Jet9 has Landed

I finally finished the Jet9 build last night (minus one IS mount for the rear brake). I was ecstatic when I hung it on the scale with no pedals and saw 24 pounds, 7 oz, though with pedals on it came in at a hair over 25 pounds

DSC_1713

No worries, though- today or tomorrow, FedEx will be delivering a set of Eggbeater 2ti pedals, which I’ll immediately rebuild with a set of Wade Industries ti spindles. So, hopefully that will drop the weight back down under 25. Fingers crossed ;)

Of course, I haven’t been able to ride it other than up & down the street a couple of times because the local trails are soaked right now. I might try to swing an early week trip to Syllamo next weekend, though.

Enjoy:

DSC_1719

DSC_1721

DSC_1718

Cable Housing: Alligator I-Link vs. Nokon

I put Alligator I-link housing on my Air9 last year, and I’ve been really happy with it. Ryan’s Titus needed new derailleur housing/cables, and I got a deal on some Nokon (which is normally much more expensive than I-Links), so I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s the rundown:

Looks. If you’re interested in looks, then Nokon wins. That is, if you have enough of the segments to house your entire bike. On a mountain or CX bike, you’re going to need extras. I ended up using a standard piece of housing for the aft front derailleur section. Nothing like cursing your way through an entire install (more on that later) only to find you can’t finish it up right unless you purchase more parts. Here are some photo comparisons:

DSC_0176

DSC_1707

Installation: Alligator wins, hands-down. It’s pretty self-explanatory. You run the cable through the liner, then run the whole thing through the sections of links that you size to match the length of your old housing. The links snap together and slide on/off of the cable/liner very easily, so it’s a quick insallation.

Nokon, on the other hand, is a total pain. The sections do not snap together, so you have to thread them on to the liner in order to test-fit the housing length. They don’t thread on easily (their fit on the liner is really tight). It’s difficult to keep the liner flush with the hole where the cable exits the shifter, and the kit isn’t actually made to run the liner continuously (though I did it, anyway). Like I said before, if you’re installing it on to anything other than a road bike, you’re likely going to need extra Nokon links. The cables are fat and uncoated as well.

Performance: I’ve been using the I-links for several months now- ocassionally in some horrible conditions. They’ve never let me down. The Nokons seem to be ok for now, and I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t do just as well. Time will tell on that one.The I-link system is reported to be lighter, also. I have not weighed them myself, but that’s the general consensus on various internet forums.

So, there you have it. My verdict is, unless you are wanting the “prettiest” housing system out there, go with Alligator. It’s cheaper, lighter, and 11ty billion times easier to install.

Dirt, Sweat, and Gears Race Report (round 2, FIGHT!)

Yeah, I know, it’s been a few days, but I’ve been busy! (mostly working on bikes and trying to re-assemble the house since we arrived home Sunday afternoon and dumped everything either in the garage or the floor of the bedroom)

Anyway- this is how it all went down…

Saturday morning, we got up and started trying to figure out Ryan’s shifting issues. Turns out, the cage of his derailleur was bent. Knock on my carbon X.0 stuff all you want, but I like the honesty of it. There’s no middle ground. No bending, denting, tweaking, etc. It’s either broken or not broken. Nothing to guess about. Luckily, he’d brought a spare and was able to replace it.

Next we went to the pancake breakfast at the tent near the start/finish. It was run by a church group, and they told everyone in line near me that if they ate their ration of 2 pancakes & 2 pieces of sausage and were still hungry, that they could come back for more. I did just that. Or, atleast I tried to. They turned me away because not everyone had been rationed 2 pancakes yet. Apparently, they’d left that part out of their previous instructions. We had more food at the tent, anyway. Ryan also gave me a really cute birthday card.

Eventually, we headed over to stage our bikes for the shotgun LeMans start. As everyone lined up, I only saw a few faces/kits that I knew, so I wasn’t really sure who all I was up against. The countdown started… as they neared “go,” a large man dressed head to toe in camo (mask included) came running out from the direction of the woods yelling, “HEY, WHAT’RE Y’ALL DOIN HERE?!” and shooting his rifle into the air several times. Hands down, best start to a race, ever.

We were off. The first two laps were pretty uneventful. I rode my own pace. Ryan and I ended up riding some of the course together. I could out-tech him and he generally out-climbed me. Since the end of the course featured several non-technical doubletrack climbs, he finished each lap a few minutes ahead. At the end of the 2nd lap, he stuck around the start/finish area and had the announcer wish me a happy birthday as I rode through. Awwwww… warm & fuzzy, I know.

