cirrem recap (how not to race a "gravel grinder")

Huge thanks to Steve Fuller for opening his home to me. It was hugely beneficial to be able to relax and get a great night's rest prior to the race. I am certainly 80 or 90% recovered from the cold that I've had for the last 10 days, but without taking the opportunity to come down early and relax I surely would have felt worse yesterday morning! As it was a felt well-rested and reasonably strong at 7am Saturday and completely ready to go by 10am (race time).

Also, thanks to the organizers (and all the racers!) this event had a great turnout... Here's a shot I stole from someone else of the beginning of the start. I believe there were around 80 starters.

It was great to see all the people interested in this type of riding in this type of weather! I don't know a lot of the other riders and hardly know most of the ones I do "know", but everyone was more than kind. I wish we could do it every weekend.

Initially I felt pretty strong and comfortable with the pace of the group. I felt I could "rest" in the 10th-20th position range and hopefully be ready to go with a break-away. However, that opportunity was short lived... at mile 3.74 I decided to take a drink and somehow pulled the bite-valve off of my camelback, lost it in my shirt, dropped it to the ground (there or somewhere?) and didn't realize the situation fast enough... I should have stopped and done whatever it took to find it/fix it, but I didn't. I was spewing the 70 oz (700 calories) of sports drink all over myself and the ground, all the while knowing that I would desperately need it later in the day. I pulled out of the main group and drank as much as I could and poured the rest out onto the ground so that it would stop soaking me. I then struggled to regain my position with the lead group over the next series of rollers.

Things calmed down a bit until about mile 12 or 13 and then there was a burst from some of the leaders. I was barely able to cover it and stay with the lead. The effort gave me a terrible side-cramp after all the drink I had forced myself to take on. I knew I was in trouble, but tried to hide it (not that anyone up there knew who I was anyways) and to try to rest in the back of the pack.

Around mile 17 or 18 there was another hard break and this time I actually gave up trying to stay with the group. However, I was able to catch up by taking some extra risks on a subsequent downhill.

Mile 22 brought a large hill and I was off once again. My side, legs and lungs were killing me. I couldn't believe that I was proving to be unable to keep up with the top 15 or 20 racers in a group and I knew how great the penalty for not hanging on was likely to be. However, I was powerless to do anything.

From mile 22 until the checkpoint I plodded along alone. I could feel myself become stronger as the fluids/energy levels in my body leveled off. When the group stopped at the checkpoint I was able to rejoin them. At this point I was feeling pretty strong. However, I did not try to drink anything at the checkpoint because I knew the importance of being with a group and had no functional water vessel to refill.

I learned that this group of 10? or so had also been attacked earlier and that there were 3 people likely well off the front. I was also immediately suprised by how low the pace was of this group. It was obvious that some within it were waiting and resting and that others were just barely hanging on. I wanted desperately to be able to attack it on my own terms, but knew I shouldn't given how much harder I had been forced to work prior to the checkpoint. I decided that I would have to wait until as late as possible and that any time spent with that group resting would help me to hopefully recover and even up the playing field with them.

Meanwhile I was not drinking or eating anything... I knew that eating any of the foods I had brought, with nothing to drink, would surely lead to cramps (even quicker than just not drinking anything).

When the big hill came I knew what was going to happen... I had seen the movement in the pack and knew which guys were going to go. I climbed with them reasonably comfortably, but began to fall off the back on a long gradual downhill. I was spun out in my 38x13 gear and falling back. I was able to work hard and bridge the gap prior to a couple of rollers that were hard back into the wind, but kept getting guttered and forced to fight the wind alone. I suppose they figured I was just barely hanging on and that I wouldn't be able to help them.

I felt some cramping coming on and was forced to spin and drop back from the group. I still went hard for the next 3 or 4 miles, but knew I was unlikely to bridge such a gap. I was hoping others would come from behind and work with me for a while. At one point around here a deer ran in front of my for 2 or 3 minutes... just bounding down the road at 24 or 25 mph. Two people did catch up to me toward the end of that, but we didn't organize very well (everyone was a bit tired). We came to the next climb and I cramped up for real. I actually had to get off my bike and stretch. There was about 15 miles to go.

I continued to try spin slighty easy gears and did a good job of maintaining a decent pace. At no point between mile 48 and 60 did I see anyone in front of or behind me. I felt ok with my riding and great that the cramps were going away. At mile 62 i missed a turn (yes, I missed a turn with less than 1 mile to the finish and I'm an idiot). I may have been too happy that I had completed 62 miles on 4:02 (2 minutes off of my goal time going into the event, despite all my "issues"), or I may have been way too tired to think straight.

