Yeah, yeah, there’s not much going on that I haven’t already talked about…
Wednesday’s leg wake-up intervals were promising. The travel weather to Dahlonega isn’t quite as worth looking forward to. I wanted to leave mid-day and camp near Chattanooga, but it looks like rain, and the last thing I feel like doing is starting my trip off with a bunch of wet camping gear in my car. So, I’ll probably just leave (in the rain) this afternoon, drive (in the rain) to Chattanooga, then get a (dry) motel room. That way, I can finish the last 3 hours of the trip on Friday and have time to settle in and pre ride some of the course with Todd “Antique Gun Show” Henne.
Here’s the “2011 Preview” article from XXC Mag (complete with a link in the article to my write-up from last year): http://xxcmag.com/?p=590
In non-bike news, the Dragon tattoo is getting somewhat close to completion. Joe is working mostly on the tail of it now, which, unfortunately, hurts like HELL since it’s smack in between my hip bone and rib cage. I think we’re up to about 17 hours worth of tattoo time now. He also laid down a layer of skin-tone ink on my calf tribal. I still don’t really know what I want to cover it with other than something that’s not too detailed and mostly black & gray.
With the 2011 edition of Southern Cross less than a week away, I put the finishing touches on a hard training block with the Saturday Morning Worlds and 5 hours of solo endurance pedaling on Sunday. Looking back at my first few endurance rides, it’s pretty cool to see the improvement in average power since October.
The remainder of the week involves a leg opening day, some traveling, and a little course pre-ride. I’ve taken Friday off of work, but was considering leaving early on Thursday to get a jump on the 7+ hour drive. I think that co-workers DFMatt and Kenny have things under control, so I trust that they can hold down the fort if I get out of town.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve thoroughly e-stalked the women’s registration list. Carey Lowery is still missing, but there’s plenty of horsepower nonetheless. I’m feeling good, so it should be pretty epic.
Sure, intervals on the trainer and out solo on the road have their place, but not much compares to the pain inflicted upon you by a good, testosterone-fueled group ride. The current “place to be” on Saturday mornings is the Trinity Ride (named thusly because it meets in a shopping center called Trinity Commons, which is on Trinity Rd.
Normally the pace picks up once you’re out of the city limits, but today, the group was feeling frisky and half-wheeling each other from the first hill. I made it a point to never drop out of the front third or so of the group, which meant snaking whatever gap I could find when the opportunity presented itself. For the first couple of hours, it was a mix of fast pace rotating pacelines and occasional attacks/chases. Unfortunately, as much as I love attacking and chasing, my fitness isn’t quite up to participation level yet, so I generally rode a few wheels back with the chasers.I eventually found myself in a pattern of hammering near the front, imploding, then recovering barely in time/enough to catch the tail of the pack and work my way back up to the front.
Two hours in, the group stops at a store in Galloway. Seeing that my legs were on fire, and I find a 20 minute break in a 3 hour ride to be somewhat ridiculous, I spun up the road a ways, refilled my water from a church water hose, then rode leisurely along the route to Arlington, where I waited to fall in with the group as they slowed to roll through the small downtown area. The remainder of the ride was more of the same, but with less organization, and more people falling apart as they started to tire. Happily, my training is paying off in that I may not feel as fast as the boys, but I feel as though I don’t get tired nearly as easily.
Now, time to eat and lay around more of the day in my compression tights. Tomorrow’s 5 hours solo is supposed to be a windy one…
The forecast for the next 7 days- sunny w/highs near 70- seems like a dream after the cold/damp/snowy misery that’s been hanging around lately. With that, I can resume my short pre-work rides that I’ve been neglecting out of avoidance of frostbitten body parts.
