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)