dirt bag, health crap, sale stuff

Rested all week, major lingering effects from the Night Nonsense. Riding through the night seems to do that to me. I'm sure my continuing cold symptoms don't help either. On that topic- I had an allergy test monday which turned up negative for common MN allergens. Thus a ct scan of my sinuses was scheduled for Friday (get results tomorrow?). I made it out to the Thursday night CX practice race with the thought that 3 full days would have been plenty of rest and that it was time to use the legs a bit again. Quickly realized I felt like absolute crap. Had a decent lead early, but felt bad enough that only 2 or 3 laps in I started to think about pulling and actually stopped to pee. Did pull out after 5 laps. Knew that I wasn't helping my chances for the dirt bag by riding when I felt THAT bad. Got a good night's rest Thursday night and went out for a 20 minute "leg" test Friday after work. Decided that I felt good enough to warrant making the trip to St. Cloud for the race. Then again, it wasn't like I could think of anything else I'd rather spend my Saturday morning doing and I probably wouldn't have missed it unless I literally couldn't ride.

5:30 came early Saturday. Long drive to St. Cloud. Interesting mood at the start- all the riders keeping to themselves. Pace went sky high early after the neutral start. First 10 or 12 miles of gravel were covered at a close to 22 mph average. I was feeling suprisingly good and was able to comfortably hold a wheel throughout as well as take a couple short turns out front. Soon found myself in a lead group of 5 riders. Figured we would slow down a bit and ride together. We DID ride together, but we did not significantly reduce the pace until close to the 50 mile mark. I was looking at a 19.9 mph average at that checkpoint. Has to be the fastest I've ever ridden on gravel for that length. Still I was feeling somewhat OK and felt I had a good shot at taking 2nd or 3rd (there was no doubt in my mind about who would eventually win). Some of the others were suffering a bit and I was feeling good.

Excellent cookies at the checkpoint. Refilled two of my four bottles and continued on. Around mile 65 there was an attack. I was able to cover it with relative ease and now there were 3 of us. We rode together for the next 4 or 5 miles in relative comfort. There were a couple of pace changes and one hard attack (where I even tried a counter-attack in order to try to split us down further). However, around mile 73 a switch flipped and I was just completely done. Fell back to the 2 who were chasing us, couldn't hold them, really had no interest in riding faster than 13 or 14 mph. So that's what I did. Finished with 82 miles and 4:31 on the clock and 6 minutes behind (the pace had slowed significantly between mile 50 and 65 while everyone sort of rested and thought about what to do next). Proud of how I rode. Wouldn't have wanted to 'race' for 3rd so don't feel bad that I may have lost it by trying to get 1st or 2nd and going with that attack. Really good course and nice people. Will be back next year. Maybe will get to steal some pictures soon.

I need to sell some good stuff-

Velocity p35 rims/xt hubs- barely any use $200

mavic ksyrium es- like new $475

ambrosio crono tubulars/dtswiss 240 centerlock hubs and 2 sets of tubular cx tires- $350 (likely sold)

contact me for pictures


borrow a pugsley?

I'd really like the opportunity to have one for about two weeks this year (one in December and one in January).

The rest of my winter training will be spent on gravels on 700x45s as that is what is available to me right in my backyard. Simply can't justify the expense of owning one of the damn things.

Would want to get a few rides in to increase comfort level and then race the Tuscobia 75 mile event (sorry to wimp out from the "big one", but it just doesn't fit with my plans and goals) in late December. And then similar situation in mid January for Triple D.

No promises I won't show up for both on my 29er if something doesn't work out (or that I won't ride the Mamasita at both regardless based on snow conditions), but I'm having a hard time with justifying the entry without knowing I have the weapon.


Dear Mr. Farrow Letter

Dear Mr. Farrow

I trust all is well in the Northland and that your preparations for this weekends Dirt Bag have come along well. Things are likewise excellent here in Rochester. We've had good turnouts for our Tuesday night social rides, Thursday night CX practice races and the indomitable Mr. Skogen's first micro cx race of the year. My health has been steadily improving over the past many weeks which is likely due in no small part to getting back to riding more gravel. Pleasantries aside I'm writing you today with regards to "The List". I understand that you generally only include performances which you have personally witnessed, but alas I am compelled to recount a performance witnessed this past weekend at the "Night Nonsense" with the hope that you will consider it for inclusion based on it's merit.

