End of rest week and Hillside race

Other than a little bit of time spent on the trainer and one brief ride outside this last week was spent relaxing and recovering. I had a bit of a cold to fight off as well during the end of the week. All in all it was nice and I feel rested and ready to get back to work.

The Arrowhead 135 starts in about 6 hrs. I'm really looking forward to seeing how various riders do up there. Good luck to all. It's too bad we don't have a good way to follow along with the progress. I can't wait to hear Farrow's embellished description of what goes down.

Raced at Hillside today! Beautiful conditions for winter riding. They did a great job of grooming after our slushfest last week and conditions ever since have been cold making for near perfect winter conditions today. That coupled with the "rest week" on the way in and I had high expectations for the my own performance in the race. I had to resort to listening to npr on the way up in order to keep the adrenaline in check as early as 90-120 minutes before race time. I listened to "speaking of faith" from 10-11.


Glad I did! The acumen fund


which I had never heard about before is a fascinating idea. I'm pretty negative about most charities but this one seems like a very good idea (at least at face value- I will research it some more later)

Back on topic-

So, I was super pumped up for the race! Interestingly, there were even more of the 'fast guys' there than normal (I suppose due to the Pugsley class just being an exhibition race this week) Then...

I fell during the prologue and went to the back of the 12? man expert field, struggled with passing people and struggled with my own frustration at having put myself way in the back. Eventually I did settle down and did pass my way up to 4th place by the end of the first lap. At that point I didn't know what place I was in, but I knew that the leaders were certainly well gone but I was hoping I could pick off a few more riders. Then I caught up to Rich on his Pugsley and he let me know that only 3 guys had gone by roughly half a lap earlier (good and bad news eh?). I was in a sort of 'no mans' land where I might not have a visible carrot up front to chase for a while (or maybe the rest of the race). I was slightly frustrated, but it wasn't long until things got exciting. Jeff Colbert had flatted earlier in the race and was out behind me and gaining fast! I had become the carrot. I could see the LCR Jersey back there chasing me down(I was running my mouth a bit online with them earlier in the week...). I knew my strength would lie in hammering up the climbs and that I needed to limit my mistakes by maybe not pushing too hard on the downhills. Over the next 3/4 of a lap the battle was on... there were some spots where I struggled, but I was able to clean it up for all of sections 1 and 2 (the last half lap of the race) and even though he was close behind me parts of the time I was able to stay ahead. That second lap was incredibly fun! And I felt great about holding it together "clean" while still putting it down pretty good for that last half lap. In the end I sprinted hard to take 4th by 1 second. We were about 12 minutes behind Brendan Moore, 7 minutes out of 2nd and only 3 minutes out of third.

Thanks to Rich, all of LCR and all the guys who work on that awesome trail up there! Winter riding on a trail like that just can't be beat.

maybe someone will post a picture or two that I can steal for ya'll



haven't done crap since Hillside! All these animals are finally starting to get along though and get their shit together.

Happy birthday to my little sister!


brother update and Hillside. plus bikes-


Brother started a blog about his recovery. He can no longer make fun of me for having a blog.

I think things are going as well as possible on his end.

I raced at Hillside last Sunday (sort of)...

The temperatures were soaring and the rain was coming down all weekend here in Rochester, but despite weather reports to the contrary the Hillside crew was maintaining that the course was rideable. I'm not up for backing down to challenges(at least until they kick my ass) so I loaded up the Infiniti, no Corey this week- congrats on the new job, and got on my way bright and early Sunday am.

As soon as I arrived at Hillside I could tell something was wrong- lots of long faces and debate about whether or not the race would be on. I put the racing ralph's on the Mamasita with super low PSIs and hit the first section of trail as a test- absolute failure. I couldn't make it more than 20 or 30 feet. However, I knew that section had already been ravaged by countless skinny tire folk and could see potential in the conditions. I figured that following 10 pugsleys would likely make it possible to ride most of the course. I also figured I was willing to take my chances on leading the pack into the single track (I have always been able to sprint/start fast and get ahead, even in races where I don't belong up there at all). Rich cancelled the race... but only for the skinny tire guys, the fatties would still ride.

Of course all 10 or 12 of us with skinny tire bikes had driven from somewhere and wanted in on the action so a hasty pact was made. We would wait until the fatties were out of site and then hit course ourselves. It wouldn't be a 'race' per se- but we all wanted to at least try out the conditions before packing it in.

The start-


I let the fellow who was ahead of me there lead out down the entire gravel section of the prologue and into the single track. The conditions were tough but rideable. I was super excited that we would be abl to at least do some riding!

5 minutes? in I realized that I was all alone other than the two Pugsleys that I had passed. The other skinny tired guys were out on the road cheering me on! The trail was barely rideable, but now I felt like I was "in" the race with the Pugsleys and the other skinny tire dudes were certainly in favor of me continuing. I had no choice. Things went well all the way through section 1, 2 and 3. I wasn't going to pass all the Pugsleys or anything, but I was having a respectable ride certainly. Here's a picture-

I was concentrating so hard on staying up and keeping some momentum that I didn't even notice the picture being taken, who the people were or the snowmen...

