Spot Rocker- the 2017 Race Machine

And now, for something completely different…

If you listen to JRA, just scroll on down to the pics, because you know the rest already.

In the not-too-distant past, I received an out-of-the-blue Facebook message from Mitch, the Manager of Team Gates Carbon Drive. He wanted to know if I’d be interested in joining, we discussed some specifics, and I said something along the lines of “f*ckyeah, let’s do this.”

If you have been following since the beginning, you know I’ve worked really freaking hard to reach out to sponsors and potential sponsors and, more often than not, get rejected or not even answered. I did get some really solid, long-standing support from the likes of Gu and Industry Nine, but was generally pretty burnt out on the whole process. So, for someone to actually take notice of my race results last year and reach out for this season with some really excellent team support literally brought me to tears.

Last week, I put the finishing touches on the build up of my Spot Rocker singlespeed (of course, it snowed 10″ immediately after, so I’ve only ridden it once). Today, I finally got around to taking some nice photos…

It’s steel, belt-drive, RS-1, and Quarq equipped. It’s a bike with as many personalities as the weather in Colorado.

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Gotta fly the WC Rainbow seat pack as a nod to winning Breck Epic that one time.

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Level Ultimate Brakes and a Whisky Parts Co flat bar… that sucker comes stock at 840mm wide. I chopped it to 730.

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-I’m missing my I9 hubs. They have not been granted access to SRAM’s Predictive Steering hub, though, and mismatching would make me itchy.

The maiden voyage was pretty great. Belt drive is super quiet and smooth, and the belt-compatible frames have to be extra stiff in the bottom bracket & chainstays because flex will derail your belt. The result is a metal frame that pedals like its made of carbon. The chainstays on this particular frame are also super short- something I’d never experienced in a frame. It makes it way boost-ier and fun.

I am going to withhold totally gushing over the RS-1 right away, but will say I was incredibly happy with it on ride #1. I want to try it on the 429 since I’m more familiar with that frame, and that will give me some back to back comparison against a Pike.

Next race is Battle the Bear on the 13th. Since I’m a little more concerned with being ready(ish) for Gunnison Growler not long after that, I’m going to train right on through it rather than tapering back for it. I’ve heard that one’s a beast!

Boulder Running Adventures

When  I first started working in Boulder, I made the climb up Flagstaff Road a somewhat regular part of my training. It’s literally right outside the door of the shop, so it’s a good pre-work leg burner. I couldn’t help but notice on the way up that there’s a trail that crosses the road in various places. It looked somewhat gnarly, so I was intrigued. However, all of the signs say “No Bikes.” So, I took to two feet and started exploring.

Holy wow.

I’d had no idea that there was an entire trail system up/around/over the Flatirons. And the “No Bikes” thing? Unfortunately, a lot of the trails in Boulder are closed to bikes. However, you really wouldn’t want to ride a bike on large portions of the trails.

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Ok, now that I look at those pictures again, maybe they’re the “perfect” trails to ride down (pictures always reduce steepness by 10% of the grade), but there are a multitude of straight up/down rock steps with tight switchbacks and whatnot. You’d never go up any of the trails, and people would literally die trying to go down.

The ruggedness makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I started with small run/hikes up and around the Flatirons and corresponding peaks. Green Mountain is the easiest and closest to where I park at Chatauqua, so it was the first route I came up with. This picture is from an intersection near the top at the exact moment I started wondering “when TF am I going to be at the top?”

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Not long after, I visited the 1st/2nd Flatirons trail, which is a shorter, but no less steep climb. With a short scramble, you can sit on top of the first Flatiron (the one in the background is the 3rd, I think).

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I started to get a little brave and made a bigger loop out to Bear Peak… slightly larger than Green Mountain, and a significantly longer run. The last hard climb before the top goes though a burned area and can be demoralizing if you don’t like seeing what sort of challenge is ahead of you.

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At the top, you have the choice of scrambling to the summit, going down the Fern Canyon Trail (The descent down Fern Canyon is the right amount of dangerous, if you’re trying to go fast), or continuing on to nearby South Boulder Peak. The top of Bear Peak has an amazing 360 view.

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East:

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South:

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North:

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West:

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Seeing the trail out to South Boulder Peak inspired a new personal challenge to myself. I wanted to run all three peaks before work the next Sunday. I called it Boulder Three the Hard Way.

Physical challenges are the high octane fuel to my motivation…

Up Green Mountian:

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At the top:

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Bear Peak:

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And off to tackle the out & back up South Boulder:

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I couldn’t find any survey markers or cool stuff up there, so here’s a weird iron thing driven into a rock-

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The run down Shadow Canyon from there was exhausting. It’s at 7.5 miles/8,500 feet of climbing in, so my legs were already pretty torn up. I made it down with no falls or rolled ankles and motored on to the return on the Mesa Trail… which is neither flat nor all downhill until you’re at the last mile.

