Home this Weekend… and other stuff

Can you believe it? After going to going to (mostly cyclocross) races every weekend for the past 6 weeks or so, Ryan and I are actually not going anywhere this weekend.

Ok, so I was mildly tempted to go to Hot Springs for a Sunday MTB race…

…but I’m not feeling another road trip right now when we’re about to head over to the cabin in Mountain View, AR for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I’m really looking forward to the trip.
In general, I’m pretty ready for this semester of school to be over so I can get into the meat of my off-season training. I plan on swapping my SRM over to my CX bike and taking it and my MTB over to the cabin and just staying there for most of XMas break (mid Dec-Jan). With those two bikes, I should be able to ride anywhere I please (paved road, gravel road, trail, etc). The goal is to build up to all-day MTB rides by the time the Spring semester starts up next year. This should be a huge step in readying myself for NUE and other races that start in the spring.

Low Back Help

I’m not fond of losing races due to things other than fitness, so I’ve been working on ways to make sure I don’t have low back issues again in the future.

#1: New hydration pack. Based on some internet testimonials from people that have had some pain similar to mine, I purchased a Wingnut Splitback hydration pack. It sits low on the back and distributes weight to the hips rather than the upper back. My chiropractor agrees that this seems like a much better way to carry weight on a bike.

#2: Bike fit adjustments. I visited Matt at Peddler Bike Shop the other day for a 3D fit on my road bike. I didn’t want to change anything dramatically on my MTB before the race, but I’ll likely adjust my cleat position and saddle to match the changes he made with my road setup. I decided I need a different MTB saddle, too. The one I have may be a bit on the narrow side and gave me some “unmentionable” chafing last Saturday.

#3: Kinesiotape. I’m going to try some Rocktape kinesiotape on my low back. Unlike standard tape, Rocktape was created for athletic therapeutic use- it’s more durable, stretchy, and water/sweat resistant than your standard tape. I’m looking forward to giving it a shot on my next long ride.

Bonus for all my loyal readers: if you want to try Rocktape yourself, use the discount code “brickhouse” when you make a purchase from their website, and get 20% off at checkout!

That’s about it… I’m hoping that with these changes and more hours in the saddle, I won’t have excuses when the next race rolls around.

Outdoors, Inc. Cyclocross Race

Getting out of bed Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure how my legs would respond to my requests to pedal, run, and jump as hard as possible. I generally ached all over from the day before, though I knew I’d done everything within my power to recover as much as possible (short of taking an ice bath… I hate those as much as they work).

The weather was perfect. In fact, since it stopped raining a couple of weeks ago, the weather has been 60-70 and sunny every day. Does anyone else find that somewhat scary? (in a bad, climate-change sort of way)

I digress…
Teammate Casey Malone and I lined up behind the Cat 4 and “B” Masters men. Unlike the TBRA races I’ve been in lately, this time we’d start a minute behind these guys (instead of at the same time as the cat3 or 1/2/3 guys). Lame!

I hadn’t really warmed up much- when I was pre-riding, I had a tire burp air, so I convinced Ryan to let me use his nice DuraAce wheels/Jett tires that were a better match to the course than my Bulldogs/heavy Zero AO28s. So, when the start tape was raised, I wasn’t too sure of how I’d feel.

Surprisingly, I felt really awesome. I was passing the tail end of the men’s race within the first part of the lap. Casey hung on for a while, but dropped off at some point. The course was a lot of fun- it turned & went up the river bluff a few times and had a few chicanes & even a tiny bit of mud. I wish that more ladies had shown up to race!

Ryan took a few photos of my race, and I photographed the A race as well. I’m hoping that more pop up since there seemed to be a lot of photographers around the course. Here’s a link to his gallery: Outdoors, Inc Cyclocross on RoadCX.net

Lock Four 6 Hour Race

With a lingering head cold, I wasn’t sure until Thursday or Friday if I actually wanted to do this race. However, I figured as long as I wasn’t coughing or feverish that I’d be alright.

So, I woke up at 4am Saturday morning and got on the road to Gallatin, TN (on the NE side of Nashville) to go ride in a race that I hadn’t trained for much at all. If anything, it’d give me a good benchmark so I’d know where I stand fitness-wise before embarking on my epic training schedule this December at the Syllamo trails.

Thanks to Cyclocrunk, I can now nail a LeMans start to the M.F.ing WALL! Because of that, I had good placing going into the singletrack. I started out quick, but was sure to not burn too many matches on the first lap. The course was fun- it featured a few rocky sections, drops, jumps, some wide switchbacks up & down some hills, and a couple of short, screaming descents. It was a 29er dream course for sure.