Young Tim Werts of Mankato traveled with the author to Iowa City Saturday AM. This was to be his baptism so far as gravel races go and he would be riding a borrowed bike and using borrowed lights. Upon arrival to Mr. Blakes domicile young Tim's nerves were apparent as he literally ran to and fro for 2+ hrs attempting to prepare his equipment and soul for the imminent destruction that was to be 90 miles of gravel and B road during a thunderstorm. It should be mentioned that Mr. Blake did everything he could to help young Tim to remain calm and to prepare. He opened his home, and all of his bike tools, to us in every way. I feel that we owe him a debt which will not be easily repaid. I personally spent most of this time sitting, with some of it spent offering minimal and sometimes questionable advice. When the race start neared young Tim seemed to reach a calm state and a different look came over his eyes. At the time I assumed this was a look of resignation or realization with regards to the difficulty of our shared undertaking. Perhaps it was simply determination.

At 8 pm the race began with a whimper. There was a long neutral pavement lead out. I tried to cull some of the favorites from the field during the lead out by feigning a complete lack of braking ability from my cantilevers (who knew they wouldn't work in a thunderstorm?). However, I was utterly unable to do anything but scare myself. Finally, we hit the true start of the race and I found myself up front. This was mostly out of fear as the group seemed crazed. It was almost pitch black with heavy rains as we flew through the northern suburbs of Iowa City. Ocassionally the road in front of us would be lit up by lightning which perversely was a welcome reprieve from the pounding darkness of the hour. During one of these strikes a hill formed before us and I knew that it represented an opportunity to spread out the field into something more managable. Thus split the remaining group was able to work much more cohesively for the next couple of miles. A road sign was twisted and the group altogether missed an early turn. Around this time young Tim rode up beside me to let me know that his light had died. Shamefully I quickly calculated my own need vs. his own and decided that despite having two good batteries I would do nothing. Moreover I also realized that the wrong turn had led to mass confusion in the group, quickly wished him the best of luck and took off down the road at full "go" for the next 3 or 4 miles. Despite his needs my cold calculations with regards to my own performance had taken the fore. He was left to fend for himself against the elements and the other racers with 75+ miles of hell left before him. I would not see him again until the finish.

I'll continue with my own experience of the race solely to underscore the conditions which young Tim was up against. The slight confusion mixed with my timely effort had completely broken the field. I pressed on working at a rate which I hoped would invite only my strongest fellow riders to join me. Soon we had a group of 3 and we began to work together. We were flying. We hit a dead end... We back-tracked and quickly became 5. We turned and looked for the road we had missed, eventually realizing that we hadn't missed any road, rather that we'd turned onto the wrong road (as there were two with the same name about 100 yards apart). We joined with the Eppens and took off down the right road with hopes of getting back to the front. our maps became soaked, our lights malfunctioned, we became woefully lost again. The Eppen contingent went hom. Eventually we found ourselves at the 31 mile checkpoint with close to 47 miles on our odometers, 3+ hrs on the clock and virtually no morale. The hills, soft gravel, thunderous rain and, of course, the darkness had all taken their toll. Our group had riders who had participated and finished multiple Trans-Iowas, Dirty Kanzas, 24 hr mountain bike races and scores of 100+ mile gravel events, yet all were near the breaking point. Eventually we rode on. The course did not let up. We struggled. We struggled against the resurgent wind, as whenever the storm abated it picked up, and against the slow gravels. We struggled with the darkness. Ultimately we even struggled with each other. Turning on each other in times of need despite not everyone even having a map. There was to be a checkpoint and aid station somewhere out there but it was forever coming. We hit a b-road literally covered in 3" of mud, most of us walked. Rabid dogs came out of the night, we climbed through the muck up and away from the cacaphony of the snarling animals. There it was! Shangri -La. Cold pizza has never been so necessary. We'd all been riding longer at that point than we'd expected to ride the entire course and our nutrition was lacking. Alas, due to our earlier failures the only beverages left were some sort of fruity alcohol/caffeine concoction, beer and water. We all refilled with water but only I dared try the "four loko" concoction and the beer went untouched. The difficulty of what we'd already experience had so colored our perception of the remaining 30 miles that FREE BEER went untouched... seeemingly impossible. It was nearing 3 am when we left that paradise for the darkness once again. We crossed a river of knee deep muck and water then navigating 7 or 8 miles of pot holed "trail" reminiscent of the "Dead Marshes". Finally winding our way across the gravels against the wind back to Mr. Blake's home.