Here’s the route/profile: https://www.strava.com/activities/760836310

Fourteen miles in 3:45 doesn’t sound that impressive until you start looking at the gain/loss on each climb and descent. Running downhill there is like its own lite version of parkour.

I’m hoping that my body holds up to the running enough that I can do it all Winter as an alternative to riding in the cold or on the trainer. I’m still having some pain from previous overuse injuries in my left knee and foot, but listening to my body and doing a lot of yoga and foam rolling seems to keep it relatively minor. This Saturday will be a good test… I’m going to go out and try a self-supported trail marathon. It’ll be scenic, if nothing else.

Racing and Stuff

Jeez, it’s been two Winter Parks ago since I posted…

I’ve continued my trend of fun-rides and it’s worked out pretty well. Winter Park #4 was part of the Colorado Freeride Festival, so, unbeknownst to me, they offered a decent prize purse to the Pro racers. Even though some bigger hammers than usual showed up, I still could have finished in the money. Oh, Well…  I still picked up the SS win.
#4 was also my vain attempt at riding back to Lakewood from Winter Park. I’d planned accordingly with the exception of actually paying attention to the fact that finish times for that course were a full hour longer than the previous courses. I started up Corona Pass far too late in the day to make it through White Ranch before the sun started to set (and the park would be closed), so I ended up turning back just a few miles in to the ride. I decided that the only WPXC race with the right combination of “late enough that the snow has melted” and “early enough for the most daylight” is #3- the Race Rendezvous course.

Winter Park #5 was definitely the best course of all the courses. It was Point-to-Point style, starting in the ski area, and ending somewhere in the mountains west of Fraser. It was mostly singletrack, and played well to someone with both lots of fitness and very good bike handling skills. Even though I was singlespeed, I felt really good, so I took off after the Pro and Expert women up the first climb. After some jockeying for position in the first 5 miles, I was in 2nd place behind a young expert lady (who has been blasting everyone at a majority of the races. Despite my effort to try and chase her down, I never saw her, and I ended up 2nd overall, less than a minute ahead of Pro racer Kathy, who’d been chasing me all day. It was the perfect combination of course and fitness.

I discovered a new favorite (albeit too expensive to do often) recovery activity the Tuesday following the race when we went back to Winter Park with big bikes for some lift service riding. It’s like going to an amusement park, but with bikes and purpose-built downhill trails instead of sketchy-ass roller coasters assembled by carnies.

Somewhere woven in with all of that, I’ve been working my ass off. I did some mechanical support at Ironman Boulder. Triathletes are weird… it’s like a whole other sport that just happens to involve a bike. The bikes I saw were akin to a dog kept on a chain in the back yard- you definitely own it, but you don’t think about it much, and only really care for it enough to keep it alive.

The best part of the weekend was walking in to the shop tent and seeing another lady mechanic standing there. We shared a brief part of a second of surprise before getting to work fixing everyone’s clapped out stuff. Of course, I just took a picture of Knobby the dog, because that’s how I roll.

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Random bike…

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Also between races, I rode up to Squaw Pass. On the way down, I spotted a massive elk just chillin’ next to someone’s driveway just outside of Evergreen. If I had to guess, I’d say part of why he’s so large is because he terrorizes the local gardens. He also wasn’t very afraid of me. As someone highly wary of moose, I wasn’t very comfortable getting any closer than “across the road.” I don’t know how aggressive elk are, though I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of one trampling anyone. Better safe than sorry, right?

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With one more Winter Park XC left, I’m going to switch it up a little for the final race (where there is, once again, some $$ available for the Pros). I’m going to put the Mach 429sl into XC mode with my carbon wheels and SID World Cup fork (it currently rolls on a Pike, because the Pike is awesome) in hopes of taking home a little cash. We’ll see how it all shakes out. My work/commute to Boulder has me pretty exhausted most of the time, so I’ve had to really make time to get a hard effort or two in before the work day.

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At least I work right at the base of a kickass climb up Flagstaff.

If all goes according to plan, this weekend after WP#6, I’ll go to the podium party then ride off in to the woods for an overnight adventure with my (former) coworker Amanda, Indy wrangler and bikepacker extraordinaire.

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Winter Park #2- Cross Country Super Loop

Saturday may just be the hardest I’ve ever raced an XC course. I remembered from last year that there were a few spots that I refer to as “singlespeed purgatory.” They’re one(ish) mile stretches of forest road that are nearly flat/slightly downhill- basically, places where singlespeeders will get swamped by geared riders between the singletrack that the road connects. If you look at the elevation profile on Strava, you can see them very clearly.