Section IV came and it brought problems. Due to the way we had started the race (half-assed) I had not brought any food or water... but I felt OK so far as that stuff goes. What was doing me in was EVEN SOFTER snow. In section IV I felt like I was walking/running more than 85% of the time. It was so bad that I had to run some downhills. The dogged Pugsley tracks I had been following (I was gauging my success by whether or not any of them had been forced to run the same sections I was) had turned into 10,000 footprints. It was basically hell. I got through it with visions of flying through I and II again- they'd be double packed now and even better than before. I crossed the road with one lap completed at 1:58 elapsed time and realized it was just as mushy and deteriorated as IV had been.

I called it a day. Was the right call. I could have finished but shouldn't have been willing to risk any more possible damage to the knee, nor was there anything to gain by running another 4 miles.

Brendan Moore was winning the full 1.5 lap race by 10 or 11 minutes right about when I called it quits. That was some impressive riding! I can't really compare anyone elses performance out there to my own. So no new motivation or feelings of success, I was just the guy on skinny tires who didn't feel like quitting, likely because he had driven an hr further than anyone else to be there.

Bike situation-

El Santo- sold on ebay for $960 (but I kept the race x lites). Awesome deal, plenty of profit.

Monocog- removed rear brake, tomicog continues to work awesome. This thing is goingn to be commuter only, it's just too trucklike for cross country.

marin- sold the wheels that were on it along with the El Santo so as to keep the rxls. Will be running some mavic 223 rims laced to wtb hubs that Eric gave me. Also swapped to the setback titec post on it and a wtb speed V saddle.

mamasita- bolt is fixed! is now sram attack gripshift with xtr front and rear derailleurs. Lowered the stem/bars as much as possible- worked well at Hillside. will have Stans Crest rims soon.

blacksheep (gravel bike)- tubeset is here and all the parts are here... just a waiting game now. more on this later


111 miles

sorry about the picture quality and lean- I was heavy into the pain cave at that point (more below)

Got on the road at 7:40 this morning. The weather report was calling for temperatures in the high 20s, 17-22 mph winds and plenty of freezing rain. I believe there was also a winter weather advisory and a travel advisory on that was a carry over from last night. All in all it was almost ideal January conditions for the Nokians on gravel. Things had iced over a bit and the road was relatively fast. Was able to maintain a 13.6 mph average for the first 30 miles or so despite often quartering into the wind.

Then I made a mistake reading my "Gentleman's ride" cue cards (backwards in freezing rain mind you) and rather than coming into Spring Valley at around mile 36 I just pressed on. The conditions at that point were atrocious. It was to the point of often having to ride with my left eye closed and my head down or else deal with the freezing rain snappers going directly into my eye. At one point in that stretch I was even startled by a dog, tapped the brakes and went straight into a baseball slide. Anyways- somehow I rode on for about 45 minutes before recognizing my mistake when I hit a dead end and stopped long enough to check the mileage (47 miles). I was in uncharted territory both on my cue cards and so far as where I'd ever ridden before...

Decided I would never be able to finish the full course within the constraints of daylight if I traced my steps back. The only possible solution was to press on and try to find a back way onto the course (perhaps near Chatfield). To that end I somehow only continued due south. Eventually finding myself in very hilly country around Forestville State Park. I checked out the "mystery cave" and snapped these-

The "mystery cave" was pretty lame, in the winter anyways. That was the happiest I would look for a long time...

Having never been to the "mystery cave" before I still thought that I was somewhere near Chatfield and attempted to press on (choosing turns that would take my further to my east). However, none of those turns actually went east or anywhere near Chatfield. By 2pm or so I had been out for 6 hrs non-stop with nothing but inadequate amounts of hammer gel and sports drink, and I continued to have no idea where I was (kept trying to turn and get the wind at my back). Somewhere near here...

I decided to call my Dad for help with directions. No phone. Full on bonk, no food left, no phone, lost, 66 miles on clock. I ate everything I had and pressed on.

Somehow found my way back to Spring Valley (talk about a mystery cave... mystery cave of pain and detachment) at about 3:30 pm with 84 miles on the clock. Subway city! It was like getting a mushroom in mario. Rode the rest of the way home as "big Drew".


111 miles
8:40 of actual pedaling
10hr elapsed time
1 fall
1 trucker who stopped to see if I needed help- then almost got stuck himself on the ice...
2 kids at the Subway who made the mistake of asking how long I'd been out (should have seen their faces)
40 minutes (approximately) longer than the official hrs of daylight that I was out
40? wrong turns

Hoping things go a bit easier in February... I knew this was my last chance to get this done for this month.

