brickhouseracing

May 14, 2012

Tiger Lane #4

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:28 am

I almost forgot… Last Wednesday, I raced the final installment of the Tiger Lane Criterium races. Once again, I lined up as the solo woman with the Cat4 men. As previously mentioned, my recovery from Slobberknocker/Cohutta was questionable, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel for the crit.

From the gun, the pace was very slightly more subdued than the previous race. My strategy was to stick near the first few wheels and only attack if it seemed like a good idea. I did just that until about 15 minutes in. A small group of riders had drifted off the front, and I’d decided it wasn’t my place to chase them down. As the teams chased them back, the planets of the counter-attack galaxy aligned: we sped up behind the caught riders just as we reached the long-side stretch of headwind. Almost instinctively and involuntarily, I slingshotted out of the draft and attacked full force into the wind. I had a gap and one other rider with me- Jon, a young Memphis Velo guy.

It was early in the race, and neither of us had a teammate in the field. I knew that we were doomed to be caught, but I was at least going to put on a show before it happened. I like racing aggressively. While it’s not always successful against a bunch of guys, I figured it’s good practice seeing as it’s been a good strategy for me during women’s races in the past.

We were out for a couple of laps before the announcer called a prime. The field was bearing down on us, and I told Jon to sit up and get ready to be caught. He took that a little too literally and nearly stopped while I tried to back off just enough that it’d be easy to absorb smoothly into the group. As a result, as they caught him, I was rounding the final turn before the start/finish, staring down the barrel of an obtainable prime. I sprinted for it. Keegen Knapp, a rider from Arkansas, jumped out of the group after me and took the prime by half a bike length (he later claimed that he thought I was on the attack again since the group had sat up). It’s ok… I didn’t really need a pair of men’s designer shorts from Oak Hall.

I re-absorbed successfully and maintained my safe spot in the front of the group. Eventually, the last few laps were called. Some BPC guys attacked and got away. Once again, I decided it wasn’t mine to chase. Unfortunately, I was surrounded by other BPC guys, and the guys who should chase were slow to react. I sat in and watched the scramble until, on the last lap, when we turned into the wide headwind section where I’d previously attacked. The guys were trying to imitate a pinball machine, and I decided I wasn’t in the mood to mix myself into the melee of cat 4 men. I pulled safely out of the group. Once the main field was clear, I solo-ed in ahead of the guys who had been previously dropped.

Training crit success.

The following day, I attempted a long ride. My legs argued with me, and I had to turn home early. I started getting worried that I was in an insurmountable hole of fatigue. I’ve eaten well and recovered well since then, but Coach and I are suspicious that I might have problems getting enough iron into my blood. Whether it’s diet-related or physiology related is yet to be decided, but, for now, I seem to be feeling well by eating iron-rich foods. Whatever it is, I’ve felt a lot better the past couple of days, and I had a great interval session yesterday. If things keep going like this, I’ll be ready to break cranks at Syllamo on Saturday.

May 13, 2012

More around the shop…

Filed under: Around the shop — Andrea @ 6:43 am

Yesterday, most people who came through the store were Mother’s Day shopping. As a result, the most common question was not, “what bike should I get?” but more “do you think my wife will like this shirt?” No, I think your wife would like it if you expressed your love and gratitude for her on a random day of the year OTHER than one created by greeting card companies.

I did have a customer come in for a new wheel. She’d tacoed her old one, so I set her up with something a little more stout. Inside her tire, I discovered what had to have been the world’s largest Stan’s Ball.

