Settled In

We arrived in Louisville yesterday afternoon, dumped everything into the hotel room, and went out for a quick spin to look at the course (it was closed, so we really did just go and look at it) then stop by registration and get back to the hotel before dark.

(insert obligatory “blurry phone photo from the riverfront”)
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Once we’d cleaned up and had dinner at a nearby brewery (OMG @ the local/grassfed burger, gluten free when served minus bun), we went to Whole Foods to stock up on groceries so we wouldn’t constantly be in search of a healthy place to eat meals (actually not too hard in LV, but the kitchenette is a sure thing).
When we arrived back, I took half an hour or so to unpack my clothes into drawers and re-arrange the kitchen cabinets to hold the groceries and other food I’d brought. It can get a little tedious, but settling in and nesting in such a way makes the remainder of the stay a lot more “normal,” something that can be hard to maintain when you’re living in a 250 square foot space for 4 nights. Getting a room organized and making yourself at home is some of the best advice I can give to anyone aspiring to make more than 1-night road trips to bike races. It also keeps you from searching through luggage/grocery bags looking for an apple or arm warmers.

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This morning, a giant storm front passed through (it went through Memphis last night, and I nearly worried Poolboy Matt to death doting over the fate of him and the dogs if there were a tornado). We slept through most of it, but it ended up flooding and blowing down parts of the race course, so the start of everything was delayed. Luckily, the schedule is staying the same from afternoon pre-ride on to Ryan’s heat race.

I was super happy with our choice in groceries yesterday, because when we went down to the complimentary hot breakfast, my food snobishness came out in full force when I got grossed out by the slimy-looking “scrambled” (powdered) eggs. I got a spoonful of the baked potato wedges and went up to the room to make my own bacon/potato/cheddar/egg hash. It was one of the most delicious things, ever.

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Now, we’re just hanging around until the noon open course time, when we’ll go get covered in mud then scramble around to get Ryan’s bike back to “perfect” for his 3:30(ish) heat race.

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You’ll notice the hipster/instagram flair on that one. Yesterday, on the 6ish hour drive here, I got bored and started a social media side project. Based off of richkidsofinstagram.tumblr.com, I started uppermiddleclasskidsofinstagram.tumblr.com. Hopefully, it’ll catch a little traction with the target audience and get some good submissions of the fun, occasionally expensive hobbies of people with a little disposable income. You can tag photos on Instagram or Twitter with #umckoi.

 

One more week

Suddenly, it’s just a few days until we leave for Louisville. Not only am I tired of preparing physically for the race, I’m also a little tired of typing about it. I’m stronger than last year, the competition will be deeper than last year. All I have to do now is race outside myself in 6 days. Let’s just leave it at that.

In more exciting news, I sold the Air9 Carbon!!! I’m extra happy because a woman bought it. Not to sound “reverse sexist,” or anything, but it always makes me super excited to see other women on really nice bikes. The replacement for that frame is another Air9 Carbon CYA frame, but in moondust. I am going to make it a little more sexy than before with the Niner RDO bar, stem, and Ti Cog (I got a 20t in case I’m riding someplace where the Endless 21t kickass cog isn’t appropriate) as well as an MRP Bling Ring. Now all I need is for my Industry 9 Trail 24 wheels to show up, and I’ll be worthy of a spot on the Sick Whips page of Dirtwire.tv.

Hopefully it’ll all arrive while I’m in Kentucky next week, and I can do some building on Monday and/or Tuesday. That won’t be the only thing I’ll have to build- my warranty replacement Cannondale Super6 EVO frame should be here next week as well. I realized soon after I built it that the drag I was feeling on the crank wasn’t “new bearing” drag. Turns out, the bottom bracket shell was out of spec, and when Cannondale tried to fix the problem by sending me a new bottom bracket, the replacement got stuck inside my frame. Not just like “hard to get out” stuck, more like, “large men laid it on the ground and hammered on a stuck driveside bearing and it’s still in there” stuck. So, the replacement frame ships out on the 28th. I’m excited to have my road bike back.

Here are some random pictures from the last week:

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SOLD! Air9 Carbon for sale, Round 2

Too slow! It’s outta here!

There was a little interest in the A9C frame/fork, but no solid bites, so here’s another offer:

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Parts include:
Hayes Stroker Trail brakes
Truvativ Stylo Crank (32×17 gearing)
Hope Hubs (SS Rear)
Stan’s Crest/355 rims
Thomson Seatpost
Easton EA50 stem (100mm/6deg)
Truvativ Stylo Alloy bar
WTB Grips
The front tire will NOT be the Michelin in the picture. It will be a matching (to the rear) Hutchinson Python

$2,200

The original deal still stands if you’re looking to purchase a frame & fork only.

