Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A note from Ari (My Trans Iowa Report)

I have been struggling with writing a blog post regarding my Trans Iowa this year. I basically just wanted to not think about it and move on. My buddy Ari sent an email one night that caught me while I had a pretty good buzz going and he asked how my ride went. So I babbled on and on about it...

Hey ari, 

Thanks for reaching out. I too had a rough race. I had a good weekend though, I think it is good for my boys to get out and travel. 

As for my race, I honestly don't know what happened. I had it made, 5 hours ahead of the cut off at the second check point and all I had to do was coast in. But there was no coasting. The sun shine and tail winds all day turned to headwinds, a flat tire, and riding alone. 

Around 5pm Saturday I started climbing the hills, no one else in my group wanted to push on the climbs so I went alone. I formed a pretty large gap and skipped a Casey's. For about an hour I rode alone hoping the winds would die down, but they didn't. I saw another long stretch of headwinds on the cue sheet and decided to stop and wait for the group. They seemed happy to have me back but since I dropped them I could no longer be trusted. So I rode with them for another hour or so and got a flat. 

The group left, not surprisingly because the memory of me leaving them was still fresh in their minds. Besides it was my problem anyway. I fixed it and got back on the road. I still felt good, in fact really good for having ridden 200 miles at this point. My head was in a bad place though. I was pretty negative about it. 

Sunset came and I got caught by a single speeder. He was riding alone as well and left me pretty easily. We hit a tricky b road, finally, after skipping them all day long. I love B roads, I get bored riding along on easy stuff.

So that made me happy and carried me till about 10pm when I ran out of water. I pulled a small apple pie from my jersey pocket and attempted to eat it while still riding. When I opened it the pie sprung from the tin pie pan and landed on the gravel. This upset me very much. I don't know why I got so upset, almost childish. I carried that pie for at least 100 miles and now it was ruined. Again my head was not in the right spot. 

Then of course being out of food and water I began to not feel very good. I decided to try and sleep. I had plenty of time so I figured it would probably help. On the side of a long gravel hill I used the ditch as a recliner and tried to sleep. I was pretty happy to be where I was at that point, even not feeling well, the moon was big, the air was not too cold and everything was quiet. I fell asleep but I don't know for how long and I would guess that as soon as I fell asleep I awoke again. I was a little freaked out that I had slept too long, even though I hadn't slept at all, and started riding again.

I rode to about 260 miles into the race, which I now know was only 5 miles to the next gas station. It really didn't matter as I couldn't go any further. Just before midnight I called Christina.

Unfortunately this did not bring immediate relief, I tried to give her my location but my cell service was poor and couldn't tell exactly where I was. I told her I would head toward Marshalltown. I picked that direction because it was downhill. That down hill ended and there was no god damn way I was going any further. 

I called her again and said I will be next to the stop sign at 29th and parker? I'm guessing on the names of roads. "If you find me that's great, otherwise come back tomorrow. I'll be by the stop sign." I was done, done thinking, done moving, done navigating. Laying in that ditch was 100 times more comfortable than riding my bike.

That was it, she got lost a couple times and started crying, because her cell reception was limited as well. Eventually she found me and we went back to the comfort of civilization.

This time hurt me deep. At this point I don't see myself doing any endurance racing again. Especially overnight events. To go from feeling so good and then feeling so bad was really hard. 

Again thank you for reaching out to me, I have been struggling with what to say about the ride and it feels good to talk about it. I planned on just pretending it never happened. For now I will be changing my plans. Next weekend I will be racing the wisconsin endurance mountain bike series in the 3 hour division instead of the 10 hour. 

Life is good. I know that, because my biggest suffering is on a bike.


B Road

And thats how iowa gravel is made

Friday afternoon pre-ride

The B road I wasn't supposed to take

It got dusty

And windy

My dudes

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Trans Iowa Training

I think the best part of Trans Iowa is the training rides. No other race motivates me to get out and waste entire weekends on the bike. I toured Southern Wisconsin last weekend, looking for the biggest hills, while doing a couple back to back 100 milers. It was awesome.

