brickhouseracing

April 20, 2010

Instead of a CrudeXC Race Report…

Filed under: Bike Racing,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 5:36 pm

Here’s a brief rundown of my derailleur experiences in the past year.

I got my bike in April of 2009. Exactly (almost to the minute) one week after purchase, I made the n00bsauce mistake of riding through an overgrown field and getting vines & crap tangled up in my rear mech. I take full responsibility for that one.

It was replaced then ridden all summer. Then, the Jet9 was recalled. I got a spiffy Air9 hardtail to ride in the meantime. However, within a month, I had another mishap when a stick found its way in to my drivetrain on one of my first few rides at Syllamo:

Syllamo is maintained, but no one goes around the 50 miles of singletrack with a rake, so there are sticks and rocks that are just waiting to strike at any time. About 3 weeks ago, one got me again. This time, the hanger only bent, but the DR cage cracked a bit. The DR still worked as a tensioner, but it wouldn’t really shift. I ended up riding pseudo-SS for the remainder of the weekend.

Over the weekend, I started my first XC race as a cat1. I wasn’t winning, but I was determined to go down swinging. Then, a few miles from the end of lap #2…

rdr

Yeah. I’m seriously considering selling the Jet9 upon arrival and buying myself some sort of really sweet SS frame. A Carbon Air9 would be my dream bike, but it looks like it’d be after the season before it’d arrive, so I might look for something else. In the meantime, I’ll be rebuilding and replacing to get ready for the Cohutta 100 this weekend.

April 16, 2010

Owwwwwwwww

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 11:30 pm

SO, today was a first for me… first face-plant into a tree.

I was at Herb Parson’s Lake, JRA (at a modest to high rate of speed), when I went through one of the little dips in the trail (someplace after the long, wobbly, narrow bridge) where the trail splits around the tree. In the dip, there were a couple of branches laying in the middle of the trail parallel to the direction of travel. I managed to roll my front wheel over one. I don’t know how exactly I got from front wheel slipping to tree-kissing, but all I could do when I came to a stop was wrap my arms around the tree and hug it for a few seconds while the waves of face-pain were coming on. Somehow, my ergon grip & bar end were popped off the end of my bar & flew down the trail (I actually saw them out of my peripheral vision skipping down the trail as I hit, because I remember wondering if the object I was watching was one of my teeth).
I managed to sit down next to the trail and try to figure out what to do next. I thought about trying to ride in slowly, but then I noticed that I was bleeding. I didn’t know where I was bleeding from- my nose, teeth, and lips were all equally in pain. That’s when I snapped this trailside photo with my phone. I was trying to figure out where the blood was coming from…

trail

I couldn’t see the picture very well on my phone, so I tried calling Eric (who I’d been riding with before his crank bolt fell out), and he didn’t answer. I looked across the lake, and there were people on a pontoon boat not too far from me. Since I didn’t know the condition of my handlebars (which had been twisted around on the steertube) and didn’t feel like I was mentally capable of assessing them, I went over to the bank & called the people over. It was a boat full of elderly individuals. They were nice, and were happy to give me a ride back to the parking lot across the lake, but when Captain Gramps gunned the motor, it stalled. He kept trying to re-start it, and it wasn’t working. The wind picked up and started to blow the boat in the opposite direction than where we needed to go. For some reason, at that point, I started laughing at the absurdity of the situation. The old people thought I was crazy, and one woman told me that she didn’t think it was very funny.
Somehow, Gramps got the motor fired back up (it died two more times before we made it across the lake). When I got to the bank, I got to meet Steve from MSTA. He was out preparing to fix areas much like the one that I wrecked in, and was obviously wondering WTF a person with a MTB was doing getting out of a pontoon boat full of people that looked like they were on vacation from a retirement home. He and the park ranger made sure I was alright and directed me into the bait-shop place to get cleaned up and get a bag of ice (thanks, guys!)

I was happy to see that it wasn’t my nose that was bleeding (I was worried that I’d broken it). Most of the damage was to the inside of my upper lip (it’s swollen up big time now). I also have a tooth that’s hurting and feeling like it’s slightly out of place (going to the dentist on Monday). Otherwise, everything’s ok. A couple of beers at Flying Saucer made it feel a little better. I’m still racing this weekend (Crude XC in Fayettville).

