Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Post for 2008

I wanted to take a moment and wish everyone, cyclist or not, a Happy New Year. I'm looking forward to many miles on pavement, single track, and gravel with my friends old and new, along with those I have yet to meet, in 2009.

For those of you in the Des Moines area, The Degree Ride is tomorrow morning at 10 AM. The roads are clear and the weather will be nice. Get an early start on your 2009 mileage. Hope to see all of you there tomorrow morning. I'll be there at 9 or so for coffee and conversation.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Getting Fit

Been pretty quiet on the riding front lately. I've hit a couple of trainer sessions at Lou's, and snuck in cold, windy two hour mtb ride at Big Creek with Taylor, Sedore, Bruce and Kurt, but that's been about it. The holidays combined with a rather poorly timed head cold have even kept me off the trainer, let alone having a ride outside. Things are better now, and I hope that a streak of decent weather will let me commute into work this (short) week.

I did manage to schedule a road bike fit on the 26th with Adam at Rasmussen Bike Shop. Adam used the Specialized BG Fit II System during the session. I can say that this was a great fit experience for me. Adam started out by asking me number of questions about issues I was having while on the bike. Adam checked me for indications of a tilting pelvis, and leg length discrepancies. I made him aware of the pigeon toe that I have in my lower legs. When I mentioned my tight post-ride IT bands and soleus, he took the time to check the flexibility of my IT bands, hamstrings, and back. Next, Adam had me perform a couple of knee bends so he could watch the movement of my knees. He then put a set of footbeds underneath my feet, and had me repeat the knee bends, while he explained the theory behind their use. I noticed an immediate change in my knee stability with the foot beds underneath my feet. Convinced, I had him trim them to fit my shoes and put them in place.

With these checks out of the way, Adam prepped the computer and stood and watched while I warmed up on the trainer. The next change we made was adjusting my seat forward and leveling it out. I tend to run my saddles a bit on the nose high side so I don't feel like I'm sliding off the tip of the saddle. After a bit of time figuring out how to adjust my American Classic seat post, I was on the bike again. As soon as I was on the drops, I noticed how relaxed my elbows were and now naturally my hands went to the drops. Although it felt different, I knew that the seat adjustment was a good thing.

Next, Adam started monitoring my pedal stroke using the computer, two small video cameras, and two orange dots that were stuck to my knees. We spent the next hour playing connect the dots with the bottom, middle and top of my pedal stroke and making adjustments to both the cleats and the shims underneath the footbeds in my shoes. It took a good amount of time, a number of changes before Adam felt happy with the results. The post fit video shows my knees having a nice linear movement throughout the entire pedal stroke. Before the fit, my left knee was moving in a large arc or an oval. From the short time I was on the trainer in the shop, I felt like I was able to put more power to the pedals, as well as pedal more smoothly.

I'm hoping to get on the trainer for a couple of hours in the next day or two to see how it feels for an extended period of time. I'm sure it will take some time for my body to adapt to the new position. That said, I feel that the money and time I expended on the fit will be well worth the investment. Adam really took his time during the process and made sure that everything was as ideal as it could be, all without making any unnecessary changes to either me or my bike. If you haven't had a bike fit done, or it's been a few years since you had one performed, I would strongly suggest talking to Adam and scheduling a fit session with him.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cold Ride

Met Kurt, Kyle, Bruce and Taylor out at Big Creek this afternoon to ride the snowmobile trails. 30 minutes of attempting that and we figured out that the snow was not in the right shape for bike riding. We spent the next 90 minutes riding on the roads around the lake, and at some points, on the lake itself. The winds picked up while we were riding and the temperature dropped. By the time we finished up, the winds were blowing at 20 and gusting to 30 and temp had dropped to 7. A good two hour workout, and some good mental training. Meeting Lou, Pete and Pig for an indoor training fest tomorrow morning. Windchills are going to be too low for even this hardy soul to head outside.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December = Good times

Has been a varied week on the biking front. Four days worth of commuting this week, despite the snow and the cold. This has kept me in shape, but cemented my decayed mental state with a good number of my coworkers. The good thing is that I really don't care. :) I felt like getting some extra miles in on Monday, so I met up with Kent and rolled down to the shop where Stirling remove a crank spider for him. We had a good chuckle at the guy who thought that studded tires were necessary already. Afterwards, I rolled with Kent to his house and then took Beaver Ave and the Trestle to Trestle trail home. Bonus 20 miles for me. Would be nice if businesses kept the sidewalks/trails in front of their businesses in better shape, but no issues for now. 23 miles of cold pavement for the day.

Wednesday found me heading out after work with Kent again. We rolled black label down to Denmans and cut first tracks through about half of the single track there (forgetting that Rick Blackford was headed out from the shop about the same time). Kent was having a tough time in the snow with his commuter geared Haro Mary, so we dropped onto Dirty Express about halfway through. Had a quick chat with Squirrel, Rick and Conlan and then rode black label and pavement to Kent's. I hooked back through Windsor Heights for some food and poker with friends. 3 miles of single track and maybe 12 or so on pavement for the day

Thursday's commute was damn cold, especially going home. Second time this week to bust out with the ski mask so my eyeballs didn't freeze solid. 6 miles of commute

Friday, I rode into work, and then raced downtown afterwards, getting some odd looks from cars as I passed them both along Ingersoll as well as between stoplights downtown. I met Kathy, Dan, Lacey, Tobin and Ellen at The Royal Mile for dinner and drinks at 6 PM, before The Nada's Silent Night show at Hoyt Sherman Auditorium. I snuck over to Carl's Place for Newcastle with the CITA boys before heading back over. Everyone else sat in the auditorium and enjoyed the show. I, along with Ryan, Squirrel, Ed, Kent, Sam and Justin spent the show powering 25 strings of christmas lights by powering a generator with a bike. We each rode for two songs, and spent the rest of the time off stage right drinking beer or Templeton and Coke. This was the first year for this, and it was a success. I think plans are in place to power more lights this way next year. Kathy and I headed over to the after party for a bit and then made our way home. I think I passed out in bed about 1 AM. A great day with a number of great friends. Probably 13 miles of cold pavement for the day.

Saturday morning , the alarm went off at 6 AM. Way too early considering the previous evening's frivolity. I got dressed and headed out to meet Sam by 7 AM at the north Sycamore trail head. CITA has taken over the Sycamore 8 trail run. Sam and I loaded up Sam's Bob and headed south along the trail, putting up arrows and signs so the runners could find their way to the finish line. With the trailer, the signage and a couple of stops for coffee, it took us about 90 minutes to mark most of the course. After a quick sweep of the course we headed to the finish for some very welcome soup and hot chocolate. After the last two finishers crossed the line, I helped pack up the truck, and then Kristin Reese and I rode the trail back North. After splitting off from Kristin a couple of miles later, I rode back and collected all of the signs that Sam and I had put up. 18 miles of snowy single track in 30 degree temps.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vacation bike bits

On Tuesday, I met some of my fellow Rassy team mates along with some guys All 9 Yards for a 2.5 hour gravel grind. We headed out of Water Works park towards Cumming and Orilla and then back home through the Booneville gravel road and back in on surface streets. Scott Robinson from A9Y was rollin' single speed and we were riding a similar pace, so I rode with him and the other A9Y guys the entire ride. I finished the ride off with a short run through the frosty Dirty Express single track on my way back the parking lot. The temperature drop and the extra dampness near the river had me wishing for some extra clothing during the latter part of the ride. I now know that it's time to put my thin gloves away and wear a thicker outer layer. Since I screwed up and only tried on one shoe when I was at Rasmussen's on Tuesday, I was forced to ride in my Keens and shoe covers, so my toes were a bit cold as well. A quick run through Jimmy John's on the way home took care of my post ride hunger.

Thanksgiving morning found me meeting Lou, Pete, Pig, Rick, Hollander, Rich, Reed, and Tony at 6:45 for some coffee and breakfast at Hy-Vee. We then rolled out to Ashworth Park for the 9th Annual Turkey Day Ride. I brought both the Karate Monkey and the Singlecross with me. After seeing no other cross bikes, I opted to follow the group lead and ride a mountain bike. After a quick group photo, over 50 riders worked their way through all of the Science Center trails (including a newly opened Rhythm and the Ghost of J11. Squirrel gave us a quick introduction to the new Child's Play and Serpent while we were out and about. The new shoes (now in the right size) were a bit stuff, but worked well. A small amount of cleat adjustment might be needed to dial in the fit better. Ninety minutes later, I was back in the parking lot, shooting the breeze and drinking a cold adult beverage. I quickly loaded the bike up, and raced home in time to throw some food in the oven for our holiday guests and have a few more beverages. Curled up on the couch that night and finally watched Iron Man.

