brickhouseracing

July 11, 2013

New Tattoo

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 6:48 am

Back before I left for Idaho, I was in No Regrets, and Joe was working on a long-term tattoo project (a dotwork half-sleeve on my left arm). There was a guest artist in the shop, and he didn’t have any appointments. So, I told Joe that I’d be willing to set something up with him, but that I didn’t really have any ideas for what I’d like. Something on my right arm/shoulder? It ended up that the guy went home early, and I didn’t get anything at the time.

While I was driving out to Idaho, I started thinking about what I’d want if I were to get a right arm tattoo. What I came up with was a play on popular doping-related tattoos from pro cycling. Back during the “heyday” of drug use in cycling, several cyclists had black/red devil tattoos on their shoulders, and, according to rumor, it was to hide bruising from injections of performance enhancing drugs.

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(example: Andreas Kloden)

Now, Adam Myerson and others have started a Clean Athletes movement, which involves a “clean” bar of soap tattoo.

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I think it’s cool (read into the website, and it’s definitely a cause I could get behind), but, I was thinking something more original, and I was already set on the upper-shoulder spot, anyway (if you see the “clean athletes” rules, your tattoo needs to be victory-salute visible). I started searching around on the internet for other symbols of cleanliness/purity, and came up with a lotus flower. So, as I drove, I filed that idea away in my head for future use.

Fast forward to the drive back on Monday. I had another tattoo appointment set up for Tuesday. Joe called and wanted to know if I still was thinking about doing something one-session-able on my right arm. I told him my idea, and, 24 hours later…

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Joe does gorgeous work! I’m hoping in the future to add to it, but, for now, I’ve got plenty of other unfinished stuff to get worked on.

 

July 9, 2013

Marathon Nationals Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 8:23 am

Friday, I laid around and watched the Tour, checked out of my hotel as late as possible, and got moving up to Ketchum. Once I was there, I had a snack, waited for a little afternoon raincloud to pass, then went out to get a feel for how the race course would start. After a short prologue loop at the ski hill base, it took to a bike path for a mile or so before turning off right and beginning the looooong climb up Mt. Baldy. Apparently, the are a is shared with the local goat hearders, because there was a temporary fence and a heard of goats over the part of the course that linked the bike path and the beginning of the forest road climb:

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Once I’d found a way around the goats, I climbed a half mile or so before getting to a gate/fence with a bunch of snowmoving/ski lift equipment behind it. It looked like the road kept going, but it wasn’t clear as to how legal it was to climb the gate. So, I turned and went back to the city and rode the pump track.

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I was feeling good. As I’d predicted, since I had spent the last two nights at 3700ft, I wasn’t feeling the effects of altitude.

Saturday morning, I went through my usual pre-race routine of coffee, breakfast, and sitting around staring off into space waiting for said coffee to take effect. It obviously wasn’t strong enough, because I ended up packing up and leaving the room on my bike without sticking my gel flask in my pocket. Fortunately, the race start area was about a 5 minute ride from my hotel, and I always arrive early enough to allow time for situations exactly like that. So, I just warmed up by spinning nice & fast to the hotel & back, getting back to the start area with plenty of time to spare.

When online registration closed, there had been 5 riders on the start list. However, registration was open Friday afternoon as well, and we’d had a late addition… Rebecca Rusch.

Oof.

My training has gone really well lately. And, while the entrants (other than RR) included women who’d beaten me in the past (Carey Lowery and another girl from Pierre’s Hole 50 last year), I was confident in my ability to hang with them this time. So, when we started, everyone was off onto the first mini-loop. I was able to hang right up with the front couple of ladies, which, at first, made me feel great. We circled around and were on the bike path in no time.

Rebecca and I were dropping everyone, and she seemed to be spinning more than me. Hmmm.

We got to the start of the climb, and she kept the hammer down. My inner dialogues yelled at each other…
OMG, RACE REBECCA!
NO. STOP THAT. DO NOT CHASE REBECCA RUSCH. BAD! NO!

