Dirty Kanza 200 pre-race

Mostly over my cold, been "resting" but still riding quite a bit the last 4 or 5 days. Not likely to ride at all from here on out other than my 60 minutes per day of commuting. The last two days I got to ride Red Wing and LaCrosse! Two awesome trails.

Have to get my laundry done and my kit sorted.

Need to ship all the junk I sold on ebay last week tomorrow... may be a 1.5-2 hour process. I made $84 on a seatpost, thanks cannondale!

Also, need to get some gas and mow the lawn. It will get unmanageable this weekend if I don't.

Other than that I just need to raise the stem back up on the road bike and remount the 700x30s. She's had quite the makeover since the Almanzo- new brake pads, new chain, new crankset/bottom bracket, new "axle bolt" for the derailleur jockey wheel etc. (most of which was called for prior to riding in that muck)

My Mamasita will be going up for sale. Will be sold with hope pro II/stans wheels, mostly xtr 970 drivetrain (with attack gripshift, noir triple, 990 cassette and chain), xtr brakes, ritchey wcs/carbon cockpit parts... I'm hoping for about $2k.


June tour plans, updates, dairyland dare vs. salsa 2-4 at afton?

June "touring" trip

Plans have changed and solified further for this trip. I intend to rest, and well, after Dirty Kanza then race either the Woolly Mammoth on Saturday the 11th or Wausau on the 12th prior to heading up to Copper Harbor via Ironwood. I think I'll be able to make Copper Harbor by late Wednesday or early Thursday with no undue trouble, spend a day or two there and be back in Houghton for the Chain Drive on the 18th. That will leave me four days to collect myself and head home, which also sounds like a reasonable timeline. I'm not going to worry about making it all the way back here either- rather will focus on riding somewhere cool for those four days and, if necessary, getting a ride home across the relatively boring farmland that is the last 150 or 200 miles. If taking a ride home from Eau Claire gives me another day of good riding up north I see no reason not to take it.

This is a slightly shortened itinerary from my original plan. The changes are driven by my general lack of paid time off (and some things in the back of my mind that I hope to use it for) and my paranoia? about getting ready for my next set of goal type races. I know it will take time still, but I'm itching to get "fast" in XC. I felt my endurance schedule in the spring of last year somewhat prevented success in XC until late August. This year with more of an emaphasis on shorter rides and a couple of shorter races sprinkled in early I hope to avoid that. I think shortening this trip a bit fits with that plan. The Eau Claire WORS race in early July should be a good reference point barring other issues.

My 2nd option for this... Forget any of the riding in the "south" stuff. Race the Woolly, drive to Duluth or Ironwood and do the rest of the ride from there...

Again- if you'll be anywhere in that area from the 11th-22nd and want to hook up and ride... let me know! I'm just looking to hang out on my bike, camp and have fun.

In other news

We are finally making progress on our house. Walls painted, new flooring installed today. Couple more areas to be painted and then we are almost down to just the easy stuff (carpet, some new furniture, staining the deck).

I have decided not to keep my cx bike and road bike both built up all year. From now on I will have one set of high-end parts for both and will have the road bike built up March-late September, cx bike the rest of the time. I will ride my Trek commuter for gravel training in the summer and my classy Giant for road rides in the fall.

I picked up a open pro/powertap pro wheel that will find it's way onto my road bike after Dirty Kanza. I am not sure yet how I will use it (can't see myself planning too many intense workouts), but I think it will be of value.

I'm thinking about riding the 8 hour race at Afton this year. I can't take time off in order to travel to the Ore to Shore. It's between Afton and the Dairyland Dare at this point. Either one would be fun.

Hope you are having a good week


Health stuff (once again)- Royal caught up

Total system failure over the weekend.

I felt pretty good after the Royal and pushed things way too hard- rest weeks cannot consist of staying out late drinking and/or riding.

By Friday I decided I felt like I wasn't quite recovered yet and would skip the Freewheel Frolic on Saturday. Instead I would ride with Trevor and Karlene up to the WORS race in Rhinelander, camp and race Sunday.

