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…

New Sponsor

If you take a look at the links over to the right, you’ll notice I added a new category for sponsors. I’d like to thanks Travis at the new Daddymart online bike shop for helping me out with the build parts for the Jet9 (that won’t actually be here until almost May) He’s in the process of building up his inventory, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for on there, then just shoot him an email and he can usually get what you need. If you use the coupon code “brickhouse” when you order, you can get an additional 15% off of your total!


I’m still in the process of gathering sponsors to help with a somewhat ambitious moutain bike season. I’m planning on entering a couple of NRC Endurance races as well as 4-5 100milers in the NUE series. If you’re reading this, and you’re interested in helping, let me know (andrea@brickhouseracing.com)!

Marx-Bensdorf Training Camp- Day 1

Unlike ride #1 of the Metro VWÂ training camp last year, this ride didn’t include any road rage or broken windows. In fact, the only bad thing that happened during our first ride was a metric crap-ton of flat tires.

We rode out & back from the Oxford Holiday Inn and headed to Sardis Lake (about 30 miles round trip). Prettymuch the only “skill” we practiced was paceline riding along the way back. It was nice to see everyone transitioning from a disorganized blob into two tight lines. A few miles from the hotel, we played around with a few short attacks. I decided to participate just to see what the legs were feeling like. Surprisingly, I managed to keep up, though I wasn’t able to turn the screws too hard (a combination of lack of higher intensity training, sore legs from getting back into the weightroom a couple of times this week, and the 5 pounds I’ve gained since the weather got nasty and I lost motivation to ride for hours on end).

So, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m hoping to get some good training in for myself and also am eager to see what type of horsepower the MB Ladies are going to bring to the asphalt. For now, it’s time for dinner & beer…

Consolation Prize!

I ended up holding on to the TBRA CX BAR points lead!!! WOOt! I call it my consolation prize since, barring mechanical difficulty, it’s pretty safe to say that Kim F. can give me a sound beating in a cyclocross race

So, Congrats to Kim for winning the CX 1/2/3 championship race over the weekend! I wasn’t about to drive 8 hours though the winter weather in hopes that her bike would somehow explode during the race, so I was a little worried that Kim Bishop, who was not too far behind me in points, would pass me by since I was missing the last two points races of the season.

Full results: TBRA CX 1/2/3 series standings

Boring weekend

Blah… I was planning on driving up to Johnson City on Friday to race in the last of the TBRA CX points races, but a freak ice storm came through instead. I wasn’t about to make the 8 hour trek in sleet, snow, and freezing rain. So, I just stayed home to tackle some time on the trainer. Blah. At least I got in a good threshold inteval workout this morning. Probably the only “structured” training I’ve done so far…

I’m guessing that tomorrow will be more of the same. I hate ice and snow! Anyone down in a warmer clime want to put me up for the rest of the winter?!

Southern Cross Race Report

Even though the temps hovered in the 40s and clouds enveloped the upper elevations of the climbs on course, it was much, much nicer than it could have been if the race hadn’t been rescheduled from a couple of weeks ago when several inches of snow fell and temps hung in the low 20’s.

It’s not often that I get butterflies, but after losing last year to Carey Lowery in the last 100 meters of race course, I had more reason than payout to do well this year (unfortunately, Carey wasn’t able to make it this year because of a recent surgery). Before the race start, I rode around the CX loop that we’d circle before and after the 50something mile gravel route through the national forest. This loop was a lot easier than the Mulberry Gap loop from last year, so I wasn’t too worried.

When the race started, I tried to make the best use of the cross course to get ahead of the other women. My strategy worked well, and I ended up entering the gravel just a little behind the group of men’s race leaders. Once I got away from Camp Wahsega, I forced myself to settle into a sustainable tempo (I have a bad habit of starting out too fast). The first climb (Winding Stair) went by quickly, and soon enough, I passed the aid station, headed up a few more miles, then started the descent down to several miles of pavement.

I like descents… other than having to stop for a lost water bottle (damn crappy cage!), I hauled all sorts of ass. The way I see it, descents are free time if you can go faster than your competition without wrecking or having a mechanical. I set my brakes up especially for this- I can grab my drops and wrap a finger or two around the brake lever without rubbing the pad on the rim unless I squeeze it a little more.

The road section was where I knew I could make up time on the other women. With ladies like Emily Brock and Brenda Simril chasing you, playing up your strengths can be pivotal… I got in my drops and put my head down, maintaining the same strong tempo effort I’d hit on the way up the first climb. At one point, the Applegates passed me on their tandem. Sweet! They ended up going slightly slower than what I was originally aiming for, but the energy-saving benefit of sitting behind a 29er tandem when there’s a headwind is pretty awesome.

Once we were back on the gravel, the second climb started soonafter. The Applegates & I were back & fourth- they were generally faster on the flat/downhill streches and I was a little faster uphill. This was also where my legs started to ache. For a minute, I slowed down, but then I recalled the hours of trail and road riding in Mountain View that I’d put in during Winter Break. So, I gritted my teeth, cleared the whiney thoughts from my head, and pushed harder.

Miles later, I stopped at the last aid station to quickly get a little water and toss my vest, which had been bothering me since the zipper stuck halfway down a few miles back. At that point, the Applegates passed me again (I wasn’t really racing them, but they acted a little bit as a rabbit to chase to keep me going). A few miles later, the final descent began. At first, it was foggy and rocky. I was a little cautious for the first section since a wreck, flat, or broken equipment would be pretty disasterous. However, once it smoothed out, I went back to going all-out. A couple of times, I felt my rear wheel skidding precariously around the damp, sandy turns… it was both incredibly fun and incredibly terrifying all at once. (The Applegates left me in the dust- they not only had a heavy & very stable machine with fatter tires & front suspension, they also have the skill and cajones to take full advantage of it!)

