June 15, 2012

Bike Stuff

Filed under: Around the shop — Andrea @ 9:26 am

I’ve never been one to follow all the rules, so I decided that when The A9RDO’s chain just surpassed .4mm of stretch, I’d try something other than the “mandatory” Shimano chain on the XTR drivetrain. I was shopping around and came across KMC X10SL chains. They have a super baller one in black. Seeing as I’m vain and want to make my bike as stealthy as possible, I chose that one… because, you know, the XTR one isn’t fancy enough (in addition to that, I’ve got a gold 9-spd KMC on my singlespeed that’s seen hundreds of miles and is still in excellent shape).

This thing retails for around $140. (Good thing I work in a shop, right?)

Sure, it’s a part that will eventually wear out, and, given its lightness and sexiness, possibly faster than a chain that I could purchase for $20. However, I’d like to see how the DLC (short for “diamond-like coating”) fares under the rigors of endurance training & racing. Also, it matches my bike and comes in a velvet-lined box…


I installed it this morning and went for a ride. Shifting is no different than with the XTR chain. I took a photo, but you can’t really get a feel for the sexy stealth-ness now that it’s coated in a layer of dust:


On a totally unrelated note… ANIMAL PHOTOS!!!! Everyone loves animal photos!

June 13, 2012

Don’t call it a comeback…

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:08 am

In case you’re just now joining me, here’s a little rundown of the past few months in training/racing:

Late winter/spring- got a little bit of a late start on my endurance training because of the training leading up to master’s worlds. Didn’t matter. First few races of the spring, I felt great. Killed it at Southern Cross, Spa City 6hr, Ouachita, and Slobberknocker (scroll back through the archives for race reports).
Then, at the end of April, Cohutta rolls around. First 100 of the season. I did well, but I wasn’t 100% ripping the cranks off of my bike, which is kinda how my training/tapering was supposed to set me up. It’s OK, I thought… just a little leftover “tired” from Slobberknocker.

I rested up and tried to get back to normal training a week later… only to fail miserably.

I rested some more and felt better before Syllamo. However, it was a lot like Cohutta- not bad, but definitely not Incredible Hulk-style crank bending, either. Then, at Syllamo, my brain and body shut down. More rest before Mohican.

Up to Mohican, I was better than before Syllamo. Mohican was a good race. Not my best, but not bad.

I rested some more up until last Saturday. My prescribed training was 3.5 hours easy-ish. I decided that instead of subjecting myself to a 3.5 hour road ride that I’d join Fullface Kenny for ~45miles of hauling ass through the Wolf River and Stanky Creek trails on our Jet9s. The “tired” that I felt after that ride wasn’t the oppressive, full mind/body tired… it was a satisfying sort of tired that is mainly concentrated to your legs and appetite for food, beer, and more training.

Then, yesterday, it was back to road training. As a preparation for some more XC-oriented racing, I went out to ride steady with occasional hill attacks. It went really well. I got the “rip your cranks off” feeling back as the ride progressed.

The blood lust is back.

My future plans involve a couple of regional XC races followed by Pierre’s Hole and the Breck Epic. What about the Breck 100? Well, the logistics just weren’t working out. In order to acclimate, etc. I was just going to be gone from home for too long. So, I’m narrowing the focus a little and compacting my trip West into 3 weeks instead of 6. The way I’m feeling now, I don’t think it will disappoint.

June 12, 2012

Go fast… sometimes sideways.

Filed under: Around the shop,Training — Andrea @ 11:32 am

Good lord, I haven’t posted in almost a week. That’s like, blog kryptonite, or something.

This week’s slightly bike-related post is about the often-times painfully bored existence of the stereotypical adrenaline junkie. The event that brought about this post was a short car ride. Last week at work, one of Fullface Kenny’s friends stopped by. This friend, a Porsche driving school instructor, was driving a Nissan 240. The Nissan 240 contained both a roll cage and a Chevy LS1 motor (the same one that you’ll find in a Corvette).

You see where I’m going with this…

We spent all of 5 minutes driving around the deserted back road from the shop. A large portion of that 5 minutes was spent drifting sideways and/or accelerating as fast a possible. It’s amazing what a very skilled driver can do with a very powerful machine. I spent most of the time plastered against the seat and giggling as much as I could.

