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.