Friday, December 17, 2010

This blog is dead. it doesn't represent me, and i dont want to type on it anymore. something new will emerge, let's just say it will be like the phoenix...even if it isn't... unless it is like the jean grey style phoenix... that would be cool. comic and animated series style, not last stand style.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Alpha and Omega

Well, Jingle Cross is this weekend and is basically the end of the season for this year. No events until Triple D (probably), and that is first week of January. With the end of this season coming soon I have been spending time reflecting on this season's ups and downs from 2010.

Triple D happened: I finished for the first time in three tries. I was only four minutes out of 3rd, but had nothing more to give. It was pretty cold that day, and ask people who rode about "the groomer" if you want to hear a profane rant. I screwed up by having way to low of pressure at the beginning, and was struggling through town. I had to stop and inflate, but with a mini-pump it took forever. I was in last and by the time I was actually on the Heritage trail I think I was 15 minutes back from the front so it was just a 60 mile, 100 rpm, 8mph time trial. I was happy to finish after I had a total shut down while riding the course with race creator Lance Andre about 5 days earlier.

Cirrem happened: 64 miles of gravel in February. Really fun course, but very demanding climbs as well. I was glad to ride the singlespeed, and ended up riding almost the entire race with Shockey who was (foolishly) fixed. I had a little bit of cramping, but was able to quickly take care of them. I ended up 3rd ss and think that my time would have been much better if I was on my cross bike. The roads were firmer than I thought they would be, but I played it safe.

Ouachita 60 mile happened: I finished ok on the SS. I was in much better placing and had a small melt down. I had some flat tire issues. I thought the 60 mile this year was harder than the 80 the year before. They reversed the route and so you did all the nasty climbs first. The problem is that some of the climbs are super brutal and you are walking/hiking; so after 30 miles of hiking and climbing you cant ride other things that you would have been able to, and the hiking would have happened either way on Brushy and Blow-out. I was happy though, I rode with Aaron again this year. Crazy how it worked out two years in a row, and even crazier because 2009 I had gears and he was ss, 2010 it was reversed. It also showed me that I could give a good mountain bike effort for six-plus hours. I knew I could ride on gravel, but that hadn't been tested on the mountain bike trails. This was the first real ride on the custom Eriksen, and it was glorious. I had spent a lot of time on it, but again it wasn't in the exact positions and riding style that it was intended for. I was really pleased with the ride of the bike, and still am.

Bone Bender 6hr race happened: I won singlespeed. In retrospect it feels really weird to have won my first 6hr race. I had done events of that length and longer, and I felt like I could really contend if I could be consistent. I just guessed at a pace I thought I could average and compared to other results I thought it could be top five. My 6 laps all fell in an 11 minute span. I really felt as good on lap four as I did on lap two. It was my first race in Q7 gear and was obviously the best way to start that going.

Q7 happened: Tom, Wanda: you rule. Thank you for everything. The kits have all looked awesome, and fit and functioned really well. People ask me about my t-shirts all the time. I know sometimes I am a flake and distant for long periods, but I'm dialing it in, and excited to start the 2011 season representing Q7.

That's the first third or so of the year. It set the table for Chequamegon 100, Dirty Kanza 200, and others.

Charlie Farrow's note to Transiowa rookies. Read it if you are reading this and are signed up as a rookie. I wrote something like this that only lived for about 30 minutes, mostly due to my lack of elegance and use of profanity. In my opinion this is a comment on the nature of free races, and specifically free races where bad things can happen to you. I am very well aware of many of the things that I was have to endure to be able to finish T.I. I know there is bad stuff that I don't even know about. I saw the few faces at this year's event, Mr. Farrow's being one of them, and many of these guys were just beaten down. Tough mf'ing guys, like Cornbread, who killed the field at Dirty Kanza; just worked over by the roads and the weather. There is a difference between being able to ride a long distance, and having what I assume it takes to finish something like Transiowa. I wonder if a system like what they use for Iditasport where you essentially have to have credentials to enter. There are so many free events going on through-out the Midwest that maybe somebody should actually have to finish a 100 mile race or even maybe two. The would increase attendance at more races. It doesn't cost racer's much more, just travel. Plus, it gives invaluable experience in a long distance race vs a century on the weekend. Or maybe you just have to volunteer and work a checkpoint late in the race to see the broken faces. I don't have the answer, I don't even know if there is a question. I think that when consequences can potentially be so grave, I think having some good experience is a great way to show respect to the race directors and other racers. Hosting a 100 miler myself, I loved seeing new people, but it was comforting to have the guys who I knew knew how to take care of themselves.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Where the heck have I been?

Its been a over a month since I wrote something. Night Nonsense happened and was successful I think. I switched jobs again. All kinds of things are happening. I haven't ridden for fun for a long time and my fitness is really poor right now. I have a lot of work... A LOT of work to do if I even think that T.I. is a reasonable goal. I have been doing some bke work. I have really spent time reflecting on the ups and downs of this season: winning at Bone Bender, 3rd at Dirty Kanza both times on a singlespeed, but also the fiasco that was GWC and crampfest death trudge 2010 on a geared bike. I think I can ride a geared bike reasonably fast for about 60-70 miles. The problem is that I am just not quite as strong as some of the other guys yet, and to be able to keep up I end up burying myself. I am realizing that I can ride for a long time, in the type of endurance races that I want to do well in just finishing will net you a fine finish. Consistency was the key at Bone Bender. At Levis Trow this year, I knew going in that I didn't have enough mtn. bike time in, no one did in Iowa, and instead of leaving the bike 32x20 and just riding all day, I geared it up and had a terrible day struggling to hang on to people who were MUCH more fit than I was. I really think that if I couldn't have kept up due to just being geared a little low I would have ridden 30-40 more miles that day. In just riding that distance I would have finished significantly better as far as placing goes. I think the ability to push a bigger gear will just come. Finishing can happen now if I don't wreck myself trying to ride outside of my abilities. So, now the La Cruz is a singlespeed and is geared 38x17. I will probably ride 38x18 for T.I., with 35c tires, maybe a slightly larger front tire, I'm going to test that. I got one ride on it so far and really liked it. The BB is so stiff; it is the first thing I was commenting on when I got the bike. The feeling climbing up hills on this bike vs the Crosscheck with the same gearing is wild. I am still waiting on a White Industries M15 front hub, but here are the changes:

Fork: Edge (Enve) Composites
Cranks: Bontrager (Truvativ) Race X-lite Carbon
Chainring: Salsa 38t
Chain: Sram 8-speed
Rims: Stan's Alpha 32h
Rear hub: White Industries Eno eccentric
Front hub: W.I. M15
Spokes: Wheelsmith 1.8 straight - M.G. says they're his jam, I trust him.
Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralphs... but I think I am going to run Stan's Raven tires, we'll see.
Seatpost: the Eriksen one off of my mtb. Kevin fit me with the set-back and it is real nice. Kevin McConnell may look like a hobo, but he does a hell of a job fitting your bike to you.
Pedals: XTR, I'll get some of the new low-profile ones for the Eriksen.

I am pretty excited to be back on the ss. I think a November trip down to Chariton may be in order again. Hopefully I can talk one Aaron Robnett, or one Nick Sobocinski...or even one Ben Shockey to join. Also, if you know either of those guys, Nick not included, tell them to start updating their blog...its been months and I need some stuff to read, cause its pretty good stuff.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Its on

Yep, its official. In about two months its officially going to be time to start obsessing. I have seen Shockey and others prepare for this, and I am guessing that come March and April this blog will be a mess of rambling, questioning, riding, re-questioning, and eventually settling on all types of thing as I prepare for the new biggest goal in life: finishing Transiowa.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Goings on

In the middle of a very busy work schedule I am finally taking time to just update and organize. I realized that between the car debacle, Gnomefest, new jobs, and my laziness I have gotten chubbier. Nothing bad, maybe ten pounds heavier than I was last year this time. If I want to be successful, which doesn't necessarily mean winning, in cyclocross this year then I need to shed that little bit of extra Adam that is slowing me down. CX season started for me in Altoona last Sunday. One of my best friends, Tanner, got married on Saturday (congrats) and we raged all night long and most of Sunday morning, and so my race was more of a ride. It was good to get some experience dismounting and remounting, jumping barriers, and feeling out the new bike, but I was in no shape to race and probably finished last, I dunno. Wanda hooked it up with a new HOT Q7 jersey and so at least my outfit looked good. Kevin and Eppen went crazy and dominated. Kev barely held him off in a SS vs geared uphill sprint finish...gears won. I sat on the hill and watched, then crossed as the third man to finish the race, down "x" laps. Good experience, bad race. I also got to see a bunch of cool people I hadn't seen in a while, so that is a big positive. I started a fund for a new Salsa Spearfish. It involves selling my set of Edge Composites wheels, Waltworks 6 speed cassette, Soul Cycle Dillinger, Fox F29 fork and other stuff, as well as that is where all of my tips go. I have been talking about an 80mm travel full squish for a while and then Salsa, as usual, unveiled something awesome: the Spearfish. Named after the town where the Dakota 5-0 (an awesome race) is held, and having exactly 80 mm of travel, and coming in at a very respectable weight, AND looking super hot, the Spearfish is now my object of lust. A bike like this makes me re-excited for races like Levis Trow after they just physically dominated me on a rigid ss. Now I just have to figure out how to get one.