Friday, I was up at 7 and out in the garage starting my BB7 brake install on the Karate Monkey. I had the rotors on and the calipers mounted and adjusted when I was drawn away by the need to take Kathy to the doctor at 10. Eleven hours, and a long time at the ER later, we were home, but it was obvious that I was not going to be making it to Jingle Cross this year.

Saturday I got up, made a french press of Italian Roast for me, breakfast for Kathy, and then went to the garage to finish the BB7 install. I had decided to run full housing for both the front and rear, so my first task was to drill out the existing brake cable braze ons. Lacking a flexible attachment for my either my cordless drill or the Dremel, this took a while to complete. I still need to go back and hit the newly exposed metal with some primer so that it won't rust. A heavy duty cutting wheel on the Dremel made quick, neat work of cutting and sanding both the housing and the brake cable. The result after a couple of hours was a working set of disk brakes. I'll likely spend a bit of time Sunday adjusting the front brake to work better than it currently is. After a short break for lunch, and getting the truck in out of the snow, I moved some bikes around in the garage, and got to work mounting a spare set of SKS fenders and studded tires on the SInglecross. I was going to use a spare wheelset for this, but had completely ignored dish and dropout spacing differences between a single speed and a standard hub. Since my Cayne road bike won't see any use until spring, I used its wheelset insted. A couple of hours and a quick wipedown later, the Singlecross was ready for ice and snow duty.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Catch up post - Nov

I was going through my mailbox tonight and was reminded about the results from this year's IMBCS. I managed to ride my way to a first place showing in the Sport Men's 35+ division. This was not due to any particularly good showing in any event, but making the commitment to race and finish in as many events as possible (you can't kill a camel easily, even in the mountains it seems). I missed one race this year (the season closer at Manawa), and I failed to finish only one of the events that I entered (Seven Oaks).
In the meantime, I'm hoping to bring a better skill set to the line if I decide to enter the IMBCS again in 2009.

Gravel road ride tomorrow night (Tuesday, the 24th). Leaving from the pedestrian bridge in Waterworks park @ 5:30. Bring your lights and be ready for a couple of hours of gravel riding south of town.

The 9th Annual Turkey Day ride is leaving from the Ashworth Park pool at 8:00 AM on Thanksgiving Day. At least one loop of all of the Center Trails should be in order. Figure 1.5 - 2 hours of riding and post ride socializing.

Just not feeling it

Met Lou, Pete, Rick, Cam and one other person for a Sunday morning MTB ride. This is the second fall/winter I've been doing this and it's something that I look forward to. We spend an hour or so drinking coffee and snagging some breakfast before heading out for a couple of hours riding the Center Trails. Yesterday's plan was to ride my November metric century in Denman's. As we hit the trails, some people were out to ride hard, so I let them go while my body came up to speed. I had a lot more miles to ride and I need 30 minutes of riding before I feel warmed up. Rick and I rode Rollercoaster and a lap of Hillside before catching up with everyone and heading into the Denmans/Squirrel's Nest complex. We had picked up Kent Carlson on Hillside and our group grew to seven. Rick and I rode Squirrel's nest backwards and then headed into Denman's to catch up with everyone else. We turned around and played catch up again about 3/4 of the way through. Rick took off to catch up with everyone else, while I took another trip through Squirrel's Nest and made a pass through Rhythm before heading back to the pool. Everyone else was packing up to head out to church or other activities, so I headed off for my second lap through. Rollercoaster & Hillside forward, Squirrel's nest & Denman's in reverse and then forward. Ran into Teri Sue out for a late morning ride on my reverse pass through Denman's we talked for a bit and then went our separate ways.

At this point, I had 32 miles in, the trails were getting greasy, and it was getting close to lunch. I took a break, rode the levee over to BK for a grilled chicken sandwich, and hit some surface streets to get my cell phone I left at Walgreen's during Cranksgiving. As I got back to the pool area, I just wasn't feeling it any more. About halfway up to the crest of Hillside, I turned around and came back down, loaded up the bike and headed home. I thought about grabbing the cross bike and heading west towards Dallas Center to get the last 20 miles or so in, but my mind wasn't into it. I changed out of my wet clothes, snagged a glass of Accelerade and called it a day.

I think I'm done with any more long off road rides for this year. Having to ride a certain distance on a certain surface has taken some of the fun out of riding this last part of the year. I still like riding gravel, but I've given up a lot of road rides and other events this year to do so. I don't really fit into the "roadie" or the "MTB" category like a lot of people around here. I just like to get out on my bike and ride. I won't be trying to get my November or December metric rides in for the Cup O Dirt. It's time to take a break and go for rides because I feel like riding, recharge the batteries for a bit and try and get myself prepared mentally and physically for TransIowa.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Snowy Cranksgiving

About 50 or so riders showed up to take part in PRC's Cranksgiving event to collect items for the Food Bank of Iowa. I was hoping for more riders this year, but I think the snow that started falling an hour before the event scared a lot of people off. I watched the weather and decided to stick with my original plan and run my Cayne single speed for the event. The gearing is spot on for me and the area we were riding in and the snow wasn't sticking. The usual suspects showed up, and then some. Lou decided to just dress nice and bring some stuff to donate. Neither Pete or Squirrel made it this year. Cam and Julie showed up. Kyle Sedore made an appearance. Kent Carlson made his way to the event as well. I got there a bit early, snagged a yogurt and a pumpkin chai and spent the next hour socializing with people as they showed up.

We were given our lists outside and we were off in every direction. I decided to switch things up and run the big loop of MLK, Ingersoll, 42nd, and University in a clockwise direction. It meant that I took MLK downhill with only one thing in my backpack. I picked up heavier things as the ride went on, but by then I was on 42nd and University where the roads were flat. Even with the wet streets and the snow blowing every which direction, I had no traction issues and ended up 2nd in the single speed class. A couple of hours of socializing and some drinks followed while we waited for others to come in and for the prizes to be awarded and the swag give away to complete.

Kyle, Kirk and I left Mars cafe together and rode home until we neared Kyle's place, I pulled in about 4:30, popped the bike in the stand and gave it and the chain a quick wipe down. Gave the Monkey a quick once over before tomorrow's long mileage day. Was going to do gravel only tomorrow, but I might try and get some single track into the equation as well. We'll see how things go. 60 miles at Center doesn't seem like a bad way to spend a 50 degree November day. I'll just take it as it comes and ride what and where I feel like riding.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall has left

While we haven't received any snow yet, mother nature brought a bit of winter to the area this week. This morning's commute temp was 10F with a windchill of 2F. Thankfully the wind was mild and the ride into work did nothing more than burn my lungs. The days earlier week were better, with morning temps in the upper teens to mid 20s. The Long Haul Trucker was the bike of choice this week, other than today when I took the Singlecross in, figuring one gear would make me work harder and stay warmer. It worked during the loosely organized run to Coldstone Creamery that occurred last night. A cold ride for ice cream, but a good way to introduce two friends to the joys and issues of riding in the winter. I'm sure they will be back for more. 9 days of commuting out of the last 10. Odd that I am starting to get into a grove now that the weather has turned cold. Maybe it's because I'm not doing a lot of riding lately, other than my commute to and from work.

I spent a couple of days this week building stoves to use on extended bike rides and camping trips, both of which I want to do more of this year. Rather than being a slave to the convenience store, it makes more sense to be able to carry food with me and eat when and where I want to. This surely would have saved me some issues on my ride out to Whiterock Conservancy earlier this fall. The first one I built was the SuperCat, whose construction went off without a hitch. It's easy to make if you have a can and a paper punch. In a pinch, I'm sure a nail and a pair of pliers would work as construction tools. On Wednesday night, I built a penny stove, which is supposed to be more fuel efficient, while also heating better.

This stove will heat 2 cups of water to a full boil in 4 minutes. I'm going to build another burner for this one as I'm not happy with the seal that I'm getting with the penny. There are some other designs I'd like to try, but I'll maybe save those for this week while I'm on vacation.

Bunch of riding scheduled for this weekend. PRC's Cranksgiving Alleycat is tomorrow starting at 1 PM. This will be the second year that I've ridden in this, and I'm sure it will be a good time like it was last year. I expect a large turnout tomorrow. Sunday the highs are supposed to be close to 50, so I'm going to get my November Cup O Dirt ride in while the weather is nice. I've posted the ride dates and times to the IowaGravel blog in case anyone wants to join up.

Vacation this week, which is definitely needed. I hope I can take part in CITA's annual Turkey Day mountain bike ride, but that will depend on what I decide to make for dinner on Thursday.

