April 28, 2011

Climate Change: 100% Fiction.

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 8:21 am

…because it’s totally normal to have a monsoon season and a 100 year flood two years in a row.

Politics aside, I decided to take some photos of said flooding of the Wolf River this morning on my final easy ride before heading over to East Tennessee for the Cohutta 100. This year, instead of camping, I’m taking advantage of a pretty sweet package deal from Atlanta Outfitters that includes meals, showers, and two nights in a nice looking bunk for $50. Beats the heck out of a tent!

First stop on my ride was the Germantown Parkway trailhead, where I didn’t get too far before becoming distracted by a fat little snake that was enjoying the opportunity to sunbathe on the blacktop without being run over by morning trail traffic. Next, I ventured around to one of the levees that extends from the main road out to the river. There, I got some nice photos of how the water has taken over the trail. I also went for a short hike…

April 27, 2011


Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 5:18 am

In the lead-up to Cohutta, nothing is happening. Well, other than repeated storms that seem to be trying to blow/flood various parts of the Mid-south off of the map. The tornado sirens have been going off so much in the past week that I’m afraid people are not going to take them seriously when it actually matters. Luckily, I was able to get out on the road bike yesterday between storms (with the exception of a 5 minute downpour) for my tune-up ride. Everything is good. Now, all I do is wait and not drink beer for a few days and I’ll be ready to race.

So, in lieu of anything interesting that has to do with riding a bike, here are some photos from early 2007 from when I was into some trail running…

April 25, 2011

F(*^ing Awesome Grill

Filed under: non-bike,Training — Andrea @ 6:59 pm

I like my outdoor cooking appliances like I like my men.

Oh, wait, nevermind… that doesn’t make sense.

Yes, my new grill is so awesome that it deserves its own blog post. We’ve been occasionally using a little Weber kettle and dealt with it up until recently when I was forced to cook food in “shifts” since the kettle was so small. Soon after, we went shopping for something larger and found the Master Forge Jet Light… aka, the “666 grill” because of its 666 square inch grilling area. Features include “Jet Light” (a propane-powered lighting system that eliminates the need for lighter fluid or a chimney), cast iron grates, upper warming rack, and “counter” space on both sides… pure awesomeness…


In training news, Saturday’s “Cycle for Safety” ride was a trip to the pain cave and back. Sunday, I went for an easy spin on the Jet, and my legs felt leaden. Today, the trip to the chiropractor was painful because of a handful of trigger points in my upper back and shoulders, and finally, when I got to work, the first thing I managed to do was clamp my right pinky into the mechanism of the workstand. It’s likely going to result in a permanent change to my fingerprint on that finger. I also ordered a Crest rim, some DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, and a MTB Powertap hub.

Looking forward to next Saturday… Cohutta. Singlespeed.

April 21, 2011

Wednesday 2-a-Day

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 5:33 am

Yesterday’s training was broken up into separate rides so that I could get my endurance mileage in and still attend the Tiger Lane training crit in the afternoon. I had high hopes of waking up this morning and writing a blog post about training criterium glory. However, the event was rained out, so I had to take comfort in racing cars along the route to the non-race venue.

Instead, here’s a story about helping old people.

It stormed like mad Tuesday night- trees and other debris were everywhere. Wednesday morning, I was JRA (like you do when you’re getting some endurance mileage) on my way to Arlington when I passed a driveway where the garbage can had tipped over and blown about 15 feet away from the curb. I actually passed a lot of garbage cans that looked like that, except on one end of this one, a little old blue-haired lady in pajamas with curlers in her hair was trying to drag it towards the curb.

I circled back and asked her if she needed some help. She looked startled and said something about the storm and that she almost had it. Upon further inspection, there were 4 water-soaked garbage bags and a few gallons of water inside the can. I dumped it out, righted the can, threw the bags in, and wheeled it to the curb while she stood there still looking sort of stunned. When I picked my bike back up, she thanked me a couple of times and told me that she was going to have to be nicer to her one grandkid that wanted to put extra holes in his head. Uh. You’re welcome, granny.


I fvcking love two-a-days.


April 19, 2011

Back to the Ozarks

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 6:15 am

I was long overdue for a Syllamo trip. I was actually planning on it for it for a few weeks, but since Ryan was at Mississippi Grand Prix, I knew there was a chance that I’d be going at it solo, and I didn’t want to tip off you stalker types that read my blog every day. Fortunately, Matt wanted to check out the Outdoors SIR9 demo bike on some real singletrack, and we headed over friday after work.