You can imagine how the next 4 miles went... I won't type any of the thoughts that went through my head. I was passed by one rider while "off course". I was very happy to finish and I am pleased with a top 10 (even if it was a tenth). I had a lot of chances to give up and did not. In fact, I was able to work through each mistake and feel strong enough a few miles later.

Well, that's my recap. Full results are on the cirrem blog. All the people I know finished and I believe were happy to have raced.

Here's my bike after the race-

It was nice to talk to the other racers after we were done and just to see all the finishers and bikes. In the end it was an awesome day.

oh ya- we got a new car too... I love it! Great fun to drive and with excellent gas mileage. I will be doing some "tuning" here in the near future, expect it to more than haul ass.

It's definitely an "upgrade" when it comes to our needs (and my entertainment) vs. the g35x

I can hardly wait the 10 days before the Spring Training in Decorah weekend!


velocity p35 rims on xt hubs= huge!

Got these bad boys today. My initial impression was that they look freaking incredible! They are hugely wide, have a nice quality look to them and have a bead profile that is very similar to my Stan's rims.

I threw an XT 11-34 cassette (expect some sort of a review of this vs. the sram 990 after I test them back to back- think I'll notice the difference?), some hayes 160mm rotors and then my 29x2.4 racing ralphs. This was with tubes for now- I need to order wider stans tape for them. It took about 30 PSI to "pop" the bead in place, but I took them up to 40 or so initially just to see the tire profile etc.. With 40 psi the tires were absolutely massive and with an appropriately rounded profile. I threw the rear on the bike and realized it was going to rub... aired it down to 15 or so and gained plenty of clearance back. This is worth noting because on my old Salsa Delgado rims I had much more room with the same tires and pressures- I take this as a good sign. In the summer I will run the more used of my racing ralphs on this set with 2.4 front and 2.25 rear. I intend this to be my 'everyday' use wheelset. The front wheel will also get a lot of miles on the front of the Marin (where the 2.4 fits just fine btw).

I race Sunday up at Hillside. I'm thinking these will make my already "good for a skinny bike" setup even better.

ooh, lastly... I have to thank Guitar Ted for his review. I often think he is too "nice" and might be a little too much in Salsa's pocket, eh? but these are better than he described them thus far. In all seriousness I do really enjoy his blog, reviews and opinions (even when I disagree).

The last few days I have not done much. I had a good work schedule for riding this week, but just didn't feel quite right. My nose has been running and I just haven't felt like I had any power, so I've stayed out of the pain cave. I've also avoided doing much of anything other than watching TV and going to work a few hrs a day. I'm hoping I can get back to feeling strong by Sunday morning and then maybe hit a couple 2-3 hr gravel rides early in the week to make up for some of this unplanned rest. Even if I have to rest further than that things are going to get pretty intense soon with CIRREM and Spring Training in Decorah (STD) both coming up very fast.

Have a good night!



Just got an email from the Joe Meiser, guess that means he took my wishy-washy emails (I did say I was interested, but that I wasn't sure I'd get the time off work. Then later say I'd gotten it off work, but still was waiting for more information, blah blah). It's all the same though, I knew this was something I had to do as soon as I heard about it. It will be the perfect "cap" to the endurance portion of my season. It's also going to be simply awesome! I really enjoyed the few long trekking type rides I went on last year and had made a mental note to plan a couple of long weekends to go camping alone by bike... now it's just been planned for me AND I will maybe have some company too (if I can keep up, eh?)

This is going to be great.




rear hope pro II was damaged so no rear wheel yet with that set, rest is self-explanatory


another dream?

Decided at 5pm to leave for the Blaine indoor soccer fields at 8 to do some short track cyclocross style racing with Corey and his brothers (Corey later backed out citing heartburn, so just Ryan and Justin). Soon after agreeing to go I realized I didn't have any 700c wheels other than the SS set on the Monocog, the entirety of which is covered in road salt/ice. Decided I could make do- threw a fast 2.0 hutchinson python air lite on the rear of the Marin. Then decided to try throwing the front wheel from the monocog on the front with a 2.25 racing ralph for this event. Also, since this would be the first time I ever tried it as a 69er, I threw in the 26" front wheel as well. None of us had idea what to expect from the races- and were just sort of hoping it would be worth the long drive.

