brickhouseracing

July 11, 2012

Roadie Stuff

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 5:43 am

Sure, I primarily ride mountain bikes, but I cut my teeth in road racing. So, this time of year, I indulge in watching the Tour de France for hours a day. I have a few re-occuring thoughts/predictions about the race so far. If you don’t watch/follow, you’re probably going to be bored with this post.

-As a closet Cavendish fan, I wanted to hate Sagan, but I totally love him. He’s young, crafty, and races incredibly smart (bonus: he rides no-handed wheelies). I predict that he will win a World Championship at some point.
-When you hear Phil repeatedly call a rider/team “unstoppable,” it’s a prophetic indication that there will be a doping charge in the future.
-Stages like Friday’s # 7 are why I watch the Tour. The emotion during the last half hour of racing was fantastic- not just for the winner/his manager, but behind him as the top riders of the race hammered over the final climb. Even if you’re not a road fan, I recommend you watch it.
-This last one should cause a stir in the peanut gallery:
The insane number of crashes during the flat stages are, in large part, caused by the style of racing provoked by heavy use of race radios. The pack rolls along just fast enough to frantically reel in the breakaway during the final 30K of the course. Every. Single. Stage. They are radio puppets to their managers. The reasons why this causes wrecks are A) The initial pace is totally non-selective. No one gets dropped because of crosswinds/small climbs/etc. More people in the pack = more chances of wrecking. B) The pace is initially slow enough that riders are constantly bunched up. Anyone who has ever road raced knows that this is when pile-ups occur. Sure, they can’t be on the rivet and hammering the entire 100+ miles, but the entire pack staying in a “slow” rolling bunch for 100 of 140 miles of racing instead of actually racing is just asking for it. C) The frantic chase at the end. It’s frantic. Suddenly, the pack that’s rolled tempo for the past 100 miles is hammering its ass off.

A while back, the UCI tried to ban radios. Teams raised all sorts of hell because they said it was a safety issue. Well, now the radio puppet-style of racing is becoming a safety issue. If you want riders to know about road hazards ahead, have a general official’s radio that broadcasts such things to all riders. Ditch the radio puppets and bring back real racing.

This Saturday, I’m going to indulge in some road racing of my own. There’s a(nother) training crit… I’m feeling pretty awesome right now because of some kickass interval training. This time, there’s a women’s race on the bill, so I’m hoping the handful of other local ladies show up to throw down. No radios allowed.

July 5, 2012

Addendum:

Filed under: Trails,Training — Andrea @ 9:50 am

Hey, you… yeah, you… riding on the trail and wearing headphones in both ears with your music turned up SO FREAKING LOUD that you can’t hear me roll up behind you and yell “EXCUSE ME” loud enough that I scare away all woodland creatures within a 100 yard radius.
I hope you didn’t think I was too rude today when I made an elbows-out cross country pass on you, but I’d been yelling at you and rubbing your rear tire for at least a solid minute before I resorted to it.

Stuff about Things

Filed under: Around the shop,non-bike,Training — Andrea @ 6:34 am

Once again, the lack of any one new and exciting event has led me to compile a post with random vignettes from everyday life…

1. Chris King hubs are overrated. Sure, it looks really nice, and the quality is great, but you can get comparable products that are less expensive and more easily serviceable (NO part is going to last forever without some TLC). A Hope rear hub costs a couple hundred less than a King. It’s also an incredibly simple design and can be completely overhauled in 15 minutes with inexpensive cartridge bearings and tools found in any bike shop. Hell, you can even clean and re-lube the freehub pawls without removing your cassette.

