Friday, May 29, 2009


Well it had been about 5 years since I layed rubber to dirt at Buck Hill and about 10 years since I raced their Thursday night race. Times have changed!!

First, I spent most of my day towing Abi's new Burley around, waiting for 3 different people that were no shows to look at apartments, and mowing lawns at our properties. I actually took a shower before the race because I was dripping in sweat from the hot day.

That race is a strange beast. Four short laps had Brendan "Baby Head Calves" Moore winning in about 51 minutes. The start is a long climb to which you duck into singletrack that was not there last time I rode it. Everything was super dry and loose and about the only place to pass was on the climb. And passing I did!!

Well kind of, the first 2 laps I watched as people passed me left and right. My legs did not want to work. Nothing. Finally, halfway through my body decided to show up and now I became the passor instead of the passee. The second half of my race was 1 1/2 minutes faster than the first half. I ended up 11th with about 57 minutes or so, but I am definitely looking to improve on that next week. I think it helps a lot to have some experience there and hopefully I can race the whole thing. I'll be bringing friends.

The whole atmosphere there is really cool. People hanging out afterwards, kids thrashing in their own races, and grilling out. Fun stuff.

Can't wait till Abi is old enough to get her own bike and start her training for the kids race!!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

12 Hours of the Northern Kettles.

Not sure, but I think may race recaps are wordy, so I'll try to shorten this up. Just thought I'd say "hey" to the new people I met this weekend as well. Thanks for reading.

I showed to the race plenty early and there was not a sign of rain. Weather report said 30% chance until 9am and then 0% after that, so the mud tires were left to rest back in MN. Chatted with the main competition; the Chris's. Chris Strout was fresh off his first 12 hour win 2 weeks before and was sporting the latest SRAM goodies, complete with electrical tape. Chris Schotz was running self supported like myself.

The Start
The race course was described as 6-7 miles of single track with no passing. With that I put in a big effort to get to the trail first so that there was no chance of me being held up. Looking back I could see C. Strout about 10 seconds back. The course was incredibly rough and his 69'er Siren softail could not have been as smooth as my Gary Fisher Hi-Fi, so I figured I was buying my time until the bumps and rocks started to get to him. Sure enough towards the end of lap 3 I lost sight of him and continued on my way. I rode for awhile, lapping riders, and finishing off laps in the mid to high 30 minute range. I saw C. Schotz when the course almost overlapped on itself and knew he was about 4-5 minutes back.

Crash and Burn.
Soon the course roughness seemed to numb the body and the bumps felt smaller. Now the course is really rough, new, rocky, and constantly changing pitch. You could never stay in a gear long or settle into any sort of groove. Three hours in, on a longer downhill towards the end of the lap, a bug flew into my "good" eye, causing me to go off trail enough to hit a stump and fly over the handlebars at a high rate of speed (Think Matt's video below, only the speed was higher). I heard an explosion and thought that such a hard impact was a race ender. I got up, checked the bike, and got going. Sometimes the body feels better if you start riding right away. Well, my left shoulder and hip were in a lot of pain, as well as my head, and my stomach was now nausueas and I was light headed. With the dripping down my leg I figured the Camelback exploded. I took a timeout at the pits to refill the Camelbacks and make sure that I was safe to go out again. Turns the explosion and dripping were my exploded gel flask. Soon, C. Schotz came by and I was sure that C. Strout would be there too. So I headed out, covered in gel, hoping not to lose too much time. The injuries were bothering me and I was still light headed, so I pulled over and sat on a log to keep from crashing again. Then I went back to the pits to sit as well ans see if I could get myself back in the race. A time out, new shorts, and sleeveless jersey had me going again, but I was definitely beat up.

Sometime before the crash and rainfall. Note the race number.

The Comeback? (not sure what is up with the text size)
I put in 3 or 4 good fast laps when it started to rain. The prospect of rain made me happy as I thought I would do even better with a muddy course. I got in a half lap and it was getting slick already. I went out for another lap and all rear tire traction was gone. The Bontrager XR-1 (my rear tire choice) was amazing in the dry, but possibly the worst tire for the mud. Every corner had my rear wheel slide out. Most climbs I had to walk, and everything else was a chore. I had person after person passing me and the temps went down. My sleeveless jersey was now a liability as I was freezing as well. That and the fact I was nursing my body from the crash had me convinced that if I ever finished the lap I would be done. I was having no fun that day. My last lap out there would take my 1 hour 20 minutes, 2 1/2 times longer then my other laps. I managed 8 hours out there full of frustrations on the day.

