CX Tire Swap

I’m currently in search of UCI-legal (33mm wide or less) CX tires that will set up tubeless on either my Dura Ace or Stan’s Alpha 240 wheels. I currently use Hutchinson Bulldogs, but they’re too wide to take to Master’s Worlds in January. I’ve tried both the Ritchey Speedmax and the Kenda Kommando- neither of which would hold air.

So, instead of going through the expensive process of purchasing and trying tires that may or may not work, I was hoping that some of you, my new/loyal readers, would have some tires you’d be willing to trade for a set of new Speedmax or very lightly used Kenda Small Block 8 tires. I have a bunch of other random tires around the garage as well- I’ll just have to dig around and make a list.

What I’m looking for is anything 33mm wide or smaller that doesn’t appear on the “never works” section of THIS article from CX Magazine. Lightly used is fine (lightly being the operative word here). I’ll pay to ship tires to you, you pay to ship tires to me, and we both save on getting to try out new cross tires without the expense of actually purchasing new cross tires.

If you’re interested, email me- andrea @ brickhouseracing.com or comment below.

Reservoir Cross

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, an unexpected batch of rain passed through the Little Rock area. The course, which Heather had told me would be fast and technical, turned a little slower, slippery, and technical. Unlike the previous night’s course, it was a vast expanse across a large city park area, and was much more of a traditional CX course (though it was definitely more technical than any other CX course I’ve ever ridden).

Once again, the women raced on the same course as the CX4 and masters 40+ men. The start went straight up a large hill, and each group of racers started after the previous had cleared the top of it. This meant that the CX4 men got about a minute lead on the start of the women with the masters somewhere in the middle. Once again, there were only 3 of us:

 

I took off up the hill from the start and none of the other women matched me. So, I again took to chasing down men, and had caught a couple by the time I made it through the first section of tape and onto the pavement.

The course was an absolute blast! The constant mud/turns/elevation change made the time race time fly by, and, in the next 30 minutes, I managed to catch all of the men, and lead the last two or three laps from the front.

Back at the car after my race, I found out that my friend (aka “little brother”) Jonathan’s bike had been stolen out of his car the night before. So, I offered to let him use my new bike for the A race.

After a fast start, he would go on to be sitting a solid 4th. I was taking photos of Ryan and the other racers, and I happened to be at a spot where the course passed around/over a small rock ledge. As he rounded the corner, I yelled, “DO THE ROCK DROP!” I heard him upshift, and the rest was photo history…

 

Ryan ended up 3rd in the A race. During & after, I took a bunch of action/artsy photos. Here are a few of my favorites, but you can see the rest on Ryan’s blog:

While I was milling around waiting for photo opportunities, someone asked me, “what’s your secret to being so fast?” Lots of hard work, son. I’m not fast yet.

 

 

 

Little Rock Cyclocross

As I mentioned previously, there were races in both Nashville and Little Rock over the weekend. Even though the cross scene is more established in Nashville (i.e. tendency for a better course, better organization, and more competition over a “budding” scene), the women’s top 3 payout was arbitrarily lower than the men’s top 3 at the Nashville races, so we went to Little Rock. Saturday around lunchtime, Ryan and I headed west to Little Rock for the Kanis Park night race.

When we arrived, it was clear that the park was a little sketchy. We registered, and I suited up to pre-ride the course before it got totally dark (something I learned from Cyclocrunk over the last two years). The course itself was sketchy- ditches, random holes, buckled pavement, sandy, pine-needle covered turns… all breeds of sketch! Definitely my type of course.

I soon learned that Heather Ladd would be competing. She and I have toed the line together many times- last year, she kicked my tail at the Outdoors, Inc. race, then this year, I eeked out wins over her at the Spa City 6hr and Ouachita Challenge races. So, I knew it’d be a horserace. Lucky for me, she was competing in the Halloween costume contest and was dressed like an M&M…

 

BTW- she wasn’t the only one. Other entries included a gorilla, a bumblebee, and (the winner) KISS…

 

When the race started, I took it somewhat easy over the buckled asphalt and into the first turn. After that, it was all turn and burn. I didn’t see the other women again until I was lapping them, and took to catching as many of the men as possible (they’d let the cat 4 men go about a minute ahead of us). I don’t know how many I caught, but apparently, it was most of them.

 

Afterward, Ryan raced the men’s race. After a bad start, he pushed his way up to 4th place. We both felt like our Cyclocrunk experience helped with the course, which, even though it was short and filled with hazards, was a lot of fun.  We decided to skip the post-race after party, and in lieu of hanging out at a bar and listening to live music, went to ElChicos and split large margarita before crashing at the hotel.

 

Cyclocrunk #2

Once again, no women showed for Cyclocrunk. Also, once again, the wild and varied crowd that once was the Cyclocrunk “peloton” did not show, either. However, unlike past Cyclocrunks, Gerry Pflug was there. He was in town for his “real job,” and he contacted me via Facebook about going for a ride Wednesday afternoon. I figured a nighttime, sketchy-ass cross race would be perfect.

Side note: Gerry Pflug is sincerely nice. Though, after hanging out with him for an evening, you get a feeling that he is fully aware of his level of ability to kill/destroy.

Once again, the race was somewhat un-eventful for me. I passed some guys. A few of them tried to pass me back, but were unsuccessful. I felt slightly better than the previous Crunk, though I’m not sure if it’s fitness, better pacing, or a combination of both. I’m hoping that this weekend I’ll find some better competition in Little Rock.

Speaking of Little Rock, I’ll be on a new bike. The replacement for my slightly too small BH Carbon Cross is a slightly too big Scott Addict CX. I wanted it a little on the larger side because of the taller headtube. Photos will be posted once it’s finished (it came with Ultegra, and I’m waiting on some SRAM Red parts to arrive for a little upgrade). Current weight sits at 16.8 pounds.

And, for totally random badass-ness, check out Zoe, who kills small animals with her bare hands: PowSlayer

Enjoy.

Never a Dull Moment

Even on recovery days, life in a house full of bikes and guys is interesting.

As I’ve mentioned before, I usually make dinner. Even though I’m vegetarian, I’ll usually make special requests:

 

Matt and Ryan always do the dishes:

 

They also decorate with their own personal works of art:

 

Ryan keeps the yard clear of sticks:

 

Sometimes, we just re-arrange the bikes for fun:

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.