Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cold streak

Planned on getting up and out on the road at 7:30 this AM. Despite the wine and beer yesterday, I was up well before 7:30. About then, I looked at the temp and noticed it was hovering around -2F, with wind chills around -14F. I didn't see the sense in going out for a training ride when it was that cold, so I spent the morning with coffee in front of the fire and tending to some small nerd things. 

Ended up leaving home around 1:30 or so and riding the Mukluk 40 miles to Woodward and back, passing through Granger on the way there and back. It was cold (14F) but sunny, so the ride was relatively pleasant.  I took a bit of a break at the Casey's in Woodward and had a slice of pizza, cup of coffee, and a bottle of Hydrive so I had some calories for the ride back. The ride back felt a little bit quicker, even if it actually was about the same speed. 

I put the snow goggles on and tossed my Patagonia micropuff on as an additional layer for the ride back. The snow goggles kept my face warm, but my puff, along with the rest of the layers on my core, was soaked when I got home. I had an Icebreaker merino T on, followed by a 260 weight Icebreaker LS half-zipp merino baselayer, then a medium weight Specialized coat on top. I didn't feel overdressed, as it took me quite a few miles to get warmed up once I left the house. More work is needed on riding in extreme cold and not having dumb things happen to my clothing. The puff, as was expected, shouldn't be worn at all when riding. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Why am I doing this again?

Got up at 5:30 to try and get out of the house by 6 for a ride. I wanted to try and get 40 miles or so in towards the Rapha Festive 500 Challenge. The idea is to ride 500 km, outside, between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

I remembered that I needed to get the poultry we're having for Christmas dinner into the brine, so I spent 15 minutes wrangling a large goose and brining solution into a large bag while dressed in winter riding gear. Got out of the house sometime after 6. Halfway down the block, I realize I didn't have a helmet on. Turned around, got the helmet on and left. In about the same spot, my light quits working. Ugh, can't be having that at 6 in the morning. Turned around and swapped out batteries. Turned out of my neighborhood and noticed that my left foot isn't staying clipped in. Stop to adjust the pedal tension and check the cleat for crap. Ride another mile and stop to check the pedal tension again and raise the seat a scoshe. I'm now probably 20 minutes into my ride and I've gone all of 1.5 miles. I decide to not take this as a sign to turn around and press on westward towards Dallas Center.

Now I'm noticing the wind, the blowing snow, and the fact that my eyeballs are starting to feel more like ice cubes in their sockets. I pressed ahead in the dark for another mile and a half before I stopped and pulled my snow goggles out of my seat bag. Much better. Get to the point where I normally turn north towards Granger and head onto Woodward and decide that 40 miles is not in the books today with the temp (around 11F) and the wind (NW at 15MPH). Opt to press west to Dallas Center where I can snag some food and then enjoy the tailwind for the return leg. No more delays on the ride, other than biffing it when I hit a ice covered slope right at a stop sign. Coffee and donuts ensued at Casey's along with a side of people shaking their head at the guy on the bike. If I had parked a snowmobile out front, I bet they wouldn't have even given me a second thought.

Return leg was much more enjoyable with the tailwind and the ability to run big-ish gears. Got home just a bit before 9 AM, with 23 miles in the books. 1:41 to get to Dallas Center (7.1 MPH average), and 0:48 to get home (13.7 MPH average. Average temp for the ride was somewhere around 11F, not counting the windchill.

Not the miles I wanted, but better than nothing, and riding the fatbike sure builds leg strength. :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gettin' some miles

Got some miles and a bit of pain in this week. Bagged another 21 miles or so on the Singlecross on Tuesday between the work commute and a trip to Rasmussen's to pick up some parts that I had ordered in. I wanted to get one more ride in on somewhat skinny tires before the predicted snow storm arrived on Wednesday. 

The storm arrived Wednesday and threw plans into a bit of a spin. I wanted to bust the Mukluk out and ride in the first snow of the year, but I needed to be well rested for my scheduled VO2 test. Well, the snow came and we ended up with a little over 13" on the ground. VO2 test was rescheduled as the roads were really too poor to do any driving on. 

