Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Superfly, version 2.

My mountain bike season is now here. I spent a lot of time cleaning and regreasing almost all the moving parts on the Superfly. A new chain and now a mountain cassette adorn the bike. The biggest difference is now the Reba XX suspension fork instead of the bontrager carbon rigid fork.. Last night's Eastwood race was the first time with suspension and it was oh so very nice. The bike absolutely flies now on the dirt with cush and proper fork geometry. The legs felt great even after 12 hours in the saddle Saturday.

I stole this pic off "Banjo Ted's" website from Transiowa. This pretty much sums up the roads out there. Look at the the lines we took, searching for firmer ground.

BTW, or more Internet searching for blog material.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Everybody Poops, Transiowa edition.

Crap happens. Leading up to Transiowa it was the weather. People freaking out, biting their nails, and discussing there fears with friends. Me, I just remembered what I tell the love of my life in these situations. Everybody poops. Everybody will have the same weather, same course, same opportunities for failure and success. I just wanted to hop on my bike and push myself with no regrets.

Four am in the morning and there is unexpectedly no rain. Actually, just a fog in the air and surprisingly decent temps. The roll out was good and Jason Buffington (great guy, DBD member, and fantastic Transiowa recap) warned me that the first section of gravel was nasty. Sure enough the only halfway passable lines seemed to be the deep tire tracks of our pace car. That lead out to more gravel that was just plain really soft. So off we are, at too early in the morning, on wet/soft gravel. The spray was bad and the fast track hard to see, so I spent my time on the front where it was much easier. I was actually having fun.

Soon enough the lightning could be seen in the distance, and then right next to us. Night turned into day and back into night many times over. White streaks would strike the ground all around us and across the sky. This was made only more fun with the rain. Everybody poops I thought as I rode on the front. I was really, truly having fun.

The skies subsided some and a group of about nine of us were left on the front as we passed through the first checkpoint 45 miles in. This of course was after walking my bike on some sweet Iowa mud, er 'B' roads for a mile all the while cursing "Bango Ted's" name in humor. Last year's champ flatted soon after and Gorilla (yes, that is his real last name and also a previous champ, but I don't know what year because I am not a TI historian like many at the race seem to be) waited. We backed down our pace as it was swift and we knew that the night held more of the same from that morning. The roads were mushy and slow. The tops of the slow, slow climbs were met with mashed piles of rocks and mud for some reason and they were nearly unrideable. I was still having fun.
(As we slowed with Joe and John off the back. I think Jason on the left, Eki on the right, and others hidden by my big head)

Meiser and Gorilla would join back on, but during another Iowa slip and slide road they got a gap as we stopped and took pictures. We let them go as they seemed destined to go harder than the pace we had settled into. Through attrition our group was down to Me, the DBD'rs from Duluth (Tim Ek, Jason Buffington, and Charlie Farrow), and Sean Mailen. A hearty bunch that I certainly enjoy spending time with, and I was having fun.
(Hey guys, stop pushing for a sec and smile for the camera!)

Well, about 80 miles in I had a mechanical that caused my rear wheel to lock up. The boys stopped, but continued on since it would be awhile, if at all. As soon as I remounted my body let me know it was not too happy with the fact that it was only given about 50 ounces of water in the last 5 or 6 hours. Weakness, dizziness, and confusion reigned supreme as I drank and ate while chasing my compatriots. Without a response to my knock on a rural front door, I attacked someone's garden hose with my thirst. I drank close to 50-60 ounces on the spot, filled up the bottles again, and then resumed the chase into the relentless headwind. I was in a bad way.

Almost an hour later my chase would end at a BP gas station in Pella where I was met by my previous partners. More calories and liquids were consumed in an effort to get out of my funk. Discussion revolved around the center idea that this was tough. We were getting worked over. Our departure soon happened and my funk had gotten worse. I was in a much worse way.

This is where I entered my "Dark Place". I sat on the back of our train that was joined by Lance Andre. Everything seemed to hurt, I was tired, and the legs were weak. That is when the Devil sat on my shoulder helping to figure out a way to quit and keep some self respect. I would ask the Angel on the other shoulder to intervene, but he was very quiet. So there I sat, on the back constantly telling the Devil to shut it's pie hole. You usually reach this point at some stage in a race like this. Maybe more than once. After all, everybody poops. I was in my Dark, Dark Place.

It was walking on another 'B" road that I noticed my attitude perked up and some how we lost Sean. Soon my body would respond with in kind to my mind's reversal. I was back to 100% finally and going good. I would proceed to got to the front for long periods and make up for my wheel sucking. I was having fun again.

We rode. The partly cloudy sky left and dark clouds were taking its place. The wind slowed and you could see the predicted bad weather about to hit. Lance would pull off of our group. As we rolled in to checkpoint 2, 131 miles and about 12 hours from the start, we knew the soft roads and fatiguing legs were taking their toll on our pace. Mathematically we couldn't foresee any possibility of anyone arriving at checkpoint 3 on time. The weather was going to be worse, our legs more tired, and the roads would seemingly only get slower. Meiser and Gorilla seemed also worse for wear as we pulled into checkpoint 2 just 7 minutes behind them. I was now conflicted.

