Sunday, February 28, 2010


Alright, so this post comes in 4 completely separate parts.

Part 1
I plan on racing Arrowhead again next year. Great people, beautiful course, and pushing it to the extremes; ie, a recipe for fun. I am not a man of deep pockets so a true winter bike will hopefully be built over the course of this summer. Closeouts will be scoured, and begging will be common place. My buddy Chris Strout (formally of World Bicycle Relief and now at Cane Creek) got me off on the right foot by hooking me up with some sweet product (and no begging needed!). Now, people go on and on about Chris King headsets while my basic Cane Creeks pound out long quiet hours without a whimper. I have always had a problem with the pedestal the the King's have been put on. To make a point, CC knocked out the 110 headset. A warranty that lasts 110 years? Sounds like the first piece in the snow bike puzzle as all my other bikes are outfitted with Cane Creek IS headsets already. Thanks Chris and Cane Creek!!

Part 2
J-No? Check. Start in the dark? Check. The XRC/DBD/ABC/LMNOP rides are back on. Meet at 6am, this time with J-No and the man that we'll call the Great Gazoo. We all plan on tackling Ragnarok and Transiowa. They roll on studded cross tires and single speed cross bikes, me on my studded 2.1's and Fisher 29er. Hills are the name, gravel was our game. Pulled up to my side door with over 6 hours in the legs and wondering how much those tires weigh as the last hour I swear they had gained 10 pounds each (they actually weigh 2.42 pounds each). Kuske made his face shown towards the end, not a true member yet of the exclusive club, but his status can be upgraded down the line with the proper paperwork and training.



Part 3
Gravel grinding. I am sick of the term and new races popping up everywhere you look. Everyone and their brother is putting on a race or is in one, two, or a dozen. My prediction is we'll see a peak here this year or next and a big decline. Seriously, sweet ribbons of dirt, or long boring roads of crushed rock? Yeah, yeah, yeah, entry costs you a postcard, but you still have to ride it. Now, some courses are worth it. Ragnarok 105 is 'da bomb' because of it's awesome terrain. Transiowa? Well, Transiowa and me have a score to settle from last year and it's first iteration. Beyond that, if it were in the summer, you probably would not see me there. Heck of the North is on my radar for similar reasons as Ragnarok.

Part 4
I watched 2 movies this weekend with the wife and I had guessed the ending of both before they even started. The Ugly Truth was a movie that the wife snuck in on our Netflix queue (note to self: change the password on Netflix). I wasn't going exactly out on a limb when I called the end of that flick. Oh, and for the Men out there, avoid if possible. Then Shutter Island was a very good movie, but again I guessed the entire premise before buying my ticket.

Am I just so amazing that I know everything or are movies too predictable? Seriously, which? No, no it is not my good looks. That was not a choice. They have nothing to do with the question. I think it is a little of both, not my good looks.

And with that, I bid you BTW and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm blowing up!

I am in the paper AGAIN.

Nothing like trying to make Eastwood look like a den of sexual deviancy and crime. Geez Louise.

Oh, and for the record. My "quotes" were only partially accurate. Most of the meaning came through, but they are not exact quotes.

I really should run for public office with all this publicity. I could make a fortune off of bribes and kickbacks.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Inhale, exhale

What does Moab, Arrowhead, and my ride this last Sunday have in common? They were all cut short with severe breathing problems. A trip to the small, but local Mayo Clinic got me pointing in the right direction. According to Dr. Scanlon (a seasoned cyclist himself), I have borderline full blown ashma. Technically though, I have exercise induced ashma. Three prescriptions later and I have a lot of optimism. One inhaler for shorter events and attacks, one for longer lasting effects for endurance races, and one to use twice a day for several weeks to get my lungs settled down and acting properly. The latter can be used later as needed as well.

The testing is humbling as I could not breath even though I had been doing nothing but sitting for the previous hour.

He even offered to write me a Therapeutic Use Exemption for WADA. That would be pretty sweet if I ever actually need it, but then I would need to stop the EPO and HGH cycles.

Well, now you should join your working buddies in the daily grind again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Eats

Got hunger?

