Photodump Sunday

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.

Cohutta 100 Race Report

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…


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.


Climate Change: 100% Fiction.

…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…


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…

F(*^ing Awesome Grill

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.

Wednesday 2-a-Day

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.


Back to the Ozarks

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.


Road Dose

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:

Squeal Out

Anyone who has ridden with me knows that I’m a full-fledged victim of Avid brake warble/howl/squeal/whateveryouwannacallit. Looking for solutions, I found this thread on MTBR, which led me to believe that the noise that Avid brakes make is somewhat akin to leg cramps in that there are a lot of theories with some anecdotal evidence, but no proven, specific reasons behind why it happens.

Also found in that thread is this stuff: Squeal Out

I figured I’d give it a shot and sent the guy a private message asking for the free sample he was offering. Not long after, I got an envelope in the mail containing a Ziploc bag of gritty paste and (somewhat mis-spell/comma-ed)  instructions for application:

Against the advice of the instructions, I applied it to both brakes at the same time on my geared A9C. After that, Ryan and I went to Stanky Creek for an easy ride. Not a peep out of my brakes. Sweet! I’ll try it on the older, noisier Elixir CR brakes this morning on the SS and report back in a few weeks on the results and the long term effectiveness.

Rest Weekend Day 2

Someone commented on my last post to ask if I was ok… yes, I’m fine, I’m just taking the weekend easy to finish recovering from the first few early season races, the volume of training put in to getting ready for those, and the lab test I completed friday morning. I’ll be back at it soon enough with 4 hours on Wednesday and 8-10 at Syllamo next weekend.

This morning, I’m relaxing with some coffee and Paris Roubaix. All I have to say is JOOOOOOOOHAAAAAAAAN!!!!

Your photos for the day are some related to Ouachita- the pre-ride on Brushy and a couple of post-race back at home shots…