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…

Recovery Time

Post-season race recovery is generally a boring time for blogging. My rides have generally been short to non-existent. Though, yesterday, I did endeavor to participate in the Trinity (weekend world championships) Ride. I quickly realized, though, that my legs felt surprisingly good. Good to the point that they’d give me just enough to stay with the group and destroy myself all over again. So, I decided to preserve the recovery week and pulled off before the pace went from “fast” to “eye-ball bleeding.”

The most interesting thing about recovery week? Probably eating. Ryan and I went to Sea Bistro for lunch. It’s a new sushi place that moved in across the street from Outdoors, and it fvcking ROCKS. I’m currently addicted to the crispy fried tofu.

Today, we’re going to go for a long-ish, relaxed-paced MTB ride, lay around a little, then grill some stuff. I’ll probably be ready to fall out by 9:30. Recovery week also involves lots of that. Sleep is awesome. Recovery sleep is like being buried in concrete for 8 hours a night.

Aaaaand, that’s basically it. Work is busy. All of the 2011 bikes are on sale. Lots of people are wanting to ride again now that it’s not 100+ outside (I miss summer already).

Next stop? Cyclocross.

SM100- After the race

Any MTB race that includes large numbers of competitors camping (and drinking) is always a party. When I last left off, I’d finished the race 8th, stayed in the NUE top 5, and was generally very happy- all while toting around a bondage barbie voodoo doll strapped to my fork.

Once I was clean, dry, and feeling a little less crampy, I went up to the pavilion to try and eat a little dinner. While I was there, I saw Dicky, who, if you remember from my last post, I was thinking had given me the gift of a blindfolded/bound doll on my bike in the middle of the previous night. I asked him about it. He said he had no idea what I was talking about. Of course, my initial reaction was to not think anything of it. He was just effing with me, right?

I mean, who else would do that?

I picked at my food for about half an hour. I felt like my neck was too tired to hold my head up, so I decided I’d go lay down in the tent for a little while to pass the time before podiums. Since the kegs were tapped and the food was hot, most people were either still racing or eating/drinking at the pavilion (read- not 100 yards away in my camping area). I laid down, and suddenly, the thought of someone other than Dicky designing and placing a bondage barbie on my bike was no longer funny.  I got up, grabbed my folding chair, and hiked back up to sit where there was people.

Fast forward a couple of hours. After having some technical difficulties and getting into a bad batch of brownies at the 5th aid station, Nate finally finished his race. We were chatting, podiums had started, and I ended up getting a bottle of champagne to spray at the crowd as a reward for being the only woman to complete all of my series races on a singlespeed. I brought up with Nate that I now was creeped out that someone other than Dickey had dolled my bike. Nate laughed and admitted to doing it. I poured the remainder of the bottle of champagne onto him.

I wasn’t up for much longer after that. Apparently, I missed one of the locals doing drunken, naked hot laps around the pavilion. Instead, I was back tossing and turning in my tent. I never sleep well after a 100, and laying in a tent only amplified the full-body soreness. Around 2am, the rain started. My tent leaked. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much.

In the morning, Nate and I had planned to meet up with some Harrisburg locals to go for a ride. However, the rain from the approaching tropical depression killed that one. I decided I’d hit the road and head South to see how far I could get before I needed to stop and get a hotel room. Since the depression essentially stretched from one end of Tennessee to the other, I ended up driving across the entire weather system. Apparently, when it’s raining, interstate driving basics like “slower traffic keep right” and “don’t run into shit” no longer apply to traffic flow.

On the west side of Nashville, the sun was peeking through the clouds, and I made the decision to push all the way home. I was rewarded for my efforts with an excellent sunset.

So… what’s next? Probably a little time off. Then, cyclocross. My fitness is better than it was this time last year, so I won’t be embarrassed to show up at the regional stuff. Ryan even has a room reserved in Louisville for Master’s Worlds in January. After that? Well, lets say that I’ve sent my hopes and dreams off via email to a dream team, and my fate now lies with someone else. I thought about it on the way home and wished that there was some sort of magical, all-knowing superpower in the sky that I could run my dreams and aspirations by before sending them to the person who actually has his hands on the keyboard to write back and let me know if I’m destined for the rockstar life or another year of hustling to get to whatever races I can.

