Santos #1

Sorry for not posting about my trip right away, but getting back home from a good road trip is sort of like jumping on to a running treadmill.

I left town Sunday morning to start the 11ish hour drive down to Santos.

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It could be a little shorter if I were in super kickass get-someplace mode, but, I figured if I were going to be getting to the campground after dark, I might as well take an afternoon driving break in Tallahassee to visit the Whole Foods salad bar (road trip staple).

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The drive left me with lots of time to think about all the shit I’d left at home… like a pad to sleep on and a hydration pack. I ended up going to the Ocala Walmart on my way through town and picking up an air mattress. I didn’t get a pump because I had a floor pump. In case anyone is ever wondering, a floor pump isn’t really made for inflating an air mattress.

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Once I was settled (also, in case you were ever wondering, an 8-person dome tent is marvelous if you’re car-camping/living in it for a few days), I had a snack and went to sleep.

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The first night, I also realized I’d forgotten earplugs. The Santos campground is very nice with the exception of the nearby highway and train noise. I’d picked what was probably the best site, though. I’m not giving away the number, because it’s the one I’ll reserve any time I go back.

In the morning, I searched the internet for breakfast and found a place called First Watch. It appears to be a regional chain, but it was exactly the sort of food I wanted to fuel a day of riding- hearty eggs & whatnot without being greasy at all. I ended up eating there every morning…

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After breakfast, I needed to find a hydration pack. I went to a local shop and picked up a Camelbak Lobo that could eventually replace the clapped out Hydrapack that Ryan used. I’d done plenty of internet research ahead of time and decided that my ride plan was to try and get to the Gulf of Mexico via trails and road.

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The route shown in the map above is the IMBA-designated “Epic.” A large portion of it is marked with green OMBA stickers to help you find the way out and back. Like this:

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They aren’t on the entire trail, though, so there were a few stops along the way to figure out where to go and to take some photos of the gorgeous, moss-covered live oak trees, as well as the “landbridge” over Interstate 75.

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The map above doesn’t show it, but once you get to the Ross Prairie Trailhead/Hwy 200, there is a trail that continues on to the Pruitt Trailhead. I totally lucked out in finding it, though. I saw on the map that the Limerock road kept going west from 200, so I rode north up the shoulder of hwy200 looking for it. I missed it, but happened to catch a glimpse of some orange flagging and followed that into the woods to find singletrack that was marked with more orange flags. It was a little slow-going because it was a lot newer and less groomed than the trail I’d been riding. In some spots, if it weren’t for the orange flags, I probably would have lost it into the woods.

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At the end of that trail, I realized that I was out of time to continue heading west. I wanted to find the limerock road I’d been looking for earlier, but ended up on a different road further south. It still took me back east, but I ended up in some pretty sandy spots, and I had to duck some barbed wire to get back across Hwy 200 and back into the mapped trail system. Yay, Adventure!

The fun thing about the Epic ride is that on the way back, the trails seem all downhill (a relative term, because there aren’t very many hills there). The ride back is about half an hour faster than the ride out. Lucky for me, too, because I was cutting it close on daylight.

Six hours from when I started, I pulled back into camp with just enough light to see my post-ride snack… a kinda gross-looking, but super tasty mix of rice/blueberry/chocolate/egg bar, some peanut butter, and a little granola

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Later, I went to town to my permanent dinner spot for the week and tapped out before finishing a massive burrito…

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Road Trip Time!

First off, if you aren’t already a personal friend or a “liker” of  Brickhouse Racing on Facebook, you can use the link over on the right to go to my page. I’m trying to help Poolboy Matt find a home for a puppy that was dumped with her momma and littermates in the parking lot outside his workplace. There are photos and more info on the FB page, so check it out if you’re looking for a new friend.

Now, for the good news… I’m going to Florida next week!