 

Later, I worked on Ryan’s Speed Concept time trial bike. It was engineered by someone who hates mechanics. Maybe “hate” is not a strong enough word… more like “vendetta”… as if a mechanic had killed his/her family and dog, so he/she went to engineering school, learned about bikes, and created this particular frame as a method of revenge.
I switched his brake levers out from a set of SRAM levers to a special set of Bontrager ones. They essentially were forced to create a barrel-adjuster style brake lever in order to overcome the shortcomings of the brakes themselves. The only way to adjust the pad width without the special levers is to remove a fairing and swap out the spacer washers from behind the brake shoes. After I removed the base bar to route the front cable and spent an hour or so arguing with the rear brake, the final step of the process is to replace the cable cover on the top of the base bar. The only problem is, the cables themselves are in the way of attaching the cover, so I had to devise a way to hold them down while I installed the cover bolts:

 

Speaking of shop… there’s a new shop kit. It’s… colorful.

At least I’ve got something a little more subdued for when I don’t want to look like a quilt:

 

May 11, 2012

Terriers

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 9:54 am

Terriers are awesome. At 12 years of age, Indy still pursues the elusive mole… sometimes in the confines of the empty compost bin

May 9, 2012

Women’s Bikes

Filed under: Around the shop — Andrea @ 6:30 am

Watch this:

No, really. Watch it. Especially about halfway through when they start talking about the need for a “women’s specific” geometry on bikes.

Since I’ve started looking into various bike fits and helping people find proper bike fits, I’ve had an inkling that the women’s specific bike is a marketing gimmick… especially in the case of Scott, who just makes the women’s bike a different color with no other appreciable changes to the frame.

Other manufacturers make their women’s frames somewhat differently- usually shortening the reach and increasing the stack. This is similar to the type of geometry that they’ll use for their more “comfort” oriented frames (examples- Scott CR1, Cannondale Synapse). Last I checked, about 90% of my road bike customers were men… and last I checked, the more “comfort” oriented geometry was what was appropriate for 90% of the men who walk through the shop door.

So, what about a guy who wants a full-on race bike, but can barely touch his hands to his knees. Do we do this?

I’d love to suggest, “hey, Cannondale’s ladies geometry will give you a shorter reach and taller headtube,” or “you know, you’d be more comfortable on a Synapse,” but, if I did that, it would be a direct attack on his manhood and his desire to ride a full-on race bike, and he’d go to another shop.

My point? Like the ladies in the video told you… find a frame that fits you.Make final fit adjustments with bar, stem, and seat. Whether you’re male or female, be realistic. Be open-minded enough to realize that the traditional race geometry may not be what you’re most comfortable riding. Be open-minded enough to realize that if you’re female, the women’s bike may NOT be what’s most comfortable for you.

My next road frame will likely be a Cannondale Women’s Supersix…

But wait… I thought you said that women’s frames were bunk?

Well, The geometry almost exactly matches my NON-WOMEN’S BH Connect… which I’m very cozy on.

May 8, 2012

Boredom and Vanity

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 4:45 pm

Today has been a wonderful day off filled with not much more than yoga (Janet’s class was especially killer today) and an easy bike ride. After that, I’ve generally wandered around the house doing dishes, laundry, readying my road bike for the final Tiger Lane Criterium, and whitening my teeth…
(I caved to vanity after watching this video from Cycingdirt.org)
Andrea Wilson- Sick Rigid Singlespeed

In other media-related news, if you missed the link to the latest XXCmag podcast, check it here: XXCmag Podcasts I’ve now managed to weasel my way in to episodes 4,8, and 16. Pattern? I hope so.

 

 

May 7, 2012

In Limbo

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 8:20 am

So, if you listen to the latest XXC Mag Podcast, you’ll hear me talk about a lot of things having to do with both racing and the trafficking of cocaine via Amish horse & buggies. You’d also hear me talk about being intimidated by the workout I had on my schedule for Saturday- a 5 hour endurance ride that included an 8 minute ramp of intensity at the end of hours 1-4.

I thought that I was mostly recovered from the back to back race weekends. Turns out, I was wrong. My power numbers were well off of where they’d normally be for such a workout. By the last hour, my heart rate was staying elevated, no matter how much I backed off. After a brief respite under a tree (it was the first kinda hot/humid day of the year, too, so that wasn’t helping), it settled down, and I wrapped up the last interval and made my way home. For a second, I thought about heading home early. Then, I decided that the difference between pro and amateur was the last interval that seems nearly impossible.