Saturday morning, we hit the trail going reverse race direction on the blue and orange. Doing that always makes the race direction seem easier since it forces you to start with a technical decent then climb relentlessly the entire way from the Highway 5 trailhead.

You know what sucks? They’re logging on the blue trail now. A good half mile of what was the first singletrack in that direction has been opened up to “logging equipment” size. Damnit.

In climbing away from the highway, I quickly realized that geared bike riding had made me a little soft, and that I wasn’t fully over the cold I’d caught earlier in the week. Matt was also looking a little tired, so when we arrived at the White River Bluff trailhead, I suggested that we finish our ride by going up Green Mountain Road and down to Gunner Pool, then back. Along the way back, I realized that I wouldn’t get my prescribed 4 hours for the day unless I took a detour, so I bombed down to Blanchard Springs and climbed back out to polish off the day with about 4600 feet of climbing. Hopefully that one will pay off at Cohutta in a couple of weeks.

Back at the cabin, we engaged in one of my favorite past times- drinking a beer & sitting on the porch to watch the sunset. Afterward, catfish.

Sunday, I wanted to ride the entire trail loop. We started off at the Scrappy Mountain trailhead, rode the “easy” section of the yellow to the red, around the red and “hard” part of the yellow, and back to the car. I got into a fight with the rocks somewhere along the way. Rocks 1, me 0. At the car, I dropped off Matt as well as my Camelbak, which was making my back hurt (I finished the ride with one bottle, making refill stops at the jugs we dropped at the trailheads on the way in.

Highlight of the ride: cleaning the entire green trail “overlook” rock garden from end to end without putting a foot down. Me 2, rocks 1. Low point- getting chased and bitten by a swarm of horseflies while negotiating the short climbs on the orange trail. Luckily, Matt met me at the Highway 5 trailhead with bugspray so I was able to suffer in peace for the remainder of the ride.

I felt like I was flying up the last climb- a nice feeling at 5+ hours into a ride. When I made it back to the trailhead, I realized that I’d finished the loop a lot faster than my race time from last year (granted, conditions last year sucked… but it’s still a good feeling). So, I didn’t get the 6 hours that I’d planned for, but in a good way.

Syllamo’s Revenge is probably going to be the hardest race I’ll go to this year. The additional miles are going to destroy me if I start to cramp like I did at Ouachita, but hopefully this weekend leaves me a little more prepared.


April 14, 2011

Road Dose

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:41 am

Yesterday was my first day back to long endurance riding on the road bike since back around March 20th. For whatever reason, any time I go for a while without riding like that for a while, it always hurts a little more than usual the first time back. As a bonus, the workout called for 10 minutes of Z4 interval at about 1.5 and 3.25 hours into the 4 hour ride. For as much as the first one was a fun break from Z2, the second one made my blood feel like hot lead circulating through my legs. It’s both humbling and inspiring when a workout exposes weakness.

After my ride, I relaxed at home a bit, ate 2nd breakfast, and went by work to pick up one of the demo bikes to meet a customer at the trail for a test ride. I hadn’t ridden the Jet9 in a month of Sundays, so I took it out for a break from the hardtail. I’d forgotten just how much damn fun that bike is!

Because of the double-up, I took it easy this morning. Ryan woke up early to lift, so I had some coffee and hit the road pre-dawn for an easy hour before the bike-hating car commuters were packed onto the roads. Sunrises are best viewed from on top of mountains, but a suburbia sunrise from the saddle is a close contender.

Here’s the part where I get to throw in some shameless plugs with a photo featuring both my Trail LED setup and the sweet Ellsworth wheels I won at the Ouachita Challenge:

April 12, 2011

Squeal Out

Filed under: Product Reviews — Andrea @ 5:05 am

Anyone who has ridden with me knows that I’m a full-fledged victim of Avid brake warble/howl/squeal/whateveryouwannacallit. Looking for solutions, I found this thread on MTBR, which led me to believe that the noise that Avid brakes make is somewhat akin to leg cramps in that there are a lot of theories with some anecdotal evidence, but no proven, specific reasons behind why it happens.

