6 Hours of Herb

Seeing as I began this year’s endurance racing season with a 6 hour race (Spa City), I think it’s only fitting that I finish in the same manner. The timing of lap races is always important- this year, all laps had to begin by 6 hours and end by 6:30. I wanted 9 laps, and knew that if I could make 8 by 5:45, I could just squeeze the last one in before the cutoff.

Conditions for this year’s race couldn’t have been better- mild temps, and it rained Wednesday night, which provided just enough moisture to keep the dust down and make the turns fast. The race began with a Le Mans start. A lot of people hate them, but I’ve generally got them figured out. I landed exactly where I needed to be- just behind the hammerheads, and just in front of everyone else (including all of the other women). My first lap felt great, albeit, with the adrenaline of the start, was a little faster than I’d planned- just under 42 minutes. Kenny caught up to me along the way and stuck around until I told him I’d be running the narrow, wobbly bridge.

Side note- Yes, I’m perfectly capable of riding the bridge, and I have ridden it as many times as I’ve run it. However, I’ve got a thing about riding my bike and heights. The bridge is about 3 bike-lengths long, 8 feet off the ground, and supported in the middle by large timbers that stick out several feet on each side. It looks like broken ribs waiting to happen. If I ride it, it’s slow and stresses me out. If I dismount and run it cyclocross-style, it’s the same speed and doesn’t stress me out.

Somewhere around laps 2 & 3, my legs felt a little tired from the fast start. I pulled myself together and made a conscious effort to flow the trail to preserve energy. I started to feel better and gradually increased my pace back to “normal.” At the end of lap 4, I had to stop at the pit to swap camelbacks. Even though it was quick, the combination of my slow lap and a pause gave Pam and Lucia (women’s relay team) the chance to catch up to me.  I started lap 5 on Lucia’s wheel and managed to pass her early in the lap. I used them as motivation to stay on the gas for the remainder of the race.

When I rolled in at the end of lap 7, time on the clock was 5:05. I wasn’t going to make it back in time to start a 9th. Maybe that was a good thing, because as I started lap 8, I ran out of water in my camelback. I didn’t feel like carrying an empty pack around, so I winged it into the trees right next to the road. The lack of food and water on the last lap made me a little slower, but I held it together and made it around to finish my 8th lap at 5 hours and 48 minutes.

My finish was good enough for the overall women’s 1st place. Lap #1 was the fastest lap for the women, and, even though it wasn’t announced, I would have placed 2nd in the singlespeed division behind coworker Kenny, who’d successfully completed 9 laps in just under the 6:30 time limit. What a way to finish a season, right?

Crunk #1

It rained


(iphone screenshot courtesy of Matt Joiner)

So, like Cyclocrunks of past lore, the course was muddy and occasionally treacherous. Unlike past Cyclocrunks, I did NOT re-injure the hip adductor that I tore at Fool’s Gold more than 2 years ago. Looks like that whole “training and conditioning” stuff pays off…

As I mentioned before, the race now has USA Cycling sanctioning, so the crowd was bound to be thin. With the rain, it was whittled down to around 20 people. The course was normal cyclocrunk- dark with lots of oversized barriers. I saw another woman before the race, but I don’t know if she actually participated, because she looked really clean when I saw her as we were leaving.

Nevertheless, when the race started, I quickly wound myself up to a near-eyeball-bleeding pace (I held back a tiny bit since the main goal of the night was to NOT hurt myself). I passed a few people during the first 20 minutes. However, after that, my legs started to fail considerably. I slowed for a lap, then built the pace back up for the last couple of laps.

Overall, a success in how wonderfully un-eventful it was.

Hopefully, by the end of the series, I’ll be hanging at least near the tail end of the “fast guys.” However, the goal is still to build for Worlds in January…

(off) The Road to Cyclocross Worlds

With the exception of one last 6hr endurance race this weekend at Herb Parson’s Lake, the theme of the next few months of training is cyclocross. Since they’re in Louisville, KY this season, Ryan and I are competing in the Cyclocross Master’s Worlds race. In a big contradiction to the views I’ve expressed in the past about age-grouped competition, I will be trying to dominate all women between the ages of 30 and 39.

