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.


July 16, 2012

Memphis Invitational Circuit Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 6:01 am

A.K.A. The race that almost wasn’t.

Participation in this race was in jeopardy following my previous post when the race promoter sent out an email on Wednesday night (I didn’t get it, I heard about it 2ndhand) letting racers know that the 10:00a.m. Women’s race would be combined with the 8:00a.m. Cat4 men’s race.

I was rather irate.

The obvious issue with this is that the promoter sent out an email about my race that I didn’t get. While numbers were bound to be low, it doesn’t help if women who plan on being there at 10 are going to show up an hour after their race is over.
Then, there’s the whole “trying to have your own race around a bunch of men fucking sucks” thing. They’ll chase down your attacks and basically shove their egos into the middle of your race. It used to happen all the time when I first started racing, and all TBRA women’s races were combined with master’s 50+ men.

I’ll admit, it’s a chicken/egg thing- Offer a separate women’s race and only a couple show up, so you decide to combine fields, which further discourages women from showing up. I get it. It’s a big chunk of everyone’s time to sit around an extra 45 minutes to watch a handful of racers. You know what, though?  We train just as hard. We want to race each other just as hard. It’s a slap in the face to have your race put off like it’s an inconvenience. Needless to say, I made my case to the local official, and she convinced the promoter that the women’s race would stay separate at its originally scheduled time.  (THANK YOU, TERESA!)

Anyway- on to the good stuff.

Saturday morning, I packed up and rode the half hour to the race course for a nice warmup. When I arrived at registration, I learned that two other women from the Marx-Bensdorf team would be racing- Marda (uber-fit/strong time-trialer- left) and Lindsay (no idea, but she looked fast- right). Small field? Yes. Challenging field? You bet. I’ve been double teamed on two occasions in the past- and I had a 50% success rate in the situation.


We did decide on the line to shorten our race to 30 minutes. I figured that for a 45 minute race, I’d have to sit in a good 15 minutes prior to trying to get away. Going to 30 would mean less “sit and wait” time. When we started, Lindsay immediately sat on the front. I was happy to sit on her wheel and bide my time. Well, I say I was happy… I was actually antsy enough that Matt told me later that I looked like I was about to turn myself inside out with impatience. I was. Seriously. I wanted to attack so bad. On about the 3rd lap, Lindsay broke from her previous M.O. and pedaled really hard up the hill before the last turn. At the top, she sat up. I wanted to attack, but I looked at the time… only 5 minutes in. Wait, damnit.


Next lap, the promoter calls a prime. I call a compromise with myself. Since we’re “only” racing 30 minutes, I will counter the 1st prime if they go for it. Nine minutes in? Sure, why not?

We approach the final straightaway, still in the above formation. Lindsay was near the curb, so I arranged myself just to her left so that Marda would be forced to attack to my left if she wanted to do so. Gotta eliminate the options.
Suddenly, I hear CLACK CLACK and the dig of carbon wheels behind me. OMG, IT’S ON! I felt an ambushing lion.

I jumped into Marda’s draft as she passed me. She took the prime by a bike length, and I laid into the attack, taking the first corner with my knee nearly on the ground. A good counter-attack feels like this:

I almost ran into the lead car. Marda chased. Hard.

I dove deep into the pain cave. I felt awesome, though. I could tell that I was opening the gap a little more each time I’d go up the long grade before the final turn. Eventually, there was nothing behind me except for a follow car. I got 40-50 second time gaps called out, as well as a “they’re working together now!” after a few laps. I just kept my head down and pedaled harder.


Twenty-one minutes later, I was giving a victory salute. It felt good. Time to cool down and go to the podium.


Ryan and I had a snack and headed back home. I discovered once I was there that not only had I increased my me vs. double team success rate, but I’d also matched my previous PR for 20 minute power. As in, I’m actually starting to get fast. It’s so on.



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


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.

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