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,

Andrea

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.

Pre-Ride:
prewomble

Overlook on the North end of the trail:
overlook

Stopping to talk to some other riders along the way:
meeting

Afterward, we visited a nearby pump track:
pumptrack
pump1

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…

nosfer

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!)

Uneventful

I heard someone compare life to baseball once. There’s a lot of waiting around for something to happen… followed by fast, exciting stuff, then more waiting around. Right now, there’s a lull in the action. So I figured I could sum up anything interesting that’s been going on with a quick list:

  • Ryan is trying out a Titus Racer-X 29er. I really hope he gets it so we can go on some trail-riding road trips this winter
  • Along the same line, my parents just bought a cabin near Mountain View Arkansas… it’s just a few miles from the Syllamo Trailhead, so that should be a great source of future entertainment.
  • Apparently the phenomenon of not being able to fart without someone talking about me extends past the city limits of Memphis.

papa

  • I’m hoping the weather holds off for a weekend of trail riding over in Arkansas- the plan is to meet a group at the Womble tomorrow then check out the CARP trails on Sunday. The rain may make it a road weekend in town, though. Which would be a little disappointing, but not too bad since I could definitely enjoy a weekend at home with my honey…

trail

The Quiet Weekend at Home

After a couple of crazy race weekends, it was nice to not be traveling. I’d originally planned to go to the Devil’s Den Adventure Race, but turns out my high school reunion (Germantown High c/o 99!) was scheduled for Saturday the 29th, and, besides that, I still can’t run without my hip adductor starting to hurt. On Friday, Ryan left town for the River Gorge Omnium in Chattanooga.

Friday: after finishing up the shopping I needed to complete my “little black dress” ensemble for the reunion on Saturday, I spent a night out with friends at Flying Saucer. We ended up meeting up a little after 9:00, which, oddly enough, is about the time I start thinking about going to bed… FYI, Trois Pistoles beer is freaking awesome, and if any of my readers knows where to buy it in Memphis (other than in a bar), please tell me… or just buy some and send it to me. That’d be cool, too.

Crappy camera phone photo:
tres

Saturday: go to bed at 1:something. Actually get up and drag my tail to the Trinity ride. Luckily I think I wasn’t the only person on the ride to have a late night (early morning?), and the ride was just “hard” instead of “eye-bleeding hard.” My legs actually felt pretty good, but my brain wasn’t into it. I’d suffered so much the two weekends before, it was tough to convince myself to keep doing it. I stayed with the group nonetheless, though there was a bad wreck just after I split off at me street, and local legend David Lacek was badly injured (broken pelvis & ribs and a partially collapsed lung). He’s still in the hospital as I’m typing this, though he’s expected to recover & be alright.

That evening, we met up again at Flying Saucer for a couple of pre-party beers then headed to Falling Creek in Eads where the reunion party was being held at the mansion of one of my former classmate’s parents. Wow. It was really, REALLY nice! There was an open bar, too.
I’ve heard a lot of disaster stories about class reunions, and I wasn’t sure how this one would turn out. I was friendly in high school, but I generally kept to myself because most of my friends weren’t in my class (a lot were at other schools, too). However, when we arrived, everyone was awesomely friendly. I have to say, it was one of the most fun times I’ve had in a looooong time. Everyone was happy to see everyone, I got to see some old friends, and got to make a few new ones with people I hadn’t really known back in the day. It seemed like we’d just arrived when the music stopped… though it was nearly 1am. (again) Somewhere, there is photo evidence that I rocked the hell out of the Little Black Dress. I’ll post those when I find them.

There were a couple of after-party get togethers, but I opted for home. BTW- designated drivers are the most awesome people on earth…

Sunday: I didn’t bother to set the alarm clock, but ended up waking up a little before 7:00. Apparently the dogs did NOT go out & party the previous night, so they were up & pacing the bedroom floor when the sun came up. It was a little late to make the Outdoors group ride, and I didn’t have the mental capacity for a hammerfest anyway. So after a big breakfast, I headed out in search of gravel roads. I found a couple… I got some OK shots w/the camera phone that I’ll post later.

Then I found a bridge that was out between me and home. I had to detour to highway 64 though Oakland and ended up having to dodge traffic and ride on the sidewalk where I managed to run over something that ripped the bejesus out of my nearly new Conti Gatorskin. Crap. I made it home nonetheless, though my plan for ~60 miles turned into 81. Glad I brought that extra Clif bar along!
I got home around 3:30 and remembered that I had a Marx and Bensdorf team party to go to at 5:00. Yes. Another party. It was reletively sedate, though I did enjoy several Fat Tires in the process…

So that about sums it up. I haven’t been “out” so much in as long as I can remember, and I doubt I will for a while, but it was more fun than I’ve had in a while, and a great way to cap off a wonderful summer. Today, I’m back at school for the start of the Fall semester. Time to get back to work!