The more reasonable side won out, and I watched her ride off like the world champion she is. As I got past the gate I’d stopped at before (now open), the road continued to pitch up. I stood on my gear and ground out what was probably a cadence of about 60rpms. Other singlespeeders were catching up, and everyone seemed to be pretty cozy with their gear and NOT standing up at 60rpms (except maybe one woman, who seemed to be chasing Rebecca). Carey said something to me about rolling a 32×22.

I was on 32×20.

The next hour of climbing was painful. I kept up the slow grind, all the while, passing rider after rider that had started ahead of us. Some realized that they were bringing up the rear of their field and moved immediately. Others didn’t want to let anyone by, but would eventually slow for a second and move over barely enough to squeeze by on the skinny ribbon of bench trail. Carey eventually asked to pass me… I let her go, and she spun off like nobody’s business.

How much did it hurt to have the wrong gear? Well, I sat down 4 times in the hour+ of climbing. Yeah. I counted.

At the top, I filled my bottle (I was carrying a Camelbak full of Roctane and had a bottle of plain water for drinking along with my Roctane gels & Chomps) and headed down the mountain. I descended with slight caution. Being in 4th place, I didn’t want to screw anything up by wrecking or flatting. On the way down, the two other women in my category passed me like I was sitting still. So, wrapping up lap 1, I was DFL.

As I started lap 2, I came upon the woman who was 5th. She was getting a CO2 from another rider (against the USA cycling rules) and filling her flat rear tire. As I passed, she hopped back on her bike, said something about it going low on the descent, and rode off. I have no idea if she was even carrying flat repair equipment, but I’ve learned the hard way to carry extra.

Great. I’m DFL and my competition is cheating a little.

The second time up the climb was (as expected) more painful than the first. My left foot and toes started to experience excruciating amounts of nerve pain- enough so that, about 3/4 of the way up, I had to get off of my bike and beat my left calf with my fist to make it go away enough to finish the climb. Then, as I hit one of two “kicker” climbs on the way down, the muscles behind BOTH shoulders fully cramped up. The race couldn’t be over soon enough.

Ok, so a pre-ride would have been helpful- I could have at least put my 21t cog on the back and had a slightly better time on the climb. However, I am reasonably certain that, if I’d spent the day running around at close to 6,000ft on Thursday, I would have traded the better gearing off for not feeling as good because of the elevation. The “last minute elevation” part of my race was actually a huge success. I felt great in that respect, which made it all the more frustrating that my choice of gears put me into so much difficulty. I don’t know what gear everyone else was on (except for Carey), but I’m guessing by the way they fell off so far on the bike path that they were all more spinny than myself.

So, that was a first. I’ve never finished last before. I pedaled slowly back to the hotel to clean up and recover. Later, I decided to ease the pain with some delicious Mexican food, a margarita, and downing half a pint of locally-made caramel ice cream while watching the day’s stage of the Tour.

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Bonus photo:

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July 5, 2013

Marathon Natz Road Trip Part 1

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 9:03 am

As I travel more and more, I realize why Dicky says goodbye to his blog during his trips to wherever it is Dicky goes. Even though I have at least a couple of times a day when I could probably write something, the motivation factor is pretty low. However, this morning, I’m trying to kill as much time as possible in Twin Falls (at 3700 ft of elevation) before going up to the Ketchum/Sun Valley area (5800ft).  So, I figured I might as well start to fill in on what it is I’ve been doing since Monday.

Monday was relatively boring. I drove the 10.5 hours to Hays, KS to get the first chunk of movement out of the way. Trip fueled by Three 6 Mafia Radio on Pandora…

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Tuesday, I got up and continued west to Fort Collins, where I met up with my coach for the last few years, Andy Clark. We actually hadn’t interacted in person since I’d first met him at the Winter Park Super D on my first trip to Colorado back in 2010.

