August 9, 2013

Road Trip #3: Dolores

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 4:45 pm

My next stop after Salida was the teeny little town of Dolores.


I stayed with my friend Lauren Hall, who, before she moved off to Colorado to become a world famous sprinter, used to live/race in Mississippi.


(no, she didn’t get that kit from

When I arrived there on Monday, Lauren was out running errands. Being a little stir crazy from the 4 hour drive, I decided to ride up to the local trail system, Boggy Draw.


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The scenery out there is gorgeous, of course, and, when I arrived back at the house, Lauren was home and getting prepped to make dinner, which was equally as amazing as the riding:


She had a dog stuff catalog on her coffee table. I ordered three of these:


Staying with a pro is always fun. On her recommendation, I started a daily beet juice regimen. She made it the first day, and it was yummy (I think it involved pretty much every fruit and vegetable in her fridge). My recipe the next day (2 beets, 4 carrots, 1 apple) was not nearly as good. Beets are kinda rough, but rumor (actually, lots of research) has it that they’ll make you faster

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I took tuesday as my one day off the bike for the trip. That morning, I drove to nearby Cortez for yoga (here’s the sky, looking angry, on the way home)


…and played around with her Compex EMS on “active recovery” mode just before bed.


Wednesday, I went back for more yoga, then hung around the house in anticipation of the afternoon group ride at Boggy Draw. Unfortunately, some afternoon rain moved in, and only a couple of people showed. The rain quickly soaked the trail, so we only made it around a small loop before bailing out. I only took a couple of photos:

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Wednesday night, we went to the Dolores River Brewery and saw a really cool band. Highlight of the night? A few people from Osprey were there, too. Lauren introduced us, we chatted about Breck Epic and whatnot, and Jeff Fox, the head marketing guy, offered to let me try one of their newest packs. It’s amazing who you can meet in a tiny bar in the middle of nowhere:

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Thursday morning, Lauren and I went to Cortez to take a tour and meet people at the Osprey headquarters:




The pack is a new one they’ve been working on. I’m looking forward to trying it out, because they’ve gone to great lengths to give it pockets that are very on-bike accessible. I’ll post some pics and info once I’ve had a chance to ride with it a few times.

After the tour, Lauren and I said our goodbyes and I headed off to Breckenridge.



August 6, 2013

Road Trip: #2

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding,Trails — Andrea @ 10:18 am

Sunday morning, I planned out a nice-sized ride from the hostel. The main goal was to ride ~10miles of the Rainbow Trail and then a lower-elevation, shorter trail called Little Rainbow back towards town. First, I walked to a local place for breakfast.


Yard art from the trip:


The route (ridden clockwise):


I rode the singlespeed, and the 32×21 was great until the very top of the initial climb up Bear Creek Rd, where I started to feel low on oxygen and had to hike a little. The first 6 miles or so were gorgeous and flowy bench-cut singletrack with occasional open overlooks before intersecting another forest road at a trailhead:



At that point, the trail jogged down the road a little (you can see on my route where there’s an “up” in the blue line where I thought incorrectly that maybe it jogged uphill). The next 3-4 miles of trail were much steeper and gravelly. I did a little more hike-a-bike before getting to the next intersection where I’d turn off to go to the Lower Rainbow trails:


After a slightly hairy jeep road descent, I found the trail intersection and started down the next portion of trail. The lower rainbow was super flowy and nice as well. My only interruption was a heard of elk that exploded up the side of the mountain as I rounded a corner. As the retreated, they kicked rocks at me. No photos of the elk, but I got one of the “elk were here” sign:


The rest of the trail was great, and, being mostly downhill, went by almost too quickly. Once I’d descended back into Salida, I stopped at the SubCulture bike shop to talk to the mechanic who’d given me some trail advice when I’d stopped by before. Over the past few rides, I’d determined that I didn’t want to keep the Niner Low-Top bars at their full 720mm width. Since I didn’t bring a saw guide and saw with me, I asked him to cut them down just a little (they’re about 705mm wide now). He did the most perfect on-bike cutting job I’ve seen, ever.

