Brakes, Rings, and a future addition to the stable…

Just after Mohican, I ordered a shiny new Rotor Q-Ring for my singlespeed. Disclosure- like SRAM, Rotor is definitely NOT a sponsor. They gave me the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” business when I made a request last year. This was an EP (employee purchase) privilege from my place of employment (Outdoors, Inc.) who actually does sponsor me. Like I’ve said in the past- shop there, thank a sales associate for the company’s support of me. Your appreciation will be heard more than once, I promise.

I digress…
The Q-Ring sat around for a while because I was having brake issues with the R1s on the singlespeed. I still have a love/hate relationship with these brakes. The feel wonderful, but they’re terribly finicky. My rear one had a piston that would not retract all the way. It made noise during the entire race in Ohio, and I spent a good bit of time troubleshooting it when I had the chance back home. It ended up being something sticky in the master cylinder that was causing the issue. Three bleeds, some drilling, and lots of cursing later, I have a cotter pin as a pad bolt, and my brake is back to working fabulously.

With that fixed, I was finally motivated to install the Q-Ring. It’s a 34 tooth, but the diameter changes throughout the pedalstroke in order to minimize the time you spend in the “dead spot” of your stroke. No, it’s not like Biopace. Shimano Biopace was the opposite, and quite a bit more extreme. Also, no, it doesn’t require the use of a chain tensioner. There’s a definite “tight spot” in the chain, but I’ve seen normal round rings with more slack/tight than the Q-Ring.

 

I hooked it up with an 18t and rode it yesterday morning for the first time. Since I roll out to the trails on the road, the first thing I noticed is that it smooths out your “almost spun out” pedal stroke. If you’ve ridden SS on less than desirable SS courses, you know that you can spend a lot of time at that cadence. Other than a bit of added smoothness, I couldn’t tell a huge difference as far as heart rate or ease of climbing. Granted, it was an easy, flat ride. The real test will be racing this weekend with a little climbing & tech stuff to get through. Updates to follow.

In other news worth mentioning, Niner has released the Jet9 RDO (race-day optimized) carbon fiber full suspension hotness. I’m getting one. So, the Jet is officially back up for sale, though this time, it’s got Avid brakes with fancy gold hoses, as well as my nice, light set of Crest/Hope race wheels. I haven’t figured out a price yet, but it’ll be a “get it out of my garage” sort of thing for sure. I might even throw in some new 9-speed drivetrain parts to sweeten the deal. That’ll be its own post, though.

Now you know…

This weekend, while Ryan was racing the Smith and Nephew Omnium in town, I took to the road for some solo training time. Honestly, after hearing Saturday race reports from my former M&B teammates, I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be NOT road racing. I am, however, happy to be heading to Nashville next weekend for the 50 Miles of Hamilton Creek. Being a smaller, local race, I’m more just rolling it into my normal training schedule in lieu of the usual interval/endurance rides.

This weekend, though I didn’t race, was actually quite the learning experience. Well, Saturday was just a reminder…  I went out for 2×20 intervals. At the beginning of the 1st one, I was feeling amazing, and had to keep reminding myself to back off so I could maintain the same pace for the entire 20 minutes. As most good 20 minute intervals go, the pace went from feeling easy(ish) to being pretty damn hard for the last few minutes. Ok, maybe a little too hard.

I spun for 10 minutes before my 2nd interval, hit the lap button on the Garmin, and ramped the wattage back up. Err… at least for a minute or two. Within the first five minutes, I realized I’d torched my legs, and ended up with a 20 minute average power that was less “zone 4” and more “exuberant zone 3.” Oops. Guess I need a little more practice on that one…

Sunday’s ride was equally as eye-opening. I’ve started using my geared MTB for my steady endurance rides, so I headed out for 3.5 hours of steady riding on the road. I realized over the course of that 3.5 hours that I’m horribly inefficient when it comes to riding my MTB in that manner. My pedal stroke is not very smooth, and my power output is surprisingly lower. I’m guessing this is a big part of why I’ve been experiencing cramps and unusually high levels of fatigue when racing geared.

And yes, peanut gallery- the fit of this bike is nearly identical to my road bike. I’ve taken many measurements and done lots of tweaking in order to duplicate it.

