August 17, 2009

Fool’s Gold 50 Race Report

Filed under: Bike Racing,Epic Summer of 2009 — Andrea @ 7:35 am

Well, my weekend didn’t go quite as planned, but I still consider it a success.

I arrived at Camp Wahsega late in the afternoon and went out for a quick spin to get my legs moving again after the 7+ hour drive. Afterward, I cleaned up and figured I’d drive back to town for dinner. I was joined by Cesar Grajales… who, I have to admit, I first thought was just a guy in a rock racing t-shirt he’d picked up at the bike shop until he talked about his team, and I asked who his team was… oops. Dinner was good- we met up with Mike from Niner bikes and some other racers at Caruso’s- an Italian place that was a race sponsor. When we got back, I got to meet with a lot of the other women who were racing… I think that the people I’ve met at MTB races are part of the reason why I love it so much!

The next day started at 5:00 am with the ringing of the canteen bell (just like summer camp back in the day!) By 7:00, I was at the start area to watch the 100 mile racers take off. At 7:15, we were off. The course started on a 12 mile climb. It was pretty gradual, so I settled in to a nice tempo pace. At the top, we passed the first aid station, and only one woman- Loretta Simpson (local expert MTB racer) had stayed with me. I threw in a couple of attacks on the flat section at the top just for good measure. It was very tempting to go a lot harder at that point, but I made myself maintain the same tempo pace so that I’d be able to finish strong. It seemed to have worked, because she dropped back before the next aid station, which was at 19 miles in. I had to stop for water, and she caught up to me.

Once we were back on the trail, I kept with my strategy- tempo riding then letting it rip whenever I was on a descent. That was working well until mile 21… I hit a descent that started out looking as if it’d be fine at high speed, but about halfway down, it got really rocky. I took a bad line into the rocks, hit a large rock, and lost all control… I found out from my Garmin file last night that my speed at that point was 35 mph. I am not sure what happened between hitting the rock and becoming airborne, but I was in the air long enough to hear people yelling and to think to myself, “this is really, really bad.” All I could think to do was tuck my arms up to my sides and relax… it sounds weird, but it’s probably why I didn’t break anything. I bounced into a rock garden then slid downhill for what seemed like forever. When I came to a stop, I could barely breathe- I didn’t know where I was hurt because everything hurt so much. All I could do was just lay on the trail in a fetal position and let space and time catch up with me. I think I heard someone offer to go back to the aid station and call for help, but I managed to communicate that I thought I might be OK.

This was the type of wreck where even the guy that usually rides by and asks if everyone is OK over his shoulder stops… even if just out of morbid curiosity.

After I laid there for a minute, I sat up- at which point (according to Laureen Coffelt), I turned white, but realized that I was (reletively) OK. After another minute, I stood up and slowly got back on my bike. Everyone asked if I was going to continue the race, and I told them I’d at least ride to the next aid station. Somehow, I ended up on the wheel of Laureen (Memphis local from RB’s Racing who was in the 100 mile race). She asked if I wanted to get by, and I told her that I was just going to follow her for a little while- she was very steady and had pre-ridden the course enough to know where the good lines were and would even yell back to me when we came to a section that was easier in the granny gear. It really let me get my rhythm and nerve back. I don’t think she realizes how much that helped me. I honestly don’t know if I could have kept going if it weren’t for her wheel and her encouragement. Huge thanks are deserved…

Once we were off singletrack and back on some forest road, I decided to pick the pace up a little. At that point, my right groin and forearm were hurting a lot, and I had a dull headache (I saw later that I’d cracked the shell of my helmet) and sore back. I just went into survival mode. The fall broke my spirit as much as it broke my body, so I had no drive to even attempt to chase down Loretta, who’d gone ahead once she was sure that I was alive and not on my way to the hospital. All I could do was think about George Hincapie riding in the Tour with a broken collarbone and count the miles.

Somehow, I managed to drag myself the remaining 30 miles to the finish. I held on to 2nd place, too. I wanted to cry when I got there. After I showered, I packed up the car with all intentions of driving back to Memphis to race at the Stanky Creek XC race the next day. However, I changed my mind as I became progressively more sore and noticed some blood in my urine. I was really disappointed that I didn’t race Stanky because it’s a trail where I feel that I do really well, but I was comforted by kegs of Terrapin beer and a bunch of new friends to swap stories and do a little hiking with (the camp has some pretty cool trails/waterfalls to check out).