Thursday afternoon was the test. Overall I think I'm in better shape than I was in February, despite not riding extremely regularly these last few months. My threshold power is the same as last year, but I'm making it at 5 fewer beats per minute. My VO2Max is a bit lower than it was in February. A bit curious, but since I haven't been putting in a lot of intensity, I'm not terribly surprised. On the good news front, this for this round of testing, I made it through a minute at 380 watts and died during the sprint in the 400 watt range. Last year I made it through a minute at 340 watts and died at 360. I'm not a coach, but I think this means I've gained, and kept, a lot of overall base these last few months. I'm pretty happy with the testing results and they've gotten me stoked to hit the training hard the next 4 months. 

Saturday I finally got out on the Mukluk to get a taste of the snow, and to play with tire pressures. With temps in the low to mid teens, I was going to just ride 3 or 4 miles to snag some coffee and breakfast. I ended up in a groove and stopped for food at Zanzibar's around mile 12. The bike trails conditions ranged from unplowed to cleared to the concrete, with plenty of steps in between. I got home with 22 or so miles in my legs, all with the tires at around 7 or 8 PSI. 

I'm looking forward to getting out and snagging some more miles over the holiday break. I've signed up for the Rapha Festive 500 on Strava, which is 500km between Christmas eve and New Year's eve, so that gives me a goal to shoot for over the holidays. More base miles for TransIowa and TripleD. I think it's doable since I don't have a lot of other demands on my time this week.

Monday, December 17, 2012

TransIowa V9 - Here we go again.

My third assault on TransIowa will occur in April 2013. Prep started today in the form of discussions with JJ Bailey from Zoom Performance. JJ was instrumental in getting me into fighting shape for Dirty Kanza this year. (yes I owe my 5 readers the rest of a race write up) I have an O2 test scheduled for this Thursday to get training baselines set for the year. I will be interested in seeing how I compare to this time last year. I've managed to keep the weight gain off despite not riding as much - I'm only 5 lbs heavier than I was for DK.

21 miles on my Specialized Singlecross today. Let the games begin.

Friday, December 14, 2012

House Cleaning

I've got a bunch of stuff that is sitting around unused, and it deserves to be used. Bag has light usage on it. If you are interested in any of these items, comment to this post, or email me at SteveFuller at gmail dot com.

Arkel Commuter Pannier w laptop sleeve - $100

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dirty Kanza 200 Race Report - Pt 1.


That is the number hours I spent on the bike since late February preparing for this year's Dirty Kanza 200. Time on the trainer, time riding my workout while my friends rode off in the distance, and a lot of time riding with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. I had decided very early in the year that I wanted to go back to the Flint Hills to race, and not just finish the DK 200. Workload and projects at work curtailed any thoughts of racing in 2011. My complete physical collapse at mile 85 in 2010 left me wanting to settle a grudge with the Flint Hills, especially after persevering through the heat and humidity for a 9th place finish in 2009.

In mid-February I partnered with JJ Bailey of Zoom Performance as my coach. Zoom has coached a number of locals to successful Ironman finishes, and JJ is a former ITU World and USAT National triathlete and knows what it takes to succeed in an endurance event. The next three months would find me attending yoga classes, and adjusting my sleep and social schedules to make sure that I was as prepared as I could be for this year's race. I have to really thank my wife and son for allowing me the time and space to prepare for this event. There were a number of times I saw my wife for about an hour or less before or after a long ride post work ride.

Dennis Grelk and Adam Blake came over from eastern Iowa Thursday night to make the trek to Emporia with me on Friday. Both of them were racing too; Dennis in the Open class and Adam in Single Speed. Adam headed down the street to his sister's house and crashed. After some lengthy bike and gear talk while I prepped my bottles and gear for the weekend, Dennis and I hit the bed as well. We loaded the rest of the bikes and gear up Friday morning and headed out to Emporia. A lunch time stop at the Olathe, KS Oklahoma Joe's filled our bellies with tasty barbeque and made sure we were in good spirits for the remainder of the trip. Adam and I dropped Dennis at his hotel and went to the other side of town to where we were staying. We checked in and made our way to the Granada Theater for the check-in and the meeting.

