I was reluctant to get Strava.  I got it and I've been using it.  It's nice being able to compete with my friends a bit even while working an evening shift and never seeing them.  More importantly it does a great job of tracking statistics, helping me plan routes (by seeing where others have been riding) and giving me just one more reason to do another 10 miles when I know I "should".  It certainly has the potential to destory a social ride or two, but it's up to the user to not get too caught up in it and do that...  what I have heard others refer to as "stravacide"


March in the Summer

Ok, it's obviously not quite that cool out, but it sure was cooler the last few days.  For someone who has been whining a lot about the heat, and not riding much this was a time to get back to the roots and do some March style miles.

Friday I rode a great gravel route similar to what Trevor and I normally ride in the spring-  out past stagecoach, through the valley, down to Chatfield, up to Dover and then back into Rochester.  Felt really good to get out on the gravel bike.

Yesterday, I left town along with the nonessential.  We took a nice route up to Cannon Falls.  I wouldn't leave there until it was almost dark which left me with an interesting leg down to Red Wing in the dark!  Today I took the Wisconsin side down to the crossing at Wabasha then rode a series of 'cat 4' climbs in the hilliest part of where the Ragnarok goes (basically rode mile 45-65 of that course backwards-  the section with the river bottoms and the two or three largest climbs), then dropped by Spring Creek for some moto on my way to Millville and then onto the gravel back way home from there.

I got a new cell phone last week too-  cell phone pictures...

 Chris, milk cartons
 That was the sweetest wine I've ever tasted...  I forgot the name of their white that was dry enough for me.
 Cougar zone
 Trying to book it toward Red Wing before it got too dark to ride gravel safely on 25s...

 This was where I got the light out, soon thereafter I was on the Cannon Valley Trail as it was very hard to pick good lines
Kelly's stop with cousin
 I navigated all the way around the big lake
Random river where I once completely beached a jet boat on a sand bar...  Three of us were best buddies in high school and were all out with dates.  We left one couple at a nearby beach on the main channel.  The four of us remaining would spend about 4 hours on that sandbar digging with paddles, hoping for a tidal effect.
 THIS is what gravel roads are supposed to be
 yeah, I don't remember taking a bridge during the Ragnarok...  it turns out that you do have to cross the bridge.
 This is quite possibly the highest point on the ragnarok course, sort of hard to tell from the pictures.  It's certainly the top after the two longest climbs.
 Spring Creek Moto

 Someone needs to get them a nicer looking sign
 This was a disaster...  The only part of the day when it was a bit hot and not raining was right before this.  I had also been totally confused about where I was and basically missed a needed gas station stop.  I had no water, luckily I found a bar and then it started to rain.
 This was actually before I found water...
Final home stretch heading back to town up on top of the plains

Next weekend I race in that crit in Des Moines...  Then the following it's either the Ore to Shore or another trip like this (possibly on a mountain bike in northern wisconsin).


offseason is going to be tough

I had a plan this year and I'm going to do my best to stick to it.  Plan was to race hard through the Chequamegon weekend and then rest in the heat, maybe race some crits,  go back into long miles of gravel/pavement/exploring mode.  Have nothing but fun during the hot part of the year.  I've already strayed...  never should have been at that TT last weekend, especially with the temperatures where they were and with only imaginary things to gain (What's the prize again for MN Cat 3 Rider if the Year?) that would require a real battle.. that maybe I already lost when I skipped races for BALLS and to race in Clear Lake, or when I just didn't go fast enough in the heat.   It's hard to walk away, but this road stuff is what it is and it isn't what I have been dreaming about all year.

I've taken the last 10 days or so almost completely off and will continue to fully rest through the majority of next week other than the southside sprint where I will only be racing once in the 1/2/3 race.  Sometime late next week I will get back into the swing of training a bit but plan to make like it's February so far as the intensity and general style of riding, except maybe get to do some mountain biking too (Memorial, Levis, LaCrosse have all been calling my name).  I will race one more bigger crit here which just looks like too much fun to skip.