We went out for a great ride that included a stop by 1 of 2  pump tracks in Ft. Collins.

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Fort Collins is someplace I’d love to spend more time. The city has embraced not only bike racing, but also bicycles as a mode of transportation for everyone- there are bike paths and bike lanes everywhere as well as (well-used) bike racks (and occasionally scooter parking places) in front of every business. Also, not only is Andy super-dad to his kid, he’s got a really adorable dog, too.

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Wednesday morning, I headed out towards Twin Falls, ID. I was on track to get there around 4:30 in the afternoon, but realized about 45 minutes from town that I’d left my cycling shoes in Andy’s garage. Needless to say, I didn’t get to Twin Falls until after 6. Between this trip and the one to Victor last year, I’ve realized that in mid-summer, Idaho is really hot, dry, and usually on fire.

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(the fields are all well-irrigated, though)

Once I arrived in Twin Falls, I took a couple of quick photos of the canyon before checking in to the hotel and going out for a ride.

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I’d noticed from the tourist-info overlook that there was what looked like a trailhead and singletrack that went from the road halfway into the canyon down to the river level (you can actually see it in the bridge photo above). I could see the trail from the trailhead then at the bottom of the canyon, but couldn’t see what was in the middle. I realized about 3 gnarly, near-vertical rock sections and one steep, narrow staircase into a hike-a-bike that, while there was not a “no bikes” sign at the trailhead, it was not a bike trail.

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(the stairs were actually the easiest part)

After hefting my bike back out of the trail, I cruised down the road to the park at the bottom of the canyon.

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As beautiful as it is, the entire area smells like sewage because of a water treatment plant that’s down there. It’s like a bathroom with sage-scented air freshener.

Thursday, I’d had all intentions of driving up to Sun Valley and pre-riding the Nationals course loop. However, one thing I’d failed to consider when I’d made my plan was that, by that time, I’d be absolutely exhausted of driving. So, instead, I went to a local breakfast place called Norm’s. I got crazy looks from the farmer clientele that filled most of the seats, but, as I realized back in Fort Collins, when I don’t get weird looks and I “fit” in with the normal crowd, I feel really awkward.

I stalked Strava and found some local trails called Auger Falls. Unfortunately, when I got down into the canyon (and past the water treatment plant), I found this:

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I climbed back out and crossed the bridge to see what was over there. I found some powdery moto trails and some very nice scenery

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After my ride, I had lunch and lounged around the hotel before picking up dinner and riding over to Cold Stone for desert before watching the city fireworks display from the hotel parking lot.

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So far, so good. Check out time isn’t until noon, so I’m gonna get a late breakfast as soon as this Tour stage is over. Without spoiling it, I’d say this is, tactically speaking, my favorite stage so far.

June 28, 2013

Yay, Summer!

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 6:29 am

I’m not sure if all of you realize it, but Swiftwick socks are, quite possibly, the best cycling socks ever invented. They have some compression to them, so they stay in place, they dry quickly, and they’re very durable. I wear the Performance Fives in the summer (they have a wide variety of styles and cuff lengths- just remember, the “four” length is the shortest acceptable cuff for cycling use. It’s the rules).
Side note- also, as part of “The Rules,” you should always wear the same length sock in order to cultivate a sharp summer tan line. Since Swiftwicks stay in place so well, they’re the best chance you have for creating lines to match the ones on your thighs and arms.

Anyway, I wear white socks on the road and black socks on the trail. However, in typical “you could mess up a crowbar” fashion, I got chain grease stains on my white socks. Not pro at all.

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Washing- even with a normal laundry pre-treater, didn’t budge the grease. I got an idea while I was washing bikes, though. I used ProGold Degreaser+Wash as a pretreater before I washed them, and, just like the chain on my bike…

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Magic.

