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.