A big part of what kept me going today was thinking about my brother and his situation. He has been an inspiration to me with regards to trying to give cycling a serious shot- if my brother can get in good shape and compete at such a high level why can't I? (same goes my sister with her soccer and for the stories my Dad tells from both his own and my mom's younger days). In a way it has provided me with a level or reassurance that all this effort will probably not be for nothing. I've lived vicariously through his successes, used them as motivation and felt a bit jealous that I never put that much effort into anything... I see cycling as something that I can try to put that much effort into now and am only more motivated because of my failure to do so in the past (with skiing). I don't regret my decisions, but see nothing wrong with using them to motivate now either.

Anyways, with him hurt and facing the prospect of months or rehabilitation and potential hard times/self questioning... I'm hoping/dreaming that maybe I can help support him in the same way that he has helped me. I know he doesn't need it, but in a way I feel like I owe it to him. It's going to take some fast riding to impress him...


freezing rain? knees

Took Thursday off entirely this week. Will consider a long ride tomorrow, but the weather report is calling for freezing rain to continue throughout tonight and well into tomorrow. Might get ugly out there. Might be worth it.

My brother got a bumped around by some grippy snow during a training run and tore his ACL. Not much use in being negative about it, I believe he has already begun making plans for his recovery (staying in Utah this summer to be with the training staff etc.). He's done an excellent job of getting in shape for ski racing over the last many years and he will be able to conquer this with the same work ethic. I'm going to miss getting as many chances to see him/ride with him next summer, but so it goes. I will probably have to plan a couple trips out that way. Hopefully he can still redshirt for this year if he wants to. Please pull for him to make a complete recovery and for the rest of his team to have a strong year without him.


freaking sweet out there- but no camera

Got out today just cruising around trying to facilitate recovery and test equipment. Everything but the road is coated in white. The same trees and field I pass by all the time are completely different. What a good day to get outside.

by the way...


If you want to come and crash at my place let me know. Should be a fun time and a great opportunity to help us improve our local trails. If you only ride gravel/roads, you can handle it- rock your cx bike or whatever. If you are more of a technical only kind of person then hit the obstacles... old video-



may have to take pto...

well, some other things called yesterday and the ride was called off after about 4.5 hrs. Conditions couldn't have been better though! Hope others got out and rode. I don't know if I will have a chance to actually complete a full 100 miles anytime before the end of the month unless I take PTO this Thursday and give it a go then.

More importantly, I rested today! and needed it. This first couple weeks of the year was a lot of riding and I'm glad I was able to get outside this time of year and push myself to the point where I'm obviously going to be getting stronger. A few more blocks like this and I should have a lot more power and endurance by the time CIRREM rolls around. In the end THAT is at least half of the reason why I'm out riding.

I put my El Santo on ebay. Hoping to use the money from that to finish paying for the gravel rig and eventually also towards a custom fat bike.

I took the RXL wheelset off of it first though- I plan to rebuild those hubs to some superlight 29er rims for race use and use on the gravel bike. I see some possible danger in having narrower rims on my bike for race day than all the time, but if I ride on them a lot I should be able to not have a problem. I guess, when I say "race" set I should really say "faster" 29er set. I wouldn't be surprised if my hope pro II/salsa delgado wheelset ends up spending a lot of time in an all-mountain like application in my fat bike.

sorry to disappoint anyone who was pulling for me to pull off the full Almanzo- hopefully next time.


half of what this is all about

The morning is to dawn bright and sunny with 20+ temperatures. The Mamasita is prepped; complete with the Nokians, DESERVE THEM EH?, park tools frame pump, nashbar frame bag, front and rear blinkies, banjo brothers map holder etc.. I'm slightly inebriated (but under control and ready to turn in for the night). Plan to be up with plenty of time to greet the sunrise. Tomorrow should be a celebration of all the nobel, artsy, emotional, beautiful, life-changing reasons we all love to ride. At the least it will be a long ride fueled by plenty of interesting sites, challenging climbs and heavy metal in the earphones. Tomorrow there is no "plan B", Laura will be out of town ferrying dogs again, but I can't see quitting either.

For the record- the other "half"... well, if you don't know... you don't know me


big ride today and what I'm reading

Got out the door 45 minutes later than planned this morning and not quite feeling "right". I think all the junk I ate last night at the work potluck just wasn't cutting it. Glad I got going when I did though because after just 5 or 6 miles I felt strong and decided to try to complete the entire ride I had planned (It was going to be tight time-wise because I wanted to meet my mom for a late lunch). Things were solidly downwind initially and virtually flew, for winter riding, out the first 20 miles. I was a bit cold and went a few miles out of the way over to St. Charles and Casey's for a pit stop. Then it was more downwind out to whatever random intersection (see picture) is 28 miles from home (I was at mile 35 at that point due to reroute). I was expecting quite a grind on the way back with the wind and all, and the first 7 miles or so did not disappoint. However, I continued to make good time (13.5 mph average or so) and it never got quite as hard or grinding as expected. Made it home in just over 4.5 hrs right at 63.0 miles. Felt very strong on the last few climbs. Really liking riding fixed too.