When I asked how much I owed him, he kinda shrugged his shoulders, so I told him I’d bring beer back after I cleaned up and got out to find lunch. Just my luck- the owner of the food truck parked next to the shop was in the store, and he’d mentioned some sort of amazing concoction of a chicken tamale, fried egg, and turkey chili (the mechanic, Raphael, said that the food was amazing, and that the guy fed the shop every day). Perfect timing, because about the time I was back with a 12-er of PBR (yes, even in the land of incredible microbrews, mechanics request PBR), I was hungry enough to gnaw my bars shorter.

And, the food was incredibly amazing, and perfectly satisfying for post-ride hunger:


Raphael and his dog (not pictured- his girlfriend, Claire, also a singlespeeder. She was closing up shop and came over to give him ribbing about it later):



Random photo: desert was overpriced single-serve Haagen Dazs ice cream- For those of us with no self-control when it comes to ice-cream portion control…


The next morning, I went and flat wore myself out on the city pump track. It’s likely the best-built one I’ve ever ridden. If you go to Salida, definitely don’t skip it.



Once I was tired and sweaty, I headed back to pack up and get moving to Dolores. The verdict on Salida? I’ll definitely be back. I only scratched the surface of riding there, so I will have to visit again in the future (of great interest- an 80something mile trail ride that includes riding to the Monarch Crest trail on 4th of July).





August 3, 2013

Road Trip: #1

Filed under: Out West Trip,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 6:23 pm

After a fairly uneventful drive across several states, I arrived in Salida, CO yesterday afternoon. Yes, I’m going to Dolores also, but I had to make a pit stop and check out some extra trails before I settled in to my “chill out” spot. First order of business was lunch and stopping by some local shops for trail info and essentials, like hot pink/rhinestone gloves.



I got a bunk at the local hostel. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel, I highly recommend it. Bring an open mind, though, because a lot of the people you meet will be “weird” in some of the most fascinating and awesome ways. It’s an interesting mix of hikers, bikers (this particular time, a guy riding the continental divide trail and a woman road riding down the pacific coast before heading east), and all sorts of travelers from all over the place. Usually a cute dog or two, also.

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After I unpacked, I went out for a quick ride around the Arkansas Hills trails. Included were plenty of scenery, as well as the first of likely many hike-a-bikes of my trip (first photo).

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Soon after I arrived back from riding, I went to dinner with a group from the hostel. WTF moment of the day occurred when a sketchy van pulled up with four fat bikes on the back and four middle-aged women inside. Whoa.

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Back at the hostel, a group of three guys showed up to stay the night and ride the Monarch Crest trail in the morning. I’d researched the Monarch Crest trail before I left Memphis, and had made tentative plans to ride it on Sunday.

Side note- the Monarch Trail starts just off the road that goes up & over the Monarch Pass. You can ride to the start, but there’s also a park & ride shuttle that will take you up there. The ride up is pretty hairy with truck/RV/car traffic, etc.

I figured it’d be more fun to ride with the smaller group, so I went with the new plan. The trail is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I could ever get tired of the view from on top of a 12k foot mountain pass.

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If I ever met the person who thought up the idea of this trail, I’d open mouth kiss him/her.


July 31, 2013

Ready for the Action

Filed under: Around the shop,Bike Racing — Andrea @ 7:14 am

Today, I’m wrapping up the final bike prep for my trip. Based on my experience with Breck Epic last year, I’m making a couple of changes. First off, the gearing…



Endless makes a ginormous variety of cogs- prettymuch any size and color you could possibly wish for. The cogs also happen to be super fat and light, too. They definitely live up to their name. As an extra bonus, Shanna, the seller of all things Endless, is a bundle of smiles and energy. I know her best only through the internet, but this photo sums up the general gist of her personality (found via Google Image search that took me to Jeff Zimmerman Photography). You can also take a look at the Endless Bike Company facebook page.