The check in was quick and efficient. I had a chance to talk with Eric Benjamin about his surgery and recovery status. It was good to see the Adventure Monkey up and moving again. Adam and I had a beer and I headed across the street for a local church pasta feed. After the food, we headed back to the theater for the meeting. Jim kept the meeting moving along and we were out of the theater in 30 minutes. Adam and I drove to the hotel to grab my cooler and backpack so we could load it into the Rafal and Megan Doloto's car so I had support on race day. After some conversation with Matt Wills, Lance Andre and Rafal and we went back to the hotel, where I loaded up my bike for the next AM and got ready for our 4:45 AM alarm.

Up at 4:30 and quickly went about the morning's business. I got dressed and fed and Adam and I headed out the door. After a quick stop for some juice at the hotel lobby we were up the road and on our way. The temperature was in the low 50s so I opted to use my arm warmers to provide a bit of extra warmth at the start. A nice easy 3 mile spin to the start with a couple of sprints helped warm me and the legs up a bit. At the start I spent some time saying hi to people I hadn't seen in a while, and whom I figured I wouldn't see again after the start of the race. Matt Gersib and Troy Krause from Lincoln, Mike Johnson from Cedar Falls, and Michael Beck from Colorado to name just a few. Jim Cummins was standing on top of the theater sign, keeping everyone informed and giving a some shout outs to riders. I appreciated having my name called out, despite not being one of the front runners. :) Jim and crew do a great job of making everyone feel welcome.  Girls from the local roller derby team held signs with finish group times up high in the air so riders could spread themselves into like paced groups at the start.   Knowing how the start can be, I opted to line up at the start of the 14 hour group so I could stay up front where the pace would be high and where I might be able to sit in with a faster group for the first leg.

At 6 PM, the race was off and 400+ riders streamed through downtown Emporia through a crowd of clapping and cowbell ringing support crew and local spectators. As was normal, we had a police escort for the first two miles until we hit gravel and then the real race was on. I spent the first few miless getting warmed up, working my way around riders that were a bit over their head at the front, and trying to find a good group to settle in with for the first leg. Since the route was a bit different than in past years, I wasn't sure what to expect for road surface or elevation. With the previous days rain, there was a lot of sandy gravel getting thrown up in my face and mouth, which made breathing a bit difficult, but for the first 20 miles, the roads were mostly flat to gently rolling and not particularly bad. I settled in with a good sized group that had Matt Wills, Aaron Gammel and some guys from Chamois Butter in it. We rolled along together for a while, but I just wasn't comfortable with the pace for some reason. I was trying to fight going out too hard too soon, but the temps were cool, I was feeling good and I could see another large group up the road. I moved to the front, bumped the pace a bit and soon I was by myself in the no-man's land between both groups. I wondered if I'd made a big mistake and thought about sitting up, but one other rider bridged up and then passed me, so I drove on until I joined the next group about 3/4 of a mile up the road. Looking around, I once again started second guessing my move. This group had Mike Johnson, a TransIowa finisher, as well as Michael Beck and the rest of the Routine Leg Works crew in it. Mike is a horse and the RLW guys are all extremely strong single speeders so I felt a little out of my element. I had put a lot of work into preparing for this race, but still didn't feel I should be up with this group, this early. I sat in for a bit and then worked into the rotation and things were really good.