The DBD'rs and I pulled the plug for fear of putting ourselves in a needlessly dangerous situation. J-No would pick us up in What Cheer (yes, that is the town's name) and we would spend much of that night together, eating and drinking. The race would be canceled very soon after we stopped for the very reasons we had given. There were some that continued past the checkpoint, but it seemed even more called for a ride back. Several stopped as the course had simply broken them. The rest just simply could not make the time check. Physically, I was glad with the fact I would have been able to continue without concern for my ability to pedal. I was happy.
(The view of checkpoint 2 from the Casey's as rain poured down and litter flowed by the window)

So that's that. I have not sworn off another run next year. I have no regrets with my race, I rode strong, and had fun. Those were my only goals going in.

Now, maybe you should get back to work. Especially you Gunnar, you must spend half your day just looking for material and then putting it on your blog.

TI V6 done

My goals were to ride to my abilities and have fun.  Check and check.  The weather won, but we gave it a long drawn out fight.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Iowa has wronged me and my people,

Now I leave to seek repercussions. Updates can be found here.

Me and the loaded 3 time undefeated Superfly will seek our revenge. Note the additional bottle cage, rear fender, homemade front fender, and a closely held secret under the bars.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gangsta rolling

Hmmm, what has been going on? Well, I intended to put my body into the hurt locker after Ragnarok with lots of riding and intensity and that seemed to work all too well. I took 2 much needed days off and finally have the spunk in my legs that seemed to have been missing for almost 2 weeks.

Tested 1/2 of my light set up for Transiowa and it is all systems go, but I am not sweating things like I may have in the past. It is always fun to see people going nuts with what set up for water, bags, tires, and bikes. People seriously will be sweating big decisions up until race day. I just want to ride.

Picture was blurry, but what do expect when rolling on gravel at night?
I am excited for Transiowa to be done because that signals full force into the more fun mountain bike season. TI and Ragnarok are great distractions until fat tires rule the summer days. Tonight is another Eastwood TT. Fun times.


Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm blowing up part ???

From the Northern regions, Tim Ek sent me this from the Duluth Paper:

Ek leads Duluth contingent

Tim Ek finished second in the Ragnarok 105 ultra cycling race on Saturday in Red Wing, Minn., to lead a pack of four Duluth riders.

Ek covered the 105-mile gravel road race in 6 hours, 16 minutes, and finished just 10 seconds behind the winner, Charly Tri of Rochester, Minn. Ek was awarded “King of the Mountains” for his performance in ascending eight climbs.

Fellow Duluth riders Charlie Farrow (fourth in 6:17), Rich Hendricks (16th in 7:02) and Jeremy Kershaw (20th in 7:05) joined about 100 riders who competed in the race over hilly terrain.


No picture of me? No gushing about my amaziness? I didn't even get a twitter mention from Lance! At least all the new endorsement deals help settle my rage. Look for me on the GoDaddy! commercials and on "Dancing with the Stars" next season. That Wheaties box should be in supermarkets soon as well.

Oh, I have to signing to get to...btw.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whoa doggy.

Sometimes you are the nail. Sometimes the hammer.

Ragnarok on Saturday+
Teach indoor cycling and then mountain biking Sunday+
6 mile hike Monday+
Eastwood full out time trial Tuesday
Being the nail on Wednesday night road ride.

Almost a whole body ache. Hills really were killer. Pulled off realizing that sometimes the body needs to take it a little more chill.

Did anyone hear the big news? A Sandwich 50 contender dropped under odd circumstances.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Next up.

So this is the next race in the plans. April 24th-25th will be spent trying to cover 300+ miles of gravel as quickly as possible. This makes me think of motivation.

Now, with the race approaching I am doing all the things that I believe are needed to do well, however my motivation does not lie with these thoughts. Three times I have registered for Transiowa. The first I was out of shape for and made it 85 miles. The second saw an injury force me to miss the start. The third a mechanical took me out 50 miles in. I averaged about 45 miles in each race.

Fed up, I am out to conquer my demons. The more I think about the race, my past follies and the smell of competition are the only things that get my motor running. There is a strong possibility if the race concludes with me finishing I will not be back. With a race like the Transwisconsin out there, Iowa gravel has really lost any luster it had.

I will be riding in Iowa with these thoughts in my mind. Pissed off by my past the past, motivated for the finish. Along that journey I hope I get to ride with the same group of guys that I saw in Ragnarok and I hope they have the best of luck.

Everyone make like they're working.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I am a 2 time weiner!

The Ragnarok 105 is a 105 mile gravel road race that takes you over many, many 400 foot climbs along the Mississippi Valley near Red Wing, MN. It is a fun race, beautiful course, and hard competition.

Last year went well for me, well mostly. The end result was great.