2. On Saturday, I rode hot laps at Herb Parson’s Lake. My lap times were excellent, and I feel like I’ve magically taken a step forward in my bike handling abilities. At first, I just thought it was knowing the trail. Then, I rode a new, long-ish extension loop for the first time, and hauled just as much ass as I had been on the parts of the trail I was familiar with. It made me feel like this song sounds:

 

3. On Sunday, I did some endurance-pace riding. Five hours’ worth. I started by riding a 3 hour loop with Ryan, came home to cool off, then went back out for 2 more hours in the 100+ degree heat. The first hour was fine, the second, not so much. I ended up stopping at the Dunkin Donuts drive through for some ice. The heat wouldn’t have been as rough if it hadn’t been a low air quality day. We were under a code orange ozone alert, so I ended up with burning eyes and throat and a little chest congestion later than night.

4. Tuesday, in order to avoid the heat/pollution, I only rode outside for two hours, then came home and did my intervals on the trainer. As motivation, I sent this photo to Amanda Carey and told her I was coming for her:

 

5. Having 4th of July off was pretty boss. I woke up early and rode first thing. After Tuesday’s kickass training, I decided a laid back exploration of the newest links to the Germantown Greenway were in order. It did not disappoint:

 

Afterward, I went to yoga (which turned out to be a great idea since I ended up sleeping in this morning instead of going to the 6am class I usually go to), then had some lunch before going to Fullface Kenny’s Pool Party, a wine tasting at Corgi Nathan’s house, then back to Kenny’s to watch the Germantown fireworks display from the pool.

This morning, I’m extra glad that I was the designated driver.

June 29, 2012

The Waiting Game

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:04 am

Nothing specific of interest is going on right now.

In about a month, I’ll be taking unpaid sabbatical to head west out to race Pierre’s Hole and the Breck Epic. I’d originally planned on a longer, more Epic® trip that included the Breck 100, but the time spent from home/work would have been closer to 7 weeks if I’d given myself time to acclimate. So, the mini-epic will be a truncated version- I’ll drive out to Victor, ID to stay with Amanda for 2 weeks around the PH100, then head down to Breckenridge to tackle the Epic. I’ve vowed to NOT drive home while I’m feeling race-trashed, so I’ll hang out in the Front Range area for a few days and recover before I make the long trip home.

‘Til then, I’m falling back in love with training for shorter races. Two-3 hour interval rides are a welcome reprieve to the 4-6 hour endurance/interval rides that I’ve been grinding out. Along with higher intensity training, I’m not drinking much beer. Turns out, the less beer butt (like a beer gut, but for women) I have to haul, the faster I can go up those big hills they have out in the Rockies. According to Dicky, this behavior is also known as “doping.” All I need to add now is some strength/beauty tea:

 

In other news, read this article about the 2013 stuff coming from Cannondale: Bike Rumor- Cannondale Press Camp

First off, I want to mention that I’m still a holdout for not using disc brakes in Cyclocross races (and by “cyclocross races,” I’m not talking about gravel grinders/Ultracross races that involve long, sometimes steep descents on gravel roads). If the conditions are wet and muddy (when the discs would have a distinct advantage over rim brakes), chances are that if you just stop pedaling for a second, you’ll be going plenty slow. Also, I’m the queen of bruising myself via unintentional contact with my own cyclocross bike. Looks like if the current trend continues, I’ll also be the queen of slicing and/or burning myself with a warm disc rotor as well. However, since Cannondale now only offers discs on their badass frame, other manufacturers will likely follow suit, and, at some point, I’ll be forced, kicking and screaming, into the “new technology,” and it’s likely I’ll get over it. But, until then, I’ll just bitch and moan about how much they’re not necessary.

More importantly, though, is the Cannondale Supersix Evo Women’s bike. Hell. Yes. (If you missed my post about thoughts on women’s bikes, read here: http://blog.brickhouseracing.com/?p=4378.) I absolutely love that they’re going all out with a women’s model. I’ve already contacted our Cannondale rep to let him know that I’m in for one as soon as humanly possible. As far as I can tell, everything about the bike is exactly as I’d like it built (except for its lack of carbon clinchers, but that’s splitting hairs). I’d be removing the badass one-piece chainring/spider and replacing it with a powermeter spider, but otherwise, the stock bike is a rare bird of perfection out of the box.