Speaking of… the new Air9 frame was great! I forgot to write about it, but I sealed up some new Maxxis Ignitor tires on Thursday, and they prettymuch rocked. For a sub-600g 29er tire, they’re nice & knobby! Personally, I’ll take a hit on rolling resistance for better traction any day. Bonus- my bike now weighs in at 23 pounds, 7 ounces…

Anyways-
Laps 1-3 feel great. I could see going in to lap 4 that I’d put some time on Laureen Coffelt (super endurance chick, also from Memphis). At that point, she was just emerging from the woods as I was re-entering. However, about a mile in, my back started to hurt really bad. I’m not really sure why- bike fit, camelback, hardtail, fitness… combination of all those? Most likely.
I had to slow down because every bump was sending waves of pain through my muscles. Somehow, I finished that lap. When I arrived back to the pits, I grabbed some asprin and slammed a Redbull with part of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. While I was stopped, Laureen passed me. After a quick stretch, I was just glad to be able to continue.

My last two laps were good. Good enough for me to hold on to 2nd place (about 6 minutes behind Laureen). I was a little dissapointed in myself, but didn’t worry too much about it. I think Laureen’s been at this since before I knew how to ride a bike, so to finish just 6 minutes back from her without any specific training is not a bad spot.

After the awards ceremony, I packed up & headed back to Memphis. BTW- driving 3.5 hours after riding for nearly 6 is Hell.

McEwen Cyclocross #2

There’s not a ton to say about this race… only one woman from Saturday showed back up. I wasn’t feeling a hammerfest against the men, so I just rode somewhat hard for the 60 minute race. I won, but didn’t pay too much attention to the guys (only beat one of them). I didn’t feel too bad about it- the promoter used the average lap time of each category to calculate a handicap for the finale “Hoss of Cross” race in which entrants start slowest to fastest and race 2 laps of the course for a nice set of wheels (and a snuggie!)

I started 45 seconds after the junior racer (Max Gander) and 45 seconds before the Cat 4/SS men. Unfortunately, my race was over quite quickly… at the first log/runup (which I’d been able to ride over slowly during my race), I attempted to dismount & run. This would have been faster, except my chain bounced off and hung up on the chain watcher, pulling it sideways into the front chainring. By the time I’d fixed it, the group of men was at the runup. There was no way I’d be able to hang with a couple of them, so I rolled back down the hill and filled a cup from the keg of Yazoo beer instead…

So, day two was pretty “Meh” as far as racing, but I did get to hang out & talk with Mike Pace- owner of Pace’s Cog Farm where the race took place. I’ll definitely be making a trip or two back to McEwen for some mountain and road riding at some point in the future!

McEwen Cyclocross #1

Once again, we found ourselves headed East on a Saturday morning. This time, to McEwen Tennessee for the first of two races.

Despite the promoter’s offer of a seperate women’s race and payout equal to the men, only two other women showed to race. To make things more intereseting, we decided that we’d race at the same time as the p1/2/3 men for 60 minutes (instead of the usual 45).

The course was really nice. This was the first cross race I’ve been to this year that didn’t have a drop of mud on it! Don’t get me wrong, I love the mud, but it was a very nice break! It also had some nice power sections- including one nice sized hill followed by a screaming downhill (I topped out at around 25.5mph a couple of times) which claimed more than one rider in our race, including Ryan.

I decided I’d try to pace myself since this race would be my longest effort on a CX course. It worked well. I took the women’s lead from the start and never looked back. I also began picking off some of the men and ended up sitting in 5th place with a couple of laps to go. Ryan was catching up to me after wrecking early on the decent, and I wanted to hold him off, so I took a risk around a hard right turn early in the lap and managed to burp my front tubeless tire, lost traction, and fell down. I tried to hop up and keep the pressure on, but the next turn resulted in another burp. With ~10psi, I was able to ride straight, but had to baby my bike through every turn. Ryan passed me just before I got to the pits. Luckily, I’d brought my Air9 along and put it in the pit “just in case.” I finished my last lap and a half on it (and also realized how badly the fit it off on it- I’ve got a setback seatpost and longer stem on the way… hopefully they’ll be in before the Lock 4 six hour race next weekend!)

So, I ended up winning the women’s race and finishing 6th against the guys. Not bad… I’m hoping that today, I don’t have any tire issues so I can keep the pressure on.

Niner Air9… more photos, first ride

Got in about 10 miles at Stanky Creek this afternoon. First impression- I NEVER want to ride a 26″ bike again. After several laps on the same trails on a borrowed bike ( 12 hours of Stank), I realized today hom much nicer it is to have the big wheels. It’s kinda like free speed.
As for the frame itself. It’s pretty awesome. The hardtail will take a bit of getting used to. I think that higher volume tires may be in order. It feels pretty amazing going uphill. I had to keep reminding myself that I have cyclocross racing to do tomorrow because it was pretty tempting to hammer through everything.

