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.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hugh Jass Fatbike Series Race #3

Photo from

Over 100 people showed up to race the third round of the Hugh Jass Fatbike series. We finally got some snow to race to make it feel like a real fat bike race. I had never ridden the Alpha trails before, but they are worth checking out if you are in the area. We did 5 laps of the 3 mile loop, starting with a bomb run down the sledding hill, turn and come right back up to separate the field a bit.

Photo from

There is a 3 way points battle for the series going on between Brad, Dave, and myself. I had been sick the week heading up to the race so I wasn't sure how things would go. It was my lucky day though, as we went into the first corner Brad and Dave got tangled up. Not bad enough to put anyone on the ground, but enough to lose momentum and a few positions. This allowed me to sneak away behind WORS pro Cole Haus and Cat 1 racer Randy Rollins.

They both took off and left me pretty easily. So my first lap was pretty easy, then on the second lap we got into lapped traffic. The Alpha trails are tight so passing is impossible unless the rider pulls to the side. This involved a lot of communication and patience but during a race patience is not always something I have a lot of.

Brad and Dave were able to move through the traffic better than I was and on the last lap were able to work right onto me. I turned it down a bit to recover knowing they wouldn't be able to pass on the single track. It would all come down to the last sprint up the sledding hill.

I gave it everything and it hurt pretty bad, but I was able to hold them off. That is the way it has worked out every race so far. None of us has won a race yet, but we always finish together and consistently in the top 5. It makes for a fun and exciting series.

Photo from

My dad has been doing the series as well, and seems to be really enjoying himself, he finished 59th of 96 in the open men class. The promoters put on an event that is fun for all levels of skill and everyone is there to have a good time.

Next race is January 16th in Glendale, WI. Hope to see you there!