I’m going to try the 32×22 at Breck and see what happens. If I dislike it, I’ll just swap out to something else between stages (something we discussed on JRA Monday night and decided was “OK” via the “ethics” of singlespeeding). Click the JRA link and listen to something else while you wait for the most recent episode to arrive in the archives.

Moving along to other big mountain-related stuff, I also decided to beef up the brakes a little. Last year, I glazed over/wore down a couple of sets of pads. This year, I’m using Shimano XTR race brakes (as opposed to SRAM XX), and I’m opting for a 180mm front rotor and set of the finned trail-style brake pads (yet to be installed):



To wrap it up, I opted to replace my slightly worn “light” Maxxis Ardent with a new one in the EXO version. At ~740g, it’s a little on the heavy side compared to the non-EXO version (advertised at 690g, but mine was 651g), but I like the added sidewall protection for the rocky mine trail descents that are a staple of the Breck courses.


I’m using the Ikon 2.35 on the rear, also with EXO sidewall protection. The higher volume adds an extra layer of comfort on a hardtail, though, if I feel like I want more tread, I’ll swap to a Crossmark.
Side note- If you’ve been living under a “What wheels are those?” rock, they’re the Industry 9 Trail 24s, and they’re the best combination of stiffness, width, and bling that I’ve found in a wheel. The hub engagement is phenomenal, too. Don’t ride a set unless you’re prepared to be spoiled forever.

In case you failed to notice in the blurry pic of my rotor, Yes, the scooter is muddy. On my off days, I’ve been participating in a heated game of scooter photo-tag (you take a photo of your scooter at a place of interest, post it, and someone else finds the spot, posts a photo there, then goes someplace else and puts the next spot up for everyone to find). Since I’ll be out of town for a little over 2 weeks, I left the group with a doozie. In case you were ever wondering,  a 50cc scooter can off-road like a champ.




July 29, 2013

Closing In

Filed under: Bike Racing,Training — Andrea @ 7:53 am

As the time to leave for Colorado is closing in, everything is falling into place for the trip. I had a just-challenging-enough three day block of training at the end of last week, which left me with weekend recovery days. I’ve felt lately that my body is becoming somewhat stunted in its fat metabolizing abilities (main symptom- if I go out for a training ride, I feel kinda lethargic until I get 100 or so calories of sugary stuff into me).  So, Saturday and Sunday morning, I did what I’d like to call “Hell on Earth” rides, where I essentially got out of bed, into cycling clothes, and onto my bike before eating anything or drinking any coffee. The goal is to force the body into revving up fat metabolism in order to have the energy for exercise. Like any sort of training, it’d probably work better if I did it more often, but it’s a special sort of suck that makes riding, even for just a low-intensity hour, pretty dreadful. It’s not totally terrible to have a reason to eat extra Gu Chomps during the course of my ride.

That has to be one of my favorite things about not working- I can do longer/harder training outside of the weekend, then spend Saturday and Sunday screwing around doing “weekend stuff.” For instance: I decided we need crepe myrtles in the yard (if you’re from The South, you won’t have to click on that link). Through a fair amount of research, I learned that it’s possible to make new crepe myrtles from cuttings of old ones. And, just my luck, my parents had the exact color that I was hoping for…




I went to Lowe’s and bought potting soil (even buying in to the special one that’s supposed to be good for this sort of thing) and some rooting hormone powder. Once I was back at their place, my dad took a variety of old/new cuttings, we powdered them, and stuck them into some pots.




Since I’m about to leave town for a few weeks, my parents agreed to daily watering and care. Hopefully, about the time I’m getting ready for the first cyclocross race of the season, I’ll also have a few crepe myrtles to plant in the front and back yards.

