Jet9 RDO.M.G.

Finally finished the build and took it for a ride- Holy wow… I knew it was going to be a great bike, but DAMN.

Last night, I could barely sleep thinking about taking it out in the morning. I woke up early and packed the car to go out for a lap at Stanky Creek. I figured I’d try the fork at 120mm and see how it felt. The start was a little tentative, but soon I was going full bore over roots and into the twisty stuff- a couple of times to the point of where I got going pretty damn fast before I realized that I was a couple of MPH over my comfort zone. I know it sounds Niner ad cliche, but holy crap does this bike climb! I didn’t use the propedal setting at all, and didn’t notice pedal bob- even when standing and “singlespeeding” it up a couple of hills.

Going this fast will take a little getting used to…

RDO- Almost…

After going to bed thinking that I’d stripped the threads of my rear triangle, I was relieved when I found this morning that I was mistaken. Since my dad always told me that I could mess up a crowbar, I’ve decided that this bike’s name is “Crowbar.” Along the same lines, the reason why I’ve built this and have not ridden it yet is because somehow, I don’t have the correct front derailleur. I’m not 100% sure I ordered the wrong one- I’m suspicious that my bottom pull was somehow mixed in to a customer’s purchase last month.

Either way, it’s going to be a few days before it’s ride-able…

Jet9 RDO size Small
SRAM X0 shifters/derailleurs/crank/cassette
Hope Race X2 brakes
Arundel side-exit carbon cage
Thomson stem/post
Chris King Headset
Niner Carbon bar
Hope Seatpost Clamp
Nokon Cable housing
KMC 10 spd SL gold chain
Selle Italia Lady SLR saddle(customized through
Notubes Crest Rims/DT Prolock brass nipples/Hope Pro II Evo hubs
Fox Talus fork


…otherwise known as “andrea has first world problems

Fool’s Gold has left me with two lingering things- The first one is a possible crack in my frame. I was in the process of tearing my bike down to wash the abrasive/destructive Georgia mountain dirt out of it, when I found this:

It looks as if the top layer of carbon under the paint/clearcoat is trying to escape, and the headbadge is separating from that side (the bond is excellent the rest of the way around). My best guess is that the headtube lug is having issues under there. Needless to say, Niner sent me a UPS label right after I called them, and the frame is on its was to Ft. Collins, CO for evaluation. Any other time of the year, this wouldn’t really be an issue. However, I’ll be leaving for the Shenandoah 100 in a week (final race of the NUE season), and I don’t plan on running gears. Fuck.

The prospect of tearing the geared bike down to run singlespeed is looming over my head. Because of the internal cable routing, it’s not a simple “derailleur removal & go” process. It’s more of a “run cable guides through my frame and hope they stay in place while I’m racing so it doesn’t take 2 hours to re-cable it once I’m done” type process. I don’t really have the time or motivation for any of it.

The other lingering malady from racing 100 miles is just being tired. I’m exhausted.  I could be better, except that I’m on my feet fixing bikes and being a housewife from 5:30am until I sit down for dinner at around 8:30pm. I’ve studied exercise physiology enough to know that the fact that I have such a job and responsibilities is making me slower.

So, yes. I’m lucky to be able to complain about this stuff, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating to me.


P.S. I said this in the comments, but it’s worth adding here- Ryan puts in his fair share of work/support/etc. I couldn’t even begin to try racing/training like I do if it weren’t for him.

Fool’s Gold Race Report- Part 2

As the neutral roll-out ended, I could see that Cheryl Sorensen and Brenda Simril were the only women ahead of me. Somewhere between the first short, steep hill and the couple of miles of downhill rollers that led to the Cooper’s Gap climb, I lost them in the crowd. According to a report from the Antique Gun Show, Cheryl stayed with the lead group and  Brenda was dropped but continued to drop the hammer with some other geared riders.

I spun steadily all the way to the base of Cooper’s Gap- 10 miles of straight-uphill awesome. The 34-21 felt easy- a good feeling to have on the first time up the first big climb of a hundie. Right on cue, I drank the last swallow out of my two bottles about a minute before I reached the first aid station. Spoiler alert- food and drink for this race were on point. I’ve figured out that if I don’t feel so full that I’m almost nauseous, that I’m not eating/drinking enough. Lucky for me, the O’Deas stocked the aid stations with Gatorade and Powerbar drink mix rather than the usual Hammer HEED.

Dear Hammer- yes, the calorie-free sweetener in HEED (Xylitol) comes from plants, which, indeed, does make it “all natural.” That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sugar alcohol, and therefore acts like a post-race roto-rooter to some people’s intestines.