Last, but not least, I have spent some additional time thinking, and have decided to sell my Bacchetta Corsa. My riding focus has changed and I have decided that I would like to have a Salsa Fargo in my garage before TransIowa in May. Selling the Corsa is going to be the way to get that done.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Can't say goodbye to an old friend

Almost finished getting the Bacchetta Corsa in rideable shape again. New triple crank, new DA deraileur and a bit of adjustment are all done. All I need now are some chainring bolts. I was ready to sell it and put the money towards a different bike, but I think I'm going to hold onto it for a little bit longer. I think that we have some additional rides ahead of us before parting ways.

On a different note, I happened to notice that my last post was post #100. Hooray for me. Unlike TV, I didn't get a special cake or a cast party.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am definitely sitting in an area of no movement right now. The beautiful indian summer weather is about to change to typical Iowa fall weather, with highs in the 40s, and lows in the 30s. The annual "adjustment of the clocks for no good reason" has just taken place too. Lights are now needed for safety, rather than seeing the road ahead. That will also change soon, and their beams will be needed to light the path home. My riding is in a state of adjustment now too. The last two months of the Cup O Dirt Challenge have arrived. The chances of accomplishing my goal this year are swiftly fading, however I accomplished more than a lot of guys my age. My goals this year were driven by my chase for the Cup O Dirt. An early January excursion with a small group of people turned into a lot of miles of gravel, and a lot hours riding and working on dirt. Of everything I've done this year, starting, and completing, the Dirty Kanza was definitely the high point.

My goal planning and event scheduling is already starting for next year. Trans Iowa registration is opens soon, with this year's 300+ mile course possibly the hardest ever, even with perfect weather. The Dirty Kanza will likely be taking place later that same month. This 200 miler could be relatively easy, or it could be a brutal test if the weather doesn't cooperate. Being mentally and physically prepared to start both of those events would be an accomplishment. You can't really talk about off road events without discussing Leadville, quite possibly one of the most difficult 100 mile races a 40 year old flatlander like me could think of attempting,. So I have this fantasy trifecta of completing TransIowa, The Dirty Kanza, and The Leadville 100 all in the same year. A rather sadistic taper no matter how you look at it. Even if I were to successfully register for all three events, completing them all would be a tall order.

That said, another part of me wants to explore a slightly different side of cycling and attempt to earn a Super Randonneur award. These rides would mesh well with my approach of considering completion of the event as the measure of success. It would play into my ability to crank out mile after mile on a bike at a regular, if medium, pace, regardless of conditions, It would also give my wife an opportunity to see her family a lot this summer. However, it would mean not entering any off road events this year (including the IMBCS) and concentrating on cranking out a lot of road miles.

In either case, I'm likely to be riding in a world of my own in 2009. There aren't a lot of people in the area that are willing to go out and routinely lay down 80 - 120 miles all at once. The local road racers typically ride hard for 40 - 60 and call it good. Anyone regularly riding centuries or longer is considered a bit eccentric (if not completely off their rocker) by most of the local cycling community. I have discovered this is especially true for anyone laying down a lot of miles on gravel, like I did this year.

Lots of choices to be made in the next few months. Should be interesting.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Took time this weekend to attend and race both days of Spooky Cross. This is a local event put on by local guys JJ Bailey and Tony Nichols. The second installment of this race took place in the fields and hills of Living History Farms in Urbandale, IA. This was my first 'cross weekend and served as a break in for both me and my new Specialized SingleCross. In preparation for the weekend's activities, I geared the bike down as much as I could (to a 39 x 18) and hoped for the best. On Saturday, I raced in the "first time" category. This was a 30 minute plus 2 lap race. The course had a fairly soft section along the edge of a soybean field, and one long climb, but was otherwise flat with a couple of barrier sections. By the start of the race, temps had warmed to the mid to upper 50s, so I was able to ride without anything on my arms. I went out hard on the first lap, and came across in either first or second place. As I started my second lap and climbed out of the first section of barriers, it was apparent that I had started too hard. After two laps, I was definitely cooked and had all I could do maintain a solid pace for the remainder of the race. With a few laps left. I took a beer hand up courtesy of Kyle Sedore, not knowing that I needed to drink it all, or else I was going to wear the rest of it the next lap. Kyle was apologetic about covering me with beer, as I rode up the gravel road the next lap. I could, however, feel his smirk burning itself into my back as he metted out some 'cross justice on the new guy. All in all, a good time on Saturday, with a few lessons learned and no damage to either me or the bike.

Sunday gave us a different course, and much different weather. Winds were howling out of the WNW as early as 7 AM, and really picked up starting at 10 AM. The Cat 3/4 race started at 11:45 or so. By this time the airport was showing winds in the low high 30 to low 40 MPH range, with gusts of over 55 MPH. I went out easier at the start of this race and felt better all of the way through. The wind was only a factor as we exited the woods and came through the start finish area towards the first set of barriers. The flat open hayfield gave us no cover, so all we could do was keep pedaling until we turned north. Scot Sumpter and I were trading spots back and forth from about the second or third lap on. Scott was catching me on the couple of uphill segments that I needed to run due to my gearing. On the next to last lap, I caught a spot of bad luck and ended up dumping myself and the bike ass over tea kettle into a mud puddle at the corner of the bean field. Covered with mud from the shoulder blades on down, I hopped back on the bike, and kept plugging away, despite feeling a large lump on both my right shin and right calf. Sumpter followed behind me on a section of gravel road, questioning me about the difference in my kit colors between this lap, and the prior one. Having just gotten passed by the leaders before exiting the woods, Scott and I were both pulled at the end of the penultimate lap. Our race weekend was over.

With the race site being only a few miles from home, this was the perfect way to get introduced to cross racing. A little bit of road biking and a little bit of mountain biking all rolled into one. However, the races are not cancelled due to wet conditions, snow or ice. You "run what you brung" and deal with the conditions the nature deals you. The temporary nature of most of the courses makes this possible. After the winter snows have fallen, and given way to the green of spring, you won't be able to tell we were there. I can see why people like this disicpline, and I can also understand why people like to watch as well. Hopefully there will be some additional races in my future, if not this year, then next year for sure.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cross Eyed

Hit the Witmer Park Renegade Cross on Tuesday night. Not having actually tried cross racing before, it seemed like a good way to figure things out without the pressure of a race. About 25 people eventually made their way to the start line of our impromptu race course. Oakley Rob Versteegh did a good job of laying out the course. Hills, some sand, tight turns, an optional ramp, and plenty of acorns making a good substitute for cobblestones. Pete Basso arrived a few minutes early to give me some quick how to advice on dismounting and remounting and I was off. I had a good time over the 45 minutes of the race, even if my legs were burning. Mounts and dismounts are going to take a lot more practice, but it's a skill that's easily practiced anywhere there's a log or something else in the way. The shop ordered squeezed a smaller chainring onto one of their orders today, so I'll have an easier time riding the hills during Spooky Cross on Saturday (and Sunday). Should be a fun time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cross biking

Left work early to meet Lou, Basso and Pig for some cross practice. Evidently I didn't leave early enough as I got a call on the way that they were done and heading home. Must be nice to be able to leave work at 3 on a nice day to go ride. Some day I might be able to do that. I almost turned around, but decided to head down for at least a lap of Denman's since the weather was nice and rain is in the forecast for later in the week. Hopped on the SingleCross and bumped into Rick Blackford just inside of the entrance. We made forward loop through Denman's, across Dirty Express, two laps of Hillside and a run through Rollercoaster before Rick had to head for home. On the way through we saw Nathan, Emily and Cam all out for some late fall single track action, and Maria finishing up a late afternoon ride on her road bike. A lot of other people were out, either running or riding, with quite a few kids out for rides with their parents. Good to see that people are enjoying the trails.

After parting ways with Rick, I headed back along Dirty Express and took a backwards lap through Denman's before it got too dark to see. I ran this lap on the drops instead of the hoods, and it felt a thousand times better better. Brake modulation was much better and the bike just handled like it was on rails. I'm starting to see the light on this drop bar for off-roading stuff that Guitar Ted has been proselytizing about for the past few days. Not sure how I'd make drops work on the geared KM without using bar ends, and I'm not sure that bar ends would be XC race friendly for the amount of gear changing that I do. Drop bar 29er single speed MTB in my future maybe? Regrding gearing on the Singlecross, the 42x18 was OK for Denman's and too steep for Hillside (I'm not manly like that Kent Carlson guy yet). I think a 39 front ring would have made Hillside easier to climb, and allowed me to be quicker out of the corners in Denman's. That 2:1 ratio seems to be what most of the single speeders run around here. I have a feeling that I'm going to have a collection of rings and chains for the Singlecross soon. A 46x18 would be nice for fall road rides as well as commuting. I run a 46x17 on my road only single speed now.