Night Nonsense is coming up WAY to fast. I have a lot of the route still to plan out, and cue sheets to figure out. This is going to get interesting. I haven't put much time on the bike in the last few weeks, but this may be the spark I need to force me on the bike and scout the route. Wish me luck, I hope anyone reading this is coming.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

First I have a few random tidbits:
  • I just recently noticed that Tim Ek put my blog up on his list. That is pretty cool. If you don't know Tim, he is a Salsa team rider who does very well at WEMS races, and very well in gravel endurance, top ten at Dirty Kanza.
  • Gnomefest was awesome. I will write about it from the perspective of someone who didn't ride, but still had a great time.
  • Arm and body feel good after healing up from the wreck. New parts for the bike are getting installed on Thursday, and Kevin is going to help fit me up. New Salsa Promoto Ti stem and Salsa Woodchipper bars will change position a bit.

So for people who don't know, this past month has been different than any month of my life. I am now working at Jimmy John's by day, and Airliner by night. I deliver sandwiches, salads, burgers, and pizzas all by bike. This also means that for the first time in my employment life I do not work at a bike shop, apparently a 25 year old with 10 years of experience and a fiery passion for cycling isn't worth keeping on staff. I am really enjoying making people see another situation where a bike is a viable option to replace a car and not suffer too bad. My area is roughly 320 square blocks, six south, ten north, east, and west (20x16). At Airliner that area increases. I also love getting a ride in everyday. Most days I get in at least 12 miles riding as fast as I can. A day I worked JJ in the day and Airliner at night I rode 39 miles by the time I got home. I started on the Crosscheck set-up single. It worked well, but I wanted my ss gravel bike to still be a more gravel focused bike, and didn't want it to have a rack on it. Then it became obvious: Pugsley. Most overbuilt delivery bike in history? Possibly. It rides awesome, the front rack is a Civia and it came from Geoff's. Despite my feelings about the events leading up to no longer working there, Geoff's is still my definite go to place for bike purchases, and for Kevin's professional fitting. Hit me up if you need sandwiches by day, or pizza by night. Also we are just about one month out from Night Nonsense 100 and things are still shaping up well. I could use a volunteer or two to make me really happy, but I think it will be an awesome time. Now I want to try and figure out how to head over to DM for one of the nights of Renegade Cross, and see some friends. Check out the view from the cockpit; this is what I look at for five hours some days.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Crash

Thursday, September 9th - 10 am
After eating some delicious Casey's breakfast pizza I got on my bike to continue on to work. A beautiful day that was going to be spent delivering gourmet sandwiches freakishly fast (according to the slogan) on my bicycle. Rolling south on Dubuque street I approached the intersection of Market street. A green car was stopped, waiting for other cars slightly in front of me to pass. As I began rolling through the car stated to move. Everything went into slow motion. I saw the car continuing to turn and realized there was a very small chance they knew I was there and therefore a very small chance they were going to stop. I also began to realize that based on the distances and the speed we were both going that I couldn't have accelerated quickly enough to clear the entire car, and couldn't slam on the brakes hard enough to switch positions and have me hit the car from the side. I readied myself for impact and tried as hard as I could to tuck and role like in the movies. Bam the lady nails me from the side, I hit almost the dead center of her car. I rolled up the hood and ended up smashing the windshield and coming to a stop there. Thankfully, for the first time in the sequence, the person hit their brakes. My bike was laying out in the road in front of the car looking hurt. I was laying in the windshield being hurt. I got myself up and off the car and immediately noticed that my arm was bleeding pretty bad and it only took one look to know that I didn't want to look again. I felt reasonably ok given the circumstances. My back and arms had glass in them and I could feel all kinds of little cuts on me. I stood up and walked into the intersection and asked if someone could call someone official; I was bleeding. A four and a half foot tall very elderly lady got out of the car, she didn't seem shocked or excited by the situation at all. I don't know if she really knew what was going on or what had happened. I tried to stay away from the lady mainly because most of what was going through my head was laden with profanity, and I didn't want to curse in front of her. A bike cop showed up first, then a fire truck who kept moving, and finally, oddly, the EMTs showed up. They cleaned me up a bit, asked if my neck or back was broken, and told me I could go with them to the hospital because I was going to need stitches. Now, the hospital is two blocks away and an ambulance ride is between 600-700 dollars... I don't care who has to pay for it, that is just too expensive. So I told them I'd walk there, tried to get them to swear to take my bike somewhere, not just leave it on the street. Oh yeah, it was the reasonably new Salsa La Cruz Ti...epic fail. Although I will say: luckily it is the La Cruz TI, because I won't need a new frame. Glad I went titanium over carbon. Thankfully Nick brought Will's car - thank you Nick, thank you Will - and had a bike rack, so he loaded up the bike and my and delivered one to he Mercy E.R. and one to Geoff's for inspection. Then I had to walk from Geoff's to Mercy so I could be taken care of...after they made sure the bike would survive. (foolish) 10 stitches help somewhat seal up a golf ball sized divot in my forearm, no riding for about 10 days, missed some work, and have to deal with insurance ladies. Suckfest, but whatever, I have decided that based on some events in my life: undefeated in cagefighting, hit by a car and lived, hit by a car and lived (2), 200 mile gravel bike race finisher, and other things, that I can pay just the right author to write my biography and make me seem super bad ass. Obviously there will be some editing, but if the spotlight is put in the right places I'm golden.

Gnomefest still happened. It was awesome even without being able to ride. I'll give my recount soon. It was one of the best weekends of the year, as always. Keep riding as it cools off, Gritty Brevet is coming up, CX season is upon us, and of course Night Nonsense 100 on October 23. Just got word a few Pirates may be here, should make things fun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gravel World Championships

First a big big thanks to Cornbread and other volunteers for making the race happen. Thank you to MG for letting me crash (literally on Saturday) at your place and just being a good dude. Thanks to C.V.O. for the hospitality and saving my life and helping me salvage my race. We met on Friday night and had burritos, said hellos to a lot of regular riders, chatted it up, and prepped the bikes. As things went, the race overshadows the rest of the entire weekend so I don't have as much details of the hanging out. Although, I will say that Oso Burrito makes a dang fine burrito; kind of Pancheros style.

Woke up at 4:15 Saturday morning for the 6 am start and 5:20 sign-in time. MG and I had gotten most everything ready the previous night so thankfully it didn't take too much effort on our part to get ready. We had a 15-20 minute ride to the edge of town where the race appropriately started about 1/2 mile off gravel. Rode up, chatted in the darkness with friends, and prepared for a long day on the bike. About 100 guys and gals rode from the start into a dense fog. We neutrally rolled out with some Pirates leading the way; I tried to sit one-two wheels behind MG at all times...that was the plan at least. I am guessing that about 30 guys worked in the front group, but that number deteriorated quickly as the pace kept rising. The hills started rolling and the group kept separating but the pace stayed high. I was settling in, no one was really attacking the front or forcing the pace uncomfortably, and then in a blink of an eye I saw MG falling to his right, a guy veer left, one guy kind of run over the pile but then endo, and another guy fall. I was lucky the guy right in front of me was heads up, and we slammed our brakes and he went left and I went right to end the carnage. A few of us stopped and waited and word got up to the group so they let off the gas a bit. Everyone seemed to be ok, and more people were coming up so I continued to roll. I never quite got fully back on the group, and after seeing a couple of the guys from the wreck come up I hoped the MG would get up there as I was using him as my rabbit, but he had some mechanical problems he had to address. So I rode by myself for a little while and then I got lulled into a false sense of direction and took a wrong turn at mile 36. Mile 37 was the first checkpoint, by the way, and I really felt like if I got to the first checkpoint was a reasonable group, I would do well in the race, but this wrong turn messed up those plans. I hammered some rolling hills with a tailwind thinking that the town was just a mile or so away. After about a half mile extra I began to get worried, and at two miles the road T'ed off and ended. I cursed and turned around. Now, unfortunately, I had gradual rolling uphills and a headwind to contend with, and I foolishly decided to put in a big effort to try and get to the town and at least be able to hook up with the second group. I rolled into town and saw Kent riding away from the gas station so I knew the front groups couldn't be too far away, but unfortunately for me when I got to the gas station there were only about three guys standing around talking. I went in and got my powerball ticket and a Redbull and decided to continue on. In hindsight, I should have grabbed something to eat and made sure that all of my hydration and eating was going as planned; I knew it was going to be a hot one. The miles up until 50-55 were fairly uneventful. Then out of nowhere my right calf started cramping a little.