Let me start by saying that yes, I realize that it’s probably colder where you are than it is in Memphis. I generally deal with it pretty well and refrain from whining throughout December and January. However, it’s been colder than usual, and it seems like I haven’t seen the sun since last week sometime. Monday pushed me off the deep end… it was 33 and raining all day. Pouring, buckets of rain… All. Day. Long. The roads are falling apart with all the water, so there’s no telling what the trails are going to look like. The sun hasn’t been out since then, and the high won’t be over freezing until Saturday…

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I need to be training to race 200 miles at the end of May, and I haven’t done over a 3.5 hour ride in longer than I can remember.

So, it’s time to GTFO for a mini-training camp at the Santos trails in Ocala, Florida. Exact details TBD… but I will say that I’m missing the next batch of ice and 33 degree rain that’s scheduled to come through town next week. Daytime highs in that part of Florida are slated to be in the 70’s.

I can deal with that. I plan on riding until I’m sunburnt.

 

IMBA’s Weekend at Syllamo

This weekend, the IMBA Trail Care Crew came to Mountain View to give their presentation to the crowd who’d gathered from all over Arkansas and Missouri (and Memphis) to learn about trail building and maintenance and to lend a hand in the restoration effort for the trail itself. The “crew” is actually a couple- Jesse and Lori, from Springfield, MO. They ended up staying at the cabin (along with their friend, Mark, who’d originally planned to camp before the weather turned to cold/rain) in order to avoid crowded conditions at the USFS-provided housing.

Friday, the group worked on clearing the Red Trail. I really like doing that sort of work, but I needed to get in a training ride. So, we rode a pavement/gravel/horse trail training loop that hit some of the bigger climbs in the area. (Click the link below to see the route)

http://www.strava.com/activities/110892655

It was close to 2:30 before we were finished, and by the time we’d cleaned up and eaten lunch, the work day was wrapping up, and I was becoming one with the recliner.

Saturday started with a trailbuilding class, courtesy of Jesse and Lori. Here are a few of the high points that, from my experience, seem to be often overlooked…

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Once we were finished with class, we headed off to lunch and the hands-on part of the day. We re-routed a section of the yellow trail from an eroded, 20-25% grade, to a contour trail that hit exactly within the specifications for sustainable trail. It was amazing to watch… in the space of about two hours, a new trail was born, and the old trail was tilled and covered. It’s really cool to see what’s possible when 40-50 people put that sort of effort into the building process…

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That evening, we had a couple of drinks and grilled some steak back at the cabin to celebrate a successful work day…

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Yes, of course the only photos I took are of people cuddling with dogs.

Sunday morning, the weather was quickly turning foul. Freezing rain and snow moved in to the area around 9:00, so Matt and I GTFO’d without riding. It was a good move, because the delineation between ice and rain on the radar prettymuch trailed our route back to Memphis by about 2 hours. Jesse and Mark decided to ride a little (Lori stuck around at the warm/dry cabin), and were loading up to do so about the time we were leaving. They called from the cabin as they were leaving, and according to Mark, about 4 inches of snow had fallen between 9:30 and 2:00.

It was great to see such a huge effort and outpouring from the local community. Realistically, the Red and Yellow trails alone need at least a couple more intense weekends of work before Syllamo’s Revenge in May. However, this weekend was a great start in the rehab process.

 

Adventures in Old Dog-dom

Old Lady Turbo is 12 now (two years behind Indy, who turns 14 in May). She’s been slowly losing her hearing, and, in the past two days, I can say, in my unprofessional opinion, she’s almost all the way deaf. Normal speaking/yelling/noises get no reaction from her, though she’s still twitching her ears around a little when there’s a lot of incidental noise going on around the house… without really honing in on anything, though.

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I’d like to teach her to come when “called,” but I haven’t been able to find an appropriate training collar yet. I need one with a vibrate function (really, it could only have a vibrate function), but all of the ones I’ve found go in to “sleep” mode when the dog is inactive. She does a fair amount of sleeping/laying around staring into space, so ideally, there’s a collar out there that will still buzz even if she’s doing old dog stuff.