Now, I’m staring down the barrel of Syllamo’s 125k and hoping that I can maintain some fitness while I recover from deep-rooted fatigue. It’s sort of a wait-and-see affair. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are recovery days, and I’ll try the legs out again on Wednesday in the last of the Tiger Lane criterium series. If I feel good, then I know that I’ve found the light at the end of the training tunnel. If not…

May 4, 2012

High Maintenence

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 6:17 am

Tuesday (my weekday off from work), I spent half the day taking care of myself. Not so much as in an, “oh, I raced hard, so now I’m going to pamper myself” sort of way, but more of an, “I need to do this stuff to function normally again” sort of way.
-First, the chiropractor. I’d originally started seeing a chiro when I had a neck crick problem. Now I go because he not only keeps my neck/back feeling good, but he also works out some of the knots in the muscles of my neck/shoulders. My chiropractor isn’t the type that thinks that chiropractic adjustments are the solution for World Peace or a cure for any diseases. He even laments to me on a regular basis that half of his clients don’t need him, they just need a diet and exercise. He does, however, agree that the weekly adjustments he makes are useful in keeping my rides pain-free.
-Next, massage. When you spend hours on a bike, stuff hurts. When stuff hurts, your muscles get tense. Then, you start using the muscle differently… either compensating with another muscle or not going through a full range of motion, you get little knots in the muscles, etc. A massage is huge in relieving that and helping you get back to normal function. It’s also very relaxing.
-Finally, physical therapy. On Tuesday, I graduated from PT for my fingers. The only one that’s still of much concern is the badly sprained middle one on my right hand. It’s still swollen, and it stiffens up when I don’t stretch it several times a day. PT consisted of heat, ultrasound, passive stretching, active stretching, and 15 minutes in the dry whirlpool (aka, the “corn machine”). He had originally planned to include strengthening exercises, but I tested out of those- even with a fracture/sprains, my grip strength measurements were above normal. Imagine that…
-After all of that, I ate some lunch and joined up for a chill ladies only ride.

It was a lot like overhauling a bike after dragging it thorough really nasty conditions.

Taking care of myself has been an ongoing process. When I began this endeavor, I didn’t realize how time consuming the act of maintaining one’s body could actually be… and I’m not even that good at it. Talking to the pros after races (when I’m still in kit and they’re cleaned and changed), I realized that even with as much as I do, I could still tune up my out-of-town diet, get a juicer (thanks to Jeremiah for that suggestion), address my tendency to eat/drink a horrible diet in the days following races (which sometimes spills over into a tendency to eat/drink a horrible diet following large training rides), spend more quality time with the foam roller on a daily basis, get more sleep, and do a better job of getting in recovery rides.

Like I said, cramming self-care into my schedule is an ongoing process of making time rather than finding it.

 

 

May 2, 2012

Around the Shop

Filed under: Around the shop — Andrea @ 6:03 am

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted a few of the random things we get to see in the shop.

First off- warranty stuff. It happens. Parts (including frames), for whatever reason, don’t work, for no apparent reason. We call the manufacturer, they’ll send us a new part, and either want the old one back or, in the case of some large items, ask for only part of it back… like a bottom bracket from a frame:

 

Sometimes, people like Dave Cornthwaite come into the shop with weird projects like a broke-down bike car. Repairs done to this included (but were not limited to) re-cabling and adjusting the driver-side derailleur and converting the passenger side to singlespeed (its derailleur was exploded into a pretzel, and the mounting setup was very custom, so we couldn’t replace it. Instead, we hooked up a SS tensioner).

