Friday, May 30, 2008

K-Day has arrived

I leave in a few hours for Emporia, Kansas to take part in the Dirty Kanza 200. With temps in the mid 80s and the humidity ranging anywhere from 50 - 80%, it's going to be a challenging race. I signed up early in the year, well before I had any idea what gravel road riding, let alone racing, was really about. I am sure I will learn some lessons during the course of the event. Tomorrow's race is going to be the cumulation of the last 6 months of training. I am in much better shape physically and mentally than I had imagined I would be by now. The physical readiness was the easy part. The road to mental readiness has been much longer and harder to travel. I've ridden a lot of miles and had a number of conversations with people over the last 6 months. I wouldn't be where I am without the encouragement (and heckling) they've given me from a bicycle seat, via email, or in person. Paul, Tom, Pete, Squirrel, Dennis, and Scott: Thanks for good times over the last 6 months. A big thank you to all the guys as Rasmussen Bike Shop for their support this year. Donny, Sterling, Greg and the rest of the guys are great people to deal with. They've kept me equipped, kept my bike in tip top shape, and fit me to it like a glove.

Last, but not least, I also have to thank my wife for her support and understanding about my need for the long weekend hours in the saddle, and the growing herd of bikes and parts that has taken over our lives in the past two years.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Not bike related

Was going to go for a ride today after my relatives left. Instead, we're headed to NE Iowa to pack up what's left inside of Kathy's grandmother's house. The important thing is that her grandmother is OK. Stuff can be replaced, but I'm sure her grandmother did not want to put "survived a tornado hitting my house" on her list of life's accomplishments. Ride safe and stay dry everyone.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quick flash

Race Like a Girl #2 - Tomorrow. Union Park. Des Moines Be there, even if it's just to hang out and watch.

CITA Trailwork - Saturday. Banner Trails. South of Des Moines. We need a LOT of people to show up if Banner is going to get done and be ready to race on at the end of June. It's gonna be a great day to work. Get out and help us before the rest of the family wakes up.

Good luck to everyone who is racing in the Quad Cities area this weekend. Maybe someday I'll be up for some of that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm as ready as I'm gonna get.

I emailed most of this out to some people already. If you're one of them, you can likely skip reading this. :)

Fancy GUI summary of today's Winterset metric century is here

Got up at 5:30, loaded my stuff up and was on the road by 6:00 AM. 30 minutes later I'm at one of the West Des Moines Hy-Vee's drinking a coffee and eatin' some 'cakes. With the event season in full swing, as well as graduations and other things, no one else showed up for today's adventure. The fact that I was riding with a tailwind for the first half of the ride probably did it' part to dissuade people too.

90-ish miles total today, including the ride to/from Hy-Vee. For the gravel portion of the ride, 2:47 going down, and 3:01 coming back into the north wind. Somehow, I managed to find yet more hills between here and Winterset than the last time we used this similar loop. My Edge 605 showed a total of 7850 feet of climb between leaving Hy-Vee and the time I came home. At this point, I have no doubt that a standard century with 10K+ feet of climbing is possible if you map the route out properly. For those that were on the January Hundy, that big hill by the cemetery was wavering between 12-13% grade when I was looking down the GPS display. It's pretty easy to spot on the elevation graph. By far the most difficult hill on the ride IMHO, mainly due to the flat approach in the river valley. The hill on the other side is longer, but stairsteps a bit coming up, giving yoi a chance for a break.

I was using this ride as a final test/tune for Dirty Kanza at the end of the month. I hadn't put a long ride on the bike since Donny did the fit just before TransIowa, so a quick 100k seemed like the thing to give it a good shake down, but not really beat the hell out of my body. I rode with most of the items that I am going to use on the ride, and I was concentrating on maintaining food and liquid intakes at regular intervals (1 GU per hour roughly, and a good sized sip of water every 15 minutes). I have started using the Elete electrolyte concentrate in a couple of my water bottles and it appears to be working ok. It's not upsetting my stomach and it adds zero taste to the water according to my taste buds. My helmet mounted Dinotte was almost unnoticeable, except for the battery cable not staying in place. One zip tie will fix that issue. A 4 cell LiIon battery fits in the ipod pocket on my camelback and provides a perfect spot for the battery so I don't have any extra weight on my head. With one of the 200L's on the bike and another on my helmet, Illumination should not be an issue. I did forget both my sunglasses and a camera for todays ride. I missed the sunglasses more as my eyeglasses didn't really help keep the dust out of my eyes. Coming back north into the wind was a lot of work, but the trees really helped to dampen the effects quite a bit. However, it was still there and definitely wore me down at the end of the rode.

Other random thoughts:

I was generally happy with how the Edge 605 worked out. I wish I could use it for navigation during raceses, but I understand why they don't allow them as they are definitely an advantage. If you don't start your course and timer at the right time (say before you start the course), the unit is VERY adamant about wanting you to turn around and go back to the start, which is a bit of a pain.