According to Kenny, that’s Dude’s normal mode of driving. He gets tickets. Apparently, he once got a warning for wheelie-ing a street bike in front of a cop with a 24-pack of budweiser strapped to the tail. Why no ticket? Because the cop said that it was the dumbest thing he’d seen that day and was going to have a good time telling his buddies back at the station.  What’s the point of telling you all of this? Well, I can see a few of you shaking your heads and thinking about what a total idiot this guy is. However, also according to Kenny, the guy has worked his way up a corporate ladder and has a very respectable, clean-cut, wear-a-suit-and-carry-a-card job. I can only imagine how much stupidly fast and sideways driving it would take me to unwind from that sort of thing.

“Adrenaline Junkie” is a totally cliched and played out stereotype, but if you think about the meaning of the words, it makes unfortunate sense. For whatever reason, we belong to a subset of homo-sapiens that requires heavy doses of epinephrine on a regular basis in order to feel satisfied with life in general… very much like an individual addicted to any externally available drug, substance or action.  If you don’t get it, you experience withdrawal.


For those of us living with co-morbidities of both adrenaline junkie-ism and Attention Deficit Disorder (maybe the two go together like diabetes and high blood pressure?), normal life can sometimes start to get depressingly boring, so we do things that other people think are crazy… like driving a car really fast and sideways, riding a mountain bike at high rates of speed, or completing incredibly random expeditions via various modes of human-power.

Side note- if you look into the bikecar videos at that last link, you’ll see the one I posted a couple of months ago where the expedition was interrupted by a motorized car. Dave looks almost excited that some sort of dangerous wrench was thrown into his plans. “F*CKYEAH, EXCITEMENT!!”

Boredom is a horrible thing. It’s almost physically painful. Some people reading this will agree, others will think I need to take my Ritalin and chill out. I’m on a constant search for small bites of excitement in everyday life. Not necessarily for adrenaline-raising purposes… just mostly for “something different and awesome” purposes.

Sometimes, it’s just cool stuff that shows up at the shop:

(that bike is all Campy!)

…or outside of the shop:

(Indy caught his 2nd mole ever… he has to eventually with the number of holes he digs in the process!)

Whatever it is, when I don’t get it, I start doing crazy things like cutting my hair into a mohawk or getting a new piercing. Anything to add the edge of danger or excitement to mundane periods of life.

June 7, 2012

Always unsettled, never unnerved

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 9:45 am

Mid weeks during a recovery period following a race tend to be the most torturous… at least for me. You feel good enough to not be tired, but tired enough that you aren’t going to do anything other than a recovery ride on the bike. As a result, I just feel extra restless. Mentally and physically.

In my head, I’m ready to get back into training. If you haven’t heard, the Breck Epic is the (self -proclaimed) Single Speed Stage Race World Championship (SSSRWC) race. This is, quite possibly, the best chance I’ve ever had to win a WC, and, while it’s somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek designation, I am a junkie for rainbow stripes on my jerseys.

In my race report, I forgot to mention a fun story about a woman named Colleen. Somewhere between aids 2 and 3, we re-entered singletrack from a bit of gravel road. It was one of the slightly techy sections, and, in my haste, I spun a tire on a slick rock at the base of a steep, rocky pitch. I hopped off to push, and, as I did, I realized that there was a group of people in harnesses and helmets just off the trail to my left.
With them was a woman hanging from a short, low, zip line. (I knew there was a tourist-y zipline thing in the area but I didn’t realize that the course cut right through it). This woman was somewhat overweight, dressed one notch too nice to be out in the woods, and her coiffed and curled hair was smashed under her red bowling ball-style helmet. As I was trudging through the rocks, I heard the group leader say, “nice job, Colleen!” as she swung slowly down the line. I could be totally wrong, but she looked absolutely terrified and out of her element. She was hanging in her harness like a side of beef in a butcher’s freezer (ok, yes, I realize that sounds mean, but, at 40something miles into a race, it was the first thing that popped into my head).

At that point, I yelled, “HELL, YEAH, COLLEEN! DO IT!”

…this prompted every other racer within earshot to also encourage Colleen at the top of their lungs.

