of  similar experience level, a woman could be lining up for her first road race against a seasoned pro.  If you’re not incredibly strong and fit, you get dropped. If you’re strong and fit, you do something dumb, get schooled, and get dropped. It’s trial by fire, and it will either make you a great racer or make you quit and resolve yourself to triathlons.

Ever since my first real road race (Mississippi Grand Prix, 2007), Debbie has administered more 2-wheeled beatdowns to me than any other person I race against. While other women in the peloton resolved themselves to riding for 2nd place when she showed up, I was chasing my ass off with the few others that didn’t take to defeat so easily. For some of us, we thrive on the thought that at some point, we might actually be able to catch her. It’s happened a couple of times.

My point? Ever since I started racing, every time I think about slacking off, I think about how Debbie is probably out riding a century, in the mountains, with all of her kids (and the dog), in a trailer behind her bike, never bothering to use the small ring. In the freezing rain. No disrespect for the women I race against now that totally kick my ass and train just as hard, but Debbie was the original “HTFU and TRAIN” person.

I could go on, but I have a trainer workout to do.


Ever have an epic-ly great series of days?

Friday- rode and fixed bikes in the morning, then I started cleaning the shop.
I realized that the floor was coated in years of grease, tire sealant, and dirt. It took a bottle of White Lightning Clean Streak, a scrub brush, and 5 water changes in the mop bucket, but by the time I was finished, the floor was freakin’ gorgeous. I went to Wal-Mart for a new trash can (the old one looked like a bike shop had puked in it). Once I was back, we didn’t have much of a chance to sit around and stare at the awesomeness of the clean shop because a young couple came in looking for two mountain bikes. They left with a Cannondale Trail Sl Women’s bike and the last of our Gary Fishers- the (carbon) Superfly Singlespeed. Somewhere along the way, the UPS guy delivered my missing rear brake. Hell. Yes.

After work, Ryan and I met up with some friends at Half Shell- The Warthogs. WTF is a Warthog? Quick history lesson:
I asked the same thing more than 5 years ago when I saw people in “Warthog” running jerseys at a local trail run. Then, I was introduced to the friendliest group of people you could possibly imagine. They were great company on the trail, and would eventually invite me out on my first bike ride. With their encouragement, I kept at it, and, well, the rest is, for the most part, in the pages of this blog. They’re the type of people that, no matter what you do with your life, they’re always happy to hang out and catch up over a couple of beers.

Saturday- The “implied consent” 2-a-day.
I could not make up my mind as to which workout to do, so I did both. The first was trainer/circuit insanity, much like the previous one, but this time, 100Kj intervals and no rest. After a shower and 2nd breakfast, I put the rear brake on A9C#2 and headed for a couple of hot laps at Herb Parson’s Lake.  I rode a little with co-worker Kenny and a couple of his friends, but had to put the pedal down a few miles into the first lap. The geared bike is a freaking ROCKET. I made it around 2x in exactly 90 minutes.
On the trip back, my mom called. She was making tacos for dinner, and Ryan & I were invited. Hell. Yes. (again) Nothing like not having to cook after a hard day of training… especially when you can fall asleep at the table, only to be awakened by the thump of a bowl of strawberry shortcake next to your head.

Also, I hit 7,000 blog views for the month of January- a new record. At the time of this posting, I’m at 7,103.

Sunday- 4 hours of endurance.
I wasn’t sure how the ride would go after the previous day’s rides, but it was spot-on. Ryan and I made 76 miles (he actually detoured near the end for a few extra miles/intensity) in a little over 4 hours. Power numbers for my endurance rides are steadily increasing. I’m starting to feel like it’s going to be a good season. Hell. Yes. x 11ty billion

Be careful what you ask for

I’ll be honest here- up until training camp, I was growing a little tired of the long zone 2 ride monotony. In his post-training-camp feedback, the Wizard mentioned that I should rest up, because the next training cycle would feature much more intensity. However, when I looked at the upcoming schedule, and it didn’t seem to change much- circuit training, long Z2 rides, recovery rides… hmmmm. I didn’t say anything, but I was wondering when the eye-bleeding workouts would start.

