Air9 coming soon…

Eventually, at least. Jens arrived at Niner for disassembly and destruction yesterday. The Air9 should ship out sometime this week and arrive a week after the ship date. I figured since I’ll eventually end up with two frames that I’d go ahead & purchase a few new parts for the Air build. SO… here’s the list:

SRAM X.0 Grip Shifters
Speen Umlenker (converts bottom pull FD into top pull)
Blackspire 24t and 36t chainrings
Middleburn 6mm chainring bolts (red)
Easton Monkey Lite Carbon low-rise bars
Thompson 31.8mm x 410mm setback seatpost
Still need a new cassette & chain… waiting to snipe those on flEbay

I’ll post some photos once I get motivated enough to get the camera out. I’m hoping to have somewhat of a light build. The next big purchase will likely be a set of Stan’s ZTR Race wheels. Stay tuned…

Beat the Freak Cyclocross #1 and #2

I know, I know… I’ve been slacking on writing my race reports. It was a really good weekend…

Saturday was all about rain. About halfway to Fayettville, it started, and it didn’t stop until much later in the afternoon. When we arrived at the race course, it was coming down pretty hard, and soon enough, parts of the course were under more than a foot of water. The entire thing was a mud pit.

Only one other woman (Kim Bishop) showed up to race the 1/2/3 race, and we lined up with the cat 3 men. I got off to a slightly sluggish start, but managed to pass her early in the first lap. From there, I just worked on picking off the guys. The course was good for me- the mud was either deep or greasy, so I used all of the mud-riding skills I learned during the 1st lap of DSG (the 12 hour race that went horribly wrong back in May). I ended up coming in 5th overall (against 10 men). Sweet!

Photos (Courtesy of Tina Freeman):





Conditions on Sunday were not nearly as harsh. The sun was actually out, and a little bit of the mud had dried up. The course was less technical, but did include a sand pit. I lined up with the same group as the previous race. This time, my start was much better- I entered the first part of the course flawlessly tucked up in the middle of the group. There was still a lot of mud & soft grass as well as a nasty sand pit, but some parts of the course were hard and fast. I passed a lot of guys. A couple of them (Ryan included) had mechanical issues. Because of that, I ended up finishing 2nd overall. Woohoo! I like beating up on the guys a little bit :)

Here’s me in the sand & over some barriers:



I’m amazed at how much of a difference a nice bike makes! The BH Carbon is a cyclocross machine (though, unlike the Surly, it’s no fun to ride on singletrack because of the stiffness). I’m really excited for the entire season, but even moreso for what’s coming up in January- Yesterday on Facebook I saw that Eddie O’Dea (55nine Performance) is making preparations for Southern Cross. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I experienced an episode of Epic Fail when I lost that race to Carey Lowery in the final runup before the finish line.

Yeah. That race and I have unfinished business.

Weekend Prep

I’m about to do a little packing & hit the hay since Ryan & I are leaving in the morning for Fayetteville and the Beat the Freak cyclocross races. It’s been interesting to ready my food for the weekend since I’m still doing the “daniel fast” thing for two more weeks. I figured I’d post up a couple of roadworthy recipes:

Trail Mix:
1 can cashews
1 bag wasabi edamame (I think that “wasabi powder” is OK as an ingredient…)
Unsweetened dried Apricots, chopped

Toss all of those into a Ziploc bag, shake up, and enjoy.

Brown Rice & Lentil Curry:
1 cup brown rice
1 cup lentils
1 box Pacific veggie broth
Red curry paste

Bring the broth to a boil and add the rice. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the lentils and a tablespoon of red curry paste (you can add more later if you want). Cover back up & simmer for 20 more minutes. Eat as is or add to vegetables or an Ezekiel-brand sandwich wrap (they’re yeast & sugar free) with some spinach & other “burrito” filling of your choice.

Along with those, some of my other staples include peanut butter & rice cakes, protein shakes, soy-crisps, Larabars, and various whole fruits.

Clear Creek Challenge

The alarm clock went off early Sunday morning. We had some breakfast, packed the car, and headed down to Oxford for the Clear Creek Challenge MTB race.

The skies were cloudy, but the radar had been clear. Ryan was very brave and entered the cat 2 race insted of beginner, even though it was his first XC race ever, and he’s only ridden a MTB a handful of times. However, by the time we toed the line, the conditions went from dry to thunderstorm.