Put all thoughts of "sick" out of my mind (what choice did I have... I was already in Rhinelander) until about midway through the 2nd lap when it hit me that I had a pounding headache, some dizzyness and generally felt much worse than expected. I also only had access to about 3 gears on the rear after bending my hanger. I shut it down and decided to live to fight another day. Good thing too, I've felt pretty crappy the last two days. Even having trouble sleeping due to all the nasal drainage etc..

I should have known to rest more/better. I also should have known to start doing nasal flushes right from the start. For whatever reason they work wonders for me (finally started last night and already feel a whole lot better)! I can breath through both nostrils now and have banished the dizzy feeling. Really grateful that I'm feeling a bit better, a protracted illness right now would be a disaster. Almost pushed the beach cruiser to it's limits on the way down here to work.


Giant 980c commuter- follow up to Look 585 Review

New road bike/commuter. Absolutely loving it! Much better ride quality and handling than I'd expected. Picked it up for less than $200 and then sold a couple campagnolo and dura-ace parts off of it to get the cost down to about $0. Still has an awesome Suntour crankset, Cinelli stem/bars etc. etc.. Love the lugged carbon technology, love the look. Impressed with the quality of the shifting with friction down-tube shifters/10 speed--- with the 10 speed shifting is extremely smooth and easy with very minimal trimming needed.

There is the Look 585 sitting in my garage the night before the Almanzo.

I've now ridden it a few thousand miles in all sorts of conditions and events. All the way from the Almanzo in the mud to road races. It's the most comfortable bike I've ridden and at the same time it transfers the most power to the ground of any bike I've ridden. Remember back to when I was going to get that custom gravel bike and I wanted something light and fast with "road type" geometry... well, I found it. Don't know what else to say- buy/ride something similar if you get a chance.


2011 Royal 162 report recap almanzo 100

I see a lot of posts about how great certain bikes work for races- usually solicited by some sort of friendship or sponsorship. I'll be riding this for all future gravel grinders- use your own judgement.

It's been six months since I first visited Royal's grave. It's become a regular stop for me when in the vicinity, as I often am while on to the heartland of cycling that is Iowa. I've watched the site through parts of 3 seasons now and everything has changed but the stone itself. Not the cold rains of early December, the deep drifts of January nor the youthful flowers of spring have had any power. Royal's stone mien has been the so constant that I was beginning to worry. What if my efforts were to be in vain?

Saturday morning came quickly. I'd like to say that it dawned bright and early, but it was more of a lessening of the dark than a dawn. The weather reports has slowly shifted to the worse and then worse again... finally calling for solid rain much of the day (and evening should it be necessary). I shoveled in potato pancakes knowing that this was what I'd prayed for, that our day had come and it was going to be as tough as anyone could have wanted. There would be no repeat of the cake-walk of 2010.

Metallica powered our drive south to the start and then the business of actually doing THIS began. I chose my Almanzo bibs and jersey plus my thin tights (the lucky ones that are duct taped together), a long-sleeve toko top, Almanzo windbreaker, regular long-finger MTB gloves and MTB shoes. I chose not to bring anything else due to weight/space concerns. Along those same lines I would send the majority of my water and food down to Preston and pick it up in the "feeding zone", rather than carrying it the first 40 miles. Further along those lines, and possibly of note to the reader, I was on my Look 585 with the only changes being aero bars on wide WCS Ritchey bars, an 11-28 cassette and 700x30 Schwalbe Marathon racers on Zipp 303 front/404 rear.

No time to think. The race started about 2 minutes after I got all dressed and ready to go. Pace was fairly easy early on as people settled in and tested the conditions. I tried to sit in the middle of the pack, but found myself getting covered in mud and losing visibility. We hit a couple early downhills and I watched the group string out in front of me as I picked my line. I would gain confidence in the narrow tires later in the race, but initially there was just too much uncertainty. I was surprised how easily I kept up as we labored up and over the first really large hill, but soon after I let a group of about 13 ride away. I would be basically alone for the remaining 145 miles, just me and Royal.