I’d like to think that Colleen spent the day conquering her fears and came out a better person on the other end of the zipline course. Maybe she decided she’d start taking more risks, and, as I type this, is doing crazy stuff like driving 5 mph over the speed limit or getting the “hot” salsa instead of “mild.” Maybe later on that night, she had the courage to flirt with Darrel… the young, good-looking new hire from down the hallway.

Or maybe she’s still finding chigger bites and hates the woods even more than she did prior to her zipline experience.

I guess the take-away message is that doing something out of your comfort zone is a risk. Taking risks can be both terrifying and life changing (in both good and bad ways). Risk-taking prevents complacency, and, in my mind, complacency is the most vile and evil thing I can think of. Complacency is the brother of “Good Enough,” who is first cousin to both “Lazy” and “Stagnant.” Risk-taking is the daughter of Challenge.

I realized that I’m not necessarily “tired” of 100 mile races, but that I’ve grown slightly complacent. I’m not good enough to battle for placing, I’m merely fit enough to ride at my own pace, which occasionally happens to be faster than a majority of competitors. I have to challenge myself to be better. It’s scary, because if I’m faster, the expectations I have for myself are that much higher, and the competitive challenges I seek out will be larger and harder. It’s what I love, though.

So, while being restless and discontent is not a comfortable acute state, it almost always breeds change for the better.

June 4, 2012

Mohican 100 Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:06 am

After polling the viewing audience and doing a lot of riding/thinking, I decided I’d go with the geared bike for the Mohican race. It was a tough choice… I love singlespeed. I realized that repeatedly on course- I’d feel a touch on envy any time I was around someone on a singlespeed. I felt like an outcast.

Saturday morning was chilly. A cold front had moved through the day before, bringing rain and a drop in temperature. Luckily, the trails had been very dry, so most of the singletrack was in great shape. (I did bring the singlespeed with me… just in case). For whatever reason, the 100k racers were started with the 100 mile racers, making for a crowded start line. I warmed up for a little while then crammed myself in to the third or fourth row back. The start is always hectic at these races, and this one is no exception. After a downhill that’s just long enough to get going over 30mph, the road goes straight up- about 300 feet of elevation gain in 3/4 of a mile. My goal for the day was to stay in the big ring and ride it like a singlespeed whenever I could.

I found myself sitting in 2nd as we entered the first trails through the woods. Thankfully, my singletrack mojo was in full effect, and I negotiated the slippery, steep spots where a lot of people were spinning or sliding out. Half an hour in, and I still feel like I’m flying. Flying enough that I almost took a wrong turn at a 3-way intersection that was at the bottom of a hill. I couldn’t see the course markings until it was too late, so I came to a full-on sliding stop about 10 feet down the wrong trail. As I turned to get back onto the correct path, Kathleen Harding, a pro from Team CF, was coming down the same hill. I yelled at her and some other riders to go right. I got back onto the trail and stayed with her group. Eventually she and I were together. I decided to keep pace with her for a while and see what happened.

Not long after that, we made it to the first aid station. I’d decided to go with 3 bottles that morning (I LOVE having a medium frame with two water bottle cages!), and I had 1.5 bottles remaining. She stopped, and I made the split-second decision to push to the next aid before refilling. (Spoiler alert- I made it to aid 2 about 5 minutes after I drank the last of my 3rd bottle).

I was alone for a little while. It was about 2.5 hours in, and I realized that I was really bored. Not acutely… the singletrack was great, and a lot of fun… but kinda bored with the whole “ride 100 miles” thing. I’d had a similar thought at Syllamo, but figured I should wait until I was having a good race before I decided I was tired of 100 mile races. Yeah. Kinda Bored.

It wasn’t long after that when I heard a commotion behind me- Brenda was coming up the trail with a train of male riders dangling on her wheel as if they thought they could keep up with the half-pint horror for another 70 miles (in case you’re wondering, of course I mean that as a compliment). She and I rode together for a little while until I struck a pedal and wrecked. She and Lee quickly disappeared up the trail. I didn’t chase. However, unlike last time, when I just didn’t care about chasing, this time, I was in such a good groove and pushing just hard enough that I just decided that I’d stick to my plan and see how it unfolded. (spoiler alert #2- she beat me by about 18 minutes)

Once I was out of the initial singletrack, I made it a point to eat and drink plenty. Even though it was going to be a mild day, I didn’t want to get behind on anything. At one point, a couple of guys rode by and told me that there was another woman not far behind me. I kept that thought in my head the remainder of the day.