In other road-related news, I had an underwhelming road ride fail yesterday. I set out around 8:15 in the morning with the ambition of riding 5 hours in a heat advisory by breaking the ride up into two loops with a break in the middle to cool off and refill my bottles with ice water. Unfortunately, from the first hour on, I basically became less and less able to produce any sort of power.
I did sprint very briefly when a driver right-hooked me as she turned into a parking lot for a closed down mall (she was using it to cut through to get to the nearby interstate on-ramp). If I’d not locked up my brakes, we would have hit each other. Unlike my previous post-rouge roubaix-wreck close calls that sent me cowering in the bushes in a heap of tears, this time something snapped. I sprinted after her, across the parking lot, with every intention of causing damage to her car and her person, should I catch her. She realized that she was in trouble and floored it- wailing her car over the multitude of speed bumps across the lot and turning out wildly into traffic on the other side. I was left panting on the other side of the lot like one of the angry dogs that comes screaming out of a junky house trailer  yard with all intentions of catching and destroying both you and your bike.

I digress.

The heat destroyed me yesterday. With good reason-

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A heat index of 119 is nothing to eff with. There’s nothing you can do to train outdoors as usual in that sort of condition- no amount of acclimatization, hydration, or toughness can prevent you from overheating when it’s like that because the humidity prevents sweat from evaporating off of your body, thus negating your body’s “go to” method of cooling during physical activity. So, since that sort of weather pattern is a summertime staple, I’ll be setting the trainer & fan up in the living room soon. My strategy from last summer is to do the lower intensity volume on the road then hop on the trainer as soon as I get home and polish off some intervals. It’s not the most fun way to train, but the subtropical climate is balanced out by being able to train outside for a majority of winter- something that people further north do less of because of similarly extreme winter weather. I’ll take extreme heat any day over that stuff.

ADDENDUM:

(NSFW language)

In better training news, on Tuesday I rode my singlespeed for the first time in a while. It’s not hard to fall in love with that bike again after taking a bit of a hiatus to race the geared bike for everything so far this season. The Niner Air 9 CYA frame is killer stiff. After riding the slightly toned-down RDO frame for a while, it’s like getting back into your track day-only car when your daily driver is already a Corvette. I’m excited to one-gear it up & down some mountains in the near future.

June 24, 2013

2013 Road Trip #3

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:05 am

In a week or so (haven’t totally settled on a day), I’ll be heading out West for Marathon Nationals. A few years ago, I raced my first Singlespeed race at Marathon Nationals in Breckenridge, CO. I had a good time and ended up 3rd.

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This year, with a lot more training in my legs (and likely a bigger field), I’m hoping to improve upon that. Since the course is at altitude (not super-crazy Breck altitude), I’m changing up my acclimatization strategy. I’ve come to realize that the first day I’m at altitude, I feel like a rockstar- as in, “damn, the air here isn’t totally humid, so I feel awesome and can pedal really hard.” As is expected with normal human physiology, that feeling fades after about 24-36 hours. So, for the race at Sun Valley, I’m planning on avoiding altitude until the Friday evening prior to the race. In order to do so, I’ll pre-ride a little on Thursday, but spend most of the time leading up to the race in south Idaho (3-4K ft of elevation). It’s going to involve a lot of driving , but I’m hoping it will pay off with killer race-day legs.

Afterward, I’m gonna jet back home, recover, and, along the way, contemplate as to whether or not I want to pack up and make the haul to Cross Country Nationals in Pennsylvania less than a couple of weeks later. It’s really going to depend on my results and the degree of either contentment or angst that they produce. Considering the degree of heat, humidity, and poor air quality we get around Memphis that time of summer, it’d be a nice break to go train someplace where there’s just lots of heat and humidity. Otherwise, I’ll be mixing it up on the trainer like I did last year (not so bad, really… there are much worse things than a quick morning indoor interval workout).

