Sunday Mornings

Honey-Do list

None of the above. My only obligation is two wheels, pavement, and keeping up with the testosterone-fueled hammer fest that happens every Sunday morning at 9:00 am on the West side of Shelby County.

Yesterday was tough… Ryan and I rode a century, and I had a monkey on my back from mile 30. I spent most of the 5.5 rolling hours staring at his rear wheel and trying to ignore the voice in my head telling me to turn off at any of the numerous short cuts.
So, this morning, I wasn’t sure how my legs would respond to the demands of 75 miles of group ride- 40 of which was the Outdoors ride- notoriously fast. Turns out that my brain checked out sometime around mile 70 yesterday and was still AWOL at that point. I was spaced out enough that I thought I’d left my sunglasses at the Outdoors store meet-up spot. Turns out, they were on my face the whole time. It worked out well for me- I felt numb to the pain in my legs, and several times, I caught myself wondering…

“How the ufck am I doing this right now?”

“Please sir, may I have another?!?”

Mostly, though, I was wondering how I was able to pull off the efforts I was putting in. I’ll be damned if I’m the last to the top of the hill or across the county line. It was nice to have my brain on vacation, because it took a lot less effort to ignore it.

The plan is to train all the way through both Spa City 6 hour, Rouge Roubaix, and Spring Break the week after. It’s going to be really, really tough, but it’s not going to kill me, so…

Saddle Swapping

I haven’t posted a “saddle update” in a while… if you’ve been reading since the beginning, you know that I’ve had quite the time trying to find a saddle that doesn’t somehow cause pain or injury to my undercarriage. I finally settled on the Selle Italia SLR Lady- wide enough (155mm), a large cutout, and a tolerable amount of padding.

Well, the first Selle Italia SLR Lady finally wore out. I ordered a new one, but soon after, a friend of mine from the Road Bike Review Lounge sent a saddle to me- a while back, I’d tried the Selle Italia Diva, but found that the padding was excessive. Instead of giving it away, I sent it to him and he removed the cover & padding, then replaced it with a thin layer of foam and new leather-ish cover. I rode it for nearly 160 miles over the weekend and absolutely loved it. Photos:

160mm wide and <200g!!
160mm wide and <200g!!


Sunday, Ryan and I were in Outdoors Inc. when I noticed that Fizik has a new women’s saddle- the Vesta. It’s like the Vitesse (a decently wide, curvy saddle), but with a pressure-relief channel down the middle. I asked if there was a demo model, but they didn’t have one. However, Joel, the bike shop manager said he’d like a review of it, so he let me take it to give it a whirl. Sweet! I’m gonna head out for ~50 miles tomorrow since the weather is going to be pretty nice.

I’m wondering if Fizik saw this post that I made a little more than a year ago…

Falling into place

Another weekend, another buildup in training volume- 30 easy on Friday, 71 w/the Trinity group on Saturday, then 86 miles w/Ryan and a couple of guys from BPC on Sunday. Not sure what I’ll end up doing today- probably something on the trainer since it’s in the 20’s outside.

It’s nice to do some tougher rides and still feel pretty strong at the end. Hopefully next weekend, I’ll get in another 70ish on Saturday and a century on Sunday. The weekend after will be Spa City, then Rouge Roubaix. I figure I’ll train through Spa City since it’s an NRC race, and even if I’m at my peak, I still won’t have too much of a chance against the likes of riders like Rebecca Rusch. It’ll still be fun to test the legs, though.

I’m mostly looking forward to Rouge. Hopefully the new team bike will be in by then. This year, I won’t be carrying water bottles, so I’m even more eager to see who shows up for the battle…



On Sunday, Ryan and I decided to head back to Memphis instead of braving the cold (and check-out time) with the small group of teammates that rode in Oxford. After lunch, we headed out for a 50 miler that, if it weren’t so nice & sunny out, would have had death-march potential because of lingering tired/soreness from the day before (I think Ryan felt it more than I did because he’s had less training time, and just spent a few days in China for work).

Sunday evening, my throat started to hurt. I was hoping that it was just from talking a lot during the past few days of riding. However, Monday, when I woke up, it was a little worse, and my legs were still stiff and sore. Monday night I started getting a stuffy nose, which was a little worse today. The cherry on top was my visit to the ExPhys lab this morning- I’m participating in a research study, and, as part of the baseline measurements, they took a resting heart rate…

Never got below 50bpm.