At this point, it had started to get kinda cloudy. A few sprinkles of rain fell, but nothing major. That is, until I was about 2 miles in to the 3rd lap. I heard a loud noise in the trees that sounded like a downpour, but it wasn’t raining. Until I turned a corner, where I saw literally a wall of downpour on the trail ahead of me. Insanity!!!! The wet part of the trail was like ice. I got pretty proficient at unclipping and hanging a foot out in order to catch myself as I slid through the turns. The next mile or so was horrible. Then, suddenly, I was on perfectly dry trail. Then wet, horrible, sticking mud (like last year!) that forced me to hike. Then dry trail. Apparently, only one side of the ridge that the trail wound back & forth across had been rained on! I was mentally prepared for it this time. I knew that I had to carry my bike if I wanted to move quickly, so I did. That lap took all of 2 hours. The promoter ended up shortening the course to take a lot of the mud out, though since the two other women ahead of me (OMG! I was in 3rd place!) has started their 4th full lap, I had to as well.

Lap 4 was hard. For some reason, the chamois in my shorts had decided that it was a good day to attempt to give me labiaplasty. I changed shorts before going back out, but was still in a lot of pain. On top of that, a couple of miles in, I felt like I was bonking a little. My fault- I hadn’t been eating the mid-lap gel that I should have been eating. I had to eat more and back off the pace a bit and let my food digest. Then, about 2/3rds of the way through, the muscle in my right leg that I’d severely bruised the day before cramped up while I was negotiating a steep pitch of trail. I jumped off my bike in horrible pain and tried to stretch/massage it out as best I could. That one spot gave me issues the rest of the day (though the rest of my muscles seemed to behave themselves). About 3 miles from the end of the lap, Amanda Carey (who would go on to win) passed me on her 5th lap (first of the shortened version of the course). We chatted for a minute before she rode on.

Even though there was still a pretty bad portion of trail included in the shortened version of the course, it was drying out quickly. I was feeling a bit in laps 5 and 6 (though I’d been passed while I was in the pit and was down to 4th place). Then, somewhere near mile 4 or 5 of the loop, I was muscling over some rocks when my chain popped. I cursed and pulled off the trail to see what happened. Apparently, it had come apart at the quick link! No problem, I thought. I’ve got a spare in my seat pack.

Wait. Where the ***k is my seat pack?!?! No idea except that it wasn’t on my bike. I was screwed. I had to go back down to the pit to repair it. When I got to the pit, there were NO 9 speed chain repairing parts in the tool box. WHAT.THE.HELL. I was livid and throwing tools out hoping to find something buried in the dirt in the bottom corner of the box. No luck. I started walking around to other pits looking for a link or pin or anything and finally found someone with a spare quicklink. I installed it and hurried back up to the trail. My leg cramped on the way up, so I had to walk some of the hill. Once I was back on the trail, I realized that my drivetrain was all boogered up. The chain was making noises like it was ready to explode at any second. I channeled Emily Brock’s Honey Badger, gritted my teeth, and just kept going (mmm… delicious snake).

At the end of 6, I wasn’t in great shape- the cramps had hit my leg hard enough that the entire muscle was feeling like I’d pulled something, my unfortunate chafing from earlier was hurting like hell, and my drivetrain sounded like it was on death’s door. I couldn’t have quit for anything, though. After a little break, I went back out (leaving Ryan in the tent with his pulled pork sandwich). The next lap was a blur. All I remember was eating gel, occasionally cramping, and hallucinating a little bit. When I came back in from my 7th lap, it was about 7 o’clock. I stopped.

Sure, I could have attempted a night lap, and, with 2 hours to go, there is a chance I would have finished it. I was done, though. My right inner thigh was almost a permanent knot, and I was worried that I might be causing some sort of damage in the form of pulling or spraining the muscle. I looked at the running tally of laps for my category, and it turns out that the woman in 3rd was out on her 9th lap, so an 8th one for me would not change the standings.

It was time to clean up and start the recovery process. After a water-jug shower and nearly passing out in the tent, we headed over to the finish area for food and drinks. My brain was only half functioning, but the food brought me around a little. Hamilton Creek brewery makes some excellent recovery beverages. After watching some of the podium presentations, we turned in for the night.

At midnight, something horrible happened. I was awoken by music- loud techno music- coming from the Union College tent right next to us. I yelled at them to turn it down, but it was so loud that they couldn’t hear me. I took several deep breaths and repeated to myself, “murder is illegal, even if it’s justified” before getting out of the tent and walking over to them and politely reminding them that it was midnight, and a lot of people were probably trying to sleep, including myself. They seemed annoyed, but lucky for them, they turned it down.

