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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SweepPlumbSparkerF34_3

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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.

Feed the Ego, Starve the Soul

I’m not entirely compelled to write a “New Year’s” or “I rode 6500 miles last year, blah blah blah” post here, seeing as I don’t really celebrate any holidays (it’s not just Christmas- I’m an equal opportunity grinch). I just don’t see the point in getting really drunk and staying up late in the name of “celebrating” the fact that, for at least the next 3 weeks, I’ll be writing the wrong date on any and everything. I’m just really glad that the holiday crap is all over now, people are going back to work, and thus, fewer crowds will be in the roads and stores that I need to use in order to successfully navigate my day.

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Since I last posted, things have been quiet around the house. I managed to ride outside some, though the weather has stayed pretty terrible. The thermometer is chronically stuck at 40 degrees, and I think I’ve seen the sun about twice in the last week. Luckily, one of the trails near my house is very sandy, so it drains well, and can usually be ridden after about 48 hours of drying (yeah- “drains well” is pretty relative. 48 hours is fast for Memphis winter trail drying time).

Yesterday, Ryan and I went out for a 3 hour road bike death march. No matter how fit you are, if all of your most recent rides are filled with intervals and <1.5 hours, riding steady for 3 hours at a more aerobic pace will make you ache all over. During the course of the ride, I swore off all future attempts to try and ride with anyone male unless I’m planning on riding at a pace that’s n+10% harder than what I’m planning on implementing (attempts to road ride with other women are sworn off by proxy since I found out that all Memphis women who are fit/competitive apparently dislike me). I digress.

It seems like every time I go for a ride with one or more other people (Poolboy Matt excluded), someone feels compelled to break Rule #86. Instead of just chilling the eff out and enjoying the simple fact that he’s riding a bike, this person needs to prove to everyone else that he’s faster. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, it’s not impressive. It’s obnoxious (especially since the situations I’m thinking about right now involve guys who I’ve raced against/beaten within the last year).

I’m not swearing off group rides by any means, I’m just changing my expectations from, “let’s go out and enjoy riding bikes,” to something more along the lines of, “if I ride with someone else, it is because I’m looking for a pissing contest.”

Enough ranting for now. Worlds training is chugging along, and the next 4 weeks and 1 day should prove to be some of the most challenging. Every day seems to take forever, but the weeks seem to fly.

 

Next Stop, Louisville

Prior to the State Championship Cyclocross race, I was training pretty hard for cyclocross (yeah, I know, seems like an obvious statement), but I wasn’t totally “set” on gunning for another try of the Master’s World Championship in late January. Something about winning the State race finally made it click, though.

The weather sucks pretty bad right now. We had a great run of nice weather up until early this week when the cold snow/rain started. Now, the extended forecast is pretty Belgian. Think I’m just trying to be Euro-cliche?

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So, I’ve been on the trainer. The weather-bourne necessity of riding a trainer is something that makes or breaks racers. If you blow off workouts, you don’t get faster. It’s as simple as that. While you’re skipping interval day because (like yesterday) it’s 35 degrees and raining all day, your competition is doing this:

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I put my headphones in, crank the Swedish House Mafia/Glitch Mob station on Pandora, and stare at the World Championship colors until the stripes burn into my retinas.

Along the same line, I was getting my latest ink worked on at No Regrets on Thursday, and told Joe (my artist) about the upcoming race. After a little brainstorming, we decided that if I win some stripes, he’ll fill the bottom flower of my half sleeve in the World Championship colors…

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So, motivation has been found. Big time. In the next 5 weeks, I’m going deep into the rabbit hole of lactic acid and blurred vision, and hopefully finding the podium on the other side.

