February 17, 2012

101 Bits of Life Advice- Addendum

Filed under: non-bike,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 11:55 am

The stuff we eat while we ride is horrible for our teeth (this includes you, Mr. “I eat real food.”)  Turns out, no matter WHAT you eat, if it includes sugar, and you consume it while your mouth is relatively dry, your teeth will suffer. So, this morning, I went to the dentist for a crown. They asked me if I wanted to pay $30 extra for gas, and, while I’m not particularly bothered by dental work, I agreed to it… just for giggles. The receptionist looked very uncomfortable when she asked if I didn’t mind the charge, and I commented, “not at all- most drugs cost more than that.”

I suppose my wit is not always appreciated.

Fast forward a little- I’m laid back in the Chair, nitrous taking effect, and I begin reading the “101 things to do in life” poster on the ceiling above the Chair. It included things like “leave the toilet seat down,” “send lots of valentines day cards,” “never refuse home-made brownies,” and “call your mother.” Through the expertise I’ve gained from watching the TV show Criminal Minds, I gather that the author of the poster is a slightly overweight, single, middle-aged white woman who either didn’t get along with her mother at one point or has a child that never calls.

I digress.

I think she left some valuable words of advice off of the list.

-Don’t let this (your time in the dentist’s chair) be the only time you’ve experienced mind altering drugs.
-Try yoga. You don’t have to be athletic, flexible, strong, skinny, or anything else of the sort. In fact, the worse shape you’re in, the more you’re likely to benefit. (I’m looking at you, MOM)
-Most people are jerks. Some just do a better job at hiding it.

I’m somewhat certain that I had more of these in my head while I was laying there and being subjected to various drills, impressions, and suctions, but those are the highlights.

On a totally unrelated note, I sold my geared Air9 Carbon frame and fork. If you’ve been around the internet at all lately, you’ll know why. It was ordered on Valentine’s Day- a sure-fire reminder that carbon fiber is far superior to any precious metal/gemstone conglomeration. I’ve been told it should be on its way sometime soon after the Southern Cross/Southeastern Bike Expo weekend. I can’t wait to stare at it.

Lastly, in other “taking care of your significant other” news, I’m going to be coaching Ryan. Yes, I have a coach of my own, but it’s really going to be less like coaching and more like “educated training advice.” Time will tell how well I do and how well he follows instructions.

February 16, 2012

Syllamo Training Camp 2012- Non-Solo Days

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 6:45 am

When we last spoke, Ryan had arrived at the cabin to break Ozark solitude. We watched Gold Rush and mused over how shows on TLC (a.k.a. the LEARNING channel) used to actually be educational and not just a reality TV wolf in “educational” sheep’s clothing.

Unfortunately, rained moved in Friday morning. We slept in a little, I found a yoga video on Youtube to follow, and we finally made our way out to ride forest roads in the afternoon. Not long into our ride, we started half-wheeling each other on climbs. As tired as I was from the 4 hours of rock fights the day before, our ride soon devolved into full-blown singlespeed hill-climbing fights. 2.5 hours later, we coasted back in to trailhead parking lot- exhausted, cold, and covered in gravel road mud/sand. Short, sweet, and to the point.

Friday night, Kenny showed up. Saturday, he rode singlespeed with us (his first time to ditch gears at Syllamo), and generally kicked ass and looked like he’d been singlespeeding all his life.

(P.S. Yes, Kenny wears a full-face helmet. He broke his face pretty bad once, and he’s trying to avoid a repeat performance.)

The cold weather froze a lot of the springs that normally keep some sections of trail damp. That, combined with the dry air and sunshine, made for perfect riding conditions.

Ryan, who was beaten up from both the previous day’s climbing and his general downtick in recent training volume, went back to the cabin after 3 hours while Kenny and I continued on for two more.

Somewhere in the last two hours, I noticed that I was occasionally bottoming out my front rim on sharp trail spots. I’d been experimenting with lower pressures on an Ardent 2.4, and figured I’d just gone too low when I’d let a little air out earlier. Turns out, I was running 7psi (as measured by the Topeak digital pressure gauge). I hadn’t been bumping the rim immediately after the prior air-letting, so I attribute the somewhat sudden squishiness to a sealed-over puncture.

Also in the last two hours, I started to get what I call “stage race legs.” It’s the phenomenon that occurs when you should be getting more tired, but instead, you start feeling more like a Honey Badger. It makes you feel like a sponge for training.

Dinner from Tommy’s Famous pizza (best restaurant in Mountain View) was even more delicious than usual.

Sunday morning, I found the extra brain-rotting reality TV show about Bam Maragera getting married. As obnoxious as Bam Margera and MTV are, I can’t help but relate to some of the shenanigans.

I digress.

After breakfast, Kenny and I went out for another couple of hours on the Green and Orange trails (Ryan was still feeling some back tightness, so he stayed home). I figured out that 14psi is the perfect tire pressure for an Ardent 2.4. I also realized that I’m not as slow descending on a rigid fork as I’d originally thought I was. My legs felt destroyed, so up every climb, I thought about the Breck Epic, and realized that under the layers of pain left over from 4 days of riding, my legs were stronger than ever.

