August 7, 2012

Day 8- More Recovery

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 7:07 pm

Monday was another laid back day.

After laying around and watching some Olympics, we went to late breakfast at the Teton Waters Ranch restaurant (they sell some amazing grass-fed beef there, too). Then, we followed that up with more laying around and watching Olympics while killing time before the tour at one of the local breweries.


After a little more snacking and laying around, we took off to explore some more of the local trails. I think I’m still dragging ass a little from racing on Saturday, but the scenery was worth it


Day 7- Recovery

Filed under: Out West Trip,Training — Andrea @ 6:43 am

Sunday was all about recovery.

I woke up stiff and sore, had breakfast at a local place in Victor (lord, I’d forgotten about green chili on eggs), and got a kickass massage. As soon as I was finished, it was off to Jackson to pick Ryan up at the airport.

We hung out for a little while in Jackson and had a late lunch/early dinner at a Thai place. While we were there, some bikers took a liking to my haircut. Enough so that one guy asked if I minded if he took a photo. I didn’t care, and I took one of him, too.

Speaking of mohawks… the Curiosity Mars rover landed successfully. Why is that speaking of mohawks? Well, this guy was the flight director: Bobak Ferdowsi. Maybe now, the mohawk will be seen as more of a sign of rebellious intelligence rather than social rebellion. On the other hand, there’s also the off chance that every hipster and wannabe will now decide that mohawks are the ultimate in irony. Time will tell.


Once we were back in Victor, we rode over to the pump track. I freaking love pump tracks.

Afterward, I waded in the icy creek for a few minutes to put the finishing touches on the recovery trifecta (massage, ride, and icebath).

The recovery road to Breck Epic is off to a screaming start…

August 6, 2012

Pierre’s Hole 50 Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Out West Trip — Andrea @ 9:14 am

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling hungover.

Quick physiology lesson- when you go to altitude, there’s NOT less oxygen in the air. The air pressure is simply lower. The lower pressure means that there’s less of a drive to force oxygen across the membranes in your lungs, so you end up with less oxygen in your blood. When you arrive at altitude, your body’s first reaction is to attempt to concentrate your blood by dumping water out. It’s a lot like what happens when you drink alcohol, just at a slower rate. It can, however, result in a similar headache/run down feeling like what you’d get with a hangover.

I remember last time I was at altitude that a few days in, I had a similar morning. I took the morning off, had an early lunch at a greasy spoon in Cimmaron,  NM, an relaxed a bit. I felt better by that afternoon, and from there I continued to feel more “normal” with the ~7000ft of altitude.

Saturday, I had to race. At 6am, I felt pretty rotten. Luckily, the race didn’t start until 10:15. I had time to take some aspirin, mainline several gigantic cups of coffee, and make a delicious omelet that included feta cheese and leftover roasted sweet potatoes. I felt slightly better about the time I started packing the car to leave.

In the race parking lot, there were a lot of other women. I have no idea how many other women were racing, but it was a lot more than any other race- local or 100- than I’m accustomed to. They all looked strong. I fought off intimidation by thinking about how hard I’ve trained leading up to this race. I readied myself and rolled around for a little while to warm up. The race started like Syllamo on steroids… straight up a 500 foot climb on the ski hill access road then down a really fast descent. Everyone wanted to get to the singletrack first.


I rolled up to the start area and weaseled my way up to almost the front. It was a good spot- only one other woman was ahead of me, so I knew I could keep an eye on everyone and have an idea of my placing as we cruised up the hill. It was a good strategy. When the race finally started, I rode at my own, hard pace. I could see the woman who was ahead of me, and one other passed me, so I managed to enter the singletrack in 3rd place.

The descent from there down is the “mill creek” section. It takes about 20 minutes to get down and begins with several swoopy downhill switchbacks… the ones I wasn’t very comfortable with negotiating. This time, though, there was a guy ahead of me that was actually holding me up. He wasn’t being totally slow… just cautious. The ground was incredibly dry and dusty, so it was very hard to see the trail ahead in the crowd of riders. Eventually, the slow-ish guy overshot a turn, and I passed him. I increased the speed a bit, and made it down quickly (and even got a compliment from the local guy behind me for picking good lines).

The next part of the course was a paved road climb. I paced myself at about 8.5 mph. During the next few miles of climbing, I was back and forth with several women- one of them on a singlespeed. I was unaware that there was a women’s singlespeed category for the 50 mile. Would I have done it? I dunno… both the women who passed me were riding 32×20, and, as I’d found out earlier in the week, that was too much for my level of fitness/acclimatization.