It rained on & off all night, so when we got up in the morning, we tossed everything in the car (in the rain) and went to Shoney’s, where were promptly consumed somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 calories apiece in breakfast buffet. That was followed up with Mama Mia’s pizza once we arrived back in Memphis (we got a medium & munched on it for the remainder of the day) and belated birthday dinner at New Asia with my parents. We were like bottomless pits. It was awesome.

So, my April/May overload draws to a close. I took a couple of days off to let my leg & ladyparts heal up, and now I’m ready to get back to training for my midsummer peak at Marathon Nationals.

DSG- the day before

Well, today has been “interesting.” I won’t say “bad,” because, well, I’ve had much, much worse days than today, but it hasn’t been all roses, either.

First, on the way here, we decided to try the GPS’s suggestion of using highway 50 to cut off a chunk of I-40/65 to and from Nashville. Problem was, part of 50 was closed due to flood damage, so we ended up detouring through some crazy back roads. We saw some wild flood/wind damage out there, as well as some places where mudslides had, at one point, been covering the road.

Once we got to Cotton Mill Preserve, we set up camp, had a snack, and pucked up our registration packets. Somewhere in the midst of all that, Ryan lost his spare key to my car. I’m not worried- it’ll turn up, but he’s been freaking out about it for a solid 7 hours now.

The pre-ride wasn’t exactly wonderful, either. First, I had a mishap with some rocks on a slightly technical section that I’d hit pretty well at CrudeXC a few weeks ago. I managed to fall over into a patch of poison ivy with my right leg pinned between my handlebars and my top tube. It hurt. Bad. I’m sitting here with ice on the inside of my right quad while I type. Then Ryan’s shifting started effing up. I thought I’d done a good job at re-cabling it and whatnot, but apparently not. We still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with it. A new chain & some barrel adjuster tweaking hasn’t improved anything.

After we rode & worked on the bike, we headed over to the vendor area for dinner. However, the pasta dinner people were packing up to go home. So, we went to a sandwich booth. I asked if they had anything vegetarian, and the guy told me no- all they had was lettuce because their good tomato shipment hadn’t come in yet, so he can’t make a vegetarian sandwich.

WTF? Seriously? So a vegetarian sandwich is apparently just lettuce and tomato.

So we went & ate Mexican food. That’s about it. Ryan is grouchy and I am tired.My ice pack just leaked on my sleeping bag.

I just came here to race.

Please?

Contingency Plan

This weekend is not only my birthday (15th!), but also my 2nd try at the Dirt, Sweat, and Gears 12 hour. Last year, things went horribly wrong when rain at the start turned the course into a disaster area of dense, sticking mud. You couldn’t roll a bike on the ground because it would immediately clog so horribly that the wheels couldn’t turn.I resorted to carrying Ryan’s road bike for 3 miles in order to get in my whole 2 laps.

The current prediction for Saturday’s weather is a 40% chance of storms. So, I’ve got a contingency plan- if it rains, I keep riding the MTB until the mud starts to stick. When that happens, get to the pit and swap out for my CX bike. Being lighter and less cumbersome to shoulder, it will be easier if the course is reduced to hiking as it was last year. I even threw a skinny (27c!) grass tire on the rear for mud clearance, so it should be able to roll if I need it to.

DSC_1688

DSC_1689

DSC_1690

Vote for Collin

Update, as of 5.12.10

Sadly, Collin passed on this afternoon. The video contest was won by someone else, but it’s somewhat of a moot point now.

Some of you have asked what the “Team Collin” stickers are about on my mountain bike’s fork. Here’s a link to a short video explaining who Collin is and part of what the amazing crowd in the Road Bike Review “Lounge” have done to help him and his family out: http://video.bicycling.com/contests/win_any_bike_contest_2010/vote/8YWJHC2JJFSGCVG6

You can also see the rest of Collin’s story and frequent updates on his CaringBridge Site

If you want to help out, vote for this video. Get your friends to vote for this video. Tell everyone you know, and post a link on your own blog, website, or social networking venue of choice. If you want to help out financially, email me (andrea @ brickhouseracing.com), and I’ll direct you to where you can donate. Thanks!