Then, he sent me a new circuit workout. Like the others, it was a warmup followed by 4 rounds of resistance exercises, but with a twist- near the end of each circuit, a 200Kj trainer interval.

For me, 200Kj translates to approximately 13-14 minutes of pedaling (do the math on that, ladies…)

It was intense.

I started out a little too hard on the first one and paid for it on the 2nd one. By the 3rd one, my legs were numb, and on the 4th one, I was digging into the darkest corners of my mind for thoughts that would drown out the screaming from my legs… mostly memories of any and all failures I’ve ever experienced on a bike. Nothing like polishing off a trainer workout by nearly making yourself cry. Hey, whatever works, right?

Just a warning- if you attempt this workout, make sure to get extra groceries. It will make you hungrier than a momma grizzly in the springtime.

The following day was another Z2 ride. It was tough to get the legs moving on that one, but it ended up being one of my better ones, wattage-wise. Once I was home, I felt drained, so I ate & sat around not doing much for the remainder of the day. It’s not for everyone, but personally, I love going down the training rabbit hole. On tap for this weekend, more/harder of the same…

In other “be careful what you ask for” news, I now have a mohawk. Yesterday, while waiting for the roads to dry out a bit, I actually went and paid for a haircut. I’ve been contemplating a ‘hawk for a while (even toying with a mini fro/faux hawk since my hair was getting longer), but didn’t want to go someplace and have a snooty hairstylist be like, “OMG, you’re so weird, and that’s a horrible hairstyle, let me do something totally different!” Lucky for me, I took the recommendation of a friend and went to a place called Dabbles in Midtown, where I doubt I could have asked for anything that was “too weird.”

The result- a gorgeous little fro-hawk. It’s quite androgynous, but, as long-time readers should know by now, I am secure enough in my straight womanhood that I don’t bind myself to any ideas of what’s “right/wrong” and/or “unacceptable”  for any particular gender. In the words of that trailer park chick from Jerry Springer, “Whatevah… I do what I want!”

If this post was too long for you to read, just google image search “Foul Bachelorette Frog” and have yourself a laugh or two. If you are my parents, a sponsor, or a mature, responsible adult, who is offended by female toilet humor, you should not do that.

There’s a name for that?

For about the last 6 or 7 years, I’ve occasionally had problems with my right arm falling asleep in odd situations- usually sleeping on it wrong or wearing a piece of clothing that is tight around the shoulder joint/collarbone area. Since I’ve started lifting weights and have grown more upper body muscle (which has been a pivotal part of training for singlespeed riding), it’s been happening a lot more. I can’t sleep on either of my sides without it falling asleep. It also falls asleep when I’m riding the trainer, occasionally when I’m on an actual moving bike, as well as in the aforementioned “odd situations,” but on a much more regular basis.

I mentioned this to my chiropractor on Monday, and he immediately said, “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.”

What? There’s a name for it?

Apparently so. There are websites for it, support groups for it, and surgery that involves removing the 1st rib to alleviate the pressure that’s being put on the nerves and/or blood vessels that are being compressed and causing the issues. It can also cause many of the other problems I’ve had such as sensitivity to cold in the fingertips and the problems with ulnar nerve pain and numbness.

He made some “adjustments” that he said might or might not help (hasn’t so far). The nice thing about my chiro is that he isn’t the type to swear off all forms of medical treatment for chiropractic treatment. If the adjustments don’t change anything, I’ll look to a different doc for help. I don’t want surgery. Hopefully some physical therapy and stretching can fix me.

Air 9 Carbon Version 2.0

Here are the photos… unfortunately, the trails are soaked here, so I just rode it through the Shelby Farms dog park and on the surrounding gravel/pavement. Once I have a rear brake and opportunities to really ride, the brake lines and steertube will get trimmed up:

Air 9 Carbon- The Fix

The question burning in everyone’s minds right now (or not) is “How did you make the fork work?!”

It was a bit of an all-day process that involved phone calls to several places. The SRAM rep (who didn’t fully understand that an integrated headset doesn’t have a change-able stack height) had told me to try Cane Creek and Chris King for a solution since they offered bottom bearing sets in various stack heights. I figured it’d be worth a shot to call around anyways and see what type of ideas the techs at those companies might have…

First, I called Cane Creek. They never answered my voicemail.

