Soggy

Since the State Championship race, the weather in Memphis has been chilly and wet. I’ve taken to the trainer for my workouts both Tuesday and today (yesterday, I had a “fun with mud/gravel” recovery ride on the CX bike wearing road tires). In case you were ever wondering, road tires don’t work well on the greasy mud in Shelby Farms.

Yesterday, the recent deluge of training intensity finally started to make me feel a little worn out. Today, after a good nights sleep, breakfast, and some laying around watching reruns of American Dad on Hulu, I finally made it upstairs to the pain cave of awesomeness:

The South Park was just warm-up entertainment. Once I got to the real workout, it was straight Glitch Mob Radio on Pandora. Two hours later, I exit the cave, covered in sweat and trying not to fall down the stairs as my quads shake in surrender. I then proceeded to down a recovery drink, some leftover seafood pasta, and a couple of chocolate truffles before passing out hard for a solid 45 minutes. Upon waking, I realized that I’d drooled on my pillow and was being used as a bed by no fewer than 3 animals.

Post-workout power naps are the best.

Once out of the bed, I went to the mailbox and found that it had leaked on to some important mail:

(bonus shot of my medal from the weekend)

Luckily, the contents inside the envelope were still viable, and my “team vehicle” is now looking pretty boss:

 

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise- I’ve been riding Maxxis tires ever since I discovered the awesome-ly light/knobby Ignitor (the Ignitor front/Ikon rear has now been dubbed the “Andrea Combo” at the shop). I’m looking forward to “officially” repping them (along with Outdoors, of course) in the upcoming season.

That’s your brief report on adventures in rainy weather. Stay tuned for next week, where I’ll be switching from organized intervals to CX skills/intervals. Spoiler alert- they’ll be outside, regardless of weather…

 

Tennessee State Championship Cyclocross

As I mentioned in my last post, the week leading up to the State Championship race was filled with intervals and elbow busting. I managed to relax and recover enough that I was feeling good and (somewhat nervously) confident about the race. I was fully expecting Kim Fasczewski to show up and put up a hell of a fight, but found out Saturday night that she would be wrapping up her season win in a North Georgia series. When we arrived at Lock 4 park and saw all the fast ladies who’d come out of the woodwork for the Championship, it was obvious that the race would be a killer nonetheless.

I realized during my pre-ride that the course was likely the most technical one of the season. The corners were greasy, and it never went straight for more than a few seconds at a time. It was also laid out on the side of a hill- at the beginning of the course, the hill was more gradual, getting steeper as the course wrapped around the side of the Lock 4 peninsula. I don’t mind tech, but I tend to excel on power courses. It was going to be tough.

Eight of us lined up (biggest race of the year!) We laid into it from the gun, Paula Burks got the holeshot- looking back on the power file for the day, the first 10 seconds of racing, I averaged about 700 watts. Kirsten- a rider from Wooden Wave- jumped around early and took off. She was getting a tiny gap, so I hopped around Paula at the barriers and chased. Somewhere a few turns into being on her wheel, I passed her and attacked up one of the steep spots. As I started lap 2, I was alone.

The course wound around so much that I was able to watch the ensuing chase behind me. Kirsten fell back and Jessica Owings took over. Eventually, Paula found her groove and chased in 2nd while Jessica and Amy Phillips battled out for 3rd. Lucky for me, by then, there were only a couple of laps to go.

 

Tough win on a tough course. Nice to have on my last race before Worlds, though I can’t help but wish I’d ridden less conservatively. Thankfully, the Louisville course should be a more balanced mix of power and tech. Til then, my schedule at work will be light while I make the final push in my training intensity and try to mentally prep myself for what I hope is the hardest and most successful cyclocross race I’ve entered.

 

 

Bump

Tuesday morning, I succumbed to peer pressure and, following my weekly trip to the chiropractor, went out to the new skatepark with the Voltage for its maiden voyage (unless, of course, you consider the laps around the in-house kitchen/living room track). Turns out, when the concrete is cold, and the air is less cold and very damp, it leaves a slick film of water on some faces of the bowls. I found out the hard way within the first 30 seconds of riding…

Yes, cute, I know. I’ve got a matching one on my knee and a bruise on the front of my right hip bone. Apparently, I’m bonier than I previously thought. You may also notice the red nail polish. I had to glam it up a bit for Ryan’s work Holiday Party. Now, I feel extra pretty  every time I stick my finger into the grease jar at work.

Training is otherwise going well. Despite racing my ass off over the weekend and busting it Tuesday morning, I pulled off some decent power numbers in my Tuesday morning 5x3x3 workout (5 repeats of 3 min on/3min off intervals). Hopefully, the trend will continue for tomorrow’s workout that I’m not ashamed to admit, looks a little intimidating. I’m reasonably sure it won’t kill me, though.

A Weekend with the Men

After a brief hiatus from CX racing following the Outdoors, Inc. race, jumping back in on Saturday was a little like hopping into a chilly pool. I’ve started my last cycle of training intensity before Worlds, and the two races over the weekend were an effective addition to the stress.