When the official told us to go, I took off and grabbed the holeshot. The trail was a river, but didn’t seem too slippery yet, so I used it to my advantage and tested the nerve of the other two ladies I was racing against. The strategy worked well- after a few minutes of hammering, I started passing the master’s men (and an expert woman who had started with them on her single speed). I looked back periodically and saw no one, so I backed off to a more sustainable tempo pace so that I wouldn’t have to take as many chances or risk getting too tired. At about mile 4, I passed Ryan, who was cursing and generally hating life.

This strategy worked swimmingly for the first lap. I freaking NAILED the steep switchback section. I mean KILLED it! I think the switchback is still cowering in fear over how much I kicked its butt. I have to gloat, because switchbacks have been the bain of my short MTB existance…

I started to feel kinda tired during the last couple of miles of the first lap, so I figured I needed to eat some calories. I’m currently participating in a research study where I’m following the Daniel Fast for three weeks, so my options are somewhat limited. During the first few miles of the next lap, I managed to cram a Larabar down my throat.

Despite this, I only felt worse. Trying to preserve what energy was left, I shifted into my granny gear for a short hill somewhere around mile 4. I never left the granny gear after that. It was either what I had/hadn’t eaten, the 8 hours of Raid the Rock the day before, or a combination of both, but I hit the wall. The remaining lap was a death march. I kept waiting for the other women to pass me back as I crawled down the trail, which had turned into greasy mud in many sections as the rain tailed off.

Luckily, between the bad conditions and some mechanicals, no one caught me…


Luck. Lots of it. I discussed my luck with Mike and Darryl during RTR on Saturday. I happened to see a couple of checkpoints where we’d been somewhat off on our heading/pace counting, so when we were looking for one later on, he referred to me as “eagle eyes.” Hell, I don’t have eagle eyes… I’m just plain lucky more often than I’m not.

Other Happenings:
-It’s gonna be a while before I have more adventure/xc races, because I just mailed my Jet 9 frame back to Niner for the recall. Hopefully the turnaround is fast, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a bike to ride in the meantime.
-Saturday will be my first CX race on the new BH rig as well as the first race of this season. I haven’t drilled nearly enough, but I’m hoping for the usual trial by fire learning experience. That reminds me- I need to whip up a set of pit wheels for when I burp my rear tubeless tire in a botched, flying remount.
-This morning, I applied/recieved my upgrade to cat 1 for both road racing and XC racing. Hopefully CX 3 to 2 will follow shortly, but I figure I need more than 5 races under my belt before then…

Raid the Rock Adventure Race

Prior to this weekend, I’d only been to one adventure race, and it was just a solo sprint-type event (Ozark Extreme- Village Creek). Raid the Rock was a lot different- I raced with Mike and Darryl for Ozark Outdoors Supply, and the race itself was a lot longer.

When I arrived at check-in on Friday, I met up with Darryl and we discussed the plan of action for the race. He informed me that in the co-ed division that the races were often decided by who had the fastest woman on their team, and that I’d be a “ringer” for them. Sounds like a plan! Mike arrived soon after, and we went through gear check and the pre-race meeting, where we learned that the race would start at Burns Park at 5:30am. After that, it was off to dinner and sleep!

Wake up call: 3:15am!

Apparently, with a start at Burns Park, that means that the race could start out with any activity- paddling, trekking, cycling… etc. Mike and Darryl guessed correctly when they thought it would be paddling (based on the mandatory gear including glow sticks, which are hung on the front/back of the canoes if you’re paddling in the dark).

So, we got our maps, went back to our support van to plot coordinates, then headed out to the water. As everyone slipped into the Arkansas River in the dark, the combination of canoes/glow sticks/headlamps looked incredibly eerie.

Oh yeah- now would be a good time to mention that it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been in a canoe. Luckily, Darryl and Mike were awesome canoe-drivers, so my job was to just sit in the middle and stay in-sync with Mike while Darryl steered from the back.

We punched the first few of our checkpoints (CPs) in the general vicinity of the launch. One required a little up-current paddling, but we generally zipped right through everything and were headed down the river to the first transition as the sun was rising from behind the Little Rock capitol building.