Damn my logic.

Shenandoah 100 Race Report

As is customary for long pre-race drives, I broke the 11 hour trip to Stokesville, VA in half to keep myself more physically and mentally prepped to race. Friday afternoon, I drove to Harriman, TN, then Saturday morning I slept in until almost 7 before starting the remaining push east and north. There must have been some sort of football thing going on in Knoxville over the weekend, because along the way, I got to meet one of the UT mascots when I stopped for breakfast near Sevierville.

(he refused to give me an autograph, though he did have a lovely singing voice)

Once I finished the drive, I set up camp and took off to pre-ride the first climb course. My legs felt fabulous.

Unlike last year, when I overslept until 6am (race start is at 6:30), this year, I was awake Sunday morning before my alarm went off. I was prepping everything in the dark, when Nate, who was camped next to me, “found” something sitting on the saddle of my bike, which had been propped up next to the car all night. It was a plastic doll who quickly because known as “Bondage Barbie,” which, because of this blog post by Dickey, made me think that he was the culprit. I decided to zip tie her to my fork, and all day, whenever people asked about it, I blamed him.

There’s more to the story, but I’ll leave that for another post since this one is already novella-length.

When I lined up at the start, I optimistically went for the 9-10 hour corral, but when I looked at the guys lined up there, realized that some people were probably much more optimistic than I was. So, in order to give myself a little more “singlespeed fall-back room” on the way to the first climb, I inched up to the back end of the 8 hour group.

The beginning of the race went much like last year- lots of geared riders going very fast, leaving all of the 32×20 SSers in a clump within the first paved mile. The first doubletrack climb went great. I felt like it was much easier than the previous year, and I was not in nearly as much granny gear traffic. I only had to make 1 smartass comment on one of the rollers at the beginning of the climb- I got a little squirrely on some gravel and grabbed a brake. A guy behind me told his teammate, who had been on my wheel to “stay out from behind the people who are grabbing their brakes on all of the descents.” I gave his teammate some more advice: “be sure you guys stay off the granny gear on the climbs.”

I digress.

The first singletrack at the top of the climb is an exercise in patience. It’s got a few rocky/steep/tech spots which are all generally ride-able by someone accustomed to rocky/steep/technical. However, if one person in the conga line walks, so does everyone else. So, until we were clear of that, there was a lot of hiking, which included a lot of yelling by the guys who felt as though their 200th place finish spot was in danger since they were unable to ride because of all of the people walking. Eventually, I made it down to Aid 1, refilled my bottles, and headed off down the road to climb #2.

If you aren’t familiar with the SM100 course, the best thing I can compare it to is Leadville – elevation + singletrack. You have big climbs that are all separated by miles of flat to gently rolling road. It’s absolute Hell for singlespeeders. It was on the flat sections between the first, second, and third climbs that I was constantly being picked off by women on geared bikes (including Laureen Coffelt, who would be looking to beat the snot out of me in order to take my spot in the overall NUE standings). I honestly think that this was the first race of this season where I could have placed higher by riding gears.

The second climb is a bitch. I’d love to go and try it alone because the steepness of its singletack put nearly all of the people around me on their feet. So, I hiked up the mountain with 100 or so of my new best friends for what seemed like an eternity (or half an hour) before speeding back down the other side, where I found Aid 2 and eventually climb #3- Hankey Mountain.

The profile of this climb happens to be right in my comfort zone for the 32×20. I hauled at least 3 women (including Laureen) in on the way to the top and never saw them again. The descent from Hankey starts out pretty sketch- to the point of where they’ve stationed medics on the first few pitches. I made it down that part and railed the remainder. I figured that since I was losing time between climbs that I’d be a tick less cautious than usual on the descents. It mostly worked out well.