Soon we were turning onto a B-Road but there was a still large group of riders up ahead of us. I double checked and made sure we had turn markers and this was the right road as we made the LH turn. As I glanced at the group ahead of us, I realized that they were racing back towards us as they had missed the B road turn and gone quite a ways off course. I guess this means that for a few moments, I was in the leaders group for the DK200 ;). About 5 minutes later, our group and this other group came together and lots of fun and confusion ensued. We held our lines as the likes of Sean Mailen, Rebecca Roush, Tim Ek, and Joe Meiser carved their way through us and pushed ahead at their breakneck pace. Meanwhile, our little group of 10 suddenly swelled as a number of the lead group had burned too many matches over the 5 mile detour they had just ridden. I see Matt Gersib, Rafal Doloto and Aaron Gammel moving to the front as I glanced to my left and I quickly figured out that I was going to be in the thick of things for the first leg. After bagging Texaco Hill, and few miles of short steep hills, the route flattened out considerably. I settled down on my aero bars and cranked out good steady tempo with Rafal Doloto all the way into Cassoday and CP1. I followed Rafal to his car where my cooler and bag were at. When we got there, Rafal's wife made quick work of getting us what we needed and after a quick chat with Troy Krause, Rafal and I hit the road after just 10 minutes at the CP. I had made it through the first 61 miles in well under 4 hours, I was in great spirits, and my legs felt like I hadn't ridden a bike at all. This was starting to have the makings of a good race.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The calm before the storm

I had my last long ride before next weekend's Dirty Kanza 200, a nice 80 miler with some big hills in the middle, temps in the lower 90s and a heat index in the high 90s to just over 100F. It was a good ride, but the heat did take a little bit out of me at points. I'm as prepared as I can be, and, barring anything unexpected, I am confident that I'll meet my goals for the race.

As far as my ride goes, here is how it will be set up

  • Salsa La Cruz (36/46 up front, 12-27 10 speed in the back)
  • Ultrega front / Dura Ace rear derailers. 105 brifters. 
  • Stronglight Pulsion carbon crankset 
  • Avid BB7 road disc brakes
  • Stans ZTR Crest 29er rims with Schwalbe Marathon Mondial HS tires (tubeless)
  • Revelate Tangle frame bag
  • Profile T3+ aero bars
  • Profile seatpost water bottle mount.
  • Garmin 800
Other than maybe the crankset, nothing particularly exotic. All of it has a bunch of miles on it and has been extremely dependable during the last few months of training rides. The weather forecast is currently looking pretty mild compared to normal years, so I'm hoping 4 bottles per segment is enough.

The rest of this week is mostly 90 minute easy rides and one short set of intervals so that the motor doesn't forget what it's supposed to do this weekend. I'm looking forward to spending some time with my friends Dennis and Adam on the trip down and back, as well as meeting up with some people that I haven't seen in a couple of years. Talking with friends old and new is the highlight of these events for me. A weekend with like-minded folks is always good for the head and the soul. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dirty Kanza 200 Prep

No posts lately due to spending almost all of my spare time the last month and a half preparing the body and the bike for the Dirty Kanza 200. 12 - 18 hour weeks on the bike have been the norm. It has been tiring, and it has been tough balancing work, home and riding, but I think I have things in a reasonable state, and the date is almost here. Have had a lot of 200 and nearly 300 mile weeks in my legs, with a good mix of short and long rides, plus intervals, gravel rides, and some mountain biking.

I've had some friends along on various training rides, but there's been a lot of riding alone, which is good as it gives me time to focus on my goal, which is to finish this beast of a race in 15 hours - an average speed of 13.6 MPH for 205 miles. This means minimal time off the bike, a flawlessly executed plan at the checkpoints, no hydration or nutrition mistakes, and some luck.

With 2 weeks of training left before a bit of taper before the race, time is running out. My weight is close to where I want it, and I have almost everything dialed in on the bike, other than some lighting decisions. JJ Bailey at Zoom Performance has been instrumental in getting me to where I'm at now. With a few tweaks these final three weeks, I'm going to be in the best shape I've ever been in for this event.