Next, I tried Chris King. They aren’t all that hot on integrated headsets, but they do make various thicknesses of 1 1/8″ crown races, so I was hoping maybe they had something in a 1.5″ that could help me out. They were interested in my problem, but still no dice.

After that was FSA. They don’t make any sort of fat crown race, but I thought that since they made the headset that they might be able to help. The tech there was really interested in the whole plight of the small-frame 29er vs. tapered headtubes vs. tapered steertubes. We discussed the various manufacturer’s headtube lengths that I’d posted earlier, and he took down my contact information so that he could call me after he talked to the company engineers.

In the meantime, I had Tim, the mechanic from PB&COtwenty12, trying to hunt down the specs on the Willow Koerber Superfly crown race spacer.

It looked as if the build was indefinitely stalled.

Then, I checked my email and saw a comment on my “conundrum” post from Eric (the Niner tech I’d talked to previously) asking me to call back. When I finally got in touch with him, he told me that some shops had made everything work by filing off the vertical portion of the compression ring that was unable to seat into the top bearing due to the extended fork taper. I didn’t take a “before” photo, but it looked like this (photo is upside down from how it fits into the top bearing):

So, I took to the bench grinder and had at it. Once that part was decimated, I filed off the sharp edges and tried it out. Once I snugged the cap & stem down, the fork was snug in the headtube. Woohoo!!! I packed all of my parts up and headed home to prep for a morning bike build in the living room.

A few observations about the A9C/XX build:

-The internal cable routing is tough. I generally have a knack for internal routing, and I have to say, I cussed at it a couple of times.

-I don’t have a rear brake yet. They’re backordered. Without that, the bike weighs 21 pounds, 1oz. This is barely a pound more than the SS. Chock it up to different saddles, a lighter BB insert, carbon bars, lighter wheels (Crest rims vs. 355s), and lighter tires on the geared bike. I’ll post the final weight once the brake gets here.

Here’s a photo of the ground down compression ring. I’ll put photos of the bike in a different post so I can just make a gallery:

And a teaser:

A fork conundrum

I finally have the parts together to build the geared A9C. Woohoo!

So, yesterday, I started working on it.

Step one- reduce travel of my 120mm, tapered steertube, maxle lite Reba to 80 mm. Done.

Step two- assemble front end of bike. Snag. The compression ring that should fit between the top headset bearing and the steertube won’t push down all the way because the end of the taper of the steertube is inside the bearing. Fail.

Apparently, by using a 100mm-long taper, SRAM has given the proverbial middle finger to those of us who ride a small or medium 29er frame:

Niner Air 9 Carbon Small: 100mm
Trek Superfly Small: 103mm
Santa Cruz Tallboy Medium AND Large: 99mm
Giant Anthem Small and Medium: 104mm
Giant XtC Small: 89mm, Med/Large: 99cm
Felt Nine Small (not tapered, but just for example): 100mm

I could go on, but I’m not in the mood to spend my morning looking at geo charts for every 29er on the market.

I’m sure a few of you are saying “buyer beware,” and, to a degree, you’re right. However, if you were SRAM, would you really want to eliminate the ability to use your product in a healthy section of a continuously growing market? I mean, seriously, what were you thinking?

My options now are somewhat limited.

-I could return the fork and get a non-tapered steertube fork with a reducer. Lame. I hate how that looks, and I really, really don’t want to do it. I also may run in to issues with the fact that I’ve already opened the fork & installed the travel reducers.

-I could fabricate some sort of an under-crown spacer a la Willow Koerber.

-I could return the whole damn thing and EP a Fox fork. That would also involve purchase of a couple of new Hope converter kits to go to their 15mm standard of thru axle from the 20mm of RockShox. I’m not quite as familiar with Fox as I am with RockShox- do they even make a 15QR model with 80mm of travel and a tapered steertube (or the option to reduce travel on a longer travel model)?

