Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Last chance

Went out tonight for a ride before the predicted snow storm tomorrow. I took the mariachi, and did my usual loop from home.  While tracking the ride on strava I posted a 2nd best time tonight for a 1.2 mile stretch of gravel road, I was pretty pumped about that.  The first best time was only 12 seconds better and was on my road bike with help from the wind, so I was really excited to get within the same time zone on the mountain bike.

Christina gave me an early Christmas present today, a nice set of bib tights for cold weather riding.  I am thinking of trying them out tomorrow during the middle of the snow storm, or Friday night.  Then a ride Saturday morning with the wheel werks crew.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Still Riding...

Just wanted to share some pictures from riding this week. After work in the dark usually, but Sunday I left work at 1pm and got to ride in the daylight.  Put 35 miles in on the mariachi down the kettle moraine area roads. I didn't plan a route but wanted to hit a couple strava segments, then just wing it from there. If you follow that link you can view the route, and follow me if you would like. I just started using strava again in the last couple weeks.
This is the elevation plot from a run I did Friday night, I ran up and down the sledding hill at the park.  I laughed when I saw it because it looks like I was running across a saw blade.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cold, Wet, Miserable and Perfect

I wasn't the only goofball out in the cold rain, that black dot in the lake is a couple dedicated fisherman.

I checked the weather before I left and for some reason I didn't believe the 90% chance of rain/snow mix.  Either I was being optimistic and hoping for the 10% chance of clear skies or I just didn't want to wear rain gear.  Either way I was under dressed.  I made it to Lake Geneva pretty dry, just a wet butt from the rear tire spray, then it switched from light drizzle to a pretty good rain. I was warm enough through the hilly sections on Snake Rd.  The puddles inside my shoes were warmed by my feet so it wasn't to bad.  Then its mostly down hill to Williams Bay and thats when it got cold.  I was soaked through in 35 degree weather and riding down hill at 25ish mph.  

I wanted so badly to call Christina and have her pick me up.  I was imagining loading the bike in the back and turning the heat in the truck on full blast.  I couldn't do it though, I just kept riding.  I'm glad I did because it felt good to make it home on my own. As Jay would say, its time to "Harden Up."  Today showed me I need to learn to dress better, and start putting more miles in.

This weather is for the ducks!

I'm still contemplating bikes for Trans Iowa. It feels like I'm working pretty hard on the mariachi, and I would like drop bars.  I can put drop bars on the mariachi, but then I'd also like a rigid fork.  Which can be done as well but as long as I'm doing that my brakes are way overkill for gravel riding.  And the list goes on and on.  Its a mountain bike and I love it in the woods which is where it belongs.  So now I'm thinking cyclocross bike, and there have been some pretty nice used bikes going on ebay.  There is a surly cross check with fenders right now that has my eye but I think the seller is a little high on his price.  Thankfully I still have time to think about it.

A nice smooth gravel road outside Harvard

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Sunset Ride

Over looking Harvard, From the top of the sled hill
I am still wishing for more daylight hours, but enjoying the abnormally warm weather we are having.  Thanks global warming!  Just keeping a steady ride schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday.  I will probably keep that going till the Jan-Feb then start ramping it up for TI. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kettle Moraine After Work


   I don't why it took me three weeks to take advantage of work moving so close to kettle moraine, but I finally rode over after work today.  It took less than 30 minutes to ride over, and if I wanted to I could have driven it in 10 minutes.  Its a nice road going over there too, busy enough that no one lets their dogs roam free, and the speed limit is 45 so cars aren't blowing by.  It sure is nice being so close to 30 miles of single track, I know where I will be spending most of my summer nights.

This view is what I was trying to get to before sunset, the picture really doesn't show how nice it is.  I'm surprised I didn't run into anyone else out there doing the same thing, but I suppose it is pretty far from any parking lots so maybe walking or riding back in the dark isn't for everyone.

I'm getting more used to riding at night, it's tougher than I thought.  Especially when you combine riding at night and in the cold.  Tonight was a really nice ride though, 42 degrees was nice, and riding through the woods is better than the road in my opinion.  The hardest part for me to ride at night is that there is nothing to look at, all I've got is this little beam of light in front of me and lots of pedaling. 

