Sunday, December 6, 2009

50 miles of smiles

Met up with Squirrel and Jordan for some "urban" putt-putt this morning. Left the house at 9 AM with a thermos of coffee and a flask of whiskey in my camelback in case we got cold while riding around. Boogied downtown on the pave trail, talked briefly to Luggs and Mike Baker and then hurried downtown. Heck of a good time was had by all of us. We rode along the south side of the river amongst the trees, the homemade shelters of the homeless, as well as some quad play ground. We found a handy route across the river courtesy of Union Pacific and proceeded to ride around and explore the north side of the river and the bottoms. We discovered lots of well maintained quad playground and proceeded to just have a hell of a good time riding the double track, railing berms and popping up and over some fun whoop-de-doos near the levees. We finally hit a spot where the quad playground came to and end and had to turn around and head back. Stopped at El Bait Shop for 30 minutes for a burrito and a couple of beers (I went with the Rogue Smoked Porter). Squirrel and I rode home along the north side of the Raccoon river, through Lost Planet and then back to Waterworks park. I took side streets over towards 100th in Clive and rode home. About 5.5 hours of riding time and 50 or so miles of fun. I never really noticed the "cold" once were moving. That's the sign of a good ride this time of year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sycamore 8

Spent four or five hours this morning helping out with the course setup and management for CITA's Sycamore 8 Trail Run. I woke up later than I intended this morning and had to hustle to make the setup meeting time at 7 AM. I was greeted by a flat front tire on my Karate Monkey so I grabbed a set of platform pedals and a pedal wrench and headed out with my Singlecross in the back of the truck. Riding Sycamore with the cross bike wasn't as bad as I thought. Definitely worked up a sweat while riding along some of the grassy sections near I-80, and also while moving some brush out of the way. My Salomon boots kept my feet warm, and the layers I put on kept my body warm. I did manage to pick the wrong gloves to wear and ended up with some cold hands while the race was actually in progress. Sycamore is in remarkably good shape right now (for Sycamore). The frozen ground makes for a fast ride through there. The bald eagles are out in force along the Des Moines River as well. Beautiful to see and cool to hear when they are roosting above you in the trees. Anyone that believes that an elevated highway through the middle of this area will have miniscule effect on the wildlife is sorely mistaken. Gonna bundle up tomorrow morning and ride some new trail with Squirrel on the east side of the river. Should be a good time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Moonlight ride

Met up with some guys from the Rasmussen and All 9 Yards bike teams tonight for some gravel goodness. 5:30 PM, temps in the 50s (if we were lucky) and a nearly full moon made for good times. The group broke into two not too far into the ride with those of us out for base building taking a right, while those intent on world domination kept on going ahead. We never saw them again. RickB, KrisK, RickN, Chia-Chad, the RoBros, Lippold and myself headed off west towards what was supposed to be Van Meter. Kris and RickN headed south to Booneville as the rest of us continued west to Old Portland Road and then headed north. We eventually made it into Adel and rode the Raccoon River Valley Trail back into town. RickB and I jumped off in Clive and headed south back towards WaterWorks Park where we had parked. I got in 50 miles of good base in, with a couple of pips a bit higher climbing some of the hills. My Specialized Singlecross was a good choice tonight. No gears meant no way to do anything stupid. just kept ticking the pedals over to keep moving. My right IT band feels like it took a lead pipe to it. It's way too sore to do anything with tonight. If it feels good tomorrow, I'll do a light foam roller session to work the tight spots out.

...And so begins "training" for the 2010 season.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CITA's Ales and Trails 2009

Spent Friday night through early Sunday afternoon at Whiterock Conservancy for CITA's second Ales and Trails event. Whiterock is 4300 contiguous acres of oak savannah, prairie, and farmland near Coon Rapids, Iowa. If you are a fan of the outdoors you owe it to yourself to spend some time there. We filled our weekend with camping, mountain biking, a 45 mile gravel road race, a few beers and an evening concert in the riverside barn by Des Moines' ownBrother Trucker.

The gravel road race on Saturday was a lot of fun, if a bit brutal. Squirrel managed to build a course where the B-road sections were the fastest thing we would ride on all day. Very few sections of flat, and a southerly course with a SE wind. After what I thought was a good start, hanging with Dave Lippold to the top of the climb we hit right out of the start, my legs just pretty much gave out. I couldn't get into a rhythm on the climbs and just couldn't get my legs to spin up the way I wanted. Squirrel and I stopped for a mid ride beer at Sammy's car, about 10 minutes behind Dave, and decided to just push in together and try to wrap up second and third spots. Squirrel just dieseled his way along and I yo-yo'd behind on the climbs and caught up on the downhills and on the flats. I had to finally let Squirrel go with about 5 miles or so left and just finish the race out. I ended up finishing in about 3 hours and change. I felt worse after those 45 miles than I did after the 10+ hours of the GLGA a month ago.

On Sunday, Matt McCutchen, Brian Sheesley and I took off after breakfast and spent the next couple of hours just riding around on the double track through Whiterock, taking in the scenery and just having a good time. Screaming fast downhills and some long climbs greeted us almost all of the way into Coon Rapids. On the way back, Brian and I took a different path back that involved some rough pasture land, cows, and barbed wire fence crossings. I hit something in the pasture and developed a slow leak once we were on the gravel back to Whiterock. A quick hit with the CO2 cartridge got me back to the truck and, after a change of clothes, on my way home.

I, and everyone else. had a lot of fun at this years Ales and Trails event. It would have been good to have had more people in attendance. I'm not sure if it's the location, the drive, or something else that prevented us from having more people show up. Hopefully we can increase the number of people, and the fun, for next year's event.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good weekend

Once I was able to put the job behind me on Saturday, I had a good remainder of the weekend. My former coworker, friend and fellow cyclist Lacey had a camping party to celebrate her birthday on Saturday. She swung by my house and we took off for a relaxing ride to Prairieflower campground near Saylorville Lake while our spouses drove up to the campground. The ride pace was good, the conversation was excellent and the cold road beer on the bench overlooking the prairie was a good way to start the evening. After arriving at the campground we all took a nice 10 mile ride up the bike trail to Big Creek and back before having dinner and drinks. Rick and Jana were waiting for us when we got back and a dinner of grilled asparagus and salmon was soon in our bellys. A campfire, a "few" drinks, and lots of talk rounded out the evening. I took my Salsa La Cruz and loaded everything for the night onto my Bob trailer. I forgot what it was like to pull an extra 40 lbs of stuff. Legs were feeling a bit more tired than I expected.

I got up the next morning around 6 and packed my stuff up as quietly as I could and hit the road. I made my way back towards Greenwood park to help with the first of two IMBCS mountain bike time trials on Sunday. More fun watching people race and talking with everyone afterwards. Between races, Kyle Sedore, Kurt Benson and I strapped a couple of pizzas on the Bob and hit the north half of the Sycamore trail to the start of the second race. The race finished with some music, plenty of beers and a nice schwag give away courtesy of Rasmussen Bike Shop and Kyle's Bikes. I hopped on the La Cruz and made my way home, arriving around 4:30 PM.

A good solid 60+ miles for the weekend, most of it with a loaded trailer in tow, plus good friends, good food and good beer. It would be hard to ask for a better weekend.

Going to be doing it all over again this weekend at CITA's Second Annual Ales and Trails event at Whiterock Conservancy near Coon Rapids. If the weather holds, I'll be riding up to Coon Rapids on Friday if anyone is interested in riding. I'm gonna try an ultralight camping setup with just a seatpost rack, Camelback and a Jandd frame bag to see how well that works out. There will be some gravel involved for sure, so bring a cross or mountain bike.

Friday, September 11, 2009

24 Hours of Seven Oaks

Labor day weekend brought about the 7th installment of the 24 Hours of Seven Oaks. I had been thinking about this event for a couple of years after seeing other people's race reports. A gracious Jacob Naumann had invited me, Mike Lebeda, and Ken Tague to form a 4 man team for the event. The shop's light, fast guys had decided to form a team with enough horsepower to keep the 4 man trophy in our possession for another year, so we decided to just go up, ride ourselves silly and have a good time.

I could give a detailed report of what happened. Instead I'm going to give you this summary paragraph. If you love mountain biking, you owe it to yourself to make it to this event next year. Camping is free, you're surrounded by like minded riders, families and friends, and the atmosphere for the weekend is party-like. If you've never ridden a 24 hour event before, a 4 man team is, in my opinion, the best way to take part in your first 24 hour event. Find three other people that want to ride their bikes and form a team. Ride as many, or as few, laps as you want and have a great time. I rode 6 laps during the race, more than all of my previous laps combined on the course, and I had a ton of fun. Yes, you'll get dirty, you'll get tired, and you'll maybe get a few scrapes. You will also be able to challenge your body, your mind, spend a lot of peaceful time in the outdoors, and make some new friends along the way.

