brickhouseracing

July 24, 2009

Finally home!

Filed under: Epic Summer of 2009,non-bike — Andrea @ 7:24 am

It’s been a while since I’ve posted because until last night, I’ve been without internet since Tuesday (ok- so I’m not one of those people that’s gonna DIE from lack of internet, but I DO enjoy it, so it was, at worst, inconvenient) . Luckily I’ve got great parents, so after sitting around Bale Honda for a few hours (see previous post), they showed up to rescue me.

We left for Conway and spent the night there. The Honda people said that it’d be late on Tuesday before my car was finished, so we left Tuesday morning for Mountain View where they wanted to shop for cabins. We found a nice one for rent and checked in for a couple of nights. It was sitting about halfway up a mountain and had a gorgeous view of Syllamore Creek. It was also about a 15 minute drive from the famous Syllamore MTB trails. I was excited. However, it rained all day on Tuesday- enough that one of the bridges over the creek was flooded/impassable (we had to loop around to the “high water” bridge in orer to get back to our cabin on Tuesday night).

Wednesday, the skies generally cleared as the day went on. My parents went out to look at cabins, leaving me to watch Stage 17 of Le Tour and ride my MTB on the local back roads. The ride was not bad- I only rode 17 miles, but at least I got about 2500 feet of climbing in during the outing. The Ozark “mountains” in that area are short enough that most roads don’t do much in the way of switchbacking or diagonal routing… they generally go straight up the side and up to the top. I made good use of my granny gear a couple of times. Wednesday night, after dinner, we walked around downtown and watched some performances by local folk music enthusiasts.

Finally, Thursday arrived. My parents drove me back to Little Rock to get my car. I was momentarily tempted to go back to Lake Sylvia, but I was pretty homesick, so I hauled back to Memphis and got back in time to hit up the Thursday afternoon group ride from Bartlett.

So… this morning I have stuff to do- watch the Tour, go over to my parents’ house and check the garden, get a camelbak cleaning kit, shop for a new car, do some grocery shopping, ride my MTB, yardwork… whether or not I get all of it done, I’m just glad to be home!

July 20, 2009

Epic Win leads to Epic Fail

Filed under: Bike Racing,Epic Summer of 2009,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 2:06 pm

Right now, I’m sitting in the Bale Honda service area waiting room in Little Rock, Arkansas. You may ask, Andrea, WTF are you doing there? Well, I’ll start with the good news first.

I left early on Saturday morning to head out for a weekend of racing followed by a day or two of training at some other places around Arkansas.

First, the Arkansas State Crit in Little Rock. The course was pretty awesome- kinda technical with chicanes, a little hill, and some bad pavement. Only three other women showed up, and on about the 4th lap, they called a cash prime. I went for it, got it, and looked back to see that I’d gapped the little group, so I kept at it. I ended up staying away for a solo win. Woohoo!

After that, I met up with Kurt (from that adventure race a while back) and followed him up to Eureka Springs for the Fat Tire Festival race in the morning. We pre-rode part of the course. During that time, I clipped a tree with my right shoulder and managed to fall hard enough to get a 3rd butt-cheek of swelling on the back/side of my left leg. The course was pretty tough in places- plenty of climbing punctuated by technical gravelly sections. I was feeling pretty tired by the end of our ride and nearly bonked, but made it back alive with the help of a Powerbar.

Sunday morning- race time. The race started in the middle of downtown Eureka Springs. It was a pretty unique- it went uphill on pavement, then took to the random back alleys and singletrack that led out to Lake Leatherwood, where it lapped the lake before the finish. I raced the Cat II race (not enough points/skill yet to go to Cat I/Expert) against about 8 other women.
The start was a little hectic- we started with some men as well, so I couldn’t tell if anyone was ahead of or behind me for most of the race. My strategy was to just ride at a hard but sustainable pace and hope for the best. Turns out, that was good enough for a win… at least in the 19-39 category. There was an older woman who beat me by about a minute. I’d caught up to her, but she schooled me on the technical rocky sections in between the catch and the finish. I gotta practice those…