Ok in all honesty with starting two new jobs, and being in my actual home for a full week for the first time since May, I have been writing this report for over a week. I am losing recollection of the event, and there are other things to talk about. So here are the facts for the rest of the race:

  • Miles 50-85 saw the race heat up, temperature wise. It got into the 90's.
  • First 65 miles took 3.5 hours...18.8 mph pace.
  • I walked my first hill at mile 86 due to cramps.
  • The next 64 miles took me approximately 10 hours to finish... 6.4 mph pace.
  • The longest stretch of road that I walked was about 4 miles.
  • I cramped riding up a hill and couldn't twist either leg to unclip, so I fell over and laid there waiting to uncramp.
  • C.V.O. had to save my life on, I believe, 5 separate occasions.
  • I wanted to quit at mile 107, 111 (an hour apart), and 123.
  • I slept in a parking lot for an hour and a half...after sitting in a gas station for 30 minutes.
  • I couldn't quit at mile 123 because Suvivor's "Eye of the Tiger" randomly came on the radio, and no one can quit during "Eye of the Tiger".
That's it. I got wrecked by cramps. I haven't ever suffered to that extent for that long. Thanks Thanks Thanks to everyone who helped me. Thanks to my man Z, who played personal nutritionist, cause he's smart like that. All in all though, 152 miles done, the finishing and pushing through gives a great deposit in the pain memory bank.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back from Wisconsin

A beautiful week in Wisconsin has come to a close. Great weather, great people, great trails makes for a good week. I think I got in about 15 hours of riding singletrack, doubletrack, and xc skis. About half the miles were on the Eriksen, and the other half on the new Salsa La Cruz. I have about 100 miles on the new bike and have been really happy with how it rides. The typical ride qualities of titanium, a stiffer bottom bracket than I had anticipated, and getting used to having shifters have made the transition onto a geared cross bike as pleasurable as possible. We'll see how a 150% increase in miles on the bike will treat me at Gravel World Championships this weekend. We stopped for a few days at Kettle Moraine, Wausau, and Levis Trow. Kettle had the most mosquitoes I have ever seen. If you stopped for even five seconds they would be attacking you like crazy. Even with that I got to ride some really cool trails. Thanks to Gary among other people for working on the trails at John Muir. The coolest section of trail was some burmed downhill turns with rock "ramps" at the exit of the burm... flowed real nice and brought a smile to my face.

Some pics from Kettle area. Yes, that is approximately 12 Leinenkugel cans on the table, we were in Chippewa Falls, brewery location for "Leinies", one day during our travels. Next update will cover Wausau, rain, and seeing a great old friend. Plus, Gravel World Championship recap and maybe New Belgium Urban Assault ride on Sunday. I'll try to start updating more frequently now that I''m somewhat back in the real world.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Great first ride/ leaving on a NIGHT TRAIN

First ride on the new La Cruz= total success. I felt great all day, I am comfortable in basically all hand positions, the frame rides really well. The frame felt quite stiff initially. Nick and I rode 65 miles of good gravel and a fair amount of level b roads. There was some definite soft spots in the level b dirt and I was out of the saddle cranking up hills. I had high expectations for the first geared gravel ride and they were all met. Sub-four hours is the time that I consider a real good gravel metric. Just over 16 mph depending on if you stop and for how long. We had strong winds for sections, and rode along the edge of a storm. The temperatures at the edge mercifully dropped about ten degrees on a hot day, and we only felt about five raindrops. I was happy to feel like I had more in the legs at basically all times during the ride. Riding with Nick was really good too. I had missed the drive that riding with a friend promotes: more stop ahead sprints, aggressive hill climbs. The ride was one of the most productive rides of the year for me. I not only got in a great physical work out, but got to check out some roads that neither Nick or I had ridden. Great Night Nonsense 100 recon was done, and time on the gravel on the new bike.
I'll get some more time in on the La Cruz this week, but LOTS of time on the Eriksen. I'm headed up to Wisconsin with Mr. Zach Loew...awesome. Headed to Levis Trow, Nine Mile, maybe Kettle, and who knows what else. Camping and disappearing for a while will be really cool, and hanging out with Z is always awesome. I am excited to see Z out on the trails. He has been riding a lot lately and is really excited about it. It is cool that, although it took three extra years, I maybe rubbed off on him a bit and now he is digging riding a lot.
Unfortunately probably no updates before Gravel Worlds, but I will be riding a lot, and trying to mix up the gravel and singletrack. There are a few more things coming up: Dakota 5-0, getting teef, GF7, and then I'll really buckle down and focus 100% on Night Nonsense.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh Salsa I love you

Thank you everyone who did anything to help me obtain the Salsa La Cruz Ti frame that is now residing in my garage; Healthy Habits, Jason, Matt: so much appreciation. First big real test is happening tomorrow. 60 mile minimum distance and hoping to try and keep a good pace. I have to keep myself from setting the bar too high in regards to expectations, but think that tomorrow will be a very fun day.
I ended up with an Alpha Q fork thanks to Moon and Bruce. I'm running a Deda 100 mm 8 deg stem right now and will be switching that to a Salsa Promoto Ti once I dial the length and angle a little more. I really love how the bike came together; with the gray/silver shades and then the vivid pink and green. I feel like it is subtle and flashy at the same time. Other than the stem, I think the only upgrade that will even possibly need to be done will be a tubeless wheelset of some sorts. I am really liking this idea of just setting the bike up perfect form the onset. The Eriksen has switched in regards to rigid vs suspended, but essentially is the same bike since I got it and I still don't want to change anything.

Here is the new ride that hopefully will carry me to a good Gravel World Championship finish, some good cx results, and then through upcoming Transiowa's and Dirty Kanzas.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm back

Oh thank God another RAGBRAI is in the books. Long, hot days do a lot to wear a person down. On the bright side I got in a lot of good miles with Larue, Lazio, Vincent, the Chazmanian Devil, D Quack, and Nate. Now time to pack up again for the trip to Wisconsin and start doing extra recon for Night Nonsense 100. I'll maybe give a better write up later, but I am tired now. Good things are on the way... good things.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Night Nonsense 100

Official announcement: The inaugural Night Nonsense 100 will take place in Iowa City on October 23rd. I am so freaking excited for this race. I had been riding and thinking about how I could try and make a mark on the rapidly expanding gravel scene while also helping it grow. DUH! I'll put on a race I thought to myself. This way I can gain exposure for Q7 (one of the main sponsors, THANK YOU Q7), promote gravel grinder type races, and make it close enough and accessible enough that friends of mine who normally wouldn't take part in an event like this maybe will. The next question for me what how to set this event apart from all of the other gravel races in the Midwest. I knew that I wanted to take aspects from races that I think are top notch: Almanzo, Dirty Kanza, Good Life Gravel Adventure, Cirrem, but I also knew that I didn't have scenery like Kanza, and won't have numbers like Almanzo so I needed something...something...someth... GOT IT: NIGHT GRAVEL. At Geoff's we usually have a weekly gravel night ride around this time of year and have 20 people some weeks. I thought to myself that people like the aspect of night gravel, and it really plays into the aspects of gravel grinding that are most challenging to me: managing terrain, and the extended periods of solitude. I think that the darkness obviously adds another level of challenge to these two aspects. On the other hand, it won't be deathly hot and we shouldn't have too terrible of weather to deal with unless the wind feels feisty that night so I think it balances out.

Now I just have to continue with the plans in motion. I need to get about 10 people to volunteer for random jobs. Mark Stevenson has already done me a huge favor by posting the race up on his Gravel Grinder site (I have a link on the right). Oakley, Connecticut Yankee Pedaller, and Q7 are all on board with sponsorship and I can't thank them enough (although I will try over the next few weeks). I have to figure out logistical things like release waivers, and the official start and stop. I'd love to get hooked up with a place that could serve as a hub for finishers. It may just be my house with some food and drinks and a place to sleep. I am hoping to pick the brains of good friends who have successfully put on races of this type, and hopefully I can call it the "inaugural" this year and the "annual" next year. for updates. If you or anyone you know would like to volunteer it would be very much appreciated and won't be anything more than hanging out at a spot making sure people are ok, maybe standing over a table of food and drink since the gas stations won't provide the level of sanctity and relief we who spend much of our saddle time on gravel tend to rely upon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Levis Trow Disaster

Levis Trow went very poorly relatively this post will probably end up lasting longer. First thing though is I want to thank my parents for making the trip seven hours up and back to Wisconsin and helping me out with everything.