Soon after the climb and slightly sketchy descent, I came to the first section of singletrack. I remembered from past Fool’s Gold races that it was pretty flowy, and found that the combination of improved skill and heroic amounts of trail work allowed me to fly through the trail like a giant pump track. I found myself grinning and giggling repeatedly. It seemed like I was at the next aid station in no time. After a quick refill, I started the long climb up Bull Mountain.

Two years ago, I thought I was going to die on Bull Mountain. Last year, torrential downpours kept speeds to a minimum (seeing as no one had brake pads at that point). This year, the aforementioned trail work made the descents (slightly) less sketchy. I had several butt-pucker moments, but made it around the Bull Mountain loop with all ribs intact. The remainder of the lap seemed easy. Unlike the previous years’ course, trailwork & good weather made the added single track fun instead of something to dread.

As the 2nd lap started, I was a little tired, but otherwise in good shape. As I headed up the Cooper’s Gap climb again, it was tough in a couple of spots. I passed a few people either walking or parked in their granny gear with their head down, taking comfort in the fact that once I was at the top, the most difficult climb of the race was over.

Then, it rained.

Rain at Fool’s Gold is more than a minor inconvenience. The composition of the soil on course makes something like liquid sandpaper, meaning it has the potential to destroy everything it rubs against. Luckily, I made it through the longest descents before the mud fouled my brake pads. Now, I’m just faced with tearing my bike down to the frame & fork seals to clean the glitter out. The rain didn’t slow me down much, though I did figure out rather quickly that metallic brake pads suck ass when they’re wet.

The last 1/4 of the course seemed to drag on forever (as they tend to do). I walked a couple of steep spots that I’d ridden on the first lap, but otherwise kept my wits about me, even though I was generally exhausted. One thing I’ve noticed in the 2nd half of races is that I rarely get passed… somewhat encouraging.

Once I made it off of the race loop, I knew I was going to make it back alive. Three more miles of pavement, and I was headed up the last hill to the finish. Another NUE podium spot in the books.



I’m in a weird spot right now- kind of like when I was in my last season of serious road racing. I’m fast compared to the usual local competition, but I don’t stand a chance with the pros, and I can’t decide if it’s motivating or discouraging. If I want to get a top 5 overall points finish in the NUE series, I’m going to have to race outside myself at Shenandoah in 2 weeks… the type of “all in” effort where I’ll either beat someone or nearly die trying.

P.S.- the “in my head” song for this race:

Fool’s Gold 100 Race Report- Part 1

Sure, it’s been a minute since I posted last, but the taper week before a race is, well, boring. I had a “tune-up” of sorts scheduled for Wednesday, but I woke up feeling pretty off, so I called it and went for an easy ride that afternoon after work.

Everything else leading up to race time went nice & smooth- Thursday, I got a jump on the 7.5 hour trip by leaving around noon to go to Nashville, where I rode the Montgomery Bell trail and crashed at Marsha’s house (I also dropped the geared A9C off with her so she could try her 1st 29er). Friday, I arrived a little early at the Hiker Hostel (favorite race lodging ever). After settling in, I went up to Montaluce Winery (new race headquarters) to pre-ride a little of the race start and pick up my number.

Breakfast at the hostel was excellent as always.

Unlike the last two years when the race began at Camp Wahsega (located at the base of the first major climb of the race), the start this year was from a winery located about 5 miles from the race loop. The race began with a 3.5 neutral rollout- nice for the singlespeeders since the majority of that section was rolling/downhill.

Time for another beer and some dinner…

The High Side

While last Sunday was a very zen battle with heat and the will to continue riding. Wednesday and today were the flipside-  repeated, leg-searing ramp intervals.

The workout goes like this:

8 minutes- starting in zone 3 (about 200 watts for me)
every minute, increase wattage
last minute should be a maximal effort (by this time, my goal is to stay over 300 watts)
rest 10 minutes, repeat 3 more times

Because of the need for a steady wattage for short periods of time, it’s best done on a perfectly flat road. My favorite is the river road in Shelby Forest- a gorgeous gem of a State Park that a lot of Memphians have no idea exists or are afraid to visit because you have to drive through Frayser to get there. The 5 miles of totally flat road lies at the bottom of the two largest hills in the county. This, along with the low traffic, heavy tree canopy, and other steep large-ish hills, make the park a haven for training. The singletrack in the park is foot-traffic only, but the terrain is similar, so it’s equally as much a haven to trail runners.