I want to go to there…

I want to do this:

Anyone know of a bike/ski hill in the Greater Memphis area that I can use???

Edited to add: Here, too! (thanks to reader “notthedroids” for the link!)

I’m dead serious when I say I was being retarded and trying to do the same thing on a 3″ travel bike w/no protective gear other than a helmet. I can’t even imagine the fun I’d have on one of those beastly DH rigs and some proper body coverage other than “spandex.”

Out of the Ashes: Oak Ridge Omnium Race Report

Friday was a tough day.

I hadn’t ridden all week because of my adductor pain, so Ryan and I went for a quick spin on Friday morning so I could see how my legs felt. It was bad- not injury pain bad- just “you haven’t ridden in a week” bad. I tried a leg-opening effort and was barely able to sustain normal wattage without searing lactic acid that felt as if it was being drawn from my legs into my lungs. I tried a couple of attacks… worse. I had no “snap” to speak of. It was exactly the type of ride that you don’t want to have before a state championship race.

After getting home & packing up, we hit the road. To add to the crappy ride I’d had earlier, my leg got more sore as the day went on, and, by the time we went to dinner that night, I was in enough pain to be limping. I kept watching out for other competitors… I didn’t want them to see that I was that injured. I told Ryan that I needed some sort of miraculous healing process to occur by the time I woke up in the morning and went to bed feeling both mentally and physically broken.

Road Race
Determined to do what I could with what I had, I woke up, ate some breakfast, and pinned my number. Strangely enough, after a couple of ibuprofen, I couldn’t feel my injury. Once I arrived at the staging area for the race, I changed and rolled around a little. A lot of women were showing up and registering. We lined up with a nice sized field. While we were waiting to start, Ryan rolled up from his race. He was grinning-Â turns out he’d won the cat 3 state championship in a 2-man breakaway on the last lap. I was so excited that I laid my bike down and hugged him. He’s been working so hard this season… it’s awesome to see it finally pay off.

Soon after, my race started. Two laps on a course with a couple of big hills and a lot of rollers. When we came to the first hill, I tried an attack. I don’t think it registered as an attack to any of the other racers. Fail. A few miles later, we hit the next hill. The riders behind me stuck me out in the wind.

Fine. You want me in front? Well, then you’d better hold the eff on.

Figuring that my attacking legs were non-existent, I took my week of frustrations out in a barely-sustainable tempo up the hill. It was a bit of a stair-step climb… I never let off during the reprieves, and, just as we passed the feed zone and I was feeling like puking, we passed a church’s sign that said “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD.” I took that as a cue to continue the punishment. I looked back and saw that the peloton had exploded behind me with a few riders hanging on and others sprinkled down the road. The crest of the hill came soon after, and, being pissed off at gravity from my wreck exactly one week before, I stood up and let loose upon the descent. It was technical in a couple of spots, but the roads were well-banked, so I never touched the brakes. I wanted to show the descent who was boss.

Once we hit the flat/rolling section after all of these shenanigans, I pulled through, flicked an elbow, and surveyed the damage- five riders and myself had a good gap on a shattered group of chasers. We started working together to stay away. It was a great ride from there. We finished the remaining lap & a half mostly cooperating until we left the race course loop. I took that as a cue to get on a wheel and prepare to sprint. When we hit 1k to go, one rider took the inititive to lead the field out. We rounded the corner to the finish and Mary Mayhew jumped. I followed and went to her left just as Jennifer Schuble did the same to me. It seemed like the world’s longest sprint, but I managed to hold her off and take it by a wheel. I nearly cried on the way back to the staging area. I couldn’t believe that I’d been able to ride that hard. I couldn’t believe that I’d been able to match Mary’s jump into the sprint. I couldn’t believe that I’d actually been able to sprint so hard against some really good sprinters. I was almost overwhelmed.

Time Trial
As soon as I rolled in from my race, I told Ryan the good news and we headed back to the hotel. I had to immediately eat and get my bike ready for the 8 mile time trial just three hours later. I’m finding longer time trials to be “easier” as far pacing goes now that I’ve got a powermeter. I used to start too hard then fade at the end. Now I know what type of wattage I should see for the duration, and it helps me hold back a little at the beginning and finish with barely anything left by the end. This strategy paid off- I rolled a 19:35, which was more than enough for 1st place. With the omnium weighted heavily towards the time trial and criterium, this was good, but I’d still need to place in the top 3 on Sunday or risk losing the #1 spot.

FYI- in Oak Ridge, State Champions drink for free. I was glad that my Sunday race wasn’t until late in the day!