That’s kinda all for now. Life is pretty stable for now. Just waiting.

 

 

June 25, 2012

Legends of Stanky Creek XC

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:05 am

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve raced a Cross Country race. In fact, this was just my 6th one since I started riding off-road in 2009 and 3rd one since I upgraded to Cat 1 (with my 1st Cat1 race being a DNF because of a broken derailleur). So, with my area of expertise generally swinging between 100 milers and 45 minute CX races, I wasn’t 100% sure on pacing myself (not totally in the dark- more like about 90%).

Stanky creek is rooty as hell. The turns are small and the hills are tight. Err… close enough.

I decided a while back that I’d ride the Crowbar. While anything can be fast out there, the full suspension lets you keep traction over the roots & whatnot, so you can pay less attention to your line and more attention to the next turn. I did a few single laps out there leading up to race day, and had my lap time nailed down to ~50min. I figured that’d be a good starting point on pacing for 3 laps, and I could modify the plan depending on the competitive heat.

Only 2 other women entered the Cat 1 race- Laureen Coffelt, who I race against often in the NUE series, and Jennifer Moorehead, who has been on hiatus for a bit and is just now getting back into it. We lined up behind the Cat 1 men and started 2 minutes after the 40+ age group.

When the race started, I took the holeshot. The way the trail rides is very tight in the first few miles, gradually opening up to the more flowy, power-hungry white trail for the last few miles (with the white trail being briefly interrupted by a tighter, anti-flow loop that was built a few years ago). I aimed to maintain speed in the first section by staying off of the brakes as much as possible then start dropping the hammer in the sections where the trail was more open. Everything went off without a hitch, except for the creek crossing. The race directer did a great job of making it nice and smooth, with a bit of a berm over the exit lip to keep it from becoming eroded again. However, the turn to get onto the trail is sharp and left on the exit, and I found myself launching into the bushes and putting a foot down every time I crossed it. EVERY time. Oops.

My slightly conservative strategy meant that I could hear the other women behind me for a little while. Once I was on the more open trail, I started to lay down the wattage, and they disappeared. After that, I was alone. Well, I passed a few of the men that started ahead of me, but someone that you’ve put 2+ minutes into generally doesn’t put up much of a fight when you want to get around. I found myself getting complacent in the 2nd lap. I got a little mad at myself for not going full-bore and dug in the spurs.

I was satisfyingly tired by the 3rd lap, but was able to continue pushing. I took enough chances that I had some close-call almost wrecks, but managed to remain upright the entire race. There was one cramping incident near the end of the last lap- I swung my right knee out for balance, only to have my inner thigh muscle turn itself into a ball. I talked to it… trying to convince it that I needed it to fully function for just another 10 minutes. I finished in just a hair over 2.5 hours- 7 minutes ahead of Laureen, who was minutes ahead of Jennifer.

It’s weird to race for 2.5 hours. I feel like I could have gone a little faster, but, like in some of the CX races from last winter, once I’m way out front, I tend to take fewer risks and take the pace down to a few clicks below “bleeding out of my eyeballs.” However, it’s going to take racing against people that can kick my ass in every direction to get that sort of effort. It’s good training to get ready for the Breck Epic, so my search for an ass-kicking will continue until I find one.

June 22, 2012

F***yeahTraining

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 9:12 am

I finally bushwhacked my way out of post-race(s) recovery, and now I’m t**s-deep in a training cycle meant to bring about the top-end I’m going to need to race at altitude in August. It’s hard, and it makes me eat and sleep like my life depends on it (as opposed to just recovering/refreshing my legs between races every other weekend). I’m actually going to race a local XC race on Sunday (Legends of Stanky Creek), but, schedule-wise, I’ve been generally treating it like another hard day of training.

In all honesty, I’ve been going at it hard enough the past couple of weeks that I’ve reached the point that I’m kinda relieved that I’m racing this weekend, because it’s easier (motivation-wise) to push in that situation vs. going at it alone. It’ll be a nice break from the (occasionally abusive) self-talk that goes on in my head during the last half of most intervals.

