“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…


(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).


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:


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).


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.



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…


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.


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


Good News, Everyone!


(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.


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…

IMBA Flyer

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…


You know, because…


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



Addressing the Demon Foot

I’m about to leave on a drizzley 4 hour drive over to Mountain View to meet up with the other organizers and get the final details worked out on a big IMBA work weekend/trailbuilding school at the end of this month. I would have left already, but, I had a doctor’s appointment. Along with the excitement that comes with entering the DK200 comes the revelation that I’m going to have to address the nagging foot/leg pain that I’ve been getting on long rides. “Long” in this case used to mean 4 or more hours, but, even after taking a month off, the problem is creeping into the 2-3 hour range.

That’s not gonna fly.

Last summer, I visited a local orthopedic doctor’s office. The foot specialist there was incredibly rude- he told me that my shoes were probably too tight and that it wasn’t worth my time or money to diagnose any further. I told him that’s not the case (I wear my shoes large and barely buckled), and he grudgingly ordered an EMG/Nerve Conduction Study that turned up normal. I didn’t want to go back to him, so I gritted my teeth and did what I could to avoid the issue.

I also visited a structural integration therapist (partially because of the car accident, partially because of the foot/leg pain). I definitely felt amazing as a result of her course of treatment (if you’re an athlete, I’d highly recommend it), but it still didn’t do much for the fact that my left outer two toes felt like they were about to explode off of the end of my foot on long bike rides.

With my impending hours of saddle time, I decided to go to Campbell Clinic (the same place I went for treatment after being hit by a car). I saw a sports medicine doctor last night, and he had several ideas of what if could be, and referred me to a different doctor (I get the vibe that they work with each other a lot like how two great mechanics will pass a troublesome bike back and fourth to bounce ideas off of each other). He found through ultrasound that the bursa under my left sitbone looked inflamed. However, he wanted to totally rule out other issues in my back and pelvis before calling that the solution. So, I’m scheduled for an MRI this Tuesday.

I still feel like there’s something wrong in my hamstring (which seemed to be what the first doctor was thinking), but, I trust doc #2, and I actually get the feeling that, while neither of them has an exact diagnosis at this point, they’re actually interested in starting the process of eliminating the things that it’s not. I should know more when I go back for the MRI results next Thursday.

A good weekend and a new plan

Now that I wrote a post saying that my legs are total junk, I had a couple of rides over the weekend that proved that maybe they’re only about 75% junk. Saturday, I headed out for some base miles- a relatively short ride of just under 3 hours, but I was successful in maintaining a steady wattage throughout the miles. My route started by tracking north with a sweet 15-20mph tailwind from the south, then looped back to face it down most of the way back. Some people might consider that torture, but I can’t help but get excited as I make the turn from north to east and pick up a nice “lean into it” crosswind for a few miles before turning straight south. Matt went with me and wasn’t quite as enthusiastic.

Sunday, we’d originally planned on trainer rides since a steady, all-day, rain-turning-to-ice was predicted to arrive somewhere around 4am. However, I awoke to find that the first batch of rain had missed us. So, I woke up Ryan and Matt and we hustled out to the trail to get in as much time as possible before the rain set in for the day. It was barely starting to sprinkle when we left the house, and we made it almost an hour into our ride before the bottom fell out. Luckily, at that point, we were able to bail off of the trail and hit the Memphis Greenline to get home. Matt was feeling frisky and went to plaid on the unfinished gravel section, which I think might have been a slight punishment for the previous day’s wind shenanigans.



Changing gears a little… in “2014 Race Season” news, I’ve shifted my focus for race choices in May. My original intention was to go back to Trans-Sylvania to improve upon my finish from last year…a lofty goal, because last year, it was an outright perfect combination of both my best fitness and several strokes of luck that resulted in one stage win, the Overall Enduro win, and a 5th place spot in the Overall General Classification. Looking back, that was, both physically and mentally, the hardest race I’ve ever done.

This year, as I mentioned a few posts ago, Gu Energy is, once again, being a kickass sponsor. They’re supporting the 2014 edition of the  Dirty Kanzaa 200 race, and, rather than going back to TSE, I’ll take on DK200 as my next big challenge. It’s not only going to be a huge undertaking on its own, but it will also serve as a springboard to training for what stands to be another “hardest race ever,” the Vapor Trail 125. I know in the past I’ve sworn off 100 mile races, but these are more of the “epic” variety with a healthier dose of attrition mixed in to make them more exciting.

Admittedly, I’m becoming somewhat of a junkie for seeking out the next most “impossible” thing.

Rouge Roubaix XV, the rest of it

If you haven’t been around long enough to know that I was hit by a car during the Rouge Roubaix road race back in March, then go read this post now: Rouge Roubaix XV

The insurance case with the driver is settled and closed now. So, I feel that I can tell the rest of the story without some skeezy insurance lawyer questioning my actions following some dumb b**** plowing into me from behind.

In the post about the accident, I left off at a girl hitting me, us gathering her information, and me going to the hospital. All of that happened. However, between getting her information and the trip to the hospital, there was a brief moment where I was laying on the ground, then on my feet, and being incredibly verbally abusive to the woman who’d hit me. I’m one of the least mean-spirited people you’ll ever meet, but I called her all sorts of names, and I don’t feel bad about it at all.

