brickhouseracing

March 27, 2011

Pre-OTC Weekend

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 9:07 pm

The weather this weekend decided to turn (hopefully for the last time this season) cold and rainy. This meant that the usual weekend world championships (aka trinity ride) didn’t go off as normal, and I stayed in to do a 2 hour trainer workout. I made a comment about that on Facebook, and someone commented back that they didn’t know how I could stand to be on the trainer so long.

My secret? Intervals and Three 6 Mafia.

After that, I went to work. Normally, I’d be off all day on Saturday, but the shop is incredibly busy right now. We needed some bikes built, so I headed in after lunch to help get it done. Afterward, Matt and I went to Flying Saucer found someone who could quite possibly qualify as the dumbest waitress in Memphis. At least she was good looking? We appreciated each others company nonetheless- Ryan was off to Tuscaloosa for some road racing, and Matt’s potential woman was upset because he didn’t respond as she’d hoped when she expressed her deep concern over the eternal damnation of his soul.

I’ve recently come to the realization that “Hope” is just short for “setting yourself up for disappointment.”

I digress.

Sunday morning was still cold and damp-ish. Fortunately for me, the Ouachita Challenge taper had begun, so rather than a 5 or 6 hour solo endurance ride, I headed out for an urban singlespeed venture from near the University of Memphis to Overton Park and back. Along the way, I saw a reminder of past life-

No, I’m not Kalus… but I’ve hung out with the guy (and his little brother). The story is that they’re the children of gypsies and don’t live in one city long enough for their past to catch up with them. Or something like that.

After Overton park, it was back home to do a little work on my own bikes. I needed to get the suspension fork swapped back onto my geared MTB and the rigid fork back on the singlespeed. Since I’ve been spoiled with a climate controlled bike shop, I have taken to doing at-home work in the comfort of my living room rather than out in the garage. The animals (especially Thor) find this to be quite entertaining…

I can’t remember the last time I was this glad to be cutting back on training volume. Not that I don’t enjoy it- it’s just that the harder you work, the nicer it is to play.

March 25, 2011

Saddle Search

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:58 am

Also on my mind this morning- I need to hoard this saddle:

It’s the Selle Italia Max Flite Trans Am. I love it, and they no longer make it. If you have one for sale (or see one for sale somewhere ), please comment here or email me (andrea @ brickhouseracing . com)

A netbook, a tattoo, and dogs

Filed under: non-bike — Tags: — Andrea @ 6:37 am

For a while now, my current go-to computing device has been a Sony VAIO laptop. It does its job well, but it’s pretty big as far as laptops go. About the same time that I started getting annoyed at having a giant laptop, our Verizon MiFi started to crap out. So, I started shopping around for netbooks. After much review-reading, mind-changing, and laptop upgrading, we ended up getting a USB modem stick from Verizon and an ASUS Eee PC netbook (the fancy one with the metal case, dual processor, and long battery life).

I am now more portable than ever…

(If you’re wondering about the size scale, the dog is a Jack Russell Terrier)

Now, all I need is a road trip.

Ryan (eternal Mac fanboy), who always has his eye on the latest and greatest steve jobs invention, made the comment that I have very simple technology needs- he can purchase a <$400 piece of equipment for me, and I’ll be happy for years (his current fiending is for a $1300 laptop). My reply is that for what I lack in techie desire I make up for in carbon fiber lust. It’s very true, though. I tend to use a computer until it’s so outdated or falling apart that I am forced to get something new. He likes regular upgrades. I hope that his computer habits never extend to his relationship habits.

In other news, all of you that have ever ridden behind me can say goodbye to this…

(not the dog)

I picked that lovely piece of tribal off of the wall of the Underground Art tattoo place back when I was 18 and had just graduated high school. It’s just not up to par with my other artwork, so I’m getting it covered up with something else. What? I don’t know. Last time I went in, Joe covered it with fleshtone ink to lighten it up a bit (which is why it looks kinda hazy in the photo).

In the past, I’ve told Joe what I want, and he’s made gorgeous drawings. This time, I really have no idea what I want, so I told him that I wanted to stick to mostly black & gray as well as what I liked in his portfolio and gave him the reins to draw something of his own creation. Of course, I have final say as to what gets marked on me forever, but I’m incredibly excited (as is he) to let him lead the creative process. He said he’ll send me photos as he sketches, but those are gonna stay secret until after Monday, when I go in for the first cover-up session.

