Here are a few more photos from our trip up north last weekend for the Chequamegon 100(Race report HERE). We had a great weekend, Evan said a couple times “daddy I wanna live here.” I don’t think he realizes that summer begins in June and ends in July up there, but we all enjoyed our time away.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
The Chequamegon 100 – 100 mile single track mountain bike race, in Northern Wisconsin in the Chequamegon National Forest. The course does not use the same trail twice, it is one giant 100 mile loop starting in Cable going east to Lake Namekagon , then south to Hayward and back north to Cable. All the money from the registration goes back to the trails.
I showed up early to the pre-race meeting on Friday and went for a ride. I had never ridden the area before and wanted to see what it was like. I was running a 32:17 on the single speed, which is what I always run, but I heard a few people were running much lower. After much thought I decided to switch to 32:18, and was very thankful that I did.
The trails on Friday were perfect, but rain was in the forecast overnight and when I woke up in the morning I was pretty pumped to see that it hadn’t rained. We were staying about an hour away from the race, so Christina and I had to get up pretty early to get the kids up and moving. About 15 minutes before the start it started raining. The rain would continue until 6 hours into the race.
The start of the race is a roughly 3 mile gravel road to the single track. This is great for guys on single speeds (sarcasm… as in “real fucking great”). The trails were actually in really good shape at this point, muddy but “rideable.” The grime was quickly eating away brake pads and wearing out chains all over.
The forest roads that we used to connect sections of trail were awful, like quicksand. The roads were so soft you could count the number of riders ahead of you with the ruts they left behind. Getting back on the single track was so nice.
About 40 miles in, I made it to the HWY OO trail head where I planned to meet up with Christina in case I needed anything. I quickly filled my camel pack and grabbed an extra chain, some brake pads, and tools out of the tool box. At this point the trails had standing water and I knew it was going to be a “take care of the bike” kind of day. I wasn’t worried about the weight from the tools and chain; I just wanted to make sure I could keep the bike running.
20 more miles of single track and we were in the Hayward area, where the drop bags were placed. This seemed to be the deciding point for most people. Many had already dropped and I saw others loading up bikes in cars here. Which is a bummer because the trails only got better from here, I feel like if you made it to the Hayward checkpoint @ 62 miles, you could have finished. I distinctly remember the rain stopping and the sun peeking out at 5 hours and 56 minutes on the timer, and from that point the trails started to dry and get good.
I left the checkpoint with another rider and we rode the forest roads together for a while. He was about 20 yards ahead of me when he slammed on his brakes and hollered “I just saw a bear cross the road!” “Do you think it’s safe to ride through?” I said “well, you have gears so he will eat me first!” and we rode on. From this point I kinda don’t remember much of the race, I was hurting and riding alone so I just rode.
About 5 miles from the finish line Rick Blackford and Mike Curtes caught me. They were also on single speeds, so we hop out of the woods for the last few miles of black top back to town. We were spinning our brains out doing 19 mph, I couldn’t stop thinking “man I wish I would have left the 17 tooth on there!” We each took turns leading, but Rick wanted it the most and inched away from Mike and I.
|Single Speed Sprint by Chris Schotz|
I ended up 14th overall in 9 hours and 52 minutes, with half the field dropping out. I went through three sets of brake pads, but the rest of the bike had no issues. A tough race in an awesome area, I really hope to get picked again in the lottery for next year.
|Frame up restoration|
Sunday, May 24, 2015
When I went up to Almanzo last week, Kurt showed me his camera mount. It makes it so I can take my regular camera and mount it to the handle bar. Its pretty sweet, works as advertised, and wasn't very expensive. It leaves the camera pretty exposed to damage in the event of a crash though.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Friday night I left straight from work to meet up with Mike and Kurt, they were kind enough to let me borrow a spot on their hotel room floor for the night. Once I arrived we just hung out, discussed plans, life, and watched some goofy movies Kurt had.
We woke up Saturday, got some breakfast and watched the weather. It rained a bit before the start, which made for some gravel splatter everywhere.
I got in a large group of strong riders and we were hitting it pretty hard. All different genres of bikers were represented in the group. The roadies were trying to get everyone to rotate and work together, but the group was too large to get everyone on the same page. The cross and mountain bike riders attacked the down hills, making the roadies shake their heads in discomfort. We made it to Preston in just over two hours. I hung onto the group till mile 60, when a few of the guys started to turn it up.
I had zero interest in bonking that day so I backed off and held a steady pace for a while. I stopped at the 3rd checkpoint for a banana and a beer, and then cruised on to mile 90. This is where I got bored of the steady pace and decided to push really hard for the finish.
I passed a bunch of guys in that last ten miles, but I didn’t stick around to see the results. I didn’t plan on staying the night again so I wanted to get on my way.
I stopped at A+W for a burger and Root Beer float which tasted like heaven and vanished quickly, and I hit the road.
Another great trip to Minnesota – David S
Update 5/19/15 - results are in, 55th of 543 finishers @ 6 hours 12 minutes.
Update 5/19/15 - results are in, 55th of 543 finishers @ 6 hours 12 minutes.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
|My 330 mile setup|
On the drive out to Iowa we had some pretty bad rainstorms, and I was pretty concerned about my setup as far as clothing goes. 15 miles from Grinnell I decided to pull over and ride to town while Christina drove, this way I could check out my rain gear in the rain and see how the gravel was holding up.