Before climb #4 (Ramsey’s draft), there’s 5 miles of road. I was spinning my ass off, and was passed by many a geared rider (luckily, none of them were women).  Being the 2nd of 2 singletrack climbs, I was a little worried about being stuck in another conga line of hikers. However, this time, I started up the climb with a couple of other singlespeeders who seemed to be similar to me in gearing and ability. The geared racers we did encounter were nice enough to move if we needed to pass. It was on the back side of that climb that I had my only wreck of the day. I was hauling ass when I hit a sketchy spot where some people had already slipped off the trail bench. My front wheel momentarily caught  something and my bike started to endo. Somehow, I managed to push myself back far enough that I went behind the bike as that happened. I’m not 100% certain of the order of these events, but some where along the line, my right foot was solidly planted on the ground, the rear wheel punched me in the gut, and the forward momentum of ass-hauling yanked me to the ground onto my left elbow, which sort of hyper-extended my back. I dusted myself off, realized I wasn’t hurt too badly, and continued on.

Climb #5 is the “Death Climb.” It’s mostly gravel road (a little doubletrack jeep trail stuff at the top), and, according to the Garmin, goes from around 1600ft of elevation to about 4240ft at the top. I started to feel hot & tired about halfway up. At aid #5 (just before the remaining hardest section to the top), though, I was slightly revitalized when I realized that I’d caught another one of my competitors who had passed me earlier. Unfortunately, soon after, I started to get quad cramps whenever I’d try to hammer up something steep. I decided to try walking the steepest parts in order to delay the full-on cramps that would start if I kept up at my current pace. Lucky for me, this worked, she never caught up to me, and I was on my way back down the gnarliest of the descents and headed to the final short climb up the first part of Hankey Mountain.

Once again, no one passed me on the road. I was sad to not be able to hammer up the last climb. Mentally, I was ready to, but my quads were writhing under my skin like a dying snake. I death marched up to the top and eventually found myself dropping down into the backside of the Stokesville Campground and rounding the final corners to the finish in a time of 10 hours 40 something minutes- just barely 10 minutes faster than last year, but good enough for 8th place out of 36 female finishers (an improvement over my 11th from last year).

While this result in and of itself was not particularly awe-inspiring, it meant that I accomplished my season-long goal of finishing in the top 5 of the fiercely competitive NUE series. All races on one gear. Epic win in my book.

There’s only one direction I could possibly go from here…

Down to the wire

I know you’re all anxiously awaiting to hear about the whereabouts of my singlespeed, which, as of  Tuesday, is at Niner headquarters getting the mysterious blemish in the layup near the headtube inspected. I heard back from tech guy Brad yesterday, and they’re replacing it under warranty. So, today, I’m pulling my replacement out of the Outdoors, Inc. stock and getting my race rig set up for Shenandoah this weekend.

I’m taking this “tear down/buildup” opportunity to swap cranks. I’ll be going back to my converted truvativ NOIR crank. I’ve been running the e*thirteen singlespeed crank- sweet because of the 30mm spindle, light weight, and relatively low cost. Not sweet because I’ve killed two bottom bracket bearings on it this race season. I think that in order to make bearings that are 30mm I.D. that also fit a standard threaded BB shell, the bearings just end up being too skinny to be durable. It also tried to loosen itself twice over Fool’s Gold weekend. My final word on it- if you don’t ride in poor conditions, go for it. If you were born in a brier patch, then stick to something a bit more reliable. I have the blackbox ceramic bottom bracket on my NOIR, and it’s survived the worst conditions you could possibly throw at a bottom bracket- specifically DSG 2009 (race photos and aftermath) and Fool’s Gold 2010.

I’ll also be going from the Rotor Q-ring back to a standard round 32t. Why? Well, first off, the chainstay clearance thing bugs me (I can’t run the EBB in any position in the rear half of the EBB or else the larger part of the Q-ring contacts my chainstay). Also, I am suspicious that the rotor ring may be causing me to lose a little traction on slippery climbs since it works like a larger chainring on the more powerful “downstroke” of pedaling. Sure, I love how I can more comfortably spin a higher cadence with it, but let’s face it- at races, I spend much more time on climbs than I do trying to spin a higher cadence. I could be totally wrong, though, so I plan on giving it another shot this winter at Syllamo where the stakes aren’t quite as high.