Hard training also brings about the best recovery rides… there’s absolutely no temptation to go outside of “Zone 1-2″ when your legs are aching from yesterday, and tomorrow is bound to be a killer. Today, I even stopped to help a little turtle cross the road…

 

How little? Here’s a better shot… for scale:

June 18, 2012

Enve Carbon Wheels- Mid Term Report

Filed under: Product Reviews — Andrea @ 6:38 am

Back sometime in March, I bought a pair of Enve’s carbon XC wheels. I have the 32 spoke model- they do come in 28 spoke, and the guy at Enve was very helpful when I called to talk about which ones I should get. He said that at my weight, I could definitely go 28 spoke and I’d have no problems. However, advice is what you ask for when you’ve already made up your mind.

These wheels are stiff.

It took being somewhat uncomfortable with my suspension setup at Ouachita Challenge to realize this. On my previous geared setup, I used crest rims and a REBA XX fork. Some people complain that particular fork is too soft. I really liked it. The SID XX World Cup fork is not as plush. It wasn’t until I bought a set of stiff wheels that I was forced to deal with my picky-ness in forks. I played around with air pressure for a while and found some improvement, but ultimately, I decided I’d try replacing the 5 weight oil in the damper with 2.5 weight. Perfection! My fork now feels more like the previous… only much lighter.

What’s this got to do with wheels?

My point is that when you go from wheels that are light and flexy (“noodly” if you will) to wheels that are equally as light but incredibly stiff, you’re forced to pay a lot more attention to your suspension setup and tire pressure. I don’t think it’s a downside to them at all, unless you’re the type that likes to be ignorant of those things.
The added stiffness translates to more direct steering. The improved accuracy means more precise moves through technical stuff and tight turns. Even at 145 pounds geared up, I notice this. If you’re a bigger person, the difference will likely be more dramatic. If you’re already riding a stiff bike like the Air9 Carbon, all of the awesome acceleration/handling characteristics that you love about the bike will be that much better.

The durability of these wheels has been amazing. I haven’t trued them once since I first started using them. I’ve done almost all of my training (outside of road training) and all of my racing on them. There are a couple of gouges in the carbon where I’ve come into contact with something that probably would have ended a crest rim. If you’re tired of disposable lightweight aluminum rims, pony up and get carbon. I’m reasonably certain it would take a catastrophic event to irreparably damage these wheels.

A lot of the strength of these wheels comes from the engineering and molding process. The rims are formed with a removable bladder (with most carbon rims, the bladder is made of nylon or other lightweight material and remains in the rim). The Enve bladder is proprietary and is removed during manufacturing. The biggest difference between these and other carbon rims is that the spoke holes are baked into the rim during the rim-making process (as opposed to drilling once the rim is complete). The small, molded-in holes mean that the spoke nipples are internal. That would be a pain in the ass (with tubeless tape, etc) when it came to truing, except that they just don’t need to be trued every time you hit a bump like with a traditional light aluminum wheel.

If you did happen to damage one, though, ENVE has an excellent crash replacement program.

Other upsides?

Made in the USA (not that stuff made overseas is necessarily bad… it’s just nice to know that the company is employing individuals on our side of the ocean). Politics, jobs, blah blah blah…

There’s nothing proprietary about them. The nipples could be a little hard to find at every shop- they’re an internal pillar-style, but if you’re looking to be well prepared and keep that stuff around, your local shop can get them (QBP Part #SP0450). The spokes are a DT aerolite bladed spoke. Once again, available through any bike shop. The actual lacing/tensioning process is traditional, too. (an example of a “non-traditional” build is the Easton rear wheel that requires de-tensioning/re-tensioning of the rear wheel in order to replace a spoke).
Hubs are whatever you want. I opted for the DT240 set that they offer on their website, but they’ll build whatever hubs you send them into a wheelset, or you can buy the rims and build them yourself. The only thing you can’t use are the Industry 9 spokes that thread in to the hubs- they don’t fit through those nice, small, molded-in spoke holes.