Go ahead. Look. The race report will make more sense that way.

My goal of this race was to go harder than I thought I could go and find out just how deep my fitness went. So, I warmed up for a while- riding a quick loop of the first climb/descent and eating some Roctane gel a few minutes before I lined up. I think my heart was pounding harder waiting for the race to start than it had the whole time I was warming up.

We started at the bottom of the ski hill, just like the hill climb. The course made its way up 450ft of gain in one mile up the ski hill road before turning on to singletrack, then quickly descending to singlespeed purgatory #1. The race started. I went H.A.M. After 8-ish minutes, I went in to the singletrack just a few bike lengths behind another woman. Thanks to my pre-riding, I caught her after just a few techy turns of descending.  I hauled ass down to the first purgatory, where, about halfway through, I was swamped by Yeti Beti pro Natalie Raborn.

Luckily, she didn’t put so much time in to me that I couldn’t catch her on the next singletrack descent. It was short, but took us in to one of the more techy spots, full of wet rocks and roots. She let me by when she had to foot-down a big, slimy rock when I was right behind her. I did my best to settle in and float through the next few miles of rolling descent.

From about miles 5 to 11, the course mostly climbed, with the exception of purgatory #2 from miles 8 to 9. I didn’t see or hear anyone until I was well in to that flat part, where I was promptly swamped by two pros and one expert racer. I was somewhat frustrated and feeling a little blown up from my starting effort, but I did what I could- eating more Roctane, drinking, and spinning as hard as I could between gulps.

I managed to keep one woman in sight and started to catch up to her on a section of trail (“Upper Chickadee”) that was new to the course (a re-route since a creek crossing in the original course was too high). It was a climby section of bench trail in some pretty tight trees. I felt right at home, and my comfort rewarded me with having the other women in sight when we dumped on to another forest road before the final steep climb of the day.

On that little bit of forest road climbing, I felt like I was at a standstill. I wasn’t gaining any ground, but I definitely wasn’t losing it. Then, at mile 11, we turned on to a climb called “Lonesome Whistle”- a super steep double track. Lucky for me, the little bit of rain the day before made it slightly less loose. I swamped the three women who’d passed me on purgatory #2.

Then came the dig. I didn’t know exactly what the rest of the course was, but I did know that I was at 1:08 in, and at the highest point. That meant that it was biased downhill for another 20-30 minutes to the finish. With purgatory #3 (a repeat of #1) in there, I knew I’d have to ride as brakeless as possible to put a sizeable gap between me and the racers just behind me and avoid another swamping where it was flat.

I hammered it as if it was the only part of the course I’d done that day. My right quad threatened cramps several times. I caught and passed several of the 50+ expert men that had started ahead of us. All of them were quick to give me room when I told them I was leading the women’s race (thanks for that, guys). If it was uphill, I was stand-hammering. If it was downhill, I was taking chances through the rocks and tight trees.

Then, the terrible, awful mile of flat forest road. I wish I still had a powermeter so I could see what sort of average cadence I was doing for that four minutes. It was like being in a nightmare where you’re trying to run from a monster/serial killer/tornado, but your body is stuck in molasses. I kept hugging the edges of the road, hoping to cut precious feet off of the curves and stay out of sight if at all possible.

I never saw anyone behind me as I went in to the last singletrack. It was another little bit of slimy, rocky/rooty mud and tech, which I rode through with smooth reckless abandon before it kicked out on to the last quarter mile of flat road to the finish. No one caught me. The next woman (an 18-year-old expert racer) finished just 30 seconds later, followed by the first pro woman 30 seconds after that. (you can see all the results HERE)

Holy Crap.

If I hadn’t ridden my a$$ off in that last 6 miles, I would have been toast. I felt like falling down at the finish line. I found some shade and just sat and stared off in to space for a good 15 minutes.

I did manage to rally for the Singlespeed podium (no mention of the overall at the podium ceremony, but whatevs).

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The next race is a couple of weeks away. It’s the “Rendezvous” course, which was my favorite last year and is waaaaay better for singlespeeding. Yesterday, I rode Super Walker before work to get a little overload on top of Saturday’s effort (spoiler alert- I bought a ticket for the Strugglebus… non-stop service to Struggletopia). I’ll probably do an endurance-paced longer ride on Tuesday and a short track race on Wednesday before backing off and recovering again for the next XC installment. It hurts, but the speed is totally worth it.

 

Beti Bike Bash

My participation in the Beti Bike Bash marks my one year of racing in Colorado. Last year, I’d been reminded the day before the race that it was happening, and there was a singlespeed category. I’d gone in to it with no expectations and was extraordinarily surprised when I won against a relatively large group of singlespeeders (race report HERE).