I don’t know how I’m going to feel once I get back on the bike. I got my bell rung pretty hard this time, but, as always, it could have been worse.

DSC_1628

Update… teeth seem to be ok, though one of them is a little chipped and another is still a bit loose. My face is healing well, though my septum piercing is a little crooked now, so I’m guessing my nose broke a little. I took an artsy photo in the garage before I washed my gloves:

glove

April 14, 2010

Random

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 6:08 am

Last night I went to the RB’s group ride (which, BTW, is covered up in noobsauce and triathletes now). I rode there, into a slight headwind, and my legs felt as if they’d finally relented to not taking a break following the MSGP weekend. I was also feeling a bit loopy, which resulted in my having a conversation with my legs in LOL-speak

At first I was like, ” Ok, legs, let’s get up this hill, we need to get to the group ride!” and my legs were all like, “ROFLCHOPTER!!!”

Then I arrived at RB’s. The ride started, and I wasn’t sure what to expect…

At first I was like, “I can haz triathlete hill attack?” and my legs were like, “Oh, Hai! We were JK!” Then I was all like, “OMG! K THX!!”

Then I stayed off the front for a few miles, got bored and sat up, then attacked the triathletes again when they got bitchy and wanted me to pull 30 seconds after they’d just caught me. Luckily Yoshi was there to play, too.

In other news, I thought of a Haiku while I was driving yesterday:

Windows are rolled down
Three 6 Mafia turned up
Summer in Memphis.

Maybe it’s time to take a rest day.

April 12, 2010

Mississippi Gran Prix Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 9:09 am

This was my 3rd year to race MSGP (I skipped last year because I was in the process of having a road-bike nervous breakdown). It was my first year to be there with a sizable team, and this was my first time playing “team captain” for this year’s Marx-Bensdorf women’s team.

Not really knowing what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses were, it was hard to make a plan. This was obvious in the road race. I will be the first to admit that I’d underestimated a couple of my teammates, and if I’d known better, I would have instructed them a little differently.

Since we had 7 people in the race, the other teams let us get right up front and control the race from the gun (though this was cut down to 6 when Julie flatted early and didn’t get back on). We kept it pretty mellow until about halfway through the first lap when we hit a stretch of light wind & rollers. Here, I started some attacks. Of course, there were a few counters and a little action, but nothing really stuck. The pace remained high, but not impossible until we hit the start/finish area, where Debbie attacked up the hill to what we thought was a time bonus (I could have sworn I heard the official say it was, but later read the race bible and saw that the time bonus was only for finishing)

The second lap was similar- mellow at first, then some attacks. Then Pam went off the front and got a nice gap. For a second, Debbie (Absolute Racing) and Louise (Metro Volkswagen) looked at each other waiting for someone to make a move. A couple of the S3 women stepped up & started to chase, but for a couple of miles, it was somewhat unorganized, and Pam opened the gap.

With about 5k to go, we hit the a long grade. It was enough to let the chasers catch on. Marda and Karin traded a few attacks/counters (which really made me smile), but then Debbie did what she’s famous for and leaped across the gap to Marda, only to keep on going and get a gap of her own. CRAP!

We chased. It was pretty unorganized. We were closing the gap with 1k to go when I made the executive decision to try and get close enough that we could possibly swarm Debbie, and I’d be able to hold on to get “same timed” with the group. I put my head down and hammered it. While not ideal by any means, it nearly worked out that way- she still won by a few bike lengths and got a time bonus, but it minimized the damage. Even after working her butt off and being off the front near the end of the race, Pam still placed 3rd, and everyone else was sprinkled throughout the top 10.

I went to lunch feeling a little frustrated and wishing I could have been a better leader. Thankfully, that night’s TT would help settle our places in the GC and make the decision-making process a little easier for the circuit race.

The TT was painful. It was just under 3 miles and finished on a hill that wasn’t particularly big, but, given its place on the course, at about the 500m to go mark, it made you feel as if your heart was about to explode and your eyes were going to bleed (I think that meant I was doing it right).

For some reason, the women’s RR results were never posted at the TT venue (the TT start times weren’t posted until 15 minutes before the first rider was supposed to go off, either, but that’s another ball of wax…) So, we wouldn’t know who was placed where until the next morning.