So after the awards, I hit the road. I decided to not go to Devil’s Den (my original plan) and just head to Lake Sylvia instead. I rolled in & set up camp around 8:15 last night and was asleep by 9:30. I woke up with the sun this morning, and decided to drop some water about 18 miles out from camp at an intersection of forest roads where I knew I’d pass by a couple of times. I didn’t want to leave my bike at the campsite alone, so I tossed it up on the roof rack (a decision that would turn out to be invaluable later on).
The ride out was fine… I had the GPS running, but didn’t really pay attention to it since it always tried to route me onto goat-trail type roads. However, when I was on the way back, I wasn’t paying attention. The GPS woman told me to turn right at an intersection, and I should have turned left. About a mile down, I realized my error and started looking for a turnaround. Not paying attention to the road immediately in front of me, I hit a dry creek bed and bottomed out. I’ll let the photos explain the rest of it (in case you can’t make it out, in the first photo, the silver spot on the rock is metal from my oil pan, and the brown, shiny stuff is oil)…

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July 17, 2009

Road Trip to Road Trip

Filed under: Epic Summer of 2009,Trail Riding,Trails,Training — Andrea @ 9:16 pm

So Ryan and I got home from Midland (Michigan) about an hour and a half ago. After unpacking the car, I ran to the store for some groceries and came home to make a quick veggie burger while Ryan started work on my road and mountain bikes. Reason being, I’m leaving for Arkansas in the morning.

My original plan was to run the Midnight 50k tomorrow night, but I haven’t been running at all lately. However, there’s an awesome-sounding MTB race in Eureka Springs on Sunday. Turns out the Arkansas state crit championships are tomorrow (women’s race @ 11:20) as well. So, I’ve got my carbon-wheel brake pads on the road bike as well as replacing the eff’d up granny gear (thanks to Dirt, Sweat, & Gears a while back) and adding some tire sealant to the MTB.

The plan is to leave around 7:00 for Little Rock, race the 40 min criterium, then head to Eureka Springs to pre-ride the race course. Sunday, I plan on racing, then possibly heading over to Devil’s Den State Park for a little recon ahead of the adventure race that will go on there at the end of next month. Whether I go there or not, I still plan on stopping by Lake Sylvia for some distance riding & climbing on the fire roads out there. It’ll be my last long ride/climb before the Off-road Assault on Mt. Mitchell that I’m tentatively planning for the weekend of the 25th-26th.

Epic road trip!!!

July 12, 2009

Vacation update/Ride report

Filed under: non-bike,Training — Andrea @ 3:59 pm

Right now, Ryan and I are on a road trip/vacation visiting some of his family up North. The first few days were in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where, along with a couple of very scenic rides through the rolling dairyland, we visited the Kohler factory (coolest part was definitely the foundry), a cheese factory, and hung out with his brother and sister-in-law.

Yesterday, we made the drive to his mom’s house in Marquette, Michigan. We tried to get in touch with several people from a local team about a Sunday group ride, but no one would answer emails about whether or not the ride was still active. So we took a look at Google maps and used Mapmyride.com to create our own route (I named it Bad Idea Jeans). Ryan’s mom warned us that some of the roads were gravel, but we generally enjoy those, so we figured they’d just make the ride more interesting.

So we started out by climbing Mt. Marquette within the first few miles. I also fell over a couple fo times when I slid out or stalled in the sandy gravel. The view at the top was nice.

Soon after (maybe 14 miles in), we turned off the main road to loop where we figured we’d find a bit of gravel. We did- it was well-maintained, and we kept going. Soon after, though, the road narrowed a bit, and the gravel turned to sand. Deep sand! We had to walk several times. Then the road turned into a single lane of hardpack sand and rocks… then to doubletrack sand/rock… then we rounded a courner and saw PRIVATE PROPERTY signs on each side of the further dimishing road. We were forced to turn around and go back the way we came in.

A rideable section of gravel

A rideable section of gravel

Deep sand- not quite so rideable (Im the blue spot further up the road)

Deep sand- not quite so rideable (I'm the blue spot further up the road)

Once we were back on the main road, we took a detour to get back onto the planned route. There was another surprise section of gravel (including a small climb- hard, but still do-able) before we crossed a highway, then we reached a third stretch of gravel and another big hill. Then the road narrowed a bit. It turned to hardpack dirt. Deja-vu? Yes. Within a mile or so, the road ended at another set of NO TRESPASSING signs- this time, complete with a wire gate across the road. So, we turned around and went back the way we came. Again.

Once we were back to the highway, we took to the headwind and detoured back in to Marquette. We still ended up with about 57 miles. Below is the tracing from Ryan’s Garmin GPS (blue) overlayed on the planned Mapmyride route.