This year, I felt far more prepared. I ran the same gear (34×21). Even though I’m a few watts faster, I remember it being just right- meaning that by the last lap, I was contemplating walking one or two spots on the course. The course itself is excellent for singlespeeding. It’s basically up a punchy climb, across the top of a ridge, then down a flowy/pumptracky/kitty-littery descent.

Side note- I realize that some of you reading may not know exactly what I mean when I say “kitty litter.” Imagine if you covered a concrete surface with kitty litter. It’s like that. Not a lot of traction.

Also noteworthy of my bike setup- Shimano warrantied a pair of XTR brakes for me last week. I installed the new brakes, rode them once around the park near my house, and, Saturday night before the race, the rear one puked mineral oil from the caliper on to my living room floor. By morning, the lever was mush, and I did a morning-of swap to a set of XT brakes off of Matt’s bike. Jeebus.

This year, an extra difficulty-factor was the heat. It was pretty damned hot out there- somewhere in the upper 90’s (some claimed 100). However, this is something I don’t mind at all. See, in Memphis, it’s the same temperature, but with very high humidity. I sweat a ton, and when there’s humidity, that sweat is just a useless loss of bodily water. When the humidity is literally single digits, all of that sweat evaporates, taking excess heat with it. So, as long as I was moving, I felt extremely comfortable. I will admit, though, as soon as I stopped, I felt like I was melting. The sun here is more intense than I can describe in words.

An extra ally in my heat protection was Matt. He came to the race with me and soldiered through the sun in the feed zone, dumping ice water down my back and handing up a bottle of cold water for my last lap. He was possibly more wrecked from race day than I was.

Back to the actual racing-

Because of the heat, participation in the race was down from last year. There were 15 pros (only 14 are listed in the results, but I saw at least one more walking in with a mechanical), 16 experts, and only two other singlespeeders. I went in with the goal of winning singlespeed and setting a time that’d be worthy of pro-level competition. We lined up last of the 3-lappers, and, when given the signal to start, I went for broke. When I made the turn in to the singletrack, I glanced back and saw that the other two ladies were waaaaaayyyy back. I put the hammer down with the intention of catching everyone ahead of me.

Because of the reduced participation, passing wasn’t quite as tedious as it was last year. Definitely still a thing, but not exhausting like before. I have an awesome Spurcycle bell, which is probably the most important piece of equipment on my bike. No racing singlespeeder should be without one.

I felt pretty amazing- uphill and downhill. Downhill, I’d still benefit from knowing the course a little better. There are a few off-camber/fall off the hill spots where I wasn’t smooth on any lap. Unlike last year, though, I could catch/drop other riders on the downhills. I found the edge of traction several times- your front tire makes a very distinct sliding noise on that surface, and I heard it more than once.

The end of the first lap came up so fast that I surprised myself. It was slightly less than half an hour. I couldn’t remember my exact time from last year, but I knew I was faster. Matt dumped what felt like a gallon of ice water over my back, and I soft pedaled for a few seconds to down some Roctane gel.

Side note- I opted to wear baggy shorts and my favorite tank top from the guy’s section of Target. It was wonderfully breezy, and allowed for the stowage of a gel flask in my cleavage pocket. The cleavage pocket is way easier to use than a back pocket, and, well… they’ve gotta be good for something.

On the second lap, my goal was to find the line between settling in but not going slower than I needed to go. I could feel a twinge of fatigue, but only if I thought about it. So, I didn’t, and I turned another lap in slightly less than 30 minutes. Matt dumped at least two gallons of ice water on me in the feed zone. It was so cold that I lost my train of thought and put a foot down to swap bottles instead of doing the super-pro throw/handup thing.

I charged the last lap hard. I still felt awesome, but I knew by the last climb that I had been riding outside of myself because my right quad started to cramp a little. Perfect timing. I’d never been so happy in my life to have a muscle cramp.

The result?

Singlespeed Winner, Faster than all the experts, and a time that would have placed me in 8th in the Pro category. I went 1:27:54. For reference, last year was a hair over 1:40. I took a little over 12 minutes off of my time.

Hell. Yes.

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So now it’s rest up for next weekend’s Winter Park XC Superloop race. I’m going to keep the harder gear on my bike. I remember from last year that the Superloop was a very un-super singlespeed course because of some flat sections. I’m hoping that with my extra fitness that I can push the harder gear for the rest of the summer.

Mountain Ramblings

I almost don’t know what to write here.

Seriously… I’m constantly coming up with all of these deep thoughts and ruminations while I’m either driving to work or riding the trainer, then I finally get a spare hour to type them all out and I’m like, “uhhhhh… I’ll just post a bunch of cool photos from my phone.”