Side note- one CP was on a boat dock that had a large, sleeping wasp nest under it. I had to hold the canoe steady up against the dock while Mike punched the passport. I have a bad phobia of wasps and let the guys know that I’d be exiting the canoe if they came after me. Luckily, the wasps were still asleep.

After about an hour of paddling, we arrived at the transition 1 boat ramp several miles down the river. From there we hopped on our bikes to head back to Burns Park. After weaving through some neighborhoods, we got onto the River Trail MUT. This was my time to be useful- I sat on the front and pulled while Mike & Darryl drafted. It helped us catch up to other teams that had finished ahead the paddling section. However, I think we lost a little time on some of the singletrack with Mike struggling over some of the slippery, rocky terrain/climbs (at some point, it had started raining, and was on & off all day long). About halfway through, we arrived at a huge, steep hill that looked like a former quarry. It had ropes hung down from the top, and we had to climb up with our bikes. That was “interesting” to say the least :) After about 20 miles of riding, we arrived back at Burns Park for transition 2.

At the support van, we changed shoes and refilled out hydration packs. The race instructions were to pack climbing gear with us and keep our bike helmets as well. Unfortunately, we rushed out and forgot the helmets. When we arrived at a righteous zip line about half a mile later, we were forced to go back to the van and get the helmets before we could harness up and cross the river. Crap!

We soon arrived back at the zip line. It was on a cliff high above a small river and crossed down to the bank on the other side. This is probably a good time to mention, I’ve never been on a zip line before, and, based on what everyone said, this was one of the tallest/longest ones they’d experienced.

When the safety-guy told me to step off and cross my legs, I took one fast step and jumped- woohoo!!! Someone was taking photos on the other side. Hopefully I can find those soon…

Once we got moving again on the other side, we found CP22. Then we noticed some ruckus in the woods. All of the other teams who were ahead of us were milling around, and the race director was on his radio. Apparently, they’d been searching for a long time for CP23 and no one could find it. Darryl decided to give it a shot while the other teams decided to skip it. A few minutes later, the race director found us and told us to skip it and move on. We had caught up with everyone ahead of us, but they gained time back while we were searching.

The next few hours were spent running, hiking, and bushwhacking around the park. We went through everything- trails, open woods, walls of privet, briers, swamps, drainage ditches, tunnels… you name it. We found a lot of the CPs quickly, but others took 10-15 minutes of searching. Eventually, we worked our way back into the main part of the park. We went back into the woods for CP46, and, as we were jogging out, I felt a jab on my right thigh. I slowed, thinking I was caught on a thorny vine when I felt a second, harder jab on the back of my left thigh followed by an insane burning sensation…

F*%#!!! HORNETS!!! RUN!!!

I envisioned myself being engulfed by a swarm of evil, angry, flying hypodermic needles full of posion and ran for my life, bursting out of the woods and nearly into traffic on the main road through the park. Holy crap, that hurt- the pain was a burning & aching feeling that extended into the top layers of muscle. It kept hurting all day/night, too…

At that point in the race, there was a time cutoff- if you make it back by 1:15, you get to go out for another 7 CPs. Otherwise, your day is over. We made it in at 1:14, so we headed back out. There were 5 teams way ahead of us, and no one else made it in after us, so the pressure was basically off, and we finished up laughing, joking, and having a good time. We arrived back to the finish about an hour later, 6th out of 17 co-ed teams, and still friends. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as a successful adventure race!

After heading back to Darryl’s house and cleaning up (OMG it felt soooo good to be dry!), I relaxed a bit, ate a snack, and hit the road back to Memphis so that I could get home & rest up for the Clear Creek XC race on Sunday.

Break time is OVER

First, let me preface this by saying that if I name you in here, it’s out of the utmost respect and admiration for your riding abilities, determination, and drive. I love my competitors more than anyone else on the planet, because without you all, this training stuff is meaningless!

Since Oak Ridge, I’ve been slacking. The combo of Fool’s Gold and Oak Ridge weekends was physically and mentally exhausting. I won’t make excuses, though- some break time was needed, but I’ve also just been feeling lazy since then. I’ve barely had the impetus to ride my MTB enough to keep some fitness for the upcoming adventure/MTB races. Then, this morning, on XM radio, I heard every song that’s played on my brain’s mp3 player during my last two weekends of racing. Lazy time needs to be over.

