Night Train to Memphis

Today was my first day back to (something like) training following the build up to Mohican. It’s been a nice, chill week. I rode a couple of times, but I’ve generally kicked back and relaxed from the serious saddle time that I’ve been putting in lately. This week, it’s intervals on Tuesday & a long (ish) ride on Wednesday. Woooooohooooo!!!

Sorry, the week off has left me antsy.

I had some company on today’s ride. Last week I gave Matt the training ride assignment to ride all day and find Arkansas. I’ve always wanted to know what’s over there, so I figured it’d be good to have a scouting mission first. So, today, we made our way across the bridge to the gravel between the river and West Memphis. At one point, we found some gumbo that clogged up Matt’s urethra tires, and we decided to turn around and go back. The Memphis skyline looks pretty boss from the farmland in Arkansas…

PS- you’ve gotta actually look at the gallery photos to understand the title of the post.

 

First…

Sponsorship check.

If you enjoy reading this blog, you’ll shop at Outdoors. While you’re there, let a salesperson know that you shop there because you like that they support my racing habit. It’s a small, local company, so it really means something when they hear things like that, and it eventually gets back to powers that be that since they help me out, the store sees more customers.

Eternally grateful…

 

Oops…

If you’ve left a commented in the past couple of weeks and you’re wondering where it went, that’d be my fault. This morning, I was using my phone to look at a spam post that made it past the filter. Instead of deleting just that, I deleted a full page of comments.

That’ll teach me to moderate my blog before I have coffee in the morning…

I figured the side-cheek photo would have had more comments, anyway.

 

Mohican leftovers

I only had one “bad” wreck while on the Mohican course. It was very early in the race, and was the result of a left turn/rear wheel slide that happened so fast that I rode it all the way to the ground. The bruise on my butt is starting to turn all sorts of nice colors…

Singlespeed vs. Gears- a rant

There’s something I’ve been hearing a lot since Cohutta: “We need to get you on some gears so you can be up there with the big girls” or, “Wouldn’t you be faster if you had a geared bike?” or any number of other things along those lines. The advice is generally well-meaning, I know, but let me clue you in on a couple of things…

1) I own a geared bike. It’s f*cking awesome, and I love it.
2) It’s not my lack of 19 other gear options that’s slowing me down. It’s called “being slow” (relatively speaking, of course) that’s slowing me down. In fact, in some instances (such as the long forest road climbs @ Cohutta), being on a singlespeed made me climb faster than if I’d had a granny gear option.

So, that being said, my geared bike is staying at home until I’m damn well ready to use it. Get over it and enjoy the show.

 

Mohican 100 Race Report

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

With Amanda Carey and other NUE podium “regulars” off at the Trans-Sylvania Epic, the battle for the podium was set to be fierce for the rest of us chasing NUE points. OK, well, Cheryl Sorensen was there… and she’s generally the only one that challenges Amanda (exception- I heard Sue Haywood gave her a pretty hard run for her money at SM100 last year). I knew short of Cheryl having a major mechanical or wreck that I’d likely be battling it out with BrendaLee Simril and Laureen Coffelt for the remainder of the podium spots.

Saturday morning, I was up before the alarm on my phone went off. After a delicious breakfast of powdered eggs and french toast from the local American Legion, I went back to camp, suited up, and rode the mile or so down the local bike path to downtown Loudonville for the race start.

The race start was fast as usual. The first half mile or so is downhill before the course shoots up a ~100-150ft climb up a road out of town. In typical singlespeed fashion, I fell back at first and passed half the pack back on the first hill (I finally settled on using a 36×21, which turned out to be a slightly overzealous choice). It also meant that I passed Laureen and caught up to Brenda. I could tell that Brenda meant business when we hit the next hill, and I heard her upshift as other riders were downshifting. It was on.

Well, at least for the next mile or so.

I entered the first singletrack a few wheels back from BrendaLee. Then I ejected a bottle and had to stop for about a minute and never saw her again. Err…

The first singletrack was otherwise great. This year, with the combination of improved speed and course conditions, I wasn’t stuck behind a bunch of people walking their bikes in the difficult pitches of singletrack. I also didn’t break all sorts of parts of my bike, which is never a bad thing. I did, however, have one rear-wheel slide-out wreck (landing me an awesome goose-egg on my left ass-cheek) and also realized that I was overgeared.

Side note(s): In case you were wondering, one of the worst feelings of impending doom is realizing at mile 15 out of 100 that you’re overgeared. Also, I still stand by the statement I made last year that the hike-a-bike (in Breckenridge) known as French Gulch was the most physically difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life (doing it three times reinforced this) compared to any other hike-a-bike.

Sometime before Aid 3, I had somewhat of a  Double Rainbow moment when I crested a hill to see an amazing view of rolling farmland lit by the mid-morning sun. I realized just how fvcking lucky I was to be out there riding my bike. I mean, really… from the moment of conception, things have generally just gone right in one way or another. It’s the type of stuff you think of when you’re 40 miles into a bike race, and it’s exhilarating.