Monday, March 14, 2016

2016 Land Run 100 Race Report

Last fall, my buddy Mike told me to check out the Land Run. At the time it just seemed like a normal 100 mile gravel race, but I had never ridden in Oklahoma before so I said “sure let’s do it.” I maintained that same carefree attitude all the way till race day. I simply thought it will not be as bad as some of the other races I have done.

We drove out overnight and arrived Friday morning. We went into town to check out the bike shop and waste some time. The shop was not open yet, but Bobby the race Director was outside the shop talking to a couple on bicycles. We said hello and kept walking, till Bobby recognized Mike’s “gravel jesus” shirt. “hey! You guys know Jay? Where are you from?” we instantly noticed that Bobby had a crazy amount of energy. He kept that excited energy all weekend long. He treated every person like they were the most important person in the race, and was so happy to see everyone.

The infamous Bonk King

Mike and I were exhausted and bickering like an old married couple. So we went back to the hotel to get our room. Unfortunately it wasn’t ready yet. So we slept in the parking lot. We woke up, went to lunch and finally our room was ready. I went up and took a nap again.

There was a group ride / pre ride scheduled for 3pm so we headed back into town on our bikes to check that out. The gravel was dusty and fast, confirming my pipe dream that Saturday was going to be easy.

Overnight we got some rain, but by the time we woke up the parking lot was nearly dry so I figured the gravel would soak it up no problem. I had my entire day of food planned out and organized. Mike laughed at me for it, grabbed his 20lb bag of candy and headed down town for a breakfast burrito.

Everything I ate for the Day

It was warm and humid at the start, I was glad for that because I hate having to wear a jacket for the first half hour then have to carry it around the rest of the day. We were led out by a police officer in a suburban, who was blaring “Eye of the Tiger” through his megaphone. No joke.

The gravel started off in good shape, a little mushy but not bad. I was in the lead pack and we were cruising along pretty quickly. We were living it up for this first 15 miles or so till we came to the first sloppy up hill. I wanted to stay with the fast guys so I fought against the mud and hurt a little more than I wanted, but it worked. A small group was able to break away, that lasted for a few more miles till we hit the bottom of a hill and tried to power through again. The heavy sticky mud threw my chain off and I was buried. When my chain came off I tried pushing my bike only to have the mud grow around my tires and clog up everything to the point where the tires would not turn anymore. My pipe dream was over.

It took me a second to assess the situation. It was almost as if my head was shifting gears from this will be easy mode to don’t break your bike mode. I witnessed 4 derailleurs get sucked into the spokes of other riders bikes, and saw several other riders already on the side of the trail with same problem. I found a stick and cleaned my bike enough so it wasn’t as heavy and lifted it on my shoulder.

I jogged as much as I could, but kept a close eye on my heart rate to make sure I wasn’t over doing it. All together I would guess I carried my bike for about 2 hours. After that the roads would switch between good and bad until the 50 mile check point.

I grabbed my fresh bottles and left. I saw a hose was available to clean gears, but I didn’t want to waste any time. I regret that decision, because by the end of the race my bike sounded like it had a knocking motor.

Just after the checkpoint I met up with a guy from Colorado, his name was Mark. Before the checkpoint they said I was in 17th, but Mark and I were able to work together really well and we were picking guys off pretty steady. In fact for the last 50 miles of the race we did not get passed. By this point in the day the gravel was drying out and the only problem we had was wind, but since Mark and I were sharing the effort, wind turned into an advantage. Toward the end of race, Mark started taking longer and longer pulls. I was having a hard time staying on him then he finally dropped me. Good ride Mark.

I rolled in behind Mark for 8th overall. To say I was pretty pumped would be an understatement. I was really happy with how the day went. My bike held together, I stayed hydrated, and I was able to push hard all day. I got cleaned up and got a “Big Pig”(pulled pork sandwich) from the big green truck along with a Land Run Ale and waited for Mike to roll in.

He came in exhausted, but finished and seemed pleased. His main concern was not pedaling the bike anymore and getting some food. Speaking of food, we ate like kings on this trip. First we stopped at The World’s Largest Truck Stop, which was not that great. Then we ate breakfast at a small diner in Perry, Oklahoma. Lunch was Mexican food, dinner was from the green truck(so good I went back on Satuday). Jack in the box, where Mike introduced me to deep fried tacos. Then finally on the way home we stopped at Trans Iowa favorite Tacopocalypse.

Would I recommend this event to a friend? Damn Right I would!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cannondale SuperX for Gravel

I have about 400 miles on the new bike now, and I will admit a high end cyclocross bike is probably not the ideal gravel bike. I mean most bike companies are coming out with bikes designed for gravel roads and long distances. 

The Cannondale SuperX Himod had everything I wanted though, light weight, tire, 1x, disc brakes, and skewers. Everyone is going to thru axle now which makes my current wheels incompatible with those bikes. Someday I will have to switch to thru axle but not for awhile after this thing.

First off everyone says how stiff cross bikes are, that is simply not true with this bike. It is super smooth. The tiny seat stays flex over square edge bumps really nicely. When I first got the bike I thought my tire pressure was too low, but that was not the case.

Under hard acceleration the bike feels like it leaps with each pedal stroke. I don't know if this feeling is caused by the light weight or the efficient drive train or what, but it really feels like I get more horsepower to the ground than with other bikes.

Speaking of weight the 56cm version that I got came in at 16.9 lbs without pedals and with tubes. I have since put on tubeless gravel tires and a frame bag packed with stuff. I am still under 24 lbs with enough food and water for 100 miles, a jacket, tools, extra tube, pump, lights, and garmin.

I don't like that Cannondale put a short cage derailluer on the bike, this limits the size of cassette I can run. It comes equipped with a 11-28 cassette and a 40 tooth chainring, which is fine for just about everything but I am sure 200 miles into Trans Iowa I will be wishing for an easier gear. I am hoping I can sneak a 11-32 cassette in there without any issues.

Another issue is that tire clearance in the rear is limited. It looks like a 35mm is the largest I can get back there, but up front I have a 40mm and plenty of clearance.

This is a 33mm rear and you can see its tight, but a skinny 35mm should fit.

I have ridden this bike on everything from road to single track, and I am consistently impressed with how well it performs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hugh Jass #5 report

Last weekend I went to the 5th race in the Hugh Jass Fat bike series, at Minooka park in Waukesha, WI. I have found that in these short races bike setup is crucial. So I made sure to get up there early and see what the snow was like. 

Tire choice and tire pressure are so important. Too much air and your sliding out of corners, to little and you are wasting energy. The type of snow makes for constant worry on what to run. 

Leading up to this race we had some warm days, which thawed the top layers of snow and overnight that froze into a sheet of ice on top. So during practice I was thankful I decided to run studs. Once the sun came out during the race though everything started to turn to mush and by the last lap I would have probably been better off with my regular tire with more knobs for the slush. Its always a toss up, but it worked out for me anyway as I ended up taking the third spot on the podium.

Sunday morning I got out in the warmer than average temps for a short ride. I was lucky enough to find a koozie on the road. Usually road treasures aren't to exciting but I was pretty pumped about this one!

I hope everyone had a great weekend as well. 


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hugh Jass race 4

Here is a video from the 4th race of the HughJass Fatbike series, if you look close you will see my WheelWerks Jersey going through pretty often. I suffered a little in this race, to a 7th place finish. The course was pretty slick and without studs I had a hard time. Studs are ordered and should be on the bike soon. Looking forward to the next round.