Small thorns suck. A 1/4" thorn gave me a flat about 6 miles into my return loop. I had plenty of spare tubes and CO2 inflators. However, I forgot to bring the inflator nozzle. Thankfully I also packed a pump this morning.

I saw a baby deer run through a housing development on Walnut Avenue in WDM. This was the only deer I saw all day.

Eating breakfast and riding by yourself sucks. It would have been nice to have someone else along today, but being by myself was a good mental challenge, and it allowed me to ride the pace I wanted, which was important for me on this particular ride.

At this point, there is nothing else I can do to get ready for Dirty Kanza, other than minor things like drop bag prep and figuring out clothing for what I am sure is going to be a weather pattern with a lot of changes. I think arm and at least knee warmers are a must at this point. This morning's temps were a bit cold for me in shorts and jersey. The windbreaker I brought at the last minute was most welcome. The other thing I am going to work on this week is a checklist so that I don't forget anything

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bike to Work Week

This past week was Bike to Work Week. We had great weather this week, and I managed to ride my bike to work each of the four days I worked. To make this week more special, the City of Urbandale closed the safest road for me to take to work so I rode new routes into the office. This has extended my commute from three miles to around six or seven. Not a bad thing, but my choice of roads to cross the freeway is somewhat limited.

I can take 86th Street, a four lane road which is not designed with bikes in mind, as both the eastbound and westbound on ramps are accessed from the right lane where I typically ride. Judging by the way people drive, the extra minute it takes me to clear the ramp is a very critical part of their schedule. Once I'm off 86th, the rest of the ride in is on fairly pleasant residential streets. Thankfully I only had one really close call this week. I can now go a long time without hearing car brakes screeching behind me. 

The other route I can take in is 128th street. This is a nice smooth two lane road that is probably a better choice for me to take, except for the fact that there's more traffic on the road than it was likely designed for, and the people driving on that road are in just as big of a rush to sit in queue at a four way stop as the people on 86th are to get on the freeway. I've gotten passed with cars coming towards me, as well as passed in no passing zones on hills. Once I'm off of 128th, the rest of the ride in is not too bad as it's either a four lane road or feeder streets. 

The one observation that I came up with during this weeks commuting is that the best thing to ensure your survival as a cyclist is take the entire lane. You have a right to the lane, the same way that a motorcycle or someone's grandmother driving 20 MPH in her Cadillac does, so take it. If you don't, automobile drivers will use every trick in the book to force their way by you safely and courteously. As a matter of courtesy, I try and plan my cycling routes so that I'm not on busy streets and holding up traffic. However, the city has prevented me from being able to do that for the next 4 months. The cars are going to just have to deal with me until then.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Trailwork ++

Met Squirrel, Kent and Justin at the exit of Denman's on Friday evening for some rework on the exit and a bit of mowing. A couple of hours later we had a good portion of the back half of Denman's mowed and a new exit cut and test ridden. Pete Basso and one other person whose name I didn't catch also showed up to lend a hand. Afterwards, some tasty adult beverages and a trip to Squirrel's place to sharpen up the tools, finish off the bevvy's and head for home. Quick stop at Panchero's for a burrito and I was set for the night.

Went to Banner this morning to help out with the trail work down there. The plan was to move dirt, build derms and cleanup any trees that had fallen over during the winter. We managed to get nice berms built for two high speed corners in the space of about 3.5 hours. We also cleared out a number of trees that were clogging up the works as well. Not a bad bit of work for the size of crew that showed up. Next work day is the 24th at 8:00 AM. We can use a lot more people to help get things finished up.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Midweek info

Have ridden to work every day this week. Feels good. Took the LHT the first 3 days, loaded down with all of the bags. I notice the weight going up hills but the bike is very comfortable to ride with the bags on. Showed up and rode the Ritual Ride in full kit last night. I got a few odd looks from people, but had no issues completing the loop, even with the couple of hills that were tossed in. It was a good way to see how the bike would feel after a longer ride. I rode the big ring other than when climbing, so my legs were pretty tired after I got home. Not sure what my average speed was since I don't have a bike computer on it either. That will be fixed when the UPS driver shows up with my Garmin 605 sometime tomorrow. 

Took the 53 Schwinn into work today. I wanted to ride something different, and I also wanted to ride it before my short route to work is closed off until sometime this fall. It was definitely a different ride. The seat could stand to be moved back a bit, but other than that the ride wasn't bad. 

