Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Granite Grinder 6 Hour Race Report

Stop two on the Chainbuster Series was in Conyers, Georgia.  Zeke and I were both single speeding again, he is the SS class and I in the open women's field.

I had headed down to Atlanta a couple day's prior to be Wobble-naught fitted by Eddie O'Dea of 55nine Performance.  I was not too far off my "blueprint," as I had been fitted a few years back.  Eddie moved my saddle forward and a tad bit higher.  I am hoping that this will help with some IT band issues I have been having.

Preparing to be "one" with the bike!

I was fortunate enough to spend the night with the O'Dea's.  My accommodations were awesome.  My bed was in the bike room.  Bikes, parts, and accessories everywhere!  It was a maze to get to the bathroom.  The room smelled like rubber and lube.  And I had the best sleep ever!

Back to the race ...

Gearing was a hard choice for this one.  A lot of flat sections + several steep grunty climbs = difficult decision.  I chose to go for a slightly easier gear, as I would rather carry a high cadence on the flats and be able to clean the climbs.

The start was a never ending flat gravel section.  I was in the first row, but soon got shuttled back to what seemed like DFL by the time we hit the single track.  Oh well, at least I was not going to blow up on the first lap!

It is nice to have all body and bike parts working and flowing together.  Eddie's slight adjustments made my IT band issues all but disappear.  He also gave me pedal stroke advice from which I created several mantras I used during the race.

The first 6 laps flew by effortlessly.  Oh, yeah.  On the first lap I had to throw in a little effort to get up the red clay punchy climb followed by the fresh cut trail climb after some dildo scrubbed ALL my speed when he rubbed my rear wheel for what seemed like a solid two feet.  I can't remember what I shouted, but I think it caught those behind me off guard!

Top of the clay climb ... think ski slope steep!

Must of been the first lap adrenaline that got me to the top!  Funny thing, the dude who scrubbed me got funneled back.  The next guy that was on my wheel immediately said, "That wasn't me!"

On the third lap, I caught up with first place.  At the time, I really did not know where I was in relation to my competition, the downside of racing against "gearies."  Whenever I am unsure who my competition is, I pass with gas, get a gap, and then settle back in to my rhythm.

Those climbs on the last 3 laps began to sting.  I never had to push, but my cadence was dangerously close to track standing in a couple of steep pitches.  I was also doing the math in my head on those last few laps to see how hard I was gonna need to go to get those laps in before the 4pm cut off.

My can of Red Bull gave me wings for that last lap.  Catching up to one of my friends that was doing the 9 hour also helped to make it one of my fastest.

I was pleasantly pleased with my performance as well as with my Niner AC9 ... with the Niner RDO seat post.  In the past I have been a faithful Thomson follower, but on the singlespeed, the RDO carbon takes the "sting" out of the bumps.  There is a slight weight penalty, but I will gladly take it to avoid getting my spine jacked!  BTW, I am still running my Thomson Masterpiece on my geared bike.

My training/racing partner, Zeke, who is also sometimes mistaken for my husband and/or father.

My good friend, Ursula, placed 3rd, in the 6 Hour Solo.  She was "singling" it as well.  Zeke finished 4th in the SS class ... out of 13!  Hoo-rah!  If he didn't stop to make a wheat bread and Hammer Gel sandwich every lap, who knows where he might have finished!

Next up for me is The Ouachita Challenge.  Time for gears!

Friday, March 9, 2012


Today was my first ride aboard the Niner Jet 9 RDO.  I chose Chilhowee as there is a little bit of everything:  from tight twisty rocky single track to fast and flowy double track.  Every time when Zeke and I ride this trail system, we stop at our trail side sanctuary, add a rock, and say a prayer.  Need less to say, I have been the one in need on many an occasion.

Note the cross Zeke made from sticks and leather cord to the left of the rocks.

We have been doing this since 2007.  We have some pretty big slabs on the bottom, but our rocks seem to be getting smaller and smaller.  If our rides continue we may have to get a BOB trailer to bring in more base rocks!

The climb up to this spot is about 25 minutes long.  Today I thought a lot about what has transpired over the past year.  It has not been an easy road to hoe and I have had to rely on family, friends, and my spirituality.  Simply stated, I have had to "let go" and lean on others.  I've had to have faith that I was making the right decisions; everything from changing to a different bike manufacturer to going gluten free to deciding to have surgery to several other challenges I choose not to go into on this blog.

If you know me, I like the tangible.  I like to be able to hold it in my hands.  Faith is not easy for me, but I have learned that it is good for me.  Faith helps in lifting those heavy burdens from my shoulders.

Testing grounds

And that is how the Niner double squishy rocket machine got her name.  Faith is what helped to get me through last year and now the "tangible" Faith will help me to get to the finish line this year!

There was no transition, no "getting used to"; I hopped aboard and immediately felt at home.  It was like I was riding my Era, only with 29" wheels.  The 100mm of travel is there when you need it and easily turned off when you don't.  As light as I am, most of the time I did not need to engage the lock out up front and Pro Pedal in the rear.  But it was easy to do so when necessary.  The climbing was most enjoyable, especially when it got technical.

