Ride, Recover, Repeat…

You gotta love having a coach that occasionally assigns training intensity as “ripping”… as in, “2hr fun ripping SS ride.” Friday morning, I woke up early and went to Stanky Creek, where I was reminded of how much flow Stanky Creek does not have. I still made it around a couple of laps, but I think I’ll take that workout elsewhere next time and cancel my tentative plans to attend the TT/XC race there next month.

Saturday morning, the Memphis Hightailers held their annual Red, White, and Blue ride. Interesting bit of “history” for you- The 2006 RW&B ride was my 2nd or 3rd real bike ride ever, and I gutted through the 64 mile route (at least doubling the mileage of my two previous rides) on 4 gels while riding a Trek Navigator hybrid bike. Thanks to the Warthogs for helping me through that one…

This Saturday, Ryan and I did not attend the RW&B ride. It seemed silly to spend $90 (45 each- not for a charity) to do a ride we’d have to ride/drive a good distance to when we have the Trinity ride nearly out our back door. So, at 7:30, we showed up at the usual meeting spot… where no one else showed up. Well, almost no one- we decided we’d ride the route alone and picked up a couple of stragglers along the way. They drafted us whilst talking obnoxiously about training zones  for the first part of the route, so once we were out of the suburbs, I picked up the pace to “STFU” intensity (with Ryan’s help, of course). We continued to throw in small attacks/hard pulls until they decided they’d turn off at the short cut spot in the route. Ryan and I continued our efforts all the way in to Arlington, where we stopped to refill our bottles then cruised home.

After lunch, we laid around with the dogs to watch the opening stage of the Tour while I laced up my new race wheels- Crest rims, DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, Prolock brass nipples, and Hope Pro II Evo hubs. At 1630g, not the lightest build in the world, but strong enough that I won’t kill them in one season.

P.S. Marley was over for dog-sitting. Indy has a new best friend. Or pillow… haven’t figured that one out yet.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to ride/spend the day with Ryan. Our work/training/racing schedules have been so different lately that it’s been rare for us to spend an entire day together, so Saturday was a refreshing departure from the usual routine.

Sunday morning, I left out early for 5.5 road hours on the MTB. I’ve put Small Block 8 cyclocross tires on it, so I can roll a lot faster than I was with the wider/heavier MTB tires. It was warm out, but I’ve got a great mid-ride water stop at the Shady Grove church in Fayette County. They have an ice-cold well water spigot that is incredibly refreshing at nearly 3 hours into a long ride.

 

Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what’s missing from my bike in the above picture…

After the ride, we had some all-you-can-eat sushi and followed it up with more laying around/napping/Tour watching. Today, we polish off the long weekend with some Tour, a recovery ride, and an afternoon 4th of July party at the house of one of Ryan’s teammates. Perfect weekend? Pretty damned close.

Not all bad news

Sorry to bum everyone out with my last post. In more and more ways, I’m finding that life experience and bike experience can occasionally parallel each other. Finding out about the death of my friend was a lot like face planting into a tree at ~12mph. What has happened since then is like the remainder of my story that day.

(you should click the link above and read it right now so that the remainder of this post makes sense… go ahead. I’ll wait)

I found out last night that my uncle is in the hospital for kidney and lung problems. Finding out about this, I felt the same way that I did on the stalled out boat that day… at that point, nothing short of the boat catching on fire and sinking was going to be any worse than going face first into mother nature’s baseball bat. In a way, I feel the same now.

I’m sad. It sucks. It sucks really, really bad. But, eventually, the boat will crank, I’ll get to shore, ice down my lip, and the wounds will slowly heal  to leave a barely perceivable scar.

 

In much happier news, RDO parts are starting to arrive. I’ve got rims, spokes, seatpost, a KMC gold chain and some other random parts waiting for me at the shop right now. I’m hoping that the order from Hope (brakes and hubs) gets here soon so I can build the wheels. I’ll post a few teaser pics once that happens.

Two things are certain in life

No eccentric bottom bracket will ever be 100% quiet.

Also, death. I very recently found out that a good friend of mine whom I’d lost touch with died last month by committing suicide. She was always the type that you wouldn’t hear from for a while, but that would eventually come around and want to meet up for lunch. She was also the type that, when I didn’t hear from her for a long time, I had a very, very bad feeling gnawing at the pit of my stomach until I finally heard the news.