I ended the day in 7th, thanks to the fact half of the other solo field dropped as well. Could have gone better. The next day my hip was alright, but the shoulder was hurting.

Looks like I was wordy, saw about that. Hope your boss understands.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Velorochester Training Camp and Race, Long

Time for some math. I have a cabin in Cable, WI. There is a super fun race the weekend of May 16/17th and sweet trails to ride after. There is also a fairly lame MN series race course that weekend. Add it up and you get much of the Velo team headed up to Cable for the weekend for racing, riding, and smack talking.

There were definitely 2 mini teams at camp this year. The young 'n dumb crowd (Myself, Matt Kurke, Mark Carey, Jason Wenk, and Chris Fisher), and the old 'n wise crowd (Gary Gross, Mark Barlow, and Chuck Sorenson).

The Race-CORC (Cable Off-Road Classic)
Friday night most of us got a ride in. Saturday morning was chilly. With temps not even hitting 40 degrees, the youth of the team rolled out for the 5 mile warm up to Lakewoods lodge. Once there I separated myself and did everything I could do to warm up the body. My legs were telling me that it was not to be a good day. The cold I have been fighting the last week was making it's presence known as well.

The national anthem ends and Gary Crandel calls out 3 seconds to start. We assumed he meant 30 seconds until the gun fired right after. I was standing next to my bike so I hopped on and played catch up. Through the rock lake single track and back out on the road I found myself right near or at the front. TJ Woodruff took off hard and shortly later a guy that I would find out is Dan Schuetz took off as well with no one chasing. There was a group of 15 or so, but I could only pick out a few riders while we rolled along at high speed; Matt Kurke (VR teammate), Chris Fisher (VR teammate), Sam Oftedahl (Super nice guy), and Hollywood (Party On!). Matt, Hollywood, and I were doing the bulk of the work, with me coughing a lot from my cold. I started to get annoyed that after awhile I found myself on the front more and more without help, so I tried little surges, not attacks, to break up the group and soften others for later in the race. I figured I would fade at some point and Matt and Chris could take advantage of my work.

The speeds were very fast, the temp still wasn't above 40, and we were rolling straight through the abundant amount of puddles. Needless to say there were some very cold and wet feet out there!

Luckily I had ridden the 4 wheeler trail we were on at the time and knew we were about to turn on to the Esker's single track. I rolled into the corner first and kept the pace up. Hollywood was behind me and I knew his fully rigid 29'er couldn't motor through the rough stuff like my Hi Fi, so I layed on the gas. Out of the Esker I found myself off the front of the group with Matt and Sam. Some chain suck on a hill and they had a small gap on me. I was now rolling in 5th and pleased as punch with my standing on the course.

The Ojibwe trail was next, tight and twisty single track. Right before that I could see Matt catch and pass Dan who had been away for awhile. For several miles I rode with the mindset of keeping Sam, the 2008 MN state series champ, in my sights. Shortly before the end of the trail Sam got by Dan as well and Matt was getting harder to see. I too got behind Dan and I think he was really suffering on the trail with his small wheeled hardtail. I lost some time getting around him, and I thought Sam and Matt were gone for good.

The last 5 miles are wide open and when I popped out I saw Sam was not far up. Now Sam has amazing power to weight, but I have not seen his numbers on the bathroom scale since I was 12. On the flats I can look like the tough guy. I caught him quickly and he let me know that he was content sitting on for a long while. Now Sam could be holding a large Labrador Retriever and I would still throw up bigger numbers when weighed, so I was not worried about him for the sprint. That, and I know a guy like Sam is way to nice to let me do the bulk of the work only to come by at the end.