I wanted to write something deep about mountains, motivation, occasional depression, and my impending 35th birthday, but it’s hard to figure out how to combine them all in to one coherent post. I had it all figured out in a series of morning commutes to Boulder, but now the organization escapes me.

I spend a majority of my commute time on CO Highway 93. It parallels the Foothills between Golden and Boulder, and runs on the top of a mesa a few hundred feet above the surrounding cities, so the view is one of the most spectacular ones you could ask for on a commute. It’s a constant reminder of my time in the mountains last summer. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to repeat at least a few of those adventures this summer and maybe add a couple more to my memories.
I think anyone who reads my blog can relate, but seeking out things in nature that leave me awe-struck is like an addiction… looking for awesome moments. And, I don’t mean “awesome” like in a Ninja Turtles/Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure sort of way… I’m talking like the dictionary definition sort of awesome.

awe·some
/?ôs?m/
adjective
extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.
“the awesome power of the atomic bomb”
…Like the time I narrowly escaped a lightning storm on Rollins Pass, or when I went up Kingston Peak and discovered wind that picked my bike up off of the ground while I was trying to hike-a-bike. They’re those times when you realize that there are places where, as much as they’ll never admit to it, humans won’t permanently impose themselves into because Mother Nature is still in complete control.
I’ll go back up there at some point, but for now, my adventures stay close to home so I can take care of little Indy. He’s turning 16 just before I turn 35. He’s still truckin’ along, albeit he’s equally as blind as he is incontinent, and he’s all the way deaf. He seems content to stay in his pen in the yard when the weather is nice, but I never leave him for too long. He’s at close to half of my Instagram feed if you want to see his cute old man-ness.
The other half is fun and interesting things from the bike shop. Since we just had a spring snow storm, this weekend was renovation time. I got a new and improved work space.
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We’re finishing it up today. I’m pretty stoked.
Outside of snow days, my coworkers and a few dudes from the shop-sponsored team are doing Sunday morning Flagstaff rides from the shop. The climb up Flagstaff is wonderfully difficult. It’s steep and only gets steeper as you go up.
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The riding out of Boulder seems to be pretty amazing. I’ll probably end up with some good pre/post work/days off road miles from up there. As much as I hate to admit it, it’d be rad to live in Boulder. However, like most mountainside cities, the cost of living there is way higher than what your average service worker makes at her/his job. Matt wrote a really good post for Mountain Bike Radio just the other day about what mechanics are expected to know/do vs. what they’re paid: MBR Opinion-What’s your Bike Mechanic Worth?
It’s frustrating and a trigger of more than one depressive episode. How? I recently pulled a calf muscle. I’d love to go to a one of the kickass doctors and PTs in this area. However, I have high deductible insurance. So, while I won’t go broke with a $3500 maxiumum-out-of-pocket if I were to fall off a cliff tomorrow, I’m definitely not spending my savings on a “luxury” like seeing a doctor for a pulled muscle. Luxuries should be things like weekly sushi dinners, $7 chocolate bars, and occasionally buying paper towels at Whole Foods because you don’t want to make the extra stop at King Sooper’s. Instead, luxuries have become things like “medical care” and “being able to live within a 20-mile radius of my workplace.”
Ugh.
I won’t complain too much, because I am doing what I love, which is more than what I can say about a lot of people who live where they want, have super duper health insurance, and frivolously spend $20 on paper towels at Whole Foods. Most mornings, I’m pretty excited to go to work. I feel that that’s a pretty rare state for most people.
Speaking of the bike industry, if you follow my Twitter account, you may have seen the recent posts about #pulleygate. Basically, one of our JRA listeners figured out that SRAM Ceramic Hybrid derailleur pulleys only have one ceramic ball bearing in them. We found this to be humorous, because, let’s face it- that technically is a ceramic hybrid… just not in the form that 99.9% of consumers would expect.
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After a few posts, Ed Nasjleti from SRAM (who I’ve know from back in the Team Kenda Tire road racing days), hunted me down and called me at work to discuss #pulleygate. Turns out, the one ceramic ball and six steel ball model isn’t a consumer-deceiving ploy to save SRAM money on ceramic parts… it’s to give you the dirt-grinding advantage of ceramic combined with the less frequent maintenance schedule of steel. He saw my point, I saw his, and we spent another 25 minutes discussing other random and interesting bike tech. It’s always fun to talk to someone who has been in to bikes since before you learned to ride one.
Skipping back to the pulled calf muscle thing (I told you I wasn’t feeling the organization this morning)- That happened a few weeks ago at the gym. I basically overdid it a few days in a row. My left calf kept being sore (but just like “did a hard workout” sore) until it finally got “limping” sore and started to develop a lumpiness to it just behind the tibia. I’ve had to back off to no Muay Thai practice (since that’s mostly bouncing around on your toes), and technique-only drilling in Jiu-Jitsu. Because of that, I’m not going to compete in the May 14th State Championship tournament I’d planned on going to. I need to heal up and rehab it before I go tournament speed on it.
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It’ll be OK eventually. I’d just like to stop injuring the left side of my body, though. Two years ago it was my hamstring, now it’s the calf. I’m getting way too much experience with pulls and strains.
Despite the injury, bike training is still going pretty well (it doesn’t seem to bother the injury). I’m about to put the wraps on the eight week “General Build Plan” offered by TrainerRoad. I’ll re-test myself in a couple of weeks and figure out which “Specialty Phase” programs to use to peak for summer racing. I’m looking forward to smashing some singlespeed pedals in the near future.
P.S. I have no idea what sort of fuckery WordPress has done to make hitting the return key no longer put spaces between pictures and paragraphs. So, sorry this post looks like crap.