In Defense of Hike-A-Bike

With Ryan out of town visiting family and Poolboy Matt off work for Christmas, we decided to make a quick pre-Christmas trip to Syllamo. Rather than the usual trail riding, I convinced Matt to join me in exploring a couple of off-trail paths that looked as if they were once “roads.” During the course of both Saturday and Sunday rides, we ended up pushing our bikes for slightly upwards of 20 minutes in order to navigate steep, overgrown, and/or deadfall-covered terrain. Matt (bless his heart) did his best to stay positive, but I could tell that he wanted to stab me in the neck with a chainring.

This brings me to my main point of this post- why are so many people so bothered by hike-a-bike???

It seems like most riders (I’ve heard it from everyone- average joe to all-out pro) hate traversing/climbing/pushing/carrying over less ride-able terrain. Why? Short of things like yellow jackets, wasps, and belligerent motorists, I can’t wrap my head around the concept of hating anything during a mountain bike outing.

In less than 1 minute, I came up with this list of 10 things worse than hike-a-bike:
– Root canal
-Rush hour traffic with lots of angry commuters
-Being late to anything
-Overcooking a really nice cut of meat
-Air conditioner out of order in the Summer
– Running out of anything important on Christmas day and all of the stores are closed
-Desk Jobs
-Homelessness
-Fast Food
– Listening to people argue politics

See? You could be experiencing any one of those things (among others), but instead, you’re out in the woods with your bike. How can that possibly be bad? (unless yellow jackets or wasps are involved) It’s like listening to road racers complain about wind or a hill or something… it’s just a “thing” that comes with the territory. Embrace it.

Hey, y’all, watch this!

A lot (ok, like, 5) people have been asking what my race plans are for next year, and I’ve generally thrown out some sort of roundabout answer that really means, “I’m not sure, but it won’t be 100’s.” When I finally asked this of myself, I figured it was time to come up with some sort of loose idea of what the 2013 season will look like.

The 100% “yes I want to do these” races:
2/16: Southern Cross
4/7: Ouachita Challenge
4/26-28: Whiskey Off-Road
5/26-6/1: TSEpic
7/6: Marathon Nationals
8/11-16: Breck Epic

Then there’s the “Race of Interest” list:
3/9: Sub9 Death March
5/4: Pisgah MTB Adventure Race
5/18: I don’t know if I want to do the Pisgah 111k or Syllamo’s Revenge. Probably Syllamo
6/2: Bump & Grind (if, for some reason, I don’t do TSE)
6/22: Hilly Billy Roubaix
7/18: XC Nationals
8/4: Tahosa (in CO the weekend before the Breck Epic starts)
9/14: Pisgah Monstercross
9/something: Pisgah stage race

That’s prettymuch all I’ve got for now. I’m wide open to suggestions. Requirements include “not a 100″ and “competitive women’s field.” Bonus points for equal payout to such a field as well as a high DNF rate. The high DNF rate is likely to tempt me more than anything else.

State Championship Cyclocross at Lock 4

The State Championship Cyclocross race always brings the power riders out of the proverbial woodwork- there’s always at least one or two women who haven’t raced a single Tennessee cyclocross race all season who will show up to take a shot at the jersey. This year was no different. The night before the race, I checked the “registered riders” list and saw Kim Flynn Fasczewski (AKA Kim “Flynnski”), who, as far as I knew, was undefeated in State Championship cyclocross (possibly all Tennessee races?). She’d kicked my butt on many occasions, but she’d also recently started a PhD program and hadn’t had as much time to train. I knew that she, along with all the rest of the horsepower in Tennessee (including Kat Williams, who, a couple of years ago, beat me on my own bike I’d let her borrow), would be incredibly tough competition.

Sunday morning, I woke up with a nearly sickening case of nerves. I knew that Kim and Kat could win (not that the other women couldn’t, also, but those two, in particular, had laid waste to me in the past). On the drive to Nashville, I was mentally preparing and reconciling with myself the possibility of placing off the top of the podium. However, I had a tiny, insistent voice in the back of my head that, no matter how much I kept telling myself “any placing is good as long as I race as hard as possible,” just kept whispering, “Screw that. You can win this.”