In the morning, I decided that in lieu of riding the trainer, I’d ride the 11 or so miles to Copiah-Lincoln Community College for the circuit race. It was both beautiful and relaxing. Even more importantly, it gave me time to think about my team and how I’d plan our strategy for the day.

When I arrived, everyone was there and excited about the results (neither the RR nor the TT results for the women were posted until that morning). I ended up turning a 6:57, which landed me in 3rd for the TT behind Louise (6:44!) and Debbie (6:54). Marda’s 7:01 would put us in 3rd and 4th. If we could get some time bonuses, we could move up. I had a quick pow-wow with the team, then we all went off to finish warming up.

From the gun, Julie jumped out in front. She was caught in the first few turns, then Pam attacked on the hill on the backside of the course. She stumped the field again! They looked at each other waiting for someone to go while she opened it up further. At 51 seconds from the top of the GC, she was somewhat of a threat if she were able to stay away.

In the 2nd lap, Debbie went for a bridge/counter like she’d done the day before. Going in to the 3rd lap, I caught her. She peeked under her arm & told me we had a gap going, and I told her “let’s work it!” A minute later, Louise caught on to us with Marda in tow.

A lap later, Kat came across the gap by herself. This was both good news and bad news:
Good: Kat was a few spots down in the GC, so I could put her to work on the front keeping the tempo up so that Marda and I could (hopefully) sit in to rest up to trade attacks later on in the race.
Bad: Debbie doesn’t like to be outnumbered. I knew that she’d attack relentlessly to try and shell off whoever she could.

I must be psychic, because the next time we approached the little kicker hill before the start/finish, she attacked. We caught her about 1/2way though the next lap. Then she attacked again. And again. And again. Marda and I quickly figured out that the best way to deal with it was to hop on Louise’s wheel and let her “diesel” us back up to Debbie rather than trying to jump with the initial acceleration. The only lap she didn’t attack was the one right before we expected the the time bonus prime lap. On that lap, Louise tried to counter Debbie and ended up leading our pack out for the sprint. Even though she’d been attacking repeatedly, Debbie still got the 1st time bonus and I was 2nd.

The next lap, Marda and I tried to trade attacks/counters, but after a few failed attempts, it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen. All of the chasing had toasted our legs. With 4 to go, I told Kat to give us her best 10 minute TT on the front in order to discourage any more attacks. It was moderately successful. She wasn’t really clear as to why she was supposed to go up and kill herself (it was only her 2nd race ever!) other than I’d told her to (kinda hard to explain that strategy DURING a race), so a few times, she sat up and looked like she wanted someone else to pull, and we’d yell at her to keep going. Of course, there were more attacks. We still hung on, though.

Kat was great to have on the bell lap. Usually everyone slows down and mean-mugs each other waiting for someone to make a move, but she did an exceptional job of maintaining the tempo. We went from the bottom of the kicker hill. Once again, Debbie powered through first, but I was able to hold on for 2nd and Marda 3rd. Kat rolled in 5th, which was excellent for her because just being in the break brought her up several spots in the GC.

Back in the pack, Pam, Karin, and Julie kept everything under control. Pam managed to win the field sprint, too! Unfortunately, getting out-horsepowered kept us off the top podium spots. The final GC placing was 3rd (me), 4th(Marda), 5th (Kat), 7th (Pam), 11th (Karin), and 13th (Julie). Casey was forced to DNF the Circuit race because of pain from a lingering leg injury.

More photos HERE (including other categories)

The team’s performance was excellent! We had a good plan, adapted it as the race unfolded, and did the best we could with what our legs would give us. With a few more watts, we’ll be making up those precious seconds in the TT and be able to lay down a hard attack/counter attack or two when it’s needed.

I’m pretty sure that racing against Debbie Milne is a pain akin to childbirth- severe, yet rewarding enough that you’re willing to do it again and again. The woman moves faster than a scalded cat, and she never gets too tired to stop hurting you all the way until you cross the finish line. Afterward, she smiles and gives you a home-made baked good of some sort… kind of like when the doctor gives a kid a lollipop after getting a round of booster shots. Looking forward to the next race!