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She’ll be going to board at the vet’s office for the weekend since I’m heading off to Syllamo with Matt for the IMBA Trail Care weekend, and Ryan is going to the Marx-Bensdorf team party camp. She’s due for a yearly checkup, anyway, so I’m going to talk to the doc about whether her deafness is just age, or if there’s a possible underlying cause. She’s otherwise in good shape for an old lady…

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Random Recipe

I’ve been on a Kefir kick ever since I was on antibiotics for bronchitis back in December. It’s supposed to be very good for gut flora, which, according to Science, is not just about digestion, but important to your immune system as well. I started by just drinking it by the cupful as a snack, however, the plain stuff that I use (all the flavored varieties contain lots of added sugar… just like any other flavored yogurt) is a little bit of an acquired taste.  Around the same time, our old blender died and I bought a new one. So, I wanted to see how it worked for making smoothies. This is the recipe I came up with…

1 cup plain Kefir
3/4 cup Silk unsweetened coconut milk (bonus- contains Medium Chain Triglycerides)
1 cup frozen fruit- whatever is in the freezer, usually includes some blueberries
1 scoop Pure Clean Powder (I am a strong believer in the ergogenic effects of beet root juice)
1 tablespoon of almond butter
1 tablespoon of honey

Blend ’til smooth. You could add and subtract whatever you please. For example, if you want a heartier meal replacement, you could add protein powder and/or some raw oatmeal. I drink it just about every day, either an hour or so before or just after a workout. It’s light enough that within an hour or so, intense exercise is comfortable, but the protein, fat, and fiber that’s in it keep you satiated for at least 2 or 3 hours after consumption.

“Firsts of 2014″ Week

Last week was a solid week of firsts of the new year…

-First “jersey and shorts only” ride in the 62 and sunny on Monday (followed closely by…)

-First cold-weather trainer intervals of 2014 on Wednesday

-First weekend of riding trails with intermittent freeze-thaw slimed-over corners (not sure if I was any better at it by the end of the weekend, but at least I got some practice!)

-First 15 hour training week of training of 2014

-First cute button-down shirt that wouldn’t fit because of the muscles I’ve grown in the last 2 months (I was equally stoked and disappointed- it was a white shirt covered in -OMG!- little hot pink bicycles)

-First nosebleed…

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(sustained via an inadvertent bonk during practice… not a nose ring-related incident as someone on FB suggested. It hurt a lot less than the time I face-planted into a tree)

-First of several physical therapy sessions to continue the search for a diagnosis of the sciatic nerve issues that are causing toe and leg pain during long rides. As I mentioned before, last week’s MRI showed no disc herniation (though it did reveal a degenerating L5/S1 disc, unrelated to the sciatic issues).
I went to a PT this week to treat a possible entrapment of the nerve within my hamstring. He found some of what he called “muscle banding” at the origin of the pain in my leg, and, before he attempts dry needling to release it, he wants me to try nerve gliding… essentially “flossing” the nerve through the muscle to break up anything that’s preventing the nerve from moving smoothly though the muscle while I ride. He said that if that’s part of what’s causing my issues that the nerve glide exercise could make it feel worse… which it did, so I’m hopeful that we’re narrowing it down.

Along with this somewhat-entertaining list, I also finalized my order of a custom ti hardtail frame from Cysco, ordered a drivetrain for it, and made plans for a little parts swapping between my full suspension and my Air9 Carbon Singlespeed that will eventually net in two complete bikes for sale (the Air9 RDO as it sits as well as the Singlespeed with various parts from the FS that I’m replacing to lighten it up a bit).

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That won’t happen until the Cysco is on its way here, though. If you’re looking for a medium Air9 RDO race-ready hardtail or a small, similarly pimped-out singlespeed, then keep an eye out here in the upcoming months.