Saturday morning was cold- somewhere around 30 degrees. We bundled up and rode over to a nearby church for the first annual Cordova Cross race. Once we were registered, we rode a couple of laps of the course to stay warm. The course itself was pretty boss and contained most of the fun/challenging elements that you could ask for in a cyclocross race- fast sections, mud pit, uphill barriers, sketchy-steep turns, power sections… all packed in to a relatively short loop around the church property.  The field was divided in to A, B, and Women’s groups for scoring, though we all started together. I entered the women’s race, but from the start, ended up staying near the front of the pack. While I was clawing back any men that were unhitched from the lead group, Ryan was busy winning the A race, and we both took home a win in our respective categories (I landed 4th overall against the guys).

Trophies!

Sunday was a bit more serious. We packed up and day-tripped the Arkansas State Championship race. The promoter decided that no categories (including women’s open) racing the B race would receive a payout. Shitty. Also, being from Tennessee, I don’t qualify to win an Arkansas jersey. SO, I decided to race the men’s “A” race to see if I could grab one of the top 5 spots and take home a little cash.
The race course was sweet- it was mostly soft grass and typical CX-type terrain. However, it included one section of snotty, greasy, and occasionally rocky singletrack. When roll call started, I lined up in the front row in case anyone was wondering if I really meant business.

Of course I did… I was wearing my “business” armwarmers…

From the gun, I made an aggressive start. Ryan ended up behind me, and didn’t make it up to my wheel until around 4 laps in. This was the first race for me on Ryan’s Reynolds wheels with the Challenge Limus mud tire. As the race progressed, I got more and more comfortable with the surprising amount of traction they afforded me on the soft grass and slick trail.

They’re officially on my “awesome” list:

 

Also on the “awesome” list, carbon tubular wheels:

 

 

 

(those last few are courtesy of Cliff Li)

Once again, I ended up in 4th place behind 2 Arkansas men and Ryan, who finished 3rd. Another good, hard day of training in the books. The only place I feel like I’m really lacking is in the last 20 minutes of a 60 min race. Fortunately for me, the Worlds race is only 40 minutes long, so I should be able to lay the hammer down for the entirety of the race. Looking forward, the next couple of weeks is going to be a rabbithole of intensity, including two hard workouts and the TN State Championship CX race on Sunday. I foresee lots of compression tights and sleep.

 

Phone Dump

It’s time for the next edition of phone photodump- lots of fun photos, not enough time/content to blog them separately…

First, from the “cool bike shit” files, is this:

No, I didn’t get a new powermeter. I decided that since I’m gunning for a world championship in Cyclocross that I should be doing a majority of my training on my cyclocross bike. So, on Saturday, I took the Quarq off of my road bike and put my cyclocross chainrings on it. Yes… shit just got serious.
The only problem that I’m running in to is that Quarq recommends that you re-calibrate the slope for your powermeter when you change the rings. They provide a table for calculating this change. However, I had new rings installed from the beginning, and I don’t know if the slope was ever changed or not.  I might have to pull that crank and send it to them for calibration.

 

The RDO fork is pretty boss. Consider it a rigid fork multiplier… it makes everything that’s fun about riding rigid even more fun. It also makes everything that’s challenging about riding rigid a little more challenging.

 


I like ironing Ryan’s work clothes- especially when he brings me coffee and a pop tart.

 

Thor has discovered television.

Turbo, at the age of 10-ish, has discovered garbage.

 

Thor and Turbo also have a not-so-secret pact that he won’t bother her like he does the little dogs if she’ll allow him to snuggle on the dog bed.

 

Can you spot the terrier in this photo?

 

 

Skatepark!

Tuesday evening, Matt asked if I wanted to join him and Joel at the new Memphis Skatepark for an early morning shred session. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of any good excuse to not go-

Excuse 1: “but I don’t have a bike that’s good for riding in a park”
Use the Endo Machine

Excuse 2: “but bike day is only on Monday”
It’s 6:30 in the morning. WTF do you think is going to be there at 6:30 on a weekday when it’s 30 degrees outside?

Excuse 3: “Ive got no skills, what am I going to be able to do?
You’ll have fun, trust me.

So, I was up before dawn layering myself and not really sure what to expect. Most skateparks I’ve been to are the general “street” style park, and, since I have no “street” riding ability, I didn’t know what I’d be facing. However, the Memphis park turns out to be a little bit of a throwback, with two bowls that ride somewhat like an in-ground pump track.

I f*cking LOVE PUMPTRACKS.

Joel and Matt were on BMX bikes, and were ripping around at high rates of speed. The Endo Machine wasn’t quite the park ripper- the headshock kept clunking as it repeatedly unloaded and bottomed out. Joel and Matt both took it for a spin and promptly returned it, kinda like:

All clunking aside, I still had a blast.

