brickhouseracing

May 5, 2011

Singlespeed Rambling

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:52 am

As a rookie singlespeeder, I sometimes fret a little over gear choice. Though a 32×20 will get you through just about anything, a 32×21 has been my gear of choice for the Breck 100 and most rides at Syllamo. Though the terrain in those races is vastly different- long climbs at >10k feet vs. short, steep sea level climbs, the lower gear seems to work out well (especially at Syllamo, where there are very few places where you can spin out).

At Cohutta, the 32×20 worked well, though if I’m more fit next year, I might bump down to a 19t so I can keep the pace up on the flat spots (same song for SM100- the 32×20 was great last year on the climbs, but the long flat pavement section was monotonous). I’m sticking to the 21t for Syllamo, but Mohican? Uh… I’m not really sure. I DNFd last year with geared-bike mechanical issues- a blessing in disguise since I also cracked the Air9 frame and decided to say “to hell with gears” and warranty it with a One9. The course is generally rolling, but has some short, steep spots, so I’m not totally certain of what to do. Same for ORAMM.

Wait… did you just say ORAMM?

Yes, the fact that I’m even considering it must mean that last year’s ORAMM was apparently a pain similar to childbirth. For the uninformed: I knew that the weekend following the Breck 100, I’d either have “awesome superstar legs,” or I’d be a total lump of sh*t. Surprise- it’s wasn’t what I was hoping for. During the race, I dislocated my thumb around mile 20something. It forced me to decide between painfully slow descending or fast and excruciatingly painful descending. If any of you vultures who hung out at the “people will probably wreck here” spots and thought you heard sobbing as I passed by, yes, you heard correctly. About halfway up Curtis Creek, I started having lower back pain. Lots of back pain. I’ve figured out now that as convenient as it is, I just can’t wear a hydration pack of any style. I’ve tried the traditional style pack, the Wingnut, and the Camelbak LR, and all of them, at some point, will make my back hurt. To cap off my ORAMM experience, I started to massively cramp just before the last climb up Kitsuma. Worst cramps of my life, in fact.I swore the race off forever.

Fast forward to this year. I’m working at the Outdoors Inc bike shop. We’re kicking ass and taking names. There’s no way, in my current role at the shop, that I can take 3 weeks of summer to gallivant around New Mexico and Colorado.  Yes, I could probably make it a short trip where I arrive, race within 24 hours, then go home a day or two later, but that’d be pretty lame. So, the Breck 100 is on hold until I’m either A) Pro enough that I don’t need to work in a shop, or B) Ryan gets a fat raise at work and I don’t need to work in a shop. ORAMM, which is July 24th, is looking like an attractive option. I’ve obviously forgotten how bad it hurt last year and/or figured that since that was officially the “worst race of my life” that it couldn’t really get worse short of me leaving the course in an ambulance.

So, I guess the point of all this is that I’m trying to decide what gear I’ll use for Mohican and ORAMM. It’s not easy to go off of advice that others give, so I’ll likely just decide at the last minute and spend half of the race cursing my decision (which half will be determined by whether I choose too hard or too easy of a gear). Then there’s the rigid vs. suspension thing… who knew that singlespeed riding could be so complicated?

Finally, I’ve now got a gaping hole in my race schedule from Mohican (6/4)  ’til ORAMM (7/24). Race suggestions (must be weekend-trip-able) are more than welcome.

May 4, 2011

Customer Service Win!

Filed under: Bike Racing,Product Reviews,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 5:19 am

In a day and age when it’s easy for big companies monopolize the cyclist market while half-assing good customer service to weekend warriors and wannabes such as myself, it’s always refreshing to be reminded that there are still small companies that aren’t under rule of a guy with a business degree wearing a suit and sitting behind a giant mahogany desk. As fighters of the man behind the desk, they actually have to care about their customers- something I experienced last night that made me feel all warm & fuzzy inside (well, it could have been the Maredsous, but whatever).

As you may remember from my race report, I flatted early and found that the Awesome Strap Race that Dicky gave me after Southern Cross had somehow cut a hole in my spare tube. I don’t really fault the strap- if you ride off-road, stuff rattles and vibrates. No matter how you secure it to your bike or person, a tube can have a hole rubbed in it over time, and it’s my job to check for that. I fault myself.

However, last night, I got an email from the president of Backcountry Research. He apologized profusely for my problems and is going to send a Hitch strap out for me to try. Hell yes! Win on so many levels.

So, there you have it. Hurray for “Awesome” customer service.