On that note one of the Arrowhead 135 racers, Mr. Tri, has asked to borrow my tomicog as a 'last resort'. I'm impressed by the level of attention to detail and thought that must have gone into realizing that might be helpful/important.


I finished "where men win glory" last week, thanks to Mr. Farrow for recommending it. His story is not what I was expected and despite the tragedy I found it both motivating and uplifting.

Currently I'm working on "we might as well win" (johan bruyneel). Which is inspiring as well, albeit in a completely different way. Not sure I needed more motivation when it comes to training, but Johan's description of his stage win on page 22 or so is all I would ever need.


to the checkpoint

preparations made, work shuffled, to the rock wall checkpoint in the am on the fixocog (I'm guessing 35 miles on the out leg following the Almanzo course backwards and then 30 on the way back coming more direct). Shall be leaving at 8 and will bring the camera. Pictures will be limited to pre-ordained "feeding" stops though. Now if I do something quite different you will have to hold me accountable!

For what it's worth I spun 75 minutes on the trainer on Tuesday am and then took today completely off (I figure I'm going to get plenty of hrs the next 3 days- shooting for a "full", a metric and a 2 hr recovery ride in the middle)

I also made this nice google calendar with the events I already know about and am either in or considering on it. Hope it's viewable if you just click-



Got Bolt will travel (I will ride 100 miles, I will ride 100 miles, singing)

Found a steel bolt from a Shimano crankset that will fit. Will install it tonight with loctite. Huge thanks to Bicycle Sports for helping me out. Also, thanks to Eric for volunteering to look into a custom bolt solution even though it turned out to not be necessary. He was all about going the extra mile and machining something etc.!

I plan to go on a medium ride tomorrow and a long ride (maybe 60+ miles) on the fixocog Thursday. I've got a customized schedule again this week to suit my training needs. I should also be able to get in another short ride Friday early in the day such that I can rest up for...

Full ALMANZO course Saturday on the Mamasita. Have been watching the weather and it looks great! I have yet to decide if I will try to 'race' it at all and get it done on a timeline or if I will just take my time and putz around. I think there is plenty of daylight, warmer temperatures and major advantage rocking the 21 lb bike that it shouldn't be an issue. If you've read this far (anyone? bueller? bueller?) you're more than welcome to join me. Heck- if you actually read this junk and EVER want to do something similar to this, you aren't really slow or really fast compared to me, and you'd like to tackle something like this... well, anytime!

On a not so related note- we are now officially a foster home for small dogs. We will be getting two "min pins" Sunday and keeping them until they find homes. If you know anyone interested please pass the word on. Will get some pictures when they get here.

I'm tempted to do a "DBD" style write-up of my past year (see their blogs), but there isn't too much to say. I was so new and so far from where I want to go that it all seems pointless now. I'm as fast now on the fixocog with horrible weather and slow tires and roads as I was on my s-works road bike not so long ago. Despite that, I will say that I had a great time at the Afton 2-4 in the 8 hr division and was proud of finishing 10 laps, was beyond pleased with finally putting it all together in xc at maplelag and finishing 2nd overall for the weekend in comp, and probably even more proud of staying with the "group" until it broke apart in the heck of the north. I look forward to making those acheivements look silly... someday. Too bad I didn't start that process last weekend (told you I was only 30% over it).




this is an awesome picture- I haven't heard how he did yet today. I believe it was his first college race as a Ute (although he has been in many and won some too, I bet it will feel different when it counts for the team).

More on him-


may need a password- shoot! Details his choice of school rather than joining the national team. makes him sound admirable (he is), doesn't mention me. I'll try to get a transcript of it up here sometime. Will likely be posting more updates on his racing now that the season has started. Hopefully he stays in good enough biking shape to kick my butt! so as we can go pretty fast as a "duo" in some WEMS.


2.5 hrs, 35.6 miles of windy, slippery, snow covered almanzo course on the fixocog. By far the hardest I've ridden for that long since the 'Heck'. Feel good about it, I'd say I feel 30% closer to moving on from Saturday.

Of note- Friday and Sunday I spun 40-50% effort for 30 minutes on the trainer followed by 20 minutes of targeted stretching. That seems to be really helping me feel fresh the next day.

Can't wait for a fun week at work... starts in 2 hrs.


what happened... triple D

This probably won't read a lot like most write-ups of this event.

I learned a lot...

