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…

Training Camp 2011: Day 3

Yesterday morning, I rolled in to town to make a WalMart run and to meet up with Nate, Sue, Tim, and Collin, who had been driving all night from Virginia. They made it in sometime around 9:00, and we stopped at the Country Time restaurant for some breakfast before heading up to the cabin.

Since everyone was prettymuch a  road zombie, they unpacked a little and took a nap.

I figured that the orange and green trails were a good sampling of Syllamo terrain, so we hit those for a late afternoon ride (as you can see in the photos, the light is pretty low by the time we reached the green trail overlook). Amazingly enough, even after yesterday’s 5 hours of trail time, I felt really good (with the exception of one slip/fall on a slick rock at the end of the green loop. OW)

P.S. The top of the Cedar Scrappy climb on the orange trail is no longer to be considered “hike-a-bike”… at least by anyone with a granny gear.

Training Camp 2011: Days 1 and 2

Day 1 was relatively easy. Since Matt didn’t have to work this weekend, he followed me up for a couple of days of riding.  We got on the trail around 1:30 and rode the orange loop. My prescribed workout for the day was 2 hours with various intensities, so we headed up Green Mountain Road for a little more climbing & saddle time. Afterward, some friends came over & hung out for a couple of sunset beers at the cabin.

This morning, we planned to meet up with Memphis friend Forrest Owens and ride almost all of the Syllamo’s Revenge course. However, Forrest had to get home earlier than previously thought, so we re-tooled our plan to just the yellow and blue trails from Blanchard Springs. I quickly realized, though, that I wasn’t feeling the pace that the guys were pushing, so when I caught up to them, I offered to let them go so I could ride longer, and at my own pace. They ended up with 2.5 hours, and I rode the remainder of the trail solo. Matt was nice enough to meet me at the Hwy 5 trailhead with water then pick me up on Green Mountain Road once I was around the loop. Final ride time was 4 hours, 56 minutes (including various food/photo breaks).

I try to ride at least one more technical section every time I’m on the trail. Today was no exception, though I did manage to wreck a few extra times (all were generally slow-speed, but left me with some extra bruises). Riding in solitude gives you a lot of quality time with your own self doubt and personal fears. Singletrack therapy is your friend…

Training Camp 2011

The past couple of years, a winter training camp has been an easy proposition since I was teaching and had about a month (paid) off of work. Since I’m working a job with a more “traditional” schedule, I hadn’t put much thought into trying to take a few days to dig myself into a bit of a training hole at the cabin. However, I’d stayed in touch with Nate (aka “Gorgeous” from the Shenandoah 100), and he asked if I’d be interested in showing him and some friends around the Syllamo trails for a day or two.

Hell yeah, I’d love to! Who are your friends?

Sue Haywood and her husband boyfriend.

Holy isht, Sue Haywood? She’s like, a total badass!

I was excited to hear that. Then, I got kinda nervous. It’s going to be a kinda nuts to play tour guide to someone who is such an awesome bike racer. Yes, I’m somewhat starstruck. It should be a good time, though. The rock gardens should be scared.

So, I took a couple of days off of work, and, since I don’t normally work weekends or wednesdays, will have  a nice little 5-day brick for some trail riding. Maybe I’ll finally learn how to ride wet rocks…

Dear Alessi Sea Salt,

I have a sea salt grinder that I like(d). Originally, it was not refillable, but I drilled a hole into it and use(d) a funnel to refill it with coarse salt such as what’s shown in the photo below. I was just wondering if that is that a natural Mediterranean rat turd, made naturally from the sea and sun? Because if it was a standard American salt mine rat turd, I’d be very upset.



Help my face…

I normally limit my vanity to matching accent colors between various parts of my bikes, but something’s been bugging me lately, and after much frustration with shopping on my own, I’ve decided to turn to my faithful readers for help. Though, most of you could stop reading now and not miss anything that you’re interested in. Hopefully, not all of you.

As of late, I’ve been noticing that my skin is starting to show signs of discontent and age. It’s dry, and I’ve got “smile lines” around my eyes. I’m not the type to be drug kicking and screaming into my next birthday- quite to the contrary, I’ve always said that I can’t wait until I’m older so I can be fast. However, that doesn’t mean that want to see it on my face if there’s a reletively easy way to prevent it.

My mom has gorgeous skin for her age (>50, <70), as does her mom. Unfortunately, I’ve not been blessed with either their genetics or their disdain for prolonged outdoor activity in extreme conditions. As a result, my mom’s skincare advice of “daily vasaline application” doesn’t really help. She also mentioned Oil of Olay. So, I looked at that stuff in the store. First off, it’s got the marketing prowess of bodybuilding supplements, which automatically sets off my BS detector. Second, I can’t pronounce most of the ingredients on the labels. Call me paranoid, but that makes me somewhat uneasy. Third- it’s expensive. Which, I honestly don’t mind too much about as long as I know I’m getting something that will actually “moisturize, reduce fine lines, and increase skin’s radiance” without causing some odd form of chemically-induced cancer by the time I’m 90.

With that being said, who can help? Ladies- any of you have a favorite? Men- anyone’s girl/wife got something she swears by? Comment away.

3 Days?

It’s been 3 whole days since my last post, and nothing of interest has happened.

-A9C #2 is still chilling in a box in the entry hall of the house, my SRAM XX order still hasn’t arrived, and, even if it did, I’m waiting on a backordered BB30 insert from Niner, so no building can occur until those planets align.