May 3, 2011

Photodump Sunday

Filed under: non-bike,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 5:57 am

Rather than getting up, packing my stuff, and making a morning drive back to Memphis, I decided I’d take the morning easy and go for a recovery ride. As I mentioned before, I stayed at the lodging put together by Atlanta Outfitters. The camp was called Whitewater Express, and had a really cool “summer camp” vibe to it.

Sunday morning, the roosters woke up at 5:30am. Breakfast was 7:30, so I changed and drove out to the Boyd’s Gap overlook that I’d passed during the race. I wanted to watch the sun rise, but the overlook is more of a “sunset” spot, so I walked up to a nearby radio tower. There were too many trees and haze to take good sunrise photos, so I looked for other nearby interesting things.

Back at camp, I had breakfast, packed the car, and went for my recovery ride…

 

P.S. Those last couple are from an area just west of Decatur, but it wasn’t the only tornado-ravaged are I passed through. If the Earth ever wanted to eradicate the human race, we’d as helpless at the little black picnic ants that occasionally invade my kitchen.

May 1, 2011

Cohutta 100 Race Report

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

This year, I was determined to not make the same mistake and go out too fast like I did last year when I raced Cohutta as my first 100. The start was cold. I didn’t warm up very much, but figured since my strategy was to hit my 100 mile pace from the gun, that I’d get warm in plenty of time for the first real climb about halfway into the first miles of singletrack.

My strategy was actually working very well.  It was tough to let a lot of people pass me at the start of the race, but I figured I’d see a lot of them again in due time. I entered the first singletrack in a group, but, amazingly, it was a group with a very nice pace. I was able to settle into a good rhythm, and I was feeling great.

Unfortunately, I took a bad line coming off of Boyd’s Gap. I was a little miffed at people avoiding some rocks and dabbing in order to get to an easy line. I just rolled though the rocks, but managed to flat my rear tire on the way. Talk about bad timing… avoiding an easy/slow line is a lot of what I practiced last time I was at Syllamo, and I didn’t have any issues on much gnarlier terrain.

I didn’t panic (at least not immediately) and pulled off the trail to install a tube, only to find that my spare tube had a cut in it from an edge on the Awesome Strap I was using to hold it under my saddle. Uh-oh.

Here’s a word of advice to anyone who has ever yelled out, “got everything you need?” to someone changing a flat on the side of the trail…

IF YOU DON’T PLAN ON STOPPING IF THE PERSON SAYS “NO,” THEN DON’T F^CKING ASK IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I digress.

Eventually, Scott, one of my kind and generous blog readers, came to my rescue. He gave me his tube and was nice enough to stick around until I was back rolling. Scott, I am eternally grateful.

Time lost… approximately 10 minutes. Places lost… no idea. It was a lot. The next section was alternately rooty and wet. I was nervous about a pinch flat, so I took it somewhat easy. Once I was through the creek and over the bridge by the White Water Center, the trail pitched up in a nice power climb. I started to gain ground back on the people who had passed me earlier. Since the course conditions were so much better than last year, the rest of the singletrack seemed to fly by. I refilled a bottle at the exit onto the fire road then headed on my way.

The course is generally rolling for a little while. Between the water stop and the flat spots, I was back & forth with a few women. At one point where the course was pretty flat, a woman and the guy she was with flat out dropped me. He pulled her off into the woods and left me spinning in their dust. A while later, I caught him alone on the first pitches of the “big” climb, where I joked with him, “Don’t worry, I’ll catch her here in a few minutes.”  About half an hour later, I did. We were back and forth for a while, but I was able to pull away on the last miles of the climb.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to find Laureen Coffelt as well. I knew that once I passed her that I couldn’t slow my pace lest she break me with her relentless motor. I basically rode the 2nd half of the race looking over my shoulder for blue/green/white kit.

Somewhere on the first hills, I hit a rhythm that stayed with me the entire race. I had this song in my head (which resulted in me telling a guy on one of the easy grades that he was a dime and asking why he was looking lonely), and I began singing the chorus in my head to keep time with my breathing and pedaling. I began flying past people on geared bikes like they were sitting still.
I’ve never been a good climber. I’ve always been too big to be a climber. However, what I have slowly discovered since the Death Climb at Shenandoah is that being bigger and more powerful is not as much of a  disadvantage when you don’t have the option of a granny gear. As the race progressed, I was looking less behind me and more ahead of me, hoping to see one of the other women up the road.

Unfortunately, they never showed up. I crossed the line a few minutes short of 9 hours- 1 hour better than last year. Being the only woman entered in the women’s singlespeed category, I was eager to see how I stacked up against the other ladies.