July 6, 2009

Plein Air Classic Criterium

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 7:42 pm

After a late night (operationally defined by me as getting to bed after 11:00 after having several alcoholic beverages over the span of several hours), I wasn’t feeling bad, but also wasn’t feeling amazing when I woke up Sunday morning. When we arrived at the Ole Miss campus for the race, I found Debbie and we discussed the day’s plan- AKA “more of the same” from the day before.

After I warmed up and rode a lap of the course, I could tell that my legs didn’t have their normal “pop” that’s necessary for a good attack. It ended up not mattering, though- Debbie sprinted for the 1st lap prime- a handlebar/stem- and did that superhuman thing where she counters herself and drops everyone. I was pretty close to her wheel when I realized what she was doing, so I pulled through to allow someone else close the gap.

No one would even try.

No one wanted to chase. The three others lined up on my wheel and would not move- they told me that there was no way they were going to try and chase just to have me counter-attack them once they were tired. So, I rode the remainder of the race at about 19 mph. I was bored and even attempted to convince them that they should work together to at least pick up the pace, because if Debbie lapped us, then I was guaranteed a leadout for the sprint… it was to no avail, though. I started making a mental plan for how I was going to win the sprint for 2nd from my position in the front.

Luckily, though, my plan was not needed. About halfway through the last lap, Jo (Team Kenda Tire) tried to attack the group. I grabbed her wheel and, no matter how much she swerved, brake-checked, and threatened to wreck us all, refused to leave it. Judith (NOBC) decided to pull around us and set pace to the finish, which made things much safer. Natalie (Tiger Cycling) jumped first at the sprint. I took her wheel long enough to get on my 53×11 and jumped around her into the hardest sprint I could muster. Sucess! I crossed the line with a good gap ahead of the others.

I really enjoyed working with/for Debbie over the weekend. She is infinately nice, and I’m looking forward to riding with her again whenever I figure out what my next road race will be. I may change my mind about going to the 12 hour Duathlon on August 22nd and head to Oak Ridge instead. The payout at that one last year was pretty sweet, and I’ve got a State RR jersey to defend as well.

Stage 3 Spoiler/Rant Ahead…

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 10:06 am

Johan Bruyneel can pucker up and kiss my giant, white… foot.

Seriously? You’re going to name Contador as the team captain, then you aren’t going to give orders to haul the first group (containing Lance) in after the spilt? Of course not… because then Lance isn’t going to cuddle with you tonight. Stop playing mind games with your team and be a real manager. You make me want to punch my television.

And Lance, shame on you for encouraging the pushing of the pace against your captain. If your motive to enter the Tour is to help Livestrong, then why are you so concerned about gaining time at the expense of your team captain?

Plein Air Classic Circuit Race

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 6:33 am

This was a small, but well-done event just a short drive away in Oxford, MS. After the crit in Collierville last week, I’d talked to Eric from Absolut Racing about maybe teaming up with Debbie Milne (his teammate and local legend) at some races. I was excited- Debbie just won her age group at Master’s Natz last week, and racing with her is always a battle (which, more often than not, she wins). It’d be nice to stop chasing her and start helping her…

So on Saturday, Ryan and I drove down to Taylor, MS (just South of Oxford) for the circuit race. When we got there, I saw Debbie on the way to registration. We talked for a few minutes and decided that working together would be fun, so they leant a kit to me and we made a few plans.

The course was a 2.something mile loop around the small Plein Air neighborhood with a little headwind and a little hill. It started and ended on the streets within the loop- at the beginning of the race, we made a “parade lap” to the loop, and at the end of the race (this is an important detail for later…) we turned off of the loop and had a long straightaway to a 90 degree turn and another long straightaway back to the start/finish line.

When the race started, a prime was announced on the first lap- a free night/dinner at Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino. Since we were on a loop away from the start/finish area, the “finish line” for the prime was a tent & strip of tape on the road near the entrance/exit of the course. Once we were on the back side of the course, Debbie attacked the hill. I was happy to sit in for the chase. Debbie won the prime, and we were getting a little close to her at the start of the 2nd lap when the chase started to break down (there were only 3 other women there besides Debbie and myself ). Jo (from Kenda) made a hard effort to bridge, and when she started to fade, I saw my opportunity to counter. It worked swimmingly. Within a minute, I made it to Debbie’s wheel with no one in tow. We paced ourselves and put a large gap between us and the other women.