Subsequently, on day 1 of the Bike Car’s journey towards Miami, a vehicle hit both the follow van and the bike car, knocking it off the road. Everyone was OK, but judging by the video, the bike car needed some repairs outside the scope of the bike shop. We haven’t heard back from Dave.

Finally, here are some cute armadillo babies I saw while going on a “ladies only” ride on my day off…

 

April 30, 2012

Cohutta 100 Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Product Reviews — Andrea @ 6:54 am

Friday morning, I packed up and hit the road around 7:30 for the 6.5ish hour drive to Ducktown, TN. Along the way, Zandr (from XXCMag) joined in, and we had a brief Element Convoy down I-24.

We arrived mid-afternoon, checked in, and pre-rode the first climb and a little bit of the first singletrack. I attempted to show Zandr the “Thunder Rock Express” trail, but I’m not too familiar with the trail system, so we just ended up climbing out & back on FSR45. Back in the parking lot, I saw Thom Parsons from Cyclingdirt, and he asked me a few questions about my bike (Per your requests, I refrained from using a suspension fork).

I felt just OK during the pre-ride. Definitely not bad by any stretch, but not 100% crank-ripping/ready to kill, either. I don’t think I’d fully recovered from the previous weekend’s Slobberknocker race. Nothing I could do but relax, get some dinner, and try to get a good night’s sleep.

Brief side story- The “office” for the motel in Ducktown was the gas station in the motel parking lot.

Race morning was (thankfully) not as chilly as it was last year. I was doing final packing of my jersey pockets when I realized that I’d left my giant flask full of Roctane gel back at the motel. All I had in my car was an extra Powerbar, so, trying not to panic (it was about 20min ’til start time), I started asking everyone I knew if they had extra gel. Eventually, I found Gerry Pflug, who didn’t want to share his own stash of baby wolverine blood. However, Ernesto Marenchin, who was there with him, had a couple of extra flasks of partially diluted Hammer Gel. Perfect.

I rolled back to the starting area where Thom P. found me again and asked if I’d wear a Cyclingdirt helmet cam. I figured “anything for publicity,” and accepted his offer. He turned it on immediately in order to get some starting line footage, so I lined up and asked people random questions and handed out random tidbits of advice (like “Don’t isht yourself” to Amanda Carey).
This year, the start line was moved back into the parking lot about 1/4 of a mile. Unfortunately, that meant that the race no longer started at the base of a sizable road climb, so, when the gun went off, there was about 1 minute of big-ring time before the hill. I spun as fast as I could as what seemed like most of the field went by in their 39×11. As we started up the hill, I worked my way back through some of the crowd with a pack of other singlespeeders.

Somewhere along the way, we decided that a group of singlespeeders would be known as a “party” (you know… like a “gaggle” of geese or a “herd” of cats).

Over the crest of the hill and somewhere before the turn into the trail, Brenda and Lee Simril flew past me and made it in about 10 wheels ahead of me. Dually noted. The first section of singletrack was pretty uneventful (unlike last year, when I flatted). I settled in to a group that had a nice pace going until we hit the first hill, and they started shifting. I made my way around them and kept grinding my way through the remaining singletrack.

Once I was out on the gravel, it was business time. I started swapping places with a woman in a Specialized jersey (I’d pass on the climbs, she’d pass downhill). Then, her teammate, who I’d been doing the same thing with on the trail, blew past me, and she jumped on his wheel. I caught up to them, and she said something along the lines of “you’re killing it on these hills!” I replied back that I had a disadvantage on the downhills, and that she should enjoy it while it lasts. She obliged, and took off towards the next hill with her teammate.

Suddenly, from the bottom of the next hill, I looked up, and, in the low-hanging, early morning light, saw the silhouettes of  Brenda and Lee Simril at the top. I stood and cranked… it was on.

As I hammered up, I caught Specialized lady, and we split and passed Brenda. I don’t know if she saw me or if she was focused on the other woman passing on her left. The other woman and her teammate took off once again, and I knew that, at about 20 miles in, with Brenda behind and the other woman riding so aggressively in front, that the race was getting awesome.