To go back to the whole “going out of town” thing, did I mention that I’M REALLY FREAKING EXCITED?!?!? The high mountains of Colorado are calling me. They felt like a magnet last time I drove out to Fort Collins and beyond for Natz. I prettymuch just had to wave at the giants and their puffy white clouds as I skirted around the outside of them along my way. I’m also extra stoked to hang out with rock star road sprinter Lauren Hall, who I used to race against “back in the day” when she lived in Mississippi. If you live under a “never-pay-attention-to-women’s-road-racing” rock, she’s essentially America’s female version of Mark Cavendish, except she’s not a total wanker. If this petition works, there’s a green jersey with her name on it.

Side note- if you haven’t signed it, then you’re not able to read my blog again until you have.

Of course, along with hanging out with friends, there is that whole “Breck Epic” thing that starts on the 11th. With the seriousness of the racing I’ve done so far this season, it almost feels like a race-cation to me. Don’t get me wrong- I take every race seriously. However, this one is kinda more of a 6-day singlespeed adventure with a party at the end than an “elbows out” barnburner like Trans-Sylvania.

Epic times are afoot!


July 24, 2013

Adventures in Dog Parenting

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 7:23 am

If you’ve been around here very long at all, or you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that I have (among other pets) a little old terrier named Indy. Last Wednesday, after I played ball in the back yard for a few minutes then ran to the grocery store, I came home to find Indy limping around the house and holding his left foot up (sympathy pains for Momma and her bad left foot?) I decided I’d give it a day before I took him to the vet, but, by Friday, it wasn’t any better. So, we went to see Dr. Speth at Germantown Animal Hospital.

One X-Ray later…


(note the “two piece” bone in the left foot)

Dr. Speth took him to the back again, and, when he came back, he’d splinted Indy’s little foot, and Indy was quite upset about it.


Once we were back home, Indy was pretty stressed. I gave him his anti-inflammatory medicine and sat with him on the couch until he passed out





Fortunately, dogs have their own great way of adapting to physical hardship. Over the next couple of days, Indy started figuring out how to negotiate all of his usual activities with his little peg leg. He started clopping around the house enough that we put part of an old inner tube around the end of his splint because he was wearing through the outer wrap part.  Now he actually acts like he feels better than normal- I’m thinking because he’s on a regimen of Rimadyl, which may be making any of his other “old dog” aches & pains go away. Good thing, too, because he’s gotta wear it for another week and a half!





July 22, 2013

Niner Low Top bar and RDO Seatpost- First Ride Impressions

Filed under: Product Reviews — Andrea @ 6:42 am

Niner announced a while back that they’d be releasing a new “low top nine” bar and “unstiff” RDO carbon seatpost in a setback version (the zero offset version has been out for a while, but doesn’t work with my fit). Mine came in a little over a week ago, and I finally had a chance to ride them on Thursday.

I decided that since in Breckenridge, the climbs are big and the trails are wide, I’d try leaving the bars in their full 720mm-length glory. I’m still at odds with this decision, though. My test ride was on the trails close to my house- they’re totally flat with the exception of a couple of tiny levee climbs. I definitely noticed that steering was more work with a wider bar. I also noticed that, in the entire 15 seconds I spent going uphill, I reeeeeeeeally liked the wide bar. I’m going to try them on a more tech trail before I do any cutting, and since it’s about to pour down rain, that decision is being put off for now.



I installed the bar in the “drop” position (-25 mm) with my stem/spacers in the same orientation as my previous flat bar (the Niner RDO flat bar). This may also change once I get a chance to ride it a little more. I was pretty comfortable with the bar where it was, and, though I like the extra sweep (17 deg vs 9deg) of the lowrider bar, the extra drop may not be necessary. If that’s the case, I’ll flip my stem over.




As for the seatpost, the 1 hour ride on buff trail and road was just not enough to notice any difference over the Thompson that was on there previously. I’ll know more in the upcoming weeks. If nothing else, it looks sexy as hell to have matching RDO everything. Blinglespeed Represent!