We got up there and there were a lot of serious looking dudes with cx bikes and a few road bikes. Here are a couple pictures-

We learned the format would be to run 5 or 6 races of various distances with varying rules (some 'scratch', or some where the person in last would fall off etc. etc.). I was a bit nervous about the the situation with being on the Marin and all (and only really "training" (riding) long distances. The first race was to be a 5 lapper and I took the start in the 3rd row. The pace was slower than I expected and I was able to settle down and ride comfortably. I noted that the handling and "fit" of the bike with the 29" tire up front was working out well. On the last lap I found myself out front earlier than I would have liked, but had no choice but to try to push hard to the line. I had every reason to expect multipe people to blow by me on the final straightaway, but only one just barely did. I lost by less than a wheel, but it felt like a victory. Had a great time in all of the races and was able to stay competitive enough to come home with a sweet "Lazer" cycling cap and $25 from Excel Cycle. It was probably too long of a drive up there for what it was, but it sure was fun to test out the short track fitness. Good people too! How fun would it be if we could organize something similar down this way? I hope the Edge's had a good time as well, it was nice to talk with them about racing and cycling in Rochester during the drive.

By the time I got home and in bed it was near 3 am and I was ready to crash. This morning it all seemed like a dream- who races a bike at 1 am? Let alone how do you find 25 or 30 people serious about doing so.

Today I went out for a 38 mile ride at a reasonable pace- the countryside was beautiful today with iced white trees and lots of windswept snowdrifts. Hopefully I will get out for some more tomorrow. I do know that I'll be getting some cool new parts tomorrow...



I dreamed last night that I was on a long ride with Guitar Ted in which all of my friends were tagging along in cars. Each time we stopped in a city (Vancouver, Mexico City, New Delhi) they would pop up out of no where and try to get me drunk and to party with them. Each city was also becoming more and more dangerous and I was more afraid of losing track of Guitar Ted and the "ride" to the next one than anything else, but at each stop another one of the "partyers" either had their posessions stolen or were thrown in jail. The ride ended when after riding threw a sandy back-alley full of "untouchables" I found myself directly in the middle of a super ghettofied walmart checkout area (sand floors, beggars, creatures with too many limbs) and a voice over said, "this walmart is 7 times larger than the previous record holder in Mexico City".

I think I'm losing it.


randomeering? another dirty century

That's what I've been doing...

Wednesday am I left my house around 10am with no particular direction, other than a distance and effort in mind, as is my norm. Initially started down towards Stagecoach thinking I'd hit gravel out that way and work my way down to Spring Valley. Saw some interesting looking gravel to my left and ended up swinging hard east/northeast and wound up in St. Charles around mile 35. After a subway stop and dropping into the local shop I was back on the road. Wound my way back towards home on the roads between 14 and 90/52, lots of unexplored territory out there for me. Got home without any major issues right at mile 61, DOH!. One lap around the block and all was well... total of 62.1 miles, 5:21 total time, 4:40? on the bike.

A lot of my rides go down quite similarly. I never quite know where I'm going to go when I start, but it always seems that things work out pretty well. I used to think I wanted a proper bike GPS with streets/roads maps on it, but I think I'd really lose something vital about these rides if I did. There is something wonderful about just riding and being out there with no worries or plans. Granted it has taken a lot of "training" (read: riding) to get to the point where I could do this without worrying about getting lost and stranded. It was only sometime in the last few months that I began to have enough confidence in my fitness and preparation to stop worrying about getting too far from home on a cold winter day. It's an addictive freedom.


I stopped by the secret location today and looked at the current status of my gravel frame... The main triangle is complete and it's looking incredible. I absolutely can't wait to take delivery. It's going to be tortuous when I do get it from Eric and then have to give it up for a couple more weeks to get painted. There is no chance of it being ready for CIRREM, but I'm not sure the conditions there would be good for it anyways. I did realize that I will need to order a seatpost clamp (which I hadn't thought of until now).

I also spoke to Steve (Magnetic Wheels) and found out that my wheelsets will be done tomorrow. Expect pictures and details as soon as I have them. They are as light and aggressive as the gravel frame.

Lastly, I think I'm going to go with Shimano XT disc hubs laced to velocity p35 rims for my everyday 29er wheelset. I've heard good things about those rims and that should make for a durable wheelset that isn't terribly heavy. Plus they will work well tubeless at low pressures and will have a nice wide footprint for in the winter. The big question is black or red? I may try to stuff a 29er front wheel into the Marin frame for some testing. I believe it will fit with my salsa cromoto 26" fork with room to spare and will only change the geometry slightly, if at all, from the way I was last riding it with the 4" suspension fork on it. That said, I've always found that the biggest 29er advantages come from the rear wheel... so dunno why I'm even really considering it.


check this out-



"you can't train for an ironman and work 40 hrs a week"

Just something I overheard at work tonight that got me thinking. I don't know the first thing about actually doing an ironman (seeing as how I can't swim or run at all at this point) but I can do some math on the distances and I know there is a 17 hr time cutoff. I also know a few people who have finished them in the past in the 12-14 hr range. Now even if you are under the assumption that it's much harder than just riding a bike for the same length of time (it's probably slightly harder than riding reasonably fast on the road, but easier than riding fast on singletrack) that still makes it a whole lot less of an accomplishment than a competitively run 24 hr race, the arrowhead 135, trans iowa or a whole host of other endurance cycling races... ones that people I know have completed and even won while holding real jobs!