I may pick up one or two mountain or road races prior to the gravel conspiracy.  That weekend will hopefully bring me right back around one more revolution up the spiral from where I was at in March.

The longterm goals-  feel as capable of aggression in the gravel races as I did prior to this wonderful weekend and then to put a point on that fitness into another late season CX push.

There you go, now I wrote it out and I'll have to stick to it, eh?


Commuting: an update on my drop bar trek 720 commuter and some photos

My previous post about my commuter has had a ton of hits.  Obviously a lot of people are interested in fitting these, or similar, types of bicycles as commuters.  I've continued to ride mine more than I ride anything else.  In the event that I ever had to have just one bike this would be a strong candidate.  Anything fancier would actually be worse-  a nicer bike would be more likely to be stolen, would make me worry about wearing it out/scratching/denting it etc., and truly wouldn't ride any better.  As shown above it has changed a bit since early last winter.  Notably I have upgraded the front wheel to a 29er wheel made by dtswiss for specialized.  I've also switched to a shorter stem with some relatively short-reach, shallow drop, bars.  Shifting is now handed with a 7800 DA front unit and an older suntour rear shifter.  I've also added a 30t chainring.  The other major change is the flat pedals-  they will go away again as we move into fall and I shift again to doing more training on this bike rather than just transportation cycling.

Here are a few more quick pictures from my commute


Back Home

Brother's birthday this weekend...  we played golf at the Jewel then hit the town with the sister, cousins, friends etc..  Crazy that almost everyone of my generation is now able to hit the bars (I'm the oldest).

Started the evening here-

Beach front property...  perfect place for a fall party/two day tour of the Ragnarok area type ride.  I'm interested.


The Cost of the Royal 162

Fear.  I realize, now that it has finally gone, that the actual manifestation of the 'recovery' needed after the Royal was 'the fear'.  Six plus weeks worth of 'it'.  To be fair it certainly didn't help falling on the road, when my post slipped or when the temperature soared...  but I certainly wasn't free from "it" until the last few days.  I sometimes rode well, even had some great results and enjoyable rides but never like before.  Always I played the reacting/waiting game, never the aggressor in the way I had.  I wondered if everyone else was catching up a bit as they had more time to train.  I worried that I was over doing it.  There were moments where I lost the feeling of gathering momentum that has been building since early 2011.

I don't know for sure what I gained in the Royal or if it was worth it.

It feels good mentally to be on the attack again.  I wonder how much of this recovery has been mental.  I think it's mostly physical because mentally I'm as disappointed as the moment I realized I was to be walking.

How long does it take you to recover from ultra events?  Where is the line between normal recovery and ultra?  What makes the difference?  I know for me it lies somewhere around the 8-10 hr mark without stops for real food or in warm temperatures.  Thoughts?


Clear Lake Bicycle Blues and BBQ Festival... and with cooler temperatures only in the high 80s

ok, this is in no way related but WTF...  I guess they just didn't need it anymore?
Bright and early Saturday morning.  You an almost tell from the picture that it wasn't 85 degrees overnight and headed to 95+.  This was great news. 

Made it to Clear Lake around 7:20 am and registered for the TT then proceeded to run the Mercedes into a huge cement slab, high center it and then almost rip the bumper off getting off of it.  Moved on and went for a solid 40 minute warm-up down along the lake. 

The TT itself went about as expected.  I more or less did 'ok' and wound up 5th.  It was painful and not a ton of fun.  I also wasn't quite sure how to pace myself etc..  I felt pretty good about the average speed at the time, but looking back over the times from the entire race (not just the 3s) I was pretty slow.  Many, many people beat me including many that I have been able to beat consistently in crits, on gravel or mountain bikes over the last year.  I need to keep practicing!  The TT practicing I have been doing has obviously been on my new TT bike which was "outlawed" in this race for omnium riders.  I also have only now had 4 total rides on it including that State TT when it was setup poorly.  I probably would have been well served to just go out and try a 5-7 mile all-out effort on the road bike at some point last week.  All that said, 5th put me in a decent position in the Omnium and I knew I had my weekest race out of the way.
Getting ready for the crit
tons of spectators!  Really cool to be in a crit with crowds and $ on the line like this.  Both add entire new dimensions. 