I layed on the gas in hopes of catching Matt (who I only assumed could also out kick Sam in the sprint), and holding off Dan. No disrespect to Sam, because on a course like Afton he could be eating a sub, texting his Dad, and still pull away from me easily on the climbs. We all have our strengths. I could see TJ a ways up on Matt as well. Matt's gap started to come down and it looked possible, until he saw me back there and dug deep to open it up again. The last little bit I slowed down knowing that my Matt was gone for good and Dan was not catching us. Sam impressed me a lot by offering to lead me out and I came by him for 3rd place. I forgot to thank him afterwards so hopefully he reads this. Truly a classy guy.

This is the best placing I have ever done in a larger race so I was stoked! Third place and just in the money! I also beat some very strong guys and was only 90 seconds back of a well seasoned pro. Full results here.

Saturday Night Ride
The young'ns got out that night for a fun night ride on the Ojibwe. Super fun singletrack is only made better in the dark.


On our way to singletrack bliss.

Sunday was spent riding for close to 4 hours in the Rock Lake system. We ran into the old guys and got a picture.

There is a new section of singletrack being built at Rock Lake that we rode by accident on Sunday. We hit again Sunday and stopped a wild rock chute. This is a good sized chute with some small drops and all rock. It is intimidating.

We decided to do a quick instructional video. This is Matt Kurke demonstrating how not to ride this section. Don't worry, Matt was wearing a helmet so there was no chance of injury. Sorry, but you'll have to tilt your head as I can't figure out how to turn the video.

And this is Jason Wenk showing proper form. (May want to watch the volume if watching in public.)

Then we came home. Lots of riding on our legs and big smiles.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Things that are making me think.

This guy makes me think.

Why is it that I am opt to ride my bike at stupid long lengths, but look for the closest parking spot at Target?

I saw a sticker on a washroom mirror about employees having to wash their hands. Why is the sticker there? If they are at the sink where they can see the sticker, then they probably are washing their hands. The sticker should be above the urinal to remind the morons to wash up after doing their business.

Why are so many mountain bikers so infatuated with beer? Yeah, you may like to drink it and yeah, it makes your girlfriend look better, but it is just a drink. Why couldn't people get just as excited to go home and have a glass of milk?

How will my body do at the 12 Hours of the Northern Kettles?

Looks like I may not be racing the Iowa 24 hour race and instead tackling 24 Hours at Afton.

I saw a guy stop his car in the middle of a busy parking lot for 20 seconds so he could watch a good looking girl put groceries in the trunk in her car. I wanted to punch the guy for being such a toolbag.

Why does NPR have a membership drive 6 months of the year? They get corporate money, government money, and public money. Private radio stations are jealous of the technology that NPR is able to spend money on. I say open it up to commercials and let the free market take hold.

Why does NPR say they are unbiased when they are not? I have heard several news reports on liberal topics that only show the liberal side. They will interview several people that support their view. The tone of the questions are something like, "Why do we not have tougher gun laws yet?". My favorite was, "How can you be in the republican party and support gay marriage? They are so vile.". For the record I consider myself more of an independent. The handling of Bill O'reilly and Al Franken a couple of years back is a classic example as well.

I need to start "training" again. Lately all I have wanted to do is goof off on my Hi Fi, easily my favorite bike I have ever ridden.

The neighbor's dogs are annoying. They'll bark and bark at my dog while she chews on sticks in the back yard.

I hope I finally found the trick to get grass to grow in my front yard.

It finally happened. Someone got yelled at by their boss for reading my blog (see comments on previous post). I feel like I accomplished something with that.

How much does your company pay you a year while you are surfing blogs?

Friday, May 08, 2009

I hate corn.

How I failed at TI, by Charly Tri

A little background. This race is 320 miles of Iowa gravel. Self supported, 34 hour cutoff, 3 checkpoints.

I made the 4 hour drive down to Middle of Nowhere, IA with J-No and B.D. in the afternoon with time to spare before the prerace meeting. We stopped at "Dashboard Subs" to chow down before hand as we still had an hour left. Luckily, we had that long as I almost was able to clean them out of saltines while we waited for our subs. Meeting was cool, and then it was to the hotel with plans of waking up at 2am for the 4am start. As luck would have it I woke at 12:30am to use the restroom and could not get back to sleep, so I went to the lobby and watched the last half of Underworld with the desk clerk. Wake up time arrives, we eat, get dressed, and roll to the start at an unholy hour.