I’ve had enough recovery time. Time to get off of my butt. I’m reading blog/facebook posts of some of the ladies that will be my toughest competitors during the next year, and I feel like a bum. In order to motivate myself (and maybe you?) I want to call you out. OK, maybe I’m just calling myself out to be as tough and driven as all of you, but doing this keeps me honest.

So (in no particular order), to Debbie, Kim, Loretta, Betsy, Namrita, Carey (I’ve got a special place in my heart for Carey when it comes to Southern Cross!) and any other badass chick on a bike that I’m forgetting… right now, you could all kick my butt, and rightly so. I’ve been training like an amateur and trying to rely on my innate stubbornness and tenacity to get me through my races. That ends this winter. If you read this and you are planning on winning some races in the next year (namely endurance, CX, XC, and road), just know that I’m coming for you. All of you. Tell your friends.

I love you all, and I can’t wait to see you again,


Niner Jet9 Safety Recall

Sad/happy news from the dirty side of my riding life… Jens Voigt, my trusty Jet9 rig, bears one of the serial number badges that’s covered under the recent safety recall issued by the guys at Niner. Soon, I’ve got to strip the parts off of him and send him back to the factory for a replacement frame that won’t be arriving until sometime next spring.

What do I ride in the meantime? Well, that’s where the awesomeness of Niner customer service comes into play.

Among other options (you can read them @ the link above), they’re offering an Air9 frame for $300. Not as a total replacement- you actually purchase an Air9 frame at that huge of a discount then get a new, re-designed Jet9 frame when they’re ready to go next year. So, I’m expanding my MTB stable to include a hardtail.

My plan is to put all of my parts on the Air frame when it arrives and start slowly aquring parts for a 2nd build while I wait for the new Jet to arrive. My goal is to make my next build a little lighter. I’ll probably go for a 2×9 crank, some lighter wheels, carbon bars… you get the picture…

So, thanks again to Niner bikes for taking care of their customers. I think that this type of customer service is becoming more & more rare, but you guys are doing a stand-up thing with your recall offers.

U of M MTB Team goes to Clear Creek

Oh yeah- I forgot to mention- I’m the faculty sponsor/coach of the budding University of Memphis MTB Team. We’ve got 5 of the 10 members needed to be an official U of M club, so if you’re reading this, you ride a bike, and you’re a University of Memphis student, then you should join (even if you don’t want to race).

Anyway… yesterday Matt, Carter, and I made a road trip down to the Clear Creek Trail in Oxford, MS in preparation for the XC race that’s out there next Sunday (not sure how that’s gonna go for me since I’ll be racing in the Raid the Rock Adventure Race on Saturday).

That trail is pretty amazing! In 10 miles, it’s got a little bit of everything- swoopy roller-coaster stuff, technical turns/tree-dodging, flat spots, rocks, roots, steep switchbacks, and a nice power climb. We met Richard (regular Brickhouse reader/commenter) about halfway though the first lap and finished it out with his guidance. Unfortunately, it started raining- the last mile or so of trail is somewhat new, and started to soften up. I didn’t want to be “those a-holes from Memphis who came down and tore up the trail” so we rode nearly half of a second lap and before calling it a day. The race should be a blast!

Once we arrived back in Memphis, Matt called it a day, but Carter and I were still itching for some trail. So, we headed out to Stanky Creek. I needed to get in a run, so I figured I’d run a lap while he rode a couple. However, I was about halfway through when I heard some cussing in the woods not too far from me… followed by a phone call from Carter saying that he’d broken his chain. He was on a borrowed bike, and a repair was of questionable usefulness because the chain seemed pretty old, so he just walked it out and we called it a day.

After a quick clean-up, Ryan (who had been working on his CX bikes most of the day) joined us to get some sushi at a new Japanese Buffet called “Eat Well.” It was pretty freakin awesome, and a great meal to have after surviving on powerbars and the like for most of the day.

The Things I do for Science… and a Rant.

So I just signed up to participate in a research study that one of the Health & Sport Science students at U of M is conducting for his master’s thesis. For the study, I’m going to go on the “Daniel Fast” for 21 days- the purpose being to look at what chages occur in the body in response to this (see link for what this diet entails- it’s generally a vegan diet with some extra restrictions). Measurements include a full blood chemistry panel as well as bodymass/composition measurements before and after the 21 day period. It’s going to be tough, but, as you, the reader, know, I don’t mind things that are “tough.”