Other, less notable changes?

I finally rebuilt the front wheel I tacoed at Eureka springs, so I’m going to set my marginally heavier SS wheelset up to race this weekend since the RDO is wearing the race wheels I built up with aerolite spokes.

I got a set of new brake pads, too.

It was a little slow going, but my legs are recovered & re-tapered from Fool’s Gold, and I had an amazing “tune-up” ride yesterday. This weekend should be exciting- I’m sitting 4th in the points standings right now, but if Potter and Barclay both show up and beat me (unfortunately, it’s not improbable), I’ll drop to 6th. It’d still be an amazing finish to the year, though, considering how badass the NUE series competitors are. Do I keep playing it safe and go for my strong, steady ride the entire 100 miles? Or do I ride outside myself and see what happens?

Jet9 RDO.M.G.

Finally finished the build and took it for a ride- Holy wow… I knew it was going to be a great bike, but DAMN.

Last night, I could barely sleep thinking about taking it out in the morning. I woke up early and packed the car to go out for a lap at Stanky Creek. I figured I’d try the fork at 120mm and see how it felt. The start was a little tentative, but soon I was going full bore over roots and into the twisty stuff- a couple of times to the point of where I got going pretty damn fast before I realized that I was a couple of MPH over my comfort zone. I know it sounds Niner ad cliche, but holy crap does this bike climb! I didn’t use the propedal setting at all, and didn’t notice pedal bob- even when standing and “singlespeeding” it up a couple of hills.

Going this fast will take a little getting used to…

RDO- Almost…

After going to bed thinking that I’d stripped the threads of my rear triangle, I was relieved when I found this morning that I was mistaken. Since my dad always told me that I could mess up a crowbar, I’ve decided that this bike’s name is “Crowbar.” Along the same lines, the reason why I’ve built this and have not ridden it yet is because somehow, I don’t have the correct front derailleur. I’m not 100% sure I ordered the wrong one- I’m suspicious that my bottom pull was somehow mixed in to a customer’s purchase last month.

Either way, it’s going to be a few days before it’s ride-able…

Jet9 RDO size Small
SRAM X0 shifters/derailleurs/crank/cassette
Hope Race X2 brakes
Arundel side-exit carbon cage
Thomson stem/post
Chris King Headset
Niner Carbon bar
Hope Seatpost Clamp
Nokon Cable housing
KMC 10 spd SL gold chain
Selle Italia Lady SLR saddle(customized through RecoveredSaddle.com)
Notubes Crest Rims/DT Prolock brass nipples/Hope Pro II Evo hubs
Fox Talus fork

Frustration

…otherwise known as “andrea has first world problems

Fool’s Gold has left me with two lingering things- The first one is a possible crack in my frame. I was in the process of tearing my bike down to wash the abrasive/destructive Georgia mountain dirt out of it, when I found this:

It looks as if the top layer of carbon under the paint/clearcoat is trying to escape, and the headbadge is separating from that side (the bond is excellent the rest of the way around). My best guess is that the headtube lug is having issues under there. Needless to say, Niner sent me a UPS label right after I called them, and the frame is on its was to Ft. Collins, CO for evaluation. Any other time of the year, this wouldn’t really be an issue. However, I’ll be leaving for the Shenandoah 100 in a week (final race of the NUE season), and I don’t plan on running gears. Fuck.

The prospect of tearing the geared bike down to run singlespeed is looming over my head. Because of the internal cable routing, it’s not a simple “derailleur removal & go” process. It’s more of a “run cable guides through my frame and hope they stay in place while I’m racing so it doesn’t take 2 hours to re-cable it once I’m done” type process. I don’t really have the time or motivation for any of it.

The other lingering malady from racing 100 miles is just being tired. I’m exhausted.  I could be better, except that I’m on my feet fixing bikes and being a housewife from 5:30am until I sit down for dinner at around 8:30pm. I’ve studied exercise physiology enough to know that the fact that I have such a job and responsibilities is making me slower.

