Crush and Run Race Report

Yes, finally. I’ll admit- the last post was a little bit of a cop-out. I started my race report then realized that I could either write the whole thing or tie up what I had so far and actually eat breakfast and get to work on time.

SO…

Saturday morning was chilly- somewhere in the 40’s. In line with that, the IHOP near Marsha’s house had their heat turned up to about 80, which is nice for the first 5 minutes. After a cheese omelet and a few cups of coffee, I was back in the car and on the road to Gladeville.

The remainder of pre-race time went as expected, and I was at the start area about 20 minutes ahead of time, which gave me a few minutes to mill around, socialize, and get my usual nervous yawns. About a minute before we took off, someone passed around a folder with 50-mile cue sheets inside, and I had just enough time to fold and cram mine into my dorky (yet incredibly useful) map case just as the neutral rollout started (instructions for the 2nd 50 miles were to be handed out after the completion of the first 50).

The rollout lasted for the first couple of miles before we made the left turn on to cedar forest road… which is the “road” pictured in the “weekend preview” photos I posted earlier. It’s actually not a bad gravel road, it was just blocked on that end with large boulders that required the one and only dismount of the race. Once I was back on my bike, I found myself on the tail end of the lead group of men. The road gradually rolled upwards, and they were on the gas big time. I was hoping that they’d eventually settle into a more sustainable pace, but after about 10 minutes, I decided to back off and preserve my legs for the next 90 miles. I eventually joined a group that consisted of several men and a couple of other women- including the gal who’d said she was racing the 100, but then dropped to the 50.

P.S. She was strong. That would have been a damn battle if she’d been able to do 100.

A lot of people have problems reading a cue sheet. A lot of people also have problems with flat tires.  Thankfully, I did not have problems with either one, but those two things quickly whittled my group down to 4 of us- two men, the formerly-100mile chick, and myself. We set a nice pace, pushing a bit on the hills and sharing the work on the flats. The men got antsy any time one of us would throw a little jab at the other on a hill or into a headwind.

The course was absolutely gorgeous. A lot of the terrain was negotiated on either gravel or rolling, single-lane farm roads. We found ourselves oo-ing and ahh-ing like tourists. The only hiccup in the first 50 miles was one missed turn at an intersection with no road signs. Unfortunately, it allowed a group of about 10 riders (including a 2 or 3 more women) to catch back up to us, causing the “sketch factor” of the paceline to increase exponentially. With just under a mile ’til the finish (everyone in the group except for me was just doing the 50), a tractor pulled out in front of us. I had a flashback to my very first road race (Lascassas- near Murfreesboro) where the same thing happened. Back then, I was stunned and expected everyone to slow down and wait for it to move out of the way. Instead, half the field attacked, which dropped me like a clingy drunk chick.

I was near the front of the pack and could see that there was no oncoming traffic. So, I attacked the bejesus out of that tractor. It was a revenge attack for making me get dropped that other time, so it was extra angry, and didn’t stop until I’d hammered my way over the 840 overpass into a driving headwind. The peloton was shattered. A few people bridged to me, and the woman who made it ended up sprinting off when we were near the finish. I didn’t care since my race was far from over, and I was very content with just causing mayhem and destruction at the hands of an ill-timed tractor.

I rolled in to the start/finish. Dan asked, “how’d you like the course?” To which I replied, “It’s f*cking awesome!”

“Great! Now go do it again!”

I was stoked. After a break at the car to drop some clothes off, drink a ginger ale, and eat a snack, I rolled back out for lap 2. The wind had really picked up, and it somehow managed to be a tailwind for much of the second lap. My legs still felt great, and I was happy to have a bit more of a chance to enjoy the scenery on my own for 50 more miles instead of being distracted with things like “not running in to other people”. I probably smiled most of the time, and rolled in with a total time of 6:30- placing me in the middle of the 6 others that completed the 100 (all men).

While I was in post-race relax/eat pizza mode, this guy finished the 50:

 

All in all, a totally kickass experience. Everyone had a great time, and it raised a nice chunk of money for the charity Ride for Reading. I’m looking forward to what Dan has in store for next year since he’s vowed to make the 100 even more challenging.

Crush and Run: Pre-Race

I made it to Nashville Friday evening in just enough time to have dinner and a margarita with Marsha and Bruce Dickman before heading over to the Nashville Bicycle Lounge for the pre-race meeting. When I arrived, the mix of cyclists there was fabulous- both road and MTB friends as well as a plethora of people I’d never met, but were all very friendly. As I chatted my way up to the front of the store, someone asked me, “Have you met Dan (race director and owner of the Bicycle Lounge) yet? You guys would get along great.” However, it wasn’t a cheery, “oh yeah, everyone loves Dan” sort of “you guys would get along great,”  it was more of a “you guys are both not normal” sort of “you guys would get along great”. More on that in another post.

