Dear Evansville,

Not too long ago, Ryan installed Woopra on my blog. It lets you see where visitors are coming from, how long they stay, what they read, blah blah blah…

Today was the first time that I’ve really looked at it. Not surprisingly, Memphis and the surrounding area accounts for a large number of my readers. Surprisingly, I have what seems to be a decent foothold of readers (or maybe just one who is very persistent) from Evansville, IN. I find this cool, because even though I don’t recall ever mentioning it in any posts around here, I was born in Evansville (though I moved to Memphis about the time of my first Christmas).

So, I just wanted to say HI to you, whoever you may be!

Cyclocrunk #1

As I mentioned in my last post, Tuesday night was the first of three Cyclocrunk races.

Side note: It’s Cyclocrunk. It’s also cyclocross. Not cyclecrunk and cyclecross. Get it right.

The basics of Cyclocrunk- people of all ages and abilities (and I do mean ALL abilities) show up at Tobey Field (near the Fairgrounds), pay $7, and race a cyclocross course that includes an inordinate amount of gigantic barriers, in the dark, for 30-45 minutes. At the end of the 3-race series, the promoter takes all of the entry fee money to Young Avenue Deli, opens a bar tab on it, and the participants can have all the cheap beer they want utilizing the bar tab/entry fee money. It’s prettymuch a giant party with a few cyclocross races thrown in.

Oh yeah, and whoever wins the most races gets crowned the King and Queen of Crunk. Russ Griffin and I are the current champs (I’m not going to post any sort of language warning for this photo, because I already told the people who are offended by the “F” word to GTFO)


Photo/Design credit to Micheal Carpenter @ Switch Creative

The actual race was pretty good for me. Since it was my first cyclocross race of the season, I was a little bit cautious. In previous years, I’ve had issues with spraining my right hip adductor during uber-high-speed dismounts. If you understand kinesiology and muscle physiology (remember, I may be a bike mech now, but I also have a masters in ex phys!), you would understand the musculoskeletal impact of jumping off of a bike at speeds upwards of 15mph. It’s definitely something you should work your way in to in order to avoid over-stress type injuries.

So, I ended up racing at about 85-90% of my “bleeding out of the eyeballs” pace until the final lap, where I kicked it up to 100% OMGWTF pace. I felt good about most of my dismounts/barriers/remounts. I think the 2-step drills are paying off, because I was a lot more comfortable with landing and hopping on as soon as possible following the barriers. Oh yeah, I also beat the handful of other ladies that showed up.W00t!

Next week, I’ve been insructed to “take the governer off.” I’m good with that, because I want to beat a few more of the guys next week. Now, I just have to decide what I’m going to wear. Seems like no matter what kit I put on, people have to comment- this week it was “why are you wearing an Outdoors,Inc. kit?” Um, I work there. I think it’s pretty. WTF am I supposed to say? I’ll probably go M-B just to show that M-B will continue to dominate the Memphis cross scene until the end of time (Russ is an M-B teammate, as are a majority of the top 5 finishers). I also have some old Kenda kit and an old Le Coq Sportif jersey I found at an estate sale. There’s a Twin 6 jersey in my drawer as well, so there’s no telling WHO Andrea will be riding for NEXT WEEK!

Womble Weekend

Before I get started, you should get to know everyone by their proper nicknames.

First, there’s Todd the Antique Gun Show:


Next, Magical Mystery Tour Dave (talk to him if you ever need toilet paper while you’re out on the trail):


Josh the Eye Candy (yes, that’s a crescent wrench in his pocket):

And yes, he gets two photos…




…and Zane- a.k.a. “Sandy”


Day #1 started with MMTDave bringing his bike out of the car with a flat tire. The Antique Gun Show apparently keeps an air compressor in his truck, and tried to seal it up tubeless, but it was flat within the first climb/descent of the trail (which also happened to be within the first 5 minutes of hitting the trail). After a couple of attempts at keeping it tubeless, he eventually stopped and put a tube in. I have a hard time getting into the groove of things when a ride starts with halfwheeling leg-ripping contests, so I was happy for the short breaks.


As I previously discovered from my first trip to ride with Todd on the Womble, it’s customary to ride at close to a race-type effort whenever new guys (or girls) are in the group. Eye Candy Josh and Sandy were both “n00bsauce.”