Also found in that thread is this stuff: Squeal Out

I figured I’d give it a shot and sent the guy a private message asking for the free sample he was offering. Not long after, I got an envelope in the mail containing a Ziploc bag of gritty paste and (somewhat mis-spell/comma-ed)  instructions for application:

Against the advice of the instructions, I applied it to both brakes at the same time on my geared A9C. After that, Ryan and I went to Stanky Creek for an easy ride. Not a peep out of my brakes. Sweet! I’ll try it on the older, noisier Elixir CR brakes this morning on the SS and report back in a few weeks on the results and the long term effectiveness.

April 10, 2011

Rest Weekend Day 2

Filed under: non-bike,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 8:43 am

Someone commented on my last post to ask if I was ok… yes, I’m fine, I’m just taking the weekend easy to finish recovering from the first few early season races, the volume of training put in to getting ready for those, and the lab test I completed friday morning. I’ll be back at it soon enough with 4 hours on Wednesday and 8-10 at Syllamo next weekend.

This morning, I’m relaxing with some coffee and Paris Roubaix. All I have to say is JOOOOOOOOHAAAAAAAAN!!!!

Your photos for the day are some related to Ouachita- the pre-ride on Brushy and a couple of post-race back at home shots…

April 9, 2011

Rest Weekend

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 9:14 am

After some vigorous (and rather successful, I might add)  lab testing yesterday, I was assigned a rest weekend. So, no training related posts for you… instead, here are random photos of dogs and cats playing with each other.

April 7, 2011

Ouachita Recovery

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 6:14 am

For a couple of days following the Challenge, I didn’t want to ride. I forced myself to commute to work on the Surly on Tuesday, but other than that, I had been generally content to just try and be normal for a few days. Tuesday afternoon, Matt called me up & told me that he & Charles (another wrench from the Union Ave Outdoors store) were going to have some beers and ride their fixies around, and I was welcome to join them. Ryan (who has been having an equally hard time recovering) was hesitant, but eventually gave in and agreed to go.

In a perfect world, I’d insert photos of the story as I told it, but, well, there are a lot of photos, and WordPress is a pain in the ass in that respect, so you’ll have to read and periodically scroll down to the gallery for illustrations.

When we arrived at Matt’s, he and Charles were at the nearby corner store. They soon walked in with pre-ride provisions- Budweiser and 4Loko. Someone broke out the duct tape, and they played a quick game of Edward Beer Hands (see photo gallery below). I could have told them it was a bad idea, but it would not have mattered…

15 minutes later, Charles had verped a little bit on Matt’s carpet (and his Celebration Station t-shirt), and Matt was sitting on the floor fighting a similar urge (notice the “natures miracle” carpet cleaner in the photos of Matt at the end of the couch). Fortunately, both parties rallied and Ryan, Matt, Charles, Cathrine (Charles’ woman), and me struck out to meet Joy (future bike shop employee) and visit various drop-type spots in the area.

P.S. Natures Miracle won’t take red #5 out of carpet.

We ended up turning the night into what can only be described as a Memphis-style pub crawl. Along with the bike spots, we stopped at several corner/liquor stores along the way. The locals are awesome. However, while we’d narrowly avoided drunken disaster earlier, it came back while we were at a spot they’d deemed the “Joy Drop” (since it was the size of Joy).

Sometimes, young men and large quantities of alcohol are a bad combination.

Jokingly, I took Matt’s phone. Matt got mad, and somehow it turned into Matt and Charles nearly getting into a fistfight. After a lot of yelling and shit-flipping, Matt and Charles took their bikes and went home. We followed Matt by a few minutes only to arrive at his apartment to find a fist-sized hole in the wall and him with a bleeding hand. We spent a while talking him down. Somehow I managed to make him laugh once or twice.

While the night didn’t end well, it was encouraging that I was able to get on my bike and have a great time not trying to go as fast as possible while ignoring all signals from my body to stop. I hate that things went south for the group, but in all honesty, sometimes we all just need to let loose, yell, and punch holes in shit. Charles is, as far as I can tell, young and immature. He just makes that behavior a habit. Matt is a 39 year old trapped inside a 23 year old. Sometimes the 23 year- old Falcon Punches the 39 year old and runs amok for a while. We’re all our own brand of crazy. It happens.

Without further adieu, the night in photos…

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