For Sale: Niner Carbon Fork- Vanna White

Here’s the first of what is going to be a large amount of housecleaning with mine & Ryan’s bike stuff… keep checking back for more this week. What doesn’t get any bites from you, my loyal readers, will go to EBay where non-loyal non-readers can purchase it. Email (andrea @ brickhouseracing.com) or contact me through Facebook if you’re interested

First item- my first rigid fork. I love rigid. So much so, that I procured the RDO thru-axle fork late last year. So, now my quick release style fork is for sale. Here’s the rundown:

-Used for ~1year, has a couple of small scratches, but otherwise excellent shape
-Steertube is tapered and 152.5mm in length
-Carbon-safe compression plug installed
-Fork info on Niner’s site: Niner Taper Steerer Rigid Carbon Fork
-$200

 

 

Bailout Privileges

This morning, I exercised one of the most divine recovery period privileges on the list of recovery period privileges.

First, rewind a little…

Hard training is hard. It sounds redundant, but it’s true. It’s not just the intensity, fatigue, or any of the obvious stuff. It’s that, if you want to win (or, maybe even more importantly, to at least know that, if you don’t win, you did EVERYTHING in your power to train to win), you have to train religiously. All weather, all the time, never missing a hard day, whether you want to or not.

It’s what separates the podium from the pack fill.

I trained hard for Worlds.

Back to this morning. I’d been hankering all week to go on a wiley Saturday group road ride and even gained permission to join in on a 4hr Marx-Bensdorf team hammer ride. Matt (who rides with BPC, the M-B farm team) joined me, and we bundled up and headed out to the meet-up spot. It was cloudy, cold, damp, and windy. We were running a couple of minutes late, so I tempo-rode the two of us the half hour there.

Once we arrived, the group chatted then rolled out within a couple of minutes. The testosterone was strong straight from the parking lot- one of the guys sat on the front and pulled straight into the North headwind at what was likely a 300 watt effort on his part. Matt vocalized what no one else would say when he explained how much the cold and effort sucked. He was exactly right. I told him he should HTFU and grind out the remaining 3.5 hours.

I turned off and went home.

Part of recovery (at least for me) is letting the HTFU part of your brain take a break for a minute. It’s sort of a “return to being normal for a minute” thing. Now I’m warm, cozy, and giddy with the thought of having the privilege to go home when my hands and feet are frozen solid while the out-of-the-lot pace is faster than the tempo I was riding when we were running late. Maybe I’ll go really crazy and have a beer with lunch. There’s no telling.

This is what happens when I don’t ride for a few days…

(Warning, this is about to sound a lot like a pseudo-philosophical rant that your one “stoner” friend might tell you an hour or so after eating a “special” brownie…)

In light of the giant, heat-producing contusion on my right thigh, I haven’t done any riding since I arrived home from Louisville on Sunday. I decided yesterday that I’d venture to the mall in search of a pair of jeans. However, rather than actually go into stores and try things on, I ended up wandering around pondering the meaning of life instead.

I mean, the entire contents of the vast expanse of building seemed incredibly useless to me. On the flipside, there are individuals who would feel that their well-being would be compromised if that building burnt down tomorrow.  Which led me to think, Why?
What I figured out was that the average individual needs this stuff because they dress up/down/out/etc to do things. Those things that they do add interest to their everyday life. The clothing defines you and what you do. I’m not judging or saying this is bad at all- quite the opposite…

I find those things useless because I don’t do anything.

All those things that all of those people are doing in order to need to dress up/down/out/etc. don’t exist here. Most people would think that, from the outside, that sounds incredibly boring- a large portion of my everyday existence is dedicated to being able to ride a bike faster than everyone else. Outside of that, I work on bikes, and many of my friends are bike people. I’m not saying this is bad at all, either, just that I briefly noticed the stark contrast between my reality and that of the general public.

It’s not for everyone, but I love it.
(Thank you, mall, for provoking my deep thought of the day. )

Master’s Worlds CX Race Report

Friday night, I was wired- a mix of nervous, excited, happy, anxious, and just about anything else I could throw in there to keep from feeling like I should go to sleep. I managed a few hours, though, and was awake before the alarm Saturday morning. As I mentioned in my previous post, it was stupidly cold- 18 when we went down to breakfast. After some hot cereal and coffee, I tried to relax and make final preparations back at the room.