This week is a little more of the same- it’s stupid-cold again to start the week, so I’m sure I’ll get more time on the trainer. Hopefully the weather holds out for the upcoming IMBA weekend at Syllamo.

Training Groove

Monday, Memphis had the privilege of a 62 and sunny weather day. Though I had a day off on my training schedule, it was too nice to NOT go out and enjoy the rare January chance for a ride in a normal jersey and shorts without additional layers (SUN’S OUT, GUNS OUT!). I took the Crowbar out for what I figured would be about a 1 hour loop of the Wolf River Trail from my house. However, by the time I reached the end of the trail where it’d be just 15 minutes to the house, I’d been out an hour, and I decided to turn around and go back the way I came. Sure, I’d only brought one water bottle and no food, but I was having too good of a time. Other than my stomach growling and my head getting a little foggy a couple of miles from home, I came out more stoked than dehydrated/hungry.

Of course, the next day, the daytime high was in the 20’s with clouds and a constant 15-20mph breeze.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are quickly becoming awesome. I’ve been going to the morning Body Focus class at UFK for the past month and a half or so, and it’s starting to show. I’ve gained 2 pounds… totally cool with that, because being stronger is more fun, and I look fantastic with muscles. In the evenings, I go to the MMA class at the same place… even though it includes things like being choked with parts of your own body as well as getting lightly punched in the eye by your training partner, it’s more fun than I could possibly describe in one blog post. UPS is due to deliver a set of these to my door this afternoon:

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Yesterday, with the weather staying chilly, I opted to do my interval ride on the trainer. It was painful- my winter break came with the revoking of my keys to the wattage cottage… oof.

I’m debating right now as to whether I’ll venture to Arkansas this weekend for the Buffalo Headwaters Challenge. It’s a social ride on what sounds like some amazing trails. It’s about a 5 hour drive from Memphis, though, so, I’m weighing the options. I need 7 hours of riding this weekend, so trails outside of town could be more interesting.

Short Break from the Ordinary

My weekend activities outside of training were slightly more interesting than the usual “sit on the couch and recover” experience. Thursday at MMA class, the other girl that trains there asked if I was going to go to the V3 fights downtown on Saturday night. I wasn’t sure, because, honestly, I’m somewhat of a homebody, and being downtown for any other reason outside of a scenic bike ride is way off my radar for a multitude of reasons.

However, I later saw that the son of a close friend of mine who died unexpectedly back in the Spring of 2011, posted on Facebook that he’d be back in town (he lives in Florida now) to fight. I’ve known him since he was kind of a troubled teen, so it’s hard to express how proud I am to see him doing well for himself now with everything that he’s been through. I definitely wanted to go watch, and, in talking to Matt, found out that one of his co-workers could procure a couple of free tickets for excellent seats.

I couldn’t find any MMA-oriented people who could go, so I took Ryan along. Speaking of…

He dumped a bucket of sanitizer (from his homebrewing stuff) down Matt’s toilet earlier that afternoon. In the sanitizer was an airlock from a carboy… complete with rubber stopper (not pictured).

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When Matt returned home that afternoon, Ryan let him know what happened, but that despite the loss of the airlock, it “flushed fine.” However, Matt decided to further investigate by throwing a wad of toilet paper into the tank and flushing, which resulted in a near-overflow of the bowl. With some advice from a plumber friend of ours, they removed the toilet and retrieved the stuck airlock.

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After that “excitement,” we headed downtown. I enjoy watching MMA on TV, but seeing it live is incredibly fun. I can’t deny getting a little misty-eyed when I saw Tony get in the ring…

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Sunday was back to business as usual. I went on a MTB ride with Matt. Our original plan was to ride to the Stanky Creek trail and back, but, once we got there, the “winter shape” (lots of leaves hiding roots and greasy mud everywhere) of the trails turned out to be less than fun, so we poked around a little then headed back to finish the ride up on the Wolf River Trails (which are in excellent shape right now). It was pretty laid back since I’d beaten myself up in the comically blustery wind the day before (it was slightly unpredictable in direction and 25-30+ mph with occasional gusts).