From another angle- I was on my bike 18 hrs last week while working 40 hrs at the same job as the people having that conversation. I also found time to read a couple of books, play with the dogs, do some blogging, watch the superbowl, take 2 days off and celebrate my birthday. I'd imagine that even if 18 hrs was your toughest week in some sort of training cycle or period that could give a decent athlete enough fitness/training to be pretty competitive.

The point of all this-

I stupidly (but pretty quietly) opened my mouth and said "yes you can", only to be totally shot down... "you don't know, you don't have to swim first". At first I was angry at the slight, but then it shifted to just angry... Angry that 'our' culture has become one where anything athletic is impossible. Everything is possible!

What does it take to make others believe? How much would it improve their lives (and the world) if they just realized they can do whatever they fucking want to if they just do it?

Obviously, for them I'm not the answer (and I doubt I am for anyone else either), but I know the whole network of people doing real stuff has been that answer for me. From my brother to Richzilla to the DBDers. I lost sight of my own capabilities and potential there for a few years and I thank you all for helping me find it again.


Great birthday weekend so far!

Long ride detailed below Thursday...

Relaxing Friday night with Laura where we actually made food together for once!

Dinner with my Dad and Laura for my birthday yesterday at the Green Mill. Then Dad and I talked about my cycling goals and plans. We formulated my training plan (or I should say lack of a training plan- I shall follow my heart, heh). Then Laura and I watched Michigan State/Illinois basketball followed by "hot dog"... the stuff that comes on the TV sure is different when I'm totally in charge for that one day a year!

Today I got on the road (Monocog, 38x18, 12-15 mph winds, 15 degrees) about 9 and wound my way out through Byron to Pine Island and then back down to Rochester. I hit up Tinn's for a cheesesteak at mile 52, ate way too much, and it took me almost the rest of the way home to get enough of it digested to work hard. In the end I rode 63.4 in 4:45. Now I get to take a nap and watch the super bowl.

Spoke to my brother yesterday and his surgery seems to have gone well. His knee was still numb from medication so hopefully he isn't in too much pain today or tomorrow as it begins to try to heal. I'd imagine that 3rd of 4th day would be the worst if any of them are bad. More importantly the operation was successful and went off without problems or complications.

I'm picking the Colts by 14, but will cheer for Saints.


my 1st century

Was almost exactly 9 months ago... I rode down highway 14 to Winona and wound my way back to Rochester, hitting Whitewater State Park on the way. It was painful and very slow for the last 35 miles or so. It gave me the confidence to sign up for the Almanzo though and things have grown from there.

Today I rode out at 7:15 and hit up Perkins right away for some Potato Pancakes prior to following the Almanzo course out to St. Charles. Quick bike/weather details: monocog 38x18 free (the tomicog made the trip to the Arrowhead without me), 24-30 degrees, 8-14 mph winds coming up from about LaCrosse. I left the Almanzo course after crossing 90 in St. Charles and headed east to check out some gravel roads leading out into Amish country that I've been meaning to ride for a few months now. I was pleased with the roads, but couldn't figure out how to link them to anywhere worth going beyond the distance I did ride (they dead ended pretty close to mile 53 from my house). The picture above was taken in a sort of cool place pretty far out there though...

I hit up the pizza buffet in St. Charles for about 45 minutes with 65 miles on the odometer (of note my "metric" was well under 5 hrs today). Then continued back towards Rochester on the Almanzo route but took some different turns and flew through Dover and some back roads in that area that are in no way a part of 'the course'. Finally I rode into town on the shoulder of cty 9 and back home.

I ended up at 107 miles in just less than 8 hrs on the road (almost 10 hrs elapsed though if you count my early Perkins stop, otherwise 8:50 elapsed and 101 miles) The entire ride was most notable for not really being notable... i felt pretty good, made good time and all in all it made for a boring story. Here's something more exciting... takes place here all the time-

My brother goes in for surgery at 9:15 tomorrow

I've been enjoying reading all the recaps of the Arrowhead

couldn't be more excited for the Cheq 100- boy am I ever glad I didn't just go to sleep like I wanted to after my ride today (I'd have missed registration!). My 3.5 hrs of work I had to do tonight might have been tougher than the actual ride... sooo tired.