I usually run somewhere in the high 30’s, so this was abnormal. The soreness, upper respiratory crud, and elevated RHR are typically signs that I’ve overdone it. So, tonight I think I’ll just stick to lifting and spin class (it’s tempting to try and ride outside right now because the sun is out… but the windchill is <20). I actually don’t mind feeling like this- as long as I recover properly, it will only make me better next time.

My first endurance race of the season (Spa City 6hr) is fast approaching, as is the first road race (Rouge Roubaix). I’m starting to feel my focus coming back…

Marx-Bensdorf Training Camp- Day 2

Saturday was the meat of training camp. We rolled out of the hotel in Oxford around 9:00am under cloudy skies with a cold north wind. The first hour or so, we rode a nice tempo in double pacelines. The other 4 women that showed up did a great job of working with the group- I was very happy to see that they were comfortable riding in a tight formation.

Once we were about 20 miles out, the group split in to teams (MB Women, MB Men, and BPC Men) and we spent the next ~10 miles working on rotating pacelines. Though they hadn’t had much experience, the ladies caught on quickly and soon enough, we were hittin’ a lick down the road and looking like we were old hats at this stuff ;)

After the Water Valley rest stop, we headed back into the headwind. After about 15 miles, a small group of us split off to ride the same out & back that we’ done on Friday. I was the only woman who stuck around for that one, so I knew it’d be a test of my legs. Luckily, I felt pretty damn strong considering the mileage and wind!

We arrived back at the hotel with a little over 80 miles. With some of the day’s efforts, I feel like I’m totally on track to do well at Rouge Roubaix in a few weeks. All I need now is some warm weather. Something about the cold slows me down, and I always feel as if there’s an “ON” switch that gets thrown the first day I get out in just a jersey & shorts…

New Sponsor

If you take a look at the links over to the right, you’ll notice I added a new category for sponsors. I’d like to thanks Travis at the new Daddymart online bike shop for helping me out with the build parts for the Jet9 (that won’t actually be here until almost May) He’s in the process of building up his inventory, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for on there, then just shoot him an email and he can usually get what you need. If you use the coupon code “brickhouse” when you order, you can get an additional 15% off of your total!


I’m still in the process of gathering sponsors to help with a somewhat ambitious moutain bike season. I’m planning on entering a couple of NRC Endurance races as well as 4-5 100milers in the NUE series. If you’re reading this, and you’re interested in helping, let me know (!

Marx-Bensdorf Training Camp- Day 1

Unlike ride #1 of the Metro VWÂ training camp last year, this ride didn’t include any road rage or broken windows. In fact, the only bad thing that happened during our first ride was a metric crap-ton of flat tires.

We rode out & back from the Oxford Holiday Inn and headed to Sardis Lake (about 30 miles round trip). Prettymuch the only “skill” we practiced was paceline riding along the way back. It was nice to see everyone transitioning from a disorganized blob into two tight lines. A few miles from the hotel, we played around with a few short attacks. I decided to participate just to see what the legs were feeling like. Surprisingly, I managed to keep up, though I wasn’t able to turn the screws too hard (a combination of lack of higher intensity training, sore legs from getting back into the weightroom a couple of times this week, and the 5 pounds I’ve gained since the weather got nasty and I lost motivation to ride for hours on end).

So, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m hoping to get some good training in for myself and also am eager to see what type of horsepower the MB Ladies are going to bring to the asphalt. For now, it’s time for dinner & beer…

Consolation Prize!

I ended up holding on to the TBRA CX BAR points lead!!! WOOt! I call it my consolation prize since, barring mechanical difficulty, it’s pretty safe to say that Kim F. can give me a sound beating in a cyclocross race

So, Congrats to Kim for winning the CX 1/2/3 championship race over the weekend! I wasn’t about to drive 8 hours though the winter weather in hopes that her bike would somehow explode during the race, so I was a little worried that Kim Bishop, who was not too far behind me in points, would pass me by since I was missing the last two points races of the season.

Full results: TBRA CX 1/2/3 series standings

Boring weekend

Blah… I was planning on driving up to Johnson City on Friday to race in the last of the TBRA CX points races, but a freak ice storm came through instead. I wasn’t about to make the 8 hour trek in sleet, snow, and freezing rain. So, I just stayed home to tackle some time on the trainer. Blah. At least I got in a good threshold inteval workout this morning. Probably the only “structured” training I’ve done so far…

I’m guessing that tomorrow will be more of the same. I hate ice and snow! Anyone down in a warmer clime want to put me up for the rest of the winter?!