We headed south from Highway 88, crossed the Ouachita River, and continued south on the Womble until we reached highway 298. From there, we hit the road. And more flats. This time, Razz discovered that his rim had a burr in it. It was rubbing a hole in his tire. We eventually booted it and headed up through Sims…


Being on a singlespeed on the road only sucks if you’re the only SS there. Luckily, there were 6 of us. We eventually hit the forest roads and made our way up a doubletrack climb to the Ouachita Trail. On the down side of the climb, MMTDave had another flat. Sandy stayed with him to lend him a tube and supplies, but soon found out that tubes kept in seatpacks for extended periods of time will have holes rubbed in them. Razz also flatted again soon after. I tried to lone my tube to him, and found that it was also damaged from my seatpack.

So, we decided to bail at the next forest road and head back in to Todd’s place for some refreshments.




The remainder of the afternoon was spent telling fish tales and bragging about who could find the most awesome “new guy.” As soon as it started getting dark, I was out cold, and didn’t wake up until the coyotes decided that 4:30 AM was a good time to have a coyote party in the woods… or whatever it was they were doing. I can’t complain too much- at least it wasn’t post-12-hour techno.

Day #2, we were much more successful at keeping the air on the inside of the tires (with the exception of Antique Gun Show). We headed north up the Womble and, after some sweet hike-a-bike, hit the Ouachita Trail on top of Round Top


The descent was awesome- a little rocky, a little flowy, a little fast… something for everyone. We eventually made it back to where we’d left the Womble and made our way back south to where we’d started


Apparently next weekend will be “battle of the new guys.” My entry into the horserace is Matt, who is visiting Todd’s next weekend and will likely blog all about it once he’s home and out of his coma.

I’m trying to have the carbon cross blinged out and ready for Cyclocrunk, which starts tomorrow night (don’t click that if you’re offended by rap music and/or cleavage, in which case, you should probably get off of the internet right now). Considering I haven’t trained at ALL for cyclocross this year, I’m hoping that no one shows up, lest I get my butt kicked.

I need a schedule

I’m trying to figure out my plans for next season, and I’m having a hard time sorting through all of the awesome races that I read about but didn’t partake in last season. I know I’m going to a lot of NUE races (including Lumberjack, which I missed this year), and I know I’m going to spend some time in Colorado again around the time of the Breck 100. I also plan on racing the regional stuff like the Ouachita Challenge (March), and Syllamo’s Revenge (May).

I know I’ve got a few loyal readers out there. Make me your puppet- what course do you want me to tackle? Sponsors- where do you want your products to be put to the test? It’ll probably be singlespeed- Hey, y’all watch this!


So, looking through the comments-
I’m already planning on Southern Cross and Spa City.
Creaky, I’m not quite up for Trans-anything, and unless there’s someone with a lot of disposable income that’s a regular reader who wants to give me the $$ for a trip out of the country, it’s not gonna happen.
Tour de ‘burg: never really looked into it, but I will
Breck Epic: I REALLY want to do that one, but the funding may be an issue. It’d be awesome to hang out around Breck from the 100 until the Epic.
Ride the Butte looks interesting. Like Tour de ‘burg, I’ll have to check it out
Richard- that’s kind of the point of this post. I want to get ideas. I also like to interact with people who read my blog. I will eventually try a 24 solo… not sure when, though.

I should explain what I’m looking for a little more- I know someone is going to post, DO LEADVILLE!” or “DO X racethat’sreallypopularandyouhavetoregisterayearaheadoftimetogetin.” I appreciate the suggestion, but I am not quite as “in” to those sorts of things as I am slightly less traveled courses that have features that make them unique in a way that scares off the crowds (for example- anyone can “do” the Leadville course- it’s the fact that the BEST riders show up with their A-games that make it a really hard race. The Breck 100 course is hard. Not that you won’t find some awesome competitors there, but Levi and Lance aren’t showing up any time soon). I like attrition. I like courses that scare “normal” people off, and I want to do them singlespeed.

That being said, keep the suggestions coming! I’m not opposed to guerilla/off the radar type races, I just need to know when/where…

Non-racing Race Weekend

As a testament to my rest/training plan, I decided not to enter the local 12 hour race- 12 hours of Stank. However, Ryan and two of his Marx-Bensdorf teammates did (team name “we ride you long time”). Aside from a flat tire on Ryan’s first lap, they kicked a bunch of butt in the 3-man sport division. Race report HERE. In the meantime, I went out Saturday morning with a friend of mine who was in town while her boyfriend was racing. We took our CX bikes to Shelby Farms where I taught her how to ride singletrack.