For now, I’m enjoying the relatively nice weather. Yesterday, I went out on what was probably, at 112 miles, my longest ride to date. Initially, I wasn’t sure how long of a route I’d need for my prescribed 6 hours, so I started off with a 100 mile course that I’d previously completed in 5 hours, 15 minutes then tacked on an extra loop at the end. I felt strong the entire time, but I’m incredibly glad that 6 hour road rides aren’t a regular thing, because I was prettymuch ready to by sitting on a couch and not a bike by about hour 5.
Side note- sure, I’ve done my share of MTB rides way over 6 hours in the course of NUE races. This goes back to my previous post about training on the road, though. During a 6 hour ride, I had 27 minutes of coasting (you can look this metric up in training peaks or any other software that allows you to see how much of your ride was at a cadence of “0″). You can’t get that amount of pedaling if you’re only riding trails.

Today I’m laying low, going to a yoga class, and sticking around the house to work on some bikes. My repaired I9 wheel is coming back today, so I’m going to set my singlespeed up in race mode and get in some non-shifting miles before Natz.

June 20, 2013

An Open Letter to Drivers

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 12:45 pm

Ok, since hopefully a lot of the people reading this are non-cyclists and have no idea who I am or what I do, I’d like to start with a little introduction of myself. I’m a professional cyclist. It’s my job to get out and train on my bike in order to do well at races and therefore sell things for my sponsors. I train about as much and as hard as any pro football player, but I get “paid” with equipment, race entry fees, travel expenses, and, occasionally, about as much money as what a pro football player makes in one hour. 99.9% of cyclists that you encounter are doing this for fun- just like you play golf, video games, lay out by the pool, read, drink alcohol… whatever. It’s a very enjoyable hobby and means of staying healthy.

First, I want to acknowledge that some people who are reading this will remain “unreachable.” This person generally falls into one of two categories- one will immediately hit the “comment” button with some sort of “I hate you, get out of here, you deserve to die” message. This person  likely goes through life expending lots of energy hating lots of things and people, including the terrible person on a road bike who he/she almost hit because he/she needed to pass NOW, and the cyclist is just “in the way” of their car.  The other sort of “unreachable” person views the road as a “motors only” zone, cyclists as idiots with death-wishes, and doesn’t believe that it’s his/her responsibility, as a driver, to watch out for slower moving vehicles (yes, a bike is a vehicle) on the roadway. This person will defend those views with the same fervor that the members of Westboro Baptist church defend their own views on who has a right to get married. If that applies to you, I’m guessing you could save your time and energy by just not reading the rest of this letter.

Now, for the 99% of you drivers out there who, based on my assumption, are normal human beings experiencing a range of normal human emotions when you, in your car, encounter a person riding a bicycle on the road. I just need your attention for a few minutes.

I’d like to start by addressing the issue of the cyclist that everyone (including law-abiding, non-jerk cyclists) dislikes. I’m talking about the guy (or girl) that’s disobeying traffic laws, running stop signs, speeding through school zones, riding the white line to get in front of traffic at stoplights, etc. Also included in this category are the groups of cyclists that erratically morph all over the roadway- often crossing the yellow line into oncoming traffic and/or taking up more than one lane on the road, and running redlights. I’m not justifying this behavior in any way, I’m just gonna say that drivers also do dumb things and break traffic laws. There’s not much that you or I can do about it, so how about we just let dumb drivers and dumb cyclists cancel each other out in this instance. Deal?
Side note- Not included in the “dumb” group are the cyclists (or groups of cyclists) that take up one single lane of the road. While it may make it harder for you, in your car, to pass (more on this in a second), it’s a self-preservation thing. If I ride in the gutter, I’m inviting you to attempt to pass me very closely when there’s oncoming traffic (a.k.a. “Buzzing” me). Getting buzzed is dangerous and freaking terrifying. It’s why there’s a law in Tennessee stating that you must move over to the left lane of the interstate for a stopped emergency vehicle. Cars coming close to your body are dangerous.

