Need Road Trip Guidance!

I’m currently on Spring Break and would like to make the most of it training-wise, though it looks like the weather may have other plans:

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I’d like to make a road trip to do some climbing, but the weather system pictured above is trying to prevent me from doing so. I’m debating as to what I want to do. I’d like to leave Friday morning, drive 6 hours or less, ride, camp Friday night, then ride Saturday morning before returning home. Chances of precip are lower if I go West towards Mt. Magazine or someplace like that, but there’s always the option of heading more to the southeast, depending on the direction that the front goes (it’s heading straight to the northeast right now, so areas like Birmingham could possibly get missed).

Any suggestions from the readers? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Verminator

When I got home from running some errands, I let the dogs out. When I called them back in, Indy was in the corner of the yard digging furiously. I figured since he enjoys that type of thing and there’s absolutely nothing planted back there that I’d just let him have at it and wear himself out.

I guess he was looking for a midday snack…

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He actually just gnawed on its feet & head a little bit then seemed to lose interest. I’m not sure I would have let him devour the entire thing since he’s kinda new to the non-kibble thing and most advice I’ve seen says to take it slow.

Happy Dogs!

After hours of research and reading, I decided that I’d switch my dogs from commercial kibble to a prey-model raw diet. Last night, I went to the store to get a couple of week’s worth of chicken- the meat of choice for starting dogs on raw food. They were very curious as to what I was doing when I was cutting it up/packing it into ziptop bags last night. Since I eat a vegetarian diet, It’s been a long time since they’ve actually smelled raw meat, and it definately got their attention more than tofu and lettuce…

The prep is something I’ll get used to. It took a little while, and I was careful to sanitize my countertops afterward (while dogs can easily digest the bacteria in fresh, raw meat, it’s not so kind to us humans). I portioned everything by weight using a kitchen scale- Turbo gets ~12-14oz and Indy somewhere in the neighborhood of 4oz. Then, I put most of it in the bottom drawer of the freezer, leaving a couple of bags in a tray in the bottom of the fridge door to stay unfrozen for breakfast.

This morning, I was curious to see how the dogs would react- apparently, some dogs have no idea what to do with a chunk of raw, bony meat. However, these two did not dissapoint- they ran in and started muching away like a couple of wolves! Turbo, who normally inhales kibble, crunched her way slowly through a chicken thigh and a wing while Indy attempted to take his single wing out of the laundry room (probably to the carpet). When I didn’t let him, he went back to the spot near his bowl, dropped it on the floor, and started to crunch away. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. Here’s Turbo polishing off her chicken wing:

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Rouge Roubaix- The Report

5:45am
Being the French press snobs that we are, Ryan and I brewed a batch and headed to the breakfast area of the hotel. Good thing, too, because they were out of everything but decaf and didn’t seem to feel the need to make more. I had some Kashi hot cereal with whey protein and a cup of yogurt w/a spoonful of peanut butter. It’s a really good pre-ride breakfast because it’ll stick with you a few hours!

7:15am
Take my bike to the mechanic to get a once-over on the shifting. It wasn’t wanting to get into the lowest gear… which I’d need later in the day. Turns out the new DR hanger was not straight, but he used his 3lite mechanic skills to eyeball adjust it and get the low gear working.

7:45am
When I get changed and try to clip in, I find that my right cleat is stuck open. Most likely due to standing around in the gravel waiting for one of Ryan’s teammates to change a flat during our pre-ride. Speedplay cleats are notorious cloggers. So, I headed back over to see the mechanic. He took my shoe, and in the process of trying to straighten the spring out, it broke! I did NOT bring a spare (bad on me :( )

8:00am
As the “A” race is pulling out of the parking lot, I’m installing some Time pedals on my bike while the mechnic is installing his cleats on my shoes.

8:15am GO!!!

The race was a blast. The first 25 miles was somewhat of a relaxed pace. Everyone jockeyed for good position going into the first gravel section, and Shannon, Ashley, Whitney, Casey and I all hit the rocks in good form. Watching Casey tear it up through the dirt was fun- I’d been a little worried about her when she mentioned a couple of weeks earlier at VOS that she didn’t have much off-pavement experience. You couldn’t tell today… she was hauling all sorts of ass!

After we emerged from the first 8 miles of gravel, the guys in the pack started getting pissy. Apparently, a few people had gotten away early, and they were whining to each other that noone would help the chase. They even started whining that they were “giving the ladies a free ride.” I told them that if there was a woman up the road that we would have already chased it down and countered. Then they tried lying to us and telling us that there was a woman in the break… um, yeah… that’s pretty pathetic. Even worse- at one point, Tim Moore from Memphis Velo went for a bridge. NO ONE responded. Shannon took the opportunity to bust out of the group and bridge to Tim, and someone yelled, “We’re all about to get chicked!!” and she was immediately chased down. Seriously, guys?? Really?!?

I digress.