This morning, I took the geared A9C out for a spin around the Tour de Wolf trail near my house. I’d forgotten just how freaking amazing that bike is- I fall in love again every time I ride, and I’m itching to race it! I’d also forgotten how beautiful it is to cruise singletrack faster than traffic can move on Walnut Grove Road (a major artery for traffic in/out of the suburbs). It’s a mix of happy and content that makes me feel very, very lucky…
Friday morning before work, I was awake at 4 something and in the trainer room for the circuit/interval hell workouts that I have started to love. Ryan went to the gym to lift, and made it back in time to take a photo…
Saturday, I had the go ahead from Coach to attend the Saturday Morning Worlds. The pace was perfectly fast. I got dropped from the lead group of 5 or 6 guys and worked my tail off with the main group just behind. After the store stop, things settled down quite a bit… I think mainly because Ryan was tired from the previous day’s lifting. Once we were home, I spent the remainder of the day chilling in my new compression tights.
(sorry… no photos…)
Today’s workout was the same as last Sunday’s- 5 hours of endurance-paced riding. It was windy, mild, and sunny- just a little touch of spring (though there were still some patches of snow along the road from our most recent “blizzard”). It was an excellent Crank Therapy day… I loaded a new playlist into my shuffle and headed out to sort through my head.
Thought of the day, courtesy of Albert Einstein: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I realized that in repeatedly trying to explain this concept to a friend during his recent relationship struggles that I, myself, was repeating a failing cycle of doing the same thing and expecting different results. Insane, I tell you!
After I figured that out, I relaxed and enjoyed the scenery…
You know you’ve got a “good” bike route when there is a coozy on the gas pump.
I’m not gonna lie- I hate winter and everything associated with it. People ask me why I don’t want to live in Colorado or someplace cool like that. It’s because I have no desire to deal with cold, ice, and snow on a regular basis. When I tell people this, I usually get an “It’s OK, you just dress right and you’re comfortable!”
Let me tell you why this statement is not true for me.
For as long as I can remember back into my childhood, I’ve always hated the feeling of layers of clothes. I even had a whole process of straightening out my socks and toes in order for them to not feel “weird” inside my shoes. I didn’t wear anything but elastic-waistband pants until I was in 5th grade. As an adult, I can’t sleep if the sheets on the bed get too messed up under the comforter, and the feeling of having enough clothing on to restrict my movement even the slightest amount makes me want to throw things and punch holes in walls. So, NO, I’m not going to be “comfortable,” even if I do dress properly for cold weather.
With that being said, last night’s snow ride was UFCKING AWESOME!
Matt Robbins (who, in order to distinguish him from Matt McCulley, will hereafter be referred to as “Dickface” Matt because of an incident involving alcohol and a black marker), Kenny, and myself gathered at my house around dusk to have (the required by coach) beer and prepare to brave the cold and snow. I think the beer made me care much less about having to wear a metric crap-ton of clothing, so I’ll admit, I was comfortable. It was one of the few chances I’ve had this winter to use my Trail LED light. I gave it a go with the handlebar mount this time since we weren’t going to ride singletrack. That sucker is even brighter when it’s shining on snow!
We started out by heading to the Shelby Farms dog park. It was quite the experience to “find” the washed/rutted out spots leading through the park to the gravel road that goes to Patriot Lake. From there, we crossed Walnut Grove and hooked up with the new Wolf River greenline bridge and make our way down the Germantown Greenline back towards Germantown Parkway. Along the way on the Gtown side, we were warned by a robocop sounding motion detector that we were going to be photographed for riding on the greenline after dark. We waved.
Once we were back to Germantown Parkway, we crossed the Wolf River again (taunting cars along the way), and stopped at the liquor store, where Kenny bought a bottle of Makers Mark. Once we were back on the road headed home, Kenny had a spectacular sliding wreck in the middle of Walnut Bend and was closely followed by Matt, who had been riding directly behind him. We eventually made it back to the house, where we found the next door neighbor out in the street doing donuts on his moped. I shot a little video, but I still haven’t figured out how to compress & upload it.