I feel like somewhere, something has pulled a plug out of my body and part of me has drained out. We’re all going to die at some point, and I think, on some level, everyone is afraid of dying. We can hope, though, that at that moment, however brief and fleeting, the certainty of death brings a sense of peace and relief.

I miss you.

Slice of Life

Since Ryan has been away racing ToAD in Wisconsin, I’ve taken to trying to keep myself busy. I generally have just been riding and tinkering around with the bikes- especially the Jet9. After mentioning in my last post that I wanted to sell it and get an RDO, I was immediately contacted by Scott, the incredibly nice guy who gave me a tube back at Cohutta. The Jet now has new home as a pimpin’ new ride for his wife.

Also, I’ve placed the order for the RDO and generally planned out how it’ll get built up…

 

It’s not all about bikes, though. I’ve also been moonlighting as a hairstylist…

 

This weekend didn’t go as originally planned. The Hamilton Creek 50 was rescheduled due to heavy rain on the trails during the past week. Big kudos for the promoter for stepping up and doing the right thing to preserve the hard work that is put in to creating and maintaining a trail system. So, instead, I stuck around for an ass-kicking weekend of training.

Saturday, I figured out that “Brickhouse” is starting to mean more than the fact that I’m stouter than your average lady on a bike. This whole training/patience thing is starting to have tangible results in both racing and at the Saturday morning world championships (A.K.A, the Trinity ride). It was a hot hammerfest, but I managed to stay with the lead group. The most noticeable thing? My top end is not incredibly high. What I noticed after that? What top end power I do have just doesn’t quit. If there’s a surge or an attack, I can’t immediately match it. I can, however, fight right back in to the group as everyone is fading/settling. It happened repeatedly today. Unlike my training in the past, I finally feel like I’m on a fvcking solid foundation.

Brick by mother-effin-brick, I’m getting faster.

Today I hit the road on my A9C for 5 hours/82 hot, awesome miles. I decided to put some Small Block 8 CX tires on it so it wouldn’t be quite as slow-rolling. Matt went with me, kept me company, and was nice enough to pump my tire up a couple of times when the tube sprang a slow leak. It was painful, but my MTB legs are coming around quickly…

 

 

Brakes, Rings, and a future addition to the stable…

Just after Mohican, I ordered a shiny new Rotor Q-Ring for my singlespeed. Disclosure- like SRAM, Rotor is definitely NOT a sponsor. They gave me the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” business when I made a request last year. This was an EP (employee purchase) privilege from my place of employment (Outdoors, Inc.) who actually does sponsor me. Like I’ve said in the past- shop there, thank a sales associate for the company’s support of me. Your appreciation will be heard more than once, I promise.

I digress…
The Q-Ring sat around for a while because I was having brake issues with the R1s on the singlespeed. I still have a love/hate relationship with these brakes. The feel wonderful, but they’re terribly finicky. My rear one had a piston that would not retract all the way. It made noise during the entire race in Ohio, and I spent a good bit of time troubleshooting it when I had the chance back home. It ended up being something sticky in the master cylinder that was causing the issue. Three bleeds, some drilling, and lots of cursing later, I have a cotter pin as a pad bolt, and my brake is back to working fabulously.

With that fixed, I was finally motivated to install the Q-Ring. It’s a 34 tooth, but the diameter changes throughout the pedalstroke in order to minimize the time you spend in the “dead spot” of your stroke. No, it’s not like Biopace. Shimano Biopace was the opposite, and quite a bit more extreme. Also, no, it doesn’t require the use of a chain tensioner. There’s a definite “tight spot” in the chain, but I’ve seen normal round rings with more slack/tight than the Q-Ring.

 

I hooked it up with an 18t and rode it yesterday morning for the first time. Since I roll out to the trails on the road, the first thing I noticed is that it smooths out your “almost spun out” pedal stroke. If you’ve ridden SS on less than desirable SS courses, you know that you can spend a lot of time at that cadence. Other than a bit of added smoothness, I couldn’t tell a huge difference as far as heart rate or ease of climbing. Granted, it was an easy, flat ride. The real test will be racing this weekend with a little climbing & tech stuff to get through. Updates to follow.