I was happy to see some friends up at the race: Charlie, Cale, Katy, Shockey, Scott. That was about the best part of it for me. I love riding the trails... I had less of a good time racing on the trails. I got to the race and found out the the race details were significantly different than what I had thought; seven, 14 mile laps vs four, 24 mile laps. That messed with my psychy a little because a 14 mile lap meant that this was set-up more in a regular xc race format just with four times the distance. The start was a short run to the bikes and take-off down some double track. Rode at a pretty fast pace for the first five or six miles and hit some sand. Lots of sand, deep sand, rocks, roots, on the trails; more than I had remembered. I realized that I was riding much harder than I needed to ride to keep my average pace where I thought I needed it to finish, so I backed off and dropped from the leaders. I had to walk climbs the first lap. This decided my gearing for Dakota 5-0. I haven't been on my mountain bike for more than ten miles at one time on actual singletrack since the Chequamegon 100, so I am going to just drop to a 32x20 and be able to spin more. It'll be a good test to try it at Levis again at least one more time this year. Either way, walking sometimes was fine. The race started at 8am and was nice a nice temp. at the start, but you could tell it was warming up quickly. About nine miles in I tried stepping up some rocks between two trees. Fail. Endo and landed on my less-good shoulder. Broke my GPS off the bar. Took me a second to regather myself, and kinda start walking up the hill. Got passed a lot, thought I was close to last. Started riding again and was having trouble holding onto my handlebar with my left hand. I wrecked some more. Finished the first lap. Second lap was more of the same with less dramatic wrecks, and actually more on bike climbing. Ate some food and sat in a chair talking to Shockey, Mom, and Dad. Decided to roll out for a third lap and after riding for a while I got on the Yellow Jacket trail. Super rooty and rough and I had nothing left. I got passed by the Mountain bike patrol guy, and pulled the plug. I rode xc ski trails back to the start/finish area and dropped the bike at 32 miles of a proposed 100. Epic fail. Had a sandwich and a beer with Ben and Scotty. I was pretty dominated, the trails were much more ruthless than I had remembered. I think maybe the Gnomefest aura makes it easier to climb and makes the trails smoother. Rode home pretty bummed out about my first non-weather related dnf. I guess it is just part of the deal, and you can't be on every day. Mix that with not getting the normal push from friends due to proximity or injury, and lack of access to trail systems; again, whether due to weather or trail condition.
It's all good now. I have Gravel Worlds to focus for, I had decided that before this race and maybe that influenced my racing today... I dunno. Some things, however, did work out very well.
What worked:
  • Mom and Dad supplying water, food, and Agent care. Agent likes bike races.
  • Q7 clothes were great. My backside was probably the freshest part of my body when I quit, good chamois.
  • The bike worked well. The front end began to creak like crazy after the good wreck on the first lap and was a little bit sketchy. I took it apart after the race and inspected things, which all checked out, but I am very aware of it.
  • Oakley Jawbones looked good and felt good. They are my favorite glasses of all time. The new orange/bassboat blue sparkle combination looked better than I did.
  • Hanging out with Shockey and Scotty, both out due to injury: a bum knee and a gash on an arm that is pretty brutal... 25 stitches or something.
Now time for Ragbrai and HOPEFULLY a Salsa frame before I go so I could at least build it there. I'd be jazzed to try and make a small gravel route each day from whatever town I'm in into the end town. I heard today that Aaron and Nate are coming up for a couple days, so that is good, and Larue is going to be around which is always good. Then three weeks to train on gravel and try to have fun doing it. I think the mountain bike may just get put away for a bit. I have even considered riding the La Cruz at the Mullet Classic... Kyle Sedore did it a couple years ago so I may give it a shot.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here we go

Riding is done, traveling starts tomorrow and then race time. I didn't get near the amount of miles in on the weekend that I wanted so instead of tapering and really treating this as a priority event I have continued to ride this week and am going to go at the LT 100 with a little different mindset. According to WEMS rules, to the best of my understanding, a 100 mile race is equivalent to a 12 hour race. The biggest difference is that in previous six hour races I have done, it has been the number of laps STARTED in the six hours, here it is number of laps COMPLETED within the 12 hours. I assume this is done to keep people from straggling out in the woods for even more prolonged amounts of time while suffering from fatigue and whatever else is plaguing a rider. Theoretically a person could end up riding an extra lap and it not counting, or piling in an extra 24 miles right before the "bell". So this forms my intent for the race: ride four laps each one under three hours. I am actually hoping to do the first two laps closer to two or two and a half hours which should give me a bit of padding for the latter two laps. The first fifty is going to be quite telling for me; even more in this race than in others. I haven't had a lot of long rides lately so I feel like if my legs are still under me at mile 50 that the base that I've built will carry me through the next 50.

This is the race plan, previous to it I get to meet up with Oakley Rob who is graciously hooking me up with a new pair of Jawbones, my favorite glasses ever, symbolizing the beginning of me riding for Oakley on a grass-roots level. It is humbling for me to have people addressing me and wanting to have me represent them. I understand that there are better riders than me, in basically every discipline. I understand there are cooler people than me, in basically every facet. I am happy that I have just enough skills, and am just cool enough (or people feel just bad enough for me) that they are happy to have me on board with their products and goals, and I am uber-happy to oblige. I am very lucky that I have had people to push me and support me, and I have touched on this before. This is year one of my cycling life with a focus predominantly on endurance racing. The sky is the limit and I hope the success that I've had this year is only a precursor to what can be attained.

Now, with Levis Trow's motivation and outlook slightly changed my focus and priority has once again returned to Gravel World Championships. Hopefully my new Salsa La Cruz Ti will be here and built and that will be the catalyst to really hammering the gravels in preparation. I wrote a while ago that one of my ultimate goals this year was to win the singlespeed class of GWC. Now the want to ride my La Cruz may outweigh my want to ride a singlespeed, so does that rule out riding the Salsa?... maybe not.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dialing it in

If it wasn't for bad/wet weather we wouldn't have any weather at all. Rain has kept all of the local trails here shut down, or at least I would have to endure some serious nasty wet, muddy riding. I haven't been on my mountain bike since the epically failed gravel ride, and haven't been on gravel since said ride on any bike. I have however been able to get some higher intensity road rides in. Pounding hill after hill hopefully will pay off in nine days. My plan is to get two more high intensity rides and then back to the roots for some singlespeed gravel this weekend. A 140 mile weekend the week before Dirty Kanza seemed to round out my fitness and also gave me time to recover fully, so I am going to use that same plan for this race. 20 in the morning Saturday and then gravel in the afternoon, and a longer slower paced ride Sunday come rain or shine. In a sick and twisted way I am kind of hoping for some rain one of the two days. I always tell people that riding in the rain gets you double miles; physical miles and mental miles.

After Levis Trows I have RAGBRAI and get to hopefully destroy some gravel is one Mr. John Larue. I am excited for both, more for the latter. John is one of the best people I know, and a blast to ride with. I know he has been riding a lot and getting stronger so if he has mercy he might not just rip my legs off. Hopefully I'll have the new bike by then, most of the parts are already here and I just stare at them longingly. I will be interested to see how things go on a geared gravel bike. In the past I have had good times and not so good times in regards to riding geared. One thing I am looking forward to is the gravel group rides once I am back in Iowa City. The high intensity and apparent total disregard for safety as people plow through level b roads and fields brings a smile to my face from ear to ear.

I can't thank people enough for helping me get my hands on the new La Cruz frame. The excitement for the new bike is single-handedly saving the latter half of my season. This first year of dedicated endurance racing has taken a toll on me. I have loved every race though, and have had the most enjoyable season of my life so far. I owe a lot to new and old friends who have given me tips on training, racing, and all things endurance. I also owe a HUGE amount to Q7. Their support with clothing, friendship, and encouragement has made it so much easier to focus on racing and trying to spread the Q7 love. Thank you Tom and Wanda.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What... a not-really all that cycling related post?

Nothing really cycling related to talk about except maybe the Tour de France just started. I haven't been doing much riding. My legs don't feel very good, so I am hoping to get in one more long ride before the Levis Trow on the 17th. We'll see how it goes, I haven't felt super great leading up to a few races this year and they have still turned out alright, so you never know for me I guess. That's about all for bike stuff...the La Cruz thing is hopefully happening soon. It will look good with the Q7 gear, all sleak-like.

I am really excited for a UFC fight tonight. It is an interesting situation: the two guys are the champion and interim champion in the heavyweight division and they both cut weight to make the 265lb limit. So basically it means that the two baddest, toughest dudes in the world are also as big as they can possibly be. I think it is pretty cool.