Lance Andre is a great guy and a strong rider. I greatly appreciate that he let me in the race with little warning (Friday night). The race was well run, organized and well thought-out. I do question whether or not the "groomer" incident(s) weren't part of his master plan though. I'm also glad he didn't include me in his post race wrap-up... motivation is good, I don't blame him for assuming I was going to fall away... (just kidding Lance- a DNF is a DNF and is not worthy of any consideration). All of the others involved in the race were knowledgeable, kind and generally seemed to really want to be there. I was forced to take advantage of the sag system and got a ride quickly and it was as pleasent as possible with my state of mind.

Likewise, the other racers were all kind and interesting. Everyone was awesome. It was nice to get to check out other's equipment choices and see a wide range of stuff that worked and some that didn't. It will be valuable to me into the future (particularly when it comes time to get a real snow bike setup). I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that an awesome race like this would bring out good people, but I'd hate to not make note of it.

I've been doing something right training wise... I can drop everything Friday night at 6pm and get all my stuff together and find a hotel and get enough rest and find a perkins and find the start and get registered and be ready to go and it can all be totally last minute and crazy, I've got the clothing side of things down within the realm of a "day" race, I can run a mile in deep/soft snow while controlling my effort and heartrate without putting myself "under" (and without destroying my knee), I can mentally adapt and stay positive even when the conditions change drastically for the worse, I can follow my plan for feeding, my 29er setup with the racing ralphs can compete with anything, I can maintain good even power output for 3 hrs (enough to win in 6+?)...

...sadly, I didn't get the chance to REALLY determine any of those things. Things were going as well as, or better than, I had visualized over and over again on the drive down, but it's all meaningless without having to grind it out at the end. I was still at the stage of just trying to set things up, follow my plan and give myself a chance. I'll be driven by the desire to prove that where I was, and thought I was going, wasn't an accident or fluke.

The "recap"-

crank loose at start- tightened it with borrowed allen (thanks man- whoever you were). Should have sensed trouble, but pushed it out of my mind.

easy roll out through town on pavement. pace got pushed just a little bit, I knew it was more than most really wanted because it was starting to tax me. I should have known to get all the way to front before the snow.

we hit the snow covered hiking trail (1 mile without snowmobile trails covered in snow) and I was pleased to be able to ride enough of it to get clear of the main field before I started running. I tried to settle into a reasonable pace that I could maintain a full mile, but couldn't help worrying about my knee. This section really separated the field out, which was genious by the organizers- I love the cruelty.

Finally, reached the real trail to find awesome, firm conditions. Snowmobile trails have seldom felt so fast to me on a bike. Spent the next 90 minutes following the trail in the snow of the one non-pug in front of me (Dennis Grelk flew by on his Pug about 45 minutes in, but then stayed just in site riding with the other ride up front). Stopped at 90 minute mark to get some nutrition and Lance Andre, Ben Shockey and someone else? caught up. I felt energized after having a drink and getting some calories, the trail was in great shape and I decided to put down a decent pace (left that group and got out "in the middle" on my own again.

groomer! groomer came by and I forced a smile and continued. I took solace in the tracks of the two before me, I knew I had an advantage because I could see where they faltered (and probe the other side of the trail). I focused on keeping things simple, organized and efficient. Lance caught up, but didn't ride away. Some sections were better for each of us, but we stayed basically together for 30 or 45 minutes. We caught the other non-pug (wish I knew his name?). His tires weren't as effective as mine, he dropped a bit back.

I dropped my chain, I dropped my chain again, I dropped my crankarm... (CRAP- THAT'S WHY I DROPPED MY CHAIN) I was 3 hrs in and 24.76 miles. I was no where near done. I laid down and considered throwing the jettisoned crankarm far into the field to my right. Realized I couldn't afford to do so. No one came, no one came, I realized I'd been riding better than I had realized. Still no one came. I called my parents, called Laura, whined, felt like crying. Finally, a Pugsley floated by. I walked into the nearest town and waited for the 'sag' to come get me.

Ordered an amber bock and a diet coke, my check card was declined! Ha- what beautiful symmetry. Used all my money on bike parts and they broke and now I'm sitting in a bar in the middle of no where feeling broke.

As I sit here now I am realizing it was an awesome day. What could I have possibly done that would have been more fun? I WILL be back next year! Wish someone would have told me how cool this race was... my number will be added to the wall in the garage with pride and the memory will be with me forever (all the more so because it was a 'failure')


crankset is 2008 raceface deus xc

problem was a stripped bolt (aluminum) which threads into the spindle... I otherwise enjoy the crankset and think it was a good value. I'm hoping that changing to a steel or Ti bolt will take care of the problem, as I honestly don't think I can choose to afford something 'better' without giving up some other things I want to do). I wonder how much the cold played into the issue. I'm thinking the temperature changes recently were what led to it's initially loosening up (prior to race the bike had been inside/outside at my house, hotel and at the start). When I tightened it at the start it was still somewhat warm from being inside and then as it cooled while riding... disaster. It's a lesson worth learning- I hadn't ridden that bike much yet this winter because I've been training on the Monocog. I should have tested it like the rest of my equipment or left it at home.