Complaints?

Tubeless setup is not as easy as a Stan’s rim. It’s not necessarily hard… it’s just not “unwrap a tire and seat it with a pump” easy. I found that for most new tires, I need to remove the valve core and apply plenty of soap to the bead in order to get it to seat.

I only have one real complaint about my wheelset…if you spray them with a hose, they’ll take on water. I’m guessing that if you submerged them while riding, it’d also happen. It’s hard to discern the sound of water in a rim from the sound of Stan’s in the tire, and the best way I’ve found to get the water out is to loosen the valve nut a little and flip the wheel around so that the water drips out. Kinda annoying, because a rim is the last place you’d want extra weight. Given the profile of the rim, though, I’m not sure how you’d prevent it.

All-in-all, I’m very happy with these wheels. I would love to get a set of the all-mountain-width rims to use with my singlespeed since I often use an Ardent 2.4 on it when I’m riding rigid. I’ve also switched to an Ardent 2.25 as a nearly-exclusive front tire for riding with suspension. I’d love to see the shape of that one on a wider profile rim.

June 15, 2012

Bike Stuff

Filed under: Around the shop — Andrea @ 9:26 am

I’ve never been one to follow all the rules, so I decided that when The A9RDO’s chain just surpassed .4mm of stretch, I’d try something other than the “mandatory” Shimano chain on the XTR drivetrain. I was shopping around and came across KMC X10SL chains. They have a super baller one in black. Seeing as I’m vain and want to make my bike as stealthy as possible, I chose that one… because, you know, the XTR one isn’t fancy enough (in addition to that, I’ve got a gold 9-spd KMC on my singlespeed that’s seen hundreds of miles and is still in excellent shape).

This thing retails for around $140. (Good thing I work in a shop, right?)

Sure, it’s a part that will eventually wear out, and, given its lightness and sexiness, possibly faster than a chain that I could purchase for $20. However, I’d like to see how the DLC (short for “diamond-like coating”) fares under the rigors of endurance training & racing. Also, it matches my bike and comes in a velvet-lined box…

 

I installed it this morning and went for a ride. Shifting is no different than with the XTR chain. I took a photo, but you can’t really get a feel for the sexy stealth-ness now that it’s coated in a layer of dust:

 

On a totally unrelated note… ANIMAL PHOTOS!!!! Everyone loves animal photos!

June 13, 2012

Don’t call it a comeback…

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:08 am

In case you’re just now joining me, here’s a little rundown of the past few months in training/racing:

Late winter/spring- got a little bit of a late start on my endurance training because of the training leading up to master’s worlds. Didn’t matter. First few races of the spring, I felt great. Killed it at Southern Cross, Spa City 6hr, Ouachita, and Slobberknocker (scroll back through the archives for race reports).
Then, at the end of April, Cohutta rolls around. First 100 of the season. I did well, but I wasn’t 100% ripping the cranks off of my bike, which is kinda how my training/tapering was supposed to set me up. It’s OK, I thought… just a little leftover “tired” from Slobberknocker.

I rested up and tried to get back to normal training a week later… only to fail miserably.

I rested some more and felt better before Syllamo. However, it was a lot like Cohutta- not bad, but definitely not Incredible Hulk-style crank bending, either. Then, at Syllamo, my brain and body shut down. More rest before Mohican.

Up to Mohican, I was better than before Syllamo. Mohican was a good race. Not my best, but not bad.

I rested some more up until last Saturday. My prescribed training was 3.5 hours easy-ish. I decided that instead of subjecting myself to a 3.5 hour road ride that I’d join Fullface Kenny for ~45miles of hauling ass through the Wolf River and Stanky Creek trails on our Jet9s. The “tired” that I felt after that ride wasn’t the oppressive, full mind/body tired… it was a satisfying sort of tired that is mainly concentrated to your legs and appetite for food, beer, and more training.