Tuesday night was tough and cold.  My shifters weren't working because I lubed them with too thick of a lube and they get gummed up when its cold.  I could shift up but not down, so I ended up single speeding it.  Then my water bottles froze. When I got back I noticed my time was remarkably slow.  Having such a good night with 2.5 hours of riding tonight really made up for it.  Don't get me wrong, the Tuesday was still fun, it was just not as fun as some rides.

I'm going to put some miles in this Sunday, nothing crazy just a good amount.  Depends what bike I ride, but it will probably be 4 hours either way. Let me know if you'd like to join.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

         Trans Iowa is still 5 months away but I am already enjoying the endless thoughts of bike setup, game plan, and what to pack. I have a feeling that I will think of all these things all the way till I am at the starting line and going through my frame bag to make sure I have everything. I put some miles on the Mariachi this weekend, not as many as I had planned, but a good amount.  I like the way it rides, it is familiar and comfortable, but tall as a road bike.  I feel like a brick wall when I am heading into the wind, I also wish i had drop bars simply for more hand positions.  I am going to try flipping the handlebar stem to lower my upper body and see if I am still comfortable with that.

   As I said before I was visiting family in southern IL this weekend, and they live in a very hilly area. It is near the "little grand canyon" and has many scenic over looks and plenty of heart pounding climbs.  I was taking it pretty easy on my rides this weekend because family time seemed to be higher on the important list, but still it was in the back of my mind the whole time.

 A couple photos from the Shawnee National Forest near Alto Pass, IL.  Just head down boat dock road, and the trail is on your left. There is no sign, but it is listed as a "multi use trail" so watch for horses and hunters.  Its a very nice trail, the rocks had me wishing I left my regular 29ers on.

Headed back.
Either this farmer like to color match his horses and cows, or they are related somehow.

I wish we had bike paths like this at home.

This is what kids do for fun when they skip Sunday School. Religious Grafity.  I also recorded a short video on some of the trails of the shawnee forest, but for some reason it won't upload.  I will work on that and hopefully post the video. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I'm down southern IL visiting family this weekend, and getting some good riding in. I will post some pictures and videos when I get home to my computer. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Work moved to whitewater, wi, so my commute got about 15 miles longer. I rode it for the first time today and it took longer than I expected. I'm going to try a couple different routes and see how it goes. This mornings route was pretty straight and boring but had a couple decent climbs. This evening I took more back  roads, it was a few miles longer but much better. It was a nice day to ride being so warm in the morning, and not much wind.  One of the disadvantages of riding through dairy land is the smell! That dairy air took my breath away on the ride home.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm on the roster for TransIowa, now the riding and planning begin.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

     Had a good easy 40 ish miles with Jay and Mike this morning, done by lunch time. Then came home butchered a deer, cleaned the garage and put skinny tires on the Mariachi.

The Mariachi looks a little strange with the skinny tires, but it rides nicely. It seems tall, and I notice the fork sucking up a little power on acceleration, even locked out. I am going to ride this on my Thanksgiving night 200 miler, so I will get a good opinion of it on that ride.  I stole the tires off my wife's bike, so don't tell her.  She has only ridden it a couple times this year so she shouldn't notice for a little while at least.

After that her and I made a home made pizza for dinner. Christina makes the crust in her bread maker, so I can't tell you how that goes but the rest is pretty easy. 

Tomato Sauce 

Wild Button mushrooms that we picked this fall. 

Cheese, peppers, sausage


Then Yum... we didn't have any italian sausage so we used breakfast sausage, that tasted a little funky.  It was good though. 

Trans Iowa rookie registration starts tomorrow, hopefully UPS gets my postcard there first.  I wasn't sure I wanted to commit the time required for the race, but sent the card anyway. Now that its time to find out if I am on the roster I'm really anxious and hoping to get started training for it.

I'll post as soon as I find out.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

        I sent my postcard out for Trans Iowa V.9 yesterday. I was planning on being creative with it, but instead just grabbed a random one from the closet.
So the Florida postcard got sent to Iowa to sign up for a 320 mile bike race. It would be interesting to see all the different post cards that guitar ted gets while people are signing up for this race.