After lunch and a beer, we drove back to the race course to see how things were going. I ended up doing a few minor repairs for people (took the folding Park stand out of the living room after all!), drinking a couple more beers, and playing first-aid tech to the other Marx-Bensdorf team (aptly named “Marx and Bruises”). It was rare for one of them to finish a lap without coming in covered in dirt and blood, and their anchor rider wrecked early into his final lap, cracking his helmet and spraining his A-C joint.

After getting home late Saturday, we “slept in” until a little after 6 on Sunday. I had a 3 hr endurance ride on my schedule, and Ryan ended up attempting it, but then turning back towards home half an hour in because his body was thrashed. With a fresh pair of Gatorskins installed, I ventured back on to the gravel that previously killed one of my old worn out tires earlier in the week. No problems there, just not enough gravel.

On the way back in to Germantown, I found out the hard way that one of the usual bike thoroughfares was (still) a narrow-single-lane construction zone. Lucky for me, the barreled-off lane where the asphalt was removed down to the dirt road bed doubled as a very convenient bike lane. The remainder of the day was spent holding down the shop at Outdoors. We just built a really big custom ti bike for a really big guy… that was cool…


Sunday’s Quote of the Day from Ronnie: “Tell Aaron that if he screws up my bike, I’ll break him in half.”

(He was joking, of course)

Confessions of a bike geek

Right after I was delivered back to my house by my parents on Wednesday, the UPS guy showed up with a couple of boxes from Park Tool. Inside was a new workstand (folding Team Issue edition) and various other tools like T-handle torx wrenches (I get a warm fuzzy feeling just reading those words), a handlebar holder, magnetic bowl, baby torque wrench, some open end wrenches, and a BB90 bearing removal tool. I was giddy. I don’t know if the workstand will make it out of the living room. I think it adds to the decor…



Oh yeah- also pictured with the tools are my new Crank Brothers pedals. They’ll get their first use this afternoon in a photoshoot for Outdoors, Inc. Can’t wait!

The right side of the fence

Lately, I’ve been enjoying early morning pre-work rides out at Shelby Farms. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be had when riding along the Walnut Grove park boundary and watching all the desk jockeys on their way in to town…


Today, I am off work and had a 3 hour ride on the schedule. I was JRA…


…and a few miles later, found this:


No problem- I carry 2x tubes/CO2 cartridges (and a Clif bar/tire boot) with me. However, the CO2 air chuck was a weak link to my “uber prepped” system. When I stuck the valve of spare #1 into the inflator head in order to give the tube some shape, the tiny stem part of the valve core broke off and stuck in the inflator head. CRAP.
I tried to pry and prod it out using various pointy parts of my multi-tool, but no dice. Then, I tried to cram it in as far as it would go so I could try and use the CO2 on my 2nd tube. I thought I had it, but as soon as I stuck the other valve in, the other valve core broke.

Lucky for me, my parents are retired, so driving out a good half hour from town to rescue me was high quality entertainment. I just took the wait as an opportunity to work on my tan lines.


In other news, keep an eye on the next issue of Memphis Health and Fitness Magazine. I hear the next cover is going to be Brickhouse-a-licious…

Slow Wind-up to the Offseason

I was totally going to post about how I aspire to be awesome enough to get “invited” to Interbike by a sponsor, but Dicky beat me to it. So, instead, I figured I’d talk a little about the off-season.

Life has been pretty laid back for the past few weeks. Outdoors, Inc is still a really great place to work (though Jason is gone now, which sucks), and I’ve mostly been taking days at a time off the bike or just doing ~1hr easy rides. Looking at the upcoming schedule on Training Peaks, though, I can see this off time slowly winding itself up into full-blown, zombie-inducing training.

I’ve started lifting now. Unlike the last person who coached me (back before my roadie nervous breakdown), the Wizard and I seem to see eye to eye on developing an off-season lifting program. I’ve been to the gym twice this week, and, even though it’s been all pretty light stuff, I’m pretty freaking sore. Hopefully by January, I’ll have half the guns of Selene Yeager (who I’ve unofficially named the “LVG” of mountain biking), and I’ll be needing that alloy Niner handlebar because the carbon Easton that’s on there now just won’t be stiff enough.