Nostalgia and Pride

Those of you that have been reading for a hot minute may remember my brief but life-altering stint with the Metro Volkswagen Elite team out of Dallas. We had a 10 day training camp during which I redefined “physical limits,” and I met some very talented riders who shared my drive to rule the bike world. I only made it to a couple of races for the team, where I worked outside myself as a domestique before having the cycling equivalent to a nervous breakdown.
The team manager, Nathan, wasn’t the easiest person to deal with. When I’d first met him at the Tour of Arkansas, he had his hand in a cast… because he’d gotten mad and punched the metal team trailer, denting it and breaking his hand (you may also remember his punching through the back window of a Suburban during team camp). Anger management issues aside, he knew his shit when it came to race tactics, and, he’s one of the only people who has ever genuinely believed in my ability to ride a bike at a lever higher than what I’d even expect of myself. Not that any of my other friends/family doesn’t think I’m good, it’s just that their expectations don’t exceed my own, but his were, “you have the potential to be better than you think you can be.”

I still channel that expectation on a regular basis when I’m out training alone.

The riders I met while on the Metro team have generally scattered across the U.S. since the team exodus during the remainder of the 2009-2010 seasons. Though not all of them still bike race, through various social media outlets, I’ve watched them all be successful in whatever it is they’re doing. I’m not going to go through all of them and their achievements (that sort of post would take all day), but here’s the latest:

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Christian Helmig wins Luxembourg National Cyclocross Championship

 

It’s not an uncommon occurrence for any of my former teammates to win a national title or make it onto a pro team roster. Some have abandoned the pro ranks and gone on to do other things with a similar drive for success- everything from art to rock climbing to baby making. I’ve felt proud of them all at one point or another.

Move on…

I wasn’t going to post anything because I’ve tried to avoid the whole Lance/Oprah thing as much as possible. I’m not really going to talk about it. I just wanted to rant a little (surprise surprise) about the whole “sensation” stirred up on news and social media.

I don’t want to watch anyone’s downfall. I can’t relish in it. No matter how “bad” a person is, I’m not happy to see anyone fail, get thrown under a bus, be executed (figuratively or literally- talking all levels of bad here), or fall from any sort of grace. It doesn’t make me happy to see Lance Armstrong get any sort of comeuppance for actions or lies of his past. I feel uncomfortable when I see/hear people celebrating societal and/or physical revenge on someone.

Right now, I’m more concerned with the war on little black ants in my kitchen that’s now spilling over to my computer desk (before you say anything, yes, I feel bad when ants die, too, but I feel worse when I find one crawling on my arm while I’m typing). I’m more concerned with finding a suitable partner for PMBAR and Double Dare so I can enter the series for a chance to vie for the title of Queen of Pisgah. I am concerned with the two more days of hard training I need to complete before my WCCX taper starts- both a relief, because I’m exhausted, and a stress, because after Sunday, I’ve built what I can, and I can’t build any more. I have way too many things to keep me busy to mess with celebrating a confession that was pointlessly obvious in the first place.

Hey, everyone, I’m real sorry to have to tell you this, but I have a mohawk and more than one tattoo. I tried to cover it up forever, but I’m ready to come clean and admit my propensity towards bad hairstyles and permanent body art.

If you want to quit re-hashing the past and talk about something current, follow @lauren1717 on Twitter. She’s posted a lot of great links to articles about the current plight of women’s pro cycling.

Pisgah Calling

My experience with Pisgah riding is minimal- aside from 1.5 ORAMM races, I’ve never gone there. I’ve always had a few friends in the area, though, and I get to read all about their adventures via Facebook, blog, and oral history. It sounds like a fun place to ride- very much like Syllamo, except on a more grand scale.

I’d mulled over the idea of going to the Pisgah 111k instead of Syllamo’s Revenge. All of my Memphis friends go to Syllamo, and it’s my “home court.” However so, I feel drawn to the idea of a new race on unfamiliar trails. Then, to sweeten the pot…

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A series of Pisgah Productions races that includes Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race,  Pisgah 111K M, Pisgah 55.5K, Pisgah Monster Cross Challenge, and Pisgah Double Dare (dates, etc. are on the Registration Page). It sounds like a bunch of fun, and the races fit into my schedule well.

The big thing that’s keeping my finger off of the registration button at the moment is lack of a partner for the two “Adventure Race” events (PMBAR and Double Dare). I would love to partner up with a local(ish) person for those two races so I could complete the entire series. I don’t have a preference of male vs. female partner as long as it’s a tough person. Tough can make up for a healthy dose of speed (though a combination of both would be nice).

If you (or anyone you know) would be interested, click on one of those social media links over in the right sidebar and let me know.