Big news is that I think I may have found some direction in life... that is maybe an overstatement as I did choose to talk about not cycling, and two men punching each other, before I brought it up, but the beginning of big news at least. I sent an e-mail to Kirkwood's industrial tech department and I think that I am going to try and start in their 2 yr welding program. I like thinking about welding things. I like/appreciate the look and quality of well welded things. Obviously this is mostly in reference to bicycles, and I think welding bike frames seems really enticing to me as a future profession so here we go. I'll keep updated on the progression of that and hopefully...hopefully get motivated to hit some gravel and start really dialing it up for not only Levis Trow, but for Gravel World Championships as well. I know a lot of the competition that will be there so I know I have a lot of work cut out for myself. I have some new sweet Q7 bibs to try and break in. The chamois in those Primal shorts is really nice on long days. Total props to Wanda and Tom... hopefully I can figure out a way to sneak at least one more podium into this season.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Riding, and the big plans

So recently I talked about big plans that I was formulating. Time to announce them... but first an explanation. I was really bummed that I couldn't do Transwisconsin. I am sure I would have been in over my head, I just don't have the experience bike-packing, or bike-camping, or whatever you call it. I am also sure that you don't get that experience unless you go out and do it, maybe have some small failures, and build from there. Since I have already decided that TransWisconsin is going to be a for-sure event for me next year, I need to start getting experience now. So I started inventorying what equipment I would need and decided that first, as much as it pains me to say, I am going to want gears. Having to stand and climb hill after hill on a potentially 35 or more pound bike just isn't very enticing. Also, as I found out on my failed gravel ride, if I get into soft road, or sandy/muddy sections I quickly become very overgeared unless when on the road I am significantly undergeared. So I contacted Waltworks about modifying a XT M770 9 speed cassette to fit my Chris King singlespeed hub. I now have a five speed that allows me to run a 36t up front with a 18,21,24,28,32 spread in the back. Gears- Check. Now that is figured out, mostly, but how will I carry all of my stuff? I have a Carousel Design Works seatbag, and Epic Designs framebag, and two Epic Ride Research feedbags, but was missing some much needed storage space. I e-mailed Eric at Revelate Designs (formerly Epic designs) and now have a new and improved handlebar bag coming. I think this should be able to store everything that I need as far as shelter, clothing, sleeping gear, food, and water. I hope it does because I am going to go ride Wisconsin for 7-10 days in August. I am hoping to start in Eau Claire and ride to Neilsville (Levis Trow Mounds), Wausau (Nine Mile), and maybe a couple in between. The 10 possible day trip should cover about 500-600 miles depending on how much riding is done each day at the trails. I am hoping that I'll get some guest appearances from friends, but mostly I just want to try and survive and enjoy being gone for a few days. It will be coming off the heels of RAGBRAI and I'll need to unwind.

Now I just need to decide on bike set-up details. What tires will be able to roll well riding between trails and on the trails? What bike? Sounds stupid, but I have the Soul Dillinger set up now. It has the Fox suspension fork on it, and is a little more relaxed riding. Is there any way I can NOT ride the Eriksen? I would have to get new drop-outs (no problem) and run full-length cable housing (no problem). I think that the Niner fork and overall comfort of the Eriksen... plus the fact I love it makes me think I need to get on the horn with Paragon Machine Works and get some geared drop-outs.

Happy Fourth of July. I hope to get some riding in on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th... (depending on how the weekend goes)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Long time no post= long post

This is going to be a long one, so feel free to break up my rambling into sections... or just give up completely, I wouldn't hold it against you. I've been in Chariton for a full month now. Things are good... I think. It is hard to determine what is a success and what is not. I won't say failure because worst case scenario the cycling community stays stagnant and people just do their own thing. I guess it is easiest to break it in the good and the not-as-good.

The good: I have had at least two other people every week on our Tuesday night road ride which heads 15 miles, gets some food, and 15 miles back. People are now riding in pacelines, and starting to understand pulling and rotating. I would guess the average is six people. Connecticut Yankee Peddaler is catching itself up. We now are carrying more cycling clothing, and have been steadily selling bikes while still staying ahead of our labor schedule. We now have the beginning of an in-town trail/path system that hopefully will provide the community 10-12 miles or safe roads/paths/sidewalks to ride on.

The not-as-good: It is the same people every week, so I am not really seeing growth of any kind. People are still far to cautious/ skeptical about going out for a ride of any kind of distance, and I can't figure out how to push them. The in-town trail has legs, but needs many more people supporting it for it to happen at all. I still can't convince people that $600 for a road bike is not "a lot of money". I have worked on more bikes that, to put it lightly need to die, than I can shake my head at.

Another month and a week or two more to go. Hopefully some strides will be made soon. I think people want to help, they just don't know how yet.

Riding has been a downer for me just like for everyone else in the Midwest. I haven't been able to get on good singletrack, or get a good gravel ride in for a few weeks. I have done a decent amount of road riding, getting 100 miles or so in a week. I tried to head out on some gravel last week and failed miserably. I rode myself into a level b road that was just too much. 90 degrees and five inch deep mud just sapped all of my energy as I trudged for 30+ minutes to cover seven tenths of a mile. I had hoped for 60, planned for 100, and covered 26... epic fail. I have a "Road to Nowhere" that I ride two or three times a week. 20 miles with 700 feet of climbing over 8 climbs. It's a good work out, and can be done in close to an hour if I am motivated... it has also successfully blown up a co-rider each of the last two rides.

Speaking of riding and gravel I finally made my choice. I am totally freaking out about this bike. If you haven't checked out my facebook lately (good for you) I have been obsessing about what cross bike I was going to get. Let's just make it clear right now that the bike is going to be my gravel bike. I want a bike for Transiowa next year, Dirty Kanza, and those other types of races. I love doing them on a singlespeed, but I would like to see what I could do if I could keep up from the beginning. That being said, I have always said that I wished I could get excited about cyclocross. I know it doesn't play to my strengths, but the environment is always awesome, and 'cross is just plain fun, so I needed a bike that could handle both. This ruled out bikes like the Salsa Vaya (too gravel oriented) or something like a carbon Ridley (very race oriented, no bottle mounts). So far I have "decided" on a: Trek XO2, Yeti Arc-x, Specialized Crux Carbon Pro, Salsa Chilli Con Crosse, Redline Conquest Team. Literally was ready to order each one of these at a specific time, but it never quite worked out. I have spent a lot of time talking to Matt Gersib, Salsa team rider, and throwing all of these ideas around. I formally met Matt at the Bone Bender race and we were on the same page immediately. Matt has been in the endurance game and does really well. We talked a few times during Dirty Kanza, and I am lucky that I get to dip into his wealth of knowledge in regards to riding, bikes, life in general. Anyways, we had been talking about how Salsa is really changing the direction of their company and seem to be catering to people who love the adventure. They are catering to people who don't consider a wrong turn wrong, its just another way. Check the line up out if you haven't. In my opinion, and for me personally, Salsa is doing more correct than any other company in the cycling industry. I don't think they have a weak link in the line-up (except those small wheel bikes, but I'll let it go). Back to focus: we talked about bikes, talked about possibilities, and talked about road blocks in the way of obtaining them. Well, thanks to Bruce at Healthy Habits and Matt for hooking it up and helping me out this is seemingly going to be the build of my new geared 'cross bike (a couple things are coming off of the road bike for now):

Frame: Salsa La Cruz Ti
Fork: Winwood Carbon (have to figure this one out)
HD: Chris King - Pewter
Bars: Deda Zero - gunmetal
Stem: Deda Zero - gunmetal
Shifters: Sram Rival
F&R Derailleurs: Sram Rival
Brakes: Avid Ultimate - gunmetal
Crank: Sram Rival
Seatpost: Thomson Masterpiece - black
Saddle: Specialized Phenom - black
Wheels: Chris King - pink, laced to DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims
Tires: Michelin Jet - GREEN
Some things will change but this will get me through the cross season this year. Eventually the plan will be to go to tubeless and then I'll just get new parts for the road bike.

I have one other thing but I'll save that for tomorrow after another 30 mile taco ride. Hopefully I'll also get to report that we had more than six people.

Also I can't figure out how to get pictures up on here when not on my Mac... Windows can suck it.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Updates, and spot tracking of one of my future goals: Transwisconsin. 620 miles self supported from the southern border of Wisconsin to the northern. Grueling does not describe what these riders are facing. Weather has been wet in the Midwest and Wisconsin is no exception. How do you train for something like this? I have a plan.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dropping hints

So a new idea poppd into my head and I AM EXCITED. Here are some hints (and it isn't all new stuff): Walt, adventure, conversion, self-contained. It is good news, and already has the Aaron Robnett stamp of approval, which is really all that matters.