Winning at Bike Shop Roulette

As you may recall back in February, I was splitting time between two of the three Elevation Cycles locations- Downtown and Boulder (after being uprooted from the Highlands Ranch store by a coworker who was, to say the least, unfriendly). Not long after my schedule started creeping into being Boulder-heavy, it was announced that the next week (March 1st), the store sold to two new owners and would no longer be a part of Elevation Cycles.

Nick, the owner of Elevation, who I’d met at 24 Worlds just months before, gave me a choice of staying at the Denver/Highlands Ranch locations of Elevation, or “quitting” Elevation and starting at the new shop. Considering that my Boulder co-workers and I got along really well and the unfriendly coworker that I’d fled from was still working with no repercussions for his unfriendliness, the choice was pretty easy to make.

I don’t know that all of my Boulder co-workers were given the same option.

Anyways…

I’m incredibly happy with the people I work with. They all race bikes (and they’re all really good at it). They’re all incredibly nice/funny/fun to hang out with. I look forward to going to work in the mornings. The fact that they’re all good bike racers has provided me with renewed motivation to get out of “winter blues” shape and prep for a few local bike races this summer. I’ve been riding four days per week and lifting/doing super-power-yoga two days per week, along with my usual jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai classed at night.

Oh yeah- and the name of the new shop? Republic Cycles Boulder… a nod to the term “People’s Republic of Boulder” and “The Boulder Bubble.”

Part of my training plan is using the program TrainerRoad. Because of the limited time I have to ride, it’s a boon to my reclaiming of fitness. If you’ve never used it, and you aren’t afraid to ride indoors, I highly recommend it. It’s like having a coach, but for $8 a month. I know a lot of people who despise the trainer and get bored within 5 minutes. Those are usually the same people who hop on with no plan other than to watch a tv show or movie. If you use it as a hard/fast training tool, you won’t have time to be bored. Get on, warm up, do an interval workout, cool down… done. You’ve knocked out an hour to hour & a half before you realize it, and you’ve done something incredibly meaningful for your fitness.

That’s where I am now. I have added on some extra riding on Tuesdays and Saturdays (my days off). I was able to do a Saturday threshold workout on Lookout Mountain and last Tuesday, after I did my morning trainer intervals, took some out-of-town friends on a ride up and over Green Mountain. I’m looking to crush it at the Beti Bike Bash in June.

That’s the story for now. If you want little day-to-day snippets and pictures, listen to JRA and/or follow on Twitter & Instagram (links on the sidebar).

Edit to add- I’m gonna try Snapchat… I’m BrickhouseMTB on there if you swing that way…

Nailed It.

Yesterday turned out to be one of the best gym days I’ve had in a long time.

I started with Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai classes in the morning before going home to eat lunch and mentally prepare to go back to the gym and participate in the Competition Team tryouts. The only real information I’d received about what would go on during tryouts is that we’d have to run a mile(ish) in <7 minutes, that there would be more running on Green Mountain, more conditioning, and that the sparring to follow would be intense and long lasting.

I planned for it as if it were going to be a three hour cross country race. Since the 18 of us (me being the only lady) were to be outside on a mild 60 something degree day and inside with the heat on (for extra slipperiness), I packed a cooler with two bottles of Gu Roctane drink, two bottles of water, and a baggie full of Roctane Gels and chews.

First off was the run test. Everyone is required to be able to run four laps of the office complex in which the gym resides in under 7 minutes. I was able to pace myself really well, and I could tell that the trainer intervals and singlespeed laps up Lookout I’ve been doing on the bike paid off in dividends. My laps splits were super consistent, and my time was 6 minutes, 10 seconds, with energy to spare.