Today (Monday), I still feel like I’ve been beaten with a lead pipe. My muscles ache, I think I broke a rib, and mentally, I’m in an odd fog- I don’t think I hit my head, but I can’t think straight, and I’ve lost my appetite. Hopefully it’ll clear up in a day or two. I’ve entered the Oak Ridge Omnium that’s scheduled for next weekend, which includes the TN State Championship Road Race. Even if I’m still a little banged up, the payout is great, and I need to defend my RR Jersey!

I’ll update with some photos soon…

August 12, 2009

Double-up time

Filed under: Bike Racing,Epic Summer of 2009,Trail Riding — Andrea @ 1:52 pm

I’ve been planning on the Fool’s Gold MTB race for a while, and I figured I’d be exhausted after the 50 miler. So I was planning on staying overnight and making the drive back home on Sunday… which means that I’d miss the Legends of Stanky Creek XC race back in Memphis on Sunday. That would suck… I’m pretty good at the Stanky Creek trail, AND it’s my home territory! No one likes to NOT show up for the home game.

So I started contemplating an 8 hour drive back on Saturday. Then one of the local guys offered a 6-pack of my favorite beer if I made it back to Memphis for the race… I contemplated harder. Enter my internet buddies over at the forums… I posted about my potential weekend, and they were all for it… a few people are going to send random text messages to me throughout the afternoon on Saturday to keep me from going insane while driving.

You know what’s even more insane than doing both of these races with the help of random friends from the internet??? I want to win both of them.

August 9, 2009

Ouachita Road Trip Wrap-up

Filed under: Epic Summer of 2009,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 9:02 pm

Good times!

I packed up Thursday morning and headed to Bikes Plus to pick Jens up from getting some work done. It took a little longer than expected, so I ended up not getting to Lake Sylvia until around 2:00. I picked a quiet-looking spot and set up camp, changed, and headed out for a short ride. It was nice- I rode a familiar loop that included some rocky goat-trail type roads and a few long climbs/descents. I saw a black bear running through the woods. That was pretty sweet.

When I arrived back a little less than 2 hours later, no fewer than 20 people had moved in to the two sites next to me. I have no idea how many families it was, but there were 6 tents, 4 dogs, 3 vehicles (one being a loud lifted truck), and half the occupants were children ranging in age from ~1-17. Their tents had overflowed their campsites into the area just behind mine (three teenagers were setting one up no less than 10 feet behind my tent). One woman had two volumes to her voice- talk loud and yell until her voice cracked. They drove the very loud truck any time they needed to move more than one person to another area of the campgrounds- they’d load up the back and drive to the bathroom, periodically stepping on the accelerator and gunning the motor. The bathroom was about 100 feet away from their campsite if they’d take the walking trail through the open wooded area. Luckily, the camp host was really nice- he came over as soon as he saw me ride in and helped me move my tent to the other side of the campgrounds into the “primitive” camping area. He had his hands full keeping those folks in line the entire time I was there.

Friday, I packed up early and headed to Story, Arkasas to meet up with Todd Henne. He gave me the introductory tour to the north end of the Womble trail. It kicked my butt so hard that I was wiped out in 20 miles. I know it’s not toally accurate (always on the over-estimation side), but my Garmin 205 said that the elevation gain was just over 6600 feet. Eek! Even if it was just half of that, it’s a good bit of gain for a short ride (by contrast, the entire 50 mile loop for next weekend’s Fool’s Gold race is estimated to be ~6700 feet total gain). Makes me feel a little bit better about the upcoming race…

Saturday morning I went to a short track race (Big Ballin’ Dirt Track Classic) at Burns Park (Little Rock). Short track racing is pretty freakin’ sweet. It’s kinda like cyclocross, criteriums, and XC races all rolled in to one. My race was 30 minutes plus a lap. The only other woman that showed up was riding a single speed… the course didn’t have much elevation change, and was pretty twisty, so I knew that it wouldn’t put her at much of a disadvantage (especially since her bike was about 10 pounds lighter than mine, and a rigid frame rather than full suspension).
We lined up with the category 2/3 men. I figured I should go all out for the holeshot. I did, and it paid off. I settled in behind two men for about 20 minutes until a prime was called, at which point, they dropped me. Luckily, I’d held on to a good lead and finished the last few laps up as best I could. First woman and third overall (against a few guys!) I won a sweet Giro helmet!