Tomorrow is Renegade Cross practice at Witmer Park. This will be the first one of them I have hit this year. I thought it might be a good idea before entering SpookyCross this weekend.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday trail work

Building stringers

Footers on, and footings dug

Decking on. Ready for approach armoring.

If you see someone you know in these photos, and you ride, hike or walk the Center Trails at all, stop and thank them. A number of people donated a full day of their time to help rebuild and improve Rollercoaster on Saturday. A lot of work was accomplished, including repair or replacement of four bridges, armoring of bridge approaches, improving trail drainage, filling in washouts, and building an entirely new section of trail.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Missed Connection

You: Distinguished looking professional man in your early 50s

Me: Guy on a bike riding to work

When: Friday morning, 10/10/2008

You F***ING asshat. Thank you for passing me in the no passing zone approaching a stop sign. Thank you for forcing oncoming traffic to slow down so that YOU wouldn't hit them. I hope your secretary clocks you upside the head with your cup of of morning coffee and shoves your copy of the Wall Street Journal down your self righteous throat. Glad you made it through the intersection 5 seconds before I did. I know that extra time you saved was put to good use waiting at the NEXT stop sign at the corner of 102nd and Meredith.

You know where and when to find me if you want to discuss this further.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall is here

This time of year is always interesting. 39 or 40 degrees during the morning commute and 70 degrees on the way home. Tail winds both ways one day, headwinds both days later in the week. I love fall commuting. Tomorrow will make 3 solid weeks of bike commuting. 100th being open definitely makes the commute easier due to lower levels of traffic, and reasonable pavement quality. I've also been making a point to commute in something that doesn't look like cycling clothes at first glance. Flat soled shoes on the LHT, SPD sandals on my other bikes. Jeans with an ankle strap, or shorts. A wool shirt and maybe a wind breaker. It saves me a bit of time at the office in the morning, and I hope it encourages other people to ride their bikes to work (or anywhere) more. If people don't think that they need to wear special clothes to run an errand on a bike, they might pull that old bike out of the attic and give it a try.

Over the past few weeks, one thing that I have noticed is that many people, even other cyclists, are surprised to find out that I have biked TO a bike ride. Last night I rode with a coworker and some of her friends. All but one were what I would call "dedicated recreational cyclists". They ride a lot, but they ride mainly for recreation. Each of them were surprised that I rode from the my office to the start of the ride, a distance of around 8 miles. I had made a decision a while back that driving to a bike ride that started in town really didn't make a lot of sense to me. Most of the rides that I go to regularly start within a 30-45 minute ride from my house or office. Yes it makes the ride take a bit more time, but I also get more miles in that way, I don't use as much gas, and I don't have to deal with parking. I do it so often, that it's become somewhat second nature. This must mean that the "utility" cyclist in me is getting built up a little more each day. I'm definitely not car-free yet by any stretch of the imagination, but I would say that I'm becoming less car dependent. If time allows, I don't mind riding my bike somewhere to do something, whether it's visit a friend, go to the store, or go for a ride. On the flip side, I don't mind driving if I'm time constrained, or the weather is bad, or I don't feel like riding (yes, it happens). I guess I figure that with all of the extra cycling that I do, that I help offset what some people would consider "frivolous" driving. In the end, you do what you are comfortable doing, and lead by example.

This weekend consists of trail work with CITA on Saturday, and another gravel century on Sunday. Saturday's work is the perfect opportunity to give back a little for all of the time that you've ridden the trails this year. We want to have everything looking nice and screaming fast for the Dirty Du on November 2. Hope to see a lot of you out there even if it's only for a couple of hours.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Good Luck

I got a phone call from Mr. Bike Iowa and an email from Marc Hollander last night telling me that I had won a(nother) new bike. I will soon be the proud owner of a Specialized Tricross Singlecross.

I bought a raffle ticket as part of the Cross Out Crohn's fundraiser. This is a local cyclocross race that is used to raise money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. I have a good friend of mine that has been dealing with Crohn's for the last 3 years. He recently had to endure addtional surgery to alleviate it's symptoms, so a donation to help find a cure seemed like the least I could do.

A big thank you to Rasmussen's for donating this bike and the Specialized Tricross Sport Triple that was won by Lane Anderson. Now to get to the shop, get my bike sized and get it ordered.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October Dirty Hundy

Great ride today. 101 miles towards my October Hundy, and another 17 to get home from Adel for a total of 118 miles with slightly over 7800 feet of climb. Lots of hills, lots of combines, and lots of loose gravel at points. I took the LHT shod with the stock 37mm Continental Contact tires. There's an art to riding skinny tires on gravel, and I obviously have some learning to do. Flats were no problem, but sand and loose gravel on the many steep downhills was cause for a number of "pucker" moments. It's hard to be "loose" when it feels like the front end may wash out at any minute. I didn't want to end up like this guy did late last month. Other than that issue, the LHT performed well. I felt pretty good for the first 75 miles or so. However, the wind didn't switch over to the SW like I expected, so I rode back from Stuart with a 15 MPH S crosswind that kept slowly sucking my energy levels down. Even the large cherry shake in Adel didn't do much for me until a lot later in the ride. The trees are getting ready to turn. If the weather holds and the wind is from the same direction in another week or two, this will be a very pretty route to ride.

As normal, I took some photos.

Planning another one of these next Sunday. If anyone is interested, lemme know.

Public Service Message

I should not be posting this right now. I should be in the hospital, fighting for my life.

Between the skill of an unknown driver, my ears, and a now very large loan from the karma pool, I avoided turning left in front of the pickup truck that was passing me. I didn't hear him coming behind me due to the wind, and I didn't see him coming behind me because *I* didn't take the time to look over my shoulder before I turned left. I'm not sure why I didn't look. Laziness? Too used to hear vehicles coming behind me on gravel? I'll can honestly say that I don't know. I do know I was more concerned about making sure the car on the gravel road to the left saw me than I was someone passing me. I do know that I froze for a second and then swerved away from the turning once I saw the truck. I do know that the truck missed me by less than a foot. I do know that if I wasn't able to type this right now, it would be entirely my fault.

Wear a mirror, put a mirror on your bike, look over your shoulder, or don't. If nothing else, look behind you before you turn, even if you are in the middle of no where.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hundy Route

Here's the route for October's first dirty century.

Leaving my house and heading south to Booneville between 6:30 and 7:00 AM. Call me on my cell if you want to join up along the way. Rolling the Long Haul Gravel Trucker on normal tires.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Weekly wrap up

Tomorrow will be 5 for 5 on work commutes for the second week in a row. Woot! Another spread of bikes this week. LHT for a couple of days, Karate Monkey for a couple of days, Dahon folder for the first time. Sturmey Archer 3 speed and little wheels made for an interesting commute. Riding the Dahon definitely felt like more work than the single speed or any other bike in my current stable. The Dahon garnered a few good natured snickers and "clown bike" comments from some of my coworkers. Price of being different. :) Karate Monkey with the Bob and a cooler will be the ride for tomorrow. First night time Quarter Rage tomorrow night. Gonna head down early, fill the cooler with beer and have a few with Squirrel before (and after, and during(?)) the race. Need to make sure the bike and helmet lights are set to go. Taco ride last night was a good time. We had a lot of people show up, the weather was perfect, and the company was good. Denman's was in better shape than I expected it to be. A few soft spots, but nothing that was terribly sloppy. We didn't get to hillside again. I may just go ahead and ride it myself next week even if no one else wants to.

Gravel hundy ride on Sunday. If you're interested, leave a comment. Not sure of the route yet. Will likely be one that we've ridden before, unless I get a sudden burst of energy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Commute week

Managed (for the first time in quite a while) to commute to and from work all week. 3 days on my single speed and two on the Karate Monkey. Having 100th street passable is really nice. Dealing with traffic on 86th in the morning was really starting to get on my nerves. I've noticed my appetite was unquenchable this week. I think even the small amount of extra riding is making some difference in how much food my body wants. The weather this week was perfect with morning temps in the mid 60s and highs in the upper 70s during the afternoon. One flat on the front going in on Friday, but I was able to just fill the tire with a C02 cartridge and finish the ride to the coffee shop and then work. Took a few minutes late in the afternoon to change the tube out and remove the offending thorn. No more issues.

Quarter Rage

Left the office early and took part in the fall Quarter Rage races. 30 minute ride down from the office, 20-odd minutes in the pain cave and we were done. All for $0.25. Can't beat that deal with a stick. Trails were in better shape than they were Wednesday, but there were still a few muddy spots. I need to work on riding log overs. I finished around 22:36 which was a lot better than I expected to do. Afterwards, I cruised down to El Bait Shop to meet Kathy for dinner. Stopped briefly to loan a multitool to a fellow MTBer with a broken derailer hanger.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Finally got all of my RAGBRAI photos sorted through and uploaded. Close to 400 photos. Most of them haven't been reduced to make them web friendly. You've been warned.

