Back in Arkansas

After my quick trip to Nashville for a Hell of the South pre-ride, I turned around & made the trip back to Syllamo for some MTB riding. Yesterday, I didn’t have time for anything long since there was a storm front approaching. So, I headed out for a quick trip around the Bad Branch trail. Several times, I found myself bombing down the trail with the song “Super Villain” (Powerman 5000) blaring in my head. Fun times! That loop is the final 12 miles of trail in the Syllamo’s Revenge MTB race, so I’m hoping to have it perfectly nailed by the time that race rolls around so that I can go faster while being kinda out of it at the end of the race.

Afterward, Turbo and I sat on the porch and watched the storm rolling over the mountains…



This morning (and most other mornings), the river was covered in a thick cloud. I never get tired of it…




Since there was a pretty bad downpour last night, I figured I’d stick to the forest roads. I put together a route that ended up not working as planned (surprised?!?). Here’s a photo of the road between Gunnar Pool and Barkshed, which first crossed Syllamore Creek (yes, I ended up putting BOTH feet in the water) and ended up being on private property in a cow pasture…




So, I ended up climbing back out of Gunnar Pool and taking a detour to get back to Barkshed campground where I wanted to take Barkshed Road to Push Mountain road… lo and behold, Barkshed Road was closed. I’m thinking “Sweet! No traffic!” However, it hadn’t been cleared since the ice storm- the first half mile or so was covered in downed trees, so I figured that if I wanted to be back to the car before dark that I’d need to turn back & detour again.




So after 2 kinda big detours (both involved a bit of climbing back out), I ended up with a little over 4 hours of riding. Time to head to the nearest non-dry county…


Rouge Roubaix Race Report

My recent lack of self-control for training, eating right, and drinking in moderation was all too obvious today. I got shelled at the beginning of the first gravel section, chased back on with a small group, got dropped again on the 2nd gravel section, chased with a dwindling group for the remainder of the race, and rode the last 15 miles alone to finish in 6th.

That’s it. I’m writing a two-sentence race report for a 102 mile race because that’s all it deserves. I’m glad that I’m on Spring Break, because I need to be a training hermit in Mountain View this week after a quick trip to Nashvegas for a Hell of the South race course preride.

Weekend Redux

Sunday, Matt and I headed west for a quick trip to the Womble trail. I never, ever get tired of overlooks…


On the way home, we passed a house trailer off to the side of I-40. It had smoke coming out of the windows… I called 911, then we turned around to make sure that if the FD didn’t show up, that no one was inside screaming for help. Luckily, by the time we were close, we saw firetrucks…





Hopefully, everyone was OK…

Now that the results are posted, I’m pissed at myself. Not that it would have made a difference in placing (even though RR had a flat on the last lap, she was far enough ahead that I would not have caught her), but I would have been a strong 2nd instead of a lucky one. Looking at lap times, I would have made the 1:17 time cutoff. My downfall was A) a lack of HTFU, and B) a lack of conditioning. Two things that I’m hard on myself about. It should have been a non-issue. I should not have questioned it. There should never have been a thought in my mind about NOT going for it. Damn.

Spa City 6 Hour

The theme of the weekend was Luck.

The forecast predicted rain (and possibly snow!) for most of the day on Friday. However, watching the radar, the precipitation seemed to dissipate as it reached the Hot Springs area. Matt and I didn’t get there in time to pre-ride, but talking to people milling around, it sounded like a pretty tame 10 mile loop. So, we set up our pit and headed back to town for dinner.

Saturday morning was chilly and gorgeous. I was feeling good while I was getting ready, and managed to squeeze in to a nice spot on the tri-style bike racks that were set up for the Le mans start (thank you Cyclocrunk for helping me to perfect my Le mans strategy!)

Lining up, I couldn’t tell who was entered in the Pro category and who was age group (aside from Rebecca Rusch, who was wearing kit with World Champ stripes). It was my first NRC Endurance race, and everyone looked fit and ready to kill it.

When the race started, it was business time. I got a nice position in the pack- not in the lead group where I’d blow myself up, but also not behind people that’d be bobbling switchbacks and/or granny-gearing the first climb. Within a few miles, I forced myself to settle into a sustainable pace. I didn’t know where I was in relation to my competition other than “behind Rebecca.” It was tempting to go hard, but I kept reminding myself that I had a long day ahead of me.


Laps 1-3 were prettymuch more of the same. I wrecked twice on lap 2- once was one of those mystery “wheel grabs” that belly-flopped me onto the ground, and the other was caused by hitting a slippery patch in a turn on a descent. That one could have been a lot worse, but somehow I managed to keep my wits about me during the fall process and, even though I fell into a ditch, I executed it with an Olympic-10 of a tuck and roll.

Lap 4 started to get hard. My back and arms started to hurt. I slowed down a little, but then a friend of mine along the trail told me that I was holding 2nd place. I gave myself a bit of a tough-love pep talk.

“You’re in 2nd place in your first NRC Endurance Race, and you’re slowing down? HTFU, take some Aspirin at the pit, and GTFO!”

The actual dialogue going on in my head included a lot more foul language, but you get the idea.

At the end of my 5th lap, I had the option of going out for another. I’d have to complete it in under 1hr, 17 min, which would have been tough. My inexperience was showing- I hurt all over, and I’d blown myself up a bit. I didn’t think I could make the lap, so I took a gamble and decided to not do it. Laureen Coffelt was almost 12 minutes behind me- if she made another lap, it’d knock me down to 3rd. While I was changing & having a snack, she rolled through the pit. She had 1 hour, 5 min to complete her lap.

Longest hour/five of my life. She missed it by 37 seconds.

I got lucky this time, but I have a feeling she’s going to have that 37 seconds in her head until the next time we meet up. I’m going to have to work harder between now & then to keep her from dragging/beating that 37 seconds out of me.

Today I feel like someone beat my legs/arms with a hose. I shouldn’t. It was “only” 50 miles/5:12 of riding. I’ve got harder races approaching and potential sponsors to woo. That type of effort should be more like a hard day of training than an effort that kills me for a few days. I should be able to go for the 6th lap and kill it.

Next stop- Rouge Roubaix. Take no prisoners.

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…