I was feeling good and went for the first prime only to realize that it was very difficult to come around anyone between the last turn and the line.  The next prime Franz was in perfect position to lead me out and gave a solid pull for the first 2/3 of the lap and allowed me to win by a large margin.  I dropped back into the group and rested, planning to skip a prime or two and focus on the race.  However when the time came I gave it a little dig up the hill an once again made it to the final series of turns in first and held on to win.  A few laps later Franz fell, but was able to take a free lap and was back to lead me out/contest the next prime despite being all scratched up.  This time it was a little closer and he lead all the way through the last corner and then drifted a bit on his way to the line such that I couldn't come by...  he said he wasn't sure I was the one on his wheel.  I skipped contesting one prime.  Nathan Kullbom attacked and I knew he had a good chance of staying away.  I was on his wheel, but didn't want to risk it/put in that much work and let him go.  He wound up opening up a big gap and winning the race on his way to winning the whole Omnium!   The pack was racing for 2nd.  The final lap was chaos compared to the primes and I was a bit out of position.  I knew where I had to "go" but I was a bit late due to traffic and one rider was gone into the technical corners and to the finish before me.  There had been 6 contested sprints and Franz or I had won 4, I had gone 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd,  skip, 2nd.  This was super fun!  What a difference a couple days and 10 degrees made vs. Wednesday or last Sunday.

The women's race was very competitive and really fun to watch
no spectators down here...  way too hot in the sun down on this section.  These are the women again.
This is me, a semi, podium girls, no one else on the podium etc.  but it's not as funny as the next one...
Everything about this picture is funny/awesome.  This was also the moment I realized that this race had been the Iowa State Criterium Championships.

one of the pro/1/2 race

Found some great Mexican food and spent a lot of time laying down after the races.

Today came fast but I felt pretty good.  I was now in 2nd in the omnium with just the 84 mile road race to go.  Franz and one of the Pings attacked, I attacked solo, Franz and a Rasmussen guy attacked and it stuck.  We wouldn't see them again until mile 70ish (what an effort from someone covered in road rash btw).  I spent a whole lot of time sitting in, resting etc.., like 3 hrs of time.  I felt like we had played things well by giving Franz a chance to win and me a chance to sit and sprint.  I knew that a bunch sprint was my best chance to win vs. this strong field and to potentially win the omnium as well.   With 1k to go I found Kullbom's wheel and sat on it until begining to open up to sprint, got bumped hard from the left and had to pull my foot out of the pedal and sort of outrigger a bit while sliding.   Felt lucky not to fall but unlucky that I couldn't get my stupid road cleats back in immediately.  Wound up sprinting with one leg, finishing out of the points and falling back to 4th in the omium.  Only thing that would have made me feel better right then would have been to go do the whole thing over.  With some time/perspective I should be happy that I had been in that position and that the legs had felt good etc..  It also makes me question my strategy with regards to playing for a sprint in a 3 race.  This is the 2nd road race in a row where I got screwed leading into the sprint while riding in a straight line in 4th or 5th wheel.  I've seen enough of racing on TV etc. to know it happens, but it's frustrating.  Maybe I need more road experience to learn how to avoid the trouble.  I've only seen a few of these open road sprints vs. tons of crit sprints now and I'm sure there are different things I need to recognize.  Sucks when you think you are doing it right and it bites you though.

Overall this was a really fun weekend and an awesome event.  I hope to be back next year. 