Thanks to the race organizers, volunteers, trail workers and everyone else that made this event possible. A special congratulations to The Rasmussen 4 man team of Alread, Anderson, Blackford and Cline for their 4 man 24 hour win (30 laps) and the two man team of Logan and Sherman for their 2 man 12-hour win. I was also privileged to see and ride with both my good friend Paul Jacobson as he scored a second place in the 12 hour solo and TransIowa finisher Charlie Farrow as he scored a second place finish in the always tough 24 hour solo race.

Although I came back beat up after riding almost 50 miles on my full rigid Karate Monkey, I plan on making the trek to Boone again next year for the weekend, riding more laps, and having more fun.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bike for Sale!!

It's time to clear some space in the garage. I love this bike and waited for 3 years to buy it. Now that I've had it for a year or so, I've decided that it's a bit too small for me. It's too nice of a bike for me to race, so it needs to go to a good home
  • 56 cm 1990 Schwinn Paramount OS.
  • Waterford built frame and fork
  • Candy Apple Red and silver in Waterford Flade Pattern
  • Full 9-speed Dura-Ace drivetrain with Campy Chorus brifters.
  • Chris King headset.
  • Selle Italia Flite Saddle
  • American Classic seat post.
  • 20 lbs w pedals.

Asking $1100 OBRO.

Post a comment or email stevefuller at gmail dot com if interested.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Upcoming stuff

24 hours of Seven Oaks is this weekend. I'm on a four man team with Jacob Naumann, Mike Lebeda and Ken Tague. Should be a good time, assuming my legs make a recovery from this past Saturday's gravel grinder.

No Heck of the North for me this year. I really wanted to attend, but decided that I have some things to get done around the house yet this fall. I'll be keeping my eye open for race reports and hopefully I can attend next year.

Might try and hit the Honey Creek 100 mile gravel race in October. I'll see how I feel and what else is on the calendar around then.

Cross season is likely a no go this year as well. I might do a race here and there, but I'm not really prepped to be gone every weekend during October and November. There will be plenty of time to take some nice long fall rides around the area to look at leaves and stuff.

Good Life Gravel Adventure

I took Friday off work and headed over to Lincoln, NE to take part in the second running of the Good Life Gravel Adventure. and the rest of the Lincoln crew hosted a great event. We signed in at the MOPAC trailhead, heard a few words from Cornbread and we were moving around 6:10 AM. We headed east on the MOPAC trail for neutral rollout. However by the time we had reached the end of neutral trail section, a healthy gap had already formed. After turning north onto the first gravel road, I was with a group of about 15 riders and moving along at a solid pace. As soon as we crossed Hwy 34, someone jumped off the front of the group and the pace went from solid to completely crazy. I attempted to stay with the group for the next three miles, but a 175 bpm heart rate was not going to allow me to finish the race. I backed the pace down for the remainder of the first leg into Valparaiso, riding a good portion of it with Joel Dyke, one of the Dirty Kanza organizers. Even so, the first 40 miles were behind us in under 3 hours.

After a short ride north, we turned south, towards the second checkpoint in the tiny town of Malcom. At this point, I started riding with Scott Bigelow. We had started chatting a bit earlier and were riding close to the same pace. We chatted on and off, both enjoying the brief bit of chipseal near Branched Oak Lake. Scott was fresh off a finish at Leadville just a couple of weeks earlier and was still riding strong. He had a bit more power on the steeper climbs we hit but seemed happy to settle in behind me on the many rollers we were still encountering. We hit Malcom in around 75 minutes and made a quick stop in the convenience store. With the next stop just 15 miles down the road, I didn't feel the need to stick around too long, so I took off. Scott joined me a short bit later and we headed towards the third stop in Denton.

Scott and I continued to roll on at a good pace. Not too far from Denton, Warren Wiebe, John Flynn and Kirk Hutson motored on by us. The five of us rode into town together about an hour after leaving Malcom and stopped at the convenience store for a break. With 85 miles behind us, I decided this was a good spot to refuel. I grabbed a bottle of tomato juice, a turkey Lunchable, and some Lemonade and proceeded to sit down for a meal. Soon, I was looking up at the grinning face of Warren Wiebe asking if I had something better than a pair of scissors that he could use to cut a couple of spokes out with. I made some comment about being a mobile toolbox for the Kansas crew. I had loaned some tools out to Joe Fox so he could repair his derailer during TransIowa. At that time, Warren was amazed that I had a chain tool and a hunk of bike chain in my camelback. After that, I handed my side cutters to Warren and returned to eating. I spent the rest of my break stretching and watching Warren and some others use an emergency kevlar spoke kit that I had inadvertantly reminded him he had with him. Since we weren't needed any more, Scott and I took off and headed towards our last checkpoint in Cortland.

Scott and I enjoyed our last section of tailwind. We had a nice 10 mile stretch that had some nice wide rolling hills, complete with a nice couple handing out fresh bananas at the top of a long downhill. More hills and 75 minutes later, Scott and I were outside of the Cenex in Cortland. I went inside, snagged my last Nebraska Powerball ticket, a Snickers ice cream bar, some gatorade and some almonds. We sat down next to Rafal Doloto from Omaha and had a brief chat. Not too long later, Rafal decided to head out on the last leg with Scott and I.

I left Cortland and headed east with Scott and Rafal. We cruised along at a good pace and then finally made the left hand turn north and started a 13 mile push north into the headwind. We all took turns bearing the brunt of the wind, taking pulls for around .5 mile or so. My flagging energy levels forced me to take a breather and eat some food with about 3 miles left in our northward push. After the break, I wasn't able to keep pace with Scott and Rafal so I waved them ahead while I waited for the food to enter my system. About 15 minutes later I was feeling better and began the final 15 mile push to the finish, crossing the finish area at the MOPAC trailhead around 10 hours and 45 minutes after I started.

I had a great time in Lincoln and plan on going back for more rides next year. There's a strong bike culture in the area and the town itself looks like it would be fun to spend some time in. I want to give a big thanks to Oliver and Katie Banta for hosting me for the weekend. Oliver finished the race in just over 13 hours, allowing his time to suffer a bit to make sure that others were ok. A big thank you to Cornbread for putting this thing together, as well as everyone else that was involved in gathering sponsors for the event. This was a great grassroots event.

A big thanks as always to Rasmussen Bike shop for ordering in the weird stuff I ask for, treating me right, and squeezing in a quick adjustment for me when needed.

GPS Track

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm not dead yet

So yeah. Haven't posted anything in a while. Not that there hasn't been stuff to post about, but I've been too busy watching the tour or doing other things to post a proper write up.

Weekend of the Hy-Vee Tri, I worked one of the wheel pits for Rasmussen Bike Shop for the Pro races on Saturday. Nothing too stressful, just sit and wait for someone to get a flat. Great benefit is that we're out on the course and get to see/hear the athletes up close. Only exciting things were one wreck in the men's race and someone needing a 4mm allen wrench (which we did not have as we were only set up with wheels). 5 hours with my friend and riding partner Rick Blackford, along with some other characters that showed up.

Saturday night found me, Rick, Oakley Rob, Kurt Benson, Josh Newendorp and Kyle Sedore out for a night gravel grinder. Plan was to leave around 10 or 10:30 and just ride somewhere all night and make it back to the hill to properly cheer on friends and strangers taking part in the age group tri. We left near BWW around 10:30 and headed out through Booneville, Cumming (one pitcher shared, one Red Bull each), Martensdale (one pitcher just as last call was coming about), and back on the same route. We stopped in the middle of the ride for some food and to sit and enjoy the night sky. Pace was casual for most of us (no pedaling down the hills and nothing over 16 on the flats). Good times had by everyone. A quick breakfast at McD's, a quick realization that we should have bought and hid our beverages on Saturday night and we spent the next few hours cheering on the triathletes. I met Kathy and Conor for brunch at Gateway Market on the way home and finally pulled into the garage around 11:30 AM on Sunday. A nice 4 hour nap occurred, followed by food. Hope to do another one of those again sometime this year. I love night rides.

On July 17th I left home with camping equipment and my bike in the back of the Explorer and headed out to take part in the 2009 running of the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. I stopped in Waterloo and picked up Guitar Ted and we made our way to West Union where were were camping for the night. GT and I stood/sat around for a while having a few drinks and discussing the finer points of life for a while. David Pals showed up around 8 PM with firewood, food and other libations. More discussions occurred, as well as eating, some make shift grilling, and more drinks. Craig from Europa Bike and Ski showed up not too long after to join in the fun. I hit the hay around 11 PM knowing that our 5:45 AM wakeup call was not too far off. GT and Craig stayed up for quite some time later.

Saturday morning arrived and I hopped out of my tent to find DP cranking up his stove and making coffee. I started my supercat stove up and boiled some water for oatmeal, while taking advantage of DP's generous offer to boil more water for my coffee. Oatmeal made, coffee drank and with the addition of Jeremy Fry and Doug Eilderts we were off around 7 AM. We descended through and them climbed out of the park and headed east towards the Turkey River valley and Elkader. The first couple of miles had some neat rollers and then we dropped about 400' into the river valley. On the descent, figured out that I needed to adjust my disk brakes a bit since I wasn't able to bleed off a lot of speed on the downhill. GT and I both almost ended up in the ditch due to speed and the road surface. Exciting start to the ride for sure. The rest of the ride into Elkader was nothing short of beautiful. 25 miles of gently rolling, scenic river valley with plenty of trees and lots of limestone walls. We took a refuel break in Elkader and headed out into the hills. The rest of ride sat somewhere between difficult and borderline insanity. We had dirt roads descents with rocks the size of human heads, climbs well over a mile long, descents that needed to be preceded by warning signs, and after a while. we were happy to see uphill gradients in the 7 - 8 percent range. We stopped in Strawberry point for lunch, cruised through Volga, and made a final stop in Wadena for a much needed coke, ice cream and other food break. We arrived back in West Union around 8:00 PM. We cleaned up, broke camp and headed out around 9 AM. I dropped GT off at his place around 10:30 PM and made the drive home by myself, with tunes blaring out of my iPod. I got home around 12:30 AM, cleaned up a bit and dropped into bed. 118 miles and 10,000 feet of climb for the day. My Salsa La Cruz treated me well all day. Climbed well, cruised on the flats quickly. Now if the rider can match the bike, things will work out well.

Good friends, good food, and good ride = good times.

Route Link

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dirty Kanza 200

Cliff's Notes version:
  • 20 hours in the saddle.
  • 10th place overall.
  • 17% finish rate.
  • Epic.

WARNING: Long race. Long report. You've been warned.

Finish. One simple word with many meanings. 85 people started the 2009 Dirty Kanza 200. The Flint Hills topography, the 90+ degree heat, and the headwinds all combined to finish off 70 of the starters at various points along the route. In the end, only 15 people were able to cross the finish line.

Leg 1 - 61 miles

After a few final words, and a warning or two from this year's host, Jim Cummins, 85 riders rolled out of Emporia, KS at 6 AM towards the town of Cottonwood Falls. We had a neutral start through town, with a lot of filming and photography being done by the folks at IM Design Group. The jeep pulled off at the edge of town and soon we took a right turn onto gravel. My legs and bike were both feeling pretty good, so I sat in with the lead group of 30 or so, including Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey, Endurosnob, and Dennis Grelk, to gauge how the day was going to go. The group motored along at a solid 20+ MPH or so until the first climb. After the climb a group of around 10 riders including Godfrey and Snob were headed off in the distance, leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces and reassess the day's goals. My legs settled into a comfortable rhythm while my mind entertained itself by taking in the scenery and playing musical snippets from days leading up to the race. Occasionally, the comfort of "the zone" was punctured by the appearance of the video crew passing by to set up for the next shot. After a few miles of flying through some open range area, I turned south and heard air coming out of my rear tire. My highly puncture resistant Schwalbe Marathon Extreme had been taken out by a cut in the left sidewall. It didn't look too bad, so I quickly swapped out tubes got back on the bike. A few minutes later, I met up with Dennis Grelk. He and I took turns pulling into the head wind, and navigating a number of water crossings from mile 30 - 35. By mile 40 or so my back was starting to ache from the climbs and fighting the headwind, so I let Dennis ride off while I once again settled into "the zone". The rest of this first leg was uneventful, other than the constant throbbing from my lower back. I was going to have to dull the pain if I had a chance of finishing the race. As I rolled into the first checkpoint, I was greeted by Dennis patching a tube and a volunteer telling me that I had arrived in 23rd place. That explained why my back was sore and I was feeling a bit spent. Too much effort expended too soon. I'm never been a top 25 rider at these events. After the shock wore off, I looked at my tire and saw the tube starting to jut out of the sidewall. I booted the tire with a dollar bill, and made stop at Casey's for some Aleve, Gatorade and to refill my Camelback. It was now 10:30 and the heat was really starting to build.

Leg 2 - 42 miles.

The route out of Cottonwood Falls was 5 miles of chipseal consisting of a long steady climb out of town, followed by a screaming fast descent and some river flats into the town of Elmdale. The Aleve was kicking in and I settled back into "the zone". Nothing really notable in this section. We followed the twists, turns and rolling hills northwest along Diamond Creek Road for about 15 miles until we turned back northeast for the final push into the town of Council Grove, KS at mile 103 or so. I started standing on anything but the most shallow climbs and it made a huge difference in my speed and how my back felt for the rest of the race. I did have a (illegal) support vehicle sitting in front of me for a bit until I asked him to move on. He had paced someone for a while a bit earlier and I wasn't terribly happy about it. I never did get the rider's number. He'll have to live with the fact that he cheated to get to wherever he finished. Other than that, this section was pretty tame. No flat tires, just a lot of steady pace making. I pulled into the checkpoint a little after 2 PM and immediately took a peek at my rear tire. The dollar bill had worn through and more of the tube was pushing through the hole in the sidewall. While I went to work on boot #2 (this time of the dual Gu packet variety) fellow competitor Chad Meinert offered me the spare tire out of his drop bag. I initially declined his offer, but quickly changed my mind. I wanted to finish the race on my tire if possible, but I wanted to be able to finish if it failed. I snagged two slices of pizza and two bottles of gatorade to refuel and three bottles of water to refill my camelback. I was down to fumes in both my 100 oz camelback and one of my double strength bottles of Accelerade in this 38 mile section. I was also seeing goosebumps on my arms at various points, which wasn't a good sign. After sitting in the shade for a while, taking in three more Aleve, I took off around what I think was 3:15PM.

Leg 3 - 39 miles

We had a short pavement climb out of town for a couple of miles and then we were back on the gravel again. The temps were continuing to rise and the heat was starting to take its toll on the riders. Around mile 111 I came up on a rider laying on the gravel in the shade. As I stopped and started reaching for my phone, he said he was fine and was just taking a break. I went ahead and rode on. A few miles up the road I came up behind Dennis Grelk again. My legs were feeling good at this point, but I wanted to ride with someone so I wasn't suffering by myself. We traded pulls for a while until we came upon another rider laying in a shaded section of dirt road around mile 119. He had been overcome by the heat and had thrown up further down the road. He'd managed to make his way back to the shade where he was trying to recover. As we talked, my bike rolled forward and I heard the hiss of air escaping from my front tire (flat #2). At least it was in the shade... As Dennis and I were leaving, two more riders pulled up took a short break. Less than 2 miles up the road Dennis pulled over, suffering from a double flat. We walked to the shade of a cattle loading gate and each went to work on one of his tires. I put a new tube in the back one while Dennis patched the front one. While I was inflating the front one, I heard the air hissing out of it. Dennis' patch had not held. Rather than wait, I offered him one of my tubes so we could keep moving. I'm now down to one tube (and 4 glueless patches). Mile 121 - 125 was Lil Egypt Road. Easily the most gnarly section of "road" I've ridden on. Steep downhills with lots of loose flint and ruts, paired with steep uphills made of the same stuff. Dennis and I were moving along through here better than I expected when I heard a bang out of the back end and the familiar hiss of escaping air (flat #3). At this point, I decided it was time to change the tire along with the tube so I could at least make it to the third checkpoint and assess my options. Between Dennis' two flats and my rear flat, I counted 10 bikes that had passed us. I was really unhappy at this point. After changing my tube and tire and packing up the broken pieces, we took off again. I was running on a bit of anger at this point and charged up the hill. I hit the flat section at the top, looked back and saw Dennis walking his bike up the final grade. Knowing that he wasn't likely going beyond the third checkpoint, I rode ahead by myself. Miles 125 - 135 pounded at us with more rollers, but my legs were still feeling pretty good. A downhill mile of chipseal took us within striking distance of Checkpoint 3, before turning up and away across a few more gravel rollers before dropping us into the town of Alma, KS. I (foolishly?) let my anger dictate my pace and I passed 8 - 10 people in the last 15 miles. However, I had been staying on top of my nutrition and hydration needs and my legs still felt strong. At the checkpoint, a number of people sitting around, most of them having decided to call it a day. I walked into the convenience store and made a bee line for the coolers. I returned to the checkpoint area, sat in a chair, pulled out a Budweiser tallboy, a quart of gatorade, and a turkey sandwich and proceeded to refuel. A volunteer asked me if I was going on or calling it quits. I told him I hadn't made it this far to pull the plug. The temps were starting to drop as the sun sank in the west, and if I could get through part of the last leg with some sunlight, I knew I'd be able to finish. Based on the looks I got, they don't see many people drinking beer in the middle of a race. It satisfied whatever craving I was having at the time and by the time I left I was still feeling good. I called home to let my wife know I was going on and ask if she wanted me to call when I finished. Dennis pulled in with a bunch of other riders and decided to find a ride into town. I asked him if I could take the tube from his front wheel back since I was down to none. I bought a second tube from another racer, and would have bought a third one if it had been available. I cleaned the excess stuff from my camelback, threw away my now useless Marathon Extreme and set out on the final leg.