Then, I decided I wanted to try and finish the race. There were 40 something miles and two hard gravel sections left. Louise had passed Amy and I just before I decided to try and continue. I got back on my bike and got on Amy’s wheel, but realized in a couple of minutes that I needed to straighten my handlebars out. Amy stopped with me, but when I realized that I needed to use my multi tool in order to fix them, I told her to go on after Louise (I didn’t know if I could finish, anyway, and I didn’t want to jeopardize Amy’s race).

I rode alone, into the wind, for what seemed like an hour. I could see Amy in the distance until the turn into the next gravel section. It’d been 8 miles since the car had hit me, and, it was then when I hit the potholes and bumps of the gravel that I couldn’t bear the pain in my pelvis any longer and had to withdraw from the race. At that point, I thought that it was broken at my right sacroiliac joint, because the pain was not only radiating from there, it also felt as if my pubic symphysis was unstable.

You know the remainder of the story from there.

My recovery is still not 100%. Physically, my right SI joint still hurts, and the scarring of the muscle seems to be permanent… so my right butt cheek has a flat spot. When I sit wrong or go on long car rides, it takes a few steps to not limp because of it. Psychologically, I still have rare but persistent breakdowns when I’m frightened by drivers. I’m still angry at drivers who have no care for another human’s life. The insurance company took those things into account when paying “pain and injury” money to me, but that doesn’t make it go away.

The CAAD10 that I was riding at the time of the wreck has been revitalized as a weird bastard of spare parts I had around the house. The rear triangle was knocked out of alignment, so it’s off of “work” duty and now is a testament to riding bikes long enough to have a hodgepodge of parts in storage. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever ride it, but it goes a little like this…



So, now you know the entire story. Here’s to not getting hit by a car again in 2014…

Getting back to “Normal”

Getting pretty sick over the holidays seriously upset my “normal routine” applecart. Hell, the “holidays” themselves do that without my being sick. The fact that a large portion of the general public shoves their way around around like asshole chickens with their heads cut off at an ever-increasing rate from Thanksgiving until December 25th is incredibly disruptive to anyone who chooses not to participate in such foolishness. By not participating, I have to plan simple things like “my daily trip to the grocery store” and “driving past the mall” in a way that won’t coincide with throngs of panicking, stressed-out consumers.

Luckily, it’s over, and I survived, mostly unscathed. The guys both went back to work this morning (both Ryan and Matt had vacation from the 25th through the 1st), and I went back into the gym for some weight training this morning (and go back to MMA class tonight). I’m kinda sad that we never got to go to Syllamo, but between Ryan having a backache and Matt and I suffering from the desk-jockey blacklung, we ended up running out of vacation by the time everyone was recovered. I’m looking forward to the weekend of the 10th, because I’ll be heading over solo to meet with other Syllamo Trail advocates to work out all of the details for the ginormous work weekend coming up at the end of the month. If everything goes as planned, I’ll stay an extra couple of days, and the trip will function as both a mini training camp as well as a momma-bear vacation.

Not that I dislike taking care of the guys and whatever domestic duties arise… it’s just that every now and then, I need a break- just like any other job. Even if I don’t do days of epic rides, I can lay in the recliner with a glass of wine and a frozen pizza and not worry about what’s for dinner tonight and tomorrow.

Riding-wise, the journey back into fitness is shaping up to be a difficult one. The past two days, I’ve thrown in some harder efforts on my rides, and they were pretty weaksauce. I feel like my FTP is 200 right now. Three weeks, a little riding, then an extra week off the bike tends to do that to a person. Hopefully my legs will remember their job with a quickness.


Adventures in Sickness

Yeah, so the desk-jockey chest cold ended with me getting bronchitis. After spending two days basically on the couch, miserable with a fever, chills, and deepening cough, yesterday morning, I woke up feeling worse and coughing up nearly solid chunks of phlegm (mmmm, hopefully you’re eating breakfast right now). Already physically exhausted from the two previous days of germ-fighting and poor sleep, I had the feeling that my immune system was struggling with a secondary infection. So, after a little internet searching, I found a minor medical clinic that was open on Christmas day.

Luckily, we seemed to get there before the waiting room filled up. My fever was 101.2 and resting pulse was a crazy 85 bpm (for comparison, usually when I walk outside with a bike and turn my Garmin on, my walking/standing around pulse is somewhere in the 60s). The doctor did the usual look/listen and said that my symptoms were indicative of bronchitis and gave me a prescription for antibiotics.

Once we were home, I had some tomato soup and took my first dose. Within hours, I could feel my fever fade and everything start to swing in the right direction. By evening, I felt well enough to move around the house a little, ride in the car with Ryan to my parents’ house to pick up Christmas gifts from Granny & other relatives, and carry on conversations with more than one-word sentences. I was hoping for a good night’s sleep, but alas, some of the antibiotic side effects (restlessness, terrible bitter taste in my mouth) kept me awake much of the night. I’ve gotta call this morning and see if I can’t get something else.

Despite another night of poor sleep (that’s 4 now), I’m not drawn to laying on the couch and moaning today, which is promising. We’ve postponed the trip over to Syllamo until tomorrow. Right now, I’m feeling as tired physically as if I were on day 4 of a stage race, so I’m taking it slow and steady. I may not ride as much as I’d planned, but the getaway from the confines of my house will be a welcome one. I also sleep like crazy any time I’m at the cabin, so, epic rides or no, I’m looking forward to it.