The location of the start of the race was previously secret, and it was soon revealed by Dan that we’d be leaving from Ziggy’s Pizzeria in Gladeville, TN, and that cue sheets for a 50 mile loop would be given out a few minutes before the start. For those of us wanting to race the 100, we’d get further instruction after completing the first 50 miles. I met another woman who said she was going to race in my category, and was happy to have some competition.

Other than cluing us in on the start location, the only thing we knew about the course is that there was some gravel and at least one large hill smack in the middle (a picture of the elevation profile was “leaked” and circulated around the crowd). I did get to meet Dan, and yes, we did hit it it off fabulously, and yes, it’s probably because we’re both weird. STFU and GTFO. We chatted for a while, I picked up a box of Pro Gold stuff from Bruce to try out in the shop/at home, and headed back to Marsha’s to look at a map and see WhereTF Gladeville was…

Now with Smoother, Younger-Looking Skin…

 

This post really doesn’t have anything to do with skin improvements, but that phrase has been stuck in my head ever since I decided it’s time to moisturize on a daily basis.

Unlike last year, when I took a good chunk of time off following the NUE finale, I really only laid low for a couple of weeks after Shenandoah. I’m not complaining- I don’t like the “starting from scratch” feeling that it gave me, though it was a really good way to begin laying the bricks that became the foundation for the fitness I’ve been adding to since then.

The last few weeks, I’ve been getting back on the CX bike, though, as I mentioned before, I’m not racing the first CX race of the season. Instead, will be heading to Nashvegas for Crush and Run. The handlebar mount dork-pack is in full effect. Maybe next year at this time, I’ll be at Pisgah with the Cool Kids.

Speaking of next year… the sponsor hunt is still on. I’m still working a few things, but so far, the lack of responses is putting chips in my motivation. I need someone to work for other than myself.

Also, here’s a cool bike that came by the shop a while back…

w00t!

Yesterday was pretty boss. I kicked things off with the Trinity Group ride. One of Ryan’s Marx & Bensdorf teammates was getting married in NOLA, so a lot of the M-B guys were out of town (congrats to Will & Kelly- sorry we couldn’t make it!) It gave me a chance to occasionally drive some of the pace of the ride, which resulted in a big split in the group somewhere around the west side of Arlington. Boom.

After the ride, Ryan and I had some delicious Mellow Mushroom pizza, did a little shopping, then came home to relax around the house. I worked a little on my road bike to prep it for Crush & Run next weekend. It also needed a little bottom bracket love to get rid of an obnoxious creak.

Later on that evening, I found out that this guy had won a local 24 hour road ride fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital:

That’s Jim. He rode 308 miles from 6pm Friday until 6pm Saturday. He’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but his sweat is weapons-grade corrosive. I know this because I overhauled his bike on Thursday. Any mechanic worth his/her salt will tell you that when you do major pre-event work on someone’s bike just before they have a major success, it makes you feel warm & fuzzy inside.

You know what else makes you feel warm & fuzzy? Homemade risotto. My first attempt at making the rice dish that Gordon Ramsey has made infamous on Hell’s Kitchen was wildly successful (I used Alton Brown’s recipe from Foodtv.com)

Today was a shake-down ride for the setup I’ll be using for Crush & Run. Fashion conscious individuals beware- it includes a handlebar map holder and MTB pedals. Other than a nagging 15mph wind, it was great. I rode through the woods in Germantown to test out my hardshell tires. Everything seems spot-on.

Then, I came home and saw this awesome article on MTBR: Female Bike Mechanics on the Rise in NYC
I can definitely relate to the part about answering the shop phone and having the caller ask to speak to a mechanic. There’s also a customer who comes in and “secretly” requests that one of the guys works on his bike instead of me. Newsflash, hon… we’re all friends. It’s not a secret that you’re a sexist D-bag. It’s all good, though- 99% of the customers who come through the shop are just happy to get their bike fixed, no matter what the chromosomal makeup of the mechanic.

 

 

Slammed

Hey, look! The Crowbar found it’s way on to slamthatstem.com! It’s always been a favorite timekiller for me so I figured I’d submit the RDO since it’s 120mm travel fork necessitates extra stem slammage. For those of you that are visiting here by clicking on the slamthatstem link, here’s a post with some nicer/cleaner photos: http://blog.brickhouseracing.com/?p=3767

I appreciate all of the comments on my last post. I entered Crush and Run this morning. My decision was based not only on the comments, but also on the CX training rides I’ve started in the last week. If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know that since I tore a muscle in my groin at Fool’s Gold a couple of years ago, I’ve had early-season issues with re-injuring it during cyclocross dismounts. In an effort to avoid this, I’m trying to work my way back in to the season slowly, and going full-bore into racing doesn’t seem like a good idea at this point.

In sponsor news, a couple of tentative things are in the works, but I’m still hustling for something major.

So… what will it be?