I’d decided that I wanted to ride the mile or so down to the race course in order to get a solid start on a non-trainer warmup. Once I was at the course, I rode a lap and a half before swinging back by the car for a final shot of redbull and Gu Roctane. The ground was still rutted and frozen solid, so some parts of the course rode like a trenched & rutted hockey rink. Luckily, Saturday morning racers had the luxury of several course re-routes and tape moves to allow for less treacherous conditions than the races on Friday. However, there were still several sections of tape-to-tape ice ruts that would prove to be painful for most of us.

Once I was fueled up, I headed up to the start area. We were called up one at a time to have our tire width checked and go to our spot in the start grid. I knew from my pre-ride that most people like the smooth line to the right off of the pavement at the beginning of the race, but that I’d found a killer line to the left that was way faster as long as you could navigate one section of ice ruts right against the course tape.

When the race started, two women jumped out ahead of me. I took to their wheels on the straightaway until we reached the left turn onto the grass, where they predictably took the far line to the right. I stayed to the left and went flying down the first hill off of the pavement. I used my skatepark skills and thought “manual” as I crossed the patch of ruts that everyone else had gone right to avoid then pumped over the dirt hump at the bottom of the hill. My strategy put me ahead of the hole-shotters going into the first chicane and elbow to elbow as we navigated the frozen sand pit.

The next uphill section was a tape-to-tape ice-rut section that, if you could pedal as hard as possible and unweight your front wheel, you had a little bit of a chance of making it through without wrecking or being forced to run. It was there that the three of us in front made a gap on the other racers. However, as we rounded the next right turn to a downhill left to turn back to a set of barriers, I felt something loose in the rear end of my bike. When I picked it up to go over the barriers, my rear wheel started to come out of the dropouts.

FUCK.

I always hated the skewers in the Reynolds wheels. The rear one, which had been tight in the start grid, had rattled loose over the extremely rough terrain. I was forced to stop and re-tighten it while trying not to panic. I re-mounted my bike in last place. Ass-hauling ensued, and I’d ridden back into 4th by the time I reached the pit. I swapped bikes and yelled at Ryan to check the skewers. Soon after, as I was trying to claw back 3rd, I wrecked hard on the ice and dropped my chain (most common malady of the race, I think). Un-Jamming that allowed 3rd to escape again, and let the two leaders get further from my grasp. I was momentarily heartbroken, but pulled myself together and started reeling the podium spot back.

Once I was back on my Scott (thank you, Ryan, for being an awesome pit-man), I kept the hammer down and finally overtook her in the last half of the 2nd lap. I never looked back, but I know that she fought hard to try and stay with me. When I came through the wall-to-wall uphill ruts at the beginning of my 4th and final lap, I saw her laying on the ground with paramedics around her. I tried not be distracted, but hardly 10 meters later, a rut grabbed my front wheel and slammed me into the ground. I did my best to jump up quickly and told the paramedic who’d left the other racer to check on me that I was OK. I re-mounted and realized quickly that I was, in fact, NOT ok. My right thigh had taken the brunt of the impact, and every pedal stroke was torturous.

On the final runup, I noticed that my trusty Garmin 500 was gone. Even though the announcer called for whoever found it to bring it back, it never turned up. My guess is that it landed in someone’s pocket. Boooooooo.

I finished the race solo, in 3rd place.

Looking back at lap times, the fight for 2nd could have been epic if it weren’t for the two mechanicals. I’m happy, though. I haven’t raced that hard all season. I felt awesome. I took a lot of chances. Most of them worked out. Some of them hurt like hell.

It was a fun journey, but damn am I glad it’s over.

 

 

Master’s Worlds Pre-race Report

Today hasn’t been the best day-before-a-race day.

The weather has been foul. Yesterday, I made the trip from Memphis in blowing snow and heavy clouds. The weather system soaked the ground at the Louisville CX course, creating a thick, sticky layer of mud. Ryan, who had been in St. Louis for business since Monday, was there ahead of me and pre-rode in horrible conditions (remember that part)

His heat race was at 10:20 this morning. As he was getting ready to pre-ride, I put his “A” bike in the stand to lube the chain, which was dried out from the previous day’s ride/pressure wash. I quickly realized that his bottom bracket was toasted. I quickly borrowed a BB tool (yeah, I suck at packing the tool box) and put my bike’s FSA bottom bracket into his bike. Parking lot wrench/repair extraordinaire.

His heat race ended up sucking a little. What had been deep, saturated mud was now frozen into solid, icy ruts from tape to tape.

Riding was treacherous (possibly understatement of the year, and it’s only January).