The Sandwich 50 is now open and filling up quick!


Arrowhead, a pic

Jason (J-No) and I (back turned) chatting the night before Arrowhead. We had just filled our bellies with food and met some of the Duluth crew. I think Jason is smiling at the thought of passing me while I die on the trail.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Guest blogger.

As I sit here feeling horrible with constant trips to the porcelain bowl to relieve my stomach of it's contents I got an expected e-mail. You have heard his name mentioned here, seen him in the paper, and may remember when he took top honors at the 1991 Rochester Centurion. Please give a warm welcome to Jason "J-No" Novak...


Arrowhead Ultra 135 Race Report
Jason Novak

I had a good time up in International Falls, although I missed my family. Andrew (my oldest) turned 8 on Monday and it was hard missing his birthday. He was counting on me to bring him a finisher’s trophy. Charly and I just kind of hung out and prepared our gear for Mon morning. Pre race check in went without a hitch and we were able to talk with old friends and make new ones in the day leading up to the race. One of the nice things about this race was how laid back and friendly everyone was. There was no sense of nervousness or competitiveness.

On Monday morning we packed up and I drove to the start. The temp was -18deg F, but I felt ready for the cold. I had trained in similar conditions and felt I had a good handle on the layers/gear necessary. The snow conditions were great. The pace was fast off the gun, but I was so far back it didn’t matter. I was in cruise control the first part of the race, just riding along and if my legs felt any burning I backed off. I had the opportunity to ride with Lindsay Gould for a while. Lindsay is 61 years old and was on the 1972 Canadian Cycling team. A true gentleman, he is pretty hardcore on the bike. We started chatting and he dropped back due to some frozen hydration issues. The first checkpoint was at the Gateway Store about 30something miles in. Just before the store I came upon Charlie Farrow. Farrow is a legend in these parts. He is the self appointed leader of a gang in Duluth known as the “DBD”. His exploits are something out of a Krakauer novel. Farrow was having some problem with frozen toes. He passed me back for good at the store. I saw Chary Tri at the store as well; he was heading out as I arrived. I grabbed a bowl of soup and some juice for a few minutes and headed out. While I was there another DBD’er, Jason Buffington, came and went (on a non fat 29er!). He would continue on to a top placing.

The second leg to Melgeorge’s is about 37 miles and is where the hills start. We are talking monster climbs, 50 yards long and as steep as a ski hill, one after another. My goal was to make the elephant lake crossing and to Melgeorge’s before dark. Temps started to drop to around zero (from a high of about 5 degF). About 15 miles from the halfway point I came across a walking Charly Tri. He was having some breathing difficulties. He withdrew soon after. Once I hit Melgeorge’s I had a soup and sandwich, chatted with the awesome volunteers, and dried out my clothes. There was a cute baby there and that made me a little homesick. No cell service. At this point I was tired, but having a really good time.

I headed out for the long stretch (about 40 miles) to the last checkpoint. The distances do not seem like a lot to a cyclist, but when you factor in an average speed of 4-7 mph, the hours add up. More hills. Initially I left with Dave Gray, Don Gabrielson, and Chris Plesko. Dennis Grelk had left a few minutes before us. Don and Dave had a faster pace so Chris and I rode together for the next few hours. I was getting pretty cold and sleepy at about 11pm. My clothes were soaked. I would overheat on the way up the hill and then flash freeze on the way down. Chris and I were entertaining the idea of breaking out the bivy’s for a couple of hours and catching a nap. A few miles later we caught up with Don and he mentioned stopping and starting a fire. He joked that we had all this expensive gear, why not use it? We stopped at about mile 100. The temperature was about -10degF. After we had some difficulty getting a fire started, I jumped in my bag and ate about 1000 calories and a bottle of water. I started shivering uncontrollably for about 10 minutes although I was not cold. I have read about this and I knew it would pass. It did and I fell asleep for 2 hours. Lindsay, Andy, Bill, and Jeremy (another crazy DBD’er on a single speed 29’er) passed us at some point while I was napping. Janice from AK rolled up at some point and crashed for a while as well. Once we got up and rolling the hills continued for the next 3 hours to the tipi, the final checkpoint. It was just Don and I at this point. Chris (on a single speed snow bike) was not far behind.