Hopefully there will be plenty of people behind me to admire it at next weekend’s Ouachita Challenge.

March 24, 2011

Summer guide to bike shop etiquette

Filed under: Around the shop — Andrea @ 6:58 am

Now that bikes are coming out of hibernation, my shop is full of things that need to be fixed… NOW. We have a schedule, and we try to be fair to everyone that comes in, which means that if you walk in right now and need a tune-up and new cables on your bike, you’re going to land mid-week someplace. In a month, it’ll probably be two weeks. You see, not only are the two mechanics in your shop working like hell on the bikes that need to be fixed, they’re also helping customers, answering the phone, and building new bikes to replace the ones that have been sold.

We want nothing more than to make you happy. We want to make your bike work more perfectly than you could hope for, and we want to help you spend money on our products (if your shop doesn’t want that, then find a new shop). However, there are a few things you can do to assist us in this process:

1. wash your bike off. I’m not talking full-on soap and water scrub-down, I just mean hose the chunks of dirt and/or sweat & energy drink off and let it dry before you bring it in. Not only will this help me keep my shop clean, it will also make your service happen faster since I won’t have to do it myself.
2. Need an emergency repair the day before an important ride/race? I feel your pain. I’ve been in the same situation, and I want to take care of you. First, see #1. Second, realize that you are jumping in line, so I’m probably going to end up staying late/coming in early to work on your bike (or on the bike I was working on when you came in for that on-the-spot repair) in order to keep both you and the jumped customers happy.
3. About tips: We accept them, but don’t expect them. We greatly appreciate them. We will usually reciprocate this appreciation next time you bring your bike in for service by doing things including (but not limited to) working on your bike first thing in the morning on its scheduled repair day, lubing/wiping down your drivetrain, wiping down your frame, etc. You get the idea. Tip or no tip, I can assure you that you’ll always get exceptional service at my shop (if your shop doesn’t want that, then find a new shop).
4. When we’re busy, and you need help- say you’re a regular customer (or any customer, for that matter), and you need help picking out X product. If you come in at 1:00 on a Saturday, we’re going to be slammed. We want to help you, and we will, but it’s going to be after we help the person that came in before you. It’s only fair. Please don’t get mad if we don’t immediately drop what we’re doing. Hint- we aren’t nearly as busy on weekdays.
5. When things don’t go as planned: Let’s face it, sh*t happens. Sometimes once we get into a repair, we realize that it’s worse than expected. We might have to order a part or send something off for warranty repair/replacement. Once again, we want your repair to be perfect, but we can’t stock everything. Getting annoyed on the phone when we call and tell you we have to order something isn’t helping either of us. Also, once we place an order/ship a part off, then it’s out of our hands. Example: This winter, a snowstorm delayed a big shipment from our main distribution place. Some repairs had to be delayed. We can’t control the weather or UPS’ reaction to the weather, so please don’t yell at me when it prevents your part from arriving on time.
6. Don’t request a certain mechanic. First off, it’s rude and somewhat insulting to the other mechanics in the shop. Second, we all know our strengths and will generally work on bikes accordingly. We will always treat your bike as if it is our own (if your shop doesn’t want that, then find a new shop). If you still only want one mechanic to work on your bike, then you need to approach that mechanic privately to discuss this.

Hopefully this provides some insight into what your mechanic is thinking when you walk in to the shop asking for the impossible. We would love nothing more than to do that for you (if your shop doesn’t want that, then find a new shop), but it takes a little understanding on your end as well. Happy trails!

March 23, 2011

The Weekend?

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:00 am

Yes, I’ve been too busy over the past two days to tell you all about my awesome weekend.

Saturday was another round of Weekend World Championships with the Trinity ride. We rolled out at a painfully slow pace into the wind, so I took it upon myself to gather a couple of others to sit at the front and pick it up a little. Instead, the rest of the pack let us roll off the front for a few minutes only to get wiley and chase us down a little ways down the road. From there, the pace was blistering. I normally try to stay in the front half of the pack, but my legs would not oblige. I ended up in the back and getting accordioned around turns.

Then, I ended up dropped, in the wind, a healthy chunk of miles from the regroup point.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good drop. Once I realized that chasing was futile (I was 10-30 feet off the back for a good few minutes), I slowed a little to eat & drink before putting my head down and finishing off the miles alone. Somewhere along the way fellow Outdoors, Inc. employee Jay caught up to me, and we traded pulls all the way to the store stop.