I wasn’t sure exactly what Debbie had in mind for the end of the race. She may be a teammate, but I knew she still wanted to win (as did I!). Once we were on the last lap, I figured that if she wanted to drop me and win, that she’d off me at the hill where she’d gotten away earlier. However, she didn’t. As we rounded the last turn of the main loop, she jumped… I followed, but she got a pretty good gap. Then I realized what was happening- she was sprinting for the prime line- NOT the real finish line located two more turns off of the course! I laid into the pedals. By the time I passed her, she thought she’d won the sprint and had sat up. As I charged past, she was saying something to me wondering if I was mad… (I guess it is odd to think that you’d won & see your teammate flying past you and careening around a turn off of the course loop). I had no idea when she realized what was going on, but going through the next to last corner, I got ahead of myself and accidentally upshifted twice instead of downshifting. When I stood up, I felt like I was pedaling in a bad dream- you know- the type where you’re trying to run from the serial killer with the ax, but you can hardly move? Yeah… it was like that. I finally got the pedals turning and rounded the final corner. I could hear people yelling at me to GO, but I had no idea where Debbie was. I kinda thought that she was still soft pedaling in from the course. I put my head down and pushed as hard as I could… just as I crossed the finish line, she shot past me on the right… she was most definitely NOT soft pedaling in from the course…

She was pretty mad at herself for not knowing the course. I was amused at the irony of someone in a national championship jersey getting second place in that situation (btw- she is so modest that she didn’t want to wear the jersey, but, at the request of the crowd, left the starting lineup to change into it before the race).

After having a snack and some water, I swapped my training wheels back onto my bike and headed out to ride back to Oxford via a loop through Water Valley and Paris that I’d found on Map My Ride. It was a long, hot journey. I’d forgotten my wheel magnet, so I’m not sure exactly how far I went, but it was probably around 45 miles. Once I got back to Oxford, I wasn’t sure how to get to the hotel, so Ryan met me in the Ole Miss campus and drove me back the few miles to the hotel. Including my warmup time, course pre-ride, the race, and my long ride afterward, I had nearly four hours of training for Saturday (I can’t afford to sacrifice any training volume with the upcoming endurance races!)

We capped off the day with dinner and drinks in the downtown area of Oxford. Somehow I ended up with a rubber frog named Steve in my purse. Good times.

July 1, 2009

Customer Service Win!

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 12:13 pm

I was putting my bike in the car after a ride a few weeks ago when I noticed something very disturbing. The body of one of my brakes (Avid Juicy Ultimate) was cracked at the clamp. I took it up to Bikes Plus, and Chris took one look at it and got on the phone with SRAM to talk to them about fixing it under warranty. They said they would, but that the parts were backordered, so it would be nearly a month. That’s a loooong time to be without a brake, so he kept my bike and hooked a spare brake up to it for me a couple of days later. Rock on!

A little time passes… Chris talks to SRAM some more and it turns out that the replacement brakes they want to send are black- not white/red like the ones I’ve got. I let Chris know that if that’s the only possible solution that I’ll deal with it, but that the white ones were an extreme vanity purchase and that I’d be pretty dissapointed (in SRAM, not in the shop) if I had to have black brakes. He said he’d see what he could do.

So, a few days later, Chris calls me up. He’s been pestering SRAM every day about my brakes. They are going to send out a set of the brand-spankin’-new Elixer CR brakes… in white/red! Monday morning, I take my bike up to the shop, and he hooks up the new brakes. They are freakin’ SWEET!

I’m incredibly appreciative of this. They could have easily just left it at “you’re getting black replacement brakes, and that’s all we can do,” but they went above and beyond the call of customer service to help me out. You guys are great!

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June 28, 2009

Smith and Nephew/ Marx and Bensdorf Omnium Weekend

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 2:09 pm

Wow… I’m not sure where to start. (You may want to get a snack before you sit down to read this)

Probably with last Saturday, when I jokingly asked Maggie Finley (triathlete and likely the fastest woman on 2 wheels in these parts) if she was going to race this weekend, and she replied that she planned on going to the Arkansas State TT. Fast forward to Wednesday. Casey Malone has convinced Maggie and Los Locos teammate Sue Wampler (a world-ranked amateur triathlete) to race on the Marx and Bensdorf Women’s team. Other women that she’d recruited for the weeknd included Cara, Joy, and myself. Originally, I was just around to help teach them some road racing skills and strategy- all of them are very capable athletes, but they just needed a bit of direction when it came to the mass start events, but later Casey asked me to race with them as well. Wednesday was our last time to meet up and ride together before the race.

I only had a few meet-ups with some of the girls before race day, and we mainly worked on pacelines, and I told them about various race strategies so that they’d have some sort of idea of what to expect on race day. We talked breifly about sprint leadouts, but I figured that until you’ve been in a few sprints, worrying about a leadout is one of the last things you want to be doing in your first race.