Taking the Karate Monkey to work tomorrow with the Bob trailer full of tools in tow. Heading out after work to help with some trail maintenance on the Center Trails. Then headed down to Banner on Saturday morning to help with the final stretch of work there. Here's hoping that the rain stays away long enough for us to be able to work.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

IMBCS #2 - Ingawanis' Revenge

(Actual number worn by the author)

IMBCS #2 was today at Camp Ingawanis south of Waverly. The Rasmussen Squad was well represented with at least 8 riders toeing the line at the start of the sport and expert races. I haven't ridden at Ingawanis before, and the recent rains meant that the course was moved to the "upper half". Upper half meant the part of the course that was built into the side of the hills, and had a ton of off rocky off camber areas. To say that the course was challenging would be an understatement. Kent Carlson and I left around 6:30 AM to make the trip up. We arrived around 8:45 AM, said hi to Cam and Bruce who came up together, and then went to check in. The photo at the top shows the number I happened to get, and omen of things to come. The expert, sport and single speed fields were on course at the same time, with the expert field getting a 5 minute head start. The sport field was large, and although we had plenty of room going up the road to the single track entrance, we quickly formed a very slow single line of bikes. The off camber climbs and descents worked to really slow things down for everyone. Unfortunately, the number 13 struck about 5 minutes into my race, as the quick link in my chain decided to self destruct right at the start of a small climb.

I grabbed the bike and chain and ran out of the course to get a replacement link (note to self, carry a quick link in my seat bag from now on). At the start finish line, I asked if I could still race for points if I fixed my bike and got off course. After checking with someone else, the start/finish people said I could still race for points. I headed to the truck and fought with some regular chain links until a kind soul two trucks down asked if I could use a quick link. I put the link back in and headed out on course, dutifully finishing my alotted three laps, slowing down and letting everyone else coming up behind me pass unhindered. The course itself was very challenging, with only one really flat part, and the rest of it consisting of either fast descents with roots or other treachery along the route and at the bottom, or various long or switch backed climbs with roots at various points along the way. One broken chain, one scraped ankle and a good hour and forty minutes later, I crossed the finish line. After the awards ceremony, I checked my time and it was listed as DNF. Appears that the start/finish people were misinformed about the legality of me completing the race. So $25 entry fee, a tank and a half of gas later, I'm home, with only a nice piece of road rash around my left ankle and goose egg on my right hip to show for the effort. I did have a good conversation with Kent on the way up and back, and saw Paul Jacobson and Paul Varnum from Ames, so the day was not a complete loss.

The Rassy riders placed well, with Cam Kirkpatrick taking the Expert win, Kent Carlson taking the Sport Single Speed win, and another Rasmussen rider taking the win in the women's Sport class. Congrats to everyone who won and finished. It was sweet seeing all of the black kit on the start line.

The new hand grips Donny Q suggested I use worked out well. My hands felt fine after the race and my shoulders and neck have much less stress now than they did after Sylvan Island. Over all the fit that I had Donny do for me seems to have cured the issues I've had with my hamstrings, so it was well worth the time and effort to have the fit done. 

I may need work a bit on adjusting the angle of the grips relative to my arms as I had some issues with burning sensation along the two tendons in the middle of my left wrist during the last lap. It was making it difficult to use the front brake, and hard to put any weight on the wrist on descents. Sitting here now, I'm feeling the same thing in my right wrist too.

I didn't bring a camera, so no photos from the day. If I find some, I'll link to them.

Update: Appears that the computer had it wrong. I actually was counted among the finishers of the race. I'm happy to report that I was not DFL either. :) Thanks to Mr Bidwell for getting to the bottom of things.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Another week

Monday - Rode LHT to work. Rode home, changed clothes and rode to Denman's. Rode Denmans and J11 from 6:00 - 7:30. Rode to CITA meeting. Rode home and pulled in at 10:15 PM. Damn it's dark w/o a headlight.

Tuesday - Rode LHT to work. Rode to Rassys, picked up my rear Surly Nice Rack. Rode home Installed and admired.

Wednesday - Rode Karate Monkey to work. Rode to Rassy's for Taco Ride at 6. Good sized group (10 - 12). Denmans, Squirrel's Nest, Rhythm, Hillside, beer break, Rollercoaster, J11. Rode to Windsor Heights on the trails and then home in the car. Paul Jacobson and gravelo make it down from Ames to join us.

Thursday - Drove to work. Left at 3:45 to help with PRC Duathlon. Enjoyable afternoon/evening watching people run and relaxing by Big Creek Lake.

Friday - Rode LHT to work with the new racks and trunk bag. Polk County Sheriff squeezes between me and an oncoming car while I'm riding 3 feet off the white line. I'm not pleased. Arkel Tailrider trunk bag rocks for the work commute. Drove to Ankeny. Visited Kyle's bikes and hang out for a while. Pick up a 53 Schwinn Traveler that I found on Craigslist earlier in the morning.

I have a habit that needs intervention. Get home from dinner and finish the installation of my handlebar bag on the LHT.

Saturday - Took 83 Schwinn Traveler down to DM Bike Kollective as a donation. Check that a bike is ready for delivery and help move some benches around at the Kollective. Stop at Rassy's and get some bar tape for Conor's road bike. Later in the evening, install the bar tape on Conor's bike. Photograph and weigh the LHT. 40 lbs w/o bags. 57 lbs with. 5 lbs of that is the Surly racks. Prep Karate Monkey for Sunday's IMBCS race #2 at Ingawanis. Pack and stack the other stuff that needs to go with.