Also the mouth is feeling a little better. I have Nate and Beth's wedding to preside over in one week and if possible the 6 hr race in Boone in two weeks. Other than that I am looking to get a few LONG days on the saddle in preparation for the Levis Trows 100 on July 17th. These are the home of Gnomefest and I have stated that they are my favorite trails I have ever ridden. It is my first attempt at a lap format 100 miler so I am excited to see what the difference is, and it will give me a good idea where I stand in preparation for attempting to do enough of the WEMS races next year to qualify for placing...even if it is DFL.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Got two new posts in my m-o-w-f. Surgery can suck it. Off the bike for a few days now and Nate and Beth's wedding next week is putting the 6hr race in Boone on the endangered list. The worst part of all these surgeries doesn't have anything to do with hurting, its laying around moping because I can't go ride, AND can't just eat my way to happiness. I never thought in my life I would say it, but... ice cream is getting really old. Off to numb myself out with some pills.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dirty Kanza

I don't know if anything I write can do this one justice. This is just one of those things. Even writing this now I don't know what I can say that could explain how I felt during the ride, and I don't think just laying it out like a normal race can really capture the essence of the race. I guess I am just going to write what I would say to Joel Dyke and Jim Cummins:

Thank you... thank you. Dirty Kanza took me places on my bike that I had never been to, and I am not specifically talking geographically. I felt a new level of pain on the hills and in the heat. This was countered by the peaks of happiness while riding the last stretch home or bombing loose gravel at 30 mph. At times I couldn't decide whether I wanted to laugh or cry. The terrain was beautiful, and the Flint Hills are so aptly named. The heat was killer; at times almost literally. The time you two spend preparing this race (with help from others) is so obvious that it made me want to help tear down...if I could have moved. The camraderie and mutual respect is evident as people who have wrecked themselves for 13+ hours (13 for Cornbread, + for everyone else) stay around and cheer vehemently for people they know and people they have never met. Everyone who has participated in this race knows what it takes to endure until the finish; they know the meaning of "epic". Dirty Kanza got everything I had, and everything I could muster. I felt overwhelmed numerous times in the last 20 miles, once so much I had to get off and walk. None of these times had anything to do with physical fatigue. I battled demons like everyone else, and somehow came out the victor. I said many times that I didn't know if I would do this race again, but as I sit today, and even on the car ride home I caught myself saying, "next year I'll". Keep me on the e-mail list. Thanks to you both for your hard work. I loathe and appreciate it... more of the latter.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dirty Kanza

150 or so miles this last weekend prepped me for DK. I think my gear is ready. I have a nasty nasty sunburn and had some saddle sore issues that I think should be resolved. Now, I just wait and then hope for the best. There will be a write up for sure. AND I have some pictures to go up, some new, some old. Wish me luck.

Chequamegon part 2

Matt and I took off onto the singletrack, which due to the alternative route I had taken, was very familiar. We tore through the first sections of singletrack. I was really happy to be riding with Matt. We seem to have very similar menatlities, thoughts on cycling, and with both of us on singlespeeds we rode very similarly keeping a good pace through all of the winding climbs. The sections of singletrack lasted maybe 15 miles or so before we hit a gravel section. I paused and told Matt to go ahead because I had considered waiting for Nick, and also just needed to grab a bite to eat. I knew there was a "magic stop" around mile 80 and figured that there HAD to at least be water there so I was drinking much more frewquently, just trying to keep the energy up. I still felt like my legs had a lot of juice in them, and after asking two guys if they had seen a rider in green on a purple bike (Nick), and hearing no, I decided to move on and tackle the next long section of gravel road by myself. Up and down the familiar hills I knew that the next turn was a snowmobile trail that had an arrow. I passed a few guys debating whether or not a certain ATV trail was the route. I simple stated, "I know the turn is marked." and then kept on going. Coming to the bottom of the turn I saw my friend Butch, from Gnomefest, pedalling around the top of the next hill. "Come on Butch!" as I turned down the doubletrack. He caught up and thanked me as we rode together for a while. Through a nasty sand area I left Butch and continued trudging along by myself. I caught back up to Matt at another cross-road around mile 78. We had differing opinions on which route to take and I stood around knowing that a few people were close behind. A group of three caught up and confirmed what I had been thinking. A minute later we were heading towards the resort and the aforementioned "magic spot". More conversation and planning happened as we cruised through parking lots and the resort. Hitting singletrack once again we trudged forward. I took a drink of my water and realized that I was running very low. I asked about the water spot, and found out to my dismay that I had missed it somewhere in the parking lot. TROUBLE. The day was getting hotter, I was getting tired, and I had little to no water left. I had to step back my effort and it wasn't easy as we were in the most difficult section of trail. Our group met up with another group that reunited me with Mr. Farrow and Matt. That picked up my spirits and I began to forget about running low on water until we hit another gravel section and I had the only bout of cramps of the entire race. The cramps necessitated me drinking the rest of the water that I had, and barring getting lost again I only had gravel and one nasty climb that, at that point, I was more than willing to walk if need be. I felt ok about the water situation and figured I was on my way home. I rode the gravel and at a fork I saw Charlie reading a sign. We followed the road and pounded down some gravel which luckily felt mostly downhill. After arriving at a new fork in the road our world exploded. We looked at one of the trail maps and realized that we were basically as far from where we needed to be as possible. Charlie started cursing, I started cursing, and we wondered what to do. I knew that I could get us back based off of my gps and new understanding of the map, but niether of us had water, and we were going to have at least another hour of riding. No choice but to turn around and trudge up the previously glorious downhill which had morphed into a bastard of a climb. We caught a couple of other groups who were struggling more physically than Charlie and I, and thank God one saint of a man gave us a bit of his extra water which propelled me through the final five or six miles of gravel. We rolled in as a group of five at 6:33, 11 hours 33 minutes after starting. I had about 10:15 of riding. The 45th place that I was slotted into doesn't really do the ride I had justice. I have said though that if you aren't in the top five or so in a race like this then the exact place you finish doesn't matter as much. I did find comfort in the fact that most of the guys that I rode with up to mile 85 or 90 finished in the top 25, and know that if it wasn't for my poor planning in regards to water, and the final wrong turn that set us at least another 30-45 minutes back I would have also been in that top 25 group. I felt good the entire time. The legs were there and I climbed as well as I had ever done in the past. No big wrecks, which was one of my goals, although there were a few close calls. Overall a good race, a great time, with great people, and a for-sure-will-do next year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chequamegon 100 write up... finally

So I am slow to recap this race, but in my defense I think some people are still recovering so that is how I justify it.
We woke up around six with the race starting at seven. Luckily we were pretty well packed up the night before, because when we arrived we had enough time to get our bikes out of the car and deliver our drop bags to the truck. I got to chat with Marty from Prairie Peddler for about 15 seconds before Joe Mieser, race coordinator, took off down the road and beckoned for us to follow. After a quick race briefing the race was on. We took off down a paved road before hitting some double-wide grassy trails with singletrack mixed in for short bits. A steep climb, that had Brian Fuhrman, Matt Braun, and myself running up the side while geared guys spun, seperated the group a bit. I found myself falling off the back of the front group and deciding that there was no point of killing myself trying to hang on. I rode a few miles by myself until on a stretch of xc ski trails before meeting up with a group of 15 or so in the first sustained stretch of singletrack. The pace felt good, everyone was riding well and allowing passes when needed. Before I knew it, we were 20 miles in and at the first check point. I felt great and didn't need any water so Matt, whom I recognized from Transiowa, and I decided to make it a very quick stop and headed out with three others. We worked through the next 5-10 miles of trail before picking up Mr. Charlie Farrow and a couple others on the xc ski trails. This group was awesome. With Charlie's regular "You look strong today.", and power positive thinking we held what I thought was a really good pace. Cruising through singletrack and up and down the gravel road stretches I began to get really comfortable...too comfortable apparently because I began to rely too heavily on other people's navigational skills. I want to make it clear that I am not blaming anyone for the next hour of wrong turns, trail guesses, and total lack of direction besides myself. I thought that at mile 46 we were supposed to turn, but I wasn't going to argue with people who "knew the trail". After much debating, riding, more debating, standing...lots of standing, a gentleman named Aaron said he KNEW the trail would get us to the Namekegon Town Hall, which was the sight of the drop bags. My response was, "I don't care if it is road, gravel, or singletrack, if you guarantee you can get me there, I will follow." He guaranteed and I followed, but the group had totally split apart and morale wasn't as high as it had once been. Rolling into the checkpoint with 61 miles instead of 55 wasn't as bad as I was prepared for. Unfortunately, I saw many of the leaders riding past me as I took the trail into town hall, that we were supposed to take out. I ate my jerky, drank a bottle of water, had a cookie, some mixed fruit, and generally just gathered myself. Nick showed up only about five or ten minutes behind me, and I began to consider waiting for him and just riding together. Then from beside me a "hey" came and there was Matt standing straddling his bike. He asked, "Are you about to head out?" All I could think to say was, "Whenever you're ready." We took off hoping for 40 more miles of singletrack, and knowing that there could possibly a lot more.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Long time no post

I haven't posted anything in quite a while. I'll say I was too busy or something like that, but honestly I just haven't wanted to post anything. I spent hours and hours contemplating the Chequamegon 100. I worried for hours and hours about food, water, my fitness, travel, everything pertinent and many other things that aren't. Now its over. I finished.