I was incredibly excited for the weekend, because just from a few rides, I could see that everyone involved had something to bring to the race. SO… here’s the report:

Road Race
Once again, the officials decided that they wanted to try and make us race with the 50-60 masters men, even though the race flier stated otherwise. Once again, we made a start line pact to roll slowly the first couple of miles and let the men have their race and we’d race our own. Those guys are notorious for chasing down the attacks of the women and dragging the entire field with them. Our race was also shortened a lap… which, in the 11:30 heat of the day reaching nearly 100 degrees without the heat index, was much appreciated.

The race was generally uneventful for the first half of a lap. Once we hit the rollers on a longer stretch about halfway through, we started popping off some attacks, though nothing stuck until the same place on the next lap, when Maggie rolled off of the front with the little sister of Jo Markam from Kenda tire. With a 2-”team” break going up the road, it was up to the others to chase. However, they didn’t really have the cooperation to do so. Maggie ended up dropping Lil’ Markam going up the steep hill about a mile before the finish line and winning solo.
So it was up to the rest of us to negotiate the field sprint for 3rd. Coming into the last turn, I told Casey (who can sprint like the dickens) to grab my wheel, and I got behind Sue and told her to ride a hard tempo out of the corner and as far towards the finish as she could go. She freakin’ ROCKED it. That gal is a freight train! Around 600 yards out, someone tried to attack up the right side of the road- I went after it in hopes that it would give me a few more yards before I needed to give Casey the slingshot. Unfortunately, the attacker died out quickly and I was left out in the wind to finish the leadout from about 500 yards out. I went for it like the 200m sign was my finish line, and managed to pull Casey away from the group far enough that she was able to take the loooooooong sprint up the hill for 3rd place. Gassed, I rolled in on the back of the group, cheering in excitement.

Time Trial
Your standard 4 mile out & back w/ rollers. I improved a lot from my time last year with an 8:46, and won. Woohoo! Too bad the TT omnium points aren’t very awesome, because getting 12th in the road race only netted 4 points to go with the 25 I got for the TT win. Overnight, I was placed 3rd overall going into the crit.

Criterium
group

We had a solid plan for the race- Maggie, Sue, and I were going to play dueling banjoes with the group early in the race and have Joy, Cara, and Casey join in as the group tired later in the race. Apparently, some of our competitors caught wind of it and were plotting against us. I launched first, and was caught within a lap.

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carnage

Next, Maggie came to the front a accelerated away. A couple of women attempted to bridge, but were discouraged when no one would help their efforts. Maggie got further and further away…

maggiesolo

I was somewhat amused by what happened next. Rather than consolidating their efforts in an organized chase, our competitors chose to attack each other. Each time, someone in M&B kit was on it like stank on sh*t.

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At one point while I was riding tempo on the front, someone tried to attack me when I sat up to take a drink of water

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After that, I sat a few wheels back and let them play cat & mouse for a few laps. Eventually, coming out of turn 4, Jo Markam got frustrated after a failed attack and tried to encourage another person to pull through by slowing down and swerving to the inside. At that moment, I saw the planets in the counter-attack galaxy align and launched myself out into the headwind towards the start/finish.

flier

chase

I was hoping that I could bridge to Maggie and work with her, but instead ended up flogging myself for the remainder of the race to finish in a solo 2nd place.

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You can see a lot more photos on Ryan’s Blog

Even with the 2nd place finish, my omnium standings remained the same (3rd). Two podium spots for the team! The race this weekend renewed my enthusiasm for road racing. Not that I want to go back into it full-bore, but I had more fun with this team than I think I’ve ever had at a race. It also helped that Jimmy Reed (the head honcho w/Marx & Bensdorf ) was incredibly happy with our performance and enthusiasm.

June 23, 2009

Wow.

Filed under: Bike Racing — Andrea @ 3:37 pm

Ok, I’ve never been a total Lance Fanboy (fangirl?), and I’m still not, but I seriously cannot stop watching this video from the Tour of Nevada City Criterium.

This is Lance Armstrong attacking up a grade that’s reported to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 17%. I guessing by the way he nearly overcooks the corner that he’s traveling in excess of 25mph. The rest of the pro field is helpless. The best race report I’ve found is written by Chris Horner (Lance’s teammate).

Physiologically speaking, we can all try that hard and hurt that badly… he just goes so much faster when he does it.

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