My original plan had been to pre-ride during the official noon to 12:45 open course time. However, with our quiver of bikes being one bottom bracket short, I had to deal with that first. I started by visiting the Black Spring bike shop across from the hotel. Luckily, the guy there let me make myself at home in his shop, and I was able to rehab the “A” bike bottom bracket and re-install the BB into my bike. By then there was no way to get to the open course time.

I ended up riding down to the course and watching the tail end of the men’s 30-34 race. Not long after, I was about to leave when I noticed that random people were riding on the course. I figured I’d have at it as well.

What followed was a crash course in how to ride on solid, rutted ice. I did my best to float the front wheel and maintain speed. It worked about 90% of the time. The other 5% of the time, my front wheel would grab in a deep, sideways rut and slam me onto the ice. OW.

I was discouraged. I’ve trained incredibly hard, and to have my race boil down to who can crash the least on the ice would be somewhat disappointing. Luckily, the Powers that Be have decided to re-route and re-stake some of the worst parts of the course. So, now I should only crash once per lap instead of 5 times per lap, and be able to get my heart rate over 120 bpm.

Here goes nothing…

Special Weather

After what seems like months of unseasonable luck in the winter weather forecast, it looks as if normal January weather patterns will be taking over just in time for my drive to Louisville…

 

The “Special Weather Statement” at the top basically says that Louisville will see rain most of the day tomorrow, and that it’s transitioning to snow in the afternoon. After that, it’s going to be cold and cloudy. Cyclocross weather? Yes. Weather that I like? Not particularly.

Luckily, I’ve got some bitchin’ mud tires, warm clothes, and a strong desire to just get this race over with. It’s been a long road, and I’m ready to race until my eyeballs sweat then just live life as a normal person for a little bit before returning to life as an endurance mountain bike racer.

WTF @ People

Yesterday, Ryan and I went to Shelby Farms for a quick taper workout on the CX bikes (I have a slightly sketchy short loop in/around the Spookycross course that I’ve been using for this type of practice). While we were warming up, we noticed three people in a grassy/wooded area holding a large cage with a little white bunny in it. We warmed up a little more, and the people took the bunny out of the cage and put it on the ground. We were almost done warming up, and they were walking away from the woods with an empty cage.

I realized what had just happened and confronted them about it.

Me: Did you just dump your pet rabbit in the woods?!?
Woman (smiling proudly): Yes, we let him loose back there.
Me: You know it’s going to die out here.
Woman (still smiling): Oh, No! Don’t say that!
Me: Yeah, he’s white, something will eat him. Probably today. Or he’ll starve.
Woman (still smiling like this is funny): No… that can’t happen, He’ll be fine!
Me: (ride towards the woods while they drive off)

I retrieved a tiny white & brown bunny from where it was trying to hunker down in a pile of leaves. By this time, Ryan was riding over. We searched the nearby information board for the number to the Ranger Station but couldn’t find one. I started cussing and wondering WTF I was going to do with the poor, cute little bunny.

 

BTW- For whatever reason, we didn’t take a photo of poor, cute little bunny, but it looked similar to this:

 

We racked our bikes and drove down to the Visitor’s Center. I expected the worst- I was fully expecting to walk in and the staff tell me they’d have to make a few phone calls, we’d end up having to take the rabbit to the humane society ourselves, and the whole thing would turn into a good-Samaritan-flavored pain in the neck.
Fortunately, when we walked in, the woman behind the desk melted as soon as she laid eyes on cute, poor, little abandoned bunny. I told her what happened and she immediately took it and hugged it up to her chest. She vowed to help it out or keep it herself in place of that cat she’d been thinking about adopting.

We GTFO back to the car before she changed her mind.

After that, my ride was good. Ryan’s ride wasn’t so good. Back at my sketchy course, we did a few hot laps. The final turn of my course is a left on some sketchy gravel. I was practicing riding like a jerk and making Ryan take undesirable lines around some of the turns & mudholes. We were head to head at the run-up stairs when he stumbled on a step. I took that as a cue to go faster. I heard him catching up to me a few seconds later, so I made myself large in an attempt to make him take the worst line possible through the sketchy gravel.

He wrecked really hard.

I looked over my shoulder and saw him sitting up, so I finished out my interval before riding back over to him. He was pretty beat up- I hosed the gravel and dirt off of his leg with a water bottle, and we finished out our workout. Luckily, he attributes his wreck mostly to excessive speed and poor course design.

Once we were home, I told him to think of cute, sweet little bunnies while I scrubbed the remaining dirt and rocks out of his leg and dressed it with gauze and tape. Cyclist luuuuv.