For now, I leave you with this. This beautiful, but isolated scenery is what keeps drawing me back to this race time and time again. You can lose and find yourself out here all at once. Click for a better view.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Fargo V2

Left on a S24O on Friday afternoon with a bunch of friends. Plan was to camp by the river under the High Trestle Trail bridge, cook some meat over a big bonfire and enjoy a beverage or two. Everyone met at Kyle's Bikes in Ankeny around 3 and we headed down the trail towards Madrid. A few beverage stops later and we found ourselves inside of the Flat Tire Lounge for another beverage or two. We wanted to make the camp site before it got dark, so we finished our drinks, hit the store for some grub and made our way to our camp area.

Five of us rode (or walked) the steep gnarly descent under the bridge and started our firewood gathering. Meanwhile, the sound of the chainsaw, or an eagle eye tipped off the county sheriff to our presence under the bridge. A short conversation was had and soon we were pushing our bikes up 13 stories worth of hill to find another campground. A brief rainstorm during a flat change on the way back to Madrid left me soaked since I forgot to bring a rainshell with me. :(

We called a friend's coworker who lived in town and ended up camping in his yard, rather than ride another 3 miles to the closest campground. Thankfully we made a quick side trip to a convenience store before hand. Campfire wood was soaked, so I grabbed a package of ramen and two small bags of smoked almonds. After we arrived at our "campground" I set up my tarp, bivy and bag, then proceeded to pull my  supercat stove out and make a hot Snowpeak cup of ramen while I munched on the almonds. While others in the group opted for a couple more drinks, I slipped into my sleeping bag so I could get some rest.

Sleep was mostly good, if a bit restless after 4 AM or so. About 7 AM I finally got up, cleaned my cup out, and fired up the stove and made a cup of coffee after crawling back in my bag. We broke camp steadily, if slowly, then pedaled downtown for breakfast before heading back down the trail for the 90 minute ride home.

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I brought both my tarp/bivy setup and my hammock to sleep in, not being completely sure of how the area below the bridge would be for bivy setup. I ended up not using it, and carrying a couple of extra pounds for no reason. 
  • The tarp/bivy combination worked out fairly well. I was dry and warm the entire night. Running my tyvek ground cloth through the washer, as suggested on, really helped to soften it up and make it a lot less noisy. The poles I took were hard to pack, and I had some issues with the grommet slipping down overnight since the tarp I'm using isn't really designed to be used in this way. I'll keep using this setup for a while before I invest in lighter, smaller poles and a lighter purpose built tarp.
  • My $3 reflectix autoshade was awesome for helping keep me warm. It was the only thing between me and the ground other than the bottom of my bag and the tyvek. I think that next time I will put it inside of the bag or the bivy so that it doesn't move out from underneath me.
  • Not bringing a rainshell was a completely boneheaded move. I had plenty of room in my seatpack for it so there was no excuse other than just being dumb. 
  • Events of the evening reinforced my opinion that I should pack my stove, cup and fuel for any trip. Without them, I would have gone to bed colder and hungrier tan I would have liked. 
  • Bike w water, food and gear was 52 lbs. Plenty of places to cut weight though. Removing the second sleep setup, cans of beer and the flask of whiskey will help a lot. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog update - Seal Team 6 Edition

Targeting the Dirty Kanza 200 with a vengeance this year. Didn't enter in 2011 due to work commitments, and my 2010 entry ended with a complete shutdown at mile 85 (I'm still not sure how I could be falling asleep and pedaling at the same time). My first goal is to finish on Saturday, rather than Sunday morning. My second goal is an overall time of 15 hours with breaks. I think it's doable if I ride smart and avoid any mechanicals. I've engaged the services of Zoom Performance coach JJ Bailey. He's been a successful endurance athlete over the years and he had an opening in his schedule so I decided to go for it. My training has never been very organized. Ride, ride, ride, ride some more, rest when you tired, repeat. My coached sessions have me riding a lot of 1.5 - 2 hour blocks with specific goals in mind. Seat time, hard intervals, watching my heart rate, etc. Long rides have been in the 3.5 - 4 hour range. It's definitely a different approach. Despite the lack of distance so far, my weight is just under 200 lbs in March (woot!), and it feels like my fitness is the best it's been in a long time. Hopefully I can drop another 10 - 15 lbs before race weekend in early June to bring my power to weight ratio in line a bit more than it is. With vacation on the horizon this week, I hope to get my Triple-D and CIRREM race reports up as well. That's about all for now.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Fatbike Adventure

Shot some emails around earlier this weekend and got some takers for exploring the shores of a very low Saylorville reservoir this morning. I got up early, and made a thermos of hot tea with honey and some soup in case I got hungry.