I had planned on a long write up, but so much time has passed that I've forgotten a lot of the names and things I was going to write about. So, here's the Cliff's Notes version.

10 days, 650 miles, Self contained. Good workout but hard on the legs and body Riding out with baggers was great. Riding with 10,000 people on the road, not so much fun. Beer gardens are good. Bloody marys and vodka lemonades are better. Best beer garden was in Albion (2 for $5 Fat Tire on RAGBRAI? Too bad I still had to ride to Tama). Great campground in Panora (free camping on Thursday nights). GREAT hostpitality in Marne (everyone at the bar and the surrounding houses was great. Too bad these people got screwed on RAGBRAI a while back). Great hosts in Harlan (fresh deer sausage and crackers) and North Liberty (great family that welcomed three strangers on short notice). Campground under a large tree in Tama was great. Food was great as always. Mexican breakfast in Panora. Burgers in Marne. Chicken and noodle supper in Tama. Pie, ice cream and more pie and ice cream. Kolaches as we started getting closer to the Amanas and beyond. Crawfish boil north of Toledo. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches at the Peanut Butter Jam bus. Excellent real meal at a restaurant in LeClaire. As always, Little Farm fair trade coffee and the "muffin girls" to start the day off right. A HUGE thank you to Steve the massage therapist for getting my hamstrings feeling better and stretching out my achilles for me in Tipton.

Will I do it again next year? Maybe. The ride out and meeting the rest of the people riding out was a great time. I might off route it a bit more next year. Maybe hang with John from CR if I can hook up with him again. Stay in the next day's pass through town instead of the overnight towns. Maybe things will change and we'll take that first gravel road on the left going out of the overnight town and gravel grind our way across the state instead.

What a great idea

This site has been started to help map out dirt roads around the country and tag places of interest, scenic overlooks, bad dogs, good meals, cold beers, etc. Sounds like a great idea to me. Help 'em out if you have the time.

IMBCS #9 - Sugarbottom Stampede

Met Kent at his place a little before 7 AM. Two hours of good conversation and a stop at Casey's landed us at Sugar Bottom for the penultimate race on the IMBCS calendar. We were surprised by the sight of Cam's Jeep sitting in the parking lot 3+ hours before his race start. A quick conversation determined that he showed up early to make sure that Julie could make the start of the beginner's race. Kent and I suited up in our finest black attire and headed out for a quick recon lap. This was (all together now) my first time riding at Sugar Bottom. I can see why it was rated as one of the 50 best trails in the nation. We cut our ride of the first half of the course short since the beginner race had started in the middle of our recon. Even with a short recon in, I could tell it was going to be a long day. I had been bouncing all over on the tree roots during our recon lap. Kent gave me some assist with the tire pressures and I immediately noticed an improvement in how the bike was handling. We hung around for what seemed like forever as there was a 2 hour gap between the start of the beginner race and the rest of the classes.

With 50+ people lined up for the start of the sport races, I decided to sit in back at the start. I've made a habit of this during the year. It's not good for me as I have to work to catch anyone, but for some reason I'm concerned about blocking people unnecessarily and having to let them by on the course. Next year, I'll probably change that strategy and try to be further up. They let us go and I could just feel that my legs and the rest of my system weren't really warmed up yet. With my heart in my throat and a lot of dust in my eyes, I reached the apex of a small hill and turned to enter the single track. I spent the first half of the first lap trying to stay in touch with people, while not getting held up by slower traffic. At one point the rider in front of me slowed in a section that I had just rolled right through during our recon lap. Unfortunately I tapped his rear tire when he slowed, but it also caused him to put a foot down. I yelled sorry as I continued to ride past. There were other riders that were good about letting faster traffic by, even towards the back of the pack. That allowed me to make up a few more spots early in the race. Reaching the second half of the course I knew that I was pushing harder than I was going to be able to maintain for the rest of the lap, let alone the rest of the race, so I backed off a bit and let my heart come back down into my throat. When I reached cyclocross hill, I had already planned on jumping off and running up as the climbing on the second half of the course had really cut into my energy levels. The second lap was more about conserving my position and finishing the race. Without gloves on, my hands were being rubbed and blistered by my grips rubbing against them, so every root and drop I rode over was painful. After 2 laps, and 2 hours and 20 minutes in the pain cave, the race was over. I rode through the start finish area, set my bike against the truck and put my hands in some ice water to help take away some of the pain. Only one small blister showed, but my hands were definitely not feeling well. I made a quick change in to street clothes, downed some gatorade and had a quick talk with Kent and Cam. After another hour or so for the awards and swag give away Kent and I packed everything up and headed for home.

I ended up a somewhat disappointing eight out of nine in my class and 39th out of the 50 starters. With the bike feeling as good as it did during the race, and riding obstacles that I wouldn't have thought I was able to ride, I was hoping for a higher placing than what I had, even with a bit of implosion on lap 2. I have a lot of room for improvement in the handling, momentum and smoothness departments which will only come with time. Stiil, I was amazed at how quickly a skilled rider can walk away from you when they pass you on course. Good riders can make the difficult look effortless.

Kent finished third in the single speed class, and second place for the state championship. Cam finished first over Brian Eppen in a close expert race (dead heat until the last lap). I can tell that the season is winding down as I caught a glimpse of Cam taking a swig from a post race Miller Lite tall boy. Never would have seen that before now. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

IMBCS #8 - Science Center Time Trial

IMBCS #8 took place on September 7th at the Science Center Trails in Des Moines. I meet up with Lou, Basso and PIg at Hy-Vee on Grand for some breakfast and a piece of Denman's at 7 am. As we got ready to head out to ride I discovered that I had pulled a Basso and left my helmet at home. I called Kathy (unfortunately waking her up) and had her bring the helmet with her to the race. While I will ride on the streets without a helmet when I feel like it, I am definitely not comfortable mountain biking without one, especially when I'm working to keep up with Lou, Pete and Pig. I took it easy through Denman's, trying to keep the others in sight, but walking the log overs to avoid Murphy coming to bite me. After leaving Denman's through the new route along the creek we tried to ride through the path left by the equipment working to pave over where J11 used to be at. We were about 1/2 way in when the mud caked around my brakes and bottom bracket made it obvious that I wasn't going any further. I wasn't happy about having my bike completely caked with mud an hour before the race, so while the guys rode along Grand, I took a solitary trip on the railroad tracks to cool down. Pete wanted to race, but couldn't stick around due to other commitments. Race organizer Chris Maharry took pity on him and let him run the course while registration was going on. Lou and I make a quick trip to a car wash on 31st Street to clean our bikes off. A kind soul bought Lou's coffee for him at the Caribou drive thru as we headed to the car wash.

The race itself was pretty uneventful for me. We ran up the pavement and came down into some rarely used single track, along the rose garden and then took an unconventional line into roller coaster. In the midst of trying to catch the guy in front of me, I missed the turn by the pump house and had to back track, along with Paul Varnum of MOB Racing. I put a gap on Paul not too long after entering Rollercoaster proper, walked the switchback and proceeded to feel pretty good until I heard Cam Kirkpatrick coming up behind me (on his second run). We nudged a slight bit as he flew by me since I couldn't quite get completely out of his way. The price for the slow being in front of the quick I guess. The rest of my lap was spent working to to keep my heart out of my throat and my stomach contents down. I managed to successfully accomplish both (barely). I finished with a time of 26:12, which put me in 4th place in the 35+ Sport Men's group. Tom Anderson won our class handily with a 23:39. Overall winner was Cam Kirkpatrick with a 19:10. Kent Carlson handily won the single speed class with a time of 20:09. Oddly enough, my time would have been good enough for second in Sport Open. Looks like the old guys were faster for a change. :) Chris Maharry had plenty of swag on hand for prizes, including some bottles of wine, autographed photos of our own Oakley Rob, bike accessories and parts galore, and a number of pairs of sunglasses courtesy of Rob Versteegh and Oakley. After handing a good portion of the prizes, Chris opened up the rest of the "table" to anyone who didn't get anything and thought they deserved something for their efforts. After letting most of the others pick through stuff, I snagged a nice Aveda Shaving Kit filled with some cool stuff. Not your typical racing prize, but something more useful to me than a 26" mtb tire or a bottle of slime.

The course that Andy Lueck and Squirrel set up for us was a LOT of fun. I had ridden parts of Hillside that I typically don't ride, and they made the most of the mileage that was available on the trails. I think that if we were to cut off the run up the paved trail on subsequent laps, this would make for a great cross country race. I was a bit disappointed with the turnout for the race. With it being in town, I was sure that we would have a really good turnout from the local riders. There were a lot of people that I expected to be there that weren't. Hopefully next year.

