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.

IMBCS #5 - Mobbing the 'Quab

Drove back from Cedar Rapids this morning to take part in IMBCS race #5. Bruce Brown and the crew had set up a really nice course along the shores of and through the doubletrack around Lake Ahquabi. I arrived around 10, registered, got my bike ready and headed out for a recon lap. The course started out really fast, and I was feeling pretty good about my chances to do well. I was about halfway up the first climb when my bike stalled. I looked down and was greeted with the sight of my now bent rear derailer doing the tango with some of my spokes. I untangled the mess, moved the mech into the small cog and limped back to the starting line. Paul Varnum from MOB racing offered me a derailer to race with, but after a quick bit of fiddling, I had determined that my hanger was bent as well. A quick consult with fellow Rassy rider Kent Carlson and a few minutes later I was prepped to throw down on a single speed for the afternoon.

I sped out and got a quick recon lap in. Kent's gear recommendation was going to work well for most of the course. I'd have to walk the hills, but I could live with that. I got back to the start finish line with a few minutes to spare, and spent the rider meeting taking the wobble out of my rear wheel after cutting off the broken spoke that announce itself on my recon lap. We took off a few minutes after experts for the start of our 3 lap race. I spend the first half of the first lap passing a few people. Right as I left the forest to cross the earthen dam at the end of the course, I unknowingy allowed my hand to hit my front derailer trigger and drop my chain onto my granny gear. I spent the next minute putting my chain back on and watching most everyone that I had passed cruise on by. As I came through the start/finish area on the first lap and made the corner, I grabbed too much front brake and went down hard on the still damp grass. I checked my helmet for cracks, put it back on and went out for what was to be an uneventful lap two. I took it easier through the start finish area this time and went out for my final lap, still feeling pretty good. At the top of the first climb, I stopped quick to pick up the water bottle that bounced out on lap one and continued to cruise around the course, walking the climbs when I needed to.

As I crossed the lake for the last time and headed up "railroad tie hill" I spied Taylor Webb from Mercy Specialized walking his single speed up the hill. I picked up my pace and we went head to head for the rest of the lap, with Taylor and I trading the lead up the remaining hills. At the top of the hill I spun up and started pulling ahead of Taylor. Right as we hit the semi paved downhill, Taylor's front wheel washed out. At this point, I figured that Taylor would be satisfied with finishing, and I make the mistake of letting up slightly on the downhill. I heard Taylor coming behind me and I picked up the pace as we headed toward the line. We hit the line at what appeared to be the same time. Looking at the time sheets, it appeared that Taylor just nabbed me at the line. Lesson learned. You earn every spot.

My next race will be the Iowa Games Road Race on Sunday the 17th. Looking forward to racing with the road regulars and helping the effort where I can.

Monday, August 4, 2008

IMBCS #6 - The No Good Very Bad Day

Went to Seven Oaks for IMBCS #6 on Sunday. Took the family along as it seemed like it would be a good opportunity for them to get out and meet some of the people I've ridden with this year, along with some of the other "bike widows". Took a pre-ride with Bruce through what turned out to be the beginner loop. I came back shaking my head. Toughest course I've seen so far this year. Went out after the beginner race and rode our race course for a while and I was not having a lot of fun. Lots of falls and wrong gear choices really had me starting to question if I should be racing at all. Watched the experts go off at 11, and sport class went at 11:05. Came down into the course feeling OK, even if I was at the back. Rode past a couple of people with some flats and thought I was doing ok at that point. As soon as I crossed back over the bridges things just weren't working. No power on the climbs, I was falling over every time I took any speed off with the brakes, and I wasn't in any shape to barrel through the course. I made the decision to pull out before I feel the wrong way off a bridge or something else and hurt myself. I didn't particularly like DNF-ing, especially when I wasn't hurt or didn't have a mechanical, but something wasn't right on Sunday and I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

It was good to see Tom Anderson finish strong, especially after his cramping issues on Wednesday night's Hundy. Also good to see Scott "Mr. BikeIowa" Sumpter out there mixing it up as well. Congrats to Rassmussen riders Cam Kirkpatrick for winning the expert class and Kent Carlson for winning single speed and taking 3rd overall in sport.