After the race, I headed back to camp, rode a little more (just up the FR132 climb and back) then showered, struck camp, and headed back to Memphis. Last night, sleep didn’t come easy. It was too quiet after being in the company of countless noise-making insects and amphibions. I also could feel chiggers crawling all over me (at least, in my head… I don’t think they were actually there) as well as some poison ivy emerging on my left ankle. I got up and rode 70 miles this morning. My legs were pretty torched from the weekend, but I did manage a few threshold intervals once we were with the group. Afterwards, I was beat. Ryan and I got some lunch and went to Lowe’s… I fell asleep in the car on the way to Lowe’s. I guess that’s how you know that it was a good weekend!

August 6, 2009

Training Peaks Blog

Filed under: Training — Andrea @ 7:03 am

I’m famous! Woohoo!

Training Peaks

…and now, I must pack the car and get going over to my 2nd home in the Ouachitas…

August 4, 2009

Arkansas Trails

Filed under: Trail Riding — Andrea @ 4:42 am

Bored with all 30 miles of trail we have here in Memphis? Take a trip to Arkansas, but visit this site first to get the lowdown on the multitude of trails: Mountain Bike Arkansas

I’m gonna put a permanent link over on the sidebar for it. Enjoy!

August 3, 2009

Ouachita National Forest Adventure, Take 2

Filed under: Epic Summer of 2009,Trail Riding,Training — Andrea @ 7:42 am

Not much going on around Memphis right now, and I’m still trying my best to prepare for the Fool’s Gold 50 in a couple of weeks. There’s a short track MTB race in Little Rock next Saturday, which, by itself, isn’t very much like a 50 mile endurance race, but is a good draw to venture to Arkansas for other riding…


Pink: Mt Ida- closest town to the Womble Trail
Purple: Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) Trailhead
Blue: Little Blakely (mixed reviews from what I’ve seen
Green: the old stand-by, Lake Sylvia, and miles of forest/4×4 roads with some long, occasionally steep climbs

A visit to those would be a great addition to my dwindling weeks of summer vacation, and would give me an opportunity to try out my Element as a camping vehicle.

July 30, 2009

Kitty Integration

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 7:05 pm

Chunky the Ninja Kitty is venturing downstairs a lot more now that she & the dogs are getting used to each other.

Her favorite place to snooze & hang out

Her favorite place to snooze & hang out

She also enjoys watching cars out the window

She also enjoys watching cars out the window

However, they still have their differences…


July 28, 2009

New Ride… the 4-Wheeled type

Filed under: non-bike — Andrea @ 4:33 pm

Traded in the Fit this morning…




Nothing to see here for now

Filed under: non-bike,Training — Andrea @ 5:34 am

I know I haven’t posted for a while, but ever since I got home from my fouled trip to Arkansas, nothing has really been happening. I had a tough training weekend- I kept up with the Trinity ride on Saturday (until near the end when Ryan dropped me), which, even though a lot of the fast guys were “missing,” resulted in post-ride exhaustion (for those of you who use Training Peaks- TSS was 203.3 for the ~3hr ride).
Sunday, Ryan and I rode to the Outdoors ride and split off from the group to ride home across northern Shelby County instead of going back through town like usual. Taking the back roads meant no stoplights & little traffic, so we were able to keep the pace steady the entire way home. We ended up with 80 miles for the day, and I was beat! (Once again, for Training Peaks lovers, TSS was 279.1)

So that was my way of welcoming myself back to Memphis. I’m trying to be ready for the Fool’s Gold race on August 15th. I chickened out on the 100 and emailed the promoter telling him to move me to the 50 mile race. I haven’t trained enough to feel comfortable trying to ride that far through wilderness. Attempting a 12 hour on an “easier” course where the car/pits are no more than a mile or two away is one thing… trying to ride two 50 mile loops in the mountains of North Georgia is another animal. I’ve got to get my isht together and do some serious training before the endurance season starts back in full swing next year. I need to be fit on my MTB, too.

Today is rainy and dreary. I’m heading up to the Honda dealership in a few hours to possibly purchase a new Element. I’ll be trading the Fit. It’s been a nice car, but I’ll be getting rid of my car payment and getting something with more space (not complaining that the Fit wasn’t enough, because lord knows I could pack a LOT of stuff in there). I test drove an Element the other day- it was like driving a toaster. I’ll miss the awesome handling and insane MPG of the Fit, but other benefits of the Element win out. It’s got rubber flooring and for garsh sakes! I’ll post some pics once it’s in the driveway.

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!

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