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.