So, yes. I’m lucky to be able to complain about this stuff, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating to me.

 

P.S. I said this in the comments, but it’s worth adding here- Ryan puts in his fair share of work/support/etc. I couldn’t even begin to try racing/training like I do if it weren’t for him.

Fool’s Gold Race Report- Part 2

As the neutral roll-out ended, I could see that Cheryl Sorensen and Brenda Simril were the only women ahead of me. Somewhere between the first short, steep hill and the couple of miles of downhill rollers that led to the Cooper’s Gap climb, I lost them in the crowd. According to a report from the Antique Gun Show, Cheryl stayed with the lead group and  Brenda was dropped but continued to drop the hammer with some other geared riders.

I spun steadily all the way to the base of Cooper’s Gap- 10 miles of straight-uphill awesome. The 34-21 felt easy- a good feeling to have on the first time up the first big climb of a hundie. Right on cue, I drank the last swallow out of my two bottles about a minute before I reached the first aid station. Spoiler alert- food and drink for this race were on point. I’ve figured out that if I don’t feel so full that I’m almost nauseous, that I’m not eating/drinking enough. Lucky for me, the O’Deas stocked the aid stations with Gatorade and Powerbar drink mix rather than the usual Hammer HEED.

Dear Hammer- yes, the calorie-free sweetener in HEED (Xylitol) comes from plants, which, indeed, does make it “all natural.” That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sugar alcohol, and therefore acts like a post-race roto-rooter to some people’s intestines.

Anyway…

Soon after the climb and slightly sketchy descent, I came to the first section of singletrack. I remembered from past Fool’s Gold races that it was pretty flowy, and found that the combination of improved skill and heroic amounts of trail work allowed me to fly through the trail like a giant pump track. I found myself grinning and giggling repeatedly. It seemed like I was at the next aid station in no time. After a quick refill, I started the long climb up Bull Mountain.

Two years ago, I thought I was going to die on Bull Mountain. Last year, torrential downpours kept speeds to a minimum (seeing as no one had brake pads at that point). This year, the aforementioned trail work made the descents (slightly) less sketchy. I had several butt-pucker moments, but made it around the Bull Mountain loop with all ribs intact. The remainder of the lap seemed easy. Unlike the previous years’ course, trailwork & good weather made the added single track fun instead of something to dread.

As the 2nd lap started, I was a little tired, but otherwise in good shape. As I headed up the Cooper’s Gap climb again, it was tough in a couple of spots. I passed a few people either walking or parked in their granny gear with their head down, taking comfort in the fact that once I was at the top, the most difficult climb of the race was over.

Then, it rained.

Rain at Fool’s Gold is more than a minor inconvenience. The composition of the soil on course makes something like liquid sandpaper, meaning it has the potential to destroy everything it rubs against. Luckily, I made it through the longest descents before the mud fouled my brake pads. Now, I’m just faced with tearing my bike down to the frame & fork seals to clean the glitter out. The rain didn’t slow me down much, though I did figure out rather quickly that metallic brake pads suck ass when they’re wet.

The last 1/4 of the course seemed to drag on forever (as they tend to do). I walked a couple of steep spots that I’d ridden on the first lap, but otherwise kept my wits about me, even though I was generally exhausted. One thing I’ve noticed in the 2nd half of races is that I rarely get passed… somewhat encouraging.

Once I made it off of the race loop, I knew I was going to make it back alive. Three more miles of pavement, and I was headed up the last hill to the finish. Another NUE podium spot in the books.

 

 

I’m in a weird spot right now- kind of like when I was in my last season of serious road racing. I’m fast compared to the usual local competition, but I don’t stand a chance with the pros, and I can’t decide if it’s motivating or discouraging. If I want to get a top 5 overall points finish in the NUE series, I’m going to have to race outside myself at Shenandoah in 2 weeks… the type of “all in” effort where I’ll either beat someone or nearly die trying.

P.S.- the “in my head” song for this race: