Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the first day of the new year...

...your true love will give to you a 907 fatbike. My time on fatbikes is not as great as my years on mountain bikes, but I love absolutely love this bike and consider it hands down better than the pugs that once graced my stable. The flattop 80 rims are fantastic, and I am surprised how much I love the alloy fork. I dig my bike! BTW, this is a picture of my bike after finishing up the Tuscobia 150, pic stolen from the CCC's facebook page.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My day on the Tuscobia Trail

As I looked out on the trail with my headlamp, the frost crystals that had formed on every little twig would sparkle and change like they were paparazzi cameras flashing and I was Britney Spears going commando. It was quiet, very quiet; and late, just not sure how late. And plenty dark except for my little headlamp, the brilliant half moon, and bright stars.

Well, earlier that day I set out on the Tuscobia 150 race with fellow idiots looking for a challenge. The night before was our prerace gathering and it seemed with only a month to prepare, these new race organizers sure were on the ball. While it was still dark, us bikers, the odd skiers, and even more odd ball runners pushed off from Park Falls 6am that morning. The goal would be to ride 75 miles on the Tuscobia Trail, turn around, and do it all over again. Mandatory 2 stops in each direction and minimum gear requirements were there to keep us safe. The trail itself was mostly snow covered, but not enough for grooming or much traffic, making conditions tough and rutted. Add in the warm temps leading to the start, there was not much of a hard surface.

J-No, Charlie Farrow, and I spent the night before snuggled in a motel room and we now led the start. Absent were last year's big pace setters Big Buff (gone crazy and is training for running) and Lance Andre (rumored to be wind tunnel testing his newest fatbike set up). After a mile or few I squeezed to the front on our rutted portion of course. Soon I would notice that there was no light casting a shadow behind me. I figured those two had dropped back just a few feet. Quickly, we would approach the most annoying 20 mile section of trail. There was about 3 inches of snow with a shallow hard crust and soft snow beneath. To bust through the crust meant dramatically harder riding. I was almost rimming out the Flattop 80 rims in order to maintain a moderate amount of float over said crust. I knew Farrow and Novak were probably having a harder time as their rims were not as robust, nor their tires as "big and fat". I did not see them when I stopped to air out the sweet 907 bike.

Into the first checkpoint at mile 30 (4 hours in), a quick grab of peanut M&M's, a pump of the tires, and I was off. The checkpoints were just off course in motel rooms, and I had yet to see anyone else when I hopped back on the trail. The course just before that and most of the rest of the way had some traffic at points, so the tires were allowed to remain semi hard unlike the slog most of the way to the first checkpoint.

Well, onto the 2nd checkpoint and there was a bridge out. After following "the official" trail reroute to dead ends and false leads for roughly 30 minutes, I just forced my way onto the trail and soon found why there was confusion from our instructions and what we found. Novak and Farrow would end up following my tracks to the same dead ends, so I guess it was no real hindrance. Just before CP #2 I ran into one of the many great volunteers, Lisa. I was told that my lead was somewhere in excess of 5 miles, and I let her know about the bridge out problem. She took this pic as I approached, trying to ride within the lines.

Into the CP #2 (8 hours, and 65 mile in), a fill up of the Camelback, a handful of peanut M&M's, an act of war against the toilet bowl that had been brewing since the start, and I was out in 10 minutes. I would learn that my lead at CP #1 was 30 minutes. Londell the volunteer there would snap this picture of my departure back to the trail.
From there to the turn around and back the trail was only about 2/3 covered with snow, and the fastest section. I would get to the turn around and then started counting mile markers (no computer for me) until I reached 2nd place J-No just past mile marker 8, thus 16 miles in the lead. We stopped and talked about the bridge and Farrow's absence. A few miles later Farrow would talk of bad seatpost and chain when we crossed paths. I would stop into CP#3(which is the same as CP#2) 11 hours and 75 miles into the race and find I had been 90 minutes up when the others passed through. I was in and out with my M&M's and back on the trail in just a few moments and in time to watch the sun set for the night.

The trail to the last checkpoint went well for the first 10 miles, then the next 25 were a downhill slide as the length of the race and the time of day would get catch up with me. I would stop and chat with the rest of the bikers and witness the 3 runners left in the race. The CP#4 would finally arrive 120 miles and 15 1/2 hours in and the thought of the beef stew had haunted me long before arrival. The latest update was I had almost a 3 hour lead into CP#3. Armed with this info I sat and consumed stew, M&M's, chips, pop, and coffee. I felt pretty miserable and tired as it had been about 16 hours of riding in not so great conditions. After about 45 minutes of chilling I realized it wasn't going to get easy, so I figured since I was in the lead I should act like it.

Back on the bike and I felt much better for awhile. Shivering for the first 10 minutes I headed towards Park Falls, hoping for better trail then what we encountered at the start. Soon I would find things in a miserable mess. The trail was now badly rutted from runners and walking bikers and fresh snow mobile tracks were very soft. I spent about 20 miles fighting the trail. Lisa would catch back up with me at about midnight as I walked for a bit to ease the constant beating the trail dished out. She walked with me for a few minutes as I vented about how tough that section of trail was. Anyways, the frost crystals on the trees, bushes, my bags glistened brilliantly. The stars were big and bright, the half moon glowed.

Slowly, I would arrive where I started, almost 22 hours later. The finish was lit with candles...

....and a lit finish line. Probably the coolest finish I have ever seen.
Lisa met me at the finish, Greg, the owner of the Chequamegon Canoe Club (our start and finish) was fantastic in helping with whatever my heart desired. In fact, the CCC really rolled out the red carpet for the racers. A shower and a nap, then waiting for the arrival of Farrow in second and the details on J-No's DNF.

The trophy. I have a cute picture of the girls holding the trophy and prize (locally made maple syrup), but I can't find the cord to transfer the picture.

First and second place. Gotta love Farrow, combined with J-No we had a lot of fun.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the 12th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you an entry into the Decorah Time Trials. I have been making it down to this race in Decorah, IA when possible for a long time. Upon our move into the new house I got a bike room in the dungeon. I took out what race awards I had kept over the years and noticed this, plaques from the past and more present versions of this race.

Fun race, free food after, great people, fun awards = Fun.

Tuscobia 150

Done and won. I hear J-No has quit at the last checkpoint, but can't find details.

Friday, December 16, 2011

On the 11th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you an entry into a race that will worry you. I will be over 2 hours into the Tuscobia 150 when you read this. That is 150 miles on snowmobile trails in whatever winter throws at you. It was not all of a sudden I decided to do these types of races, but a gradual progression. Learn to enter races that push your comfort level. Maybe instead of that XC race you always enter you'll find your self up North with a snow bike loaded up with gear ready to ride all day and night. It is worth it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the 10th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you a blog. The world is becoming to connected. I don't want people to know where I am, what I am doing, and what I am eating at all points of the day. A blog gives you a large opportunity to post whatever you want with lots of pics without people being too connected to you. I don't want to feel like I have to constantly be looking at my phone (which does not have Internet and won't anytime soon) to see twitter updates and such. I want to live my life, not a virtual life.

The latest to enter the blogger world? J-No!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On the 9th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you a subscription to Mountain Flyer magazine. There have been many magazines that have graced my bathroom over the years, but this is most definitely the best. Sure, it is focused on the western mountain states, but it is supposed to. Great pictures, great articles, some road, mostly off road, racing, bikes, events, worth the little extra over Mountain Bike Action (who can't find a Specialized bike that is the best ever), Dirt Rag (A little to into the beer/fixie crowd for me), or my #2 Velonews (too focused on road and cx).

This picture was taken off their website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On the 8th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you a rocking Trek Cronus CX. Want to feel like you are cheating? Laterally, this thing doesn't want to move, but still smooths out the bumps. I dig it, a lot, thus it is on the list. The only thing I wish I could change was to widen the q factor as it is narrow for my birthing hips. Again, I am a shill for Trek, but I speak the truth on these products.

Monday, December 12, 2011

On the 7th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you a Reba 29er fork with remote lockout. I am a big fan of a remote lockout for my forks. Again, compared to my Fox fork experiences, this just seems to glue to the trail better, not blowing through unnecessary travel. I dig'em!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On the 6th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you Avid Ultimate CX brakes. I have tried many different brakes on cross bikes. These old school XT canti brakes have been my favorite. Yeah, yeah it is a bad picture, but it fits the whole theme of the blog.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

On the 5th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you ESI Chunky silicone grips; comfy, decently light, and colors. What is not to like?

Friday, December 09, 2011

On the 4th day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you a Rock Shox Monarch RT3 rear shock. I have ridden Fox rear shocks for several years and I was led to believe it was the bar to which others strive for. This Monarch shock is much nicer than RP23 in that the rear wheel just stays glued to the ground without blowing through travel that is not needed. My Fox shocks would always blow through much of the travel on g-outs and such. The Monarch shock took the Superfly 100 up several notches. I really dig it, as such, it made my little list here.

Some things aren't worth it.

This is the main reason why I am tempted less and less to ride on the road. I have been passed many times with the driver never looking up from their phone.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

On the 3rd day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you cheap $20 "gauntlets" from Fleet Farm. My yearly revolving door of truly awesome carbon chi chi bikes from Trek are only funded by the selling of the previous year's ride (btw, looking for a Superfly 100 with carbon wheels and Sram XX?). The accumulation of winter gear has been long and economical. With that, these pogies work awesome, have a lot of room for food and such, and are only $20 at Fleet Farm, look in the ATV accessory area. I believe these can be found at Cabella's and other places under different names.

I modded these some btw. I sewed the opening a little smaller. Also, I attached the outside to the plastic bar end plugs with a simply screw. This keeps the whole thing from flopping around to much.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

On the 2nd day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you a Trek Superfly 100. I love this bike. Yes, I am biased as I ride for the 29er crew which means I am always cashing big sponsorship checks and flying off to exotic locals for promotional events. This is one bad mamma jamma.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

On the 1st day of Xmas...

...your true love will give to you, Suntour 8spd XC Pro thumbshifters (nice pic, eh?). So, I have ridden a lot of stuff over my 18 years of mountain biking. I'll be highlighting my favorites over the next several days. If you have been good this year you may see some of this stuff under your tree. These shifters are/were/still the best around, and I modded my der to use this shifter on my 9spd fatbike drivetrain.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Yup, we got snow.

So, instead of showing you pictures (that I didn't actually take) of our massive inch or 2 of snow and how my 907 eats it up like no bike could ever before, I will give you this. This picture is my built up crazy awesome (really, it is) fatso bike. I've got me several rides on said monster and am really digging the new frame and their alloy fork. And yes, it is very metro sexual with the fancy colors and such.

Less than 2 weeks until Tuscobia 150. Yummy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

McDonald's Employee Steals Bike!

This is the McDonald's employee stealing this green Raleigh cross bike. More info here. Last I checked there is a $250 reward.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My living room ceiling

Me on my knees so so she can get more air. Even then the fan has made contact from 9 feet in the air.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fat bike rant/Cross race fun

You ever been out and you see the annoying group of teenagers. You know, the ones that are simply giddy that they are all out together without adult supervision. Everything they do is met with a group reaction that just seems so over the top. They can't just relax, they are ready to burst at the seams with excitement for simply the reason that they are not being watched. Times like those remind me of Barry Sanders; the man did not spike the ball or show boat his TD's. The philosophy is that instead of jumping around acting a fool, he acted like he had been there before.

And that is how I see so, so, so many people riding fat bikes for the first time; teenagers. Yes they are fun. Yes they are cool. So are lots of bikes. Fat bikes serve their purpose and do it well. Suddenly people are blown away that they can be ridden off road, or on the road, or wherever else. Really? Did they think the bikes are like cross country skis and only able to effectively work on snow?

I don't know about them, but when I got my 907 (shameless plug) I realized the effect 4" wide tires would have in conditions other than snow, and I appreciate how they work. I guess I just had the Barry Sanders approach.

CX Race Fun
Tomorrow I enter my third cx race of the year. I am rolling a bad mama jamma Trek Cronus CX and thought it needed race action before the hills of Red Wing next spring.

My first race went better than expected. Having not seen a CX start line in four years I wondered if the popularity had increased the speeds, indeed they had. I am considered a Cat.3 so that is where I found myself at the "Cross at the Y" a few weeks back. My only goal of making the front selection worked well for most of the first 2 laps until a flat stopped me right after moving into the top 5 of that front group. We had just passed the pit containing neutral wheel hand ups, so I rode the entire lap with a flat front tire that did not allow any type of bike leaning lest you crash. After a wheel hand up I worked my tail off to go from dead last to finish 3 minutes back of first (22 of 36 racers). I figured it is not out of hand to guess I lost close to 3 minutes on my nervous trip around the course, so that was a positive.

I'll recap the 2nd race later. For now here watch this video by Brady Prenzlow of the race. You can see yours truly making the pass at 6:42, and then flatting on the sandpit edging at 7:06. I guess I should have ran the pit like most did. Proving I am not very smart; I continued to ride instead of run the pit the rest of the race.