BTW- a store stop on a 3 hour ride is dumb. I’d rather be dropped all the way home instead of riding my *ss off, stopping for 20 minutes, then going back to riding my *ss off half a mile later. That just sucks. So, in light of that, I rolled up to the parking lot, swapped a bottle from my back pocket, unwrapped a Powerbar, and rolled back out to ride somewhat easy until the group got their isht together and caught back up. Frank and Marta joined me, and the group caught back up just before the turn to hammer up Seed Tick hill. I managed to ride hard and stick with the group for the remainder of the route. I even managed a pretty good sprint at the end.

I’m rather certain that getting dropped was a team effort between a really damn fast pace as well as some creeping fatigue. The previous weeks training volume have been 14.5 hours and 17 hours (respectively), and this week followed suit. I felt better than expected Saturday morning, but, if you’ve been paying attention, last weekend was a tough one- the Spa City 6hr followed up by 4 hours on the Ouachita trail.

In other words, I got dropped, but I came by it honestly. Of course, I took some ribbing from co-workers, but then I explained to them…

So, what do you do on a Sunday to follow up a ride like that? Um, ride 6 hours. Duh. I plotted a route from Cordova through Fisherville, Williston, Somerville, Lambert, Braden, Galloway, Arlington, and back. It ended up being somewhere around 105 miles and took nearly 6 hours (riding at a Z2 pace). I don’t know for sure because my Garmin froze up a few miles from home.

The route included a couple of new (to me) gravel bits including Williams road (between Longtown and Porter just south of Braden) and Walsh Rd, which parallels the RR tracks to connect Hwy 59 and Braden roads, and is closed to thru-traffic because of a sketchy bridge. On either side of the bridge, there are large gravel humps with 4-wheeler tracks over the top of them (I almost ran headlong into kids on 4-wheelers at that spot). If you lack the combination of tires, skill, and crazy it takes to ride your road bike on 4-wheeler trail, I suggest you take Hwy 70 (which parallels Walsh/RRtracks) rather than Walsh. Just watch out for that dumb little dog at the corner of 70 & Beaver Creek. He’ll nibble your ankles.

Once again, I’m having problems with ischial bursitis. Essentially, the bursa under my left seatbone gets inflamed and puts pressure on my sciatic nerve. That makes my left leg and foot hurt/go numb. Standing up periodically throughout the ride doesn’t really help, so after about 4 hours of saddle time, I found myself having to periodically get off of my bike for a minute to relieve the pain/pressure and let feeling return to my foot. Last year, a saddle switch and fit re-evaluation helped a lot. I haven’t changed anything since then, so I’m not sure what route to take this time.

The ride on Sunday polished off a 16 hour training week. If you’re keeping up from earlier in the post, that’s 14.5, 17, and 16. The crazy part is that while it’s getting harder, it’s also getting easier. At first I wanted to lay down on the floor and sleep. I managed to pull myself together and train, but it was a little bit of a fight. I was often in zombie mode. Monday, I was sore. Yesterday, I felt as if nothing had happened, and had a kickass hill sprint workout on my singlespeed- kickass to the point that I’m going to have to move to a harder gear for the next one, because the 32×16 was too easy. Today, other than the fact that I know the bursitis thing is going to hurt like hell, I’m looking forward to a 3 hour Z3 workout. If my body follows its previous pattern, I could feel dead on Friday. As of right now, though, I’m getting pretty stoked at the way I’ve been able to adapt to the rigorous routine. After next week’s taper, Ouachita should be interesting.

March 18, 2011

Early Memphis

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 6:21 pm

Last night, I was feeling down, so I figured this morning I’d join Matt and Joel for a ride in Overton Park, which is prettymuch on the outskirts of Midtown Memphis. This meant that most of my riding would be on city streets that are rarely seen by visitors to the city, so I took the camera along to catch a few shots of the morning light on the road.

At 6:00am, I headed out on the road for a few miles to get to the greenline…

I decided somewhere along the greenline that I’m very fond of pre-dawn rides, and since I’ve got the badass Trail LED light that I want to do them more often now that the weather is nice. Once I was off of the greenline, I realized that I was going to be early to our meet-up spot, so I rode backwards on Matt’s route to meet up with him.

Matt and I soon met up and went to the corner of East Parkway (which runs north & south) and Avery to wait for Joel. Joel was running a few minutes late, so we hung around in someone’s front yard, ate Gu Chomps, and discussed life as well as how much more awesome the ghetto smells in the morning than the fancy parts of town.