July 17, 2013

Adventures in toe pain

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 1:29 pm

For the past couple of years (at least, that’s as long as I can remember it going on), I’ve experienced a recurring pain in my outer two left toes. I’ve tried various shoes, pedals, insoles, bike fits, adjustments to bike fits, stretching/rolling of my leg, massage, yoga, adjustments via chiropractor, and, despite all of those things, the problem has slowly become more frequent, severe, and faster onsetting than in the past. So, with another bout of pain that put me off my bike during the 2nd climb at natz, I decided I’d try to seek medical help.

After asking around some friends, I was directed to OrthoMemphis. I saw a foot specialist who, looked at some xrays and said that there was nothing structurally wrong with my foot or ankle. He scheduled an appointment for a nerve conduction study & EMG, which I went to today.

Well, first I rode the scooter over to a local motorcycle shop (Performance Plus) for some scooter oil… I’ve put close to 800 miles on it since I bought it from FullFace Kenny


Once I utilized the “master mechanic” skill needed to remove a cover and cap then funnel in a full bottle of oil, I then paced around the house until it was time to head up to the EMG clinic.

I had a “this is what’s wrong with America” moment in the waiting room while I watched a kid lay across 4 chairs listening to/watching music videos at full volume on his phone while everyone else crammed themselves into the 4 remaining chairs on the other side of the waiting room.


Luckily, I didn’t have to wait for long. Back in the exam room, I donned a pair of one-size-fits-most paper shorts and crossed my fingers in hopes of finding some sort of diagnosis.



After being shocked and poked with a needle in a multitude of places from back to foot, it was determined that all of my nerves are working properly. The doctor did, however, mention that my symptoms sounded as if my sciatic nerve was being irritated from sitting on it. He suggested getting a highly padded gel saddle to make up for the lack of padding that I’ve got under my backside. I didn’t feel like explaining about how terrible highly padded saddles can be, so I just smiled and took it as a complement to my fitness.

So, now the possible diagnoses include either that, or some sort of vascular problem that’s causing a shutdown of bloodflow to my lower leg. It’d be great to at least figure out the cause before I head off to Colorado again for Breck Epic so I can at least try and avoid some of the pain during the race. Between this, the continuing summer heat/humidity, and my occasional driver-induced anxiety attack…


I decided to console myself with sushi lunch at Sakura.



July 15, 2013

Mountain Stuff

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 12:37 pm

Like I promised, I made my decision as to whether or not I’d go to XC Nationals based on my feelings in the drive home from Marathon Nationals. I’m 100% not feeling it. I want to focus my efforts on tuning back up for Breck Epic, which starts August 11th. After a little post-Natz break, I got back into some intervals today, and, even though they weren’t my best, they were promising, and it felt good to be getting back into a training groove after all the tapering/traveling associated with going to Idaho.

In random “badasses of Memphis” news, Billy Simpson, a local ultramarathon runner, finished the Hardrock 100 over the weekend – 18th place with a time of 33 hours, 14 minutes, and 47 seconds. As an occasionally vocal trail advocate, Billy has had his disagreements with the local 2-wheeled community in the past (some of which I’m more on his side than on others’), but, in the end, we’re all just looking for the next adventure. So, to Billy…

I can barely contain my Breck Epic excitement. To add to it, I’m leaving a week early and staying with another (formerly) local badass, Lauren Hall. I’m going to hide out in her basement and ride trails in her little corner of Colorado while I get through my initial throes of altitude adjustment. I always have a bad day about 2-3 days after getting up high before leveling off to just “more out of breath than usual,” so 5 or 6 days at 7,000ft should get me through that in preparation for Breck.

Motivation for things like Breck Epic is essentially what’s getting me through some of my rides right now. I’m still scared of being hit by a car on a regular basis… a fear reinforced by what seems like a rise in frequency of drivers being incredibly careless, reckless, and/or flat-out mean. I’ve been able to get it down to about 1 during-ride anxiety attack per week. Though I occasionally find myself feeling like I want to collapse in on myself like a black hole, it’s a combination of both my desire to be excellent and of sheer stubbornness that I won’t quit training on the road.

Can't Stop

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.

(example: Andreas Kloden)

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


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…



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.


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