I had 3 goals with this race, but the first needed to be done to accomplish the second and then the third. The first goal was just to finish. Our cemetery start seemed a little fast as we rolled through the Iowa countryside in the dark. Dawn would arrive and there would be 20 left in the front group of the 50 starters. Everything was fine until mile 30 when I flatted the front tire. Dang it, I knew I should have topped off the tires with air. Well, got that changed and passed fellow rider Tim Ek in the same situation on my quest for the front group.

Final instructions before the start. Your handsome writer is on the left in the yellow jacket. Photo thanks to Katy, more here.

Mile 40 is the first check point and where we pick up our second set of directions. I rolled into town a 1/4 mile behind the lead group, got into the checkpoint, got my directions, and rolled onwards quickly. It seemed many where taking it easy there as only 3 of us pulled out together. That would soon become 6 as we tried to figure out the directions out of town and then 4 as the pace went up some.

Rolling into a "B" road at mile 53 I was riding with Charlie Farrow, John Gorilla, and Charlie Parsons (Yeah, 3 Charlies) in the front group. That is when "it" happened. The only possible explanation figured out so far is that I caught a corn stalk, yes a corn stalk, in the rear wheel and it won a battle with my rear deraileur. With my rear deraileur in 2 pieces I set out on making a single speed so I could still ride and finish.

The 39X20 combo seemed the best for chain tension so I rolled on with that. Only problem was the chain would not stay in one gear for more then a couple of seconds. It would drop to the smaller harder gears where there was not enough chain wrap to keep it from skipping over the teeth, or it would shift into the larger easier gears where the chain tension was EXTREMELY tight. Tight to the point it would groan heavily with each RPM. After messing around to try to get a workable gear I set out riding and listening to the groan of each pedal stroke, as it would stay in that gear. Well, I had a 9 speed chain tool with a 10 speed chain and the pin would not fully engage the back plate, so it only took a 1/4 mile for that to blow up. That was it. My race was done before it really got good.

I can count 3 things missing, how many can you find?

I headed North back to the start in Williamsburg very slowly. I had to walk most uphills as I could not put pressure on the chain without it skipping, coast down the downhills, and deal with a skipping, constantly shifting chain on the flats that broke again several times. Every 1/2 mile I would have to hop off the bike, remove the wheel, and place the chain back on a cog so that there was not so much chain tension from a large cog. There was about 40 miles of this very slow progress until a local gave me a lift the last 5 into town. I started off for the car that was still a couple of miles away when my chain broke one more time. I just walked it in from there. TI you won.
Congrats to everyone that finished, there are some great stories to be heard from those riders.

Transiowa, I have a score to settle, you better watch your ass next year.

This video was courtesy of George Vargas, 10th place finisher of Transiowa. Link to his site with other videos of other events can be found here. I can be found at 1:36 with my busted bike.

Maybe you should have read this at home when you are off the clock?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Upon inspection it looks like a stick got in the spokes and helped to rip the derailleur off. No idea how that could have happened. We were on a "b" road, there was not a tree for at least a city block in any direction, there was no problem with the chainand I was not shifting. It just went BAM! No warning.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

TI short version.

Start at 4am.
Flat tire at 30 miles.
-Chase back, catch back on at checkpoint at mile 40.
-Four of us off the front from there(including Charlie Farrow and Gorilla?)
-About mile 53 rear derailleur explodes and dangles by the cable.
-Seriously, we were just riding along, I was not shifting at the time.
-Spend a looooonnnngggg time trying to get my bike working single speed, but it refuses to stay in gear for more than 5 revolutions. Chain jams, have to remove the wheel.
-Splice the chain, add links, splice the chain, try try try to get it going.
-No possible way to get the bike working.
-Limp back very slowly to the start.
-Call the family, Dad decides to come pick me up (came down with friends).
-I am know in MN again hanging with the family including Sam from Maine!
-Brian D. had to drop as well. J-No is still riding strong at mile 150 last I heard.
-Iowa is boring. Wish the course was more like Ragnarok. May not be back next year for that reason.
-Ride strong Charlie and J-No, ride strong.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Are you interested in the audio updates during Transiowa? A link can be found here, The race starts at 4am Saturday morning. Yes, 4 am. If all goes well I hope to finish in about 24 hours.

Yeah, yeah you wish me luck. Thanks.