Scott Sumpter, Kyle Sedore, Taylor Webb and I all met at the Lincoln Access boat ramp at 8 AM and headed north along the shore. With temps in the 20s and the wind blowing at a steady 20 MPH, movement was required just to stay warm unless you had some sort of windbreak. Recalling that my back tire felt low on a post Christmas ride, I put some extra air into it before I left. I didn't think the front tire was that low, until we hit the first of a few rocky sections and the rocks were dinging into my rims. I found an out of the wind spot, pulled out my Quicker Pro pump and was good to go in a few minutes. We spent the next couple of hours riding along the shorelines of the lake, and back away a bit on the interesting parts. We made it as far as the Hwy 17 bridge about 5.5 miles north. We took a quick break there, had a hot drink and then headed back south with the wind at our backs.

The ride back was uneventful for everyone other than Kyle. About halfway back he snagged a a metal cable and tumbed ass over tea-kettle down the hill a ways. Other than a few bruises Kyle was undamaged. The large rocks strewn about on the hillside didn't help with the bruising. About a mile from the boat ramp, Kyle's rear derailer hanger snapped off. I'm not sure if it was damaged during the earlier fall or if it got snagged on something else. I pulled out a multitool so Kyle could remove the derailer, and between coasting, walking and some pushing we were able to get him back to Taylor's van.

All in all, a good fun couple of hours on the bike with good friends. Looking at the shoreline, I think it's possible that we could ride up to the High Trestle Bridge just by going along the shore. Another adventure for another time.

While my thermos was fine, the canteen I used for the soup was definitely not insulated and it ended up chilling fairly quickly. I'll have to track down a small thermos if I want to try that again. I opened up some toe warmers for the days ride and applied them to my feet. It didn't take too much riding to figure out that they weren't working terribly well. When I got home from the ride, I noticed that they expired in 2007. I won't make that mistake again. Thankfully no toe issues other than just being cold.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year - New Stuff

Been spending a lot of time the past few weeks on my Mukluk trying to get ready for the Triple-D Adventure Race coming up on January 15th. This has been greatly complicated by the lack of snow and 40 - 50 degree temps we've had throughout most of November and December. I've been making due by riding the Mukluk everywhere I can and on any surface possible. 30 mile pavement rides, sandbar excursions, singletrack, long driveline killing gravel rides, and every empty bean and clover field I can find during my morning commute. With just a couple of weeks left before the race, the chances for snow are still looking fairly slim. I'm still not sure if I'll be on the Mukluk or my Dos Niner for the race. Knowing Lance Andre, the Dos Niner won't be a safe choice, even if there isn't any snow.
Porcelain_Rocket_013.jpg Dirty driveline

The 2012 running of the CIRREM is happening again this February. For the first time, the field was capped at 125 riders. Due to the cap, the race field filled up in just over 24 hours. I know a lot of people that didn't make it in due to the cap and the speed that it filled. I managed to get my registration completed in time to make the field, so late February will be another opportunity to test my fitness before heading into the spring gravel race season.

I'm passing on racing TransIowa V8 for the opportunity to record the event in photographs again. I really enjoyed recording the event last year, and based on the feedback I received, the riders enjoyed the photos of themselves too. Last year was a learning experience and I hope to apply some of those lessons to this year's photos. I can't begin to thank Guitar Ted for allowing me out on the course again this year.

That's the update for now. I'm headed out with some friends tomorrow on a fatbike adventure. Hoping to get some good photos and have a memorable day on the bike.