Ragnarok(ish) post

I called from my back, directly in front of the Kwik Trip in Lake City.  My Dad was hitting golf balls in town, did I want a ride?  I did not.

I continued to follow my Garmin's purple line as it wound me out of town.  Near the edge of town a choice presented itself.  Would I follow my guiding line or wasn't Territorial Rd the way to Heath's Hill?

Jumping back a full week, the Ragnarok had come over this road without me.  It's sort of the crux of the event, the part where, when you dream about winning the Ragnarok, you ride away and stay away to the finish.  However, I had only ridden just over 20 miles with the group.  I'm used to not making it real far in my races these days.  The disappointment is something I've become accustomed to.  However, this wasn't the typical crap health, excuses, real issues whatever that had plagued my fall and winter.  This was squarely on my shoulders.  This time I'd just been an idiot and not worn enough clothing.  My expectation was that one thing would happen with the weather but a totally different thing had happened.  Pretty early on I looked around and noticed no one else had bare legs, my legs were turning a pinky red.  I was hurting.  I had a bit of chain suck and had to chase the lead group for a bit, but even that effort didn't warm me much.  That was that.  My first reaction had been to ride 100+ Sunday.  I woke up Sunday sick.  I had to wait and do nothing.

I put the whole thing out of my mind, focused on the Dickie Scramble stuff and family stuff that needed to be done during the week.  It snowed to the north late in the week and the road race was cancelled.  The Dairy Roubaix had called my name, but I was looking at waking up before 5 to get there and didn't want to do that to the 16 month old.  It was looking like I should just stay home and do the group ride.  Did some mapping, trying to come up with a group ride route that would take me somewhere inspiring.  All of the routes kept creeping too long.  It hit me that with all the wind out there that riding south for a while could be greatly rewarded and a plan formed.

In the end I made the right onto Territorial and up Heath's Hill.  Like all the other hills I pushed the pace.  A ride like this does way more than get rid of some frustration, but it did do some of that.  More so it changed my perspective a bit.  Being able to ride health wise and to enjoy the beauty of those roads is far more important than any race result.

Dickie Scramble on the news!

I can't figure out how to embed this video so click here.

Here is the final update and information on the event's blog page here.

I will write up something about Ragnarok and my last week or so soon.


Hills Iowa Spring Classic 2014 + General Update

I'm continuing to avoid many, many foods.  At this point I believe the two most likely culprits are certain sugars and gluten.  The list that I will continue to avoid is long though and I'm not sure when I will feel ready or comfortable to begin trying to re-diversity my diet.  I've gotten stronger every day I've been on my bike since beginning the new diet.

The weather folks were calling for a good sized snow storm late last week, and Iowa started calling my name.  I got into a great 5 man team for the Gent's ride down in Des Moines Saturday.  We rode 68 miles at a comfortable pace with plenty of conversation and even a couple of sit down stops.  It feels pretty good after a long winter to be able to sit down on your butt mid ride in the gravel and just take in the world.  Here are a couple of pictures from the Gent's 'race'.

Almost immediately after the Gent's race I took off.  I wish I had been able to stick around and see a lot of people there and hang out in the bar.  The problem was that I knew I needed to get some food in me asap after 5+ hours on the bike and to do that effectively meant finding something I could eat!  Burger's without buns are potentially on my menu, but I've yet to go that route.  It just sounds terrible for some reason.  Plus I can't eat most steak sauce, BBQ etc..  Anyways, we took off and found some food I could eat and then made our way to Iowa City.

We went for a hike at Sugar Bottoms.  I try to make it out there every time I am in the area and it never disappoints.  The dogs had a lot of fun running there too!  I also learned some interesting history about Ding Darling.  As a kid we used to go to Sanibel Island almost every year and I never had any idea there was a link between Sugar Bottoms and Ding Darling.  He is quite interesting.

Late dinner at Monica's was a no-brainer as it was within walking distance of our hotel and they are very conscious of what they put in their food.  The gluten free cheesecake and dinner rolls made my night.  About half way through dinner we noticed flashing lights down the street.  After dinner I wanted to go get some snacks at Walgreen's so we walked down that way to find this!

It was nice to be able to sleep in before one of the Iowa Spring Classic races rather than having to wake up at 6:30 to get to a noon race start.  Two of my friends had come down from Rochester too and I was really looking forward to the race.  Then I started looking around at all the fast guys I knew and noticing how many of them had on matching kits.  I told Lew it was going to be a tough day out there, very fast at the least!  Especially for this time of year.  I won on this course last year and, of course, I wanted to try to win again!  I think that mentally having won previously gave me a bit of an edge.  It freed me to make an aggressive plan and to not worry about the potential consequences of riding very hard on new found "fitness" (fitness isn't the right word-  but there isn't really a word for 'lack of poisoning or something which allows one to attempt to compete hard').  Anyways, I knew I would have to ride very aggressively and I was able to do so.  It felt really, really good to be able to do so after so many cx races last fall, Triple D, CIRREM etc. etc. where it just wasn't there.  Heck, where I was unable to feel like I was even pushing myself and competing for more than 2-3 minutes a lot of the time.

Here is my bike.  There were some other pictures taken at the race but I don't have permission to post them.  Plus I'm pretty much drafting as many people as possible in all of them, heh.  Note my 'gravel' seatpost (google gravel seatpost if you don't find that funny).

Yesterday, though, the miles and laps piled on and a combination of my attacks, people flatting out and luck reduced the size of the group quickly.  About halfway through the race there were 6 people in a lead group with 4 of them being riders from the same team.  They sent a very strong/big guy up the road on the flat, paved, downwind section of the course.  I tried to jump across to him and just wound up dangling 100 yards back and 200 yards in front of the remaining 4.  Eventually he rode away and I accepted my fate.  I sat in for a while and waited.  Figuring the one guy was gone and that the remaining teammates would make it hard to compete for second.  I attacked them hoping to split them up before they could make it harder for me and only managed to drop the one remaining rider not from their team.  This worked out really well because then they took some pulls and we rotated as they wanted to keep that guy out of the race.  Partly due to their help though we were only about 45 seconds down on the solo leader with 1.5 laps to go and I could see he was struggling on the hills.  I went all in on the last climb of the lap, caught the solo leader within about 2 miles on the back stretch of the course where he had ridden away from me previously and then pressed on with him on my wheel.   I knew he would be a passenger and just rode tempo to try to make sure the other people couldn't come across, then repeated the same attack on the very last climb and jumped cleanly away.  It was emotional for me to ride that back stretch knowing that I was going to win a bike race.  My friends have been saying all along that I would be fine, but I have definitely faced the possibility of never feeling that strong on the bike again and it wasn't a feeling I wanted to make peace with.