Sometime after Aid 3, I realized that the Cytomax in all of my bottles was mixed too strong. It’s the type of stuff you think of when you’re 50 miles into a bike race, and it’s nauseating. Luckily, just past the”nearly gagged when I passed an eviscerated raccoon” part of the trail, there was a water-only aid station where I topped off both bottles with plain, cold, water. Eventually after, my gut was able to function again, and I started to recover from over an hour of what felt like a near puke/bonk. I can’t say it didn’t slow me down, though. Luckily, the trail leading to the next aid included a long railroad grade that allowed me to recover a bit and get some calories down. Once I reached Aid 4, I dumped half of my cytomax bottles out and diluted them. It eventually led to me feeling (somewhat) normal.

Unfortunately, during that time, Brenda probably put a healthy chunk of her lead on me. Fortunately, Laureen didn’t catch me. After walking up part of the “gravel wall” just after Aid 5, I realized that I was inside of 20 miles from getting my first podium finish at an NUE race. It gave me the wings I needed to finish the remainder of miles despite the exhaustion and threats of cramps coming from my quads. Boom. Done. Nothing beats being on the top of the podium (literally, of course, and figuratively). However, at a race as big as anything NUE, where most entries are there to kick ass, it’s freaking amazing to get to any of the steps, even if it was behind Cheryl and Brenda. Thus… the theme song for Saturday evening, courtesy of Lady Gaga…

 

Addendum…

You may remember I recently gave you the Summertime Guide to Bike Shop Etiquette. I need to add something to this:

7. On tubulars… if you want to use tubular wheels, we would be more than happy to glue the tires for you. If, on Thursday, you bring in tubular wheels that currently have tires on them and want them stripped, re-glued,  and ready to race this weekend, we’ll do that, too, but just so you know, we’re really fvcking busy right now, and you’re guaranteeing that a mechanic stays late/comes in early to get your tires glued and other service completed. Also, we hate you. No, not really, we actually care a lot about you, which is why we hate doing a skill-sensitive thing like gluing your tires when we’re really damn busy and you’re wanting it done yesterday.

Beer tips highly recommended.

Introducing… Endo Machine

Early last year, someone abandoned a bike at the Union Avenue bike shop. When I started working there somewhere around October, the bike immediately caught my eye, and I decided to call the “owner” and inquire about it. He informed me that he’d “wised up” and didn’t want to pay that much for a bike (repairs included new wheels, cables/ housings, tune up, and tires, among other things).

We’ve dubbed it the “endo machine” since it’s a 26er with a failing headshok fork. Also, Matt endo-ed it inside the house the other night…

Indecision 100

Six days out from the Mohican 100, and I’m already feeling the pre-race crazies. At least 3 of the usual NUE badasses are at the TSE race, which runs from today until June 4th (same day as Mohican). This means that I’ll have the opportunity to scoop up some good NUE points if I can place well (I’m currently sitting 5th overall). Not that I’m totally discounting the current entries into Mohican or anything- BrendaLee Simril will be there, and she’s finished ahead of me in both NUE races so far. Also, I’m sure Laureen, just a couple of points behind me, will be looking for the opportunity to strike as well.

All of this, in addition to not knowing the course very well, leads to a little bit of singlespeeder apprehension. Last year, the course was a blur of mud and thunderstorm. I broke my rear brake lever off, then proceeded to bend and break my chain (two separate occurrences in two different spots on the chain). At the 3rd aid station, I said f*ckit and DNFd the race. Once I was home, I realized that I’d also cracked my Air9 in the process. In the meantime, I wasn’t paying attention to the course or giving singlespeeding it any thought.

This year, the forecast is looking good for fast course conditions (though, now that I’ve said that “out loud,” the city of Loudonville is doomed to a tornado on Saturday). I’m still not totally sure about gear or suspension choice, and somewhere, in the back of my mind, there’s a tiny voice saying “take the geared bike!” since what I do remember about the course is a lot of short, steep hills that will undoubtedly put me on my feet if I choose a singlespeed gear that will get me through the flat parts of the course without major spinout.

…fear not though. I’m feeding that voice a tiny glass of STFU with a side of GTFO.

In other news, the rule in the house on Friday was “no one under 30 can wear a shirt”…

 

A9C Shift-Mod Update

I almost forgot to mention…

Today I rode the Air 9 for about the 5th time since I modified the shift cable routing to include a liner through the FD side of the cable guide and a solid piece of housing though the frame. I must say, even though it’s NOT RECOMMENDED by the guys at Niner, my shifting is absolutely like butter now- fast, ultra-smooth, no half-shifts, dragging, or creaking. Here are a couple more photos to include the headbadge routing and the liner through the BB: