Sunday, December 29, 2013

Riding the Wintertide

No doubt about it, riding in the winter is tough.  I am still not that excited about my face mask freezing to my face (kinda like the kid that stuck his tongue on the frozen metal pole), or my bike parts getting destroyed by corrosion.  Even with that, winter is the prettiest time of year to ride.

The snowy conditions make for some pretty cool pictures, even though its the same cell phone camera I used in the Summer.  I can tell you though, it looks way better in person.

There are a few things that I have found to make it easier to get out in the cold.  I am no expert winter rider that is for sure, but I have picked up a couple ideas from other riders along the way.

#1.  Single speed is warm.  Slower speeds and harder work result in higher temps inside the jacket.

#2 Good gloves.  Jay gave me some Gore gloves this year that are top notch.  I have ridden in -22 windchill and the hands were not my issue.  (I was more worried about my eyes freezing shut)

#3. Good shoes.  This is my weakness and the number 1 reason I return to warmth early.

#4. Don't worry about how far or how long you make it.  A certain amount of suffering is good, but don't be hard on yourself if you are just to cold to keep going.  At least your out there doing it.

Winter riding... it's worth the pain.

Except for today, I'll be on the indoor trainer.  Its to windy. Ha!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Riding around, and next years plans

I noticed the other day that I have 375 miles to go and I'll have 5000 miles on the bike this year.  375 miles in half a month wouldn't be bad, except its frigid outside!  So I have just been taking little trips around the house in the snow.  Nothing far or crazy, just ride till I'm cold and turn around.

I have started planning for next year...

Possible Leadville Qualifier

Of course some of the races are based on lottery for registration so its not for sure, but thats my current plan.  If I don't get into Ragnarok I may consider the Barry Roubaix or a training trip to Iowa.

Looking forward to next year.

Keep it fun, 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Single speed conversion

I took the gears off the Salsa Mariachi and replaced them with one Surly cog and a spacer kit I made at work.  The spacer kit was pretty simple, 35mm ID and a 40mm OD, cut from 6061 aluminum stock.  The tricky part was figuring out how long to make the spacers, because I only wanted one on each side.  So I took apart a bunch of old cassettes and stacked the plastic pieces up so I could set the chain line and measure the lengths.
It turned out pretty nice, similar to anything you'd buy from a company only this was free instead of $40.  The Surly cog and a surly chain ring are both steel should last a long time. 
I didn't really know what to expect when I took the bike out for the first time... Did I pick the right number of teeth?  Will my spacer kit work?  Everything ended up perfect. 
I rode 30 miles of single track at kettle moraine, and only had to get off for a couple hills.  The steep hills I was actually able to still climb just fine, the technical ones with tight turns in the middle are what got me.  I never got the feeling that I was "spinning out" while on the trail.  On the road the 32 front 16 rear gives me about 17mph tops.

The Macho Man is still running the same 2x10 setup, with a 46-36 front and a 12-28 rear, and that makes for a do anything gear range.  I have ridden tight single track with it, and done fast Tuesday night group road rides as well.  That is what I will be running for Trans Iowa, low enough for the climbs and high enough for the decents.
I had a blast on the single speed though, in fact I think that's what the Mariachi was made for.  Salsa just added gears so they could sell some more, but its really meant for single speeding.  I have never ridden a single speed before, and I came away really amazed at how much fun it was.  Just a simple rigid fork and single speed makes for a bone jarring and knee bursting good time!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Geneva Cross and Canopy Tours

Last Sunday we went to Geneva cross in Lake Geneva to watch.  It had rained all day, and I had never been to a cyclocross race before so I wanted to check it out.

When the riders would go by you could hear the mud and sand grinding away at their chain and cassettes.  Even with the sounds of grinding gears and squealing brakes I was a little jealous not to be out there.  I will be doing the cyclocross race in Woodstock on November 10th, its part of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup.

I cleared the can, once.
After watching the race, later in the week I decided to work on my cyclocross skills, in the front yard.  I don't know if I am good enough to consistently bunny hop a barrier in a race every lap.  I will keep practicing and just have to see how the course looks.

Today I wasn't planning on doing much of anything other than cleaning up from Evan's second birthday party, instead I got a text from Jay.  The conversation went like this...

The orange paint on this bike looks way better in person.  In the sun it SHINES!
    So I gathered my things and hopped on the macho man.  I'm thankful Jay got me off my butt.

With the road construction this side of the 4-lane road was open to me!

We went up to Canopy Tours in Lake Geneva.  They have mountain bike trails that twist around under the zip line tours they put on.  I rode up there on the road then road around with Jay on the offroad trails and took the road back home.  The All City Macho Man from Wheel Werks can do it all.

-David Swanson

Monday, September 9, 2013


            I have been looking forward to this race for awhile. I don’t typically do WORS races, but when it's just down the road and on an awesome course you'd be silly not to attend.

            My race would be about 90 minutes long which is a sprint compared to the races I usually attend.  I raced the Comp (Cat 2) which is one step down from the PRO/Cat1 racers.


Sprint, sprint, sprint! Straight up Grand Geneva Ski hill, started mid pack with about 20 guys ahead.

Crest the hill and fly back down, try to catch my breath without sucking to much dust.  Fly down a short gravel road and sneak past a couple guys.  Head back up the hill again and pass a few… try for one more and he closes the door on me.

Back down the hill, don’t touch those brakes! Carry that momentum back up the hill one more time… 4 guys ahead, one is wheezing,  bye bye.  3 more, one loses traction in the rocky corner.  2 more, I'm content with heading into the woods in third, then I find a way past this guy and I am in second.

Now the nerves are kicking in… this is where I want to be but not where I expected to be.  Keep pushing!  A couple miles of single track and we head into the rock garden, a popular spectator point.  People cheering, a guy with a super loud blow horn going off… somehow I am able to here Christina "Go David!"  She seemed to be caught up in it as well.

30 minutes in and lap 1 ends, time to start climbing the ski hill three times again.  Its easy though because I know after this I only need to do it one more time.  I see Christina again at the top of the climb, offering a fresh bottle, thing is that I haven't even pulled mine out yet.  I haven't even had time to think about nutrition or water or anything just GO!

Lap two ends and I haven't seen the leader since the start, I also haven't seen third place (thankfully).  Climb the hills one more time, I know if I push it over the limit here I can catch my breath in the woods.  I meet the relief of the tight single track and tell myself "just ride smooth and finish, you've got this."

Then BAM!  My chin was in the dirt before I even realized what happened.  My hands never left the handlebars to protect my face.  No time for pain just get up and get GOING!

Someone is catching up, I don’t recognize him… "is he in my class?" Who cares just don't let him by!

The finish line… Finally.

Good job, Daddy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Levis Trow 100

this image was robbed from Levis Mound

When driving up interstate 94 through Wisconsin you will notice that its basically flat land except for the occasional tall sandstone tower.  The Levis Mound Trail goes up and down one of those towers, it makes for some very tough biking conditions.  Long climbs and tricky descents with not much room for error.  The good stuff!

We got there early  Friday afternoon and set up camp, look close in the picture and you'll notice a goofball sending kisses to the camera.  I went and pre-rode the course which was awesome no doubt.  When I got back, Jason (race director) asked me to help setup an aid station.

As we rode out in his lifted jeep to drop off the pop up tent and water coolers we drove over this fallen tree.  Then on the way back we drove over it again.  After driving over it twice we decided to...

Haul it back as firewood for the community fire.

Then Saturday morning the race took off! #3 Lee Unwin took off with the lead and for most of the first lap I followed.

Dad taking off on his brand new spearfish.

Me leading at the end of the first lap
Toward the end of the first lap Lee missed a bridge and let me by but he stayed right on my rear tire the whole time.  I lead most of the second lap but crashed on a tricky climb and he went by.  He was nice about it though and waited for me to get back up, but I couldn't hold his pace any longer.  He left and I rode around the rest of the day in second place.

Then about 60 miles in I decided to quit.  I am still not really sure why, I could have finished if I wanted to, but I didn't feel like riding my bike anymore.  I was trashed, but third was way back so all I had to do was keep riding and get second.  At the pit stop before lap 5 little Evan came over and gave me a fresh water bottle,  I took it and did one more lap, but something about that little guy giving me the bottle made me not want to go out anymore.  So I quit and we packed up, went to dinner and got home early.  I train hard for these events, but for some reason at that moment spending time with family was more important than finishing second place.

Somewhere I read that it takes 3 years to get a "real" endurance built.  So I am hoping that next year I will be much stronger.  I know that I have improved greatly from last year but I am still not where I want to be.  I just gotta keep working.

-David Swanson

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day dreaming...

XXC mag is an online magazine that covers many different types of mountain bike racing and even some gravel races.  They post from the WEMS series and featured two stories on Trans Iowa in the last issue (xxc issue 18)  To order the mag go to....

The reason I bring it up though is because they posted this video of the Colorado Trail Race.  I have heard of this race before, but now that I saw this video it is on my To Do list for sure!

XXC also posted this photo of some bad ass old guys without helmets climbing dirt hills on skinny tires.  Tough Stuff!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Southern WI ride

Friday night I planned a route and printed cue sheets for ride through south western Wisconsin.  I went into work for four hours then took off at 10 am toward Mt. Horeb.   

I wasn't sure what to expect for the day, but after looking at the maps Friday I knew I was in for some good riding.  The good rides ahead were confirmed by all the cars driving by me with bikes on the back.  It seems silly to me that someone would drive a road bike to a road, then ride.  I prefer to just ride my bike there!

I passed a Walgreen's and a gas station in Stoughton, but I had a full bottle so decided not to stop.  That turned out to be a bad idea because by the time I got to Mt. Horeb I was feeling pretty bad.  The weather was perfect and there was only a slight headwind.  I was surprised at how many other cyclists I saw out on the road, it was crazy.

Us flat landers really got ripped off when the glaciers ran through the area.  The hills are what attracted me to ride in this area but once I got there I started to wonder... why?  It was constant rollers, climb up at 10 mph then fly down at 40, then back up.

The hills were taller than the trees.

Drafting combines in Wisconsin.  Seemed a little early for that.

150 miles including a couple lengthy stops took 9 hours 46 minutes.

            So it ended up being a great day on the bike.  I was pretty dehydrated when I got to Mt. Horeb, but got over it and by the time I hit New Glarus at mile 90 I was feeling really good.  90-150 was an easy ride, I need to figure out how to feel like that all the time. The new All City feels great and I can't wait to put some more miles on it.

        One thing I gotta say is that I spent almost 10 hours on Wisconsin roads and not once did I get my arm hairs buzzed off by a car, flipped off, covered in a black cloud of diesel smoke, or have someone pull out in front of me because they "didn't see me."  Nobody laid on the horn or yelled out the window, in fact they were more interested on how my road bike had disc brakes and wanted to talk about how my ride was going.  Wisconsin is a cool place!

-David Swanson