This weekend, Ryan and I are going to the McEwen Cyclocross Festival. He’s coming back to Memphis for his team’s end-of-the-year party, and I’m sticking around the race venue for some MTB riding and camping. I can’t pass up the chance to ride some new trails on my new bike when the weather is supposed to be awesome!

Anyway… here’s a gallery of some nicer photos (click to enlarge)

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Cross the Way Cyclocross #4

Sunday’s report should actually begin on Saturday night… we went out for dinner and (multiple) drinks with some Nashville friends. If it’s any indication as to just how many drinks… we ended up at the Waffle House next to the hotel eating waffles and hash browns at sometime around midnight.

Sunday morning, I felt like I’d been run over by a bus (Ryan, on the other hand, was fine… he’d laid off quite a bit since he was the DD the previous night). I rolled around in bed with a nauseous headache. I eventually managed to choke down a slice of bread, some ginger ale, and two asprin. Miraculously, after napping for another 30 minutes, I started to come around. As I packed my bags and got ready, I pounded cups of watered-down hotel coffee and a couple of bottles of water spiked with Elete electrolyte drops, wondering how my 11:45 race would go…

Like several of the other races we’ve been to this season, Sunday’s weather was gorgeous compared to Saturday. The ground had dried out a little, though the parts of the course that had been sloppy the day before were still pretty bad. The mud was vaguely like the infamous Dirt, Sweat, and Gears nightmare mud… it was sticking to everything and mixing with grass. While I was getting ready for my race, I saw no fewer than three broken derailleurs.

A couple more cups of coffee and one asprin later, I was dressed and warming up. Though I was tired, somehow I didn’t feel too bad otherwise. Luckily the girl that thrashed me on Saturday didn’t show back up, though Troy Tucker’s wife Becky was there… she claimed to be out of shape because she’d just had a kid, but based on past expereinces with moms on bikes, I was only halfway believing her.
We lined up with four cat3 men. I got off to a somewhat slow start, but got a little faster with each lap. I steadily increased my lead over Becky and began reeling in the men that had jumped ahead of me at the beginning of the race. On the last lap, I caught up to 2nd place (the 1st place guy was running lap times that would have made him competitive in the 1/2 field). I was able to pass him to the inside on the final turn, lining us up for a heads-up sprint to the finish. Unfortunately, I wound it up a little early and he ended up taking 2nd by about a bike length.

Oh well… the points I scored put me in the lead for the CX BAR points. I’m hoping to extend that further this weekend at the McEwen/Hoss of Cross race. It’s going to be close considering how many races (including the State Championship) are taking place over in Northeast Tennessee- about an 8 hour drive from Memphis.

Cross the Way Race #3

This weekend found us in Nashville, TN for races #3 and 4 of the ongoing Cross the Way series.

On Saturday, we arrived to a soggy course. It had rained for about 12 or the previous 24 hours, so the mud was fierce. It’s OK, though… I like mud. Once again, only one other woman showed for the 1/2/3 race. It was Ashley James, a strong collegiate rider from my previous team- Team Kenda Tire. She finished several places ahead of me at USGP the follwoing weekend, but I was hoping that my mud-wrangling abilities would play to my favor this weekend.

When the race started, I took the lead through the sloppy/of camber section. Soon after, we went into the woods, down a large hill, then up a really steep, chunky run-up. I was feeling hopeful until the next section- a loooooong, slick drag of a hill. With my 40T single chainring, I found myself overgeared. She spun past me while I was grinding at somewhere around 40rpms…

No excuses, though. I’m pretty sure that even if I’d had better gearing, should still would have taken me out at that point.

Following the hill, the course went back through some hairpins and more mud. For the first two laps, I was able to sucessfully close the gap between the two of us in that part of the course, but the 3rd & 4th times up the hill were to be my downfall. I was toast.

Being Halloween, I almost rode in costume, but then decided that I’d go partial costume for the race, then change into the rest of it afterward. There were some good ones…

Taking a beer handup
Taking a beer handup
On the 3rd lap, I decided to cut my losses and get a mud dollar from the hecklers
On the 3rd lap, I decided to cut my losses and get a mud dollar from the hecklers
mino
Minotaur
marsha
Dirty Schoolgirl
granny
Granny
Yes, I was a little bit cold...
Yes, I was a little bit cold...
shaggy
Shaggy
troy
Not really sure what Troy Tucker is... other than fast