April 9, 2010

Road Race, Take 2

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 7:22 am

After DNFing for the first time ever a few weeks ago because of ulnar nerve problems, I made some changes to my mountain bike setup and, even though it still gets a little numb when I’m riding for a long time, I’m not experiencing near the loss of strength and coordination that I had a couple of weeks ago. Of course, being the exercise science geek that I am, I have to have a metric of measuring improvement…

can

I’ll have you know that just two weeks ago, I had to use two hands to pick up the nearly-new 5lb can of whey protein. Now I can palm it long enough for Ryan to snap an iPhone photo…

So I’m ready to give the road racing thing another go with the Mississippi Grand Pix Stage Race. I missed it last year because of my miniature nervous breakdown that prompted me to sell the TT bike and get in to this MTB stuff. This year should be interesting because I’ll have a team with me. Of course, Debbie Milne will be there as well. She’s been injured, but I also haven’t been putting the time in on the road bike, so I’m sure the battle will be lung-searing as usual. One missing “player” that’s usually on the podium is Shannon Koch (see link to her site in the blogroll). Previously, she’s dominated the time trial and made us race for 2nd on Sunday. However, this year, she’s off racing in Europe (another on the long list of former Metro teammates that have since become even more awesome).

Hey, I’m working on it.

April 8, 2010

Kayak!

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 9:57 am

This semester at U of M, part of my teaching duties is to supervise several student interns. One of them happens to be a badass sponsored Kayaker who is doing her internship at a local community center where she and her boyfriend (also a badass) teach a kayaking class. So, as part of my supervisory duties, I participated in a class.

I’m sure I made a wonderful first impression- she gave me her spray skirt to use, couldn’t get it on over my butt, and had to have help to pull it on over my head. Then, when I went to sit in the boat (also hers), we had to remove the padding from the hip area.

Hey- life’s not always easy when you’ve got one of these:
bmw_m5_v10_2

Once I was in the water, the first thing I learned was how to bail out if I got turned upside down and couldn’t right myself. I thought it was pretty easy, though I can see how it’d freak some people out. Next, I started learning the basic roll- tipping upside down then using my paddle/hips to roll rightside-up.

After a little practice and a couple of failed attempts at doing it on my own, one of the instructors noticed that I wasn’t actually getting my paddle out of the water once I was upside-down, so I wasn’t really getting the “push” from it that I needed. So, next attempt, I fixed that, and BAM! Up I went! (which also elicited few cheers from some of the other people in the pool)

I managed a couple more successful rolls before moving on to how to paddle and turn. By the end of the class, I was actually a bit worn out. It was a lot of fun, and a useful skill to add to my repertoire.

April 5, 2010

SS day #2 @ Syllamo

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 9:14 am

Yesterday, Ryan and I headed out to the Orange and Blue trails to ride the portion of the Syllamo’s Revenge course that we’d skipped the day before. I found that not only was my hanger bent, but the cage on my rear DR was cracked, so I was still pushing a 36 x 23 and staying off the shifters.

Side note- I know a lot of Arkasas guys ride a 32 x 20, which I didn’t realize was nearly the same gear ratio until I did a little calculation. Woohoo!

Just to start the day off right, Ryan ended up taking a stick to his derailleur about 30 minutes into the ride. His hanger ripped apart- luckily he had a replacement, and we were back on the trail a few minutes later. I was still feeling good, and was really getting the hang of negotiating some of the steeper technical sections without the aid of a granny gear. Once we were a few miles into the Orange trail, we started a little climbing. My legs started to feel tired- not just from standing to get up some of the hills, but also from standing on the rocky descents.

If you’ve never ridden the Blue trail at Syllamo, I think the best way I can describe it is one of the more physically and mentally challenging things I’ve ever done. The descents and climbs are all rocky and steep- either large stuff you have to dodge (like Blowout Mt on the Ouachita Trail) or loose “shingles” that slide around as you roll over them. It’s also the only trail that drops all the way down to “river” level before climbing ~2.5 miles back up to Green Mountain Road. It’s the type of trail that some people will swear off and others will pay homage to for making them stronger and tougher.

After the first couple of short, steep hills, I could tell that my legs were getting ready to throw in the towel. At the Highway 5 trailhead, we stopped to have a snack and take a break before heading back uphill. The next mile or so of trail before the 2nd highway crossing was tedious- a couple of steep, rocky hills (and one 350 deg switchback w/a 2 foot drop in the middle) eventually ended in bike-hiking. My legs were really starting to disagree with what I was doing, and my brain was trying to bail with them.