Southern Cross Race Report

Even though the temps hovered in the 40s and clouds enveloped the upper elevations of the climbs on course, it was much, much nicer than it could have been if the race hadn’t been rescheduled from a couple of weeks ago when several inches of snow fell and temps hung in the low 20’s.

It’s not often that I get butterflies, but after losing last year to Carey Lowery in the last 100 meters of race course, I had more reason than payout to do well this year (unfortunately, Carey wasn’t able to make it this year because of a recent surgery). Before the race start, I rode around the CX loop that we’d circle before and after the 50something mile gravel route through the national forest. This loop was a lot easier than the Mulberry Gap loop from last year, so I wasn’t too worried.

When the race started, I tried to make the best use of the cross course to get ahead of the other women. My strategy worked well, and I ended up entering the gravel just a little behind the group of men’s race leaders. Once I got away from Camp Wahsega, I forced myself to settle into a sustainable tempo (I have a bad habit of starting out too fast). The first climb (Winding Stair) went by quickly, and soon enough, I passed the aid station, headed up a few more miles, then started the descent down to several miles of pavement.

I like descents… other than having to stop for a lost water bottle (damn crappy cage!), I hauled all sorts of ass. The way I see it, descents are free time if you can go faster than your competition without wrecking or having a mechanical. I set my brakes up especially for this- I can grab my drops and wrap a finger or two around the brake lever without rubbing the pad on the rim unless I squeeze it a little more.

The road section was where I knew I could make up time on the other women. With ladies like Emily Brock and Brenda Simril chasing you, playing up your strengths can be pivotal… I got in my drops and put my head down, maintaining the same strong tempo effort I’d hit on the way up the first climb. At one point, the Applegates passed me on their tandem. Sweet! They ended up going slightly slower than what I was originally aiming for, but the energy-saving benefit of sitting behind a 29er tandem when there’s a headwind is pretty awesome.

Once we were back on the gravel, the second climb started soonafter. The Applegates & I were back & fourth- they were generally faster on the flat/downhill streches and I was a little faster uphill. This was also where my legs started to ache. For a minute, I slowed down, but then I recalled the hours of trail and road riding in Mountain View that I’d put in during Winter Break. So, I gritted my teeth, cleared the whiney thoughts from my head, and pushed harder.

Miles later, I stopped at the last aid station to quickly get a little water and toss my vest, which had been bothering me since the zipper stuck halfway down a few miles back. At that point, the Applegates passed me again (I wasn’t really racing them, but they acted a little bit as a rabbit to chase to keep me going). A few miles later, the final descent began. At first, it was foggy and rocky. I was a little cautious for the first section since a wreck, flat, or broken equipment would be pretty disasterous. However, once it smoothed out, I went back to going all-out. A couple of times, I felt my rear wheel skidding precariously around the damp, sandy turns… it was both incredibly fun and incredibly terrifying all at once. (The Applegates left me in the dust- they not only had a heavy & very stable machine with fatter tires & front suspension, they also have the skill and cajones to take full advantage of it!)

Soon enough, I was back at Camp Wahsega. Eddie set up a killer run-up (everyone said it was worse than last year, but I didn’t think so) and a little singletrack to navigate before re-entering the CX loop. When I got to the base, I noticed that Ryan was about halfway up. Happy to be off my bike, I shouldered it and started to climb. Once I got to the top, I hopped back on and headed down some rooty trail, over a few trees, and around the last couple of bridges before re-entering the course (I also managed to pass Ryan somewhere along the way). As I entered the section of barriers, I caught back up to the Applegates. I thought about attacking & diving around them, but then figured it wasn’t really all that important, so I told them that I’d back off so we could all have good finishing photos (hopefully those will surface soon!)

So my hard work paid off… I finished ~20 minutes ahead of the 2nd place woman. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. I’ve got a lot more work to do before I’m 100% ready to conquer my first 100 miler in a few months.

HUGE thanks to Eddie and Namrita O’Dea for putting this race on. It’s always going to be one of my favorites, and I LOVE that they pay the women out the same as the men ($500 for 1st place!!!) You guys rock!

Photo from the first climb (courtesy of Chris Hines)