I did also email raceface warranty to see what they will say.


still working on coming to grips with yesterday- working on crankset modification (ti bolt to replace aluminum?) or replacement, decided not to ride outside today (instead ferrying some shelter dogs from iowa to owatonna). however, im sure that preparing and training for dirty kanza will do me a whole lot of good.



dnf... equipment fail, was crushing, was brutal, feels horribly unfair. will get over, post more...


triple D

snuck into this little race last minute...


sort of hoping to find help with logistics, but doubt any of ya'll (my small reader group) would be carpooling to this or have a place I could crash... or haven't already left

I'm 100% prepared to pay for a hotel too- just working on whether that makes sense vs. driving the day of. I guess this replaces the North Shore Winter Ultra! Intersting since I've already got the two snowy metrics in... I guess it more means I'm just doing more than planned. I will make note to listen to my knee and make sure things are well before I keep going hard after this. It definitely feels as well as can be expected right now, even running is "ok".



national championship game

Got up to Leb today for our ride and right away things started to go wrong... Eric's tubeless front wheel (xtr wheel, panaracer firex tires) was leaking, and leaking again after being refilled. After Eric wrangled a tube into it we got under way. I was riding the Marin with the swamp things and 32x22 gearing. Early on conditions were pretty good. It was hard-pack snow under 2-3 inches of snow. In a few spots there were drifts that were impassable, but that improved once we got to the other side of the ridgeline. I had very little trouble overall until the windy climb (with tight switchback to the right at the very top) that is about 2.5 or 3 miles in- that section was just too narrow to climb while staying on top of the bike. I did almost make the entire sustained climb after that. I knew my bike was working well because Eric's setup was obviously a disadvantage for him. We continued on and I BROKE THE CHAIN. Fun walk out... I don't know what I need to do with chains, but it's driving me nuts all the problems I'm having with them. This one is "newer" but does maybe have 300 or 400 miles on it. I will replace it.

Later I found out that the MORC guys didn't want anyone riding Leb, absolutely no one on *GASP* regular tires. I posted a brief synopsis on MORC (the tracks are out there anyways) and got a bit slammed for it. In the summer I get where they are coming from with their rules etc. etc., but I'm literally one negative post away from just not re-upping my membership. I suppose by next year I'll be on a "snow bike" (although certainly not a Surly) and it will all be a moot point. Heck those bastards will welcome me then... but this manicuring is driving me nuts. Conditions much 'easier' than today and I'd prefer riding on snowmobile trails, and they'd actually be just as challenging. If I hadn't deliberately handicapped myself by riding the 26" SS it would have been no sweat at all. I just can't wrap my head around where they are coming from.. Isn't the whole point of this stuff the challenge? There aren't beginners out there in the winter, and if there were- send em somewhere else or let them love the challenge and learn from it. When I started riding last winter the absolute harshness and difficulty of winter riding is what really drew me in. Tim W. and I basically pushed our bikes for laps up there on multiple occassions and LOVED it. On top of all that- see my race result from Sunday... I'm not even very good at riding this stuff!

Called in to work so that I could watch the national championship game. As much as I dislike Colt McCoy I was disappointed to see him go down. It's been a strange game since with lots of huge mistakes from both sides in the first half followed by basically no action here in the second. I will be happy to see Alabama win!

ooh- also super excited about


finding out about stuff like that is a huge advantage of having a blog, which I would have never expected.

ooh- while I was typing that... Texas touchdown. I'd love to see a couple more of those from the freshman to keep this entertaining.


fixocog metric today

We are pretty caught up with things at work right now so I put in to work a half night (8pm-1am) rather than the normal shift. I also have the same shift tomorrow with the balance of that 10 hrs taking place Friday. This week's schedule should really let me get some training in. I knew I wanted to get up to Lebanon Hills and ride some singletrack on one of the days and decided that should probably be my "rest" day on Thursday. I believe Eric and maybe Corey will be coming with for that trip.

Got out the door today around 10:30 with the monocog setup 38x17 fixed (tomicog) with the Nokian 294s. I had gone for a 90 minute recovery ride on it setup that way yesterday and things had worked well enough that I felt comfortable going for a long(ish) ride. The weather was gorgeous with plenty of warmth to actually be comfortable riding and no wind. I started off down my "time trial" loop (hilly 20 mile pavement loop from my house) and then took the first exit onto gravel. Lots of turns and 20 miles later I was at the Douglas Trail trailhead.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and suspected I wouldn't have enough "float" or easy enough gearing for the trail. However, conditions along the snowmobile trail were awesome! I was able to maintain a 12 mph or so average for the 13.xx miles out the the A&W in Pine Island. Crushed a mushroom/onion burger and fry combo and a couple of diet rootbeers and got back at it (sure was nice to be able to stop without the shiver "waves" attacking, what a difference 5 degrees can make). I thought about flipping my rear wheel to the 18t free side, but figured I could do it en route if necessary. The return trip down the trail was even faster than the out and I made it back to the Rochester trailhead around 2:30pm with 46 miles on the clock (well, actually 33.34 because that's where the computer had froze). Cut through and around the city a bit on bike paths (half-plowed bike paths count as "offroad" right?), then tackled the big climb back to the house. Ended up right in the 63-64 mile range in 5.5 hrs of actual riding. By far the longest I've ever ridden "fixed".