X.0 Crank Project

I’ve been through a couple of different cranks on the singlespeed-

First was an E.13 crank. It was cool since it wasn’t incredibly expensive, was lighter than other aluminum cranks, and had a super-stiff 30mm spindle. I had some issues with adjustment, though- you have to install it, test for play, then use any number of tiny plastic spacer rings to get rid of the play. Use too many, and the crank will load the bearings up when you install it. Don’t use enough, and the crank will have play in it. My issue came when the plastic spacers started to wear. The crank started to wiggle… during the Fool’s Gold 100 last year. I repeatedly stopped to re-tighten, but every time, I was having to tighten it to the point of squeezing the bearings and causing a lot of drag, eventually killing the BB bearings. This sucks ass when you’re trying to race 100 miles.

Next, I broke out my old Truvativ Noir crank. It was once a triple on the old Jet9 (my first mountain bike):

I’d converted it to a single ring and used it for a while on the One9, and it basically did fine as a singlespeed crank until Kenny and I discovered the removable spiders on most of SRAM’s new cranks.

this is where you need to start paying attention…

He bought an AKA Singlespeed crank (nice, aluminum replacement for their previous Stylo offering). It has a 104mm BCD removable spider. He took the spider off and ordered a spiderless ring from Homebrewed Components. This left Kenny with a spare SRAM 104mm BCD Spider.
Very cool, I thought. Then, I noticed the screaming deal on an X.0 2×10 crank through the SRAM employee purchase program. It has a proprietary 120mm BCD spider/chainring. I bought one with two intentions- 1)remove the chainrings/spider and have a spare for my geared bikes and 2)contact Homebrewed Components and get a spiderless chainring for the pimpass carbon X.0 crank. Homebrewed Components is a one-man operation that gets a lot of business, so orders tend to take a while. I don’t mind, but I am impatient.

Then, Kenny gave me his 104mm spider. This meant that I could use whatever singlespeed chainring I wanted while waiting for the spiderless ring to manifest itself. Turns out, the carbon X.0 crankarm is a lot fatter than an AKA crankarm. The “key” pattern of the spider was correct, but the shape of the rest of the spider prevented it from seating properly on the arm.

Enter the bench grinder.

I ground off a good deal of the spider, but was having trouble getting it totally flush on the crank arm. I went to Lowe’s for some Dremel grinders, and when I arrived back, Kenny had gone medieval on the spider with the bench grinder. Eleven¬† grams of removed aluminum later, it fit. BAM!

 

While I was in the weight weenie mood, I went ahead & ground off the granny gear nubs on the backside of the spider:

 

 

Mounted to the crank:

 

Bling!

 

What did I achieve other than good looks? The total weight savings is about 50 grams over the Noir crank (plus a bit more when I get the spiderless ring). Not a ton, but the custom “badass” factor is reason enough to rock this one for a while.

You’ll shoot yer eye out, Ch.2

So, since the last time I mentioned going to the skatepark and busting my knee & elbow, I’ve been a few more times (without incident). Turns out, the skatepark is a lot of fun. I’m slowly learning fun stuff like dropping in over the coping, pumping around in the bowl, and hopping out.
My next goal is to clear the flat area at the top of the shallow bowl- I’ve watched Matt do it at least 50 times, and I started trying last time I was there. I think I jumped about 6 inches off the ground and cleared about the first foot of concrete before chickening out when I started to get that “floaty” feeling of being more than 6 inches off the ground.

I’m shelving that one until after Worlds.

I’ve decided that since positive reinforcement is a great learning tool, that each time I learn something new & awesome, I’ll pimp my bike out just a little bit. I’m thinking Euro style dirt jumper… so I purchased a Hope headset yesterday to replace the janky stock Ritchey one. Other future upgrades include anything else that Hope makes, as well as a new chainwheel. Here’s the starting point:

Other than the occasional recovery days at the park, my rides are generally easy commutes to/from work & errands or short, all-out, race-type efforts on the CX bike. Today is one of those days, and I’m eager to see how the power numbers will look since they’ve been steadily creeping upwards at a comforting rate. Someone commented on a previous post and asked what my power numbers were. Since that’d be like advertising my hand in a game of poker, I’ll just say that I can maintain between 200 and 300 watts for my 20 minute intervals.

(if you’re not well versed in wattage, that lands me somewhere between a beginner and Katie Compton)

Finally, on a “self marketing” note, my “webmaster” (AKA Ryan) has put some nice little links over in the right sidebar. You can follow Brickhouse Racing on Facebook and Twitter (@BrickhouseMTB) to make sure you don’t miss anything new and exciting.