We then descended Bustle Creek, which dropped down lower than the road we’d just climbed. Again, the track was so dusty that you couldn’t really see the ground. There were a lot of washouts and holes that I narrowly missed by blindly following the guy in front of me that looked like he knew where he was going. The course then cut through a ranch and climbed back up some doubletrack. Amanda had previously described the climb to me as “soul-crushing.” It was hard, and, in some spots, very steep. It was there that I caught up with another woman on a singlespeed. I passed her when she walked the steep spot at the start of the climb, then she caught me in the middle, then I left her again on the steep spot at the top. I thought she was gone, but she caught back up and passed me as I tried to recover on the road climb that followed the doubletrack out of Bustle.

As I cruised in to the last aid station on the loop, Evan Plews, the men’s 100 mile leader, passed me. As we both drifted towards the aid area, he yelled at me to GET OUTTA THE WAY.

Uh, yeah dude.

The last part of the loop was a swoopy, rolling trail with a couple of rocky patches. I realized there that I was getting more comfortable with the higher speeds of the mountain hills vs. the ones I was used to back home. I passed back through the start/finish area, topped off a bottle, and headed back out for another loop. A couple of miles down the trail, I realized that I was feeling overly tired. I’d neglected to eat much during the last section of trail. Knowing that the long descent was approaching, I made the decision to pull off the trail and cram a powerbar. While I was doing that, another woman rolled past me. I got back on the trail and started to reel her back in. I noticed that I was getting the most time back on the technical and downhill spots. Within a few minutes, I was on her wheel, and she let me by. It was motivation enough to send me flying down Mill Creek at breakneck speed (I caught a couple of guys who had passed me back before the start/finish).

P.S. The Jet9 RDO LIVES for descents like Mill Creek.

The next climb was mostly a solo effort. I knew there was at least one woman coming for me, so I kept the pace going. It wasn’t until the second time up Bustle Creek that I saw another female racer. I started reeling her in. When I passed her, I tried to look like I wasn’t sweating out of my eyeballs and breathing like an exhausted racehorse. Once I was back on the road, the caffeine from the gel I’d eaten at the bottom was starting to kick in, and I pushed the pace a bit until I reached the top.

After a quick stop at the last aid station, I headed back out for the last few miles of course. Suddenly, my right thigh cramped itself into a giant knot. I yelled at it and beat it with my fist. It eventually calmed down enough that I kept going, though it kept threatening to cramp again whenever I’d go uphill. I backed off, but then realized that the last woman I’d passed was a couple of switchbacks behind me. I was going to beat her or lock up completely while trying. My hail mary strategy was to stand up every climb and push a hard gear. Sounds odd, I know, but the cramping was worse if I sat and spun.

Thankfully, it worked.

I rolled across the line in 5:33. Thirty minutes behind the winner, and good enough for 6th place overall (They placed me as 4th women’s open, but 2 women in the singlespeed category finished ahead of me as well). I was exhausted and stoked.

Stoked with 6th? Yeah. Why? Well, since CX season ended, my races have basically been solo efforts. Either everyone is a lot faster than me or a lot slower than me. I haven’t had the chance to actually be competitive and race with other women. So, yeah. I’m super stoked. I left everything out on course.

Watch more video of 2012 Pierre’s Hole 100 NUE on


August 5, 2012

Day 5- Pierre’s Hole Pre-Race

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 10:21 am

The day before a race is always a mix of nerves and recovery.

Friday morning, after a few cups of coffee, I took the Enve wheels off of the singlespeed and readied the Jet for its first endurance race. The decision to ride that bike hinged mostly on the descents in the PH race loop- one 20 minute long downhill from the Targhee Ski Resort to the valley floor and multiple other fast, sweeping ski hill trails. The full suspension provided an extra band-aid for my unfamiliarity with prolonged high-speed descending.

After a quick spin (I found a pump track!!!!) and bike wash, Amanda and I drove down to Moose Creek, an ice-cold stream fueled by snowmelt. It’s colder than any icebath I’ve ever had back home. Then, lots of relaxing with podium legs, dinner, and Maddie the dog…

August 2, 2012

Roadtrip Days 3 and 4

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 4:44 pm

Yesterday and today, my riding included a healthy portion of the Pierre’s Hole loop.

I’d previously been highly undecided as to whether I’d race the 50 or the 100 mile version of the race. Other than Amanda, the NUE-bound contingent at this one is thin. Not that I ever think a podium is inevitable, but the chances are better than usual for me. After a slow start to my NUE season, the points and press from a podium finish would be really helpful. The press, especially. Getting a mention in Cyclingdirt or Cyclingnews is always a nice ego boost.

However, looking ahead (and back, for that matter), my focus is the Breck Epic, which starts on the 12th. With my recent periodic bouts of difficulty in recovering from hard racing/training, the prospect of recovering at altitude from 100 miles of racing at altitude is a risk that could leave me starting a 6 day stage race with some leftover fatigue.