Previous to Wisconsin and Chequamegon I had the opportunity to head out to Montana to see Karen. She graduated with honors from one of the top journalism schools in the US. The University of Montana is the only school in the nation to rank in the top ten in: print, radio/tv, and photo journalism. I am really proud of her, and had no doubts that she would succeed.
After graduation festivities and spending time with her parents and sister Tart, we embarked on the 20 hour drive home. Karen was a super-trooper and drove the entire way because I can't drive a manual... yeah I know, I'll learn sometime. We stopped for an overnight in Spearfish, SD after day one, and spent some time in Wall, SD at Wall Drug. If you are ever driving through South Dakota stop at Wall Drug. It is a crazy little tourist village with a animatronic dinosaur, mountable jackelope, shooting range, coffee shops, and more personalized mugs/signs/nic-nacs than you can shake a stick at.

We arrived Monday night, late, and on Thursday we departed again for Wisconsin. Karen and Agent accompanied Nick and I up to Nick's parents cabin which allowed us to stay only a couple hours from Seely where the race was being held. Friday sent us to Hayward to relax and prepare for what was about to be the longest and most trying day I, and many others, have ever had on a bike. I'll give the race a complete write up of its own, but the basic details are this: 11 hours of total time, 10 of it riding, the last hour without water, plenty of really good companions including officially meeting Mr. Charlie Farrow, lots of getting lost, beef jerky, dried fruits (my new jam), pop-tarts (of course), and bears/foxes/wildlife. Big thanks to Joe and Tim for putting on the race, and one thing in regards to the cue cards/course marking: Its all part of the game. Could it have been better? Probably. Could it have been worse? Definitely. If it happens next year I'll be there again. Now to focus on Dirty Kanza and 200 miles of gravel fun... and getting a real race write up done.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Finishing finals, flying out to see Karen, driving back with her, Chequamegon 100, Chariton. No riding, surgery kept me down, rain, so much to do, focus has been off. Will reap what I sow at Cheq 100, could be a very brutal day. I think I need to figure out a way to ride with Steve even while I am in Chariton. See what Cheq 100 brings, two weeks later: Dirty Kanza. Then a six hour in Des Moines and a race every month with the ultimate goal being winning Gravel World Championships on a Singlespeed. It is a VERY lofty goal. I had better get my act together.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chequamegon 100

16 days away is the first annual Chequamegon 100 mountain bike race; epic. This is probably going to be the most intense day I have ever had on a bike. Maybe not counting the wreck a year ago or so, but we will see how I feel when/if I finish. 100 miles self supported. The self supported part is what puts it ahead of when I did the 80 mile Ouachita Challenge. All your water, all your food, clothes if you need, equipment, tools. So many things have to be accounted for. Thankfully, I do feel a level of confidence thanks to the hours on the gravel with Steve, and the way I felt at the six hour race. I know I can physically pedal a bike at least ten hours. I know that for at least seven hours (I still had some gas in the tank at the end of six and a half) I can ride singletrack at a 10-11 mph pace. I am doing it with the Niner carbon fork. This will be my longest rigid mountain ride by 50 miles. I think I am prepared with my food. I know at least I can carry enough food and water to travel 50 miles of singletrack. I am thinking 32x18 because if I walk so be it. At the same time, what if just dropping to a 19t makes it so I can climb a few more hills. I know that at the Dakota 5-0 last year I ran 32x19 and wished I had run 32x20 because the climbs were grueling and the downhills were so fast that I was spun out anyways. I think that the ability to spin more averages itself out over a longer period of time. I felt similar but not as strongly after Ouachita this year. I am hoping to get at least two: three to four hour sessions on singletrack before the 14th which is when I fly out to see Karen. Glad I can vent.

Here are some of the details of the Chequamegon 100:
"Bring the equipment, food, and hydration you need to get to the finish! There will be no drop bags, or aid stations of any kind. There will be 1-2 places for water refills." -Joe Meiser, co-creator.

The course will be consisting of singletrack, doubletrack and fire road over all 4 major trail areas of the CAMBA system, Hayward, Cable, Rock Lake and Namakagon. While it is not yet finalized, it will consist of at least 70, and maybe up to 85 miles of singletrack, while not lapping over the same piece again and again. And of course, it will be 100 miles in total. With over 300 miles of trail to choose from (see graphic), there is a lot to ride, and the route will only be finalized and issued the Monday before race day. It will be issued in GPX, map and cue sheet formats, you pick your favorite. - the crazy thing about this is that I don't think that the trail will be marked at all. You must navigate the singletrack. I hope my dirtcat navigation skills from GF come back out.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I have been doing a lot of stuff lately and haven't had much of a chance to post as regularly as I want. I HAVE been able to take a bunch of good pictures. I'll let them somewhat speak for themselves. Surgery on Monday is keeping me off the bike for a few days but then time to unleash hell in preparation for the Chequamegon 100.

Went to Sylvan Island to ride with Seth (his first time there) and Brian (his 1,000,435th time there)

Had some crazy weather too. A double rainbow is a rare sight.

Lots of grilling. Buffalo burgers the other night thanks to Tom and Wanda.
Unicorn cuts of meat thanks to Tonya.
Got this
It went on this
Which weighs this now
Without these on it...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April 27 metric by amblake50 at Garmin Connect - Details

April 27 metric by amblake50 at Garmin Connect - Details

Great customer service/Gravel metric/random elses

I have had some great dealings with companies in the past week or so and I wanted to start by giving the credit to these companies and getting the names out. First off, Edge Composites put themselves back into my good graces after the Aaron thing. I was riding down at Sylvan only a couple days before Ouachita and I ran directly into a rock and it flatted my tires by putting two holes in it, and worse than that it put a crack/dent into the bead of my rim...epic fail. So I rode it and after doing some real mountain biking I could tell that the tire was losing some air very gradually, and it wasn't doing it just casually riding on the streets and it wasn't losing air otherwise. So I called the guys at Edge, talked to Johnny who was the one who took care of Aaron, told him the story and he told me to send it in. I figured what the heck, regular crash replacement was $300 and either way I had to get the rim replaced for that amount. I heard from them after about a week and they said they would warranty my rim. I told them I ran it directly into a rock and they warrantied it. I like that. I got the rim the other day including new spoke nipples and rim strip. Very pleased. The second was in dealing with and my Magicshine 900 light. I am just going to post the e-mails, ALL SENT TODAY, on Saturday, as a testament to their customer service.
I wrote:
I have had my Magicshine 900 racer kit for about 4 months now and love it. I have turned other guys in our shop onto the light and have had great luck so far. With the exception of one of the battery packs doesn't seem to take a charge. When I plug it into the charger the light on the charger goes green immediately. When I plug the light onto it it doesn't turn on. The other pack works perfectly. Is this a possible warranty/replacement issue?

They wrote:
Hi Adam

Yes we will warranty that for you, a replacement battery will be sent out
on Monday, you will receive further warranty info via separate email later
today when the warranty is processed. Thanks for your support.

Is this still the current shipping address?

Adam Blake
552 Foster Rd
Iowa City, Iowa 52245


I think that is customer service at the highest level. No questions, prompt shipment out, I assume I am sending the battery pack back, but they are sending a replacement out immediately. This Magicshine light is one of my favorite purchases this year. Good run times, durable light, VERY reasonably priced IMO. I don't know what I was doing riding trails previously without a nice helmet mounted light. I wish I could carry these at the shop... sell the crap out of them.

On a bummer note I did not get a century in this month. I am kind of sad because I didn't think that April would be the month I messed up on. I still have to look back onto this month fondly with the victory at the six hour. Last Wednesday was my last real good chance at getting in 100. The problem is that I couldn't go out until after work. I was planning on leaving straight from the shop ad stupidly forgot my wallet at home. I had cash but being out on the gravel roads with no ID and minimal funds is not a situation that I like to be in during the day; at night it is just not a good idea. I headed out westward and eventually looped up to Oxford. I stopped there and had some pizza and a Red Bull. Then I got on some really loose, freshly gated gravel. After a squirrelly truck pass I decided that 100 miles were not in my future and headed towards North Liberty. I added on riding the Coralville trail at the end of the ride and had a really good 62 mile ride with some good gravel, some nasty gravel, some level b's, and then singletrack. I am happy with that. I felt good all night. I loaded the bike down with four bottles, food, clothes. I basically tried to pack like if I was headed to Chariton or a ride like Dirty Kanza. The ride info is up above. I will keep doing the ride details, but I have to stay on top of it a little better.