Leg 4 - 62 miles

The first road out of town was Clapboard Ravine Road. It's earned the name. I rode along the flood plain of a creek past some old houses for a short while and then started the long climb up through an area called Clapboard Canyon, alternating sitting and standing to give my back a rest when possible. One the way up, I looked down and see a small box turtle walking along the road. He looked up at me as I passed, and it put a bit of a smile on my face as I thought back to the story of "The Tortoise and the Hare" that you read as a child. I hit the top of the canyon and began a hare-like descent down the backside when I heard a loud bang and hiss from the back of my bike (flat #4). I checked the tire for damage and swapped out the tube while a few riders passed. All of them asked if I had everything I needed, which was nice. I'm now down to one tube with over 50 miles to go. Time to get my tortoise on during the descents. I turned south and rode with Jeff Scott and his sweet Moots single speed for a while. We were riding the same pace and I was getting tired of riding by myself. I looked and saw a huge, pink tinged anvil cloud off to the southwest of us. It was beautiful to look at, but the last thing I wanted to deal with was a late evening thunderstorm on the open prairie. Near mile 155, Jeff and I were riding between two fenced pastures when we spotted a dozen cows running loose. The Kansas cattle did not appreciate the buzz of our Chris King hubs. We rode forward cautiously and watched the cows peel off two at a time as we rode by them. We were literally in the middle of nowhere and if the cows had decided to run at us, instead of away, we would have been in a lot of trouble. A bit later, I rode away from Jeff on a long climb, but it wouldn't be the last I'd see of him. A few miles up the road I came upon Keith and Kevin from the Oklahoma. We didn't exchange much more than a couple of pleasantries while we rode, but it was nice to have other riders around for a while. Since I was running with only my helmet mounted light, the extra illumination was nice to have on the downhill sections. They stopped to look at their maps for a bit to get their bearings, and I continued on ahead.

About mile 160, I came rode up behind Jim from Lincoln, NE and Chris from Leawood, KS. Jim was on a sweet Salsa MTB and Chris was riding a Canondale road bike with 28 mm road tires. I had talked with Jim briefly before he left Alma and he said I'd probably run into him sooner or later. We were all running about the same pace, so we settled in and started talking. After a brief discussion about directions, we followed the route into Eskridge. The convenience store closed at 8 PM, but the bar was still open as we rolled in about 10:15. I told Jim I wanted to stop for a Coke, and he and Chris were both game for a break. I took in a can of Coke and a can of Mt Dew (total cost $1!!) and bought a couple of bottles of water to top off my camelback. After about 20 minutes of rest and a restroom break, we were off for the last 40 miles. On our way out of town, we saw one rider getting picked up by his support crew. A few minutes later, we ran into Jeff again. Our group of three morphed into a group of four and we pressed onward.

At the start of the day, Jim had been warned everyone about a creek crossing around mile 170. They had marked it with a sign and put up flashers, but they couldn't guarantee that they would be there. We took a turn onto the road and proceeded at a reasonable but cautious pace. As we got closer to the creek, our lights shined on an animal on the left hand side of the road. I looked down, expecting to see an opossum, but instead was at an angry beaver and one of her kits. Not what I expected to see in the middle of Kansas. We came upon the creek, and while it was ridable, we all decided to dismount and walk our bikes across to be safe. We proceeded west up and around Gunbarrel Hill and then were diverted off into what could only be described as an over grown driveway. Two tire tracks of dirt, with shin high grass down the middle and off to each side. As we turned south at mile 175, the dirt turned to rock, but the grass still remained. The next 5 miles were alternating dirt and railbed-like loose rock wheel tracks with grass down the middle. It was really weird to see this out in the middle of nowhere. Once we hit the gravel, I was still feeling good, so I picked up the pace for a while. Jim rode with me for a bit while Jeff and Chris cruised on with each other behind us. After a few miles I was by myself and getting anxious to see the finish, so I kept the pace up. The last 20 miles of road went straight south with a couple of jogs to the east and west to break things up. It was possibly the worst place for a straight section of road like this. At mile 195, I turned east and heard the familiar hiss of air coming out of my tire. Flat #5, ten miles from the finish. I quickly changed the tube and got moving again. My energy levels were starting to come down and I knew I needed to keep moving. About 200 feet up the road my light shines on another set of eyes in the road. This time it's an opossum. It can't decide which way to go, so it crosses back and forth over the road as I ride closer. I finally yell at it to make up it's mind scurried into the right hand ditch. The last 10 miles were more roads with lots of loose rock, and fighting off the pangs of hunger coming from my stomach. I downed a Clif Bar in 3 bites with less than 5 miles left to boost my sagging energy level. Finally, I hit the pavement at the edge of town, the road in front of the hotel and make the turn into the parking lot, crossing the line 20 hours and 10 minutes after I started. Good enough for 9th place in the open class and 10th overall.

There were a few weary souls waiting to congratulate the last of the finishers. They all had long days and weeks leading up to the event, but they were out there because we were still riding. Jim, Joel and his wife Michelle all congratulated me on the finish. David Pals, who had pulled the plug much earlier in the day and could have been asleep, was out there smiling and congratulating me as well. I can't begin to tell all of them how much it meant to have them there at the finish. Jim, Jeff and Chris pulled in together about 3 minutes behind me. I grabbed a drink and sat down for a bit to collect myself. After collecting my drop bag, my finisher's glass, and a prize from the swag table, I rolled through the Burger King drive-thru, get some food and then rode back to the hotel. I put the bike bike in the truck, ate and finally crashed about 3:30 AM.

That's the race report. I have some thoughts on the bike and other things that I'll post during the next few days.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Almost June

Went for a ride around the neighborhood with my sister, brother in law and son on Saturday. Nice 30 minute easy cruise, looking at the houses and such. Plenty of bikes to loan a couple out for a while. My brother in law got the hang of the bar ends on my Long Haul Trucker fairly quickly and both he and my sister seemed to enjoy the cruise.

I started on my next project tonight, which is getting my pre-war Colson fat tire cruiser cleaned up and put back together. My progress on it over the winter was slower than I had planned, and all I ended up getting done was cleaning the skip tooth chain. However, I'm pretty sure it's an original chain, so it's very cool to have that done. A few of the links still have some of the bluing on them which is pretty neat to see after all those years. Tonight, I got the paint cleaned off of one of the rims. Wire wheel and an electric drill made short work of things. I don't have the tire side portion as clean as I would like yet, but I'm not sure that it's completely necessary. I do want to make sure that I have all of the rust removed doing anything else. The wheels were in good shape, so it won't take a lot of work. I'm not quite sure if I'm going to repaint the wheels, polish the steel up to a high gloss, or have them chromed. I can benefits of each. The polishing would take the most time, and the chrome would be the most expensive. Since I haven't decided what color I'm going to repaint the bike, I still have some time to decide. I'll have to spend some more time over at Rat Rod Bikes looking for paint ideas. Flat olive with red tires for that Indian motorcycle look has some appeal, as does a nice candy apple red metal flake with chrome wheels.

The Dirty Kanza 200 is this weekend. I'm going down with Matt Maxwell from Ames. Unfortunately, my friend and riding buddy Paul Jacobson will not be able to make it this year due to some family issues that cropped up the last minute. It won't be the same trip without having Paul's positive attitude along. Hopefully things will work out alright for him and his family. The weather forecast for this weekend looks really good right now, with highs in the mid-80s and a light south wind. I'll keep my fingers crossed, but I won't start believing anything I read until Thursday night at the earliest. It will also be good to ride with some people I haven't ridden with since last year, and as always, make new friends and acquaintances along the route. I'm hoping to finish more quickly than I did last year. However, the route, the weather, and time spent in the controls will play a large part in how that works out. There should be close to 100 riders starting this year. I'd be ecstatic with a top 25 finish knowing the caliber of riders that show up for this event. I have to finish to place, so that, as always is the main goal.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Almanzo 100 race report

This was the 3rd year for the Almanzo 100, a great 100 mile gravel road race organized by Chris Skogen of Rochester, MN. The number of participants has grown each year it has been held. On Saturday, May 16th, 88 people started the event. Rick Blackford and I arrived at Chris' house late Friday afternoon and hung out for a while, chatting with other racers and grilling up some food on a grill in the back yard. We also took this opportunity to get our race packets. Chris' devotion to this event was apparent after looking at our race packets. Each packet had our name on it and contained: the first set of cue sheets, a professionally printed photo with the event sponsors logos down one side, an embroidered patch for this year's race, an invitation to another ride later in the fall, rules, maps to the support town. Also included was a personalized note from Chris for each rider, whether they were a past entrant or a first timer.

Rick opted to head back to the hotel and get his bike ready, while I decided to take a tour of Rochester with Chris and some other local riders. We headed to Bicycle Sports and met some other people and then headed out in a light mist through some local bike paths, and to look at the first couple of miles of the course including the first big hill. It wasn't particularly steep, but it was a long steady grade with a false flat towards the top. It was obvious that this would break the group up quickly come Saturday morning. Back at Chris' house, more riders were showing up to get their packets, and set up tents in the back yard. Rick and I headed back to our hotel, about 2 blocks from the finish line around 9. While I prepped my new Salsa La Cruz and equipment for the morning, Rick ordered us each a brisket sandwich from the attached Famous Dave's as a nightcap. Rick set the alarm for 6 and we were quickly off to sleep.

Saturday morning we packed all of our extra stuff in my truck, grabbed a shower and breakfast, then headed to the shop a bit early. The temperature was in the low 40s with the windchill making it feel like 34F. The winds were forecast to be steady out of the NW at 15 - 25, with gusts approaching 35 all day. I opted for the standard black Rasmussen kit, supplemented by arm and leg warmers, the team wind breaker, cycling hat and a thinner pair of Specialized gloves. I snagged a couple of spare CO2 carts inside the shop, and after some quick announcements, Chris was leading us through Rochester and out of town. Once we hit the gravel, he peeled off to the side and the race began. As we began the climb up the first hill, familiar faces started picking up the pace. Charlie Farrow and Joe Meiser motored past me and the group of 88 quickly broke into a core of 16 contenders, with another 9 of us hoping to claw our way back into the group. As I reached the apex of the climb, I had to turn the pace down a bit to recover, and that would be the last I would see of many people for the rest of the day. I headed east on flats and over some decent sized rollers and towards St Charles averaging nearly 20 MPH. I then crossed under I-90 and then turned west for the first taste of the Minnesota winds. Even on the pavement, the headwinds were a lot of work. I noted the effort required to push a 36x19 into the wind and worked to catch a rider in front of me so we could work together. I caught one rider on a Surly LHT and worked with him for a while, but lost him heading west on a climb. After passing through Pilot Mound a few miles later, I met up with a rider I met in the hotel that morning and we proceeded to try and work together for a bit. Our group of two became a group of three for a while. However, whenever the third rider's turn to pull came around, he would gutter us so we couldn't draft off of him. After dealing with this for a couple of miles, I decided to let him and the other rider go and just ride my own pace, rather than deal with whatever issues he had. At this point I had caught back up to Rick Blackford, who had made the initial break, but had to back off as well. Rick was busy watering some roadside trees, so I gave him a quick shout and continued to ride on.

A steep grade sign (on a gravel road?) indicated we were getting into the meat of the first section. A long, steep and rutted decent gave way to the beautiful Bear Creek valley. Corn and clover fields along the valley quickly gave way to steep forested hills on either side of the creek. It was a break from the wind, and I was able to let my mind relax and take everything in until the climb out a couple of miles later. After a bit of a flat section, I was once again descending down into the valley of Deer Creek. As I navigated a 20 MPH corner, I found myself staring at the 100' wall of stone that suddenly filled my view. This area was definitely the most scenic of the route. I'd like to head back sometime just to ride this area and really take in the views. A few minutes later and I was at the checkpoint in Spring Valley. I had ridden the first 65 miles in just over 4 hours and was feeling pretty good. I opted to take a short break at the local convenience store to refill my water, grab something solid to eat and try and hopefully find a group to work with for the last 38 miles, as the route took us north and west back to Rochester.

The group I wanted to ride with took off, and about that time I saw Rick Blackford sitting on the side of the road near the checkpoint. I asked him how he was feeling and received no reply. After a couple of minutes of careful questioning, he said that a combination of leg and stomach troubles was really wearing on him mentally and physically. I suggested that it would pass, as it had for others during TransIowa a few weeks earlier, and that he should take his time at the checkpoint. He had 6 hours to ride the remaining 38 miles. Even if he stayed at the checkpoint for an hour and took a nap, he should still have plenty of time to finish. As much as I hated to give him the option, I told RIck that if he decided that he couldn't keep riding, he could call me for a ride in. I was hoping the offer would convince him to at least keep moving and that he'd feel better once he had some rest and started pedaling again.

I headed west into the winds, hoping that I could get find someone to share the pain with. There was a rider coming up behind me, but he wasn't making much headway. After a few miles of fighting the wind it was time to stretch my back and hamstrings out and put some food in my system. By this time, the guy behind me had caught up and we rode together for a while. He was having some issues on the uphills too, and then I noticed that he was riding a road race bike with 25 mm tires. We rode together for a while longer and then he dropped back on a long uphill. The next 20 miles were more fighting against head winds with a short break supplied by a bit of tarmac for a couple of sections. About 10 miles from the finish, a gust of wind came along and soon I was sprinting across a corn field chasing my cue sheets. Thankfully, they each caught on a clod of dirt that was sitting in between the rows of corn. That ended the excitement for the rest of the day. Five miles from the finish, we turned east on a fresh, wide shouldered stretch of asphalt. A long, well earned descent at 35 MPH descent was followed by some urban navigation and a turn onto the finish street, 8 hours and 12 minutes after I started.

I'm really happy with how things went this weekend. Rick Blackford finished 20th and I finished 23rd, so I felt it was a good showing for Rasmussen Bike Shop, especially with the conditions that we were handed. I went in shooting for a sub 7 hour finish time, but with the wind, the weather, and a new bike, I'm pleased with the time I posted. My food and drink strategy for the event worked out well, and I learned a few things about the bike that will need to be changed before I head to Kansas at the end of the month for the Dirty Kanza 200. I am definitely planning on racing this event next year. There should be a new course, and new challenges, and the event organization is absolutely top notch.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Finally done


Build list

A very special La Cruz frame
Avid BB7 w 160mm rotors
Salsa Semi 29er Disc rims w Chris King hubs
Shimano Dura Ace rear mech (from parts bin)
Shimano Ultegra front mech (from parts bin)
Stronglight Pulsion carbon crank (from parts bin)
FSA Platinum Pro Ti BB (from parts bin)
Chris King solto voce headset
Thomson Elite seatpost
Specialized Rival SL seat
Specialized bars and stem
Shimano 105 brifters
Schwalbe Marathon Extreme 40mm tires (not pictured)

I haven't weighed it yet. Might see if I can track a scale down over the next day or two.

After a short ride last night, my initial impressions of the bike are positive. The BB7 brakes will take a couple of rides to get bedded in. My biggest disappointment is the Shimano brifters. After using the Campagnolo Chorus on my Paramount, the 105s feel like a large step backward in terms of refinement. The front shifting mechanism feels fairly clunky and unrefined, and I really miss the micro-adjustment. I went with the Shimanos to avoid having to use a JTEK shiftmate hanging off the back. I guess there is something to be said for Italian design after all.

I'll be riding it a lot this next week so I can get my fit dialed in for the Almanzo 100 next weekend. Hopefully the Marathon tires show up early next week so I can get them installed before the race.

Monday, May 4, 2009

TI V5 - A learning experience

First off, thanks to Guitar Ted and David Pals for putting on one heck of an event. This is grass roots racing at its finest. These two men, the volunteers, plus the challenging course make this event a gem. A round of applause to everyone that showed up to ride, and an extra round for those that finished. The event would not have been the same without each and every one of you. I only talked to a few people before and during the race. I hope to meet some more of the competitors next year. A big thank you to Rasmussen Bike Shop for ordering the myriad bunch of weird parts I've requested over the last few months and supporting me and other mountain/dirt cyclists in the area.

Summary. First attempt at TransIowa and resulted in a DNF after about 150 miles of riding. I think my physical fitness was fine, but a lack of long rides to develop the appropriate mental training led to me not being able to finish. We couldn't have asked for nicer road and weather conditions. Most everything we rode on was dry, and the temps were warm, but definitely not unbearable. In the end bad nutrition choices and bad racecraft sealed my fate.

Nutrition nutrition nutrition. It is impossible to eat enough during any ultra distance event. I thought that by regularly taking in Perpetuem and tossing down a Clif bar and a piece of pizza every now and then that I'd be able to keep myself topped off. I spent the the last 20 miles of my race trying to dig myself out of the deep deep hole I had been digging for the previous 130 miles. I had burned around 9800 calories for the 150 miles that I rode that day. I know that I didn't take in anywhere near that many during the race.

Racecraft. I rode too long by myself, especially bucking a 10 - 15 MPH headwind for 110 miles. Everyone that finished was riding with at least one other person for a good portion of the race. I should have backed the pace down earlier and settled in with a group of people for the ride rather than riding hard by myself thinking that I could bank time by getting to the checkpoints earlier. In the end, I was not more than 15 minutes ahead of some of the finishers for the first parts of the event. I abandoned my plan and I paid for it.

Next race up is the Almanzo 100 on May 16th in Rochester, MN. After that, the Dirty Kanza 200 in Emporia, KS on May 30th. I'l be riding my new Salsa La Cruz at both of these events. Hope that it performs well.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two days until TI

Bike is ready. I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

TransIowa Radio will be here. Audio updates from the organizers during the race. May be sporadic depending on how the race is going and how tired they are.

If I remember, I'll try and send a Twitter update when I make a checkpoint.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Next weekend

Total mileage= 314

Checkpoint #1 @ 40
Checkpoint #2 @ 151
Checkpoint #3 @ 217

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A bad landing with the Karate Monkey at Summerset, poor packing/delivery on my Paramount, and some parts procurement issues have given me two damaged bikes to deal with and a case of the "fuck it"s this week.

The Karate Monkey will rise from the ashes once I get a second set of Midge bars next week. They don't take direct, high-velocity contact with the ground well. On a related front, Shimano has decided that they neither need to make nor stock inner chainrings for the nice used set of XTR cranks I just picked up. 5-bolt 24 tooth chainrings must not help the bottom line. I'll find one, hopefully soon, so I can USE the crank rather than just looking at it.

The Paramount has me a bit more concerned. The bike was packed up and shipped back to me in a different box than I shipped it down in. This appears to have let something lightly, but repeatedly tap against the point of my set tube lug, and deform it so that the seat post no longer fits. I'm still working through the claim process with UPS, but I'm not holding out hope. This means that I don't get to race at Kent Park on Sunday, and any other fast road races/rides are out for me as well.

It's now slightly over a month before TransIowa and I still haven't ridden a gravel metric, let alone a full century or longer. I'm getting more concerned with my chances of finishing, not only due to lack of riding, but due to attitude. The only thing that's keeping me going right now is the commitment that I made to the organizers by signing up. I owe it to them, and to someone whose spot I'm occupying to go and finish. We'll see how it goes. At this rate, I'd be just as happy cruising around the rest of the summer on the Long Haul Trucker all bagged out as I would be racing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ramping up

About 45 days before TransIowa and I'm finally starting to ramp up my training. The 4 days I spent riding in Tucson were on a road bike, but the hills and climbing have transformed my legs into something much better than they were at this time last year, and better than the week before I left. After a few days off, I've gotten back into the groove with some mileage on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Not as much distance as I'd like, but it's better than nothing. I'm hoping that I can substitute shorter, intense rides for longer less intense efforts. I'm going to have to start getting in metrics and some longer rides just to get used to being in the saddle and practice fueling the machine. While I'm not completely happy with my preparations so far (especially compared to some other people I know), I think I still have time to get there. Here's hoping that everyone else's TI prep is going well, and I look forward to seeing you in May, or even sooner.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Weather looks nice this weekend, and I should have the mountain bike back together by Sunday, so I'm heading out on Sunday March 15 to ride the CIRREM race route that I didn't get to ride on the 8th. Anyone else up for riding it in better conditions this weekend?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tucson - Day 4

I woke up drained, but not sore from Thursday's ride. We headed out to IHOP for breakfast and then back to Kirby's to change for the day's ride. The original plan was to ride out to, then up Kitt Peak and come back into town. General sentiment was that we would head out there and see what happened. My plan was to ride out, do as much of the 12 mile climb as I could and then ride back into town. We met up with Lou at Starbucks near the campus again. After a brief discussion, we decided that a 60 or 70 mile loop back up through Gates pass and back into town sounded more reasonable. The climb up Gates pass was a lot better for me this time around. Some complaints from my legs made me decide to spend the rest of the day in my big chainring to give some of the muscles a break. After the descent we regrouped and headed NW for some sprint and paceline work out through Tucson Mountain County Park and north to Avra. As we turned west back towards Tucson, yesterday's effort, combined with the today's ride finally caught up to me and I fell off the back of the group. I followed West Picture Rocks road down into a valley and up a small climb through Contzen Pass. On the descent, I noticed a sharp corner sign out of the corner of my eye. As I came up over a small rise I had to hit the breaks hard to make the first of the two 90 degree corners that popped up. As I was getting ready to make the second one, I noticed 4 of our group sitting off to the inside of the corner. I pulled over to see if everyone was OK. Pig had taken the corner a bit too fast, and his back tire washed out as he was going through the second corner. He and the bike were ok, although they both left a bit of themselves on the pavement. Other than a flat tire, the remainder of the ride in was unremarkable. Pig, Sergey, Lou and I stopped at B-line for a quick drink and a snack before heading back to Kirby's. We ran through the showers, grabbed some food, and drove up to Phoenix for dinner with Kris' wife Jenny at her aunt and uncle's house. We had a great meal of salad, grilled corn, steaks and chops, some great conversation and a good time. It was well worth the drive up and back. A huge thanks to Dennis and Jenae for hosting our motley bunch.

GPS Track

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tucson - Day 3

Despite the humor in the house, I think everyone had a bit of concern about today's ride, an 80-ish mile trek out to the top of Mount Lemmon and back, 52 of which was the ascent and descent of the mountain itself. We made our way to IHOP to fuel up, double checked everything on our bikes, and then headed out to meet PJ and Lou for coffee. Just before we left, Pig glanced down at my rear cassette and asked me what I was doing. My race bike is set up for the flats of Iowa, so my smallest rear gear is 23 teeth. A look around showed everyone else running 25s and 28s. Since I didn't bring a spare cassette with me, this was going to probably make a long day even longer. We took off around 10:30 so that the temps at the top of the mountain would be a bit warmer by the time we got there. The ride out to the base of Mount Lemmon is a straight flat run from the edge of town. We ran a fairly up tempo double pace line to the base of the mountain and mile marker 0. After the first 3/4 of a mile, I already knew I wasn't going to be able to keep pace with the rest of the motors in our group. I yelled goodbye and settled in for the trip into the pain cave. About mile 3 or so, I passed Bobo and motored on, but by mile 6 he had caught my wheel and continued ahead of me. There's not a lot to say about the climb, other than it was steady, beautiful and painful. I found myself tapping my shifter and wishing that it would drop down one more gear. When it didn't I up-shifted to the 21 or the 19 and stood on the pedals to build up a little more speed and give my legs a bit of a change up. I opted for no headphones to make it a mental training day as well. This left me with a soundtrack of three Theory of a Deadman songs running through my head for the next three hours. I recall stopping for brief food and rest breaks at mile markers 8, 13, 17, 19 and 23. By mile 17, I had to break out the windbreaker due to the wind and the temperature drop. At a rest point at mile 23 a woman asked to get my photo with her 91 year old father. I felt sorry for the guy having my exhausted mug in a photo with him. At mile 25 I caught a reprieve as the road turned down towards the ski resort. I saw Pig and Rich pointing the way to the restaurant. Unfortunately this was at almost the peak of the mountain, and resulted in riding the steepest part of the climb (over 12% grade) as my body was at its weakest. I soldiered on for the next mile or so, briefly glancing down and seeing my speedometer read 4.5 MPH while I mustered what little energy I had left to make it to the restaurant at the top.

I stumbled into the restaurant, collapsed in a chair at the end of the table, and ordered a cup of coffee. From everyone else's accounts, I looked like I had a run in with a bear (or worse) somewhere along the way up. It also sounded like there was some doubt that I was going to even make it to the top. After a turkey sandwich and some warm potato salad, it was time to make our way back down. We made the quick steep descent back into the fork in the road, and started the short climb out until the real descent could begin. Sergey and I had chatted earlier and had decided we'd take it easy on the descent and avoid any potential issues. The "ride" down was fast, windy and cold. Temps at the top of the mountain were around 48 with winds gusting to 20 MPH when we left. Sergey and I kept our speeds checked to a max of 35 MPH. I hit a large rock at 25 MPH around mile 8. I managed to stay upright and pulled off to the side while the air hissed out of my tire. The rest of the ride down was uneventful. We took a minute to regroup at the bottom and then rode a fast double paceline back into town. Showers, and some well earned food, drink and ice cream finished out the day. Everyone hit the bed pretty early to try and rest up for Friday's 125 mile excursion to Kitt Peak.


GPS data - Total feet of climb is way off for some reason.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tucson - Day 2

Got up around 7 AM, ate some breakfast and then headed out to meet Lou for coffee at the Starbucks in the UofA campus town area. Looks like there is an electric cable car that runs in the area, but it wasn't going on Wednesday morning. Plan was to head out towards Starr Pass and Gates Pass for a 40 miler with some extended climbing to warm ourselves up for Thursday's run at Mount Lemmon. Once the rest of group arrived, we'd head out for an afternoon ride with them. I opted to give my new road shoes and pedals a test, figuring that a 40 mile ride wouldn't cause me any issues if the fit was off. At 10 bells, we took off at a reasonable but deliberate pace.

This was my first time out in anything I would begin to call a mountain (and what the locals would likely just call a big hill) and I spent a lot of time looking at the houses and scenery as we headed towards Gates Pass. Part of the way out I had to stop to fix an issue with my chain. A pin had worked its way loose, and was causing the chain to pull my deraileur up. The pin was loose enough that I was able to push it back in with my fingers, so we pressed on. First clue that it was going to be a long morning. As we hit the base of the climb, my heart rate hit the 170s and I decided to back off a bit and wave goodbye to Lou, Kris and Rich. I kept soldiering on hoping that they would stop and wait for me on the other side of the pass. I had to stop again briefly to put my chain back on as it kept falling off the chain ring. Second clue. I continued the climb up towards the top of the pass, where I could see the gang waiting for me. About 200' from the top of pass, I heard a loud bang, and then suddenly I was stopped. I fell over trying to unclip and figure out what had happened at the same time. A quick glance confirmed that my chain had finally had enough. Since I didn't have a chain tool or a spare link with me, Kris called his cousin Kirby to come and pick me up before he headed to the airport to meet the rest of our group. While the guys continued on, I coasted back down the way that I came and waited for Kirby. A few minutes at Fallen Wheel bicycle had me fixed up, and I cruised back through the UofA campus to our home for the week. 26 miles or so for the morning.

Kris and Rich arrived about an hour later, having decided to head a different direction, and ending up with 70 miles for the morning. We ate some lunch and recovered while the rest of the guys unpacked and got ready for the afternoon ride. Since My mileage was a bit short for the morning, I took off for a 30 minute spin through town while we waited for Lou to show up for the afternoon ride. Around 3:30, we headed through town and then southwest towards Saguaro National Park. Lou, Kris and Rich pulled off at the edge of town so they could save something for Thursday's ride. I opted to head out for a loop through the park with the Pete, Sergey, Mark, Pig, and Pig's friend PJ. The loop through the park is an 8 mile one way road, that starts out with three miles of twisty downhill with some sharp rollers thrown in for good measure. Afterwards, there is a climb up out of the valley and then a generally flat ride back to the entrance. The climb out gave me a short taste of what might be coming on Thursday. Our loop done, we headed back into town, picked up the other three guys and made our way home. We showered and then headed out for some food and drink before hitting the beds early so we would be well rested for the Assault on Mount Lemmon on Thursday.

Photos from the rides
GPS tracks: morning afternoon

Tucson - Day 1

Woke up at 4:30 AM and left to pick up Rich and Lou to carpool to the airport for our 6:30 flight. A 2 hour layover in MPLS and a 3 hour flight to Tucson put us on the warm soils of Arizona around noon. The Tucson airport was a lot smaller than I was expecting. Evidently you're either flying into Tucson or leaving it (kind of like Des Moines). Snagged a rental car and headed over to meet Chris at Sabino Cycles. We loaded the bikes up, bought some sundries, and made a breakfast run to a nearby Safeway store. 30 minutes later we were at the townhouse we're staying at (thanks Kirby!!), putting the rest of the bikes together, and getting ready for the shakedown ride. We left around 4 PM or so for a ride out to Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Temps were in the upper 80s and we had a tail/cross as we headed SW out of town. The ride out was generally downhill, although it was hard to tell with the mountains looming off to our left. The excitement of being able to ride someplace warm hit just about everyone as we drilled it from the start and all of the way out to the park. I found myself off the back at multiple points, not being able to deliver any power to the pedals and my heart rate stuck at around 165 as long as I continued to pedal. I was definitely paying the price for the exuberance as we left town. The group took a breather at the park entrance so my heart rate could come back down to normal, then we began the ride back into town. Lou handled the pacemaking chores most of the way back while the rest of us sat in and recovered. My heart rate was averaging around 140 for the ride back in, which was a much better place for me to be this time of year. We arrived back to Kirby's around 7 and relaxed, stretched and rubbed the lactic acid out of our legs. A quick shower and a change of clothes and we met Lou for dinner and a couple of drinks at his hotel.

47 miles for the first day out here. Not having been on the bike since Thursday, my body was shocked by both the heat and the effort. I think things will be a bit more sane today. We have a morning ride scheduled with the four of us, and then a larger afternoon ride once Pete, Pig, Sergey and Bobo get into town. So far Tucson seems like an OK place. Lots of cactus, lots of dirt, sand and rock, and plenty of cacti. More deciduous trees than I was expecting. Aloe plants the size of a small group of children. Grass is a rarity here due to the arid weather. One of the best things so far are the number of bike lanes, the sign-age, and the drivers' ability to obey them. In town, we had a bike lane that was generally two bikes wide, and where it intersected with a right turn lane, we had the right of way to go straight. Quite cool, and we had no issues getting right hooked, despite heavy traffic.

Photos from the day.
GPS track

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A reprieve

Temps ballooned into the upper 50s on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, giving me ample opportunity for post-work bonus miles. The two days of riding into and around after work with nothing more than a base layer and a wind break on have done wonders for my psyche. My legs weren't initially sure what to do once they were allowed to see the sun and have the wind directly on them. That issue soon passed. 2.5 hours of post-work ride on Tuesday and about 3 hours on Wednesday were the result. My legs are feeling the results of time spent on my Singlecross, but I have an appointment scheduled with Cindy at Hands On Sports Massage tomorrow over lunch, so I should be feeling great for our team training camp in Arizona next week. The last ride schedule has us down for 450 or so miles for the week, with climbs up both Mt Lemmon and Kitt Peak. This will be my first time climbing real mountains, so I'm expecting to come back home cooked, but stronger. I plan on taking a rest on Saturday and finishing the Karate Monkey so it's rideable. If I'm lucky, I'll get to take a short test spin on the new drop bar set up to see what changes I want to make. That's about all that's going on right now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ravings of a lunatic

A hard Metallica driven workout can do wonders for one's psyche. Just what I needed to clear out some mental cobwebs, and prepare for two tough races in May. I'm writing this here as a way to hold myself accountable for my results

I am going to start TransIowa V and finish it inside of the time cut off.

I am going to finish the Dirty Kanza in less time than it took me last year.

I am in better shape now than I was at this time last year, I'm losing weight, and I am focused. Nothing is going to deter me from meeting these two goals.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

3 hours of gravel

Met up with Webb, Sedore, Resse and Benson at 6:30 this morning for some snowy, gravelly goodness. Ended up with a little over 27 miles and 3200' of climb. With the Monkey waiting on a fork, I took the Singlecross sans studs. Once the sun came up and I could see the road clearly (since I was too dumb to bring lights), the ride wasn't too bad. The knee held up OK to the hills and the stress of the single speed, despite me having to diesel up some of the hills. I couldn't find my shoe covers this morning, so the 18 degree temps made for some cold toes. A well placed set of toe warmers fixed that issue once we arrived in Van Meter.

Photos are here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Going to run with the dark side this year

Since Leadville is off the radar for the year, I thought I would look at other options for the summer. Think I'm gonna join the road guys this year to see what the paved side of life is like. To that end, I've got new road shoes and pedals coming thanks to Rasmussen's.

I'll probably still run some of the IMBCS races this year when possible, but this seems like a good time to see how the other half rolls.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back in the saddle

Two hours at Lou's Garage tonight. Zone 3 and zone 4 ladder workout for two hours with spots of recovery after each interval. Knee feels fine. Legs feel like rubber after a week off and getting hit with an interval workout. I see what it feels like tomorrow and then decide on doing a snow ride on Saturday or sitting on the trainer in the basement. Oh, and I got my flush letter from Leadville today. I was informed that if I signed up for one of the Carmichael Mountain Bike training camps, that it includes an entry into Leadville for next year. While I'm all for stuff like volunteering to help and getting preferential consideration for entry, the thought of getting a guaranteed spot by paying to attend a training camp chafes my hide a bit. The entry fee is already pretty steep for Leadville, I definitely don't feel that it's worth any more than they already charge. I know there's some race organizers out there that don't make a dime (and even lose) money on their events that might deserve my money a bit more.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled race prep.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Preliminary rider list for Leadville was posted to the event web site today. My name isn't on the list for this year. I had really psyched myself up for riding the event, so I'm disappointed that I'm not going to be there this year. On the other hand, it opens up the rest of the year for pretty much anything that I feel like doing. Maybe this is the year to do some bike camping instead...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Down but not out

Decided to drive into work Friday since I was running a bit late, and I wanted to give the legs a break before riding to BRR tomorrow. Got out of my truck and walked into the office and *BAM*, down on a patch of ice on the sidewalk. Felt something from my calf up into my thigh as I went down. I waited a minute to get up, and then hobbled my way to my desk. Some ice during the morning, and a visit to Cindy at Hands On Sports Massage over lunch for some immediate relief and a suggested course of action. That turned out to be ice, ibuprofen, generous applications of Trameel, and no biking for me this weekend. Needless to say, I'm not happy right now. Had I ridden into work, this wouldn't have happened. The oddness of the situation is not lost on me. I'm not happy about it, but there's not a lot I can do other than taking it easy, let the swelling around my knee go away, and then ease back into things. I might be riding with a knee brace for a while, but I'm going to be riding as soon as I can so I can keep the joint loose. If it's not better by Monday, I'll like have to see a physician since it happened on company property.