I can’t make my mind up about which race I should attend on October 1st. So, instead of figuring it out for myself, I would rather let you, my loyal readers, decide for me-

There’s the Covington Cyclocross race. It’s relatively close (biggest draw for me- little to spend on gas, no need to work out lodging/food/etc), and I’d be able to double up and race both women’s open and singlespeed categories. There will also be cash prizes for the Women’s Open race.

Then, there’s Crush and Run in Nashville. It’s got 50 and 100 mile options- including the “extra crazy” 700×23 tire option for the 100 mile race, which would likely be my category of choice. Read about it- it sounds like something that’d favor locals. I’d have to find a place to stay for a couple of nights (I know a potential post-race party when I see one, so I doubt I’d leave back for Memphis after the race), along with all the other logistics that come with going out of town to race. It appeals to my (and your?) sense of adventure, though.

Which race report would you rather see? 45 minutes of all-out-killing? 100 miles of who knows what? What will it be? You decide my fate in the comment section.

Hustle

Hmmm… so many thoughts racing through my head and no real way to organize them into a coherent blog post.

Since my last post, I’ve been talking to a lot of people who know people about trying to find financial support for next race season. Interbike was this week, so friends who were there made mention of my singlespeed endurance prowess to several companies. Many lines cast, but no bites yet. It sounds as if I really missed out on an opportunity to promote myself by not finding a way to get to Vegas.

In the meantime, I’ve also noticed that every fall, it takes me way too many rides to get at all comfortable on my cyclocross bike. It’s a size too small for me, so it’s got more drop than what I like for off-road riding, and the handling is twitchy. It’s also got a metric crap-ton of toe overlap.

On a more positive note, today I rode with one of the owners of Faction strength and conditioning. He’s a former student of mine and has recently moved his gym to a warehouse office park that I pass by several day a week on my way to ride in Shelby Farms. The nice thing about his place is that if you do bicep curls in the squat rack, then one of the Strongman guys will, in turn, use you in lieu of a log for overhead press. Hopefully things will work out for a winter weight training hideaway.

Also on the positive side of things, the Jet9 RDO is still the most awesome bike in the world. I rode my first sub-50-min lap of Stanky Creek on Friday. I still scare the hell out of myself with it on occasion, but that’s definitely become part of the fun of riding a full suspension rocketship.

And, finally, if all of the planets align and I get to take another extended trip out West next summer, I’ve got a spot at the Leadville Hostel to use as a training base-camp.

On a more random note, I almost glued my mohawk to a tubular Zipp wheel yesterday. Don’t ask.

Site Stats…

A few random thoughts that I’ve gathered while sifting through my recent blog stats-

To the guys on the “Dirt Dawgs” message forum out of the Dallas area- I see you. I don’t know what the context is of the link you’ve posted to my blog because you have your forum locked down like the boys only secret clubhouse, but thanks for the traffic, I think…

More people are searching for “Debbie Milne” than “Andrea Wilson”.

More people are searching for “clevages” than “Andrea Wilson”.

A lot of people are tying to decide whether they want to order Alligator I-link or Nokon cable housing systems. My advice? Yes.

Along the same vein, people are also very interested in the Uvex Boss Race helmet. Yes, it looks like a mushroom. It’s also one of the nicest helmets I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing (nobody else comes close to beating their retention system).

The most traffic comes from people who are trying to use the google search bar as a place to enter my web address. I count these hits as “my parents”.

Getting linked from Dicky’s blog has done wonders for my traffic. While I can’t follow his advice, “go back in time and start a blog,” that might be the next best thing, however itchy it makes me feel.

That’s about it. You can get back to googling “clevages” now.

 

Must be fall…

…since I’ve once again taken to the internet in search of funding for the next 12 months of training and racing.

Unfortunately, the #1, most awesome team that I was aiming for is not currently hiring. Though, it was incredibly nice to get a phone call and quick chat from said team about the lack of a spot for a new rider. It beats the hell out of the companies who won’t even send a “hell no” email.

Unlike seasons past, I’ve basically got the equipment side of things nailed- working at a shop, I can get stuff for about the same cost as what is generally offered to people who aren’t getting stuff for free. What I need now is what people are least likely to want to part with- cash money. Gas, hotel, entry fees, coaching, food, equipment maintenance, etc. If you race, you know it adds up fast. In my current situation, Outdoors has provided me with what they can (and I’m incredibly grateful, of course), but Ryan has generally been my biggest “sponsor” on the financial side of things.

It makes me feel like the family money pit.

So, now I’m challenged to come up with creative ways to fund this operation. If I could scare up somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 for the year, I’d be less of a money pit and more of just a shallow grave. Ridiculous, I know, but I’ve got to set a goal somewhere. The current brainstorm/hustle I’m working on is trying to think of local companies that might be willing to throw some cash into the pot in exchange for blog advertising or anything else promotional.

Open to comments from the Peanut Gallery…