Monday, October 10, 2016

Dairy Roubaix 2016

 Great Scenery
Turns out I forgot to post about this ride! Back in the spring time I went up to Wisconsin to check out this ride. It was the week before Trans Iowa and TI just takes up a huge space in my brain and I completely forgot about posting the Dairy Roubaix.

It was my first warm ride of the year and I remember being pretty uncomfortably hot, and the crazy amount of hills did not help that at all. I started off in the lead group, they were pushing harder than I wanted to work, but it was nice to ride in a group and let someone else do the hard work. One of the fast dudes yelled out "who else is doing the 100 mile?" I said I was, and Jackson also was. I was shocked that the fast dude was doing the 100 because all he had were two water bottles and there were very few spots to refill on this route.

I was amazed that all these guys could pack so light. It really had me questioning my setup, until we got to the turn off point. This is where the 50 milers turn left and the 100 milers turn right. Jackson and I were the only ones who turned right. They pulled a swift one on us!

So now my new friend Jackson and I were leading the 100 miler. Turns out Jackson was also doing Trans Iowa the next weekend, we talked for a bit but he was riding strong and left me on a climb. I rode alone for quite some time until another rider on a trek went by me. He would later flat and I'd pass him back.

Photo by Mike, he almost busted me walking up this hill!

The hills on the second half of the route are no joke and it makes for a tough ride. I did end up catching Jackson again, at the very last long climb back to the state park where the start/finish area was. He was sitting on the side of the road, I asked if he was OK and he just looked at me with a strange look and was obviously quite tired. I couldn't wait long because I knew that dude on the trek was coming. I pushed as hard as I could up that last climb, but the cramps were coming on strong now. Trek guy was catching me rapidly. I made it to the state park and took a wrong turn on a roundabout and that was all it took for him to get by me. 

I pulled into the finish line area in second place to find that no one was keeping track of finishers at all, had I known that I would have hung out at the bottom of that giant hill with Jackson! That is the spirit of the brutal spring gravel races though, results don't matter, it is the experience that counts.

I'll be back to this ride for sure!

Photo Credit :

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Friday, September 23, 2016

10 speed to 11 speed hub conversion

So a separated shoulder has provided me with some spare time to dick around. The project? Convert the 10 speed rear wheel off my All City to an 11 speed wheel I can use on the new Cannondale.

The uncoated metal next to the spokes is the material I removed to fit the 11speed.
I disassembled the hub and removed the freewheel so that I could machine it on a lathe to fit the 11 speed cassette. Once I had the freewheel off the hub I could machine off .070" to fit the extra gear.

The finished project
All put back together I didn't even need to adjust the shifter cable. This will be my training wheel during cyclocross season. I did run into a small snag with my disc brake rotor being 160mm and the cannondale is set up for 140mm, so I will need to get a new rotor. Once I get the new rotor I will be able to swap between my race wheel and my trainer wheel with no issues.

Friday, August 12, 2016

WORS Report

I went for a ride today and saw a crow eating a dead crow. I thought to myself "that reminds me of our presidential candidates." I don't know how I got sucked into it, but lately I have been spending considerable amounts of time paying attention to politics. As sad as that is, I am happy to report that bikes are still cool.

My new Cannondale FSI - this thing rocks
I skipped the Eau Claire round because its a pretty far drive for me. Next was at Minooka Park, in Waukesha, WI. I showed up there with sore legs and it showed in my results with 24th overall in Cat1. It also showed in my training the following week. I felt horrible after that race.

Enduro Course at Cascade Mountain for the Midwest Mountain Bike Championships

The Midwest Mountain bike Championships is a 2 day event, so I packed up the family and all our camping gear and headed up. We got there and it rained for 6 hours straight. The race was a disaster anyway, but it didn't help that I missed my start. I considered skipping the race since I missed the start, but the way it works is you don't get any points for Sundays races if you don't race on Saturday. So I went out and suffered in the mud and rain for a couple hours and rolled in dead last.

I came back Sunday to blue skies and sunshine. The short track course dried up pretty nicely and was not a mudfest. It had some slick spots but that just kept it interesting. A short track race is very similar to cyclocross, and it is definitely short. 18 minutes of pain.

That was Sunday morning, in the afternoon we had the enduro. The idea of an enduro is a group ride to the top of the hill, then every 30 seconds a rider is sent barreling down. The shortest time to the bottom is the winner. It had rock gardens, some whoops, berms, stairs, single track, drop offs and other obstacles along the way. I had a really great time with this format of racing. There was a social aspect to it, as if we were all just hanging out. Once it is your turn to go down though, its balls to the wall. 