The second gravel section came at about 65 miles into the course. This one was short, but had a steep, nasty hill (it was the part we pre-rode the day before). The pack was shattered. Casey and Ashley stayed with the riders in front and the rest of us were spread out down the road. Once we hit pavement again, I worked with another woman to catch up with Whitney. Whitney and I made the executive decision that it was probably not in our best interest to chase the lead group down since we had another woman in tow (with others gathering behind us).

Eventually the chase group came together behind us (as well as Shannon). The guys wanted to go… and actually looked motivated this time. I sprung into action… my strategy at first was to use non-traditional chase-disruption tactics- I began to make small talk with the guy up front who was driving the pace. I asked him where he was from (New York!), commented on the weather, told him about the snow in Memphis and how people couldn’t drive in it… we spent a solid 3 or 4 minutes chatting at the front of the paceline… going 18-19 mph! Of course, the guys behind us eventually called me out for flirting and came around me. I sat in on their rotation and was generally unhelpful. They got more annoyed and made the mistake of hanging me out to dry in the headwind on the front. This is what I live for! I sat up there and held a pace just under my FTP (thank you, powermeter!) for a loooong time. It was just fast enough that none of them wanted a piece of the wind. The break was safe.

The third gravel section was my favorite as far as road surface. It was slightly more hardpack dirt rather than slippery sand/rock, so the hill, though steeper, was less stall-worthy than the previous. Even though I was pretty tired from the wind, I ended up being one of the first few up the hill after Whitney, Shannon, and the other woman who had been chasing with me after the 2nd section. I was with a couple of other riders about 50 meters behind Shannon when we got out of the gravel. We started to chase, but soon after the guy next to me got squirrelly just before a bridge at the bottom of a descent. There was a big pothole just in front of the bridge- it was either hit him or the hole, and I chose the latter.

BAM! Double pinch flats. Front and rear rims were on the ground before I got across the bridge. I rolled up to a fork in the road, got off my bike, and got to work (luckily I’d brought two tubes/CO2s). While I sat there changing tubes, people passed in little groups. I got everything back together about two minutes after a group with a couple of other women passed by. After getting the blood flow back to my legs, I started to chase.

By mile 99, I’d caught up to them and was sitting about 15 meters behind them. They were chatting and casually pedaling at around 16-17mph. I decided I’d try to catch my breath then attack around them without letting them grab my wheel. Of course, as soon they saw me, they started with that “UP UP!” shiz… I’m not sure if it was them or the guy with them, but they found the energy to grab my wheel. I went to pull through and they stayed on my wheel until I slowed to almost a crawl. When we approached the finish, I had nothing… they sprinted up the last hill ahead of me and took 7th and 8th place. It’s OK. They didn’t have any teammates that kicked a metric crap-ton of butt! Casey not only won the women’s race, she was 3rd OVERALL for everyone in the B race. Ashley was 2nd, Whitney was 4th, and Shannon was 5th.

The guys were the same story- Christian was 1st and Andrew D. was 2nd.

WOOHA! Hopefully I’ll find some photos soon. There was also a guy with a helmet cam. Hopefully his youtube videos will surface soon.

Rouge Roubaix PreRide

Today Ryan, Frogge, and I drove down South to St. Francisville, LA. Along the way, we stopped in Woodville and rode out to the 2nd of three gravel sections on the 100 something mile course. I’m glad we had the chance… the lead-in from the main road to the gravel featured a short but uber-sketchy plank bridge that could easily catch a wheel and thrown you to the ground (or off the side of the bridge) if you didn’t stay in the middle. The gravel itself is unlike any other I’ve ridden- rather than being hardpack dirt with rocks on top, it was a mix of small rocks and loose, sandy silt that’s randomly shallow and deep. Tough stuff, but it should be pretty fun.

The rest of the team drove in from Dallas yesterday, so they went for a ride earlier in the day. When we got to the hotel, everyone had just come back from dinner, so I left my bike with the team mechanic and went with Ryan & the other Memphis Velo guys to the Magnolia Cafe for dinner. When I got back to the room, Casey and Whitney filled me in on the tactical details for tomorrow’s epic… time to polish the bike and pic numbers!

On the road

Got the BH out on the road today! I went out for a windy 2.5 hours (I spent most of the time going either 25+ mph or 16mph) out to test my new Conti Gatorskins on a short stretch of gravel out east of Eads. I really like the 25c tire size- it does a lot to smooth out some of the rougher road surfaces. While I was out, I fiddled with the saddle enough to get it into much more comfortable position than I had at VOS. I’m still doubtful that it’s going to be comfortable for more than half of the race on Sunday, but I’m hopeful that I’ll at least avoid the knee pain that I’d had before.

Tomorrow Ryan, Frogge, and I are leaving early to drive down to Loiusiana and pre ride a bit of the Rouge Roubaix course. The elevation charts for the race look like lots of “fun.” It’s got some stretches of gravel road and a couple of hills with grades over 15%. Looks like it’ll be warm, too. I like the gravel and heat… hills, not so much, but it’s aight…

Ryan posted some maps/elevation charts on his blog

Finally…

Yesterday I finally liberated my BH from the clutches of FedEx. I wanted to get it put together and go for a quick ride, but FedEx got the last laugh… as I started to screw the rear derailleur on, the hanger broke off! Apparently it cracked during shipment (not surprising- it was handled roughly enough that the driveside pedal had broken its way out of the box).