Turns out the roads were bad, really bad in fact. Bad enough that I really didn’t feel like riding them anymore, and decided to hop on the black top instead. About 30 yards into the black top, while all the mud was flying off the tires, something went wrong with my drivetrain. The chain got sucked into the spokes, causing a predictable trend of bad things. Ruined drive side spokes, pretzeled chain, bent hanger, and pieces of derailleur were all that was left. So I called Christina told her to cancel the hotel and come get me, she said she would come get me and we can decide about the hotel later. She knows I get really antsy in the time before races, especially this one, so she didn’t take my upset throw in the towel attitude too seriously.
|My Pouty Face|
While waiting for my ride, I quickly realized how much I underestimated the cold. 38 degrees and rain is no joke. I wish I hadn’t broken all those parts, but I am still thankful I went for that little ride; it showed me I needed to pack some extra layers for the race. I hid from the wind behind a hay bale.
We drove straight to the bike shop and hoped for the best, and thankfully Bikes to You was able to save my day. The All City does not have a replaceable dropout so I was worried we wouldn’t be able to bend it back without breaking it, but everything worked out. He straightened the hanger, put on a new chain and derailleur, and trued the wheel. I will still need to get those spokes replaced, but at least I was back on the road. I would also like to mention that he set everything in the stand and I didn’t have to make a single adjustment since. Now that’s impressive.
|Photo from http://bikestoyou.com/|
With that all figured out, it was time to head to the Meat Up and get signed in. We met up with Chris Schotz and Polly for dinner. It is nice to gather everyone up like that so we can all hang out in a somewhat relaxed setting, even though none of us are really relaxed. Especially when we saw what was forecasted in the weather. After the pre-race meeting we headed back to the hotel to get everything settled for the next morning.
Usually I don’t have a problem sleeping before races, but hearing the rain coming down made for a pretty restless night. I was so relieved to open the window in the morning and see the parking lot dry. Forecast said 35% chance of rain at 5am, so at least we would have a dry start. The wind was coming from the East and since we had been given our cue sheets (directions) the night before, we knew the first 50 miles would be primarily head winds.
We left town with a lead off from Guitar Ted in his truck, once we hit the gravel it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We formed a lead group that was about 15 guys, then that group started to get smaller as guys dropped off. It started to rain a bit so on one of the short tail wind sections I cranked it up and got out front a ways, then pulled over to put on my jacket. I got back in with group, roughly 5 guys at this point, and we headed into the wind and rain for a particularly hard long stretch. We could see lightning around us and at that point I basically shut the brain off and just went with it. It was a pretty horrible experience but there was nothing to do about it other than just go.
We stayed as a group for the whole stretch, but once we turned right and had a cross wind, the group fell apart completely. That was about mile 25; from there it was some hills, rain, wind, and quickly deteriorating roads.
|Photo by Jason Boucher|
I never bothered to find out what time the cutoffs were for each checkpoint, because honestly I never thought I would need to know. I never would have guessed that I wouldn’t make it to the first checkpoint in time. I assumed that if I maintained better than a 10 mph average, I would be fine. I was wrong; to get to checkpoint 1 on time I would need a 12 mph average. I am sure you are thinking “you couldn’t keep a 12 mph average? What kinda bike rider are you?” The truth is though that on the good roads I could do 12-14 mph into the wind, but on the bad roads I had to walk. Spend an hour walking at 2 mph and all of the sudden you are not averaging a very good speed anymore. Riding on the bad roads was even slower than walking, the mud packs on so thick that your tire just stops turning.
|Photo by Jason Boucher|
I got to the checkpoint with better than a 10 mph average, but it was not enough. I was cut off, along with every other rider, except for one. The one rider that made it through checkpoint 1 continued on toward checkpoint 2, but pulled the plug later in the day when he realized he would not make it in time. No finishers and the shortest Trans Iowa to date.
So at least I am in shape for the rest of the season!
Thursday, April 16, 2015
|Photo by Fred Johnson|
So after riding Ragnarok up in Minnesota, I drove straight home. I went to bed, woke up early, and drove out to Milledgeville, IL for the Grumpy Grind. It is another gravel race, 80 miles in the Northwest of the state. The hills were much smaller than Minnesota, which was nice, but the wind was a big factor.
Out to the check point at mile 37 we were primarily against the wind. I found that with the single speed geared pretty low, it was not too bad. I was able to get in a group and grind, but once we turned and had a tailwind the group left me. My top speed on a flat was 20 mph, if I were on a bike with shifters I would have clicked up and cruised back in at 30 mph no problem. That was not the case though, so I just cruised along for a couple hours with a strong tailwind and an easy ride.
Then we turned back into the wind for the last 15 miles or so, luckily the hills got bigger as well toward the end and blocked some wind.
The Grumpy Grind is a very well put on event, with many volunteers. I was really impressed with how well the race was ran. The que sheets were the most accurate I have ever used, typically I take a wrong turn and mess up my mileage, but not that day. The pulled pork was an awesome treat at the end!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
"Don't dress warm, there are lots of hills."
Thats what I heard at sign in on Friday night. I grabbed a beer from the Red Wing Brewery, which was so nice. I hung out for a little while then headed to a "real" grocery store. You know, the ones that aren't walmart and have 3 checking lanes with only one person working. I was so excited I had to text someone to tell them I was at a "real" grocery store!
The race went really well, except for the flat tire at mile 10. Oh and taking a wrong turn at mile 20. Other than that I killed it!
When I finished Ragnarok, I tried to remember a tougher race of 105 miles. I honestly can't think of one. Sure some 12 hour single track mountain bike races are tougher, but those are short laps over and over. I am talking over 100 miles of never seen before roads and trails. There are races like Trans Iowa that are tougher because of distance and time. As far as linking together 100 miles of the toughest terrain possible, I believe Ragnarok takes the cake.
It was a fantastic spring training ride, I wish I could ride those hills on a regular basis. It was windy and I hate wind, but I could hardly notice the wind with the protection of the hills.
It is Wednesday now, and I am really missing Minnesota. I cannot wait to revisit in May for Almanzo.