Once Joel arrived, we rode up the middle of East Parkway to Overton Park, which is incredibly cool because it’s a few miles of twisty trail through an old forest in the middle of the city. Matt bent a wheel on the log ride. I took more photos…

I made it home just in time to clean up and eat breakfast before work. The ride ended up being nearly 2.5 hours rolling time and 35 miles. It was somewhat over what was on my schedule, but my brain needed the saddle time. On tap for the weekend- Trinity Ride/aka Weekend World Championships followed by another Sunday Solo Century. Next week’s taper for Ouachita is gonna feel gooooood.

March 16, 2011

This is only a front.

Filed under: non-bike — Tags: — Andrea @ 10:11 am

Actually, it isn’t. This blog is one of the most real things you can find on the internet as far as blogs go. I tell you what I’m thinking, what upsets me, what makes me giddy, my hangups, my feelings… I could go on. Over my nearly 30 years of time on earth, this is the person I am… proudly and unapologetically so, and, if you’ve ever met me, you’ll know that I’m like this in real life. [Side Note: I'm not saying that I don't tone myself down appropriately when the situation demands it. That's something totally different, and I consider being a bit of a chameleon to be one of my most cunning, useful, and awesome personality traits.]

…Which brings me to the point of this post. It has little to do with bikes and everything to do with being true and honest to yourself and the rest of the world. If your life is an idealistic front that is different from how you actually feel, what you actually care about, or what you really believe, then you will never be truly happy, and it’s going to eat away at you from the inside.

What I’m saying goes far beyond bloggers on the internet. I will admit, though, that the thing that brought this post to the front of my mind was the Tumblr page of a friend of a friend. The Tumblr page makes this girl appear to be a very religious individual who has dedicated her heart and soul to Jesus. It’s not that which bothers me. It’s that in real life, she acts just like any other “Christianity-identifying, but not really practicing” person that makes up a vast part of the US population. I also have no problems with people who are not necessarily “good” at following their faith of choice… I’m not here to call you a bad person when you don’t follow your identifying faith to the letter, I’m just here to call you out on portraying yourself as something that you don’t really care about.

I call myself out far more than I ever do anyone else. In the past, I’ve tried to be Martha Stewart, a graphic designer, dog trainer, a pro road racer… just to name a few. If you’ve been reading a while, you were here for the whole “pro roadie” thing. I tried my damndest to convince myself that I was happy working towards that goal. I knew all along that I wasn’t, but I was too afraid to admit it to myself and everyone else because I’d already gone so far down that road that it seemed illogical to turn back… not to mention incredibly frightening to change what I’d identified myself as for a good bit of time. It was destroying me from the inside out, and I knew that I didn’t have the dedication it took to put in the time and effort to train hard enough to be as fast as I needed to be.

Lucky for me and all of you that are reading, I did the massively terrifying thing and took off through the bushes on the side of the road in search of another route. That’s what it boils down to. If you are not living the life of the person that YOU want to be and working towards the goals that will satisfy you and not everyone else, then you will never be able to fully dedicate yourself because you’re trying to dedicate your life to a lie.

I’ve figured this out very recently for myself. I can say, without a doubt, that I want to be one of the best endurance racers in existence. I know this because, in the last two races as well as in the training going into those races, I’ve pushed myself in ways that are only possible if the level of dedication is just that high. I couldn’t do it before because I didn’t want it bad enough.

I think that, in general, people decide what they want to appear to be based on the standards of their peers. Anything else would be scary because it may result in exclusion and/or ridicule from the group. I’m here to tell you that yes. It is scary. If all of your friends want you to be a bike racer, but you don’t really care enough to dedicate large portions of your time and money into doing so, then don’t. If society says you should be a pure, sweet Christian girl who prefers mission trips to missionary, but you really just want to let your hair down and be wild, then cancel your appointment for that malaria booster, go buy a pack of condoms, and head to the social gathering spot where alcoholic beverages are served. If your friends all listen to Slayer, and you have a secret shrine to Justin Bieber in your closet, then tell them to STFU and deal with it next time they’re in your car and Bieber fever attacks your radio.

What’s the worst that could happen? You disappoint your peers? People talk about you? People spread rumors? People don’t want to be your friend anymore because you no longer abide by their standards of what you should be? Who cares? You are living life exactly how you and no one else wants you to live life. Anyone who hates you for doing so should probably spend that energy reflecting upon themselves instead.