Anyone else have ideas or suggestions? I’m going to talk to SRAM today to see what they have in mind. Updates to follow…

EDIT: just got off the phone with SRAM. Not much help there- the suggestion was to look for a bottom headset bearing/race that would give me a little extra stack height. The tech also confirmed my “middle finger to small 29er riders” and said that frame manufactures need to take their taper size into account when designing their frames.

Training Camp 2011: Day 5

Wednesday morning was cloudy (still) and cold. I saw my guests off (they’re headed to Sedona, AZ), then prepped everything for my “reverse revenge” plan (ride the entire trail system in reverse race direction).

I headed up the hill and parked at the middle trailhead. From that spot, I could ride the yellow/red trails, then loop back to the car to refill water before moving on to the blue/orange/green/orange/blue (look at a trail map, and that will make much more sense). The “backwards” yellow trail is a booger. You’re headed towards a higher elevation trailhead, so there’s more steep stuff going that way. My legs were tired, as was my brain. As a result, I ended up walking a few spots that I’d probably ride if I were able to react and get on top of the pedals a little faster. By the time I made it to the red trail, I could tell that the previous days of singlespeeding were catching up to me. I was zoned out & had no snap (At least I was more relaxed than the previous day…) An hour later, I was back at the car.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to leave the car when your feet are numb with cold and your body numb from fatigue?

As easy as it would have been to load up and head home, I convinced myself that the worst was over and pushed on to the blue trail. The descent down from the trailhead to Hwy 5 (the one we’d been up the day before) is pretty fun in a slightly dangerous sort of way. I did muster the courage to ride down the Stairway on my rigid fork (too bad no one was there with a camera to catch the “OMG, I’M GONNA DIE” face that I’m reasonably certain I was making on the way down). The short section on the other side of the highway was a lot harder than I remembered…

After a quick snack at the Hwy 5 trailhead, I forged on. The climb back up from highway level to the orange trail is a bear. It’s super rocky, and very steep. I ended up getting off to walk. Then I wandered off of the trail when it switchbacked right and I kept pushing my bike straight with my head down. When I realized that I wasn’t on the trail, my initial reaction was panic. For a brief few seconds, my heart raced, and I had thoughts of impending doom. Then, I realized that I was only about 15 feet from the trail.

Wandering and panic? Really?

It was at that point that I realized that sticking to my original plan and pushing through the fatigue was probably a dumb idea from a personal safety standpoint. I continued up the orange trail (and up a couple more climbs), but when it finally reached Green Mountain Road, I abandoned the course and climbed back to my car.

Failure? Eh, not really. I still ended up with 5 hours of (mostly) saddle time, and obtained my training camp goal of “dig yourself into a hole, then go a little deeper.” I was happy to return to the cabin, eat no fewer than two dinners, and watch the sunset in the process (something that had eluded me the other nights because of the constant cloudiness). Fifteen and a half hours of rigid singlespeeding in 5 days will make you feel sore in places you were previously unaware of. I can’t remember the last time I slept as hard as last night (though tonight could come in a close 2nd).

Training Camp: Day 4

A little rain moved through overnight Tuesday night, so we killed some time getting breakfast and shopping at the flea market in Downtown Mountain View. Once we were back and changed, we headed out to the trails. Everyone enjoyed the rocky stuff the day before, so I figured I’d show them the Blue Trail.

I quickly realized that I was going to have somewhat of a rough day. It was one of those days where I was staring down every rock and tree with two handfuls of brake. Not really sure why, but I just couldn’t get into a rhythm. I ended up settling in behind the group for most of the ride. Since we had a little more daylight to work with, we ended up stopping at some of the rock features for a few rock-hopping sessions.

Sue rode some of the tougher parts of the ascent from Hwy 5 that I don’t think I’ve even considered riding in the past (really want to go back & try it with a granny gear at some point).  Collin was rolling down parts of the trail at “Party Pace,” then, Tim rode up the Stairway to Heaven. I got video, and I’ll upload & link it once I figure that out at home.

We finished off the Blue trail climb and called it a day. It’s a lot of fun (and inspiration) to see new people rip on my favorite trails. Once we were back at the cabin, we cleaned up and went to dinner at Tommy’s Famous Pizza (highly recommended), then settled in for a little video-watching and bike-building…