While my training experiences over the weekend have left me tired and sore, it’s always encouraging to discover specific weaknesses like I did in the last two days. I learned this from Saturday morning GI Joe cartoons…

Back to Business

The week off after Mohican was a fun one. I bathed my soul in alcohol and didn’t ride much- which is essentially a great time… until it’s not. Monday night, we polished off the week of not giving a f*** by hanging out with coworkers at Flying Saucer, where I wing-womaned for Kenny (successfully, I might add), and Ryan broke his iPhone

(more on that in a second)

The next morning, it was back to being serious. Intervals. Thousands of them. Ok, maybe just 3 really hard ones. I felt like breaking the cranks off of my bike, which is a great thing on your first day back to training, because it indicates that you rested as hard as possible. Wednesday, I decided that since I have a fancy powertap wheel and the rigid fork on my geared A9C, that I was going to start doing some of my long, steady rides on it rather than the road bike. I figure at some point, I’ll be racing it long distances, so I might as well train on it more often as well.

Oh yeah- remember the broken iPhone? We fixed it last night. I say “we” because Ryan ordered a screen, took the old one off, and installed the new one.

 

All the while, I was sitting at my computer providing life-coaching services to Matt via Facebook. Apparently, everything came apart OK, but when it came time to  re-install the 500 thousand teeny electronics screws, Ryan started to get really frustrated. Like any respectable man, he throws things when he’s frustrated, so when I heard the sound of something hitting the wall from the other end of the house, I figured it was time to step in and offer up my dexterity and patience…

It eventually all came together, and, sometime around midnight, we got to sleep.

Looking ahead? Well, the Smith and Nephew Gran Prix Omnium is this weekend, and it includes the State Championship crit. I was initially planning on poaching the crit, but then realized that I didn’t feel like ditching a week of training focused on my endurance endeavors just so I could gun for another white TN Champ jersey to add to my overflowing  collection (smirk). So, instead, it’ll be more intervals and more long rides on the MTB…

 

 

Night Train to Memphis

Today was my first day back to (something like) training following the build up to Mohican. It’s been a nice, chill week. I rode a couple of times, but I’ve generally kicked back and relaxed from the serious saddle time that I’ve been putting in lately. This week, it’s intervals on Tuesday & a long (ish) ride on Wednesday. Woooooohooooo!!!

Sorry, the week off has left me antsy.

I had some company on today’s ride. Last week I gave Matt the training ride assignment to ride all day and find Arkansas. I’ve always wanted to know what’s over there, so I figured it’d be good to have a scouting mission first. So, today, we made our way across the bridge to the gravel between the river and West Memphis. At one point, we found some gumbo that clogged up Matt’s urethra tires, and we decided to turn around and go back. The Memphis skyline looks pretty boss from the farmland in Arkansas…

PS- you’ve gotta actually look at the gallery photos to understand the title of the post.

 

First…

Sponsorship check.

If you enjoy reading this blog, you’ll shop at Outdoors. While you’re there, let a salesperson know that you shop there because you like that they support my racing habit. It’s a small, local company, so it really means something when they hear things like that, and it eventually gets back to powers that be that since they help me out, the store sees more customers.

Eternally grateful…

 

Oops…

If you’ve left a commented in the past couple of weeks and you’re wondering where it went, that’d be my fault. This morning, I was using my phone to look at a spam post that made it past the filter. Instead of deleting just that, I deleted a full page of comments.

That’ll teach me to moderate my blog before I have coffee in the morning…

I figured the side-cheek photo would have had more comments, anyway.

 

Mohican leftovers

I only had one “bad” wreck while on the Mohican course. It was very early in the race, and was the result of a left turn/rear wheel slide that happened so fast that I rode it all the way to the ground. The bruise on my butt is starting to turn all sorts of nice colors…

Singlespeed vs. Gears- a rant

There’s something I’ve been hearing a lot since Cohutta: “We need to get you on some gears so you can be up there with the big girls” or, “Wouldn’t you be faster if you had a geared bike?” or any number of other things along those lines. The advice is generally well-meaning, I know, but let me clue you in on a couple of things…

1) I own a geared bike. It’s f*cking awesome, and I love it.
2) It’s not my lack of 19 other gear options that’s slowing me down. It’s called “being slow” (relatively speaking, of course) that’s slowing me down. In fact, in some instances (such as the long forest road climbs @ Cohutta), being on a singlespeed made me climb faster than if I’d had a granny gear option.

So, that being said, my geared bike is staying at home until I’m damn well ready to use it. Get over it and enjoy the show.