As with any 100 mile race, there were chunks of the day where I wasn’t having the best time and chunks of the day that I don’t really remember. I kept chipping away at the miles, though. The wind was a little relentless, and it seemed that every time I was on the road, I was usually without a wheel to draft. The best part, though, was turning on to the (often dreaded) 9 miles of flat gravel rail trail section and getting a wicked tailwind for the first couple of miles. One of the other more notable spots was between aid 4 and 5… just before the midpoint water stop, there was a descent that was so steep that I was laying into both brakes, sliding/skidding a little, and when I hit a bump, my saddle bumped up and smacked the underside of a boob. Sure, maybe I was back a little further than I needed to be… but I wasn’t endo-ing or walking, either.

I eventually passed the final aid station and found myself in the final 5 miles of singletrack. I looked over my shoulder the entire way to the finish line. It was a good thing, too- if you watch this video on Cyclingdirt, you’ll see just how close Kathleen was…

So, I had a pretty good race and finished 3rd in 8:44- an hour faster than last year. Yes, this time, I was faster with gears. I still love my singlespeed, though.

I don’t know how bored I am with 100s. Maybe I just need to be faster so I’m doing more “racing” and less “100 mile time trial” style riding. I can’t see myself leaving them totally, because if I did, I’d miss all of the adventures and all of the awesome people that I get to hang out with before/after the race. For now, I’m gonna take a step back and prep for the Breck Epic that starts mid-August. The focus now shifts to building the speed and top-end that I’ll need to race the shorter days at altitude.

May 30, 2012

Mohican Countdown

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:17 pm

The votes from my previous Mohican post have been tallied, and, well, as always, I may or may not take the peanut gallery’s advice. You see, advice is what you ask for when you’ve already made up your mind. Often times, you probably know that the right answer isn’t necessarily the easiest answer or the safest answer, so you’re just waiting for someone to tell you that it’s OK to take the easy/safe route.

That makes it justified, right?

I digress.

I’m leaving for the Mohican 100 early Friday morning. Yeah, I know, driving 10 hours the day before a race kinda sucks, but, until I achieve awesome, baller status, it’s what I’ve got. Yesterday, I took the A9RDO out for my one and only between-race interval workout. Even though it wasn’t the most splendid and awe-inspiring set of intervals ever, I didn’t feel worn out, burned out, tired, or any of the other ways I’ve felt over the past 4 weeks. Barring another full-on brain and body meltdown like Syllamo, I think that Mohican should be good. Maybe very good. I want to be on the tall step next to Amanda.I hope my race goes something like this:


Oh yeah, In case you were wondering, I’m taking Gerry Pflug’s advice.

May 26, 2012

Another “Pearl Izumi WTF?” Moment: P.R.O. Bib Short Review

Filed under: Around the shop,Product Reviews — Andrea @ 5:22 am

Another entry to the annals of Pearl Izumi’s bad decisions when it comes to their relationship with female cyclists: The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Droptail Bib Short. It’s their top of the line model for women.

The “droptail” idea with bib shorts is a great idea. P.I. does a good job with their “Elite” model short, which has an actual waistband around the backside (the quality of the construction of the “elite” line is not that great, though). Hincapie also makes a droptail bib. It uses a simple plastic buckle in the back suspenders. It’s under your jersey, but low enough that it’s not hard to reach, and the top half has a “tail” strap that makes it easy to fish the top half back in order to get it buckled.

Enter the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. short. Through work, we get a screaming deal on certain brands… Pearl being one of them. I bought a pair, even though on the website, you can’t tell how the droptail actually works. Turns out, it uses a similar design as the Hincapie model… except that it uses bra hooks, and there’s no tail on the top strap. The closure also sits up higher under your jersey:

Let me get this straight… I’m supposed to reach under my jersey, up between my shoulder blades, and unhook those? Worse yet, once I’m done, I’m supposed to fish around under my jersey for the top half, then RE-hook that thing? I’m flabbergasted at the idiocy at work here, because it’s painfully obvious that no women were involved with the design or testing of these WOMEN’S shorts.