I am going riding. I have been riding some new in-town trails that are progressing and shaping up really nicely. Another endorsement: Stan's No Tubes make all the difference. This would have been a flat in a tubed system, but with the sealant and some shaking I was back in shape. If you aren't tubeless on your mountain bike you should seriously consider the advantages and benefits of tubeless technology. The white on the tire is where the latex sealant sealed up a hole in the tire.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Constantly playing catch-up

First I would like to point out that the new picture up top was taken by Angy Snoop. She is at like every race supporting her husband Keith, and taking awesome pictures on the trails. I would also like to point out that it features the back of the NEW 2010 Q7 race kits. The 20th annual Decorah time trials were the first testing grounds for the new jackets, jerseys, bibs, socks, and wool hats... that's right baby; Q7 has style. I'll talk more about the time trial in a bit. Other shots from Angy:

I have been loving the grill lately. Cooking is probably my second favorite hobby behind all things bike. I am thinking that the blog is going to start seeing more posts about what I cook and such. Roasted garlic infused butter covered pieces of bread, balsamic vinegar and oil asparagus, and a 10 oz New York strip (with a little bit of garlic butter on top) made up my last grilling exploit.

(Agent was waiting for his pieces of steak... he is so spoiled.)

Decorah TT
The long and short of it is: It rained a lot. The trails, especially the uphill sections, were super slick. I just don't have any explosiveness in my legs. The crew in Decorah is awesome and I cannot wait to get up there many more times in the year just to ride with them. Aaron did awesome finishing 4th overall and 1st in 24-25, thus earning Q7 its third podium of the year... Lisa and Wanda at Sylvan Island started us off. I could go into more details, and probably will later. It is late now though, and I must be going to bed. Time to start thinking and dreaming about the 100 miler.

Even though I didn't fare as well in the time trial, I don't have high expectations for a race of that style. I just went up and enjoyed riding with good people on sweet trails. Oh yeah, and watching Sov ride out of the trails with the easy-up on the back of the Big Dummy was pretty sweet. Probably not quite as sweet as seeing a Burley trailer do a barrel roll, but that isn't my story to tell.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Random thoughts and a busy weekend

So... I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. This summer holds a brand new challenge for me. I am going back to Chariton to help Dave at Connecticut Yankee Pedaller, and to help develop and progress the cycling community in town. It is a big deal for me. I am really interesting in the bike advocacy type careers and I feel like this could be one of the best test grounds for that. Chariton needs a lot of help as far as having an established cycling community, with a sense of permanence. I am basically going to dedicate all of the time I can spare to riding- by myself and with groups, working-in the shop with customers and repairs, and in the community to develop a friendly and productive cycling atmosphere, and educating- people who are new to cycling and people who have been riding for a long time, on new products and innovations in cycling. I am hoping for a lot, and asking a lot of people. I am needing people to alter their lives so that this idea of mine can possibly come to fruition.

I am volunteering tomorrow for Transiowa. Working checkpoint number two, but I don't think I am supposed to say where it is. The uncertainty is part of the T.I. experience I guess. Taking that self-contained idea to the extreme. I was talking recently to a friend who also enjoys the endurance aspect of cycling about how: we enjoy it, but some people are obsessed with it. Those people are super happy about things like Transiowa, and the rain that has been falling. I am super happy about volunteering this year so I can guarantee myself an entry next year.

I ordered a Niner carbon fork today. I talked to Eriksen guys about Ti forks as I was considering a Blacksheep fork, and determined that my best value would lie in the carbon fork, but I haven't ruled out a Ti fork from James in the future. The fork could be here in the next week and I and going to return to riding rigid 29er with a 2.4 Schwalbe Racing Ralph for some suspension for most races, but will probably run the bouncy fork for races like Levis Trows 100 and future Ouachita Challenges.

Aaron and I are headed up to Decorah for the time trial this weekend. Q7 representing, hopefully well. We got a taste of the trails after heading up there Thursday and being shown the trails by Mr. Jeff O'Gara. The trails are really cool with some serious elevation changes mixed in with a constant supply of rocks and roots. Up goes up most definitely comes down when referring to the trails, and if it is muddy it could get nasty fast. We'll see how everything works out; I got my bike all set-up tonight and am jazzed for Sunday. Again: Q7= World domination.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Catch-up and Bone Bender results

I have been lazy with my posts, but the good thing is I have been doing a lot of riding. I got a good ride in on Monday, rode out with Nick and rode a night lap at Sugar with a lot of good folks, and rode a mix of gravel/road/singletrack for 62 miles on Thursday. I took a video of the section of trail at the beginning of the south side after the first hairpin. Riding that s-section that is rooty is pretty tricky with only one hand on the bar.

That's a little taste of the trails that helped get me ready for the Bone Bender six hour race.

*Race Report*
Bone Bender six hour race in Paradise Missouri was Sunday. A six hour race essentially is seeing how many laps you can START within six hours. You have to finish the last one for it to count but as long as you start it by 5:59 you can do one more. Nick and my dad accompanied me down on Saturday night. Nick and I both rode singlespeed solo six hour class. About 15 Rassy guys and a gal were down there as well as Dennis, Wanda, and Matt. The trails were in pretty darn good shape; you could tell that they had done a lot of work in the last few days. The trails are pretty rough, maybe even more than Sugar, and really rocky in a couple of sections. Laps ended up being around 11.2 miles. As always thanks a lot to Q7 for the support and awesome clothes, and thanks to Dad for filling bottles and generally making life easier.

The race started with a Le Mans start. You run to your bike which you placed on the road somewhere. This video is with race director Chris Locke and shows the start of the race:
I got into the singletrack in a long line right behind Nick. He made a few passes and I would follow. I think he had to get into the endurance mindset and realized that he would benefit more from just riding smooth and that the passes would happen with time. We rode at a good pace and made passes on the connecting asphalt sections and field sections. The trails were more technical than I was expecting, and in the first rock section Nick heard a guy behind us telling me that a tube had fallen out of my saddlebag and was wrapping up in my disc rotor. I got the bike stopped just in time to pull the shredded tube out before it locked up the wheel. Crisis averted, but I lost about 10 spots screwing around with it. I just kept riding though knowing that it was a long race ahead of me and that things would work themselves back out. I made some more passes and was right behind Nick heading out of the trails and through the start/finish line for the first time. We rode into the trails and at the first asphalt section I tried to prompt Nick to pick up the pace with me and he grabbed my wheel for a bit, but slowly fell back off. I felt pretty good going into the second lap and continued to weed my way through people. There were a lot of riders, not sure the total yet, but I would guess 250 maybe. I just kept trying to ride smoothly and stay on top of my nutrition. I drank Hammer Perpetuem during the second lap, but just water the rest of the time. At lap three the course was beginning to clear out some, and I decided I wanted to push the pace a bit. I was moving really well and then caught up to the back of the pack once more. I ended up still having a good lap though, and I knew that going into the fourth lap I would have a better understanding of what I would need to do for the rest of the race. Lap four was the first lap without the three hour class and the trails opened WAY up. You could really develop a better pace and ride more consistently even if fatigue was setting in. Went end over end once on lap four, but nothing too bad. I wanted to eat some real food, but my stomach was having no part of anything solid, and Gu's were not texturally something I was digging so I relied on Gu Chomps to help keep my energized. Going into lap five Dad told me that he thought that either I was far ahead of everyone or far behind one guy. It was hard sometimes to determine who was solo vs duo and people got really spread out. Rode lap five and was starting to feel it, but I had planned to ride for six-plus hours so I knew I had one more lap to do. At the beginning of the sixth lap the official asked me if "(you) got one more lap left in you?" I responded, "Did everyone else quit?" Once he shook his head I simply said, "Well I had better have one left because I have to do it." The sixth lap was really brutal. My arms and legs were both really starting to fatigue. I was definitely on danger control in the rocks and root sections. I didn't want to risk a stupid flat tire or wreck on the last lap. I rolled in from my sixth lap at 6:26. Good enough for FIRST PLACE in the singlespeed class. Whoop Whoop.

Race stats: 67.18 miles, 6 hours 26 minutes, 2304 feet of elevation, 6 laps, 3 Gu's, 2 packages of Gu Chomps, 1 package of Clif Bloks, 24 oz of Perpetuem, 200 oz water, 2 Endurolyte pills. Post-race: Burger King smokey chedder burger and onion rings, then a DQ brownie batter blizzard.

First place... I was so happy. I really wanted this one. I didn't race quite as good as I thought I could at Ouachita and Sylvan, and I was beginning to become worried that the training that I had done really wasn't good for the style of riding I am doing now. At the two hour mark I felt real good though, and at three hours I began to have more faith that the goal I had set to try and win this race was definitely a possibility. At one point I thought to myself that one year, one week, and one day ago I was in an ambulance after cutting my face off and smashing seven teeth out of my mouth. That added a little emotional fuel to the fire. I was really happy that I didn't end up cramping at all really, only felt pukey for a little bit, and was able to only allow my lap times to fluctuate nine minutes, and that I could have ridden the last lap faster if need be. I really really wanted to win this race, and now I just need to ride this momentum through the season into all the other races.