I digress.

Wednesday, I headed out to the park with Matt. He’d never tried the ramp workout, so he opted to sit on my wheel and yell at me if I slowed down. Motivation comes in many forms. My internal dialog normally ranges anywhere from “this last minute is what makes you stronger” to “you’re fat, slow, and you’ll never make it.” I told him to go totally drill sergeant on me. It was very helpful except for the part when he got dropped.

Once I was home, I took a look at my power file. My average wattage for that particular workout have generally been inconsistent. I’ll have one strong interval followed by a drop in the other intervals. This time, my first and last intervals were very close to each other with a dip in the middle.

Yesterday was the same workout, except solo. I finally felt the improvement. Each time I’d get to the hardest part, I found I was able to dig deep and pound out the extra few watts to keep going. Somewhere amidst the drool and snot, I almost smiled. The result? The average watts for all 4 intervals increased a tiny bit each time.


It’s nice to feel top end & top end endurance improving before Fool’s Gold next weekend. Hopefully it’ll get me up the climbs a little faster.

The art of appreciation- AKA, how to make your woman happy

Since I’m generally surrounded by men at both work and home, I’ve been contemplating a post like this lately, and a recent thread in the MTBR Singlespeed forum sparked me to actually do it- Since I’ve got a captive audience of guys who read here, I thought I’d write a little advice here about taking care of your woman (of course, I know there are plenty of ladies that read here, too. You’re all welcome/encouraged to chime in on the comments section).

Ask or show a guy how to take care of his bike, and he’s golden. Ask a guy how to keep his woman happy, and he’ll usually reply with some sort of confused analogy like this:


Yes, you are at least half correct. Men are simple and vile creatures (note the multiple definitions for “simple”). This alone is proof that homosexuality is not a conscious choice, otherwise we’d live in a world where most women were lesbians.

Spoiler alert- men, we really aren’t that complicated.

What women are really looking for is your attention. Any form of it. This is including, but not limited to: compliments, back rubs, expressions of your feelings on days other than feb 14th, your thanks/appreciation…

All of those are important, but that last one is a biggie. A lack of this is where so many problems can start- your woman does a small task to help you, and that goes seemingly unnoticed (either you didn’t notice or you did and thought, “well, that’s no big deal, I have no reason to make mention of it”). She won’t stop doing it. In an attempt to get your attention, she might even do it more. However, each time her help goes unnoticed, she makes a mental note. She will probably drop hints that your lack of notice is bothering her. Then, one day, you have an argument over how you always leave the toilet seat up, and she slaps you in the face with, “you don’t appreciate anything I do for you.”  You’re blindsided and confused.

Women are wired to take care of other warm-blooded beings- It’s that whole “mother instinct” thing. Remember- the same instinct that stimulates our desire to cook you dinner and do your laundry is the same instinct that will make a momma bear rip your arms off for looking at her cubs the wrong way. So, when we express our desire to take care of you, you’d best take notice.  Estrogen is a helluva drug.

We aren’t shallow (well, most of us, anyway). I’m not saying you have to shower us with gifts and cowtow to us in appreciation. A simple “thanks” and pat on the butt to show that you are pleased that you have clean underwear is plenty. Compliment us on something. Anything. Make it a goal to give your woman one honest compliment a day and see what happens.

So, no, we aren’t a single switch operation like you are. However, I just gave you the short & easy of what switches you need to flip to keep the machine from malfunctioning and causing a meltdown.




Heat? Psh.

Sunday, the entire mid-south was still under an “excessive heat warning” from the National Weather Service. I had 6 hours of riding on my schedule, and the temp would probably be over 100 by noon. If I wanted to avoid heat issues like the previous weekend, I needed a plan of attack for this one.

The strategy?

I have a 2hr loop to Arlington from my house. As boring as it sounds, I decided I’d fill the fridge with water bottles and make 3 laps of the same route with a stop at the house between laps. In doing this, I could have cold water and air conditioning- both very helpful in keeping body temperature down.

Lap 1 was easy. My pit stop at the house was short since all I needed to do was drink some ice water and swap out bottles.

Lap 2 was a little tougher. It contained the first of 2 ten-minute Z4 intervals. The challenge was to budget my energy and fueling properly during the entire ride so that my heart rate could actually come back down following the intervals. The powermeter & heart rate monitor are an integral part of pacing, and lots of experience and experimentation have gone into knowing what keeps me going on a ride like this.