I’m also hoping that I’ll need that bar because it’s specially made to jive with the A9C frame geometry… but that’s another post.

Tomorrow is going to be my first ride of any substantial length since Shenandoah. I’m not expecting it to be too incredibly fatiguing- it’s just a 3 hr endurance ride, but I’m guessing that if my off-season starts with 3 hr rides that it can only get more difficult from there. I can’t say I’m not looking forward to it.

As a side note, alcohol and I have been taking a break from each other lately. We needed our space. Side effects of this have been better sleep as well as a couple of pounds missing on the scale. I like being realistic, so I won’t say I’m not ever going to drink again. I’m just saying that I finally realized that it was time to cut back from “very enthusiastic beer enthusiast” to just “occasional beer enthusiast.” So far, it’s worked out well for me. I feel odd saying this around the sponsors, because I know they keep an eye out here, but I figure that a lot of my audience reads as a sort of “vicarious living” kind of thing, and more than a couple can identify with recognizing that it’s time to slow their roll on any particular habit. To you, I raise my glass (of water).

Yeah, deliciously cheesy. I know.

Trail LED Darkstar- Initial Shakedown

We’d initially planned a ride out at Herb Parson’s Lake yesterday morning, but it ended up not happening. So, we decided we’d go for a night ride instead. My Trail LED Darkstar came in while I was at Shenandoah, but other than showing it off its insane brightness to all my friends, I hadn’t done anything useful with it.

First off, I still can’t get over how small this thing is. I put it on my helmet (mounts with a simple velcro strap), and its weight is unnoticeable. I have a 4-hour battery pack, which, according to my kitchen scale, weighs just a fraction less than a pound (for comparison’s sake, a full 22oz water bottle is 1 pound, 11oz). It fits very nicely into a jersey pocket.
It comes with a handlebar mount as well, but I prefer the helmet option.

As far as brightness goes, I’ve never used anything comparable. This light is rated at 1200 lumens, and, looking at the MTBR Light Shootout list, is a great deal as far as lumens/dollar. When we rode to the trailhead (city streets), I kept it on the “medium” setting. It’s easy to switch between that and the brightest setting by just pressing the large button on top of the light. Once we got into the trail, it lit up the whole “corridor” of singletrack to near-daylight conditions.

Side note: I’m not gonna lie, trail riding at night is a little spooky. We heard a coyote barking/howling close by as well as lots of “mystery rustling” in the bushes. I’m glad Ryan was with me. I also came around one corner and saw a little owl standing in the middle of the trail. OMG! I didn’t know they came in pocket size! I don’t know the species, but it was less than 6″ tall, and stared into my light for a couple of seconds before flying off. Very cool.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the Darkstar. It’s definitely bright enough to be your only light, because the beam is broad enough to get the ground close to your front wheel, but powerful enough to shoot way down the trail at the same time. Improvements? I think my only wish is for a more “adjustable” form of helmet mounting. I found myself tilting my helmet back a couple of times so that the light would point down trail a little more. I’m going to experiment with different helmets and mounting spots next time I use it.

(9/21/10 Update: Just got an email from Grady @ Trail LED- going to get an adjustable helmet mount and give it another whirl!)

Photos (including DOT 4 Brake fluid for size comparison):




Stupid Tax

I’ve always heard people say, “there should be a tax for being stupid.” Lately, it seems that people I know are suffering consequences of doing things that are, well, just stupid. I’m not going to cite specific events, but I’ve seen some doozies lately. I, myself, am most definitely NOT immune to the Stupid Tax. Just last night, we were out at Saucer for Jason’s (my coworker & buddy) going away party.

I drank too much. I know better than to do this. It was stupid.

This morning, I had a raging hangover (a.k.a the “Irish Flu”). I think it actually beats the one I had last Halloween when we partied with the Nashvegas people on a Saturday night between CX races. Only this time, instead of having to get up and race cross sometime around noon, I had to be at work at 9:45 to meet up with my boss so he could show me the way around the Union Ave. store. It wasn’t pretty, but I made it (and Joel will probably laugh when he reads this). Stupid Tax prevails.

BTW- a Ginger Brew from the cold drinks section of Whole Foods combined with truing some wheels eventually brought me back to the land of the living sometime around mid-day.

In other news, work is still fun, and you get to read a lot more random posts like this for the next couple of weeks because I’m doing very little training right now as part of getting totally recovered & ready to hit it hard in the upcoming months.