The take home message today was how much the conditions can affect things. I had ridden fixed on what should have been a harder route, but had maintained a much faster pace than I was able to last Friday. Significant cold, a little wind and loaded panniers, well, suck! I have new hope that I'll be able to get in a real century before the end of the month! Although, I still think the way that is most likely to happen is by riding the Mamasita.

I know I have a long way to go (and it will just take time) in order to be really competitive in endurance events, but I am determined to be as prepared as I can be this year (and that starts with CIRREM in 7 weeks). At the very least I already know I can ride a metic century in about any conditions, on a much slower bike than I'll be racing on and without gears. I'd love to come out and really surprise people! (although, if you are reading this maybe you won't be so surprised). A better question will be whether or not my new "gravel" bike will be done in time, or even if it will be appropriate vs. the Mamasita for the conditions. I've decided to christen it the 'black sheep' for various reasons I won't get into.

No pictures from today- probably snap some tomorrow at Leb.


2010 goals- Hillside race yesterday

Made the trip up to Elk River yesterday morning for the 1st of 3 races in the "cold bear series". This series was my first initiation into racing last winter (I know- that doesn't make any sense why you would start with these, but I wanted any experience I could get before the real season started) and they are alway a ton of fun. I was able to talk Corey Edge into coming with me for this one- it was nice to share the experience, and the drive, with another Rochesterite. I'm hoping we can get a consistent group together in the future. It was around -20 F when we were leaving town, but the reports suggested that the temperatures would soar as soon as the sun had some time.

We got up there with about an hr before the start and pulled on all our gear. It had warmed up a whole lot at this point and it was going to be comfortable. However, Corey's freewheel had frozen on his Surly 1x1. We tried putting it next to the fire for a bit, but worried that it would refreeze when he started to ride anyways. Luckily, I had brought two bikes along (the Marin and the Mamasita) so we decided he should give it a go on the Marin. It is an OK fit for him, but quite a bit different feel wise from his later model 1x1. We both signed up for the two lap expert race.

Race time came quickly. I was a little worried because I felt no nerves and wasn't as "pumped up" as I normally like to be at the start. The race started and things went fairly well. I had some consistent trouble with switchbacks, but otherwise felt I rode reasonably well. The snow singletrack for me is still more of a technical exercise than it should be- I never feel like I can really try to use my fitness without going off course. Of course, if I were more fit I would be more within myself going faster and possibly stay on course a bit better-- but it would probablly help even more if I could descend/corner as well as the 'fast' pug guys. I was in 2nd as we entered the singletrack and held that position for quite a while. I did get passed by Jeff Colbert after having some issues with some of the first steep switchbacks. However, I was able to keep him in site, reeling him in and then falling back etc., for the next hr or so. I guess I was pushing him pretty hard, with about half a lap to go he stopped and asked if I had any food... I gave him the remaining 4 oz of hammergel that I had on me and he pulled the plug on his race. I rode in from there doing my best to stay efficient/upright and work on my skills, knowing that I had no chance of catching first or most likely of being caught.

As it turned out 1st place, Dave Hoglund, finished 16 minutes or so in front of me! Quite humbling. The rest of the field was pretty strong too and 4 of them hadn't even finished. It was the kind of day that really separates people (maybe similar to my experience at Decorah in the muddy time trial last spring). It isn't a legitimate excuse (as it wouldn't have made nearly enough time for me to win or anything), but I doubt I had my best legs after my ride Friday.

Corey, for his part, came in 4th. He was about half an hr behind me. On a borrowed bike (which I know I would have been significantly slower on myself, just due to the weight and it being a SS) and in his first winter race this was an excellent finish. This was definitely a ride worthy of a comp class rider- which he will be moving up to in MNSCS next year.

As always, it was a good time sitting around by the fire after the race. Thanks to those who showed me the way to go faster (it wasn't just Dave, a lot of the Pugsleys kicked my butt too).

Anyways- I figured it was an ok time to post some goals- going to try to keep them in sort of an order in which they will occur.

1. stay with lead groups as applicable (and choose correct break-away groups for my fitness=better strategy than employed at heck of the north) in all of the AGRS races

2. finish in top 5 of overall AGRS series (thinking multiple top 10s will accomplish this)

3. finish the dirty kanza 200 by riding steadily throughout

4. ride a century and at least one metric century in each month (January may be huge challenge- continue this even if I don't accomplish it in January)

5. keep a "long-view" of my training and goals when it comes to MNSCS when things don't go perfectly/recognize that going to expert class is going to be a huge challenge and keep in mind how much faster I became during the summer last year. Probably even more so when it comes to the longer endurance races... realize that if I keep doing the same stuff I'm doing now for another year or two that I'll be a whole lot faster just because of the experience/physiology that will occur.