Soon enough, I was back at Camp Wahsega. Eddie set up a killer run-up (everyone said it was worse than last year, but I didn’t think so) and a little singletrack to navigate before re-entering the CX loop. When I got to the base, I noticed that Ryan was about halfway up. Happy to be off my bike, I shouldered it and started to climb. Once I got to the top, I hopped back on and headed down some rooty trail, over a few trees, and around the last couple of bridges before re-entering the course (I also managed to pass Ryan somewhere along the way). As I entered the section of barriers, I caught back up to the Applegates. I thought about attacking & diving around them, but then figured it wasn’t really all that important, so I told them that I’d back off so we could all have good finishing photos (hopefully those will surface soon!)

So my hard work paid off… I finished ~20 minutes ahead of the 2nd place woman. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. I’ve got a lot more work to do before I’m 100% ready to conquer my first 100 miler in a few months.

HUGE thanks to Eddie and Namrita O’Dea for putting this race on. It’s always going to be one of my favorites, and I LOVE that they pay the women out the same as the men ($500 for 1st place!!!) You guys rock!

Photo from the first climb (courtesy of Chris Hines)


Southern Cross… Take 2

The training I did in Arkansas over the Winter break paid off. The 50 something gravel-grinding miles were tough, but I owned it. Though I wished that Carey Lowery (who I lost to last year) was racing, I still nailed it. When the race started, I made sure to pace myself up the first ~11 miles of climbing. Once I hit the descent followed by a section road, I was lucky enough that the one tandem couple passed me. Though they were eventually going slightly slower than was aiming for, they provided me with an awesome draft for about 10 miles of pavement. That allowed me to really nail the final climb/descent.

Maybe I’ll revise this to a full-on race report, but I’m enjoying an amazing homebrew coconut porter right now, so you’re just going to have to wait…

Columbia CX Race #3 and the Hangover Ride

In my continuing quest to poach TBRA points, Ryan and I daytripped the 3rd race of the Columbia Cyclocross series. Once again, Kim Bishop and I were the only 1/2/3 women lining up with the Masters and Cat 3 men. The course was good for me- several power sections and a long, steep run-up.

I went all out from the gun. Unlike the first Columbia race, (where even though I won the women’s competition, overall I didn’t place well) this race was not prefaced by a 20 hour training week. I held a decent position at the start and, with each lap, kept moving up. The guys I passed would occasionally put up a fight and try to pass back, but were unable to hold position because I’d ride right back through them. It was a take-no prisoners type of ride. I wasn’t sure of my placing overall, but on the last couple of laps, I had one more ahead of me that was within range. A couple of times, I found myself on his rear wheel but unable to get past. I ended up finishing a few second behind him. He turned around as I crossed the line and asked if I was smelling blood today.

Yeah, I guess that’s how you could put it…

Turns out he was the 2nd place cat 3 guy. Not bad, though today at the #4 race, Kym F. came over from Chatanooga and beat ALL of the guys. Pretty kickass if I do say so myself!

We got home sometime around 7:30 last night then met up with some friends at Flying Saucer and ended up staying up WAY too late! There was a Marx & Bensdorf team ride scheduled to leave for Potts Camp, MS at 8:00, but those of us at the bar decided that we’d have a “hangover ride” today around 11:00. It turned out to be a really, really good winter training ride. We kept a hard but steady (for the most part ;) ) tempo for close to 50 miles. The weather was gorgeous and the sun came out after a while, so it was a pretty perfect day on the bike.

Bike for Sale

In light of a couple of new rides heading my way, I need to clear some room in the stable (while also filling my wallet a bit)

2008 BH Connect- 54cm Complete bike w/SRAM Red

Want to stick out from the heard a little bit? I bet you don’t know many guys/gals on your local hammerfest that ride a BH. BH is a Spanish Company that makes some seriously kickass rides. The look is definitely NOT your usual Trek, Giant, or Specialized- the carbon frame has oversized top and downtubes- making it one of the stiffest ones out there but still giving you a really great ride quality. It feels great on climbs and once you cross the top, goes down faster than a drunken sorority chick.

I’ve built this bad boy up with SRAM Red- which is, IMHO, the best component group you can get. The wheels are Rolf Vector Pros- I think they look pretty awesome. Are they light? Hell no, they aren’t light- they’re for training! Nothing screams “I have a hard time keeping up” like arriving to the local group ride on light, fancy wheels. The tires follow suit- 25c Gatorskin up front and a kevlar-belted Bontrager out back. Besides, if you race, then you’ve already got a set of light race wheels for when it really counts.
The handlebars are FSA Omega compacts (size 40), the stem is an Edge (alloy) 120mm, and the seatpost is Thompson (no setback). I hate interior cable routing, so I ran a solid cable housing from the rear DR to the shifter. It works great, but there’s nothing wrong with the routing that the bike has through the chainstay other than I didn’t want to deal with it. Last but not least, the saddle is a San Marco SKN. It’s been ridden less than 10x because it’s much too narrow for me.

You can read the Road Bike Action review of this frame HERE

Retail on this frame/parts is around $4000 (you can find the frame on closeout for ~$2k and the Red group runs about the same). It’s used, but other than a couple of cosmetic paint chips, it’s in really nice condition. This can all be yours for $2,000. If you’re feeling lucky, make an offer!