It was nice to see my Dad at mile 38 (and good practice for Dirty Kanza) but after stopping I felt sort of compelled to work my way back up near the front to where I felt I belonged. It was a struggle to keep the effort under control for the next 20 miles or so. Regardless, I found myself passing groups with ease and caught up to the first chase group prior to hitting the farm/singletrack/cyclocross/whatever section that Skogen was hanging out in. I felt I could ride faster than they were riding and decided to make a point to hit the singletrack first and make a gap. "On the farm" I passed 3 riders from the tail of the original 13 person lead group and made the gap I had hoped for. I would not see anyone behind me again for the duration. Although those behind me would certainly never be far from my thoughts, particularly as a started to pick off more and more riders. I'd ridden away from Doom, Farrow, Pramann etc. etc. and I didn't quite trust that I belonged or could hold onto being in front of them.

Soon after that section my mind basically turned off. The next 7 hours would be full of manic mood swings, talking to myself, insanity and suffering. I saw a lot of things, some of which were likely very real and some of which were not. I flipped mentally from wanting to quit to wanting to cry tears of joy to feelings of calm and strength. Through it all I pedaled like I was giving chase.

I saw a witch. She was on top of a barren hill next to an old farm house walking slowly towards me. My first though was that this must be some sort of trail magic, some sort of Almanzo chicanery. It was not, how could there be any of that this far away from where most of the riders would ever go? I was IN IOWA at the time for Royal's sakes. She continued toward me and waved as I passed. She was just a teenaged Amish girl/woman out for a walk in the rain. I looked back and she was gone, but my tracks were not. They were deep and filling up with water as I watched. The gravel had turned to soft sand (worse than the cheese country train for those who know about THAT, but not worse than TW) and it was so soaked with moisture that it was seeping almost immediately into the tracks I cut. I could count the riders in front of me by counting the shiny, slithers of their paths. One of them always went perfectly straight. I wondered what sort of evil that was and contemplated it for miles. I was stuck on one road for 8 miles riding up and over huge rollers directly into the wind at 5 or 6 mph and that silvery, streak of a track was teasing me. Finally it turned off into a farm and I realized it was nothing but a buggy wheel. I remembered reading about subistence hunting, how one trick to not die while doing it is to check your own track every once in a while. You need to see how wobbly you are getting and back off a bit if you are looking worse than the animal you chase. I ate a burrito and a tamale. I passed some people and some people dropped out, I felt I took their strength.

My mind would shift on every hour on the hour and make me eat a gel, drink some water. The rest of the time I just pedaled. It was hard to open the gel packs, hard to squeeze the bottles, but while riding I felt nothing.

I felt redeemed when I returned to the actual Almanzo 100 course. There was a track in the gravel from all the previous 100 mile riders. All I would need to do would be to follow it home. If I could keep my bike in that groove I would be golden. Riding straight became my focus- even as I was only moving 6 or 7 mph on flat ground, in my easiest gear, on my aero bars. I stopped only for gels and burritos. A bunch of my friends were at the checkpoint when I got there, but I couldn't care. I was chasing (at that point I knew I was in somewhere between 4th-6th).

I crossed the water and felt nothing. I cleaned my bike, at a gel, took a piss.

I had to walk a hill.

I turned to the final page and realized I only had a couple miles left. It was downwind, only one real hill. I felt no pain or tiredness as I flew down those familiar last roads. I crossed in 11:47 in 5th. I broke down at Royal's grave.

If you've got a picture of me I'd love to have it!


Ready or not, Royal 162 approaches

The last bits of my bike set-up will arrive today. I've gone a bit on the "light" side for a long gravel race, but plan to fall back to the Mamasita last minute if need be. I've decided the cx bike is a bit overrated for long distance gravel now that I've seen the light and picked up some aero bars. I've already mounted my gps, computer, frame bag, tri style seatpost bottle holder, mountain feed bag etc., and I'm confident in everything working.