I downed half a bottle of Roctane while everyone was finishing up, and we continued our jog upwards towards Green Mountain. There, we did a couple of conditioning laps up a short hill and then moved onward to the final “outside” running test, which was three laps up a bigger, steeper hill to a telephone pole and back. I reverted back to my trail running days for this one… the first 100 yards or so was a gradual slope before the next 50-70 yards pitched up steeper. I jogged the lower half then powerwalked the steep part. I also had a pretty good edge at running downhill because I’ve had a lot of practice. Lap one… Everyone took off full gas. I was someplace in the middle of the group. By the end of Lap 2, I was persistence hunting the only two or three dudes ahead of me. I passed them someplace before the summit of Lap 3 and never looked back. Nick, the Coach who was directing the test, actually told me to go out for another lap because he thought I’d only done two. I asked him, “Oh, I thought it was just three. It’s Four?” It took him a fraction of a second to figure out that I’d caught the dudes he thought were leading the pack.

These dudes are legit. Even I was surprised by that one.

When we arrived back at the gym, I had a Roctane gel and most of a bottle of water. Next, we made a lap of a conditioning circuit- various exercises like battle ropes, tire jumps, agility ladders, and a heavy bag flip/drag. That was followed up by a partner drill. You paired up with someone similar to your size and had to shoot a double leg take down on them, but, instead of taking them down, pick them up over your shoulder and run to the other end of the gym, set them down, shoot again/carry them back, and repeat 4 more times before switching places. I paired up with fighter Nicholas Clem. We beat everyone.

More gel, Roctane, and water, and it was time for the hard part… the Sparring.

I went two rounds with a couple of the guys and did pretty well. Then, Kirsten Runstrom, a really badass Muay Thai fighter/coach geared up, and we sparred a 5 minute round. That was, by far, the hardest 5 minutes of the day. She’s fast, accurate, and any time I’d drop a hand, she’d take full advantage of it and flurry me backwards across the full length of the short side of the gym. Her teep kicks to the body were vicious as well. I kept my shit together, though. I used some of the fakes and feigns we’ve been drilling in class (along with some head/body combos and angles that I learned back in Memphis) and landed a decent number of kicks and combinations. She was probably taking it easy on me.

Those three rounds were followed up by a Jiu Jitsu roll with another white belt (landed a triangle and a guillotine), then one more round of Muay Thai with Kirsten and one more round with a guy who is an excellent wrestler. I was holding my own with him standing, but had to play all defense once we went to the ground.

I should mention, I splurged on a new set of headgear, and it makes sparring feel like a very aggressive pillow fight.

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But wait, there’s more!

Everyone thought it was over, but we did one more bout of conditioning with several minutes of fast feet/sprawls/pushups. Then, we high-fived, bowed out, and ate cookies. Yeah… I made cookies for everyone.

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So, I’m on the competition team! First competition? One week from tryouts- Tournament of Champions 18. I signed up for the following divisions: White Belt BJJ 121-140, NoGi intermediate 121-140, and all weights/belts submission-only both Gi and NoGi.

The first two, I hope to do well. The two “all-belts/all-weights”, I hope to learn something. For my bike racing readers not privy to what that means, that’s basically like entering two “you versus other beginners” races and two “all categories race together” races.

I need to cut a very tiny amount of weight. The weigh-ins are Friday night. Since I started adding the intense bike workouts to my training, I’ve had a hard time keeping my weight up to its happy place of 142 pounds (I’ve been fluctuating around 141). To make sure I don’t have any sort of “oh sh*t” moment on weigh in day, I’m going to do a water-manipulation cut only… basically, while maintaining the same normal eating routine (minus the cookies, maybe), I’ll overhydrate for a few days in order to stimulate aldosterone hormone production by my body, then Thursday and Friday, cut water consumption way back. The elevated aldosterone level will make my kidneys continue to remove extra water from my blood during the time that I’m not drinking a lot of water. Friday morning, I’ll figure out if I need to leave work early to ride the trainer for a hot minute to sweat anything off before weigh-ins. My guess is that I won’t need to. My weight has been very willing to stay off as of late. By not changing anything about my normal eating habits, my energy level and mood should remain intact.

I’m stoked. The Competition Team is like a family. It’s a really great, talented, and supportive group of people to work with, and we all want to see each other succeed.

 

Ode to the Surly Crosscheck

Hop in your way-back machine and set it for the Fall of 2008. I was in the process of changing road teams (from Kenda to Metro Volkswagen), and I decided that I wanted to race a little cyclocross, but that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a bike, AND I wanted something that could be flipped between fixed gear and singlespeed. So, I went to Bikes Plus in Germantown and got this:

I ran it fixed gear for a hot minute before I realized that riding a fixed gear sucks ass.