Then, yesterday, it was back to road training. As a preparation for some more XC-oriented racing, I went out to ride steady with occasional hill attacks. It went really well. I got the “rip your cranks off” feeling back as the ride progressed.

The blood lust is back.

My future plans involve a couple of regional XC races followed by Pierre’s Hole and the Breck Epic. What about the Breck 100? Well, the logistics just weren’t working out. In order to acclimate, etc. I was just going to be gone from home for too long. So, I’m narrowing the focus a little and compacting my trip West into 3 weeks instead of 6. The way I’m feeling now, I don’t think it will disappoint.

June 12, 2012

Go fast… sometimes sideways.

Filed under: Around the shop,Training — Andrea @ 11:32 am

Good lord, I haven’t posted in almost a week. That’s like, blog kryptonite, or something.

This week’s slightly bike-related post is about the often-times painfully bored existence of the stereotypical adrenaline junkie. The event that brought about this post was a short car ride. Last week at work, one of Fullface Kenny’s friends stopped by. This friend, a Porsche driving school instructor, was driving a Nissan 240. The Nissan 240 contained both a roll cage and a Chevy LS1 motor (the same one that you’ll find in a Corvette).

You see where I’m going with this…

We spent all of 5 minutes driving around the deserted back road from the shop. A large portion of that 5 minutes was spent drifting sideways and/or accelerating as fast a possible. It’s amazing what a very skilled driver can do with a very powerful machine. I spent most of the time plastered against the seat and giggling as much as I could.

According to Kenny, that’s Dude’s normal mode of driving. He gets tickets. Apparently, he once got a warning for wheelie-ing a street bike in front of a cop with a 24-pack of budweiser strapped to the tail. Why no ticket? Because the cop said that it was the dumbest thing he’d seen that day and was going to have a good time telling his buddies back at the station.  What’s the point of telling you all of this? Well, I can see a few of you shaking your heads and thinking about what a total idiot this guy is. However, also according to Kenny, the guy has worked his way up a corporate ladder and has a very respectable, clean-cut, wear-a-suit-and-carry-a-card job. I can only imagine how much stupidly fast and sideways driving it would take me to unwind from that sort of thing.

“Adrenaline Junkie” is a totally cliched and played out stereotype, but if you think about the meaning of the words, it makes unfortunate sense. For whatever reason, we belong to a subset of homo-sapiens that requires heavy doses of epinephrine on a regular basis in order to feel satisfied with life in general… very much like an individual addicted to any externally available drug, substance or action.  If you don’t get it, you experience withdrawal.

Boredom.

For those of us living with co-morbidities of both adrenaline junkie-ism and Attention Deficit Disorder (maybe the two go together like diabetes and high blood pressure?), normal life can sometimes start to get depressingly boring, so we do things that other people think are crazy… like driving a car really fast and sideways, riding a mountain bike at high rates of speed, or completing incredibly random expeditions via various modes of human-power.

Side note- if you look into the bikecar videos at that last link, you’ll see the one I posted a couple of months ago where the expedition was interrupted by a motorized car. Dave looks almost excited that some sort of dangerous wrench was thrown into his plans. “F*CKYEAH, EXCITEMENT!!”

Boredom is a horrible thing. It’s almost physically painful. Some people reading this will agree, others will think I need to take my Ritalin and chill out. I’m on a constant search for small bites of excitement in everyday life. Not necessarily for adrenaline-raising purposes… just mostly for “something different and awesome” purposes.

Sometimes, it’s just cool stuff that shows up at the shop:


(that bike is all Campy!)

…or outside of the shop:

(Indy caught his 2nd mole ever… he has to eventually with the number of holes he digs in the process!)

Whatever it is, when I don’t get it, I start doing crazy things like cutting my hair into a mohawk or getting a new piercing. Anything to add the edge of danger or excitement to mundane periods of life.

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