Five days in Arkansas won’t be nearly as gnarly as 6 days in the Rockies.
(shameless plea/side note- the entry fee/camping fee/food fee of the Breck Epic will be slightly upwards of $1500. If you feel as though you’d be entertained by my Colorado shenanigans, feel free to send a few bucks my way on Paypal)

Riding with friends is equally as entertaining as riding solo.

Training camp 2012 was a smashing success, and I rolled back home to Memphis feeling both tired and awesome. After a little recovery time, training ramps back up for the lead-in to Southern Cross, which seems to have appeared suddenly on the race horizon in the past couple of days. Time to lay off the beer and cookies and start getting serious. Or something.



February 14, 2012

Training Camp 2012- Solo Days

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 3:07 pm

My cabin internet connection was not as reliable this trip, so rather than posting my daily Ozark adventures, I was forced to save them up for when I arrived back home to civilization.

As is often the case with my training at Syllamo, I rode alone for the first couple of days. People always comment that they can’t believe I do so, and, yes, I can see the risk involved. The Syllamo trails are slightly far flung from town, and it’s very common for me to ride out there for days and never see anyone else on the trails. The biggest risk, of course, is that I’d wreck and incapacitate myself with no help around to save me. It’s a risk I am willing to take, though, and one that I try to minimize by both riding smart and letting friends/family back home know what time I plan on being finished (always by 4:00!) with my day. I’m reasonably confident that if Ryan hadn’t heard from me by 5 or 6:00 on any solo ride day, that a search party would be out by 7.

I love riding alone.

Wednesday morning, I drove out to Mountain View, and was on the trail by 1:00. My legs were a little stiff and disagreeable when I hit the trail, so I took it easy and did a little sightseeing. One of my favorite things to do is explore old roadbeds that wander off from the trail. The one I found near the “Old Highway 5″ section of the Orange trail did not disappoint. I hope that my loved ones find just as peaceful of a place for me to be taken back into nature…


Once I was back from the side road, I did a little more gravel exploring…


Back at the cabin, Turbo and I relaxed and watched some satellite TV… which, I’m sure at some point, will rot my brain. As with all solo ventures, I take precautions to ensure safety…

Ok, the first defense/noisemaker takes a break sometimes, but check out the ears… she’s always listening.

P.S. The toaster oven at the cabin is possessed.


Friday, I didn’t take any photos. Instead, I figured out how much harder it is to ride the trails in the clockwise direction instead of race direction. I spent 4 hours fighting with the rocks and grinding up the short, steep climbs. Cold? Miserable? Maybe a little. Cathartic? Definitely. Riding solo on the most difficult routes possible in the trail system is a privilege that I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity and ability to undertake.

Friday night, Ryan arrived from his business trip in St. Louis. We watched satellite TV together so that our brains could rot in harmony. Solo riding, finished.

February 10, 2012

Famous on the Internet

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 9:52 am

Sorry I haven’t posted much the past few days, but I’m currently in the middle of Syllamo training camp 2012. I have a few nice photos, and yesterday, I did what was likely the most challenging loop I’ve ridden out here (hint- riding the loops clockwise is significantly harder than counterclockwise/race direction). I’ll post details later, though.

My real reason for posting this morning is to provide you with fine audio entertainment for your Friday in the form of an XXCmag podcast: We recorded it on Monday, and I listened to it last night. I’m happy to say, I find myself/the podcast to be quite entertaining.

If you’re reading for the first time, check the facebook/twitter links over in the sidebar. Enjoy!


February 7, 2012


Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 7:53 am

Last night I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with the guys from XXC Magazine. It was (at least for me) one of the more entertaining 90ish minutes I’ve spent talking about anything bike related. Hopefully, when the podcast is up in a few days, you’ll enjoy our bantering. I hope they ask me back on the regular.

Step 3, profit.

In other news, instead of doing the 500,359 tasks I need to do to ready myself for 5 days in Syllamo (starting tomorrow), I’m writing a blog post. It’s the classic ADHD symptom where there are so many thoughts rushing around in my head that my brain short circuits, and I end up procrastinating and doing something totally non-productive to the things I actually need to do. My plans had been to wake up, ride a little, work on Ryan’s bike a little, and head up to the Outdoors, Inc. Distribution Center to talk to the Boss Man about sponsorship/next year’s race season. So far, all I’ve done is make coffee and look at the internet. I should probably at least eat breakfast and shower before I go.

At least this morning will assure that  my day can only get more productive from here.

February 5, 2012

For Sale: Truvativ Stylo Singlespeed 180mm Crank- $50

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 8:59 am

Just to update anyone who is searching for other stuff that I’ve recently posted for sale:

-The Niner fork and BH  CX bike are sold/traded
-The SRM will hopefully sell on Ebay today.
-Next round of stuff will be up this week if I can get it done before I leave for training camp 2012 at Syllamo.

First of the next round is a Truvativ Stylo singlespeed crank. It’s a tried & true piece of equipment perfect for a budget/no frills singlespeed build or 1x conversion. The length of the crankarms is 180mm. It’s in great working condition, but it does have the usual cosmetic blemishes you’d expect on a used crank. Price does NOT include bottom bracket, but if you’re local and looking to purchase, I can arrange a good deal on one if you need it.

