crank brothers vs. shimano

This year at the Dickie Scramble I broke a pedal while off the front trying to hold off a charging Ted Loosen.  I was able to ride the last 8 or 9 miles in but it certainly slowed me down a bit.  I had been using crank brothers quattro pedals on all my bikes for years.  Being able to use either mountain or road shoes with the same pedals was always very appealing.  Crank Brothers' reliability had always concerned me slightly, but since switching to the high end quattros and following a consistent rebuild schedule I had experienced no issues for about 3 years.   The quattros had helped the reliability because the platform meant that I was not compressing the spring with each pedal stroke (I'd worn out springs on several sets of egg beaters in a hurry).  

When I broke another pedal on mile 25 or so of a group ride the Monday after the Almanzo 100 I knew I had to switch.

Shimano was the clear choice for me.  To put it simply thee more I ride the more Shimano parts I use.  The appeal of slightly flashier/lighter/cheaper/whatever equipment just no longer is there. 

I had a much harder time switching to the road pedals (7900 dura ace) than I'd like to admit.  Maybe I should have switched over slowly, only using them on group rides initially, but bad starts (and restarts after free laps) in the northstar crits were actually a big enough issue for me to influence the outcome of the races.  I'm still not 100% proficient.  

On the mtb/cx front the switch went a bit better.  I went with the 540s and got them right before the week long touring trip I took to the U.P..  Initially I rode them with the tension all the way loose which I found replicated the feel of clipping into the CB pedals very well.  I noticed the longer spindles, but it was never something that bothered me on that trip (60+ hours on my bike in 8 days).  Anyways, after that trip I was fairly confident in being able to clip into the pedals.  I still am not quite as fast as I used to be though.  I think my starts suffered a little bit until well into November.  Dismounts are not an "issue" but the pedals do not allow me to walk my left foot out leading into barriers as easily as with the other pedals and I've had to change my technique some.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how well they work/clear mud.  If anything my experience this year was that mud performance was improved vs. the crank brothers.

In the end I'm not looking back.  


The Keweenaw

I made 8 trips this year. Two trips all the way to Copper Harbor by car and one by bike.  It's becoming a tradition for me to ride up there from home.

At this point we are even looking at houses!


I won the 2015 Almanzo 100

This has been a blog post that has kept me from writing blog posts for a while.  The title says it all, but it wasn't easy to say or accept. Those who follow my blog know what that means to me.  It's hard to say it because of the luck I needed luck to make it happen.  I've come to terms with it now.  Perhaps two years in a row of inopportune flats in the same race meant I was "owed".  Maybe it's more likely that if you just keep trying long enough eventually something works out.  Maybe it makes no difference whatsoever.  At this point it's simpler than that stuff.  I simply rode my best race and the results were the results.  The luck aspect of it is nothing to me anymore but that doesn't mean I don't desperately want to back it up next spring.

I was beat at mile 65.  A long series of hills after the checkpoint saw the field literally exploding.  I had worked to create that explosion but by the end of the steepest of those hills it was clear that 4 riders had a little bit more climbing ability than I did right then.  Beat or not I absolutely put out everything I had between there and the line.  A group formed behind me but they were soon out of sight and forgotten.  Eventually, I would catch those 4 riders 25 miles later only to be dropped again on Oriole.  Then I would find myself ahead of them.  I don't know how far they went the wrong way.  I know that when they came back into sight behind me and I realized that I was leading that it was not something I would relinquish.    By the end the gap was very small.  I don't know if I could have done it had the line been any further way.  As it was I was taking things in small pieces the way you do when climbing a mountain pass.  The pavement is only 1 more mile....  the next turn is right there...  get to the bike path, you can't be beat if you make it to the bike path...

I doubt I'll ever finish another race and be immediately interviewed by a television camera!

Miscellaneous Spring Stuff

The week before Lakeville Milltown Lakeville I got to go up to Lutsen and watch the spring series ski race.  I snuck over to Moose Mountain on my fatbike and rode all over the place on the down low.  It was pretty amazing bombing giant slalom turns all over the closed runs (closed to to limited snow cover so late in the season) and riding on the river through the golf course.  This was just a ride, but something I had a great time doing!

Lakeville Milltown Lakeville itself was a great day too.  Not much happened early in the race, but leaving the checkpoint a small group formed that Skarpohl drove and drove.  I made a few pulls too to help keep some of our competitors out of the group, but soon regretted doing that.  In the end Skarpohl and I went in the last 25 or 30 miles as a due.  I think he kept me around so he would have someone to torture but then felt bad and let me stay with him all the way to the end and ultimately beat him in the sprint.  I've now won that race 2 of the 3 runnings.  All 3 years I've been unbelievably tired for 2 or 3 days after this thing.

I skipped Ragnarok.  I don't know why.  I want to do it next year.  I guess I felt like LML, Ragnarok, Dickie Scramble and Almanzo was just 1 too many long/early races.  Maybe I was right, but I'll never really know.

A huge benefit of not working evenings was being able to make the trip up to the Twin Cities on Tuesday nights.  The Tuesday night points races and crits became a big part of my spring this year.  I had moved up from being a 5 all the way to a 2 on the road without doing more than 10 or 12 total crits.  Obviously, that was too fast to be really comfortable/good and I wanted to work on that so  one of my goals this year was to 'learn' how to race crits a little bit.

I wound up racing every Tuesday available and a solid handful of weekend events.  I was proud to finish 6th in the MN Memorial Classsic race at the Fairgrounds (where I'm sure I had a relative advantage due to familiarity).  I was also consistently in the top 10 or so in the Tuesday races which meant a lot to me due to the nature of dealing with my health/food stuff.  10+ weeks of being "ready to go" on Tuesday night was something easy to get excited about!  My season would eventually fizzle out as the temperature and humidity soared into late June/July but not before I nearly stole the Wisconsin Cat 2 State Championships with a long move, but fell to 4th near the line.

Pugsley World Championships ;) 2015

As part of an attempt to somewhat catch up this blog with the current I'm going to hit on a few things I did this year with posts.

The PWC event down in Decorah was really just about a month after I stopped doing the Mayo job and began working just for myself.  I had taken a lot of time off after having health issues once again during the CX season (I'm still doing a lot of learning even now pertaining to my diet and health).  Then starting early February I started putting in a ton of miles at Gamehaven on the fatbike.  Not exactly as preparation for anything, but because it was nice to stay out of the wind and tons of fun.  By early March I had spent a lot of hours on snow, many of them trying to keep up with Trevor, and was as ready for a fatbike race as I have ever been.

The event itself was freaking great.  The course was tough with much of it being just barely rideable.  98% of the course was singletrack and there really were no punches pulled so far as anything that would make it easy.  The race consisted essentially of 4 loops with the last 2 being laps of the same sections.  After everyone had ridden/hiked/crashed the first time around it was absolute mayhem just staying upright.  The "fatbike birkie" took place the same day, whatever.  I would love to see that same field on a course like this (irony coming from someone many consider to be a roadie... eh?)

So far as the race itself went-  I was able to jump out to an early lead and stay away throughout.  It was always close, but I was able to find a bit more each time it tightened up etc..

Our next stop was Iowa City for one of the Iowa Spring Classic road races Sunday.  I had a decent day there and was able to get third.  What stands out in my memory though was literally putting my foot down in the sprint for 2nd.  I really left everything out there between the two days that weekend.