After the event, Scott Sumpter and I rode over to Rasmussen's for a post race beer, pizza and bike party in the back of the shop. Good times as always. After an hour or two of pizza and beer, I rode back through Valley Junction and to Hy-Vee, loaded up and drove back home.

Beginning of the end

Next to last race of the 2008 IMBCS is tomorrow at Sugarbottom near North Liberty. I have the privilege of driving "Killer" Kent Carlson over there tomorrow morning. I'm sure Kent will continue his dominance of the single speed class tomorrow, as well as causing some expert class racers a few headaches as well. The weather is supposed to be perfect for tomorrow's race, with highs forecast to be in the mid to upper 70s. Racing starts at 10 for the beginners, noon for the expert and single speed classes, and a little after noon for the sport class.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CITA Ales and Trails

The focus of this past weekend was the CITA Ales and Trails event. This was put together by CITA as a way to celebrate its 10 year anniversary in a family friendly atmosphere. It took place at the Whiterock Conservancy south of Coon Rapids. The weather forecast took its toll, as only half of the expected number of people attended. We spent part of the morning walking around the Riverhouse, barn and exploring the flower gardens. Liz Garst gave an excellent talk on the history and mission of the Whiterock Conservancy, including a detailed account of the visit of Nikita Kruschev during the late 50's. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch and caught up on the Iowa/ISU football game.

The afternoon found some people taking naps, enjoying a guided nature hike through parts of the conservancy, canoeing on the Raccoon River, and/or biking on some of the 30 miles of trails that wind their way through the 4000+ acres we were on. Afternoon gave way into evening, and that meant dinner. While Sammy worked the grill, Justin and I acted as sous chefs and prepped the beans, rice and helped Sammy out in any way we could so he could keep his eyes on the grill. In the end, we had grilled chicken kabobs, burgers, dogs, and a bunch of other food and desert for people to enjoy. The rest of the evening was spent listening and dancing to the music of Brother Trucker in the Riverside Barn.

This was a fun weekend, and it was nice to see so many people attend the event with their kids, enjoying the outdoors and the company of others. Due to untimely illness, Kathy and Conor weren't able to come up. I know Kathy was looking forward to spending some time in the canoes for part of the weekend. It sounds like CITA is in the process of planning a similar event next year. Hopefully the weather cooperates and more people are able to attend and enjoy the conservancy.

As always, I took some photos. So did Squirrel, and Justin

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Slow and Sloppy

Friday's ride didn't turn out quite like I expected. The photo is a good summary of the 75+ miles of gravel I rode on my way to Whiterock Conservancy. Wet, sloppy and sandy. Pair that with a bike that was, once again, loaded too heavily, and it made for slow, if steady, going. I made it a point early on to not display anything but my map on the Garmin. I didn't want to know how slowly I was going, how far I had gone, or what time it was. I gave in slightly north of Redfield while I was drinking some tasty coffee and eating some pop tarts. 32 miles in 2.75 hours. This was going to be a long day. Made it into Panora about 1:30 PM. (5-ish hours for 55 miles). Stopped at the grocery store to get some garbage bags so my sleeping bag would stay dry. After stop for lunch and some time at the laundromat to dry out my sleeping bag, I was on my way again. My next stretch took me 20 miles straight north. It was rough going, and by the time I hit Cooper I felt my energy waning. I opted to take a short break and head north on the Raccoon River Trail for a few miles to give my legs a break.

At the point I turned west, I ate an apple and finished the last of my (still hot) coffee. With my energy levels as low as they were, I should have ridden the 3 miles into Jefferson and grabbed an additional meal at a cafe. Instead, I turned west and planned on refueling at Coon Rapids. After a very slow 10 mile, I had stopped to take a rest when Gil, a local, pulled up next to me and asked if I needed any help. I explained what was going on and he offered me a ride to the conservancy. I told him that once I got some food in me, I'd be in good shape. Gil ran back down the road to snag some granola bars for me and I continued my trek west. By the time he got back, I had decided to throw in the towel, rather than be out another 4 hours in the cold and rain. Gil wouldn't accept my offer of filling his truck up, but he did accept the case of Busch Lite came out of the convenience store with me. (Score one for being observant when getting in someone's truck). A few minutes later, and I was in the campsite, with Squirrel grinning at me once he saw my face inside of Gil's truck.

The Long Haul Tucker worked out well as a gravel grinding platform, especially with the wider tires. I had no issues with seat or hand discomfort during the ride. I did notice the extra drag of the Panaracers. Despite the sandy wet conditions, I think that I would have been just as fine using the Continentals. I would REALLY like to see WTB build a Nanoraptor in a 1.9" width. Again, I managed to bring too much stuff with me for a two day stay. I'll eventually get the packing right for a short 2 day trip. Too many tools and bike parts are with me "just in case", but I figure a little weight is better than being stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I have also decided that I need a lighter rain coat as it was at least a pound by itself. My Friday morning switch over the the Arkel Samurai panniers was a good idea. Nothing inside of them got wet, and they stood up to the sand well too. Some additional planning around waterproofing of certain items (tent and sleeping bag) will make another ride in the rain better. Since this was my third camping trip on the bike, I still have a bit of learning to do. I do feel like I'm getting closer to having things dialed in. My eventual goal is to be able to be ready to leave for a one or two day camping trip within two hours.

So, 200 miles planned, 75 or 80 actually ridden. Instead of being even on gravel centuries, I now find myself even further behind than when I started. Lots of riding to do in October and November if I'm gonna get a cup. Damn that Mable all to hell. :)

I took some photos along the way. Some good, some pretty plain. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Camping Trip

Leaving tomorrow morning to ride to CITA's Ales and Trails birthday party at the Whiterock Conservancy. Whipped together a gravel century route to get September knocked out. Riding the same route back on Sunday to get my century count caught up for the Cup O Dirt challenge. As I sit here and type, my light batteries are charging, as is my Garmin 605. I spent about 3 hours getting things ready for the trip and mounted on the bike so I can leave with a minimum of fuss tomorrow morning. I mounted 45mm Panaracer Firecross tires on the LHT for the trip this weekend. I'm going to be very interested in how the LHT feels on a long gravel ride. Based on some shorter runs earlier this year, I think it will handle everything fine, especially since I don't have it completely loaded up. The only question mark for this weekend will be the weather. We've had rain on and off Thursday morning and afternoon, with many of the cells training across the same areas as they cross the state. The roads are going to be sloppy and a lot of work tomorrow, especially coupled with a northwest wind. There is rain in the forecast all weekend, so we may not get much, if any, trail riding in at all this weekend.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Been thinking more about this Fargo, and the whole adventure bike/monster cross thing. I had some time after coming home from the IMBCS time trial, and went to work in the garage.

The 2.1" WTB NanoRaptors are SO close to fitting that it's not even funny. Plenty of (well, enough) clearance in the front, and a slight bit of rubbing on the chainstays due to the side knobs. Even if I file them off, it's gonna be pretty tight. I'm going to try and track down some 1.8" tires this week and mount them up and see how it goes. If I can get them to fit, I'll break the setup on the double gravel century this weekend.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I have been thinking about the "perfect" gravel bike lately. My Karate Monkey is nice in that the large tires allow me to float over a lot of things that I've seen people with cross bikes have some difficulty with. However, on a long ride, the straight bars don't really help with the comfort, like the drop bars on my LHT. Putting something like On-One's Midge or a Titec H-Bar on the KM means that it's going to not be that great for XC racing. I have noticed some people putting larger tires on the LHT for a "monster cross" type approach. Some tires fit well, and others have clearance issues. My LHT is really set up for touring with the fenders and the racks, so removing all of that once or twice per month for a gravel grinder is a lot of work. I'm also not that happy with the brakes on the LHT, and disks are not really an option. So we're back to the cross bike again. Decent tire clearance, but not as much as the KM. I might have something good coming with the Salsa Fargo:

Disk brakes: check
big tire capable: check (up to 2.3" possibly)
drop bars: check
full rack mounts: check
water bottle holders: SIX

This is an adventuring bike in the same spirit as Thorn's eXp and Sherpa or one of the Kogi-Miyata adventuring bikes, but built around a 700c wheel. The full bike is spec'd pretty nicely, and it will also be available as a frame only for build up. I haven't ridden a sloping top tube bike before and I'm curious if there's any difference in feel vs a standard horizontal tube. I can see running the Fargo with either drops or an H-bar and just setting out for a really long day of riding back roads and single track. With a skinnier set of tires (38mm), it may make a reasonable road touring bike too. Looks like I'm going to have some thinking to do in the next few months. Not completely sure that I would give my Long Haul Trucker up for the Fargo, but the braking on my LHT is currently one of its weakest points.