Bike for Sale/Training in the Rain

First off, I’ve posted it on Facebook, but I’ll put it here, too. I’m selling my Air9 Carbon CYA frame and RDO rigid fork. It’s out of total vanity- I want a Moondust color frame.

Air9 Carbon CYA Frame- I got this particular frame back in September of 2011, and I’ve had it set up singlespeed since then. The frame is a small, and includes headset bearings, eccentric bottom bracket, a PF90 insert (new in box), and shift upgrade kit. I included a pic of a scuff on the top tube where my brake lever hit it. Other than that, any other scratches are very minor.
Carbon RDO Fork- The fork is very lightly used. I trained on it a little over last winter (not much since I was getting ready for Worlds 2012 and mostly riding my CX bike), used it at Cohutta 100, then took it off. It probably has less than 200 miles on it (104 of those being Cohutta). The RDO fork has a tapered steertube and 15mm thru-axle.

Asking price $1100 for the set. If you’re just interested in one or the other, you’re welcome to make an offer, but I’m not quite as keen to make such a sweet deal on one as I am for both. How sweet is this deal? Well, retail on all of these things new is $2650 (frame/frame parts/fork). If you’re local, I’ll even drive it over to your house. Not local? We’ll work something out on the shipping…

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Over the weekend, the weather turned foul again, with more rain moving in and temperatures plummeting overnight Saturday. I found myself doing “hour of power” workouts in a downpour both days (in addition to some extra trainer time Sunday morning). The 40/raining ride wasn’t as bad as you’d think. It was a combination of not being out for an incredibly long time (1.5 hours) as well as having a good rain jacket and fenders. It was also the maiden voyage on my kickass Industry Nine tubeless road wheels, which automatically made everything at least 5% more awesome.

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The wheels really do kick ass. With tubeless valves and rim strips, they are exactly 1500g. If you’re looking for a reference, my Mavic Ksyrium SLS wheels were 1490g with valves. The most noticeable difference between the two? The I9 rim is HUGE. They make my CX tires ride more like a MTB tire, which is great for sliding around in the mud. I can’t wait to put them on my road bike once ‘cross season is over.

Sunday’s training in and of itself wasn’t the most fatiguing workout possible. However, the accumulation of all of the training I’ve been doing up until Sunday made me feel pretty exhausted. My legs were on fire inside my compression tights, and when I tried to use the foam roller, I felt almost nauseous. So, in lieu of rolling, I emptied everything ice-related from the freezer into my tub and took a 15 minute ice bath.

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The first 3 minutes is the worst. After that, it’s actually pretty relieving.

Today, the recovery efforts continue. I’m going to yoga in a little bit, going for a short, easy ride, then follow it up with food, rest, and another attempt at rolling the muscles out. If all goes as planned, tomorrow is another hard two-a-day. This week will be the hardest before training backs off into tapering the following two. I’m eager to get it done and get to racing.

A whole bag of awesome

Suddenly, a bunch of cool stuff just happened on the sponsor front.

Monday evening, I received an email from Gu Energy. I’d sent the application for sponsorship off a while ago and hadn’t heard back, so I’d started to wonder. What they have to offer is more generous than I ever would have imagined, so I’m incredibly stoked to be a part of the team.

Then, Tuesday morning, I got an email from Industry Nine. My road wheels are ready, and they’re gonna be here on Thursday! Riding along in the box with my wheels will be a shiny new Endless Bikes Kickass Cog- a gold 21t. Not that I’m not already lighting off fireworks in the kitchen out of excitement over my road wheels, but the thing I’m most excited about from I9 is the new mountain wheels that will be here in another month or so. Purple hubs, purple/black/gold spokes… yeah. It will be a dream come true if those get here before my post-worlds Syllamo trip.

To polish off the “great sponsors” trifecta, the UPS man dropped off a ProGold care package, courtesy of Bruce Dickman:

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The bike wash is magical:

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In other, totally random happenings, I woke up yesterday morning and found that I had a kitchen drawer full of little black ants. After 5 minutes worth of research on the internet, I ran to Lowes for some Terro ant bait. What happened next, I can only describe as the “ant rave of doom.”  They congregated by the hundreds in the drawer and gorged themselves on poisoned sugar syrup.

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This picture is from early on. It got way more intense as the day continued. Hopefully, this is the final battle in my ant war.

Kit!

Sometime near the end of the week, this will be here from Nimblewear:

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(Huge thanks to Micheal at S2N Design for the design)

Just in time for delightful onslaught of purple accessories to hit the market:

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That last one is the X-project shoe from Pearl Izumi. It would be perfect for racing CX, but it doesn’t exist in stores yet. According to the regional rep, I’m going to have to wait ’til March. All I’m missing now is a fresh pair of black Swiftwick Pursuit 4s (best sock, EVER) to tie it all together.