         I got some Gore Shoe Covers from Wheel Werks Bikes they are really nice. I didn't even notice how uncomfortable my cold feet were until I got these shoe covers. It really makes riding in cold weather a lot better.

        Going to do some riding tomorrow, then Thanksgiving night I have a route planned from Decatur, IL to Alto Pass, IL. 200 miles starting around 9pm. I'll post about it afterward.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New bike?

I am faced with two wants. I don't really "need" either of these beautiful bikes but man would they both be a joy to own. My fleet of bikes currently consists of a hardtail 29er mountain bike, a dated full suspension 26er, and a very basic but sturdy road bike.

The 29er is a Salsa Mariachi that I just built up this year and I am very happy with but I am looking to replace one of the other two bikes. In a perfect world I would replace them both, but the bank account disagrees with that idea.

The road bike does the job but the Salsa Vaya would be suit me much better with its ride any road anytime. The 23 mm tires on my current road bike don't do well on gravel, I may be able to get 32 mm on it but even then its just a basic road bike with odd tires. I am hoping to do Trans Iowa next year, and the vaya looks ready to rip. I would change a couple small things but its basically prime time in my eyes for a race like that. If I don't get a gravel bike I would use my mariachi, put skinny tires on it, and lock out the fork. Which would probably work great but things like a drop bar for different hand positions would be nice. Plus I am not sure I want to destroy my Mariachi in 330 miles of gravel before the WEMS races.

Then there is the Fat Bike. I don't think they can be called a fad anymore, because they are becoming hugely popular and are definitely here to stay. Whenever I see one I think man I would like to try one of those. They just look fun. They are quick even with the big tires, I got beat by one at the opening round of WEMS last year.  The thing I find most appealing is you can ride anywhere, down the middle of a railroad, through the snow, in the deepest mud, or make trails in the tallest weeds.  I know that if I got the Mukluk I would spend a lot of time on it this winter, and be rewarded with stronger legs in the spring. I just don't know if I would spend as much time on it as I would the Vaya gravel bike.

The thing that doesn't help matters at all is that both bikes have color schemes that I am crazy about. The tan sidewalls on the tires of the Vaya look awesome, and the flat green with pine trees on the Mukluk are right up my alley. The Mukluk looks like it wants to be my hunting partner, if I could find a way to mount my bow and arrow on it would take it hunting everyday. The Vaya looks ready for some LONG rides, the kind of rides that I day dream about at work all day.

Decisions, Decisions.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Looking for Gravel Near Home

          The task for today was simple, establish a gravel loop near home to use for training rides.  I still have more scouting to do but I did find some nice roads. The one in the photo above is probably my favorite unfortunately its pretty short and could possibly lead to a trespassing ticket. I will include it in the loop and use the old "its easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."
Up ahead folks is the only hill in McHenry County, if you take a left at the next road you will find the highest point in McHenry County at the High Point Conservation Area, its only about 20 ft higher than the lowest point in Mchenry County. Welcome to flatland!

Part of my gravel searching adventure took me through one of the areas that I hunt for deer. I decided to use it as a short cut and it was worth it. I saw a few deer while on the deer path, but no bucks, which is how this hunting season has gone so far. It was a good little section of riding though.

I also came across this bush that is all torn up by a buck either shedding his velvet or trying to attract girls to mate with in a couple weeks. I think this is the definition of bushwhacking.

I was pretty excited when I rode this road, I have driven past it but never realized it goes pretty far. Its gravelish, it is made up of crushed black top and is pretty rough. The direction that I was riding put me heading directly into the wind so it made for a good tough section of road. The road is pretty rough, but I could cruise down the two lane in the middle pretty easy.

This gravel road was so packed down it may as well have been black top. I wouldn't hesitate to bring my road bike down it.  It is real gravel though so it will probably be included in the loop.

I finished the day off with New Glarus Brewing Co.'s Stag Horn Octoberfest. Octoberfest beers are something that I look forward to every fall.