While we’re on the topic of passing, I’d like to bring up the fact that Tennessee (along with a lot of other states) has a “3-Foot Law.” It just means that you need to put 3 feet between your passenger side mirror and my body when passing. You know what, though? Only leaving 3 feet is kinda like having only the minimum amount of flair.

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If you could, when you pass, pretend like I’m the size and shape of a tractor. The big difference between me and a tractor, of course, is that if you brush up against the tractor with your car, your car gets scratched and dented. If you brush me, I could die. Just think about maybe letting off the gas and getting all the way over in the other lane. That’d be amazing, and would make everyone’s lives less stressful and a whole lot safer.

Now, I realize that this brings us to the sorest of subjects between cars and road cyclists- on a curvy/hilly/busy road, sometimes you have to wait for what seems like forever to pass. This is when I really need you, as drivers, to bear with me. I’m not going to start spouting off about “I’M A CYCLIST AND I HAVE  RIGHT TO RIDE HERE BLAH BLAH…” I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that most of you know that it’s legal to ride a bike on any roadway that isn’t marked otherwise. I’m just asking you to think of waiting to pass me by comparing the situation to other, non-car-related life situations.

For example- you’re at the grocery store, waiting in line. The lady in front of you pulls out a checkbook when it’s time to pay. The cashier doesn’t even KNOW how to deal with this because, let’s face it, who the heck still uses checks?!? It ends up taking FOREVER to make the transaction, and, all the while, other shoppers are piling in behind you and wondering why on earth the line is moving so slowly. Do you, A) Start yelling at her that she needs to get a debit card like everyone else and quit wasting your precious time, B)Pull out a gun and threaten her for being such an idiot and holding up the line, or C) Roll your eyes and wonder why anyone would use checks, but otherwise wait patiently until she gets out of the way.

Maybe you hate that lady for doing something that she KNOWS is causing everyone an inconvenience. Does it mean that you’re going to try and intimidate or threaten her for doing so? Probably not. So, let’s relate this back to the cyclist thing. There you are, stuck behind a cyclist, going 17 mph in a 40mph zone, and there are too many curves in the road to see ahead to know if it’s safe to pass. Are you going to threaten the cyclist with a deadly weapon? (yes, your car counts as a deadly weapon) Are you going to act in a way that makes the cyclist think that his/her life is at risk, just because you are getting impatient? I’d hope not.

That’s really my point. I’m not going to ask for the pipe dream of drivers and cyclists riding off into the sunset together on the back of a rainbow-unicorn-pegasus. I’m just asking that when you come across a person that irks you because they feel the need to ride a bike on the road, just don’t be a jerk. Be a decent human being who has respect for the life, hobby, and, on occasion, the livelihood of the human being that’s causing you inconvenience and getting on your last nerve.

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The Office

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 7:50 am

There’s a lot of argument all over internet message forums and facebook pages about whether or not you need to train on a road bike (or at least ride your mountain bike on the road) in order to get faster. I think that the answer is very regional, but, physiologically speaking, there’s no argument that you need to incorporate sustained, high-intensity efforts into your routine in order to be able to sustain high intensity efforts during racing. If you live in an area where your terrain and trails don’t lend themselves to that, then the answer is “road,” because no amount of “going hard” on a trail where you have to coast and negotiate your way through turns and trees (thus, interjecting “rest” into your hard efforts) will equal the effects of hard, steady road pedaling.

Of course, the argument against riding on the road is that it doesn’t improve your skill. Yes, you’re right. It doesn’t. I wasn’t trying to imply that the only sort of training a mountain biker should do is on the road, I’m just saying that if you want to be fast, you have to do steady, interval-type training. The most commonly referenced argument against this is what Gerry Pflug has to say about his training “program.” After you read that, I want you to realize that A)Gerry Pflug has an insane number of miles in his legs, and he’s likely a bit of a genetic monster to start, and B) If you look at those “2 hour rides” he talks about, I’m willing to bet that they include some sustained efforts that highly resemble steady road interval training. Of course, there are also people who live in areas where there are many options for long, sustained climbs and singletrack. Those are the people who post their gorgeous mountain overlook photos all over Facebook and Twitter (I’m looking at you, Sonya Looney). Their intervals happen while climbing 1000ft up a mountain forest road surrounded by aspen trees and brown bears (Ahem… Karen Jarchow).