I made my decision while I was riding the singlespeed on Wednesday. Fifty miles, full suspension bike. Focus =self preservation for Breck Epic. I’ve learned in yoga class to not let ego take control and jeopardize well-being. Turns out, this can apply to bike racing as well (instructor Debbie is gonna love reading this one).

The course is a 25 mile loop based from the Grand Targhee resort. It’s beautiful, though I’ve figured out that I have little to no skill at negotiating the steep, groomed 180 degree switchback turns in the downhill direction. Those don’t exist in any place I’ve ever ridden (save the Super D course at Winter Park two years ago), so I just don’t have enough trust in the relationship between my front tire and the berms to maintain mach speed through them. I foresee a local person or two yelling at me on Saturday when I brake like mad and roll around them nice & slow.

Today, I rode the Jet. I’ve always thought it was fun, but I’ve never really pushed its limits. I probably didn’t on today’s ride, but I got a lot closer than my previous rides around Memphis. That bike lives for courses like this one. The PH50 might as well be billed as a Marathon super-D race. I’m excited.

Also today, there was a wildfire somewhere in the area. When I left for my ride, the entire valley was filled with smoke. Kinda reminded me of the summer haze back in Memphis…

August 1, 2012

Day 2 Photos

Filed under: Out West Trip — Andrea @ 3:04 pm

Another gallery… includes a feedlot (you could smell it a few minutes before you could see it), lots of scenery shot from the driver’s seat of the Element, and a construction zone that involved a pilot car. I finally made it, though…

Roadtrip- Kilometer Zero

Filed under: Out West Trip — Andrea @ 2:41 pm

Half of Sunday, I spent riding, packing, and generally pacing around the house trying to remember all of the things I usually forget. My Mom stopped by and dropped off some goodies (pictured below). No matter how old you get, you’re never too old for your mom to bring you up to speed on snacks before you leave for summer camp.

Unlike most of my other car-based adventures, I was actually pretty well-prepared by Monday morning. My goal was to leave by 7:00, and I made it out by 7:34 with the goal of getting as far through Nebraska as possible. I took the slightly scenic route somewhat diagonally through Arkansas and Missouri to Kansas City. After a late lunch there, I continued north. There was a lot of corn, and a very nice sunset somewhere close to Nebraska City. I eventually rolled in to Grand Island around 10:30 and found a Super 8 that smelled vaguely of urine due to a fresh cattle trailer parked next door.

Tuesday, the driving continued, though it did get a little more scenic- especially since my GPS decided that I should take the scenic route north from I-80 to get to Victor. I ended up in tourist traffic in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton parks, but made it to Amanda’s in time to go for a short ride and work some of the car out of my legs.

Driving is generally kinda boring. Like this blog post. Here are some photos from day 1. I’ll make the Day 2 gallery a separate post…

July 28, 2012


Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 1:55 pm

While I’ve been anxiously awaiting my trip west for Pierre’s Hole and the Breck Epic, I realized at about 4pm on Friday that I’m leaving Monday morning. Suddenly, it’s time to taper training and start packing. I also came to the realization that the Element is f***ing filthy on the inside, so I’m gonna hit it with some upholstery cleaner and armor-all at some point this weekend.

The weather in Memphis is brutally hot, humid, and polluted this year. I’m not one to complain about the heat, but physically, I can’t deny the fact that I’ve felt the sucking of all energy from my lungs and legs during the hotter rides. So, I’ve spent a good bit of time either grinding out miserably hot endurance miles on the road or doing intervals on the trainer. All the while, I’m watching reports from facebook friends of pristine singletrack, mountains, and blue skies absent of any of the grey haze that settles in on our worst days.

Amanda Carey has been doing intervals here:


Vicky Barclay? She’s somewhere where there’s mountains. And a pool.

Cheryl Sorenson is a New Englander, so her rock gardens don’t turn into a summer jungle like the ones I frequent in Arkansas.


I once heard a story that in some far off European country, the professional cyclists would, in the winter time, ride a trainer for hours a day, with nothing to listen to other than their breathing and nothing to look at except for a bare brick wall in front of them. The idea is that not only did they have strong legs, but also a hard mind.

The last few weeks, for me, have been an exercise in the same spirit.


So all of you can have your mountains, blue skies, and swimming pools. I’ve been training Memphis-style, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything.



July 24, 2012

Riverside Classic XC Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 11:31 am

In my quest for more high-intensity training, I decided to pack the Toaster with bikes and Poolboy Matt and drive over Friday night after work to Little Rock for a cross country race at Burns Park. There are generally a few more women who ride in that area, so I was hoping for a competitive field. It was well after dark when we arrived, so we were both basically riding the course sight unseen (Other than riding through the park during an adventure race back in 2009, I wasn’t familiar with the trails at all).