Criterium
I was feeling pretty good warming up on the trainer. Ryan raced both the masters 30+ and cat 3 crits, so we were at the race course pretty early. I didn’t mind watching a few other categories, because the finish of the race was a little bit tricky. It was a short, sharp uphill followed by a left turn and a long drag to the finish… with an intermittent tailwind. It seemed that whoever was able to get around the corner first was holding on for the win, but not all of the races played out that way, so I was slightly worried about making sure that I nailed it and kept my top omnium placing.

When our race started, I did what a normally do and attacked off the line. I like setting the “mood” for the race before anyone starts to get too comfortable. My attack strung the group out, but no one was really caught off gaurd, so I tucked back in line to catch my breath and wait for an opportunity to try again. I really wanted to thin the group out early in the race then rest up a bit for the sprint.

A couple of laps later, my strategy would be unnecessary.

Someone pulled for a lap then tried to pull through along the start/finish stretch. Whoever was behind her didn’t let her pull through. The pace bogged down to 16 or 17 mph and everyone in front of me started looking at each other and swerving around trying to make one another pull. I can’t stand that crap, so, of course, I attacked the bejesus out of them for it. It was about 7 minutes in to the 50 minute criterium.

I got a gap. They chased. For several laps, I was wavering at about a 10-15 second lead. A couple of times I’d look back and wonder if I should sit up, get caught, and try to conserve energy.

I’ve tried this solo break thing enough to know that at some point, you either give up and try to recover, or you go “all in,” meaning that you commit enough of your energy that you’re either staying away and winning or getting caught and not have anything left to get you to the finish line.

I went all in.

The gap grew to close to 30 seconds and continued to waiver. I knew that if I could get far enough away far enough into the race that the morale of the chasers would be broken and they’d let me stay out. Twenty minutes remained on the clock, and Ryan gave me a time check of 37 seconds… next lap, 54 seconds. As I’d hoped, the chasers began to fear being too tired to be able to sprint well, sat up, and resolved themselves to racing for 2nd place. I continued to fight the wind with all I had left, and the gap continued to grow. As I passed the start/finish with 5 laps to go, Barb Rigby, the official, announced on the loudspeaker that she wanted me to lap the field.

yeah… you get out here and lap the field. With the times I’m turning and the time remaining, I should have had 5 to go on the previous lap…

Such is you inner monologue when you’re swimming in a cesspool of lactic acid. I got within 20 seconds or so of lapping them. 53 minutes after the first attack (told you she made me do an extra lap!), I crossed the finish line… totally exhausted of both my physical and mental capacities, but very, very happy.

The pack sprint was handily won by Jennifer Schuble. I’m glad I wasn’t there…

And so, my road season comes to a close.

I spent most of the ride home in total disbelief of the past 8 days. I had an insane MTB wreck, managed to ride 30 more miles thinking I’d broken some bones, held on to second place, then spent all week limping around and going nuts with a torn hip adductor. Between the pain and the horrible morning ride, if you’d told me Friday night that I’d sweep the omnium, I would have called you a fool. I still can’t figure out how I manage to do these things. Luck? Genes? Physiology? Your guess is as good as mine. All I do know is that I can’t wait for the next challenge. Ok, enough cheese. Time to get some real lunch.

Oh yeah, and here’s a link to Ryan’s photos… Roadcx.net

Restless- Confessions of an Adrenaline Junkie

I think that the term “Adrenaline Junkie” is something that’s pretty cliched, but now that I’ve got excess time to sit around and think, it makes more sense.Â

With the exception of the torn adductor, I’m ready to get out and bend some cranks. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this motivated to train. I want to shake things up on the MTB next year, and I’m ready to get started NOW. Something about the anti-inflammatory med the doc has me on (Voltaren) seems to make me feel a little crazy on top of being restless.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s the whole weekend experience that’s making me crazy. Here’s a quote from someone RBR about people that do ultra-endurance sports: “People do this stuff for the same reason heroin addicts OD…. they keep chasing the high and it takes more and more to get that high.” This is how I feel right now. If I can’t get out and ride my bike, I want to get in my car and do 100mph on the interstate or something.

After thinking that you’re going to die for even a fraction of a second, ordinary life suddenly becomes the most painfully boring thing you’ve ever experienced.

At least for me, it’s like that. Other people would probably just be happy that they’re alive (of course, other people wouldn’t have been going fast enough to wreck and think that they’re going to die during mid-flight). I guess that’s the “adrenaline junkie” personality type. I keep sitting here while my hip mends wishing that someone would bust through my front door and try to rob me just to add some excitement to the mundane. Maybe it’s a psychological side-effect of attention deficit disorder… certainly sounds less goofy than “adrenaline junkie”!

It’s why I’ve decided to go ahead and race the Oak ridge Omnium this weekend. I want to take my frustrations out on the race. It’s gonna hurt, but I can’t wait. Really- if I have to wait any longer, I’m gonna go nuts!!! So, it’s time to defend the TN State Champion Road Race title. I’m very much looking forward to it :)