Email me if you’re interested: andrea @


February 3, 2012

Initial Review: Maxxis Radiale Tire

Filed under: Product Reviews — Andrea @ 10:18 am

Being road training time again, I figured I’d take a look at what road tires Maxxis had to offer (I’ve been riding their mountain tires for a while now with great success, but had never tried them for road). I found the Radiale on their site and was very interested to see what a true radial road tire would feel like.

Yesterday, I had my first chance to take them out for a longer ride. First impression once I was on the road? Holy sh*t these are smooth… like “Maxxis added Paula Deen-esque quantities of butter to molten rubber and molded these tires” smooth. If you’ve ever ridden a 25c or 28c tire with reasonably low pressure, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never ridden a 25 or 28c tire at low pressure, think of riding on an old chip seal road, only to have it feel like very recently paved asphalt. Nice thing is, at 230g, they weigh less than most 25c tires. I hit a couple of very short patches of gravel during my ride, and they felt as expected- soft, smooth, and very nice. I’m looking forward to finding some sketchier stuff on Sunday when I go out for a little century action.

I can’t totally attest to their durability right now since I’ve only ridden them once. However, the tread feels very substantial when you pinch the unmounted tire between your fingers (unlike the “tube condom” feeling of an Ultremo or other similar rubber). I’m looking forward to getting them out again for sure.


February 1, 2012

Gray’s Creek

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 8:33 am

I’ve been on a bit of a Gray’s Creek kick lately. It’s a 4-ish mile 4-wheeler trail that most people ride as an out & back along the Wolf River from Germantown Parkway towards Houston Levee Rd. Most people turn around at Gray’s Creek (hence the name of the trail). However, the 4-wheeler tracks continue down the sand bar creek bank a ways and across to the other side. The trail continues another mile to Houston Levee, but was rumored to be grown over. Yesterday, my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided I’d give it a go.

Lucky for me, the worst part about the trek was the hike upstream to the crossing, then further upstream to where the 4-wheeler tracks turned off into the woods. After that, the trail was a little rough and a little muddy, but totally passable. I did take one (unplanned) detour where the trail took an abrupt turn towards the river and dead ended at someone’s campsite:


I turned around and found the trail that continued on towards the road. It wasn’t much further before I reached the end:

The route from creek crossing to road looked something like this:


Once I was out on the main road, I turned and headed north back towards home. I took another detour (planned this time) through the woods behind Briarcrest private school, where I found a slightly creepy shrine to God and John Deere tractors:


I eventually ended up back on Macon Rd, where I took to the unfinished greenline, which, in its current state, is just an abandoned, slightly overgrown rail bed. The rocks are extra fun on the singlespeed. The entire thing was about 20 miles.


I’m happy to be back at it. Tomorrow- 3.5 hours. This weekend? Weekend Worlds and 5 hours on Sunday. W00t!

January 29, 2012

The End

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 8:33 pm

…of recovery weeks.

After a very relaxing/refreshing two weeks of doing prettymuch “whatever,” I’ve grown restless, and will resume pre-season training this week. It’s been nice. Yesterday, I tried yoga for the first time. It felt good. I’m highly likely to go back. Otherwise, I’ve generally been drinking beer and riding occasionally for an hour or two whenever I get the inkling.

Today, Ryan and I rode 4-wheeler trails out to Gray’s Creek. It was my first singlespeed ride since Thanksgiving, and turned out to be perfect inspiration to get back into the swing of race-season prep.

I love singlespeed.

Sometimes, when I haven’t ridden singlespeed in a while, I sort of forget just how awesome it is. Geared = look at an obstacle, think about shifting, think about navigating, blah, blah, blah… Singlespeed? look at an obstacle, fucking pedal. Grab the bar ends and hammer. I love bar ends…

January 26, 2012

Still not training

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 7:08 am

I’m still in a brief recovery period- I haven’t been totally off of the bike, but I’m generally just going out and screwing around whenever I feel the urge. While I’m incredibly excited to start training and racing my 2012 season, I haven’t quite reached the throes of recovery where I’m restlessly checking my training schedule in hopes that Coach has decided that it’s time to get back to work. It will happen soon, though. I’ve got a lot of work to do before Southern Cross in less than a month.

Yes, though I was questioning as to whether or not I’d race it this year because of the race’s close proximity to Worlds, I feel as though I’ve got a bit of pent up frustration due to the amount of work put in to gain fitness for the race followed by the anticlimactic nature of mechanicaling myself out of the lead group in the first lap. Southern Cross will be more than the usual suspects this year since it’s part of a larger “ultra cross” series comprised of mostly East-Coast gravel grinders. I’m not expecting to win, though I do plan on using Selene Yeager’s wheel to destroy every fiber of my being.

Before that, I’ve got training camp 2012 at Syllamo. Given the amount of volume I haven’t done this winter and the all-day nature of training at the cabin, it will be both painful and rewarding.

Other random, impending happenings? Looks like I’m going to take up yoga starting this weekend.


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