Memphis isn’t one of those areas. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that, if you want to be fast, and you live somewhere that’s this urban and sub-tropical, you’re going to have to find your pain cave… or, as I like to call it, my office:

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That’s a farm road that’s only about a 15 minute ride from my house. It’s perfectly flat, and is the site of some of the best wind fights you can possibly get into (it also parallels a nice trail system that can be a good spot to warm up before exiting to the road). As part of the Agricenter, there’s some occasional tractor and pickup truck traffic (and some angry commuters in the morning), but it’s generally a place where I can go and bury myself in a sea of lactic acid without any interruptions. It’s my interval training happy place- where I go when I want to get faster.

Want to get interactive? If you’re social media-ing, tweet a photo of your office/pain cave back to @BrickhouseMTB, or tag @Brickhouseracing on Instagram. No pretty mountains allowed.

June 19, 2013

Keeping my Promise

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 6:48 am

I promised a multitude of people at Trans-Sylvania, “If I finish top 5, I’m using the prize money to buy my friend’s scooter.” I’m a woman of my word, and, as of last week, I am now the ecstatic owner of a 50cc Yamaha Vino.

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It has a top speed of about 42 mph (downhill, with a tailwind), and sounds a lot like a leafblower. I’ve put at least 300 miles on it since then, because it’s incredibly fun to drive, so I take the “scenic route” wherever I go. Sunday afternoon, I went to the grocery store that’s about a mile from the house, and somehow ended up here- about 15 miles in the opposite direction…

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I basically go everywhere on the scooter as long as it’s not raining or I don’t have to carry something large with me (like a bike, unfortunately). I have quickly figured out the art of packing the trunk and bungee cording stuff to the rack, though.

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Just prior to that last photo being taken, my dad had rallied the scooter around the pasture behind his house. Without a helmet. Speaking of, I’ve taken this opportunity to add to my helmet collection with a POC full face. I figured that at the relatively low speeds of the scooter, it offers plenty of protection, and, though it’s not a “cute” little brainbucket that a lot of people wear, it’ll keep my face cute if I ever wreck. Bonus- I can wear it if/when I go downhilling again on a bike.

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(bonus kitty in the helmet shipping box)

I can definitely say that I’m enjoying it as much as I expected. I’ve found that since I’ve spent many hours on a road bike that I’m habitually looking out for drivers who don’t see me. It’s saved me once so far. It’ll only be a matter of time before the weekend motorpacing starts.

June 17, 2013

Stanky Creek Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 12:31 pm

After a multitude of pre-rides the week leading up to Sunday, I lined up with a pretty good idea of my strategy for the race. The course begins on a part of the trail that’s very twisty with a lot of off-camber, rooty turns. It gradually gets a little bit more open as you go, but, as I posted last time, it’s generally twisty and rooty with intermittent “open up and hammer” spots punctuated by more “tight/twisty, don’t-hit-a-tree” spots.

So, when the race started, I jumped off the line to get the holeshot, then settled in to a pace just a hair under my usual “go to plaid” cross-country pace. That allowed me to conserve some energy, stay off the brakes, ride a little smoother through the first part of trail, and increase my lead on the other women by 2-3 seconds at a time with each little twisty spot. At the top of the “drop” (a short/steep, rooty downhill) on the blue trail, I estimate I had about a 10 second gap. I rode the drop at the exact speed at which I wanted to make the sweeping right-hand turn at the bottom, then dropped the hammer for a minute, and was loooong gone.