My fueling strategy includes 3 bottles on each lap- 2 with blueberry pomegranate Gu Brew and 1 water. I also had a gel flask full of a mix of EFS gel and Gu Roctane gel (the EFS is very thin and contains a lot of electrolytes, so I like to mix it in to make the other gel flow easier and to get some extra salt). As I discussed in a couple of previous posts, the EFS drink mix doesn’t agree with me, so I’m not using it anymore. With the Gu Brew/gel, I can easily put down (per hour) a 24oz bottle containing 140 calories, ~150 calories of gel, and 100-200 calories of powerbar without getting a heavy feeling in my stomach.

Back at the house before lap 3, things were starting to heat up. I took a longer break and downed some ice water, an electrolyte pill (I like the Elete brand), and a Hanson’s cherry vanilla soda (made with real cane sugar!). That, along with the 15 or so minutes in the air conditioning was successful in bringing my body temperature down some before the final lap.

The final lap was very hot. I had to do one more interval, and just after it, I finished off of my fluids except for a few ounces of water. I still had about 30 minutes before I’d get home, so I decided to watch for a place to refill a bottle. Luckily, part of my route takes me through an RV/Trailer park. There was a guy filling his cooler with ice outside his RV, and I stopped to ask if I could steal some from him. He was happy to oblige, and I was on my way. The hot water inside the bottle melted the ice just enough that I had a good quantity of ice water that kept me going all the way back.

I finished in six hours, two minutes with 110 miles on the Garmin. Tired, but not absolutely dead like the last attempt. Epic layaround and meals followed… complete with lots of TV watching and a trip to Yogurt Mountain (the feather in the cap of any long-ass training week).

Singlespeed Gravel Grinding

The workout prescription for Saturday called for 5 hours singlespeed MTB riding with an intensity of Z4-5 on the climbs. When I read this, I realized that A) There’s no place in Memphis where I want to ride offroad for 5 hours, and B) there are no climbs in Memphis.

Luckily,the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains are not far away. I made plans to drive over to Lake Sylvia after work on Friday so I could get up early and complete most of my ride before the raging heat of the day was upon us (we’re in the middle of a heat wave- complete with daily triple digit temps by noon-ish). I called up Todd the Antique Gun Show, and we planned to meet at the lake around 6am.

When I arrived, Todd was already there on his bike- he’d parked 20something miles away at the Ouachita trail trailhead on highway 7 and ridden over. We started out of the lake area when Frank Webber John Karrasch passed us on his way in. We turned back to pick him up and headed back out.

Side note- Why did I think that was John Karrasch? For some reason, when Frank passed us, I though Todd said, “There’s Josh.” Then “Josh” turned into “John” in my head during the ride. John Karrasch has a beard, Frank has a beard, and in my head, they turned into the same person. I’m bad with names. Usually not that bad, though.

We headed west towards highway 7 on Brown’s Creek Road up and down a few small climbs until we finally reached Forest Road 124. It was a little bit of a beast of a climb with some grades over 15% and some slippery gravel that made SSing somewhat difficult. Once we were up most of it, we reached the intersection of FR 132 where Frank turned off to go back to his car. I continued on with Todd back to his truck to get a little more time and some cold water.

After the refill, I went back up the hill solo to take FS 132 back to my car. While none of the climbs back were incredibly long, there were plenty of steep spots that tested my will to stay on my bike rather get off an push. Two hours later, I was back at my car- final numbers? 5:15 ride time, 65 miles, and just over 6,000ft of climbing. Got some nice photos of the scenery, too, but since I’m laying around in a post-ride near-coma, I’m using my netbook, and the photos are on the other computer.

Come back tomorrow…

Edit: Photos…

Tough Choices

As some of my face-friends/fellow ORAMM racers noticed, The new, updated Outdoors, Inc. kit has made it’s debut…

(photo courtesy of Lightbox Productions)

Being the fashion-conscious individual I am, I am bothered by the prospect of wearing a black helmet with blue kit. After some searching (and Tour watching), I found that the company BBB makes a couple of nice, dark blue helmets, though I’m not sure which one I like better: the plain blue Falcon, or the Falcon “team” worn by the Euro-Pro Vacansoleil Team…

I’m not usually one to wear “team” apparel (from other teams), but I know from watching hours of Tour footage that it’s going to match my new kit. Also, I can channel thoughts of Johnny Hoogerland… the newest “tough man” of the peloton, who (in case you vacationed under a rock during The Tour) was knocked into a barbed wire fence when a media car hit his breakaway partner:


Of course, advice is what you ask for when you’ve already made up your mind. It’s always fun to ask the readers, though…