This year saw lots of strong guys getting ready to line up for the start. Unfortunately, my preride shake down the day before had me feeling very weak. That morning I woke and had to make an immediate entrance into the bathroom to do some reading. This would happen several more times before the start of the race. This was far more than prerace jitters.

The start was pleasant enough. Lots of talking/joking. We hit the first big climb about 4 miles in. My body was not feeling well as we went over climb after climb, but I did my best to keep two that I perceived as my main competition in sight, Joe Meiser and Tim Ek. About 20 miles in there was a split in the large front group on a big climb and our lead group of 7 was formed. This group would contain Tim, Joe, Charlie Farrow, Ryan Horkey, Sean Mailen, John Struchynski, and myself. We worked quickly to form a gap. After a quick pee break on top of a hill we noticed our gap had shrunk some, but we soon grew it more. Joe did a great job of keeping everyone on task and working on a quick pace. This pace plus myself not feeling well had me convinced that I would not stay with the front group until the finish. A little before the halfway point though Joe flatted and the pace would slow without organization. This would be to my benefit as our pace was very moderate for most of the rest of the race. Our checkpoint halfway in was uneventful except I was really wishing I had some caffeine because I was felling crummy. As the race went on I felt better and better, so I devised an attack for the finish.

I knew the last climb and I knew that the last 100 yards of that climb were very steep and then it was almost 5 miles to the finish. I set off from our group on the steep section determined to make it to the top with a gap . This panned out as I reached the top with a very narrow gap over a great climbing Horkey. The big ring was engaged and I was off like a prom dress over the mile on top of the bluff and the descent down the backside. At the bottom I saw Tim and Ryan had joined forces and were in full on chase. Through traffic and stop signs we rode our butts off. Luckily I was not held up too long by any congestion (except a very slow moving car at one point that I could not get around). I ended up holding them off by about 10 seconds for the win. Tim got second and Ryan a very close third.

This is a picture at about 80 miles in. This climb was probably the toughest of them all with it's unrelenting steep pitches. It was demoralizing for all of us to see it from the road in the background. From left to right in the pic is Ryan, Myself, Farrow, Sean, and Ek. John is around there somewhere as well.
Picture maliciously stolen from the Ragnarok blog.


Time for you to return back to work.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

More Carbon!!

I am extremely humbled by my bike query this year. This is the bike that I have been dreaming of before Gary Fisher even started the design work on it. The Superfly 100 knocks off a few pounds off the old Hi Fi from last year and is set to my main go to bike for all things off road.

Rode it for the first time last night and was reminded how the dial in process on full suspension bikes can take awhile. Maybe I am finicky, maybe not, but it took me several rides to dial in the Hi Fi and I am sure the same with this. So far though? Daddy likey. Daddy likey a lot.

The picture shows the Bontrager Rhythm Pro wheels, but most races will see the lighter XXX lite wheels get'n busy.

Now tomorrow is Ragnarok. Gravel, 105 miles worth. Last year went well for me, I hope for more of the same this year. The biggest hiccup at the moment is the fact I can't find my map case. The Superfly hardtail is chomping at the bit though.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Rolling carbon

So this last weekend was spent up at the cabin in Cable, WI with the folks, the wife, the kid, a brother, and the sister. Good weather, fun times. The men ruled at Bocce Ball, we ate, I rode. It was all good.

Little tidbit I did not expect when I got up there was that many of the trails were open! I rocked out Ojibwe more than once as that was the super fun one close to me open. Rock Lake is run by the government, so we have to wait for Obama to open that. Hatchery Creek and Makwa are set to open this weekend.

The Superfly is just that. I don't know if it is the carbon wheels, carbon crank, carbon frame, carbon fork, carbon seatpost, carbon levered brakes, carbon bottomed saddle, carbon bottle cages, or the carbon bar that will go on it after Transiowa. This bike seems smoother and stiffer in all the right ways compared to my old Paragon and Rig. It has rocked out gravel, road, bike path, dirt, and rocks. A little gravel road race in Red Wing this weekend should be child's play for this bad mamma jamma.

Here I am on what I think was Helen Lake road.

What do you say Ojibwe?

Some pretraining training.

To end the weekend on a good note my 29er crew costume was waiting for me at the door! This is some high quality Bontrager threads that do a good job hiding my fat rolls. I am sure to look spiffy this weekend!

And with that, BTW.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Start'em young pt. 2

Quick, someone call social services!!!

As part of Abi's training I took her up and down the driveway once when I headed out for a ride. Well, now I can't leave without her whining for a quick trip down the block. Baby joined us. Note her big smile toward the beginning.

Last night I was accused of half wheeling on a group ride, on my mountain bike, by a person behind me, before the person on the front had even finished pulling off (the person pulling off thought he was joking). Huh? The guy that scolded me has ridden with me once before about 2 years ago. He showed up for a fast group road ride and complained the whole time about how he wanted it to be a recovery ride as he had ridden intervals the day before. Huh?

Everybody funny, now you funny too.