Then, I hit Aid #2, the course turned briefly flat, and I was alone for a long time.

Mostly, anyway. I began the singlespeed shuffle with some other geared riders (some of which stayed around me until the infamous climb back up “potatopatch” several hours later). I was dying to get into my climbing rhythm again, and eventually, the forest road turned back up, and I was back in business. I caught back up to a lot of people, and hit aid #3 in what seemed like no time at all. Between there and the nasty descent down Potatopatch to Aid#4 was where I caught up to the Specialized gal on one of the steeper sections of road.

The descent down Potatopatch to Aid#4 was the only place where I feel like the rigid fork was a bad idea.

Brief Product Review Interlude: What was worse, though, was my brakes. I thought I was severely wearing through my brake pads. However, post race inspection revealed that there was plenty of pad left, but that the pads seem to not advance well, making the lever pull feel frighteningly long. SRAM XX Brakes = FAIL.

Aid #4 was located in a large switchback intersection of the road. It was leaving there that I saw Brenda rolling in towards the aid station behind me. I knew I was losing time to her on the descents (and probably holding/gaining on the climbs), so I decided that I’d ride the next loop of course (a little climbing followed by a singletrack descent on the Pinhoti trail) with my descending turned up to 11. In the flat-ish section after the Pinhoti, I kept waiting for her to catch me, but luckily, I made it through Aid#5 and back to the safety of a climb before she appeared.

The climb up Potatopatch was slightly wicked. The worst part was the horseflies. You can’t swat horseflies when you’re climbing singlespeed. That climb broke a lot of people. It was hard on the singlespeed, but the way I saw it, if you’re on your lowest gear behind me, every pedal stroke of mine is a nail in your coffin. After that, I knew that the hardest part was over, slammed some gel, and resolved myself to keep it at 11 the whole way back.

The remainder of the course was verymuch like the first part. Lots of gravel and hills, then a little singletrack.

I eventually caught up to Specialized Lady’s teammate, who exclaimed, “You just like to catch guys to make them feel like shit, don’t you?” I hate that attitude, so the nicest reply I could muster was “No, man, I’m just racing my bike. I don’t give a fuck what gender you are.”
Thom Parsons said it best in his report on the first blows of the women’s race:  “I chased AC (Amanda Carey) and CS (Cheryl Sorensen) for a bit, until a couple dudes tried to horn in. I was kinda hell bent on getting good footage of the ladies because, admittedly, they tend to get the shaft coverage-wise. These dudes, however were hell bent on not getting “girled.” Do you know how much that term pisses me off? A freakin’ lot, that’s how much. Buddy, you’re not getting “girled,” you’re getting “better athleted.” Now shut up about getting “girled” already you club-cut jersey wearing clown.”

Somewhere on the final throes of singletrack, my Garmin told me that I’d already ridden 100 miles. I cursed the course designer and eventually made it to the final run down Thunder Rock Express… which I took somewhat conservatively given the terrain and unknown degree of sketchiness of my brakes.

Final finish time- 9 hours, 28 minutes, and 7th behind 6 freakishly strong women (3 from Team CF, with Cheryl winning and the 2 others who racing their first 100 following in 3rd and 5th) who gave me an honest ass-kicking. Brenda was about 15 minutes behind me, followed closely by the Specialized lady (whose name I’ll stick in here as soon as the full results are up and I know who she is).

More post-race rundown to follow. I figure you’ve read enough already.

April 24, 2012

Audience Polling

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 10:59 am

I can’t make up my mind:

Cohutta 100- rigid w/an Ardent 2.4 front tire (lighter, a little faster uphill, makes me look like a badass) or SID WC suspension fork w/an Ignitor (~1.5 pounds heavier, but a little faster downhill)?

Comment here or on FB/Twitter. Whichever has the most votes is what I’ll do this weekend…

 

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