Side note- I think that the term “curse like a sailor” could quite accurately be replaced with “curse like a singlespeeder.”

Once we crossed the highway (and Livingston Creek for the 3rd time), we started to ascend Scrappy Mountain. It’s a tough climb- every bit as steep as Chalybeate on the Ouachita and twice as rocky. The combination of fatigue and terrain took its toll on me as we hiked/grinded up the switchbacks. At one point, I was trying to charge up a short pitch when I accidentally steered into a rock that twisted my front wheel around and body-slammed me onto the ground.

Ow. That hurt. I sat there for a couple of minutes to re-group and let the sting in my hip and elbow subside. Mentally and physically, the mountain had broken me.

Luckily, we were near the top. I hiked up a couple of hills that I might have ridden if my legs hadn’t checked out a few minutes earlier, and eventually finished off the final pitch of logging road climb to make it back out on to Green Mountain road. That’s got to be on the top 20 list of toughest stretches of trail you can find this side of the Rockies. It’ll challenge your fitness and keep you on your toes (literally and figuratively) the entire time (I think its relative shortness will keep it out of the top 10). It’s gonna be a killer for some people in the upcoming race!

April 3, 2010

Sometimes you’re the hammer…

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 7:41 pm

…sometimes you’re the nail.

Sometimes you accidentally leave all of the conventional tools at home and have to do it Macgyver style.

macgyver

This weekend, Ryan, Eric, and I are in Mountain View. The plan was for Ryan and I to ride the Syllamo’s Revenge race course today, but, from the get-go, thing weren’t going as planned. Somehow, I ended up leaving my beloved Wingnut pack at home (luckily, Ryan had brought an extra hydration pack). That, in and of itself, sucks, because it’s soooo much more comfortable than anything else. However, inside the pack are mine and Ryan’s multi tools, my trail saw, and a spare derailleur hanger.

But wait, there’s more!

I also left my keys at home. I didn’t realize it until we pulled up to the cabin (thank goodness there was a spare in a lock box). To top it all off, I forgot my super awesome memory foam pillow. Crap.

Nonetheless, we headed out to the trails around 10 this morning. We started by dropping down Blanchard Springs Rd. to the campground so that I could get a feel for how the climb & initial singletrack would ride. The climb back was fine, but once we entered the singletrack, things got hairy. It rained a couple of hours last night, so the wet rocks and mud were pretty trecherous. We picked our way through the bad spots and eventually made it to the blue trail.

I was booking along when suddenly, a branch lodged itself in my rear derailleur. I heard it and immediately stopped pedaling, which probably limited the damage, but left me with a horribly bent hanger. I made several attempts at muscleing it back in to place, but it was still prettymuch unusable. I started to resign myself to walking out and ending my weekend early.

bent

Then I reminded myself of the post I made just a couple of days ago about wanting a Singlespeed. Guess there’s no better time than the present, eh?

Ryan and I made a quick calculation about what combination of gears to use, set the grip shift to get close to it, then turned the barrel adjuster until the chain was somewhat quiet on the cassette. Bam. Singlespeed.

OMG! Fun!!!

The first time you ride with one gear, you quickly figure out that your brakes are your biggest nemesis, momentum your biggest ally, and muscle dominates where you once relented to shifting to a lower gear. I’m pretty hooked. I rode about another 30 miles after that on the green, red, and remaining yellow trail and ended up with just over 40 miles for the day. Freaking awesome. I felt like a rock star. Need. More.

So, tomorrow, we’re going out to the Orange and Blue trails. Lots more climbing and rocks. I can’t wait to try it. It’s going to hurt in the best possible ways.

April 1, 2010

I need a SS

Filed under: Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 5:15 am

I’m really, really jonesing for a singlespeed 29er. However, between taxes and recent purchases, the money tree has been pruned. If anyone out there is willing to help, I’m willing to be your schill… just shoot me an email: andrea @ brickhouseracing.com

March 30, 2010

Meanwhile, in Alabama…

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 10:25 am

While I was out gallivanting in the Ouachitas, Ryan was at the Tour de Tuscaloosa with the team. They had a pretty successful weekend of racing (including a 1-2 finish in the Women’s 3/4 crit!) Ryan managed to get into a breakaway during the road race and ended up 3rd! He wrote a nice race report on his blog

I’m really proud of him :)

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