I called around to shops in town, and noone carries a BH hanger. I talked to Boss Man in Dallas, and he said things were too hectic there to get to a post office and overnight one to me. CRAP!!! The last thing I wanted was to not be able to ride my bike around a few times to get the fit just right BEFORE racing 100 miles on Sunday. Last time at VOS, that same thing led me to some pretty ishtty knee pain when I didn’t get it set up exactly right before the race. Not a big deal for relatively short races, but the same pain over 100 miles… not something I’m willing to tolerate!

I digress… Ryan and I started checking all of the bikes in the house to see if we could make something work. The hanger off of his Kuota Kebel actually looked like a close match. It went on, but only one of the screws would line up with the holes in the frame, so as of right now, my rear DR is being held on with one tiny screw, the pressure generated by the QR skewer, and a couple of prayers to various deities.

After figuring that out, it was too late to ride. I figured I’d go ahead and work on swapping out my handlebars. I’m not sure which model was on there, but I like the feel of a compact bar, so I swapped them out for a set of FSA Omega Compact bars. After I got everything set up just right, I took it out for a spin up & down the street…

Sweet nectar, that bike is soooooooo nice! It was a bit late, so I snapped a couple of photos in the garage. I’m sure I’ll get more this weekend.

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Oh yeah, and I got some brand new team kit, too! Hincapie clothing is freaking AWESOME! It all fits perfectly! My arms are stupidly long, and the long sleeve stuff/arm warmers are very accomodating to this. I also have found that a lot of women’s jerseys are too short… not a problem with this stuff. I can’t wait to get it out on the street!

BH Update!

Well, while I was out suffering in the cold on Saturday, FedEx Home Delivery attempted to deliver my team bike. When I found the tag on the door, I called them up to see if I could go get my package. Turns out that since it was “after hours” when I called that I’d have to wait until Tuesday before I could get it. So I’m heading out to the FedEx place as soon as I get off of work tomorrow. I’ve got some FSA compact handlebars, fresh white Arundel tape, and a set of 25c Conti Gatorskins waiting patiently for its arrival.

Maybe I’ll have some photos up in ~24hours…

Long Road Training Race. And some Snow.

Though the weather report was the opposite of what you’d like to hear for a race day, Ryan and I got up & went to the Marx & Bensdorf Long Road Training Race just north of Arlington. My race (Men 4, 5, masters, women, and juniors) started at 9:00 and went 6 laps on the 5 mile course. The temperature hovered in the upper 30s and the skies looked as if they’d start spitting at any time.

The starting line:
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I didn’t know a lot of the riders who were there, and I didn’t want to go easy off the line and get caught up in any sketchy riding, so when the official said go, I rolled down the first hill then maintained a steady pace up the next hill to the first turn. I glanced over my shoulder and chuckled a little- I had rolled off the front of the pack and had a cute little gap going. I figured I’d roll with it since, even though I was destined to be caught, the process of chasing would drop a nice portion of the 30 starters. A few miles later, on a rolling section of tailwind, I looked back to see the field closing in. I sat up to catch my breath and positioned myself near the front of the pack as they came by. Lap 2 and 3 were reletively uneventful. Here I am doing my best Jens Voigt impersonation up the hill and through the start/finish area (the pace had slowed too much on the hill, and I didn’t want anyone to catch back on…)
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Johnny Mac from Marx & Bensdorf looks like he’s the only one enjoying the free ride!

Somewhere on lap 4 is where the break occured. I’m not really sure how I missed it, but it was a bad move on my part to not get in it, because it ended up staying away.

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Since I used to ride with Memphis Velo and am good friends with some of the guys, I figured I’d help them with a little pace control since they had someone in the break. It was nice training. On the final finishing strech, the pack started to get jumpy. Not wanting to get caught up in a hairy pack sprint for 4th place, I bailed out! It’s not normal behavior for me, but a field sprint in an early season training race isn’t worth bumping elbows over. Maybe I’m getting old…

After grabbing a snack, I headed out for some more riding, but ended up not getting more than one extra lap because my hands froze up. Damn. I needed the distance, but I’d rather ride the trainer than go through the pain of circulation loss, so I called it a day and retreated to the warmth of the car.

Ryan’s race started soon after. There were only 9 starters:
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Read his blog for a race report. Afterward, a group of us went to Mezcal in Arlington for some lunch and beer (though I behaved myself and only had lunch). While we were there, the sleet started. By the time we reached our house, a solid inch of snow had fallen.

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Here are some shots from the back yard:

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As of right now, the snow has blanketed the entire front yard, and is still falling. I hate snow! I want to go for a long ride tomorrow, so the snow needs to disappear overnight, mmmk?