We arrived early so that Ryan could race the Master’s Race just before mine. I did my best to hide my nerves from everyone as I changed and prepped everything so that I could watch the start of Ryan’s race before I left to warm up. After some riding around on the road, his race was over, and I pre-rode the course. It was a demanding mix of power and handling. Both dismount sections were uphill. I practiced that at home, so I was happy to hear everyone else groan about them.

Race time. We line up. I look down at my heart rate- 124 bpm standing still.

When we’re finally off, Kim takes the holeshot, and I fall in one rider behind her. Kim, who, on top of being strong, is also an amazing bike handler, quickly puts a gap between herself and the rest of us. I jump around and get on her wheel, and, within a few turns, we’re gapping the other racers. I followed her for a lap, and, realized within a minute or two that I was very comfortable with her pace. So, at the single uphill barrier near the end of the lap, I ran past her going up the hill.

Feeling well warmed-up for it, I flew through the second lap like a madwoman. I knew I couldn’t overbrake for a corner, so I floated around them and powered up every single hill. I built about a 20 second gap during that lap, then held at 20-30 seconds for nearly the remainder of the race. Every time I wanted to rest in a less demanding section of course, I’d yell at myself in my head and, instead of shifting to an easier gear, throw in 5 hard pedal strokes. On the sections of course that doubled back on each other, I watched as Kat inched her way up towards Kim. I didn’t know if she’d catch/pass her then keep coming after me. Getting tired and slowing down wasn’t an option.

Finally, the bell lap. At that point, I just wanted it to be over. I rode it out with what I had left, and gave the most tired, relieved victory salute of my life. Ow. Looking back at lap times, I “won” the race on the second lap with a time fast enough to be near (but not on) the front of the men’s 1/2 race. I had a couple of other laps that were close to that time, but most were in the 5:40-6:00 range.

 

 

 

Bikes for sale

The only thing that’s currently on my mind is the huge rift in feelings between how outraged we are with physical violence but how, on a daily basis, people hurt each other and leave mental scars that take much longer to heal than the physical ones. Be kind.

In less emo news, Poolboy Matt has mine and Ryan’s previous road bikes on EBay. GO BUY THEM:

Ryan’s: Trek Madone 60cm w/SRAM Red

Mine: BH Connect 54cm w/SRAM Red

 

2 Weeks In

Two weeks in to the “no work” adventure (the initial pre/immediately-post time period doesn’t count since I was busy taking care of everyone else and being injured), and, not only have a settled into a routine, but it’s becoming apparent that even in such a short period of time, it’s paying off.

A lot of people have asked how my training has changed. Well, it’s just hard. To give you an example, I got on the trainer Tuesday night to do a 2nd interval workout of the day (and 6th in the span of 8 days). With State Championships this weekend, it was my last hard training before a series of recovery/tune-up workouts to get prepped for Sunday.

Actually, I didn’t do a recovery ride on Wednesday like I was scheduled. I’m still confounded by how every day seems to be a complete time vacuum, and ended up doing what I’d been putting off for several days- a lot of laundry and shopping for new bedroom furniture. Success on both fronts- the clothes are clean, and new furniture (including Tempurpedic Rhapsody mattress) will be delivered on Tuesday!

Yesterday was a Z5 “tune up” during which I realized that I’m going to go fast this weekend. I also finalized the design on the Brickhouse Racing kit from Nimblewear. Micheal from S2N Design helped (and by “helped,” I mean “did all of the work”) turn my loud, purple dreams into a houndstooth reality. Here’s a proof, though the computer screen doesn’t get the colors right AT ALL. The purple and pink are much deeper and darker on the real thing:

Today is another recovery day, to be spent going to yoga, shopping for new sheets, and cleaning the bedroom out enough that I can get the carpet steam cleaned on Monday. Onward & upward!