Tagged - I'm it.

So, Mr Happy Training blog-tagged me. Guess that means I should oblige him (and my other 2 readers) and respond. :)

Where was I ten years ago?

Living in my first house with my wife and son. Working too many hours as a network engineer at a consulting company. Staying up late, drinking to go to sleep, and watching too much TV. 

What are 5 non work related items on your list today?
  • Finish putting the ridge shingles on my shed
  • Replace the middle ring and crank arm on my mountain bike
  • Have the yard mowed
  • Finish the computer wiring in my house
  • Go to the Rasmussen team/supporter party with my wife
What snacks do I enjoy?
  • Ice Cream
  • Fresh peaches
  • An ice cold can or bottle of Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew
  • Peas right off the vine
  • Cashews

What I would do if I was a billionaire?

  • Hire a financial planner I trust
  • Hire a lawyer I trust
  • Change my phone number
Standard stuff
  • Help my immediate family out in a sensible way. Some people wouldn't have to worry about working as they've worked long enough. Others would get enough to lift them out of the holes they've found themselves in, but would have to work somewhere in order to keep receiving assistance.
  • Set up college funds for my son, and the children of my immediate family. 
  • Set up a scholarship fund for students from high school. 
  • Take care of some close friends that I think deserve to have life be a little easier
  • Set up a fund and use the interest from that to fund any charities I felt like working with. 
  • Put the remaining money into a trust, and receive a regular "paycheck" from there to live from. 
  • Ride a LOT more. 
Fun stuff
  • Trips to Italy, Ireland, Japan
  • See all stages of Le Tour
  • Own a lot more bikes
  • House in Aspen, CO
  • House in Ireland
  • Hut in Fiji

Where have I lived?
  • Toddville, Iowa
  • Ames, Iowa
  • Ankeny, Iowa
  • Altoona, Iowa
  • Urbandale, Iowa
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Johnston, Iowa

Where jobs have I held?
  • I sold vegetables out of my garden as a kid
  • I mowed multiple lawns as a kid/teen
  • I ran a fryer and made sandwiches at Burger King
  • I detassled corn and walked beans
  • I worked on a well drilling rig one summer
  • I was a computer lab monitor at the College of Business at Iowa State University
  • I was a general laborer and stage hand for a number of years at the Iowa State Center
  • Worked for a temp agency as "someone who knew computers"
  • Took a second job as a night janitor at a Holiday Inn right after I got married
  • Built and sold computers for The Computer Supply Store in Des Moines.
  • Worked evening internet tech support before most people knew what the Internet was
  • Worked as a system administrator for Equitable of Iowa
  • Worked as a computer / network consultant for Networks Inc
  • Have worked as a systems manager / admin for Dice Holdings, Inc for almost 10 years.

I'm tagging Kent, Squirrel, and Justin.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Commute - 7 miles total on the single speed. 100th is open to local traffic, which means it's open enough for me to ride it to work without being a bandit. About f-ing time. Ride home wearing jeans and a t-shirt in spitting rain and a 15 mph head wind. Guess I should have checked the weather before I left.

Other - 6 miles on the LHT to go get ice cream. Willie Nelson's Peach Cobbler from Ben and Jerry's. Mmmmmmmm

Rasmussen Team and Supporter party tomorrow night. IMBCS #8 on Sunday.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ritual Taco Ride

With the MTB out of order, I headed out for the Ritual Ride last night. Took the newly cleaned and working single speed out for a change of pace. The ride was a good workout with the rollers and the the climb outside of Walnut Woods Park on the route. Two laps and I was spent after sprinting the hills and trying to keep up with a 46 x 17 on the flats. Made it back to 63rd street just behind the main group and then headed north on 63rd and down into Valley Junction to meet the Taco Riders for beers and tacos at Griffs. Since I arrived early, I had a few minutes to get my one of my shoes out of the pedal and retighten the one remaining bolt that was holding my cleat to the shoe. After a few beers and a couple of tacos, I headed back to the shop with some of the riders and after a short bit of time on the trails, took side streets home.

My new chain ring showed up at the shop today. Kathy went and picked it up for me. Legs were definitely feeling the effects of last nights ride as I rode into work this morning. Sluggish and a bit achy. Gonna take a couple of days off the bike before the IMBCs race this weekend. Maharry's timetrial on Hillside and Rollercoaster. Should be a leg breaking good time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Memorial Day Pain Ride

Went to Bike World in West Des Moines for the annual Labor Day ride. Morning was a bit humid, but nice. Met Lou for coffee at 6:30. Pete and Pig decided to play in the dirt at the last minute on Saturday. Kelly Mente from PRC showed up, along with about 30 or so others and we were on our way at 7:00 sharp. We headed west on Ashworth at a fairly leisurely pace. Once we crossed the freeway, Lou pulled up beside me and suggested we catch the group at the front. That was to be the start of one of the harder rides I've had recently. With Lou, me, and a couple of others, the front group swelled to about 12 or so people. Some of us were feeling a bit frisky as we headed south towards Booneville and the pace picked up noticably. After the turning west onto Grand we stuck together until the first big hill and then the group started to break in half. After the turn into Van Meter, we were down to a group of seven for the rest of the ride. We rode the normal "short" loop of 45 miles or so, heading north for a ways, and then back east into Adel and then taking the Raccoon River Trail back in to Waukee and ending up at the shop. We averaged close to 21 MPH for this loop, with my heart rate solidly in zone 3 while in the pace lines, and into zone 4 on the climbs and when working my way back into the group. Afterwards, Steve, Ted, Lou and I pulled back into Amici for a quick drink before heading home. A good solid ride, and I was happy to be able to hang with some strong riders on this loop. The Paramount was really the only choice for this ride, and it didn't disappoint. I'm getting to like it the more I ride it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

September: Time for a Dirty Double

Dirty Double century anyone?

Saturday = bike day

Met up with Lou, Doug and Maria for a beautiful Saturday morning ride. We left Grounds for Celebration in Beaverdale at 7 AM, wound our way up to Ankeny, and met up with the Lake Country Cyclists. Troy was on his MTB and was the only one that wanted to ride our pace, so our group of 5 proceeded NW out of Ankeny, over to Polk City, down along the west side of Saylorville lake and back towards Sayorville, into DM and back to Beaverdale. 3 hours of riding with the group, plus another hour for me to ride to the start and back from home. Sounds like Pete and Piggy went for a mountain bike ride yesterday. Was a good morning for it. Have barely seen Pete all summer since he's been racing road bikes and I haven't been making TNWC due to volleyball.

Proceeeded over to Rassy's to pick up a chain ring for the Monkey, dropped Conor's old MTB off at the Des Moines Bicycle Collective, chatted with Graham for a bit, and then headed towards Colfax to go to a bicycle swap meet and meet up with a guy to buy a couple of Dahon folding bikes. Also managed to pick up a couple of unmangled fenders for my 39 Colson. Hopefully I can get it put together this fall and over the winter. Came home and cleaned up the better looking of the two Dahons, and everyone took it for a spin. It's just a damn fun bike, even as odd as it looks. The rear three speed hub could use some oil, but other than that, the first one is in good shape considering it's age. If I would have paid $50 for one of them, instead of $50 for the pair, it still would have been a bargain. The second one is going to need some TLC before it's really ridable. Guess it's another winter project.

All three of us rode bikes over to another family's house for dinner and conversation later in the afternoon. They live about a mile or so from us so it made perfect sense to ride over, especially with how nice the weather was yesterday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Midweek catchup

Taco ride last night. Rode down from the office with another coworker who wanted to get some seat time on her new Specialized Rockhopper 29er. We had a great turnout with 14 people showing up, including 4 new riders. As you can tell, it was a bit muddy. Wednesday AM rain made the river silt covering the trail in Denman's woods slick to ride on and sticky as well. Combine that with a number of wet areas and a ton of mosquitos and you have an interesting ride. That said, it was good to get out and ride in there again. The shade of the trees made the evening ride really enjoyable, even if I spent 20 out my 50 minutes of ride time clearing enough mud and grass away from my brakes and chainstays so my rear wheel would actually spin. We bailed early and went to Griffs to get an early start on tacos and beverages. Good times as always. Left Griff's around 8:30 and rode back to the office with my coworker and then cut through the road construction on 100th street so I could get home in a reasonable amount of time. Bike went into the workstand, where it stayed until I took it outside tonight and cleaned it all up. While I was at it, I caught up on some other deferred maintenance, cleaning and lubing the chain on the LHT, and putting a new rear tube in the Paramount. I have a flat to repair on my single speed and all of my bikes will be ridable again.