6. get in the money in a race with a payout (this is for you Laura)

7. finish in the top third of the field consistently in late season MNSCS expert/pro field

8. 12+ laps at afton 8 hr

9. ride consistent and strong in 2 or 3 WEMS 6 hr races and 1 12 hr (choose dates later). these will be "training" rides, but want to feel capable

10. continue to make the hard choice when training- push myself


alive yet

Woke up to "Thunderstruck" around 6:00, which usually gets me going fast (is there a better song, ever?), but I think the Keg Beer from last night had given me a bit of a headache. Three advils and 30 minutes later I tried again, no better. Nothing could be done and so I got moving. Keep in mind that 6:00 for a night-shifter like me is about like you waking up at 1 or 2 am and I never feel quite right at that hour. Managed to squeeze into, strap on and organize all my layers and posessions and get out the door only 10 minutes "behind" schedule. Decided to skip my planned McDonald's breakfast to regain that bit of time and still be able to get on the road as soon as possible. Left Quarry Hill around 7:10 and it was on.

first light-

I knew I had adequate gear and plan for the task- it would come down to my planning and determination. Soon after that I was walking... the first climb proved to be too much for me in 38x18 with the bike weighted down as it was. This would be a challenge.

At mile 7 it started to snow. How the heck it snows when it's below zero, I have no idea. My goggles fogged up so I pushed them up onto my helmet. At mile 12 the snow was bothering my eyes and I put the goggles back down, turns out the foam surrounds were frozen solid- crap. I gave up on the goggles and got into a decent rhythm up through mile 24 or so when I stopped for breakfast at Subway of St. Charles. Either a lot of crazies come through there or the 20 yr old girls working there did a good job of hiding their surprise. At that point it was snowing pretty hard still comfortably below 0. I was 2:16 into the ride. Weather.com was trying to suggest it "felt" like -25 due to windchill. I personally don't believe in windchill.

The Subway stop almost proved to be my downfall. As soon as I stopped riding I fell into massive body racking shivers and chills. I realized I would have to keep moving as much as possible if I was going to be up to the task. I ate as fast as I could and got back on the road, now with my ski hat on instead of the helmet (and my goggles just wet, as I had warmed them inside my shirt while I ate). I knew feeling I had to keep moving would be a problem- I had brought lots of endurance drink, hammer gel etc., but not enough for the full pull without anything else. My plan had definitely been to stop twice, if not three times, and warm up/eat as I made my way. I pressed on.

The next section I felt great. The sun came out and the terrain out there is beautiful. Sorry about the poor quality of some of the photos- I was rushing.

I even dominated a few longish climbs by standing up and grinding.

This one did me in-

Made it up without walking, but it took way too much out of me. After taming that beast I quickly found myself in Chatfield. I checked the clock- I was down to 11.3 mph average or so (there had been some 10-15 mph headwinds) and I was at mile 40 or so with 60??? to go. It was 11:35 or so when I got back on the road.

Magnum road was brutal. It would prove to be the last real "climb" I was able to suffer up on the bike. I could feel the lack of power at the top. This was what I had been seeking, but the reality of "it" hit hard there as the route took me up that next series of hills. I was on and off the bike a few times. I knew I had to keep moving and I was able to make decent progress despite the wind, which was now right into my face, and the lack of necessary grunt in the legs.

Hard not to be happy there... but I knew what was to come over the subsequent 6 or 7 miles.

Come spring this will be the checkpoint on the race course. Didn't dare waste too much time here today, but took this.

Then had a great time walking my tired ass out of that valley.

From that point on I knew it was more or less flat the rest of the way home. It was also 2:00 and I still had another 3.5-4 hrs of actual riding left at the pace I was sustaining. I was in Spring Valley, but knew that if I couldn't waste much time if I was going to close this thing out and that if I did stop for long I would quickly become to cold to continue. I grabbed a few pieces of fuel and pressed on.

5 miles later I knew it was all over. I had a lot of riding left and despite the 800 or 1000 calories I'd just eaten I was feeling I needed more. At that point there were just too many available excuses- "it won't be safe to press on because of the amount of daylight, cold, lack of proper food, etc. etc.".

I wheeled into the Spring Valley DQ (having DQ'd myself) at 3:30 with 76 miles on the odometer. I somehow spent 13.xx. The cold hit me. I moved tables twice to find the warmest spot.

I didn't acheive my goal of "finishing" (the full Almanzo 100 course) nor did I ever have one of those really rewarding moments when your riding and the enormity of it catches up to you. The whole thing was a struggle. It was a good way to start the year.