In other news worth mentioning, Niner has released the Jet9 RDO (race-day optimized) carbon fiber full suspension hotness. I’m getting one. So, the Jet is officially back up for sale, though this time, it’s got Avid brakes with fancy gold hoses, as well as my nice, light set of Crest/Hope race wheels. I haven’t figured out a price yet, but it’ll be a “get it out of my garage” sort of thing for sure. I might even throw in some new 9-speed drivetrain parts to sweeten the deal. That’ll be its own post, though.

Now you know…

This weekend, while Ryan was racing the Smith and Nephew Omnium in town, I took to the road for some solo training time. Honestly, after hearing Saturday race reports from my former M&B teammates, I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be NOT road racing. I am, however, happy to be heading to Nashville next weekend for the 50 Miles of Hamilton Creek. Being a smaller, local race, I’m more just rolling it into my normal training schedule in lieu of the usual interval/endurance rides.

This weekend, though I didn’t race, was actually quite the learning experience. Well, Saturday was just a reminder…  I went out for 2×20 intervals. At the beginning of the 1st one, I was feeling amazing, and had to keep reminding myself to back off so I could maintain the same pace for the entire 20 minutes. As most good 20 minute intervals go, the pace went from feeling easy(ish) to being pretty damn hard for the last few minutes. Ok, maybe a little too hard.

I spun for 10 minutes before my 2nd interval, hit the lap button on the Garmin, and ramped the wattage back up. Err… at least for a minute or two. Within the first five minutes, I realized I’d torched my legs, and ended up with a 20 minute average power that was less “zone 4″ and more “exuberant zone 3.” Oops. Guess I need a little more practice on that one…

Sunday’s ride was equally as eye-opening. I’ve started using my geared MTB for my steady endurance rides, so I headed out for 3.5 hours of steady riding on the road. I realized over the course of that 3.5 hours that I’m horribly inefficient when it comes to riding my MTB in that manner. My pedal stroke is not very smooth, and my power output is surprisingly lower. I’m guessing this is a big part of why I’ve been experiencing cramps and unusually high levels of fatigue when racing geared.

And yes, peanut gallery- the fit of this bike is nearly identical to my road bike. I’ve taken many measurements and done lots of tweaking in order to duplicate it.

While my training experiences over the weekend have left me tired and sore, it’s always encouraging to discover specific weaknesses like I did in the last two days. I learned this from Saturday morning GI Joe cartoons…

Back to Business

The week off after Mohican was a fun one. I bathed my soul in alcohol and didn’t ride much- which is essentially a great time… until it’s not. Monday night, we polished off the week of not giving a f*** by hanging out with coworkers at Flying Saucer, where I wing-womaned for Kenny (successfully, I might add), and Ryan broke his iPhone

(more on that in a second)

The next morning, it was back to being serious. Intervals. Thousands of them. Ok, maybe just 3 really hard ones. I felt like breaking the cranks off of my bike, which is a great thing on your first day back to training, because it indicates that you rested as hard as possible. Wednesday, I decided that since I have a fancy powertap wheel and the rigid fork on my geared A9C, that I was going to start doing some of my long, steady rides on it rather than the road bike. I figure at some point, I’ll be racing it long distances, so I might as well train on it more often as well.

Oh yeah- remember the broken iPhone? We fixed it last night. I say “we” because Ryan ordered a screen, took the old one off, and installed the new one.

 

All the while, I was sitting at my computer providing life-coaching services to Matt via Facebook. Apparently, everything came apart OK, but when it came time to  re-install the 500 thousand teeny electronics screws, Ryan started to get really frustrated. Like any respectable man, he throws things when he’s frustrated, so when I heard the sound of something hitting the wall from the other end of the house, I figured it was time to step in and offer up my dexterity and patience…

It eventually all came together, and, sometime around midnight, we got to sleep.

Looking ahead? Well, the Smith and Nephew Gran Prix Omnium is this weekend, and it includes the State Championship crit. I was initially planning on poaching the crit, but then realized that I didn’t feel like ditching a week of training focused on my endurance endeavors just so I could gun for another white TN Champ jersey to add to my overflowing  collection (smirk). So, instead, it’ll be more intervals and more long rides on the MTB…

 

 

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.