I went back to the car, grabbed a towel, and sat in the creek for a few minutes. After cleaning up & changing, I went back to the finish area to wait for results. Eventually, the race director put the open women results up and announced that the 15 minute protest period had begun. I realized that my name was nowhere on the results board, so I protested. He told me that they’d give me an award for women’s singlespeed.

Based on time (which I still don’t have an official number for), I was 7th overall, and only minutes out of the top 5 placings. Awesome. Until this afternoon when I came home and saw the results that were posted on Cyclingnews… leaving me out completely. What. The. Fuck.

Apparently, since I was a single racer in the women’s singlespeed category, that means that I’m not worthy of getting an official result posted anywhere.

Pissed? Hell yeah, I’m pissed. Discouraged? Hell no. Not at all.
At my current fitness, I was half a flat change from breaking into top 5. Am I going to be facing off with Carey and Sorenson this season? Not likely. Facing off with any number of other women? I’m gunning for it.

I’ll singlespeed my way into your Cyclingnews whether you like it or not.

 

April 28, 2011

Climate Change: 100% Fiction.

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 8:21 am

…because it’s totally normal to have a monsoon season and a 100 year flood two years in a row.

Politics aside, I decided to take some photos of said flooding of the Wolf River this morning on my final easy ride before heading over to East Tennessee for the Cohutta 100. This year, instead of camping, I’m taking advantage of a pretty sweet package deal from Atlanta Outfitters that includes meals, showers, and two nights in a nice looking bunk for $50. Beats the heck out of a tent!

First stop on my ride was the Germantown Parkway trailhead, where I didn’t get too far before becoming distracted by a fat little snake that was enjoying the opportunity to sunbathe on the blacktop without being run over by morning trail traffic. Next, I ventured around to one of the levees that extends from the main road out to the river. There, I got some nice photos of how the water has taken over the trail. I also went for a short hike…

April 27, 2011

Lull

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 5:18 am

In the lead-up to Cohutta, nothing is happening. Well, other than repeated storms that seem to be trying to blow/flood various parts of the Mid-south off of the map. The tornado sirens have been going off so much in the past week that I’m afraid people are not going to take them seriously when it actually matters. Luckily, I was able to get out on the road bike yesterday between storms (with the exception of a 5 minute downpour) for my tune-up ride. Everything is good. Now, all I do is wait and not drink beer for a few days and I’ll be ready to race.

So, in lieu of anything interesting that has to do with riding a bike, here are some photos from early 2007 from when I was into some trail running…

April 25, 2011

F(*^ing Awesome Grill

Filed under: non-bike,Training — Andrea @ 6:59 pm

I like my outdoor cooking appliances like I like my men.

Oh, wait, nevermind… that doesn’t make sense.

Yes, my new grill is so awesome that it deserves its own blog post. We’ve been occasionally using a little Weber kettle and dealt with it up until recently when I was forced to cook food in “shifts” since the kettle was so small. Soon after, we went shopping for something larger and found the Master Forge Jet Light… aka, the “666 grill” because of its 666 square inch grilling area. Features include “Jet Light” (a propane-powered lighting system that eliminates the need for lighter fluid or a chimney), cast iron grates, upper warming rack, and “counter” space on both sides… pure awesomeness…

 

In training news, Saturday’s “Cycle for Safety” ride was a trip to the pain cave and back. Sunday, I went for an easy spin on the Jet, and my legs felt leaden. Today, the trip to the chiropractor was painful because of a handful of trigger points in my upper back and shoulders, and finally, when I got to work, the first thing I managed to do was clamp my right pinky into the mechanism of the workstand. It’s likely going to result in a permanent change to my fingerprint on that finger. I also ordered a Crest rim, some DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, and a MTB Powertap hub.

Looking forward to next Saturday… Cohutta. Singlespeed.

April 21, 2011

Wednesday 2-a-Day

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 5:33 am

Yesterday’s training was broken up into separate rides so that I could get my endurance mileage in and still attend the Tiger Lane training crit in the afternoon. I had high hopes of waking up this morning and writing a blog post about training criterium glory. However, the event was rained out, so I had to take comfort in racing cars along the route to the non-race venue.

Instead, here’s a story about helping old people.

It stormed like mad Tuesday night- trees and other debris were everywhere. Wednesday morning, I was JRA (like you do when you’re getting some endurance mileage) on my way to Arlington when I passed a driveway where the garbage can had tipped over and blown about 15 feet away from the curb. I actually passed a lot of garbage cans that looked like that, except on one end of this one, a little old blue-haired lady in pajamas with curlers in her hair was trying to drag it towards the curb.

I circled back and asked her if she needed some help. She looked startled and said something about the storm and that she almost had it. Upon further inspection, there were 4 water-soaked garbage bags and a few gallons of water inside the can. I dumped it out, righted the can, threw the bags in, and wheeled it to the curb while she stood there still looking sort of stunned. When I picked my bike back up, she thanked me a couple of times and told me that she was going to have to be nicer to her one grandkid that wanted to put extra holes in his head. Uh. You’re welcome, granny.

 

I fvcking love two-a-days.

 

April 19, 2011

Back to the Ozarks

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 6:15 am

I was long overdue for a Syllamo trip. I was actually planning on it for it for a few weeks, but since Ryan was at Mississippi Grand Prix, I knew there was a chance that I’d be going at it solo, and I didn’t want to tip off you stalker types that read my blog every day. Fortunately, Matt wanted to check out the Outdoors SIR9 demo bike on some real singletrack, and we headed over friday after work.

Saturday morning, we hit the trail going reverse race direction on the blue and orange. Doing that always makes the race direction seem easier since it forces you to start with a technical decent then climb relentlessly the entire way from the Highway 5 trailhead.

You know what sucks? They’re logging on the blue trail now. A good half mile of what was the first singletrack in that direction has been opened up to “logging equipment” size. Damnit.

In climbing away from the highway, I quickly realized that geared bike riding had made me a little soft, and that I wasn’t fully over the cold I’d caught earlier in the week. Matt was also looking a little tired, so when we arrived at the White River Bluff trailhead, I suggested that we finish our ride by going up Green Mountain Road and down to Gunner Pool, then back. Along the way back, I realized that I wouldn’t get my prescribed 4 hours for the day unless I took a detour, so I bombed down to Blanchard Springs and climbed back out to polish off the day with about 4600 feet of climbing. Hopefully that one will pay off at Cohutta in a couple of weeks.

Back at the cabin, we engaged in one of my favorite past times- drinking a beer & sitting on the porch to watch the sunset. Afterward, catfish.

Sunday, I wanted to ride the entire trail loop. We started off at the Scrappy Mountain trailhead, rode the “easy” section of the yellow to the red, around the red and “hard” part of the yellow, and back to the car. I got into a fight with the rocks somewhere along the way. Rocks 1, me 0. At the car, I dropped off Matt as well as my Camelbak, which was making my back hurt (I finished the ride with one bottle, making refill stops at the jugs we dropped at the trailheads on the way in.

Highlight of the ride: cleaning the entire green trail “overlook” rock garden from end to end without putting a foot down. Me 2, rocks 1. Low point- getting chased and bitten by a swarm of horseflies while negotiating the short climbs on the orange trail. Luckily, Matt met me at the Highway 5 trailhead with bugspray so I was able to suffer in peace for the remainder of the ride.

I felt like I was flying up the last climb- a nice feeling at 5+ hours into a ride. When I made it back to the trailhead, I realized that I’d finished the loop a lot faster than my race time from last year (granted, conditions last year sucked… but it’s still a good feeling). So, I didn’t get the 6 hours that I’d planned for, but in a good way.

Syllamo’s Revenge is probably going to be the hardest race I’ll go to this year. The additional miles are going to destroy me if I start to cramp like I did at Ouachita, but hopefully this weekend leaves me a little more prepared.

 

April 14, 2011

Road Dose

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:41 am

Yesterday was my first day back to long endurance riding on the road bike since back around March 20th. For whatever reason, any time I go for a while without riding like that for a while, it always hurts a little more than usual the first time back. As a bonus, the workout called for 10 minutes of Z4 interval at about 1.5 and 3.25 hours into the 4 hour ride. For as much as the first one was a fun break from Z2, the second one made my blood feel like hot lead circulating through my legs. It’s both humbling and inspiring when a workout exposes weakness.

After my ride, I relaxed at home a bit, ate 2nd breakfast, and went by work to pick up one of the demo bikes to meet a customer at the trail for a test ride. I hadn’t ridden the Jet9 in a month of Sundays, so I took it out for a break from the hardtail. I’d forgotten just how much damn fun that bike is!

Because of the double-up, I took it easy this morning. Ryan woke up early to lift, so I had some coffee and hit the road pre-dawn for an easy hour before the bike-hating car commuters were packed onto the roads. Sunrises are best viewed from on top of mountains, but a suburbia sunrise from the saddle is a close contender.

Here’s the part where I get to throw in some shameless plugs with a photo featuring both my Trail LED setup and the sweet Ellsworth wheels I won at the Ouachita Challenge:

« Older PostsNewer Posts »

Powered by WordPress