 

Watching them, I realized that a large hole in my riding abilities exists. I also realized that the Endo Machine is not an appropriate bike for riding in a skatepark and learning such skills. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s when I feel like my equipment is an excuse for my lack of performance. If I’m going to suck, it’s going to be because I (not my bike) honestly suck. So, like any normal person who is determined to shred a skatepark with the goal of becoming a well-rounded mountain biker, I went home and bought a bike:

 

 

I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this winter.

 

Syllamo Thanksgiving #5

Our final day of riding was another easy one- an out & back on the “easy” part of the yellow trail with a lap of the red trail in the middle. Aside from Ryan taking a spill when he handlebar-hooked a vine, it was a pretty laid back ride. The weather was finally trying to be sunny, so the scenery was excellent.

Once we were back, I cleaned up and started with the real highlight of the day (week?)- Thanksgiving dinner. The night before, I’d brined a turkey and prepped the dressing and mashed potatoes, so everything was set for an amazing dinner. Did it turn out just right? Check out the photos and see for yourself…

 

This concludes the Thanksgiving series of what’s probably the most uneventful trip to Syllamo I’ve had in a while. I’m looking forward to better weather on my next trip… whenever that may be. With prep for worlds heating up, I’m looking at a busy training schedule focused more on bringing the CX pain than negotiating rocks and trail for hours on end.

Syllamo Thanksgiving #4

Wednesday’s ride was a short one. I had a momentary lapse of judgment and suggested that we take the Blue trail down to the highway. I remembered about halfway down that the 6 inches of rain we’d received in the previous two days had backed up into the White River and surrounding creeks- including Livingston Creek, which the trail crosses three separate times.

Matt and Bruce rode ahead of Ryan and me, and, sure enough, when we reached the bottom, Matt and Bruce were wandering around looking at the quickly flowing, waist-high water. We decided to climb back up to Green Mountain Road and back to the Green Trail for a lap of nice rockiness. Afterward, it was back to the cabin to prep for Thursday’s Thanksgiving Dinner. And work on the puzzle.

 

Obligatory Green Trail Overlook photo:

Syllamo Thanksgiving #3

Yes, I realize I’m sorely behind on posting about my 5 days riding in Arkansas, but you have to understand, Ryan and I were heavily involved with both riding our bikes and completing a 1000 piece puzzle. Priorities, man.

 

The night prior to our 3rd day riding saw downpours that brought 2-3 inches of rain to the area. So, more forest road riding was in order. Ever since this post well over a year ago, I’ve been itching to get back to Barkshed Camp to ride out of the camp on Barkshed Road, which (if you’re not the link-clicking type) I’d previously attempted but failed when I found the road blocked with a multitude of trees and brambles.

Luckily, this time, I had more daylight and the encouragement of Ryan and Matt. We found that much of the deadfall that had covered the trail before was now cut, and, though we granny geared and walked a little in the brambled spots, within half a mile, we popped out at a forest road gate that kept traffic off only that short section of trail. So, after sharing a ziploc bag of gummy bears, we traversed the the remaining 8 miles of Barkshed Rd. on nice, rolling, gravel.

The forest road eventually dumped us onto Push Mountain road. It’s a nice, low traffic (surprisingly rare for that area) road with a good shoulder. We followed it up to a gravel county road that led us back into the forest. Along the way, we saw two very large pigs as well as a forest ranger who stopped to ask (in a very polite, roundabout way), what in the spandex-clad hell we were doing out there.

Somewhere along the way, Matt bonked and yelled at his bike when the front derailleur stopped working. Luckily, at that point, we were only half an hour or so from Gunner Pool Camp, where we’d parked the car.

Random Caption Contest:

(All I can think of is this Wayne’s World skit: http://vimeo.com/476035 )

Some others:

 

 

Syllamo Thanksgiving #2

The weather on Monday was a little bit dismal. The rain stopped early in the day, but clouds and fog hung around all day. Bruce decided that he’d hold down the couch while Ryan and I hit up the Ozark forest roads.

We parked on Green Mountain Road and began climbing. Earlier, I’d picked the route based on Google Earth maps. I’d found a “road” that looked like a nice overlook trail- It’s nice to have Ryan here to ride with me so I can get off the usual trails & roads and explore some of the ATV trails that rarely see traffic.

The trail we found was doubletrack ATV path that was either straight up or straight down. The steepness of the trails and the layer of wet leaves over the rocks and downed limbs made even the granniest-gear of climb or descent incredibly difficult. I’m looking forward to visiting it again without the thick cloudcover that was keeping us from enjoying the view.

We noticed countless numbers of ATV and horse trails along the forest roads. Since I don’t have a map to them, I’m not willing to explore them by myself. So, I’m planning on finding out from the forest service if there is a map available. They make great/challenging alternate routes when the weather saturates the mountain bike trails.

Good workout today. We basically hammered for 2.5 hours. Followup? Recovery pizza at Tommy’s Famous in Mountain View