Since posting the proof on my Facebook wall, I’ve had a few people make mention of wanting a Brickhouse kit for themselves. Once I get it in and see the colors/fit in person, I’ll have a better idea of when/how I’ll do a run for people who would like to buy one. It would be a slightly modified graphic (I’m guessing no one will care if theirs doesn’t say “Wilson” on the collar), and I’d take a deposit for whatever items you wanted. Kits would get here 4-6 weeks after you order, and I’d send them out once I had all of your money.

Even if I’m not the fastest woman at Worlds, I’ll surely be the best dressed.

Speaking of fastest, my training this weekend went well. After a frigid morning ride on Saturday, I lounged on the couch until later in the afternoon, when I did some 20 minute intervals on the trainer. I know a lot of people detest the trainer, but I’m finding it to be a comforting pain cave. Versus riding outside, it’s easier to maintain a steady power output, and, when I’m done with my last interval, I can sit up and pedal at 50 watts to cool down while looking at Facebook on my sweet new iPhone versus taking the energy to ride home from the roads that I typically use for intervals. It’s also a lot easier to dress. Winter laundry = hamper full in two days.
Yesterday, I did ride outside. I did the “hammer time” interval workout, where I warmup for 15 minutes, ride hard for an hour, then cool down for 15 minutes. I was getting a little tired in the last 15 minutes… thankfully, my Worlds race is only 40 min long.

“The Rules,” a gentle reminder

The trails are pretty soaked in a lot of areas of the country right now, so a lot of you are taking to the road for your training. Or, maybe (like me) you always employ a good deal of road riding in your training. Or, possibly, you are a road-only person who just likes to read my blog. Whatever it is, you should realize that there are some “unspoken” rules to road riding- especially when it comes to group rides. I figured now is a good time to cover a few that I’ve seen severely violated in the past few weeks.

Follow these simple steps to avoid looking like a douchebag:
-Safety: this is pretty easy. Obey traffic laws. Be predictable. Look way ahead and avoid obstacles so that you never need to make a sudden maneuver. This also makes the entire ride more “elegant” because you aren’t constantly yelling and pointing at crap in the road. You just follow the person in front of you, and everyone avoids everything without excess chatter.
– Nothing says, “I’m insecure with my ability to handle wind” like bringing your TT bike to a group ride. The group ride is not for time trial bikes. You don’t ride time trials with a group, so save it for your solo rides. (exception- that’s your only bike, in which case, your elbows never touch the elbow pads unless you’re leading the group or off the back of the group.)
– Nothing says, “I’m insecure with my ability to not get dropped” like riding carbon wheels during a group ride. In fact, the heavier your wheels are, the faster you look (bonus “panache” points for 32+ spokes and/or 25c tires).
– Bring your own flat repair stuff. Know how to change a flat without flatting your new tube. Women- this especially applies to you.
– Shave your legs.
-If the temperature is <50 and you’re not wearing anything on your legs other than shorts and/or you wear summer gloves, you don’t look tough. You look dumb.
– The only form of (slightly) acceptable sleeveless jersey is a previous year’s team kit with the sleeves cut off. It may only be worn if you are at least a cat 3 road racer or cat 1 MTB racer, and only when the temperature is >90 deg F.
– Nothing says I DGAF about anyone like wearing headphones on a group ride. Yes, even one headphone.
-Know when to retire your shorts. Just because they don’t have holes in them doesn’t mean the person behind you can’t see the hairs of your asscrack once you start to sweat.
– There will be one or more “senior,” well-respected, “been around forever” members of the group ride who will tell you if you’re riding in an unpredictable or otherwise incorrect manner. Whether you like what that person says or not, shut up and do what he or she says. The only time you talk back to this person is to thank them for the help/advice. I can’t stress how terrible you look when you mouth off to someone who has been racing bikes since before you were chasing cheerleader tail in high school. You know how bad kids look when they talk back to their parents and act like brats? It’s like that, except that you’re a grown man. Respect your elders. Some day, if you’re lucky, you might earn that status. ‘Til then, shut up.

Addendum: I know a lot of riders who put in big miles. That’s great if that’s your thing, but if your goal is to win road races, and you’re a cat 4 or 5, your races are nowhere near as long as the century rides you like to brag about on facebook every weekend, and they’re a helluva lot faster, too. Nothing wrong with just enjoying a full day of riding a bike at all, just don’t tell yourself (and everyone else) that’s it’s getting you prepared for the first 35 mile road race of the season.

Now, go out, ride hard, and get fast.