Got my first ever call up in La Crosse

Next race was in La Crosse, WI. I was debating on going because I am kind of a lazy turd and like races that are close to my house. I am glad I decided to go, that course was really great. You start off with about 3 miles of descending on a dirt road with heavy erosion. I honestly thought I was going as fast as I possibly could, and was fearing for my life, when David Carew passed me and several others like we were standing still. I can picture it perfectly in my mind, and I still don't understand how he didn't go flying into the trees.

After that long down hill we climb back up 2 miles of wide single track and hop out on a paved road. We take that back toward the start area and dive into the woods. This section was the tightest single track I have seen at a WORS event, very challenging at speed and all descending. Back up the hill again, this time with lots of spectators who were giving out marshmallow peanut hand ups. Then we head into some nice flowy single track. I don't know what my problem was in the flowy stuff but I lost time there every lap. 

I was finally able to break the top 20 with a 16th overall in La Crosse, which was awesome considering I have been stuck at 21, 22, and 24 up till now. I am starting to get used to the new bike, but I don't feel like I am using it to its full potential yet.

Next race is near Green Bay, WI. I may skip it depending on if I feel like making the 3 hour drive or not. I will for sure be at the Lake Geneva round September 11th. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Long Easy Day in Iowa

Bonk king and I were texting back and forth regarding our plans for the weekend. "I want to ride some gravel, but Dekalb is flat."  "Orangeville has the rail trails, but that isn't too exciting either." Then Bonk suggests we head to Iowa. Done.

So we headed out to Sabula, IA. If you haven't heard of Sabula, it is right on the Mississippi near Savanna, IL. FYI It is hilly there.

We rode out together, but split up after 15 miles as Bonk had to get back to air conditioning and big screens.

Add caption
It wasn't too hot, but I did go through a lot of water. I made two stops for fill ups, and kept plenty of food and water with me. I wanted to be comfortable, not hungry. 

B roads in the summer

Bellevue State Park overlook

I didn't have a route planned, but I did want to get 100 miles in. I was not in a hurry to get those miles though. As long as I got back before dark.

It was a good day.

Monday, June 20, 2016

2016 WORS Mt Morris

SS Gearing 34x18
21st Overall (pro/cat1), 2nd age group

I took the family with this week.  We got signed in and I showed Evan the kids course, he didn't stop riding all day. I had to stop him because his race was about to start. He had a great time. 

My race went really well too. I was concerned about gearing because there were some really tough climbs, but there was also a long section of fast open woods.  It ended up being the perfect compromise. I was suffering pretty bad on the climbs and still able to keep up in the open stuff.

Mt. Morris had some really technical and rocky descents, by the end of the race I was really beat up. I am writing this a week later, and my abs are still in bad shape. The low cadence long climbs really tore me up, then the fast rocky descents hammered it home.

The nice thing about running single speed is that no matter how bad you hurt, you can't shift down and go easy. So I just kept digging and ended up improving on last weeks result.

Top 20 isn't too far away now, the next round is in Eau Claire, WI. I have not decided if I will be making the drive up there yet.

2016 WORS Cam rock

SS gearing 34x18
23rd overall (Pro/Cat1), 3rd in age group

It had been quite some time since I had raced a Wors race, and I had some doubts if I belonged with the Cat 1's. I placed really well in Cat2 a couple years ago and decided to move up, and hadn't raced wors since. 

So it was nice to get out and run a good race, and get a solid mid pack result. It wasn't an amazing result, but it showed me I was in the correct group.  I have some room to improve, the goal is top 20 by the end of the year.

The race starts off with about 60 riders at the bottom of a big hill, everyone pushes hard to try and get into the woods. I have been bitten by this setup in the past, when you push way to hard and get out front then end up blowing up half way through the first lap. So I pushed hard but didn't kill myself.

I was happy with how things were going on the first lap, I wasn't getting dropped on the open sections and I was killing it in the single track. The SS rigid El mariachi is such a solid platform in the tight stuff. The 26lb single speed definitely has its disadvantages, but the woods is not that place.

On the second lap, I passed a geared bike and he was complaining when I spun out on the next open section. So I hit the nitrous button and pushed really hard, by the end of the second lap I was hurting pretty bad and had to take the 3rd lap pretty conservatively. On the 4th lap it came back and I was able to push again. I passed 6 guys on the last lap, and rolled into the finish chute. 

I was pretty pumped with how the day went.

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!