Now for the “rant” part of this post.

When I started looking for internet information about the Daniel Fast, I realized that it’s a religious practice. Ok, fine, whatever floats your boat or finds your lost remote… However, the more I searched, the more peeved I got. Nearly every website on the topic offers some sort of “guidebook” that you can download or get as a hardcopy for some sum of money. It’s pretty disgusting, because most of them advertise it in a way that makes it seem as though purchase of said guide will assist you to a higher plane of spirituality that you could not achieve otherwise. Bleh.
Along with that, I’m generally amazed at what a difficult time people have giving up “precious” parts of their diet like meat and sugar. Granted, I’m in for a hellish bout of caffeine withdrawal, but I don’t feel the need to seek out the assistance of a higher power to assist me in the process. Some of the accounts I’ve seen from people, though… you’d think they were on a true fast rather than one where the quantity (of a somewhat restricted type) of food is unlimited.
To each his own, I suppose. I mainly just take issue with the selling of salvation that is being passed off as righteous on most of these websites. Doesn’t seem right… but what do I know? I’m just a heathen…

Of course, I’ll post some updates as to how it plays out. It’s going to be interesting considering I’ll be doing a fair amount of travel and racing during the 21 day period.

Labor Day Weekend

Hmmm… where to start. It was definitely a great weekend!

Original plans were for Ryan and I both to leave Friday afternoon then camp to nights at Lake Sylvia and meet some folks at the Womble trail on Saturday and Camp Robinson trails on Sunday. However, I couldn’t find a dog-sitter, and I accidentally let the dogs get past due on their shots (read- they couldn’t be boarded), so I ended up leaving Ryan at home.I also left my sleeping bag at home and had to sleep under my giant changing towel Friday night. Oops!

Saturday was great. I met up with some local guys and we did about 3 hours worth of trail riding out on the Womble.


Overlook on the North end of the trail:

Stopping to talk to some other riders along the way:

Afterward, we visited a nearby pump track:

I managed to get “good” enough to barely make a non-pedaling lap on two separate attempts. I found it to be much easier on a rigid bike than on my full suspension. Needs more practice!

In the midst of this, my phone ran out of batteries, so it wasn’t until I arrived back to my car late in the afternoon (I’d left it in Perryville and carpooled to the trail) that I got a chance to plug it in and give Ryan a call to let him know that I wasn’t dead or in the hospital with multiple broken bones. My plan was to go pull up camp from Lake Sylvia and drive back to Conway to spend the night in someone’s RV since it would be more comfortable (especially since I’d forgotten the sleeping bag)

I became frustrated when the call to Ryan dropped a couple of times. I figured I was just driving through a spotty service area, so I switched to text messages:

A: “Service is spotty. I will call you in a couple of hours once I am at Lance’s in conway”
R: “Conway is lame.”
A: “Yeah, I know”
R: “Lake slyvia [sic] is a better place.”
R: “Much more private.”
A: “?”
R: “Probably pretty quiet out there I bet”
(after a minute….)
A: “Be there in a minute”

Yeah… turns out that Ryan had left Memphis earlier in the day to bring himself, the dogs, and my sleeping bag out to the campground. That was a pretty awesome surprise.

The next morning, I wasn’t meeting up for Little Rock trail riding until around noon, so Ryan and I drove/hiked to a nearby overlook (North Fork Pinnacle for those of you that know the area) to watch the sunrise/clouds over the Ouachita Mountains. It was great to be able to show him one of my most favorite spots to visit when I’m out that way… (photos on his blog)

Afterward, we packed and headed to Conway for lunch. From there, he went back to Memphis and I followed someone to the Camp Robinson trails in Little Rock to preride for a XC race coming up in October. They were pretty easy compared to what we’d encountered on the Womble the day before, so I didn’t stay for too long (I was especially ready to leave following my run-in with some nasty greenbrair vines that made me feel as if I’d run head-on into a beehive).

Monday (Labor Day), we had breakfast then headed out for a couple of laps around Herb Parson’s Lake. We probably would have gone for a third, but we had to get back to civilization and help my dad with some packing…


He and my mom just bought a cabin in Arkansas… about 4 miles from the Syllamo Trails! From what I’ve heard, the trails are not in the best shape, so I guess I’m adopting a nice 50 mile chunk of singletrack to tend to (with a little help from my friends, hopefully!)