-I haven’t had any alcohol since Sunday. I’ve found that I can either be drunk or bipolar, and being drunk makes me fat.

– Thor kitty gains at least half a pound a day, and he is becoming quite the lap-cat. It’s time for him to get the snip, too.

– Any of you living further north than Memphis can stop reading right now. It’s supposed to get down to 7 tonight, then snow several inches tomorrow night. The grocery stores are absolute mayhem right now, and I think a few cars have already slid off the road. I F*CKING HATE WINTER. Hopefully the weather is more cooperative next weekend when I’ll be heading over to Syllamo for the 2011 edition of training camp.

– I can’t wait to have some sweet potato chili tomorrow for dinner. Gonna put it in the crock pot before we go ride a few laps of the Herb Parson’s trail. It should keep up warm & fed until everything thaws out and life can resume as “normal”

Looking Ahead

It’s less than 2 months until the first race of 2011 (Southern Cross). I’ve had a personal vendetta for that race ever since the 2009 edition where I experienced one of the biggest failures of my racing career by losing 1st place to Carey Lowery in the last seconds of the race (a combination of bad pacing, bad nutrition, bad motivation, and bad bike handling). Last year, I was able to pull off a win, but Carey was not there, and she then proceeded to have one of the most prolific race seasons of her life. Would I have beaten her? I’m sure you could find people that would argue either way, but mostly you’d find people that would ask, “Who the Hell are Andrea and Carey, and what is Southern Cross?”

I digress.

As of late, I’ve been focusing on building aerobic endurance- a quality that I’ve not spent much time on in the past other than the occasional long ride (which would inevitably contain large chunks of time NOT focusing on an endurance pace). It’s the classical “base building” that I conveniently skipped in the past because before mountain bike racing, I was racing for 2-3 hours at the most. I could go into the physiology of it, but I’ve kind of enjoyed NOT getting into the physiology of anything lately. It’s driven me a little crazy at times, but I’m hoping for payoff in the upcoming months.

The season starts off a little slow- Spa City 6 hour in March, then the Ouachita Challenge April 3rd, then nothing on the calendar until April 30th, when the NUE Series kicks up with the Cohutta 100 (after that- destruction!) I’m still on the fence about racing the Ouachita course Singlespeed. Only one other female singlespeed competitior is registered, and there’s a slew of “women’s open” competitors. On one hand, I want to support singlespeed racing, but on the other, Ouachita isn’t that great of a singlespeed course because of several miles of flat/rolling forest road. If I want to “chase” the fast women, it would be advantageous to have gears in order to play to my strengths. What does the studio audience think?

I’m hoping that other NUE races besides Cohutta and Breck add the women’s singlespeed (hereby referred to WSS) category. It’d be a dream for WSS to be its own category in the NUE Series. My recommendation to the NUE gods- make WSS a category. Being the only woman dedicated enough to chase points on a singlespeed, I’ll win by default, then other, faster women will be all like, “oh, she just won by chasing points, no one fast raced that category,” and I’ll be all like, “yeah, then maybe you should race singlespeed and beat me,” and then they’ll be all like, “maybe I will,” and I’ll be all like, “bring it on, gearie!” and then… well, you get the point.

With Cohutta, Syllamo, Mohican, Breck, Fool’s Gold, and Shennandoah,  I’ve got plenty of races to get NUE points (only the 4 best are counted). April/May/June will be pretty packed, but after that, there will be larger gaps between the A races, and I’m not yet sure if I want to fill those with training or more racing. I originally wanted to go to the Breck Epic, but I likely won’t find the disposible income for it, and I feel I should be a lot faster before I hit sponsors up for that type of cash. It’ll probably be last minute additions as I get bored with weekends in Memphis.

Speaking of geared bikes, I received something black and white and carbon all over in the mail yesterday. Now I’m just waiting on other hardware from the likes of SRAM in order to start putting it all together. This one will take a little more parts-gathering time than the previous build, but I’ll post it once it’s up & ripping.

2011 Sponsorship Rundown

I’ve been relatively quiet on the sponsor front because I’ve had a couple of things in the works. As you may (or may not) know, my 2009/2010 road team was Marx-Bensdorf (local elite team). The ladies were great. If I were to road race again in 2011, I’d would have loved to race with them. However, the team management was not willing to sponsor my mountain bike pursuits (don’t get me wrong- they’re on top of the road game, and adding MTB to the mix would likely complicate things. No hard feelings towards them at all). That being my main focus and top priority, I had to look elsewhere.

Luckily, about the time I went searching, I also found my awesome job at Outdoors, Inc. This is an excellent on two fronts- I get a lot of products at a discount very similar to what I’d get if I’d propositioned each individual company,  and the store has also had a USA Cycling registered team for about as long as I’ve been alive. A couple of phone calls and breakfasts later, and I’ve got myself additional backing from the shop I love. So- new, big sponsor #1- Outdoors, Inc.

You might also have noticed that I’m a big fan of Niner bikes. It just so happens that they’ve got an amazing grassroots program, which they are graciously allowing me to partake in. Hell. Yes. So- new, big sponsor #2- Niner Bikes grassroots racing program.

There might be a little shuffling around of the individual companies you see on the right. Some of them are products that kick ass (like Trail LED, Raxter, and Stuffits) that Outdoors doesn’t carry (and that I generally like better than comparable products that Outdoors does carry). Others are covered under the Outdoors “umbrella,” so they’ll get absorbed by the benefits of working in a bike shop. As always, stay tuned…