After a lot of debugging, including a new cassette, and a chain swap, my slippage issue boiled down to a worn out middle ring. Not sure how old it is, but I do about 95% of my riding on it, and it's had 1000+ miles on it since I bought the bike, so it's time for a new one. Hopefully that shows up at the shop tomorrow so I can throw it on this weekend. New wheels feel good on the Monkey. After last night's bit o' fun, I am really jonesing to get the disk brakes bought and installed.

Lots of stuff going on this weekend. Bicycle swap meet in Colfax. 24 hours of Seven Oaks in Boone. Possible morning road ride on Saturday, plus plenty of stuff that could be done around the house as well. If I can get some stuff out of the garage and into the shed, then I can get the bike stuff organized a bit better in the garage, and maybe park my truck inside as well. We'll see how things go.

Thinking some about my riding plans for 2009. May is looking brutal, with the possibility of having both TransIowa and Dirty Kanza occur within 30 days of each other. If I could finish TransIowa and beat this years time in the Dirty Kanza, I would count next year as being successful. It will take a solid effort and good training on my part, as well as a lack of mechanicals and some luck for that to happen. Goals, even if they are lofty, make the training that much more enjoyable. A cross bike would make both of those events different. I'm not sure about riding skinnier tires on the gravel yet, but I think I'll have to do it to go a lot faster. However, there are some people running 1.8" tires on their LHTs with fairly decent results. Not sure I want to do that as it would require removing the racks and fenders. Maybe a drop bar on the Monkey is worth looking into. Use some cable splitters like I see on bikes with S&S couplers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 08 Dirty Century

Headed out from Johnston at 7AM on Sunday with Scott Sumpter (LeMond Poprad), Rick Blackford (Bianchi Axis), and myself (Surly Karate Monkey) in the group. We met Tom Anderson (Specialized Stumpjumper) on the way and headed west with no particular route in mind. After passing by some gas pipelines north of Redfield and brief foray into adventure racing courtesy of a bridge construction project, we were in Panora for lunch around 11:30 with about 60 miles under our belt. I had been looking at a number of these roads from the bike trail on rides to Panora, and I was happy to have finally gotten to ride on them. After lunch we stopped briefly to let Sumpter fix a slow leaking tire. Tom wasn't feeling quite like himself after lunch so he told us to go ahead to Adel and he'd keep on at his best pace. Rolled into Adel, snagged some drinks at the Casey's and rested in the shade next to the bike trail. 15 minutes later, Tom called to let us know he was at the Casey's in Adel and feeling better. A couple of minutes later, Tom rode up with a Gatorade in hand and a smile on his face. We took the trail for a bit, and then ducked down through a ditch and took some gravel that paralleled Hwy 6. We took a bit of shoulder and then headed south and east into Waukee. After a bit more time on the trail, we rode by Tom's house quick. Tom followed us up north for a bit to get his mileage in, and then Scott, Rick and I finished up the ride. Sumpter left to sit in as a guest on an abbreviated Kim West Radio Cycling Show, while Rick and I drank a beer. It didn't take any convincing to have Rick order something off the chinese take out menu and have it show up at my house for dinner. 103 miles in total. 7:40 ride time.

I need to get a new rear cassette from the shop. My existing one is an unknown number of years old and with the new chain on the bike, it really did nothing other than skip when the chain was put under any sort of load. A few miles before Panora, I found that a small/small combination wouldn't skip, and allowed me to maintain a reasonable pace on the flats. If there was no significant slope to the road, I could move to the middle ring to bring my speed up. Either way, misbehaving hardware makes a good ride bad, and kills your bike karma. Time to get it fixed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All the Kings Horses...

and all of Greg's men have put my Monkey together again..

Bike is back from Rasmussen Bike Shop. Final total is unfortunately a lot more than I was expecting to spend. New XT rear mech , straighten the rear derailer hanger, new Specialized helmet, and new set of wheels. The wheels were a big surprise, but in talking to Sterling and Mike they were about ready to go any day. The braking surfaces were concave and they were having issues getting the rear wheel to even get back into true. Now I'm rolling on a set of black XT disc hubs, black spokes and some Salsa Delgado rims. I'm going to run rim brakes for the rest of the year and then likely put a set of Aid BB7's on so I'm running disks like the big boys. Thanks to the guys at Rassy's for getting things back together so quickly. Gravel road ride this weekend and then IMBCS #8 at the Center Trails on the 7th.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Iowa Games Road Race Report

Met Lou, Pig, and Kris Kunze at the butt-crack of dawn to head up to Boone for the Iowa Games road race. Much humor courtesy of Pig, Lou and Kris on the drive up. Changed, went out for a nice warm up ride with our vehicle of people, plus Bruce Reese and one of the Rassy's tri guys and felt pretty good. Rolled out through the neutral start, and was sitting in the middle of the pack when I got a flat about 6 miles in. No spare wheels meant that I spent the rest of the race sitting in the wheel truck watching (most) of the action unfold in front of, and behind me for the next two hours. Disappointing to say the least. I did some really nice rides. Bruce, the tri guy, and two others working their way back into the lead group a half lap after the hill outside of Pilot Mound. Kim West and Scott(?) from A9Y working their butts off pulling back into the group at the start of the second lap after being dropped on the same hill. Bruce's miracle endo/save coming up the same hill on lap two. The Pig setting up for what appeared to be a 500 meter sprint at the close of the race, with Chris Kunze hot on his tail. Guess I should consider building up my second set of wheels if I'm gonna keep trying this road racing thing.

Lou finished first, Pig 10th, and Kris was 11th.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Went for a spin with Lou Waugaman last night. Perfect night for a bike ride - 70s and barely any wind. I rode downtown and met Lou at McRae Park after he finished some hill sprints. We headed north towards Elkhart, stopped at the Time Trials, and then cruised back through Ankeny, into Johnston and then home. For Lou, an endurance pace ride. For me, 3.5 hours total time, including breaks, at an average heart rate of 151. Probably closer to an average of 160+ going out. Legs are sore today, but a good sore. I'm also eating everything in sight. Guess I need to start doing more interval work...

Iowa Games road race is this weekend. 54 miles in the pain cave. I'm not planning on winning, but it will be a good workout and a chance to road race in a large group, which I don't do that often.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Repair time and other musings

Dropped the Monkey off at Rasmussen Bike Shop today to start the repair process. Straighten the hanger, put in a new derailer, replace 3 spokes, and get the chain back to the right length. A trip to Cindy's over lunch for a much needed massage along with a trip to my chiropractor before stopping at the shop completed most of the repairs that my body needed after this weekend's fun. Will take a few days for my body to recuperate from the fall, but I should be ready to go for my first road race of the year on Sunday, assuming my shoulder holds up.

I'm probably not going to post much about RAGBRAI, other than this short bit. I rode a lot, I had a good time, and I enjoyed myself. I love seeing the towns, I love seeing all of the people and the decorations. I really am not sure if I like dealing with the crowds of riders anymore though. I had just as much of not more fun on the ride out as I did on the ride. Maybe off route next year? Maybe take that "first gravel road to the right" and make it AGRAI instead? Go somewhere else on a smaller ride? Not sure.

The dates for Trans-Iowa v5 have been announced. Thinking that I'm going to make the transition from manning a checkpoint to riding through it. The location has been moved, but I'm sure that's not going to make it any easier, especially if any of the hills I saw around the area are an indication. There's a lot of bad stuff within 150 miles of Williamsburg, including Missouri and Illinois. ;)

Colesburg 40 is coming up again. I'm torn between riding that and giving the 12 hour at Seven Oaks a shot. Of course the smart thing to do would be to give my body the rest that it's earned by not breaking down on me so far this year. We'll see. Maybe I'll just ride up to Boone, hang out and then come back home. Cross season is coming up too. I might get lucky and have a cross bike to ride.

Been thinking ahead a bit to the fall and next year. Tom Anderson and I talked during last month's hundy a bit. I haven't really pigeon holed myself into being a "mountain biker" or a "road racer". I just like riding bikes, whether it's cruising around town or on the trail with some buds, or out ripping it up on the road with the fast guys. I'd like to try road racing next year just to say that I did it, and expose myself to another side of the sport (again after 20 or so years). No matter what I decide to do next year, I am pretty sure that I will have to change a good portion of my rides if I want to improve. I spent most of this year building up a good base, and building my slow twitch fibers. I am sure both my MTB racing and my road racing would improve if I could get in some shorter intense workouts next year to build power. I'll talk with some others and see what they have to say before making any final decisions.

OTOH, I could just get on my bike, ride, and have fun.