I returned them with a note to that effect. I received a refund, but they’ve not contacted me for feedback purposes, and I don’t really expect them to, because from my past experience with them, that’s how they roll.

May 25, 2012

Mohican 100

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 5:39 am

With the Mohican 100 one hot week away,  I know the question that’s hot on everyone’s mind right now is “wtf is wrong with you?” I still don’t know- the blood tests seemed pretty normal. I rode a little yesterday, and I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t really feel kickass, either. Tomorrow’s ride will be a little longer, so I’ll see how that goes.

Mohican is a course with short, steep climbs and lots of flat/rolling terrain between. With the distinct possibility that I could (given I feel good) place well, I’m giving some serious thought to riding it geared.

The prospect of riding a 100 on a geared bike seems really weird to me. My bikes all have their own personalities. The singlespeed is like the “comfortable sweater” boyfriend- we have a great time together, he’s always super reliable, and he doesn’t care that I accidentally farted that one time in the car and it smelled really bad. The Air9 RDO, on the other hand, is like the guy that you only call on the weekends when you’re bored and feeling adventurous. Sexy, fast, but with a crazy streak that screams, “I’ll never, EVER meet your parents.” Riding a 100 miler on that one is like suddenly taking the “weekender” out for a week-long road trip. What will we talk about after the first hour? Do I actually want to find out that he’s got a weird affinity for McDonald’s Happy Meals? What’s he gonna think when he’s subjected to my morning “sit down” in the confines of a hotel room?

It’s up to the viewing audience at this point. Go to the Facebook page and vote in the poll: In the meantime, here are the Air9 RDO photos that I never posted before:



P.S. Yeah, that headset’s looking a little rusty. Ignore that and admire the swirls of carbon goodness.

May 23, 2012

WTF my mom smells like a horse

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:27 am

Ok, not really. My mom always smells like nice perfume. But, according to my wordpress stats, someone found my blog by Google-ing that phrase. Now that’s out of the way, on to less random ramblings.

I haven’t ridden since Saturday. Normally, I’d do some easy recovery rides, but Coach put me on a 4 day vacation that ends after today. Leading in to Mohican, I’m basically recovering. It’s not ideal. In my head (and, probably to a lesser degree ,in my legs), I’m losing fitness every day. That, coupled with the uncertainty of WHY DON’T I FEEL LIKE RACING?!? has basically turned me into an emotional basketcase.

There are theories… not many ways to figure out which is correct-
A) I’m just burnt out. I don’t feel like racing because I’m tired of racing these long-ass races. The mental malaise has carried over into physical malaise.
I don’t necessarily think that’s true… I don’t feel like I’ve met my goal of “kick lots of 100 mile ass,” so it’s still very interesting to me. Where do I go after this season? I don’t know. It may not be the NUE series. It may be XC or Marathon distance racing. It may be racing geared in the NUE. I don’t know, but right now, I am 99% sure I’m not burnt out on 100s.
B) Overtraining/lack of recovery
Plausible. Why? I don’t know. I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. My training program seems solid. If anything, since ramping back into training in February, I’ve felt like I’ve wanted more. Up until Slobberknocker, I’ve felt like a sponge for training intensity- absorbing everything the bike throws at me and still feeling thirsty for more.
C)Physiological problem
Maybe I’m anemic. I started eating more high-iron foods, but maybe there’s a problem with absorption. I do experience some pretty interesting beeturia when I consume beets. This is the one thing that’s easier to figure out- I went to the Shot Nurse clinic yesterday and had blood drawn for a complete blood count. I should have preliminary results back later this morning, though, even if everything looks normal now, I wouldn’t totally drop all suspicions… blood is not a static thing. While it always consists of the same basic elements, fluctuations in hormones, electrolytes, hydration, etc. can occur and throw off the numbers.

Whatever it is, it’s frustrating. I identify as a bike racer. You take away my ability and desire to do so, and you take away a part of my being. Everything has gone so well up to this point… looking so promising… I just want this bad patch to be over so I can get back to honeybadger status…


May 22, 2012

Recovery Day Shennanigans

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 1:20 pm

I’m banned from training for 2 more days (after today), so I played photographer today while Poolboy Matt did some gnarly BMX stuff at Stanky Creek…

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