Happy Mother’s Day

Ok, so I originally had this story in my last post, but it just didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the post, and well, it’s just kind of “weird.” So, I took it out shortly after the last posting. My mom read it first, though, and she called today requesting that I re-write it because it was her favoritest thing ever…

A few miles in to my solo ride home from where I’d split from the Outdoors Ride group, I rode by a cemetary and had what I can only explain as a psychic experience. As I approached, I noticed two African American men standing next to each other, hands in their pockets, heads down, looking at a memorial. Passing by, one of them looked up at me. At the same instant, I felt intense sadness. It sucked the breath out of my lungs as if it had traveled across the headwind from him and been absorbed into my capillaries. I believe those were two family members (probably brothers) that were visiting their mom at the cemetary. No idea really how I know, but that’s the sort of feeling I got. It was hard not to start crying- I felt as if I’d been shot. I did my best to compose my thoughts, and the next chance I got, pulled over to call my mom & wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

Fun with Group Rides

Since I’ve been out of town so much racing and MTB riding, it’s been a while since I’ve done the staple roadie weekend rides (Trinity and Outdoors). Ryan left on Friday to go to the Joe Martin Stage Race. Since I’m not really interested in (or fit enough to) race the NRC level road races, I stayed home.

Side note- a few of my M-B teammates raced the 3/4 race. They freaking KILLED it. Kathrine Williams pulled off a sweep, winning all 3 stages. Pam Tate wasn’t far behind, finishing 5th in the GC. We’ve got an awesome damn team.

Last week, my Quarq Cinqo finally came in. I’ve been without a powermeter since I got the Trek since the older wired SRM I have wouldn’t fit the bottom bracket. However, I can’t get it to stay calibrated, so I’m sending it back for repair on Monday. I decided I wanted to get back to training with power, so Friday night I put the BH Connect back together with the SRM.

Saturday morning came early (I stayed out a bit late with friends at Flying Saucer- my night to celebrate the once a week alcohol allowance I’ve imposed on myself for weight/training/health/financial purposes). I drug myself out of bed and started making breakfast. For some odd reason, after never liking them my entire life, I’ve recently started craving eggs for breakfast. Alton Brown’s omelette recipe is top-notch.

The ride got off to a slow start. Someone got a flat tire, and while we were standing around waiting, I made the comment that flats aren’t that bad, but I hate when someone decides that the 30 seconds following the flat change is the perfect time to attack and rile up the group. So, naturally, Bryant Funston did just that. He also glanced back at me at one point (I was about 15 feet from closing the gap to his rear wheel in a solo bridge attempt), smirked a bit, and took off like a scalded cat. I dropped back to the group. We caught him a few minutes later, and I made sure to tell him that he was a jerk (in the nicest possible way, of course).

Out of this group, Dale and Jarret were the only ones that survived the ensuing chase…
triathletes

The remainder of the ride was tough. As a group, we rode hard as a group to the Galloway store. After a quick break, we headed towards home, though I was forced to stop at the park in Arlington when I started getting an unpleasant feeling in my gut. Must have been the beer. I finished the last hour of the ride alone in the headwind (a better option than what might have happened if I hadn’t stopped).

The rest of my day was spent laying around and occasionally snacking & napping. I replaced the chainrings on Ryan’s MTB crank. Torx bolts are lame. Mainly because we don’t have many Torx-head tools. Improvisation was needed.

fixed

Sunday, I wanted to get in a little more distance. I headed out the door to the Outdoors on Union around 8:00. After getting warmed up, I made sure to keep my wattage at a goo0d tempo pace. The group wasn’t huge, but it was full of tough love. Someone had a flat tire early on. He informed us that he didn’t bring anything to change a flat. We left him.

Once we left Watkins on the way to the General Store, the group turned on itself. Unlike the hard but cooperative effort of the Trinity group, the Outdoors ride is no-holds-barred, every man (and woman) for himself. I don’t always make it in with the lead group. However, this time I hung in. The power numbers I saw when I downloaded the SRM data at home made me smile a little.

At the General Store, I made a new friend. “Rooster” jokes abounded.
rooster

Instead of heading back in with the group, I headed east to ride home the long way. There was a tiny bit of a headwind, so I paced myself a bit. I figured the best thing to do was to start churning out some more good tempo. By the time I got to Arlington, I felt good. I actually felt really good, which is a wonderful thing at mile 65 of 85. I was hauling by the time I got back to town. Someone in an SUV with Memphis Runners and a “26.2” sticker on the rear window turned in front of me, forcing me to slam on my brakes to prevent a broadside collision. I gave them a giant “WTF” face and hoped to catch them at the next light. Jerk.

So that’s a roundup of a weekend of not much happening. Now I’m laying around with the dogs watching “Memphis Memoirs” on channel 10. I’m pretty stoked with some of the wattage I was able to put out this weekend. I also figured out that I love the BH. I knew the Trek just didn’t seem right. Don’t get me wrong… it’s an awesome bike, but I feel at one with the BH. It’s pretty amazing.