On the other hand- who knows where I am at. I've had some really strong rides recently and have had the brains to back out of a few things too (which is hard for me, but obviously very necessary). I didn't race the Sandwich 50 last weekend and instead put in about 60 miles on my Almanzo rig at faster than endurance race pace later in the day. I felt bad about not showing for a local race, but it just wasn't going to happen for me Saturday morning. If there is one thing I promised myself about this year it was that I wouldn't over do things.

This week I plan to hit the road group ride tonight to further test my set-up, the Eastwood MTB TT Tuesday, the Tuesday Night Ride with Revengeance, but other than that just hit the commutes and rest. I've found if I don't ride at all it doesn't usually make me feel stronger, so I figure riding 5-6 hrs during the week will put me right where I want to be.

Last loose end will be figuring out how to feed myself for this beast. 120+ miles with no opportunity for greasy hot food or red meat may prove to be the biggest difficulty.

Hope your feeling more ready than I am!


BALLS 2011 Madison Wisconsin area rail to trail's at it's best

As usual, I suck and didn't bring a camera or take any pictures.

BALLS was as expected. Friday, FISH FRY night in Mt. Horeb, dinner meant I needed to be in Barneveld by 7. Didn't quite make it, but the road construction on the way down did allow me extra time to listen to coverage of the royal wedding. I parked at Scott's and hammered out to Mt. Horeb for Spotted Cows, mini tacos and a burger.

Saturday dawned very bright and early and I felt mostly like crap. It would be 7 trips to the toilet and approximately 7 hrs AND 75 miles later before I started feeling ok. Not many 100 mile rides where I remember feeling stronger towards the end (the same would happen Sunday too). Great to see all the riders out there! Tons of people I haven't seen for 7 or 8 months and some new ones too. Lots of fancy, fancy bikes this year- shows how the gravel thing is taking off... seems even last year people were generally on something cheap/simple/commuter-like and now more and more are on almost gravel specific rigs. I rode the Trek 720 with a cooler strapped to the back, I did not get the memo about the fancy bikes (in all seriousness, I was expecting pouring rain and drivetrain ruining sand everywhere).

I strapped a small cooler to my rack with bungee cords. It worked out so well that I plan to actually bolt it into the same position permanently on that bike. It's nice to know you've got a couple beers, some cold food and a soda or two at the ready. I did learn that glass bottles are a bad idea if you are going to fall.

Don and I hammered pretty hard out to Dodgeville and I used that extra time to pick up a cap gun from Walgreens. The possibilities associated with carrying a cap gun on bike trails are endless.

Rode with many different people throughout the day, but by the end it was almost the exact same crew as last year who hammered out the last few miles into Brodhead together. Almost the same stop at the last turn too- the E&J went down as well as ever.

ALE ASYLUM (thanks to them btw) was everywhere at the finish. I believe we had ten full cases to go around. Ambergeddon is about as good as it gets if you ask me. Consumed about 2 lbs of hot beef, pasta salad, chips, cookies etc. and sat by the fire until a little after 11. Great time.

Sunday am I woke up to Kevin joking with Nate about sneaking into my room and firing the cap gun, but fell back asleep quickly and they never tried it. Next time I woke up everyone was gone riding already. Hurredly put my gear on and put some effort into catching back up. We all got into a loose group by about mile 20 and would continue on as such to the finish. Again I felt like I got stronger as the day wore on- this time the wind also felt stronger as the day went on. We waged a sort of battle. I got a bit tired of the not-exactly-aero cooler and bike setup. Then I got close enough to the finish that it started to pull and finished feeling strong. More Ambergeddon.

Again I would highly recommend this ride to anyone. There is someone to ride with at almost any pace and everyone has a great time. The cabins in Brodhead are perfect and free Ale Asylum is great. Hope to see you next year.