Tomorrow night is the first of three Cyclocrunk training races. In the past, it’s been an insane mix of riders- young, old, fast, slow, etc. Everyone paid their $7 to enter, and the entry fees were put towards a bar tab that was opened after the 3rd race of the series. Each race had 50-70 people entered last year.  This year, as a USA Cycling-sanctioned race, the one-day license requirement, along with the price increase ($15 per race) will likely change the tone of the event. The best way to train for cross is to race cross, so I’ll be there regardless of the presence or absence of a party atmosphere.

I was previously conflicted about cross racing the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd- there are races in both Nashville and Little Rock. Little Rock is closer, but, as a newer “scene,” the races will likely be less attended and possibly less organized than the more established ones in Nashville. However, last night I saw the flyers for the Arkansas races (available on the Arkansas Cyclocross website). They’re paying the cat 1/2/3 women equally to the men for the top 3 spots. The payout for the Nashville races is arbitrarily lower for the women than for the men. I’m not in it for the money (if I win, the money might cover my hotel stay), but I support the cause of equality every time and will any time there’s a schedule conflict.

In the big picture, I’m hoping that racing cross this winter will bring me in to next season with more top-end than I had last year, and, as a result, have an even more successful endurance season. That’s the plan, at least. I’m still on the hunt for sponsors, and I’ve found that it was easier to get “here’s a discount on our product” sponsors when you’re just getting started than when you seem like you might be fast enough to warrant a little gear thrown down for free. Still waiting, still hustling.

Another Sunday

…another long ride. This time, Kenny (co-worker extraordinaire) joined me for 5 hours of (kinda) easy riding. I picked a route that hit most of the gravel roads in northeast Shelby and west Fayette counties. Kenny rode his singlespeed MTB (34×11?12?) with road tires. The roads and the weather were stunning…

In other shop-related goings-on, watch out for those random “JRA” wheel taco-ing:

Also, Indy and Marley are best buddies:

Hamilton Creek

Yes, again, I’ve been slow to post. Stuff’s been busy, though. My shop is covered up in both winter clothes that need to be stocked and bikes that need to be repaired, and  I’ve been riding a bunch (as usual).

Last Sunday, after a night of couch surfing, I found out that my new Nashville friends thought I was a “lesbian biker chick.” After clearing that one up, I went with Dan to go ride a lap at Hamilton Creek. Apparently, whoever thought we’d get along well figured out that we’re both similar brands of crazy.

I like carbon fiber, though, and he’s a carbon hater.

Hamilton Creek is the business. We rode part of the “easy” loop, then headed under the interstate to the “advanced” loop. It reminded me of Syllamo sooooo much- lots of rocks… awesome, wonderful rocks. We got most of the way around before Dan informed me that if you can get 5 or fewer dabs in your first lap of Hamilton Creek that you’re automatically a badass. I’d had 3 at the time, and, according to him, there was only one more difficult spot… which, of course, since he’d told me that, I dabbed, along with the following slightly difficult section. Luckily, I remained within the 5 dab limit of badass-ness. I also fell even further in love with my RDO.

P.S.- When we left to go to the trail, Dan mentioned that the truck needed gas. On the way home from the trail, we were on I-40 when, in the middle of his telling of a story of how his current shop manager swore he’d fist-fight the previous shop employee for the job, the truck began to sputter. We laughed about it and rode the wrong way up an on-ramp to a gas station.

Thus, photo #2 from the “weekend preview” post.

After a little pizza, I packed up and headed back west to Memphis. It’s been a minute since I’ve had such a great time at a race weekend- gorgeous scenery, badass trails, and lots of friendly people.


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.


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…


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.