March 15, 2011

Spa City- the Good and the Bad

Filed under: Bike Racing,Product Reviews — Andrea @ 8:34 pm

Good things about my weekend:

-Racing hard. Really hard. The results with lap times aren’t up yet (order of finish results HERE), but other than the pedal thing, my lap times were very consistent. Lap #6 was one of my fastest. I’m usually not consistent… to the point of being notorious amongst my peers for blowing up early and death marching late.
-Mean-mugging Pua during the pre-race meeting. She’s so damn fast, I figured that it’s not often that someone looks at her like they’re about to rip her legs off. It’s a skill worth practicing, and I was bored, so I gave her the WWE staredown. I don’t know if she even noticed, and if she did, she was probably wondering wtf was wrong with that chick in the green… then she proceeded to lay into the trail like it had insulted her mom and was the fastest person all day to complete 6 laps.
-Training really damn hard. After thrashing myself for 6 hours, 11 minutes on Saturday, I found a motel room in south Hot Springs, ordered a pizza, and kicked my feet up. Sunday morning, I met up with Todd the Antique Gun Show and Frank (who was a top 10 finisher at SouthernX) to pre-ride the first (and likely hardest) part of the Ouachita Challenge course (~4 hours and close to 40 miles of riding). Everything hurt, and I was moving a little slow, but I still had a good time.

Bad things about my weekend:

-Equipment failures of my own doing- first, the chainring thing… I made it over that rock without incident during the entire race on Saturday. Also, the fact that I failed to bring spare anything- bike, wheels, pedals, etc. I chock it up to not being in the lap race/pit mindset. Just before I found someone to borrow from during the race, I was flipping my sh*t on myself big time.
-Equipment failures not of my own doing- the pedal thing sucked, obviously, but it was kind of a freak accident. Will I switch to another type of pedal? Not sure yet. I like my Crank Brothers. My bigger complaint is that I’m riding a component group that retails for >$2k. It really didn’t work like that this weekend. Unrelated to the chainring/rock thing (which I am confident is totally fixed at this point), on several occasions, it groaned and strained to shift to lower gears. I had another chainsuck incident on the Ouachita trail when I tried to shift small-large before a long descent. The result was chainsuck so bad that it yanked my front derailleur sideways into my rear tire. Then, this morning, I noticed that the x-loc on my XX fork lockout is not really working.
I can take care of this stuff- either through working on it myself or calling up SRAM and getting warranty replacement parts. It’s not often that I feel entitled to anything, but I feel as though if I’ve meticulously installed a really expensive component group onto my bike that it should work perfectly. If I didn’t mind occasional reliability issues, I’d pay half as much for cheaper parts.

I’m not 100% sure about what I’m going to do equipment-wise. It’s likely fixable with a couple of phone calls. That doesn’t mean it won’t be a giant PITA to fix it before Ouachita Challenge in a week and a half.

In other news, here are some race-day photos…

March 14, 2011

Spa City 6-hour Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 8:57 pm

This is a bit of a long one-

Last time you heard from me, I was sitting in Hot Springs Starbucks thinking that I was capping off a slightly bad day with a decaf, a cookie, and some venting. Unfortunately, my daily shipment from the failboat was still being unpacked.

Back at camp, I’d already set up my tent (as a changing spot) and hammock (the snazzy new one from Eagle’s Nest that I got as a Christmas present from my parents). I was getting tired, so I settled in and got cozy. At first, the hammock seemed like a cocoon of awesome. But then, the wind blew gently… rocking the hammock ever so slightly.

I felt seasick almost instantly.

After deciding that I’d rather NOT be seasick all night, I ended up lowering the hammock enough that my butt touched the ground , which prevented the swaying/seasick combination. It was surprisingly comfortable, so I was out pretty quickly. Of course, some other campers rolled in around midnight and decided that a race course/ campground was a great place to drink and make lots of noise at midnight. So, at midnight:05, I yelled at them to please be quiet.

Stunned silence… then some muttering, very little noise, and a patchy remaining night of sleep.

In the morning, I took the advice of commenters on my previous post and went to the Pancake Shop in Hot Springs. Damn, that was good. I went back to camp to do the last of my race prep.

10:00 rolled around, and the race was on. I don’t mind a LeMans start, and I felt well-positioned and paced during the first lap. I decided on the 2nd lap that I’d stop big-ringing (39t) the climbs and start hitting the 29 on the steeper spots in order to keep from killing myself early. Unfortunately, one shift from small to large at the top of a hill resulted in chainsuck, which somehow resulted in the chain dropping to the inside of the small ring and wedging itself in between the ring and the frame. I had to stop and muscle it out, which took what seemed like hours. As I re-mounted my bike, Laureen Coffelt and Heather Ladd appeared on the trail behind me (remember what I said about Laureen being ready to kill you if you have a mechanical? Yeah… it was like that). I rode like a scalded cat.

When I passed back through the pits, I stopped to swap bottles and grab half a sandwich. Laureen passed me without stopping. Since it was only the 3rd lap, I decided to play bulldog for a little while and stuck to her wheel. I thought I had everything figured out… then we crossed a small creek. My foot came out of my left pedal. I tried for a minute to clip back in and realized that something was amiss. When I pulled over, Laureen never looked back (well, at least not when I was watching her ride away). Heather passed me soon after. The spring in my left eggbeater was broken, and I made the limp back to the pits.

I’ve never hated myself as much as I did at that point. I’d prepped as if I was going to an NUE-type race rather than a lap race. I had tools, but no replacement parts. No one in the surrounding pit area had a spare pedal of any type. I wanted to curl up & die in the back of the Element. I made one last effort to find a replacement pedal, and if finally paid off- I found a nice man that had an unfortunate wreck and was not continuing on in the race. He was using crank brothers Smarty pedals, and offered one to me for the remainder of the race. I slapped it on and took off into the pain cave of redemption.

The next two laps, I was passing people like they were in slow motion. As I rounded the last two corners of singletrack before the pit road on my 5th lap, Heather’s rear wheel was in front of me. I passed her, made my fast pit-stop, and told the officials that I was bangin’ 7 gram rocks, and going for a 6th lap. Heather was right behind me, but eventually dropped away. The effort had landed me back into a podium spot with Pua (who had pwnt all of us) and Laureen (who I finished about 7 minutes behind).

Photos and a rundown of everything I f*cked up to follow. For now… bedtime.

March 11, 2011

Hectic pre-race day

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 7:25 pm

Right now, I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Hot Springs, AR. The car charger on my phone isn’t working, so I figured I’d come up here & charge it since I’m camping, and there’s no electricity. If my phone dies, then my mom might have a massive panic attack since, somewhere in the Memphis area, there are convicts on the loose.

Yes, I know I’m in Arkansas… a long way from loose convicts.

I digress. It’s been a long day.

It started well- I avoided the rush hour traffic out of Memphis and arrived at Ceder Glades in time for a nice course pre-ride. During the ride, I managed to smash my large chainring into a rock. My chain would no longer stay on the large ring, and shifting was out of the question. I finished the lap in the small ring, but not before I called up Kenny (co-worker) to tell him to take an XX chainring from the shop so I could replace it when he arrived early in the morning.

Once I was back at my tent, I found the offending tooth on the chainring. With a little tough love from my channel locks, I straightened it up. The chain would shift up, but only if I were in the highest gears on the rear cog. It would, however, stay on the large ring, whereas before, it would jump around all over the place. Just in case Kenny didn’t make it in the morning, I decided to go by the local shop (Parkside Cycles) and see if they had an XX chainring that I could purchase in case of an emergency.

They did not. The mechanic there was a really nice guy, and he had me bring it in so that he could take a look. With a little more tweaking, it shifted. I took it out for a spin around the block, and it shifted perfectly. When I came back, he told me good luck and sent me along my way. I think I owe someone a 6-pack tomorrow.

Once I was back at camp, registration had opened. I then realized that I didn’t have my license with me. Luckily, I was able to pull my authorization to ride up from the USACycling site. I got my number and goodie bag, then went off to Rolando’s (awesome “Nuevo Mexican” food in downtown Hot Springs) for dinner. I sat on the porch, where the man playing guitar and singing played “Mad World” and “My Girl” back to back. Talk about a Sheen-sized mood swing…

I figured I’d find a coffee shop to kill time and charge my phone. I passed two closed coffee shops on my way to Starbucks. BTW- Hot Springs apparently has a 7:00 rush hour in the Oaklawn Track area. It took me 20 minutes to drive 4 miles. Before I saw this end of Hot Springs, I thought it was an odd but almost cool sort of place. Now, I sort of hate it.

At least in the morning, I can go to the Pancake Shop when I wake up. After that, all bets are off. The solo women’s field is a tough one. I’ll destroy myself as hard as possible and hope for the best.

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