Back at the house, libations continued in front of the fireplace. I’m not sure if there’s any better way to finish off such a great evening of sliding around in the snow…
We usually don’t get much snow around here, but this winter has been quite the exception. As a result, my training plan has undergone constant revision. Here’s the latest for today:
“Snow ride for fun! Put on snow pants, big coat, hiking boots (platforms and old bike not new cool plastic bike)Go ride around the park in the grass and work on skills sliding around down hills and through the trees. This is a fun recovery ride in Z1-2 and works best with beer;-)”
Since I’m not allowed to ride a plastic bike, I had to break out the Surly Crosscheck. Just to be awesome, I put some flat handlebars on it, and the largest tires that would fit:
Of course most snowbound individuals like a pugsly or other fatter-tired bike, but since this is Memphis, my bikes have to be multitaskers. I don’t own snow pants, but I’m sure I can find something that will work. We’re planning a post work night ride in the snow. The beer and flat pedals part is probably a good idea since I might die otherwise.
Since I’ve had to learn to sleep on my back in order to keep my arms from falling asleep (see the TOS post if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I’ve been trying to figure out how to not wake up with a backache. The bed at the cabin has a sweet memory foam pad on top, and it’s always been comfortable, so I convinced Ryan to splurge on one. After a couple of hours of reading online information and reviews, I settled on this one: Sensus 3-inch, 5lb Mattress Topper
Oh, wow. It’s like an instant coma.
I still can’t sleep on my side, but I can sleep on my back now without my back hurting, so not only am I sleeping better, it’s helping to alleviate the daytime arm numbness I was periodically feeling when I was riding, working, driving, etc. Hopefully it will help heal everything back to normal.
The only downside is that it’s really, really hard to convince myself to get out of bed in the morning.
…highly recommended to anyone that loves sleep. Don’t waste time with the cheapie ones- go for density. This was one of the few I found in the 4-5lb range that actually weighed in at the correct weight for its stated density (in other words, customers who wrote reviews measured and weighed their pads in order to confirm that the foam was as dense as advertised. A lot of them don’t stack up). Lower density is overly soft and wears out faster. This one is definitely soft, but in a very supportive way (if that makes sense).
Yesterday, I rode for 5 hours. As soon as I was home and showered, I felt magnetized to the bed and ended up laying around watching the Superbowl pre-game BS until Ryan made it home from the Marx-Bensdorf team camp in Nashville. We went to El Mezcal, and I had some freaking awesome huevos rancheros before coming back home and vegging out while sort of watching the big game. I was in a training coma about halfway through the 4th quarter. Oops.
I was debating as to whether or not to post this because (to paraphrase my parents), sponsors and employers don’t want anything to do with someone who has “issues.” I’m taking a leap of faith here in assuming that those people understand that everyone has issues, and the act of posting about mine allows my growing blog audience to understand that the fight to try and be competitive at the highest levels of my sport is, well, sometimes a fight.
The past few months have been mentally tough. I was experiencing a random, spastic carousel of mental states and attempting to level them out with copious amounts of beer. The one thing keeping me “sane” was getting the job in the Outdoors bike shop. I absolutely love, with every fiber of my being, being a bike mechanic. I spend most of my Sundays daydreaming about going to work on Monday. Also, having really great coworkers is icing on a really badass cake.
The past few months were a repeating cycle of workdays followed by a somewhat uncontrollable desire to ingest alcohol. As of late, though, I’ve felt much better- more of a fun and gently undulating roller coaster of emotion (kinda like the old Zippin Pippin- the highlight of a trip to Liberty Land, the now closed amusement park lovingly dubbed “Six Flags over Orange Mound” by Memphis residents). I’ve traded triple corkscrews and loops for small highs and lows… I can deal with that. Heck, that feels pretty damn normal by my standards!
It took a minute to figure out why, but I’m reasonably sure that it’s the addition of higher training intensity into my pre-season program. Something about the perpetual tear down/recover cycle takes a bit of the edge off and makes a drinking binge seem much less desirable than when I was on a diet of endurance pace riding (not that I didn’t need that training- I sucked at it when I started, and have made some pretty nice improvements). I’m hypothesizing that it has something to do with brain chemistry.
So I’m currently feeling more “Andrea” than ever. Now that my fitness is really coming back, I am itching to get the race season started. I look forward to hard training days, and I relish in the tired/sore feeling that follows them… that’s the feeling that “fast” makes when it’s growing in your muscles.