The final 18 miles are pancake flat, just a path through the trees. The sun was up, and I was getting tired, but being so close to the finish kept me going. Once I rolled in to Fortune Bay I found where I was supposed to go, congratulated the earlier finishers, and took a pull of whisky from Dave Pramann’s flask.

The race was very well organized. The scenery was spectacular. I had a disposable digital camera, but it froze and would not work. Everyone was friendly and supportive and the volunteer’s were top notch. It was the hardest event I have done. Thanks to the Ostor’s for putting on this event. The timing looks better next year and I spent the last stretch making mental notes on some changes I’ll make for next time. I look forward to seeing my new friends again soon.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Chequamegon 100

With every down there is an up. And now someone is organizing the exact race that I have been dreaming of in my mind.

Can you say excited?



Arrowhead 135, a recap..

So J-No and I headed up to International Falls on Saturday, checked in Sunday and got to hang with some fellow racers before hand. Pretty much everyone doing this race has experience that allowed them to be more relaxed than you would typically see before a big event like this.

Jason and I headed over to the start Monday morning, him on his fatbike, me on my plump Gary Fisher (47mm wide rime, wide tires). It was dark still and dozens of bikes lined the outside of the warming house. I took a hit off my wife's albuterol inhaler as my lungs have not seemed 100% and I was worried about them for the race. Got to talk to several familiar faces and off we went at 7am. The -15 degree temps dipped down to -22ish before crawling back up. The pace on the front was fast (I'm told), and I had no intention of trying to match their pace as my only goal was to ride steady and finish the race. I followed about 100 yards back with the rest of the field a fair bit behind me. After about an hour we actually got on to the Arrowhead trail and the once perfectly straight trail finally had some turns. I rode for awhile trading places with another rider as we went about the same speed, but we both kept stopping to make small changes to our set ups.

As I kept along I came across Charlie Farrow (XRC wannabe member), Chris Plesko (great divide single speed record holder), then finally Josh Peterson (Deathrider). I rolled into the Gateway store after almost 4 hours feeling alright, chugged a Gatorade for good measure, hit the inhaler again just in case, and got on my way. I think I may have "passed" a couple of riders that spent a little longer at the store. About an hour after Gateway I started to have trouble with my breathing.

My breathing became very shallow and rapid with deep breaths impossible. I had been keeping a steady pace of 10-11mph on the flats and about 6mph on the hills. Well, now I was reduced to walking all the hills and struggling to go 6mph on the flats despite trying the inhaler again. I became very weak and dizzy. My calorie and water intake had been fine, but I took more in for good measure. I was still warm, not worried about the cold (except some problems I had been having with my feet). I spent a little over an hour like this and realized that my race was done. Even if I could get my breath back, I could not risk being in the middle of nowhere at 3am and having the same problems. I met Jerry, Dave Grey's dad, at sheepranch road and he gave me a ride to Melgeorge's where I had a hacking cough for an hour when my lungs got warm air in them. It was cool to see the top 15 or so guys come and go, but I wish I was there with them.

I am very frustrated with the end result of my race. I felt like I spent many, many hours trying to figure out how to best handle gear, the overall cost was much higher than I initially expected, I had back ups for all emergencies (I thought), and set a pace that was well within myself. it is hard to see any positives that came out of this for myself. Now the fitness that I have needs to be built upon for the summer.

I do want to note that Jason did awesome. He finished in 26:22 after spending part of the night in his bivy with some fellow racers. Look for a guest blog post from him soon. Also, Dan Dittmer rocked out a top 5 finish in his first attempt of the race. That guy is a machine! I look forward to getting his autograph soon.

So now I am trying to figure out to smoothest way to get into the clinic to get checked out. I have put off my breathing problems long enough.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Just checking in.

I'm alive.  I'm very frustrated.  I'm trying to get into the clinic to figure out my breathing problems.

No problems with cold/food/water.