I stood in the driveway straddling my bike looking at the others, at the beer and at the chairs unable to even lift my leg back over my bike to set it aside. The others I had ridden with were likewise looking quite rough- particuarly Mr. Shockey whose apparent pain was amplified by the black/blue dye that had run down from the balaclava he wore and formed some sort of a deathly mask. It was at this point when I was reacquainted with Tim. He ambled out of the house with a PBR and a grin to help me to a chair. Too modest to mention his own performance until Mr. Blake yelled out that he had gotten 2nd. Moreover he had finished with the winner in a non-contested finish out of respect and honor. He had ridden without a light just using what he could of the others' and thus felt indebted to the eventual winner enough to honorably decline from contesting. He had braved all of the things that had befallen my own strong and experienced group and he had utterly crushed us all. And with no light of his own, no map of his own, on a borrowed bike and with no previous gravel racing experience (he later admitted that this was the longest ride he'd ever been on).

I feel that Tim's performance is worthy of at least a passing mention in any recap of this years standout performances. His combination of honor and toughness represents the best of our form of cycling. I fully expect him to "show up" in a big way in the future.

best regards

-Drew Wilson


good weekend

Thursday night and Friday AM I had a ton of head cold symptoms. Became frustrated enough that I called the doctor again and will now be going back in for some more testing (hopefully figuring out specifically what I'm allergic to, if that's what it really is). I also decided to change the time of day at which I take the nasal steroid they prescribed. I had been doing it when I woke up and at bed time- however, I figured it would be much more effective if I took my doses when I really needed them (the last couple days that has been when I wake up and then again right before going on an evening ride).

I decided to ride down to the Skogen house on Friday night for a bonfire- which turned out to be a great time btw, thanks Chris! Took my "night" dose before that ride and was happy to note that I felt pretty good riding, at the fire and also through the rest of the night.

Saturday AM I got out on a nice 45 mile road ride with some of the Velo guys. It was windy, but we kept the pace up pretty well and finished our loop almost 20 minutes faster than we'd expected. We all hit Dunn Bros. after the ride and heard some sobering war stories from Terry about his big fall two weeks prior out in California. He does seem to be recovering well.

Saturday PM was the first of the local "micro cross" races of the year. Chris did a great job with this one! The course was about perfect! We had a rocks, sand, fast sections with technical turns and plenty of obstacles. A course which was fun for all while also being plenty true to form so far as being a cross race goes.

My legs were a bit tired from the morning ride, but I had a mechanical advantage with my cx bike vs. most of the other competitors. I wound up making a move at around the halfway point which resulted in taking home a relatively easy win. Perhaps more importantly I didn't have any major knee pain issues with my ace knee band thingy on! Being able to do cx pain free going into the future would make me hugely happy. Here are some pictures I stole-



hopefully this link works- impressive slideshow, captures the essence of the event AND somehow makes me look like a badass (I usually look like an idiot).

Had a good ride tonight in the CX practice race- was able to keep the hammer down the whole way for 10 laps. Felt good breathing wise and pretty good getting on and off the bike. Seems I may be faster compared to a few of the others than last year. Wore my new knee brace and feel that it helped the knee pain some (will know better tomorrow). Had a nice ride down there on the gravel backroads, then back via Moffit's with Karlene. A 45 minute race quickly turned into 3+ hrs on my bike.



Not sure what is going on with me. Got my blood tests back and everything is fine. Have been on antibiotics and allergy meds for 9 full days now. Haven't really ridden hard or trained at all since my trip to Blue Mounds. Yet I still wake up every morning with clogged sinuses and random aches.

Have gotten to ride a few times and really enjoyed racing in Winona last Saturday (http://www.29nsngl.com/page/show/217708-event-details only tells a small part of the, 8 hrs of partying with awesome people, story) as well as my first ride on the new bike on Sunday. Should probably note that I had a reasonably fast time Saturday, just missing top 5- particularly when weighed vs. how I've been feeling.

Still have the Night Nonsense, Dirt Bag ride, local micro-cross races and the possibility of some real cx races to come THIS year... but it just feels like I've shut down. Not that I'm burnt out either exactly, just that I'm frustrated with my health and current level of fitness (or is that my health?) and I'm feeling the pull of the gravel. Ready for the blank-slate that is training. I need the hrs of work and the possibilities that go along with it. The chance to improve myself and outwork my own expectations. I wish I could take a magic pill that would clear up sinuses and whatever else is going on, give me 4 or 6 weeks of 'rest' and let me get started tomorrow.