With the exception of passing some of the Cat 1/2 50+ men that started a minute ahead of us, the remaining 2 hours and 10 minutes worth of racing would be done solo. My goal then shifted to staying focused and maintaining a hard pace (something I often have trouble with when I end up by myself). I did a pretty good job, though I did “drift off” a couple of times on the 2nd lap and had to remind myself to keep on the gas. I ended up running a time of 2:23:50, which is a little over 6 minutes faster than my course time last year.

I’m super stoked to pick up the State Championship XC jersey this year.

podium

Also, it’s worth mentioning that I’m very happy with the XX1 group on the Jet (not to mention the Jet itself… freaking awesome bike for that sort of terrain). It has taken some getting used to- I still find myself sometimes shifting too many gears at once, simply because I’m used to the closer spacing on the 2×10 rear shifting. However, its function has been flawless so far. I was going to clean it up and post some photos, but I’ll gonna wait until I get my matching rear wheel back from I9 (should arrive a little later this week).

Following the race, I took the long way to the grocery store on the scooter, then headed to my parents’ house with Ryan to cook Father’s Day dinner. Since steakhouses are stupid expensive and full of other people taking their dads out to Father’s Day dinner, I brought the steakhouse to the kitchen… or something like that.

dinner

(Dry aged, grass-fed New York strip with gremolata, green beans, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes)

June 13, 2013

State Championship Weekend

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:32 am

This weekend, the Tennessee State Championship Cross country race visits the Stanky Creek trails in Memphis. The State Championship XC jersey is on my short list (along with the Criterium and Track Championships) of jerseys I need to collect. So, I’m hoping to kick some butt this weekend. My recovery is still a little weird right now, so time will tell if I can hold off any of the horsepower that comes over from the rest of Tennessee. One thing working in my favor is the course- Stank is a choppy, twisty trail that was built back in the heyday of 26 inch bikes with little to no suspension. They couldn’t roll as fast over the vast array of roots, which meant that the alternating pattern of  “on the gas & carving through trees/all over the brakes in order to make a 90 degree turn” wasn’t as big of a deal at the time.

In other words, I’m glad I’ve got a home-field advantage.

The Jet9 is rebuilt and ready to go- now with XX1 and non-squeaky derailleur housing (I was using gorgeous/creaky Nokon before). The rooty-ness of Stank makes the course very friendly to a full-suspension bike, and is actually the only trail in town where I prefer my Jet over the Air9 RDO hardtail. The only thing missing from the bike is my rear Industry 9 Trail 24 wheel, which I dented the bejeezus out of during stage 7 at TSE. In its place, I’ll be on a Hope/Crest wheel that also required a rebuild following the TSE Enduro stage. Some day I’ll learn to put some pressure in my tires and ride with a little more finesse instead of pretending that I’m piloting a monster truck.

My legs aside, one thing I’m really stoked on seeing this year leading up to the Stanky Creek XC race is the multitude of local riders who are catting up. Matt decided to make the jump from 2 to 1 after being on the fence for a hot minute (deciding factor- I reminded him that he had the skills and fitness to finish 12th overall at Syllamo and probably beat a large number of cat 1 racers in the process). Others on that train include Fullface Kenny and Carter Chappell. I’ve also seen a good amount of banter about who is racing Cat 2 this year instead of 3. It’s always fun to see people challenging themselves.

My take? Look ahead at your goals. If you know that, at some point, you definitely want to race in a certain category, then, when your fitness/skill/training make your current category the slightest bit questionable, then you should get moving to the next rung of the ladder. Intimidation and fear of failure is normal. Don’t let it get to you, though.

If you’re regional and reading this, I’d also like to bring up that this year’s race will be an equal payout race between women’s and men’s categories. Tell all your friends- especially the ones in Arkansas whose weekend XC race inside the state lines includes a women’s cat 1 race that is only billed at 2 laps while the cat 1 men race 3 laps.

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