 

Mohican 100 Race Report

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

With Amanda Carey and other NUE podium “regulars” off at the Trans-Sylvania Epic, the battle for the podium was set to be fierce for the rest of us chasing NUE points. OK, well, Cheryl Sorensen was there… and she’s generally the only one that challenges Amanda (exception- I heard Sue Haywood gave her a pretty hard run for her money at SM100 last year). I knew short of Cheryl having a major mechanical or wreck that I’d likely be battling it out with BrendaLee Simril and Laureen Coffelt for the remainder of the podium spots.

Saturday morning, I was up before the alarm on my phone went off. After a delicious breakfast of powdered eggs and french toast from the local American Legion, I went back to camp, suited up, and rode the mile or so down the local bike path to downtown Loudonville for the race start.

The race start was fast as usual. The first half mile or so is downhill before the course shoots up a ~100-150ft climb up a road out of town. In typical singlespeed fashion, I fell back at first and passed half the pack back on the first hill (I finally settled on using a 36×21, which turned out to be a slightly overzealous choice). It also meant that I passed Laureen and caught up to Brenda. I could tell that Brenda meant business when we hit the next hill, and I heard her upshift as other riders were downshifting. It was on.

Well, at least for the next mile or so.

I entered the first singletrack a few wheels back from BrendaLee. Then I ejected a bottle and had to stop for about a minute and never saw her again. Err…

The first singletrack was otherwise great. This year, with the combination of improved speed and course conditions, I wasn’t stuck behind a bunch of people walking their bikes in the difficult pitches of singletrack. I also didn’t break all sorts of parts of my bike, which is never a bad thing. I did, however, have one rear-wheel slide-out wreck (landing me an awesome goose-egg on my left ass-cheek) and also realized that I was overgeared.

Side note(s): In case you were wondering, one of the worst feelings of impending doom is realizing at mile 15 out of 100 that you’re overgeared. Also, I still stand by the statement I made last year that the hike-a-bike (in Breckenridge) known as French Gulch was the most physically difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life (doing it three times reinforced this) compared to any other hike-a-bike.

Sometime before Aid 3, I had somewhat of a  Double Rainbow moment when I crested a hill to see an amazing view of rolling farmland lit by the mid-morning sun. I realized just how fvcking lucky I was to be out there riding my bike. I mean, really… from the moment of conception, things have generally just gone right in one way or another. It’s the type of stuff you think of when you’re 40 miles into a bike race, and it’s exhilarating.

Sometime after Aid 3, I realized that the Cytomax in all of my bottles was mixed too strong. It’s the type of stuff you think of when you’re 50 miles into a bike race, and it’s nauseating. Luckily, just past the”nearly gagged when I passed an eviscerated raccoon” part of the trail, there was a water-only aid station where I topped off both bottles with plain, cold, water. Eventually after, my gut was able to function again, and I started to recover from over an hour of what felt like a near puke/bonk. I can’t say it didn’t slow me down, though. Luckily, the trail leading to the next aid included a long railroad grade that allowed me to recover a bit and get some calories down. Once I reached Aid 4, I dumped half of my cytomax bottles out and diluted them. It eventually led to me feeling (somewhat) normal.

Unfortunately, during that time, Brenda probably put a healthy chunk of her lead on me. Fortunately, Laureen didn’t catch me. After walking up part of the “gravel wall” just after Aid 5, I realized that I was inside of 20 miles from getting my first podium finish at an NUE race. It gave me the wings I needed to finish the remainder of miles despite the exhaustion and threats of cramps coming from my quads. Boom. Done. Nothing beats being on the top of the podium (literally, of course, and figuratively). However, at a race as big as anything NUE, where most entries are there to kick ass, it’s freaking amazing to get to any of the steps, even if it was behind Cheryl and Brenda. Thus… the theme song for Saturday evening, courtesy of Lady Gaga…

 

Addendum…

You may remember I recently gave you the Summertime Guide to Bike Shop Etiquette. I need to add something to this:

7. On tubulars… if you want to use tubular wheels, we would be more than happy to glue the tires for you. If, on Thursday, you bring in tubular wheels that currently have tires on them and want them stripped, re-glued,  and ready to race this weekend, we’ll do that, too, but just so you know, we’re really fvcking busy right now, and you’re guaranteeing that a mechanic stays late/comes in early to get your tires glued and other service completed. Also, we hate you. No, not really, we actually care a lot about you, which is why we hate doing a skill-sensitive thing like gluing your tires when we’re really damn busy and you’re wanting it done yesterday.

Beer tips highly recommended.