Heat! My experience with racing in the heat

I've missed a couple of race updates and a few other things that have been going on.  In the end it's all been 100% dominated by the weather.  At this point, with temperatures sitting well into the 90s every day, it's been dictating virtually every decision I make other than when I'm at work.

Heat is a problem for everyone but it's something I never remember having particular trouble with until my heat exhaustion experience at Dirty Kanza two years ago.  At the time I didn't think I'd really suffered any more or done any 'damage' beyond what the others around me were experiencing, maybe I didn't?  However, after returning to MN I found that I had major trouble riding in the heat.  Over the rest of that summer I dropped out of various hot weather mountain bike races and struggled on hot days on road group rides.  I also researched quite a bit how to deal with the heat and the best solutions for the specific problems.  

After the winter I returned to Dirty Kanza and again the weather was record high (so higher even than the year before).  This time I was smart enough to drop out "early" before suffering unduly.  I had ridden fast early in the day when the temperatures were low but had basically hit a giant wall somewhere around 90 degrees and just about stopped moving after overheating.  The rest of the summer of 2011 was even worse than 2010.  I completely blew my motor early in two mountain bike races etc. etc..  At this point I didn't even feel like I had a chance of finishing anything where the temperature was over about 85 with high humidity.

I would start out feeling ok and no matter what my pace, what I ate/drank, what I wore there would be a point where things just shut down.  I've spoken to a few people who had similar experiences after heat trouble and discussed it with some doctor friends.  No one is really sure the mechanism but apparently my experience wasn't anything entirely unexpected.

The best I could do was avoid pushing myself too far such that I didn't make the problem worse, wait and hope things improved over time, and train hard with the hope that being stronger would make things better.  I also continued to try different feeding/drinking schemes as well as using ice to keep myself cool.

I never had any break through or anything but near the end of last summer I did have some OK rides on fairly hot days.  More than anything else I think slow acclimation and distance/time from going over the edge were the reasons.  I was still very happy to see fall!  Cyclocross weather, or 2011 Almanzo/royal type weather, has never done me wrong.

This year I skipped Dirty Kanza.  I also greatly adjusted my race/riding schedule in order to avoid heat issues.  I would forgo mountain biking during the hottest months and instead focus on the road a bit more (and I would take a large part of that time as a bit of an off-season before the push into cycolcross and fall gravel).

My plans haven't quite worked out 'ideally'. Maybe it's been global warming, who knows....    Anyways almanzo/royal was hotter than dirty kanza and I had trouble there with the heat, but only after well over 100 miles (and there may have been an external culprit with regards to my issues that has since been fixed).  Since then it seems that almost every road event has been hot and each one just keeps getting hotter than the last culminating, hopefully, with the last couple of days.  Luckily we had rain and nice temperatures for the Chequamegon stuff!

With temperatures in the high 90s at the State Championship Crit on Sunday and in today's Northfield Crit dealing with that heat dominated my day.  In the end in both cases I felt "ok" riding and made it to the finish lines without totally overheating and dying.  Also in both cases I rode too conservatively and didn't really give myself the chance to win.  The heat weighed on my mind during Sundays race and I basically sat back and watched the race go away from me, too worried about the heat to do what I needed to do to compete.  Today I avoided that but didn't have the nerves to capitalize on a couple of opportunities to get into breaks...  then got out of position 2 turns from the finish due to a pothole and had to start my sprint in about 12th.  Going in one of those breaks could have taken those variables out of the finish.

Looking back at both races and my GPS data from them I feel good about dealing with the heat moving forward, at least when it comes to crits.  My mediocre race performances were not due to the heat and I really have nothing to "fear" moving forward at least in that discipline.  Here is what is working for me-

1.  Drink a ton all morning
2.  Keep warmup to a minimum
3.  Skip the inhaler (asthma)
4.  fill back pockets with ice or ice packs
5.  spend as much time as possible in air conditioning

Nothing there is exactly genius eh?