I’d talked to Todd “Antique Gun Show” Henne earlier in the week, and he’d told me to ride singlespeed 32×19. After chatting with other people in the area, I wasn’t totally sold on what gear to ride, so I decided to take the A9RDO with all the gears. Given the lumpy and sharp nature of the ground at Burns Park, next time, I might bring all of the suspension as well.

There ended up being six Cat 1 women at the line (3 of which were in the age group up from mine). The race started by climbing up the pavement before dropping into the woods on singletrack. From the gun, the a couple of the ladies seemed eager to hammer up the hill. Just as the lactic acid was searing through my quads, I stood to finish it off singlespeed-style… (photos courtesy of


As we turned and dropped into the woods, the other ladies fell in behind me. I assumed that since they were all somewhat local that they’d ridden the course before. I tried not to let on that I had no earthly idea what was around any of the next corners. I could hear chains slapping behind me, so I knew that I wasn’t hiding it too well.


Luckily, the trail gave way to a good power section with some lumpy soil and a little bit of a hill or two. The chain noise grew more faint, and within a few minutes, I was alone. I rode hard for a while, trying to pay attention to the various features of the trail so that I could negotiate them faster and conserve more energy during subsequent laps. At 36 minutes in, I passed through the pit/finish area for the first time and began lap 2 of 3.

The next two laps, my mind tended to wander away from the race. I’d suddenly realize that I was not pedaling as hard as I could and reign it back in to the task at hand. That was essentially how my last hour or so of racing played out.


I felt strong the whole time, and I was tired when I was finished, so I must have done something right.

(photo courtesy of Alyssa Journey)


Intervals are nice & all, but it’s always fun to interject some race intensity for giggles. The racing, combined with the last few weeks of hard training I’ve banged out in an effort to get ready for altitude, has taken a little more out of me than I was expecting. Today, I had full intentions of knocking out a 4hr road/1hr trainer workout, but figured out 2 hours into the road riding that I was more tired than I needed to be. So, I pulled the plug and decided to relax and write this blog post instead.

On the bright side, I’m soooooo glad I didn’t race ORAMM on Sunday.

July 17, 2012

Drugs are Bad, MmmK?

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:43 am

Before you read this post, I insist that you read this article: Two Year Ban for Micheal Weiss

It’s not often that controversy or drama creeps its way in to NUE endurance racing (maybe with the exception of last year’s Fool’s Gold “two winners” course marshalling debacle). What happened on Sunday at the Breck 100 is a much more evil and ominous form of controversy and drama.  Micheal Weiss, the pro triathlete who is currently serving a two year ban from his sport for blood doping, beat out Josh Tostado.

My favorite part of the article I linked to above is this quote: “This is not from anything that is remotely recent. The allegation dates back to 2005, as I was a professional mountain biker…”

So, let me get this straight. When you’re a triathlete, you’re not doping, but when you’re a pro mountain biker, things get hazy?

I’m actually not going to pass any sort of judgement as to whether or not Weiss is currently doping. Dopers who are at the very top level of their sport aren’t there because they’re marginal athletes who take a bunch of drugs. They’re typically already stellar athletes who are able to use drugs to get to the top. It’s plausible that Weiss is not on anything other than hopes and dreams right now. However, given his past record, it’s equally as plausible that he’s on more drugs than a nursing home patient.

My disappointment lies in the fact that, while it is an elite-level national series of races, the National Ultra Endurance series essentially deals with doping on the honors system. Being the realistic person that I am, I know that Ryan O’Dell and the NUE race promoters do not have the financial, logistical, and legal resources that are required to implement USADA-style doping controls. It’s the sad truth, but I think at this point, the best recourse is what Ryan is doing right now, and not allowing Weiss to collect series points.

(Photo courtesy of Thom Parsons at Cyclingdirt)

It’s a tough issue with lots of grey areas. Open any health/fitness magazine, and there are full-page ads for testosterone replacement therapy for middle age/older men. If one of the masters guys is on T-therapy for clinically-measured low levels, and the therapy keeps him just within “normal” testosterone levels for a healthy man, is that considered doping? What about people who have been caught? Some people say “banned for life!” while others say once they’ve served their time away, they’re forgiven. What about people, like Weiss, who are currently serving a ban?

I won’t claim to know the answers to these things, but I think they’re questions worth asking. They’re worth making rules for. As long as the NUE races aren’t under the thumb of USA Cycling, there needs to be at least an acknowledgement that, indeed, doping exists, and we don’t take kindly to it.


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