I spent some time this evening converting the Kona frame into my current best idea of a winter training ride. It's weird and it's ugly, but I think it's going to work. I like the way it fits and I think it's a logical improvement to the old Mono/fixocog from last year. I'll be primarily riding "it" as a 38x17 fixie-

Laura and I both had today and the rest of the week off from work. We went to the zoo today, here are a couple pictures from the zoo including a great one of my "Loris" by the a real Loris' enclosure.


first ride on the Viner

a quick video showing a bit of our mountain bike trail (it's got a nice view)



Got a good mix of regular gravel, some minimum maint./b roads, and 6 miles or so of singletrack (the real stuff, not any manicured easy crap). Feeling pretty happy with the bike so far.


wish me luck (fedex)

Turns out my frame has shipped via fedex with a proposed delivery date of tomorrow. All they will tell me is that the delivery hours are from 7am-around 7pm and that it needs to be signed for. I wonder what the odds are of it being delivered during the hrs I'm here (until 11:30 and after 5:30)? If not, it will be returned to Holmen Wisconsin and delivery will be tried again (likely with the same result, no?). I'd rather not wind up driving 2+ hrs round trip to get my frame.


new info

Back is still hurting. Having a hard time sitting in my desk at work without pain or even cramping. I don't think the pain is because of my fall 10 days ago. The 58cm Kona just isn't working. I knew it was too large when I bought it and the intension was for it to be a very short term fix. At the time I thought my custom frame was only a few weeks away. I knew this bike would better fit me if set up with flat bars for commuting/winter use and really liked the idea of it as such. Jump forward 5 or 6 months and it's still here and attempting to fill quite a niche. I remember having problems with the fit to some degree early in the year (back cramp issues late in the Almanzo and on a couple other rides), but I wonder how I did manage to ride it as much as I did. In a way I think I more or less "got used to it". The vast majority of the rides I made on it were in the 2-3 hr range as well, which I think masked the problem. I hadn't ridden it much at all since June, my other bikes fit properly and it shocked my system to get back on it and try to race.

I started looking into other cx frames early this week. I had tried the comfort oriented gravel grinder thing with the Vaya in the past and had gotten a decent feel for the ride characteristics fo the aluminum Kona (even if it didnt' fit). I knew I wanted an aluminum CX race bike- the other options were likely to be out of my price range (someday I'll get a Ti bike, but I really better be sure I'm going to like the frame/fit/geo etc. before hand). I found a few options right away and settled on this-


well, not exactly... that's as close as I can find in a link though. It's a 2009 version of their Vigor Cross. It's brand new and comes with their carbon fork and headset for a very reasonable price. The effective top tube is 545mm which should be an awful lot closer to proper fit for me with a 110 or 120mm stem and a non-offset seatpost (from the geometry chart is looks like the layback post won't be an option in order to get my knees in the right range of motion). I didn't set out to find something so "odd", would have been happy with another Kona in the right size, but this bike seemed to be the best value and likely to fit my needs well. The only real drawback I see with it is that it's WHITE, like really WHITE... not ideal for a gravel/cx bike in the hands of someone who doesn't like to clean things.

We shall see where that takes me.

Have struggled this year with my health. Spent some time looking over my training log and there has been quite a pattern. Early this year I was sick a ton- didnt' feel well for a total of 4 or 5 weeks between February and April. Since the Wausau 24 hr race I've never gone an entire week without noting on at least one day that I was trying to get "extra" rest due to not feeling well or cold symptoms. I've certainly had some good rides in there as well, but also really haven't been myself. It has seemed like every time I ride hard my nose runs (I even remember noticing that during some of my better rides).

I went in to the doctor yesterday- I will be going on a few medications in order to try to alleviate the issues. Apparently I've likely developed a sinus infection which we will treat with nasonex and antibiotics. Once that is cleared up (actually starting immediately) I will also go on a couple of allergy medications. I am supposed to try that for 6 weeks and to monitor any reaction or any return of my symptoms. The theory is that the combination of mild allergies and the stress of training has made me very susceptable to infection over the last year.

I went in out of frustration more than any particularly bad symptoms this week. However, now that I've been in and talked over my symptoms with them I wish I would have done so much sooner. I have been struggling with what to blame for how I've felt for quite a while... And have blamed the intensity of the summer, race, type workouts and my own shortcomings etc.. I guess I didn't want to make excuses, but it seems that something was really wrong and I was stupid for not taking some action sooner.

Hopefully they are correct in their initial diagnosis and it is as easy as taking some pills, feeling better and being less likely to really get sick. If not, this is a good time of year to deal with trying a few different things until something works. For what it's worth, they are also doing a blood test to rule out something more extreme. I will be going back in 6 weeks from now regardless to assess any progress.

So there are two huge excuses, but I guess I hope they aren't just excuses.... hopefully, they were actionable items that needed to come up and the actions I'm taking will prove beneficial. I know that if I could go through the entire year without feeling sick I'd be a lot happier.