Soon after, I decided that I wanted to race a gravel grinder (way before they were as popular as they are now). I set it up 1×9 with some old Shimano stuff we had laying around the house. Before you say anything… I’m not really sure what was up with that stem. It was definitely before I understood the concept of “stack and reach,” and it also had a small-sized clamp, so I think I just wanted something longer than stock (TWSS), and that’s what was around the house.

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In case you were wondering, that was the first time of many I raced (and had my ass handed to me by) Cary Lowery.

In the years following, it went back to being a SSCX bike. I rode it in a SSCX race at the National Championships in Kansas City (it was a non-championship race, and I raced against the dudes… and Betsy Shogren).

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…and later it became a wannabe mountain bike with a flat bar, a Kenda Karma 2.1 on the front, and some sort of small Bontrager “mountain bike” tire on the back…

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It kinda sat around for a while after that. I got really nice, pimped-out carbon cross bikes, placed 3rd in Masters Worlds a couple of times, then decided that having two full race seasons per year was no longer what I wanted to do. So, I sold the fancy carbon rides, and the Crosscheck was once again my CX steed. This time, with a plethora of “leftovers” from other bikes that had come and gone through the stable:

in

I raced it in one or two SSCX It’s basically in the same iteration now, except it’s got my I9 road wheels and a set of fat road tires on it. I use it for a good portion of road training and grocery getting now. For training, I’ve been riding it up Lookout Mountain on a 40×16. It’s a haul, but it’s been an integral part of getting ready for competition team tryouts.

I’ve alluded to it a couple of times, but, since I’m pretty limited on ride time and ability to travel because of Indy’s failing mental health, I’m pouring a lot of energy in to MMA at The Training Camp. Tomorrow afternoon, I’m trying out for the competition team. It’ll open up the opportunity to train and compete in Jujitsu, Muay Thai, and eventually, another go at MMA.

You can find bikes like the Crosscheck pretty easily now, but, at the time, there weren’t many of them. If you’ve got piles of random bike parts around your house, I’d highly recommend dropping a little cash for a frame and making it in to, well, whatever you want… as I have for the past few years as my mood, needs, and interests changed.

Random Recap

The “fun” thing about not posting weekly-ish is that I get to empty interesting photos from my phone and try to string them together in a way that makes some sort of sense/entertainment for you, the reader.

I’ve been a little low on bike motivation for a while. Given Indy’s need for somewhat constant care, I’m not making any large race/travel plans for this summer. I’m not going to board him, and I don’t have the disposable income to pay for personalized dog sitting. So, I’m having to look to other places for opportunities to set goals for the upcoming year.

A couple of weeks ago I watched one of my coaches at the gym win the championship fight for his weight class… in 47 seconds. To see the outpouring of support from the other coaches and students at the gym was incredibly moving. I’m looking forward to trying out for the competition team in two weeks. A sizable portion of the tryout criteria is conditioning. So, I’m trying to get that in however I can, though being sick with two different colds in the span of three weeks sort of put a damper on that.

My two favorite workouts so far are riding the singlespeed up Lookout Mountain…

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…and, of course, riding indoors. Get on, warm up, kill it, cool down. Boom- One hour and you’re done.

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In the meantime, there’s a little bit of change going on with my work situation.

(unrelated pics of SRAM’s Reverb service clinic)

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Once there was a barn dog named Hank (bear with me for just a minute. There’s a point to this story). He wasn’t overly affectionate, but he was cool with most people. For whatever reason, Hank hated me from day one. From the moment I pulled up in the barn parking lot, he would growl and bark and follow me around giving me the stink-eye. No amount of coaxing, squatting, avoiding eye contact, and offers of treats befriended him. Maybe I smelled/looked/sounded like someone who abused him. Maybe he didn’t like the sound of my car. No idea. Lord knows it wasn’t because I don’t love dogs.

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The service manager at the Highlands Ranch Elevation Cycles is a human Hank. Dave is an excellent mechanic, a highly skilled rider, and generally seems like an OK guy. Dave also dislikes me for, well, I have no idea why. So, I’ll spare you the gory details and just say that as of Wednesday, I requested to not work with him any more. Lucky for me, the shop Owner/Management is very understanding, and I very much enjoy the company of my coworkers at the other two shop locations, so I’ll be splitting time between the Downtown Denver and Boulder shops. I think Elevations is a great place, so I’m not going to let one unfriendable person out of a company full of nice people mess that up for me.

Having yesterday off actually turned out to be a really good thing for me. I was able to go to the 6:00 Jiu Jitsu class that I normally can’t go to because of work. It just so happened that it was belt testing/promotion night. I left with two more stripes on my belt than I came in with…

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I know these guys would be proud.

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After the subsequent Muay Thai class, one of the long time students/coaches talked to me about her plans for getting a women’s sparring/training group together. She’s pretty badass, as are the other ladies that are on her short list for the group. I’m honored, for sure.