I am currently running a 39 x 26 with an 11-36 cassette.  I had no trouble today and only used the 36 cog a couple times, but I don't know if I will have enough on the lower end to get me up and over the mountains at The Ouachita Challenge and The Pisgah 111.

Cleaned the Naked Widow ... both ways.

The biggest thing I realized is just how those big wheels like to keep rolling once you get them up to speed.  Today's small rollers seemed like I was on the flats.  And my Stan's Race Wheels are only 100 grams heavier than my superlight 26" Stan's Alpine wheels.  They are just as easy to accelerate as my little wheels.

I am so glad I made the transition from Specialized to Niner.  Had I been riding an S-Works Epic 29'r, this post would probably have been the same, for Specialized does make awesome bikes as well.  But ... I was unable to purchase an S-Works model from my LBS, an authorized Specialized dealer.  Bruce would have had to have purchased "X" number of S-Works and in a town of 13,000 I am the only one who would ride that high end model.  98% of the bikes Bruce sells are less than $800.  So I would have had to buy an S-Works from another dealer.  Being a loyal customer for 12+ years, I refused to go there.  So ... Specialized lost a customer and Niner gained two (Zeke is a Ninerd, too).

Niner supports the little guys like The Outdoor Store and for that I am grateful.  I also like the 5 year warranty on their carbon fiber frames.  And I love the color!  And I love the "hike-a-bike carrying handle."  And the list goes on and on!

This will come in handy at The Pisgah 111!

If you really want to know how I felt aboard faith on her virgin ride, just watch the video from time 1:20 - 3:00.  Bugs Bunny paints a very clear picture of my first impression.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Snake Creek TT Finale Race Report

NWGA SORBA outdid themselves on this one!

T.H.E!  Conditions, both the trail and the body, made this one The Hardest Ever for moi.  2-3" rain on the first section the night before made the first half of the race a mud fest.  I was glad I had put the mud fender on because it kept the mud and horse poo off my glasses and face.

Silly me thought that I could pull off a sub-3:30 after succumbing to an upper respiratory infection in the week leading up to the race.  My gracious co-workers, who seem to always be sick, left me "gifts" on the phones, door knobs, computers, etc.  Side note:  Those who are always "sick" ought to be made, by law, to eat healthy, rest well, and get plenty of exercise, so that those who actually give a damn about their bodies, don't have to be constantly exposed to the weaklings' germs!

Anyway, any positive thoughts of being able to win this thing were quickly bashed within the first mile.  I tried to get up to speed, but with the mud and my inability to get my RDA of oxygen, I was fighting a losing battle.  Yeah, I was mad, frustrated, and feeling sorry, but quickly reminded myself that I was out here doing what I love.  Dang it if I was going to let the conditions dictate my state of mind!  I immediately decided that if I could not race, then at least I would have a good training ride.

I slogged through the first half, practicing my surfing skills through the muddy descents and my smooth pedaling cadence through the muddy climbs.  My legs actually felt pretty good; might of had something to do with not riding much the week prior.  They wanted to go go go, but my lungs said no no no.  The cobwebs of mucous in the back of my throat made oxygen transference most difficult.  I had enough "snot rockets" to take out a small country.

I rolled through the 1/2 way point 4 minutes slower than January's time.  I opted not to swap out Camelbak's but do a partial refill at the last water stop just before entering the final section of single track.  It was nice not having a full Camelbak on me up the next two climbs.  I seemed to feel better, especially after noticing just how dry the second half was!  It was like night and day as compared to the first half.  If only I had known, I may have just ridden the 17 miler.

The first half of the second half went by quickly.  My legs finally seemed to be getting some oxygen, so I was able to stand and hammer up some of the short kickers.  I had a good climb up to the final aid station, got a bit of water, and motored on.  Normally I enjoy the last hour of the race, picking my way through the bouldery sections, nailing the descents and usually climbing at least 1/2 of  "The Wall."  As I entered the first tricky section, I could tell I was REALLY tired.  I felt like a pinball and my little wheels constantly found those "26 inch holes."  It seemed I was off the bike more than on.  The Wall was ominous today and I scuttled up most of it ... probably faster than I could have ridden it anyway.

Instead of laying it down on the road descent, I coasted in to the finish, with a blazing time of 3:45.  I definitely got my money's worth today.  Fortunately, my January time was good enough for 2nd.  That $500 will go towards my 29'r rocket ship, which right now weighs less than my Specialized S-Works Era!

2013 Snake Creek Steed!

There was no "Easy Button" for today's race ... err, ride.  Sometimes you learn a lot more about yourself when you are at your lowest.  I managed to finish with a smile and no broken bones or bike parts.

Kudos to Pro Gold's Extreme Lube.  No chain suck and it was quiet all day!

The podium was empty save for Rachel and I.