I made it back in time to eat, grocery shop, then sit in the new couch/recliner with a mug of beer and watch football. Turbo took her last nap on the old couch, which was picked up by one of Matt’s friends as a donation to a church.

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She’ll now have to resort back to curling up in a ball on her dog bed.

 

Good News, Everyone!

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(Some of you won’t get that reference… but it’s worth it for anyone who does)

I just got home from the doctor’s office, and, the MRI shows that nothing in my lumbar spine is impinging on anything. The only thing that does show up is that my lowest lumbar vertebrae are “dry” looking… which is the start of the degenerative process (you can see in the image below that most of the cartilage discs are white, but the lowest is very dark). I’m guessing that’s why I’ve started experiencing a little stiffness in the area when I bend over or sit wrong for prolonged periods of time. Enough about that, though… I’m just really happy to have the “worst” of the possible diagnoses eliminated.

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Since he did previously find some inflammation (via ultrasound) of the bursa under my left sitbone, he still suspects that it may be the spot where my sciatic nerve is getting irritated on longer rides. However, since the pain is originating at my hamstring, we’re going to first  try to address the knots in the area that hurts with some physical therapy. If it doesn’t alleviate the issues, then we’ll go back to the pelvis with another MRI and possibly a cortisone injection into the sitbone bursa (I’ll tell you now… there are going to have to be some heavy anti-anxiety meds in place before I go in for that one if it happens).

Therapy starts next Wednesday. W00t!

Trail Heroes coming soon…

This weekend left me feeling optimistic for the plight of the Syllamo Trails.

When I originally filled out the contact form on the IMBA website and basically pleaded for help with the damaged/overgrown parts of the trail system, I never expected the entire town to get involved. However, the city of Mountain View basically exists in its current form because of tourism (it’s known for not only great trout fishing, but also for being the Folk Music Capital of the World). So, when you tell the locals that any of the tourism draws to the area are in danger of no longer being draws, they want to help… their livelihood depends on it.

We basically hit a tipping point. The handful of us (Wes Wright, Denny Hess, Frank Webber, and others in the “Syllamo Trail Cleaners” FB page) who were trying our best to fix things ourselves were entirely overfaced with the task- essentially, out of the 50 miles of singletrack, somewhere close to 20 of it is subject to severe overgrowth every summer as a direct result of logging the trees from around the trail. There’s also the basic upkeep of  removing deadfall as well as the relatively new problem of  wild hogs rooting through extensive sections of bench-cut trail, turning them in to frighteningly off-camber and loose piles of rock and leaves.

Enter IMBA and our regional representative, Steve Schneider. He and his wife, Margie, came in and immediately hit the bricks of downtown Mountain View to spread the word about the floundering of one of the towns most unknown tourist attractions. They came back last weekend, and, with the help of Wes and Denny, finalized/organized the locals’ donations of food, lodging, discounts, and all other manners of assistance for an official IMBA Trailbuilding School and extensive work weekend that’s going down a little over two weeks from now…

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IMBA Weekend Event Page

I’m excited.

 

In other news, I’m going in for an MRI today and will find out tomorrow if my toe & foot pain is a result of a herniated disc in my back. I’ll know by noon tomorrow if that’s the case.

In other, other news, MMA class is fun as all getout. We practiced jiu-jitsu last night, and, I managed a successful (albeit slightly rough around the edges) rear naked choke on a training partner when we were rolling (we won’t talk about the number of times the much more experienced guy made me tap out, but it was more than once, probably less than 5 times). I guess you can say, things are getting pretty serious…

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You know, because…

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This is basically how things go around the house on most days:

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