So, rather than riding to Perry (or driving there and drinking a bunch) I spent today working on my bikes. I drove over to the shop to pick up cables, housing and chain lube, then set the work stand in the driveway, cracked open a beer and went to work. I cleaned the winter dirt and grime off of the Karate Monkey and then stripped the handle bars, controls and cables off for it's drop bar transformation. I cleaned all of the crud off of my cross bike, then re-tensioned, cleaned and lubed the chain. Last, I removed the interruptor bars off my LHT and ran new brake housing out of the levers. Afterwards, I rewrapped the leather tape around the bars and then finished the tape off with some twine.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Indian Spring?

I'm heading out after work for some riding while the weather is warm. I know Taylor is interested. If anyone else out there wants to join me, post a reply, call, FB, or email me. It's crossbike weather, so ride em if you got em.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Congratulations to my friend, endurance riding companion, and fellow Iowan Dennis Grelk on his 3rd place finish at the 2009 Arrowhead Ultra 135 today. I don't know how he does it.

Been a while

Nothing terribily out of the ordinary going on, so no posts recently. been getting in lots of "subsistence miles" and getting longer rides in when time and weather permit. One of those long rides occurred on Saturday the 31st. With temps projected to hit the mid 40s, I took off from home around 6:30 to meet up with Tom, Scott, and Will at Tom's house and head towards the Booneville gravel loop. We met up with Squirrel and Rick near the X avenue traffic circle cemetary and proceeded to let Squirrel pound us into oblivion on the first lap of Booneville loop. Squirrel, Rick, Scott and I pulled into Rasmussen's at 9:35 and waited for others to show up for the 10:00 loop that we had mailed around earlier in the week. Tom and WIll phoned Squirrel to let him know they were calling it a day. I took off with the group towards Booneville again, and parted ways at X avenue and rode home. With a long ride of 30 miles since the new fit, I decided that 100K for the day on the MTB was going to be enough. I shifted into the big ring and removed the gloves for the tailwind ride home, making a quick stop at Tom's house to make sure he and will were OK.

Sunday, I met up with my friend Lacey and we took a relaxing two hour gravel ride out towards Dallas Center and back. This was Lacey's first gravel ride, and her first chance to finally try out some of her winter gear. I'm not sure if she's caught the gravel bug quite yet. The scenery is a little bleak this time of year, and the winds work their hardest to zap you of your strength.

Plans for this week are either an indoor spin at Lou's or an outdoor ride on Thursday evening. I don't really care which, as long as I get on my bike. Saturday, I'm working to get a group together for the Gravel Road Ride 2 BRR (GRR2BRR) 1. We'll be leaving from my house in Johnston and working our way to Perry for their annual BRR ride. If you're reading this, you're welcome to ride along. MTB or cross bike would be the best ride to choose.

I'm still working on getting the parts together for the drop bar conversion on the Karate Monkey. My plans for mounting an IGH based wheel on the Singlecross fell through as soon as I started researching the width of the rear stays. Not enough room. At this point, it appears the Monkey is going to be my weapon of choice for both TransIowa and Dirty Kanza. I'm hoping to ramp up the mileage a bit more this month. TI is only 3 months away, and DK is 4 months out. I am probably in better physical shape now than I was at this time last year, but I don't feel as mentally prepared. I'm sure some of it has to do with the cold weather, but I also think I'm more conscious about how much time I'm spending on the bike vs doing other things this year. I haven't gotten to a balance that I'm happy with as of yet. Hopefully that changes soon, or I will find myself calling for a bailout in the middle of a gravel road in Iowa or Kansas in May.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

13 miles, 2.5 hours = complete bliss

Met up with nine others at Big Creek this morning to try and ride he snowmobile trails again. Brothers in crime included Sumpter, Blackford, Bach, Webb, Sedore, Resse, Bennett, Benson, and Squirrel. Squirrel, Bach and I met up with Sumpter and Blackford at 10 bells. Everyone else was running a bit behind. The trails were not as packed down as any of us had hoped, and the first sections of the trails were very difficult to ride on.

After meeting up with Rick and Sumpter the Pugsley Riding Bastard, and letting my heart rate drop down below 175, we rode back on the road and met up with everyone else. Everyone else was not all that thrilled about riding on the snow trails, but by this time I had dropped the tire pressure on my Nanoraptors down so low that the sidewalls were wrinkling when we were on the paved roads. While everyone else stood around and tried to figure out a plan, I blew through and onto the next section of snowmobile trail. THIS was now completely different. kept it in the 24x32 and just started motoring forward. With the trails not being rutted by the others I was able to keep flying along. Rick and Sumpter caught up to me, and we spent some time riding around on the lake. After meeting up with the rest of the crew, we split up, with Blackford and Sumpter heading for home, and Squirrel off riding the pavement and gravel around the lake. We spent the next hour or so riding the trails, and either pushing or riding bikes across a couple of hay fields. Oddly, riding in bottom bracket and hub deep fresh snow was easier than riding the snowmobile trails. We finished off the mornings ride with some pavement and gravel back to the parking lot. After getting home and snagging a quick shower, I quickly noticed the day's effort in my quads and hamstrings. We weren't moving fast, but it took a lot of work just to keep moving.

Track of today's ride is here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Big Creek Ride - Saturday @ 9 AM

We're riding the snowmobile trails up at Big Creek on Saturday morning. Meeting at the main entrance by the dam. Should be good times. Will be good to get outside on the bike again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


45 minutes on the trainer tonight... might as well pound a spike into my head. I'm riding outside tomorrow.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Here we go...

Thanks to the timely prompting of Cornbread, I am now registered for the 2009 running of the Dirty Kanza 200. For some reason I recall 2008's registration opening on Monday, so I assumed the day was the same this year. I owe Cornbread a beer or two for the assist. :) I've been perusing the list of registrants today, and it looks like we're going to have a good number of Iowa riders in attendance. For some reason the Nebraska crew is still missing Matt Gersib. What's going on MG?

Saturday, January 10, 2009


This photo sums up today's ride fairly well. Kyle, Taylor, Bruce, Kurt, Jordan, Brad and I left my house around 10:30 AM for a planned gravel ride. Kyle called me at 8 to ask if we were still going. The 6" of snow we received overnight had a few people wondering if we were still going to ride. I had planned on heading out for a ride today, whether it was urban or rolling on gravel. I took a few minutes to scope out the situation just west of my house. The east-west gravel looked great, but the north-south sections were definitely going to take some work to get through. Once everyone arrived, we settled on heading towards Dallas Center to start, and then figuring out our plan from there. We had a NW wind for the ride out. Between the wind, the first shenanigans stop and some mechanical issues, we rolled into Dallas Center around noon. After a quick refuel at the Casey's, we decided to head back. We stopped at the big drift for some additional shots at drift busting glory, most of which resulted in summersaults over the handlebars and into the snow below. We pulled back into the driveway about 1:30, loaded up bikes, had a quick beer and parted ways. 3 hours of easy riding (save for a final push by Kyle, Brad and I), but a lot of fun and good times.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ramping up

Been trying to get a little more consistent with riding now that the weather has taken a turn for the better. Got some post work urbana in with the squirrel, carlson, Rick, Conlan and the Gov'nor wednesday night. Icy bike trails and a cross bike without studs didn't mix well, so I decided to stick to streets for a good portion of the ride. Left work early to meet with a vendor a few blocks from the office, and then putted around in the area between Meredith, I-80 and Alice's road for a while. A little pavement, a little gravel, some light, some dark. All good times. 20 miles last night, 17 miles tonight.

Gravel ride leaving my place around 10:30 AM. 3 - 3.5 hours. Anyone reading this is welcome to come along. Take a ride, maybe meet up with the Drifters down on Ingersoll afterwards. Should be a good day.